Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday weddings sparkle, need some extra planning

There’s something about the holidays that make this time of year special for weddings. From Thanksgiving to New Years, this festive time of year is perfect for all celebrations. But planning a winter holiday wedding can add extra layers of planning for you.

I got married over a Thanksgiving weekend because my family that’s scattered along the northeast always comes home for Thanksgiving. That way, I knew people were already making the trip and wouldn’t have to change any plans. But the flip side of that can also be true. If your family has strong traditions for a particular holiday, it might be difficult to make them change them for your wedding day.

Champagne toast for New Year's, or to celebrate your wedding? Why not both?

New Year’s Eve weddings are always popular. It’s already a festive night, and the party atmosphere just adds to your happiness. Work with your venue, however, if you plan to keep the party going to midnight. We recommend starting the reception later, which means you’re not breaking the bank with extra time on your reception.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re making those plans early, and letting your family and friends know ahead of time, too. The holiday season can be very stressful, and adding wedding planning to it can get overwhelming. You also want to give your family and friends enough time to make any changes to their holiday traditions.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Heritage!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Helpful tips if you’re thinking of proposing this holiday season

While we love proposals any time of year, the holiday season seems to be a favorite for many couples to get engaged. You’ve found your perfect match, but how do you pop the question?

Make it meaningful. Proposals are unique to each couple. What is meaningful to the two of you may not be special to another couple. Think about places that are important to you. Perhaps the location of a first date or a favorite restaurant is the perfect spot. Or perhaps there’s a funny joke the two of you share. Meaningful will always be memorable.

Know your audience. Not every proposal has to be a flash mob that gets a million likes on YouTube. While those are fun, that might not be what your sweetheart is looking for. You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations of a proposal – just yours as a couple. Again, you’re looking for what’s important to the two of you!

Practice! No, you don’t want to be reciting a speech or reading off note cards, but it’s a good idea to have a plan for what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Are you planning a proposal? Tell us about it in the comments (preferably AFTER you pop the question, if it’s a surprise!).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

With which ring?

Much is made about choosing an engagement ring – but what about the wedding bands themselves? Like any other piece of jewelry, your wedding band can be traditional or modern. But, unlike a lot of jewelry, this one has a lot of significance, and even its own section of your ceremony!

There’s nothing wrong with a traditional wedding band. A single band of gold, matching your spouse’s, has long been the symbol of a marriage. You can have it engraved with your wedding date and initials, if you like.

More unique wedding bands are available, of course, from both traditional jewelers and from local artisans. Metals like tungsten and titanium have a sleek and modern look. Or, you can get unique with special engravings, like your individual fingerprints or other designs.

A great option for people who can’t wear metal bands (like electricians) are wood- and even antler-based bands. Crafted and polished, they have a great natural look.

While many times, a couple chooses to have matching bands, your bands don’t have to be identical. Many couples choose different bands to suit their own individual styles. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where do you want to sit? Sweetheart table vs. head table

Making seating charts is arguably one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. But what about YOU? Where do the two of you want to sit? There are pros and cons to either a head table or a sweetheart table.

A head table usually has the happy couple, members of the wedding party, and sometimes selected family members. When you choose a head table, it allows you to be at a large table with a lot of activity, and your guests may feel more comfortable approaching you to offer their well-wishes. It does, however, mean that if any member of your wedding party has a significant other who is not in the wedding party, they will be split at different tables.

A sweetheart table set with rose petals and candles

A sweetheart table is just that, a table for the two of you! Often, couples who choose a sweetheart table have the members of their wedding party, along with significant others, at tables nearby. Some couples prefer the closeness a sweetheart table offers, while others feel that it isolates them from the rest of their guests.

Which are you choosing for your wedding day? Tell us in the comments!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Honeymoon planning 101

As the weather here in the Northeast turns grey and cold, we all start to think about getting away to somewhere warm. Many newlyweds do choose somewhere tropical as their honeymoon site – what says vacation more than sunny beaches, palm trees and relaxing poolside? Luckily, planning for a honeymoon is only slightly more complicated than any other vacation.

Are you dreaming of a tropical honeymoon?
Many couples take part in a honeymoon registry. Instead of wedding gifts, they register for the vacation of their dreams.  They are still very controversial – many people find them inappropriate. If you are going to have a honeymoon registry, my best advice is to follow the rest of the registry rules. Putting the information on your wedding website or getting the information out through word-of-mouth is ok, but never put registry information on your invitation. Also, many of your guests still may not like it; make you sure you give them some options on a regular registry, too.

Do your research on your honeymoon location. You may not want to hit the Caribbean during the height of hurricane season! You’ll also want to be sure you know about things like passport and immunization requirements, crime statistics and more.

And remember! If you are planning on changing your name, but are leaving right away on your honeymoon, all travel needs to be in the name that’s listed on your passport or ID. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Help for narrowing down your wedding favor choices

Picking out wedding favors can be daunting – there are so many options out there! How can you possibly decide? DIY, something personalized, something that matches your theme? All of the above?

The easiest way to begin making choices is by figuring out what you don’t want. Perhaps you know people on your guest list have a lot of dietary restrictions, so then choosing a food favor might not be the best idea. Or maybe you know you want your favors to reflect your theme. Start there!

