Free Wedding Planning Tips

Saturday, May 28, 2005

How to get them to all hail your hair

These days, it’s not enough to spend the entire morning of your wedding at the hair salon. You could get your head exquisitely coifed, your nails painted to perfection, and your face powdered like a princess, and still, you could be missing a key ingredient to a beautiful bride.

That’s because these days all of the beautiful brides are wearing hair accessories as finishing touches to their makeup and their gown. These hair accessories don’t necessarily need to bring a lot of bling, or cost, to your wedding wardrobe. You can actually get the necessary effect with a minimum of cost and worry. In fact, choosing the perfect hair accessory for your special day can actually be a lot of fun.

The most popular hair accessory nowadays is probably the tiara. After all, only brides and Miss America get to wear one, so many ladies like to take their opportunity. Of course, the tiara accentuates the classic and regal look of a wedding gown. Your only choice with a tiara is making sure to pick one that matches the color and style of the gown.

An Alice band, the look of a medieval princess, is a eloquent option to a tiara. You can even request that your seamstress wrap the band with leftover fabric from your gown to ensure a perfect match. Or go completely regal with a full coronet. These queen’s crowns can be held in place by bunching your hair in its center or behind it. Or simply fasten to your hair with a pin.

For a more low-key look, many brides select beaded hair grips to provide the necessary hold to their locks, as well as a subtle fashion statement of their own. Combs are also an option, either highlighted with silk flowers, beads, or crystals.

Flowers are also an inexpensive and romantic option for your hair. For a summer wedding, fresh rose buds can complement the shade of your lipstick and the blush on your cheek. You can also discuss other flower options with your florist to match your particular tastes and the color and style of your gown. Then your florist can either design single wires with the flowers, or even a halo-like circlet to wear in your hair.

Whatever your choice, remember that a hair accessory is not meant to add one more thing to worry about on your wedding day. Instead, it’s meant to make you feel more comfortable and more attractive, and allow the inner you to shine through—whether this inner you is Miss America or a princess!

5 tips for a photo-finish wedding

Weddings can take a year to plan, but only a few moments to take place. That’s the bittersweet truth about these events. They are one of the most momentous occasions in our lives, yet they pass faster than Christmas when we were kids. Luckily, we spend the big bucks to keep proof for posterity—photographs and, more recently, videos of the occasion. This makes choosing the right photographer and videographer crucial for saving the images of your perfect day.

It doesn’t make spending a small fortune on one necessarily worth it either, however. The key is finding a well-known expert who won’t charge you an arm and a leg for his or her services. The key, in other words, is following these five steps to acquiring the perfect photography services.

The first step, as with any of your vendors, is research and careful consideration. Ask around to all of your friends and relatives who have had a recent wedding, or know somebody who has. Read your local society magazines and newspapers to look for wedding write ups and advertisements. Even consider contacting your better business bureau for names of trusted, and untrustworthy, photographers.

Once you have a short list, go in for the first impressions. You shouldn’t give off the impression that you’re interviewing the man or woman, but that’s exactly what you’re doing. When you meet with the photographer, try to get a feel for his or her personality. Do they seem like they could get along with your guests, or would they get under every one’s skin? How is the photographer dressed for your meeting—to impress or as if they just got out of bed? You can ask what the photographer will wear to your wedding, but chances are, if he or she is a slouch in business meetings, the photographer won’t be much better at the reception.

Your third tip is to see as many photos of other people’s weddings as possible. That will help you get a feel for the photographer’s style and help narrow the field down even further. See whether he or she shoots for candid photos, or more often than not gets the standard group and posed shots. Just as importantly, these portfolios will help you gauge the photographer’s experience level.

Be sure as well to ask whether or not the main photographer will actually be attending your function. The truth with many large companies is that they could actually send a pinch hitter to your ceremony instead of the number one guy. Make sure this isn’t an unsaid part of the bargain.

Speaking of the bargain, be sure to get specifics from all your perspective choices. You have everything down in writing before you sign on any dotted line, from the number of photos you’re entitled, to when you will actually receive the finished product, to the overall price including any contingency fees.

Grow beautiful wedding bouquets for less

Florists are like hair dressers. The best out there share your vision of what you want, and help you achieve your dream. The worst out there take your vision, toss it in the trash, and give you what they think should be your dream. Though their arrangements may look appealing, they aren’t what you wanted, or expected. But unlike a bad hairdo, terrible floral arrangements at your wedding won’t just “grow out.” You’ll be stuck with the memories for the rest of your life, not to mention the bill.

