Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who to Tip, When to Tip, and How Much to Tip: A Guide to Wedding Vendor Tips

As if thousand dollar cakes, cars and corsages weren’t enough to stress out even the most well-intending budget-minded bride, you also have to worry about rules.

And no, I’m not talking about these rules. Or even these.

I’m talking about who you have tip, when you have to tip and-most importantly-how much you have to tip.

It is downright mind-boggling!

But there is help.

According to, unless service charges are outlined in your contract, you aren’t obligated to tip. That being said, many vendors appreciate-and secretly expect-a little extra love. So here is your own little mini-guide to wedding vendor tipping to help you understand who to tip, when to tip them and how much to tip!


Wedding Planner
Your wedding planner doesn’t expect a tip, however if she went above and beyond her duties, feel free to offer her a token gift and/or offer to write a testimonial for her website or brochures. As the bride, you will have likely spent most of the time with your planner. You can create a specially-crafted thank you card from American Greetings, enclose the check and either hand it to her discreetly at the end of the night or mail it to her following your honeymoon. The standard gift is up to $500.00

Musicians - Ceremony Musicians
This depends on who your musicians are and if you are already paying them to perform at your wedding. Many churches require their organist to be on-site and include their payment in with your rental fees. If this is the case, there is no need to tip. Otherwise, you can tip between $15-20 per musician after the ceremony.

- Reception Musicians, such as DJ or Band
Again, this is an optional group to tip, but if they worked hard to engage your crowd, were easy to meet with before the wedding and pulled your wedding off without a hitch, then feel free to ask the best man to slip them an envelope at the end of the night. The standard is $20-$25 per live musician and up to $100 for the DJ.

Videographers / Photographers
Absolutely not expected, but if you are feeling generous, some people tip photographers and videographers who don’t own the studio between $50-$200 per person at the end of the reception.


Although this falls into the “expected” category, it really depends on who the officiant is, whether he is affiliated with a church to which you have already made a donation or if you are already paying a nondenominational officiant for his time. The standard tip is $75-$100 per officiant and is usually paid in advance.

Delivery and Set-Up Staff
This group, including anyone who sets up items such as your cake, flowers, tents, chairs, etc gets a tip that ranges from $5-$10 per person. So you don’t have to worry about this on the Big Day, give your catering manager or wedding planner an envelope the day before your wedding and ask her to distribute the tips accordingly.

Hair and Makeup Staff
Just like you do when getting your trim, add in 15%-20% percent of the service and give it to your stylists once you are happy with your look.

Catering Staff

This group, including the on-site coordinator, banquet manager and servers get a tip, however read your fine print … it is often already added to your bill in the form of a service charge. If it isn't, expect to pay 15%-20% of the food and beverage fee, pre-tax. If it is included as a service charge, then you will likely settle this bill a few days before the wedding, otherwise, ask the best man to deliver an envelope to the maitre d’ at the end of the reception.


Just like with your catering staff, your driver’s tip is likely included in your transportation rental fee. If not, plan on 15%-20% percent of the final bill and ask the best man to hand it to the driver at the end of the night.

Do you have any other questions about tipping? If so, ask away!

Photo courtesy of jtyerse

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ethnic and Cultural Wedding Traditions, Part I

One of my favorite things about America is the multiple cultures, customs and traditions we share with our ancestors across the globe and there is no better time to honor your heritage than during your wedding. In part I of a two-part series on incorporating ethnic and cultural traditions into your wedding, I present you with ...

My Big, Fat Greek, Italian, Irish, Chinese Wedding: Traditions and Customs from Around the World.

Greek Wedding Customs

- For luck, abundance and a sweet marriage, a Greek bride carries a lump of sugar in her glove during the ceremony.

- To represent the Holy Trinity, the best man exchanges the rings between the bride and the groom three times.

- Two crowns made of either gold or twigs and orange blossoms are exchanged three times between the bride’s and groom’s heads.

- The crowned couple circles the church alter three times, representing their first steps together as a married couple.

For more Greek wedding customs, visit BrideHeaven.

Italian Wedding Customs

- It is customary for couples in northern Italy to walk to the wedding chapel together.

- To ward off evil spirits, an Italian groom carries a small piece of iron in his pocket.

- White candied-covered almonds called confetti symbolize good luck and fertility and are often tossed at the couple as they exit the church. Confetti are also wrapped in mesh bags and distributed to guests during the reception.

- To “raise funds” during the wedding reception, the groom’s friends cut his wedding tie into small pieces and sell them to guests as mementos of the day.

For more Italian wedding customs, visit WeddingItaly.

Irish Wedding Customs

- Irish brides consider it bad luck to put on their own veil. Instead, they ask a happily-married woman to put it on for her.

- English lavender, a symbol of love, loyalty and devotion is often mixed into the bride’s wedding flowers.

- An Irish bride usually braids her hair for her wedding day to symbolize feminine power and luck.

- A wedding on Saint Patrick’s Day is considered to be the luckiest anniversary in Ireland.

- The bride usually wears a ring called a Claddagh, which is a crowned heart held by two hands, representing faith, honor and love. The ring’s motto is “Let love and friendship reign.”

For more Irish wedding customs visit IrelandInformation.

Chinese Wedding Customs

- Red signifies love, joy and prosperity and is central to a Chinese wedding.

- The bride’s gown is often red, as are the invitations, favor boxes and envelopes. The couple’s homes are decorated in red on the day of the wedding.

- A Chinese groom is symbolically dressed by his parents on the morning of his wedding.

- The groom visits the bride’s home on his way to the ceremony and presents her friends with a cash gift wrapped in red tissue in exchange for letting her go.

- The bride and groom travel to the ceremony together.

For more Chinese wedding customs visit ChineseWeddings.

Be sure to come back next week for fresh ideas on incorporating these traditions into your wedding.

Photos courtesy of clea teclea, pigliapost, xyldes and CeeKay

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Four Common Wedding Attendant Roles (and their responsibilities)

Some people are natural-born athletes, others naturally gifted speakers, and still others are born with that innate gift to understand people and accept responsibilities. And then there are the people you have to push.

Same goes with your wedding attendants.

Some of the people you have asked into your wedding posse will automatically understand their role and know what they are supposed to do-and when they are supposed to do it. But others might need a little help.

Here are four of the most common wedding attendant roles and the responsibilities they have been waiting for you to pass on to them.

Maid /Matron of Honor
Pre and Post-Wedding
- assist bride in selecting her gown (either by helping her in person or by helping her track down her dress online)
- help bride select attire for herself and other bridesmaids
- assist bride with addressing invitations and organizing favors (this is especially fun if the bride can plan a girls night to finish wedding-related tasks)
- host bridal shower, with help from bridesmaids
- host bachelorette party, with assistance from other bridesmaids
- communicate with bridesmaids regarding dress shopping, fittings and gown delivery dates (for brides and attendants with iPhones, check out the new American Greetings iPhone app that lets you send personalized card photos directly to any email address)
- ensure bridesmaids have shoes and other accessories
- attend the rehearsal (and the dinner!)
- pay for her own wedding attire and accessories
- pay for her travel and lodging expenses

Wedding day
- assist the bride when she gets dressed
- accompany the bride to the ceremony
- carry the bride’s train as she walks to the ceremony room
- straighten the bride's veil and train before she walks down the aisle (and make sure her lipstick and mascara are all in place!)
- adjust the bride’s train after she stops at the front of the alter
- hold the bride's bouquet and the groom’s ring during ceremony
- make a toast to the bride and groom
- assist the bride with bustling her train before the reception
- accompany the bride to restroom during reception (and hold on to napkins, lipstick and breath mints that she might need throughout the night)
- gather mementos for the bride, such as program, favors, toasting glasses, etc.

