Thursday, June 26, 2008

Botanical Garden Reception

"In all things of nature there is something marvelous." -Aristotle

Check out your local botanical gardens. Many have several types of gardens - rose gardens, Asian or Zen gardens, English country gardens - that can serve as a beautiful backdrop for your wedding.

Some botanical gardens are ideal venues to host your wedding reception. They have catering on-site, liquor licenses and can accommodate a sit-down meal or a buffet and dancing. Other gardens may only offer permits for ceremonies or photographs, but have no facilities for the actual reception.

So before you get your heart set on a botanical garden reception, get the facts and go from there. Find out the rules that govern the site and if they fit within your needs - go for it. It will be gorgeous!

Since botanic gardens are generally open to the public, you may have to wait for your reception to begin after the facility has officially closed for the day. Does this suit your concept of your wedding? What can they do to accommodate the time of day you want to be married?

Make sure you know if there are preferred caterers, florists, or bands and other service providers who are contracted to work at this facility. Ask for a list of vendors at the outset to ensure you aren't working at cross purposes. Besides, the botanical garden vendors know the ins and outs of the venue and can guide you to make things easier.

If you are having the wedding reception outdoors on a patio or in the actual gardens, be certain you have a contingency plan set with the garden and their caterers to move inside in case of rain. Find out if you will need to compensate security, parking attendants and others for overtime or if these fees are included in the cost of the facility. Too often this is forgotten and becomes a huge unanticipated expense.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple and Stunning.)

    • Send invitations that feature some sort of flower motif
    • Stay seasonal - make sure you know what is in bloom and how it will reflect your own touches. Also make sure you don't have allergies to whatever is in bloom or you will be sniffling down the aisle or receiving line.
    • Arrange for potted plants rather than cut flowers as centerpieces and accent decor. Make sure that they are small and bright but ...
    • Don't over decorate - you have all that nature surrounding you!
      • Simple linens and table settings - white or pastel, solid colors.
      • Flower motif placecards
      • Shimmering candles on the tables to enhance your surroundings and not detract from them.
    • Make sure your guests get the chance to tour the botanical gardens during the cocktail hour - both indoors and outdoors.
    • Incorporate edible flowers into your foods. Sprinkle pansies and fresh herbs onto your opening salad.
    • Have a floral-themed wedding cake. If you are overlooking a rose garden, imagine how the cake will pick up the beauty of the flowers.
    • Serve sugared roses. Place a bowl of these petals on each table and give your guests a flowery treat.
    • Provide your guests with garden-inspired quotes on scrolls and small herb plants as wedding favors.
One of the great advantages of having a wedding at a botanical garden is that you can always return to the venue over the years and relive your special day in all the glory nature provides.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Decorate With Candles For Romance

Candlelight and romance go together like a hand in a glove. Candles are an elegant and cost- effective way to decorate the ceremony and reception areas, saving on the need for expensive flower arrangements.

Candles play an important role in many wedding ceremonies: unity candles lit by couples signify their union, while other candles are lit for piety and atmosphere. They all create a mystical and magical mood as well. This is especially true if the wedding is held in the evening amid the candles' warm glow.

Light up the evening with candles everywhere. Line the walkway to ceremony with luminaries. You can either buy a kit of pre-made ones or it's easy to make your own as a cost saving measure.

Cut out patterns of flowers, stars, snowflakes or whatever you like, so that the light can shine through the sides of lunch-sized paper bags. Fill the bags with about two inches of sand or cat litter and roll the tops to make a cuff. Put a wedding sticker on the bag.

Anchor a votive candle (and for safety's sake, have the candle in a votive holder) in the sand and set the bags at intervals the length of the walkway. Light them and you have a beautiful entrance to your ceremony site or even the walkway to your reception.

Inside the ceremony site, many churches, synagogues and mosques provide tapers and other candles so that the inside is just as romantically lit. Or you can line the aisle with battery operated "candles" inside luminaria bags at intervals to light your way down the aisle.

Before designing your candle arrangements for the reception area, check first with the management to see that there aren't any fire prohibitions regarding an open flame. If there are you will have to modify and purchase protective holders or candles in containers to keep the flames enclosed.

