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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • It’s a classic image – a lovely little flower girl tossing petals down the aisle. However, some venues do not allow the tossing of petals (it can be a bit of a clean-up disaster, after all!), so what’s a flower girl to do? Fortunately, there are several alternatives items that are not only easy to create, but also fun for the little ones to carry during their big moment in the spotlight!

    Pomanders

    These balls of flowers (carnations are popular) feature a ribbon handle for easy carrying. Little ones may also love that they resemble a purse!


    Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

    Wands

    Your little princesses will adore carrying ribbon wands down the aisle – they’re both fun for waving throughout the wedding, and also a nice keepsake to take home!


    Photo by April B Photography

    Bouquets

    Little girls who want to feel like grown-ups will love carrying their own miniature versions of the bridesmaids’ bouquet.


    Photo by Jack Looney Photography

    Garlands

    A garland of greenery is a unique alternative to a floral arrangement, and has a very Old World, vintage-inspired feel.


    Photo by Rebecca Yale Portraits

    Signage

    Your guests will get a kick out of these fun, and often DIY, signs, as your littlest attendants carry them down the aisle.


    Photos by (left to right): Vallentyne Photography, hearts & horseshoes photography

    Find more ideas for your flower girls here »

    1
  • 9 cute and creative ways to serve your cocktails -- Cheers! 

     

    Photo by: Michelle Warren

    Water infused with mint, cucumber, and lemon -- sounds delish! 

    Photo by: Love Life Images

    Rosemary lemonade and peach iced tea displayed in an antique white cabinet -- does an outdoor reception get any more chic than this?

    Photo by: M. Norwood Photogrpahy

    Does it get more refreshing than classic lemonade in the summer?

    Photo by: Anjuli

    Going for more of an indie, DIY vibe? Store your spirits in vintage crates.

    Photo by: Hudson Nichols Photography

    We love how Jessica and Matt repurposed an old cabinet to hold their beverage supplies.

    Photo by: Karen Wise 

    Serve big batch punches in wide mouth jars. Don't forget the ladles! 

    Photo by: Neuschafer Photography

    Don't think we'll ever get tired of mason jar mugs and striped straws.

    Photo by: Jordan Ferney 

    A rainbow display of old fashioned sodas instantly doubles as reception favors. 

    Photo by: Katelyn James Photography

    Mini chalkboards and log displays are the perfect finishing touches for a rustic beverage station. 

     

     

    20
  • Whether you adore your pets or have a special place in your heart for a specific type of animal, it can be super-cute to incorporate this into your wedding décor. Here are a few ideas we’ve seen in real weddings.

    Centerpieces

    Animal topiaries are projected to be one of the hot décor items for 2015, and it’s a cute and subtle way to express your love for animals, whether you focus on a specific species or mix it up.


    Photo by James Moro Photography

    Escort Cards

    From figurines to paper cut outs, your escort cards can provide a fun nod to your animal of choice. Aside from the pig and bird options shown here, we’ve also seen escort cards dedicated to cats, elephants, horses, and more!


    Photos by (left to right) Joshua Zuckerman Photography, Gene Higa Photography

    Invitations

    We love how this invitation style doesn’t go too over-the-top with the animal motif – it’s still totally appropriate and sweet.


    Photo courtesy of April Twenty Five

    Guest Book

    What a fun idea for a guest sign-in board! Each guest signs a silhouette of a different sea creature – perfect for a wedding at an aquarium or near the water.


    Photo by Jack Looney Photography

    Cake Toppers

    We’ve seen a lot of animal cake toppers lately, but these are two of our favorites – a nod to the couple’s pet pooches and fun deer-themed style.


    Photos by (left to right) Rachel Pearlman Photography, Crystal Satriano Photography

    Check out more creative décor ideas from our Décor Editor »

    0
  • 1. The First Look 

    Photo  by: Gideon Photography

    You'll never want to forget the first time you see each other on your wedding day -- take some time before your ceremony to document this special moment. 

    2. The Classic Portrait 

    Photo by: Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Face-on, big smiles, slightly leaning in to each other. Predictable, but this photo will likely end up on your office desk (or displayed in your parent's home). 

    3. The First Kiss

    Photo by: Lindsey Gomes

    Whether it's long and passionate or a quick peck (we're not judging either way!), the first kiss after your vows is an important one. Make sure your photographer is set up for a clear view. 

