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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • From monogrammed bags to personalized lockets, it's probably impossible to pour all the gratitude and love you feel in just one bridesmaid gift, but you'll have to pick something out and hopefully it will say more than just 'thank you.' With a bit of luck, some of the suggestions below will set you off on the right path towards selecting something memorable and appropriate for your bridesmaid gifts.


    Photo: Jeff Loves Jessica

    Traditional Bridesmaid Gifts

    If you'd like to keep in line with traditional bridesmaid gifts, perhaps you'd like to concentrate on providing the lovely ladies in your life with jewelry for your wedding day. Matching necklaces, bracelets, rings, and even tiaras make great keepsakes. What about an engraved gift? Think silver jewelry boxes, lighters, flasks, toasting glasses, and key chains.

    Bridesmaid Gifts on a Budget

    When planning a wedding on a budget, you can still give sentimental bridesmaid gifts to your attending ladies. Never underestimate the power of an attractive gift bag. Helping out with a wedding takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. Don't you think your bridesmaids deserve a little relaxation? Create a goodie bag filled with scented candles, bubble bath, lotion, bath beads, and other soothing treats. What about the memories? And, when you're on a really tight budget, a box of chocolates is always a sweet way to say that you appreciate their presence at your wedding.

    Luxury Bridesmaid Gifts

    If you've really been a Bridezilla throughout the process of planning your wedding, then maybe you need to spring for bridesmaid gifts that truly pamper. Treat your bridesmaids to a day spa treatment. Purchase a beautiful cashmere sweater. Send your bridesmaids to a luxury hotel for one night, preferably one with a Jacuzzi. Perhaps, your bridesmaids have been neglecting their own better halves in order to help you plan your wedding, treat them both to a dinner for two at a ritzy restaurant.  Silk nighties or pajamas are also quite special for the bridesmaids in your life.

    Other Ideas for Bridesmaid Gifts

    When looking for more ideas for bridesmaid gifts, allow your creativity to run wild. Consider their individual personalities and what would bring a smile to their faces. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Additional suggestions include:

    Cooking lessons with a master chef Free yoga sessions Handmade pottery Day of horseback riding Rock climbing adventure Scuba diving lessons MP3 player or iPod Tickets to a sporting event or concert Leather photo albums

    See more ideas: Bow Gifts for Bridesmaids and Monogrammed Bridesmaid Gifts

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  • Your wedding photos will be something you will cherish for the rest of your life.  Whether it’s a picture of you and the groom holding hands or a close-up of your wedding cake, each time you see them you will relive the special feelings and emotions of your wedding day.  This is why it’s so important to hire a great wedding photographer. 

    Consider the following questions to ask your photographer to ensure that you will get the kinds of photos you want:

    1. What is your personal style or do you specialize in a particular style?

    You want to know that your photographer and your desires are on the same page.  If you want natural, beautiful shots and your photographer specializes in planned, orchestrated shots, you may not be happy with the results.  Find out what his or her specialty is and how they plan to take the shots for your wedding.

     

    2. Can I see samples of previous wedding photos you’ve done?

    It’s very important to see samples of previous wedding photos from your potential photographer.  This way, you can see the quality of the photos and how well the photographer captured the magic of the day.  If you don’t like the looks of the sample wedding photos, perhaps you should interview another photographer.

    3. Have you taken pictures at my wedding location before?
    If your photographer is a good one, there is a chance he or she has taken photos at your wedding venue for another couple in the past.  This is quite helpful, since the photographer will have a good idea of the lighting and setup of the location.

    4. What sort of cameras will you be using?

    Even if you have no idea what kinds of cameras a photographer is supposed to use, asking the question will give you an idea of the experience and knowledge of the photographer.  If you want to make sure he or she is using appropriate equipment to meet your needs, look the cameras up later.

     

    5. Can other individuals take pictures as well?

    Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures because the flashes can interrupt the professional pictures.  It may also distract the subjects of the photos and mess up the professional pictures.  Be sure to ask this question so you can time the photo taking of your guests or yourself.

     

    6. How soon after the wedding will the prints be available and will I receive negatives?

    It’s important to know the cost of the photos, how soon they will be ready for you and whether or not you will receive the negatives.  If you will, does the photographer charge you an extra fee for this?

     

    By ensuring that you have good questions to ask your photographer, you can be sure that your wedding photos will be gorgeous, creating the perfect memento of your big day. 

     

    Photo by Union Photography

     

    Check out reviews for local wedding photographers here!

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  • Your reception is a beautiful chance for both you and your brand new spouse to entertain your loved ones as a married couple. From drinks and refreshments to dancing and toasts, the reception is often a favorite time for everyone; it’s more relaxed than the ceremony and couples have the chance to interact with their guests.  This etiquette guide will help ensure that things go smoothly for your reception.

     


    Photo by William Innes Photography, Venue: Hartley Botanica

     

    The Reception Toasts
    Typically, the reception toasts give the wedding party a chance to wish the couple well and reminisce about special memories – from the couples’ childhoods or when they met each other. 

     

    The bride’s father usually starts the toast, since the groom’s father typically takes the role of host. The bride’s dad may recall sentimental or humorous memories from his little girl’s life and either way, the guests are sure to be brought to laughter or tears. After the bride’s father, the groom will say a few words. He may thank guests for attending and talk a bit about his new wife before the best man shares his two cents. 

     

    This toast usually brings laughter and a few sidelong glances from the nervous couple.

     

    It’s important that the best man refrain from bringing up past relationships of the groom’s, or anything that would truly embarrass or upset the happy couple. 

