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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • You take your hobby seriously. Your spouse shares your obsession. Lolling on the beach sounds boring, and you can’t imagine what could keep you busy for a week on a traditional cruise. Well, take heart: There are honeymoon options out there to fit both your personality and your passion, so you can both spend your time doing what you love best. Here are just a few of the possibilities:

    Baseball

    Following a spring wedding, what could be more fun for fans than a honeymoon full of baseball games? You could pick a location where spring training is in progress and hang out for a week, attending games, seeing the sights, and enjoying the weather. Or take the first steps toward a lifetime goal of attending a game in every Major League stadium. Granted, this can lead to a hectic schedule and a lot of traveling, but start with one area of the country and add more stadiums on future trips. Be sure to bring your camera to document your experience, and budget some extra cash for souvenirs (and peanuts and Cracker Jack!).

     

     

    Trains

    If riding the rails is a source of fascination for both you and your partner, consider a journey by train. The possibilities are almost endless, and you can enjoy luxurious surroundings almost anywhere in the world. Consider Rovos Rail in Africa, where you can book a luxury suite aboard the train; a Romance by Rail vacation on VIA Rail Canada, where the staff will even serve you breakfast in bed; the elegant Palace on Wheels train through Rajasthan, India; or take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight line from Los Angeles to Seattle for spectacular scenery. You can also take a series of shorter train rides, stopping off between routes to sightsee and wine and dine.

     

     

    Poker

    You’ve watched all those poker tournaments on TV and even joined in some hot games yourself. Now you and your partner can combine poker and traveling for an exciting honeymoon adventure you won’t soon forget. Poker cruises are all the rage right now, and most feature poker seminars, poker lessons, tournaments, and a separate poker room where you can play until dawn. Check out the World Poker Showdown for cruises and affordable poker in the Caribbean, or Card Player Cruises, which schedules poker cruises from Alaska to Southeast Asia. If you get tired of playing cards, disembark when the ship is docked and act like regular tourists!

     

     

    Ballroom Dancing

    If you’re not content to stop dancing after your first dance as man and wife, keep on dancing through the honeymoon! Options include programs such as Ballroom Vermont, where you stay at a lovely hotel and take ballroom dancing classes every day in foxtrot, waltz, swing, rumba, tango, and cha-cha. You can also get private lessons. Dance Camp Las Vegas is another possibility, where you’ll spend a week at a Vegas hotel and enjoy intensive dance instruction, plus a show with dance professionals and competitions. If you’d like to dance while afloat, investigate dance cruises, some of which have a particular focus such as swing or line dancing.

     

     

    Geocaching

    Surely you’ve heard of geocaching by now, and you may even be hard-core fans, so pack up your GPS system – and extra batteries – and head out for a geocaching honeymoon. You can pick one general location to geocache (San Francisco, for example) or try your treasure-hunting skills at several spots around the world. You can even geocache from a port where your cruise ship docks. Need details? See www.geocaching.com for instructions, clues, and upcoming worldwide geocaching events. For some heavy-duty caching, plan to attend GeoWoodstock, the once-a-year gathering that has become the world’s largest geocaching event. (This event is usually held in May, and the venue changes from year to year.)

     

     

    Culinary Arts

    We all like to eat, but what could be more romantic than a culinary honeymoon where you do the cooking? Contact a major cooking school in the United States or abroad, then sign up for a cooking class. For example, the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City offers three- to five-day classes in everything from pastry making to ethnic cuisine, and you can spend your time off seeing the city. Or book a reservation at a culinary resort such as the Inn at Essex in Vermont, home to the New England Culinary Institute. Luxury cooking vacations are also available, so you can learn to create the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, or Thailand by traveling there and sampling each city’s culture along with its food.

     

     

    Wine

    In most parts of the world, food and wine go naturally together, but if you are a connoisseur specifically interested in wine, there are plenty of honeymoon options available. Check online for a list of fabulous wine cruises around the world that include wine education, private winemaker dinners, wine tasting, and visits to top-rated portside wineries. Or plan your own trip to one of the world’s best-known wine regions: Napa and Sonoma, California (be sure to take a ride on the Napa Wine Train); Tuscany, Italy (time your visit around one of the local festivals); the Marlborough region of New Zealand (known especially for its Sauvignon Blanc); France (you can use Paris as your home base); Argentina (see the Mendoza Province wine country); or South Africa (plan to stop in Stellenbosch, Paarl, or Constantia).

     

     

     

     

    Birding

    If we don’t have to convince you that birding is a fabulous way to spend your time, then a birding honeymoon is for you. You can do it practically anywhere, so it’s easy to combine a birding trip with sightseeing and exploring the local cultural attractions. You can get an all-inclusive package to a foreign destination or sign on with a stateside birding tour group and add some more North American species to your life list. WINGS Birding Tours offers worldwide trips plus specialized excursions like the Birds and Music tour to Austria, the Birds and Shakespeare Festival tour to Oregon, the Birds and Art tour to Provence, and the Birds and Medieval Monasteries tour of Romania. Accommodations are not likely to be luxurious, but they’ll be comfortable and you’ll have a blast.

     

     

     

     

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    Your wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, but even with months of planning and the best intentions something may go wrong. (In fact, something probably will go wrong.)


    If you’re prepared for it, a small incident can be averted from being a huge disaster. Enlist the help of your bridesmaids and family members and pack a day of emergency kit to solve any pesky problems that could arise. 


    A wedding day kit may sound corny but even if you don’t use any item in it, you’ll feel comfortable knowing it’s there if you need it—and if you do need it, the kit could just become your best accessory.


    Be a Good Girl Scout


    One of the most important tips to remember is not to leave making the kit to the last minute. The few weeks before your wedding you’ll be busy putting together the big event, the emergency kit is something that can be done almost as soon as you start planning your wedding. None of the items expire or need to be refrigerated so it’s the perfect task to get done early and cross off the list.


    Before you start gathering supplies, think about what type of wedding your having: is it indoors or outdoors, large or small, formal or casual? This could determine what items you’ll have in your kit and how much of each item.


    Think of the Dress


    For most brides, the most expensive (and beautiful) aspect of your big day is probably your wedding dress. Be sure to include a needle and thread to match your dress, a lint brush, baby powder, a safety pin and fabric wipes or a piece of chalk in your emergency kit. These items are inexpensive to purchase and the perfect solution to a stain or rip in the dress.


    Think of your Health


    On the day of, the stress of it all may begin to take it’s toll. Recent bride Michelle Feduska says the stress of planning the wedding and the importance of the big day could make for an upset stomach or a headache. “Pack an antacid and aspirin in the bag just in case.”


    Think of your Hair


    Although most brides enlist the help of a hair stylist to create the perfect wedding day hair, unless you’ve paid the person to stay on for your reception you’ll need to make sure you have a brush, comb, bobby pins and hairspray for any touch-ups you’ll need throughout the night.


    Think of your Make-Up


    To keep your make-up perfectly intact, pack a straw to sip any pre-wedding beverages from and keep lipstick in place; tissues and eye drops to get rid of the aftermath any joyful tears; and a nail file for any pesky manicure issues.


    Think of the Extras


    Other easy to pack items include earring backs, band-aids (think blisters), breath mints and an extra pair of pantyhose. One of the most overlooked but essential pieces is a list of vendor phone numbers in the unusual case that the florist or officiant doesn’t show up.


    Don’t let packing your emergency kit stress you out over the problems that could arise on your wedding, revel in the fact that you’ll be prepared for anything and nothing can ruin your day!


     

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  • You've said ‘I do' and all your guests are waiting for the sweet and tender moment when the newlyweds share their first dance.  The song should fit the mood perfectly and must reflect your feelings for one another.  But there are thousands of great first dance songs - do you want a popular classic tune?  Do your future husband's two left feet require something simple and easy to dance to?


    Photo by Viera Photographics

    Most Popular Classics
    If you're not sure what to choose, consider choosing one of the most popular first dance songs - these classics have been favorites with new couples for decades so you can't go wrong!

