Thursday, October 30, 2008

Organizing a Wedding

Planning a wedding can be fun and exciting, but if you are not careful and organized, it can also be stressful. There are so many details that you have to consider. It really can take almost a year to get everything the way you want it, and to ensure all will be how you want it to be on the happiest day of your life.

Whether you are having an at-home simple wedding, or a huge extravagant wedding, you will need to carefully organize and plan each step of the way. If you plan to hire a wedding planner to assist you, make certain you and the planner have identical wedding planners (books), including a wedding checklist that defines everything you need to do or even consider doing, and the best period in which to accomplish each activity.

If you hire a wedding planner with a lot of experience, depend on their contacts with vendors - florists, caterers, hotels, banquet/party rooms and so on - to get you the best deals for your wedding budget. Check the wedding planner's references before hiring him or her. Also watch some television shows like Whose Wedding is it Anyway and Bridezilla, to define how you are going to interact with your wedding planner and also behave during the year long process of planning your wedding.

If you are going to go it alone for the most part - and hire a wedding planner at the end, or ask a friend to organize events on the actual wedding day - you need to be extra organized. Get your own wedding planning notebook and start with that all-important checklist. Here is a site that can get you started with the wedding checklist. Then determine your wedding budget.

Once you've decided that wedding budget, list all the expenses that are typically incurred during a wedding (here is a site that can help you), and decide what is most important to you. Assign a percentage of your wedding budget to these items and stick to it. For example, you want to use printable wedding invitations, but you want the paper to be handmade rather than card stock. Compare the costs between these items.

The same goes for all your vendors. Talk to several and compare prices - what they offer, if there are any packages available, what time of year is most reasonably priced. I guarantee that if you hire a vendor for a late January wedding in the Northeast, you will be getting quite a deal, since winter is the worst time for weddings (except of course Valentine's Day).

Good luck with all your wedding planning. Just remember if you keep it organized, you will get through all the details.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wedding Whoops!

My cousin's wedding was one for the record books. There were three wedding receptions - two intentional, the third - not so much! We attended the wedding ceremony, two wedding receptions, and the rehearsal dinner that was hosted by our grandmother. It was quite a busy weekend.

The wedding was a formal afternoon affair with the bride in a floor-length wedding gown, cathedral train and veil. She looked stunning and happy.

The first wedding reception was at the church, where everyone was served champagne or non-alcoholic punch, wedding cake, and desserts. It was a lovely reception that really came in handy when faced with the rest of the day.

While many guests were attending only the church wedding reception, there was another wedding reception planned for family and friends at the bride’s parent’s home. When we arrived, there was a lovely dance floor set up in a huge tent in the backyard. A band was playing music and folks were standing around with drinks in their hands munching on potato chips.

Sadly, the wedding caterers never showed up, so the only food available was in the form of some frozen Swedish meatballs that the bride's mother thawed and cooked! Many of us rushed to the store and bought as much prepared food as we could find - sheet pizzas for appetizers, prepared orders of chicken, beef, fish, potatoes, rice and vegetables - anything. We set everything out in serving dishes and the 100 or so guests were happy and didn't know that anything untoward had occurred. (Here is a cute article about other wedding woes.)

There was one small problem: there wasn't enough food for the family and bridal party! Because of this, my grandmother insisted we all go back to our house after the wedding reception - the exhausted parents of the bride, the out-of-town relatives and the bridal party.

We called our favorite restaurant and ordered 75 hamburgers, fries, and sodas to go. Then we all took off our shoes and relaxed, munching on burgers and fries and drinking wine and sodas. Finally we put on music and began dancing. This third party went on well into the night.

For years now we still remember fondly the day of three wedding receptions. As for the wedding caterers, they had the date wrong and showed up the next morning. The moral of this story is this: always check your wedding vendors and make sure they know when and where to be!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rationale for an At-Home Wedding

Aside from the fact that an at-home wedding is a lovely intimate idea, and a perfect example of keeping it simple and stunning, there are actual historical reasons for having an at-home wedding.

