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Few purchases are as riddled with so many options as those of the engagement and wedding rings! In addition to figuring out the stone and style, here are some other questions to consider: How many rings should you set out to buy in the first place? An engagement ring? A wedding set? A wedding band? If you buy more than one, should they match? And, what do you plan to do with the engagement ring once you’re married?

At least it’s easy to figure out on which finger to wear it, right? As the joke goes,

At the cocktail party, one woman said to another, ‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’ The other replied, ‘Yes, I married the wrong man.’

While marrying the right person is, of course, the most important decision, you will also be tied to your wedding ring (and possibly your engagement ring) for your happy-ever-after. So how do you make sure you end up with the ring that will also last a lifetime? Here are some considerations to take into account before your wedding day (and perhaps even before your engagement date).

Option 1: The bride wants to continue to wear the engagement ring together with the wedding band after the wedding.
This option is very popular today because: The ring is gorgeous. It cost a fortune. Why only wear it for a year? Why not keep showing it off?

Most brides do keep wearing it, in one form or another.

  • Two separate rings on your left hand ring finger. The wedding band can be worn together with the engagement ring. Make sure the wedding ring goes on the bottom (symbolism: so it sits closer to your heart) and the engagement ring on top. During the ceremony, many brides keep their engagement ring on their right hand, let the groom slip the wedding band onto their right finger, and then discretely move the engagement ring on top of the wedding ring sometime after the ceremony. For this option to look good, you want to plan out your rings to make sure they match in color, shape, size, and style. A simple gold wedding band might be easiest to match, but if you plan in advance, the band can really accentuate, emphasize and extend the engagement ring.
  • Buy a bridal set (also known as a wedding set). To save couples the trouble of having to match the wedding ring with the engagement ring, bridal sets can be bought. Some bridal (or wedding) sets include the bride’s engagement ring and the bride’s wedding band.
    Some of these matching engagement-wedding rings are called “integrated sets”: they interlock perfectly with each other, but the wedding band will look incomplete if it is not worn with the engagement ring. “Parallel sets” are individual matching rings, which do not interlock, but this also means that the wedding band can stand on its own and be worn separately.
    Some wedding sets include three rings: the bride’s engagement ring and wedding ring, and the groom’s wedding ring. If you would like all three rings to match perfectly, this is the most straightforward approach to take.
  • Solder the rings together into one ring. If you are worried about the rings separating, slipping away from each other, etc., some brides get the engagement ring and engagement band soldered together into one ring. The risk in soldering is that, sometimes, you might only want to wear your wedding band, without the engagement ring. You might also want to add an anniversary band later on, or some brides couples a band when they have their first child. Other brides even think about how multiple children can inherit the rings if they’re not soldered together. There are no rules to this – it depends on each bride’s preference. Think about whether you would ever want to separate the rings, and if not, then getting them soldered would add convenience. (If you’re unsure, you can always solder them later.)

Option 2: The bride wants to continue to wear the engagement ring, but not right next to the wedding band.
Reasons: Same as before. It’s gorgeous. It cost a fortune. And she wants to show it off. However…

The engagement ring and wedding band don’t always look good together. Or maybe the bride’s fingers are small enough that two rings really weigh the finger down. Then she will be more likely to wear the rings separately.

  • Wedding ring on the left hand, Engagement ring on a different finger. While the wedding band will always be on your left hand ring finger, some brides decide to place their engagement ring on a different finger (or even a different hand). Most common would be to wear the engagement ring on the right hand, and therefore not have to worry about the two rings matching. They’ll also look better on small hands.
  • Put it on a chain or necklace. Some girls reset their center stone from the engagement ring into a pendant, so it is always close to their heart. Or you could be non-traditional and get engaged with a simple ring, and the center stone directly set into a beautiful necklace. That way, the necklace can keep carrying the emotional significance of the engagement, while the engagement ring is swapped with a wedding band on the wedding day.

