Wedding Planner

Congratulations! and Welcome to the only online wedding planner you will need to plan the perfect wedding. Wedding Expressions has put together this informative wedding planner to help you with all those important questions and advice from leading wedding experts.

Announcing Your Engagement

Going public with the news of your engagement can be exciting. How do you get the word out? First off, start by telling your family, followed by close friends and co-workers.

The tradition of asking a bride’s father for her hand in marriage is not dead, just overlooked. Your fiancé may wish to speak with him privately, with both parents and/or stepparents.

News as important as this should be delivered in person! You and your fiancé should make plans as soon as you decide you want to announce your engagement to visit with your parents first. If you live far away and can’t wait, call them with your great news! If you think your family may have reservations, speak to them about it. It may put them more at ease if they can spend time together with your fiancé. If he/she has children, make sure they are involved with their potential new grandparents.

If either of you have children make sure you tell them as soon as possible. Marriage can mean a dramatic change for some children. It may mean the end of one lifestyle and the start of a new. They may have questions. Take the time to talk with them about their concerns, your wedding and what it means to all of you.

Good news travels fast, so make sure to call grandparents, relatives and close friends. Have a tentative date or time of year in mind so friends can start thinking about plans if they will be traveling from a far, or let them know you will be getting back soon with a date. You will also want to let co-workers and your boss/supervisor know the wedding date and time needed off. If you will be relocating after the marriage let them know this so they can plan ahead for your departure.

Last, but not least, if you are divorced or have children with another, make sure you share this information with them. If not on friendly terms, write them a letter or note.

Setting your Wedding Date

The first step in any wedding is to firm up a wedding date. While it sounds easy, there are many factors that may force you to pick a different date, such as work, school, weather, holidays, area events, etc.

You will need to start by finding out availability of your church, synagogue and reception site. Many sites can be booked a year or two in advance of your date, so check as soon as possible to insure the date is open or look for alternative dates or times. Some churches will handle two to three weddings back to back and some reception sites may handle two or more receptions at a time. Find out all your options.

You will also want to consider how much time you will need for planning your wedding. Many weddings take a year or more of planning depending on how big the event.

Different times of year can also play a big part of your wedding date. Seasons, area events, major holidays, religious holidays, work or military service can hinder your plans. Guests may find it difficult also to attend around major holidays.

Check with your parents and attendants, your best man may have guard duty or parents may have a planned vacation over that date. Other anniversaries, birthdays and graduations may collide.

Many brides also consider their menstrual cycle when planning the wedding date. In some traditions, sexual consummation of the marriage takes place on the wedding night, so careful planning of the date is important. Planning a date around this six to twelve months in advance can be difficult.

Once you have your date nailed down, let all the key people know so they may start planning their schedules accordingly.

Newspaper Wedding Announcements

Word of your engagement will travel fast and far among friends, however, word of mouth only travels so far. Once you have told family and friends, it’s time to announce your engagement in writing. Newspapers, club newsletters and company newsletters are just a few places to start.

Newspapers are the most common used place for announcements. Most papers run announcements under the Lifestyle section about once a week. You will want to contact the paper for deadlines and requirements of photos and text. Ask for any forms you may need to fill out. Inquire if there are any fees for placement.

You will want to contact newspapers where you live and work, also where your parents live. If you are well known in other communities, you may want to run the announcement there also.

To make sure of proper communication, type your announcement, double-spaced, on a sheet of paper and attach your photo.

You should include career information about you and your groom, your parents and where they live, and what school(s) you attended. If you are keeping your name, you may want to note this as, “The bride will keep her name” so friends, family and business associates will know how to address you in the future. The month you will be married may be mentioned along with the city/town.

You should word the announcement as follows in the traditional way:

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith announce the engagement of their daughter, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. A June wedding is planned in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa…

In some cases, you may need to word your announcement differently. When the bride’s parents are divorced, you should word it for the parent who raised you and also mention your other parent as follows:

Mrs. Judy Smith of Burlington, Iowa announces the engagement of her daughter, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is also the daughter of Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring.

If divorced parents remain friendly, they may jointly want to announce the engagement as follows:

Mr. Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring and Mrs. Judy Smith of Burlington, announce the engagement of their daughter…

If the bride’s mother has remarried, use your mother’s surname in the announcement:

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Murphy announce the engagement of Mrs. Murphy’s daughter, Diane Sue Smith, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is also the daughter of Kenneth Smith of Palms Spring.

If one of the bride’s parents is deceased:

The bride’s mother announces the engagement of Miss Diane Smith, daughter of Mrs. Judy Smith and the late Kenneth Smith, to Mr. John Smith, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami.

If both the bride’s parents are deceased, an honored family member or friend can do the announcing:

Miss. Jamie Smith of Burlington announces the engagement of her sister, Diane Sue, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. Miss Smith is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Smith.

If the groom’s parents are divorced or deceased, you will want to follow the same general format.

If the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding, you can do one of two things. Let your parents have the honor of announcing your engagement, or announce it yourself. If you wish to announce it yourself consider the following to word your announcement:

Miss. Diane Smith of Burlington, Iowa is to be married in June to John Smith of Miami, Florida. Miss Smith is the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith of Burlington. Mr. Smith is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami.

Second marriages keep the wording traditional just as a first marriage. However, the bride will want to use her current, legal surname, even if it differs from your parents:

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Smith announce the engagement of their daughter, Diane Sue Schultz, to John Jacob, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith of Miami. A June wedding is planned in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa…

You may use the above as examples to start with. You may also wish to look at your local paper and see what many of the couples are using for a format.

Getting the parents involved

Enlist the help of your families in your wedding plans. If parents have never met, get them acquainted.

To help break the ice between parents that have never met, invite them all out to dinner. If they live far apart, give your parents a call and introduce them over the phone. They will want to exchange congratulations and invite each other to meet before the wedding date. If they have an engagement party for you, make sure the other half is invited.

You will want to discuss with your families the type of wedding you are planning. You will also want to discuss finances as one may dictate the other. Get your families input. There may be a wedding tradition one of the families you may want to include. While your preferences should take precedence, it’s not likely everything will go your way, be prepared to give and take.

Money is a main determining factor in every wedding. You will need to spend considerable time on determining a budget and who is paying for what.

Old tradition dictated that the bride’s family pays for the bulk of a wedding. Today however, this is not always the case with many weddings being financed by the bride and groom.

Your fiancé’s parents may also want to help with expenses.

If you are counting on your parent’s to pay for certain expenses, you will need to discuss this with them. They may need to decide on what they can afford, and what their budget will allow.

If the subject of “who will pay for what” still has not come about, you may want to approach them. “John and I are going to be taking care of the flowers, his folks want to pay for the DJ. Can you help us pay for the wedding photographer?” Have a good estimate on what you are looking at spending.

