Bridal Showers

Bridal Showers

Traditionally, a bridal shower was an all-female tea or luncheon

Traditionally, a bridal shower was an all-female tea or luncheon at which guests shower the bride with presents to help her set up her new home. Today, bridal showers take many forms. They can be co-ed, have certain themes, informal barbecues or a formal seated brunches.

The brides role in shower planning is minimal, except to help provide the names and addresses of guests, and the location of any bridal registries. Usually, the honor attendant, bridesmaids, and/or close friends will host the shower.

If the bride is remarrying, there is no reason why she can not be given a shower. If they already own many basic items, guests may want to shower her with gifts that appeal to a special interest or hobby.

Here are some more shower tips and ideas:

Guest List

* Only those guests being invited to the wedding should be invited to the shower. One exception; office showers, which are typically thrown by coworkers and colleagues.

* At a traditional all-female shower, female relatives (mothers, sisters and grandmothers) and close family friends on both the bride’s and groom’s side are invited. If the shower is co-ed, invite men who also are close to the couple.

* If more then one shower will be throw, have attendants or whoever is hosting the multiple shower to tell repeat guests that they need only give a gift once.

* Invitations should be mailed at least three weeks in advance of the shower date.

* Invitations might list your home decorating colors and the place of your bridal registry to inspire gift selections.

When and where?

* Showers may be given from two months out to right up to the wedding day. In some cases, such as when the bride or important members live out of town, the shower can be held a couple days in advance of the wedding.

* If there is no time for a shower before the wedding, a shower can be given after the couple returns from their honeymoon.

* Showers can be held in a multitude of places, a restaurant, hotel, club, or private home.

* Keep in mind the work schedule of principal guests. If the shower is a surprise, check with the groom or her family to make sure she is available.

What happens at the party?

* Guests should arrive before the bride and gifts setup on a table.

* One person should write down gifts as they are opened. Another person may collect ribbons and bows from the gifts and make a bouquet or use a bow holder.

* Games, eating, chatting and gifts. This is a party so have fun!

* The bride may want to thank the hosts with a small gift, note card or flowers.

Shower Games

Get guests mingling with a few well-thought out shower activities. These icebreakers can help get a party going. Here are just a few:

Pin-the-Boutonniere-on-the-Groom

Blindfolded guests try to pin or tape a paper flower on a blown-up picture of the groom. The one that comes closest to his left lapel wins. (You might check with your local photo finisher or computer print shop and ask about poster prints.)

Toilet Paper Bride

Divide guests into teams of 3-4 persons and give each team a roll of toilet paper. Each team will then pick one person in the group to be the bride and they will construct a gown, veil, and bouquet out of the toilet paper for her. Let the bride choose the winner with the best design.

Bride-and-Groom-word-scramble

Take the bride and groom’s name and write them at the top of notebook paper. Ask guests to use the letters of both names and see how many different words they can make using them.

Outguess-the-Bride

A fun and racy game in which guests write on a piece of paper what the bride might say on her wedding night. The notes are then collected and read at random by someone other then the bride (She might recognize handwriting!) Then the bride tries to match the notes to the person.

Shower Themes

Giving the shower a theme to carry out the bride’s personal tastes or ideas is also a great way to throw a shower. Here are some you might want to consider:

Romance Theme

Ask guests to bring gifts that inspire romance.

Kitchen Theme

Guests bring gifts to set the bride up with her kitchen. Favorite family recipes, utensils and cookbooks are only a few ideas.

Office Theme

A great way to set the bride up with her own home office. Have guests bring gifts with an office theme, such as telephones, computer accessories, desk lamp, Rolodex, desk set and personalized pens, pencils or stationery.

Honeymoon Theme

This shower theme includes items and gifts to enhance the honeymoon trip. For example, if they are having a honeymoon in Hawaii, plan a luau. Gifts of luggage, guidebooks, traveler’s checks, and clothing all add to their honeymoon trip.

Booking a Limousine

Booking a Limousine

Limousines can vary greatly

Limousines can vary greatly in the number they can carry and their features. Be sure that the limousines you book have enough room for everyone that will be traveling in them.

Where to start looking? Ask friends, family or better yet, your wedding professionals for recommendations.

Depending on your budget, you may want to hire one limousine or several. You may wish them to transport you to the ceremony and reception sites. Here are some questions to ask and to look for in a limousine company:

* Book your limousine 4-6 months prior to the wedding. You may want to book sooner if your wedding falls on a popular date or around major events. (Prom, concert, gala, etc.)

* Use a limousine company close to your ceremony site. Many limousine companies charge add-ons or additional time for travel time and mileage. Ask about any hidden fees.

* Ask to see the car(s) before booking and a list of references.

* Ask if they provide special wedding packages or rates.

* Ask if gratuities are included in the price. If not, it is customary to tip your driver at least 15% of the total cost.

* Ask that the driver be in appropriate dress for your wedding.

* Specify all details in writing and make sure to confirm all details before the wedding day.

Consumer Tips

Consumer Tips

Unfortunately, the worst sometimes does happen. You wedding dress the store ordered comes in wrong or not at all, the cake gets knocked over at the reception, the photographers camera breaks and the film is ruined. Here are some ways to protect your wedding:

Wedding Attire:

Order the wedding gown and bridesmaids gowns six months or more in advance of the wedding date.

Provide the shop a date that is a week or two before your actual wedding date.

Pay with credit cards when ordering bridal gown or bridesmaids dresses.

Inspect and try-on all gowns when they arrive. Any defects or incorrectness should be corrected with right away.

Make sure tuxedos are ordered no less then six weeks before the wedding date.

Engagement/Wedding Rings:

Work with a reputable jeweler.

Have all major purchases appraised by an independent appraiser and insured.

DJ/Music:

Make sure contracts list dates and times the service is to be performed.

Specify the name(s) of DJ, bandleader, soloists or musicians that will perform in your contract.

Reception Site:

Pay special attention to cancellation clauses in the contract. If you cancel, are you still responsible for certain fees?

Are you locked in to using only Reception site staff such as: Caterer, bakery, etc. Check the prices if you are and make sure the prices are realistic and not over-inflated.

Photographer:

Specify any photographs you want or special poses.

Make sure your contract has a clause that in the event the photographs do not turn out, you will receive all monies back in full.

Florist:

Make sure the contract spells out the flowers and colors to be used in your arrangements. Have substitutes chosen if flowers you want are unavailable.

If service providers do not follow through with their contracts, you have several options. Hopefully you have paid the bills with a credit card, this will give you an upper hand when it comes to negotiation.

Renegotiate your final bill. Many service providers would be happy to reduce the balance due if they are in the wrong or on the end of a mishap.

Write a letter to them, express your unhappiness and complaints.

If the service provider will not negotiate, consider small claims court.

File a complaint against the company through the Better Business Bureau.

If the complaint is a valid one, and the service provider overstepped the contract, consider talking with a lawyer. In this stage of the game, money may need to be spent before you are able to collect your loss.

Hiring a videographer

Unique And Lovely Ideas And Inspiration For Weddings

A videographer can preserve the action on tape

Your wedding photographer can capture moments in time for you, but they can’t capture the sounds and movement. A videographer can preserve the action on tape that will last a lifetime for you. Here are some helpful tips on what to look for and what to do:

Check you local yellow pages, ask friends, relatives and other wedding professionals for recommendations. You might check with your photographer to see if they can provide this service.

Call several videographers

Call several videographers, check to see if they are available for your date and get an estimate on cost and find out what is included. Ask to see sample videos that you can take home and preview with your fiancé. These videos should be full length, not just wedding highlights. Ask to view several weddings for consistency and quality.

When you think you have found the videographer that will fit your budget and has shown you professional grade videos, make an appointment to meet with them.

Talk with your videographer about your wedding

Talk with your videographer about your wedding. Have they worked at your ceremony and reception sites? What ideas or plans do they have for capturing your wedding on tape?

Will you video the rehearsal and the dinner? Are there additional fees to do so?

Do they visit the ceremony and reception sites if they have not worked them beforehand to determine camera angles and special needs?

What type of equipment does the videographer use? Is it broadcast quality equipment? Do they have a backup plan and backup equipment?

What type of coverage is available? How many cameras and different angles will be used? How will sound be recorded?

Can we request special effects or what ones will be used? Can they show examples?

How will they dress for your event? Will they contact and work closely with your still photographer making sure there are no problems?

How will the reception be covered? How much time is included in the coverage? When does it begin and end? Overtime?

How long before the video is edited and ready

How long before the video is edited and ready? Can you be involved in the editing process? If you require additional effects and editing, is there an additional fee? Are extra copies available and how much? Can the video be placed on DVD? What guarantee do the tapes have? Will you keep a master copy on file and for how long?

Choosing a video package can also be tough. Look for a coverage that fits your wants and needs. The videographer may offer several different packages that range from video style and complete editing, to providing you with a raw, unedited tape. Ask questions of the different packages and know which one you are purchasing.

If all the above questions have been answered

If all the above questions have been answered to your satisfaction, and the videographer seems right for you, you need to retain their services. Look for all the details in a contract to include the times and locations the videographer will perform. Make sure you have in writing the videographer’s name that will perform the services and how many cameras will be used. Any special requests or additional services should also be noted and signed. Pay as little down as possible for a deposit with the remainder being paid when you pick up your finished product.

More wedding planning

More wedding planning

Your Guest List

The first place to start is to determine how many people your ceremony and reception sites can hold. You can easily find this out by asking the clergy and reception site manager. Invite too many guests and you could be cramped and in violation of local fire codes. If you are planning an outdoor wedding or reception, make sure you plan accordingly and have proper facilities and alternative sites in case of bad weather.

Another factor that can come into play is your reception budget. If you have a seated dinner and open bar you may need to limit the amount of guests. An alternative is to cut back and have a less elaborate reception to accommodate the costs of more guests. A buffet style dinner, cash bar and keg beer may fit more in line with the costs.

Once you have determined how many guests you can invite, you should divide the number in half or thirds. With halves, you can divide between both families, thirds you can divide between bride, groom and parents. Families and friends that live far away may not attend, you need to also consider this the equation and divide your list in other ways.

Who to invite?

Deciding on who to invite and who not to can be a major headache. You should make a short list in the beginning that includes immediate relatives and close friends. Be sure to include wedding party, officiant and any others directly involved with the wedding. It is not necessary for a friend whom is singe, or family member to bring additional guests. However, if you do wish to allow this, proper etiquette dictates you to include their name of this additional person on the inner envelope. Just including the words �and guest� is not deemed proper.