    The Top 10 Classic First Dance Songs:

    Unforgettable by Nat King Cole The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley At Last by Etta James It had to be You by Harry Connick Jr. A Kiss is Just a Kiss by Michael Feinstein Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers A Whole New World by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

    Modern Favorites
    You may want to stick with a popular song for your first dance, but prefer something a little more modern.  A few choices include: 

    All my Life by K-Ci and JoJo Could not Ask for More by Edwin McCain It's Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill I Swear by All 4 One (also by John Montgomery) This I Swear by Nick Lachey

    Less Played First Dance Songs
    Maybe you're looking for something a little different for your first dance?  Love songs are everywhere - movies, musicals, or the radio are great sources of inspiration!  Or consider these less played, but still popular options:

    Songbird by Fleetwood Mac Beautiful by Gordon Lightfoot So This is Love by James Ingram Nothing's Gonna Change my Love for You by Glenn Medeiros Romeo & Juliet Love Theme composed by Tchaikovsky

    Something Different, Something New
    Not every couple fits the traditional, classic bride and groom mold.  There's nothing wrong with straying from the norm and being a bit original in the selection of your first dance song!  I would suggest any of these contemporary and often overlooked, tunes:

    Too Good to be True by Lauryn Hill - a soulful remake of a Frankie Valli classic. Luna by The Smashing Pumpkins I Will Always Love You by The Cure Forever in my Life by Prince

    The first dance the two of you share as husband and wife is a very special moment and quite endearing to your guests as well.  Take the time to really think about the song you will use before the wedding and talk about it with your fiancé.  Whether you choose something different or decide to stick with tradition and sway to a popular first dance song, be sure to practice before the rehearsal or even squeeze in a few dance lessons!

     

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    The colors you choose for your big day reflect your personality and style. You can create a sophisticated environment or a whimsical escape. Colors can influence moods and exude sensuality, coziness, earthiness and youthfulness. With tasteful variations from vibrant to pastel and shimmery to matte, your wedding day colors speak volumes about you and what you hold dear. Whether you choose your favorite colors for your wedding or select hues to complement the current season, we have compiled a list of some wedding color choices and what they say about you.

    Black: A conservative choice, black complements almost any color, especially lighter hues. Dignified and mysterious, black denotes sexiness and sophistication with a modern twist. Black is classic, never trendy, alluding to a modern bride. As an opulent choice, black is timelessly elegant. 


    Photo by OKRFOTO
     

    White: Symbolic of purity and innocence, white has strong connotations of youth and perfection. White aficionados seek excellence and enlightenment, as simplicity and recognition are constant ventures. White is a glorious hue (or lack thereof) that denotes a clean palette or fresh start for those who seek serenity and peace.

     
    Photo by Geoff White Photographers

     

    Red: A passionate, romantic choice, red is impulsive and outgoing. Depicted as zealous and ambitious, red symbolizes love and rage. Whether it denotes joy, celebration, happiness or prosperity, red elicits a dramatic response from both sides of the emotional spectrum. Red lovers tend to be restless and optimistic and go along with people with uncomplicated natures. A powerful selection, red is sure to represent a fiery hostess with 'look at me' flair.

     
    Photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

     

    Pink: A softer, girlish choice, pink is the sweeter side of red. A delicate hue, pink represents a sensitive heart that is affectionate and nurturing. The bride surrounded with pink has a maternal grace and compassion and a desire for protection or shelter. The rosy hue fan may also have a strong personality, but one that is willing to share.

     

     

     
    Photo: NBarrett Photography, Stationery: Southern Fried Paper

     

    Orange: Spontaneous and daring, brides who choose orange are bold. Because orange is a happy and trendy hue, orange enthusiasts tend to be popular, have excessive energy and are part of a large social circle. From a bright and happy backdrop to an exotic, spicy richness, brides who prefer orange tend to be fearless and curious, with a zest for life.


    Photo by Delbarr Moradi, Floral Design by Crimson Horticulture Rarities

    Yellow: The color of a sunny day, yellow denotes happiness and hope. Exuding warmth and vitality and usually possessing a great sense of humor, people who love yellow have cheerful spirits and optimistic values. You tend to look forward to the future and are intellectual, creative and idealistic. Yellow represents enlightenment and spirituality, lending itself as a great color on your day of matrimony.


    Photo by Pat Dy Photography

    Green: Green shades symbolize life, freshness, nature and fertility. A common choice for eco-friendly brides, green shows that you value your health and the environment. A harmonized and balanced color, green is a mixture of warm yellow and cool blue, just like its admirers. A calming and tranquil hue, brides who select green are affectionate, frank and responsible. You seek stability and balance, yet remain fiercely principled and refined.


    Photo by Fresh In Love Photography

    Blue: Soothing, compassionate and cool, blue is the color of tranquility and royalty. Blue belles are deliberate, introspective, conservative and patient, tending to be sensitive and wise. Serene and cool, blue denotes cautious partners who are faithful but require a calm and harmonious existence. From watery aqua to a deep shade of midnight, blue can be soft and sweet or strong and bold.


    Photo by Jemma Keech

    Purple: Often associated with both royalty and luxury, purple is a passionate color. Choosing purple symbolizes dignity, tolerance and value. Violet lovers tend to be unconventional and observant, with a multifaceted personality. Tolerant and witty, purple devotees are likely to achieve authoritative positions. From light lavender and lilac buffs, who tend to be charming, witty and cultured, to deep eggplant lovers, who are creative and talented, purple can be provocative or sweet.


    Photos by Orange Turtle Photography

    Brown: A natural, neutral color of the earth, brown represents wholesomeness and dependability. Symbolizing comfort and contentment, brown represents honesty. Just right for your wedding day, brown is substantial, steady and responsible. From rich chocolate and dark coffee to cream and soft beige, this earthy shade can be intense or pale, dramatic or modest. 


    Photo by Siegel Thurston

    The aforementioned color synopses are not strict rules or character definitions, but rather are designed as an indicator of what is important to you. Whether you select a spicy orange to match the falling autumn leaves or a peony pink simply because it is your favorite color, choose what looks and feels good to you. Your natural selection is indicative of your true self and innate style.

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  • You’re getting married and your ultimate goal is to make your wedding day 100% perfect. The last thing you want is for your friends and family to have a terrible time and spend the next 50 years whispering about the things that should have been done differently.

     


    Photo by Angelica Glass

     

    Most people have attended at least one wedding that was really bad. By knowing the common complaints, you can ensure that your wedding is a beautiful experience for you and your guests.

     

    1. Not Knowing Where to Go

    One of the most common complaints of wedding guests is being unsure of where to go or what to do. This is usually accompanied by awkward moments of looking right and left, hoping that someone will step in and direct them to the correct area. To avoid this problem, enlist help by designating someone as the “point person.”

     

    Have your point person greet guests and let them know where to go or what’s happening next. This way, your guests will not be left wondering where they should sit and what they should do.

     

    2. Left without a Ride

    For guests in the wedding, a common complaint is being left without a ride. Many brides and grooms arrange transportation from the hotel to the wedding, but they neglect to provide transportation from the reception back to the hotel. If you can arrange transportation, do so. If not, make sure that there is a way for your wedding guests to call a cab, catch a bus or find some other way to leave the reception.

     

    If necessary, print up cards with phone numbers or other important information. You certainly don’t want to leave your guests wondering how in the world they will make it back to the hotel or home.

     

    3. The Speech That Never Ends

    Speeches can be charming, witty, funny and enjoyable for the wedding guests to hear, but they can also be way too long, boring and conducive to fits of dozing. Make sure that your speech conveys the emotions you’re feeling, but keep it as short and sweet as possible. A good speech should only last a few minutes and should be refreshing for guests to hear.

     

    Gently pass this information to all those giving speeches at your wedding. While you may appreciate the Maid of Honor’s 15-minute trip down memory lane, your guests probably won’t.

