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We have compiled the best information, tools and resources to aid you in planning your wedding. Do you have ideas you'd like to share with brides? Email us your helpful hints and tips to!



“I Do”: Minister & Officiants Helpful Hints

Don’t forget the marriage license: Don’t forget to bring the marriage license packet to the wedding! Assign this task to a trusted friend or family member. A ceremony is not legal and complete without this; some ministers will even make you retrieve it from home while your guests wait.

Make your ceremony special: The celebrant can help to make your wedding ceremony meaningful for you and your groom. Ask about personalizing the ceremony by writing your own vows, selecting special songs, etc. They may be able to offer many suggestions that will enhance your ceremony.

Vows: Whether you use traditional vows or write your own, take the time to be sure that they reflect your relationship. Wording of traditional vows may vary within a religion or denomination; inquire about acceptable variations. Couples planning a civil ceremony may wish to consult with a church or synagogue when selecting their vows. If either of you has children, you may wish to include them in these sacred words. Be sure that your celebrant has a copy of whatever vows you choose.

Ring-bearer’s pillow: Don’t tie the rings onto the pillow with “granny-knots.” Practice tying them to the pillow so that they will stay on during the walk down the aisle, but will slip off easily during the ceremony.

Plan how to start the music: Prelude music adds a nice touch as the guests are being escorted into the church. To start the processional music, have someone signal the musicians at the appropriate time. Setting a specific time doesn’t always work, since guests may still be arriving, or delays may preclude starting the ceremony on time. One way to handle this is to have your clergyman signal the musicians to start the processional music after a nod from the father of the bride. Provide cue sheets for your clebrant and the musicians. One can unknowingly cut off the other.

Approve your music selections with clergy: Make sure your clergyman is aware of your music selections. Ask about any restrictions on music. Some ministers or priests insist on approving all the music prior to the ceremony. Your favorite love song may seem offensive to the clergyman; none concerned would enjoy a last-minute confrontation.

Check all the rules: Make sure you know all the rules and restrictions about the church, chapel, or synagogue. Some have strict rules about photographs or videotaping, candles, music, etc. Sit down with the clergyman and discuss your ceremony from start to finish; then any details can be worked out early without last-minute difficulties.

Coordinate rehearsal and set-up times: If you hire a minister or justice of the peace to perform your ceremony, make sure that you coordinate any rehearsal or set-up times. Provide typed information that includes directions to the ceremony site, names of the key members of the wedding party, parents’ names, and the time that the ceremony will begin. Ask that they arrive at least 30 minutes prior.


Valet Parking Services 101

Valet parking is sometimes a necessity when you are planning an event in a busy city or even an at–home wedding.  Valet parking attendants help assure that your guests will arrive at the reception on–time, rather than having to deal with busy city traffic with the lack of available parking spaces.

Valet attendants make your guests feel special: You’ve worked so hard to plan the perfect event. You want your guests to feel the ambiance from the moment they arrive, until the time they leave. A valet will greet your guests, direct them to the right location, and respectfully take care of their car.

Ask your facility for a recommendation: If you have chosen a facility with little or no parking in the near vicinity, ask your facility for a reference. The valet service you choose should be familiar with your location to avoid hiccups during your event.

Do a site visit: If your valet service is not familiar with your location, be sure to hold a site visit so your valet manager can explain their route, available parking locations, and estimate of costs.  Your valet manger should be able to provide you with a detailed plan before your event.

Ask about your valets’ uniform: Be sure your valet service is dressed in the proper attire. You want your valet attendants to have a uniform look that sets them apart from others at your event.

Ask for references: Your valet company should be able to provide you with a list of references from both brides and venues.

Tipping: Your guests should still tip your valet drivers. The proper tip is anywhere from $3 to $5.



The Belle of the Ball: Full-Service Bridal Salons

Selecting your bridal gown: Take time to try on the various styles available. Most importantly, pick the dress in which you feel most comfortable. People may try to influence your preference one way or another. Remember, you're the one wearing it and your fiance is the one for whom you're wearing it!

