Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Wedding Traditions and Touches

Last time we talked about some customs incorporated by American couples in their wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions. Here are some more that make your wedding day even more outstanding.

Irish Traditions

The groom is lifted up in a chair (called a jaunting chair) at the wedding reception to signify he is a married man. Often, the wedding couple is given a horseshoe for luck to display in their new home. A Claddagh ring - a ring decorated with two hands holding a heart and a crown above them - is the traditional Irish wedding ring.

Greek Traditions

During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom wear crowns of flowers or "stephana” as King and Queen of the day and their household. Their sponsor -- koumbaros (man) or koumbara (woman) -- places these on their heads. Sometimes these sponsors are the Maid of Honor and Best Man, or they are given a special role in the wedding ceremony. Inviting a man or woman or even a couple to be koumbari is a very serious undertaking. This sponsor will be a permanent member of your extended family.

Polish Traditions

Guests who dance with the bride at the wedding reception are expected to place gifts of money (preferably in money holders) in the pocket of an apron she wears for the occasion.

When the bride is dressed and ready to put on her veil, she stands by a mirror and watches her mother put it on for her. This symbolizes the last task a mother does for her little girl before she becomes a woman with her own life.

Scottish Traditions

The groom gives the bride an engraved silver teaspoon on their wedding day as a promise they will never go hungry. At the reception a traditional sword dance is often performed.

Hispanic Traditions

A large rosary or white rope called a "laso" is wound around the couple’s shoulders in a figure-8 during the ceremony to symbolize their union. Sometimes an heirloom mantilla is used in place of the “laso.” Three bouquets are used - the bride carries one, one is left at the altar to home the Virgin Mary, and their third is tossed at the ceremony.

Jewish Tradition

At the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, a cloth-wrapped wine glass is smashed as a reminder of the hardship endured by the Jewish people by the destruction of the Holy Temple in ancient Israel, and as a reminder of the fragility of love and marriage. As the glass breaks, everyone cries "mazel tov" (congratulations) and then it's off to the wedding reception.

Next time, let's talk about what customs you can create for your own traditions!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wedding Stress Management

Between money, time, and general expectations, weddings make most couples want to pull out their hair at one point or another. If you can break down where that stress is coming from, it will be easier to deal with. It's a given, from the choice of invitations to the seating chart, you are going to be stressed out. But here are some tips to help manage it.

* Everyone has an opinion – and wants you to act on it!

From day one, everyone – from your grandma Sue to your hairdresser Bruce, will want to know all the details of your wedding and will, without any hesitation, offer you their suggestions and opinions. If you don't follow each and every one to the letter, they will be mortally insulted.


Just remember - and repeat it to yourself whenever it just gets too much – "This is our wedding. This is our wedding. This is our wedding." It doesn't mean you can't listen to what they are telling you, just take it all with a grain of salt. And go your own way!

* Parents – Gotta love 'em -- or do you?

Parents have been honing their abilities to stress you out for your entire lives! It's one of the perks of parenthood, but to keep them from getting to you during the wedding planning process, head them off at the pass. Ask early if they are giving you money for the wedding and how much. This eliminates any confusion later when you hand them a bill and they go ballistic because you spent $5,000 on wedding favors.

Make the planning process fun. It is a wedding after all and supposed to be happy. Invite your parents (both sets if you like) to attend a formal dinner and planning session. Talk to them generally about style, location and when you are planning the wedding. From the outset – and do this with both sets of parents – determine how many people they will be inviting for your wedding.

I knew one bride whose mother invited over 200 people to her daughter's wedding. The couple didn't have any room for friends. They got to spend their entire wedding reception with septuagenarians who really didn't enjoy the rock band that the couple hired to entertain their friends.

Don't promise your mother something without running it by your fiancé first! One good way to get your parents involved and to get you out from under is to ask them if they would be willing to do some specific tasks. They can do price comparisons, organize hotel discounts, even help with color schemes and favors if you are willing to give up control.

The key to managing stress with the parents is to make them feel that they are part of the process and not a wall between you and your wedding vision!

