Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tips for writing your own vows

With so many couples wanting to make their weddings unique and meaningful, the trend to write your own vows has become even more popular. Here are some tricks and tips to make the process a little bit easier.

Check first. Make sure your officiant knows you want to write your own vows. He or she will want to review them as well beforehand. Also, make sure your officiant has a copy of them during the ceremony. It’s a good back-up in case you lose your copy!

Plan ahead. Do not attempt to write your vows the night before. You want time to make sure they are exactly what you want to say. There are some great templates and idea generators online to help you get started.

Are you working together? Or do you want each of your vows to be a surprise? Make sure you have a trusted friend read both sets of vows if you’re planning a surprise. They’ll help make sure the vows are similar in tone and length.

Practice out loud. This is public speaking, after all. You’ll want to make sure you don’t stumble over any words and that you’ll feel comfortable saying them out loud.

It’s okay to read from notes. You’ll be excited and nervous enough. Trying to memorize a speech will just make it worse. It doesn’t make the words any less heartfelt to read them from an index card, so keep those cards handy in a bouquet, in a pocket, or with a trusted member of the wedding party.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Planning a Christmas engagement?

Are you planning to ask that special someone the big question this Christmas? Looking for a way to make it extraordinary? There are so many ways, from the simple to the elaborate, to pop the question this holiday season.

A very sparkly ornament on the tree: You can add a special ornament on the tree, or slip the ring in the toe of that stocking hung by the chimney with care. Either let your sweetheart find it, or guide them to find it. Then, it’s all up to you.

The last gift: After all the other gifts have been opened, “discover” a “forgotten” gift behind the tree. Hand it over with a surprised look on your face.

Gifts within gifts: Wrap the ring in a small box. Wrap that box in a slightly bigger box, and so on. Once your beloved gets to the smallest box, you get to ask that big question!

Get help: Have a friend dress up as Santa, who can deliver the ring in a special box, or plan ahead with a Santa at a store or special event. This one takes a lot more planning, especially if you need to get a costume!

No matter how you decide to pop the question, a holiday proposal will remain a fond memory for you both through the years.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Planning a winter or Christmas wedding?

Here in New England, Christmas and wintertime can be beautiful settings for a wedding. But there are some pros and cons to planning a wedding as the days get colder.

Decorating is easy. Most venues will be decorated for the holidays anyway, with things like lights and wreaths. Instead of spending a fortune on fresh flowers, you can work with your florist and save money using greenery and pine cones for things like centerpieces.

You might get stuck with a green-and-red theme. Sure, the venue is decorated, but the overwhelming color scheme is green and red. You certainly can pick other winter-friendly themes in your décor that will coordinate nicely. Use silver, gold or blue as your accent color, and it will give an overall winter look.

It’s a festive time of year. Every couple getting married wants the world to be as happy as they are. Holiday-centered weddings take those warm-and-fuzzy feelings and add them to your wedding happiness.

Weather can be unpredictable. Around here, that could mean, snow, ice, wind, rain, or all of the above! But every couple deals with unpredictability, whether it’s a heat wave in June or a snowstorm in January. Make your plans, then make your backup plans. Then, make your backup-backup plans.

It can be hard for families to travel. If you’re having relatives and friends come into town from all over, it may be more difficult for them to drop their holiday traditions to go to your wedding. If you’ve got your heart set on a holiday wedding, you may have to accept that there will be people who simply can’t make it. Know that it’s not a reflection of how they feel about you, it’s just a very busy season for some people.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A marriage for the ages

Reading the news this week, I saw this story about a Connecticut couple who’s been married for 81 years. Eighty-one! 

Ann and John Betar’s love story is sweet – but their wedding story is fit for Hollywood! Escaping an arranged marriage, running off with the boy across the street, disapproving relatives.  But somehow, they not only survived it all, but they succeeded!

With a family of loving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the Betars have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We all look to them and their longevity as a goal to achieve.

So, while you agonize over wedding details, keep your eye on the future. Maybe someday the two of you will be the next listed as the longest married couple!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to deal with other special days, like birthdays, on your wedding day

There are so many details in picking out the right date for your wedding: how much time do you need to plan, what dates are available, when can you get time off from work? So, sometimes, when you pick the perfect day, it matches up with someone else’s important day, like a birthday or anniversary. What do you do?

The best thing to do is acknowledge it. For a loved one’s birthday, you can have a lot of fun with a special cupcake with a candle. Work with your DJ or band ahead of time and have everyone sing “Happy Birthday.” If it’s a child’s birthday, perhaps they get a small gift at their place setting. If you find out that day that it’s someone’s birthday, take a moment to mention it to the DJ or band, they can make a quick announcement. It will make your guest feel special that you’ve taken time to celebrate them, as well.

If it’s another couple’s anniversary, perhaps you can have the DJ or band play their first-dance song. If it’s a song you hate, or it’s just not danceable, it can be played during the dinner hour. If you have many couples, have a spotlight dance for them. Again, the simplest way is to have the DJ make an announcement.

