Creating Beautiful Celebrations!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Do’s and Don’ts for Planning your Wedding Reception

DO: Book your reception venue as soon as possible, ideally within several weeks after getting engaged and selecting your wedding date.

DO: Go together as bride and groom to various possible reception sites. Arrange meetings with a representative from each location. Ask about pricing, special features and amenities. Inquire about sample menus if the reception site requires that you use their own catering service.

DO: Brainstorm together what you both consider to be your “ideal wedding reception.”

DO: Consider different creative places to hold your wedding reception: hall, restaurant, art gallery, museum, church, park, country club, own home or family’s home.

DO: Remember the following expenses that need to be planned and budgeted for:

  • rental of reception site
  • flowers/centerpieces
  • equipment rentals - linens, tables, chairs
  • entertainment – band or DJ
  • lighting and sound system

DO: Think about the following catering fees:

  • cost of catering services
  • cost of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks; decide whether or not to serve alcohol; cash bar versus open bar
  • cost of desserts and appetizers

DO: Decide as a couple whether you would like to have buffet-style or traditional plate-dinners served by the wait staff.

DO: Remember that a lunch reception is less expensive than a dinner reception.

DO: Regarding menu options, make sure that both the bride and the groom get the opportunity to sample all of the different menu options, including the appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and desserts.

DO: Look in wedding magazines and search on-line wedding websites for photographs of various wedding reception. Figure out what flowers, decorations, colors and themes appeal to both the bride and the groom.

DO: Cut out photos from magazines or print out photos from websites of wedding reception decor that you enjoy.

DO: Talk to family and friends in order to find out what DJ or band or musicians they hired for their weddings. Get recommendations from family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

DO: Meet with at least two or three different DJs or bands. Find out what genres of music they specialize in and what types of music they feel comfortable playing. Listen to the band or musicians play one or two sample songs for you

DON’T: Invite friends, family, coworkers, neighbors simply because you feel obligated to invite them.

DO: Invite the people who genuinely support you two as a couple. Keep it smaller and more intimate.

DO: Plan your seating arrangement carefully.

DO: Seat family members and couples together.

DON’T: Seat strangers together.

DON’T: Seat people who don’t get along together.

DON'T: Wait too long to hire a wedding planner. They can save you time, headaches and money by being your guide and liaison during the wedding planning process.

How To Choose The Perfect Wedding Dress

Congratulations, bride-to-be, on your engagement! As you begin your journey towards becoming husband and wife, close your eyes and envision how you want to look on your wedding day. Long traditional bridal gown with cascading train? Knee-length strapless dress with short silk veil? Every little girl dreams about getting married someday and walking down the aisle in a beautiful dress.

Here are a variety of tips and suggestions for selecting the perfect bridal gown that are sure to make things easier.

1) Ask your trusted friends and family about where they purchased their wedding dresses.

2) Ask to look at photographs of friends, family and co-workers wedding dresses to gather some new ideas.

3)Look at and research wedding dresses online. Ask friends and family to recommend bridal websites they have used.

4) Purchase subscriptions to several good quality wedding magazines to search for ideas. Pay attention to the specific styles, fabrics, and colors that appeal to you. Cut out photos of wedding dresses that you like and place them in a notebook or scrapbook that you can take with you when you shop.

5) Have your mother and/or bridesmaids accompany you to various wedding boutiques. Try on various dresses. Avoid settling for first or second dress you try on. Don’t settle shopping in just one boutique, check as many as you can find.

6) Consider putting several possible dresses on hold and return to the wedding boutique several days later to try on the dresses again with a fresh perspective. This will help you have the time needed to properly take everything in and avoid making an impulsive decision.

7) Consider the style that you want:

  • with straps
  • with long sleeves
  • with short sleeves
  • high-waist
  • low-waist

8) Consider the length that best suits your needs and fits the theme of your wedding:

  • floor length dress with long train
  • floor length dress with short train
  • floor length dress with no train
  • ankle length dress with or without train
  • knee-length dress

9) Think about the head-piece that you desire:

  • long veil
  • short veil
  • no veil
  • tiara

10) Think about the color that you would like:

  • shades of white
  • shades of ivory
  • shade of cream

11) Consider the material/ fabric that you would feel most comfortable in:

  • silk
  • satin
  • lace
  • chiffon
  • brocade
  • organza
  • taffeta
  • velvet

12) Consider your body type and what dress style best flatters your figure.

13) Consider the month of your wedding and the typical weather at that time.