Your favors can also double as escort cards, if you like. That’s one way to ensure everyone takes their favors!

Lovely limoncello favors double as escort cards for this wedding!

If you’re having a destination wedding, a fun favor could be a memento from the area. Gift shops often have multiple copies of the same keychain or frame decorated with the location – and you can always ask for a bulk discount! What a fun way to remember a fun destination!

As with everything else wedding-related, you can do as much yourself as you like. Many couples will put together personalized boxes of Hershey kisses, M&Ms or other candies. Others will simply order something personalized with the couple’s names and wedding date. There’s no wrong answer!

For the ultimate in guest DIY, a candy bar at the wedding also makes for a great favor. A display of several candies with self-serve bags will allow guests to make their favors themselves!

What are your favorite favors? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall in New England? Prepare for all weather for your wedding!

With the temperatures this week in Connecticut ranging from 40-80 degrees, it’s time for us to revisit our best “how to plan for the weather” tips!

The rule in New England is always to prepare for any possibility when it comes to weather, particularly this time of year. Cool, crisp mornings give way to sunny, warm afternoons, but then the temperature can drop quickly again as the sun goes down. How does a couple plan for all of that?
Fall weddings are gorgeous, but the weather can be unpredictable!
The first step is to make sure you have a weather backup if any part of your wedding day is outside. After that, you should offer options to your guests (and have them for yourself!) so you stay comfortable no matter the temperature!

One great option for your guests if your ceremony is going to be outdoors is blankets or shawls to wrap around themselves if the temperature gets too chilly. They can be left prominently in a basket at the entrance, or it can be something your ushers offer to people as they are brought to their seats.

If it’s late fall or early winter, a really warm option is to hand out instant hand warmers. Be careful of handing them to small children, as many of the hand warmers can get really hot! But they do a great job of keeping fingers and toes warm in the colder months.

But what if the opposite happens? What if your crisp fall day turns into a second summer and afternoon temperatures start rising? Your summer cooling tips will help there, too! Perhaps your ceremony programs can double as fans, or you can leave cold bottles of water at the entrance.

This time of year, it’s best to be prepared for anything!

Friday, September 12, 2014

How big is too big for your guest list?

While you’d love to be able to share your happy day with everyone you know, it’s a fact that there’s a limit to the number of people you can put on your guest list. But how much is too much?

Deciding on who to invite can be tricky!

The first thing that usually limits your guest list is your budget. Before you do anything else (well, besides unlock your secret Pinterest board), you need to figure out your budget. Remember, the larger your guest list, the more every part will cost. You’ll need more save-the-dates, more invitations and more favors and centerpieces!

The next step is to decide on a venue. The maximum occupancy of your venue will be a second deciding factor on your guest list. If you choose a small, intimate location, you simply can’t invite 400 people!

But how do you trim your guest list? It’s not always easy. Start with making a big list. The two of you should think of family, friends and other important people for your list. Then, you can start making edits. Your second-year college roommate you haven’t seen in 10 years may not make the final list if you really want your cousin there. Assume about 80% of your list will say yes, and make your decisions that way.

If people ask if they are invited to the wedding, you should have an answer prepared. “I’m sorry, we wish we could invite everyone, but our venue has a strict occupancy level. But I’d love to meet you for coffee sometime soon so we can catch up!” is a great option.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Let fall’s splendor help you create a stunning wedding

Fall is a gorgeous time of year here in the northeast. Trees are changing colors, the days are bright and the nights are crisp. No wonder couples love to choose fall wedding dates! Why not use nature’s beautiful colors to help you decorate and theme your wedding?

If you love pumpkins, Halloween and traditional fall colors as much as we do, fall decorating couldn’t be easier. You can use pumpkins of all sizes and even carve them into Jack-o’-lanterns!

What's cuter than Mr. and Mrs. pumpkins? Maybe ones with YOUR names!

Fall colors are gorgeous, but you don’t have to stick with an orange-red-brown palette if you don’t want to. Any rich, warm color will work with autumn’s tones. Jewel-tone purples, greens and blues look beautiful!

You also don’t have to stick with a pumpkin theme for your décor. Apples, multicolored corn, wheat, acorns and more look lovely in a cornucopia or other displays.  We also love multicolored mums – place them everywhere and they can be lovely gifts for special people in your wedding.

We love fall mums in our Stone Garden!
What are your decoration plans for your fall wedding?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Practice makes perfect -- planning the rehearsal dinner!

The night before your wedding is usually the time you have your ceremony rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. Like with all things wedding-related, there are a lot of traditions surrounding the rehearsal dinner – from who pays for the dinner to who is invited. Like all things wedding-related, many couples modify rehearsal dinner traditions to meet their own needs.

For example, there’s the long-standing tradition that the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner. For many couples, that still works. But for some, that tradition simply doesn’t fit. Perhaps the couple is paying for the wedding themselves, or many family members are pitching in. Or, for some couples, the cookie-cutter names of “bride” and “groom” just don’t fit. So, who pays? As with all things related to your wedding, it should be discussed. Never assume that anyone is ready to pay for anything!

Which leads to the dinner itself. It can be as formal or as casual as the budget will allow. A family member’s backyard is a great place for an evening barbecue or a hotel’s banquet room can host a more formal dinner.

