Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Secret To Sleep The Night Before Your Wedding Day

Let’s be honest — you’re probably not going to get a ton of sleep the night before your wedding. (Talk to anyone who’s gone through it and they’ll tell you, it’s close to impossible!) That said, if you let all of that mind racing (over the guest list, the flowers and the weekend timeline) keep you from sleeping in the days and weeks leading up to the day-of, you could end up overly tired, over-stressed, or worse — sick — on your wedding day. We talked to three experts about what it takes to get great sleep. The biggest secret of all? Create and stick to a sleep schedule in the weeks leading up to your wedding.

How To Create A Sleep Schedule
No less than three weeks before the wedding, create a sleep cycle for yourself. This means pick a bed time (like you would for a child), and a time to wake up each day. Then stick to it — even on the weekends. We know it’s hard to resist the urge of sleeping in late on Saturday, but Dr. Helene Emsellem, Director of The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders and a Clinical Professor of Neurology, says to try not to waver too much on the time you go to bed and the time you wake up. At most, you should be waking up and going to bed each night within the same two-hour window. And, even if you don’t fall asleep at the right time, you should still wake up at your designated wake time to stick to your schedule, adds Dr. Michael Breus, Diplomate and Fellow of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and author of Beauty Sleep.

With all of the sleep expertise on our hands, we ended up with a short list of tips for getting better shut-eye in the days leading up to the wedding. Maybe you’ve heard of a few of them (like, don’t drink coffee before bed!), but if you’re serious about feeling rested and refreshed before the wedding, read them and make them a part of your sleep routine.

1. Get Sunlight
Every morning, get at least 15 minutes of sunlight. “Even if it is a cloudy day, just going outside and getting some of those UV rays is good. Because the sun resets your internal clock — what we call your circadian rhythm,” says Dr. Breus.

2. Wind Down
As early as an hour before you go to bed, and no later than fifteen minutes before you sleep, you should create a wind-down routine. That means dimming the lights, switching off your emails, maybe listening to a comforting playlist and disengaging from the world. “Dimming the lights helps your brain get the clue that you’re going to try to sleep,” says Dr. Emsellem. “Going from bright light to darkness is very difficult.”

3. Start Exercising
“Exercise is a known stress reducer and a known sleep improver,” says Dr. Breus. “People who excersize regularly have a higher quality of sleep.” If you want to take this a step further, you can even try doing a few relaxing yoga poses before bed with some meditation to help you get in a restful mood.

4. Quit the Caffeine
We’re not saying you need to toss out your Keurig, but it may be helpful to switch to decaf and avoid chocolate, soda and some teas after 4 p.m. Dr. Breus even recommends avoiding caffeine before 2 p.m. “Most people don’t realize that caffeine has a half-life of between 8 to 10 hours and it can affect your ability to fall asleep as well as your ability to stay asleep,” he adds.

5. Avoid Alcohol
“Some people think it’s a good idea to have a few glasses of wine before bed, but that never turns out particularly well,” explains Dr. Breus. “Your sleep quality will go down, and you’ll get dehydrated, so I always dissuade the idea of alcohol. It just doesn’t work.”

6. Pull the Plug on Your Electronics
For some of us, the blue light found in tablets and phones actually signals daytime to our brains, says Dr. Jordan Stern of The Comprehensive Sleep and Snoring Center in New York, NY. Disengaging from social media, emails and text messages will also draw your mind away from the types of thoughts that can jolt you back into a state of anxious wakefulness. “The idea that one can go from working and doing things to immediately falling asleep is fraught with problems,” Dr. Emsellem says. “It’s really hard to switch modes directly from awake activity to sleep.”

7. Soothe Yourself
Doctors suggest getting your mind ready for sleep with a hot bath or warm shower before your bed time, which increases your body’s core temperature before dramatically dropping it. This gives a cue to your body that you’re ready for bed. Add the scent of lavender to the bath, or drink a cup of chamomile tea to truly let the calming effect sink in.