Tomorrow – more stressors! Can you handle it?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ethnic Wedding Touches

Today, many American couples are choosing to incorporate wedding ceremony and reception traditions derived from their own ethnic roots or heritage in homage to where they have come from. It's a really neat way of incorporating the past (something old) into the passage of a new shared life together.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue

These American practices are meant to ensure a happy and lasting marriage after the actual wedding. Carrying something old and something new symbolizes a sense of continuity while the bride is making her transition to a new life. The color blue has long been associated with purity and modesty. By borrowing something from a happily married woman, it was believed her good fortune would rub off on the bride. Oh, and don't forget the penny in the shoe! It symbolizes good fortune and protection against want.

African-American Traditions

During the days of slavery when marriage was forbidden, a man and woman declared their marriage vows by jumping over a broom. This broom symbolized a threshold and the beginning of a new married life. To honor this way that African Americans consecrated their unions in the evil days of slavery, many couples are choosing to adopt the "jump the boom" tradition into their ceremonies.

Another tradition that has been revived hearkens back to the bride's African heritage. That tradition calls for the bride to wear her hair in intricate braids decorated with cowrie shells or pieces of silver, and for the couple to wear African robes in Kente or Aso-oke in colorful geometric patterns.

A third tradition in some African-American weddings today features the traditional rite of winding, plaited grass around the couples wrists to symbolize their union.

Asian-American Traditions

In Chinese traditions, the wedding color scheme includes a warm color to signify happiness. Since red is considered the color of love and joy in this tradition, the bride may wear a red wedding dress.

In Japanese traditions, the bride and her parents visit the groom's house on the wedding day. She wears a traditional ceremonial wedding kimono as her gown and may change out of it for the wedding banquet. Nine sips of sake are drunk by the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony, but they are considered married after that first sip.

Italian-American Traditions

A white silk or satin purse called a "busta," usually decorated with lace, is carried by the bride at the wedding reception to store wedding cards, wedding money holders, and envelopes bearing gifts of money. While some cultures find giving money as a wedding gift tacky or inappropriate, in the Italian tradition, monetary gifts are considered a thoughtful way to help the wedding couple be financially established.

Next time we will discuss more customs that have been adopted. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An At Home Wedding - Pt. 2

An at-home wedding contains all of the elements of a regular wedding combined with a party held at a home. So here are some more tips to make your at-home wedding a spectacular affair!

Decorate your home.

Adorn your entrance or front door with a wedding wreath. Add a garland to the patio or deck railing and personalize it with photos of both families. If you have guests who are going inside and outside, make sure the indoors are decorated as well with wedding favors, and small vases of flowers.

Decorate the bathrooms with flowers and candles in your wedding colors, and if you can have guest towels coordinated as well that would be an excellent touch. Use your wedding theme to determine your three-color palette and coordinate, decorate and enjoy.

Consider borrowing furniture and accessories.

If you are on a budget and are unable to get everything that matches, consider mixing a bunch of different styles. Especially for a casual at-home wedding, guests don't really expect you to have everything matching. Have an eclectic mix of tables, chairs, plates, silver and glasses. Just remember to list everything you borrow so you can return it to its rightful owner.

I'd take a picture of the item (for dishes and glasses, etc., a single picture will do) and have prints made. Write the names of the owners on the print so that when you are divvying up after the wedding you know what goes to whom. Remember you are responsible for any damage and for coordinating all pickups and returns.

Rent! If you can afford it - rent it.

It's much easier to call a party rental company for tables, chairs, plates, linens, silver and glasses than having to scramble looking for them. Many rental companies have garden style chairs and benches to enhance your outdoor at home mood, along with folding chairs, tables , fountains, etc. The rentals may cost more than borrowing, but you don't have to schlep things. The company comes, delivers, sets-up, and picks-up. You don't even have to wash the dishes, glasses or linens - the company takes care of it!

Move precious objects and clutter.

This way you won't have to worry about the accidental breakage of grandma's Tiffany lamp. Guests will feel more comfortable moving freely about the rooms. Take up any delicate carpets, and arrange for a place to put dirty shoes should the weather turn foul. You might even provide slippers if everyone has to move indoors! At one home wedding I attended, there were dozens of flip flops for everyone to wear inside - and we got to keep the pair we used.