Even taking just five minutes out of your big day will mean a lot to your guests!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is Fido or Fluffy going to be part of your wedding day? How to deal with pets in weddings

For many couples, their dog, cat or fine feathered friend is the first thing they have shared. Not having their beloved pet as part of their wedding day would just seem wrong. But including your pet adds a few layers of planning!

From Martha Stewart Weddings

Know your pet: If your dog is extremely well-behaved among strangers and always responds well to directions, then having Fido be your ring bearer might just work. But if Spot rarely listens, always jumps on the mailman and has been known to, well, mark his territory; he might not be the best choice to walk you down the aisle.

Know your venue: Will your wedding venue even allow Fluffy to be in the building? Check with your ceremony location far ahead of time. Many churches won’t allow animals to be part of a ceremony; neither will most indoor wedding venues.

Know your guests: Make sure your guests know that Polly will be part of the ceremony. Some guests may be allergic, others may have phobias. Check with all your vendors and your officiant as well.

Have a wrangler: You and your spouse-to-be will be too busy to look after your pet’s every need. Either have a trusted family member look after Lucky, or hire a dog sitter. You’ll need to be sure someone’s watching him the whole time, as well as making sure your pet doesn’t get into food, flowers or decorations that might make him sick.

Practice, practice, practice: Make sure that your pet is part of the rehearsal, and if you expect her to wear a cute hat, shirt or bow tie, then let her wear it often around the house. If Fluffy keeps getting free of her costume, you might need to re-think your plan.

My pet’s not allowed. What can I do? For many reasons, your pet may not be able to be part of the ceremony itself, but you still want him as part of your day. Have your pet sitter bring him to your wedding photo location for a few pictures. Nothing makes you go “awww” quite so much as a sweet picture with you and your pet. Again, make sure your photographer and the location know that your pet is coming. Even if you spend only a few minutes with Rex or Whiskers, the pictures will last a lifetime.

No, really, our pet won’t behave for any of that. What can we do? Maybe you know that Bandit won’t behave for any amount of treats, or you have an unusual pet that just won’t work around many people. So, have your pet be the theme for your wedding. Have pictures of Rover on the invitations, or silhouettes of Sparky on your table numbers. Keep a picture at the gift table or wear a picture in a locket. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Which is better: band or DJ?

It’s the age-old question -- what entertainment do you want at your reception: a live band or a DJ spinning the tunes? As with most decisions for your wedding day, it depends on how you want your reception to feel and how much money you want to spend.

Are you having a theme to your reception? If you plan on having a Jazz Age wedding, or want to swing dance the night away, a live band will give you that “feel” much more than a DJ can. On the other hand, if you want to dance to house music all night, a DJ will spin those tunes better than any band could recreate.

Variety is the spice of life: A band’s repertoire could be limited, depending on the number of songs they already know, while a DJ isn’t even limited to the records he can carry in a milk crate anymore.  On the other hand, a band can tailor the songs to a particular group – self-editing any strong language from a song or taking the tempo down for a slower dance.

Size matters: The bigger the band, the more it will cost, generally. Plus, you will have to feed more people in a band than the DJ and maybe his assistant. A band will also take up more room in your reception venue. Make sure your space can handle the seven-piece band and the Photobooth.

Personality is key: No matter which you choose, make sure you sit down with your entertainment and go over exactly how you want the reception to go. Make sure they have your “must play” songs as well as your “absolutely not ever” songs. Get to know the bandleader or the DJ and be sure that you’ll enjoy their style as they lead your family and friends through your reception. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What’s hot from New York!

New York International Bridal Week wrapped up earlier this month, and while some of the featured designers went a little crazy, others kept with a more traditional look and feel. Expect many of these trends to make their way to a bridal salon near you!

What’s old is new again, again: Still on point for fall 2014 is the vintage look, whether it involves feathers, floral details or gold accents. For brides wanting to be trendy without being too edgy, this is the way to go.

Show off those shoes: Shorter dresses were everywhere, from mini to tea length.
Dresses in Caroline Herrera’s collection were some of the styles designed to show off your dancing feet. While tea length and shorter dresses still signify a more casual wedding, many brides prefer this option.

Think pink: From bold peony at Vera Wang

to a subdued blush from Monique Lhuillier, pink was the color to be seen in. While most traditional brides still prefer white, be prepared to see many pink accent options.

Great Kate: The influence of the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, is still being felt with lace accents, especially on shoulders and three-quarter length sleeves. Lace also found its way onto many jackets and cover-ups for fall.
From Monique Lhuillier's Fall 2014 collection
With fall weather being so unpredictable, the option of a cover-up or longer sleeves is a great option.

What do you think of what the designers presented? Could you wear a bright pink wedding dress? Tell us what you look for in a dress!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Did you Fall in love with an autumn wedding?

