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Say "I Do" To A Debt Free Wedding!
Date: February 14, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Books & Budgeting & Engagement & Planning & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

Valentine's Day is the most romantic holiday of the year and because of its association with love it makes it the perfect time to take a big step and propose to the one you love. The popularity of Valentine's Day as the second-biggest time of year (behind Christmas) for wedding proposals is proven in the fact that of the reported 2.3 million couples who get engaged each year in the USA, 10% will actually get engaged on Valentine's Day (Source: Diamond Information Center).

So were you one of them?

If so, let’s start with the good news……Yippee you’re engaged!!!

Without a doubt this will be one of the most exciting moments of your life! You’ve decided that you want to spend the rest of your life with this amazing person and overnight you’ve changed status from being simply a girlfriend/boyfriend yesterday to a fiancé today!

Now the practical bit – you have a wedding to plan!!!!

After the initial excitement (and perhaps shock) of being engaged has settled, after you’ve shared the news with everyone, you will realize that you have the task of organizing a picture perfect wedding whilst taking into consideration your budget and the responsibility which is bestowed on you to entertain, feed and water everyone who you and your fiancé care about most in the world.

Yikes!! Ok, take a deep breath and let me remind you that wedding planning can be easy, fun and manageable on even the smallest of budgets.

After the many highs and lows I faced during my own wedding planning (read more about them here) I discovered how to enjoy the whole experience without going a penny into debt for it too. The most important things I learned whilst planning my wedding were:

♥ easy negotiating methods

♥ tactics for dealing with tricky wedding vendors

♥ solutions to every wedding dilemma I encountered

♥ how what I lacked in money for my wedding I could more than make up for with creative ideas and a bit of elbow grease!

I’ve never professed to be a wedding planning expert but through this blog word got out that I was offering advice which could save other brides-to-be from making the mistakes that I had made during my wedding planning which could drive them into post-wedding debt. I received increasing numbers of emails, questions and cries for help from bride-to-be's and their families in response to my wedding blog hounding me to share my wedding secrets with them.

This was the reason why I created a simple step-by-step "system" in the form of a book that allows ANY bride-to-be to learn how to effortlessly cut their wedding costs in half and keep their wedding budget and planning in check - regardless of whether they have a wedding budget of $1,000 or $100,000! My book is a complete planning guide for brides-to-be, starting at this moment when you are just engaged and finishing with those all important post-wedding tasks. As you journey through your wedding planning, this book will keep you on track and debt free with its:

♥ “Must Ask” questions for wedding vendors;

♥ Creative Money-Saving Tips;

♥ “Top Tips” for dealing with wedding vendors and suppliers;

♥ Practical words of wisdom from real brides; and

♥ General wedding planning advice so you don’t overlook anything in your planning.

The best part for you is that you can benefit from my experiences, my mistakes and ultimately, my successes all for free!

You have nothing to lose – try my book for an entire 2 months and if the information contained in it does not simplify your wedding planning and save you oodles of money then all you have to do is email me and I'll issue you a 100% refund on the spot (no hard feelings and no questions asked!) So go ahead and take the plunge! You could have 2 months to use and gain from all of the unique tips and practical advice contained in my book and at anytime you can ask (and receive) an immediate refund (and if you opt for a refund I still want you to keep the eBook and bonus reports as my free gift just for giving this a shot!)

Finally, congratulations! Remember, that you DO NOT need to be an expert in event planning, decorating and wedding trends and traditions to organize your own wedding without going into debt. I did it, other brides have done it and so can you! So take a look at my book and find out how you can have your decadent hand-decorated chocolate wedding cake, eat it and still have money in the bank!

Good luck with your wedding planning!

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CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
10 Handy Tips for Placing a Newspaper Wedding Announcement
9 Ways To Break The News You Are Engaged
Win A Free E-Engagement Announcement For This Valentine’s Day From OurWeddingCast.com
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The Engagement Season Has Begun!



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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore. For example tips on wedding djs, getting guests to mingle, giving a great speech and tipping wedding suppliers to name just a few!

To give you a flavour of what to expect I have copied the types of wedding tips you will receive below:

Sample Tip 1 :

At the reception hall, fill baskets in the bathroom with miniature hand lotions, breath mints, hair sprays, and hair gels for emergency touch-ups. You may also want to put out a basket with a few inexpensive pairs of pantyhose and
some clear nail polish.

"Thanks for all the tips..and for making them genuinely "free".... the tips I found most helpful of your's were about etiquette ... it helps to remind brides of other people's feelings when they are getting caught up in their own! And that idea about giving framed pictures to the parents is one I will definately do! Blessings!" - Suzanne, US

Sample Tip 2 :

Don’t forget grandparents and other relatives who may feel “left out” during the preparations before the wedding. Take a camera along when you are shopping for your dress or looking at flowers.

Send pictures with a quick note that says, “Here’s me rubbing my feet after trying on shoes that were murder!” Or “Aunt Joan, the flowers were beautiful, but I wish you could have been there.”

"Just wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful tips! I enjoy reading them every week!! I will use you're advice throughout the planning of my wedding and on the big day! Thanks again" - Dan

Sample Tip 3 :

For bridesmaids' dresses, consider separates, especially if you have attendants whose sizes and shapes vary widely. Skip the bridal stores and check out department stores for evening skirts and separate tops that are made of luxurious fabrics and trimmed with beading or embroidered details.

"Dear Emily your tips have been very helpful to me in planning for my wedding thank you for all of your help, looking forward to receiving other tips from you. Best Regards" - Cornelia, US


How To Boost Your Wedding Budget – Invite Your Guests To Pay For Your Wedding!
Date: June 02, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Honeymoon & Industry News & Planning & Reviews & Site News & Site Reviews & TV Shows & Unique Ideas

When you look at the following facts:

♥ the average cost of a wedding in the UK tops £20,000

♥ increasing numbers of couples are marrying after they have already set up home together

♥ most couples plan and fund their own weddings nowadays

it’s no wonder that:

♥ couples are now looking for alternative ways to pay for their weddings (rather than having to depend on family contributions, loans or credit cards)

♥ couples planning their weddings don’t require traditional wedding gifts to furnish their home with such as housewares and fine china

The conclusion which can be drawn for couples planning their weddings nowadays is that what they need more than anything is financial help with their spiraling wedding costs.

As I mentioned in my previous blog in the last couple of years online honeymoon gift registries such as Traveler's Joy, Honeymoon Wishes and Honeymoon.com have become hugely popular. Couples planning their nuptials turn to these websites to save themselves money as their wedding guests contribute funds towards their dream honeymoon.

One step on from the honeymoon gift registry is Youbuymywedding.com, an innovative website which allows couples to pay for their wedding by inviting guests to make financial pledges online towards their wedding costs rather than buying them a traditional wedding gift. I think that this is an ingenious concept.

As featured on Five News, Youbuymywedding.com encourages brides and grooms-to-be to opt for money rather than traditional wedding presents and thus take the financial strain off of their wedding plans. For couples who want a dream wedding but find that it is beyond their restricted wedding budget this website is perfect as rather than having to scrimp and cut corners you can share the wedding costs with your guests.

According to Youbuymywedding.com its aim is to

“help couples finance their weddings by inviting their guests to share the cost of paying for the big day, instead of buying wedding gifts in the conventional way”.

So how does Youbuymywedding.com work? It appears to be quite simple. You set up your own personalized wedding page using the website and choose the pledge items you want to be covered, using up to 20 categories covering every aspect of your wedding, including invitations, flowers, reception, cake, car hire, honeymoon, rings and even the dress. Next, decide how much you want to raise for each category. Your guests can then visit your personal wedding page and browse through your selected pledge items. A great feature is that the website also indicates to your guests which items have received the most support, and which still need contributions. Guests can make a donation towards their choice of wedding expense using the secure online payment service Paypal, and they will receive an email confirmation of their pledge, which can be made anonymously if they prefer. Once they have made their pledge Youbuymywedding.com will also notify you by means of an SMS text alert.

So that you can keep up-to-date with your wedding budget you can check your wedding fund balance on the website any time and make withdrawals at any time (in the form of a bank transfer or cheque) to pay for or book items in advance of your wedding.

I think that this website has advantages too from your wedding guests’ point of view. Rather than them having to find and buy a possibly unwanted or duplicate wedding gift, they can save time and effort by simply logging on to your website and give you the gift you really need – money!

Whilst honeymoon gift registries have proven to be a popular choice with modern couples who want to register for alternative wedding gifts, I think that unique websites such as Youbuymywedding.com will also be popular amongst couples who already have everything they need for their marital home but who could use some financial assistance to bolster their wedding fund.

So, if you don’t want to rein in your wedding plans, restrict your wedding budget or have to finance your wedding using a loan or credit card and start married life in debt then why not take a look at Youbuymywedding.com.

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I

This is Part I of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part II, Part III and Part IV for the full article


How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

There is plenty of advice available to couples planning their wedding about how to prepare a budget, choose the perfect venue, theme, dress, cake, color of table linens etc. However there is very little information available to couples who are organizing a wedding which deals specifically with arrangements for children throughout the wedding. I realize that this could be due to the growing trend of hosting “adult only” weddings.

This blog is essentially for people planning their wedding who have already made the decision to invite children to their wedding or who want to invite them but are unsure about how to plan the children’s entertainment and catering without creating more work for themselves or breaking their budget!

Through the information contained in this blog I want to show you that inviting children to a wedding is not the potential minefield you might think. I have assisted several couples with making plans for children at weddings and I’ve attended a lot of child-friendly and not so child-friendly weddings. I’ve attended weddings where children are made to feel like a major part of the wedding day and I’ve been to weddings where there were practically bouncers on the door to the evening reception barring children from entering the dance floor.

Hosting a family oriented wedding does not mean that you have to give up on the hope of an adult theme to the reception entertainment without worrying about little ones being squished underfoot on the dance floor! There is nothing wrong with harboring a selfish desire to have a grown up evening reception.

If you are reading this blog as someone in the midst of trying to organize a more adult style wedding I want to show you that there is a way to have children at your wedding that might satisfy all involved. Whilst I am a firm believer in weddings being a family event, I can see how a lot of parents would enjoy the wedding day more if they could sit through a few courses of the meal and the first dance without worrying about the responsibilities of childcare. I have witnessed at weddings how stressful it is for parents when their child decides to throw a screaming fit at an inopportune moment and they then have to deal with it to the best of their ability, all the while knowing that their parenting skills are being assessed by a possibly hostile and frustrated throng of wedding guests. Consider too that your other wedding guests without children might also appreciate a break from the children.

I want to show you that you can have the best of both worlds. You can invite children to your wedding, you can take pleasure in seeing how cute they look in their pretty party dresses, smart trousers and bow ties and you can also enjoy some adult time with your friends and family whilst the children are being entertained and supervised.

Some of the ideas which I give within this blog are suitable for situations where the children share the function room with the adult wedding guests, some are aimed at situations where only a guest bedroom is available, other activities and suggestions I’ve made require a separate room for the children or maybe a large outdoor space or a small tent and some good weather!

You might think that the first decision you need to make after deciding that you want children to be included in your wedding day is whether you can afford it. However, I have helped many friends organize child-friendly weddings both with and without separate rooms for the children, separate parties for the children and child care supervision, and all were on moderate budgets. Even if you are on a really tight budget, with some thought and planning you can organize a child-friendly wedding which your young guests and adults are sure to enjoy.

If you want to make your wedding a fun family affair and ensure that the children are as happy as you are on your wedding day, here are some tips to get you started.


Space For The Children At Your Wedding

The first deciding factor in whether or not you are able to include children at your wedding is whether you are able to accommodate them at your wedding venue.


Initial Things To Consider

♥ Is there a function room or bedroom available for the children’s sole use at your venue?

♥ Does your venue have useable outdoor space?

♥ How much of your wedding budget can you afford to spend on children’s entertainment and catering?

♥ How many children are you actually inviting (so that you can work out on what scale to organize the entertainment – e.g. is it worth hiring a bouncy castle for two 4 year olds and a 6 month old baby)?

Top Tip: If it is really important to you that children invited to your wedding are well catered for then I suggest at the outset of your wedding planning you choose a venue which is able and willing to accommodate your younger guests. For example, a stately home filled with precious antiques might not be the most child-friendly choice of venue.

So, firstly check with your ceremony venue and reception venue whether they have practical areas nearby for use by the children during your wedding. Then assess whether the spaces which are available at the venue are going to be suitable for setting up a children’s zone.

If you are planning your wedding at a Church: Ask your officiant or Church Warden for suggestions as to a suitable space for entertaining restless children during the ceremony. Most religious institutions have school rooms, a crèche, vestry or an anteroom.

If you are planning your wedding at a Hotel: Ask if you can reserve a small function or conference room which is not only very near to the main function room in which your wedding is being held, but also close to the bathroom facilities?

If not, can you reserve a bedroom or a suite that includes a sitting room?

Whenever possible it is best to have the children in a room on the same premises (if you have to transport them by car to a different location this causes extra organization, as well as hassle) but removed from where the main wedding activity is taking place. An adjacent room would be perfect, so that:

♥ the children can come and go from the main function room (whilst they might find the wedding speeches boring they do love to join in with the dancing!); and

♥ anxious parents don’t have far to go to check on their children.

If you are planning your wedding at other wedding venues including Country Clubs, Castles, Town Halls, Recreational Center’s, Museums, Restaurants, Private Homes: Ask the manager or owner of your wedding venue if they have an additional smaller room which you can reserve as a children's zone for the duration of your wedding.

Personally I think that if you are inviting children to your wedding, whether you intend on them joining in with the whole day’s festivities or part of them, a good host and hostess should make arrangements for the children of guests in an adjacent room at your venue or a nearby hotel.


Organizing Child Care Supervision For The Wedding

For a wedding with children attending I totally recommend hiring child carers or babysitters, preferably those with professional child care experience. What better way to ensure your wedding guests are relaxed, happy and enjoy your wedding than to take the pressure off of them to entertain and supervise their own children. I have attended weddings both with and without child care and in my opinion the wedding experience seemed more enjoyable for the children, parents and other wedding guests when the children were provided with professional supervision.

If you have minimal funds to spend on your wedding my advice is to skip the forgettable favors and organize child care so that your guests and their children can each enjoy the fun of your wedding day. After all, which one will your wedding guests remember longer and appreciate the most.


How To Find Suitable Child Care

If you are hiring a wedding planner they will be able to locate local child carers for you and assess their suitability for your wedding needs and requirements too.

Hotel Recommendation - The first thing to do is ask your wedding venue if they have a preferred list of licensed child carers or babysitters they offer to guests/customers.

Top Tip: Don’t depend on the hotel doing background checks on child carers who they recommend. If children under the age of 4 are being left with this person, unless they work for a reputable agency, you should ask to see their references, qualifications, CPR certificates etc.

Nanny or Babysitter Agency - If your venue are unable to recommend anyone perhaps try a local nanny agency who will be able to provide you with costs and availability for child carers on your chosen date.

Most nanny agencies or sitter services ask brides to fill out an application form providing them with a rundown of how many children will need watching, their ages (the children, not you!), where the wedding venue is and what duties you expect to need from them (e.g. supervising meal time, putting children down for naps, organizing games and entertainment).

Usually agencies screen their child care workers to ascertain their suitability for working with children and ensure that they have at least one year of childcare experience, as well a relevant first aid qualification. In the UK child care agencies carry out a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check against potential child carers (this is a government run service which investigates whether they hold any criminal convictions). In the USA there are numerous private companies who carry out similar criminal background checks. Remember to check with the agency or child carer you use if they have undergone this check.

Parent's Recommendations - Parents from the locality in which your wedding is taking place can probably help you out too by providing you with the number of their babysitter or child minder.

Mobile Crèche - If money is not an object and you want total peace of mind that the children are being fully supervised, if you are hosting a more grown up reception, hire a mobile crèche service such as that offered by The Wedding Crèche Service. Experienced staff will come to your venue, set up a children’s activity zone and keep the children entertained leaving your adult guests free to enjoy your wedding.

DIY Child Care - If you decide to go it alone and book independent child carers or sitters yourself be sure to ask to interview this person and ask to see their references and evidence of their qualifications. When calling their references be sure to ask:

♥ How many times has he/she babysat for them?

♥ What are the ages of their children?

♥ Were there any problems while their children were in her/his care?

♥ Would they recommend you hiring her/him for your wedding day?

When you interview potential child carers ask them how they plan to give the children a fun time while their parents are at your wedding. If you feel uncomfortable with them trust your instincts and move on to another candidate.

The onus is on you to make sure that their previous child care experience is satisfactory. This might seem like an extra bit of work for you, when you already have a lot of wedding organization on your plate, but if you are expecting your wedding guests to entrust their children to this person it really is your responsibility. If you are unable to commit to being thorough when choosing child carers for your wedding, pass on the responsibility to someone who is able to.

If you are getting married out-of-town, or if you simply have enough on your plate with the rest of your wedding planning, enlist the help of a friend who has children and who lives in the locality of your wedding venue. They are sure to be happy to help interview potential child carers and will certainly be more knowledgeable about questions to ask as a parent themselves. Also bear in mind that they know it is in the interests of their own children for them to hire a fun friendly and efficient child carer for your wedding reception!

Handy Hint: If it is essential to your own enjoyment of your wedding day that your own child attends the wedding, I suggest at the outset of your planning you look for a wedding venue which is able to provide an insured and bonded babysitting service.


How Many Child Carers Do You Need

You will be able to decide how many child carers you need once you have confirmation of how many children will be attending the wedding. Build in some leeway by adding a couple of extra spaces just in case some unexpected children make on appearance on the day.

Key factors when deciding how many child carers you will need are as follows:

♥ Age of children

♥ How many children

♥ Additional supervision/support needs of some participants (e.g. due to disability)

♥ Nature of activity (for example bouncy castle or trampolining sessions may require higher levels of supervision than cookie decorating)

♥ Nature of venue (whether it is closed and exclusive, or open and accessible to non-wedding party members)

Of course it would be impossible for the child carers to maintain the same one-to-one watchfulness that most parents attempt, but by maintaining specific staff to children ratios you will increase the likelihood of safe play and attentive care for the children at your wedding. The appropriate child care staff to child ratio should be:

1:3 for children under the age of 2 years;

1:5 for children aged 2 to 3 years;

1:8 for children aged 3 to 8 years;

1:10 for children aged over 8 years.

Therefore you can calculate that if you have 3 babies under the age of 14 months, 2 toddlers aged between 3-4, 2 children aged 7 and a couple of 11 year olds, you should arrange a minimum of 2 child carers.


At What Age Do Children Need Supervision?

Having spoken to several crèche supervisors I know that there is a large amount of debate (usually amongst parents) as to the age where a minor is considered to be in need of supervision. Whilst there is no law that states the minimum age that a child can be left alone, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk. I recommend that if you have wedding guests attending with children of ages 11 upwards, discuss with them whether their child will need supervision by the child carers you are arranging for the younger children.


Alternatives To Professional Child Carers

Other Adult - If it is not within your budget to hire a professional child carer then a suitable alternative is to find a very capable and caring adult (or adults, depending on how many children are expected to attend the wedding) who are willing and able to supervise and entertain the children during the wedding. Your best choice would be someone who is a parent themselves (possibly an acquaintance or friend of a friend who is not invited to your wedding!), a teacher or a children’s playgroup or girl scout troop leader.

Teenage Sitters - As a qualified nanny myself (and having a lot of supervisory experience at hotel crèches) I would not recommend asking a couple of teenagers to take care of the children at your wedding. If you know of a teenage babysitter who comes highly recommended then by all means use them. I’m afraid my experience of unsupervised teenagers who are minding children is that they simply plunk the young ones in front of a DVD and leave them to it.

I think that you need to be able to assure your guests that their children will not just be babysat but will be entertained and will have a good time at the wedding too. The childcare facilities you are offering could influence whether a parent will or will not bring their child to your wedding. Therefore it is important that you provide them with as much information as possible prior to the wedding (the sooner the better) about what will be on offer for their children (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part 4 for further details on this). By giving the parents some upfront information you will help them make an informed decision about their child care plans - remember it could affect whether they:

♥ attend your wedding at all,

♥ bring their children to your wedding, or

♥ arrange their own childcare so that they can attend your wedding on their own.

If the majority of parents invited to your wedding respond by saying that sitters are an unnecessary expense (even though you are paying!) and that they will supervise their children themselves, I recommend that you hire at least one sitter to supervise the play room (if you are having one). Even if parents say they will supervise their own children there are always going to be situations where the children are left alone or when a parent is distracted by some relative they have not seen for years and wander off to catch up, leaving their little one playing on her own unsupervised.


Cost Of Child Care

With regard to how much to pay the child carers the best thing to do is ask them what they usually charge and see if you are comfortable paying that. It is likely to be based on how many children they are expected to be caring for on your wedding day – their hourly rate should be something in the region of:

• 0-2 children $10/hr.

• 2-5 children $12/hr.

• 5-8 children $15/hr.

• 8 or more children $20/hr.


Things To Discuss With Your Child Carer

♥ Once you have a note of the names, ages and special requirements of all children, provide this information to the child carers so that they can prepare accordingly.

♥ Discuss activities for the children with your child carer. As mentioned, they might well have their own suggestions to make and they could have equipment of their own too, which they can supply for use during your wedding.

♥ Once you have decided on activities discuss a schedule of events and proposed timeline with the child carer so that you are both aware of the key times when child care is being provided for the guests’ children.

♥ Remember to leave parent’s phone numbers for the child carers in case they need to contact the parents and can’t leave the room to come and find them at the wedding party.

♥ Give your sitters a couple of worst-case scenarios and some contingency plans, (e.g. if they run out of soda for the children give them permission to order more from room service at your venue, if a child who has not eaten their dinner is hungry at 7pm allow them to order him a sandwich from room service) – you don’t want the child carers having to run to the children’s parents or you with every small problem which occurs. Of course experienced child carers will know not to bother you and the children’s parents with the minutiae of what goes on in the children’s room but on the other hand you want them to know how to handle certain situations which might arise. If you are setting up a children’s room yourself remember to kit it out with a first aid kit for minor injuries, wet wipes and hankies for clean ups and runny noses.

♥ Tell the child carer in advance if you don’t want children leaving the children’s room to run in and out of the reception and dance floor all evening. The more information you can provide the child carers with in advance of your wedding the better.

♥ Remind the child carer (because you won’t be by their side on the day of the wedding) to have some questions for parents to answer prior to leaving their children with them (e.g. contact phone numbers, is their child on any medication, does their child have any specific requirements, can their child eat the candy/popcorn which will be provided, is their child allowed to watch any TV/movies etc.).

♥ Remember that if the child carers are working a long shift looking after the children you will need to provide a meal for them. You could have a plate from your reception catering sent for them to the children’s room or up to the bedroom they are in. A better idea is to either allow them to order a meal on room service or give them some money and the number of a local pizzeria so they can order pizza for themselves (and perhaps for the children too depending on your catering arrangements for them during the wedding reception).


Questions To Ask Parents Before You Book Child Carers Or Start Planning Specific Wedding Activities For The Children

♥ The most important thing to ask parents is if they plan to bring their children to your wedding (don't assume all parents will want to bring their children with them to your wedding - some might enjoy a night off whether you intend on providing child care or not) and if so how many, what ages and what gender (hopefully you know the children’s gender from addressing the invites but if you are in any doubt ask!).

♥ Would they make use of child carers if you hired them?

Handy Hint: Even if parents say that they will supervise their children themselves beware as their definition of supervising might be to let them stick their fingers in the wedding cake, interrupt adult conversations and generally run amok. Use your own judgment to decide whether their little one should be included, for the sake of numbers, in the list of children you will provide child care for.

♥ Do their children have any specific dietary requirements? (This is so that you can choose suitable catering for them, in the same way you would ask your other guests if they are vegetarians etc.).

♥ Will they need their children to eat prior to the 3pm service of the wedding meal? (This will give the parents, and you, advance warning if you are going to need to buy a snack for their child to keep them going until your wedding meal is served).

♥ Ask them if they require booster seats on the chairs or highchairs for their children so that you can let the reception venue know in advance. (This is especially important if you are inviting lots of children under 2 years old as the reception venue might only have a couple of booster seats available – its best to give them some advance notice on this).

♥ Ask if they have any specific instructions for their child’s care or any rules so that you can give the child carer advance notice and you can provide activities taking the children’s needs into account (e.g. can they have sugar, are they allowed to watch TV, can they have their face painted etc.)

♥ Are their children likely to require a nap during the day? If so, do they require a travel cot to be set up?

♥ If you are block booking hotel rooms for your wedding guests in advance ay your venue (so that you can guarantee discounted room rates for them) find out how many rooms/beds in rooms they will require.

♥ Are they likely to require additional evening sitters at the wedding venue (e.g. are they planning to party all night once their children are tucked up in bed)?

♥ If they require you to help book evening sitters for them, are the children staying the night at the wedding venue (e.g. if it is being held in a hotel or other venue with accommodation)? If not, then where will the children be staying?


Booking Child Care

Preferably you should book your child carers as soon as you have decided on a venue and wedding date.


Timing Of Your Wedding

Here are some helpful tips and things for you to consider with regard to planning the timing of your wedding:

♥ Evening ceremonies are unsuitable for small children - they will tire easily, won’t enjoy the ceremony, won’t make it through the reception party afterwards and their hysterics will spoil their parents enjoyment of it too. You definitely run a far greater risk of having screaming children during your ceremony if it begins at 7pm, which is bedtime for most young children. If you know you intend on inviting lots of young children to your wedding, it’s best to plan a morning or early afternoon ceremony.

♥ Some parties are not appropriate for young children and this includes a wedding party which is planned to go on until after 10pm. If children are cranky and fussy it will spoil their parent’s enjoyment of the evening reception and also other wedding guests. You don’t want the party to be ended prematurely by a bawling 4 year old lying horizontal in the center of the dance floor do you!

♥ My experience of wedding receptions has been that as adult wedding guests get into the swing of the reception party in the evening the music is generally too loud, and the dance floor too crowded, for young children’s safety. If you want the children to be able to share in the dancing at your wedding then organize the wedding ceremony for late morning so that you can enjoy the wedding meal at a leisurely pace and still have time for the music entertainment to kick off before the children’s bedtimes.

♥ There is a huge trend towards having children attend the wedding ceremony and meal but making the evening reception adults only. See below for details on how to strike a compromise between having the children join in with the wedding fun and enjoying an adult zone at your evening reception.

♥ If you are arranging child care for your wedding reception you should point out to parents that their children are not being sequestered in another room under lock and key to keep them from joining in with the wedding fun. If parents want their children to join in with dancing early on in the evening then tell them there is no problem with this but make them aware that adult time starts at 8pm when the child carers are putting the movie on in the children’s room, giving the children a chance to wind down for the night. When presented with the choice of hanging out with the grown ups or watching a movie and munching popcorn I think I know which one most flagging children would prefer!


Timing Of Child Care At Your Wedding

Once you have made the decision to organize child care for your wedding you should then decide whether it is going to be available all day (can you afford this?) or just for the evening reception.

If there are key times during the day when it would be beneficial for the children to be supervised then factor these into your plans (e.g. for the cocktail hour when parents and other guests enjoy mingling and chatting, during the toasts and speeches etc).

Your options when organizing child care are:

♥ During the evening reception provide supervised activities in a separate children’s room at the wedding venue - this would allow parents to strike a compromise as they will be able to enjoy the first part of the wedding with their children (i.e. the ceremony and first part of the reception) whilst being able to enjoy the latter part of the reception child-free!

♥ Provide all day child care from the moment your ceremony begins to late at night when the children are ready for bed.

♥ Arrange babysitters in the evening - once your evening reception gets into full swing you could assist guests with children (in advance of your wedding) in organizing babysitters to come to the reception venue (if it is a hotel) and take the children staying there up to their bedrooms. Once the children are happily settled in bed with their sitters watching them, their parents can return to the wedding party. At my wedding I asked for one bedroom to be put aside for us with a couple of travel cots for flagging children (see Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests in Part III for further details on this).

♥ Organize a supervised children’s party in another location (see Give The Children Their Own Party in Part IV for more details on this).

♥ Provide parents with local child carer contact details and leave them to it.
Remember that even if your guests are local to the wedding venue they are sure to appreciate your gracious and thoughtful efforts in including their children in your wedding plans.


Rehearsal Dinner

If you are hosting a Rehearsal dinner, many rehearsal dinners can go on as late as 10pm which is totally inappropriate for young children to attend. Think about whether you should help your rehearsal dinner guests with children (particularly out-of-town guests) to organize child care in advance.


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This is Part I of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part II, Part III and Part IV for the full article

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
Date: January 23, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Budgeting & Cameras & Ceremonies & Children & Etiquette & Flower & Decorations & Guests & Music & Dance & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas & Venues

This is Part II of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part III and Part IV for the full article


How To Entertain Children During Your Wedding

So, now you have hopefully found a perfect venue and qualified child carers for your guests' children. Your next step is how to transform it into a children’s wonderland so that the children can enjoy your wedding every bit as much as the adults do.


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Ceremony

Children are, by nature, unpredictable. There is no guarantee for parents that having been in a joyful mood all morning their little one’s temper will not erupt just as your wedding ceremony is starting. Whilst a few sniffles, coughs or whispers from the amassed guests is acceptable during a wedding ceremony, no bride wants to exchange her vows against a backdrop of screaming children. I’ve experienced many weddings myself where the vows have been drowned out by children crying or whining. I also know first hand that the last thing a bride, groom or wedding guest wants to worry about is dealing with a cranky child.

Have a think about the ages of the children who are invited to your wedding and ask yourself if they are capable of sitting quietly through your ceremony. As an experienced nanny myself I would say that any child under the age of 7 is likely at some stage to become impatient, restless or fidgety - more so if it is a religious service rather than a Disney movie which they are being made to sit through!


Tips For Preventing Meltdown During The Ceremony

♥ If it is within your budget and if a small room is available at your ceremony venue perhaps organizing for a child carer or sitter to be on standby for this part of your wedding would prove invaluable. You have to bear in mind that a church, or other religious service, is not exactly designed as children's entertainment. The child carer could entertain the children in a school room, crèche, vestry or anteroom (in a Church wedding) or a function room (for a wedding at a hotel or similar venue) whilst the parents enjoy the ceremony without interruptions from the children.

♥ Be warned some parents will opt not to place their child with your child carer but instead insist on having them sit with them through your ceremony. This is their choice (and sometimes the child’s choice too – believe it or not some children love wedding ceremonies!) so give them both options, but remember you can’t force them. If you only want children to attend the wedding reception and not the ceremony then remember to make this clear on the invitation.

♥ If you are organizing activities or child care during the ceremony make sure parents are aware of this in advance. Also ensure that the children’s room and toilets are well signposted.

♥ Think about asking the officiant to say a few diplomatic words prior to the ceremony beginning to reassure parents not to feel uncomfortable about leaving during the ceremony to take their fractious children outside.

♥ Ask ushers to seat parents with babies or very small children, where appropriate (e.g. not the groom’s sister), towards the back of the ceremony room or church or at least at the end of aisles, so they can make a swift exit and leave with a minimum of fuss if awkward moments arise during the wedding ceremony (taking their little one with them of course!).

♥ Put together a paper bag or box for each child to be handed out prior to the ceremony beginning containing a toy, juice box and snack (such as individual bags of crackers, lightly sweetened cookies or small boxes of raisins) to keep them fed and entertained. To avoid conflict, make sure there are enough bags to go around!


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Photos

Here are some ideas for entertaining the children whilst the photos are being taken after the ceremony:

♥ If you have children in your wedding party who need to be included in the wedding photos organize with the photographer that these are the first photos they take so that the children can relax and roam free.

♥ Children love to feel included so ask your photographer to take a picture of you both with all of the children.

♥ A great way of entertaining the children is to provide them with:

o Bottles of bubbles - children love blowing and chasing bubbles and the bubbles look great in the photos too! (A word of warning though, beware of unsupervised wobbly toddlers approaching you or your wedding party, bubbles in hand - the last thing you want is a bubble spillage ruining your outfit before you even make it to the reception!).

o A confetti cannon pouch - these are inexpensive palm-sized pouches which inflate via a straw and then pop up to release a shower of colorful tissue paper pieces (remember to check first that your ceremony venue allows this type of confetti before investing in these for the children though).

o Goody bags - As mentioned above, you could put together a bag for each child with a snack and a simple toy to keep them entertained (refer to Children’s Favors in Part III for unique ideas and recommendations for goody bag contents).

o Treasure hunt - If you have outdoor space available to you this would be a great time to organize a treasure hunt. I attended a wedding reception a few years ago where the groom-to-be arrived at the reception venue early and with the aide of a couple of his groomsmen planted small well wrapped toys and candy prizes in and around the venue gardens. During the cocktail hour, whilst us adults enjoyed champagne and nibbles, the children ran themselves ragged trying to find the treasure which was marked on the maps they had been given after the wedding ceremony. It was great fun to watch them and very inexpensive to organize. (NB: At this wedding there was no child care required because the adults were in the same enclosed (safe) gardens watching the children.)

If you intend on organizing a treasure hunt or even an Easter egg hunt remember to discuss this with your reception venue and check:

• that they will allow it (some venues are a bit finicky about children rooting through their shrubs!)

• whether they can help organize the treasure hunt if necessary

• whether you will need child care to supervise the children or are the adults likely to be in the same area and therefore be able to keep an eye on them

• is the outdoor space safe for the children to run around in – are there any danger areas (e.g. water features, ramshackle walls, expensive unstable statues)?


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception

For every sweet, charming, well-behaved child who you invite to your wedding be aware that there is also going to be another who is an uncontrollable monster! Even children who are absolute angels, when hungry, bored and tired, are liable to tantrums. Be prepared for this and minimize the chances of meltdowns during your reception by having plenty of entertaining and fun activities planned in advance for the children to divert their attention away from the fact that during the reception they are not the center of their parent’s attention. You cannot expect young children to sit still and quiet throughout the entire wedding reception.

With just a few tips and ideas you can have the wedding reception you have always dreamt of whilst keeping your pint-sized guests and their parents happy too.


Children’s Seating

Deciding place settings for your wedding reception can be one of the most challenging parts of planning your wedding reception. Keep it simple when it comes to seating children – decide at the outset whether you want a designated children’s table or not.


How To Decide Whether To Have A Separate Children's Table

♥ Firstly, look at your guest list and take note of the invited children’s ages. Children’s tables at weddings only really work with children over the age of 5 upwards. Therefore for under 5’s you might want to seat them on their parent’s table as some of them will need help with their food (e.g. having it cut up and fed to them, being encouraged to eat etc).

♥ Secondly, think about whether the children will be able to mix easily. If you have a lot of children attending the wedding who know each other (i.e. they are cousins/friends/schoolmates) then seating them on their own would be a great idea – they will be really excited to have their own table and will have great fun amusing each other and catching up during the wedding meal.

Handy Tip: Whilst you want the children to have a great time remember that if they are sitting together they are likely to be quiet boisterous. Have someone remind them that they should keep quiet during the speeches – whilst some heckling is expected during wedding speeches, unruly children screaming at one another is not!