A formal rehearsal dinner can take place in a room like our Heritage Room
Who gets invited? Usually, it’s at least the wedding party, parents of the happy couple, parents of any children in the wedding party and the officiant. Many couples choose to invite anyone who’s traveling from out-of-town as well as any other close family. It’s a great time for everyone to get to know each other before your big day!

The rehearsal dinner is a great time to give your gifts to the wedding party, if you choose to! It’s also a time to make sure you get to say your “thank yous” to everyone who’s been a part of your wedding planning.

Do you have any special plans for your rehearsal dinner? Share them in the comments!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Make the first dance memorable for all the right reasons

For some couples, the first dance is easy. They have a special song or are avid dancers and the first dance takes little or no effort. For the rest of us, picking a first dance song is full of concerns. What song should we pick? Should we take dance lessons?

You want your first dance to be memorable, of course, so the song choice is important. The easiest way to start is to decide what you want as a couple. Do you want a romantic song? A traditional song? Something contemporary? Something funny? If you figure that part out first, then you’ve narrowed down your choices already.

Picking a song might seem overwhelming at first. 
As you’re picking your song, keep some important things in mind like song length and the lyrics. If a song is too long, you may feel awkward by the end of it. You can get around that by either having the song edited down or by asking other couples to join you on the dance floor part way through. It’s a great way to get your wedding party and immediate family dancing.

You want to be aware of all of the song’s lyrics. What may seem like a sweet love song in the chorus might have more questionable words in the verses. You’ll also want to make sure that the lyrics are appropriate for all of your guests. If it’s got some R-rated lyrics and your great-grandmother is there, you may want to look for a radio-friendly version!

Dance lessons are helpful to some couples who feel self-conscious about dancing in front of their family and friends. A dance teacher will help you work with your song and make you feel more comfortable about the whole process. It doesn’t mean you have to choreograph a whole routine – though those are fun, too! It just gives you some steps to use during the dance.

How are you picking your first dance song? Are you planning a choreographed dance? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unique buffet displays will delight your guests

Whether you call them buffets, bars, or stations, the self-service display has become so popular with couples at weddings! It’s a fun and easy way to give your guests a special treat that they personalize for themselves!

Here at the Heritage, we offer a yummy mashed potato bar! Your guests can choose either mashed sweet or white potatoes and a variety of toppings, from cheese and bacon to cinnamon and sugar!

Whether a candy display (left) or a cigar bar (right), give your guests a fun buffet!
We’ve also had guests create their own candy buffet display, which they made fit into their wedding theme and color scheme! With small goodie bags, your guests make the candy combination they choose.

For the cigar aficionados, we’ve also had a fantastic cigar bar display. Of course, guests had to light up in designated areas!

Other great options? A popcorn bar with toppings like cinnamon, cheddar, or chocolate; ice cream sundae bar with all the fixins’; a hot cocoa bar with marshmallows, peppermint and more; or even an Italian bread buffet with varieties of oils and vinegars to dip.

Ask your venue about options that include alcohol like a sangria bar or mimosa bar. There may be rules about who can serve alcohol.

Our favorite will always be the mini dessert display, though. A table filled with mini cannoli, cookies, tarts and cupcakes will always make us smile.

Get creative! What buffet stations will you be serving?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tips on creating (or not!) the perfect wedding program

One of the items that many couples stress about is whether or not to have a program for their ceremony. There are many reasons to have a program for your guests – but it’s certainly not a requirement. And, if you do want to help your guests know the plan for the day, but don’t want a bunch of paper to hand out, I’ve got tips for you too!

Is a wedding program a "must-have" for you?
Should you have one? If your ceremony is short, your guest list is small and everything is happening in one place, you might not need one. It doesn’t mean you can’t have one if you want one, but it won’t be an issue if you don’t. If, however, you have a religious, ethnic or unique ceremony that may be unfamiliar to some of your guests, then a program will be helpful to explain what’s going on.

If your wedding party is large, you may want to have a program so people know who’s who. It’s also helpful if you have a large guest list where one side may not know the other side very well.

What should be on your program? Generally, an order of events and who’s taking part in each segment. If you have prayers, readings or songs, they should be included, as well as the person performing. If any parts of your ceremony include audience participation, those should also be noted.

You also can include special notes in your program, including any thank-yous or memorial notifications. If your reception is taking place in a different location from the ceremony, putting the address of the reception is helpful to your guests, too!

You can make your program as unique as you’d like. If you want to avoid printing costs and your program is short, a chalkboard or other type of sign is very eco-friendly! If you’ve got an outdoor wedding and you think it may be warm out, printing the program on a fan is also a hit!

And if you do decide to go the printed route, you can personalize the program to reflect your ceremony. A lengthy, formal or religious ceremony should have a more formal program. A short, unique or civil ceremony program can fit nicely on a fun, colorful sheet of paper.

Tell us your thoughts. Are you planning to have a wedding program?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yes, you do have to send out thank you notes!

Many couples choose to change many traditions associated with weddings – and that’s great. Each wedding should be personal for each couple! But one thing that’s really not negotiable is the thank you note. Sure, it may feel like a tedious process, but it’s an important one. 

