Bride Step

Plan Your Perfect Wedding
by: Athina Marie Fascianella

Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 ................................................................................................................................................ 4 ANNOUNCING THE ENGAGEMENT ............................................................................................................. 4 ENGAGEMENT PICTURES ........................................................................................................................... 6 ENGAGEMENT PARTY ............................................................................................................................... 7 PLANNING MADE EASY ............................................................................................................................ 9 KNOWLEDGE IS POWER ........................................................................................................................... 12 BUSINESS CARDS .................................................................................................................................... 17 PICK THE DATE ....................................................................................................................................... 18 THEME & COLOR SCHEME ...................................................................................................................... 20 BUDGET CALCULATOR & BREAKDOWN ................................................................................................. 22 WEDDING CONSULTANT - HIRE OR NOT TO HIRE .................................................................................. 28 CHAPTER 2 .............................................................................................................................................. 31 PICK YOUR BRIDAL PARTY ..................................................................................................................... 31 TOP 3 EXPENSES FOR THE WEDDING PARTY .......................................................................................... 33 OTHER IMPORTANT JOBS ........................................................................................................................ 37 HIGHLIGHTED WEDDING PARTY DUTIES................................................................................................ 38 CREATING A GUEST LIST ........................................................................................................................ 42 THE ART OF GETTING MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK ............................................................................ 47 TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK ALL VENDORS ............................................................................................ 49 TIPPING TIPS............................................................................................................................................ 51 CHAPTER 3 .............................................................................................................................................. 53 WHERE TO SAY "I DO" ............................................................................................................................ 53 QUESTIONS FOR THE CEREMONY VENDOR ............................................................................................. 54 PROCESSION ............................................................................................................................................ 56 UNITY CANDLE ....................................................................................................................................... 58 RECEIVING LINES .................................................................................................................................... 60 CHOOSING A LOCATION TO CUT A RUG.................................................................................................. 61 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR RECEPTION VENDOR .................................................................................... 62 ALCOHOL ................................................................................................................................................ 65 SPEECHES ................................................................................................................................................ 66 SEATING PLAN ........................................................................................................................................ 69 FAVORS ................................................................................................................................................... 71 CHAPTER 4 .............................................................................................................................................. 73 GET A GORGEOUS GOWN AT A GREAT RATE ......................................................................................... 73 HOW TO GET YOUR ACCESSORIES WITHOUT GETTING A LOAN? .......................................................... 78 QUESTIONS THAT YOU NEED TO ASK YOUR DRESS VENDOR ............................................................... 80 WEDDING DAY HAIR .............................................................................................................................. 81 WEDDING SKIN & TEETH ........................................................................................................................ 84 WEDDING DAY MAKEUP ........................................................................................................................ 86 HEALTH/WEIGHT LOSS ........................................................................................................................... 87 HANDSOME HUSBAND TO BE .................................................................................................................. 89 BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS ...................................................................................................................... 92
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GOOD LOOKING GROOMSMEN/USHERS.................................................................................................. 96 CHARMING CHILDREN ............................................................................................................................ 98 PRETTY GREAT PARENTS ...................................................................................................................... 101 CHAPTER 5 ............................................................................................................................................ 103 CATERING ............................................................................................................................................. 103 CAKE ..................................................................................................................................................... 106 WEDDING STATIONERY ........................................................................................................................ 110 INVITATIONS: ADDRESSING & ASSEMBLY ........................................................................................... 113 PERSONAL WEDDING NEWSLETTERS & WEBSITES .............................................................................. 117 FLOWERS & DECOR .............................................................................................................................. 120 7 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR FLORIST? ................................................................................................. 125 SMILE FOR THE CAMERA ....................................................................................................................... 127 LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION ................................................................................................................... 131 CUT A RUG ............................................................................................................................................ 134 "LIMO LIGHTNING" - WEDDING TRANSPORTATION ............................................................................. 139 CHAPTER 6 ............................................................................................................................................ 144 BON VOYAGE ........................................................................................................................................ 144 TEN STEPS TO CHANGING YOUR NAME ............................................................................................... 149 THANK YOU NOTES .............................................................................................................................. 152

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CHAPTER 1
ANNOUNCING THE ENGAGEMENT
Let me take this moment to congratulate you on your engagement. Take a second to let it all sink in. You are getting married! This is a fabulous time in your life, so enjoy it as much as you can. Now that you're engaged, the question is what do you do next? The first thing most brides-to-be cannot wait to do is to inform the people you know, whether near or far, that you and your fiancé are in love and planning to tie the knot. ● First, you should tell your parents if they don’t already know. Traditionally, your fiance should have contacted your parents and informed them of his intention to marry their daughter. His next step would be to approach his parents, and tell them that he has found the love of his life and wants to ask this woman to marry him. By the time the marriage proposal actually takes place your parents will have already been forewarned. Now it's just the simple matter of telling your parents that he has indeed proposed. ● If this isn't the way it happened -- maybe it was just a spur of the moment decision, or maybe you're just not a traditional couple. There's always the Contemporary Method. Since, in this particular case, both sets of parents won't have any advance notice, the only way to avoid hurt feelings down the road is to inform them both at the same time. If you live in the same area this will be a piece of cake. Take both sets of parents out to dinner and tell them together. If both sets of parents live far apart then, by all means, go high-tech and have a conference call. This way you're informing everyone at the same time and no one will
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feel neglected. Now that your parents know about your upcoming marriage, what about the rest of your family? ● The greatest way to share the good news is via word of mouth. Each partner will take a set of people that they want to tell about the impending marriage. You're going to tell your grandparents, siblings, godparents, etc. Let each set of parents inform everyone else - whether it is your aunts, uncles, fifth cousins, third cousins twice removed, etc. This way everyone gets informed by someone. You don't necessarily have to call every single member of your family personally. ● The next set of people are your acquaintances, basically anyone that is not related to you. Most women tell their best friends they are engaged before they tell their moms, so this is a no-brainer for most of you. Let your friends know he finally popped the question, in their order of importance, starting with your best friend and working your way through your circle of friends. If you are so inclined post it on Facebook or Twitter! ● The next group to inform are your co-workers. This is a very delicate situation. I don't advise you to go into the office on a Monday morning and make this grand announcement. If your company has more than ten people you don't want to do that because it's very unprofessional. Here is what to do. Tell the few closest people that you talk to on a regular basis. Then send out a brief e-mail saying, "Hi, just wanted to let everyone know that I got engaged this weekend - details to follow". And that is it nothing big - no hoopla. People will come to you if and when they see fit. So you've told your family, acquaintances and co-workers. How are you going to tell everyone else? Through a newspaper announcement of course! This is a semi old-fashioned way of spreading the word, but it still happens and there is a way to do it correctly.

● Announce your wedding up to twelve months prior to the wedding. Even if you're getting
married and you've set a date three years from now, don't announce it in the newspaper until two years from now - remember twelve months prior to the date.

● Announce it again at least two weeks prior to the wedding date. This is a reminder, sort
of a little poke with a stick saying, "Hey, remember us we're going to get married".

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Now you have told your parents, your friends, and the world about your wonderful news.

ENGAGEMENT PICTURES
In this section we are going to discuss your engagement pictures. The first question that usually pops into people's minds is if they should have a professional, family member, or friend take the photos - the professional vs. amateur argument! In my opinion the best way to go, if your wedding photographer doesn’t offer engagement pictures, is to have an amateur do it. It saves you money and it's the easiest way to reflect your personality. However, if you really want to have that professional look done go to Sears or Walmart. This is the best way to have that portrait style without having to pay those portrait prices. "who" now you need the "where". Where do you have the photos taken if you aren't going to do it portrait style at Sears, Walmart, or a studio? The best place to have the photos taken would be somewhere that portrays both your personalities. You have the

● Let's say you wake up every morning with the sand at your feet and the ocean breeze
blowing through your hair. Why not take the photos on a beach?

● You're both sport fans. You have season tickets; you never miss a game and own 800
jerseys. Why not take the pictures at a ballpark?

● What if you are both animal lovers? You have six dogs, two cats, a hamster, a potbellied pig, a snake - you name it you have it. Or maybe you're a veterinarian. Why not take your pictures at a zoo? Do something that reflects who you are as a couple. When my husband and I had our photos taken, we did so at the park near our high schools. It represented our love of our neighborhood.

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Next is probably one of the most important questions: What am I going to wear? As far as your attire goes, just think casual Friday with a twist! A key tip is to dress according to the background. ● Let's say you're going to have those pictures taken at the beach. Why not a sun dress for you and a pair of khaki shorts with a polo for your fiancé? ● What if you're going to have those ballpark pictures done? Then you can wear your favorite team jersey and dress jeans. You can even do a change of clothes if your photographer is okay with it. Lets talk about your hair and your make-up. You want to go natural and not too flashy. ● Don't do an "updo" with tendrils and curls going every which way, or even think about wearing a tiara. ● Don't do anything that is totally out of character for you. Remember, the aim is to appear timeless. You definitely do not want to make your photo appear dated. One way of avoiding this is by not going overboard with accessories. The simpler the better. ● Don't wear huge eight inch long earrings just simply because chandelier earrings may be the big thing at the moment. Ceiling chandeliers never go out of style but chandelier earrings eventually will. ● ● Keep your accessories small. A pair of stud earrings or maybe a nice locket. Think two accessories as tops!

Just remember to have fun with the entire experience.

ENGAGEMENT PARTY
The next part of the engagement trio is the engagement party. There are usually four areas of concern with this topic so let's take one at a time.
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Why have an engagement party? An engagement party isn’t a must. My advice to you is if you are paying for the party - don’t have one. Take the money you would have used on the party, put it towards your wedding, and make it even better than you thought you possibly could. If you want to have an engagement party, and let's face it who doesn't want a party in their honor, keep it simple. A big thing to keep in mind is that gifts are not required for an engagement party. I'm sure this is a surprise to many people - it was to me! But remember, if you receive a gift you must write a thank you note. A thank you note must precede a gift for every wedding related party in your honor. Even if you get gifts at your bachelorette party, you must send thank you notes. This is an etiquette must! (It's also a pet peeve of mine!) ● Who do you invite? This is a simple one. Actually, it is the easiest one. You only invite people that you're going to invite to the wedding. Invitations should start with your family and work their way down to your friends and co-workers - depending on the size of the party. If you’re not sure if someone is going to be invited to the wedding, do not invite them to the engagement party. Rule of thumb is that f they are invited to the engagement party then they must be invited to the wedding.

