Thursday, April 30, 2009

Budget Crunch: Seven Ways to Save Money on Wedding Flowers

Depending on when and where you are tying the knot, the average cost of wedding flowers can range from $800 to $1900-and that’s not including floral centerpieces or extravagant bouquets. But let’s face it. Flowers scream romance-and your wedding will be romantic. So what can you do?

As with other areas of your wedding, you might be able to save money if you:
- Get married in off season
- Don’t get married on or near a major holiday (like Valentine’s Day or New Year's Eve)
- Get married on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday

Still itching to slash that budget? Ok, then. Here are Four More Ways You Can Save Some Green on Your Wedding Floral Bill.

1. Shop Around
All florists are not created equally, hence the final bill between two similar florists will vary greatly. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times-shop around. Keep an organized account of what you are being quoted and don’t be afraid to share your lowest quotes with potential florists. Often they will offer you upgrades or freebies to get the contract.

It is important to ensure you are comparing equal bouquets and centerpieces. Get all of the details in writing to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the Big Day.

2. Stay in Season
It makes sense that seasonal flowers that are grown locally will be less costly than expensive imported flowers. Ask your florists or look online to get an idea of which flowers are grown in your area and which flowers will be in season during your wedding. You could save hundreds of dollars by not importing blooms from around the world. Here is a seasonal flower guide to help you get started.

3. Use Alternatives
Unless you have your heart set on a particular flower, look outside the bud for a less expensive alternative. Calla Lilies run around $7 a stem, while similarly-shaped Tulips are less than $3. Cymbidium Orchids can run as high as $60 a stem-ouch!-while Dendrobium Orchids are less than $4. Other less expensive options include Orange Blossoms, Lavender, Daffodil, Daisies, Chrysanthemum, Carnations and Ivy.

4. Do-it-Yourself … well, almost
While I am a big proponent of a Do-it-Yourself Wedding, I would never-ever!-recommend doing your own flowers. Everything else I’ve recommended for Do-it-Yourself-the programs, the escort cards, even the invites can all be done weeks, if not months, in advance. The flowers can’t. They have to be done at the last minute. Believe me, you will want to spend those last few hours of single-girl stardom being pampered, having brunch with your friends or relaxing in a hot bath. You don’t want to be stressed out because the bouquet you are trying to recreate doesn’t look like the picture you pulled from Brides Magazine.

However, there are low-cost ways around this. Look on Craigs List or ask a local university or horticulture school for a recommendation on their best flower arranger. This person will usually work for hundreds less than a florist who has high overhead costs and staff salaries to consider. Purchase your flowers yourself from a local flower wholesaler. You should place your order with the wholesaler weeks (if not more) in advance and ask the flower arranger all of the same questions you’d ask a full-service florist.

What other ways can you think of to save money on your flowers?

Photos courtesy of EricByer and boeke

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Choose the Perfect Hairstyle for Your Wedding Day

Many brides have a vision for their wedding day. They see a picture-perfect ceremony location, the ideal reception-the perfect man. As they progress through the wedding planning stages they start to envision the atmosphere of the venue, the glow in the air, the music and maybe the food.
They might have an idea of the dress they want and how they want to look but unfortunately, many brides really have to search for that perfect hair and makeup look. That isn’t one of the decisions that jumps out to them.

If this sounds familiar and you are searching for your wedding day hairstyle-listen in. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect hairstyle for your wedding.

Brainstorm Ideas
Look through magazines, photographs and websites and gather ideas for your wedding day hairstyle. A few good sites are, and Cut out or print any pictures you find interesting and save them for your stylist.

Get Personal
And with this, I mean consider your hair texture. If you have fine hair that easily goes limp, a long, straight style likely won’t hold all day. On the other hand, if your hair is naturally curly and you are getting married in Orlando in July, then consider how that humidity will affect you.

Also consider which hairstyles look best on you. Don’t try to do something drastically different. If you have always had short hair, you don’t have to grow it or get extensions for your wedding. Go with what looks best on you and you’ll be happy.

Be Yourself
Many brides want to undergo a transformation for their wedding day. They want to look beautiful. Exotic. Glamorous. And that is ok. Just be sure that you maintain YOUR look. You want to be a more beautiful, more exotic, more glamorous version of YOURSELF on your wedding day. You don’t want the groom to wonder who is gliding down the aisle toward him, now do you?

Avoid Trends
A trend is a “trend” because it is a style that comes and goes. You want your wedding to be timeless. Choose a classic hairstyle that will withstand the test of time and your grandchildren will have nothing but compliments to say when they look at your photos.

