Saving Money On Wedding Flowers

Brides and grooms have had a beautiful wedding and save money on their wedding flowers. A few ideas to help prevent brides and grooms from going over budget on their wedding.

Use Alternate Forms of Decorations

Fortunately, there is more than one way to create drama for a wedding ceremony or reception. Decorating with an abundance of flowers is beautiful but expensive. Candles are beautiful when they are combined with low lighting. Combining candles with rocks, colored sand, or mirrors can create dramatic centerpieces without the expense of flowers. Omitting flowers doesn't mean that a bride has to exclude all types of greenery. Grasses and fruits can liven up a room and add a pop of color to any venue.

Keep the Types of Flowers to a Minimum

Using multiple kinds of flowers increases the price of floral decorations. Weddings that utilize a variety of flowers typically have larger budgets for a good reason. If multiple flowers are imported, the additional cost is transferred to the bride and groom. Couples that keep the types of flowers to a minimum can save a lot more money on their flower budget.

Use Flowers in Season

Using flowers in season may be the easiest way a couple can save money on their flower budget.

Some flowers that are in season are as follows:

     Spring - tulip, apple blossom and heather
     Summer - cornflower, lily-of-the-valley and sweet pea
     Fall/Autumn - sunflower, dahlia and morning glory
     Winter - snowdrop, calla lily and holly berries

Some flowers that are available in multiple seasons are as follows:

     Available year-round - chrysanthemum and iris
     Available during spring and summer - daisy
     Available during spring and autumn - lily
     Available during the spring, autumn and winter - orchid
     Available in summer and autumn - rose

Make Flowers Do Double Duty

Many brides have flowers for the ceremony and flowers for the reception. Yet, it is not uncommon for the venue to throw the flower arrangements away or donate them once the ceremony is over. Brides should speak to their florists and ask them if they can use the ceremony flowers for the reception or use specific flowers to enhance the reception decor. For example, a florist can take some rose petals and use them to enhance a tablescape or add a few roses to the wedding cake.

Building a beautiful reception is easy, and brides and grooms don't have to go broke to do it.


Saving Money On Wedding Invitations

It's possible to find inexpensive wedding invitations online, buy kits in stationery stores, or to do it yourself by printing your own invite on beautiful, organic paper.

Weddings can be horrifyingly expensive, and no one likes to waste money when it could be better spent elsewhere. Instead of blowing thousands of dollars on personalized wedding invitations that are going to end up in the garbage, consider these money-saving ways to get the elegant wedding invitations you want without blowing the bank… on that part of the wedding, at least.

If you're going for the extravagant white wedding, you may feel it's necessary to have specially printed invitations made by an invitation designer or a stationery store. But if you're doing anything other than the big white princess dress, 500 guests, and dozens of floral centerpieces, there's room to explore other options for your invitations.

Personalized Designer Invitations versus Premade Invites

One of those options is to use premade, inexpensive invitations that can be found at most office and stationery stores. Contrary to what you might think, there are some very elegant premade invitations that only take a bit of work to look just like the expensive, professionally printed ones.

These inexpensive invitations generally provide one piece to be printed with your wedding details and personal message, as well as a backing or framing paper, and ribbons or decals to be added after printing. It may take several packages of invites and a substantial investment of time, but you'll potentially save thousands of dollars compared to designer wedding invitations.

Do-It-Yourself Wedding Invitations

It's equally possible to start from scratch and design your own wedding invitations at home. All it takes is some really beautiful stationery or fine silk or bamboo paper to produce stunning, one of a kind, do it yourself printed wedding invitations.

You can print them yourself or have a photocopy store design a simple template for you and print on your paper of choice. Make sure you can find envelopes that match the paper before you get attached to particular stationery for your wedding invitations.

Inexpensive Wedding Invitations Online

It's also possible to find some stunning discounts on wedding supplies online, including budget wedding invitations. It may take some time and effort to track down the best deals on wedding invites online, but you're almost certain to find lower prices than you'd see in stores. The one disadvantage is that you won't be able to hold sample invitations in your hands or examine a mock-up copy before sending the invites to print, but you'll make up for this in big savings.

Use Your Wedding Invitations to Make an Environmental Statement

As a rule, weddings are big, expensive, resource-gobbling events – but it doesn't have to be so. There are ways to use your wedding invitations to show your love for the planet in little ways that can increase awareness:

     Print your invitations on recycled paper, or select a premade design that notes on the back of the invitation that the contents were recycled.
     Do it yourself invites can be printed on organic cotton or bamboo paper, or made out of paper with wildflower seeds embedded in it. Make sure to include instructions to your guests to plant the invitation once they're through with it and watch it grow!
     Make a donation to a reforestation group or green power fund to offset the energy "cost" of your wedding… and ask your guests, on your invitation, to do the same.

The Hardest Part Of Wedding Planning

Confused on what to do now that you have the ring? From a former bride who planned her own wedding, here's a list of some difficult obstacles and how to overcome them.

What is traditionally known as the most difficult aspect of wedding planning? The answer isn't concrete, but there are several standout factors. From the budget to the guest list, a bride's agenda can start off with more questions than answers. To alleviate a little bit of that infamous wedding stress, here's a short guide of basics.

Different Types of Wedding Vendors

There are several vendors that may come into play when planning one's wedding:

        * Caterer
        * Cake bakery
        * Dress shop
        * DJ/band/musician
        * Photographer/Videographer
        * Florist
        * Jewelry store for rings
        * Wedding insurance
        * Hair/makeup artist(s)
        * Invitation store
        * Venue
        * Officiant
        * Studio for dance lessons

This lengthy list can seem overwhelming, and while in that state of mind, it might seem impossible to make some key choices. Luckily there is an expert for just this purpose.

What a Wedding Planner Does

The job of the wedding planner depends on the span of time he/she is hired for. Some are only there for the day of the wedding for vendor confirmation and a smooth transition of events. Others are there every step of the way to accompany the couple to meetings, take the reigns with vendor negotiations, and keep track of the budget.

