Planning a Wedding in a Recession 

Skyrocketing gas prices and crashing home sales have definitely had a tightening affect on America’s spending habits. I have been through a few economic downturns since starting my business, but this one seems to be the worst. Families have always spent good money on weddings, regardless of the economy, but this year, something is different.

I was discussing this topic with a former bride of mine this morning. We can’t decide if this recession is so much worse than the others, or if what people were spending on weddings had increased so sharply that now it is starting to adjust. Whatever the case may be, with the reduction in spending, I have noticed that some of my couples are questioning whether or not they can still have the wedding of their dreams.

I can tell you with absolute certainty, the answer is yes. For those of you who have read my blog regularly or have seen my other writing, you know that I strongly feel that a wedding is about the people with whom the couple chooses to celebrate, not about the amount of “stuff” at the wedding. Decor can be as beautiful at $1000.00 as it is at $10,000.00. A wedding reception can be as fun with 30 people as it is with 300 people.

Here are a few simple tips to planning a wedding on a reasonable budget:

If you are trying to maintain a particular budget, make sure you make the budget before you do anything else.

Make sure to set priorities. There may be some items on which you can afford to splurge a little if you are able to contain the cost on other items.

Look for alternatives to expensive items. For example, rather than blowing your budget on thousands of dollars in flowers, use candles on the tables. Rather than purchase an expensive wedding gown, choose a beautiful dress from a department store, or look online or in a thrift store for previously worn dresses.

Have your reception at an off time so you don’t have to serve dinner. Consider a day time reception or maybe dessert.

Invite a few close friends to your wedding rather than hundreds of people you don’t know very well. I always suggest throwing a great party for a smaller group rather than a so-so party for a larger group.

There are many ideas out there on how you can save money while planning your wedding on the Internet. I will post my favorites in the coming weeks.


Bouquet and Garter Toss: Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Like many traditions, the bouquet and garter toss, are slowly being replaced by more all-inclusive wedding reception activities. In the last five years, wedding professionals, like myself, have noted a decline in these long-standing traditions and estimate the frequency of bouquet and garter tosses during wedding receptions today to be approximately 50 percent.

Whether you choose to include these traditions or “toss” them is completely up to you. Singling out the singles with bouquet and garter rituals isn’t as relevant today, when many wait longer to marry and some choose to remain single. A Bride and Groom may prefer to spend their party moments visiting with beloved guests and dancing to the music, instead.

Whatever you decide, the professional DJ can share their experiences and help you plan your party time activities. If you’re still undecided after reading these lists of Pros and Cons, your DJ can suggest updated versions of bouquet and garter toss traditions that will satisfy guests of all generations.

Where did the bouquet and garter toss originate?

In the 14th century, it was customary for the Groom to remove the Bride’s garter and throw it toward the single men in attendance. Legend said that whoever caught the garter would be the next to marry. At the often-rowdy party following the wedding, a few drunk and impatient men would occasionally try to remove the Bride’s garter before the Groom had his opportunity. At those times, we can only hope the Groom intervened and rescued his Bride from the boisterous crowd. In light of this, perhaps seeing who would marry next by having the Bride toss her bridal bouquet toward the single women was less troublesome!

Pros of hosting a bouquet and garter toss

1) It’s Tradition. Some in attendance are waiting for this moment during your reception. The bouquet toss and, to a lesser extent, the garter toss are benchmarks for the older generations. When a tradition is observed, their expectation is fulfilled and a certain comfort level borne of familiarity is reached.

2) Guests get involved. If plenty of singles are at your party, the event generates suspense for your wedding guests. If some of the singles are well-mannered but rowdy friends, you can expect great enjoyment and fun. Hosting the toss in the midst of your dance party is a great way to get singles to meet on the dance floor. All guests want to feel the thrill of the moment, and a great Master of Ceremonies will include married couples in the event, too. Professional DJs draw on their experience and follow simple techniques that engage your guests and elevate the excitement of your reception’s most memorable moments.

3) Great photo and video opportunities are made. You can expect great shots of your friends wearing spontaneous smiles and their Sunday best. The camera will capture their laughter and looks of surprise, embarrassment and goofiness, as they carry out the traditions of the bouquet and garter toss.

