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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So are receiving lines an out of date tradition and a waste of time, or are they an integral part of your wedding, enabling you to make each of your guests feel valued and welcome?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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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


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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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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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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Confetti East - The New Site For Asian Weddings By Confetti.co.uk
Date: November 09, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Reviews & Shows & Site Reviews & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

The UK’s Number one wedding website Confetti.co.uk has launched a brand new micro site called Confetti East, dedicated to South Asian Weddings and festive occasions. This exciting new micro site offers ideas, inspiration, products and services relating to the exotic east and is a complete one-stop source for anyone planning an Asian or Asian style celebration.

Sections include exciting features such as Indian traditions to include in a wedding, an etiquette guide to South Asian celebrations and interesting facts about henna or mehndi. Practical guides include dos and don’ts of shopping in the Indian subcontinent and how to avoid the most common planning errors.

With guides to style, fashion and beauty and customs, the site educates, informs and entertains anyone planning a Hindu, Sikh or Islamic wedding as well as appealing to those brides who wish to add a little something different to a traditional ceremony.

To Celebrate the launch of Confetti East, you can visit the Confetti stand at Mela from 17 – 19 November at the Birmingham NEC, where there will be a beautiful array of table settings using Confetti products and experienced staff on hand to advise on any aspect of wedding or celebration planning.

Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:

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

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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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How To Choose the Best Diamond Setting For Your Wedding Ring
Date: September 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Jewelry & Shopping & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

When you select a setting for your diamond, you are choosing the stage that will allow your stone to shine. How can you choose the very best stage possible for your diamond to dance upon?

First, pick your star. Choose your diamond before you choose your setting. By looking at loose diamonds, you will be able to focus on the attributes of the stone itself.

Second, resist the urge to fall in love with the setting you saw in a magazine or jewelry store window. Keep an open mind and actually try a variety of settings on. You will be surprised at how different a diamond setting actually looks when you place it on your finger. You may also find that some settings enhance the diamond you have selected more than others.

Try on several settings before you decide which one is the right one. If you are buying a diamond online, go to a jewelry store and try on diamond settings like those you're considering.

Third, choose the type of metal you want for your diamond setting. Diamond settings come in yellow gold, white gold or platinum. Platinum is the most expensive option. More than 70 percent of diamond engagement rings are set in yellow gold, but you don't have to follow the crowd. Choose the metal that looks best with your skin tone, your diamond and your style.

Fourth, choose the style of diamond setting you prefer. You will have a nearly endless number of choices. You can opt for a solitaire setting where your diamond will stand alone in the spotlight, or a three-stone setting where diamonds or other gems will play a supporting role. Remember that the setting should enhance the diamond and allow the most light to play off the stone.

Do you want your diamond setting to have an ornate or a plain band? You can select bands that are covered with small diamonds or carved with intricate filigree patterns. The choice is yours.

Remember you get to set the stage!

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Liz Hurley To Change Wedding Outfit 13 Times!
Date: September 03, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Celebrity Gossip & Celebrity Weddings & Ceremonies & Destination Weddings & Dresses & Funny & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

For most brides picking out one wedding dress is a difficult task. With so many styles and colors of wedding gowns on offer, it makes choosing one probably the most difficult decision you have to make when planning your wedding. It surprises me therefore that Elizabeth Hurley is planning 13 different wedding outfits for her upcoming nuptials!

According to Grazia Magazine actress, model and fashion-designer Liz has ended months of speculation by revealing that she and her fiancé, businessman Arun Nayar, are due to get married “very soon”. The couple, who have been together since January 2003, are planning two wedding ceremonies. The first will be an intimate wedding at Liz’s hometown in Gloucestershire and the other will be a 3 day wedding event in Arun’s native India.

Liz is to select 3 outfits for her English countryside wedding, one for the morning, one for the wedding ceremony and the third for the wedding party. For the Indian ceremony she is rumored to be considering 10 changes of outfits during the 3 day wedding party. Earlier this year Liz was reported to be unable to make a decision as to which of her designer friends she should ask to make her wedding dress. Grazia reports that she has now chosen her friend, Donatella Versace, to design several gowns for her English country wedding. Liz has not yet revealed what style of wedding dress she favors but she has commented that she thinks her age precludes her from wearing a Cinderella-style dress.

