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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

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 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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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


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!

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 Plan A Second Wedding
Wedding Crashers: The Movie, TV Show, Celebrities and How To Stop Them Ruining Your Day!
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas
Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding


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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Wedding Crashers: The Movie, TV Show, Celebrities and How To Stop Them Ruining Your Day!
Date: August 30, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Celebrity Gossip & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Civil Weddings & Funny & Guests & Miscellaneous & Planners & Planning & Reception & Stress & TV Shows & Unique Ideas & Venues

It seems celebrities think they have the right to crash weddings and get away with it. In fact Ashton Kutcher and his production company Katalyst Films, Inc have decided to create a reality show that crashes the weddings of unsuspecting couples. The new TV series based on the hit movie Wedding Crashers (see the trailer) will be shown in 2007 on the US network NBC. It will feature a whole host of actors, who will deliberately set out to confuse and amuse wedding guests on the most important day of their lives in each of the planned six hour long programs. Sadly Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, the stars of the movie Wedding Crashers will not feature in the show.

It might well become compulsive viewing, much like Kutcher’s celebrity practical joke show Punk’d on MTV, but really how funny is it to potentially ruin a bride’s wedding day just for the sake of a cheap joke! Reading the twenty or so comments at WeddingBee.com, I’m not surprised to learn that the majority of brides would be horrified if Kutcher turned up at their wedding. As TVSquad.com quite rightly points out, emotions are already high on a wedding day and the sight of a TV crew descending on your wedding could really set the fireworks off! The only saving grace is that the program doesn’t set out to embarrass the bride and groom, but instead has the actors entertaining the wedding guests with funny stunts and pranks at the ceremonies and receptions. It still sounds like a recipe for disaster to me but I admit I had to laugh when reading Cinematical’s take on this new program, speculating that Kutcher’s next reality TV show would be based on the movie Snakes on a Plane.

A little research shows that Ashton Kutcher won’t be the first celebrity to crash a wedding, others include:

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah has surprised a number of brides in Tulsa, Oklahoma (or should I say Oprahoma, as reported in the press!) by crashing their weddings back in June for footage that can be seen in a September episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah and her best friend Gayle King unexpectedly attended the weddings of Morgan and Bethany Francis and Ben and Heather Klein, one after the other.

Oprah may only spend 10 minutes at your wedding but she certainly makes them memorable by posing for pictures with the wedding party and mingling with your guests. Though, if there has been no tip off you are likely to spend all of this time in shock!

The new Mrs. Francis was reported to have said:

"I tried to compose myself, but there's no way you can do it when there's someone that famous in the room"

If Oprah does crash your wedding though, don’t expect an expensive gift, and certainly not something that is going to stretch her purse strings - disappointingly Morgan and Bethany were just given dishes from Dillards department store. I ask you, you would expect something a little better than that from Oprah wouldn’t you!

Finally, catch this exclusive video taken of a bride shortly after she had had her wedding crashed by Oprah!

Madonna

A few weeks ago Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie surprised British couple Imogen and Neil McCarthy and their 70 guests as they were enjoying their wedding reception at the 5 star Hotel De Russie in Rome. Madonna, in Rome as part of her Confessions Tour, was keen to congratulate the happy couple and wish them well.

The BBC state that the DJ Luca Lacovello, on noticing her, immediately played Madonna’s hit “Hung Up”. This went down like a lead balloon with the Queen of Pop as she didn’t want to draw attention away from the bride.

Bill Clinton

Back in 2001 US President Bill Clinton crashed a wedding in the grounds of Rudding Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Following a round of golf at the reception venue he noticed a newlywed couple and took the time out to wish them well and appear in a family photograph. The bride and groom were delighted to welcome this unannounced visitor to their wedding.

Which celebrity would you like to crash your wedding?

Check out the other celebrities that people would like to see attend their own wedding on this BBC survey The miscellaneous list includes celebrities such as Nelson Mandela, Lady Margaret Thatcher, James Brown, Imran Khan, Freddie Mercury, Sir Sean Connery, William Shatner, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino to name just a few.


