Category Archives for "Wedding Planning"

Tricks for Everlasting Wedding Photos

By Emma | Wedding Planning

Beautiful wedding pictures… We all want them! The memories in our souls and the photos in the album are the only timeless pieces remembering us of the incredible moment in our lives.

The wedding day is nevertheless one of the most important days in all our existences and, as a matter of fact, we should make it memorable by all means.

 

So, what should you do to have extraordinary pictures from your wedding day? Dear brides, here are 10 secrets to having brilliant photos:

 

  1. Stop thinking of a friend or relative with an excellent camera and hire a professional photographer. There is no room for compromise here. The professional photograph possesses not only skills and training but also the technology. More than that, like any artist, the photographer will deliver not only photos but concepts, ideas and a full experience. Ask him/her for the complete services package.
  2. Develop some chemistry with the photographer. It’s crucial for you and the groom to have that kind of emotional link with this person so you can feel relaxed in front of the camera.
  3. Tell the photographer what your expectations are. Make him/her a part of your plans. Communicate effectively. It’s critical to keep him informed, to show him the venue, the clothes, the invitation, everything that can help him/her shaping an awesome experience. Make a list for him so that he won’t miss anything. However, keep the list relatively short so time won’t become your enemy.
  4. Anticipate and plan for the worse: maybe it will rain, maybe someone will be late, maybe something will happen to a bridesmaid’s dress. Take the necessary time and don’t do anything in a rush. Pressure and stress can make you look sad and worried.
  5. Sleep enough during the nights before the wedding, drink water and eat fruits to stay hydrated so that your complexion will naturally glow.
  6. Hire a professional hairdresser and a make-up artist. Ask them and the photographer to have a trial session so that you can better understand what will look best for you as a future model in your photos.
  7. Laugh if this comes naturally to you, if it doesn’t, don’t force it and just keep a simple smile. Some say you should smile showing the teeth, others say the opposite. We believe the photographer will know what is best for you. In any case, remember to smile with your eyes too.
  8. Keep the bouquet in front of you and to the side, so you won’t look like you are hiding behind it.
  9. Kiss the groom, stay close to him, show the world you are a couple now.
  10. Remember: the best photos are either in the morning or before sunset. So plan the shooting schedule accordingly.

 

Of course, today there are hundreds of photographers and studios and it can be quite a challenge to choose the right one. As a matter of fact, there is no “right one”, but rather the one that suits your style. We believe that 6-8 months before the big day you should start visiting some dedicated websites and blogs, and talk to newlyweds about their experience in this aspect. This should give you a proper dimension of your future effort.

 

Now it’s time to find out what is the minimum package any professional photographer must be ready to offer.

Remember: most of the photographers will deliver 50-100 photos/hour, so the number of pictures depends on the time.

 

– Photos at the church during the ceremony and at the reception.

Don’t forget to ask for photos with your family, friends, and bridesmaids and ask the photographer to present a list of details he wants to shoot (such as your shoes, the bouquet, the groom’s boutonniere, the rings etc).

 

– Outdoor photos: most of the brides prefer parks, botanical gardens, the church garden, if any, or beaches.

Prepare to get your dress a little dirty but that shouldn’t be a problem as the photographer will take care of it when editing the photos.

 

–   Photo-journalistic shots are also something to request. These are the artistic photos, those pieces showing the real talent of the photographer.

Ask for these pictures to be taken before the ceremonies (civil or religious), at the reception and the days after the wedding, if you plan to have such a photo session.

 

–  Digital photos and slideshows.

It’s important to have your digital photos on a CD if you want to have some copies over the years. More than that, it’s entirely possible that some friends or family members will ask for some pictures for themselves.

 

–   Albums

Ask him to show some samples and consider having one for you, and two for the parents. Short versions of the album should be offered to the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

 

We believe the best way to have a great photo experience is to research and interview at least three photographers. Remember you will spend a lot of time with this person before and during the event. In many situations, as stated before, there can be an after party session, too. So, it’s crucial to have a friendly professional next to you.

Wedding rings

All about wedding ring insurance

By Emma | Wedding Planning

The many commitments of engagement and wedding rings

Buying your engagement and wedding rings can be a pretty scary business. One reason is that they both represent a serious commitment, for taking your relationship to the next level: the life of the married. Another other reason is that they are usually quite expensive pieces of jewelry that you will be wearing forever.

The story of the engagement ring goes way back to the Roman Empire. The Romans would offer their fiancée an engagement ring with a little key. As romantic as it might be to think that the key would be used to open the heart of the loved one, it was actually used to open the chests storing valuables in the house.

Factors affecting the cost of the engagement and wedding rings

Just like with any other type of jewelry, the price of the engagement ring varies considerably depending on the materials used, the design, the value of the stone or stones and the manufacturer of the ring. The prices of the stones themselves are related to their type, cut and quality. Diamonds, for example, have a standard description that evaluates them depending on their weight in karats, color, clarity, and cut. Here you will find all the information you need about buying a diamond.

Other wedding stones

Other precious stones as sapphires, emeralds and rubies have different evaluation systems. People choose one stone or the other for the engagement ring depending on their personal taste and moral beliefs and there is no real must-have list, although many still prefer diamonds as they are the traditional choice for the engagement ring. A popular substitute for the diamond is cubic zirconia, a very common choice nowadays, especially due to the lower price.

De Beers and smart marketing of wedding ring costs

There are men who will save for yours to raise enough money for a beautiful engagement ring. We still have this idea in our heads that the man should spend a considerable amount of money on the engagement ring. But this idea didn’t come out of nothing.

