Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wedding Receiving Lines

The ceremony is done, you've just been kissed, and the wedding reception - the fun part - looms on the horizon. There is just one more formality that you really should do - the wedding receiving line. There are a couple of choices for this: having one at the ceremony site or at the wedding reception site.

While some couples neglect this ritual - I was at a wedding two weeks ago and the wedding couple didn't have one at all - this is still your chance to welcome all the people you've invited to your wedding and thank them for sharing your day with you.

In some cases, wedding couples hold their wedding receiving line at the ceremony site right after the wedding is over. They greet their guests as they are leaving the site and do not worry about any sort of receiving line at the wedding reception.

Others opt to hold a wedding receiving line at the wedding reception venue. Once the wedding ceremony is concluded, they leave that venue, have pictures taken, and then proceed to form a wedding receiving line once they reach the wedding reception. This necessitates that the wedding couple reach the wedding reception venue ahead of the guests so that they can greet them properly.

No matter where you decide to hold your receiving line, there are a few things to review so that you are able to greet your guests with the respect and appreciation they deserve for attending your wedding.

A day or two before the wedding, go over the guest list with your parents, spouse-to-be and wedding attendants. Determine who has responded and who will be attending the wedding. Put all your place cards in order so that the names are all fresh in your minds. (Here is a site that discusses the etiquette of the receiving line.)

Remind wedding attendants in the receiving line to keep comments short and sweet!

Position the receiving line at the end of the ceremony venue, so that when the guests exit the venue, they are greeted and received by your wedding party. (This site offers a couple of interesting line-ups for the actual receiving line.)

At the wedding reception, have the receiving line positioned at a convenient spot near the entrance of the wedding reception site. This way the guests can move down it easily, and go directly to the refreshment area where cocktails and appetizers are being served.

Provide some sort of musical background for the receiving line. A photo book or posters of you as a couple can be placed strategically for guests to look at while they are waiting in line. Have a guest book, perhaps a photo to sign and other amenities in the cocktail area while guests mingle as you finish with the receiving line. This is a great location for the table assignment place cards to be situated.

Remove gloves before shaking hands. (I know it's the best way to spread cold germs, so be careful you don't touch your face until you get your hands cleaned and sanitized, once all the guests have gone through the line).

If you've announced your wedding reception will begin at 5:30, expect your receiving line to take half an hour. Anyone who arrives later than that will just have to come and find you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Dressed In White

It's really her fault. On February 10, 1840 the wedding of Queen Victoria of England and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha created a pattern for formal weddings that has come down over the 160+ years since. So what was it about her wedding gown that changed the way women dressed for their weddings?

Victoria wore all white - white wedding gown, white veil, white flowers (orange blossoms, no less.) This is not to say that brides did not wear white before Victoria, however, they were as likely to wear other colors as well. There was no dominant wedding color, but the young Queen changed that tradition. She wore a soft white lace veil over her orange blossom (and diamond) wreath that brushed her fingertips and a white satin gown with a deep neckline, full skirt and lace flounces that made the wedding dress look like something from a fairy tale. And since she was a Queen already, royal fashion followers took up the tradition and we have all been slavishly following it ever since. (Here is a photo, circa 1854 of the royal couple recreating their wedding attire)

One of the things that made Victoria's royal wedding so different from other royal weddings was its deceptive simplicity. Instead of being wrapped in brocade and jewels, she wore a "simple white gown” and that seemed within the reach of the common people. Prince Albert went against a tradition of magnificence in the groom's attire and wore a simple uniform, thereby setting the tradition of restraint for the groom's wedding clothes. This restraint allowed the bride to standout in contrast and enabled her to be the center of attention. (A fun article about modern royal weddings is located here.)

Queen Victoria had everything - wealth, power, the Crown Jewels - but she was no beauty in a time when beauty was the standard against which women were measured. Yet she had managed to find the love of her life and for that day, she set the standard for beauty for all young women and guaranteed that on her wedding day, any bride was beautiful.

Victoria’s wedding gown also changed the attitude of brides everywhere – where before it was acceptable to wear your best dress to your wedding and keep wearing the dress, there was now a new tradition that wearing a wedding dress was a one-time only event. The dress was to become a sentimental treasure all the more cherished because of its one time designated use. Victorians were nothing if not impractically sentimental – and brides have been following that tradition ever since!

