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9 Ways To Break The News You Are Engaged
Date: October 06, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Engagement & Planning & Unique Ideas

Congratulations! Without a doubt, getting engaged is one of the most exciting moments of your life. You have decided that you want to spend the rest of your life with this person and overnight you have changed status from being simply a girlfriend/boyfriend to a fiancé! After the initial excitement (and perhaps shock) of being engaged has settled, you will inevitably want to share your fantastic news with those closest to you. If you are ready to share your news with your family, friends and the world at large, then here are a few tips on how best to spread the good news.

How to Break the News

When you are ready to share your engagement news with the world, you initially have to decide how you want to make your announcement. Here are your options:

♥ A personal announcement is always preferable if you live near the announcee. If possible, try to both be present when you make the announcement to family and friends; that way they can congratulate you both together!

♥ If logistically, you are unable to see the announcee in person, then a popular alternative is a personal phone call. This is the most personal way to break the news of your engagement to out-of-town family and friends.

♥ Sending e-mails is now an accepted method of making your engagement announcement. This is a quick and convenient way of sharing your news with all of your family and friends, particularly those who live in far flung corners of the world.

♥ Setting up a wedding website is popular as it enables you to share every detail of your proposal story with your friends and family all at once. These websites also allow you to swiftly communicate details about your upcoming wedding to all of your friends and family and even display your engagement photo on it. You can create a wedding website for free – have a look on the Internet. For example, www.TheKnot.com provides a great free wedding webpage with stylish designs and lots of helpful wedding planning tools.

♥ Some of you might find that writing a personal letter is the perfect way of announcing your engagement. Bear in mind that if you intend on writing letters to all of your family and friends, you might well end up with very sore hands! In certain circumstances where you want to share your engagement news with someone but would prefer not to speak to them in person (e.g. the family of your late spouse, a friend who is recently divorced, etc.), then a handwritten letter is wholly appropriate.

♥ Surprise your family with an announcement at a family dinner party.

♥ Alternatively, you might prefer to throw an engagement party that could be hosted by yourselves, by your parents or by friends. You can choose to either announce your engagement in the party invitations you send out or make a surprise announcement during the party. Engagement parties do not have to be formal, stuffy or expensive affairs – you could have a backyard barbeque or a drinks party at a local bar. A party is definitely a fun way to spread your engagement news, celebrate your newly engaged status and show off your engagement ring!

♥ Whilst mailing out formal announcement cards used to be the traditional way of notifying family and friends of your engagement, this is now becoming less popular. The reason for this is that nowadays, couples are realizing that by sending these cards, they run the risk of the recipient misinterpreting it as an invitation to their wedding. If guest lists are far from your mind at this stage of your initial wedding planning then err on the side of caution and do not send out formal engagement announcement notices. You can send out more details about the wedding later on when you have had a chance to decide who you would like to invite to your wedding.

♥ If you would like to announce your engagement to the general public, then you should consider a traditional newspaper announcement in your local paper.

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Win A Free E-Engagement Announcement For This Valentine’s Day From OurWeddingCast.com
Designer Diamond Engagement Rings at Whiteflash.com
The Engagement Season Has Begun!



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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

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

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

Sample Tip 1 :

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

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

Sample Tip 2 :

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

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

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

Sample Tip 3 :

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

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


A Bit Of Fun From The Knot - How To Create Your Inner Bride!
Date: April 08, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Funny & Hair & Beauty & Pets & Planning & Reviews & Site News & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

If you're in need of some light relief from wedding planning head over to The Knot and check out their "My Inner Bride" online wedding tool which allows you to create a wedding avatar of yourself.

Using their easy to use free wedding widget you can choose your own body, face shape, hairstyle, dress (you can mix and match necklines and skirts to create your perfect dress) and backdrop. They have some cute and cheeky accessories too for you to select from.

As you can see from my avatar I chose a pair of cute pooches as accessories over the more traditional bouquet! Once you've created your wedding icon you can save it as your "My Knot" profile image, send it to your friends, or embed it onto your own wedding website (so it's useful too!).

So come on, put down your wedding to-do list, let your imagination run wild and have a bit of fun!

Leave me a comment and a link to where I can find your avatar.

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Jennifer Hudson Says "I Do" To Having Her Dogs In Her Wedding Party!
Date: March 31, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Bridal Party & Celebrity Gossip & Celebrity Weddings & Etiquette & Family & Funny & Pets & Planning & Unique Ideas

As if further proof is needed that it's not just wacky dog lovers who are indulging in the trend to include their pets in the most important day of their lives, Jennifer Hudson has jumped on the pet wagon too!

The Oscar- and Grammy-winning star has announced that she is planning on including her 3 dogs, Oscar, Grammy and Dreamgirl, in her upcoming wedding to Harvard Law grad and reality show star David Otunga.

An increasing number of modern couples, like Jennifer and David, are treating their pets as part of their family or their best friends so it is only right that their pet should be given a starring role in their wedding day. From personal experience I have found that some dogs at weddings turn out to be better behaved than the human wedding guests!

According to People.com Jennifer is already thinking of possible roles for her dogs.

"Oscar might be the ring bearer. We’ll send them down the aisle with a little tux or something, a little dress."

If you too are considering including a pet in your wedding check out my blog for unique tips on how to dress them, roles for pets in your wedding, important things to consider beforehand and ideas on how to ensure they don't steal the limelight from you on your wedding day for all the wrong reasons!

Have fun with your wedding planning!

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Pets At Weddings - Tips For Getting Your Dog, Cat or Even Horse Involved!


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The Scottish Wedding Show at The SECC, Glasgow This Weekend
Date: February 16, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Industry News & Planning & Shopping & Shows & Unique Ideas

If you are in, or near, Glasgow this weekend I highly recommend you take the time to visit the Scottish Wedding Show. The show runs from 21st to 22nd February at the SECC.

Highlights of the weekend show will include:

♥ Catwalk shows showcasing a dazzling array of wedding dresses, from top designers who create gowns for the stars to high street fashion brands, covering all budgets and tastes.

♥ Outfits to kit out your Groom, Mother of the Bride, Bridesmaids and other attendants.

♥ Free make up sessions.

♥ Free wine and champagne tasting.

As well as this, over 300 of Scotland's leading wedding suppliers will be showcasing everything you need for your perfect wedding day including wedding gowns, accessories, cakes, stationery, entertainment, cosmetics, shoes, tiaras, hats, cars, favors, gift lists, caterers, venues - basically everything you need!!

Remember too that wedding shows are a great place to bag yourself a bargain as many wedding vendors exhibiting will offer discounts on their services if you book with them there and then.

For more information on exhibitors, take a look here.

I can thoroughly recommend this wedding show as I attended the last one in September 2008 at the SECC. It was really enjoyable, professionally laid out, with staff and wedding vendors who were cheerful and offered plenty of helpful advice to the couples attending.

You can book your tickets here
.
I’m going along myself at the weekend to have a look around and keep my eyes peeled for some unique ideas and wedding bargains which I can share with you all.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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

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

So were you one of them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ easy negotiating methods

♥ tactics for dealing with tricky wedding vendors

♥ solutions to every wedding dilemma I encountered

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

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

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

♥ “Must Ask” questions for wedding vendors;

♥ Creative Money-Saving Tips;

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

♥ Practical words of wisdom from real brides; and

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

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

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

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

Good luck with your wedding planning!

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The Engagement Season Has Begun!


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To Greet or Not To Greet? What You Need to Know About Wedding Receiving Lines
Date: January 24, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Etiquette & Extended Family & Family & Groom & Guests & Planning & Reception & Site News & Site Reviews & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

The purpose of a traditional receiving line is to allow the newlyweds, their parents and other members of the bridal party to personally welcome the guests to the wedding. With modern family dynamics now including divorced parents, ex-partners, etc it can make the logistics of who stands where in the receiving line complicated. Put this alongside the fact that receiving lines can be quite time-consuming, and some guests balk at having to stand in line waiting to greet the happy couple, and I suspect these are the reasons why many couples nowadays reject the option of having a receiving line at their wedding.

Personally, I had a receiving line at my wedding and I enjoyed greeting every guest, introducing them to our parents and attendants and thanking each of them for joining us (many of them had travelled large distances to attend our wedding). The alternative would have been to spend the whole evening at the wedding reception chasing down guests on the dance-floor or at the bar in a bid to guarantee that my husband and I personally welcomed each and every guest to our wedding! In this case the receiving line definitely seemed like the easier option for us!

So are receiving lines an out of date tradition and a waste of time, or are they an integral part of your wedding, enabling you to make each of your guests feel valued and welcome? To help you decide I recommend you take a look at this brilliant blog, Receiving Line 101, at ManoloForTheBrides.com. It discusses the advantages and etiquette of receiving lines at weddings. Take a look at the comments section too as there are plenty of great tips for alternative versions of receiving lines including ideas for greeting guests immediately after the ceremony and mingling with guests during the reception meal.

Whether you are hosting an intimate wedding where a receiving line with so few guests would seem redundant, or you simply dislike the idea of a receiving line at your wedding day, remember that you do not have to include every time honored tradition in your wedding day - just do whatever you and your fiancé feel comfortable with.

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


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

When you look at the following facts:

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

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

♥ most couples plan and fund their own weddings nowadays

it’s no wonder that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Youbuymywedding.com its aim is to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I

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

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


How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Space For The Children At Your Wedding

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


Initial Things To Consider

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

♥ Does your venue have useable outdoor space?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organizing Child Care Supervision For The Wedding

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

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


How To Find Suitable Child Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ What are the ages of their children?

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

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

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

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

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

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


How Many Child Carers Do You Need

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

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

♥ Age of children

♥ How many children

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

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

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

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

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

1:5 for children aged 2 to 3 years;

1:8 for children aged 3 to 8 years;

1:10 for children aged over 8 years.

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


At What Age Do Children Need Supervision?

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


Alternatives To Professional Child Carers

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

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

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

♥ attend your wedding at all,

♥ bring their children to your wedding, or

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

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


Cost Of Child Care

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

• 0-2 children $10/hr.

• 2-5 children $12/hr.

• 5-8 children $15/hr.

• 8 or more children $20/hr.


Things To Discuss With Your Child Carer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Booking Child Care

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


Timing Of Your Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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


Timing Of Child Care At Your Wedding

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

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

Your options when organizing child care are:

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearsal Dinner

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


How To Entertain Children During Your Wedding

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Ceremony

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

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


Tips For Preventing Meltdown During The Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• whether they can help organize the treasure hunt if necessary

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

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


Children’s Seating

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organizing A Children’s Table

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


Child-Friendly Centerpieces For The Tables At Your Reception

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Children’s Tabletop Safety At Your Wedding Reception

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

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

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


Setting Up A Children’s Table

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

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


Activities To Entertain Children At The Table During The Wedding Meal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a puzzle book

sticker sets

small story book

mini activity books and washable crayons

coloring books

crayons, pencils and paper

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

assorted puzzles and tabletop games

a small box of Lego

stuffed finger puppets

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

a jewelry or bead set

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Music And Dance For Children At Your Wedding Reception

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


Furniture and Decoration

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

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

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

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


Health And Safety In The Children’s Activity Room

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

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

♥ have socket covers on unused electrical sockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Activities For Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


Competitions

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

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

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

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

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

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


Prizes For Children

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

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

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


Art and Craft Activities

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

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

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

pot painting

origami

handbag making and decorating

mask or crown making and decorating

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


Other Activity Ideas

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

Comics and story books

Activity and puzzle books

Nail varnish painting (little girls love this!)

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Holiday Themed Activities For The Children

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

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


How To Set Up A Toddlers Area

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

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

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

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


How To Set Up A Baby Play Area

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

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


How To Set Up A Children’s Chill Out Zone

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Hire A Professional To Entertain The Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Tips For Hiring Children’s Entertainers For Your Wedding

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

three-legged race

a one-footed hop

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


Children’s Activity Equipment Costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests

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

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

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

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


Important Points To Remember When Organizing Children’s Activities

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

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

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

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


Children's Favors

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

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

a coloring book with a small box of crayons

small inexpensive toys and games

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

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

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


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

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

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


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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
Date: January 19, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Catering & Ceremonies & Children & Etiquette & Family & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Music & Dance & Pets & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas

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

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


Feeding Children During Your Wedding


Snacks

Be aware that whilst adults are able to sustain themselves with the a canape and a glass of champagne until your wedding meal begins, children get cranky and fussy if they are made to wait too long between meals. Not all parents will be organized enough on your wedding day to remember to bring a snack for their little ones. Here are a couple of ideas to help avoid children’s hunger pangs turning them from cute cherubs into raucous rebels whilst they wait for the food to be served at your wedding reception:

♥ Think about organizing individual bags of crackers, lightly sweetened cookies or small boxes of raisins to hand out to the children

♥ Put together a paper bag or box for each child to be handed out before the ceremony containing a toy, juice box and snack to keep them fed and entertained

♥ When choosing snacks to give to the children to keep them going, whilst I would advise you to avoid artificial sugary varieties (which will turn the children into devil worshippers) let’s be honest – the really fun looking great tasting snacks have sugar in them!

Top Tip: Wherever possible with the snacks and other catering for children on your wedding day try to avoid nuts as some children are allergic to them.

♥ The same goes for drinks - children will become agitated if they are dehydrated (especially at an outdoor wedding) so make sure there will be plenty of natural fruit juice and water available for them both prior to and during the reception.

So the children will be fed, watered and refreshed, their parents will be very grateful for your thoughtfulness and you will definitely appreciate the absence of whining children at your wedding!


Wedding Meal

When you start planning the menu for your wedding reception you need to consider what food you will provide for the children who will be attending. When it comes to feeding children at weddings you can’t expect them to be as enthusiastic about your menu choices of filet mignon and rare grilled tuna as the adult guests will be. Of course you can put these dishes in front of the children but are they really likely to eat it?

Whilst some children are more than happy to eat adult food this can:

♥ end up costing a fortune if your price per head for the wedding meal is $100; and

♥ does not cater for the picky eaters amongst the children.


Things To Consider When Choosing Wedding Food For Children

♥ A lot of hotels and other wedding reception sites charge per head for the wedding catering, whether the head is 4 or 40 years old. When you consider that many children prefer familiar child-friendly foods over expensive gourmet ones their meal may even go to waste. With the average price per head being in the region of $100 this can really add to your wedding expenses.

♥ A more sensible, not to mention, affordable option is to ask your caterer or reception venue whether they have a separate children’s menu available for your wedding. You should note that many caterers will not inform you of this unless you specifically ask about it.

♥ Most caterers or reception sites have children's menus which they will serve to children under 12 years of age and usually this is at a lower cost than the adult meals. This is great as the children will be thrilled to fill their tummies with familiar foods and you will be thrilled at the extra dollars left in your wedding budget!

♥ If the children’s meals they offer are extortionately priced and unsuitable discuss this with the catering manager. Whilst some rip-off venues might think that they are justified in charging you $100 per child for chicken nuggets and fries most venues will provide you with an affordable option if you are willing to negotiate. They are not going to want to lose the business you are bringing them, with your 100 wedding guests at $100 a head, over 10 children’s meals.


Child-friendly Meal Options

If the caterers or reception venue do not typically cater for children again discuss this with them. Ask them to provide a separate children’s menu featuring a couple of choices of child-friendly food. You want to ensure that the children are going to enjoy the wedding festivities without rumbling tummies. The best way to guarantee that they will not only eat the food which you put in front of them but also get excited about it is to stimulate them with some fun and tasty choices such as:

Chicken Tenders or Fingers

Mini hamburgers on fresh-baked rolls

Cheese Pizza

Macaroni and Cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Garnishes such as carrots and zucchini cut into cute smiley faces, cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks served with a dip

Cheese Quesadillas

Fish goujons

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches or Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters

Vegetable Crisps

Potato Wedges and dip

As with your adult guests, you will need to tally up the number of children that are likely to attend your reception and list their ages (as well as any special dietary requirements – e.g. coeliac, vegetarian, lactose intolerant) too so that the catering staff are able to calculate how many mouths they will be feeding with the children’s food.

Top Tip: Remember that unless you are sure that there are no nut allergies amongst your younger guests don’t include nuts in your menu choices.


Further Ideas To Make Life Easier When Catering For The Children At Your Wedding Reception


Buffet

If are planning a buffet style wedding for your guests you could organize children’s meals to be hand-delivered to tables so that parents do not have to navigate the lengthy buffet lines with small ones in tow.


Children’s Food Station

If you have a large number of children on your guest list, another option for a buffet style wedding reception is to set up a children's food station. You could create a design for the food station which compliments the overall look of your wedding reception and also clearly identifies it as a children's food station. Discuss the child-friendly food options with your catering manager. Children won’t expect a huge variety of buffet choices but a few different dishes from the list set out above should suffice. If you opt for this my advice is that you order slightly more food than you anticipate you will need – I guarantee that your older guests will be munching on the children’s food too!

If you have decided to seat the children at a table on their own and if you are deciding on their menu yourself, it might be easier to have their table set up with picnic food and hot items from the list set out above. All children will love this idea and if there are little ones being seated at the table arrange for a child carer to sit with them and supervise.


Picnic

If you having an outdoor BBQ for your wedding then you could arrange for children’s individual picnic boxes to be made up. To add to the picnic theme you could ask for some blankets to be set out on the grass where the children can eat together. Be aware though that the younger children might prefer to eat with their parents.


Sweet Treats

Whilst fruit and yogurt are great ways for children to finish everyday meals sometimes a special dessert is in order. Let’s be honest – how many children do you know who think of Fruit Cocktail Cups as the perfect party dessert?
To make your wedding an unforgettable mouth-watering experience for guests both young and old alike here are some delicious and fun ideas:


Cotton Candy

Consider renting a Cotton Candy or Candy Floss machine. The machines are supplied with all materials including sticks, tables and you even get a choice of candy colors (you could match up the color of the candy to your wedding theme – lilac, blue, yellow, green and the more popular pink!). The machines can be delivered to you, set up and operated on the day by an experienced maker or your can collect the machine, follow the instructions and set it up yourself (alternatively ask your venue staff very nicely if they could do it for you on the day, or ask if a member of the catering staff within your reception venue would operate it for a certain period or ask the babysitters if they would be willing to take on this role!). Rental prices start at $75 but you can actually buy your own machine from stores such as Target for $30 upwards.


Popcorn Machine

Another option is to rent a Popcorn machine. Included in the rental will be a heat lamp and heated cabinet to keep the popcorn hot and fresh, a popcorn scoop, cones for serving and of course the corn for popping. The popcorn can be supplied already popped in tubs or bags but popcorn freshly popped at your wedding reception will definitely taste a lot better. You can even order personalized popcorn cones with your initials or in a color to match your wedding theme etc.


Sno Cone Machine

If you are planning an outdoor wedding in a sunny climate then how about renting a Sno Cone or shaved ice machine. These are actually very easy to operate (I’ve done it myself so I assure you it is not too technical). You simply fill it up with ice and hey presto! The rental company will supply you with various sno cone flavors (again, you can choose syrup colors to incorporate the sno cones into your wedding color scheme!), and the cups/cones and spoons for serving.

Any of these machines would provide your younger guests with a tasty treat to keep them going either during the reception or beforehand when everyone is milling around outside before the reception starts.

Top Tip: Don’t forget to seek permission from your wedding reception venue staff that they are agreeable to you renting these machines and using them on their premises. They might even offer staff to oversee their usage.


Children’s Cocktail Bar

If you are planning on serving cocktails at your wedding reception to the adults make sure that the children don’t miss out on the fun by organizing for children’s cocktails to be served. The cocktails should be non-alcoholic (obviously!) and can be made using the same base drinks that you find in standard cocktails, such as coconut cream, lemon barley, peppermint cordial, grenadine and ginger ale as well as using the healthier option of freshly squeezed juices. The drinks can be served in light-up cocktail glasses (these cost approximately $3 each) or other perspex cocktail glasses (these can be bought very inexpensively if your venue cannot provide them) and jazzed up with pieces of fruit and outlandish decorations such as glowing ice cubes, animal shaped stirrers, foil parasols and glitter sticks. Speak to the bar staff at your wedding venue about whether they are able to create these drinks for the children or, even better, if your budget and venue allow it ask them to set up a glitzy children’s cocktail bar for your wedding reception. What better way to make children feel grown up and welcome at your wedding reception!


Chocolate Fountain

As I mentioned in my previous blog chocolate fountains are an extremely popular fun feature at weddings. They are also a great way of keeping the children (and adults) entertained and get them mingling whilst they wait at the venue for the photos to be taken and/or the festivities to begin.

Top Tip: If you are renting a chocolate fountain make sure that it is placed somewhere sturdy, secure and child-friendly. I recommend if children are being allowed to help themselves to the fountain that you have it attended by an adult (the rental company can provide a professional attendant if your catering staff are unable to take on this role). This is not only to ensure the fountain’s smooth operation and for the children’s safety but most importantly because left to their own devices the children are likely to transform your visually stunning fountain into an unsightly chocolaty mess in a very short period of time.


Dessert Buffet Table

Another way to give children a sweet treat is to set up a wedding dessert buffet table. You could fill it with every imaginable child-friendly dessert from profiteroles to cupcakes and cookies.

Alternatively why not set up a simple cookie table – children love cookies! Cookie tables are a long-standing wedding tradition in the USA originating from Ohio. A large table is covered with different cookies (usually cookies which have been baked using secret family recipes by family members in advance of the reception) and presented to guests at the wedding reception. If you are on a tight budget then, by arranging an assortment of mouthwatering home-made or even shop-bought cookies, you can make your wedding stand out whilst you are still managing to shave money off of your wedding costs.


Ice Cream Stand

It’s a well-known fact that ice-cream is rated as one of children’s favorite sweet treats, so how about setting up an ice cream stand for dessert. You could either rent a soft serve ice cream machine for $180 or ask your caterers to set up a refrigerated stand with tubs of ice cream favorites like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or butter pecan. For the complete ice-cream extravaganza remember you will also need to set out bowls of toppings such as:

Nuts (whole, chopped or flaked)

Fresh and dried fruit

Chocolate (strands, flakes, buttons and chocolate chips)

Fudge pieces

Shredded coconut

Mini marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles

Whipped cream

Chocolate dipped fruit

Sauces including favorites chocolate, maple syrup, caramel, strawberry, hot fudge and butterscotch


Self-Service Candy Bar

We’ve all heard the saying “like a kid in a candy shop” which means to be happy and excited about the things around you and to react to them in a way which is silly and not controlled. That is precisely the reaction you are likely to get if you set up a candy bar at your wedding reception from the children and their older counterparts alike! Self-service candy bars are a sweet and stylish way to celebrate your nuptials.


Tips For Setting Up A Candy Bar

♥ When selecting candies for the candy bar make sure that you choose a few popular children’s and adult’s varieties. Ideally you should include a selection of candies, from inexpensive popular items such as jelly beans and fudge, to the more expensive name brands such as Fannie May Pixies, Dylan’s Vanilla Clodhoppers and Godiva Truffles.

♥ Remember that if it is the children you are looking to enthrall with the candy buffet you don’t have to buy expensive chocolates and stylish candies – they love jelly sweets, lollipops, liquorice wheels and toffees as well as the ubiquitous candy bars such as 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth etc.

♥ Other choices for the candy bar could include:

milk, white and dark chocolates and truffles

M & Ms

yogurt or chocolate covered pretzels

mints

gummy bears and worms

sugared almonds

liquorice and candy sticks

toffees

bon bons

lovehearts

yogurt or chocolate covered raisins

various Jelly Belly flavors

♥ A cute idea is to incorporate your wedding color theme into the candies you choose for the table, e.g. you could use all white candies or all pink. The children won’t appreciate the trouble you have gone to but the adults will!

♥ Filling jars of candy for the candy buffer takes a lot of candy which can be expensive. You will probably be better off buying candy by the bag in bulk at Costco, other wholesalers or any large grocery store. Also, try Economycandy.com who sell both traditional and vintage candy, as well as high end chocolates. Items can be purchased from their website in bulk or by the pound. This is a great place to get you started - take a look at their website to get an idea of the cost and availability of candies.

♥ How much your candy spread will cost depends greatly on how big a selection you want to offer and also what types of candy you intend on buying. Obviously a jar of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate candy squares is going to be more expensive than a jar of malt balls or M & M’s.

