Vendor Spotlight: Celebration Sounds Entertainment

 

 

Celebration Sounds

 

 

Contact Person: Rick Hyburg

Email: Rick@CelebrationSoundsNC.com

Services Provided: Wedding and Special Event DJ Services

Website: http://www.celebrationsoundsnc.com

How we met Rick

For months we sought a DJ for our wedding and just couldn’t find the right fit for us. This all changed when our good friend, Mara, introduced us to Rick at Celebration Sounds Entertainment. After a few Facebook exchanges and a quick browse of his website and Facebook page, we eagerly scheduled a consultation with him.

The Consultation

When we first started our wedding planning journey, we both identified what elements of the wedding were most important to us. The number one thing on Melinda’s list was the DJ. So you can imagine how excited she was during this consultation. We were prepared. We even had a list of interview questions, as seen below, that we printed from our wedding planning binder.

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What really resonated with us about Rick was that he had a sincere desire to learn more about us, first. Before we discussed his services, we spent time learning about one another. He shared his professional experience, explained how this whole process would work and even gave examples of various success stories that developed our confidence in his DJing abilities. He was professional, engaged, funny and didn’t mind answering the 150,498, 239, 398 (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) questions Melinda had.

We knew we had found the right DJ

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This is our celebratory cabbage patch dance

On our special day, Celebration Sounds Entertainment, will handle the ceremony and reception music. We cannot share too much, because we want our guests to be surprised, but we’ll say this much… This will not be your Grandmother’s wedding ceremony and reception. And Celebration Sounds Entertainment is making it possible!

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Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Today is the last day of 2014 and we didn’t want to end the year without acknowledging our readers. According to our WordPress stats, our blog was visited over 490 times in 2014. Most of our readers are from the United States, but we have devoted readers from other countries like: Jamaica, Japan, England, Africa, Poland, etc. We also have 11 subscribed followers of our blog! And last, but not least, on our Facebook page; which you can find here, we have 271 likes!

What do we have to say about that?

And we mean it.

In 2015, we purpose to share even more of our journey with you. You can expect more vendor spotlights, more updates concerning our progress and even some wedding planning advice!

One of our biggest goals for 2015 is to attract more opportunities that allow us to spread our story across a larger audience. Beyond unveiling our wedding planning journey as a same-sex couple in the south; we want to reach those individuals that need to hear that it’s okay to love who you are and who you’re with, without any fear or shame. Basically, we just want to show evidence that love truly conquers all- our story speaks to that. So if you have ideas on how we can achieve this, like perhaps you’re Oprah and want us on Super Soul Sunday, then please contact us.

To each of you reading this, we wish you and your families, a prosperous 2015! May it be your best year yet! Thank you so much for playing a part in making 2014 such a memorable year for us!

 

Happy New Year,

Ciara & Melinda

Wedding Venue Where Art Thou?

Let’s preface this post by sharing some of the things we wish people would have told us before we started looking for wedding venues:

  1. Wedding venues are next-level expensive. And you will sincerely consider having your wedding at your house at least ten times before it’s all said and done.
  2. Venue shopping is a full-time job. And eventually all of the venues start to look alike.
  3. Buy a building. Yep, a building. Just think about it, you could rent out your space for special events and make more money for a few hours than some people make in a month. (Okay, I’m kidding, don’t buy a building. It’s not worth the headache.)
  4. Research. Research. Research. And start as soon as you can operate a computer. This should give you a good list of venue options that you can explore once you’re engaged.
  5. Master your poker face, because you will see venues that look nothing like what you saw online, and you’ll need to hide your initial emotions. Don’t let the shock show on your face.

 

Okay, now that we’ve covered that, we can share our weekend venue shopping adventure. It all started a few weeks ago when we compiled a list of two venues that we were interested in. To our credit, we had a longer list, but many factors like: price, availability, friendliness, distance, etc. shortened that list down to two. But we were unmoved, we were going to visit these two venues.

On Saturday, we voyaged to Concord to tour our first venue. And let’s just say, pictures can be deceiving. Luckily, we applied Tip #5 and maintained the highest level of professionalism. And although this particular venue wasn’t the look we were going for, we can say that the staff was kind and very welcoming. The next venue was in Morrisville and as soon as we pulled up to the venue, we fell in love with it. There were elements of both our personalities in this venue and, despite the price slightly exceeding our initial budget, it was all-inclusive.

 

We were ready to put down our deposit until…

We found out our wedding date was not available anymore.