So when you accept that wedding invitation and watch the bride come down the aisle, all dressed in white, looking beautiful and radiant, as her groom stands at the altar simply dressed, take a moment, and think about Queen Victoria and her part in creating our wedding tradition of white.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Lovely Family Wedding

I went to a wedding last weekend and it was really lovely. Aside from the fact that I got to see family members and had a nice time catching up with them, I was also impressed with both the elegance and simplicity of the wedding itself. It was a true KISS wedding.

The church portion of the wedding was Greek Orthodox and fairly cut and dried, as this is a church that does not allow for too many variations to its basic services. However, before the service began, there were a couple of really nice touches.

Since the bride’s father had passed away, her mother walked her down the aisle. The groom was raised in a single-parent home and when the bride and her mother arrived at the altar, the groom’s mother took her son by the hand and gave it to the bride. Then it was a straightforward ceremony after that.

When we got to the wedding reception at the large banquet hall, there were place cards with table numbers alphabetically listed on an entry way table. Next to this table, there was a guest book and poster of the bride and groom to sign.

While the wedding photographer was snapping all the formal wedding pictures, one of the groom’s nephews was taking candid pictures of all the guests as they entered and having them write a short note to the wedding couple. He was then going to be putting these photos into a special wedding photo book to give to the wedding couple when they return home from their honeymoon.

The bride chose three colors – black, white, and red – and carried these out throughout the wedding and reception. An excellent touch was that she had selected the color red for her bridesmaids’ dresses. However, instead of these bridesmaids' dresses being done in cookie cutter fashion - regardless of whether they look good on a particular body – she had each bridesmaid choose her own dress style in the exact color red she had selected. This meant that one bridesmaid wore a strapless dress that was flattering to her slim figure while another bridesmaid, who was full figured, wore ¾-length sleeves with a fuller skirt. Another bridesmaid wore – well, you get the picture.

Each place setting was elegantly appointed with place card holders, white china, and shiny tableware. Although it was a buffet style, there were servers assigned to ensure that the guests were kept supplied with salads, desserts and beverages. Bridal shower favors attached to tulle-wrapped Jordan almonds were at each place setting and candles shone on each table. When the dancing started, the overhead lights were dimmed and the candlelight lent the room an elegant feel.

What also impressed me was that although there were eight weddings and parties at this banquet hall (Michaud's for those in the Cleveland area) that evening (you should have seen the parking lot) there was never any sense that my cousin’s wedding was not the most important event happening there. The professionalism of the crew made this a wedding to remember.

This wedding was an excellent example of keeping it simple and stunning!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wedding Reception Rentals

Saving money on your wedding doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on those aspects of your wedding you think are important. Being frugal and a good shopper is not the same thing as being cheap. You can still have an elegant and stunning wedding reception without breaking the bank. (Here is an article that shows many ways to save.)

You can cut corners by making your own printable wedding invitations, wedding programs, response cards, and even wedding reception placecards, while at the same time offering your guests a fabulous celebration of your wedding.

One of the best ways to save money is to have an outdoor wedding reception – weather permitting, of course. If you have a large yard or know someone who is willing to allow this in his or her yard, by all means plan for your wedding reception to occur there. Just know that this is still going to cost you some money, but you still pay less than at a hotel or party center.

A large tent or canopy may be required to protect you and your guests from the sun and/or rain. If it’s either very hot or very cool, you may need to consider fans or heaters. I know the tents range in price from $300 - $5,000 depending on their configuration. Check with your wedding rental vendor what exactly you'll need and how much you want to spend. This is a site that provides a number of different services and vendors for you to start your comparison shopping.

While a dance floor is provided at a hotel or hall, you probably will have to rent one along with the tent. The floors come in a number of sizes so, again, check out what you are renting. If possible, try to negotiate a complete tent and floor package deal. This could save you a bundle. A guide to renting party equipment for your wedding is located at this site.