Best Man
Pre and Post-Wedding
- assist the groom with tux / suit selection and notify groomsmen and ushers
- plan the bachelor party, with assistance from groomsmen and ushers
- attend rehearsal (if he is from the same town, he can offer to help transport out of town wedding attendants)
- collect tux rentals from out of town groomsmen and return them (so the bride and groom don’t have to worry about this on the first day of their honeymoon)
- pay for his wedding suit and accessories
- pay for his travel and lodging expenses

Wedding day
- assist groom with preparing transportation
- assist groom with getting ready for the wedding
- drive the groom to the ceremony
- hold the bride's ring during the wedding ceremony
- deliver the marriage license and payment to the officiant
- make first toast to the bride and groom (remember to keep it short and sweet-and clean!)
- transfer bride and groom's luggage to car or hotel room
- make sure car is ready for bride and groom to leave reception

- assist bride and maid of honor with dress selection (if the bride is unsure of what she wants, bridesmaids can help her brainstorm ideas and look up dress suggestions online)
- offer to help bride with addressing invitations or any DIY projects
- assist the maid of honor with hosting the shower and bachelorette party
- attend the rehearsal
- arrive at the ceremony site on time
- pay for their wedding attire and accessories, including hair and make-up
- pay for any travel and lodging expenses

Groomsmen / Ushers
- assist the best man in hosting the bachelor party
- attend the rehearsal
- arrive at the ceremony location on time
- pay for his wedding attire and accessories
- pay for his travel and lodging expenses

Did I leave anything out? What other duties do you think are important for wedding attendants?

Photo courtesy of pixieclipx

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Tips for Wedding Day Transportation

While it might not top your list of things to plan for your Big Day, wedding transportation is an important element of the day and is too often overlooked by busy, budget-conscience brides.

Can you imagine anything worse than hoping in the car with your new husband and being crushed between your mom and his dad? Uhm. Neither can I.

If you’d like to keep that classy exit in line with the other dazzling details of your wedding day, then read on. Here are five tips for choosing wedding day transportation and three things to keep in mind when scheduling the day.

Five Tips for Choosing Wedding Day Transportation

1. Remember Your Style
Back in March we discussed knowing your wedding day style and it is important to keep that in mind when selecting your get-a-way car. If you are having an uber-chic, modern wedding, then Cinderella’s carriage likely won’t go with your style du jour. On the other hand, Cinderella might not hop on a Harley.

2. Don’t Blow Your Budget
Yes, I know I just said it was important, but it is not budget-blowing important. Determine the maximum amount you can spend on wedding day transportation and choose options that fit within your specifications.

3. Plan for the Day
I know this sounds obvious, but take a few minutes and really think about the transportation you and your soon-to-be will need for your wedding day. Do you need to be transported to the ceremony, from the ceremony to reception and from the reception to your wedding night hotel? Do you just want transportation to make your “Big Exit?” When will you make your Big Exit-from the ceremony or from the reception?

4. Think of the “Others”
And “the others” I am referring to here are the parents, siblings and attendants who might also need transportation. If, for example, you hire a limo to transport you, your groom, your families and attendants to the ceremony, how will they get from the ceremony to the reception, assuming you and your groom travel that road alone?

5. Plan in Advance
Like many other aspects of your wedding, transportation options, especially is smaller cities or rural areas can book up quickly. Be sure to get a contract with important details, such as hourly rate, overtime rate and the exact car they will send for your wedding, in writing.

Three Things to Keep in Mind Regarding Scheduling

1. People
In most instances, guests will transport themselves to and from the wedding ceremony and reception. You know your group and you are likely to know who, if anyone, needs special assistance. If you are transporting more than one group in the same car, for example, the bride and her attendants, the groom and his attendants and special family members, be sure to plan accordingly.

2. Distance
When scheduling your car, speak to the driver regarding the specifics of the trip, ensure he has directions and knows where to park and confirm he has the schedule you sent to the company. (You will need to send a detailed schedule to the company a few days before the wedding.)

If the car has to make those multiple trips we described above, be sure to leave ample time for the car to go-and return-to the original location.

3. Timing
Be sure to plan for your car to drop you off well in advance of your guests’ arrival. You don’t want to walk up to the church next to your cousin’s new girlfriend. Even if you have to pay a little more, plan to have the bride and groom, and their attendants, to the ceremony early.

What other tips and advice do you have regarding wedding day transportation?

Photo courtesy of Caribb

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Using Social Media to Plan Your Wedding

Remember the old days when you would go to some generic-sounding search engine, type in your request and wait for a list of most-relevant websites to flash before you? And you thought that was cool?

Well, this ain’t your grandmother’s Internet, anymore. The social media sites of today are making it easier than ever for Internet-users to track down the information they need-when they want it-and share that information with the World Wide Web.

There is no doubt you already have a Facebook account, maybe you like to Stumble and you Tweet with your Twits every chance you get. But if you aren’t using these social media sites to help you plan your wedding, well … you are missing a piece of the Social Media puzzle.

Here are three of the best social media websites to use for planning your wedding!

We will start with the Mother of all Social Media websites, not only because the likelihood of you having an existing account are a zillion to one, but also because it is the easiest way for you to get started using social media to plan your wedding.

Did you know you could create a Facebook group specifically for the people you’ve invited to your wedding? It is a fun-and easy-way to keep everyone in the loop and helps keep out of town guests in the know. It can also be a great way to help build excitement for your upcoming nuptials.

If you are having a large number of attendants in your wedding, you could also create a group just for them. American Greetings recently introduced a new program that lets users send ecards directly to Facebook. This is yet another way you can woo your attendants and keep them motivated for your wedding.

Twitter is changing the way we share online information … 140 little characters at a time. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can get started here. Then, you can search for wedding bloggers, website owners and vendors and follow them. Sometimes they offer discounts, the latest news and reviews. You can also follow me, if you are so inclined!

StumbleUpon, or SU, is one of my favorite social media sites. I use it every day to quickly search through websites other Internet users have already tagged as worthy. All you need to do is sign up for an account, download the SU bar to your browser and start stumbling. To find relevant wedding sites, go to your homepage and in the upper right-hand corner, enter the search terms in the green box.

E’ voila! It is that simple.

** Remember, you can have too much of a good thing. Don’t go overboard with any of these outlets, spam your friends an overdose of wedding-related news and never (say it with me, never!) send wedding or shower invites via social media.