     

    Most best men are aware of this little unspoken rule – but you may have to warn yours! After the best man speaks, the maid of honor will offer her blessings and the happy couple may want to thank their guests again for attending.

     

    The Reception Music

    The reception music will set the tone for the first dance, the father and daughter dance, the cocktail hour and more. It’s important that the music is not only representative of the bride and groom – but that it doesn’t offend anyone attending.  Consider your guest list before creating your music list and remember that your reception music must be enjoyed by people in a range of different age groups and with different personalities.

     

     

    If children will be attending, be sure that the music is child-friendly. Remember also your parents and grandparents before playing anything they would consider disrespectful or rude. If you keep everyone in mind, you can select reception music that will be enjoyed by all.

     

    The Reception ‘Mingling’
    If you and your soon-to-be spouse will not have a receiving line for your reception, you should be sure to speak with each guest at least once. If you’re going to have a large reception with a lot of guests, you should consider the receiving line.  Trying to make sure you have spoken to everyone throughout the night can be difficult – especially if more than 100 guests will be attending.

    Consider which avenue will allow you to at least say hello to every single guest which attends your wedding.  This can be an exhausting task, but the possibility of someone’s feelings getting hurt is too great when you speak to only some guests attending your reception.

    The Reception Gifts
    If you would like to open your gifts in front of your guests – wonderful!  However, there is no etiquette rule which states that you must. Before deciding whether to do this, consider a few things. Will guests who did not bring a gift feel embarrassed?  Also, if you will be hosting a very large ceremony with a lot of gifts, will the gift-opening take up the entire reception? 

    If the reception will be an intimate one with only family and a few close friends, opening the gifts in front of guests will be easier. Just be sure to display the same excitement for each gift and never allude to the fact that you don’t like a guest’s gift.

    By following this handy etiquette guide, your reception will go very smoothly and everyone (including you) should have a wonderful time!

     

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  • For most couples, the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon create three of the biggest pieces of the matrimonial pie. When calculating your honeymoon budget, you'll be planning on much more than a hotel room and rental car. When you approach your honeymoon budget, consider the following factors:

    Before the Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon destination will play an important role regarding the costs associated with newlywed bliss. If you're traveling out of the country, passport fees can run you into the hundreds. Expediting the process will cost you an extra $60 per each passport. If you use a travel agent to book your honeymoon, make room for their fees. Many couples book online to save on the cost of travel arrangements. If you own a pet, make an allowance for kennel fees if you don’t have a sitter. Childcare will also cost, even if a relative has graciously stepped up to the plate to help. Additional fees include new clothes for your trip, guidebooks, maps, and travelers' cheque fees.

    Transportation

    Most couples on a honeymoon choose to fly the friendly skies to their destination. Calculate the amount that two round-trip airline tickets will cost. Will you rent a car during your stay? Booking online with a website (like Travelocity) will help save you money. They will often ask if you'd like to purchase extra insurance for your rental car. It's suggested to comply. Also, don’t let a glitch in rules and regulations ruin your honeymoon. Research your destination's policy on international driver's licenses – you may need to pay for one. Other honeymoon transportation costs include train tickets, gas, tolls, and taxi fare.

    Accommodations

    Once again, booking your hotel accommodations online will save a great deal of money. In some cases, the flight and hotel are offered as a package deal for a real money-saving treat. Jot down the amount that a package room deal for the honeymoon suite or any other lodging selection will cost for the number of days you are planning on celebrating the aftermath of your wedding. Don't forget to include anticipated tipping of the valet and bellhop. For cruise passengers, don’t forget to add in the cost of tipping staff, port charges, and tours of local sights.

    Meals

    What honeymoon is complete if you don’t plan on sampling local eats about town? For the number of days during your stay, estimate the costs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t forget to make allowances for nights out (alcoholic beverages) and snacks. Include a bit of cash for tipping staff when eating out.

    Activities and Entertainment

    A honeymoon should be full of relaxation, cuddling, and fun. Activities and entertainment help elevate your overall experience. Wherever you wind up for your honeymoon, I bet you'll venture outside of your hotel room at least a couple of times. Local attractions are a draw for honeymooning couples who love taking photos of themselves floating on Venice waters or visiting the State Hermitage Museum in Russia. However, these sightseeing adventures come with a price. Set aside money in your budget for:

    Tours Admission fees to local attractions Activity charges (like golfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving) Equipment rental (like surfboard, skis, and mopeds) Gambling, when applicable Nightlife (drinks, comedy clubs, and cover charges) 

     

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  • If they haven’t already, your vendors will be contacting you soon requesting a final headcount for your wedding day. RSVP cards are terrific tools, but don’t expect everyone who attends your event to actually use them! It’s time to go through your guest list and that stack of RSVPs that have already arrived – then you can track down the missing RSVPs and give a final attendance number to those who need it.

     

    Managing Your Guest List

    Unless you’ve hired a wedding coordinator that offers guest list management, this is a responsibility that belongs to you and your fiancé. I recommend keeping a copy of your master guest list in a convenient place at home and checking off your RSVPs each evening as they arrive – when you’re 2 weeks away from your wedding with 150 cards to sift through, you’ll be very glad you took my advice!

    As the RSVP date gets near, start going through the list and make note of the responses that are still missing. It’s a good idea to request phone numbers, along with names and addresses, when you first put together your guest list - but if your list doesn’t include this bit of information, track down any numbers you don’t have and add them to your list.

    Touch Base With Missing RSVPs
    Don’t assume that a guest isn’t coming just because you haven’t received an RSVP – if they do show up, it could be quite embarrassing for you and a headache for your caterer! There’s nothing wrong with making a quick phone call to confirm a guest’s attendance if you haven’t received a response.

