Friday, 31 October 2008

Creating a Wedding Budget

We've reached the end of guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and our final topic is one laden with controversy. Being that more and more couples are paying for part or all of their own weddings, it's likely that you, the groom-to-be, will have at least some input into the wedding budget. This is an area where many dudes shine, simply because they are less emotionally involved in the trappings of the traditional wedding. Here's how you can help:

The Reality Check
The first thing you shouldn't do is whip out the old credit card. Don't go into debt for your wedding! Newlyweds need the added pressures of money problems like they need that third crock-pot. If you see your intended getting caught up in the moment and you think she may be tempted to go overboard, put on the brakes gently. Remind her that it's about the marriage, not about the wedding, and suggest some money-saving strategies you can employ together.

Go Semi-Pro
Vendors are expensive -- and it can seem like there's no getting around that fact. The truth is, however, that there are ways to save money and get good service. Why don't more people take advantage of them? Some brides-to-be are convinced that an expensive vendor is a good vendor. If you'd rather spend less, offer to find some of your vendors. Check out local universities for qualified and inexpensive musicians, photographers, and videographers. Professors will be able to point you to the best students in the program.

Keep It Organized
If you're an organized guy, you can help out your intended by keeping track of expenses and payments. Get a notebook and write EVERYTHING down that has to do with your wedding plans. Phone numbers, cost estimates, wedding vendor information, and anything else having to do with your finances. Keep this notebook with you all the time, and use it as a reference when interviewing prospective vendors.

Know Who's Paying
If you're not paying for your entire wedding yourselves, it's important that you know who can contribute what before you start drawing up your budget. If you're uncomfortable talking to your bride-to-be's family about this, you can still approach your own family if they've hinted that they would like to pay for something. Although it may be fun to plan out the wedding first and ask for the dough later, you may find that your ideas don't quite match those with the check book. Let reality, not your expectations, guide you.

Click to learn more about creating a wedding budget or financing a wedding budget

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gifts for Groomsmen

Remember, it's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and one of the few responsibilities that most grooms-to-be have to shoulder is choosing groomsmen gifts. If your guy is stumped, we've compiled a few ideas that might inspire him. E-mail your groom-to-be this post, and tell him that the perfect gift is out there!

For Sports Fans
If you and your groomsmen are all golfers, think about gift certificates for golfing activities like 18 holes at your favorite course. You can set a date to go together before or after the wedding -- this makes a great bachelor party outing. How about engraved stainless steel golf tees or personalized golf balls?

Golf isn't your thing? You can switch it up with gift certificates to the batting cage or tickets to the big game. Too pricey? Local minor league teams play just as hard as the pros. As far as gifts go, a set of cuff links, a wall clock, a flask, or a belt with a favorite team's logo is the perfect choice for some sports enthusiasts.

For Outdoorsmen
Think about gifts related to fishing, hunting, hiking, or whatever outdoor activities your guy friends like. If you're not sure what they need, opt for a Swiss army knife, binoculars, or a monogrammed cooler. If your friends' outdoor activities tend to be practical -- home repair, etc. -- how about a cool saw, drill, electric screwdriver, or tool box? Then there are the grilling enthusiasts would love opening up a new set of barbecue tools.

For Car Enthusiasts
Car lovers are easy to shop for. Buy leather driving gloves, a navigator clock and compass set, or steering wheel cover...all gifts that will make them feel like they're driving a Bugatti while they're behind the wheel of their junkers. Or, go high end, and take your whole wedding party on a trip to racing school.

For Readers
You can't go wrong with a copy of the latest best long as you know whether your friend is into fiction or non-fiction. Write a personal note inside the cover but don't get too sappy! If you're willing to spring for it, get an autographed copy or a first edition of your pal's favorite title. For a less expensive gift, try a magazine subscription geared toward your dudes' individual interests.

Click to shop for groomsmen gifts or learn more about the groom's responsibilities

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Responsibilities of the Groom

Just a reminder: It's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and very few guys understand just what it is they are getting into when they propose to their sweethearts. While there are still some dudes out there who believe that all the groom has to do is show up to the wedding, the truth is that the responsibilities of the groom are many and varied. Grooms, after all, have their own responsibilities in addition to helping the bride do everything from choosing a reception site to picking a cake to writing up a guest list!

What are the groom's solo responsibilities?
  • Plan the honeymoon...if the bride would like you to. Some brides would prefer to be involved in planning the honeymoon, and we recommend that their grooms let them!
  • Buy a gift for your bride if you're exchanging gifts.
  • Arrange transportation for the wedding party on the big day. Be sure to ask your bride how many people will need to be included.
  • Write your toast or speech for the wedding reception if you fancy the idea of talking in front of a crowd. If not, let other people do the toasting.
  • Choose your best man, groomsmen, and ushers.
  • Decide whether you want to station yourself at the altar before the ceremony or if you'd like to be escorted down the aisle with your parents.
  • Review the best man's responsibilities with him.
  • Tell your best man what kind of a bachelor party you want so he can plan it accordingly.
  • Select groomsmen gifts.
  • Arrange for your best man to pay the celebrant and musicians and tip those who will receive gratuitites.
  • Ask one of your groomsmen to take care of the wedding gifts and cards at the reception, load them into his car, and drop them at your home later.
  • Select the men's formal wear. Be sure to consult with the bride because she may want to coordinate the menswear and the ladieswear.
  • Arrange a time for fittings for you and your groomsmen.
  • Choose boutonnières that coordinate with the ladies' bouquets.
Other than that, the groom should be involved in whatever else interests him while also helping the bride with whatever she needs help with. Good luck, grooms!

Click to learn more wedding planning tips for grooms

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Choosing Groomsmen Gifts

It's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and one of the few responsibilities that most grooms-to-be have to shoulder is choosing groomsmen gifts. Sure, you could buy your guys flask engraved with your wedding date and call it a day, but don't you want to wow your best pals with gifts that they'll really like?

Maybe you're not a big shopper and prefer leaving the shopping to your bride, but the following ideas will help you pick great gifts for your groomsmen. Your budget is your first consideration for your gift choices. Generally, the cost of groomsmen gifts is in proportion to the cost and size of the wedding and the responsibilities of the men. Many web sites and specialty shops offer unique gift ideas for your groomsmen. We like American Bridal.

Your career-minded groomsmen will love personalized business card holders crafted from sophisticated stainless steel and black leather. No more ugly, bent, dog-eared business cards -- from here on out, it's professional looking business cards all the way.

Even gentleman need to cut loose once in a while, and this cigar holder and flask ensures that the gentlemen in your life are never less than prepared to fill a spare moment. If you know what your guys like, fill this unique groomsmen gift up with a fine smoke and a spot of quality spirits.

Bulky wallets are out. Smooth lines are in. Tell your buddies to ditch the overstuffed tri-folds when you gift them with this classic leather money clip. It holds everything a man might need when out on the town without straining the back pocket of his jeans.

Sometimes called a gentleman's valet, this personal organizer will help your guys be at the church on time. It holds everything from cell phones to spare change to keys to an extra set of cuff links, which means your best buds will never again have to race to get out of the house in the morning.