A bride's choice of planner depends on her budget's elasticity. A wedding planner's fees can range anywhere from a flat rate of $500 for the sole task of securing a venue, to 10-15% of the entire wedding budget.

Who Pays for a Wedding?

The budget is arguably one of the most difficult facets of wedding planning, and it is the very first thing a couple should discuss when embarking upon the planning process. This will lay the groundwork for the entire wedding.

First, the future Mr. and Mrs. should figure out the source of the money. Traditionally, the bride's parents paid for wedding expenses, with the groom's parents covering the cost of the rehearsal dinner. Present times have changed this formula a bit because the cost of weddings has skyrocketed. Now, it is not uncommon for the couple themselves to pay for the entire cost of the wedding. It is also popular for the bride and groom's parents to split the check, or all three parties to pay one third each.

Brides that don't have to monitor their budget are lucky! But for those ladies with limited finances, or just a desire to not spend more than is absolutely necessary, there are plenty of great ideas to save money throughout the wedding planning process.

Guest List Etiquette

Another central, and oft-times taxing, part of wedding planning is creating the guest list. Making one is never simple, especially for weddings on the larger end. There is always the possibility of what's known as the spider web effect.

For example, Peter invites his old roommate from college Antwon to his wedding, but not their mutual friend Bob. Antwon calls Bob and asks if he will be in attendance, making the assumption that he has also received an invitation. Bob is confused and hurt, realizing he was left off the guest list. One has to be extremely careful about the spider web effect because it can alter long-term relationships between a bride and her friends, family, and co-workers.

The Big Day and What it Means

When dealing with vendors, situations can get overwhelming. It is important to remember whose day it is, not the vendors. Always keep in mind that a professional wedding planner can step in and provide assistance.

Just like a marriage is unique to its partners, the most difficult obstacle in planning a wedding may differ from couple to couple. And while speed-bumps can arise during the planning process, it is important to find a middle ground. The most treasured part of the big day is not in the details of the day itself, but in the meaning behind it, and the future of who it's being shared with.



Wedding Etiquette For Brides

When people think of etiquette, they often imagine stuffy grandmas and repressive Victorians. But wedding etiquette isn’t there to stifle you— it’s there to make sure everyone is still speaking to one another after the big day. As you prepare for your wedding, it doesn’t hurt to remember a few simple social rules.

Gifts Are Gifts, Not Fees

Registries are a great way to let people know what sorts of things you’d like as wedding gifts. But remember gifts, while they are often given and very much appreciated, are never mandatory for wedding guests to bring. Never demand gifts or ask a guest why they didn’t purchase you something. Gifts are gifts, not entrance fees.

When registering at specific stores, it is never appropriate to list your registries on your wedding invitations, even if you only include this information on an insert. This information should only be passed on by word-of-mouth via your closest friends and family members or through shower invitations. In fact, the Emily Post Institute suggests that registry information should only be included in an insert to the shower invitations, and never on the actual invitation.

Never specify on any invitation that you would prefer money instead of actual gifts. If you really would rather have the cash, casually inform the people close to you (your parents, your siblings, your close friends), so they can mention it if anyone asks.

Every single gift received must be acknowledged by a written thank-you note— no verbal substitutes allowed! For gifts received before the wedding (including at the shower), thank-you notes should be sent at least two weeks after receiving the gift; for gifts sent after the wedding, you have three weeks after you return from your honeymoon.

Guests

When you invite guests to your wedding, specify exactly who is invited on the envelope. Don’t write “Mr. Will Watson and Guest” if you really wanted to invite Mr. Watson and his girlfriend. It’s not that hard to pick up the phone, call Mr. Watson or someone close to him, and inquire as to the name of his current squeeze.

Address envelopes using your guests’ preferred titles— not as you think they should be known. Don’t write “Mr. And Mrs. Will Watson” if you know Will’s wife goes by “Ms.” and her maiden name.

Your wedding party should all receive actual invitations to the wedding, even if they already know all of the details.

Relatives and Money

Contrary to popular belief, etiquette does not demand that certain people pay for certain things, with the bride’s parents paying for the wedding and the groom’s parents paying for the rehearsal dinner. These are common situations but are not mandated by etiquette. The wedding should be hosted by whoever would most like to have the honor— and that means either set of parents, the couple themselves, or even other family members or close friends.

However, etiquette does demand that, should you have a bridal shower, that shower is not thrown or hosted by a member of your immediate family (such as your mother or sister). Future family members (your fiancé’s sister, for example) are acceptable, but friends are the most palatable choice.

It’s Not All About You

Brides today say an awful lot of silly things: “It’s all about me,” “It’s my day,” or even “I should be able to have [object] at my wedding because I’m the bride.” Etiquette does not recognize bridal tyranny, no matter how temporary. It demands that you take into consideration the feelings of your guests, your family, and your friends, not just your own whims.

Save On Your Wedding Reception

Cost-effective ideas to personalize and brighten up your wedding or civil ceremony reception venue. It can also be used for any special event, such as anniversaries.



Don't let (lack of) finances hold you back from celebrating your big day in style. Have you ever thought of holding your reception or party in a venue such as a town hall or community center?



It is not just the modest hire fee that is attractive. Perhaps this was the venue for your parents' marriage. Maybe you do not want to go down the well-worn path of pub, bar, or hotel, feeling such a space is a little too impersonal.



With a little thought and minimal preparation, it is possible – without breaking the bank – to transform a plain hall into a magical, welcoming space that is perfect for celebrating your big day. Here are some ideas to get you started:



Table Decorations



Make your tables look elegant and classy, and the eye will be drawn to them and away from less aesthetically pleasing items such as fire exit signs. Remember that your guests will be dressed up to the nines, which will only add to the effect.



