Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Wedding Ideas: The Dos and Don'ts of Do-It-Yourself

Whether you want to save money or include personalized touches, do-it-yourself details can make a big impact. But some projects are tougher than others, and what you thought would be a 1-2-3 could turn into an undertaking worthy of a world-class planner. To avoid DIY overload, choose wisely. Here are our picks for what to take on and what to leave to the pros.

4 DIY Dos

Your Makeup: If you do your own makeup, you'll be in the privacy of your home or hotel room -- and you won't have to book an appointment (or worry about being on time)! Grab a few basics: foundation, powder, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick. Put on enough to accentuate your best features. Worried about looking washed out in your photos? Do a trial run and have a friend take a few pictures.

Your Ceremony Decor: The ceremony lasts less than an hour, so it seems like a waste to pay big bucks for specialty arrangements, especially if the site is pretty on its own. Create hanging baskets or vases filled with locally grown flowers. Doing so is both eco-friendly and cost-efficient. Or, instead of flowers, buy candles and place them throughout the space. Use any extras you may have to brighten your newlywed nest.

Your Favors: A quick way to save money on wedding favors is to add a personal touch. Sweet treats are a safe choice. Grab a box of your favorite mix and start baking. Pack them in colorful boxes or cute bags. For nonedibles, wrap up tree saplings or donate to charity. Be sure to give guests handwritten cards that say you've given in their name.

Your Invitations, Programs, and Save-the-Dates: Specialty papers, postage, and card sizes can cost hundreds, and you still might not be able to find exactly what you want. Head to a local paper store for a DIY kit or choose stock paper in any color and print stylish invites right off of your computer. Avoid the mistake of getting too fancy and using oversized envelopes -- they cost extra to mail.

6 DIY Don'ts

Your Cake: Whether it's a missed teaspoon of sugar or a tilted tier, a wedding cake disaster is hard to fix. Yes, it would be much less expensive to buy a few boxes of cake mix and do it yourself, but the quality in the end could be lacking. Decorating and transporting a wedding cake is quite difficult and best left to someone with the knowledge of how to handle your confection without damaging it.

Your Photos: Your photographs are one of the few tangible things you'll have to remember your wedding. All of your loved ones may promise to capture every moment, but what happens if they get distracted or have a camera malfunction? If it's important for you to have high-quality images and hundreds of great shots, hire a pro. You'll be glad you did when you see your picture-perfect album.

Coordinating it Yourself: You've organized every minute detail so far, so why shouldn't you be in charge on the wedding day? Because you won't be able to relax. Hiring a coordinator for the day can be a lifesaver. While you're getting pampered, they'll be setting up and averting any crisis that may occur. When everything isn't going perfectly, you'll be none the wiser. Trust us -- peace of mind is worth the extra expense.

Your Centerpieces: A beautiful centerpiece sets the mood of the reception. From sophisticated to fun, you can create a setup that will wow your guests -- with a florist's help, of course! Flowers can cost upward of $3,000, depending on your taste and the season. Although it's a larger part of the budget, it's worth every penny. Your wedding florist will ensure that you get exquisite displays filled with the freshest blooms.

Your Catering: Catering a large-scale party is a huge undertaking, even for a culinary whiz. You'll be hard-pressed to get enough food together for a hundred people and keep it hot -- even if you make the best dish in town. And, once you get it made, you'll need a reliable staff to serve it. Caterers are trained to make it happen; they have the support staff to serve you and your guests in a timely manner.

Your Music: It's tempting to rock out to your favorite tunes, and you might think it's easy to do so with an iPod. Not quite. You'll be limited to the music that you love as a couple, not necessarily what everyone else will like, and you'll be stuck with the premade playlist. Music pros are trained to read the dance floor. They can speed it up or slow it down so that your guests are footloose into the wee hours.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

20 Wedding "Must-Haves" You DON'T Need

Five and a half years ago, I got engaged on a snowy bridge in Central Park on a cold Friday evening after work. A few months later, Drew, my now-husband, and I were married in a sunny garden in Central Park on a Friday morning surrounded by about 70 friends and family members. I wore a dress I bought on eBay for about a hundred dollars. I did my own makeup and hair. I made my own bouquet. We didn't have a wedding cake. In fact, there were plenty of things we didn't have and didn't do that lots of people -- "experts" and concerned citizens alike -- proclaim are wedding must-haves. And yet, we had a beautiful wedding (for $10k in Manhattan!) -- one that some of our guests still count among their favorites, several years later. For any of you stressing about all the details you've been told you have to include in your wedding, here are 20 wedding "must-haves" we happily skipped -- or could have skipped -- and you can too (if you want! And if you want to include them, that's perfectly fine, too.).

1. STDs (Save-the-Date cards).
We sent an email to people as soon as we had a date and venue picked out. No one complained that they had one less thing to stick on their fridge or pitch in the garbage after marking it on their calendars, and we saved at least a couple hundred bucks on cards and postage.

2. An Engagement Party.
You're already getting a party with gifts and attention and accolades. It's called your wedding. And people will already be spending time and money to be there for you.

3. A Bridal Shower or bachelor/ette parties.
See #2. Now, if someone in your life wants to throw one of these for you -- or, in my case, surprises you with one -- enjoy yourself and be genuinely appreciative. But don't think just because you don't have these parties that your wedding will be any less special or your marriage any less valid.

4. A wedding band.
Make a playlist on your iPhone -- or whatever you use -- and hook it up to a portable speaker and be done with it.

5. A wedding website.
Sure, it's convenient for guests to have a site they can go to for any logistical questions they might have (or to read your "how we met" story on their lunch break one afternoon), but if you don't feel like making one, that's cool, too. You know what people did in the olden days before the internet? They included all necessary information on the invitation and answered the phone when people called with potential questions.

