25 Cool Gifts for the Bridesmaids

Giving gifts to members of the wedding and other special guests is a time-honored way of showing thanks and sharing joy. It’s customary to present a token of appreciation to bridesmaids, ushers, flower girls, ringer bearers, readers and parents, as well as anyone else who helps make your wedding day special.

Here is a list of our 25 favorite bridesmaid gifts that reflect their personality and interest. They’re sure to be a long lasting memory of your wedding.

Aromatherapy candles that fit in with each of their lifestyles (tranquility, energizing, de-stressing).

Beautiful hair jewelry, like a butterfly barrette or rhinestone bobby pins.

A small box of decadent chocolates.

Perfume and a dainty atomizer.

All the fixings for a luxurious bubble bath.

A day of horseback riding (or kayaking or roller-skating, etc.).

Gorgeous candlesticks and candles that fit their décor.

Cooking, art or ceramics classes. (Fun for the creative types, and relaxing for those who are highly stressed).

A pair of margarita glasses, a good bottle of tequila and limes, – of course!

For a business traveler, a tiny blow-dryer and mini sizes of all her favorite toiletries.

A deluxe set of designer makeup brushes for the beauty aficionado.

A fine linen handkerchief (for all those happy tears she’ll shed at your wedding).

A gourmet gift basket – include a tiny cookbook and all the ingredients to make a few delicious dishes!

Decoupage a shoebox with memorabilia: old photos, ticket stubs from movies you saw together, and snippets from letters. Fill it with sweets or some scented beauty and bath items.

Concert tickets for a favorite band.

Manicures and pedicures all around! (Great to give before the wedding.)

A precious evening bag – and not necessarily one for the wedding.

Gourmet coffees or teas in a fun, jumbo-sized cup and saucer.

A beautiful hand blown vase or artful objects, is perfect for her creative side.

Lingerie (they’ll never expect it).

For a movie nut, a small collection of her favorite videos, some microwave popcorn and a video guidebook. (Don’t forget the Junior Mints!)

A lovely photo frame (or two) – and a promise for a wedding photograph of the two of you.

Classy stationary – splurge on a monogram if there’s time.


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15 Favor Ideas For Your Guests

These days, less traditional favors are being given to guests. Brides are being more creative and are letting their imaginations run wild. Favors can include personalized chocolates to potted plants!

1. One new and popular favor idea is to give each guest a bottle of bubble blowing mixture. The bottles can have a personalized label with your names and wedding date printed on them. Bubbles can then be blown by guests instead of throwing confetti or birdseed, which is often not allowed at many reception venues.

2. Candles are a romantic gift and can be tied with ribbon, or decorated with tulle. Candles make a useful favor for your guests and are quite inexpensive.

3. Potpourri is a nice thought and can be used by guests to scent their drawers or wardrobe. You could use different flowers in the potpourri, depending on the flowers you have used in your bouquet. Roses are the most popular choice, and the potpourri will give your reception venue a lovely perfume.

4. Potted plants are another inexpensive favor choice. Try to purchase small seedlings with flowers. The pot can then be decorated with tulle or ribbon for a festive appearance.

5. For a fun favor, you could buy some small terra cotta pots and decorate them with paint, ribbon or tulle. Then, buy packets of mixed flower seed and place one packet in each pot. Your guests will be able to plant their own favor and watch it grow!

6. Different sized and shaped baskets offer a wide variety of favor ideas. You could buy some small baskets, decorate them with ribbon, and fill them with lilies or potpourri.

7. Fans are a dainty gift and can be decorated with fresh or silk flowers, ribbons or satin rosettes.

8. Another new trend is to make chocolate “coffee spoons”. These are simply plastic spoons dipped in melted chocolate and decorated with a piece of ribbon. The spoons are then used by the guests to stir their coffee, whereby it melts. If you like, the chocolate could be flavored with mint, vanilla or rum essence.

9. Gold or silver bells are pretty and can be ceramic or made out of plastic. They can be spray painted to match your color theme, or tied with ribbon for decoration.

10. For a sentimental favor, you could write a poem expressing your feelings about your wedding day and thanking your guests for helping to make it so special. This could be made into a scroll, tied with ribbon and placed on each guest’s plate.

