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Wedding Planning Basics: The Groom’s Countdown

Here’s something you may not have encountered before… yes, the groom’s countdown. With – let’s be honest here – the bride handling so much of the wedding planning duties, it is relatively rare to come across a to-do list for grooms. Maybe the wedding experts out there just assume that the bride-to-be will fill her soon to be spouse in on what he ought to be doing and when? That being the case, no one will blame you if you’re feeling a little lost as to what the duties of a groom actually are.

grooms wedding planning duties - grooms countdown

Turns out that the list of what grooms are apparently responsible for is woefully short when compared to lists of the bride’s duties. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, of course, but I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that when it comes down to it I hope that you and your spouse-to-be find a wedding planning division of labor that works for you as a couple – and doesn’t leave you as a person exhausted and stressed out.

With that in mind, here is the generally accepted list of what grooms should be doing to help with the wedding planning:

12 to 18 Months Before

  • Meet with both sets of parents to discuss the budget and style of the wedding.
  • Go with your fiancée and book the reception site. Many sites fill up quickly so the earlier you pick a spot, the better!
  • Reserve your ceremony location.
  • Choose your groomsmen. Figure on one usher per 50 guests.

9 Months Before

  • Decide on an officiant.
  • Write out a preliminary guest list for “your side”. Be sure to get input from your parents.
  • Register at one or several locations along with your SO.
  • Accompany the bride-to-be at any tastings, meetings, and visits.

6 Months Before

  • Choose and order your attire and your groomsmen’s outfits.
  • Plan and book your honeymoon. Are you looking for fun, seclusion, fine dining? Contact a travel agent for help if necessary.

3 Months Before

  • Finalize the guest list.
  • Order your wedding bands and decide on inscriptions.
  • Check state requirements concerning marriage license eligibility.
  • Decide on living arrangements and order furnishings.

2 Months Before

  • Buy wedding gifts for your bride and groomsmen.
  • Pick up your wedding rings, make sure they fit properly and check the inscription for accuracy.

2 Weeks Before

  • Pick up your marriage license.
  • Give ushers instructions for seating the guests at the ceremony, especially if there are guests requiring special assistance.
  • Practice your toast to the bride’s family.
  • Pick up your rental attire and remind your groomsmen to do the same.
  • Arrange for someone to bring the gifts from the reception to your home.
  • Get a haircut.

1 Day Before

  • Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Give gifts to groomsmen.
  • Do something sweet for your bride (hint hint). A short love letter, a flower on her pillow…. she’s worked hard planning a wedding, so show her how much you appreciate her.

Of course, the groom’s duties can be anything. Maybe the groom-to-be is responsible for picking out and reserving the reception venue. Heck, maybe he’s responsible for picking out the bride’s wedding garter set – this is 2014, after all! The list above could be said to be the traditional list of groom’s to-dos, but we hope times are changing as more couples pay for their own weddings. We’re all for the guys taking on more!

What wedding planning duties has your groom-to-be taken on?

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Helpful Hints When Kids are in the Wedding Party

Kids in the wedding party? Cute. Also a potential hiccup in your big day because they’re unpredictable. But you want them there because they’re too darn cute – especially if they’re yours. And then of course you want them there, even if they cry their way down the aisle.

flower girl jewelry - flower girl tiara

As with anything else, the secret to successfully including kids in a wedding party is thoughtful pre-planning and then the kind of damage control that you can employ before a minor cry turns into an all-out tantrum. What follows are some of the best tips real brides – and moms of flower girls, too – have shared with us so tomorrow’s brides can have the best and most kid-friendly weddings possible.