Banquet Roll



This cost-efficient and convenient alternative to tablecloths is an absolute must. Banquet roll is high quality embossed paper table covering. It transforms cheap stacking tables into presentable dining tables.



Cutlery and Crockery Hire



Don't bother trying to borrow plates, bowls, and cutlery from friends and family – it is a logistical nightmare, as well as ruining the classy impression that you are trying to create. Instead, hire these items. Many firms also offer a washing up service afterward for a small fee.



Choose simple and classic crockery – plain white is a foolproof choice. Set against banquet roll, it is reminiscent of the understated décor of a high-class restaurant.



Decorations



Chinese Lanterns



These look pretty strung overhead along the width of the hall – over the stage if there is one. Be aware that fire regulations probably prohibit lighting tea lights inside them – however, unlit tea lights help to weigh them down, so they hang properly.



Family Photos



Why not replace the pictures in the hall with your own for the evening? The bigger, the better. Consider baby and toddler photos, portraits of previous generations, or your parents' own wedding pictures. This may be a good time to properly frame that photo of you winning first prize at the school fun run!



Lighting



Because the lighting in these venues is often harsh, it is a good idea to invest a little in softer lighting that will add atmosphere to your celebration. Candles and tea lights are a timeless solution – but, do check fire regulations, especially if you are placing them on banquet roll.



Small table lamps can be found for next to nothing. Make sure you check that there are enough electrical points and that you arrange some of the tables next to these sockets.



Try to borrow a couple of up-lighters for the corners of the room. Again, they are not expensive to buy if you look around.

A Guide To Hiring A Wedding Planner

Friend, advocate, therapist, vendor expert, negotiator, and style consultant are all words that describe one of the most important people in the wedding planning process.

If a couple is going to hire a wedding planner, they should hire this person before any other vendors. The wedding planner will help the couple choose other vendors and give vendor suggestions. Couples should avoid wedding planners that can’t work within their budget and don’t seem concerned with their opinions.

Who Needs a Wedding Planner?

Some couples are able to plan their own wedding and don’t need the services of a wedding consultant. However, many couples should consider hiring a planner, even if it’s just for the day of the wedding. If a couple fits in one of the following categories, they should consider hiring a wedding planner:

     A couple is planning a destination wedding.
     A couple planning an outdoor wedding in a location such as a beach or public garden where almost everything will have to be rented.
     A couple planning a large wedding with more than two hundred guests.
     A couple who can’t set aside ten to twenty hours a week for planning the event, especially as the wedding date approaches.

What does a Wedding Planner do?

There are different types of wedding planning services, such as day-of wedding planners for the couple who can do most of the planning themselves, a partial-event planner, and a full-service wedding planner.

Basically, couples will get what they pay for when it comes to wedding planners. A couple who spends one thousand dollars for a full-service wedding coordinator will receive different services than a couple who spends five thousand dollars. It’s up to the couple to decide what they want their wedding planner to do and negotiate for it in the contract. Here are some planning services a couple can ask about:

     Assisting the couple arranging and sticking to the budget
     Recommending and hiring vendors
     Negotiating vendor prices
     Reminding couples about deposit due dates
     Assisting with the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
     Helping the bride shop for a gown and bridesmaid dresses
     Selecting invitations and keeping track of the guest list
     Assisting the couple in making the theme of the wedding come alive
     Attending the tastings and helping with menu selections
     Creating welcome bags and favors
     Arranging the wedding weekend for destination weddings

Cost of a Wedding Planner

Planners charge for their services in different ways. A planner could charge a flat fee for a certain amount of hours, flat fee based on the couple’s plans, or a percentage of the cost of the wedding. Couples should be wary of a planner charging based on the percentage of the wedding cost, because she may drive costs to increase her payout.

Every couple should be sure to read carefully read over a wedding planner’s contract and ask any questions that arise before signing. The amount of the deposit and what services it will cover should be clearly stated on the contract.

When a couple is hiring a wedding planner, they should consider the different types of wedding consultants, the services the wedding planner will provide, and the cost.


Inexpensive Wedding Ideas

More and more brides realize that you don't have to spend a fortune to have a fabulous wedding. Here are a few great wedding favor ideas for money-conscious brides!

When you're planning a low-budget wedding, it's tempting to skip favors altogether. After all, when you're planning it all out in your head, favors seem so much less important than the cake or the dress.

But favors can be a lovely way to say "thank you" to your guests for making an effort to be there for your day. And inexpensive favors can be just as nice as overpriced ones.

Here are some ideas for easy-on-your-bank-account favors:

Homemade Food

Food favors are incredibly popular, mostly because they're useful (nobody's going to throw away a free brownie, right?), and they can be taken home and eaten by guests later. They can also be made in bulk fairly easily, which makes them great for weddings with lots of guests.

For a fall wedding, jams or jellies can make great favors. Collect and save canning jars from yard sales or flea markets a couple of months beforehand, then make batches of a few different flavors of jam or jelly and decorate the jars with ribbons.

Baked goods make great favors, too. Homemade brownies, cookies, or candies are yummy and can be customized to fit your wedding theme or style.

Useful Favors

Favors are especially fun when they can actually be used at the wedding! Bubble wands are popular favors these days since guests can use bubble-blowing as an eco-friendly alternative to throwing rice or confetti at the newly married couple. Just drop by a dollar store or pharmacy and pick up some cheap plastic bubble wands (usually sold in the children's toy section). Then you can either purchase a large jug of commercially made bubble soap, or you can make your own using an online recipe. Pour the soap into small ball jars or recycled glass bottles, and attach a plastic bubble wand to each jar using a nice ribbon or, for a more rustic look, some hemp twine.

Disposable cameras are also great favors, as they allow your guests to play photographer at the wedding. Lots of bridal stores sell cheap bridal-themed cameras; keep your eyes open for special seasonal sales and deals, especially since many bridal websites and stores will give you better prices if you buy in bulk. Your guests will have a great time taking pictures at the reception, and you can swipe their negatives and make your own copies of their photos. It's a cheap and easy way to turn every guest into your own professional photographer!