How to recognize the 8 different types of Wedding Crasher

1. The uninvited stranger

The movie Wedding Crashers is based on two young womanizers, Jeremy played by Vince Vaughn and John played by Owen Wilson, who use weddings to date women. This is the most popular type of uninvited stranger you can get at a wedding. Their motto is “Life's a party - Now go out there and crash it!”. They like to take advantage of the free food and booze and use the romance in the air as a cunning way of chatting up women. Experienced wedding crashers such as these will have all the tricks up their sleeve, and from an entertainment point of view this is where a lot of the laughs in the film come from. You can even visit the movie site to get instant access to the ultimate Crasher Kit. This includes how to make culturally sensitive name tags, the book “How To Crash Weddings” by the master and original crasher Chazz Reingold, lessons on how to impress the kids and melt the moms by creating a balloon poodle and how to print your own hero photo of yourself as a adventurer, soldier or sport hero.

In fact if you really want to beat the wedding crasher at his own game you need to read “The Rules of Wedding Crashing” as an education and for amusement. Of the 115 rules, I have a few favorites that make me laugh - these include:

Rule 7: Blend in by standing out.
Rule 15: Fight the urge to tell the truth.
Rule 39: The way to a woman's bed is through the dance floor.
Rule 41: Never hit on the bride -- it's a one way ticket to the pavement
Rule 88: You're from out of town. ALWAYS.
Rule 92: Tell the bride's friends and family that you are family of the groom and vice-versa.

2. The invited guest that drinks heavily

This wedding crasher can easily be managed if you do your homework first. If you are using a wedding planner they can be responsible for keeping their eyes on any likely suspects. I recommend you give the planner a list of names that might fall into this category. If you don’t have a planner you should pass this task to a responsible guest, preferably a non-drinker who can act as the "drunk person supervisor". I have written more about this topic in an article called "Tips For Dealing With Drunk Driving Guests At Your Wedding".

3. The larger than life guest

This guest gets all the attention for all the wrong reasons. Again the planner, or a chosen guest, should be notified of any guests that are likely to cause havoc if they aren't controlled. Often the groom is hesitant to name any friends that may cause a disturbance, but this can be easily solved by reminding him of the trouble he will be in if his future wife is upset by a scene on the most important day of her life. Remember, the advice given is straightforward and simple but at the same time crucial if you want to ensure an uneventful wedding!

4. The extra guest an invited guest brings to the wedding

Why do some wedding guests bring a friend or date if their invitation clearly just says their own name? This can create so much stress on the day and is a very selfish thing to do. The bride and groom will have spent a long time planning the seating chart, and the addition of one extra seat can ruin the whole set up. Lets also not forget that no provision has been made for the extra cover and thus ultimately the married couple will have to pay more than they had planned.

5. An ex-lover

This is one of the worst kinds of wedding crasher. Their sole purpose is to disrupt the wedding in any way they can. They are looking for maximum attention and will stop at nothing to ruin the day. Quite simply you have to remove this type of crasher as quickly and as quietly as possible. In most circumstances brides and grooms will be aware of the likelihood of this happening and should advise the guests that they feel will be able to diffuse the situation. Sometimes ex lovers arrive at the ceremony unannounced and even though may quietly sit at the back, their presence is enough to cause considerable stress. A softly softly approach would be recommended in the first instance, so as to avoid a major outburst, especially if you are in a church. Obviously less diplomacy can be used during the reception and afterwards when matters aren’t so delicate.

6. The crasher from next door's wedding

Beware of wedding crashers from reception venues that are hosting more than one wedding at a time - this is often the case with large hotels. Your wedding may seem a lot more fun than the one next door but this doesn’t mean you want everyone to join in!

7. The curious crasher

This crasher is naturally curious and tends to appear at weddings taking place in hotel resorts close to public traffic. They simply see the fun going on and slip right up to the free bar! Often they will have been attending another formal function in the hotel and thus are dressed smartly and blend in with your guests.

