National & State Park Wedding Inspiration

Categories Ceremony + Inspiration + Reception

Majestic trees. Exotic wildlife. Rushing rivers and pristine ponds. There’s just something magical—and quintessentially American—about our national and state parks.

National and State Park Wedding Inspiration

If you’re still deciding on a venue for your wedding—or even your engagement session—it might be worth checking out our national and state parks. From picturesque backdrops to rustic elegance, each park offers an array of unique perks for today’s brides and grooms.

And since it’s Independence Week, we’re also highlighting another wonderful engagement/wedding venue idea: our national monuments and landmarks.

Perk #1: Stunning Backdrops & Photo Ops

Stunning Backdrops - National and State Park Wedding Inspiration

Glowing sunsets over horizons, lush greenery and treescapes…there’s no denying the amazing backdrops that parks and historic sites can offer. And, depending on the season, you can choose from a variety of palettes—from wintry whites (oh-so-romantic), and autumn hues to earth-tone radiance of spring and summer.

Perk #2: Built-in Decor

Allaire State Park - John Defiora Photography

Tree slabs, acorn favors…sure, these are adorable to use, but nothing beats the real thing! If you love rustic, natural decor, then a national or state park is perfect for you. With such a wonderland of colors, textures, and beauty all around, you can keep decor (or props, for engagements) to a minimum. And with Mother Nature providing all the decorations, you’ll be able to save loads of money (and stress!).

Perk #3: Indoor and Outdoor Options

Indoor and Outdoor Options for a Park Wedding

Whether your’e worried about weather (or getting a friendly visit from a bear), many parks and monuments offer both indoor and outdoor options for the ceremony and reception. (The same holds true for engagement sessions.) Many parks have on-site lodges, complete with dining halls that can be dressed up, or dressed down, to fit your style and taste. If you’re heart is set on an outdoor wedding, you can check with the park to see if tents, canopies, or other coverings are allowed on-site.

For more inspiration:

  • Check out National and State Park Wedding Ideasover on our website
  • Browse some of our past blog couples who have celebrated their engagement and/or wedding at a park, monument, or landmark:

Jessica and Darian’s Engagement Session at Allaire State Park

Allaire State Park Engagement Session


Marsha and Andrew’s E-Session at Dismals Canyon (National Natural Landmark)

Dismals Canyon - Amanda House Photography


 John and Dianne’s E-Session at Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Memorial

Washington DC Engagement Session


Hannah and Dale’s Engagement Shoot at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove Beach E-Session


Mallory and Cody’s E-Session at Fountainebleau State Park

Fountainbleau State Park E-Session


Hope everyone has a great Fourth of July!

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

 Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

Image Source:

Yosemite Valley Chapel, Kenny Karst/DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.; Winter wedding at Sequoia National Park, Dez and Tam Photography; Ahwahnee Dining Room at Yosemite National Park, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

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Doable DIY: Wedding Cake Toppers

Categories Reception + Wedding Decor

Doable DIY” is our new recurring blog series about easy, affordable DIY wedding ideas. We’ll be taking today’s top wedding trends and translating them into practical DIY projects. Let the creativity begin!

DIY Wedding Cake Toppers

They’re little. They’re fun. And they’re EVERYWHERE on Pinterest and Etsy. So, what are they?
Custom wedding cake toppers! But, what’s a bride (and groom) to do if they are on a tight wedding budget? Luckily, you don’t have to pay top dollar to top off your cake with custom cake toppers. (Say that five times fast.)

Today’s edition of Doable DIY will outline three easy and budget-friendly ways to create your own DIY wedding cake toppers.


Idea #1: Wooden People/FigurinesDIY Cake Topper Figurines - Megan Wendt Photo and Design


  • Wooden peg people/figurines (unfinished)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrushes
  • Fine motor skills ;)

Custom wooden peg people are adorable, but not always affordable for every bride and groom on a budget. If you have a little time, patience, and fine motor skills, you could make your own figurine cake toppers for a fraction of the price.

Etsy has some DIY kits available for very reasonable prices. Alternatively, you could swing by your local craft store and pick up unfinished wooden peg people, as well as some paint and paintbrushes. (If you have a magnifying glass, that might be helpful, too.)

For more wooden peg people inspiration, check out Mac and Chandra’s wedding, featured on the blog last year. Their cake topper is adorable!





DIY Cake Bunting - from Nous NousIdea #2: Miniature Bunting


  • Anchors – bamboo skewers, dowels, or striped straws
  • Rope – twine, yarn, or craft string
  • Bunting Material – fabric, patterned paper, seashells (it’s up to you!)
  • Glue and scissors

If painting figurines isn’t your thing, but you’re handy with some scissors and string, then you could try DIY bunting for your cake toppers. The really neat thing about this option is the breadth of options available! You pick the string, the sticks, and the material. You can really create something unique–a DIY cake topper that fits your personality and wedding style.

Budget-Saving Secret: Paint Swatches!

Head to your local home improvement store and stock up on paint swatches in your wedding color scheme. Cut them out into diamonds (fold over into triangles) or whatever shape(s) you like. Voila! Easy, *free* bunting.