See Your Stylist
If you have a stylist you are devoted to, then talk to her in the months leading up to your wedding. Ask her for her input and suggestions. Ask what styles she would recommend for your hair type. Carry your brainstorm photos with you, show them to her and ask for her feedback.

As the Big Day approaches, make an appointment to do a test run on your hair. Many brides like to do this on the day of their bridal portraits. It is a good idea to see how the hairstyle works with your make-up, dress and veil. Take pictures of your hair on this day-assuming you *love* it-so your stylist will remember exactly what she did. Be sure to get photos from all angles so she can easily replicate the look for your wedding day.

Have you selected a hairstyle yet? What is it? Are you wearing your hair up or down? Straight or curly?

Photo courtesy of mintyrtina

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last Minute Mishap? How to React to any Situation With Grace and Style

You’ve chosen your attendants. You’ve selected a venue. You’ve interviewed dozens of vendors, paid your deposits and signed your X on the line. Your wedding is only a month away … what could possibly go wrong now?

I know. Thinking about what could go wrong on your wedding day isn’t what we’d like to think of, but dear bride-to-be … you should be.

Effective troubleshooting is at the heart of every perfect wedding and you need to be armed with the necessary tools to make sure your wedding is bullet-proof. What you need in your arsenal really depends on what problems could arise so let’s go over a few worst-case scenarios now and hopefully you'll be better equipped if any real problems arise.

Bye Bye Bridesmaid
You asked your best friends and closest relatives to stand by you as you pledge your love to your soon-to-be spouse and you were met with an enthusiastic YES. Then, somewhere along the line she quits. She gets tired, gets busy, gets preoccupied. What do you do?

IF SHE OFFICIALLY QUITS, you should graciously express your disappointment and let her off the hook. Don’t try to “replace” her. The fill-in bridesmaid will always feel like she is playing second fiddle and you’ll look like you are more interested in your wedding party matching than in your friends’ feelings.
IF SHE DOESN’T QUIT, take her to lunch and talk about it. Tell her you understand she has other things going on and assure her you won’t be offended if she can’t be in your wedding.

Shrinking Site
As sad as it is, many vendors will tell you anything to get you to pay your deposit and sign a contract. They’ll assure you their 80-capacity room can hold 130 people-with a live band-and they’ll worry about the logistics later.

If this happens to you, you’ll have to get creative. Talk to the banquet manager who will be running your event and see what options you have for expanding your space. You might be able to add an adjoining room, include hall space, reorganize your tables or offer the buffet or bar in a different area.

IF THIS IS THEIR FAULT, they will likely bend over backwards to accommodate you, possibly offering you free upgrades or additional space.
IF IT IS YOUR FAULT, they probably won’t throw in freebies, but they are still invested in your wedding and will work with you to make it a success. IF YOU DISCOVER this before you've sent your invites, consider reducing your guest list so you can still have the wedding you wanted.

Vanished Vendors
This is the worst problem of all because you won’t know until the last minute that there is a problem. The key to knocking this potential problem out of the water is to be prepared.

Call each vendor two weeks before your wedding and confirm they will be there. Call each vendor again one week before the wedding to confirm. Call each vendor again the day before your wedding and confirm.

I know this sounds like overkill, but trust me. Do this. If you never take another piece of advice I am offering you-CALL AND CONFIRM each vendor and appointment.

You should also have a list of their numbers (both office numbers and cell phones) and distribute that list to your wedding party and family. Assign different people to monitor various vendors. For example, ask bridesmaid #1 to be on the lookout for the florist. Tell her to let you know if the florist hasn’t arrived by X o’clock or ask her to call the florist directly to check on the issue.

IF YOU HAVE MAINTAINED STRONG COMMUNICATION with the vendors-such as calling and confirming for two weeks straight!-you shouldn’t have a major issue.
IF YOU DO HAVE A PROBLEM, pull out all stops and put your entire wedding “team” to the task. Your friends will come through for you in your greatest time of need … trust me.

What steps have you taken to better equip yourself to deal with last-minute mishaps? What tips do you have for other brides?

Photos courtesy of Conner395

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to Host the Perfect Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Since we have discussed the issue of holding a ceremony rehearsal and decided you do, in fact, need one - let’s move on to the fun stuff.

Historically the groom’s parents footed the bill for this post-wedding rehearsal meal, but since modern-day brides are tossing tradition to the wind-this is changing, too. As if the bride doesn’t have enough stress before the Big Day, she also has to weigh in on the Rehearsal Dinner... and if you are anything like me-you want that to be perfect.

Here are four tips to help you host the perfect rehearsal dinner.

Tip 1: Have Fun With It!
I’ve read that your rehearsal dinner and wedding reception should have a similar style and formality level - for example, if your wedding is ultra chic and formal, then your rehearsal dinner should set the stage by being more or less the same style. On some level I get that. On every other level-I think it is crap.

