Hello Productions Raleigh

Killer Events. Unique Style. Unforgettable.

Downton Abbey Inspired Wedding

With the drama and fashions of the Downton Abbey characters gracing our screens again, we can’t help but imagine what a Downton Abbey-inspired wedding would be like! Here are some fabulous ways to channel Lady Edith and Lady Mary on your special day.

PicMonkey Collage - high clere castle

Do you see a destination wedding in your future? Why not consider having your wedding in Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle! Highclere Castle lies to the west of London and while it is open for pubic tours, it is also available for private events and weddings. Brides can get dressed in on of the castle’s bedrooms and later dance the night away in the Victorian Library.


The castle and surrounding gardens are made available for the exclusive use of your and your guests. While the Highclere Castle requires a Downton Abbey-worthy budget (approximately $25,000-$30,000), Hello Productions would be happy to make the trip overseas to help you plan!



If you’re looking for something fabulous for your “something borrowed”, you will probably want to rent Lady Mary Crawley’s dazzling wedding tiara, the exact one she wore on the show. All the elements date back to the 1800s making this hairpiece truly vintage. It’s made up of yellow gold and 45-carats worth of diamonds. The catch? It’s available for $2,000 a day (plus a hefty $200,000 deposit).


Being adorned by vintage diamonds? Priceless.


We love vintage-inspired wedding dresses right now that capture a sense of romanticism yet are still modern for today’s wedding. These styles continue to gain popularity as more designers include cap sleeves, feathers, and lace details on their dresses.

Dresses by (left to right): Alberta Ferretti, Catherine Deane, Austin Scarlett (www.brides.com)

Dresses by (left to right): Alberta Ferretti, Catherine Deane, Austin Scarlett (www.brides.com)

While Lady Mary and Lady Edith had different flower arrangements for their respective weddings, they stayed true to a classic style that mimicked the whites, pinks and greens of the gardens. We think ranunculus, peonies, and pink calla Lilies would do the trick for this spring!


Photo sources: brocadenashville.com, www.spunkyrella.com, flowersbulbs.com

Photo sources: brocadenashville.com, http://www.spunkyrella.com, flowersbulbs.com

A wedding of this magnitude will need a spectacular cake. We love these vintage-styled cakes collected by Cake Geek Magazine in the UK. Stop by their blog to see these and more!

PicMonkey Collage - cakes

Last but not least, we can’t forget the festive bunting that was put everywhere! We love this similar lacy option by BaloolahBunting on Etsy.com.

Photo sources: emmalinebride.com, www.etsy.com

Photo sources: emmalinebride.com, http://www.etsy.com


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French-Themed New Year’s Eve Dinner Party

We love the idea of theme dinners and who doesn’t love to celebrate the new year!? If you’re looking for something special for this year’s New Year’s Eve, we have some fun French ideas!

For the table, use a collection of Eiffel Towers as centerpieces. For the first table, we used peonies to add a pop of color. For the second table, we used gold stars, pine branches and pine cones for a wintery feel. If you don’t have Eiffel Towers on hand, stores such as HomeGoods, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, and Pier 1, often have affordable French-inspired decor.

towers with peonies
towers with pine

For the menu, you will want to pick French-inspired dishes. If you have a small group, you may want to do a full dinner. If you are looking for more of a party feel, pick French hors d’oeuvres and desserts instead.

french food

Epicurious.com has a section of French recipes: http://www.epicurious.com/recipesmenus/global/french/recipes, such as these scallops, escargot, and French cheese pairings. We also love these quick and easy mushrooms!

Mushrooms Veronique

1 (12 oz) package whole white mushrooms
White seedless grapes, cut in half
4 oz Boursin cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
Butter, melted

Remove stems from mushrooms.
Stuff caps with one grape half each.
Top with Boursin cheese and dip in melted butter (or brush on melted butter).
Rub or roll in Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

There are so many amazing French desserts to choose from, such as Crème brulee, custard, éclairs, macarons, mousse, pot de crème, various tarts, and of course, French pastries. Since this dinner was held near Pittsburgh, we decided to save our guests from our lack of French dessert skills and ask La Gourmandine Bakery to help us! They were as delicious as they were beautiful!