Once you have a base list of people you know you must invite, you can then expand on this list by adding more friends, coworkers, and business associates.

Wait! The list is too large now!

You can cut a list down by eliminating certain categories of people, business associates, social group or professional organizations. You may want to consider sending them a wedding announcement rather than an invite, or hosting an informal reception after the ceremony if you have many disappointed friends and acquaintances.

Kids or not?

Kids can add a lot of fun to a wedding, and also stress. Whether or not you include children in your wedding is up to you. Here are some things to consider:

Does the ceremony site have a separate room for children if they misbehave or cry?

A playroom and a baby-sitter might be a perfect combination to let the parents attend your service while the child plays. This is also a great consideration for the reception, have a room with toys, VCR and tapes, or a pool (if in a hotel). This gives the parents a chance to enjoy the reception a little more. A baby-sitter or two can be a blessing. Let your guests know a baby-sitter will be provided, especially if children are not readily invited.

You may also consider having kids meals at the reception. Talk with your caterer about fixing some fun foods just for the kids. Chicken, macaroni, cocktail franks, etc.

If kids are not included make it clear on your invitations by addressing the inside envelope to the parents only. Have friends and family discreetly let guests know children are not invited.

Choosing Your Invitation

Now that you have a your guest list, it is time to pick out an invitation. There are many invitation companies out there, you might check with several on style, price and quality. Ask to see books and samples to help you determine your style and what is available. Classic styles, contemporary, and photo invitations are some options.

Lettering styles can add variety and class, but can also add to the cost of your invitation.

Offset printing is the most affordable option. This is where the paper is pressed against a metal plate to create letters or designs.

Thermography or photo lettering may be a little more expensive. This process fuses ink and a printing powder to create a raised lettering style more classic to invitations.

Traditional engraving. Usually the top of the line, this process presses the paper onto a specially treated plate to emboss or “cut” the letters into the paper. The result is a lettering that is slightly raised from the page and embossed on the backside.

Font styles are another choice, when choosing a front pick one that is easy to read. Fancy fonts such as Old English Text (old English text) can be very hard to read. Pick a font that lends itself nicely to your invitation style.

Print colors again offer many choices. The standard classic is black, and many stationery companies do not charge additional for black inks. Color choices are offered in a rainbow of colors. You may also consider foil imprinting or pearlized print for an up charge.

You can have envelopes printed with return addresses, embossed, or lined with color.

Matching thank-you cards, R.S.V.P. cards and envelopes, envelope seals, napkins, matchbooks and special printing goods fall under your invitation order. When all is considered, it is not uncommon to spend a couple hundred dollars on invitations and all that goes along with them. Here are some places to cut the costs.

Sticking with white or ivory papers, colors usually cost more.

Stick with simple invitations. Invites printed with embossed papers, cut-outs and in-depth designs are more expensive.

Black inks cost less.

Oversized invitations and heavy papers may add to mailing costs.

Wording your Invitation

Before you put words to paper make sure you have the following information and it is correct. The date, time and day of the week your wedding is on. Correct spellings of names and addresses. Have an idea if you are going to request an R.S.V.P. or not.

Here are some sample wordings for you to choose, you may also wish to review many of the samples your invitation supplier may have. Remember to spell out everything in full.

Brides parents hosting:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen Smith
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Sarah Jane
to
Jeff James Jones
Saturday, the first of May
at four o’clock
First Baptist Church
Middletown, Iowa
Bride and groom’s parents hosting:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen Smith
and
Mr. and Mrs. Clay Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Sarah Jane
to
Jeff James Jones
Saturday, the first of May
at four o’clock
First Baptist Church
Middletown, Iowa
When the bride’s parents have divorced. The parents
whom raised you do the inviting. If that is your mother, and she has not remarried, then she may use both her maiden name and married names in the invitation (Mrs. Moon Baker). If she wants to drop the Mrs., she can, replacing it with her first name (Linda Moon Baker). It is also appropriate for her to use her first name, middle and married surname, along with Mrs. for example:

Mrs. Linda Maria Baker
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Sarah Jane
When divorced parents jointly issue the invitation:

Mrs. Linda Maria Baker
and
Mr. George Lile Baker
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Sarah Jane
When the bride’s mother is remarried or widowed:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of Mrs. Brown’s daughter…
If you are very close to your step father, you may wish to choose the wording “their daughter”.

When the bride’s father is a widower:

Mr. George Lile Baker
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter
Sarah Jane
When the bride’s father is remarried and doing the
inviting:

Mr. and Mrs. George Lile Baker
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter
Sarah Jane
Again, If you are very close to your step mother, you may wish to choose the wording “their daughter”.

Divorced parents sending two separate invitations may be an option if both parents want their names officially on the invitation but not written together. Have one invite to the ceremony and the other to the reception, both can be mailed in the same invitation.

Examples:

Ceremony Invitation

Mrs. Linda Maria Baker
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Sarah Jane
Ect…
Reception Invitation:

Mr. George Lile Baker
requests the pleasure of your company
Saturday, the first of May
at five o’clock
Knights of Columbus Hall
Burlington, Iowa
When the brides parents issue an invitation and the grooms parents are divorced.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen Smith
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Sarah Jane
to
Jeff James Jones
son of
Mrs. Paula Ann Jones
and
Mr. Clay Scott Jones
The bride and groom are hosting their own wedding.

The honor of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
Miss Sarah Jane Smith
to
Jeff James Jones
Have any questions? Please e-mail us and we can provide wording for many other situations.

Beyond the Invitation

There are more than just the invitations, here are several things your stationer can provide and you may wish to consider.

Engagement announcements – these can be mailed to friends and family as a formal announcement of your engagement.

Engagement part invitations If your parents are hosting an engagement party.

Wedding Announcements These announcements are sent to people whom are not invited to the ceremony or reception but who will still want to know about your wedding. Business associates, faraway friends, coworkers or social club friends. They should follow the same format as the invitation and addressed and mailed immediately after the wedding.

Wedding Invitations including any inserts such as:

Reception Cards

R.S.V.P. Cards these cards should include a return envelope and stamp. Traditionally, these cards are not used with formal invitations.

Map Cards These cards will help aid your guests in finding the ceremony, reception and hotels.

Hotel accommodation Cards you may request these from your hotel.

Rain Cards These cards inform guests attending an outdoor wedding where to go in case of bad weather.

Transportation Cards These cards let guests know about wedding day transportation arrangements you have made, such as buses or vans to pick and deliver them from hotel to ceremony and reception.

Parking Cards indicate parking arrangements and locations.

Between-the-ribbon Pew Cards

Table Cards lets guests know of your seating arrangements at the reception.

Place Cards usually are set to reserved tables for the parents, grandparents and special guests you are reserving a seat for.

Luncheon Invitations

Wedding Programs

Matchbooks, napkins, paper coasters, etc.

Thank-you Cards

Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

New Address Cards

Note Paper

Bachelorette and Bachelor Party Invitations

Addressing, Assembly and Mailing

Addressing your invitations by hand is the traditional and most personal way. However, if you have poor handwriting you may wish to ask a friend or hire a calligrapher or secretarial service. More and more we are seeing the use of computers for outer envelope addressing, although not recommended, it is becoming increasing more popular. We do still recommend hand addressing the inner envelopes. Do not use a typewriter.

Write out all names, streets, states, Etc. Only abbreviate Mr., Mrs., Ms., Jr., and Dr.

If several members of the family are invited, avoid the use of “and Family.” Address the outer envelope to the heads of the family and list everyone on the inner envelope.

When a female guest is divorced, you have a variety of addressing options. If she still uses her married name, you can address the envelope using that name, or use a combination of her married and maiden names. If she uses her maiden name address accordingly.

Address a widow with her late husband’s name: Mrs. Ralph P. Baker

Single women or girl address as: Miss or Ms.

Boy younger than thirteen: Master James McNeil

Assembling your invitations

If your invitations are folded, insert them into the inner envelope with the folded side inserted first with the typeface toward the back of the envelope. You want a folded and non-folded invitation facing so that the side with lettering will face the recipient when removed.

Place inserts such as reception cards, RSVP cards and maps, on top of the printed side of the invitation.

The inner envelope remains unsealed and placed in the outer envelope so that the guest’s name is visible then the outer envelope is opened.

Mailing your invitations

Be sure to have at least one or several of your completed invitations weighed for postage. Once determined, ask the postal attendant for stamps that may convey your wedding style; hearts, love stamps, doves, flowers…

Mail invitations six to eight weeks prior to the wedding.

RSVP Central

Donít let the idea of R.S.V.P.ís leave you scared.

If you find you are receiving a lot of regrets, make up a list of other people you would like to invite and send them invitations. It is okay to send invitations two to three weeks prior to a wedding.

If you have not heard from some guests, you may want to do some phoning. Ask family and friends to help. It is important that you have a close head count for your caterer and more so if you are having a sit down meal at the reception.

Invitation Q&As;

 

* How do announcements differ from invitations?
* Do we need to use an envelope seal to seal the outer envelopes?
* Should we include a map card and what information should it provide?
* What is a reception card?
* What is a reception invitation?
* When should thank you notes be sent?
* Why are two envelopes used and what purpose does each serve?
* How can I check on the correct postage for mailing?
* How far in advance should invitations be mailed to the guests?
* How is the inner envelope inserted into the mailing envelope?
* How many invitations should we order?
* Can we address the invitations by handwriting?
* Can we use computer printed labels to address the invitations?
* How is the inner envelope addressed?
* How should the following titles appear?
* Is it acceptable to write “and guest”?
* Should an invitation be sent to the following people?
* When addressing invitations is it appropriate to use abbreviations in names?
* When may a wedding invitation be addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Family”
* When should children receive their own invitations?
* When should Ms. be used for a female guest?

How do announcements differ from invitations?

Announcements are generally sent to those friends,
family, and business associates who were left off the
guest list because the celebration was too small to
accommodate everyone or because you are not
close to them, but they might still wish to hear the
news of your marriage. The announcement is not an
obligation, just a nice idea. Announcements are
never sent to anyone who has received an invitation
to the ceremony or reception.

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Do we need to use an envelope seal to seal the
outer envelopes?

Envelope seals are a nice added touch to
complement your invitations. Envelope seals are not
required, but can be applied to add a personal flair to
your invitations.

Although a seal is used, it is important still to seal the
envelopes properly, with the envelope seals being
used just for decoration.

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Should we include a map card and what information
should it provide?

If you are getting married in an out-of-way place or
have a lot of guests from out of town, you may want to
include a map card with your invitation. On the card
you should also have hotel information for your out of
town guests; this would include the reservation line
and rates for a few different hotels. The directions to
the hotels, ceremony and reception should include
information directing the guests from a major
highway or airport.

