Archives: Featured Company

Ashley Kidder wedding photography

This week I’m profiling a very talented wedding photographer, Ashley Kidder. If you take a look around her website, you may start to feel like you’ve seen her work before. And you probably have, on the BE website! She has been helping us out for a long time now. From Union Station to Boulder to Denver photo shoots, Ashley has been taking excellent photos in a range of conditions.

So, for those of you shopping around for a wedding photographer – or if you think you might be in a couple of months 🙂 – here’s my recent interview with Ashley.

1. How would you describe your particular approach to wedding photography? What makes you different?

I don’t want you to feel like we’re taking photos. Being in front of the camera can be intimidating and make people feel uncomfortable, so I strive to make it as fun as possible. Keep it light, organic and breezy. My number one priority is for you to enjoy yourself in front of my camera; once I can achieve that, the photos will follow. Your positive experience with me is of the utmost importance.

2. What kinds of things can a groom do to look his best in his wedding photos? Any common mistakes that grooms are making in your experience?

Hands-down, a custom suit or a tailored suit is the best thing a groom can do to immediately up his wedding fashion game. Too often I see rental tuxes that don’t quite fit right — either they’re too baggy, too short, or boxy. Opt for a custom suit and you can rock it years after the wedding.

3. When searching for a wedding photographer, what are the important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

To circle back to the first question, your experience with your wedding photographer should be overwhelmingly positive, fun, and one of the top reasons you decide to hire them. Denver is ripe with incredible photographers with styles that span from moody-and-filmy to light-and-airy to clean-and-crisp; the talent this area sees is unlimited. Out of all the vendors you hire, your photographer will be the one you’ll spend the most time with on the day of the wedding. For that reason alone, couples should prioritize how they feel about their photographer not only as a wedding vendor but as a person. Like I said before — once you have that relationship nailed down with your photographer, the beautiful photos will come easily afterwards.


Reach out to Ashley directly at or via her company website here.

Phone: 303-915-1226

Dionne Event Productions, featured Scottsdale event planner

So, one of my current projects is building a wedding guide for those of you that live in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. What I’m trying to do is find the absolute best wedding vendors in the area, the ones that reflect the level of quality in service and product that you’ve come to expect from BE. And so today, I interviewed Dionne Washington, senior planner and owner of Dionne Event Productions and Dionne Design.

I asked her three key questions that I think a lot of you grooms (or soon to be grooms!) have on your mind when it comes to shopping around for an event planner.

1. [Ryan] Can you tell us a little bit about Dionne Event Productions? What makes your approach to event planning different?

[Dionne] Dionne Event Productions was founded by Dionne Washington January 4, 2016. In July of the same year, Dionne Design was born. Dionne Event Planning is our wedding and event planning service. Dionne Design is our floral, linen and event décor service.

Since our doors opened, Dionne Event Planning (DEP for short) has helped plan and coordinate over 15 weddings in just one short year. Being a new company, that speaks wonders about the confidence our clients had in me and in my team.

What makes us different is that our approach to our clients is service based. We remind them that we are at their service to take care of all of the planning that a successful event requires. Planning a wedding should be fun, not stressful! So we remind clients that hiring a wedding planner is so important and so valuable because they don’t have to worry about the detailed and very meticulous tasks that we actually delight in.
We also offer in-house floral design. This is a rarity and can be challenging to master in addition to wedding planning. But I am confident in my floral design capabilities as I love to meet with my brides, find out what it is that they want to experience and make their design vision come to life.

2. You’ve clearly planned a lot of weddings to date, what was one that really stood out and why?

Thank you. Yes I have had my hand in event planning even before I founded DEP. One wedding that stood out to me was a couple that wanted a flower wall. At the time, I didn’t have any floral experience and my florist on this particular wedding quoted them an amount they just couldn’t see themselves paying. Well, it just so happened that I wanted to learn about floral design and I was going to a workshop that was teaching you how to do flower walls. So with the blessing of the florist that was assigned to that wedding we gave it a shot! With the help of volunteers and family members we were able to create an amazing flower wall. It was at that wedding I knew that I wanted to expand my capabilities as a floral designer. Since then, I have booked several weddings as a planner and floral designer.