In 1653-56 in England, when the Puritans had overthrown the monarchy for a while and were in charge of the country, a law, "the Civil Marriage Act" was enacted. (Here is an excellent article on its impact on church marriages.) It stated that Justices of the Peace were the only officiants permitted to marry couple and because of this, weddings took place at the bride's home. Even though the Puritans were eventually ousted and the rule of the monarchy returned under Charles II, their short lived influence remained.

Since many in America were Puritans, this notion of an at-home wedding under the offices of a Justice of the Peace, (you can find one for your wedding here) remained a fixture of early American life. Another reason for this ongoing influence is that at the same time as the Puritans were doing their bit for the at home wedding, Native American populations were also celebrating at home weddings as well. Algonquin women were escorted in a ceremony to their groom's homes on their wedding day.

Add that sense of special intimacy (as well as history) to your wedding by planning for it to be at home. Whether in your own home or that of a dear friend or relative, at-home weddings are perfect for couples who wish to have an intimate wedding ceremony and reception. They are also a great idea for couples who have a smaller wedding budget, but still want elegance and style.

Depending on the size of your home, the number of guests you invite can be anywhere from 10 to 50 generally speaking. If you are able to accommodate more by incorporating a tent in your yard, you can increase that number, but for the most part an at-home wedding has fewer than 100 guests.

Create your own wedding invitations using handmade paper and printable downloads. You can make them as formal or as casual as you like, as this will set the tone of your at-home wedding. Just because you are at home doesn't mean that you can't incorporate formal touches and traditional wedding activities, such as dancing, place cards at formal place settings, wedding toasts and so on.

The time of day when your wedding ceremony and wedding reception happen is your choice. You are not limited to church hours and/or how long a wedding reception at a party center or hotel would be. You can have a wedding brunch, luncheon, tea or even dinner.

If you are cooking yourself, select foods that can be made a few days or more in advance, such as casseroles that can be frozen. This will save a lot of time on the actual wedding day so that your servers (remember to hire them) can heat up the food and put it on the buffet as other servers circulate with drinks.

A good caterer will take all this pressure off you, so really consider this as a major wedding budget item. They will also bring glasses, china, tables and napkins if you want - and you don't have to wash the dishes either!

Delineate your space by placing your wedding decorations wherever the guests are going to be during the wedding ceremony and wedding reception. For instance, you may have one bedroom assigned for coats and a guest bathroom. Decorate these areas and close all the other doors so that snoopy guests don't go in and find out that this is where you stashed the living room furniture and collectibles!

Go for that at-home wedding and keep a good old American tradition alive and well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff!

Whenever you are feeling stressed frustrated and overwhelmed by all the wedding planning and preparations, step back, take a deep breath and reassess. Wedding stress can take the joy out of everything!

Do you really think anyone but you will care if the wedding programs aren't folded perfectly, or that the font Times Roman and not Century Schoolhouse was used? Who will even notice that the bridesmaids wore different styles of shoes? Does it really matter if your wedding bouquet has five lilies instead of six? Who is going to notice if the you had a printable wedding invitation on handmade paper rather than ones that were letter pressed?

Don't let the pressure of trying to create a "perfect wedding" drive you into an early grave. Your wedding day is a celebration of the love the you and your fiancee share for each other, and a way to share that love with those you care for and who care about you. If you are seeing your wedding as a chore because planning is such a miserable experience, then you really have to rethink your process. Here is a site with checklists and other wedding aids to help you simplify. You can even get your own wedding planner from PhotoWorks to help you through the process.

You want your happiest wedding day memories to be of the adoring look on his face as you walk down the aisle, and of the happy, friendly wedding reception where you all celebrate your new marriage in joy. You don't want the happiest memory of your wedding to be relief that it is finally over!

I vividly recall a wedding I attended as a child. It was 95 degrees and really humid. A huge storm system had dropped several inches of rain the day before the wedding and everything was wet. The air-conditioning of the church was non-existent and two bridesmaids and a groomsman passed out from the heat. At the wedding reception, held in the bride's family backyard, the ground was so soaked that the chairs were sinking into the earth whenever anyone sat down. It was a race between which would melt first - the ice sculpture or the wedding cake.