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What is a reception card?

The reception card is an invitation to the reception,
and it is often sent when the ceremony and reception
are held at different locations. The reception card is
enclosed with the wedding invitation. The reception
card comes in a set which includes the card itself and
the envelope. The reception card contains details
about the reception time and location.

The reception card is also used when the guest list
for the ceremony is larger than that for the reception.
Here, the reception cards would only be enclosed
with the wedding invitations for those being invited to
the wedding and reception.

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What is a reception invitation?

When the wedding ceremony is private and a large
reception follows, the invitation to the ceremony is
extended personally with a phone call or
conversation, or by a personal note. The wording of
the reception invitation is typically as follows:

Mr. And Mrs. James Howard Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding reception for their daughter
Jessica Anne
and
Mr. William Ham
Saturday, the sixth of June
two thousand
at six o’clock
Knights of Columbus Hall
Burlington, Iowa
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When should thank you notes be sent?

Every time you receive a wedding gift you should
send a thank you note. It is important that they be
sent out very soon after the gift is received. This
means that thank you notes can be sent our before
and after your wedding.

You also should send a thank you note for each gift
you receive for your engagement and your showers.

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Why are two envelopes used and what purpose does
each serve?

The outer envelope is the one that is addressed,
stamped, and mailed to the guest. The outer
envelope contains all invitation components. The
inner envelope is used to hold the invitation and
inserts, but only has the names of the people to
whom the mailing envelope is addressed.

For example a married couple’s inner envelope is
addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson” with
no first names or address. This allows the bride and
groom to be very specific as to whom is invited. For
example, if a close friend is invited and the bride and
groom want her to bring a guest (and they don’t know
the friend’s name), the outer envelope is addressed
to the friend while the inner envelope reads “Miss
Jones and Guest.” An inner envelope that reads only
“Miss Jones” clearly indicates that Miss Jones cannot
bring a guest.

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How can I check on the correct postage for mailing?

Go to the post office and weigh a complete invitation
set; an invitation with all of the inserts and an
invitation without the inserts so that way you will
know exactly how much postage to put on each one.

Be sure to do this because having your invitations
returned to you for lack of postage can throw off your
whole schedule.

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How far in advance should invitations be
mailed to the guests?

The rule of thumb is to mail the invitation six to eight
weeks before the wedding date. However, if you
have many relatives in various parts of the country or
are getting married during a holiday period, send the
invitations out ten to twelve weeks before the
wedding to give guests time to plan their travel
schedule.

For out of town guests you may also want to consider
sending out a “save the date” announcement which
will provide your guests with the wedding date and
hotel information three months or more prior to the
wedding.

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How is the inner envelope inserted into the mailing
(outer) envelope?

When two envelopes are used, the invitation (folded
edge first for a folded invitation, left edge for a single
card) and all enclosures are put in the inner
envelope, facing the back. The inner envelope is
then placed, unsealed, in the outer envelope, with
the flap away from the person inserting it.

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How many invitations should we order?

After you have assembled your guest list, figure out
how many married couples you have because they
get just one invitation, and count how many single
people you have. Also figure that children over the
age of 18 who still live with their parents should
receive separate invitations, while children under 18
are included on the parent’s invitation.

Always order extra just in case you forgot to put some
names on your guest list or to cover replacement
guests. To reorder more invitations (the minimum is
usually 25) is more costly than ordering the correct
amount initially.

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Can we address the invitations by handwriting?

Yes, handwriting the invitations is just fine. It gives a
personal tone when you hand write the names and
addresses. You can also use a calligrapher, but if
you want to save significantly on the invitations, you
and several friends can easily address the invitations
for a personal touch.

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Can we use computer printed labels to address the
invitations?

Printed computer labels, whether done on white or
clear labels will detract from the personal tone of
your wedding. We recommend not to do this. Instead
have yourself and/or some friends hand write the
addresses.

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How is the inner envelope addressed?

This can be less formal than the outer envelope. You
need to include the names of all invites at the
address including children. For a traditional wedding
you would put ‘Mr William Cash’. But for a casual or
intimate wedding you could put, ‘Bill’ or ‘Uncle Bill’.

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How should the following titles appear?

The following titles are addressed as follows:

Lawyer:
Outer Envelope – Ms. Mary Jones, Esq.
Inner Envelope – Ms. Jones

Physician:
Outer Envelope – Jane Doe, M.D. or Doctor Jane Doe
Inner Envelope – Dr. Doe

Professor:
Outer Envelope – Professor James Jon or James Jon
Inner Envelope – Prof. Jon

Judge:
Outer Envelope – The Honorable Jerry Law
Inner Envelope – Judge Law

Mayor:
Outer Envelope –
The Honorable Rod Carry, Mayor of Jamestown
Inner Envelope – Mayor Carry

Captain (armed forces, police force, fire department):
Outer Envelope – Captain Marc Masters, U.S. Army
Inner Envelope – Captain Masters

Minister:
Outer Envelope – The Reverend Barry Ebberhard
Inner Envelope –
The Reverend Ebberhard (Roman Catholics use Father)

Rabbi:
Outer Envelope – Rabbi Loren Stein
Inner Envelope – Rabbi Stein

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Is it acceptable to write “and guest”?

No, typically “and guest” is too impersonal. It is much
warmer and welcoming if you find out the name of
your friend’s guest and write their name on the
envelope. Another option is for you to find out the
name and address of the guest and send the guest
their own invitation.

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Should an invitation be sent to the following people?
(general questions)

Invitations should be sent to:

The person who performs the ceremony and their
spouse? Yes
The fiancé of an invited guest? Yes, You need the
fiancé’s name so that you can put their name on the
invitation of the invited guest.
The bridal party members? Yes
The groom’s parents? Yes
Family and friends who live too far away to attend the
wedding? Yes
Small children who are not invited to the reception?
A personal preference
People in mourning? Yes
Only one member of a married couple? NO
Only one member of an unmarried couple living
together? NO
Ex-spouses? A personal preference

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When addressing invitations is it appropriate to use
abbreviations in names?

No, it is not acceptable etiquette. Traditionally, all
names are spelled out in full and this tradition still
stands today. Do not abbreviate a person’s name or
an address.

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When may a wedding invitation be addressed to “Mr.
and Mrs. John Smith and Family”

1) When it is clear that you are inviting just the
people living under that roof, and not another relative
that lives next door.
2) When the children are young
3) When every person living under the same roof is
intended to be included in the invitation.

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When should children receive their own invitations?

Children who are over age 18 should receive their
own invitation if they are still living with their parents.
However, if you have extra invitations and there are
children in the home over the age of 13, it would be
acceptable to send them their own invitation. This
will be a personal touch and will make the children
feel special.

If children are not receiving their own invitation, their
names may be written on a line below their parents’
names on the inner envelope and do not have to
listed on the outer envelope at all.

When should Ms. be used for a female guest?

Use this for single women or if you unsure if the
female guest is married.

Choosing your florist

Your wedding flowers can say a lot about your wedding and your personal style. Silks or fresh, they will add to your ceremony and reception site, give complementary color against you and your bridesmaids dresses, and add a touch of color to your groom and guys.

There are so many choices when it comes to flowers, and it seems just as many choices in florists. Here you will find some information and questions that will help you determine which florist may be right for your wedding.

You will need to start looking for a florist and contact one early in the planning stages, ideally 8-12 months prior to your date. Get recommendations from other service professionals as well as family and friends. Give the florists a call and make an appointment to talk with them and see their work.

When meeting with the florist, check out their shop. Do they work from out of their home or have a shop? What is their business traffic? Do they specialize in weddings?

Ask to see arrangements in silk or fresh. If they are designing arrangements for a wedding that you can view, ask to see them.

Look at fresh flowers the florist has, do they look healthy? Do arrangements in the shop look full and vibrant?

Ask the florist for suggestions, try to have in mind what you are looking for, does she listen to you wants and seem willing to create what you wish for? Does she have suggestions on what you can do to enhance or lessen the costs of the order?

Ask around to several florists and get a ‘ball park’ cost for your wedding flowers. Keep in mind, price is an important factor, many florists will try to work within your budget.

Once you are comfortable with a florist, you need to ask some questions before you contract them such as:

Have you worked at my ceremony and reception site before? What suggestions do you have for enhancing the sites with flowers and decorations?

Do you recommend silks or fresh flowers and why?

Will you be able to make up or do you have a sample bouquet that I can see before deciding on a type of bouquet for design, size and colors?

Can you provide candelabras and plant stands for arrangements at my ceremony and reception. Will you decorate these? Will you or can you transport them from the wedding to reception? (you may wish to use these as backdrops for your cake area or other reception areas)

Keeping in mind the ceremony site (air-conditioned or not), time of year, flowers in season and heat factor. What flowers do you recommend?

How will you ensure or guarantee my flowers on the wedding day? Is there a back-up plan in case of an emergency?

Will you personally deliver and set-up the arrangements? Will you stay and pin flowers for groom, groomsmen and others?

Can you provide other decorations other than flowers, such as balloons for the reception, centerpieces, and flowers for cake table or floral cake topper?

Do your preserve the wedding bouquet after the wedding? If silks are used, do you have suggestions for re-creating different arrangements (such as centerpieces) with my bouquet or other arrangements after the wedding?

What will the total cost of my order be? Is there any overtime or additional costs I need to be aware of? What is your payment policy?

If all the questions are answered to where you feel comfortable, get it all in writing as to costs, what the florist will provide with an itemized list. Make sure she/he provides you with information of who will design the arrangements and who will deliver them. Provide the florist with contact information for your ceremony and reception sites and a timeframe of when and where you wish your flowers delivered and set-up.

Ceremony Flowers

You and your bridesmaidís bouquets will be a focal point in your wedding. You will want to have arrangements with some impact, yet not be overpowering. Here are some helpful tips and flower facts to consider:

Your bridal bouquet will need to compliment your wedding style, dress design and your body size. As there are many different dress styles, there are different bouquet designs that will compliment or detract from them. For example, a sheath style gown with its long lines will look its best with a small bouquet or an elongated bouquet design. A very elaborate dress with detail on the bodice and skirt may benefit with a bouquet design that is held to the side. A very petite bride can be easily overwhelmed with a large bouquet.

Talking with your florist, they will be able to make suggestions as to the design and size you will need. If possible, ask for a sample bouquet or similar to help illustrate the design.