8. The criminal crasher

This crasher has no interest in taking part in your wedding, they will be looking to take advantage of you and your guests. Many married couples like to display their wedding gifts in an open and public manner. This tradition is ok as long as it is only accessible to guests and can be easily monitored. Ideally you only want to allow your guests to place the gifts in one designated area in a secure place.


Tips for spotting a Wedding Crasher

Even if a wedding crasher isn’t causing any harm, there is no forgetting that they are eating and drinking food and drink laid on by you for your invited wedding guests. Therefore, if you cast your mind back to when you were budgeting for the wedding, you will remember wrestling over the numbers fully ware of the expense of inviting just one more guest. One extra guest can cost as much as $150 / £80 more - this is when it really brings home the fact that uninvited guests are definitely unwanted!

If you spot a crasher you should quietly ask them to leave, so that you don’t cause a scene. On most occasions this will work and you can quickly get on with the rest of your wedding. If you try to catch a wedding crasher out be prepared for the old chestnut, "don’t you remember me I’m the second cousin removed"!

In order to write these tips and help you spot a crasher before they cause trouble at your wedding I read the article which was called "How To: Crash A Wedding" at AskMen.com, written for the sole purpose of giving advice to potential weding crashers!

1. Crashers like to arrive late

The most popular time for a person to crash your wedding is after the reception. They like to arrive late so that no one notices their entrance. Typically everyone is looking forward to the first dance and less attention is given to whether any uninvited guests have sneaked into the venue. Everyone has had a drink, the lights are low and this offers the perfect opportunity for the crasher to subtly emerge from the washroom and hit the dance floor or bar.

2. Crashers like to blend in by standing out

They often take a bullish approach to crashing a wedding by standing out in the open. They will slip into the reception line and generally offer a warm handshake to everyone. No one will recognize them and all will be too polite to ask who they are. The crasher will offer such pleasantries as "It's a great day, isn't it?" , revealing absolutely nothing about themselves. My recommendation is to call their bluff and start to ask some personal questions. This way you can reveal their true identify.

3. Crashers like to look the part

Crashers will typically make the effort to look smart, wearing something like a classic black suit to blend in with the rest of the wedding guests. The last thing they want to do is look over the top, after all their aim is to impress the ladies present.

4. Crashers like to do exactly what an invited wedding guest would do

The ultimate way to blend in is by dancing with the oldest women at the wedding, something only a real guest would do!

5. Crashers like to pretend to be a long lost relative

Understandably it can difficult to keep track of all the relatives at a wedding. A wedding crasher will pretend to be a long lost relative. They know the that brides and grooms can’t possibly keep track of all the distant relatives invited to the wedding. You have to laugh when AskMen.com suggest that pretending to be Great Uncle Terrence from Kalamazoo will do the trick or that phrases like "I'm the second cousin thrice removed on your uncle's side" will pull the wool over everyone's eyes!

6. Crashers like to carry gifts

An experienced crasher will carry a beautiful wedding present, often one they have picked up from the gift table! They rely on the fact that no one suspects someone who has been kind enough to bring a gift.

7. Crashers like to pretend to be working at your wedding

Are they pretending to be a member of staff? Remember, hired hotel staff often don’t know each other that well so it is very easy for the crasher to blend in. They will be quick to pick up a tray and pass themselves off as one of the caterers. The more daring will even try to pose as the reception manager, walking in with a clipboard and tie. You simply trying to call their bluff by asking their name may not be enough as they often turn the tables and ask for your name. It doesn’t just stop with the kitchen staff - the more adventurous crashers pretend to be part of the weddings band!

8. Crashers like to pretend they are Bob's friend!

Often crashers find it difficult pretending to be on the groom or brides side. The oldest trick in town is thus to say you’re a friend of Bob’s! With so many people at a wedding the numbers work in a crashers favor. Variations of this are Muhammad or Viji for an ethnic wedding.

9. Crashers never speak about themselves

Wedding crashers will comment on anything but themselves, so expect remarks about the food and service but nothing that gives away their real identity. They will never volunteer more information than they have to. If forced they will say they are an old friend of the groom’s or used to date the bride’s best friend. You may find them excusing themselves or changing the topic of conversation if you ask too many awkward questions.