Option 3: The bride wants to only wear one ring at a time.
Reasons: There are lots of reasons why a bride might prefer to not wear her engagement ring on a daily basis… Maybe the engagement ring and wedding band just don’t match. Maybe your fingers are so small that a two-part ring looks gaudy and feels like it’s weighing down your diminutive hand. Maybe the high-setting is making the ring catch on clothes, and scratch babies / kids / husbands / furniture, etc. Sometimes, arthritis can make the fingers too swollen and painful for wearing a ring. Other times, the ring might simply just seem too fancy for everyday clothes and everyday situations. You’ll have to take it off anyway when you’re cooking or doing other messy things, which scares some people that they might lose the ring or forget it somewhere. There is also the wear and tear that the engagement ring would accrue due to it being worn in all kinds of situations (which might be of particular importance to those brides wanting to pass on their ring to their daughters).

  • Wear the engagement ring for special occasions. While the wedding band symbolizes the strong daily bond and devotion to one another, the engagement ring will remind the couple of their love’s early days. Pulling it out on special occasions or for special days will surround the ring in the nostalgia of young love.

And what about the groom’s ring?
I’ve mentioned how wedding sets can be bought which include the groom’s ring in addition to the bride’s engagement ring and wedding band (also known as triple sets). This way, you pick one style you like and get all three rings in that style. If you bought a bridal set without a wedding band for the groom, or just a wedding band for the bride, many jewelers can customize a matching wedding band for the groom at that point. Another option is to buy the engagement ring separately from a “band set” (or a dual band set): matching wedding rings from the bride and groom (but no engagement ring). In that case, you know the wedding rings will match, but if the bride plans on wearing her engagement ring together with her wedding ring, you need to make sure those two match and can be worn together, too.

What do you do with your engagement ring?
How did you and your love go about planning what rings to get?

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Every bride wants to look great on her wedding day. Each takes a different path but, for many, wedding planning is a great excuse to get into shape, perhaps lose a pound or two and feel just great walking down the aisle. help

Still need some motivation? Yes, you can use your spouse for support but maybe you both need help. Considered a FitBit? Getting a FitBit (or two) can help both of you stay motivated and even start some friendly competition. Not familiar with a FitBit? A FitBit is more than your average pedometer. Getting this little device will help you stay active, eat better, target a healthy weight and can even help you learn about your sleeping habits!

The reasons for getting a FitBit will differ between people, although for many the reason is to keep track steps taken per day – and to gradually increase that number. This may seem like a thing of the past or something that the little old lady who walks around your block every day would use. But you’re wrong. Knowing how many steps you’ve taken in one day can make working out and being active more tangible. The FitBit website will record and graph how many steps you take each day and propose a number to be considered “active”. When logged into your account you can set goals for how many steps you take and even show these stats on Facebook, hopefully getting some encouragement along the way. Show your wedding party – it’s not so easy to ease off then!

Getting a FitBit also has a social element. Joining forums and clubs really makes a difference with your experience. When you create your online account you can make a group or even join one of the many already available. For you and your spouse making your own group can be very romantic! Share stats and record calories and because you’re in love and are always together.

Before your wedding your goal is to be improving your appearance (sounds shallow but true for most). Most of us don’t get enough sleep. Sadly the FitBot won’t put you to sleep. But you will learn a lot. FitBit has some magic that tracks when you are asleep, merely by wearing it on your wrist in bed. After each night you will get a detailed report about how often you were awake and for how long. Over time you will see patterns and then be able to accommodate for this. This will be working toward the beautiful you, with the help of more sleep.

Of course, the difference between calories in and calories out is key! Tracking steps helps understand the calories you use. What about those you take in. This is where the partnerships the FitBit folks have with other web sites and services can help. Take one example – http://www.myfitnesspal.com/. This site allows you to carefully track your food and drink. It has some great features like figuring out the nutritional benefits of your food and – if you use one of their mobile apps – the ability to scan in food from a bar code. Neat! But the best part is that you can link our My Fitness Pal account with your FitBit account. That allows the FitBit site to show you “in vs. out” calories and, from that, set weight loss goals. If you are disciplined with the use of these web sites then there is a huge amount of information made available to you. And that, too, can help you get motivated.

My Fitness Pal is just one example – take a look at the “app gallery” to see plenty of other ways you can integrate with other services.