6. A gift registry.
It's helpful to have one, sure. And creating one does increase the odds of getting stuff you actually want and will use. But you know what will happen if you buck tradition and skip a registry altogether? Your guests will figure something out. Heck, they might even use original thought. Or, even better, you'll just get a bunch of cash.

7. A wedding party.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, a Maid-of-Honor, a best man, a ring bearer, flower girl, blah, blah, freaking blah. You know who will be sad if you don't give a handful of your guests special titles and make them dress in matching outfits? Pretty much no one.

8. A florist.
Go to Youtube and see how easy it is to pick up some flowers at a wholesale market or even a drugstore and make your own bouquet. Boom! That just saved you, like, several hundred bucks.

9. A wedding cake.
Have a wedding pie if you want! Or cupcakes. Or individual flutes of chocolate mousse that people can clink together for a "toast." Or, if you really want a cake-cake, go to a bakery, order a large sheet cake and have them write your names and wedding date on the top. Boom! That just saved you another several hundred bucks.

10. A white wedding dress.
Or an expensive dress. Or a dress you find after going to a million bridal stores. Maybe the right dress for you is champagne-colored number hanging on a rack at Nordstrom that you find on your lunch break one afternoon.

11. Wedding favors.
No one's going to miss not having pastel-clored M&Ms with your initials in a little baggies tied with a ribbons in the color of your wedding placed lovingly on their dinner plates. I promise.

12. Chairs for everyone.
You know who needs a chair for your 20-minute ceremony? Old people, maybe disabled people, and the pregnant ladies. You know who doesn't? Everyone else. I mean, it's a few minutes. So if your venue has space but maybe not quite enough seating for all your guests, don't sweat it. They've stood in lines at Disneyland for five times longer.

13. A dance floor.
Anyone who wants to bust a move when Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" starts playing will find a corner or push a few chairs out of the way or climb on top of the table to make it happen. Anyone who wishes there was a place for the dollar dance needs to go back to 1987 and finish watching that episode of "Moonlighting" where Bruce Willis said something sexist.

14. A weekend ceremony.
For a variety of reasons, we had our wedding on a Friday. Yes, that meant that most of our guests had to take a day off from work if they wanted to be there. But there are probably worse ways to spend a Friday off in the summer than at Central Park, followed by a delicious -- and free -- lunch in Manhattan with your family and/or friends. And if there's not, then people could have sent their regrets and we would have understood.

15. A professional makeup artist.
Personally, I hated the idea of a professional makeup artist. I wanted to look like myself, not like what some stranger thought a bride should look like. If you decide to use a professional makeup artist, have some photos to show the makeup person for inspiration, and make sure you do a practice run beforehand or you may end up looking like a Dolly Parton drag queen in your wedding photos.

16. A guestbook.
It's fine if you want one, but if you don't, just skip it. You'll remember who was at your wedding through photos and cards you'll save.

17. A rehearsal dinner.
And you don't need a rehearsal for that matter, either. I think most people can figure out how to walk down an aisle without practicing first.

18. A block of hotel rooms.
If you have only a small number of out-of-town guests, like we did for our wedding, it probably doesn't make sense to reserve a block of rooms at one hotel. It's perfectly nice to email those guests a list of, say, 1-3 recommendations of conveniently located, reasonably priced, comfortable hotels and let them go from there.

19. Assigned seating.
We had assigned seating, but I've been to weddings that didn't. And while I do think it's easier -- and a little more comfortable -- on guests if they don't have to hustle to find a table where they know someone or where there are enough seats for the people they want to sit with or where they have to save their seats with their purses or cell phones or what have you once they find a spot -- you know what will happen if you don't spend hours making a seating chart? One way or another, guests will find a place to sit. And all will be fine. And you'll probably have fewer grey hairs to cover up on the big day.

20. A wedding planner.
Like most things in life: everything you need to know, you can find on the internet for free.

This post was originally published on Wendy Atterberry's relationship advice blog, Dear Wendy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 10 Wedding Invitation Etiquette Q&As

Your invites are one of the most important elements in your day because they provide guests with crucial information. And while some details of your wedding don't follow a strict set of rules, your invitations do have a set of hard-and-fast rules to follow. Scan these etiquette Q&As for answers to your most pressing wedding-invite-related questions.

Q. When should we send out our wedding invitations?

A. Traditionally, invitations go out six to eight weeks before the wedding -- that gives guests plenty of time to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements if they don't live in town. If it's a destination wedding, give guests more time and send them out three months ahead of time. Most couples also send out save-the-date cards. They go out at six to eight months.

Q. When should we make the deadline for RSVPs?

A. Make your RSVP date two to three weeks before your wedding date -- this will allow enough time for you to get a final head count to the caterer (one week before) and to finalize your seating chart. If some guests still haven't responded by your deadline, give them a quick call and ask for their RSVPs (still via mail) so you have all their information.

Q. Where do we include information about our wedding website?

A. Your wedding website should be included on your save-the-date. A simple “,” is all you really need. If you'd like (or if you don't have save-the-dates), you can include the web address in the formal invitations with an insert -- a small card that informs guests they can find more details online.

Q. Can we include our registry info on our invitations or save-the-dates?

A. In a word, no. Including registry info on the wedding invitations or save-the-dates is still considered impolite because it can come off as though you're asking for gifts. Tell your wedding party, parents and close friends where you are registered, and let them fill guests in. Plus, most guests will know that all that extra information (that they didn't find on the invitation) is on your wedding website.