3. When searching for an event planner, what are the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

When a couple is searching for an event planner, some of the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for are:

1. How many weddings have they planned?

2. Do they have references or reviews on websites like The Knot or Wedding Wire since those reviews can only be made by real couples who booked the planner and reviewed the planner after their event.

3. You want a planner that listens well and makes sure that their main focus is to make your planning experience a fun and stress free experience!

Contact information

Reach out to Dionne directly at or via her company website here.

Dionne Event Productions phone number: 480.269.3379

Featured business: Celebrations Event Planning

So, this past week I got in touch with Pam Donaldson of Denver-based Celebrations Wedding and Event Planning. I wanted to ask her a handful of questions that I think many grooms are pondering. After all, just like wedding photographers, there sure are a lot to choose from. And I think that it’s important that you ask the right questions to help you find the best planner for your needs.

1. [Ryan] Can you tell us a little bit about Celebrations Event Planning? What makes your approach to event planning different?

[Pam] I established Celebrations 11 years ago. For many years, I was always helping family and friends with parties and events. So I decided to go back to school and get certified as a wedding planner and start my own company. I have built my business on the belief that you can have a beautiful, elegant wedding and still maintain some amount of affordability. I think one of the key elements is really understanding the client’s “ needs” for their event and then working closely with them to make sure that all the details are met.

2. You’ve clearly planned a lot of weddings to date, what was one that really stood out and why?

Over the years, I have planned many different types of weddings, but I have to say the one that stands out the most was my latest “Indian” wedding. There were so many moving pieces to this wedding which kept the entire wedding day just amazing. We started out with décor set-up of a “mandap” along with all the other traditional elements that needed to be worked into the ceremony space. Once the wedding got started we had a band of drummers escorting the groom down the street on a horse to the venue entrance. He was followed by his family and as he approached the venue, the bride’s family met up with them and they had a large dance party in the street. The ceremony was almost 2 hours long and incorporated so many lovely cultural details. Later, the party got started with catering, photo booth and lots of dancing.

3. When searching for an event planner, what are the most important qualities that a couple should be looking for?

When you look for a wedding planner, not only are you trying to find someone that matches up with your personality, but there are really 2 important elements you should look for in their service as well. Organization and attention to detail are extremely important. Most couples start the planning process anywhere from 7 months to a year in advance. Your planner must have a system to keep all the details in place over the course of the coming months. You start putting a vision together so early in your meetings and as the wedding day gets closer, all those details must be recalled so they can be incorporated to create your perfect wedding day.

Barton Watch Bands – Customize your wrist

Brett and I are watch guys. Although I don’t feel like we can call ourselves collectors just yet, between the two of us, we certainly have a nice collection of pieces. And being the well dressed men that we are, we carefully select our watches according to what we are wearing. There are casual and elegant watches – and everything in between – just as there are casual and elegant bespoke suits and shirts. Recently, we came across a very cool company that played directly into our addiction – Barton Watch Bands.

The company manufactures a range of silicone, nylon, and leather bands that work with almost any standard watch with a spring bar. This is great news for anyone who needs to replace a worn out watchband, but especially great news for watch geeks like Brett and I because we can now artificially amplify our collection! The Barton bands are so easy to swap out that we can do so in less than a minute.

For instance, if I’m dressing to impress with my French cuff white dress shirt and dark peaked lapel suit, I can grab the black and ivory band. Or, if I’m going a bit more casual on a warm October day in Denver, I can grab something a little more fall inspired, like this one. Two different styles, but with the same watch.