You are going to also need tables, chairs, some sort of linen and tableware. If you caterer does not supply them (or you are doing all the cooking yourself) you may also need to rent warmers, food stations and serving pieces. (And trash cans, plastic trash bags and so on.) Again your party rental supply vendor can come to the rescue! One of the good things about renting glasses, dishes and so on is that you send them back to the party supply store unwashed, so that saves a huge clean-up cost!

Shop a variety of vendors and compare prices. See if they will give you a package for your guests for one price and also if you can negotiate away the delivery, set-up and tear down fees. Those are wedding budget items that are often hidden but can build up and give you sticker shock!

When you are considering saving money on the wedding reception, also consider that if you have a cocktail wedding reception with dancing instead of a full sit down dinner or buffet, you will only have to rent about half the tables and chairs since by the nature of a cocktail wedding reception or any cocktail party, guests stand around and mingle.

By renting you can avoid owning all sorts of unnecessary items (I mean who really needs a dance floor in the middle of the back yard?) but can still throw the wedding reception of your dreams.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wedding Ceremony Rentals


Not all items need to be purchased for a wedding ceremony and reception. Of course you need to purchase the wedding invitations - have them printed or get the proper paper/card stock from the stationery store for your printable wedding invitations - and you will have to purchase the food, and the wedding favors as these are non-returnable items.

However, you can save a lot on your wedding budget if you rent certain items. These are the ones that will only have a limited use or that you won't need again after the wedding or the reception. These are some ways to save some money and still have the wedding of your dreams.

Rent a wedding gown slip

You are spending a fortune on the wedding dress, but in order for some dresses to hang correctly you have to wear an undergarment or slip to give the dress its final shape. Many bridal shops rent these garments to the cost-conscious bride. Chances are you will never wear the wedding gown slip again, so why not rent it? Arrange to pick it up a week before the wedding and on your wedding day, you will have a proper slip to keep you wedding gown in place!

Rent Wedding Ceremony Accessories

An aisle runner is a thin rug of plastic, paper, or cloth extending the length of the aisle. It is rolled out after the mothers of the bride and groom are seated, just prior to the processional. It's a lovely touch and a cloth runner lies smoothly inside or outside for the bride to walk to her groom. Florists and party planners rent these, as you usually aren't going to need to have one on hand at home.

An arch or a chuppah (in Jewish ceremonies) are canopies where the bride and groom exchange their vows. The arch or chuppah are usually covered in flowers and greenery, symbolizing cohabitation and consummation of the marriage.

Again these items are not needed in everyday life, so find a florist who understands these traditions, and get them to set them up - and take them back once the wedding ceremony is completed.

If you aren't having your wedding ceremony inside at a traditional wedding venue and instead have opted for an outdoor or unusual site, you may also need to consider renting audio equipment, aisle stanchions, candelabras, candles, chairs, heaters and so on.

Just make sure that if you are renting any accessories for your wedding ceremony, make absolutely certain that the wedding rental supplier has been in business for a reasonable period of time, has a good reputation, provides references, and signs an ironclad contract with you. Reserve all the items you need well in advance.

When considering a wedding ceremony outside of a traditional wedding site, figure in the cost of rental items into your wedding budget at once. Negotiate a package deal by renting items for the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception from the same supplier such as your florist so you only have to pay a one-time delivery fee!

Next time, we'll discuss renting items for a wedding reception.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weddings in a Short Time

There’s a lot more to getting married than just planning the wedding and wedding reception. This is supposed to be a time to celebrate your love and your wedding vows. Don’t let it drive you crazy!

If you have to, you can plan and execute a complete, elegant and fully organized wedding – ceremony and wedding reception, honeymoon and everything in-between - in 3 months.You heard me. Three months. I’ve seen it done. It’s a matter of organization and flexibility.

Three Months
Pick a date and day! If you are getting married in the height of June or September (the wedding months) don’t expect your ceremony location to be completely available on Saturday or Sunday. Have a Friday wedding instead. It will save you money and you are more likely to find your ceremony venue available.

Once you’ve got the day, and the ceremony location, find your wedding reception venue. Again, a Friday or other weekday gives you greater options.

Set Your Budget and Start Booking Your Vendors

You know how much the ceremony site and wedding reception locale will cost. Set your wedding budget accordingly. What you have left is for flowers, gown, tux, rehearsal, dinner, band/DJ and photographer.

