The New ‘Must Haves’: Designer Lighting

We may be dating ourselves by saying this, but we remember when the only real wedding must have was one’s betrothed and someone official to take the couple through the vows. Nowadays, if the bridal rags have it right, practically everything related to the wedding is considered a must have by someone.

Part of that is confirmation bias, of course. A wedding DJ will almost always tell you that a wedding DJ is an absolute must have. We tend to look at wedding jewelry as a must have, but at the very least we’re not suggesting every bride drape herself in every possible accessory. The father of the bride typically sees the father-daughter dance as a must have. It makes a lot of sense, if you think about it, for the bride to see her bridal shoes as a wedding must have and for the mother of said bride to see her special day ensemble as a must have. In general, though, the firm must haves have been pretty cut and dry.

Until marketers started turning everything under the sun into a must have. Save-the-dates? Are, in our opinion, a must have only if you’re trying to coordinate a destination wedding. Wedding favors? Lovely if you like them, but entirely unnecessary from an etiquette point of view. Fresh flowers? Plenty of weddings have gone off without a hitch with NO flowers. You get the idea.

One recent must have we’ve seen advertised as absolutely non-negotiable in wedding magazines and on websites is designer reception lighting. Yep, designer lighting costing anywhere between $500 and $5,000. Is it gorgeous? Absolutely, when done right – which means you’re closer to the four-figure side of things than the three-figure side of things. But is it necessary? We’d argue no. Not a must have. This is one of those wedding reception enhancements that we will ooh and ah over when we encounter it at a wedding, but we’re certainly not going to think any less of a wedding budget that doesn’t include designer lighting as a line item.

So if you can’t swing the cost of a lighting designer for your wedding or just don’t think pin lighting or a multi-color display will do much to beautify your venue, then feel free to spend your bridal bucks elsewhere with our expert blessing.

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The Top 8 Reasons to Delay Your Honeymoon

1. You won’t have to deal with the stress of planning a wedding and a honeymoon simultaneously, and even better, you won’t have to deal with the stress of getting through the ceremony and reception and then going to the airport, getting on a plane, and checking into a hotel back to back. In other words, you can avoid the post-wedding rush.

2. The perfect wedding weather in your local area may not coincide with the perfect honeymoon weather at your dream destination. Avoiding monsoon (or blizzard or tourist) season during your honeymoon might mean waiting a few weeks or even months to celebrate your newly married status. Don’t worry, though – no one is going to check that you’re actually newlyweds.

3. Deciding to delay a honeymoon can mean more funds to devote to the wedding – or the honeymoon. That might mean you can spend bigger bucks on real pearl wedding jewelry or the catering or hire a live wedding band instead of a DJ. Budget brides may find themselves scrimping on the reception to pay for a honeymoon or vice versa. A delay can mean more money for one, the other, or even both.

4. Speaking of money, if you happen to have generous friends and relatives who give checks instead of gifts, waiting until after you’ve opened all those congratulatory envelopes can mean the difference between a fun honeymoon and the trip of a lifetime.

5. Waiting to take a honeymoon could mean you get to take a longer vacay, especially if you’re already taking a few days off for your wedding and you didn’t have that many vacation days to begin with.

6. Destination brides and grooms considering turning the wedding weekend into a honeymoon can avoid having to say they shared their honeymoons with moms, dads, aunts, and uncles by taking a separate honeymoon a few months or a year later. Trust us when we say that trying to maintain that honeymoon mood isn’t easy when you have relatives knocking on your door!

7. Waiting gives you time to decompress after the wedding and to focus on things like combining households (if you didn’t already live together), return unwanted wedding guests, deal with your wedding gown, finish paying your wedding vendors, and just breathe.

8. Being able to plan a honeymoon for any point in the year may let you grab crazy discounts on hotel rooms, cruises, airfare, and other honeymoon costs. For some couples, being able to score first class tickets or a luxury suite is worth the wait!

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Unique Wedding Ceremony Seating: A Ceremony in the Round

Are you a bride-to-be planning a wedding and searching for unique ceremony ideas? Rites and rituals aside, one way to personalize a wedding ceremony is to switch up your ceremony seating with round set up. The circle itself is symbolic of eternity – a visual representation of ‘I’ll love you forever’ – and of wholeness, so we think it’s perfect in terms of symbolism.

It won’t work for every couple, of course, but consider a three- or four-section round seating pattern or even a spiral if you’re having an outdoor wedding where you have control over the seating pattern!

It’s unexpected, so you’ll have an opportunity to wow your wedding guests from the moment they enter your ceremony space. And for larger weddings, it gives more guests an opportunity to get a good view of the vows. Photographers like round ceremony seating, too, since there are more chances to grab pics of the couple’s expressions and the guests’ reactions.