    Plan a quiet afternoon close to your RSVP date and sit down with your list of missing replies. If you’re contacting a guest you’ve never met before – such as a relative on your fiancé’s side – take the time to introduce yourself. Let each guest know that you’re making your final plans for the wedding and noticed you hadn’t received their response card, but hope they plan to attend.

    Tracking down all of your missing RSVPs may take more than one calling session. Be sure to leave a message with anyone who doesn’t answer and make a second call a couple days later if you still haven’t heard anything. You can also speak with relatives and friends of the guest if you’re having a hard time tracking down the individual.

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  • Every bride wishes to insert a personal touch into her wedding, whether it's carrying her favorite bloom down the aisle or serenading her husband-to-be during the ceremony. Whether you're looking to stick to a budget or go for the gusto, there are plenty of ways to personalize your wedding.


    Photo by Weston Neuschafer Photography

     
    1) Choose a Theme
    When personalizing your wedding, what better way to celebrate your union with the one you love than by choosing a theme that speaks to both of your personalities? Shared interests and hobbies often come into play with a theme wedding. For example, drama buffs may plan a Shakespeare extravaganza. Your favorite time of year can play a role when personalizing your wedding, as well. Many couples choose a holiday wedding that takes advantage of seasonal colors. Perhaps the honeymoon destination you've selected can add life to your wedding ceremony and reception.
     
    2) Invitations
    When taking the time to announce your special day, start personalizing your wedding with the invitations that you send out. This is the perfect time to select colors, signature styles, fonts, presentation, envelopes, and even stamps to leave a lasting impression on guests. You may consider:

    Thoughtful illustrations on personalized wedding map cards Candid snapshots taken at a photo shoot Caricatures of you and your fiancé on the invite Personalized stamps highlighting the two of you Do-it-yourself invitations

    3) Write Your Own Vows
    When you're interested in personalizing your wedding ceremony, one of the most heartfelt touches involves writing your own vows. Some couples are worried about vocalizing their feelings and fear they won't be able to properly express all of their deepest thoughts. However, inserting a favorite poem, quote, or an inside joke will do just fine when you wish to add personal touches to your vows.
     
    4) Cultural and Family Traditions
    From choosing specific colors filled with meaning to embracing the rituals of your ancestors, blending cultural and family traditions can also help you to personalize your wedding. For example, traditional Czech Republic brides wear a wreath of rosemary that her bridesmaids have created for her. A modern take involves a combination of roses and baby's breath. In the Korean culture, ducks and geese serve as symbols of fidelity since they are known to mate for life. 

    5) First Dance at the Reception
    When newly married couples make their appearance on the reception dance floor, all eyes are fixed on their loving gaze, tender embrace, and every step. Personalizing your wedding first dance doesn’t have to stop at choosing 'your song.' An increasingly number of couples are taking dance lessons and asking for the assistance of dance instructors to choreograph routines that see newlyweds tango, two-step, salsa, tap, and cha-cha-cha their way into the hearts of onlookers. 

     

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  • Your wedding guestbook will be more than just a guestbook. It will serve as a memento for years to come; a reminder of your special day and the family and friends that helped you to celebrate. Many brides desire guestbook ideas that are unique and special rather than the traditional book and pen. Below, you will find many different guestbook ideas that suit all types of styles and personalities.

     


    Photos by Hudson Nichols Photography

     

    Picture Frame Guestbook Ideas

    Rather than having the typical book, try placing a large engagement picture of you and your sweetie in a frame with an extra large mat. Then, at the ceremony, provide metallic gold and silver pens for your guests to sign the mat and leave brief best wishes. After the ceremony, you can reframe the picture and will be able to enjoy your ‘guestbook’ right on the wall!

     

    Or, use a scrapbook idea and leave a Polaroid camera on the guestbook table. Have ‘helpers’ take pictures of your guests as they arrive and tape it into the book. Your guests can then leave their best wishes and messages beside their photos. This is another wonderful guestbook idea and your guests are sure to have a lot of fun with this one.

     

    Household Items Guestbook Ideas
    There are also a few really great guestbook ideas you can use that are not only unique, but will serve as household treasures for many years. For instance, purchase a beautiful specialty ceramic vase or serving dish and a ceramic marker so your guests can each sign the platter or vase. Follow the directions which come with the kit in order to set the ink – then you will have a beautiful decoration that will forever remind you of your wedding day.

    For a very creative and unique idea, choose squares of fabric in coordinating colors (think wedding colors) and use fabric pens to allow your guests to decorate and sign the squares.  Have your squares cut about 3 inches each if you will have a lot of guests, 12 inches if it will be a smaller and more intimate wedding. After the ceremony, you can have the names and wishes embroidered and the squares made into a quilt to hang in a favorite place.

     

    Most brides are excited to do something a little different with their wedding – creating their own special memories that will never be forgotten. Enjoy these unique guestbook ideas – use the ones provided or get inspired to be creative and make a wonderful guestbook for your wedding!

     

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  • Ceremony readings are a special part of your wedding. Readings are sentimental and romantic – many couples save a print copy of their readings in their wedding album or in a scrapbook. Readings are also a wonderful way to personalize your ceremony by choosing something that reflects your personalities and love for one another - you can even write your own!

     


     Photo by Jerry Yoon Photography
     

     

    Reading Rules

    There are really no rules when it comes to selecting the right readings. It’s your wedding so it’s ultimately your decision. The pieces you choose should fit your wedding theme and should signify both of your personal feelings. Some couples have a single reading, usually early in the ceremony after the wedding party enters, and many have a second reading later in the wedding, following a musical solo or just before the ring exchange.