You are limited only by how much you can imagine for your at-home wedding. You can go as expensive as you like – hire a local chef, cater the entire meal from a gourmet shop, or host a BBQ potluck with everyone pitching in food and drinks. No matter what you choose, keep it wedding simple and stunning!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An At-Home Wedding

For some couples there is no place like home when it comes to the perfect wedding celebration. Just remember that everything that is normally taken care of at a rented wedding venue - like a hotel, function hall or even specialty location - is now your responsibility.

Here are some tips if to help you along if you're having an at-home wedding...

Figure out your maximum guest count. Determine if that number will fit comfortably in your home or yard. If you are holding the reception outdoors and have the room for it, call in a tent professional to determine how the wedding could flow from indoors to an outdoor "room" such as a tent. See what your options are for adding this structure. Most tent companies will provide a complimentary consultation - and it will give you a good idea of how many people you can actually invite.

Check your power. Make sure that you will have enough power for live music or extra lighting. Don't blow a fuse at the wedding -- have a professional electrician check it out first and let you know where you stand.

Check with your city regarding live music, assembly, garbage disposal, tent erection and other ordinances. Call your local departments and make sure you are in compliance with all laws and regulations. Know what time noise becomes a nuisance. You don't want a police raid just as you are about to throw the bouquet.

Ensure that there is enough parking! Check with the neighbors to see if your guests may use their driveways or consider a valet service. The valet can keep track of the cars, and where they are parked, and be able to bring them for the guests when they are ready to leave. At one at-home wedding I attended, the couple had arranged with a small van service to shuttle guests back and forth between a public parking lot two blocks away and the home.

Another good point here is that if you have neighbors who might be annoyed about your wedding celebration, invite them to the wedding. This way they are part of the event and won't be bothered. Even if they don't attend, you've made the gesture and created goodwill so that you can relax and celebrate.

Just remember that although you are holding the wedding at home, doesn’t mean that you have to provide homemade everything – or even anything. Decide what you want your level of involvement to be as far as preparation, set-up and service and then make plans to suit your budget, your wishes and your time. The point of this type of wedding is to keep it easy and relaxed.

Tomorrow, we will talk about more at home tips that you can use for your wedding celebrations!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wedding Reception Sites

We've talked about keeping your wedding simple and stunning. But those elements can translate to all sorts of venues.

Make a list of the different sorts of venues you have in your area that would be perfect for your reception. Consider estates or historic mansions if they are available, or observatories, museums, botanical gardens, country inns or theaters. Don't forget marinas, ball fields, or other spots connected to hobbies. We have an old ore steamer around for lease as well - with an outstanding caterer offering wonderful wedding feasts! Your venues are limited only by your imagination.

Visit each site you are considering and take a photo. Have photo prints made and then compare each locale. (Make sure these prints are at least 8 x 10 each so you can really see what you are getting)

List the pros and cons for each venue. For instance, if you or your caterer has to schlep all your wedding decorations, wedding favors, tables, chairs, tents, etc., into a remote but beautiful venue, determine what it will add to your wedding budget and if it is worth it!

My cousin had his wedding in a renovated 1930's movie palace lobby with a gorgeous staircase leading down from the mezzanine. It was the first time this site had ever been used for a wedding - now it's a regular occurrence. The caterers had to set tables all around the mezzanine for dinner, however they used the lobby floor as the dance floor.

For the bar, every time someone needed a drink, you had to traipse up and down the grand staircase. If he were to hold it there now, he would have rearranged the site so that there were two bars, or just held everything on one level.

All this doesn't mean that you can't hold your reception in a usual location - function halls, hotels, or country clubs. These are still the most popular venues for wedding receptions. Just remember that during the peak wedding months of April through October, competition for these wedding sites can be really fierce and you may not get your first choice for your wedding day.

If you are holding your wedding during this time period, plan on looking for your reception sites at least a year in advance. Put a reminder on your calendar as soon as you are engaged to determine the date and location!

When you hold a wedding reception at an unusual venue, odds are that you will pay a bit more to secure these non-traditional sites, but their availability may be more in keeping with your calendar.

Just remember that if your venue is outdoors, having a contingency plan - usually a large tent - is necessary to ensure a place to go if there are weather issues. I remember attending a wedding held at a lovely park, the day after a massive thunderstorm. Everyone was sinking in the mud - a situation that would have been alleviated had there been a tent with a dance floor.