14) Consider the destination of your wedding:

  • local wedding – traditional theme – cold or warm
  • destination wedding – casual theme – tropical or cool

15) Consider any cultural or familial traditions that you want to uphold.

16) Try on your bridal shoes with your gown:

  • flats
  • small heel
  • high heel
  • sandals

17) Purchase jewelry that compliments your body type, face and your wedding dress.

18) Practice good time management. Begin looking for your dress shortly after getting engaged, so that you allow for plenty of time to shop at various boutiques and getting necessary fittings and alterations.

You'll be beautiful in your dream dress!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why Wedding Cake?

Modern Wedding Cake & Traditional Croquembouche

Have you ever wondered why we have wedding cakes? Why we spend so much money on a dessert that many of your guests won't eat? But there it sits on display for all to admire.
A wedding cake is the traditional cake served to the guests at a wedding reception (or in parts of England, at a wedding breakfast) after a wedding. In modern Western culture, it is usually a large cake, multi-layered or tiered, and heavily decorated with icing, usually over a layer of marzipan or fondant. Achieving a dense, strong cake that can support the decorations while remaining edible can be considered the epitome of the baker's art and skill.

Symbolism: The wedding cake is a tradition that began back in the Roman Empire. At the time, it was a loaf of bread that the groom broke over the bride's head as a symbol of his dominance in the marriage and over her. (The pieces that fell to the floor were scooped up by guests & placed under their pillows while they slept, to ensure good luck from the couples joining. This is where the tradition of wedding favors come from) The color of the cake is typically white to symbolize purity. The action of the bride and groom cutting the cake is meant to symbolize their first joint task in married life. The gesture of feeding cake to one another is a symbol of the commitment the bride and groom are making.

One of the earliest forms of the wedding cake is the French Croquembouche. The legend of this cake says that a pastry chef, visiting medieval England, witnessed their tradition of piling sweet rolls between the bride and groom which they would attempt to kiss over without knocking them all down. The pastry chef then went back to France and piled sweet rolls up into a tower to make the first Croquembouche.

Why Toppers?: Wedding cake toppers are small models that sit on top of the cake, normally a representation of a bride and groom in formal wedding attire. This custom was dominant in US weddings in the 1950s where it represented the concept of togetherness. Wedding toppers today are often figures that indicate shared hobbies or other passions, if they are used at all.

Wedding Flowers Not Just Green in Color!

Your dream reception is coming to an end. The lights are coming on. Your guests are beginning to leave. The tables have been cleared…except for the centerpieces. Ah…the centerpieces. What to do with centerpieces? Having the catering or venue staff throw them away (which happens ALL THE TIME) is not a great GREEN option. Greening your wedding should be all about Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. Here are some ideas about what to do with your wedding flowers and centerpieces when the wedding is over.

Share Them: You can always encourage guests to take the flowers home with them. This is a nice way to have the flowers do "double duty." It’s also always nice to give flowers to people — since they make people so HAPPY! One thing to think about is whether you want your guests to take glassware or just the flowers. Lots of times, glassware is rented from the florist. In this case, tell the catering or venue staff or your wedding planner that people should be encouraged to take the flowers but leave the vase.

Donate Them: Last year, we had several socially conscious couples donate their flowers/centerpieces. Centerpieces can be made out of locally grown fruits and veggies displayed in an eclectic mix of bowls, plates and cake platters. The centerpieces look amazing, but you can also make arrangements with the Local Area Food Bank to pick up the produce at the end of the night and donate it to needy individuals and families.

Compost Them: You can always compost your flowers! What a great way to give back to the earth. The easiest way to compost your flowers is to ask your florist or caterer to compost them for you. If they don’t compost, you can hire a commercial composting company to come to the reception site, pick up the flowers and compost them. There are a million good reasons to compost (but that’s a whole other post!). For now, let’s just say it’s great for the earth and totally worth the effort.

Getting the most out of your wedding flowers is another great way to Green your wedding!

Ice Blue Wedding

With winter just around the corner, many brides are wondering how to incorporate a winter theme into their wedding, and not have it feel like a Christmas party.
If you are planning a winter wedding, consider making your color palette a simple combination of silvery ice blue and winter white to reflect the season.

* This white floral bouquet is wrapped with silvery blue ribbon and contains tiny pine cones to go with the winter theme

* These beautiful snowflake bookmarks can double as table decor and guest favors

* The Lucite pedestal and ice blue colored ribbon on this cake add a wintery feel to the confection

* Present each bridesmaid with a beautiful winter white wrap

* Send guests this lovely ice blue and white invitation — Exquisite Invitations

* Consider ordering patterned tablecloths to add texture to your party space

Just because you use Christmas decorations as your centerpiece it doesn’t have to look "Christmassy", they can be used anytime of the year as they are sparkly. Look out for the ones that are plain and match your wedding color and the cheapest time to buy them is straight after Christmas so you can take advantage of the sales.