“She won’t be wearing a full on wedding dress because she is worried it’s not appropriate for someone her age, but the idea is to have different outfits for the morning, for the ceremony and the party,” a source told Grazia magazine.

Liz also plans to wear traditional Indian dresses for the second wedding ceremony. She told the Daily Mirror,

“I love the pomp and color associated with Indian weddings”.

At least Liz will not have to worry about how she will budget for her many wedding outfits - the couple have negotiated a $3.76 million deal with a magazine to photograph their nuptials!

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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.

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
Unique Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Gift For Your Parents
Chicken Wing Wedding For Second Time Bride!


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

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

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

1. Talk to the officiant :

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

2. Receptions mean more freedom :

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

3. Find something special for the parents :

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

4. A friend's solo can be special :

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

5. Bypass trendy for meaningful :

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

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

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
20 Essential Wedding DJ - Choosing the right DJ is crucial and my top tips should help you get it right.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon


How To Make Sure Your Wedding Centerpiece Idea Is A Success
Date: August 11, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Flower & Decorations & Reception & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

When your guests walk into whatever venue you've chosen for your reception, you want the wedding centerpieces to elicit gasps of admiration. But you also want to make sure those admiring glances last through the entire reception, not end up leading to irritation or problems by the end of evening. Sadly, it has happened to more than one bride who has selected over-the top centerpieces that ended up as distractions instead of decorations.

How do you know when a wedding centerpiece is "just right?" These guidelines will help you choose wisely:

1. Keep the size of the tables in mind

If you are using small tables with conversational groups of six or eight at each, you should keep the centerpieces correspondingly smaller. After all, you don't want to take up so much space that the place settings are crowded out. With round tables you have less space to work with than with square ones, so keep shape in mind as well.

2. Mirrors can add impact

Most rental companies and florists can provide small square or round beveled mirrors that you can place under your floral arrangements or centerpieces to double their impact without making them larger. This increases their "presence" without taking up additional table space and adds light and sparkle to the room, especially if there are candles on the table or in the centerpiece. This is easily one of the most economical and romantic ways to add real "wow" to your centerpieces.

3. Avoid too much height

The tall, elegant candelabras with trailing flowers and ivy that you see in pictures running down the length or a table may look lovely, but they aren't practical. On a bridal table, they prevent guests from seeing the bridal party clearly and on guest tables they block easy conversation when guests have to constantly bend around the distracting candle holders. Don't put anything on the tables that will be at the same height as your guests heads - it will be an annoyance, no matter how beautiful they are!

4. It doesn't have to be about just the centerpiece

If the rest of the tabletop is lovely, you can spend less on the centerpieces themselves. Try sprinkling a dusting of delicate confetti or glitter in your wedding colors across the tablecloths. With coordinating place cards and linens, your tables will be well on their way to looking lovely and will require only simple centerpieces to be complete.

5. Variety is the spice of life

To add interest, choose two or three closely related styles for your centerpieces and use them. Your tables don't all have to look exactly the same. This will not only add interest, but can also keep the cost down. Try varying the color balance as well - if you are having a fall wedding, try mostly oranges on one table and predominantly yellows on another.

6. You don't have to say it with flowers

While the traditional centerpiece is usually a floral arrangement or flowers and candles, nothing dictates that you must do this. Be creative - do you have a hobby or interest that you share with your spouse? Something that you collect that could become the theme for your centerpieces? One couple who were avid baseball fans used their collection of baseball memorabilia (bobbleheads, signed baseballs, etc.) as centerpieces, putting them on reflective mirrors. They were great conversation starters !

7. Try framed photos

If you have assigned tables, indicate this with centerpiece photos such as "Table Eight - David and Susan in Australia" - and have a lovely framed photo of your vacation in Sydney as a centerpiece (perhaps with a boomerang next to it!). Another one might say, "Table Two - Our Third Year at University" - and a framed photo with a college pennant or fraternity pin. These are also great conversation starters for your guests, guaranteeing fun and reminiscing!