♥ For children who don’t know one another I would not recommend seating them on their own table. Young children and teenagers alike can be painfully shy so it is kinder to sit them with their parents rather than force them to mingle with children they have never met before.

♥ Remember to take your child-free guests into consideration when deciding where to seat families with children at your reception – will they be happy sitting next to a boisterous two year old for the duration of the meal?

♥ When making your decision take into consideration that whilst some parents will want to keep their young children nearby, some parents feel that having a separate children’s table frees them up and allows them to relax and enjoy the wedding meal, speeches etc.

♥ Of course if you decide early on in your planning to hire sitters or child carers for the children during the reception then you could sit the smaller children with them at a children’s table - they will be able to supervise and help with feeding, cutting up food etc.

Top Tip: Let the venue know in advance how many children will require booster seats on the chairs or highchairs for little wrigglers (ask parents on the note you put in with the invitation whether they will require either of these on the day).


Organizing A Children’s Table

Whether you intend on seating children at their own table or are seating them alongside their parents at adult tables here are some pointers for how to make them comfortable and keep them entertained during the wedding meal.


Child-Friendly Centerpieces For The Tables At Your Reception

There is no point in putting extravagant centerpieces on children’s tables – they will be totally unappreciative of your carefully chosen potted orchid centerpiece. If you are looking for creative child-friendly centerpieces for the children’s table here are some ideas:


Candy Centerpiece - You could place a small bowl of candy or a couple of jars of candy in the center of the table. If the children are sitting with adults make sure there is enough for everyone. I attended a wedding last year where we had Dolly Mixture candies on each table which the adults pounced on – the children did not get a look in!

Handy Hint: If the children are sitting at a table on their own unsupervised don’t set out bowls of candy, such as jelly beans or M&M’s, which they can easily throw around. A good alternative is to give them an individual candy bar or cookie.


Fruit Centerpiece – For a healthier alternative (and to prevent the children peaking too early with their sugar highs!) you could create a decorative edible centerpiece made up of pieces of fruit.


Balloons – Whilst balloons are a perfect inexpensive and colorful way to decorate the children’s table beware that unsupervised crafty children with cutlery in front of them might make their own entertainment during your speeches!


Goldfish Bowl – I attended a fantastic wedding where the organizers had placed a bowl with a couple of goldfish in it on the children’s table. It made a really unique living centerpiece and completely enthralled the children who were entertained watching the fish swimming back and forth. You can place the bowl on top of a circular mirror in the center of the table, add colored stones (to match your wedding color theme), some rocks and a couple goldfish. These items are all quite inexpensive to buy and the best bit is you can give the bowl and fish to one of your guests at the end of the night (someone that does not to make a plane journey to get home!). Here are some tips to consider if you decide to go down the goldfish bowl route for your table centerpiece:

♥ You should check with your reception venue to make sure that they are agreeable to having goldfish on the tables.

♥ If the bowl is uncovered make sure the children are supervised - the last thing you want is them terrorizing the poor goldfish by poking them with breadsticks or throwing bits of chicken nugget in on top of them!

♥ Goldfish do not typically have a long lifespan so ask a member of the venue staff to check that the fish are still alive and well prior to the reception beginning – children and adults alike do not want to see goldfish floating belly up before they sit down to eat at your wedding!

♥ To prevent arguments breaking out over who claims ownership of the fish and bowls at the end of the night (especially if you are having goldfish bowls on more than one table) you could put a tag on each bowl with the name of who it should go home with. Alternatively you could award it as a prize for the best drawing, best dancing, best cookie decorating etc (see Prizes below).


Candy Topiary - I think Candy Topiary would make a fantastic centerpiece for the tables with children on them. They are mini topiaries made up of mini candy bars which the children (and adults) can pick off the tree during the reception. They were created by Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar for the Martha Stewart Show. Take a look at this video clip to see how easy they are to make yourself. You could even use candy bars in colors to match the theme of your wedding.


Themed Wedding Centerpiece – If you are planning a themed wedding or a beach wedding then carry this through to the child-friendly centerpiece which you choose. I love the idea for a seaside reception location of creating a pirate theme at the children’s table. You could have pirate flags, hats and eye patches decorating the table for the children to play with and in the center a pirate ship or a treasure chest filled with candies.


Children’s Tabletop Safety At Your Wedding Reception

♥ The decorations and centerpiece on the children’s table at your wedding reception not only has to look fun and enticing but also has to be child-friendly. To ensure the safety of the children do not place ornate towering candle holders or twinkling tea lights on their table.

♥ Avoid using crystal or glass drinking glasses for the children's table. To keep the children, the table and everyone else seated on it dry ask the venue to provide cups with lids for very small children. They might not add much to your beautiful table decorations but think of the alternative if a child spills their drink.

♥ Remember to tell your venue staff which table children are going to be seated on so that if you are having favors at your reception they do not give children adults favors by accident. This might sound obvious but I’ve attended a wedding before where expensive liqueur truffles and whisky miniatures were put on the children’s table!


Setting Up A Children’s Table

Discuss your preference for a children’s table with the manager at your wedding reception venue. They might be able to make helpful suggestions for creating child-friendly tables at your reception and they could possibly have a few games and toys on hand to keep the children entertained during the reception.

When planning the children’s seating and entertainment do remember to share your plans with your wedding reception venue staff. In particular, if you are intending on providing crayons, pencils and stickers for the children’s tables check that they allow them. Some venues (depending on how pernickety they are) might insist on using alternative table coverings for the children’s tables if there is any chance that they might get crayon or worse on them. Discuss your options with the venue manager and remember that having to switch to less expensive tablecloths for the children’s table is definitely preferable to losing your deposit because of a little one’s artistic efforts on the white damask tablecloth on your wedding day!


Activities To Entertain Children At The Table During The Wedding Meal

Whilst adults enjoy chatting and lingering over their meal at weddings (unless they are seated on the table with the bride’s mad uncle!) children need something fun to do otherwise they could get bored and create mayhem!

You can’t expect children, whether they are 4 months old or 14 years old, to sit quietly and happily at a table during a 4 course wedding meal followed by toasts and speeches. Be warned, bored children leads to screams of frustration during the speeches!

What you want is to plan age appropriate quiet activities to keep the children so busy that they will forget they are sitting at a table listening to boring speeches and waiting for (a) the food to be served and (b) the fun dancing to start!

Here are a few hints and tips for keeping a table full of young children entertained during the wedding meal:

♥ Coloring and Drawing - Washable crayons, pencils and paper are perfect – a lot of children will draw happily for hours. You could even arrange a children’s coloring competition - ask each child to draw a picture of the bride and groom and hand them in to a designated member of the bridal party when they have finished. You can judge the pictures, hand out prizes for the winner and runners up and you get to keep the pictures as a memento of your wedding day!

♥ Budget Option - If you are on a tight budget you could print off some pictures for coloring prior to your wedding and leave them on the table for the children with some washable crayons. Websites such as Free-coloring-pages.com offer a variety of free printable colorable pictures for children – your only cost will be some ink and printer paper!

♥ Tabletop Art - For instant tabletop entertainment cover the children’s table with white butcher paper and put out cartons of crayons. Let the children cover the table with their creative etchings - this should help to keep them occupied during the speeches and still protect the venue’s furniture.

Arts and crafts items are a great idea, but bear in mind that they will not hold the attention of all children for very long. Here are some further tips to help you entertain a table full of child wedding guests during your reception.

♥ Cameras - You could place a couple of disposable cameras on the table for the children to join in with the fun and take some snaps of the action at your wedding reception. If the children are unsupervised on their own table make sure you leave instructions for the older children on how to operate the camera.

♥ Goody Bag - On the table at each children’s place setting put a small box or bag containing toys and goodies appropriate to each child’s age. Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget or run out of time to organize goody bags you could simply place a small, age-appropriate, individual item in each child's place. Here are some ideas:

a puzzle book

sticker sets

small story book

mini activity books and washable crayons

coloring books

crayons, pencils and paper

sticker sets (younger children will definitely need to be supervised with these or you run the risk of having your wedding venue walls being jazzed up with Barbie stickers!)

assorted puzzles and tabletop games

a small box of Lego

stuffed finger puppets

masks and hats (these always provide a great party atmosphere for children)

a jewelry or bead set

Top Tip: For the sake of your other guests during the wedding meal I advise you to stay away from noisy items such as racing cars, books with noises, musical instruments, electronic games etc.

Make sure that the goody bags are clearly labeled with each child’s name and placed at their assigned seat so that there is no confusion (and no fists flying amongst the children) over which bag belongs to which child.

♥ Wedding Table Activity Sets - You could buy ready made wedding table activity sets. Search on the internet as there are lots of different varieties available for all age ranges and for both boys and girls. These sets cost $29.95 and come with enough fun activities to keep up to 6 children entertained.

For further unique gift ideas for the children at your wedding see Children's Favors in Part III.


How To Entertain Children After The Meal If You Have No Separate Room For Them At Your Wedding Venue

If your wedding venue has no separate room available for use by the children for the duration of your wedding reception then don’t panic – there are a couple of options available to you.

Activity Area – Set up a table in the corner of your function room (preferably as far away from the load music and bar area as possible) which is available throughout the evening for children to visit at their leisure. Even if you expect the children to be eating and then dancing all night, it doesn't hurt to have a table in the corner set up with crayons, pencils, paper, fun coloring and activity books and some board games and puzzles. As before, cover it with butcher block paper instead of a tablecloth. You could also set up an easel for the children to work at on their creative masterpieces.


Imaginative Play Area – Set up a children’s table with cuddly toys, mini-stuffed animals, feather boas, princess crowns, pirate hats and other fun costumes and toys for the children to play with. These are the type of items which you could ask to borrow from a local crèche or ask generous parents to lend them to you for your wedding reception.


Venue - Sometimes the actual venue itself can keep children amused (especially if it has a special child-friendly feature like a maze). Has your venue got lots of places to play games (e.g. hide and seek is a firm favorite) and run about? Remember to check whether your venue staff are happy for children to do this. Some venues will ask that children are supervised by an adult at all times during your wedding.

Even if you think children will be happy to sit with the adults during the wedding reception I recommend you have an area set up in a corner of the function room where they can leave the table and do some activities. Rather than sitting and listening to the wedding speeches (which, lets face it, must be boring for young children) they can move on to the activity table and entertain themselves.


Music And Dance For Children At Your Wedding Reception

We all know that children love to dance. I think for me that is the hardest part to understand of why couples don’t want children attending their wedding reception. There is nothing cuter than seeing children and adults dancing. You only have to look at some of the footage on You Tube to see how adorable children getting down on the wedding dance floor can be. This is part of the fun of having little ones at a wedding.


To Dance Or Not To Dance - If you are having musical entertainment at your wedding reception decide early on whether you want the children to join in with the adult guests on the dance floor. If you don’t want children sliding across the dance floor on their knees (I’ve seen adults do this too when they’ve had one too many drinks at weddings!) then there is no harm in making the evening entertainment an adult themed party. Simply make parents aware in advance of your wedding that the dance floor is strictly off-limits for children by putting a note in with their invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


Inflatable Fun On The Dance Floor - If you are including children in your evening dance entertainment, to add a bit of fun on the dance floor why not buy some blow up guitars, saxophones and microphones for the children (and the adults if they can get their hands on them!). They cost about $2 and are widely available on the internet from stores such as Noveltiesgalore.com. They are quite big when inflated so be aware that unsupervised children on the dance floor might end up using them as weapons against each other!


Dancing Competition - At my wedding there was no separate room available for the children so one of the things which I arranged was a disco dancing competition for the children which was judged, by my husband and I, and prizes handed out (we had runners up prizes for the less abled dancers too!).


Music For The Children - I recommend you get a good DJ for your wedding reception who is willing to include some fun songs at the beginning of the night for the children to dance to (they can save the schmaltzy stuff for later when the children go to bed!). By providing the children with music targeted at their age group you are allowing them to join in with the wedding fun which they (and their parents) are sure to appreciate.


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception If You Have Only A Bedroom Available

Don’t panic if you only have a bedroom available at the wedding venue for your use. As a nanny I’ve hosted plenty of fantastic children’s parties in some of the smallest hotel rooms known to mankind! I’ve even organized a pitch and putt competition with a plastic golf set and mountains of cushions for the children (both boys and girls) at one wedding party in a hotel room. All you need is to be prepared.

♥ Find out in advance if the room has a TV and DVD/VCR player for the chill-out movie session for the children later in the day. A CD player would be great too so that if you have younger children you can play some nursery rhymes.

♥ Ensure that on the wedding day the room is stocked up with child-friendly snacks, drinks, and games and craft supplies as mentioned previously.

♥ Borrow movies and children’s CD’s from friends for the wedding reception or ask your child carer if they could provide these.

♥ Obviously there would be a bed in the room for children to take naps on, but find out if any of your guests are going to need a travel cot or space for strollers for their small ones to nap in (you could ask them about this in the notes to parents – see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception If You Have A Separate Room Available

If your wedding venue is able to provide you with a function room at an affordable cost here are some tips for kitting it out and ideas for activities to keep the children entertained and out of mischief.


How To Set Up An Activity Room For Children Of All Ages


Furniture and Decoration

♥ The children’s room should be furnished like a traditional crèche or children’s nursery - table and chairs (small furniture would be better if you have children aged 1-4 attending), some floor cushions, bean bags or inflatable sofas (see details below).

♥ Depending on the ages of the children you are expecting to use the children’s room at your wedding reception, traditionally children prefer an arts and crafts table (or tables if you have a lot of children over the age of 4 years old), a comfy seated area for reading books and story telling, a television for movie time, a table set up for board games, puzzle play etc., and a table with some drinks and snacks set up on it. You can modify the room layout to suit the needs of the activities which you choose for the children on your wedding day.

♥ If your venue are unable to provide you with any furniture, or if you are getting married in an unfurnished venue, you could rent the pieces which you need. To hire or borrow furniture ask at a kindergarten, pre-school or church crèche close to the vicinity of your wedding venue. Alternatively, ask friends with children if they could lend you some of their children’s furniture. If you are unable to locate any furniture by these means hire companies offer children’s tables and chair, picnic tables and activity tables for daily rental.

♥ You could decorate the children’s room with balloons and soft furnishings matching your wedding color scheme.


Health And Safety In The Children’s Activity Room

No matter what the age range of children using the room is you must ensure that it provides them with a hazard-free and safe environment. Speak to your venue manager or person in charge of the children’s room and your child carer about your requirements. It should:

♥ be cleaned to a high standard (the flooring especially so if babies are likely to be crawling on it)

♥ have socket covers on unused electrical sockets

♥ have floor space which is clear of electrical cables (which children might trip on)

♥ have sufficient lighting for the children to carry out their arts activities, read books comfortably etc.

♥ be well ventilated with a source of heat/air conditioning

♥ have enough power sockets for CD players, electronic games etc.

♥ have lockable windows and doors and a well sign-posted fire exit (just in case)

♥ have a range of child-size aprons on hand to protect children’s smart clothes from glue, paint, frosting and any other messy decorative activities they might participate in – packs of 10 disposable children’s aprons are available for $3 from Kidzcraft.co.uk.

If you are employing a professional child carer they will have experience of how to maintain a comfortable environment in the children’s room for the children (e.g. comfortable room temperature, ventilation etc).


Activities For Children During The Wedding Reception

There are a wide range of entertainment choices suitable for every size and style of wedding venue which are sure to create a fun environment for the children.

To decide which activities to arrange, first find out what the age range of children attending your wedding will be. If you are setting up the children’s room yourself you will need to set out age appropriate games, e.g. children ages 5-11 really enjoy activities involving building and creating things and problem solving, whilst younger children prefer arts and crafts (the messier the better!) and imaginative play. Children aged 8 upwards like sports, board games, electronic games and activities based around hobbies (model making, beading, origami, chess etc). For more information on age appropriate activities for the children at your wedding check out Familytlc.net which has some great ideas.


Competitions

Competitions appeal to all children’s competitive streak and the chance of winning a prize, so why not organize one of the following:

♥ An art competition, with prizes for the best efforts, or for younger children have a coloring contest with prizes for the most colorful drawings

♥ A treasure hunt (see Part III for further details on this)

♥ An Easter egg hunt – I have organized this for a wedding before. We helped the children to make and decorate cardboard Easter egg baskets and then went into the grounds of the hotel to hunt for the pre-planted eggs. The winner who found the most plastic eggs was given a prize (no child went away empty handed though!)

♥ A disco dancing competition during the evening entertainment in the main function room or in the children’s room

♥ I’ve even attended a wedding where the child with the highest score on the Bopit toy won a prize.


Prizes For Children

If you are planning on organizing a few competitions to entertain the children at your wedding reception make sure that you buy some prizes to be handed out on the day. Leave them with your child carer (if you have one – otherwise ask venue staff to keep them hidden away from the children’s sight until you ask for them) so that she can hand them out to the children at the appropriate time. You can find small trophies at a party-supply store but more child-friendly prizes are candy and small toys. I supervised the children’s room at a very extravagant wedding once where MP3 players were given out as prizes to winners. This is fine if you have oodles of money in your wedding budget but really children are just as happy to receive a more typical prize of a coloring set, box of candy or sticker set. These are items that you can purchase in advance of your wedding (remember to check dollar stores for small inexpensive items too). For more ideas for prizes ask friends with children for suggestions, search on the internet or check out Smalltoys.com.

Make sure you buy enough to go around and have a few spare items put by just in case.

Top Tip: If you are having a treasure hunt, disco dancing or coloring competition make sure that everyone wins something – all of the children should be winners on your wedding day!


Art and Craft Activities

Children of all ages enjoy crafts so how about setting up an arts-and-crafts table in the children’s room. Provide some simple arts and crafts supplies such as coloring books, crayons, pencils, colored card, collage materials and glue sticks, sticker books with stickers and stencils.

Other craft activities which the children at your wedding might enjoy:

beading - supply beads for the children to make their own bracelets and necklaces which they can take home

pot painting

origami

handbag making and decorating

mask or crown making and decorating

T shirt painting – children could create a work of art which they can take away with them and wear. This is a very popular craft activity for children of all ages and abilities. Every child gets a new good quality T shirt to decorate using a range of fabric paints, marker pens and other decorative effects. You can hire companies such as Partypop.com who will come to your party and provide all the equipment including tables and stools and also supervising staff. Alternatively you could set this activity up yourself easily and ask your child carer to supervise the younger children. You can buy both t-shirts and the fabric paints, marker pens etc very inexpensively – try stores like Target and StencilWarehouse.com or alternatively they are available online at Kidzcraft.co.uk with prices starting at $4.


Other Activity Ideas

Toys such as miniature cars and a mat for them to play on, Bop It, Etch a Sketch, Battleships, card games like snap or Top Trumps

Comics and story books

Activity and puzzle books

Nail varnish painting (little girls love this!)

Jigsaw puzzles and board games – Organize popular games which can be played by children on tabletops or on the floor on their own or as a team, such as Operation, Connect 4, Pictionary, Monopoly, Mousetrap, Twister, Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Buckaroo, Cludo, Chess, Ludo, jigsaw puzzles etc (you can hire packages of board games Kidsco.co.uk if you are unable to beg steal or borrow them for your wedding). Also, I think this chocolate Jenga game would be a big hit with the children.


Piñata - How about investing in a wedding-themed piñata for the children. For those of you not familiar with this children’s party essential, piñatas are large papier-mâché dolls or shapes which are filled with small toys and sweets, hung from the ceiling and then the children take turns to hit it with a bat in an attempt to get it to release the treats inside. You can buy ready-filled piñatas or you can fill it yourself. They can be bought from party stores or websites such as Partypop.com. The piñatas are available in a variety of designs and themes. I love this one which costs $26 and is shaped like a wedding cake – how perfect is that! If its likely to be predominantly young children at your wedding it might be safer and easier to use a pull-string piñata.


Traditional party games - You must remember fondly what fun you had at parties as a child before Playstation Dance Mats and Ninetendo Wii’s were invented. Party games such as musical statues, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs are a great way of getting all the children at your wedding involved and having fun. For further party game ideas check out Littlekidsgamesonline.com.


Music – Have a CD player in the room so that the supervisor can play a choice of music depending on the age range of the children (ranging from nursery rhymes to disco music). You will also need music if the children are going to play games which require it, such as musical statues.


Cuddly toys, dolls and action figures – The children could bring their own doll or other toy to the wedding and dress them up, have a tea party or you could borrow a dolls house for them all to share.


Dressing-up clothes (especially wedding gowns, tiaras, top hats and kilts!) – Young children really enjoy imaginative role play and a chance to dress up in costume.

Movie making - If you are aware that you have some budding thespians amongst your younger guests you could ask them to put together a short movie. Ask your child carer in advance if they would be willing and able to operate a video camera and help with putting the show together with the children. Alternatively, ask your videographer to bring along an extra camera operator to work with the children in their room. Provide them with a trunk of old clothes, footwear, handbags, jewelry and any other child-friendly props you can lay your hands on. The supervising adult or eldest child within the group can help the children put together a simple story, allocate roles to each child (reluctant children could be given behind the scenes roles such as doing sound effects, background music, in charge of props etc. rather than acting parts), help them dress up, do their hair and make-up (just like real movie stars), rehearse their characters and then its lights, camera and action! The final video could be shown during the reception for the other wedding guests. It would make an excellent memento of your wedding day for the children and you. You could even award the stars of the movie chocolate Oscars!

Handy Hint: Dressing up clothes and accessories are definitely something that you could ask the children to bring in advance of the wedding in the note you put it with their invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


Puppets and a puppet theatre – Putting together a DIY puppet theatre is as simple as draping a large tablecloth over a table. Again, you could ask the children to bring their own puppets from home or even organize making puppets such as finger puppets or wooden spoon puppets as one of the craft activities available to them. They could then perform a puppet show together.


Building toys –Although it is predominantly boys who enjoy playing with Lego, Meccano and other construction toys, the girls do like to do some building work too. This is an activity which can be done on the table top or floor in the children’s room.


Ball Pool - How about setting up a ball pool or pit. The children will enjoy hours of fun together at your wedding diving around amongst the brightly colored balls. You can rent inflatable or pop up ball pits from companies such as Partyoutfitters.com for US customers or PJEntertainments.co.uk for UK customers, or you could borrow one from friends or buy a ball pool (with prices starting at $20 they shouldn’t break your wedding budget!).


Pop Up Play equipment - As with the ball pool idea, pop up play equipment is simple to set up in the children’s room (or outdoor space at your wedding venue) and is ideal for filling a large space quickly and cheaply. For venues where space is limited pop up castles and tunnels make a perfect soft play activity area for toddlers. Again, equipment like this is rentable (and reasonably cheap to buy) but I’m sure you know a parent who would be willing to share their pop up equipment with you.


Racing Cars - Whether you have boys or girls in the children’s room both will have fun playing with a 6 lane Scalectrix track. The track is available to rent complete with a choice of cars, grandstands, pitstops, bridges, control towers and experienced race marshals. Up to 6 children can compete against each other racing their Porsches and Formula 1 cars, amongst others. The only trouble I envisage for you with this idea is keeping the grown men away from it all night!


Sports Activities - Depending on how big a space you have to work with at your wedding venue you could transform the children’s room into a mini sports arena for the children - you won’t see them all evening! Rent or borrow ping-pong, air hockey and snooker tables, hula hoops, jump ropes, foam darts board and a mini golf putting machine or chipping net (with plastic golf balls obviously!).


Wii Consoles - Everyone knows how popular Ninetendo Wii’s are with children, so what better way to keep them happy at your wedding than to rent them for the children’s use. As well as Wii consoles companies such as this also have available for rental:

PS2 and Xbox machines, the latest state-of-the-art arcade video games, racing and flight simulators, Formula 1 and Rally Amusement Machines, Pac Man machines (very retro!).

♥ The machines are available with a good variety of age appropriate games, they can come with 2 or 4 controllers and they are all set on unlimited free play so the children do not need any money to play them (unless you want to cash in at your wedding!). You could even rent the dance mat and set up the dance games for the children – they are great fun. Typically the rental companies will bring the machines to your wedding venue, set them up and collect them at the end of the day. Prices start at $90 for one day rental of the Wii machine but you can book up packages of a couple of machines. Search on the internet for your local stockists or alternatively ask a friend with a machine if you can borrow it for your wedding.

Handy Hint: Hire companies do not usually include monitors for the machines which need them (although they are available to hire separately) so find out in advance if you can connect the machines to a TV or projector screen at your wedding venue. I supervised at a children’s party where the PS2 was connected up to the projector screen in the hotel’s conference room and the children had amazing fun competing against each other on such a huge screen with the spectating children cheering them on!


TV/DVD – Most wedding venues will be able to provide you with a TV and DVD player for the children to watch some cartoons or children's TV shows and/or use for connecting to PS2/Xbox machines (as mentioned above).

Handy Hint: Make sure an adult is supervising what the children are watching to ensure that it is age appropriate. I have experienced walking into an unsupervised Kids Club before and found the children (aged from 10 months up to 13 years old) all lined up on bean bags in front of the TV watching a particularly violent episode of South Park. It took me the rest of the day to convince my 3 year old nephew (who I had been collecting) not to repeat some of the inappropriate language and behavior he had seen!


Cinema – Ask your venue staff to have a TV (preferably a large plasma screen) set up with a DVD player in the children’s room and transform it into a movie theatre for them in the evening. Have the child carer ask the children for their movie preference from the selection you have available and go with the most popular choice or choices.

♥ If you want to be really organized let the children and parents know in advance (in the note you send them with the invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV)) the proposed movie start time and movie choices (ask friends with children for their top movie choices and ask to borrow the DVD if possible).

♥ Also, remember your reception venue (particularly if it is a hotel) might be able to provide you with a selection of up-to-date DVD’s for the children’s viewing pleasure.

♥ Organize for drinks, candy, potato chips, pretzels, popcorn or ice cream to be served during the movie or at the break halfway through the movie (for a toilet break). If chairs or sofas are unavailable use bean bags and cushions to make a comfy area for the children to sit. You could even purchase fun inflatable sofas for as little as $8 on eBay.com.

♥ At a local hotel where I used to supervise the children’s crèche they had an in-house movie theater which seated approximately 100 people. At 7.30pm on weekends, and when weddings and other functions were taking place at the hotel, they showed a just released movie (appropriate to the ages of the children attending) which ran with a short break halfway through (for hotdogs, fries, popcorn and a trip to the toilet). This was so popular with the children, the adults and the supervisors who got to sit down and have a breather! The reason I mention this is that you should check with your reception venue whether they themselves have an in-house movie theater or auditorium with large screen which could be used by the children attending your wedding. It really makes the day special for the children, gives them something to look forward to and helps them to wind down towards the latter part of the evening after all the fun and frolics of their day.


Children's Karaoke – The children could host their own karaoke party. Regardless of their age and talent giving them 5 minutes in the spotlight with a microphone will make them feel like superstars. The supervising adult could give each child a slot on the karaoke machine to perform their own rendition of their favorite song! Karaoke machines are inexpensive to hire (if you don’t already have one or know someone who is willing to lend you theirs). For hire in the USA check out Partymachines.com or for UK karaoke machine hire try Rock-box.co.uk.


Music and Dancing - As mentioned previously, children love to join in with the adults on the dance floor. However you might decide that it would be more enjoyable for both the children and adult guests if they had their own dance space.

♥ If you have a lot of space available to you at your wedding venue and a flexible budget you could hire a lively DJ solely for the children in a separate room. This is a fantastic way to entertain them. As mentioned previously you could ask the DJ or supervising adult to organize a disco dancing competition and award prizes for the best (and worst!) efforts.

♥ To add a unique and exciting element to your wedding, and to get the children using up some energy, you could organize dance instructors to teach them some disco dancing routines to the latest pop hits! This is suitable for children aged 7 upwards but I know that younger children would love to have a try and join in too (you try stopping them!). Once the instructors have taught the children some dance routines you could let the children put on a performance for your wedding guests.

♥ Be prepared though, you could go to the trouble and expense of organizing all of the above for the children but some enthusiastic youngsters might still surface on the dance floor in amongst their parents and the other boogying adult guests.


Holiday Themed Activities For The Children

Halloween – How about some pumpkin carving (no sharp knives though for the younger children), bobbing for apples or toffee apple decorating.

Easter – As mentioned, you could organize an Easter egg hunt or, at the art table in your children’s room, set up materials for decorating Easter egg baskets, bonnets or simply have Easter- themed coloring pictures for the children.


How To Set Up A Toddlers Area

If the children attending the wedding are predominantly toddlers you might want to set up an Under 5's Activity Area for them. To do this add a good selection of colorful, appealing soft toys and age appropriate equipment including activity gyms, small slides, rockers, ride on cars, mini bouncers, mini see saws, pop up castles etc.

With play equipment for toddlers it is best that the children are not left unsupervised. For their safety arrange to have this area manned by a qualified child carer or at the very least a parent who is willing to take responsibility for supervising the area.

When hiring children’s play equipment from companies (as mentioned above) check that they comply with health and safety regulations and ask someone (a venue staff member or a friend whose children are attending your wedding) to check that the room looks safe, clean and properly set up for the children.

With all of the suggestions which I have made above simply choose from them a selection of pieces to suit your space and location.


How To Set Up A Baby Play Area

Similarly, if a lot of parents are bringing babies to the wedding you could set up a Baby Play Area for them to enjoy. You will need to make sure that floor coverings are suitable for crawling infants. I suggest that you arrange to put down a baby-friendly soft floor covering and add bean bags (for child carers and parents to lounge on) as well as some colorful, clean and fun baby play equipment. Babies love interactive toys especially those with lights, sound and music.

If your guests include mums with young babies remember to ensure that there is an adequate area at the wedding venue for them to be changed and fed. For Mums who are still breastfeeding they will need somewhere comfortable, quiet and private (not a bathroom) to feed their babies. Although it will be difficult for you to judge how many babies will be present at your wedding, particularly if you are planning your wedding more than 9 months in advance, it is best to be prepared and organize somewhere for them just in case.


How To Set Up A Children’s Chill Out Zone

Whilst some teenagers will be quite happy to join the “grown ups” on the dance floor, the majority of them will not get into the festivities as much as the adults. Teenagers do love being treated like adults though so if you are expecting teenage wedding guests why not set up a separate room for them – their own chill-out room to relax and watch TV, listen to music, watch a show or just hang out with friends. You could create a lounge atmosphere with a few tables, chairs, inflatable furniture, bean bags, comfy cushions and funky furniture (all of which can be rented). Provide them with a stereo system to listen to their own choice of music, supply sodas, magazines and a selection of board games. If your budget extends to it you could even arrange for them to enjoy their own karaoke machine, computer with games or rent a games machines (as mentioned above). I guarantee your teenage guests won't want to leave!


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This is Part II of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part III and Part IV for the full article

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
Date: January 23, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Children & Etiquette & Family & Guests & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas & Venues

This is Part III of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part IV for the full article


Hire A Professional To Entertain The Children During The Wedding Reception

If you are planning on inviting lots of children, and if your wedding budget can stretch to it, you might want to consider hiring a professional entertainer to keep the children amused.

I’ve organized entertainers for a few children’s parties in the past and I have to say that there are a wide variety of options available to suit most budgets and locations. Depending on how much you can afford to spend, the wedding venue location and the age range of children who need entertaining, you could choose from the following performers:


Clowns – Clowns are very popular with children and adults alike. Most clowns will provide you with a bit of energetic clowning, juggling and stilt walking. For further information have a look at Fun Factory Parties For Kids.


Magicians - Typically magicians put on a magic show for the children but they can also mingle at the wedding reception and perform a few tricks for the adults too. Costs are in the region of $180 an hour for a professional magician but you can book them for less than an hour. For more information check out Gigmasters.com.


Face painters – Children love having their face painted, it makes them feel very special. To hire someone to come to your party and paint the children’s faces will cost in the region of $95 an hour. I am not a professional face painter but I have tried my hand at painting children’s faces and it is far easier than you might think to do a few simple designs. I recommend that you ask your child carers if they are willing to have a go and provide them with face paints, crayons, brushes, a book giving some face decorating ideas and some wet wipes (for mistakes!). Face paint kits are inexpensive too. Prices start at $9 such as this kit which is available from Amazon.com.

Top Tip: If you are considering having face painting as an activity at your wedding remember to ask parents if they mind their children getting their face painted beforehand.


Balloon modelers – Children can have hours of fun watching balloon modelers and learning hands-on how to make funny shapes. You could hire one such as BillyBanana.com or think about purchasing a balloon modeling starter kit for $11 and ask your child carers or more mature children at the wedding to get creative with the balloons!

Top Tip: If you are considering leaving the children alone with the entertainers make sure that they have police checks done etc for peace of mind.


Caricature Artist - Caricature Artists could entertain both children and adults alike by doing cartoon portraits which resemble your wedding guests in a humorous fashion. The added bonus for your guests is that they get to take the picture home - a unique reminder of your wedding day! The average cost is approximately $100-$200 per hour per artist. Search on TheKnot.com for artists in the vicinity of your wedding venue.


Impersonator – Impersonators such as Batman, Cinderella, Dora The Explorer, Mickey Mouse, Captain Jack Sparrow, etc could mingle amongst the children and entertain them with jokes, singing, and dancing. Partypop.com have a selection of characters available for hire by the hour. You could even hire seasonal favorites for a winter or Easter wedding by having Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny drop by to say hello to the children and hand out some treats!


Pirates of the Caribbean – If you are planning a wedding with a pirate theme (unlikely I know!) or if you just want to organize some fun entertainment for the children then how about a pirate adventure with games or a real Treasure Hunt. Captain Jack and his crew provide the children with maps, teach them the art of treasure hunting and help them find a real wooden chest filled with pirate’s loot! Prices start at $75 for 30 minutes of entertainment. For more details click here.


A Storyteller - A Storyteller will come to your chosen venue, tell one story (using visual props such as finger-puppets, flannel-board shapes etc) and play games in character for between 30 minutes to 1 hour. They can adapt it to suit the ages of the children in your audience the approximate cost is $50 upwards including travel, costume and materials. For more information search for mobile storytellers on the internet or check out Pepperspollywogs.com or Glutch.co.uk.


Circus Skills Workshop – If you are hosting an outdoor wedding reception you could hire circus entertainers who will teach children some basic circus skills such as juggling, plate spinning and unicycle riding. Companies such as CircusUnlimited.com offer circus skills workshops where hire includes a basic costumed entertainer plus the relevant equipment.


Mime artist – Mime artists perform short acts, acted out without words. Although not a traditional children’s party favorite they can cater to a younger audience. For more details check out WeddingPartyHelp.com.


Ventriloquist – I’ve been to a children’s party before and they loved the ventriloquist (he made animal puppets talk without moving his own mouth). The show I watched lasted 1 hour but you can ask for it to be shortened if you have young children with a short attention span. Ventriloquists cost in the region of $50 - $190 per hour. For more details take a look at Gigmasters.com.


Make a Bear Workshop – This idea is best suited for children at your wedding between 4 to 11 years of age. A costumed character comes along to your venue to host a party for up to 10 children where they each build their own bear to take home. The mobile party entertainment company provide the materials for making the bears, prizes, stickers and balloons too for $150. For more details contact the mobile workshop at CaliforniaClownSchool.com or try Traveling Stuff-N-Fluff Noah's Ark Animal Workshops. Alternatively you can order your own Make-Your-Own Stuffed Animal Kits and ask your child carers to supervise and help the children make their own bears. I think this is a lovely idea and it also provides the children with a unique memento of your wedding day!


