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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:
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.
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.
You've finally decided on your dress, the colors are finalized, and the bridesmaids' gowns are at last agreed upon - if you haven't already, it's time to order the tuxedo for your groom. You don't want to wait until too close to the wedding to make arrangements for the male side of the bridal party, especially if you have a large party or have set your date for summer like many other couples.
Photo by Melvin Gilbert Photography, Groom's Attire by Friar Tux
Choosing a Tuxedo Store
Compare prices and general availability at several tuxedo stores in your area. Ask if there are any discounts available - many offer a free rental for the groom with 3 or 4 other rentals and some will include shoe rental with the tux for no additional charge. If you have out-of-town attendants that will be arriving just before the ceremony, you'll need to choose a store with locations that are convenient to them as well.
Who Should Wear a Tux and Who Should Pay?
Outfitting the groom's side of the bridal party has traditionally been an expense covered by the groom's family. Most of the time, the groomsmen and fathers will pay for their own rentals although the groom usually takes care of the best man's tux and everyone's shoes if they're not included.
Of course, your husband-to-be will need his tuxedo, and so will the best man and the ring bearer. Unless the wedding is a casual affair, the groomsmen and the father-of-the-bride typically wear tuxedos too. Your fiancé's dad isn't required to wear a tux but I would recommend giving it careful consideration if you're planning family photographs that include both fathers.
A Few More TipsSchedule a fitting now and decide on a tuxedo style. Arrange for other members to be fitted and send out measurement cards if needed. Be prepared to pay a deposit when the order is finalized. Everyone should pick up their rental at least 2 or 3 days before the wedding. Remind each one to try their tuxedo on before leaving the store to catch any last minute alterations. The tuxedos usually need to be returned the following day. The best man will generally return your new husband's rental while you're enjoying your honeymoon.
As you prepare for one of the most beautiful days of your life, you will probably want to honor some very important wedding traditions. Most couples look forward to the vows, the first dance and other exciting traditions. However, many people believe that some wedding traditions are completely outdated and restricting. Check out these 10 wedding traditions that you can definitely do without.
Photo by Unique Design Studios
1. The White Dress
In the past, when a woman wore a white wedding dress, it was a symbol of the innocence and purity of the bride-to-be. It was an honor and a bit of a ‘must’ for the woman to be virginal on her wedding. These days, women are free to be however they’d like to be before their weddings and no one is going to challenge the purity of the bride-to-be.
If you want to wear a lavender wedding dress, a sage-green wedding dress or a rainbow colored wedding dress – feel free! Many women love the idea of a white wedding dress and that’s alright too, but don’t let the tradition bind you.
2. The Bride’s Family Foots the Bills
This is a very traditional idea and many times, the bride’s parents want to pay for the wedding. It’s a charming idea, but many say it’s not so practical these days. The tradition of the bride’s parents paying for the wedding came from the days when dowries were offered to the groom-to-be. The lucky guy would receive farm animals, money or other gifts in exchange for marrying the woman. The parents typically put on as grand a celebration as they could to back up the dowry.
In this modern age, the gift that grooms receive is the hand of their women! Another important point to remember is that usually, the person who pays for the wedding controls what sort of wedding takes place. There are many other options when it comes to the wedding bills – the bride and groom can pay for the wedding themselves, the bride and groom’s families can share the expenses or other arrangements can be made.
3. The Dollar Dance
While many families enjoy this tradition at weddings, others feel that it’s a bit tacky. The dollar dance has many variations, but typically, the wedding guests will hand out dollars or money to dance with the bride and groom. If you feel uncomfortable asking your guests to pay in order to dance with you, leave this tradition in the past! A nice variation includes having the guests write their blessings or wishes for the couple on small pieces of paper and giving those to the bride and groom!
4. Throwing Rice
There is a bit of controversy about throwing rice as the bride and groom leave the wedding location. Some people believe it is harmful to birds while others disagree – however, to avoid controversy (and a mess) altogether, you can simply do away with this tradition. Instead, have the guests toss rose petals or birdseed as you make your way toward your new life with the one you love!
5. The Garter Removal and Throw
This is the part where the men at the wedding line up to watch the groom remove his new bride’s garter and toss it to them. Of course, this is still a favorite for some individuals, but for others, it’s a bit outdated. This originates from centuries ago when people considered it lucky to have a bit of the bride’s attire. Unfortunately for the brides of those days, they often found their dress ripped to shreds! These days, it’s entirely up to the bride and groom to follow this tradition or toss it!