Keep his parents informed also, such as guest list size and when you will need a list. Your moms will also want talk to each other about the type of dress they are going purchase for the wedding. It might be a good idea for them to go shopping together to help coordinate styles. This can also be a great way for them to get to know each other better.

Month-by-Month To-Do List

Planning your wedding can be a long or short affair. The planning may begin a year or more in advance, while it is possible to plan in a much shorter amount of time.

Just remember that peak wedding dates may require extra time to reserve your service providers. Once you are sure on your date, set it in stone by reserving your locations and service providers.

Keep in mind; this list covers many planning objectives but not all. You will want to add any special planning tasks to it.

Brideís list: 12-18 months prior

*Select and set wedding date *Reserve church and reception locations *Choose attendants *Select and reserve service providers *Start looking for wedding attire

Nine months prior

*Meet with officiant. Begin pre-wedding counseling if required. *Start compiling guest list *Finalize and order wedding gown, veil, bridesmaidís attire, and flower girlís dress *Begin registering for gifts *Discuss and plan honeymoon

Six months prior

*Begin reception planning, select menu *Select and order invitations *Have engagement photos taken *Begin shopping for grooms and menís formal wear *Work with florist on wedding flowers *Help momís select attire *Select cake decorator and cake

Three months prior

*Begin to finalize guest list *Shop for honeymoon clothes *Shop and order wedding rings *Check your state regulation and get blood tests if you need them *Reserve a block of hotel rooms for guests *Work with DJ on selecting music for reception, first dance, etc. *Finish guest list

Two months prior

*Begin bridal gown and bridesmaids dress fittings *Address and main invitations *Purchase gifts for attendants *Submit announcement to newspapers *Work with hairdresser and veil to get the look you want *Plan rehearsal dinner

Three weeks prior

*Confirm honeymoon and travel arrangements *Get marriage license *Confirm in writing poses and special requests with photographer, videographer, D.J., caterer, reception hall, etc. *Get haircut or touch-ups *Purchase Groomís gift

One-week prior

*Supply caterer with final head count *Pack for honeymoon *Confirm with all service providers on date, times, details and any changes *Purchase travelers checks *Have Fun!

Grooms list: 12-18 months prior

*Purchase brideís engagement ring *Select and set wedding date *Reserve church and reception locations *Choose attendants *Select and reserve service providers

Nine months prior

*Meet with officiant. Begin pre-wedding counseling if required. *Start compiling guest list *Begin registering for gifts *Discuss and plan honeymoon

Six months prior

*Begin reception planning, select menu *Select and order invitations with bride *Have engagement photos taken *Begin shopping for grooms and menís formal wear *Make honeymoon reservations, plane tickets, etc. *Make arrangements for passports, visa, and inoculations for travel *Reserve Honeymoon/wedding night suite

Three months prior

*Begin to finalize guest list *Shop for honeymoon clothes *Shop and order wedding rings *Check your state regulation and get blood tests if you need them *Reserve a block of hotel rooms for guests *Make sure groomsmen are measured for formal wear *Plan with parents the rehearsal dinner and finish guest list

Two months prior

*Check in to what requirements are for marriage license *Purchase gifts for attendants *Submit announcement to newspapers *Reserve rehearsal dinner location and other details

Three weeks prior

*Confirm honeymoon and travel arrangements *Get marriage license *Get haircut or touch-up *Send out rehearsal dinner invitations *Double check with formal wear provider to make sure all measurements are in and tuxes ordered *Purchase Brideís gift

One-week prior

*Check with and remind groomsmen and ushers on rehearsal dinnertime and place *Pack for honeymoon *Confirm with all service providers on date, times, details and any changes *Purchase travelers checks *Prepare officiant fees, entrust it to best man and give him instructions on paying the officiant. Prepare and present musicians, vocalists and others with appropriate monetary gifts *Make sure all wearing tuxedos inspect and try on formal wear

2-3 days prior to wedding

*Instruct ushers on special seating arrangements. *Have Fun!

.Read more about wedding photography here

Determining Your Wedding Style

One of the first decisions you will be faced with in planning a wedding is choosing the desired wedding style. The ‘style’ decision will influence all the aspects of the wedding, such as: the wedding dress, size of the wedding, time of day or year, location, attire for maids, men’s formalwear, ceremony, reception, all the way down to the invitations.

Weddings can range from lavish and ultra formal to the modest informal get together. It is important for you to choose a style that reflects your personality and will maintain your budget.

Ultra Formal Weddings

If your wish is to celebrate your love with tradition, elegance and grandeur, you may choose to have an ultra formal wedding. Your elaborate white or ivory gown will reflect the formality of the celebration with a cathedral train and equally impressive veil. Six to twelve bridesmaids will share in your joy along with two hundred or more friends and relatives. Your attendants stunning full-length dresses will enhance the ceremony, as will the long dresses of your mother and future mother-in-law. Your groom will wait in a gray or black cutaway coat, stripped trousers, and matching ascot. A beautifully decorated church, synagogue, or hotel will serve as the setting for the ceremony, which will take place in the afternoon or early evening. Following the ceremony, you will celebrate with your guests at a lavish reception of dinner and dancing. Invitations of fine quality paper and classic engraving will inform guests they will be attending a wedding of magnificent splendor and tasteful elegance.

Formal Weddings

On s slightly smaller scale, the formal wedding is rich with tradition and beauty. You will choose a formal gown with chapel length train and flowing veil. The full-length dresses of your two to six attendants will compliment your breathtaking couture. Your groom will proclaim his love in a full dress (tails) or traditional tuxedo. Mothers in full length or ankle length dresses. Morning, afternoon, or evenings are all ideal for a formal ceremony in a church, social club or garden. A festive reception of one hundred or more friends and relatives allows you to rejoice in your marriage with food and beverage befitting the hour along with music and dance.

Semi-Formal Wedding

Breaking away from tradition, your wedding becomes truly special to you in a semi-formal ceremony or second wedding. The bride will wear a floor length or tea-length wedding gown in white or ivory. A short veil or hat can add elegance. One to three attendants will accompany you down the aisle in delicate tea-length or floor length gowns, similar gowns worn by mothers. The groom may wear a formal suit or tuxedo. A chapel, private home or club may host the ceremony. The reception may consist of hors d’oeuvres and champagne or cake and punch. Fifty or more guests will help you celebrate your proclamation of love.

Informal Wedding

An informal wedding lacks the pomp and ceremony of other wedding styles. Yet they may be as beautiful and memorable as any wedding big or small. You may choose to wed in a modest floor length gown or a striking dress or suit. One maid of honor and best man will complete your intimate wedding party. Your groom may choose to wear a suit or sports coat. You and your groom will share your vows in a judge’s chamber, private home, on a beach, in a garden setting or small church. Traditionally, an afternoon informal wedding will host fewer then fifty of your closest friends and relatives.