    4. The Signature Location Shot

    Photo by: Gerber + Scarpelli

    Getting married in a city? Or what about your hometown? Wherever you say 'I Do', there's a bound to be a spot nearby that's especially telling of your location. Find it and strike a pose -- we guarantee you'll be grateful for the context later.

    5. A Quiet Moment

    Photo by: Ulmer Studios

    We know, we know -- the pressure's on to look perfect in your wedding pictures, and that can be hard if you tend to clam up in front of the cameras. If you're feeling nervous, take a tip from Heather and Tyler: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean in close to the person you love. You'll wind up with a gorgeous portrait you'll cherish for years to come! 

    6. A Laugh-Out-Loud Moment

    Photo by: Paper Antler

    The number one thing you'll (hopefully) remember about your wedding? How much fun you had. With any luck, your photographer will capture that sentiment in your smiles.

    7. The Prop Shot

    Photo by: Clary Photo

    Weddings these days are all about showcasing your personality as a couple, so why not do it with props? We've got a soft spot for oversize inititals, but holding up a large ampersand (&) works, too. 

    8. The First Dance 

    Photo by: Davis Photography

    Sure, you may not grace another dance floor this formally again in your life, but that doesn't make this more traditional moment any less sentimental. 

    9. The Cake Cutting 

    Photo by: Amelia Lyon Photography

    Be sure at least one picture exists of the moments before you stuff it into each other's mouths.

    10. The Faraway Shot

    Photo by: Max Wanger

    A Max Wanger signature, this long-distance portrait will remind you just how big the world is that you're about to take on together.

    11. The Send-Off Shot 

    Photo by: Annabella Charles Photography

    Sparklers, bubbles, confetti -- there's plenty of possibilities when it comes to spicing up a wedding exit! 

    10
  • Sure, a limousine is a super-luxe choice for your wedding-day transportation, but there are many more options out there! Check out these six ideas for unique wedding transportation.

    Trolley

    Not only is this a fun and unique way to travel, but we adore the idea of taking the trolley for a spin around town with your wedding party after the ceremony.


    Photo by OKRFOTO

    Double-Decker Bus

    Double-decker buses tend to hold a lot of passengers, so it’s possible that all of your guests can travel together in one of these.


    Photo by Maxwell Monty Photography

    Horse and Carriage

    Want to feel like Cinderella on your wedding day? A classic horse and carriage is the way to go!


    Photo by Elizabeth Davis Photography

    Pedicab

    If the weather’s nice and you’re into doing something a bit quirky, ride to your big day in a pedicab! It’s eco-friendly and fun!


    Photo by Arte de Vie

    School Bus

    An oh-so nostalgic form of transportation, a classic yellow school bus will be a big hit with your wedding party!


    Photo by Cappy Hotchkiss Photography

    Classic Car

    An old-school vehicle adds a vintage-glam touch to your wedding exit – and provides a fabulous photo op.


    Photo by Jeff + Amber

    For more creative wedding ideas, check out our real weddings »

    0

  • Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    We've all been there. You're at an event, wedding or otherwise, and are just plain uncomfortable. Too hot (or cold), strange food, long line for the restroom. You always vowed you'd do things differently at your wedding - and now's your chance. Here's our guide to how to make sure your wedding is memorable for the right reasons.

    Think About Your Venue When you’re venue hunting, make sure that you keep your wedding guests’ comfort in mind. Will there be enough room to give your guests breathing room? Is there accessibility for handicapped or elderly guests? What is the climate control and restroom situation? Instead of just picking a venue for its beauty, think about it as though you were a guest.

    Give Advance Notice Make sure to give your wedding guests plenty of notice when it comes to your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Save-the-dates should be sent a year in advance if you’re planning a destination wedding in a far-off locale. Six months in advance should suffice for a hometown or local wedding. And invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding. Also, make sure that you have a wedding website to provide additional updates.

    Make Travel and Accommodations Easy Speaking of your wedding website, use that platform as an easy-to-navigate home base for all of your travel and accommodation information (if there are older guests who aren’t internet savvy, call them yourself or have another relative do so to keep them informed). Reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel or two, so there’s no question about where out-of-towners should stay. Direct them to airlines, train stations, and public transportation routes that will assist them on their journey.