And yet, the wedding couple was happy and smiling. All the guests took their cues from them. Because they were calm and unstressed, the guests remained calm and happy. What could have been a disastrous afternoon turned out to be fun and actually frivolous as everyone took off their shoes and tramped around in the mud, eating, drinking, and even dancing in bare feet. Twenty years later and that marriage is still going strong and whenever we are together, we all recall what a wedding it was! There was no wedding stress at that wedding - and everything that could go wrong did go wrong!

Make your wedding what you, as the wedding couple, want it to be! Don't sweat the small stuff. Whether you are having an elaborate traditional wedding, an at-home informal wedding reception or a destination wedding, the most important thing to remember is that you are getting married to the person you love and everything else is secondary.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wedding Gown Selection Ideas

Selecting a wedding gown is one of the most exciting parts of getting married. Wedding gowns are fantasy dresses that every bride dreams of, startiing when she is a little girl. Whether it's a custom-made medieval wedding dress or an off-the-rack wedding gown you bought on the Internet, there are several tips you should follow to make sure you get the wedding gown of your dreams.

1. Set your price limit and stick to it.

Wedding gowns are expensive and if you are on a wedding budget, you don't want to spend $5,000 on a gown and have no money left for anything else.

2. Know your figure shape.

Models are super thin and anything looks good on them. Really look at yourself and determine exactly what you look like. Invite someone to go with you to be brutally honest as to how it looks. Here is a site that will help you make that determination.

3. Ask for help.

Talk to everyone you know who has gotten married; see where they got their gowns. Ask the bridal shop their opinion, and let them know your wedding budget considerations. Ask your mother, especially if she is paying for the wedding dress.

4. Don't shop on weekends.

Make your appointment with the bridal salon for during the week. If you can, take the afternoon off from work. Invite your mother and other advisers to lunch and then keep that appointment with the bridal shop. During a weekday, the salon personnel are not as busy and their attention can be focused towards your needs.

5. Lie about your wedding date.

This is especially true if your gown is not off the rack. Push the date up at least a month to ensure that you will receive the wedding dress in time. This also allows enough time for any alterations that need to be made - and they always need to be made.

6. Don't be coerced.

This is another good reason to bring someone with you as you try on wedding dresses. Over eager sales clerks may try to get you to purchase a more expensive gown when the less expensive one looks perfect on you. Another head is always good for those decisions.

7. Take your time.

Unless you've walked into a bridal warehouse and the wedding is next week, or you are part of the running of the brides, take your time in selecting a wedding dress. Try on quite a few, take some notes about the ones you really like, maybe even a photo of you in the gowns. Then go home. Go over the wedding dresses, review the prices, and narrow it down to your two or three favorite gowns. Return to the salon and try them on again. Don't let anyone, especially a sales clerk who sees a commission, pressure you in to choosing a wedding dress until you are ready.

8. Take your own tape measure.

A brand new vinyl one for your measurements should ensure that what is ordered is what you get, so you won't have to worry about too many alterations that can be very costly. Store tapes are older and stretched out, so you may get the wrong size wedding dress delivered.

Shopping for your wedding gown should be fun and exciting. Make sure you feel that way throughout the process. If you don't, you're in the wrong store or with the wrong people.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Forget the Marriage License!

There are a number of "must do's" for a wedding to go on smoothly. Finding a location, mailing wedding invitations, asking someone to officiate, buying a wedding dress, and hiring a photographer are all very important aspects to the success of the day. But there is one thing that you must do if you want your wedding to go off without a hitch (and be valid). That is - get the marriage license.

After my freshman year in college, I had a summer job with the Cuyahoga County Marriage License Bureau. I spent my time issuing licenses, and doing genealogy searches and other "official paper work" that pertained to marriage and weddings.

You'd be surprised how many couples forget - until the last minute - to get that little piece of paper that makes all the wedding preparations legal and binding. While a wedding may be a celebratory occasion that shows your love and commitment to each other, it is also a legal contract with certain obligations that must be met.

Marriage license requirements vary from state to state. This site provides you with a synopsis of the marriage license rules for each state. Some states issue licenses that are valid only in the county where they are purchased. That means that your wedding ceremony has to take place within the borders of that county. One foot over the line into the next county and your wedding certificate isn't legal.

