Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can You Still Have a Rehearsal Dinner If You’re Not Having a Rehearsal?

Absolutely! First, it’s important to know that the rehearsal doesn’t take place at the dinner but before at the church, if you’re going to have one at all.

A rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding event where immediate family, members of the bridal party and out of town guests get together to toast the couple and enjoy a great meal -- the meal can be as formal or as casual as the couple or hosts like.

Traditionally the groom’s parents will host the rehearsal dinner but anyone can.

The rehearsal dinner is also a time for friends and relatives to toast or roast the bride and groom since the wedding-day toasts are usually limited to the father of the bride, best man and maid of honor. It is also the time for the bride and groom to give thank you gifts to their bridesmaids, groomsmen, kids in the wedding and their parents.

If you’re having a destination wedding it is common to invite all your guests to either a rehearsal dinner or night before the wedding cocktail hour. If you’re not having a destination wedding but some guests are traveling a great distance to your wedding it’s appropriate to invite those out of towners to the rehearsal dinner.

Since both the bride and groom should have a good night sleep before the big day try and end the night on the early side.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Bit of Music Advice

Everyone has their favorite artist or type of music, but there are some songs you can dance to and some that you can't.

When choosing music for your reception, select a band that can play everything from the standards to Motown to disco to today's Top 40 hits. And if you're hiring a DJ find out how far their music library goes back so you can get a good mix of the past six decades.

Remember that just because you love a local Van Halen cover band (and they come in under budget) doesn't mean your guests will love four hours of them.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to See (and Try On) the Latest Vera Wang Gowns Before They Arrive in Salons

Vera Wang’s Madison Avenue salon hosted an event for bridal bloggers this evening to allow us to view the new collection, which won’t hit salons until the fall. The designs shown at April’s bridal market will be available in trunk show style at various salons around the country --- NYC this weekend, then Boston, DC, LA over Labor Day Weekend. Check with the local salon that carries Vera Wang to find out when the trunk show will be in your area.  There is also a listing on verawang.com.

Anyway, we got a tour of the salon, enjoyed some delicious red velvet cake by Ruth Drennan and saw the new line up close and personal. It’s stunning by the way.

Some of the designs are shown in colors -- gray, celadon green, blush or pink -- and it’s important to note that while the gowns are shown in colors they are all available in white or ivory too.

When you visit a salon make sure to ask the sales consultant what all your options are. The dress may be available in multiple colors, the sashes that adorn the dress may also come in a rainbow of colors. You may be able to build up the dress giving it a higher neckline or even sleeves if you need more coverage.

Sometimes these alterations will add to the price and sometimes they won’t. It’s important to find out what’s available so you purchase a dress you truly love.

PS - Here are some of my favorites from the new Vera Wang collection

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sample Sale and Trunk Show Season...What You'll Find at Both Types of Sales

The new wedding dress collections will be arriving in salons between now and Septembers so you'll start seeing ads for sample sales -- where salons sell old merchandise -- and trunk shows, featuring the new collections.

Here's the difference between the two events:

Sample Sale. A sample sale is where a designer or bridal salon sells their sample and overstock dresses at a discounted price. Sample dresses are the dresses that brides view and try on in salons. They are traditionally a sample size: 8 or 10. These dresses have not been worn by a bride at her wedding, but they have been tried on at the salon many times, so they will likely need a good dry-cleaning in addition to any alterations necessary. Cleaning and tailoring are not included in the price of the garment, so take that into consideration when you buy a dress at a sample sale. Alterations and cleaning can add a few hundred dollars to the price.

Trunk Show. A trunk show takes place at a bridal salon. A designer (or her representative) will bring her entire collection -- gowns carried at the store as well as gowns that are not -- and meet with brides one-on-one. By meeting with a designer, a bride can learn more about what options she has regarding altering the dress: making it strapless, changing the colored beading, etc. Most trunk shows will offer a 10 percent discount on the price of a gown if it is purchased during the show. Bridal salons will know trunk-show dates weeks, and sometimes months, in advance, so if there's a designer whose dresses you love, make an appointment as early as possible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Save Money on Your Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn't need to cost a fortune. Just like planning your wedding, talk to your fiancé about how much you want to/can afford to spend on your honeymoon. Then start doing your research.