8. Write Down a List of To-Dos
“Our minds are very powerful and if you’re drifting off to sleep, but you start to think and worry, your heart rate goes up, your respiratory rate goes up, you sweat, you get anxious and all of those things are counter-productive to sleep,” says Dr. Emsellem. If your mind is still racing as you’re hopping into bed, get out a pen and paper and write down the list of things that are keeping you up with potential solutions. “One thing I have my brides do the night before the wedding is write down a list of all the things they have concerns about, then jotting down a quick solution,” says Dr. Breus. “The solution could be as simple as calling your planner to deal with the situation in the morning.” As long as your brain feels like you’ve addressed the problem, and created a solution, you have a good chance of letting it go. “The fact of the matter is that you can’t do anything about it at night except worry.”

9. Distract Yourself
If all else fails, really try to distract yourself. Create a sleep playlist using songs without any words, or with soothing sounds to keep your mind off the things that are keeping it up. Then practice progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing muscles consecutively, from your toes to your head. “Start with your feet and curl your toes, then relax them, then flex your feet backwards toward your head, then relax, then move to your calves and your thighs, all the way up to your head,” Dr. Breus says. “By going through this process, you reduce your level of stress and anxiety. I usually have people practice this at least a week before the wedding, so they get used to it.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

10 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive as You Plan Your Wedding

There are few thing more exciting than beginning to plan your wedding. But guess what? Before long, all that planning can be anything but sexy for the couple-to-be. So while you're going through all those contracts, fittings, and tastings? Make sure to make time for your S.O. (and relationship) too. Here are 10 Lover.ly-tested and approved ways to keep the love light burning 'til the big day arrives.
Cool Palm Springs Engagement Shoot | Chaz Cruz Photography | Bridal Musings Wedding Blog 18
1. Make a date night. And no, couples’ therapy isn’t date night. Happy hour with your alumni crew isn’t date night. Sitting on the couch every night with takeout isn't date night. Date nights are two people plus a plan—a plan that they stick to. Whether they are weekly or monthly, date nights are a snapshot of what you’ll be doing for the rest of your lives. Might as well get good at it, right? If you’re stumped for inspiration, check out our 20 date ideas under $20.
2. Go old school. Look back through your texts, Instagrams, and gushy emails to friends from those early dating days and relive some of your best moments—and date nights—all over again. (Bonus points for actually showing your partner those aforementioned gushy text messages!)
3. Get good at staying in. Kitchensurfing and Kitchit, and similar sites serve up personal chefs, cooking instructors, and dinner parties on demand. Plated and Blue Apron bring gourmet meals (and pre-portioned specialty ingredients) to your door. All that's left to do is take off your shoes (and anything else that seems right) and get down to business.
4. Include each other. Now’s the time to test the waters of hanging out as a unit. Loop your partner in on a few formerly single-friend activities if they’re interested. Plan some double dates. In a perfect world, coupledom should enrich both of your social lives, not totally undo them. (Sounds pretty sexy, right?)
5. Nest. After the wedding, “nesting activities” sometimes go by another name: chores. Before you’re hitched, however, treat them as the new partner-y, couple-y endeavors that they are. Host a painting party! Spackle and dance party to your heart’s content! It’s totally fun! (And it won’t always feel that way.)
6. Get healthy together. Guess what? Most gyms, wellness centers, and sports leagues don’t require a marriage certificate to sign you up as a couple right this minute. So get movin’ and have fun! Regular sweat sessions will also help stave off wedding
7. Take a "mini-moon" now. Whether it’s a staycation, a day trip, or one last three-day weekend hurrah between now and your big day, taking time is key to staying in sync. Don’t wait until the honeymoon to block out the outside world and just be together.
8. Drop your “fiancé” status like it’s going out of style. You only have so long to use the “f” word. Planes, trains, dinner reservation lines…they’re all fair game for working in the phrase “We just got engaged!” and seeing where it gets you. And hey, if it gets you nothing more than “Congrats!” and a smile, that’s fine too.
9. Rediscover the city where you fell in love. Scoutmob and Peek are excellent sites for cruising local experiences (some of which you couldn’t access on your own) at a steal. From underground jazz clubs and after hours museum nights to public lectures and walking tours, nerding out a’deux has never been so romantic.
10. Make wedding planning more fun...and remember to take time off from wedding planning. 
If it feels like the wedding is taking over your lives, designate your date nights wedding-conversation-free zones. Or find ways make wedding planning more fun. You know what makes assembling wedding favors a blast? Wine. (Beer or vodka works too!) And never underestimate the thrill of registering in-store equipped with a registry scanner gun. It’s addictive—and a really great way to turn a mundane wedding task into an unforgettable outing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Things You Should Never Say on a Wedding Invitation