    Don’t Over-Ask Your guests want to come to your wedding to see you get married – so don’t make it difficult for them. There’s no need to ask them to wear something super-specific, bring a specific type of gift, or pay for their plate.  

    Welcome Them in Style Whether you’re hosting many out-of-town wedding guests or just a few, make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive to their lodging. Creating a welcome basket with ample drinks and snacks is great, but even just a kind and gracious handwritten note will suffice.

    Keep Them Comfortable If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, provide shawls or blankets if it’s chilly out and give guests fans and cold drinks if it’s super hot. And if the weather is extremely hot, cold, or just plain inclement, move the ceremony indoors. While you might not have the outdoor ceremony you expected, your guests will thank you.

    Strategize Table Assignments Be sure to seat your guests at the tables where they’ll feel most comfortable. For example, put groups of people who know each other together whether they’re in couples or single. And while it’s okay to mix single people and couples, try to avoid seating one or two single person at a table full of couples. And think table placement as well – don’t seat elderly guests right next to the band or DJ.

    Feed Them Well Make sure there’s plenty of food and drink for all to enjoy – and consider your guests who may have dietary restrictions or concerns. Most caterers can handle vegetarian, gluten-free, or other requests, so try to honor those whenever possible.

    Get Everyone Home Safely You don’t have to provide transportation for your guests, but it’s sure a nice gesture. The goal here to avoid guests drinking and driving, so while having a shuttle bus or van bring guests to the wedding and back to their hotel is your best bet, even just providing a phone number for a taxi company in the welcome bags is appreciated.


    Photo by Nancy Aidee Photography

    10
  • Your ceremony is the central focus of your wedding day. Adding some unique touches will make your ceremony feel more personal and special. Check out these five ceremony rituals that you can include in your special day.

    Knot Tying Ceremony

    In this ceremony, the couple takes two ropes and ties them together to represent their new life.


    Photo by Wren Photography

     

    Handfasting Ceremony

    This ceremony is a tradition in several cultures, including Celtic. During this ritual, ribbons are tied around the couples hands and wrists to literally “bind them together.”


    Photo by Ryan Dearth Photography

    Sand Ceremony

    Two vessels of sand are poured into one vessel, signifying the couple’s union. We’ve seen this done a few different ways—each person has a different color of sand, or each provides sand from their favorite beach.


    Photo by William Innes Photography

     

    Tree Planting Ceremony

    The couple plants and waters a tree together, which is symbolic of new life and the cultivation of their marriage.


    Photo by James Stokes Photography

     Wine Ceremony

    During this ceremony, the couple places a bottle of wine and love notes to one another into a wooden box. The box can be opened when the couple is facing difficulties in their marriage, or on a special anniversary.


    Photo by Simply Couture Photography

    Get more wedding planning tips from our advice editor »

    0

  • Photo by IQphoto Studio

    This may be one of the biggest wedding etiquette stumpers you’ll encounter during your wedding planning experience: How do you determine which of your guests get to bring a plus-one and which do not?

    Married or engaged guests or those in a long-term, committed relationship should always be invited together – even if you have never met the spouse or partner. For those guests who are unattached or casually dating, it’s your call. You could nix any plus-ones for your single guests, or you may decide to allow your single wedding party members to bring plus-ones, but no one else. Or you could invite all of your single guests with plus-ones. The most important thing is to make a rule and stand your ground – no exceptions. And be prepared to explain your reasoning in case a guest asks you to bend the rules “just this once.”  

    If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to allow your single friends to bring a plus-one, it may be worth considering the rest of your guest list – if you’re inviting many couples and there are only a few single guests, you may want to consider inviting them with an “and guest” – they’ll appreciate having the option. But if you have budget or venue capacity constraints, you certainly do not have to invite plus-ones.

    3

  • Photo by Nadia D Photography

    Your littlest guests may be the ones to cause the most anxiety. If you decide to invite children to your wedding, it’s important to consider their needs when planning your day. If you follow these simple rules, your young guests can be adorable additions to your day.