And finally, it all works so well when you actually SEE the results. And, for that, the Aria wireless scale is very cool! Just step on each day and this wonderful device will record your weight, body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) – and send it over your wireless network to, where else, the FitBit site. Now you have calories in (perhaps through My Fitness Pal), calories out (using the FitBit) and the results (through the Aria). There’s nothing quite like seeing a downward slope on that graph of your weight it there?

You can even use your FitBit on your wedding day! Maybe put it on right before you walk down the aisle so you will always know how many steps it took you to marry your partner! Then have the rest of the day to win points and get better stats. You will do a lot of walking! If the FitBit is a bit pricey for your budget there are many other devices that will work just fine. The main goal is to live a healthy, happy life.

Your wedding day is something you want to remember forever. Beyond the special memories you will keep, the photographs taken on the day represent a tangible and beautiful record of your special day. You will show these photos to friends and family – and maybe even your future children. Special memories. But how do you make sure they are also beautiful pictures?

Most people know someone who loves taking photos. Uncle John has a fancy camera, a pretty cool lens and lets everyone know he understands what Av means! And he’s just offered to take your photos. Still better, Uncle John will do it for free. All that money saved, compared to a professional photographer, and someone who knows the family already. What could go wrong?

Well, plenty.

There are a lot of reasons you should highly consider paying for a professional. Hiring a professional is one thing but hiring a professional with years of experience of actually taking picture at weddings is essential. First, check out their work. A professional wedding photographer should have a detailed portfolio for you to view. Not only does that illustrate their style but it will hopefully show how s/he just seems to be “in the right place at the right time” throughout the day. And does it without being a focal point or taking the attention away from anyone in the wedding party. That’s not an easy thing to do. The experience a professional brings to a wedding ensures that can predict those special moments even before they happen. That’s a sixth sense that pays huge dividends when that truly magical photo finds its way to your wedding album.

A professional knows about the technical aspects of taking a great picture. Maybe Uncle John does too. But the professional knows about blending in with the guests. You don’t want your friends looking back though their photos and thinking some random guy crashed the party! That experience pays off.

When you do start looking for a photographer you want to make sure they are approach things well. Look for the obvious signs. They should be easy to contact and very responsive. You shouldn’t feel weird or uncomfortable telling them exactly what you want. It’s your money, your wedding and you are the photographers client.

Those of you who are getting married in an unusual location need to be extra careful. Many wedding photographers have only experienced the very traditional church wedding. This may not sound important but take a beach wedding for example. Lighting on a beach is very different to a church. Weather is unpredictable and the cameraman needs to be prepared for that.

The professional will have a backup plan for any equipment failures. Does Uncle John? A professional will provide the photos in both digital and printed format, if you prefer. Does Uncle John? A professional will have a well planned “strategy” for the day, making sure you get the traditional formal pictures but also some wonderful informal moments. Does Uncle John?

Uncle John is great. He’s taken some great pictures of birds! And that picture of Mount Rainer was just amazing. So, let Uncle John help. In fact, let anyone with a camera take their shot. Ask them to give a wide berth to your professional wedding photographer so s/he can do their job. But let them snap away. Amongst the hundreds of pictures taken by guests, there could well be a lovely , well-framed, beautifully lit, well exposed picture. Enjoy it. And then add it to the much larger set of beautiful pictures your photographer took.

That’s what a professional wedding photographer does. And it’s worth every penny.

For more details, see here: http://www.wednet.com/wedding-photography

Planning your wedding is one of the most important and enjoyable things you will ever do. It’s also one of the most stressful. Most couples realize a few days after the engagement that stress has affected them already. This overwhelming feeling we all experience is only human and sometimes necessary in order to achieve success. Why do we have to stress over what will be the happiest days of our lives? Planning for a wedding – whether the date is in a few days, months or even years – should be a bonding experience with your spouse. This does not, in itself, mean stress. But stress happens! This very humanistic feeling is surprisingly avoidable. Here are some ways you can hopefully, well, calm down a little.