Some require blood tests or a waiting period, and some absolutely mandate that the bride and groom apply for the license together in person. If the couple is under 18 years of age, some places require proof of marriage counseling before issuing the license.

When I worked at the Marriage License Bureau, everyone who came in had a different way of handling his or her applications. Some were happy about getting their marriage license and talked all about the wedding. Others were stressed and nervous and just wanted to get it over with! Others forgot to bring all their paperwork - divorce decrees, K1 Visas, birth certificates - and had to return with them. Some applicants were way too young to even be thinking of weddings - they hadn't even finished high school!

I distinctly remember one couple who invited both sets of parents, siblings, and the wedding attendants to come as they applied for the license. One bridesmaid even showed me the invitation for everyone to meet at noon at the County Courthouse and then go on to a pre-wedding lunch. When I handed them their license, the groom immediately handed it to the Maid of Honor who carefully put it away for after the wedding ceremony in two days. Then they all happily went off to their luncheon. I have to say that they were the happiest group that entire summer!

Make sure your wedding goes off without a hitch - get your marriage license as soon as your state's law allows!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

You are in love, you are engaged, and you want to have the best wedding possible for your wedding budget. You also have a job or live in a town other than the one where you will be getting married and time is slipping away from you as if you were in an hourglass. What can you do to alleviate the stress and actually get to your wedding on time, on budget and happy?

Hire a wedding planner!

This does not take you off the hook for major decisions, but it does mean that you have someone connected to the wedding and event planning industry. Someone in your locale who will assist you in navigating the shoals of the wedding sea.

The wedding planner (or consultant or coordinator - they have many titles) should be certified. One of the best ways to find a person who will meet your needs is to ask friends for recommendations or to contact the Association of Bridal Consultants for professionals in your area. Ask for references and follow up on them. To get a hint of what wedding planners do, check out a few episodes of "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" for a glimpse into their not-so-glamorous world.

There are many different kinds of services that a wedding planner provides. They can just consult for a couple of hours a month to keep you on task for your own wedding planning. They can be hired for just the day of wedding (and possibly rehearsal) to act as an on-site director for all details concerning the wedding day itself. That way you won't have to bother with a catering crisis as you walk down the aisle. But the most comprehensive wedding planner package is for full-service. This means the wedding planner will help you plan the wedding itself from start to finish and will be with you on your wedding day as the on-site coordinator.

The wedding planner you should hire, especially for a full service package, should:

  • Listen to your ideas and research the options to satisfy your concept of your wedding
  • Come up with an overall wedding plan that meets your tastes and wedding budget
  • Make appointments with vendors (and go with you to get special deals)
  • Ensure that everything goes smoothly by staying in touch with the vendors and other service providers (this also means having an in-budget back up if the vendor screws up)
  • Be on hand at the wedding itself to handle services and details
  • Act as liaison between warring parties (parents, caterers, room providers) and find solutions to all difficulties

Make certain you can afford NOT to have a wedding planner, or budget one into your overall wedding budget at the very beginning of the planning process. A good wedding planner may be a necessity rather than a luxury, so think about it, and plan accordingly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wedding Thank You Notes

Weddings are joyous occasions, and generally the folks you invite to your wedding feel that joy with you. The most obvious way that most people express their pleasure in your getting married is by giving you a wedding gift.

Some people will enclose money in a wedding money holder or a check in a wedding card. Others will take the time to check the wedding registries and go to the store to buy an item you requested. More money will be spent on gift wrap to ensure that you have a lovely gift to open and they will schlep the gift to the wedding, even though they are dressed to the nines (and hauling a huge package is difficult in dress shoes!). Others will stand in line at the post office or UPS to send you the gift if they cannot make the wedding itself.

All you have to do is write a wedding thank you note. How hard is that?

You'd be amazed at how many weddings I've attended over the years and never received one word of acknowledgment that my gift was even received, let alone appreciated! This lack of common courtesy is more common than you think.