4) Bouquet and garter tosses can be fun. If the singles at your reception are in the spirit of the moment, then these rituals that bring people together will be fun and exciting for you and your guests.

Cons of hosting a bouquet and garter toss

1) Many guests may not want to participate. It’s customary for the Bride to help gather the singles in attendance and invite them to get involved in the bouquet and garter toss. If singles are reluctant to participate, but go along to be polite to the Bride, the events won’t be fun for them and may make them uncomfortable, a feeling which is sure to spread among the guests watching them.

2) There’s less party time. If your dance floor is rockin’, why screech the party to a halt? Even small traditions, like the garter and bouquet toss, take a little time to organize. You can expect to spend 10 to 12 minutes gathering the participants, and watching rowdier singles prolong their moments in the spotlight. While others are distracted, guests who aren’t caught up in the moment may take this opportunity to leave.

3) Do you really want a picture of this, anyway? Since the bouquet and garter toss are mostly staged events, we all know what to expect, with certain variations on the old theme.

4) Some guests may act inappropriately. Why take the chance of subjecting your guests to potentially ill-advised and outlandish actions?

Putting a new spin on the bouquet and garter toss

Enjoy an Anniversary Dance. This fun variation on the usual theme is a suspenseful event that invites married couples of all ages to be part of an “elimination” dance that ends with a nice surprise.

All married couples are invited to the dance floor for the first song. Those married less than 6 months are asked to step down for the next dance. Those married less than a year are asked to bow out, followed by those married 3 years, 5 years, and so on, until the last couple on the dance floor is the one that has been married the longest – which is sometimes 50 or 60 years! The Master of Ceremonies steps onto the floor to congratulate them and to ask for their sage advice on behalf of the new Bride and Groom. In return for their words of wisdom, the Bride and Groom offer the older couple the Bride’s bouquet.

It’s Your Party. Do What You Want.

Depending on your guests, the bouquet and garter toss can be a fun event. However, you will find that hardly anyone will miss it if you choose to skip them. It’s totally up to you, it is YOUR wedding reception!


Choosing Your Wedding Cake

What do people wait for in a wedding reception? There may be many other answers to this question but there is no doubt in my mind the wedding cake would be the foremost answer. Think back and you will probably notice that wedding guests would wait for at least the wedding cake to be cut before they leave. So in deciding about your wedding cake, you have to be sure that your cake will make the statement that you want it to.

If you want to follow tradition, you would probably go for the three tiered cake covered in icing. However, today, there are tons of choices to pick from. You can even let your creativity come into play and design your own cake! Here are some things to consider when thinking about your wedding cake.

Size. How big do you want your cake to be? How many guests are you going to invite? Aside from that, you should also consider if you are going to have friends who won’t be able to make it to the wedding – you may want to send them some cake afterwards.

Design. Once you have decided on the size, the design is vital to the “success” of your cake. As I mentioned earlier, you can follow the traditional design or you may opt for something else.  Wedding magazines are a good venue to get some ideas. Visit different cake shops and look at their collection as well. If you have a specific idea of what you want your cake to look like, then it is easier for you. Just take your idea to the baker and see if he can make it.

Flavor. Of course, the wedding cake is meant for more than decoration. It is going to be eaten. As such, it has to taste good. There are really no restrictions anymore as to the flavor of wedding cakes. If you prefer a certain flavor then go for it. Though wedding cakes used to be white and thus vanilla flavored, there is no stopping you from having a chocolate cake. You can even have cheesecake, mousse, or any other flavor under the sun!

Just remember, decide on your wedding cake at least a month before the wedding. Many bakers require that orders be placed months in advance. Otherwise, you might have to settle for something ready made and not really to your taste.


Winter Wedding Tips

Are you planning on getting married this winter? Here are some tips on how to decorate and plan your winter wedding.

Décor that appeals to the senses is important when trying to pulling off a romantic winter wedding. Choose colors of rich jewel tones such as purple, forest green, and navy. Sapphire blue, ice blue or powder blue, silver and white can be used if you want to steer clear of the traditional Christmas colors.  The glow of candlelight will add warmth and ambiance to your ceremony and reception site.