Did you Fall in love with an autumn wedding? Fall is a beautiful time for a wedding. Here in New England, the changing of the leaves makes for spectacular backdrops that simply can’t be beat. But fall weddings have their own challenges and joys. Unpredictable weather: Fall means 80 degrees and sunny one day, rainy and biting cold the next. Prepare for the unexpected. Give the wedding party layered options for suits and dresses. Groomsmen may want a vest and jacket combination, so that they still look put-together, even if they take the jackets off on an unseasonably warm day. Bridesmaids, on the other hand, may want the option of a wrap for an unexpectedly chilly evening. Changeable weather also means you need to have a backup for any outdoor wedding plans. Make sure your venue can accommodate your ceremony inside, if necessary. Great picture opportunities: Autumn is full of color and movement, so help your photographer capture it. Maybe have your wedding party toss leaves at the two of you for an “action” shot. Or simply pick a location that shows off all of fall’s splendor. Warm color palettes: Fall lends itself to warm colors; your wedding can, too. Reds, purples, chocolates and oranges look great this time of year. Everything from the wedding party’s clothes to the centerpieces can reflect those warm tones. Easy themes: If you don’t want to go full Halloween – everyone in costume –simply use pumpkins of all sizes as decorations. Little ones in bouquets and place cards, larger ones to decorate your reception. Fall also is a great backdrop for a rustic or country-themed wedding. Great food: Fall itself has great food choices. Warm or cold apple cider, pumpkin pie, and other comfort foods just feel like fall. Embrace your seasonal choices while making your menu.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The long walk

The wedding party processional order usually follows very strict traditions, with family and wedding party members walking down the aisle in a very specific order, followed by the bride being given away by her father.

For many couples, those traditions can be difficult to follow. Those with complicated family situations, non-traditional couples, or brides or grooms who simply don’t like the thought of being “given away” may wonder exactly how to handle the procession. The good news is that you can change these traditional rules and make them work for your personal situation.

A stand-in: If you still want the feel of having an escort to walk with you down the aisle, choose another family member or friend to escort you. I’ve seen brides be escorted by brothers, uncles, mothers, sisters, or even Jon Bon Jovi.

There’s no wrong answer for a special person to take that walk with you.

Walk yourself: You don’t absolutely have to have someone escort you down the aisle. If you want to enter by yourself, go for it! I’d recommend that you wear shoes you can walk easily in -- you don’t want to stumble down the aisle. Or, if you enter towards the front of the ceremony location, you can simply meet in front of your officiant and avoid a long walk altogether.

Enter as a couple: A favorite of same-sex couples as well as brides and grooms who want to show they’re entering into a marriage as equals -- you certainly can walk each other down the aisle.

As long as you work with your wedding planner and your officiant during the rehearsal so that everyone knows what to expect, you can make the procession yours!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Do I have to have a theme for my wedding?

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon had a Disney theme, Katy Perry and Russell Brand went to India and Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz had an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding. Sure, celebrities can spare no expense when it comes to wedding themes, but everyday couples pick themes all the time for the wedding. But do you have to? Of course not!

If you’re having a fall or winter wedding, the season itself makes for a spectacular theme. Pumpkins, leaves and warm colors all say “fall,” while venues that are already decorated for winter holidays mean you can spend you budget on more important things, like the open bar!

You can find little ways to express your personality, without going into a full-blown wedding theme. Maybe your table numbers feature your favorite Beatles albums or your wedding cake is decorated with butterflies; you don’t have to have every single element of your wedding covered with them. That also makes it easier for both of you to have different elements that reflect who you are.

You also can just pick a color scheme. While things don’t have to be matchy-matchy like at your parents’ wedding, using a color family throughout brings all the pieces together without being a uniform theme.

If you do want a theme, don’t get too caught up in your guests’ taking part in it. If you want to have a Game of Thrones wedding, it may be too much to expect your guests to all dress in medieval-style clothing. Even every guest at a Halloween wedding may not want to dress up. Some people may get into the fun of it, others may not, but they all want to help you celebrate.

No matter what you choose, don’t let your theme overwhelm the most important part: the two of you and your commitment to each other!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The dreaded wedding toast

Most of the time, this blog is aimed at the couples getting married. This time, we’re putting the focus a little off center: to the people making the wedding toasts. Nothing says “YouTube viral hit” like an awful, embarrassing wedding toast, but that’s probably not the gift you want to give to the two people getting married. So, how do you survive the wedding toast, be memorable and not offend anyone in the audience?

Don’t overdo the liquid courage. Sure, if public speaking terrifies you, you might need a little something before you stand up in front of a crowd. But if you give the toast completely intoxicated, you will embarrass yourself as well as everyone else. Wait till after the speeches to belly up to the bar.

Write it down. Unless you’re a fantastic off-the-cuff speaker, plan out what you’re going to say ahead of time. It’s okay to read from a card, but try not to read it word-for-word. Look up at the happy couple as you mention their names, or out towards the guests if you’re talking about family or friends in attendance. It will look and feel more natural.

Practice. Stand in front of a mirror and say the speech out loud. Sure, you think you’ll sound silly, but it will help you make sure there are no tricky words or tongue twisters you didn’t plan on. Practice in front of someone else, too. Let them give you feedback.

Keep it:
  • Brief: no more than five minutes
  • Positive: make sure it’s appropriate for ages 2-102
  • Simple:  unless you’re an actor, comedian or singer, keeping to the standard speech format is your best bet. Leave the line dancing, rapping and over-the-top theatrics to the professionals.

Be yourself. Are you naturally funny? Then tell the funny stories and make the jokes –keep ‘em clean! But if you’re not, don’t force yourself into a role you’re not comfortable with. It’s okay to give a short and sweet toast if that’s how you feel.

