Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Step 11: Flowers

Flowers are not only a visual pleasure but a symbol of new love and a new life. Flowers may be used in nearly every aspect of the wedding including decorating rows of seating, topping the wedding cake, in the hands of attendants, given to parents, centerpieces, wrapped around candles, main entryways, or even on serving platters. You can choose flowers depending on their symbolic meaning, seasonal freshness, color, size, fragrance, or pleasure.

Before you meet with a florist, gather ideas of flowers from bridal magazines, interior design books, flower shows, floral websites, or gardens. You may also want to consider the formality of the wedding, the season and the colors the bridal party will be wearing when choosing flowers. You also need to think about ribbons, greens, candles, vases, pots, or containers you may need to hold the flowers. You may want to use the following checklist to make sure you have all the flowers you need.

The Bride and Her Attendants
Bride's Bouquet, Maid of Honor, Bridesmaids, Flower Girl, Tossing Bouquet, Floral Hair Decorations
The Groom and His Attendants
Groom's Boutonniere, Best Man, Ushers, Ring Bearer
Family Flowers
Parents of the Bride, Parents of the Groom, Grandmothers and Grandfathers, other special guests
For the Ceremony
Entranceway, Altar, Pews, Candles, Aisle Runner
For the Reception
Centerpieces, Buffet Tables, Cake-Topper, Cake Table, Stairways, Place Card Table, Garnish, Rest Rooms, Flower Petals for Tossing

A special way to personalize flowers is to select chocies based on your birth month.
January - carnation
February - violet
March - jonquil
April - sweet pea
May -lily of the valley
June -rose
July -larkspur
August -gladiolus
September -aster
October -calendula
November -chrysanthemum
December -narcissus

Using seasonal flowers is a good way to cut on costs because they will be easily available. You can also use the do-it-yourself method by tying flowers together with ribbons or wire. You can also save by having a friend pick up the flowers instead of having them delivered. You can also use your ceremony decorations for the reception decorations but they will also have to be transported. If you have a ceremony around a holiday, it may already be decorated with flowers. You can also have attenadants carry a single flower trailed by a long ribbon.

When meeting florists, ask to see the florist's album or portfolo of previous wedding for which they provided flowers, ask for references, inquire about wedding packages, and ask for guarantees. You should also do site checks and find out about access for decorating and what is permitted.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Step 10: Expenses

It is hard to avoid the topic of expenses when it comes to a wedding. The average wedding cost in the US is close to $19,000. Some questions to consider:

Who Pays?! Traditionally the bride's family assumes most wedding costs. It is common today for both families to share in the expenses or for the bride and groom to pay for a majority of the expenses themselves, especially if they are older.

Traditionally the bride's family is responsible for:

  • services of bridal consultant
  • invitations, enclosures, announcements
  • wedding gown & accessories
  • floral decorations for ceremony, reception, bridesmaids' flowers and bride's bouquet
  • formal photography
  • videotape recording
  • music for ceremony & reception
  • transportation of bridal party to & from ceremony & reception
  • all reception expenses

Traditionally the groom's family is responsible for:

  • groom's attire
  • ties/gloves for groom's attendants
  • boutonnieres for groomsmen
  • corsages for immediate family members
  • officiant fee
  • marriage license
  • transportation for groom & groomsmen to & from ceremony & reception
  • honeymoon expenses
  • rehearsal dinner

Bridesmaids and groomsmen are responsible for their own attire and accessories.

If expenses seem to be overwhelming, here are some secrets to saving:

  • cut the guest list
  • choose a smaller reception site
  • choose a different time of day/day of week
  • let friends help - their service can be a wedding gift
  • let attendants stay with family/friends instead of hotels
  • shop for your wedding dress from a wholesale store
  • make your own gown or wear less traditional attire like a white suit
  • forgo the formal rehearsal dinner or formal reception
  • provide disposable camera's during the reception instead of hiring a reception photographer
  • use loose bouquets of flowers from a local garden or silk flowers instead of expensive bouquets
  • shop around and compare prices

