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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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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Choosing the Perfect Bridal Headpiece

Here is the best advice we can offer when it comes to choosing a bridal headpiece or hair accessory!

1. Pick out your wedding gown first
2. Decide on your hairstyle second
3. Choose the headpiece and veil third

bridal tiara usabride crystal wedding accessories

In my career as a bridal style adviser I have actually tore apart a headpiece on the bride’s wedding day and redesigned it because it did not go with the hairstyle she wanted. The best way of course is to have a couple of trial run appointments at the hair salon prior to the big day. This way an exchange can be made for a different style headpiece if that is what is necessary to create the look a bride wants.

Don’t feel pressured into purchasing a bridal headpiece because it “matches your dress”. Instead look for a detail from the gown you would like to enhance and find a headpiece that complements. It may be pearls, a flower detail, or the trim. Or maybe you want a hair accessory that will match the flowers in your bouquet.

bridal comb usabride pearl wedding accessories

Petite? If you are finding that the headpieces seem to big, look at what is offered for first communion headpieces and ask the bridal salon to add a longer veil.

Second marriage? Having a veil is fine if you want one, but you may want to skip the blusher. A beautiful tiara is perfect or ornament your hairstyle. Try a hat, they are coming back!

And here’s a new trend you can be a part of: ornament your hairstyle! There are also many beautiful decorative bridal hair pins, barrettes and bobby pins to add to your hairstyle! Simply attach a comb with netting to cascade down the back of the hairstyle – best part is you can remove it easily at the reception!


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Brides, Look Your Best in Front of the Camera

Some brides-to-be are excited about the prospect of being the center of attention for an entire day – and the primary subject of the photographer’s lens on top of that. But some, especially the shy brides or the brides who never like how they look in pics, can get pretty worried knowing they’ll be photographed hundreds of times in just a few hours. We get that. It can be a little unnerving to have a pro photographer buzzing around. The best wedding photographers are extra good at being unobtrusive… some, not so much.

wedding planning wedding jewelry

But you can up your chances of getting great wedding photos even if you usually can’t stand how you look in pictures. Seriously. Even if you’re kind of nervous in front of the camera. Use these tips, relax, and smile on your big day and we guarantee you’ll look beautiful!

Enhance Your Look:

When it comes to doing your make-up, don’t fall victim to the saying “more is better”. Use the same shades of make-up that you normally wear and don’t make any radical changes to your looks. Remember, you want to enhance your looks with make-up… not cover them up! You’ll look your best when you look like YOU.

Use a Professional:

Consider using a professional make-up artist. They are trained to understand camera lighting and angles, and how to accentuate your BEST features and minimize others. Make sure, though, that the makeup pro you choose understands the look you’re going for.

Do a Test Run:

Do a bridal makeup test run with hair and make-up just the way you are going to wear it on your wedding day. Put on your bridal jewelry set and have someone take several pictures from different angles and with different facial expressions. Then, look at the pictures. Do you like what you see? Too much make-up or not enough? How about the hair style? Too much height or not enough? If something doesn’t look right ­ start again and do another test run until everything looks just right.

It is important to actually TAKE pictures of yourself because it can give you a different perspective rather than just looking in the mirror.

Freshen Up:

Make sure that you bring along a small make-up bag to “Freshen Up” during the day. All you need is some translucent or pressed powder to absorb any shine and some lipstick. If you’re outside taking pictures, bring along some blotting paper which works great to absorb moisture without rubbing off your make-up.

Type of Photos:

When discussing the type of pictures to take with your photographer, keep in mind that full length photographs capture all the beauty and magnificence of the wedding dress, wedding attire and beautiful scenery or backdrops. Close-up or half length (above the waist) photographs better capture facial expressions and reveal more emotions. So, it’s a good idea to get a mix of both types of shots.

Try to Relax:

Particularly if you are taking pictures before the ceremony, remember to relax in front of the camera. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious, this can show in the camera by your facial expression, your posture and smile.

Change it Up:

On your wedding day, you’re going to be in front of the camera and you’re going to be smiling! Take a break every so often and change your expression and move/exercise the muscles around your mouth. If you don’t, your facial expressions in your photographs may look “strained”.