When do we have the party? The party should take place no more then two months after announcing your engagement. So, if you announce your engagement in January, you should have your party before April.

And the biggest question: How much is it going to cost me? The cost of a party depends on a number of factors. ○ ○ ○ Formality: Is it black tie, suits, or just jeans and sneakers? Size: Will you be inviting thirty or three hundred people? Location: Will it be in your backyard, church rec room, a party hall, or in a hotel?

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Now you know the "why", "who", "when", and "how much". It is up to you to decide whether or not to have that party.

PLANNING MADE EASY
Your entire planning process can be a breeze. The one key to planning anything is organization. The one way to be truly organized is to have a file binder, which will only be utilized for the planning of your wedding. This binder will be your wedding central. Anything wedding related will be placed into this binder. Therefore, you have a “one-stop-shop” for everything you require for your wedding. Let's go over the binder layout. You're going to need a few supplies from your local office supply store. ● Binder. It should be three inch thick and three-ringed. It’ll seem too large when you purchase it but trust me, it’ll fill up fast! ● ● Three-hole punch. This will help to secure the paper into the binder Approximately (18) three-hole pocket dividers with insertable tabs. The reason for this is so that each area of your wedding will have its own section. Therefore, it will be easy to find things when you need to. You're not going to be searching around two hundred pieces of paper. Everything will be immediately accessible when needed. The pocket dividers are a necessity because you’ll be accumulating contracts, samples, and little bits of wedding related papers that will require some organization. These bits of papers might have phone numbers on them that you eventually might want to inquire about. These pockets will help separate and organize this accumulation of papers. Everything will be in its own place for your convenience and easy access.

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(3) three hole plastic business card holders. You will be given a multitude of business cards from anyone who hears that you're planning a wedding. These cards should be easily available. You don't want to be searching around in a thousand different places for any one particular business card. All business cards relating to caterers, florists, etc., will go into their own respective pockets. Therefore, when you need a florist you will only have to go to the pocket that has all florists' business cards. Everything will be accessible to you in one easy and neat place.

Pocket calendar. This can be purchased at any retail or super store. It's simply a small hand-held pocket calendar that has every date between the day he proposed and the day you will both say, "I do". You can also use your PDA if you own one.

Bride Step Printable Workbook. This workbook can be found on BrideStep.com. It contains simple and easy to read pages that you can print out on your home printer, and "bam" everything you need, will be in one place. These are the things that you'll need to help organize yourself.

Once you have everything, let's go to the pocket dividers and prepare to label them. We will quickly go through all the titles that you'll require. The labels can be printed, written or even decorated. Remember, this binder will be your "bible". ● Overview. This will contain a general review of all your scheduled appointments, suppliers, etc. ● Budget. This is broken down into specific areas of the binder, and it has a different page for each area along with its own cover sheet. In the "Budget" area all the expense cover sheets will go together, so you will have a quick way to see how much money you have available to spend in a specific area. ● Bride. This is a very important area. This is where anything related to you personally is found. It can be your dress, your shoes, your make-up, your hair, a spa date, etc. All things pertaining to the bride go into this section.

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Groom. The same applies to him whether it’s his tuxedo, his hair, a spa date, etc. Anything relating to the groom will go into this area.

Bridal Party. Here you will keep such things that apply to their attire, their schedules, if they have any specific requests or needs, etc. Most important in this area will be their contact information, which will immediately be at your disposal.

Guest. This area will house your guest list complete with contact information, favors, and anything else that has to do with your guests.

Pre-Wedding Events. This section will hold anything leading up to the wedding itself. This can mean rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, or any other event that will be happening prior to the wedding.

Stationery. This encompasses your invitations, matchbooks, programs, napkins, personal stationery which you have prior to and also after the wedding, thank you notes, etc.

Photographer and Videographer. These areas will hold anything relating to each respectively.

Ceremony. This area will hold anything related to where you are going to have the ceremony, how it is going to be run, who is running it, what readings there will be, and who will read what. You will also have whatever special features you'll be adding. Maybe you're going to have a unity candle and have someone special light it. These things are all ceremony related.

Reception. In this area you will keep your seating charts, any special dances that you want, etc. This is actually a very open area. You might have someone special make an appearance, like your college mascot.

Food & Cake. This area consists of everything involving the catering and the cake as well. Here's where you will keep the lists of cake fillings, shapes, sizes, and all the different decorations you could possibly want. As far as the food is concerned, if it is

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related to your reception or being catered from outside, all paperwork relating to such will be placed in the "Food & Cake" area, unless you choose otherwise. ● Music. This area will hold everything DJ or band related. If you requested eight different songs, or can't decide between fifteen different songs - the "Music" section is where it belongs. If you have CDs to be played, then you can get CD covered inserts and put them in as well. ● Flower & Decoration. You will be placing any and all ideas pertaining to the overall look and feel of your event in this area. You will also have information about the decor for the ceremony and reception. ● Transportation & Lodging. This is the area where you will put anything limo related - or maybe horse and buggy. If you're renting an entire hotel for your wedding guests - that's right - into the "Transportation & Lodging" section it goes. ● Miscellaneous. Here's where you will keep your license and any check lists that may not fit into any other areas. ● Honeymoon. Yes, it is technically after the wedding, but you have to plan for it while you are planning your wedding. Here's where you are going to put all the different brochures, travel agents names, documents, vaccinations, and anything you will require pertaining to your honeymoon.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
I know that it’s a cliché but by doing a few simple things and some research, you will be able to find out everything that you need to know to make it possible to plan the perfect wedding. First off you're going to have to do your homework. Oh no -- back to school again! Be ready to dust off your notebooks and sharpen your pencils, because we're going to dive in and find out everything and anything there is to know about weddings. I'm also going to teach you how to be flexible. If you're able to give and take a little, or even bend a little here and there about certain

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aspects of your wedding, you will be surprised as to how much money, time and effort you can save. And best of all, you will keep your stress level low. My first tip for you is to think outside the box. Being creative is never a bad trait when it comes to a wedding. If you're able to create something instead of going out and spending thousands of dollars on it -- well then, why wouldn't you? Here is a little example from my own personal experience. I really wanted a personalized aisle runner. However, I was quoted at the very least $400 for it. Someone even quoted me $1200 due to the length of my church’s aisle. There was no way I could rationalize that expense to my fiancé since we were both paying for the wedding. I searched the Internet and found a “how to decorate your aisle runner”. It was a step-by-step instructional blog, with photos! So for under $100 and 10 hours of my time over the course of a few days, I had the exact aisle runner I wanted for a fraction of the cost. I still receive compliments on my aisle runner! Time = Savings. Trust me when I say this. The more time you have to spend on planning your wedding, the more time you have to look and shop around to find the best prices. The first thing you're going to do is research. Why are you going to research, and what do you need to research when it comes to weddings? Well, there are two answers. ● Pricing. You’ll need to search the average price regarding each vendor category that you will be using in regards to your wedding. This way you will know which vendors are ripping you off, and which ones will be saving you a ton of cash. ● Ideas. This probably is the most girlie part of it. You should get ideas and figure out what you like and what you don't. This way when you begin to visit vendors you will already know what you prefer, and you won't have to worry about them trying to sell you things that you eventually may not want or even need. Dust off your library cards. I want you to save money right from the start and don't want you to spend hundreds of dollars on magazines. Go to the library. Take a Saturday morning or a
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Sunday afternoon, and go browse through all of their bridal magazines. You won't have to spend a dime on them. Take notes and write down the names of the florists, vendors, designers, and caterers that you want to look into in depth. You can also make copies at the library. But do this sparingly, because you do want to save money. Networking is very important. ● If you live in or near a major metropolis definitely try to attend the expos and showcases that are offered seasonally. Big cities such as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Miami, Seattle, etc., are the spots where vendors display their wares. These vendors from various categories such as music, food, flowers, etc., all get together, usually in a hotel or a convention center, and have these expos. So you actually get to see hundreds of vendors in only one afternoon, and usually for free or at a very low reasonable price. This is a great place to network. ● Talk to other people. You must know someone who is getting or has gotten married already that you can talk to. Find out who they are using or have already used. If you went to a wedding for your cousin and fell in love with the DJ, inquire as to the name of the DJ company. Most people will be happy to give out this information, because you're actually paying them a compliment. They made a great choice for their wedding, and you want the best for your wedding. ● Talk to vendors. Some florists have been around for so many years that they've worked with mostly everyone in the business. They probably have worked with every band, catering hall, etc. This will help you to find out who the best are. Just be a little leery when it comes to this. Find out if they are recommending these companies because they truly believe that they're the best in the business, or because they're going to be getting a commission or referral fee. Just be aware! But, this is really a great avenue to go. ● Your local college. This is something that you may not really have thought to consider, but I have a friend that saved almost $2,300.00 simply by using this branch. What am I referring to? Well, its none other than your "local college". College students studying film, music and photography need to build their portfolios. What better way for them to
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do this then by having you use their newly acquired expertise. You will be saving money and they'll be building their portfolios. You might even find the next Vera Wang, Emeril Lagasse, or Martin Scorcese for one-half the price of the cost of a professional. ○ Always use juniors and seniors if you go this route. Be sure to inquire about their past work, transcripts and letters of recommendations from their professors. ○ Find out if they are employed by someone and ask for a letter of recommendation from the employer. This information will help you make sure that they're responsible and doing this for their career, not just for some quick cash. ○ Since they are students and you're getting a service for less money than you usually would, you will have to play a bigger role in the planning and execution of your wedding. You are going to have to be more hands-on with them. You can't just leave it up to the students, because they may not know actually where to go with certain matters. But, the plus here is that you will be able to save money. Here's a brief story for you. A bride was getting married in 2003, and turned to a friend who was attending the esteemed Fashion Institute of Technology to make her dress. She offered to pay for the materials and was able to get her dress for $250. This friend designed and created a one-of-a-kind dress for her. This past summer that same friend sold a similar design based on that dress for over $5,000.00. So, quite a bit of savings if you ask me! The next aspect of research is for you to "Ride the Internet Surfboard". You're going to surf the web high and low and bookmark your favorite sites. Have a folder in your favorites section entitled "wedding". This will contain all the sites that you have come across. You can easily print the information whenever necessary. And, you won't have to worry about cluttering up your binder, because it will all be available to you right on the Internet! Another advantage of surfing the net is that you can expand your choices. Let's say you live in NYC and are having a western themed wedding. Western themed paraphernalia is not exactly running rampant in NYC, so why not contact a vendor in Dallas or San Antonio, and have them send you samples for your wedding. Maybe some favors or invitations that are especially made for a western theme. Things that may not have been available to you before now are thanks to the net.
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Speaking of the Internet - I would like to highlight three websites that I believe will come in handy when planning your wedding. ● First, I'm sure you've already heard about theknot.com. While I think their best aspect beyond tons of gallery images, is the advice and tips they give, I'm not crazy about them because they do not go into depth on certain topics. They give you an overview, but they don't usually get to the nitty-gritty, and that's sometimes what you need. If you just require an overview or generalization then definitely visit theknot.com. If you need something more in depth then definitely do the research on your own right now. ● Second is weddingchannel.com. The best aspect of this site, in my opinion, is their registry. It is searchable by first name or last name of either person in the couple. Therefore, your guests will easily be able to find the items that you would like for your home. The weddingchannel.com is very similar to theknot.com in that they offer you a lot of information, but it's all generalized information. Just be aware when using either of these two sites for specific information, because it may not be available. ● The next site when it comes to saving money is the best. You've got it, eBay.com. You can find absolutely anything on eBay with deep discounts such as designer wedding dresses for one-third the price and only worn once. So, you can get a Vera Wang dress for one-tenth the cost, and simply pay for the dry cleaning. You really will be saving a ton of money. In addition to dresses, you can find favors, ribbons, and other generalized items that you may not be able to locate elsewhere at such great prices. As I've said before, when it comes to planning a wedding you must acquire an abundance of knowledge. This information acquired from your knowledge through your research must be at your fingertips at any given moment.