Choosing your flowers used can depend on the season, color and sizes of the blooms. Flowers that are in season are usually less expensive, look healthier and will last longer. Your florist can help you in choosing in-season blooms. Another alternative would be silks, which can sometimes be less expensive and are available all year round.

The classic wedding bouquet is all white, with roses and freesia. However, wedding floral arrangements today are based on your own personal style and theme. Consider blushing pastels, vibrant reds and yellows, even a mixture of wildflower colors. Blooms such as Cala lilies can keep with the traditional white, while adding a very distinctive flair. Remember to have your florist make up a small toss bouquet that resembles your bouquet.

The attendantís bouquets are often different in size and color from the brideís. You may even choose to have your attendants carry candles, bibles or other items decorated with flowers.

Traditionally, flower girls carry baskets of loose flower petals to toss in the aisle before the bride. This tradition is to give the bride a soft bed of petals to walk upon. Check with your ceremony site, some churches do not allow toss petals as they can be messy and guests might slip on them. An alternative to loose petals can be a miniature bouquet or basket of blooms.

Groom, groomsmen, fathers and other special men traditionally wear boutonnieres on the left lapel of their coats. The groomís boutonniere should be different from the others, usually of the same bloom found in the brideís bouquet. Men other than the bridal party that may wear a boutonniere are the officiant, musician, reader or soloist, family member and host.

Corsages for mothers, grandmothers and other special women should be of colors chosen to compliment their dresses. A traditional corsage is pinned to the dress on the left shoulder, however, you may wish to consider a wrist corsage or have mothers and grandmothers carry a single rose or small bouquet of flowers. Other women who may receive a corsage include officiant, musician, reader or soloist, family member, host and personal attendants.

You will also want to consider your ceremony site and have arrangements or floral decorations to accent the site. You will want to work with your florist to determine what, if any arrangements and decorations may be needed, and their size. Small arrangements can be lost in a large site, where too large of arrangements and decorations can be distracting.

Work with your florist on decorating the candelabras, providing greenery for the pews and other structures such as piano, organ, and railings. If you are having a candle light ceremony, your florist might be able to provide help with placement and provision of candelabras and accessories. Remember, the idea is to enhance the site, not to overwhelm it with flowers and decorations. You or your florist must be an artist when working to develop an overall site plan.

Reception Flowers/Decorations

Your reception can be enhanced with a few simple arrangements, or a lavish display from centerpieces to floral arches. Depending on your style, budget and reception site, you may wish to heavily decorate or add just a few simple touches. You will need to discuss with your florist what they can provide. Some florists can provide everything you would want and need for a price.

Your reception flowers and decorations should carry a uniform look and echo the colors of your wedding. Floral arrangements, table centerpieces, balloons, and lighted greens around tables and the room will all add to the ambiance and style you wish to obtain. Floral arrangements should be placed in areas where guests will mingle and focus their attention. Buffet tables, stages, mantels, staircases, the main entrance and cake/head tables will be main focal points.

Guest tables may receive centerpieces of floating candles, floral arrangements or theme items. Keep these centerpieces below eye level to encourage conversation and as not to obscure guest’s views of the room.

Metal arches of flowers or balloons can create a stunning effect for entryways and help divide rooms.

Head tables and cake tables might require some extra attention. Look behind the tables, are there doorways, light switches or fire equipment that can be obscured? White plastic latticework can create a beautiful textured backdrop for very little money and easily divides a room.

You might also talk with your reception site coordinator, the site itself may have decorations you can use.

Preserving Your Bouquet

You can preserve your wedding bouquet by first talking with your florist before your wedding. Let them know that you wish to preserve your wedding bouquet. They can then make suggestions about incorporating flowers that dry well. Silks are also an alternative. Your florist may provide a freeze dry process or offer to preserve your bouquet for you, know your alternatives and discuss with them their suggested method.

If you have fresh flowers, start preserving your bouquet at the reception. Put the bouquet in a place as to not be disturbed. You may request a floral box to help in this matter.

Before leaving on your honeymoon, you or a person you appoint can start the preservation process. Hang the bouquet upside down in a dark, dry place such as an attic for about two to three weeks. Once the flowers have dried, they are extremely fragile, handle with care. Use the bouquet to decorate a wall or shelf, place it in a shadow box or inside a wedding montage box. Do not place the bouquet in a plastic or sealed bag as it can attract moisture and easily mold or deteriorate.

Another alternative to your bouquet is to create potpourri from the dried flowers and leaves. Remove all the petals and leaves from the stems while they are still fresh and place them in a single layer on a sheet of newspaper in direct sunlight for about a week or two. Later, place the petals and leaves in a glass bowl and add aromatic potpourri oils for fragrance and place in a potpourri pot or bag.

You can press your flowers in an old traditional method. Place flowers in a single thin layer in newspaper to protect book pages, place between the pages of heavy books with added weight on top of the covers. In two to three weeks, remove the flowers and glue them to the pages of your wedding album.

More about wedding planning

Super Easy Wedding Ideas You Can Do

Choosing you Officiant

For some, choosing a clergy-member is easy, if you have been a member of a parish for any length of time. For others, this can be an emotional decision. If you are both from a different religion, you may need to consider the differences in beliefs in both and talk about what is important and compromise.

Once a decision has been made and any compromises made, meet with your clergy. You will want to get a sense of his/her style and personality. Are they sincere and interested in your plans and dreams as a new couple, do they welcome you and invite you to join the house of worship?

If you are planning a civil ceremony, you will only need to contact the town hall or courthouse. They can tell you who in the area is qualified to perform civil ceremonies, usually a judge or justice of the peace. You will want to meet with this person to determine if he/she is right for your wedding.

Interfaith ceremonies may require you to hold your ceremony outside the house of worship. Some religions are very strict on beliefs and marriage; talk with the clergy to find out what can be done. Seek out other interfaith couples and talk with them may give you leads on what to do.

See more about photos from weddings here.

Personalizing your Ceremony

Every relationship is different, so why shouldn’t every ceremony be different. Here are some ways to add uniqueness and individuality to your wedding ceremony without getting in the way of tradition.

To begin, your ceremony setting can add a lot of personality to your style. Outdoor weddings, at-home weddings and alternative ceremony sites can say a lot about the two of you!

The time of year or a holiday wedding can add special meaning. Just keep in mind; major holidays can sometimes limit your guest’s ability to attend.

The ceremony itself may have a lot of tradition and personal writings included. Speak with your officiant about your own vows or changes in the ceremony itself. These changes will have to be approved, and you may want to work with your officiant to create your own ceremony.

Reversing your positions at the altar, where you and your groom face your guests will give them (and you) a very different view of the ceremony.

At very small weddings, have your guests gather round you in a circle for the ceremony creating a circle of love.

Welcome your guests as they arrive to the ceremony site.

Create a wedding program that reflects your personality. For example, a bride and groom that were filmmakers listed their bridal party and participants as “The Cast”. The program listed each name, their role, and a brief bio on each friend with a twist of fun and thanks.

Include parents in the processional – this is a Jewish custom that can be used in any ceremony.

Deceased or divorced parents

When parents are divorced, remarried or deceased, you may need to rework your ceremony.

If your father is deceased or has not been involved in your raising, you may wish to seek alternatives to walking down the aisle. Walking down alone is an option, or having your mother, brother, sister, relative or close friend walk you down. Your children or that of the groom may also escort you, or you may choose to walk down on your groom’s arm.

If parents have divorced and you are close to both, it is still acceptable to honor your father by asking him to escort you.

If your parents are divorced and your mother is remarried, you may wish to include your stepfather. Having both fathers escort you can be a great option if they get along. You will want to discuss this with them.

Civil Ceremonies

A civil ceremony can be big or small event, with varying degrees of formality. You can include many traditions in the ceremony, depending on the officiant. What will probably not be included are references to god or religious services.

Finding an officiant to provide service, you may wish to contact the marriage license bureau in the town where you wish to wed. Family and friends may also know someone that is qualified.

When it comes to civil ceremonies, your location can be almost anywhere. Most civil ceremonies are performed in a judge’s chambers or a courthouse. You can use your imagination and have your ceremony on a beach, home, hotel, garden, historic site, on a ship in the ocean, or in a park.

The dress of a civil service can be tailored to the mood and setting of the service, also to your personal preferences. A formal suit or dress can be worn, or casual clothing.

Writing your own vows

You want to make your ceremony more personalized? You have dreamed of speaking your wedding vows that are straight from the heart and not the traditional “I Jane take you John…”

Here are some tips on writing personal vows:

Before you start dedicating a lot of time and emotion to the writing of your vows, talk it over with your officiant. The church or officiant may have rules or guidelines they must follow that may or may not allow you to personalize your vows. Your religious customs will play an important role in your vows, there may be wording you must include. Present your vows in writing a few weeks before your wedding to your clergy for approval.

Study the traditional wedding vows of your faith, are there meaningful words and phrases you want to keep and use? Read the Bible. There may be other passages you may wish to incorporate.

Your personalized vows should be just that, personalized. Writing your own vows gives special meaning to one another.

Include children from a previous marriage in your vows, or include a special vow that is given to them. Talk with your clergy about special ceremonies to include the children.

Keep the vows short. They should be under three minutes.

Practice, practice, practice! If you can, recite your vows from memory for the wedding. Provide your clergy a copy of the vows so they can prompt if you loose your thought.

Put your personalized vows in your program. This will allow guests to read them and know what was said.

Your personalized vows will show the strength of your love and reinforce your commitment to each other.

Writing your Wedding Program

You will want to discuss with your clergy about your program. Most traditional programs list the sequence of events and cast members along with other special people.

Programs can be professionally printed, photocopied or printed off a computer. You can color coordinate them with your invitation or your stationer may have a matching program. Check with them as to the many options available to you.

You will want to include in you program your full names, the time, date and place of the ceremony. Your clergy, parents, cast members, and other special wedding helpers. You may want to include an “In Memory” for deceased parents, grandparents or friends. You may consider writing a thank you for attending message to your guests and your new address if you can.

Your officiant will help you with wording and placement of your program, and he/she can suggest including explanation of religious or ethnic customs.

Ceremony Music

Music can lift the spirit and set the mood for your ceremony. Here are some tips on choosing your wedding ceremony music.

The best place to start is by talking with your officiant and your musician together. What music do they recommend and what music is objectionable. What types of fees are requested and what equipment and instruments are available for use?

Songs for the Prelude and Postlude

At a traditional religious ceremony, the music usually begins about 30 to 40 minutes prior to the prelude. Discuss the timing with your officiant and musician. You will want music played during the seating of guests.

After guests and the bride’s mother have been seated, there may be a solo or special music performed. Talk with your officiant about these choices. Some religions may allow only certain songs or music be played.

