Some Guys Do, Some Guys Don’t

Well, if you read my first article last month, you know I’m one of the guys that do! Do what you ask? Get involved in planning the wedding, that’s what. Or better yet, grabbing the reins, digging in your spurs, and holding on for the utterly frustrating, exhilarating and extremely rewarding ride as wedding coordinator. Unrealistic? Ludicrous, you say. I intend to show you just how simple playing a leading role, or at least an active one, can be. Then, it’s up to you to decide how involved you become in the planning process. Because, as far as I’m concerned, every man should at least be given this choice.

The universal constant of this daunting problem is simple — knowledge. The age-old adage that “knowledge is power” holds true not only in the boardroom, but also the bedroom — where your most difficult compromises will be brokered. Getting smart fast is the key to overcoming the disbelievers and nay-sayers, i.e., wedding vendors, wives-to-be, in-laws and even your own family, who may question your intended role and, possibly, your capabilities.

How, then, do you go about gaining this knowledge? Wisdom that has remained guarded for as long as the bride’s family has been responsible for financing this old-fashioned affair? In most instances, you’ll need to look outside the immediate family for insight into the mysteries of the ritual of joining two as one. So, for purposes of this exercise, we’ll deal in worst-case scenarios and assume that you will be completely on your own.

Fortunately for you, where to turn and what to look for is no farther than a “click” away. My recent experience has shown that by far the easiest and cheapest option, as with just about everything these days, is the Internet. The proliferation of online resources related to weddings is staggering. And in most cases the information and associated tools are free! In a matter of minutes, you can use USABride, or other similar websites, to get everything from advice on how to hide those laugh lines, to dealing with the “monthly visitor” on your wedding day. For now, that’s just the way it is — most of the available advice, printed or electronic, is provided for the bride. Don’t fear, though, folks like me are lobbying on your behalf to ensure that the guys get their due. And the information is coming, albeit at a slow and measured pace.

So, while sites like this gear up to address men and marriage, skip over the wedding dress guides, beauty tips, and advice on table centerpieces and go directly to your ace-in-the-hole — the planning timeline. This is the most important document in your quest to get educated. By committing these timelines to memory, you can easily dazzle any detractors with your understanding of the most critical aspects of the planning process. You are then ready to implement the key elements of my first article — divvying up the responsibilities.

Unfortunately, the Internet is not a panacea. At least not yet anyway. I would also suggest supplementing the Internet with books and magazines. Both these mediums are particularly useful from a visual perspective. They tend to provide many pictures, which, you’ll find, are invaluable for getting ideas on just about everything from overall themes, to colors, to layouts for the ceremony and reception. In keeping with my thrifty theme, I suggest you start with the library. Why buy a $60 hardback book when you can find many of the same things at your local public library.

Magazines can also be useful, but they tend to be incredibly frustrating unless you’re in the market for a wedding dress. By advertising standards, these voluminous periodicals offer less hard facts and worthwhile information (our objective here remember) per square inch than any other magazine on the rack. But you just never know when there might be a needle buried on page 1,243 of these unwieldy haystacks.

The bottom line is this: by getting smart, you can demonstrate your capacity to be a contributor and, possibly, to even make yourself indispensable. Take it from someone who’s been there, the planning process is an emotional roller-coaster, but knowing that you can make a difference, that you can help weave this tapestry, is well worth the effort. Good luck, and hit the books!


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The Golden Rule: Let Others Do Your Work for You

By Brian Kremer

As I have stressed in my previous two articles, the key for men in the wedding process is to get smart and to make yourself useful, if not indispensable, fast. But as with life in general, it takes more than book smarts to get by in the real world. So even though your newfound knowledge of wedding minutia may impress your bride-to-be and future mother-in-law, they will want to see results! This is can be a very scary moment, when you are challenged to put-up or shut-up. Know that your detractors are circling slowly, assuming it is only a matter of time before they have to swoop in and pick up the pieces.

So there you sit, “to do” list prioritized with file folders to match (don’t worry, it will happen). There are venues, caterers, music, flowers and a host of other items to procure. You now face the realization that although your new resource library may provide the top five questions for interrogating pastry chefs, what they can’t do is tell you who in Podunk, Wyoming, can whip a staid bunch of grayhairs into a “Chicken Dance” frenzy!