  • Have a toy or book hidden under the petals of the basket for the flower girl to open once she has completed her walk. Or ready and waiting on the seat of the ring bearer’s chair if he’ll be sitting there during the rest of the ceremony. Make sure it’s something she can open quietly – and then play with quietly.
  • Don’t force a flower girl or ring bearer to go down the aisle alone… or at all! Let them walk with their mom or dad if they’re scared, and let them bow out (even at the last minute) if they need to.
  • Have someone in your family or from the parish (if you’re marrying at your church) ready to whisk younger ring bearers and flower girls off to the bridal suite or Sunday School room where snacks, toys, games, and crafts will be waiting for them. Better yet, so no one has to volunteer to miss your ceremony, have your flower girl’s parents ask their usual sitter to attend.
  • Don’t expect little ones to stand up with the rest of the wedding party for the whole ceremony – it’s unrealistic and even kind of mean.
  • Lois offered this tip: ” An attendant or a groomsmen should be assigned the task of keeping an eye on the kids during the service. Should the child become unruly, their parent should be alerted to come and remove the child from this focal point of the ceremony.”
  • Make sure mom or dad understand that they need to stay nearby to help keep their little lady or gentleman happy and well behaved before, during, and after the ceremony.
  • Recent flower girl mother, Lease Moon, had her daughter keep a diary about her flower girl experience as well as a calendar up in her daughter’s room to mark off the days until the wedding. Her daughter let everyone know she was keeping a “diarrhea” of the wedding, lol!
  • Remember, perfection isn’t the goal. You’re asking a little one to alter their morning routine, put on scratchy strange clothes and hard new shoes, sit for a hairstyle, keep a flower girl tiara on top of their head (for girls), get through per-ceremony pictures, hold a basket and not lose it, drop petals or carry a ring pillow, walk slow, walk straight, and then two hours later be expect to be clean, smiling and quiet for more pictures? Sure.
  • Make sure your flower girl and ring bearer’s parents have prepared them for the big day by talking to them about what they will be wearing and doing.
  • A calm easygoing bride is the best medicine for nervous flower girls and ring bearers and also helps to relax the mother as well. Keeping your expectations low and having a go with the flow attitude is the best strategy for the bride to be.
  • Lois Pearce, President, Beautiful Occasions in Hamden Connecticut has these additional comments about kids in weddings, “Children need praise. Praise them for their performance and thank them for their cooperation. They will react accordingly. All they want is a little love!”

How are you helping your littlest wedding attendants feel happy and comfortable on your wedding day?

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Bridesmaids Dresses: Short or Long?

As a bride-to-be, your responsibility for styling hair, makeup, wedding accessories, and clothing goes beyond your own look. You may have to find the perfect little flower girl dress and even help your groom choose his and his groomsmen’s suits. And of course, if you’re like most brides, you’ll be choosing the bridesmaids dresses your besties wear when they precede you down the aisle. This can be, how should I put this… awful, terrible, and stressful? You want your girls to look good. No, great! But they’re all different body types, the wedding is at a weird time of day, the venue you’ve chosen doesn’t clearly dictate what level of formal wear you should be aiming for, and of course, your maid of honor is knocked up.

I know, right?

But let me tell you that sometimes the easiest way to make any decision is to start small. You don’t need to choose a bridesmaids dress designer right this second. Or even a color or a cut. Start by simply choosing between long bridesmaids dresses and short bridesmaids dresses.

LR140XXThere are, of course, (for lack of a better word) benefits to both.

Short bridesmaids dresses may be easier to move in and more comfortable in the summer and late spring. They’re also fun and sweet and if the cut is right, just a little bit sassy.

Short bridesmaids dresses at a formal(ish) affair? It has been done and it can be a lot of fun!

Of course, beware the short bridesmaids dress on the short bridesmaids – many a ‘maid has complained in secret about having to wear a frock that makes her look like a munchkin. If you go short, let your bridal party control how they hem so they get the most flattering look out of the length.

2834Long dresses will (ahem) dress up your wedding – they’re generally perceived as more formal by guests. They may also be warmer if you’re having a fall or winter wedding.

And depending on the cut, a long gown can hide a multitude of sins for those who are worried about body image. Some bridesmaids may simply feel more comfortable in a dress that conceals more than it reveals.