Last but not least, consider gifting your guys with this awesome multi-function army knife. It includes a screwdriver, nail file, scissors, knife, corkscrew and bottle opener, and much more. Even if your best friend has a Swiss army knife already, who can't use another one? Back-ups for the win!

Click to shop for more groomsmen gifts

Monday, 27 October 2008

Choosing the Right Tuxedo Pt. III

Just a reminder: It's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and one of the few responsibilities that most grooms-to-be have to shoulder is choosing a tux. In fact, in some cases, that's all the future groom has to do before the wedding! Read on to learn more about choosing a tuxedo -- and if you're the bride-to-be, pass this post on to your husband-to-be!

Things to Think About
Even if you're usually a jeans and t-shirts kind of dude, you're probably going to think about fashion at some point before your wedding day. In fact, you may find that you're way more style conscious than you've ever been before because you are so desperate to look your best! We've put together a primer for those guys who know nothing about menswear or formalwear, so you don't end up knocked on your rear when you get to the tux shop.

The basic tuxedo -- and the one favored by most guys because it works on a variety of body types -- is the three-button tux. Classic black is always in style, so if you want to wear white or brown...or, goodness forbid, blue...check with your intended before reserving or buying anything. No matter what you look like, you'll be seen as crisp, cool, and classy in a great tux or suit.

When it comes to shirts, you can't beat micro-fiber. Even though these shirts are man-made, they feel as light and as silky as more expensive natural fabrics. Stay away from polyester, even if it's cheap, because it will be scratchy and trap air, leading to sweaty pits. Micro-fiber is revolutionary when you compare it to the synthetic fibers of days gone by.

Oh, and another thing: White is still best. Failing that, opt for ivory. Really, it depends on what kind of wedding gown the bride is wearing -- if she's in white, go for white, and if she's in any kind of off-white gown, choose an ivory shirt. The one exception to this rule is colored shirts that match the bridesmaids' dresses. Some couples outfit the groom and the groomsmen in shirts that are in keeping with the wedding color scheme.

Finally, when it comes to accessories, chuck the cummerbund. Those are for prom kings and waiters. Vests are hot right now, though we'd suggest that you shy away from those featuring cartoon characters or sports logos unless your bride-to-be is as much of a fan as you are. If you must wear a colored vest and tie set, think silver, mocha, brown, or champagne. You should match the bridesmaids only if the color of their gowns is somewhat sedate.

Click to learn more about dressing the groom

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Choosing the Right Tuxedo Pt. II

It's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and one of the few responsibilities that most grooms-to-be have to shoulder is choosing a tux. In fact, in some cases, that's all the future groom has to do before the wedding! Read on to learn more about choosing a tuxedo -- and if you're the bride-to-be, pass this post on to your husband-to-be!

Tuxedos and Body Type
Guys sure have it easy, right? Wrong -- when it comes to buying (or renting) formal clothes, they have as much to think about as the ladies. You can't just throw on any old tuxedo and think it's going to make you look like James Bond, even if it does have a shawl lapel. Different tuxedos compliment different body types, which means that you should get a handle on your "type" before you show up at the menswear shop. Choosing your tuxedo is all about looking your best. After all, your bride is going to look beautiful...shouldn't you look just as handsome?

If you're short and slender:
  • Look for single-breasted jackets with long lines, a low button stance (it elongates the body) and wide peak lapels.
  • Other stylish options include wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket or subtly patterned vest and tie.
  • Selecting the right pant style is key, too. Reverse double-pleated pant leg should always break slightly on top of the shoe and angle a bit downward in the back.
If you're short and stocky:
  • You may look best in tuxedo jackets with slim shawl collars.
  • The top button should fall at the small of the waist to give the torso a leaner look.
  • Choose jackets with a natural shoulder line and avoid the more broad European styles.
  • When it comes to pants, reverse double-pleated trousers with pleats extending toward the pockets tend to offer the best comfort and style. Pants should extend as low as possible on the foot, angled slightly in the back to elongate the leg. Be sure to avoid too much of a break on the foot, otherwise the pant leg will look sloppy.
If you're tall and husky:
  • You may look best in shawl collar tuxedos.
  • Jacket length is especially important. To determine a good fit, groom should place his arms at his sides and relax hands and fingers. His fingertips should touch the bottom of the jacket and his shirt cuffs should extend at least half an inch beyond the jacket sleeve.
  • The construction of the jacket may need to be a bit loose to provide ease of movement.
  • Also, grooms with thick necks and wide faces should avoid ties that are too narrow and wing tip collars that look constrictive. Instead, opt for lay-down collars and fuller bow ties.
  • And the pant leg should have a slightly wider silhouette to accommodate muscular thighs.
If you're tall and slim:
  • You will look well in just about every tuxedo style. An especially good choice is a double-breasted tuxedo with slightly broad shoulders and a suppressed waist.
  • Jacket buttons closed up high on the waistline look especially good, and a high shoulder line is better than a natural one.
  • Garments should be full, while still following the lines of the body, and trousers should also have a higher-rise with more of a break in the pant.
  • This figure type can easily wear vests and ties in colors and patterns.

Click to learn more about tuxedo styles

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Choosing the Right Tuxedo Pt. I

It's guy week here at Smart Wedding Planning, and one of the few responsibilities that most grooms-to-be have to shoulder is choosing a tux. In fact, in some cases, that's all the future groom has to do before the wedding! Read on to learn more about choosing a tuxedo -- and if you're the bride-to-be, pass this post on to your husband-to-be!

Tuxedo Basics
The world of tuxedos looks way more straightforward than the world of wedding gowns until you study it more closely. There are as many types of tuxedos out there as their are styles of wedding dresses, and while they don't necessarily vary quite as much, they all have their different characteristics. Here are some basics:
  • Full Dress Tailcoat is also referred to as White Tie. Perfect for an ultra-formal evening wedding.
  • The stroller is often worn by attendants, while the groom wears a Cutaway. These are good for an ultra-formal morning wedding.
  • The Notch Lapel Tuxedo is a contemporary option appropriate for a formal wedding.
  • The Peak Lapel Tuxedo is a more traditional choice than the Notch-lapel, appropriate at any time of the day or evening.
  • There are also shawl lapels (think James Bond) and diamond lapels, which look like shawl lapels that come to a gentle point above the breastbone.
Choosing Menswear
What you decide to wear on your wedding day will depend on the time of day, the formality level of your nuptials, and the season. For a formal daytime wedding, think about a classic stroller coat with gray striped trousers, an ascot, and a white boutonnière. If yours is a formal evening wedding, switch that up to a classic black tux with a white wing or spread collar. Is formal not formal enough? For ultra-formal daytime weddings, opt for the classic gray cutaway coat with gray striped trousers, a gray vest, and no pocket square. In the evening, choose black full dress tails with a pique wing collar and a white bow tie.


Click to learn more about choosing a tuxedo

Friday, 24 October 2008

Wedding Scams

Let's face it -- wedding vendors, like any other businesspeople, are in it to make money. Even though we tend to associate weddings with romance, weddings are a business like any other. That means that there are trustworthy vendors and shady vendors. It would be great if you could identify shady wedding vendors by their shifty eyes or handlebar mustaches, but the fact is that you can't tell whether your vendors are trustworthy just by looking at them.

