Create inspiration boards, share ideas with your friends and wedding vendors, get feedback from brides like you, and lots more!
Photo by Frame 36 Photography
Throughout your engagement, thank-you notes will be a constant part of your life. Every time you receive a gift, you’ll need to break out your stationery and pen and hand-write a note to the giver. As much as we love technology, it’s important to write thank-you notes in the traditional way.
If you’re having a bridal shower, you’ll need to write thank you notes no later than two weeks after the event. Yes, we know you’re busy but it’s essential to show your guests your appreciation in a timely fashion - so don’t let yourself get behind. Purchase nice stationery, but don’t use any paper goods with your married name or monogram on them until after the wedding.
While your thank-you notes should be personal to each guest, there is a formula that you can follow to make writing them a snap. Here’s how it should go:
Thank you for the (name the gift)
A sentence about how much you love the gift and how you will use it.
A sentence thanking the person for attending your shower (or expressing sadness that they weren’t able to attend)
Share how you are looking forward to seeing them at the wedding (if they aren’t attending the wedding, say you’re looking forward to seeing them soon and share where you’ll likely see them – Thanksgiving dinner, at church, etc.).
Here’s an example:
Dear Aunt Suzanne,
Thank you so much for the lovely teapot. I’ve been using it every evening to make a nightly pot of tea for Sam and I. I was so glad that you could attend my bridal shower and hope you had a great time. Looking forward to seeing you at the wedding next month!
Easy, right? So get out those pens and stationery and start writing your bridal shower thank-you notes!
Photo by Kurt Boomer Photo
Ready to start planning your wedding? First things first, it’s time to lay out your budget. It’s not the most fun task, but it’s necessary to figure out how much you can spend on your wedding day before you choose a venue, meet with vendors, and buy your dress. If you’re looking for ways to save money, check out a few of our favorite ideas.
Be Flexible on Date, Time and Season: A Saturday night in September or May is probably the most expensive wedding date you can choose. Vendors will sometimes charge less to couples who get married in the off-season or on off-days. So consider getting married on a Friday, Sunday, and even Saturday morning or early afternoon in January, February or March.
Be Honest: Be upfront with potential vendors. Tell them the amount that you’ve budgeted for his or her services and see if he or she can work with that, instead of asking for a proposal and trying to bring the cost down. Vendors will appreciate your honesty, and in many cases, try their best to accommodate you if there’s any wiggle room.
Cut the Guest List: Many venues and caterers charge on a per-person basis, so the fewer guests you invite, the less you pay.
Get a Planner: This may sound confusing – how can hiring an additional vendor help you save money? Well, wedding planners often have great connections with other vendors and can help you get the best deals.
DIY Wisely: Yes, creating items for your wedding yourself can help you save money. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by trying to do too much. Instead, pick one area of your wedding that you can DIY – whether it be your favors, ceremony programs, escort cards, or something else – and focus on doing a great job on that project. Check out our DIY Editor for lots of great ideas!
Enlist Friends: Got talented friends and/or family members? Enlist them to help where they can – but only if they’re truly skilled in that area. Friends and family can also donate their time in helping you with DIY projects, or even with set up on the big day. You can even have a friend or family member officiate your ceremony!
Turn Bouquets into Centerpieces: Floral arrangements can be quite expensive, but if you use them wisely, you can save a bundle. See if any of your ceremony flowers (bouquets, altar arrangements, etc.) can be used as centerpieces at the reception. This can help you avoid paying for floral décor that you don’t need.
Shop Sample Sales: When shopping for your wedding dress, check out sample sales at area salons. However, don’t purchase a dress that completely doesn’t fit, thinking that altering the dress will be inexpensive. If a dress needs a complete overhaul, the alterations can more than double the original cost of the gown!
Think Drinks: Alcohol can be a huge budget buster. Some venues allow you to purchase your alcohol yourself, which can help you save some cash. Also, you can simply serve wine and beer, along with a signature drink or two instead of offering a fully-stocked top-shelf bar.