Bridesmaid dresses: Several factors become crucial when selecting bridesmaid dresses. Colors and fabrics vary with the seasons. Their style should complement the bridal gown and have the appropriate formality for the time of day. Choose a dress color and style that will flatter all the bridesmaids, and remember that the main focus may be on the backs of the dresses during the ceremony.

Reserving alteration services: As soon as you select your gown, make an appointment to reserve services for alterations. Many bridal alteration specialists are booked months in advance. Your bridal shop will have someone on staff, or can refer you to a reliable seamstress with whom they have worked. Include this service in your budget; it's never included in the price of the gown.

Guideline for dress lengths: The bridesmaids' dresses should never be longer than the bride's gown. Your mothers' dresses should never be longer than the bridesmaids' dresses.

Looking good all day long: As you choose fabrics for your dress, consider how long you will be wearing it. Some wrinkling is inevitable, but certain fabrics wrinkle more easily. Here are a few suggestions for keeping it smooth: Eliminate travel by dressing at the ceremony site. Bring a stool to rest on at the ceremony site. If you have a long train, make sure there is an aisle runner. A detachable train and/or veil will enable you to travel about comfortably at the reception.

Picking up your dress: Consider leaving your dress at the bridal shop or designer's studio, even if it's ready far in advance of the wedding day. The bridal shop may be better equipped to store the dress and keep it fresh and pressed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following recommendations are for your protection: (1) Be careful where you buy your wedding dress; ask your friends and family about their experiences; (2) make sure the delivery date of your dress is well in advance of your wedding; (3) obtain a copy of the order or receipt with a guarantee of delivery date to keep with your wedding records; and (4) if a contract is used, read it carefully (even the fine print) before signing! If you have any questions or concerns about the company, consult with appropriate organizations.


Capturing Your Moments With Photography

Why are photographs important? After the cake's been eaten, the tuxes returned, the flowers wilted, and you've shaken the last grains of sand off from the honeymoon, what's left of the wedding? Those treasured glimpses captured in photographs can in a moment rekindle the joy for both of you

Selecting a photographer: Find a photographer with whose style you feel comfortable. Look closely at his or her sample albums, and don't be afraid to ask for references. A contract reserves the date and should confirm that the estimate given will be the total cost, excluding extra prints or specialty photographs ordered. Within this section you will find many photographers; compare the information listed, and make sure they meet your needs. The prices vary from one photographer to another; make sure you understand what the "package price" includes and what the extras are.

Consulting with your photographer: When you finally select your photographer, sit down together so you can communicate what you imagine your pictures to be. Be specific about formal and candid photographs. Be sure you let the photographer know what you expect. Ask if she or he can provide a checklist for you to fill out.

Digital vs. Film: Digital cameras have come a long way in a short period of time. Some of the new cameras are turning out incredible photos! However, as you meet with different photographers you will find that many offer the option of digital or 35-mm film and medium-format film or a mix of both. Sit down with your photographer and determine where their comfort zone is (film or digital) and what will work best for your particular needs.

Assigning a photographer's helper: You should submit a list of photographic requests to both the photographer and the helper so that your helper can guide the right people to the photographer.

Formal portraits before the ceremony? Today, more brides and grooms are deciding to have formal portraits taken before the ceremony to maximize time with their guests. If you do choose to have formals done before the ceremony, make sure to have everyone dressed and ready for pictures at the designated time.

Black and white photos: Traditional formal wedding photography can have a new and exciting look, such as the photojournalist style, a more candid documentation of the day. Black and whites are timeless and classic, and handpainting will make the photos an original piece of artwork you will be proud to display.

Store your wedding photos on CD: Ask your photographer if he can help you store your photos on CD for safekeeping.