For further details and unique ideas search in Google for children’s party entertainers or in your Yellow Pages. Alternatively TheKnot.com have a list of local entertainment vendors and party-planning companies on their website.


Tips For Hiring Children’s Entertainers For Your Wedding

♥ Do bear in mind that if you are already planning on having entertainers at your wedding reception for the adults, such as caricaturists, magicians or (if you are planning a medieval themed wedding) jugglers, jesters or stilt walkers, they can double up as entertainers for younger guests too at no extra cost.

Handy Hint: You might have to pay travel fees on top for entertainers you hire – make sure you ask them about this.

♥ Whether you end up hiring a clown, magician, pirate, face painter or storyteller do make sure that they have had previous experience entertaining large groups of children in a similar environment. Prices given above are just to give you an idea of what you are likely to pay. I recommend shopping around for comparable rates amongst the children’s entertainers.

♥ Remember also that they not only have to be affordable but also professional. I have witnessed a magician at a children’s party whose language deteriorated rapidly during his 30 minute show, shocking both adults and children! Check the entertainer’s previous customer’s testimonials to help you find the right entertainer for your young audience. You want someone who is skilled at entertaining children, reliable when it comes to timekeeping and can be trusted around them. If you are not booking them through a reliable agency I recommend you ask them to provide you with evidence of criminal background checks etc. (especially if they are being left alone with the children at any stage).


Activities For Children If You Have Outdoor Space Available At Your Wedding Venue

I know from first hand experience that if going outside is an option at a wedding reception children want to do it – they love running around, playing games and generally having fun and letting off steam.

Handy Hint: If you are planning a summer wedding look for a venue with outdoor space for the children.

If your wedding venue has outside space you could organize the following:


Outdoor Play Area – Set up outdoor games which are inexpensive to buy (even cheaper if you can arrange to borrow them from friends!), including children’s bowls, boules, croquet, cricket, Swingball and skittles.


Garden Games – Games which work well in small outdoor spaces are extra large outdoor versions of classic party games, such as Giant Connect 4, Horseshoe Toss, Noughts and Crosses, Draughts and Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Twister and Jenga. Companies such as this allow you to book these giant games either individually or as part of a larger package of activities and games - costs start from $15 for 1 day hire. Games can be supplied with hard-wearing mats for the game boards to sit on outdoors. These games are perfect for being played on the grass, decked area or concrete surface, so long as you anticipate good weather. If rain (or worse) is forecast for your wedding day then prepare a back-up plan for where the garden games can be set up. All of these games can also be used indoors.


Traditional Sports Games - If you are planning an outdoor afternoon, barbeque or picnic-style wedding you could organize sports games for the children under the supervision of child carers (as mentioned above). Games which children of all ages (and adults!) find fun to participate in are:

three-legged race

a one-footed hop

a pass-the-egg-on-the-spoon or baton relay race

races (great for encouraging the children to mingle and get to know one another as team-mates)


Chalk Pavement Games - If there are pavements or a concrete outdoor area at your wedding venue the children could do some chalk art work on them or even chalk out a game of hopscotch to play on. You must remember to ask permission from your venue staff first. They might ask that at the end of the children’s play session with the chalk your child carer washes it away (it washes off very easily). All you have to do is supply the children with huge sticks of colored chalk and let them show off their artistic flair. If you are hosting a wedding reception which is taking place largely outdoors this is a lovely idea as the children’s chalk artwork will be on display for your guests to appreciate.


Treasure Hunt - As mentioned previously, organizing a treasure hunt can be really fun for children and for adult spectators too. If you are not hiring a child carer for your wedding reception you could ask one of your attendants or another willing volunteer to take charge of the treasure hunt. You could make up clues or provide the children with a map in advance to lead them to the treasure, which could be a treasure trove filled with candies or toys. How difficult you make the treasure to find is dependent on the age range of children who will be taking part in the treasure hunt. Don’t make it too hard as they will lose interest. See “Treasure Hunt” in Part II for further tips on how to organize this activity.


Mini Crazy Golf - Renting a miniature crazy golf course will provide hours of entertainment for children at your wedding reception. The moveable golf courses are ideal for use both indoors or outdoor, so they are perfect if you are unsure of what sort of weather you can expect on your wedding day. Typically the 9 hole mini golf course is delivered to your wedding venue with a selection of scorecards, pencils, balls and putters for the children's use. For more details click here or search on the internet for a local mini golf hire company close to your wedding venue.


Inflatable Fun - If your wedding venue has space outdoors, if the weather is likely to be good and if it is within your budget, you could consider renting an inflatable - they are fantastic fun for children at weddings. Bouncing for a couple of hours on a bouncy castle is a great way for children on a sugar rush to burn off energy! Inflatables available for hire include bouncy castles, giant Twister, inflatable board games, galleons, inflatable obstacle courses and lots more - the choice is huge. Inflatables can be rented from $120 upwards. The rental company will come to your wedding venue and set up the inflatable for you. They will probably offer you advice on where it should be set up at your specific location. I recommend that you set it up well away from the main reception area and make sure that it’s supervised by a responsible adult at all times (some companies can provide an operator for the inflatable if you prefer). Check out your local inflatable rental company on the internet or click here.


Bubble Machines - Younger children love outdoor bubble machines. These are simple to set up and can mystify little ones for hours trying to catch the bubbles! They cost from $7 upwards to buy or you can rent the machines and jumbo bubble wands for the children to make their own make giant bubbles from companies such as this.


Nature Trail Walk - Whilst children don’t always appreciate the beauty of their natural surroundings if you are having a daytime wedding in beautiful surroundings, they might find it fun to go on a nature trek through the grounds of the venue. Perhaps you could ask the venue staff about hiring a professional child carer with local knowledge who could take the children for a walk and point out native plants and animals. To engage the children you could ask the child carer to supply lists of the flowers, birds, and insects they are likely to see and they can check them off as they spot them on the walk. Alternatively the trek could end with the children drawing a picture of their favorite thing they spotted along the way and offer prizes for their efforts. NB: If your budget can stretch to it you could provide each child with a disposable camera so that they can snap away at the wonders of Mother Nature (or of each other!).


Sandbox – Children love digging, burying, sifting, pouring, shaping and shoveling sand so why not set them up with their very own sandbox. You could fit a sandbox into even the smallest outdoor space at your venue. In good weather the children will get a lot of hours of enjoyment out of a sandbox. Prices start at $20 for a pop-up sandbox which is easy to assemble or you could ask a friend with children to borrow theirs. Remember to ask your wedding venue’s permission to set this up in their grounds and also organize who will empty out and remove the sandbox at the end of the wedding.


Beach Play - If you are planning a beach wedding then the best form of entertainment for children comes courtesy of Mother Nature - playing in the sand! Make sure their play is supervised by an adult though as even the most child-friendly beaches are not without their own dangers.


Kite Flying - If the weather forecast for your wedding day is likely to be warm and windy then that would make perfect kite flying conditions. It would be a nice touch to provide a few ready-made kites or ask the children prior to the wedding to bring their own kites for flying. Alternatively you could provide the materials and instructions and make the kite-making part of the activity. After the wedding, children get to take their kites home. Prices for kite kits start at $5.


Ranch Fun - If you are planning a western themed wedding at a ranch, like Hollywood stars Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell, set up an area in the ranch grounds with hay bales for the children to have fun on, or organize wagon, hayrides or tractor rides for them. Local horse stables or nearby farms might be able to offer help with organizing this type of entertainment for the children. Along the same theme in the winter, if the weather permits, you could entertain the children with a sleigh ride.

Top Tip: If you are planning outdoor activities for the children in good weather it’s a good idea to make sure that you have some child-friendly sun block available for the child carers to use (frantic parents dressing their child and getting them out of the door to your wedding might well forget this essential).


Fireworks – Fireworks make a spectacular finale to a wedding reception for children and adults alike. I attended a wedding where the bride and groom organized a fireworks display in the evening before the children were packed off either home or up to their hotel bedrooms with sitters. It was a lovely way to round off the evening for the children. We bundled them all up in coats (it was November in Scotland so it was predictably freezing outside!) and took them out to watch the stunning explosions of color above our heads. I loved seeing the looks of pure delight on the children’s faces. The fireworks were definitely the talking point of the wedding.

If you are thinking of having fireworks at your wedding I recommend you purchase a display that is prepared and fired by professionals (otherwise you will have to think about insurance and Health and Safety). It’s definitely recommended to use firework experts as there are a lot of rules and regulations for handling fireworks near children. Speak to your wedding venue staff who are sure to be able to help you locate a reputable local firework display specialist.


Tent - If you are hosting your wedding in a tent or marquee then you could consider giving the children their own tent and setting up the children’s fun zone in there. You could rent a smaller tent for the children and kit it out with fun activities to entertain them, as set out above.


The above are just a selection of ideas to help keep the children occupied during your wedding ceremony and reception. You can choose any of these activities you think will be age appropriate for the children who are likely to attend your wedding and tailor them to meet your own space and budget limitations.


Children’s Activity Equipment Costs

If you are organizing the children’s activity area at your wedding venue yourself, rather than hiring a mobile crèche team, then you needn’t worry that you will have to make a huge financial outlay to get your hands on the activity materials, toys etc. Whilst it will be inexpensive for you to pay out for some crayons, paper and a few small toys, no parent at your wedding would expect you to go to the expense of buying lots of sports equipment, different board games or PS2 games! With all of the equipment which you don’t want to purchase yourself (e.g. large items such as ball pools and expensive items like air hockey tables), your options are to either:

♥ search on the internet for local companies which rent them out on a daily basis

♥ if your wedding reception is being held in a hotel or country-club you might find all of the equipment you need is available within the grounds – it’s worth checking with your venue staff

♥ contact your local kindergarten, pre-school or crèche facility and ask if you can borrow theirs

♥ ask friends and family with children if they, or anyone they know, have the relevant equipment and ask to borrow them

♥ don't overlook the dollar stores and clearance racks for bargains which you can use to amuse the children at your wedding

♥ if all else fails try eBay where your sure to find some good deals.

Handy Hint: Check with child carers, sitters and the staff at your wedding venue as to what will be provided for the children. Sometimes child carers bring toys and games with them, and your venue might be able to provide a TV, DVD player and possibly other furniture, equipment and toys for use by the children. It’s worth asking as it could well save you time and money if they intend on providing entertainment materials – you have other things to organize I’m sure!


Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests

It goes without saying that you should not have to worry about the individual routines of children attending your wedding. However, if you are arranging an all-day wedding event which goes on late into the night then you can be sure that children under the age of 5 will wilt at some stage (even the adults will flag!). Unless parents have rented rooms in the venue where you are holding your wedding reception they are going to have difficulties in keeping to their little one’s routines and be able to put them down for a nap during the day. It would be in their best interests, and your own, for you to provide somewhere for younger children to take a nap – you don’t want bad-tempered sleep-deprived children at your wedding!

♥ Why not set up a quiet room where they can have an afternoon nap or chill-out to keep them going until bedtime. Parents will be sure to appreciate this as it will mean that they will not have to leave your wedding reception early and this will help to prevent cranky children when they miss their nap-time.

♥ You don’t have to do this on a major scale. You can opt for setting up a corner of the reception room with a few toys or some soft cushions for little ones to crash on (if they are able to settle in noisy rooms). Alternatively, if you have a separate room available away from all the noise and excitement of the reception you could set up a quiet nap room with some mats, comfy blankets and a CD player for nursery rhymes or soft music where they can rest comfortably.

♥ You could also ask the venue staff to provide a least one travel cot for any babies and perhaps a few rollaway beds etc. Ask parents in advance if they are intending on using this facility, to get an idea of how many sleepyheads you are catering for.


Important Points To Remember When Organizing Children’s Activities

♥ Whatever activities you decide upon for your reception, choose items that are age appropriate for the children that will be attending your wedding.

♥ I recommend that you avoid encouraging the children to play games such as football or rugby which are going to encourage the little ones to get their party clothes dirty – you won’t endear yourself to their parents when they return from their outdoor play session covered in grass stains and dirt!

♥ Try to give every child their own activities. Whilst we like to think that all children learn from a tender age to share toys, we know that the reality is some children find it very hard to share (especially the 2 year olds!) and some children are used to getting their own way. The last thing you want at your wedding is children fighting over games and activities. The same goes for snacks and treats – make sure there are enough for each child. To a certain extent if you have a child care supervisor they will be able to deal with any clashes between the children over sharing toys or waiting for turns on activities.

♥ Whatever activities you choose for the children make sure you plan them well in advance, e.g. find out which art and craft materials you need to supply for a certain activity, buy them in advance, have them packed and ready to deliver to your wedding venue and then arrange for them to be delivered to and set up at your wedding venue on the day. How smoothly the children’s activities come together on your wedding day depends heavily on the advance preparation by either you or your nominated children’s activity planning helper.


Children's Favors

Children attending your wedding are not going to care about whether the color of your napkins matches your table lines or whether your wedding flowers are silk or fresh. If you provide entertainment and feed and water them they are going to have a good time regardless of all the other efforts you have gone to with your wedding planning. The same can be said of wedding favors for the children. If you give them some candy or a goody bag they will be happy.

The modern trend at weddings is for children to be presented with a goody bag (similar to the type children are given at parties) as they arrive at the wedding reception. Your young guests will be delighted with your thoughtfulness and your effort to make them feel welcome at your wedding (and so will their parents).
In the goody bag is usually a mixture of items including:

a coloring book with a small box of crayons

small inexpensive toys and games

candy (a tube of Love Hearts would be very appropriate!)

If you are putting in items which are gender or age-related make sure you identify which goody bag is for which child by labeling them. You don’t want a 4 year old girl ending up with a DIY airplane modeling kit and your 8 year old nephew opening his bag to find a glitter nail varnish kit! Try to choose items to suit each child's individual tastes (age and gender). If you are unsure of what to put in the bags ask friends and family with children as they will know better than anyone what amuses children.

If you have a look on the internet you will see lots of child-friendly unique products for wedding party gifts. Paperposie.com offer a Wedding Day Kit which is packed with activities including postcards for the children to color, crayons and stickers. For inspiring age-appropriate gifts take a look at Elc.co.uk which has a fantastic website which allows you to select the age and gender of the child you are choosing a gift for. Also check out the selection of children's wedding party bags by Frog in the Field featured at Bridalwave.tv which are sure to keep your younger guests entertained.


CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE

This is Part III of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part IV for the full article

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


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Would You Let Your Husband And His Best Mates Plan Your Entire Wedding?
Date: October 30, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Etiquette & Funny & Groom & Planning & TV Shows & Unique Ideas

The traditional roles of primary wedding planner usually fall to (a) the bride or (b) the wedding planning but it is extremely rare for the job to be passed to (c) the groom! That is exactly what happens during "Don't Tell the Bride", a brand new six-part series on BBC Three which sees grooms planning the entire wedding without any input from the bride. As the groom is banned from having contact with the bride until the wedding ceremony, the only people he can turn to for advice are his best mates.

Whilst most bride-to-be’s agree on the fact that they want their partner to be involved in the wedding planning, would any bride actually want him to organise the complete wedding day? This new reality TV show follows the husbands-to-be as, armed with a £12,000 budget and a 4 week deadline, they negotiate the ups and downs of planning the wedding day their future bride has always dreamt of. They must organize every single thing for the wedding themselves, including choosing a wedding theme, a venue, organizing the stationery, catering, transportation, photography, entertainment and the all important wedding attire.

As the average cost of a wedding in the UK at present is approximately £15,000 I think that the £12,000 budget which the show has provided the groom with is a realistic amount. Of course that depends on whether the groom is able to calculate a wedding budget and stick to it. If he can’t then he might be forced to cut costs in places his bride may not agree with on the wedding day!

Through video diaries viewers can watch the excitement and drama unfold as the wedding plans progress from both the bride and groom’s viewpoint.

Viewers will be able to witness what happens when you mix a wedding obsessed bridezilla with impressively glamorous plans for her wedding with a notoriously disorganised fiancé who is left to organise the wedding on his own in 4 weeks - it sounds like a sure-fire recipe for disaster! The couple in question, who participated in “Don't Tell the Bride”, are Katy and Sam of Weybridge, Surrey. It fell on Sam’s shoulders to organize the wedding which Katy had always wanted. However whilst she had dreamt of a stylish white and silver theme for her big day, Sam opted for a Moulin Rouge theme complete with DIY table decorations and invitations. To read more about their story click here.

Even though Katy admitted that she really enjoyed the wedding day which Sam had planned for them both, according to The Daily Mail, she said that

“Looking back, I do feel as though something was taken away from me. Not being involved in the planning myself left me feeling a little as though I had turned up at someone else's wedding rather than my own.”

Whilst this type of wedding reality show makes great viewing, I personally don’t think I could have give my husband the responsibility of planning our entire wedding. This is not because I fear he would have made terrible choices, as I trust his taste implicitly plus he is far more organized than me, however I would have hated for him to be put under that amount of pressure and stress. I think it is so important for both the bride and groom to enjoy the build-up to their wedding day.

I think that the brides featured on "Don't Tell The Bride", regardless of their partner’s wedding planning blunders, should realise how lucky they are to have a man that was willing to take on this responsibility and role.

Watch for yourself to see how each of the couples fare - "Don't Tell The Bride" is on BBC Three on November 8th at 9pm.

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50 Money Saving Tips From Martha Stewart
Date: June 06, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Flower & Decorations & Magazines & Planning & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

If you are looking for some money saving tips when it comes to planning your wedding then you should definitely check out Martha Stewart’s website. Her feature “50 ways to trim your budget” contains fantastic budgeting tips for general wedding planning, flowers, decorations and catering.

Here are a few of my personal favourites:

Pay wedding costs with a credit card to earn frequent-flyer miles toward your honeymoon. Just make sure to avoid incurring interest charges by paying the balance in full each month.
After the event, donate your flowers to a hospital or nursing home; it's a thoughtful thing to do and also a tax deduction.
Eliminate reply cards and have guests handwrite a note instead. You'll save on stationery and postage, and the responses will be great keepsakes.

Take a look for yourself as the tips are sure to give you some inspiring ideas and help to shave money off your all important wedding budget!

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Unique Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Gift For Your Parents
Date: May 25, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Extended Family & Family & Gifts & Second Weddings & Unique Ideas

Hi Everyone,

I received this question:

First and foremost I wanted to thank you for your site being so helpful and the best wedding advice ever! I will definitely be using your site to help me arrange my own wedding!

The question that I have for you is not for my wedding, however, but for my mother's. She is getting remarried in the VERY near future and my 2 brothers and I are completely stumped with the question of what to get them as a wedding gift. Our situation is that my brothers and I are all in our early 20's and don't have a lot to spend on a wedding gift. Our budget would be around $500.

In addition to that, they are moving to Greece right after, which makes it much harder to think of a good wedding gift. I've searched online for hours, but no website has any tips for good wedding gift ideas for your parent(s). So, I was wondering if you had any good ideas up your sleeve and could help me out.

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your kind comments about my website. I’m really pleased that you enjoy reading my wedding blogs.

I have a couple of suggestions to make with regard to solving your wedding gift dilemma for your Mother and future Step-father at their upcoming wedding. I think that $500 is a perfectly reasonable budget for a gift from you and your brothers so don’t worry about that - the most perfect wedding gift can sometimes be the least expensive option on offer. Have a think about what sentiment you want to convey with your wedding gift. Do you want it to be something fun and unique or do you want it to be a sentimental reminder of their special day? Here are some ideas:

Gift Certificate

♥ Two of the most stressful things couples experience in life are getting married and moving home. If your Mother and her fiancé are doing both in the upcoming months then it sounds like they could definitely use a bit of pampering once the wedding and house move are completed. How about a gift certificate for a luxurious 5 star resort in Greece. I imagine that not only will this be appreciated by the newlyweds as a welcome chance to de-stress and relax but it will also allow them to experience another area of Greece which they might not otherwise have chosen to visit. Most of the luxury hotels in Greece offer gift certificates. Be sure to ask when booking whether the certificates can be used for spa treatments and dining as well as for overnight stays at the hotel. Gift certificates are usually valid for up to 2 years so the newlyweds don’t have to feel pressurized into booking their pampering treatment/overnight break straight away. Check out Greek hotels resorts and spa information at websites such as Relaischateaux.com or Myconiancollection.gr.

Ship It

♥ Traditionally second time brides and grooms have already have set up their own households so I assume that your Mother and her fiancé will not need traditional wedding registry items such as toasters, kettles and towels. However, if there are any practical home goods or other items which your Mother or her fiancé have expressed an interest in then do not feel put off. You could buy the gift and follow either of the options below:

♥ Arrange to have the gift shipped to the newlyweds’ new home in Greece. This is perfect if the newlyweds are emigrating shortly after the wedding but if their move is not for a few months you might prefer to present them with the wedding gift on their wedding day.

♥ Alternatively you could buy the gift, give it to them on their wedding day and additionally provide them with a shipping gift certificate to cover the cost of shipping the item to Greece as and when they move. Iomoi.stores.yahoo.net offers shipping gift certificates in denominations of $5 (they have a handy facility for calculating how much your chosen item will cost to ship to Greece).

Picture It

♥ If you want to give the newlyweds something a bit more heartfelt and sentimental then why not arrange to have a formal photo session with you and your brothers. I’m sure that your Mother and her new husband would love to receive a beautifully framed photo. You could choose an elegant silver frame and have it engraved with a special wedding message from the three of you. Do bear in mind that not all formal photo sessions result in cheesy “posed” photos. Choose a photographer who is willing to let you all relax and be yourselves, strike some fun poses and allow the photographer to capture your true personalities that your Mother knows and loves. If you are considering this option then remember that image proofs are usually available three weeks after the photo session - so make sure you organize this well in advance of the wedding.

♥ Alternatively, if you like the idea of presenting the newlyweds with a photo frame but are not keen on a framed portrait of yourself and your brothers then how about giving an engraved elegant photo frame on its own or insert into it a photo of the happy couple pre-wedding.

♥ Another low-cost variation on the photo idea is to use family photos and photos of your Mother and her partner during their early years together and produce a custom-made photo book. Websites such as www.shutterfly.com allow you to upload your digital photos onto their site and then create your own hard-cover photo album. This would not only make a lovely keepsake for the newlyweds but would be easy for them to transport to Greece.

Expat Gift Hamper

♥ As your Mother and her new husband are planning on emigrating to Greece then how about a gift certificate from a company which will provide them with a taste of home. If they get homesick for their favorite US treats they can simply log on to the internet in Greece and order them to be shipped to their new home. American shopping services for expats such as Americanfoodworldwide.com allow them to shop online for all of their favorite foods from a regular American supermarket.

Gift Basket

♥ To keep within your budget you could consider putting together a basket or hamper filled with appropriate gifts for the newlyweds. Think about their personalities, hobbies and things they like when choosing gifts for the package. You could include:

♥ A Greek or American cookbook (one to give her some tips and advice on how to prepare and cook the classic local cuisine of her new home and one to remind her of the traditional recipes of her former home)

♥ Personalized stationery (and air mail stamps!)

♥ Personalized luggage tags

♥ You could even include practical and fun items for their new lifestyle in Greece such as sunglasses, sun-hats, a guidebook for Greece, an electronic multi-language translator, beach towels or even some “Just Married” sandals for your Mother and her partner to get some wear from whilst strolling on Greece’s beautiful beaches. Remember to include plenty of lightweight items which will not be too heavy for them to transport to Greece.

♥ If all else fails you could give the newlyweds some American Express Gift Cheques. They are useable to buy virtually anything so they could use them to pay for whatever they wanted once they have moved (e.g. furniture for their new home in Greece, money towards their return flights back to visit you and your brothers, an island hopping trip in Greece).

A lot of people attending their parent's encore weddings get caught up in what constitutes an appropriate gift for the newlyweds. The essential thing to remember is that a gift, no matter how much it costs, will always be appreciated if some thought has been put into it. Remember that the wedding gift you and your brothers choose to give to your Mother and her new husband is a token of your celebration of their wedding day and their new life together.

I hope that this helps and that you and your brothers manage to find the perfect wedding gift for your Mother and her husband-to-be.

Good luck!

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Unique Wedding Tips And A Chance To Win A $100,000 Dream Wedding
Date: May 10, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Celebrity Weddings & Contests & Etiquette & Honeymoon & Planning & Reviews & Shows & TV Shows

How would you like to win the $100,000 wedding of your dreams? Interested? Then check out GetMarried.com. They are giving away this fabulous prize - a dream wedding with a value totaling over $100,000. They will cover the cost of wedding party apparel, the venue, the cake, catering, flowers, tables, chairs and linens, photography and the honeymoon. All you have to do to enter their $100,000 Dream Wedding Giveaway is to register at their website, it’s that straightforward. It's free to enter, so what have you got to lose!

I really recommend that you also try and catch GetMarried on WE tv (if you miss the show on TV on Sunday you can catch up with the latest episode on their website). I enjoyed watching last Sunday’s fourth episode which was packed full of useful tips and advice. My favorite parts of the show were when celebrity event planner Preston Bailey (he organized Donald and Melania Trump’s glamorous wedding in 2005) shared his unique and inspirational ideas for wedding venue décor and etiquette guru Peggy Post answered the top 5 wedding etiquette questions. I think that GetMarried gives great wedding fashion advice as well as some fabulous ideas to help you plan your wedding. If you missed last Sunday’s episode check it out here.

Happy viewing and good luck with the $100,000 Wedding Giveaway - I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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A Unique Way To Arrive At Your Wedding
Date: April 27, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Funny & Transportation & Unique Ideas

Whether you choose a vintage car, a stretch limo, a horse-drawn carriage (á la Jordan and Peter Andre’s wedding) or even a helicopter, there is one important consideration for a bride when choosing her wedding transportation and that is reliability. The last thing any bride-to-be wants is to arrive late for her own wedding!

That is why I was surprised to read about bride Kirsty Ainsworth. For her nuptials in Macclesfield dressed in her full-length white beaded satin wedding dress she strolled down the road from her Mum’s house to her local bus stop with her bridesmaid and patiently waited for the No 10 bus to take them both on the five-mile, 20-minute route to Macclesfield Register Office. I’ve heard of hiring a vintage red London double-decker bus and have even attended a wedding where the guests were ferried around in such a bus but I have never heard of the bride catching a lift on a public bus.

According to Manchestereveningnews.co.uk Kirsty said,

"I just wanted to do something a bit unusual and have a day to remember. I did get a few beeps, some waves and quite a lot of funny looks while I waited for the bus.”

We all know how unpunctual buses tend to be so she was very brave to risk this! I guess it provides the bride with a wonderful story to tell people about her wedding day and of course it will have saved her money – a £3.20 bus ticket compared to the average £300 spent on wedding transportation is a superb saving!

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Pre-Wedding Parties - How To Plan A Bridal Brunch
Date: March 20, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Family & Guests & Planning & Pre-Wedding Celebrations & Unique Ideas

If you have wedding guests traveling in from of out-of-town then a Bridal Brunch is a great way for you as a bride to welcome them to your wedding and gives both you and them an opportunity to catch up before the wedding. Those guests who have traveled great distances to see you get married will welcome a chance to visit with you as they will inevitably have returned home by the time you return from your honeymoon.

As well as being able to greet your wedding guests and become reacquainted, the Bridal Brunch also provides brides with an opportunity to treat her guests and make them feel special. Your guests will definitely appreciate the fact that you have taken time out of your wedding day to spend time with them.

Invitations

Invitations for a Bridal Brunch should be made by the bride or her parents. Even though the Bridal Brunch is a relaxed pre-wedding gathering, to eliminate the chances of guests getting the timing wrong do not depend on word of mouth to get the invitations to your guests. Instead send invitees informal invitations, handwritten cards or include the information on the wedding itinerary if you have provided your guests with this.

Catering

The point of a Bridal Brunch is not only to catch up with your wedding guests who have traveled far and wide to attend your wedding, but also to feed and water them! The food served at a typical Bridal Brunch should be simple and easy to make ahead of time. The menu can include egg dishes such as frittata, quiches, omelettes or waffles, French toast and bacon, breakfast pastries and breads and platters of fresh fruit. By keeping the brunch food simple you will allow yourself more time to spend visiting with your guests rather than slaving over a stove. Drinks served at a Bridal Brunch can range from herbal tea and coffee to assorted fruit juices and smoothies to alcoholic beverages such as champagne, Bloody Mary’s, punch or Mimosas.

Budget

You can easily plan and prepare an elegant yet simple brunch on a budget. Try to get a rough idea of how many guests are likely to attend the brunch so that you can calculate how much food and drink will be needed. By bulk buying food and drink items from your local warehouse store in advance you will save money. If you prefer not to cook you could even buy ready-made food, heat it before guests arrive and serve it up on pretty platters and serving dishes buffet style. The time you will have spent on preparing the food is minimal but the effect will be perfect.

Ask for help

If you lack both time and money then consider asking for culinary contributions from family and friends who are attending the Bridal Brunch. They could bring along a prepared dish of food each which will not only save you time, effort and cash but will also ensure that there are a tasty variety of foods available for your guests.

Timings

Bridal Brunches are usually a 2 hour event served between breakfast and lunch, from 10 am to 12 pm on the morning of the wedding. Typically the Bride’s family will host the Bridal Brunch at their home. However if they are either short on space or are from out-of-town themselves then alternative venues for the brunch are either another family member’s home or a local café or restaurant which specializes in brunch meals.

Lastly, a word of warning for you. I held a Bridal Brunch on the morning of my wedding and I was having such a good time catching up with my family that I lost track of time and it set me back slightly with my timings for getting ready for the actual wedding! Take my advice, have a great time at your Bridal Brunch but do make sure you give yourself enough time to relax and get ready for your wedding.

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Win A Luxury Scottish Wedding
Date: March 17, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Contests & Planning & Venues

If you know of a couple who deserve a helping hand with their wedding planning, what better way to surprise them than by nominating them for the Sunday Post’s Dream Wedding Prize! One lucky couple will be the recipients of a wedding package worth up to £14,000 including highland attire, bridesmaids dresses, invitations, favors, cake, flowers, photo and video, a DJ and luxury venue. The venue the Scottish Post have chosen for the wedding is the elegant Victorian hotel, the Dunblane Hydro. This palatial hotel will provide the lucky winners with a traditional Scottish wedding experience.

The Sunday Post want readers to write in to them and explain why they think their friends or family deserve to be the lucky bride and groom who receive this amazing prize. If you are planning your own wedding, you can even vote for yourself! The newspaper will print some of the best submitted stories during the upcoming weeks and will then choose the most deserving winning couple.

Why not give it a try – you might win and this would definitely save you time, effort and (most importantly!) money with your wedding planning! Good luck.

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How To Have A Caviar Wedding On A Cheeseburger Budget
Date: January 17, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Planning & Themes & Unique Ideas

In May 2006 I wrote a blog called "Jelly Belly Wedding!", about the unique and fun wedding of Lori Woolery and her fiance Daymon Tracy in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. It caught my attention because the couple decided to have their wedding at their local Jelly Belly Candy Store - as not every bride walks down the aisle with a human-sized red jelly bean in a top hat and gold bow tie! Themed weddings are as popular as ever, and it's not surprisingly when you see how much fun everyone has.

This week I had the very good fortunate to speak to Lori, after she had spotted my blog on the internet. I asked her so why Jelly Belly? Lori said:

"It’s a fun place. It’s a happy place. It’s a different place. And it fits my and Daymons personalities perfectly. We are both fun loving, happy people. Why stick with traditional when you can have slightly different? Sure, weddings are happy occasions but most are the same. Ours, was memorable for everyone. We made Jelly Belly history by being the very first wedding ever held there. But mostly, we made the beginning of our own history by starting our lives off on a very memorable note."

She went onto comment how great the The Jelly Belly factory were:

"The Jelly Belly factory did a fantastic job of decorating and hosting the wedding. I hope many other people decide to get married there as well. It was a fantasy wedding. Who doesn’t dream (as a child) to get married in a candy store?"

In fact Lori has been kind enough to allow me to print an article she wrote based on her wedding experiences. Its a great read and really shows you how to have an incredible wedding day without breaking the bank!

How To Have A Caviar Wedding On A Cheeseburger Budget

So you and your fiancé have finally decided to set the date. But then you start looking at all the bridal magazines and realize that you simply don’t have the kind of money they are talking about. Not to worry. I am going to show you how to have an absolutely incredible wedding for just a small fraction of the cost.

Chances are, the date you have chosen is on a Saturday right? Now, I want you to back that up to the Wednesday prior to that. Why a Wednesday? Because it's in the middle of the week and most ministers don’t have that day totally booked up. Also, you will get more specialized treatment from your caterers as well because you are the only one they are taking care of that day. Saturdays are insane for ministers and caterers alike.

Now, find out what your state requirements are for your marriage license. This needs to be done no less than 2 months in advance. Make sure you have all your paperwork together 3 weeks prior to your wedding.

Also, while you are at the 2 month prior mark, email all your family and friends of the date. Tell them to mark their calendars and save the date. This gives them plenty of time to make arrangements with their jobs to have that day off.

For the formal invitations, go down to your local Kinko’s. Tell them what you want and find out what they can do for you. Believe it or not, they have samples of invitations. They do all the printing and typesetting. And it comes out incredible.

Time to look at dresses. The first thing you want to do is throw out those bridal magazines. All they will do is depress you. The bridal magazines show these glamorous, high priced gowns and bridal party gowns. Go to an outlet store, Good Will, or Amazon.com and check out the dresses there. Go for something different. If you have your heart set on a white dress, think cocktail dress or an oriental style dress. Those 3 areas will have exactly what you need for the budget which you have figured. And you don’t have to have your bridesmaids all dressed the same either. Their dresses should compliment the colors or patterns you have chosen. By telling them what style you would like, this gives them the opportunity to choose their own dress that they can wear more than once.

Flowers: go silk. For one, they last forever. Secondly, they are a lot less expensive than real flowers. You can go to a dollar store or a craft store and pick out exactly what you want and the decorations you want on them and make them yourself in a matter of minutes.

The venue. Where do you want your wedding to be held? Again, if you want it in your church, a weekday wedding is extremely easy to book. Or, try something different. I had my wedding at the Jelly Belly Factory. Make sure you have got all the approvals from the place you want it at. Again, 2 months out. Greenhouses make an outstanding venue for a wedding and are relatively inexpensive. You also get the bonus of having the fresh floral scents. An outdoor wedding held indoors. This is especially good if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

The food: talk to your friends and family about this one. Is someone you know a great cook? Have them prepare the food. Let your fingers do the walking in the yellow pages. But, steer clear of the big ads for caterers. The smaller companies will give you delicious food at a fraction of the cost. And their service is often better than the bigger companies in that they tend to try harder. The same goes with your cake. And get a sheet cake. They are way cheaper than the tiered cakes. Yes, the tradition is to save the top of the cake to eat a year later but lets face it, it really doesn’t taste good after a year in the freezer. Find a bakery that will deliver and you wont' have to worry about a thing. And don’t go for the roast beef either. Go simple with ham, rolls, and salad. Simple is often better and just as elegant. Have everything served buffet style. And do NOT get your plates and utensils from the caterer. They charge much higher prices for that. Just go down to your local dollar store and you will find the colors you want. Now, the drinks: skip the champagne. Skip alcohol period. Remember that if someone gets drunk at your party and then gets into an accident on their way home, that YOU are responsible. Instead, go for sparkling white grape juice. Everyone can drink it including the kids (who never get to take part in a champagne toast otherwise) and no one leaves your party intoxicated. Go to your local grocery store and get a variety of store brand soda and waters. Now everyone has their favorite. Total price of all the food, etc, is around $400-$500 vs. $1500 for approx. 30 people.