Further Reading On Wedding Centrepieces:
75 Ultimate Centerpiece Ideas by UltimateWedding.com
Beautiful Reception Centerpiece Ideas listed at YourWeddingCompany.com
DIY Wedding Centerpieces The Basics: by TheKnot.com

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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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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 :
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
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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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
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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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Croquembouche - Discover The New Trend In Wedding Cakes
Date: June 14, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Cakes & Catering & Reception & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

If you watched the Discovery Home and Health Weddings Live Show last weekend then you would have seen their feature on the latest trends with wedding cakes. One of the eye-catching cakes they showed, which they claim is becoming an increasingly popular choice with modern brides, is the Croquembouche.

What is a Croquembouche?

The Croquembouche is a tower of profiteroles (choux pastry puffs filled with vanilla pastry cream) which are coated in a thin crust of crispy caramel. The “glue” which holds the puffs together in their stunning pyramid shape is melted toffee or chocolate ganache. The delicious pyramid usually rests on a base or stand made of edible nougatine.

This unique tower of delicacies looks stunning but for extra effect you can choose to have them decorated further. There are plenty of creative ways of decorating the Croquembouche including:

♥ sugarcraft work including sugar flowers scattered around the top and sides of the tower

♥ webs of spun sugar cascading down the sides

♥ sugared almonds sticking out in between the puffs and scattered around the base - you could choose dragees to match the colour scheme of your wedding (have a look at the selection available on Confetti.co.uk)

♥ strings of light-catching crystals threaded around the base

♥ a small cake topper or ornament for the top of the tower

♥ small fresh flowers either studded around the base of the tower and/or sat on the top peak

♥ curls of ribbon matching the colours of your wedding theme

♥ drizzles of melted white, dark or milk chocolate cascading down the tower

♥ fresh strawberries or other fruit placed around the base of the tower

There are lots of variations on the Croquembouche fillings too to suit your own personal taste. Alternatives fillings include coffee, lemon cream, amaretto cream and strawberry mousse.

Who invented the Croquembouche?

The Croquembouche originated in France back in the early 18th century as their traditional wedding cake. Back then guests would bring their own sweet breads to the wedding reception and would use them to create a tower. The newlyweds would attempt to kiss over the top of the sweet bread tower as this was said to bring them prosperity and fertility for their future life together! When French patissiers invented choux filled pastries (profiteroles) these were brought to weddings instead of the simple sweet breads and they were balanced into a pyramid. The Croquembouche has certainly evolved since then, with many different variations of the original version being made by chocolatiers and patissiers all over the Europe and America.

The cutting of the cake

Traditionally the Croquembouche is served by the bride and groom hitting it hard with a sword and the bridesmaids catching the pieces in a tablecloth. Nowadays the more popular and functional option for cutting the Croquembouche are:

♥ The bride and groom pose with a knife against the Croquembouche for the benefit of photos being taken and it is then whisked away by the catering staff for dismantling and serving to the guests

♥ A metal hammer is often provided by the cake-makers for the bride and groom to knock the top of the tower off (perhaps a safer option than using a sword!)

♥ If the bride and groom are feeling very daring they could cut into the top section of the Croquembouche or simply pick one profiterole each off of the top of the pyramid and feed it to each other

How to serve the Croquembouche

The Croquembouche can be used in addition to, or as an alternative to, dessert at your wedding reception. Ideally if you are serving it in place of wedding cake you should allow a portion of 3 profiteroles per guest, or if you are serving it as the main dessert then allow a portion of 5 profiteroles per guest. A delicious idea is to serve the Croquembouche to your guests with a choice of raspberry coulis, chocolate sauce or fresh cream.

If you choose an informal catering package you could leave your Croquembouche for guests to break off pieces themselves.

If it’s good enough for Madonna …….

Madonna and Guy Ritchie chose a Croquembouche for their December 2000 wedding at Skibo Castle. Their bespoke confection featured pomegranates, golden tassles, green ivy and hot chocolate sauce. It was created by master patissier Eric Lanlard of Savoir Design, whose elaborate Croquembouche have garnered him a fantastic reputation and an A-list clientele.

Advantages of choosing a Croquembouche for your wedding

♥ Not only is the Croquembouche absolutely delicious but visually it creates a truly breathtaking centerpiece for your wedding reception – something to capture your guests‘ attention. Standing at a minimum of 18 inches high for the smallest version the Croquembouche definately stands out!

♥ Although they are becoming very popular the Croquembouche is still viewed as a unique style of wedding cake, so dare to be different!

