Tag Archives: wedding planning

Trickle Down Effect

Your bridal experience is likely limited to attending weddings and, even if you have been in a bridal party, you are probably unaware of the scope of work planning requires. Therefore, what should be a fun, exciting time often becomes overwhelming and sometimes even dreaded. A great way to avoid this is by figuring out the single aspect most important to you and, surprisingly, everything else will fall into place with much more ease and less stress. A few examples follow:

Dress: Perhaps you can’t get a very casual, informal gown that could double as date night dress out of your mind. From that, without even knowing, you have made the rest of your planning infinitely simpler. It has lessened the likelihood of formal venues, fancy stemware, over-the-top decorations and many of the formalities that go along with ornate, unduly embellished ball gowns.

Flowers: If, for example, you are determined to surround yourself with blush peonies, you have automatically narrowed down the time of year (as they have limited availability) and homed in on a range of complementary colors for both your wedding party and decorations. Also, you have unofficially set a welcoming and familial tone.

Venue: Most important may be exchanging vows in the large, gilded cathedral you were raised in. Accordingly, gone are the less formal dressing options, bohemian style details and whimsical, DIY additions many brides who opt for less formal/less expensive weddings include.

There are exceptions to everything. You may decide to mix and match a bit of everything and, of course, it will come together flawlessly. However, choosing a focal point from which to branch out is a method to save time, energy and help you enjoy the planning process as much as possible.

Unite Me

Many couples getting married choose to personalize their wedding by incorporating a unity ceremony.   A unity candle is what one thinks of most but there are a number of other options that have the same meaning.  Customarily these are performed immediately following the exchange of vows and rings but occasionally they will take place earlier in the wedding. Soft music is often played during this time.

The sand ceremony is a modern and unique alternative to the unity candle. You and your groom pour a different color of sand into a clear container. Each color represents your past lives as individuals and the blending of the sand provides the visual representation of your coming together as one.  This is a perfect opportunity to include children and other family members if you choose to.  As each person pours a different colored sand into the vase, they are making a commitment to become one family.

The cross ceremony is beautiful way to celebrate the joining of two people. It is most often used in church weddings. The outer portion of a multi-pieced cross represents the groom and the inner portion, the bride. When put together, the pieces form a beautiful cross which represents your togetherness in marriage through God. Once the cross is assembled, it is placed on a stand on which your names and wedding date have been inscribed.

The love letter ceremony is one in which you and your finance write letters to one another before the wedding telling each other why you fell in love.  During the wedding ceremony, the letters are placed in a wooden box to be opened at a later date, usually on an anniversary.

Rose ceremonies are a lovely addition to any wedding and are another alternative to the unity candle. A single red rose has always meant “I love you.” Occurring before the final prayer and marriage pronouncement, you and your groom exchange two red roses which symbolize both your first gift to one another and your love for each other throughout your married life.

Although a unity ceremony is not necessary in order to symbolize the joining of two people, it is a beautiful and meaningful addition to any wedding.

 

Banded Together

While selecting your engagement ring is not your choice, discussing your future often occurs prior to your fiancé actually asking the big question. Undoubtedly, one topic that may arise is the desired style of ring as it will be worn for the remainder of your life. Most likely, you have always imagined a huge diamond (as that has always been the trend) although there are options to consider which not only stand out but make your personality shine as well.

Gems: Many have a special attachment to either their birthstone or another with special meaning. Not only can they be created in any shape and diamonds be added as an embellishment (if chosen to do so), the ring is both an expression of you and certainly increases the value and intimacy behind the choice.

Simple bands: While no longer looked upon as being cheap or skimpy, they are a wonderful way to show the growth of your relationship as layers can be added on as your years together pass. It is a symbol that your relationship is not based on flaunting it to others but is a portrayal of the intimate commitment you have with one another.

Double Up: Perhaps the most sentimental design is a combination with special meaning to each of you. One option is two stones of the same type or one that each of you prefers. Alternately, perhaps there is a unique and relevant shape which could be made from any consolidation you choose.

Again, you are not the one who will determine what your ring looks like but if your fiancé knows you well enough and you have had discussions and dreams for your future, whatever he selects will be just perfect.

I’ll (Re)Consider It…

There is a sense of excitement and anticipation when you are proposed to that is often overwhelming as it is a moment that, perhaps has been long-awaited, will change your life forever and symbolizes the start of something new and incredible. It is only natural to want to dive right in and start planning and getting everything in order. There are so many aspects to weddings that can easily seem overwhelming so it is understandable to want to start checking as many things off of your list as quickly as possible. However, there are some things (of which these are just a few) that you should take some time to think about.