If you get the go ahead, collect pillar candles, tea candles, round candles and votive candles. Learn to use mirror squares, glitter, rhinestones and ribbons to reflect the light of the candles. You can purchase mirror squares and the other shiny objects from craft stores such as Michael's.
These make excellent bases for centerpieces. Set groupings of candles on the squares and wind opalescent ribbon in and around the candles. Scatter glitter and rhinestones all over the mirrors for a glittering effect.

Candle bridal favors are also a lovely touch for your guests. Place a votive candle, tied with ribbons in your wedding colors, in a luminaria bag (without the sand or litter in it.) Also put in a small wine glass to serve as a candle holder with a wineglass tag with your names and date of the wedding on it and a wedding sticker to seal the top of the bag. Put a bag at each place setting.

Whether you wish to celebrate your wedding on the longest day of the year or you just enjoy the enchantment of a candlelit evening, this decorating effect will cast a warm glow over all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Mid Summer Night's Dream Theme

A Mid-Summer Night's Dream.

Okay, it's my favorite play in the whole world. It's romantic, funny, set in a fantasy forest and everyone is paired off perfectly at the end. All the lovers are united each to the right person and the King and Queen of the Faerie bless each union. What's not to like?

It's also a perfect theme for a wedding reception.

Your wedding invitations should be less traditional and more personal in their approach. Perhaps a touch of gold and silver fairy dust (confetti) in the envelopes will add a touch of glamour to the theme.

As the bride you should wear either a Elizabethan wedding gown or a floor-length white chiffon dress with a long, delicate train. Choose a silver tiara for a headpiece. Make a bouquet of bell-shaped white flowers that cascades, accented with ivy or fern.

As the play takes place in the woods, take that as your main color scheme: plums, creams, muted greens and blues, pastels, silver and gold accents.

Bridesmaids should wear diaphanous chiffon dresses in these colors. Those with long hair should wear it down and entwine ribbons throughout hair while short haired bridesmaids can wear a ivy head wreath. Ballerina style slippers would be more appropriate instead of regular shoes.

The men should wear suits that would blend in with a forest setting. Try dark suits or tuxedos with brown or dark green accent pieces such as ties or vests.

Create a fairyland of your reception venue with live potted plants, grapevine leaves and muted colors. Place large bare branches wrapped in grapevine leaves in the plant pots. String small twinkle lights throughout the branches for a fairy light effect.

Create several small water features throughout the room. Buy or rent some tabletop fountains or place several containers, camouflaged by potted plants filled with water. Float some lily pads across the surfaces. Add some water-loving plants in pots around edges, and have them near the food stations for a relaxing sound of water trickling.

For your tables, cover them with white cloths and add a pastel topper. Sprinkle some of the gold and silver confetti on top of each table. Fill silver or crystal bowls with water and float rose petals and floating candles on top.

At each place setting have miniature scrolls with Shakespearean quotes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Also have some silk potpourri sachets to carry out the flower theme as a party favor.

As this is a light and airy sort of reception, you may want to have food stations set up between the large lit branches and near the water features. Lighter fare is recommended. Try a carving station for small sandwiches, a shrimp station, fruits and dip, breads, cheeses, veggies and dip, and a host of hors d'oeuvres.

Have an open bar, but include some Shakespearean favorites such as honey mead, fruit wines, beers, ales and lagers - along with the regular spirits!

Have a variety of small tarts and cakes for dessert on the table surrounding the wedding cake.

For the cocktail hour, hire musicians that can play the harp, flutes, lyre, and other instruments that were used in Shakespeare's era. Create that atmosphere.

You've earned your trip into the faerie woods, have a grand time playing there!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cost-Cutting On Wedding Invitations & Programs

For brides who have their eye on the bottom line, there are some really good cost-cutting ideas when it comes to invitations and wedding programs.

Purchasing offset printed invitations and ceremony programs are an expensive proposition. And you don't want to spend your entire wedding budget on these things - much better to spend it on the guests!

Sites like have printable wedding invitations, pre-designed, that you can modify to include your own information. Or as long as you have access to a good laser printer or a high-quality ink-jet printer, you can download your invitations and RSVP cards and print them onto wedding invitation blanks.

You can buy these blank kits online or at a paper supply store. The sets come with blank invitation forms, inner and outer envelopes, and tissue inserts. All you have to do is print that invitation you designed, address and mail them! You will save a bundle.

Creating and printing your own wedding programs is another excellent way to save money and put your own creativity into the planning.

