Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Three Tips to Setting the (Right) Wedding Date

It is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a newly engaged couple, yet many couples jump the gun and make a decision-without giving it proper thought.

I’m talking about the date.

The wedding date, that is.

Not only will this date live on year after year-whether he remembers it or not-but it is important because the date you choose could have a huge impact on your guest count, wedding theme and vendor availability.

Here are three tips to ensuring you set the right wedding date.

1. Find the biggest red-letter day calendar you can find and mark an “X” on the AVOID dates.

In general, dates to avoid include

- Daylight savings days (so your guests won’t accidentally miss your nuptials!)

- Thanksgiving Day

- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

- Super Bowl Weekend

- Easter Sunday

2. On the same calendar, circle any POTENTIALLY AVOID dates.

Some dates you should potentially avoid include long weekends when your guests might have other things to do. For example, having your wedding the weekend of President’s Day isn’t a big deal, as most guests don’t honor this weekend with out of town BBQs or trips to the lake. However, they might for the weekends of Labor Day and Memorial Day. Keep the following observances in mind when you plan your Big Day ...

- Memorial Day Weekend (Explained above)

- Labor Day Weekend (Same for Memorial Day)

- Independence Day (Same for Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends … people might be out of town or on family vacations.)

- Mother’s Day (Some families plan big feasts for their mamas each year and might not want to / or feel pressured not to miss the occasion.)

- Father’s Day (Same goes for dear ‘ole dad's day.)

- New Year’s Eve (It could be a great party, but keep in mind that many people might be out of town or prefer to celebrate on their own. This is especially true if you aren’t having a big party with drinking and dancing.)

- Halloween (Unless you plan to have a costume party and/or Halloween-themed wedding, rethink this date.)

- April Fools’ Day (Unless you are into funky celebrations ... then go for it!)

- Your Birthdays (It might seem cute to get married on your groom’s birthday, but consider that forever forward, he’ll have to share his birthday with your wedding anniversary. You’ll have to buy two gifts for the same day and he’ll essentially be losing a date of celebration.

- Other Dates that are important to you, your groom, your families or your closest friends. For example, you might not want to get married on the day your soon-to-be husband’s mother passed away. It is poor taste ... you know what I'm saying?

3. Carry that calendar with you when you meet various venues or caterers that could make or break your preferred wedding date.

It is possibly-likely even, that you will go through this process and choose a date, only to have your number one caterer of choice tell you he’s booked. That is ok. If you have made notes on your calendar and at least tried to think of any potential date conflicts-and noted them!-then you can easily adjust your wedding date to suit your favorite vendors.

Also keep in mind that non-popular wedding months (like January or November) might be less expensive, as well as getting married on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday. As always, keep in mind that out-of-town guests might have a hard time arriving for your 6:00 PM Thursday evening wedding-especially if they plan to drive.

What other dates do you think couples should choose and/or avoid?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Five Wedding Day Details You Won’t Want To Miss

It is almost here-the day you’ve been planning for months and months and the event you may have been dreaming of for years and years … Your Wedding Day.

You’ve made your list and checked it twice-or thrice, and are confident no detail has been missed.

Aren’t you?

Well, just in case, here are five wedding day details you won’t want to forget!

1. Directions
The Google generation knows how to fire up their laptops and find the quickest route to almost any point on the globe … but your great grandma might not. Don’t forget to include directions either with your invitation or on your wedding website and follow up with people who might not have easy access to a GPS.

2. Kiddos
Cater to your smallest guests in a way that makes them feel special and search out new, fun ideas to get them involved. When I got married, I asked my children-bearing guests if their kiddos would rather sit at a children’s only table or sit with their parents. Many of them chose the kids’ tables. I had food stations for the adults and asked the caterers to serve the children a special kids-only platter. I also made an activity book, presented it with a napkin-full of colored pencils and served them an imported chocolate surprised-filled egg from Italy. It was a hit!

3. Welcome Baskets
I love welcome baskets and for the record, I’ve never met an out-of-town guest who didn’t eat them up. Literally. The cost doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just buy a basket or wedding theme-colored shopping bag and fill it with local flavor. For my wedding in Texas, I served up spicy Tex-Mex salsa and a bag of chips, miniature pecan pies, jars of honey (that was made at my aunt’s ranch) and TexJoy seasoning (that is made in my hometown).