Q. We're having an adults-only wedding (no kids). How can we make sure this is clear to our guests?

A. Address your invitations correctly -- to each guest by name, not “and guest” -- and guests should understand that the invite is meant for only those mentioned. If you find that some reply with their children's names added, give them a call and explain that you're having an adults-only wedding and that you hope they can still attend. If there are a lot of kids in your family, you may want to consider hiring or arranging for a babysitter. It's definitely not required, but it's a nice gesture. Just be sure to include this information on the wedding website.

Q. How do we let guests know our dress code?

A. The easiest way to get your point across is to include a dress code in the lower right-hand corner of the invite or on a reception card; “black-tie,” “cocktail attire” or “casual attire” are all acceptable. Your invitation design will also clue guests in. An ultra-formal, traditional invite with letterpress and calligraphy will give guests a hint to the formal nature of the event, whereas a square invite with a playful font and bright colors would fit a much more casual style. Another way is to direct guests to your wedding website, where you can go into more detail about the weekend events and dress code in a more informal forum.

Q. Do we have to invite every guest with a date or a “plus-one”?

A. No, you don't have to. If a guest isn't married or in a serious relationship, it's perfectly acceptable to invite them solo. Most guests will understand that without “and Guest” or another name on the invitation means they aren't invited with a plus-one. While it's always nice to invite everyone with a guest, if you're having a small wedding, your family and friends should understand your reasoning. What to do if a guest RSVPs for two? Call them up and explain that you're having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, you were not able to invite everyone with a guest. But if you realize that nearly everyone will be coupled up, extend a plus-one invitation to your few single friends and family.

Q. Where do you put the return address on wedding invitations?

A. The return address usually goes on the back flap of the envelope. Also, the return address used should be that of the person(s) whom you've designated to receive response cards -- be it your parents or you (traditionally, whoever is hosting the wedding handles response cards). Don't forget that the RSVP envelope should also be printed with this address (and should include postage).

Q. If our wedding reception is for immediate family only, is it okay to invite people to the ceremony only?

A. In a word, no. Everyone who attends the ceremony (or bridal shower, engagement party or wedding reception) should be invited to the wedding -- that means the ceremony and the reception. In your case, by inviting guests to one and not the other, you're basically saying you want them there for the actual ceremony but you either don't want to pay for their plate at your party or don't care enough to have them there to actually celebrate your newly-married status.

Q. I invited my friend and her boyfriend (by name on the invite) to the wedding, but they recently broke up. Now she wants to bring a friend I don't like -- can I tell her no?

A. Because you worded the invitation correctly by having her boyfriend's name on the envelope (rather than “and guest”), you have every right to say no. As a rule, invitations are nontransferable when people are invited by name. Try explaining that you're not friendly with her proposed guest and you'd prefer that the wedding be limited to very good friends and family. If you invited all of your single friends sans dates, let her know she won't be the only one coming solo (in case that's her worry).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

13 Years Later, Man Is Reunited With The Wedding Photo He Lost On 9/11

One dedicated woman has spent the last 13 years trying to track down the people in a wedding photo found in the Sept. 11, 2001 wreckage at Ground Zero.

View image on Twitter

On Friday, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe -- an assistant professor at Lesley University in Massachusetts -- finally found the owner of the photo and learned the story behind it, thanks to thousands of dedicated helpers on social media.

It belongs to a man named Fred Mahe (the guy standing on the far left in the photo), who had the picture from his friends' wedding hanging in his cubicle on the 77th floor of the second World Trade Center tower. Mahe saw the story on Gothamist and got in touch with Keefe via LinkedIn. He confirmed that everyone in the photo is alive today.

View image on Twitter

On Monday, Keefe and Mahe met in person for the first time and took a selfie to commemorate the occasion. After all these years, the wrinkled photograph has been returned to its rightful owner.
"The story is Elizabeth, the story is persistence and trying to help someone she didn't even know," Mahe told ABC.

How to Avoid Losing Your Wedding Ring (and What to Do If it Happens)

You've probably had the common nightmare that something bad will happen to your wedding ring on your big day. Whether it gets lost or into the wrong hands, the last thing you want is an emergency related to the symbol of everlasting love and marriage. That's why we sourced some etiquette expert-approved solutions to the most common problems that arise with wedding bands!

I don't really trust my ring bearer to not misplace the ring, but he's so excited to be included! What should I do?

Sew a faux ring onto the ring bearer's pillow and ensure him that he's performing the most important task of the ceremony. Just don't make a big deal when you give the real one to the best man for safe keeping!

My maid of honor's dress doesn't have pockets. Where should she hold the ring?

Suggest that she wear the groom's ring on her thumb, which she should keep securely bent around her bouquet. Speaking of pockets, make sure the best man checks his for holes! It's best for him to not slip it onto his finger (especially if it's bigger than yours), as the ring might slip off or get stuck.

But actually, I'm really concerned a ring will get lost or forgotten. What should I do if this happens?

If the worst-case ring scenario occurs, borrow one from a parent or attendant. In a pinch, turn your engagement ring so the stone faces the inside of your hand. Later, your clergy member or officiant can bless the real wedding ring.

Coping With Grief: One Bride's Inspiring Photo Shoot

Two months before her wedding day, Janine experienced a nightmare worse than she ever could've imagined — her fiancé, Johnny, passed away unexpectedly, turning her life upside down.  

Through her healing process, she came up with the idea of doing an underwater photo shoot in her custom-made wedding gown that she never had the opportunity to wear. She's always been a believer in the healing powers of water and thought the photo shoot would help her find closure. While searching for underwater bride photos, she came across Del Sol Photographers and decided to reach out.

"After I heard Janine’s story, I really wanted to do what I could to create a magical adventure for her," photographer Matt Adcock wrote on his website. "I knew that the natural aquatic wonders of the Riviera Maya would offer great comfort and would be the perfect vehicle for her healing process."
Janine and her photographer developed the shoot at Dreams Tulum to contain several liberations from grief, including a balloon release and falling into a natural pit to represent "letting go of the past and opening herself to the future."