     

    4. A Table of Strangers

    Most wedding planners, brides-to-be or maids of honor decide which guests should sit at which tables. This part of the planning is very important because guests will feel uncomfortable at a table with people they don’t know. Imagine sitting at a table where everyone knows everyone else – except for you. Or worse, imagine if no one knows anyone else at their table!

     

    Make sure to plan the seats wisely so that everyone can converse and have a great time at the reception. You should make sure that everyone will know at least one other person at their table well enough to feel comfortable chatting with him or her. This will keep your guests happy and will be one more step toward the perfect wedding!

     

    5. Time Between the Wedding and Reception

    While the bride and groom are extremely busy trying to get their things together, their affairs in order and everything else, they probably aren’t thinking too much about the time between the wedding and the reception. The guests, however, will have to find a way to kill that time, and if it’s a long time, they may be stuck twiddling their thumbs.

     

    An hour or two is about the perfect amount of time between the wedding and reception. If you must, have a few helpers who can help you get everything together so that you can be on your way sooner. If you’re unable to hold the events within an hour or two of each other, try to make other accommodations for your guests.

     

    Can your reception hall or location be opened for waiting guests? Can you have a light snack prepared for those guests who will be waiting? By making sure that your guests are occupied, entertained and taken care of, you will be ensuring that they have a great time at your wedding!

     

    While it’s really difficult to make sure that every single detail is perfect, you can take care of the most common wedding guest complaints. If the major things are under control, things will flow much more easily on your wedding day, and it will be remembered for its beauty and joy rather than for the things that went wrong!

     

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  • Sparkling champagne, laughter, smiles, and well wishes from your family and friends make your wedding reception perfect.  Wedding toasts and speeches are an important part of your special day and often become some of your most cherished wedding memories.  Whether you want to stick with tradition or plan to personalize your wedding toasts, your bridal party will appreciate your guidance when it comes to timing, participants, and speech guidelines.

    Wedding Receptions: A Toast to Tradition

    According to tradition, the best man is ultimately responsible for the wedding reception toasts.  He, your dad, and your new husband are the primary speakers and the best man is in charge of getting things started.  You and your groom-to-be should decide when you would like the toasting to begin and then discuss it with the best man.  During the reception, he will tap his glass and stand before giving his speech and toasting you and your new spouse. 


    Photo by Jerry Yoon Photography

     

    Your new husband is typically next in line, thanking his best man and your parents as well as the guests.  Your dad should traditionally respond by also thanking the guests and proposing a toast to his new son-in-law, wishing you both happiness throughout your life together.  Other guests may offer their own wishes after your father speaks. 

    Wedding Reception Toasts: A Contemporary Approach

    You don't have to follow the traditional sequence of wedding toasts!  It's not at all uncommon for the maid of honor to speak after the best man makes his toast or for you to make a toast after your new husband.  Some couples decide to have an emcee oversee the toasting events and others choose to start things with a welcome toast from the hosts, whether that's the newlywed couple or the bride's parents.  I've even been to a few weddings that completely skipped the tradition of toasting. 

    Toasting Tips

    Give some advance notice to your parents and bridal party if you would like them to prepare toasts.  It's okay to suggest a few guidelines, like asking speakers to keep their toasts within 3 minutes or to remind them to avoid off-color jokes for the sake of children attending the reception.  Champagne is not a necessity.  Serving champagne can be a real budget-buster - especially for large events.  Instead of opting for a cheap selection, substitute with an elegant wine or a sparkling champagne punch.

    Remember that not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of others.  The best advice for delivering a wedding reception toast is to be yourself, speak slowly, and keep it simple!

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  • No doubt that in planning your wedding, you’ve spent a bundle on a sumptuous feast, a great band, and the honeymoon of your dreams. And though you want your wedding photos to look like those in magazines, you’re probably also looking for ways to save money without sacrificing good taste (and without anyone noticing). Is that even possible? Absolutely! Spend your money where it counts most (like on your gown!). The savings will come in handy when you put together your own simple yet elegant centerpieces.

     

    The best centerpieces are those that draw the eye to the beauty of the entire table. When arranging your table displays, remember that size matters! Your centerpiece shouldn’t be too obvious or overpower the place settings. Think of it as putting together an outfit. For the best results, everything on your table should complement everything else. (Tip: Decorate using an odd number of items.)

     


    Photo by Melissa Copeland Photography, Flowers by J. Sims Floral Design

     

    Here are some great ideas for glamorous, low-cost table decorations. Before making your decision, consider the style of your reception, the time of day or night, the season, and the mood you wish to set.

     

    Theme Wedding

    If your wedding has a theme, it can be lots of fun to use items associated with it for your centerpiece. For example, if you are getting married at the beach, you can fill a big, round fishbowl halfway with sand and beautiful shells. If your reception is close to the winter holidays, you may like a big, white bowl filled with silver and/or gold ornaments. And if your wedding is on New Year’s Eve, a container of sparkly wands, pinwheels, noisemakers, and festive blowouts will allow your guests to ring in your new life and the New Year when the time is right!

     

    Sentimental Savvy

    For a personal touch (and to make your folks cry), think nostalgia! Choose two medium-sized silver or gold picture frames for each table. Put a picture of you when you were a child in one and a picture of your new husband as a child in the other. Next, set up the frames facing away from one another, and then behind the frames and around the bottom, place greens, sparkly garlands, loose ribbon, or a topiary to hide the backs of the frames and to complete this sweet ensemble. You may also arrange 3-5 frames in a cluster and then fill them with your favorite family photos. This will encourage your guests to mingle as they walk around to view all the pictures!

     

    Edible Centerpieces

    Here’s a choice that will also tease your guests and make them drool! Fill a clear decanter with assorted candies or chocolates wrapped in silver or gold (or your favorite colored) paper. As the night progresses, your guests will enjoy the design and can snack on this centerpiece as temptation becomes too much to bear!

     

    Another new choice in centerpieces is cupcakes! Simply use a small cake tier, place it in the center of the table, and fill each level with cupcakes topped with your choice of white or colored frosting and sprinkled with sparkling sugar. Maybe the baker in your family will offer to make them as a wedding gift to you. This simple and delicious idea will be a big hit with your guests. I mean, who doesn’t like cupcakes?!

     

    The Natural Look

    In keeping with a more natural or “green” scheme, wildflowers are a great choice. Simply gather bunches of dried flowers and various stems and leaves, and then hang them over the edges of wide baskets or arrange them in odd-shaped jars, old water pitchers, or kettles. To add some shimmer, try spraying silver or gold spray paint on some of the branches or leaves (or pinecones, if in season).

     

    Citrus is also a nice organic choice. Just fill a large, clear bowl with one type of fruit (usually lemons, limes, or oranges) and coordinate your place cards, china, or glassware in the same color as your fruit selection. To add a little more detail to this clever choice, wrap each lemon, lime, or orange with the same color ribbon, tying a small, tight bow on each.

     

    You can also arrange a single fruit choice in tall, square, or cylindrical clear glass vases. For an extra boost, insert some long-stemmed greens or flowers in the center.

     

    Another way of displaying your fruit choice is by slicing it up!  Fill tall, clear vases with lots of quarter-inch slices of lemons or limes, add water, and you’re done! This look can be changed up by using shorter vases and topping off each with a fresh flower. This option not only looks sophisticated, but it gives off a great aroma!

     

    Fresh-Cut Flowers

    Although a little more expensive, the simplest and most elegant décor usually involves fresh-cut flowers. The best thing about flowers is that there are so many types, sizes, and colors, and there are just as many ways to display your favorite ones. For example, you may choose yellow roses for your spring wedding, lilies for a black-and-white evening affair, or daisies for a relaxed afternoon soiree.

     

    A single red rose standing alone in a tall, clear vase surrounded by a handful of rose petals around the base is the statement of the uncomplicated and sophisticated bride. Change the rose to a gardenia for a less formal look, or replace the vases with old, water-filled champagne bottles to add antique charm.