A common mistake woman make before the wedding is to only talk about our wedding! Your man loves you and he’s pretty sure he wants to marry you. But it’s doubtful he has strong opinions on the “little girly things” we’ve been waiting our whole lives to plan. For example, flowers! We love flowers. Men don’t, generally. Many men see flowers as a good way to apologize to you. Another example is the color of your bridesmaid dresses. He is excited – but again doesn’t care too much. Talk to your man about food. Yeah, that’s a good one. Maybe give him hints on what you’ll be wearing under your wedding dress. Spend time together, keep busy and remember that your relationship is more than just planning a wedding.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways. It can take it’s toll on more than just your mind. One or two days before your wedding you and your spouse should find a local hotel or spa and spend an hour in the sauna. After, you should have a cold shower. The heat from a sauna will open your pores, helping detoxify your skin. Not only does the heat create a beautiful complexion but the feeling you experience post-sauna will positively impact your mood. The important part of going to the sauna is actually what you do after. The cold shower is key. Cold water closes your pores and helps make your skin softer. Some things to remember before going into a sauna: drink lots of water, wear as little clothing as possible and don’t stay in there for too long!

If you have a lot of time to plan your wedding it is easy to put things off. Making sure everything is planned, booked and ready to go gives you less things to worry about. Reading your vows is an important part of the ceremony. You are talking to the person you will be with for the rest of your life. Get it right. Writing vows is not something you want to do the morning of your big day! Instead of sitting down in one day and writing your vows, maybe keep a little journal about how you feel about him. Write down the things you love. Not just the fact that he has great hair and a sense of style, but the little things that only you see. These can provide inspiration for your vows.

Planning a wedding can be a big venture. Don’t feel the need to tackle it on your own. Take all the help you can get. If you can hire a wedding coordinator great! If not, ask friends and family to help. Shortly after you have plans to get married sit down with your partner and write down everything you need to get planned and split the list in half or as evenly as possible. Let him take the things that he truly values or finds exciting. Once you have your list, write down dates by which you want everything to be planned. Writing plans down dramatically increase the chances of the task being completed.

Stress is always a part of planning a wedding. You can’t rid yourself of stress – at the right level it’s a positive driving force. Take small, considered steps to manage your stress and your wedding will be a day to remember. Regardless of stress.

If the traditional church wedding isn’t your thing, maybe taking a look at some other creative options could make your wedding one to remember. Here are some ideas that you’ve probably never considered.

1 – A Golf Course Even if neither of you have ever touched a golf club, weddings on the lush landscape of a golf course can be a great and beautiful option. Especially contrasting near the big city, a golf course can allow you to be closer to nature, without the drive to get there. Most courses have some sort of package deal that can include photography, the reception or even full catering. For inspiration, see Country Club Receptions.

2 – An Amusement Park Believe it or not, many theme parks actually have wedding options! They are all the better if your family enjoys rides because parks often include tickets. Usually, at smaller parks, the ceremony is before or after the park’s public hours. Larger parks can be more flexible as well as offer different locations around the park.

3 – A Zoo For the animal lover, why not a wedding at the zoo? Most zoo’s have some sort of event area and many have wedding packages. Typically, the animals will be involved! For example, exotic birds might take flight during the ceremony or colorful fish might swim at the center of each table. Always promising to be fun, a zoo wedding can also remind you of the natural bond being formed! Typically, a day pass the park is included for all guests.

4 – A Boat If you live near the water, a nice way to spend your wedding might be on the deck of a boat! There are plenty of companies that offer these sort of options, in most cities. Usually taking place at sunset, a floating ceremony can give your wedding a scene of intimacy not found on dry land. Additionally, if you want to add in the honeymoon, you can plan an entire wedding cruise! Prices vary, but compared to a separate ceremony and honeymoon it can actually save you money! Interested in some more info? Check out Cruise Bride.

Global wedding traditions

Who said you have to wear a white dress and walk down an aisle of a church? The world is full of many different wedding traditions and getting married can mean anything from saying “I do” with Elvis on the streets of Vegas to planning a huge wedding in a cathedral with 500 people. Here are some examples of how traditions can be so different across the world. Some are surprising, some are quaint and all are based on years of folklore and cultural influence.