Apparently it all started in 1930 and it is the doing of a marketing firm called De Beers. Their purpose was to increase the sale of diamonds. They created a marketing campaign suggesting that a man should spend a month’s income on the engagement ring. Later, they suggested that two months income should be spent on the ring.

For 2014, studies show that the average cost of the engagement ring is $5,855.

With the average cost of the engagement ring so high, it is obvious that the price of the wedding rings couldn’t be less. Finding the wedding ring is a happy, memorable moment in a couple’s life. Nobody wants to consider  the things that would ruin the happiness you feel during this period in your life. But the truth is that anything can happen, and it is better you are prepared for whatever might come your way.

A recommendation for wedding ring insurance

This is why experts recommend that you should consider wedding ring insurance, as well as  engagement ring insurance. Discuss with your partners even in the middle of your crazy wedding preparations. That discussion may serve you well in the future.

The love and commitment represented by wedding rings are just as important – in fact, even more important – than their material value. However, it doesn’t matter how much you have paid for them – insurance is a way to protect their real value for you as a couple.

When it comes to wedding insurance, there are a few options for you to consider.

  1. If you have a home insurance policy, it may cover the loss of the wedding rings up to a certain figure, depending on the limit you have for personal items. To fully cover the value of the expensive items like jewelry, you can pay for an extension of the insurance policy such that specific, named objects are covered. You can ask your insurance company if offer wedding insurance policies.
  2. Another option is to request a jewelry insurance quote from a company offering such insurance. These type of companies offer different flavors of insurance and usually with better coverage than regular insurance companies. For example, these kinds of policies might allow you to recreate a lost item of jewelry or repair a broken one. The engagement and wedding rings might be some of the most valuable purchases in your lifetime. Insurance brokers advise us to respect those acquisitions by purchasing insurance policies accordingly.

If you have already decided on an insurance company, check out here if your jewelry insurance is up to the gold standard. For more details about a company that only offers jewelry insurance, check here. One essential question to ask your insurance broker is whether their  insurance cover a stolen ring?

How to obtain wedding ring insurance

All wedding rings are precious and should be covered by insurance policies. So how does one go about obtaining wedding ring insurance?

  • See a jewelry expert to obtain documentation about the value of the rings and their stones, to get an insurance policy with suitable coverage. Sometimes the receipt from the shop where you purchased the wedding rings will be enough, though it is better to check with the insurance company about their specific needs and requirements.
  • Keep in mind that you will need to purchase engagement and wedding ring insurance as soon as possible. You do not know when you might need to use that insurance.
  • The cost of the insurance will vary depending on the insurance company and the item to be covered by the insurance policy.
  • Insurance for your engagement ring and wedding rings will allow you to wear them with pride and trust, enjoying their beauty – without having to worry about them getting lost, broken or stolen.

Making a engagement or wedding ring insurance claim

The loss of engagement or wedding rings can be painful on so many levels, and we certainly hope it won’t happened to you. But in case it does happen, and you have them covered by insurance, here are the procedures you will need to go through to claim the insurance for the lost ring. While the insurance company can’t replace the sentimental value, it can make sure your ring is replaced with a similar one.

While each insurance company has its own procedures, most of the time the steps to take are similar.

  1. File a written report. Some companies will also allow you to report the loss of the wedding ring by phone, but experts recommend presenting something in writing too, making sure you keep a copy for yourself.
  2. Include the following in your report:
    • Your full name and full mailing address
    • Phone number
    • Insurance policy number
    • The address of the property to which the policy applies (in case you have your jewelry covered by house insurance)
    • The date of loss
    • Information about the circumstances in which it occurred
    • Where you were and what you were doing at that time (the insurance company will want to know you tried your best to recover the ring, and it just couldn’t be recovered).
  3. The insurance company will receive your report and process your application. Once it is approved, they will provide a claim sheet to the jeweler that you will work with to replace your ring.
  4. When the jeweler receives all the necessary documentation, you will collaborate to find a ring you like.
  5. Most insurance companies will offer you the option of having your ring replaced or getting a check for the replacement value.

It is crucial you give notice to the insurance company as soon as you discover the loss. This is not something to postpone until you have more free time on your hands. Procrastination is never a good idea when claiming insurance money as the process will take enough time as it is, without you being late with your report.

If you have your jewelry covered by the house insurance policy, read the documents carefully as the insurance usually doesn’t cover the loss of the wedding rings if it occurs outside the limits of the property insured. The value of the wedding rings will be compensated if the loss happens due to fire or house breaking; these are the most common cases.

We are looking forward to hearing how much you paid to get your wedding rings insured on our Facebook page. Also you can show us your beautiful wedding rings on our Pinterest page.

Weddings under $5000

Weddings under $5000: a wedding plan for everyone

By Emma | Wedding Planning

How to plan a wedding on a small budget

We grew up with Walt Disney’s fairy tale weddings so it’s only natural to dream big about our own wedding. But nobody had to worry about a tight wedding budget in the fairy tales. In the real world, many of us are confronted with the desire for a glamorous wedding, on a budget.

Can there be such a thing? A stylish, perfect wedding on a budget of, say, $5000? In short, yes – weddings under $5000 are totally doable, even if planned in a hurry.

Let’s face it – $5000 isn’t a small amount of cash! But when it comes to weddings, there’s a common belief that there’s no better justification to splash out. We agree that it is a very special day, but we also think you should come out the other side with some financial stability!


Why weddings under $5000 are the next big thing

If you target a wedding budget of $5000 or so you are not alone. There are many reasons why keeping a rein on the overall budget to that extent makes sense.