♥ The Croquembouche is fully transportable and does not need refrigeration.

♥ Each profiterole is baked fresh on the morning of your wedding and then stacked up into a tower.

♥ You can have a tower of 700 pieces so there will be plenty to go around at your wedding reception.

♥ If you prefer to stick with tradition and have a tiered wedding cake at your wedding reception, perhaps you could have the Croquembouche solely as your dessert or choose a smaller one simply as an eye-catching centerpiece.

How much does a Croquembouche cost

The cost of the Croquembouche varies depending on what size you are going to require for your wedding reception which depends on how many guests you will be feeding. I had a look on the internet at Wedding-Cakes.co.uk who are a British based company and they have a lovely selection of Croquembouche on their website for you to peruse. Their prices start at £245 for a 120 piece Croquembouche which is comparatively cheaper than the average cost of a traditional tiered and decorated wedding cake, which is £300.

If you wanted to be adventurous and try to make your own Croquembouche then check out the mold available at Amazon.com (cost $124.71) or Widerview.com (cost $109.95). For the recipe I found that this one was easy to follow (and free!) or you could buy the recipe book “A Sweet Quartet“ which contains the recipe for the Croquembouche (available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).

The Croquembouche is radically changing the shape of wedding cakes for the future by providing a modern twist to the traditional tiered wedding cake. Your cake is really important part of your special day so why not try something unique and memorable!

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To Tip Or Not To Tip - Gratuities For Your Wedding Suppliers

Recently I received the following question on tipping wedding suppliers:

"I would like to know if I need to tip the hired photographer and the piano player at the wedding ceremony? In fact, who do I have to tip according to etiquette?"

Here is my response:

Please note: Although I have referred to the tipping amounts within this article in US dollars for UK-based readers the figures remain the same.

Etiquette

Tipping etiquette at a wedding is a common area of confusion. Although we tip service providers in everyday life when it comes to your wedding day the etiquette of to whom and how much to tip can be bewildering. Tipping is supposed to be voluntary. However service providers do expect tips nowadays. Traditional wedding custom is to tip a wedding supplier if you think that they did a great job or provided you with outstanding service. Tipping should be based on the quality of service provided to you on your wedding day and in the run up to your wedding. By tipping them you are letting them know that you are happy with the service they provided you with prior to and/or on your wedding day. If you appreciate the work that they have done for you then you can show your appreciation by tipping them.

The Oxford dictionary defines a tip as a small sum of money given to someone for performing a service. Whilst most wedding suppliers are not contractually obligated to receive a tip they might expect one.

Budget

Tipping is an additional cost which you should include in to your wedding budget so that you ensure that you have money allocated for this purpose. Wherever possible calculate the tips you intend to give before your actual wedding day, using the guide set out below. Wedding tips are commonly overlooked when couples set up their wedding budget. It is important to calculate as much as possible prior to your wedding how much you can afford to tip your wedding suppliers. This cost and a contingency amount for extra tips which arise prior to and on your wedding day must be added to your overall wedding budget. Use the following information as a guideline but also use your personal judgment. Whilst tipping costs should be factored into your budget you must remember that they are discretionary and if you are on a tight wedding budget you should not feel obligated to tip.

It is not always necessary to provide a monetary tip to suppliers to whom you wish to show your appreciation. If you think your wedding supplier did a great job then an alternative idea is to send them a gift with a thank you note after the wedding. Remember that the most valuable gratuity you can give to any wedding supplier is your recommendation of them to others! You could show your appreciation to the service provider by sending them a personal letter of recommendation.

You should calculate your budget on the basis that, if you can afford to, you will tip most of your wedding service providers and then you can make the final decision on the wedding day as to whether the services provided exceed your expectations. Do bear in mind that your decision on whether or not to tip is entirely at your discretion. If a wedding supplier has gone above and beyond the call of duty for your wedding then tip them to show your appreciation of their extra effort they put into making your wedding day truly perfect. Sometimes in the run up to your wedding day some wedding suppliers work wonders to accommodate you and your hectic schedule. If this is the case for you then it would be nice gesture to give them a tip to show that you appreciate their extra efforts for you.

