Thursday, April 20, 2017

Picking Out the Perfect Wedding Dress

The Dress of Your Dreams

It's the day you've been dreaming about since you were a little girl, perhaps you even consider it the most important of your life. Yor wedding day. Family, flowers, food, all of these are wonderful parts of your wedding day. But the most exciting part for any girl (besides marrying your Prince Charming) is picking out the wedding dress of your dreams. But there is so much to consider, and sometimes it seems you'll go completely bonkers before you can ever decide on just one dress! Take a deep breath, drink some tea, and let me guide you through some tips that will hopefully lead you to the perfect wedding dress.

Match the Dress to the Occasion

Now this might sound silly, I mean it's a wedding, right? Well, yes and no. Each wedding sets its own tone and has its own theme. Perhaps you are having sunset wedding right on the surf. Or maybe you are having a good old fashion country hoe-down with ribs and beer. Or perhaps you are having a classic cathedral and sit down dinner wedding. Whichever occasion suits your mood you are going to want a dress that matches both in form and function.

If you are having a beach wedding a slip dress with a knee length hem is simply perfect. For a country wedding the overiding factor is function. Does the dress keep you cool enough? Does it drag on the ground (possibly getting dirty)? How will it look with BBQ sauce on it? These questions are quite legitimate; I know one bride whose tulle dress hem will always be brown, even after cleaning. For a classic church wedding the full skirted dress is a classic. Feel free to play things up a little though, and stick to the features you like most in a dress.

Shop Around

Do yourself a favor and don't buy a dress the first time you go out. Try on several dresses, and then sleep on it. Go back, with another woman (I took my mother), and try on that special one to see if you still feel the same. Most employees at bridal shops work on commission, so they can border on car salesman-ish at times. Visit more than one shop and try on dresses wherever you go. This is a special dress that you will only wear one time, so it's a very big decision that you cannot let anyone pressure you into.

Aim High

Don't be afraid to aim high--no matter what your budget. Some brides knew from the start they wanted a designer label, but life just didn't cooperate by making them heiresses. Yet all is not lost if you're willing to shop courageously. At any given moment, a better-heeled bride is selling her once-used St. Pucchi or Ulla-Maija on eBay. She paid thousands upon thousands, but you, smart shopper, will pay half that or less. To take this road, you must shop earlier than other brides so you'll have a choice of gowns. Always pay with a credit card so you'll have recourse if the dress doesn't arrive in acceptable condition, and again, shop early so you can buy another if necessary. Shop courageously, but not recklessly.

Shop Online

Shop online, but never send a check. Bridal gown businesses sometimes have a way of disappearing overnight. No matter what the proprietor tells you, never make a purchase as large as a wedding gown without the chargeback protection of a credit card. If they say they can't take plastic, move on.

Don't Buy Too Early

Don't buy too early unless you must. Bridal gowns can take four to ten months to come from the manufacturer, but there's no reason to buy over a year ahead of time, unless your chosen style is going to be discontinued. Give yourself some time to sit on your decision. Once you pick a gown, you'll see a hundred others nearly like it. You'll become a walking encyclopedia on that style of gown. All the better if you still have room to choose.

Don't Hold Out Forever

Don't hold out forever for the dress. Some brides never find the dress. What they do find is a few dresses they look beautiful in. If you're this bride, try starting your planning from the theme instead of the dress. You'll probably eventually get sick to death of dress shopping. When that happens, "good enough" really will be good enough. Concentrate on other aspects of the wedding that mean a lot to you, like the venue, the food, or the inevitable adoration of your soon-to-be husband.

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Choosing an Event Venue

Not only will the venue influence many decisions and affect attendees’ experiences, but it also consumes a large portion of most event budgets, adding more pressure to making the right decision.  Here are some of the most important criteria for choosing a venue for your event:

1. Budget – Cost is often the main factor people use when considering or ruling out venues, and of course the price tag of renting out the venue must fit within your event budget.

2. Space specifications – This would include things like space/room capacity (including lobby and exhibitor space if you are planning a meeting or convention); load in/out amenities; and technical capabilities (like lighting, electrical, A/V, etc.).

3. Day/time availability – This factor almost goes without saying, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have several day/time options in mind (or at least be somewhat flexible with day/time of the event) before you start reviewing venues so you don’t immediately limit the number of venues you can consider.

