Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Wedding Glossary Pt. II

(Looking for Pt. I of our wedding glossary?)

Many brides-to-be begin planning their weddings thinking it will be as easy as planning any other party. If only it were! When you're dealing with wedding vendors, special clothing like wedding gowns, and multiple guests of honor, things are bound to get complicated. Because we like to think of ourselves a premier wedding planning resource, we decided that it's time we got back to basics. To help brides-to-be (and grooms-to-be) who are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the wedding wisdom out there, we put together a comprehensive wedding glossary. This is Part II:

Bridal Procession
This is the march undertaken by wedding attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen), the groom, the bride, and anyone else participating in the wedding ceremony. Typically, music is played during the processional, and it is followed by the recessional.

These are the gals who are good friends with the bride, supporting her emotionally both before and on her big day. They may pay for their own dresses or not, and some bridesmaids are even given the freedom to pick out their own dresses.

A self service style of meal at a wedding reception, where the food and drinks are presented on a long table, or a series of tables, and the guests collect a plate and help themselves whenever they wish (queues permitting). A buffet is usually the most affordable option as considerably less waiters are needed (if any), but the costs can rise as less control over food portions can be exercised.

A soft and creamy butter-based icing that can be colored, flavored and used for decoration or filling for a wedding cake

This is an ornate highly stylized form of handwriting seen on expensive wedding invitations and on other wedding stationery.

Candle Lighters
These are children (hopefully responsible ones) who light candles at the altar when the bride's mother (who is the official hostess of the ceremony) takes her seat. Sometimes the flower girl or ring bearer will fulfill this role.

Cascade (bouquet)
A type of bridal bouquet that begins as a wide gathering of flowers and then tapers down as it arches toward the floor. It may be almost floor length or just over a few feet long.

Cathedral (veil)
The longest of veils, this is three and a half yards in length.

This is the name for a length of bridal veil that will reach the floor, extending two and a half yards from the headpiece.

Chief Bridesmaid
See Maid Of Honor.

See Pillars.

A bridal headpiece attached to the bride's hair with teeth like a comb. May be as ornate as the bride wishes it to be and can be used to anchor the veil.

Click to access the entire wedding glossary

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Wedding Glossary Pt. I

Every wedding is different, which means that brides-to-be who are planning weddings have a lot to learn. You can't just rely on a template that you find in a bridal magazine or a wedding web site. To make your wedding your own, you have to learn the ins and outs of wedding planning until you could beat Martha Stewart at Wedding Jeopardy!

Luckily, we're here to help you better understand the basics of wedding planning. While it's not always easy to keep everything straight, starting with the basic wedding terminology can mean the difference between a stress-free wedding and a chaotic one.

Here's Part I of our comprehensive wedding glossary:

This is a wide type of necktie that is reserved for the most formal of daytime weddings and occasions. It is worn with a gray cutaway (morning) coat that is longer in the back than at the front and gray striped trousers.

This is a highly decorated comb that sits on the back of a bride's head and is used for attaching her veil.

Ballet (veil)
Also known as a waltz, this is a veil length that drops below the bride's knees, but above her ankles.

Ballet (hemline)
A hemline that falls just above the ankles.

Basket Weave
A type of decorative piping on the wedding cake which features interlinked horizontal and vertical lines of icing.

Best Man
The best man will have numerous duties, the most important of which is to keep the bride's ring safe until it's time for the vows, when he hands it to the groom for putting on her finger. His other duties include announcing speeches at the reception and making his own. He will also sign the marriage license, and make sure the groom gets to the wedding.

A type of posy (bridal bouquet) where the flowers are arranged in rings according to their color. (See posies).

Blusher (veil)
A short, single layered veil that covers the bride's face before the ceremony.

This is an Italian word which is sometimes used to refer to wedding favors. (See wedding favors).

This is a single flower or flower bud or a small group of flowers or buds that is worn by the groom, best man, ushers, and the male relatives of the bride and groom. It is worn on the left (over the heart) lapel of their jackets.

Bow Tie
The most popular choice of tie to wear with a tuxedo. May also be known as a "dickey bow."

Bridal Bouquet or Bride's Bouquet
The bunch of flowers given by the groom to his bride, or the gathered flowers carried by the bride during the ceremony.

Click to access the entire wedding glossary

Monday, 29 December 2008

First Dance Songs for Weddings

The first dance is many couples' favorite part of the wedding reception. Besides the fact that the bride and groom are in the spotlight during the dance, being on the dance floor all alone gives the newlyweds some time to chat in private. Seriously... so much of a wedding reception is spent schmoozing with seldom-seen relatives or graciously accepting congratulations that the bride and groom may never get another opportunity to spend a few quiet moments exchanging sweet nothings. Thank heavens for the first dance!

But choosing a first dance song can be complicated. You and your sweetie may not have ever dubbed any song "your song." Your favorite songs may have adult themes or bad language hidden in otherwise loving lyrics. And if neither of you is particularly into music, you may not even know where to begin! This is where your wedding DJ can help you -- he or she will have helped a lot of couples choose a first dance song and will likely have a huge list of possibilities for you to choose from. However, before you run off and call your wedding disc jockey, we here at Smart Wedding Planning have put together a short list of the most popular first dance songs for weddings. Here's a taste:

  • "God Bless the Broken Road" (Rascal Flatts)
  • "Wonderful Tonight" (Eric Clapton)
  • "Inside Your Heaven" (Carrie Underwood)
  • "The Way You Look Tonight" (Frank Sinatra)
  • "Amazing" (Aerosmith)
  • "Always" (Shania Twain)
  • "I Cross My Heart" (George Strait)
  • "It's Your Love" (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill)
  • "I Need You" (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill)
  • "Lost in This Moment" (Big and Rich)
  • "Don't Take The Girl" (Tim McGraw)
  • "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" (Aerosmith)
  • "A Whole New World" (Peabo Bryson)
  • "Breathe" (Faith Hill)
  • "Because You Loved Me" (Celine Dion)

Click to see the whole list of popular first dance songs for weddings

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Wedding Corsages

Ah, the wedding corsage! When you're choosing your wedding flowers, it's easy to overlook these small tokens most often given to the mothers and grandmothers of both the bride and groom. Corsages are small groupings of flowers mounted on pins or on a wrist band, and corsages are an easy way to honor your female relatives who are not otherwise participating in the wedding.