The downside comes in the form of a price tag. For better or for worse, long dresses will be more expensive. Not to mention more difficult to find if you’re letter your ladies pick their own gowns.

And with all that simplification out of the way, I’m going to say that I don’t care what Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids’ Lori says – in the year 2014 it is perfectly acceptable to mix and match lengths the same way it is perfectly okay to mix and match dresses. This is not prehistory. Your ‘maids are not there to confuse demons into snatching one of them instead of you. If you love how mismatched bridesmaids look, then mismatch to your heart’s content!

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Questions to Ask a Reception Venue Before Signing the Contract

questions to ask a reception venue wedding

Okay, so you’ve searched high and low and you have finally found what seems like the ultimate wedding reception venue. But wait, before you sign on the dotted line and hand over that deposit, make sure you’ve asked all of the right questions. What? You want to know what the right questions actually are? Then read on, bride-to-be, for a primer in how to plan a perfect party without getting burned.

The Size and Particulars of the Venue

Can the facility comfortably accommodate the size wedding and number of guests you are planning? If you’re planning a large wedding, inquire as to the largest reception the facility has handled. Does it have handicap access? Does it have air conditioning? Is there a room available for the bride to use during the reception to change clothes or just freshen up?

Your Wedding Date

Is it available? Ask if there are any other events or weddings booked for that day. Some facilities will only book one wedding a day and that’s great! Other reception locations may book two weddings back to back. And of course, large hotels can have many weddings going on simultaneously. Just be sure you know all of the details for the day of your reception.

The Decor

If you haven’t seen it already, ask to see pictures of the facility as it would be set up for a wedding. Can you make any changes? Make sure that if there are certain decorations that you see now and like, that they will still be available on your wedding date. Ask if they are doing any remodeling or redecorating from now until your wedding day. When booking sites sometimes a year or more ahead of time, some brides have been a little disappointed when they’ve fallen in love with a certain look of their reception site and come back for their wedding to find that it looks totally different!

The Number of Hours

Most receptions last for four or five hours. Ask how many hours you will have for your reception. Some facilities will give you four hours and charge you additionally (sometimes another $500) for every additional hour. Be sure to ask when you must be out of the facility and if there is an additional charge for going over the allotted time.

$$$$$

How much is the total rental fee? And specifically, what does the price include? Ask about the deposit, how much and when is the balance due? Ask if they have any “wedding packages”. Sometimes facilities will offer a wedding package including food, flowers, wedding cake and even a limo. Although you limit some of your choices, it can save you lots of time and money!

Extra Charges

If it’s a banquet hall or historic estate, do you have to rent chairs and tables, and if so, is this an extra charge? What about linens and glassware are they included? Is there a cake cutting fee? What about a corking fee? (When you purchase your own alcohol for the reception, a corking fee is sometimes charged for each bottle of wine opened.)

The Food (and the Cake, too)

If the facility is a hotel or restaurant and will provide the food for the wedding, make sure that you’ve had an opportunity to sample the food and talk about menu choices. If you choose a location which requires an outside caterer, ask if you’re required to choose from their approved list or can you choose any caterer?

Alcohol and Bar Service

Does the facility provide the alcohol and bar service or do you bring your own alcohol? What about bartenders? Are there any restrictions about the type or quantity of alcohol to be served? Do they require a cash bar or is open bar an option? Ask about their liability insurance and if it is sufficient for your size wedding.

Entertainment

Make sure the dance floor is big enough to accommodate your guests. Ask the facility manager to show you where the band or DJ would set up their equipment. Make sure the facility can accommodate them adequately. Does the venue have an in-house DJ?

Parking

Is it readily available? Do you need to hire a parking attendant or valet? Are there any events (i.e. festivals, parades, sporting events) that will make parking difficult for your guests?

