Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Wedding Reception Basics

However tempting it might be to run off after your wedding ceremony with your new spouse to sip champagne, pose for hours of wedding photos, or just get a burger, remember that your wedding guests are waiting for you! The wedding reception is one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding for the people who love you most, and part of their enjoyment hinges upon getting to see you in all your finery up close.

If you're going to be late to your wedding reception because posing for wedding photographs is going to take a while, be generous and have sumptuous treats to greet your wedding guests. Cocktail hour creates an environment conducive to mingling and conversation, especially when you have soft music playing in the background and plenty of drinks to go around.

Having a cocktail hour at your wedding reception gives your wedding guests an opportunity to get to know each other and talk. To set the mood, opt for jazz classics piping through your reception venue's sound system. Jazz classics are enjoyable, but at the same time set an elegant mood that reminds people that they are in attendance at a solemn and important event.

Consider springing for extra wait staff at the reception venue. It is quite a hassle to have to repeatedly go to the bar, and once there, wait in line. It also adds a sense of refinement to your event to have butlered drinks being passed. Here is a chance to incorporate your personality by having a signature drink passed and available at the bar. Put up a little sign in a silver plated frame explaining the significance of your custom wedding cocktail.

Trust us when we say that it's little touches like that that make a wedding feel truly special... even if the bride and groom haven't yet arrived!

Click to learn more about planning a wedding reception

Monday, 16 February 2009

Wedding Themes

When a bride comes to us here at Smart Wedding Planning, the first question out of our mouths is usually "What's your wedding theme?" If they answer that they haven't chosen a wedding theme (or a wedding color scheme) we usually let out a collective sign.

Wedding themes and wedding color schemes are so much more important than most brides imagine! Unless you've been envisioning the perfect wedding since you were a little girl, you're probably going to need something to guide you as you choose wedding invitations, wedding favors, a wedding gown, a reception venue, and all of the other elements of a modern wedding.

If you don't have a wedding theme, you may just find yourself with five different unrelated things in your wedding, which can look messy and uncoordinated. So pick a wedding theme! A wedding theme doesn't have to be big or overt -- look at who you and your fiancé are. What are your hobbies? What do you do for a living? How about these wedding themes: Golden Age of Hollywood, Mardi Gras Masquerade, Country, Mediterranean, etc.

The possibilities are endless! And just to simplify things, your wedding colors can be your wedding theme. However, you must be consistent. If your "theme" is going to be green and pink, decide on shades and stick to them. Don't have forest, chartreuse, lime, and mint all over the place. Also, try to pick a maximum of three wedding colors and make sure that they complement each other. Try to pick "in-season" colors as well -- pastel pink at a November/December wedding is a bit off.

Remember, your wedding theme will pull your whole event together, from food to favors to flowers.

Click to read more about choosing a wedding theme

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Something Old, Something New

While some religions like are very strict when it comes to wedding gowns and bridal accessories, you can still bend the rules and honor the wedding traditions of your culture. It's not always easy, however, which means you should dedicate a little time to researching your heritage before you get too creative.

For example, when Tina (a recent bride from Norway living in New York) decided it was time for her to find a traditional wedding headpiece, she went with the herb wreath common in her culture but wore a stylish updo for her wedding hairstyle.

Michelle, a Chinese bride, decided to add a modern spin to her wedding by wearing red and gold crystal hairpins in her wedding hairstyle to match her ceremonial red wedding gown.

"I knew I wanted to incorporate the colors from the tartan kilt my fiancé was wearing," said Jennifer, a Scottish bride, "so I used blue and green flowers and used those colors in my bridal tiara."

Catherine, a Spanish bride, wanted to remember her heritage by wearing a bridal tiara with colored stones to match the embroidery on her Flamenco-style wedding gown. "I wanted a different twist on the white wedding dress and bridal veil."

How did they honor tradition and get the wedding day look they wanted? Here's a tip that will help you emulate these creative brides:

Use traditional colors or patterns in non-traditional ways, like using flowers or colored stones in your bridal headpiece or tiara. Use accents of jade if want to include some green, rose quartz to capture the look of cherry blossoms, or tanzanite stones to capture the look of African violets.