I don't always see a program at a wedding and you are certainly within your right to not have one; however, there are several good reasons why a program is a good idea.

The program gives the order of the service:

  • Each attendant and participant is listed as well as his or her relationship to the bride and groom.
  • If there are any extra inclusions in the ceremony - a wreath for a deceased family member that is placed on a chair, an ethnic custom, or even the fact that the bride is wearing her mother's gown or veil are all interesting facts to give more depth to share with the guests.
  • The program publicly thanks those who helped with the wedding
  • It becomes a nice memento of the event for all who attend the ceremony.
  • On a hot day, with no air conditioning, it's a great fan!
You can design your program on a word processor or use a wedding program template that has a layout.

Print it onto parchment or linen paper. A nice touch is to either roll the program into a scroll and secure it with an ornamental gold ring or ribbon. Or you can fold it and tie it at the fold with a narrow satin ribbon in the same color as the flowers or bridesmaid's dresses

With a little effort, you can create your wedding invitations and program in style and no one will ever know that you saved a lot of money!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Fun Wedding Customs

The word wedding comes from the ancient Greek meaning pledge or vow. This is perhaps the most solemn oath you can take - pledging your life and love to someone for life.

As a result, you invite all to witness the event and you photograph it and put it in an album to remember it always!

It's serious stuff, and all over the world, there have been traditions and customs established to make your union not only sacred but also ongoing!

An African wedding, more than anything, not only brings together two people as a single family, but combines two families or even the mixture of two tribes into one family unit. The concept of family is one of the unifying ideas of the African continent. Even though there are thousands of different types of ceremonies including Muslim, Christian, Jewish and even tribal, the bottom line in African weddings is that when two people marry, so do their families!

In Japanese weddings, purple is the color of love and a young bride may choose to wear an elaborately embroidered silk kimono covered in purple iris flowers. Weddings are traditionally either Shinto, during which the natural spirits, the Kami, are called upon to bless the couple, or it might be a Buddhist ceremony during which two strings of beads are interwoven, symbolizing the joining of two families into one.

A traditional groom, getting married in Malaysia, might send children bearing wedding presents to his future bride. These wedding gifts include elaborately displayed trays of food with origami flowers and cranes, made with paper currency.

Marriage in Iceland is very serious business. Couples are urged not to rush into matrimony. Long engagements are the norm, sometimes lasting three or four years. When the wedding finally did happen in the old days, it was customary for the groom to present his bride with a gift on the bridal bed. Today it is common for the bride to present the groom with a wedding bed gift.

Traditionally the bride would be waiting for her new husband wearing only her bridal headdress, which her new husband would remove. Once the couple was in bed together the priest would bless them one last time and the couple would drink from the bridal cups to seal their marriage.

These days, many Icelandic brides are opting for a more US or UK style of wedding and not the 14-day extravaganza that is part of their heritage!

Weddings differ from place to place, but they all start with a promise of a new life together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't Make The Bridesmaids Hate You!

I've been a bridesmaid a lot and every single time the bride assures me that I will be able to "wear the dress again!"

Sure. And pigs will fly and the sun will shine at night!

One of my bridesmaid nightmares was a lemon yellow A-line long dress with a white lace yoke. Since my complexion is light olive, I looked greenish throughout the wedding. My aunt actually asked me if I was sick. Of course the bridesmaid who advised the bride on the dresses looked wonderful with her rosy cheeks and blue eyes, while the rest of us looked like we were going to puke!

And then there was the crinoline in polka dots that kept flopping up over my head, every time I sat down! It was very tiring to have to keep standing so my underwear wasn't on display!

But my all-time "favorite" bridesmaid dress was a pink ball gown dress. It had a full, round, layered chiffon over-skirt with a brown underskirt and poof sleeves. We also wore them with lime green floppy hats. I looked like a sick Hostess Sno-ball under a leaf.

Would you believe that they were made especially for us?

Ugly bridesmaid dresses recently inspired a movie - 27 Dresses!

Just once, I'd like to see a bridesmaid's dress that can be worn again!

Want to keep your bridesmaids as friends after the honeymoon? Don't make them hate you! Find a place in your vision to make sure that they like the dresses and shoes you are making them pay so much money to buy and wear. And for Pete's sake, pick out a dress they can wear more than once!