     

    Ceremony Reading Ideas

    Inspiration for the perfect reading can come from just about anywhere – poetry, classic literature, religious verse, song lyrics, and more. The trick is to find something that expresses your thoughts and still suits the atmosphere of your wedding.

     

    Traditional

    Traditional weddings work best with traditional ceremony readings. Religious passages are quite popular, including the 1 Corinthians Love Poem (Protestant), the 7 Blessings (Jewish), and traditional Irish blessings. Many cultures have special ceremony readings you may consider, depending on your background. Traditional, but nonreligious wedding couples often choose excerpts from classic poetry – Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

     

    Romantic

    Romantic poetry is usually a touching choice for any type of ceremony. A few suggestions include:

     

    “Hope is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickenson “My True Love” by Sir Phillip Sydney Various excerpts from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gilbran

    Custom, Personal, and Unique

    Many brides-to-be are opting for something different to create a truly memorable ceremony wedding that represents their own unique relationship. If this sounds like you, the possibilities are endless but here are some ideas to jumpstart your creativity:

    Song lyrics. Select a song that is meaningful to your relationship with words that reflect your own feelings or values. Movie or book excerpts. A romantic or significant quote from a favorite movie or book can add a personal touch to your wedding ceremony. Write your own. A truly heartfelt wedding ceremony reading is one that is personally written. Either you or your fiancé may write a love poem, the two of you could write an essay together describing true love, or you might use a poem written by a friend or family member.

    Your wedding ceremony readings are a meaningful part of your big day so take the time to choose passages that say what your heart feels.

     

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  • When you consider that the average wedding costs over $20,000, you may be thinking that there’s no way you can afford the day of your dreams. You may not be able to go all out, but there are lots of ways to pare down your costs and have a gorgeous wedding. Here are ten ideas for saving money, allowing you to afford a beautiful day on a budget.

    1. Keep the Ceremony Realistic
    If hotel ballrooms and country clubs are out of your budget, think of the less expensive, creative alternatives. These could include gardens, parks, beaches, or – cheapest of all – someone’s home or backyard. And don’t forget the creative choices that may reflect your personal story: the college campus where you met; the mountaintop where he proposed; your favorite restaurant.

    2. Pare down the Guest List
    The fewer guests you invite, the less you’ll spend on invitations, postage, rented tables and chairs, food and wedding favors. Plus, having a short guest lists means you can easily accommodate invitees at a home or backyard wedding. Limiting your guests to family and close friends with still make your day meaningful and will cost a lot less.

    3. Choose Low-Cost (or free) Invitations
    For invitations, save the dates and thank yous, try shopping online rather than in specialty boutiques. If you’re crafty, you can make your own! You’ll save money by eliminating engraving and fancy enclosures, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind design.

    If you’re a child of the digital age, you may just want to keep it simple by setting up a wedding Web site and take RSVPs online.

    4. Dress for Less
    The quest for the perfect dress means pounding the pavement. Visit bridal shops and boutiques to determine what looks best. Next, do a search on eBay or Craig’s List – you might be surprised at what you will find. (However, make sure you have accurate measurements before you whip out your credit card). Shop sample sales, consignment shops, outlets, or online (search for “cheap” or “used” wedding dresses) and don’t eliminate prom and cocktail dress as options.

    5. Good Photography Doesn’t have to Cost a Bundle
    Everyone has a friend who is good with photography, so don’t be shy about asking (and be sure to get your photos in a digital format so you can print them out yourselves). Or, employ a professional photographer, but use him or her only for the ceremony and a couple of posed shots. Put instant cameras on the tables at the reception and let everyone take photos, leaving the cameras behind as they leave the festivities!

     

    6. Flowers: Less is More
    Have an artistic friend make your bouquets out of seasonal flowers bought at the wholesale or farmer’s market. Long-stemmed Gerbera daisies and some greenery tied with a bow are colorful and beautiful. Boutonnieres are a snap to make, and you can go green by including natural objects like seashells, rocks, branches, or leaves in your wedding décor.

    7. Decorate for almost Nothing
    You don’t have to hire a decorator to make your reception space shine. Use a vases, pitchers, or jars from thrift stores as centerpieces and fill them with garden flowers and greenery. The mix-and-match look is one-of-a-kind and definitely a hot trend. Accent tables with tea light candles in glass jars or pillar candles of different sizes set in groups. Surround candles with sprinkled rose petals or leaves.

    8. Forget the Champagne
    Champagne is expensive and can up the cost of your reception, especially if you plan on serving it all night. Forego the champagne toast and serve only wine or beer – plus at least one non-alcoholic drink – instead. If you want to splurge, serve a signature cocktail designed especially for you (keep your wedding colors in mind and let the color scheme carry over into the drink).

    9. Reduce Food Costs
    Sit-down dinners are extremely expensive, so you might jettison that banquet in favor of something else. Serve a signature cocktail with a variety of appetizers so guest can mix and mingle at food stations. Plus, a wedding where people can get up and walk around can be more fun and feel less formal. An all-dessert reception is also very popular for late-afternoon weddings, and can feature all your favorites, from cream puffs to cheesecake.

    10. Cut the Cake
    A huge, multi-tiered wedding cake designed to serve 300 people is going to cost you a bundle. Instead, opt for a small, two-tiered cake for show and for that cake-cutting moment, but order sheet cakes, cookies, or cupcakes to serve the guests. Believe it or not, you can also rent a beautiful non-edible cake (search online for options) that will make for the perfect centerpiece but will cost you a fraction of what a real cake will cost and eliminate the danger of falling tiers or other mishaps.