Get Creative!

Why not use your own personal hobbies or talents to make wedding favors? For example, if you end up spending a lot of time choosing the music for the wedding, make mix CDs that include your favorite songs. If you have a small or intimate wedding where most of the guests are friends with one another or are related, you could make DVDs from home movies of times you all spent together. Just buy large numbers of CDs or DVDs at any mass-market retailer (like Wal-Mart or Target) and then use a CD or DVD burner (borrow one if you don't own one) to make your CDs or movies. If you're good at making crafty things, you could make bookmarks, jewelry, or small bags for everyone.

Favors aren't the most important part of the wedding, but they do serve a nice purpose, and they don't have to break the bank. Just be creative, flexible, and resourceful in your planning, and you'll have guests telling you, "I wish I'd thought of that myself!"



Inexpensive Wedding Favors

You want it all: the dress, the flowers, the big wedding budget. But just because you're strapped for cash, it doesn't mean your dream wedding is out of reach.

You've met the love of your life. You're engaged! The ring's on her finger; the pride is on his face. And now what? Before "Here Comes The Bride," there's here comes the planning... and the handing over of the cash to the many vendors that will help you put together that perfect day.

Not to worry. There are countless ways to stretch that dollar. Finding inexpensive ways to personalize your perfect day will not only relieve you of major financial stress, but you'll have a great time doing it.

The invitations

No need to sift through album after album of pricey invites at that fancy "paperie" to send out to your loved ones and guests. You don't really need the multi-layered paper and gold seal, do you? If you're the creative type, visit an office supply store or craft shop where you can purchase blank cards in bulk.

With a small arsenal of stamping supplies (also available at craft stores, and even dollar stores), you can create gorgeous wedding invites of your own, at a fraction of the cost. Some stationery shops also carry wedding invitation kits, which contain everything you need to create and send out your invitations.

The gown

Bridal shops have clearance sections, too; since many shops offer alterations at zero or minimal cost, you can look for a dress in a variety of sizes and rest assured it can be altered to fit you. If you've found a designer dress, you just have to have, seek out a trusted seamstress and see if she can replicate the design.

The location

Not everyone can (or wants to, for that matter) get married in a castle. Think of your favorite haunts as a couple, or places you've been to and loved, like a park where you might have shared a picnic; a small, independently owned art gallery; an old theater with unmatched atmosphere and history. They're less likely to get booked for weddings and parties, and will likely have a smaller price tag than the area's finest country club or banquet hall.

The favors

Yes, you can give away simple, lovely wedding favors - those special treats given to guests as a thank you for sharing in the day - without breaking the bank. Some ideas include wrapping a few Hershey's kisses in little satchels (purchased at the dollar store) and tied with ribbon or raffia; homemade cookies or chocolate molds in the shape of a bride and groom; or a votive candle placed inside a shot glass. Keep in mind that personalized favors will cost a little more than generic items.



Including Pets In A Wedding

Many people want to include their four-legged family members at their wedding. Here are a few ideas about how to include cats and dogs at the wedding.

To many people, pets are just as much a part of the family as humans. Finding ways to include pets in a wedding can be challenging, especially if the selected venue is less than cooperative. Still, there are ways to include furry friends in just about any wedding.

Bouquet Alternative

If the venue allows pets, there will, obviously, be many more options available. One such option is to forgo the traditional bridal bouquet and instead carry a dog or cat down the aisle. This will work best with a small, well-behaved dog or a very docile cat.

Tie a ribbon around the pet's neck and arrange to have someone take over dog-sitting duties upon the bride's arrival at the altar.

Ring Bearer

Another fun idea for including a pet in a wedding at a venue that allows pets is to have the dog act as the ring bearer.

This has become quite a popular option among those who want to include their pet in a wedding. Simply fashion a ring bearers pillow with ribbon so that it will tie securely around the dog's belly. Tie the rings onto the pillow and send the dog down the aisle.

Again, this will work best with an obedient dog. It was a perfect choice when the dog belonged to the groom because the ring bearer will make his appearance before the bride. It will be completely natural for the ring bearing dog to head straight down the aisle towards his master.

Cake

While there are some venues that will happily allow pets to be present at the wedding, many will not. In that case, it calls for a bit more creativity in order to find ways to include pets in weddings. The cake is one way to do that.

Some choose a cake topper featuring dogs or cats that resemble their pets. Another option is to find a baker that can create sugar figures modeled after the bride or groom's pets. Take it a step further and have the entire cake carved in the shape of the pets.

Keep in mind that if this is not done very well, it may detract from the overall look of the wedding. If a couple likes this idea but is reluctant to have an animal-themed cake for their wedding cake, another option is to have a traditional wedding cake and then order the cake featuring the pets as a groom's cake.

Greeters

If the animals cannot be there in the flesh, they can still greet every guest that enters the venue. Copy shops, such as Kinkos, can make life-size cardboard cutouts from most high-quality digital photographs. This typically costs than $100 to complete.

Place the cutouts by the door where the guests will enter. Some couples dress their pets in formal wear so that when they greet the entering guests, they will be dressed appropriately.

Photo Shoot

Consider having a photoshoot, including the couple and the pets prior to the wedding. If the bride does not want the groom to see her dress, this will not be an option, but she could still take pictures of the bride and groom with the pets separately.

Make the photos from the shoot into a video montage that can be played throughout the reception.

Not every idea about how to include pets in a wedding will appeal to every couple. But for those who do not mind things a bit quirky, there are many ways to include the pets on the big day.



Do It Yourself Wedding Planning

In this economy, brides are turning to their inner organizer and crafter when it comes to planning their wedding. The do it yourself wedding is becoming popular.

Many brides are sending out invitations, which they have designed, and put together themselves. Centerpieces and other decorations are being put together by the bride and groom on a Friday night while watching a movie and eating pizza. Plus, brides are taking it upon themselves to design, plan, and put together their special day instead of hiring professional help (i.e., consultant, planner, decorator).