Odds are that a non-traditional venue will make your wedding as unique. Just be sure to weigh the cost against all that you will or will not get for your money. In unusual settings, the venue won't be a backdrop to your wedding, but an integral part of your reception. Make sure it makes a statement about who you are as a couple and what you are expecting from your life together!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Let Them Eat Wedding Cake!

The wedding cake originated in ancient cultures as a fertility rite for the newlyweds. Grain was originally offered to the Gods, but it eventually evolved into baking cakes that were crumbled and broken over a bride's head to ensure her successful childbearing. The ancient Romans dictated that when her father gave a bride to the groom, they shared a ceremonial barley cake dedicated to the head god, Jupiter.

We have come a long way from those barley cake days. We've even gone past the days of a vanilla cake with white icing. Selecting a wedding cake is now an integral part of the wedding planning process. Today's brides are selecting wedding cakes with style, imagination, and verve. It's not unusual to find a deep chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse and raspberries.

Wedding cakes are coordinated with the wedding theme. They are also expensive so they need to be part of the wedding budget from the start. The number of guests determines the size and cost of the wedding cake. Also know that the most basic flavors are less expensive than more exotic types. So keep these thoughts in mind as you go forth to order that special wedding cake!

The best way to choose a wedding cake is to go and have a tasting with your baker. Invite your fiancé, the mothers, and your maid of honor to accompany you so that you have several opinions about the flavor of the wedding cake and type of frosting. You might also want to consider bringing along the dads as well, since they should get to enjoy some of the pre-wedding festivities - and usually like wedding cake!

There are several questions that you should ask your baker besides the price of each slice.

1) Will the bakery make a vegan or sugar-free wedding cake for those with dietary restrictions?

2) Does the bakery have references as well as pictures of previous wedding cakes?

3) What ingredients will be used? What type of frostings and flavors are available?

4) What does the baker need to know from the wedding couple?

5) What services are included - will the cake be delivered, is there a wedding cake knife included?

6) How soon does the cake need to be ordered to ensure delivery on time?

If you have a hard time determining your favorite flavor of wedding cake or your advisers are also confused, consider choosing several compatible flavors in separate layers and let the guests choose the type of wedding cake they prefer.

A popular custom - especially in Southern weddings - is a groom's cake. This wedding cake is usually designed along the lines of the groom's personality - sports, fraternity letters, vocation, etc - and is usually smaller than the bride's wedding cake.

You can have the groom's cake alongside the wedding cake or present it to the groom at the wedding rehearsal dinner as that is traditionally when the groom's family takes over the evening. Another nice custom is if the bride's wedding cake is served after the meal at the reception, the groom's cake is cut and placed into small gift boxes and given to the guests to take home.

There are a lot of wedding cake traditions and stories, and in future blogs we will deal with more of them. So bring on the wedding cake!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Keep it Simple and Stunning 3 - Some final tips

Over the past several days I've been talking about keeping it simple and stunning -- that is, your wedding, of course! Here are a few final thoughts on focusing on simplicity in your wedding design.

Simple weddings should have a unifying theme.

Whether you use color, a culinary focus, ethnic customs, a Celtic knot or a Zen garden, choosing a central theme that works in your setting is a guarantee of a more harmonious mood for your wedding celebration.

A wedding focused around a Celtic knot may have all sorts of variations of a Celtic theme. You could carry out your simple 1-2-3 colors in various shades of green, serve Irish soda bread hors d'oeuvres and concentrate on Celtic music.

A Zen-style wedding might feature an invitation printed on rice paper, or a sake and sushi cocktail. You could have floating orchids on the tables and wedding party favors of Asian candles, and packages of green tea.

When all the design choices fall into line with an overall theme, from fonts to foods, the result is not only more appealing, but it also simplifies the planning process.

Know your design priorities.

The possibilities in designing a wedding setting seem endless. Too many choices and you can go into design overload! Make wedding checklists of the things that are MOST important to you as far as your wedding is concerned. Flowers? Music? Food? It is sometimes really hard to choose and every couple feels differently about which details are most crucial.

(Hint: The wedding planner book may look whimsical, but it is the contents that are key. Have one for your spouse and another for your main assistant and that way you are all on the same page!)