The bottom line is you want your toast to be memorable… for the right reasons. With a little planning ahead, it will be.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Basic rules still apply for invitation etiquette

Wedding invitations have become less formal over the years, and while that’s a good thing for many couples, there are still some basic rules to follow. (By the way, if you are planning formal invitations, you can’t go wrong by checking the Emily Post website. It’s got it all!)
Use a template: Many wedding planning websites have templates you can follow to word your invitations. Whether you’re hosting the wedding as a couple, or family members are hosting, the templates will give you a great starting point.
Plan ahead: Gather everything you need long before you sit down to put your invitations together. Check with both families to get proper names, addresses and titles (how were you to know that Uncle Bob was actually Dr. Robert Smith if no one told you?)
Get help: No matter how informal your wedding may be, it’s still considered improper to use labels for wedding invitations. Have an envelope-stuffing party! Invite members of the wedding party, open a bottle of wine (but be careful not to spill on the invites!) and work together to get it done. Pick the people with the best handwriting – or anyone who took a calligraphy class! – to get the invitations addressed.
Be clear: Be specific on the invitation as to whom you’re inviting. If you know the name of the guest, use it on the invitation. Not everyone you invite needs to have a plus-one.
Watch your deadlines: Save-the-dates are great to get the word out to people ahead of time. They can be sent out six to eight months before your wedding date. The invitations themselves should go out about six to eight weeks before your wedding, earlier if it’s a destination wedding. This will give your guests time to plan any travel arrangements, if necessary.
No registry details: It’s also considered improper to list any information about a gift registry – or worse, that cash gifts are preferred! It’s best to leave off any information about gifts at all from the invitation. If you are registered, let family or members of the wedding party get the word out. You can also put that information on a wedding website, if you have one. Just leave it off the printed invitations.
No matter which direction you go – formal or casual – your invitations are your guests’ first glimpse as to what to expect from your big day. Have fun with them, but make sure you’re telling your guests everything they need to know.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When disaster strikes

When planning any event, there is always the potential for things to go wrong. When it’s your wedding day, even the smallest issue can seem like a disaster. But, with a little bit of planning and flexibility, you can avoid some of the bigger pitfalls.

What if it rains, snows, or it’s the hottest day on record? You’ve planned a gorgeous outdoor spot, but the weather’s not cooperating. Most venues, like the Heritage, have plenty of options for back-ups for an outdoor ceremony. If your location doesn’t, make sure you have an emergency plan to rent a tent or have plenty of umbrellas or fans to keep you – and your guests – comfortable.

What if my florist/DJ/wedding cake doesn’t show up? Confirm, confirm, confirm. Check your dates with each of your wedding vendors. Double-check your dates with each of your wedding vendors. But, sometimes, things happen. Accidents on the highway or bad weather can prevent your DJ or florist from arriving on time. Let’s be honest: all you need to get married is the two of you and a legally-authorized officiant. You can send your maid of honor, best man or Great-Aunt Lucy to get a sheet cake or flowers. Your best friend’s iPod will do for dance music in a pinch. They might not be exactly what you had in mind, but you’ll be just as married with the replacement versions. And you’ll have a great story to tell the grandkids.

But seriously, what if my officiant doesn’t show up? That’s something to discuss with him or her long before the ceremony. Does he have a group he works with so that someone can pinch-hit if he’s sick? Does she have a second-in-command if she gets stuck on Interstate 84? These are important things to know long before the big day hits. Point of fact: friends or family ordained online are not legally able to perform marriages in the state of Connecticut, so make sure your officiant has a back-up plan!

What if the weather’s really, really, REALLY bad? You can’t control Mother Nature, as they say. Hurricanes, October snowstorms, January ice storms, the only thing predictable about the weather is that it’s unpredictable. That’s where you just have to be flexible, and go with the flow. If the weather forecasters are talking about the Nor’easter headed your way the week of your wedding, start making contingency plans. Maybe you’ll have to scale down your wedding. Maybe you’ll have to postpone it. You can always have the official ceremony the same day, but plan the big party for after the foot of snow has been cleared.

If you’ve thought ahead, you can survive nearly every wedding dilemma. Just keep a sense of humor and stay calm, and your wedding disaster will become a wedding story for the ages.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You know she’s the one – now, what about that ring?

So, you’ve found the girl of your dreams… the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. You know the next step: the ring. You want a rock that she’s going to show off to all her co-workers, family and friends. You want to catch her watching her ring as it reflects the sunlight. But how?

Get educated: Unless you already know a lot about jewelry, walking into the store cold will only leave you frustrated and overwhelmed. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing research; go online and find out what all those terms mean. Pave, brilliant, cushion… there’s a lot to know.

Know your budget: The old “two months’ salary” saying is not necessarily accurate. Take a look at your finances, and budget accordingly. Will you be paying for the wedding as well? For the honeymoon? Buying a house? Don’t put yourself in a bad financial place for the rest of your wedding and married life!