6. Something Old; Something New…
Something borrowed; something blue. While this is a cute tradition that has turned into something of a superstition for new brides and grooms, there is no rule which says it must be included. If you don’t like the idea of this tradition, feel free to scratch it from your ceremony!
7. The Traditional Vows
“For rich or for poor; in sickness and in health…” These vows are still fairly popular with couples today, however many are writing their own vows or having them written. It’s a great personal touch to write your own vows and to read something which truly comes from the heart rather than reciting the same promises that millions of other individuals have promised their new spouses. If you don’t like the idea of regurgitating the same old vows at your wedding, get rid of the tradition and write your own!
8. “Obey Who?”
While this is just a small aspect of the wedding ceremony, many individuals have already gotten rid of this tradition. Even though these days most people understand that everyone is free, some people don’t like the idea of promising to obey their new spouses. If this idea doesn’t sit well with you either, there is no reason for doing it! Say things that you mean and that you feel comfortable with.
9. The Father Gives Away His Daughter
Although this is a very special moment for some brides-to-be, others don’t like the thought of being ‘given away,’ as if they were property. In fact, this antiquated tradition started in the days when girls had no choice who they were given to in marriage. These days, many women are perfectly happy celebrating their wedding day with their parents – and leaving out the ‘giving away’ aspect of the father and daughter walk.
10. A Sixpence in Your Shoe
A superstitious tradition, the sixpence was placed in the bride-to-be’s left shoe by her father to bring prosperity and fortune to the marriage. While it’s a harmless tradition, most individuals understand that the prosperity will come through the couples’ hard work rather than a lucky coin placed in a shoe. If you’re not fond of this tradition, you can definitely do without it.
There is something ritualistic about many traditions that take place at weddings. For many, without these traditions, the wedding is lacking. However, for many others, these traditions are outdated and unnecessary. It’s your big day and rather than including traditions you think are old, tacky or silly – why not create brand new traditions and make your wedding just the way you want it?
Oh no! Did he really say his bachelor party?!
You're not alone when those 2 simple words immediately conjure up images of your drunken fiancé surrounded by scantily clad women. Most brides-to-be would rather plan 100 weddings than deal with their fiancé's bachelor party. Calm down and give your beloved a little credit - you are marrying the guy, so you must trust him. Bachelor parties are not always as bad as the horror stories you've heard.
Communication Goes a Long Way
Instead of running to the best man and demanding for the party to be called off, sit down with your fiancé and talk about your feelings, your fears, and your concerns. If the thought of your husband-to-be watching a roomful of dancing girls the night before your wedding night makes you feel a bit betrayed - let him know. Ask him what the plans are for the night and discuss some limits that would make you feel more comfortable. The bachelor party may be nothing more than a few guys, a couple kegs, and some action movies rather than girls and crowded bars.
Overcoming the Bachelor Party
If you're still not comfortable with the idea of a bachelor party, there are a few alternative options that will keep everyone happy.
Simultaneous parties. Weekend bridal party getaways are becoming quite popular with modern couples. Plan a bachelor and bachelorette weekend at a favorite destination. Schedule individual activities for the girls and the guys, as well as events for the entire group.
Groom's day out. An afternoon ball game, a day of paint ball, or a weekend fishing trip all sound more acceptable than a traditional bachelor party and most grooms prefer these tamer gatherings.
Jack and Jill. Skip the bachelor and bachelorette parties and opt for a fun couple's party with your closest friends. Dinner cruises, lake parties, and casinos make ideal locations or you could plan a simple barbecue.
You shouldn't have to drive yourself crazy trying to deal with the thought of your fiancé at a bachelor party. If it truly bothers you, discuss an alternative with your future husband and he will more than likely respect your wishes. If the bachelor party must go on - remember that they're usually not as bad as what you've seen on TV, then call up your bridesmaids for a girls' night out!
While securing snapshots for the wedding ceremony and reception rank high on a bride's "to-do" list, the business of choosing a wedding photographer for engagement photos is sometimes overlooked. However, this can become the perfect chance to select a professional that could wind up taking some of the most important pictures in your life – your wedding photos.