    Decide Who You’re Inviting: Make a rule and stick to it. If you’re open to having all the children of all of your guests attend, do so – particularly if you’re having a super-casual celebration. You can allow only children over a certain age to attend your wedding. You may choose to only invite the children in your wedding party and that’s it. Or you may prefer to have a child-free wedding. Whatever you decide, don’t make any exceptions or risk causing hurt feelings and confusion.

    Pick Your Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Wisely: These roles are best suited for children of close relatives or friends, ages 3 to 7. Talk to your flower girl and ring bearer in advance about how important their role is and how much it means to you that they’ll be a part of your special day. Provide their parents with the music that will play when they walk down the aisle so they can practice. And if all else fails, bribery always work! Make sure you get your flower girls and ring bearers small gifts to reward them for a successful walk down the aisle.

    Let Them Feel Grown-Up: If you are inviting children who are not in the wedding party, feel free to give them small tasks so they feel like they have a role in your day. They can hand out ceremony programs, give out favors, hold your bouquet while you’re getting a makeup touch-up – even the smallest of tasks will help little ones feel important.

    Lay Some Ground Rules: This should be common knowledge for most parents, but before the wedding, tell your guests with kids that if a child starts to become loud or distracting at the ceremony, they should be immediately removed from the premises.  

    Smile! If you’re concerned about children smiling for portraits, have a parent or grandparent of the child stand behind the camera with a puppet or singing a favorite song. And be sure to make your photo sessions with kids very short (like, a minute or two) – little ones will not stand still for very long, so take a few shots and then set them free!

    Offer Activities: Ask the invited children’s parents if their little ones would prefer sitting at a table with other children or staying close to their parents. Whether you create a kids’ table or allow children to sit with their parents, be sure that you offer lots of entertainment for them – games, coloring books, and small toys (that don’t make noise!) are all good ideas.   

    Kid-Friendly Food: Sure, you may be offering gourmet cuisine at your wedding, but for kids, chicken fingers and grilled cheese is their dinner of choice. Be sure to have kid-friendly meal options for your smallest guest – and be sure to ask parents in advance of any allergies or preferences.

    Offer Babysitting: It’s not necessary, but having babysitting at your reception site is a very kind gesture for your guests with children. If your reception will run until late in the night, ask your littlest guests to bring sleeping bags and create a fun slumber party environment.  

    Don’t Sweat It: No matter how much you prepare, children will misbehave and act out. If a child behaves poorly at an inopportune moment, just laugh it off – the unexpected moments are often the most endearing of the day.

    3

  • Photo by Michelle Lindsay Photography

    The bridal shower is an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate a bride’s upcoming nuptials. While it should be a fun and relaxed event, there are lots of questions and etiquette concerns that often arise. Check out our top do’s and don’ts for planning a bridal shower.

    DON’T invite people who aren’t going to be invited to the wedding. The only exception would be if you’re having an extremely small wedding (like, less than 20 people) and your guests know and understand this in advance. Also, if your office is hosting a shower for you, not everyone you work with needs to be invited to the wedding.

    DON’T host the shower yourself – it looks like you’re asking for gifts. Normally, the maid of honor and bridesmaids host the bridal shower, but it is acceptable for family members (yours or your future spouse’s) to throw you a shower if the situation is appropriate.

    DO allow multiple parties to throw a shower for you, if they want. But DON’T expect guests who are invited to multiple showers to bring more than one gift. They only need to bring a gift to the first shower they attend.

    DON’T use the wedding décor as inspiration for the bridal shower. The bridal shower should have its own theme and color scheme – let the wedding’s décor be a surprise!

    DO send a paper invitation, rather than via email.

    DON’T include registry information on the shower invitation. It may be noted on an insert, or guests may be directed to the couple’s wedding website which can feature registry information.

    DO set up an activity for guests. This will allow everyone to meet, mix and mingle. From a toilet paper wedding dress contest to a cooking class, a group activity will liven up any bridal shower.

    DO create a ribbon bouquet. We love this tradition, a bridesmaid or other attendee can gather all of the ribbons from the gifts and create a bouquet for the bride to carry at the rehearsal. Just be sure that the bride takes it home with her!

    DO thank everyone promptly. Send handwritten notes to the attendees thanking them for their gift, and give a small gift to the hostess or hostesses (some ideas: a personalized mug or a gift certificate for a manicure).

    DON’T stress about your shower. This is a party that’s thrown for you, so allow others to do the work and enjoy the day! 