Get stationery. You can choose anything that fits your style as a couple. Just like with invitations, a casual backyard wedding will have different thank you notes than a formal wedding will. In fact, you can order your thank you notes at the same time as your invitations, if you like, so that everything fits your theme

You can get your thank you notes at the same time as your invitations. These are from Respond If You Please
Have a good list. Generally, the people who have you pre-wedding or wedding gifts were invited to the wedding, so you have their names and addresses. You also will want to send a thank you note to anyone who helped you on your big day. Perhaps a co-worker coordinated your shuttle from ceremony to reception site. Your sister went above and beyond in making your centerpieces. Thank you notes to them would be appreciated too!

It’s ok to use a template. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Just fill in the blanks!

Dear (Aunt Sue),
Thank you for the lovely (steak knife set). We can’t wait to (use them in the kitchen in our new house). It was great to see you at the wedding. (I’m sorry you couldn’t make the wedding, and you were missed.) I hope we can get together soon!
(Pat and Chris)

Get help! Both of you got married and both of you will get use from the gifts. Both of you should be working on the thank you notes, too! According to Emily Post, your notes should be sent out within three months of your wedding. Having the two of you work on them together will make that a reality! You don’t have to do them all in one sitting – just a few each a night will get the job done.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dessert options besides the traditional wedding cake

Many couples dream about the elaborate tiered wedding cake they will have at their wedding reception. But what if you or your sweetheart doesn’t like or want cake? Or, perhaps you want more choices than just cake alone! There are plenty of other dessert options out there that are “wedding day worthy.”

Cupcakes or cake pops. If you want to get just a little away from tradition, the wedding cupcake or cake pop display is great. You can choose different flavors and give your guests options, but it still feels like everyone is having cake!

Would you have a naked cake at your wedding? What about NO cake?

Mini dessert bar. If you want to give your guests a variety of dessert options, the mini dessert bar is always fun. Min brownies, cannoli, cookies and more make for a delicious dessert!

Anything on tiers.  If you don’t want cake, but still want the feeling of an impressive dessert, display your dessert on tiers. Because of its height, whatever you place on the tiers will look even fancier. What you choose is up to you: pies, donuts, cookies! They will all look fantastic on display!

Depending on how many people you’re serving, and how much dessert you want to offer, you can have special desserts as an addition to your cake or instead of it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to be a good wedding guest

Most of our advice is aimed at brides and grooms to help them plan their big day. But there are some rules for being a good guest, too! Here are ways you can help the happy couple have a great day.

Send in your RSVPs. You’ve probably already gotten a save-the-date, and you’ve checked your calendar. Most of the time, you know if you can make it to a wedding or not. So don’t put it off – send in your RSVP as soon as you can!

Don’t add a “plus one.” Your invitation should be fairly clear as to who is invited. If you aren’t sure, it’s ok to reach out to the couple or their immediate family for clarification. But don’t assume you can bring a date – or your kids – without a clear invitation.

Arrive to the wedding on time. Which, of course, means early. You should plan to be in your seat 20 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start. If that means you have to leave early to avoid traffic, so be it. But you don’t want to upstage the couple by arriving during the ceremony.

Follow the dress code. Dress for the formality of the wedding. A backyard or beach wedding will have a different dress code than a formal religious ceremony. Tradition says wearing all white or all black is a no-no.

Follow the couple’s requests regarding picture taking, social media, and using your phones. Don’t text or blog during the ceremony unless the couple asks you to! If the couple has asked for an “unplugged” ceremony, then leave your phone in your pocket or purse. That being said, if the couple has made it clear they’re happy to have their wedding on Instagram or some other social media site, then share away!

Try to find out answers without asking the couple. Most weddings now have a wedding website you can visit, which will probably have all the answers to all your questions, from hotel rooms to schedule. If you can’t find your answer there, ask the maître d’ at the reception site, the wedding planner or the mother of the bride or groom. Try not to bother the couple themselves, if you can avoid it!

Have fun! Enjoy yourself. Dance, if there’s music. Drink, but not to excess, if there’s a bar. Celebrate! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pinterest is a great tool – but who do you follow?

Almost all of us use Pinterest as a great inspiration for many things like decorating and recipes – but the way it puts all sorts of wedding ideas at your fingertips is a great resource for anyone planning one. But how do you sort through all the noise to get to the ideas you really want to use? It starts with who you follow. Sure, your maid of honor, best friend and college roommate should all be part of your Pinterest life, but who else?

Us. Sure, it sounds obvious, but we post pictures from most of our weddings right on our Pinterest pageThat gives you a great idea of how other couples use the space. If you’re not having your wedding or reception with us, then definitely follow your venue’s account!

We still love this sweetheart table!
Your other vendors. Your photographer, florist, caterer and DJ probably all have Pinterest accounts. Again, this will give you the chance to see what they offer other couples and how you can take those ideas and make them your own.

Other bloggers. Find wedding bloggers who appeal to you. We love The Knot and Offbeat Bride. But maybe you’re a Martha Stewart weddings kind of person. Or you’ve found a blogger who really “gets” you. Make sure you’re following them, too! 

The important thing to remember about Pinterest, though, is while it’s a great tool for finding inspiration; you want to be sure you’re not overwhelming yourself with too many different ideas. Take a Pinning break now and then and you’ll come back refreshed!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What’s the best way to get yourself organized?