Write down your priorities and stick to them every step of the way. Discuss your priorities up front with each of your vendors at the very first meeting! Make sure they understand what you are seeking, and are willing to provide it for you. If not, find another vendor!

Use your setting as your reference point. Don't try to make it something it is not. If you are holding your wedding reception in an industrial loft, don't try to have a botanical garden wedding. Trying to turn the loft into an English country garden defeats the purpose of simplicity. If you want the botanical garden wedding, go to the botanical garden site. If you are inflexible about your setting, be prepared for complications - and for things not working out the way you envisioned them.

Simplicity is well-planned.

Knowing your priorities is the key to maintaining your design and your sanity, but be open to new possibilities along the way. The best way to keep glitches from happening is to evaluate these priorities from the start, review what you really want and then make your changes early on. Once the invitations are sent, and the wedding linens are ordered, your flexibility becomes limited. If you set these priorities first and tinker with them then, you will likely avoid any major changes and huge expenses!

Simple is better.

Take the time to apply these KISS principles. Focus your budget, preferences, and approach on smart details and gracious warmth, rather than stiff pomp and circumstance - it's not a royal wedding.

You will be rewarded with a simple, stunningly beautiful wedding day free of headaches and stress. And in 50 years, you will be able to celebrate your anniversary looking back on a treasured memory and toast each other's good sense to go simple yet stunning!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

KISS Weddings - Simple as 1-2 3 and Anti-trendy

Here are more KISS - keep it simple and stunning - secrets for a successful and elegant affair!

Simplicity is the key. There are even magazines, like Real Simple, devoted to the concept. Why not keep your wedding with the times and strive for simple -- but wow your guests and show them just how stunning simple can be!

Simple as 1-2-3

As much as you can, limit your color scheme to three colors. For example, using three shades of blues and purples against a white background will create a more harmonious aesthetic than a room filled with a riot of yellows and greens and reds. It also means coordinating your colors, your wedding linens, your wedding invitations, bridesmaids' dresses and wedding flowers in the same three colors.

Your centerpieces can be equally simple - for example, a single narrow vase, a wedding sticker or accessory tag beneath it, holding three unusual flowers will create a dramatic effect, especially when repeated on all the tables.

Additionally, the 1-2-3 concept goes for food. Have a choice of 3 appetizers, 2 entrees (with sides, of course) and 1 dessert besides the wedding cake. You will be surprised how dramatic and stunning your wedding will be if you apply the idea of a simple 1-2-3.

Simple stunning weddings are never trendy.

Simple design, by its very designation, is both classic and contemporary. It can have any kind of wedding theme, or represent any kind of ethnic wedding, but it always emphasizes well chosen details and not the latest fads! A table laid with crisp white linens and a simple centerpiece, white china, clear crystal and shining flatware will always look elegant, no matter what the theme or color scheme.

Centerpieces don’t have to be overflowing. Place floating flowers and candles in simple clear bowls. This is both romantic and easy on the budget. You only need a few for each table and they don’t create the fuss of huge arrangements that can often block the view of the diners from each other. Make sure that these flowers are in your 1-2-3 color scheme.

For a chic contemporary wedding design, choose orchids, daisies, dahlias or sunflowers, while a classical surrounding calls for gardenias, peonies or roses. Coordinate the candle color to the flowers and float them away.

Use simple placecards for each place setting and have a small elegant wedding favor attached to them. A simple wedding favor can be a small bag with Jordan almonds attached to a wedding sticker or a gift tag with the couple’s names and wedding date printed on them. No fuss, and everyone has a nice treat to take home.

Simple doesn’t mean you skimp -- it means you determine what your design for your wedding will be and stick to it, following a few simple rules. Next time we will talk about unifying themes, design priorities and a well-conceived plan.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Keep It Simple And Stunning (KISS) Wedding - Part 1

KISS - or keep it simple and stunning - weddings are just that - a simplified way to celebrate without all the extraneous things that can actually interfere in your enjoyment of the special day.

  • Simple is not the same as cheap.
A simple wedding stems from a clear vision that is in harmony with the wedding theme and the setting. What you choose for linens, flowers, menu items, wedding invitations, and even the number of guests all determine your costs.