Wedding invitation wording don'ts
Photo: Julie Song Ink

Sometimes, what's not said on your wedding invitations is as important as what is said. Yes, you need your guests to know when and where you're getting married, as well as who is hosting, but other things are better left unsaid. Your invites and stationery are still very much tied to etiquette customs and traditions, and as such, should abide by those proper rules. Here, some information that should never be included on or placed inside a wedding invitation:

Registry or gift information: Although a wedding invitation requires a gift in return, it is in extremely poor taste to insert a "helpful" list of places where the bride and groom are registered or a checklist of the things they want or don't want. This information should be shared with parents and attendants who can be resources for guests who want to know. The wedding website is also a perfectly appropriate place to share this information.

The inclusion of "No Children:" Never print "No children" or "Adults only" on an invitation. The way an invitation is addressed, whether on the outer or inner envelope, indicates exactly who is — and by omission who is not — invited to the wedding.

Alcohol information: It is unnecessary to put "Alcohol Free" or "Wine and Beer Only" on the invitation. Surely this information will not be the deciding factor as to whether or not guests attend. You are inviting them to a wedding, not a cocktail party.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

6 Things You Have to Do After Your Wedding — Even Before You Hit the Hotel Room

Your last straggling — and happily exhausted! — guests are bidding you goodbye. The DJ is disassembling his turntable. And the wait staff is clearing the last glasses from the tables. But before you pull off those gorgeous Manolo Blahnik peep-toe pumps, head for your hotel and kick-off your honeymoon, there are still a few things you have to do.

"No one wants to see the beauty of the evening end so quickly," admits Erin Donoghue, owner of Your Event By Erin. But when your reception comes to a close, don't forget to take care of the following things:

1. Send your gifts home with a family member — and pack up your cards to read over on the flight. "If you're zipping off on a honeymoon, there could be some useful spending money in there," Donoghue says.

2. Snag the top of your wedding cake. "Freeze it, and eat it on your one-year anniversary," Donoghue recommends.

3. "Vintage family heirlooms, such as your cake topper or toasting saucers, are irreplaceable," says Donoghue. So make sure they're packed up before you leave the ballroom.

4. Leftovers may not seem appetizing at the end of the evening — but when you spend $30 or more per plate, you should be sure to get your money's worth! "A lovely package of food to enjoy, because you may not have eaten all night, or some yummy little desserts packed up," are perfect for late-night snacks in your hotel, explains Donoghue.

5. Before your last guests hit the road, send centerpieces along with them. "You can tell your family members to spread the word, or ask your MC can make a nice little announcement that the flowers are for taking," suggests Donoghue.

6. Pack up any leftover paper products. "They could be perfect for a wedding day scrapbook," says Donoghue.

Feeling stressed about all of these last-minute to dos? Pass the buck by assigning these tasks to your mom, maid of honor or another friend before your big day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

11 Ways To Keep Kids Busy At Your Wedding

Even the cutest of flower girls and ring bearers will need some kid-friendly entertainment at the reception. While parents are sipping cocktails, giving toasts and catching up, keep the kids busy with fun activities that make them feel included in the festivities, too. Here are 11 creative ways to pull it off!