Contracts - read the small print

I recommend that you thoroughly read your contract with each supplier to see if a tip is included in their price. Some wedding package rates include tips (particularly if you are getting married abroad). You should note that some wedding suppliers, most notably caterers, add a gratuity to the foot of their bill and they usually call it a service fee or service charge. Most wedding suppliers will inform you of their tipping policy when you enter into an agreement with them for their services. If you are at all confused then ask the supplier directly for an explanation of their service charges and tipping policies. You must be clear about what each wedding supplier is being paid so that you can make judgment calls on whether or not additional tipping might or might not be necessary. Another good reason for being clear about the tipping policy for each supplier is to that you do not end up double tipping them!

Tipping Guidelines

There are some wedding suppliers who you will be expected to tip and there are suppliers who whilst not expecting a tip would greatly appreciate it. Below are some tipping guidelines which suggest amounts each service provider should be tipped according to wedding etiquette:

Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician - You should expect to tip these service providers just as you would on a normal visit to a salon. Tips should be 15% - 20% of your total bill.

Officiant (Clergy, Priest, Minister etc) - Although officiants do not usually ask for financial recompense for their services they do expect you to make a donation to the church or their organization. As to the amount of the donation, traditionally they will suggest an amount when you finalize arrangements with them. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are expecting the officiant to travel outside of their local area then you should also compensate them for their travel costs. Do not directly offer a tip to an officiant. The nominated tip giver should pass the agreed amount to the officiant after the ceremony. If you are using the services of a civil servant, such as a judge, Justice of the Peace or a City Clerk, then you are allowed to tip them (although it should be called a “donation” rather than “tip”) provided you do not exceed $75 and you must ensure that it is paid to them outside of court/office hours.

Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) - Do check to see if a gratuity has been included in their bill as this is often the case with transportation fees for weddings. If not or if you want to reward them for their service on your wedding day then the norm is to tip them 15%-20% of the total cost of the bill.

Valets and Parking Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per car.

Coat Check and Restroom Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per guest.

Waiters and waitresses - It is not necessary to tip the servers if you have already paid a gratuity in your contracted price. Check to ensure whether a service charge is included in the caterer’s contract. If there is no such provision then you should expect to tip 15% - 20% of the total food bill. Although it is not expected for you to tip individual serving staff if you decide that a particular individual has provided you with first-class service then feel free to give that server an additional tip.

Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. Check your paperwork and if in fact a service charge has not been included then you should allow 15% - 20% of the total bill or $1 - $2 per guest.

Bartenders - Usually you will find that the bar manager will add a service charge to the bar bill. If this is not the case then you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill. This amount can be shared out between them equally if there is more than one bartender.

Seamstress/dress fitter - Although it is not customary to tip your seamstress or dress fitter if you feel that they have made an extra special effort on your behalf then tip them between $15 - $30.

Wedding Planner - Wedding planners work for a set fee and will not expect a tip. If you want to show them how grateful you are for their hard work in planning your wedding then 10% of their total fee is more than adequate.

Delivery Staff (including Florist, Bakers etc.) - Staff responsible for your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip. You will have agreed to pay their set fee and that is sufficient. However if you feel that they have provided you with exceptional service and/or outstanding quality of products then a tip of $15 - $20 per person is adequate.

Church Organist or Church Musician - This fee is usually included in the rental fee for the church. You should check your paperwork and if this is not the case you should tip them between $25 - $40 per person.

Musicians - Live musicians do not expect to receive a tip but if you consider their performance at your reception to be exceptional and worthy of a tip then you should allow $20 - $25 per band member.

DJ - As with the musicians, if you consider the DJ’s performance to have made your wedding reception swing then a tip in the range of 15% - 20% of their fee is appropriate.

Photographers - Whilst most photographers do not expect a tip if you want to reward them for their good work on your wedding day then this should be between $20 - $30. Alternatively you can indicate your satisfaction with the photographer’s work by placing a large order for additional prints – they will always greatly appreciate that.

Additional Tipping Tips!