Restrictions

Ask if there are any restrictions in regards to using the facility. For instance, some historic estates have certain restrictions or rules regarding smoking, lit candles, and alcohol.

Overnight Accommodations

Ask if the facility has overnight accommodations for your out-of-town guests. If it is a hotel, can you reserve a block of rooms at a discount?

The Wedding Coordinator

Many facilities will have a Wedding Coordinator on staff and at no extra charge. The role of the Wedding Coordinator is to make sure that everything runs smoothly for your wedding day! The Coordinator keeps the wedding on schedule and is “the person” for the caterer, DJ/band, florist, or even the bride to go to if they have questions.

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The Top 16 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding Reception

orange wedding reception table

Here’s a “fun” fact: the reception is nearly always the most costly part of the wedding. Spring for a real pearl wedding tiara or a designer dress, and shoes that cost more than your rent – you still won’t top the cost of the reception. It makes sense. Wining and dining 100+ people is seldom (okay never) cheap, and if anyone can justify the upsell that wedding vendors are so often accused of its the space where the whole shebang goes down.

Still, my motto is always ‘Why pay more when you don’t have to?’ There’s nothing that says you have to lay out big bucks on your wedding reception. You’ll be just as married if you don’t, after all. Chances are that even if you’re a budget bride your reception will still be the costliest part of your nuptials – but costliest doesn’t have to mean it’s a budget buster. Here are 16 ways you can save money on a wedding reception without sacrificing style or good times.

1. Reserve your banquet hall or reception space early so they put a cap on the price per person. Who knows what the cost per head will be six months from now when open days are few and far between? When you’re sure you’ve found the right space, pull the trigger.

2. Think outside of the box. Instead of a traditional banquet hall or country club, consider hosting your wedding reception at a community center, nature conservatory, greenhouse, library, museum or church hall. Some alternative options are actually more expensive, but not all!

3.Getting married in the off season really can be a money saver. Could you see yourself getting married on a Friday or Sunday morning – could your guests even make it? If that’s too much to ask, late fall and winter wedding dates are often the friendliest options when it comes to your wallet.

4. Have a cash bar instead of an open bar. Will some people give you the stink eye? Yup, but if they’re so déclassé as to absolutely require free booze to have a good time then who needs ‘em!

5. Instead of treating your wedding guests to a full sit-down dinner, have a champagne cocktail and dessert reception with nibbles, a small selection of cocktails, coffee, and wedding cake. Truth be told, I have never not left a cocktail reception full – you can enjoy plenty of food without sitting down to do it.

6. Keep the guest list small. Fewer mouths to feed translates to a smaller bill at the end of the big day. Cutting down the guest list is hard, I know, but believe me when I say that most people won’t actually be offended when they don’t receive an invite.

7. Buy your own alcohol, if your reception venue allows it. I’ve written about putting together a DIY wedding bar before.

8. Limit the nibbles circulating before the meal if you’re having a sit down dinner. Consider three or four food stations, instead of eight or nine butler-passed hor d’oeuvres. Or scrap the whole works and let guests satisfy themselves with one lovely meal.

9. Steer clear of anything with “market price” on the menu, obviously. Comfort foods are often nicely priced and can be spruced up so as to make them trendy and fun. Think stuff like grilled cheese sliders and tomato soup shots.

10. Ask your reception site about guaranteed numbers. You might still have to pay for 150 guests even though 120 showed up, but the discount you could get might just make it worth it. Or heck, just flat out ask for a discount. You never know when someone might be in a good mood and the worst you’ll hear is no.

11. Prioritize. If you’re not a huge cake fan but want a wedding cake for the fun of it, let them eat chocolate and vanilla instead of shelling out for a tier each of peach spice, key lime, and almond torte. Don’t care for beer? Don’t serve it. Do you really care about the relative quality of the linens? Think about what you’re paying for before signing on the dotted line.