Price out all-inclusive packages as well as discounts you may be able to get by being a member of AAA or other associations. One idea is to pay for a lot of your wedding vendors and products with a credit card so that you can earn airline miles. Two popular programs are: American Express & Delta and MasterCard & American Airlines. Depending on where you want to go, you may be able to use your miles for a free flight or an upgrade to first class.

Check out online travel sites for deals. You may have heard of Hotels.com, Expedia and Orbitz, but there are other sites that offer great deals too. Travelzoo.com and Travel with Val are two of my favorites.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Wedding Date That Works for Everyone

When choosing a wedding date, think about the time of year you want to get married. Have you always dreamed of a winter wedding? Do you want to get married outside? Have you always loved the fall? Or do you want to get married over the holiday season?

In addition to the season, you also want to consider the people who are most important to you. Talk to these guests -- parents, grandparents, siblings, and best friends -- to make sure they are free on the date before putting down a deposit. You don't want to book a hall and find out that dad has a convention out of town that he must attend.

And keep an open mind when meeting with venues and vendors. If you want to hire a specific vendor, check with him or her first to make sure he or she is available on your date, then book the ceremony and reception space.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Toss the Bouquet Toss for This Sentimental Idea

Worried your single friends may tackle each other in the fight for the bouquet? Why don't you present your bouquet to your mom, grandmother or best friend as a thank you instead?

Another idea is to honor the couple at the wedding who has been married the longest. Have the band leader invite all the married couples to dance and ask them to leave the floor if they've been married for less than 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 55, 60 years. The last couple standing gets the bouquet, and a round of applause.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vintage Jewelry Sale On Now at The Aisle New York!

Looking for the perfect jewelry to wear with your wedding dress? How about some beautiful vintage pieces that won’t just look amazing but can also act as your something old?

The Aisle New York is currently running a sale of jewelry from the Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection. The pieces include designer and limited edition pieces by Dior, Chanel and Lanvin.

This special sale, which ends Monday, May 23rd, has a variety of items including earrings, broaches and necklaces at unbelievable prices.

The beauty of these pieces is that you can definitely wear them after the wedding and pass them down as a family heirloom -- you can even start a family tradition that every bride wears the one special piece you bought for your own wedding day.

If you’re not familiar with The Aisle New York, it’s an online sale site where brides can find discounted designer wedding dresses, headpieces and jewelry. Membership is required to access the sales but it’s free, so sign up now!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Should Mom Carry Flowers?

Your parents are considered part of the bridal party, especially if they are in the processional. You can have both of your parents give you away, or an usher or groomsman can escort mom to her seat.

Since your bridesmaids will be carrying bouquets and the flower girl will carry a basket of petals, why not give the moms blooms to carry too.

The traditional style for mom is the corsage -- just like the kind you wore to your prom. A corsage comes in two styles: pinned and wristlet. The pinned kind will make a permanent hole in your mom's beautiful gown, and the wristlet can be itchy and get in the way when eating and dancing.

If you want mom to have flowers I recommend having a small bouquet, or posy, made for each mom. The flowers should be made up of the same color and blooms that are in your bouquet and the bridesmaids', and should match dad's or her escort's boutonniere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why a Wedding Video is Important

We went to a Bar Mitzvah over the weekend and my daughter danced the whole night long.  From the moment we entered the room until 4 hours later when the DJ stopped playing and the lights in the ballroom went on she was having the time of her life, which turns out to be the new last dance song (Time of My Life).

My sister-in-law hired a photographer but not a videographer and because of the dim lighting our blackberry video cameras couldn't catch her in action.  I left wishing that they had hired a videographer so we would have a few minutes of her rockin' out to Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer in a bandana and party dress.  At least we got some stills.

It's these moments that make me recommend videography to brides.  At my wedding it is having my grandparents on film that I'm grateful for, and I'm sure my kids and grandkids will be glad that Dave and I hired a videographer, Robert Allen, for our wedding.