Book your photographers (and videographers) as soon as your can. Also have a back-up plan (like a friend who is semi-pro and disposable cameras on each table). Many photographers have conflicts and the sooner you get them, the better.

Determine the Dresses and the Attendants

Wedding party: ask and secure bridesmaids and groomsmen for the wedding. Provide bridesmaids with their bridesmaid dresses and styles to order and arrange for tuxedoes for male attendants.

Buy or order your wedding gown. DON’T wait. You may need alterations and other accessories and you don’t want this to be last minute.

Two Months
Start making honeymoon plans. Select wedding invitations.

Complete guest list – set the number of guests you want and try to stick to it. You will have to tell both sets of parents and expect them to follow your wishes. Select your caterer and especially the wedding reception menu.

Book your music – hire a band or a DJ.

Select your florist and coordinate your wedding colors to the flowers.

Select other wedding decorations, wedding favors and the wedding cake. Order these as soon as you can.

Six weeks
Address invitations and mail them! You want your guests to have time to respond, make travel arrangements, if necessary and be ready to celebrate your wedding.

One month Register for gifts.Buy wedding rings.Make sure if you need any sort of equipment such as chocolate fountains, cameras, etc for the ceremony or wedding reception, that they are available and rent them for the date.

Three weeks
Get marriage licenses.

Plan rehearsal dinner, reserve location and send invitations.

One week
Call ALL vendors; confirm the wedding reception date, time and location.

Arrange for any name changes (you can do this after).

Pack for your honeymoon.

Wedding day

Relax – get dressed, have hair done and enjoy. There’s nothing left to do.

See? If you are flexible and can stand the stress, you can get it done in 3 months or less!

Eloping! Is It For You?

The deep dark secret of my family is... my mother and father eloped! At that time, and with my grandfather's blessing, my mother sneaked off in the middle of the night and went downstate to Cincinnati to marry my dad. In those bygone days of yesteryear, eloping usually connoted that the couple was in "trouble" and needed to get married. (Not my folks, I showed up 10 years later!)

At the time, my grandmother had objections to my father's military career (he was a Major) and didn't want my mother to be a military wife traveling all over to different posts. So they decided to present her with a marriage license and she removed her objections. (It didn't get my mother out of a church wedding and reception though - but that is another story.)

These days eloping doesn't carry the same stigma. Many wedding couples are eloping to fulfill their own romantic adventure. There are several advantages to eloping but perhaps the biggest is that it allows you to indulge in your own romantic fantasies. Do you secretly wish to exchange your wedding vows on a tropical island, in front of a cascading waterfall? Or is your desire to hold your wedding on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean? How about a Las Vegas wedding with several dancing Elvises as your groomsmen? Eloping allows you to realize these dreams.

Another great advantage of eloping is that taking your wedding on the road will save you a lot of money. When you elope, you save on everything from invitations to wedding decorations and everything in between. When you get back you can send an announcement to everyone just as you would a wedding announcement.

Additionally there is very little stress! There are wedding service providers and chapels around the country (and especially in Hawaii) that offer wedding packages at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding ceremony and wedding reception. They specialize in helping you determine the details for your elopement - you know, wedding cake, wedding flowers, beverages, and so on. They will make sure your day is a happy one - and since many people elope to romantic destinations, they can help you save even more money by providing honeymoon accommodations.

Another really good reason for eloping is that it can ease difficult family situations. Let's say your in-laws or parents are divorced and if they come within 20 feet of each other the potential for a world war is imminent. Or you are having a second wedding and your exes are determined to show up and destroy your day with their presence.

There is no hard rule that when you elope, you have to go it alone. Invite your parents or friends to go along with you to your destination and have a small party with them. This way you have the people who mean something to you at your wedding and don't have to worry about everyone else!

You need to do what is right for you as a couple. Eloping may be your solution.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wedding Photography Tips Pt 2.

Photographs are a visual memory of your wedding and you want to get the best for your money. Here are more tips for you to consider when planning your wedding photos.

Resolution

Film negatives come in different sizes as do different digital camera resolutions. Find out if your photographer is using film, if he or she is using medium format film or a 35mm camera. A MFC uses a larger negative that will give more detail and quality in the negative than a 35mm camera. The negative is 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" as opposed to 1" x 1 1/2.