"I really felt that Johnny was smiling down at me and finally giving me closure that I can live my life in a positive way, but never forgetting why I was here," Janine told her photographer. "I actually had fun for the first time in three month since Johnny passed away."

Check out the inspiring photos:

trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
trash the dress
—Kristen Klein

Monday, September 15, 2014

13 Boutonnieres That Don’t Have Flowers

Forget about roses, peonies and ranunculuses — there’s no rule that says boutonnieres have to use flowers at all. Instead, branch out with unexpected elements like feathers, bottlecaps and blueberries for a totally unique look. Take a cue from your the tone of your wedding to incorporate elements that speak to the day’s theme. Check out some of our favorite flowerless boutonnieres below!

A Feather Boutonniere
From the album: A Romantic, Outdoor Wedding in San Martin, California

A Baseball Boutonniere

A Cotton Boutonniere
From the album: A Second Presbyterian Church Wedding in Greensville, South Carolina

A State-Shaped Boutonniere

A Squirrel Boutonniere

A Blueberry Boutonniere
From the album: An Outdoor Harborside Wedding in Norteast Harbor, Maine

An Herb Boutonniere
her boutonniere | Eye Shutter Photography |
Eye Shutter Photography
From the album: A Rustic Chic Wedding in North Aurora, Illinois

A Mini Pumpkin Boutonniere
From the album: A Rustic Autumnal Wedding in Cambria, California

A Felt Boutonniere
From the album: A Camp Oneka Wedding in Tafton, Pennsylvania

An Upcycled Boutonniere
From the album: An At-Home Wedding in Adolph, West Virginia

A Button and Key Boutonniere
From the album: A Desert Foothills Wedding in Scottsdale, Arizona

An Air Plant Boutonniere
From the album:  A Snowy Mountain Lodge Wedding in Centennial, Wyoming

A Boutonniere with Hops
From the album: A Rustic Mountain Wedding in Keene, NY

Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Ways to Tell You're a Laid-Back Bride

Photo: High Pass Productions

In the frenzied sea of details and etiquette and tulle (aka wedding planning) there's an illusive creature that lurks beneath the surface: the cool bride. Blessed with effortless personal style and a mellow attitude, this breed of bride is the most illusive and enviable of all. How do they do it? How do they turn a blind eye to the botched canapés while simultaneously pulling off the most stylish soirée anyone has ever been to? We investigated the phenomenon and found five uniting characteristics all laid back brides have in common.

1. You're Not Married to Tradition
Wedding planning comes laden with a lot of tradition and etiquette. So much so, that sometimes a bride can feel overloaded with all of the things she has to do, instead of the things she wants to do. Cool brides are over that. If they'd rather skip the wedding cake and pin the tail on the groomsman, they will. In their eyes, traditions are optional, not absolute, and this perspective majorly diminishes pressure.

2. You Delegate
Nobody is cool and collected when she has one million and three details to worry about the morning of her wedding. To stay calm under pressure, cool brides delegate — to their planners, day-of coordinators, bridesmaids, moms, friends, vendors, whoever — and trust them to handle details on their wedding day.

3. You Embrace Imperfection
Have you ever noticed how many cool girl icons like Kate Moss always have one element that's slightly off in their outfit? Maybe it's an un-tucked shirt, or messy, undone strands, but they always seem to keep one ounce of nonchalance in the mix to prevent them from looking too "done." Laid-back brides also adhere to the concept of perfect imperfection, much to the benefit of their mental state. "Oh the fur blankets fell off the guest chairs onto the ground? How bohemian!" "So, the forks didn't come in on time? Matching china is passé anyways."

4. You Stick to the Budget
Nothing ruins the vibe faster than the tension of over-extended purse strings and resentment. Mellow brides know that style can be achieved within any budget. They're not afraid to pop some wildflowers into soda bottles, throw on a vinyl and embrace simplicity.

5. You Stay True to Your Style
Similar to their take on wedding traditions, cool brides realize that the best thing the dress they can wear is the one that represents their unique style. Whether that's a short shift dress, a classic ball gown or a bohemian kimono, every bride is at her coolest when she's comfortable and utterly herself.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

10 Things No One Tells You About Your Wedding Night

As your wedding day nears, you're likely to get a lot of winks and nudges about your wedding night. But the reality is, the wedding night isn't always filled with oh-so-romantic and totally life-changing lovemaking. Here are 10 super common (and not terribly sexy) scenarios you might experience the night you say "I do." 
1. You will be STARVING.
A lot of couples don't get to eat at their reception, so once the adrenaline of the day wears off, hitting the drive-thru or ordering room service is going to sound amazing.
2. You might be really sad.
3. Or really drunk.
(Or really sad AND really drunk.)
4. You may also be in the early stages of a hangover.
5. You'll probably need a moment to change out of your shapewear and into your sexy lingerie.
Because on your wedding day, you're going to be all about function over form.
6. And if your dress has a million buttons or hooks, removing it probably won't be all that sexy. 
7. If you rock an updo, you'll probably take it partially down before getting bored and giving up.
Also, your room will be scattered with bobby pins, not rose petals.
8. You might not get any privacy.
Anyone from the hotel staff to your siblings might decide they really need your attention at that moment.
9. There could be MAJOR mishaps.
We've heard a surprising number of stories from couples who've spent their wedding night in the emergency room. 
10. You will be EXHAUSTED.
This is incredibly common. But your wedding day is a really long day; don't feel bad if all you want to do is pass out the second the party's over. 
What happened on your wedding night, Loverlies? Was it completely magical...or more mundane?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Are "Non-Bridesmaids" And Should You Have Some?