The Do-It-Yourself Wedding Decision

If having a do-it-yourself wedding is truly something you believe you can do all on your own, then do it. It makes the wedding so much more special. Just knowing you put it all together, including creating the decorations and invitations, gives it a personal touch no professional can offer.

Do-It-Yourself Wedding Issues

However, the do-it-yourself wedding comes with other issues. Stress! Sure, you may feel some self-satisfaction knowing you completed a job well done, but you will also feel the stress of doing it all yourself. The more of your wedding planning you do, the more stress you will encounter.

Do-It-Yourself Questions to Ask Yourself

So is a do it yourself wedding really for you and your soon-to-be spouse? It is a difficult decision that only you can make. Do not let family or friends push you into hiring a consultant you cannot afford. Or on the other hand, guilt you into not spending a lot of money by making your own centerpieces, and you are really not creative at all. If you do something you do not feel comfortable doing, it will only add to your stress and make your day not so special.

Below is a mini-checklist to see if a do-it-yourself wedding is right for you. If you answer "yes" to a majority of the questions, then definitely this is a project you can handle. If you answer "no" to about 25 percent of the questions, you may need a little bit of professional help. However, if you answer "no" to more than 50 percent of the questions, you should definitely seek professional help the minute he pops the question.

        1. Are you crafty?
        2. If needed, will your fiancé help out?
        3. Will he give update night to help put the centerpieces together?
        4. Do you have time to put things together?
        5. Are you able to stay calm in stressful situations?
        6. Are you organized?
        7. Do you have family or friends who will be willing to help? Especially without giving their input?
        8. Are you creative?
        9. Can you create something out of nothing?
        10. Do you consider yourself a good party planner?
        11. Do you love to plan parties?

You will also want to ask yourself if you want help with part of your wedding planning or all of it. Many wedding sites offer a variety of services, which may help you with your planning, but still allow you to do most of the work. Others, like the Wedding Pavilion at Walt Disney World, offer full service giving you peace of mind during planning. However, it comes with a hefty price tag with it.

There are so many more questions to consider, but these are the top questions to consider. If you cannot answer "yes" to these, trust me, a do-it-yourself wedding is not for you. However, on the other hand, if you answered "yes" to all of the questions, then you definitely need to become a bridal consultant!

Have fun planning your wedding, and remember, it will be a day you will remember forever; make it as special as you can!



Choosing The Perfect Wedding Venue

Choosing the right wedding venue is one of the most important elements of preparation for the big day, whether it be a church, a registry office, or elsewhere.

Apart from the bride’s dress and the contents of the best man’s speech, the wedding venue is likely to be one of the elements that guests remember most at a wedding. There are many wedding venues around the world, and choosing the right wedding venue is vitally important. There are several factors and criteria to consider before a reservation is made.

Allow Plenty of Time

This is a very important decision to be made, and should not be left until the last minute. The bride and groom should begin looking for a suitable venue at least a year before the wedding date to allow time to visit as many potential locations as possible and make a decision without pressure.

Ensure the Venue is Compatible With the Number of Guests

Whenever a potential wedding venue is being investigated, the bride and groom must always bear in mind the number of guests that will be attending; this will dictate a number of items, such as the size of the ceremony hall, or the location of the dance floor.

If a venue is chosen, which is too small, guests may feel claustrophobic and awkward. If the venue is too large, then the intimacy of the wedding is lost. The size of the venue is, therefore, an important factor to consider when choosing a wedding venue. The betrothed couple should also enquire about whether the parking areas are sufficient for the number of guests expected.

Consider the Location of the Venue

This may seem obvious, but is an important attribute to consider when deciding upon a wedding venue. If guests are coming from afar, the venue should be close enough to major transport links so that it is easy to get to. However, the immediate setting of the venue is also of utmost importance, and the bride and groom are advised to consider the grounds of the venue, whether they are suitable for guests to congregate in, and if they would provide a beautiful backdrop for the wedding photographs.

The engaged couple will also need to make a choice as to whether the reception will be held in the same venue as the ceremony. If so, consideration should be given to whether there is adequate space; if not, the location of the reception should be fairly close to the wedding venue, to avoid a lengthy journey.

Enquire Regarding the Venue’s Menu

The dining experience of the wedding day is often overlooked, with the main areas of attention being focused elsewhere. The bride and groom should ask to see a copy of the menu and enquire as to the range of dishes offered. If there are likely to be guests attending with special dietary requirements, the ability of the venue to accommodate this should be ascertained before any decision is made.

Take a Camera to All Viewings

The bride and groom should ensure that they take a notepad and a camera with them to each viewing that is carried out. This will enable an informed and educated decision to be made when all shortlisted venues have been visited.

The betrothed couple should also endeavor to ask as many questions as possible during each visit. A reputable hotelier will be pleased to answer all queries.

Instinct Should be Trusted

Many couples will make a decision on a venue within the first few minutes of arriving and should trust any initial reactions. However, all venues should be visited with an open mind and a willingness to see both the benefits and drawbacks of the location with regards to suitability for the big day.

Enquire Regarding Other Events

One of the questions that should always be asked upon visiting any prospective venue is whether or not there is another event scheduled for the same day. This could be another wedding, or perhaps an alternative arrangement, but the bride and groom should consider the appropriateness of another event being held at the same time or on the same day as the wedding day, as this may disappoint guests and spoil the proceedings.

Many a wedding day has been spoilt through a bad choice of venue. Alternatively, the location of a wedding can provide the perfect backdrop for some wonderful memories of an incredible day. Choosing the venue is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and the bride and groom should think carefully before reaching a final conclusion, listing the advantages and disadvantages of each venue to ensure that the choice made is the correct one.



Are Wedding Planners Really Necessary

Hiring a wedding planner can seem like a good idea when considering all of the work and stress that goes into planning weddings, but are wedding planners really worth it?