♥ To give the impression that you have more candy than you really do, use smaller bowls and jars but create platforms and place the bowls and jars at varying heights.

♥ To buy the display jars, candy bowls and scoops check out stores such as Target who sell them inexpensively.

♥ If you wanted to purchase ready-made buckets of candy rather than putting your own selection together Dylan's Candy Bar have them available in varying sizes, but be warned they are a bit pricey, with prices starting at $79.

♥ For inspiration and ideas on how to set up your candy bar take a look at these images of other brides’ candy buffets from TheKnot.com.

♥ Stack cellophane bags, (these can be purchased in florist supply shops) paper bags, clear Chinese take-out boxes, small boxes or paper cones (very inexpensive and easy to make yourself) alongside the candy treats so that the children can help themselves.

Top Tip: Whilst children will not be too bothered about whether or not the candy receptacle bears a custom label or printed tag with your names, wedding date or logo on it perhaps your older guests will appreciate this cute touch.

♥ Don’t forget to place metal or plastic scoops so that the children and other guests can scoop up their favorite candies and not be tempted to stick their hands in the jars (for hygiene reasons obviously!)


Advantages Of Having A Candy Bar

♥ Even if you spend $300 on setting up the candy buffet it will still work out much less expensive than a dessert buffet catered by the venue would have cost you.

♥ Not only is a candy bar fun for the children at your wedding to help themselves to and nibble on but it can also serve as both dessert and party favors so you don’t need to go to any further trouble or expense to organize wedding favors – the children and guests can choose their own tasty favors!


Sweet Treats Which Get The Children Involved

Here are some more tasty and entertaining ideas which are sure to add a fun element for children at your wedding reception:


Toffee Apple Decorating

If you are throwing an autumn wedding ask your caterers to set up a table with freshly made caramel apples. Invite children to decorate them by dipping them into chopped nuts, sprinkles, mini M&M's and other fun toppings.


Cookie or Cupcake Decorating

Another option for an activity is to have your younger wedding guests decorate their own cookies or cupcakes.

How To Set This Up


Remember that the key to making any activity involving children a success is in the advance preparation, so here are some tips on how to set this up at your wedding reception:

♥ Purchase pre-baked sugar cookies, plain biscuits or cupcakes, make them yourself (check out cupcake recipes here) or arrange to have them made in advance of your wedding day.

♥ You could choose traditional round cookies or go for a more wedding-themed shape such as hearts, flower shapes etc.

♥ If you are buying the cookies or cupcakes yourself I suggest you check out your local grocery store, Costco, or other wholesale store where you can buy the items in bulk very inexpensively.

♥ Allow for a couple of cookies or cupcakes per child, plus some extras for mishaps and taste testing by your adult guests!


Decorating Area Set Up

♥ If your venue have no separate children’s room available for your wedding day you could ask them to set up a table in an unobtrusive position in the main function room for the children to decorate their cookies and cupcakes on.

Top Tip: Enlist the help of a child carer or sitters to supervise this activity.

♥ If you do have a children’s room for use during your wedding at your venue, again ask the venue staff to set up a table with chairs suitable for the children.

♥ Ensure that the table is going to be covered with a washable or disposable tablecloth.


Decorating Essentials

♥ Your local grocery store or craft store will have a variety of items that you can purchase for the children to use for decorating. Set out an assortment of items for the children to decorate the cookies or cupcakes with. Encourage their creativity by including items from the selection below:

sprinkles

M&Ms

chopped nuts

chocolate chips

licorice whips

mini-marshmallows

peppermint candies

colored sugar and sanding sugar

jelly beans

chopped or shaved (with a vegetable peeler) light, dark or white chocolate

cookie or graham cracker crumbs

crushed peanut brittle

gumdrops

gummy bears and gummy worms

sifted cocoa powder

fresh fruits

edible fresh flowers

candied flower petals

colored dots

sugar strands

melted chocolate

nonpareils and silver balls

coconut flakes

Plastic stencils with small designs can also be used (sift powdered sugar or cocoa powder over stencil openings and remove stencil carefully).

FooDoodler Food Coloring Markers – These fun pens are filled with non-toxic, edible food inks and are perfect for adding decorative details.

♥ Don’t forget the frosting – this is crucial for cupcakes! Offer the children frosting in bright colors (to match your wedding color theme perhaps) such as hot pink, blue or purple. Children love the outrageousness of bright, boisterous and fanciful colors.

♥ You could offer them bowls of icing (icing sugar and water) with different food coloring added to it.

♥ An alternative way to offer the icing sugar or frosting to the children for decorating their cookies and cupcakes is to use zip-sealed plastic bags with a corner cut out like a pastry bag for piping. You won’t need pastry bag tips as cutting a tiny corner off the bag itself lets just enough icing and frosting flow - simply fill the bag with frosting, seal the top of it and let the children get creative with the frosting!

Handy Hint: Depending on the ages of your junior wedding guests it might be a good idea to have a sample cookie or cupcake already made so that they can see the end product.


Tips For Ensuring Cookie Decorating Activity Goes Smoothly

If you want to organize this entertainment for the children yourself in advance then you could prepare the toppings, put them into separate Tupperware bowls and organize for someone to set them up at the children’s table at your venue on the wedding day. Just remember that for children the fun is in the decorating, not the preparation, so have it all ready for them on the day if you are laying on this activity.

Handy Hint: Don’t expect this to entertain the children at your wedding for the whole event - whilst decorating a cupcake or cookie is sure to be a fun and tasty way to entertain them, the younger children’s attention span will last just long enough to decorate and eat their cookie or cupcake.

Once the children have decorated their cookie or cupcake if they want to wait for it to dry, place it on a napkin and write the child’s name on it so that there are no arguments later over which sweet treat belongs to which child.

You might want to also organize an area for drying the cookies on (if they last that long!). A great idea is to also provide:

napkins (matching your wedding colors)

wet wipes (for inevitable accidents)

waxed paper to sit the cookies on

take home boxes or bags for your guests for leftovers (if there are any left!)

There you go, it’s as easy as that - simply provide cupcakes, cookies, materials for decoration and let the children get creative!

For further tips on setting up a children’s cookie decorating table check out ehow.com.

Handy Hint: As with all ideas for entertaining children don’t forget to mention your plans to your caterer and staff at your venue so that they are aware of the proposed activity.


Give The Children Their Own Party

If you have your heart set on an amazing wedding venue which is totally impractical and unsuitable for children an alternative could be to throw a children’s party at a separate location (as close as possible to your wedding venue). Whilst some couples planning their wedding might think that this is an unnecessary cost and that, if this is the case, the parents should arrange their own child care, you should bear in mind:

♥ Do you really want your guests to attend your wedding? Chances are if they have any problems arranging child care they might not be able to attend.

♥ Decide whether you think it’s worth spending a few hundred dollars on child care and children’s activities to have happy relaxed guests at your wedding.

♥ If you are inviting out-of-town wedding guests is it really fair to ask them to go to the expense and trouble of traveling to your wedding and then have to organize their own child care?

Top Tip: Venues impose a limit on the number of guests you can invite due to fire regulations etc. Therefore your venue will count children as people as far as fire regulations go. If it is the case that your chosen venue has a small capacity limit then for every child you invite this means it is one less adult can be invited to attend your wedding. This is all the more reason to try and organize a separate children’s room or throw them a separate children’s party.

I have personal experience of organizing a children’s wedding party. A few years ago I helped a good friend of mine, who had a 5 year old son at the time that she was making her wedding arrangements, to organize a children’s wedding party hosted by her son.


Timing

The logistics of the day worked out perfectly. He, along with the other young guests, attended the wedding ceremony and posed for photos outside the reception venue. Once the meal was about to begin parents took their children to a function room which was on the next floor up at the hotel.


Entertainment

We equipped the room like a crèche with a bean bag area with some cuddly toys and books, a table and chairs with craft materials and board games, a half-size snooker table, velcro darts board, a plasma TV for DVD watching with cushions laid out in front of it and a smaller TV on one of the tables in the room with a Playstation games console set up on it. We decorated the room simply with some colored balloons and used snazzy plastic tablecloths on the tables which were designated for crafts and for meal time.


Catering

The catering arrangements my friend made were to order pizzas to be delivered to the room, she provided sodas and candies (bought in bulk from Costco) and when the main movie of the evening “Shrek 2” began at 8pm the hotel delivered bowls of fresh popcorn to the room for them to enjoy.


Child Care

My friend used two teenage babysitters (who she had used as sitters for her son on many previous occasions) to supervise the 9 children.


Room

Luckily the function room the hotel provided was actually an empty double bedroom so there were 2 bathrooms which was perfect – it meant that the sitters did not have to leave each other alone in the room with the children whilst the other attended to toilet duties with the children.


Invitations

My friend and her son sent wedding party invites to the children of the people who had been invited to the wedding. She mailed them on the same day as her wedding invitations and addressed them by name to the children of the families. She put a note in with the invitation for the parents with an explanation of the timeline for the day (the “Party Zone” (as her son named it) was available from 2pm (this was 30 minutes before the cocktail hour started so that parents could settle the young children before leaving for their own party) until 11pm.) When the movie ended just after 9.30pm parents with young children had pre-arranged for sitters to arrive and take their children to their rooms and put them down for the night.

Even though all children were invited to the whole day wedding event, a few parents had made arrangements to come to the ceremony on their own and have their children dropped off at the children’s party later on so that they could relax and enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception without having to watch out for their children.

Top Tip: As the hotel where my friend was hosting her wedding had other functions happening on the same day, for added security we made a log sheet so that parents had to sign their children in and out (even the 12 year old!) so that the sitters and parents knew where the children were at all times.


Costs

My friend’s costs for hosting the children’s wedding party were:

Invitations: Free (printed by my friend’s husband using BlueMountain.com

Room hire: (heavily discounted by the hotel because they were already paying a small fortune for their reception room hire and catering) $100

Catering costs: (including pizzas, candy, sodas – the popcorn was thrown in by the hotel for free!) $85

Child care: (two babysitters for 9 hours) $200

Snooker table, board games, Playstation, DVD’s: Free (all borrowed from generous friends)

Craft equipment: $35

Decorations: $20

Furniture: Free (Tables, chairs, televisions and DVD player were all loaned by the hotel free of charge, the bean bags were borrowed from another generous friend)

My friend’s thoughts after her wedding were that it was worth every single penny of the $440 the children’s party cost them, as she, her husband and their friends and family had all enjoyed the wedding day just as much as the children did. Comments from her guests with children were also very complimentary too. One guest said that when her two children received their own special invitation it made their day. At one stage during the wedding reception when my friend’s new husband had gone missing we guessed (correctly) that he was upstairs challenging his son to a ninja fight on the Playstation!!

The children’s party idea my friend came up with was born out of a selfish desire to have the wedding which she and her husband wanted, in the venue they had their hearts set on, whilst still caring that their own child did not miss out on any fun as well as the children of their wedding guests.


Out-Of-Town Guests With Children


Child Care

Whilst I know you are not obligated to cover child care costs for your guests, in my opinion if your out-of-town wedding guests have the expense of traveling to your wedding the least you can do is to provide them with some child care and organize fun activities for their children.

Even if you are not inviting children to your wedding, for out-of-towners whose children will travel with them (like a new baby who can't be left behind) at a minimum do try to arrange babysitting, even if you don't pay for it. They will feel much more comfortable with a child carer you know and trust than a stranger they themselves have chosen from a phone book.

If you are inviting children to your wedding but are planning on organizing an evening ceremony then, for out-of-town guests who want to make a holiday out of your wedding with their children, you should offer babysitter details to them.


Welcome Goody Bags For Out-Of-Town Children

For children traveling to your out-of-town wedding it’s a much appreciated gesture to treat them to a welcome gift bag for their arrival at their hotel room. This can be put together by you at a minimal cost. Ideas for items to fill their welcome goody bag are:

♥ Games (puzzles, magnetic games like battleships, checkers, a deck of UNO cards, game books, Top Trumps or a miniature Etch-a-Sketch)

♥ Stuffed animals (perfect for younger children)

♥ Coloring book, crayons or construction paper

♥ Travel Journal – This is a particularly cute idea if the children have traveled quite a distance to get to your wedding and it’s their first visit to the area. Provide a colorful notebook and pen to encourage older children to create their own travel diary or journal. This activity will not only keep the children busy in the hotel but it will also preserve their memories of your wedding for a lifetime – what a simple and fun idea.

♥ Disposable camera to take pictures to remind them of their trip and your wedding day

♥ Candy and sweet treats (preferably from a local company or something which is a local specialty (I included Scottish fudge in mine) but to be honest young children are not really bothered about the origins of their candy)

♥ Include essential snacks so that your guests don't have to pay the outrageous amounts the hotel charges every time their child wants a soda or snack from the mini bar. Add mini packets of chips, crackers, popcorn, trail mix, granola bars, candy, etc and bottled water, juice cartons and soda.

♥ For destination weddings in a sunny climate or a beach location you could customize the welcome bags for the children with some suntan lotion, inexpensive sunglasses, a bucket or pail and shovel, rake and mold set (you could even use the beach pails instead of bags for the welcome package).

If your out-of-town guests are staying on for a few days with their children then you could also include:

♥ Gift certificates to tasty local restaurants that are child-friendly.

♥ Area maps and entertainment guides – mark on the maps places of interest for children such as local parks, zoos, indoor activity centers (for wet days).

♥ Ask at your favorite local restaurant for some discount vouchers or 2-for-1 entree coupons.

♥ Ask at either your local Tourist Information Office or Chamber of Commerce if they have any brochures and discount coupons for local child-friendly attractions. Staff at the out-of-town guest’s hotel might be able to help you with this also.

♥ Even if you have already provided your guests with the details, it might be an idea to include an itinerary for the wedding day and a run-down of the children’s activities with times so that parents and their children are fully aware of the upcoming schedule for your wedding. Also, ensure they have detailed direction sheets on how to get to each relevant place (and transport details if necessary).


Rehearsal Dinner

Depending on how accommodating you want to be towards your out-of-town guests, and also whether it is within your budget, you could extend an invitation to them to attend your rehearsal dinner. I did this with my out-of-town wedding guests – it’s a really lovely gesture and I know that it was much appreciated by my guests with children. We also hosted a brunch the day after our wedding to catch up with them because we wanted to show our out-of-town guests how much we appreciated them having made the effort to travel hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of miles for our wedding. By including the out-of-town guests amongst other friends and family too at these extra events it meant that my husband and I got to spend a bit of extra time with them as our wedding reception literally flew by.


Organizing An Adult Only Wedding Without Arranging Child Care Yourself

This blog is not only relevant to couples who want to include children in their wedding plans, it is also useful for those of you who are organizing an adults only wedding. The practical ideas which I have presented in this blog can be used by you in assisting your wedding guests in organizing their own child care whilst your wedding takes place.

If you like the idea of hosting a strictly “adults only” evening wedding reception but don’t want the bother or cost of organizing child care or entertainment for the children of your guests then here are a couple of solutions:

♥ The simple solution is to provide your wedding guests with the contact details of a child carer or sitter local to the wedding venue and leave the arrangements up to them. If you are on a really tight budget don’t feel obligated to pay for child care on behalf of your wedding guests.

♥ You could suggest to wedding guests that a few of them group together and arrange for a hotel bedroom to be used as a children’s room for their children (this is assuming that your wedding reception is being held in or near a hotel or venue with accommodation). They could book a couple of qualified babysitters (depending on how many children there are), the hotel could arrange to have a TV and DVD player put in the room (if there is not one there already) and the children could be entertained at their own mini party! If you are aware of guests with children arranging their own sitters at the reception venue be sure to make it clear to them (remind them in the note you put in with the invitation - see How To Keep Parents Informed below) that even if their children are being entertained on the same premises as your reception, the same rules apply – no children during the evening entertainment!

♥ Another option which is sure to be appreciated by guests with children is to ask a friend with children who is local to the wedding venue if they would mind throwing a children’s party at their home. I’ve attended a wedding where the children came to the afternoon ceremony and afterwards those aged under 12 years old were taken by their parents and dropped off at the bride’s sister’s home where the children had a couple of babysitters and a fantastic fun pool party, rounded off with some pizza, games and a movie (the costs of which were shared by the parents of children attending the party). The reports I heard back from friends was that their children had a blast at the party and it meant that they were able to relax and enjoy the wedding reception without worrying about rushing back to check if the children were ok.

♥ Out-of-town wedding guests who are bringing their children with them to the ceremony, or who simply want their children to travel with them, will definitely appreciate any help that you can offer them with their childcare arrangements.


Wedding Invitations For Children

On your wedding invitations, make it quite clear to parents that their children are invited by including their individual names.

If you want to go the extra mile you could address a separate children’s wedding invitation. They, and their parents, will really appreciate your thoughtfulness

If you only want children to attend the wedding reception and not the ceremony then remember to make this clear on the invitation and vice versa for invites to the ceremony only and not the reception.


How To Keep Parents Informed

When you send out the wedding invitations I suggest you pop in an additional note for guests with children about what you are planning for the children at your wedding. In the same way you might provide wedding guests with a sheet with directions to your wedding venue, provide them with an itinerary of events which you have, or are intending to organize for the children. You could also add a note to your wedding website (if you are setting one up). Parents will really appreciate this effort.


Information To Put In The Note

I recommend you put in your note to parents anything which you think they should be made aware of prior to your wedding, such as:

♥ Make it clear in your note to parents that their children will be supervised and entertained in another location and give them details of where this is (e.g. function room at the reception venue, a nearby hotel etc).

♥ Let them know that their children will be cared for by a qualified adult.

Top Tip: Some parents might be hesitant about leaving their beloved child with someone who, to them, is effectively a stranger. Once you have finalized your child care arrangements include this information in the note and if parents want to contact the child carer, to either meet with them personally beforehand or simply check them out for themselves, provide this information.

♥ Let parents know if there are any dangers at, or near to, your wedding venue (such as a lake, trees which are off limits to little climbers or a busy road) so that they are aware of these in advance.

♥ If you are having pets attend your wedding let them know in advance (just in case some children are scared of, or allergic to, animals). This includes having your pet dog in the wedding party (it happens!), or if there will be animals at the wedding venue, or if you have arranged for doves or butterflies to be released at your wedding. I attended a wedding where one of the children (and an adult guest too!) totally freaked out when the butterflies were released and started flying and flapping around the guest's heads. Avoid your guests surprised screams by giving them advance warning of this so they can be prepared!

♥ If you are arranging any special events on your wedding day which require the children to bring something with them be sure to forewarn their parents, such as:

o bring their own teddy bears or cuddly toys for a tea party or picnic

o bring their own kites for flying

o bring casual clothes for bouncy castle play, trampolining etc. (sometimes children’s posh party clothes are not appropriate attire for doing star jumps on a trampoline!)

o bring their own choice of DVD, Xbox game, CD’s, board games etc. (if you are on a tight budget this also saves you having to buy these items)

Handy Hint: Younger children will settle easier in the crèche if they have their favorite toy with them (parents should be well aware of this but it does not hurt to remind them to bring a familiar toy for their little one)

♥ So that you can get the children’s entertainment organized as early as possible add a deadline to the note for parents so that they are aware that you need to know to book the requisite amount of supervisors, a big enough bouncy castle or organize enough craft materials etc.

♥ Just like adults children like to have something to look forward to. Rather than having them possibly dread yet another boring adult party why not keep them in the loop and let them know, via the note in with the invitation, which activities you have planned for them.

♥ Avoid being too specific about the children’s activities until you have made firm decisions and booked it up – simply state party games etc. to save disappointment in case Billy The Clown is unavailable on your choice of date.

♥ If you have arranged outdoor play activities where the children will be exposed to sunshine ask parents if their child is going to need to wear a protective hat or clothing. This would a good opportunity too to remind them to provide sunscreen for their child (some children with sensitive skin require a certain type of sunscreen).

♥ Do the children have any special requirements or anything which the child carers and caterers need to be aware of?

♥ If you are unable (or unwilling) to have a separate children’s menu you might want to mention to parents that the food for their children will be adult cuisine. This gives them the opportunity to make alternative arrangements if their child is a picky eater who might not appreciate fancy wedding food.

♥ Ask parents if they can provide you with any helpful hints for entertaining their little one. They know them best and will probably be able to offer you some great ideas for activities for the children that you might not have thought of yourself.

♥ If you would prefer the dance floor at your reception to be child free after a certain time then let parents know this in advance, rather than just announcing it on your wedding day (some children might be disappointed to be hauled off the dance floor on the night, whereas if they have had prior warning it should soften the blow!). In the same vain, if children are welcome on the dance floor at your wedding reception for the whole evening do let parents know.

♥ Let parents know if you are booking child carers and organizing entertainment for the children at your wedding ceremony and/or reception as this will help them make the decision of whether or not to bring their child to your wedding. Some parents have probably experienced a non-child friendly wedding where their child had a temper tantrum because they were so bored. Whilst I’m not saying you should convince every parent invited to your wedding to bring their child with them, I am saying at least provide them with enough information so that they can make an informed decision.


Timing Of Wedding Day Events

The more information you can provide parents invited to your wedding with, the more they can plan in advance for your wedding day and the more relaxed they will be on the day.

♥ Be sure to make them aware of your wedding day schedule once it is planned. The most important questions any parent at a wedding wants an answer to (apart from will there be a free bar!) are:

o what time will they and their children be fed?

o what are the timings of the wedding day, e.g. what is the ceremony start time, after the ceremony are photos being taken, if so, where?

o if you are having a band or DJ in the evening, what time is the music scheduled to start?

o what time will the children’s activities or entertainment be happening and what is the start and finish time that you anticipate child care will be provided for their child?

♥ By informing them in advance of the wedding day’s timings they will be able to work out if they have free time during the day, a break between festivities, to spend with their child (this is particularly helpful for breastfeeding mothers).

Your guests will really appreciate that even in the midst of planning your wedding you have gone to the effort of organizing activities and care for their children. Also they will take this as a clear indication of your desire to have them attend your wedding (which is what you want after all!).


As I’m sure you can gather from this blog I love it when couples welcome children to their wedding. I think it is one of the biggest family-oriented events, so it seems a shame to dismiss them from such a joyous occasion. Dealing with the unpredictability of children at weddings is simple - provide them with activities to keep them stimulated, entertained and happy.

If you were wavering about whether or not to invite children to your wedding before reading this blog I hope that my suggestions and tips have helped you reach a decision.

How far you take any of the ideas I have given in this blog is completely up to you. You can opt for setting up a corner of the reception room with a couple of cuddly toys and coloring materials or you can set up a whole children’s haven! Remember that planning a fun wedding for all age groups can be accomplished, even on a tight budget.

When planning a child-friendly wedding the same principles apply as those for any party planning - you want to make sure each and every one of your guests has a great time, regardless of their age!

For more information about planning a child-friendly wedding check out this article at TheKnot.com.

Good luck with your child-friendly wedding!


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

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part III 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 I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III


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Tune In To "Get Married" For The Newest Wedding Innovations And Trends
Date: November 02, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Etiquette & Industry News & Planners & Planning & Shows & TV Shows & Unique Ideas

Have you checked out Get Married yet? The interactive wedding website and television show has moved network to Lifetime TV and now also boasts host David Tutera, one of the nations premier event designers.

As I mentioned in my previous blog this show makes perfect viewing for those of you who are looking for some fresh and unique ideas for your wedding planning, have a question you need answering by a wedding expert or simply need wedding inspiration.

Get Married in on every weekday at 7:30am. What is great is that if you miss the show you can view all of the episodes at the Get Married website. For further details of upcoming features on their show check out their website at GetMarried.com.

Happy viewing!

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 Boost Your Wedding Budget – Invite Your Guests To Pay For Your Wedding!
Would You Let Your Husband And His Best Mates Plan Your Entire Wedding?
Unique Wedding Tips And A Chance To Win A $100,000 Dream Wedding
New Wedding Show To Debut On WE tv
Channel 4 Wedding Show - Your Chance To Have A Second Take!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of my personal favourites:

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

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

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Unique Planning Guide For Destination Weddings
Date: May 15, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Destination Weddings & Planning & Reviews & Sponsored Reviews & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Venues

This is a sponsored review.