Wedding Planning Tip: When you're looking for a wedding videographer, just like when meeting a wedding photographer, ask to see an entire wedding video. You don't want to see a highlights or "greatest hits" reel. You want to see an entire wedding from getting ready to the ceremony and through the reception to get an idea of how each part of the day is caught on film.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Determine Your Wedding's Dress Code

Are you concerned about what your guests will wear to your wedding? Since you can't go to their homes and pick out their clothes, give them some clues to help ensure that everyone is dressed appropriately.

If you want all the men in tuxedos and women in evening gowns, then have "black tie" or "formal attire" printed on the lower corner of your invitation. If you want your guests to be formal but don't need to have everyone in a tux, then print "black tie optional." If you're not sure attire wording will fit on the invite, talk to your stationer about your layout and insert options. You can have a separate card inserted with your invitation that reads:

Dinner and dancing to follow

Formal attire

Your guests will know how to dress themselves, and of all the details you need to tend to, worrying about their wardrobe should not be one of them. There are certain attire rules that most, if not all, people will follow:

Saturday (or Sunday) night after 6 p.m.: formal/black tie

Daytime weddings: suits for men and cocktail dresses for women

If you're concerned about a handful of guests, you can either tell them (or have someone else tell them) what's appropriate or just let them come as they are and don't think about it. A guest that is dressed inappropriately will be more embarrassed for himself or herself and you probably won't notice, because you'll be too busy enjoying the day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bridesmaids Blog Tour: What to Do With a Bridesmaid Dress After the Wedding

The new film Bridesmaids hits theatres today, May 13th, and if you’re looking for either a great date night with your fiance or a night out with the girls order tickets now. The film is set around a wedding and it’s the story of friendship.

When Annie (Kristen Wiig) is asked to be her best friend’s maid-of-honor she has to lead a group of bridesmaids as they search for the perfect bridesmaid dress, plan a bridal shower, bachelorette party and help with the wedding details. Annie’s lfe is a mess and she finds herself competing for the bride’s attention with another ‘maid.

As brides and bridesmaids we all know that weddings can bring out both the best and worst in people and in this story it also brings a lot of laughs (and a really cute cop with a Irish accent).

Take your fiance and make this film part of your next date night or grab your bridesmaids and plan a girl’s night out. You’re sure to have a great time either way.

I walked away with a number of great planning tips for this blog but as a bride you’re sure to find ideas for your own wedding and bridesmaids will get inspired by the bridal shower and bachelorette party ideas.

The photos below show a familiar scene: the hunt for the perfect bridesmaid dress that will both flatter every bridesmaids’ figure and not hurt their wallets. But what I think about when it comes to bridesmaid dresses is what to do with them after the wedding.

If you’ve been a bridesmaid you already know you probably won’t wear the bridesmaid dress you wore again. And as the bride your bridesmaids probably won’t wear the bridesmaid dress you’ve picked no matter how flattering you think it is.

But don’t let a bridesmaid dress or dresses take up space in your closet. There are a number of options you have to make the dress wearable for you or others. Here are some ideas:

Alter it. Take your bridesmaid dress to a local tailor and talk to a professional about redesigning it. Shorten a floor-length gown to a cocktail length. Cut it in two and create a top and bottom that you can pair with other clothes.

Donate it. A number of organizations will accept donations of gently used evening wear that low-income teens can use for prom dresses.  Visit DonateMyDress.org to find a list of charities from across the country you can donate your bridesmaid dress to.

Recycle it.  Newlymaid.com is a new service by The Dessy Group that will let you exchange a used bridesmaid or party dress by any designer for a new little black dress. The dress you send in will either be recycled or donated and you’ll receive a 30-50% discount on a new dress that you can wear again and again.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Universal Pictures’ Bridesmaids. Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to Choose Stores to Register At

If you're not sure where to register, make a list of stores that you like and go visit them. Think about what you need and want for your home and pick the store or stores that offer those items.

For example if you and your fiancé love to cook, you may want to choose Williams-Sonoma. If you're looking for furniture, Pottery Barn would be a good choice.  If you need items for every room go with a department store like Bloomingdale's.