How to Include Friends in Wedding Non-Bridesmaids
Photo: Noah Hawthorne Photography

With destination weddings on the rise and for brides whose closest friends and family are scattered all across the country, the concept of having "non-bridesmaids" is becoming more and more popular. According to family and relationship expert Dr. Ruth Nemzoff, Ed.D, non-bridesmaids are people you honor in the wedding and who help you plan it but do not march down the aisle. "They can pass out the booklets, sing, read prayers, bustle your gown or just join you for dressing," she says. They may also help organize your bachelorette party or go dress shopping with you, for instance. Plus, "the role has the added bonus of not costing the person the price of a dress that they may not have chosen themselves." If you're curious about the idea, we've put together a quick list of pros and cons to help you make your final decision.

Pro: You can include more friends
Many brides get stressed out and anxious at the mere thought of having to narrow down the number of bridesmaids they have in their wedding. "Having a friend help out with certain tasks and outings allows someone that would otherwise not be involved in the wedding planning to be a part of it," notes Melia Spring Coordes, creative director and owner of WedSpring. "Many new friends want to be included even if they don't make the bridesmaid list."

Con: You might hurt some feelings
"When the wedding weekend comes along some of the friends that have helped the bride through various planning tasks and decisions may be left out of formal gatherings that are for the wedding party only," points out Coordes. Unfortunately, this can lead to hurt feelings and damaged friendships, particularly if the non-bridesmaid doesn't feel like her contributions were properly recognized or appreciated.

Pro: It's less of a financial obligation
If you're having a destination wedding and you know a particular friend isn't exactly rolling in dough at the moment, asking her to be a non-bridesmaid can help ease the financial burden for everyone. A bride can choose friends to be her "go-to" people on her wedding day. It may be assisting with making sure lunch is delivered, flowers are in water or the groomsmen are dressed appropriately," explains destination wedding planner Michelle Fage of Paradise Planning. "Having a friend in that role truly allows her to be a part of the wedding without the stress or financial obligation of being an actual bridesmaid."

Con: There are blurred lines of responsibility
For brides looking for a more casual experience with less coordination and stress, having a few official bridesmaids and several non-bridesmaids may be the way to go. However, it also blurs the lines of responsibility and which friend is responsible for what part of the wedding, warns Alex Haslam, founder of Bali Dream Day.

Pro: Non-bridesmaids aren't afraid to speak up
Not only can non-bridesmaids be a great voice of reason when the bridal party may be too close to a situation to be helpful, but they're also able to assist with wedding tasks that they would truly like to do for you without feeling any sense of obligation, says Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Compliments Every Bride Wants to Hear on Her Wedding Day

Scientific data proves, there is no such thing as "too many compliments" for a bride on her wedding day. And while ultimately the best compliment is a genuine compliment, there are a few guaranteed phrases that every bride would love to hear on her big day. Take note and apply liberally.

"You are beautiful."

First and foremost, every single bride wants to hear that she is so ravishing, magical, glamorous and stunning it makes you want to cry. Getting ready for this day was a marathon that likely involved more crunches and fewer carbs than any lady likes, so acknowledge her beauty abundantly, throughout the night. While all compliments are fair game in this department, it's kindest to keep your statements focused on the bride herself, not the accouterments. For example, "Your eyes are gorgeous," is better than, "Wow your fake eyelashes look so subtle!"

"Your dress is perfect!"

Finding a dress that flatters your body, evokes your style and suits your venue is not a walk in the park. Reward her for her hard work with a good hearty, genuine compliment about how that gown could not be more perfect for her.

"I can't believe how stunning these guest favors / table linens / flowers are..."

There is no better feeling for a bride than having a guest notice — and love — the details she labored over. Whether it's a perfectly arranged bouquet or a creative table assignment, call out the little things that caught your eye.

"You two are perfect together."

On a day that's all about their commitment to each other, don't forget to acknowledge and admire the couple's relationship. To avoid cliché, call out elements specific to them as a couple, such as, "Ben brings out that belly laugh of yours better than anyone else I know," or "I knew she was smitten when she voluntarily went to mini golf... in high heels."

"I'm having such an incredible time, thank you!"

In the end, a couple wants to know that their guests enjoyed themselves, so any compliment centered around how much fun you're having, how insanely awesome their dance floor is, or how delicious things are tasting, is appreciated.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Military Weddings: The Rules & Etiquette You Should Know

Military wedding etiquette
Photo: Cuppa Photography

A military wedding is dictated more by tradition than strict laws. Both bride and groom, if each is in the military, have the option of wearing a military uniform or traditional wedding attire. Many choose to wed in very traditional military style by wearing a uniform, wording the invitation in proper military form, and including the arch of sabers or swords. What else do you need to know to have a wedding with the proper etiquette? Read on to find out!

How does the sword arch work?
If the venue permits, the arch may be formed immediately after the bride and groom turn to face the assembled guests inside the building at the end of the ceremony. In this case, the head usher calls, "center face," and the ushers form two lines facing each other on the steps beneath the altar. The next command is "draw swords" or "arch sabers," and the ushers raise their swords, cutting edge facing up. The bride and groom then pass under the arch. The ushers then join the bridesmaids and leave with them.

If some groomsmen are also in the military, should they wear boutonnieres?
If they will be wearing their uniforms, then no, they should not wear boutonnieres. They should, however wear any military decorations they have received.

How do we word names with titles in invitations?
When their rank is captain or higher in the army, or lieutenant senior grade or higher in the navy, a guest's, bride's, or groom's title appears before their name. A lower rank would be listed after their name. For example: Max White, Ensign, United States Navy. Mr. is never used to refer to an office on active duty. Contact the protocol officer at the nearest base or a military chaplain for more information.

