Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Approach Registering

I was thinking about wedding registries the other day because a friend just got engaged and asked me where I thought she should register.  I told her that she could approach her wedding registry in one of two ways:

1 - Register room by room.  Think about the different rooms in your home and create your registry by what you need for each room.  So kitchen:  Do you need new pots and pans?  Do you want to upgrade any appliances.  For the bedroom:  Do you need new bed linens?  Maybe a set for warm and cold weather?  Do you need furniture for your bedroom.  Etc...

2 - Your lifestyle.  If you and your groom love to cook maybe you should focus on great cooking tools.  If you love to entertain maybe you want to focus on living and dining room items.  If you don't really need anything for your home then register for items that complement your interests.

No matter what you register for it's important to have a variety of price points covered and don't worry about overloading your registry.  Better to have more items for guests to choose from then not enough.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Experience Wedding Gifts

If you and your fiance have decided that you don't really need the traditional household gifts you'd expect to find on a wedding registry, consider registering for experience gifts.

I've seen an increase in experience gifts where you and your fiance are gifted everything from massages to cooking classes.

There are several websites that offers service as well as product gifts such as and with companies like and that allow you to create one registry from items you find all over the web it's easier than ever to create your dream wedding registry!

I will however add that there will be some traditionalists on your wedding guest list and they will want to gift you those traditional items - linens, pots/pans, kitchen gadgets, etc... - so you may want to add some of these items to your registry too.  You might as well upgrade the items you already have with the latest versions of them!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Setting the Ceremony Time

I went to a wedding a few weeks ago and the invite read 5pm so we got there at 5:20.  We missed half the ceremony!  Of course we felt bad and the truth is the couple didn't notice, but we were surprised that the wedding actually started at 5pm on the dot.  All of the weddings we've ever been to started about 30 minutes after the invitation time.  During that half hour guests will mingle, have some water or champagne and find a seat for the ceremony.

Talk to your ceremony location regarding exactly when the ceremony will begin.  Does it have to start on the dot because there's another wedding behind yours or is there some wiggle room?  And then talk to your parents and his -- they'll know if their relatives and friends are used to a window of time before the ceremony or if they're used to a wedding starting exactly at the time listed on the invitation.

I remember a wedding in college that started over an hour late because most of the guests didn't arrive until an hour after the invite time.  And then there was another wedding where the bride knew her guests had a tendency to arrive late by an hour or more so she added the word "promptly" to the invitation time so those guests would arrive on time.  It worked.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Officiants: Make Sure He or She Can Legally Marry You

When my aunt was married in 1985 she hired a Justice of the Peace to be their officiant.  The wedding was in Suffolk County, Long Island.  After the officiant arrived for the ceremony he notified the couple that he wasn't licensed to marry them in Suffolk County, only Nassau County.

After their ceremony at the catering hall my aunt, new uncle and two witnesses got in a car and drove to the county line on the Long Island Expressway.  They pulled over to the side of the road and in the car the Justice of the Peace redid the ceremony - making their marriage legal.

It's very important to confirm that your officiant can legally marry you.  If you're not sure what the laws are in the state, or country if it's a destination wedding,  you are getting married in then contact the local government office.  Each state, and I'm assuming many countries, will have marriage license laws listed on their official website so it shouldn't be difficult to find.

Also, if you are having a friend or relative marry you confirm that they have been ordained through a ministry - online or off - that the state (or country) recognize.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wedding Gifts: Getting the Home From the Wedding

It's not uncommon to bring wedding gifts to a wedding.  The couple will probably arrange for a gift table to be set up at the reception.  You may also find a white birdcage on the table for guests to slip cash or checks in envelopes into.

Cash and checks are not heavy and easy to carry but boxes of wedding gifts are a little more difficult to leave a wedding reception with.

As the bride and groom you should decided before the wedding wedding who will be in charge of taking the wedding gifts at the end of the night and where they are going to put them.

If the bride and groom are returning home after the wedding then make sure there is enough room in the car for gift bags and boxes.  If the newlyweds are heading to a hotel or leaving right aways for their honeymoon then a friend or family member should be put in charge of making sure all the gifts are taken from the reception and brought to either the couple's home or someone else's home.