Kitchen and dining items make up the traditional registry, but if you don't need china and glassware, then pick a store that has products you can use. Are you sports enthusiasts? Register at a sporting-goods store. Wine lovers? Ask your local liquor store if you can create a gift registry of your favorite wines.

Guests will want to buy you engagement, shower and wedding presents, and it's better for you to have wish lists at your favorite stores than to risk receiving gifts that you don't need or want and can't return or exchange.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wedding Favors: Charitable Donations

When selecting a wedding favor, some couples will choose to donate money in the names of their guests or in memory of a family member to a charitable organization close to their hearts.

There aren't any rules when it comes to these types of favors, but here are some of my guidelines:

1. You can donate any amount of money. No one has to know how much you have donated to a charity -- except the IRS if you are writing the donation off as a tax deduction.

2. You don't have to give a specific amount per guest. Some couples give $1 or $2 per person, but if you have 250 guests, $500 may not be in your budget. The charity you choose will accept any amount you decide to give.

3. You can donate to more than one charity. Both you and your fiancé can each pick an organization.

4. Think of a creative way to tell your guests about your charitable donation. You can print the information on your program or create a tag to attach to a second favor, or ask the organization if they can supply you with, or make your own, donation cards.

If you're not sure of which charity to choose, visit I Do Foundation. They have a list of charities based on different themes -- health, hunger, children, social justice -- to help you decide. They also have donation cards that you can give to your guests.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Have You Seen The Lettered Olive Stationery Line?

You really should check it out.  It's one of my favorite paper lines and created by one of my favorite (and most talented) wedding event designers, Tara Guerard of Soiree.

Tara is going to be at Judy Paulen Designs' stationery boutique at Bloomingdale's -- yes, Bloomie's has a stationery department on the 6th floor -- featuring The Lettered Olive invitation line.

At the event you'll get a sneak peek at the new collection as well as meet and talk to Tara about your wedding. The first 25 attendees will receive gift bags, and anyone who places an order of The Lettered Olive invitations will receive a second ink color for free!

Trust me when I tell you The Lettered Olive is a beautiful collection -- you (and mom) are sure to love it!

Friday, May 06, 2011

When Choosing a Honeymoon Destination

When planning your honeymoon, talk to your husband-to-be about what you want to do and what he wants to do. He may want to get in a few rounds of golf. You may want to treat yourself to some spa treatments. A good idea is to look at resorts that offer not only a great room, but also good food, spa facilities, a golf course and other amenities that both of you can enjoy.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

How to Write Thank-You Notes

For every gift you receive during your engagement, you need to send a thank-you note. You can purchase note cards at your local stationery store or order personalized cards that reflect both of your personalities. You can choose something fun or formal.

If you already know what your wedding theme and palette will be, order thank-you notes that reflect the wedding. You can use them throughout your engagement and even into your married life.

Here are a few tips on writing a great thank-you note:

1 - Express your gratitude for the gift: "Thank you so much for the cappuccino maker," or "Thank you for your generous gift."

2 - Mention how you are, or are planning on, using the item: "John loves it, and has begun making us cappuccinos after dinner every night," or "We plan on putting it toward our new home."

3 - Mention the future: "We're looking forward to celebrating with you at our wedding."

4 - You must send a note per each gift you receive, so if Aunt Jane sends engagement, shower and wedding gifts, send her three notes -- one for each gift.

5 - Send thank-you notes in a timely manner: within two weeks of receiving an engagement or shower gift, and for your wedding gifts, within eight weeks of returning from your honeymoon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wedding Don'ts Inspired by the Royal Wedding

The royal wedding was full of inspiration -- check out my story on Wedding Wire to find 10 creative wedding details -- but there were also some things that happened that you may not want to replicate at your own big day.  Here are 10 (royal) wedding don'ts:

1 - Make sure your bridal bouquet is in proportion to the size for your wedding dress.  While Kate's bridal bouquet was lovely it was too small for the gown she was wearing and looked more appropriately sized for a bridesmaid bouquet.