Have you just about given up on the inclement weather or lack of suitable wedding venues with stunning vistas in your hometown? Perhaps you are looking for a wedding venue where the sun is more likely to shine. Maybe your vision of your dream wedding involves you standing on a golden beach or atop a cliff overlooking the ocean.

If so, then you should take a look at Islandbrides.com. This website is a fantastic resource for couples who are planning a destination beach wedding in the Caribbean. Islandbrides.com has everything you will need to plan your dream wedding in over 30 beach wedding destinations including:

Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cancun, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, St Barthelemy, St Eustatius, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Martin, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Destination Guide

The hardest part for couples planning their destination wedding will be choosing which country or island in the Caribbean suits them best. To help you in making this difficult decision Islandbrides.com provides you with a guide to each of the Caribbean destinations. This website is a free one-stop shop which will save you having to research all the different Caribbean destinations yourself. The time saving destination wedding guides provide you with country information, location maps, entry and marriage requirements, the lowdown on the unique and interesting wedding traditions and customs for each wedding destination and also wedding vendor directories to assist you with locating and contacting destination wedding planners, wedding venues, photographers, florists, bakeries and more.

The website is very easy to navigate with drop-down menus to enable you to effortlessly search for destinations, venues and vendors. It contains everything you need to know about getting married in each of the featured destinations.

Planning Tools and Wedding Website

Islandbrides.com also offers registered users free useful planning tools including a wedding budget calculator, an email reminder service to keep track of important dates and wedding planning tasks. As well as this they also provide a free wedding website builder to all members. Personal wedding websites are a great way of keeping your family and friends up-to-date with your destination wedding plans.

Beach Wedding Guide Forum

Undoubtedly if you are planning your own destination wedding in a tropical Caribbean paradise you will have a few questions which need answering, particularly as you will be committing to spending a large sum of money on this event. I think that many couples will find the Beach Wedding Guide Forum useful. This is where other couples post comments about how their destination wedding plans are going, share wedding planning ideas and experiences and offer advice to each other. You are sure to find some unique ideas for your own destination wedding within the forum.

Photo Gallery

If you like to stay clued up on the finer details of celebrity beach weddings or if you just enjoy having a snoop at other newlywed’s wedding photos then Islandbrides.com also has a photo gallery section where other members have posted their own destination wedding photos and stories.

Wedding Articles

A further advantage of Islandbrides.com is that it also features useful articles with tips and advice on planning beach and destination weddings. There are invaluable cost-saving ideas to keep your wedding budget low and creative suggestions which are sure to give your beach wedding an individual theme. There is a vast archive of articles with categories including 2007 wedding trends for beach weddings, how to entertain children at your beach wedding and (what I think should be the essential read for most beach wedding brides-to-be) how to avoid having your coiffed hair turn frizzy in the humidity of your beach destination!

If you are in two minds as to whether a destination wedding would suit you then I thoroughly recommend that you check out Islandbrides.com. It contains copious amounts of unique ideas, useful information and most importantly it is simple and free to sign up. In my opinion if you are contemplating hosting your wedding in an exotic location then Islandbrides.com is definitely worth a look.

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

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

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

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

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How To Announce A Belated Destination Wedding Reception
Date: March 26, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Destination Weddings & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Reception & Stationery

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding the appropriate wording for a destination wedding announcement:

“My son and his wife had a private destination wedding. I am getting ready to announce it in our hometown newspaper. They do not have a definite date for a reception - do I leave that off - or state that a reception date will be announced later? Please help.”

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your question.

If your son and daughter-in-law have not yet decided on a date, or the finer details of their wedding reception, then it is definitely advisable to leave this information out of the newspaper announcement. Wording for the newspaper announcement of your son’s wedding should be along the lines of:

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Jones
announce the marriage of their son
Michael Nicholas
to
Amber Frances Franklin
on Saturday, the ninth of April
at
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Hawaii

However, I must point out that I personally have experienced the curiosity of wondering whether friends who have jetted off to get hitched on their own intend on having a reception when they return. Most friends and family of newlyweds want an opportunity to celebrate their newlywed status together! Not only that, but have you or the newlyweds considered the subject of wedding gifts? Most close friends and family will want to celebrate the marriage by giving a gift, regardless of whether there was a wedding ceremony and reception involved.

If you give some indication to friends and family that a late wedding reception will be held in the not-too-distant future then this will ease their concerns over gift-giving and wanting to celebrate with the newlyweds. Whilst there is nothing wrong with adding additional wording to the newspaper announcement I think that a more personal way to let important people know that your son has been married and that they intend on hosting a wedding reception in the future is for you (or your son and daughter-in-law) to send personal announcements to their friends and family. You could include in it wording along the lines of:

“A wedding reception to honor the newlyweds will be held at a date and venue to be confirmed.”

If you at least know the venue of where the wedding reception is going to take place (e.g. your home or the newlyweds’ home) then you could add:

“A wedding reception to honor the newlyweds will be held at 52 Lawson Court, Newtown. Details of the date and time will follow soon.”

Announcements such as these are best mailed out to close friends and family within a few days of the wedding ceremony or as soon as possible after the event.

I hope that this helps. If you need any assistance with ideas for organizing a formal or informal wedding reception check out wedding forums such as forums.weddingsolutions.com and hitched.co.uk which have unique tips and advice from other destination bride and grooms. Also, the knot.com have fantastic ideas for organizing your own wedding reception after a destination wedding.

Good luck and congratulations to the newlyweds!

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Solving The Double Wedding Invitation And Gift Dilemma
Date: March 25, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Ceremonies & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Stationery & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding the protocol for double weddings:

“How do you word invitations for a double wedding? Do you have more than one invitation? One for the guests that are only coming for one party and one for both? Also, will guests feel that the have to bring a gift for both couples? How do we go about this so our guests do not feel that they have to bring a gift for the other couple?

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your question. In response to the first part of your question about whether you should share a wedding invitation with the other couple, the answer is definitely yes. If you are choosing to share your wedding day with another couple then sharing wording on a wedding invitation is inconsequential in comparison. By sharing a joint wedding invitation you will be ensuring that your wedding guests understand that they are being invited to a double wedding. As your wedding ceremony is taking place hand in hand with the other couple’s wedding ceremony your guests will understand why both couples’ names are on the wedding invitation.

Due to the fact that double weddings are not as popular as single ceremony weddings you are unlikely to find pre-printed standard wedding stationery conveying the double wedding invitation. However, you can choose a custom-made invitation to match your color theme and wedding style. These are easy to source on the internet or alternatively you might want to visit a wedding studio or local stationery store. The only limitation you will have when choosing your invitation is that it must have enough space to accommodate your additional wording for the double wedding.

With regard to wording for double wedding invitations please take a look at the sample wordings I have given in my previous post where I have listed a variety of contemporary wording options to cover most double wedding situations. However, as double weddings are not as traditional as single weddings, you should definitely feel free to create your own wording for the invitations, so long as the other bride and groom sharing your double wedding are in agreement with you and your fiancé! When choosing wording do remember to emphasize the ‘double’ nature of the wedding so that your guests are fully aware of the type of wedding they are being invited to. You don’t want to surprise them and have them thinking they are seeing double when they catch sight of two brides and grooms on your wedding day! This applies even more so if you do decide that you want to send separate wedding invitations to your own family and friends.

With regard to wedding gifts, it goes without saying that, unless your wedding guest is a friend or family member of both couples participating in the double wedding, that they need only buy a wedding gift for the couple that has invited them to the wedding. I know that the wedding invitation might well bear the names of both couples but your wedding guests will know that the invitation is coming from you (or your parents) to them.

As double weddings are not everyday occurrences the majority of your wedding guests will not necessarily know whether or not they are expected to bring a gift for the other couple. One way of getting the word out is to let your parents, wedding party, close relatives and friends spread the news for you. Even though this is certainly the easiest way to inform your guests that they need only buy a wedding gift for one couple, I don’t know if it is the safest way to ensure that all guests receive the same message. If you would prefer to make the matter of gift giving entirely unambiguous then the best way to do this is to deliver the message to your guests yourself and have the other couple sharing your wedding celebration do the same with their own wedding guests. Whilst it is wholly against wedding etiquette to mention gift-giving in the wedding invitation, you could add the information to your wedding website or communicate it by letter, email or over the phone. You could word it along the lines of:

“We are delighted that you will be joining Mike and I on our special day. If you were thinking of giving us a gift we wanted to let you know that we are registered at Macy’s and Crate and Barrel. Whilst Mike and I are excited to be sharing our double wedding day with Carol and Bob we wanted to let you know that you are not expected to bring them a wedding gift.”

Your guests will appreciate being given the heads up on this gift-giving dilemma and appreciate your honesty.

I hope that this helps with your double wedding planning. Check out my other post too for even more double wedding planning tips.

Good luck!

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

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

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

Invitations

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

Catering

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

Budget

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

Ask for help

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

Timings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wedding Tips That Make A Difference!
Date: March 09, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Planning & Site News & Unique Ideas

I continue to recommend all brides sign up to my weekly wedding tips here. They can really make a difference to your day, just take a read of this email I received yesterday.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stevie J******* [mailto:stevie.j*******@hotmail.com]
Sent: 8 March 2007 18:26
To: Brown
Subject: RE: Stevie's 78th Weekly Wedaholic.com Tip

Hi Emily,

All your tips made my wedding such a success!!

I absoutely loved all the ones that would make my family feel special, like the widowed people tip and the groomsman asking them to dance. I'll tell you, I have NEVER seen my great aunt so happy. Thanks for making my wedding that much more memorable...and I will recommend your tips to anyone I know who is getting married.

Thanks for making my special day a sucess!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Have A Caviar Wedding On A Cheeseburger Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Engagement Season Has Begun!
Date: November 24, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Engagement & Etiquette & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Traditions & Customs

According to Rushprnews.com based on recent estimates it is predicted that 1/3 of all engagements for the entire year will take place over the holiday season. That amounts to nearly one million couples! The reason for this is that the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, present an abundance of opportunities for memorable proposals to take place.

With prime proposal season being upon us I thought that I would help out newly engaged couples with some advice on what comes after the proposal! This will include:

♥ How to announce your engagement
♥ Ideas for celebrating your engagement
♥ Top tips on how to start planning your wedding

If you are newly engaged or hoping to get engaged over the holiday period then take a look for some great advice and exciting ideas.

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Wedding Podcast Network Offers Expert Advice On Your iPod And MP3 Player
Date: November 16, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Engagement & Groom & Industry News & Lose Weight & Planning & Podcasts & Reviews & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

Back in October I wrote about a site called Bloglines.com that I use to keep me up to date with all the wedding industry news on a daily basis. I highlighted the ease with which it is possible for me to read various stories without having to visit the actual web sites if I don’t want to. This all happens due to the magic of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, certainly every blog has such a feed – though not all web sites do. This might not be news to everyone, but for those brides discovering it for the first time you will certainly enjoy the luxury of having all your news in one place.

One site I am always excited to hear the latest news from is the Wedding Podcast Network (WPN), at WeddingPodcastNetwork.com, run by husband and wife team Robert Allen and Holli Ehrlich. They provide an alternative to mainstream wedding planning advice in a portable, on-demand format you can listen to where ever you are. WPN allows brides and grooms to easily listen to advice on wedding planning and obtain valuable information in an entertaining and educational format that can be downloaded to an iPod, MP3 player, mobile phone or on the computer free of charge. I love the idea of downloadable audio giving me the opportunity to control which specific wedding programs I hear, when, and even where.

Listen To Free Wedding Advice Today:

I recommend you open a Bloglines account and subscribe to the main Wedding Podcast Network feed today.

Robert Allen, WPN co-founder and executive producer says:

“We wanted to establish an authoritative resource for brides and grooms that are planning their wedding, but realize they have busy lives, whether they are commuting to work, working out at the gym or running errands. Wedding Podcast Network is like listening to wedding talk radio on-demand on your iPod or computer.”

Robert and Holli offer not only authoritative but also entertaining and fun shows to listen to. You can keep copies of your favourite shows and play them over and over again.

The Wedding Podcast Network features seven original internet radio programs including:

♥ Meet the Masters - Listen To Show Here - Exclusive interviews with the wedding industry’s foremost style shapers and consultants. Guests have included Preston Bailey, Ron Ben-Israel, Sylvia Weinstock, Laura Geller, John Mahdessian of Madame Paulette, and celebrity wedding planners Ann David and Nicky Reinhard.

♥ Bridal Scene - Listen To Show Here - Trends and happenings including exclusive, behind-the-scenes interviews from the industry’s premier shows and events. Some of the subjects of on-site guest interviews have included bridal registry trends, destination weddings, bridal beauty, scrapbooking, invitations and honeymoons. Recents podcasts include a couple of entertaining shows from the Bridal Market in New York City (part 1 and 2).

♥ Lovecast - Listen To Show Here - Relationship advice from The Love Doctor, Dr. Terri. Dr. Terri teaches listeners how to accept differences, communicate, and resolve conflicts. Fun quizzes, valuable advice and important life lessons about one’s significant other and each other's families are part of the programming. Men and women differ greatly how they talk about the relationship with their partner - listen to these podcasts to find out why!

♥ Newlywedcast - Listen To Show Here - Real couples recount their wedding stories and share firsthand advice from a purely personal perspective. Listeners hear unique proposal stories, surprising confessions, original ideas
and secrets to planning a successful wedding. Listen to newlyweds, Kim and Quint, share the details of their April destination wedding in Lake Tahoe, California and wedding at the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. Or how Jamie and Daniel planned their wedding in just 4 days!

♥ Wedding Workout - Listen To Show Here - This fitness-focused podcast offers advice and tips on how to lose a size and get gown ready before the walk down the aisle. So get pumped! get motivated! and become a buff bride today! Listen to Real Pilates owner Alycea Ungaro discuss how exercise is an enormous stress reliever which is critical during wedding planning.

♥ Grooms with a View - Listen To Show Here - Grooms offer their perspective on the big day. In the first show Craig Michaels, author of Thirty to Wife (see my review here), talks about what every prospective groom should expect at a wedding. Craig shares some great cost saving ideas without cheapening the affair.

♥ Planet Bride - Listen To Show Here – Michand Henry Roth, sister and brother design duo, share their three generations of family bridal tradition and take you on a unique wedding planning journey. Hear how to get real and how to deal from a pair that know the wedding business like no other. In their first show Henry & Michdiscuss the ever important pivotal component that sets the tone for the whole wedding - the wedding dress!

If you have any questions about RSS and podcasts just pop me an email and I will do my best to help.

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Wedaholic.com Recommends Bellenza For Elegant And Affordable Wedding Favors
Date: October 31, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Candles & Favors & Flower & Decorations & Gifts & Guests & Planning & Reviews & Shopping & Themes & Unique Ideas

Choosing wedding favors might be one of the smaller details of your wedding planning but it is certainly requires some thought and effort. You want to choose favors which add a stylish finishing touch to your wedding and which show your guests your appreciation for them being there to celebrate your special day.

For unique wedding favors, gifts and accessories take a look at Bellenza.com

What Bellenza has to offer?

Bellenza offer a vast selection of beautiful favors ranging from favor bags to porcelain keepsakes at prices starting from $0.50. Bellenza also have items which are more expensive, but of course, you don’t mind spending that bit extra for favors which your wedding guests are guaranteed to truly cherish. Remember too that depending on which favors you choose they can save you money as they might be able to double up as table decorations at your wedding reception!

I liked the huge selection of useful wedding favor bags which are available on Bellenza’s website. They come in a broad spectrum of colors and in many different styles, shapes and sizes. Another unique aspect of Bellenza’s website is that they provide you with great ideas of what to put inside your favor bags, including cookies, candies and other small wedding favors for your wedding guests.

There is more to Bellenza than simply wedding favors. They also offer elegant bridal accessories and a wide rage of attendant gifts. Handsewn stunning ring pillows and chic purses to exquisite silk bridal shawl.

Finding your way around

I found the Bellenza website really easy to navigate. They have created an attractive layout for the favors and use extensive product pictures alongside informative details specific to each favor. I thought that it was extremely helpful that Bellenza’s website had categories for customers to select from including Party Themes, Gift Ideas, Styles and Duo+ables.

The “Duo+ables” section is very innovative as it contains clever pairings of favors available for you to choose. This simplifies the process for you of choosing matching combinations of favors. I really like the pairings which they have put together. Bellenza obviously have an eye for design and have chosen colors and styles of favors which complement each other. I particularly like the Marikei Porcelain Hatbox which is wrapped in a matching Zaarni Organza Wrap Circle with Ribbon. I think it would make a beautiful wedding favor and it also makes an eye-catching table decoration too!

Bellenza also have an “Advice” section which contains lots of top tips and suggestions for wedding themes, ranging from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Beach Weddings”. With each theme suggested Bellenza give their ideas on which wedding favors are appropriate. I like the fact that Bellenza put emphasis on the usage and theme which applies to each of their favors and that they are giving you free advice on how to use their products to create a unique style for your wedding. Bellenza’s website gives you fantastic ideas for accessorizing your wedding and complimenting your chosen wedding theme with some stylish matching items.

Design details

“We are meticulous about selecting the right combination of materials and fabrics, while paying close attention to both texture and color in order to give our products an elegant look, as opposed to a mass-produced one.”

It is the quality of their workmanship combined with the distinctive materials and fabrics which they use is their designs which makes Bellenza’s favors stand apart from some of its contemporaries. Through their ongoing commitment to originality and artistry Bellenza are creating unique and timeless handmade wedding favors and couture-inspired bridal accessories. Sometimes when you look at wedding favor websites you see the same style and quality of products but Bellenza’s use of unique textures and materials such as seashell, rhinestone, and silver help to catch your eye!

Amongst Bellenza's line of elegant favor bags, pouches, and wraps is the Sofearélla Rose Pomander Favor Bag. This is a perfect example of Bellenza’s ability to use delicate fabrics in imaginative ways. They have carefully sewn pieces of satin and organza individually into flowers, rendering them to follow the form of a pretty Victorian pomander. To make the bags even more functional a decorative pearl handle was added allowing the bag to be used both as a favor container and a place card holder – Bellenza really do think of everything!

Their design team must have a great eye for aesthetics as they manage to combine a perfect combination of materials in a vast range of colors and embellishments to create masterpieces!

“At Bellenza, our philosophy embraces this ideal with a passion for designing products that are both creatively useful and unique.”

I think that Bellenza definitely simplify the task of choosing elegant yet affordable wedding favors, accessories and gifts. So go on, have a browse – you won’t regret it!

For more ideas about favors take a look at my blog "26 Wedding Favors Your Guests are Guaranteed to Love".

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Halloween Wedding Tips
Date: October 31, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Bridal Party & Candles & Catering & Ceremonies & Dresses & Flower & Decorations & Funny & Guests & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas

I was amused to read a story about a couple who chose to say "I Boo" at their Halloween Wedding in Moundsville, West Virginia at the weekend. According to wtov9.com Alvin and Carol Stillwell exchanged their vows in full Halloween costumes and their friends and family followed the Halloween theme with their wedding attire too - there were plenty of ghosts, witches and goblins cheering the couple on!

A lot of couples, like the Stillwell's, choose to get married on Halloween because it is their favorite holiday. It is certainly one way of ensuring your wedding is remembered for years to come as it is a very unique and wacky theme.

For those of you with a fun-loving nature and a penchant for all things Halloween why not consider it as your wedding theme? Think of the abundance of Halloween decorations there are available for you to use for your wedding if you chose this theme. You could host the wedding reception in a spooky mansion or castle and decorate it with pumpkin carvings, jack-o-lanterns, candelabras, plastic spiders, skulls, bats and eerie lighting. A bubbling cauldron (using a dry ice machine) would be sure to add a spooky atmosphere to the wedding reception and you could tie in the catering to match your Halloween theme (click here to read one bride's catering choices for her wedding including a Jell-O brain mould!). You could carry the Halloween theme all the way through your wedding planning from the wedding invitations down to the cake and favors - what fun! A black wedding dress is a popular choice for Halloween brides and their wedding party and you could choose dramatic blood red roses for your bouquet. By using a Halloween theme for your wedding you would also giving your guests an opportunity to let their hair down and dress up in costumes rather than their Sunday best!

Take a look at Wednet.com for more Halloween decorating ideas.

Do bear in mind that Halloween weddings need not be tacky. If you need reassurance read the Knot's story of a couple who exchanged vows dressed in black at a gothic church in Manhattan and then celebrated their reception in a big, spooky dungeon.

Just think, you will never find a better excuse to host a Halloween party every year than it being your wedding anniversary! Use the comments section below to share your opinion - I would love to hear from you!

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

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

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

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The Five Key Steps To Correctly Planning A Wedding Tent
Date: October 18, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Civil Weddings & Planning & Reception & Themes & Unique Ideas & Venues

An outdoor wedding reception can be magical, whether it's on a breezy stretch of beach or under the stars in your back yard. It's essential though to have wedding tents set up properly for your guests' comfort and to shield against the elements in case of inclement weather.

Please bear these 5 key points in mind if you are considering using a wedding tent.

1. Size Matters

If you want a wedding tent to function properly for your event, make sure you know what size you really need. There are more than a few things to take into consideration when choosing the size of the tent:

♥ How many people will be attending?
♥ Will this be a buffet or a sit-down dinner?
♥ Will you need room for a dance floor and a band or DJ?
♥ How many tables will there be and what is there shape and size?


2. What is taking place in the tent?

Will the entire wedding take place under tents? If so, you will need room for not only the guests, but an alter area, a runner, and plenty of space for the bridal party as well as a separate area later for the dining and/or dancing. Don't make the mistake of thinking things can just be "rearranged" - it's too confusing and is a recipe for disaster.


3. What kind of tent?

Yes, there are different kinds of tents for weddings! The most traditional is the pole tent, which, by definition, is supported by individual poles beneath the fabric to give the tent its shape. Tension on ropes holds the roof in place. More recently, frame tents made of fabric over an aluminium or steel framework have become popular. These are more rigid and allow the tent to stand free without supports.

4. What your tent needs:

Now that you know a little bit about tents, you should delve a little bit deeper into the features. Talk to some tent rental companies in your area and ask about the different quality of tents available. A few things you should ask about include:

♥ The specification of the high-quality canvas material that should have been treated with a waterproofing material to resist rain.
♥ Wind resistance - you will want a tent with high wind resistance in the event of an unexpected squall.
♥ What are the support capabilities for running electrical to and through the tent for the lighting, DJ, bandstand, etc? Will the rental company provide electrical outlets, extension cords and other needs?
♥ Are there tents available with roll-up sides to allow the breeze through for ventilation? What about roll-up windows?
♥ Does the rental company include set-up and take-down in their price?


5. Decorating makes all the difference:

Once you've had a tent or series of tents set up for your wedding, don't leave them as "unfinished canvas." There are so many things you can do to add to the magic when you are working with tents! Simply wrapping the poles loosely in tulle, gauze or mesh netting in either white or a colour to match the wedding party will immediately soften the edges of the tent corners and add a hazy, dreamy effect to the "room."

Under the roof supports, string zigzag swags of fairy lights for a magical effect. For an even dreamier effect, twist the lights with netting or gauze to soften the effect. After dark these will look beautiful as they softly reflect light back down onto the party-goers. Another option is to twine artificial ivy or silk flowers around ropes and poles to create a garden bower feel. Or try suspending dozens of Chinese paper lanterns from the ceilings for a festive effect that will add a warm, colourful glow that you can repeat with Chinese paper fans and fortune cookies at each place setting. With a little imagination, your guests will forget they are in a tent and believe they have stepped into a fairytale!

Further Reading on Wedding Tents:

Nine Things Everybody Asks About Marquee Hire - Frances Leyland at CountyMarquees.com answers the questions she gets asked time and time again!
Interactive Marquee Layout Planner - Use this highly recommended tool to design your own layout. Select your required dimensions and start to add your choice of seating, tables and dance floor for the perfect layout.
SimpleSeating.com - Easily create, preview, and print your seating charts in just a few simple steps.

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"Thirty To Wife" By Craig Michaels - The Must Read Groom's Guide To Weddings
Date: October 09, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Books & Groom & Planning & Reviews

Craig Michael’s new book “Thirty to Wife”, available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, was born from his very own experiences of getting married. He found he didn’t have many people to turn to for real, honest advice and your average wedding book was simply focused on lists and responsibilities. He was fed up with to do lists and magazines strategically left around the house and wanted to write a book that really went out of its way to educate and advise grooms.