Plan a girls' night out and invite the bridesmaids to go shopping for the dresses with you. Make an appointment at a bridal salon. Inform them that you are seeking bridesmaids' dresses and that you want to have a selection ready in a certain price range. With bridesmaids in tow, have them look at the dresses.

Remember what looks good on a tall willowy blond won't necessarily flatter a short freckled redhead. Consider letting them choose their own gowns, maybe in different hues of the same color that go with their complexions or with a universally flattering hemline but different dress styles to suit their bodies - some women like sleeveless, others hate their upper arms and want them covered. Take their concerns into account and find the dresses that will stand the test of time - and your friendship.

Do not make your final selection at this time. Take digital photos of each woman in each style dress. Record style number, designer or company and other pertinent information. Go home and sleep on the choices.

After the dress excursion, go out to dinner and talk about everything that made you friends in the first place. Have a good time - and don't talk about the dresses! After a couple of days, call each of your bridesmaids and ask her for choice of dress. If you have bridesmaids from out town, send them copies of the pictures and get their input into the dress style. Once you have all the data, tally the votes.

Then you can make your decision. If all the women are happy, then they will joyfully walk down the aisle before you and make your day even better !

Thursday, June 12, 2008

All Dressed In ...

Remember when you were little, when you and your girlfriends would play dress-up with curtains as veils and be princesses or brides or even better, princess brides?

Wedding dreams are a staple of a young girl's fantasy life - and the main aspect of that fantasy is the dream wedding gown.

There are as many dresses out there - at stores, on the internet, bridal gown salons - as there are brides.

One of the best ways to settle these issues is to go on what I call a preemptive shopping expedition. Choose a day - preferably a Saturday, several months before the wedding - and make appointments at two or three wedding gown salons.

In order to have this be a fun day instead of a chore, invite your mother, prospective mother-in-law, maid of honor and even bridesmaids to a nice brunch and make this a festive way to get the wedding preparations started happily.

After the get-together, all of you go to the gown salons and start the process of finding the right dress for the occasion.

(Hint: this is a day to focus on the wedding gown, mothers and bridesmaids dresses should be done at another session)

Try on all the dresses you can - from slinky sheaths to the Princess Diana wedding dress type and everything in-between. This first trip should not be about price. (Besides, how often can you go into a shop and say I want to try on a $10,000 dress and be taken seriously. Enjoy the sensation while you can!)

As you try on each dress, have your mom or someone take a digital photo of you in the gown from several angles. Do this for every gown you try on, even if you don't care for it. You never know, you may look really awesome and not even know it.

Do not make any commitment to buying a dress until you have comparison shopped. Have all the photos printed. Post them on a wall or a bulletin board - somewhere you can see all the gowns on you in one place. Then you can determine what you want.

If your choice is too expensive, try to find a clone of the gown in a less expensive fabric, or with less hand-sewn bead work. Visit an wedding dress website and see what can be done. Even go to a designer site and see if they have the gown you like on sale (unlikely but worth a shot!).

Once you've made your choice as to style, fit it in your budget and go with it. Hopefully this is a once in a lifetime investment - you are buying a wedding gown - not just a dress!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Wedding Ceremony

This is the era of do-it-yourself. There is even an entire DIY television network dedicated to the do-it-yourselfer in all of us! So why not a DIY wedding ceremony?

From printable invitations to designing the order of service, programs, music, and vows, couples are opting for putting their own stamp on their weddings.

Many couples are choosing to have a secular ceremony officiated by a judge, mayor or even a friend who has been authorized to act for the day. Their services normally differ from the established weddings that are offered through churches or other places of worship.

The DIY wedding can be in a hall, a backyard, a beach or even a park. The key is what the couple chooses and how it meets their own vision of what they want for their wedding.

Couples often want to incorporate elements in their ceremonies that reflect their interests or their ethnicity. Some want to have theme-based weddings, such as a Medieval/Renaissance wedding or Celtic wedding, that include different practices than those that are acceptable in a religious location.

The elements that are part of a DIY wedding may include:

Wedding Music - This aspect of the wedding is really where the DIY couple can place their stamp on the day. Music reflects what the couple likes: country music, classical, traditional, swing or rock and roll. Whatever choice is made will set the tone of the entire day.

Music has traditionally been played before the ceremony as the guests are seated, during the processional and at the recessional. Some music is even incorporated into the service. Nowadays, the music selections are even listed and described in the wedding program.