12. Pick daytime over dinner – lunch or brunch receptions tend to cost less than dinnertime affairs in part because lunchy and brunchy foods are budget-friendly. And who doesn’t love brunch?

orange wedding reception flowers

13. DIY your reception table centerpieces. It’s amazing what you can do with some glass jars or vintage bottles and fresh flowers – no prior experience in the florist industry required. Make sure, however, that you’re not still paying a fee for decorations provided by the venue.

14. Though it seems counter-intuitive, consider letting your reception venue do all the work. Why not DIY wherever and whenever you can? Because professionals working at a site can often do it cheaper because they do it A LOT and have access to discounts you don’t. Sometimes getting a deal is as easy as having the venue provide not only the space, but the food, drink, cake, music, and decor.

15. Switch cities. Just for the big day, of course. If you live somewhere like Manhattan or Boston, you could save big bucks on reception costs by getting married in your Middle American home town.

16. Ask for help. Controversial? Yes, but often worth it. Skilled friends may be only too willing to help out with your reception. I recommend only asking very good friends to pitch in – you know, the cousin who is like a sister and just happens to be a first class cake designer or your very best best friend who actually does arrange flowers for a living.

And there you have it. You really can plan a wedding reception that’s fabulous and frugal, too, so you have more money to devote to what really matters. Like wedding jewelry, hint hint.

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All About Boutonnieres

Boutonnieres are the corsage of the wedding menswear world. More than just a lapel decoration for the groom and his groomsmen, they’re actually useful. They let your wedding guests see who the ushers, best man and special family members are at a glance. Typically, the father and grandfather of both the bride and the groom wear boutonnieres, though who exactly gets the honor of a boutonniere is up to the couple.

easy wedding DIY - book themed wedding

I pity the poor boutonniere, actually, because it’s often an afterthought – chosen not for its own merits but crafted simply as the bridesmaids’ bouquets in miniature. Is it because it’s a wedding accessory for men? Since I’m not one to dabble in the battle of the sexes, I’m not going to go there. But suffice it to say that it is the rare bride-to-be indeed who puts hours of effort into finding the ultimate boutonniere design for her intended and his attendants.

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Want to be that rare bride who ensures that her groom’s wedding accessories are as stunning as her own? Then read on for things to keep in mind when researching and choosing boutonnieres:

1. Boutonnieres can range in price anywhere from $3.00 – $15.00 each – or sometimes even more – depending on the type of flowers and the intricacy of the design. If you are on a budget, stick with a simple style. Or DIY!

2. But wait, boutonnieres don’t have to involve flowers at all. See the bookish boutonniere above, for instance. I’ve seen boutonnieres made from yarn, super hero action figures, fruit and vegetables (no kidding), dice, and more. The sky is the limit here – if it fits, it’ll work.

3. Be sure the groom stands out from the crowd by making his boutonniere different from the rest, in style, color, type of flower or design.

4. The most popular flower used for boutonnieres is roses. Shocking, I know. But think beyond the rose if your bridal bouquet won’t feature this flower prominently. Other flowers that can be used include small orchids, stephanotis, freesia, or yes, carnations.

5. Boutonnieres aren’t worn in the buttonhole but rather over it. Traditionally, boutonnieres are worn on the left lapel but I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Using a pearl head pin? Usually the boutonniere itself should conceal the pearl.

6. The rules most brides follow re: bouquets may apply. A big, burly groom can pull off a wider, more dramatic boutonniere while the tall, thin groom might choose a boutonniere to match.

boutonniere

7. Think you can’t have big style in a small package? Think again! This is a wonderful area to get creative because the groom and groomsmen’s lapels are such a neutral backdrop that even minor details will pop. If you love the look of the classic floral boutonniere, consider embellishments like burlap (for the rustic wedding), ribbon, tartan, etc.

What kind of boutonniere will YOUR groom be wearing?

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How Much Can One Bride Really DIY?