Where would you like to have your reception to hold all this wonderful food that you have just chosen? Well, since no alcohol is involved, you can have it practically anywhere. The church hall, a back yard, your basement (yes, I said basement. We had ours there. All we had to do was clean it up and decorate and voila, a reception hall.), or a park. Keep your decorations simple. A few streamers, some wedding bell balloons, and nice colored table cloths is all you really need.

Pictures. Everyone has to have pictures of their wedding. Don’t go near the professional photographers. With digital cameras, you can have all the pictures you want and the way you want them. Is there anyone you know that loves to take pictures? With a digital camera they can snap away. Then, after they are downloaded you simply upload them to Walmart, Target, or Walgreens and choose the sizes and amounts you want. They come out exactly like the professional pictures but again, much cheaper.

Wedding favors. You have to have these. They are something that everyone loves. But where do you find something nice but within your budget? Very simple. Go to your local Hobby Lobby and look at their wedding section. With some inexpensive tiny champagne glasses or tiny baskets, some candy in them and wrapped in white material mesh, you have your fancy wedding favors. And the guests just love them. And instead of throwing rice have them blow bubbles. You can get mini bubble bottles for about a dollar for an 8 pack.

Music. Is there a teenager or a friend that loves working with music? A simple cd player is all you need for your music then. Just tell them what you want, when you want it, and you have all the music you need. And if you give them a few dollars, you have just made a very inexpensive investment in the music you love and the fun you want.

Expenses. The old standard was that the brides family takes care of all the expenses. But lets get realistic here. The grooms family can also help as can the maid/matron of honor and the best man. Divide things up to where everyone is spending what they can afford and it can substitute as their gift to you.

Grooms clothing. We cant forget the groom now can we? A simple black suit is very appropriate. Guys don’t need that much and by having them dress in a simple suit will please them all.

The rings. Talk to your friends and find out where the good sales are at. Skip the high priced jewelers. Just drive right past them as you are going to K-Mart or Walmart. Both stores have very beautiful jewelry at prices which fit the average persons wallet.

Hair and makeup for the big day. If you want to have your hair cut or colored, do so at least 4 weeks prior to make sure it has relaxed and grown enough. Call a local beauty school. They do the fancy up-dos at about ¼th the cost of a regular beauty shop. Have a trusted friend or family member apply your makeup for you.

The day has arrived. Everything is now set in stone and you are a nervous wreck. The biggest thing to remember is to eat SOMETHING in the morning. Trust me, you will regret it later if you don’t. Brides nerves and an empty stomach just don’t mix. It doesn’t have to be much either. Something as simple as cheese and crackers will make your nervous stomach happy. Avoid caffeine at all costs. Your adrenaline is high enough without you bouncing from caffeine. And drink water. Lots of water. Its better to have to empty your bladder before you walk down the aisle than to empty your stomach. Your bridal party is now with you and you’re nerves are really going now. Let them know you are nervous. They will keep things going smoothly and keep you calm at the same time. By the way, when WAS the last time you took a deep breath? At this point, you have forgotten how to breath outright. Take a deep breath in the nose and release out the mouth slowly and it will help you to relax. All you have to do now is meet your groom.

So, we have covered the clothes, the venue, the food, the music, the photography, the license, and the reception. A caviar wedding costs around $10,000. Yours has just cost you under $1000 and its incredible. And your guests will never know the cost. They will think you spent tons of money.

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How To Save Money On Wedding Supplies - Be A Savvy Sale Shopper!
Date: December 03, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Budgeting & Cameras & Coupons & Favors & Gifts & Shopping

We all know that the cost of wedding decorations and supplies can mount up when you are planning your wedding. If you want to shave money off your wedding costs for these items then my top tip is to take a look at clearance sales. Although not all wedding items will be placed on sale you might just be lucky and find exactly what you are looking for to use at your own wedding at a greatly reduced price. Even if your wedding isn’t happening for another few months it’s always best to grab these bargains when they are available as you can’t guarantee you will see them at such a low price again as your wedding date draws closer. Don’t we all envy shrewd brides-to-be who manage to nab the best bridal bargains? It always makes sense to check wedding supply websites out when they have a sale on.

That is why I recommend that you take a look at TheKnot.com tomorrow as they start their 2 day sale. They are offering great discounts of up to 75% off of wedding items including gifts for each other, attendant’s gifts, unique personalized wedding favors and ceremony accessories. The best bargains I saw on their website were the disposable cameras which start at $3.99 each and are available in a wide range of colors to match your wedding theme and the ring pillow which has been reduced from $15.95 to $3.99 – what a steal! Additionally you can enter the promotional code HOHOHO at the checkout and save an extra 10% off if your order values $85 or more.

Another web-site which has a bargain-filled sale on is Americanbridal.com. They are having a huge close-out sale to make way for their new stock, so their sale items are priced at up to 70% off. I had a peek at their sale items and if you are looking for a tiara or wedding jewelry they have a great selection at heavily discounted prices.

Happy bargain hunting!

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How To Win A Stunning Engagement Ring
Date: November 24, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Contests & Engagement & Jewelry

Without a doubt the engagement ring is the most essential ingredient of a successful marriage proposal. If money is tight at the moment but you are planning on getting engaged during the holiday season then why not try your luck at winning a beautiful engagement ring.

The Knot have announced the launch of their annual "Diamond-a-Week Giveaway Game" on 1st December 2006. In conjunction with luxury diamond company “Hearts On Fire” The Knot have created an interactive game based on three-card monte, where each week during the holiday season potential proposers can click to play and have a chance at winning one of four Hearts On Fire diamond engagement rings, each worth up to $15,000. For your chance log onto TheKnot.com/winadiamond from 6th December onwards.

Be lucky!

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Wedding Shop Review - Ruth's Flowers Shoppe & Gowns By Ruth & Audrey in Indianola, Iowa


Marks & Spencer's New Bridalwear Range
Date: November 20, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Attire & Bridal Party & Budgeting & Cakes & Dresses & Flower & Decorations & Groom & Guests & Insurance & Invitations & Announcements & Jewelry & Lingerie & Shoes & Shopping & Stationery

Marks & Spencer’s are already an easily affordable one-stop shop for couples planning their weddings with their range of wedding products and services available, including stationary, insurance, lingerie and accessories, flowers and cakes. Now they have taken a bigger bite out of the wedding pie by launching a range of wedding dresses ranging in price from £59-£150 - perfect for the bride-to-be on a budget!

The new collection of bridal and occasionwear will be available at M&S stores and online in March 2007. The collection consists of wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, grooms' suits, page boys’ outfits and occasionwear for guests and other attendants. According to a review at Fashionunited.co.uk brides-to-be can choose from a range of five wedding dresses which include full length and knee length skirts and strappy and bustier style dresses in classic white or cream. Take a look at one of the dresses yourself at Bridalwave.tv. I personally think that M&S’s dresses will sell very well. It’s great that modern brides are being offered the option of choosing a more affordable wedding dress. It’s about time that the wedding dress market realized that they need to make wedding dresses available to suit every pocket and every style of bride.

According to lse.co.uk the average bride spends £826 on her wedding dress. This is a huge amount of money to spend on a dress which will only be worn once, even if the wedding dress is one of the main focal points at a wedding. Every bride wants her chance to play dress-up and shine like a fairytale princess or a Hollywood star on her wedding day, but nowadays there is no need for you to spend such a huge proportion of your wedding budget just to get yourself a beautiful dress. With the advent of the new ranges of off-the-peg wedding dresses being produced by stores such as Asda, H&M and M&S you can grab yourself an elegant wedding dress without having to compromise on style and fashion and most importantly without having to pay designer prices!

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Free Wedding Planning Tips
Date: October 26, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Planning & Site News & Unique Ideas

As ever I encourage to sign up for my free wedding tips! And if you know anyone else who would be interested in reading them please send them to this page or directly to Google Video

Now stop laughing - I have to get your attention some how!!

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Honeymoon Wedding Registry Service Ideas - Lists With A Difference!
Date: October 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Coupons & Gifts & Honeymoon & Reviews & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

Are you looking for a true alternative to the traditional wedding list? I know you already have your fair share of towels and kitchen appliances between you and your partner and you want something different.

If this is the case, I recommend you take a look at the honeymoon wedding registry service MyHoneyMoon.co.uk and see how your wedding list could pay for a wonderful holiday to Hawaii, Mauritius, Barbados, or even Paris!

This is definitely a fun way for your guests to make a donation towards your honeymoon costs. They can use a secure online payment facility to make a payment using their credit card or debit card – or even pay by cheque.

MyHoneyMoon director, Daniel Ox says:

“It's the perfect alternative to a cutlery set or kettle as the guests are really buying wonderful memories for the newlyweds."

A HoneyMoon account costs just £49.99. For this your account is setup and you will receive expert travel advice including suggested itineraries, stylish notification cards for you to distribute to your guests, and your own personal wedding homepage to display photos and memorable stories.

Small Print:

As always you should definitely read the FAQ and in particular the “How much does the service cost?” section:

“ If you decide not to book your honeymoon with us then that is fine but to help cover the ongoing expense of administering your registry and providing full services to you and your guests, a 7% service fee is payable against the final balance of the account.”

Thus with this service you can save yourself the 7% service fee if you actually book your honeymoon through MyHoneyMoon.co.uk.

Compare this to another UK honeymoon registry service called HoneyMoon.co.uk. based in Edinburgh. Here you are charged 9% service fee on gifts purchased from your list. The fee is deducted from your total gift fund when the donated funds are transferred to you.

The services covered by this fee include but are not limited to credit card transaction fees, gift registry updates, gift acknowledgments and thank you card manager updates. You can liken the costs incurred in the service fee to the cost of your guests buying wrapping paper, card, postage and packing, etc.

So it is up to you which registry service you prefer. I must say though I do like the wedding list samples found on HoneyMoney.co.uk.

Special Promotion:

There is currently no set-up fee for a HoneyMoney list. All you need to do is enter the code PRMT21 in the appropriate box on the registration form and the usual £50 fee is waived.

Good luck and please leave comments if you have used either of these services.

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Announcing The New Confetti Wish List Service - Receive The Gifts You Really Want!
Date: October 17, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Gifts & Guests & Honeymoon & Industry News & Shopping & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

Confetti.co.uk now offer a superb wedding list service where by you can receive the gifts you really want, from honeymoons to house deposits. As a couple you simply ask for money to be placed on a Confetti Wishlist prepaid Maestro® card in place of gifts. Guests do this simply by visiting your very own customised web page and making a contribution online. The web page link can even be changed to include your own names and wedding date. You can then share this link with your guests by sending an email from the wish list service, or by using the template online to create a gift list card that can be slipped into your invitations.

These cards are perfect for all couples whatever their financial situation. For couples getting married later in life who have all the basics, this is a unique opportunity to ask for gifts and experiences which aren’t normally available on the high street. Imagine you can add gifts such as donations to your favourite charity, a piece of art, a trip round around the world or plants for the garden. Equally if a couple are on a tight budget the Wishlist Card would be ideal for helping with wedding expenses, honeymoon costs or car and house deposits. Basically you can use the Confetti Wishlist Card wherever you see the Maestro® acceptance mark, including shops, restaurants, online or on the telephone.

Research has shown that over 50% of couples would prefer to receive money but are too embarrassed to ask for it directly. In fact guests are happier to give money if they know what it will be spent on. They have the ease of buying online 24 hours a day with no need to put cash or cheques in the post or ask for the couple’s bank details. The Wishlist Card ensures your guests no longer have the age old problem of finding a wedding gift in a specific price range, as they can now easily group together with other guests to contribute towards any gift they like.

As always don't forget to read the small print, Confetti provide a comprehensive FAQ and the terms and conditions, including what happens if your card is lost or stolen and how long it remains valid. I urge you to read all these pages in their entirety, like you would with any other financial product.

Sign up for your Confetti Wish List card at ConfettiCard.co.uk today

Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:

Confetti.co.uk Coupon - Free Delivery On Orders Of £75 Or More
Confetti.co.uk Launch Their New Site - New Improved Layout!
Review Of Confetti's Glasgow Store by Brown.
Compare Confetti's Wedding Insurance to other UK products.
Confetti's New Must-Read Magazine - Confetti Receptions
How To Use Confetti.co.uk For A Stylish Christmas - a one stop shop for wedding and party advice.

DISCLAIMER

1. The information provided on this Wedaholic.com web site has been compiled for your convenience. Wedaholic.com makes no warranties about the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this web site.
2. Wedaholic.com, including its directors, will not accept any liability for any loss, damage or other injury resulting from its use.
3. Links to other web sites are provided for your convenience and Wedaholic.com is not responsible for the information contained on those web sites. The provision of a link to another web site does not constitute an endorsement or approval of that web site, or any products or services offered on that web site, by Wedaholic.com. Wedaholic.com will not accept any liability for the use of those links to connect to web sites that are not under our control.

Financial Disclaimer

Wedaholic.com does not accept any liability for any financial decisions made on the basis of this information. This web site does not constitute financial advice and should not be taken as such. Wedaholic.com urges you to obtain professional advice before proceeding with any financial product.

Trademarks

Maestro® is a registered trademark of MasterCard

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Hitched.co.uk Has Chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance To Provide Wedding Insurance Policies Through Its Website

You may remember that back in July I wrote a comprehensive listing of all the best wedding insurance companies in the UK. Namely Confetti.co.uk, Debenhams, Ecclesiastical, Equine and Livestock Insurance Company Ltd, Event Insurance, Marks and Spencer, MRL Insurance Direct, and Wedding Plan Insurance. If you missed it, here is a link to it along with a link to the 11 golden reasons all couples should have wedding insurance. I know I'm biased but I do highly recommend it because instead of having to visit each insurer's website you now only have to visit one page. There are in depth descriptions of all the different types of covers offered and links to the policy documents, how to order online, company details, ownership facts, and links to the underwriters with notes on their regulations. I have tried to make it as easy as possible for every bride and groom in the UK to compare each policy against the next.

Within this article I stated:

"Both Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc and The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited are both wholly independent and are underwritten by themselves. Marks and Spencer Insurance are underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc. "

I can now report that the wedding planning website Hitched.co.uk has chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance to provide wedding insurance policies through its website or by calling 0800 336622.

Wedding insurance joins the range of wedding planning services and advice already offered by Hitched.co.uk, which include speech-writing, venue-shopping and gift-buying.

Ecclesiastical will also offer the opportunity to purchase honeymoon insurance at the same time.

Darren Noel, Business Development Director at Hitched, said:

"The Hitched site offers couples everything they need to organise their perfect day. And with so much time, effort and money spent organising a wedding, it makes sense to protect it with insurance."

Ian Henderson, Customer Services Manager at Ecclesiastical said:

"Wedding insurance gives peace of mind during all the preparations leading up to the day itself. Couples shouldn't assume their home insurance covers them – wedding insurance covers damaged dresses, lost rings and suppliers going bust for example. And with so much riding on the day, it's not worth taking the risk of not insuring."

Ecclesiastical's wedding insurance policy provides cover for cancellation or curtailment, re-arrangement, attire, presents, rings, cakes and flowers, photographs and video, failure of suppliers, transport, wedding documents, public liability and marquees (Marquee cover provided for an additional premium, not available with Tier 1 cover). The policy also includes legal expenses cover and a free counselling helpline provided by DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Limited (not available with Tier 1).

For full details of Ecclesiastical's wedding policy cover and exclusions please see the policy document.

Further Wedding Insurance Reading:

UK Wedding Insurance Companies -Time Saving Links To Policy Documents
11 Golden Reasons All Couples Should Have Wedding Insurance - Make sure you take out wedding insurance today.
Will Your Wedding Insurance Cover You If You Cancel Before The Event? - A full list of circumstances you need to check are listed in your policy documents.

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London Designer Wedding Dress Sale - Up To 70% Off!
Date: October 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Dresses & Shopping

Imagine finding your perfect designer wedding dress discounted by up to 70%. Crazy I know, but if you pop along to the Thistle Kensington Palace Hotel, De Vere Gardens, Kensington, London W8 5AF on either the 25th or 26th November your dreams may just come true.

I recommend you register your tickets today. You will have the opportunity to choose from hundreds of designer wedding gowns at unbelievable prices!

The tickets are entirely free, they only ask that you let them know if you cannot attend so they can release your tickets to another bride. In registering for the sale you will have to book a specific session time so as proceedings run smoothly and the time you have to wait is kept to a minimum. (This way there is no occurrence of the chaos you see annually happen at Filene's Basement in Towson, Maryland). Don't worry if you are attending on Sunday, there will still be a good selection as restocking will take place on Saturday night - so rest assured there will be an excellent selection on Sunday.

The dresses on sale are a mixture of window dresses, fashion show samples, end of line gowns, one off prototypes and shop samples. Gowns will range from size 8 to 18, however the gowns will mirror UK sales trends with the majority being 12 to 16. Unfortunately this is just a bridal gown sale and there will be no opportunity for bridesmaids to try on bridesmaids gowns as well.

If you are looking to buy a gown then this is an excellent place to choose from a huge selection. Though the organisers state that if you are only hoping to browse and look for ideas, this really isn't for you and it is recommended you go to a department store or local boutique . It may seem harsh but I guess they only have so many staff and they are really looking to help brides that have a clear idea of what they are looking for.

How does the sale work?

Firstly you will be measured and advised of the appropriate size of gown you should look for. You are then free to browse and select gowns to try on. You will be helped by a trained bridal wear consultant who will help you find the right style of gown for you. An alterations service will be available for all brides.

Sadly if you see a gown you like, you won't be able to come back and try it again. All of the sale gowns will be leaving the hotel at the end of the sale and not returning.

Bridal designers include Amanda Wakeley, Anna Christina, Annabel B, Blue Strawberry, Caroline Castigliano, Christiana Couture, David Fielden, Fabio Gritti, Jasper Conran, Jenny Packham, Lyn Ashworth, One & Only, Peter Langner, Rebecca Street, Sharon Hoey, Sophie English, Toi Creazioni and many more..

If you are fortunate to find the dress of your dreams you should be aware that payment can be made with cash and credit/debit cards (if you have a new Chip & Pin card please make sure you know your Pin number)

Good luck and if you have any further questions please email info@bridaldesigner.co.uk

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Weddingbee.com Lists The Upcoming Trunk Shows And Sales In Manhattan
Date: September 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Budgeting & Dresses & Shopping & Site Reviews & Wedding Blogs

Every Tuesday Weddingbee.com features listings of many of the upcoming wedding trunk shows and sales in Manhattan. In fact if you know of a trunk show, sample sale, or sale that isn't on their web page please send it to them at tips@weddingbee.com

I continue to thoroughly enjoy reading WeddingBee.com following my review back in May, though at times it is hard to keep up with the number of posts!

There are currently 15 “Miss Bloggers” who submit posts to the site, in conjunction with entries from 5 “Mrs Bloggers”.

I've only been to New York a couple of times and of course loved every second of it. I can only imagine how amazing it must be to actually get married there!

Weddingbee.com is a great insight on life in Manhattan, plus it provides all brides an extensive array of amazing wedding ideas where ever they live in the world.

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Top Wedding Tips For Officiant's Gifts
Date: September 15, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Civil Weddings & Etiquette & Miscellaneous & Planning & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding gifts for officiants:

"I was just wondering, do you normally buy something for the Minister that is marrying you? If so, what ideas do you have."

This was my reply:

Traditionally Ministers, as with other types of religious or non-religious celebrants, charge a standard fee for officiating at wedding ceremonies. They are performing the service of marrying you as part of his or her profession and should therefore expect to be paid as such. If you are getting married in a church and if there is a standard fee applicable then it will be listed in the application you will have to submit to the church office prior to booking the church. An exception to this case is if you or your parents are a member of the church, in which case the Minister sometimes waives the fee.

How much?

If the church does not have a set fee, a cash gift is the most common and most practical way to thank your Minister. The appropriate range varies between $150-350. This might seem like a lot of money but you should equate it against how much time and effort your Minister has invested in your wedding - how many meetings they have attended with you, time spent on writing the ceremony, premarital counseling, travel costs (if appropriate), attending the rehearsal and of course the ceremony. When you add these all up then you will see that you are getting a real bargain compared to what you will undoubtedly be spending on other aspects of your wedding.

Usually when you pay a Minister they place the money in a church discretionary fund which they use for worthy causes in the local area. A lot of churches and other houses of worship run solely on donations. It is unusual for a Minister to keep monetary gifts for their own personal use. In this case, you might also like to give your Minister a personal gift to express your appreciation of all their support and effort in making your wedding day a success. Although it is not expected a small personal gift for the Minister is a nice thought.

Ideas for gifts

The gift you choose for your Minister need not be expensive, particularly if you are already paying the Minister a fee for their services. It should be something thoughtful or useful.

♥ If you know the Minister well buy them something meaningful such as small piece of jewelry (if they are female), e.g. a pretty brooch or silver pin shaped like a heart.

♥ Buy your Minister something to do with what they enjoy doing in their spare time. You might get some ideas for this from listening to their sermons (I discovered that my Minister was an avid football fan and I only attended two services prior to my wedding) or asking the Church Secretary what their hobbies and interests are, e.g. gardening, photography, sailing.

♥ If you don't know him/her well enough to know what they enjoy then how about a plant or flower arrangement - they are always a safe but popular choice.

♥ Again, for a Minister you don’t know very well, personal gifts that show thought are a photo frame, book, CD or a piece of local artwork.

♥ You could make a contribution to a charity that the Minister favors in their name.

♥ A useful gift is a gift certificate for a bookstore so that the Minister can buy books for personal fun, for the church library or for other people.

♥ Alternatively, you could buy the Minister a gift certificate for a local restaurant – everyone loves to eat out!

Top Tips

♥ If you are still unsure about how much money to give then ask other recently married couples in your area or church what they gave the Minister.

♥ If you are unsure whether to give a cash gift or personal gift to your Minister the best person to ask is the Church Secretary. They will be able to recommend how much your cash gift should be, and will give you ideas for a gift as they will know the Minister’s personal interests better than anyone!

♥ If you know the Minister personally or if they are a close friend or family member you might well feel uncomfortable offering them money. If this is the case then it is wholly appropriate for you to buy the Minister a gift instead as, or as well as, a cash donation.

I hope this helps!

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Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon

Wedding planning is not the exclusive domain of the bride - that is Doug Gordon's point in his new book "The Engaged Groom". He takes the stance that no groom need be left out in the cold when it comes to the decision making. In fact there is plenty of scope for the groom to take charge of certain tasks and responsibilities. Indeed this book is a revelation, grooms now have the chance to get active with their very own wedding planning guide. It can be bought from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

"The Engaged Groom" all started with Doug's blog called PlanetGordon.com with the first entry on the 2nd September 2003 at 6:17pm.

It read:

A Decent Proposal

I got engaged on Wednesday. Actually, that statement is a little too passive. Makes it seem like I picked up something on the way home from work or dropped a subscription card in the mailbox or developed some sort of temporary condition for which medication or a topical ointment is available from my doctor.

Let's start over.

I proposed to my girlfriend on Wednesday night.

To continue reading this blog entry please take a look at this page and scroll to the bottom.

I divulge, having read all 279 pages I can confidently hold my hand up and say that "The Engaged Groom" is a must read for all grooms that want to get involved in their wedding. Doug's funny style of writing makes it a real joy to read. Grooms will quickly learn a whole array of tips and practical information. In fact if they take all of his advice on board they will be heading to their local beauty salon for a manicure - it makes sense really when you think of how many people will want to see the groom's ring on the big day!

Whether they have just a few questions or many this is definitely the book for all grooms. As a bride, if your groom is worried about how to minimize the risk of his best man forgetting the rings (page 237) or how he can ensure he won't say the wrong thing during the speeches (page 251) - this is the book for him.

I practicularly liked the following sections, for their excellent overviews and useful tips :

Paying for the Wedding - Doug gives a good review of the various costs associated with planning a wedding. Interestingly he picks up on the how often couples forget to budget for gratuities, something I have extensively written about here.

Picking a Date and Venue - I quickly learnt the pros and cons of having your wedding on a holiday three day weekend and in addition the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a destination wedding.

The Guest List - Planning a guest list is never easy, as Lesley Anne recently wrote about here, but Doug gives some great insights. This is your chance to learn who definitely does need to be invited. You can also get the lowdown on inviting the President of the United States or The Pope!

Food and Music - This is your chance to have your cake and eat it! Doug recounts the day he ate no fewer than ten pieces of cake at three different bakeries. If you have a sweet tooth you definitely want to be involved with choosing the wedding cake - especially when prices at soar to as high as $10 or $15 a slice.

Turn to page 65 for an entertaining list of inappropriate songs. It is highly advisable that you always listen to the lyrics first, especially for the all important first dance. The list doesn't just stop at slow dances, some well known disco classics should be placed on your DJ's "Do Not Play List".

Photography - Here I agree with Doug, disposable cameras definitely belong to the "Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" file. Today most guests have digital cameras and are more than happy to share their photographs with you.

On the subject of videographers, page 75 neatly sums up why this isn't an area to get too stressed about. Also check out the tips on how to make signifcant savings on this aspect of the wedding.

Best man Duties - Doug answers your questions on whether you can have two best men, or even have a female one! More importantly he gives his opinion on what groomsmens and bridesmaids should wear - it's a refreshingly honest approach that many more couples should adopt (Page 92).

What to Wear and How to Look Your Best - Expert advice on which tuxedo to wear, along with helpful hints on whether your build is best suited to a single-breasted jacket, double-breasted jacket, tailcoat or morning coat. You can also take advantage of the "How to Tie a Bow Tie" page which has been deliberately reversed so as you can tie your bow tie looking in the mirror!

Save-the-Date, Announcements, Invitations, and Getting the Word Out - "The Engaged Groom" is full of valuable tips, such as the one called "The Separation of Church and Crate (& Barrel) on page 122. Doug makes it clear that in no circumstances should you send the invitation and the registry information together. This is a massive faux pas, but unfortunately it has to be said many couples still do it. Reading other tips on getting the assembly of invitations right (page 126), the value of using wedding planning software (page 130) and why B-list wedding guest lists are more trouble than they are worth (page 133) is highly recommended.

Registries, Wedding Showers, and Thank You Notes - I really enjoyed reading the section on what things you want to register for, but shouldn't on page 150. It is both humorous and informative - a great reminder that you aren't bound to the traditional registry list of kitchen and dinnerware! Doug dicusses the whole art of getting your Thank You notes written with thought and appreciation, with particular reference to what you should and shouldn't say.

Planning the Honeymoon - Traditionally this is the groom's responsibility and though he is expected to pay for it, it really should be a joint decision as to where you go. Discover the benefits of delaying your honeymoon and why a "minimoon" might be just right for you!

The Bachelor Party - This is one of the most entertaining sections of the book. I love Doug's humour, neatly summed up in this quote:

You'll have plenty of chances to party with your friends in the future, and if you're worried that your marriage will mean a loss of your freedom. I suggest you talk to a therapist and not a stripper.

The book is full of practical advice and some common sense reminders, for example:

Never, never, never be hungover on your wedding day.

Doug leaves the debate on whether strip clubs on a bachelor party are a good idea to others, by including a random sampling of quotes from eight different women. Definitely worth reading.

A Groom's Checklist - Emergency Provisions - Turn to page 230 for a list of things that every groom should have packed in a small bag on their wedding list. Items range from personal care prodcuts, spare clothing to miscellanous essentials that are all to easy to forget.

You might not catch your groom browsing through all your wedding magazines, but I can guarantee he will find "The Engaged Groom" of real interest. Buy it today.

Doug has been interviewed and featured on TV and radio stations across the country, including this appearance on the "Today Show". You can check out the book's official website at EngagedGroom.com and the MySpace site at MySpace.com/engagedgroom

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Top Tips For Using Parks Or Areas Of Outstanding Beauty As Backdrops For Your Wedding Photos
Date: September 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Cameras & Ceremonies & Civil Weddings & Etiquette & Family & Funny & Guests & Legal Matters & Photography & Planning & Unique Ideas & Venues & Videography

If you are thinking of having your wedding photos taken in a public park please remember that it is essential to obtain permission before photography, or videography for that matter, will be allowed. Remember to bear in mind that any land, such as a park, which is privately owned requires prior permission before you can take photographs within the grounds. Nowadays most parks in the UK are stationing park wardens to ensure that all commercial photographers in the park are in possession of a valid permit.

In the USA a new policy, which came into effect on 15th May, means that permits need to be obtained and fees need to be paid by those wanting to take commercial (i.e. wedding) photographs at the most popular landmarks on National Park Service land such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park or Grand Canyon. USAToday.com reports that:

“Officials said the fees are in response to a 2000 federal law that requires various agencies to come up with ways to recoup the costs of maintenance, security and other expenses stemming from commercial filming and photography on federal land.”

The payment charged to couples varies from $50 to $250 - the actual cost depends on the size of the wedding group. The National Park Service are hoping to standardize the fees in the near future.

According to WashingtonPost.com Lee Dickinson, the Park Service official who oversees the program, has already seen an improvement in the smooth running of the service provided to couples. He says that by charging fees and requiring visitors to obtain prior permission it has helped Park Service workers to avoid scheduling conflicts amongst visitors and wedding parties at the most popular of the 390 monuments, parks and historic sites.

A lot of couples feel that they should not have to pay to use public land which their tax dollars pay for. Jolie Bouton is one of them - she is due to get married this month on land controlled by the National Forest Service in Sedona, Arizona. She told WashingtonPost.com,

"I'm just having a half hour ceremony on land we all own, and it shouldn't cost me 150 bucks!”

You might wonder why you have to pay a fee to hold an event or simply have photos taken in a public park. The reason is most parks do not receive much (if any) funding from the government or local authority to maintain the public space. They are therefore dependent on donations or revenue created by charging those who wish to use the park space for their own profitable, promotional or exclusive use. You will find nowadays that with parks requiring more and more financial outlay for maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and facilities on it, local authorities who maintain the parks and public areas are charging a site or permit fee for shooting photographs or filming. The revenue garnered from such sources is used to maintain and improve the park’s beauty and functionality. How else do you think stunning parks such as the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Central Park in New York or Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris can afford to maintain such amazing quality of flowers, plants, ornate features, public facilities and seating areas for the public to use.

Top tips

Here are my recommendations if you are planning on having your wedding photographs taken in a public park or outdoor area:

♥ Do your research in advance of your wedding date to see whether you require a wedding photography permit. If you do make sure that your application is submitted early enough and that permission is granted - simply posting or faxing off an application to the Mayor’s office or Parks and Gardens Department of your local council is not sufficient. Assign this task to your wedding planner or even photographer if you prefer.

♥ If you are in doubt as to whether you will need a wedding photography permit visit the park you intend to use for your photos and ask an official or park warden there. They will be able to tell you where you can obtain an application form.

♥ You will find that most parks and gardens prefer to be advised (and paid) in advance but some do have a “walk up” facility where you can turn up and pay on the day. Of course with this choice you run the risk of another couple using the park on the same day, at the same time as you want to take your photos. If you want to prevent hanging around waiting to have your photos taken then it is advisable to arrange this is advance.

♥ If you are being married in a castle, stately home, mansion house etc. which has its own extensive grounds check whether wedding photography is permitted in the grounds and also check whether it is included in the price of your wedding package.

♥ If you are on a tight budget or if you baulk at the thought of paying to use public land for your wedding photos, your other option is to try to do it on the fly! However you can that you do run a risk of being caught and ejected from the park! If you think it is worth the risk then just make sure that the bride is wearing flat shoes in case she is required to run!

♥ Another way to avoid having to pay the wedding photography permit fee is to go without a tripod for the camera being used for the photos. If you don't use a tripod then you don't need a permit! So you could either ask your wedding photographer to skip using a tripod or you could simply nominate a friend who is a keen photographer to take some informal snaps of you at your chosen location.

♥ If you do ask a friend or relative to take your wedding photos then these are seen as non-commercial photos so this way you avoid having to pay the permit fee too.

♥ You will find that the park photography permit usually stipulates some rules. Whilst most will be common sense (e.g. do not throw litter, wedding guests must stay out of flowerbeds, flowers in the park must not be picked, etc) some rules will be unique to each park or open space (e.g. no rice or confetti may be tossed, some sculptures cannot be photographed, certain areas may be off-limits, etc).

♥ As well as the permit fee, some parks might charge you a deposit which will be refundable if the park or garden is not littered or damaged in any way by your wedding party.

Please don't let any of the above tips put you off using a beautiful park or area of outstanding beauty as a backdrop for your wedding photos. I had my wedding photos taken in a local park which held a lot of special memories for me, so I think it is totally worth that tiny bit of extra planning (and it was free as my local park had not photography permit regulations in place at that time!). There are so many stunning parks and gardens which you could use for your photos and is really not a great hardship to obtain permission in advance. Remember, it could well ruin your day and your photos but for a little advance planning!

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How To Plan A Second Wedding

My sister announced at the weekend that she is getting remarried. This will be her second marriage. My family and I are so excited for her that she has found love again and that she is brave enough to put her faith in the institution of marriage after an acrimonious divorce.

All the wedding talk at her engagement announcement party got me thinking about planning a wedding second time around. It is a totally different scenario to organizing your first wedding - you are older (usually this is the case - I think Britney Spears’ two weddings within nine months of each other is quite unique), wiser and will have more experience of your expectations not just for your second wedding day but also your second marriage!

Whether it is due to divorce or death of a spouse increasing numbers of people are making a trip of the aisle for a second time. According to WeddingGazette.com 4 out of every 10 weddings nowadays are second marriages for one or both partners. According to the US Census Bureau one-third of couples getting married in the USA have been married before and every year nearly one million American women marry for the second time. You are in good company if you are planning on saying “I do” for the second time - Madonna, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Britney Spears and more recently Pamela Anderson have all enjoyed a second trip down the aisle.

If you too are thinking about taking the plunge again then here are some top tips and advice for making your encore wedding even more unique and memorable than your first.

Announcing Your Engagement

If you have children

♥ Once you are engaged the first people you should tell are your children. You definitely need their approval of your future nuptials before you can start making any plans.

♥ You should inform your children of your engagement as soon as possible so that they have plenty of time to adjust to the idea. We are bombarded by the media, particularly by television shows such as "The Brady Bunch", with images of perfectly blended stepfamilies. Of course there will be tears and turbulence as your family unit changes size with your second wedding but becoming a proper united family is not an unattainable feat - it just needs time and perseverance!

♥ You should definitely let your children decide for themselves if they want to participate in your second wedding.

