Top 10 Ways to Save on Flowers & Decorations

1. Use candles for centerpieces instead of flowers.
2. Decorate with balloons.
3. Use silk flowers. They always cost less than fresh flowers, plus they can be rented!
4. Bridal bouquets can double during the reception as decoration for the head table, cake or gift tables.
5. To really save costs, have each bridesmaid carry a single bloom.
6. Make your own pew bows instead of purchasing them. See Making Pew Bows.
7. Use more greenery, tulle, and baby’s breath for decorating, and less flower blooms.
8. Use only flowers that are in season.
9. If your ceremony site is having more than one wedding that day, contact the other bride and talk about sharing decoration expenses.
10. Purchase candles, white lights, and other decorations after the holidays when everything goes on sale. After Christmas sales are great!


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12 Month Wedding Planning Countdown!

Congratulations on your engagement! It’s a time where your will, wit, organizational skills, and humor will be put to the test. Weddings take a lot of planning and you will likely spend over 100 hours on the phone, visiting with vendors, planning, and chasing after details. To help you get off to a good start, we’ve put together a complete outline of the things you’ll need to do for your wedding and the approximate timeline for getting those things done!

6 – 12 Months Before Your Wedding

____ Visit USABride.com regularly for great ideas & some fun
____ Select a wedding date and time & possibly a backup date
____ Announce your engagement in the paper
____ Plan an engagement party with family and friends
____ Talk with a bridal consultant or wedding coordinator
____ Find out what bridal shows are in the area and plan on attending
____ Agree on a preliminary budget
____ Decide who will pay for what and how expenses will be shared
____ Call your church or synagogue for an appointment with the Officiant
____ Consider and ask friends and family to serve as wedding attendants
____ Start a “planning system” and system of organization
____ Start your wedding guest list
____ Start thinking about ideas/themes for your reception and catering plans
____ Determine what type of entertainment you want to have for your reception
____ Decide the type of wedding you would like to have (size, formality, and setting)
____ Think about your color schemes
____ Explore pre-marital counseling
____ Start health and fitness plan if you’re not already in one!
____ Select your reception location
____ Select your professional photographer
____ Select your videographer
____ Select professional caterer (if necessary)
____ Select Musician or Disc Jockey
____ Select your florist
____ Shop together for your wedding rings
____ Select wedding dress and headpiece, and set a date for fittings and delivery
____ Select your bridesmaids’ dresses and accessories
____ It’s time to choose a honeymoon and location
4 Months Prior to the Wedding

____ O.K., now it’s time to spend some real time at USABride.com; details, details…
____ Check the requirements for marriage license
____ Select and discuss your color schemes with the florist/decorator of choice
____ Again consider pre-marital counseling
____ Reserve your wedding day rental equipment
____ Decide upon a gift registry and select your gift choices
____ Order your invitations and related stationery needs
____ Start shopping for the men’s’ wedding attire
____ Reserve your wedding day transportation
____ Research and select readings for ceremony
____ Make music selections for ceremony and reception
____ Decide upon and order favors
____ Select your baker, then choose your cake, and groom’s cake
____ Help both mothers coordinate and find their wedding day clothing
____ Review your contracts with all of your vendors and service providers (DETAILS!)
2 Months Before Your Wedding

____ Well, at this point you could be writing for USABride.com
____ Have engagement portraits taken
____ Place your engagement announcement in the newspaper
____ Mail out invitations and announcements
____ Decide on the men’s wedding attire
____ Arrange and plan your rehearsal dinner
____ Purchase your wedding day accessories
____ Arrange attendant’s parties
____ Prepare accommodations for out-of-town attendants and guests
____ Consider a hairdresser and/or makeup artist and book appointments
____ Finalize all honeymoon plans
1 Month Left!

____ Final wedding dress fitting
____ Final fitting for your wedding attendants
____ Obtain marriage license
____ Have your attendant’s parties
____ Purchase your going-away outfit
____ Create a calendar of events for the wedding day
____ Make sure your accessories are in order (rings, pillow, garter, etc.)
2 Weeks Remaining!

____ Finalize arrangements with the entertainer(s)
____ Provide a list of music you would like played (or not played)
____ Make sure they fit!
____ Contact the guests who have not responded to your invitations.
1 Week to Go!