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BUSINESS CARDS
The next aspect of this course is all about business cards. You would be surprised to find out how much power these little pieces of paper possess. There are three parts to this. ● First, you're going to collect them. Collect as many business cards as humanly possible. Just take them from every vendor, expo, associate, etc. Then weed through them gradually. The plus of business cards is that they now all have URLs on them. You can pull up the vendor's site and do a pre-interview of them. You can look around and see what they offer, if they have galleries available, and how in depth their website really goes. I am actually a website snob so this truly helped me narrow down my vendor choices. If their website wasn’t up to my standards, their card got tossed in the trash. This can be used as an informational tool for weeding out the good from the bad. ● Second, you're going to trade them. That's right, you're going to be making your own business cards for you and your fiancé but I’ll get back to that. ● Third, use them. Get all the information you can from them. Don't just have them pile up. Go through them, do research and talk to people. They are only as good as the paper they're written on. How are you going to make your cards? ● All you need is a word processing program and to make a trip to one of your local office supply stores, such as Staples, Office Max or Office Depot. They have an entire section of stationery where you will find business card templates, typically by Avery. ● Simply select the template of the card you've picked on your software program and you're in business.

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Don't be intimidated, because they're simple to make and easy to use. It saves you a lot of time when it comes to writing out contracts and trading information with other people. When it comes to the expos and showcases you'll appreciate them. During these events vendors usually have a contest in order to get your attention. They ask you to fill in your contact information and eventually use that information to contact you. Instead of sitting there and filling out cards provided by them, simply hand them your “handy-dandy” business card. Drop it in their little fishbowl and proceed to the next table. You want to include the bride and groom's information. I suggest printing the bride’s on the front and the groom’s on the back. ● ● ● ● ● ● Name Mailing Address (Street Address, City, State and Zip Code) Home phone number Work phone number Email address Wedding Date (if it’s picked out already)

This way you will always be accessible to the people you wish to be accessible to. Simply print a bunch of cards, place them in your wallet or in your handy-dandy binder, and you're on your way. Trust me when I say that collecting and creating business cards is the quickest and easiest part of planning your wedding, as well as one of the most helpful and convenient.

PICK THE DATE
Picking the date of the wedding is a very important subject, so let's dive right into it. ● The closer the holidays are to the day of your wedding, the higher the prices are going to be. For example, I know that with Christmas weddings some aspects may be cheaper, but not when you have to deal with florists and reception halls. During the holidays these two vendors are a bit pricier.

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You must be aware of city and sporting events that may put a strain on local vendors. Be sure to check ahead to make sure there isn't a convention or Super Bowl going on in your town that may conflict with your wedding. Those types of events may make it difficult for your out-of-town guests to find lodging and transportation, not to mention the possibility of gridlock due to the excessive amount of traffic there will be.

Now, I'm going to go through the calendar quickly and explain what the most expensive, moderate, and least expensive times are. ● Let's start with the most expensive. It's going to cost you two to three times more money to have your wedding during the months of May through October, because it's the time when the weather is usually the most consistent. People want to get married outside where the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. This is when most people prefer to have their wedding; therefore, vendors have no problem raising their prices. Saturday evenings are one of the most expensive times. It's the most popular because people usually don't have to work the next day. They have that whole day to pamper themselves and just sit around and relax. Year round, Saturday evenings will always be more expensive than any other day of the week. ● Now we can move on to the moderate or average priced times. This is where it's not going to be very expensive yet not very inexpensive. April, November, and December are the most reasonable. Wait, did I said December! How much closer can you get to the holidays? Well, this is pretty close, isn't it? The reason I am singling out the month of December is because of its unpredictable weather. Not everyone wants to get married when there could be a possibility of snow. An accumulation of possibly three feet of snow in your area would make it very difficult for catering halls and florists to book weddings during this time. If you're going to take this chance please be careful as to what day you're going to choose. Be aware of holiday parties in December as well. As far as days of the week are concerned, Friday nights are usually moderately priced.
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We will now discuss the least expensive times. The least expensive months to get married are January, February, and March. This especially pertains to the north simply because of weather. Again, as in December, we have the possibility of snow, which is a big concern. While Valentine's Day is the most expensive day to get married (in the flower department) and one of the most popular, February is generally less expensive than other months. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are very inexpensive simply because the majority of brides aim to have Friday and Saturday evening receptions.

While you're picking the date please keep the above advice in mind and pick the date that is the happiest for you. Remember to give yourself enough time to plan your wedding. Don't just rush into a date because of the day of the week or the time of the year.

THEME & COLOR SCHEME
My number one tip when it comes to wedding themes and color schemes is that it should always reflect the wedding couple's love. It should reflect your relationship, your personalities, and who you are as a whole. I like to use baseball as an example because for my husband and I, it’s a perfect fit. If you both love baseball and you have season tickets to your hometown team, make your wedding about baseball. If your friends describe you as the typical baseball couple, then bring it to them. Making your wedding about you two is more than just picking out your favorite colors. It is about displaying your love, your interests, and your personalities together as one for everyone to see and enjoy. Let's move right along to the top three reasons to even have a theme.

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1. Coordinating and matching all aspects of your wedding will provide one seamless picture to your guests. 2. Decision-making is made a lot easier. It minimizes your choices immensely instead of having to search through six hundred different invitations. You can say to your vendor, "Listen, we're going to have a baseball themed wedding in the middle of October, therefore, I need to see your collection of fun baseball invitations". Not only will your invitations match everything, but also the rest of your stationery, any other paperwork, and your flowers. Everything will match accordingly. 3. Creativity will save you tons of cash. It's just plain and simple. You can think of things that are not normally wedding related and incorporate them. Thereby, making it a unique wedding where everyone who attends will absolutely walk away astonished. Let’s talk about my top three tips when it comes to dealing with your theme. 0. The colors should compliment the location. When you look at the location please take a picture, memorize it or whatever. You should not have colors that will clash, because it will draw people's attention to the wrong area. 1. The colors should be carried throughout the decor and the rest of the day. They should be carried through to your floral and overall decorations. The same family of colors should be utilized for the bridesmaids' attires, the ushers' ties, and any place where you can incorporate that color scheme. Your family of colors will really work to bring the whole day together. 2. The colors should compliment the season. Dark colors are favorable in the fall and winter. So, look at those emerald greens or navy blues for those fall or winter months. Lighter colors are favorable for the spring and summer. Any pastel colors such as pinks or yellows are fine. Today, there are three extremely popular wedding themes across the country. 1. Beach theme. The colors usually associated with this theme are tans, blues, whites, and beiges. All light colors that you can definitely find right at the beach. The decor, well that's simple, could consist of shells, sand, and pebbles - things of that nature. The
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attire should always be light fabrics, think linens and silks. Something light and not too detailed for the bride. You don't usually see a lot of embroidery or big heavy taffeta gowns in the summertime. 2. Vintage Glamour. The colors are usually reds, blacks and golds, which are used to make the bright white of your dress sparkle. The decor! There are always crystals somewhere. Sleek, clean lines and very little to no clutter. Attire is usually of a rich fabric - silk, fur, etc. These types of fabrics usually work better with this type of wedding simply because they take place in the wintertime. 3. Woodland/rustic. The colors are usually burgundys, browns, and dark blues. The decor is usually very simple but not always what you’d expect at a wedding. Nature plays a huge role in this sort of wedding, so expect to see wood, leaves and fresh flowers. The spectrum of attire for a woodland/rustic theme runs the gamut. You can see heavier fabrics such as suede or lighter fabrics like cotton. Your only limitation is your imagination. Typically, you will see this theme being used in the spring and autumn. By making sure your themes and colors are chosen at the beginning of your wedding plans, it will leave you with one less decision to make, and more room for the other necessary decisions.

BUDGET CALCULATOR & BREAKDOWN
This is one of the most important topics of the entire course. Weddings cost money and this section is going to let you know exactly how much money you can safely spend on yours. We are going to discuss the budget calculator. This will show you how much money you really have to spend. In order to find your exact budget, you must follow these seven easy steps. I'm going to run through them and then I will explain each one.

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In the first step we're going to calculate your Combined Monthly Income (CMI). This includes the income of both you and your fiancé.

Next, we're going to find your Combined Yearly Income (CYI). Again, this includes both yours and your fiancé’s income.

Third, we're going to find your Yearly Expenses (YE). This includes all the money that you shell out each month, each year, and I mean everything.