If you are a widow or widower

♥ If your first spouse died then you will need to be sensitive to your deceased spouse's families' feelings. Out of respect for the family you should let them know in person (if you have children by your deceased spouse and remain in constant contact with the family) or by letter (if you have become distant from them and are not used to telephoning them or seeing them in person) that you are remarrying.

♥ Whether or not you invite your deceased spouse's family to your second wedding is a very delicate etiquette issue. If your children (their grandchildren) are participating in your wedding then consider whether they would enjoy attending so that they could see this. Use your own judgment as to whether you think it would stir up too many sad memories for them (and you). Second weddings do present social and emotional issues such as this - it comes with the territory I'm afraid!

If you are divorced

♥ If you are divorced without children then there is no need for you to mention your second marriage to your ex-spouse unless you are on good terms with them and keep in touch with each others news.

♥ If you are divorced with children then you must let your ex-spouse know about your upcoming nuptials. If your children are old enough then you can ask if they would prefer to tell their parent about your second wedding or if they want you to break the happy news. You should try to let your ex-spouse know as soon as possible after you have told your children about your engagement, so that your children do not have to keep it a secret and will free to discuss your upcoming wedding openly.

♥ If you are not on speaking terms with your ex then you could put your news in a letter to them and mention that you have explained it to your children and that your wish is for your children to be a part of your wedding day. Although as co-parent you don’t need permission for your own children to participate in your wedding ceremony, it would make things easier all round if your ex-spouse was consulted at an early stage so that any objections could be aired and discussed and you could guarantee their full co-operation with your upcoming wedding plans.

Organizing your second wedding

When it comes to organizing a second wedding many couples choose to spend less time planning the wedding event than they did first time round and more time enjoying the run up to their wedding day. Second weddings are usually smaller and more intimate but there are no rules if you want a repeat of your first extravagant wedding. Some brides, (such as my sister) who had only a very small wedding first time round, enjoy the thought of an elaborate second wedding. My sister admits that this time round she knows exactly what she wants for her wedding day as she has attended innumerous weddings since her first wedding 12 years ago.

The advantages of organizing a wedding second time around are:

♥ You know the pitfalls and what could go wrong as you have probably experienced a few with your first wedding.

♥ You have a better idea of what style and theme of wedding you want as you have more experience of weddings you have attended over the years.

♥ You are free to create any kind of wedding you and your partner want - be as creative as you want (so long as your budget allows it!).

♥ You can invite who you want to your wedding this time round without the restrictions of having parents impose their choice of guests on you.

♥ Hopefully you are in a better financial position than you were when you first got married so you might be able to afford all of the luxury extras for your second wedding that were not within your first wedding budget.

According to Vibride.com Dee Merz, a wedding consultant with Everlasting Memories in California, says that she enjoys organizing second weddings.

“The brides know themselves better as women and they rarely break a sweat when making decisions. Grooms play a much bigger role in the planning, and every choice is geared to reflecting the couple’s unique personalities.”

Top tips when organizing your second wedding:

Venue

♥ You can host your wedding anywhere second time around, there is so much choice. I know many bride and grooms who have remarried for the second or third time in a church. Just because you are a divorcee does not automatically mean that you must remarry in a Registry Office or at other licensed premises and have a civil ceremony. If it is important to you, your partner and your family to have a religious ceremony then enquire of your local church about their policy for second marriages - some churches are stricter than others. With second marriages becoming increasingly common most ministers will understand your situation and will help you to reach a solution if you have your heart set on a religious wedding ceremony.

♥ Destination weddings have become increasingly popular for second marriages, particularly those with children as the ceremony can be incorporated into a fun family holiday!

♥ Bear in mind that it would be in bad taste to host your second wedding in the same location as your first wedding!

Legal requirements

♥ It goes without saying that in order to remarry you will need to supply the registrar with either a decree absolute proving that you are legally divorced from your first spouse, or a death certificate if you are widowed. Make sure that your paperwork is in order well in advance of applying for your marriage license.

♥ In a second marriage where children are involved ensure that you seek appropriate legal advice with regard to financial and inheritance aspects of your union and guardianship issues.

Vows

♥ Vows for a second wedding are another emotive issue which need delicate handling. Of course you promised to "love, honor and respect for all eternity" your first spouse so what do the words really mean if "eternity" turned out to be just a couple of years! The important thing with wedding vows is that you say them with confidence and believe them yourself at the time of saying them to the person you have chosen to marry.

♥ If you are looking for alternative ideas for wedding vows for your second wedding Idotaketwo.com has some unique wordings which could help you.

Wedding traditions for a second wedding

♥ The tradition of having a wedding cake is the same for a second wedding. However, according to Vibride.com throwing the bouquet, wearing a garter and throwing confetti are not proper etiquette for a second wedding. I have seen all of these things done at second and third weddings so I think it is just a case of do whatever feels right for you on your wedding day.

♥ You probably already have an album full of photos from your first wedding that you rarely look at nowadays but don't let this put you off having a photographer at your second wedding. Of course you will want a record of your second wedding, especially if it is the first wedding for one of you.

♥ When it comes to the question of walking up the aisle you might think it improper to ask your Father or whomever gave you away at your first wedding but there are no etiquette rules about this for second weddings. You can walk up the aisle alone, on the arm of your Father, Mother, Brother or even child if you want.

♥ The decision of whether to have attendants at your second wedding is, again, entirely up to you. There are no rules about this. Guests usually expect at least a couple of attendants at second weddings. Don't worry if you want to ask your friends or family to repeat the performance they gave as attendants at your first wedding. It is not seen as unlucky to ask the same attendants who stood by you at your first wedding to stand by you at your second wedding. A friend of mine has been Best Man at both of his brother's weddings.

♥ Bridal Showers are still appropriate for second weddings. You probably have new friends since you first married and they will want to help you celebrate your impending nuptials regardless of whether or not you have done it all before. You can choose to have a more moderate bridal shower if you prefer.

Involving Children in a Second Wedding

If you and/or your partner have children from your own relationship or from previous relationships then you will undoubtedly want them to participate in your wedding plans. The best way to make children feel involved in the whole process of organising a second wedding is to include them in the wedding planning. It is not just you who is getting remarried, so too are your children!

Whilst your choice of spouse has been your decision you should allow your children some say in your wedding planning. Discuss with them their thoughts on your second wedding and ask them how they would like to be involved. You should refer to it as "our" wedding day rather than solely yours and your partner's.

According to Jill Curtis, author of "How to Get Married Again: A Guide to Second Weddings" (available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) she says,

"My research showed that children not included in at least part of the ceremony often find it more difficult to accept the stepparent. One dilemma may be for a child who thinks her "other" parent may well feel left out and not want the child to take part in a second wedding ceremony. Will it be seen as a betrayal? Or acceptance of the new stepparent?"

Make your children feel wanted and needed by giving them a role in your wedding day. Here are some ideas for ways to include them in your second wedding:

♥ Try to include something symbolic within your wedding ceremony which will signify to all present that you, your partner and your children coming together as a unified family.

♥ Some couples present their children with rings during the wedding ceremony.

♥ It is becoming increasingly popular to include a family vow after the bride and groom's vows during the wedding ceremony where children join the bride and groom to recite some words and have their new blended family blessed.

♥ Daughters can act as maids-of-honor or flower girls.

♥ Sons can stand as "best men", ushers or ring bearers.

♥ Ask your/your partner's children to walk you down the aisle and give you away.

♥ As a family stand at the altar and light a unity candle together.

♥ Ask children to be in charge of the guestbook.

♥ If they are confident speakers they could make a special toast during the wedding reception.

♥ Offer them the chance to give a reading during the wedding ceremony.

Some additional points to remember:

♥ Whatever role you or your children choose for your second wedding make sure that they are comfortable with it.

♥ Ask a family member to keep an eye on your children on your wedding day if you anticipate that you will be too distracted to keep a watchful eye on them.

♥ Remember that your wedding day marks a new beginning for your children too and it can be confusing for them, whether they are 3 years old or 15 years old.

Jill Curtis says,

"A wedding is a landmark in any family and those adults and children who have been burned by the fallout of an earlier divorce or death of a parent will be particularly sensitive to the meaning of the occasion. With some planning, a lot of discussion, and a little bit of luck, it will be a day memories are made of."

♥ If you are divorced you might find that your children have always had a secret fantasy that you and your ex would get back together again. Your second wedding will put an end to this hope so treat your child sensitively.

♥ If your split from your ex-spouse was acrimonious your impending second wedding might stir up painful memories for your children. I know that my 10 year old nephew worries that he will see his Mum be hurt again (bless him!). The best thing you can do as a parent about to embark on a second wedding is to reassure your child that this is a different situation, you are different, you are stronger and the person you are marrying is your soulmate who you want to share your life with.

To compare or not to compare?

♥ Try not to compare your second wedding to your first wedding. My sister has already begun to start sentences with “At my first wedding we had this/we did this…”. This is a definite no-go area for anyone planning their encore wedding. Your fiancé, his family and also your own family and friends do not want to be reminded of your first wedding. This wedding which you are planning now is a unique occasion and should be treated as such, not judged against your first trip up the aisle.

♥ It is an undeniable fact that guests who were present at your first wedding will compare it with your second wedding. I hold my own hands up and admit I have done it myself when I have attended first and second weddings. There is no way to prevent your guests from doing this so you should just come to terms with it before your wedding day.

♥ Don't go overboard trying to plan your second wedding to be a polar opposite of your first wedding. At the end of the day so long as you and your partner are happy with your wedding plans and do everything you can to ensure your guests enjoyment then you can't do more than that. Inevitably there will be similarities between the two weddings - besides everything else they will both involve rings, vows and celebrations of some sort!

♥ With your wedding speeches it is usual for the Best Man, Father of the Bride, Groom and even the Bride to make a reference to the lives of the bride and groom before they met and traditionally some reference to exes would be made. Tread very carefully here! It would be seen to be in poor taste if your first stab at marriage is referred to at your second wedding. You don't want to make your guests, your new partner or your children feel uncomfortable on your wedding day.

Footing the bill for a second wedding

With second weddings where the bride has been married before it is normal for the bride and groom to split the costs of the wedding between them. You should definitely not expect either set of parents to pay towards your second wedding. If it is the bride’s first wedding but the groom’s second, then you will probably find that the bride’s parents will want to contribute towards the wedding costs. It is also quite common for one or both sets of parents to offer financial help towards the wedding costs. In this case you should weigh up whether you want to accept their kind offer as financial input being given by parents can sometimes equate to organizational input being expected with your wedding. One of the main advantages of paying for your own wedding of course is that you are free to make your own decisions when planning the wedding without having input from your parents.

If you are paying for the wedding yourselves then you should create an affordable wedding budget and stick to it. As with any wedding it is possible to have your dream wedding at an affordable cost, but I think this is the case more so with second weddings as you do not need to pull out all of the stops. Second weddings for brides are more about starting a new life with your new husband than about having the expensive dress, breathtaking table ceterpieces, stylish wedding favors and other wedding paraphernalia. That being said, if you can afford it then why not go ahead and organize the extravagant wedding you have always dreamt of!

Invitations

♥ As mentioned, it is completely up to you and your partner whether you choose to have a small wedding attended only by immediate family and close friends or a larger wedding inviting everyone who is important to you both.

♥ Inviting an ex-spouse to your second wedding is thought to be bad form. It depends on your personal circumstances whether or not you want to invite your ex to your wedding. Demi Moore invited Bruce Willis to her nuptials with Ashton Kutcher and at her wedding earlier this month Pamela Anderson asked new husband Kid Rock’s ex Tamara Mellon to be her bridesmaid! If your ex-spouse is a co-parent of your children then your children might feel more at ease at the wedding if they too are invited. You should do what you and your fiancé feel comfortable with - it is your wedding day!

If you and your partner are hosting your own second wedding then the invitation should be worded along the lines of:


Hannah Hopkins
and
Muir Mackintosh
Request the pleasure of your company
At their wedding
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If it is the bride’s first wedding and her parents are contributing financially towards it then you might prefer that they host the wedding, in which case the invitation could read as follows:


Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey Thompson
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their daughter
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If you have children you might like to include their names on the invitations or even have them named as hosts of the wedding (this would make them feel very included and very special!).

Paul and Mark Hopkins
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their Mother
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

Check out Weddings.about.com for more ideas and inspiration for wording invitations for your second wedding.

Bridal Attire for Second Weddings

The most important thing for any bride on her wedding day whether it is her first, second or even eighth wedding (à la Elizabeth Taylor!) is that she feels comfortable, confident, relaxed and, most importantly, beautiful. No matter how many times someone has been married they always want to feel and look like a princess on their special day!

As an encore bride you should not feel restricted about your choice of wedding attire. Old traditions used to point second time brides away from full length gowns, veils and the wearing of ivory or white for their subsequent nuptials but this is no longer the case. You can choose any color or style you wish so long as it suits your age and flatters your figure. If you are a mature encore bride then you are unlikely to want to wear a Cinderella ball gown; you might prefer to choose a simple yet elegant sheath dress, suit or a less formal wedding gown and accessorize with a hat, decorative headpiece or tiara rather than a full veil. According to Nina Callaway of About Weddings,

“Most brides getting remarried have already had their "Princess in a white dress" moment the first time around, and so opt for a more mature look such as a brocade suit or a simple cocktail dress. However, if you eloped the first time, or simply want to have that Princess moment again, there's no reason why you can't. In fact, as divorce and remarriage becomes an evermore regular part of our society, the possibilities for what a second wedding dress can be are endless”.

To help you decide what style of wedding attire is appropriate for your second wedding you should first decide what type of wedding ceremony you are having. Are you having a traditional church wedding, outdoors wedding, destination or beach wedding? If, like Pamela Anderson, you choose to have your second wedding aboard a yacht anchored off of St Tropez, then this will dictate your style of wedding attire (in her case a white string bikini - not every encore brides' first choice I’m sure!).

Wedding Gifts for a Second Wedding

One of the main questions which crops up amongst brides, grooms and also wedding guests, is whether it is acceptable to ask for wedding gifts from guests at your second wedding. This is particularly pertinent if you have invited family and friends who already bought you a gift for your first wedding.

Wedding etiquette states that buying a gift for a couple who are getting married for the second time is definitely not mandatory. Wedding gifts are traditionally given to help a couple set up home together. Nowadays most couples live together before they walk down the aisle and so already have an established household with the requisite amount of crockery, toasters and wine glasses.

You should definitely consider registering for wedding gifts as the majority of your guests will want to buy you a gift (especially if it is a first wedding for one of you). Although typical wedding gifts may not be appropriate for a second wedding, you could consider registering for fun gifts such as equipment for a shared hobby (I attended a second wedding where the bride put golf clubs and lessons on her wedding wish list so that she could share her new husband’s love of the game!), artwork, sculptures or ornaments, a selection of fine wines, vouchers for activity days out (perfect if you have children you can share these with), plants for your garden or a donation to be made to a charity of your choice.

Keep in mind that some of your invited guests might well have been generous with their first wedding gifts to you, so if you are planning to register or ask for gifts then don’t feel hard done by if they choose not to buy you a gift or only buy you a small token gift. Surely the most important thing is that they choose to share your special day!

Personally I would have no problem buying a gift for a couple whose wedding I was invited to, even if I had already bought a gift for their previous wedding (though if it was the same two people remarrying then I would probably only buy a token gift). In my sister’s case she and her fiancé are already talking about their honeymoon which will include my two young nephews, so I suggested to her that she register for travel gift vouchers. There is a great article at Honeymoons.about.com which explains how honeymoon registry websites work. By using one of the free websites mentioned in the article you can list all of your honeymoon expenses including airfares, accommodation costs, excursions, meals, spa treatments, spending cash and even luggage on a website which is accessible to your wedding guests. This means that your guests can purchase whatever aspect or make whatever contribution towards your honeymoon they wish. If, like my sister, this idea appeals to you then you might also want to take a look at Weddingmiles.com where you can set up a registry for your guests to buy you frequent flyer miles to put towards your honeymoon or future travel once you are married.

Honeymoon Plans

Whilst many newlyweds enjoy some time to themselves on their honeymoons, it is becoming more common for couples to include their children in their honeymoon plans after a second wedding. The honeymoon presents a perfect opportunity for blended families to spend time together and share bonding experiences.

As mentioned, my sister intends on taking her two children on her honeymoon (it was her fiancé's idea!). My youngest nephew is obsessed with elephants so my sister has already mentioned that they are considering all going on a safari holiday in Africa - what a perfect way to kick-start their new life together as a family. I am sure they will share lots of great memories from the trip and get to know each other even better!

If you are lucky enough to get a second chance at marriage then I think you should ignore the statistics that say that the chances of a second marriage ending in divorce are 60% compared to 50% of first marriages. Inevitably you will be apprehensive about saying "I do" for the second time but let your hope and optimism shine through for your second wedding. Have confidence in the fact that you are a different person from the one who got married the first time - you are older and wiser second time around.

Resources I recommend for planning your encore wedding:

1,001 Ways to have a Dazzling Second Wedding by Sharon Naylor available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

This guidebook is perfect for women planning their second weddings. It provides the most current and applicable how-to's on such touchy subjects as: gown choice, family participation, guest diplomacy, gifts, bridal party choices, invitation wording, reception planning, religious requirements, and legalities.

Listen to this discussion about the etiquette of getting married again? Questions include what do you wear and do you have a present list? She discusses this topic with Sandra Boler consulting editor of Brides Magazine and journalist Eve Pollard.

Read this New York Times article on on how couples are embracing second weddings as wholeheartedly as first their one. Written by MarcS. Fischler, it offers an excellent insight into the whole subject of encore weddings.

More second wedding websites to check out:

Take2weddings.com - Offers marriage advice and inspirations from how to tell your children you are getting married the second time around to choosing your dress.
Idotaketwo.com - All the second wedding ideas you'll need to plan your remarriage! Leave questions on the second wedding forum and an expert will respond with an answer.
Brideagain.com - Bride Again is designed for the encore bride. It is targeted to women over 30 who have been married at least one before, have children from a previous marriage or are marrying someone with children and are currently planning to be remarried.
Encorebridemagazine.com - Thoughts, suggestions, reflections, and opinions For re-wedding brides.

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Chicken Wing Wedding For Second Time Bride!


Announcing Eight Free Online Wedding Budget Planner Reviews
Date: July 27, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Checklists & Planning & Reviews & Shopping & Site Reviews

We all know that weddings can be as expensive as they are elaborate. The first step on the wedding trail that all newly engaged couples need to take is deciding on how much they can comfortably afford to spend on their big day. The Knot carried out a survey which showed that 44% of couples admitted that they did not set up a wedding budget before starting planning for their big day. Setting up a wedding budget is the best way to ensure that you do not overspend. You can see what amounts of money need to be allocated to each area of your wedding planning and it will give you an overall estimated cost for your wedding. It is helpful before you actually start spending money on wedding services to have in your possession a sensible estimate of what it is going to cost you to have your dream wedding. Your wedding budget must be realistic to your financial circumstances.

According to a survey carried out by the Condé Nast Bridal Group, which publishes Brides, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride magazines, the average cost of a wedding has nearly doubled in the past 15 years to $27,852. With one third of all weddings now being paid for entirely by the bride and groom, $27,852 is a vast amount of money for the average couple to stump up. This is why I totally recommend you use a wedding budget planner. These calculating tools are not only free (one of the few wedding services you will encounter which can claim this!) but they also take the stress out of managing your wedding finances.

How Interactive Wedding Budget Planners work:

♥ Usually the budget planners provide you with a comprehensive list of all the costs you will encounter when planning your wedding including: Reception, Ceremony, Photography/Videography, Catering, Rings, Attire, Music, Flowers, Honeymoon, and Decoration.

♥ Some of the websites allow you to add your own items which are unique to your wedding planning (e.g. cost of caricature artist, release of doves, firework display or ice sculpture at reception).

♥ With every planner you begin with the overall amount which you can afford to spend on your wedding. You input that figure and the wedding budget planner breaks the amount down and calculates for you what you can afford to spend on each aspect of your wedding.

♥ Most of the interactive budgeting planners offer you estimates and average prices which couples spend on each area of their wedding which help you to work out how much your wedding is likely to cost.

♥ You can enter into some interactive budgeting planners how many guests you are planning to invite (you only have to give a rough approximation at this stage, you don’t have to finalise that decision until you are ready to book your venue, catering and order your stationery) and some of the planners ask how many male and female attendants you plan to have. By inputting this information you enable the interactive planner to divide up the budget accordingly (e.g. catering might be $80 for each guest, so by inputting that you are planning on inviting 100 guests the planner calculates that the estimated catering costs for your wedding will be $8,000). Overall this helps you to work out how much each aspect of your wedding is going to cost.

♥ The interactive budgeting planners range in timescale from the moment you get engaged to after your honeymoon when you are at the “Sending thank you letters” stage.

Advantages of creating your own Wedding Budget Planner

♥ It is better to have a clearly categorized wedding budget set out before you rather than a vague list of wedding services and approximate costs. The more itemized your wedding budget is the better so that you can see clearly where your money is being spent and, if need be, where you are able to cut back.

♥ The budget planner will help you to understand from the outset how much you can realistically spend on each aspect of your wedding (e.g. $700 is too much to spend on a wedding cake if your total wedding budget is $5,000!). You have to know how much money you can afford to spend on your wedding.

♥ By seeing the figures set out in black and white on the budget planner it should help you to keep track of your wedding expenditure and stick to your original budget. You have to have to keep an eye on your wedding spending otherwise you will be paying for your wedding for the next 10 years!

♥ These planners are great because they show the areas you will need to think about when planning your wedding (e.g. you are unlikely to overlook flowers if it is on the list with $150 next to it). They pinpoint areas of your budget you have to consider when planning your wedding and help you create a “to do” list as you realize you have not even considered some of the wedding planning categories yet!

♥ A definite advantage of some of these planners is that if you are on a tight budget the planning tool might well be able to help you decide on what size of wedding you can comfortably afford. For example, if your budget is only $4,000 then you might prefer to have a lavish wedding for 12 guests than a budget wedding for 60 guests. Sometimes a wedding budget can help you to determine the number of wedding guests you invite or sometimes the number of guests you intend to invite help you to determine your budget.

♥ By using a budget planner you can easily choose which aspects of your wedding planning to forego if necessary. You will clearly be able to see where your largest area of spending has been to date and you can also see which “extras” such as favors, lavish centerpieces and extravagant catering can be sacrificed to keep your budget looking healthy. Of course every bride and groom want the wedding of their dreams for an affordable budget but you must use the budget planner to help you prioritize your spending.

There is no need for you to spend lots of money on paper and software wedding planners. I have researched eight of the online wedding budget planners for you and checked what facilities each one has. The interactive wedding planners I have reviewed below are all free to use.

BridesMagazine.co.uk

♥ This interactive wedding budget planner is simply but attractively laid out and very easy to navigate.

♥ There are two blank columns for you to enter the estimated and final figures spent on each area of your wedding.

♥ The third column contains “average” figures for each different wedding planning category. The planner has calculated these already for you based on a total wedding budget of £17,740 or $27,852 (as mentioned above, Condé Nast Bridal Group who own this magazine carried out a survey and found that this amount is the average wedding cost in the UK and USA). This is really useful as you can use them as a guide price and check whether your own estimate is accurate or over-the-top!

♥ As you click out of each cell it automatically updates the whole budget planning table including the total amount at the bottom.

♥ The wedding categories it gives are quite basic but all areas of wedding planning seem to be covered (except wedding insurance).

♥ An advantage of this wedding budget planner is that you can save it (by becoming a Bride’s member, which is very straightforward and free) which means that you can come back to it and update it on a regular basis as you plan your wedding.

BlissWeddings.com

♥ When you click on this interactive wedding budget planner it asks for your names (which I thought is a nice personal touch) and the total amount of your estimated budget.

♥ The planner then breaks down the total budget you have given into different amounts for each of the categories, giving you their estimates for each area of your wedding planning and what you should expect to spend. This makes up the “estimate” column and alongside it you have the “actual” column for you to enter what you end up paying for each element of your wedding.

♥ The major fault with this planner is that although they call it “interactive” you actually cannot fill in any of the cells, you have to print this budget out and fill it in by hand!

♥ A further disadvantage is that the planner tends to lump things in together in each of the categories – for example “wedding attire” is for the whole wedding party rather than it being separated out into wedding dress, groom’s outfit, attendant’s clothing, veil etc. I think that the categories seem a bit vague as to what is being covered under each of them. It is far better to have as much of your wedding budget itemized as possible so that you can see clearly where your money is being spent and, if need be, where you are able to cut back.

♥ This planner gives you the option to email it to a friend or print it but does not have the function to let you save it and revise it at a later date (not that you would want to really as you cannot alter it online anyway).

ChicagolandWedding.com

♥ This is a great interactive wedding budget worksheet which is not specifically for Illinois residents, it is for anyone (including UK residents - although the figures are in US dollars).

♥ With this planner you enter in your available funds for your budget, add in your actual wedding costs and click on the “Calculate” button which updates your wedding budget and shows you what your overall budget is minus expenses so far.

♥ The only drawback with this interactive planner is that it does not suggest estimates for each wedding planning category and does not even include a column for estimates.

♥ The advice they give is to start by calculating your “ideal” wedding budget. You do this entering in your estimated wedding expenses into each of the categories and the resulting negative number in the "Wedding Budget Totals" is how much your ideal wedding will cost you. If you prefer to calculate how much you spend on your wedding this way then go for it but personally I would rather work out what I could afford to spend on the wedding and have that figure dictate what I spend on each wedding category.

♥ The categories are divided up into wedding planning sub-sections such as “Bridal Trousseau” which encompasses the wedding dress, veil, shoes, wedding dress cleaning fees, wedding night lingerie and more, and “Personal Appointments” which includes the categories hair, make-up, manicures pedicures and even dental appointments. These sub-categories have unambiguous headings and from what I can see they cover all aspects of wedding planning you are likely to encounter. They even include an “Essentials and Extras” category which includes all of the additional costs you might choose to add on to your budget from pre-wedding dance lessons to wedding planning books and software. Even if there are items within the categories which you think are unnecessary for your own wedding budget, they do serve as a reminder of costs to consider.

♥ I like the fact that each category is calculated separately – it makes it easier to see where the varying proportions of your wedding budget are being spent.

♥ An advantage of this wedding budget interactive planner is that the figures you enter will automatically be saved when you exit the website (so long as the cookies are enabled in your browser’s settings). I was able to re-access my wedding budget very easily and update it.

♥ The hints and additional information at the foot of the planner is really helpful and give you reminders for things you might otherwise forget when wedding planning.

WedAlert.com

♥ This is a very basic wedding budget checklist and it is not interactive.

♥ It has estimated and actual wedding cost columns. You can either type your costs into the columns and print this budget out, or just print off the blank budget and fill it in by hand as you go through each stage of your wedding planning.

♥ The categories seem to cover all aspects of wedding planning but they do have some random categories such as postage stamps, calligraphy and wedding parties. Again, this is another planner which overlooks wedding insurance on their wedding budget guide!

♥ It goes without saying that there is no option to save this wedding budget planner and add anything to it or update it in any way. It is only useful as a printable wedding budget checklist.

TheWeddingNetwork.co.uk

♥ This is a really cute interactive wedding budget planner. I think it is one of the best ones available for free on the internet for UK residents.

♥ You do have to register and log in to access the planner but this means that you are able to save your budget and come back to update it regularly.

♥ Each section has a link to local suppliers in your area (you give them your postcode when you register) so this is helpful if you need contact details and ideas for your reception entertainment, caterers and even addresses of local wedding dress boutiques.

♥ It has two columns, one with reasonable estimates and the other for the actual cost you pay for that aspect of your wedding planning.

♥ It is easy to remove items from the budget planner which are not required and you can update the whole planner with the click of a button – very user-friendly!

♥ One of the things I love about this wedding budget planner is that each sub-category has a little clickable information symbol next to it, which provides you with a helpful hint or piece of friendly advice relating to that area of your wedding planning (e.g. next to wedding dress it tells you that national average in the UK is £750 but that £300 can get you nice dress too).
♥ An advantage of this planner is that each planning category (such as “For the Bride”, “For the Groom” and “Fun Stuff”) breaks down into easy-to-read sub-categories and at the end of each section you can calculate the total amount you have spent solely on that section.

♥ At the bottom of the planner you have a “Total Estimate” figure and (my favorite) an “Under-budget by £xxxx” figure – what a great idea! Every bride wants her a dream wedding which does not break the bank so it adds a bit of excitement to your wedding planning as you see how long you can maintain that “Under-budget” figure for!

Hitched.co.uk

♥ This is another great interactive wedding budget planner aimed at couples planning weddings in the UK.

♥ It has four columns alongside each wedding planning category. One for “who pays”, “hitched estimates”, “your budget” and “actual cost”.

♥ Hitched’s estimate for an average UK wedding is £13,875 and they have broken down this figure and calculated the average amount of money which should be spent on each area of your wedding planning. The estimates seem quite low to me to be honest but they are serving only as guide price for you.

♥ You have to register at Hitched and log in to access your wedding budget planner but it does save your budget and allows you to amend and update it as often as necessary. It updates the figures very easily.

♥ You might find the “Who Pays” column useful to keep track of who is paying for a certain aspect of the wedding, particularly if your families are contributing towards the wedding costs.

♥ With this planner you cannot add in other categories of your own which is a disadvantage if you have your own wedding planning ideas which are not covered by Hitched’s various categories. However, you can easily delete the categories which you will not be utilizing for your wedding. I recommend that you do delete any unnecessary categories as it will make the planner totally personalized for your wedding and also easier to read.

♥ To be honest this is quite a basic wedding budget planner. Whereas some of the other wedding budget planners available online are slick in their design and add your name and sometimes even your wedding date to the top of the planner, this one is average but it does serve its purpose!

UtahBrides.com

♥ This is quite a basic interactive wedding budget planner. You enter the amount of your total wedding budget, how many guests you are inviting, how many male and female attendants you intend on having and the planner then calculates an estimate of how much should be spent in each area.

♥ The planner has two columns, an estimated amount and a column for you to insert the actual amount spent. There are sub-totals for each section, and at the bottom is a reminder of your total budget amount and a tally of what you have spent so far – all very clear to read.

♥ The categories are straightforward but seem to cover most areas of wedding planning. However you are not able to add in your own wedding planning category and if you deselect one of the existing categories, rather than deleting it the planner simply enters a “$000” value into the column for it.

♥ You can update the planner easily by simply hitting the “update” button.

♥ I like the fact that if your spending has gone up in one area (way over their estimate of how much you should spend on this area of your wedding planning) the budget automatically re-calculates all of the other areas which you have not yet spent in so that you can see where you will have to make recommended cut-backs. That could prove invaluable to brides who pay double what they expect to for that dream wedding dress!

♥ A disadvantage of this planner is that you can print it but not save it, despite the fact that you have to register and log in to access the tool.

TheKnot.com

♥ This is the most polished and thorough of the free interactive wedding budget planners I have looked at and it is definitely my favorite of the bunch.

♥ You have to register on The Knot and log in to access your interactive planner but it does add your name and wedding date to the top of the page, as well a countdown counter to your wedding date which automatically updates every time you log in to your budget planner - I think that is a nice touch!

♥ They have laid out a sample budget which you can have a look at to see how it is done, which is helpful.

♥ The budget planner has two columns, the first is the estimated cost of each category and sub-category and the other is the actual cost you pay for each area of your wedding planning. The estimates are based on whatever you insert into the budget planner as your overall total wedding budget. In my personal dummy budget, which I have linked to above, I inserted a budget of $18,000. The planner breaks the total sum down for you - it couldn’t be easier!

♥ This planner is easy to navigate and clearly shows you their recommendations of how your wedding budget should be divided up.

♥ I think that the average costs it gave me for my dummy budget looked very realistic. However, even when I inserted a budget of $5,000 the planner still gave me achievable wedding cost estimates. I think that whether your wedding budget is $5,000 or $50,000 this planner is perfect for you as it will take the total of whatever funds are available to you to spend on your wedding and distribute it in appropriate proportions to each area of your wedding planning.

♥ In order to calculate your budget this planner asks how many male or female attendants you are planning on having. This is so that the planner can calculate the cost of dressing your attendants and how much you can spend on their thank you gifts.

♥ It also asks you to insert how many guests you intend to invite so that it can divide the catering and favor costs by this amount of guests to get a “per head” cost for you.

♥ I like the way this wedding budget planner breaks each section down (e.g. music - ceremony music, cocktail hour music, reception music). The details within each section help to remind you of costs you might not have thought about yet or might remind you of things you have yet to plan (notoriously you forget to include pre-wedding pampering costs for yourselves!).

♥ It looks to me like every wedding planning category is covered in this wedding budget planner. This planner also gives you the option to click on the categories which are required, unlike some of the other planners where you have to just leave the category blank. You are also able to add your own categories too, which is great if you have something which is not a traditional cost in a wedding budget (e.g. cost of wedding attire for your pet!). The items you add in can be inserted into a category which already exists on the planner rather than having to add random items in to the bottom of the planner. This is brilliant as it keeps your budget planner organized and allows you to modify the budget planner to your specific needs by deleting unnecessary categories and adding in your own wedding budget items.

♥ This planner give you the option to click a “View Advice” button which gives you advice and tips for each category (e.g. for the wedding gown category it reminds you to include the costs of possible dress alterations, cleaning costs, shipping costs etc). I think most couples will find these reminders and information invaluable when they are planning their wedding.

♥ At the foot of the planner it sets out the “total budget”, “spent to date” and “amount left to spend”. Each category gives you a sub-total too so you can clearly see where might be overspending. It is easy to add or delete wedding costs, you simply click on the “update” button.

♥ Additionally, The Knot provide you with a payment tracker which was a unique idea. There are several columns spread across the worksheet. As you enter figures into the wedding budget planner, the costs will also automatically appear in the appropriate columns on the payment tracker; “Deposit”, “Second Payment”, “Final Payment”, “Amount Paid” and “Balance Due”. You can insert additional details such as method of payment and diarize the payment due date which is fantastic news for busy couples planning their weddings. I speak from experience when I say that it is all too easy to overlook paying one of your wedding suppliers! You can add calendar reminders so that this does not happen to you. This worksheet, like the wedding budget planner, is printable and you are also able to save it.

Now remember, setting your wedding budget is the unpleasant bit - now you can move on to the fun planning stage!

Good luck!

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How To Invite Children To The Wedding Ceremony Only

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding inviting children to the wedding ceremony only:

"My daughter is getting married next summer and I am helping her with her arrangements etc. How do you invite some people to the "wedding ceremony only", without hurting feelings? Most of the people in question would be children, ones that really would like to be there. The bride and groom would like the reception to be "adults/or at least legal drinking age" only. The wedding and reception will be held in different locations. Keep in mind that the parents of these children will be invited to both the ceremony and reception. Another reason for this is the tight budget. We are trying to give my daughter the wedding she would love...but on a very tight budget."

This was my reply:

Thanks for your question.

This is a topic which is often the subject of fierce debate amongst couples who are planning their weddings. With today's escalating wedding costs many brides and grooms feel that inviting children to a wedding reception is an unnecessary expense. At an average cost of $60 - 80 a head for catering having children at the reception not only increases your wedding expenses but it also increases your guest list to vast proportions. For most couples if they have to make a choice between asking 4 special friends to their wedding reception or the 4 children of their friends, the adults will win hands down. Sometimes children just cannot be included.