Wedding Processional - This is where the bridal party makes it way to the ceremony location. This is often the most formal and grandest part of the ceremony. The officiant, the groom, the parents, the attendants and finally the bride, in all her wedding ensemble, march to where the actual ceremony begins.

Wedding Service - Even if it is a secular wedding, the officiant generally gives a few words of guidance and encouragement as the couple embarks on their lives together. It helps if the officiant knows the couple, since it makes these words sound more sincere.

Wedding Vows - While many couples still opt for the traditional vows that are seen in all the movies, quite a few are opting for writing their own vows. If you are not a writer, seek assistance for this, as you could ramble for quite a while and not actually say anything. A well-written vow can be moving, even funny, but it should always express what you are promising to your partner for life!

Special Elements - Here is where you can put another imprint on your day. Have readings by friends that mean something to you as a couple. They can be religious, love poems, essays or even original work.

Ask someone close to you who is musical to prepare a song or an instrumental piece.

Incorporate your favorite elements from traditional services, like lighting unity candles or having your parents escort you both down the aisle. Make these your own.

The key is to make this your own day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Simple Wedding

I attended a very simple, low-budget wedding last Friday that still had many of the elements associated with a more expensive and upscale affair.

This brings me to an important point: it's not how much you spend, it's how you spend it.

The wedding invitations were sent out, email and snail mail, 6 weeks before so we all knew the date was June 6. The location was a town hall in a small, central Ohio town with a reception to follow at the groom’s family's home.

Despite all the myths and stories about June weddings, the reality is that here in Ohio, you never know what to expect - especially weather-wise.

On June 1st, we had to turn the heat on and on Friday June 6th, it was over 90 degrees! So, of course the town hall where the wedding ceremony was held did not have air conditioning!

As we entered the hall, where the town mayor was going to officiate, two little girls handed out wedding programs. (The programs ended up serving dual purposes: they gave information about the party AND became handy fans!)

Luckily, there was a breeze – even if it did manage to set one of the candle arrangements on fire. Fortunately, there were some quick-thinking members of the groom’s motorcycle club who were able to stamp it out and avoid any of the other candles from catching the shades on fire as well.

After that excitement, as the acrid smell of smoke wafted all around us, my cousin and I worked out escape routes where we could grab his 94-year-old grandmother and exit the building! But that speculation ended once the processional and ceremony started.

I did feel for the poor bride though. Even though the sleeves of her wedding dress were short it was a heavy satin gown with a long train. It didn't bustle so she had to carry it on her wrist the entire evening too.

The bridesmaid’s dresses at least had spaghetti straps on them so they weren’t quite as warm as the groomsmen who were wearing black tuxedos, heavy satin vests, and leather hats! By the time the pictures at the hall were over, all the guys were down to shirtsleeves.

After a 30-minute drive through some lovely countryside, we arrived at the wedding reception site. There was a huge tent with tables and chairs set beneath it, and in the family barn/garage, there were wedding decorations – bells, flowers, small white lights, - and a buffet table with a nice simple meal and two ladies serving it.

A cake table held a wedding cake that carried out the motorcycle theme and there were three different flavors of cake available to everyone. There was a drinks area with cold drinks that were especially popular on such a hot day!

Even though the affair was simple, it had all the elements that make a wedding a memorable event and this wedding had its share of memories – the small fire at the hall, the bride’s dance with her father, the cake ceremony. So even on a small budget you CAN have a successful wedding.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wedding Customs

"Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue
and a silver sixpence in your shoe."

There are all sorts of wedding superstitions and customs. In this old rhyme the bride is supposed to incorporate all these items into her wedding attire and wedding accessories. It is all quite symbolic.

Something old represents the closeness of the couple to family and friends – bringing them along into their new lives. Something new is the couple’s new unity and happy future. Something borrowed is representative of the bride’s ties to her family often represented by an heirloom that preserves continuity despite her new state. Something blue means a touch of royalty, since blue bloods are royals, and the bride and groom are the king and queen of the day!

A silver sixpence signifies future wishes for wealth for the couple.


The reason that the engagement ring and wedding ring are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand is because the ancient Egyptians thought that the "vein of love" ran from this finger directly to the heart. In many parts of Europe the rings are worn on the right hand’s ring finger. Greek Orthodox ceremonies exchange the rings three times during the ceremony and they end up on the right finger, however, most couples switch them to the left as soon as the wedding ceremony is done.

