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We all know how difficult it can be to select the perfect wedding gift and how much easier it is as a guest if the couple has given you some ideas about the things they’d love to receive. A wedding gift registry is the perfect solution to really help your guests.

But when it comes to gift registries, the choices today can be overwhelming. From traditional department store registries, to registries with specific retailers such as a travel agent or furniture suppliers, to a wide range of online options offering different features and styles. It can be difficult to know what is right for you.

At The Hint Registry, we let couples create an online bespoke registry with any gifts they can dream of.  But before you start, ask the following five questions to ensure you are getting exactly what you want.

1. Are we happy to receive gifts from only one retailer?

For many couples, it is important to have flexibility and include a wide variety of gift options. In some cases, not all of these gifts will be available from the same shop and they may not even all be ‘things’. For example, a couple may wish to include luxurious new linen, a couple’s massage and contributions to their house deposit. Modern, online registries often make this possible.

If you decide that you’d like all of your gifts from one shop or you’d like your guests to contribute to one gift, such as honeymoon airfares, be sure to ask the retailer what happens if you receive more money than you need. Generous contributions from guests can exceed a couple’s expectations. Some retailers won’t provide the excess funds in cash, instead requiring the couple to purchase additional goods from their store or take a store credit.

2. What are the costs?

Wedding registries invariably come at a price, but the fees and the method of charging varies significantly. Ensure you understand exactly what you and your guests will be paying for. For example, are their compulsory costs for wrapping and delivery of the gifts? Does the guest pay for this or do you? What are the costs of hosting an online registry?

3. Would we like our guests to purchase physical gifts or do we want to receive money so we can purchase in our own time?

Traditional registries, such as those from major department stores, enable guests to purchase a specific product. That product is then wrapped and delivered to the couple getting married.

While this may suit many couples, today, there are a variety of other options available. For example, some registries enable guests to contribute to a specified gift but then provide the couple with money, not the product itself. The couple can purchase the gift in their own time, taking advantage of sales or discounts and removing delivery and wrapping costs. This option is also perfect for couples who would like guests to contribute to experiences, such as a dinner at a gourmet restaurant or activities on their honeymoon.

4. Do we want the look and feel of the registry to reflect our wedding?

Some registries enable you to personalise the registry so it more accurately reflects the tone and feel of your wedding. For example, you may be able to add photographs or a message to your guests explaining how grateful you are for their contribution. You may also find that the appearance of a particular registry works better with the theme of your special day.

5. Can all of our guests access the registry?

If you have guests coming from interstate or overseas, consider whether they can access the registry before they arrive and whether different costs apply. Similarly, if you are using an online gift registry, consider whether there are older guests who may require assistance or an additional explanation of what they need to do. You might also like to consider how long the registry stays open. Will guests be able to make purchases on the day of, or even after the event?

Thinking through these five key questions will ensure your registry meets your needs and you successfully tick another task off your wedding to-do list!

Ms Chinoiserie Says: The idea of receiving money to purchase gifts in your own tie may suit you if you can’t decide on your selection now; but make sure you understand if there are any  restrictions so you don’t get caught out later.

About The Hint Registry:  Hi, I’m David, the founder of The Hint Registry, a website which enables couples to create a stylish, flexible registry for their wedding (or any other occasion) We started with this simple idea – for the most important events of your life, you should be able to tailor each aspect to reflect your personality and style. The Hint Registry enables couples to do exactly that – select exactly the gifts that they want, and give their guests a hint of what’s to come at your special event.

What are you looking for in a photographer for your wedding? If passion for the artistry of the craft, the willingness to go the extra mile, an eye for detail and the ability to deliver images that feel like paintings, then Chris at Blue Print Photography is your man. Images that remind you of the emotions you felt, the fun you had and the love that enveloped you on the day are forever precious no matter what life throws at you. And as Chris says ‘Photography is a means of capturing the present, to be viewed in the future, and, in turn, reminds us of the past.’ Let’s take a peek into Chris’ day.

Was photography a passion in your life for as long as you can remember?

Oh yes definitely. My mum was an artist and I was always surrounded by her paintings at home. As a kid, I always loved looking though all my parent’s black and white photos, and wondered about their life in Greece. At high school, I was wowed by the experience of seeing an image appear on a blank piece of paper in the darkroom, almost like an apparition. Photography has been with me ever since.

You are also a commercial and family photographer. What do you enjoy about these different aspects of your work?

The commercial side of my business specialises in architectural and interior photography. It’s a different way of shooting and seeing light, which gives me new creative ideas that I can bring to my clients’ weddings.

Wedding photos mark the first chapter in a couple’s life together. The portrait side of my business records the next chapter when kids join the family. It’s all about recording the ongoing narrative of a family’s history. I want future generations to look through their timeless, family photos the same way as I did with my parent’s black and white photos.

Who or what influences your photography?