2014-12-12 14.54.03

As for the wine (and it wasn’t a French dinner without French wines!), we looked to our local state stores to find wines that were pleasing to our palates and our wallets. Here are a few suggestions:

Chateau Graville Lacoste, Graves, 2013, $18.99 (White)
Domaine des Baleuttes les Coteaux, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, 2013, $10.99 (White)
La Tete Noire, Gigondas, 2012, $29.99

Don’t forget the French champagne to serve with your appetizers and desserts!

french table

This new year’s eve, fill your table with Eiffle Towers and French-inspired food to transport your guests to Paris for the evening. It will be a New Year’s Eve to remember and the perfect way to ring in the new year. Bonne Année!

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Our Favorite Invitation Websites (with Coupons!)

If you’re looking for invitations or announcements online, there are a lot of websites available. Most offer all kinds of customizable design layouts and the option to add photos and personalized text. These sites offer cards for every occasion, from wedding invitations and save-the-date cards to holiday photo cards and shower announcements. Here are a few of our favorites – we think each of these companies has something that makes it special – and perfect for your next event!

minted collection

Minted (www.minted.com)

Minted offers an exclusive assortment of holiday cards, Christmas cards, wedding invitations, baby announcements and many more cards sourced through their global community of indie designers. All of their designs are customizable and have add-on features such as envelop colors, return labels and corresponding thank you cards.

What We Love: Purchase customizable place cards and receive FREE guest name printing! These are a great option for an event of any size, from a large wedding or a small dinner party.

Right now: Enjoy 15% off wedding orders of $200+, 10% off $150+ with CODE: WED2014. Sign up for their newsletter or visit http://www.minted.com/minted-coupon-codes for additional promotional codes.

tiny prints

Tinyprints (www.tinyprints.com)

Tinyprints specializes in personalized birth and graduation announcements, birthday and shower invitations, and thank you cards. You can include your own photos or use one of their stylish designs.

What We Love: Tinyprints has a resource page (http://www.tinyprints.com/etiquette.htm) to help with wording, advice and inspiration on your invitations.

Right Now: Free Shipping on Orders of $49+ with CODE: FREESHIP49. Sign up for their newsletter to receive additional promotional codes.


Wedding Paper Divas (www.weddingpaperdivas.com)

Wedding Paper Divas (the sister company to Tiny Prints) is a great online resource to find everything from gorgeous wedding invitations and save the date cards to rehearsal dinner invites and response cards.

What We Love: Completely coordinate your invitations with personalized postage!

Right Now: Sign up for our emails and get $15 off your first purchase. Free Shipping For All Orders! CODE: FS14. And check back for Deal of the Day!

pear tree colors

Pear Tree Greetings (www.peartreegreetings.com)

Pear Tree’s collection of save the date cards and save the date magnets are uniquely modern and fresh in design, combining photos and the latest trends to let you create a look all your own.

What We Love: Their unique wedding invitations can also be customized with photos and your choice of over 70 colors to perfectly match your wedding colors.

Right Now: Save 40% on select wedding invitations with code WEDSAVE40. Sign up for their email sand $10 off your first order.

paperless post

Paperless Post (www.paperlesspost.com)

If you want to be completely paperless and deliver your invitations online, Paperless Post has some great options. Paperless Post helps you create online and paper stationery that reflects your individual aesthetic.

What we love: For the budget-conscientious bride, they have an assorted of free designs.

Right now: 15% off flat-printed invitations and announcements when using Promo Code CBHOLIDAY15.


Need help with invitations? Hello Productions can handle it! Contact us today!

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Tables, Dance Floors, Stages … What Size Do I Need?

When you are configuring your space for an event, you need to consider how many people are coming and how much space you have available. Knowing these two numbers will help you know how to set up the room and how many to seat at each table.

table sizes2Round tables
These typically come in four different sizes:
36” Round – Seats 4 people
48” Round – Seats 6-8 people
60” Round – Seats 8-10 people
72” Round – Seats 10-12 people
*Note that the lower number of people will be the most comfortable for your guests, but if you are working with limited space, the higher number will fit.