  • Your fiancé just proposed during your summer holidays, you’re short on money but you want to get married as soon as possible.
  • You have kids and want to be careful with the your financial resources while still wanting a beautiful wedding.
  • You want the big event to be focused on the two of you and your love and less on pleasing all the relatives that you haven’t seen in years.
  • You are in love with authentic, traditional weddings – and are not interested in showing off.

Having your dream wedding on a budget shouldn’t be an issue at all, if you don’t expect to caviar and Moet champagne for the event. Planning a wedding under $5000 can be a difficult task, so to make your journey more enjoyable we have prepared a list with what you need to do, step-by-step.

Focus on quality over quantity

When planning your wedding consider money as a critical element and keep in mind these three aspects:

  • The number of attendees: Generally speaking, weddings under $5000 can have up to 60 persons, but it’s safer to keep the list somewhere between 30 and 50.  The great thing about having a small number of attendants is that you have the freedom to choose from a larger variety of wedding venues: bars, restaurants, discos – even the backyard of your home.
  • A DIY approach: Creativity and imagination are your best tools. Don’t worry – when in need, you will discover you are able to do things you never thought possible even on a tight budget. I was very doubtful regarding my drawing skills until I was forced to paint some wedding invitations for my sister. After 50 wedding invitations, the results were absolutely astonishing.
  • Designing flowers arrangement, decorations and tableware yourself or with a friend. All you need is a little bit of patience and some creative moments. I found some inspiration here: http://www.woohome.com/diy-2/30-budget-friendly-fun-and-quirky-diy-wedding-ideas and here: http://www.weddingbells.ca/planning/diy-wedding-ideas-creative-inspiration-for-every-aspect-of-your-big-day/
  • Help from friends and family:  Of course, you will do this anyway but, from my experience, the bride has far more many tasks to do. When the majority of tasks fall to just one person’s shoulders it can take longer or more expensive. We are trying to avoid that. Gleefully accept the help of others.

Find a great checklist

As you progress through your wedding planning, you really don’t want any surprises, especially of a financial nature. An extended wedding checklist will help, such as here: http://www.realsimple.com/weddings/weddings-planning/wedding-planning-checklist. The one I prefer is here https://www.theknot.com/wedding-checklist/start

Discuss what is really important to the two of you

Make a list with all the things you want for the wedding and decide upon the three most expensive. In many cases, the most expensive wedding items are:

  1. The wedding dress and other attire
  2. The venue
  3. The catering and entertainment
  4. The photographer
  5. The rest…

Finding these important items on a budget can be challenging. Many of my friends – when asked why they don’t step into marriage – insist it is due to money concerns associated with the wedding. I explain each and every time the benefits of having an authentic yet simple event instead of a big wedding day, such as:

  • It’s far more simple to plan a smaller event
  • It’s more pleasant, warm and relaxed to have close friends and family with you than all kind of acquaintances you might not see meet again
  • It can be a great experience to contribute your talent and creativity to your own wedding, by creating the flower bouquets or bake some cookies, for example
  • It’s much wiser to keep to a well-defined budget and not borrowing money from the bank just to show off; don’t pay a credit card for years just to have a special one day event, no matter how important that day

Let’s turn to our big ticket items.

1. The wedding dress and other attire

The wedding dress can be by far the most expensive single item on the big day. If you want to spend $3000 one that stunning designer dress a wedding under $5000 is probably not going to happen!.

If you, however, you prefer a wedding dress for it’s simplicity and authenticity and for soft and light fabrics, with some nice jewelry to complement the dress, – well we are back on track! Read on…

You have two options for the getting the dress of your dreams:

Renting a wedding dress

This may cost $300 or more but you can find a beautiful dress (and still have a financial future!).

You can check out https://www.renttherunway.com/all/occasions/bride. This site also offers the possibility to rent jewelry.

Buying a wedding dress from a large store

Mass market shops like Macy’s can help here and often have an extensive range, across a wide range of prices.

A good friend of mine bought her dress at Macy’s for only $200. It was simple, very pretty and beautifully elegant.

Accessories

The veil can also be a problem, unless you prefer to wear a beautiful flower in your hair. If you do prefer a veil, you can find some interesting ideas here http://www.tbdress.com/Cheap-Wedding-Veils-4323/ which may cost you less than $30.

The shoes could be difficult to be found as you need them to be both trendy and comfortable. I found some nice options here http://www.bridalshoes.com/discount/

Your future husband can rent his suit for under $250.

2.The venue

Depending on the season, the venue will require a good deal of research. While the backyard is often a good idea for those on a budget, the colder months can make an outdoor event difficult.

Our first suggestion is to ask your friends and relatives if they have some ideas. Who knows – perhaps someone might know someone who owes them a favor. Maybe this can lead to a large dining room to host the wedding or another type of venue that wouldn’t have crossed your mind if you hand not mentioned it.

For flower centerpieces on a budget, you can always choose to do them yourself or with the help of friends or family, buying bulk flowers, ribbons and rent some vases. The operation is estimated at $350, including the flowers for the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids’ bouquets, but it all depends on you. Depending on what flowers you’d like, the prices vary.

3. The catering and entertainment

Well, dear brides-to-be, good food and drink are part of the success for a wedding. The success of any reception event involves entertainment (listening to good music and dancing) and enjoying delicious food and good drinks. For many guests. That adds up quickly.

But let’s not forget we are talking about weddings under $5000!

For an afternoon wedding there might be no less reason consider sophisticated foods or drinks. The menu can be a delicious buffet, with your mother as the master chef, bringing the family’s recipes and preparing what we like. Prosecco is a good choice for drinks – similar to champagne but more tasty to many and less expensive) Think of the many advantages: you don’t have to pay for a big meal that people may not necessarily enjoy – and potentially deal with lots of left overs.