Of late, Australian artist such as Rick Amor, Russell Drysdale and Jeffery Smart have been big influences. Their use of colour, light and contrast has gives me new perspectives for my couples’ weddings. I am also heavily inspired by the Australian documentary photographer Trent Park and the drama with which he tells a story with his images.

 

Why is capturing a wedding day in images so important?

Photography is a means of capturing the present, to be viewed in the future, and, in turn, reminds us of the past. Photos hold details, memories, emotions, and meanings to our lives. They are the only permanent record we have of the day, which makes having a collection of wedding images, in print, so important.

When do you meet with the couple?

The Initial meeting is in the studio, to get to know more about what they have planned, any themes and how they would like their story told.

Three weeks before the wedding we catch up to confirm all the wedding details and provide a running sheet. Then it’s their big day.

Once they have seen their amazing on-line gallery of photos, we catch up, in the studio, to custom design their artistic wedding album over a box of chocolates and coffee. This is usually done four to five weeks after their wedding. Also arrange Skype sessions for all my interstate clients.

Do you shoot the wedding on your own, or do you have a second shooter?

I predominantly shoot the wedding on my own as my clients are after my artistic, documentary style.

How do you plan the shots for the wedding day?

Definitely, after 15+ years of photographing weddings, I know some of the best and most interesting locations to shoot. I also work on an itinerary with the clients to ensure we have plenty of time at each location, which helps keep everyone relaxed and able to fully enjoy the experience.

My main plan of action is to always look for the best quality of light first and then document the wedding day as it unfolds naturally in front of me.

I don’t try to make introverts into extroverts or vise versa. I capture the natural relationship and emotion amongst all the important people on the day. It’s these hidden moment photos that compliment all the key shots, to tell the full story.

I will also scout a location before the wedding to see what the best lighting will be, and what wet weather options we have if it rains.

How do manage to be in the right place at the right time, on the day?

The variety of different religious and cultural weddings I’ve photographed, since 2004, plays a big part in being at the right place at the right time. Fifteen plus years of experience, constantly learning new techniques and what will work in a specific situation, is a big advantage for my couples.

My ears also act as my eyes at times. For example, when I hear a sniffle or laugh, while shooting, I quickly turn around to grab that shot of mum and dad getting a little emotional in the church.

You often do ‘grand shots’ using interesting angles, or the surrounds to add drama to the shot. Are details also important to you?

During the location photos I love using strong leading lines, dark shadow, silhouettes, reflections to create a dramatic backdrop. It’s these little details that make all the artistic difference when capturing a stunning scene. These are often the images that become an exciting wall art portrait, that couples are most excited about, and proud to display in their home.

What do you offer the bridal couple to preserve their photographs? Do you also provide image files to the couple?

I get quite nostalgic holding a printed photo of my great grandparents wedding, knowing that they have also held and enjoyed the same photo. This is why preserving a couple’s wedding story in print/albums is so important.

Yes all my couples receive the image files to make their own prints but it’s the printed album and framed wall art that takes it to the next artistic level. Each of my printed images are individually retouched with my signature style like the image below. Photos are printed, to an archival level, so your great grandkids will be able to enjoy them in the future. It’s also the amazing experience of feeling the paper and scrolling through the pages that computer screens just don’t offer.

The beauty a fine art album/print has over image files is that you do not need any technology, like USB, cloud storage, hard drives, to be able to view and enjoy the photos instantly.

What is your favourite time during the whole wedding journey from the time the couple books you, to delivery of the images?

Favourite time will always be photographing all the emotion on their wedding day. The next favourite part is delivering their final wedding album and seeing their eyes light up.

What do you pride yourself on as far as your photography and service is concerned?

Getting to know what’s important to my couples, how they met, and what they love doing together. I’ve photographed at the bride’s parent’s historic farm estate where she grew up, to the Carlton Football grounds where the groom went with his dad at the age of 5. The more I get to know my couples the more ideas they give me to capture photos that are personal and unique to them.

Couples remark on how you captured the atmosphere of their wedding. What is that special something that allows you to do this?

Simply always looking for the best light, knowing what’s important to them, and allowing their story to naturally reveal itself as I capture their day.

What are some of the strangest things you’ve done to get the perfect shot?

OK it’s standard practice to see me lying on the ground or occasionally climbing a tree, to get that perfect angle and shot. I once stood waist deep in salt water (the arch enemy of camera equipment), with very a very expensive camera. Well worth the shot and no, the camera didn’t get wet.

As a photographer, do you see the world a little differently from other people. What do you notice?

Oh good question! I always look at the lighting first, and often see beauty in the subtle details. For instance, the way light hits a subject at a particular time of day, can transform it completely. Take the late afternoon sun casting light onto a tree. It can be one of the most beautiful and surreal images. Then add the rules of composition and perspective and I find myself setting up photos in my head….even when I’m not on a shoot!

Do you travel to shoot weddings? Do you have a favourite place you’ve visited in the course of your work?

I’ve traveled around Australia to capture some amazing weddings. Place me on a beach in Queensland or a winery in South Australia and I am a very happy person.