     

    For a more creative and romantic look, circle 5-10 flowered teacups and saucers in the center of your table. Then fill each teacup with water and add your choice of flower to sit on top. In the center of the grouping, simply add a small vase full of the same flower, and fin! A great way to get your family more involved (if you dare) is to ask aunts, cousins, and grandparents to lend you their china teacups. The variety of patterns will provide much to talk about!  

     

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  • The wedding cake may be the star of your reception, but it shouldn't cost more than your honeymoon!  When you're figuring cake costs into your budget, don't forget extra charges such as delivery, setup, and cutting fees.  Cake cutting fees are one of the most commonly overlooked expenses in wedding planning - be prepared and don't let these hidden fees break your piggy bank!


    Photo by JC Page Photography

    What are Cake Cutting Costs?

    Unless you're ordering your wedding cake as part of your catering or venue package, you'll probably be assessed an additional cake cutting fee based on the number of guests attending your event.  Caterers and reception halls typically charge these fees to cover the costs of plates and flatware, but the costs can sometimes be a bit ridiculous - I've seen a few locations charge as much as $3 per slice. 

    Tips for Reducing or Avoiding Cake Cutting Fees

    Even at a cost of $1 per guest, that's an extra $200 for an attendance of 200 loved ones!  That can make a big difference in your wedding budget.  Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to negotiate a decreased rate or eliminate the cost of cutting the cake completely.

    Perhaps the most obvious way to avoid a cake cutting charge is to order the cake from your caterer or reception venue's baker.  Carefully compare the cost, the options, and the quality of the cake before going this route. Wedding cupcakes are becoming a popular option for serving guests.  Some caterers still charge an extra fee for cupcakes, but you can usually discuss it and bypass or reduce the costs. Negotiate and be persistent.  You're already paying a pretty penny for your reception - don't be afraid to ask your caterer for a discount or discuss other upgrades you could make to avoid a cutting charge.  

    Don't let the cost of cutting your cake detract from the rest of your wedding.  Be firm when you speak with your caterer and don't give up too easily.  Some vendors will waive the fee if you agree to pass along their name to your bride-to-be friends; others will gladly negotiate the price to keep your business.  Look into cake cutting costs at your venue early so you can make necessary adjustments if needed. 

     

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  • A post-wedding brunch is a delightful way to get family and good friends together, and to provide a warm send-off for the bride and groom, who may be honeymoon-bound later in the day. Brunch is usually held the morning after the wedding, and it tends to be an intimate affair, often including only family members, the wedding party, and out-of-town guests who are especially close to the bride and groom. Guests can mingle in a more relaxed atmosphere than the wedding day provides, renewing old friendships and touching base with people they don’t often see.

     


    Photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

     

    Here are a few ideas and tips for hosting the perfect post-wedding brunch:

     

    Who pays?

    One of the first things to do is to decide who will assume the cost for the brunch. There are no formal rules about this, but usually the bride or groom’s family pays. Or, the brunch can be hosted by a good friend or family member.

     

    Tip: If you find that your wedding budget just won’t stretch for another get-together, you can invite guests to a “no-host” brunch in a restaurant where you’ve reserved space for everyone to eat together.

     

    Choosing a Location

    If your out-of-town guests are all booked at the same hotel, consider using it as the location for the brunch. Not only will it be convenient for all involved, but the facility may offer special wedding packages that will save you money. You might also get a price break if you have the brunch where you held your reception the night before. A local café or restaurant is a good location for a brunch, or if you are expecting a relatively small group of people, a friend or relative may wish to host the brunch at home.

     

    Tip: If you use the hotel where guests are staying, be sure to consider the hotel’s check-out time and make sure it fits with the brunch schedule.

     

    Picking a Time

    What you serve at the brunch will be largely determined by the time it is held. A brunch held earlier in the day (say around 10 a.m.) will feature mostly breakfast foods, whereas one held closer to the noon hour can include lunch items such as salads, sandwiches, meats, fish, and cheeses.

     

    Tip: While you may want to allow guests to sleep in and not have brunch too early, also keep in mind that many of them will have to be at the airport a few hours ahead of their scheduled flight, so plan accordingly.

     

    Selecting a Menu

    For a morning brunch, plan to have plenty of coffee, tea, and juice on hand. Food can include eggs (an omelet bar is always a hit), muffins, bagels, scones, pastries, crepes, fresh fruit, quiche, and a breakfast meat such as ham, bacon, or sausage. Additional menu items to consider are breakfast potatoes, French toast, or waffles with a variety of syrups. Expand the menu to include lunch items as suggested above if your brunch is scheduled later in the day.

     

    Tip: Although alcohol is not requisite at a brunch, you can kick the meal off with bloody Marys, mimosas, or a champagne toast if you want to.

     

    Inviting your Guests

    A verbal invitation is certainly appropriate, but including a brunch invitation with your wedding invitation – and asking for an RSVP – will ensure that you have an accurate count of guests who will attend. If the brunch is going to be informal, include a notation in the invitation so guests will know what to wear.

     

    Tip: It has been said that you can’t always count on guests who partied hard the night before showing up for a meal in the morning, so you may wish to take this into consideration!

     

    Don’t be Extravagant

    If possible, keep it simple and reuse the flowers or centerpieces from the wedding. Have soft music playing in the background. Feel free to use good-quality plastic plates and cups instead of china. If your brunch is in a restaurant or is catered, you won’t have much to do for set-up or clean-up, which will be very convenient when everyone heads out in a different direction afterwards.

     

    Tip: Have someone take photos at the wedding and put them on a CD, or make a CD of photos that chronicle your relationship. Play it (without sound) for the guests to watch at the brunch.

     

    Mingle!

    The post-wedding brunch is the time to mingle with family and friends who you may not have had time to talk to the day before. Be sure that you and your spouse speak to everyone who attends, giving special attention to people who may have come from out of town.

     

    Tip: Don’t forget your camera. Your wedding photographer may not have taken photos of you with all of your dear friends, so the brunch is a perfect time to be sure you have captured those memories.

     

     

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  • You and your betrothed should have already discussed your wedding vows and decided to use prewritten vows or to write your own.  Time is counting down and the big day is approaching fast - it's time to make your final arrangements and decisions about the vows so get together with the groom-to-be and discuss it over lunch - and don't forget your laptop.

    Choosing the Right Words

    If you're using traditional vows, decide on the version you both prefer or select a standard format that you both can personalize.  If you've decided to write your own, are you each writing separately or will you write them together?  If you still haven't finished writing or personalizing your vows, set a deadline for the very near future and stick to it.

    Wedding Vows Checklist

    Be sure you and your future husband have your vows ready by the agreed date.  Print out copies and ask your maid of honor and best man to read over them for mistakes.  Unless the vows are a surprise for the ceremony, read what your groom has written and hand him a copy of your vows.

    Make any necessary changes and print out your final copy.  Give one to the wedding officiant, one to your maid of honor or best man, tuck a copy into your wedding day bag, and keep a copy for practicing.

     

     

    Practice, practice, and practice some more.  Read your vows aloud, say them in front of a mirror, and recite them with your future husband.  The more you practice, the easier it will be on your special day.

    Read, Recite, or Repeat

    Most traditional wedding vows are either answered with a simple, ‘I do,' or the bride and groom repeat the vows to one another after the officiant reads them.  A lot of couples prefer to say or repeat the vows as they look into one another's eyes - it seems to have a lot more meaning than just ‘I do'. 

    If you've written your own vows, you still have a few different options when it comes time to make your promises.

    Memorization. Reciting your vows from memory is usually the ideal method, but not always the most realistic. Nervousness, emotions, and anxiousness can all make it easy to forget - you may want a cheat sheet just in case! Notes. It's okay to make yourself a few notes for your wedding vows. Keep it brief, on a small index card, and only glance at it as needed. Remember to keep eye contact with your new spouse, not your notes. Repeat it. You can also provide your officiant with a copy of the vows to read so you and your spouse can repeat them. This saves you from forgetting what to say and also allows you to concentrate on the meaning of the words you're promising rather than remembering their order.