As you diligently research wedding vendors, you must avoid becoming overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of options. Weddings are big business, which means everyone is trying to get in on the action. But that’s good for the consumer because it means that there is something out there for everyone. Rock, swing, jazz, folk, oom-pa-pa bands, DJs, string quartets, pianists, bagpipers or how about karaoki? You should be able to eliminate many of the choices out there based on your fiancés’ and your personal preferences. However, in many instances, for example, caterers and florists, the vendors all look the same! Your next move, therefore, is to take the easy way out and tap your friends, acquaintances, long-lost relatives, and anyone else you can track down for inside information. That’s right, why do all the dirty work when there are plenty of others who have done the hard part for you.

Your job, then, is to track down anyone in, attending or with secondhand information on a recent wedding. Most people either love or hate such affairs and should be more than happy to share their opinions with you on everything from the bridal parties’ hairdos to asparagus philos (you will come to know what these are, believe me) to the choice of wedding favors. If you are patient and can navigate the asides about Uncle Barry’s drunk antics or second cousin Paul’s scantily clad date, you may harvest a few pearls of useful information. With several firsthand suggestions on vendors, your list of possible choices should be reduced considerably.

Next, you will have to get as much information as possible from each vendor. Develop a list of questions to ask and whenever possible, send the list to the vendors and have them reply in writing. This way, you can make a direct comparison based on price. In most cases, the vendors will also outline additional services that they would provide. Just remember that you often get what you pay for, but that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be of high quality. You are bound to get proposals that are all over the map. That’s why referrals and references are extremely important. Make sure you ask each vendor for references. Not just letters, but phone numbers or e-mail addresses of actual people you can speak with about the company (or person) under consideration. Any business that considers itself a well run, professional outfit will be more than happy to provide references.

The moral of this story is that nothing beats word-of-mouth, unless you have firsthand knowledge of those people in which you will place one of the biggest days of your life. Think about it. Make mine the first bit of advice you follow. The DJ, caterer and florist I found, and eventually used, all came highly recommended from friends or family. As much as I would like to take all the credit for a great wedding, my wife and I chose to go with known quantities and it definitely paid off. Nothing can guarantee a perfect wedding day, but by applying these fundamental principles you will be well on your way. Until next time, happy hunting.


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A Groom’s Guide to Lingerie

Let’s be honest, grooms. Have you caught yourself putting all this nuptial mayhem on pause, letting your mind fast forward to the wedding night? Picture it: Soft music, the romantic glow of candles and your new bride in a sexy lace teddy. Va-voom!

A gift of gorgeous — and tasteful — lingerie speaks volumes. You’re telling your wife that you’re excited to share this special evening and find her breathtaking.

Seductive Sure Bets and the Slut Factor

While your dream lingerie look may be straight out of the pages of Frederick’s of Hollywood with garters, thigh highs and a barely-there bra, this may not be your mate’s idea of sexy. In fact, she may think it’s trashy.

There’s a thin line between sexy and slutty when it comes to lingerie. You want your wife to feel special and sensual, not cheap. If you’ve never seen her wear thong underwear, it’s probably a clear sign they’re not her style. For your wedding night, err on the side of caution, picking something that’s elegant and delicate. Get in touch with your feminine side, fella!

Not sure of her style or want to try to experiment with something new but aren’t sure if she’ll go for it? Suggest a lingerie shopping trip. If a stop at the mall is out, pick up a lingerie catalog, like one from Victoria’s Secret. Browse through the pages and ask for her input. This way you’re sure to pick something that will get her stamp of approval.

What’s a Fail-Safe Gift When You’re Looking at Lingerie?

* SURE BET: A silk robe. Underneath, she can wear something equally beautiful or — ta-da! — nothing at all.

* SURE BET: If you’re not sure she’ll like something made of tight-fitting lace, silky nightwear is sure to bring a smile to her face. You can pick a nightshirt, a cropped top and boxer short set, or something with a pair of long pants. This look is sexy without being too over the top and is something she’ll want to wear over and over again to get you in the mood.

* AVOID: Anything flannel. This is your new bride, not grandma.

* AVOID: Garments that look uncomfortable to wear, such as a corset.


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Gift Registry Made Easy

Making Gift Registry EASY for Everyone!

Until now, the wedding registry process was inconvenient, time consuming and often impersonal for couples and guest alike. Couples had to complete and maintain multiple gift registries and often were limited to the kinds of gifts they could select from a handful of stores. Guests had trouble finding out where a couple was registered and had to contact or travel to numerous retail locations to find out an item was out of stock or to wait in long check out lines.

Those days are OVER!

