The Champagne Reception

Saving money is on many a bride’s mind in these times of job insecurity and recession mania. Budget weddings are a huge trending topic, seemingly year after year. But cutting corners… DIY weddings… prioritizing. It can all sound a bit like deprivation. We think it doesn’t have to be quite that depressing, though.

So what if you don’t have a Hiltonesque bundle of cash to spend on your gown and bridal jewelry and especially the reception, which is usually the biggest wedding expense? With all things vintage still being on trend, we have a suggestion for all those brides-to-be who feel a little put out that a mega-bash is not in the cards. Namely, the champagne reception.

bridal jewelry

Once upon a time, the champagne reception was de riguer among the stylish, who frowned upon the sort of nuptial excesses we’re all subject to today because we can’t peel our eyes away from those godawful wedding-themed reality shows.

It was a simple and elegant mid- or late-afternoon affair featuring champagne, cocktails, and lovely non-alcoholic drinks; light hors d’oeuvres and nibbles; and of course, wedding cake. There was music and mingling, but likely no dancing because the kind of venues one chooses for hosting a champagne reception are meant to inspire conversation rather than carousing.

The champagne reception is a real money saver because no sit-down meal is served, the music should be ambient not in-your-face, and the event itself will often be shorter in duration than what is today a more traditional wedding reception. And yet no one need know that you’ve chosen a champagne reception so as to be able to spend your bridal budget elsewhere – hello, bridal jewelry and bubbly upgrade! -because it’s such an elegant choice. More elegant, in some ways, than a reception that includes neon glow sticks on the dance floor and meatballs on toothpicks.

We love this old fashioned wedding reception option for brides and grooms who want a classier affair. Possibly also a more intimate one. Feelings of deprivation? You won’t find them here!

 


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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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Four Wedding Jewelry Trends for Summer 2013

We seriously can’t believe that we’re already halfway into the first month of 2013! But we are, so forward we go! And we decided the first thing we’re duty bound to do is make a few predictions about the year’s jewelry trends. This summer we expect you’ll be seeing a lot of wedding jewelry that could be described as fresh… striking… unique… and exciting. This is going to be a pretty amazing year!

Specifically, we bet you’ll be seeing more:

Floral Bridal Headbands – Pretty and feminine, floral bridal headbands are showing up on brides of all ages. Pair this look with a simpler wedding gown, lest you end up looking sickly sweet instead of just sweet.

Statement Colors – Crystal bridal jewelry will never go out of style, but 2013’s brides are going to be a lot braver when it comes to color than brides of years past. Look for bold, saturated colors on brides – think deep blues, royal purples, and brilliant black and silver.

Artisan Inspired Pieces – Whether that means the continuing popularity of all things vintage or jewelry that looks like it was created by your bestie who took that class that time, it’s all about that personalized, handmade look. Be original!

Chandelier Earrings: Big bridal earrings can give you that wow factor when you’re wearing a relatively plain wedding gown like a sheath. Just remember that these will always coordinate better with an updo than a half-and-half or long, flowing style.

What 2013 wedding jewelry trends are you excited about??


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When You Have to Plan a Wedding Fast

How quickly can you plan a wedding? It’s not a question that many brides-to-be ask themselves, considering the average length of engagement is roughly 15 months. Still, plenty of couples are on the expedited ceremony and reception plan where time is of the absolute essence. We won’t get into why there’s a need for speed because there are just oodles of reasons – suffice it to say, sometimes you need to met all those wedding planning deadlines – from booking a venue to choosing wedding jewelry – sooner rather than later.

For many, the answer is hiring a wedding planner. While hiring a pro to plan a wedding can be a big expense, it doesn’t have to be and in cases where time is of the essence, it can end up saving the couple money (not to mention time) in the long run. That’s because a planner will have the inside track on services and professionals who have openings on the wedding date in question. Some vendors will charge a premium for a wedding that’s a mere month or two away, while most will simply be unavailable. Planners have the glorious ability to find those who aren’t booked and get a good deal.

wedding planning quickly

But let’s say a planner just isn’t in your budget… what then? Then you need to figure out a timeline that will help you realize your dream wedding without freaking out. Step one is still going to be figuring out your budget and whether the number is huge or tiny, it’s an important one. Step two? Finding a venue and reserving it ASAP. Preferably one that can be used as both the ceremony and reception spaces and will come decorated. Then you need to book your priority vendors. Realize that you may not get your first choice pros on your schedule.

These are the three most important things you’ll need to do when planning a wedding fast! Everything else, from choosing a wedding dress (like the Sandals wedding dress in the pic) to buying your wedding jewelry to picking your bridesmaids can be done in a more relaxed way without gumming up the works. Which isn’t to say you can drag your heels, but once you have the big three under control your wedding is pretty much in the bag whether it’s in six weeks or six months.