As for digital cameras, the higher the megapixels, the better the photograph. Since digital cameras do not create negatives, you can see the final outcome on a computer before ordering prints. With an SLR digital camera your photos will be completely professional, as the photographer can change lenses and use all standard camera techniques with the added advantage of seeing that the lighting and other external factors of the photographs are working.

Also, since digital technology doesn't use film stock, the photographer can take 5-10 times more pictures (rather than 2-3 with film) so you have a greater selection of shots from which to choose at wedding album creation time.

Save Money

Consider hiring the photographer for the formal shots of your ceremony and wedding party and have disposable cameras at each table for candid shots during the wedding reception. As your guests to pitch in and help by taking pictures of their table, dancing and other photos they think you should have.

Pay the photographer for the photographs - they are digital anyway - and put them into your own wedding photo album yourself. That way you have all the photos, usually on a disk drive or disc and you can select the ones you want to include in an a photo album. As this is a time- consuming task, your photographer may reduce his or her package fee.

Order Several Different Wedding Photo Albums

You are going to need a complete photo album for you to keep as a memory of your wedding day. You are also going to need photo albums for each set of parents. By creating your own albums you not only save money, but you can tell the story of your wedding the way you want it told. For your parents’ albums, you can personalize them with specific photos that will mean something to both the brides and grooms parents - and they don't have to be identical. You may also want to give personalized photo albums to the best man and maid of honor to thank them.

Get Your Own Extra Prints

You can order extra prints from Photoworks.com so that you can provide them as gifts to bridesmaids, groomsmen, close friends, and family members. These make nice gifts when you don't want to provide a full photo album. If your photographer used film, see if you can purchase the negatives or with digital, just order these extra prints online at whatever size you want. You can make these at a fraction of the cost of having the photographer do it and the quality is just as professional. Since film photographers and even some digital ones don't want to lose the money of creating albums for you, make sure that a disk or the negatives are included in your fees.

Another time and money saving device is to create a wedding album on Webshots.com and have your wedding party select those pictures they want to have. They can share them, store them online or have their own photos made.

Choose your photos and photographer well – and in 50 years when you are celebrating your golden anniversary, you will be able to look back at these wonderful photo albums and share the memories of that special wedding day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wedding Photography Tips - Pt. 1

Your wedding photographs are the best way to preserve your special day. Chances are that you and your new partner will be looking at your wedding photo albums for years to come, so your plans for hiring a photographer and getting candid shots are among the most important tasks in planning your wedding.

Here are some suggestions as to engaging the best photographer for your wedding.

Experience

If you are going to the considerable expense of hiring a professional photographer for your wedding, make sure he or she is experienced in wedding photography. Your photographer should prove that he or she is familiar with your ceremony type. This way the photographer can anticipate your next move and be in the proper place to get the best shots.

Personal Rapport

You may hire the best photographer in the world, but if you feel intimidated or just not comfortable with his attitude, you may also not feel comfortable with the final product. Comfort and compatibility with your photographer will make all the difference. You will be able to communicate what you want and it will be done. You will also look more relaxed in the final product and that should make a difference.

Examples

Look at examples of his or her work. See if the photographer is able to capture the emotion and the excitement of a wedding. A good wedding album is like a storybook - it tells the tale of your wedding day from start to finish. See what sort of pictures your photographer offers, discuss what sort of photographic style you want and be sure you are both in agreement as to set poses, candid and more creative shots.

References

Remember that when photographers give you the names of their references, they are telling you the names of people who are happy with their work. Make sure that at least one of the references is recent. Ask if the photographer was prompt, cordial, properly attired and performed his or her duties as expected and as professionally and unobtrusively as possible.

Digital Photography

Many photographers are using digital cameras and this allows them to switch between black and white easily. It also increases the number of wedding photo images from which you can select, since digital cameras shoot a lot more images than stock film. Since these pictures are easily eliminated, photographers using digital can also take more creative chances since it isn't wasting film.

Interview


Be absolutely certain that the photographer you interview is the one who will actually be the photographer at your wedding. Some companies use more than one photographer and will send their best to "sell" their wedding package to you. You hire the company based on the work of that photographer and end up with a less experienced one at your wedding. Be careful to establish that the photographer you interview is the one who will actually be taking the pictures at your wedding - and get it in writing!