____ If you can, take the week, or part of the week off from work!
____ Make sure your marriage license is in order
____ Prepare seating arrangements, if necessary
____ Purchase travelers checks, confirm honeymoon reservations
____ Pack your baggage for your honeymoon
____ Have your wedding ceremony rehearsal
____ Instruct your wedding party on what they will be doing on the day of the wedding
____ Have your rehearsal dinner
____ Make sure all wedding attire fits properly
____ Give the best man the amounts your vendors are to be paid on the wedding day
____ Inform your caterer of the total guest count
____ Confirm out-of-town guests have transportation and sleeping accommodations
____ Check with your florist and/or balloonist to make sure they will arrive when scheduled

Your Wedding Day

____ Your primary goal today is to get married! Have fun! Forget about USABride.com!
____ Relax, enjoy yourself, and remain calm!
____ Allow at least two hours for dressing
____ Allow plenty of time to apply your makeup and style your hair
____ If professionals are doing your hair and/or makeup, determine the time they need
____ If photographs are to be taken before the ceremony, allow plenty of time for that!
____ Remember to bring the rings and marriage license
____ Seat guests as they arrive
____ The groom’s parents should be seated about 5 minutes before start time
____ Mother of the bride is normally seated last
____ Take a deep breath, don’t worry, be happy and smile!


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Traditional List of Who Pays for Which Wedding Expenses

Groom and His Family

Bride’s engagement & wedding rings

Groom’s wedding attire

Rehearsal dinner

Marriage license

Accommodations for out-of-town ushers

Alcohol at reception

Wedding gifts for the bride, best man & ushers

Flowers for the bride’s bouquet, corsages for the mothers & grandmothers

Boutonnieres for ushers, ring bearers & fathers

Officiant’s fee

Honeymoon & transportation to the honeymoon

Bride & Her Family

Wedding consultant’s fee

Invitations, personal notes & mailing expense

Transportation for the wedding party

Wedding dress, headpiece & accessories

Lingerie

Attendants’ bouquets

Groom’s gift

Guest book

Cost of the reception

Cost of the ceremony

Photography & videography expense

Groom’s wedding ring

Favors

Accommodations for out-of-town bride’s attendants

Bridesmaids

Wedding attire; Bridesmaid dress, shoes & accessories

Travel costs

Shower & wedding gift for the couple

Shower given by bridesmaids &/or maid of honor

Groomsmen

Wedding attire rental

Wedding gift for the couple

Travel costs

Bachelor party given by best man and/or ushers


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Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Get married in the morning, on a Friday or Sunday and/or in the winter months.

Keep the guest list small.

Make your own veil. Most craft stores sell how-to books and supplies. You can save hundreds of dollars by making your own.

Purchase your wedding gown at a place other than a bridal salon.

Supply your own alcohol if you’re able to.

Consider not having a dinner reception. Opt instead for a brunch, afternoon tea, cocktail or dessert party.

Use silk flowers. They are always less than fresh flowers, plus they can be rented!

Decorate with more greenery and baby’s breath, and less flower blooms.

Make your own invitations. There are software programs available that can help you with this task, and you can purchase wedding desktop publishing paper.

Check out local universities for qualified and inexpensive musicians, photographers, and videographers. Professors will be able to point you to the best students in the program.


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A Bride’s Schedule for an Afternoon Wedding

An Hour to Hour Guide for the Day of the Big Event (For a 3:00pm Ceremony)

O.K. Brides, the moment of truth is only a few short hours away. You have been planning for months. Everything is taken care of; the favors, seating, transportation, and even your honeymoon bag is packed. All that is left is YOU! You should feel pampered and relaxed on your wedding day. To make sure that your wedding day is special and hassle free review this day of the wedding schedule and keep it handy. Feel free to adjust the time frames to suit your needs.

* Try not to stay up late the night before the wedding & avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine so you will be well rested.

8:00a – 9:00a: Rise and shine! Shake off the sleep, stretch, and get ready for the big day. Use this time to just wake up. Take a walk or relax and talk with your bridesmaids and family. Have someone brew some coffee and don’t forget to eat an energy-boosting breakfast. You don’t have to feel stuffed after breakfast, but it is crucial that you do not skip breakfast. It is important that your body gets moving. Walking will help curb your jitters and limber you up for a night full of dancing.

9:00a: This is your time. Pamper yourself by taking a bath and spending an extra long time in the shower. Don’t forget to shave, exfoliate, and moisturize every inch of your body. To make sure that you don’t forget anything it is a good idea to write out lists and stick them onto your mirror. That way you can’t miss them. When you get out of the shower put on comfortable clothes and a button down shirt. You don’t want to have to worry about messing up your hair or clothes while you are getting ready. While you are making yourself feel relaxed and beautiful, have one of your bridesmaids lay out your hosiery, undergarments, slip, petticoat, garter and gloves on your bed. Have your mom get out and hang up your dress and make sure that everything is wrinkle and stain free.