Choosing corsages for the MOB and others isn't always easy... should you coordinate the corsages with your bridal bouquet? With the wedding colors? With the dresses your bridesmaids are wearing? How much should you budget for wedding corsages? Don't worry -- we're here to help! Smart Wedding Planning has put together a helpful list of tips that will guide you as you ready yourself to buy corsages.

  • The price of corsages can range anywhere from $15.00 to $30.00 or more, depending on the size and type of flowers. If you are on a budget, stay with a simple corsage. You can also DIY if you have the time.
  • Be careful not to make the corsage so elaborate that it becomes large and heavy. Today, there are many delicate fabrics, such as silk, that can not withstand the weight of a heavy corsage mounted on a pin. In most cases, when it comes to corsages smaller is better.
  • Corsages can be worn in many different ways. They can be pinned to the dress, attached to a purse, or worn around the wrist. It's a good idea to ask the person who will be wearing the corsage which style they prefer to wear. You might also ask about the color of their dress in order to help you choose flowers for the corsage that best compliments their wedding attire. Then, give all this information to your florist.
  • A great alternative to the corsage (and cost effective, too) is to give that special person a single rose or very small bouquet tied with tulle and ribbon. The hand held flower or bouquet looks great in the wedding pictures and when the mothers are escorted down the aisle.
  • Corsages are meant to designate special family members. However, you may also give corsages to special friends or those participating in your wedding ceremony, such as your readers, your soloist, or your musicians.

Click to read more about wedding flowers

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Wedding Boutonnières

Wedding flowers for the men? But of course! While most men are not going to carry a bridal bouquet (or is that a grooms bouquet?), the men participating in weddings usually do wear flowers in the form of the boutonnière.

Boutonnières are typically used to identify your ushers, best man, groomsmen, and special male family members. Often, the father and grandfather of both the bride and the groom wear boutonnières.

So how do you choose your boutonnières? Here are four boutonnière tips to help you give your guys a touch of class.

Boutonnières can range in price anywhere from $3.00 to $15.00 each, depending on the type of flower(s) and the intricacy of the design. If you are on a budget, stick with a simple style... or make your own!

The groom's boutonnière should be different in style, color, or type of flower to differentiate him from his groomsmen. For example, a white rose can be used for the groom and a colored rose (to match bridesmaid attire) can be used for the best man and groomsmen.

The most popular flower used for boutonnières is roses. Other flowers that can be used include small orchids, stephanotis, freesia, or carnations. Sometimes a great deal of greenery is used, and some boutonnières even feature embellishments like crystals.

The flowers featured in the bride's bouquet often appear in the groom's boutonnière, and the styles may complement each other.

Click to read more about the various kinds of wedding flowers

Friday, 26 December 2008

Groomsmen Gifts

Selecting a great gift for your groomsmen and best man, especially if you have known them forever, is important. What ever gift you decide to purchase, it should signify the bond of friendship that you and your groomsmen have. Most grooms elect to give gifts that suit the personality of their groomsmen. Some groomsmen may be into sports, cars, or music, while others are into reading, cooking, or movies.

Remember when choosing groomsmen gifts that it is not how much you spend on your groomsmen gifts that matters; rather, it really is the thought that counts. When you give a groomsman a gift, it should be something that you would want to have received as a groomsman from your guy friends.

Here are four potential groomsmen gifts to get you started:

Smokers (QUIT, WILL YA?) will definitely like this personalized cigarette case. Based on the design of vintage cigarette cases, this attractive accessory is perfect for smokers and non-smokers alike! Sleek and sophisticated, it can accommodate up to 16 100s, but it’s also great for stowing cash, credit cards, business cards, gum, condoms, and even a car or house key.

How about a personalized pub sign? The perfect groomsman gift, this sign will look great in his home bar, by his pool table, or in the recreation room. Your groomsman will be proud to show it off every time his buddies come over.

This cool leather-wrapped flask will delight any groomsmen who has caught the pirate bug. The eye-catching design of the skull and crossbones sets this groomsmen hip flask apart from the crowd! Perfect for unleashing their inner pirates on the guys’ night out, this leather flask holds a generous quantity of rum…or any fine liquor.

You can't go wrong with a chic pocket watch! You can personalize this handsome pocket watch thus making it truly a timeless and classic gift. Each pocket watch includes 2 engravable metal plates with self adhesive backing, one plate is for the exterior cover of the pocket watch, and the other plate can be affix to the interior of the pocket watch.

Click to shop for
groomsmen gifts or to read about groomsmen

Thursday, 25 December 2008


Looking for a great gown for your 2009 holiday wedding? How about this strapless organza ball gown, which features an exquisitely beaded bodice, a fashionable waist sash, and bow with hanging tails. The full, decorated skirt ends in a semi-cathedral train that is easily picked up in the case of sleet, snow, or slush. And that sash? For those brides who aren't into Christmas, it comes in a variety of colors, from Hanukkah blue to Kwanzaa orange or green.

We're not, of course, suggesting that you go all out with a Christmas themed wedding -- though you can if that's your thing -- but if your wedding is taking place in the dead of winter, why not give a little shout out to the holidays in your choice of wedding color scheme or wedding gown?

Click to read more about planning a wintertime wedding or to shop for your wedding gown

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Bridesmaids Gift Suggestions

Shopping for bridesmaids gifts and groomsmen gifts can be one of the most harrowing parts of wedding planning. Why? Because it's usually left until the very last minute and there are a lot of expectations attached to what would otherwise be a perfectly ordinary present. To make the whole process less stressful, give yourself plenty of time to shop for bridesmaids gifts and think about what your bridesmaids would really like. Don't worry about what the bridal magazines say you should get!

Still stymied? We have some tips that will help you pick out the best bridesmaids gifts:

Don't worry about price, i.e., do not be concerned that what you're buying costs too much (if you can afford it) or costs too little. An expensive bridesmaids gift does not necessarily mean a great one! You do not need to prove your love to your bridesmaids by getting them something that cost you a lot of money -- you should buy them something that shows that you care.

