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Cookouts are the best part of summer, especially on the 4th of July with family and friends. Who doesn't love hot dogs, hamburgers, and fireworks? Bring that laid-back vibe to your rehearsal dinner. Here's how to do it:
1. Big-Batch Chilled Beverages
Photo by Katelyn James Photography
Mix up big batchees of flavored water, lemonade, or sweet tea and let guests serve themselves! Use mason jars as glasses for an extra picnic-y feel.
2. Gingham & Sunflower Decor
Photo by (from left to right) Chelsea Fuss and Nami Dadlani Photography
Set your wooden banquet tables with checkered linens or napkins and use bright yellow sunflowers in your centerpieces. Here's our step-by-step guide to styling a summer table.
3. Finger Foods
Photo by Jose Villa
Pass around bite-size burgers, BBQ sliders, pigs in a blanket, french fry shooters, and corn on the cob halves as appetizers.
4. Strawberry Shortcake
Photo by Chelsea Fuss
We all scream for ice cream! As much as it would coof off guests, it would also quickly melt in the heat. Instead, try a strawberry shortcake. Light and sweet, it will leave guests feeling satisfied but not heavy. Here's a complete step-by-step receipe for creating the one pictured above.
5. Lawn Games
Photo by Orange in Bloom
Entertain your guests with lawn games such as cornhole, croquet, hula hoops, bocce ball, and badminton.
6. Outdoor Lounge
Photo by Katelyn James Photography
Countrify your backyard with an outdoor lounge of hay bales, quilts, and wooden barrels.
7. Bonfire Desserts
Photo by MaryBeth Clouser Photography
S'mores kits are an edible favor that your guests can enjoy while keeping warm by the fire.
Not sure which wedding style you want? If you’re searching for a venue filled with charm — garden , vineyard, library, or historic home — our Style Editor’s ultimate romantic wedding guide is just for you:
From the Stationery Editor – Choose a modern invitation suite with fun graphics (like Andie and Andrew’s orJennifer and Jamie’s).
Photo: Jeff Loves Jessica
From the Fashion Editor - Flutter sleeves and delicate beading are just two of the dress details we love for romantic brides. Check out our top 10 romantic wedding dresses from Spring 2014 list!
Photos (from left to right): Jenny Packham and Sarah Janks
From the Beauty Editor - Equal parts ethereal and whimsical, a floral wreath is a must-have accessory for a romantic garden ceremony.
Photos (from left to right): Jen Huang Photography and Ryan Ray Photography
From the Jewelry Editor - Does it get any more lovely than this heart-shaped engagement ring?
Photo: The Bird and The Bear
From the Favors Editor - Boxed up or on a platter, pink macarons are a sweet send-off for guests.
Photo: Meg Perotti Photography
From the Flowers Editor - Go for loose arrangements of fluffy pastel blooms and cascading greens in your bouquets and centerpieces.
Photos (from left to right): Caroline Joy and Jessica Burke
From the Decor Editor - A delicate bloom tied with a pretty bow makes a perfect place setting accent. And, of course, there’s nothing more romantic than soft candlelight.
Photos (from left to right): Caroline Joy and Absolutely Events
From the Cakes Editor – Adorn your buttercream wedding cake with florals: garden roses, peonies, or dusty millers. See more floral wedding cakes here.
Photos (from left to right): Sweet and Saucy Shop
After you've found your cake baker, it's time to get down to business with deciding on a shape. Don't know how to choose? That's okay, here's a list of the most common:
Photo: Shelly Kroeger Photography
Round - Some may think that it's too traditional for their liking, but it's actually the perfect (plain) shape for adding textured, swirled, or sculpted frosting.
Photo: Sweet & Saucy Shop
Square - This is the modern alternative to a round shape because it's different yet still not over-the-top. Tip: Add a geometric or chevron pattern.
Photo: Dewey's Bakery
Octagon - An eight-sided wonder that will draw attention to your dessert display even without decorations.
Photo: Three Little Blackbirds
Petal - Referred to as the "scalloped" option because of it's resemblence of a flower, this is a must-have for garden wedding.
