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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hot Honeymoon Destinations

For many brides, that first married-couple vacation can almost feel like an afterthought. And who can blame them? Since the day they said “yes,” they’ve been busy meeting with caterers, pouring over menu and wine selections and picking their wedding day buds-and unless their future “Mr’s” are helpful wedding or vacation planners, most of the burden may have fallen to the bride.

But don’t let it get you down and don’t forget to give your honeymoon the proper planning it deserves.

This Big Trip is the only honeymoon you and your sweetie will ever take, so even if you can’t afford that month-long African Safari you’ve always dreamed of, make your honeymoon trip a good one.

Need some inspiration? Here are five sizzling honeymoon destinations that are guaranteed to get your marriage off on the right foot.

1. Most Popular Overall

For years, these Pacific islands have taken first place in the honeymoon destination department for love and romance. And why shouldn’t they? With over 4,000 square miles of beaches, mountains, volcanoes and waterfalls, the Big Island in Hawaii is one of the few places on earth that offers something for everyone.

2. Most Popular Domestic

Las Vegas
If what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas, then why not join the hordes of other newlyweds who chose Sin City for their Honeymoon and make some sultry secrets of your own? Think about it-big city, bright lights, gambling, live shows and buffets … and really, nothing says "I love you" like the glitz and glimmer of the Las Vegas Strip.

3. Most Popular Caribbean

Puerto Rico
Looking for something a bit more exotic than Vegas, but closer to home than Hawaii? Then you, like thousands of other couples, should head down south to the white sandy shores of Puerto Rico.

Popular for honeymooners because of the dramatic cliffs and swooping coastlines, Puerto Rico's casinos, mild climate, natural attractions and vicinity to the US make it an affordable tropical honeymoon destination.

4. Most Popular European

No place on earth rivals the bel paese when it comes to love, history, art and romance and with 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its name-more than any other country in the world!-an Italian honeymoon guarantees to keep you busy.

The Big Three-Rome, Florence, Venice-continue to be popular with honeymooners, as does the Amalfi Coast, Siena and southern Italy.

5. Something Different

Alaskan Cruise
So what do you do if you and sweetie are none too thrilled with the idea of 10 days of beaches, sand and sunburns? Then cruise up north for a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the Alaskan wilderness. Cruise from one wild Alaskan point to another while watching the whales, ayak, hike or dog sled on your shore excursions or hop on a copter for an aerial view of the largest US state.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dry Tortugas, Florida, San Antonio, Texas, Montrose, Colorado and Intercourse, Pennsylvania are other interesting domestic destinations.

For a unique international honeymoon destination, consider Argentina, Belize, Turkey, Thailand, India or Morocco.

Have you selected your honeymoon destination yet? Where are you going?

Photos courtesy of Jeff Kubina and Paolo Margari

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Keeping the "WE" in Weddings: How to Deal With Four of the Biggest Pre-Wedding Arguments

Congratulations! You are engaged. You’ve met the man of your dreams and can spend the rest of your life in marital bliss … right?

Well, yes. And no.

As I’m sure your mother has told you, marriages take work. You have to listen, be compassionate and (gasp!) compromise. The same goes with your wedding.

It is possible you and your fiancé will be the one couple in 100,000,000 that doesn’t argue during the wedding planning process and if you are yet to tear into it over table linens or font choices, then kudos to you!

The Knot lists 10 of the biggest pre-wedding fights and gets insight from psychotherapist, Tina B. Tessina on how to avoid them. I’m going to choose four my favorites, summarize Tessina’s advice and add my own notes in parentheses.

1. Familial Issues
One of the main arguments newly engaged couples have is over his-or her-family, their ever-growing guest list and how much money they’re adding to the pile. Tessina believes this type of argument is “a prototype for future financial dealings” and suggests for couples to approach the issue as if it were a business dealing. (Smart woman, this Tina Tessina. However, this assumes you are “splitting” the guest list in threes (her family, his family, and the two of you ... and if you are, that’s awfully nice of you. But remember, it *is* your wedding and you and your fiancé have precedence. If you guys aren’t on the same page-get there, quickly and start practicing supporting each other through difficult decisions.)

2. Getting the Groom Going
I know, I know … your groom doesn’t give a rat’s rooter what color the tablecloths are or if you choose lilies or roses. I get it. Tessina advises brides to realize that men don’t normally care about things such as design and décor, and sadly, their wedding is no different. She suggests to find something they are interested in and try to get them involved in that. (IF you can. Most brides I know have tried this technique to no avail. My advice is to get over it. You know you wouldn’t be happy if he chose the invitations from the bottom of your list, anyway, so be glad you can do all of the planning and get him to help verify non-RSVPers or confirm vendors just before the Big Day.)

3. Busting Bridezilla

We’ve all known women who somehow take on a monstrous facade when they planned their wedding. They were horrible to deal with, had unrealistic expectations and were basically all-out witches. Witches. I said witches. Tessina says if you see yourself in this scenario, then “drop the Martha act.” (I say, if your fiancé thinks you are getting out of control, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Remember, your wedding is a special day-but it is just one day. You don’t want to cause conflicts that could leave a mark on your new marriage.)

4. Old Flames
So what would you do if your fiance wants to invite his ex to the wedding? Tessina tells brides to “grow up” already, because he already chose you and suggests for brides to reach out to the friend and try to get to know her. (I, personally, couldn’t disagree more. I don’t understand why either of you would insist on any guest being present that could potentially upset your wedding day. This isn’t a dinner party he wants to invite her to, it is your wedding and unless you and your fiance are both 100% ok with inviting exes, then save that invite for your great-great-grandmother. Or your dog groomer.)

What other pre-wedding fights do you think engaged couples encounter? Do you agree with Tessina’s assessments? Do you agree with mine? Please share your opinions!