Be creative, use your imagination and let your brain take control. Before you know it, you'll have come up with all sorts of clever ideas to incorporate into your winter wedding theme!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Winter Wonderland Wedding?

Winter is filled with special holidays, festivities, family gatherings and romance. This lends to a most magical time for weddings. Those that revel in the unique and out-of-the box are more apt to go for a winter wedding date. There are trends toward cozy homey comforts that lend well to a winter wedding that will saturate the senses and make your guests say "Wow!'

Since winter is filled with special holidays it's so easy to tailor your wedding to the season and all the beautiful opulent ornamentation that's already at hand. Whether your wedding is closer to Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years so much decor is available to add sizzle to your magical day. A few items that add wintery appeal are: holly leaves, berries, pine cones, ivy leaves, pomegranates, fir branches, evergreen branches, naked wintery branches, small Christmas ornament balls or bells, glittery snowflakes and seasonal ribbon.

While there are some disadvantages to having a winter wedding, there are some significant advantages. If you want a wedding that will be beautiful and truly unique, there are lots of different winter themes for weddings that are unique and can only be held in the winter months that will make your wedding very personal and very special.

The Advantages of a Winter Wedding
When thinking about whether or not to have a winter wedding, here are some of the many advantages to consider:

* You can save a lot of money. By holding it in the winter you can save up to half the cost of a traditional summer wedding and get more for your money since winter is considered as "off wedding season".
* You can get exactly what you want. It’s more likely that you will be able to get the hall, restaurant, church, or other location of your choice. But since not that many people get married in the winter, the same popular locations are usually available during the winter, sometimes at a reduced cost.
* More of your loved ones may be able to attend. By holding your wedding in the winter it’s more likely that family and friends will have fewer social commitments and thus will be free to attend your wedding.
* Winter weddings are different. Do you want your wedding to stand out and be memorable, a winter wedding can be a great way to do something new and different for your wedding.

The Disadvantages of a Winter Wedding
While there are a lot of great reasons to have a winter wedding, there are, of course, some downsides to having a winter wedding that should be considered before definitely choosing to have winter wedding. There are ways to overcome these issues, but it’s up to you to decide if a winter wedding is right for you.

* The weather might not be what you expect. Obviously, in southern climates you’d expect it to be cold, rainy and maybe even snowy. Bad weather could mean that family and friends wouldn’t be able to make it to the ceremony. The weather might not be terrible - it usually isn’t; but it might be too mild, which can also ruin wedding plans. If you are envisioning a beautiful snowy landscape for your wedding, or arriving in a horse drawn sleigh, and there is no snow then your wedding plans could fall flat fast.
* A winter wedding might cause holiday complications. While you might love the idea of a Christmas theme wedding full of red and green and gold and traditional Christmas elements, your family and friends might not want to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at a wedding. Also, holidays are a prime travel time and it might be expensive and time consuming for friends and relatives who need to travel to make it to the wedding.

These disadvantages can be easily overcome with proper planning and some creativity, there is no stopping you from having a successful and romantic winter wedding of your dreams!

What "Day Of Coordination" Is (and is NOT)

Brides seeking wedding planning assistance generally fall into two categories: Full Service ("I’m overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start, I need all the help I can get!") and Day Of ("I’m a hands-on kind of gal, I’ve got lots of help, I just need a little assistance along the way"). With the onslaught of wedding planning blogs, magazines, TV shows and books along with the downturn in the economy, more and more Day Of Brides are surfacing. Being a crafty, creative, practical, "hands-on" type myself, I can totally appreciate the Day Of Bride. But with this continuing emergence of the DIY wedding, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what "Day Of Coordination" actually means….

A Day Of wedding package means that the Bride is responsible for doing the majority of her own planning. In order for your Planner to do her job (and do it WELL), she needs to know every detail you have planned. No detail is too small here. If your Aunt Shelly suddenly decides to sing a solo during the ceremony, the Planner needs to know. If you are considering including a sand ceremony with your vows or want to surprise your new Scottish family with a special bagpipe performance in the middle of dinner, the Planner needs to know that, too! A good Planner will be asking LOTS of questions about your planning, maybe even asking you to fill out some forms, but sometimes details can fall through the cracks. Communication is key.