Just remember that when you’re rushing it, you’re probably going to have to make sacrifices. Maybe that will mean having a Sunday afternoon wedding instead of a Saturday evening affair. Your dream of walking down the aisle in a designer dress may not be realized. And second choices may have to become your top choices. The payoff is that you get to have your wedding when you want to or need to – and you miss out on months of wedding planning stress. That’s what we call winning!

 


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A Little Sparkle to Ring in the New Year

Your wedding accessories don’t have to be the only thing that sparkles at your reception. As brilliantly as crystal wedding jewelry can catch candlelight, there’s nothing quite like letting guests fire up specialty sparklers at your after-dark affair.

And there’s more than one way to have fun with wedding sparklers.

Forget rice or birdseed… give guests sparklers tied up with ribbons or monogrammed paper packaging and let them see you off in striking style. Your exit photos will be amazing! Or skip the usual wedding cake topper in favor of sparklers surrounding something like this. Your cake cutting ceremony will be an unforgettable event all its own. Or plan ahead with your wedding photographer to use wedding sparklers to create a brilliant message in one or more of your pics.

Of course, you could just give out packets of signature sparklers as your wedding favor and let guests do what they will. Especially if you’re having your reception outdoors and there will be lots of older kids in attendance.

But no matter what you do with your wedding sparklers play it safe! Before you commit to wedding sparklers, make sure your venue allows them and doesn’t require any extra prep on your part. And only use sparklers in spaces where stray sparks won’t ignite anything flammable. Finally, designate someone like a bridesmaid or groomsmen to keep an eye on who is using sparklers and how they’re using them. We’ll go ahead and assume that everyone at your wedding will act responsibly, but you never know.

Happy New Year from all of us at USABride!


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Why Is Choosing Wedding Jewelry So Hard?

So you have the dress of your dreams – maybe it’s hanging in your closet in a museum quality garment bag or it’s waiting for you at the bridal salon for the day you come in for your first round of alterations. Your venue is booked, the officiant is on board, and you’re still under budget. Next up on your wedding planning to-do list is choosing wedding jewelry!

Simple, right? Except that every time you hit the shops or fire up your browser, you start feeling overwhelmed. And why not… there’s crystal wedding jewelry, pearl wedding jewelry, matched sets of gold wedding jewelry, solo single pieces, Swarovski crystals, hand cut Austrian rhinestones, and colored gems in every hue under the sun. And that’s before you even start thinking about styles of wedding jewelry.

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to make choosing wedding jewelry easy – or at least fun, even if having to say no is sometimes painful. Did you know that we have stylists on staff who can help you choose the perfect bridal accessories? We consulted them to get some pre-buy pointers brides-to-be can use to narrow down their choices.

Let Your Gown Do the Choosing

It’s pretty obvious that your wedding jewelry ought to be simpler if your gown looks like one of these:

And should be – or can be – more ornate if your gown looks like this:

Then there’s color to think about. Stark white gowns coordinate with certain jewelry, while cream and ivory and diamond and especially that lovely color known as rum pink will look best with other pieces. Not that there isn’t overlap in terms of what looks good with what, thank goodness! Still, always consider color.

Next up, necklines. A gown’s neckline can be the deciding factor when you’re trying to choose between two wedding jewelry sets. There are more options open to a bride wearing a dress with a plunging neckline than there are for brides whose necklines are riding high. Even earrings can clash with certain necklines – when in doubt, take your jewelry frontrunners for a dress up appointment with your gown to see how they look together.

But Your Gown’s Not the Only Thing

There are the other accessories in your bridal ensemble, of course, like the veil (if you’re wearing one) and also your hairstyle, which is super important when you’re picking out earrings. Face shape matters, too. And the formality level of your wedding may also play a role in your choice of wedding jewelry, though we’d never tell you not to go glam at an otherwise casual wedding! Finally, your first wedding jewelry buys may drive the next ones, since you want your necklace, earrings, and other accessories to harmonize with each other.

No matter what you do, though, NEVER wait until the last minute to buy your wedding jewelry. Give yourself plenty of time to pick your dress and do a little wedding planning before you even start thinking about jewelry so you’re not rushed. Rushing = stress, after all.


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Would You Have a Christmas Wedding?

Every year, around this time, wedding planning blogs and magazines will feature a Christmas wedding inspiration board. And we’re no exception! But in addition to sharing a little holiday wedding inspiration, we also want to pose a question. Namely, would you ever consider actually having a Christmas wedding? Possibly in December and Christmas themed or even on December 24th or 25th? It’s certainly not a popular choice for modern weddings for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that planning a Christmas wedding can be a bit complicated. But for brides and grooms who love this particular holiday, it can nonetheless be ideal.

So where do you stand? For anyone unsure, we’ve put together a pros and cons list to help those couples thinking about tying the knot around or on Christmas decide whether it’s worth it.