Dress Color

Most brides today marry in white wedding dresses which symbolize purity and virginity. Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in white instead of silver, the traditional color of royal brides. This old English rhyme offered advice on dress color and let brides choose their own shade of dress:

Married in White, you have chosen right,
Married in Blue, your love will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Brown, you will live in town,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen, (except if you were Irish)
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink,
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

Customs are modified for each generation, but a little bit always stays to enrich great wedding traditions of the world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Unique Wedding Gifts

I just spent a frustrating couple of hours trying to buy a wedding gift for Friday. The bride isn’t registered anywhere. The couple is combining two households and starting a third one, so in some ways they are getting rid of "stuff." That is all very nice, but doesn’t help someone like me who is trying to buy them a nice gift!

I decided that getting them a practical or traditional wedding gift was not quite what was needed. So I headed over to Pier 1 Imports and decided on a piece of decorative glass, artistically designed. It can sit on a wall or on a table and, if necessary, serves as a nice platter for hors d’oeuvres. With a nice, personalized printable wedding card expressing my sentiments, it will do nicely as a gift.

Just think, if I hadn’t procrastinated, what a really unique wedding gift I could have gotten the couple. Besides money, there is a whole host of gifts that you can give a couple who have everything!

One of the nicest, most altruistic gifts is giving to a charity in the couple’s name. Sites like Changing the Present™ offer you the opportunity to give gifts that promote worthy causes like planting trees, educating a child or adopting a tiger to stop illegal poaching. Not just the couple will remember your thoughtful gift, but the causes they help will remember the gift too!

If that sort of gift is too esoteric for you, consider other unique wedding gifts, from a cubist picture frame to a personal bath caddy or hall gallery wall frame. Other gifts can be a gift certificate to an upscale restaurant or a night at a nearby bed and breakfast.

Print out a wedding moneyholder card and instead of money enclose "coupons" for services or promises of work to be done for the couple’s new home – painting, lawn mowing, planting, laying tiles, etc.

Give a "Wine of the Month" or "Fruit of the Month" club or some other monthly variety membership for 3 months to a year. These are gifts that keep on giving for months after the main event and remind the couple of your thoughtfulness.

If you put a little thought into it, you can come up with some terrific gifts that will make what you give the bride and groom something that they can appreciate for years to come.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Creative Wedding Trends

Getting away from money and travel for a bit, I thought we could talk about some of the more interesting trends that seem to be popping up for weddings these days. Couples are more creative in planning weddings and deviating from the “cookie cutter” norm of past years.

One of the most interesting trends is to create and print your own wedding invitations. This entails putting more of your personality into invitations, with the help of software programs and websites that offer ways to modify a design and add your own messaging. E-vites are also becoming a popular way to invite guests to the rehearsal dinner, engagement party, bridal shower or even to the wedding itself.

Another trend taking place these days is that more couples are choosing a midweek wedding. Thursday evening, Friday night or Sunday afternoon are becoming popular alternatives to the traditional Saturday wedding – and they cost way less too. I am going to a Friday wedding in a couple of days – I’ll let you know how that works out next week!

A wedding food trend increasingly popular at receptions are food stations. Instead of long buffet lines, guests can nibble their way through the party. Some brides are opting for all-dessert receptions or all-appetizer stations.

I was at a wedding last summer where there was a tent for cocktail hour, and there were tons of appetizers from which to choose, along with an open bar. Then there was a sit-down dinner, and for the rest of the evening, (the reception lasted from about 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.) there were food stations with desserts, chocolate fountains, a cappuccino and Greek coffee (a.k.a. espresso) station and, of course, the wedding cake. If you were a little peckish and didn’t want sweets, a station for additional savory appetizers was also available. This same family is having another wedding reception this summer and I can’t wait to see what they do this time!

Some couples opt for surprise wedding ceremonies. This is a particularly effective way to “pull off” a wedding without having anyone purchase gifts, or have all the other accoutrements a traditional wedding entails – bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, bridesmaids, etc. This is a great way for someone on a second (or more) marriage to have a wedding with everyone in attendance but without all the fuss. Many celebrities like Matt Damon choose this sort of wedding as it eliminates being stalked by unwanted paparazzi.

Trends may come and go, but the important things is that you put your own stamp on your special day. Weddings are for friends and family, but mostly, they are for you, so be prepared – do it your way!