For the processional, you and your wedding party will want to walk down the aisle to joyous music. The more traditional songs are:

Trumpet Voluntary – Clarke

“Spring” The Four Seasons – Vivaldi

Allemande, G Major Suite – Pachelbel

Canon in D – Pachelbel

Wedding March – AKA ‘here comes the bride’

Your ceremony may have additional music with solos, a choir, taped music or organ music. Your officiant will help you select times for the music in the ceremony, the most common are times between readings and lighting of the unity candle. Just remember, the more songs you have in your ceremony, the longer the ceremony will take.

Talk with your officiant about special or non-religious music you would like played during the ceremony. He/she may request to pre-screen the music and approve its use. Keep in mind; you can always use this music as your first dance if the officiant feels it is not appropriate.

Your recessional should be bold and announcing. You may wish to leave to the tune of the “Bridal March” or “March no. 4” aka ‘pomp and Circumstance’ Talk with your musician to discuss options; he/she will have advice for you.

Postlude music usually consists of selections by your musician and will last until all guests are out of the sanctuary.

Unity Candle Ceremonies

The unity candle symbolizes the very essence of the wedding ceremony. Two taper candles represent the couple’s individuality. They are used to light a single center candle as a visible symbol of their commitment to each other. There are many variations on the ceremony and the individual details are completely up to you. Here are some ideas to help you as you plan your own ceremony.

A Christian Unity Candle Ceremony

The text of this unity candle ceremony mentions the meaning of the unity candle and taper candles, as well as the significance of the entwined cross and rings. Today, [Name] and [Name] make a loving commitment to follow the greatest Commandment of all: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” They do this in hopes that their union will become a symbol of God’s promise to merge two lives into one.

The two distinct flames represent your lives to this moment; individual and unique. As you light the center candle together, the entwined rings symbolize your two lives joined in dependence and growing maturity. Your plans will be mutual, your joys and sorrows will be shared alike. The cross is a reminder of your faith in the Lord who enriches your marriage in every way.

Extinguish the two, and you are forever united in God’s love.

Humanist Ceremony

This ceremony signifies the heritage each is bringing to the marriage and the blending of these two heritages.

Those who have passed beyond this life share our community in a different way. Their roles in the lives of [Name] and [Name] are no less remembered and honored as we savor today’s joyous moments. Join with us, then, in fond memory of all these people, and in particular [Names of deceased family and friends]. In their memory, let us be silent together.

In all the quiet of this very special moment, we pause, also, to give thanks for all the rich experiences of life that have brought [Name] and [Name] to this high point in their lives. We are grateful for the value in which they have found by their own strivings. We are grateful that within them is the dream of a great love and the resources to use that love in creating a home that shall endure.

We are especially grateful for the value in which has flowed into them from those who have loved them and nurtured them and pointed them along life’s way. The heritage each brings to this marriage will continue to be an important element in their lives, but now will be shared between them. In commemoration of the merging of these two rich heritages and in memory of those, living and dead, who were part of these heritages, I now invite [Name]’s parents and [Name]’s parents to bring forth lighted candles, representing each of the families of this couple.

[Name] and [Name] will now light the flaming chalice with these candles, symbolizing the union of their two families in this marriage and the rich heritage each brings to it.

As [Name] and [Name] light the chalice, they do not extinguish their flames. Although they are embarking upon a new and unique relationship in the union of their lives in marriage, they, nonetheless, retain their own separate and unique identities and personalities.

Note: The parents of the couple each obtain a lighted candle from opposite sides of the front of the sanctuary or room in which the wedding is taking place, lighting it from stationary candles that have been burning throughout the service. They, in turn, present the lighted candles to their respective child. The couple then jointly lights the flaming chalice at the center of the sanctuary. This ceremony signifies the heritage each is bringing to the marriage and the blending of these two heritages. If the third paragraph is used, the candles are not extinguished as the chalice is lit, but are placed in holders alongside. Appropriate music should accompany this ceremony.

Spiritual Ceremony

Performing over 50 unique weddings per year, Joyce Gioia specializes in providing couples with very spiritual, customized wedding ceremonies. Incorporating as much or as little religion as each couple dictates, she works with them to design and craft ceremonies that are a reflection of how they feel about God and each other. Here is the text of one of Dr. Gioia’s unity candle ceremonies:

Now, we’re going to engage in a ceremony of spiritual symbolism. Ancient sages tell us that for each of us, there is a candle, a symbol of our own Inner Light, but that no one can kindle his or her own candle. Each of us needs someone else to kindle it for us.

When two people fall in love, they kindle each other’s candles, creating great light and joy and glorious expectations.

Now, [Name] and [Name], I’d like you to remember when it was in your relationship that you first realized you were truly in love and wanted to spend the rest of your lives together. And holding that thought . . .

[Name], take this candle, symbol of the inner light in [Name], light it by the eternal light, with the dedication to rekindle it again and again, whenever necessary. And [Name], take this candle, symbol of the inner light in [Name], light it by the eternal light, with the dedication to rekindle it again and again, whenever necessary.

With these candles, we can see how to achieve a beautiful marriage. In your marriage, you will try to bring these lights, the symbols of yourselves, closer and closer to each other, until they become [join the flames] one great torch of light; a radiant symbol of love, joy, peace and harmony. [hold flames together] This is the mystery of the union two becoming one.

Yet, it is vitally important to remember that there are always really two [divide the flames] in a marriage, each with his or her own desires, yearnings, dreams and wishes. And these must be respected and responded to with great love, with great compassion and with genuine tenderness.

We know that it is the prayer of your beloved, as it is the prayer of each of us here, that you will continuously light these candles of love, so that there will always be light and joy, peace and harmony in your hearts and in your home.

Please kiss each other.

About the Author Dr. Joyce Gioia performs all kinds of weddings, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Interfaith, Co-Officiated, Humanist, Native American, Civil, Buddhist, Moslem and any combination thereof. Her multicultural wedding ceremonies are often enhanced by her competency in other languages.

How to Prepare for your Candle Ceremony

Before the ceremony begins, place the unity candle on a small table near the altar. If you have an on-site coordinator who may have specific instructions, be sure to check in advance. To prepare for the ceremony, it is a good idea to light the wicks for a moment. (We know you won’t be nervous or anything…but just in case, your candles will light much more easily.) Oh, and who’s got the matches?

There are several popular options for lighting your taper candles. You can have your parents come forward to light the side tapers as a symbol of your two families coming together as one. At this point, some couples choose to present their mothers with a rose. If you wish, the minister or best man and the maid of honor can light the tapers. Or, you may light the tapers yourselves from a candle on the altar.

To Extinguish or Not To Extinguish…

When it comes to your unity candle ceremony, that is often the question! While some folks feel that you should extinguish the candles to symbolize your commitment to one another, others argue that to emphasize your individuality within your union, you must leave the tapers lit.

Whether or not you extinguish the taper candles is a personal decision and, like many aspects of your wedding planning, is entirely up to you.

If you choose to extinguish your tapers, try this reading…

As [Name] and [Name] together light the center candle, they will extinguish their own candles, thus letting the center candle symbolize the union of their lives. As this one light cannot be divided, neither will their lives be divided. If you’d prefer to leave your tapers lit, try this one…

[Name] and [Name] come into their marriage relationship as individuals and they do not lose their identity, rather they use their individuality to create and strengthen the relationship of marriage. Therefore, the three candles remain lighted, one for each of them and one for their marriage, as symbols of their commitment to each other and to a lasting and loving marriages.

Planning Advice

Starting early in with any wedding planning is the key and carries through to the reception. Popular reception spots book up early along with caterers and DJ’s and other good service professionals.

Before you start your reception planning, have a few details about your party such as:

Budget: how much can you spend in each area before meeting with a service provider.

Size: how many guests are you planning to have?

Special Requests: do you require a certain food or music, do you want table services? Make sure the service providers you contact can provide you with your special requests before investing a lot of time or any money.

Once you have this information, your next step is to compile a list of providers you would like to call and interview. Create a list with your families on what you are looking for. Then call around for availability and estimates.

Finding a reception site

Your reception site can be a grand hall or a church meeting room, a community center or a club. Depending on what type of reception you are planning your site can be as imaginative as you wish to get.

How do you find the perfect reception site? You need to focus on what the two of you want, then spend some time and view only those sites that meet you specifications.

Where do you find reception sites? Check with your local chamber of commerce as well as other wedding professionals for sites. Look in the yellow pages, local bridal magazines and also check with motels and convention centers. If you are wishing a more unique reception site, check with wineries, lighthouses and historical buildings/societies.

Once you think you have found the perfect site, here are a few questions to ask:

Rental fee and what does it include? How much to reserve the site and what extra fees might be added? How many hours does the fee cover? How late can the event go?

Are other services available and if so, what are the charges? (e.g., doorman, coat check, valet parking)

Is Parking for guests easily accessible, enough space and are there any charges (e.g. meter parking, parking garage, etc.)

How many people can the site hold comfortably, seating and space available for a sit-down meal or buffet?

Will you have the site exclusively or do they hold more than one event at a time? If so, how are the facilities divided? How is privacy ensured?

Can you decorate the night before the event? What times can you have access to the site? What restrictions, if any do they have on decorating the site?

What type of restrictions does the site have? Can you use outside sources (e.g. caterers, DJ’s, bartender) or must you use their staff?

Is the site air-conditioned or provide adequate heat depending on the weather?

Is there a dance floor? What size? how many people can it hold at any one time?

Bathrooms are adequate and clean? Is there a changing room for the wedding party?

Will the site manager be on hand during the event? If not, who will be in charge?

Does the site carry liability insurance in the event a guest is injured?

What is the cancellation or refund policy?

All these questions need to be answered before you sign any contracts or exchange any money. Make sure all requests are agreed to in writing and any uncertainties are answered and fully understood.

When you are ready to “Book” the site, make sure you receive any copies of agreements. Get a date and time confirmation on the reservation, and an outline of all the details and prices. Get in writing of any security deposits paid and when they will be returned.

Avoid reception rip-offs

Some caterers and reception sites have been know to take your booking fees and go out of business, or book another wedding for the same day then ask you to switch. Here are some tips to avoid being ripped-off.

Find out if your site will take responsibility for anyone they sub-contact.

Ask for references, then call them.

Check with the Better Business Bureau in your area about the business you are considering.

Pay with a credit card for everything. This gives you recourse with the credit card company if the service provider does not come through and is unwilling to work with you to solve the problem.

Out of Town Guests

Your guests – Letís give them a warm Welcome!