The title “Thirty to Wife” is apt because Craig's book tells the story of the 30 days leading up to his wedding day. It is in effect a countdown where we take the ride along side him, every step of the way - experiencing the highs and the lows. It’s a clever title, though Craig can’t take credit for it as his wife Deb thought of it! Luckily he does deserve much applause for its content! In fact Deb's forward says:

If only CRAIG put a fraction of the effort into our wedding planning that he did writing this book.

If only.

And so the book begins:

From Day 30: Welcome to my world. Seatbelts not required, but strongly encouraged.

Never was I so sure of anything in this world. Buoyed by excessive alcohol, a ticking biological clock (guys get them too), and a natural urge to ensure survival of the fittest (vision impairments aside), I got down on one knee and asked Deb to marry me.

It wasn't the most romantic moment. Or the most graceful. But it was ours to cherish forever. Or at least a few days.

"No planning for two months. Guaranteed," Deb promised as she basked in the glow of her engagement ring.
We didn’t make it two hours.
"Who are your groomsmen?"
"What food should we serve?"
"Where should we honeymoon?"
"When will we register?"
Why, oh why did I start us down this path?

I found “Thirty to Wife” to be all together more superior than anything else I have read in the groom/wedding book category. At the heart of this book is a humorous, real life and in depth pre-wedding narrative that makes it such a joy to read. Through all 263 pages you hear Craig’s voice, providing comfort, guidance and real world experiences that both sexes can relate to. In addition this book packs a massive punch with many comprehensive lists of what every groom needs to know, from proposing to the wedding day.

I loved the way you can follow a really engaging wedding story, yet pick up many useful tips and advice along the way. If you’re a bride you may wonder whether this account of a thirty-something man’s last 30 bachelor days is for you? I have to admit I had the same question. Yes “Thirty to Wife” is groom oriented but nevertheless it is definitely bride friendly. I can see women using this book to assist men in being the grooms they dreamt of marrying and get their favourite “so what are you really thinking” question answered without having to ask their mates!

Equally men will use the book to learn that they’re not alone in their struggle with the pressures and joys of being engaged. Ultimately when you have a book full of love, excitement and humour, told through personal experiences you have a winner for both men and women.

Craig clearly tells grooms:

“Don’t just ‘get through’ your wedding. Help out. Share in the good and bad of planning your big day. It’s something that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. And something your bride will remind you of for the rest of your life. I looked back and realised I missed out on much of the action. And while my wedding turned out to be an amazing affair, I’ll always know that I put too much of the burden on my better half”

I really wish this book was around when I got married – not that my husband didn’t help with the planning, but more to increase his knowledge of what is involved. I know a story like this is so much better than asking a groom to read through lists of dos and don’ts. Everyone loves a good fun story!

Times have certainly changed. Years ago, the groom’s role was much more about showing up and worrying about life after marriage. It was unusual for grooms to be purposely excluded from planning altogether, as weddings were strictly the domain of the bride and her mother!

Lets face it more couples are planning their weddings as a team and if this is the case for you, you will definitely need a guidebook. You may think all the bridal magazines you have laying around your house constitute the necessary foundation to plan the perfect wedding, but for a groom this couldn’t be further from the truth. They need a manual / novel / lads magazine that informs them, yet makes them laugh. This is where Craig has excelled by creating the right mix to relay everything a groom needs to know without boring him. He saw the opportunity to write something truly unique and educate grooms on what to expect from engagement to his wedding day. I can’t recommend “Thirty to Wife” highly enough, though I’m not the only one!

Some Amazing Testimonials:

"Understands the plight of the groom." - Newsday

"Very funny...holds nothing back..." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Helpful advice...tell-all style." - Oakand Tribune


Every page is rich in wedding lists, tips and insights but so as you get a real free for its contents I have set out a list of some of my favourites:

Top Pages Every Groom Needs To Read - Sooner Rather Than Later!

* The Guy's Guide To Wedding Responsibilities - pages 16 - 17
* Who Pays What? - Page 32
* Is That A Ruler In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To Get Sized? (Key body measurements for your tuxedo) - Page 40
* A Handy Guide to Tying A Bowtie - Page 41
* Gifts For Your Groomsmen - Show Your Posse That You Care - page 41
* The Bachelor Party - Basic Bachelor Party Rules - pages 75 - 76
* Want To Know The Cut Of A Woman? Look At The Cut Of Her Diamond - pages 116 - 117
* How To Calm Her Nerves - page 157
* Nee To Drop A Few Pounds? A Few Inches? A Few Feet? - pages 174 - 176
* A Handy Emergency Kit For You To Pack To Ensure Smooth Sailing On Your Wedding Day - page 210
* Playing The Wedding Horror Bingo Game - page 223
* Last Night Reminders For Nervous Grooms To Be - page 231

And Finally These Two Absolute Must Reads:

* The Complete Guide To The Groom's Wedding To Do's - pages 246 - 257
* The Complete Guide To The Grooms' Party Responsibilities - pages 258 - 263

See Craig Talk About His Book:

Craig is interviewd on NBC11 San Francisco talking about how a groom should get involved and how he wishes he had been a little bit more supportive.

Book Details:
Thirty to Wife
The Tell-All Groom's Guide to Weddings
How to Get Hitched Without Losing Your Mind or Your Fiancée

Paperback: 263 pages
Publisher: Marlowe & Company (7 Jul 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 1569242968

More information about "Thirty to Wife" can be found out on Craig's website, Groom411.com

Final Words:

"Thirty to Wife" is simply a Must Read for all grooms. This book will motivate them, guide them and entertain them - for the price of a round of beers turn your husband-to-be into Super Groom! Be sure to check out this podcast where Craig talks to Robert Allen on the Wedding Podcast Network about what every groom can expect at his own wedding.

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Request Your Free Copy Of Confetti's New Catalogue Today!
Date: October 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Industry News & Magazines & Planning & Shopping & Stationery & Themes & Unique Ideas

>The new Confetti catalogue has just popped through my door! Having had a look at it I definitely recommend you request your free cop now.

Confetti's new catalogue is packed full of inspring ideas and products to help you create your perfect day. There are 115 pages divided into seven sections, namely: planning (p4-5), stationary (6-37), create your own (p38-63), table decorations (p66-87), party (p88-97), gifts (p98-107) and memories (p108-112). I can guarantee you will find things to make your wedding personal and unique.

Remember Confetti isn't just for weddings, but any event requiring a unique celebration - engagements, christenings, birthdays, anniversaries etc.

Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:

Confetti.co.uk Launch Their New Site - Wedding Planning Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!
Review Of Confetti's Glasgow Store by Brown.
Compare Confetti's Wedding Insurance to other UK products.
Confetti's New Must-Read Magazine - Confetti Receptions
How To Use Confetti.co.uk For A Stylish Christmas - a one stop shop for wedding and party advice.

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A Unique Concept In Wedding Table Planning - TheTablePlanner.com
Date: October 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Flower & Decorations & Funny & Groom & Guests & Planning & Reception & Reviews & Shopping & Site Reviews & Stationery & Themes & Unique Ideas

A seating plan is an essential piece of stationery for your wedding reception. By having a seating plan on display for wedding guests to refer to you avoid any unnecessary confusion about where they are expected to sit. Seating plans also prevent the usual chaos which can prevail if you have an open seating arrangement at your wedding reception, which traditionally begins with a mass free for all as guests seat themselves and ends with a few lonely people ambling around the reception room looking for a spare seat or a friendly face!

You can tell I am a real advocate of seating plans at weddings, so I was fascinated to come across the TheTablePlanner.com stand at the National Wedding Show last weekend. They are a table planner design company who produce stylish and distinctive table plans. I was impressed with the quality of their beautifully framed and mounted table plans and by the diverse and quirky design assortment they offer. I hardly had a chance to speak to Creative Director Mike Daniels at the show as he was surrounded by a throng of prospective bride and grooms asking questions about his funky table planners, which has to be a sign of their popularity!

“Ideal for events, functions and weddings. Thetableplanner.com offers you a fresh and exciting new idea to compliment your special occasion. We have a team of designers who will work with you to create a unique table plan for you and your guests. The table plan will then become a picture that records your cherished day as a memento of you with your family and friends.”

Take a look for yourself at the website to see the unique and distinctive array of table plans you could choose from, the themes range from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Greek Gods". The table plan designs are all created by the design team who are more than happy to custom design your table plan depending on your wedding theme, hobbies or interests. How about personalising your table plan by basing it on your favourite sport (Formula 1), your chosen honeymoon destination (Hawaii) or one of your interests (Cocktails)! I particularly liked the James Bond themed table plan which is not shown on the website but was on display at the Wedding Show - this is surely a design which prove to be popular with every groom for their own 007 wedding reception! I think that these table plans would be particularly great if you are hosting a themed wedding - you could use the design of the table plan to convey your wedding theme. I wish I had known about them when I planned my wedding as it was loosely based on a golf theme but unfortunately we did not think of carrying this through to the seating plan and table names.

Once you have chosen a table plan design all you have to do is provide the design team with the table layouts and wedding guests’ names typed in word or excel format and they create the table planner for you.

Prices for the table plans start at £395. Whilst this might seem like quite a princely sum for a table plan, do bear in mind that these table plans look like pieces of artwork and would definitely look fantastic adorning a wall in your house after your wedding as a lasting keepsake of your special day. Thetableplanner.com are also able to provide table number or name cards for each table utilising the same design theme, as well as holders for these and place cards. If your reception venue is unable to provide you with an easel or suitable wall fixture to display the table planner on then Thetableplanner.com are able to provide this too.

These table plans could bring the fun and colourful element to your wedding reception which will have your guests talking about it for years to come! This is a very original concept and I imagine it will be popular with couples who want their weddings to be unique. You will not find these anywhere else and I imagine even the most adept wedding DIY expert would not want to attempt one of these masterpieces themselves.

Take a look and see for yourself. Happy planning!

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Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Date: September 21, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Extended Family & Family & Music & Dance & Planning & Wedding Blogs

I receive many questions regarding divorced and separated parents, without doubt it can make planning a wedding very stressful (check out my tips on handling stress here). I recently wrote this reply titled: "Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding".

If you are a bride that feels you need some further advice on this issue I thoroughly recommend you read a 5 part series written by The Wedding Fairy at her fantastic wedding blog "Don't Be That Bride". You may remember I reviewed it in this post: "Don't Be That Bride - A Wedding Blog Not To Be Missed!".

Here are the links to all 5 Parts:

Part l

Read how the insensitivity of the band can embarass certain family members if they are introduced incorrectly. The Wedding Fairy recounts an upsetting story told to her by a work colleague, whereby the stepmother and groom's father are announced as the groom's parents!

Her advice to all couples is:

"THINK about the introductions in advance, and TALK/COMMUNICATE with your band about how to approach each."


Part ll

This post and the next deals with how to handle the first and last dances. Often the band can cause distress by forcing divorced or separated parents without partners to dance with other people.

"This type of behavior is not acceptable, and certainly not fair to the mother of the groom (or anyone in this situation that applies in other scenarios)- whether or not you believe that a divorced parent should "suck it up" (a sentiment which I thoroughly disagree with), you should definitely understand that the band member trying to "help" in this way is degrading, demoralizing, and definitely a NO."


Part lll

This is a detailed account of how a lovely relaxed wedding can quickly change into one of pure humiliation when a mother is forced to dance with a stranger! It really brings home the fact that communication is absoultely key. Every bride and groom should advise the professionals they employ at their wedding beforehand, to ensure there are no hiccups on the day.


Part lV

If your parents are divorced it can often be diffcult coming up with a table arrangement that suits everyone. You may want to see your parents seated together or on adjacent table (or even the same!), but trust me they will be much more relaxed if you put some distance between their tables. The Wedding Fairy describes a situation that happened at a wedding her college friend Liz went to, there were no dramas or dish-throwing but it makes you think that the mother and father could have been seated further apart.

"I can tell you right now - you will not please everyone. Finding the "perfect" table arrangement is not necessarily an option - however, creating a WORKABLE table arrangement-- when it comes to divorced/separated parents -- is the name of the game."


Part V

In conclusion we learn that wedding planning is complicated and stressful enough without keeling over from the pressure of divorced parents and their partners. It just isn't worth it, take a stance and stick to it. As the Wedding Fairy says:

"Planning doesn't involve the same discomfort issues that a wedding does (i.e. loud announcements by DJs, or very obvious seating situations). Therefore, keeping everyone happy during this stage isn't really the goal - the goal is to get the job done, and to enjoy doing it."

You only have to watch "My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married!" to see that there has to be a better way!

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

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding gifts for officiants:

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

This was my reply:

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

How much?

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

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

Ideas for gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Tips

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

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

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

I hope this helps!

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

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

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

It read:

A Decent Proposal

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

Let's start over.

I proposed to my girlfriend on Wednesday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Idiot's Guide To The Perfect Stag Weekend In Galway
Date: September 11, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Groom & Planning & Reviews & Stag Party

My husband recently returned from a stag weekend in Galway. He was more than happy to offer some advice for any best man considering this beautiful West Ireland city as an option for a stag.

The following tips are based on a very successful stag that took place from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th September 2006. Follows these guidelines and you will be more than half way to having a stag weekend that the groom will never forget!


Travel to Galway :

For an overall view of which airlines fly to Galway airport from the UK, please visit this page at FlightMapping.com

Aer Arann flies into Galway from Belfast City, Cardiff, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Luton, and Manchester. Flying directly into Galway means you are a 15min taxi ride (approx €15) from the city centre.

If the stag party is coming from the South and East of England and in particular London you may find cheaper options by flying to Shannon on RyanAir. Parties travelling from the South West of England can take advantage of EasyJet's flight to Shannon. A full lisitng of airlines flying to Shannon from the UK can be found here.

Shannon is 90Km (56miles) from Galway and though this might not seem far, it can take as long as 90 minutes. The AA's route planner for Ireland suggests it will take about 75 minutes but as the roads are poor expect it to take longer. There is a bus service operated by Bus Eireann, but again with the single carriageway roads the journey takes just under 2 hours.

The following rental companies have desks at Shannon airport: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Dan Dooley, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrity


Accommodation in Galway :

It is highly recommended that you stay at Jurys Inn on Quay Street in Galway. This hotel wins over on all accounts. The location is central, and right in the heart of the city. If you are driving in be sure to print this map, so as you are fully aware of the one way systems. When you have spent over an hour and half drving from Shannon, the last thing you want is to having difficulty finding the hotel. Unfortuantely with the roads in Galway it is all to easy to end up looping the city a few times!

As well as a central location, you should be able to negogiate rates of approx €60 per person sharing a 3 person room. Ideally you will get a twin room with a sofa bed, but this isn't always the case so it is best to check.

The hotel bar is perfect for meeting up pre stag nights. Many stags can break up into smaller groups half way through the night if some people haven't eaten. Thus take advantage of the hotel's menu before heading up Quays Street for your evening out. The bar is open until 1:30am.

Breakfast is served in their restuarant called "Innfusion". Available from 8 - 11 am, so ideal for those parties who have been out late.


Pubs in Galway :

By all means visit other pubs and clubs in Galway but without doubt a great stag can be had by sticking to these 4 amazing venues:

The Kings Head at 15 High Street

Everyone recommends The Kings Head and it is easy to see why. This is a large pub that stretches over 3 floors and their nightly rock gigs at the back of the pub are fantastic. Other attractions include lunchtime theatre and Sunday jazz sessions.

Sonny's Bar & Restaurant on the High St / The Front Door on Cross Street

Sonny's is spread over two floors and stretches between two streets. A great pub for a stag party with 4 bars. Food is served from 10am to late evening.

Taaffes Pub at 19 Shop Street

Taaffes is by far the smallest of the four recommended pubs. The Guinness is great here and the live Irish music at the back of the pub make for an excellent craic!

The Quays on Quay Street

Finish your night in The Quays and I promise you a night to remember. This venue is split into two parts with two separate entrances. It is important that you move to the part that has the live music (on the right hand side as you look at it from the outside) and the later drinking hours for the ultimate craic! An admission charge of approx €10 charged near the end of the night is well worth it. You can't fail to have a terrific night.


Where to Eat in Galway :

Of course there are many places to eat in Galway. This review is simply here to tell you what the best Indians in the city are:

i. Kashmir is across the bridge from the Spanish Arch.
ii. Tulsi beside the Augustine Church on Buttermilk Walk, Middle Street
iii. Eastern Tandoori on Spanish Parade
iv. Kumar's Tastes of Asia at Swan House on Flood Street

Head for the Charcoal Grill on Cross Street Lower for an excellent kebab and burger. At a minute's walk from Quay Street there is no doubt you will be there come 3 in the morning!


Activities in Galway :

For the mature stag there is alway Galway golf club as they accept visitors on Fridays and Saturdays (limited).

Typically though you will want something a little more adventurous - The Killary Adventure Centre fits the bill perfectly. It is 70km (44 miles) from Galway - but please don't let that deceive you into thinking you will be there in under the hour. I would suggest leaving at least an hour and a half, though the scenery is stunning the roads are slow and winding. Contact the Centre here to organise a fantastic day out before you hit the bars at night.

Finally chill out on the Sunday at the famous Galway Races. There are three meetings every year, called Summer (7 days), Autumn (3 days) and October (2 days).


Enjoy your stag or hen party in Galway. Please leave comments on your experience and any information that you feel would help someone planning their stag.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Plan A Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

Announcing Your Engagement

If you have children

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

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

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

If you are a widow or widower

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

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

If you are divorced

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

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

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

Organizing your second wedding

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

The advantages of organizing a wedding second time around are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top tips when organizing your second wedding:

Venue

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

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

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

Legal requirements

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

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

Vows

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

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

Wedding traditions for a second wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Involving Children in a Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ Ask children to be in charge of the guestbook.

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

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

Some additional points to remember:

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

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

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

Jill Curtis says,

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

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

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

To compare or not to compare?

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

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

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

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

Footing the bill for a second wedding

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

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

Invitations

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Bridal Attire for Second Weddings

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

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

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

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

Wedding Gifts for a Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Honeymoon Plans

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

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

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

Resources I recommend for planning your encore wedding:

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

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

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

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

More second wedding websites to check out:

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

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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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Wedding Weather Forecasts In The UK
Date: August 24, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Planning & Reception & Site Reviews

Every bride worries about what the weather will be like on her wedding day. There are many women around the UK, as I currently write, praying and keeping everything crossed that come this weekend will have at good weather. The last thing they want is rain, especially if the wedding involves tents and marquees. Sadly you can plan every aspect of your wedding except the weather!

It is quite natural to study online forecasts up to weeks in advance, though unfortunately they won’t be too accurate. I well remember the Great Storms of 1987 with the infamous Michael Fish forecast to know I have to take them all with a pinch of salt. In his defence though he did say:

"batten down the hatches there's some really stormy weather on the way"

- this always gets edited out of the clips we see of the forecast!

There are many good sites for checking weather forecasts, though I personally always like to check the official MetOffice.com one before all others. After all this is the one other weather sites use to acquire data.

If for instance you are planning a wedding next year and want to be certain of having certain minimum temperatures you can check out the 1961-1990 and 1971-2000 mapped averages at this site. I found that if I selected “Leuchars” famous for its RAF airbase just a few miles from me the average minimum temperature was only over 10 deg C for July and August! I guess if I were a bride though I could take heart from the fact the average highest temperature was 19 deg C in July over this 30 year span. Nevertheless it goes to show that having a summer wedding is no guarantee of a warm wedding - especially in Scotland! In fact it can work both ways as my own little story goes to show.

I was married back in April 2000 in Largs in Ayrshire at the Clark Memorial Church and everyone commented on how hot the day was for an Easter Saturday in Scotland. I was indeed very lucky because research from the weather stations at Auchincruive, Ayrshire (31miles away) and Paisley, Renfrewshire (23 miles away) shows it could be as low as 3 deg C and not higher than 11 deg C on the day. I don't know the exact temperature on my wedding day but I do know it was definitely t-shirt weather!

If I had been married in Surrey in the south of England (which could easily could have been the case), my wedding would have probably been a very wet one. All the UK weather reports and news stories at the time centred on the troubled British Grand Prix. Many fans couldn't get to the race on time due to the very heavy downpours and resulting traffic congestion.

So all in all it really is difficult to definitely ensure you will have good weather on your wedding day. How many of us wake up to sunshine at the weekend and think how lucky some brides are going to be that day.

For those brides who really would like to know the latest forecast all the way up to the actual day I would recommend you visit this page. Here you can see rainfall radar images at half-hourly intervals, from the oldest (T-6 hours) to the latest (T-0 hours) in the form of an easy to follow animation. This enables you to quickly see whether rain clouds are heading towards your wedding venue. I sincerely hope not - but at least this way you will be prepared.

Recommended Websites For Checking Short Term Weather Forecasts:
Metoffice.com - Visit for the most accurate regional forecasts in the UK.
BBC Weather - UK and World 5 day forecast. Enter a town, city, country name, or a UK postcode.
Weather.com - Get the local weather forecast for any location in the world.
Accuweather.com- Review up to 15 day forecasts for any town in the UK.
Metcheck.com - Search on any UK Town for a 14 day forecast. Also feel free to add your own weather reports!

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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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28 Reasons Why I Love Google!
Date: July 28, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Books & Coupons & Destination Weddings & Directories & Dresses & Honeymoon & Magazines & Miscellaneous & Planning & Reception & Reviews & Shopping & Unique Ideas & Venues & Videography

Yes it's true - I love Google in so many ways.

Let me explain why. Most of us have a friendship with Google and meet up most days, either at work or home! It's just so easy to find exactly what you want, just type in your query and Google delivers. To be honest though my friendship turned into a full on love affair when I started to learn ways that Google could help me even futher. There really is so much more to Google than just a simple search.

I would like to show you specific Google services and queries that can help you plan your wedding.


Google Services:

♥ Google Answers

Type in your wedding related question and have an expert reply to it, or alternatively, as I do, just browse existing wedding questions at your leisure. There is a non-refundable listing fee of $0.50 per question plus an additional 'price' you set for your question that reflects how much you're willing to pay for an answer. I recommend you review some of the wedding questions to get an idea of how much information you will receive for any given amount. The lowest you can pay for a question is $2. Google Answers is a great resource and an excellent opportunity to get your wedding question answered.

♥ Google Blog Search

Using Google Blog Search you can search for content on many wedding blogs - either informational sites like Wedaholic.com or personal blogs set up by engaged couples. Additionally you can review wedding related references made on other blog sites. Quite often the information found on a blog is much more current than a major wedding portal.

♥ Google Book Search

Use Google Book Search to find the full text taken from wedding books and also discover new ones at the same time. Most wedding books are on “Limited Preview”, but nevertheless this gives you an idea of what the book is like before you buy it.

♥ Google Calendar

Google allows you to set up a special “Wedding Calendar” so that you can record all of your key dates leading up to the big day. This is great tool for sharing with your parents, bridesmaids, best man etc. If you already have a Google Mail you can toggle between your email and calendar with ease.

♥ Google Catalogs

This is a fantastic way to shop for wedding favors, gifts and so much more. Simply by using Google Catalogs you can see all the references made to weddings in the top shopping catalogs. Just flick through the catalogs as if they had been delivered to your door!

♥ Google Desktop

All the Google information and functionality you ever wanted, right on your desktop.

♥ Google Directory

Use Google Directory to search the web organized by topics into categories. This way you can really find the wedding site you want - you defintely won't find any fluff or spam sites here.

♥ Google Earth

Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to enable you to review potential wedding venues and honeymoon possibilities without moving from your desk - a very powerful tool. Before you know it you will have spent an hour circling the globe in amazement!

♥ Google Groups

Google Groups is a free service which allows groups of people to communicate effectively with each other using email and the internet. I recommend you take a look at the alt.wedding and alt.wedding.marketplace groups.

♥ Google Images

This is a brilliant resource for searching for images of your dream wedding dress or the type of reception you desire. Additionally it is a great place to catch up with all the celebrity wedding pictures!