Think about it. If your rehearsal dinner is a miniature version of your wedding reception, how bored will your guests be on Day 2? And THAT is the Big Day. That is the important event. That is when you want everyone to step back and say “Wow!”

Instead, I say you should have fun with your rehearsal dinner.

My wedding was semi-formal and incorporated many aspects of my husband’s Italian heritage. We had guests coming to Texas from across the country-and Italy!-and wanted to share our culture with them. So, we hosted a Texas-style BBQ, complete with a line dance instructor and galvanized buckets of beer. It was a blast, the wedding party bonded and we really set the mood for the following day.

Tip #2: Plan with Care
Put the same attention to detail in your wedding rehearsal dinner that you put into your wedding. Be sure to create invitations and tell your guests how to dress. You will also want to plan time to formally speak to your guests, offer gifts to your wedding party and/or publicly thank your parents for their help. Shy away from serving too much alcohol. You want everyone looking fresh for your wedding.

Tip 2: Be Courteous
As I am sure you have been doing throughout your wedding planning process, remember to be courteous and think of your guests when planning your rehearsal dinner. In addition to your wedding party, officiant and immediate family members, consider inviting all out of town guests and other close family members who aren’t in the wedding. For example, my aunts were an enormous help to me throughout my planning and I thought it would be nice to include them in pre-wedding events.

Tip 3: Location Matters
Choose a restaurant that is close to your rehearsal location. You don’t want you-or your guests-to be forced to drive an hour for dinner, then drive another hour-or more-to get home. It isn’t gracious and your friends could resent it. You certainly don’t want those negative mood vibes carrying over to your wedding day.

Tip 4: Give it a Test Run
Okay. I know rehearsing your rehearsal just sounds silly but eat at the rehearsal dinner restaurant before the event and make sure you are on the same page with them. The worst mistake brides make when it comes to planning their rehearsal dinner is not taking it seriously enough. Be professional with your rehearsal dinner vendors and make sure they know your expectations.

The rehearsal dinner can be one of the most lighthearted aspects of your wedding weekend. Everyone should be in good spirits and you can relax with your closest friends before the stress of the wedding day hits. The rehearsal dinner truly sets the scene for the rest of your wedding, so take time to plan it with care, pay attention to details and give it the respect it deserves.

You’ll be glad you did.

What have you planned for your rehearsal dinner?

Photo courtesy of herzogbr

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Think You Don’t Need to Rehearse? Think Again. Three Reasons Why You Need a Wedding Rehearsal

Even before my wedding planning days, I was the go-to person in my group for planning events and helping with their weddings. I am somewhat organized-and that helps. I am also meticulous with details and well … a perfectionist.

I always assume a couple will hold a rehearsal before the Big Day, that is why I am shocked by the number of couples I have to convince. So just in case you are considering forgoing this wedding day run-through … here are the top three reasons why you need to hold a wedding rehearsal.

You Care About Your Wedding
Okay. I might be stating the obvious here-but you do. You really do care about how your wedding turns out. Why else would you spend your savings on a wedding dress and stay up all night combing the Internet for wedding-related news? You want the perfect wedding, don’t you?
Then, trust me. You need to rehearse it. Please do not spend thousands of dollars preparing for your wedding and not have at least a small run-through to plan for mishaps or misunderstandings. If there are going to be any issues, you want to know before the wedding … not during it.

People Don’t Know What to Do
I know this sounds mean, but it is true. People really don’t know what to do. Are you going to have your bridesmaids walk down the aisle with the groomsmen? Are the groomsmen going to walk out with the groom and the officiant? What about the kids? How do they stand? Where do they look? How do they exit?

And that is just the wedding party. What about you and your groom? Most people don’t have a lot of experience “getting” married. Yes, maybe one or both of you have been married before, but each wedding is different and the dynamics of each group change.

I organized a beach wedding once where the couple insisted they did not want a rehearsal. I begged and pleaded and told them these tips … still, they refused. The evening before the wedding, the bride casually asked me, “So … what do we do tomorrow?”


We ran down to the wedding location and conducted an impromptu rehearsal. After 45 minutes we all felt better about it. The groom later thanked me for my last-ditch effort and admitted they should have planned a rehearsal from the start.

Get Everyone on the Same Page
Once your wedding day arrives, you will be in no condition to ask people for help, look up telephone numbers or worry about who is paying who and when. The rehearsal is the perfect time to dish out assignments and share phone numbers with your wedding party and close family members.