Rectangular (or Banquet) Tables
6’ Banquet – Seats 6-8
8’ Banquet – Seats 8-10

Cocktail Tables
30” or 32” Cocktail tables (typically 42″ high)
*There isn’t a formula for cocktail tables since every party is different – if you are having heavy appetizers, we recommend more tables, as guests will be looking for someplace to set their drinks down while they eat. If you are having passed appetizers and a short cocktail hour, you could easily get away with just a few throughout the space. </font></p>

Head Tables
If you decide to do round head tables or have a table with seating on both sides, refer to the guide above. If you are doing a long, one-side head table, expect to need an 8’ Banquet table for each four people. (For example, if you have 12 people at the head table you will need three 8’ Banquet tables.)

Sweetheart Table
Sometimes, the bride and groom will have a table for the two of them, commonly referred to as a sweetheart table. This is typically a small round (36”) table.

Cake Table
While this can be any size table, venues often provide or recommend a 48” round or half round to display the cake. If your cake is made up of multiple cakes or has corresponding cupcakes, you may want to secure a larger table to make sure you have enough room.

Dance Floor
Many venues will provide a dance floor and recommendations on how big it should be based on your guest list, but if you find yourself needing to contact a rental company for dance floor tiles, here are some tips.

Figure you will want 2-4 feet per guest. If you are expecting most guests to be on the dance floor, you may want to go for 3-4 feet of dance floor per person. If you have a group that likes to watch rather than dance, you can probably estimate 2-3 feet per guest.

For example, 20’ x 20’ dance floor should fit 150-200 guests comfortably.

DJ or Band Space
Don’t forget to calculate space for the band or DJ! A DJ can typically set up in a 10’ x 10’ space; but a band will need more, especially if they are a larger band. Ask for the size of stage or space they will need ahead of time so you can include that in your layout.

Looking for someone to handle the layout of your space for you? Give Hello Productions a call! We are happy to create a layout for your wedding or event and help you fit everything in!

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Wedding Chair Decoration Styles & Ideas


Often the chairs at the wedding are an afterthought, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget. However, there are all types of chair decorations for all types of budgets and styles.

Keep in the mind the length of your ceremony when you pick ceremony seating. Cute wicker ottomans may look great in pictures, but if you have a long ceremony, your guests may appreciate a more comfortable seating choice. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, keep in mind that dew or moisture may make cushions or pillows feel damp and a plain chair or bench might be a better choice.

We love the idea of having unusual seating, but make sure you have a plan for who is delivering, setting up and taking down the chairs. If you’re renting from a company, find out the specifics on what is included and if you need to have additional help for set up. If you’re borrowing or gathering the seating from family and friends, make sure you have a plan for all aspects of the set up.

For any decorations for the chairs, make as much as you can ahead of time. If you’re tying sashes on each chair, ask the venue if this is something you can do the day before. Otherwise, you’ll need to designate someone (or a few people) to help with this the day of.

While you have a lot of aspects to design for your ceremony and reception, chair decoration isn’t necessary, but can be a really pretty addition to your special day.

Need help with your wedding chairs? This is just one of the MANY things the Hello Productions’ Coordinators can help with on your wedding day!

Be sure to check out the Hello Pinterest page for some of our favorite ideas!

wedding chair in collection

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Fabulous Anniversary Party Ideas for Any Milestone

Know a special couple who will be celebrating an anniversary soon? Do you and your siblings want to do something special for your parents’ anniversary? Or are you recently married and you want to throw your own anniversary party? We have some unique and fun wedding anniversary party ideas to inspire you. And keep in mind that the Hello Productions’ staff is always available to help you plan and execute your event!

Source: blog.divaentertains.com

Source: blog.divaentertains.com

1st – Host a dinner party that is catered for the couple at their house. You can either hire a local caterer or have each couple bring a different course. Send the couple away for a few hours and make sure to set the table with all the dishes and platters they got as wedding gifts but haven’t had a chance to use yet. Watch the couple’s wedding video, look through the wedding photos and relive the fun memories from the wedding day. And don’t forget to secure a few guests to help with the clean up!