♥ Google Maps

Invaluable as a way to find the exact location of a wedding supplier or get precise directions to a possible wedding reception. One of the most powerful time saving Google tools.

♥ Google Notebook

As you browse the internet searching for wedding ideas don't you wish you had somewhere to save all the scraps of information you come across? Well look no further! Using Google Notebook you can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your own notebook without ever leaving your browser window.

♥ Google Movies

When the wedding planning gets too much, treat yourself to a movie. Google Movies gives you the latest information and times before you book online. Is there anything Google doesn't do!

♥ Google News

When you're addicted to weddings you just have to have the latest wedding news - I know the feeling! Keep track with all the celebrity wedding gossip by visiting Google News.

♥ Google Pages

Use Google Pages to easily and quickly create your own wedding web pages. This free online tool makes it easy for anyone to create and publish attractive pages in minutes. If you want a simple page announcing your wedding then this is the tool for you. As you edit your page, you will see exactly what it will look like when your wedding guests see it. There are definitely no complex tools to learn and no web designers to hire.

♥ Google Suggest

I love Google Suggest, just start to enter your query and you are presented with a number of alternatives you will have probably never thought of.

♥ Google Video

It would take you a lifetime to view every movie on Google Video, such is the array of varied content. Search on "wedding dress" for example and begin to see the many options you have.


Google Operators:

Next time you search in Google I recommend you use some of the following operators for a more precise search.

define:wedding

Use this to get the exact defination of a keyword. For example Wikipedia states that "A wedding is a civil or religious ceremony at which the beginning of a marriage is celebrated". No suprises there, but try defining the internet in one sentence!

link:theknot.com

This operator enables you to find a list of websites that link to your favourite wedding site. In this case I'm able to find other wedding sites simply by asking Google for a list of those ones that link to TheKnot.com.

related:hitched.co.uk

You can use the related operator to find sites similar and related to any of your favourite wedding sites. Click on the link to see web sites related to Hitched.co.uk

site:weddingchannel.com

Ever wondered how many pages there are in a web site? Use the site operator to get links to every page on the site. If you have the time you can read all 275,000 pages at WeddingChannel.com!

allintitle:wedding ipod

The allintitle operator restricts the results to those with all the query words in the title. So, for example, if you are looking for specific articles on the use of ipods at weddings you could use the query above, as this would only return documents that have both "wedding" and "ipod" in the title.

intitle:wedding budget

The intitle operator restricts the results to documents containing that word in the title. For instance the query above will return documents that mention the word "wedding" in their title, and mention the word "budget" anywhere in the document.

allinurl:wedding songs

If you start a query with allinurl, Google will restrict the results to those with all of the query words in the url. For instance, my example will return only documents that have both "wedding" and "songs" in the url.

inurl:wedding tips

If you include inurl: in your wedding query, Google will restrict the results to documents containing that word in the url. For instance, my example will return documents that mention the word "wedding" in their url, and mention the word "tips" anywhere in the document.

wedding * dress

This query will return documents that contain wedding and dress separated by exactly one word.

-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "wedding"

Use this query string to search for wedding mp3s. Alternatively you can just replace the word "wedding" with the name of any music artist.

I hope these links help with your wedding planning and with your other Google searches. Undoubtedly the major reason I love Google is because of Google Romance - how else would I have met my husband!

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

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

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

How Interactive Wedding Budget Planners work:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advantages of creating your own Wedding Budget Planner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BridesMagazine.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

BlissWeddings.com

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

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

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

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

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

ChicagolandWedding.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WedAlert.com

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

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

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

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

TheWeddingNetwork.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitched.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UtahBrides.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

TheKnot.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

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How To Invite Children To The Wedding Ceremony Only

Hi Everyone,

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

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

This was my reply:

Thanks for your question.

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

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

Invitation wording

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

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

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

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

RSVP

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

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

Gatecrashers

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

A possible solution for guests with children

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great layout and presentation

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

Table styles

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

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

Shopping assistance

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

What is on offer?

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

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

Best-sellers

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

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

Bargain hunting

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

Do-it-yourself

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

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

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

You can find Confetti at:

15 - 17 Queen Street
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Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:
Compare Confetti's Wedding Insurance to other UK products.
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Confetti's New Must-Read Magazine - Confetti Receptions

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

Hi Everyone,

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

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

This was my reply:

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

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

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

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

Decorations for the Village Square

To create a romantic atmosphere try the following:

Lighting

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

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

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

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

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

♥ If there are trees surrounding the Square:

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

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

Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arch or arbor

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

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

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

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

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

Table decorations

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

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

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

♥ Use greenery to transform the tables by decorating them with garlands of ivy.

♥ Use glittery table linens to add some pizzazz to your wedding reception. These will look great by candlelight!

♥ Cover the tables with white or pastel colored tablecloths and use colourful linen napkins at each setting.

♥ For a quick and inexpensive way to add style if you use long rectangular tables at your wedding reception, try gift-wrap runners down the centre. To find out how to achieve this look click here. The great thing about this is that you can make the wedding favors for your guests to match with the same gift-wrap paper.

♥ For an outdoor feel fill tiny terracotta flower pots with sugared almonds or traditional Cypriot sweets and place them at each table setting.

♥ For favors which double up as table decorations use individually planted flowers of your choice in tiny terracotta pots tied with a ribbon to match your wedding color theme. You can tie a card to them with each guest’s name so that they serve as a place setting as well.

Candles

Using candles to decorate the village square will add a romantic intimate atmosphere and will also provide gentle illumination when the sun goes down in the evening.

♥ Turn plain glass lanterns into something really pretty by twisting lengths of ivy around the rim and fasten them with a small knot at the back. Arrange these on the table or hang from tree branches, trellises or dot about the periphery of the Village Square.

♥ Tie pastel colored organza ribbon in a bow around clear glass votive cups. These can double as guest wedding favors.

♥ As an alternative to lanterns, fill terracotta flowerpots with sand or pebbles and then stand taper candles in them. If you use plenty candles in each pot you will create a beautiful glow.

♥ For easy, inexpensive centerpieces for your tables fill glass bowls with water and place floating candles in them. You could intersperse these with floating flowers too.

♥ As you are having an outdoor wedding you could use scented candles to create a lovely aroma.

♥ As your reception will be outdoors you should also consider using citronella candles to ward off bugs and bees, otherwise your guests will be swatting bugs all evening! If the Village Square is a known hot-spot for bugs in the evenings then perhaps you should consider arranging for an exterminator to spray the area with insecticide the day before your wedding reception.

♥ Candles glowing from inside lanterns creates a simple and elegant look for your wedding reception. Look at the selection of clear glass lanterns available at Beau-coup.com. They have a wire handle attached to them so you can use them as a tabletop illumination or suspend them from a tree. They come in a variety of sizes. You could present these to your guests as wedding favors.

♥ Place tea lights around the tables for a simple romantic glow.

♥ For informal, inexpensive lanterns use jelly jars. All you have to do is wrap a piece of flexible greenery around the jar just below the lip, and twist a piece of floral wire around the ends to secure and place a nightlight or small votive candle inside. You can decorate the jars with ivy, willow or other local greenery. These are perfect for protecting your candles from breezes.

♥ To add height to your table settings use large votive trees. These are available from Etreasuresgifts.com for $69.95 but shop around. The great thing about these is that you only need a couple of them to add a stunning focal point on the reception tables and the best bit is you can keep them afterwards - a unique reminder of your wedding reception! The pressed two-toned glass leaves can be arranged in any position you want around the 5 votive holders so that the candlelight can shimmer off the leaves.

♥ If you are on a tight budget you could create your own outdoor chandelier of lights by placing a large branch off of a tree into a pot (you could spray paint the branch gold or silver first if you feel creative!), fill it with sand or stones to hold the branch firmly in place and then suspend tea light holders, glass votives or even jelly jars off of the branches using metal wire. If you are using tables for your reception which have a hole where the umbrella slots, you could place a large branch in there and use it as a votive tree.

Centerpieces

As the wedding reception is outdoors you should add height to the tables by adding stunning centerpieces to each of them.

♥ I love this table setting from TheKnot.com. It merges a low candle arrangement with a tall one using fuchsia, bright blue and yellow pillar candles to give the large open space a warm and vibrant feel. This sort of look would great for your Village Square and is easy to recreate.

♥ Use various candleholders of varying height and style and place them on each table. When the candles are lit all across an open space it will create a very elegant and romantic look for your wedding reception.

♥ Use floral arrangements as centerpieces. These can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.

♥ You could fill terracotta pots with flowers to match your colour theme.

♥ Another idea for a unique centerpiece which will look great in an outdoor wedding reception setting is a beach bucket centerpiece as shown here. You take a small metal beach bucket and paint it in your wedding colors. You can then pot a small tree in it and scatter petals over the top of the soil so it does not show.

♥ Fill a galvanized watering can with fresh summer flowers as a centerpiece.

♥ Use tall vases and fill them with flowers. These will help to anchor the tablecloths in place as well.

♥ Have a look at Theknot.com for instructions on how you can make your own centerpiece for the wedding reception tables.

♥ For a stunning citrus centerpiece you could try this idea from Martha Stewart. Tie lemons and grapefruits with yellow taffeta ribbons and pile them into a glass bowl. The bows are secured by pins and sheer yellow organdy drapes from the bowl.

Additional things to consider

♥ For additional colour you could decorate the chairs at your wedding reception. Tie large bows on the backs of chairs with ribbon streamers.

♥ I’m sure that you will be having children attend your wedding reception as I know how family-oriented Cypriot people are (my brother’s wife is from Cyprus!) so how about renting a bubble machine to add a touch of fun. It creates a lovely party atmosphere and the children will love it.

♥ The wedding cake should be given pride of place in the village square as this will form the centerpiece for your wedding reception. If the weather is going to be hot perhaps you should place your cake in the shade or underneath a canopied arch as you don’t want it melting before you and your new husband have a chance to cut it!

♥ If the Village Square lacks colour then choose bright vibrant colours in your wedding decorations to give it an eye-catching appearance rather than using muted pastel colours.

♥ If there are any unattractive features around the Village Square then you might want to shield them off using trellis which can be decorated with trailing greenery and flowers. This is not too expensive to buy and you can use it in your garden after the wedding reception.

♥ Will there be enough bathrooms for your wedding guests? If not, you might want to consider renting port-a-potties. These port-a-potties are fitted out with a sink, vanity unit and mirror. If you decide to do this make sure you decorate them with some fresh flowers, perfumed hand soap to make them more festive.

Weather

♥ Have you had any thoughts about what you will do if the weather turns bad? Perhaps you should have a back up plan in place just in case. Having a backup plan for any outdoor wedding reception, anytime of the year, is always a wise move. It might be a good idea to rent a marquee which could provide your guests with shelter just in case.

♥ If there is a possibility that your guests might get cold in the evening when the sun goes down perhaps you should think about renting outdoor patio heaters like the wedding setting pictured here.

♥ Likewise, if the weather is likely to be extremely hot then think about renting tables with umbrellas which would provide your guests with some shade. You don’t want your guests to be melting in the heat! If it going to be very hot weather you should consider renting large electric fans (which could be powered off of a generator in the absence of electricity) and spreading them around the periphery of the village square.

♥ If there is a chance that the village square might be a windy location make sure that you protect your table settings and your candles.

♥ Even a light wind can blow out candles so if there is a chance of wind you should definitely use votive holders, hurricane lamps or fishbowls which will ensure that your candles remain lit.

♥ You can prevent your table coverings from blowing off by using heavy table items as centerpieces, such as large vases of flowers, potted plants or candles. If it is very breezy put large smooth pebbles on the corners of the table to secure the tablecloths or you could use garden twine to tie pebbles to the corners of the cloth. Another idea is to sew small weights into the seams to weight them down.

One thing I have not yet mentioned is the logistics of getting the Square decorated in time for your wedding reception. It is probably best to decorate the Square on the morning of your wedding. Ask a group of your friends and family to volunteer for this job as you and your fiance will prbably not have time to get involved yourselves on the morning of your wedding. Give them clear instructions for doing it and if possible have a trial run prior to the wedding so that you can plan out where your guests will sit and where the dancefloor should be.

Remember that if you are on a tight wedding budget it is possible to decorate the Village Square and keep your costs down. Try eBay for a lot of your decorating supplies as they are very affordable and will undoubtedly deliver them to you in Cyprus. To save money bulk buy items like citronella candles and garlands of greenery.

My final thoughts are that you don't have to go overboard on decorating the Village Square. You will find that the outdoor atmosphere creates its own magical atmosphere without too many embellishments. If you decorate it with some creativity you can add a romantic touch to your wedding by turning the Village Square into a unique setting for your wedding reception.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck with your wedding!

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Couples Saying "No Thanks" To £16,000 Wedding Budgets
Date: July 17, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Industry News & Planning

At long last couples are coming to their senses and realising that you don't have to break the bank to have the wedding of your dreams. According to a survey carried out by Halifax Bank one in four people think that an amount somewhere between £5,000 to £10,000 is adequate to spend on your wedding day.

This is good news for couples planning their weddings on smaller budgets as up until now £16,000 was the estimated cost of a wedding in the UK being bandied around by the wedding industry professionals. Having this huge figure looming over them from the outset of their wedding planning was enough to put a lot of couples off getting married in the past. The survey reveals that now only 9% of UK residents think that the £16,000 national average cost of a wedding is a reasonable amount of pay. Ian Corfield, head of Halifax Unsecured Personal Loans, says:

"Our survey suggests that there may be a change in opinion as to how much couples should spend. It may be that the costs typically involved have reached a level which is no longer considered reasonable."

To read the full article click here.

Although I can totally understand how easy it is to spend £16,000 on a wedding, I also think that with all of the budgeting tips, DIY options and money-saving ideas readily available on the internet couples have no excuse for inflating their budgets to huge proportions - they can achieve a memorable wedding on a smaller budget.

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Pets At Weddings - Tips For Getting Your Dog, Cat or Even Horse Involved!
Date: July 14, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Etiquette & Extended Family & Funny & Miscellaneous & Pets & Planning & Shopping & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

It’s all very well having butterflies or doves released at your wedding to symbolize the love, fidelity and union of your relationship but is it really wise to include your own pets in your wedding day? Are you just asking for trouble by choosing to include your pet in such a momentous occasion?

The Popular Trend

Dogs in particular are becoming the new untraditional participants in wedding ceremonies. They are either being entrusted with roles such as ring bearers, bridesmaids, and groomsmen or are simply present during the ceremony to bear witness to their owner’s nuptials. This is probably because dogs are the most socially acceptable pet to be seen out and about with in public and also because they can be trained quite easily to perform at your wedding.

When Jane McBride walks down the aisle in Chicago this September she has handed the role of ring bearer to her Mufasa, an 85-pound Akita-shepherd mix. She has already chosen Mufasa’s wedding attire - a multicolored bow tie that will hold the wedding rings. Jane admitted to the Chicago Tribune that she would never consider leaving Mufasa at home on her wedding day.

It’s not just dog-lovers who are including their pets in their weddings. Wedding planner Joey Lizotte, owner of Artisan, Cathedral City, helped to organize a wedding at a home in La Quinta in which a bridesmaid patiently held a gray-and-white cat during the vows. Also Gloria Steacy, an ordained minister and owner of Royal Wedding Gardens & Chapel in LaSalle, recalls a medieval theme wedding where the bride and groom's two cats sat in cages near the altar during the ceremony. It is fast becoming the new trend to include your pet in your wedding day. I have even read a story about a couple who had their horses attend their wedding! Throughout this article I have referred to “dog” as this is the more popular guest at weddings but you could easily substitute this for your own pet whether it’s a ferret or a goldfish -anything is possible! I have also referred to dogs as “he” - this is because my dog (who features in the wedding photo with me!) is a he, it’s not that I am excluding bitches when I make references to dogs.

One of the family!

According to Palmspringslife.com Mindy Weiss a wedding planner based in Los Angeles, who has coordinated the happy occasion for numerous celebrities, says that “I find that about 30 percent of my weddings involve pets.” Many couples consider their pets to be part of their family or their best friends so it is only right that their pet should be given a starring role in their wedding day. For their Californian wedding Myra and John Pugh had their 75-pound Akita-German shepherd mix dog Joy accompany a groomsman down the aisle sporting a collar of red roses and greenery. Palmspringslife.com reports that Joy wagged her tail in approval as the couple made their wedding vows. Myra said “She is a huge part of our life. During the wedding, she didn’t bark once. I think she knew that this was serious stuff.” If you are an animal lover then including your pet in your wedding day is no different to inviting your family and friends. Alice Moon-Fanelli, a certified applied animal behaviorist and assistant professor at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass. says “Including pets is a statement of solidarity by the couple who mutually agree that the pet plays a major role in both of their lives.”

An increasing number of modern couples are treating their pets as children. Sheila Spitza, co-owner of Wet Nose Pet Spa in Geneva, Illinois says "Couples don't have children, but they do have a dog, so it only makes sense that they would stand up in their wedding". According to Cleveland.com Laura and Bob Mutsko who tied the knot at St. Bede's Catholic Church in Mentor in 1999, had a traditional wedding ceremony but had their “only child” their 4 year old dog Murphy walk up the aisle with them and present their rings and sat amongst the congregation. “Several of the guests came just to see Murphy” Laura says.

Personally, I wanted to have photos taken with my dog on my wedding day and to spend some time with him on the morning of the wedding. This worked out perfectly and he looked very dapper in his tartan bow! Whilst everyone else rushed around me in a mad panic on the morning of my wedding I chilled out in the sunshine outside with my dog – he totally kept me calm. It was the perfect way to start my wedding day!

Evidence of the rise in popularity of dogs participating in weddings is the rapidly increasing sales at pet boutiques of dog tuxedos, miniature sequined wedding gowns, frilly bridesmaid dresses and dog-friendly ring bearer pillows.

Despite the fact that it has become more socially acceptable to make your pet a special part of your wedding day, do be prepared for raised eyebrows and disapproval from some disapproving wedding guests. Don’t worry about it though – in this day and age when themed weddings are bordering on the ridiculous having your dog walk you down the aisle should not shock your guests!

You’re in good company!

Although it is not the norm for couples to include their dogs in their weddings, be assured that it is not just wacky dog lovers who are doing it. Celebrities are indulging in this new trend too!

♥ When Premiership footballer Ashley Cole and singer Cheryl Tweedy get married tomorrow at Highclere Castle in Berkshire their pet chihuahua Buster will be playing a part in their wedding. Cheryl's Girls Aloud bridesmaids have bought Buster a wedding outfit with “Cheryl & Ashley” written on it in diamante.

♥ For her London wedding to Gavin Rossdale, singer Gwen Stefani was escorted down the aisle by her sheepdog Winston, who was decked out in a rose-covered collar and lead.

♥ Tori Spelling wanted her beloved pug Mimi Larue to look her best as she served as flower girl and ring bearer at Tori’s wedding, so she hired a special fashion designer to create her wedding outfit.

♥ Comedian and Hollywood star Adam Sandler had his dogs Matzoball (pulled down the aisle in a wagon) and Meatball at his Malibu wedding. Meatball was his “best dog” and was dressed in a tux with a yarmulke on his head.

Pink and Carey Hart even had their four dogs accompany them on their snowboarding honeymoon earlier this year.

Advantages of having your pet participate in your wedding day:

♥ I think it’s a lovely way to personalize your wedding day and to bring a smile to everyone’s faces. You don’t have to dress your pet in a tuxedo to raise a smile from your guests - the novelty of a pet being present at your wedding will be enough to make them smile.

♥ It makes your wedding less of a formal occasion and can lighten up the mood which is always a good thing. Weddings are not supposed to be somber affairs!

♥ If you do not have nieces, nephews or little ones to act as flower girls or page boys then a pet is a perfect alternative! In the same way they love to see a cute flower girl or page boy walking up the aisle, on the whole wedding guests do enjoy seeing a dog walk down the aisle - it brings a fun element to the wedding.

Get permission!

♥ The first thing to do if you plan to include your dog in your wedding party is to check with the officiant. Make it clear to them what your dog’s role in the wedding will be. Ensure that they are comfortable with this idea.

♥ Be warned, churches do not usually allow dogs unless they are accompanied by a blind person. If the officiant is not happy with your dog being part of the wedding ceremony try appealing to their better nature and remind them that dogs are God’s creatures so they too should be welcome in a church. It could be that the officiant is worried about the dog wreaking havoc or having a toilet incident. Reassure them and have them meet your dog if necessary.

♥ You should also check with your ceremony and/or reception venue whether dogs are allowed. This is really important and you should not leave something like this to chance on the day – refusal to allow your dog entry to the venue because you have not received permission prior to the wedding would cause unnecessary upset on your special day. Ask in advance so that you can either plan to include your dog in the wedding or make alternative arrangements for his care on your wedding day.

♥ Some venues will have banned dogs because of a prior bad experience at an event at their venue involving dogs. Depending on how badly you want your dog to be present at your wedding you could challenge this by taking your dog down to the venue, meeting with the owner and demonstrate to them how perfectly well-behaved and loveable your dog is!

♥ Something to consider in your wedding budget is that some indoor venues charge an extra fee for dogs (this is due to the extra cleaning they have to carry out afterwards to remove evidence of a dog having being there – hopefully just the dog’s hairs!).

♥ As a courtesy you should also check that the other members of your bridal party are comfortable with your pet dog being included in the wedding party. Remember that not everyone is a dog lover and some people are allergic to dog hairs. I will leave it up to you to deal with if one of your bridesmaids gives you an “It’s me or the dog” ultimatum!

♥ Inform the photographer that your dog is to be included in the wedding photos. Make sure they do not have a problem working with animals.

Ensure your guest’s comfort

♥ Make sure you inform all of your guests of the dog’s participation in your wedding. If you have a wedding website then this would be a great way of letting them know your dog’s role and perhaps even advertising for dog-helpers amongst the guests on the day!

♥ Be warned that some guests might refuse to participate in a wedding ceremony that includes dogs or other animals and some might be severely allergic to dog hair.

♥ Whilst not all of your guests might share you and your partner’s enthusiasm for having your dog be part of the wedding, they will appreciate you having forewarned them in case they do have an issue with it.

♥ Remember that your cute little dog has the potential to frighten some of your wedding guests. Make sure that your dog is kept well away from any guests with a fear of dogs - you want them to relax and enjoy your wedding day not grip their seats in terror!

Are they up to the job?

You must ask yourself if your dog is well-behaved enough to participate in your wedding. Be honest with yourself. Just as a cute dog will always be remembered on your wedding day, so too will a naughty unruly dog. You don’t want your wedding day to be spoilt by a doggie disaster!

Here are some points to consider:

♥ First and foremost think of your dog’s comfort. Will he be comfortable attending your wedding? Will he have to travel a long distance to get there? If the answer is he would be more comfortable at home, and if this is an option, then you should do what is best for your dog.

♥ You should assess how your dog reacts to large crowds and to noisy situations. Does it bother your dog? Do you think he would rather not be there? You know your dog so use your own judgment on this one.

♥ Does your dog have unpredictable behavior? Of course, like children, you cannot predict exactly how they are going to behave on the day of the wedding but if you have any doubts that the dog might get over-excited or aggressive it is best not to include them in your wedding ceremony.

♥ Is your dog well-trained? What is his obedience level? Does he respond to commands? A dog that has yet to master simple commands such as "sit" and "stay" might not be suitable to be included in your wedding. This is very important if you intend on giving them a role in the wedding where they are expected to follow orders (e.g. walk down aisle and wait patiently whilst you untie the rings from around his neck). Unless you are absolutely certain that your pet can be counted on to behave during your wedding ceremony then it might be better to have them participate in the wedding photos and leave it at that.

♥ Is your dog likely to get distracted as it walks down the aisle? It might be wise to keep even the best behaved wedding dog on a leash to prevent them from veering off the aisle and going to say hello to everyone. This is especially true if you are having your wedding ceremony in an outdoor location where other pets are present.

♥ Is your dog a lapdog? If so he might be likely to pester you or your partner to be picked up. Your dog may not understand why you cannot devote your attention to him as you usually do, so perhaps in this case it is best to leave him at home.

♥ Is your venue dog-friendly, or if not is it safe for your dog if you intend to let him wander at the reception? Is there a swimming pool which your dog might try jumping into?