DO NOT be one of those wedding couples who put it off until you forget to ever thank the giver! Many tout that wedding etiquette indicates that you have a year to send thank you notes, but seriously, the sooner you thank people the better they will feel about you.

No matter how small a gift someone has given you, or even if it's so completely hideous that it will send small animals fleeing for the hills, remember that the giver went out of his or her way to do something nice for you. The person made an effort on your behalf and you need to show your appreciation.

Try to write your wedding thank you notes as soon as you receive a gift. It won't take but a few minutes to say a few nice things about the gift, sign the card, address the envelope, and set it aside to mail. If you do all the thank you notes at one time, it will necessitate a larger block of time and you may not be able to finish them all at once - which will only delay your thanks even more.

Keep a record of each gift you receive. Your wedding planner book should have several pages where you can do this - listing the gifts and the givers. Don't open any gifts you receive by mail unless you have this list nearby so you can record addresses and such. Make sure your fiance also records all gifts given. When you’ve written a thank you note, indicate it in the book so that you know how far along in the process you are.

Send those thank you notes as soon as you return from your honeymoon! This way you won’t be embarrassed when someone calls six months down the line to ask if you ever received the gift, and you have to say, “Um, yes, I just haven't gotten around to thanking you yet!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

KISS Older Couple Wedding

I attended a wedding for an "older" couple last Saturday. Although it was a second wedding for the bride, it was a first time for the groom. Since the couple was together for 13 years before the wedding, it was more of a party to celebrate their love rather than a new beginning. (Here is a good article about "older wedding couples" and their needs.)

I asked the bride why it had taken them so long to make it official and she said, "Between my kids and their weddings, my parents passing on and then the grandkids coming, we never had time for ourselves. Now that everything is settled we decided to have the wedding I always wanted and never had." (Her first wedding was a hasty elopement when she was quite young.)

I have to say, that the bride kept the wedding simple and stunning. It truly was a KISS wedding, starting with the informal wedding gown, on through the wedding ceremony and ending with the wedding reception. As her parents are gone, the bride walked down the aisle accompanied by three bridesmaids and her little granddaughters. Her wedding gown silhouette was simple and elegant - no ball gown billowing out behind her. The bridesmaids all wore simple and flattering black tea length dresses that were age appropriate. Only the cute little flower girls had frills on their dresses. (They were the bride's three- and four-year-old granddaughters.)

After the wedding ceremony, the bridal couple eschewed the traditional receiving line and went around to each guest, greeting everyone as we all stood outside the church. No one threw anything, which made me happy - rice isn't good for birds, and bird seed is messy as the birds can attack to get it. Rose petals are a mess to clean up, too.

The wedding reception was fun and had some really poignant touches. As we entered the party center, there was a table set up with the guest book and place cards. Behind this was an open photo book of all the family who were gone. I saw the bride's parents, her aunt and uncle, my mom, uncle and even my grandmother. It was a nice gesture and made all of us quite nostalgic about the times when we were quite young.

Instead of wedding favors, there were signs on each table stating that the funds that would have been spent on the wedding favors were instead donated to the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer's Society.

A pretty wedding wishing well was set up for any additional donations to these societies, as well as a nice box for wedding cards for the wedding couple.

I really like that the wedding couple didn't throw bouquets or garters, and that the wedding cake was sliced and wrapped up for guests to take home.

This was a simple wedding where everyone danced, talked, and interacted with the wedding couple, who made a point of spending time with each guest.

This was an informal yet touching wedding and I am so glad I could share some of it with you. It just goes to show that keeping it simple doesn't preclude having a lot of heart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Wedding Trends in a Tough Economy

More wedding trends happening in this economic slowdown, according to “ The Wedding Report:”

Outdoor weddings are very popular.

Holding your wedding outdoors (weather permitting of course) is a good way to economize. (Here is a good site to help you organize this.) Having it in a large backyard, a park or even the grounds of a museum are often less costly than a paying for a traditional church and secondary location, such as a hotel, country club or banquet hall. This means that you have a shorter reception, usually in off-peak hours. Since you are having ceremony and wedding reception at the same location, you can also take advantage of the all-inclusive wedding packages that many caterers and vendors offer.