11. For a truly special favor, you could buy some small, antique looking silver frames. These can be used as place cards and will be a real treasure for your guests for years to come.

12. A small book of poetry would make a nice favor and your names and wedding date can be written on the inside front cover of the book by a calligrapher.

13. Personalized chocolates come in many different varieties and are always well received. They can be ordered from professional confectionery companies.

14. Another new trend is to have a “photo tree” which doubles as an ornament for your reception, as well as your favors. Appoint someone to take an instant photo of each guest, or couple, as they arrive at your reception. Then, when everyone has arrived, tie each photo to a tree placed in the corner of the room. At the end of the reception, have your host announce that each guest can find their photo on the “photo tree” and take it home to remember the day by.

15. Brainstorm, and try to think of some unusual favors that tie in with you and your fiancé’s interests and hobbies. If you both like to cook, your favor could be small jars of preserves. If you like to write, or are great readers, you could give pretty notebooks or small books. Your thoughts are sure to end in a favor that gives an extra personal touch that your guests will appreciate.


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12 Great Honeymoon Tips

Set a budget for your honeymoon just like you would for your wedding. Determine how much you want to spend on hotel, transportation (airfare, car, or taxi), meals, entertainment and shopping! When you set a budget and put it in writing, the chances that you will stay within your budget and not over spend are much better!

Your honeymoon is an important event, so talk to your travel agent and ask away! Be specific. Ask questions about the hotel or resort, the room, your flight. Don’t leave anything to chance.

If you can avoid it, don’t book your flight for early the next morning after the wedding, particularly if you’re planning an evening reception. Once you finally get to sleep, it may be hard to wake up at 5:00am for that early morning flight or worse you may not even hear the alarm!

Splurge a little, it’s your honeymoon! Do something special that you wouldn’t normally do on a regular vacation. Spend a little extra for a room upgrade, or the honeymoon suite! Plan a romantic dinner at a gourmet restaurant or go on a sunset cruise. Go on a few excursions or tours.

When packing for your honeymoon, think about packing some romantic items like candles, massage oil and some new lingerie.

Give yourself plenty of time to pack. Make a list of all the items that you’ll need. Anything that you forget, such as suntan lotion, aspirin, toothpaste will always cost more to purchase at your destination.

The new security procedures at airports require you to show a current picture identification. It is important to purchase your airline tickets with your maiden name in order to match your photo ID, license or passport.

If you are using disposable cameras at your wedding, buy a few extra and take them on your honeymoon! Disposable cameras are great for when you don’t want to risk losing or damaging your expensive 35mm camera.

When making reservations for your honeymoon, let your hotel, resort or cruise line know that you are “newlyweds”. You’ll likely receive lots of special treatment like free champagne, breakfast in bed, a “goodie basket” or even the honeymoon suite!

Travel insurance can be a good idea to cover in the case of a sickness or death in the family. Be sure that your contract also covers failure or a default by the tour operator.

If you are looking to save money on a vacation, in most cases an all-inclusive package will be the best value. It is one price that usually includes your airfare, hotel accommodations, food, drink (including alcoholic beverages) and some water sports (i.e. snorkeling, sailing).

How much should I tip?

Here are some guidelines for tipping on your honeymoon:

Doormen: $1 to call or hail a cab

Bellhops: $1 per bag

Valet parking: $1 to park car or retrieve your car

Taxi: 15% of the fare

Tour guides/bus driver: $1 – 2 per day

Powder room attendants: $0.25 – $0.50 cents

Coatroom attendant: $0.50 – $1.00 per coat

Waiter/bartender: 15% – 20% of the bill. Be aware that many countries will automatically add the 15% gratuity to your bill.