10:00a: Use this time to get a manicure, pedicure, clean your engagement ring, and get your hair and make-up done. While you are busy primping yourself whether it be at your house or at the beauty salon down the street, it is a time that you should savor. This is also the time that your bridesmaids can be getting ready. Have someone put your emergency or survival kit, your honeymoon luggage, and everything that you might need for the ceremony or reception by the door so that you can’t possibly forget it.

12:00a: Grab a bite to eat for lunch. You don’t want to stuff yourself and make yourself feel sick, but you do want to make sure that you have something in your stomach to ensure that you don’t feel faint later on. Chat with your bridesmaids and see how everything is coming along. If you are getting nervous, put on an upbeat song or tell jokes. Also, from time to time take a deep breath to relieve some of the tension you may be feeling.

12:30p: Start getting ready. Use the ladies room one last time. Now you are really beautiful, your nails, hair and makeup are all done. Have someone help you in getting dressed so you don’t smudge your makeup or mess up your hair. Don’t forget something old, new, borrowed, and blue.

* You may want to have the photographer take pictures of you getting ready, but only do so if you feel completely comfortable.

1:00p: The flowers and photographer should have arrived, if not already. Now it is time to start letting others take over. Listen to the photographer and smile big! You know that everything is ready. When you are done taking pictures, this may be the time that you want to give your bridesmaids their gifts or just tell everyone how much you love them. Thank everyone for all of their hard work.

2:00p: Depending on how far the ceremony is from where you are getting ready, allow yourself enough time to get to the church a half hour before the ceremony begins. This way, if there is a lot of traffic or an accident you have given yourself enough time to still make it to the aisle on time.

2:30p: You and your wedding party should being hanging out in a room either in your church or if you are having an outdoor wedding, somewhere inside. This is the chance for last minute touch ups of makeup and your hair. You may want to have some snacks for your wedding party. Just relax, laugh, and have fun. There is no reason to be up tight or worried now. Everything is planned. All you can do now is enjoy yourself.

You and your wedding party should assemble yourselves in front of the aisle. Try to take in everything. The ceremony has begun. Watch as your best friends walk down the aisle. Then it is your turn, all eyes are on you. Take a deep breath, garb your dad’s arm, smile and look straight ahead to where the man of your dreams is waiting for you.

The rest is as they say, “history.” You will spend the night dancing, laughing, and spending time with friends and family. Enjoy that fact that this is the only time that you will be able to spend with all of your family and friends at the same time. You should enjoy talking to everyone and expressing to them how much that they mean to you. You are now a married woman and therefore there is now something about you that shines. You are a beautiful married woman who has just experienced the best day of her life.


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Flower Girl and Ringbearer Gift Ideas

Ballet Slippers
Ballet slippers for her to wear during the wedding. As well as a small lace bag with a pearl necklace and bracelet enclosed. ~ Mandy, Goodlettsville, TN

Child’s Purse

Costume Jewelry
Peal Necklace, Bracelet, etc.

Doll
There is a Precious Moments flower girl, it’s so cute because the little girl is holding her flowers upside-down. ~Veronica, St.Louis, MO

Wedding Day Barbie

Dress
My aunt is making the flower girls’ dresses. For their gifts, she is making each of them a doll dress that matches their flower girls’ dress. ~ Rebecca, Tennessee

Flower Girl Necklace
A charming Keepsake!

Gift Certificate from Toy Store

Jewelry Box

Keepsake Books

Music Box

T-Shirts
I bought t-shirts from a local craft store, one to fit each of my 3 flower girls and 2 ring bearers, and then bought transfer paper for ink jet printers. I then printed a picture of my fiancé and I, along with “Flower Girl” or “Ring Bearer” and the date of the wedding, and ironed them on the shirts! ~ Jennifer, Atlanta, Georgia

Ring Bearer Gift Ideas

Keepsake Books

Stuffed Animal or Teddy Bear

Disney Video

Games
Video, Computer or Hand Held Video

Gift Certificate from Toy Store

Mickey Mouse Watch

T-Shirts
I bought t-shirts from a local craft store, one to fit each of my 3 flower girls and 2 ring bearers, and then bought transfer paper for ink jet printers. I then printed a picture of my fiancé and I, along with “Flower Girl” or “Ring Bearer” and the date of the wedding, and ironed them on the shirts! ~ Jennifer, Atlanta, Georgia