     

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  • You take your hobby seriously. Your spouse shares your obsession. Lolling on the beach sounds boring, and you can’t imagine what could keep you busy for a week on a traditional cruise. Well, take heart: There are honeymoon options out there to fit both your personality and your passion, so you can both spend your time doing what you love best. Here are just a few of the possibilities:

    Baseball

    Following a spring wedding, what could be more fun for fans than a honeymoon full of baseball games? You could pick a location where spring training is in progress and hang out for a week, attending games, seeing the sights, and enjoying the weather. Or take the first steps toward a lifetime goal of attending a game in every Major League stadium. Granted, this can lead to a hectic schedule and a lot of traveling, but start with one area of the country and add more stadiums on future trips. Be sure to bring your camera to document your experience, and budget some extra cash for souvenirs (and peanuts and Cracker Jack!).

     

     

    Trains

    If riding the rails is a source of fascination for both you and your partner, consider a journey by train. The possibilities are almost endless, and you can enjoy luxurious surroundings almost anywhere in the world. Consider Rovos Rail in Africa, where you can book a luxury suite aboard the train; a Romance by Rail vacation on VIA Rail Canada, where the staff will even serve you breakfast in bed; the elegant Palace on Wheels train through Rajasthan, India; or take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight line from Los Angeles to Seattle for spectacular scenery. You can also take a series of shorter train rides, stopping off between routes to sightsee and wine and dine.

     

     

    Poker

    You’ve watched all those poker tournaments on TV and even joined in some hot games yourself. Now you and your partner can combine poker and traveling for an exciting honeymoon adventure you won’t soon forget. Poker cruises are all the rage right now, and most feature poker seminars, poker lessons, tournaments, and a separate poker room where you can play until dawn. Check out the World Poker Showdown for cruises and affordable poker in the Caribbean, or Card Player Cruises, which schedules poker cruises from Alaska to Southeast Asia. If you get tired of playing cards, disembark when the ship is docked and act like regular tourists!

     

     

    Ballroom Dancing

    If you’re not content to stop dancing after your first dance as man and wife, keep on dancing through the honeymoon! Options include programs such as Ballroom Vermont, where you stay at a lovely hotel and take ballroom dancing classes every day in foxtrot, waltz, swing, rumba, tango, and cha-cha. You can also get private lessons. Dance Camp Las Vegas is another possibility, where you’ll spend a week at a Vegas hotel and enjoy intensive dance instruction, plus a show with dance professionals and competitions. If you’d like to dance while afloat, investigate dance cruises, some of which have a particular focus such as swing or line dancing.

     

     

    Geocaching

    Surely you’ve heard of geocaching by now, and you may even be hard-core fans, so pack up your GPS system – and extra batteries – and head out for a geocaching honeymoon. You can pick one general location to geocache (San Francisco, for example) or try your treasure-hunting skills at several spots around the world. You can even geocache from a port where your cruise ship docks. Need details? See www.geocaching.com for instructions, clues, and upcoming worldwide geocaching events. For some heavy-duty caching, plan to attend GeoWoodstock, the once-a-year gathering that has become the world’s largest geocaching event. (This event is usually held in May, and the venue changes from year to year.)

     

     

    Culinary Arts

    We all like to eat, but what could be more romantic than a culinary honeymoon where you do the cooking? Contact a major cooking school in the United States or abroad, then sign up for a cooking class. For example, the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City offers three- to five-day classes in everything from pastry making to ethnic cuisine, and you can spend your time off seeing the city. Or book a reservation at a culinary resort such as the Inn at Essex in Vermont, home to the New England Culinary Institute. Luxury cooking vacations are also available, so you can learn to create the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, or Thailand by traveling there and sampling each city’s culture along with its food.

     

     

    Wine

    In most parts of the world, food and wine go naturally together, but if you are a connoisseur specifically interested in wine, there are plenty of honeymoon options available. Check online for a list of fabulous wine cruises around the world that include wine education, private winemaker dinners, wine tasting, and visits to top-rated portside wineries. Or plan your own trip to one of the world’s best-known wine regions: Napa and Sonoma, California (be sure to take a ride on the Napa Wine Train); Tuscany, Italy (time your visit around one of the local festivals); the Marlborough region of New Zealand (known especially for its Sauvignon Blanc); France (you can use Paris as your home base); Argentina (see the Mendoza Province wine country); or South Africa (plan to stop in Stellenbosch, Paarl, or Constantia).

     

     

     

     

    Birding

    If we don’t have to convince you that birding is a fabulous way to spend your time, then a birding honeymoon is for you. You can do it practically anywhere, so it’s easy to combine a birding trip with sightseeing and exploring the local cultural attractions. You can get an all-inclusive package to a foreign destination or sign on with a stateside birding tour group and add some more North American species to your life list. WINGS Birding Tours offers worldwide trips plus specialized excursions like the Birds and Music tour to Austria, the Birds and Shakespeare Festival tour to Oregon, the Birds and Art tour to Provence, and the Birds and Medieval Monasteries tour of Romania. Accommodations are not likely to be luxurious, but they’ll be comfortable and you’ll have a blast.

     

     

     

     

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    Your wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, but even with months of planning and the best intentions something may go wrong. (In fact, something probably will go wrong.)


    If you’re prepared for it, a small incident can be averted from being a huge disaster. Enlist the help of your bridesmaids and family members and pack a day of emergency kit to solve any pesky problems that could arise. 


    A wedding day kit may sound corny but even if you don’t use any item in it, you’ll feel comfortable knowing it’s there if you need it—and if you do need it, the kit could just become your best accessory.


    Be a Good Girl Scout


    One of the most important tips to remember is not to leave making the kit to the last minute. The few weeks before your wedding you’ll be busy putting together the big event, the emergency kit is something that can be done almost as soon as you start planning your wedding. None of the items expire or need to be refrigerated so it’s the perfect task to get done early and cross off the list.


    Before you start gathering supplies, think about what type of wedding your having: is it indoors or outdoors, large or small, formal or casual? This could determine what items you’ll have in your kit and how much of each item.


    Think of the Dress


    For most brides, the most expensive (and beautiful) aspect of your big day is probably your wedding dress. Be sure to include a needle and thread to match your dress, a lint brush, baby powder, a safety pin and fabric wipes or a piece of chalk in your emergency kit. These items are inexpensive to purchase and the perfect solution to a stain or rip in the dress.


    Think of your Health


    On the day of, the stress of it all may begin to take it’s toll. Recent bride Michelle Feduska says the stress of planning the wedding and the importance of the big day could make for an upset stomach or a headache. “Pack an antacid and aspirin in the bag just in case.”


    Think of your Hair


    Although most brides enlist the help of a hair stylist to create the perfect wedding day hair, unless you’ve paid the person to stay on for your reception you’ll need to make sure you have a brush, comb, bobby pins and hairspray for any touch-ups you’ll need throughout the night.


    Think of your Make-Up


    To keep your make-up perfectly intact, pack a straw to sip any pre-wedding beverages from and keep lipstick in place; tissues and eye drops to get rid of the aftermath any joyful tears; and a nail file for any pesky manicure issues.


    Think of the Extras


    Other easy to pack items include earring backs, band-aids (think blisters), breath mints and an extra pair of pantyhose. One of the most overlooked but essential pieces is a list of vendor phone numbers in the unusual case that the florist or officiant doesn’t show up.


    Don’t let packing your emergency kit stress you out over the problems that could arise on your wedding, revel in the fact that you’ll be prepared for anything and nothing can ruin your day!


     

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  • You've said ‘I do' and all your guests are waiting for the sweet and tender moment when the newlyweds share their first dance.  The song should fit the mood perfectly and must reflect your feelings for one another.  But there are thousands of great first dance songs - do you want a popular classic tune?  Do your future husband's two left feet require something simple and easy to dance to?


    Photo by Viera Photographics

    Most Popular Classics
    If you're not sure what to choose, consider choosing one of the most popular first dance songs - these classics have been favorites with new couples for decades so you can't go wrong!