One idea is to get your bridesmaids some stationary. Stationary is not expensive, but is something that is useful and everyone can use. Another idea is getting each bridesmaid their wedding day jewelry. If you are really tight on cash, you can always write them a personal thank you note. Just remember that you do not need to buy the love of your bridesmaids with your gift.

Remember to keep it tasteful if you do go the 'thank you card' route. Those cards that say "Maybe next time it will be you, but probably not" or "You don't look good in white anyway" get old real fast. And steer clear of gag bridesmaid gifts unless you know for sure that your bridesmaids will really appreciate it.

The bridesmaid gift is part of your wedding and you want it to be tasteful and appropriate to the occasion. Remember, however, that each of your bridesmaids is an individual, and they may not appreciate the same things. One might love a gag gift, while another would much rather have a heartfelt thank you.

Click to shop for the perfect bridesmaids gifts or beautiful bridal jewelry

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Questions to Ask Your Baker

As easy as it is to overlook something as secondary as dessert, you should treat your wedding cake baker like you would treat any other wedding vendor. That means looking for a reputable baker or bakery, asking for references, and getting all of the pertinent details in before you put a deposit down on a wedding cake or dessert package.

When you're thinking of hiring a specific baker to create your wedding cake, have a list of questions handy so you aren't wowed by the flavors and pretty icings during your cake tasting. We've put together a short list of queries below, but it is by no means comprehensive. You can find more at SWP's guide to questions to ask your wedding baker.

  • Do you use all fresh ingredients? Can you accommodate special dietary needs like gluten allergies or veganism?
  • What flavors of cake, icings, and fillings do you offer?
  • When can we come in for a tasting? Is there a fee for this?
  • Can we see photographs of wedding cakes you have created in the past?
  • Are there extra charges for decorative items like pillars or structural items like tier supports?
  • If we are renting those things, when do they need to be returned?
  • What are your delivery and set-up fees, if any? Is this included in the price of the cake?
  • Who will be setting up the cake and at what time?
  • Can you decorate the cake for us with fresh flowers or some other non-edible embellishments if we provide them?
  • What is the price per serving? Does this depend on the number of tiers or the intricacy of design?
  • Will you draw up a contract?
  • When is the first deposit due and when must we pay the balance?

Click to read more about wedding cake and choosing wedding vendors

Monday, 22 December 2008

Wedding Blog Roundup for 12/22/08

It's time for the Monday morning wedding blog round-up where we find the coolest, cutest, and best wedding blog posts from around the Internet. If you're planning a wedding right now, wedding blogs are a great (and underused) resource... particularly for those who are planning their own weddings or paying for a wedding.

We here at Smart Wedding Planning try to follow all the great wedding blogs out there. It's not always easy to read all of them every day, but we read as many as we can. Here are four blog posts from some of our favorite wedding bloggers:

Beautiful (but faux) bridal jewelry
Every Thursday, Never teh Bride of Manolo for the Brides writes a post asking brides and wedding enthusiasts to tell her whether they love or hate certain nuptial accessories. Last week, she asked brides whether they love or hate rhinestone wedding jewelry. Personally? We love it! Bring on the sparkle!

Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows 2008
Luzel of iDiY posted her very own pictures of the Bergdorf Goodman's holiday windows. The dresses are gorgeous, and the French macarons are just as tasty looking as you might imagine. The old school glamour is practically flying through the air, and we are jealous that we won't have the chance to go look at the windows.

The biggest love
Lisa of Bridal Party recently wrote a post describing all of the wonderful ways brides and grooms can give back while planning their weddings. She worked with her maid-of-honor to plan a charity bridal shower, and her wedding favors benefited charity. Talk about sharing the love -- go, Lisa!

Gorgeous and green
Emily of Eco-Chic Weddings posted a wonderful recap of the Martha Stewart Weddings Special on the Style channel, "Gorgeous and Green." She offers up amazing green tips like "Skip petroleum based, toxic parrafin candles. Everytime you light them, you're basically breathing in burning petroleum. Yuck! Soy and beeswax candles are readily available, so make the switch." Will do!

Click to read more about planning a wedding and wedding blogs

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Mother Son Dance Songs

Everyone is familiar with the tradition of the father daughter dance that takes place at most wedding receptions. In recent years, the mother-of-the-groom has decided she wanted to get in on the act, and the mother son dance was born. While not yet as popular as the father daughter dance, the number of songs for mothers and sons to choose from is definitely growing.

If the groom has more than one mom in his life -- common, these days -- he can begin dancing with one, and the other can cut in part way through the dance. If the groom doesn't have a mom, an aunt, grandma, or sister can stand in if she's had a hand in raising him. Some couples combine the mother son and father daughter dances to save time during the wedding reception, since wedding guests are usually eager to get to the wedding cake!

Below you'll find a list of the most popular mother son dance songs.

I'm With You -- Joan Baez

In My Life -- The Beatles

In This Life -- Collin Raye

Mama -- B.J. Thomas

Memories -- Elvis Presley

Memory -- Barbara Streisand

My Son -- Brendan Shine

A Song For Mama --Boyz II Men

As Time Goes By -- Ray Anthony Orchestra

Because You Loved Me -- Celine Dion

Blessed -- Elton John

Boy of Mine --Good Time Singers

Butterfly Kisses --Bob Carlisle

Close To You -- The Carpenters

Do You Remember -- Phil Collins

Don't Know Much -- L. Ronstadt & A. Neville

Ebb Tide -- Righteous Brothers

Edelweiss -- The Sound Of Music

For the Good Times -- Ray Price

Forever Young -- Rod Stewart

Glory of Love -- Peter Cetera

Greatest Love of All -- Whitney Houston

God Bless The Child -- Tony Bennett

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You -- Rod Stewart

Hero -- Mariah Carey

I Am Your Child -- Barry Manilow

I.O.U. (I Owe You Mother) -- Jimmy Dean

I Remember You -- Bette Midler

I Will Remain Your Little Boy -- Chris Taylor

I Wish You Love -- Natalie Cole

I'll Have To Say I Love You In a Song -- Jim Croce

I'm With You -- Joan Baez

Click to read more about wedding traditions and wedding receptions

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Wedding Invitation Timelines

Carrie wrote to ask:

When should I send out my wedding invitations? My mom says I should wait until just six weeks before, but my fiance thinks we should send them out as soon as possible so people have plenty of time to make travel arrangements. Did I mention that we're getting married in a city far away from where most of our friends and family live? People will need to get hotel rooms and travel by air, so I understand his concerns.