Planning a wedding, for most people, is the biggest event they will plan in their lives. Unless you’re planning the very smallest of weddings (and maybe even then!), you’ll need something to help you organize all the little pieces for your big event. But what’s the best tool to use? Honestly, the organizer you will actually use is the best one, but here are some options for you to consider.

A pre-printed binder/organizer will fit the needs of most weddings. It may be a little one-size-fits-all, but it will help you decide what you need and how you need to do it. You can find them in most bookstores and online.

Binders like this can be found at most bookstores or online

A website or an app will help fit the needs of a tech-savvy bride or groom. An app on your phone has the added benefit of always being with you. Of course, that means you won’t have a place to keep things like receipts, brochures or swatches, but you can always pair an app with…

A plain binder, accordion folder or other folder system. This way you can have just the items you care about in your system, and leave out the ones you don’t. You can also modify a pre-printed organizer and place it in a plain binder if you’re avoiding the overly “bridal” look.

Do you have your own system for organizing your wedding planning? Tell us about it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What to wear on your wedding day

Sure, wedding magazines are filled with pictures of brides in taffeta and lace and grooms in tuxes; but what if that’s not your style? What if you want your wedding day attire to reflect a little more of you? Remember, while the traditional white wedding gown seems like a must today, it’s a relatively new idea. Brides used to simply get married in their best dress and grooms in their best clothes. Why not express your individuality in more than just your centerpieces and wedding favors?  You may need to do some explaining to your extended family why it’s ok to wear something unusual, but if the two of you are happy with what you’re wearing, that’s all that matters!

From mild to wild, here are some great ideas:

Mild: If you still picture yourself in a white wedding dress, but want to add a little fun, why not add a pop of color? Our favorites include using your wedding colors in a sash, on buttons, as a petticoat, or even on your shoes!
Medium: For a casual beach wedding, why not a white sundress? You’ll be more comfortable and will be able to get around easier on the beach.
Wild: Why not dress in costume for a themed wedding or wear your favorite green gown? It’s up to you!

Who says you can't wear a green dress? 
Mild: You can have fun with color, too! Maybe some bright socks, a festive tie or fantastic shoes that coordinate with the rest of the wedding colors.
Medium: Instead of a full tux, many men are choosing to wear just a vest over shirtsleeves. It’s still a polished look, but isn’t as formal.

Wild: You, too, can enjoy a costume for a themed wedding, or an over-the-top bespoke suit that fits your personality!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Keep yourself healthy while in the middle of wedding planning

Any major change in your life is sure to cause you some stress – even something as happy as planning your wedding! You’re trying to balance how the two of you see your big day with what your families and friends want; and possibly planning the biggest party you’ve ever thrown. It’s easy to let the wedding planning overshadow other parts of your life, but don’t neglect taking care of yourself!

Take breaks. Sure, you’re on a deadline and you feel like you have no time to spare. But if all you’re doing is wedding planning 24/7, you’re going to get burned out! Take time for the two of you to have a “wedding free” night, even if it’s just dinner. Go out with your best friend for brunch or a mani-pedi. Whatever it is, take time for you.

Check on each other. A marriage is a partnership – wedding planning should be one, too! If your other half seems really stressed out or overwhelmed, ask to help. If you’re the one feeling frazzled, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Don't let planning for the big day take its toll on your health!

Be careful with weight loss. Everyone wants to look their best on their wedding day – but if you try to lose too much weight too quickly, you could make yourself sick. Check with your doctor before starting ANY weight loss plan. Remember, your sweetie fell in love with you exactly how you are – you don’t need to change it now.

But don’t neglect exercise. Getting up and moving around is the best recipe for relieving stress, even if it’s just a walk around the block with your dog. If you’ve got a regular workout routine, try to stick to it as much as you can. It’ll do wonders for your state of mind (and it’ll be good for the dog, too!).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Help your guests find their seats

Once you’ve figured out your seating chart, you need a way to help your guests find their seats – the escort or table card. At its simplest, it’s a card with your guest’s name and table number, possibly with a notation for their dinner choice. But, as with most things wedding-related, you have many ways of personalizing them!

Follow your theme. An elegant wedding needs an elegant escort card set-up, while a casual beach wedding should have a similar feel. You can work with your printer to create cards that match your invitation suite, or you can use objects like wine corks or seashells to DIY your cards.

Set aside some space. As you plan your reception set-up, make sure you have adequate room for your table cards. Most couples prefer to display the cards near the guestbook, so guests have everything in one place.

Limoncello bottles double as escort cards and wedding favors! 

More than just cards. Many couples like to have escort cards pull double duty as a wedding favor. Using small picture frames, mini liquor bottles or votive candle holders is an easy way to have a lovely gift for your guests as well as a way for them to find their seats.  

Your imagination is the only limit! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tips for the “Parent of the….”

Your son or daughter comes to you with the great news – they’re engaged! You’re ecstatic, and then it occurs to you that you have a lot of work ahead of you for the next year or so! And in addition, the “rules” for wedding planning have changed so much, you don’t even know where to begin.