Photo: Vanilla Bake Shop
Multi-Shape - A combination of round, square, and octagon. It can even be topsy turvy too!
Celebrating your wedding day without a family member or friend who has passed on can feel bittersweet, but there are several ways to make sure his or her presence is felt throughout the day. Here are a few ideas.
Include His or Her Photo in Your Bouquet
A locket or pendant featuring a photo of a loved one can make a unique and lovely addition to your floral arrangement.
Photo by Clary Pfeiffer Photography
Carry an Heirloom
Whether it’s a handkerchief or a religious element like a rosary or Bible, you can carry a special possession that belonged to your late family member or friend as you walk down the aisle.
Photos by Erin Leigh and onelove photography
Heirloom rings provide a memory that you’ll wear every day.
Photo by Emily Alt Photography
Wear Jewelry and Accessories
From necklaces to brooches, veils to hair combs, there are lots of ways to incorporate heirloom accessories into your wedding-day look.
Photo by J. Masciana Photography
Add a Note to the Programs
Honor loved ones by including their names and a special message in your ceremony programs.
Photo by Crystal Satriano Photography
Save a Seat
Reserve a seat at the ceremony and place your family member or friend’s favorite flower on the chair as you walk down the aisle.
Photo by Caroline + Ben Photography
Play Special Music
Whether it’s walking down the aisle to his or her favorite song or playing a beloved tune during the reception, appropriate music can be a subtle but poignant reminder of your family member or friend.
Photo by The Nichols
Share photos of your loved ones (perhaps alongside candles) during the reception.
Photo by Arte de Vie
Make a Donation
In lieu of or in addition to favors, you may wish to make a donation to a cause that was meaningful to your family member or friend.
Photo by Kate Harrison Photography
Add Vintage Décor
If appropriate, you can utilize your loved ones’ favorite items in your wedding reception décor. We love how this bride used her grandfather’s film projector, among other items.
Photo by Marie Skerl Photography
Share a Favorite Hobby or Activity
If you and your grandmother loved to bake cookies together, why not serve her famous recipe as favors? Another idea from a real wedding: This bride shared her late father’s favorite cigars with her guests.
Photo by Michael Moss
Looking for more sentimental touches to add to your wedding day? Check out this inspiration board full of great ideas!
They brought you into the world, now show them you care with these creative ways to say thank you! (expert advice)
photo by: Gifts for the Good Life
Your parents have played a very big role in making your wedding spectacular. Not only did they raise you into the beautiful bride-to-be that you are, they've stood beside you through all your planning stress, offered their suggestions, and they may be funding the affair. Your parents, and your fiancé's, definitely deserve a huge thank you. Set a Budget I don't have to tell you that weddings are expensive - I'm sure you're learning that! It's important to include gift giving in your original wedding budget. There are no rules specifying an amount you should spend on gifts for your parents, but it's best to spend the same amount on both sets and to choose gifts that are somewhat similar. Some couples decide to give their parents a gift for the two of them while others select 2 separate gifts for mom and dad. Thank You Gifts for Two Giving your parents a thank you gift to enjoy together can be very meaningful and can also allow you to spend a little more on each gift. Depending on your budget, consider: Travel. Cruise tickets, hotel reservations for the weekend, or a romantic retreat to a local resort are all possible gift ideas. An evening out. Whether it's a gift card for a favorite restaurant, tickets to a show or a complete night of pampering including the limo, your parents deserve a night out to unwind after the wedding. Gift baskets. Wine baskets, gourmet food collections, or personalized his and her gift sets are terrific ways to say thank you and can fit into most any budget. Something personal. Creative gifts often hold the most meaning. Consider making a personalized video or slideshow for each set of parents, presenting them with a family photo calendar, or framing your favorite wedding pictures for a sentimental touch. Digital photo frames with a personal message are big hits with parents. For Him, For Her You may decide to honor your mom and dad with individual gifts rather than a joint thank you. If you've set a large budget, you could even do both! Ideas for dads: Personalized cufflinks to wear on the wedding day. Gift certificate to a favorite store. Wine and cheese assortment. Personalized golf accessories. Pens, intriguing paperweights, monogrammed money clips or key chains. Mothers may enjoy: Spa certificates. Earrings or a necklace for the wedding day. Bath soaps, candles, and fragrances in an elegant gift basket. Personalized photo albums, frames, or a jewelry box. Charm bracelet or necklace with a family theme. Consider your parents' interests and you'll be sure to choose thank you gifts that your parents appreciate and remember for years to come - whatever your budget.