Remember, as long as there are parties there will be party crashers – and this is exactly the same with weddings!

Watch out!

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Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas
Date: August 23, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Candles & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Civil Weddings & Music & Dance & Reception & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

Choosing specific wedding songs is just as important to the success of your wedding and reception as having the right musicians and singers. Because you have an attentive audience enjoying your special day, be sure to pick wedding songs that are both personally meaningful and a pleasure for your guests.

Here I reveal five tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.

1. Talk to the officiant :

If your wedding is taking place in a church or synagogue, you will want to check with the minister or rabbi to see if there are any restrictions on the choice of wedding music used. In general, it is best to choose a song for the lighting of the Unity Candle that is relatively slow and traditional but has a deep personal meaning for the couple.

2. Receptions mean more freedom :

At the reception, you have full rein to choose what you like, but keep in mind those you would like to honor. For bride/father dance and groom/mother dance, choose wedding music that is from the parents' era as a tribute to them. Some families have songs that are special because of there connection with an annual vacation or family ritual; if so, include this music as well. So what if your wedding is in October and the family song is "Surfin' Safari"? Go ahead and play it, and invite your brothers and sisters onto the dance floor with you. It will be a moment talked about fondly for years to come.

3. Find something special for the parents :

Talk to members of both families and find out what special song the parents danced to at their own weddings, then make sure the DJ has these CDs or get the sheet music to your band a few months in advance so they will know the tunes perfectly at the reception. Nothing will touch your parents more at your wedding than hearing the wedding music from their own.

4. A friend's solo can be special :

If you have a talented friend, ask him or her to sing a wedding song at the ceremony or reception. A serenade by someone special adds a personal touch to the evening and will be a stand-out memory for you and your guests. If you and your new spouse are the ones with musical ability, think about singing for your guests. Beginning your new married life with a shared song will be an unforgettable experience.

5. Bypass trendy for meaningful :

The most important music of the evening at the reception, of course, is the wedding song that you and your groom will dance to for the first time as man and wife. This is the song that is "your song." Don't simply choose the most recent pop song on the charts or the song that everyone is using this year. Decide on a song that you can dance to, a song that is lovely, but above all a song that when you hear it ten years from now you will still remember why the lyrics were so potent on your wedding day and will stand the test of time.

Wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests, so be sure to put your own stamp on the day through your choice of music for both the wedding and the reception.

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.
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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Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding

Hi Everyone,

I received this question from a bride-to-be regarding how to handle divorced parents in the run up to and during your wedding:

My parents are divorced and although both of them seem happy that I am engaged to a wonderful man my Mum is hesitant about me getting married; I think because of the way that her marriage ended. I am also very worried about how my parents will behave on our wedding day. We haven't booked anything yet but I don't want to be worrying on the day about my parents hurting each other. It's not as if they can't stand being in the same room together but my Mum often gets hurt and is sensitive to what my Dad says. What can I do?


This was my reply:

It is totally understandable that your Mum is hesitant about your future marriage. With the statistic that in some US states 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce its enough to make anyone pessimistic about a marriage working.

Make it clear to your Mum that you are fully aware that the divorce rate is high but you are optimistic and believe that you are lucky enough to have found your soul mate. Explain to her how much you love your fiancé and how your relationship is different to her and your Dad’s. You should reassure your Mum that every marriage is different and not all marriages end like hers. Remind her that she had good years with your Dad and you were a product of that, which I am sure she would not change for anything!

Whilst the prospect of your marriage should be a happy one for your Mum, try to understand that it is bound to stir up bitter-sweet memories for her of her own wedding day. Your Mum will have been anticipating your wedding day since you were a little girl and I am sure that she wants it to be perfect for you.

Point out to your Mum that as you have lived through and experienced second-hand the demise of her marriage, it has given you the knowledge of pitfalls which can occur in a married relationship and how to deal with them.