4. Appropriateness for type of event and client goals – This may be the most subjective feature listed here, but it may well be the most important. And it first requires you to know precisely the needs and goals of your client so you can match up a venue with those specifications.

5. Security – An often overlooked but very important factor, this includes not only a venue’s security personnel but also things like security doors and limiting venue access to only guests/attendees (because who really needs event crashers).

6. Other groups using the venue at the same time as your event – If you are planning a sit-down conference with speakers, you probably don’t want a loud wedding reception next door disrupting your event. So make sure any simultaneous events at the venue (or even nearby) won’t conflict with or interrupt yours.

7. Customer service – Not only does the venue need to be responsive to your needs prior to the event, but it also needs to have adequate support staff on site during the event to respond to the needs and requests of you, your staff and your attendees.

8. Travel convenience – The location of the venue needs to be conveniently located for your attendees and within a reasonable distance so as not to require excessive travel; otherwise your attendance may suffer.

9. Parking and proximity to transportation options – On-site or nearby parking options for your guests are important (and cost of parking for your guests can be a deciding factor here). In addition, proximity to airports and public transit is also important if you have many guests who aren’t driving their own car to the event.

10. Accessible for persons with disabilities – This would include ramps, elevators and other amenities for those guests with physical disabilities as well as older guests who aren’t as mobile.

11. Nearby amenities and entertainment options – Attendees often need or want to partake in fun activities outside of the main event, so finding a venue that has entertainment and recreation options in house or nearby can be critical to your attendance numbers.

12. Reputation – Ask other event planners and vendors regarding their experiences with the venues you are considering. In addition, look at online reviews in forums and on sites like Yelp, Wedding Wire and Trip Advisor to round out your assessment of a venue’s reputation and track record.

13. Vendor restrictions – Some venues have a list of exclusive vendors that they will allow to perform work in their venue, so make sure if you are using outside vendors that you can bring them into the venue and that the venue will amicably work alongside them.

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Wedding Registry Hints, Etiquette, Do's & Don'ts

The one important point to remember about registry wording in your wedding invitation is, "Don't mention your wedding registry in your wedding invitation!"  Your wedding website, your shower invitation, and word of mouth are the only proper places to share this information.

Wedding registries are a $19 billion industry.  Imagine the possibilities if those dollar bills were going straight into bank accounts, one of them being yours!  Thanks to technology, and this fancy thing we call the internet, there are several ways to register for cash gifts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being practical in the 21st century.  Now that couples are marrying later in life, less traditional wedding registries are becoming totally acceptable! And there are tons of unconventional registries to choose from, so your guests can help support your travels, your home, or something else you really care about.  Here are some options for you:

  • The Honey Fund - Honeymoon registry
  • The Honeymoon - Another honeymoon registry
  • Hatch My House - House (as in building or buying one) registry
  • - A cross-company registry that has a huge range of options
  • - Another cross-company registry
  • MoMA - Funky registry at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC
  • Card Avenue - Specializes in gift cards
  • Bottlenotes - As mentioned above, this is for the couple that's really into wine
  • My Registry - Yet another that pulls from different companies and brands
  • Seven Hopes United - From the website: "Seven Hopes United specializes in marketing stylish, handmade, fair trade and eco-friendly gifts from around the globe. Your purchase of fair trade products ensures that our artisans are paid a living wage for their work, working conditions are safe, and no children are exploited."
  • Knack Registry - You can register for items, experiences and even services. Some of the items offered are not available at other retailers. A few things I've seen here range from a Kenyan safari honeymoon for around $2,000 (hey, you could have a long-lost relative who happens to be royalty!) to shower curtains for $40.

Wedding Registry Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Set up your registry early.
“From the moment you announce your engagement, friends and family will want to send gifts,” says Karena Bullock Bailey, a New York City-based wedding and special events planner.

Don’t: Register at just one location.
Two to three is ideal. If possible, at least one of them should have a brick and mortar store in the areas where many of your guests live―just because you dig the convenience of the web doesn’t mean that Nana feels the same. “The in-store option definitely makes certain guests more comfortable,” confirms Anna Post, author of 
Do I Have to Wear White? (Collins, $15).