Wedding couples prefer buffet reception dinners to sit‐down meals

Sit down dinners are extremely expensive. These usually cost more than $35 per person whereas a buffet can equal out to about $7-$15 per person. You also seem to have more choices as to the kinds of foods served and the side dishes.

There are other options, such as food stations, appetizers, and desserts-only. I went to a wedding recently where the wedding couple’s family had provided an entire table of desserts and pastries for a crowd of 250 people, along with a small wedding cake. (Here is a site that will help you set your wedding budget so you can determine what you are going to pay for food)

Amateurs (friends or family members) more often do the photography.

With the rise of digital cameras wedding couples have the option to request that several members of their family (or friends) take all their photos. Sites like PhotoWorks can provide elegant wedding photo books and prints so that wedding couples having family/friends take the pictures can still have professional-looking results. Plus you get photo books that are put together with their favorite pictures from a number of different sources. Those who are hiring professionals are settling on smaller packages and supplementing their pictures with table disposable digital cameras and fewer set portraits.

Brides are spending less on wedding gowns.

One of the most expensive items a bride can purchase is her wedding gown. Unless she has unlimited funds available, many brides are also seeking vintage or second-hand wedding gowns. (A good article on how to find these types of wedding dresses is located at this site.)

Hugely decorated ball gown styles are being replaced in many cases with simpler color accented informal gowns that provide a narrower silhouette. Brides are buying wedding and bridesmaids' dresses online, from discounted wedding gown sites, and even from overseas. (This has precipitated a rise in alterations to make the wedding gowns fit better, but someone had to benefit from this trend.)

Also many brides, instead of hermetically sealing the wedding gown away are reselling their wedding gowns on places like eBay. (There is even a site dedicated to this located here!) In some cases, brides are purchasing their wedding gowns and bridesmaids gowns as a package so that there is a price break.

Destination weddings are becoming more popular.

While these all-inclusive destination wedding packages at different resorts have been popular for quite some time, wedding couples are seeking destinations closer to where they live as their option for wedding and honeymoon packages. Fewer people are being asked to accompany the couple and since they will be paying their own way to the wedding, including travel and accommodations, the actual cost of the wedding will be decreased accordingly.

As more trends develop over the next several months, the Wedding Report (and I) will be here to let you know about them as you plan your wedding in these bleak economic times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wedding Trends in a Slow Economy

There are several trends in weddings these days that are reflective of the economic unrest that has gripped the United States and the world. Weddings are expensive and time-consuming, but they are also the fulfillment of many a young woman's dreams, so in order to accommodate both the shrinking dollar and the dream, many wedding couples are making sacrifices.

According to "The Wedding Report" there several trends that wedding couples are following in this era of high prices and shrinking funds. Here are the first four (the rest next time!):

Holding weddings on off-peak days, times and months is more common.

Holding a wedding ceremony and wedding reception on a Thursday or Friday evening, a Sunday brunch wedding reception, or an early afternoon wedding ceremony and short afternoon wedding reception are becoming more popular - and cost effective. By choosing to have the wedding on less common days, many wedding couples are getting discounted rates. Off season weddings, such as winter weddings are also growing in popularity since vendors need to fill their own calendars to break even.

Wedding budgets are shrinking and couples are looking for bargains.

Wedding couples are seeking more bargains, comparing vendor prices and generally seeking discounts or extras for their hard earned dollars. Smaller guest lists equal less money for food, wedding favors, and other accouterments of a wedding reception. Even small wedding cakes with one or two layers for the ceremonial cake-cutting are a growing trend, with sheet cakes for dessert being used behind the scenes as the wedding dessert.

All-inclusive wedding packages are also currently popular, which save couples money, as well as time on wedding planning.

The average wedding costs $27,000. Think what you could do with that kind of money if you cut costs and planned accordingly!

Do-it-yourself projects are replacing wedding products and services.

Couple can save oodles of money by using printable wedding invitations and printable wedding programs and other stationery. This does not mean that the invitations are printed on notebook paper, but with good card stock or handmade papers, they can give an impression of elegance without breaking the wedding budget. Wedding evites and save-the-date cards are also becoming popular to save on postage and paper.

