Wedding Planning Advice
The Rehearsal Dinner is a great time to meet everyone, relax and begin your wedding celebration.
The groom’s parents usually host the dinner but this is no longer a strict rule. Sometimes the bride and groom will host the dinner or it can be hosted together by several people.
1. Your rehearsal dinner should have a different style and menu than your wedding. For instance, if your wedding is a formal sit-down dinner, then plan a rehearsal dinner that is more casual. And, if you are serving chicken or beef for the wedding, then try Italian food for the rehearsal dinner.
2. Many brides and grooms are having lots of fun with the rehearsal dinner by incorporating a particular theme such as a Mexican Fiesta, a Western Barbecue, a Hawaiian Luau. Think about a nautical theme and chartering a boat and having a dinner buffet on board! You can plan a clam bake at a restaurant or on a beach. Or, a fun picnic at a park or in your backyard.
3. A formal sit down dinner at a restaurant is always a great option. Some restaurants have private rooms which are great for a larger size party. If you have a private room – ask the restaurant to set up a table of hors d’oeuvres. Plan the first hour of the rehearsal dinner as a cocktail “hour” where your guests can walk around and mingle with each other before dinner.
4. It’s not required that you send out invitations for your rehearsal dinner, but if you have time – it’s a good idea. The invitation will tell people exactly where and when the rehearsal will be held (sometimes it’s not always held at the church or ceremony location) and where and when the dinner will take place. You should include directions to the restaurant if people are unfamiliar with the are If you do send out invitations, they should ALWAYS be less formal than your wedding invitation.
You should invite all those who will take part in the wedding ceremony to the rehearsal dinner. Spouses or dates of all adult attendants should be invited. Parents and grandparents of the bride and groom should be invited.
It is not necessary to invite the musicians or soloist unless they are close friends or family. If you’re having small children in the wedding, the parents of the children should be invited, but many times the children will not attend the dinner in order to get to bed early.
5. You can always invite other family members who are not part of the ceremony and out-of-town guests to join your rehearsal dinner. It’s always nice to have more time to spend with your family and out-of town guests that you may not see very often.
6. You should make sure that everyone is introduced to each other, either through formal introductions (“going around the table”) or informally by “mixing and mingling”.
Here’s a nice idea: Once everyone is seated, the bride or groom introduces everyone and says something personal about each one. Such as:
“Susan Miller, is my maid of honor, we’ve been best friends since first grade and I never would have been able to put together this wedding without all of her help. In fact, she helped me make ALL the favors for the wedding.”
7. A nice gesture is to thank your parents and future parents-in-law and propose a toast at the rehearsal dinner to say “thank you” for all their love, support and help for a wonderful wedding!
8. If you haven’t already — this is the time to give your gifts to the attendants and thank them for being in the wedding.
9. Many rehearsal dinners are showing home movies or video clips of when the bride or groom were very young. Some take baby pictures and enlarge them and display them throughout the rehearsal dinner. These all make for a good “ice breaker” and certainly add a lot of fun to the evening.
10. You could also think about having the Groom’s Cake at the rehearsal dinner. It’s a nice surprise and who can resist a deep, double chocolate fudge cake? Many are getting creative with the groom’s cake and making it in various shapes and styles to match the groom’s personality or a particular interest or hobby.
11. The rehearsal dinner is a good time to go over any last minute details with your family and wedding party – just in case someone doesn’t know where and when they are suppose to meet the next morning.
12.Don’t drink a lot of alcohol at the rehearsal dinner and go home EARLY. You want to make sure you get lots of rest to look your best on your wedding day!
Most of all, relax, enjoy and get to bed early!
Most brides choose their bridal jewelry after picking out and putting a deposit down on a wedding gown, but if you’ve fallen in love with a certain style of necklace, there’s no reason you can’t create your wedding day look around your jewelry. While almost anything goes, there are some bridal necklace basics that every bride-to-be should know:
Neck hugging necklaces are lovely when paired with strapless bodices (and long-necked brides), though don’t discount chokers if your wedding gown ends just below your collarbone. A substantial choker will look smashing sitting just above a boat or jewel neckline. Love it? Try this set!