There is actually no such thing as a "DAY Of" anything. Any reputable planner will tell you that she starts coordinating the final details of your wedding at least a month out. There are vendors to contact, coordination of deliveries, set-up, strike (that’s industry speak for break-down), confirming final payments, going over every little detail with a fine tooth comb to ensure nothing has been overlooked (and trust me when I say it happens…all the time!).

Is your Planner creating a detailed Itinerary for you, your wedding party and all your vendors? She should be. And that, too, takes time. Scheduling all the "major players", letting everyone know where to be and at what time. Contact names, cell numbers and emergency backup contacts can’t be gathered on the "Day Of". It all takes TIME.

Trust me…you do NOT want a Planner who is just going to show up on your wedding day and make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, when they are supposed to be doing it. Because what if they DON’T? What would she do then? And how would she even know? By then, it’s too late.

Price is important here, too. A smart, budget savvy Bride will get some references and call more than one or two Planners before making her decision. She also knows that pricing should not be the deciding factor when hiring any wedding professional. A good general rule of thumb is to "throw out" the highest and lowest priced Day Of Coordinators and focus on the one(s) in the middle. Coordinating your Day Of package could take upwards of 30 hours, so consider the time and cost associated with that. A ridiculously low price quote and my guess is that the Planner is not doing all she is supposed to be doing.

One more thing; more and more vendors (photographers, caterers, florists, rental companies) are telling me that they are "this close" to not taking weddings if the Bride doesn’t have a Planner. They are being paid for a service that most likely does NOT include lining up the wedding party before the ceremony, coordinating the dances or showing you how to cut your cake. Will they help you if you need it? Of course they will, because they are professionals who love Brides, weddings and helping you have the day you’ve always dreamed of. But given the choice, they’d much rather be able to focus on doing what you hired them to do, because they are good at what they do!

If you decide to go for a Day Of Coordination package, be sure you are asking the important questions of potential planners:

* When do you officially start coordinating my wedding?
* Are you willing to look over all my contracts to be sure I am getting what I am expecting?
* Will you be contacting all my vendors?
* What kinds of details will you be asking them for?
* Will you create an itinerary/timeline for me, my wedding party and my vendors?
* Will you be present for and coordinate the details of the rehearsal?
* Will you be bringing an assistant with you on the day of my wedding?
* Do you bring an emergency kit with you on wedding day?
* What kinds of items/how many items are in it?
* Will you personally take responsibility for personal items like the cake knife/server, toasting glasses, etc and make sure they get back to us at the end of the night?
* Will you stay until the VERY end of the reception, after we are gone, to be sure any last minute issues are taken care of?

Don’t be misled into thinking that a Day Of Coordinator will (or should) show up on your Wedding Day, magic wand in hand with nary a thought for the details prior to her arrival. If you are paying more than several hundred dollars for a reputable Day Of Wedding planner, chances are you WILL get what you are paying for and you will NOT regret it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

To Trash the Dress or Not?

You can go on You Tube and see lots of videos of brides getting their photos taken jumping into water, rolling in mud or even setting themselves on fire (!) in order to make sure THE dress is a true one of a kind.

It's becoming quite a world-wide phenomenon. There is even mass trashing of the dresses! A large group dress trashing took place on 10-10-10 and the next one will be held on 11-11-11, of course.

So how do you get great trash the dress pictures if you actually want to keep your wedding dress?

Trash the Dress Tips:

1. A professional cleaning service should be able to restore the dress to brand-new quality so you can do what ever you like with it after the shoot.

2. If you are not sure about trashing your own wedding dress, consider buying a cheap dress off the rack.

3. If you want a bouquet, you can pick up one at a local grocery store or make one from silk flowers bought from the local craft store.

4. Bring some props to add a unique touch and that is exactly what you’re looking for.

5. Wear comfortable and contrasting shoes. And, don't be afraid to break out the “bling” as it really adds to your photos.

6. Not sure what to do? Or are you shy? Search Google images for trash the dress photos and print out the ones you like. Your photographer should also be able to walk you through body placement and facial expressions to help you get creative and loosen up.

7. The sun is NOT your friend! The sun will wash out your photos and makes you squint your eyes like crazy. Schedule for an overcast chance of rain day or later in the day as the sun starts to go down.

8. Bring your improv skills and don't be uptight. This shoot is where you want to have fun and NOT do the norm. Relax, be silly, get dirty, goofy and bring out your personality in these photos.