Cracker Jack Activity Place Setting

From the album: A Rustic Elegant Wedding in Charlottesville, VA

Kids Only Tent 

From the album: A Chic Outdoor Wedding in Santa Ynez, CA

Burlap Kids Activity Kit

From the album: A Rustic Elegant WEdding in Charlottesville, VA

Disposable Camera Scavenger Hunt

DIY Carnival Games

From the album: A Modern Wedding in Anaheim, CA

Activity Suitcases For The Kids Table

Field Day Races for Outdoor Receptions

From the album: An Outdoor Country Wedding in Hickson, ND

Children’s Game Centerpieces

From the album: An Understated Luxury Wedding in Cape May, NJ

Color Your Own Place Mat

From the album: A Lovely Vintage Wedding in Granville, OH

Downloadable Kids Coloring Book 

Download the book here!

Customized Coloring Book

From the album: A Traditional Wedding in Findlay, OH

Tip: Make your own coloring book with photos that represent you and your fiance, your family and your wedding. Use this free site to turn photographs into illustrations that you can download and print for the little ones.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Groom And His Dying Mom Share Last Dance 72 Hours Before Her Death

Dublin mom with cancer

Just three days before she died of breast cancer, Mary Ann Manning summoned the strength to share one last dance with her son Ryan at his wedding.

Ryan and Katelyn Manning of San Francisco tied the knot at the St. Regis in Dana Point, California earlier this month. At the reception, he and his mother danced to Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" medley -- an amazing accomplishment given that she began using a wheelchair months before the wedding.

"It was incredibly emotional, especially to see her pop out of the wheelchair," daughter Karie Chamberlain told KTVU. "For the days leading up to it, we were helping her do everything -- even walk."

The groom told KTVU how much he admired his mother's determination. Mary Ann's kids believe she was living for the wedding -- she died exactly 72 hours after the ceremony began.

"There is absolutely no doubt that that woman, a very strong woman, fought incredibly hard to get to that point," he said, holding back tears.

10 Best Things About Married Sex

Married sex is like the red-headed stepchild of the booty world -- at least, according to TV and movies. In that world, married sex is overly lit and played for laughs, whereas all the other kinds of sex -- casual sex, new sex, cheating sex, ex sex -- get the sultry soundtrack and rumpled sheets.
So, we are here to remind you of 10 reasons -- yes, we managed to come up with 10 -- why married sex is awesome.

1. You Have Advanced Degrees in Each Other's Bodies
You know where to let your hands wander -- and where not to. Your partner knows exactly what you like -- and what you can't stand -- so you won't ever again have to figure out a nice way of saying, "What is that weird thing you keep doing with your nose during oral sex? And can you please not do it ever again?"

2. Good Sex Can Happen Fast When You Need It To
Those advanced degrees mean that sex doesn't always need to take an hour. Because five minutes of getting the job done is better than 45 minutes of ineffectual dilly-dallying, especially when you have to be up with the birds the next morning. Also, it's OK to say, "Wanna have sex as soon as my show is finished?" In fact, sometimes that's all it takes to get in the mood.

3. Sex Can Be Hilarious
All the stuff that used to mortify you when you were single and dating is now more entertaining than a reel of news bloopers: unexpected bodily emissions (a well-timed queef can be entertaining for days); trying and failing at a complicated position; accidentally getting certain substances in your ear during the money shot; a pillow that keeps getting in your way like an unwelcome third wheel; etc., etc.

4. You Can Be Fully in the Moment
Yeah, yeah, we know there are kids and work problems and dirty laundry and all the usual life stuff that can distract you from good sex. That's life. But you're not distracted by thinking, Does this person really like me? I wonder if I'll ever hear from them again? I wonder what they think of my boob size/penis size/oral technique? Should I stay the night? Will I climax? Did my partner climax? Did they just wince when I got near their nipples? Where did my nose ring go? And so on and on and on and on.

5. You Make Your Own Normal
Forget about the Joneses, they're not sleeping in your bed. When you're married, you're each other's yardstick for what's "normal." If you like sex once a month -- and the two of you agree on this -- then that's your normal. If you both like a strict diet of missionary, then that's cool too. You swing every other Friday with the neighbors? Then it's just your typical Friday night. Whatever positions, whatever schedule, whatever approach -- whatever works for the two of you is all good, and screw everyone else.

