Coordinating Colors

For those of us who haven’t graduated from design school, the task of getting everything coordinated can seem a bit daunting. What colors should be chosen? How can these colors be used for the best effect? For reference purposes, a simple color wheel goes from yellow to orange to red to violet to blue to green to yellow, with other hues in between. Below is a quick list of color schemes used by designers that will help you achieve visual balance in your decorations.


One base color is used throughout, but there are several different hues and tones present. For instance, you may choose blue as your color. The bridesmaid’s dresses can vary in color from navy to periwinkle to powder blue and have a stunning visual effect through this color scheme.


Two or three colors are chosen that are adjacent to the color wheel. An example of this is to have yellow, yellow-green and green tones throughout the wedding.


Three colors are used, that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel. For instance, a bride may choose yellow, blue and red for her colors.


This scheme is very popular for weddings. Two colors are chosen that are opposite on the color wheel. Two examples are using red and green or using violet and yellow.

You’ll want to choose a dominant color for your wedding that is present in most of the decorations. The other colors you choose should be accents.

By Leah Steenstra

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Choosing The Right Tux to Fit Your Body Type

Brides aren’t the only ones who need to worry about figure flaws. Grooms can look fabulous too, by choosing the right formal wear that enhances their body types.

Short, Slender Grooms:

* Grooms should look for single-breasted jackets with long lines, a low button stance (it elongates the body), and wide peak lapels.
* Other stylish options include wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket or subtly patterned vest and tie.
* Selecting the right pant style is key, too. Reverse double-pleated pant leg should always break slightly on top of the shoe and angle a bit downward in the back.

Short, Stocky Grooms:

* Grooms with athletic or muscular body types look best in tuxedo jackets with slim shawl collars.
* The top button should fall at the small of the waist to give the torso a leaner look.
* Also, choose jackets with a natural shoulder line and avoid the more broad European styles.
* When it comes to pants, reverse double-pleated trousers with pleats extending toward the pockets tend to offer the best comfort and style. Pants should extend as low as possible on the foot, angled slightly in the back to elongate the leg. Be sure to avoid too much of a break on the foot, otherwise the pant leg will look sloppy.

Tall, Husky Grooms:

* Grooms with broad shoulders and muscular frames look best in shawl collar tuxedos.
* Jacket length is especially important. To determine a good fit, groom should place his arms at his sides and relax hands and fingers. His fingertips should touch the bottom of the jacket and his shirt cuffs should extend at least half an inch beyond the jacket sleeve.
* The construction of the jacket may need to be a bit loose to provide ease of movement.
* Also, grooms with thick necks and wide faces should avoid ties that are too narrow and wing tip collars that look constrictive. Instead, opt for lay-down collars and fuller bow ties.
* And the pant leg should have a slightly wider silhouette to accommodate muscular thighs.

Tall, Slim Grooms:

* Grooms look well in just about every tuxedo style. An especially good choice is a double-breasted tuxedo with slightly broad shoulders and a suppressed waist.
* Jacket buttons closed up high on the waistline look especially good, and a high shoulder line is better than a natural one.
* Garments should be full, while still following the lines of the body, and trousers should also have a higher-rise with more of a break in the pant.
* This figure type can easily wear vests and ties in colors and patterns.

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Selecting Your Wedding Shoes

Little girls are always imagining their wedding day. They fantasize about their future groom, that ever perfect dress and the sparkling diamond tiara. They picture the perfect hair with the perfect veil. They dream of everything. Everything that is, except the shoes.

It is a rare bride who thinks about her wedding shoes before she actually becomes engaged. But once you start assembling that perfect dress and veil ensemble, a bride can become panic stricken in finding the perfect shoe. They must be beautiful and they must be comfortable. These are the shoes you will walk in from single-hood into wedded bliss. And these are the shoes no one will even see, except for a very few. But still they must be perfect!

* Some brides feel the shoes are the least important of the wedding day attire, and they choose to wear decorated tennis shoes.
* Some hardly think of the shoes at all except as something to cover their tired feet and so they choose ballet slippers.
* While others want the most ornate shoe with the highest heel ever making them feel more regal and more elegant.