You can have a wedding reception at a 5-star restaurant for 50 guests that will cost as much as a wedding reception for 200 guests that you have prepared on your own. You just have to consider what you want to spend and on what.

  • Simple is not necessarily "minimalist."
A simple wedding design uses restraint to create a more powerful effect. It's the "less is more" concept. There are times when a single element, repeated several times in a design, gives a sense of opulence, while remaining simple. For instance, take a single hyacinth or hydrangea in a narrow glass vase, placed on each table. At the head table, place 10 or so of these flower-filled vases in a straight line. Simple and dramatic, with minimal fuss or cost.

Simplicity means limiting how many types of materials you use - simple linens, the same type of flower, colors, etc., whether you are having a Medieval wedding feast or a formal sit-down wedding dinner for 300 guests.

  • Simple, stunning weddings stress harmony and focus.
Take the time to discuss with your partner, your bridesmaids, your parents and whomever is paying for the wedding what type of theme you want. Brainstorm and make a list of priorities.

Discuss the the wedding style - formal, informal, or casual - and all the things that make up a simple, stunning wedding. Reach a consensus and then choose the setting with care, and design the wedding to suit your setting.

  • Simple, stunning weddings are comfortable parties.
Make sure first and foremost that your wedding guests enjoy your wedding. Sacrifice your "look" if it will make them uncomfortable. While it may be your day and you want it to look like your vision, take into account that your guests are there by your invitation and deserve your best hospitality.

For instance, don't seat everyone at long trestle tables in a narrow room so that the servers have to bump into them to get the food and drinks onto the table. The setting may look lovely, but the only thing your guests are going to remember is that it was impossible to relax and enjoy themselves with the servers banging into them because there was no room to get around. In the end, your vision needs to be adaptable so as to accommodate the comfort of your guests.

Next time we will talk about more simple truths about keeping your wedding simple and stunning!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wedding Gift Registry

I was at a wedding shower the other day and everyone was griping that the bride hadn't registered for enough items or at enough places. There had been a number of wedding showers for the couple and the lists she had were already exhausted - and the wedding was still several weeks away.

For engaged couples, a wedding gift registry service provides an opportunity to identify items that they would enjoy receiving as gifts. It also eliminates duplicate gifts in most cases and ends buyer's remorse, too!

Although traditional etiquette dictates that it isn't proper to announce gift preferences, most modern couples not only register at department and specialty stores, but indicate that they have done so. They often mention the stores' wedding gift registry websites on their wedding invitations. They do not, however, ever mention what gifts they want or prefer on the invitations - just where they are registered.

Many couples create their wedding gift registries and take them to the stores or list them online almost as soon as they get engaged - and even before the wedding date is set! Others wait until it is time for the engagement party (if there is one) or just before the wedding shower.

Most wedding registration lists are maintained via computer, so that as soon as family members and friends access the gift list - either at the store or at its online equivalent - and purchase an item, the computer removes those selections or announces them fulfilled. The registry is therefore current and the possibility of receiving multiple cheese knives is eliminated. Of course, if the buyer doesn't inform the registry of his or her purchase, the update is incomplete and the couple could receive several sets of cheese knives!

Most retailers still provide a personal shopper to accompany the couple as they determine what they would like on their wedding registry. I saw one bride gleefully walking around with a scanner in hand and a personal shopper trailing her as she scanned in practically an entire kitchen department for her registry.

One of the jobs that my mother undertook when my cousin got married was to check the registries and determine what was there. She kept a wedding and shower gift list of what was fulfilled on the wedding registry. Then, when she felt that my cousin needed to supplement her registry, she called and let her know. This way my cousin knew that she needed to let friends and family know what else she needed and wanted.

A wedding gift registry makes it so much easier for the wedding couple, for the families and for the friends! Sign up now!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Who Ya Gonna Call? Wedding Mythbusters!

Weddings are haunted by the myths that have been spread down through the years. Often these tales keep brides and grooms from having their dream weddings since everyone tells them "it's just not done that way." Well, here and in other blogs, we are going to debunk some of those old wives' tales and demystify all that mis-information!

1) Only virgins should wear a white wedding gown.

White wedding gowns only became popular after Queen Victoria wore one in the 1840's. Before that gowns were all sorts of colors - red, blue, even gray. Since white symbolizes different things -- joy, fertility, death, etc. -- in different cultures, it actually may be inappropriate for a bride to wear white!