Hate it when there is an elephant in the room? In parts of India it is preferred. Elephants can be used for transportation and, of course, decoration at the wedding. You can decorate your elephant with flowers, blankets, saddle, and a head piece to make the look more complete. In India they use the elephant to transport the groom to the wedding. Elephants are said to bring prosperity and good luck to the newlyweds.

Most brides picture the walk down the aisle towards their future husband. In Italy the bride and groom walk together. Along the way friends and family create obstacles the bride and groom will see to predict how they will treat each other in their marriage. For example, the bride might pick up a mop – therefore she will keep a clean house. If there is a child and they stop to help it is thought they will be good parents. Before the wedding the couple cut a log in half with a saw symbolizing their partnership and commitment to each other.

In Ireland the bride does not wear white. She wears blue. In ancient times this represented purity. Not until recently did the white wedding dress become relevant. If you are at all interested in an Irish inspired wedding this is a wonderful way to surprise your guests. In Spain, a bride will sometimes wear a black lace dress with a black veil. Her groom will wear a shirt she handmade him.

In Germany vows are very important. While the bride and groom are on their knees saying their vows the man will traditionally stand over the woman’s wedding dress to show who will wear the pants in the relationship (hey – we aren’t saying this is for everyone!). If the woman doesn’t agree she will stand on his feet when they arise. This would be a clever way to lighten the mood at the ceremony and add some German flavor!

Perhaps you have a direct link to some of these cultural traditions – or perhaps not. But maybe they spark some creativity in your mind that can add another aspect to your already unique wedding day.

So you’ve made it! Almost. It’s the day before you’re wedding, but you’re wondering “WHAT DO I EAT??” Well, don’t lose any hair over it (you’re going to need that tomorrow). There are plenty of things to eat that can keep both you and your belly happy for the big day. We’ve also listed some big no-no’s that you’ll need to avoid. Let’s get cooking!

Stay away from spicy foods! Plenty of us like our spice and it can taste great. But, depending on the food and your tolerance for it, that spicy delight can “stay with you” when you leave the restaurant. In so many ways. And then it might NOT stay with you. You get the picture. Some foods will also makes you sweat – not the best look for your wedding day.

Cruciferous vegetables are great for you in many ways but they can also contribute to excessive bloating if you’re not used to eating them. The veggies that you should avoid include arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts.

Obviously, alcohol is not recommended because it can make you feel puffy and dehydrated. If this is surprising to you, you probably have a bigger problem on your plate. Be wary of soda too. Anything carbonated can cause unnecessary amounts of gas in your belly. Not good. Coffee can also give you problems but – if you like your regular cup – be careful cutting it out completely because it can mess up your sleeping routine!

On the day, ask your Maid of Honor to have some soda crackers handy, in case you feel the need for a small – but “safe” – snack. In choosing anything you eat on the day, the objective is food which will stabilize your blood sugar and which won’t make you feel bloated. In the morning this might mean (mild) cheese and crackers or maybe a smoothie. In short, nice, simple and easy on the tummy.

And finally, some advice that spans more than your wedding day. Don’t forget the miracle called water. So many benefits - water is essential.

Did you know that your local Safeway has as large a range of creative and beautiful wedding cakes as anyone? With 78 (yes – 78!) types of cakes – round cakes, square cakes, cupcakes and more – and plenty of options to customize, many are surprised at the flexibility. And if you don’t have a Safeway store in your region, other Safeway brands (like Tom Thumb, Randalls and others nationwide) offer a similar range.

Check out our gallery of cakes and filter by cake type, number of servings – even find an estimated price for the number of guests at your own wedding, using the cake price calculator on each cake page.

You will find traditional cakes like Forget-Me-Not, modern styles like Sophisticated or stunning cupcakes like Neopolitan. Whatever your tastes (and, yes, you can choose your filling!), style or budget you will find something to inspire you with your wedding cake decision.

If you have a question, drop Safeway a line via our convenient online form and they will be back to you in no time.

When a recent snowstorm hit my house in New Jersey, I realized that it was finally time to catch up on all the shows on my DVR.  First up, My Fair Wedding from WE tv.  There were ten episodes just waiting for me to watch and as I settled down into the couch, I was transported into the mind of an incredibly talented wedding planner, David Tutera.