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Groomsmen Gift Ideas

* Barbecue Tools with an apron and an oven mitt.
* Binoculars. Great gift for guys to use at sporting events, concerts, etc…
* Beer Mugs (Glass or Pewter)
* Business Card Holder (Engraved)
* Cigars
* Cigar Holder
* Calculator (Engraved)
* Cooler…. We’re giving our groomsmen soft-sided, collapsible coolers filled with a 6-pack of a local microbrew, a couple of cigars and some snacks. ~ Amy, St. Petersburg, FL
* Cuff Links
* Desk Clock
* Desk Set
* Engraved Lighter
* Engraved Pocket Watch
* Flask
* Fishing Gear/Accessories
* Golf Club
* Golf Balls/Golf Accessories
* Hunting/Hiking/Camping Gear
* Key Ring (Engraved)
* Leather Shave Kit
* Lottery Tickets
* Micro-Brewed Beer – We are giving each of our groomsmen a bottle of our own home brew. Each bottle will have a personal computerized label thanking each groomsman for sharing in our special day. ~ Amanda, Yakima, WA
* Money Clip
* Monogrammed Terry Cloth Robes
* Monogrammed Travel Bag
* Pen and Pencil Set (Engraved)
* Personalized Stationary
* Razor Set
* Sun glasses
* Silk Boxers & Socks – We gave each of our groomsmen a pair of silk boxers and a pair of socks with a note that stated, “Just wanted to make sure everyone had a pair of clean socks and drawers for the wedding.” ~ Danielle, Moscow, Idaho
* Swiss Army Knife/Pocket Knife
* Tickets to a Concert or Sporting Event
* Travel Kit
* Wallet


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Female Attendant Gift Ideas

Book
At my sister’s wedding, being an English teacher, she gave each of her attendants a book which she had picked out special for each person. Inside the front cover she had written a personal note highlighting memories shared. It was a very thoughtful, and relatively inexpensive, gift. ~ Kristina

Bridesmaid Lunch
I am taking all of my bridesmaids out to lunch where they will receive a necklace. After lunch we will be going to Estee’ Lauder for a “Master Class”. Each girl will have an individual makeover in which SHE will learn to apply her own makeup. The Master Class is free with purchase of a product, which of course I will be supplying a gift certificate for each girl to spend. ~ Patti, Illinois

I stood in a wedding in which, at the bridesmaid’s luncheon, the bride had a cake with charms in it. The charm is attached to a ribbon which extends from the cake, and each bridesmaid pulls a ribbon and the charms have meanings (clover = good luck, wedding bells = next to get married, high chair = your life will be blessed with children). As a gift at the end of the luncheon, the bride gave us CHARM BRACELETS! I have been having so much fun building on my bracelet since! ~ Karen, Louisiana

Business Card Holders
Personalize it with their names or initials. Click Here.

Candle Holder/Candle Sticks
Canvas Tote Bag
I am buying a canvas tote bag for each of my bride’s maids. I am going to dye them to match their dresses & then I am going to put their name on it. Since we are all getting dresses at the ceremony site, it will be a nice way for them to keep all their belongings together. ~ Marci, New Orleans, LA

Charm Bracelet
Heart-shaped engraved charm with a sparkly rhinestone clasp.

Cook Books
I was in a friend’s wedding and she is known for her cookbook collection. For our gifts she gave us each a cookbook that meant something to each of us. I was working at a pizza place at the time, and got a pizza cookbook. Another one of the girls was a vegetarian, and got a vegan cookbook and the mustard lover got a mustard cookbook. ~ Lainie, Saratoga, CA

Cosmetic Bag

Clutch Purse (To Match Bridesmaid’s Dresses)

Cozy Blanket

Crystal Clock
I went to a local engraving store, and bought a crystal clock on the engraving part it stated the bridesmaid’s name, and a little inscription that reads “To Timeless Friendship”. Underneath my name was then inscribed. ~ Rachel, Gulfport, MS

Crystal Vases
I bought my bridesmaids nice crystal vases (each in a different style to reflect their personality). My reasoning was that I had been told by my florist to purchase some cheap glass vases for them to place their bouquets in after the ceremony, since they are carrying hand tied bouquets (thus no oasis). I figured why buy cheap ones – so I have bought them something that they will hopefully enjoy for years to come. ~ Stefanie, St. Louis, MI

Decorative Tea Light Candle Holder

Desk Clock

Foot Massager
I was recently a bridesmaid in which all of the bridesmaids received a foot spa/massager. This was a great gift after a long day on our feet! The unit could be filled with water, which would be heated, and it vibrated to give the ultimate foot massage. ~ Lisa, Toledo, OH

Framed Poem and Picture
Because I have been friends with all of my bridesmaids for a minimum of 10 years, I am writing a personal poem for each one. I will have a calligrapher make them attractive and place it in one side of the two pictured folding frames. The other side will house the picture of just the two of us from the wedding. ~ Lori, Alabama