    7
  • It’s a classic image – a lovely little flower girl tossing petals down the aisle. However, some venues do not allow the tossing of petals (it can be a bit of a clean-up disaster, after all!), so what’s a flower girl to do? Fortunately, there are several alternatives items that are not only easy to create, but also fun for the little ones to carry during their big moment in the spotlight!

    Pomanders

    These balls of flowers (carnations are popular) feature a ribbon handle for easy carrying. Little ones may also love that they resemble a purse!


    Photo by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

    Wands

    Your little princesses will adore carrying ribbon wands down the aisle – they’re both fun for waving throughout the wedding, and also a nice keepsake to take home!


    Photo by April B Photography

    Bouquets

    Little girls who want to feel like grown-ups will love carrying their own miniature versions of the bridesmaids’ bouquet.


    Photo by Jack Looney Photography

    Garlands

    A garland of greenery is a unique alternative to a floral arrangement, and has a very Old World, vintage-inspired feel.


    Photo by Rebecca Yale Portraits

    Signage

    Your guests will get a kick out of these fun, and often DIY, signs, as your littlest attendants carry them down the aisle.


    Photos by (left to right): Vallentyne Photography, hearts & horseshoes photography

    Find more ideas for your flower girls here »

    1
  • 9 cute and creative ways to serve your cocktails -- Cheers! 

     

    Photo by: Michelle Warren

    Water infused with mint, cucumber, and lemon -- sounds delish! 

    Photo by: Love Life Images

    Rosemary lemonade and peach iced tea displayed in an antique white cabinet -- does an outdoor reception get any more chic than this?

    Photo by: M. Norwood Photogrpahy

    Does it get more refreshing than classic lemonade in the summer?

    Photo by: Anjuli

    Going for more of an indie, DIY vibe? Store your spirits in vintage crates.

    Photo by: Hudson Nichols Photography

    We love how Jessica and Matt repurposed an old cabinet to hold their beverage supplies.

    Photo by: Karen Wise 

    Serve big batch punches in wide mouth jars. Don't forget the ladles! 

    Photo by: Neuschafer Photography

    Don't think we'll ever get tired of mason jar mugs and striped straws.

    Photo by: Jordan Ferney 

    A rainbow display of old fashioned sodas instantly doubles as reception favors. 

    Photo by: Katelyn James Photography

    Mini chalkboards and log displays are the perfect finishing touches for a rustic beverage station. 

     

     

    20
  • Whether you adore your pets or have a special place in your heart for a specific type of animal, it can be super-cute to incorporate this into your wedding décor. Here are a few ideas we’ve seen in real weddings.

    Centerpieces

    Animal topiaries are projected to be one of the hot décor items for 2015, and it’s a cute and subtle way to express your love for animals, whether you focus on a specific species or mix it up.


    Photo by James Moro Photography

    Escort Cards

    From figurines to paper cut outs, your escort cards can provide a fun nod to your animal of choice. Aside from the pig and bird options shown here, we’ve also seen escort cards dedicated to cats, elephants, horses, and more!


    Photos by (left to right) Joshua Zuckerman Photography, Gene Higa Photography

    Invitations

    We love how this invitation style doesn’t go too over-the-top with the animal motif – it’s still totally appropriate and sweet.


    Photo courtesy of April Twenty Five

    Guest Book

    What a fun idea for a guest sign-in board! Each guest signs a silhouette of a different sea creature – perfect for a wedding at an aquarium or near the water.


    Photo by Jack Looney Photography

    Cake Toppers

    We’ve seen a lot of animal cake toppers lately, but these are two of our favorites – a nod to the couple’s pet pooches and fun deer-themed style.


    Photos by (left to right) Rachel Pearlman Photography, Crystal Satriano Photography

    Check out more creative décor ideas from our Décor Editor »

    0
  • 1. The First Look 

    Photo  by: Gideon Photography

    You'll never want to forget the first time you see each other on your wedding day -- take some time before your ceremony to document this special moment. 

    2. The Classic Portrait 

    Photo by: Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Face-on, big smiles, slightly leaning in to each other. Predictable, but this photo will likely end up on your office desk (or displayed in your parent's home). 