Well, Carrie, it sounds like you need save-the-date cards. You didn't say how soon your wedding actually is, but if it's more than two months away, then definitely look into these useful pieces of wedding stationery. If you do opt to send save-the-date cards (at least to those guests who must travel a long way) prepare and send them out ASAP. If you've arranged for hotel discounts, include any pertinent information on the cards.

As far as your wedding invitations go, your mom is right. Wait until about six weeks before sending those out.

Click to learn more about wedding stationery

Friday, 19 December 2008

Bridal Weight Loss Tips

Feeling flabby? Here are eight great bridal weight loss tips that will help you shape up before you don your wedding dress:

1. Work out with your future husband or wife. Pumping iron alone can be boring -- it's way more fun when you have a partner. This way, you'll both look your best on your wedding day.

2. Stop eating so much sugar. Even if you're not big on desserts or sweets, incidental sugars like the sugar in your morning coffee can add up fast.

3. Lift weights! We promise you won't bulk up and look like Aaaaahnold. You will, however, get firm and tight.

4. Walking is exercise, too. You don't have to break a sweat and do hundreds of reps to lose a little weight or tighten your butt before the wedding. Just make an effort to walk instead of driving a couple of times a week.

5. Forget dieting -- depriving yourself isn't going to help your wedding planning stress levels. Just drink plenty of water and eat plenty of healthy foods. This is great for your skin, too!

6. Start a fitness journal. This can be anything from a food diary to a motivational collection of workouts from magazines. Whatever helps you make working out and eating right a part of your life!

7. Set reasonably pre-wedding fitness goals. Don't buy a wedding gown that's three sizes too small or starve yourself. Plan on making life changes, not taking temporary drastic action.

8. Play! Exercise doesn't have to be boring. Join a soccer team, take a dance class, or run around with your nieces and nephews. It all burns calories and gets those muscles pumping!

Click to learn more about bridal fitness

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Wedding Statistics from American Bridal

If you haven't already guessed by now, we're serious wedding voyeurs over at Smart Wedding Planning. If someone invites us to a wedding, we go. If someone asks us to look at their wedding photos, we do. Slides? We'll watch them gladly? You want us to have a copy of your wedding DVD? Yes, please! Basically, we're interested in anything and everything having to do with weddings, from who is having them to how much money they're spending. Hey, everyone has a hobby, right? Weddings are just our thing.

So imagine how tickled pink we were when we received word that American Bridal's yearly wedding survey results were finally in! Now we could see just how the weddings we've been to lately measure up to the average. When it came to excerpting it, we just couldn't decide what to include, so the full results are below:
Most (90%) are doing the planning themselves, with help from family and friends, and not hiring a professional wedding planner.

Since budgets are a concern for many, It looks like there’s a major spread in wedding budgets. About 25% are planning a wedding on a budget of less than $10,000, while 25% have wedding budgets over $25,001. The remaining 50% are somewhere in between, with 38% reporting in the range of $10,001 to $20,000.

“Location, location, location” as the saying goes, and roughly a quarter (25%) are having the reception at a hotel, and 10% have opted to host their nuptials at a country club. About 6% of couples selected a destination wedding, while a majority (55%) reported they are finding another type of venue to rent for the event and reception.

Size matters for this year’s brides, and by that we mean the size of the wedding party. Most couples (48%) will have between 5 to 8 people, while 37% of respondents have 9 or more bridesmaids and attendants. The trend seems to lean toward larger, more inclusive wedding parties, which leads us to the number of invited guests. Nearly 40% report they will have a guest count of more than 200 and 14% say their total guest count is under 100. A good 34% are inviting 100 to 150 guests.

As for cutting costs and wedding budgets, 68% said they’ve lowered their budgets by $1,000 or less. However, the small cuts they are making may not have a big impact on the actual wedding. Items that brides generally won’t skimp on are wedding gowns, photography and wedding rings.

When asked more specifically about what they would and would not change, most are not significantly altering music, location, reception style, or dress. Instead, they are more likely to adjust the cost of invitations, wedding favors, bridal accessories and gifts for the bridal party (combined, 46% of respondents said they would make changes in these 3 areas).

Click to shop for
wedding favors and more at American Bridal

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wedding Insurance -- Do You Need It?

As the bride-to-be you've thought about your gown, weighed the pros and cons of various venues and looked at photographers' portfolios until you just couldn't turn another page. You're doing great so far! However, you may have ignored a very important part of planning a wedding. We're talking about wedding risk management, more commonly known as wedding insurance or event insurance. After all, when it comes right down to it, there's plenty that can go wrong when you're trying to put together the perfect wedding.

With the average costs of weddings pegged at about $30,000 (and this number is expected to continue to climb, even in the current economic climate) insuring your big day against all kinds of glitches just makes good sense. Event insurance typically covers cancellation or postponement of a wedding if a member of the bridal party dies or gets sick... as long as they didn't have a pre-existing condition.

Wedding insurance also covers a bridal party member's failure to show because they are injured or are called up to active military duty or there is a shutdown of commercial transportation. The insurance policy also kicks in if one of your wedding vendors can't make the wedding or you need to reassemble the entire wedding party for a second photo shoot because the original photos were lost or damaged by the wedding photographer. Finally, your wedding insurance will cover the cost of the wedding bands if they are stolen or lost, and the value of wedding gifts that are stolen or lost.

The typical cost for a basic policy is between $125 and $350 with a $25 deductible. Like any other insurance coverage, the premium varies depending on the amount of coverage needed. But unlike other coverages, the premium is a one-time payment even if the policy is purchased well in advance of your date. In most instances, a policy can be purchased two weeks to two years prior to the event.

The only thing it definitely won't cover? A change of heart by the bride- or groom-to-be.