Wedding planning is a huge undertaking, and many couples think they do not have the time or skill to plan the perfect wedding. They begin to feel overwhelmed and wish that they had someone to facilitate the entire process for them. This is when the couple starts to think that hiring a wedding planner might be a good idea. While hiring a wedding planner will definitely make planning less work for the bride and groom, it may not be worth the money for every couple.

What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

Wedding planners perform a variety of functions. They come up with original ideas based on a theme, concept, or general feeling from their clients. They execute their clients’ ideas. They negotiate with vendors to get their clients the best deal possible. They assemble favors and/or centerpieces. They make sure their clients stay within their budget. They run weddings and receptions and make sure everything goes smoothly. They deal with any problems that occur, so the bride and groom do not have to worry about anything. Basically, a wedding planner will handle anything related to the wedding.

How Much Do Wedding Planners Charge?

As with any job, the cost of a wedding planner depends on their individual experience. However, the average amount of planner charges is about 15-20 percent of the total cost of the wedding. If the wedding planner is just starting out, they may charge less. Likewise, if the planner has many years of experience under their belt, they may charge more.

The Pros of Hiring a Wedding Planner

There are many benefits to hiring a wedding planner. They include:

     Negotiation – If the bride and groom are not good negotiators, a wedding planner can help them get a better deal from their vendors.
     Experience – Wedding planners with a lot of experience will generally have better and more unique ideas to help the bride and groom have the wedding of their dreams.
     Budgeting – If money managing isn’t a skill the couple possesses, the wedding planner can help make sure they stay within their budget.
     Time – If the bride and groom both have busy jobs or lives, the wedding planner can save them a lot of time by meeting with the vendors and handling a majority of the tasks that come with planning a wedding.
     Reduce stress – The wedding planner can take care of any problems that occur when planning the wedding or during the wedding, which will make the experience more enjoyable for the bride and groom.
     Destination weddings – A destination wedding planner can be very helpful since, generally, the couple will not be able to fly out to the destination multiple times while planning the wedding. Having someone on-site in this case is basically a necessity.

The Cons of Hiring a Wedding Planner

There are some negative points to hiring a wedding planner, too. If the wedding budget is small, a wedding planner is another expense the bride and groom will have to factor in the total cost of the wedding. It can also be hard for some couples to relinquish control of the day to a third party. They have to be able to trust that another person will be able to translate their ideas into the wedding of their dreams.

While professional wedding planners can be very helpful when planning a wedding, they are not always necessary. Depending on the size of the wedding and budget, some couples may be able to plan the wedding themselves. Sometimes, a wedding planner can be hired to just handle part of the wedding, like just the reception or helping with vendors. The bride and groom should think about the size of their wedding and budget and their own skills before deciding to hire a wedding planner.



Checklist For The Wedding Reception

Weddings and receptions require planning, organization, and follow-through. The best way to keep track of everything is to have a checklist.

As the wedding day approaches, everything happens so quickly; it’s easy to forget or overlook something critical. It’s always a good idea to write everything down and cross it off the list as it gets done. Even if a wedding planner or bridal coordinator is involved, the bride and groom should know what is going on.

A Year Before the Wedding

Make decisions as early as possible. Interview prospective vendors and discuss with each other as well as family members who are involved in the process.

     Informal versus formal reception
     Indoor or outdoor wedding and reception
     Number of guests
     Date and time of reception
     Reception budget
     Cake tasting
     Alcohol or not
     What type of music—band or DJ
     Transportation from wedding to the reception
     Interview photographers and videographers
     Establish wedding registries

Go ahead and make reservations once everything is agreed upon. Most vendors will require a deposit with the contract.

     Reception location
     Caterer
     Bar service
     Band or DJ
     Limo service
     Photographer and videographer
     Baker for the wedding cake
     Florist
     Decorator

Many brides and grooms are setting up a wedding planning website and email list. This keeps everyone informed on the events as they unfold, without the concern of anyone being left out of the loop. If save-the-date magnets or cards are being used, send them four to six months before the wedding.

Six Months Before the Wedding

Some decisions need to be made in order to secure supplies and food.

     Discuss the menu, linens, decorations, tableware, and glassware with the banquet manager or caterer.
     Decide how to serve the food—sit-down dinner or buffet.
     Go over the cake cutting and how dessert will be served with the banquet manager.
     Discuss the bar arrangements if alcohol is served.
     Decide what to give guests as favors, if any. Place the order.
     Order all stationery that will be needed for the reception. This includes menus, printed napkins, and any other paper accessories.
     Make arrangements for linen rentals if needed.
     All other decorations should be decided on and ordered.

If the reception is held outdoors, there are other important considerations.

     Dance floor
     Tables and chairs
     Lighting—electric, tiki torches or candles
     Barbecue grills if not provided by the caterer

One Month Before the Wedding

Finalize plans and follow up with all the vendors to confirm.

     Photographer
     Videographer
     Seating plan for the head table
     Seating plan for parents of the bride and groom and their families
     Seating plan for guests
     Band or DJ song list

Plan the schedule for all events at the reception.

     Time and place of receiving line
     Introduction to the bridal party
     When to serve food
     Bar schedule
     When toasts will begin
     Who will speak
     Order of speakers
     When the music should begin
     Order of dances (bride and groom’s first dance, the bride and her father, etc.)
     Traditional dances
     Bouquet toss
     Garter toss
     Bride and groom’s getaway

A month before the wedding is also a good time to ask friends to assist with the guest book, guard the wedding gifts, and make sure the gifts are delivered to a designated location that is predetermined.

Make Copies

After everything has been decided, it’s a good idea to make copies for the bride, groom, their parents, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. If everyone is clear on their responsibilities, the event will run much more smoothly.


Choosing The Best Wedding Dress

Choosing the best wedding dress means knowing the most flattering style and shape. This guide to finding the dream bridal gown will make any woman look like a princess.