6. Kink Works Better
Really naughty sex requires negotiation, communication and trust. When you're married, you (should) have these things in spades, and they're not buzz kills, either! So you can experiment with bondage, power roles, sharing fantasies, even pain, and it's much less likely that someone will end up in the emergency room (or in tears)! Plus, the more intimate and domestic and settled your day-to-day life is, the hotter it is to break out the handcuffs at night.

7. STDs Are a Thing of the Past (If you're a monogamous married couple)
So long, condoms. So long, crabs. So long, douchey partners who lie about their sexual history. So long, that late-night panic of, "Is that herpes or just a really big pimple?!"

8. Simultaneous Orgasms
Sure, these aren't guaranteed with married sex, but the more times you sleep with the same person -- someone you love and trust and are committed to -- the more likely this is to happen. You know each other's timing, each other's bodies, each other's hot spots, and you'll be comfortable bringing vibrating toys to bed to help even the orgasmic playing field. (You are comfortable doing that, yes? Because if you're not, then you're not doing married sex right!)

9. You Can Take Each Other for Granted
Not that you should do this all the time, but you're allowed to do it some of the time. Assuming you have a healthy marriage and you communicate well and often, sex will probably there for you when you need it -- at least at some point, even if it's not as often as you'd like. You don't need to hit the town and hope you get lucky. You don't always need to shave your legs. You don't need to suck in your stomach and present your good side. Warning: If you take married sex (or your married love) for granted too often, you may find married sex less reliable than it used to be!

10. You Can Get Better
Sex doesn't automatically get better over time, but it does if you want it to! And having sex doesn't necessarily make you better at sex -- after all, everyone is different in bed -- but having sex with the same person, over and over again, absolutely makes you better at having sex with that same person. In other words, married people have no excuse not to be sex gods and goddesses -- at least in the eyes of their spouse!

Wedding Music: The Top 10 Wedding Music Mishaps

Mistake 1: Forgetting to check sound ordinance laws.

"Brides need to check for sound ordinances in the town that their reception will be held or restrictions on noise levels at their venues. Some venues have a restricted sound level and end-time policies. You don't want your reception to end early unexpectedly."
-Johnna Dionne, Wavelength Band

Mistake 2: Not meeting the DJ until the day of their wedding.

"A face-to-face meeting is the best way to determine if the DJ is qualified and will give you what YOU want. Also, you can determine if you have a personality match with the DJ and if he or she is someone who will deliver a fun day."
-Brian S. Graham, ADJA Knoxville Chapter

Mistake 3: Having too small of a dance floor.

"If there is nowhere to maneuver, then congestion on the dance floor can be a nightmare because people get bumped into, glasses break, and drinks can be spilled. Having more room will encourage your guests to get on the dance floor."
-Jeremy Gerba, Lethal DJ Services

Mistake 4: Playing only one type of music.

"Too much of a good thing is a bad thing in music. Weddings will always have a wide range of age groups, so you need to switch things up to keep the music fresh!"
-DJ Pat, Sound Prodigy

Mistake 5: Forgetting to make a do-not-play list.

"The last thing a bride wants to hear at her reception is a band she hates or maybe a song that reminds her of her husband's ex! Recently I had a bride who vetoed any Michael Jackson for that specific reason, so throughout the reception, when I got a request for Michael, I had to pretend that I forgot to bring any. The DJ always has to remember that it's the bride and groom's wedding -- not theirs -- and our job is to make it the celebration that they really want!"
-Richard Blade, RichardBlade.com

Mistake 6: Requesting too many songs.

"Keep in mind that a DJ plays approximately 12 to 15 songs per hour, so for the average four-hour reception, that's only around 60 songs. A good rule of thumb is to keep your request list to about 25 songs or so. That way you get to hear all of your songs, plus you give your DJ freedom to take requests from your guests."
- Russ Knight, Knight Flight Professional DJs

Mistake 7: Choosing long special dance songs.

