Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bachelorette Party Buzz: Get Your Girls Talking!

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

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

1. Host Your Own Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Talk to Your Sister

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

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

Photo courtesy of eralon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. How do I ask guests to BYOB?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of
Auntie P

Thursday, August 20, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Mr. Brown and inju

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Three Mistakes Many Brides Make

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

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

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

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

It is Bridezilla.

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

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

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

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

I was one of them. Almost.

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

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

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

This is absolutely normal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of RockSee

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gift Registry 101, Part II: Gift Registry Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of lechampiondumonde, Carlo Nicora and Daveblog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gift Registry 101, Part I: Basic Etiquette

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

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

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

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

Was I wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

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

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

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

Email Calendar

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

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

Pen and paper

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

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

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

Here is how it works.

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Features:

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of Deannster

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mother of the Groom-This One’s for You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Deadly Knitshade and Ben McLeod