It's up to you to avoid getting burned by wedding scammers. Sometimes, wedding scams are easy to spot and avoid -- be wary of any wedding vendor who wants you to hand over money without providing you with a detailed contract to sign first. In other cases, it's not as easy to tell whether the deal you're looking at is on the up and up. Here are some things to look out so you can protect yourself when dealing with vendors.

Don't beg or whine
This only makes you appear desperate -- and gullible. You say (subconsciously) that you are more than willing to pay any price and give up perks to get what you want. Don't make the mistake of settling for less than you paid for just to secure one detail. If your reception site isn't available on the day you want, either change your date or venue. Don't agree to take a smaller space! If your florist has strict policies against using certain pieces in his arrangements, find a new florist or compromise on new arrangements. Don't pay outlandish prices when another florist will likely give you what you want for less money.

Don't let impatience drive your decisions
If a vendor says to you, "This is a popular date or month so you need to sign soon," they are probably telling you the truth. However, resist the temptation to sign a contract immediately unless you're sure it's what you want. Unless you have done your research, are knowledgeable on comparable pricing or are satisfied with the level of service you will receive, think it over. When you're in a rush, you're more apt to make a decision you'll regret later...or to end up locked into a product or service that is sub par.

Read the fine print
Contracts exist to protect you and your vendors, but sneaky vendors can slip shady clauses into wedding contracts without your realizing it if you're not careful. Pay attention to all of the clauses. Do they sound fair? Does it outline all of the important details surrounding your event? Does something in the contract make you uncomfortable? Ask that it be removed and never, ever sign anything that might bite you in the rear later.

Don't be a pushover
If your vendor refuses to negotiate with you or makes you feel inferior for even asking for their business, thank them for their time and exit stage left. Remember, this is your wedding, and you hold the checkbook. While they have the professional experience to meet your needs, you hold the purse. Your vendor should not be trying to force you to accept products or services you don't want or can't afford, and you should be willing to walk away if they do. If you feel pressured by a particular vendor, run!

Protect yourself
Surround yourself with great vendors, and do your research. Ask someone to look over your contracts -- your wedding planner will be able to decipher which clauses will protect you and which could be to your detriment. Always take someone with you on vendor visits, whether that is your wedding planner, your mother, your maid of honor, or someone else. They may catch a detail that might be crucial to your decision-making process.

Click to learn more about planning your wedding

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Who Pays For What

When it comes to drawing up a wedding budget, the hardest part is often figuring out who pays for what. Wedding budgets are a must for those brides- and grooms-to-be who don't have access to unlimited amounts of funding, but even brides and grooms who have received carte blanch from their parents can benefit from creating a wedding budget. After all, why spend more money than you have to!

A wedding budget allows you to prioritize so you don't waste money on things that don't matter to you. For example, if you are obsessed with making sure your guests have a beautiful wedding favor to take home but you have never really cared about wedding videography, you're going to want to devote more money to picking out favors. You may even decide not to hire a wedding videographer so you can take that money and apply it to something else, like a high-end wedding caterer or a beautiful wedding gown.

But back to who pays for what. Traditionally, it was the bride's family who paid for everything except for the honeymoon, the engagement ring, and the bride's wedding band. Nowadays, it's up in the air. Sometimes the bride and the groom pay for everything, including the bridesmaid and groomsmen attire. Sometimes the groom's family donates a large chunk of money to the couple. Anything goes when it comes to who pays for what, so don't feel bad if your parents can't foot the whole bill.

Here's an overview of who typically pays for what:

The Groom and His Family

  • Bride's engagement and wedding rings
  • Groom's wedding attire
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Marriage license
  • Accommodations for out-of-town ushers
  • Alcohol at reception
  • Wedding gifts for the bride, best man and ushers
  • Flowers for the bride's bouquet, corsages for the mothers and grandmothers
  • Boutonnieres for ushers, ring bearers and fathers
  • Officiant's fee
  • Honeymoon and transportation to the honeymoon

The Bride and the Bride's Family

  • Wedding consultant's fee
  • Invitations, personal notes and mailing expense
  • Transportation for the wedding party
  • Wedding dress, headpiece and accessories
  • Lingerie
  • Attendants' bouquets
  • Groom's gift
  • Guest book
  • Cost of the reception
  • Cost of the ceremony
  • Photography and Videography expense
  • Groom's wedding ring
  • Favors
  • Accommodations for out-of-town bride's attendants

The Bridesmaids

  • Wedding attire - Bridesmaid dress, shoes & accessories
  • Travel costs
  • Shower and wedding gift for the couple
  • Shower given by bridesmaids and/or maid of honor

The Groomsmen

  • Wedding attire rental
  • Wedding gift for the couple
  • Travel costs
  • Bachelor party given by best man and/or ushers
Wow, the groomsmen get off easy, huh? I kid, I kid. Like I said, no matter who is paying for what, it's important that you don't waste precious time comparing your wedding to the weddings you've been to or seen in magazines. Your wedding is going to be special because it's your wedding! Whether you have $100,000 to spend or $1,000 to spend, it will be one of the happiest days of your life. I promise!

Click to learn more about wedding budgets

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Easy Wedding Shower Ideas

This post is for all the maids of honor out there, so brides-to-be should forward this post onto their sisters, cousins, and best girlfriends. Remember, you can't plan your own bridal shower, but you can give your gal pals hints as to what kind of shower you'd like best!

So,'s time for you to start thinking about your bride's shower. Don't be intimidated -- you may have read a lot of rules in bridal magazines or on the big web sites, but really, there's nothing to it. You don't have to have white and pink invitations, fancy cocktails, or bridal shower favors if you're friend isn't a girly girl. Heck, you don't even have to have a standard party!

Here are some shower ideas that will help you plan a fun get-together for the bride, your friends, and the older generation of women in your social circle.

Kitchen showers are big right now, and they're quite practical as parties go. Very few younger brides have all of the kitchen implements they'll want in later years, so it's easy to find gifts. If the bride doesn't have a registry set up, ask her what she needs so you can spread the word. For refreshments, little gourmet treats are great -- even if they're just from the freezer section of the supermarket.

Then there are lingerie and spa showers. At the former, guests bring frilly underthings for the bride, who is often compelled to try each piece on (over her clothes, of course) for the amusement of the assembled ladies. Sometimes the lingerie chosen is silly rather than sexy, so everyone has a good laugh. At a spa shower, guests present the bride with things like skin treatment gift sets, cosmetics, or bath powder and perfumes.

When people think of bridal showers, they tend to picture a gaggle of girls all giggling in a fancifully decorated living room. Everyone is sipping champagne cocktails and eating petit fours while watching the bride open her gifts. That's one kind of shower, but certainly not the only kind! You can host a shower in a restaurant, at a skate rink, in the park, or at any other venue. Maybe you're friend the bride would rather have a casual barbecue with wings and beer than a girly party with lots of sweets.

That brings us to yet another kind of shower -- the activity based shower. From a day at the nail salon to a day at the indoor rock climbing place, choose an activity you know the bride-to-be will like and the guests will enjoy. If you know that some guests won't want to participate in the chosen activity, you can divide the day into two parts. The people who want manicures can meet up first, then everyone else can meet up later for lunch and cocktails.