One of the most important things a bride-to-be must realize, is that the height of the shoe must come first and that the shoes are important to the altering of the dress. Once you’ve established the height of the heel, you must have the shoes in order to have your wedding gown fitted properly. Changing the height will change the hem of the dress.

I recommend that once you’ve found your dress, you start looking for the perfect shoes immediately for your wedding. You should have your shoes by the time your gown is delivered and ready to be altered. You will need to bring your shoes to every fitting so that the hemline remains the same.

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Choosing The Right Tux For the Occasion

Here are the most popular types of tuxedos:

* Full Dress Tailcoat is also referred to as White Tie. Perfect for an ultra-formal evening wedding.
* The stroller is often worn by attendants, while the groom wears a Cutaway. These are good for an ultra-formal morning wedding.
* The Notch Lapel Tuxedo is a contemporary option appropriate for a formal wedding.
* The Peak Lapel Tuxedo is a more traditional choice than the Notch-lapel, appropriate at any time of the day or evening.

Guideline for an
Formal Daytime Wedding: Guideline for an
Ultra-Formal Daytime Wedding:
The Coat:
Classic = Stroller
Contemporary = Tuxedo or Tailcoat black, gray or sliver year round. White or ivory, weather permitting. The Coat:
Classic = Grey Cutaway
Contemporary = Black Tuxedo or Tailcoat
Classic = Grey striped
Contemporary = to match coat.
Classic = Grey striped
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White spread collar
Contemporary = White wing or spread collar
Classic = White Wing Collar
Contemporary = White Wing Collar
Classic = Ascot or Four-in-hand
Contemporary = Bow tie to match coat or colored to match cummerbund
Classic = Ascot
Contemporary = Black Bow Tie
Cummerbund/Vest: Classic = Grey Vest only
Contemporary = Vest to match coat or colored cummerbund and bow tie to match.
Classic = Grey Vest Only
Contemporary = Black Cummerbund or vest
Pocket square (The tiny bit of handkerchief that stays in the pocket):
Classic = None
Contemporary = match accessories.
Classic = none
Contemporary = Optional.
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black,
Contemporary = Black
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White
Contemporary = White
Classic = White
Contemporary = White

The Formal Evening Wedding: Ultra Formal Evening Wedding:
The Coat:
Classic = Black Classic Tuxedo
Contemporary = Tuxedo or Tailcoat black, grey or silver, year round; White or ivory, weather permitting. The coat:
Classic = Black full dress tails
Contemporary = Black tuxedo or tailcoat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White wing or spread collar
Contemporary = White wing or spread collar
Classic = White pique wing collar
Contemporary = White wing collar
Classic = Black bow tie
Contemporary = Bow tie to match coat or colored to match cummerbund
Classic = White pique bow tie
Contemporary = Black bow tie
Classic = Black vest or cummerbund
Contemporary = Vest to match coat or colored cummerbund and bow tie to match
Classic = White pique vest only
Contemporary = Black Cummerbund or vest
Pocket square:
Classic = Optional
Contemporary = To match accessories
Classic = None
Contemporary = Optional
Classic = Black
Contemporary = to match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = Black
Contemporary = To match coat
Classic = Black
Contemporary = Black
Classic = White
Contemporary = White
Classic = White
Contemporary = White

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How to Choose a Drycleaner (to Preserve Your Gown)

*Ask friends about dry-cleaning firms whom they trust. Try to find someone who routinely cares for wedding dresses and eveningwear.
*Check with the Better Business Bureau for specific cleaners you are considering.
*Find out whether the cleaner is a member of the International Fabricare Institute. This nonprofit trade association keeps its members up-to-date on the latest information about cleaning techniques.
*Ask your dry cleaner how often they change the solvents. This should be done at least once a month. Specify that the solvent used must be clean. Dirty solvents can discolor your wedding gown.
*Don’t necessarily look for the lowest price. Keeping your gown beautiful is worth the price of a cleaning.
*Take note of the appearance of the shop. Is it clean and well organized? Does it look like a place that will do a good job?