Do you use Social Media to help you in your wedding planning? If so, what sites do you recommend?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Wedding Guest Etiquette Q&A

Last week we discussed three of the most frequently asked questions regarding wedding guest etiquette. But that list was far from complete.

Today we are back to answer your etiquette questions regarding your guests and their little tagalongs.

Q: What to do when kids aren't invited and you're put on the spot when someone says, "but isn't it different for us since we are family?”

WW: Weddings bring out the best in people. Most of the time they are in a good mood, they are generous, they feel loving. Unfortunately, dear Bride-to-Be, it also brings out the worst. Many people can’t understand why you would want to exclude their little darlings from your Big Day and they can get down-right offended if their kiddos aren’t invited.

However, if you and your future spouse have opted for an adults-only wedding, then you have to stick your ground.

If you are put on the spot, tell the offending party that, unfortunately, the no-kids rule goes for family members, too.

If you feel like you must explain your decision-which you aren’t required to do, by the way-tell them you and your fiance have opted for an adults-only wedding. Stress the fact that it would make you look bad if non-family member guests showed up sans children, only to see other kids running and playing throughout the event.

If you can’t think of this quickly enough when you are on the spot, then call the family member as soon as possible and clarify the situation. Again, elaborate only where you feel you must and assure your wedding guest that it isn’t a personal attack on their children.

It is also perfectly acceptable for you to call guests who RSVP for their children and remind them you are having an adults-only reception.

Q: How do you handle guests who bring their children to an adults-only wedding, then the child proceeds to cry during the ceremony and doesn’t have a seat or meal at the reception?

WW: My number ONE rule for you regarding wedding day mishaps is to let it go. DON'T let any of your guests have that much control over you or your feelings on your wedding day.

However, if you are concerned this might happen, a little advance planning can go a long way to ease your worries.

Ask a friend to monitor for children entering the ceremony and tell her to direct all families with children either to the cry room (of a church) or to the back row.

This same friend can help control crying babies by politely asking their parents to step outside until the ceremony has ended.

Always plan for extra guests at your reception, either by leaving one or two seats open per table, or by asking your caterer to set an extra table for guests who didn't RSVP.

Did you experience anything like this during your wedding? How did you react?

Photos courtesy of jalvear and Xtream_i

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bachelorette Party Buzz: Get Your Girls Talking!

Ok, ok … so as the bride-to-be, it is not your place to plan your big bash. But, let’s face it. We all want some kind of send off from the single world we grew up in and we hope our friends will honor that event with style.

Since you can’t approach your friends and ask them if they plan on throwing you a bachelorette party … what can you do to start the discussion and get those fun girls’ night ideas flowing? Here are a couple of ideas that might help.

1. Host Your Own Party

Noooo, not your bachelorette party … just a fun, girls-only party. Gather your bridesmaids, sisters and cousins and invite them to your place for a Girls’ Night In. Choose a theme based on your group’s personality. Some examples include:

- Margaritas and a Movie
- Cosmos with Carrie (Sex in the City marathon)
- Popcorn and Pedis
- Flashback Fright Night (with 90s horror movies, such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream)

Here are a few tips to help you pull this off.

- Plan your party at least two to three months before your wedding. You don’t want it to look like you are throwing your own Bachelorette Bash and you want to give your friends plenty of time to discuss how they'd like to honor your last weekend as a Ms.

- Host the party at your house. It will be more conducive to sharing and give you a chance to really talk to your friends.

- Speaking of friends … don’t overdo it. Instead of inviting every girl you know, limit this fest to your bridesmaids, sisters and closest female relatives.

- Don’t make this night all about your wedding. In fact, try not to talk about it at all. You’ll bore your friends with too-much wedding talk and they might feel like you invited them over to help you plan your wedding. They will likely ask you about wedding plans. If they do, share the information you are willing to share, then steer the conversation in another direction.

- Watch your budget. This doesn’t have to be an expensive event. Think of it as an excuse to hang out with your closest friends and only spend what you can afford.

- Don’t bring up the topic of your Bachelorette Party. Someone else will mention it and will likely ask your opinion. Be patient. Trust me. They’ll bring it up.

2. Talk to Your Sister

What is a sister for if you can’t talk to her about off-limits topics and delicate situations? While this advice is really only good for those of us who have a sis, she is a great person to tell about what you’d like to do-and hate to do-at your Bachelorette Party. If you won’t feel like you’ve partied unless you have hit the dance floor-tell her that. If you’d prefer a coffee shop theme with books and caps to a Las Vegas Showgirl night on the town, be sure she knows that, as well.

Looking for a few fun ideas for a Bachelorette Party? Check out these 14 ideas and themes from TheKnot.Com.

Photo courtesy of eralon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bridal Etiquette Q&A-Top Wedding Guest Etiquette Questions Answered

Every bride and her mother has an opinion on what constitutes a perfect wedding and on how perfectly the new bride executed her duties … and they are all too quick to point out if she committed a wedding faux pas.

While it is impossible for a bride to please everyone, there are certain wedding rules she should obey.

Here are three of the most frequently asked wedding guest etiquette questions and tips on how to handle these sometimes-not-so-delicate situations.

1. Do we have to send a wedding invitation to everyone who attended our engagement party?

WW: First of all, congratulations on announcing your engagement with a bang-I love engagement parties. But to answer your question … yes. Everyone who receives an invitation to your engagement party should receive an invitation to your wedding.

It is for this reason experts recommend that couples don’t do anything until they have established their guest list … just too much revolves around it.

The same goes for your wedding shower or any other pre-wedding events you have. Once again, if you invite someone to your engagement party, wedding shower or bridal shower, they will expect to be invited to the wedding.

*The exception to this is when your coworkers host a shower for you at work.

2. How do I ask guests to BYOB?

WW: Well, you don’t. Even if you are having an informal wedding, guests should never be asked to pull out their wallet (as in cash bars) or even worse-asked to bring their own liquor. It is considered poor taste. If you can’t afford a full bar, then you can either 1) limit your choices to beer and wine only 2) omit drinks during the cocktail hour or 3) shorten your reception time.

3. Do I have to include a +1 on my invitations for single guests?

WW: The short answer is NO. It is your wedding and you are not required to invite-and buy dinner for-someone you don’t know, in this case, your single guests’ dates. That being said, there are some exceptions you might want to consider:

- If any of your guests have had a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend, then that person should be included on the invitation. Use your good judgment to define “long-term” and try to be consistent with all of your guests. You want your guests to feel comfortable at your wedding, but you aren’t required to invite their boyfriend du jour to your big bash.

- Live-ins. Likely if someone has a live-in boyfriend/girlfriend, they fit in the “long-term” category above. Remember, many people consider their live-ins to be spousal and are offended if that person isn’t invited to your wedding. I know people who have declined to attend a wedding, simply because of this unfortunate oversight.

- If you have guests who are traveling a great distance, either by car or plane, or who will have to spend the night in a hotel, it is considerate to include a +1 on their invitations, even if they don’t have a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you’d feel if you had to travel a long distance, spend the night by yourself and essentially be alone throughout the wedding.

Do you have any etiquette questions? If so, leave them in the comments or send me an email at and I’ll answer them next week!