Next, we're going to find the Total Funds Available (TFA) between the two of you, and how much money you really have that you can spend.

Fifth, we're going to find your Usable Funds (UF). These are the funds you can use for everything, but not the total funds that you necessarily have. Just because you have a million dollars doesn't mean that you should spend a million dollars.

● ●

Next, we're going to find your Subtotal. And finally we're going to get your Budget Total.

Let's first find your CMI. ● This is the bride's monthly income plus the groom's monthly income, which will equal your combined monthly income. I'm going to give you an example. Every month you and your fiancé make $4,000 each. Together this will equal $8,000 a month. Your Combined Monthly Income is $8,000 each month. Now that we know your Combined Monthly Income, let's find your Combined Yearly Income. ● We're going to take your CMI and multiply it by 12 because there are twelve months in a year. This will give us your CYI. Let's continue with the example. Your Combined Monthly Income which was $8,000 x 12 months = $96,000. Therefore, your CYI is $96,000.00. Let's find your Yearly Expenses. In order to find your YE we must follow a couple of steps.

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Determine the Combined Monthly Expenses of both the bride and groom. Anything you pay on a monthly basis - your rent, car payment, phone, etc. We are going to add these expenses up and times them by 12. Now we have the first number.

Determine your Combined Quarterly Expenses. Anything you don't pay monthly but pay four times a year. Maybe your insurance is one of them. We are going to take these expenses and times them by 4.

Determine your Combined Annual Expenses. Anything you pay on a yearly basis. Memberships are usually a good example of this. So, your yearly gym membership dues will be added to your yearly expenses.

Determine any other expenses you have. Get an average and determine those expenses on a month-to-month basis.

Add your Combined Monthly Expenses + Combined Quarterly Expenses + Combined Annual Expenses + Other Expenses to equal your Combined Total Yearly Expenses. For example, we're going to say that your: Combined Monthly Expenses are $48,000.00 + Combined Quarterly Expenses are $3,000.00 + Combined Annual Expenses are $1,000.00 + Other Expenses are $1,000.00. Total Yearly Expenses are $53,000.00.

We're going to find your Total Funds Available. ● In order to find your TFA we are going to take your Combined Yearly Income and minus your Total Yearly Expenses. In keeping with our example, your Yearly Income of $96,000.00 minus your Total Yearly Expenses of $53,000.00 will make your Total Funds Available $43,000.00. Now we will find your Usable Funds.

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In order to find your UF we have to take your Total Funds Available minus any personal savings, which on average should be 10% of each paycheck. You should be putting away 10% of every paycheck you receive, and never touch it except for emergencies.

Then we're going to add your contributions - if you have received any gifts from anyone, or if your parents have decided that they're going to contribute to your wedding. These will be added into the Fund. All totaled we're going to get your UF. We have $43,000.00 as your Total Funds Available.

● ● ●

We are then going to minus 10% of your personal savings which should be $4,300.00. Then we're going to add $10,000.00, because this couple's parents are generous. The Usable Funds equal $48,700.00.

Let's find your Subtotal, in order to do that we are going to take your Usable Funds and add any previous savings. You and your fiancé may have been putting money away in a separate account or a piggybank your whole life - saving it for this day. ● We're going to take your UF of $48,700.00 and add your previous savings to get your Subtotal. Since the example couple has saved $5,000.00 for their wedding the Subtotal will be $53,700.00. Finally comes the last step where we're going to get your Budget Total. ● To do this we're going to take 10% of your Subtotal. We want to hold onto that 10% for emergency costs. This is the money that does not get touched unless it is absolutely necessary. This 10% will be your salvation. This is the money you'll use if something unexpected occurs, or you've just simply gone over your budget. Therefore, you won't go into any type of debt if you remember to take out that 10% from your Subtotal right from the beginning. Now, take your Subtotal and minus 10% of your Subtotal for emergency costs and that gives you your Budget Total. This couple's Subtotal was $53,700.00, minus 10% of that which is $5,370.00, making their Budget Total $48,330.00. This is the amount of money they'll have to spend on their entire wedding. That's not too shabby now, is it!

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It will take about a thirty minutes to an hour to calculate, but you will know the exact amount of money you have on hand with which to plan that dream wedding. Here are a few more tips to manage your budget. ● If you're getting any contributions be sure to find out what strings are attached in advance. Let's say your mother says we're going to give you $10,000.00. Now you're ecstatic, you're happy, you're jumping for joy, you now have $10,000.00 to play with. Well, when it comes to your picking out flowers, your wedding hall, or your dress there might be strings attached. You may have that one person who'll say: "Well, I gave you that money", or just may want more of a say regarding your wedding plans then they possibly should have. Be sure to find out what if any clauses go with that “gift”. If they're giving you that money free and clear to do whatever you want with, then that's fine. If there are restrictions or requests included, be sure to make your terms clear before you accept any contributions. ● Get a fixed budget if contributions are on an item to item basis. If, for example, your mother wants to pay for your flowers, find out how much she's looking to spend on all your flowers. Because if you go into the florist and you are choosing $5,000 worth of flowers, but your mom has only budgeted herself to be able to spend only $3,000, then you have a problem. You'll now have to come up with the other $2,000. So, find out the fixed budget contributions. Trust me when I say this. It will eliminate tons of family disputes. Let's talk about your savings. As far as your savings are concerned I have three very important tips for you. 1. Open a joint account where both signatures are required for withdrawals. This is to insure that both of you are aware of what money is being spent from this account. This is very important for engaged couples who are not yet married. This is not considered joint property. If on the off chance you break up and call off your engagement, and it's done in a poor manner, there's a chance that money in the account may be withdrawn. If one of you becomes angered and withdraws all the money, the other person will have no legal rights for the return of the money unless both signatures were a requirement for any and all withdrawals. That's why you must make sure that both signatures are required for withdrawals. Remember, this can happen to anyone.

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2. Make weekly deposits. This means that every week you're putting in a specific amount of money from both of your paychecks. You will be so surprised as to how easy it is to save money this way. 3. No matter how big you want your dream wedding to be, please oh please, don't take out a loan. Loans may cost you so much more than you want to borrow. And in the long run you're going to wind up spending tons more money in interest and late payments, heaven for bid! Why not have a smaller scale wedding and be free and clear as far as expenses are concerned. Take a little time and sit down with your fiancé and go over your budget. Having a set and distinctive budget number will make things easier for everyone involved. Now that you have a set budget amount of how much you can spend, let's do a basic budget breakdown on how much of that money you should be spending on a particular area of the wedding. If any items are included in other areas or are being paid for by someone else, you can move that allotted percent to miscellaneous. ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 50% - reception, food, and any type of beverages 13% - photos and videos 13% - music and/or entertainment 10% - bride and groom apparel (dress, veil, tuxedo, shoes, etc.) 2% - transportation (cars, limos, etc.) 2% - stationery (invitations, save the dates, thank you notes, etc.) 2% - cake 4% - decor/flowers The remaining 4% should be allotted for miscellaneous items

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WEDDING CONSULTANT - HIRE OR NOT TO HIRE
We are going to be discussing wedding consultants, and whether or not this is someone you should look into hiring. There are three questions when it comes to wedding consultants or wedding planners. (1) Who are they? (2) What do they do? and (3) Are they really worth it? Let's try to answer each question for you. ● Who are they? Wedding consultants and wedding planners are one in the same. A bridal consultant is actually the sales person in a bridal salon. Now that we have cleared up the distinctions between the aforementioned, I'd like you to know that there are actually men and women who know everything and anything about the wedding industry. These people are considered walking wedding encyclopedias. Anything regarding flowers, music, decor, cakes, or whatever - these people can help you. They're what you would call "life savers", because they have been involved in literally thousands of these functions. They're usually extremely organized and very accommodating. They're able to multitask, managing six different things at one time. They're referred to as people with Type A personalities. ● What do they do? Well, wedding consultants do a variety things. Let me just highlight a few things for you. ○ They can manage your budget instead of you having to sit down with your calculator. ○ They can actually breakdown your budget into separate categories for you, and allot money to you as needed.

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○ ○

They also will help you save money when possible. Vendor Referrals. If your wedding consultant is very established and has been around for a long time, they have probably worked with just about everyone within a fifty-mile radius of you. They can actually help you to weed out the unfavorable vendors such as florists, musicians, etc. and steer you in the right direction.

Contract negotiations. It can be a very daunting job to sit down with a manager of a reception hall and deal with negotiating your contract. What the wedding consultant does is to help figure out what you exactly want, what the site manager wants, and help create a contract that is ideal for both parties.

They're also on-site coordinators. There are so many details to deal with on your wedding day. You'll see! Planning a special wedding depends a lot on details. That day you'll have to finish paying people, tipping people, and whatnot. The wedding consultants control the entire day. They're the ones people will go to if a problem arises.

Now, let's discuss my favorite - the bride's personal assistant. Instead of having the bride run around searching for her pocketbook in order to fix her make-up, her hair, or simply get a glass of water - this is where they come to the rescue. They'll get you anything you need or want. Think of them as your own personal genie.

Event Design and Decor. It's very difficult for a bride who is not accustomed to planning events to picture all the small elements coming together for one big grand illusion. The wedding consultant is actually there to do that for you. They'll explain to you how this flower will look with this particular fabric against this table. They really are good when it comes to overall designs and coordination.

Etiquette Advice. This is a big stickler of a topic for me! Proper etiquette when it comes to your wedding is a must. You have to be able to word things correctly. Sticky situations regarding families are going to arise. Wedding consultants are

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there to help "unstick" you - so to speak. ● Are they worth it? Depending on your budget and personality, a full-service wedding consultant is a great asset. However, if you're able to devote a lot of time to planning your wedding and you follow this course to the letter, you may not require a consultant since they can be costly. They usually charge anywhere between 10 to 20% of your entire budget. That's a lot of money if you aren't willing to spend $100,000 on your wedding. In my opinion it really depends on your personality. If you are unorganized, can't multitask well, and your fiancé isn't really that much of a help, maybe just consulting a wedding planner for tips on certain aspects, such as your budget or vendor referrals is the way to go. They can charge you per service and not just for the whole package. If your budget allows though, I highly suggest hiring a personal assistant/”day of consultant”. Whether or not you go for a professional, or just someone who's very accommodating and ready to help you on that day, it is definitely a necessity. You really need someone who is going to be on top of things, to make sure that you eat, you're being hydrated, that your hair and make-up are fine, etc. Now that we have gone over who they are and what they do, it's up to you to figure out if they're worth the money or not.