Friday, September 5, 2014

4 Times It's Okay to Say "No" to Your Parents While Wedding Planning

How to Say No to Your Parents While Wedding Planning
Photo: Getty Images

Times have changed — your moms didn't get to plan their own weddings, their moms made all the big decisions. Nowadays, brides and grooms are picking up the bulk of the tab and they want to make the choices for themselves. Having a wedding in your hometown makes it really hard to fight your mother on venue, flowers, and even hotel selection for your guests. You have to learn to say "no." Be nice about it and find a way to include the mother of the bride or mother of the groom if she really wants to help, but you must stand firm about your choices. Here are the four things most likely things you'll have to say "no" to your parents about:

1. The guest list
You want "x" number of guests total, but your parents have more than "x" on their own lists. Let them know they're not obligated to invite every friend who ever invited them to their child's wedding and give them a set number of invites they're allowed to extend.

2. The ceremony plan
Maybe one of you was raised Jewish or Catholic and your parents are insistent that you have a religious ceremony even though neither of you are religious and don't attend church or a synagogue together. A non-denominational minister is very common and you can insert whatever religious influences you want in your ceremony. This is a decision made by you and your future husband — not your parents.

3. Your wedding dress
It's possible your mother doesn't agree with your choice to go strapless or wear a non-white gown. You have to love your dress. And unless mom and dad are picking up the entire tab for the gown, you can tell them thank you but no thank you.

4. Your reception music
Parents are often concerned there won't be enough music for their "older" friends to enjoy at the reception. You can be nice about it and include some of their musical selections during dinner, but when it comes to first dance and party music, it's your choice.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Smart Start with Susan Southerland: 5 Alternative Reception Options

Smart Start with Susan Southerland: 5 Alternative Reception Options








Boggs_Weiss_Linczak_Photography_jrbogwd216_low Photo credit: Linczak Photography
When most people think of wedding receptions, they think of formal, sit-down dinners. It might be plated or a buffet, but tradition leans to evening celebrations laden with food and cocktails. A sit-down dinner can be pricey though, and not every couple has a budget to accommodate it. In fact, some couples today who can afford it are shying away from such formal affairs.

There is much to be said about being economical and/or eschewing tradition when it comes to wedding planning, and food and beverage is no exception. Today I’d like to share some reception options that could offer you more bang for your buck without sacrificing sophistication, originality, or style.

1. A brunch or lunch reception. Generally speaking, having a reception at an earlier time of day can save you a bundle…sometimes as much as half of what you might spend on a dinner reception. Food offerings tend to be less expensive and lighter, and as an added budget-saver, fewer people drink alcohol at early events. Garden and vintage themes are perfectly suited for this type of reception.

2. A cocktail reception. Have you ever been to a reception and had so much to eat during the cocktail hour that you didn’t have room for dinner? It’s a common enough occurrence, so why not design an elegant reception menu that offers hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and cake or mini-desserts? You can even offer champagne or a signature cocktail to carry your theme throughout the event.

3. A tea reception. Another option is timing your wedding so you can serve afternoon tea at your reception. Offer tea sandwiches, biscuits or cookies, scones and jam, and petits fours placed on classic tiered cake stands. At each table, present an assortment of teas, possibly gifting each guest with a small teapot they can use and then take home as a favor. For those guests who’d like something stronger to drink, perhaps offer more sophisticated liquors like brandy, sherry, whiskey, or scotch.

4. A tapas style reception. Tapas style food is served in what is considered “tasting sized” portions. Sort of like appetizers, tapas can be served hot or cold, and if set in stations, it’s a great way to encourage guests to get up and mingle. Carefully consider the foods you choose to serve, however, to keep within your budget.

5. A dessert reception. Here in Central Florida, many brides choose to have dessert receptions, especially during the nighttime fireworks at Walt Disney World. A dessert reception can be a cost-effective and chic alternative to a sit-down dinner. Just be sure you leave your guests time to eat a meal before the reception begins!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This Couple is Allowing Brands to Sponsor Their Wedding — Would You?

How far would you go to save money on your wedding? One Florida-based couple is trying to raise $30,000 for their big day by pitching it as the ultimate out-of-the-box sponsorship opportunity for corporate brands.
sponsor our wedding

Photo Credits: Courtney McKenzie tells Buzzfeed that she came up with the idea after she and her fiancé Jamil started researching wedding costs. “When we first got engaged we knew we didn’t want to have a big wedding. After we put it down on paper we knew we couldn’t afford it, either," she says.

Instead, the travel aficionados decided to elope in Thailand this upcoming December. They will get married in a traditional Thai garden ceremony, followed by a private reception dinner with dancers and fireworks. The enterprising bride used her career experience as an entrepreneur and digital media consultant to devise a marketing strategy around their 11-day itinerary.

Everything from the bride's dress to the elephant carrying a "just married" sign (their getaway transportation) to the groom's swim trunks on the honeymoon will be brandished with company logos. Advertising packages up for grabs also include more traditional incentives such as branded hashtags — the couple has over 30,000 combined social media followers — email campaigns and inclusion on their website, A portion of the proceeds will go towards their favorite charities, and they aren't asking for wedding gifts.

sponsor our wedding

Photo Credits: reports that they have three major sponsors so far and they're about halfway towards their goal. Although McKenzie has gotten some flack for her creative proposal, she says the reactions have been mostly positive; in fact, she's thinking of launching a platform that will help other brides sponsor their weddings!