I made a what was likely an overly-detailed list for each member of my wedding party and distributed it during the rehearsal. I listed telephone numbers for all of the vendors, my parents and aunts and all of the members of the wedding party. The idea was that if something came up and the flowers didn’t arrive, for example-any one of my friends could easily find the florist’s number and contact her.

I also distributed envelopes to my more responsible friends and asked them to pay the musicians, the officiant, etc. and asked them to help direct traffic, distribute programs and even to start the dancing at the reception.

Not sure how to organize your wedding rehearsal? Don’t worry … we will get to that in the coming weeks.

Are you planning to have a wedding rehearsal? What were your motivations? If not ... WHY?

Photo courtesy of Paul Chenoweth

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Four Ways to Show Your Creativity at Your Wedding

Long gone are the days of cookie-cutter weddings with white roses, tulle-tied chairs and assorted mints and nuts. Today’s brides are getting creative. And with more options than ever, it's easy to kick your creativity up a notch and inject a bit of fun flavor into your wedding day.

Not sure where to start?

I’ll help.

Here are four ways you can be creative with your wedding.

1. Accessories
I went to a high-school sweetheart wedding once where all of the bride’s attendants pranced down the aisle wearing a candy ring pop on their left hand. It was fun and youthful and reflected the couple’s jovial nature.

At another wedding, the bride wore an elegant floor-length white dress, but when she knelt for the marital blessing, bright red shoes peeked out from beneath her hem. It was a fun surprise for the guests and it showed the bride’s fun side.

Keeping with the shoe theme, choose a variety of rainbow shades and ask your attendants to each wear a different color sandal. Keep in mind, this only works if your wedding colors are basic and if the girls are wearing a simple solid dress, such as black or brown.

Not into mix-match shoes? Then how about having your toes painted in a bright blue hue to accommodate your something blue. Take it a step further and have your attendants paint their nails, as well.

2. Attendants
We’ve listed ways you can be creative when popping the question to your wedding attendants … but here is one more idea.

I was recently invited to be in the “wedding posse” for one of my closest friends. She created cards for each of us, glued our faces onto the most tragic bridesmaid dresses she could find and tied them together with ribbon and accessories. They were a wonderful souvenir for each of us and they showcased the bride’s creative talents. If you want to see how she made them, read up on it here.

3. Stationery
In keeping with the creative stationery theme, let’s quickly brainstorm all of the paper materials you need for your Big Day.

- Save the Dates
- Invitations
- Reply Cards
- Thank You Cards
- Programs
- Menu Cards
- Table Cards
- Escort Cards
- Place Cards

Now … surely with all of those stationery items we can get creative.

First of all, look through magazines and websites for some of your favorite ideas and think of ways you can reproduce those yourself. You can print cards such as place cards, escort cards, menu cards or programs at home then add theme-appropriate embellishments. This will be a fun project for you and your friends and your guests will think you spent a fortune.

4. Extras
I always say the success is in the details, so think of other ways you can do something new-something your guests haven’t seen before. In each element of my wedding, I asked myself what I could do that would be different.

One of the best things I created was a personalized wedding day activity book for the kiddos. I placed one at each child’s seat, along with a napkin full of colored pencils and an Italian chocolate “Surprise” egg. The kids loved them-in fact, several parents were caught playing along, as well.

What are some of the most creative things you’ve seen at weddings? What do you hope to do to make your wedding more unique?

Photos courtesy of Andrea Unplugged and wedding pictures from CMoore at My Bella Vita

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Four Steps to Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dress

On this day-possibly more than any other day in your life-you want to look perfect. You want the perfect hair. The perfect face. The perfect dress.

I know. I’ve been there.

They say the average bride tries on 20 dresses before making her choice. Me? I tried on 220. At least. Then I went back to square one. Seriously. That first little square picture I had plucked from the very first wedding magazine I read on my very first wedding information-gathering exploration.

But it was a process. A process many of us have to go through in order to get that perfect wedding dress. And so I'll share ...

Here are four tips to help you choose your perfect wedding dress.

1. Know Your Style
As we’ve discussed, knowing your wedding style will go a long way in helping you plan the perfect day. Same goes for your dress. If you are planning an elegant sit-down dinner, followed by a night of dancing and sipping champagne, you’ll be better off with a long, formal dress. On the other hand, if you are planning an afternoon lunch reception to follow your noon-time nuptials, a knee-length dress will better suit your style.

2. Choose Your Look
Do you want to be a sexy bride? An elegant bride? A blushing, youthful bride? Yes, technically you can be all three, but knowing the look you want will help you choose your dress.

I had narrowed my decision to two dresses. A soft-pink glimmering princess dress and an exotic, tight-waist bombshell dress. I couldn't choose and went back and forth between the two for days. Finally, the salesperson asked me a simple question, “Do you want to be sexy or do you want to look innocent?”