I added items depending on the guests’ tastes, such as a 6-pack of assorted imported beer for my beer-drinking travel buddies and American-flavored drinks and desserts, such as Dr. Pepper and Oreo cookies for our Italian guests.

Don’t forget to include a welcome note, a map of the city, brochures from area attractions, a list of recommended restaurants or cafes and a wedding weekend itinerary.

4. Restroom Baskets
Speaking of baskets, why not create two more and ask your venue coordinator to place them in the restrooms. Using your same stationary design-so your guests will recognize them from your wedding- create a sign and let your guests know you’ve really thought everything. I included toothpics, mouthwash, spray deodorant, hair spray, safety pins, tampons and a sewing kit in my restroom baskets.

5. Menu Cards
Although it is easily something you can save your money on, menu cards add a touch of class and show your guests the lengths you’ve taken with your details. Using the same stationary design and colors as your escort cards and programs, create a small sign outlining your menu. If you are having a sit down dinner, your guests will read it and anticipate each course and if you are having food stations, it will direct them to food they might not have otherwise found.

What special touches are you including with your wedding?

Photo courtesy of digitialsean

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Six Wedding Trends for 2009

Oh yes … we are six months in 2009 and some brides are already planning weddings for well into 2010 or even 2011. But if you are one of the Jeanie-come-lately brides-to-be, then don’t fret. There is still time for you to jump into the trends and have a wedding that looks like you’ve been planning it for months and months.

Here are six of the biggest wedding trends for 2009.1. Outdoor Weddings
For 2009, chic brides are headin’ outdoors and putting a stylish spin on an old-fashioned backyard wedding. If you’re wondering if a backyard wedding is right for you, then you are in luck … we’ve already discussed it.

To keep with current trends, be sure to include vintage centerpieces and vases, fresh garden-style flowers and plenty of outside lighting. Wood signs are big this year and brides are showing up in casual dresses and wearing their hair in long flowing layers.

2. Two-Tiered Cakes
According to TheKnot dot Com, cupcakes and dessert bars are soooo 2008. Trendy brides in 2009 are bringing back the cake, but leaving out the layers. Experts say two layers are tops and even suggest using one-layered cakes as table centerpieces. (This is an idea I *love*, as I almost went with this idea for my 2007 wedding.)

3. Rewearable Bridesmaid Dresses
The cookie-cutter bridesmaid look has-thankfully!-been fading over the last few years, but 2009 brides know that the key to your bridesmaid’s hearts-and wallets-is to choose something they actually can wear again. I was in a wedding last weekend where the blushing bride asked us to choose a knee-length black dress that we liked. We could use something from our own collection-if we had it, or buy a new dress that we’d want to wear again. To keep things fun, she wore bright red heels and asked each of us to choose another bright colored sandal of our choice.

4. Vintage
I said it before with the backyard wedding trend, but vintage is everywhere in 2009. Look for brides to choose something from their mothers’ or grandmothers’ jewelry box to add to her bouquet, to choose a birdcage veil or even to add a few 1920s inspired feathers to flowers or centerpieces.

5. Bright Colors
Have your heart set on being pretty in pink? No problem. Just kick it up a notch-or four. Pastel colors and muted tones are falling to the wayside in lieu of bright jewel tone shades and bold colors. Remember those colors we talked about a few months ago? They are still big. So choose a few bright shades of pink, orange or turquoise and get ready to strut your stuff with bold colors.

6. Food Stations and Signature Drinks
Sit-down dinners are the epitome of class at any wedding reception, but in 2009, brides are infusing their receptions with a bit of funky flavor and style. Food stations are growing in popularity, as are signature drink stations. When I got married, I had an Italian Bellini drink station, complete with hand-dipped white-chocolate tips and strawberries. It was the hit of party!

What special touches are you adding to your wedding this year?