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10 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Photographer

1. Experience Level – Has this person photographed other weddings? Does he/she do this for a living or for fun? In this industry, photographers come and go daily. A brand new one may be pretty good, and everyone has to start somewhere, but do you want to trust your once in a lifetime event to a newcomer?
2. Photographic Style – Are the images that you are shown, what you would like to see? Can you picture yourself photographed the same way?
Is there a satisfactory mix in different styles? There are “buzz” words flying about everywhere about photojournalism, formal, classic contemporary, and so on. All colorful adjectives aside; do YOU like it?
3. Truth in Advertising – Is this the photographer that will be photographing your wedding or will they send in whom ever is available. Don’t be shocked, this happens more often than you can imagine. Be certain that you know which photographer is going to be there and see HIS/HER work and meet them.
4. Personality – Is the photographer that you meet someone that you can get along with? Is the “chemistry” there? People have walked away from hairstylists and tailors for less. This is a person that you are going to spend most of the day with; the most important day. Could you handle it? Does he or she seem service oriented?
5. Appearance – Ask the photographer how he/she intends to dress. The last thing that you want is a conflict at the wedding about the photographer wearing a sweatshirt and jeans with sneakers at your favorite country club. Is this person well groomed?
6. Price Range – Although, the last thing you want to do is shop by price, is this person within your budget? If not, is he or she worth the difference? A lot of times we tend to surpass our budget constraints to get what we really want. If you see and like it, you’ll find a way. In any case, make sure you understand what everything costs, including reorders.
7. Delivery – How long does it take to get your proofs back, your finished album, your bridal portrait, etc.? Go ahead and ask. Some photographers take months to deliver your proofs. Be sure of how long things take to turn around.
8. Offering – Whether it’s a la Carte or packages, do you understand what you get? Is there any room for changes and will it cost to do so? Sometimes the packages are fixed, sometimes they can be customized, in any case, ask. How much time will he spend? What if you need more time? Make sure that you know what’s coming.
9. Contract – Do you understand the contract. Is it fair? Is everything spelled out? When it comes down going to court, only what is WRITTEN really counts, not what was promised. Make sure that you have no doubts before signing. Read it ALL.
What about deposits and payments? What does it say about cancellations and the photographer not being there? If you are not sure, ask legal counsel to look it over. If the photographer protests, ask him why? This is one area NOT to take lightly. You could be disappointed for a long time.
10. References – A personal reference is always the best and people love to talk. Get a list of references from the photographer and check them out personally. A photographer who doesn’t have references or is afraid to give them to you may not be the person that you need to hire.

Check with the BBB and The Chamber of Commerce. Try the reception facilities and churches. They will be more than glad to tell you all about the people that have worked there. Find out if he or she is a member of any photographic organizations and what is required to join. The Professional Photographers of America is a well known, ethically bound organization, with chapters all over the country. Don’t be afraid to ask. Objection to questions of this kind is an indication of trouble ahead.


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20 Wedding Trends

1. Consider having a theme wedding! Theme weddings are rising in popularity and offer a great, inexpensive way to personalize your wedding. By starting with a theme, you will be surprised at how easy it is to personalize your wedding with your own special touches.

2. You don’t necessarily need to have a period theme, such as a Victorian or Renaissance wedding. Instead, you could make your wedding memorable by personalizing it with your own special theme. There are many themes to choose from, including: “cupids”, “Paris in springtime”, “romantic candlelight” etc.

3. Some brides are starting to use wedding newsletters to keep their family and friends up to date with their wedding plans and schedules. Newsletters can save you from making endless phone calls, and can be revised three or four times leading up to your wedding date. The newsletter can include such information as: when people are needed for fittings, profiles on yourself and the groom (for guests you may not have met) and other personal information.

4. The new trend in bridal gowns leans toward a more elegant and stylish approach. Many brides are now choosing gowns with simple, but stunning, lines.It seems the trend in bridesmaids dresses and accent colors is moving away from pastel colors. Deep shades, such as burgundy, forest green and navy blue are becoming more popular choices, with cummerbunds and bow ties being made to match.

5 Brides are buying more thoughtful gifts for their attendants. It is being recognized that the best gifts are not the most expensive ones, but the ones that are chosen with your sincere thanks. Some popular ideas include: antique looking, silver frames with a picture of both you and your bridesmaid/attendant, or gift baskets filled with beauty products. The gift needs to say “Thank you for being here and helping to make my day so special”.

6 Because wedding costs can be quite expensive, there is a rising trend in the sharing of the total expense, not only by both sets of parents, but by the couple themselves. This is especially the case with professional couples who have been living on their own for a number of years, who may even want to pay for the entire wedding.

7. Some couples are choosing to be married at their honeymoon destination, and are inviting only close family and friends. There are many destination wedding packages available, so ask your travel agent for details.