Simple enough. The choice was made.

3. Brainstorm Dresses
After your know your wedding day style and bridal look-start brainstorming. Search everywhere for wedding dresses. With the new color infusion wedding dresses are seeing these days, there is no longer a reason for brides to limit themselves to bridal salons. Seriously. Look everywhere. You might not find the dress you want on Craig’s List, but you might get an idea of where to look next.

Pull all of the pictures of the dresses you like and look for similarities. Are you choosing all ball gowns? Do all of the dresses have a hint of color? Are they slim, short or traditional?

4. Try Them On
After you have taken notice of the type of dress you are attracted to-get to the nearest shop and try them on. You may have loved those empire-line dresses but hate how they look on you. Try on several dresses with the same shape before you mark something off of your list. Try on anything the salesperson-or your mom, or your sister or your best friend-brings you. You never know what might change your mind.

Be sure to take a nice pair of heels with you to try on your dress so you can get a full picture of your wedding look.

After you have followed these four steps but before you have made your purchase, go back through steps one and two. Make sure the dress fits with your wedding style and look. This is an important step many brides overlook and although that might be a perfect dress-if it doesn’t go with your overall wedding plans-it isn’t the perfect dress for you.

Have you chosen your wedding dress? How did you do it? How many dresses did you try on before you found The One?

Photos courtesy of Notti Cabirian and Hopemeng

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wedding Traditions and Customs: How Much Do You Know?

You know you need flowers. You know you need cake. You know you need a bunch of girls standing around in likely-clad clothes. But do you dear, bride-to-be, know why? Wedding traditions such as these have been passed down through the generations. We follow the rules often without a second thought and most of time without fully understanding W-H-Y.

Today, we can test our knowledge of wedding customs and see if we can uncover where these 10 wedding traditions came from.

1. Why does the bride carry flowers?
a. So she doesn’t have to take a shower
b. Because brides in the past carried foul-smelling garlands to ward off evil spirits
c. Because orange blossom represent fruit and flowers and are the world renowned wedding flower

2. Why do brides carry something “blue?”
a. Because it reflects purity
b. Because in ancient Israel the color blue denoted love, modesty and fidelity
c. It rhymes with new

3. Why do we say “tie the knot?”
a. Because in Roman times, the bride wore a girdle the groom got to “untie” after the wedding
b. Because if the bride can tie a cherry stem with her tongue, she is good marriage potential
c. Because men used to race to tie a knot in a rope and whoever was finished first, won the bride

4. Why do we hold bridal showers?

a. To help the bride relieve stress
b. So the bride and groom don’t have to buy as much stuff for their new house
c. From the days when a bride’s father wouldn’t approve of the marriage and provide a dowry-the village pitched in to help the bride get married

5. Why do we have a first kiss during a wedding ceremony?
a. Because in ancient times the groom had never kissed his bride and he couldn’t wait any longer
b. To make sure the bride knew how to kiss. If she didn’t, the groom could cancel the wedding
c. Because in ancient Roman times, the kiss represented a legal bond

6. Why do we eat cake during a wedding reception?
a. So everyone can share the sweetness of the couple’s new marriage
b. Because it represented fertility in ancient days
c. Uhm. Duh! Because who doesn’t like cake?

7. Why does the bride wear a wedding veil?

a. So the groom won’t see her before they are officially married
b. To protect the bride from evil spirits
c. To protect the bride from jealous suitors

8. Why do newlyweds take a honeymoon?
a. Because after all of that wedding planning they need a vacation!
b. Because in ancient times, the bride was kidnapped and taken away for an extended period in hopes she would become pregnant and the groom would get to keep her.
c. If the bride married someone her family disliked, they would take a honeymoon in hopes that the family would forgive them by the time they returned.

9. Why did people traditionally throw rice at the wedding?

a. To feed the birds-they are hungry, too
b. So the bride could collect it and make dinner on her first night as a wife
c. To wish the couple a fruitful and plentiful life together

10. Why do brides have a maid-of-honor?
a. So her sister can dress up in a pretty dress
b. So she can show her friends who she likes the best
c. Because in ancient Greece, a more experienced bride would perform this role and impart her wisdom to the new bride

How did you do on the quiz? What are you favorite wedding traditions? Which answers surprised you?

Answers: 1)B&C; 2)A&B; 3)A; 4)C; 5)C; 6)B; 7)A,B,C; 8)B&C; 9)C; 10)C

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who Speaks When? A Mini-Guide to Wedding Day Speeches

Tap, tap, tap …

Uhm … can you hear me? Can you hear me?

Is this thing on?

Public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the world, yet at some point or another-like your wedding, for instance-people will need to speak.