Photos courtesy of shutupyourface, chaserpaul, erin m, pearlbamboo, smcgee and specialkrb

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three Honeymoon Packing Lists for Any Destination

Sunset BeachImage by Chris Gin via Flickr

As if planning your wedding, counting your pennies and organizing your newly married life together wasn’t enough fun, now you get to travel. I’m talking, overly-flustered bride-to-be, about your honeymoon.

So … where are you going?

Did you decide on a new domestic destination you haven’t yet visited? Are you going on a week-long cruise? Maybe you are heading overseas? Well, whatever you have decided, this trip is one of the most important trips of your lifetime. No matter how often you and your sweetie have traveled together-you’ve never taken a honeymoon and no matter what other destinations you visit in your lifetime-you’ll never get this trip back.

Over-packing is one of the biggest mistakes honeymooners make when traveling and although I’m sure you really *do* need those eight pair of sandals, lugging heavy suitcases around the airport, train stations and ports isn’t much fun.

So, here are three honeymoon packing lists you can use for almost any destination. Add them to the general packing list below and soon you’ll be sipping Mai Tai’s in style … if that’s your thing, of course.

General List

Carry-on Bag:

-In a folder, keep all of your airline ticket confirmations, passport, visa and driver’s license copies and hotel and transfer receipts and contact information. Put this in the front of your carry-on for easy access.
- Small wallet with credit cards and cash (Divide your cards and cash so each of you have equal amounts in case someone loses their half!)
- Credit card company phone numbers
- Prescription medicine
- Book or magazine for long trips
- Camera with extra battery or memory stick
- Sunglasses
- Guidebook and/or destination notes


For both of you
- 3-4 shirts that you can either layer and/or mix and match with your pants
- 2-3 pairs of pants or shorts (or skirts, for her)
- 1 light sweater
- 1 hat (weather-appropriate)
- 1 pair comfortable walking shoes
- 3-4 pairs of socks and underwear
- 1 umbrella or 2 ponchos
- 2-3 scarves that you can mix and match with your clothes (for her)

- Toothpaste
- Toothbrushes
- Deodorant
- Cosmetics/Make-up remover (for her)
- Comb/brush
- Hairspray
- Shaving cream
- Razors
- Contact Lenses and solution

Beach Honeymoon Packing List

For her
- 1 sundress
- 1 pair of shoes to match
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 swimsuit cover-up or sarong
- 1 pair of sandals to wear to the beach

For him
- 1 swimsuit
- 1-2 extra t-shirts to wear at the beach
- 1 pair of shoes to wear to the beach

For both of you

- Aloe vera
- Sun block
- Lip balm

*Leave beach towels at home. Most beach resorts provide them or you can buy them onsite and have a good souvenir of your honeymoon vacation.

City Honeymoon Packing List

For both of you
- 1 nice coat you can layer with other clothes or dress up for a night out
- 1 dressier set of clothes
- 1 nice pair of shoes to match

Cold Weather Honeymoon Packing List

For both of you
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1-2 cold-weather hats
- 3-4 cold-weather scarves
- 1 heavy jacket
- 1 pair of boots
- Facial moisturizer
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stale Cake Anyone? Three Alternatives to Saving the Cake

Wedding cake with hearts and roses on the buff...Image via Wikipedia

Your mother did it. Her mother did it. Heck, maybe even her mother’s mother did it … but, modern-day bride-to-be … you don’t have to.

I’m talking about taking the cake. You know … the whole keep-the-top-layer-freeze-it-then-eat-it-again-a-year-later cake thing?

I mean … gross. Seriously. Who wants to eat stale, freezer-burned cake? You know you don’t-and I promise you, he doesn’t, either.

But if you are like me and are a sucker for a romantic tradition, then tossing the cake might be hard to do.

Until now.

Here are three fresh alternatives to saving the cake.

1. You Don’t Have to Save the Cake to Eat It, too.
So what did you choose? White cake with fresh strawberry filling? Chocolate and raspberry? Italian cream? (All three!) Well no worries. With a little advance planning you can recreate your wedding cake from scratch, and save freezer space in the process.

Here is what you do.

If you and your future hubby plan to live in the same area as your wedding, then getting fresh cake for your first anniversary is well … a piece of cake.