Have fun!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to prevent wedding day disasters

You can be the most prepared bride in the world and still drinks get spilled, buttons pop, heels break, and foreheads get shiny— very shiny. Today we reveal the contents of our tried and true wedding emergency kit. Keep one on hand on your big day and you’ll be ready to deal with any wardrobe malfunction or fashion disaster that might come up.

Believe it or not, the following can all fit into a tiny makeup bag. Most items are inexpensive and available at your standard drug store or dollar store. Pack one for yourself and your bridesmaids. A fully stocked kit makes a fantastic bridal shower gift!

* A tiny mirror… small and portable so you can peek at your look

* A handkerchief… for tears, of course

* Bobby pins and a travel-sized bottle of hairspray… to keep that hairstyle in tact

* A small comb… to smooth back flyaways

* Lipstain… it lasts and won’t get on your teeth

* Band-aids… clear ones, for the inevitable blisters

* A Tide to Go pen… for unforeseen spills

* Blotting papers…for shine-free photos

* Dental floss… also necessary for those photos

* An emory board… to smooth out rough parts on nails that snag delicate dresses

* Krazy Glue… for shoe heels, clothing jewels or other adornments that come off

* Extra pantyhose… in case of a run

* Clear nail polish…in case there’s no time to change stockings

* White chalk… to cover up marks on your gown

* Topstick toupee tape… the best double-sided tape there is

* Extra earring backs… hopefully, you’re wearing screw-ins, but just in case you’re not

* A mini sewing kit… tiny scissors for loose threads, a needle and thread for mending and extra buttons because someone will lose one

* Safety pins… a quick fix for rips

* Travel-size perfume… to keep that great scent all day long

* Mints… think of all those people you need to talk to

* Eye drops… happy tears make for red eyes

* Aspirin… for that annoying headache

* Straws… so you stay hydrated without smearing your lipstick!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eloping, Not a Stigma Anymore!

Once thought to be a formality used only by troublesome teen couples, eloping has now become a legitimate event for many lovers. It includes not only the traditional form of eloping, where you head down to the local justice of the peace, but now, many couples are tying their knots in many exciting, out-of-the-ordinary ways.

No longer are elopement ceremonies only for the couple lurking off in the night where they find themselves standing alone in a dark hall saying their vows. Elopement ceremonies are now glories affairs, with a few special friends and family, and really just a miniature wedding as opposed to a grand affair with guests who the couple might not even know.

What drives this need for something different? Most couples start with exciting plans of a romantic, enjoyable traditional wedding. They dream up wild ideas for creating a memorable event to start their lives together. And then... reality hits.

Estimates put the average American wedding in the $25,000 to $35,000 range. And since 45% of couples end up paying for their own wedding, this can often mean the difference between having a memorable one day event and having a down payment on a home. Plus, coordinating everything... from photographer, to location, to dates, to relatives, becomes an increasingly painful experience.

In fact, a large portion of elopers, some independent statistics show up to 75%, actually plan their weddings months in advance. This is much different from the common perception of an instant, spontaneous wedding... which is often how we see elopers portrayed on TV and in the media.

If you have hit that point, where you are tired of all the stressful planning, all the schedule juggling, and all the money draining from your account, then maybe it's time to stop. Relax! And think about the other wedding option... eloping.

Whatever you do when you elope, have an amazing day, in a great location, and announce it in style!

It's Your Day, Your Way!

Make your day about the two of you, not about the third party guest lists, not about the most convenient location, and not about a something-for-everyone buffet. It may sound romantic to proclaim your love in front of hundreds of people but how meaningful is it when these people are made up of your mother in law's friends, your partner's boss, your cousin's date, or the neighbors?

Your wedding can be personalized, original, out of the box. Or at the very least, not catered to everyone else besides you. Imagine your own backyard or dream destination as the setting; neither of those are too likely with a full set of RSVP's. Speaking of guests, imagine just the two of you committing your lives to each other in the sanctity of each others company or in front of the few people who mean the most to you. An elopement doesn't have to be totally exclusive; it's just that you actually own the guest list.

There are as many ways to personalize your wedding day as there are ways to get married. Ponder getting married on the top of a beautiful hill, in a cave, in a beautiful southern mansion, on a gorgeous mountain, or at a surprise party in your own home.

So stop the thought of hiring the meat carver when you're both vegetarians. Getting married is surely one of the best days in your life. Make it the day you want and not the day that your mother in law, parents, bridesmaids, buffet zombie guests, and last but not least, the wedding industry insist upon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FREE Wedding Planning Sessions!

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