"It can get boring for your guests. Of course this is your day, and these dances are special, however, when choosing those special songs, consider shortening the mother-son and father-daughter songs. These dances are great, and you should spend this special moment with your parent(s), but once the congratulations, I’ll miss you, and thank-yous are done, end the dance."
-Jeremy Jones, Entertainment Solutions

Mistake 8: Not paying attention to the flow of the events.

"To create energy for an active dance floor, make sure the wedding flow of events moves along nicely," says Tim Benter, DJs To Go Inc.. "If you have a 90-minute cocktail hour and two hours of dinner your guests will be looking for a nap, not a dance floor. Keep your cocktail hour to "an hour" and then move into a well served dinner service process."
Another flow-of-events mistake has to do with the way you configure the room -- "A very common mistake is having the bar in a different room than where the dancing is supposed to happen," says DJ Nahchey, Dash Entertainment. "When couples do this, it splits the event into drinkers and dancers, and the party doesn't really come together."

Mistake 9: Picking too many obscure songs.

"As music professionals, we certainly appreciate all kinds of music, however, the guests may not. They go to a wedding expecting to hear music they know and can dance to," says Gina Diegnan of In the Mix DJ Service. Daniel Blevins of CSC Special Events & Creative Services agrees with this tip: "A simple rule for music selection is 90% of the music played should be known by 90% of the guests."

Mistake 10: Not verifying your DJ.

"Make sure the DJ you are talking with will be the actual DJ performing at your reception. Many DJ companies book multiple events on the same night and may subcontract to other companies using DJs with varying levels of skill. Be careful of ‘bait and switch tactics’ by making sure you evaluate the individual DJ and not just the DJ Company."
-Troy Michael, Troy Michael DJ

Monday, September 22, 2014

DeShawn Shead proposes to girlfriend on field after win vs Denver Broncos

'Legion of Boom?' Better make that 'Legion of Groom.'

Seahawks defensive back DeShawn Shead proposed to his girlfriend Jessica Martinez on Sunday evening following his team's 26-20 overtime victory against the Denver Broncos at Seattle's CenturyLink Field. 

Shead was joined by friends, family, and several Seahawks teammates as he got down on one knee at the field's 50-yard-line to pop the question. She said yes.

"I was very shocked," Martinez told 'Voice of the Seahawks' Steve Raible.

Shead, in his third-year with the Seahawks out of Portland State, had Bruno Mars' Marry You playing during the proposal, with the stadium's north video board reading, "Will you marry me Jessica?"
"Football is what brought me to Washington, for me to meet her," Shead told Raible. "So I think this is a big part of our relationship.”

A Bride's Guide to E-mail Etiquette

We're all about digital weddings, from live-streaming your vows to having a cute wedding hashtag. But when it comes to e-mail, even if it slashes your budget, things get a little dicier. Just because you can send an e-mail doesn't mean you always should. For instance, it's never a good idea to e-mail a wedding invitation or a thank-you note. On the other hand, it's a very acceptable option for other circumstances. We found some etiquette expert-approved situations in which you should by all means start messaging your guests.

I want to save money on some part of my wedding stationery. Can I e-mail my save-the-dates?

Absolutely. Many couples, once they've pinned down their wedding day, choose to send out an early informal note alerting friends and family to put that date aside. It's perfectly fine to e-mail this note.

Is it ok to e-mail lodging information later on if my hotel can't confirm a block of rooms until closer to the wedding date?

Yes, and this is also a good way to avoid overloading the mailing even if you know about your hotel block in advance. Also, feel free to e-mail information on restaurants and points of interest. For those of your guests who prefer web communication, a group e-mail is ideal for this purpose.

Thoughts on including an e-mail address on my invitations for RSVPs?

It's perfectly acceptable to give your guests the option of e-mailing their responses to you. Just make sure that it's an option. Simply add a printed sentence at the bottom of your printed response card saying, "You may also reply by way of our e-mail address, which is happycouple@rsvp.com." This is especially appropriate in the case of a last-minute wedding, if you are planning a relatively informal wedding, or if you're already in regular e-mail contact with many of your invited guests.

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 “AmandaandJon.com,” 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 | blog.theknot.com
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