5th – Have each guest bring their favorite spirit and provide plenty of mixers, fun glasses and garnishes. Put out appetizers and put on some good tunes while you have each guest or couple come up with a new drink to celebrate the couple. As the host, take photos of each couple’s drink and jot down the recipe and any story the couple may share connected to the drink. Use a website like Shutterfly to create a cocktail recipe book, complete with photos and stories, as a gift to the couple. (You may find that it turns out so well everyone will want a copy!)

10th – Have a formal dinner party or rent out a restaurant for the couple, inviting their closest friends and family members. There’s a good chance there isn’t anything left of their original wedding cake, but ask a local baker to create a replica of their wedding cake. Supply them with photos of the cake and fill in any other details for them. Don’t forget to duplicate the shape, size, layers, decorative elements and topper!

15th – After 15 years, your guests of honor might appreciate a casual, backyard anniversary party. A barbeque or luau-themed party is perfect for including kids (and special pets) in the celebration. Remember those games you played at the bridal shower? Bring some of them back and include the guys and kids!

20th – For 20 years, do something unique for the couple (and maybe a few close friends or family members), such as a painting, pottery or cooking class. Many places will allow you to have a private party, pick your craft and bring your own beer and wine.

30th – After 30 years, it’s a good time to recreate the anniversary couple’s honeymoon. This could be at someone’s house or a favorite restaurant and include themed food and drinks. Find photos of them from the honeymoon and work them into the centerpieces or include them in your decorations. Did something special happen during their honeymoon, such as a musical serenade or a photo shoot? Hire musicians to serenade the couple as a surprise or set up a “photo booth” with the background and props to match their destination.

50th – The 50th is the “gold” anniversary and the year to go all out. Honor your favorite couple with a surprise party. Ask close friends and family members to help with the guest list. Have fun things around the room for your guests to look at such as:
– A timeline of the things they’ve done during their marriage (kids, trips, etc.)
– Facts about what things cost 50 years ago, who was popular, etc.
– A playlist of songs from the year they were married.
– Old (and new) photo albums
– Have numbered blank cards (1 through 50) and ask people to write their favorite memories of the couple

If you need help planning an anniversary party, give Hello Productions a call today! www.helloproductions.com

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Looking for More?

For more tips, tricks and event planning ideas from Hello Productions, visit our other blog at http://www.helloproductions.wordpress.com!

screen shot blog

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Real Advice from Real Wedding & Event Planners

Over the years, the planners at Hello Productions have experienced a lot … and we want to share a few of our favorite things about being wedding and event planners!

hello girls

Sometimes things go wrong…

“As the bride was about to walk down the aisle, the pearl on her earring fell off and went rolling down the hall. Since I keep superglue in my emergency bag and I was able to secure the pearl only seconds before she walked down the aisle!” KELSEY


“In a recent wedding, we recommended all guests park in a specific garage near the reception. We did not know at the time that the garage closed and locked the gates at midnight (the time the reception was scheduled to end). We as the planners spoke with the garage owner asking (begging) them to keep the garage open. They kept it open an additional hour. Guests never had to know the parking issue, and I learned to never assume parking is 24 hours!” NATASHA

“At a recent wedding, when preparing our escort cards to be placed at each guest’s seat, we realized that quite a few of the guests’ cards were missing from the printer. After making our list, we employed the help of the venue’s receptionist to create replacements for those cards that had been missed. The replacements were made in a timely fashion, and no one ever knew the difference!” LINDSEY

“At a recent wedding, I stopped by the venue before the ceremony rehearsal to drop off a few items. The cocktail hour room was set up completely incorrect. They had read the diagram upside down. We had to completely flip the room quickly before the rehearsal at the church.” COLLEEN

“This past summer at a baby shower, the host invited 70 guests, received RSVPs from 30 guests and expected no more than 40 guests to arrive. She mentioned there are always unannounced guests at her events, so we planned for 70 to attend… Somehow 80 guests arrived!! The party was at her home, and we ordered enough refreshments to feed an army! Every seat was taken, and we set up an additional seating area in her patio lounge area. The party was full and lively! I often remind my clients to order a little more than needed (seating, food/beverage, favors) in case unexpected guest attend.” NATASHA