Couples are choosing to tackle weddings projects themselves, such as creating their own wedding reception decorations, wedding flower arrangements,wedding favors, and desserts.

Using iPods and mp3 players for music is trendy.

With a little bit of creativity and a sense of fun, wedding couples can create their own wedding play lists and save money by using iPods, other mp3 players, and laptops to play music during their wedding reception instead of hiring a traditional band or DJ.

My uncle used to MC for family weddings and arranged the play list for the band or DJ. He knew the family names and any ethnic music needed for wedding dances etc. If he could do it in the pre-iPod days, there has to be someone in the family who can do it now! In today's technology driven world, ask someone who is good with electronics and play lists to take over this task for the wedding itself.

These and the remainder of the wedding trends are all on a course to save the wedding couple money. It’s not how much you spend, but where you spend it that defines the simple and elegant style of your wedding. Keep that in mind.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Spring Wedding Ideas

While June is traditionally the wedding season of the year, you may want to skip a summer wedding in favor of a fresh spring wedding. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal – a perfect time for the new adventure that a marriage brings. Yet in the race for most popular time of year to get married, spring is a distant third place behind summer and autumn. This is good news if you're planning a spring wedding, as more top-notch vendors will be available, and you may be able to get discounted rates, especially on sites and travel.

If you're considering a spring wedding, start off by thinking about your favorite parts of the season. Is it crocuses poking up through snow? Perhaps you'll want to have a wedding early in the season and offer the respite of floral abundance and warmth when guests come in from the cold. If it's the emerging sunshine, choose bright colors and May weather. Whatever you choose, remember to plan early to get the best deals – on vendors, wedding dresses and other wedding attire, caterers, and everything related to a wedding reception.

Here is a wedding theme idea to get you started on planning your spring wedding:

A Green Wedding Theme

It started as a trend in 2007, continued in 2008 and will be huge in 2009! Many couples are realizing that if we don't take care of our planet, who will? Your wedding reception is full of opportunities to make ethical, informed decisions as well as many opportunities for waste. If you're an environmentalist, consider using organic flowers in your bouquet, recycled paper in your invitations, local and organic foods at your reception, and even biodegradable plates and forks. Each step can make a difference in this world!

Wedding Invitations

A wedding invitation is the first clue guests will get about your wedding style and theme. It helps get them excited for the big event, and even gives guests clues about what to wear! Letterpress wedding invitations are an especially big wedding trend, with couples designing custom invitation packages to reflect their personality.

But if your wedding budget doesn't stretch for top-of-the-line letter pressed invitations there are many other options. Consider making your own printable wedding invitations and other wedding stationery, using handmade papers to carry out your recycling green wedding idea. (Here is a good site that can show you how to make your own handmade paper to use in your wedding invitations. This is the ultimate recycling in a green wedding theme!)

Small Plates or Tapas

Give your guests a taste of a wide variety of appetizers by offering them tapas. Particularly if you are looking to have a sophisticated food station evening wedding, an afternoon affair or you don't quite have room to have a sit-down dinner, this is a useful trend. Alternatively, serve tapas at your cocktail hour, creating an urban lounge atmosphere for a sophisticated touch.

These small plates are filled with a wide range of appetizers and foods that will fill up your guests and not break your wedding budget. Then you can splurge on the wedding cake and desserts!

You can host a lovely spring wedding and experience the joy that what you are doing will help save the planet for other spring weddings to come.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wedding Flowers

Wedding flowers may be as simple or elaborate as your wedding budget allows. If you really want to go for a more economical wedding, you might consider limiting the number of flowers that you use in the bouquets, the ceremony decorations and even at the tables as centerpieces. (Here are some pictures of wedding bouquets of all different types for you to check out. It might help you select the types you want for your wedding.)

Let's face it, flowers are expensive and you may want to spend your wedding budget on things like wedding invitations, food, the wedding dress, or gifts for your wedding attendants. However, you can still incorporate flowers into your wedding design and save money.

I was at a simple wedding a couple of weeks ago where the bride and groom decided that the church was not in need of additional decoration (except for a runner down the aisle). All the bride carried was a small wedding bouquet of six red roses and her attendants carried six white roses each. It was simple, elegant, and not overdone.