2) If you don't wear a diamond engagement ring, you aren't really engaged.

Well, that is a myth perpetuated by the diamond industry. You are engaged as soon as you declare your intention to have a wedding and to get married. Although diamonds are beautiful - you don't have to have one. But remember, they are a girl's best friend...!

3) Receiving a wedding invitation means that you are obligated to give a gift, even if you are not attending.

The only time you need to be sure to give a gift is if you are attending the wedding or the wedding reception. The invitation is just that -- a request for you to attend the wedding. If you aren't going, you do not have to send a gift; although there is no rule that says you shouldn't, just to be respectful. A gift also shows a couple your support.

4) The bride's family pays for EVERYTHING.

Once that was true, but now in the 21st century, couples, both families, and even friends, can pay for all or part of the wedding. If the bride's family wants to pay for the wedding, that is still an option.

5) Older brides or second time around (or more) brides can't wear a long wedding gown.

Rubbish. Any bride of any age can wear any gown she chooses. The point of a wedding gown is that it makes the bride feel special and lovely. It accentuates her day in the spotlight. As for a remarriage, if you aren't marrying the same man twice, its still a first marriage for the two of you. So live it up, and wear a long wedding gown.

6) Whoever catches the wedding bouquet keeps it.

Well, once maybe, but with the cost of flowers and such many brides prefer to save the bouquet or have it pressed. Many brides are opting for a smaller bouquet to toss, and that way you don't have to be uncomfortable in asking for it back.

So, ignore these "truths" and go ahead with your wedding plans. Watch wedding shows like "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" or even the infamous "Bridezillas" and see how their planners handle the debunking of all those wedding myths that can interfere with the enjoyment of your wedding. Later we will debunk even more wedding myths!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Planning A Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

The wedding rehearsal dinner is a very important element in the wedding planning process. There are two types of rehearsal dinners - the formal and the informal.

Planning the wedding rehearsal dinner can be stressful on top of all the other wedding planning - especially as the dinner is traditionally held the night before the wedding itself.

Originally the wedding rehearsal dinner was a sit-down affair hosted by the groom's parents. However in these changing times "anything goes", so there are more informal wedding rehearsal dinners hosted by friends, bride's relatives, or even the couple themselves. (My friend Bill and his bride Lynn took all of us on a dinner cruise.)

For all wedding rehearsal dinners, however, there are several guidelines that should be followed.
1) The wedding rehearsal dinner guests include the wedding party, the bride and groom's parents and close relatives. Asking out-of-town wedding guests to the rehearsal dinner will give the bride and groom an extra opportunity to welcome and spend time with them. The wedding rehearsal dinner is a great time for all the guests to get to know each other before the wedding reception.

2) Mail invitations (e-invitations, too) ahead of time so that everyone knows about this event. Even though you are going to be really busy with the wedding, you don't want to leave anyone important out of the rehearsal dinner or there could be hurt feelings that reverberate down through the years. (My grandmother didn't speak to her brother-in-law for 20 years because he forgot to invite my uncle to a rehearsal dinner where he was going to be an usher and reader. She took these things very seriously.)

3) Be sure to serve sparkling drinks (champagne and nonalcoholic versions) for some toasts. Unlike the toasts at the wedding where the time is limited, this is a perfect occasion for the best man and maid-of-honor to toast the couple in anticipation of their other toasts the next day.

It is also where the bride and groom can toast their parents to thank them and each other’s parents in appreciation of the joining of their families. Others may join in - and it could be a rollicking good time as stories of the bride and groom are shared.

4) Since the wedding is the next day, (and hopefully the bachelor and bachelorette parties are dim memories) control the consumption of alcohol, whether the party is formal or informal. Start with the champagne toast and surreptitiously switch to nonalcoholic drinks during the evening. Have each guest's wineglass marked with a wineglass tag after the first drink, so that you know that alcohol was served. This way you can switch to the nonalcoholic sparkling wine. Above all you need to make it your goal to get them "to the church on time" – and relatively sober.