* Traditionally it is the Best Man's duty to take care of tips on your behalf on your actual wedding day. If they are unwilling or unable to accept this responsibility then nominate one person who you feel comfortable with and who is happy to handle this task. This person should be responsible for distributing the tips amongst your wedding suppliers. To make it easier for the nominated tip distributor you should label envelopes prior to the wedding day and pass them to the nominated person to keep safe and hand out at the relevant times throughout your wedding day. By labeling them you will ensure that the correct amount of tip goes to the correct supplier. Always provide the nominated tipper with a contingency fund envelope containing a bit of extra cash just in case you have forgotten someone important who you feel deserves a tip on your wedding day or you might decide to tip someone a bit extra on the actual day.

* A common question is who should the tip be presented to with regard to groups of wedding suppliers. The answer is to hand it to the head of the group. For example with a band the tip should be given to the band leader and with waiting staff it should be presented to the head waiter or maitre d' who will ensure that it is distributed evenly amongst the team.

* If any of the wedding service providers you are utilizing are friends or family then you should definitely ensure that you tip them generously!

* An important point to note is that if you are tipping the valets, coat check and restroom attendants and particularly the bartenders (who are notorious for putting out their own “tip jars”) agree with them and the venue manager that it is unacceptable for these members of staff to accept tips directly from your guests. A sign placed near each of these services that says “No Tipping Please” should be sufficient to deter your guests from offering tips and deter the staff from accepting them!

* You might want to consider tipping your wedding service providers prior to the wedding day in the hope that they will go the extra mile and ensure that everything is faultless on your wedding day.

* Inevitably during your wedding day your wedding suppliers will need to be fed and watered. You should expect to feed your photographers, videographers, DJ and musicians. They cannot provide you with a good service if they are running on empty! Caterers will usually ask you what provision you want to be made for these service providers during your wedding reception and will make some suggestions as to menus and seating arrangements. It is important prior to the wedding day to agree with the caterers and confirm to the individual service providers where they will eating on your wedding day. This will ensure that on the day there are no slip ups or confusion. You will also be expected to bear the costs of drinks for the abovementioned wedding suppliers on your wedding day.

* If after reading this information you are at still unsure about how much you should budget for tipping those wedding suppliers who will be expecting a tip for good service then it might be better to arrange a flat fee prior to the event.

I hope that this tipping guide helps you. Remember that the most important person on your wedding day is you so relax and enjoy your wedding planning. Whether you tip or not you are sure to have truly memorable day!

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Wedding Gifts: How Much Money Should A Mother Give To Her Children
Date: May 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Relationships & Traditions & Customs

You are more than welcome to send me your wedding related questions, I will always do my best to answer. Here is a recent question I received:

"Hi Emily, I appreciate reading all of your helpful tips. As a Mother of 5 children. this information will come in handy especially that my son was married last year and my daughter will be married next year.

The question that is looming in my mind is the appropriate gift that should be given to my children. Where I live money is the only gift that is given except in rare instances. So my question to you is what is a fair amount to give? In the case of my son I did what all groom's parents do, Rehearsal dinner etc. For my daughter we will be paying for the entire event except what the groom's parents traditionally pay for. Do I make a distinction based on that or not? Also how much would you recommend giving? I'm sort of stumped and need advice on that. Any suggestions?"

I gave the following advice:

Congratulations on your children's nuptials. I totally understand your predicament as you want to be equally fair to both your son and your daughter with regard to how much you give them as a wedding gift.

The first step is not to feel under pressure about this. I recommend that you examine your own financial state of affairs and determine what the maximum amount of money you can comfortably afford to give to each child is. Traditionally in the UK parents give their children wedding gifts of anything up to £5,000 (approximately $9,000). This is usually equivalent to the average cost of a honeymoon.

Without doubt you will be spending a lot more money on your daughter's wedding than you contributed towards your son's wedding. You should use your own judgement as to whether you should make a distinction between what you contribute to each of your children as a gift. Is your son likely to feel aggrieved that your daughter has garnered more financially through her wedding than he did when he got married? The last thing you want is for any family members to fall out over money.

If you think that in fairness your son should be given more money than your daughter then perhaps after deciding the amount you should speak to your daughter and explain why you intend to give your son a larger cash gift than she herself is to receive from you.

Good luck and remember to relax and enjoy your daughter's upcoming wedding!

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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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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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15 Tips For Delivering A Bride's Speech!
Date: October 11, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Etiquette & Speeches & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

The bride often asks herself - should she or shouldn't she make a speech?