First, acknowledge your own emotions. No matter how much you love your son or daughter’s significant other, this can be a bittersweet time. Just like your child’s first steps, first day of school, driver’s license or graduation day, this is a milestone for both of you. It’s ok to be a little sad as well as happy – just try not to let that influence how you help the happy couple!

Make sure you have the money talk. This is never easy, but you need to make sure everyone is on the same page with the wedding budget. Is the newly-engaged couple expecting you to help pay for expenses? How much can you afford? If you have this talk early in the engagement, it will ease a lot of tension later. Be honest and be clear.

Have the “who’s planning this thing” talk. This can also be awkward, especially if you and the couple have a very different vision of what you want the wedding to be! If you’re paying for the wedding, how much influence does that give you?  If you’re expecting a big religious wedding, while they’re thinking of a destination beach wedding, you have some negotiating to do!

Just like we tell brides and grooms – pick your battles. Figure out what is important to you, and explain why it’s important. Everything else is negotiable!

Be agreeable. Meet your child’s significant other’s family, if you haven’t already. Follow your son or daughter’s lead on what to wear on the wedding day itself. Offer to help, offer your advice, but be prepared for it not to be taken!

And most importantly, enjoy the day. Again, just like we tell brides and grooms, try to take a step back and enjoy the wedding itself.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Plan ahead to make that outdoor wedding shine

As we approach summer wedding season, we know many couples are planning to hold some or all of their wedding outdoors. While having the sun shine down on the happy couple as they exchange vows is always beautiful, outdoor weddings have their own potential problems.

Most of all, have a backup plan. Whether you want all or part of your wedding outdoors, you need some sort of backup plan if the weather turns ugly on you. Here at the Heritage, we host many ceremonies outside in our Stone Garden. But we also have the ability to move that ceremony inside at a moment’s notice! Make sure you have some sort of option for your guests in case of bad weather – it could be as simple as umbrellas or as complex as a tented area.

Stone Garden wedding
The Stone Garden at the Heritage Hotel offers an outdoor venue with a built-in weather backup!

Watch the temperature. Even in June, the temperatures can spike quickly. Be sure you have plenty of water on hand for guests to stay hydrated. Many couples who plan to have a printed wedding program have them printed on a fan so guests can keep themselves cool during the ceremony. Also, if you are planning to have your reception outdoors as well, make sure your caterer has planned keeping cold food safe!

Help your guests plan ahead as well by letting them know ahead of time that your wedding is planned to be outdoors. Guests will be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, as long as they know ahead of time. A survival kit of things your guests may have forgotten like sunscreen or bug spray will come in handy!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What to do when your significant other isn’t “into” wedding planning

You’re all excited – your wedding day is fast approaching, and you’ve got wedding planning fever. You know exactly down to the tiniest detail exactly how things are going to be. But your partner isn’t showing the same level of excitement you are. When you ask about color swatches, uplighting, or food choices he or she just doesn’t seem to be as interested.

First, don’t panic! Just because your partner isn’t interested in the tiny details doesn’t mean they don’t want to be married. It just means they aren’t into party planning.

But make sure their voices are being heard. If your partner doesn’t seem to care about one element of the planning, like color swatches, don’t assume they don’t have an opinion about something else, like food. Check in regularly to make sure you’re not steamrolling over all of their decisions.

Take a little time for each other. Sure, you’re planning possibly the biggest event you’ve ever planned, and you want it to be just right. But when you make every conversation about the wedding, you risk overloading your partner. Take some time for a regular date night, and promise “no wedding talk.” You’ll both be refreshed and ready to tackle the next wedding planning challenge.

Ask for help. It may sound like a great thing, being able to make all the decisions for your wedding day, but sometimes you need help. Let your significant other know you need help making some decisions. If you need more help than that, ask a trusted member of the wedding party or a family member. You don’t have to do it alone!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tips for making your wedding accessible

Whether it’s for you, your partner or a family member or friend, planning a wheelchair or other accessible wedding has its own challenges.

Keep accessibility needs in mind as you scout wedding locations. Depending on who needs the accessibility, you may need to have different options. If it’s a member of the wedding party, make sure your location has a plan for wheelchair access to the ceremony spot. If it’s for a guest, you may only need to be sure there is an accessible spot for them in the congregation where they can see the ceremony comfortably. During the reception, ensure tables are the correct height and that there will be no issues at the buffet.

Outdoor locations have their own requirements. Check for things like uneven pavement or rocky or marshy ground. Will you have a raised floor under a tent? You may need to add some ramps to help your guests onto the floor.

If you have sight-impaired guests, consider printing a few copies of your program in large print or braille.

You may want to ask a trusted member of the wedding party or family member to keep an eye out for potential trouble spots during the wedding. While you don’t want any of your guests to feel singled out, you will have a lot of things going on during the ceremony and reception. Having a second person whose job it is to keep accessibility issues running smoothly will be a help!

Work with your wedding venue to alert them of any accessibility issues ahead of time. They know their venue best and will be able to anticipate many of your needs before you do!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Things we wish you knew about booking your hotel room block

Here at the Heritage Hotel, we offer room blocks for couples, no matter where they’re having their wedding. Perhaps your ceremony is in a place of worship and you’re having your reception with us; or perhaps everything is happening off-site, and you just need a comfy place for your guests. While every hotel has its own specific details, here’s what we wish everyone knew about setting up their room blocks:

Know your check-in time. For us, guaranteed check-in is 4 p.m. If your wedding is at 6, it is unlikely you will be able to get into your room early. We most likely had a guest in that room the night before, and it’s simply not available until 4. We suggest getting the room the day before. Since we offer a free night to the couple on their wedding night, why not take advantage of an extra day? It takes one more level of stress away.