As a wedding guest you can help the bride and groom out by shipping your gifts to their home before the wedding.  Don't have it arrive while they're on their honeymoon because there won't be anyone to accept it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weddings Questions Answered

Wedding planning brings up a lot of questions.  Some are financial - how much things cost, how much can you afford to spend.  Family and emotional issues arise - who has to be invited, one parent or family is really pushing an idea the couple isn't excited about.  And some are general wedding planning and etiquette question - how to do something, what the proper procedure is.

I get emails daily from brides, moms, bridesmaids and every now and then a dad, and over the years maybe a handful were the same.

I'm working on a QA section and I'd love to hear from you!  Please email me at with your wedding-related questions.  They can be as simple as a "can we do X" to something more involved.

For those of you who have emailed me in the past you know that I try and respond to every email and I will this time too.

And I'm a firm believer that there are no stupid questions - as they teach us in school.  If you have a specific question I'm sure other people have the same question you do!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Registering for Items Your Guests Like Too

I find that most people in our circle who are from my grandparents' generation prefer to shop at a store where they can see the actual item they are buying.  Even though it is on your wish list the gift giver wants to like the gift too.

When helping people pick out wedding gifts I almost always hear them say that they personally like the item they are giving.  In fact I don't remember one person giving a gift that they thought was ugly or not useful.  I remember registering for items that I personally didn't like but I knew that some of my relatives loved and just as I suspected they bought them and I got a great credit towards my All Clad pots and pans.

Now I know some of you are thinking that it was wrong of me to do that but I knew that if I didn't I'd end up with similar style gifts that they purchased at stores I wouldn't be able to exchange them at.  The gifts would have ended up at a thrift store or neighborhood garage sale.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Wedding Night Surprise for the Bride and Groom

The bride and groom may decide to stay at a hotel or in their own home on their wedding night, either way as a member of the bridal party - or a thoughtful friend - you may want to have a special gift waiting for them when they arrive or delivered soon after.

If they are staying at a hotel you can talk to the concierge about having champagne, chocolates or strawberries delivered to their room after their arrival or waiting when they arrive.

For couples spending their wedding night at home try and get a key to their house or apartment and set up a romantic setting in their bedroom with food, drinks and maybe flower petals scattered around the room.  Stay away from candles since you don't want to light them in advance and unlit candles aren't as romantic.

You can also call the hotel the newlyweds are staying at on their honeymoon and surprise them with room service, dinner at the hotel, spa treatments or champagne.  I always find that when you tell a hotel that the couple is on their honeymoon they go above and beyond to make their stay memorable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rain on Your Wedding Day

I just watched How I Met Your Mother and while we don't know whose wedding Ted is the best man at we now know that he meets his future bride at a wedding.

Just as Ted and Marshall are making their way inside the church for the ceremony it starts to rain and while no one in the show mentions it, rain on your wedding day is considered good luck.  I think it's a good luck omen the same way if a bird poops on you -- people tell you it's good luck to make you feel better.

No matter what the weatherman says I'd pack a few umbrellas in your wedding day emergency kit, especially if your wedding ceremony and reception are at different locations.  And while you could just toss any old umbrella in the bag you may want to splurge on a golf umbrella which will cover you and your groom.  I've seen some great shots from weddings where the couple is using an umbrella to protect them from the rain.  You can even pick up a pattern or color that matches your wedding palette!

You can't tell from the photo above but Dave's brother, the best man, is holding a lavender umbrella over the two of us as it started to drizzle while we were taking pictures outside the temple we were getting married at.  Lavender was one of the colors in our wedding palette and the accent color on my wedding dress.  My mom found a bunch of lavender umbrellas at a 99-cent store the day before my wedding and bought a bunch of them.  We still use them.

Photo Credit:  Matthew Septimus/Martha Stewart Weddings

Friday, September 17, 2010

Did You Know Some Gift Cards Have Expiration Dates?

I received a $50 gift card to Macy's a few years back as a holiday gift and since I don't shop at Macy's regularly I didn't have a chance to use the card for about a year and a half.  When I got to the register the cashier swiped the card and informed me that the card had expired.

It turned out that I only had a year to use it.  I didn't read the fine print on the back of the card.  So I'm out $50 bucks and my aunt gave Mr. Macy a very nice holiday gift.