With weekends and long work hours, how do you maintain a balance in your life?

Prior to having kids no, but now with a young family, I find it so important. As a photographer my hours are never 9 to 5, I mostly work evenings and weekends, but my job does allow me the flexibility to take time out during the week to drop the kids off at school and to be there for important events.   Any free day on a weekend we always try to make family day which usually includes brunch and bike riding. I’m just very lucky that my wife also loves photography and understands that it is important for me to do what I love.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Melbourne?

Well it’s the food, the coffee, the food, the coffee, oh, and it’s strong arts scene. Then there’s the amazing low lying light, we get, being so low on the globe, but that just me being a photographer.

Thank you Chris for sharing your story. Memories of your day are so important and sentimental – not only for you but for future generations. To find out more about Blue Print Photography visit the website.

All images by Blue Print Photography.

Six Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing Your Perfect Cake

Probably the most common thing I hear at the end of my bridal meetings is “Well, that wasn’t hard at all” which has always made wonder why brides think it would be hard? I mean it’s cake…. if anything it should be super easy!

So here are some tips and tricks that I think are super handy when picking your cake.

The internet is awesome. It is full of amazing cake makers and cake ideas – Pinterest and wedding blogs are a great way to look at designs from the comfort of your home and figure out what you like! Still can’t work it out? Write down all the things you don’t like – that is just as handy!

Technology rocks. Because of this, we have handy items like tablets, smart phones and lap tops, so we no longer print our photos and don’t have them in an album to look at. Instagram, Facebook, Flickr – all those fun things are great and cost effective ways for any business to showcase their wares without spending a tonne on printing and ultimately it makes it easier for you to do the ground work.

Not sure what you want? One of my ‘go to’ design tips is to look at the venue you have chosen. Does it have high ceilings? Then a modern tall cake would be perfect. Does it have low ceilings in a country setting? Then a classic shaped cake will match.

Once you have a shape, your canvas is ready to decorate. Fresh flowers are a great choice. I recommend always ordering extra flowers from your florist so that the cake will match the room. Bridesmaids wearing pale pink? Let’s add some water colours! Before you know it, you have a design that is simple yet striking and will complement all aspects of your wedding.

Texture goes a long way. Not convinced on a water colour number? Rough textured buttercream or horizontal lines create a simple but striking design that suits any venue, in any style.

Flavour contrasting. I am asked quite often what the most popular flavour is or what would I choose? As a rule of thumb, I recommend two contrasting flavours. What if you have a three-tier cake? Make the top and middle tiers one flavour and the bottom another flavour; this will give you an awesome (and practical )50/50 split. Chocolate salted caramel for one half, champagne strawberry for the other. Two quite obviously different cakes, one a bit decadent, one soft and light. That should easily cater for most people’s tastes.

Hot days. We live in a wonderful country that has pretty nice, warm days. But what about when it’s really hot? There are a few ways to battle this. One of them is fondant. Lots of people don’t like fondant because it reminds them of the thick marzipan and fondant laden fruit cakes from their childhoods.

But these days, the inside cake is something delicious like toffee and blackcurrant and instead of the nasty marzipan, the cake is sealed with a rich chocolate ganache. The fondant is rolled to a delicate 3mm thick and laid over the ganache. So by the time the cake is cut up into pieces there really is very little fondant on the portions and any outside pieces have a delicious bit of ganache on them! YUM!

Want it to still to look like a textured butter cream cake? Decorate with some royal icing, an old school method that I love. It sets hard, is striking white and perfect for a “just been frosted” look on a hot summer’s day.

Cakes are delicious. These days weddings come in all shapes and forms. Things are less formal, especially when it comes to the cake. There’s no reason why your cake can’t mimic your favourite dessert, or be covered in delicious things.  The most common request we receive is “I want to look at it and think…. I need to eat that.” Torched meringue, toffee drizzles, meringue shards, macarons. The list goes on.

I hope these little tips and tricks help you design your cake, and just remember, it’s your wedding day, Have some fun!!

Images by Miss Ladybird Cakes

Ms Chinoiserie Says: I love the idea of contrasting flavours – salted caramel and champagne strawberry sounds like heaven!  I’d definitely be asking for a second slice! 

About Gina of Miss Ladybird Cakes: From as early as I can remember,  I have spent my time creating things. As a child my mum kindly showed me the many ways of creating beautiful things out of nothing. Our room was always full of trinkets and objects made from anything we could find. Living in the country was a great treasure trove of creativity. As I got older all I wanted to do was help my mother cook dinner. This sudden love for cooking took me to the library where I found loads of big old cooking books. During my week I would take out the cook books and study them over and over again until I had rounded up three good recipes. A big trip to the supermarket later (out of my mother’s pocket of course) I’d spend all weekend creating the new treats. Usually a chocolate cake, a slice of some sort, and some cookies – maybe even a cheesecake, which my father enjoyed especially!