Try not to let any of your Mum’s negative feelings towards marriage influence how you view your future nuptials. Remember that your relationship with your fiancé and indeed your wedding day are unique to you. Enjoy the wedding planning process - this should be the most fun part for you and your fiancé.

There are bound to be difficult situations for both you and your parents on your wedding day. It is only natural that you are worried during your pre-wedding planning stage about how your Mum and Dad will behave on your big day. You want your wedding day to be perfect without any embarrassing or awkward confrontations. You say that they are able to be in the same room together - well, that is a start!

I recommend that before you start organizing your wedding and booking venues, setting a date etc. that you sit down and talk with both of your parents. Preferably you should speak to them both together or, if this is not possible, separately. Whilst you should not have to remind them of what is and is not acceptable behavior for your wedding day, you should communicate your concerns about possible clashes between them.

Remind them that they just have to get on together for one day which is important to you. Inevitably your parents’ thoughts will drift to their own wedding day but you should remind them that your impending nuptials are a time for looking forward, not into the past! The best scenario you can hope for is that they put any bad feelings they have for each other aside and come together to support you on your wedding day. At the very least they should be able to be civil to one another and maintain a cool composure in front of your wedding guests. They may be divorced but they do have something major in common, namely you!

Discuss with them your hopes and expectations for your wedding day and what roles you wish them to play in it. The more detail you can give your parents the better, so that they know exactly what to expect on your wedding day. Ensure that your parents both understand the logistics of your wedding day. They should know when and where they will be expected to be during your ceremony and reception. Avoid confusion and let them know this information as far in advance as possible - this is crucial to the smooth running of your wedding day.

I am sure that as child of divorced parents you have had to suffer divided loyalties before, but during your pre-wedding planning just try to take into consideration both of your parents’ feelings. They will both want to feel equally important on your wedding day. Ask them to tell you their apprehensions about your wedding day and try to come up with solutions which accommodate both of their requirements.

From what you say, it sounds like your Mum is quite a sensitive person, perhaps more so when in the presence of your Dad. Let’s face it, her daughter’s wedding is going to be an emotional day for her anyway so do expect some tears from her! However, there are some precautions you can take to preserve her emotions and ensure that there are no full-blown family dramas between your parents on your wedding day. Here are my tips for dealing with possibly difficult aspects of your wedding day.

Seating divorced parents

It is understandable that a common concern for a bride whose parents are divorced is where they will sit during the ceremony and the wedding reception. Remember that there are no rules about divorced parents having to sit together at their daughter’s wedding.

During the wedding ceremony

If your parents are able to be civil to one another then seat them together in the front row. If you think that this might be awkward and that they would be more comfortable sitting apart then either seat them in the front row and separate them by seating other relatives in between them, or alternatively your Mum should sit in the front row and your Dad in the row behind her with his relatives.

Another solution is that you do away with having a groom and bride’s side of the ceremony venue and advise your guests that they can sit on either side. This would allow your parents to choose where they would like to sit and would eliminate any awkwardness about their decision not to sit together.

During the wedding reception

To avoid awkward moments and stilted conversation on your top table perhaps you should consider the following options for seating your parents at your wedding reception:

♥ A simple solution would be to try the following seating arrangement on the top table: you and your husband in the centre, your husband’s parents (I assume that they are still married as you have not mentioned anything to the contrary) on each side of you, your best man and bridesmaid next, and then your Mum and Dad at opposite ends of the table.

♥ Rather than having parents sit on the top table with you, you could have a “sweetheart table” which is a popular alternative to a top table (David and Victoria Beckham had one at their wedding!). You and your new husband sit at a table for two which can be situated anywhere in the reception venue, although traditionally it is placed in the middle of the room with the other tables of guests forming a circle around it. This means that you could be surrounded by your family and friends and would be free to get up and mingle with them without feeling guilty about neglecting those guests on the top table. You could choose who to seat your parents with at separate tables. They would probably enjoy the reception more being seated amongst their friends and family.

♥ If you decide not to have a top table at your reception then you should not bother to have your parents’ entrance into the reception announced by the MC. Your parents certainly won’t want the additional attention such an announcement might bring to their marital situation.