Let your out of town guests know how much you appreciate all their efforts to get to your wedding by making them feel especially welcome. Here are some tips for the red-carpet treatment.

Accommodations

Well in advance of your wedding day and before you mail out invitations, inquire with hotels and inns near your ceremony and reception sites about availability and rates. Reserve a block of rooms (You should be able to get a group rate). Send reservation forms, prices and the hotel or inn phone numbers or business cards with your invitations to out of town guests.

You may wish to create a welcome basket of fruit, chocolate, doughnuts, anything to say thanks for attending our wedding. You might include a list of area restaurants, map to ceremony and reception, and any special activities. You should also list phone numbers for you, your groom, and family in town for guests in case there is a problem.

Ask the hotel staff to place the baskets or other information in each of your guestís rooms, or have them given to your guests at check-in.

Transportation

Make a master list of arrival times for guests coming by plane, bus, or train. Then ask friends, family and attendants to meet the guests and transport them to their lodging destination.

Transportation to the church and reception can also be a challenge. You might want to check with hotel or car rental for a van or shuttle service. In some areas bus rental may be available to carry a large amount of guests to and from the activities.

Activities

To make guests feel especially welcome, try to line up or notify them of activities. Guests with children will appreciate this, especially if they are arriving a day early and are not participating in the wedding or invited to the rehearsal dinner.

Make a note of local points of interest– shops, parks, beaches, historical sites, etc. Let the guests know if there is a pool at the hotel or Inn for their use.

If the reception is held at hotel or Inn, and you have guests traveling with children, you may want to consider hiring a baby sitter or two. An additional room at the hotel for child sitting may allow grown-up guests to enjoy the reception a little more, while the children have fun swimming, watching videos and playing games.

Hiring a caterer

Here is some “Food for Thought” when hiring a caterer.

Just like your reception site, you will want to acquire the services of a caterer early (minimum 8-12 months prior to the event if possible).

Depending on your reception site, you may work with an outside caterer or you may have to use their contract or in-house services. When working within the reception site, you may work with the banquet manager to plan out the entire reception from food and drink to decorations, tables and wait staff. The reception site may sub-contract these services or use their own staff and equipment.

If your site does not provide this type of service, suddenly you find yourself contracting and working with caterers, bartenders, waiters and rental companies to supply your reception. You may wish to look for a caterer that can provide all these services for you and act as sort of a “Contractor”, some provide this service for a fee. If you are using a wedding coordinator, they can also provide this service.

When checking out a caterer, you may wish to ask the following questions:

What is the estimated cost per person/plate for a seated meal? Buffet? What does the meal include? Do you provide drink? Added cost?

What is the wait staff-to-guest ratio? (this is very important for a seated dinner, usually one waiter for every 10-12 guests.)

Is there a set menu or can it be modified? Can they accommodate special dietary restrictions for you and your guests?

Has the caterer worked at the reception site before?

Can you arrange to check out a food display or catering at another reception or banquet? Can I sample the foods to be on the menu at my reception?

Does the caterer provide table linens, table service and clean up? If so, can you view the linens and tableware? (Make sure the patterns will work for you and that plates and silverware are in good condition)

How soon before the event does the caterer need a final head count?

What is the payment policy and is tipping included or additional? What types of additional charges might you expect besides those of food and beverage?

Does the caterer have proper license and is state certified? If they will be providing liquor, do they have a liquor license? Does the caterer carry liability insurance?

How much time does the caterer need to set-up at your reception? How long will they stay? Will food be available for late guests or throughout the reception? If food is left over, what happens to it? (you may want to keep a tray of sandwiches or salad if you are having a lunch the next day to open presents or for family)

How much is overtime and what is the cancellation policy?

If all these answers will work for you, check again to make sure the caterer is open for your wedding date, and secure the service. Make sure you read and understand their contract and any questions answered, and all special requests put in writing.

Reception food

One way to make sure your guests have a great time at your reception is to feed them, and feed them well. This does not mean you have to feed them New York strip steak or Lobster, just make sure there is a variety of food and everyone has plenty to eat.

Before shopping for a caterer you need to have an idea of what foods you will have at the reception. This will depend on several factors such as time of day, season, your tastes and your budget.

The time of day your reception will be held can vary the menu. If having an early morning wedding, a brunch or breakfast may be appropriate. An afternoon affair may include a seated lunch or buffet. Mid afternoon may consist of hors d’oeuvres, cake and beverages. Early to late evening may consist of a seated dinner or buffet.

What is the ‘norm’ for wedding receptions in your area? This may play in to the cost factor as many caterers tend to price for their area they work in.

The season you hold your wedding may also help you determine what foods to serve. Some foods may be more traditional or ‘in season’ during certain times of the year.

Your personal tastes and budget are what ultimately decide your reception menu. Your caterer should be able to put together a menu that reflects your personal tastes and stay within your budget. Foods should compliment each other while also providing what you want. Your caterer can make suggestions for your menu, ask him or her and they will be happy to help.

Wedding Cake

The serving of wedding cake began back in the Roman era when a bun or wheat bread would be broken over the bride’s head. The crumbs that landed were a symbol of good luck and fertility. In the seventeenth century, French bakers would stack the buns and coat them with icing, creating the first wedding cakes that were eaten by brides, grooms and guests.

Today, wedding cakes are as much an art as the tradition. Your cake can say a lot about your personality and style with the design of your cake. There are so many options that it can be hard to choose just the right one. Take a look at bridal magazines, cake decorator books, photos and displays your bakery may have.

Once you have in mind the design you want, it is time to find the right bakery. Check with friends, family, other brides, and your service providers (reception site, caterer, and photographer) for references. If you have a picture of the design you would like, call the bakery and make an appointment to talk with them. Have an idea of how many guests you will have, this will help determine the amount of cake you will need.

When you meet with the bakery, you will need to ask some questions such as:

What is the price per serving? Wedding cake? Sheet cake? (depending on your location and the bakery, serving per piece can run $1.00 per serving or more. Sheet cakes are considerably less, you may wish to consider this if your cake design will not allow for a large number of servings, or you are looking to cut costs.)

What flavors of cake and icing are available? Can you sample them?

Are their added costs for different or multiple flavors?

When and how will the cake be delivered and set-up at the reception?

Can you provide a groom’s cake? Cost? (The groom’s cake is traditionally cut and sent home with guests from the reception, it may also be served at the rehearsal dinner.)

Shopping tips for your wedding cake:

Contract your bakery about 6-8 months before the wedding date. Some bakeries only take a few cake orders for a weekend and you could find yourself looking for another bakery.

Talk with the bakery and ask them for recommendations on types of cake, flavors and designs. He/she may have suggestions that you may not have thought of or recommendations for cake if the reception is outside or you plan to have the cake set-up for a lengthy period of time.

Make sure you have provided the bakery with contact information on the reception site and information about set-up times. If the florist will be providing fresh flowers or greens for your cake, provide the bakery with contact information so they can coordinate this also.

Put it all in writing, make sure the contract spells out everything from the size and design of the cake, to the delivery time and date.

Preserving you cake:

It is considered good luck and an omen for long life together to preserve the tope tier of your wedding cake to eat on your first anniversary. You can easily carry on the tradition by following these steps.

1.Encase the cake tightly in plastic wrap and then double rap in aluminum foil or put in a specially designed cake freezer box.

2.If you have wrapped the cake in aluminum foil, also put the cake in an airtight container to help prevent freezer burn.

3.Put the cake in a deep freeze or in the back of you freezer until time to unfreeze.

4.To unfreeze, place cake in fridge for 48 hours to thaw, then place at room temperature for 2-3 hours and serve.

Reception Beverages

You caterer or reception site may provide beverages as part of the agreement or at an additional charge. They sometimes charge by the drink, bottle, keg, person or combination thereof. The charges may also depend on the types and brands of beverages served.

To save on costs, you may ask if you can provide your own liquor. Many times you can buy liquor at a discount store for much less. Some sites may allow you to bring in keg beer, but will not allow you to bring in hard liquors.

To conserve money, some liquor may be eliminated from the bar. Eliminating an open bar and have a cash bar only may also be an option. Consider your guests tastes also, keg beer may be a more inexpensive option for all with no bar all together.

If you will be buying your own liquor for your reception, this guide will help you decide how much to purchase.

Consider your guests, what are their tastes and drinking habits?

Remember, people tend to drink lighter drinks (beer, wine) in the summer and heavier drinks (mixed drinks) in the winter months.

As a general rule, calculate one mixed drink per adult per hour or two lighter drinks (beer and wine coolers).

The time of day your reception is to be held will also help determine, an evening wedding reception will consume more drinks than an afternoon reception.

Talk to your liquor store or supplier, can unopened liquor be returned? Untapped kegs? It is always better to have a little extra than to run out early.

Reception music

Your reception music will set the tone, classical for a very formal gala or rock and country for a more lively party. Consider the following when choosing your reception music:

The size and acoustics of the reception site can determine the size of the band or DJ. If you are having a small trio, will they be lost in a large hall? A loud band or DJ might overwhelm a small room.

Your tastes and style may lead you to consider a band that plays only a small variety of music, or a DJ that can satisfy the many requests and age groups of your guests.

Sound and light shows may add or detract from your reception. Consider a band or DJ that will accommodate your requests.

If you want a live band, ask for references from friends and relatives. When contacting the band, ask how many musicians and what instruments they play. Do they have a demo tape or can you arrange to see them perform at another wedding or event. Do they have a list of songs, and what type of music do they prefer to play. Does the band perform special requests or will they play pre-selected songs?

If the band is right for your event what will you need to ask before booking them?

How long will the group perform? How many breaks will they need and how long will the breaks be? Can they provide taped music or other entertainment between the breaks?

Ask if they will provide the service of M.C. for your reception.

What type of dress will the musicians wear? Is it in a manner suitable for your reception?

Ask if the band has worked at your reception site before. If not, they may request to visit the site prior to the reception and determine any special needs prior to the date.

Require a contract that is specific! Make sure the contract includes the names of the musicians and the hours they will be performing. The contract should also include any overtime charges in writing, alternatives and no-show clauses. A payment of fifty percent is standard to book a band, with the remainder of fees paid after the performance.

More reception entertainment ideas

Who says a reception can only have a DJ?

Other options can include comedians, magicians, clowns/mime, laser light shows, and fireworks. Just about anything else you love!

You can easily find entertainers by looking in your local yellow pages under “Entertainers”, you can also check with your local newspaper.

Talk to the booking agent to discuss your needs and preferences. Check to see that your date is open and find out the length of the performance, fees and overtime.