Simple, minimalist strands worn close to the throat (think y-drop or princess style necklaces) complement bateau and scoop necklines beautifully. Thin necklaces are a practical choice for brides who don’t want their jewelry to outshine their wedding dresses and/or want to wear their bridal necklace again. Looking for subtle choices? Try this set.
Necklaces can be heaped one upon the other or made to look that way, but almost all layered looks will pair best with simple, unadorned, low necklines. Layers of thicker necklaces can lessen the jarring impact of a plain strapless neckline, while thinner layers can add softness to a square neckline. Love it? Layer this, this, and this!
Necklaces with enough length to hang loose on both sides of the bride are best worn with wedding gowns that plunge in the back as well as the front… so the necklace itself can take center stage. This look is even more dramatic when the necklace is augmented with a jeweled brooch.
Personally, I opted for a loose but rather thick one-strand choker paired with an off-the-shoulder neckline. Now I’d love to know what you chose to wear or are planning to wear around your neck on your wedding day.
How many times has the average wedding planner heard brides-to-be say things like “I’d do X if it weren’t for Y.” Usually, the X is something like “wear a wedding dress that shows off my killer tattoos” or “serve a gluten-free vegan reception dinner” or “hire a bouncy castle for my adults-only wedding.” The Y is often “my family,” though it is occasionally “society’s expectations” or “tradition”.
Every bride-to-be and groom-to-be… okay, almost every bride and groom… pays tribute to the conventions laid out by culture and religion and familial wedding traditions, even if they don’t realize it. Social expectations are like advertising — we’re exposed to them our entire lives, in the conversations we hear and the media we see and the stories we’re told. Unless someone lives the extremely examined life, it can be difficult to know where societal conventions end and where one’s own wants begin.
There are two ways to get around this. The first is to ask yourself why you want what you want. Here’s the disclaimer: there’s nothing wrong with wanting the big white princess dress for your wedding ceremony any more than there’s anything wrong with wanting to wear a neon green sailor suit. But whether you want to wear the gown or the suit, consider your motivations. Maybe you’re leaning toward the gown because you’ve been told your whole life that brides wear wedding gowns. Maybe you’re leaning toward the suit because you want to prove to everyone how really anti-establishment you are. White dresses or sailor suits might turn out to be your thing or you may discover that your true tastes lie somewhere in between. Lime green wedding gown, anyone?
The second way to get around the influence of convention is to seriously consider the random ideas that pop into your head when planning your wedding. Let’s say your brain says “How about a groom’s ‘cake’ made of your fiancé’s favorite candy bars!” Before you write that idea off as silly, consider whether it might be a fun addition to your dessert bar. Maybe your brain says something like “I want to do the hokey-pokey as my first dance!” Think about it — do you really? If you do, stop worrying that your wedding guests will think it’s weird. First dances can be pretty boring, honestly, and I’d love it if the bride and groom started shaking it all about on the dance floor.
We’ve seen a Halo-themed wedding, an all-black pagan wedding, and musical underwear for brides-to-be shipped all the way from Syria. There have been sushi wedding cakes and cheese wedding cakes (not cheesecake). There are blue-haired brides, seriously tattooed brides, and brides on bikes (motor and otherwise). All brides and grooms face at least some opposition to their choices, whether in the form of outright disapproval or headshakes from well-meaning relatives thinking “But she’s so pretty, if only she would…”
But if she (i.e., the bride-to-be) is so pretty anyway, she’s still going to be pretty whether she decides to drive a tractor to the ceremony or dye her hair to match her shockingly pink bridesmaids’ dresses. Keep that in mind if you’re planning your wedding and you’ve found yourself thinking “I’d do X if it weren’t for Y.” Heck, keep it in mind for the rest of your life! Sometimes doing X just isn’t feasible, but sometimes the only thing keeping you from doing X is that pesky Y.