Another time, we will go into more detail regarding how to host an all-out formal elegant sit-down wedding rehearsal dinner or an informal bash that is unique and fun!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Averting Wardrobe Disasters - The Mothers' Dresses

The mothers of the bride and groom (MOB and MOG) are each expected to wear dresses that blend into the general color scheme of the wedding. Neither dress should clash nor should it stand out as a fashion statement on its own. This isn't either woman's high school reunion where she wants to be the slimmest, youngest-looking woman in the place; it's the bride's day, so she needs to be elegant and lovely without taking the shine away from the bride.

So while the MOB and MOG dresses should be somewhat conservative, they should definitely not be dowdy! Too many of these mother of the bride dresses look like drapes wrapped around a mannequin. What is worse, they cost hundreds of dollars - and like bridesmaids' dresses, may only be worn once.

What to do? If you want your mother and mother-in-law to blend into the entire scheme of the wedding, take them shopping. If they live in the same town, make a day of it. Invite them to a brunch and then visit some of the more upscale stores in your area.

Otherwise just take your mom out and have her search for her dress first. Once she has it, she can snip a bit of the fabric from an inner seam and send it to the groom's mother with a photo print of the dress so she can try and blend her dress to it as well. For your peace of mind, ask her to send you a return photo with the finished dress so you know that it is going to work for the wedding .

Bridal salons do have some dresses that don't make the mothers look like holdovers from "Antiques Roadshow," but you might want to make appointments with the special occasion buyer of your local department store.

You will find styles there that are more youthful, much more becoming and less expensive than your typical mother of the bride dress.

Visit a Filene’s Basement or a David’s Bridal. These stores are huge and are parts of national chains. They also cater to formalwear other than just wedding, so chances are you will be able to find something there. If all else fails, have the dress made in the style and color you want. Hire a professional seamstress and see what she can come up with based on the pattern, material and style you choose for your MOB and MOG dresses.

Above all, make your shopping trip with the mothers a fun and happy time. Listen to their ideas and consider their needs. It may be your day, but they have a vested interest in looking their best for you both.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wedding Events - The Bridesmaids' Party

If you think about it, your Maid of Honor and all your bridesmaids' have been putting up with all your brouhaha about the wedding - temper tantrums, having to buy dresses they may never wear again, and coping with all your stress. Now is the time for you to do something nice for them!

Host a bridesmaids party! This is one party that you, as the bride, need to plan and host yourself. Invite the bridesmaids to a pre-wedding bash that is just for them.

Send invitations at least 2 weeks in advance. You should invite all the ladies in the wedding, as well as the mothers and grandmothers and sisters and sisters-in-law who aren't in the bridal party. If any children are attendants, it's a friendly gesture to invite their mothers also.

Traditionally a bridesmaids party was a bridesmaids luncheon held on the day of the wedding, but with all the turmoil surrounding weddings today, it is probably better to hold the party a week or two before the main event. In this day and age, luncheons have been replaced with such events as afternoon teas, spa days, dinners, or a night out (not to be confused with the bachelorette party, which is a whole different animal).

To me, the nicest and probably most calming way is to have a late buffet lunch or afternoon tea at home. This way everyone can relax. If you have bridesmaids who do not know each other, this is a good way for them to bond so that you have a cohesive team working for you at the wedding itself.

Set a menu. Since this is a ladies-only event, you will probably choose a light meal. Saladsare good summer choices. In cold months, you might serve soup and sandwiches. At a tea, have a huge assortment of finger sandwiches, canapes and hors d'oeuvres. For all meals, have beverages - coffee, tea, soft drinks, and perhaps champagne.

A dessert table with a knock-out chocolate dessert (forget the calories - its a party!) and other treats is always a great way to get everyone to open up and chat.

Your party decor should reflect your wedding decorations, and wedding favors should be fun and perhaps a bit risqué. Have plenty of flowers - corsages for the mothers and grandmothers, small bouquets for the bridesmaids. You can even give the the young ones their flower girl baskets so that they can practice tossing petals.

For the bridesmaids themselves, present them with a unique gift -jewelry, monogrammed stationery, a silver picture frame - to thank them for their service to you before and during the wedding itself. You might want to prepare a short speech that expresses your appreciation at this time as well.

A bridesmaids party can set the tone of fun and camaraderie that these wedding attendants will carry forward to the wedding and help make it an event to remember.