Photos by Amber Gress Photography
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I say, take advantage of this opportunity to see if this potential wedding photographer can fulfill your needs. If it turns out to be a success and he or she produces glowing engagement photos, then one of the hardest wedding planning tasks to complete is out of the way.
Engagement photos mark a rather special occasion in the lives of an engaged couple, as they serve as a symbol of the commitment to spend the rest of their lives together. While some settle down for a simple snapshot, others take professional portraits that become cherished keepsakes. Engagement photos are also used for newspaper announcements that alert the public that you and your sweetheart are officially no longer on the market.
So, in order to rate the photographer taking your engagement photos, it is important to pay attention to his or her skill, style, capabilities, as well as how comfortable they make you feel. At the end of the session, ask yourself the following questions:
Did the photographer offer wardrobe changes, various backdrops and location choices, and perhaps a couple of props? Did they explain the difference between a professional portrait and a candid shot?
Photograph by Kurt Boomer Photo
When taking your engagement photos, were you encouraged to explore different kinds of poses, such as:
• Facing the camera with hands clasped
• The groom-to-be on bended knee
• The groom slipping the ring onto your finger
• Playful hug
• A kiss on the forehead
Was the photographer able to capture both of your personalities in your engagement photos? Does the final product represent you – as an individual and as part of a couple all at the same time?
Do your engagement photos express the happiness, excitement, joy, love, and compassion felt? Is there a twinkle in your eye? Does the expression on your faces spell out 'romance?'
Did the photographer offer a discount on your engagement photos or vice versa if you decided to choose them for your wedding?
You've probably already heard that the average cost of a wedding in the US is nearly $29,000. You also know that 80% of couples end up over budget when the wedding date finally arrives, sometimes doubling the limits they set for themselves. I don't know about you, but those statistics made me really nervous while I planned my big day!
Before you start selling advertising spots on your ceremony programs, turn to other happy couples for some inspiration. These real wedding budgets will help you sort out your own expenses and give you new ideas of ways to save without sacrificing.
The Shoestring Budget
Stacie and James, both avid nature lovers, wanted a big wedding but had a very small budget. With just $4000 to spend, the newlyweds pulled off a beautiful outdoor event for 200 guests.Ceremony/reception site: Local state park campground; 4 sites reserved for event - $350 Food/Caterer: Cheese and fruit trays; chocolate fountain; lemonade; cupcakes - $1200 Bridal gown/alterations: $450 Bridal accessories: Mother's veil with new netting; borrowed sister's shoes; undergarments - $50 Groom's attire: $50 Stationary/postage: online discount supplier - $350 Photography: Digital, delivered on CD - $600 Videography: Taped by friend - $0 Ceremony/reception music: Gift from co-worker with DJ experience - $0 Flowers: $250 Favors: Natural bird seed in tulle with ribbons (DIY) - $70 Cake: $300 Officiant: Ordained relative - $0 Hair/makeup: Gift from stylist friend - $0 Wedding party gifts: $150 Misc.: Decorations, linens, etc. - $100
Total Cost: $3920
An Average Budget
Tracy and John wanted a traditional wedding with all the essentials. They planned to spend the national average, budgeting $25,000 for their ceremony and reception with 225 guests.Ceremony site: Traditional church ceremony at family church - $0 Reception site: Lakeside ballroom with open air patio - $700 Food/Caterer: Sit-down meal, including appetizer; open bar; 225 guests with taxes/gratuities - $13,500 Bridal gown/alterations: Designer gown found for discount online - $600 Bridal accessories: $350 Groom's attire: $200 Stationery/postage: $950 Photography: Prints, album, 6 hours- $2600 Videography: Gift from relative - $0 Ceremony music: Pianist, singer, string trio - $1000 Reception music: DJ - $900 Flowers: $1050 Favors: $325 Cake: 3-tier, traditional white - $500 Officiant: $0 (donation made to church) Hair/makeup: $125 Wedding party gifts: $600 Transportation: $600 Hotels: Out of town attendants - $800 Misc.: Decorations, bathroom baskets, programs - $800
Total Cost: $25,600
As you weigh the pros and cons of what type of wedding ceremony to pursue for your nuptials, don't forget to include the cultural, religious, and financial aspects that could make or break your final decision. For instance, will you have enough time to plan the wedding of your dreams or will outside factors force you to speed up the process? Will conflicting religions make your wedding ceremony difficult to please family and friends? What personal preferences will influence the planning of your wedding ceremony?