If you receive a gift card as an engagement, shower or wedding gift make sure to read the fine print on the back of the card to see if the card is good for a limited time.

When I returned a number of shower gifts to Crate & Barrel I received a few hundred dollars in store credits and I made sure that the credit wouldn't expire.  About five years later I took the credits to the store and was able to use the credits on items for our new home.

I would have freaked out if I had "lost" $800 to Crate & Barrel.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food Allergies and Your Wedding Menu

There is absolutely no way for you to know the food allergies and dietary restrictions of all of your wedding guests.  And you should not take a poll to find out.

Your caterer is a professional and he will know how many vegetarian meals should be made based on the number of guests you are having and his experience and years as a caterer.

As for guests with gluten, peanut and other allergies, they'll know what they can and can't eat and won't be afraid to ask the catering staff if the food contains whatever it is they are allergic to.

If you happen to know that there are some guests who are kosher or vegetarians you can give your caterer a heads up to prepare special meals for these guests, but you do not have to reach out to each guest in advance of the wedding and find out what he or she will or won't eat.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Proofreading All Printed Materials

Before you finalize the printing of your save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, wedding programs, menu cards or any other items that will cost a lot of money to print make sure you have someone proofread it.

While you and your fiance and even your printer may have looked over the copy a dozen times, sometimes you may not see something because your mind knows what you mean/want it to read.

Ask a parent, sibling or friend to read the final draft just to be safe.  Remember that spell check won't catch everything - especially correctly spelled words that are misplaced like your and you're and there, their and they're.

If you sign off on the final draft/proof and you notice a typo on the printed item because it was something you missed on the proof you'll be financially responsible for the re-print, if there's time for one.  You may incur a rush charge if the wedding is only a short time away.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Be Surprised If What inspires You Costs a Pretty Penny

If you had a chance to read the article in The New York Times on wedding blogs this past weekend then you probably caught what Maria Cooke, owner of Ritzy Bee Events and Ritzy Bee Blog editor, said about brides finding inspiration on wedding blogs.

“Blogs are nice in that when brides are ready to place an order with a vendor, they have all their ideas already. But I have a lot of florist friends I work with daily, and they’ll say couples automatically look at the picture of a flower setting without asking, ‘Is it within my budget?’ or even, ‘Are the flowers even available at that time of year?’ ”

Maria makes an excellent point.

Blogs are filled with beautiful wedding inspiration but the captions are usually limited to a photo credit.

It's not uncommon for a bride to take an image she found on a blog - or in a wedding magazine or website - to a vendor and find out that that arrangement or detail is out of her budget.  When you can't get exactly what is in the photo let the vendor help you find something similar, inspired by the photo, in your price range.

Unfortunately costs will vary per region as well as per season, so if a November bride in Manhattan with 250 guests and a June bride in Des Moines with 150 guests both take a photo of a centerpiece to their local florist they are both going to get very different prices on what the arrangement costs.  This, I'm assuming, is one of the reasons there are no prices on a lot of wedding inspiration shots.

Don't be upset if a vendor says you won't be able to get what you want at your budget.  

After finding inspiration meet with several vendors in each category to see who can give you what you want, or as close to it, at your price.  Let the work you find on a wedding blog, magazine or website inspire you and your vendors.  You don't have to duplicate the image exactly.  No one is going to compare your detail to the source of inspiration.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The B-List: In the NYTimes and How to Join

Vane from the blog Brooklyn Bride and I started The B-List in 2009 as a way for bloggers who have emailed and read each other's blogs over the years could finally get to know each other.  The event was a huge success and in April 2010 our group grew and The B-List had an even more awesome event in Washington, DC.

Wedding blogs have become more and more mainstream in the past two years.  Bloggers have been featured in national wedding magazines (BRIDES, Martha Stewart Weddings) and quoted in a variety of news outlets.

Over the weekend the New York Times published a story in the Style Section on the popularity of wedding blogs and how they have become an important part of the wedding planning process for brides. (Click here to read Blogging Brides.)  While there were a number of bloggers and blogs mentioned, the writer also highlighted The B-List as a professional organization of wedding bloggers.