4. The photographer

Wedding photography can be one of the most expensive elements of a wedding. For many people the first reaction is that this is unreasonable and a “rip off”. After all, anyone can use a camera, right?

Big mistake!

Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime memory. Capturing these special moments ISN’T as simple as taking a few snaps and getting great shots. To the contrary, a skilled photographer can make the difference between a magical, captivating record you will want to review regularly and decorating your mantelpiece, compared to a book of “snapshots” that sits in a dusty cupboard.

So, how do you find a great photographer and keep your expenses reasonable? Consider these options:

  • Most photographers offer a number of photography packages, which can provide a healthy discount from their regular price.
  • Limit the hours of coverage. Many brides have the photographer in attendance for the full duration of the day, which can add up to 11 hours or more. This really isn’t necessary. Consider hiring your photographer for an hour or two before your ceremony till a couple of hours after, to ensure the main elements of your special day are captured.
  • Allow family and guests to pick their own photos online. Traditionally, the bride and groom have often purchased photos for at least the close family. Is this really necessary? Most guests will be comfortable browsing to select and order the photo’s they prefer.

Other opportunities to save

Invitations

Stop worrying about your invitations and try http://www.evite.com/. It’s a great way to save money on what can be a pretty significant expense. The website helps you design your invitation online and then send it to your guests. Simple, stylish and good value.

If you would prefer the elegance of traditional, paper-based invitations, there are now some wonderful online companies who provide a huge range of options and will then send beautifully designed products. We recommend Wedding Paper Divas, who regularly offer great discounts on their extensive range.

Rehearsal Dinner

Consider the rehearsal dinner very optional when you have a budget of $5000. There are clearly benefits in getting together beforehand and making sure your wedding party is aware of responsibilities and timing. But there are various ways to approach this and there’s little real need to spend good money on this.

Budget breakdown

For about 40 guests, the budget breakdown might be similar to the one below:

  • Rentals: $1000 (dress, shoes, suite, tables, chairs, coffee cups + saucers, champagne glasses, plates, forks, delivery charge and tax)
  • Food: $200 (ingredients for the home made sweets and cake)
  • Photographer: $500
  • Drink: $250
  • Flowers: $350
  • Invitations: $200
  • Night out in the club: $1000
  • Contingency: $500

You will notice that we left about $1000 aside for emergencies. The estimated time to get everything done is around 2 months if you are in a hurry, but it can be longer if you need to take your time to find the things that work for you.

Inspiration for the $5000 Wedding

Having a plan in place is essential – but inspiration is important too. Budget Savvy Bride has an awesome page, featuring real-world weddings planned with a budget of $5000. For example:

  • John and Sarah enjoyed a beautiful rustic woodlands wedding and kept costs under control by asking for help from friends and family and making sensible financial decisions such as using artificial flowers (they were, after all, surrounded by nature).
  • Jaimie and Justin planned a gorgeous backyard wedding, reducing costs through such ideas as borrowing tables and chairs from a local church.

 

Beautiful flowers on wedding table decoration arrangement

Tips for Homemade Wedding Bouquets and Centerpieces

By Emma | Wedding Planning

Looking for ways to cut down on your wedding budget? Did you know you could totally do wedding flowers on your own, particularly those meant to be centerpieces and bouquets  – without being the source of mirth?

On the contrary, beside the cost-effectiveness of the project, you’d enjoy adding this personal little touch. And did I mention they’re easy? Yes, table centerpieces for wedding receptions can easily be made at home whether you choose to do it yourself or with the help of friends.

We should add that there’s a thriving industry in wedding centerpiece rentals. Consider that as one way to reduce costs…but don’t forget the sense of achievement from making your own.

Want to choose flowers according to the season but worried about making a mistake? Worried that they might not last long enough and end up costing you more money than you hoped to save? We’ll be discussing tips to make amazing wedding flowers, both personal and professional tricks for neat flower arrangement that you get to learn for life! So for a modern and fulfilling wedding flower experience, here’s what we suggest.

#1: Know the Best Picks for Wedding Flower Options

I guess it’s occasions like weddings that make us learn more about these intricate floral delicacies. For example, have you ever wondered why Ranunculus, Lillium Casablanca, Stephanotis, Dahlias, and Tulips were reserved for January? Or varieties like Iris, Larkspur, Kangaroo Paw, Sunflowers, and Magnolia would look great in February?

Now you may already have a favorite flower to incorporate or you may be looking for one with special symbolism. Peony, for example, stands for a happy marriage, prosperity, and good health. Orchids signify refinement and beauty. You may want to consider classic choices like Calla Lilies or you can simply be seeking value for money with the Hydrangea.

Ask a florist for some local context and quotes. If your favorite flower isn’t in season during the wedding month, then you’ll either be importing (and paying a premium for it) if you’re not flexible, or you’ll have to choose another instead.

Hint: Roses are always in season.

#2: Keep it Simple

Most people assume they can arrange their flowers in a perfect combination. One word for you: don’t.

Quite simply, it’s probably not something to which you are accustomed on a daily basis Sometimes, simple really is better. And we’re not just referring to how complex arrangements overwhelm you, your fiancé, and/or your helpers.

Avoid complex arrangements but plan in advance so the décor is according to your circumstances, situation and preferences. Label the jars with the number of stems and type of flowers to save time and stress on the big day. Planning ahead and enlisting help of guests, including bridesmaids, their partners, your cousins and aunts mean you finalize both the wedding centerpieces and wedding bouquet in plenty of time.