Storing your photos: Store your wedding photos in a safe place; it is recommended that you keep them in the box provided with the wedding album. If you ordered the photos without an album, make sure you put them in an album soon after receiving them. Be sure you use "acid free" paper to mount your photos on. This will help ensure they last a lifetime. Always keep them someplace dry.

Engagement photo guest book: Instead of a guest book, consider using your engagement photo with a large matte area around it. Family and friends can sign around your photo with well wishes. This provides a wonderful keepsake to frame and display on your wall. Rarely do you pull out your guest book and think about everyone who was there to celebrate your wedding day with you.

10 Crucial Questions to ask your Photographer:

  1. How many weddings have you photographed and do you have references?
  2. What is your wedding day schedule?
  3. Do you have your own lighting equipment?
  4. What special techniques can you provide?
  5. Do you shoot digital or film?
  6. What are my album choices?
  7. Do you have an assistant?
  8. Do you take a break?
  9. What do you wear?
  10. In case of emergency, do you have a backup photographer?


Wedding Traditions From Around The World

In Japan purple is the color of love and a young bride may choose to wear an elaborately-embroidered silk kimono covered in purple flowers. In a Buddhist ceremony during which two strings of beads are interwoven, great emphasis is placed on the joining of two families into one.

In Korea it is traditional for a fortune-teller, known as a kung-hap, to look into the couple’s future before they are married. The question at stake is whether the couple will live together in harmony. Harmony is key, especially when engagement gifts alone for a traditional Korean wedding can cost upwards of $40,000.

A bride and groom from India, or any Hindu culture, are not permitted to see each other for several days before saying their nuptials. Once the wedding takes place, several items are used during the ceremony to symbolize wealth, happiness and fertility including milk, leaves, rice and oats.

After a close friend or family member makes a toast at the reception, everyone in the room throws their champagne glass on the floor. It is considered good luck if the glasses break when they hit the floor.

Swedish weddings include many customs and traditions. For instance, it is customary for the guests to be intermixed during the dinner portion of the reception. Each man receives the name of a woman in attendance. It is his duty to find her among the crown and escort her to dinner. The only couples that remain seated together are the ones that are engaged-to-be-married and the bride and groom. Swedish weddings also include toasts given by many of the guests, not just the best man and maid/matron-of -honor. A toastmaster is assigned prior to the event and anyone wishing to make a toast must arrange it with the toastmaster. Toasts may consist of poems, songs, funny anecdotes or blessings.

On the day of the Greek wedding ceremony, the groom asks the bride's father for his daughter's hand in marriage. The groom's best man then accompanies the couple to the church, to be married. The best man, along with the priest, is in charge of the ceremony. He places gold crowns or wreathes made of orange blossoms on the heads of the bride and groom. These crowns or wreathes are linked by a silk ribbon. For the rest of their wedding day the newlyweds are honored as king and queen. At the reception, dishes are smashed on the floor for good luck and money is thrown at the musicians.

During the marriage vows, a white ribbon or rosary, called a "lasso", is symbolically wrapped around the necks of the couple, which represents their joining. As the newlyweds leave the church, red beads may be tossed at them, to bring good luck. At the wedding reception, all the guests will join hands and form a heart shape around the newly married couple as they have their first dance.

The traditional bridal trousseau, or hope chest, originated in France and came from the French word trousse, meaning bundle. After the wedding reception, and even later into the couple's wedding night, friends of the newlyweds might show up outside their bridal suite banging pots and pans, singing boisterous tunes. The groom is expected to invite them in for snacks.

Sunday marriages are believed to be the luckiest. It is considered bad luck for a bride to wear any gold, on the day she is married, until wedding rings are exchanged. Symbolic foods for fertility and for good luck are 'confetti -- candy covered almonds tied in mesh bags to toss at the couple; and twists of fried dough powdered with sugar called wanda (bow ties).

The bride and groom walk to the church together to exchange vows. As they walk by, onlookers throw items at them such as rice or even large items like pots and pans. The bride wears blue or white to symbolize purity and she often braids her hair as a symbol of feminine strength.

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