Is it a surprise? Now, the hard part. Are you planning on surprising her with the ring? You’ll need to know what she wants. Has she been dropping hints? (Probably.) Look at the jewelry she wears now. Does she wear small, understated pieces or fashionable, eye-catching ones? Is there a family heirloom she’s expecting to use? Ask for help from a trusted family member like her mom or sister, or her best friend (if she can keep the secret) to get things like ring size.

Her ring, her choice: Of course, if you know your bride-to-be is extremely choosy when it comes to her personal style, perhaps surprising her with the ring isn’t the best move. If she’s told you, flat out, that she wants to pick out her ring, then by all means listen! There’s nothing wrong with making sure you’ve got the right ring.

Of course, once you get the ring and the “yes!,” that’s when the real planning begins!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weddings for (almost) any budget

Have you seen the story about the couple in Scotland who planned their wedding on a $1.56 budget? With help from family and friends, and a lot of recycling and planning, they were able to have the wedding they wanted, at the price they wanted.

While that may be a little extreme, there are many ways to cut costs and keep your wedding fabulous.

Ask: Work with your vendors on how to lower costs. Your florist can suggest in-season, local flowers that won’t break the bank. Your venue can help you pick a day and time that will be cheaper –and easier to book-- than the first Saturday in June. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

Do it yourself: Yes, we said to be careful with DIY projects, but there are many that will save you money in the long run. Use small picture frames for place cards, and they become your favors. Have a professional photographer for the ceremony and formal pictures, but then let your guests take pictures at the reception.

Keep decorations to a minimum: Yes, you want your wedding to be beautiful, but your guests won’t remember – or maybe even notice – that you used table runners that match the ribbon in the bridesmaids’ bouquets. And you can use those bridesmaids’ bouquets as decorations on the head table. If you’re getting married in a holiday season, your venue may already be decorated for the holiday, making your decorations redundant.

The bottom line is: pick the things that are important to you and focus on that. Everything else is unnecessary.

What are your tips for saving money on your wedding? Share them with us in the comments!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What to think about when choosing your attendants

Choosing your attendants is as daunting a task as picking your dress, and might be just as important. These are the people that will be standing next to you, maybe even in matching chartreuse dresses! But whom do you choose? How many people do you ask? Well, like all things wedding planning, it’s up to the couple!
How many attendants to choose: Well, having more attendants means having more everything. More people to coordinate, more people to voice their opinions, but also more people to help with planning. Instead of adding another bridesmaid, perhaps your cousin who was in show choir would like to sing. Or your buddy with the booming made-for-radio voice can do a reading. It’s up to the two of you to decide.
You don’t have to have an equal number: Just like all bridesmaids dresses don’t have to be exactly the same, you don’t have to match your dear friend with your fiancé’s second cousin just to keep numbers even. If your attendants are walking down the aisle, it doesn’t have to be in pairs; you can match up one bridesmaid to two groomsmen or vice versa.
You don’t have to split boys-vs.-girls: If the bride would rather have her brother on her side, while the groom wants his sister standing next to him, that’s fine. And for same-sex couples, splitting on gender lines makes even less sense. Choose the people you want to be with you and it will mean more to you in the long run.
Choose people that mean something to you, but also match your wedding-day needs: A laid-back groom may not want a wild bachelor party. His hard-partying friend might not be the best choice as best man, then.  A bride who wants exactly-matching bridesmaids with exactly-matching hair and dresses might not want to choose her punk-rock, pink-haired youngest sister.

No matter whom you choose, or how many, these are the people who will be standing up with the two of you on your most important day together. Pick the people you’ll want to cherish in the long run.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taking care of your out-of-town guests

When you have a lot of out-of-town guests – or you’re planning a destination wedding – leaving your guests a welcome bag shows your appreciation to those guests who traveled to your big day.

Welcome bags can range from the small to elaborate. Simple gift bags can be purchased at any gift or card store in your wedding colors or you can go all out and make personalized baskets. What’s important is what goes in your welcome bag. We recommend:
  • Duplicate set of directions and times for all your wedding weekend events. Yes, you put them in the invitations and on your wedding website, but one more set can’t hurt.
  • Suggestions of things to do and places to go. Remind them of the amenities at your location. Here at the Heritage, guests have access to both pools (weather permitting), mountain bikes, walking trails, racquetball and more. Give them tips on local shopping areas (who hasn’t forgotten to pack something crucial on a trip?), museums and activities for the family.
  • Candy, snacks and water are a nice touch for guests who traveled a long distance to get to your wedding. That way, they don’t have to go off searching for a snack as soon as they arrive.
  •  If your guests are traveling with children, a coloring book and crayons or any other age-appropriate toy is a nice touch.
  • Any other comfort items you can think of. Sunblock for a summer wedding or handwarmers for a winter wedding; a first aid kit with things like Tylenol, Chapstick, Band-Aids and other necessities.
A welcome bag sets the tone for your wedding weekend. Have fun with it, and your guests will appreciate the time and effort you put into their comfort!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Changing your name… or not?

Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines recently did a poll of their readers, asking men and women what they thought about a woman not changing her last name after marriage. No big surprise, a majority of men said they would be upset if their wife did not change her name, while women’s responses were more mixed.
Some women saw changing their last name as a symbol of unity in a marriage, while others saw it as a symbol of a long-gone tradition of the wife as “property.”
Changing your last name can be a difficult choice, particularly if you’ve used your maiden name professionally. Most businesses have a firstname-lastname policy for emails and you’ve made many contacts with your maiden name. Some women choose to continue to use their maiden name professionally, while using their married name in their personal life. Others choose to hyphenate, allowing both names equal time. 
If you do choose to change your last name, you’ll need to do so officially with the Social Security Administration, the DMV and on your passport. Some great tips can be found on the state’s 211 information pagethe DMV’s website and the State Department’s website.
If you’re traveling by airplane or on a cruise for your honeymoon, you should book all your travel using the name listed on your driver’s license and passport, even if you plan on changing your name. Unless you’re postponing the honeymoon until much later, there won’t be time to get your official paperwork changed.
What do you plan to do? Tell us in the comments: Will you change your name? Keep your maiden name? Hyphenate? Have your husband take your last name? 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Is there too much DIY in your wedding?

Pinterest. Wedding websites. Your best friend. Everyone seems to be on the do-it-yourself bandwagon. It’s a great way for couples to save money and give their wedding a personal touch. But with everything you have to do, does it make sense to add more stress to your wedding planning?

Know your strengths: Are you usually a crafty person? Is your home filled with beautiful, homemade projects that you’ve enjoyed creating? Then go for it! But if the last work of art you created was the handprint Thanksgiving turkey in second grade, you may want to reconsider the 250 elaborate lace-and-glitter-paint Mason jar lantern project.

Check your costs: Sure, DIY sounds like it will save money, but make sure your materials don’t cost more than the finished project would at a party or specialty store. And your time is worth something, too. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a little extra for a lot fewer headaches.

Be prepared for less than perfection: Part of the joy of DIY is that each piece is handcrafted. That means imperfections in the process, and your rustic tree branch candleholders may not exactly match the ones you saw on Pinterest. But isn’t that the point? You made it yourself, and it should reflect you!

Here at the Heritage, we are happy to work with you whichever way your party favors, centerpieces or place cards come to us: from you, your florist, or your great-aunt. Our wedding professionals will help you make your wedding spectacular, every step of the way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fall brides are in their countdown!

It may be the middle of summer, but all you brides planning a fall wedding are getting close to your big day! Make sure you’ve got all those last minute details settled.

Get that checklist out: All those lists you made when you first got engaged? Make sure you’ve actually checked the things on them. Perhaps you’re a bride who stayed up-to-date with your wedding planner, or maybe the rest of your life got busy. Now’s the time to review the list and make sure something hasn’t slipped through the cracks.

Check in with your vendors: Have you given your wedding venue everything they need? When do they need the really-final-this-time-I-mean-it head count? Have you confirmed all your times and dates with your photographer, DJ, band, officiant?

Marriage license: You need this. Check in with the Town Clerk in the town you’re getting married. You need ID and to pay a fee. For brides getting married at the Heritage, you’ll need to go to the Southbury Town Clerk’s office:

All those last minute details: Clear out all the clutter, and make just your last minute-lists. Things like engraving for bridesmaids’ or groomsmen’s gifts, making sure all your honeymoon plans are set, making an emergency kit for the big day (we recommend Tide-to-go sticks, needle and thread, bobby pins, tampons, hairspray, umbrella and breath mints) -- all those small details. A fresh list will help you focus on the last things you need to do.

Relax and take time for yourselves: Yes, it’s important that everything gets done, but it’s also important for you to reconnect as a couple. Set aside an afternoon for a massage, go out to a nice dinner – and promise not to do any wedding planning talk! If you find you’re getting too bogged down in the nitty-gritty of wedding planning, take the time to remember why you’re getting married in the first place!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stay smart when losing weight for your wedding

Nearly every bride-to-be puts the same stresses on herself as she starts to plan: not only does she want the perfect wedding, but she also wants to lose weight for the big day.

But weight loss is challenging at the best of times, so be careful you’re not setting yourself up for failure when you set your weight loss goals.

See your doctor: Like they say on TV, make sure you’re safe before starting any diet or exercise program. 

Make realistic goals: You’re not going to go from a size 22 to a 2 in three months. And there’s no reason to try. Crash diets simply don’t work, and can cause more harm in the long run. Instead, focus on the good things your changes in diet are doing for your overall health.

Small changes add up: Instead of cutting out everything, make small changes leading up to your wedding day. Switch soda for water, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk every night after dinner. The little things will begin to add up, making it easier to add the next set of changes.

Give yourself many smaller goals: Instead of a blanket “I want to lose 50 pounds by my wedding,” make a series of smaller, attainable goals. Lose 10 pounds by the engagement photo shoot. Or be able to walk or run two miles by the bridal shower.

Join a health club: If you’ve shelled out the money, you’ll be more likely to actually follow-through. The Heritage Health Club has membership options to fit your budget, from yearly plans to month-by-month payments. We also have fun classes like yoga and total body workout. Once you start going to a health club, it becomes part of your routine. When you come back from the honeymoon, keep your membership active and it will become a lifestyle!