#3: Keep Your Wedding Flowers Fresh

Where some people are afraid to touch a flower bud for fear of causing damage, others also worry how to avoid having a sickly DIY arrangement prior to the wedding. The latter would find the following pretty useful.

  • Storing them in a cool basement or refrigerator because they keep at their best in the cold
  • Cutting around an inch off the bottom of the stems so they can soak up water
  • Adding a bit of sugar, aspirin, or clear soda such as Sprite averts browning
  • Cutting leaves that will otherwise be submerged under water prevents the water getting murky

#4: Avoid Common Mistakes

You may have been inspired by someone who did their own wedding bouquet, rather than buying it from a store. You can learn so much on what not to do when attempting these projects!

For one, if you’re hosting at location with a scenic surrounding or a venue with breathtaking views, be careful about tall and large wedding centerpieces, which may bring focus more on the individual table setting than the beautiful reception location. Select lower and loose-style arrangements and ones featuring lush greens to stretch their size.

Second, there are people who waste money on flowers simply because they refuse to reuse the ones at the ceremony for their reception. Consider that – your aisle flowers can easily be turned to wedding centerpieces and the ones by the altar arranged around the buffet. This, of course, assumes you have help and time moving them and may not work for everyone.

Third, don’t rule out ‘expensive’ flowers. Sometimes a single bloom can have a greater impact than a bouquet of their affordable siblings. Think one Cattleya Orchid compared to a bunch of roses; you can use them sparingly.

Fourth, with respect to the colors and scents, don’t go with a strictly monochromatic scheme (e.g. matching the flowers with the color the bridesmaid dress) and avoid strongly scented items.

When it comes to bouquets and centerpieces, be careful not to choose oversized bouquets (it’ll hide your dress). Choose the right table linens to complete and make your flowers flourish. But don’t forget to give it a personal touch; an antique pine, a swath of lace, light feathers anything would do.

YouTube guides (e.g. by Bride De Force) and Pinterest are good resources to check out for ideas.

These tips aside, remember that flowers, and homemade wedding bouquets in particular, express your personal style. There’s no rule to follow. Do it your way.

July 4th weddiing

Getting Married on July 4th

By Emma | Wedding Planning

Between the long list of factors you’ve to consider before setting the date and how the date can be a big influence on all the other aspects of the day, it’d be no wonder if you’re looking up a holiday as a day to host your wedding. For those who waited for a perfect celebration in the middle of the year, consider getting married on July 4th.

However, be warned – it’s either always okay or never okay to host holiday weddings. There’s no middle ground.

A Historical Union

There have been quite a few famous weddings on this day, including those of star soccer player David Beckham, Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts, and actor/comedian Bill Murray. Also known as Independence Day, the day has become synonymous with fireworks and sparklers.

Whether holding it in private backyards or putting up larger, more glorious spectacles and explosions for everyone to celebrate their freedom, the tradition has been followed since the American Revolution back in the 18th century.

Being declared a federal holiday since 1941 in the US, the July 4th honors the birth of the country, honoring also the people who made that freedom possible. While the former 13 colonies fought against Great Britain, representatives from each of the 13 colonies signed the document declaring independence in June 1776. On July 2nd, it received the vote from the Continental Congress and on July 4th the Declaration was adopted.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are at the core of this free society. A wedding on the July 4th will be an exclusive affair, especially for a couple who believe in history and want their union to have a patriotic theme, to give a deeper significance to the white, red, and blue color palette and the singing of the national anthem.

Should You Plan to Get Married on July 4th?

Your wedding is about you and your significant other and while you are mulling over whether you want it to be associated (always) with the July 4th, there are advantages and disadvantages with regards to holding a wedding on this holiday.

The Pros

A holiday wedding seems like an awesome idea to you. There is a reasonable chance your immediate family will all be together at this point, having already travelled and gathered. So it’ll be a fun occasion to look forward to with your loved ones, particularly with those who’d have a hard time taking time off from work and travelling to the out-of-town wedding place.

In fact, your guests may appreciate it, noting that there’ll be an extra day for them to recover or make way for more merriment, thereby making your wedding perfect for family and friends.

Plan for meals and/or activities such as spa day, a holiday brunch, a movie night, a beach bonfire – anything that is not related to weddings so your guests have plenty of time to catch up and connect before or after the wedding celebration. It’s fun when you’re with ones you like and don’t get to meet often; this way, you’ll get to actually speak to every guest at your leisure, unlike what happens in a 4 hour reception.

From a financial perspective, you’d want to ask if a holiday weddings is less expensive, for example if your wedding venue has already been decorated lavishly, besides giving you great access to free and permitted splendid fireworks. A lot of venues give a discount if you choose a low-traffic day. Go with the theme and colors that have been set up and you’d have fewer things to worry about.

Add it to it that the weather’s generally warm in July, the days are longer, there are abundant choices of flowers available for you to select from and you’ve the ideal excuse to use sparklers. Sounds promising, right?

The Cons

If you’re a holiday wedding fan you are perhaps not bothered by these and would end up having a fabulous wedding! But, just in case, consider these potential problems.

It’s a theoretical assumption that all the people you’ve invited to your wedding will actually be able to make it. Many might already have made plans of their own, noting that you haven’t informed them in time. They might choose to spend the weekend at some other event, particularly if it means they can avoid the traffic than plan around it. Have empathy here because some do have long-standing family July 4th traditions they can’t miss.

It’s not just guests to whom you need to send out notices early, but the venues and vendors involved as well. July is a very busy month, from catering to people on vacations or hosting community fairs. Some of them even close down for wedding events over the holiday.