Photo courtesy of
Auntie P

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eight Ways to Keep the Romance Alive in Your Wedding (Planning)

While it may seem silly that anyone planning a wedding would have to work at the romance, even newly engaged couples feel the monotony of day-to-day life. Add in the extra stress that comes-physically and financially-with wedding planning and even the strongest couples could feel the sizzle, well fizzle.

But don’t worry. It is nothing you and your soon-to-be can’t work out.

Here are eight ways to keep the romance alive in your wedding (planning).

1. Enjoy a Romantic No-Wedding-Talk Dinner
One of the biggest things grooms hate about the wedding planning process is, well, the wedding planning process. They love you, but unlike you, they don’t need-or want-to hear the nitty-gritty day in and day out.

Plan a romantic dinner for you and your honey where you vow not to talk about the wedding-at all! In fact, it is even better if you can devote only one day per week where you and your groom get together on wedding details. I did this (mostly) with my husband and it was magical. He actually listened when I brought up the wedding and I didn’t bore him to death with the dirty details.

2. Plan a Mini-Splurge Surprise
Your future husband understands how important this wedding is to you and he is (likely) ok with the back seat he has taken since he popped the question. So, how about showing him that he is still #1 by planning a surprise event that is just up his alley. Whether he is a baseball fan, would enjoy a weekend break or has a favorite restaurant, find something he’ll love-and surprise him with it!

3. Who Doesn’t Love Coupons
Speaking of things he loves … why not print out some sexy coupons at American Greetings, wrap them up and give them to him as a “just because” present.

4. Split Up (But Just for a Day)
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so why not take a day-or if you currently live together, a night-apart? You’ll realize how much you miss each other and will have tons to talk about when you reunite.

5. The Way to a Man’s Heart …
is still through his stomach. So, to spice things up, why not recreate one of his favorite childhood dishes, make his (new) favorite meal or bake his favorite dessert? He’ll appreciate the time and effort it took you and be reminded why he asked you to be his Mrs.

6. Sexy Reminders
And I guess we could all use a reminder every now and then. When your fiancé isn’t looking, slip sweet love notes into places he’ll likely find them. I recently took an international trip without my husband. Before I left, I planted eight notes around the house, inside his CD holder, in his jeans, even between the towels. He loved it-and I loved hearing about it each time he found one.

7. Just “Get It”
No one is perfect all of the time and even your “Mr. Perfect” is bound to make a mistake. When he has to work late, forgets to call on time or doesn’t respond how you’d like him to, be understanding. It will ease his tension, keep you in a good mood and help you both foresee your beautiful life together.

8. Turn Off the TV
Even the strongest couples get into the bad habit of turning on the TV when they walk in the door or crashing in front of a good movie before they go to sleep. Instead of having a movie night, why not pop open a bottle of wine and talk … about your day, about what is going on with your friends and families and about your hopes and dreams.

Looking for more ideas? Cosmo recently listed 23 ways to keep your romance live on their website. It’s fun stuff and definitely worth checking out.

Photos courtesy of Mr. Brown and inju

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Three Mistakes Many Brides Make

We’ve all heard stories of the overbearing, obnoxious bride who demands everyone bow to her because, after all, SHE’S THE BRIDE.

Bridesmaids hide in the closet to escape from her. The groom works late shifts to avoid her. Even her mother doesn’t know how to deal with her.

When we hear of this bride … one word comes to mind.

Uhm. No. That’s not the “b” word I was thinking of …

It is Bridezilla.

Bridezilla is the bride who thinks she is the only woman who ever got married and feels as if the world owes her the wedding of her dreams.

But she isn’t the only “bride” we’ve seen with issues.

Here are the top three brides most often seen, the mistakes they make and tips on how to avoid becoming one of them.

1. SuperBride
Whether it comes from guilt at asking too much of others or out of egotistical pride at always doing everything well, many brides fail when it comes to asking for help-and they turn into SuperBride.

I was one of them. Almost.

See, I am usually the one other brides come to when they need help or have wedding-related questions, so it was hard for me to relinquish duties to others.

An easy solution for this bride is to ask friends or family members to help with
some of the DIY items or ask for help in researching certain aspects of the wedding.

2. The Incredible Shrinking Bride
So you’ve always dreamed of your special day, imagined the cake, the flowers, the dress-and thought, most of all, of how YOU would look when you walk down the aisle.

This is absolutely normal.

All brides want to look their best and we want to hear our guests gasping “Oh! She is just beauuutiful” as we march down the aisle. But that doesn’t mean we should go on crash diets, live at the gym or pledge to eat only cabbage soup until the Big Day.

Focusing too much on losing pre-wedding weight can add to an already stressful situation, can put a strain on your relationships and can easily spiral out of control.

Making life changing habits, such as healthy eating and regular exercise is one thing, trying to lose too much weight, too fast-just for your wedding day-is a mistake.

To help keep yourself on track from becoming this bride, try to eat more fruit and vegetables, exercise when you can and focus on a healthy lifestyle. In addition, considering purchasing a gown that has a corset back. These dresses fit brides one size larger and one size smaller than the dress size, thus eliminating the worry of whether your dress will fit on your Big Day.

3. The I-Can-Do-Anything-at-the-Last-Minute Bride
Thinking you can do anything the morning of your wedding, including place cards, flowers or decorating, is a mistake. Believe me, no matter what time your wedding starts, you won’t feel like you have enough time in the day to do the things you have to do-like shower, visit with your friends, have your hair done. You don’t want to add anything on top of this.

If there are certain things you feel must be done the morning of your wedding, get your friends and family members involved, create a detailed list and delegate. You’ll be glad you did.

What other mistakes do you think brides often make when planning their weddings? What advice can you offer them?

Photo courtesy of RockSee

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gift Registry 101, Part II: Gift Registry Ideas

In a post earlier this week we discussed how the rules of etiquette apply to gift registry, but now it is time for some fun.

If you are new to the gift wedding industry-yes, it is an industry now-you might not be aware of all of the fun, new, exciting options available to couples. So, I’ll help you out.

Here are three types of wedding registries, with tips to help you decide which registry is right for you.

Traditional Gift Registries
Traditional registries include major department stores and boutique stores where couples choose items, aka-gifts, they’d like to have in their home. The Internet is full of websites that offer suggestions on what to register for, but it is important for couples to keep the following things in mind when registering for gifts.

- Your Couple Style
You may love pink satin sheets, while your soon-to-be spouse is more into camo. Well, unless you can find pink camo-and I do think I’ve seen it somewhere before-you’re gonna need to agree. This might be one of the first opportunities you’ve had as a couple to test your compromising skills and it is a great chance for you to talk about how you'd like to decorate your home.

- Your Needs
As couples continue to put off marriage until later in life, fewer newlyweds will find themselves in need of everything on that registry list. Don’t register for something just because it is on the list. Decide what you really need and select items accordingly.

- Your Guests’ Budgets
As with all of these registries, it is important to remember that your guests all have different budgets. Choose a range of items in varying amounts so everyone will be able to afford a suitable gift.

Honeymoon Registries
Honeymoon registries have taken off in recent years and more and more couples-especially those who already have set up a home-are utilizing these services. What is it? Well, it is just what it sounds like.