Perhaps choosing a dress is the most important. It is easy to see a gown you like or remember the one you grew up thinking you would want to wear and choose it immediately. Because the thing that all of your guests and your fiancé anticipate most is seeing you walk down the aisle as well as being the most important thing you will ever wear, you should take time to make sure you have made the perfect choice. Have some fun and try on different shapes and styles as you may find that the dress you thought you would never like turns out to be the one you can’t imagine not having.

Selecting who will be in your bridal party is another thing you need to put some thought into. After all, you can’t say “Oops. I didn’t mean that and want to take it back.” Because you were a bridesmaid for someone doesn’t obligate you to make them one of yours. If that were the case and you had prior “always been the bridesmaid but never the bride,” potentially you would have 10+ in your wedding party. Your budget will play a part in selecting the number you have but make your selection (whatever the number) carefully.

There is obviously a fun feeling in knowing that, for the occasion, you will get numerous gifts that you ask for on your registry. While there is a temptation to just go into stores and randomly pick and choose things that suit your fancy, the wise and prudent route to take is to spend time considering what you actually need. Recognize the items that you already have as well as those of your fiancé and ask for what you are lacking and will actually use. Additionally, spend a minute considering items in different price ranges as, while many guests want to give you a gift, they may not have very much money to spare. If you select things in different price ranges, everyone can get something that you want without having to worry or feel guilty for the amount they spend.

Upon hearing that you are engaged, people will innately have countless questions for you but it is important to remember that you don’t have to have the answers immediately. Enjoy your engagement and put some thought behind the decisions you make as you can never go back and recreate that day.

Reception Conception

It goes without saying that the most important part of your wedding day is the ceremony as it is what joins you with your future husband in the presence of your friends and family. Your reception is the time for everyone to just relax, have a good time and celebrate the beginning of your new life together. Because many receptions are similar in terms of food, music, the order of things etc., it is easy for it to fall down on the list of priorities in terms of planning. However, here are some interesting things to think about…

Sometimes, brides toy with the idea of changing outfits for the reception for a variety of reasons and, of course, the decision is an individual one and completely up to you. If your gown is heavy or cumbersome, you may be more comfortable in something that is lighter and easier to move and dance in. However, a second ensemble is obviously an additional expense and your wedding day is the one time in your life that you will wear your dress. Also, photos will be taken of you and your new husband at the reception and you have to consider, for example, whether you want the tangible memories of your first dance to be of you wearing something other than what you were married in. Also, most brides take photos after the ceremony which leaves the guests waiting for a period of time and you should consider that changing clothes and reworking your look will add to that.

Wedding toasts are typically done after the first course has been served, usually beginning with the best man followed by the maid of honor and then the parents as well as anyone else you choose. Speeches should be both funny and sincere yet they should not include information that your other guests will not understand references to nor should they be too long as, in conjunctions with the others, guests can sometimes lose interest. Keep in mind that you may choose not to have a sit-down dinner at your reception and just hors d’oeuvres instead in which case, toasts are usually done during the rehearsal dinner.

While music should be a personal preference based on your likes and that of your husband, food is an element of the reception that the guests should be factored in to as, on average, receptions last approximately four hours including the cocktail hour (if you choose to have one), first dance, meal, toasts and cake cutting so overall, ceremony and downtime in between included, your wedding will be about six hours. That timeframe will be extended if your wedding and ceremony are in different locations and, most likely, people will get hungry. While meat is the focus of most wedding courses, it is always nice to have vegetarian options as some of your guests or guests of your invitees may not eat meat and it’s possible that others may prefer something lighter at the moment. It is important that there are things that everyone can eat and/or finds appealing as you don’t want anyone to go hungry.

Additionally, something to remember is that the number of wedding guests does have an effect on the cost of the reception as it goes without saying that the cost increases with each person regardless of whether you just have appetizers or a sit-down meal or buffet. That is certainly not to insinuate that you should limit who you invite due to the cost of food but it is a factor to consider as typically, people are not invited to the ceremony and eliminated from the festivities afterwards. For some brides, in fact, the type of reception is determined by the number of guests and allowance in the budget and for others, the number of guests is a deciding factor in how many people are invited depending on the importance of the after party on the list of priorities.

Receptions signify a celebration in honor of your union with your fiancé but, because they are one of the few elements of your wedding that can easily be planned in accordance to an age-old schedule does not mean that they should lack in attention or consideration. After all, there are many elements that go into receptions that can and should be individualized based on your budget, who you invite as well as personal preferences and you don’t ever want to look back on your big day and wish you had given more time and consideration to any aspect or that you had done anything differently.