Your only hope, then, of ensuring you get your dream floral arrangements at your budget is to be very specific. Of course, as with all of your vendors for your wedding, you need to be very choosey from the get-go. Contact friends and family who have had weddings in the recent past and build a list of prospective florists. Research and interview your short list to narrow your selection down. Even when you whittle your list down to only one florist—and even if this florist comes with lofty credentials—you still need to be very particular about what you want and need.

You may not be a botanist, or know the difference between a hydrangea or a hibiscus. But you know what color combinations you like, right? And you probably have an eye for the shape of the flowers you want. Be sure to find these color combinations and specific looks in magazines and in other photographs. Bring a whole collage of the flowers you like with you when you meet with your florist, along with a whole collage of those you do not want.

A great place to find these pictures is in the florist’s own portfolio. Of course, you can’t tear these photos out, but you sure can let the florist know which of her set arrangements do it for you.

Lastly, take advantage of the florist’s expertise, as well. You are paying her for more than just snipping flower stems. Fill her in on the details of your ceremony and reception, including the other decorations in the reception hall or church, the style and color of the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses, the color of the groom’s and groomsmen’s tuxes or suits, and any other detail that you have settled already. Based on this information and your tastes, your florist should be able to concoct some potential arrangements. Then remember to be very specific when selecting one of these arrangements for your final pick.

Catering on the cheap

People like food, and let’s be honest. It’s one of the main reasons that Cousin Ronnie and Aunt Mittsie even came to your ceremony. But that doesn’t mean you have to bust the bank to please these people with your reception menus. Many people invest thousands in special cakes, hundreds in icings, and even more on finger foods and salads. Wedding catering can be done right without spending a ton of cash, and without your guests even knowing that you cut a few corners.

Begin your cost-cutting measures with the first course of the night: the hors d'oeuvres. Typically, these little morsels come out during the cocktail hour of your reception, when people are trickling in from the church or temple. There’s a bit of confusion as people find their seats, race to the bar, and find out friends and relatives. Sure, they want a bite to eat in between all of this other activities. But they won’t notice if you only offer half the hors d'oeuvres as you originally intended. For instance, serving only five types instead of ten won’t cause a ruckus, while it could save you on the caterer’s bill.

Better yet, outsource your appetizers and other side dishes to willing friends and family. With the right dishes and serving utensils, your guests will never know that the salad, soup, and finger foods are actually home-cooked meals instead of the catered kind. And as long as your friends and family members are excellent chefs, no one will care even if they do know.

For main dishes that are catered, steer clear of selections that will take more time to prepare than they’re worth. Believe it or not, the caterer is working on labor costs just as your car mechanic would. If you select a hard to prepare dish, such as lobster, tenderloin, or certain fish, you could be jacking up your bill just with labor costs.

Finally, whatever you choose to order from a caterer, figure out the vendor’s small print costs. These usually include such figures as the “guaranteed number.” This is the minimum amount of guests that the caterer is basing his or her fee upon. If you actually have fewer guests than expected show up, you could wrack up extra costs for each person below this guaranteed number. There is a reason, after all, that wedding invites request an RSVP!
Brides have so much on their minds when it comes to planning their wedding that you can understand when they don’t have the time to consider all of their bridesmaids’ opinions when picking a dress. That holds true, of course, unless you’ve been a bridesmaid who was forced to wear an unattractive, or even hideous, dress at the behest of the bride. Such an uncomfortable scenario can lead to hurt feelings, shed tears, and even broken up friendships. What’s worse, this scenario happens all too often.

Still, it is your wedding after all. It’s your call to decide how your bridesmaids’ dresses will look when they’re standing up there near the alter with you. You get to decide what color the dress is, what cut is has, and, also, how much it’s going to cost your friends and family to purchase the dress. You can either be a dress dictator, or you can be a benevolent bride. In this era of Dr. Phil and goodwill, it’s best to lean toward the latter. It’ll save you a lot of heartache before and after your wedding day, and save your bridesmaids a bit of cash and frustration, too.

Start your bridesmaid dress hunt by being true to your own tastes. Just because you plan to try to accommodate everyone’s tastes and needs does not mean you have to completely sacrifice your own.

For instance, if your tastes are more traditional, that’s fine to stick to your images and dreams from when you were a little girl. Traditional, however, does not have to be old-fashioned. Think simple instead. Avoid frilly edges, ruffles, bows on the shoulder, and anything else that screams old-timey bridesmaid. Elegant, classic gowns can please even the most fashion conscious bridesmaid, and assure the most shy one, too. They cut a perfect picture when paired with your traditional wedding gown. Plus, your bridesmaid will be able to get other uses out of these gowns.