You can do a mini-shower at the cosmetics counter at a fine department store -- call ahead and explain that you have several women who want makeovers and do a day of bonding over shopping. In some cases, the makeup company will even throw in some free gifts for the wedding party or bride. It's fun and inexpensive, and (like we said above) you can follow up with dinner or drinks.

Click to learn more about hosting a bridal shower

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bridal Footwear

Bridal stiletto boots? Clear plastic bridal stripper shoes? Leopard print bridal sneakers? If you're thinking that the only wedding shoe options out there are dyeable white pumps, then you haven't been doing your research! Whether you want flats or high, high heels, there's something out there for everyone. Here are some of the common choices that brides-to-be consider before settling on their bridal footwear:

Wedding pumps
The most popular choice, bridal pumps range from plain to elaborate, with everything from basic heels to pointy, strappy, sparkly heels. If this is the option that appeals to you most, you'll have plenty to choose from because everyone from no-name brands to high-end designers carry their own white pumps.

Wedding flats
Your options are limited here if white is your preference. Most of the wedding flats are modified ballet shoes. If, however, you aren't averse to the idea of wearing sequins, black velvet, electric purple silk, or some other unique shoe, the sky is the limit. Any shoe store should be able to give you an idea of what's out there, and don't forget to check out online shoe stores as well!

Wedding boots
We're not talking specifically about white cowboy boots, though that's certainly one option. Wedding boots can be anything from western-style lace-up boots that look vintage but aren't to funky modern boots that just happen to come in white. If you're okay with black soles, you'll have even more boots to choose from.

Wedding flip flops
Talk about comfy! Bridal flip flops range from casual to formal, though they usually don't stand up to the black tie test. These are a great option for whimsical, fun brides-to-be who are more interested in having a good time than impressing anyone with shoes they probably won't see anyway. Our favorites -- Tracey Asai flip flops -- are one of the few wedding flip flops that look as good as they feel!

Wedding sneakers
Sneakers (or trainers as they're called in some places) are one of the most comfortable options, but also one of the least formal options. The brides-to-be who go the sneaker route are usually either sure that no one is going to see their shoes or actively trying to make a statement. We've seen pictures of entire bridal parties in Converse sneakers or other cool shoes, and they always look fab.

Good luck choosing your bridal shoes, and remember, it's your day, so wear whatever shoes you want!

Click to shop for stunning wedding flip flops or to learn more about choosing wedding shoes

Wedding Invitation Basics

Shopping for wedding invitations is fun insofar as learning all about different sorts of inks and papers and fonts is fun. Learning all about wedding invitation etiquette is slightly less fun. Why? Well, what sounds more engaging -- sitting down with your stationery designer to choose floral embellishments for your thank you cards or looking up when you should start sending your invitations? Some brides- and grooms-to-be find the whole process daunting! Is it offensive to write Dr. instead of Doctor? What if you know unmarried couples who live together? It's a lot to take in!

Invitation Etiquette
Wedding invitations should only be sent to those friends, relatives and acquaintances who are to be present at the ceremony. You may be tempted to invite individuals you are sure will never, ever show up, but is it worth it to run the risk of having 20 extra people at $75 a head? Most people are not offended to hear they haven't been invited to a wedding, and they may even send a gift anyway!

Invite people you care for, not necessarily people you feel an obligation to invite. When the wedding is to be a large church affair, invitations are sent to all those whose names appear on the visiting lists of the two families including relatives and friends of the bride and groom. With regard to business associates, the invitation should be extended because of friendship, not the business connection.

For a home wedding, more discrimination can be shown in the issuing of invitations. Intimate friends and relatives of both families are invited, but no casual acquaintances need be invited if space is limited. Don't pack people in! If your home can comfortably hold 50 guests, then invite only that number.

The Invitation List
It is the responsibility of the bride- and groom-to-be to make the initial list of invitees, though they should be aware that their parents and grandparents may also begin inviting people via word-of-mouth. To avoid any fighting, sit down with relatives to discuss who you think should be invited and who they think should be invited. Compromise will probably be necessary.

If the wedding is to be a large affair, not only their friends but the friends of their parents should be extended an invitations, and business acquaintances of both families can be invited, but only if you can afford it comfortably. If the wedding is a small one, great care should be taken lest the guests are so numerous as to overcrowd the church or home. Remember, few people take offense at not being invited to a wedding.

Mailing the Wedding Invitation
All wedding invitations should come from the home of the bride, even if the bride is outsourcing her envelopes to a calligraphy service. If you're having your wedding in an exotic locale or far away from your hometown, or if your friends and relatives living at some distance away, consider sending out save-the-date cards to give everyone invited time to make travel arrangements. The wedding invitations themselves should be mailed about six weeks before the wedding, and you should ask that guests RSVP no later than two weeks before the event.

Click to learn more about addressing wedding invitations

Monday, 20 October 2008

Choosing Wedding Favors

While some brides (and even some grooms) know exactly what they want because they've had a vision of their weddings floating around in their heads forever, many don't. Consequently, doing simple things like choosing wedding favors can be a stressful, tedious, or confusing experience. If you are ready to buy your wedding favors and you have absolutely no idea what you want, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is one quality or characteristic that defines you and your intended as a couple? Fun? Whimsical? Silly? Sporty? Romantic? Traditional? Wild?
  • Do you or your intended have a favorite hobby or past time? Some examples include collecting old postcards, playing baseball, painting, baking, volunteering, etc.
  • How did you meet? Did your meeting involve a specific location or circumstance?
  • Is there some activity that you and your intended enjoy doing together?
  • What will your reception be like? Are you having a garden party, a sit-down dinner, a barbecue, or a cocktail party, perhaps?
  • Does your reception have a theme?
  • Will your wedding take place during a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving? Or does the season play a role?

You might try designing your own wedding favors using the answers to one or more of these questions. For example, if you and your intended follow a particular sports team religiously, you can always buy favor boxes and candies in that team's colors. Maybe your intended is a Nascar fanatic -- why not give each guest a Matchbox racer in pretty organza bags? Don't think your favors have to scream wedding! The best favors are usually those that really have nothing at all to do with weddings, like gourmet cookies or artisan soaps.

Here are some favor ideas that you can easily DIY:

  • Candy tins -- personalized or not -- filled with traditional candy like Jordan almonds, chocolate kisses or mints
  • Favor boxes filled with goodies you made yourself like cookies, toffee, or simple chocolates
  • Personalized CDs filled with your favorite songs or some of the music played at the wedding
  • Votive candles in glass cups -- get them from the Dollar store or Target if you want to save cash

If you want wedding favors that are truly unique, take the time to develop your ideas and make your favors your own. You'll save money, and more importantly, the personal touch will show your guests that you took the extra time and effort to personally thank them for being a part of your special day.

Click to learn more about DIY wedding favors or to buy classic wedding favors

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Religious Wedding Traditions

There are as many religions as there are cultures in the world. If you grew up faithfully practicing a certain religion, there's a good chance that you and your intended will tailor your ceremony to that religious tradition. If, however, you belong to different religions or neither of you practices a religion but you'd like to incorporate religious elements into your ceremony, there are plenty of options open to you.