Click to learn more about wedding traditions and weddings in different countries

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Red Wedding Favors

In honor of Valentine's Day, we have compiled a list of five of our absolute favorite red wedding favors. If you're not one of the many brides who have chosen some shade of red or pink as their wedding colors, these wedding favors may inspire you to find similar gifts for guests that match your chosen color scheme.

"Chinese Tapestry" votive candles are a beautiful accent for your wedding reception or bridal shower tables, adding a sophisticated touch to any Asian-themed (or red hued) event.

Personalized wedding mints are a chic and practical wedding favor that almost all of your guests will appreciate.

Two darling red-and-black ladybug magnets have sweet, smiling faces and tiny, black hearts on their plump, red backs. These wedding favors compliment a number of different wedding themes, from ladybugs to red and black color schemes.

Charming snow cone bath salts look like festive and colorful red and white edible cone desserts, but they actually hold skin softening salts that are guaranteed to help wedding guests relax after a long day.

Practical and whimsical, these exquisite apple themed salt and pepper shakers add an amusing touch to your guests’ kitchen tables. While these are wonderful for fall weddings, they make a great wedding favor all year long.

Enjoy, and happy shopping! One of the most fun parts of wedding planning is shopping for wedding favors, so take your time and let your true self shine through in your gifts for guests.

Click to shop for red wedding favors

Friday, 13 February 2009

Wedding Videography Advice

Wedding photography can eat up a huge chunk of your overall wedding budget, simply because the best wedding photographers tend to charge both for their time and their services. When you're creating your wedding budget, keep in mind that your attitude toward snapshots and home videos should determine how much money you end up dropping on your wedding photographer and wedding videographer.

So how do you decide how much to spend on your wedding photographer (or videographer)? Consider your preferences and your lifestyle. Are you the kind of person who regularly pulls out photo albums to browse through your well-organized and cataloged photograph collection? Or do your family photos sit unloved in boxes that haven't seen the outside of your attic for a decade? How would you feel about sitting down to watch someone else's wedding video?

If pictures mean the world to you, hire the best shutterbug you can afford-cut back on the hors d'oeuvres if that's what it takes. On the other hand, if the thought of looking through your photos bores you to tears, you may want to consider stocking your reception tables with disposables and calling it a day. The same goes for wedding videography -- if you think that you (or your spouse-to-be) will treasure your wedding video for the rest of your days, spend more money on it so you get a superior product.

Click to read more about wedding photography and wedding videography

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Black Bridesmaids Dresses

We here at Smart Wedding planning despair for those brides who have to hear over and over again how "a wedding is not a funeral" and "isn't that a little morbid?" when they choose to dress their bridal attendants in black dresses. Black bridesmaids dresses have traditionally not been in vogue because black was seen as being inappropriate for the occasion. That, however, has changed in recent years, leading to an upswing in the number of black bridesmaids dresses for sale in bridal salons.

If your wedding colors include black -- and don't be afraid to choose a wedding color scheme that includes it -- you will soon discover that there are benefits to dressing your bridesmaids in black. The little black dress never goes out of style, which means that your bridesmaids will likely be able to wear the dress you have chosen again in the future. Black is slimming, and we've yet to meet a bridesmaid who wouldn't like to appear just a tad skinnier. Black also looks good on many complexions so you don't have to worry about one of your gals looking greenish at the altar.

Are there downsides to choosing black bridesmaids dresses? Well, yes. Older and more traditional wedding guests may wonder just what your color choice means, even though it likely means nothing at all. Expect to hear from friends and family that Aunt So-and-So said your ceremony looked like a funeral. But we say ignore the haters! Black is a chic and elegant choice for bridesmaids dresses, and it doesn't look like it will be going away any time soon.

Click to read more about dressing bridesmaids or wedding attendants

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Free Wedding Newsletters

Planning a wedding can go from difficult to overwhelming in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the only way to stave off stress is to consult with experts. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to call up an experienced wedding planner every time the wedding planning process goes awry.

That's why we love Smart Wedding Planning's free wedding newsletters! The site's experts compile daily wedding planning tips that deal with everything from bridal fashion to wedding favors to wedding etiquette. Instead of having to search, you get expert advice delivered right to your e-mail inbox every day. The best part is that it won't cost you a cent!