Click Here or go to BrideStep.com to sign up for our newsletter. It’s jam packed with extra tips and tricks.

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Chapter 2
PICK YOUR BRIDAL PARTY
Choosing attendants consists of the following eight key points, which I would like to share with you. ● Your attendants should have a meaningful relationship, which has stood the test of time, with either the bride or the groom. These aren't friends that you've just made a month ago. These are the friends and family members who have stuck by you through thick and thin, and have had a great impact on your life. They will be your friends for probably the next twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. ● Your attendants need to be responsible. What if the groom wants to have some of his fraternity brothers from college? That’s fine, if they have remained close friends and they've matured. However, if they still think they are eighteen years old and in college, this might not be such a great idea. Besides you want your groom to show up sober to the wedding, right! ● Your attendants should be able to afford the numerous costs that come with this honor. They should be able to cover the expenses for their attire, travel, and contribute to the costs of the bridal shower, bachelor or bachelorette parties. ● Your attendants should also be able and willing to take on additional duties. These are people who you can call up at 6:00pm on a Friday night crying that you haven’t finished your invitations yet. They should offer to come over and be willing to take on the responsibility of helping to complete those invitations. They should be people that will
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make themselves available to you when you are in a bind. These are the people who should be able to help you run errands. They’re supposed to be making your day and the time leading up to this day memorable and easier for you. So, be sure to pick your people wisely. They should be dependable and able to do additional things, as opposed to people who just like to stand there and look pretty for the camera.

● Your attendants should not be chosen out of any obligation. Don’t let someone tell you
that you must choose cousin Theresa because they were in your mother’s bridal party. This is not the way to do it. You want people that you're close to and share a camaraderie with. You want people whose presence you'll enjoy as much as they'll enjoy yours. Don’t pick anyone because you feel that you have to – you don’t!

● Having two best men and two maids/matrons of honor is common and absolutely
acceptable. If you have two sisters, but simply can’t decide between the two, then choose them both. Not only will they be able to split the duties as to who should do what for you, but they'll both have that feeling of being very special. Also, if you have two best friends you can go ahead and choose both. Not one person will be offended if you choose two people to play the same role. This is your day. It’s totally up to you – have three if you want!

● You are not obligated to pick one or more of your siblings to be your maid of honor,
matron of honor, or best man. This simply means that you pick the most responsible person for this particular position, who will best be able to accommodate you with everything that is requested of them. This is the person you want standing by your side on your wedding day. Someone you know who would take a bullet for you! I know that sounds a little extreme, but it's only taken out of context. Remember, we're talking imaginary bullet here! Bottom line is that you need people around you whom you can trust. People who will be of some advantage to you, and also possess the ability and understanding to share your feelings with. Now, if it happens that you're not that close with your brother or sister, then don’t choose either one to be your number one in command – so to speak!

● While I said that you shouldn’t choose anyone out of obligation, the one exception
should be the choice of your fiancé’s siblings - which is usually a good idea. Did I say “a
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good idea”, what I really meant was “a great idea”! If he has two sisters it will be in every ones best interest to include both in your bridal party. Trust me, twenty years down the road you will thank me for this tip! Even if you aren’t close to them, or they’re ten years older or ten years your junior, in the long run it will be appreciated and remembered by both sides of the family. It will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with your intendeds’ family. Fortunately, my husband and I both jumped at the idea of having each other’s siblings in our wedding party. This was one less problem for us to deal with. Every little bit helps! Now that you know the eight key points on choosing your bridal attendants – get to it!

TOP 3 EXPENSES FOR THE WEDDING PARTY
You may wonder: “Why do I need to know how much they're spending? It’s my day and I already have enough to worry about.” You have to worry about what they are spending, simply because you don’t want to impose on anyone who may not have the necessary funds. You also want to be able to explain the expenses that they will incur, so that they can make an informed decision. There are three top expenses. I will explain each expense to you in great detail. First and foremost is the attire. Second is travel and transportation. And last is the prewedding contribution. Attire Simply to be dressed appropriately, the female attendant has the responsibility of purchasing an assortment of items: ● Dress: The cost is an important factor when choosing a dress. Make sure that it is a reasonable amount of money. Remember, they will probably only wear this dress one time.

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Shoes: Please be sure to pick out affordable and comfortable shoes. Try to choose a shoe that doesn’t need dyeing, so that your bridesmaids can wear them over and over again.

Accessories: Jewelry has become a popular attendant’s gift from the bride. If you're going to take this route and save your attendants this expense, be sure that this is not the only gift you're giving. I will delve into that in a later chapter.

Purse: It's a well-known fact that most women can’t go anywhere with simply having just one or two things in their possession. We need a purse to carry all our necessities including money and cell phones.

Hair and makeup: If your budget allows - you can treat your bridesmaids to their hair and makeup. Even if your budget doesn’t allow - there are two other options you can resort too. ○ ○ Have your bridesmaids go to a specific place for hair and makeup. Give brief guidelines as to what you would like their hair to look like, and what type of makeup you would prefer them to wear. Using these guidelines will help them find someone to do their hair and makeup in their own particular price range. This is probably the best way to go!

Always give your attendants options to choose from: an expensive or inexpensive option – both of which you will be happy with. At least they won’t be put on the spot of having to pay more money than they can possibly afford. A little personal input regarding my own wedding: I had a large bridal party at my wedding. When It came to picking the dresses, I narrowed it down to 3 dresses, which were all in the same price range and let the bridesmaids vote on their favorite. The dress that received the most votes was the dress they wore. In regards to shoes, I simply asked that they use their judgment and be comfortable. I trusted their fashion sense enough to not worry about it. They all wore shoes that were comfortable for them, and ranged from three-inch heels to flats. The dresses covered their shoes so it really didn’t matter to me. I had the same outlook for their hair and makeup as I did their shoes. My thought process was simple - they were all gorgeous
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women who knew what looked best for them. Since not everyone looks good with their hair in an updo or down, I let them decide. In the end, I was thrilled because they all looked flawlessly beautiful and natural. Let’s move on to the male attendants. They have it slightly easier! ● They must rent a tuxedo that commonly consists of a jacket, a pair of pants, a tie, and a vest or a cummerbund. In every neighborhood there are tons of places to go to rent tuxedos, and just like everything else in the world, there is the high end and low end of the spectrum. Your best bet is to not go where everybody else goes, tells you to go, or has gone, but rather go to the place where you feel most comfortable. Go to the place where you have already spoken with the personnel at the store, believe they can provide you with a quality tuxedo at a reasonable price, and where they will include any type of alterations that are required. ● Another expense for male attendants are shoes. Most stores in metro areas such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles include the price of the shoes as part of the package when renting a tuxedo. This added feature will save your male attendants a lot of money, and save you the worry of their shoes possibly not matching their tuxedo. ● Next, there are the accessories, which are items that are usually included when renting a tuxedo - such as cuff links or tiepins. You can let your attendants know if they have to buy anything specific. Most guys’ attires are a lot easier to determine than girls.

Travel and Transportation Depending upon where your ceremony and reception are located, your attendants may need to spend money on gas for their car, which nowadays isn’t inexpensive. Another expense could be the rental of a car. If it’s a destination wedding, they may have to incur a plane or train ticket fee, and may even have to pay for an overnight hotel reservation. When you’re choosing the location of your wedding, please remember these few details when considering your attendants and guests. Try to make things easier for all involved by locating a rental car company that can offer you a discount for group car rentals. As far as planes, trains, and hotels, you may want to speak with a travel agent or directly to a hotel, airline, or train
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company to obtain a group discount code. This way your bridal party will be saving money, and have a specific place to stay overnight.

Pre-wedding Celebrations When you're asking someone to be a part of your wedding, you're asking them not only to show up the day of your wedding, but to also show up at four to five different pre-wedding celebrations. ● ● The first one is the engagement party - if you choose to have one. Second are the bridal showers. I use the plural tense because many people tend to have more then one bridal shower. In most areas the bridesmaids pay for the bridal shower. Even if that isn’t the case, they usually are expected to give a more expensive gift. ● The bridal party has to be responsible for sharing the cost of the bachelor and bachelorette parties. It is no longer just the responsibility of the maid of honor and the best man to incur all the costs of these two parties. ● The fourth is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. No real costs are incurred when it comes to this because the attendants are not required to give gifts for either the rehearsal or rehearsal dinner. The attendants do have to incur the cost of getting to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Depending on the time, date, and location, it might cost them quite a bit of money. Just be aware of these three areas when asking your family and friends to be a part of your wedding party.

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OTHER IMPORTANT JOBS
There are jobs you can give your friends and family who are not a part of your bridal party. These five jobs show that you care about these people, that they are important to you, and that you want to include them in your wedding day. Just because they're not necessarily in your bridal party doesn't mean you don't have the ability to make them feel special. ● Readers: Why not give someone, who is exceptional at giving speeches or talking in public, the job of reading at your ceremony. Regardless of the religion or the ceremony of choice, there are always at least one or two readings that must be given. ● Photographer or Videographer: I'm not saying you shouldn't get professionals, but you could entrust one of your friends who is excellent at taking photos and videos to do this job. Give him/her your personal camera so that by the end of the day your wedding photos will instantly be available for viewing. Today, digital cameras and digital video recorders make many jobs a lot simpler. Wouldn't it be great to see those pictures of your entire wedding minutes after it has ended while relaxing in your hotel room? ● Singer: If you have a family member or a friend who has an exceptional voice - why not highlight them by having them sing during the ceremony or reception! ● Musician: If someone plays an instrument, and I don't mean an electric guitar or the drums, but a violin or some other appropriate instrument - why not let them play at the ceremony or reception. You automatically now have a musician for free, and that person

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in turn will be appreciated for his/her talent. ● Planner: Have your most organized friend or family member aid you in your planning process for free. You can ask your Aunt Mary by saying, "Aunt Mary, you’re the most organized person I know. Would you be available to help me plan my entire wedding". Do you have any idea how absolutely thrilled and honored Aunt Mary will feel? These are the five jobs, which you can delegate to others. Maybe you wanted to include them in your bridal party, but it wasn’t possible. Instead of having fifty-seven people in your bridal party, you've still managed to make them a part of your wedding day by having them participate with behind the scene tasks. See, you've made everyone happy now!