Many religions have rules and traditions surrounding the wedding ceremony, though most leave room for the addition of creative touches like personalized wedding vows, home-grown rituals, or ceremonial elements from other faiths. Check with your officiant to see if there are any rules you must follow before deciding on a certain tradition. On the other hand, you may be simply "shopping around" for rites and traditions that suit your unique style and personal philosophy!

Here is a list of religious wedding traditions from a few faiths to get you started:

Protestant Weddings

  • After the processional, the service begins with a greeting and call to worship by the minister.
  • Readings, a short sermon, and the lighting of a unity candle are often a part of the ceremony.
  • The ceremony concludes with a prayer of thanksgiving, the benediction and finally, the recessional.

Roman Catholic Weddings

  • Before getting married, the couple must attend marriage counseling, called "pre-cana programs."
  • The Bride and Groom get married at her parish.
  • The ceremony must include the nuptial blessing, prayers and at least three readings.
  • As the vows are being exchanged, the entire congregation stands.
  • Mass is often included in the ceremony.

Jewish Weddings

  • The ceremony must take place under a Chuppah. This symbolizes a husband bringing his wife into their home.
  • Memorable elements include the blessing of the wine, the reading of the Ketubah and the breaking of the glass.

Muslim Weddings

  • The ceremony is really just the signing of the wedding contract. It lasts only for about five minutes.
  • The public celebration can last for days afterwards.
  • The celebration begins with a Walima, which is a feast where chicken, fish and rice are served.
  • Toward the end of the festivities, the bride is often lifted like royalty and "displayed" for the crowd to see.

Buddhist Weddings

  • Ceremonies are usually designed by the couple and are quite simple.
  • An O jujo, a 21-bead strand, is used to offer prayers and incense to Buddha
It's easy to find wedding traditions from many different religions -- all you have to do is a simple Google search. It's up to you whether you want to abide wholly by the tenets of your faith or whether you'd like to include elements of wedding traditions from other faiths as well. If you are criticized for your choice to stray from a standard ceremony, remind your critics that the purpose of a wedding is the same in all unite two people.

Click to learn more about wedding ceremony ideas

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Ideally, wedding vows should come from the heart, but sometimes the heart gets a little writer's block and the writer needs a little help. Many people are happy to use the traditional vows that have been handed down for generations in religious institutions, communities, and cultures, though some brides- and grooms-to-be opt to write their own vows or add personal vows to the standard script.

Some feel that the standard vows used by their church or in their synagogue just do not encompass the feelings that they wish to convey, while others want to distance themselves from the words that the culture they have left behind associate with marriage. If this sounds like you -- and you may have many different reasons for wanting to write your own wedding vows -- there are some tips below that will jump start your creative brain.

NOTE: Some religious institutions do not allow personal vows and some states require that you say certain words at some point during the ceremony for it to be legal. Traditional Catholic wedding ceremonies usually require you to recite all or at least a portion of the old traditional vows. Check with your priest, rabbi, cantor, father, religious leader, or other officiate to be sure that writing your own vows is a-ok. Then be prepared to have the wedding officiate read through your vows, as some will want to do this before giving you the go ahead.

Who Writes What
You and your intended may not both feel comfortable writing your own individual vows. If this is the case, one of you can recite personalized vows while the other recites standard vows. Or you may choose to write your vows as a couple. Remember that there is an intimacy inherent in writing your vows alone and not revealing them until the day of the wedding.

Things you will want to consider including in your vows:

- Humor: Don't use too much. A little goes a long way.
- Sincerity: Tell your spouse what you love about them.
- Poetry: Quotes from romantic people can spice up your vows.
- Touching: Don't be afraid to express your feelings in front of a crowd.
- Seriousness: Remember you're not trying to impress anyone with your wit.
- A vision of the future: What will your shared life look like?

Creating an Outline
You may want to keep your structure similar or not. One person's vows may be longer than the others, and that's fine. Drafting an outline before writing your vows helps you clarify your vision and makes writing your vows that much easier.

Your outline may look like this:

- What attracted you to your fiancé?
- Who you were before you met your fiancé
- Why you are perfect for each other
- How you have changed for the better
- What you see for you, as a couple, in the future
- Why you will always be true
- Something meaningful that happened when you met
- How your fiancé helped you to achieve a love this powerful
- How you will still be happy 40 years from now

Friday, 17 October 2008

Wedding Flip Flops

Choosing bridesmaids dresses isn't always easy, especially when you have girlfriends who come in all shapes or sizes. A tall, voluptuous girl isn't necessarily going to want to wear the same dress as a short, skinny girl. That's not even taking girls who are squarely average into account -- everything should look good on them, but the reality is that they often have the toughest time shopping!

Do your gals a favor -- choose a fabric and a color and then let them choose their own dresses. If that sounds too risky, specify a designer or a retailer, and set some ground rules. You might ask your attendants to buy their dresses from Aria in chocolate taffeta, but leave the cut up to them. You can also specify "no strapless" or "floor length" without taking away too many choices.

When it comes to shoes for your best girlfriends do them a favor and make sure their bridesmaid gift bags include a pair of wedding flip flops. We're not talking about the flimsy kind you can get at the drug store! There are gorgeous formal flip flops out there from designers like Tracey Asai.

The base of her flat or wedge bridesmaid flip flops are imported from South America and will last way beyond your wedding day. There are metallic antique gold or silver flip flops, as well as black, brown, and natural flip flops. You can also customize your gals' flip flops to match your wedding colors. Here are two pairs that we really love:

Basketweave metallic wedges are as comfy as they are cute -- plus, at less than $40, they're a real steal! You can customize the base color and the ribbon color, so your gals' shoes match your wedding color scheme.

Diamonds and ribbons lend these flip flops a touch of class that takes them from day into night. Like the pair above, these are also customizable, so don't worry if black isn't your thing.

The best part of letting your bridesmaids wear flip flops all day long? They'll still be dancing at the end of the night!

Click to shop for comfy bridal flip flops or to learn more about bridesmaids

Wedding Gifts

Wedding gifts are not quite like other sorts of gifts. When it is your birthday, you can hint at what you want, but you are probably usually surprised by many of the presents you receive. Gift giving has always been a part of the wedding celebration -- from the very earliest gifts of bread and honey cakes -- which means that plenty of traditions have grown up around wedding day gift giving.
What you lose in happy surprises when you set up a wedding registry, you and your guests gain in peace of mind. Loved ones don't have to guess at what you want because it's all right there in front of them. You don't have to worry about how to thank your great aunt for the lovely tie dye duvet cover. Creating your gift registry should simply be a part of the wedding planning process, albeit one that is a lot more fun than scouring the yellow pages for local caterers.

Try to abide by the following guidelines when creating your own bridal registry, and you will be amazed at the great gifts you'll be getting on your wedding day.

1. Pick a store that offers a wide selection of a variety of things at different price points. Popular and large nationally-dispersed stores are sure to have thousands of gift ideas.

2. Make sure your wedding guests are aware of your registry, but never include registry cards with save-the-dates or invitations. Tell your parents and your attendants to spread the word a few months before the wedding. Hint: You can also include registry info on your wedding web site...just don't make it too overt.

3. Make sure you include both lower priced and higher priced items on your registry. If your registry is full of nothing but splurges, you may inadvertently price out those guests who are on tight budgets or are spending a lot of money to travel to your wedding.