Click here to sign up for Smart Wedding Planning's free wedding newsletter today!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Silk Shantung Wedding Gowns

When it comes to luxury wedding gowns, it doesn't get much better than silk shantung. For those brides looking for a more unusual wedding gown, this beautiful frock from Emerald Bridal should fit the bill. A dramatic silk shantung and cheetah print glamour tulle dress sheaths brides in pure wedding gown couture.

Yes, we said cheetah print... definitely not something your wedding guests will have seen on any other bride. The bodice features Swarovski beading on a tank top bodice whose low waist is gently curved, hiding even the most irksome figure flaws. Rows and rows of ruffles complete the look, falling into an extended cathedral train.

Click to shop for gorgeous wedding gowns

Monday, 9 February 2009

Wedding Risk Management Pt. II

(Note: See yesterday's post for Pt. I)

The hosts of the wedding -- e.g., the bride, the groom, the parents, or anyone whose names appear on the wedding invitation -- have both a legal responsibility to the guests to plan and maintain a safe and secure wedding environment. Also, the more assets the hosts own, for example a home, a car, a business, or investments, the greater the risk when hosting an event.

That puts a whole new spin on planning a wedding, right? Who knew there was so much potential for disaster! The good news is that liability coverage will protect you and your assets. Within the general liability coverage, you should consider what's called "Broad Form Comprehensive General Liability Endorsement." This is an amendment to your general liability policy that provides extensions or varies the terms of coverage provided. It also expands your general liability policy to cover other areas you think you'll need protection in, like fire legal liability (if you're using fireworks or candles), which protects against claims for fire damage to the wedding venue caused by your negligence.

However, Joyce added that if your wedding reception is at a venue that requires a "Certificate of Insurance," this is different from general liability and may be required in your wedding venue contract. Sometimes venue contracts will detail the type and limits of insurance that must be in force by both parties. And some wedding venue contracts will require copies of "Certificate of Insurance" naming the wedding reception site as insured up to $2 million per occurrence. However, keep in mind that many venues do not require their clients to obtain this type of insurance.

Click to learn more about wedding planning and troubleshooting a wedding

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Wedding Risk Management Pt. I

So you have your wedding insurance, but that doesn't mean you're entirely protected! First, you need to ensure that you have solid vendor contracts you can turn to if any of your wedding vendors fail to provide the services you've reserved. Then, you need to look into a little something called general liability coverage.

General liability insurance offers protection against claims involving bodily injury or property damage related to your wedding. Think nothing can happen? Think again! Basically, if anyone at your wedding gets hurt or some part of your reception venue is damaged during the wedding, there is nothing to prevent others from seeking monetary reimbursement from YOU.

If you currently have homeowners or renters insurance, you can obtain a one day umbrella policy under your homeowner or renter insurance policy that will cover the day of your wedding. Depending on your insurance carrier, there may or may not be an additional fee for this policy. If you do not already have insurance, you can obtain a one day special event insurance policy through Fireman's Fund or WedSafe. The premiums range from $150 to $300 and, like wedding insurance, you will pay a one-time premium.

How important is this type of coverage? Joyce Scardina Becker, certified wedding planner, owner of Events of Distinction (www.eventsofdistinction.com), and Director of the Wedding Consultant Certificate Program California State University East Bay, thinks that it is extremely important to protect yourself.

"Weddings today have the potential for negligent activity that unfortunately can lead to long and costly litigation due to our litigious society," she says. "As the number of professionally managed weddings has increased, so has the concern for risk management. Gone are the days of doing business with a handshake. The importance of legal compliance such as signing written contracts and securing proper permits, insurance and licenses are a must."

Click to learn more about wedding planning and troubleshooting a wedding

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Wedding Budget Basics

It can be hard to set aside the romance of your wedding to think carefully about dollars and cents. After all, picking out a wedding gown and a bridal bouquet is fun... writing up a list of wedding expenses and figuring out how much you have to spend is not. Still, creating a wedding budget is an important part of planning a wedding, so make it a priority and get it over with!

To create a wedding budget, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Who will pay for the wedding? How much money do you have to spend? And what are the elements of your dream wedding that are most important to you. Answer these three questions and you're haldway toward planning a beautiful wedding.