Couples choose a company or website to purchase their honeymoon from and make selections, just as they would with a traditional gift registry. More information regarding Honeymoon Registries can be found here.

Items many couples select include dinners, river cruises, excursions, carriage rides and accommodations ... molto romantico!

I like to see couples who choose Honeymoon Registries show their appreciation for the gift by taking a photo of them either at the restaurant or attraction holding a "Thank You" sign. The photo can then be converted to a Thank You card and mailed to the guest post-honeymoon.

Charity Registries
Are you one of those couples who has it all? If so, a charity registry might be perfect for you … here is how it works.

The couple selects a charity through an organization such as the I Do Foundation. When guests ask where you are registered, you and your friends direct them to the I Do Foundation website, where, in lieu of gifts, they can make a tax-deductible donation to your chosen charity.

It is important to keep in mind that conservative guests might prefer to go to a store and purchase a gift. For this reason, I recommend that couples who choose either the Honeymoon or Charity registry, also make a small selection at a traditional store. That being said-you know your guests and you can likely anticipate the types of gifts they’d prefer to give you. If you and your fiancé feel a non-traditional registry is right for you, then give it a go!

And remember … gifts *are* a fun part of getting married, but they aren’t everything. In 1, 5, 10 years time, you won’t even remember who gave you what, but the memory of who was there and how you felt on your Special Day will last forever.

Photos courtesy of lechampiondumonde, Carlo Nicora and Daveblog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gift Registry 101, Part I: Basic Etiquette

Possibly the second best thing about getting married, you know, after pledging your life to your soul mate and best friend-is getting gifts!

No, no one likes to talk about it and there is an endless list of gift-receiving no-no’s, but let’s face it, gifts are fun. However, more importantly than what you receive or how much your guests spend, is how you and your fiancé handle the registry.

See, my wedding was a bit tricky. Although our wedding was in southeast Texas, I had recently joined my husband in southern Italy and our guests knew we were limited in what we could carry and use in Europe.

Since I have strong opinions on social norms and wedding etiquette, I refused to allow my registry to be printed on my shower invitations, didn’t include gift information on my website and didn’t ask-or tell-friends and family members that money and gift certificates would be appreciated.

Was I wrong?

I don’t know. (Just between you and me, about half of the guests who attended our wedding didn’t give a gift, an effect my mother says stems from the uncertainties about what we could take and/or use in Italy. However, that is not my bad etiquette and is truly a post for another day.)

Whether you choose to publish your gift registry details is up to you, although many experts agree that broadcasting registry information is akin to asking for presents, a gesture shunned by wedding etiquette enthusiasts.

In fact, according to Ask Carley at TheKnot.Com, the only way to get the word out about your registry is to wait for them to ask. While many of the comments under this article suggest putting registry information on your website, I’m still against it.

When I visit a wedding website, I like to look at pictures, read the couple’s love story and uncover information about the event I’m planning to attend. I don’t like to get slapped in the face with a reminder that I need to buy a gift. I know I’m expected to purchase a gift and I know how to use the “contact us” form if I have any questions. I guess I think the broadcasting of registry information is like saying, “You can come to my party … but only if you do this!” And I don’t like ultimatums.

So … do you want to follow the rules of etiquette and still make sure your guests can track down your gifts? Here are a few tips to help you out.

1. Tell your family and closest friends about your dilemma. Explain that you don’t want to advertise your registry and ask them to share your information when other guests ask.

2. Willingly share your gift registry information with anyone who asks you-and believe me, people will ask. If anyone asks why you didn’t put the information on your website or shower cards, just tell them that gifts aren’t the most important part of the day, but that you have made selections at XYZ store.

3. If you are still worried that people won’t know you are registered, add a line to your wedding website that says, “Have any questions? Contact me at …” This will encourage your guests to email you and ask for details.

Do you have any other gift registry etiquette tips for other brides? Be sure to come back on Thursday for Gift Registry 101, Part II: Unique Ideas for Your Gift Registry.

Photo courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don’t Forget – Using an Online Calendar Management System for Wedding Planning

Even if you are the bride-to-be equivalent of a fully-grown elephant, it is likely you will need some extra help tracking your dates and staying informed of important pre-wedding events. Yes, you can use your Outlook or email provider calendar to track those dates or you can do it the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper. But are they really reliable?

I don’t think so. Here is the lowdown on why email calendars and traditional pen and paper calendars won’t work for your wedding!

Email Calendar

When you use Outlook or an email provider’s calendar, notices pop up on your screen to remind you of important events. This works well, but only if your computer is turned ON when they send the reminder.

I can’t tell you how many important notices I’ve missed-mostly because, well, yes, I forgot them-because Gmail’s calendar only sends notifications if and when you are logged into Gmail.

Pen and paper

There is nothing wrong with a sturdy notebook and dark ink pen, but when it comes to setting important wedding dates and arranging vendor meetings, you need something that will stand the test of time. And by time, I mean, being changed, added, deleted and canceled over the course of several weeks, months or even a year of wedding planning.

So what can you do? Just fire up the ole' laptop and head to AmericanGreetings.Com

Long famed for romantic greeting cards and evite messages, American Greetings also has a thorough-and reliable-calendar system for tracking important dates and meetings.

Here is how it works.

- Sign up for a free account at AmericanGreetings.Com.

- Ensure that you sign up with the email address you most often use and double-check the spelling for accuracy.

- You will receive an email confirmation from American Greetings. If you don’t receive your
confirmation email, return to their site and re-enter your contact information.

- Once you are on their site, you can enter details for all of the important dates you have already scheduled. Be sure to add all holidays and/or important birthdays, as well so you don’t accidentally schedule a meeting that coincides with an important date.

- Using the “Other” symbol (the final symbol in the “Add Events” dropdown box) add all of your wedding meetings and appointments.

Fun Features:

1. You can share important events with key wedding people without sharing your entire calendar. This is a great way for you to confirm appointments with vendors or remind your family, fiancé or friends about meetings they’ve agreed to attend.

2. The American Greetings Toolbar can be downloaded to your browser, keeping your appointments calendar and other American Greetings website tools, within a click of your finger.

3. Using this online calendar system, you can quickly and easily request attendance from your friends or fiancé for important events. Since you can do everything in one place, you no longer have to write a meeting on your calendar, then call your mom and see if she can go, then email your fiancé to double-check with him. With the “Request Events” section of the site, all vital parties can stay up to date and in the know of all wedding-related events.

Are you currently planning your wedding? What calendar tool did you use to track your dates, meetings and appointments?

Photo courtesy of Deannster

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Six Tips to (Politely) Pass on to the Mothers of the Bride and Groom

Since your engagement you and your (soon-to-be) spouse have been bombarded with new titles … fiancé, bride, groom, future husband, future wife, (almost) newlyweds. It is a lot to take in.

But you aren’t alone. The important people in your life are taking on new titles, too-mother-in-law, father-in-law, mother(s) of the bride and groom. And believe me, they are just as confused as you.