     

     

     

     

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  • From monogrammed bags to personalized lockets, it's probably impossible to pour all the gratitude and love you feel in just one bridesmaid gift, but you'll have to pick something out and hopefully it will say more than just 'thank you.' With a bit of luck, some of the suggestions below will set you off on the right path towards selecting something memorable and appropriate for your bridesmaid gifts.


    Photo: Jeff Loves Jessica

    Traditional Bridesmaid Gifts

    If you'd like to keep in line with traditional bridesmaid gifts, perhaps you'd like to concentrate on providing the lovely ladies in your life with jewelry for your wedding day. Matching necklaces, bracelets, rings, and even tiaras make great keepsakes. What about an engraved gift? Think silver jewelry boxes, lighters, flasks, toasting glasses, and key chains.

    Bridesmaid Gifts on a Budget

    When planning a wedding on a budget, you can still give sentimental bridesmaid gifts to your attending ladies. Never underestimate the power of an attractive gift bag. Helping out with a wedding takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. Don't you think your bridesmaids deserve a little relaxation? Create a goodie bag filled with scented candles, bubble bath, lotion, bath beads, and other soothing treats. What about the memories? And, when you're on a really tight budget, a box of chocolates is always a sweet way to say that you appreciate their presence at your wedding.

    Luxury Bridesmaid Gifts

    If you've really been a Bridezilla throughout the process of planning your wedding, then maybe you need to spring for bridesmaid gifts that truly pamper. Treat your bridesmaids to a day spa treatment. Purchase a beautiful cashmere sweater. Send your bridesmaids to a luxury hotel for one night, preferably one with a Jacuzzi. Perhaps, your bridesmaids have been neglecting their own better halves in order to help you plan your wedding, treat them both to a dinner for two at a ritzy restaurant.  Silk nighties or pajamas are also quite special for the bridesmaids in your life.

    Other Ideas for Bridesmaid Gifts

    When looking for more ideas for bridesmaid gifts, allow your creativity to run wild. Consider their individual personalities and what would bring a smile to their faces. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Additional suggestions include:

    Cooking lessons with a master chef Free yoga sessions Handmade pottery Day of horseback riding Rock climbing adventure Scuba diving lessons MP3 player or iPod Tickets to a sporting event or concert Leather photo albums

    See more ideas: Bow Gifts for Bridesmaids and Monogrammed Bridesmaid Gifts

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  • Your wedding photos will be something you will cherish for the rest of your life.  Whether it’s a picture of you and the groom holding hands or a close-up of your wedding cake, each time you see them you will relive the special feelings and emotions of your wedding day.  This is why it’s so important to hire a great wedding photographer. 

    Consider the following questions to ask your photographer to ensure that you will get the kinds of photos you want:

    1. What is your personal style or do you specialize in a particular style?

    You want to know that your photographer and your desires are on the same page.  If you want natural, beautiful shots and your photographer specializes in planned, orchestrated shots, you may not be happy with the results.  Find out what his or her specialty is and how they plan to take the shots for your wedding.

     

    2. Can I see samples of previous wedding photos you’ve done?

    It’s very important to see samples of previous wedding photos from your potential photographer.  This way, you can see the quality of the photos and how well the photographer captured the magic of the day.  If you don’t like the looks of the sample wedding photos, perhaps you should interview another photographer.

    3. Have you taken pictures at my wedding location before?
    If your photographer is a good one, there is a chance he or she has taken photos at your wedding venue for another couple in the past.  This is quite helpful, since the photographer will have a good idea of the lighting and setup of the location.

    4. What sort of cameras will you be using?

    Even if you have no idea what kinds of cameras a photographer is supposed to use, asking the question will give you an idea of the experience and knowledge of the photographer.  If you want to make sure he or she is using appropriate equipment to meet your needs, look the cameras up later.

     

    5. Can other individuals take pictures as well?

    Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures because the flashes can interrupt the professional pictures.  It may also distract the subjects of the photos and mess up the professional pictures.  Be sure to ask this question so you can time the photo taking of your guests or yourself.

     

    6. How soon after the wedding will the prints be available and will I receive negatives?

    It’s important to know the cost of the photos, how soon they will be ready for you and whether or not you will receive the negatives.  If you will, does the photographer charge you an extra fee for this?

     

    By ensuring that you have good questions to ask your photographer, you can be sure that your wedding photos will be gorgeous, creating the perfect memento of your big day. 

     

    Photo by Union Photography

     

    Check out reviews for local wedding photographers here!

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  • Your reception is a beautiful chance for both you and your brand new spouse to entertain your loved ones as a married couple. From drinks and refreshments to dancing and toasts, the reception is often a favorite time for everyone; it’s more relaxed than the ceremony and couples have the chance to interact with their guests.  This etiquette guide will help ensure that things go smoothly for your reception.

     


    Photo by William Innes Photography, Venue: Hartley Botanica

     

    The Reception Toasts
    Typically, the reception toasts give the wedding party a chance to wish the couple well and reminisce about special memories – from the couples’ childhoods or when they met each other. 

     

    The bride’s father usually starts the toast, since the groom’s father typically takes the role of host. The bride’s dad may recall sentimental or humorous memories from his little girl’s life and either way, the guests are sure to be brought to laughter or tears. After the bride’s father, the groom will say a few words. He may thank guests for attending and talk a bit about his new wife before the best man shares his two cents. 

     

    This toast usually brings laughter and a few sidelong glances from the nervous couple.

     

    It’s important that the best man refrain from bringing up past relationships of the groom’s, or anything that would truly embarrass or upset the happy couple. 