Who pays for What?

This question has become a hot topic among brides, grooms, and their families. It can often create unnecessary feuds and tension. A wedding is a public announcement and celebration, and is not meant to impose financial strain on you or your family.

Traditionally, the bride and her family paid for most everything associated in a wedding. Today, relationships and roles of the traditional marriage have changed, as a result who pays for what is not set in stone and can be taken care of by a number of people.

Family incomes, long distance weddings, divorced parents, second marriages, all these come into play. You need to discuss with everyone involved. That means bride, groom, and both sets of parent’s need to talk about the wedding style, plans, budget, and who is paying for what.

Some parents will want to finance the entire wedding, and some will give the bride and groom a set amount.

In today’s world, more and more brides and grooms opt to pay for the entire wedding themselves. Couples who choose to live together before they “tie the knot” often pay for more wedding expenses them selves. Those marrying for a second time or more usually pay for the wedding themselves. If parents are living on a fixed income and do not have the means to help, the bride and groom may fund the wedding.

Diplomatically, ask each side of your families if they will be able to help with the cost of the wedding. Tell them your plans and ask if them if there is anything special they would like during the ceremony or reception. They may tell you of a traditional family ceremony you may want to include.

Have your parents give you a good idea on the number of guests that they would like to invite. Keep in mind, your wedding is a big social event for parents!

Splitting the expenses might also be an option. A three or more way split with the bride’s family, groom’s family, and you may be a solution. All three parties would then contribute funds towards the total wedding budget or each party can pay for a percentage depending on guests.

Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for:

• Wedding dress, veil, accessories
• Invitations, announcements, enclosures, personal stationary
• Trousseau and lingerie
• Bouquet/corsages for attendants
• Flowers for ceremony and reception site
• Rental fee for church or chapel
• Engagement and wedding photography
• Fees for the sexton, organist, and soloist
• Rental fees for aisle carpet and other equipment
• Transportation for all bridal party to the ceremony and reception sites
• The Complete reception: Food, beverage, music, decorations, gratuities and other services
• Groom’s ring
• Wedding gift for the groom
• Gift’s for bride’s attendants
• Hotel lodging for attendants and out of town friends
• Gratuities to police directing traffic and/or parking
• Bride’s luncheon
• Rehearsal dinner (optional)
• Corsages for mothers, grandparents, special guests

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for:

• Bride’s engagement and wedding ring
• Marriage license
• Ceremony officials fee
• Bride’s flowers (bouquet and going away flowers)
• Wedding gift for bride
• Gifts for best man, grooms men, ushers
• Hotel lodging for out-of-town grooms men/ushers
• Wedding attire (grooms)
• Rehearsal dinner (optional)
• Honeymoon
• Blood tests (if required)
• Gloves, ties, ascots for men in wedding party

Traditionally attendants pay for:

• Personal wedding attire (except flowers)
• Traveling expense (except hotel)

Preparing your wedding budget

After deciding on a wedding style, and who will pay for what, you need to work on a budget that everyone agrees on.

You will need to collect some information from area service providers via the telephone on estimated costs. Then it is suggested to add 20% to the cost for over-run or unexpected charges.

Overspending and overpaying are two areas you need to keep under control in any wedding. Here are a few things to watch for.

Research: get recommendations, compare and price check all service providers, sites, and apparel stores. What you will learn is that all service providers and stores offer different pricing, levels of service and quality. You will also learn the going rate in your area, which can be helpful in bartering a better deal or finding out who offers the best value for your money.

Shopping for your apparel and accessories can be just the same. Compare prices. One dress shop can be priced higher, but the price may include alterations, storage bag and steaming. Where as the lesser-priced store may add this cost on. Shop online, it can save you time and money.

Use your phone and the yellow pages, the web, and recommendations from other brides and service providers. Ask the same questions to each of the vendors so you are comparing them all evenly, apples to apples.

Once you find your photographer, ask her or him for recommendations. If your photographer has been in your area a number of years, they have worked with a lot of service providers. A wedding photographer gets to work with every aspect of your wedding and see the end result of many service providers work. They may be able to recommend the best people in the area.

Visit Them

Make appointments with the shops/service providers you are more interested in before you visit. This will help insure you will get better service if they know you are coming, many small shops and service providers run with small staffs.

If you will be renting items from them, ask to see the equipment. Is the equipment clean, workable and untarnished? Seeing the items will give you some insight as to how well the company is run. If staff and equipment is disorganized, broken and incomplete then you may want to reconsider them as a potential provider.

If the provider seems like the one you want and the date is open, ask for some literature and sample of their contract, policies and prices to review. Do not get pressured into signing something that you cant get out of, or that ties you to something you do not want or is may be overpriced.

In the comfort of your home, review the information and pricing. Decide on what you want, contact the providers with any questions, and sign the contracts when you are ready. Keep in mind, some providers only handle one wedding at a time, so do not take too long or you might be disappointed.

Possible money savings:

Before you sign any contract or make a purchase, ask the retailer or service provider about quantity discounts, specials or sale prices. The salesperson may have overlooked a sale price or quantity discount. Some service providers may add in a couple extras at no cost.

The closer your work with your provider and the more you purchase everything from one source, the more likely they will work extra hard for you.

Determin Your Color Scheme

The next step in planning a wedding to choose a color scheme. Wedding colors are very important; they will be reflected throughout the ceremony and reception and enforce the wedding tone established by the wedding style.

Primarily, wedding colors will beautify your celebration through the bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen attire. Choosing a color to enhance every member of your wedding is very difficult, but traditional colors such as blue, pink, peach and ivory have a versatility that compliments most everyone’s features and complexions.

Wedding colors will also be reflected in the bridal bouquet and floral arrangements. This may determine which flowers you are able to use. Not every natural flower color will match your chosen scheme; silk flowers may be a better option.

Your color scheme will also be reflected in such things as your invitations, favors, decorations, and more. You may wish to discuss color options with your florist, dress store and tuxedo shop to make sure they can match a color before making a final decision.

The meanings of colors may also influence your decision.

Through years of tradition, different colors have grown to imply feelings and emotions as well as reflect personality. Choose a color that will enhance the season, make a statement, reflect your taste, or archive your dreams.

Here are just a few colors and some background information on them.

Blue Your choice of this traditional bridal color reflects your commitment to marriage and belief in love. From the fresh look of vibrant blues to the classic tradition of beautiful pastels, your selection of blue tones personifies your blissful happiness and endless love.