Excited to DIY your wedding? And why not! DIY can save money and is a fun way to personalize your wedding. Well, sometimes. We are all for DIYing some or even all of your wedding ceremony and reception details provided you have the time, the experience necessary, and yes, the cash. Because DIY is actually not always the least expensive option. And DIY can be hard.

easy wedding decor DIY - burlap bunting

There’s a reason that wedding cake bakers and seamstresses who specialize in alterations on wedding dresses and professional photographers get paid so much for what can seem like so little work to an outsider’s eyes.

But let’s say you’re determined to tackle one or more DIY projects. Okay. There’s no one answer to how much a bride-to-be can reasonably DIY for her wedding. But it’s not that hard to gauge how much you personally can take on.

easy wedding DIY - book themed wedding

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a job? How stressful is your job?
  • Will you have help from bridesmaids or your intended?
  • Have you ever: arranged flowers, baked a tiered cake, brewed beer, etc.?
  • How much time do you have before the wedding?
  • Is DIY realistic given your circumstances and experience?
  • No, be honest, is it really realistic?

If you don’t want wedding planning to turn into a giant cluster you-know-what of stress and tears then you have to be absolutely truthful with yourself about your skill level and how much time you have at your disposal.

easy wedding decor DIY

If your dream is to DIY your wedding cake, do you have enough time to make two or three practice cakes – as in, full size, fully decorated cakes? If it’s DIY wedding invitations you’re after, do you have design experience? Want to make your own wedding jewelry? Sew your own gown? Handcraft your bridal veil? That all sounds wonderful and we support your efforts, but don’t kill yourself trying to do things you don’t even know if you’re good at.

After all, there’s not much worse than having to run to David’s Bridal the day before your wedding to grab something from off the rack and hope to God it fits! And there’s nothing wrong with working with professionals to ensure things are as close to perfect as they can possibly be.

In other words: Be confident when you DIY but for goodness sakes, know your limits!

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Can I Really Choose ANY Bridesmaids Dresses?

Sometimes the utterly overwhelming range of options can put brides-to-be into a tailspin. Not only are their potentially hundreds of ceremony and reception venues to choose from, thousands of styles of crystal and pearl wedding jewelry, millions of wedding gowns, and an infinite number of cake flavor combinations, there are also the things brides need to pick for others. Even your wedding colors will impact your wedding VIPs!

One of the biggest for others picks a bride-to-be will make is the bridesmaids’ dresses because the bride is choosing clothing for other people – and clothing can be a pretty personal thing. The bridesmaid who feels less than body confident may prefer a very different dress than the bridesmaid who is a fitness instructor, for instance. The color that looks smashing on one washes another out. One finds strapless bridesmaids’ dresses flattering. Another thinks they’re immodest.

Film Title: Bridesmaids

And so on and so forth.

Of course, the bride-to-be has final say over what the bridesmaids will wear just like she has final say over almost everything else. That doesn’t mean that she can’t do the kind thing and take her bridesmaids’ sizes, preferences, and personalities into account when choosing bridesmaids dresses. There is something to be said for good manners and there’s almost nothing more mannerly than making sure that the people who will celebrate your big day with you will be comfortable and happy and look their best.

alfred sung bridesmaids dresses

If your bridesmaids are all very different people, this gets more difficult. Your options include simply making a final choice after taking everyone’s opinions and preferences into account, letting bridesmaids choose their own dresses in one color or color family, or choosing a designer and letting bridesmaids pick frocks from a particular collection in one specific color.

You may be surprised at how grateful your bridesmaids are that you’ve either given them even the chance to offer up some input or the full freedom to choose their own dresses. Never forget that letting someone else dress you can be a pretty scary thing.