     

    Most best men are aware of this little unspoken rule – but you may have to warn yours! After the best man speaks, the maid of honor will offer her blessings and the happy couple may want to thank their guests again for attending.

     

    The Reception Music

    The reception music will set the tone for the first dance, the father and daughter dance, the cocktail hour and more. It’s important that the music is not only representative of the bride and groom – but that it doesn’t offend anyone attending.  Consider your guest list before creating your music list and remember that your reception music must be enjoyed by people in a range of different age groups and with different personalities.

     

     

    If children will be attending, be sure that the music is child-friendly. Remember also your parents and grandparents before playing anything they would consider disrespectful or rude. If you keep everyone in mind, you can select reception music that will be enjoyed by all.

     

    The Reception ‘Mingling’
    If you and your soon-to-be spouse will not have a receiving line for your reception, you should be sure to speak with each guest at least once. If you’re going to have a large reception with a lot of guests, you should consider the receiving line.  Trying to make sure you have spoken to everyone throughout the night can be difficult – especially if more than 100 guests will be attending.

    Consider which avenue will allow you to at least say hello to every single guest which attends your wedding.  This can be an exhausting task, but the possibility of someone’s feelings getting hurt is too great when you speak to only some guests attending your reception.

    The Reception Gifts
    If you would like to open your gifts in front of your guests – wonderful!  However, there is no etiquette rule which states that you must. Before deciding whether to do this, consider a few things. Will guests who did not bring a gift feel embarrassed?  Also, if you will be hosting a very large ceremony with a lot of gifts, will the gift-opening take up the entire reception? 

    If the reception will be an intimate one with only family and a few close friends, opening the gifts in front of guests will be easier. Just be sure to display the same excitement for each gift and never allude to the fact that you don’t like a guest’s gift.

    By following this handy etiquette guide, your reception will go very smoothly and everyone (including you) should have a wonderful time!

     

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  • For most couples, the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon create three of the biggest pieces of the matrimonial pie. When calculating your honeymoon budget, you'll be planning on much more than a hotel room and rental car. When you approach your honeymoon budget, consider the following factors:

    Before the Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon destination will play an important role regarding the costs associated with newlywed bliss. If you're traveling out of the country, passport fees can run you into the hundreds. Expediting the process will cost you an extra $60 per each passport. If you use a travel agent to book your honeymoon, make room for their fees. Many couples book online to save on the cost of travel arrangements. If you own a pet, make an allowance for kennel fees if you don’t have a sitter. Childcare will also cost, even if a relative has graciously stepped up to the plate to help. Additional fees include new clothes for your trip, guidebooks, maps, and travelers' cheque fees.

    Transportation

    Most couples on a honeymoon choose to fly the friendly skies to their destination. Calculate the amount that two round-trip airline tickets will cost. Will you rent a car during your stay? Booking online with a website (like Travelocity) will help save you money. They will often ask if you'd like to purchase extra insurance for your rental car. It's suggested to comply. Also, don’t let a glitch in rules and regulations ruin your honeymoon. Research your destination's policy on international driver's licenses – you may need to pay for one. Other honeymoon transportation costs include train tickets, gas, tolls, and taxi fare.

    Accommodations

    Once again, booking your hotel accommodations online will save a great deal of money. In some cases, the flight and hotel are offered as a package deal for a real money-saving treat. Jot down the amount that a package room deal for the honeymoon suite or any other lodging selection will cost for the number of days you are planning on celebrating the aftermath of your wedding. Don't forget to include anticipated tipping of the valet and bellhop. For cruise passengers, don’t forget to add in the cost of tipping staff, port charges, and tours of local sights.

    Meals

    What honeymoon is complete if you don’t plan on sampling local eats about town? For the number of days during your stay, estimate the costs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t forget to make allowances for nights out (alcoholic beverages) and snacks. Include a bit of cash for tipping staff when eating out.

    Activities and Entertainment

    A honeymoon should be full of relaxation, cuddling, and fun. Activities and entertainment help elevate your overall experience. Wherever you wind up for your honeymoon, I bet you'll venture outside of your hotel room at least a couple of times. Local attractions are a draw for honeymooning couples who love taking photos of themselves floating on Venice waters or visiting the State Hermitage Museum in Russia. However, these sightseeing adventures come with a price. Set aside money in your budget for:

    Tours Admission fees to local attractions Activity charges (like golfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving) Equipment rental (like surfboard, skis, and mopeds) Gambling, when applicable Nightlife (drinks, comedy clubs, and cover charges) 

     

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  • If they haven’t already, your vendors will be contacting you soon requesting a final headcount for your wedding day. RSVP cards are terrific tools, but don’t expect everyone who attends your event to actually use them! It’s time to go through your guest list and that stack of RSVPs that have already arrived – then you can track down the missing RSVPs and give a final attendance number to those who need it.

     

    Managing Your Guest List

    Unless you’ve hired a wedding coordinator that offers guest list management, this is a responsibility that belongs to you and your fiancé. I recommend keeping a copy of your master guest list in a convenient place at home and checking off your RSVPs each evening as they arrive – when you’re 2 weeks away from your wedding with 150 cards to sift through, you’ll be very glad you took my advice!

    As the RSVP date gets near, start going through the list and make note of the responses that are still missing. It’s a good idea to request phone numbers, along with names and addresses, when you first put together your guest list - but if your list doesn’t include this bit of information, track down any numbers you don’t have and add them to your list.

    Touch Base With Missing RSVPs
    Don’t assume that a guest isn’t coming just because you haven’t received an RSVP – if they do show up, it could be quite embarrassing for you and a headache for your caterer! There’s nothing wrong with making a quick phone call to confirm a guest’s attendance if you haven’t received a response.