The pros of having a Christmas wedding:

  • If your guest list is limited to mostly family, a Christmastime wedding can be the ultimate dual-family holiday get together. No more worries about who gets you on Christmas day!
  • Choosing a wedding color scheme is easy. There’s always red, green, and white, but don’t forget mauve and gold or blue and silver.
  • Red bridesmaid dresses. Need we say more?
  • Winter is an off month in the wedding industry, so you may have access to some amazing deals. That may also mean popular venues have openings!
  • And speaking of venues, yours may already be decorated. But if not, check out our holiday wedding decorating ideas!

The cons of having a Christmas wedding:

  • There will always be guests who decline because their own celebrations will conflict with your wedding date or they don’t want to deal with the hassles of holiday travel.
  • Depending on where you’re saying your vows, the weather may be unpredictable. Your wedding probably won’t be snowed out, but it may keep some guests from attending.
  • Some vendors may be unavailable because they want to spend the holidays with their families, not at work.
  • You may end up feeling limited by your theme. A red crystal tiara might feel Christmas-y, but maybe you want to wear a more traditional veil. Could be you don’t care for poinsettias. (Remember, you can have a Christmas wedding that doesn’t scream CHRISTMAS!)

Pros and cons aside, it’s your wedding and if you love everything about Christmas, it can be a wonderful time to have a wedding. Put the aggravations of the season aside – they’re nothing you can’t overcome with a little money or a little effort. Having the wedding YOU want is always worth the trouble!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE WHOLE USABRIDE TEAM!


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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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Wedding Dresses: Embracing the Details

Have you ever wondered what makes a wedding dress feminine? A lot of guides will try to tell you what feminine wedding dresses are without really talking about the essence of the gowns they’re featuring. What makes a wedding dress fun… or romantic… or quirky… or feminine? We asked our staff stylists for input into that very question and they answered that it’s all about the details. Take the following wedding dresses, for instance. They are decidedly feminine – even if all we’ve seen is a little bit of the back.

But that’s not all there is to it. The few details we can see tell us that we’re looking at two gowns that would be just perfect for the feminine bride who wants to feel romantic, but also a little bit sexy. Again, it’s all about the details. Maybe a well-placed bridal brooch on your beach wedding dress, giving it just enough elegance to give sand some sophistication. Or a pretty bow at the waist of your otherwise sleek gown. It could be a sash or a keyhole cutout or lace at the decolletage. A plunging neckline. And even deeper plunge at the back. Seed pearls. You name it – but whatever it is, know that it is saying something about your bridal style.

You can capitalize on that simple fact by thinking in terms of the details when you’re shopping for wedding dresses, be the frocks that melt your heart tend to be feminine or beachy or sexy or sophisticated or some combination of all four. Sure, you could focus entirely on the big picture and end up with a perfectly passable dress. But never forget, it’s the details that will truly make your wedding dress stand out from the crowd.


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What to Do About Unhelpful Bridesmaids

You chose your bridesmaids. You proposed, and they said yes. You bought each of them the bridesmaid jewelry you thought they’d love best. Now you’re relying on them to be your Gal Fridays in the months and weeks leading up to the wedding. Most of your bridesmaids have really risen to the challenge of gown shopping, assembling wedding favors, and helping you pick out the perfect flowers for your bridal bouquet. But one bridesmaid? Well, she’s slacking.

Not that you have ridiculously high expectations. You went into wedding planning knowing you didn’t want to be a bridezilla, and reading this very blog has taught you that bridesmaids can’t be forced to put in a hard day’s work. Still, you’re wondering what’s up since your bestie seemed super psyched when she accepted your invitation to be in your wedding party and opened the pretty little bag with her bridesmaid jewelry and bridesmaid gift.

We can’t explain what’s going on in her head, of course, but we can help you figure out what she’s thinking.

First, ask yourself if this particular bridesmaid is just extra busy and you’ve been so wrapped up in wedding planning that you haven’t noticed. Maybe she’s in med school. Maybe she’s finishing up a jewelry making course. Could be that she’s been taking care of a sick loved one or is swamped at work. Consider tactfully asking your absentee bridesmaid why she hasn’t been able to make it to your group wedding planning activities.

Then, consider whether you’ve been asking too much of your bridesmaids. Bridesmaid jewelry isn’t a payment for services rendered, and bridesmaids-to-be need their weekends, too. It’s easy to let your own enthusiasm for stuff like cake tasting overwhelm your good sense when it comes to overworking your best girlfriends. Be sensitive to the fact that they have lives, too, and to-dos they need to take care of.

Finally, if you’re getting a really unenthusiastic vibe from the bridesmaid in question, think about whether she might have accepted the position out of a sense of obligation rather than excitement. We’re not saying that she doesn’t want to be in your wedding but as hard as it is to believe, not everyone finds the experience of taking on the usual bridesmaid duties a laugh riot.

Here’s one last suggestion: cut your slacker bridesmaid some… well, slack. There are so many reasons that a bridesmaid might not make it to all the pre-wedding activities, and the vast majority of them have nothing to do with how said bridesmaid feels about the bride.


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