Throughout the last 6 months I’ve taken snapshots of each of my bridesmaids. I wrote a cute, original poem about experiences I’ve had with each of them. Then I put the picture and poem in cute little picture frames. I’m planning to put them on the table at each girls’ seat at the bridesmaid luncheon. ~ Kristin, Texas

I have known my 3 attendants forever. I am going to buy silver multi-picture frames and engrave something personal on each. For pictures, I will include pictures from kindergarten, high school, college and weddings that are just of the attendant and myself. Each frame will be full of memories. ~ Kim, Sonoma, California

Friendship Ball
I purchased a Friendship ball for each of my bridesmaids and my mother for the wedding. This metal ornament-like ball has cut-out hearts and other shapes and hinges shut. Inside, it holds bath salts for now, but the legend behind the Friendship ball is that in Old English times friends, sisters, and mothers used to exchange the ball on special occasions, each time filled with something different – a lace handkerchief, chocolates, jewelry, etc.
For now, it can be used as a Christmas ornament or to hold potpourri. The best part is the tradition explains “it is not what is inside the ball, but the friendship and love it represents”. ~ Kim, Brighton, MI

Gift Baskets
(Soaps and Bath Oils, Gourmet Food, Wine, Coffee, Gardening Basket, etc.)

I’ve put together beautiful baskets containing loffas, massagers, scrubbers, those cool blue face masks you freeze, and bath oil balls, hand cream, body lotion, etc. with each girl’s favorite scent such as Vanilla, Raspberry, Pear, and Peach. For my maid of honor, I also purchased an elegant perfume spray bottle. ~ Janine, East Windsor, NJ

We made gift baskets that included a small (red and ivory) fabric covered photo album and disposable camera. The attendants will be able to take candid shots at the reception and later insert them in her keepsake photo album. Also included in the baskets will be the necklace, earrings and bracelet to be worn in the wedding along with a personal thank you note from me.
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Best Man Responsibilities

The groom selects his Best Man. It is typically his brother, father, a close relative or friend. In the case of a second marriage, he can even choose his son to be his Best Man.

The Best Man plays an important role. He is responsible for:

* Getting the groom to the church
* Holding onto the rings
* Giving the first toast to the bride and groom

Now, if you read the etiquette books, the best man has a long list of responsibilities, such as…

* Host the bachelor party for the groom
* Arrange for ushers to be fitted for tuxes
* Coordinate ushers’ activities on the wedding day
* Help the groom get dressed
* Stay with the groom up until the time of the ceremony and offer moral support
* Make sure the groom is packed “appropriately” for his honeymoon
* Make and/or confirm the couple’s honeymoon arrangements
* Drive the groom to the ceremony
* Hold on to the marriage license and wedding rings
* Pay the Officiant and other vendors
* Give the first toast to the bride and groom at the reception
* Oversee the timetable to make sure everything runs on time
* Drive the couple to their hotel or their destination after the reception

The best man’s responsibilities depend largely on who the best man is and how much responsibility and other tasks YOU would like him to perform.


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Tips for Selecting Your Bridesmaids

You’ve got one sister, he’s got two. Your college roommates were the only ones that pulled through all-night studying sessions with you. You get along so well with those two co-workers. Then, there is “the group” from high school. So, how can you possibly choose between them? While it’s great to have all those close friends, 20 bridesmaids isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Below are a few tips for selecting your bridal party.

Size

* Less is more. The more people you choose to be a part of your bridal party, the more opinions you will have to consider, the more difficult it is to schedule events and fittings, and the more expensive it is for you! The more bridesmaids you have means more gifts to buy, more bouquets to purchase, more people at the rehearsal dinner, more limos to rent…
you need to figure that you should have one groomsman for every 50 guests. Since the amount of groomsmen and bridesmaids are usually equal, you can use that as a guideline.

Making the Cut

* Choose family over friends. Friendships come and go, but your family will be a part of your life for a long time to come. In addition, friends will understand if they are not chosen because of family obligations.
* Decide how much work you expect from your bridesmaids. Choose people who you know will be happy to help you and can help you because they live locally.
* Consider financial needs. If you have potential bridesmaids that are struggling financially, do not put the extra burden on them that comes with being a bridesmaid. If you think they will be hurt if they aren’t asked and you really want them in your wedding, discuss the situation with them.
* You do not need to include people in your wedding party even if you were in theirs. Hopefully, they will understand how hard it is choose and not take offense.

There are many other ways to honor those who are close to you besides asking them to be placed in your wedding party. Friends can usher, sing, play an instrument or read during your ceremony.


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