    Plan a quiet afternoon close to your RSVP date and sit down with your list of missing replies. If you’re contacting a guest you’ve never met before – such as a relative on your fiancé’s side – take the time to introduce yourself. Let each guest know that you’re making your final plans for the wedding and noticed you hadn’t received their response card, but hope they plan to attend.

    Tracking down all of your missing RSVPs may take more than one calling session. Be sure to leave a message with anyone who doesn’t answer and make a second call a couple days later if you still haven’t heard anything. You can also speak with relatives and friends of the guest if you’re having a hard time tracking down the individual.

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  • Every bride wishes to insert a personal touch into her wedding, whether it's carrying her favorite bloom down the aisle or serenading her husband-to-be during the ceremony. Whether you're looking to stick to a budget or go for the gusto, there are plenty of ways to personalize your wedding.


    Photo by Weston Neuschafer Photography

     
    1) Choose a Theme
    When personalizing your wedding, what better way to celebrate your union with the one you love than by choosing a theme that speaks to both of your personalities? Shared interests and hobbies often come into play with a theme wedding. For example, drama buffs may plan a Shakespeare extravaganza. Your favorite time of year can play a role when personalizing your wedding, as well. Many couples choose a holiday wedding that takes advantage of seasonal colors. Perhaps the honeymoon destination you've selected can add life to your wedding ceremony and reception.
     
    2) Invitations
    When taking the time to announce your special day, start personalizing your wedding with the invitations that you send out. This is the perfect time to select colors, signature styles, fonts, presentation, envelopes, and even stamps to leave a lasting impression on guests. You may consider:

    Thoughtful illustrations on personalized wedding map cards Candid snapshots taken at a photo shoot Caricatures of you and your fiancé on the invite Personalized stamps highlighting the two of you Do-it-yourself invitations

    3) Write Your Own Vows
    When you're interested in personalizing your wedding ceremony, one of the most heartfelt touches involves writing your own vows. Some couples are worried about vocalizing their feelings and fear they won't be able to properly express all of their deepest thoughts. However, inserting a favorite poem, quote, or an inside joke will do just fine when you wish to add personal touches to your vows.
     
    4) Cultural and Family Traditions
    From choosing specific colors filled with meaning to embracing the rituals of your ancestors, blending cultural and family traditions can also help you to personalize your wedding. For example, traditional Czech Republic brides wear a wreath of rosemary that her bridesmaids have created for her. A modern take involves a combination of roses and baby's breath. In the Korean culture, ducks and geese serve as symbols of fidelity since they are known to mate for life. 

    5) First Dance at the Reception
    When newly married couples make their appearance on the reception dance floor, all eyes are fixed on their loving gaze, tender embrace, and every step. Personalizing your wedding first dance doesn’t have to stop at choosing 'your song.' An increasingly number of couples are taking dance lessons and asking for the assistance of dance instructors to choreograph routines that see newlyweds tango, two-step, salsa, tap, and cha-cha-cha their way into the hearts of onlookers. 

     

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  • Your wedding guestbook will be more than just a guestbook. It will serve as a memento for years to come; a reminder of your special day and the family and friends that helped you to celebrate. Many brides desire guestbook ideas that are unique and special rather than the traditional book and pen. Below, you will find many different guestbook ideas that suit all types of styles and personalities.

     


    Photos by Hudson Nichols Photography

     

    Picture Frame Guestbook Ideas

    Rather than having the typical book, try placing a large engagement picture of you and your sweetie in a frame with an extra large mat. Then, at the ceremony, provide metallic gold and silver pens for your guests to sign the mat and leave brief best wishes. After the ceremony, you can reframe the picture and will be able to enjoy your ‘guestbook’ right on the wall!

     

    Or, use a scrapbook idea and leave a Polaroid camera on the guestbook table. Have ‘helpers’ take pictures of your guests as they arrive and tape it into the book. Your guests can then leave their best wishes and messages beside their photos. This is another wonderful guestbook idea and your guests are sure to have a lot of fun with this one.

     

    Household Items Guestbook Ideas
    There are also a few really great guestbook ideas you can use that are not only unique, but will serve as household treasures for many years. For instance, purchase a beautiful specialty ceramic vase or serving dish and a ceramic marker so your guests can each sign the platter or vase. Follow the directions which come with the kit in order to set the ink – then you will have a beautiful decoration that will forever remind you of your wedding day.

    For a very creative and unique idea, choose squares of fabric in coordinating colors (think wedding colors) and use fabric pens to allow your guests to decorate and sign the squares.  Have your squares cut about 3 inches each if you will have a lot of guests, 12 inches if it will be a smaller and more intimate wedding. After the ceremony, you can have the names and wishes embroidered and the squares made into a quilt to hang in a favorite place.

     

    Most brides are excited to do something a little different with their wedding – creating their own special memories that will never be forgotten. Enjoy these unique guestbook ideas – use the ones provided or get inspired to be creative and make a wonderful guestbook for your wedding!

     

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  • Ceremony readings are a special part of your wedding. Readings are sentimental and romantic – many couples save a print copy of their readings in their wedding album or in a scrapbook. Readings are also a wonderful way to personalize your ceremony by choosing something that reflects your personalities and love for one another - you can even write your own!

     


     Photo by Jerry Yoon Photography
     

     

    Reading Rules

    There are really no rules when it comes to selecting the right readings. It’s your wedding so it’s ultimately your decision. The pieces you choose should fit your wedding theme and should signify both of your personal feelings. Some couples have a single reading, usually early in the ceremony after the wedding party enters, and many have a second reading later in the wedding, following a musical solo or just before the ring exchange.