The traditional rule of the bride's family paying for the entire wedding is fast becoming history. Today, the bride's family, the groom's family, and the bride and groom themselves usually share the cost of the wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Many couples are getting married later in life and are well established with their own careers, thus they feel inclined to pay for some or all of their own weddings.

Once you know who pays for the wedding, the bride and groom should discuss which elements of the wedding are most important to them. For instance, is it the reception venue, the bridal gown, or the entertainment that is most important? Maybe it's the wedding cake! You should choose roughly three or four items that are your top priorities and set the rest of your budget from there.

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

Friday, 6 February 2009

Wedding Dress of the Week (2/6/09)

Today's wedding gown of the week is a combination of delicate ruffles and beautiful tailored structuring that adds drama to an otherwise traditional look. This wedding gown is for the bride who wants to put forth a demure image without giving up her ability to flirt. The just-low-enough plunging V-neckline features a double ruffle of organza that is designed to stand up behind the neck, giving a definite designer touch of elegance. We think this wedding gown looks like it costs a whole lot more than it actually does for that very reason! Finally, the cross-over bodice ends at the natural waistline with a pleated sash and a handmade organza flower. The best part? The pockets! Because no bride should be without lip balm and a breath mint on her wedding day.

Click to read more about choosing a wedding gown or to shop for wedding dresses

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Choosing Wedding Shoes

We're going to guess that you haven't spent all that much time thinking about you wedding shoes. That's okay -- unless your wedding gown is so distinctive and unusual that it screams out for a certain kind of wedding shoe, why would you think about something that should be as simple as choosing wedding shoes. Well, if only it were that simple. Wedding shoes come in every possible color and configuration these days. If you were picturing plain white pumps in the same fabric as your wedding gown, you can probably find them. But don't limit yourself to the most basic option! Here are some tips to help you when you're choosing wedding shoes:

Some brides feel the shoes are the least important of the wedding day attire, and they choose to wear decorated tennis shoes. If that's too much shoe for you, think about bridal flip flops!

Other brides hardly think of wedding shoes at all except as something to cover their tired feet and so they choose pretty, dainty ballet slippers.

Still others want the most ornate wedding shoe with the highest heel ever, making them feel more regal and more elegant. If this sounds like you, just be sure to break them in well!

One of the most important things a bride-to-be must realize is that their wedding shoes are important when the altering the wedding dress. Once you've established the height of the heel, you must have the shoes in order to have your wedding gown fitted properly. Changing the height will change the hem of the dress.

We recommend that once you've found your wedding dress you start looking for the right wedding shoes immediately. You should have your shoes by the time your gown is delivered and ready to be altered because you will need to bring them to every fitting.

Click to read more about bridal accessories

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Wedding Accessories

One of the most overlooked bridal accessories is the bridal tiara. Most brides-to-be picture themselves wearing a veil and not a tiara on their wedding days. What they don't know is that when they are choosing their wedding accessories (e.g., bridal jewelry sets, wedding shoes, and bridal hairstyles) they don't have to limit themselves! You can wear a veil that clips into a bridal tiara. That way, if you're so inclined, you can wear a traditional wedding veil to your wedding ceremony and remove it before the wedding reception so it isn't in the way.

How do you choose your wedding tiara? Here are some tips to get you started:

The tiara should flatter your face by framing it, not draw attention to dominant aspects of your face's shape. When you choose your tiara, follow these simple guidelines:

For a round face, select a tiara that has height and will draw the eye upward, giving the illusion that your face is longer.

For a long face, use a tiara that is flat and sits close to the top of your head. It should also extend over the sides of your head to draw the eye horizontally, rather than vertically. This will make a long, thin face appear fuller.

For an oval face, try a headpiece that either sits on the forehead, or an ornamentation that sits on the back of your head to make your face appear less oval.

For a full face, wear a tiara that has height and forms a "V' shape to draw the eye up for the illusion of length and out for the illusion of a thinner face.

Your hairstyle will also dictate how "heavy" a tiara you will wear. Short hairstyles look best with a light tiara that has subtle ornamentation, while a large amount of hair can carry a bigger tiara that is amply encrusted with gemstones.