Click to read more about wedding insurance and planning a wedding

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Budget Wedding Tips

Sometimes, saving money on a wedding can feel like a chore not worth undertaking. After all, how much money can a bride and groom possibly save when they're buying wedding favors, wedding stationery, and all of the other stuff they need when planning a wedding. Budgeting is hard... we won't deny that. But we also won't deny that it can be sooooo worth it, especially when you're paying for your wedding using your very own money.

So what does a budget wedding look like? The good news is that a budget wedding can look like every other wedding out there. Saving money on your wedding does not mean serving a cake made of Twinkies or wearing an outdated polyester wedding gown you found at a garage sale! Saving money on your wedding just means getting a little creative. If you love puzzles, you'll love finding new ways to keep cash in your pocket when planning your ceremony and reception.

To get you started, we've compiled the ten best (and easiest) ways to save money on your wedding.

1. Get married in the morning, on a Friday or a Sunday. Getting married in the winter months can also save you money.

2. Keep the guest list small. You can always have a second, larger party after the wedding to celebrate with friends and acquaintances.

3. Make your own veil. Most craft stores sell how-to books and supplies. You can save hundreds of dollars by making your own, and as DIY wedding projects go, this one is pretty easy.

4. Purchase your wedding gown at a place other than a bridal salon. Check out the prom section of the department store, or buy a gown online!

5. Supply your own alcohol if you're able to.

6. Consider not having a dinner reception. Opt instead for a brunch or afternoon tea, or try a cocktail or dessert party. You have to feed guests something, but it doesn't have to be a complete meal.

7. Use silk flowers. They always cost less than fresh flowers, plus they can be rented. Making your own bridal bouquet is easy, too.

8. Decorate with more greenery and baby's breath, and less flower blooms.

9. Make your own invitations. There are software programs available that can help you with this task, and you can purchase wedding desktop publishing paper at any office supply shop. Some stationery companies even sell easy-to-use wedding invitation kits!

10. 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.

Don't forget to check out Talk About Weddings, a great new wedding forum, and to sign up for free wedding planning advice from Daily Wedding Tip!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Flower Girl Dresses

The flower girl tradition began a long time ago in Europe and has now become a popular trend in Europe and other parts of the world as well. A flower girl is perhaps the most vibrant participant in a wedding procession. She naturally draws the attention of the guests and adds her energy to the joyous occasion as she and her group prepares the way for the bride.

That said, your flower girl will be all the more vibrant and beautiful if you clothe her in the right dress! Here are three wonderful flower girl dresses from Emerald Bridal that are sure to delight your littlest attendant.

Here we have a gorgeous blue sleeveless dress made of two colors of organza. The bodice is trimmed with matte satin piping, and the dress features a matte satin sash trimmed with dainty flowers. This dress is perfect for the younger flower girl who wants to feel like a princess!

This flower girl dress is made of matte satin and has a sweetheart neckline, princess seams, a drop waist, and a full skirt. A flower cluster accents the front, making it perfect for the feminine flower girl.

A sleeveless dress of new taffeta with a full, gathered skirt is great for the more mature flower girl. The sash is trimmed with three fabric flowers.

Click to shop for flower girl dresses or to learn more about wedding planning

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Unique Wedding Ceremonies

Traditional wedding ceremonies aren't going anywhere anytime soon, but a growing number of brides and grooms are choosing to invent their own traditions. If this sounds like you, know that you don't have to toss tradition in the trash to put your own spin on your wedding. Most couples simply augment the traditional wedding ceremony with their own rituals and wedding vows.

Unique and personally meaningful weddings reflect a more innovative spirit. Ceremonies involving combined liturgy, or for example, both a priest and a rabbi, are now fairly common because interfaith couples are now a mainstream sight. Fifty years ago, this combination would have been taboo among most people! We've come a long way, baby!

The gathering of witnesses is a part of almost every wedding ceremony, if only because most states' marriage laws require at least two witnesses to declare a marriage legal. Sometimes, however, a the community of the bride and/or the groom falls outside of the usual church groups, family units, or neighborhoods. As long as you have the requisite number of witnesses as required by your locale, your larger body of witnesses can be anyone, from strangers on the beach to Internet friends watching your wedding web cast.

Some couples have chosen to create beautiful ceremonies that go farther back in time... to the goddess and earth religions that predate the patriarchy altogether. Ceremonies held at sacred sites, scheduled according to the lunar calendar, and incorporating a respect for the powers of nature are growing in popularity. Sometimes these marriage ceremonies are conducted by modern-day shamans or priestesses.

Sometimes, brides and grooms who desire an innovative wedding get married legally by a local magistrate at the county courthouse, then hold a more alternative ceremony among family and friends. This is a great way to compromise when it feels like there is no way to avoid having a traditional wedding ceremony.

Remember that anything goes! It's your wedding, and you deserve to have the wedding you want, whether that means a big church affair, a private exchange of vows at Stonehenge, or any other kind of ceremony you can think of.

Click to read more about wedding traditions and wedding etiquette

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Floral Wedding Favors

Where we live, the weather has been yucky lately. Long story short, it's cold and I'm dreaming of summertime. While I can't get the warm weather to come back any more quickly, I can spend as much time as possible looking at summery, floral wedding favors in bright colors and fun shapes. Whether you're having a springtime wedding, a summertime wedding, or a summer themed wedding, you may just find the perfect wedding favors in the quatro of favors below!

A modern take on a traditional wedding sentiment, these personalized cherry blossom candy jar wedding favors impart classic Asian appeal with contemporary flair. This adorably practical wedding favor takes the form of a antique-look candy cache your guests will certainly savor.

A breathtaking addition to any springtime wedding ceremony or bridal shower, butterfly felt ring candle holder wedding favors reflect the subtle grace of fluttering butterflies. Doubling as wedding decorations… and as wedding favors for your guests… these lovely votive holders add a hint of stylish color to your event.

For your garden wedding, these beautiful butterfly wedding favors are a practical way to express your thanks, assign seating, and decorate your tables. Butterfly wedding favors can also be the cheerful couriers of decadent chocolates, floral arrangements, traditional wedding mints, or any treats you can imagine.