Here are six tips you can ever so politely pass on to the Mother of the Bride and your fiance’s counterpart, the Mother of the Groom to prepare them for their roles in your upcoming wedding.

Mother of the Bride-It’s Her Time to Shine

Your little girl is all grown up and is getting ready, not only to be a blushing bride, but to be someone’s wife. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Over the years she has likely looked to you for help, advice or a friendly shoulder and that is not likely to change. But, here are a couple of things to remember as Mother of the Bride that will keep you and your daughter on good terms throughout the wedding planning process.

1. It is understandable you are excited about your daughter’s upcoming nuptials, but before you verbally invite all of your neighbors, work colleagues and closest friends, you should talk to your daughter and her fiancé about the size of the wedding and ask how many of your friends you can invite. Remember, this is their wedding and the room should be filled with their friends and colleagues. If the guest list needs trimming, your guests (as well as the groom's family's guests) should be the first to go.

2. Of course you are going to have an opinion on the dress, the cake, the room, the music … and you should. As the mother of the bride, you are one of the most important guests and honored attendants of the day. Just be sure to offer your opinion, then back off. Remember, your daughter is being pulled by the groom, his family, other family members, friends and her personal wishes. Be there to offer your support for her during this stressful time.

3. One of the biggest problems I see that arises between the parents of the bride and the engaged couple is the money issue. Just because you have offered to help your daughter pay for her wedding doesn't entitle you to make demands, control the event or hold your money over their heads. Remember, this is a gift you are giving your daughter-not a nightmare.

Mother of the Groom-This One’s for You

It’s a day you knew would come … one day your little boy would turn into a man, and since he’s the man you reared him to be, you knew a Cinderella-like princess would want him, too. And that makes you happy.

What you aren’t happy about is trying to determine what your newly-appointed mother of the groom status means. What do you do? Where do you start? How can you help? Well, never fear, Mommy Dearest, here are three tips to help you, help them.

1. If you haven’t already met the bride’s parents, call, and if logistically possible, invite them for dinner or drinks. It’s a good way to set the tone for the upcoming months and will ease any tensions your son and future daughter-in-law might have about merging their families.

2. Have a tete-a-tete with your son and ask him what he and his fiancé need and expect from you. When everyone is on the same page, you will have fewer misunderstandings and less hurt feelings. Be honest about anything you would like to be included in, but know the bride’s decision is-and should be-what matters.

3. If something doesn’t go the way you had hoped, bite your tongue and keep your class. Although your son’s wedding is important -it is just one day. Your relationship with your son and his future Mrs. is much more important, so let that be your focus and leave the crème brulee or tiramisu dessert dilemma to the bride.

What other tips would you like to pass on to mothers of the bride and groom? Do you think they'll take you up on them?

Photos courtesy of Deadly Knitshade and Ben McLeod

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Document (more than) the Day: Personalized Photo Albums of Your Wedding Planning

Nothing evokes memories of a cherished moment more than professionally designed photos. While professional photography is likely a given for your Big Day, there are hundreds of moments since you said “yes,” that are photo album-worthy.

Document them.

PhotoWorks offers personalized albums that can be tailor-made for you and your future husband that guarantee to be a lasting monument to your wedding process.

Here is the deal.

- Document Everything

Begin documenting your wedding-planning process as soon as he pops the question. If you aren’t engaged yet, then you are in the prime position to have a complete wedding-planning process album. If you, like me, didn’t get this idea until well into your wedding planning process, then don’t worry. There is still time.

Ask your friends, family members and attendants if they have photos from when you tried on wedding gowns, went shopping with your bridesmaids or had girls’ days and/or nights to plan the wedding.

Other interesting milestones include the following.

- The engagement
- The engagement dinner (if the two of you went out to celebrate)
- The engagement party (if applicable)
- Wedding gown shopping
- Bridesmaid dress shopping
- The boys playing golf, fishing, etc
- The girls having lunch, a spa day, etc
- Pictures of you when you met with potential caterers, bakers, venues
- Pictures of any site tours
- Pictures of you when you sign contracts at your chosen venues
- Pictures of you and your groom meeting with the priest or celebrant
- Pictures of you and your groom at a marriage workshop (if applicable)
- Pictures of your parents, close friends and siblings helping you with details
- Photos of your invitations, menu cards, programs, thank you cards and other stationary
- Pictures of you creating any do-it-yourself items, such as programs, invitations or place cards
- Pictures of your tastings with caterers and bakers
- Pictures of any pre-wedding events, including the days/nights important out-of-town guests arrive
- Pictures from the rehearsal
- Pictures from the rehearsal dinner
- Pictures from post-rehearsal dinner
- Pictures of wedding day (when you are getting dressed, ceremony, reception)
- Pictures of any post-wedding events, such as morning-after brunch or lunch
- Pictures of honeymoon

- After you have documented all of these stages, select your favorite photos and compare them for color and contrast. Choose only the finest photos and crop them, when necessary.

- Be sure to choose photos that tell your wedding story. Don’t include too many photos from your wedding day and honeymoon. You will likely have another wedding album that consists solely of photos from your wedding day and you can create a separate album to document your honeymoon. Remember, this album tells the whole story, so keep the album balanced with a variety of photos from the entire wedding-planning process.

- Go to

- Choose an album size that best fits your needs.

- Customize the album with fun expressions, silly sayings or other personal moments from your wedding process.

- Ask for feedback from a valued family member or friend before you submit your album to the printer.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Four Honeymoon Travel Tips You Can’t Leave Home Without

Your Big Day is quickly approaching and that only means one thing ... It is time for your honeymoon! As if you don’t have enough other things on your never-ending to-do list of phone calls, taste tests and dress fittings you also have to think about the days and weeks that follow.

But never fear.

Here are four honeymoon travel tips designed to help you make the most of your first married-couple vacation!

1. Make Decisions Early

And by decisions, I mean choose the location and exact dates and make your reservations as early as possible. Depending on the season and destination, some honeymoon hot spots fill up quickly. Save money by booking your plane tickets, hotel and transfers as early as possible. Some websites, such as, offer substantial savings to travelers who book their flights, hotels and rental cars at the same time. It is worth looking into.

Additionally, be sure to order any passports or visas you might need for international travel well in advance. Having these important decisions out of the way will ease your wedding and honeymoon-planning stress and will allow you more time to focus on the fun.

2. Plan Your Trip for Two

As you might have realized one of you is likely more of a detail-oriented planner while the other tends to step back and accept what comes along. This is ok. However, whoever the dominant vacation planner is needs to be careful to include his/her spouse on some of the details.

I am the trip planner in my marriage and my husband is more than happy to step back and let me make decisions regarding airline, flight schedule and hotel accommodations. I enjoy the research and he trusts my decisions. I was surprised, however, on our honeymoon to realize that he would prefer to visit the ancient ruins at Tikal, while I assumed he would prefer the part of the trip that focused on San Pedro (Belize). In the end it worked out perfectly and we had a great time, but not all surprises-like that one-have a happy ending. I should have asked in advance.