Click to read more about wedding accessories and bridal beauty

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Choosing a Wedding Dress

We've talked about choosing a wedding dress in the past, but it's definitely a topic that never gets old. Let's say you already have the wedding gown you'll wear as you walk down the aisle... congratulations! That doesn't mean, however, that you can't keep collecting wedding dress tips for your engaged girlfriends. There's always someone who needs help choosing a wedding gown, so we try never to be without a few helpful tips up our sleeves. For those brides-to-be who know absolutely nothing about choosing a gown, here are some basics:
  • If you're going to be trying on wedding dresses, wear undergarments that are close to those you imagine you'll be wearing on your wedding day.
  • Let bridal salon employees make suggestions -- they deal with brides of all shapes and sizes, and they usually have a good idea of what will look good on you.
  • That said, don't let any salespeople (or loved ones) bully you into choosing a wedding gown you don't like. It's your dress, and you're the one who has to wear it!
  • Explore colors other than white. There are lots of shades of this traditional matrimonial color, but colored wedding gowns are also popular right now.
  • Read those bridal magazines. Even if you're just checking them out at the library, scanning the ads will give you an idea of what wedding gowns are in stores right now.
  • Finally, if you don't buy your accessories at the bridal shop, take home a fabric swatch to match your accessories.

Click to shop for the perfect wedding gown

Monday, 2 February 2009

Cheap Wedding Gift Ideas

With the economy being what it is, it's no wonder that everyone from brides and grooms to wedding guests are scaling back when it comes to spending money. That means that newlyweds can't expect to get as many wedding gifts as they might have gotten in days past, and wedding guests won't be spending as much as wedding gifts as they did, say, ten years ago. But as we all know, money isn't everything! You can get great inexpensive wedding gifts that are useful and beautiful.

Here are three wonderful, meaningful wedding gift ideas that are based on wedding gifts employees at Smart Wedding Planning received:

A Simple Note
Kim said: "After all of the adrenaline from the day faded, I truly enjoyed the lovely thoughts that people had imparted in their cards to me and my husband. Some offered tried and true advice on marriage. Others related some inside jokes from high school and college which I am sure will completely perplex us 10 years from now, but which reminded us of our special bonds with these particular guests."

An Invitation to My Own Wedding
Jackie said: "One guest who gave us our invitation back. Only she had matted it and painted a beautiful design around it that meshed so well with the invitation's colors." If you are not skilled with a framing kit, you can always take the invitation to a framer who will do the trick for you.

Lend Me a Tenor or a Calligrapher
Mike said: "We had a DIY wedding, and most of our wedding vendors were our friends and relatives! My mom cooked all the food for our rehearsal dinner, and my dad's college friends who get together to jam were our wedding reception band. A bunch of my wife's girlfriends created the bridal bouquets and floral arrangements. It was all beautiful, and I swear you wouldn't know that we didn't hire professionals. All that help was the best gift we could have gotten."

Click to read more about wedding gifts or to shop for wedding favors and wedding accessories

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Wedding Reception Checklist

Once you've said your "I dos," it's time to party! While there are many ways you can format your wedding reception, most wedding receptions involve certain must-have elements. You can't, after all, have a wedding reception without a reception venue, and it is the obligation of every bride and groom to feed and entertain their wedding guests. Most wedding receptions are somewhat formal, but yours can be anything from pizza and beer at the bowling ally where you met your spouse-to-be to a English-style garden party complete with finger sandwiches.

No matter what kind of wedding reception you choose to have, you'll need to be familiar with certain elements of reception planning. Here's a helpful (albeit short) checklist to get you started:

__ Book your wedding reception venue at least six months in advance. Ask for discounts if you feel like it -- the worst the site manager can say is no.

__ Ask about special wedding packages before you book your wedding date or sign any contracts. Many venues will give you freebies or perks because you're the bride.

__ If you don't understand the fees you're paying, a second pair of eyes (your intended, your mom, etc.) can ensure you don't get scammed or overcharged.

__ Make sure your preferred venue will accommodate all your guests.

__ Don't forget that your reception venue will have its own color scheme. Consider whether your wedding colors will clash with the walls, the carpets, or the linens.

__ Ask the reception site manager whether you can use your own caterer or are obligated to use the house service providers. If you can, make sure your baker and caterer are familiar with the site.

Click to see our complete wedding reception checklist