Gracefully mirroring the effect of your flower girl sprinkling petals at your wedding ceremony, these glass flower wedding favors create an elegant, petal-strewn look on the tables at your wedding reception. Your guests will be delighted by the ethereal effect of these beautiful wedding decorations.

Click to read more about choosing wedding favors

Friday, 12 December 2008

Advice for Brides / Advice for Bridesmaids

When it comes time to choose the bridesmaids' dresses, many brides choke. Sure, the bride-to-be knows what she wants and what she likes, but how can she translate that into dresses for bridesmaids of different shapes, sizes, and styles? When it comes to bridesmaids' dresses, compromise is the key. It's the bride's wedding, so she ultimately has the final say when it comes to what her wedding attendants will be wearing. At the same time, bridesmaids shouldn't let themselves be suckered into wearing hot pink polyester!

We've compiled a shortlist of advice for brides and advice for bridesmaids that will help stave off conflicts over dresses and hopefully ensure that everyone is happy with what they are wearing when the wedding day rolls around.

When selecting your bridesmaids' dresses, it is always best to try to keep your bridesmaids' tastes in mind. As the bride, when you look back on your wedding, you probably won't care all that much about what your bridesmaid dresses looked like. Their budgets, personalities, shapes, sizes and opinions should all be factored in to your decision. Try not to forget that the reason they are standing up in your wedding is because they are the ones that have been there for you in your life. You don't want to embarrass them or make them uncomfortable just for your happiness. Although some dresses are more reusable than others, eventually all styles go out of fashion. However, your friends and family never will go out of style and will always be needed.

As a bridesmaid, try to be flexible and be willing to compromise to a certain extent. This is your dear friend's or relative's special day and you want her to be happy. Don't let a dress that you may only wear for one day get in the way of a long-time friendship that will hopefully last a lifetime. If you really don't like the dress, take it to a local consignment store soon after the wedding while it is still in style. Otherwise you can donate it to a local charity. Someone else out there will love the dress and be thrilled to get a bargain. Then you will have made another person happy, too!

Click to read more advice for brides

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Bridal Shower Invitations

Maids-of-honors and bridesmaids, this post is for you. If you're the bride-to-be, feel free to e-mail your best gal pals a link to the blog because it's their job (not yours) to plan your bridal shower. Once the hostess knows when and where the bridal shower will be, and the theme if any, it's time for her to think about the shower invitations. We've often been asked what the maid-of-honor or bridesmaids should include on the invitation. Here's a short list of necessary info that will help you create a basic bridal shower invitation:

  • The date, time, and length of the wedding shower
  • The address and specific location of the party
  • The name of the bride, and the correct spelling of the groom's full name
  • The intended shower guests, listed by name
  • The location of the couple's wedding gift registry or registries
  • Directions or even a map to the party venue
  • The theme, if it is to be a themed wedding shower
  • Indicate whether cocktails and snacks, tea and cake, or a full meal will be served
  • In the case of a potluck party, suggest dishes guests can bring
  • What guests should wear, if this is appropriate
  • RSVP information, and an RSVP deadline

That's it, unless you want to include other information on your bridal shower invitations. If you're planning a bridal shower that will have a specific theme, consider choosing invitations that highlight that theme, e.g., invitations with a vintage kitchen pattern for a kitchen shower. Remember, however, that how your bridal shower invitations look is less important than ensuring that everyone has a good time. If guests enjoy themselves, they'll forgive almost any breach in etiquette!

Click to shop for bridal shower favors or to read more about bridal shower etiquette

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Wedding Day Transportation Pt. II

(Looking for Wedding Day Transportation Pt. I?)

Yesterday, we talked about choosing your wedding day limo. Today we're going to talk about actually booking your transportation to and from the ceremony and reception. The more you know when you meet with your limousine or car company, the more confident you will be when negotiating and nailing down a price. If you have a huge wedding budget, feel free to pay whatever you're asked to pay.

If, on the other hand, you only have so much money to devote to a limo, don't be shy about asking a manager or the owner what they can do for you. Remember, they want your business! Here are some of the things you should think about when it comes time to book your wedding day transportation.

Ask how the company calculates its charges. Some will provide an itemized list of costs. Are you being charged for a block of time or per hour? Is the price based on distance? What if you go overtime or your destination changes? Does the final bill include extras like champagne or a red carpet?

Ask about tipping. Is it already included in the price? If not, 15% of the total bill is customary and 20% can be given for great service.

Ask about any available discounts, if any. Many companies will offer discounts to the bride and groom when they reserve additional vehicles for their wedding attendants or book a limo for their pre-wedding parties.

Wedding Specials or Packages
Some companies offer various wedding packages including super-stretch limousines, customized "Just Married" signs with the bride and groom's names, or decorations to match the wedding colors. The worst they can say is that they don't provide these types of services!

Check References
As with all of your wedding vendors, it is always important to check references. The company should be happy to share this information with you. If they aren't, move on. They don't deserve your business!

Don't forget to check out Talk About Weddings, an awesome wedding forum where your fellow brides-to-be and wedding experts can answer all of your wedding planning questions!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Wedding Day Transportation Pt. I

Most couples spend a great deal of time pouring over the details of their upcoming weddings but don't get around to choosing their wedding day transportation until the last minute. It's not surprising! Your guests will eat the wedding cake and gaze at your wedding gown, but few will even see the limo (or other car) you use to get to and from your wedding ceremony and reception. Still, a lot of brides and grooms opt for photographs with their limousines, so it makes sense to look into your options instead of just looking through the yellow pages.

Note: In some cases, the least expensive option may not be the most reliable -- what would happen if your wedding limo (or party bus) is late, or worse, if it didn't show up at all?

Here are some important considerations and questions to ask when selecting your wedding day transportation company. If you're careful and choosy, you will have a dependable and enjoyable ride on your wedding day.

Type of Vehicles
Ask about the types of cars or limousines that the company offers. There are six, eight and ten+ passenger (super stretch) limos. There are also classic cars and party buses. Ask how many passengers each car can hold comfortably. Make sure the vehicle you inspect is actually the vehicle that will arrive at your ceremony location.