Also, where you were hoping to save a couple bucks on “cheaper” venue, food and festivities at your reception, you might have missed that your guests could pay costly airfare/car rentals in addition to hotel accommodations. If they can’t afford to attend it without flexing their budget, you’d have guests that aren’t as excited as had hoped.

Other disadvantages to hosting a wedding in July include fighting off bees and mosquitoes, especially if it’s an outdoor location near water. It’ll be hot outside and an inconvenience to attendees wearing heels. Last but not the least, the day is known for excessive drinking, so given it’s acceptable among your friends and family, you’d want to think of the mounting bar charges too!

There are some advantages and disadvantages to getting married on the July 4th . There are many factors to deciding the day for your wedding so this can never be a complete list but will hopefully serve to give you an idea of what the date can be like for a wedding.

Getting started with planning a wedding

By Emma | Wedding Planning

There’s an old recipe…

…for rabbit stew which starts with the helpful instruction: “First, catch the rabbit.”

If you are reading this, we’re going to assume that you’ve already taken the first vital step in planning a wedding, namely getting engaged to someone charming, delightful and good for the long haul. You have caught the love of your life.

That’s a very good start.

With that accomplished, you could conceivably finish off the project by going down to the local government service center, getting a license and getting married, all in less than two weeks’ time. Anything additional you do is gravy and that’s an important thing to remember when people are telling you that you “have to” have a ring bearer, an ice sculpture, or a pale blue garter. But let’s face it – most of us want the gravy.

But this meal is a big meal… OK, let’s drop the cooking metaphor. In short, planning a wedding is a big deal, not simply because it’s a beautiful, magical, never-to-be-forgotten event but also because it is a lot of planning, expense, work, focus, stress and potentially hassle. But all these things can be minimized. But where to start?

Getting started with planning a wedding really isn’t all that difficult. The devil is in the details but, for now, relax and let us walk you through the the planning steps to lead you down the path to your beautiful day.

First Steps

Step 1: Brainstorm with Fiancé

The two most important people on your wedding day are the bride and groom. But this should be balanced by also thinking about the celebration that will please the hosts (if either set of parents is inclined to whip out a charge card and offer to pay) and your the guests. So planning starts by talking about what it might be practical, appropriate, and fun to do.

Sit down with your fiancé and your favorite tipple (not too much!) in surroundings and consider the following:

  • What do the families expect from a wedding? Will there be major problems if you want to do something different?
  • Do either of you have religious beliefs that affect your hopes for a wedding? Do you know what your faith requires? Are you planning an interfaith wedding and, if so, what are the implications?
  • What kind of budget limitations do you expect to have? If the budget is really, really tight, what elements would be most important to each of you?
  • When would you like to have the wedding? Are there reasons to hurry or to wait?
  • What were your favorite elements of other couples’ weddings? What have you sworn that you’d never, ever do yourself?
  • What surprise might your consider to make your day magical and special for everyone attending the wedding?
  • How much time and effort is each of you willing to put into the project?

It can be very helpful to start this talk with one of the pocket-sized wedding planner books that wedding magazines and some bridal shops give away for free. These little books provide a list of every element that might possibly go into a formal wedding. Cross out the items that you don’t want to include, and make notes about the items where you agree on what you want, or where more research is needed.

Step 2: Reality Check with Outside World

Once the two of you have an idea of what it might be feasible, gather more information to make sure that your plan will really work. Don’t be surprised if you end up making a lot of changes at this stage! The work you need to do includes:

  • Talk with parents. While it is not considered quite right to ask parents directly for financial help, it’s acceptable and practical to ask what sort of participation they want to have. And, while you shouldn’t sell honors like escorting the bride, you can certainly negotiate what kind of help is most useful once an offer to help is made.
  • Check into the legal and religious aspects. Make sure you know what is required to get a license and have a legal ceremony. If you want a religious ceremony, talk with a minister now. Some churches book 18 months in advance; others are happy with three or four months’ notice.
  • Do some preliminary shopping. Put your major effort into looking at the cost and availability of reception sites, as these vendors book the furthest in advance of all wedding vendors, and your decision here has the greatest impact on the style of your celebration. But also start collecting information on local florists, photographers, caterers, and any other vendors you may need.

Again, don’t be surprised if you come across some real shocks and find yourself rethinking the details of your wedding. If you’ve never planned a big formal event before, you have a lot of learning to do. Better to learn before you write large checks!

Step 3: Start the Wheels Turning

Once you have a workable plan, it’s time to get real. Depending on how formal your wedding will be and how great the competition for vendors in your area is, you may be looking at 18 months until your wedding day, or you may have just a few weeks to go. But you’ll have that part straightened out from your research in Step 2.

Now you need to reserve ceremony and reception sites, making sure that the end time of the ceremony and the start time of the reception make sense together. Do this first of all your reservations!

Get Moving

Reserve vendors

Photographers, videographers, caterers and popular wedding musicians tend to book early, as do florists who handle really elaborate work. Start shopping as early as possible; you can always delay decisions with vendors who don’t need much lead time.

Choose a wedding dress

The traditional order-ship-fit method takes about nine months. Even if you’re buying off the rack, it’s good to start shopping a few months before the wedding in case you have trouble finding something.

Choose attendants

Wait until you have less than one year before the wedding, to minimize the likelihood that friendships will change. The problem of attendants’ dresses doesn’t really need to be tackled until six months ahead of the wedding. Men’s clothing can be reserved as little as six weeks in advance.

Plan invitations

Invitations go out 8 weeks before the wedding. Start your planning about four months before the wedding day.