♥ Is your dog a barker? If there are songs or music included during your ceremony, is this likely to bother your dog or is he used to this sort of noise? The last thing you want is your dog interrupting your ceremony.

♥ Does your dog jump up? Even dog-lovers may not appreciate a dog jumping up on them when they are in their best clothes.

♥ If you intend on having your dog present at the wedding reception, is he likely to steal guests’ food? Of course this can be prevented if they are kept under close scrutiny.

♥ If you have any doubts about your dogs ability to stop themselves from cocking their leg during an indoor wedding ceremony then you should definitely not consider including them in your wedding ceremony.

Wedding roles for your pet:

You should choose a role for your pet in your wedding which is appropriate to their temperament and behavior. A dog who is highly energetic will need to be kept on a leash throughout the wedding ceremony whereas a lapdog might be quite happy to be held by one of the wedding attendants/guests during the ceremony. Here are some ideas for roles in your wedding for your pet:

♥ The popular choice is to have your dog bring the rings down the aisle on a satin pillow or in a small bag tied to his collar. Bridalpeople.com have a really cute ring pillow which attaches to the collar with 2 Velcro fasteners. The pillow shown here is suitable for medium and large breed dogs but there are lots of smaller pillows available on the dog clothing stores listed below or on eBay. You could even make a pillow yourself.

♥ If your dog is really well trained he could carry the rings down the aisle in a pouch using his mouth – this is guaranteed to get gasps of delight from your wedding guests!

♥ How about having your pet accompany you to the altar. This might be a popular choice if the alternative for you or your partner is walking down the aisle alone.

♥ You could have your dog act as flower dog and carry flowers in his mouth or a basket of flowers if at all possible. Do make sure beforehand that they are not toxic to your dog and will not present a choking hazard to him.

♥ It is becoming popular nowadays for dogs to stand as maid-of-honor and best man. Have one of the other wedding attendants walk your dog down the aisle so that they can stand proudly next to you during the ceremony.

♥ Rather than carring a bouquet of flowers you could carry your dog (if he is small enough) down the aisle. Make sure that someone is willing to hold your dog during the ceremony though - you can’t exchange rings holding your pup!

♥ If your venue does not allow your pet to participate in your wedding then why not just have them included in your wedding photos. That is what I did as our wedding venue did not allow dogs. I had the best of both worlds as my dog got to have some fun meeting and greeting all the wedding guests in the gardens of the venue whilst the photos were being taken and then my bridesmaid’s mother kindly collected him and took care of him for the rest of the day, so I was able to relax knowing that he was being well taken care of!

♥ Do you own a pet which is small and quite patient? Would it be willing to sit in the arms of one of your wedding guests? If you think it would be safer and the pet would be more comfortable then keep them secured in their carrier during the ceremony.

♥ If you own a bird such as a parrot or cockatoo they could sit on a perch and be carried down the aisle by a willing helper.

♥ If you want your cat to be present for your wedding consider having him walked down the aisle on a leash or even carried on a decorative pillow or basket.

♥ As mentioned, dogs are the traditional choice of pets at weddings but if you have a smaller, less social pets such as a hamster, lizard, guinea pig or even snake which you desperately want to bear witness to your nuptials perhaps you could place its cage nearby as you exchange vows or have one of the (willing) wedding guests hold it during the ceremony!

Tips for getting the best out of your pet on your wedding day:

♥ If it is paramount to you that your dog plays a key role in your wedding then, for his comfort, perhaps you could choose a dog-friendly venue for the ceremony and/or reception. The ideal venue would be outdoor such as a park, arboretum, beach or somebody’s garden in their backyard!

♥ A lot of dogs can’t handle the heat so if it is a hot day either reconsider having your dog in your wedding party or ensure that they are able to sit in the shade or (even better) an air-conditioned room during the ceremony or reception until the sun has gone down. Do make sure that your dog has access to fresh water if it is a hot day.

♥ You should nominate one wedding guest or member of your bridal party to be in charge of your pet. They should be prepared for all eventualities during the wedding with a supply of dog treats (especially useful for bribery during the photo-taking session), poop bags and a plan to remove the dog from the venue if he becomes unruly or restless.

♥ Make sure that your nominated dog handler knows the key commands which your dog will obey, such as “Come,” “Sit,” “Stay,” “Down,” “Wait,” and “Quiet.” Have them practice with your dog prior to the wedding so that they become familiar with your dogs behavior and responses to commands and so that your dog can get to know them too! It is important that your dog becomes familiar with the nominated dog handler before the wedding day if possible.

♥ Sometimes it is best to draft in professional help to look after your dog. After all which member of your bridal party is going to want to scoop your dog’s mess of the lawn during your wedding reception! Delegating the pet-handling task to a professional will alleviate unnecessary stress on you, your partner and your wedding guests. You should definitely consider hiring a pet co-ordinator or pet-sitter who will be responsible for dressing your dog on the morning of the wedding, transporting him to and from the reception, ensuring he gets fed, watered and takes toilet breaks and deals with any antisocial doggie behavior. The hire cost depends on how long you need the dog handler for. For dog-handlers in the USA have a look at Petsitusa.com or for the UK try Petpals.com.

♥ If possible make sure your dog is familiar with the ceremony and reception spaces so that they know how to sit comfortably there. It is a good idea to include your dog in the rehearsal so that your dog can get to know strangers he will encounter during the wedding as well as his new surroundings. This is also a great way of checking out, from your dog’s point of view, what possible hazards there could be for your dog on the wedding day, including toxic plants, swimming pools or other animals which might distract him during the wedding ceremony.

♥ If you intend on having your dog sit in the receiving line then practice beforehand so that he gets used this. The earlier you start this sort of training the better.

♥ If you are getting married out of town remember to make sure that you book accommodation for your dog at a pet-welcoming hotel.

♥ It is important that whoever is handling your dog on the day of the wedding (whether it is a professional or one of your bridal party) is aware of the timings of key events in the wedding ceremony and reception. They need to have time to walk your dog and make sure that he is well exercised and has used up some of his energy so that he can walk calmly down the aisle or sit patiently during the ceremony.

♥ Avoid giving your dog too much food or water immediately prior to and during the ceremony. This will help to prevent unwanted toileting accidents!

♥ It is important to ensure that whoever is walking the dog down the aisle is strong enough to control the dog. The last thing you want is your bridesmaid being dragged down the aisle on the end of a dog leash Indiana Jones-style!

♥ Make sure that your dog is not permitted to run around unsupervised, especially if there are children present at your wedding that your dog is unused to. Your dog might behave like an angel usually but if he is provoked by a child wielding a stick up his bottom you don’t know how he might react!

♥ Have a plan in place that if your dog becomes tired or antisocial he can be discreetly taken away from the wedding ceremony or reception and cared for - this is a good reason to employ a professional dog-sitter as your attendance is not going to want to miss out on the wedding because of your dog!

♥ You must be flexible if you are including your dog in your wedding ceremony. Anything can happen and you have to be prepared for that, to have measures put in place to deal with dog emergencies and be able to laugh it off!

♥ Never cause your dog any unnecessary stress. If you feel it is necessary bring their cage with them so that they can be locked up safely and comfortably if your wedding proves to be a bit too much for them.

♥ If you have a totally unpredictable dog but you really want them to participate in your wedding, have a parent or friend lead to the alter to deliver your wedding rings during the ceremony and then they can lead the dog away immediately before he has a chance to do anything mischievous!

Wedding catering for your pet:

If you have included your dog as a wedding attendant then it is only right that they are given a treat like all of your other wedding guests. Here are a couple of ideas which are a bit more special than bonio dog biscuits:

♥ You could arrange to have a cake made for your dog (and any other canine guests) to enjoy at the reception made from dog-friendly ingredients such as beef chunks, chicken mince, rabbit etc.

♥ For designer dog treats take a look at the Bones-n-Scones website. They have a range of tasty sounding dog treats and meals ranging from cookies to “5-Star Mutt Buffet: a tasty assortment of meaty “mutt loaf” made with turkey, yams, and green peas”.

♥ According to Doggienews.com Chez Puppy, a gourmet dog bakery in California, sells dog wedding "ruffception" packs.

Wedding attire for your pet:

To help your dog look the part for your wedding, outfit them for the occasion. Some ideas for doggie wedding attire are:

♥ A simple bow tie, bandana or ribbon around your pet’s neck to match the color theme of your wedding (my dog wore a tartan ribbon for my wedding photos - very simple but incredibly cute!).

♥ A new collar and leash that match your wedding colors.

♥ A dog tuxedo, formal dress or t-shirt with printed words on it (see selection listed below). According to the owner of a dog wedding apparel store the bridesmaid’s gowns and ring-bearer tuxes are increasingly the best-selling items.

Tips for buying a wedding outfit for your pet:

♥ Wedding attire for pets can run anywhere from $30 to more than $100, depending on the embellishments and fabric you choose. Do try to choose fabric which is not going to irritate your dog.

♥ If your dog is part of your bridal party try to co-ordinate the color of their outfit with the rest of your attendants. A lot of the websites I have listed below will custom-make clothing for your pets in colors to match your wedding theme. Pawprintzpetboutique.com can customize a t-shirt for your dog in studs or rhinestones to spell out what you want it to say.

♥ Try to avoid putting flower arrangements around your dog’s neck as some of them are toxic to dogs (particularly lilies, daffodils and hydrangeas) and if they are constructed using wire this could injure the dog. An alternative is to decorate their leash with flowers and ribbons (à la Gwen Stefani) or add a corsage to the leash handle.

♥ If you are dressing your dog for your wedding, always ensure that the outfit is made of high quality fabrics that allow some stretch to ensure your dog’s comfort. You don’t want them squirming all the way through your ceremony!

♥ Check the outfit you propose your dog wears for beads and ribbons which could present a choking hazard to him. Definitely do not put human jewelry on your dog (obvious I know!).

♥ Remember that to properly fit your dog for a collar measure the inches around the dog’s neck and make sure you can fit two fingers under the tape measure.

♥ Practice dressing your dog to check what he will and will not tolerate! Buy the outfit and/or ring bearer pillow well enough in advance that your dog can become comfortable wearing it and moving around in it. Sometimes (particularly with larger dogs) it takes a bit of getting used to if they have never worn anything on their body before.

♥ If you want to dress your dog on a budget have a look on eBay as they seem to have a variety of dog attire ranging from $12. You don’t have to worry about it being a used item either - your dog is never going to know!

♥ Remember you cannot justify spending more on your dog’s outfit for the wedding than you do on your own - be sensible!

Entertaining pet clothing websites to check out:

♥ Have a look at Thepuppyshop.com. I love their classic dog tuxedo which includes a top hat too with an elasticated chin strap. Prices for this start at a very reasonable $14.99.

♥ How cute does this dog look! His outfit is from Doggiedesigner.com. They also sell mini tiaras for dogs!

♥ This cute little t-shirt (pictured above right) for your ring-bearing dog is available from Cafepress.com for $17.99.

♥ Cute dog t-shirts (pictured to the left) as well as tiaras and ruffled collars are available from Pawprintzpetboutique.com.

♥ Here are some of the other websites which I found which have cute pet outfits perfect for attending your wedding:
o Advantagebridal.com - they have a fantastic selection of cute outfits for dogs including angel wings, dog collars with “Maid of Honor, Best Dog, Ring Bearer” on them and t-shirts too.
o Charming Pet Products - they design jewelry and accessories for pets, with wedding-inspired collars, tiaras, and pooch pearls!
o Pawpalaceonline.com offer a really cute t-shirt with “Always The Bridesmaid" printed on it for $20.
o Pampered Pets Boutique - Tammy Peace creates custom make designer style wedding and pageant dresses for your small dog.

♥ Although there are not many wedding outfits available for cats, if your wedding day would be incomplete without kitty attending then you could either have an outfit custom-made or Kiittycity.com have this Top Hat & Tails Cat Costume available.

Personally I think that just the fact that your pet is attending your wedding will be cute enough for your guests so there is really nor a great need to dress them up in formal wedding attire. It is you decision though – do what you think is best for you and your beloved pet!

If you are unable to logistically include your pet in your wedding your alternative is to include them in some other way.

♥ You could include their picture in your wedding stationery or have a photo of them displayed at the reception.

♥ New York cake-maker Sylvia Weinstock topped a wedding cake for one couple with a replica of their dog. Perhaps having your pet adorning your wedding cake is a step too far!

Check out this fun article at Manolobrides.com which might help you to decide whether or not your pet should attend your wedding.

Unless you are absolutely certain that your pet can be counted on to behave during your wedding then it might be better to have them participate in the wedding photos and leave it at that.

Of course some dogs at weddings probably turn out to be better behaved than the human wedding guests! My opinion is that if your pet is important to you and your fiancé and I you don’t mind sharing your spotlight with a four legged friend, then embrace the new trend and include them in your wedding - it is your special day and you don’t want to have any regrets!

Futher Information On Pets And Weddings:

Harrods Wedding Service - For Dogs! - The “Puppy Love Package”
Two Dogs Marry In The US - Clinton Township, Michigan.

Related Posts :
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A Bit Of Fun From The Knot - How To Create Your Inner Bride!
Jennifer Hudson Says "I Do" To Having Her Dogs In Her Wedding Party!
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


20 Essential Wedding DJ Tips
Date: July 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Legal Matters & Music & Dance & Planning & Reception & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Venues

Music and entertainment are essential elements of your wedding reception and getting it right can make or break your wedding! It is a difficult decision to make with so many different varieties of bands, entertainers and DJs available. It is no wonder that so many couples have trouble deciding whether to have live music or a DJ for their wedding reception. It can be even more difficult to make the decision if you don’t know what you should expect these service providers to provide for your wedding reception.

Focusing on wedding DJs, we are all familiar with the stereotypical cheesy wedding DJ who embarrasses your guests and whose appearance and performance become a standing joke at your wedding! What should you be looking for when choosing a wedding DJ? Nina Callaway at About.com sums it up nicely when she says:

“Frequently a DJ or band leader will act as the MC of a wedding reception, which means you'll need them to be entertaining but not annoying, polished, friendly, and charismatic.”

For many couples, less time is spent on choosing the DJ than any other aspect of the reception - this can be a costly and disappointing mistake! Overlooking this aspect of your wedding planning is easy to do. However, choosing the right DJ is crucial to the success of your wedding reception and my top tips below should help you accomplish this:

1. Know what you really want in terms of music before you begin looking for a wedding DJ

This is crucial and is the simplest way to eliminate DJs that aren't quite right in the first round. If you and your fiancé are dreaming of classic Big Band sounds, be very up front about this the first time you talk to prospective DJs. A DJ who specializes in rock and pop music may be wonderful, but his play list will be limited when it comes to what you want, and you'll be disappointed.

I recommend you read “How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music” where I describe how wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests and I list four services that allow users to download and review a large selection of wedding songs.

2. Ask for references

Any DJ who consistently pleases his clients should be more than happy to provide you with contact details so that you can obtain recommendations from other satisfied customers. When you do this, be sure and ask the other customers when the reception took place - the references must be recent, not two years old! If the DJ has no recent references be sure to ask why this is. Additionally, if the DJ has a website (which is now the popular trend) you should take a look at it to see whether it contains any testimonials. You want to be sure that your DJ has a good reputation for overall conduct, interaction with guests, use of alcohol, punctuality and ability to work alongside other wedding service providers. I recommend that you check at least four references for your chosen DJ. In a business where any unqualified person can easily enter the DJ profession you need to do research to ensure that you hire someone that will provide you with a top quality service.

Obviously if you do your own research and start asking friends and recent newlyweds for DJ recommendations you have there the best type of reference possible! Do make sure that if a friend recommends a DJ to you that you check that you and your friend’s music tastes and expectations of a wedding DJ are similar!

Another idea is to ask the DJ if they can show you an example of their work by letting you see a video clip taken at another wedding where they have performed. Most DJ's nowadays will be able to provide you with an example of the quality and style of their performance.

You must ask the DJ how much experience they have had in this business. Has the majority of their work been at weddings, or is for the corporate market? These types of questions will enable you to determine whether they are the right person to perform at your wedding reception.

3. Always meet your DJ in person

Once you have whittled down your choice to 3 or 4 prospective wedding DJs it is recommended that you meet each one in person. This way you can check out their personality and general appearance, something you just can’t do properly over the phone. Finding out a DJ’s personality is very important (how many cheesy wedding DJs can you remember - far too many I bet!) as you definitely want your guests enjoying the music at your wedding rather than spending the night commenting on how bad the DJ is! By meeting with them in person you get an indication of whether they are punctual. You might find in some instances that the DJ fails to show up for your meeting - it is better to find out if they are unreliable in the planning stages rather than find this out to your detriment on your wedding day!

During your meeting with the DJ watch them to see whether they are paying attention to your specific requirements for your wedding music. Are they taking notes? Professional wedding DJs always have a pad and pen with them to jot down notes about what style of music is going to suit your wedding. No DJ has that great a memory that they can memorize all of your musical preferences!

4. Discuss your wedding song play list and look for flexibility

Is it your intention to have a DJ that will be proactive in getting the dance floor full right from the beginning of the evening or is a more laid back approach more your style for your wedding reception? Ask the DJ for a consultation several weeks before the reception and go over your song preferences with him in detail. Ask your DJ if he has a list of his music collection and if he would object if you highlight a few tracks that you would like him to play during the evening. A professional will take note of which songs you want to hear as well as which songs you don't want to hear. You will need to tell your DJ the wishes for special dances such as your first dance, the father and bride dance etc. Ensure that your DJ knows the flow of key moments throughout the wedding reception so that he can keep the music in synch.

Usually DJs are willing to take requests from wedding guests on the night but you should ask about this specifically beforehand. Ultimately you want your DJ to be flexible but some DJs use pre-programmed music which might make it difficult for them to accommodate your guests' requests.

If you imagine that your DJ will be working for approximately 4 hours and each song is 4 minutes long - that is a total of 60 songs that will be played. Whilst you will want your special songs played you should rely on the DJ to determine the best musical taste to get people on the dance floor. Your DJ will know songs that have worked at weddings in the past. The family and friends you invite to your wedding probably vary in age from 5 to 85 years old. It is quite a task to cater to all tastes with wedding music but that is exactly what you are expecting of your wedding DJ. An experienced DJ will know when to play which kind of music. They will take note when your guests arrive of what type of music suits the crowd. Ask the DJ what their tricks are for encouraging and motivating people to dance. Can you get a sense from them that they are able to “read” a dance room – can they give you examples of which songs they would use in different circumstances?

Have these open discussions with your DJ and ensure you are on the same wavelength to avoid any confusion on the day. It is important that you discuss the types of artists and styles of music you enjoy - remember your DJ isn’t a mind reader! You want to be able to form a good relationship with your wedding DJ. Does he listen to your suggestions? Does he offer you his professional opinion or simply agree with everything you say?

5. Ensure your DJ’s music is up to date

Make sure that your DJ has a wide range of music including the most recent chart-topping songs. Beware of amateur DJs who claim that they can obtain any song that you want for your wedding by downloading it online. Even though you and I might obtain our music from internet downloads, this is definitely not the approach a professional DJ should take. Nowadays all professional wedding DJs subscribe to paid services such as Promoonly.com and Tophitsusa.com so that they can be sure to have the most up-to-date song releases on a weekly or monthly basis. Your DJ should have a wide range of music including the most recent songs in the charts and you can check this by asking to see their latest CDs and verifying their release dates. Do provide the DJ with a list of specific songs which you want to be played at your wedding so that he can source them out prior to the wedding reception if he does not have them in his current music collection.

6. Ask the DJ about his professional status

Don't be hesitant to ask a DJ if you can check their credentials. Most professional DJs will be a member of the American Disk Jockey Association (ADJA), so ask them for proof of membership to confirm this.

It is also really important that you check that your DJ has public liability insurance. If one of your wedding guests trips over a cable that the DJ has not taped down to the floor or if a speaker falls on top of a guest then it will be the DJ they look to for compensation. Ask to see a copy of their insurance cover.

Make it clear to your DJ that you don’t want any self-promoting signs for his services displayed at your wedding - this is your wedding reception not a school disco! Sometimes a DJ will ask if he can display a sign or have business cards on display. This is totally up to you - you have to ask yourself if you want your wedding to be used as a place to market the DJs services. Some brides and grooms object to this and some agree a reduction in the DJs fee in exchange for the prominent display of their advertising sign.

7. Does the DJ perform emcee duties?

Although this seems obvious, there are some DJs, particularly if you are using a non-professional DJ, who simply play the music at the wedding. If you want the DJ to make announcements, such as the introduction of the newlyweds’ first dance, the cake cutting or the bouquet being tossed, and act as an overall emcee during the evening entertainment be sure to check that they are comfortable doing this. It takes years to build up experience as a DJ of speaking into a microphone. If you are unable to get an opportunity to see the DJ performing live, ask to see a video clip. For a wedding you need to choose someone who has a fun personality and a professional delivery for announcements.

8. What music format does your DJ use?

You should ask your wedding DJ whether they will be playing CDs, MP3s or even vinyl records. This is important as you need to know that they have a back-up plan if their sound system fails - you don’t want to have to wait for your first dance as man and wife whilst the DJ reboots the PC attached to his mixing desk! Most DJs have progressed into the digital era nowadays.

9. Ensure your DJ knows the dress code

Always ask about how they intend to dress on the day of your wedding. Your DJ should always dress in a manner that is appropriate for the occasion. Whilst this does not mean that he must wear a tuxedo you do not want the other extreme of him turning up in shorts and sandals! The DJ is a service provider on your wedding day so should always be neatly dressed. If you are having a themed wedding make sure you have informed your DJ so that they can fit in as best they can with the theme of your wedding.

10. Ask about emergency arrangements

It is any DJs worst nightmare that the sound system fails during a performance. It is really important that you ask your DJ beforehand if he has any backup equipment available for use in case there is a problem during your wedding reception. Although it doesn't happen often, equipment can fail, and if it happens on the night of your reception and it is the only set your DJ has, you may find yourself faced with a night without music!

Also, discuss what alternative arrangements will be made in the event that the DJ you hire is sick or unavailable for your wedding reception. Will he provide a back-up DJ that is suitable for the occasion? It is vitally important that you get the reassurance that you are covered in the event of a problem – this should be fully dealt with in your contract too. If you book an active member of the American Disc Jockey Association they are more likely to know a fellow professional that can take over in the event of an emergency. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to have a full backup plan!

11. Does your DJ own quality audio equipment?

A professional DJ will generally have spent over $10,000 on their equipment and will be proud to discuss the technical side if asked. I recommend that you ask them which brand of equipment they use – you should look out for names including Crown, Denon, ElectroVoice, JBL and QSC as these demonstrate your DJ is serious about DJing . The mention of names like American DJ, FBT, Gemini, MTX, NEXT, Peavey Sound and Tech should make you a little more cautious because they are poorer sound quality. By finding out the brand names of the DJs equipment you will quickly be able to gauge the quality of their audio equipment and this should help you to decide whether or not you want to use their services for your wedding reception. Proper equipment will give good sound quality that will not be disturbing for your wedding guests. There is nothing worse than being seated next to a speaker at a wedding that is producing poor sound quality. Like anything though the use of top quality equipment does not guarantee that the DJ is a huge success, but at least you will know that you will be listening to professional quality sounds for starters!

12. Will your DJ be using a wireless microphone?

Wireless microphones work well at weddings and allow the DJ to roam the dance floor without tripping over a chord. This is great as it gives them the flexibility to teach wedding guests all the steps to a group dance. Sometimes DJs prefer sticking with a chord microphone because they are more likely to get interference from a wireless microphone. Personally I think that this is a bit of a cheap get-out because if their sound system is properly setup with today's technology they generally should not get a problem when using a wireless microphone. If you have a preference discuss this with your DJ beforehand.

13. Has the DJ worked at the venue before?

Do ask your DJ whether they have performed at your choice of wedding reception venue before. Although this is not essential, the more familiar they are with the layout and staff at your chosen venue the better. If they have not played there before, it is best to meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the specifics of setting up the DJ table, dance floor location and speaker positions.

