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!