    3. The First Kiss

    Photo by: Lindsey Gomes

    Whether it's long and passionate or a quick peck (we're not judging either way!), the first kiss after your vows is an important one. Make sure your photographer is set up for a clear view. 

    4. The Signature Location Shot

    Photo by: Gerber + Scarpelli

    Getting married in a city? Or what about your hometown? Wherever you say 'I Do', there's a bound to be a spot nearby that's especially telling of your location. Find it and strike a pose -- we guarantee you'll be grateful for the context later.

    5. A Quiet Moment

    Photo by: Ulmer Studios

    We know, we know -- the pressure's on to look perfect in your wedding pictures, and that can be hard if you tend to clam up in front of the cameras. If you're feeling nervous, take a tip from Heather and Tyler: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean in close to the person you love. You'll wind up with a gorgeous portrait you'll cherish for years to come! 

    6. A Laugh-Out-Loud Moment

    Photo by: Paper Antler

    The number one thing you'll (hopefully) remember about your wedding? How much fun you had. With any luck, your photographer will capture that sentiment in your smiles.

    7. The Prop Shot

    Photo by: Clary Photo

    Weddings these days are all about showcasing your personality as a couple, so why not do it with props? We've got a soft spot for oversize inititals, but holding up a large ampersand (&) works, too. 

    8. The First Dance 

    Photo by: Davis Photography

    Sure, you may not grace another dance floor this formally again in your life, but that doesn't make this more traditional moment any less sentimental. 

    9. The Cake Cutting 

    Photo by: Amelia Lyon Photography

    Be sure at least one picture exists of the moments before you stuff it into each other's mouths.

    10. The Faraway Shot

    Photo by: Max Wanger

    A Max Wanger signature, this long-distance portrait will remind you just how big the world is that you're about to take on together.

    11. The Send-Off Shot 

    Photo by: Annabella Charles Photography

    Sparklers, bubbles, confetti -- there's plenty of possibilities when it comes to spicing up a wedding exit! 

    10
  • Sure, a limousine is a super-luxe choice for your wedding-day transportation, but there are many more options out there! Check out these six ideas for unique wedding transportation.

    Trolley

    Not only is this a fun and unique way to travel, but we adore the idea of taking the trolley for a spin around town with your wedding party after the ceremony.


    Photo by OKRFOTO

    Double-Decker Bus

    Double-decker buses tend to hold a lot of passengers, so it’s possible that all of your guests can travel together in one of these.


    Photo by Maxwell Monty Photography

    Horse and Carriage

    Want to feel like Cinderella on your wedding day? A classic horse and carriage is the way to go!


    Photo by Elizabeth Davis Photography

    Pedicab

    If the weather’s nice and you’re into doing something a bit quirky, ride to your big day in a pedicab! It’s eco-friendly and fun!


    Photo by Arte de Vie

    School Bus

    An oh-so nostalgic form of transportation, a classic yellow school bus will be a big hit with your wedding party!


    Photo by Cappy Hotchkiss Photography

    Classic Car

    An old-school vehicle adds a vintage-glam touch to your wedding exit – and provides a fabulous photo op.


    Photo by Jeff + Amber

    For more creative wedding ideas, check out our real weddings »

    0

  • Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    We've all been there. You're at an event, wedding or otherwise, and are just plain uncomfortable. Too hot (or cold), strange food, long line for the restroom. You always vowed you'd do things differently at your wedding - and now's your chance. Here's our guide to how to make sure your wedding is memorable for the right reasons.

    Think About Your Venue When you’re venue hunting, make sure that you keep your wedding guests’ comfort in mind. Will there be enough room to give your guests breathing room? Is there accessibility for handicapped or elderly guests? What is the climate control and restroom situation? Instead of just picking a venue for its beauty, think about it as though you were a guest.

    Give Advance Notice Make sure to give your wedding guests plenty of notice when it comes to your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Save-the-dates should be sent a year in advance if you’re planning a destination wedding in a far-off locale. Six months in advance should suffice for a hometown or local wedding. And invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding. Also, make sure that you have a wedding website to provide additional updates.

    Make Travel and Accommodations Easy Speaking of your wedding website, use that platform as an easy-to-navigate home base for all of your travel and accommodation information (if there are older guests who aren’t internet savvy, call them yourself or have another relative do so to keep them informed). Reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel or two, so there’s no question about where out-of-towners should stay. Direct them to airlines, train stations, and public transportation routes that will assist them on their journey.