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These memes say it best

So the wedding venue shopping adventure continues and we’re committed to finding the right venue that meets our exact needs! We have a few more prospects lined up and welcome any recommendations. We want to stay in the Charlotte or surrounding area, so just drop us a line if you have recommendations.

In the next few weeks, we’ll have a lot more to share with you. We’re working on a super cool project with our photographer, we’re creating awesome menu ideas with our prospective caterer and we’re interviewing great DJs to ensure that our wedding reception is a party you’ll never forget.  So stay tuned and thank you all for your support!

~Ciara

Saying “Yes” to the Dress, Part Two!

It may or may not be 11:38 PM on the day after Thanksgiving and I may or may not be huddled under a blanket sipping hot cocoa, surrounded by wedding books and binders. This also may or may not be the most excited I’ve been since Ciara’s proposal!

I’m kidding, it totally is! In case you haven’t guessed, I said “YES” to the dress today! (I’m on a roll with the yes’ these days) Oh how I WISH I could post pictures of me trying on “the one”. But before I get to talking about the dress, let me revisit the experience with you.

Thanks to all of the wise advice from those who participated in our last poll, I decided to go with the dress I loved and not shop around. I know, it might sound crazy, but Kristy (with a “K”) and Phaedra over at Classic Bride and Formals really made me feel SO welcome, they were SO down to earth and were practically looking for ways to give me discounts here and there. That kind of customer service really goes a long way with us. So let me share some pictures from today:

Clothespins bag

Remember the cute little clothespins I was telling you about in part one?

Entrance

Entrance (Click to enlarge and see all the lovely details)

Dress Room #1

Dress Room #1

The experience tonight was just as exciting as when I first went to Classic Bride and Formals except this time it was a lot quicker. I already had the dress I wanted in mind and I knew that I only had two concerns about the dress. So I came in with a written list of questions and made sure to get them answered before paying up. One of those included any potential discounts or sales that they could apply. Since it was Black Friday (or White Friday, as the wedding industry calls it) and I bought my dress “off the rack” they were able to give me the same discount as if I had purchased that first day that I walked in. “Off the rack” means that I bought the exact dress that I tried on. This was perfect for me because hardly anyone had tried on the dress, it fit me incredibly well, I was able to avoid any problems with the shipping timeline for the designer (which could’ve been 4-6 MONTHS) and I was able to get a discount.

Two new lessons from this experience were:

  1. Wearing a bra during while trying on a dress really does make a difference. Even minimal padding or straps can add bulk under the dress.
  2. Trying on a dress on the day after Thanksgiving also made a big difference in snugness that I didn’t experience before. :p Keep that in mind if you do any White Friday dress shopping.

Do you know what the HARDEST part of this whole dress shopping adventure has been? NOT showing or telling Ciara. She’s my best friend, y’all! It is SO hard not to talk to her about the features she’s going to like the most or the cut of the dress or even the accessories (and yes, there WILL be accessories!). Aaaah! But what I can tell you is that it may or may not be Allure, it may or may not be Ivory and it may or may not be a fabric that I would never expect to like! Also, it may or may not be a HUGE relief to have this part of the planning DONE! I’m just kidding, it totally IS!

Now it’s time to lock down our venue! We’ll keep you updated!

~Melinda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vendor Spotlight: Six Cents Photography

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Contact Person: Michael Dickerson

Email: Mike@SixCentsPhotography.com

Services Provided: Photography- Wedding photography, portrait photography, landscape photography, fine art photography

Website: http://www.SixCentsPhotography.com

How we met Michael 

Last week, our event planner and amazing friend, Jameka Whitten, CEO of JSW Media Group, shared a message with us from Michael that read:

“I’m offering discounted wedding packages to all gay, lesbian and transgender couples who want to get married and have had to put up with this inequality bullshit for so long. I understand that I may lose some clients due to this, solely based upon their bigotry, but those are the exact clients I do not want or need. If you have a friend or family member interested, please send them my way. Thanks and please share. ‪#‎LoveIsLove‬

2.5 seconds later…

We were on Michael’s Facebook page asking ourselves, “Is this real?” To our surprise, Michael had posted another status that read:

“**UPDATE the first gay/lesbian/transgender couple wanting to get married who contacts me…I WILL SHOOT THEIR WEDDING FOR FREE. NO TRICKS. NO GIMMICKS. Share that. ‪#‎LoveIsLove‬

It was on… 

We immediately sent a Facebook message and email introducing ourselves. And it wasn’t long before Michael got back to us saying, “Hey Ciara, y’all win, congrats!!!  I will contact you tomorrow and find out some more details.”  