Burgundy The rich and luxurious shades of burgundy establish a feeling of elegance and sophistication. A burgundy wedding illustrates your powerful aspirations and goals of excellence. The rose tone of burgundy’s softer side makes your wedding as delicate and as intimate as you are.

Ivory Ivory weddings reflect classic traditions. This subtle romantic shade produces wedding memories of grace and distinction. A contrast to brilliant white, ivory’s soft tones enhance the glow in your cheeks and love in your eyes.

Lavender Passion and romance combine in the lavender wedding to create a mood of magical whimsy. Your old-fashioned values and modern daydreams unite to create wedding memories of a lifetime.

Peach Soft, muted tones of peach illustrate tranquility, harmony, and peace. Choosing peach as your dominant color extends a message of warmth and love to your special guests and new family.

Pink Pink weddings are filled with lacy romance and flowery femininity. Through this soft shade of innocence, pink represents your girlish dreams, starry-eyed ideals, and everlasting love.

Red In every language, the color of love is red. A red wedding depicts your intense emotions and bold romance while conveying a message of charm and style. Your red wedding says more about your feelings than words ever could.

Black & White A wedding of distinction is treated with striking combinations of black and white. This dramatic color scheme reveals your taste for the ultimate in elegance and sophisticated romance.

Marrying at 30, 40 and beyond

Many brides and grooms today are launching a career before they commit to marriage. It is not uncommon for a bride to wait until her thirties or forties to tie the knot. This sometimes brings questions about her wedding. Here are just a few adjustments you might consider:

The wedding budget may be partially or fully contributed by the bride and groom. You and your groom may wish to take on full responsibility if you are financially sound. Your parents can still be listed as the hosts, or you may wish to do the announcing yourself.

You might request just your friends and guests attend, and ask for no gifts if you already have a home established. You may also consider registering for finer lines such as china and silver. Books, sporting goods, furniture and electronics are all registry items. If you would rather receive money, be discreet. Have close friends and family spread the word orally. It is incorrect to request monetary gifts in an invitation.

Wedding attire can be very formal or understated. Some brides opt for a formal lavish affair and some choose a small informal wedding. Itís up to you.

I Do Again – Remarrying

Second marriages are becoming more common in today’s society. On the average a women will remarry within four years of her divorce. If you are remarrying again because of a divorce or you are widowed, here’s what you may need to know.

Announcement of your engagement should be to your children first. This may be a traumatic experience for children, and they may have a lot of questions or need extra time understanding things. Give them some time for the adjustment. You will also want to inform your ex-spouse, if you are not on friendly terms, write them a note.

If you have been recently divorced or widowed, it is customary to announce your marriage after the wedding has taken place. If some time has elapsed since the divorce, it is okay to place the announcement in the paper before the ceremony.

Etiquette allows for your parents to announce the marriage or for you and your fiancé to announce it.

Having a private ceremony is okay. If you wish to have a large reception, you will want to send out formal reception cards to guests. Even though it may be your second marriage, guests may wish to give gifts. Make sure to note in your reception cards if you wish guests not to give a gift.

An example: “We ask you share our friendship and request no gifts.”

If you wish for gifts, make sure you register to make gift giving easier.

Your wedding attire can be lavish or simple. Informal gowns (no train) are more reserved for second time marriages. The train and veil traditionally represent virginity and are the prerogative of first-time brides. White is the traditional color of all weddings, and is just as appropriate for a second time bride.

The ceremony itself can be as big or smaller than your first wedding. Use your knowledge from your first wedding to plan a more unique and personal ceremony, or simple one as to both of your tastes and style.

If you can, incorporate roles for your children into the wedding. Depending on their ages, they can be bridesmaids, ushers, ring-bearer, and flower girl. They can even fill the role of your maid/matron of honor or best man.

Children and Remarriage

Those five words spoken by Jim Pignatti sent a wave of anxiety through 11-year-old Corina Pignatti and her seven-year-old brother, Nicky. Like other children of divorce confronted with the remarriage of a parent, the youngsters were plagued by real and imagined fears. “I was afraid that when dad married Robin, I might not be considered part of the family anymore,” Corina confided. Nicky was more blunt. “I figured if they had a baby, they wouldn’t have much time for me.”

It didn’t matter that both children liked Robin, a vivacious, affectionate woman who showered the youngsters with attention. In Nicky and Corina’s minds, bringing Robin into the family would somehow disturb the delicate bond they had with a father whom they saw — due to a shared custody arrangement — primarily on weekends.

These and other misgivings — some spoken, some only implied — worried Jim and Robin. Although they didn’t realize it at the time, they were grappling with a problem experienced by most of the nearly one million single parents who remarry in the U. S. each year: What can be done to ease the concerns of young children who feel, on a conscious or unconscious level, that their secure place in the family is threatened by the pending marriage of a parent?

“We talked to the kids a lot prior to the wedding,” Jim says. “We kept telling them that they were going to be part of our lives. They said they understood but…I wanted to do something out of the ordinary during the wedding to show Corina and Nicky how important they were to us.”

The Syracuse, New York, couple found a simple and emotionally satisfying answer to their dilemma in the form of a family-oriented wedding service that gives children a meaningful role in the wedding nuptials. This five-minute ceremony — known as the Family Medallion service — can easily be integrated into any religious or civil wedding ceremony. It differs from the traditional wedding in only one respect: after the newlyweds exchange rings, their children join them for a special service focusing on the family nature of marriage. Each child is given a gold or silver medal with three interlocking circles, a symbol that represents family love in much the same way the wedding ring signifies conjugal love.

The Pignattis say they will never forget the moment during their wedding when Corina and Nicky were summoned to the altar to participate in the family wedding service. While the priest recited the words of the ceremony — a pledge to love and care for all the children either spouse brings to the marriage — Jim and Robin placed a Family Medallion around the necks of Corina and Nicky. “We were all moved to tears,” Robin says. “It’s like the ceremony was making it official that we were a family. I was marrying Jim, but I had plenty of room in my heart for the kids.”

Nicky and Corina responded with hugs and kisses. “I could tell that Robin really loved me,” recalls Corina. “And the way my dad looked at me, well I knew he was going to keep on taking care of me just like the priest said.”

Most of the guests attending the Pignatti/Landers wedding reported that they had been both awed and touched by the family ceremony. “People told me it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever seen,” Robin adds.

With approximately one in four U.S. marriages involving divorced or widowed parents with young children, the family wedding concept is an idea whose time has come. It was developed by Dr. Roger Coleman, Chaplain at Pilgrim Chapel in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I was frustrated that virtually every traditional wedding ceremony focused entirely on the bride and groom,” Dr. Coleman explains. “A marriage with children is a lot more than simply the union of a man and a woman. It’s a merging of two separate families. Every day of my ministry I see how divorce creates a sense of failure and hopelessness in people. The family ceremony is a sign of hope and an important step in rebuilding families.”