Wedding NetworkOn-line gift registries are providing the answer. One of the best we’ve found is The Wedding Network (http://www.wedding network). The Wedding Network offers both couples and guests the freedom to choose products and services that better fit their individual tastes, needs and interests. Just think — no more candy dishes!

Here are just a few of the benefits that you can receive from The Wedding Network’s On-Line Gift Registry Service:

Extensive Product and Service Network. You can register for products and services from a broad network of exclusive specialty retailers which includes Smith & Hawken, Strouds, The Body Shop, Nat Schwartz & Co. (fine china and crystal), Magellan’s (travel accessories) and many others.

Thank You Notes Simplified. Ucopia will send you a complete gift summary shortly after the wedding that will make thank you notes a lot easier!

Group Purchasing. Offers individual guests the flexibility to purchase shares of gifts. Guests can collectively contribute towards a special gift that might otherwise be beyond their individual budgets.

Charitable Contributions. You can specify one or two charities to which you would like contributions made on your behalf. Many second-time brides and grooms are taking advantage of this option.

Customized Shipping Schedule. Going on a honeymoon or moving into a new house? You’ll love this option of tailoring a gift delivery schedule to meet your needs.

Couple Profile. This describes hobbies and interests to help your guests select just the right gift for you!

Gift Consultation. Your guests can select gifts with the help of a trained “Gift Consultant” who is available by PHONE seven days a week. No more searching through department stores for registry items. No more waiting in long check out lines or finding that the gift you’ve selected is out of stock. It’s stress free shopping in the convenience of your own home.

Can your traditional wedding registry all do this?

Give Wedding Network a try!


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Crystal Registry Tips

*When choosing your crystal, pick up the glasses and hold them in your hand. They all look beautiful on display, but you want to make sure that they feel comfortable in your hand and your fiancé’s hand.
*Remember, when you register for beautiful crystal such as wine glasses or water goblets, you can also use them for other things. The purpose of crystal is to enjoy it – use the wine glass for orange juice in the morning (what a nice way to start your day!) Use the water goblets for any beverage or for desserts or parfaits. Who knows… it might even make that low fat ice cream taste better.
*When registering for crystal, don’t forget to register for several vases in various sizes. A crystal water pitcher can make a beautiful accent piece on your table.
*You should register for at least eight, but preferably twelve place settings of crystal. It may sound like a lot.. but you’ll use them all eventually!
*You want your dinnerware, glassware and flatware to all coordinate. Sometimes it is hard to image how all of the items will look together when they are displayed in different shelves through out the store. So, ask for assistance from a sales associate and set up a complete table setting including your dinnerware, flatware and glassware.


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Gifts for the Bride and Groom to Exchange

By Jolene Campbell

The days leading up to your wedding day will be crazy at best. While it’s not required, exchanging a special gift with your soon-to-be spouse is a wonderful way to stay focused on your upcoming life together.

Gifts Fit for a Bride

* Jewelry: A groom can score major points by picking something his bride can wear walking down the aisle. Anything with pearls — such as a necklace, earrings or bracelet — is guaranteed to get a squeal of delight from your sweetie. Help her fulfill the “something old, something new” tradition by selecting a blue piece of jewelry, like a sapphire. If there is an heirloom piece in your family, now’s the ideal time to present it to her.

* Spa treatment: Treat your honey with a “day of beauty” gift certificate to her favorite salon for when you’re back from the honeymoon. She’ll be coming down off her bridal high and this pick-me-up will do the trick.

* Accessories for the home: Present her with a special trinket for your new abode. A handmade quilt, that piece of artwork she’s been eying, a soothing rock fountain or a sterling silver picture frame for your wedding portrait are a few ideas.

Great Groom Gifts

* Adventure: Has your man been dying to go white water rafting or skydiving? Sign him (and you, if you’re feeling adventurous) up for lessons. Talk about adding a guaranteed thrill to your marriage!

* Electronics: There aren’t many men that don’t drool over a new stereo or a DVD player. Now’s the time to indulge your guy and set up your new home’s entertainment center at the same time. A camcorder or digital camera can be tucked away in your suitcase to chronicle your honeymoon adventure.

* Sports: Does your fella love football or plan his vacation around the basketball season? Tickets to watch his favorite team in action or a piece of rare memorabilia are two great ideas for the sports fan in your life.


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GIFT REGISTRY AND THE GROOM

Just the word “SHOPPING” can make some men run in the opposite direction! So, here are some great shopping strategies to get your groom involved in the gift registry process:

1.As we all know, men and women are very different. So, don’t EXPECT your groom-to-be to get excited about china, crystal, flatware or new bed linens. Adjust your expectations so that you understand and ACCEPT the fact that he may not share your enthusiasm in these areas.