8. Many couples are personalizing their wedding ceremony by writing their own vows.

9. A wonderful, moving new trend is to face the congregation during the ceremony (as opposed to the traditional stance of having your back to them).

10. More couples are choosing to incorporate their ethnic background into their wedding ceremony and theme, as well as their reception.

11. Many brides are now moving away from formal, posed shots for their wedding photography. Instead, candid photography and a photojournalistic approach to the day are rising in popularity.

12. For the reception, buffets are becoming the most popular menu choice as they accommodate every guest’s taste.

13. Multi-flavored and layered wedding cakes are becoming firm favorites. Some brides like to choose a different flavor for each layer of their cake. For example, a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of marble cake and a layer of vanilla cake. Also, more creative decorative ideas are being used, especially fresh flowers.

14. Cake tops are being ordered to match specific wedding themes and color schemes. Brides are also copying the cake tops used by their parents and grandparents at their weddings. If you like, you could follow the trend of placing wedding photos of your parents and grandparents on your cake table, which gives a sentimental and romantic touch.

15. Less traditional gifts for the guests are being given. New ideas include: personalized chocolates, seedlings, monogrammed wine glasses and small perfume bottles tied with ribbon.

16. Another new reception trend is the replacement of the receiving line. A new, more relaxed way to perform this duty is for the bride, groom and the wedding party to make their way around the room, speaking to guests who are seated at their tables.

17. If you have decided to invite children to your reception, this new trend is for you! By providing a designated play room and a babysitter for children, you will get the best of both worlds. By providing this service, the children are still present, but can be kept entertained and cared for by the babysitter in the play room, leaving their parents to relax and enjoy the festivities.

18. With the wide variety of materials now available, many brides are finding it hard to match their reception decorations, flowers and napkins to the exact shade of their bridesmaid’s dresses. Because of this, a new trend in shading has arisen. By using varying shades of the color you have chosen, you will be able to add depth and interest to your color scheme. For example, if your bridesmaid’s dresses are burgundy in color, you could use a deep red and a light red to achieve a contrasting look.

19. One thoughtful new trend is to donate leftover reception food to charities who provide food kitchens for the needy.

20. More couples are choosing to hyphenate their surnames and some brides are choosing to keep their maiden names, for business or personal reasons. However, it’s not only career women who are deciding to keep their maiden name. If you come from a well-known family, or are an only child, you may feel strongly about keeping your maiden name also.


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10 Tips for “Working Brides”

How to plan a wedding and work a full time job:

1. Make a plan for your lunch hour the night before or even better – plan them out a week in advance. Schedule in phone calls to vendors, errands, short shopping trips, work on your “to-do lists”, reply/send emails to vendors, wedding attendants or family members.
2. Bring your lunch to work. This will save you at least 20 minutes from standing in line to buy your lunch. And, an extra benefit – it will save you money too!
3. Delegate as much as you can! You’ve got TWO full-time jobs now, so enlist the help of everyone you can.
4. Keep the “wedding planning updates” with co-workers to a minimum. You don’t want your manager to think you’re spending more time talking about the wedding and less time working.
5. Save up those vacation days. You’ll need them for your honeymoon and a few days before the wedding.
6. If you need a vendor to call you back at work, ask them to return your call at a designated time, like between 1:00-2:00pm. This will help you better separate work and wedding planning.
7. Use email as much as possible. This greatly reduces phone tag AND reduces the chance that your caterer will call you about menu choices when your boss is in your office.
8. When work gets busy and wedding planning kicks into high gear, your biggest defense is to stay organized. Find a system that works for you (index cards, notebooks, software program, etc) and STICK WITH IT!
9. If you begin to fall behind in your work load, try coming into work an hour earlier (before most people arrive). Many times you can accomplish more in one hour of “quiet time” than you can all day.

A demanding job and full scale wedding – two things than can easily lead to MEGA STRESS! You need to find something that relaxes you and reduces your stress level. Exercise is usually the best weapon against stress. Plan your lunch hour to go to the gym or take a brisk walk.

If you say you don’t have time to exercise or do something to take care of yourself, then you definitely NEED to make the time. There have been many brides that think they can “do it all” and by the time the wedding comes, they have run themselves so ragged that they are sick on their wedding day. Don’t let that happen to you!