And this can get scary.

The bride is worried about who speaks when, the speakers are worried about what to say and the guests are worried the bride chose too many speakers and that the speakers will speak too long.

Agh! What should you do?

First, take a deep breath, have a sip of water and imagine everyone around you is naked … feel better?

Now here is a mini-guide to wedding day speeches.

Rehearsal Dinner

1. It is common for the person who is hosting the rehearsal dinner to welcome the guests, say a few words about the couple and mention the uniting of two families. Traditionally this was the groom’s father, but recently the task has fallen to the groom, the bride or another close family member or friend.

This speech is given after everyone is seated and has a glass of their preferred toasting beverage.

2. Sometimes other parents or honor attendants (your maid of honor and best man) prefer to speak at the rehearsal dinner instead of at the wedding reception. This is a personal choice, and a good one, I think if they won’t be speaking at the wedding –you don’t want the same people speaking at both events.

These speeches can be given following the first course or in the middle of dinner, after everyone has begun eating.

3. Since this is normally a casual affair, the bride and groom should consider thanking their parents and wedding attendants and presenting them with gifts during the rehearsal dinner.

The bride and groom can speak just before dessert or at the end of the dinner as a final send-off for their guests.

Wedding Reception

1. The best man usually toasts the couple with a short speech just after the formal blessing but before dinner, after everyone has been served a glass of champagne.

2. If the maid of honor didn’t speak at the rehearsal dinner, she can speak at the wedding reception.

3. Sometimes the father-of-the-bride, or whoever is hosting the event, will speak.

Both the maid of honor and the father-of-the-bride (and additional speeches) can be done in one of several ways.

- The speeches can be given immediately following the best man’s speech.

- The speeches can be given after everyone has been served (or served themselves dinner) and is seated.

- The speeches can be delivered between courses (for a formal dinner).

I prefer to schedule the speeches throughout the night so guests aren’t forced to listen to 10-20 consecutive minutes of wedding speeches.

I also encourage brides to schedule the speeches early in the night before speakers can consume to much liquid courage and to conclude all speeches before the dancing begins, as it will be highly difficult-if not impossible-to regain control of the crowd.

Now, as for what your speakers should say or how they can cope with that public speaking phobia? Here are a few websites you can direct them to …

Free Wedding Toasts

Wedding Speeches


Afraid of Speaking a Speech.Com

Photo courtesy of True Blue Titan

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Four Steps to Choosing Wedding Day Favors

Wedding favors are children’s party favors’ sophisticated cousins and are often given as tokens of appreciation to wedding guests at some point during the wedding reception. Back in the old days-aka when I was growing up-my mom used to look for her color-coordinated book of matches and take an embossed cocktail napkin home as a souvenir from the couple’s happy day.

My, how things have changed.

Somewhere along the way, Americans followed the lead of French and Italian aristocrats who gave their guests bomboniere, a small porcelain or metal box filled with candied almonds and voila … the wedding favor was born.

Today’s bride has limitless options, from frames to homemade cookies to imported bottles of miniature olive oil (that’s what I gave!)-your imagination really *is* your only limitation. Need some help with that imagination?

Well here you go. Open a new browser, bride-to-be, because today we are going to choose your wedding favors!

Step 1:
If you haven’t already, you should start by familiarizing yourself with your options.

My Wedding Favors
This is the go-to site for wedding favor inspiration with categories divided by season, price, type and a special *featured favor* section. If it is wedding favor-related, you will find it here.

Wedding Favors
Yet another website dedicated to favors, this site features a “New for 2009” landing page, offers accessories for other wedding-related needs and even ships overseas. Another great place to get inspired.

Wedding Chicks
If you are planning a wedding and haven’t visited Wedding Chicks, then you are behind, girl. This site is a great meeting place for brides and features “real bride” bloggers, destination wedding advice and tips for weddings in each of the 50 states in the US.

Wedding Bee
Another must-see site for brides-to-be, Wedding Bee offers Pro Tips, a forum of other brides and photo galleries and classifieds.

Step 2:
Think about you, your fiance and your wedding theme and try to narrow your options. For example, if you and your honey met while salsa dancing, consider giving a salsa CD; if you are having an Asian-themed wedding, think about giving Asian fans; if you and your husband-to-be are actively involved in a charitable organization, you can give a donation to that organization in your guests’ names.

Step 3:
Set your budget-and stick to it! Favors can get out of control and can make you miss your budget mark by thousands of dollars. Since you have already reviewed your options, look at your budget and decide how much you can afford to spend per person. If you fall in love with an expensive option, brainstorm ways to make them yourself or search for less-expensive ways to create the favors yourself.