It Themes to Me

A wedding day is an overwhelming task to plan and takes an immense amount of time and consideration, but no matter how you look at it, the majority of weddings have some sort of theme. Some are subtle enough that they may be missed (even by you), some noticeable and others over the top, but typically, a theme is what ties everything together. Some brides associate the phrase “theme wedding” with something tacky that they would never have while others choose one either to celebrate something important to them or simply make the planning and shopping more streamlined and easier to stay focused on. Consider the following…

If you choose a color for your bridesmaids’ dresses, the same is used for the groomsmen’s handkerchiefs or ties and is additionally incorporated in the chair decorations, floral arrangements etc. at the reception, some may call that a “scheme” but it is a theme as well. That is the type of theme that even you may not notice until you look back at your photos and think “Goodness. Everything about our wedding was (fill in the blank)”.

Perhaps there is something, whether a day, place or thing that is very special to both of you that you would like to focus on. For example, let’s say that you met your future husband in Hawaii randomly when on a family vacation and the two of you returned and it was where you were proposed to. Of course, that would be very meaningful to both of you and something you might want to showcase. You could emboss an illustration of the islands on your invitations and/or thank you notes, choose tropical flowers such as Plumeria and yellow Hibiscus which are very representative of Hawaii for your bouquets or make your cake topper a couple dressed in board shorts and a grass skirt.

If you wanted to take things a step further, you could choose leis for your bridesmaids instead of traditional bouquets or have them handed out to your guests as they enter the ceremony site. By no means, however, do you need to have hula dancers at your reception, outfit your wedding party in grass skirts or roast a pig at your reception.

Without a doubt, those who you invite to your wedding will recognize the meaning behind the small nuances and those who don’t (i.e. the guests of your guests) will easily understand when getting an explanation from who it is they came with. It is not necessary to go overboard and make your special day over-the-top to the point that it takes away from the meaning and reasoning behind your marriage. After all, you still want it to feel like a day in which you are committing your lives to one another and too much can easily be a distraction and take away from that.

Preparation Elevation

Every bride has their own individual ideas in reference to color schemes, number of attendants, location, dress and just about every other aspect of their wedding day. This can also be said about the level of involvement they want to have in the planning and preparation processes. Some future brides insist on having their hands in every little detail to the exclusion of input from family and friends while others, believe it or not, want nothing more than to do what some grooms get to do and just show up on the day of with everything completed and in place.

Sometimes, rallying the troops of family and friends and the combination of the amount of time, creativity and energy you have, you can easily pull off the perfect wedding without wearing yourself out or feeling too much stress. Unfortunately, planning your wedding does not become a paid profession upon your engagement and your daily life can easily (and usually does) get in the way. It is not typically feasible to take off work in order to meet with each vendor in accordance with their availabilities nor do you probably want to spend every evening after a long day and each weekend mulling over the details. Additionally, with the number of vendors there are for any given aspect of your wedding, it can be difficult to determine who is the most reliable, cost-efficient and offers the highest quality products. Therefore, many brides, no matter the budget or size of the wedding, at least consider (if not hire) either a wedding planner who can provide as little or as much assistance in decision-making and planning as you feel comfortable with or a day-of coordinator.

Wedding planners often have established relationships with local vendors and, in return for using their services, receive a discounted rate that would not be available if you were just to walk in on your own. Also, planners are able to be proactive and prepare for all kinds of snafus that would never even cross your mind having never been married before. Wedding planners keep you on budget and keep your wedding day on a strict schedule. If photos are to be taken at 3:15, he or she will make sure that photos are taken at 3:15 for example. Some brides (and guests) really appreciate the rigidity of the schedule as it eliminates unnecessary waiting and downtime. However, it can also result in a sense of formality and depersonalization that may seem disconcerting to some. Another thing to consider is that the rate wedding planners typically charge is between 10 – 15% of your budget for the day, many without fluctuation based on whether you want their hand in absolutely everything or just a bit of guidance.

If you want to tackle the planning on your own, something else to consider is a day-of coordinator. These are people who are not involved at all in your planning and whose job is to solely assist you on your wedding day. You will let them know who everyone is, where they go, how you want things to run and they make sure that happens. Day-of coordinators are responsible for making sure the wedding party knows when to enter, prompts your little flower girl to walk down the aisle and will often remove your decorations after the ceremony is over. In addition, they act as a personal assistant and take care of any needs you may have such as help in getting dressed, ensure that all of your decorations look just right and handle any emergencies that may arise. The rate for these services often starts at $1,000 which may seem like a great deal but can really make you feel relaxed so you can focus on your wedding instead of worrying that everything is perfectly in order.

It is solely a matter of personal preference and each bride’s wedding experience is different and unique. Whereas some brides may run into roadblocks at every turn both in planning and on the day of, others will be lucky enough to float through the process seamlessly. One bride may be completely overwhelmed with the planning process, not even know where to begin and what is supposed to be fun and joyous quickly becomes a burden and source of stress. Another bride will love handling every detail and not want to do anything other than plan for the big day. An engagement is intended to be one of the most enjoyable and exciting times of your life. A small wedding doesn’t necessarily mean fewer details and the notion of either a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator is one that is certainly worth considering.