Photos (clockwise from top left): Shaun & Skyla Walton, Taylor Lord Photography, Danyelle Matthews, Katelyn James Photography, Sweet & Saucy Shop, Katelyn James Photography, and Alixann Loosle
Need inspiration for a spring wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:
From the Stationery Editor – Ask each guest to leave their fingerprint on a framed drawing of a family tree. Check out more guestbooks here.
From the Fashion Editor – Accessorize your lace wedding gown with a statement necklace and pair of romantic, petal peep-toe platform sandals. Ask each bridesmaid to wear a different shade of pastel: blush, sage, lavender, or creamsicle.
From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of peonies, ranunculuses, sweat peas, delphiniums, orchids, and tulips are a must-have. Check out these spring centerpieces we love.
From the Cakes Editor – Place a garden-inspired cake topper on top of your wedding cake. Examples: birds, bird’s nest, robin’s eggs, birdcage, etc. Check out more cake toppers here.
From the Favors Editor – Send each guest home with a bag of seeds to plant and watch love grow or follow these DIY steps to make your own seed bomb favors.
Photo: White Loft Studio
1. Place the cake in a central location. Make sure guests have a front row. They don't want to miss the action in case your significant other decides to smush it in your face.
2. Have your DJ announce it. If you're having a buffet or plated dinner, cutting the cake follows shortly after. Don't forget to pick a song! Then, the toasting begins.
3. Cut the cake together. The groom's right hand gently holds the bride's right hand as you cut into the bottom layer.
4. Designate someone on the catering staff to serve slices to guests. This should be covered in your catering costs.
5. But your parents come first. Traditionally, the bride serves the groom's parents, and the groom serves the bride's parents.
6. Personalize cake utensils. The slice you cut together should be eaten in style with "I do" and "Me too" or "Bride" and "Groom" forks.
The engagement party is just the first of many more celebrations to come. Here are some unique ideas for your engagement party. (expert advice)
You've said 'yes' to that special man in your life and now it's time to celebrate your upcoming wedding with family and friends. This means you better start planning some sort of get-together or engagement party in order to spread the joyful news. Where do you start? First, you should come up with a suitable and available engagement party location, and possibly toss around a few ideas for an engagement party theme, which is perfect for couples who don’t want to trade traditional nuptials for a theme wedding.
Before You Get Started
Before you start brainstorming for the perfect location for your engagement party, you first need to iron out a few details, including:
• Budget: Your available budget will certainly dictate the location and other aspects of planning your engagement party. Remember – this is a party meant to announce your engagement and should in no way exceed the amount of money spent on your wedding ceremony or reception. Pinch pennies now so that you have more money to spend later.
• Guest List: The number of guests will also affect your engagement party plans, as you must find a space large enough to accommodate the people you invite.
• Party Theme: If you are centering this celebration on a particular theme, it's best to come to a final decision before browsing potential locations.
Unique Engagement Party Locations
When planning an engagement party, keep in mind that you don’t have to fall victim to the space restrictions and rules that apply to wedding locations. This means you can select sites that you'd love to have your wedding at, but just can't pull off in time or with your budget. So, this is the time to explore partying at a sports park, old movie theater, amusement park, or historic garden. Those who wish to splurge on their engagement party location may select sites that are typically reserved for weddings, which include country clubs, reception halls, and wineries. Other engagement party locations to consider, includes:
• Your favorite restaurant
• Parent's home
Unique Engagement Party Themes
Looking to celebrate your engagement in style, with a touch of humor, or absolutely off-the-wall? Consider planning an engagement party centered on a particular theme. Food, decorations, and fun activities usually mimic the theme of the evening, which may include:
• A hula bash with grass skirts and Pina Coladas by the beach
• A romantic affair with dreams of the Eiffel Tower
• Recreating important milestones in your life with your fiancé
• Ball and chain humor
• Costume ball focused on famous lovers
Photos by Perez Photography
Not sure which wedding style you want? If you’re searching for a venue with opulence — ballroom , castle, or museum — our Style Editor’s ultimate glamorous wedding guide is just for you:
From the Stationery Editor – A formal black and gold letterpress invitation suite for New Year’s Eve, perhaps?