Step 4:
Decide at this point if you want to do something traditional or if you prefer to give a unique favor. When I got married, I knew that I wanted something different-or I wanted nothing at all. Since my husband is Italian and he and I live in the bel paese, we imported Italian olive oil, bottled it into miniature bottles for our guests, sealed the bottles and applied our own labels and raffia. Everyone raved about them and they looked like they cost much more than they actually did.

If you want to go a more traditional route, you can purchase chocolate bars and create your own labels online. American Greetings has candy wrappers you can easily create or you can visit for more ideas.

Have you chosen your favors? What are you giving? Are you making them or purchasing them pre-made?

Photos courtesy of Creative Abubot, Fairy Tale and Corey Ann

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hot Wedding Color Combinations for 2009

Every few years new color combinations hit the wedding scene - some make a splash and stay around while others sizzle … then quickly fizzle.

Are you the type of bride who wants her wedding to reflect the hottest color trends of the season, show her stylish side and make her friends envious with why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-color-syndrome? If so here are four color combinations that are HOT for 2009.

But before we get started, here are a few things to remember about your wedding color combinations.

- Keep it simple
Choosing too many colors will make your wedding seem unorganized and leave your guests wondering what look you were striving for; limit your color choices to no more than three colors so your wedding will be streamlined and elegant.

- Be decisive
Take as much time as you need to choose your wedding colors, but once you’ve made a decision-stick with it. I went to a wedding once where I knew the bride’s parents had paid a year’s worth of college tuition on food, rentals and decorations alone. The bride had hired a wedding planner. No expense was spared.

The problem was her color choices seemed to be deep navy and brown-those colors were everywhere-but her tablecloths were burnt orange. I am all about color accents, but in this case it didn’t work.

- Use colors liberally
Whichever colors you choose, be sure to repeat them throughout your wedding-in your invitations, in your wedding party attire, in your floral and centerpiece decorations, your cake, your linens … everywhere! If the bride from the above example had used burnt orange in more than her tablecloths, the color would have brightened the wedding and blended perfectly with her intended wedding day style.

Got it? Here we go.

1. Shades

Wedding color combinations for 2009 are all about blending shades of similar colors. Need an example?

Orange is one of my favorite colors, especially for a wedding. It's bright hue can liven up a room and is reminiscent of youth, sun and energy. But you probably don’t want orange as your only wedding color, now do you?

I didn’t think so.

What I’d do is start with a shade of orange, such as pumpkin or tangerine, then add peach, peach-orange or peach-yellow. The effect is bright, energetic and classy.

2. Blending Browns

As with the example above, stand-alone brown might not be the go-to color choice for many brides, but when done properly it can be elegant and chic.

Consider choosing dark espresso and pairing it with latte or cream (I am getting thirsty, here). Set off against a backdrop of sparkling lights, candles and a hint of gold this color combination is stylishly romantic and promises to give your guests something to remember.

3. Eclectic Eggplant

Eggplant burst onto the wedding color combination scene a few years, but trend-setting brides make adjustments with each year. According to The, eggplant, cornflower and magenta are big and bold for 2009.

The key is to choose colors that have the same undertones. The particular shades of eggplant and magenta pictured on the knot’s website have blue undertones. This helps ensure your colors don’t clash.

4. Orange and well … anything

It is true. Orange really is *the* IT color for 2009. For spring or summer weddings pair bright orange with aqua or turquoise to create a tropical feel. Autumn brides can use deep orange paired with cream, light gold, plum or brown, while winter brides could choose deep navy, charcoal or purple.

Have you chosen your wedding colors? What are they? How did you decide?

Photos courtesy of TN Something Special Cake and Anne Ruthmann

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Extra Events for Your Destination Wedding

Last week we hit on Destination Wedding Dos and Don’ts and I promised to give you the scoop on all the fun, extra wedding events you could host.

And trust me … there are a lot.

From bachelor parties to vineyard tours and everything in between, your destination wedding can easily turn into a destination weekend - and why shouldn’t it? You deserve it.

Not sure if you should include extra events, or even which events to choose? Don’t worry. I’ll help.

The number and types of events you host depend on several factors. Ask yourself the following questions to help you get started.

- How many days do you expect your guests to be at your wedding destination?

- How many guests are you expecting to attend?

- How big is your budget?

Now, here is a rundown on the most traditional destination wedding events.

Welcome Party
A welcome party is held on the evening that the majority of your guests arrive at the wedding destination. This can be something simple, like cocktails and appetizers or elaborate like a Polynesian Luau. If you want this type of event, talk to your wedding planner and ask about venues other than your wedding reception location. If you are getting married in Italy, ask if there is a vineyard or villa nearby that hosts events and have your welcome party there. You don’t want your guests to be tired of your wedding before the Big Day arrives.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party
If time permits, couples can choose to have their bachelor and bachelorette parties at their wedding destination. Just be sure you don’t host this event the night before the wedding and ensure there is responsible transportation for everyone.