Want to keep more YOU in YOUR wedding? Remember that when it comes to choosing a wedding dress or ceremony accessories or vows or reception venue or transportation or most of the other stuff associated with weddings, it’s more often than not perfectly reasonable to say “I respect your opinion Y, but I’m still going to X.”
For many years, cakes have ruled wedding receptions. One of the first questions people ask about weddings is what the cake either looked or tasted like.
Over the course of the past few years, though, the cake has started losing its place at the party. Oh, it’s not like wedding cakes are going away anytime soon. I expect them to continue to be the most popular dessert at weddings for a very long time to come. It’s just that now more people are more open to variations on the theme.
One popular variation that’s sprung up is the wedding dessert bar. With this option, the couple may or may not have a traditional wedding cake, but they will offer multiple options in sweet ways to end a meal.
I have to say this is one of my favorite trends in weddings today. As much as I love cake, the fact is they are often extremely expensive or else not terribly inspired. Sometimes, they are both. And while you can make each tier a different flavor, that means most of us are talking about two to three flavors. It’s helpful, but then you get a large crowd of people with dozens of different food issues and preferences. Someone is going to go home disappointed. The dessert bar is a great opportunity to offer more options so as to satisfy more guests.
It’s also a great way to save a little cash, because this is a great DIY project. Break out your best recipes, ask friends and family for their help, fill in blanks with commercially made sweets, and either use coordinated serving pieces or a cheerful cacophony of china you, your friends, and your family can provide.
What should be included? Anything you like that will hold up sitting unattended on a table for a while. Cupcakes, cookies, tarts, pies, sweet muffins, chocolates, fudge, Rice Crispies treats, Peeps, canolli, dried fruit, nuts, petit fours…really, almost anything you like.
Vary the height a bit, add a little floral or some pretty linens, and away you go!
So if you’re looking for a little more than wedding cake, consider the dessert bar. It’s fun, it’s practical, and it’s oh so chic!
I read something recently that said that anything – and I mean anything – can be an upscale-looking wedding decoration when used in quantity. In fact, quantity was the key. DIY mason jar bouquets, rounds freshly cut from trees, simple paper confetti… doesn’t matter. It’s not about the what, it’s about the how much. That’s definitely true when you’re using balloons to decorate at a wedding because used just here and there, balloons look cheesy. Obviously. The theme of your wedding reception decor should not be ‘kids party’.
The easiest way to avoid that look is buy using LOTS of balloons, oversize balloons, or – even better – both in your reception decor. Here are some examples of how you can decorate with balloons at your wedding without sacrificing sophistication:
There are lots of great ways to use balloons in your wedding decor, from centerpieces that include balloons to a sparkling ‘sky’ of balloons over the dance floor to a balloon backdrop for a photo booth or the sweetheart table. Just stay away from the now dated balloon arch and balloon pillars – two ideas guaranteed to make your reception look more like junior prom. On trend right now are giant perfectly round balloons and giant gold and silver letter balloons (both shown above).
In quantity and at scale, balloons are a whimsical addition to almost any reception, from formal to casual! xoxo
When it comes to weddings, something will always go wrong. And I mean always. You can prepare for every possible contingency but there will be some detail, hopefully a tiny one, that doesn’t unfold as planned. We’re quick to call a lot of things wedding disasters that are more like inconveniences. Rain on your wedding day. Ungracious guests. Catering mix ups. Or as in the case of the wedding that went viral a while back, an entire wedding party falling into a lake.
The biggest wedding disaster of all is the one that prevents you and your intended from saying “I do,” but that doesn’t mean that smaller issues can’t feel like the end of the world. One bride I know had so many things go wrong that I was shocked she didn’t go crazy. The jeweler lost her custom wedding rings a month before the wedding. Her bridal veil never showed. The caterer cancelled. The area’s one nice hotel was overbooked that weekend. The original reception venue closed without warning and she had to fight to her her deposit back. Her MIL-to-be refused to come. And the best man lost all of his luggage, including his tux.