Simple Background:

When taking your wedding portraits, sometimes it’s better to choose a “Simple ” background (with nice, soft lighting) rather than an elaborate one. A “busy looking” backdrop or sometimes a floral garden landscape can take away from the picture and distract from the focal point – which is the bride and groom. The location you select should also have plenty of open shade. Bright sunny areas will cause you and your family to squint!

Candid Photos:

When your photographer is taking candid pictures during the reception, DON’T look at the camera! The beauty of a candid shot is capturing the magic and emotion of a particular moment when people in the photograph are interacting with each other.

Happy posing!


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Don’t Let Facebook Ruin Your Big Day

You’ll never hear us say you’re obligated to invite any one person to your wedding, but it’s just a fact that not being an invitee can hurt certain people’s feelings. Once upon a time, that was less than a big deal. You might hear about it at a few social events or around the office but the wedding you weren’t invited to was not in your face the way it can be today in the age of social media. You log onto Facebook and you’re seeing pics of bridesmaids dresses, pre-wedding parties, and getting a real time play by play of who has RSVP’ed in the positive. It’s enough to give even the hardest-hearted non-invitee a glum moment or two.

facebook wedding

And as I’m sure you know by now, if you hurt people’s feelings you’re gonna have a bad time. So post responsibly! Be a grownup even if you don’t feel like one and consider how your endless wedding posts affect the people around you who won’t be receiving or didn’t receive your gorgeous letterpress invite in the mail.

Here are our tips for keeping social media from souring your big day:

1. Tell your close friends and family they’re invited before you go sharing your wedding deets on Facebook and elsewhere. Ditto for your engagement if that ship hasn’t already sailed. It would be so sad if your favorite aunt assumed she hasn’t been invited because she’s seeing your Pinterest pins feeding into your Facebook feed and you haven’t even called.

2. Once your upcoming nuptials are pretty much common knowledge, don’t overwhelm your friends’ feeds with wedding wedding wedding all things wedding all the time. First off, unless you’re inviting everyone on your friend list you could be inadvertently causing hurt feelings even though you’re just sharing because you’re excited. And second, some people just don’t care that much about centerpiece styles and seasonal flowers.

3.  If you want to use Facebook as your venue for sharing all the details your guests will need, create a group and add all your invitees. They’ll be able to get the skinny on your ceremony and reception plans along with anything else they’ll need to know without bugging the non-invitees. The other benefit is that confirmed guests can talk to each other about travel plans.

4. Don’t complain. So your spouse to be isn’t picking up the slack where wedding planning is concerned? Twitter is not the place to address that. Vent about your wedding woes in public and you’ll earn your bridezilla badge so fast your veil’s gonna fly off. Seriously, people don’t take kindly to first world problems.

5. Finally, remember that your big day is not the most important thing going on in anyone’s life but your own. If you ever find yourself feeling offended because so-and-so didn’t ‘like’ your post or retweet your tweet, breath and back off. That is not a good reason to accuse anyone of not supporting you – most likely, they were just too busy living life to follow along with all your wedding planning revelations.

And that’s as it should be. Balance is the key to using social media in a mannerly way when you’re engaged!


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Choosing Wedding Invitations: Requesting the Honour of Their Presence at Every Price Point

(Ed. note: Today’s post is an excerpt from iDo: Planning Your Wedding with Nothing But Net by Christa Terry. Check it out!)

Once upon a time, wedding invitations included an outer envelope, an inner envelope, a folded invitation card, a response card with its own envelope, a reception card, and a bunch of little squares of tissue paper that kept runny ink from getting all over everything. Really elegant invitations were made of oversized heavy ecru cardstock engraved with richly colored inks. You can still get invites of this sort, but be prepared to pay a premium for them. There is an art to packing a multi-component invitation, and the whole process is thoroughly outlined at Rexcraft.com/Custom/Rexcraft/Rexcraft_Etiquette.cfm. To make a long story short, response cards, RSVP envelopes, and reception cards take up different positions depending on how the invitations itself is folded and where the text appears. The thing is, it’s unlikely that any of your invitees will be particularly familiar with this paper folding etiquette, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

via Woodland Papercuts

The big players in the nuptial paper world are the invitations, which come in hundreds of sizes, shapes, colors, and configurations. That said, be prepared to see the same paper and printing options again and again and again if you’re planning on buying mass-produced invites. An affiliate program launched by Carlson Craft has, to some extent, dominated the online invitation world with their cceasy program. You’re going to see a lot of online invitation shops that look just like the sample site at Free.cceasy.com—the prices appear to be set by Carlson Craft so you’re not going to find a better deal unless you can find a store that isn’t a part of the cceasy program that carries the same merchandise. Good luck with that.