I got in touch with Zach Steen, of Barton Watch Bands, to learn a little bit more about the company and how it all started.

nato style watch band

[Ryan] How did Barton Watch Bands come to be? What was the inspiration behind the brand?

[Zach] Our founder was a longtime fan of NATO straps (nylon one-piece watch bands) and liked them not only for their comfort and durability, but also for how quickly they could be swapped in and out to match a particular outfit or occasion. He was never able to find straps that were designed quite the way he thought they should. They were all too long, the hardware was bulky and the selection of colors was limited. He knew there must be other watch enthusiasts that felt the same way and went ahead and designed our initial collection of straps.

Around the same time, smart watches like the Pebble and Samsung Gear S2 were starting to build in popularity and they helped the general public grasp the idea of switching out your watch band for different activities. So, we have definitely benefitted somewhat from not only the smart watch craze but also from the realization that it created for owners of traditional timepieces…particularly, that you don’t have to marry yourself to a single watch band for each timepiece.

nato style watch band

Some of the bands you offer are “NATO Style.” What does this really mean?

Nylon “NATO Straps” actually have a history that dates back to the late 60s or early 70s. The British Ministry of Defense was the first to use them as standard issues for their soldiers and later they were more broadly adopted by NATO troops. So the idea has been around for quite a while. However, our straps are somewhat different than those original NATO Straps. For example, traditional NATO straps commonly have two metal rings to secure the free end of the strap, whereas ours have a nylon loop to secure the loose end. As a result, our straps have a cleaner look that’s more appropriate for the office or a night on the town than it is for the battlefield.

nato style watch band

What type of watches work with your bands?

Our bands are designed to work with any watch that uses standard spring bars that are between 18mm and 24mm in width. This accounts for thousands of makes/models of both traditional and smart watches. It takes less than a minute to remove a band from a watch and less than 15 seconds to attach any of our bands or to switch from one of our bands to another. All of our silicone and leather bands have integrated quick release spring bars that require no tools to attach or remove. We also sell those same quick release spring bars for use with our NATO Style Straps. Thus, you can switch between the nylon, leather and silicone effortlessly.

nato style watch band-barton-watch-bands

What guidance can you offer on selecting the right band?

There are basically three considerations that come into play – the watch, the outfit and the activity. First, it’s important to determine the lug width of your watch, so you know what width band to purchase. Lug widths of most watches can be found online or you can take a metric ruler and measure the width of the watch at the point where the band attaches.  We offer bands in widths of 18mm, 20mm, 22mm and 24mm, all of which are very common. Thus, there’s a fairly good chance we’ll have a band that will fit your watch perfectly.

Next, you need to consider the activity.  Leather and nylon tends to be more popular and appropriate for the workplace and formal occasions, while the silicone is great for a workout or active lifestyle. From golfers to ER nurses and everything in between, our watch straps cater to endless occasions. Most of our customers own between three and four bands for each watch they own and like to switch back and forth between them. As mentioned previously, it only takes a few seconds to swap between them!

Once you know what type of material you’re after, you can move on to picking out colors. If your watch does not have any vibrant colors (for example, if it is some combination of white, black and silver) then almost any color combination will look good on it. Instead, consider your wardrobe as a whole as well as what other accessories you may be wearing in combination with a specific watch on a given day. Choosing a color that is present, but underrepresented in the rest of your outfit can really help pull the whole deal together. If you are wearing neutral colors, consider adding a little kick to the ensemble with something bright like red, pink or green.

On the other hand, if your watch has a couple of colors worked into the design of the dial or casing, we recommend including at least one of those colors in the band. For example, a watch that has tiny highlights of red on the hour hands will typically look great with some red in the band. On the other hand, if the watch has a lot of red in the design itself, you may want a little less red present in the band – just enough to complement it.

Wrap up

Brett and I have both been very impressed with the quality and affordability of these bands. You can also pick up some buckles in different finishes – something that appeals to our affinity for all things custom :).

Visit Barton at their website to view their full collection.

More information