The B-List is a community of wedding bloggers who help nurture and support wedding bloggers across the country and around the world.  Being a member includes free admission to our annual conference as well as events throughout the year and promotion to traditional media outlets as a trusted wedding resource.

If you are interested in becoming a member of The B-List please visit and complete our online application.

If you have any questions about The B-List you can email me and Vane at

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Tips If You're Planning a Surprise First Dance

I recently assigned a story that was published today on on first dance videos.  I had the writer pull together 10 great surprise first dances - you know the type, where the couple starts with a traditional first dance and surprises their guest by suddenly dancing to a choreographed upbeat song.

Anyway, one thing I noticed with almost all of these dances was that it took a long time to get to the surprise.  One couple slow danced for a minute or so before breaking into the upbeat choreographed number.

My advice is that if you are going to surprise your guests keep the slow or traditional dance to no more than 30 seconds.

Another tip is to let your photographer and videographer know what you're planning so they aren't recording the dance from behind you.  You'll want to see the smiles on your faces when you watch your wedding video.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Girl You're Amazing, Just the Way You Are

I don't know if this is the title of the song but it was playing on my way home tonight.  If you listen to the lyrics he is singing about how beautiful and perfect the girl is and that she shouldn't change a thing about herself.

I posted a story on today titled Extreme Beauty where we featured some cosmetic treatments you may be considering, including lash extensions that last for months, specific hair treatments, teeth whitening and botox.  These aren't that extreme when you think about the lengths people have and will go to make themselves over.

There's a new reality show being taped as I type this featuring about a dozen brides who compete in challenges to win - not a beautiful wedding - but plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures for their wedding.  Seriously.  The winner is then "unveiled" at her wedding.

Can you imagine the groom at the end of the aisle waiting to see his bride and she looks completely different?  He is marrying you for you and think your perfect just the way you are.

I'm sorry but there is really something wrong if you think you need to have plastic surgery before your wedding, unless of course you were in a horrible disfiguring accident.

I'll be honest, I don't love my nose and have thought about having it "fixed" but in the end I decided that this is how G-d made me and I'm happy with who I am and what I look like.  Also, how do you know that after the procedure you'll look any better?  I know a few people who had work done and one of the nose jobs didn't make them look any different and someone else decided to have her chin implant removed because she liked her chin better pre-implant.

I get emails weekly from doctors who perform plastic surgery specifically for brides and I think there was one email about a group session where all the bridesmaids and the bride can get work done together - what a fun bachelorette party idea, right?

I don't promote plastic surgery on either site because I don't want to encourage this as a trend.   Be happy with who you are and know that you are amazing, and beautiful, just the way you are.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Re-Gifting Tips

While you should never re-gift something you have probably thought about it and maybe even done it.  I know when I was in college and had no money I would re-gift things that my parents had received and didn't need or want.  Sorry, it's true but I had no money.

I remember going to a bridal shower and the bride opened a box and inside was a card to Sharon and Michael, wishing them all the best.  The bride who opened the box was Adrienne and her groom was Daniel.

My sister opened an engagement gift from friends of our parents and after unwrapping the present the box looked a little dusty and in some spots you could see the cardboard where the original wrapping paper was held with scotch tape.  The gift was a plastic serving tray that also had dust on it.

Both of these gifts were obviously re-gifts.

Here's my advice if you are going to re-gift something - for a wedding, shower or any occasion - and yes I know that you shouldn't re-gift something but the truth is, it happens:

  1. Double check the box the item came in to make sure there isn't a card written to you or someone else, in case this gift to you was a re-gift.
  2. Make sure there are no receipts that show the date the purchase was made, unless it was in the last 30 days and exchangeable.
  3. If the items has been out of the box, clean it so it doesn't look dusty and buy a nice box and tissue paper to wrap it in.
  4. If there are marks on the box that show where wrapping paper was held with tape then try to use tape in the same places so that when the paper comes off it can be assumed that this wrapping paper made those marks.
Now I'm not saying that re-gifting is okay to do.  What I am saying is that if you're going to do it follow these tips so that you don't get caught.