14. Does your DJ understand the best way to set up speakers at your venue?

Always ask your DJ how many speakers they intend on using. As a bare minimum there should be a subwoofer or a pair of speakers positioned on the ground and a pair on stands. Anything less will cause problems - having two speakers solely on the ground will produce a muffled sound and lack of clarify when announcements are being made. Equally a pair of speakers on stands is great for microphone clarity but won’t be ideal for the music as this will sound hollow.

If your reception room is large you should ask your DJ whether he will be using far-field speakers. These are ideal for throwing the sound further than normal speakers and are essential if you are dancing outside. Ask your DJ whether he intends to perform sound checks prior to the entertainment commencing.

Ideally you will meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the actual positions for the speakers. If there are hard surfaces like marble ask them how they are going to overcome issues such as acoustical echoes. Solutions to overcome this problem could be as simple as setting the ground speakers so that they point upwards at 45 degrees. If the speakers are obtrusive or ugly looking, feel free to ask your DJ if they can be covered to make them less visible.

15. How much time will your DJ need for setting up?

Normally the DJ will need at least an hour to set up his equipment at the reception venue. Check with your DJ whether this will be sufficient for his requirements beforehand and let the wedding venue know if he needs more time. It is important that if you are eating your meal in the same room as the dance floor, you arrange for there to be a time lapse between the end of the meal and the tables being cleared to the evening entertainment commencing. Usually guests are quite happy to mingle in the bar area or stretch their legs outdoors after the meal.

16. Who pays for your DJ's food?

Feeding the DJ is often overlooked but it is necessary. They are providing a wedding service for you so you should definitely feed and water them during the course of the wedding reception - you don’t want them wilting halfway through the evening’s entertainment! I would not recommend adding another cover to your wedding breakfast total (that's far too expensive and totally unnecessary). You should arrange to provide the DJ with a smaller meal that is quite inexpensive - you can pre-arrange this with your catering manager and confirm this with the DJ. Alternatively, if you have a wedding buffet in the evening you can let the DJ know that they are welcome to help themselves to it - within reason!

17. Will your DJ provide a lighting system?

Before you even get into a conversation about lighting systems you must be very confident that your DJ can deliver on the music front first. Why? - because it is the music and the DJ’s emcee skills that are most important! Once you have chosen your ideal DJ then you can discuss the lighting with them.

Most DJs will be able to offer an intelligent lighting system which is choreographed with the music. This is much more sophisticated than the old days where a few flashing lights and a mirror ball constituted a lights show! Typically most DJs offer a basic lighting system within their fee but if it is within your wedding budget you could pay extra and upgrade. How about an amazing light show that includes your names and those of your guests projected in laser light on the wall as their names are announced at the reception! That is a little over the top for me, but there are other variations available with the lighting - discuss it with your DJ. Undoubtedly he will have plenty of options he can tell you about.

18. How much will your DJ cost?

Everyone with one eye on their wedding budget wants to cut their costs down, but make sure that you are not selling yourself short by drafting in a bargain-priced DJ - you might be paying for what you are getting in this instance! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are paying over the odds for your DJ because all that they are being paid for is to play music for 4 hours! Professional DJs will have invested a lot of time in your wedding prior to your actual wedding reception. Typically they will be spending between 10 to 20 hours consulting with you, purchasing the music, editing, preparing, setting up the equipment, packing up the equipment and other administrative tasks.

DJ prices can vary enormously and it is important to realize that a lot of couples say in hindsight that they wished they had spent more of their wedding budget on the entertainment. Research shows that you can spend between $400 and $3200 on a wedding DJ, but in general $1200 for 4 hours is the average for a professional DJ.
You will generally pay more if you hire a DJ as part of a wedding venue's package deal compared to finding your own DJ and paying them directly.

19. Ensure you include all the details in the contract

Finally, after choosing your wedding DJ, do remember to get everything in writing. Most DJs provide formal contracts. Make sure that any changes you have requested are attached to the contract and ensure that it is signed before you proceed any further. The contract should include a clause regarding what happens if the reception overruns - will there be extra charges and what will they cost? The contract must specifically state the name of the DJ who you have requested for your wedding day - you don’t want someone else from the same company but who you have never met before. Remember to confirm the arrangements with the DJ in a phone call during the week preceding your wedding.

20. How to find a DJ online

Hiring a wedding DJ in the US :

Wedj.com - Use this site to search for a wedding DJ in the US, using postcode and date filters.

Weddings.Respond.com - Respond’s Directory lists the top wedding DJ businesses in your area, organized by category and location.

Discjockeys.com - Search for prescreened and member referred wedding disc jockeys.

Gigmasters.com - Search within the US and Canada using your city and state. Select from thousands of wedding DJs for hire.

AllTimeFavorites.com - Browse this site for DJs in the US.

Hiring a wedding DJ in the UK :

UK-Disco.co.uk - Comprehensive UK list of wedding DJ and karaoke services in your area.

Hitched.co.uk - Review featured local services for music and DJs, with listings categorized by county.

Musicmoz.org - Search this comprehensive directory of all things music including DJs, edited by volunteers.

The sooner you book your DJ the better. You should definitely aim for having a DJ booked no later than 9 months in advance of your wedding day if you want to guarantee a professional DJ service in your local area. Do be aware that if your wedding is held in a major city, it is wise to book even earlier than this as, not surprisingly, the best DJs will be booked at least a year in advance. Likewise with weddings falling on major holidays, such as Christmas - the earlier you book the better.

I totally recommend that you also read the advantages of using an iPod for your wedding music entertainment, and Nina’s article on the Pros and Cons of Choosing a DJ or Wedding Band so that you can make a well informed decision on whether you really want a wedding DJ, as opposed to a band or going the DIY route and using your own iPod!

If you follow these steps you will have a memorable wedding reception that everyone will enjoy! Good luck.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.

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Discover The Top Ten Wedding Day Gripes, Gaffes And Mistakes!
Date: July 06, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Etiquette & Funny & Guests & Planning & Traditions & Customs


I attended an evening wedding reception last weekend and whilst the ceiligh band was fantastic fun, when the DJ arrived and his first song choice was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, myself and most of the other wedding guests inwardly cringed and slunk off the dance floor! Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at the wedding reception but as the Oscar-winning Titanic theme tune about a couple separated by death was droning on it got me thinking about how easy it is for simple wedding gaffes to affect guests’ enjoyment of the wedding day!

Every couple want their guests to enjoy their wedding day as much as they themselves do, but no matter how much consideration is put into making those pre-wedding planning decisions there is always going to be something which ticks off some of your guests. Usually the newlyweds are unaware of these glitches in their wedding planning which affect the guests' enjoyment of the day until after the event. I know that I was completely unaware of the fact that a large proportion of guests at my own wedding missed out on the evening buffet because the hotel had mistakenly set it up in the wrong room, so other (uninvited) hotel guests were helping themselves to the food that we had bought and paid for! Latterly the hotel apologized for this gaffe on their part but nothing can assuage my guilt at the thought that some of my friends and family had to dance away the rest of my wedding reception with rumbling tummies!

Just take a look at theknot.com’s article “The Great Gripefest Where Guests Tell All” where honest guests reveal the best and worst about weddings they have attended. It makes interesting (and amusing) reading for anyone planning their own wedding as it gives an invaluable insight into what can potentially ruin the fun for wedding guests.

Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts from the article:

"I dread those receiving lines with about ten people in them, including the entire wedding party. I suppose it's great for the very few guests who know the bride and groom's families and all of their wedding party pals. But most of us just want to congratulate the couple and their parents. Unfortunately, you always get stuck making chitchat with a stranger in a bridesmaid dress who doesn't particularly care who you are, either, while the people in front of you hug the bride." --Margaret, 42, Sarasota, FL
"I hate that dorky Chicken Dance. It's not a nice thing to put your guests through. I have never heard someone say that they liked everything about a wedding but missed doing the Chicken Dance; but I have heard people speak with dread about the impending possibility of being subjected to this 'tradition' at some point in the night." --Elizabeth, 25, Frederick, MD
"I hate cash bars. It's like sending your wedding present COD." --Susan, 28, New Fairfield, CT

I researched what the most frequent wedding gripes given by wedding guests are. Here are the top 10 most popular:

1. Cheesy wedding music choices (I definitely agree with this one!)

2. Wedding speeches that go on for longer than 5 minutes – it is a proven fact that wedding guests’ attention spans starts to waver after anything more than 5 minutes

3. Seating Arrangements at the reception - sitting guests on their own on a “misfits” table where they do not know anyone just shows a lack of thought on the couples part during planning

4. Guests having to drive long distances between the ceremony and reception - transportation should be provided by the bride and groom if the two venues are located far apart

5. Traffic jams in the receiving line so you end up having to make small talk with a random bridesmaid!

6. Large time gaps in between the ceremony and food being served – you should always provide drinks, snacks and sometimes even entertainment if there is going to be a long wait before your wedding meal commences

7. Obtrusive centerpieces on the tables at the reception venue which obstruct guests’ views – try to limit the height and width of these as although they are talking points in themselves you don’t want to prevent your guests from actually being able to comfortably talk to each other!

8. Cash bars are definitely the biggest wedding gaffe - guests feel that they should not have to pay for their own drinks at a wedding

9. Newlyweds who forget to greet their guests personally – although you can’t have full-blown conversations with each and every guest during your wedding day it is crucial that you at least acknowledge them

10. The tradition of cake smashing – guests are all agreed that they definitely do not consider it fun to watch couples smash cakes into one another’s faces – it makes them very uncomfortable so try to avoid this gaffe!

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Top Tips From Brides.com - Planning Small To Large-Scale Weddings
Date: July 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Planning

When planning your dream wedding one of the first decisions you need to make is what scale of wedding can you afford to have. Sometimes it is not just a small budget which dictates how many guests you can invite to witness your special day, the size of your chosen venue can also restrict your decision as to whether you can plan a large-scale wedding. Have a look at this article at Brides.com. It covers 3 real-life weddings on 3 different scales and budgets.



The first wedding is a very small-scale low-key wedding with just 8 guests in San Francisco. The second wedding has a Rat-Pack theme and took place in Las Vegas with 90 guests present. This story has a fantastic quirky surprise for the guests! The third wedding they report on is a large-scale "regal and romantic" wedding with 225 guests in New York city. At the end of each of the 3 editorials there are fabulous handy tips on how to achieve small, medium or large-scale weddings. Enjoy reading!

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"Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding" - A Fantastic Guide For All Brides!
Date: June 01, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Books & Checklists & Planning & Shopping

With so many wedding planning books out there, it really isn’t easy for a bride to find one that will reliably hold her hand through the 12 months prior to her wedding. If you search on the term “wedding planning” in Amazon.com you are presented with nearly 700 book titles!

Thus I am pleased to recommend a book that is definitely a cut above the rest, meaning you can buy with complete confidence.

The book is called “Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding”,, written by Joyce Scardina Becker and published by St. Martin's Press. I first came across Joyce on the expert panel at the blog Herecomestheblog.com whilst writing a recent review of four top wedding blogs. Joyce runs a wedding planning and design company based in San Francisco called Events of Distinction, catering for the Who’s Who list of influential luminaries.

I continually receive questions from brides on checklists and wedding planning advice and from now on I will always be advising the purchase of this superb 310 page book!

The beauty of "Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding” is that it is arranged on a 52 week timeline, thus guiding you through the all important milestones. Each task is broken down into a manageable chunks of information, ensurung you won't miss anything as you approach your big day.

Joyce has received many excellent reviews, including this one from Diane Forden, Editor in Chief of Bridal Guide magazine:

"Joyce Scardina Becker's experience as a wedding consultant is obvious on every page of this book. Her insight, invaluable advice and smart ideas are sure to ease the wedding planning process for help engaged couples everywhere."

And also this review from Antonia van der Meer, Editor in Chief of Elegant Bride and Modern Bride magazines.

“Today’s bride faces so many important decisions, from selecting the dress of her dreams to making sure every last detail of her big day is picture perfect. Joyce Scardina Becker’s book is a well-organized, thoughtful and enormously helpful guide to the modern bride seeking thorough and creative solutions to wedding planning.”
Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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7 Secrets To Finding The Right Wedding Consultant!
Date: May 30, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Planners & Planning

So you want to hire a wedding consultant!

A great place to start is here. Use the map to locate a certified wedding consultant in the US, Canada, England and my home country Scotland - quick plug!

A wedding consultant can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in planning your dream wedding. Finding an excellent consultant in your area can be a daunting task, but once you find her, you'll be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that your wedding is in capable, professional hands.

A professional wedding consultant helps you plan, organize and orchestrate your wedding and reception so that you can forget about the details and really enjoy the months leading up to your big day. She becomes not only your planner but your advocate - running interference with vendors, negotiating contracts and protecting your interests.

To make sure you are hiring someone who will work well with you and for you, keep these successful hiring secrets in mind:

1. It's not always about being the biggest. Look for "hidden treasures" :

Many wedding planners who advertise with splashy ads are reputable, professional experts, but there are also some who prefer to get there business by word of mouth only. Have you attended a beautiful wedding recently that was flawlessly executed? Ask around - if a wedding planner was behind it, request their card or phone number.

2. Vendor referrals are vital :

If a wedding consultant is happy to give you referrals from happy brides, but balks at giving you the names of vendors she works with, don't use her. A truly great wedding consultant should be more than willing to give you the names of at least four vendors she works with on a regular basis. Call them and ask about their relationship - do they work well together? Is she clear with her instructions and does she get the orders for her weddings in on time? Are there a lot of last minute problems or is she one of their favorite consultants? Would they recommend her? Trust us, the relationship with the vendors matters!

3. Does the consultant have a back-up in the event of an emergency?

If your consultant is sick or injured on your big day, you don't want to discover that she's asked her inexperienced cousin to step in. Make sure she has a trained assistant or associate who will not already be scheduled for another event that same day and time.

4. What budget ranges does the consultant work with?

Do not allow any wedding consultant to be evasive on this issue! Some will say, "I will work with almost any budget within reason." Translated, this could mean she will try to talk you into something more than you can afford down the line. Be very clear on what you are willing to spend and demand that she be very clear on what is included in her fee. Ask for a cost break-down in writing. What is included in her fees? Are periodic updates included? How many meetings with you and how often? Does it include her presence at the rehearsal, ceremony and reception? For how long?

5. A written contract is a must :

This is so basic that there is nothing to elaborate on, except that if there are any changes made over time, you must insist that they be added to the contract in writing and signed and dated by both parties.

6. A good wedding consultant should belong to a professional organization :

Ask which organizations she belongs to. Two that are very good include The Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants and The Association of Bridal Consultants. You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints about the consultant.

7. Consider the consultant's personality :

You will be spending a lot of time working with this person over the coming months! If you feel comfortable with her and know that she sees your vision for your wedding, you will get fabulous results and love your wedding. However, if you have the feeling that she is trying to push you toward something more in line with her vision for your wedding, don't give in because she is the "expert." It is your wedding! Pass the pushy consultant by and find one who fits your own dreams!

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When And How To Invite Guests To An Out Of State Wedding
Date: April 26, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Checklists & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Traditions & Customs

Hi Everyone,

This morning I had this question relating to sending out wedding invitations:

" I am having an out of state wedding, 9 hours away. When is the best time to send out my save a date cards for my October wedding, I have put inside my cards, hotels that are giving my guest's a discount on their rooms. I want my guests to have enough time to plan in advance. Aso when should i send out my wedding invitations?"

This was my reply:

- Thank you for your question.

I have always thought that the traditional 8 weeks before a wedding to send out invitation cards was a little short. I guess in times gone by people may have had less choice and commitments in their lives, who knows, but it does seem we are all so much more busy nowadays and people can go on holiday all times of the year.

When I got married 6 years ago in Scotland, I was living in England and the majority of people were traveling up from there. I know it isn’t another state but even with 7 hours driving to a place most had never been to I wanted to take as much stress out of the situation as possible. Thus when I sent the invitations I included a map of the town and a list of the different places they could stay. I also included my own descriptions (tried to make it funny!) and my review of places to eat in the town as many were making their stay in Scotland part of a week’s holiday.

I had a lot of good positive feedback on this, because it showed I cared and though I couldn’t make the bookings (nor would I want to get involved) I outlined everything they might need as well as I could. For example many guests were bringing children and thus I had a section on where they might take them for an afternoon. I felt like I was working for the Scottish Tourist Board !

I would imagine if people are traveling to your wedding they will be staying more than the one day and thus the help and advice you can give will be very much welcomed. I never sent save the date cards because I had spoken to everyone I really wanted at the wedding to ensure they had nothing booked on that date – I just sent the invitations and my booklet 4 months before the wedding. I know this isn’t traditional but as they say in the UK – “horses for courses” – maybe you also have that expression in the States.

In your case I would send out the save a date cards with your hotel info during May or June, I always think the earlier the better because this gives guests the opportunity to shop on the internet for cheap flights etc. You can then send your invitations out 8 weeks before the wedding.

I hope this helps.

Ultimately go with what feels best for you, modern weddings vary so much from traditions and customs set hundreds of years ago!

Good Luck

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Free Wedding Tips That Will Guarantee A Hugely Successful Wedding
Date: April 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Checklists & Miscellaneous & Planning

The other day I was in our local WHSmith shop in Fife and I counted more than 11 wedding magazines. It seems online and offline there is all the advice you could ever want! In fact I quickly started counting the number of magazines for popular sports and hobbies like golf, computers and digital photography and none of them came close to the popularity of weddings.

I guess the great thing about the internet is the amount of free advice online. When I married in April 2000 the Net was certainly well established but it still seems there are a lot more quality wedding sites. With so many resources out there it may seem crazy that I’m about to mention another one, but I truly believe the following 78 wedding tips will really help you in your wedding day planning. First of all they are free and secondly they are short and get right to the point. Certainly the testimonials prove that many brides are finding them very helpful.

You will also receive a free "Wedding Dress Ideas" report you can download and read at your leisure.

Pop over to here and discover 78 free wedding tips that will make a real difference!

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Get Married In Gretna - Just Make Sure You Know Your A74 (M) And M10
Date: March 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Legal Matters & Planning & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Venues

The A74 (M) might not mean much to many brides but for some of the 5000 married at Gretna Green in 2005 it will have been final road on their route to a wonderful married life!

As I make my frequent journey from Scotland to England I always try to imagine what it must feel like to be approaching Gretna on your wedding day, knowing that this is the marriage capital of the UK.

For those of you that can’t quite picture where Gretna is take a look at this link from Streetmap.co.uk

Just above Carlisle you will see “Hadrian’s Wall” , the border between Scotland And England.

Back in 1753 Lord Hardwicke passed a Marriage Act that if both parties were under the age of 21 they had to seek consent from their parents to get married. Thus this started the trend of young couples eloping to Scotland where this Act did not apply. In fact in Scotland as long as a girl was over 12 and the boy over 14 they could get married, with or without parental consent. This though was changed in 1929 when the The Age of Marriage Act 1929 (applying in Scotland, England & Wales but not in Northern Ireland) stated that both boy and girl had to be at least 16 years, still though no consent was required by their parents. Having read the General Register Office for Scotland web site they quote:

According to one early 20th-century source*, marriage in Scotland at such young ages was in practice almost unknown. No doubt if marriages between children had become common, there would have been public pressure to raise the legal minimum age of marriage earlier than 1929.

So there you have it couples have been speeding up and down the A74 (M) for over 250 years to get married before their parents found out!

Well maybe not so much now but the romantic idea is there all the same - for me anyway!

It takes over 5 hours to drive from London and the surrounding counties to Gretna so thinking back when ones only mode of transport was a horse it seems the trek to wedded bliss must have been quite a journey! We have it so easy nowadays.

I wanted for just a few minutes to imagine how easy it would be to arrange a marriage at Gretna Green. I have this notion that you can just turn up and get married, but deep down know this isn't the case.

So how easy is it to get married in Gretna, is it the answer to avoiding all the stress that far too many brides feel in the build up to their wedding day?

My first port of call was Google, as with most things on the internet.

It appears that main authority site on the subject of getting married in Gretna is GretnaWeddings.com. There seems to be a ton of information but the one page I was drawn to was the step by step guide to getting married at the Anvil Hall. Here is a link to the all important seven steps.

Scanning down the steps I found that number 7 states:

The two Marriage Notice Forms can be submitted up to 3 months and no later than 15 days before the wedding.

Thus any eloping bride and groom must firstly stop to read the small print and do some form filling before packing their bags and hailing a cab, bus, train or jet! In fact it is seriously recommended that you read these guidance notes before filling in a M10 Marriage Notice Form each. Further good bedtime reading can be found at this official Getting Married in Scotland Guide.

The GretnaWeddings.com web site also offers a number of packages you can choose from. Take a look at this page and choose from the Solway, Heather, Tartan, Highland, and Thistle wedding packages. The Thistle package seems to include everything you could imagine, apart from the reception - things certainly seem to have changed since 1753!

I could go on but one last thing, if the thought of motoring up the M6 and A74 (M) to catch a glimpe of a romantic wedding at Gretna seems to much - why not use this webcam to book a seat for the next wedding, I'm hoping there is one at 3 !

As ever good luck with all your wedding planning and if you are getting married at Gretna please let me know.

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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 Avoid Wedding Chaos - Maybe!
Date: October 28, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Checklists & Miscellaneous & Planning & Stress & Unique Ideas

I came across the following today that could certainly help out some brides when it comes to avoiding total wedding chaos...

Just imagine for a second a place where:

♥ Bridesmaids can find out their latest color selections and shoe styles.

♥ Groomsmen can find where and when to show up for their fittings.

♥ Guests can easily download maps to rehearsals and wedding showers.

♥ You as the bride can quickly find phone numbers to all of your suppliers.

♥ Where you can share pictures taken throughout the build up, during the wedding and after.

♥ Where family members can be introduced to the members of the other family all before running into them at a reception, shower or fitting.

♥ Where family and friends living out of town can get the latest information and feel connected to the wedding. Where also they can be directed to any lodging arrangements made for their visit.

Well all this and a lot more can be possible if you invest in "The Wedding Web Book". This ia a place for engaged couples offering them a single location for everyone involved to stay coordinated.

Outstanding features include:

♥ The ability to save on printing and postage costs by letting your guests R.S.V.P.

♥ To make menu selections online.

♥ To ability to enable guests to sign the guestbook and leave a personal message to the soon to be bride and groom.

Even after the wedding:

♥ This product can change as happy couple blossoms and grows.

♥ It evens allows you to have a joint database for holiday, birthday, anniversary and special occasion greetings as a couple.

So what exactly is "The Wedding Wed Book", I hear you ask?

In a nutshell it's:

♥ your very own wedding website,

with the following benefits:

♥ registration of your chosen domain name,

♥ a press release,

♥ email addresses for the wedding party,

♥ web-based email access,

♥ 24x7 helpdesk,

♥ updates throughout the ramp-up to the wedding,

♥ and the posting of digital photos before and after the nuptials.

Well for the techie ones amoungst you this could be the perfect vehicle for planning your wedding, certainly worth a look at Engraft.net. It could just be the answer to wedding chaos as we know it!

Would love to hear from anyone that uses this service and particularly if it really did save you time and effort.

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Wedding Ring Not A Boxing Ring!
Date: October 19, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Funny & Photography & Planning

When it comes to planning a wedding you should try to consider everything in your life that might make your choosen date unsuitable.

This is clearly something tough fighter Andrew Facey clearly forgot to do.

It so happened that his chance to compete for a world title was scheduled for six days before his wedding!

This was one fight he clearly wasn't going to win. Tina his fiance was pulling no punches.

"She looked at me and replied instantly: 'No chance'!

Can you imagine how he might have looked for the wedding photographs with black eyes and other post-match injuries - people would think that there had been a brawl at the wedding!

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Timings: Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 17, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Catering & Planning & Reception

This is my third and final part to the question on comparing wedding breakfasts to buffets.

Firstly I compared both in the context of budget, you can read this earlier post here. Secondly I compared both from the view point of catering, what exactly will you and your guests be eating during the day. You can read my comments on this by clicking here.

This third post on the subject focuses on the actual timings of wedding breakfasts and buffets:

♥ You need to consider the time of the day of your reception. General meal times for weddings are:

o Wedding Breakfast or Buffet served sometime between 12.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

o Canapés/ hors d’ouvres/finger foods served sometime between 8.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

o Dessert and coffees served sometime between 9.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

♥ When considering what time to commence your reception you should bear in mind that some wedding guests, and attendants for that matter, really appreciate an early start to the wedding day as opposed to having to wait around for the celebration to commence.