Check out these helpful sites: Cost Cutting, Wedding Coupons, Saving Money

Friday, November 04, 2005

Step 9: Selecting Speakers

During some ceremonies, particularly in the Catholic church, you have the option of choosing people to read scriptures, and present the gifts. You need to consider these jobs in advance so you can select the readings and give the readers a copy to rehearse. This would be a good job for a godparent, parent, or close friend. Check out some readings here. You can also have several people bring up the gifts during the mass, if you choose to have a mass. Along with these jobs, you also need people who will hand out pamphlets, rice or bubbles and prepare the ceremony location in advance. For example, someone may need to drive up early and set up signs pointing your guests in the right direction. Setup may also require decorations at the end of the rows, special flower arrangements, candles, or other extras. Make sure you assign the decorating jobs to people who will not be included in the pictures.

Ceremonial music can add the power of emotion to your wedding. If marrying in a house of worship, check for musical restrictions. It is also a good idea to use the house's organist and singers. You should meet with the musical director and go through music arrangements. You should select:

  • THE PRELUDE- joyful, before the ceremony begins (Air-Handel, Rondo-Mozart)
  • THE PROCESSIONAL- begins as the bride and her attendants are ready to walk. Should be joyous and formal. Sometimes the bride can use a separate piece for her entrance. (Wedding March-Guilmant, Canon in D Major-Pachelbel)
  • THE CEREMONY- can be music interludes or hymns, vocal or instrumental. (Ave Maria-Shubert)
  • THE RECESSIONAL- most joyous. Upbeat music as you walk out the door. (Ode to Joy-Beethoven, Trumpet Voluntary-Clarke)
To find local live music in your area I suggest using the "local" button in Google and searching for wedding music or wedding quartets. Make sure you listen to musical samples before you commit yourself to a piece. You may also want to check out the music departments of local colleges because they will be less expensive. Also look into sound limitations and the types of music that will work best in the space. Make arrangements so the musicians have time to practice.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Step 8: Odds & Ends

Responding to comments from the last post, this site tells you which states require Blood Tests and why.

As the days get closer to your wedding, it's time for the groomsmen and the groom to pick out their tuxedos. Most grooms & groomsmen rent their tux's and these stores are a dime a dozen. Check out if they have wedding specials because many do. After Hours Formal Wear has tuxedo's starting at $49.99. It's also nice when the neck pieces, cummerbun, or vest matches the color of the bridesmaid dresses. Tuxedo's, like wedding dresses, come in all different styles and in different name brands. While you are there, you want to make sure everyone has the right shoes, socks, and belt. This site also has great information for grooms about what they should know about style & etiquette, measurements, checklists, and tips.

You also want to discuss living arrangements. You certainly don't want to be living in your parents house after you are married. Many couples live together before they get married but not all. Will you live in an apartment, townhouse, regular house? Will you be relocating because your fiance doesn't live in the same area as you do? If you need to move from your current location, moving can be a strenuous endeavour. Make sure you change your address with the post office if needed.

Make sure you request days off from work. It would be nice to request several days off before the wedding to make sure everything is taken care of and also enough time after the wedding for your honeymoon. Give your employer enough notice so you won't be working the morning of your wedding!

You also want to buy gifts for your bridesmaids/groomsmen and each other! Brides and grooms often buy each other wedding gifts. You may want to buy the parents presents or anyone special who helped in the planning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Step 7: The Honeymoon

Honeymoon's can vary dramatically depending on how much time you have to travel and how much money you have to spend. I think it's best to do a lot of research before you choose a destination and have a good idea of what important qualities you want in a honeymoon. Do you want to be wined & dined or left alone to enjoy beautiful scenery? When my sister got married, they chose to stay local and spent a week in the countryside in a rustic cabin. Others may need to consult a travel agent or conduct online searches if they are traveling somewhere far and unknown. Some good sites are honeymoon and the have some good package deals. My favorite wedding site, in case you haven't noticed, The has a lot of great honeymoon ideas. You can take a quiz that recommends honeymoon spots depending on your answers. My quiz told me to check out Fiji, Santorini Island in Greece and Montego Bay. They also have featured honeymoon destinations and testimonials from newlyweds. I would also check out This Blog because it will give you a lot of good information about destination weddings and booking a honeymoon. Since I have not had the experience yet, I think it would be good to hear first hand from someone who has just gone through it! The knot also has great information about passports, working with travel agents, honeymoon checklists, travel planning timelines, and what to pack. They suggest six or more months ahead to start trading honeymoon fantasies and start looking for a travel agent.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Recap/Look Ahead

Hey everybody, I just thought I'd give you an overall idea of how a timeline for planning a wedding might look since I obviously can't cover everything. Hope this helps organize the things we're looked at and the things still to come!