3. Pack Well

While I understand you want to look your best during your honeymoon, over-packing and expecting your hubby to haul around heavy suitcases is just. plain. inconsiderate. Make a list of everything you need, spread your clothes across your bed, then cut that number in half. You will want to save space in your luggage for souvenirs, new t-shirts or something special you can display in your new home.

Also, remember to pack half of your things and half of his in each suitcase. That way if the airline misplaces a bag, you will each have clothes to help get your honeymoon started.

4. Communication is Key

It is always important to practice strong communication with your soon-to-be-spouse, so why not start this lifelong process during your honeymoon. Remember to communicate your interests, your energy level and your honest desire on what to see and what to skip. Here are three more tips for traveling as a couple that are sure to set your honeymoon off on a romantic foot!

Have you already been on your honeymoon? What other travel tips do you have for soon-to-be-honeymooners?

Photos courtesy of
Serdir and

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Host a Morning-after Brunch

Wedding weekends are becoming increasingly popular, regardless of whether the wedding is an out-of-town affair or hometown event. In fact, they are so hot right now that planners and caterers are actually including them in some of their wedding packages.

If you have been considering a morning-after brunch, then ask yourself the following questions.

- Will you have a large number of out-of-town guests?

- Have people traveled a great distance to attend your wedding?

- Do you anticipate many people staying overnight and/or being available for a morning-after brunch?

- Will your guests still be happy to spend time together and see each other in yet another wedding-related event?

- Can you afford it?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions then you are a perfect candidate for a morning-after brunch.

So here is what you do!

- Plan in Advance
As with other aspects of your wedding, advanced planning pays off! Think of your morning-after brunch with the same forethought and creative mind you used when planning your rehearsal dinner. Additionally, be sure to send invitations to your guests or include the details on your wedding website.

- Location, Location, Location
Although many caterers and/or banquet facilities will encourage you to hold your morning-after brunch at the same location as your wedding ... think again! Consider where you can host your morning-after brunch that will offer some diversity to both the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception. If your reception was ultra-formal, then consider something more laid back. Be careful, however, not to do the opposite. You don’t want any part of your wedding weekend to outshine the Big Event, so plan accordingly.

You should also be considerate of where your guests are staying and how far they will have to drive to attend the event. Unless your wedding reception was held in a ballroom of the hotel where you have blocked your rooms, consider hosting your morning-after brunch there. It is convenient and guests don’t have to worry about checking out early so they can attend your brunch.

- Choose the Time
As with location, the time of your morning-after brunch is crucial. You certainly don’t want to be forced out of bed early on your first married-couple morning and if your guests had as much fun as you anticipate, they won’t want to wake up early, either.

Try to plan your morning-after brunch to span a few hours so your guests can trickle in and out according to their sleeping habits and travel plans.

- Plan the Menu
Since you will likely plan for a two-to-three hour event, a brunch buffet is the way to go. Guests won’t feel left out or uncomfortable if they arrive while others are eating and no one will feel pressured to stay after they have eaten brunch and said their goodbyes.

- Get Some Help
While you will no doubt be the stars of the show at the morning-after brunch, ask your parents and/or siblings to help host the event. Explain the format to them in advance. Ask them to help you meet and greet guests as they arrive and instruct them to pull you away from other guests when someone is leaving. Their assistance will go a long way in ensuring everyone feels welcomed and included in the morning-after brunch.

Are you hosting a morning-after brunch following your wedding? What are your plans?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Save Thousands of Dollars-Four Things You Can Live Without

Are you a budget-savvy bride who wouldn’t mind saving thousands of dollars on your magazine-quality blowout, but don’t want to look like you scrimped, cut corners or suddenly became Madame Cheapo?

Well, if you are-you are in luck!

Here are four things you can live without on your Big Day that are guaranteed to trim thousands off of your big budget’s bottom line! And let's be honest. What bride doesn’t want a trimmer bottom for her wedding day?

1. Guest List

Slicing and dicing your guest list is the number one way couples can control the costs of their wedding. It is also the number one most painful thing they’ll do. And think about it. You are happy. Your future hubby is happy. You want everyone you know to share in that happiness. I get that!

But did you know that cutting just 10 people from your guest list can save you at least $1,000? It can!

Consider this!
Ten people on your guest list each have a “plus one,” bringing the actual guest total you have to serve up to 20 people. Now, let’s underestimate and assume you will spend $35.00 per person for food and beverage, tax and grats …That is $700! Add in the extra two tables you will need to seat 20 people, including the cost of centerpieces, menu cards, chair covers, etc and you will save at least $200. Consider a $50 savings on cake and another $60 on favors. Don’t forget the extra money you will save on invitations, thank you cards, RSVP cards, stamps and programs … at least another $50. That is already over $1,000.

Adds up doesn’t it?

You can also trim your guest list by omitting the “plus one” for single guests and not including an invite for the kiddos.

2. Favors

Party favors are fun and everyone likes to take something home with them as a reminder of the wedding event. That being said … they are far from essential. I’ve actually been to more weddings that didn’t have favors than wedding that did and more often than not, your guests won’t even notice! You can easily save several hundred dollars on your wedding by forgoing the favors.

3. Cakes and Desserts

Did you know wedding cakes can range from just a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars? Scary, huh? By diligently searching out the best value bakers in your area, you can skim hundreds off of your wedding budget.

Looking for ways to save even more? Forget about the Groom’s Cake. Wedding cakes today are often created in a variety of flavors, so by omitting the Groom’s Cake altogether, you can expect to save a few hundred dollars. You could also serve the wedding cake as your only dessert. Many caterers will urge you to serve dessert or offer a dessert bar, then serve cake. Talk about overkill.

4. Expensive Stationary

I know everywhere you look you see designer stationary that costs upward of $5.00 or $6.00 an invite. They are sassy. They are feminine. They are precious. But you can do them yourself. Consider creating your own invitations online at American Greetings (or other site of your choice), then adding your own embellishments. You will save hundreds of dollars and you can create a tailored look unique to your wedding.

What other things do you think couples can skip when trying not to bust their budgets?

Photo courtesy of prettydaisies

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Do You Have a Wedding Day Kit? Should You?

You have crossed your T’s and dotted those I’s and believe me, bride-to-be, you are almost there. Almost. But don’t drop the ball now and forget the one thing that really could make or break your wedding.

A wedding day kit!

If you have been perusing the Internet looking for wedding-related tips, advice and bargains and well, since you made it here I’m going to assume you have, then you have likely seen wedding day kits for sale. But do you know what they are, what they include and why you need one?
Here is the nitty gritty on how to-and why you should-create your own wedding day kit.

What is a wedding day kit anyway?

A wedding day kit is a collection of everything you could imagine needing for your Big Day. You know the old expression, “anything that can go wrong, will?” Well, your wedding day kit helps ensure that if anything goes wrong, you and your posse can handle it.

What do you include in a wedding day kit?