It’s a beautiful way to seat wedding guests, no? Is this a ceremony idea you’re considering?

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6 Tips for Brides: Asking Someone to Be Your Bridesmaid

For some brides-to-be, finding bridesmaid jewelry is actually easier than picking bridesmaids. And then once the on-paper picking is done, there’s still the matter of asking the chosen ones to actually be a part of the ceremony and reception. This can actually be kind of anxiety inducing – especially among brides-to-be who are unsure that their best friends will be able to (or want to) handle the commitment. But never fear! We’re here to help you over the hump of asking your girls to become your bridesmaids, and we’ve chosen six of our favorite ideas to inspire you. Can you just text ‘do u want 2 b my bm?’ to your favorite friends? Sure, but if you have a little time or some spare wedding cash, why not get creative!

1. Get Bookish: When you ask each potential ‘maid to join your bridal party, present her with a how to be a bridesmaid type book. Or let the book do the talking, and wrap it up like a present before popping the question.

2. Do It In Style: If you have the budget for it, think of something that each potential bridesmaid has been coveting for a while and buy it. Then use it as the vehicle to ask each gal pal to be in the bridal party. For example, a Coach purse (or maybe a wristlet) could hold a card reading ‘Will You Be My Bridesmaid?’

3. Make Bridesmaid Boxes: Painted cigar boxes (see above) become beautiful keepsakes and a way to share the relevant details of your ceremony and reception with potential attendants. You can stick to wedding ideas or use the opportunity to share precious memories from your relationships with each of your friends.

4. Label Them: It doesn’t get much clearer than handing over a tank that spells out ‘bridesmaid’ in sparkling letters. This method also does double duty since it gives your ‘maids something fun to wear on the night of your bachelorette party.

5. Propose, Literally: Can bridesmaid jewelry come before the bridesmaid? Why not! A beautiful box, the perfect moment, and a gorgeous bridesmaid jewelry set can make that moment when you pop the question feel special. And who doesn’t like getting jewelry?

6. Bridesmaid in Bulk: If all of your besties live close to one another, gather every one of your gal pals for a fancy lunch and invite them all into the wedding party at once. Presuming everyone says yes, that lunch has just become your first pre-wedding party!

Image: Bethany from Rinse. Repeat.

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Wedding Ceremony Ideas: The Wedding Anniversary Box

When it comes to ceremony ritual ideas, everyone has their own ideas. But one ceremony idea that is really catching on is the wedding anniversary box.

Basically, it’s a keepsake box that can hold… well, anything that you’d like to have on an anniversary. For some brides and grooms, it holds keepsakes from the wedding – an invitation, the bride’s wedding jewelry, a photo, a letter from each half of the couple, etc. – with instructions to open the box and gush over it in 10, 20, or 50 year’s time. Kind of like a time capsule. Other couples pack away wine from the year they got married, one for each decade to be popped on their anniversary. And we especially like the idea of asking friends and family for advice for each year of marriage. Once a year, the couple opens a special message from someone they care about.

As for how the wedding anniversary box can be incorporated into the wedding ceremony, there are plenty of ideas out there about that, too. Some brides and grooms prepare the box ahead of time and say something like a blessing over it after their vows. There are also wooden boxes that couples can nail shut or lock – no peeking! – when they want to be sure they won’t be tempted to open the anniversary box before the intended anniversary. Sometimes brides and grooms will collect advice during the reception, kind of like a wishing well for cards but with good advice instead of cash. There are lots of ways to make this new tradition your own!

Have you heard of this touching idea? Are you planning to incorporate a wedding anniversary box into your ceremony?

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Wedding Reception Ideas: Hit the Bar

Just for a little minute, we’d like to talk about something other than wedding jewelry. Something sweet, in fact, and sometimes savory. Agonizing over wedding reception menus is a bad habit most brides-to-be just can’t shake and we have a fun solution. Namely, letting reception guests hit the bar… the soda bar and the pizza bar and the coffee bar. What’s up with all of the wedding reception bars? Think of this refreshment style as a cousin to the common buffet, just with more themey goodness.

Don’t those photos in our wedding reception bar inspiration board look divine? And are you getting as hungry as we are? If not, you will be by the time you read through this list of some of the reception bars we’ve encountered recently:

  • Milkshake bar
  • Snow cone bar
  • Milk and cookie bar
  • Wine and cheese bar
  • Hot cocoa bar
  • Sundae bar
  • Cupcake bar
  • Soda bar
  • Trail mix bar
  • Pie bar
  • Popcorn bar
  • Candy bar
  • Pizza bar
  • Pickle bar
  • Coffee bar

Now for some couples, the reception *whatever* bar is an extra – for others, it’s the whole shebang. Both subsets of all barrin’ couples are doing it up the right way. No matter what your bar of choice is, feel free to make it a little treat or the main event at your reception. And then invite us! Because we <3 a good bar.