    Don’t Over-Ask Your guests want to come to your wedding to see you get married – so don’t make it difficult for them. There’s no need to ask them to wear something super-specific, bring a specific type of gift, or pay for their plate.  

    Welcome Them in Style Whether you’re hosting many out-of-town wedding guests or just a few, make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive to their lodging. Creating a welcome basket with ample drinks and snacks is great, but even just a kind and gracious handwritten note will suffice.

    Keep Them Comfortable If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, provide shawls or blankets if it’s chilly out and give guests fans and cold drinks if it’s super hot. And if the weather is extremely hot, cold, or just plain inclement, move the ceremony indoors. While you might not have the outdoor ceremony you expected, your guests will thank you.

    Strategize Table Assignments Be sure to seat your guests at the tables where they’ll feel most comfortable. For example, put groups of people who know each other together whether they’re in couples or single. And while it’s okay to mix single people and couples, try to avoid seating one or two single person at a table full of couples. And think table placement as well – don’t seat elderly guests right next to the band or DJ.

    Feed Them Well Make sure there’s plenty of food and drink for all to enjoy – and consider your guests who may have dietary restrictions or concerns. Most caterers can handle vegetarian, gluten-free, or other requests, so try to honor those whenever possible.

    Get Everyone Home Safely You don’t have to provide transportation for your guests, but it’s sure a nice gesture. The goal here to avoid guests drinking and driving, so while having a shuttle bus or van bring guests to the wedding and back to their hotel is your best bet, even just providing a phone number for a taxi company in the welcome bags is appreciated.


    Photo by Nancy Aidee Photography

    10
  • Your ceremony is the central focus of your wedding day. Adding some unique touches will make your ceremony feel more personal and special. Check out these five ceremony rituals that you can include in your special day.

    Knot Tying Ceremony

    In this ceremony, the couple takes two ropes and ties them together to represent their new life.


    Photo by Wren Photography

     

    Handfasting Ceremony

    This ceremony is a tradition in several cultures, including Celtic. During this ritual, ribbons are tied around the couples hands and wrists to literally “bind them together.”


    Photo by Ryan Dearth Photography

    Sand Ceremony

    Two vessels of sand are poured into one vessel, signifying the couple’s union. We’ve seen this done a few different ways—each person has a different color of sand, or each provides sand from their favorite beach.


    Photo by William Innes Photography

     

    Tree Planting Ceremony

    The couple plants and waters a tree together, which is symbolic of new life and the cultivation of their marriage.


    Photo by James Stokes Photography

     Wine Ceremony

    During this ceremony, the couple places a bottle of wine and love notes to one another into a wooden box. The box can be opened when the couple is facing difficulties in their marriage, or on a special anniversary.


    Photo by Simply Couture Photography

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  • Photo by IQphoto Studio

    This may be one of the biggest wedding etiquette stumpers you’ll encounter during your wedding planning experience: How do you determine which of your guests get to bring a plus-one and which do not?

    Married or engaged guests or those in a long-term, committed relationship should always be invited together – even if you have never met the spouse or partner. For those guests who are unattached or casually dating, it’s your call. You could nix any plus-ones for your single guests, or you may decide to allow your single wedding party members to bring plus-ones, but no one else. Or you could invite all of your single guests with plus-ones. The most important thing is to make a rule and stand your ground – no exceptions. And be prepared to explain your reasoning in case a guest asks you to bend the rules “just this once.”  

    If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to allow your single friends to bring a plus-one, it may be worth considering the rest of your guest list – if you’re inviting many couples and there are only a few single guests, you may want to consider inviting them with an “and guest” – they’ll appreciate having the option. But if you have budget or venue capacity constraints, you certainly do not have to invite plus-ones.

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  • Photo by Nadia D Photography

    Your littlest guests may be the ones to cause the most anxiety. If you decide to invite children to your wedding, it’s important to consider their needs when planning your day. If you follow these simple rules, your young guests can be adorable additions to your day.

    Decide Who You’re Inviting: Make a rule and stick to it. If you’re open to having all the children of all of your guests attend, do so – particularly if you’re having a super-casual celebration. You can allow only children over a certain age to attend your wedding. You may choose to only invite the children in your wedding party and that’s it. Or you may prefer to have a child-free wedding. Whatever you decide, don’t make any exceptions or risk causing hurt feelings and confusion.