Tomorrow, I'll share more tips on getting the most for your wedding photography budget.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wedding Guest Lists Dos and Don'ts

Maneuvering the intricacies of setting up your wedding guest list, not insulting anyone, and actually getting the wedding reception mix that you want is not an easy task. You've set the number of guests that you want to send invitations to... Now you have to determine what, if any, situations will arise that will alter your plans - and not necessarily for the better.

Here are some wedding guest list tips that will help you steer clear of a wedding disaster story.

Do appoint a "list master." Once you've put your list together, designate one person in charge of all changes and updates rather than letting everyone make changes to the same document. I suggest a close friend or relative who is not easily cowed by your or your groom's parents, siblings and others who might want to “add so and so - no one will notice." The list master should only report to you, as it is your wedding.

Don't invite more people than you can afford. A smaller party is better if it is within your wedding budget. Also don't invite more people than your venue can accommodate. What will you do if they all decide they have to come and you are fined and possibly shut down because you broke occupancy regulations?

Do check your list for spelling and address errors. It's better to call and verify now than to take a guess and get the invitation back in the mail later. Enlist your parents and friends to help with this task.

Don't invite people to your wedding who you hope won't come! A wedding invitation is extended sincerely and hospitably. If you don't want someone to come to your wedding, don't ask him or her. Once that invitation is extended, you have essentially reserved a place for that person to be a part of your wedding.

Do invite live-in partners and spouses of invited guests. NO exceptions. You are not required, however, to allow single people to bring a guest or invite children to your wedding, nor should you be pressured into doing so. Your invitations will convey exactly who is invited. Here is an excellent site to show you how to word your invitations and response cards so that there is no mistaking whom you are inviting to your wedding.

Don't be surprised if people willfully ignore what you say. If some people want to bring their kids, they will. I hope you have friends who understand that adults mean adults. I was in a small wedding where I wasn't allowed to bring a date but one of the other guests showed up at the wedding reception with her boyfriend, his parents, brother and three sisters. Since the wedding was on a tight budget, six unexpected guests put quite a squeeze on the room space, the wedding favors, place cards, tables and even food. (To add insult to injury, one of the sisters caught the bridal bouquet.)

If something untoward happens, grin and bear it, but try to avoid these problems before they arise by being specific and clear in your invitations to your guests.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wedding Guest Lists - Part 1

Before you can send out wedding invitations or hire a caterer or even choose your wedding location, you need to get a handle on who is going to be invited to your wedding.

Do you have a small wedding in mind for only immediate family and really close friends, or are you thinking of something that includes everyone you've ever met? Seriously, I was invited to a wedding reception for a recently married couple and it seemed as if the entire church congregation - and then some - was there.

Wedding couples often experience frustration when trying to organize the guest list. Just gathering correct and current addresses can be a Herculean task, especially if you are having your parents contributing names to the wedding guest list - and they send new ones every two days or so!

Your best bet is to choose a format or wedding planning software for collecting your wedding guest information. Make sure that everyone - parents included - uses that same format. This will be helpful when sending invitations and printing out the place cards or escort cards for the table seating. Additionally, if you have multiple lists this is a good way to integrate them.

Organize your wedding guest lists by group so you can see how your numbers stack up. Your primary group should be immediate family and closest friends. Once you establish that number you can see how much room you have for other guests. Some of this might depend on your wedding size preference and wedding budget. Then create groups for other guests - extended family, co-workers, school friends and so forth.

Grouping your wedding guest list will help you do two things: keep a perspective on whom to invite, and identify issues you will want to consider. You may want to invite your second cousin's boyfriend. If he is allowed to attend, what is to stop your other second cousins from bringing their significant others when you haven't planned to extend your list so far out?

When compiling your wedding guest list, remember that consistency is gracious. If you define the parameters of your list by group, it will be much easier for you when you are making decisions about whom to invite. \

In other words, if you are having an adults-only wedding reception or limiting the extra guest option for single people, it's much easier to explain that choice than if you decide to invite the kids of certain guests, or let some bring dates but not others.