Do: Register for a wide range of gifts at various price points.
People prefer choosing from a large selection: If you have, say, 100 invited guests, you’ll need a minimum of 125 registry items. Registering at one kitchen store, one home goods store, and one department store should cover all the bases. “About a third of your items should be under $50, a third from $50-$150, and the rest $150 and up,” says Bailey. As for the high end? Know your audience: “For one couple, having gifts that max out at $200 would be too much―for another, it’s $1,000-plus,” says Post. “If you’re questioning whether it’s appropriate, others probably will, too.”

Don’t: Reference your registry info on any stationery, such as your save the date or invitation.
You can, however, include the URL for your wedding website―which should contain the details of where you’re registered―on those printed materials. “It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone where you’re registered if they ask what kind of gift you’d like, but mentioning gifts in any way on your invitations is in very poor taste,” says Sue Fox, author of 
Etiquette for Dummies.

Do: Request nontraditional items if they reflect you as a couple.
“I have friends who registered at REI―their list included a tent and a canoe, which was perfectly acceptable because they’re outdoor enthusiasts,” says Fox. Wine registries for budding oenophiles and honeymoon registries―where guests can, say, pay for your breakfast in bed while you’re in Fiji―are becoming increasingly popular.

Don’t: Eliminate all time-honored items.
are limits: Feelings are still very mixed on items such as gadgets and electronics, which don’t fit the old-fashioned criteria as nest-building necessities. “It’s tough to justify something that will be outdated in two years,” notes Bailey. (Note: Any personal items, such as beauty products or clothing, are strictly off-limits.) To avoid ruffling any feathers, throw in at least a handful of traditional items to appease the old-school types who simply won’t be satisfied attending unless it’s with a blender in hand.

Do: Wait to use the presents that arrive before the wedding.
“Heaven forbid, should the event not take place for whatever reason, the rule of thumb is that all the gifts must be returned,” says Post. Lightly scratched service for twelve, anyone?

Don’t: Ask for money outright.
If cash is what you’re after, the only polite choice is to not register anywhere and pray that your guests get the message. Family and friends―
not you and your betrothed―can delicately spread the word. “They should use euphemisms for money like, “I know they would love help with a contribution toward the home they’re hoping to buy,” says Post. Just brace yourself for some unwanted salad tongs amid the checks you’ll receive.

Do: Write thoughtful, prompt thank-you notes; e-mails and calls don’t count.
Within six weeks of receiving the gift, write a note that references the specific object and how or why you will enjoy using it. Adds Fox, “Once you start receiving gifts, keep a log noting what you received, from whom, when―plus the date that you sent out the note. It’ll ensure that nothing gets overlooked.” It also makes for a handy reference tool the next time you’re scheduled to see Aunt Tilda and can’t remember if she got you the gravy boat or the juicer.

Good luck!


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Selecting YOUR wedding cake!

How soon should you start looking for YOUR wedding cake? Some people mistakenly think they put the choosing of their wedding cake at the bottom of their priority list. Most bakeries have their custom cakes calendared out weeks in advance. Special ingredients and decorations sometimes need to be ordered and, in some cases, created from scratch. 

After choosing your venue you can start looking for the perfect wedding cake for you. Questions your baker should ask you is wedding date, whether it's an indoor or outdoor wedding and head count. The baker will then suggest some icing or fondant relevant to your venue.

Word of mouth is the preferred way for many brides to find a baker, but attending bridal shows is another route.

"The cake's design should match the aesthetic of the day. A formal wedding generally calls for a structured, multi-tier cake; it can be elaborately or simply decorated, so long as its style implies something ceremonial and grand. These cakes are often round, but square or even hexagonal shapes are more unexpected -- and the tiers can be stacked for a solid look or set on pillars for an airy grace. White is the classic color for a wedding cake, but chocolate and tinted frostings can be just as elegant. For a less formal wedding, you can certainly embrace the unconventional. The cake can be iced playfully with swirls of meringue or strewn with flower petals that fall where they may. Or you can forgo a single cake altogether and opt for a trio of smaller cakes or even cupcakes, doughnuts, or pastries displayed on tiered cake stands for an impressive effect."  -  Martha Stewart

Lastly, arrange for a cake tasting before the cake is ordered. If the cake has multiple flavors, taste all of them. Basic flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla will vary depending on how the cake is made, its formulation, its frosting and more. Don't assume — taste!

Priority one should be the date of your wedding, priority 2 is the venue but don't let the cake be the lowest on your priority list.

Good luck!

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