Color and Style
Don't just assume that your limousine will be white! Limousines come in white, gray, navy and black, so it's important that you specify exactly what you want. Ask about other types of cars that are available. Some companies offer custom vehicles or vintage cars like Rolls Royces.

Condition of Vehicles
Ask the year and model of the cars you are interested in. If it is an older car, is it in good condition? Will it look dated or tacky? Try to visit the limo company before you book them and ask to see the type of limo that will be picking you up. Be sure to inspect both the inside and outside of the car.

Ask the company about its chauffeurs. Choose a company that places a high value and emphasis on the quality and professionalism of their chauffeurs. References will help here, especially if they mention drivers by name. Finally, ask how the chauffeur will be dressed. Will he or she be wearing a tuxedo? Some companies will even send their drivers with top hats and white gloves, so if you like the sound of that, ask for it.

Click to learn more about wedding limos

Monday, 8 December 2008

Wedding Blog Roundup

We here at Smart Wedding Planning try to follow all the great wedding blogs out there. It's not always easy to read all of them every day, but we read as many as we can. Here are four blog posts from some of our favorite wedding bloggers:

Create the perfect candy buffet
Never teh Bride of Manolo for the Brides posted a bunch of pictures of beautiful candy buffets and dessert tables created by wedding planner Amy Atlas. All of the wedding sweets look as beautiful as they are delicious when Atlas and her team work their magic!

Wedding invitations and Miss Manners
Bride in Exile, creator of Wedding Planning in Exile, shared her wedding invitation woes with us. She and her intended clashed over the "right" way to address envelopes, and she got a shock when she looked up proper invitation etiquette.

Talking about wedding cake
Busy Bride of Laptop Bride clears up the most common wedding cake questions in her recent post about all things cakey. For example, did you know that the average wedding cake costs between $500 and $700?

Pretty in plaid
No pattern is off limits, according to Blake of WedSmack. She posted a whole bunch of pictures of plaid wedding inspiration to give gals with Scotsmen on their minds ideas. We love the plaid Lynn Lugo bridesmaids!

Click to read more about wedding planning and tying the knot

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Wedding Shower Ideas

Hey, brides! This post is for your maid-of-honor and your bridesmaids, so pass it along to them via e-mail when they're not looking so they have plenty of wedding shower ideas to work with when they're planning your pre-wedding bash! Remember that you, the bride, shouldn't have any part in planning your bridal shower, but that doesn't mean you can't drop all kinds of hints about the shower you might like to have.

Here are three bridal shower ideas to get you started:

The most popular wedding shower idea is the kitchen shower, and it's really the most practical as well. After all, no one can have too many kitchen utensils or appliances, and there is also a host of nice little gourmet treats that the bride may love. If, however, the bride-t0-be has been living on her own for 10 years, it's likely that she has everything she needs for the kitchen. Check with her before planning this kind of shower.

A personal shower is also nice, with everyone giving the bride a gift of lingerie or accessories such as inexpensive jewelry. Should you decide to choose to include lingerie in the gift list you give to guests, please be sure that your friend will enjoy opening packages of undies and teddies in front of her relatives. Sometimes bridal showers involving lingerie are best kept 'friends only.'

Alternately, call a local day spa and ask if you can book an afternoon for pedicures and manicures for the whole crew. No cake, no boring gift-opening sessions, and no awkward small talk. You can all chat and giggle and feel spoiled, then duck out for a drink and dinner. No muss, no fuss, no clean-up or decorating for you. It's perfect for busy bridesmaids.

Have fun!

Click to learn more about planning a wedding shower

Saturday, 6 December 2008

DIY Wedding Favors

If you're going to go the DIY route when it comes to your wedding favors (or shower favors), you have to start with the right supplies. Whether or not you have a local craft store close by, consider buying your wedding favor supplies online like we did. The benefits to buying online are awesome -- you can do price comparisons of ribbon, favor boxes, and the favors themselves, and you don't have to brave the crush of the holiday shopping crowd. It's a win all around, we think!

For those brides and bridesmaids who are still looking for ideas, we've put together a little DIY wedding favor boxes primer to help you figure out just what kind of wedding favors you want. All of the favor supplies below come from American Bridal, though feel free to shop around.

Miniature metal pail favors are a blank canvas for your very own creative wedding favor ideas, but here are a few to get you started. Stylish and simple, these mini galvanized buckets can be used as candy containers, as shown, offering your guests a handful of treats to share the sweetness of your wedding day.

Miniature gold chair wedding favor boxes add intriguing appeal to a formal wedding reception. Cleverly concealing small soaps, scrumptious candies, or other tantalizing treats, these gold favor boxes double as place card holders. Awaiting your guests at their place settings, these elegant miniature chairs are a warm welcome to your wedding reception!

Brilliant presentation for a number of small treats -- not just salt and pepper -- these vintage-inspired, diner-style shakers make a whimsical impression. Practical wedding favors are all the rage, and this cute salt and pepper set is right on point!

Palm tree favor boxes are the perfect way to surprise your guests with a tasty treat! A delightful gift for your bridal shower or wedding guests, this fun favor box celebrates your wedding with a tribute to the sandy shore.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Golden Wedding Gowns

Gold is a wonderful wedding gown color for those who would rather not wear the traditional white wedding dress. Why do some brides choose to wear gold gowns? Many make this choice because they simply don't look good in white or ivory -- people with certain skin tones look better in richer colors. Wedding gowns can be any color under the sun, from deep purple to emerald green. If you've never considered wear a gold wedding dress, have a look at the beautiful dresses below!

Lustrous French metallic brocade fabric is fashioned into a sweetheart strapless gown with an empire cut and soft flare bias cut skirt. A sash of champagne silk blend organza can tie in the front or back. This gown was designed to be worn for many social occasions and by women of every age.

Haute Couture in a fabulous metallic-blend French taffeta gown! Roses and exquisitely beaded re-embroidered Alencon lace accent this strapless straight across bodice and embellish the two-tiered bubble skirt and chapel train. The bodice lace is heavily beaded with Swarovski crystals and other glass beads.