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12 Tips for Having Children in Weddings

Inviting children to take part in your wedding ceremony can make it even more special – especially if you yourself have kids or your spouse to be is a dad or mom. However, the last thing you want to worry about is your flower girl or ring bearer becoming impatient, restless, fidgety, or tantrum-y on the day of the wedding.

children in weddings

Remember, weddings can get pretty boring for kids and worse, it can seem like it takes forever to get to the one thing most kids care about: cake. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that the day goes smoothly when you’re including children in weddings:

As a general rule, when choosing children to take part in your wedding as a flower girl or ring bearer, it is usually best (or at least more predictable) to pick children ages four and above. Now of course each child is different and you’ll want to consider their personality (very shy vs. outgoing) and maturity level as well. Keep in mind that very young children will be more unpredictable than older kids.

In the weeks before the wedding day, talk to your flower girl and ring bearer (or have their parents talk to them) about the events that will take place before and throughout the wedding day so they know what to expect. Some little ones get nervous about being in weddings because they don’t know what’s going to happen on the big day.

Explain what they will wear, where they will go and what they will have to do. The better young attendants can visualize their role in the wedding, the better prepared they will be to cooperate and participate as you would like them to.

flower girl jewelry - children in weddings

Choose outfits for the flower girl and ring bearer that are comfortable. Choose comfortable fabrics, ones that don’t scratch or irritate the skin. Be sure the children wear comfortable shoes, and if the shoes are new, that they have a chance to “break them in” prior to the wedding day. For little girls, a special flower girl jewelry set can go a long way toward making her job seem special.

Purchase some books! There are some wonderful books that not only inform flower girls and ring bearers of their role in the wedding, but also welcome and celebrate them as a very special part of the bridal party.

Invite all of your young attendants and their parents to the rehearsal. Let the children practice walking down the aisle several times so that they will feel more comfortable of their role on the “big day”.

Make sure that the children know exactly where their parents will be seated during the ceremony. Depending on the length and style of the ceremony, you may want the children to go and sit with their parents during the ceremony. For littler kids, place parents in the front row so they can walk down the aisle and right to their moms and dads.

The parents of the flower girl and ring bearer should be invited to the rehearsal dinner. However, many rehearsal dinners can go as late as 10:00 or even later – if you’ll be having fun late into the night talk with the parents to see if a babysitter can be arranged ahead of time.

Ask the parents of your flower girl and ring bearer to make sure their children are well rested before the wedding (without implying that they won’t be, of course). A good night’s sleep the night before, or even a nap the day of, can help little ones get through the day with smiles on their faces instead of frowns.

flower girls and ring bearers

Assign a bridesmaid to each child in the bridal party. Have each of your secret helpers keep a goody bag handy. Fill it with nutritious treats (dry cereal, crackers, carrot sticks), crayons and paper, a bottle of water and small travel games. These kid supplies will come in handy while traveling from the church to the reception, while waiting for photographs to be taken, and during the reception.

Take pictures with the flower girl and ring bearer as early in the day as possible, preferably before the ceremony. Then there is less chance that their outfits could get dirty, torn, wrinkled; you know how kids are!

Be sure to express your heartfelt appreciation to the children in your bridal party. Photographs make a cherished gift for parents of flower girls and ring bearers of all ages. For your littlest attendants themselves, opt instead for toys and other things children will appreciate.

Kids are unpredictable! All the practice and preparation in the world does not mean that they will perform their role flawlessly. Don’t expect perfection and laugh at the hiccups. Remember, if it doesn’t go just as planned, it will make for entertaining clips in your wedding video!

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The 10 Most Asked Questions by Brides-to-Be

Etiquette-schmetiquette, until you’re planning a wedding. Then it’s all wedding etiquette, all the time, because you know how easily offended some people are and there is no leaving those folks off your guest list. Here are 10 questions brides-to-be ask us and our answers because there’s a good chance you’ve been wondering, too.

1. How can I let people know where I am registered?

Word of mouth is really only the “proper” way to inform people where you are registered. You really must wait until they ask you or other family members. The one exception: all close family members and your attendants should be told where you are registered so they can inform others when they’re asked. And they will be asked. Okay, there is one more exception – but one that is still considered unmannerly by many. Most couples these days are putting their wedding registry information on their wedding websites.