12 months before
Buy a wedding planner or organizer
Talk with your fiancé and all parents about the big picture: budget, stlye, size, dates,
sites, and participants
Decide on the ceremony and
reception sites, and reserve both
Start shopping for your dress
Choose your attendants
Mail save the date cards
Send your engagement announcement to the newspaper

10 months before
Start looking for a caterer, baker, florist
, musicians, photographer, and videographer
Visit your clergymen if you're having a religious ceremony

8 months before
Book your caterer, baker, florist,
musicians, photographer, and videographer
Choose and order
your dress
Register for presents
Begin the guest list

6 months before
Research the honeymoon
Decide on the menu with your caterer, the bouquets with your florist
Book a calligrapher, limos for the wedding party

Order wedding stationery: invitations, response cards, maps, programs, and thank you notes

4 months before
Book your honeymoon

Finalize the guest list. Give complete names, with addresses and zip codes, to the calligrapher so they can start on the envelopes
Make an appointment for your first
dress fitting
Order the
wedding rings
Schedule the rehearsal and the
rehearsal dinner
Visit the formalwear shop if the
groom and ushers will be renting their outfits
Book a hotel room for your wedding night

2 months before
Visit your officiant to go over
vows, readings, music
If you are getting
your makeup professionally done for the wedding, this is a good time for a trial run
Check to see if the state where you're marrying requires blood tests; if so, make an appointment with your doctor
Mail your invitations
Choose gifts for your attendants
Arrange to transport your belongings, if either of you is moving. Send change-of-address information to the post office
Get name-change forms from the department of motor vehicles, Social Security office, credit-card issuers if you're taking your fiancé's name

6 weeks before
Have the final dress fitting
Pick up the rings
Make an appointment with your
Get programs printed
Send your announcement to the newspapers

2 weeks before
Get the marriage license
Submit lists of must-take shots to the photographer and videographer, and your playlist to musicians
Arrange the seating plan

Write out table and place cards
Confirm honeymoon reservations
Break in
your shoes
Write toasts for the rehearsal dinner and reception

1 week before
Pack for the honeymoon
Give the final guest count to your caterer
Remind all attendants of the rehearsal details
Throw the
bridesmaids' party, at which you'll distribute gifts
Pick up your dress a few days before the wedding
Give copies of
ceremony readings to those doing them

1 day before
Get your nails done

Hold the rehearsal and the
rehearsal dinner
Go to bed early and try to get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Step 6: Gift Registry

To go along with sending out invitations, you must tell your guests where they can go to shop for you! Most couples use a wedding registry to register through department stores like Macy's, Strawbridges, Bloomingdale's, and Sear's or stores like Linen's & Things and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Starting a registry is free and you can make an appointment to go into the store and use an electronic bar code reader to select items you wish for. You can select many categories like fine china, glassware, flatware, everyday kitchen supplies, pot & pans, bedding, bath, luggage, cutlery, and appliances. You can register in as many stores as you please but pick stores that your guests will have access to. Once your guest goes into the store, they can easily print the wish list and choose items from the list and once purchased, the list is automatically updated.

Using a registry is a good idea if you are particular about getting duplicates or gifts that do not match. By giving your guests a wish list in advance saves them shopping time and ensures you will get a gift you really want. It is also convenient for families who want to go in on a big gift like luggage which is usually expensive. You will not get all the items on your list but it is a good start to decide what kind of things you and your fiance want in your new home. Some brides opt for the most expensive crystal while others are more practical. These are decisions you and your future husband/wife will need to decide.

Some stores like Macy's now lets you create/update your registry online. This registry can also be printed online by your guests.

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