We won, we won, we fainted (not really, but we were close)… 

When we spoke with Michael, we knew he was a God-sent. He took a genuine interest in us and making sure that our special day was special. He was compassionate, professional, kind. Our entire conversation with Michael was a breath of fresh air. And the truth is, people like Michael restore our faith in humanity. They encourage us, strengthen us and give us the confidence we need to live authentically. And here’s the beautiful part, Michael’s act of kindness is completely selfless. In fact, when we mentioned how we would like to spotlight his company on our blog, Michael emphasized how he wasn’t looking to gain anything from this. He saw an opportunity to use his position in the world to make a difference, to take a stand.

On our special day, Six Cents Photography, will provide all of the photography for free. And if you take a look at his website, you know the photography will be beautiful. But beyond the free photography, Michael has given us a gift that will stick with us long after our wedding day. He has given us confirmation. His act of kindness confirmed that no matter how much hatred we encounter in the world, no matter what people say about us, love always wins. And God will send you people, like Michael, as a reminder when you need it the most.

Setting Up Our First Wedding Registry

Where we’re registered: Target

Training: 

I don’t know if it was due to the recent death of Amendment One or just the fact that it was a Saturday night but I drug Ciara out of the house at 8:30 PM to set up our wedding registry! Like many engaged couples, we thought Target would be a great place to start. When we walked up to the registry desk I made sure to say that “we needed to set up our wedding registry” to avoid any awkward moments or confusion. The customer service lady didn’t bat an eye. While we were setting up our registry on the red phablet (Phone/Tablet, think iPhone 6+) there were options to designate ourselves as “bride”, “groom or “partner”. It seems small, but I was really touched by that. To me, it meant that Target was ready for us and we didn’t have to “explain” anything. We could just walk in, get scanner training and be on our way to a happy marriage. So, the customer service lady gave us a quick training on how to scan as well as what things we should and shouldn’t scan. So by the end of the training we were pros! The customer service lady sent us off with a heart felt (and kind of loud) congratulations and we were off,  determined to scan until our hearts were content, but there was only one problem…

We didn’t know what we needed

Let us explain… We have been together for 5.67 years (according to Melinda’s calculations) and have lived together for the majority of that time. So we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Last year, we moved into our first house together and purchased a lot of the items you traditionally ask for as newlyweds. Now that we’re getting married, we just didn’t know what to ask for. Seriously, are you supposed to get stuff that you would never buy for yourself because of the cost, or things that you keep forgetting to pick up, or just things that you REALLY need to survive, or just stuff that you want for fun? What are the guidelines, here? 

So we had a few moments like these… 

Ciara: Babe, I think we should ask for SoniCare toothbrushes

Melinda: Really, toothbrushes? 

Melinda: Oh! Maybe we should ask for a pack of air filters, we are getting low on those…

Ciara: Um, I think we can handle that expense. 

Ciara: Can we put a big screen TV on our list? 

Melinda: This is not a Christmas list, babe

So as you can see, your girls were struggling… 

But it wasn’t long before we snapped into our wedding registry groove. We shifted our approach to not only think about items we needed, but items we wanted as well. I think we developed a good system by asking for things that just “say” Ciara & Melinda. Things that you all would know were connected to our collective and individual personalities. So, we were finally able to shed the discomfort of asking others for something and started our voyage down each aisle.

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Eventually the scanner shut down and a message popped up that said, “Ya’ll are doing too much.” JUST KIDDING. This didn’t happen. All in all, we had a great time and no big screen televisions were added to the registry. Yeah, it was a lot of fun! It kinda felt like that moment when you have an extra paycheck in the month and you feel like you can get WHATEVER you want (muahahaha) and then you walk into the store and can’t really find anything you REALLY want to buy. So our Target Wedding Registry is pretty random and kind of light, but never fear, we are developing several options for your shopping pleasure! 

Next up- The honeymoon registry…

Our First Wedding Expo

“I wonder what it’ll be like.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been married before.”

“Do you think they’ll be nice to us?”

Our minds were filled with questions and our hearts were bubbling over with excitement. We were on our way to our first wedding expo! And we had no idea what to expect. Here we are, two lesbian women planning a wedding in the South, with no real clue of where to begin.

We walk up to the registration table and are immediately greeted, “Hello! Are you here to sign in? Please sign in here as we’re raffling away prizes throughout the expo.” “And who’s the bride?”