You can stick it to the mainstream by looking at the many, many alternative options out there. The plainest of modern invitations typically consist of one envelope, a single invitation card, a response card with an envelope, and a reception card, but there’s no reason to settle for unadorned vellum. The inner envelopes and tissue squares of yesteryear have been replaced by ornate ribbons and charms, brightly colored wraps, and complicated systems of overlays. The more intricate invitations are usually the most visually interesting, but they can also leave recipients feeling a little confused. If you suspect your loved ones won’t be able to navigate the complex scheme of knots and bows on highly embellished invites, opt for something simpler.

Some invitations will always be more impressive than others. Oslopress.com crafts dramatic invitations made of laser-engraved birch, cherry, oak, maple, and walnut woods. At Bluemagpieinvitations.com, you can order custom designed invites in beautiful fabric enclosures. Would you prefer that each of your invitations be hand painted by an artist? Stop by Momentaldesigns.com to get a feel for the cost of originality. It’s not at all difficult to find invitations in bottles, scrolled invitations, seeded invitations that can be planted, and cards that come wrapped in silk envelopes.

Be aware, however, that impressiveness is almost always pricey.

(Image via Woodland Papercuts, which you should also check out!)


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Your Bridal Style: Dressed Up or Dressed Down?

You’re planning a wedding, focusing on your guests’ experience and creating an event that is a reflection of your and your spouse’s two hearts. It is, we know, a lot of work! There’s so much to think about… the venue, how you want people to remember the day, cake flavors, wedding favors, and more. But maybe you’re forgetting something.

Maybe you’re forgetting your own bridal style.

We’d wager you have a personal style, but maybe you want to rock something a little different on one of the most important days of your life. Could be that in the day to day you’re a dressed down tomboy and you want to glam up – hello CZ wedding jewelry – for your ceremony and reception. How do you want people to see you? Flirty and fun… or sophisticated and elegant? Dressed up or dressed down?

dressed up bridal style

The wonderful thing about planning a wedding is that when it comes to your bridal style, the sky is the limit. Be yourself, or be someone else. Your wedding is the ultimate excuse to play dress up. You can be princess for the day if you really want to – just imagine yourself as royalty! Or not, if you balk at the notion of stepping out of your favorite pair of jeans. Not that we’re suggesting you get married in them (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but we do think it’s fine to consider the real you when you’re envisioning your bridal style. Carefree and comfortable is a wonderful look to pursue.

dressed down bridal style

There are no right or wrong answers. Though do consider where you’ll be spending the bulk of your wedding… indoors or outdoors, in the heat or frosty cold, on grass or parquet floors. This is your time to shine and we recommend creating your own light instead of mimicking someone else’s. Dress up or dress down, it’s all wonderful. Create your own bridal style – one that’s relaxed, happy, confident, and beautiful.


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10 Wedding Hair Dos and Don’ts

In our continuing March series of dos and don’ts for brides-to-be, we naturally had to tackle hair!

While we don’t deal directly in hairstyles, your wedding day do will influence the kind of wedding jewelry and accessories you wear… not to mention your wedding veil, and vice versa. Here are our favorite tips:

  • DO make time for the hair trial. As much as you love your stylist, there’s no way to know whether her vision of the world’s greatest wedding hairstyle will match your own. And if you’re using someone new, you need to know they can do what you want.
  • DON’T assume your regular stylist is the best choice when it comes to your wedding day. Loyalty is important, but this is your wedding we’re talking about!
  • DO bring pictures, which really can speak a thousand words apiece. It’s a lot easier to point at a picture and say “This!” than to explain how big of a bun you want or what loose means to you.
  • DON’T hesitate to explain exactly what you want. Your stylist won’t know that you really hate fussy updos unless you actually tell her. She’s not a mind reader. Speak up!
  • DO bring your wedding headpiece to every meeting you have with your stylist, including your first chat before the hair trial. Seeing your tiara or comb will give her an idea of how to incorporate it into your style.
  • DON’T be afraid to ask for suggestions. Your stylist is a pro and might have some amazing ideas!
  • DO let your stylist show you some alternate styles. You may love long, loose looks, but your dress may be screaming for a half-up/half-down do. Remember, you can always veto styles you don’t like so there’s no reason not to experiment.
  • DON’T assume you’ll remember every style you see at your trial. Taking pictures of all the options will help you make your final decision.
  • DO make sure you’ll have plenty of time with your stylist on your wedding day. How many hairstyles will she be handling? Ask how much time she thinks she’ll need and then pad that, just in case. More time to get ready means less stress for everyone.
  • DON’T forget that button down shirt! Wearing a t-shirt could mean having to cut that t-shirt off to get out of it and into your gown.