Something Borrowed: Instead of purchasing lots of expensive jewelry and accessories to add some sparkle to your wedding day look, look to family members and friends to help accessorize. Your grandmother’s veil, your mom’s earrings, your great aunt’s necklace, your sister’s shoes – it’s so special to wear a family heirloom on your wedding day.
Photo by Taylor Lord Photography
Not into the whole late-night-strippers-getting-wasted bachelorette party itinerary? We totally feel you. Check out these unique ideas for a bachelorette celebration that’s more about bonding than clubbing.
Spa Getaway Manicures, pedicures, massages, oh my! What’s more fun and relaxing than a day at the spa? Enjoy a ladies’ lunch and then get primped and pampered at your favorite spa getaway. Another option is to hire a manicurist to come to a ‘maid’s home for a girls’ slumber party.
Learn Together If the bridal party consists of a group of friends and family members who don’t know each other well, a great way to mix and mingle is to take a class together. From cooking to knitting, you’ll learn a new skill and bond in the process!
Get Outside! A camping trip is the perfect getaway for a group of outdoorsy type. If you’re not into camping, but still want to spend time outside, why not find a ropes course, a sailing cruise, or a scenic hike in your area? Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the great outdoors!
Get Away – Sort Of Destination bachelorette parties can be a trip to a far-off destination from the Caribbean to Mexico to Miami to Vegas, but you can also “get away” a little closer to home. Pick a nearby city or town, book a hotel room, and spend the day exploring, shopping, and hitting up new restaurants. You’ll be amazed at how fun and exciting it is to be a tourist in a town near you.
Photo Shoot Are you America’s Next Top Model? Find out when the bridal party gets together for a girls’ photoshoot. Get dolled up with professional hair and makeup and hire a professional photographer to take shots of the crew, together and individually. These casual shots will make fabulous Facebook profile pics, and will be a fun bonding experience for all!
Photo by Braedon Photography
It's a seemingly impossible situation. You've asked your nearest and dearest friends and family members to be a part of your bridal party and they all happily accepted. But now, one (or more) of them is acting "over it." She's not participating in planning the shower, complains about the bridesmaid dress you selected, and just doesn't seem to care about you or your wedding at all. Bottom line: She's being a Debbie Downer and you want her out of your bridal party. Is there a way to ask your bad-behaving bridesmaid to step down?
This is indeed a toughie, but you really can't officialy "fire" your bridesmaid. Your best bet is to start an open dialogue with her. Tell her that you're noticing she's acting differently and ask if there's anything wrong. Maybe there are issues going beyond behind the scenes that you're unaware of - she lost her job, broke up with a significant other, or is having family problems. Instead of forecefully telling her she has to step down, be gracious and ask her if there's anything you can do to make the situation easier for her. This basically gives her an "out" - and if she wants to step down, she can. However, if she wants to remain a bridesmaid, accept it and move forward with a positive attitude and the hope that things will improve. Showing her that you still care about her as a person and friend, not just as a bridesmaid, may be just what she needs to start behaving.
You've spent so much time and energy making sure that your engagement photos came out beautifully - picked the right photographer, agonized over your outfit, found the right location - so why let your photos just sit in an album? Check out some of our favorite ways to display your engagement photos at your wedding.
1. Your Save-the-Dates
Photo by Sharon Elizabeth Photography
Make your save-the-date cards uniquely yours by adding a few of your favorite engagement photos. We love how the couple pictured used both full portraits and detail shots in their save-the-dates to create a visually interesting finished product.
2. Your Guestbook
Photo by Onelove Photography
Create a bound album of your photos and allow your guests to write their well wishes inside. Your guests will love perusing your gorgeous engagement photos!
3. On a Clothesline
Photo by The Nichols
Pin your favorite engagement photos to a clothesline to create a display of your photos at your cocktail hour. It will be a beautiful focal point for your guests to enjoy as they mix and mingle.
4. Art Installation
Photo by Nadia D Photography
As your guests walk from ceremony to reception, line the walkway with a museum-worthy "installation" of blown-up engagement photos.
5. On a Tree
Photo by Stacey Bishop Photography
If you're hosting a garden-style wedding, hang engagement photos and other mementos on a large tree, which can sit on your escort card table. It's a visually interesting way to show off your photos.