One of the things I really liked about the wedding bouquets was that they were manageable and graceful. I mean I've seen some wedding bouquets that are so large that they overwhelm the bride and you could hardly see her wedding dress. These wedding bouquets are as awkward as they are ostentatious and they actually detract from the wedding design rather than enhance it.

The key to using flowers at your ceremony is not to over-decorate. Tasteful, small, well-placed arrangements impress without cluttering or overwhelming the view.

At the wedding reception, instead of having huge centerpieces on each table you can incorporate a number of trends that still use flowers in the wedding design, but aren't as costly. Depending on how many tables and how formal you are going to be, consider small terra cotta pots (or even decorated pots) of flowering plants. Fill small bowls with fruits for color and style. Place a wedding sticker on the terra cotta pot or the bowl with your names, wedding date, and a welcome message to your guests. Surround a candle with a small wreath of flowers in your wedding colors. There are many alternatives to using expensive full centerpieces of only flowers - and they look really nice, too!

If you have your heart set on having flowers, limit your costs by buying in bulk and creating your own flower arrangements. Costco offers a wide variety of flower arrangements and types so that all you have to do is supply the vases and determine where the flowers are going to go. You can get quite a lot for less than $800. In this day and age, that is quite a steal. There are also online vendors who will allow you to purchase the flowers in bulk; then all you have to do is make up the bouquets and centerpieces yourself. Here is one that specializes in wedding flowers, and you can even buy a DIY wedding flower arranging video to help you create your own wedding flower bouquets and arrangements.

Flowers are important to a wedding but if your wedding budget prohibits you from getting a lot of them, improvise and you can still incorporate some into your wedding day!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wedding Reception Flow

A wedding reception has a certain rhythm and flow to it that will ensure all have a good time. It helps the flow if you establish a time table as to when certain activities - toast, eat, cut wedding cake and so on, – will occur. It takes the stress and guess work out of the wedding reception flow.

I recently attended a wedding reception where the wedding couple provided a printed menu at each place setting with a wedding program and timeline on the other side that delineated what and who were doing what at each time. It seemed a bit excessive, but it helped them keep the wedding reception flowing nicely.

If you did not have a receiving line at the wedding ceremony site, take the first half-hour and do this. Greet all your guests! Make sure you have music to entertain the guests as they stand in line to greet you and as they mingle in the cocktail area.

After the receiving line ends and guests have mingled and put their place cards at their tables, you should start making your way around the room, having casual conversations with your guests and creating a festive atmosphere. The photographer should be taking candid shots as well during this second half-hour.

Once the cocktail hour is done, dinner is announced. The wedding party is introduced and seated. If you are so inclined, your officiant or parents may say a blessing. Guests are served or dismissed table by table to line up for the buffet.

As soon as everyone has been served, the best man, maid of honor and other special wedding attendants offer a wedding toast to the bride and groom. (Here is a good site to help them compose that toast.) It is optional if you want to respond or if your parents want to then thank everyone for coming.

If you are having wedding cake as dessert, you may choose to have your wedding cake cutting ceremony at this time so that by the time everyone is finished eating, the cake will be served.

Once the first course has been cleared from all the tables it is time for the wedding couple to dance for the first time as husband and wife. This is followed by the father-daughter, mother-son and in-laws dances. (Some fun wedding dance ideas are located at this site.)

These dances may take place before dinner begins or after the entree. Regardless, it's always good to have them while the guests are seated so that everyone gets a chance to see what are usually quite moving moments in the lives of the wedding couple and their parents.

Once the tables are cleared the dancing resumes with everyone. During the last hour or so it's time for the wedding bouquet and garter tosses. Once the the wedding bouquet is tossed to all the single women and the groom tosses the bride's garter to all the single men, all the traditional rituals are over.

It is after this that in the old days, the wedding couple used to change clothes and slip away for their honeymoon after saying farewell only to parents and a few close friends, but nowadays, they are more likely to stay and dance until the very end.

A smooth flow to a wedding reception ensures that all the traditions are observed and everyone involved has a good time!