Tell us: Would you be willing to have a company sponsor your entire wedding in exchange for covering all of the costs?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Guests: Inviting Kids to the Wedding

The discussion of whether to invite children to a wedding always becomes a passionate one. In one corner, you have people (oftentimes with children of their own) who think kids add a certain magic to the atmosphere -- those precious moments otherwise only available at a card store. In the other corner, you have those who feel as though that "magic" is more the black variety -- the screaming, the messing, the ruining. But including kids in your festivities doesn't have to be a horror movie in the making. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your wedding is fun for all ages.

Decide Who's Included

Don't feel as though having kids at your wedding opens it up to everyone under 13. Although it may seem tough to exclude, it's perfectly fine only to invite children who are part of your or your fiance's family -- or those of close family friends. Just because you want your niece at your wedding doesn't mean you must have everyone else's niece. If you let yourself get caught up in the drama of "Why wasn't my child invited?!" you're going to find yourself in a big (and expensive) mess, with every child of every random guest coming out of the woodwork looking for an invitation. Stand strong, and tell people you're sorry you can't include everyone -- that you're trying to limit the guest list.
Knot Note: Don't extend "ceremony only" invitations to children. While you may feel like you're doing the child (or his parents) a favor by including him in something, nothing's worse to a child than seeing other children head off to a party while he has to head home.

Make It Clear Who's Invited

Parents tend to make assumptions about their kids making the list. They assume their kids are or aren't, but either way they often don't ask. So you need to make it abundantly clear who is included. If you are inviting kids, adding the words "and family" to the invitation envelope indicates as much. If you aren't including children but someone RSVPs for theirs, you may be put in the uncomfortable position of calling them to let them know you're sorry but you couldn't invite everyone's children. To avoid hurt feelings if you're having some kids (such as the flower girl and ring bearer) make sure you explain your inviting parameters.

Managing the Kids

If possible, seat all the parents and their children together at one table or at tables close to each other. The quickest way to ruin a single guest's time is to stick them at a table with lots of kids. While it might seem like a good idea to put all the children at a table alone, an unsupervised group of kids is the fastest way to go from elegant reception to kindergarten madness.
Another way to keep the kiddie contingent under control: Hire a chaperone. If you know a teenager or young adult who'd be willing to be a designated adult for a few hours, hire her to keep an eye on things. She'll be less babysitter and more lifeguard -- someone who can take the kids to the bathroom, put a Band-Aid on bumps and bruises, or simply say, "Bobby, please get off the wedding cake."

Offer a Kid's Meal

Be thoughtful when choosing the food you want to serve to the little ones. This isn't the time to be a culinary snob -- most kids will eat only fun foods like little pizzas, chicken fingers, or mini hot dogs, so spare yourself the heartache and extra dollars and forgo the foie gras. For dessert, a make-your-own-sundae bar is always a hit. And since little people have small appetites, you should ask your catering manager for a lower per-person price. Also be sure to ask if the kids can get their food early and quickly -- especially at an evening reception -- since kids eat on a schedule.

Keep Them Entertained

Since children have short attention spans, you may need to create diversions -- a kid-friendly DVD, a few board games, or a couple of Game Boys -- set up in a separate room. You could also prepare goodie bags for them. Arts and crafts stores have great bead sets, drawing kits, and the like. Our advice: Get every boy the same gift and another gift for every girl, if not the same gift for all. You don't want anyone to be fighting over that lone box of scented markers.

Don't Freak Out

Despite the fear that people will instill in you for inviting kids, children do bring instant surprise to a wedding (not to mention a lot of laughs). Keep a sense of humor about having the little ones there: If Isabel can't keep her hands off the cake, don't throw a fit. Instead, laugh and tell the photographer to catch it on film.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Coolest Bride Ever Drunkenly Orders Taco Bell While Looking Fabulous

Everyone knows that after knocking back a few drinks, there's a good chance a sudden craving for tacos will strike. So why would your wedding night be any different?

Turns out, it's not. And this picture proves that:

My drunk wife trying to order Taco Bell after the reception

The photo was posted to Reddit Thursday with the caption, "My drunk wife trying to order Taco Bell after the reception." It captured the hearts and souls of hungry, drunk people everywhere -- racking up over 1 million views in just one day.

According to the groom, who posted the photo, the Taco Bell was next to their hotel.
All we have to say is, any bride who can look like a Disney princess while walking through the drive-thru is a keeper in our book.

Friday, August 29, 2014

11 Signs You're With The Person You Should Marry

By Dr. Tina Tessina for

Do men have biological clocks? Yes, they do! A man can feel the need to grow up and have a family, especially when he finds a woman who inspires those feelings in him. The problem is, how can you be sure the match is a good one?

You'd think the positive signs in a date would be obvious, but with all the excitement, the most important clues can be overlooked. What makes for a great date may not be all you need for a great relationship. This checklist of positive signs will help you evaluate your date in a realistic manner. If you get a lot of these positives, this date might be a good choice for marriage.

1. He has a sense of humor.
Of all the characteristics that are essential for getting through life successfully, a sense of humor has to be in the top ten. But what kind of a sense of humor? Joking at someone else's expense or at inappropriate times can be counter-productive. Using jokes to avoid taking responsibility for one's behavior can prevent you from solving problems. The sense of humor you're looking for is the generous, positive kind that makes life more fun and the tough times easier. If your date can make your laugh and lift your spirits, that talent may help you through some future difficulties.

2. He cares about what you think.
A date who asks for and listens to your opinions and feelings, and better yet, who remembers what you say and builds on it later, and who responds with empathy, sincerity and caring, is someone you can communicate with and therefore, more likely to be able to form a partnership with you. If you pay attention, you can quickly notice the difference between the appearance of caring and real caring. If your relationship is successful, you'll have years of talking to each other, so find someone who is interesting to talk to and also interested in talking with you. Your date should be able to carry on an interesting discussion on a variety of topics and at least show interest, even if the topic is not something he or she is familiar with.