Photo by James Rubio Photography
You’ll always remember the people who surrounded you on your wedding day – friends, family, loved ones. Creating your guest list is one of the first steps of wedding planning – we recommend drafting at least a preliminary list before you book a venue. Here are some of top tips for starting your guest list.
Consider Your Budget Before you can create a guest list, you’ll need to come up with your wedding budget. Remember that a small budget doesn’t have to mean a small guest list. You can have a big wedding with limited funds, but you will have to make certain sacrifices.
Set a Target Number Talk to your spouse-to-be about your vision for the day. Do you want a big or small wedding? A hometown wedding or a destination celebration (hometown weddings typically have more guests because there’s less travel)? Are there any venues you have in mind right off the bat? Come up with a target guest count and make sure you’re on the same page.
Have “The Talk” Have an honest discussion with you VIPs – those who will be contributing financially to your wedding. Express your general vision for your wedding and target number, and ask each party to create a list of their desired guests with that in mind. Make sure you emphasize that these lists aren’t final, and there’s room for discussion.
Create an A, B, and C List Using the lists you’ve received from your VIPs, create three sub-lists. The A list should include immediate family and close friends, the B list are family members and friends who would be “nice to have” at your wedding, and the C list are those you don’t have a strong relationship with. This will help you narrow down your headcount and come up with a final list (after discussing with your VIPs first).
Final Means Final Once you’ve come up with your final list, stick to it. We don’t recommend inviting certain people, waiting to see how many will attend, and then inviting others at a later time if there’s space. Your guests will find out that they weren’t on your “A” list and feel insulted. Make sure that you share your final guest list with your VIPs – you don’t want them saying “See you at the wedding!” to someone who isn’t invited.
Consider the Yield For most weddings, around 20 percent of invited guests won’t attend. However, you’re likely to have more yeses for a hometown wedding (especially if you and your spouse are from the same town) and more no’s for a far-off destination wedding.
Be Consistent Make rules and stick to them. If you don’t want any children, don’t make exceptions. If you’re not inviting plus-ones, you have to stay firm. This will help maintain your guest count and avoid hurt feelings among your guests.
Photo by Keepsake Memories Photography
Don’t stress over choosing your first dance song! With thousands of tunes to choose from, you’ll find a song that speaks to you and your almost-spouse – it’s just a matter of taking the time to look – and listen. Check out our top tips for selecting “your song.”
Think About Your History Take a look back – way back – to the most important moments in your relationship. The night you met, the first “I love you,” your proposal. Were there any songs that made those moments even more special? If there’s a song that you’ve been listening to or singing together for the duration of your relationship and feels appropriate for your wedding, go for it!
What’s Your Style? If there’s no song that immediately jumps out at you, think about your personality as a couple and the type of song you want. Something romantic and emotional or sweet and a little cheeky? Do you prefer country or rock or pop? Deciding on some general guidelines will help narrow down the thousands of choices out there.
Listen, Listen, Listen Pay more attention to the music you listen to, and be sure to visit our Songs Gallery to check out more first dance song options. Note any songs that you like, and listen to them with your fiancé(e). Ask him/her to do the same. Schedule some time each evening to listen to song options until you’ve found one you both agree on.
Consider the Lyrics While listening to potential first dance songs, pay close attention to the lyrics. Make sure there’s no inappropriate language or content that would make your Grandma Ethel blush. Some songs may sound super sappy and romantic at first listen, but the language may not be entirely wedding-appropriate.
Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow Practice dancing to the song – even if it’s just in your living room. A song should neither be too fast (hard to keep up!) nor too slow (too dull). Also consider the length of the song – a first dance song should be less than three minutes long. If your song runs too long, you can ask your band or DJ to cut it off at a certain point.
Talk to Your Band or DJ If you’re still having trouble finding a song that speaks to you, talk to your wedding band or DJ. They have lots of experience and will be able to suggest some tunes that will work with your style.