Just call the baker a month or so in advance and ask her for the smallest cake possible. Better yet, plan this when you order your wedding cake. Your baker can get you on the books and you’ll feel safe knowing your first anniversary dessert is taken care of. If she can’t or won’t make the cake, then ask her for recommendations or call another local bakery.

If you don’t live in the same area as your wedding, then improvise. Call a bakery, describe your wedding cake flavors and ask if they can recreate the cake for you.

When all else fails-learn how to bake. The Internet is full of cake recipes so choose one-or three-and get to baking. Get your honey in on the fun and ask him to help. It will be a romantic event the two of you can do together to commemorate your Big Day.

2. Pop Open Some Bubbly
My husband and I live in Italy, but got married in Texas … so, transporting frozen cake 6,000 air miles wasn’t really an option.

Instead, I ordered an extra bottle of our toasting Champagne and asked my caterer to keep it aside for us. I brought the bottle back to Italy with me and we toasted our first anniversary with the same Champagne and glasses as we used on our Wedding Day. It was a lot cleaner than melted wedding cake and the Champagne was fabulous.

3. Make Your Own Sweet Memories
Surprise your spouse and invite him to join you as you make some of your own sweet memories. Indulge yourselves with cake-scented candles, bubble bath and lotions and follow-up with romantic desserts, such as chocolate-covered strawberries, tiramisu or chocolate mousse.

Have you considered not keeping the top layer of your wedding cake? What do you plan to do with it and more importantly … why?
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Four Steps to Making Your Own Wedding Ceremony Programs

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big fan of doing some things yourself when it comes to wedding planning. Baking your cake and organizing your flowers? Not so much. Stationary, programs or place cards? Oh yea …

Unless you are Martha’s long-lost daughter (or marrying her long-lost son) creating wedding-worthy programs can be a bit intimidating. But thankfully, scrapbooking papers and tools can be used for more than photo pages and memory albums and the Internet really is the bride’s best friend when it comes to wedding planning.

Here are four steps to making your DIY ceremony programs a piece of (wedding) cake.

1. Choose Text
And no. I don’t mean font styles or colors, or even appropriate wedding verbiage. I mean the first step in creating your own wedding ceremony programs is to choose the information you want to include. Do you want a simple ceremony program that includes the “who” and “when” of the day or do you want a more detailed outline of what your guests can expect?

Search the Internet for details on the various kinds of programs other brides are currently using. A great list of templates is available here and here.

2. Think Style
Ceremony programs range in style from ultra-formal to cute and casual. You will need to choose your program style to coordinate with your wedding day. A hand held ceremony “fan” might be perfect for a fun, outdoor wedding but will look out of place in a formal, church setting. Likewise, glam and glimmer would be perfect for an elegant church or hotel wedding but would look silly at an outdoor, garden wedding.

Always consider your wedding day style when choosing your programs-or any other element to your wedding. You want your wedding to look coordinated, not like a 2nd grade crafts project.

3. Find a Sample
Go to Google, or your favorite Internet search engine, and enter the words “wedding programs.” Instead of clicking through the websites that come up, click the tab for “images” and search from there. You will get a variety of ideas and inspiration for your own programs.

You could also look at the site where you ordered your invitations and see if they have coordinating programs or even look at websites you know you can’t afford and see how you can modify their programs and do them yourself.

The Knot recently listed details for creating five types of wedding day programs, complete with a materials list and detailed instructions. Other samples can be found on American Greetings website and Custom Programs.

4. Put it Together
To create top-notch wedding programs, you are going to need some time, some patience, some friends and some materials. Depending on what you chose, you will likely need the following items in addition to your computer and color printer.

- Scalloped scissors
- Hole punch
- Design hole punch (for example, I bought a leaf hole punch and used it to create leaves on my programs, menu cards, etc. I then glued card stock behind the leaf so a different color would show through.)
- Card stock (several colors and/or textures)
- Brads
- Ribbon
- Other accessories

I recommend purchasing materials to create a model program. Play with your font types, sizes and colors and experiment with different ribbons, bows or accessories. Ask your family members or friends for input or suggestions and most of all … have fun.

If you get stumped and can’t move forward, ask your local crafts store for recommendations or advice.

Did you make your own programs? What websites did you find useful?