When purchasing your gown, find out as much information as possible from the retailer about how to clean and care for it.

If you have specific questions about cleaning and preserving your gown, you can contact the International Fabricare Institute. Email them at, or write to the International Fabricare Institute, 12251 Tech Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904 or call them at 301-622-1900.

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Tips on Preserving Your Wedding Gown

Every bride should protect her investment by having her wedding gown professionally cleaned and stored. An expert dry cleaner or gown preservationist can make certain that your heirloom dress is protected from soil and age so it looks as new in 20 years as it did the day you wore it.

It’s all too common to find, years later, that your wedding gown wasn’t properly cleaned. Spills are lethal to a dress. Body oils turn the fabric yellow. If a dress isn’t cleaned properly, stains appear and are sometimes difficult to remove. And if the dress is poorly made, it may fall apart when it’s dry-cleaned.

Not every bride chooses to pack her wedding gown away in a box. It is perfectly acceptable to have your gown altered for use as a dress for special occasions. You should have your dress properly cleaned within 1 – 6 months after the wedding to preserve its beauty. You may not see them, but white wine and champagne stains will turn the fabric in a few months.

Here are more tips:

*Find a dry cleaner that advertises expert cleaning of wedding gowns. Ask the cleaner if he/she uses different solvents on gowns than on regular clothing. Standard solvents are too harsh for wedding gowns. These gowns must be cleaned with the gentlest cleaners in an acid-free environment.

*Ask if you can see the dress before it is packed. That way, you can see for yourself if all visible stains have been removed prior to storage.

*Wedding gowns should be stuffed with clean, acid free tissue. Acid-free tissue placed between the folds of the dress and stuffed in the bodice will prevent permanent wrinkles and folds as well as help stabilize the environment of the box.

*All shoulder pads, perspiration shields, and anything else made of foam should be removed from the gown. These materials don’t have a good shelf life, and when they deteriorate, they can ruin the material next to them.

*Also, avoid packing your gown with plastic or metal buttons, pins or buckles. You should NEVER keep mothballs or crystals near your gown, since the chemicals in these products can ruin the fabric over time. The gown may be wrapped in muslin and folded neatly into a cardboard box.

*Never hang your wedding gown for long-term storage and never seal the box completely. The gown will need proper air circulation. Once your gown is cleaned and boxed, store it in a closet or under a bed.

*Don’t put the gown in a hot attic or a cold basement. Extreme temperature changes can also damage your gown.

*Don’t be afraid to take your gown out of the box and look at it from time to time. That way, you’ll be sure the most important dress of your life is successfully standing the test of time. The gown should be refolded to prevent permanent creases and white cotton gloves should be worn while handling the gown to prevent oily fingers from making contact with the fabric.

*The cost of professionally cleaning and storing your dress can range from $75 – $600, depending on its size, fabric and detailing.

*To cut down on cost, you can pack away your gown yourself, but only after it has been professionally dry-cleaned. To do this, you will need a large box, tissue paper, and a cotton liner. Cedar chests can also be used instead of a box. Carefully arrange the bodice and skirt to avoid wrinkling, and crumple tissue paper in major folds to prevent hard creasing. Never use plastic or brown boxes. They contain materials that are harmful to the fabric.

No other garment will ever mean more to you than your wedding gown. Whether you choose to pass it on to your daughter or simply keep it as a permanent record of your wedding day, your gown deserves special attention. By cleaning and storing it properly, you will have a lasting and well-preserved memento that you can treasure forever.

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The Total Bridal Look

Let’s look at the “Art” of the wedding. Buy that I mean all of the visual aspects that make up your wedding style. Your gown, flowers, reception location, style of photography, your shoes, hair and make-up as well as the bridesmaids dresses and the presentation of the food are all elements that make up the “Art” of your wedding.

These visual elements when put together become the total look; they elicit a certain mood and help define the image you and your fiancé would like to share with your guests. Let me address specifically your beauty needs and the elements involved in pulling together your personal style. All the elements of your dress, hair, make-up, nails, and headpiece need to work together to become the “art” of your “Total Bridal Look.”