Come to an Agreement There are thousands and thousands of songs that will work well for a first dance – so don’t despair if you and your significant other don’t come to an agreement right away. This is a song that you’ll also remember and associate with your wedding, so it’s important that it’s a tune that you both can live with.
Wedding reception activities typically include dinner and dancing - but if you want to give your guests additional options, there are lots of unique (and still wedding-appropriate) entertainment ideas to choose from! Check out some of our favorite reception entertainment ideas for your wedding celebration.
Photo Booth: A perennial favorite, but an activity that guests always enjoy. To step a bit out of the box, video booths and slow-motion booths are also growing in popularity.
Photo by IQphoto
Lawn Games: Croquet, corn hole, badminton and more! Outdoor games provide a relaxed and fun atmosphere for a casual wedding celebration.
Photos by (from left): Keepsake Memories Photography; Ulmer Studios
Written Games: A word search or Mad Libs-style game can be a fun addition to a ceremony program or place setting. Guests can enjoy the silly, personalized games in between courses or while waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Photo by Genesa Richards Photography
Board Games: Scrabble, jenga and other board games can be a great way for guests to interact during the reception. Set up a games station for everyone to enjoy!
Photo by Larsen's Photography
Pinata: Hosting a destination or beach wedding? A pinata is so festive for guests of all ages. Plus, the sweet treats can serve as your favors!
Photo by Julie Saad Photography
Photo by Emily Takes Photos
Your ceremony is the most meaningful part of your wedding day. Depending on how traditional your ceremony will be, there are ways to personalize your nuptials to ensure that the experience feels true to you and your future spouse. Check out some of our favorite ways to personalize your wedding ceremony.
Check with your ceremony venue to see if you can incorporate non-classical music into your ceremony playlist. Whether it’s an instrumental version of your favorite pop ballad during the prelude or a cheeky pop tune as a recessional, selecting music that you love will give your ceremony a personal touch.
Depending on your ceremony traditions, you may be able to include a few readings into your ceremony. From Shakespeare to religious texts to more modern-day literature, pick a few passages that speak to you. You can ask close friends or family members who would feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd to perform the readings.
Many couples prefer to write their own vows. Work with your officiant to come up with a general template to help you get started.
Include personal touches to your ceremony program. Design the program using colors and fonts that you like, and write a note thanking your guests for attending. Check out some of our favorite ceremony programs here.
Be sure to meet with your officiant several times before your ceremony. It’s important that your officiant gets to know you as a couple, so that he or she can create a ceremony that includes anecdotes and details about your relationship.
Incoporate flowers and other decor items that are meaningful to you - whether it's including your grandmother's favorite flower in your altar arrangements or including a family quilt in your chuppah or ceremony canopy. Find more ceremony decor here.
Photo by Jonathan Young Weddings
Booking and confirming your wedding-day transportation is one of the most important parts of planning. Whether you’re looking to ride with your new spouse only or with your whole crew, there are lots of different transportation options to choose from! Check out some of our favorites.
Limousine The ultimate classic. A limousine is great because it’s so versatile – depending on the size you book, it can be big enough for the whole wedding party or intimate enough for just you and yours.
Classic Car Hosting a vintage wedding? There’s nothing more romantic than a throwback car, like a Rolls-Royce or Bentley. It truly makes for some glamorous photos, as well!
Shuttle Bus If you’re hosting a lot of out-of-town guests, it’s a nice idea to provide a shuttle to and from the wedding – this also discourages drinking and driving.
Horse and Carriage If you’re dreaming of the ultimate princess wedding, there’s nothing more classic than a traditional horse and carriage – particularly for winter weddings!
Pedicab For eco-friendly couples, a pedicab is a casual and cute way to arrive or exit your reception – plus it’s emission-free for the environment!
Trolley If there’s a long break between your ceremony and reception, we love the idea of taking your guests on a trolley tour of the city or town where you’re marrying.
Boat Planning a waterside wedding? Go nautical-chic by making your great escape on a boat or yacht.
Golf Cart Country club couples can get shuttled on golf carts for a fun and low-key entrance or exit.
Looking for a transportation pro near you? Check out our Vendor Gallery!