2.If your fiancé is like most men and doesn’t like to shop — do him and YOURSELF a favor and do the preliminary shopping on your own.

Go through ALL of the registry categories that you’d like to register for and narrow your selection down to 2-3 items in each category (i.e. top 3 china patterns, top two patterns of bed linens, etc.). Then, show your fiancé your top two or three selections and ask for his input in making the “final” selections.

3.Most men do find SOME areas of the registry interesting and DO want to provide input in choosing those items.

For instance, some men may be more interested in electronics, audio equipment, tools, gardening equipment or cookware. So, try to be more ‘”compromising” in those areas. Then, in the areas that your finance has little or no interest – you’ll have the most (if not all) of the input.

4.If you can’t agree on a particular item. Then, SKIP over it for now and move on to something else. Usually, when you “sleep on it” or bring it up for discussion a few days later, you’ll likely find a resolution.

5.Don’t try and do everything in ONE trip! When one of you starts feeling tired, hungry or irritable – STOP! Take a break, grab something to eat or go home and plan to finish another day.

6. If your registry is in a department store – AVOID shopping on Saturdays when the store is most crowded and DON’T go shopping when the store is having a “super-sale”.

7. One of the BEST ways to get your fiance involved in the gift registry process is to register with an ON-LINE GIFT REGISTRY.

Not only do they offer the convenience of shopping from your own home (no crowded department stores) but most men are likely to feel more comfortable in front of a computer screen then in the China Department of a department store.

In addition, On-Line Gift Registries offer an incredible selection of products and services that a traditional registry just can’t.


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Bridal Show Tips

Bridal shows can be informative and fun with the right attitude and preparation! Here’s some great tips and ideas you should consider when attending a show.

*Where to Find Them – Bridal shows are just about everywhere these days – hotels, malls, department stores and wedding reception halls. Some are small, some are huge! Don’t hesitate to attend a few. Have some fun, bring your fiancé, your mom, or your best friend.

*Register Before the Show – If you registered before the show, most admission is free! If not, some will charge up to a $9.00 admission fee. Now, when you pre-register, some will give you a set of labels when you arrive at the door with your name, address, telephone and wedding date. Most every vendor at the show will have some sort of prize giveaway, and these labels are used for the drawing.

For the smaller, local shows, you might want to make up some pre-printed labels on the computer ahead of time. If you do want to enter the drawings then you won’t have to fill out your name and address a hundred times!

*Prize Giveaways and a Word of Caution – Just about every wedding vendor at these bridal shows, has some type of promotion or prize giveaway, from a drawing for FREE wedding invitations, a FREE engagement portrait or a FREE tuxedo for the groom with rental of four others. Be aware that some of these “free” prizes may have a few strings attached.

Also, realize that when you put your name in for a drawing, that you may not win a prize, but you’ll most certainly get on every wedding-related mailing list for the next year!

* Bring a Pad and Pen – Bring a small notebook and pen. You never know what tips or ideas you’ll find out and want to write down. There’s so much to see that by the time you get home, you may forget!

* Get a Big Bag – Most shows offer a small to medium size carry-all bag when you enter the show. There’s so much information at each booth you can easily fill it up. Grab all the information you can! Take it home and go through it all later.

*Meet Vendors – Most of the vendors are very friendly and will talk to you about their products and services in as much detail as you want. However, the shows are very hectic and noisy, so if you find a vendor that you like, it’s best to set up an appointment and meet with them later.

If a vendor tries to “pressure” you into booking their services and placing a deposit with them TODAY (at the show)… keep walking!

*The Fashion Show – The centerpiece of any bridal show is the fashion show and you won’t want to miss it. Keep a pen and notebook handy in case you see a style or designer you really like.

* Don’t Get Overwhelmed – When brides and grooms visit these bridal shows they can sometimes feel overwhelmed. There’s so much to see and so many vendors. Many can feel overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions that need to be made. But remember wedding planning is usually done over the course of a year… not in one day! It’s one decision at a time!


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I’m Engaged!! So Now What Do I Do?

Congratulations, you’re getting married! If you’re like most, you’ve dreamed about your wedding day ever since you were a child. Now the time has come, but the difficulty is knowing where to begin…

First, you should announce your engagement and share your wonderful news with family and friends. Some brides like to formally announce their engagement in their local newspapers. Others simply prefer word of mouth or maybe an engagement party. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to enjoy this wonderful and magical time in your life.