Photo: Jupiter and Juno
From the Fashion Editor - Bejeweled shoes — the perfect compliment to body-hugging bombshell wedding dresses. See more glittery gold and silver pairs here.
Photos (from left to right): Cage & Aquarium Photography and Kurt Boomer Photo
From the Beauty Editor - Long, lush lashes are a crucial component of glam wedding makeup. Learn how to apply falsies yourself with this must-read tutorial.
Photo: Woodland Fields Photography
From the Jewelry Editor - One big rock paired with a simple diamond band–does it get more quintessentially glam than this? See more real engagement rings here.
Photo: Joy Marie Photography
From the Favors Editor - A dance-all-evening affair should end in not one, but two indulgences: decadent dessert and a nightcap. See more edible wedding favors here.
Photo: Studio Carmen Photography
From the Flowers Editor - Blanket your aisle with pretty petals, elevate your ceremony flowers with pillars, and display densely-packed arrangements in towering vases for a dramatic effect.
Photos (from left to right): Birds of a Feather and Caroline Tran
From the Decor Editor - Create the ultimate glam decor scheme with sequins, bold patterns, lavish draping, and statement lighting.
Photos (from left to right): Franciscan Gardens and Lisa Lefkowitz
From the Cakes Editor – Go for the gold and silver! Choose these metallic tones for your three-tiered sweet confection. See more gold wedding cakes here.
Photos (from left to right): Katelyn James Photography and Sweet & Saucy Shop
A Short Wedding Dress
Show off those legs! Bonnie stayed cool in a custom knee-length frock by Nina Dinh of Susan European Dressmaker for her Los Angeles wedding.
Related: 16 Short Wedding Dresses
Bright Bridesmaid Dresses
Sun-kissed skin looks best against bold colors, so let your girls stand out in saccharine shades. We love the bright orange and coral looks from Katie and Jacob's Menlo Park wedding.
Katie & Jacob's Colorful Summer Wedding
Mint Honey Favors
Place a vial of mint-infused honey at each place setting—the easy-to-make favor tastes yummy when drizzled on all sorts of desserts.
Mint Honey Favor DIY
Nothing brings us back to childhood summers quite like freezy pops. This nostalgia-inducing treat will be a big hit at any hot weather reception, guaranteed.
Tara & Harris's Crafty Summer Wedding
One of our favorite summer wedding hacks is also one of the easiest to create. Amy and Kenn attached popsicle sticks to their card stock ceremony programs, and voila! Instant fan for each guest, which was absolutely necessary for their hot Virgin Islands nuptials.
Amy & Kenn's Tropical Wedding
Picnic Rehearsal Dinner
Daisies and gingham are always appropriate additions to a picnic bench meal. See more tips for decorating a rehearsal dinner in the park in our full tutorial.
Summertime Picnic Decor Tutorial
Infused Water Table Numbers
Indoors or out, warm-weather weddings call for plenty of liquids for your guests. Keep everyone hydrated by placing bottles of flavor-infused water (we like mint, strawberry, and cucumber) at each table. They can also double as your table numbers!
View the Complete DIY
Floating floral arrangements are a great way to extend a decor theme into the parts of your reception venue that may be otherwise untouchable. We love the arrangements Petal Flower Design created for Lindsay and Luke's private residence wedding in Massachusetts.
Lindsay & Luke's Backyard Wedding
Miniature versions of this griller's favorite make the perfect passed appetizer for a summertime cocktail reception.
Zoe & John's Preppy Summer Wedding
A Drink Stand
Who doesn't love lemonade and sweet tea on a hot summer day? Set up a table exclusively dedicated to cold drinks, and designate someone to make sure the containers are always full. Everyone working up a sweat on the dance floor will be grateful!
More Drink Photos
Idea By: Sarah Zlotnick