    The Top 10 Classic First Dance Songs:

    Unforgettable by Nat King Cole The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley At Last by Etta James It had to be You by Harry Connick Jr. A Kiss is Just a Kiss by Michael Feinstein Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers A Whole New World by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

    Modern Favorites
    You may want to stick with a popular song for your first dance, but prefer something a little more modern.  A few choices include: 

    All my Life by K-Ci and JoJo Could not Ask for More by Edwin McCain It's Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill I Swear by All 4 One (also by John Montgomery) This I Swear by Nick Lachey

    Less Played First Dance Songs
    Maybe you're looking for something a little different for your first dance?  Love songs are everywhere - movies, musicals, or the radio are great sources of inspiration!  Or consider these less played, but still popular options:

    Songbird by Fleetwood Mac Beautiful by Gordon Lightfoot So This is Love by James Ingram Nothing's Gonna Change my Love for You by Glenn Medeiros Romeo & Juliet Love Theme composed by Tchaikovsky

    Something Different, Something New
    Not every couple fits the traditional, classic bride and groom mold.  There's nothing wrong with straying from the norm and being a bit original in the selection of your first dance song!  I would suggest any of these contemporary and often overlooked, tunes:

    Too Good to be True by Lauryn Hill - a soulful remake of a Frankie Valli classic. Luna by The Smashing Pumpkins I Will Always Love You by The Cure Forever in my Life by Prince

    The first dance the two of you share as husband and wife is a very special moment and quite endearing to your guests as well.  Take the time to really think about the song you will use before the wedding and talk about it with your fiancé.  Whether you choose something different or decide to stick with tradition and sway to a popular first dance song, be sure to practice before the rehearsal or even squeeze in a few dance lessons!

     

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  •  

    The colors you choose for your big day reflect your personality and style. You can create a sophisticated environment or a whimsical escape. Colors can influence moods and exude sensuality, coziness, earthiness and youthfulness. With tasteful variations from vibrant to pastel and shimmery to matte, your wedding day colors speak volumes about you and what you hold dear. Whether you choose your favorite colors for your wedding or select hues to complement the current season, we have compiled a list of some wedding color choices and what they say about you.

    Black: A conservative choice, black complements almost any color, especially lighter hues. Dignified and mysterious, black denotes sexiness and sophistication with a modern twist. Black is classic, never trendy, alluding to a modern bride. As an opulent choice, black is timelessly elegant. 


    Photo by OKRFOTO
     

    White: Symbolic of purity and innocence, white has strong connotations of youth and perfection. White aficionados seek excellence and enlightenment, as simplicity and recognition are constant ventures. White is a glorious hue (or lack thereof) that denotes a clean palette or fresh start for those who seek serenity and peace.

     
    Photo by Geoff White Photographers

     

    Red: A passionate, romantic choice, red is impulsive and outgoing. Depicted as zealous and ambitious, red symbolizes love and rage. Whether it denotes joy, celebration, happiness or prosperity, red elicits a dramatic response from both sides of the emotional spectrum. Red lovers tend to be restless and optimistic and go along with people with uncomplicated natures. A powerful selection, red is sure to represent a fiery hostess with 'look at me' flair.

     
    Photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

     

    Pink: A softer, girlish choice, pink is the sweeter side of red. A delicate hue, pink represents a sensitive heart that is affectionate and nurturing. The bride surrounded with pink has a maternal grace and compassion and a desire for protection or shelter. The rosy hue fan may also have a strong personality, but one that is willing to share.

     

     

     
    Photo: NBarrett Photography, Stationery: Southern Fried Paper

     

    Orange: Spontaneous and daring, brides who choose orange are bold. Because orange is a happy and trendy hue, orange enthusiasts tend to be popular, have excessive energy and are part of a large social circle. From a bright and happy backdrop to an exotic, spicy richness, brides who prefer orange tend to be fearless and curious, with a zest for life.


    Photo by Delbarr Moradi, Floral Design by Crimson Horticulture Rarities

    Yellow: The color of a sunny day, yellow denotes happiness and hope. Exuding warmth and vitality and usually possessing a great sense of humor, people who love yellow have cheerful spirits and optimistic values. You tend to look forward to the future and are intellectual, creative and idealistic. Yellow represents enlightenment and spirituality, lending itself as a great color on your day of matrimony.


    Photo by Pat Dy Photography

    Green: Green shades symbolize life, freshness, nature and fertility. A common choice for eco-friendly brides, green shows that you value your health and the environment. A harmonized and balanced color, green is a mixture of warm yellow and cool blue, just like its admirers. A calming and tranquil hue, brides who select green are affectionate, frank and responsible. You seek stability and balance, yet remain fiercely principled and refined.


    Photo by Fresh In Love Photography

    Blue: Soothing, compassionate and cool, blue is the color of tranquility and royalty. Blue belles are deliberate, introspective, conservative and patient, tending to be sensitive and wise. Serene and cool, blue denotes cautious partners who are faithful but require a calm and harmonious existence. From watery aqua to a deep shade of midnight, blue can be soft and sweet or strong and bold.


    Photo by Jemma Keech

    Purple: Often associated with both royalty and luxury, purple is a passionate color. Choosing purple symbolizes dignity, tolerance and value. Violet lovers tend to be unconventional and observant, with a multifaceted personality. Tolerant and witty, purple devotees are likely to achieve authoritative positions. From light lavender and lilac buffs, who tend to be charming, witty and cultured, to deep eggplant lovers, who are creative and talented, purple can be provocative or sweet.


    Photos by Orange Turtle Photography

    Brown: A natural, neutral color of the earth, brown represents wholesomeness and dependability. Symbolizing comfort and contentment, brown represents honesty. Just right for your wedding day, brown is substantial, steady and responsible. From rich chocolate and dark coffee to cream and soft beige, this earthy shade can be intense or pale, dramatic or modest. 


    Photo by Siegel Thurston

    The aforementioned color synopses are not strict rules or character definitions, but rather are designed as an indicator of what is important to you. Whether you select a spicy orange to match the falling autumn leaves or a peony pink simply because it is your favorite color, choose what looks and feels good to you. Your natural selection is indicative of your true self and innate style.

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  • You’re getting married and your ultimate goal is to make your wedding day 100% perfect. The last thing you want is for your friends and family to have a terrible time and spend the next 50 years whispering about the things that should have been done differently.

     


    Photo by Angelica Glass

     

    Most people have attended at least one wedding that was really bad. By knowing the common complaints, you can ensure that your wedding is a beautiful experience for you and your guests.

     

    1. Not Knowing Where to Go

    One of the most common complaints of wedding guests is being unsure of where to go or what to do. This is usually accompanied by awkward moments of looking right and left, hoping that someone will step in and direct them to the correct area. To avoid this problem, enlist help by designating someone as the “point person.”

     

    Have your point person greet guests and let them know where to go or what’s happening next. This way, your guests will not be left wondering where they should sit and what they should do.

     

    2. Left without a Ride

    For guests in the wedding, a common complaint is being left without a ride. Many brides and grooms arrange transportation from the hotel to the wedding, but they neglect to provide transportation from the reception back to the hotel. If you can arrange transportation, do so. If not, make sure that there is a way for your wedding guests to call a cab, catch a bus or find some other way to leave the reception.

     

    If necessary, print up cards with phone numbers or other important information. You certainly don’t want to leave your guests wondering how in the world they will make it back to the hotel or home.

     

    3. The Speech That Never Ends

    Speeches can be charming, witty, funny and enjoyable for the wedding guests to hear, but they can also be way too long, boring and conducive to fits of dozing. Make sure that your speech conveys the emotions you’re feeling, but keep it as short and sweet as possible. A good speech should only last a few minutes and should be refreshing for guests to hear.

     

    Gently pass this information to all those giving speeches at your wedding. While you may appreciate the Maid of Honor’s 15-minute trip down memory lane, your guests probably won’t.