Take an extra night to enjoy your room!

That goes for your guests, too. Why not encourage your guests to make it a weekend getaway? Make your room block available for the whole weekend and that will give your guests time to get in and settled and have the whole next day to get ready.

Book early and know your deadlines. There is no downside to setting up your room block early – just be sure you know when your cut-off date is. Before your wedding, the hotel will want to be able to release your unsold rooms to other guests. You don’t want your guests missing out on the rooms, so make sure you make it clear on your wedding website or invitations when they need to call by.

When in doubt, ask. If you’re not sure about a detail, check with your wedding planner, sales person or contact at the hotel. We’re more than happy to answer any question you might have. Just like you, we want your guests to have a great time at your wedding!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Alternatives to the traditional wedding shower

Many couples enjoy the traditional wedding shower – all the ladies getting together for the afternoon, with games, gifts and food. For many reasons, though, other couples don’t like them. Perhaps you’re a non-traditional couple, or one or both of you are very shy and you hate opening gifts in front of people. You’ve got plenty of alternatives to the usual pre-wedding party!

An afternoon barbecue with all the guys and gals of the family is a much more casual get-together. And, taking the spotlight off just one of you, any gifts can be opened by both of you as a couple! Or, you can keep it just a celebration, with no gifts at all!

Keep it casual with a backyard barbecue!

If you want to stay more formal, keep the group co-ed, but have the party at a restaurant or nearby hotel. A party like this can double as an engagement party as well.

If you really don’t want a pre-wedding party at all, make sure you make that clear with both sides. Your family or your partner’s family may try to surprise you with one, thinking they are doing the right thing.  Usually, the surprise shower is done with the best of intentions. Be gentle, but firm, and make your position clear.

Have you been to an alternative to the traditional shower? Are you planning one? Tell us about it!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What do you put in your emergency kit?

Call them what you want: an emergency bag, an uh-oh kit, or that-word-that-rhymes-with-kit-but-we’re-a-family-friendly-blog kit. Whatever you call it, you know you’ll need one; a small bag with those things that you hope you won’t need on your big day, but you want to have on hand just in case. Every couple will need different things in their kit, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

First aid: Band-Aids, painkillers, bug spray, sunscreen. A small first-aid kit is a great idea, since it has a bunch of little things all in one place. If any part of your ceremony or reception is outside, you’ll want the bug spray or sunscreen.

Problem fixers: Scissors, a small sewing kit, super glue, double-stick fashion tape, safety pins, stain removers, duct tape. If a hem falls, a thread unravels or there’s potential for a wardrobe malfunction, most of these items will come in handy. And we’ve seen many a wedding be saved by a Tide-to-Go pen or Shout wipes (or any other brand name!). As for super glue or duct tape? They pretty much fix anything.

Toiletries: Extra make-up, chapstick, hair stuff, mints. If you’re wearing make-up, a touch-up kit is a great idea. If you expect your hair to look a certain way, bring extra bobby pins, hair ties, or hair spray. Mints and chapstick will help those nervous dry mouths!

Extras: Phone chargers, cash, copies of your vows. After a long day, your phone may need a pick-me-up, too. A little extra cash stashed away will help in a pinch, and definitely have extra copies of things like your vows and order of ceremony handy.

What else goes in your bag? What do you leave out? Share in the comments!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate Bridal Fashion Week!

There’s nothing we love more than pouring over the gorgeous dresses at the semi-annual New York Bridal Fashion week. The Spring 2015 collection – unveiled last weekend – is no exception. From the romantically traditional Carolina Herrera to the edgy style of Vera Wang, here are some of our favorites:

Carolina Herrera’s show fit all of our traditional dress needs. With plenty of lace and tulle, her work has a timeless quality.

Also sweetly romantic is one of our favorites from his days back at Project Runway: Austin Scarlett.

Monique Lhuiller wowed us again with pops of color inbetween traditional white gowns.

Jenny Packham began and ended her show with plus-size dresses, a great reminder that ladies of all sizes are seeking great fashion.

And Vera Wang? Well, she was the talk of the show, mostly by not having a runway show. Instead, she presented a moody, edgy video for brides to review.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gifts for the people who are there for you – the wedding party!

As you’ve planned your wedding, there have been those people who stood by your side, helping along the way. They’ve dealt with dresses, tuxes, bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding showers and the late-night emails asking for help for “one last thing” – the members of your wedding party. Those ladies and gentlemen who will be standing with the two of you while you celebrate your wedding deserve a “thank you” gift!

What to spend: Make sure honor attendant gifts are accounted for in your budget, and then stick to it. Whether you choose something small and meaningful, extravagant and breathtaking, or something in-between, make sure you’ve planned for it!

Give yourself time: Give yourself a deadline on getting wedding party gifts in your schedule. Particularly if you want things personalized, you need to give yourself time to shop and choose the best items.