4. Try to choose a store that allows you to create an online registry or features your in-store registry on their web site. That way, guests from out of town don't have to bring their gifts to the wedding...instead, gifts will arrive on your doorstep before and after the wedding, giving you plenty of time to write your thank you cards.

5. Because some guests may know you or your fiance, but not your fiance or you, make sure both of your names are on your gift registry in case any attendees want to personalize their gifts.

7. Registering for gifts isn't greedy, though you may feel that way when choosing presents to add to your registry. Check out this article on wedding gifts that keep on giving to learn more about charitable gift options.

Click to learn more about wedding registries

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Bachelor Party Checklist

Some grooms don't bother with the bachelor party and instead enjoy attending a co-ed wedding shower with their brides. The thing is, bachelor parties aren't really about the groom-to-be...rather, they are about his buddies. Who has more fun at the bachelor party? Usually it's the single guys and the guys who are already married! Ladies, you can stop reading now. Just pass this post onto your fiancé's friends and call it a day.

Now, even though the bachelor party is really for the groom's guy friends, you need to keep the groom's tastes and preferences in mind. The stereotypical bachelor party involves strippers and boozing it up until sunrise, but that isn't every guy's idea of a good time. Forget the old adage that the bachelor party is the groom's last chance to party with the dudes before marriage -- most men still make time for their friends after they get hitched.

First things first...before you can plan a party, you have to figure out what the party will be like.
  • Brainstorm
  • Pick a theme
  • Choose a location (e.g., a house, the go-kart track, a party hall, the woods, etc.)
  • Decide on the food
  • Think about drinks
  • Strippers?
  • Limo?
Next, give everyone something to do so the poor best man isn't left planning a men-only weekend (if, indeed, you're not going co-ed) all by himself. Here are some common roles that groomsmen and ushers can take on:
  • Food Logistician - will organize all the food and refreshments.
  • Travel Logistician - will organize accommodations for guests and travel support when necessary.
  • Invitations Organizer - will organize and send out invitations.
  • Entertainment Organizer - will organize the night's entertainment.
Have an emergency plan in case something doesn't go as planned...because something inevitably will go wrong. It's also a good idea to have a back-up plan in case you reserved pool tables at the gentleman's club and the groom would rather go out for a quite dinner of Ethiopian food. Weather can also be a factor in the cancellation of planned events. Going camping? Bring rain gear? Walking around NYC? Bring a subway map and enough cash for taxis.

Always consider:
  • Is the location you have chosen available on the day that you need it?
  • Have you reserved and double checked your reservations?
  • Who can and cannot make it to the bachelor party?
  • Is the amount of food you ordered sufficient?
  • Are there any problems or unexpected delays forecasted for the entertainment?
Never try to force a groom to enjoy something he's not usually into. If he's not a steak and cigar guy, don't take him to the local steakhouse for dinner, even if the rest of your group is into that sort of thing. Maybe the groom is into something you think is wacky -- like musicals, the ballet, wine tasting, or bass fishing. Don't knock it! You may find out that his interests aren't so wacky after all!

Finally, have fun, but be safe. Your good pal's bride won't appreciate it if he arrives at the ceremony bruises, bleeding, or hungover.

Click to learn more about groomsmen and grooms

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wedding Superstitions

Have you ever wondered why the modern wedding looks like it does? Or why wedding attendants all dress alike? Along with the many wedding traditions that shape most weddings, there are wedding superstitions that influence the decisions brides- and grooms-to-be make when planning their weddings.

Why do bride choose bridesmaids? Why do grooms choose groomsmen? Today many people choose to have attendants because of tradition, because it looks nice in photographs and for sheer fun of it. But once upon a time, bridesmaids and groomsmen stood alongside the marrying couple to fool evil spirits who might otherwise disrupt the wedding. That's why wedding attendants dress alike -- hundreds and even thousands of years ago, the bridesmaids and groomsmen dressed exactly like the bride and groom so all those spirits wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

The bridal bouquet was originally a satchel of fragrant herbs meant to protect the bride from evil spirits and malevolent influences. Scent was considered a powerful tool with which one could repel evil. Only later did the satchel become a wreath of flowers and, finally, a bouquet of flowers.

Clinking of glasses during the reception was also believed to keep those omnipresent evil spirits from cursing the new marriage or harming the newlyweds. It was believed the spirits disliked boisterous noises as much as they disliked strong odors!

Weddings themselves were symbols of good luck, and guests all wanted to get a little piece of that luck for themselves. If you're planning on tossing the bouquet or the garter at your reception, now you'll know why the tradition developed! People believed that taking something that belonged to the newly wedded couple would bring them good fortune, and it was common practice to tear at the clothes of the bride and groom in the hopes of snagging a piece of cloth or a button. To avoid the wear and tear, newlyweds began tossing expendable items like flowers and stockings.

Hopes of fertility were also an important element of weddings for a very long time. The guests at a wedding believed the bride would become pregnant soon after the wedding if she were the first to eat the cake. Throwing rice after the ceremony was also meant to signify (and encourage) fertility so that the new couple would have many, many children.

Isn't it funny to think that so many facets of the modern wedding ceremony and reception can trace their roots back to the fear of demons and the desire for heirs? We may not be afraid of evil spirits...or even want any children at all...but it's fun to keep these superstitious traditions alive and pass them along to the next generation.

Click to learn more about wedding traditions

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Autumn Wedding Gowns

What's the best way to go about choosing a wedding gown? When you are shopping for your dress, it is very important to keep an open mind! The styles and trends change yearly, and you may run across some very interesting wedding dresses. Making mental notes, or notes on paper before you shop is usually a good idea. Since you're already aware that there are quite a few dresses out there, knowing what you are looking for will help narrow it down.

Think that all wedding gowns have to be white? Think again! There are wedding gowns in every color of the rainbow out there, from purple to green to blue to black. If you're one of those unique brides-to-be who is shying away from white but you're not quite ready to consider a more brilliant hue, autumn wedding gowns may be for you.

This champagne wedding gown from Emerald Bridal is made of a new soft-crushed taffeta fabric. The net lace overlay of the sweetheart bodice is adorned with delicate beading and metallic embroidery, white hand-made flowers accent the full, gathered skirt and the semi-cathedral train. The color is perfect for a fall wedding that is paying homage to the season in a subtle but recognizable way.

Another autumn-appropriate wedding gown from Emerald Bridal, this taffeta ball gown featuring a sweetheart bodice of embroidered and beaded lace is perfect for cooler weather when paired with a pretty shawl. The full skirt is adorned with detachable flowers and an organza insert at the front, while the bodice has a pleated waist panel. The semi-cathedral train is unadorned.

Love these gowns? Stop before you run to the shop! Never buy a dress before you have looked at lots and lots of gowns. The worst mistake you can make is to try a dress on, fall in love with it, and then buying it right then and there. You may then find yourself in the mall the following week and wander into another bridal shop, where you see the gown that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes tear up. It's calling out for you, but you already bought a non-refundable dress in the heat of the moment. Eep. Always try a dress on at least twice -- once alone and once with a loved one. You'll know when you've found the one, and you'll be glad that you took your time. Trust us!