In case you haven’t seen this outstanding reality show, it’s basically brides looking for assistance three weeks before their nuptials.  David shows up, gets to change whatever he wants–even the wedding dress, and the bride finds out where her wedding is and all the details ON the day of her wedding.  She might have handcrafted every single detail of the reception decorations, but David blasts through those often tawdry items and replaces them with something elegant, glamorous, and visually stunning. On one episode, the bride begged not to replace the wedding dress because her mother had bought it for her; too bad, David found a runway-worthy gown and replaced the original frock. The show is a must for every engaged couple as David compares what the average person considers for decorations and then how to revise those plans into something glamorous.

The main lesson I’ve learned from this show is invest your  money into real flowers.  I’m not kidding.  That’s the main difference I’ve seen.  Less is more, so kitschy “theme” touches should just go. But it’s real florals in bouquets, centerpieces, and decorations that make a monumental difference in the elegance of a reception. If you have to skip the chair covers or the matching napkin rings, save your cash for where it makes the biggest punch: flowers. Looking back on weddings I’ve attended, I have to agree. Fake silk flowers wrapped around an arbor do not photograph nearly as well as the dewy texture of real flower petals. Same goes for the photos of you holding your bouquet. And of course as the guests are seated at the reception, staring at a centerpiece of soft, lustrous flowers instead of plastic-stemmed artificial ones add to the ambiance.

All of the other details that David changes on the show–the reception hall, the lighting, the dresses–both bridal and bridesmaid, and the cake–don’t make the impact that is so noticeable as the floral arrangements. They are glorious, sophisticated, and chic, but when the rubber meets the road, it’s the change from faux flora to genuine that seems to be the biggest bang for your buck.

Watch the show if you get a chance; it’s great inspiration and learning to revise your original vision pays out tenfold!

A former student of mine called me out of the blue; he wanted to meet me for a cup of coffee and a healthy dose of advice regarding his upcoming nuptials. This happened when I lived in Boston, Massachusetts, in the little neighborhood of Brookline.  Right down the street from the Coolidge Corner T stop, I met Mark for a cup of Peet’s Coffee eager to hear what brought him into my New England town.

As the warm aromas of roasted coffee beans drifted around us, my student told me the history of his fiancée and her family. Four years ago, while he was checking out grad schools, Mark* met Shelly-Anne* in line to talk to an admissions representative. They immediately hit it off, agreeing to meet for lunch and explore the rest of campus together. While neither ended up going to that particular university, they stayed in touch and eventually fell in love. Mark’s family is the stereotypical nuclear family of the 1950′s, and it came as some surprise when Mark eventually learned more about Shelly-Anne’s family.  Her father and one of her brother’s were currently serving time in prison: Dad for repeated drug offenses/DUIs and the brother for fraud. As Mark grew to know that he wanted Shelly-Anne to be his wife, he struggled with how to reconcile the two very different families. Even knowing that there would be issues, that Christmas, he proposed and she happily accepted. Now, he wondered, how does he bridge the two families together to make the wedding a success?

My first question was if the incarcerated family members would be attending the ceremony and reception. Mark said that yes, if all went well, they would wait to hold the wedding until their release dates which should happen within the next two years. His concerns weren’t just about figuring out ways to combine two families from incredibly different backgrounds and circumstances, but about more practical matters including whether he could trust his new in-laws to be around money and gifts, how they would handle alcohol at the reception, and if he should tell his family and friends or not.

My advice was simple: talk to his bride. Without discussing all of these points with her, he would only be guessing and possibly escalating in his mind potential problems.  Once they have the initial conversation, I suggested that the Mothers from both sides join them for a private, intimate chat about how best to handle the details. I let Mark know that his fear about offending his bride with his very practical concerns would be overshadowed by the inability to enjoy the marriage planning and wedding itself.

Brides and grooms may have concerns about any number of aspects of their upcoming weddings. Save yourselves heaps of disappointment and be honest, open, and understanding of each other’s stressors. This celebration is a party that unites two families as well as two individuals; nothing can spoil it if you work together to overcome any obstacles!

*Names changed to prevent, you know, awkwardness.

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