Get crafty

If you plan to make favors or other items yourself, start early. Making 200 favors takes a surprisingly long time, and you may just get busy in the intervening months.

Register

If you’re going to register, you should do it before the invitations go out, as that’s the signal for people to start asking where you’re registered. There’s no point in doing it years in advance, as store inventories can change radically, forcing you to redo the whole list if your favorites are no longer in stock.

Think honeymoon

A foreign honeymoon usually requires reservations made 4 to 6 months in advance. A local vacation can be planned much more quickly.

Plan the ceremony

This is the part a surprising number of couples leave to the last minute! Start thinking about the ceremony as early as possible, making sure that you know about any religious requirements.

Clear Your Mind

There are some issues you shouldn’t think about at all:

  • Whether anyone will throw you showers.
  • What sort of bachelor/bachelorette parties you’ll have.
  • What kind of rehearsal dinner you’ll have (unless the groom’s parents have declined to host it and you have to do it yourself)
  • Whether guests are actually buying off the registry.
  • What anyone other than the bride, groom, and their attendants plan to wear to the wedding.

All of these issues are Somebody Else’s Problem. Leave them that way.

Make It Happen

In the last week before the wedding, it’s useful to make yourself a to-do list so that you don’t awaken at 4 a.m. one morning with the terrible realization that you’ve forgotten something critical like getting the license. Some typical items for the list include:

  • Calling vendors to confirm orders.
  • Picking up men’s attire.
  • Appointments for beautification of the female members of the wedding party.
  • Finalizing wedding programs.
  • Assembling kit of things you’ll need for the wedding day.
  • Supplying wedding-day itinerary to wedding party members.
  • Packing for the honeymoon

Don’t forget to keep up on thank-you letters for gifts received before the wedding! And, on the day of the wedding, make sure that you relax and enjoy yourself!

General Thoughts

You’ll note that I haven’t made a detailed list of everything you must do a year before the wedding, six months before the wedding, and so on. That’s for three reasons.

First, these lists are in every wedding planning book or magazine in every bookstore or library, including the little freebie booklet that you’ll use for your first discussion with your fiance. You can even get a detailed checklist online from John and Amy’s wedding.

Second, these lists assume that you are having the most stressful and elaborate formal wedding imaginable, and you’re not necessarily planning to do that! What makes it a wedding is that two people get married, not the reception menu. And even a fairly simple party requires some planning.

Third, almost any rule about when you must do something can be broken if you’re resourceful, flexible, and lucky. If you somehow don’t have a wedding gown two weeks before the wedding, you can buy a white dress off the “prom” or “evening” rack at any department store and get on with life. The attendants can come to the mall with you and choose their dresses, or they can each wear their best dresses and carry white bouquets (white goes with everything!).

If bouquets somehow slipped off the to-do list, grocery stores often do bouquets on little notice, or you can buy one dramatic blossom for each attendant and call the look “stunningly simple.”

If the reception caterer vanishes the day before the wedding, follow the example of the famous Washington hostess who ordered Popeye’s fried chicken delivered (and was complimented on her wonderful cooking).

As long as the law and, if relevant, the religious authorities, are satisfied, you can cope with anything else.

Choosing a great wedding photographer

Choosing a great wedding photographer

By Emma | Wedding Planning

(See also: Questions to ask the wedding photographer)

Every moment spent is a memory made and to truly preserve it, it is necessary to have a great wedding photographer.

The right photographer can preserve the entire event; capture the emotion, joy, sorrow and the cheeky fun activities with ease. Your wedding album can easily become the most beloved book in your life with ease. Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing a great wedding photographer, there are certain pitfalls which one must avoid.

Whether you are new to this or a veteran, the following are some tips and tricks you should definitely consider when choosing your photographer.

An Early Search

So, you finally got engaged. Yay! Congratulations. Now that the preliminaries are over, you better look for a wedding photographer. If you want to find the best, keep in mind that professional photographers are often booked in advance with some even having their schedules filled for a year. When you are choosing someone, make sure you have your dates clearly settled on.

Moreover, be prepared to face a scarcity of wedding photographers if your wedding is out of season. There is a definite chance that choosing your photographer will not be easy. It will undeniably be harder but you can find someone who is better suited for your needs. Searching can seem tough but if you start early, you can gain access to more wedding photographers.

Starting as soon as possible will make it easier for you to narrow down your search and give you plenty of time to pick and choose your options wisely. At the end of the day, you are allowed to be picky; you are allowed to be choosy. Just make sure you have the time and the options as well. If you start a last minute search, you can easily end up picking a photographer who is either unskilled or worse; end up with no photographer at all.

Reputation

Great wedding photographers have experience and success behind them. Nonetheless, this does not always mean they will be better at their work. When choosing a great wedding photographer, you can start out small by relying on recommendations from family and friends.

Many of your friends will even have photo albums you can examine to determine the quality of the photo albums. With different Facebook pages available as well, you can take your search online. Moreover, you can also make different professionals involved in their wedding day festivities; this will work out with various.

Different professionals in the wedding industry can also give different recommendations which can go a long way in finding your photographer. Whether it is a venue manager, a caterer, a baker, a florist or a limousine driver, they can always recommend someone for you. However, act on these recommendations with care. Everyone knows someone who is a photographer but not every photographer you come across will prove to be a great wedding photographer.

Narrowing Your Options

When you have a viable list of candidates, you have to scour your list further by eliminating candidates who don’t fit in. Pay attention to your budget and the needs you have as well. For example: If you are having a wedding at a beach or a barn, you will want to pick a photographer who is proficient or comfortable with outdoor photography.