Have a weight-loss buddy: Maybe your fiancé wants to get fit, too. Or your maid of honor would like to show off her toned arms in a strapless bridesmaid dress. Don’t go it alone! A buddy will help you when you don’t want to stick to your plan and will help you focus on your goals.

But don’t let a weight-loss plan overwhelm you: Remember, he proposed to you, not some idealized version of yourself you have in your head. You will look beautiful on your wedding day because you are marrying your best friend, not because you met some weight-loss goals. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Social media and your wedding

We’re in an era of instant communications and total sharing. We Instagram our lunches, Tweet our whereabouts and Facebook our every thought. While social media can be a great tool for brides- and grooms-to-be, there are some common pitfalls.

Making THE Announcement
He popped the question. You said yes. Like everything else in your life, you want to share it immediately with everyone. You even created a Vine of the ring sparkling on your hand.
Yes, you should absolutely share your happiness with your friends. But there are people who deserve to be told first. Give mom or dad a call and tell them. If either of you have children, they should hear about it before your high school lab partner. 
Then share the video on Vine, link it to your Facebook, and watch the “Likes” pour in.

24-hour Wedding Planning News
Wedding planning can consume you. You’re planning the most important event of your life, and the details matter. To you. Sure, friends will enjoy following the trials and tribulations of picking a reception venue, but they may not care about the exact shade of blue you’re worrying about for your ribbon borders. As with all things wedding planning, make sure you still have time for you. Instagram your cat doing silly things, just like you always do. It’ll help your sanity and keep your friends from ignoring your posts altogether.

Dress shopping, Evites, Whining: No, no, no!
Do NOT post the pictures of your favorite dresses on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, or anywhere else. You want to take his breath away when he sees you for the first time, not when he’s on his iPhone. You, in your dress, is a secret worth keeping.

Emailed, Facebook or any other electronic invitations are a big no-no. This is your big day. Do you really want your invitations sitting in an email in-box next to coupons from Macy’s and spam from that Nigerian “prince?” Sure, you can keep bridesmaids up-to-date on other events like dress fittings that way, but for the wedding invitation? Keep it old school: paper and postage can be a part of almost every budget.

Keep your social media venting to a minimum. Sure, you’re stressed. Sure, all you want is for the photographer to call you back. But do you really want a record of that for posterity? Probably not. Vent to your bridesmaids or groomsmen on the phone or over lunch. Everyone will feel better that way.

Wedding websites
Many couples choose to create a special website for their guests to visit leading up to the wedding. This is helpful for destination weddings or for anyone traveling from out of town. Wedding planning websites like or offer free sites for you to use. You can let your guests know about hotel room blocks, rehearsal dinner plans, parking plans, wedding registries, anything that doesn’t fit comfortably on the invitations.

Social media and the ceremony itself
Many couples are making conscious decisions regarding how they want social media handled during their ceremony and reception. Some couples are embracing it, creating Instagram hashtags for their wedding and asking their friends and family to share all their photos. Others are asking for “unplugged” ceremonies, where family and friends are asked to turn off their cell phones and leave their cameras in their bags to fully enjoy the moment. What you decide is ultimately up to you, but making your wishes clear at the ceremony with either a sign or notice in the wedding program or an announcement from the officiant will let your guests know what is expected of them.

Social media is a great tool, but don’t let it overwhelm your wedding.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

When the second (or third!) time’s the charm

Planning a second (or third, or beyond) wedding has its own challenges that are different than those of a first-time bride or groom. You’ve already had one wedding, and you worry about how to handle things a second time.

The good news is, like with first-timers, many of the old “rules” are out, and there are no wrong answers! Weddings have become a much more personal expression for the couple getting married.

Should I have a big blowout, or a small, intimate affair? Well, it depends. If you had the big wedding the first time, perhaps you want a more personal event this time. Or, conversely, if you got married on a shoestring budget the first time, perhaps you’re more financially stable and can throw a big party now. Either way, a venue like the Heritage has plenty of choices for all levels of event – as formal or informal as you want.

What should I wear? Even first-time brides are moving away from all white, but if that’s what you want to wear, then go for it. Grooms have it a little easier, and should just dress to match the formality of the wedding itself.

Do I have a shower? Do I register for gifts? Perhaps you’re starting over again and really do need to stock a new house. Or maybe you’re condensing two fully-stocked households and don’t need another set of dishcloths. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a wedding registry, then spread it through word of mouth that there isn’t one. And if you don’t like the whole idea of a formal shower, then work with your wedding party to plan a backyard barbecue, night at the casino or no party at all.

Do I get my kids involved? Yes, at the level that they’re comfortable with. You want them to feel included in the new life you’re starting, but you also don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them. Some couples have their kids in the wedding party, if the kids are old enough. Other couples have their kids be part of the ceremony in other meaningful ways. The popular sand unity ceremony becomes even more meaningful when the couple and each of the kids have their own color sand to add to the vase.  Or each of the kids can have a single flower that they present to the couple, making a new bouquet. Be creative, and make it about your new family.

All in all, a second wedding or beyond should be just as important to you, because it’s the first time you are marrying each other. Make it about the two of you, and it will be perfect.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Keeping your littlest guests entertained

Having children present at your wedding is a personal decision. Some couples love having their youngest family members help them celebrate their special day, while others prefer to keep the event adult-only. 