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12 Great Catering Tips

1. As far as wedding expenses go, your catering or food bill is typically your largest expense (45-50% of most wedding budgets). Therefore, choose your caterer carefully. Spend plenty of time with your caterer talking about your budget, the style of reception you’d like (i.e. buffet, food stations, sit down dinner or cocktail reception) and the types of food that you’d like to serve.
2. If you are unfamiliar with the caterer, always schedule a “tasting” to sample their culinary skills and take note that the food is attractively presented too.
3. Check References! Many brides ask for references but never call them. Make at least TWO reference phone calls. Don’t by shy, remember — brides love to talk about their wedding!
4. When hiring your caterer, be sure to ask about the dinnerware or china they will be using. Some caterers will include all the dinnerware in their price – but they may be chipped, scratched and worn out. So, ask to see samples to make sure that the place settings nicely compliment the rest of your wedding decor.
5. Service is an extremely important element when choosing your caterer. Be sure to ask about the ratio of servers to guests. Now, this can vary depending on the type of reception you have (seated dinner versus buffet). One good rule of thumb is to have one server for every 8-10 guests.
6. When determining a final head count for your caterer, you should include a meal for your entertainer (DJ or Band), photographer and Wedding Day Coordinator. But, always confirm with these vendors that they do want a meal before you include them in your head count. And, make sure to separate these from your guest head count because your caterer will usually charge you less for “vendor” meals.
7. If your caterer is providing meals for your DJ, Band or photographer, be sure to ask your caterer where the meals will be served for them and confirm that they will be eating somewhere “out of sight” from your wedding guests.
8. Ask your caterer to prepare a “leftover basket” that is a sampling of all the food at your reception. It’s likely that the bride and groom will not get a chance to eat and enjoy all of the wonderful food at the reception. Even if you’re leaving the next day on your honeymoon, it makes for a great late night snack.
9. Be sure to ask your caterer about “guaranteed numbers”. Many caterers will quote prices based upon a minimum or “guaranteed” number of guests. Many base their figures on a minimum of 100 guests. If your final guest count is less than a hundred, there may be an additional fee.
10. Find out what decorations (if any) are included in the caterer’s price. Ask to see pictures of their table displays. Some caterers that do buffets or food stations will include floral arrangements and other decorations. As your wedding plans progress, talk to your caterer about your color theme so that all decorations and floral arrangements will coordinate.
11. A recent trend when doing buffets or food stations is to have a menu board. This is where the names of the entrees (and sometimes a brief description) and items served are scrolled elegantly onto a piece of paper displayed on a board or in a picture frame.
12. Be careful on how many hors d’oeuvres you order. Do you really need eight different varieties? You’d be surprised – some caterers will suggest this! If you are doing hors d’oeuvres – four different varieties is usually sufficient. For more money-saving catering tips, check out the Frugal Wedding.


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Do’s & Don’ts for the Night Before Your Wedding

Don’t drink a lot of alcohol at the rehearsal dinner. Limit yourself to a glass of wine or champagne for toasting at dinner. Instead, drink plenty of water – it will make you feel and look good for your wedding day.

Do eat a good dinner. Don’t just nibble – you’ll need plenty of energy for the day ahead. Stay away from spicy foods or rich, heavy desserts. They may give you indigestion and stop you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Don’t go out after the rehearsal dinner. There will be lots of friends, relatives and out-of-town guests that will want to see you – but resist the temptation and go home directly after the rehearsal dinner.

After the rehearsal dinner, do spend time with people that are close to you… your parents, your bridesmaids or your fiancé. Try not to be around people that can be annoying or cause you any stress.

In addition, do spend some quiet time alone to meditate or visualize your wedding day. Try taking an aromatherapy bath with fragrant candles and soft music and just relax! Use this time to really visualize your wedding day. Picture it clearly (with details) in your mind – everything flowing perfectly!

Don’t over do it! The night before the wedding is not the time to be putting together your favors or to begin packing for the honeymoon. Make sure you plan accordingly and have everything done before the rehearsal dinner – if not, ask for help!!

Do go to sleep early. This may be difficult with all of the excitement. Allow yourself some time to wind down after the rehearsal dinner and before you climb under the covers. Do something you enjoy that relaxes you, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music. The bath may help you get drowsy!