♥ Undoubtedly your parents will want to be seated in a place of honor at your wedding reception but you might prefer to have them seated at separate tables. You could have your wedding party (best man, maid of honor etc) seated with you at the top table and then your husband’s parents jointly and your Mum and Dad separately host their own table of wedding guests. Their allocated table could be made up of their family and close friends - this will make each of them feel special and is sure to encourage them to relax and enjoy your wedding reception.

Always make decisions about the seating for your ceremony and reception well in advance so that there is no confusion on your wedding day.

Receiving line

Wedding etiquette dictates that you can either have a receiving line or not – the choice is yours! The purpose of the receiving line is to allow you and your new husband to greet your guests. Traditionally the bride and groom’s parents, particularly those who have contributed financially towards the wedding, also join the line to welcome guests to the wedding reception. Many couples nowadays skip having a receiving line at their wedding and perhaps in your circumstances you would prefer to do this too.

If you do decide to have a receiving line at your wedding then you should not stand your parents together in the line - have other members of the bridal party in between them. Check out SuperWeddings.com for receiving line order and etiquette.

Photography

It is best to fully brief your photographer before the wedding day so that they are aware that your parents are divorced and they can treat the photo groupings sensitively. You should not try to hide your parent’s situation from the photographer - they will need to know how to arrange family photos.

Are your parents likely to refuse to be photographed together? To avoid embarrassing situations on the actual wedding day, sound them out about this so that you have advance warning if a family or group photo is unacceptable to both or either of them. It is important that decisions are made regarding the photos and notice is given to the photographer in advance.

I would imagine that you would love to have a photo of yourself in your stunning wedding dress flanked on either side by your parents. If this is the case, then speak to your parents in advance to check whether they are willing to smile sweetly for the camera for such a photo. Explain to them how important a photo of the three of you together would mean to you – a bit of emotional blackmail never fails to work!

Toasting

It is traditional for your Dad to make a speech and toast you and your new husband during the reception. The best advice I can give you to avoid any awkwardness is to speak to your Dad beforehand and ask him to choose his words very carefully. As your Mum is sensitive, and will be more so on your wedding day, remind your Dad to focus on the positives if he is mentioning his own marriage or your childhood in his speech. Nobody wants to hear about their divorce or recriminations or regrets about his own marriage. Weddings are upbeat optimistic occasions and everyone wants to celebrate your relationship not dwell on the fact that some marriages don’t work out! Alternatively if your Mum is concerned that she may not be represented in your Dad’s toast or she wants to express her own happiness at your wedding, then you could ask if she wants to make a toast of her own. The new modern trend with weddings is that you do not have to stick to traditional wedding etiquette. Increasing numbers of couples are allowing other members of the wedding party to make a toast – it adds a unique element to your wedding day.

Bridal Dances

Again, to avoid awkward situations during your wedding reception, decide in advance whether you want the MC or DJ to announce a “parents” dance. Make sure that you tell your parents ahead of time what you are planning to do. If you think the “parents” dance is likely to make your parents uncomfortable then eliminate it from your reception. You could ask for it to be announced as simply a “bridal party” dance and ask the best man, Maid of Honor or other attendants to partner each of your parents on the dance floor. Simply explain the situation to the MC or DJ ahead of time so that they can make the necessary adjustments to their usual wedding line up.

For great tips and advice on how to appease both your Mum, Dad and even yourself during your pre-wedding planning, read this article from the Wedding Gazette.

Surviving the pre-wedding stage when you are caught between divorced parents is the most difficult part. I have personally attended many weddings where divorced parents were involved and there have never been any clashes. Remember that your wedding day is a happy optimistic occasion and your parents’ conflicts should not blight your happiness.

Don’t assume that your wedding day will turn into a battle ground that you have to survive! Whilst it will inevitably be a challenge for you and your parents, you have all survived a divorce so planning your wedding day should be a walk in the park!

Remember it is your day, not theirs!

Thanks for your question and 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!

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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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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 Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
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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
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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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