Click to learn more about unique wedding gowns

Monday, 13 October 2008

Fall Wedding Favors

There are tons of great wedding favor ideas out there, and a lot of hot products billing themselves as wedding favors. In fact, there are so many different wedding favors out there that shopping for them can quickly become overwhelming for the uninitiated. The good news is that you can always rely on a new crop of seasonal favors if you're a fan of winter weddings, spring weddings, summer weddings, or autumn weddings.

Fall is officially here, which means that maple leaves, harvest colors and spices are IN and easy to source. The fall wedding favors at American Bridal celebrate autumn nuptials without breaking the bank. Creating warm and wonderful memories in a chilly season has never been easier!

Here are some of my favorites:

These leaf-shaped soap wedding favors smell as great as they look, especially when packaged in pretty brown boxes.

Let your guests make their own sweet treats with leaf cookie cutter favors. Delicately decorated with a sheer, burgundy organza ribbon and leaf-design "For You" tag, the clear-covered gift box looks beautiful on fall-themed reception tables.

Pumpkin spice bath salts
are just as yummy as they sound! After your wedding, your guests can scent their baths with the aroma of autumn and remember how lovely your fall wedding was.

For a fall favor that lasts forever, opt for leaf glass coasters. They celebrate the season while serving a practical purpose -- perfect for the bride- and groom-to-be who want to be sure their favors stand the test of time.

For another lasts-forever favor, consider these pretty and delicate "Turning Leaves" bookmarks. Each fall leaf bookmark measure almost four inches long and is impressively displayed in an autumn-leaves gift box complete with a clear top and a burgundy organza ribbon.

Remember, you can't go wrong with gifts that reflect the season!

Click for more information about choosing wedding favors

Sunday, 12 October 2008

How to Make Pew Bows

Before I get started on today's post, I just wanted to let you know about a cool blog I found: A Music Plus. The writers are DJs based in Denver, Colorado, but their blog touches on wedding topics from favors to photography. I like it a lot, and I think you will, too! Now, onto today's post...

If you're not a born Martha -- and who is? -- then you may think that DIY pew bows are not for you. Speaking from experience, making pew bows can be a frustrating experience for those of us who don't have an entire room devoted to hand crafts. That doesn't mean, however, that we shouldn't attempt to make our own pew bows...or invitations, favors, and jewelry. It just means that we need to give ourselves a little more time and be patient when we don't get it right on the first try.

While it may take a few attempts to finally master the art of making pew bows, you'll be able to crank out bows fairly quickly once you've got the hang of it. Below are instructions for two different types of bows that can be layered for a more elaborate effect.

To make them both you'll need approximately 4.5 feet of 1" wired ribbon; approximately 4.5 feet of 6" tulle (more or less depending on how long you want the tails); craft wire, wire cutter and scissors.

The Tulle Base
  • Lay the ribbon horizontally. Find the middle of your strip of tulle and pinch it together with your left hand.
  • With your right hand, pinch the tulle on the right side about 8" away from the middle.
  • Bring the second pinched spot to the center, moving underneath. This should form half of a bow. Pinch together the middle with your right hand.
  • Repeat the same thing with the left side, only this time instead of bringing the tulle underneath to form the bow, bring it over the top.
  • You should now have a simple bow. Secure the middle by twisting craft wire around it. If you'd like to stop here, hot glue a silk flower in the middle to finish this simple project. However, if you want your bow more ornate, follow the next set of instructions to add a second layer.
The Second Ribbon Layer
  • Lay the wired ribbon vertically on a table or flat surface, moving away from you. Take the end closest to you, bring it up and then tuck it in to form a small loop. Pinch the loop in place. This will be the middle of the ribbon.
  • Just after where you are now pinching, twist the longer end of the ribbon 180 degrees. Keep the twist tight and "hide" it underneath the middle loop. Grab the long piece of ribbon about 6" away from the middle. Then form a loop by bringing the ribbon underneath and back to the center. Pinch together.
  • Twist the long piece of ribbon again just after the center pinch. Make an equal sized loop on the other side using the same technique.
  • Continue making equal-sized loops that rest directly underneath each other by using the same technique. Stop when you have three on each side.
  • Secure the middle with craft wire and leave some extra wire in order to attach it to the tulle base.
  • Cut off any tail you might have left over from the ribbon.
  • Spread out the loops to create the look you desire.
Attaching Them Together
  • With the extra wire from the second layer, attach the ribbon bow to the middle of the tulle base. Consider adding long wire hooks or extra ribbon to the back for easy attachment to the pews. If you like, embellish your pew bows with anything from flowers to pearls.
Voila! You just crafted a homemade pew bow!

Click for more wedding crafts

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Honeymoon Planning Tips

When people talk about the average cost of weddings being $30,000, many brides- and grooms-to-be forget that this figure includes not only the ceremony, reception, accessories, bridal gown, and other day-of supplies, but also travel expenses, the engagement ring, wedding bands, and the honeymoon. In fact, that last item -- the honeymoon -- can add thousands of dollars to the cost of an otherwise reasonably priced wedding.

If you are lucky enough to have well-off in-laws or parents who are footing the bill, yay! Your dream vacation awaits! But if you are paying for all or part of your own honeymoon, you may just be interested in saving a little money without compromising your trip. Here are some honeymoon planning tips that can help you do just that:

  • Set a budget for your honeymoon just like you did for your wedding. Once you know where you want to go, determine how much you have to spend. Keep every possible expense in mind, from hotel costs to meals to all forms of transportation to entertainment. If you love to shop, set aside some money for presents for you and your new spouse, but don't go overboard. Put your budget in writing...and remind yourself of what you are saving for, like a house or new car.
  • Your honeymoon is an important event, and you may not be qualified to plan it yourself even if you are a whiz with Expedia. Talk to one or more travel agents to see if any can get you some sweet deals. They may have access to all inclusive packages that are not available to the general public. Tell your agent what you're hoping for and what you have to spend, and then listen to their suggestions.
  • If you're not married (ahem) to the idea of traveling right after the wedding, consider traveling in the off season. That's not an option? Then look for flights on weekdays instead of flights on weekends, which are often more expensive. Red eye flights are a hassle, but taking them can save you a bundle of cash, and the airport will more than likely be less crowded. Bonus!
  • Splurge a little -- it's your honeymoon -- to avoid splurging a lot. If you deny yourself every luxury hoping to save that much more money, you may just end up snapping and spending yourself into debt. Choose one or two special activities or gifts that you normally wouldn't splurge on and enjoy them to the fullest. You won't blow your budget, but you'll remember your honeymoon as extra special.
  • When packing for your honeymoon, think about packing some romantic items like candles, massage oil and some new lingerie. That way, you won't have to buy them when you get to your destination. Everything in tourist towns tends to be expensive, so bring what you can from home.
  • That said, give yourself plenty of time to pack so you don't forget anything vital and end up having to buy it from the pricey little shop across from your hotel. Make a list of all the items that you'll need. Anything that you forget, such as suntan lotion, aspirin, toothpaste will always cost more to purchase at your destination.
  • Take advantage of hotel freebies whenever you can. Many resorts pamper newlyweds, giving them free champagne, free meals, gift baskets, upgrades and other little treats, but this is dependent on your letting the concierge that you're a new wife. When making reservations for your honeymoon, let your hotel, resort or cruise line know that you are newlyweds.