The answer is that you definitely should consider making your own wedding speech. It will give you a perfect to opportunity to give particular thanks to your in-laws for welcoming you into their family, your husband for loving you and most importantly your parents for all that they have done for you and for helping you reach this special milestone in your life.

Bride's wedding speeches are becoming increasingly popular with more and more brides welcoming the chance to express their feelings on the most special day of their life.

The usual format for wedding speeches is that the bride's speech is the last speech of the day after the Father of the Bride, Best Man and Groom. As a bride you should definitely take this opportunity to make a speech, after all its probably the only time for the remainder of the wedding day that you will be able to hold every person's attention before the celebrating really begins! As the last speaker I personally think that the bride's speech has an immense impact on the assembled guests.

If you or your husband are nervous public speakers you might decide to opt for speaking together as a double-act. You might also want to consider that if your father or husband gives a highly emotional speech are you the type of person who will not be able to pull it together after their speeches? The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be struggling with tears and feeling that you can't enjoy the emotive moment of hearing the other speeches but instead have to concentrate on stopping your bottom lip from wobbling in preparation for your own speech immediately afterwards. If that is a likely scenario then perhaps you should opt for breaking with tradition and making your speech first. All I would say is that you should remember to tell the master of ceremonies beforehand where you would like to be featured in the line-up of speakers so that he can announce you at the appropriate moment.

The unique thing about a bride's speech is that there is no formal etiquette about the format of the speech, who you must mention, who you should remember to thank etc. Whereas the other speakers have to abide by traditions attached to their role (e.g. father of the bride describes first occasion he met groom and goes on to give tear-jerking reminisces about his daughter, best man has to humiliate the groom and comment on the bridesmaids beauty etc) you have no such obligations or restrictions. Your assembled guests and husband will have no expectations of your speech so you have free range over the content of your speech. You can have real fun incorporating funny stories or special memories into your speech as well as giving specific mentions to friends, family and your new husband - there are no hard and fast rules to follow and you can be totally flexible.

Although there is no formal structure to bride’s wedding speeches as a guide I would recommend incorporating some of the following into it:

♥ Thank your guests for coming and give special thanks particularly to guests who have traveled a long way or made an extra-special effort to attend your wedding.

♥ Mention anyone of importance to you who would like to have attended but was unable to come due to extenuating circumstances.

♥ If any guest has made a unique contribution to the wedding (e.g. home-made wedding cake, hand-made floral displays or played music, sung a song or given a reading during the ceremony) then ensure that you give them a special mention.

♥ Try to jot down over the weeks leading up to your wedding any special words that you would like to say.

♥ Tell an amusing story about the groom or about the run-up to the wedding. Stories your guests may find particularly amusing are those which involve some of them. This might include appropriate stories from the engagement party, bridal shower/hen or stag party.

♥ Possibly tell the story of how you met the groom, your first impressions, happy and funny memories of how the relationship developed from then up to your wedding day.

♥ The majority of brides (myself included) give a personal message to their husband expressing how you feel about him and leaving the guests in no doubt that you are totally in love!

♥ You might wish to tell your guests what your wedding day means to you, your thoughts on love and marriage and how it feels to be a wife.

♥ Thank your parents for their roles in the wedding and for their love, support and encouragement over the years.

♥ Mention your new in-laws and offer a few kind words and thank them for welcoming you into their family. Assure your mother-in-law that you will look after her little boy!

♥ Give some thanks to the people who've supported you through the stress of preparing for the wedding. A cute idea (if appropriate) is to apologise to your co-workers if they are attending for being wedding obsessed and talking about wedding consistently at work for the past few months!

♥ Thank your guests for their generosity and all their gifts.

♥ You will undoubtedly have spent all day receiving compliments on how great you look so do make sure you include in your speech a reciprocal comment to you all your guests who have inevitably gone to a lot of effort with their appearance for your wedding day. This ensures that every guest feels special. You might want to finish your speech with a toast to the guests.

♥ It goes without saying that you should try not to repeat any comments which have already been made in the previous speeches. If you want to reiterate a specific thank you to someone at the wedding perhaps you could so this personally during the afternoon/evening reception.

♥ For sample wedding speeches which will give you some further ideas try www.frugalbride.com/bridespeeches.html

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Lessons On How Not to Give A Groom's Wedding Speech!


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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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