Photo courtesy of TheKnot.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Three Bridesmaid Dress Ideas Your Maids Will Love

You’ve all seen the pictures-or, depending on your age and/or group of girlfriends, been party to-the tragedy that once beset bridesmaids across the country. I know I have … been party to, that is.

I have donned bridesmaid dresses that range from 1980s-style blue taffeta (and no, I wasn’t an adult in the 80s) to a two-piece foil-gold skirt and top to a clingy, bright purple knee-length dress .

And the sad part is, I did it without a question. You see, as the good bridesmaid I always was, I never questioned the bride when she selected our dress, told us which pantyhose to buy and ordered us to paint our nails in like-toned hues. It was part of the job.

Today’s brides , though are taking it easy on their gal pals and are offering color, style and fabric options I never had as a college-aged maid. And these options rock.

Here are three bridesmaid dress ideas your maids will love.

1. The Black Dress Idea
I’m in a wedding next month where the bride has chosen a beige and black color combination and asked the maids to simply choose any knee-length (ish) black dress of our choice. We could choose the sleeve style, fabric and fit. Since her maids range in height from 6’0 to 5’2 (that would be me!) I thought this was a kind choice and no one will feel frumpy or modest, since we chose the dress.

To infuse some color into her wedding, she asked each of us to choose a different brightly colored heel and accessories. She’s wearing red heels, the other maids are wearing yellow and purple and I’m wearing bright pink.

I think the end result will be elegant and classy, with a hint of youthful fun.

2. The Colors Idea
This idea is similar to the black dress idea but allows the bride more control over the dress. The idea here is for the bride to choose two or three colors she’d like for the bridesmaids to wear and then let them decide amongst themselves on the style of the dress.

My November wedding utilized the colors of the season and I knew I wanted deep, rich fall colors for the girls. That being said, I was open to which colors that would be. Since we started searching for their dresses more than a year in advance, we had the luxury of choosing their dress colors first, then letting the invites, stationary, linens and flowers fall into place.

I also knew I didn’t want them in matching dresses, but wanted their dresses to coordinate. In the end, three of my bridesmaids wore a matching chocolate dress with an eggplant accent and the other two wore eggplant dresses with chocolate accents. It was stunning.

3. The Color and Style Idea
This option takes the color idea one step further and lets the bride control the style and color of the dress the bridesmaids wear, but still allows room for the bridesmaid’s individuality.

Most dress designers now offer optional accents or colors for many of their dresses. As in the example below, the bride chose a knee-length dress and color and let the maids choose the sleeve style and cut.

Have you and your maids chosen dresses yet? What did you decide on?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to Have a Semi-Do it Yourself Wedding

Thanks to Martha Stewart, scrap booking, home crafts and do-it-yourself projects have all but taken over, so it is only fitting the wedding industry would jump on board. Want invitations? You can “do them yourself.” Want programs? No problem? Menu cards? Websites? Flowers?

Where does it end? And when is too much DIY, really too much?

I’m a big proponent of having a semi-DIY wedding. There are some things you really can do yourself and depending on your time and personal creativity level, you might even be better than some of the pros. But not always.

Here is a mini-guide to holding a semi-Do it Yourself wedding.

1. Know Your Limitations

And no, dear bride, I don’t just mean creative limits. It doesn’t matter if you were the master floral arranger in the international flower arrangers competition for eight straight years … you shouldn’t do your own flowers.

Flowers can’t be arranged more than a few hours in advance and you’ll likely need a large refrigerated holding area. Do you really want to worry about tulips and poesies? Or would you rather be relaxing with your bridesmaids, drinking mimosas or getting a massage and a pedi?

Same goes with
- Cakes
- Catering
- Photography / Video
- Band / DJ

2. Choose Your Projects

As you see, I’ve left tons of items up for grabs in the DIY category. These include-but are not limited to-the following.

- Invitations and Reply Cards
- Thank You Cards
- Your Wedding Website
- Programs
- Menu Cards
- Guest Book
- Table Cards
- Chair Cards
- Escort Cards
- Place Cards
- Children’s Activity Books
- Welcome Baskets
- Your Hair
- Your Makeup
- Your Nails / Pedicure

It is important for you to review this list and choose which items you think you can do yourself. I suggest keeping the same theme for your wedding day stationary, such as menu cards, programs, place cards, escort cards, table cards and chair cards (ie, either ordering them all or doing them all yourself). You will want consistency in the paper color, weight and texture, as well as the font style and color and graphics.