Let’s look at a few important elements of design that are relative to style. Understanding each of these elements will make it easier for you to use them when creating your “total bridal look.” Whether you are working with your florist, caterer, or consultant you need to be able to translate your wishes to them that will pull together a great “stylish” wedding experience.

Line Size Shape Position Density Texture

Line: The line of a hairstyle, floral centerpiece, or the composition within a photograph has a direction either horizontally or vertically. Horizontal lines broaden and shorten with the eye following the width. Vertical lines slim and elongate. The line can be dramatic and sophisticated or soft and romantic.

*I remember a very slender and petite bride who was wearing a slim fitted narrow gown. Perfect for her because it made her look taller. But the gown shop suggested a wreath of flowers. Just as the eye was drawn up, the wreath cut off the illusion of height. The horizontal line of the wreath cancelled out any help the vertical gown accomplished in making her seem taller. It took some convincing and a visual demonstration but I got her to change her headpiece.

The line of the dress should match the hair. A long slim fitted wedding gown is complemented with a narrow bob tucked behind the ears or a bunch of curls piled high on the head. The line of a traditional full-skirt wedding gown is horizontal. This style is complemented by a softer romantic and wider hairstyle, perfect with a wreath headpiece.

Staying within these design parameters is a general guideline for most brides. However, a bride with flair for the dramatic and a strong personality can certainly carry off a total look that does not “match”. A slim fitted gown with sexy wild hair may be your flavor.

Size: The finished size of a hairstyle and veil depends on a few factors: How much hair you have, how tall, petite or full figured you are plus the overall line, size, detail, and fullness/length of dress. As an example, apply this size “element” to the flowers. The size and volume of a bouquet should not overpower a petite bride or table setting.

If you choose to wear a slim suit for a daytime wedding it would be important to keep your hairstyle compact and simple. If a full skirt or bustled wedding gown is your style, then go for a larger headpiece and hairstyle. Again, try to match the overall size of dress to you, and size and line of hairstyle to balance.

*I had a bride who was petite but wore a traditional full gown with a chapel length veil. (I lot of dress for a little woman) She also requested that her veil trail longer than the gown! I created a smaller Updo and made her a smaller headpiece to be worn toward the back of the head. I gave her the length she wanted for the veil but it was not gathered too full. It allowed the horizontal line to flow but worked with her proportions. Sometimes too much veiling on top of a petite bride can make her look top heavy.

Shape: The shape of the finished Updo or hairstyle needs to complement the shape of your face as well as the proportions of you in your dress. The shape is the outer line a hairstyle makes. Visualize a wide bob haircut making the outer shape of a triangle. A shag or layered cut has the outer shape of a rectangle. A wedge hairstyle has the shape of a diamond.

Some shapes are reminiscent of periods like the teased crown and flip of the sixties. The feathered back hair of the seventies complemented bell-bottom pants. The narrow shape and closeness to the head of the roaring twenties hair was a visual match to the bound breasts and slim body hugging clothes worn at that time. The next time you see a picture of a Victorian lady in her bustled gown notice that her hair is bustled up in the back as well.

*I had a bride request an Audrey Heparin “look” to her Updo, complete with the chic little bangs. I incorporated her mother’s headpiece from the early sixties into the style and she wore a slim sheath. This created the very slim, vertical “retro” look she wanted.

Position: A hairstyle may be positioned at the top of the head, the middle or at the nape of the neck. A small wedding hat, a comb of flowers, or a headpiece can be used to balance your hairstyle’s position.

*I had an older bride who wanted a fun sexy look for her second wedding. She had a profile style headpiece which is the kind that sits along the side of the face. I had to make sure the hairstyle balanced the position of her veil.

If you choose to wear a traditional one-piece veil make sure you tell the stylist if you’re going to remove it after the ceremony. Ask the stylist to stick some wedding hair jewelry or flowers in your hairstyle so when the veil comes off your hairdo is not bare!
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Making Your Veil

The Bad News:
As with many items related exclusively to weddings, store-bought veils can be extremely costly.