     

    Ceremony Reading Ideas

    Inspiration for the perfect reading can come from just about anywhere – poetry, classic literature, religious verse, song lyrics, and more. The trick is to find something that expresses your thoughts and still suits the atmosphere of your wedding.

     

    Traditional

    Traditional weddings work best with traditional ceremony readings. Religious passages are quite popular, including the 1 Corinthians Love Poem (Protestant), the 7 Blessings (Jewish), and traditional Irish blessings. Many cultures have special ceremony readings you may consider, depending on your background. Traditional, but nonreligious wedding couples often choose excerpts from classic poetry – Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 and How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

     

    Romantic

    Romantic poetry is usually a touching choice for any type of ceremony. A few suggestions include:

     

    “Hope is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickenson “My True Love” by Sir Phillip Sydney Various excerpts from “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gilbran

    Custom, Personal, and Unique

    Many brides-to-be are opting for something different to create a truly memorable ceremony wedding that represents their own unique relationship. If this sounds like you, the possibilities are endless but here are some ideas to jumpstart your creativity:

    Song lyrics. Select a song that is meaningful to your relationship with words that reflect your own feelings or values. Movie or book excerpts. A romantic or significant quote from a favorite movie or book can add a personal touch to your wedding ceremony. Write your own. A truly heartfelt wedding ceremony reading is one that is personally written. Either you or your fiancé may write a love poem, the two of you could write an essay together describing true love, or you might use a poem written by a friend or family member.

    Your wedding ceremony readings are a meaningful part of your big day so take the time to choose passages that say what your heart feels.

     

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  • When you consider that the average wedding costs over $20,000, you may be thinking that there’s no way you can afford the day of your dreams. You may not be able to go all out, but there are lots of ways to pare down your costs and have a gorgeous wedding. Here are ten ideas for saving money, allowing you to afford a beautiful day on a budget.

    1. Keep the Ceremony Realistic
    If hotel ballrooms and country clubs are out of your budget, think of the less expensive, creative alternatives. These could include gardens, parks, beaches, or – cheapest of all – someone’s home or backyard. And don’t forget the creative choices that may reflect your personal story: the college campus where you met; the mountaintop where he proposed; your favorite restaurant.

    2. Pare down the Guest List
    The fewer guests you invite, the less you’ll spend on invitations, postage, rented tables and chairs, food and wedding favors. Plus, having a short guest lists means you can easily accommodate invitees at a home or backyard wedding. Limiting your guests to family and close friends with still make your day meaningful and will cost a lot less.

    3. Choose Low-Cost (or free) Invitations
    For invitations, save the dates and thank yous, try shopping online rather than in specialty boutiques. If you’re crafty, you can make your own! You’ll save money by eliminating engraving and fancy enclosures, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind design.

    If you’re a child of the digital age, you may just want to keep it simple by setting up a wedding Web site and take RSVPs online.

    4. Dress for Less
    The quest for the perfect dress means pounding the pavement. Visit bridal shops and boutiques to determine what looks best. Next, do a search on eBay or Craig’s List – you might be surprised at what you will find. (However, make sure you have accurate measurements before you whip out your credit card). Shop sample sales, consignment shops, outlets, or online (search for “cheap” or “used” wedding dresses) and don’t eliminate prom and cocktail dress as options.

    5. Good Photography Doesn’t have to Cost a Bundle
    Everyone has a friend who is good with photography, so don’t be shy about asking (and be sure to get your photos in a digital format so you can print them out yourselves). Or, employ a professional photographer, but use him or her only for the ceremony and a couple of posed shots. Put instant cameras on the tables at the reception and let everyone take photos, leaving the cameras behind as they leave the festivities!

     

    6. Flowers: Less is More
    Have an artistic friend make your bouquets out of seasonal flowers bought at the wholesale or farmer’s market. Long-stemmed Gerbera daisies and some greenery tied with a bow are colorful and beautiful. Boutonnieres are a snap to make, and you can go green by including natural objects like seashells, rocks, branches, or leaves in your wedding décor.

    7. Decorate for almost Nothing
    You don’t have to hire a decorator to make your reception space shine. Use a vases, pitchers, or jars from thrift stores as centerpieces and fill them with garden flowers and greenery. The mix-and-match look is one-of-a-kind and definitely a hot trend. Accent tables with tea light candles in glass jars or pillar candles of different sizes set in groups. Surround candles with sprinkled rose petals or leaves.

    8. Forget the Champagne
    Champagne is expensive and can up the cost of your reception, especially if you plan on serving it all night. Forego the champagne toast and serve only wine or beer – plus at least one non-alcoholic drink – instead. If you want to splurge, serve a signature cocktail designed especially for you (keep your wedding colors in mind and let the color scheme carry over into the drink).

    9. Reduce Food Costs
    Sit-down dinners are extremely expensive, so you might jettison that banquet in favor of something else. Serve a signature cocktail with a variety of appetizers so guest can mix and mingle at food stations. Plus, a wedding where people can get up and walk around can be more fun and feel less formal. An all-dessert reception is also very popular for late-afternoon weddings, and can feature all your favorites, from cream puffs to cheesecake.

    10. Cut the Cake
    A huge, multi-tiered wedding cake designed to serve 300 people is going to cost you a bundle. Instead, opt for a small, two-tiered cake for show and for that cake-cutting moment, but order sheet cakes, cookies, or cupcakes to serve the guests. Believe it or not, you can also rent a beautiful non-edible cake (search online for options) that will make for the perfect centerpiece but will cost you a fraction of what a real cake will cost and eliminate the danger of falling tiers or other mishaps.

     

     

     

     

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