Spa Day
Many brides like to host a bridal luncheon or spa day before their wedding-and destination weddings are no exception! Ask your hotel for spa specials and ask them to deliver lunch to the spa for you and your girls.

Area Tours
If you are getting married in a destination that is known for a particular attraction, then consider hosting a group tour of that location. For example, if you are getting married in San Francisco, consider hosting a tour of Alcatraz, if you are getting married in Guatemala, consider hosting a tour to the ruins at Tikal ... you get the idea.

Rehearsal Dinner
In my opinion, this is the only pre-wedding event you should invite your guests to attend. If you can’t afford a big dinner for everyone, then go a less-expensive route or talk to your wedding planner for other options. If you absolutely can’t afford dinner for all of your guests, then host your rehearsal dinner for your wedding party and family members and invite everyone else to join you at a pre-set time for drinks or dessert.

Morning-After Brunch
Since you will likely stay in or near your wedding destination for your honeymoon, consider hosting a morning-after brunch for your guests. Everyone will enjoy discussing your fabulous wedding, talking about your new “Mrs.” status and sharing pictures from their digital cameras.

It is important to note that no destination wedding should include all of these events … that is wedding-overkill for you and your guests. Choose the events that best fit with your idea of a perfect destination wedding-and budget-and your guests will be grateful.

Also keep in mind that you should foot the bill for any event you invite your guests to attend. You can (and should) create a special package of information on restaurants, bars and attractions in the area you guests can visit on their own. You aren’t responsible for paying for this.

Are you having a destination wedding? Which events are you going to include?

Photos courtesy of voxphoto, thomaswanhoff and terralynne

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Seating Charts for Dummies: How to Create a Wedding Reception Seating Chart

Think back to a time when you walked into a room, you didn’t recognize a face in the crowd, you had nowhere to sit, no one to talk to … you felt invisible. Right? Well if you haven’t ever been in that situation-lucky you. For those of you who have-you know it stinks.

You don’t want your wedding guests to feel that way, do you?

Well here is a little secret.

If you don’t have a seating chart … they will.

I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve attended that didn’t have a seating chart. I realize it is a pain in the neck for most brides. I realize some guests might know a lot of people and want to mingle. I do. I get that.

But imagine your 86-year-old grandmother arriving at the reception and all of the seats near you are taken.

What if there are only individual seats left at each table and nowhere for your favorite cousin and her husband to sit together?

What if your friend who flew 400 miles to be at your wedding walks in and has to ask strangers if they’ll “please” let her sit with them?

That isn’t cool.

Classy brides know they need a seating chart and will bear that cross with a grin ... or at least, a martini.

Here are a few tips to help you easily make your wedding reception seating chart.

1. Start Early
I know people won’t RSVP early-or even on time-or even, at all … but there are some people you know will attend. Feel free to call close friends and family members early and confirm they are attending so you can get them on the charts. The same can be done with out-of-town guests.

2. Make an Outline
Well … sort of. Make a graph and pencil in where you will put your VIPs. VIPs include you and your groom, both sets of parents, grandparents, siblings and special relatives, and your wedding party.

3. Let Your Guests Help
Not sure if you should put children at special “children-only” tables or with their parents? Ask them. I knew many of the kids at my wedding would know each other well and would want to sit together. I also realized that my friends’ children might not be comfortable with new people and would prefer to sit with their parents. Ask your guests what they or they children prefer and seat them accordingly.

Along those same lines, assign people you know well to help manage tables. For example, when I got married, my husband’s first cousin from Italy flew to Texas for the event. I knew he would spend several pre-wedding days with other members of the bridal party and I also knew the priest would want to speak Italian with him. I asked some members of my bridal party if they minded sitting with the priest and cousin to make the evening go smoothly for everyone. They agreed and in fact, probably had more fun than any other table.

4. Assign Tables-Not Seats
If the idea is just to have a seat for everyone and to help your guests mingle a little, then assign tables-not seats. This is much easier for you to do.

You don’t have to worry about putting people next to each other and hoping they mesh and you don’t have to make individual place cards. Just create escort cards-a card that includes the person’s name and table number ... and voila! You are done. Visit American Greetings to create your own escort cards or check out Documents and Designs for inspiration.

For even more seating chart tips, read through The Perfect Table Plan site or go to Softlist.Net for free seating chart downloads.

Have you thought about your seating chart? Or even better … have you created it?

Photos courtesy of supermuch and kisokiso