2. How can I ask for money instead of a gift?

Hold up. There is literally no way to politely ask for money as wedding gifts in lieu of something else without being totally, utterly tacky. I’m afraid this is a cardinal rule of etiquette that must be taken seriously. You can plant the seeds with close family and attendants but even then, it’s still kind of tacky. That said, here’s a trick that could just get you cold hard cash: don’t register. Anywhere. People are much more likely to give you a check when you haven’t registered anywhere. But when guests do come bearing gifts that don’t fit into an envelope, accept them graciously.

formal wedding - adults only wedding receptions

3. How can I let people know that I don’t want children at the wedding?

The only thing you can do is not include the children’s names on the invitations. However, you’ll find that some people will still want to bring their children. Hopefully they will ask if that’s okay at which time you absolutely can say that your ceremony and reception will be adults only – just make sure you say it kindly. Should you find yourself in a situation where children are coming, be prepared with a “kids table” that includes crayons, coloring books, and candy. Don’t print Adults Only on your invitation.

4. Who pays for what?

A growing trend today is for wedding expenses to be shared among the bride and groom, as well as each of their families. Don’t rely on traditional ‘who pays for what’ lists without actually consulting your families and one another. You may be expecting your parents to pay for most of the event when it’s not in their budget. Or your future in-laws may have some ideas about what they would like to pay for. It never hurts to ask – just be mannerly about it.

5. How many invited guests should I expect will actually attend my wedding?

The general rule of thumb is if you’re inviting over 200 guests, then you can estimate that about 25-28% of your guests will be unable to attend. If you are inviting fewer than 200 guests, then the percentage usually decreases to about 15-20% or less. Other factors include how many guests you invite that live out-of-town and the travel distance required to attend the wedding. Ultimately, there is no way to predict with certainty how many people with RSVP yes. Remember, every family and guest list is different, so always be prepared in case everyone is able to come! And please, no A lists and B lists because that sort of thing has a way of getting out.

maid of honor responsibilities

6. What are the Maid of Honor’s responsibilities?

The main role of the Maid of Honor is to help the bride with the wedding planning. This can include shopping for dresses, addressing invitations, putting together favors and just being there when the bride needs some extra help, support or someone to talk to. However, don’t choose your MOH based on who you think can give you the most help. If your favorite person in the whole world lives miles and miles away, pick them anyway. And don’t forget to buy her some stunning bridesmaids jewelry to make her feel beautiful on your big day as a thank you in either case.

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7. What is appropriate to wear for a second wedding?

No matter whether it is your first, second or third wedding… the focal point is still the wedding dress. Many second-time brides choose a simpler, more elegant or sophisticated wedding dress. Many choose a floor length or cocktail length dress in white, off-white or a pretty pastel. Many “etiquette experts” advise second-time brides to not wear a veil or a long train for their second wedding. Don’t listen to them! This is your day, wear what you want to wear! Maybe you had a very small first wedding and now you want to go all out! Wear what makes you feel beautiful!

personalize your wedding - custom wedding details

8. How Do I Personalize my Wedding?

There are plenty of tips and ideas to make your wedding unique and personal. But, which ideas are right for you. Only you can decide. Think about what is important to you and your fiancé. Think about special interests or hobbies that you share together. Or, maybe there is a special place, the beach or some quaint little Inn you went to when he proposed. Incorporate these elements and these “feelings” into your wedding and it will be truly unique and personal. Theme weddings are okay but expect some opinions!

9. Should I tip my wedding vendors?

Your caterer or reception site serving the food will most likely include their gratuities with your bill. So, a tip is not necessarily expected. As for your other vendors (wedding consultant, band or DJ, limo driver, photographer), again a tip is not required if they are business owners. Employees of a business should always be tipped. It never hurts to ask a particular vendor if they are expecting a tip.

10. What fee should I pay my clergy or wedding ceremony officiant?
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