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Top 10 Table Centerpiece Ideas

Small Potted Plants:

Check out your local nursery to find attractive potted plants or flowers to match your wedding colors and decor. You can find potted plants for as little as $5.00 a piece.

If you’ve got the time and the space, you can buy the seeds and grow your own plants. Place the plants in attractive ceramic or terra-cotta pots. Tie with ribbon or tulle for an attractive table centerpiece.

Bridesmaids Bouquets:

Use the bridesmaids’ bouquets as the centerpiece for your tables. It gets the bouquets out of the way and they are so beautiful to look at!

Hottest Hollywood Trend! Add sparkle to your bridesmaid bouquets with bouquet jewelry. Great for the bride’s bouquet, bridesmaid’s bouquets and add to your floral centerpiece.

Candles:

Candles make a very inexpensive table centerpiece and can add romance and elegance to any reception — and can double as a wedding favor. Try arranging several candles of varying heights. White candles are elegant and coordinate with any wedding decor, or use candles that match your wedding colors.

Hurricane Lamp:

For a single candle use a hurricane lamp. They can be rented very inexpensively from your florist or other supply store.

Here are a few tips to decorate your hurricane lamps:

Add greenery around the base

Along with your greenery, add in some silk or fresh flowers to add color.

For a little more sparkle, spread some gold confetti on the table around the candle.

Helium Balloons:

Balloons make a festive centerpiece for a more informal wedding. Talk to your florist, or better yet, a company that specializes in balloon decorations.

Fresh Cut Flowers:

Buy fresh cut flowers from a flower wholesaler or market. You don’t have to be an expert floral designer either; for instance, six fresh cut tulips or white roses look beautiful when simply placed in a small vase. This is a very simple, elegant and inexpensive way to have a floral centerpiece.

Favors that Double as Centerpieces:

You could also use your favors as your centerpiece. It is referred to as a “break away” centerpiece. Just arrange them nicely in the center of the table. Round, flat mirrors can be used as a base to place the favors on. The favors can be boxes of candy, votive candles, tiny potted plants, miniature bells, dried flowers, etc.

Food Centerpieces:

Decorate wicker baskets with ribbon and/or material and put homemade bread or muffins inside. You can also use a cheese board with cheese and crackers and garnish with fresh fruit or olives and peppers.

Floating Candles:

Take miniature candles and float them in a large bowl filled with water. You can also add a few flower or rose petals in the water.

Candles and Mirrors:

Place a clear candle holder with a candle (matching your color scheme) on top of a small round mirror. Decorate with ivy and flowers.


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Seasons of Love – Ideas for Every Season

In what season are you getting married? Below is a year of ideas to help you in your planning:
Winter
Holidays: Christmas & New Year’s Eve
Popular Colors: Blue, maroon, dark, rich colors

Centerpiece Ideas:

* Large snow globes
* Pinecone or evergreen wreath with pillar candle inside
* Ice sculptures
* Decorated Christmas tree

Favor Ideas:

* Miniature snow globes
* Christmas ornaments
* Evergreen-scented candles
* Stuffed Christmas stocking

Spring
Holidays: Easter & Memorial Day
Popular Colors: Yellows, pinks & pastels

Centerpiece Ideas:

* Tulips in watering cans
* Small birdhouses
* Small potted plants
* Decorated Easter or May Day baskets

Favor ideas:

* Small watering cans with a votive candles inside
* Personalized seed packets
* Flower bulbs
* Chocolate Easter bunnies

Summer
Holidays: Fourth of July
Popular Colors: Sea green, peach, vibrant colors

Centerpiece Ideas:

* Fish bowls with fish
* Sandcastles atop a bed of sand and shells
* Vases with flag

Favor ideas:

* Victorian fans
* Sun-catchers
* Seashell candles or soaps
* Personalized sunglasses

Fall
Holidays: Halloween & Thanksgiving
Popular Colors: Rust, gold and earthy tones

Centerpiece Ideas:

* Potted mums
* Jack-o-lanterns
* Bundles of wheat held together by a bow
* Miniature scarecrows

Favor ideas:

* Pressed leaf bookmarks
* Gourds or miniature pumpkins
* Trick-or-treat bags filled with candy


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