The Good News:
No matter what your skill level, you can easily save money by making your own.

Here’s how:

*Two left hands.

Your idea of drawing a person is a round circle with five strategically placed lines. Not a problem. Many craft stores sell ready-made headpieces and veils. If you can sew, hot glue or Velcro the two items together, you’ll save yourself a nice chunk of change, as compared to its store-bought twin.

*Creative, but not Van Gogh.

Try buying the veil ready-made, but make your own headpiece. For your base, use a headband or thick wire shaped in a circle. First, wrap your base completely with ribbon and hot glue each end of the ribbon to secure it in place. To decorate, hot glue silk flowers, pearls, lace or glittery shells onto the ribbon. Attach a comb so it stays on your head, and don’t forget to add the veil!

*The next Martha Stewart.

Find patterns for veils at the local craft store and purchase tulle by the yard. To add that special touch to your finished veil, consider purchasing appliqués and placing several of them on the edges of your veil. You could also stitch a string of pearls to the edge of your veil. For your headband, follow the directions above.

*Before making your own, it is important to try on veils at a bridal salon to get a feel for what styles you like and what looks good on you. Once you have a plan, go for it! This is an easy and fun way to add personality and subtract expense at the same time.

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Selecting a Coordinator For a Destination Wedding

Once you have decided on a destination wedding, you might want to consider a wedding coordinator, who knows the all the ins and outs of the romantic location you have selected. I think of the coordinator as the switchboard to the community in which you are getting married.

Check List to Determine If You Can Work Together:

1.You should feel comfortable with the coordinator. She should ask for your input and not impose her preferences on you.

2.The coordinator should have an upbeat, flexible, CAN DO attitude.

3.The coordinator should be familiar with the community and have a diversified selection of people and locations for you to consider.

4. Ask for references of other couples to contact.

5.Be clear with what you what, don’t assume they can read your mind.

6.They should ask you lots of detailed questions and be willing to take time with you.

7.You should be provided with a detailed budget of the estimated costs ahead of time.

8. Ask about the payment arrangements.

Remember this is your wedding. The feeling with the coordinator should be that you are a team. If the coordinator does her job, then you can show up, be relaxed, look beautiful and have a wonderful day.

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Keeping Kids Happy at the Reception

Most likely, you’ll have kids attending the reception. With a few special touches, you could make them the happiest age group around. Below are a few ideas to cater to the younger crowd.

Hopefully, most children in this age group will be home with a babysitter. However, if you suspect they’ll be there, here are a few things to consider:

* Check if your reception hall has booster seats, high chairs and diaper-changing stations. If they don’t, contact the parents to make sure they bring all necessary supplies.
* Seat the family with other families who are also bringing young children. If the little tyke starts crying, they tend to be more understanding then say, a group of single 20-somethings. No other young kids? Seat them with the most patient people you know.

Ages 5 – 10
If you have enough kids in this age group to fill a table, consider seating them together. Be sure to hire a babysitter for the table to ensure they don’t join you during the father/daughter dance or throw spaghetti at Aunt Metilda.

Below are a few more ideas for this age group:

* If you choose to have a kid’s table, cover it with a paper tablecloth so they can draw on it. For a centerpiece, provide a bucket of crayons, several cartons of play-dough or travel games.
* Check to see if your reception or catering company offers kid’s meals at a reduced cost.
* Before the traditional bouquet toss and garter throw for adults, have a candy toss for kids. This way, the kid’s can participate but you won’t be caught in the awkward situation of having a garter-toting, 6-year-old boy traveling up the leg of a 30-year-old.
* Maybe the chicken dance makes you cringe, but kids love it!
* For favors, send them home with candy or a small toy. Just make sure it isn’t anything they’ll choke on.

Ages 11-16
Adolescents. This is the age where a kid will walk 15 feet behind their parents for fear of being associated with the “most embarrassing human beings alive.” Do them a favor and seat this age group together. While you probably don’t need an adult at their table, place them at a table next to adults who won’t let them misbehave. Besides this word of warning, treat this group as you would any adult (minus the alcohol, of course).

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