“At a barn wedding way out by Ohio Pyle, the caterer did not bring enough linens and were just planning on using anything they could find to cover what they were missing. Even though they were miles away from the venue, I made them call one of their employees to bring the extra linens in time for the wedding.” ASHLEY

You would be surprised to know…


“I am often a psychologist as well, dealing with family elements that come up and making sure all issues are tabled the day of the wedding. I am often asked questions about bridal party friends and other personal issues that come up when planning a wedding. This can happen when planning corporate events as well when there are team members who don’t get along.” ASHLEY

“It’s harder than it looks! Most people believe event planning is fun and easy. In reality, working out the logistics of an event takes time, patience, effort and skill. Also, things inevitably go wrong and it takes quick thinking to resolve problems on the spot.” COLLEEN

“Most people think my day is visiting venues, shopping for streamers and tasting cake. What they don’t know is that there is a lot of time spent on my computer figuring out the logistics to make the event happen. Email and Excel are two of my best friends.” NATASHA

Outside of the logistical items and timelines we manage, the most challenging (and interesting) part of the job can be managing the personalities of the people involved (clients, volunteers, Board members, family) and the relationships between them.” LINDSEY

“The person most likely to go missing on the day of the wedding is the groom’s father! I’ve spent more than a few weddings looking for him before the ceremony, the reception, etc.” KELSEY

My favorite part about this job…

“Nothing is more satisfying than seeing people enjoy an event that you planned. I love making clients happy by creating a stress-free environment, allowing them to enjoy their event.” COLLEEN


“Having the guests of the wedding or event I’m working, not just who hired me, comment on how smoothly everything is going.” KELSEY

“It’s a great feeling to help our clients, whether a couple getting married or a business hosting an event, to achieve their desired results or enjoy the day they’d always dreamt of. We are part of some pretty amazing moments, and it’s rewarding to see our clients happy and feeling good about hiring a professional to help them with their event.” LINDSEY

“It is very rewarding to see an event come together and play out successfully. Obviously for the private events like weddings, the clients are so grateful since it is such an important event in their lives. On the corporate side, it’s always nice when they comment that not only was the job well done, but that our team was friendly and easy to work with as well.” ASHLEY

“The flexibility in my schedule. Even though I work around the clock, day/night and on weekends, I love creating my own schedule. I also love the social aspect of meeting ALL different types of people especially many of the creative minds in Pittsburgh. Meetings and events are always entertaining.” NATASHA

Advice for brides…


“Outside of all of the beautiful decor, music, and food, this day that we’re planning for is about the start of your marriage and celebrating it with all of your closest family and friends- which is pretty amazing. I know that it can be tough when there are so many decisions and stressful moments along the way, but try not to ever lose sight of that.” LINDSEY

“Have a clear vision in mind. Many brides tend to become frustrated and overwhelmed when they don’t know what they want. If you know you like a certain theme, color combo and overall feel, all the details will fall into place and decisions will be much easier.” NATASHA

“Do not stress about the small things. Determine what the most important element is and focus your money and attention there. The rest will get completed, but will not be something you or your guests will remember (this is different for everyone, but usually the escort cards, table numbers, programs, even bouquets are not necessarily items that people will remember).” ASHLEY

“Be sure to make your money stretch by making larger investments for things that will make a big impact. Instead of spending excessively on a favor, rent a photo booth and pay more for a great DJ.” COLLEEN

Advice for corporate events…

Colleen-Geletko-1491281 220

“Invest in quality food. People are more apt to pay attention and attend your event year after year if they are satisfied with their meal.” COLLEEN

“Stick to your planning timeline. Try your best not to backtrack and change your plans multiple times leading up to the event. This will only cause confusion and delays.” NATASHA

“Try to have the schedule of sessions prepared more than a couple of weeks before the event so that all detailed items can be put together with plenty of time to ensure accuracy, i.e. name badges, personalized agendas, room set-ups, etc.” ASHLEY