    Pick Your Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Wisely: These roles are best suited for children of close relatives or friends, ages 3 to 7. Talk to your flower girl and ring bearer in advance about how important their role is and how much it means to you that they’ll be a part of your special day. Provide their parents with the music that will play when they walk down the aisle so they can practice. And if all else fails, bribery always work! Make sure you get your flower girls and ring bearers small gifts to reward them for a successful walk down the aisle.

    Let Them Feel Grown-Up: If you are inviting children who are not in the wedding party, feel free to give them small tasks so they feel like they have a role in your day. They can hand out ceremony programs, give out favors, hold your bouquet while you’re getting a makeup touch-up – even the smallest of tasks will help little ones feel important.

    Lay Some Ground Rules: This should be common knowledge for most parents, but before the wedding, tell your guests with kids that if a child starts to become loud or distracting at the ceremony, they should be immediately removed from the premises.  

    Smile! If you’re concerned about children smiling for portraits, have a parent or grandparent of the child stand behind the camera with a puppet or singing a favorite song. And be sure to make your photo sessions with kids very short (like, a minute or two) – little ones will not stand still for very long, so take a few shots and then set them free!

    Offer Activities: Ask the invited children’s parents if their little ones would prefer sitting at a table with other children or staying close to their parents. Whether you create a kids’ table or allow children to sit with their parents, be sure that you offer lots of entertainment for them – games, coloring books, and small toys (that don’t make noise!) are all good ideas.   

    Kid-Friendly Food: Sure, you may be offering gourmet cuisine at your wedding, but for kids, chicken fingers and grilled cheese is their dinner of choice. Be sure to have kid-friendly meal options for your smallest guest – and be sure to ask parents in advance of any allergies or preferences.

    Offer Babysitting: It’s not necessary, but having babysitting at your reception site is a very kind gesture for your guests with children. If your reception will run until late in the night, ask your littlest guests to bring sleeping bags and create a fun slumber party environment.  

    Don’t Sweat It: No matter how much you prepare, children will misbehave and act out. If a child behaves poorly at an inopportune moment, just laugh it off – the unexpected moments are often the most endearing of the day.

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  • Photo by Michelle Lindsay Photography

    The bridal shower is an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate a bride’s upcoming nuptials. While it should be a fun and relaxed event, there are lots of questions and etiquette concerns that often arise. Check out our top do’s and don’ts for planning a bridal shower.

    DON’T invite people who aren’t going to be invited to the wedding. The only exception would be if you’re having an extremely small wedding (like, less than 20 people) and your guests know and understand this in advance. Also, if your office is hosting a shower for you, not everyone you work with needs to be invited to the wedding.

    DON’T host the shower yourself – it looks like you’re asking for gifts. Normally, the maid of honor and bridesmaids host the bridal shower, but it is acceptable for family members (yours or your future spouse’s) to throw you a shower if the situation is appropriate.

    DO allow multiple parties to throw a shower for you, if they want. But DON’T expect guests who are invited to multiple showers to bring more than one gift. They only need to bring a gift to the first shower they attend.

    DON’T use the wedding décor as inspiration for the bridal shower. The bridal shower should have its own theme and color scheme – let the wedding’s décor be a surprise!

    DO send a paper invitation, rather than via email.

    DON’T include registry information on the shower invitation. It may be noted on an insert, or guests may be directed to the couple’s wedding website which can feature registry information.

    DO set up an activity for guests. This will allow everyone to meet, mix and mingle. From a toilet paper wedding dress contest to a cooking class, a group activity will liven up any bridal shower.

    DO create a ribbon bouquet. We love this tradition, a bridesmaid or other attendee can gather all of the ribbons from the gifts and create a bouquet for the bride to carry at the rehearsal. Just be sure that the bride takes it home with her!

    DO thank everyone promptly. Send handwritten notes to the attendees thanking them for their gift, and give a small gift to the hostess or hostesses (some ideas: a personalized mug or a gift certificate for a manicure).

    DON’T stress about your shower. This is a party that’s thrown for you, so allow others to do the work and enjoy the day! 

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