     

    4. A Table of Strangers

    Most wedding planners, brides-to-be or maids of honor decide which guests should sit at which tables. This part of the planning is very important because guests will feel uncomfortable at a table with people they don’t know. Imagine sitting at a table where everyone knows everyone else – except for you. Or worse, imagine if no one knows anyone else at their table!

     

    Make sure to plan the seats wisely so that everyone can converse and have a great time at the reception. You should make sure that everyone will know at least one other person at their table well enough to feel comfortable chatting with him or her. This will keep your guests happy and will be one more step toward the perfect wedding!

     

    5. Time Between the Wedding and Reception

    While the bride and groom are extremely busy trying to get their things together, their affairs in order and everything else, they probably aren’t thinking too much about the time between the wedding and the reception. The guests, however, will have to find a way to kill that time, and if it’s a long time, they may be stuck twiddling their thumbs.

     

    An hour or two is about the perfect amount of time between the wedding and reception. If you must, have a few helpers who can help you get everything together so that you can be on your way sooner. If you’re unable to hold the events within an hour or two of each other, try to make other accommodations for your guests.

     

    Can your reception hall or location be opened for waiting guests? Can you have a light snack prepared for those guests who will be waiting? By making sure that your guests are occupied, entertained and taken care of, you will be ensuring that they have a great time at your wedding!

     

    While it’s really difficult to make sure that every single detail is perfect, you can take care of the most common wedding guest complaints. If the major things are under control, things will flow much more easily on your wedding day, and it will be remembered for its beauty and joy rather than for the things that went wrong!

     

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  • Sparkling champagne, laughter, smiles, and well wishes from your family and friends make your wedding reception perfect.  Wedding toasts and speeches are an important part of your special day and often become some of your most cherished wedding memories.  Whether you want to stick with tradition or plan to personalize your wedding toasts, your bridal party will appreciate your guidance when it comes to timing, participants, and speech guidelines.

    Wedding Receptions: A Toast to Tradition

    According to tradition, the best man is ultimately responsible for the wedding reception toasts.  He, your dad, and your new husband are the primary speakers and the best man is in charge of getting things started.  You and your groom-to-be should decide when you would like the toasting to begin and then discuss it with the best man.  During the reception, he will tap his glass and stand before giving his speech and toasting you and your new spouse. 


    Photo by Jerry Yoon Photography

     

    Your new husband is typically next in line, thanking his best man and your parents as well as the guests.  Your dad should traditionally respond by also thanking the guests and proposing a toast to his new son-in-law, wishing you both happiness throughout your life together.  Other guests may offer their own wishes after your father speaks. 

    Wedding Reception Toasts: A Contemporary Approach

    You don't have to follow the traditional sequence of wedding toasts!  It's not at all uncommon for the maid of honor to speak after the best man makes his toast or for you to make a toast after your new husband.  Some couples decide to have an emcee oversee the toasting events and others choose to start things with a welcome toast from the hosts, whether that's the newlywed couple or the bride's parents.  I've even been to a few weddings that completely skipped the tradition of toasting. 

    Toasting Tips

    Give some advance notice to your parents and bridal party if you would like them to prepare toasts.  It's okay to suggest a few guidelines, like asking speakers to keep their toasts within 3 minutes or to remind them to avoid off-color jokes for the sake of children attending the reception.  Champagne is not a necessity.  Serving champagne can be a real budget-buster - especially for large events.  Instead of opting for a cheap selection, substitute with an elegant wine or a sparkling champagne punch.

    Remember that not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of others.  The best advice for delivering a wedding reception toast is to be yourself, speak slowly, and keep it simple!

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  • No doubt that in planning your wedding, you’ve spent a bundle on a sumptuous feast, a great band, and the honeymoon of your dreams. And though you want your wedding photos to look like those in magazines, you’re probably also looking for ways to save money without sacrificing good taste (and without anyone noticing). Is that even possible? Absolutely! Spend your money where it counts most (like on your gown!). The savings will come in handy when you put together your own simple yet elegant centerpieces.

     

    The best centerpieces are those that draw the eye to the beauty of the entire table. When arranging your table displays, remember that size matters! Your centerpiece shouldn’t be too obvious or overpower the place settings. Think of it as putting together an outfit. For the best results, everything on your table should complement everything else. (Tip: Decorate using an odd number of items.)

     


    Photo by Melissa Copeland Photography, Flowers by J. Sims Floral Design

     

    Here are some great ideas for glamorous, low-cost table decorations. Before making your decision, consider the style of your reception, the time of day or night, the season, and the mood you wish to set.

     

    Theme Wedding

    If your wedding has a theme, it can be lots of fun to use items associated with it for your centerpiece. For example, if you are getting married at the beach, you can fill a big, round fishbowl halfway with sand and beautiful shells. If your reception is close to the winter holidays, you may like a big, white bowl filled with silver and/or gold ornaments. And if your wedding is on New Year’s Eve, a container of sparkly wands, pinwheels, noisemakers, and festive blowouts will allow your guests to ring in your new life and the New Year when the time is right!

     

    Sentimental Savvy

    For a personal touch (and to make your folks cry), think nostalgia! Choose two medium-sized silver or gold picture frames for each table. Put a picture of you when you were a child in one and a picture of your new husband as a child in the other. Next, set up the frames facing away from one another, and then behind the frames and around the bottom, place greens, sparkly garlands, loose ribbon, or a topiary to hide the backs of the frames and to complete this sweet ensemble. You may also arrange 3-5 frames in a cluster and then fill them with your favorite family photos. This will encourage your guests to mingle as they walk around to view all the pictures!

     

    Edible Centerpieces

    Here’s a choice that will also tease your guests and make them drool! Fill a clear decanter with assorted candies or chocolates wrapped in silver or gold (or your favorite colored) paper. As the night progresses, your guests will enjoy the design and can snack on this centerpiece as temptation becomes too much to bear!

     

    Another new choice in centerpieces is cupcakes! Simply use a small cake tier, place it in the center of the table, and fill each level with cupcakes topped with your choice of white or colored frosting and sprinkled with sparkling sugar. Maybe the baker in your family will offer to make them as a wedding gift to you. This simple and delicious idea will be a big hit with your guests. I mean, who doesn’t like cupcakes?!

     

    The Natural Look

    In keeping with a more natural or “green” scheme, wildflowers are a great choice. Simply gather bunches of dried flowers and various stems and leaves, and then hang them over the edges of wide baskets or arrange them in odd-shaped jars, old water pitchers, or kettles. To add some shimmer, try spraying silver or gold spray paint on some of the branches or leaves (or pinecones, if in season).

     

    Citrus is also a nice organic choice. Just fill a large, clear bowl with one type of fruit (usually lemons, limes, or oranges) and coordinate your place cards, china, or glassware in the same color as your fruit selection. To add a little more detail to this clever choice, wrap each lemon, lime, or orange with the same color ribbon, tying a small, tight bow on each.

     

    You can also arrange a single fruit choice in tall, square, or cylindrical clear glass vases. For an extra boost, insert some long-stemmed greens or flowers in the center.

     

    Another way of displaying your fruit choice is by slicing it up!  Fill tall, clear vases with lots of quarter-inch slices of lemons or limes, add water, and you’re done! This look can be changed up by using shorter vases and topping off each with a fresh flower. This option not only looks sophisticated, but it gives off a great aroma!

     

    Fresh-Cut Flowers

    Although a little more expensive, the simplest and most elegant décor usually involves fresh-cut flowers. The best thing about flowers is that there are so many types, sizes, and colors, and there are just as many ways to display your favorite ones. For example, you may choose yellow roses for your spring wedding, lilies for a black-and-white evening affair, or daisies for a relaxed afternoon soiree.

     

    A single red rose standing alone in a tall, clear vase surrounded by a handful of rose petals around the base is the statement of the uncomplicated and sophisticated bride. Change the rose to a gardenia for a less formal look, or replace the vases with old, water-filled champagne bottles to add antique charm.