What to get: This is where you can have fun. Do you have a specific theme for your wedding? Your gifts can reflect that theme as well. Perhaps you want to get something useful for each of your attendants. Or something fun they wouldn’t get for themselves. The best part? Your gifts don’t have to be the same for each person. As long as you’re staying in the same price range for everyone you can mix and match gifts to each member of your wedding party!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making sense of the wedding registry

While it seems like so much fun – it’s making the ultimate wish list! – you’ll want to keep some things in mind as you create your wedding registry.

Timing is everything. Make sure you give your guests enough time to choose a gift, at least four months before your wedding. Six months is better, if possible!

Options, options, options. You’re giving suggestions to everyone, from your college roommate to your future spouse’s grandmother. You’ll want to be sure that there are plenty of options at many different price points. You also will want to register at more than one store; and at least one of those stores should have an online option for people who prefer to shop online.

Plan ahead. But at the same time you want to give your guests options, you don’t want to register for things you don’t need. Get a list together of what you’ll actually need to start your married life together before you head to the store, scanner in hand!

But don’t put it in print. It is still considered an etiquette “no-no” to put any wedding registry information on your invitations. If you have a wedding website, that’s a great place to put all those types of links. Otherwise, let the members of your wedding party or other family members spread the word where to find your registry.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hair today, accessorize tomorrow?

You’ve bought the dress or the tux, and you know you want to look your very best. Time to think about hair, makeup, nails and accessories! Whether you’re a bride or a groom, the same basic rules apply!

Hair. If you’re trying out a new hairstyle, practice it a few times before the ceremony. Or, if you’re having a professional style your hair, go for at least one practice run first. If you’re planning on getting a haircut, make sure it’s about a week before ceremony day; you want to give your hair time to relax AND give you time to get it fixed if there’s a problem! If you’re expecting to have any adornments in your hair – veils, tiaras, etc. – bring them with you to your trial run. Your stylist will need them to create your whole look.

Nails and hands. Most brides get a shiny new manicure for their wedding day; but it’s important for grooms to have a little hand care, too. While many men enjoy a simple manicure, some still feel uncomfortable with the concept. That’s ok, but at minimum make sure your hands and nails are clean and trimmed. Both of your hands will be in a lot of pictures!

Makeup. Like with hair, you’ll want to make a trial run of any new looks. Whether you’ve decided to go with a glamorous or a natural look, you’ll want to be sure the final result is what you’re expecting.

Accessories. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets or any other jewelry should also be tried on ahead of time. If you have an intricate hairstyle, you will want to bring your earrings to your hair appointment so you can be sure of a balanced look. You also want to make sure none of the clasps or parts of the jewelry will snag on your dress or suit.

A little advance planning will make those small, but important, details shine on your big day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What to expect from the littlest members of your wedding party

Many couples look forward to having younger children as part of their wedding party – whether the kids are close relatives, friends’ kids or even their own. Having children in the wedding party does add its own share of challenges and rewards.

Match the duties to the kid. Your 3-year-old niece may be the cutest thing ever, but if she’s terrified of people and won’t let go of her mom when you visit, she may not be the best choice to be a flower girl. Likewise, a young man who loves being in the spotlight might enjoy being a ring bearer or junior groomsman. Ask the kids’ moms and dads to help you decide if their little one is suited for being in the wedding.

Practice, practice, practice! No matter what the child’s duties are, they should be at minimum at the rehearsal! That will give them an idea of how far they have to walk, where they have to turn, and what will be expected of them. Any child who is expected to perform a particular task (tossing rose petals or making a short announcement) should be practicing at home, too!

Be prepared. Pretty much for anything. When the time comes, the kids will be nervous and excited. Your little charmer of a flower girl may panic and run. Or the junior groomsman will refuse to come down the aisle at all. Make sure there’s someone in the audience who’s prepared to jump in and help, no matter what the situation.

Accommodate them at the reception. Little guests have different needs during the party. Our previous post on keeping your littlest guests entertained has some great tips.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Those special family heirlooms

One of our co-workers told us a great story about her family’s wedding dress. It had been purchased in the 1940s by an aunt and then (in those thrifty times) worn by her mother.

Fast forward to the 1960s, and she and her cousin both wore it. Now, the next generation is looking to re-use the dress (with some minor modern updates). The family’s rule was no major alterations for sizing changes; as long as you fit into it, you could wear the dress. It certainly makes for a special connection between the (so far) three generations of women, and it’s an heirloom that has marked this special day for each woman.

Of course, not every bride can – or wants to – fit into an heirloom dress. But there are plenty of ways to use a beloved older piece or start a new tradition.

For the brides: Veils can fit a variety of women, and can be changed easily from bride to bride.  They can even be repurposed from an out-of-style dress.  Jewelry can be shared from generation to generation as well, like a favorite ring, pair of earrings, necklace, or even a brooch. If you don’t want to wear the piece as part of your wedding attire, you can always use it as a decoration in your bouquet.

For the grooms: Accessories like ties, cuff links or a handkerchief can easily be passed from generation to generation.  And, just like for the brides, a piece that the groom doesn’t want to wear in its original form could always be used to complete a boutonniere.

What are your family traditions and heirlooms? Tell us in the comments!