I think that nowadays it is becoming more popular for couples to plan an adults only wedding reception so I don’t think that you and your daughter need to explain your reasons for children not being invited to the reception. What you do need to do is ensure that you make it perfectly clear to your guests that children are welcome to attend the wedding ceremony but not the reception afterwards.

Invitation wording

The best way to do this is to send two separate invitations, one to the wedding which will be sent to the whole family who are invited to attend the wedding ceremony, and a second invitation which will be sent to adults aged 21 and upwards who are invited to the wedding reception. You should insert the wedding ceremony invitation in with the reception invitation for those that are invited to both events. I think that if you try to combine the two events on one invitation you risk causing confusion.

If you decide to send one invitation with the words "Adults Only Reception" or "Adult Reception" printed on it, it is very likely to confuse the wedding guests and you might well find yourself under fire with lots of phone calls asking for explanations as to who is invited to which event and why. Families need specifics of who is invited to the wedding reception and who is not so that they can make appropriate childcare arrangements.

This is a delicate situation as you don’t want to offend any of the guests with children. It is far better to make it clear to your guests with children from the outset that if they intend on attending your daughter’s wedding that they will have to make alternative childcare arrangements for the duration of the wedding reception.

The worst thing you could do is send out the invitations to the wedding reception and simply leave the children’s names off of it. This would definitely be offensive to parents - you need to make it clear that their children are not invited to attend the wedding reception because it is going to be for adults only.

RSVP

You might well find if you send out "Adult Reception" invitations that guests rsvp with their children’s names included on it. In this circumstance you will have no alternative but to make a phone call to the guest concerned and apologise that children cannot be accommodated at the wedding reception due to it being for adults only. Although you are not obligated to give guests a reason as to why you are choosing to have adults only, if necessary explain that financial constraints mean that you have to keep the guest list to a minimum. At the end of the day it is your daughter’s wedding day so they should respect her decision.

In the same way you and your daughter must respect a guest’s decision if they decide not to attend the wedding ceremony or reception. Some people are overly sensitive when it comes to children and weddings and can be easily offended. Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere! A lot of parents and even people without children will argue that it is rude and improper to exclude the younger members of a family as weddings are supposed to be all about family. In my experience these guests will be in the minority. Nowadays modern parents realize that couples might prefer an adult only reception. At my own wedding I invited children but over half of the parents I invited decided not to bring their children - a lot of them wanted the chance to let their hair down and enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception without having to look out for their children’s welfare. Sometimes parents like a day off!

Gatecrashers

Do bear in mind that some guests might ignore the invitation and turn up at the reception with their children anyway. All you can do in such circumstances is either make a place for the child at the parent’s table or politely tell them that although you would love for their child to join in it is not appropriate as it is an adults only party. Inevitably the whole family will feel insulted and leave but that is something you will just have to grin and bear - it is rude to bring an uninvited guest to a wedding even if it is your own six month old baby! Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere.

A possible solution for guests with children

If you are aware of guests who would like to attend your daughter’s wedding but who will be put off by the “adults only” theme to the wedding reception then perhaps there is a solution. You could suggest to them that a few of them group together and arrange for a hotel bedroom to be used as a sort of crèche for their children (this is assuming that your daughter’s reception is being held in a hotel). They could hire a couple of qualified babysitters (depending on how many children there are), the hotel could arrange to have DVD player put in the room (if there is not one there already) and the children could be entertained at their own mini party! It is important that your guests understand that if the children are being entertained on the premises where the reception is being held, that the same rules apply – children are not invited to join in with the wedding reception! This solution would be perfect for out-of-town wedding guests who want their children to travel with them. You do not have to feel obligated to arrange this or pay for it on behalf of the guests but you could suggest it to them. I’m sure they will appreciate that your are trying to help them sort out their childcare arrangements.

Having an adults only wedding reception puts a different slant on the evening. You can concentrate your planning on making it a real party atmosphere. It does take pressure off you knowing that you just have to cater for adults with your choice of menu, entertainment, timings, venue facilities etc. You can organize a reception which probably would not be suitable for children, such as a cocktail hour and dancing going on to the wee hours.
Be warned though - you might be saving money not having to pay out for children’s meals but those parents let loose without their children for the night will drink your bar dry!!

I hope you enjoy your daughter's wedding - how exciting!

Related Posts :
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Review Of Confetti's Glasgow Store
Date: July 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Cameras & Candles & Favors & Flower & Decorations & Industry News & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Reception & Reviews & Shopping & Themes & Unique Ideas

If you are local to Glasgow then you should definitely check out the Confetti store on Queen Street. As mentioned in my blog on 8th July, I visited this shop to see what they had to offer couples planning their weddings.

I was very impressed with how much they had managed to fit into quite a small shop. The store contains a cornucopia of stylish and traditional wedding must-haves from silver chocolate balls to biodegradable confetti. Confetti have thought of everything from battery operated candles to personalized paper napkins. If you wander round this shop you are unlikely to overlook any aspect of decorating your wedding venue!

Great layout and presentation

The shop’s layout is easy to move around with well thought out displays of the products for sale and signs identifying each separate section. Each section of the shop seemed to have a different theme too with 4 large round tables set up for a wedding reception in 4 unique styles. The presentation of the tables was superb. If you have looked at Confetti’s website then you will be familiar with their ubiquitous attention to detail and distinctive style. One of my favorite Confetti looks is the burgundy marabou feather in the wine glass on the tables and I was pleased to see this on one of the tables in the shop!

Table styles

My cousin (who is a bride-to-be herself) and I agreed that the most stunning table in the shop was the Scottish themed table (we might be biased as we are both Scottish!). One of its many features was the Black Watch tartan ribbon tied around white linen napkins and decorated with tiny purple thistles,. They were set off beautifully against the silver charger plates, purple organza bags and blue favor boxes which were decorated with tiny co-ordinating flowers. If I was getting married this would definitely be my perfect table setting!

I love the way that Confetti shows you how to create the look yourself for your tables with inspiring ideas for centerpieces, favours, place settings, glassware, napkins, table decorations, name cards and subtle touches such as scattered confetti, candles and even chair decorations.

Shopping assistance

The sales staff in the shop were attentive and friendly without being domineering. From what I saw, they were letting the customers in the shop browse but were more than happy to lend their opinion when asked. When I asked a member of staff for assistance with an item which appeared to be sold out she could not have been more helpful. I also noticed a couple ordering their personalised wedding stationery and the Confetti sales assistant helping them seemed very efficient. The staff at this store seem to have a real knowledge of the wedding business and all of Confetti’s products - they are not just working the tills!

What is on offer?

The shelves in the Glasgow branch of Confetti were brimming with products, including:

♥ An entire wall of table decorations.
♥ A fantastic selection of candles and huge display of favor containers from heart shaped plastic moulds to miniature top hats.
♥ A “Create Your Own” section, which was the most popular area on the day that I visited. Here they have a beautiful range of paper in a huge array of colours with all the trimmings for you to create your own stationery.
♥ There was a party section which included lots of things suitable for a hen or stag party (lots of giggling ladies hanging around this area of the store!).
♥ I loved the huge columns of different flavoured jelly beans in the centre of the shop which you can use as table decorations or as favors – either way they look and taste great!
♥ There was a whole wall devoted to their selection of wedding guide books. The variety available was amazing and I think every area of wedding planning was covered. Personally I liked the essential mini guides which are a bargain at £2.99. At this price you could buy them for your bridesmaids, best man, mother of the bride as charming gifts at the outset of your wedding planning, so that they can feel involved too!

Best-sellers

I was told that the best-selling item in the Glasgow branch were the small metal buckets (which you can fill with jelly beans or other sweeties) which are a snip at £1.49 and the white umbrellas (which cost £19.99) which I suspect are more popular in the Glasgow branch of Confetti than they are in their sister branches in the south of England!

There were some items which I think are totally unnecessary and cannot imagine anyone buying, such as the pink coloured “Just Married” passport cover or the keyrings with “Father of the Bride” etc on them. Overall though the majority of the products in the shop have made an appearance at weddings or parties I have attended.

Bargain hunting

I think that Confetti’s prices for most things are quite reasonable. If you are a bride-to-be on a tight budget though there are bargains to be had. I saw a whole section of sale items which were reduced in price. Keep a look-out in your local Confetti branch for when the items you are after become sale items and then snap them up!

Do-it-yourself

I guarantee you will come away from a visit to Confetti’s shop and want to get stuck in to some do-it-yourself wedding projects yourself. Their inexpensive yet cute organza sachet bags are crying out to be filled with scented candles or love heart sweeties. I love the way that Confetti give you ideas of how to put together favors yourself rather than paying over the top prices for ready made ones. It means that you can really personalize your wedding and ensure that it is truly unique. Confetti are encouraging bride-to-be’s to come up new innovative ideas of how to fill their favor boxes, bags, buckets and bombonieres.

Even if you are not ready to start buying items for your wedding just yet I definitely recommend you take a look at Confetti’s products as they cannot fail to give you great ideas for how you could style your wedding. Whether its sparkly confetti or party poppers you are after, get down to Confetti and be inspired!

This Saturday the Glasgow store have organised a wedding cake and sweet tasting session to mark their first birthday. They are also running an in-store competition for customers to win a £100 Confetti gift voucher.

You can find Confetti at:

15 - 17 Queen Street
Glasgow, G1 3ED
0870 766 9237
Printer friendly map and directions

Their opening times:
Monday 9.30am-6.00pm
Tuesday 9.30am-6.00pm
Wednesday 9.30am-6.00pm
Thursday 9.30am-8.00pm
Friday 9.30am-6.00pm
Saturday 9.30am-6.00pm
Sunday 12.00pm-5.00pm

Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:
Compare Confetti's Wedding Insurance to other UK products.
Confetti.co.uk Coupon - Save £10, ends 31st July 2006
Confetti's New Must-Read Magazine - Confetti Receptions

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Tips For Hosting An Outdoor Wedding Reception In A Unique Location
Date: July 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Flower & Decorations & Miscellaneous & Planning & Reception & Shopping & Themes & Unique Ideas & Venues

Hi Everyone,

I had this question regarding how to decorate a Village Square in Cyrpus for a wedding reception:

"I would like to ask you a question. My fiancé is from a village in Cyprus in a really beautiful location -very romantic. We have decided to have the wedding reception in the village square. I have no idea how to decorate it as I do not want to spoil the whole thing. The square is concrete, only pedestrians, no statues or sculptures - there are only very old houses like cottages (with very old stones not bricks). We have the permission from the council - they were very excited about the idea because young people have stopped using the square and have their wedding receptions at a pool or a hotel. Please can you help with decorating ideas. Thanks very much."

This was my reply:

Thanks very much for your question. I think it is lovely that you have decided to hold your wedding reception in such a traditional location rather than following the trend of opting for a hotel or pool - it sounds beautiful.

I am assuming that you intend to decorate the Village Square to provide you with a seated area for your wedding guests to dine at and an area for dancing. I would advise you to do some research locally and I’m sure you will find tables, chairs, umbrellas, linen and tableware, etc. which you can rent for the wedding reception. Try to choose wooden rather than metal seats as they tend to absorb heat rather than scorch your guests’ when they go to sit down! I recommend that you use the tables, chairs and possibly ornamental arch (see below for details about arches) to define your areas in the Village Square. You could position your tables and chairs all around the dance floor area in a circle or you could set your tables up at one end of the Village Square and leave the remainder of the space for dancing and the band (if you are having live music). For a distinct layout, replace round tables with large oval or long rectangular tables that can sit up to 16 guests.

I do not know what the intended colour scheme of your wedding is, but you could choose flowers, candles and other decorations to complement this and carry your theme right through to your wedding reception. From the details you have given me it sounds as if your wedding is going to have a romantic theme to it and so I have used this as the basis for my decorating ideas set out below.

At an outdoor wedding reception Mother Nature provides most of the decorations with the trees, plants, flowers and surrounding views, so you really don’t have to spend a fortune to decorate it. I have set out below some creative and practical tips for you to follow to elaborate on the charming atmosphere your Village Square venue already has.

Decorations for the Village Square

To create a romantic atmosphere try the following:

Lighting

Lighting will help to transform the Village Square into a magical wedding reception venue. I’m not sure from the brief details you have given me whether or not you will have a source of electricity available for your use in the Village Square. Going on the basis that you are not able to use electricity here are some ideas for lighting the Square for your wedding reception:

♥ String up some fairy lights from trees in the Village Square or even along the top of the stone walls surrounding the Square. These white static battery-run LED Fairy Lights are available from Lights4fun.co.uk and cost £4 for 1.5 metres. These will look great as the evening gets darker.

♥ If electricity is available for your use then you could string up normal fairy lights in the same way. These come in a fantastic array of colours nowadays. You can also choose different shapes (butterfly lights, hearts etc) to match the theme of your wedding reception. Strings of lights can be purchased very cheaply and they are a fantastic way of creating a fantasy wedding reception.

♥ If the Village Square does not have great streetlights lighting it up at night-time then you might want to consider renting some spotlights as you don’t want your guests falling over each other in the darkness!

♥ Light large tiki torches or citronella torches that can be stuck in the ground for light and also repel bugs. If you are unable to stick them into the ground (you say the Square is made of concrete) find large buckets, fill them with sand and stick the torches in them.

♥ If there are trees surrounding the Square:

- Suspend paper and metal accordion lanterns from trees with candles in them.

- Hang Chinese lanterns in the branches like these ones available from TheUrbanGarden.co.uk.

Flowers

One of the advantages of having an outdoor wedding reception is the natural beauty which surrounds you and reduces the need for vast amounts of decorating to be done. Visit the Village Square in the weeks running up to your wedding reception and check out how many flowers and plants surrounding the area are in bloom. This will give you a rough idea of how many pots of flowers and garlands of greenery you are going to need to decorate the Square for your reception. Flowers are an excellent way to decorate the Village Square inexpensively.

♥ Garlands of foliage and greenery such as ivy can be strung up around the Square. If you don’t want to use fresh flowers you can buy rolls of artificial greenery off of the internet.

♥ If there are any unsightly stone walls or anything that you want to hide, you can use garlands of flowers, fairy lights or a mixture of both to detract the eye from what is underneath.

♥ To add height and to define the perimeter of your reception space use big potted topiaries. If you can’t borrow or hire them for the day then buy some and they can either be given to members of your bridal party as gifts after the reception or they can decorate your garden! If the topiaries are very tall you can decorate them with fairy lights and ribbons to match your colour theme.

♥ A simple idea is to use galvanized metal buckets or other planters and fill them with flowers. If you are on a tight budget you can use whatever the local flower is which is in season. If money is no object then you can use elegant roses in a colour which compliments the rest of your colour theme.

♥ If there are fittings around the Square from which you can hang baskets of trailing flowers then this could add a colourful element to your decorations.

Arch or arbor

♥ A lot of couples who stage their wedding receptions outdoors choose to have some sort of focal point erected such as an arch. You can leave this unadorned or you can decorate it with flowers and ribbons to match your wedding colour theme or even swathe it in sheer white chiffon or voile. Not only will be arch be a focal point for your wedding guests but it will also provide a perfect backdrop for your wedding photos.

♥ You could place your wedding cake underneath a canopied arbor to create a focal point and help to organize the different areas of your wedding reception around it.

♥ Try to decorate the arch with flowers which co-ordinate with those used on your table settings and bridal flowers. You can ask your florist to decorate the arch or do it yourself.

♥ A definite advantage of using an arch at your wedding reception is that after the event you can place it in your garden as a reminder of your wedding day!

♥ Decorate the Village Square with pastel colored paper streamers. This is very inexpensive but an effective way to add colour and define the area of your wedding reception.

Table decorations

Flowers, floral arrangements and lighting form an essential part of decorating the Village Square but what will really add a sense of uniqueness to your wedding reception will be your choice of table decorations - these help to create an elegant ambience.

♥ You could bring your tables to life and add height to them by anchoring balloons at the centre of the table. Balloons are an inexpensive decoration. eBay sells heart-shaped helium balloons in a variety of colours and prices start at a mere £2.99 for 10 balloons. You could tie colourful ribbons to the end of your balloons to match your colour theme. You could use the balloons to decorate surrounding trees too.

♥ Sprinkle rose petals or confetti onto the tables. They are so many different colors for you to choose from. Have a look at confetti.co.uk. They have real flower petal confetti which is biodegradable - this is important so that you do not have to worry about clearing it up after your reception. It costs £7.99 for 1 pint of confetti. If the weather is likely to be windy then skip this idea as it would make too much mess if the confetti was blown around.

♥ Use greenery to transform the tables by decorating them with garlands of ivy.

♥ Use glittery table linens to add some pizzazz to your wedding reception. These will look great by candlelight!

♥ Cover the tables with white or pastel colored tablecloths and use colourful linen napkins at each setting.

♥ For a quick and inexpensive way to add style if you use long rectangular tables at your wedding reception, try gift-wrap runners down the centre. To find out how to achieve this look click here. The great thing about this is that you can make the wedding favors for your guests to match with the same gift-wrap paper.

♥ For an outdoor feel fill tiny terracotta flower pots with sugared almonds or traditional Cypriot sweets and place them at each table setting.

♥ For favors which double up as table decorations use individually planted flowers of your choice in tiny terracotta pots tied with a ribbon to match your wedding color theme. You can tie a card to them with each guest’s name so that they serve as a place setting as well.

Candles

Using candles to decorate the village square will add a romantic intimate atmosphere and will also provide gentle illumination when the sun goes down in the evening.

♥ Turn plain glass lanterns into something really pretty by twisting lengths of ivy around the rim and fasten them with a small knot at the back. Arrange these on the table or hang from tree branches, trellises or dot about the periphery of the Village Square.

♥ Tie pastel colored organza ribbon in a bow around clear glass votive cups. These can double as guest wedding favors.

♥ As an alternative to lanterns, fill terracotta flowerpots with sand or pebbles and then stand taper candles in them. If you use plenty candles in each pot you will create a beautiful glow.

♥ For easy, inexpensive centerpieces for your tables fill glass bowls with water and place floating candles in them. You could intersperse these with floating flowers too.

♥ As you are having an outdoor wedding you could use scented candles to create a lovely aroma.

♥ As your reception will be outdoors you should also consider using citronella candles to ward off bugs and bees, otherwise your guests will be swatting bugs all evening! If the Village Square is a known hot-spot for bugs in the evenings then perhaps you should consider arranging for an exterminator to spray the area with insecticide the day before your wedding reception.

♥ Candles glowing from inside lanterns creates a simple and elegant look for your wedding reception. Look at the selection of clear glass lanterns available at Beau-coup.com. They have a wire handle attached to them so you can use them as a tabletop illumination or suspend them from a tree. They come in a variety of sizes. You could present these to your guests as wedding favors.

♥ Place tea lights around the tables for a simple romantic glow.

♥ For informal, inexpensive lanterns use jelly jars. All you have to do is wrap a piece of flexible greenery around the jar just below the lip, and twist a piece of floral wire around the ends to secure and place a nightlight or small votive candle inside. You can decorate the jars with ivy, willow or other local greenery. These are perfect for protecting your candles from breezes.

♥ To add height to your table settings use large votive trees. These are available from Etreasuresgifts.com for $69.95 but shop around. The great thing about these is that you only need a couple of them to add a stunning focal point on the reception tables and the best bit is you can keep them afterwards - a unique reminder of your wedding reception! The pressed two-toned glass leaves can be arranged in any position you want around the 5 votive holders so that the candlelight can shimmer off the leaves.

♥ If you are on a tight budget you could create your own outdoor chandelier of lights by placing a large branch off of a tree into a pot (you could spray paint the branch gold or silver first if you feel creative!), fill it with sand or stones to hold the branch firmly in place and then suspend tea light holders, glass votives or even jelly jars off of the branches using metal wire. If you are using tables for your reception which have a hole where the umbrella slots, you could place a large branch in there and use it as a votive tree.

Centerpieces

As the wedding reception is outdoors you should add height to the tables by adding stunning centerpieces to each of them.

♥ I love this table setting from TheKnot.com. It merges a low candle arrangement with a tall one using fuchsia, bright blue and yellow pillar candles to give the large open space a warm and vibrant feel. This sort of look would great for your Village Square and is easy to recreate.

♥ Use various candleholders of varying height and style and place them on each table. When the candles are lit all across an open space it will create a very elegant and romantic look for your wedding reception.

♥ Use floral arrangements as centerpieces. These can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.

♥ You could fill terracotta pots with flowers to match your colour theme.

♥ Another idea for a unique centerpiece which will look great in an outdoor wedding reception setting is a beach bucket centerpiece as shown here. You take a small metal beach bucket and paint it in your wedding colors. You can then pot a small tree in it and scatter petals over the top of the soil so it does not show.

♥ Fill a galvanized watering can with fresh summer flowers as a centerpiece.

♥ Use tall vases and fill them with flowers. These will help to anchor the tablecloths in place as well.

♥ Have a look at Theknot.com for instructions on how you can make your own centerpiece for the wedding reception tables.

♥ For a stunning citrus centerpiece you could try this idea from Martha Stewart. Tie lemons and grapefruits with yellow taffeta ribbons and pile them into a glass bowl. The bows are secured by pins and sheer yellow organdy drapes from the bowl.

Additional things to consider

♥ For additional colour you could decorate the chairs at your wedding reception. Tie large bows on the backs of chairs with ribbon streamers.

♥ I’m sure that you will be having children attend your wedding reception as I know how family-oriented Cypriot people are (my brother’s wife is from Cyprus!) so how about renting a bubble machine to add a touch of fun. It creates a lovely party atmosphere and the children will love it.

♥ The wedding cake should be given pride of place in the village square as this will form the centerpiece for your wedding reception. If the weather is going to be hot perhaps you should place your cake in the shade or underneath a canopied arch as you don’t want it melting before you and your new husband have a chance to cut it!

♥ If the Village Square lacks colour then choose bright vibrant colours in your wedding decorations to give it an eye-catching appearance rather than using muted pastel colours.

♥ If there are any unattractive features around the Village Square then you might want to shield them off using trellis which can be decorated with trailing greenery and flowers. This is not too expensive to buy and you can use it in your garden after the wedding reception.

♥ Will there be enough bathrooms for your wedding guests? If not, you might want to consider renting port-a-potties. These port-a-potties are fitted out with a sink, vanity unit and mirror. If you decide to do this make sure you decorate them with some fresh flowers, perfumed hand soap to make them more festive.

Weather

♥ Have you had any thoughts about what you will do if the weather turns bad? Perhaps you should have a back up plan in place just in case. Having a backup plan for any outdoor wedding reception, anytime of the year, is always a wise move. It might be a good idea to rent a marquee which could provide your guests with shelter just in case.

♥ If there is a possibility that your guests might get cold in the evening when the sun goes down perhaps you should think about renting outdoor patio heaters like the wedding setting pictured here.

♥ Likewise, if the weather is likely to be extremely hot then think about renting tables with umbrellas which would provide your guests with some shade. You don’t want your guests to be melting in the heat! If it going to be very hot weather you should consider renting large electric fans (which could be powered off of a generator in the absence of electricity) and spreading them around the periphery of the village square.

♥ If there is a chance that the village square might be a windy location make sure that you protect your table settings and your candles.

♥ Even a light wind can blow out candles so if there is a chance of wind you should definitely use votive holders, hurricane lamps or fishbowls which will ensure that your candles remain lit.

♥ You can prevent your table coverings from blowing off by using heavy table items as centerpieces, such as large vases of flowers, potted plants or candles. If it is very breezy put large smooth pebbles on the corners of the table to secure the tablecloths or you could use garden twine to tie pebbles to the corners of the cloth. Another idea is to sew small weights into the seams to weight them down.

One thing I have not yet mentioned is the logistics of getting the Square decorated in time for your wedding reception. It is probably best to decorate the Square on the morning of your wedding. Ask a group of your friends and family to volunteer for this job as you and your fiance will prbably not have time to get involved yourselves on the morning of your wedding. Give them clear instructions for doing it and if possible have a trial run prior to the wedding so that you can plan out where your guests will sit and where the dancefloor should be.

Remember that if you are on a tight wedding budget it is possible to decorate the Village Square and keep your costs down. Try eBay for a lot of your decorating supplies as they are very affordable and will undoubtedly deliver them to you in Cyprus. To save money bulk buy items like citronella candles and garlands of greenery.

My final thoughts are that you don't have to go overboard on decorating the Village Square. You will find that the outdoor atmosphere creates its own magical atmosphere without too many embellishments. If you decorate it with some creativity you can add a romantic touch to your wedding by turning the Village Square into a unique setting for your wedding reception.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck with your wedding!

Related Posts :
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Couples Saying "No Thanks" To £16,000 Wedding Budgets
Date: July 17, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Industry News & Planning

At long last couples are coming to their senses and realising that you don't have to break the bank to have the wedding of your dreams. According to a survey carried out by Halifax Bank one in four people think that an amount somewhere between £5,000 to £10,000 is adequate to spend on your wedding day.

This is good news for couples planning their weddings on smaller budgets as up until now £16,000 was the estimated cost of a wedding in the UK being bandied around by the wedding industry professionals. Having this huge figure looming over them from the outset of their wedding planning was enough to put a lot of couples off getting married in the past. The survey reveals that now only 9% of UK residents think that the £16,000 national average cost of a wedding is a reasonable amount of pay. Ian Corfield, head of Halifax Unsecured Personal Loans, says:

"Our survey suggests that there may be a change in opinion as to how much couples should spend. It may be that the costs typically involved have reached a level which is no longer considered reasonable."

To read the full article click here.

Although I can totally understand how easy it is to spend £16,000 on a wedding, I also think that with all of the budgeting tips, DIY options and money-saving ideas readily available on the internet couples have no excuse for inflating their budgets to huge proportions - they can achieve a memorable wedding on a smaller budget.

Further Wedding Budget Reading:
Announcing Eight Free Online Wedding Budget Planner Reviews - discover my top recommendation for your wedding budgeting.

Related Posts :
CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
Tips For Hosting An Outdoor Wedding Reception In A Unique Location
Take A Peek At "The Running Of The Brides" Live Video
Discover Ken York's "Father Of The Bride" Wedding Advice Blog
Brand New Wedding Dresses Up For Grabs On eBay
Wedding Insurance – Compare Wedding Insurance -Time Saving Links To Policy Documents


Take A Peek At "The Running Of The Brides" Live Video
Date: July 14, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Dresses & Funny & Unique Ideas

Further to my blog about the annual "Running of the Brides" dress sale at Filene's Basement check out the live footage from Towson, Maryland this morning.

According to WJZ News every one of the 700 wedding dresses were cleared from the dress rails at Filene's store just minutes after the store opening at 8am. However what I find amazing is that not one bride-to-be hit the cash registers until 8pm! I think 12 hours of trying on wedding dresses is a bit excessive!

I hope those bride-to-be's are at home with their feet up right now having secured their dream wedding dresses!

Related Posts :
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Discover Ken York's "Father Of The Bride" Wedding Advice Blog
Date: July 13, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Family & Relationships & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

Have you ever wondered how fathers feel in the run up to their daughter's weddings? Well you need wonder no more as a father of a bride-to-be has come up with an innovative new blog offering advice designed to help other fathers of brides to give away their daughters without taking out a second mortgage!

The concept behind this blog is to chronicle the experiences of its writer Ken York while he helps to plan and pay for his daughter’s wedding due to take place in October 2006.

“I am about to spend more money on my daughter’s wedding than I did buying my first house and first new car combined and 90 percent of the advice I’ve found for fathers of the bride is to be supportive and write checks”.

With 2.3 million couples getting married in the United States in 2006, there are a similarly large number of fathers of the bride who are about to shell out over $20,000 for their daughters’ one-day wedding event. The average wedding today costs $26,800 according to the Wedding Report, yet there is a distinct lack of information oriented towards the father of the bride. From the time the planned wedding is announced, daughters and wives are thinking of how wonderful the day will be and immediately start to mentally review every wedding article, magazine, book, television show and conversation that they have ever had concerning weddings. The father of the bride, on the other hand, probably only has a vague memory of his own wedding day and is a bit lost in the whole planning process.

“As I go through this process people are opening up to me telling about their positive and negative experiences,” said York. “I intend to both post this information along with my research on the blog and in an E-book that I am writing.”

You should definitely point your Dad in the direction of this blog as it offers guy-oriented advice on how to orchestrate/save money on daughter's weddings as well as following Ken's progress as he humorously develops his own strategy for dealing with his daughter’s wedding.

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To Greet or Not To Greet? What You Need to Know About Wedding Receiving Lines
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


Brand New Wedding Dresses Up For Grabs On eBay
Date: July 12, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Budgeting & Cakes & Cameras & Candles & Dresses & Favors & Flower & Decorations & Jewelry & Shoes & Shopping & Unique Ideas

Would you be interested in finding the designer wedding dress of your dreams at a fraction of the normal cost? That is exactly what happened to bride Ashley Purvis from Louisville, Kentucky when she bought her dream wedding dress from eBay for the bargain price of $161!

The dress Ashley set her heart on, made of matte satin with a beaded top, chapel train and corset back, was advertised at a retail price of $500 on the wedding online store ChicBridal.com. According to Courier-Journal.com Ashley’s mother, Tina Hunt, spotted the exact same dress up for auction on eBay. She said "I never dreamed, honestly, that it would be on eBay, but I found the exact same dress, bid on it, and got it."

Don’t assume for one moment that it was a second-hand wedding dress that Ashley wore down the aisle for her wedding on 26 May this year. The dress was in brand new condition and was shipped to her straight from the dress manufacturer’s factory. Whilst eBay do sell a wide variety of once-worn or "gently used" dresses on their popular internet auction site, Ashley bought her dress from eBay’s online wedding store, eBay.com/Bridal (also UK brides can check out bargains on eBay.co.uk).

In actual fact Ashley managed to make huge savings on most aspects of her wedding. Courier-journal.com reports that Ashley sourced her wedding bouquets, attendant’s outfits and wedding stationery all from eBay at a fraction of the cost she would have paid to wedding suppliers.

"I got my wedding dress, my veil, the tiara, the ring-bearer's tux, the flower girl's dress. These are brand-new items. I didn't buy used. We got the invitations off eBay, too, and my bridal bouquet. Yeah, it was crazy. We saved a whole lot of money."

Like Ashley, by using the bargain-hunting marketplace of eBay couples can shave up to 80% off of their wedding budgets. In addition to the items which Ashley bought off of eBay you can also buy favors, disposable cameras, wedding cakes, jewelry including wedding rings, attire for the wedding party, gifts for the wedding party and the all-important honeymoon, all at fantastic prices!

If you find navigating your way around eBay’s online wedding store a minefield, try reading the guidebook, "How to Buy Everything for Your Wedding on eBay... and Save a Fortune! at Amazon.com" and Amazon.co.uk which is a snip at only $11.02 or £6.59. This book is written by Dennis Prince who is the author of other instructional books about eBay and his co-authors Dan Joya and Sarah Manongdo are newlyweds who saved big money when they planned their wedding using eBay – so these people are guaranteed to know what they are taking about when it comes to shopping for your wedding using eBay. The book guides you through strategies for searching for and bidding for wedding items on eBay, how to resell items after the wedding and advice from 60 eBay wedding PowerSellers on how to bag the best wedding bargains on eBay.

Here are my top tips for buying a new wedding dress from eBay’s online wedding store at a discount price:

♥ Once you have found your dream wedding dress either in a magazine, at a wedding fair or at your local wedding dress shop it is worth having a look on eBay’s online wedding store to check if the same dress appears there on their auction pages.

♥ If you are unsure what type of dress you are looking for you could browse through eBay’s Dresses & Gowns pages. Select your dress size and location (e.g. USA, Europe, Worldwide) and then have some fun perusing the index list and picture galleries of available dresses. If you see a dress which you like the look of click on the link or picture to see a larger photo and the seller’s description.

♥ eBay usually have a huge selection of dresses available in every conceivable style and color so do take a trip to your local wedding boutique first, if possible, so that you have some idea of what style, color, size and even brand of dress you are looking for. This will help you to narrow down your search on eBay.

♥ Of course you cannot try on the wedding dresses before you bid for them on eBay but a lot of sellers will allow you to return the dress if it does not fit – it is always worth asking an eBay seller whether they have a returns policy in place.

♥ Beware as a lot of the stores selling wedding dresses on eBay are either going out of business and disposing of their stock or they are selling off discontinued styles. Do make sure that you find out prior to bidding if the store has a returns policy.

♥ Always order wedding dresses from eBay to fit your largest body measurement because it is far easier to take in a dress bought in advance of your wedding than it is to accommodate pounds gained in the stressful run up to your wedding!

♥ Remember that if you fall in love with a dress on eBay but it is too big, you will be able to afford the cost of altering it with the money you have saved overall on your bargain eBay wedding dress!

♥ Never bid on a dress without first seeing a picture of it (obvious I know!).

♥ If you do decide to buy a once-worn wedding dress from eBay ask the seller as many questions as possible about the condition of the dress.

♥ How about recouping some of your own wedding costs by selling your once-worn wedding dress on eBay?

I think that buying your wedding dress is a great way of saving money – it’s much better than buying a full price gown. Let’s face it, no one will ever know except you!

Happy bidding!!

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Wedding Shop Review - David's Bridal in Chattanooga, Tennessee


Wedding Insurance – Compare Wedding Insurance -Time Saving Links To Policy Documents

Without doubt all brides and grooms should take out wedding insurance, in fact here are 11 golden reasons to back this statement up.

To save you the time and trouble we have provided time saving links to eight of the top wedding insurance companies in the UK. You can easily review the levels of cover, explanation of cover for each level, policy documents, cover summaries, contact details, ownership, underwriters, regulators and reviews.

All of the companies can be checked on the Financial Services Authority's register by visiting their website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register or by contacting them on 0845 606 1234.

Of the eight companies Confetti.co.uk Wedding Insurance, Debenhams Insurance, MRL Insurance, and Wedding Plan Insurance are all underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc.

Both Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc and The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited are both wholly independent and are underwritten by themselves. Marks and Spencer Insurance and Hitched.co.uk are underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.

These insurance companies are listed alphabetically and are not in any order of recommendation:


CONFETTI.CO.UK INSURANCE

Cover: 3 levels at £54 (Gold), £104 (Platinum) and £154 (Diamond)
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Gold Cover Application Form
Platinum Cover Application Form
Diamond Cover Application Form

Contact Details:
Confetti Wedding Insurance, TPS Limited, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW Reg. No. 2587396
Confetti.co.uk/shopping/insurance/default.asp
Tel: call 0870 774 4065 - No times stated
Email: Not Available

Ownership:
Owned by Confetti Wedding Insurance, TPS Limited

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Confetti.co.uk Wedding Insurance 2006 accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



DEBENHAMS INSURANCE

Cover: 2 levels at £59 (Gold) and £100 (Platinum)
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Travellers Protection Services Limited, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW
DebenhamsWeddingInsurance.com
Tel: call 0870 77 44 196 quoting DOL - Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am-4pm
Email: Not Available

Ownership:
Debenhams Wedding Insurance is arranged by Travellers Protection Services Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Debenhams Wedding Insurance 2006 accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



ECCLESIASTICAL INSURANCE

Cover: 4 levels at £48, £60, £110 and £160
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Initial Disclosure Document and Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc, Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, GL1 1JZ
Ecclesiastical.co.uk
Tel: 0800 336 622 - 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
Email: insurance@eigmail.com - will respond to your email within two working days.

