Wedding Planning 101: Keep the YOU in Your Wedding

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.

alternative wedding - wedding planning

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.”

Christa Terry is a wedding expert


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Wedding Planning 101: When Opting Out Is A-OK

Every now and then, a planner working with an offbeat couple will suggest some alternative bridal accessory or wedding venue, and one or two (or more) well-meaning people will chime in to express the opinion that tradition ought to be kept in the traditional wedding for tradition’s sake. Or to ensure that no one is offended or confused. Or because that is simply how things are done.

When it comes to tradition for tradition’s sake, I would no more argue that there’s anything wrong with wanting a traditional wedding than I can argue that there’s anything wrong with untraditional weddings. And when it comes to “how things are done,” I can’t argue that, either.

alternative wedding ideas

What I can dispute is that straying from the traditional wedding format or wearing alternative bridal garb or serving a macrobiotic reception dinner a la Gwen P. is less than etiquette friendly because it will potentially offend or confuse someone, somewhere.

There’s a difference between what is truly offensive and what will simply offend certain people who are probably easily offended. Add to that the fact that what is offensive to some people/cultures/societies — e.g., anything from religious iconography to phallic statuary — will not always be offensive to all people/cultures/societies… and what you get is a lot of confused brides-to-be.

The good news is that the majority of the confusion I see (here, on forums, and in real life) involves relatively benign issues that at worst will cause temporary hurt feelings and at best won’t offend anyone at all. In fact, the answer to the question “What if I don’t follow this particular tradition/hire this type of vendor/wear this piece of clothing?” is often “Nothing at all!”

The most common opt-outs I see on wedding message boards are, in no particular order:

  • Not exchanging (or wearing) wedding rings
  • Saying no to being given away
  • Not having the parent-child dances
  • Not serving cake/alcohol/meat/etc. at the reception
  • Wearing anything other than a white or cream wedding gown
  • Choosing a non-religious ceremony
  • Spending less than the average for the locale
  • Forgoing best men, maids-of-honor, bridesmaids, and groomsmen
  • Not hiring a wedding band or wedding DJ
  • DIYing everything from arch to cake

What it comes down to is this: If your choices aren’t hurting anyone, aren’t in some way discourteous or overtly offensive, aren’t designed to purposefully exclude people, and aren’t dangerous or illegal, you’re probably okay. Furthermore, that which shocks is not automatically offensive (though that won’t excuse you from sideward glances) and confusion isn’t grounds for deeming something bad etiquette. Finally, context counts. A nude wedding at Burning Man? I’m going to guess pretty unoffensive. A nude wedding at grandma’s house? You risk putting the OH(NOSHEDIDN’T) in OHffensive.

In the end, be your own bride and your wedding will be beautiful.

Christa Terry is a wedding expert


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Wedding Cake Alternatives

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.

wedding cake alternatives - cake pops

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.

wedding cake alternatives - pie

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.

wedding cake alternatives - crepes

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.

wedding cake alternatives - waffles

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!

Christa Terry is a wedding expert


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Decorating Your Wedding with Balloons

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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:

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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

Christa Terry is a wedding expert

 


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Wedding ‘Disasters’ and How to Overcome Them Gracefully

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.

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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.

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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!

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Christa Terry is a wedding expert


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Wedding Planning and Those Pesky Last Minute Details

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.

View More: http://ivystudios.pass.us/amber--rob-123113

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!

Christa Terry is a wedding expert

 


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Bridesmaid: Can You Really Wear that Dress Again?

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.

bridesmaids dresses wear againImage: 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.

blue bridesmaids dresses mismatchedImage: 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!

sparkling bridesmaids dressesImage: 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.

tan and gold bridesmaids dresses

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.

two piece bridesmaids dresses

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.

floral bridesmaids dresses

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.

retro bridesmaids dressesImage: Briana Purser Photography

Happy shopping, ladies!coral bridesmaids dresses

Christa Terry is a wedding expert

 


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Your Headpiece: The Crowning Touch

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.

pearl bridal comb

*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.

pearl bridal headband

*Hair pins. For just a touch of sparkle in your bridal updo, I love our Fresh Water hairpins.

pearl hair pins bridal

*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.

pearl bridal tiara

*The classic wedding veil. From Flyaway to fingertip to sweep veils and beyond, nothing says bride quite like a gorgeous veil.

bridal veil styles - bride veil help

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.

 


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The Most Wonderful Backless Wedding Dress Inspiration

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!

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inbal dror

Jim Hjelm

julie vino

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Watters

yaki ravid

How bare do you dare to go?


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Modern Wedding Cake Inspiration That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

With all the options there are now, choosing a wedding cake can be almost as fraught with indecision as choosing bridesmaids dresses! The right wedding cake designer can create almost everything under the sun, from cakes that look like anything you can imagine to traditional wedding cakes with a twist. Currently hot is the modern wedding cake – which means different things to different people. In general, though, if you’re browsing around Pinterest for modern wedding cakes you’re going to see plenty of sharp angles, solid colors, geometric shapes, thick lines, and contemporary color choices. The designs on modern wedding cakes tend to look more like art than aliment, though one hopes the flavors inside are just as delicious as the exteriors are gorgeous. Here are some examples of what I think of when I’m thinking of modern wedding cakes:

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Remember to meet with your wedding cake designer well in advance of the wedding to talk about what kind of cake you’re looking for. It helps to bring pictures, so queue up your wedding cake inspiration board on your phone or tablet before the meeting!

Have a sweet week!

 


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