Today, more than 10,000 couples a year — primarily in the U.S., Canada and Europe — use the Family Medallion ceremony to help cement the bond between parents, stepparents and children. “I was surprised that such a simple ceremony could be so affirming for children,” says Father Alfred E. Nortz, pastor of St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church in Syracuse, New York. Father Nortz officiated at the Pignatti wedding. “I could see how proud the kids were to be publicly recognized by Robin and Jim. And it was easy to incorporate the Family Medallion service into the Catholic wedding liturgy. I’ve already recommended the family service to another couple with children from a previous marriage.”

Family therapists say there is a price to be paid when children feel pushed aside rather than embraced by the remarriage of a parent. Consider, for example, the situation of Carly, a Texas teenager with divorced parents. “One day my dad just announced he was going to get married,” she recalls. “He didn’t seem to care how I felt about it or how I was going to fit into his new relationship. It was like I wasn’t very important to him. But when mom decided to remarry, she spent a lot of time talking to me. Then during the wedding, she and my stepdad John had a special family ceremony for all of us kids. It made me trust that my mom and John would be there for me.”

Jim and Robin Pignatti believe that their family wedding will have long-term benefits. “If Corina and Nicky don’t yet fully realize the implications of the formal commitment we made to them during our wedding, I know they will in years to come,” Robin says. “And they’ll always have the Family Medallion as a symbol of our love.”

Nicky, now eight, doesn’t worry anymore about his place in the Pignatti family. “It’s ok if dad and Robin have a baby,” he says. “If it’s a boy, I’ll let my new little brother play with my toys.”

Do I need a wedding consultant?

Remember “Fraunk” or was it “Frank” in Steve Martin’s “Father of the Bride”? He was a little extravagant, but made the wedding and coordination come off perfect (with exception of the minor parking problem, the cheaper chicken and a few other details).

Do you need a consultant for your wedding? Many brides are considering consultants to help plan the perfect wedding, make arrangements, deal with all the extensive details, relieve the stresses, and make suggestions. Depending on how much time, energy and money have and can devote, a consultant may be, or may not be what you need.

Here are some things a consultant can do for you:

A consultant will help you plan and carry out your wedding goals, offer suggestions, and devise a plan to reach the goal.

Many consultants that have worked in an area a long time know the right people, price ranges, and how to get what you want. They may network with providers and be better and able to get you special discounts.

They are the “director” of the wedding and coordinate all the last minute details to make them go-off without a hitch.

Granted, a wedding consultant costs money, they may be able to save more in time spent for you to do all the same tasks. A consultant may have cost-cutting ideas, should work within your budget, and may know the people and services that cost less.

Where do you find a consultant?

Ask wedding professionals, dress shops, family, friends, the yellow pages and recent brides. Talk with the consultant and get references, ask to see any photos or videos of weddings they worked on. Get a resume. Find out what wedding professionals they have worked with and contact those professionals. If they are a good, the references will let you know.

The Bridal Party

After you have announced your engagement to your parents and family and you have set a firm date, it is time to start thinking about your bridal party.

They smooth your train and calm your jitters. They pick up wedding planning slack as well as friends and family at the airport. Not only do they get your groom to the church on time but also get the tuxedoes back to the rental shop before you’re charged a late fee.

The friends and family you choose to be your attendants stand up for you, in more ways than one. Before you select the people who will be members of the wedding, get a handle on what they’re required to do. Here is a roster of the key players:

Maid or Matron of Honor – this can be a best friend, sister or mother, even a daughter from a previous marriage. There is not set rule that you must choose these people, you need to do some soul-searching and ask yourself who you want it to be. The person of honor can even be a male friend of the bride. There is no set number for this position, you can have one or two if you like. You may want to consider age as a factor. Your person of honor will need to sign the marriage license and in most states the legal age is 18.

This honor carries with it some major responsibility. Your person of honor will help you with choosing dresses, help you with wedding planning, invitations, and much more. They will be in charge of making sure the bridesmaids are ready and informed of plans and any changes. They may also hold a shower for the bride.

This person will also hold the groom’s ring before and during the ceremony until asked for. Will help you with your dress and bouquet before, during and after the ceremony. They may give a toast at the reception and help you depart for your honeymoon.

Other duties may include:

* Helps selecting wedding attire
* Purchases her own attire
* Helps others with attire, helps set-up alterations for bride, bridesmaids and flower girl
* Accompanies bride whenever requested on appointments
* Helps with invitations, favors, and decorating
* May give a shower for the bride
* Is in charge on wedding day to make sure maids are dressed and ready
* Precedes bride down the aisle
* Arranges veil and train during ceremony and other services for bride
* Responsible for holding and passing groom’s ring when officiant orders her to
* Signs the marriage certificate
* Responsible for helping bride in the receiving line
* Helps with keeping a time line at reception
* May give a toast at reception
* Helps bride changing clothes or leaving the reception
* At gift opening, records all gifts for bride and groom

Best Man – Right away you will want to ask the person whom you wish to be best man if they will stand up with you. This is a prestigious honor for your best friend, brother, or even your father. Again, there is no set number and you can have a lady friend or child from previous marriage. You may want to consider age as a factor, your person of honor is the one who signs the marriage license and in most states the legal age is 18.

The Best Man will be in charge of the groomsmen, making sure they are measured for formal wear and all the suits of clothing are complete and fit them well. They will make sure the groom arrives to the church or other activities on time. They may host a bachelor party for the groom. They will hold on to the bride’s ring before the wedding until the clergy asks for it. They will also give the first toast at the reception to the couple, and will make sure all rentals are returned on time.

Other duties may include:

* In charge of the grooms men
* Responsible for seeing all men are measured on time for formal wear and orders placed
* Master of ceremonies for rehearsal dinner
* Makes sure all men are ready with proper attire on the wedding day and informed of any changes
* Responsible for holding the rings prior to the ceremony
*Responsible for holding and passing bride’s ring when officiant orders him to
* Signs the marriage certificate
* In charge of giving officiant and others honorarium
* Proposes the first toast at reception
* Helps bride and groom in leaving reception and honeymoon departure

Bridesmaids/Grooms men/Ushers – choose your friends, brothers, sisters or relatives. Do not feel pressured because you were in their wedding, so they must be in yours. Choose wisely, truly good friends will understand. Also, consider the person’s preferences, they may wish not to be in the wedding party, but perform other duties in the wedding.

Bridesmaids

Traditionally, bridesmaids do not have responsibility other then taking care of their attire and standing up with the bride and groom. However, the bride or maid/matron of honor may require them to help with many things. From decorations and favors, to helping set-up the reception hall.