Check to see if you can review a tape or watch a performance at another event.

Find out, if any, what special equipment may be needed such as stage, spotlight, sound system, etc. Will the performer provide this or can your reception site provide these items?

Double check to make sure the performers dress is appropriate for your event.

Get in writing the name of the performer, the times the will perform, and any details such as skits, routines and stunts they will provide within your contract.

Typical deposit is 50 percent to book the performer with the balance being paid the day of or after the event.

Reception Don’ts

You have come this far and have a lot of planning and money invested. Here are some tips to keep your reception moving and guests entertained and happy to stay!

Make sure you do not have a long delay between the ceremony and reception. If you can, do not leave guests hanging between one event and another. If this is unavoidable, have someplace guests can go such as a hospitality suite or host a pre-reception gathering. For out-of-town guests, make sure they have directions to these sites.

Do not devote major reception time to the photographer. If you are totally against seeing each other before the ceremony, have the photographer take as many photographs as they can before. Formal photography after the wedding should be kept to a minimum and take no more than forty-five minutes or less.

Cake in the face at the reception may be hilarious, but in many instances is very messy. You have spent a lot of time and money on your attire and your look. Do you really want it ruined by cake frosting? Talk to your fiancé beforehand and let him/her know that you would like to be fed nicely.

Suggestive garter removal can be a little lewd, talk with your DJ about this beforehand.

Dollar dance, auctioning off the bride and groom dance, and other dances can sometimes get in the way of getting you guests on the dance floor. Talk to your DJ or bandleader about these dances or other entertainment they may have planned. Make sure you are informed and know what to expect.

How to make your reception unique

Many wedding receptions follow a similar path, here are a few ways to make your reception stand out for you and your guests!

Working with your photographer and videographer you can create very special features at your reception. One product that your photographer can easily offer is a signature portrait. This portrait is an image of the two of you from an engagement or other romantic photo session and enlarged to a 16” x 20” or larger, framed with a double matt around the photo of about 4” in width. The matt board should be a white or off white in color. Proving a lighted easel and permanent thin markers, ask guests to sign their names and a short message around the mat board, filling it completely with signatures and messages of love creates a long lasting keepsake.

With your videographer, talk to them about creating a “reflections” presentation. This is a video of still photographs put to music of you and your fiancé from your childhood up to your wedding. The images are then put to music in a photomontage, and shown at the wedding reception on a TV or via a video projector for your guests. Copies of the video can be given to your parents as gifts.

Ask guests to bring photographs of you and them together. Provide a large board and attach the photos to it as guests provide the pictures. This makes for a great conversation piece and creates a great keepsake for you!

Have you DJ announce or you can personally toast any milestone anniversaries, birthdays or special events such as graduation, new baby, etc. of family and guests at your reception.

If you are comfortable, introduce each of your wedding party personally to your guests with the aid of the DJ’s sound system. Tell your guests a little about each bridal party member, at the end, toast your bridal party and parents with a special thanks.

You can do a similar introduction with your bridal party by creating a “Cast Sheet” giving information, introductions and relationships about these special friends. These sheets are then printed up and placed on guest tables.

Working with your videographer, request he/she get video testimonials from your guests. These words of wisdom can be fun and creates a cherished memory captured on tape.

Party Punch Recipes

Use our punch recipes to make your get-togethers extra special.

These five punch recipes have been provided and rated by the Wedding Expressions staff as being our favorites for taste. You will want to take in to consideration the punch contents if your guests have certain food allergies.

Give these recipes a try, make smaller portions by cutting the amounts in half. Invite your friends over to help make them, and try them all to see which ones you like best.

Color the punch using different flavors or a few drops of food colorings.

* Please Note: some of these punch recipes will not work with “Fountain” punch bowls as they contain fruit and pulp that may clog and/or damage a pump motor.

Mix well, and have fun!

Kool-Aid Punch

Makes 4 Gallons:

24 oz. can of Kool-Aid Powder (tropical punch, cherry or grape, will determine color of punch)
2 cans 32 oz. pineapple juice
2 cans 12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
9 quarts of water
2 2-liter bottles of ginger ale (add just before serving)

Mix all contents except ginger ale in a 5 gallon pale with lid. Chill for 10-12 hours. Add ginger ale before serving and mix.

Cranberry Cocktail

Makes 2 gallons:

1/2 gallon cranberry cocktail
1 large package Jell-O (mixed fruit or raspberry) dissolved in 1 qt. hot water
1 32 oz. can pineapple juice
1 can 12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
2 quarts water
1 2-liter bottle ginger ale (add just before serving)

Mix all contents except ginger ale in a 5 gallon pale with lid. Chill for 10-12 hours. Add ginger ale before serving and mix.

Pineapple Jell-O Punch

Makes 3 gallons:

3 large packages of peach Jell-O dissolved in 2-qt. hot water
2 32 oz. cans pineapple juice
2 cans 12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
3 quarts of water
1 2-liter bottle ginger ale (add just before serving)

Mix all contents except ginger ale in a 5 gallon pale with lid. Chill for 10-12 hours. Add ginger ale before serving and mix.

Sparkling Punch with Fruit Ring

Yields 24 servings:

2 cups crushed ice
4 cups seedless green grapes
4-6 small orange slices
1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
3 – 32oz. bottles cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
2 bottles non-alcoholic white sparkling grape juice, chilled

In a 6-cup ring mold place crushed ice, fruit and enough cranberry juice to cover. Freeze ring mold overnight.

To serve, place ring mold in warm water to loosen. Carefully un-mold and place ring in punch bowl. Add remaining cranberry juice and bottles of sparkling grape juice.

Fresh & Fruity Punch

Yields 36 1/2 cup servings:

2 (1 liter) bottles sparkling grape wine (non-alcoholic can be used)
2 (1-liter) bottles club soda
6-8 cups raspberries and/or strawberry slices
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries chilled and sliced
2 12oz. cans of frozen Orange/Peach fruit juice

In a large punch bowl, stir together frozen punch, fruit, club soda and sparkling grape juice. You can garnish by placing fruit also on top of the punch.

*Pineapple or any favorite juice combinations can be substituted for the orange/peach frozen juice.

Photography Tips And Tricks That Really Work

TIP! To take professional-looking photos, you should use a professional-quality camera. A dSLR camera is a great option for taking high-quality shots.

You could take better pictures by focusing on a few things. You need some tips to show you how to truly use the camera. The right information will help you create the best photos you can. Keep reading for a variety of interesting photography tips.

TIP! You shouldn’t neglect the foreground as many novice photographers do. Add some interesting elements or colors to your foreground to create a better frame for your landscape.

In order to take professional photographs, you need to have a professional camera. For the best photos, look into buying a DSLR camera. This is the type of camera most photographers use, and if you desire quality photos you will need this as well.

TIP! Be careful when packing cameras and other photography equipment prior to a trip. Take the lenses you think you may need and don’t forget to pack additional cleaning items and batteries.

It is a common misconception that a sunny day is perfect for photos. In reality, taking photos in the direct sun is one of the easiest ways there is to ruin an image. Too much sunlight causes pronounced shadows and glare, differences in saturation in different parts of the photo, and can make it hard for human subjects to keep their eyes open. Early morning or twilight are much better choices for photo shoots.

TIP! Most importantly, photography should be fun. Photography will help you remember a certain time or event that was important and that you may want to share with others.

While holding onto the camera, your arms should be closely beside the body. Hands should be beside and under the camera. This will minimize shaking and produce clearer shots. Supporting the camera from underneath, as opposed to holding the top, will also make it much harder for you to drop your camera.

Raw Images

TIP! You will have to play with ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The picture exposure is dictate by these three items.

Take a lot of photos when you are trying to improve your skills, but buy a memory card with a large storage space. With a large memory card, you do not have to worry about not having enough room on your card to hold additional pictures. The additional information your camera can hold is also useful for photographers who choose to shoot RAW images. RAW images are those that have the most detailed information about a photograph that a camera can take in before the images are produced in a different format. The information provides the photographer with additional choices during post-production regarding various aspects of an image.

TIP! If you like the idea of becoming an old-school, film-and-darkroom kind of photographer, you can get yourself off to an inexpensive start by searching your local second-hand shop for a film camera. Black and white ISO 200 film will take beautiful photos with an old time charm.

You will have to play with ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Those three things affect your picture’s exposure. You don’t want to overexpose or underexpose a picture, unless you are going for a certain look. If you try out the different features and how they work together you can find what works best for you!

TIP! Whether you want to enter photography or just improve your photo quality, learn correct composition. As with anything artistic, the composition determines if the photo is of the highest quality possible.

Once you have chosen your photo and are going to press the button, make sure to stay still and not breathe. When you move quickly, even if the movement is minute, it will interrupt the shot’s clarity and ruin a shot. Take a moment before taking the picture to gather your breath and ensure the shot is straight.

TIP! Make sure you take note of natural lighting. Early morning light or late afternoon glows are best for taking photos outdoors.

Putting your models at ease is important, especially if they are unfamiliar with you. Someone taking pictures can easily appear to pose a potential threat. Be engaging, talk to them and ask for their permission to take their pictures. People should know that it’s art and not a privacy invasion.

TIP! Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea to wear white for a photo. Many people use their cameras with the “auto” settings, and the camera tries to adjust the focus and exposure based on readings it takes from the subjects.

Finding another photographer to mentor you or joining a club can improve your photography skills. You can pick up certain techniques from others, but you do need to strike out and develop your own style. Compare the stylistic differences between photos you both took of the same object.

TIP! Make sure you read the manual that came with your camera. The manual is often a big, thick bulky brick.

There are no secrets for being a better photographer. All it takes is learning through experience, and paying attention to results. If you have a digital camera, you’ll probably end up deleting some of your pictures: you don’t have to develop them all if you don’t like them. You will get better and better as time goes on, taking shots of everything and judging them later on to evaluate how you might have gotten a better photo.

Are you itching to shoot some dewy, rain-spattered subjects? You can easily create this look by using a spray bottle and lightly misting water on your subject.

TIP! Use a white balance which is manual to take your photos. Doing so will alter the way the picture “feels” and also puts control into your hands.

When photographing families, couples, or groups of people, consider giving them some tips on what to wear ahead of time. Matching colors are not necessary, but complementary shades will greatly enhance the overall results. Warm and neutral colors will be most attractive for pictures in natural environments. If your subjects absolutely have to wear bright, bold colors, try to get them to wear at least one item that is black in order to avoid a clash of colors.

TIP! Usually, you need to choose whether you’d like to expose shadows of a subject or whether you’d like to expose highlights instead. On the other hand, if you take two pictures, using different conditions, you can use software to blend the two together into one image of perfection.