It is also wise to choose items that can be done in advance. For example, you can order a guest book from PhotoWorks months in advance. I’ve outlined the steps for creating this book here.

You can also create your own activity books in advance. I have a photo of the one I used here.

Your personal beauty procedures, such as hair, makeup and nails should be done as late as possible. If your budget allows, go with your bridesmaids and close family members to a salon the day before your wedding and have your nails and pedicures done. I also recommend hiring a stylist for your hair. There is just something they do that us “normal” folks can’t … and whatever that is makes your hair stay gorgeously styled throughout your wedding day.

3. Know When to Say When

Choosing too many DIY projects can add to the stress of your wedding and can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t plan them well. If you are feeling the heat, try to delegate some tasks either to your close friends and family members or consider hiring a professional to help you wrap it up.

Are you doing any DIY projects for your wedding? What are you doing? What are you hiring done?

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Five Bridal Accessories You Can’t Hit the Aisle Without

Fashion experts say nothing completes a look like well-placed accessories … and I couldn’t agree more. I’m not talking about shoes and a hair clip, though-you know you need those. I’m talking about the little things. The small details that show you are well-prepared, organized and classy bride who is ready to strut her stuff.

Here are five bridal accessories you can’t get married without.

1. A Family Memento
Notice I didn’t say “a family heirloom.” Yes, yes … wearing your grandmother’s wedding brooch in your veil or tucked into your bouquet is a beautiful way to honor her, but what if your grandmother doesn’t have any old valuables?

Don’t worry. This must-have bridal accessory can include anything from an old photo wrapped inside your bouquet to a hairpin you remember your mother wearing throughout your childhood.

About six months before my wedding, I found my husband’s first baby blanket. With his father’s permission, of course, I snipped a piece of the blue ribbon and asked my florist to include it inside my bridal bouquet. It was a nice way to include his family in the wedding and doubled as my “something blue.”

invisible setting diamond earringsImage by paparutzi via Flickr

2. A Nice Piece of Jewelry
For the record I am not an expensive gems type of girl. Like many women, I like a nice diamond ring here and there, but on a day-to-day basis I don’t wear expensive jewelry and I am against the idea of running out and spending thousands of dollars on diamond and platinum earrings if they are just for your wedding.

That being said it *is* your wedding day (and you are a princess) so if, let’s say your fairy Godmother insists on loaning you her glimmering eye candy for your walk down the aisle, then take her up on it. If you don’t have a family member or close friend who is dripping in diamonds, then consider renting one nice piece from a reputable online company such as Adorn Brides, where you can rent $3,000 white gold and diamond earrings for around $100.

3. A Bridal Veil
There is something about seeing yourself in your veil that really hits home with most brides. For me, I always knew I was getting married-but when my stylist placed my veil in my hair, I looked like a bride. Yet, some modern brides are considering forgoing this tradition and are opting to walk down the aisle veil-less. If you are thinking about ditching the veil, then just remember … this is the only time in your life you’ll ever be able to wear a veil-and pull it off. And nothing can make you feel more like a bride than a soft, flowing veil.

4. New Lipstick
… or blush or eye shadow or even lip liner.

More and more brides are trying to save money by doing their own makeup-and I don’t blame them. I did my own makeup, as well. But having one new item that you purchased just for your wedding will freshen up your look and make you feel more beautiful. Consider purchasing a new lipstick, eye shadow, lip liner or even a new fragrance for your wedding day. Just be sure to give it a test run before the Big Day.

5. A Great Smile
I know you have a million and one things on your to-do list, but nothing enhances a bride’s look like a great smile. Start using Crest White Strips, or your favorite over-the-counter teeth whitener about a month before your Big Day. You’ll only need one-to-two weeks for the strips to work, then you’ll have a beautiful, gleaming smile for all your pre-wedding, wedding and honeymoon events!

What other accessories do you think every bride needs when she walks down the aisle?
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