2 - If your guests will be arriving before the ceremony begins, even half an hour, it's nice to offer them a beverage such as water, sparking water, iced tea, lemonade or champagne as they wait.  You can also have music playing, either canned or live.

3 - As mentioned on Twitter during the wedding, Post-it labels are not a detail you want your guests to see.  If you're reserving seats print pew cards or place cards at home or through your stationer.

4 - If either you or your fiance have a number of assets -- money, property, heirlooms -- that you want to ensure stay in the family then hire lawyers and get a prenup.  It's been reported that the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did not sign one, and neither are protected without one -- his wealth or her royal title as well as guarantees to money and property if they get divorced.  Remember what happened to her mother and his aunt Fergie?

5 - Yes, the bride looked beautiful but her makeup could have been better.  We all know that Kate decided to do her own wedding makeup and had private lessons but your everyday makeup may not be best for your wedding day.  You need to wear makeup that will last all day and ensure that you look great in your photographs and video.

6 - The one hiccup during the ceremony was where Prince William had a little trouble getting the wedding ring on Kate's finger.  Make sure to try on your wedding rings before you leave the jeweler to ensure that you don't have a similar issue during your wedding ceremony.

7 - The Queen hosted the wedding -- you knew because the wedding invitations came from her office.  I was told through my sources that The Queen had strong feelings about certain wedding details and the couple had to acquiesce to her request because she was both paying for the wedding and there's also that she is The Queen.  When parents or grandparents offer to chip in for your wedding make sure to find out if there are any strings attached to the check, and if so make sure to find out what they are in advance of cashing it.

8 - I  think it was the ambassador to Syria who was disinvited a few days before the wedding, and while his invitation was revoked due to international conflicts - and I'm not making a political statement here - in general I wouldn't advise disinviting a wedding guest days before your wedding.  It will mess with your seating chart.

9 - Are you planning on wearing a veil?  Make sure that the veil you choose doesn't lay flat on your face but gives you a bit of breathing room.  One trick is to hold your bridal bouquet under your veil but towards the hem of it so the fabric is pulled (slightly) a way from your face.

10 - At the evening reception for the newlyweds it's been reported that each table, there were 30, were named for places that were important to the couple.  It's very difficult to find tables that are not numbered because the table could be anywhere in the room.  With numbers it's usually even on one side, odd on the other and in numerical order.  If you're having over 10 tables it will make it easier for guests to find their seats if they're numbered.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Selecting Your Wedding Bands

There are so many options when it comes to wedding bands: gold, platinum, eternity ... You should take your time picking the right one.

You can choose a simple, solid metallic band or something with a little more bling. Try on rings that you can wear with your engagement ring on the same finger as well as rings you can wear alone.

While diamond wedding bands are very popular, if it's not in your budget right now, choose a simpler style and wait till a big anniversary to receive the diamond one.

If you're having a Jewish ceremony, remember that you will have to exchange rings that have no breaks in them (meaning, no stones), so shop for, or borrow from relatives or friends, a pair of simple gold or platinum wedding rings for your ceremony.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Wedding Dress Alterations: Something to Think About

A friend of mine found her wedding dress at a sample sale over the weekend.  She had to decide between two wedding dresses that she loved.  One dress was a little too big and had to be taken in.  The other was a little too small and had to be let out.

She went with the one that was a little too big, because it would be easier to take it in than to let the other one out.

When you're buying your wedding dress, whether at a sample sale or off the rack, it's important to think about not just the cost of alterations but the amount of work needed on the dress.  For a dress with a lot of beading the seamstress will have to take off the beads, take in or let out the dress and then re-sew all the beads, which will cost you a lot more than a simple hem.

Also, if a dress is so big or really too small the look of the dress may be completely different after it's altered.  My sample sale wedding dress was a size 10.  By the time the seamstress was done shortening it for my size 2 frame I lost so many inches off the dress that a lot of the detail I loved was cut off.

Think about the work the dress will need because it may add a significant amount to your dress budget.  And if you can, talk to a seamstress at the sale or store to see what work can be done to the dress to ensure that it will look the way you want it to on your wedding day.


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