Photo by Sequins and Candy
With that being said, let's explore some of the most common types of wedding ceremonies, listed below:
One of the most common ways that couples choose to exchange vows is within a church or other religious gathering place that involves a priest, minister, or rabbi.
2) Civil Union
This type of wedding ceremony takes place outside of a church, where an appointed person of the State conducts your marriage, such as a Justice of the Peace, judge, or a hired 'Marriage Commissionaire.' Contrary to popular belief, this type of wedding ceremony is not always a small affair or confined to a courtroom. Some civil wedding ceremonies are large and formal, as well as held both indoors and outside.
All images by Todd Rafalovich
Couples who are in the military or have previously served may be entitled to a full military wedding ceremony, which often takes place within a military chapel. Proper uniforms are worn – dark in the wintertime and white in the summer. Other features of this kind of wedding ceremony include carrying a sword or walking through an "arch of swords."
Some brides choose to blend various features of both a religious and non-traditional wedding ceremony. Often times, a blending of cultures takes place. Perhaps, the setting for the wedding ceremony is out-of-the-ordinary, like a beach or international landmark.
5) Very Formal
This type of wedding ceremony is usually held in a church, temple, synagogue, country club, or ritzy hotel. Guest lists oftentimes reach around 200 or so family and friends. Between four to 12 groomsmen and bridesmaids are called upon to lend a hand with an assortment of flower girls and ring bearers. Additional features include elaborate décor, limousine transport, and elegant gowns.
When planning your wedding ceremony, there are a lot of other options to consider. Don't forget the semi-formal approach. An informal wedding gives room for leniency. Perhaps you'd like to share the celebration with your best friend or sister and plan a double wedding ceremony, which also helps to cut costs. Candlelight ceremonies are perfect for the holidays, while a more laidback ceremony can take place in the great outdoors, beautiful garden, or right in your own (or parent's) backyard.
Your RSVPs are starting to trickle in. Now it's time to start working on your seating chart - but where do you begin? You'll need a few sheets of paper, a good idea of the table arrangements in your reception hall, and your guest list to get started. Keep in mind, your top priority is to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible and to avoid any potential disasters.
Photo: Monika Greenaway Photography
Do You Need a Seating Chart?
Unless you're planning an intimate wedding, a seating chart is a good idea to avoid confusion and to keep things running smoothly. An informal buffet-style reception is often manageable without seating assignments as well, as long as your guest list isn't too large. In most situations, however, a seating chart and place cards are expected.
Traditionally, the bridal table sits at the front of the reception hall facing the guests. You and your new husband take the seats of honor in the center, while the best man sits beside you and the maid of honor beside your groom. Continue to alternate between bridesmaids and groomsmen to fill the table.
The table closest to the bridal table is typically reserved for both sets of parents, the clergyman and spouse, and other close friends or relatives. Tables are usually seated alternating males and females with couples sitting across from each other at long tables or beside one another when the table is circular.
Remember, these are just traditions, not rules that must be followed. Some couples swap the traditional bridal table for a romantic table for two, while others include the maid of honor and best man's dates, parents, or even officiates and seat the rest of the bridal party with the other guests.
The Most Common Seating MistakesDon't sit some parents at the bridal table unless you can seat them all - including stepparents. Do assign guests to tables where they know someone, but Don't seat all of your guests with only people they've met before. Do pay a responsible preteen guest to ‘baby-sit' if you designate a children's table. Don't try to play matchmaker with your single guests. Do consider your guests personalities and interests while assigning tables.
There's really no right or wrong when it comes to seating arrangements as long as your guests are happy. Keep these tips in mind to avoid problems:
Once you have a rough draft of your seating chart, you can put it away until more RSVPs arrive. Enlist the help of your fiancé or future mother-in-law to assign the best tables to guests you haven't met.
Planning and executing your walk down the aisle (right down to the reception tablecloths, flower bouquet, and the limo ride to the church) require a carefully sorted wedding budget that allocates enough money for you to complete all the tasks that go into creating an unforgettable celebration. While the goal for engaged couples is to stick to the confines of an approved wedding budget and avoid debt, let's face it – this is pretty hard to accomplish. The best you can hope for is leaving a little breathing room for your wedding budget and maximizing every dollar you plan to spend.