Shopping for a wedding dress is a fantastic feeling, but it can also be very frustrating. The dress that looks gorgeous on a willowy model in a magazine might not look so good in real life. The key thing is to emphasize all good points and minimize and disguise or cover those that are not so good.

Wedding Dress Style

Looking at magazines and going to bridal shows is a great start, but it is essential for the bride to know what style and shape will suit her best, and then focus on that. She should take her bridesmaid shopping with her for some objectivity as well as moral support.

Ball Gown Shaped Wedding Dress

Some wedding dresses have narrow or very thin straps, and some are strapless. The most popular is the ballgown shape: strapless with a fitted top into the waist and then a long full skirt. This is great for women with good shoulders and arms. Also good for taller women, not so good for shorter rounder girls who should go for a less cluttered look.

A-line Wedding Dress

A more flattering shape for all shapes and sizes is the A-line bridal gown. This style has wider straps, and the fabric falls softly from the shoulders, creating a simple silhouette with a flared hem. It can be floor length or shorter. Smaller women could look at a shorter length.

Princess Wedding Dress

The Princess shape is similar to the A-line, but the fabric is cut into panels so that the seams down the front follow the shape of the body. This creates a more sexy fitted look but does not have to be tight, and looks gorgeous on most body shapes.

Empire Line Bridal Gown

Empire line dresses have a high waistline that can look fabulous on all but those who have a bigger bust. The skirt skims over the hips and then flares slightly.

Asymmetrical Hemlines on Wedding Dress

Good legs could be shown off in an asymmetrical hemline with one side longer than the other. This is ideal for a modern wedding where the bride wants to make a statement.

Wedding Dress Hemlines

The classic wedding dress finishes a little over an inch from the floor. This is with shoes on. If wedding shoes have not yet been found, take shoes that have a comfortable heel when trying on dresses. This is the height the wedding shoes should be.

Bear in mind that a shorter skirt, even one that ends just above the ankles, means shoes or sandals are more on display.

Sleeves on Wedding Dresses

Generally, wedding dresses do not have sleeves, but for the bride who wants to cover her arms and for winter weddings, there is nothing wrong with long sleeves: fitted for slender arms and less so for those heavier limbs.

The most important thing is that the bride feels confident in the style and shape she has chosen, and that will be reflected in her smile.


A Guide To Saving Money On Wedding Favors

Savvy brides-to-be know that saving money during the wedding planning process is paramount. Wedding favors are one area where creative couples can save.

Wedding favors are typically small trinkets given to wedding guests as a gesture of thanks from the bride and groom. They sometimes include the couple's names and wedding date and can be kept as a keepsake. They may or may not reflect the couple's wedding theme and/or colors.

From the simple, such as matchbooks printed with the couple's names and date, to the more elaborate engraved wine glass, the type of favor will vary depending on the budget for the wedding. But while the thought of leaving guests with a memento of such a special day is lovely, breaking the bank to pay for it is not nearly as appealing.

How Much to Budget for Favors

If a couple has decided to provide favors for guests, the next step in the planning process is deciding on a budget. Factor in the cost of taxes, shipping, and personalization, multiply by the number of guests, and it is easy to see how favors could break the budget.

There will be some couples who decide that such a detail is not worth the added expense, but for those who wish to include them but don't have a lot to spend, here are three tips to keep the costs down:

Do It Yourself

Crafty brides are in luck – wedding favors lend themselves particularly well to being homemade. With some pretty cardstock, ribbon, and labels printed at home, it is easy to create a decorative box. Candy is relatively inexpensive and comes in a rainbow of colors to suit any theme or décor. Pop some in the box, affix a decorative label printed with the couple's names and the wedding date, and voila.

Buy In Bulk

If purchasing is preferred, it is worth noting that the unit price of favors tends to decrease as the numbers go up. It's the same concept as buying groceries in bulk. For a wedding of 500 people, this is good news. Are you expecting a smaller crowd? Find another couple in your area who are getting married around the same time, and who want to purchase the same favors. The costs can be split evenly. This would require that each couple personalize their own favors, but the cost savings could easily offset the time investment.

Get Charitable

If there is still some room left in the budget, but it doesn't seem like enough, making a donation to a charity is a delightful way to say "thank you" to guests. For large weddings, especially a donation in lieu of favors could be less expensive. Even though "just $100" might not buy a bride's dream favors, it would certainly be welcomed by any charitable organization. Many such organizations will even provide cards for guests to inform them a donation has been made instead of a favor provided. And of course, don't forget how good it feels to give something back.

These are just three of the many methods that creative couples can employ to save money during the wedding planning process. With a little knowledge and some legwork, saving money on common wedding details is easier than one might think.



5 Details Not Worth Worrying About On Your Wedding Day

Planning a wedding is, without a doubt, a daunting task, especially for those doing it on their own. The multitude of wedding-related websites out there, not to mention the bridal magazines, books, TV shows, and the opinions of every relative, friend, a bridal party member, and the vendor can make every little detail seem like the biggest deal in the world.

That said, you can take a deep breath, heave a sigh of relief, and relax. Your wedding is all about you – something that is often said but forgotten more often. Regardless of what happens on that day, you're there to marry the one you love, surrounded by those who love you. Little details aren't what will make your day special and memorable. Prettier, possibly. Evidence of your Type A-ness, quite probably. But in the end, those details aren't what count. Give yourself permission to skip the things that really don't matter.

5 Things You Can Skip

Disposable wedding cameras: These may have had their place in the days before digital cameras and instant photo sharing, but now, there's no reason to waste the money (or to junk up your beautiful tables with a cheap piece of plastic in a cardboard wrapper). The picture quality is uniformly terrible, and the subject matter is rarely what you intended. Save your money and your time and just spread the word for guests to email you their digital images after the wedding.