Grooms men/Ushers

Grooms men can act as usher or you may opt to have additional persons for ushers. Grooms men act as escorts for your bridesmaids and may take directions from the Best man. The bride and groom or best man can call upon the groom’s men to help with many wedding tasks.

Ushers seat guests at the ceremony. Ushers should start seating guests a half-hour to forty-five minutes prior to the ceremony. You should select one person to be head usher and he/she will supervise any special seating arrangements and inform the others. Ushers will offer female guests their right arm and escort them to their seat with any men to follow. They should give special consideration to the elderly or handicapped. Traditionally, bride’s guests are seated on the left-hand side of the church. After the ceremony, ushers will remove aisle runner and dismiss guests.

Flower girl/Ring bearer – Children can be a great addition to a wedding party, they can also be a nightmare. You will both want to discuss if you want children involved in the wedding party. The perfect age for a flower girl and ring bearer depends on the child. Most children ages 3-6 will take direction well, consider the child’s disposition and talk to the parents.

Flower girls

The flower girl’s parents are responsible for her attire, except for her basket. Traditionally, flower girls carried baskets of rose petals and strewed them along the bride’s path. However, today flower girls may carry a basket of flowers or a tiny nosegay. She will walk down the aisle immediately before the bride and stand with the bridal party or sit with her parents.

Ring Bearer

The ring bearer’s parents are responsible for his attire, except for the ring pillow. Traditionally, the ring bearer carried the bride and groom’s rings down the aisle. Today, decorative rings are mostly used on the pillows. He can stand with the bridal party or sit with his parents.

Mother of the bride

Traditionally, the mother of the bride’s role was that to help the bride with all she could. Today’s roll is not much different. Responsibilities include the guest list for the bride’s side, her attire, helping the bride select her gown and trousseau. She selects her dress and then informs the groom’s mother so both dresses are the same length with some uniformity. The bride’s mother is the last person seated before the ceremony and the first to be escorted out in the recessional. She heads up the receiving line.

Father of the bride

Traditionally, the bride’s father walks her down the aisle and gives her away. If parents are divorced, he may sit next to his ex-wife if they are still friendly. If not, or either is remarried, he will sit in the pew behind the bride’s mother. He would also be responsible for his guest list if divorced.

Parents of the groom

The groom’s parents have a relaxed roll if they wish or can take as much involvement in the wedding plans as allowed. Traditionally they host the rehearsal dinner and are responsible for their guest list. If the groom’s parents are divorced, they may split the responsibilities between themselves.

Friends and family that are not attendants

You can only ask so many people to stand up with you. So… how do you honor important family members and friends? Give them a part in the wedding. For instance:

Personal Attendant: A special friend of the bride that helps her on her wedding day with her dress, make-up, hair and any special requests.

Program Attendants: can be nieces, nephews, sons and daughters

Rice/birdseed/bubble attendants: will hand out rice, birdseed, bubbles, etc. to be showered on bride and groom after the ceremony.

Candle Lighters: can be your ushers, special friends or relatives that will light the candles prior to the wedding ceremony.

Scriptures/readers: can be a brother, sister, relative or close friend, you can have one or several to read scriptures or poems for the ceremony.

Musicians: can be friends or relatives that are musically talented to play or sing for the wedding.

Guest book: can be special friend or relative to stand by guest book, this person will ask everyone to sign the book.

Host/Hostess: Special friends or relatives who will host or oversee the reception. They will make sure your special requests are carried out and help with any coordinating at the reception.

Gift Attendants: Special friend(s) that will collect gifts and make sure they are handled and delivered properly to a secure location.

Prayer/blessing: Special person or relative to give a blessing at the reception prior to the meal.

Your Bridal Gown

The search for your wedding dress can be an emotional, exhilarating and surprisingly easy thing. Here you will find some advice from our experts in finding the perfect gown and salon that will help make it all possible.

You will want to work with a salon that will treat you right. Check within your local area to find a reputable shop, unfortunately, there are some bad eggs out there. Don’t get discouraged; check with your local BBB and talk with other brides, word of mouth is a powerful indication of a good or bad salon.

Call the salons you wish to visit and check to see if you need an appointment. Some salons are small or they may wish to devote all their attention to one bride at a time. You need to inquire with the shop if you are of large or small build to see if they stock samples in your size. The normal sample size ranges run from 8-16.

**Keep in mind, bridal gown sizes run smaller compared to an off the rack outfit. It is not uncommon if you normally wear a size 10 dress in ready-to-wear, and be a size 14 in bridal attire.**

You can easily begin your search with bridal magazines or on the web. Magazines and designer web sites will give you a wide range of styles to view. If a particular style or cut interests you, take the picture to the salon with you. The style may be right for you or it might not be. This will give you a good starting point of designs and styles you want to try on, and give the salon an idea of what you are looking for.

Ask yourself “How do I picture myself walking down the aisle?”

Most brides have dreamed of their wedding for years. Explain your ideas to the bridal gown consultant, if they are well versed in their field, they will be able to point out your features and what gowns will flatter or conceal. They will also be able to help you achieve the look you want.

Trying on different silhouettes (designs) of gown styles. This will allow you to find a style that flatters your body type.

Letting the consultant know your price range will also help. Many manufacturers may offer a certain gown in different fabrics, or the consultant might have a similar gown from a less expensive designer.

Dress styles and your figure

The right silhouette will flatter your best features and help conceal others. Here are some things to consider. Compare yourself to these body types and look for styles that fall in to the categories.

Petite (Five feet four and under)

Look for fitted waist.bodice, elongated lines, and delicate accents. Vertical lines and accents will help greatly, avoid horizontals. Look at empire, princess, A-line and sheath gowns with small collars and cuffs, you want to draw the eye up. Keep things in proportion with your size and avoid large skirts or anything that will divide you from the waist down.

Tall (Over five feet nine inches)

Look for dresses with large collars and big cuffs, you want to draw the eye down. Flared skirts and ball gowns work well to minimize the look of height if you wish.

Small Bust

A pleated bodice, bow front, halter top and off the shoulder bodice will help accent the neck and shoulders drawing attention away from your bust. High necks and empire waists also offer the same effect. You can also consider enhancers to achieve a more desired look.

Large Bust

V’d and modified square necklines, even high necklines with a keyhole yoke. Avoid cinched waists on gowns and tight fabrics.

Hourglass Figure

Ball gowns, Basque waists and V-line gowns will help capture this figure. A modified V neck or square neckline with vertical lines may help slim the bust and hip.

Full Figure

Princess line gowns, dropped waists and V-waists work well. Sweetheart necklines and jewel necklines are most flattering. Long sleeves work nicely also. Look for styles that draw the eye up to your face.