Next time, we'll talk about guest list do's and don'ts, and how to word those invitations so there is no mistaking your intention as to who is and who isn't invited to your wedding.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thinking About Fall Weddings

Even though the thermometer reads over 80 degrees, there is a sense that autumn is just around the corner. As people start thinking about coming home more for the holidays and such, to spend more time with their families, it's a romantic time for a wedding. Fall is a time of cool nights and warm days, with brilliant changes in color in many parts of the U.S. It's the time to appreciate the ripeness of the harvest and enjoy the fruits of summer.


Invite your guests to a storybook fall setting such as an inn, meeting house, old mill, or even a barn. A fall wedding can be casual yet elegant when set in a beautiful old barn. You might also look at an apple orchard, a vineyard, or any place that will have a view of fall foliage. If you live in a climate where the leaves don’t change, look for a venue with lots of rich dark wood and warmth such as a gentleman’s club or university club.

Establish the theme for your fall wedding with sheaths of wheat or corn at the entrance. Fall wedding decorations in rich jewel tones or traditional fall color schemes that include reds, oranges, browns, and yellows set the tone beautifully. One modern fall wedding decoration scheme uses only chocolate brown with light-blue accents.

Fill the room with the bounty of the season - pumpkins, cornucopias, acorns, and gourds. Make jack-o-lanterns with decorative patterns rather than scary faces, or use paper bag luminaria for a similar effect.

Remember that weather in the fall can be tricky. In many areas of the country it will be hard to know long in advance whether your wedding day will be warm or chilly. I was at a fall wedding where the bride had counted on a warm day and evening, so had everyone wearing strapless and inappropriate bridesmaids' dresses. She didn't plan for a 30-degree night and everyone ended up wearing the groomsmen's tuxedo jackets - even indoors. If they had boleros, sleeves or wraps, the temperature problems would have been eliminated!

Give your guests a wedding favor in keeping with the season such as a beautiful apple tied with a gold ribbon, or a bottle of maple syrup. If you have a sweet tooth, give guests caramel apples wrapped in cellophane, or give a DIY kit of a caramel apple recipe with all the ingredients they’ll need - a perfect apple, some caramels, a Popsicle stick and recipe card.

Help your guests decorate for the season by giving them mini pumpkins, or an ear of ornamental corn tied with some wheat and a pretty fall ribbon. Marzipan fruit is also a wonderful fall wedding favor.

Fall is a wonderful time of year to have a wedding. You miss the rush of summer and even some of the expense, and can provide your guests with a unique and fun experience.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wedding Attendant Gifts

Your wedding party traditionally consists of the most important friends and people in your life. They have been there for you through the years. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen have listened to your romance woes, helped you make the right choices, and have scurried around to assist you during your wedding planning.

They’re shelling out hundreds to be in your wedding and you’re supposed to give them a gift at the event to show your thanks. You are spending thousands of dollars on the wedding and when you give those gifts they are just so...lame.

The wedding attendant gift is your chance to not only say thanks, but also to show these girls and guys that you really know them and what they like. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where I swear the bride and groom went to an outlet store and got everyone the cheapest gifts in the place. I know it's the thought that counts, but there wasn't any thought in there! I mean, who gives a junior bridesmaid a hip flask?

To show your appreciation, be creative. Just remember, the gift you give should suit the personalities of your friends and your relationship with them. For example, the groomsmen are all sports fans - get them sporting event tickets. Or your bridesmaids and you go ga-ga over the "GooGoo Dolls" - find tickets to a concert and all of you go together as a post-wedding celebration!

One friend gave me "The Joy of Cooking" since she knew I loved to cook. I still use it to this day and it reminds me of her. All the groomsmen from that wedding got BBQ grill sets.

My cousin gave me a photo keepsake box with a unique piece of jewelry she had created. She gave her other bridesmaids equally lovely and unique pieces, but all wrapped up in separate types of boxes.

One of the nicest gifts I received as a bridesmaid was a heartfelt friendship card from the bride thanking me for being her friend. In it was a membership card for the World Wildlife Fund and a gift card. It was a thoughtful way for the bride to show she remembered my love of animals and shopping.

Make those wedding attendant gifts personal and show your love for the people who love you. It will make your wedding so much better!