Friday, September 03, 2010

If You Have the Ball to Do It Then Have the Balls to Say Who You Are

RE: Commenting on My Blog and Other Sites

Unfortunately I don't get to go through comments on this blog everyday but I try to weekly and reply when someone asks a question or make an interesting point.

I welcome comments and emails from readers but I draw the line at comments that are rude to other commenters just for the sake of being rude.  Calling someone a name is just plain mean and not necessary.  There's no reason people can't disagree with each other and still respect and be civil to each other.

A commenter, Anonymous, on a post I wrote about Registries Not Being Greedy didn't like that a commenter thought that she received crappy/bad gifts from guests who didn't use her wedding registry.  There's nothing wrong with disagreeing but to call the commenter a "brat" and wish that her "marriage fails" is unnecessary and obnoxious and rude.  Plus, if you're going to have the balls to write something negative to or about someone at least have the balls to put your name on it.  Which is a personal beef I have with the Internet.

I think it's disgusting that people feel that they can act their worst because they can use the username "Anonymous" or a fake name and hide behind the screen.

I didn't delete the comment because I was hoping that you will go to the post and read the comment - it's the second Anonymous - and in the future when you write a comment on a post on this or any website  think about your words before you type and click ok/send.  Remember that there is a person on the other end of that post/comment you are commenting on and think about what you would say to that person's face if you had the chance.  Would you be rude and mean?  Would you say what you're writing?  Would you wear a mask to hide who you are and say mean things?  And how would you like it if those things were said to you?

Just something to think about.

Staged Wedding Photos

We just got back in from dinner near the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn and there was a group of people taking formal portraits with the Manhattan skyline behind them.  There was a girl in white, a guy in a tux, some kids all dressed up and a group of girls in matching purple dresses.  From the looks of it you automatically thought wedding but this was actually a sweet 16 group.

This location is very popular with bridal parties and on a Saturday and Sunday you can expect to see one posing for pictures at any time of day.

If you and your groom want to take portraits or some candids at a location other than your wedding ceremony or reception venue make sure that your photographer is aware of this and that you make time in your wedding day timeline to get to and from the shoot location and have time to take all the photos you want there.  Give your photographer a list of what you want and make sure that someone in the bridal party  or your wedding planner's assistant is checking off each one so you don't forget a must-have shot.

It's important to make sure this information is in your vendor contract with your wedding photographer because you don't want to incur overtime charges or at least you want to know if there's an extra fee associated with this off-site shoot.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Second Wedding Dress: Do You Really Need Two?

There was an article in the New York Times last week about the trend in buying a second wedding dress.  The story noted a number of recent celeb brides - Chelsea Clinton, Carrie Underwood - that changed into a second dress for the reception or at least for part of the reception.

Now I'm a firm believer in doing whatever you want and I know it's good for the economy but I really don't like this trend.

The wedding dress is probably the most important "outfit" you'll ever buy and possibly the most expensive, so why only wear it for a few hours?

I believe that there really is just one dress out there for each bride - just like the guy and ring.  I do realize that people do get divorced but at this stage you are set on spending the rest of your life with this one guy.

It may not be the first dress you try on and it may not be the 100th but trust me it's out there.  You can wear a slim fitting or minidress to any event but for your wedding buy your dream wedding dress and wear it for the whole day.  If you can't dance in it and dancing is important to you then buy a dress that you can dance in.

The person who alters your wedding dress should be able to make sure that you can walk dance breathe and hug people in it.

I'm sorry and I know a lot of you may disagree with me on this but I just think it's a waste of money and if you feel the need to buy a second wedding dress then maybe the reason is because the first one is not THE one.  Trust me, it's worth the wait!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Write Down Your Vows and Toasts!

I'm studying up for a TV segment I'm taping tomorrow on engagement rings and trying to memorize the different ring descriptions, prices and designer names..  There are six that I really should know by heart, but to be safe I'm writing the information down on notecards.

I'd rather refer to a card on set than make something up or say I don't know the answer to a question.

While it would be nice to recite your own vows by heart or toast the bride and groom without a printed speech, it's better to have a note card or paper with the words you want to say on them than forget what you wanted to say and be stuck with the mic.

No one in that room will hold it against you or look down on you for referring to your notes.  This is a very important day and it's better to get the words you want to say out correctly than have to make something up on the fly.


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