The whole wedding planning process was, in short, a disaster. And yet this friend of mine somehow managed to smile through it all because she knew that none of it would mean that her and her husband-to-be would be any less married. Her family and friends help her put together an outdoor reception at a local part that was nothing short of amazing. Relatives cooked up a massive spread – for free. She looked as beautiful without her veil as she would have looked with one and the local tux rental place managed to hook up the best man on very short notice. In the end, everything worked out for the better if not the best.
It was, as she puts it, the most wonderful day of her life even though the weeks and months leading up to it were disastrous. Maybe it’s because she kept her eyes on what was really important: their families were there, their closest friends and family were standing by our sides as they made their sacred vows together, and everyone was happy. She told me later that hardly anyone realized that things had gone wrong – everything seemed perfect just the way it was.
And that’s something else to remember… sometimes wedding disasters make for funny stories and amazing photo opps. Look for the beauty and you will probably find it!
Getting to “I do” can be a pretty big pain, and getting to the end of your wedding planning checklist is no guarantee that you’re in the clear. After you’ve checked nearly everything off your list and finally feel free to relax there may still be a whole bunch of last-minute details to tackle. If you’re lucky, your spouse-to-be is splitting the list with you or you have some seriously engaged bridesmaids who have your back so you can relax a little bit before the big day. But if you’re like a lot of brides, last-minute wedding planning to-dos like these will fall on your plate:
- Put everything you need for the ceremony and reception in one place, and designating someone to take them to your venue and set them up. A few days before, get all your decorations and reception accessories to that person.
- Figure out who is doing what – have you decided who will be in charge of the programs? Who is helping seat guests? Who will hand out the tip envelopes at the end of the reception?
- Give a final head count to whichever wedding vendors need a head count. Don’t forget to include meals for your other vendors.
- Create or buy a wedding day emergency kit. You never know what you and your bridesmaids might need on the big day, from mints to clear nail polish to band-aids.
- Pick up your wedding dress and remind the groom to have his side pick up their wedding day apparel. Put your wedding day undies and your bridal jewelry with your gown so everything you need is in one place.
- Take a walk in your wedding shoes to break them in. Pro tip: Put a pair of men’s socks over them after putting them on your feet and wear your bridal shoes around the house for a few days. They stay clean but get more comfortable.
- Pick up your wedding rings (and your engagement ring if you had it cleaned).
- Finalize the seating chart and put your seating place cards in alphabetical order in an envelope so they’re ready to go.
- Review the guest list with your fiance. This helps big time when you’re in the receiving line!
- Pick up your marriage license. Confirm the details of the rehearsal (and the rehearsal dinner if your future MIL hasn’t already done so). Create a loose wedding day itinerary and go over it with your wedding day VIPs. Make sure everyone knows where to be and what to do.
- Confirm EVERY detail with EVERY vendor. Confirm your order, the drop off time and place, and any special details.
- Pack for the honeymoon – if you’re leaving ASAP after the wedding – and confirm your travel reservations.
NOW you can relax. If you can relax, that is. I know from experience that it’s really hard to just kick back when your wedding day is a week away but it’s definitely worth a shot. You’ll feel happier on the big day if you are well-rested and not super stressed out!
Let’s talk truthy about bridesmaid dresses. They’ve come a long way from bright pink and blue taffeta (complete with dyed shoes to match)! But even so, let’s be honest. Has anyone ever worn their bridesmaid dress again? I have – when the bride was sweet enough to let all her ‘maids choose their own frocks in a specific color. When that happens it’s easy to find a bridesmaids dress you can wear again because the dress you pick is just your style.