HIGHLIGHTED WEDDING PARTY DUTIES
Besides simply posing and looking pretty for pictures, your wedding party will be responsible for specific tasks which will help keep the day running smoothly. Maid/Matron of Honor - Now, how do you decide between the two? Well, that's simple. The maid of honor is an unmarried woman, and the matron of honor is a married woman. See the choice has been made easy for you! ● She's also considered the bride's "right hand gal" or "gal Friday". Anything that the bride needs help with, the maid or matron of honor or let's simply call her “MOH” will be there to help in any way possible. ● She attends all pre-wedding celebrations and consults with the mother of the bride and/or the mother of the groom for the coordination of both the bridal shower and bachelorette parties. ● She pays for her own attire and her own transportation.

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She coordinates with the bridesmaids. This means at times she will act as a liaison for the bride. If you're having a very large wedding party, say ten girls, you can't be calling every single girl for every little thing. That's what your MOH is for.

She's also going to collect the bride's attire after the reception. If the bride changes her clothing after the reception and is immediately going on her honeymoon, the MOH is responsible for the collection of her dress, veil, undergarments, shoes, and whatnot. Thereafter, bringing the clothes to the cleaners in accordance with the bride's wishes.

She also assists with the writing of the invitations and thank you notes.

Best Man ● ● He is the groom's right hand man. He is also going to attend all pre-wedding celebrations, coordinate the bachelor party, and pay for his own attire and transportation. ● Here is where his job gets really important! He gives the "big toast" at the reception. No one really ever discusses the father of the bride's toast or even the groom's toast for that matter. It's always the best man's toast. So, be sure your best man is someone who is a relatively good public speaker. He doesn't have to be an eloquent speaker, "good" is acceptable. Depending on who he is and what his relationship is to the groom - be sure that someone proof reads his toast to make sure that it contains appropriate material. ● He is also responsible for driving the couple to their destination after the reception. Whether it is their hotel, home, or straight to the airport, he is the one who is responsible for the driving. Therefore, he can't be drinking in excess throughout the entire day. ● He's also responsible for all parents and grandparents getting home safely. He doesn't necessarily have to drive them all home, but it is his job to find them adequate transportation if it hasn't already been provided.

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Bridesmaids ● ● ● ● Act as deputy hostesses at the reception. Attend all pre-wedding celebrations. Pay for their attire and transportation. Help the bride as needed with wedding tasks.

Junior Bridesmaids ● ● These are any girls in your party between the ages of eight and sixteen. Their dresses are just a little bit different, not extremely different, but just enough so that there is a distinction between the older and younger girls. ● Their parents pay for their attire and transportation, unless they have a job and choose to pay for it themselves. ● Junior bridesmaids attend all pre-wedding celebrations as deemed appropriate. For example, they usually don't attend the bachelorette party. ● Junior bridesmaids also help with the children. Just as the older regular bridesmaids act as deputy hostesses for the reception, the junior bridesmaids similarly act as hostesses for the children. They help corral them, get them to settle down, and whatnot. Side Note: If you have a large bridal party with numerous girls of different ages, there seems to be a new trend that is being followed. For instance, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon everyone in the bridal party goes out together and does an activity that is appropriate for all ages. Then later in the evening the younger girls return home and the older girls go out and do more of an adult activity. everyone. This is definitely acceptable and a perfect medium to include

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Groomsmen and Ushers ● ● ● ● ● Any male that is not the groom or best man is considered a groomsman or usher. They attend all pre-wedding celebrations. They pay for their own attire and transportation. They will help the groom with wedding tasks as needed. They seat guests prior to the ceremony. For Christian weddings the bride's family sits on the left side of the church, and the groom's family sits on the right. Jewish weddings are the reverse. The bride's family sits on the right side of the temple, and the groom's family sits on the left side. Review this with the groomsmen and ushers in order to help them seat guests properly. ● They distribute the wedding programs prior to the ceremony, and the birdseed after the ceremony. If you're having bubbles, rose pedals, or having a butterfly release after the ceremony for your guests - they're the ones who will be in charge. ● They also handle the aisle runner for the bride. And I'm not referring to some guy running down the aisle - a little joke here to see if you are still with me? Good, so let's move on! Flower Girls ● Usually between the ages of four and eight. These ages are not set in stone so use your judgment. I had three flower girls for my wedding. One girl was 3 years old at the time and the other two were 4 years old. ● ● Traditionally, the bride pays for the flower girl's attire. The girl’s parents, however, pay for any and all transportation.

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Attends all pre-wedding celebrations, but usually not the bachelorette party.

Ring and/or Train Bearers ● Simply holds a pillow, or some type of object that contains the actual rings or symbolic rings, and carries them down the aisle directly towards the bride and groom. ● The trainbearer is a young boy that actually lifts the bride's train off the floor and helps to carry it down the aisle. ● ● ● ● Usually between the ages of four and eight. The groom pays for their attire. The children's parents pay for any transportation. Attends all pre-wedding celebrations but usually not the bachelor party.

If you have someone who you would like to ask to be a part of your wedding, but who is incapable of handling any or all responsibilities, I strongly advise you to choose someone else. You can give that person a different job to compensate for this action. Remember, you want your day to run smoothly and problem free.

CREATING A GUEST LIST
Who do you invite to one of the most important days in your life? 1. Rule #1: Invite people that you share a history with and will be a part of your future. 2. Rule #2: Be consistent to a fault. Don't set down a rule but then make exceptions for certain people. Therefore, if you say that second cousins can't come, well, then you can't invite even one.
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3. Rule #3: “Have they been there for you?" Has this person been around when you've really needed them, or has simply been that type of fly-by-night individual? You know the type I'm referring to. The one who you've only spoken with intermittently, and would only pop up when he/she needed a favor. When compiling a list, other than family, divide your friends into three different groups. ● The first group is your best friends. These are the ones who have always been there for you. You are always with them. You can't imagine going out on a Friday night without them. They are so close to you that they almost feel like a brother or sister. ● The second group is your regular friends who you enjoy hanging out with, who aren't as close as a brother or sister, but more like a cousin. ● The third group is your acquaintances. These are the people you see once in a while, like the relatives you only see at family functions. Now that you have your friends divided into three lists - let’s prioritize them. ● ● ● Your best friends come first. Then your regular friends. Lastly your acquaintances.

This will better help you organize your guest list. The next topic you must tackle is the “and guests” question. The first thing when it comes to the this issue is to ask the question “Do you have the money to afford those extra people?” You have two options to choose from. ● There is the with guest option. The pro is that you keep the guests happy, and no one gets upset that you're omitting their best friend or girlfriend. The con is that it's an
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additional cost. Remember, for each person that comes you must pay for his or her meal and favor. ● There is the without guest option which saves you money, but upsets guests every so often. If you're taking this route you have to tell the truth. If asked, simply tell the people that you are going to keep the party small. You don't have to go into detail, but don't lie. The next aspect you must consider are the kids. Please remember there is nothing wrong with having an "adult only" reception. First you have to decide whether or not you want to invite kids. ● If you go the "adult only" route: ○ ○ Be sure to include this information on the invitation. You can also explain (if you feel the need to) on an enclosed note in the invitation why you're not inviting children. ○ Excluding any children in the bridal party, there should be no exceptions. You can't tell everyone that you're not allowing anyone under the age of ten, and then your six-year-old cousin is at the reception. ● If you're allowing kids to come to the wedding, please be sure to ask yourself a few questions: ○ What are the age limits? Are you going to let everyone from birth attend or anyone over the age of five (maybe even ten). You should set an age limit. Whatever it is please make sure you include it in the personalized note inside the invitation sent to these families. ○ Will you have designated seating for the children, or will they be sitting with their parents? ○ Will the children be able to have their own menu, or will the parents have to make sure their meat is cut for them?
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Will you have child-friendly entertainment? There is nothing worse then a bored six year-old. If you're going to allow children - will there be something there to keep them busy?

Will childcare be offered to parents? If so, you're going to have to pay for that person's dinner as well as any additional fees there may be.

The next point of discussion is co-workers. ● First and foremost, an invitation must be extended to your current boss if you have been working for a period of six months or longer. ● You should only invite people who you are truly close with - who fit into a friend category. However, If you have a small office try not to single out one or two people. This may cause a lot of tension, and you want to avoid tension whenever possible. ● Remember your office is a place of work, so try not to discuss your wedding as a daily event type of thing. As with your engagement, don't go into the office and announce that your wedding invitations have gone out. Whoever receives it - receives it! Whoever doesn't - doesn't! There are people who don't fit into a specific category but who have impacted your life. An example may be a neighbor who took care of you, as if you were their own child, for years and years; possibly that high school teacher with whom you've maintained an active relationship. If you have the space and the finances, these individuals should definitely receive an invitation. There is another category of guest to consider, the "respect" invitations. Now, surely not everyone likes certain people that are going to be invited to their wedding. There may be that aunt that you loathe. But, some people need to receive an invitation to avoid a lot of hurt feelings and family drama. The second group of people you have to send a "respect invitation" to are the people who have informed you beforehand that they actually will not be able to attend your wedding. Maybe your best friend is going overseas the day of your wedding. You still

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have to send an invitation. Be sure to mark them down appropriately on your list that they are definite invites. When putting together your completed guest list, you’ll actually be combining four lists: ● ● ● ● The bride The groom The bride's parents The groom's parents.

Each of them are going to submit two lists. 1. There is going to be List A that are the people that must receive an invitation. 2. List B will have the optional invitations: people who they would like to invite, prioritized in order of importance. If you have forty-nine people on List A, but you are allowing fifty for each list, then the first person on List B is going to get an invitation. The List Layout has to be very specific and is best done on a spreadsheet such as Excel as follows: ● ● ● Full name of the person or people you're inviting: i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Jr. Complete current mailing address: i.e. 123 Main Street, New York, NY 10001. Current phone number. This will come in handy if the RSVP date has passed and you haven’t received their reply. You're going to have to call these people to find out if they're coming. ● An email address is optional but good to have. This helps for last minute changes, maybe directions, or something of the sort that they may need. ● The number of attendees. If you send an invitation to the Smith family you need to know how many people from the Smith family are actually attending.