Try to take your photographs quickly. The ultimate shot may last a short period of time, so make sure you are always ready for it. People can tire holding a smile, animals can run, or you could lose that “perfect” candid moment and then the moment will have passed. Do not worry excessively with getting all of the settings just right on your camera, or you will risk losing the shot.

TIP! A tripod is helpful for getting a good shot of a landscape. You don’t want a perfect landscape shot to be ruined because the camera jiggled at the wrong moment, so make sure your camera is resting on a steady base.

You can use creative methods to produce a silhouette image. Most use the sunset for a silhouette, but there are other ways to accomplish this too. If your background is brighter than your subject, you could see a silhouette. The perfect silhouette can be achieved by positioning a bright artificial light behind your subject or by placing your muse in front of some very bright windows. Remember however, that this method can cause you to focus on unflattering features.

TIP! Before you begin shooting snaps and firing off flashes, give thought to the concept you’re looking for. Give yourself time to think about what you are trying to capture and convey, then make notes about the creative ideas that can make your photographs even better.

To turn photography into a lifelong hobby, it is vital that you invest in the best camera equipment. Many people who pursue photography as a career like to use name brands, but you should also remember that there are other manufacturers whose products can work really well.

TIP! Fast-moving subjects require you to set your settings well. If improperly set, your camera will take a blurry picture.

Sharpness is something you need to understand and especially where in an image it happens. Generally speaking, you will see the most sharpness in the middle of the lens and the image. The focus becomes less sharp on areas outside of the middle of the frame.

TIP! Pictures of people may be more than a simple face shot. There are so many attractive parts of the body that are used as subjects of photos.

As this article has demonstrated, photography is an excellent method of capturing an incredible moment. In order to be a great photographer, it’s going to take lots of research and practice, but once you start seeing those amazing shots coming out, it will be so worth it.

Photography

Want To Have A Dream Wedding? If So, Read This

Planning your wedding is huge since so many pieces must come together to have a smooth wedding day. It may be difficult if you have a busy schedule. You may choose to hire a wedding planner or decide to do it yourself. This article will help guide you in the right direction.

If you decide to cater your own wedding party, go to the big wholesale stores, like Costco. You will get more food for a better price if you shop wholesale. See if your friends can chip in for food costs.

Wedding dresses are one of the most expensive things to be purchased when planning a wedding. When shopping for your dress, consider dresses that may not be categorized as a wedding dress. A bridesmaid dress could be perfect and not as costly as a wedding dress. Even if this dress is not perfect and you need some adjustments made to make it your dream dress, it could still run you quite a bit less then an actual wedding dress.

Have your wedding on the property of friends or family. If you know a person with a large backyard or farm, you can get rid of a huge wedding cost. Saving money on the venue will allow you to hire people to set up and clean up.

Avoid over-dieting just to fit your dress! Not eating any food can leave you feeling dehydrated and lethargic on your big day. You wouldn’t want to pass out. A good idea is to get a dress that has a corset back; this way, you can keep it on or take it off on your wedding day.

Use food that has an ethnic theme for the reception. Too many people serve up chicken and steak, so go against the grain and spice things up. Variety is essential to a wedding dinner to make it memorable for all the right reasons.

The first thing you have to think about is the person you are marrying. There is no reason to hurry things–you have an entire lifetime with this person! You have to consider why you want to live with this person and work on the things that could be obstacles in a marriage.

Never go on starvation diets just to fit into a dress. All you are going to do is tire very easily and not have the energy to enjoy the big day you have been torturing yourself to plan. The last thing you need is to pass out as the vows are being given. Buy a dress that has a corset back instead for more flexibility.

If you wish to look more stunning on your wedding day but are strapped for cash, consider renting diamonds. This will allow you to look stunning without actually having to invest in the diamonds.

If you need to look great on your wedding day but money is a bit tight, then considering renting rather than buying any diamonds used in the wedding. This will give you the stunning look that you desire but will not cost you a lot of money, allowing you to stick to your budget.

When it comes to the decor of your wedding, spice things up with small, but meaningful decorative items. Take the ribbon you use in a bouquet for instance, and use the same ribbon for table centerpieces, your hair or your gown. Those little details make all the difference when it comes to your whole wedding day coming together.

Coordinate small touches into all the aspects of the wedding decor. Use a similar ribbon for your bouquet as that on your gown or your centerpieces. These details will help your wedding seem perfect, and will show that you have thought about making this day special.

Put some time and efforts into your vows to make sure your wife or husband will remember this day. The institution of marriage is lifelong and marked by willingness to enter into a major commitment. When you are saying your vows ensure your spouse knows and understands that you love them with all of your heart.

If you cringe at the thought of purchasing an extremely expensive yet incredibly unhealthy wedding cake, there are other options available. You should consider getting in touch with local bakeries and specialty boutiques to inquire about individual portions that are healthier. There are many bakeries that will prepare low-calorie cupcakes for you, or can find ways to cut the calories from a cake. Whether they use gluten-free ingredients, a healthy fruit filling, a calorie free frosting, or something else, it’s sure to be better for you than the alternative.

Be sure the disc jockey you employ for your reception knows which songs you want and which sorts of songs you do not want. It might be specific genres you wish to avoid, or even particular songs that relate to a past relationship. Make sure that let the one you are marrying know as well.

Check around for photographers who have glowing credentials. You never want to hire a photographer who doesn’t fit your style. Look for online reviews to find great photographers.

You could get help from someone else who is attending the wedding. They could help you carry your gear. Your assistant can also be useful when it comes to group shots and rounding up all the required family members.

For destination weddings, a fantastic gift to give your guests is a basket full of goodies that is delivered directly to their hotel room. Include gifts that are sure to be useful while on location at the wedding, like sunglasses, tourist maps, disposable cameras, hats, and pamphlets that detail all of the best attractions in the local area. Another nice gesture is to include a restaurant guide, since people do need to eat after all.

See that the lighting at the reception venue has the ability to be dimmed. This may seem like a minor factor, but many couples like dimming the lights for a first dance, and switching to brighter lights for the remainder of the event. Ask the prospective venue about it, before choosing.

Try having your reception midday. Your guests will drink less alcohol during these hours, which cuts down on your bar needs greatly. Lunch receptions are generally less expensive than evening ones and give you the freedom of having more food choices or taking the money you saved in this area and putting it toward another aspect of your wedding.

When making wedding dinner seating arrangements, be sure to have even numbers of people at each table. Professional wedding planners usually group the people at each table by age as it increases the chances of people finding something that they can talk about.

Provide your guests with an online itinerary of events so that everyone, including out-of-town attendees, know what they should be scheduling and planning to attend. It is important that you let people know about events, such as the rehearsal they need to attend; this ensures that they show up at the appropriate time, when they’re needed.

If you have the budget, consider a cruise as the venue for your wedding and just invite those who are dearest to you. This can help ensure your honeymoon follows the ceremony’s ending. Call around to different cruise lines to see if any are running wedding specials.

Getting a relative or friend ordained online can give him authority to officiate the wedding ceremony. This makes the wedding a bit more personal, and also means you don’t have to pay the fee for a justice of the peace. But do not mar this important day by breaking the law; verify that it is permitted in your region.

If dinner isn’t being served at your reception, you should consider renting comfortable furniture instead of having tables for everyone to sit at. Your guests will be more likely to interact if they are in a comfortable setting with lounges and chaises. You can use sectional pieces to create areas for relaxing throughout the reception venue. In addition, your guests will relax more when sitting on plush, comfortable seats and be more likely to have a good time.

Consider borrowing a special piece of jewelry from a friend or family member. This “something borrowed” will enhance the way you look and feel and add a special touch to the day.

Wedding Planner

You don’t have to go all out when it comes to purchasing things like centerpieces for the tables in your wedding. Even though ornate centerpieces are very pretty, there is beauty in simple designs as well. This will allow people to converse without any distraction, improving the experience for your guests.

Research your wedding planner in advance. Follow the lead of fashion designers and stylists who create “look books” and mood boards comprised of fabric swatches, imagery and other inspirational tidbits that can serve as a starting point for the finished product. Magazine clippings, other pictures and anything else you find can help you communicate your desired vision to a wedding planner.

Make sure that your wedding theme is cohesive throughout all of your decor elements, even the flowers. If it is a vintage theme, you will want a colorful palate of flowers that hit on the nostalgia of the theme. An array of flowers can be brought into a retro theme.

A gift registry is a wedding tradition. To ensure a more pleasant event, make sure your guests know that a gift is not a requirement. Give them a lot of options at a lot of different price points. This will keep people both comfortable and happy.

Add drama to your floral arrangements by using different elements of varying heights. Make use of taller vases for long stem flowers with compact heads. Surround the taller vases with shorter, more voluminous flowers like hydrangeas, peonies, or rosy-hued sweet peas. Short and tall blooms can help to distinguish your wedding.

To get ready for the first dance, try practicing dances in long skirts in the days leading up to your wedding. You could be used to dancing or walking around in a long skirt, but your future husband might not be used to it. Your husband might feel clumsy because of the size or puffiness of your dress.

Consider your bridesmaids needs when choosing their gowns. Bridesmaids can then offer their input as well, and you can try to accommodate them as best as possible. Select something affordable that matches your wedding them, and which your bridesmaids will love. This will keep the tension really low at the wedding.

In terms of wedding receptions, think carefully about whether to include kids. Unless they are in the wedding or close family, children are usually better off not attending because they are usually bored, disruptive and add extra expense. But, there may be many folks who will be unable or unwilling to attend without their kids.

When planning out your wedding music, you definitely want to look into the different DJ’s or bands in the area. Check references before you hire. After you make a final decision, make certain to have a firm date on a contract. This will help make certain the music portion of the event goes well.

Compose your very own wedding vows. You know your spouse better than anyone else. You will become closer to your partner and make the day more romantic by writing the vows yourself. Your own words will be the words you remember throughout your life.

Plan your wedding well in advance. You might think that a year is a long time to plan a wedding, but if you wait you’ll find that venues and service providers cost more and become unavailable with short notice. Plan as soon as you can to make sure you get everything you want.

As mentioned in the introduction, many things must work together to give you the perfect wedding day. It is easy to get lost in all the details, so hiring a wedding planner is a great idea to help make coordinating your big day easier. This article has hopefully provided you with some help to get you started on planning the wedding of your dreams.

Start planning for your wedding early. The earlier you plan, the more options you will have open to you. This ensures you find better prices and the best vendors that can stick to your budget.

Weddings