Keep a certain style of photography in mind as well. From traditional to playful, lighthearted and more, you can easily find a photographer who embodies the style you want. With these in mind, you will be able to narrow down your options when choosing a great wedding photographer.

With different styles, you can narrow your options down with ease since there are plenty of photographers who have different styles. When you focus on these, you will be able to differentiate them with ease. Don’t be afraid of being firm about narrowing your options down as well.

Conducting Interviews

Once you have narrowed down your list of photographers, it’s time to start interviewing them. These one-on-one sessions are going to be all about what you want so don’t shy away from asking them questions. In the interview, remember that it is all about give and take. While you want to know more about the photographer, the photographer wants to know more about you and your wedding as well.

On the other hand, don’t end up answering all the questions. Have a set of questions in mind to ask. To get a good example of their expertise, ask for samples of their work as well so you can gauge their work and the results they produce as well too. Scrutinize the pictures to see how well the composition is. Determine the style and emotional tone of the picture.

An interview will also help to highlight the level of professionalism being displayed. Punctuality, a solid background for wedding photography and the ability to think out of the box in order to get the perfect shot are qualities to look for when choosing a great wedding photographer.

Photography Equipment

Be aware of the kind of equipment which is used by wedding photographers. While you may not be as tech savvy as the photographer, you should definitely be aware of the kind of film, development techniques and the photo editing tools the photographer will be using.

Again, you may not be as knowledgeable as the photographer but if the photographer looks legitimately confused by the questions you are asking, you might want to look around for another one. Asking about the equipment they use and the photography techniques will also give you a better understanding of just what the photographer knows.

Moreover, this will also let you see just how experienced the photographer is. At times, there isn’t a lot of fancy stuff involved but at the end of the day, if they don’t even know the basics, you know you can’t rely on them to photograph well for your wedding.

Budget and Contract

After all the searching, you will want to carefully look at the contract. You may have dictated a set of different terms and conditions but if you don’t have it down in writing, you will definitely face a lot of complications. You may be in a hurry to get your hands on the perfect photographer but make sure your contract covers everything.

Moreover, the contract should contain details which match with your budget as well. If you don’t have a budget which matches with your photographer’s charges, you may have to look around for another one. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask for customized packages. Customized packages make it easier for one to easily adjust the package to suit their budget. In the end, you get a win-win scenario where both parties walk away happy.

Many wedding photographers are understanding and make certain to let you know as well. When you are focused on helping them out, you will be able to create different wants and needs. Communicate your wants and needs with clarity and ensure it is highlighted in the contract before you sign on the dotted line.

Choosing a great wedding photographer is hard but it will be harder if you don’t take the tips mentioned above into careful consideration.

 

Happily Ever After Starts with the Honeymoon

By Emma | Wedding Planning

Screaming kids. Tropical storms. Romance at its finest.

My Cinderella-style honeymoon will be spent in the Caribbean with, well, Cinderella and the rest of the Disney cast during the middle of hurricane season next year, setting up my fairy-tale ending to be somewhat unconventional.

Our decision to take a Disney cruise for our honeymoon has raised a few eyebrows from friends and family alike, but Fiance and I couldn’t be more excited. Disney holds top honors for providing unparalleled experiences for tourists, and all of the Travel Channel specials we’ve watched on the DCL (Disney Cruise Line) have captivated us. If you’ve ever seen the show I’m referring to, you’ll note they spend a lot of time emphasizing the mouth-watering cuisine served on board, and I believe I’ve already established I’m an ardent lover of anything delicious.

We debated other options. The all-inclusiveness of Sandals, Beaches, Club Med, etc. was certainly appealing, but the non-imaginativeness eventually turned us off. Shortly after our engagement, there was also discussion of adventuring internationally to Egypt. However, given the current state of affairs there that did not exist back in 2008, we both agreed that trip would probably be a little too adventurous for us today.

So Disney emerged the victor in the war of honeymoon destinations, and we’ve certainly got high expectations. When reserving our spot on the Disney Fantasy for next fall, we were prompted to share that this would be our first Disney cruise and that we would be on our honeymoon, so I’m intrigued to find out how these tidbits of information about us will impact our experience.

With this selection, however, my vision of jet-setting off to the airport right from the reception, friends and family gathered around for goodbyes and additional rice-throwing, has been eliminated. We’ll have to impatiently wait out most of the summer before we actually get to take this vacation of a lifetime. The choice to travel in September was intentional though, as we’re hoping the “Back to School” timing of the voyage will reduce our exposure to the under -18 crowd.

Check another decision off the list. Now we just need to solidify flight plans and hopefully negotiate a nice first-class airfare upgrade.

Oh, and buy some travel insurance. Just in case the next Hurricane Irene decides to pay us a visit at the most inopportune time.

Which honeymoon destinations have made your short list?

Date Night

By Emma | Wedding Planning

In the frenzied hours filled by working full time jobs, hitting the treadmill, wrangling the cat, and realizing that there’s less than six months to our wedding, Fiance and I have found it a bit difficult squeezing in something critical to the success of our future marriage.

Romance.

Last night, we took a much needed break from the gym and left the cat to her own devices to go out and treat ourselves to a gourmet culinary experience.

“Going out to dinner” is what Fiance and I do when

  • We’re tired of spaghetti and meatballs.
  • We haven’t done dishes recently and have nothing to eat our spaghetti on.
  • We have a “Buy One Get One” coupon at Houlihans or IHOP.

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Wedding Planning Book Store

By Emma | Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning is a fun, emotional but often stressful challenge! Don’t go it alone – learn from the experts from the following wedding planning books.

General Wedding Planning Books

Saving Money

For the Groom

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