3. He has an opinion, too.
A truly good conversationalist not only listens to your words and responds, but also has ideas and opinions. Your date should not hesitate to disagree with you or to bring up new topics.

4. He can work things out with you.
Recent research shows that the single most important quality that determines whether a relationship can succeed is how well the couple solves problems. If you have a disagreement while dating, welcome it as an opportunity to see how well the two of work it out together. If you can discuss your differences without becoming defensive or sarcastic, and you can listen to each other and work together toward a solution, your relationship has an excellent chance.

5. He accepts who you are.
A popular book asserts that "Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venus," but I think it's more that we're all from different planets. You and your date are unique, special and individual and need to be able to understand each other and accept that you'll perceive things very differently. Even when you and your date see things differently, you should be able to agree to disagree. Remember, the security and comfort in your relationship will come from where you and your partner are similar, and the excitement and growth in the relationship are generated from your differences. Different interests, opinions, attitudes and ideas will keep things fresh and alive between you. If your date does not become defensive or threatened by your differences, you can be interesting to each other for a long time.

6. He is open.
The whole point of dating, as we said before, is to get to know each other. While you both may want to take a little time before disclosing too much, your date should be comfortable talking about him or herself, and it should not be like pulling teeth to find out what you need to know.

7. He has a life with a job, friends, family relationships and interests.
A date who has a full, interesting life you would want to be a part of is more likely to be a healthy, balanced person. While it's important to have some relaxation time and time to meditate or think, a life that includes a good career, hobbies or sports, community service and friends and/or family is reassurance that your date is motivated, focused and able to relate.

8. He seeks out knowledge.
Your date doesn't need to be a member of Mensa or a mathematical genius, but look for enough intelligence that you can respect and admire each other. There are several kinds of intelligence, from school learning to independent education by reading, working, traveling and life experiences. An airhead who looks good and may be fun to play with will not keep you interested for long. A date who is not interested in learning and growing intellectually may not be able to keep up over the long haul.

9. His modesty, humility and ego are balanced.
As you learn about this new person you're dating, observe his or her character and personality for signs of a balanced sense of self. If your date can keep success and failure in perspective, admit personal shortcomings, and rise above disappointments and losses, he or she does have a balanced personality and the kind of resilience that can travel through life's highs and lows and keep it all in perspective.

10. He is emotionally mature.
While it's fun and charming to be able to be childlike when in a playful mood, it's essential to be an adult whenever necessary. A date who is responsible, self-regulating, emotionally responsive, motivated, and in control of his or her impulses is capable of being a supportive, fully participating partner -- no matter what joys and sorrows, successes and failures you may face in the course of a lifetime.

11. He has a healthy history of relationships.
Of course, if both of you are dating again, your relationship history will probably not be perfect. What counts is whether your date has learned from the problems, confronted his or her own weaknesses and shortcomings and grown as a result of the setbacks. If your date is willing to talk openly about his or her past relationships and can explain what went wrong and how he or she is learning to correct the problems, the difficulties in past relationships can be an asset rather than a liability. If your date expresses a willingness to seek counseling in the event that problems should occur, score that in his or her favor.

Remember, a smart date will be watching for the same characteristics in you. To do well in a relationship, learn to be the partner you would like to be.

This article originally appeared on

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Questions to Ask Your Cake Baker

What are my filling choices?

Why You Want to Know: Whether you're looking for a fruity filling, like strawberry or orange, or a heavier mocha or chocolate, the type of ingredients used will make all the difference in taste. Some common filling ingredients: fresh fruits or purees, mousses and buttercream.

Do you work with fondant or buttercream?

Why You Want to Know: Some bakers specialize in fondant, while others prefer buttercream. Others do both. If you have your heart set on one type of frosting, confirm your baker can make it.

Can you make sugar flowers? If I choose fresh blooms, will you work with my florist?

Why You Want to Know: Most bakers can create sugar flowers for your cake; others may be able to create custom motifs or sculptural elements. Ask to see pictures of past work to get a feel for what they specialize in. If you decide to garnish with fresh flowers, ask if your baker will partner with your florist (most will).

How far in advance will my wedding cake be prepared?

Why You Want to Know: Many bakers have multiple clients, so don’t be surprised if the baker makes your cake three to four days prior to your wedding day. Of course the closer to your wedding date, the better, but a few days in advance shouldn’t impact the taste or look and may be necessary if you want a complicated design that takes more than a day to execute.

Who will make my wedding cake?

Why You Want to Know: Some bakeries house a baker and a designer; at others, one person creates the entire cake from batter to sugar flowers. Find out how many people work with the baker and who exactly will be making your cake. The number of people involved should have no bearing on the quality of your cake, but you’ll want to talk design with the right person.

How are your wedding cakes priced?

Why You Want to Know: It's common for wedding cakes to be priced by the slice. And the price will increase depending on the complexity of flavors and fillings you're after (and how detailed the design is). This goes for custom-designed cakes as well.

Does the wedding cake price include the top tier?

Why You Want to Know: Depending on the baker, the top tier may or may not be included in the overall price. Find out the cake baker's policy, and whether having a top tier will increase the price. Our favorite bakers include the top tier—the one many couples save for their first anniversary—for free.

Do you provide cake stands?

Why You Want to Know: Most bakers have a variety of cake stands you can rent for day-of use. Ask to see pictures to determine what will match best with your cake and décor.

What is the delivery process?

Why You Want to Know: It’s best to have the wedding cake delivered to the reception. Some bakers will charge a delivery fee, so ask them from the start and factor it into your cake budget.

Is the baker licensed by the state?

Why You Want to Know: It may seem like a silly question, but it's worth verifying that your baker is licensed by the state health department.