Images: A Beautiful Mess; Wedding Planning Fun; The Bridal District; On a Sweet Note; Oh Happy Day; Lacey in the City

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Inspired by: Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee has put us in a royal mood! While there were more hats than crowns at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, there is still something about the British monarchy in general that makes us think of regal wedding jewelry – in this case, bridal tiaras!

For the bride who not only wants to feel like a princess, but also look like one, the Alexandra is an excellent choice. Gold plated, with large and small sparkling rhinestones and an elegant ornamental scroll design that coordinates with almost any style of wedding gown – though we like to imagine it paired with a traditional ball gown style with the kind of train that wouldn’t look out of place at Westminster Abbey!

Are you including a crown as part of your wedding jewelry ensemble?

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What Kind of Brides Wear Bridal Tiaras?

We’ve had so many of our bridal clients come to us cautiously looking for the perfect bridal tiara that we eventually had to ask ourselves why there were so many tentative shoppers out there. When we dug a little, it turned out that a lot of brides-to-be were worried about looking overdone or over-the-top and feared that the drama of a, say, Swarovski crystal bridal tiara would make them look stuck up rather than elegant. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth! Today’s bridal tiaras are every bit as sophisticated as bridal hair brooches and pins – and not, we’d like to point out, trying to be the crown jewels.

In fact, a bridal tiara can be a perfect accompaniment to a bride’s overall wedding day look, harmonizing fabulously with her bridal jewelry, gown, and shoes. Can a tiara stand out and play a starring role in wedding day attire? Absolutely, if that’s what the bride wants. Most brides who choose tiaras, however, aren’t looking for something queenly so much as something that will show off their beautiful hairstyles and in many cases, a simple veil. And tiaras are a great way to do just that while also being easier for many brides to wear than clips or hair pins.

If you’re a bride-to-be and you’re not wholly sold on bridal tiaras just yet, keep these 5 tiara buying tips in mind:

1. Buying a bridal tiara may be more complicated than finding something you like and clicking ‘purchase’. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time for exchanges, just in case.

2. Consider your hair length, your anticipated wedding day hairstyle, and how difficult a given tiara will be to secure in place through your ceremony and reception.

3. Your face shape matters, so look for guides that will help you choose a bridal tiara that looks beautiful on you.

4. Tiaras come in different heights, so consider how much height you want to add to your wedding day look when choosing a tiara.

5. Don’t forget your dress! Tiaras come in so many styles, colors, and metals, so be sure that the tiara you choose complements your wedding gown instead of competing with it.

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Brides: Wear What YOU Love, Not What Someone Else Likes Best

As a bride, everywhere you look, someone is telling you what to do. And it’s not just the magazines and wedding planning websites, either. In addition to the pressure to be trendy or to DIY your wedding to the nines, we’re guessing you have well-intentioned friends and relatives who are offering up unsolicited advice left and right. The big ones? Are usually that brides have to wear white… that bridesmaids have to match… that you have to serve cake… have a wedding DJ… wear high heels and a bridal jewelry set… toss the bouquet… There are plenty more. We could probably spend the next hour listing off the “musts” that poor brides-to-be have thrust upon them as soon as they start wedding planning. It can get irritating – or disheartening, depending on whether you were excited to buck the trends or you simply were trying to cut down on costs.

Here’s the thing, though. There are only a few real “musts” in the wedding planning world. You must speak your vows in whatever way is required in your state. You must feed and entertain your wedding guests – if, that is, you’re having guests at your wedding. And that’s about it. Wedding favors? Not necessary. Cake? It’s up to you. An iPod can stand in for your DJ if you really want it to. There’s no rule saying you have to have a sit down meal at your reception.

Brides, as it turns out, actually have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to what they “must” do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. For every bride who wants to wear Swarovski crystal bridal jewelry there’s a bride who wants to wear a simple veil and no other accessories. Most brides still choose white, but we’ve been to many weddings where the bride walked down the aisle in red, purple, green, or even black – and saved a bundle of money as a consequence. Matching bridesmaids? Only necessary if you like that look! Some brides choose a color and let their bridesmaids choose the dress. Others choose a pattern (see above) and go from there.

The point is that there is more than one way to have a wedding, regardless of what the magazines and wedding planning websites would have you believe. As a bride, you should wear what you love, not what someone else likes best or what some expert tells you is proper. Do we offer recommendations? Of course, and we do it weekly! But we’d much rather know that you’re standing at the altar feeling comfortable and beautiful than be the ones to pick your colors, your bridesmaids’ dresses, and your jewelry.

Because, bride-to-be, that’s your job! If anyone tries to tell you any different, feel free to thank them for their input and then disregard that input entirely.

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