Click to learn more about honeymoons and honeymoon planning

Friday, 10 October 2008

Wedding Shoes

Even if you've been picturing your wedding gown in your mind for years and years, there's a good chance you've never given any thought to your wedding shoes. A quick scan of the footwear that comes up when I search for bridal footwear shows me plenty of pumps and some shoes that border on stilettos! It would appear that comfort is generally less important that elegance when it comes to bridal footwear, but it doesn't have to be that way!

Personally, I wore flats that I knew would be comfortable, but I had a pair of wedding flip flops at the ready in case my flats started to hurt my feet. Even if you don't feel comfortable wearing flip flops in your house of worship or during your ceremony, you can still change into a pair once you get to your reception. Heck, if you're planning to wear a gown with a hemline that just sweeps the floor, no one will ever even know you've changed your shoes.

Need even more reasons to have a pair of back-up flip flops?

  • A blister can't ruin your first dance
  • You'll enjoy your reception more if you're comfortable
  • Bridal flip flops can be just as beautiful as the finest wedding heels
  • Everyone who notices your shoes will admire your cleverness
  • You'll be the envy of all the women who wore pumps that pinch
  • Your guests can admire your beautiful pedicure
  • Foot odor? Not a problem!
  • You'll be all set for your post-wedding afterparty
  • You can keep wearing them forever!

My favorite bridal flip flops come from -- in case you haven't guessed from previous posts -- Tracey Asai. I definitely recommend that you check out her selection, which includes flip flops for bridesmaids and for black tie occasions. Even if you've already picked out your wedding shoes, I'd definitely recommend that you choose a back-up pair of flip-flops to wear under your gown.

Click to shop for cute bridal flip flops or to learn more about wedding shoes

Bridal Hair Styles Pt. II

(Looking for Bridal Hair Styles Pt. I?)

In our last post about bridal hair styles, we discussed how to prepare your hair and how to choose the best hairstyle for your big day. In today's post, we're going to talk a little about the dos that will compliment your hair as it exists right now.

What's in a Face?
Everything! You wouldn't presume that every hairstyle looks good on you normally, so don't assume that you can rock every updo and long, layered look just because you're the bride. Your bridal hairstyle needs to look good on you -- it doesn't matter how good it looks on the model in the pages of a magazine. Since you can't really change much about your face, get a custom wedding hairstyle that matches your look and compliments the shape of your head. If your face is round or oval then you will want to stay away from volume. Instead, pin up your hair so it does not add to the width. Alternatively, if your face is long and thin then hairstyles with more volume will suit you best. You can try soft curls that frame your face.

Styles for Short Hair
Not being able to wear a chic updo may be slightly disappointing, but there is plenty you can do with even the shortest of hair! Try curls if your hair is long enough. What you can't do with hair, you can do with hairclips, hairpins, flowers or a sparkling wedding tiara. The Egyptian princess look is very in! Highlights and layers will give your do a more modern look. For a simple classic look that will compliment a vintage or vintage-look gown, take a side part and gel it down before blowing out the back for a little volume.

Styles for Medium Hair
If your hair is in that in-between length and pin straight, try simple layers. For height, try a whip updo or a modified French twist...just make sure you use enough hairspray to keep everything in place! For an outdoor wedding, opt for loose curls that are sprayed in place to frame your lovely visage. If you don't have enough hair for a proper updo, curl your hair and pile it on top of your hair to give the illusion of lots and lots of volume. If you like a regal, elegant look, a half-up, half-down style might just be what you're looking for. Tiaras look wonderful on medium-length hair.

Styles for Long Hair
Honestly, there is nothing you cannot do if you have long hair and a good stylist. Whether you want your hair all the way up and big or flowing down your back, there is nothing to stop you. Keep your tiaras small if you have very thick hair, because you can't help but have a lot of body. For a semi formal wedding, try a French twist with loose curls that trail from the bottom. If you prefer the windblown look, then flowing curls that are loosely pinned might be a good choice. If you have a truly talented stylist and a flair for all things retro, then try a cool beehive. It looks especially classy if you have a very simple strapless dress. The classic high bun works well with a long veil and/or a tiara. Simple waves will give you a young and carefree look, while spring curls pinned up with clips is perfect for an outdoor wedding.

Accessories Galore
Don't choose your hair accessories until you've picked a hairstyle, unless you're so charmed by a certain style of tiara or veil that you're going to base your look on it. For instance, if your veil is going to be long and simple, you can wear a very complicated hair do without looking overdone. Tiaras look good if well placed and firmly held -- your stylist can help you pin it on so it stays in place for hours and hours. Try setting yours in a bed of soft curls. Don't forget that jewels, fresh flowers and beads can finish your look if veils aren't your thing.

Click to learn more about bridal beauty

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Tuxedo Fundamentals

Hey brides! This post is for the grooms, so either send your guy a link to this post or print it out and leave it in his underwear drawer where he's sure to find it.

The world of tuxedos can be just as complicated as the world of wedding gowns. While tuxes for the groom and his groomsmen can be ordered two to three months ahead of time -- instead of six to nine months ahead of time -- there is still a lot to think about when choosing a tuxedo.

Leave Nothing to Chance
Try on your tux! Yes, tuxedos can be altered, but the more they are altered, the funnier they start to look. If you leave the tux shop without trying on your chosen tux, you're doing something wrong and you can expect there to be problems when your wedding day rolls around. If you decide to overlook this crucial step, your mom or your best man will be the one on the floor pinning up your pants or trying to make a size 40 waist fit into size 40 pants.

Get By with a Little Help From Your Friends
Your bride will have help dressing on the big day, and so should you. Having someone assist the fellows with their ties, studs, cuff links and cuffs isn't strictly mandatory, but it can be a big help when the heat is on. Your men may never have worn a tuxedo, and there are elements of the tux that are different from a regular suit. Ask your dad or your grandpa to hang with the guys before the ceremony, as these are the men who will more than likely know what they are doing.

Black Socks, Please
No matter how classy your chosen menswear, paring it with white socks will make you look like a true doofus. If you think your men may not be aware of this simple rule of thumb, give them a few pointers are the rehearsal...and then bride a few pairs of black socks to the wedding dressing room on the big day. That way, if anyone has committed the cardinal sin of wearing white socks, you can order them to switch on the spot. And, oh yeah, forget going sockless -- this isn't Miami Vice.

Here are some other pointers that will help you look your best:
  • Send the males in the bridal party to a reliable tuxedo shop.
  • Allow two to three months lead time if possible (remember prom time can be a zoo).
  • Make sure all receive a proper fitting.
  • Everyone must pick up his (or her) own tux.
  • Everyone must try on their tuxedos for a proper fit before leaving the shop.
  • Have everyone count studs, cuff links, etc., to be sure it's all there. Ask for a few extras, just in case.
  • Each person should return their own tux or designate one person to do this for everyone.
  • If there is a swimming pool, lake or pond, near the reception site, everyone should know in advance what the tux rental shop's policies are regarding "a little swim."
  • The correct tuxedo with the appropriate accessories of black nylon socks, black dress shoes and handkerchief makes for "spiffy" gentlemen.
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