Slim

Detailed and heavily laced or sequined fabrics. Long sleeves, gowns with a crop-jacket effect work well.

Thick waist

Look for a lifted waistline such as an empire waist or A-line.

Wide hips

A-line gowns, portrait necks and encircling skirts. Avoid straight skirts or tight waists.

Four steps to a better fit

Take a minute to acquaint yourself with these measurement tips for you and your bridesmaids. Feel free to print this out and review it with your seamstress or dress shop.

Your dress will fit more comfortable. You’ll save alterations costs and time, and you’ll be able to speak with confidence about dress measurements.

Measurements 101

It is most recommended that a qualified seamstress or dress shop measure you. One that deals with or in bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses. Have a photo or description of the gown you are purchasing, the cut of the gown may make a difference in the size you order.

Remember, it is always better to order a little larger size then to try and let out a gown.

When being measured, it should be in your under-clothing (bra and underwear) for the most accurate fit. Being measured over the top of jeans or a heavy blouse can add one to two inches to a measurement! If the seamstress or consultant tells you they can measure over the top of your clothing, beware and find someone else to fit you.

When being measured, stand comfortably, with equal weight on both feet and arms resting easily at your sides.

#1 Bust:

Measurement should be taken around the fullest part of the bust. The measuring tape should be parallel to the floor, and should be fairly taunt, but not tight. This measurement and your waist measurement are the most critical.

#2 Waist:

Should be taken at your natural waistline.

#3 Hip:

Measurement should be taken 8-10″ below the natural waistline across the fullest part of the buttocks and hip.

#4 Length:

Dress lengths can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. A standard length is 58″ from your clavicle or hollow-of-the-neck to the hemline.

Gown preservation

The most important factor in gown preservation is providing a stable environment for your gown to age in. All materials that come in contact with your gown must be acid free. Archival products are specifically designed to provide this environment. Archival products are produced with no acidic content that can deteriorate your gown over time.

Once your wedding day is over, we recommend you dry clean all garments as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the easier it is for stains to bond to the material. We recommend a reputable dry cleaner or gown preservationist to perform the cleaning.

Proper gown management requires periodic access to the material in order to inspect and adjust the garment. Therefore, your gown should be in an easy to open the box, bag or muslin to perform these functions. Proper folding of the gown, using archival buffered or un-buffered tissue is necessary to ensure that major folds are protected. Gowns also need to have good air circulation in order to age evenly and avoid moisture buildup, which can lead to mildew and ruin the gown.

Some companies promote sealed containers as a method of preservation. Sealing the container makes it difficult or impossible to inspect the garment. Worse yet, plastic windows found in sealed containers often give off gasses that may accelerate gown deterioration. Sealed containers can often trap moisture inside allowing mildew to grow. They also restrict air circulation, which can lead to uneven aging of the gown. This “preservation” method does not offer a reliable long-term environment for your gown.

Ask that your headpiece be package separately. The glue, metal and rubber parts found in many headpieces can brown or stain your gown. For this same reason, you should remove any bust or shoulder pads in the gown.

Museums recognize only archival quality papers and boxes as a way to provide reliable long-term storage. A call to your local museum conservator will verify these facts, and can also provide a wealth of information on how to care for your precious garments.

Storage of your gown should be in an area with relatively even temperature and low humidity. DO NOT store your gown in a basement or attic. A cedar chest may be a safe place to keep your gown. Do not hang your gown from hangers. It should be folded flat.

Your Headpiece

There is such a wide variety in headpieces. It is helpful for a prospective bride to become familiar with the terminology. This way it will be easier for you to know and identify the styles and you can ask for them by name when shopping for your headpiece.

Here are a few to look for:

Chanel Bow: this is a large flat bow, usually of satin, fastened to a comb or barrette and worn close the your head or nape of the neck.

Coronet/wreath: A combination of thick materials braided into a fat ring and worn on the head.

Crown: A small round headpiece of fabric, lace, pearls or crystals worn high on top of the head.

Derby: A small hat covering half of the head.

Headband: Any combination of pearls, crystals or satin worn low over the forehead, positioned on top of the head or extending under the back hair on the head.

Juliet Cap: A small cap that hugs the back of the head.

Brimmed hat: A large brimmed hat covered in satin or made of different materials. Can be a western hat.

Pillbox: A brim-less, round, structured hat, worn on top of the head or tilted to one side.

Profile: A cluster of flowers, ribbons, pearls or crystals in a spray type pattern, attached to a comb and worn on the side of the head.

Tiara: A small crown with gems, crystals or rhinestones worn centered on top of the head.

Turban: soft fabric wrapped and draped around the head.

Veiling can be of multiple layers for the ceremony with most or all of the above styles. You can have the veiling made detachable on combs, fastened with Velcro or snaps so you can remove the veiling easily for your departure and reception.

Veiling support several distinct features such as:

Plain or uncut edge: Veiling is left unfinished along the edging.

Rolled edge: veiling is rolled and sewn along the edge for a more finished look.

Piped edge: a fabric piping is added giving the veil a more proclaimed edge. Piping can be of various sizes and finishes by sewing to the veil edge.

Ribbon edge: a to 1 satin ribbon can be added to the veil edging to carry out a look or add a dramatic touch.

Scattering of pearls or sequins: You can have pearls or sequins scattered throughout your veiling to carry out a design theme or add a touch of flare.

Multiple layers and lengths are becoming increasingly more popular. Here are some examples:

Ballet or Waltz lengths: A single or multiple layers of veiling that flow to your ankles.

Blushers: A single layer veil worn over the face, usually attached to a longer veiling from the back of the headpiece.

Cathedral length: Over 130 of veiling that fall from the headpiece to the floor.

Chapel length: Over 84 of veiling that flow from headpiece to floor.

Fingertip length: One or several layers of veiling in a length between 30 to 40 inches.

Shoulder length: Veiling measuring between 17 to 20 inches.

Poufs: Small gathering of veiling attached to the backside of the headpiece.

Now that you know some of the terminology, it is time to look for a headpiece that is right for you. Things to consider are:

Your Hairstyle: You should have your hairstyle in mind when choosing a veil. You might have your stylist fix your hair in the way you want before shopping for a headpiece. Ideally, your hairstyle may affect the piece you choose.

Your Gown: The cut and style of your gown may also dictate what style to get. When shopping for a headpiece, try your gown on along with it before you buy. If this is not possible, check with the stores return or exchange policy and compare the two style as soon as you can for color and look.

Your Wedding: The time of day, overall theme, even your religion can play a determining role in the type of headpiece you choose.

Try several headpieces on, once you find a style you like. Make sure the headpiece is comfortable, you will have it on most of your wedding day.