Ownership:
Ultimately owned by Allchurches Trust Limited (ATL), a registered charity. ATL’s Charity Number is 263960

Underwriters:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Regulation:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc. (EIO) Reg. No. 24869. Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc. (EIG) Reg. No. 1718196. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd. (ELL) Reg. No. 243111. Ecclesiastical Group Asset Management Ltd. (EGAM) Reg. No. 2170213. Allchurches Investment Management Services Ltd. (AIMS) Reg. No. 2170173. Allchurches Mortgage Company Ltd. (AMC) Reg. No. 1974218. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ UK. Tel: 01452 528533. EIO, ELL, EGAM & AIMS are authorised and regulated by the FSA and are members of the Financial Ombudsman Service. EIO & ELL are members of the Association of British Insurers and AIMS is a member of the Investment Management Association.

Online Reviews:
ReviewCentre.co.uk



E & L INSURANCE

Cover: 7 levels at £49, £65, £85, £105, £155, £260 and £360
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited PO Box 100, York, YO26 9SZ
eandl.co.uk/wedding-insurance.htm
Tel: call 08704 022 710 - Mon-Fri 8am to 9pm and Sat-Sun 9am to 6pm
Email: info@eandl.co.uk

Ownership:
Owned by The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited

Underwriters:
All our policies are underwritten by The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited

Regulation:
Equine and Livestock Insurance Company Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Registration no: 202748.

Online Reviews:
reviewcentre.com



EVENT INSURANCE

Cover: 6 levels at £55, £85, £120, £175, £225 and £320
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Event Insurance Services Ltd, Event House, 20A Headlands Business Park, Ringwood, Hants. BH24 3PB.
Events-insurance.co.uk/Wedding_Insurance.html
Tel: 0800 515980 and 01425 470360 Fax: 01425 474905
Email: info@events-insurance.co.uk and an Online Form

Ownership:
Owned by Event Insurance Services Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Arranged by Event Insurance Services Limited accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



MARKS AND SPENCER FINANCIAL SERVICES

Cover: 4 levels at £59, £99, £154 and £189
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Questions
Policy Document

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc, Kings Meadow, Chester, CH99 9FB
www6.MarksandSpencer.com/pages/default.asp?PageId=home&Product=WI
Tel: 0800 316 5985 - 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
Email: Not Available.

Ownership:
Owned by Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc and underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Underwriters:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Regulation:
Marks and Spencer Money is a trading name of Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc (Kings Meadow, Chester, CH99 9FB) who are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
None available



MRL INSURANCE

Cover: 4 levels at £65 (Standard), £99 (Classic), £135 (Premier) and £165 (Supreme)
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Key Facts
Policy Document

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
MRL Insurance Direct, Princess Caroline House, 1 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1JE
MRLinsurance.co.uk
Tel: 0870 870 4401 - Fax:0870 241 1884
Email: admin@mrlgroup.co.uk

Ownership:
Arranged by MRL Group Ltd with UK Underwriting Ltd by Axa Insurance UK and Primary Insurance Company Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc and Primary Insurance Company Limited

Regulation:
Arranged by MRL Insurance Group with UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
None available



WEDDING PLAN INSURANCE

Cover: 3 levels at £54 (Gold), £104 (Platinum), and £154 (Diamond)
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Policy Document

Order Online:
Gold Application Form
Platinum Application Form
Diamond Application Form

Contact Details:
Weddingplan, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW
WeddingPlanInsurance.co.uk
Tel: 08707 744178 - Fax: 08707 744045 - Open 8am to 8pm weekdays, 9am to 5pm Saturdays and 10am to 4pm Sundays
Email: weddingplan@tpsltd.com

Ownership:
Owned by Travellers Protection Services Limited (Registered Company No. 2587396)

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc and Primary Insurance Company Limited

Regulation:
WeddingPlanInsurance accpeted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
ReviewCentre.com



Useful Wedding Insurance Articles:
If misfortune blights your troth, are you protected? Melanie Bien from The Independent reports on how to insure the cost of your wedding against disaster.
Top Ten Wedding Claims by Confetti.co.uk
Wedding insurance - Cover for your big day can save you stress and money, says Sarah Jagger from Channel4.
Yahoo Finance - Wedding insurance: do you take this policy by Sarah Modlock
Get cover for the bid day by the Times Online.

Further Wedding Insurance Reading:

Will Your Wedding Insurance Cover You If You Cancel Before The Event? - A full list of circumstances you need to check are listed in your policy documents.
11 Golden Reasons All Couples Should Have Wedding Insurance - Make sure you take out wedding insurance today.
Hitched.co.uk Has Chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance To Provide Wedding Insurance Policies Through Its Website - Wedding insurance joins the range of wedding planning services and advice already offered by Hitched.co.uk.

DISCLAIMER

1. The information provided on this Wedaholic.com web site has been compiled for your convenience. Wedaholic.com makes no warranties about the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this web site.
2. Wedaholic.com, including its directors, will not accept any liability for any loss, damage or other injury resulting from its use.
3. Links to other web sites are provided for your convenience and Wedaholic.com is not responsible for the information contained on those web sites. The provision of a link to another web site does not constitute an endorsement or approval of that web site, or any products or services offered on that web site, by Wedaholic.com. Wedaholic.com will not accept any liability for the use of those links to connect to web sites that are not under our control.

Financial Disclaimer

Wedaholic.com does not accept any liability for any investment decisions made on the basis of this information. This web site does not constitute financial advice and should not be taken as such. Wedaholic.com urges you to obtain professional advice before proceeding with any investment.

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Confetti.co.uk Coupon - Save £10 On Your Next Online Order
Date: July 08, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Coupons & Shopping

As someone who is always on the look out for a bargain, I thought the following offer from Confetti.co.uk would be great for brides in the UK.

£10 off your next online order when you spend £50 before 31st July 2006

On the Order and Payments page, you must enter the media code AFJ0706 into the labelled box just above your address. An email with your discount code for your next online purchase will be sent to your inbox within two weeks.

N.B. If you have spent over £39 on cameras, you can enter the code, CAM2006 into the voucher code box, and press on “apply voucher” to receive your £10 discount.

I can highly recommend Confetti and take great delight in reviewing their products, the latest being their new magazine “Confetti Receptions”.

By the way last Sunday I was in their Glasgow store and therefore intend to write up my review very shortly - I don't think I am giving anything away by saying I was very impressed! If you live close enough to visit I highly recommend a trip there!

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Confetti.co.uk Coupon - Free Delivery On Orders Of £75 Or More


Wedding Dress Scene Straight Out Of An Episode Of Friends!
Date: July 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Dresses & Funny & TV Shows & Unique Ideas

Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where Monica enlists the help of Rachel and Phoebe to attend a wedding dress sale? Do you remember the scene where Monica shows her friends a picture of the wedding dress she is looking for and sends them off into the affray armed with whistles to signal when they have found her dream dress?

The picture of the 3 friends elbowing their way through hordes of bloodthirsty bargain-hunting brides-to-be in search of their dream wedding dress at a bargain price sprung into my mind today when I read ManoloForTheBrides.com's blog about the annual "Running of the Brides" dress sale which is taking place at Filene's Basement’s next week in Towson, Maryland.

I thought that the creators of Friends had concocted that storyline themselves - I had no idea that these sales actually happened! I can see how tempting it would be for a bride to bag themselves a bargain dress though - you could make huge savings in this area of your wedding budget. There are sales at various other branches of Filene's Basement - check out their website for details of sales in your area and for their top 10 tips for success at their wedding dress sales.

Well done ManoloForTheBrides.com for bringing this to our attention. All you brides-to-be, have a read, get your entourage together, sharpen up those elbows and head out to Filene's Basement!

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20 Essential Wedding DJ Tips
Date: July 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Legal Matters & Music & Dance & Planning & Reception & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Venues

Music and entertainment are essential elements of your wedding reception and getting it right can make or break your wedding! It is a difficult decision to make with so many different varieties of bands, entertainers and DJs available. It is no wonder that so many couples have trouble deciding whether to have live music or a DJ for their wedding reception. It can be even more difficult to make the decision if you don’t know what you should expect these service providers to provide for your wedding reception.

Focusing on wedding DJs, we are all familiar with the stereotypical cheesy wedding DJ who embarrasses your guests and whose appearance and performance become a standing joke at your wedding! What should you be looking for when choosing a wedding DJ? Nina Callaway at About.com sums it up nicely when she says:

“Frequently a DJ or band leader will act as the MC of a wedding reception, which means you'll need them to be entertaining but not annoying, polished, friendly, and charismatic.”

For many couples, less time is spent on choosing the DJ than any other aspect of the reception - this can be a costly and disappointing mistake! Overlooking this aspect of your wedding planning is easy to do. However, choosing the right DJ is crucial to the success of your wedding reception and my top tips below should help you accomplish this:

1. Know what you really want in terms of music before you begin looking for a wedding DJ

This is crucial and is the simplest way to eliminate DJs that aren't quite right in the first round. If you and your fiancé are dreaming of classic Big Band sounds, be very up front about this the first time you talk to prospective DJs. A DJ who specializes in rock and pop music may be wonderful, but his play list will be limited when it comes to what you want, and you'll be disappointed.

I recommend you read “How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music” where I describe how wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests and I list four services that allow users to download and review a large selection of wedding songs.

2. Ask for references

Any DJ who consistently pleases his clients should be more than happy to provide you with contact details so that you can obtain recommendations from other satisfied customers. When you do this, be sure and ask the other customers when the reception took place - the references must be recent, not two years old! If the DJ has no recent references be sure to ask why this is. Additionally, if the DJ has a website (which is now the popular trend) you should take a look at it to see whether it contains any testimonials. You want to be sure that your DJ has a good reputation for overall conduct, interaction with guests, use of alcohol, punctuality and ability to work alongside other wedding service providers. I recommend that you check at least four references for your chosen DJ. In a business where any unqualified person can easily enter the DJ profession you need to do research to ensure that you hire someone that will provide you with a top quality service.

Obviously if you do your own research and start asking friends and recent newlyweds for DJ recommendations you have there the best type of reference possible! Do make sure that if a friend recommends a DJ to you that you check that you and your friend’s music tastes and expectations of a wedding DJ are similar!

Another idea is to ask the DJ if they can show you an example of their work by letting you see a video clip taken at another wedding where they have performed. Most DJ's nowadays will be able to provide you with an example of the quality and style of their performance.

You must ask the DJ how much experience they have had in this business. Has the majority of their work been at weddings, or is for the corporate market? These types of questions will enable you to determine whether they are the right person to perform at your wedding reception.

3. Always meet your DJ in person

Once you have whittled down your choice to 3 or 4 prospective wedding DJs it is recommended that you meet each one in person. This way you can check out their personality and general appearance, something you just can’t do properly over the phone. Finding out a DJ’s personality is very important (how many cheesy wedding DJs can you remember - far too many I bet!) as you definitely want your guests enjoying the music at your wedding rather than spending the night commenting on how bad the DJ is! By meeting with them in person you get an indication of whether they are punctual. You might find in some instances that the DJ fails to show up for your meeting - it is better to find out if they are unreliable in the planning stages rather than find this out to your detriment on your wedding day!

During your meeting with the DJ watch them to see whether they are paying attention to your specific requirements for your wedding music. Are they taking notes? Professional wedding DJs always have a pad and pen with them to jot down notes about what style of music is going to suit your wedding. No DJ has that great a memory that they can memorize all of your musical preferences!

4. Discuss your wedding song play list and look for flexibility

Is it your intention to have a DJ that will be proactive in getting the dance floor full right from the beginning of the evening or is a more laid back approach more your style for your wedding reception? Ask the DJ for a consultation several weeks before the reception and go over your song preferences with him in detail. Ask your DJ if he has a list of his music collection and if he would object if you highlight a few tracks that you would like him to play during the evening. A professional will take note of which songs you want to hear as well as which songs you don't want to hear. You will need to tell your DJ the wishes for special dances such as your first dance, the father and bride dance etc. Ensure that your DJ knows the flow of key moments throughout the wedding reception so that he can keep the music in synch.

Usually DJs are willing to take requests from wedding guests on the night but you should ask about this specifically beforehand. Ultimately you want your DJ to be flexible but some DJs use pre-programmed music which might make it difficult for them to accommodate your guests' requests.

If you imagine that your DJ will be working for approximately 4 hours and each song is 4 minutes long - that is a total of 60 songs that will be played. Whilst you will want your special songs played you should rely on the DJ to determine the best musical taste to get people on the dance floor. Your DJ will know songs that have worked at weddings in the past. The family and friends you invite to your wedding probably vary in age from 5 to 85 years old. It is quite a task to cater to all tastes with wedding music but that is exactly what you are expecting of your wedding DJ. An experienced DJ will know when to play which kind of music. They will take note when your guests arrive of what type of music suits the crowd. Ask the DJ what their tricks are for encouraging and motivating people to dance. Can you get a sense from them that they are able to “read” a dance room – can they give you examples of which songs they would use in different circumstances?

Have these open discussions with your DJ and ensure you are on the same wavelength to avoid any confusion on the day. It is important that you discuss the types of artists and styles of music you enjoy - remember your DJ isn’t a mind reader! You want to be able to form a good relationship with your wedding DJ. Does he listen to your suggestions? Does he offer you his professional opinion or simply agree with everything you say?

5. Ensure your DJ’s music is up to date

Make sure that your DJ has a wide range of music including the most recent chart-topping songs. Beware of amateur DJs who claim that they can obtain any song that you want for your wedding by downloading it online. Even though you and I might obtain our music from internet downloads, this is definitely not the approach a professional DJ should take. Nowadays all professional wedding DJs subscribe to paid services such as Promoonly.com and Tophitsusa.com so that they can be sure to have the most up-to-date song releases on a weekly or monthly basis. Your DJ should have a wide range of music including the most recent songs in the charts and you can check this by asking to see their latest CDs and verifying their release dates. Do provide the DJ with a list of specific songs which you want to be played at your wedding so that he can source them out prior to the wedding reception if he does not have them in his current music collection.

6. Ask the DJ about his professional status

Don't be hesitant to ask a DJ if you can check their credentials. Most professional DJs will be a member of the American Disk Jockey Association (ADJA), so ask them for proof of membership to confirm this.

It is also really important that you check that your DJ has public liability insurance. If one of your wedding guests trips over a cable that the DJ has not taped down to the floor or if a speaker falls on top of a guest then it will be the DJ they look to for compensation. Ask to see a copy of their insurance cover.

Make it clear to your DJ that you don’t want any self-promoting signs for his services displayed at your wedding - this is your wedding reception not a school disco! Sometimes a DJ will ask if he can display a sign or have business cards on display. This is totally up to you - you have to ask yourself if you want your wedding to be used as a place to market the DJs services. Some brides and grooms object to this and some agree a reduction in the DJs fee in exchange for the prominent display of their advertising sign.

7. Does the DJ perform emcee duties?

Although this seems obvious, there are some DJs, particularly if you are using a non-professional DJ, who simply play the music at the wedding. If you want the DJ to make announcements, such as the introduction of the newlyweds’ first dance, the cake cutting or the bouquet being tossed, and act as an overall emcee during the evening entertainment be sure to check that they are comfortable doing this. It takes years to build up experience as a DJ of speaking into a microphone. If you are unable to get an opportunity to see the DJ performing live, ask to see a video clip. For a wedding you need to choose someone who has a fun personality and a professional delivery for announcements.

8. What music format does your DJ use?

You should ask your wedding DJ whether they will be playing CDs, MP3s or even vinyl records. This is important as you need to know that they have a back-up plan if their sound system fails - you don’t want to have to wait for your first dance as man and wife whilst the DJ reboots the PC attached to his mixing desk! Most DJs have progressed into the digital era nowadays.

9. Ensure your DJ knows the dress code

Always ask about how they intend to dress on the day of your wedding. Your DJ should always dress in a manner that is appropriate for the occasion. Whilst this does not mean that he must wear a tuxedo you do not want the other extreme of him turning up in shorts and sandals! The DJ is a service provider on your wedding day so should always be neatly dressed. If you are having a themed wedding make sure you have informed your DJ so that they can fit in as best they can with the theme of your wedding.

10. Ask about emergency arrangements

It is any DJs worst nightmare that the sound system fails during a performance. It is really important that you ask your DJ beforehand if he has any backup equipment available for use in case there is a problem during your wedding reception. Although it doesn't happen often, equipment can fail, and if it happens on the night of your reception and it is the only set your DJ has, you may find yourself faced with a night without music!

Also, discuss what alternative arrangements will be made in the event that the DJ you hire is sick or unavailable for your wedding reception. Will he provide a back-up DJ that is suitable for the occasion? It is vitally important that you get the reassurance that you are covered in the event of a problem – this should be fully dealt with in your contract too. If you book an active member of the American Disc Jockey Association they are more likely to know a fellow professional that can take over in the event of an emergency. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to have a full backup plan!

11. Does your DJ own quality audio equipment?

A professional DJ will generally have spent over $10,000 on their equipment and will be proud to discuss the technical side if asked. I recommend that you ask them which brand of equipment they use – you should look out for names including Crown, Denon, ElectroVoice, JBL and QSC as these demonstrate your DJ is serious about DJing . The mention of names like American DJ, FBT, Gemini, MTX, NEXT, Peavey Sound and Tech should make you a little more cautious because they are poorer sound quality. By finding out the brand names of the DJs equipment you will quickly be able to gauge the quality of their audio equipment and this should help you to decide whether or not you want to use their services for your wedding reception. Proper equipment will give good sound quality that will not be disturbing for your wedding guests. There is nothing worse than being seated next to a speaker at a wedding that is producing poor sound quality. Like anything though the use of top quality equipment does not guarantee that the DJ is a huge success, but at least you will know that you will be listening to professional quality sounds for starters!

12. Will your DJ be using a wireless microphone?

Wireless microphones work well at weddings and allow the DJ to roam the dance floor without tripping over a chord. This is great as it gives them the flexibility to teach wedding guests all the steps to a group dance. Sometimes DJs prefer sticking with a chord microphone because they are more likely to get interference from a wireless microphone. Personally I think that this is a bit of a cheap get-out because if their sound system is properly setup with today's technology they generally should not get a problem when using a wireless microphone. If you have a preference discuss this with your DJ beforehand.

13. Has the DJ worked at the venue before?

Do ask your DJ whether they have performed at your choice of wedding reception venue before. Although this is not essential, the more familiar they are with the layout and staff at your chosen venue the better. If they have not played there before, it is best to meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the specifics of setting up the DJ table, dance floor location and speaker positions.

14. Does your DJ understand the best way to set up speakers at your venue?

Always ask your DJ how many speakers they intend on using. As a bare minimum there should be a subwoofer or a pair of speakers positioned on the ground and a pair on stands. Anything less will cause problems - having two speakers solely on the ground will produce a muffled sound and lack of clarify when announcements are being made. Equally a pair of speakers on stands is great for microphone clarity but won’t be ideal for the music as this will sound hollow.

If your reception room is large you should ask your DJ whether he will be using far-field speakers. These are ideal for throwing the sound further than normal speakers and are essential if you are dancing outside. Ask your DJ whether he intends to perform sound checks prior to the entertainment commencing.

Ideally you will meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the actual positions for the speakers. If there are hard surfaces like marble ask them how they are going to overcome issues such as acoustical echoes. Solutions to overcome this problem could be as simple as setting the ground speakers so that they point upwards at 45 degrees. If the speakers are obtrusive or ugly looking, feel free to ask your DJ if they can be covered to make them less visible.

15. How much time will your DJ need for setting up?

Normally the DJ will need at least an hour to set up his equipment at the reception venue. Check with your DJ whether this will be sufficient for his requirements beforehand and let the wedding venue know if he needs more time. It is important that if you are eating your meal in the same room as the dance floor, you arrange for there to be a time lapse between the end of the meal and the tables being cleared to the evening entertainment commencing. Usually guests are quite happy to mingle in the bar area or stretch their legs outdoors after the meal.

16. Who pays for your DJ's food?

Feeding the DJ is often overlooked but it is necessary. They are providing a wedding service for you so you should definitely feed and water them during the course of the wedding reception - you don’t want them wilting halfway through the evening’s entertainment! I would not recommend adding another cover to your wedding breakfast total (that's far too expensive and totally unnecessary). You should arrange to provide the DJ with a smaller meal that is quite inexpensive - you can pre-arrange this with your catering manager and confirm this with the DJ. Alternatively, if you have a wedding buffet in the evening you can let the DJ know that they are welcome to help themselves to it - within reason!

17. Will your DJ provide a lighting system?

Before you even get into a conversation about lighting systems you must be very confident that your DJ can deliver on the music front first. Why? - because it is the music and the DJ’s emcee skills that are most important! Once you have chosen your ideal DJ then you can discuss the lighting with them.

Most DJs will be able to offer an intelligent lighting system which is choreographed with the music. This is much more sophisticated than the old days where a few flashing lights and a mirror ball constituted a lights show! Typically most DJs offer a basic lighting system within their fee but if it is within your wedding budget you could pay extra and upgrade. How about an amazing light show that includes your names and those of your guests projected in laser light on the wall as their names are announced at the reception! That is a little over the top for me, but there are other variations available with the lighting - discuss it with your DJ. Undoubtedly he will have plenty of options he can tell you about.

18. How much will your DJ cost?

Everyone with one eye on their wedding budget wants to cut their costs down, but make sure that you are not selling yourself short by drafting in a bargain-priced DJ - you might be paying for what you are getting in this instance! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are paying over the odds for your DJ because all that they are being paid for is to play music for 4 hours! Professional DJs will have invested a lot of time in your wedding prior to your actual wedding reception. Typically they will be spending between 10 to 20 hours consulting with you, purchasing the music, editing, preparing, setting up the equipment, packing up the equipment and other administrative tasks.

DJ prices can vary enormously and it is important to realize that a lot of couples say in hindsight that they wished they had spent more of their wedding budget on the entertainment. Research shows that you can spend between $400 and $3200 on a wedding DJ, but in general $1200 for 4 hours is the average for a professional DJ.
You will generally pay more if you hire a DJ as part of a wedding venue's package deal compared to finding your own DJ and paying them directly.

19. Ensure you include all the details in the contract

Finally, after choosing your wedding DJ, do remember to get everything in writing. Most DJs provide formal contracts. Make sure that any changes you have requested are attached to the contract and ensure that it is signed before you proceed any further. The contract should include a clause regarding what happens if the reception overruns - will there be extra charges and what will they cost? The contract must specifically state the name of the DJ who you have requested for your wedding day - you don’t want someone else from the same company but who you have never met before. Remember to confirm the arrangements with the DJ in a phone call during the week preceding your wedding.

20. How to find a DJ online

Hiring a wedding DJ in the US :

Wedj.com - Use this site to search for a wedding DJ in the US, using postcode and date filters.

Weddings.Respond.com - Respond’s Directory lists the top wedding DJ businesses in your area, organized by category and location.

Discjockeys.com - Search for prescreened and member referred wedding disc jockeys.

Gigmasters.com - Search within the US and Canada using your city and state. Select from thousands of wedding DJs for hire.

AllTimeFavorites.com - Browse this site for DJs in the US.

Hiring a wedding DJ in the UK :

UK-Disco.co.uk - Comprehensive UK list of wedding DJ and karaoke services in your area.

Hitched.co.uk - Review featured local services for music and DJs, with listings categorized by county.

Musicmoz.org - Search this comprehensive directory of all things music including DJs, edited by volunteers.

The sooner you book your DJ the better. You should definitely aim for having a DJ booked no later than 9 months in advance of your wedding day if you want to guarantee a professional DJ service in your local area. Do be aware that if your wedding is held in a major city, it is wise to book even earlier than this as, not surprisingly, the best DJs will be booked at least a year in advance. Likewise with weddings falling on major holidays, such as Christmas - the earlier you book the better.

I totally recommend that you also read the advantages of using an iPod for your wedding music entertainment, and Nina’s article on the Pros and Cons of Choosing a DJ or Wedding Band so that you can make a well informed decision on whether you really want a wedding DJ, as opposed to a band or going the DIY route and using your own iPod!

If you follow these steps you will have a memorable wedding reception that everyone will enjoy! Good luck.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.

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A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
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Top Tips From Brides.com - Planning Small To Large-Scale Weddings
Date: July 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Planning

When planning your dream wedding one of the first decisions you need to make is what scale of wedding can you afford to have. Sometimes it is not just a small budget which dictates how many guests you can invite to witness your special day, the size of your chosen venue can also restrict your decision as to whether you can plan a large-scale wedding. Have a look at this article at Brides.com. It covers 3 real-life weddings on 3 different scales and budgets.



The first wedding is a very small-scale low-key wedding with just 8 guests in San Francisco. The second wedding has a Rat-Pack theme and took place in Las Vegas with 90 guests present. This story has a fantastic quirky surprise for the guests! The third wedding they report on is a large-scale "regal and romantic" wedding with 225 guests in New York city. At the end of each of the 3 editorials there are fabulous handy tips on how to achieve small, medium or large-scale weddings. Enjoy reading!

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Wedding Discount Coupons From JewelryTelevision.com
Date: June 08, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Coupons

In the past I have written blogs about wedding costs, some of the recent ones being:

Dealing With The Touchy Subject of "Money"!

Budgeting Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets

How To Buy Your Wedding Dress in the UK For as Little as £60!


Whilst trawling the net for wedding information I often come across coupons that could really benefit brides and grooms. In fact, more so in the US, there are enough coupons on the internet to devote a whole blog to! My intention tough is to post coupons where I come across something that rings my bell and makes me think that really could save a bride a lot of money. The following did just that!

Jewelry coupon codes for June and July from JewelryTelevison.com

JUNE
Code – DISCJNAFFS
Validity Dates - 6/1/06-6/30/06
Offer - Free Shipping on your next entire purchase-Single Use Only

Code - DISCJNAF15
Validity Dates - 6/1/06-6/30/06
Offer - 15% OFF on your next entire purchase-Single Use Only

JULY
Code – DISCJYAFFS
Validity Dates - 7/1/06-7/31/06
Offer - Free Shipping on your next entire purchase-Single Use Only

Code - DISCJYAF15
Validity Dates - 7/1/06-7/31/06
Offer - 15% OFF on your next entire purchase-Single Use Only

In fact I just did a search in the "Diamonds Favorites" category and there are over 500 to choose from - plenty of ideas for wedding and engagements rings!

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To Tip Or Not To Tip - Gratuities For Your Wedding Suppliers

Recently I received the following question on tipping wedding suppliers:

"I would like to know if I need to tip the hired photographer and the piano player at the wedding ceremony? In fact, who do I have to tip according to etiquette?"

Here is my response:

Please note: Although I have referred to the tipping amounts within this article in US dollars for UK-based readers the figures remain the same.

Etiquette

Tipping etiquette at a wedding is a common area of confusion. Although we tip service providers in everyday life when it comes to your wedding day the etiquette of to whom and how much to tip can be bewildering. Tipping is supposed to be voluntary. However service providers do expect tips nowadays. Traditional wedding custom is to tip a wedding supplier if you think that they did a great job or provided you with outstanding service. Tipping should be based on the quality of service provided to you on your wedding day and in the run up to your wedding. By tipping them you are letting them know that you are happy with the service they provided you with prior to and/or on your wedding day. If you appreciate the work that they have done for you then you can show your appreciation by tipping them.

The Oxford dictionary defines a tip as a small sum of money given to someone for performing a service. Whilst most wedding suppliers are not contractually obligated to receive a tip they might expect one.

Budget

Tipping is an additional cost which you should include in to your wedding budget so that you ensure that you have money allocated for this purpose. Wherever possible calculate the tips you intend to give before your actual wedding day, using the guide set out below. Wedding tips are commonly overlooked when couples set up their wedding budget. It is important to calculate as much as possible prior to your wedding how much you can afford to tip your wedding suppliers. This cost and a contingency amount for extra tips which arise prior to and on your wedding day must be added to your overall wedding budget. Use the following information as a guideline but also use your personal judgment. Whilst tipping costs should be factored into your budget you must remember that they are discretionary and if you are on a tight wedding budget you should not feel obligated to tip.

It is not always necessary to provide a monetary tip to suppliers to whom you wish to show your appreciation. If you think your wedding supplier did a great job then an alternative idea is to send them a gift with a thank you note after the wedding. Remember that the most valuable gratuity you can give to any wedding supplier is your recommendation of them to others! You could show your appreciation to the service provider by sending them a personal letter of recommendation.

You should calculate your budget on the basis that, if you can afford to, you will tip most of your wedding service providers and then you can make the final decision on the wedding day as to whether the services provided exceed your expectations. Do bear in mind that your decision on whether or not to tip is entirely at your discretion. If a wedding supplier has gone above and beyond the call of duty for your wedding then tip them to show your appreciation of their extra effort they put into making your wedding day truly perfect. Sometimes in the run up to your wedding day some wedding suppliers work wonders to accommodate you and your hectic schedule. If this is the case for you then it would be nice gesture to give them a tip to show that you appreciate their extra efforts for you.

Contracts - read the small print

I recommend that you thoroughly read your contract with each supplier to see if a tip is included in their price. Some wedding package rates include tips (particularly if you are getting married abroad). You should note that some wedding suppliers, most notably caterers, add a gratuity to the foot of their bill and they usually call it a service fee or service charge. Most wedding suppliers will inform you of their tipping policy when you enter into an agreement with them for their services. If you are at all confused then ask the supplier directly for an explanation of their service charges and tipping policies. You must be clear about what each wedding supplier is being paid so that you can make judgment calls on whether or not additional tipping might or might not be necessary. Another good reason for being clear about the tipping policy for each supplier is to that you do not end up double tipping them!

Tipping Guidelines

There are some wedding suppliers who you will be expected to tip and there are suppliers who whilst not expecting a tip would greatly appreciate it. Below are some tipping guidelines which suggest amounts each service provider should be tipped according to wedding etiquette:

Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician - You should expect to tip these service providers just as you would on a normal visit to a salon. Tips should be 15% - 20% of your total bill.

Officiant (Clergy, Priest, Minister etc) - Although officiants do not usually ask for financial recompense for their services they do expect you to make a donation to the church or their organization. As to the amount of the donation, traditionally they will suggest an amount when you finalize arrangements with them. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are expecting the officiant to travel outside of their local area then you should also compensate them for their travel costs. Do not directly offer a tip to an officiant. The nominated tip giver should pass the agreed amount to the officiant after the ceremony. If you are using the services of a civil servant, such as a judge, Justice of the Peace or a City Clerk, then you are allowed to tip them (although it should be called a “donation” rather than “tip”) provided you do not exceed $75 and you must ensure that it is paid to them outside of court/office hours.

Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) - Do check to see if a gratuity has been included in their bill as this is often the case with transportation fees for weddings. If not or if you want to reward them for their service on your wedding day then the norm is to tip them 15%-20% of the total cost of the bill.

Valets and Parking Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per car.

Coat Check and Restroom Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per guest.

Waiters and waitresses - It is not necessary to tip the servers if you have already paid a gratuity in your contracted price. Check to ensure whether a service charge is included in the caterer’s contract. If there is no such provision then you should expect to tip 15% - 20% of the total food bill. Although it is not expected for you to tip individual serving staff if you decide that a particular individual has provided you with first-class service then feel free to give that server an additional tip.

Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. Check your paperwork and if in fact a service charge has not been included then you should allow 15% - 20% of the total bill or $1 - $2 per guest.

Bartenders - Usually you will find that the bar manager will add a service charge to the bar bill. If this is not the case then you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill. This amount can be shared out between them equally if there is more than one bartender.

Seamstress/dress fitter - Although it is not customary to tip your seamstress or dress fitter if you feel that they have made an extra special effort on your behalf then tip them between $15 - $30.

Wedding Planner - Wedding planners work for a set fee and will not expect a tip. If you want to show them how grateful you are for their hard work in planning your wedding then 10% of their total fee is more than adequate.

Delivery Staff (including Florist, Bakers etc.) - Staff responsible for your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip. You will have agreed to pay their set fee and that is sufficient. However if you feel that they have provided you with exceptional service and/or outstanding quality of products then a tip of $15 - $20 per person is adequate.

Church Organist or Church Musician - This fee is usually included in the rental fee for the church. You should check your paperwork and if this is not the case you should tip them between $25 - $40 per person.

Musicians - Live musicians do not expect to receive a tip but if you consider their performance at your reception to be exceptional and worthy of a tip then you should allow $20 - $25 per band member.

DJ - As with the musicians, if you consider the DJ’s performance to have made your wedding reception swing then a tip in the range of 15% - 20% of their fee is appropriate.

Photographers - Whilst most photographers do not expect a tip if you want to reward them for their good work on your wedding day then this should be between $20 - $30. Alternatively you can indicate your satisfaction with the photographer’s work by placing a large order for additional prints – they will always greatly appreciate that.

Additional Tipping Tips!

* Traditionally it is the Best Man's duty to take care of tips on your behalf on your actual wedding day. If they are unwilling or unable to accept this responsibility then nominate one person who you feel comfortable with and who is happy to handle this task. This person should be responsible for distributing the tips amongst your wedding suppliers. To make it easier for the nominated tip distributor you should label envelopes prior to the wedding day and pass them to the nominated person to keep safe and hand out at the relevant times throughout your wedding day. By labeling them you will ensure that the correct amount of tip goes to the correct supplier. Always provide the nominated tipper with a contingency fund envelope containing a bit of extra cash just in case you have forgotten someone important who you feel deserves a tip on your wedding day or you might decide to tip someone a bit extra on the actual day.

* A common question is who should the tip be presented to with regard to groups of wedding suppliers. The answer is to hand it to the head of the group. For example with a band the tip should be given to the band leader and with waiting staff it should be presented to the head waiter or maitre d' who will ensure that it is distributed evenly amongst the team.

* If any of the wedding service providers you are utilizing are friends or family then you should definitely ensure that you tip them generously!

* An important point to note is that if you are tipping the valets, coat check and restroom attendants and particularly the bartenders (who are notorious for putting out their own “tip jars”) agree with them and the venue manager that it is unacceptable for these members of staff to accept tips directly from your guests. A sign placed near each of these services that says “No Tipping Please” should be sufficient to deter your guests from offering tips and deter the staff from accepting them!

* You might want to consider tipping your wedding service providers prior to the wedding day in the hope that they will go the extra mile and ensure that everything is faultless on your wedding day.

* Inevitably during your wedding day your wedding suppliers will need to be fed and watered. You should expect to feed your photographers, videographers, DJ and musicians. They cannot provide you with a good service if they are running on empty! Caterers will usually ask you what provision you want to be made for these service providers during your wedding reception and will make some suggestions as to menus and seating arrangements. It is important prior to the wedding day to agree with the caterers and confirm to the individual service providers where they will eating on your wedding day. This will ensure that on the day there are no slip ups or confusion. You will also be expected to bear the costs of drinks for the abovementioned wedding suppliers on your wedding day.