Grab a paper shopping bag, label it as your Wedding Day Kit and fill it with the following items.
• Advil or Tylenol
• Band-Aids
• Bottles of water
• Krazy Glue (for nail fixes, shoe heels, decorations, even jewels)
• Corsage pins
• Dental floss
• Toothpaste
• Deodorant
• Tampons
• Eye drops
• Extra earring backs
• Hair pins/ponytail holder
• Hand wipes
• Hem tape
• Matches
• Mini sewing kit
• Safety pins
• Scotch tape
• Small folding scissors
• Spot remover
• Static-cling spray
• Straws (so the bride can stay hydrated without messing up her lipstick)
• Tissues
• Tweezers
• Breath mints/spray
• Granola bars or other easy-to-carry snacks
• Comb/brush
Thank You Cards (to give your attendants and / or others who help during your day)
• Hair spray
• Makeup (for touch-ups)
• Makeup mirror
• Nail file
• Clear nail polish
• Perfume or Body Spray
• Tampons/sanitary napkins

Possibly Include the Following Items (depending on your wedding situation)
• Sun block
• Chalk (to cover up any last minute smudges or smears on your dress)
• Extra panty hose

Why do you need a wedding day kit?

A wedding day kit ensures your peace of mind for your wedding day. If you know you have covered all of your bases, then you will have more time for enjoying your wedding day and won’t have to worry, stress or run around if something comes up.

I created a wedding day kit almost identical the one I listed for you but never actually anticipated using it. I knew I shouldn’t need tampons on that day and I had already packed toothpaste, deodorant and makeup in my own overnight kit.

Can I just say, we used more items from that Wedding Day Kit than I ever expected. Someone had a mishap and needed to borrow the feminine products, another bridesmaid forgot toothpaste and we used the nail file and clear nail polish to prepare someone’s manicure. The mirror was passed around so much that we actually misplaced it and well, I never thought a half dozen girls could use so many straws.

If you are on the fence about whether you should create a wedding day kit, then consider this. Every item on that list can be used at a later date or returned to the store if it is unopened. You aren’t spending much more than you would if you bought the extra deodorant next month or if you return those extra panty hose to the store. But IF something happens on your Big Day, you want to be able to control the situation and know that you have everything covered.

Did you have a Wedding Day Kit? What other items do you think you should include?

Photo courtesy of Craig Morsels

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four More Unexpected Expenses Couples Forget

Last week I gave you the run down on four of the biggest expenses many couples forget to include when budgeting for their Big Day. But that list wasn’t all-inclusive.

In fact, I missed some biggies.

Here are four more unexpected expenses couples could easily overlook when planning their wedding budgets.

1. Welcome Baskets
In addition to the money you will need to create welcome baskets for your out-of-town guests-anywhere from $10 per basket minimum and up-the hotel could tack on a holding and/or a delivery fee-sometimes as much as $7.00 per basket.

If you are holding your wedding at the hotel, they should waive this fee-but only if you negotiate it when you book them. If the hotel is used for your room block only, then discuss basket delivery and holding options. Depending on the competition for your room block, they might lower and/or eliminate this price altogether.

2. Rentals
Many couples assume having a wedding at a self-catering banquet or church hall is the least expensive option-however, they could be wrong. Most self-catering halls don’t include the cost of flatware, dishes, serving platters, cups, glasses, napkins, etc, etc, etc … hotels or special event rooms do.

Depending on your guest list and menu, these small items could add thousands-yes, thousands!-to your bottom line. Additionally, many rental companies charge an extra fee-usually between $50.00-$250.00-for delivery!

Be sure you do your math before you commit to a location or caterer and ensure all of your rentals are included in the price. I was able to host my reception at one of the best hotels in my city at a fraction of what other brides paid for a church hall. The difference? The rental fee!

3. Tax
Although you know you will have to cough up the dough for the additional taxes, it isn’t something many couples consider when they ask a vendor for a quote. Additionally, big ticket items have big ticket taxes, a fact many couples forget to include in their budgets.

To be safe, always-always!-ask your vendor for a bottom-line quote and ensure they include tax. If they don’t, figure the tax amount yourself and add it to your database of quotes.

4. Grats
Like tax, gratuities are another area many couples forget to budget for-a lump sum that can sometimes put a couple over budget.

The biggest chunk of your gratuity budget will go towards your servers and/or caterers. To make sure you and your caterers are on the same page, ask them specifically what their “service charge” covers. Many caterers pass on the cost of paying their servers an hourly rate, but don’t automatically include gratuities. Other caterers do.

I was happily surprised when my banquet manager told me the “service charge” I’d already paid went directly to the servers as their gratuity for working my event.

To help alleviate the possibility of busting a budget, I always include an additional 10-15% “Miscellaneous” category when helping brides budget. This helps account for other “unexpected” surprises or new ideas we get along the way.

What other expenses do you think many couples forget to include in their budget? Did you overlook anything? If so, what?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Four Wedding Expenses You Might Not be Expecting

I know you ... you are a budget-wise bride. Right? You have set your budget, you’ve done your homework. And you know what to expect when it comes to your expenses.

Or do you?

Here are four of the most common expenses many couples overlook when setting their wedding budgets.

1. Postage
Currently running over 40 cents a head, postage stamps are one of the first things many couples forget to include when setting their budget. To manage your costs, it is important to ask your stationary supplier for a weight estimate before committing to an invitation and specifically ask how many stamps you will need. You could also consider creating your own wedding invitations online, trimming your guest list or forgoing pre-stamped RSVP cards (and consider online RSVPs instead).

2. Corking / Cake-Cutting Fees
I think both the corking and cake-cutting fees-a $2.00-$5.00 per guest fee added to your bill by overzealous caterers and directors in an attempt to suck every last penny from your purse-is well, crap.

It is!

Where else in the world will you drop thousands of dollars on food and wine and then be charged extra for them to slice it up? Many caterers claim the fee is charged on drinks or cakes purchased from an outside vendor, but I’ve seen more than my share of caterers who try to sneak in this fee on wine or cakes you bought from them.

Talk to your caterers BEFORE you sign a contract and negotiate any corking and cake-cutting fees out of your contract. If they really want your business-and believe me, they do-they’ll be happy to give you a break on these fees.

3. Alterations
Although oftentimes you can limit your dress alteration needs by purchasing the appropriate dress length, choosing your shoes wisely or selecting a corset-back dress (that can accommodate a three dress-size difference), you still might find you need a nip here or a tuck there to make that dress fit like a glove. If so, these costs can add up-especially if you secure a seamstress through your bridal boutique.

Additionally, most bridal gowns don’t come with a bussell, so unless you want to spend the night dragging your dress off of the floor-you don’t, by the way-then, you will have to cough up the cash for this alteration, as well. Ask other brides in your area for recommendations and take your business outside of the boutique. I saved close to $300 this way.

4. Vendor OT
Nowhere else is it as important to 1) create a wedding day schedule and 2) read the fine print, as it is with your vendors-especially your photographer, videographer, transportation and band/DJ. Why? Because time is money, my friend.

When you book your vendors, you are purchasing their time and experience for a set number of hours. If you go over, you will pay the price. Oftentimes starting at $250 per hour for photographers and videographers, $150 per hour for transportation and $100 per hour for band/DJ, even running over half an hour could bust your budget.

Think I’ve covered it all? Well, I haven’t. Be sure to come back next week for four more big expenses many couples forget to budget.

Photos courtesy of Mirnanda and spudballoo