♥ However, if you have a large amount of guests who have decided not to arrive in town the night before your wedding then a later start to the wedding ceremony and reception will allow them more travel time.

♥ The advantage of choosing a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception it that it allows your guests a chance for a break in between the festivities.

o Although the wedding reception can seem to go quickly for the bride and groom, the overall day can be a long one for your guests, particularly those who have traveled a considerable distance to attend your wedding.

o Typically a wedding reception should rarely last longer than 4 hours at a time. Guests usually need a breather after this from all of the celebrating to recharge their batteries. A couple of hours break after the wedding breakfast also gives the catering staff time to clear away and prepare the venue room for the evening reception (allowing the DJ to set up, setting up the evening buffet, re-arranging tables and chairs, re-stocking the bar in the venue room, setting up the dance floor if necessary). A couple of hours break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception can be beneficial to you and your fiancé too. You could arrange to take some formal photographs, freshen up, mingle with your guests or just chill out and enjoy some downtime before the evening reception.

o It might be an idea to provide a hospitality suite at the reception venue so that your guests can enjoy a drink, freshen up and wait for the evening reception to begin. If your budget allows for it an idea is to provide a tea reception for your guests in the interim period, serving them pastries, cakes, tea and coffee.

o If you do have a break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception this allows you the option of inviting some guests solely to the evening reception if budget constraints are tight and you can’t afford for them to come to the sit-down wedding breakfast.

o You should consider also that guests will be more prone to dance and party at an evening reception if they have had a chance to re-energize after the wedding breakfast.

♥ Alternatively you might choose to have a buffet reception which continues straight into an evening reception without a break in between.

o An advantage of this is that it gives continuity without breaking up the party atmosphere. Continuity in a wedding reception is a major factor. If you have a large number of out-of-town guests who are not staying the night locally perhaps you would prefer to go for this option to save them having to spend a lot of time waiting for the evening celebration to begin.

o If you choose to have your buffet meal continue straight into the evening reception you will save money with setting up costs for venue staff to move furniture around before dancing can commence.

♥ The common format of a traditional wedding reception after the meal is the toasts, the cake cutting, the first dance, bouquet and garter toss, dancing and then the bride and groom leave in a car decorated by their friends and family for their honeymoon. If you decide to choose a wedding breakfast with a break and then an evening reception then it is usual for you and your new husband to cut the cake at the evening reception rather than during the wedding breakfast. However with a buffet continuing straight into an evening reception it would be more common for you to cut the cake after the toasts and before the first dance.

♥ Whichever option you choose, ensure that you have chosen music as this is a prime tool for setting the mood for your reception. Provide music in different styles and varying moods to complement your reception. You could have background music whilst eating and then more upbeat music such as a DJ or band for the evening dancing. Whether you have an evening reception following a wedding breakfast or a buffet a major part of the reception celebration is the dancing. If your guests are dancing then they are having a good time.

Whether you choose an evening reception after a wedding breakfast or choose to have a buffet which continues into an evening reception remember not to lose sight of the reason for your celebration. Your guests will enjoy all of the food you serve, but they are there first and foremost, to celebrate your wedding.

Good luck and enjoy yourself

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Comparing The Foods You Can Have At A Wedding Breakfast Or A Buffet
Date: October 13, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Following on from my post about the financial implications of whether to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening, I would like to discuss the actual catering implications of each scenario.

Here are eight key points to bear in mind before you make your mind up on this important decision.

♥ To help you reach your decision you should determine what type of food you wish to be served at your reception. Will you have a wedding theme which might dictate or suggest specific food types?

♥ Do you favour a particular serving style (e.g. would you prefer to have staff serve your food whilst your guests remain seated or have them stand in line for a buffet?).

♥ A lot of brides feel that if guests are traveling great distances to their weddings that they deserve a sit-down meal. There is no rule which dictates that you must serve your guests a hot meal. The most important thing is that your guests do not go hungry! So long as you are providing them with food every 4 hours of the reception then there should be no complaints from your guests.

♥ Undoubtedly you will be inviting a variety of guests of varied ages to your wedding and with this broad gamut comes a variety of tastes. Choosing a reception style and menu choices which please everyone’s tastes is a daunting prospect. However if you choose to have a buffet the food can be simple yet tasteful and elegant without being costly and you can provide a wider variety of food choices for your guests than you could with a sit-down meal. Buffets can provide a more creative and fun presentation of the food, a larger variety of food options and you can be more relaxed with timing and the amounts which guests eat.

♥ Whether you have a wedding breakfast or an afternoon buffet it is a good idea to consider what type of food you will serve your guests in the evening. Most wedding venues will supply you with evening reception food packages including canapés, passed or stationary hors d'oeuvres or hot or cold finger foods. Light finger foods are a popular choice including chips and dips, fruit and vegetable platters, cheeses, and crackers or more substantial finger foods which are more filling such as meat and cheese trays, shrimp cocktails, sausage pastries, egg rolls or chicken wings.

♥ Ideas for desserts to be served in the evening can range from cheesecakes, tarts, tortes, cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, cobblers, biscotti, ice cream, sundaes and wedding cake.

♥ It is very important to remember if you are inviting guests to an evening reception only that you write “canapés/hors d’ouvres/finger foods served at evening reception” in the invitations so that they know what to expect. There is nothing worse than being a hungry guest at a wedding function!

♥ The time of your reception plays an important role in the type of menu that you are planning. Your guests will expect different types and amounts of food depending on the time of the day of your reception.

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Budgeting Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 12, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Are you in the process of deciding whether or not to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening. If so this is totally a matter of what suits both you and your fiancé’s taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The choices for wedding reception packages are abundant and sometimes making a decision on them can be overwhelming for you and your fiancé. There are both advantages and disadvantages for both choices.

Let me try to help you compare both options from a budget point of view. I will use my next two posts to compare the two from a "catering" and "timing" point of view.

Budget:

♥ Budget plays a large part in making this decision. If you have a limitless wedding budget (lucky you!) then you don’t have to factor cost into this decision but if you are on a tight budget I assure you that both types of reception can be done on a shoestring.

o Wedding Breakfast - The wedding breakfast is the more traditional option and allows for a more formal celebration. Guests are served hot, elegant dishes by waiting staff at the reception venue. Usually this is the most expensive option. However, if you choose to have a wedding breakfast you can cut back on costs by simply inviting a few select members of your family and close friends to the sit-down meal and then invite your other guests to an evening reception where hot and/or cold finger foods are served. The cost per head of the sit-down meal will be greatly reduced, therefore saving you money.

o Buffet - Many people cannot afford a lavish four-course sit-down dinner so you might prefer to invite all of your guests to an afternoon buffet and then serve hot and/or cold finger foods later in the evening. Buffets usually prove to be more laid back with free and easy seating and less formality than a traditional sit-down meal. There is a widespread belief that buffets are always a less expensive option. This can be the case depending on which menu choices you and your fiancé select but bear in mind that often there can be a lot of food leftover with buffets if the caterers have overestimated the amount of food which your guests will eat. This will mean that you and your fiancé will be paying for the excess if your guests do not feel very hungry! With a sit-down wedding breakfast it is easier for the catering staff to calculate accurately the exact cost per head for your wedding reception meal.

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Dealing With The Touchy Subject of "Money"!
Date: October 06, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Planning & Relationships & Stress

A few weeks ago a bride emailed me to say that as soon as she had announced the wedding date both families seemed keen to give input emotionally and fiancially towards it, which was welcomed with open arms. Her family insisted on covering the cost of the wedding reception and the dress as they are quite traditional in that respect. The grooms family also wanted to help cover the cost of the reception and asked to share the cost. Without meaning to be rude, the bride's parents turned down this offer as they had saved for it since she was born and graceously reminded the groom's parents that their help would be needed for many other aspects of the wedding.

This bride then went on to say that since, the groom's family have become increasingly distant from the wedding plans. They have tried to involve them in each new plan and ask advice but they seem to busy. She added that she had savings to pay for the wedding themselves but accepted her parents help because there are aspects of the wedding are now more than first estimated and consequently the funds don't seem to be stretching as far as they first thought.

Specificially this bride wanted advice on what help the groom's family can give as the wedding gets near and nearer. As outlined money has always been a difficult issue and they are not sure how to ask them without sounding as if they expect them to help fiancially as this is not the case. She understands that they may feel excluded and rejected from the wedding but this was not done spitefully. She would really love for them to get involved but doesn't want them to think it comes at a price which is completely untrue!

So I was asked what is the safest way to go about this issue without treading on any toes but making sure that the bride and groom have enough savings for the wedding of their dreams?

In my reply I started by saying I could sympathise with the difficult situation she and her fiance were in and continued my advice as follows:

It sounds like you enjoy a good relationship with your fiance's parents so do try to talk to them about the wedding. As with all dealings with future in-laws you must be sensitive to their feelings. From your e-mail it sounds like they have felt left out of the wedding arrangements so perhaps have opted to take a back-seat rather than have their offers of emotional and financial support turned down.

If your fiance's parents are financially able to contribute to the wedding then I am sure this will help them to feel included in the whole wedding planning process. Indeed during the months leading up to my own wedding, when I was making arrangements and delegating arrangements to my husband, his parents, my parents and other members of the bridal party, was really enjoyable for me. It would be a shame for this special time to be spoiled for you due to your worrying about your fiance's parents' lack of interest in the run-up to the wedding.

Is there any one aspect of the organisation of the wedding which you can delegate to the Groom's parents to both organise and contribute towards(e.g. organising and paying for flowers for the church/wedding venue and buttonholes/bouquets or the wedding transport)? These are just two examples of the costs which you are likely to incur which are traditional to the reception costs which your parents will be covering.

I would suggest also that you both make a concerted effort to include them in the details of the wedding reception. Despite the fact that they are not paying for this event I am sure that they will be very interested to know what to expect at the reception. For example, you could arrange for them to visit the wedding reception venue and show them around, describe menu plans to them or even, if its not treading on your own parent's toes, to ask for suggestions about music, table flowers, seating arrangements, wine choices etc. Just ensure that they feel included.

Does your fiance maintain a close relationship with his parents? If so, then perhaps it would be helpful to all parties concerned if he could discuss these issues with them and reassure them that they play an important and unique role in your wedding plans. Of course you don't want them to feel like they are being treated like a walking cheque book but on the other hand contributing financially might well help them to feel involved in your wedding. Another suggestion is that perhaps you and/or your fiance speak to his parents about making a contribution towards the honeymoon. That is a substantial cost which I am sure you could use some financial help with.

I understand that you don't want to alienate his parents and it is essential that they too feel included in your special day. Just as your parents have been waiting since you were a little girl for this day, so too have his parents been waiting to proudly stand by and see their son get married.

Good luck on your wedding day

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I Reveal The Secrets To Successfully Controlling Pre Wedding Stress!
Date: October 03, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Planning & Stress

It is totally normal to feel anxious and nervous as your wedding day approaches. Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things in life that you will have to deal with but I assure you it will be well worth the effort. With all of the organizing which needs to be done in the run-up to your wedding including sticking to a budget, maintaining good relationships with family, friends and very importantly your fiancé and prospective in-laws, a never-ending wedding to-do list, dealing with uncooperative wedding suppliers and there not being enough hours in a day to deal with it all, it is no wonder you, like many other brides, are beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Whilst it is great that your pre-wedding stress will help you to stay motivated and keep you on top of finalizing all of those minute details of wedding planning it is also important to remember that this should be a special time for you – perhaps something that you have been dreaming about since you were a little girl!

I have set out below my top tips for reducing your wedding stress:

♥ Take care of yourself: My first most important tip is to cut back on the amount of hours you are taking care of wedding plans and spend them taking care of yourself.

♥ You should ensure that you are eating a balanced healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Known stimulants which will cause chemical reactions to your nervous system by making you jumpy, nervous and high-strung are caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Try to cut back on these and aim to start drinking more water instead.

♥ Ensure that you are maintaining a regular sleep pattern. Cutting back on caffeine should ensure that your body relaxes more and you are able to achieve this better. If you are getting a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night you will reduce chances of you getting tired and irritable. Wedding problems are much more difficult to deal with after a night of tossing and turning. Try not to read wedding to-do lists before going to bed at night. If you are having trouble sleeping try some relaxation techniques such as gentle music, ask your fiancé to give you a massage, try a relaxing bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil, a lavender bubble bath or light a lavender scented candle. Breathing deeply, in a rhythmic fashion and then exhaling slowly is a guaranteed way to relax your mind, body and nervous system and it slows down your adrenaline flow and should lull you into a sleepy state. Try the deep breathing exercises too when you are confronted with a stressful or frustrating situation during your wedding planning.

♥ Your body will have lots of nervous energy in the run-up to your wedding day and even if you may feel mentally tired sometimes you need to find an outlet for this energy. Any form of exercise will not only raise your fitness levels before your wedding day but will also relax tense muscles in your body and will trigger the release of endorphins in your body which help you to feel relaxed and happy. Exercise will make you feel better, look better and you will in turn be able to handle stress better. Even if pounding the treadmill or stairmaster at your local gym is not for you alternatives you could try are walking, running, swimming, walking a dog or even dancing. Learn some new dance moves to wow your guests with at your wedding reception. You could take an energetic dance class such as body jam where you are learning dance moves to music ranging from hip hop, funk, groove, Latin disco and jazz in a friendly atmosphere. The more energy which you use up, the more stress you rid yourself of.

♥ Try alternative therapies to help you relax such as aromatherapy, herbal remedies, massage and Reiki. My wife discovered Reiki massage when she was planning our wedding a few years ago. By lying still for an hour session you receive Reiki healing which allows blockages in your body to be removed so that positive energy can flow freely. My wife said that after a Reiki session she felt re-energized and experienced a general sense of wellbeing and calm which left her better equipped to deal with the wedding plans. For more information on Reiki I would recommend you visit Sensethesense.com.

Take time out:

♥ Ensure that you take time out from your wedding plans to devote to yourself. Pampering yourself will help you to relax and unwind. You could try treating yourself to a manicure, pedicure, massage treatment or a day at a spa.

♥ Take a mini-vacation away from the stress of organizing your wedding. You will return to your wedding plans feeling refreshed and calm. You could try an activity which is either stimulating or relaxing and calm. You could even get away from it all for a couple of hours or a day – try a trip to a park, a beach, the countryside, shopping, trip to the cinema (not to see wedding related films though!) or arrange to go and visit a friend. Another tip would be to do something exciting which will completely take your mind off wedding plans, such as a theme park visit, handgliding lesson, watersports activity etc.

♥ Enjoy doing some non-wedding related activities with friends or your fiancé. Make sure that everyone knows in advance that all wedding talk is banned for one night! By taking a break from wedding planning for a day or night out it will leave you feeling refreshed, physically relaxed and ready to return to your wedding plans the following day with renewed enthusiasm and verve.

Be organized:

♥ By remaining organized you will alleviate your stress as you will be secure in the knowledge that nothing has been forgotten with regarding to your wedding day.

♥ Try not to be overwhelmed. You should break your tasks into lots of smaller tasks so that they are easier to tackle and also easier to delegate.

♥ Don’t turn down offers of help which you are given. If there are things to do delegate these tasks to your partner, family and friends. I am sure that you are surrounded by family and friends who you trust who would be more than happy to play a small part in helping you organize your wedding day. Do not shoulder the responsibility for every decision with respect to the wedding day. Share the responsibility with your fiancé or, if he himself is too busy, then share the burden with your family and friends. If you have bridesmaids and ushers then do ask them for help because having tasks delegated to them prior to and on the day of your wedding is in their job description as attendants at your wedding!

♥ My advice is to delegate as much of the planning as you can so that you can concentrate on the most important part of your wedding which is you being a calm, serene bride! Draw up a list of tasks ready to delegate when your friends and family ask.

♥ Make sure that you plan well ahead. Keep a close eye on your wedding calendar to help you keep track of appointments, when suppliers and vendors need deposit checks or payment, when you need to make confirmation phone calls, deadlines for making decisions on flowers, cars etc. You should not leave things until the last minute. If you are organized and plan ahead with your wedding deadlines this will greatly reduce your stress.

Keep everything in perspective:

♥ Wedding planning always throws out challenges but its how you deal with them which will avoid stress. Don’t be overwhelmed. It is not going to be the end of the world if one of your bridesmaids goes down with the flu on the morning of your wedding or the cake is dropped in a muddy puddle! On the morning of my own wedding day my wife and I discovered that there was no church organist and therefore no music for us to walk up the aisle to. A few frantic phone calls later and I had organized a friend of a friend and everyone was none the wiser! This is just my personal example of how unexpected things can happen during the run up to a wedding but the important thing is don’t let things get on top of you.

♥ Try not to get caught up with every minute detail of your wedding day. I’m not recommending that you leave anything to chance but I do suggest that you set reasonable expectations for your wedding day. The higher your expectations are of your wedding day the greater your disappointments might well be and this will lead to more frustration and stress. Anticipate what might go wrong and plan accordingly as much as possible. Have back-up plans wherever possible and this will lessen the stress you will feel on the actual day if something goes wrong with an aspect of your wedding. Remember that sometimes when things do go wrong with a wedding it can prove to be memorable in a good way for your wedding guests and in years to come they will reminisce about your wedding for that reason. The most important thing is that your guests look back on your wedding day with memories of a happy relaxed bride not of what flowers you choose for the church or which table linen color scheme you have chosen for the wedding breakfast.

Stand firm:

♥ Avoid stress by sticking by your decisions and do not allow yourself to be swayed by other people’s opinions of how your wedding day should run. Everyone has an opinion. You have to learn to smile sweetly thank someone for their advice and make your own decision. It is not your job to try to please everyone else. Assert your authority as this is your day not theirs (even if sometimes they are contributing financially towards it). Don’t compromise on issues which are really important to you and your fiancé.

♥ Be assertive and honest whilst also being diplomatic. Try to avoid alienating anyone by being sensitive to their feelings and point of views whilst standing your ground over your own wedding choices.

♥ If there is any conflict with family and friends over the wedding plans try to explain how you feel when you and they are both calm rather than in a highly emotional state. Be assertive rather than aggressive.

Have fun:

♥ Try not to take everything too seriously. Laughing is a great way to reduce the stress you will be experiencing in the run-up to your wedding day. It is essential that you have a good laugh every now and then to relieve tension and to remember how it feels to be happy and stress-free! Think positive thoughts and remind yourself that you are doing a great job.

Take time with your fiancé:

♥ Try to remember why you are doing all of this planning in the first place. Ensure that you don’t neglect each other and that you spend time together without the wedding to-do list hovering in the background!

♥ Make time for conversations both about the wedding plans and about other things. It is all too easy to get so wrapped up in the wedding day preparations that you lose sight of why you are actually doing it. Communicate with your fiancé about how you feel and try to share any wedding worries with him – he might well be able to find solutions to problems which you had not thought of.

♥ Remember that the most important thing is for you to enjoy the time leading up to your wedding as well as the wedding day itself. At the end of the day even if you walk up the aisle without music and with a hastily made up bouquet of garden flowers, the most important part is that you will be marrying the man you love so don’t lose focus of that.

Finally I would recommend that you relax and enjoy this period of your wedding planning. You and your fiancé will have a unique wedding day, the memories of which will stay with you forever.

Good luck and enjoy yourself!

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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 Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
Unique Planning Guide For Destination Weddings
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How To Easily Brainstorm Wedding Venue Ideas
Date: October 02, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Church Weddings & Planning & Reception & Venues

Choosing a wedding venue is a matter of what suits your taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The wedding venue is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day so consider very carefully what will make yours special.

My advice to you is that if you are unsure of what type of wedding venue suits both of your ideas then you should concentrate on deciding on an ideal location.

Before you start looking, you should brainstorm with your fiancé and draw up a budget, an estimated list of how many guests you would like to invite and decide whether there will be a daytime ceremony and afternoon and/or evening celebration.

The first place to start when deciding on a traditional wedding venue is to have a tour around your local area making a list of those venues which you like the look of and which look like they will suit your budget and your needs. Researching your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you will make, the first important decision being agreeing to marry your fiancé!

Have you attended any weddings recently which you thought were held in the ideal setting? If there are certain aspects of a wedding that you have attended and enjoyed greatly you can reproduce these to meet your own needs. You should ask your family, friends and acquaintances for recommendations and attend local bridal fairs and shows. These can provide you with a variety of venue choices and give you a chance to have a chat with staff members from the venue without having to enter into a formal relationship with them. Another idea is to check the internet for local wedding venues and go to their websites to have an initial look.

You should go with your fiancé or with your parents or friends on field trips to different types of wedding venue. By visiting different types of venue such as churches, hotels with outdoor facilities etc you will be able to come to an informed decision.

Perhaps you and your fiancé could reach a compromise whereby you have the marriage ceremony in a church and then the wedding reception could take place at an outdoor venue, such as in the grounds of a hotel, stately home, castle etc. Additional outdoor venues include a local beach, park (bear in mind because most beaches and parks are public property you may well need a permit or license), gardens or country club. If you contact local hotels and other licensed wedding venues in your chosen area they can usually let you visit on a day when a wedding is taking place so that you can witness yourself how your own wedding would look in their grounds, by the river, in a garden marquee, under their ornate gazebo etc. Only by visiting venues will you be able to visualise how your wedding will look. I have attended many outdoor weddings and I felt that being outdoors added an extra dimension to the whole wedding experience. For the bride and groom I think that outdoor weddings offer the opportunity to express yourselves in an unconfined atmosphere.

When you have drawn up a list of suitable venues either call or visit the facility and request a brochure specific to weddings which sets out what is offered and any exclusions, rules, regulations and options and also an estimate. You can then compare prices, arrangements and the range of services supplied. Some hotels offer a "package deal" with wedding venue, reception, toastmaster, wedding cake stand, florists and other services included. Decide whether you would prefer a full service wedding venue where they take care of every little detail regarding your ceremony and reception. Perhaps you would prefer one of the rental based venues where you simply rent the property, tables and chairs and then you will have to organise everything else from table linens, tableware, flatware and glassware through to catering, decoration and attendant staff. There are also rental based sites that have a working relationship with selected caterers and are familiar with other wedding service providers and vendors.

When you have short-listed a few venues, call and make appointments to visit the wedding venue. Most wedding venues need to be booked up to a minimum of one year in advance so if one of your choices of venue is hugely popular you should visit sooner rather than later. Most wedding venues and licensed venues can become booked very early due to the fact they can only accommodate one wedding a day. The earlier you book the greater the chance you have of obtaining your first choice of dates.

Initial questions to ask staff at your short-listed venues:-

♥ Do you have an in-house wedding coordinator?

♥ What are your rates for the different packages and what are the options available?

♥ Do you offer a wedding package and/or discounts for small or large wedding party, accommodation booked at the venue etc?

♥ What additional expenses may be charged?

♥ If you are intending to invite young children to your wedding are you looking for a venue which can provide an insured and bonded babysitting service?

♥ How much and by when will we need to put down a deposit to secure the venue for your chosen date?

♥ What is the latest time frame for making changes to your wedding plans?

♥ Will the venue provide you with a written contract? Will this include a 3 day cancellation clause?

Ensure that when you meet with the wedding planner at the venues you visit that you feel comfortable with them and feel able to be open and honest. If you feel that they are trying to force their opinions on you then I would anticipate that you are going to have communication problems with them in the important months leading up to your wedding day. Always carry a notepad and pen to write down important information and questions that may arise during your interview. Ask for a tour of the facility so that you can check their amenities. Usually if you will be providing accommodation at the venue you will be given the opportunity to have a look at the guest rooms and (if applicable) the bridal suite and/or bridal changing room. The staff at your wedding venue should have good attention to detail, should be willing and able to accommodate your wishes and above all else should be there to listen and tailor your wedding requirements around your budget and your vision of your perfect day.

Finally I would recommend that you relax and enjoy this period of your wedding planning. No matter what venue you ultimately decide on you and your fiancé will have a unique wedding day, the memories of which will stay with you forever.

Good luck and enjoy yourself!

Related Posts :
CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
Unique Planning Guide For Destination Weddings
Win A Luxury Scottish Wedding


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As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore.
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