DIY Cake Topper Idea #3: Monograms/Lettering

LOVE Cake Topper - Megan Daas Photography


  • Unfinished wood letters or aluminum craft wire (to shape your own letters)
  • Pliers (if using wire)
  • Acrylic paint and paintbrushes (if using wood) OR acrylic spray paint (Krylon is a good brand)
  • Glue and scissors
  • Wood dowels or stir sticks (to stick the letters into the top of the cake)

Joann Fabrics has some nice miniature wood letters for a very budget-friendly cost of $1.99. AND, since each set includes two letters, you can practice on one–and perfect it on the other. :)

If you love the look of wire letters (especially those lovely romantic script letters), you could shape your own letters together using aluminum craft wire and pliers. (Tip: Print off a giant size letter in a typeface you like, for reference as you shape it together.)

Last But Not Least: Get Creative!

From little LEGO people to miniature symbols of your passions (ex. mini typewriter), the options available for cake toppers are wide and plenty! Get creative and brainstorm some budget-friendly items that represent who you are as a couple, or a combination of your unique passions and hobbies. Look around the house–you might already own some items that might work!

Nostalgia is fun, too: Perhaps there’s a movie ticket stub from your first date, or a favorite photo from a road trip that you can put on a photo clip frame. Be creative, be inspired, be yourself!

I’d love to hear from other brides and grooms out there: Did you–or are you planning to–go the DIY route with your wedding cake toppers? Do you have any advice for those who might want to do DIY wedding cake toppers?


Happy Friday!

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings


Image Source:

Wooden figurines –  Megan Wendt Photo + Design | Cake Bunting - Nous Nous 



Goodbye Google Reader …

Categories Resources + Wedding Planning

Much to the protest of many, July 1st is the day Google Reader is going away–permanently. Are you ready for its retirement party? Have you chosen another news reader in which to discover, collect and stay updated with Truly Engaging and the rest of your favorite wedding blogs?

No worries if you’re still at a loss, we’ve got a few ideas for you.

Google Reader Retires


2 Easy Ways to Get & Stay Updated with Truly Engaging & the Rest of Your Favorite Sites
now that Google Reader is retiring:


1. Subscribe to RSS and get Truly Engaging using another news reader:

I’ve switched to feedly. One click and it was a pretty seamless export of all my RSS feeds–plus, it’s much prettier than Google Reader too! If you haven’t made the switch yet, here are 12 free recommended news reader alternatives to check out.

2. Subscribe to RSS and get Truly Engaging by email.

I love having most of my fave sites in one location {feedly} but I also prefer to receive some sites via my inbox. You too?


Do you use RSS to get and stay updated with your favorite sites?

{By the way, if you want to hang on to all of your favorite websites and data in Reader, you can download it all through Google Takeout.}

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Military Engagement Session with Props

Categories Real Weddings + Wedding Planning

Today marks our third and final in a series of couples using props in their engagement photos. We’re fans! From story telling to hobby sharing, using props gives your session focus, offers a sweet respite from awkward posing and simply adds visual interest to the photo shoot. Here are 5 reasons in favor of using props.

Head over Heels in Love. Today’s military-themed engagement shoot was captured by Blue Mason Photography at The Factory of Franklin, in Franklin, TN. Amanda and Theo clearly had a blast shooting photos and using all kinds of props–military and otherwise. Adorable through and through–Amanda and Theo were also kind enough to share some of their love story with us too. Enjoy!

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

ON THEO from Amanda

“After months of hearing amazing things about Theodore during my junior year of college when I finally met him, let’s just say it was not love at first sight! For lots of reasons (especially because I had just gotten out of a serious relationship), he just didn’t seem like “my type.”

I have never been more wrong.

From the moment he asked me out for our first date, I was hooked. From his quirky sense of humor, never ending patience, and endless love, three years later I am still head over heels in love with my soon-to-be husband! We have overcome many obstacles and military life resulting in a long distance relationship, but we both agree these trials have strengthened our love more than we could have ever imagined! Counting down the days until I become Mrs. Spanoudis!”

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military-themed engagement photos by Blue Mason Photography

Military style engagement session with props: Blue Mason Photography

ON AMANDA from Theo

“When I first met Amanda, I was at a low point in my life.  I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I had no clear direction–I was simply going through the motions. The night that she first came over to my house, I found her so intriguing.  She was unlike any girl I had ever met. She was genuine, opinionated, obviously fun loving, and most of all gorgeous. From that initial interaction with her, I knew I had to have her. The only problem was, unbeknownst to me at the time, she had none of the same feelings. My Spanoudis charm must have won over though because she agreed to a date with me. The more I learned about Amanda, the more inspired I became. She was so confident, goal oriented and responsible. I knew that if I was going to keep her in my life, I had to become so much more than I was. I had to become a man that was deserving of her. She became my motivation and my direction. She gave me goals again. I knew I needed to do something bigger than myself, something that challenged me, which led me on the path I am on today in pursuing my Green Beret. I fully believe that I would not be where I am today without the inspiration, love and support Amanda has provided me. I love Amanda for all that she is and I will happily and whole-heartedly, be giving every part of me for the rest of my life to repay what she has given to me.”

Military engagement photos

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military-themed engagement photos by Blue Mason Photography

Congratulations Amanda and Theo! Thanks so much for sharing your day, love story and of course, your service to the country!!

Photographer:  Blue Mason Photography
Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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