An absolutely gorgeous French metallic brocade is tailored into a halter gown with a stand-up collar. A sash of champagne silk blend organza is tied around the waist to complete the floor length bias cut circular skirt. This dress may be ordered in this fantastic brocade fabric or in a white, ivory or champagne organza over matte satin.

Beautiful, no? So go for the gold!

Click to shop for your
wedding dress

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Wedding Dress Accessories

When shopping for your bridal accessories you need to keep your wedding gown in mind. Unless you're basing your entire look on one accessory that you absolutely adore -- like your grandmother's emerald necklace -- it is your dress that will determine what else you will wear.

There is much more to a wedding dress than just the dress itself. It is said that accessories make the woman... well, in this case, it's the wedding dress accessories that make the bride! Look at pictures on the Internet or look in bridal magazines to see what type of accessories others are wearing and what sort of wedding gowns they are wearing them with.

Then, look at the type of dress you have and the neck line. This will help when deciding what kind of necklace you want to wear. Do you want to wear a simple pearl necklace, or do you want a luxurious diamond necklace? Do you want stud earrings or drop? You don't have to decide right this second, but knowing what you like will help you better understand what your options are.

There are a lot of decisions to be made when deciding on all the frills and trimmings of your dress. If you are planning on wearing your mother's pearl necklace, you need to discuss this well in advance. Maybe she lost it. Maybe it's in the safe deposit box she lost the key for. You never know. Your husband-to-be may have bought you a heart shaped necklace at one time and it is the perfect wedding day accessory. Then again, don't feel like you HAVE to wear a gift or heirloom. It's up to you!

Make sure you decide on your earrings too. If you are planning on wearing your bridal hairstyle as an updo, then everyone will see your ears. Drop earrings are elegant. Stud earrings are sophisticated. If you don't have pierced ears, ask your jeweler if she or he can modify an existing design for clip-on earrings. What about a bracelet? Are you going to wear one? There are so many options for your wedding day. Making sure that you have all the little details in place at least a few days before your ceremony will make your day go a lot smoother.

Finally, don't obsess! If your wedding day accessories aren't perfect, it's not the end of the world. We promise you will look absolutely stunning no matter what!

Click to learn more about wedding dresses or to shop for your wedding gown

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wedding Band or Wedding DJ?

If you or your spouse-to-be are music lovers and you have a good sized wedding budget, you may face quite the dilemma when you're planning your wedding reception! Do you hire a wedding disc jockey or a wedding band?

There are pros and cons to both, of course, which means there is no perfect option. It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of each before making a final decision. Luckily, we're here to help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of the options on the table.

DJ PROS: Disc jockeys have hundreds or even thousands of songs at their fingertips and can usually find any songs they don't already have. Their repertoire will bridge styles and eras, so you can please everyone at your wedding reception. They typically cost less than live wedding bands to hire, and they get the crowd excited in addition to just playing music. Finally, they won't take as many breaks.

DJ CONS: When getting the party going, your DJ may play music you don't like. Additionally, larger entertainment companies can make it difficult to pin down who will actually be working at your wedding. Some people also think that DJs are too casual for formal events like weddings.

BAND PROS: Few forms of entertainment are as engaging as live music. You can choose a wedding band that matches your tastes (swing, classic rock, etc.) so you're less likely to hear music you dislike. Bands get people dancing!

BAND CONS: The price... A wedding band's repertoire will always be limited because they simply cannot learn every song out there. Live musicians need to take breaks between sets, which means your music goes bye-bye. Live music can make a wedding reception feel more like a concert.

That's about it! No matter what you choose -- a wedding band or a wedding DJ -- be sure that you hire musicians or entertainers from a reputable company and you have a satisfactory vendor contract in your hands before you hand over any money.

Click to learn more about choosing wedding music

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Wedding Gown Hemlines

Yesterday's post described some of the most popular wedding gown necklines, so today we're switching it up a bit and defining some of the most popular wedding gown hemlines. Memorize both before you go shopping for your wedding dress, and you'll end up being a beautiful bride from top to bottom!

Full Length
This is by far the most sought-after hemline among those brides who want to wear a traditional white wedding gown. If the hemline isn't actually touching the floor, it should look like it is. Shoes only make an appearance when the bride kicks up her heels on the wedding reception dance floor! This length works on almost all kinds of wedding gown skirts, whether they are slim (like a pencil skirt) or wide (like the skirt of a ballgown).

Ankle Length
Many brides who fear tripping as they walk down the aisle opt for this length of skirt when choosing their wedding gowns. It is a practical option in more ways than one. Moving around is much easier in gowns sporting this hemline, and brides who plan on keeping their wedding gowns don't have to worry about stains on the hem.

While thoughts of ballet can bring tutus and tulle to mind, this hemline is all about length, not materials. Falling at about 2" above the ankle, this style of hemline is fun and flirty and feminine without being overwhelmingly so. In recent years, more brides have chosen ballerina length wedding dresses, though this option remains only somewhat popular.

Tea Length
If you're a semi-casual bride, this may be the gown length you're looking for. Tea length wedding dresses fall somewhere between the knee and mid-calf and are usually worn by those brides whose weddings are elegant but not pretentious. Good for garden parties and daytime weddings, this hemline is frequently seen at destination weddings.

Click to learn more about choosing a wedding gown or to shop for a wedding gown

Monday, 1 December 2008

Wedding Gown Necklines

Confused about all the wedding gown styles out there? We were, too, until we compiled this little guide that explains some of the more common wedding gown necklines.

No sleeves, shoulders are completely bare.

The neckline is in the shape of a v, may have long or short sleeves.

High collar at the back of the neck that curves down into a rounded neckline.

Neckline curves from shoulder to shoulder just below the collarbone, may have long or short sleeves.

Neckline (often strapless) forms a heart shape above the décolletage.

A u-shaped neckline, may have long or short sleeves.

Angular neckline.

Shallow scooping neckline that follows the line of the collarbone.

Neckline curves around and fastens at the back of the neck leaving the shoulders and back bare, may dip low in the front.

Neckline falls below collarbone with straps resting off the shoulders.

Neckline rests off the shoulders, with fabric folded thickly over the arms, under the shoulders.

Round neckline that curves along the base of the neck.

Click to learn more about wedding dress styles