On the other hand, if you consider yourself more trendy and more loose when it comes to tradition, you could hand over the reigns directly to the bridesmaids. Your job in this case is to pick just the color of the dress, allowing each bridesmaid to choose her own style of dress. If this is too loosie-goosey, consider choosing a color and a general style, such as strapless or spaghetti string. Then allow your bridesmaids the choice to wear a scarf or shawl if they don’t feel completely comfortable.

Tricks and traps in selecting tuxedos

Tuxedos often do not get the credit they deserve. Just as much as the bride’s gown, they can mae or break a wedding ceremony. To understand what I mean, just imagine the groom wearing a bright orange bowtie and vest to match his favorite football team’s colors. Or worse yet, think powder blue. You get my point. The wrong tuxedo can cause shame and pain for as long as the wedding photos are still around. So it’s essential to invest as much time into renting, or buying, them, as you would in the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses.

Start your search by scouring bridal magazines, local tuxedo shops, and even men’s fashion magazines. If your man protests, invite him in on the process. Let him feel that he has as much control as he needs. But remember, in the long run it’s typically the bride who gives the final thumbs up on all tuxedo choices. This makes sense, tell him, since the groom doesn’t typically know what the bridal dresses will look like. Plus, even if he did, chances are he wouldn’t know how to match tuxedos to them.

If your man still puts up a fight and demands more independence, get a compromise out of him. Permit him to venture to a tuxedo store on his own, but “request” that you, his mother, your mother, or at least a trusted friend go with him. This will protect you against orange-shaded whims, polka dots, or any other tuxedo trap.

Whatever you decide, be sure to do it well in advance. Most experts recommend ordering your deciding upon and setting up your tuxedo orders within two to three months of the big event. Many big name tuxedo rental companies can accommodate tighter deadlines, but you don’t want to risk it. Spring weddings can run into conflicts with the thousands of proms taking place during the same time. And summer months are prime rental seasons for other weddings.

Finally, now that you can rest assured that your man will look good as you do, you want to be sure that his groomsmen look as good as your bridesmaids. This can be tricky if some of the boys are from out of town. This requires that you have them get fitted at their local tuxedo shops or tailors and then phone or mail the measurements into your tuxedo shop.

Be sure to have a set deadline for this process to be completed. Nudge your fiancée to occasionally remind the two friends who wait to the last minute. Otherwise, you could be looking at a best man with pant cuffs around his calves, or a jacket too tight to breathe in. That won’t be a pretty site walking down the aisle.

When wedding receptions go wrong

When wedding receptions go wrong

Let’s face it. Wedding receptions are complex social events that could justify the expense of a special wedding planner. They require careful consideration for every little detail, from the centerpieces to each table to the food served on those tables, from the alcohol served at the bar to the DJ helping to burn off this booze. The fact is, though, most people can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money on a professional wedding planner. That’s leaves them to work out these details on their own.

That also leaves them open to making a ton of mistakes on their own. For with each decision comes a possible blunder. Here are the most common mistakes that young couples make when organizing their special day, and the ways to avoid them.

The bar. Most people agree to purchasing bar plans from the hotel or facility where they are having the event. While many places make you choose one of these plans, if you can avoid them, please do. They charge exorbitant rates per bottle, and will charge you at the end of the night for a bottle that was opened for the very last drink. Instead, try to “cater” the bar yourself with bottles from a wholesaler. You get the best prices. Plus, believe it or not, many wholesalers allow you to return half used bottles.

The rentals. It can be easier to rely on your caterer to bring all of tables, chairs, and tents that you need for your festivities. It can be a lot more money, as well. If you can manage it, or if you can finagle a friend or relative to do the job, pick up these items yourself from a rental store. Caterers typically act as middle men, and could be renting the equipment from the very same store.

The time. For class and ambience, it’s hard to beat an evening reception. It is also difficult, though, to pay back the costs of one, too. An early afternoon or mid-afternoon party can be just as charming and memorable as any one in the dark, especially if you can work a sunset into the mix. You will also save on catering costs—since luncheons are cheaper—and on drinks—since people get less tipsy generally at daytime functions.

The service. Another way to save on food is to spend a couple extra bucks on servers. Typically, receptions feature serve yourself buffet lines, which invites waste and stretch not only waist lines, but your budget, too. Wait staff who bring food to the table or serve it from behind the buffet line can cut down on this waste. If your guests want a second helping, they can always ask for more.