Advice for private events at home…

“BE PREPARED THAT THE WEATHER WILL NOT ALWAYS COOPERATE! I would go into it ASSUMING it is going to rain, and then plan around that. Also, be prepared to spend more on items that you will need – portable toilets, possibly a generator, fans or an air-conditioned tent if it’s extremely hot and to keep the flies away from the food.” ASHLEY

“Add accents throughout your home that tie in with your event. Since your home is now your venue space, add little items to side tables, restrooms, and mantles that are cohesive to your event theme or style. Also add special lighting or rental furniture to transform the space into a night to remember.” NATASHA

“Plan for the unexpected by having a friend or family member come beforehand to help deal with any last minute hiccups. You can’t finish dinner while running to get extra ice.” COLLEEN

Need advice for your next event? Let us at Hello Productions take care of everything. Give us a call today!

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Stay in Touch with Hello Productions

We want to remind you of all the ways you can find event and wedding planning tips, ideas and inspiration from Hello Productions!


Our Website

blog 2

Our Blog


Our Facebook Page


Our Pinterest Page


Our Twitter Feed


Our Monthly Newsletters


Our LinkedIn Company Page

wedding wire

Our Wedding Wire Reviews (Read and Submit one!)


Request A Quote

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Hello Production’s Tips for Choosing a Live Band

Studio e Band

Studio e Band

Tip #1 – First, decide if you want a band or a performance.

There are many different types of live music available, so consider if you want your band to play in the background, if you want them to get involved with your guests on the dance floor, or if you want the band to put on a “performance” for your guests. One way isn’t better than the other – it all depends on the type of event, your audience and the type of atmosphere you want to create.

Keep in mind if you’d like the band to help run the evening’s events; the Band Leader can help you create a schedule that corresponds with the band’s schedule. If you have any special requests, such as a song you want to have played or a special type of music, make sure to ask your band about your request upfront.

Also, make sure to confirm your choice with your venue, as some spaces are not idea for a band or performance.

Tip #2 – Select a band or performer for your audience, not yourself.

You and your significant other may be total hip-hop fans, but your wedding guests may not be ready for the club scene. If you want guests to dance, hire a band that will keep people interested. Think about the characteristics of your crowd. You may love the sounds of Motown, but if the majority of your guests are recent college buddies, they might need to hear the newer hits to get their groove on.

Tip #3 – Determine your budget.

Fees can vary based on the size, quality and experience of the band, as well as how long they will be performing, if they have to travel to the venue and if they have to rent any extra equipment for the space. When it comes to professional musicians, they deserve to be paid what they are worth. If you want the best, you will have to pay for it. However, if you need to select a smaller or less experienced band because of budget, don’t sacrifice quality. No matter what band you select, ask for references and see what past clients have to say.

Tip #4 – Visit a performance.

A lot of bands have past performances and demos online and some will give you a CD to listen to, but nothing can take the place of seeing the band perform live. Ask the band if they’re playing a public show in the near future or if you can attend a practice. If you’re working with an agent or wedding planner, make sure you have a chance to meet the Band Leader who will be your on-site contact the day of your event.

Studio e Band

Studio e Band

Tip #5 – Don’t wait to book!

Bands are often hired 8-12 months in advance, so don’t hesitate to book the band when you find the one you like. With weekend weddings and events so popular, chances are there will be other brides or clients looking at your same date. In addition to a contract, most bands will require a deposit to hold the date.

Bonus: Tips from a Professional Musician

We asked Kimberly Racan, owner of studio e entertainment, to share her tips for selecting a band:

“First, the best band for a wedding is a total variety band. This means that the band has a library of songs that scan the decades, musical genres and includes top pop hits. Second, the band should carry a front line of singers who each sing that sound (for example male, female, black, white). Third, always look at who controls the sound for that band. The best bands keep volume under control when it needs to be, toasts to be heard by all, and then kick it in for dancing. This involves using a sound technician who is NOT in the band! Remember, your band is like your bar: you serve ALL the drinks at your wedding … you need to have a band play ALL the genres of music!”

For help choosing a band for your wedding or event, email us at ashley@helloproductions.com.

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