But should it happen that you are a bride who isn’t a fan of the idea of letting bridesmaids choose their own dresses, there are still things you can do when choosing bridesmaids dresses to increase the odds your girls will wear their frocks more than just the once.
Image: We Heart Photography
First of all, the styles of bridesmaid dresses have improved dramatically over the past few years. Today, we’re seeing a lot of A-line dresses which look great on all different body shapes and sizes.
Image: Andrew Mark Photography
The hottest styles right now are still mostly sleeveless. Also very popular are column style dresses, floor length, halter top or straps criss-crossing over the back and asymmetrical. But keep in mind that anything floor length or overtly formal will be harder to re-wear than cocktail length bridesmaids dresses. That said, there are always exceptions!
Image: Erich McVey Photography
These days, designers are getting very creative when it comes to color and fabric. It’s not just pale pinks and blues anymore. Platinum is very in at the moment, as well as very vibrant colors that would be at home on stylish peacocks. And yet earth tones and natural colors never go out of style and are especially versatile when it comes to everyday wear.
Accessories can really enhance the look of bridesmaid dresses – adding to the formality or funkiness. Statement necklaces add a bolder touch to relatively simlpe bridesmaid attire and look really stunning with all the sleeveless styles.
Floral looks and patterned bridesmaids dresses are appearing at growing numbers of weddings. Maybe because they can be worn again or maybe because we’re all finally over plain Jane matching styles. But if you love matching bridesmaids dresses – and that’s okay – think about having your ‘maids wear striking shoes in different colors and styles.
The vintage aesthetic is also still trendy, especially with the more “retro” style dresses. Rhinestone barrettes and combs are lending a stylish touch to bridal parties wearing vintage styles. What makes these dresses so re-wearable is that their silhouette is more fun and less formal.
Image: Briana Purser Photography
Happy shopping, ladies!
Maybe you never wear headbands and a daytime tiara is out of the question, but chances are you’ll be wearing a bridal headpiece (brooch, band, or crown) on your big day. That’s because bridal headpieces and veils complement your dress and add another dimension of style to your wedding day.
You just feel different with something sparkly topping off your look – and why shouldn’t you? It’s a special day, so wear something special! Like…
*A barrette, brooch, or comb. This is typically secured into the back of an up-do. The Angela is one of my faves.
*A bridal wreath. Typically a ring of flowers or beading, it encircles the head without necessarily being pinned into your hair.
*A bridal tiara. Think “princess”! And regal. And feminine. If you love playing dress up but want a subtle effect, try something like the Petite Pearl.
*Hair pins. For just a touch of sparkle in your bridal updo, I love our Fresh Water hairpins.
*A hat. Definitely different, but decorated elegantly, it can be in any number of shapes and sizes. Perfect for the modern bride.
* A bridal headband. Secured behind your ears and resting at the top of your head, it’s a lot of elegance in a lightweight package. Asymmetrical styles are my fave.
*The classic wedding veil. From Flyaway to fingertip to sweep veils and beyond, nothing says bride quite like a gorgeous veil.
Which isn’t to say that among all this loveliness, a bride-to-be can’t choose to go bareheaded. I actually did it myself, after buying more than a few tiaras and combs. Going without felt natural for me. But if you’re like most brides you can’t wait to don a bridal veil or your tiara or a headband dripping with pearls.
Married in white doesn’t necessarily mean demure, as the millions of brides donning sultry backless wedding dresses have proved. The trend can translate into anything from a hint of skin to a dip that encroaches upon derriere territory. As for me, I can’t get enough. Maybe it’s that between the wedding ceremony and the first dance, you see so much of the bride’s back. Maybe it’s the dichotomy between the sexy silhouette of backless and the traditional purity of the wedding gown. Party in the back, business in the front? Here’s a whole lot of party in the back to inspire you as you shop for wedding dresses – some made to highlight your bridal jewelry and others made to make every inch of skin stand out. Bare a little or bare a lot, these dresses prove backless is here to stay!
How bare do you dare to go?