Keep floral costs to a minimum, use flowers that are already available during the winter months. Some flower choices are: poinsettias, roses, amaryllis, and lilies. Evergreens are popular choices for decorations while holly branches and other plants with red berries are ideal for use in floral arrangements.

The season that you are getting married can spark some great, creative ideas for wedding centerpieces, like adding pine cones or holiday items.

Choosie white flowers (with touches of silver twigs and/or silver netting. Additionally, silver ribbon on the cake, tables, bouquets or chairs would work.

Many reception facilities have cozy fireplaces to add ambiance and warmth for your winter wedding.

Adding an ice sculpture to display during your cocktail hour and/or reception is always a great idea for a winter themed wedding.

Also, you can consider winter foods for your menu. Include hot chocolate with the coffee service, and start with a hot soup appetizer.

As for favors, candles are perfect. Cinnamon Apple, Pumpkin Pie, and Vanilla are all pleasant scents that remind you of being a kid in your grandmothers' kitchen and they're nice this time of year. Spiced teas, coffee mugs, snow globes and Christmas ornaments imprinted with the couples name and wedding date will also make great favors.

Good luck with your upcoming wedding. May it truly be a Winter Wonderland.


8 Wedding Hairstyles Ideas

If ever there was time to make the most of your hair, it is for your wedding. Your bridal hairstyle can look like a million with imagination and the skills of a good hairdresser. Wedding hairstyles range from a more coiffed version of your everyday hair to an elaborate and dramatic style.

Perfect wedding hairstyles flatter your face, your wedding gown, and your veil. They suit your personality while accentuating your best features and minimizing your weak ones. Here are some suggestions for different kinds of hair.

- Hair swept back or up shows more of your face and profile. This style can be especially nice for formal or evening weddings.

- A wedding up-do will accentuate your neck. This look can range from a simple French twist to a stylish mass of ringlets.

- Hair worn down or loose has a more casual look, perfect for daytime, outdoor, and informal weddings.

- Long hair can be worn back, loose, braided, or entwined with beading or fabric that matches your gown.

- Medium-length hair is nearly as versatile as long. It can be curled, straightened, tucked behind your ears, or brushed loosely down.

- Even brides with short hair can have a long, thick wedding day hairstyle. Clip on hairpieces and extensions are available in a variety of colors and styles.

- Short hair can be versatile, from sleek styles to curly. Tiaras, decorative bobby pins, combs, and hair clips all look stunning worn in short hair.

- Bangs can be worn several ways: soft, fringy, angled, or textured. If you've never had bangs, experiment with them well in advance. If you've always had them, this is not the time to sweep them aside and bare your forehead.

Current styles are important, but should be secondary to what is right for you. Something may be "in" but all wrong for you or your dress. Whatever style you choose, have practice sessions in the week before your ceremony. Do this and your wedding day will most certainly be a fabulous hair day.


Considerations as You Shop for Wedding Shoes

As you search for just the right wedding shoes, there are other attributes to consider besides their style. Here are some tips to help you create a perfect wedding-day experience in no small part because of your choice of shoes:

Comfort counts. The phrase "to die for" takes on new meaning after standing in excruciatingly uncomfortable shoes for several hours. Comfortable wedding shoes don't have to be dowdy or boring. You can find a wonderful selection of low heels, slippers, and sandals online. You may also consider buying two pairs of wedding shoes -- a fashion-conscious pair for the ceremony and slippers or tennis shoes for the reception.

Heel height affects the length of your gown. If your gown is floor-length, shoe height determines whether the hem falls above, at, or on the floor. As you shop for gowns, try on different heel heights with each dress. When you go for the final fitting, be sure to bring your wedding shoes so your wedding dress can be altered to perfection.

A balanced look matters. Consider how elaborate or simple your gown is when choosing shoes. The key is a balanced look, which you can achieve by wearing understated shoes if your dress is heavily embellished (or vice versa). Choosing the same accents for your shoes, gown, and/or jewelry (pearls, beads, crystals, rhinestones, etc.) can also create a beautiful, balanced look.

Outdoor sites can trip you up. Outdoor or beach weddings call for more stability in your shoes. Consider satin bridal flat shoes, ballerina shoes, sandal bridal shoes, wedding tennis shoes, or going barefoot.