Now, just like with any large undertaking, you first start with the big picture and then work your way down to the details. The first issue you need to think about, as it will effect the rest of your wedding planning, is money.

I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but let’s face it, unless you’re among a chosen few in which the “skies the limit”…You need to set a budget. You’ve got to determine how much you can spend on your wedding and who’s going to contribute to your wedding expenses.

With that in mind, your next step is to develop an overall framework for your wedding. You need to begin thinking about what kind of wedding you want. Maybe a particular theme? Do you want a small, intimate wedding or a grand, lavish celebration, or maybe something in between?

By making a few decisions about what you like and what you don’t like, it can really help you to narrow down the vast array of choices. Here are a few questions you should answer to help you on your way…

* How much money do you want to spend on your wedding?

* Do you want a small or a large wedding?

* Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding?

* What time of year do you want to get married?
* Do you want to get married during the day or in the evening?

*Do you want a traditional style wedding or something more contemporary?
*Do you want an elegant, formal setting or something more romantic and intimate?

*Do you want a formal sit down dinner, a cocktail reception or something in between?

* Do you want to get married close to home or at some other “exciting” or romantic destination location?

* Do you want to get married and have your reception at the same location?

Once you’ve answered some of these general questions… it’s time to move on to your first big decision! It’s one of the most challenging and important decisions you’ll have to make – choosing a location for your reception.

Your reception site is the most influential in determining the overall mood and atmosphere of your wedding. You want to select a reception site that matches your individual style, taste and budget. This is not an easy task and can certainly require a significant amount of time and effort.

Keep in mind that many popular reception sites book up a year or more in advance. So, if you have a particular reception site or certain date in mind, don’t wait!


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10 New Flower Trends for Your Wedding

Brides are no longer relegated to choosing the traditional bouquet of plain white flowers with ferns. These days, the sky is the limit! There is an unlimited number and variety of beautiful flowers to choose from. Consider the following trends in flowers, and use your imagination to build the bouquet of your dreams:

1. Think about using some flowers as a pleasant way of saying “thank you”. Corsages and boutonnieres can be given to your close family, friends or to wedding participants who have helped in the coordination of your wedding day. You could also offer a corsage or boutonniere to your organist and Officiant.
2. There are many different styles of bouquets to choose from. One bouquet style rising in popularity is the hand tied bouquet. This fresh bunch of flowers, or posy style, will give a “just been picked” look of simple elegance to the bride and the bridal party alike.
3. Some brides are choosing to write romantic messages with their flowers! Selecting flowers with special meanings is an old-fashioned and sentimental way to express your feelings. Sweet peas, musk rose and lisianthus all offer a great way to personalize your flowers.
4. You not only want your flowers to look good, they should smell good too. Fragrance is becoming an important consideration for many brides, who are choosing the flowers in their bouquet to give a lovely scent. Some of these fragrant beauties include: gardenias, peonies, stephanotis and tuberoses.
5. The classic and timeless all white bridal bouquet is still a popular choice for some brides. This bouquet generally includes lily of the valley and orchids. The flowers are arranged into a soft and romantic style of bouquet. The bouquet can be held in the hands, or cradled lightly in the arm.
6. One new trend that you might like to consider, is the “champagne wedding”. With this theme, both the bride and attendants carry all-white, fragrant bouquets.
7. In contrast to the trend-setting theme of the “champagne wedding”, the rich, deep floral colors are rising in popularity. Many bride’s and attendant’s bouquets are now being chosen in the rich, saturated colors of rose, burgundy and deep violet.
8. If you are looking to have a modern style to your wedding, consider some of the more modern bouquet looks. Some favorites include: large, yellow sunflowers, or colorful posy bouquets consisting of many different kinds of flowers. If you have chosen a gown with a simple, but stylish, line you may like to carry one single lily. This can look positively stunning!
9. The Victorian influence is also becoming more popular. The Victorian style includes romantic, soft colored blush roses and baby’s breath. These flowers can be placed in the bride’s hair, as well as in the bouquet, and can also be carried by the flower girls. Mothers of the bride can be given a single flower to carry, or can be offered a simple, pretty nosegay.
10. Many brides are coordinating their florist with their caterer and cake baker to provide floral decorations for their cake and buffet table. You may like to have flowers on your cake knife, goblets, or serving plates. Adding this type of floral detail can truly make a difference to the appearance and festive atmosphere of your reception.


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