But if you do invite kids, make sure you keep them in mind as you plan.

Have a kid-friendly program made up. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but for kids younger than 10, coloring pages and a small pack of crayons will keep them busy during the “sitting still and waiting around” times.

Little ones probably won’t be interested in fancy meals. Here at the Heritage, we offer kids’ meals at a reduced rate. Make sure your invitations include the children’s meals – and the ages they are designed for. 

Talk to your DJ or band ahead of time. Kids love to get up and dance, so make sure they’ve got some kid-friendly music at the beginning of the night to jam to!

If you know you’ll have a lot of children at the reception, set aside a kids’ fun table. Have a portable DVD player with some popular kids’ movies playing, coloring books, or even kid-friendly crafts set up.

Setting up room blocks for your guests means moms and dads can stay a little longer and just put the kids to bed upstairs without having to pack them up for a drive home.

Whatever you do, a little planning ahead of time can help your littlest guests enjoy their time with you!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A special day... for both of you!

It’s the day you've dreamed about since you were a little girl. You already knew what kind of cake you wanted to serve, the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses and the type of wedding dress you wanted to wear. And now you've found the perfect groom. But what does he want from what’s a pretty big day for him, too?

Sure, guys are rarely as invested in the tiny details of the wedding. The differences between aqua, teal and sea foam blue are lost on most of them. But that doesn't mean they don’t have input on what you’re planning. And while you may be focused on the details that are important to you, there’s a whole set of things that are important to him.

Music: Make sure you both sit with the band or DJ to pick out your favorite reception tunes. That song from 1998 that you love? May just have some not-so-favorable memories for him. And his favorite jam might just be that song you never want to hear again. Better to eliminate those songs before you hit the dance floor.

Food: Have him make sure he knows of any special allergy or food requests from his side of the family. You won’t know that his great-aunt Gertrude can’t eat salmon, but he might.

Wedding weekend events: A full-service resort like the Heritage can offer you and your bridesmaids the best in pampering in our day spa. But he deserves stress-relievers, too. Plan a whiskey tasting at our pub, Shadrach's, or let the guys go blow of some steam at our golf course. It’s a great chance for the men from both sides of the family to get to know each other better, and he won’t begrudge your mani-pedi time.

It’s an important day for both of you, so make sure he gets to feel special, too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Engagement Season is Here!

Director of Catering at the Heritage Hotel
January 24, 2013

Topic: Engagement Season!

Dear Brides-to-Be,

Welcome to the world of weddings! I would like to congratulate you on your recent engagement and help breakdown the most important steps to alleviate the overwhelming feeling you may currently have.  Planning a wedding is no simple task, but if you are organized and diligent you can avoid going into bridezilla mode(which your bridal party will appreciate.)  Here are a few steps to get you started and examples of 2013 trends.
These steps will lead you to Bridal Bliss:
1.)    Get yourself a wedding planning book that can hold all of your contracts/information from vendors.
2.)    Brainstorm with your groom and families on an estimated guest list attendance, this will help determine the size of the venue that is needed.  By doing this you will hopefully avoid any undesired surprises before the big day.
3.)    Start researching venues, depending on the length of your engagement you will want to book this first and set your wedding date.  Some of the most popular sites may require a specific time frame to book your wedding.
·         2013 Trends: Reception Lounges, Going “Green” weddings & extended receptions-“After-Parties”.  The Heritage Hotel is an eco-friendly property with a go-green committee to help incorporate any go-green initiatives you would like into your wedding.
4.)    The next step is definitely the one you dreamt about when you were a little girl…the search for the perfect wedding gown begins…with many options from lace to taffeta. 
·         Leave enough time to order your gown, and take into consideration the Chinese New year, when most people take weeks off from work starting February 10, 2013.  This can affect the shipment date of your gown.
·         2013 Trends: Wedding gowns with pockets & lace

Here is a list of online tools and sites that will help guide you through the planning process:

-The Knot- Provides free  planning tools, my wedding website, my budget, my seating, my guests, my inspiration board, my checklist/to-do list, my binder, my vendors, and More

- Provides online tools and showcases vendors and venues.  You will be able to research the places/people with the top reviews. Create a wedding website to share with your guests, research honeymoon destinations, create your registry, and shop for your bridal party.

Attire: Prints, and Patterns, DIY attire and lace. Visit our PINTEREST account for photos and inspiration!
Reception: Extended reception and reception lounges- The Heritage Hotel can coordinate a post-wedding brunch for your guests and private after party rooms.  We also have 5 suites available for the bride and groom or bridal party.
Wedding Style: Go Green Wedding, the Heritage Hotel uses the herbs from our garden on property when cooking.  Let us know what initiative you are looking for and we will do our best to incorporate it!
Vendors: Food Trucks, for themed weddings are always a fun upgrade.
Décor: Floral, bright colors and large bouquets.  Our catering team will provide you with the best local vendors to help get you started.  You can browse through our bridal books to help get inspiration for the theme of your wedding.
HAPPY PLANNING! Next month’s topic: New England Themed Weddings