P.S. – We are running a sweet promo this month for 20% off all veils, so if you’re going for the traditional bridal look check out our selection!


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2013’s Springtime Brides are Counting Down to the Big Day

Springtime weddings are glory realized. The flowers heralding in a new long stretch of blissfully warm weather. The colors, perfect pastels and so feminine. There’s a ethereal quality in spring itself that’s also found in every aspect of springtime weddings. When a springy wedding invitation comes in the mail in the dark of winter, you’d better believe we’re saving the date!

Right now, this year’s springtime brides are poring over their wedding planning to-do lists to see what’s left. What’s nice is that when you’re this close to a wedding, there’s usually not as much you need to do moment-to-moment because you’ve hopefully got all the big stuff squared away. So let’s check in on our springtime brides and see what they still have to do before walking down the aisle!

Currently: Now is a great time to order wedding jewelry because you’ve presumably chosen a wedding gown and you have a good idea of what your bridal hairstyle will be like. When you’re not doing that, take a minute to find out what the marriage license requirements are in your state. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to choose and order all of your wedding stationery, wedding favors, and other bridal accessories. The wedding cake should also be on your mind right about now, and consider setting aside an hour to review all of your wedding vendor contracts.

Soon: Are you taking engagement portraits? Better get on that! Ditto on newspaper wedding announcements. If you have a hand in planning your rehearsal dinner, now’s the time to start – or just make sure your future MIL has all the deets down pat. Finalize your choice of bridal stylist ASAP or risk missing out on your top choice. And get all of the menswear for the groom’s attendants taken care of. You may also want to mail out your wedding invitations now, especially if some guests will have to make travel arrangements.

And one month before: Schedule your final wedding gown fitting and make sure it’s in your calendar. Speaking of fittings, your bridesmaids should all be scheduling their final fittings, so you might want to remind them. This is the perfect time to grab your marriage license if your state allows you to do so this far ahead. Then you don’t have to think about it again until the big day. Make sure your bridal accessories are all in order and, if you’re traveling, pack them up so they stay safe en route. Finally, start working on an order of events for your ceremony and reception that you can share with your officiant, DJ or emcee, and your venues.

There is also plenty to do the week before and the day before the wedding, but those warrant their own posts. We’ll come back to them in time. Until then, happy planning!


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Thinking Outside the Bridal Box

Planning a wedding shouldn’t be about following a script, though there are certainly plenty of scripts out there to follow. The traditionalist’s script, with pearl wedding jewelry and a sit-down reception banquet in a hall. The quirky script, with flip flops for guests and cake balls instead of something tiered. The destination wedding script, with sand, sand, and more sand. Go off script, and it’s easy to feel like you’re breaking the rules.

Simple things like choosing tarts over cake, or a bridal brooch over a sash, or getting married in your own backyard can stress out brides-to-be who worry that guests will criticize or even refuse to attend.

We’re not suggesting that kind of thing never happens. Some people are just grumpy and always looking for something to criticize. No bride can please everyone – especially not when you’re trying to bring two families with very different ideas and traditions together. And that’s if there aren’t also differences in culture or religion to contend with! Being that such is the case, why even try to please everyone?

If you’re the kind of bride-to-be who wants to think outside the bridal box when planning a wedding, do it. Get crazy. Take your guests camping. Jump in the deck pool in your wedding gown. Serve virgin mudslides instead of champagne. BBQ. Wear a mini dress or your grandmother’s dress or a biniki or a pants suit or jeans. Have your reception at Taco Bell. Make your parrot your flower girl. Whatever.

As for the stress that comes with thinking outside the bridal box, we say “Why worry?” After all, as much as we’re sure you want to please your guests, your wedding is your party. Make it a good one, whatever that means to you!


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