Bathroom baskets: Wedding planners and planning books almost always recommend these, but truth be told, they're rarely used and rarely appreciated. You could easily drop $20-40 on a nice basket, travel-sized toiletries, and other miniature luxuries, only to have them ignored or, worse, trashed. Truly, no one will notice if you don't have them.

Pew decorations: Unless you have an unlimited budget and can afford to have your florist create elaborate displays to decorate the seating at your ceremony, you may as well skip these altogether. Things like tulle or ribbon bows are a hassle to assemble, tend to look wilted, and, frankly, are a little dated. Spend your money on making the focal point of your ceremony – the area surrounding the bride, groom and officiant – beautiful, and skip the rest.

Menu cards: This is another decorative touch championed by wedding planners (not to mention stationery companies), but they're truly unnecessary for the vast majority of weddings.

Most couples choose a familiar menu, such as steak, chicken, or "surf and turf," and a fancy card to describe the meal is pointless. If you're a foodie who's serving quail and foie gras, the menu card might be a nice touch – both to show off your exotic tastes and to help out your guests who may not recognize your choice – but otherwise, the money could be better used elsewhere.

Cake knife and champagne flutes: Somewhere, somehow, brides got the idea that they just had to have their own special cake knife and server, and their own special champagne flutes for toasting.

In reality, though, these items are virtually never noticed by the guests, don't enhance anyone's enjoyment of the event, and, assuming they aren't lost or damaged by the catering staff, are always thrown in a box for the next 20 years of your marriage.

Consider using the cake knife and champagne flutes available through your caterer or borrow some from your parents or a friend – they'll be probably delighted to finally put theirs to good use!



10 Ways To Save Money When Planning Your Wedding

It is possible to save money on weddings if you are prepared to think out of the box. These ideas will help you to arrange a happy, relaxed celebration.

The important day of your life can quickly turn into the most stressful day of your life, not least financially. It is possible to cut costs, relax, and still have your dream wedding.

Commit to having a relaxed wedding. That way, you are unlikely to get into a panic and start buying things unnecessarily. The more you insist on perfection in every detail, the higher the cost financially. Remember that what matters most is the simple act of getting together with people you love who will witness you committing yourselves to each other.

Have the religious or civil part of the ceremony at the same venue as the reception. That way, you only have to decorate one venue, and you’ll save a fortune on flowers.

Instead of a band or disco, hire a jukebox for the reception. It’s enormous fun, as guests get to choose what music they want to hear.

Keep it simple. You don’t need an expensive wedding planner, the most expensive dress and a host of waiters hovering around. A buffet meal where your guest gets to choose how much goes on their plate is simpler and more enjoyable than being the last person at the table waiting for the waiter. Guests get a chance to chat as they queue for the buffet.

Keep the choice of food simple. There’s no need to break the bank with a huge range of expensive foods and wines. It’s cheaper to have one or two delicious choices for the main meal only.

Double up the wedding cake with dessert. Instead of the traditional fruit cake, choose a tiered chocolate cake and serve it for dessert with ice cream. A simple fruit salad on the side will cater to those who don’t eat cake or ice cream.

Set aside a budget for drinks, and arrange with the barman that when the end of the budget is reached, it becomes a cash bar. Guests understand how expensive weddings are and don’t mind paying for their own drinks.

Shop online at charity auctions. Many charities run auctions of new goods donated by businesses. Their prices are often one-third of the normal price. You can probably pick up vouchers for flower arrangements, hire of a bridal gown, facials and beauty treatments for the bride and her party, and for the honeymoon, trips to the top of the range hotels and guest houses. You have the added benefit of knowing that you have helped the needy.

Shop on e-bay or other online auction sites. Wedding dresses, table decorations, paper for invitations, and many other goods can be bought much cheaper on e-Bay.
Look for online community trading exchanges where talents or other non-monetary currencies are offered for services. By bartering or exchanging services, it’s possible to hire professional services from photographers, caterers, waiting for staff, flower arrangers, and DJs.

The more a wedding costs, the more pressure the families feel to make every moment memorable and perfect. And the pressure to be perfect almost always produces the opposite effect. So relax and enjoy your celebration.

5 Easy Ways To Save On Wedding Costs

Once engaged, the biggest concern of any couple should be their marriage and not their budget. They just need to avoid ballooning expenses.

Every engaged couple dreams of a perfect wedding. However, that perfect wedding usually comes with a price tag (and a guest list that seems to get longer every day). A lot of brides and grooms start off their marriage on the wrong foot by fighting over the wedding expenses. Below are five easy ways for couples to avoid all the unnecessary squabbling so they can concentrate on each other and building a life together.

1. The couple can agree to invite people they both know. They can leave out the friend of the friend of an aunt and make sure they know all the people they want to celebrate with. This will definitely help them trim down the guest list and help them explain better to their enthusiastic parents.

2. The size of the party can be limited by a preselected wedding venue. The couple can choose a venue that fits their ideal guest list. They can avoid expandable booking venues so that it disciplines them to stick to their agreed-upon number of guests.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. The couple should describe to each other what the wedding will be like. What will the guests remember? What will their family treasure? From then on, they'll be able to see what's truly essential to the two of them. They might decide, for example, that they could skip the wedding video and just stick to still photography. Or they might realize that they don't need a three-tier cake and favor a sister's offer to make home-made cupcakes.

4. Weddings that the couple has previously attended can lead the way. They might be surprised that the only thing they remember from a wedding they attended was the speech of the father of the bride and the food. Or they might have been really irritated by the fact that the reception was an hour and a half away from the ceremony, and there was no food to munch on in between. Seeing things from the guest's point of view can help the couple skip on the "nice-to-haves" and concentrate on the "must-haves."

Wedding expenses should be put in the context of the family expenses. The couple should keep in mind that, at the end of the day, their wedding is only the first day of their marriage. It is a celebration with the people who matter to them and not a matter of life and death.

The wedding should only be a certain percentage of the couple's family income and not an opportunity to splurge (and get into debt).