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You know who to invite, how to invite them, and how to get your guest list started. Well - get to it!

THE ART OF GETTING MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
We're going to talk about the top ten things to do before signing a contract. ● The More the Merrier. Get three or four quotes before putting a deposit down. If you really like a place or a vendor ask them for a "pencil hold". This is a temporary one to two-week hold without a deposit. ● Momma told you to shop around. Don't hesitate to let vendors know that you're shopping around. They may try to match the price of another equal competitor. ● It's included. Get a full list of what is or isn't included in the price. If you don't want or need certain services that are included in their price, will their price change to accommodate you? ● Tummy Test. Always trust your first impression or instinct. Even though the hall is beautiful, but the contact personnel make you feel uneasy - walk away. It's not going to be worth it in the end if you are uncomfortable with the people who work there, or there is just something about that place that hits you the wrong way. Trust your instincts! ● The past dictates the future. Remember to request to see photos from their previous events. You can also obtain a lot of ideas from them. The photos will give you a better
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idea of what they can or can't do. ● Poker Face. Don't give up your hand by showing too much emotion. It is very common for vendors, who aren't on the up and up, to possibly increase the price slightly because they see that you're excited about their establishment. ● Low-ball your Budget. They might inquire as to how much you're willing to spend. Don't give them the true amount because you'll probably wind up paying that amount. Always give them a lower figure that is reasonable. Even if you end up paying that number you'll still end up saving money in the long run. For example, if you have $500.00 earmarked for your cake, tell the baker you only have $400.00. So, if you end up paying that $400.00 you'll save $100.00. ● Always meet with the Managers. These are the people who usually have the authority to cut prices on a person-by-person basis. If you meet first with a sales representative he or she will still have to get the approval from the manager. And meeting directly with the managers brings your encounter to a more personal level. So, you're more frequently going to get that discount. ● Channel your inner Barbara. Ask as many questions as you want. Silly or not - but the more information you have the easier your decision will be. The best way to ask all these questions is to be prepared - have a list with you. It shows that you're in charge, you know what you're doing, and you’re not about to be taken advantage of. ● Two are better than One. Before signing contracts or placing deposits on anything, visit the vendor with your husband-to-be. This way you're both in tune as to what's happening. If one of you has forgotten to ask something that may be pertinent to your decision the other one might remember. Two heads are always better than one.

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TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK ALL VENDORS
We are going to be discussing the top ten questions you should ask all vendors. Of course there will be specific questions for each vendor. For example, in regards to your florist you will ask what type of flowers are available for certain times of the year, and what they are capable of doing as far as arrangements are concerned. However, there are ten questions you should ask every single vendor. I will be going over each of these questions, and what possible answers you should expect from each vendor. Here goes! 1. Are you available for the day of my wedding? That is the first and foremost question you should have the answer to. This question will help you to weed out certain vendors from the beginning. You definitely do not want to proceed with an entire interview process, and at the end suddenly realize that the vendor is not available for your particular date. That's the sort of waste of time you want to avoid. My best advice is to inquire about their availability when you make an appointment on the phone. 2. Are there any other bookings going on the day of my wedding? Depending on the vendor, this may cause a problem. You don't want to be overly pressured by the amount of time that is available. You don't want to be put in a position where you have to rush your wedding celebration in order to make way for the next booked party. Be sure to take this into consideration. 3. Are they fully insured? If something goes wrong you want to know if they have the necessary insurance coverage to compensate for the problem. Also, you want to know how the Better Business Bureau of your metro area has ranked them. 4. Are there any hidden costs we haven't discussed? Costs such as security, valet parking, proofs, etc. You want to make sure every single cost is explained to you, so that you know where every single penny is going.

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5. Are there any restrictions we haven't discussed? Some vendors may not allow you to use candles for fear of a fire occurring. Some florists may not use certain flowers or may not want to have them flown in. Be sure you find out if there are any restrictions in advance. Make sure everything you have discussed is also in writing in your contract, and signed by both parties. 6. What is your cancellation or postponement policy? In case of a death in the family, extreme weather, or illness, you want to make sure that you have some type of leeway if you need to change the date - heaven forbid! 7. In regards to the deposit you want to ask them - How much is needed?, What is the deadline date?, What forms of payment are accepted? What is their refund policy?" You need to make sure that as far as the deposit is concerned you have covered all bases and are safe. You will want to know exactly how much is needed, their deadline date, and what forms of payment are acceptable. If they request that the deposit be cash, make sure you inquire as to why this is necessary. Remember, cash isn't traceable and you want to be sure that the vendor you're dealing with is doing the right thing. You also want to make sure that they offer some type of refund policy. For whatever reason you might cancel the party, your deposit may not be refundable if you cancel only five days prior to the event. If you cancel within a reasonable amount of time prior to your wedding you may be entitled to the return of your deposit. So, be sure of what their policies are as far as the deposit or any other types of payment are concerned. 8. Can we please see your portfolio of your work on past events? Be sure to find out what they can do and what they've done before. The worst thing that you could possibly do is to take someone’s word as to what they are capable of doing for you, and then on the day of your wedding find out that they really can't do what they’ve promised. Now, you have paid all this money out for something that they can't deliver. 9. Would you be able to provide us with verifiable references? Be sure that they can give you the names, phone numbers, addresses, or email addresses, of clients that they have serviced in the past. This way if you really like a vendor, you can contact their

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clients and find out what their specific experience was with this vendor. 10. What do you envision for our wedding? Be sure to ask this question of every vendor, because this will be the telltale sign of the competence of the vendor you wish to work with. If they're the type of people who can say to you, "Well, since you're having a fall wedding I suggest flush flowers with deep, warm hues” - that's great! Be sure that you obtain their input as to what they envision for your wedding. If they simply supply you with what you ask for with no amount of creativity involved, they probably won't have the capability of being too helpful when it comes to what you envision for your wedding. Make sure you ask these ten questions, because each vendor will have their own specific answer for you. And for the most part the answers to these questions should be pretty cut and dry, honest and to the point! For example, what if they have a no refund policy and something does happen? You need to be sure of these things. Remember, better safe than sorry!

TIPPING TIPS
● The standard gratuity across the United States is 15 to 20% for good service, 25% for exceptional service, and 12.5 % for service that isn't that great. ● The best man or the father of the bride usually does tipping. This is not usually done by the groom or the bride, simply because this is your day and you're not supposed to be handling these matters. ● Tips should always be presented in sealed, marked envelopes, and should always include thank you stationery. ● Tipping for caterers is divided into two parts. The standard is 15-20%, which is paid in advance and included in the contract. At the end of the evening it is customary to pay

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$3 to $5 dollars per guest to given to the maitre d’. ● Bartenders usually receive 15-20% of the total bar bill if paid at the end of the evening. Tip jars are a no-no! They should not be asking for tips from the guests or have anything on top of the bar that implies that they are expecting tips. ● If the following tips aren’t included in the gratuity of the reception hall (usually in the contract), then coat checks, valets, or restroom attendants should receive $1 to $3 dollars per guest, paid prior to the reception in order to off set tips from the guests. Again, may I stress that tipping jars are definitely a no-no! ● As far as transportation is concerned, 20% of the total bill is given to each driver. If you have four drivers then you give 20% of the total bill to each driver. This is paid at the end of the transaction. The last time you see your driver is when you pay them. If it's prior to the ceremony then that's when you pay them. If it's after the reception and they're dropping you off at your destination, then that's when you give them their tips. ● Musicians customarily receive $25 to $75 per band member if you have a band. If the band is exceptional then $75 is typically safe for each member. $30 to $35 is the average for tipping band members. DJs usually get 15-20% of the total bill. ● If the photographers and/or videographers are the owners of their companies they usually don’t accept tips. If they aren’t the owners the typical tip ranges from $75 to $150 depending on the amount of time they are with you. ● ● Officiants usually receive $50-$100. Alter servers are commonly tipped $25-$50 each. Hair and makeup artist tips are 15-20% of your total bill.

Now that you know what specific vendors to tip, there are certain vendors you never have to tip. Florists and bakers are two of them. Click Here or go to BrideStep.com to sign up for our newsletter. It’s jam packed with extra tips and tricks.

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Chapter 3
WHERE TO SAY "I DO"
There are three different places where you can say, "I do" and have your ceremony. I'm going to touch upon each of them, give you a few examples, and also some highlights pertinent to each one. ● The first is a house of worship. By house of worship I mean places such as a church, a synagogue, a mosque, or a temple. These places will make your parents very happy, and they're also traditional houses of worship. If you are going for that traditional formal wedding, or you're simply religious and feel that this is the place you've always dreamed you should get married, a house of worship is definitely the place to go. ● The second place is outdoors. Some examples where ceremonies can take place are a park, a ranch, a beach, a family backyard, a golf course, a country club, or a city landmark. When taking pictures outdoors you're most definitely going to get great shots because of the natural lighting? However, just remember that weather concerns play a much larger role when ceremonies are held outdoors. You'll need to have a backup plan in case of foul weather such as rain or snow. ● The third place in which you can have your ceremony in indoors. Places such as a hotel, a museum, a restaurant, a family home, a community or church center, or a college theater. While weather is not as big a concern for indoor ceremonies, you must
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always take into consideration the occupancy limits for each location. Examples of this would be a family home or restaurant where there is a limit as to the amount of people that can fit on the premises at any given time. Be sure to check out these numbers prior to settling on one place. One great tip on how you can save money for your entire wedding is to have your ceremony and reception in the same establishment - not exactly in the same room - but at least on the same grounds.

● This makes traveling much easier for everyone. ● You don't have to pay for transportation between the ceremony and reception, and your
guests will appreciate it because it’s less traveling for them.

● In the long run you may get a discount because you're using the location for a longer
time period. Always ask to be penciled in anywhere you really like. Temporary bookings without leaving a deposit are very common, they usually only last one to two weeks maximum. Therefore, be prepared that if someone comes in looking for the same date and time that you've been penciled in for, and are willing to put down a deposit right then and there -- you may be erased. Remember your ceremony location is both your decision, and should be chosen by which one fits your formality and your personality as a couple.

QUESTIONS FOR THE CEREMONY VENDOR
Here are a few questions for you to specifically ask ceremony vendors.