Calculating Your Wedding Budget
One of the most dreaded parts of planning nuptials is sitting down to discuss and calculate the wedding budget. Prepare for making a lot of compromises and sacrifices. Relax and keep in mind that you can still pull off a wedding in style without digging a deep hole with credit card companies and taxing your life savings. However, don’t put off calculating your wedding budget, as it is important for you to know where to save much-needed bucks and when to spare no expense. This is your chance to make the smart decisions that will prevent mounting bills in the future.
Tips on calculating a wedding budget include:
1) Separate your future wedding expenses into specific categories, such as food, reception, ceremony, transportation, flowers, entertainment, wedding attendants, and so forth.
2) Jot down on a piece of paper all of the major and minor details that go into creating a wedding budget. Use your categories to brainstorm. Don’t forget items like reception centerpieces, postage for wedding invitations, hair and makeup, and obtaining a marriage license. A wedding planning book will certainly help remind you of any overlooked details.
3) Enlist the help of married friends who have already gone through the process of creating a wedding budget. Ask for tips and pointers, as well as whom they used and estimated costs.
4) Once you know what you're dealing with, you can begin to comparison shop and gather the prices of all the components that will go into your wedding.
5) Make a list of all the financial assistance you expect to help with your wedding budget. Don’t forget to include your current income, any savings in the bank, as well as contributions coming from family members.
Maximize Your Wedding Budget
Before you dive into the world of pricey ice sculptures and diamond studded cufflinks, consider cutting back the strain of a wedding budget by embracing the following money-saving tips:
• Spend Less on the Dress: Who remembers where the bridal gown came from? Custom-made or clearance rack – it's how you wear it!
• Music Cutback: Consider foregoing the DJ and 5-piece band – think iPod and computerized playlists.
• Avoid Floral Overload: Save money by eliminating bulky floral centerpieces for your reception. Substitute with items, like pretty candles.
• Stick with the Photos: If your wedding budget is tight, locate a solid photographer and leave the videography to family members with camcorders.
Weddings are expensive! If your budget is becoming a nightmare, there are a few ways to trim the costs without sacrificing your dreams or the comfort of your guests.
Wedding cakes can be a ridiculous expense, especially for large guest lists or if you have your heart set on an extravagant design. Renting a display cake is a popular option that could cut at least a couple hundred dollars from your budget without foregoing the perfect cake. Other couples save by ordering a small cake with an elegant design, as well as a less costly sheet cake for serving.
Your wedding gown is often the easiest place to overspend - but also one of the easiest areas to trim costs. Take the time to shop around. Bridal discount stores, eBay, and similar locations will sometimes have your dream dress available for a fraction of the retail price!
Food usually consumes the biggest portion of your budget. Consider finger foods or desserts instead of a sit-down meal. Backyard barbecues are a great way to save if you want to feed your guests a full menu.
Greenery is much less expensive than blooms. Decorate with ferns and foliage and save the colorful blossoms for your bouquet.
There are several ways to cut the costs of your invitations. Besides shopping around for the best price, opt for RSVP postcards to eliminate an extra envelope as well as postage. You can also consider eliminating the liner and avoiding enclosure cards.
Wedding venues and vendors tend to cost the most on Saturday evenings and holidays. Hold your event in the afternoon, on Friday night, or on a Sunday afternoon. Try to avoid major holidays if you want to trim your budget.
Search around for free venues for your ceremony and reception. Outdoor events are often free and you'll save on plants and flowers as well!
Especially if your guest list is large, wedding favors can add up quickly. Look for DIY favors that can be assembled quickly and inexpensively without losing sentiment or consider making a charitable donation in honor of your guests.
Hiring a DJ or band for your reception can cost several hundred dollars. Many brides load up their iPod and rent speakers instead, usually trimming their budget by $200 to $300.
Friends, coworkers, and family members often have a wealth of hidden talents - or may have friends that do! If your cousin takes amazing photos and has a professional camera, would she give you a great deal on your photography? Enlist the help of your bridesmaids to do your makeup and hair or ask a coworker to manage the videography. New businesses are also ideal places to turn to for discounts that can cut your wedding budget.