“Meeee,” Melinda eagerly proclaims. The check-in attendant gives Melinda a plastic diamond ring to put on her finger to let vendors know she’s the bride-to-be. (That would be a light up plastic ring, thank you ~Mel) We laugh and head through the double doors, so far, so good.

Florists, Photographers, Caterers, oh my!

Let me start by saying that you do not have to dress up to attend a wedding expo. Melinda got the memo, Ciara did not. Ciara looked like she was headed to work on Wall Street; Melinda looked comfortable and appropriately dressed for the occasion. (I tried to tell you, babe)

Back to the story…

We walk in and excitement immediately rushes through our bodies. “Where do we start?” Melinda asks. “Let’s just go around the room, starting with this florist,” I suggest. We walk up to the florist and there’s a moment of silence, then the owner approaches us, “When is your date?” she asks. I’m thinking, “an introduction would be nice, but whatever.” (I know, right? She did just jump right into it, didn’t she?) Melinda answers and the next few minutes of conversation is best compared to watching paint dry. We thank them for their time and put their information in our “Not interested bag”. (Learned that tip from bridal blogs. You bring a bag with you even though they will give you a bag. This way you can sort your flyers and information automatically and just recycle the whole bag of ones you don’t need when you get home.)

The next vendor was totally different. She represented a local wedding boutique and immediately engaged with Melinda. I watched as Melinda’s eyes lit up with joy as she described the kind of dress she was interested in. And, inside, I melted. I melted because someone, a complete stranger, made us feel like we belonged there. She didn’t care about our gender, she saw the love and that was all that mattered. After a few more minutes of conversation, she and Melinda exchanged contact information (Using my handy, dandy Wedding Business card – saves you from having to fill out a gazillion forms at the expos) and planned a consultation for Tuesday.  You should have seen Melinda’s face.

So much cake…

I am convinced that wedding expos should have a dedicated workout room for the guests who have one role- test tasting. See, I was given this role  (“given”, babe?) and totally missed that it was a setup. Melinda had a plan to pass all the calories to me, so she could keep that slim figure of hers. And, well, I fell for it. Okay, let me be honest, I didn’t even put up a fight. Everyone and their mothers’ had free samples of food and wedding cake, what was a girl to do? (That food was really good, though)

In between all the cake eating, we stopped by to speak with a photographer who was really excited about us getting married. It started like this, “Who’s the bride?” Melinda raises her hand and says, “I am!” She, in turn says, “Congratulations!” “So wait, are you two getting married?” We both say, “Yep!” And that’s all it took. She’s like, “AWESOME! I love same-sex marriages. We have worked with a lot of same-sex couples and they’re great.”

We spent the next 20 minutes talking about venues, our wedding date, her boyfriend and finally the various packages they have. All of which were incredibly high, like who pays almost $5,000 for a photographer? Melinda takes the information, hands it over to me; I put it in my “Not interested bag”.

IKEA has a baby registry too…

So we’re wrapping up the expo and decide to check out the Groom’s Lounge upstairs. This is the place most grooms go to have a drink and watch the game while their wives-to-be plan all the wedding details downstairs. This was our first wedding expo, so I chose to experience it all with Melinda. Right as we’re making our way to the bar, Melinda spots the IKEA booth.

And it’s over.

Two sweet ladies take her under their wings and start telling her about the wedding registry they have. I just shift my attention to the Panther’s game until I hear, “And we have a baby registry too.”

In my mind I’m saying, “Ma’am, you are out of control.” But I decide to go with, “Oh! Baby steps, babe. Let’s get married first.” The other IKEA representative chuckles, “That’s right, first things first.”

I had to laugh. Sure, IKEA is trying to take all of our money, but these two ladies were genuine. They, like everyone else we encountered, did not see two women getting married. They saw two people in love embarking on this lifelong journey.

P.S. – We will have a wedding registry at IKEA. But don’t worry, we only have two light bulbs on our IKEA wish list- we’re not hard to please.

 

In closing…

We walked out of the wedding expo cheesing from ear-to-ear. (Seriously, we tried 17 times to take a picture where we weren’t showing more than 90% of our gumsWe gave each other a high-five and said, “We did it!” As we got closer to the car, Melinda looked over to me and said, “We’re getting married, we’re really getting married.” With all the joy my heart could possibly hold, I replied,  “Yes, we are. This is really happening.”

 

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What we learned from this experience…

Love will do the work. Just be true to yourself and to the love you share with each other.