Shoes

It used to be a simple choice, white pumps or flats for your feet. Today’s bride has many more choices for footwear. Here are some hints and tips:

Start looking for your bridal shoes as soon as your gown has been ordered. You will want your shoes for any alterations. If shoes need to be ordered, they can take several weeks to arrive, if the size is not right, request the store reorder them to fit you feet. Shoes that are miss-sized can be painful and wear blisters on your feet. This is not a day you will want to worry about your shoes!

You can coordinate your shoe style with your gown and your personality! White pumps to decorated tennis shoes. High heals or slippers. The choice is yours, just make sure they are comfortable and enhance you look.

High heels or a medium heel might give you some extra height. Depending on the look you want, try on several heel heights with your dress. Make sure the heels offer plenty of support and have a wide spike for comfort and stability.

Consider your wedding site, is it an outdoor event. Does your ceremony site have thick carpet that could make it difficult to wear heals? Your reception site? Will you be required to climb stairs?

Once you have purchased your shoes, ware them around the house to break them in. If your feet do tire easily, purchase some insole supports for comfort. This is also a good idea for your bridesmaids.

Lingerie and accessories

Wedding lingerie serves a dual purpose, it can make you feel look and feel good! The right undergarments can cinch, enhance, lift and sculpt you, giving you a perfect look. Today’s wedding lingerie can also be wedding-night appropriate too, with a lacy and sexy look.

Here are some pointers on what you will need for a firm foundation and base:

Slip or petticoat: You can usually purchase you slip or petticoat at the same place you purchased your gown. The right combination of slip or petticoat can enhance your gowns fit and flare. Talk with your bridal gown consultant on which slip and fullness is right for your gown style. Make sure to wear your slip or petticoat for all alteration fittings.

Bra: The proper bra can define and emphasize your bust or minimize it. There are many styles of bras from strapless to pushups. You might even consider having bra cups sewn into your dress. This will eliminate the need for a bra. Try on several styles to see what one is right for you as for fit and comfort. Make sure you bring your bra to all bridal gown fittings.

Hosiery: Check with your consultant, do they carry bridal white of ivory hosiery? Some companies even put out wedding textures and patterns for your bridal attire.

Gloves: Does your dress or wedding style call for gloves? Wrist, elbow or scrunch gloves can enhance, and even detract from a gown. If you are considering wearing gloves with your gown, try on several styles. Make sure the fabrics match and the look is one that you want.

Garters: Have some fun with this time honored tradition. There are literally hundreds of garter designs. Pick one that goes with your wedding style or theme. Some brides wear two garters, one to keep, and one for the garter toss. Place the garter on your left leg just above the knee.

Wedding night lingerie: The lingerie you wear for your wedding night should be your choice. Choose from a simple nightshirt, to a racy teddy, or nothing at all.

Bridesmaid’s Dresses

Your attendantís dresses should complement your wedding gown, wedding style and degree of formality.

The bride will ultimately decide on the style and color the bridesmaids will wear, but you may request input from your honor attendant and the maids. Keeping there budgets and figures in mind, try to choose a dress that fits all the requirements and can possibly be worn again for different events. If you have been a bridesmaid in one or several weddings, you know that might be impossible to ever find a use for this dress again.

Most often, bridesmaids wear identical dresses. You can vary your honor attendantís dress slightly in style and color, but it should be in uniform with the others.

Shop for the bridesmaidís gowns as you would for your own wedding dress. Try them on yourself for fit and comfort. Talk with your bridesmaids about how much they are willing to spend. If you decide on a dress that is over their budget, consider paying a portion of the gown yourself to make them more affordable. Check with different bridal shops for prices or sales. Ask for quantity discounts if you are having several gowns ordered at once. See if the store has or will put together package pricing for ordering everything from them.

Order your bridesmaids gown 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding. Many manufacturers can take up to 14 weeks before sending gowns to a bridal store. Make sure all your bridesmaids are measured by a dress shop or a qualified seamstress. Bridesmaidís gowns can run one to two sizes smaller than off-the-rack clothing, so compare all measurements to the manufacturers sizing chart.

Bridesmaids that live far away may consider having their gown sent to them. Ordering the dresses from one source will ensure the proper style and color. The bridesmaid can then seek out a seamstress to have alterations done in her location.

Talk to your attendants about accessories such as shoes, gloves and jewelry. You should all agree on the specifics of the shoes, undergarments, hosiery and jewelry worn. Order all these at one time for your maids and again send these accessories to out of town members.

Junior bridesmaids can wear a more youthful version of the bridesmaidís gown. Check with the bridal consultant if you are having a junior maid and see if the dress manufacturers offer a different cut such as a higher neckline or longer skirt. Consider having a dress hand made if they do not, ask a seamstress if this is possible and order material from the dress manufacturer to match.

Your flower girls dress can match your bridal gown or the bridesmaids. Check into all the options you may have.

Mens Formal Wear

Black ties and “Loony Tune” prints, high button necks and double lapels. Tuxedos have come a long way from the traditional cut-away wedding coat.

Here are a few tips in choosing your formal wear:

In most cases, the groom and men will rent their formalwear from a store. Check with a tuxedo shop, bridal store or men’s clothing store to find most qualified suppliers and largest selection.

Look through bridal magazines or pick up some brochures at the tux shop to get an idea of the styles you are looking for. Many men do not know what they want in formalwear. There are usually so many different styles, colors and options to choose from, that it can confuse you before you begin. Having an idea of what you like will help tremendously.

Look at shops and stores that stock coats or have samples you can try on. You may like the look of a cut or style in an advertising picture, only to find out it does not look the same when you have it on.

Have the salesperson explain to you the different coat styles and what they recommend. Listen to their suggestions and take them for what they are worth.

Ask about different looks for your guys, while keeping a uniform style. Choosing a particular tux style that offers a different cut can give you the desired effect.

Try on the entire outfit before you rent if possible. The shoes you like may be uncomfortable compared to another style. The shirt collar in the tuxedo brochure may look good, but when you actually put one on, you may not like it on yourself.

Ask how soon rentals can be picked up and when they need to be returned? Can you get a discount if you wish to take the tuxedo with you on your cruise? Will the shop provide clean shirts and slacks?

Once you have decided on the formalwear, get all the men measured. It is recommended you have everyone measured no later than six weeks prior to your wedding. Out of town guys can be measured locally and call measurements in to the rental location.

A few days before the wedding, check to make sure all rentals are in and complete. Have your guys try their entire wardrobe on as soon as possible. If alterations need to be done, have them taken care of. Most shops include alterations in the price of the rental. Make sure everyone has a complete suit and all accessories are correct to the order.

After the wedding, have one person, usually the best man, collect the formalwear and return to the rental shop on time. Clothing with lost accessories, or that may have been damaged are your responsibility. Make sure everything is returned properly.