     

    For a more creative and romantic look, circle 5-10 flowered teacups and saucers in the center of your table. Then fill each teacup with water and add your choice of flower to sit on top. In the center of the grouping, simply add a small vase full of the same flower, and fin! A great way to get your family more involved (if you dare) is to ask aunts, cousins, and grandparents to lend you their china teacups. The variety of patterns will provide much to talk about!  

     

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  • The wedding cake may be the star of your reception, but it shouldn't cost more than your honeymoon!  When you're figuring cake costs into your budget, don't forget extra charges such as delivery, setup, and cutting fees.  Cake cutting fees are one of the most commonly overlooked expenses in wedding planning - be prepared and don't let these hidden fees break your piggy bank!


    Photo by JC Page Photography

    What are Cake Cutting Costs?

    Unless you're ordering your wedding cake as part of your catering or venue package, you'll probably be assessed an additional cake cutting fee based on the number of guests attending your event.  Caterers and reception halls typically charge these fees to cover the costs of plates and flatware, but the costs can sometimes be a bit ridiculous - I've seen a few locations charge as much as $3 per slice. 

    Tips for Reducing or Avoiding Cake Cutting Fees

    Even at a cost of $1 per guest, that's an extra $200 for an attendance of 200 loved ones!  That can make a big difference in your wedding budget.  Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to negotiate a decreased rate or eliminate the cost of cutting the cake completely.

    Perhaps the most obvious way to avoid a cake cutting charge is to order the cake from your caterer or reception venue's baker.  Carefully compare the cost, the options, and the quality of the cake before going this route. Wedding cupcakes are becoming a popular option for serving guests.  Some caterers still charge an extra fee for cupcakes, but you can usually discuss it and bypass or reduce the costs. Negotiate and be persistent.  You're already paying a pretty penny for your reception - don't be afraid to ask your caterer for a discount or discuss other upgrades you could make to avoid a cutting charge.  

    Don't let the cost of cutting your cake detract from the rest of your wedding.  Be firm when you speak with your caterer and don't give up too easily.  Some vendors will waive the fee if you agree to pass along their name to your bride-to-be friends; others will gladly negotiate the price to keep your business.  Look into cake cutting costs at your venue early so you can make necessary adjustments if needed. 

     

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  • A post-wedding brunch is a delightful way to get family and good friends together, and to provide a warm send-off for the bride and groom, who may be honeymoon-bound later in the day. Brunch is usually held the morning after the wedding, and it tends to be an intimate affair, often including only family members, the wedding party, and out-of-town guests who are especially close to the bride and groom. Guests can mingle in a more relaxed atmosphere than the wedding day provides, renewing old friendships and touching base with people they don’t often see.

     


    Photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

     

    Here are a few ideas and tips for hosting the perfect post-wedding brunch:

     

    Who pays?

    One of the first things to do is to decide who will assume the cost for the brunch. There are no formal rules about this, but usually the bride or groom’s family pays. Or, the brunch can be hosted by a good friend or family member.

     

    Tip: If you find that your wedding budget just won’t stretch for another get-together, you can invite guests to a “no-host” brunch in a restaurant where you’ve reserved space for everyone to eat together.

     

    Choosing a Location

    If your out-of-town guests are all booked at the same hotel, consider using it as the location for the brunch. Not only will it be convenient for all involved, but the facility may offer special wedding packages that will save you money. You might also get a price break if you have the brunch where you held your reception the night before. A local café or restaurant is a good location for a brunch, or if you are expecting a relatively small group of people, a friend or relative may wish to host the brunch at home.

     

    Tip: If you use the hotel where guests are staying, be sure to consider the hotel’s check-out time and make sure it fits with the brunch schedule.

     

    Picking a Time

    What you serve at the brunch will be largely determined by the time it is held. A brunch held earlier in the day (say around 10 a.m.) will feature mostly breakfast foods, whereas one held closer to the noon hour can include lunch items such as salads, sandwiches, meats, fish, and cheeses.

     

    Tip: While you may want to allow guests to sleep in and not have brunch too early, also keep in mind that many of them will have to be at the airport a few hours ahead of their scheduled flight, so plan accordingly.

     

    Selecting a Menu

    For a morning brunch, plan to have plenty of coffee, tea, and juice on hand. Food can include eggs (an omelet bar is always a hit), muffins, bagels, scones, pastries, crepes, fresh fruit, quiche, and a breakfast meat such as ham, bacon, or sausage. Additional menu items to consider are breakfast potatoes, French toast, or waffles with a variety of syrups. Expand the menu to include lunch items as suggested above if your brunch is scheduled later in the day.

     

    Tip: Although alcohol is not requisite at a brunch, you can kick the meal off with bloody Marys, mimosas, or a champagne toast if you want to.

     

    Inviting your Guests

    A verbal invitation is certainly appropriate, but including a brunch invitation with your wedding invitation – and asking for an RSVP – will ensure that you have an accurate count of guests who will attend. If the brunch is going to be informal, include a notation in the invitation so guests will know what to wear.

     

    Tip: It has been said that you can’t always count on guests who partied hard the night before showing up for a meal in the morning, so you may wish to take this into consideration!

     

    Don’t be Extravagant

    If possible, keep it simple and reuse the flowers or centerpieces from the wedding. Have soft music playing in the background. Feel free to use good-quality plastic plates and cups instead of china. If your brunch is in a restaurant or is catered, you won’t have much to do for set-up or clean-up, which will be very convenient when everyone heads out in a different direction afterwards.

     

    Tip: Have someone take photos at the wedding and put them on a CD, or make a CD of photos that chronicle your relationship. Play it (without sound) for the guests to watch at the brunch.

     

    Mingle!

    The post-wedding brunch is the time to mingle with family and friends who you may not have had time to talk to the day before. Be sure that you and your spouse speak to everyone who attends, giving special attention to people who may have come from out of town.

     

    Tip: Don’t forget your camera. Your wedding photographer may not have taken photos of you with all of your dear friends, so the brunch is a perfect time to be sure you have captured those memories.

     

     

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  • You and your betrothed should have already discussed your wedding vows and decided to use prewritten vows or to write your own.  Time is counting down and the big day is approaching fast - it's time to make your final arrangements and decisions about the vows so get together with the groom-to-be and discuss it over lunch - and don't forget your laptop.

    Choosing the Right Words

    If you're using traditional vows, decide on the version you both prefer or select a standard format that you both can personalize.  If you've decided to write your own, are you each writing separately or will you write them together?  If you still haven't finished writing or personalizing your vows, set a deadline for the very near future and stick to it.

    Wedding Vows Checklist

    Be sure you and your future husband have your vows ready by the agreed date.  Print out copies and ask your maid of honor and best man to read over them for mistakes.  Unless the vows are a surprise for the ceremony, read what your groom has written and hand him a copy of your vows.

    Make any necessary changes and print out your final copy.  Give one to the wedding officiant, one to your maid of honor or best man, tuck a copy into your wedding day bag, and keep a copy for practicing.

     

     

    Practice, practice, and practice some more.  Read your vows aloud, say them in front of a mirror, and recite them with your future husband.  The more you practice, the easier it will be on your special day.

    Read, Recite, or Repeat

    Most traditional wedding vows are either answered with a simple, ‘I do,' or the bride and groom repeat the vows to one another after the officiant reads them.  A lot of couples prefer to say or repeat the vows as they look into one another's eyes - it seems to have a lot more meaning than just ‘I do'. 

    If you've written your own vows, you still have a few different options when it comes time to make your promises.

    Memorization. Reciting your vows from memory is usually the ideal method, but not always the most realistic. Nervousness, emotions, and anxiousness can all make it easy to forget - you may want a cheat sheet just in case! Notes. It's okay to make yourself a few notes for your wedding vows. Keep it brief, on a small index card, and only glance at it as needed. Remember to keep eye contact with your new spouse, not your notes. Repeat it. You can also provide your officiant with a copy of the vows to read so you and your spouse can repeat them. This saves you from forgetting what to say and also allows you to concentrate on the meaning of the words you're promising rather than remembering their order.

     

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