* If after reading this information you are at still unsure about how much you should budget for tipping those wedding suppliers who will be expecting a tip for good service then it might be better to arrange a flat fee prior to the event.

I hope that this tipping guide helps you. Remember that the most important person on your wedding day is you so relax and enjoy your wedding planning. Whether you tip or not you are sure to have truly memorable day!

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Wedding Gifts: How Much Money Should A Mother Give To Her Children
Date: May 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Relationships & Traditions & Customs

You are more than welcome to send me your wedding related questions, I will always do my best to answer. Here is a recent question I received:

"Hi Emily, I appreciate reading all of your helpful tips. As a Mother of 5 children. this information will come in handy especially that my son was married last year and my daughter will be married next year.

The question that is looming in my mind is the appropriate gift that should be given to my children. Where I live money is the only gift that is given except in rare instances. So my question to you is what is a fair amount to give? In the case of my son I did what all groom's parents do, Rehearsal dinner etc. For my daughter we will be paying for the entire event except what the groom's parents traditionally pay for. Do I make a distinction based on that or not? Also how much would you recommend giving? I'm sort of stumped and need advice on that. Any suggestions?"

I gave the following advice:

Congratulations on your children's nuptials. I totally understand your predicament as you want to be equally fair to both your son and your daughter with regard to how much you give them as a wedding gift.

The first step is not to feel under pressure about this. I recommend that you examine your own financial state of affairs and determine what the maximum amount of money you can comfortably afford to give to each child is. Traditionally in the UK parents give their children wedding gifts of anything up to £5,000 (approximately $9,000). This is usually equivalent to the average cost of a honeymoon.

Without doubt you will be spending a lot more money on your daughter's wedding than you contributed towards your son's wedding. You should use your own judgement as to whether you should make a distinction between what you contribute to each of your children as a gift. Is your son likely to feel aggrieved that your daughter has garnered more financially through her wedding than he did when he got married? The last thing you want is for any family members to fall out over money.

If you think that in fairness your son should be given more money than your daughter then perhaps after deciding the amount you should speak to your daughter and explain why you intend to give your son a larger cash gift than she herself is to receive from you.

Good luck and remember to relax and enjoy your daughter's upcoming wedding!

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How To Buy Your Wedding Dress in the UK For as Little as £60!
Date: April 23, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Dresses & Industry News & Shopping

I love my wedding dress to bits and I can't imagine ever throwing it away. It would be like throwing away some of the memories, plus I daren't think about the cost!

Here in the UK I'm not surprised to hear that the average cost of a wedding gown is now £826, an increase of 32% from the price tag of £625 in the year 2000. I know for a fact that most brides can't afford a dress at this price, though this doesn't stop them taking out a loan to pay for all or part of their wedding. As the average cost of a wedding soars to £20,000 in the UK it just scares me the amount of debt newly weds commit to at the beginning of their married lives.

So with all this in mine wouldn't it be great if you could buy a wedding dress for under £100, in fact pick it up whilst doing your weekly supermarket shop!

No I'm not dreaming because I would like to report the launch of the new George Bridal Collection at ASDA supermarkets in the UK! I have written a lot in Wedaholic.com about saving money and try to offer as many tips as possible, because not surprisingly it is a major source of stress. So for the budget consious I would like to point out that buying a dress from a supermarket may not be such a bad idea when you consider the oppportunities you have to personalise it.

Much of the media focus has been on a 2 piece cream wedding dress, where the corset top is £25 and the line skirt is £40. Though the collection also includes a 100 per cent polyester ruched-front dress retailing for £60 with a netted skirt and a contemporary full-length gown. In addition you can buy another second full-length gown which is described as sleeker with thin straps around the top. The bias cut dress is 100 per cent silk.

Angela Spindler, George's managing director, said:

"You've heard of fairytale weddings. We think that most wedding dresses are being sold with a fairytale price tag."

I read online that Kay Davidson, a corporate designer and personal stylist, praised the styling of the two-piece dress.

"They have kept it simple to reduce the cost but it allows the bride to customise the dress easily by adding beading or lace."

I couldn't agree more, why not get a dressmaker to add some elegant embroidery!

In fact for as little as £35 you can buy an adult bridesmaid dress and even cheaper at £18 you can purchase dresses for 1 to 10 year old girls.

So there you have it will this be the start of all supermarkets offering affordable wedding dresses? I do hope so!

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The Autumn National Wedding Shows 2006 Preview
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Wedding Shop Review - Christine Daniels in Bracknell, Berkshire
Wedding Shop Review - David's Bridal in Chattanooga, Tennessee


Long Island's First McWedding Reception
Date: February 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Reception

Newlyweds Corey Cutcheon and Doreen Brown might have set a new trend by hosting their wedding reception at their local McDonald's! They chose the Long Island fast-food outlet as the venue for their reception due to budget constraints and lack of availability of other reception venues. For the grand total of $250 the couple fed and watered their 50 guests; that is quite a saving on more traditional wedding reception catering costs! Read more here.

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New Approach to Wedding Spending in the UK
Date: February 09, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting

With Valentines's Day just a few days away there are sure to be many men pooping the question. This time it seems that more and more couples in the UK will be taking a more realistic approach to how much they want to spend on their wedding.

Over half of those questioned for a survey by Halifax Personal Loans believe that £10,000 or less is a more appropriate figure to spend.

In fact we may be seeing a plateau when it comes to spending, couples just can't afford to spend money they haven't got.

This survey by Halifax Personal Loans makes interesting reading and maybe a more conservative approach is the new trend in the UK.

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Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself?
Date: January 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Celebrity Weddings & Music & Dance & Unique Ideas

It is becoming an increasingly common view from couples planning their own wedding on a budget that one of the main moneysaving options is to opt for DIY music rather than hiring a band or wedding DJ. More and more budget conscious brides and grooms are cutting costs of expensive weddings by forgoing the traditional wedding DJ and master of ceremonies, and instead using an Apple iPod. Could this new digital technology make wedding DJs obsolete?

A lot of wedding DJ's really help to create an atmosphere and do offer you the benefit of their many years experience of wedding entertainment. However a lot of couples’ confidence in wedding DJs is waning nowadays as DJs are prone to sitting at a laptop pushing a few buttons and get paid vast amounts of money for doing so. Most couples rightly believe that they could do exactly the same thing themselves and save money.

However, it is not just budget-conscious couples who are opting for iPod music at their weddings, rock star Alanis Morissette, who is engaged to actor Ryan Reynolds, has said during recent interviews that she is interested in using an iPod at her wedding which is due to take place this year. She is amongst a growing number of couples making personal music players a central part of their wedding day.

The way it is done is for the couple to make a playlist of music they would like to hear at their wedding reception and then download it to the iPod. The iPod can then be connected to a PA system. A sound system will need to be rented or borrowed including speakers, amplifiers, cables and a microphone. These sound systems are inexpensive to rent comparative to the cost of hiring a DJ or live band. If you don't own an iPod or know of anyone with one an MP3 DJ program on your laptop can work just as well.

Advantages of using an iPod for your wedding music entertainment:

♫ As mentioned you will be saving money. DJs charge an average of £500 per wedding and a live band can cost up to double this amount. If you already own an iPod then your only cost will be hiring a PA system to play the iPod through. If you don’t already own an iPod or laptop you can spend the money you budgeted for a DJ on treating yourself to a new one.

♫ By being in complete control of the musical entertainment at your wedding reception this allows you to put your own personal stamp on the event. You can choose every song that is played and express yourselves through your choice of music.

♫ As a couple you might well have different taste in music. By using an iPod you can both download your preferred songs so that you can get greater variety than might possibly be available through a DJ.

♫ Choosing to select the music yourself will allow you to control the pace of the evening. Sometimes wedding DJs can make the event seem staged and not so relaxing. You can select different playlists to alter the mood of the evening.

♫ Organising the wedding music yourself is an exciting and innovative idea. By using an iPod you can set a trend and bring a uniqueness to your wedding. Your guests will be sure to be impressed by the novelty of a wedding without a DJ.


Things to consider when using an iPod:

♫ An iPod sound when amplified over large sound systems is usually fine but it is important for you to have a practice session beforehand. If you are renting the sound system equipment ensure that you rent it prior to the wedding date so that you can pre proof the audio setup. This is even more important if you are having your wedding reception outdoors.

♫ Using an iPod can be a money-saving idea as long as you are organised and have some committed friends to help. You will need to arrange who will set up and dismantle the sound system on the wedding day. You will also need to nominate someone to be in charge of the music that can change songs in the event something is not working.

♫ To ensure that the sound system runs smoothly and to keep an eye on the playlist you could perhaps ask a musical or technical whiz amongst your friends, family or wedding attendants to be the unofficial music-watcher. Sometimes there can be a couple of seconds pause between songs so it is important to have someone supervise.

♫ In order to keep the reception flowing smoothly you should consider nominating someone to make announcements and quickly switch the music to enhance various events at the reception (e.g. cutting of the cake, tossing of the bouquet/garter, the first dance, serving of the buffet etc.).

♫ Another point to note is that it will take a little bit of practice to switch between the iPod and a microphone when acting as MC and making announcements and speeches during the dancing. Ensure that whoever has offered to do this task on the wedding day has a practice in advance.

♫ Something to bear in mind is that the person you choose to operate the iPod and thus "DJ" your wedding reception will not be able to undertake any other responsibilities during your wedding. It is a big responsibility and one that might best be shared between a few of your wedding attendants, family members or friends to ease pressure on any one guest. You might well want to release your inner DJ/MC and take on these tasks yourself!

♫ Ensure that you offer your guests choice with your music playlists. There might also be special songs that you should ensure are downloaded prior to the wedding. Select appropriate music for the guests and respond to their requests. You should be prepared to deal with guest’s music requests. If you do not choose to take requests but would prefer to stick to a playlist then this can be left to run with minimum supervision.

♫ An important recommendation is to back up your playlists in case of a technical malfunction. Another idea is to have a backup iPod or laptop or other musical device whereby if the iPod fails to work for some reason (they have been known to freeze) on the actual day then you do have an altnerative source of music rather than reverting to Uncle Tommy playing tunes on the spoons to entertain your guests!

♫ Make sure that you leave the iPod in one place and do not move it around as this can increase the risk of it failing to work.

♫ If you are concerned with the visibility restrictions of an iPod then try a powerbook laptop as its screen is larger and it allows for more audio options.

♫ If you are not having dancing at your wedding event and simply want background music you can simply use an iPod and speakers without having to rent a larger sound system.

♫ If you are at all worried that if you eliminate the DJ the musical entertainment may not go so smoothly look at positive feedback on the internet. You can start to read up about another bride-to-be’s opinions on iPod music at weddings here.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
20 Essential Wedding DJ - Choosing the right DJ is crucial and my top tips should help you get it right.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.

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Don't Forget Your Guest's Own Budget
Date: November 28, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Guests & Industry News

It can be quite frightening when a wedding guest actually adds up how much they have spent to attend one wedding.

In the UK, credit card company Morgan Stanley have estimated that each guest spends nearly £300 on clothes, gifts, accommodation, travel, food and drink.

Research shows that on average each guest spends about £90 on gifts, £70 on the travel and accommodation, and £60 on the weeding outfit

Though all brides will be interested to know that you can expect close on £100 for your wedding present!

If you want bigger and better presents just invite those friends and relatives over 50, as they on average spend £558 on each ceremony they attend, a whooping 91% above the national average.

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Organising Double Weddings
Date: November 04, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Etiquette & Miscellaneous & Planning & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

What a memorable way to get married - to share your wedding ceremony and reception with someone you love alongside you and your fiancé at the altar. This is exactly what Emma Richards and her father Ron did. They wed in a joint ceremony in West Looes. After Ron escorted Emma up the aisle to her waiting groom Russell Wall he then awaited the arrival of his own bride MichGifford.

There cannot be a more virtuous thing to do than share your limelight as a bride with another bride. Don’t feel too honorable though because a deciding factor for you and your fiancé could well be the wedding costs being split with the other couple. This is the main bonus of a double wedding, the fact that the main wedding costs such as venue hire, church/venue flowers, transportation, catering and entertainment can be shared between the two couples.

Another couple who opted for a joint wedding as opposed to a more traditional wedding were Han Jing and Luo Jiangqian. They participated in a group wedding of 10 couples in Beijing, all of whom suffered from disabilities. By choosing a group wedding, and thanks to charitable donations from wedding suppliers, this couple benefited by being able to substantially cut their wedding costs.

It is becoming an increasingly popular idea nowadays, to share your wedding day with another couple. Whether it is a member of your family or your best friend there are plenty of positive aspects of getting married in this manner.

Advantages of having a double wedding:

♥ Sharing the financial burden with another couple will halve your wedding costs.

♥ Sharing the organization of many aspects of the wedding ceremony and reception will reduce your pre-wedding stress. A burden shared is a burden halved!

♥ If it is a member of your family you are sharing your wedding day with then you will get a real family feeling to the day and a fun and memorable event for everyone, especially you.

♥ To share your wedding day jointly with a friend can add an especially meaningful aspect to your friendship.

♥ Guests who are related to/are friends with both couples will benefit as double wedding will not impose any extra financial burden on them – they will inevitably save money by attending one double wedding rather than two separate weddings (they will save on travel expenses, accommodation costs etc).

♥ Sometimes when you choose to have a wedding in a destination resort (e.g. Hawaii, St Lucia) it can be quite a lonely experience as your family and friends may not be able to afford to travel to the destination with you. However, by sharing your wedding day with a friend or family member you will be guaranteed to have at least one other couple to share your wedding celebration with. It is also possible that by having a joint destination wedding guests who know both couples are more likely to go to the expense of traveling out to witness the joint nuptials.

♥ You can also consider sharing the cost of the wedding shower/bachelor party between both couples. Nowadays the cost of these parties can easily escalate. To divide the cost and responsibility for organizing it between both couples and both bridal parties should decrease the cost whilst increasing the fun.

TIPS TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR DOUBLE WEDDING:

Wedding invitations – As double weddings are not as traditional as single weddings you will probably need to create your own wording for the wedding invitations. Custom-made invitations are easy to source on the internet or alternatively you might want to visit an invitations studio. Either way you must ensure that you choose an invitation style which can accommodate your additional wording.

Traditionally if the wedding involves two sisters the older sister’s name is listed first on the wedding invitation.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bloggs
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughters
Tiffany Rachel
to
Mr. John Humphrey Edwards
and
Britney Amber
to
Mr. Robert Randolph Rickman
on Saturday, the fourteenth of July
at two o'clock in the afternoon
Clarke Memorial Church,
St. Charles, Illinois

Additionally, if the double wedding is for a brother and sister regardless of their ages, the sister is listed first.

If the brides are not sisters then the following wording is suggested:

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bloggs
and
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughters
Tiffany Rachel Bloggs
to
Mr. John Humphrey Edwards
and
Jessica Talia Jones
to
Mr. Oliver Andrew Twist
on Saturday, the fourteenth of July
at two o'clock in the afternoon
Clarke Memorial Church,
St. Charles, Illinois

In the extraordinary event that two sisters are marrying two brothers then the suggested wording would be:

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bloggs
and
Mr. and Mrs. Tristan Edwards
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Tiffany Rachel Bloggs
to
Mr. John Humphrey Edwards
and
Britney Isla Bloggs
to
Mr. Andrew Charles Edwards
on Saturday, the fourteenth of July
at two o'clock in the afternoon
Clarke Memorial Church,
St. Charles, Illinois

If the bride and groom are sharing their day with either of their parents’ nuptials (as the Cornish family did in the article set out above) then the following wording is suggested:

Mr. Joe Bloggs
requests the honour of your presence
at his marriage to
Daphne Diana Cooper
and
the marriage of his daughter
Tiffany Rachel Bloggs
to
Mr. John Humphrey Edwards
on Saturday, the fourteenth of July
at two o'clock in the afternoon
Clarke Memorial Church,
St. Charles, Illinois

Quite often I have been asked by couples about advice for them when they are planning their wedding day and are intending to share it with their parents who are renewing their wedding vows. If this is the case then the following wording is suggested:
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bloggs
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Tiffany Rachel Bloggs
to
Mr. John Humphrey Edwards
on Saturday, the fourteenth of July
at two o'clock in the afternoon
Clarke Memorial Church,
St. Charles, Illinois
Following the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Bloggs
will renew their wedding vows
in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary


Ceremonial arrangements and logistics – A popular initial query with organization of a double wedding is “Who enters first?”. At first glance the logistics of a double wedding seem complicated. However, with efficient organization prior to the wedding ceremony everything will run just as smoothly as it would for a single-couple wedding.

♥ There are many different arrangements for a double wedding ceremony and I have set out below a few ideas and things to bear in mind:

♥ The processional and recessional order for a double wedding depends on both the relationship of the brides and their personal preferences. Traditionally the elder bride enters first and does everything else first as well. However, if both couples are agreeable there is no reason why you can’t re-shuffle and have the younger bride enter first and perform her vows first.

♥ You might find that the minister has the final word in deciding the ceremonial arrangements. He might have his own preferences regarding the ceremony program for a double wedding. Also, the minister will probably be more aware of the restrictions that the ceremonial venue will place on your double wedding (e.g. the size of the altar/stage where the wedding is taking place might restrict the positioning of couples or the aisle might not be wide enough for three people to walk abreast). You should also bear in mind that many ministers will not have performed double ceremonies as they are non-traditional, so they may not be able to lend you much insight into the organization of the ceremony itself.

♥ If the wedding venue has two main aisles then each bride and bridal party can use their own aisle for the processional and recessional. This works well as it seems to lend an air of separateness to each bride whilst still retaining the overall ambience of a double wedding ceremony.

♥ If there is just one aisle (which is the norm in most churches and is the usual set-up for most alternative wedding venues) then the two brides and bridal parties must share that aisle. There are two alternative programs for this scenario which I have set out below. For information purposes I have set this out as if the double wedding is taking place at a church but the same information applies for any wedding venue. Additionally, my example below is for a wedding where the two brides are unrelated:

♥ The brides and grooms each choose a side of the church. Both grooms will stand at the altar on either side. This means that the guests for each couple will sit on the corresponding side to where the groom stands at the altar.

♥ The Mother’s of the bride walk down the aisle and take a seat in the front row behind each of their sons.

♥ Ushers and groomsmen enter the church in pairs (one for each couple) and take their places at opposite sides of the altar.

♥ Bridesmaids then walk down the aisle in pairs (one for each couple) and take their places at opposite sides of the church, alongside the groomsmen.

♥ Flower girls and ringbearers enter the church and walk down the aisle in couples and take their places alongside the bridesmaids on each side of the altar.

♥ Maids/matrons of honour enter the church and walk down the aisle together, taking their places on either side of the altar.

♥ Finally, the elder bride walks down the aisle with her father, followed behind by the younger bride and her father. At the altar they each stand alongside their future husbands.

♥ Alternatively you can have the entire wedding party for the elder bride walking down the aisle in processional order and taking their places at the altar followed by the elder bride, and then the younger bride’s bridal party walk down the aisle followed by the younger bride.

If the brides are sisters:

♥ The elder bride walks down the aisle with her father, followed behind by the younger bride and a male relative. At the altar they each stand alongside their future husbands.

♥ Another option is for the father to escort the elder bride down the aisle and then return immediately back up the aisle (before the younger daughter’s bridal party make their way down the aisle) to escort her down the aisle too.

♥ Alternatively (if the aisle is wide enough) it is also acceptable (and a tear-jerking sight!) for the father to have one bride on each arm as he walks down the aisle.

♥ The logistics of how the brides and grooms with their best men stand at the altar will totally depend on how much room there is. This should be well rehearsed beforehand so that on the wedding day there is no jostling at the altar!

With regard to the seating arrangements for guests there are two options:

♥ The parents of the bride and groom and their guests for “Couple 1” sit on the side of the church corresponding with the side of the altar at which their son/daughter/relative/friend is standing at. For “Couple 2” the family and guests sits on the other side of the church.

♥ Alternatively, the parents of the bride can either sit together on the front pew or the younger bride’s parents can sit in the second pew and guests can follow suit. On the other side of the church the groom’s parents can do the same thing.

With regard to vows:

♥ The couples can either take their vows simultaneously, or the elder bride’s ceremony can be completed first followed by the younger bride’s. To satisfy legal requirements during a simultaneously-performed ceremony the ceremony elements (including the ring exchange) must be done separately. Traditionally the elder bride and her groom do this first, followed by the younger bride and her groom.

♥ It goes without saying that before the wedding day you should have a complete rehearsal so that you can check the timings, logistics of fathers walking two brides down the aisle, bridesmaids from both parties walking down the aisle together, seating arrangements for guests in the church etc.

Wedding reception – At your wedding reception or celebratory dinner, if you choose to have a formal receiving line, the order is the same as normal except that the parents of the elder bride should stand together and then the parents of the younger bride, alternating all the way down the line between the families.

♥ I would recommend that not only do you rehearse the wedding ceremony but you should certainly have a walk-through of the celebration at the reception venue with both couples so that you and the staff at the reception venue can plan the logistics for cake-cutting, speeches, first dance etc. Ensure that wedding suppliers including any DJ or band are aware that it is a double wedding which they are attending so that alterations and adjustments can be made ahead of time to their usual routines.

Communication between couples - You will need to ensure that you and the other bridal couple are well organized and can communicate openly and honestly with each other. The last thing you want in the run-up to your wedding day is disputes with another couple about certain aspects of the wedding plans, such as which colour flowers will be at the altar. I had a recent communication from a visitor to my website who was having problems with her mother and their conflicting views on colour schemes; they were having a joint wedding and her mother was insisting on having the colour theme for the entire wedding as pastels whereas her daughter wanted gold and blue colours to match her husband’s kilt. With a double wedding there is always going to have to be a certain amount of compromise between the couples organizing the event. The most important thing is to come to some sort of agreement before the wedding day – you don’t want clashes on your big day!

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How To Trim Wedding Costs
Date: November 04, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting

A Kansas couple planning their wedding have discovered many ways in which to save money with their wedding arrangements. Erin Heffel and Josh Keller have come up with money-saving tips including studying the art of flower arranging in order to organise their own wedding flowers and holding their wedding in the evening so that they don't have to pay enormous catering bills. For more of their budgeting tips take a look.

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Comparing The Foods You Can Have At A Wedding Breakfast Or A Buffet
Date: October 13, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Following on from my post about the financial implications of whether to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening, I would like to discuss the actual catering implications of each scenario.

Here are eight key points to bear in mind before you make your mind up on this important decision.

♥ To help you reach your decision you should determine what type of food you wish to be served at your reception. Will you have a wedding theme which might dictate or suggest specific food types?

♥ Do you favour a particular serving style (e.g. would you prefer to have staff serve your food whilst your guests remain seated or have them stand in line for a buffet?).

♥ A lot of brides feel that if guests are traveling great distances to their weddings that they deserve a sit-down meal. There is no rule which dictates that you must serve your guests a hot meal. The most important thing is that your guests do not go hungry! So long as you are providing them with food every 4 hours of the reception then there should be no complaints from your guests.

♥ Undoubtedly you will be inviting a variety of guests of varied ages to your wedding and with this broad gamut comes a variety of tastes. Choosing a reception style and menu choices which please everyone’s tastes is a daunting prospect. However if you choose to have a buffet the food can be simple yet tasteful and elegant without being costly and you can provide a wider variety of food choices for your guests than you could with a sit-down meal. Buffets can provide a more creative and fun presentation of the food, a larger variety of food options and you can be more relaxed with timing and the amounts which guests eat.

♥ Whether you have a wedding breakfast or an afternoon buffet it is a good idea to consider what type of food you will serve your guests in the evening. Most wedding venues will supply you with evening reception food packages including canapés, passed or stationary hors d'oeuvres or hot or cold finger foods. Light finger foods are a popular choice including chips and dips, fruit and vegetable platters, cheeses, and crackers or more substantial finger foods which are more filling such as meat and cheese trays, shrimp cocktails, sausage pastries, egg rolls or chicken wings.

♥ Ideas for desserts to be served in the evening can range from cheesecakes, tarts, tortes, cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, cobblers, biscotti, ice cream, sundaes and wedding cake.

♥ It is very important to remember if you are inviting guests to an evening reception only that you write “canapés/hors d’ouvres/finger foods served at evening reception” in the invitations so that they know what to expect. There is nothing worse than being a hungry guest at a wedding function!

♥ The time of your reception plays an important role in the type of menu that you are planning. Your guests will expect different types and amounts of food depending on the time of the day of your reception.

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Budgeting Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 12, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Are you in the process of deciding whether or not to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening. If so this is totally a matter of what suits both you and your fiancé’s taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The choices for wedding reception packages are abundant and sometimes making a decision on them can be overwhelming for you and your fiancé. There are both advantages and disadvantages for both choices.

Let me try to help you compare both options from a budget point of view. I will use my next two posts to compare the two from a "catering" and "timing" point of view.

Budget:

♥ Budget plays a large part in making this decision. If you have a limitless wedding budget (lucky you!) then you don’t have to factor cost into this decision but if you are on a tight budget I assure you that both types of reception can be done on a shoestring.

o Wedding Breakfast - The wedding breakfast is the more traditional option and allows for a more formal celebration. Guests are served hot, elegant dishes by waiting staff at the reception venue. Usually this is the most expensive option. However, if you choose to have a wedding breakfast you can cut back on costs by simply inviting a few select members of your family and close friends to the sit-down meal and then invite your other guests to an evening reception where hot and/or cold finger foods are served. The cost per head of the sit-down meal will be greatly reduced, therefore saving you money.

o Buffet - Many people cannot afford a lavish four-course sit-down dinner so you might prefer to invite all of your guests to an afternoon buffet and then serve hot and/or cold finger foods later in the evening. Buffets usually prove to be more laid back with free and easy seating and less formality than a traditional sit-down meal. There is a widespread belief that buffets are always a less expensive option. This can be the case depending on which menu choices you and your fiancé select but bear in mind that often there can be a lot of food leftover with buffets if the caterers have overestimated the amount of food which your guests will eat. This will mean that you and your fiancé will be paying for the excess if your guests do not feel very hungry! With a sit-down wedding breakfast it is easier for the catering staff to calculate accurately the exact cost per head for your wedding reception meal.

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Dealing With The Touchy Subject of "Money"!
Date: October 06, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Planning & Relationships & Stress

A few weeks ago a bride emailed me to say that as soon as she had announced the wedding date both families seemed keen to give input emotionally and fiancially towards it, which was welcomed with open arms. Her family insisted on covering the cost of the wedding reception and the dress as they are quite traditional in that respect. The grooms family also wanted to help cover the cost of the reception and asked to share the cost. Without meaning to be rude, the bride's parents turned down this offer as they had saved for it since she was born and graceously reminded the groom's parents that their help would be needed for many other aspects of the wedding.

This bride then went on to say that since, the groom's family have become increasingly distant from the wedding plans. They have tried to involve them in each new plan and ask advice but they seem to busy. She added that she had savings to pay for the wedding themselves but accepted her parents help because there are aspects of the wedding are now more than first estimated and consequently the funds don't seem to be stretching as far as they first thought.

Specificially this bride wanted advice on what help the groom's family can give as the wedding gets near and nearer. As outlined money has always been a difficult issue and they are not sure how to ask them without sounding as if they expect them to help fiancially as this is not the case. She understands that they may feel excluded and rejected from the wedding but this was not done spitefully. She would really love for them to get involved but doesn't want them to think it comes at a price which is completely untrue!

So I was asked what is the safest way to go about this issue without treading on any toes but making sure that the bride and groom have enough savings for the wedding of their dreams?

In my reply I started by saying I could sympathise with the difficult situation she and her fiance were in and continued my advice as follows:

It sounds like you enjoy a good relationship with your fiance's parents so do try to talk to them about the wedding. As with all dealings with future in-laws you must be sensitive to their feelings. From your e-mail it sounds like they have felt left out of the wedding arrangements so perhaps have opted to take a back-seat rather than have their offers of emotional and financial support turned down.

If your fiance's parents are financially able to contribute to the wedding then I am sure this will help them to feel included in the whole wedding planning process. Indeed during the months leading up to my own wedding, when I was making arrangements and delegating arrangements to my husband, his parents, my parents and other members of the bridal party, was really enjoyable for me. It would be a shame for this special time to be spoiled for you due to your worrying about your fiance's parents' lack of interest in the run-up to the wedding.

Is there any one aspect of the organisation of the wedding which you can delegate to the Groom's parents to both organise and contribute towards(e.g. organising and paying for flowers for the church/wedding venue and buttonholes/bouquets or the wedding transport)? These are just two examples of the costs which you are likely to incur which are traditional to the reception costs which your parents will be covering.

I would suggest also that you both make a concerted effort to include them in the details of the wedding reception. Despite the fact that they are not paying for this event I am sure that they will be very interested to know what to expect at the reception. For example, you could arrange for them to visit the wedding reception venue and show them around, describe menu plans to them or even, if its not treading on your own parent's toes, to ask for suggestions about music, table flowers, seating arrangements, wine choices etc. Just ensure that they feel included.

Does your fiance maintain a close relationship with his parents? If so, then perhaps it would be helpful to all parties concerned if he could discuss these issues with them and reassure them that they play an important and unique role in your wedding plans. Of course you don't want them to feel like they are being treated like a walking cheque book but on the other hand contributing financially might well help them to feel involved in your wedding. Another suggestion is that perhaps you and/or your fiance speak to his parents about making a contribution towards the honeymoon. That is a substantial cost which I am sure you could use some financial help with.

I understand that you don't want to alienate his parents and it is essential that they too feel included in your special day. Just as your parents have been waiting since you were a little girl for this day, so too have his parents been waiting to proudly stand by and see their son get married.

Good luck on your wedding day

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How Much Notice Should I Give A Wedding Venue?
Date: October 02, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Church Weddings & Destination Weddings & Planners & Planning & Venues

As a guide most venues require at least 6 months notice with deposits having to be paid immediately and then the balance 2 months before the wedding. However, it is not unusual for some wedding venues to take bookings up to a year in advance. If your preferred venue is popular you might have difficulty securing your desired dates. It is advisable to book as early as possible to ensure that your chosen venue is available for your wedding date.

There is less notice time required for weddings abroad such as Thailand, Bali or the Caribbean. There is usually only a one month advance booking period for these types of wedding destinations but obviously the earlier you book the better deals you will get and also the wider your choice of available dates will be.

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How To Easily Brainstorm Wedding Venue Ideas
Date: October 02, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Church Weddings & Planning & Reception & Venues

Choosing a wedding venue is a matter of what suits your taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The wedding venue is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day so consider very carefully what will make yours special.

My advice to you is that if you are unsure of what type of wedding venue suits both of your ideas then you should concentrate on deciding on an ideal location.

Before you start looking, you should brainstorm with your fiancé and draw up a budget, an estimated list of how many guests you would like to invite and decide whether there will be a daytime ceremony and afternoon and/or evening celebration.

The first place to start when deciding on a traditional wedding venue is to have a tour around your local area making a list of those venues which you like the look of and which look like they will suit your budget and your needs. Researching your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you will make, the first important decision being agreeing to marry your fiancé!

Have you attended any weddings recently which you thought were held in the ideal setting? If there are certain aspects of a wedding that you have attended and enjoyed greatly you can reproduce these to meet your own needs. You should ask your family, friends and acquaintances for recommendations and attend local bridal fairs and shows. These can provide you with a variety of venue choices and give you a chance to have a chat with staff members from the venue without having to enter into a formal relationship with them. Another idea is to check the internet for local wedding venues and go to their websites to have an initial look.

You should go with your fiancé or with your parents or friends on field trips to different types of wedding venue. By visiting different types of venue such as churches, hotels with outdoor facilities etc you will be able to come to an informed decision.

Perhaps you and your fiancé could reach a compromise whereby you have the marriage ceremony in a church and then the wedding reception could take place at an outdoor venue, such as in the grounds of a hotel, stately home, castle etc. Additional outdoor venues include a local beach, park (bear in mind because most beaches and parks are public property you may well need a permit or license), gardens or country club. If you contact local hotels and other licensed wedding venues in your chosen area they can usually let you visit on a day when a wedding is taking place so that you can witness yourself how your own wedding would look in their grounds, by the river, in a garden marquee, under their ornate gazebo etc. Only by visiting venues will you be able to visualise how your wedding will look. I have attended many outdoor weddings and I felt that being outdoors added an extra dimension to the whole wedding experience. For the bride and groom I think that outdoor weddings offer the opportunity to express yourselves in an unconfined atmosphere.

When you have drawn up a list of suitable venues either call or visit the facility and request a brochure specific to weddings which sets out what is offered and any exclusions, rules, regulations and options and also an estimate. You can then compare prices, arrangements and the range of services supplied. Some hotels offer a "package deal" with wedding venue, reception, toastmaster, wedding cake stand, florists and other services included. Decide whether you would prefer a full service wedding venue where they take care of every little detail regarding your ceremony and reception. Perhaps you would prefer one of the rental based venues where you simply rent the property, tables and chairs and then you will have to organise everything else from table linens, tableware, flatware and glassware through to catering, decoration and attendant staff. There are also rental based sites that have a working relationship with selected caterers and are familiar with other wedding service providers and vendors.

When you have short-listed a few venues, call and make appointments to visit the wedding venue. Most wedding venues need to be booked up to a minimum of one year in advance so if one of your choices of venue is hugely popular you should visit sooner rather than later. Most wedding venues and licensed venues can become booked very early due to the fact they can only accommodate one wedding a day. The earlier you book the greater the chance you have of obtaining your first choice of dates.

Initial questions to ask staff at your short-listed venues:-

♥ Do you have an in-house wedding coordinator?

♥ What are your rates for the different packages and what are the options available?

♥ Do you offer a wedding package and/or discounts for small or large wedding party, accommodation booked at the venue etc?

♥ What additional expenses may be charged?

♥ If you are intending to invite young children to your wedding are you looking for a venue which can provide an insured and bonded babysitting service?

♥ How much and by when will we need to put down a deposit to secure the venue for your chosen date?

♥ What is the latest time frame for making changes to your wedding plans?

♥ Will the venue provide you with a written contract? Will this include a 3 day cancellation clause?

Ensure that when you meet with the wedding planner at the venues you visit that you feel comfortable with them and feel able to be open and honest. If you feel that they are trying to force their opinions on you then I would anticipate that you are going to have communication problems with them in the important months leading up to your wedding day. Always carry a notepad and pen to write down important information and questions that may arise during your interview. Ask for a tour of the facility so that you can check their amenities. Usually if you will be providing accommodation at the venue you will be given the opportunity to have a look at the guest rooms and (if applicable) the bridal suite and/or bridal changing room. The staff at your wedding venue should have good attention to detail, should be willing and able to accommodate your wishes and above all else should be there to listen and tailor your wedding requirements around your budget and your vision of your perfect day.

Finally I would recommend that you relax and enjoy this period of your wedding planning. No matter what venue you ultimately decide on you and your fiancé will have a unique wedding day, the memories of which will stay with you forever.

Good luck and enjoy yourself!

Related Posts :
CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
Unique Planning Guide For Destination Weddings
Win A Luxury Scottish Wedding


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As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore.
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