● How long can I use the site? You want to be sure that you will have the site for an
ample amount of time to decorate, have your guests comfortably come in and sit at their leisure, for your entire ceremony to take place, and for any type of receiving line or

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photos to be taken post ceremony.

● What tools or accessories does the site offer? Some of these are aisle runners, musical
instruments, and musical talent. If an organist is part of your house of worship’s total fee, then why not use that person instead of paying for additional musicians.

● How many guests can be seated comfortably? Some places will tell you that you can
seat fifty but it will hold one hundred, which means fifty people will be standing or hanging from the chandeliers! You have to take this into consideration when it comes to your guest list and the location.

● Is there parking available for all of your guests? If you live in the metro area you should
realize that usually it's very difficult to find a parking space. So, please take into consideration the parking situation of your ceremony. Your guests don't want to be driving around for hours, and possibly having to miss your ceremony only because they couldn't find a parking spot for their car.

● Is the site cooled and/or heated? If you're having your wedding in the third week of July
in Florida, you want to make sure that the place has air conditioning. If you're having your wedding on New Year's Eve in New York City, you definitely want to make sure that the place is heated. These small environmental things may not seem like a problem, but when your guests are sitting there for an hour or more, it becomes a huge concern.

● Can we use our personal or family officiant? This question is very important. If you
have a family minister or rabbi that you're close with, that you've always wanted to have perform your ceremony, or that you've known forever - find out if you can use them. It will help personalize your ceremony that much more.

● The next question, depending on your guest list - Is the site handicap accessible? You
want to make sure that people with any type of disability will be able to get in and out of the site smoothly and safely without any harm coming to them.

● What restrictions are there? Some restrictions may be musical selections, bridal attire or
decorations. Be certain to find out what these restrictions are in advance. You don't
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want to pick out a bunch of contemporary tunes only to find out that you can't use contemporary music during your ceremony at this venue. Also, you don't want to spend thousands of dollars on your bridal dress only to be told that it's inappropriate for this venue.

● As far as the photographers and videographers are concerned you should also find out,
where they're allowed to go and what they're allowed to do? If you truly want an overhead shot of the ceremony, say from a balcony, it’s good to know if your photographer is allowed up there.

● How personalized can we make the ceremony? If it's important for you to highlight
certain people or events, or for your readings to be more personalized than standardized, you must make sure to find out if this is allowed in advance. You want to be absolutely sure that you can do these things.

● Do personal vows need to be approved in advance? If you are allowed to personalize
vows, find out if they need to be approved in advance. There are some things that your officiant or the ceremonial site may consider inappropriate for your wedding. You want to make sure that everything that goes on in their venue is up to their standards as well. Be sure to ask your ceremony vendors all of these questions, and even more if you have any prior to signing any contracts or putting any deposits down.

PROCESSION
Let’s discuss the Procession in regards to your ceremony. First item on the list is the music. Not so much what music is being played, but how exactly it's run. ● There are usually two to three songs during the procession depending on who is entering and where. If you have the clergy, your officiant, or anyone else who is participating in the ceremony walking into the room to a particular song, you don't want

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your parents walking in while the same song is playing. You don't want anyone else entering the room to the same song that your bridal party uses to make its entrance. ● As far as the music is concerned you should consult with the ceremony site as well as the officiant. You should discuss what songs you've chosen, how long they are going to play, and at what point everyone enters. The Order of the Procession ● The first people to walk down the aisle after the guests have been seated are the ceremony assistants such as altar servers, etc. ● Right behind them are the readers followed by the officiant. Many people decide to not have any of these people walk in. Instead they have them already at the front of wherever the ceremony is taking place. For example, if the ceremony was being held in a church they would be standing at the foot of the altar. ● Usually immediately after the officiant, you have the groom and the best man. Again, some people decide not to have this happen, but instead have both men walk in from the side of the room. This is totally your decision. The whole entrance protocol actually depends on how much attention you want given to the groom and best man. Also, how much attention you want given to the ceremonial assistants, readers, and officiants. ● Following them or starting it off, depending on what you have decided to do, we have notable family members such as parents and grandparents. They're always escorted in. Depending on your ceremony they're either accompanying the groom or the bride, as done today in some Christian weddings, or a groomsman or usher escorts them in.

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Next, we have the junior attendants followed by the bridal party. Keep in mind that the first one in will always be the last to leave. Remember that when you're lining up your girls and guys. Traditionally, the entrants are usually placed according to the order of their height. You don’t have to do this, but for most people it is considered the easiest and most uniformed way. It also eliminates any hard feelings by people who may feel that they should be closer to you or possibly first to enter.

● ●

After the bridal party makes their entrance we then have the ring bearers. Immediately following the ring bearers is the maid/matron of honor. She enters by herself with no escort.

● ●

Next the flower girls make their entrance. Right after the flower girls, we have the bride and her escort, usually her dad or another prominent man in her life, make their entrance to a different song then what was used for the previous entrants.

Your procession should not last more then a few minutes. Actually, this time frame depends on how grand you want your ceremony to be, so pick your musical selections accordingly. Timing everything as well as you can during your rehearsal, will have everyone feeling more assured and comfortable when walking in. Keep in mind the religion traditions of the bride and groom. For example, in Christian ceremonies the female attendants will be entering from the left. The bride's family will also be seated on the left. The groom's attendants and family will be on the right. This is reversed for Jewish ceremonies. The bride's family members are on the right, therefore, the ladies enter from the right, and the groom's family and attendants are to the left.

UNITY CANDLE
The Unity Candle consists of three candles situated at the front of the ceremonial site. ● There is usually a small candle on the left representing the bride and her family.

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● ●

A small candle on the right representing the groom and his family. A larger candle in the center representing the joining of the couple and both of their families.

Who lights what candle? ● Usually the mothers of the bride and the groom light the two candles that are on the left and right. ○ They each light the candle, which symbolizes their own child. ○ This can be done at the beginning of the ceremony immediately after they've been escorted into the room. ○ They can proceed straight up to the front of the ceremonial site, light a candle, and return to their respective places. ○ It can also be done during the ceremony prior to the couple lighting the center unity candle. ● The couple lights the Unity Candle during the ceremony immediately after their vows. This candle is lit usually during a musical interlude. Since a song lasts a few minutes, be sure to take your time. Wait approximately a minute before you even stand up. Then go light the candle. Please be careful of the hot wax from the candles that have been burning for a long time. If your mothers have lit their candles at the beginning of the ceremony, which probably was about twenty to thirty minutes ago, a puddle of hot wax will have accumulated at the bottom of each candle.

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Be sure not to blow out your individual candles. Simply return them back to their original positions. These candles are a symbolic way of joining both families. If you blow out your own candle it's like saying that your individual life no longer exists. Of course this isn't true. Your individual life still exists. You're simply making it better by joining together your life with someone else. While this has become a new trend over the past ten or fifteen years, it's not part of any religious ceremony. It's actually not considered part of the official marriage ceremony for any religion. Be sure to check with your ceremonial site to find out if it is allowed, and if it's going to be shown reverence.

RECEIVING LINES
Receiving lines are usually done after the ceremony when the bride and the groom walk to the back of the ceremonial site. Please remember that the more people you have in your receiving line, the more time this is going to take. Obviously time equals money in this situation. You're paying the photographer and the videographer to stand around and do very little. To alleviate this problem, be sure to keep it short and sweet. Try to spend less then one minute with each person. Keep it to a quick hello, “thank you for coming”, “so glad to see you”, an inside joke, a little chuckle, and then on to the next person. There are three different types of receiving lines. I am going to go over each of them and who should be in each one. ● Classic Line. This line will consist of the mothers of the bride and groom, the bride and groom, the maid or matron of honor, and all of the bridesmaids. While this line is in existence, the fathers of the bride and groom, the best man, and the groomsmen should

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be mingling with the guests who are waiting said line. ● Semi Classic Line. This line consists of the parents of the bride, followed by the parents of the groom, the bride and groom, the maid or matron of honor, and the bridesmaids. Once again the best man and the groomsmen should be mingling with the remaining guests who are on line. ● Contemporary Line. This line consists of three couples: the parents of the bride, the bride and groom, and the parents of the groom. In my opinion and for time's sake and money wise, the Contemporary Line is the best way to go.

CHOOSING A LOCATION TO CUT A RUG
Your reception location requirements should be as follows: ● They should definitely match the theme and formality of the wedding. If you're going to be wearing a huge dress or ball gown - maybe a small restaurant wedding isn't such a great idea. ● Always remember the time of the year and keep these thoughts in mind. Take into consideration whether or not you'll need heating or cooling. ● The room should fit everyone that you're inviting with at least twenty-five people to spare. You want to have extra room available so that movement of the guests will not be restricted. They’ll be able to move around without squeezing through chairs.

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Remember, you don't want everyone sitting on top of one another. ● The reception location should meet your guests’ needs. If you have people attending from out of town then maybe there should be a hotel nearby. If you have some people attending who are incapacitated then maybe the reception hall should be handicap accessible. Be sure that all these things are taken into consideration. You also have to ask yourself the following questions: ● How big of a dance floor do you need? Be sure that it can fit at least seventy-five percent of your guests at the same time. The chances of them all being on the dance floor at once are usually slim to none. But just be sure of the seventy-five percent and you'll be covered. ● Where to place sleeping children? If children are attending will there be an area to place them if they fall asleep, because children do tend to fall asleep at weddings. ● Will there be a cocktail area? If you're having a cocktail hour you may want to have it in a separate area. You don't want the guests to be burdened by the fact that they'll have to leave the room in order for it to be reset for the reception.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR RECEPTION VENDOR
Here are the top ten topics you should be discussing when trying to find your reception vendor. ● What is their smoking policy? Find out if there are designated smoking areas. If smoking is allowed then people will probably be able to smoke anywhere on the outside property. However, depending on what state you're in, smoking indoors may be prohibited. ● Are direction cards provided for the guests? In case your guests aren't familiar with the location of the reception hall that you're getting married in, be sure that direction cards
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are provided for them. If cards aren't provided then be sure to obtain detailed directions to the hall from all major directions such as north, south, east, and west. Make sure to enclose these directions with your invitations. ● Are outside caterers allowed? If you're choosing a place such as a museum or outside venue usually you can get any caterer you want. If you're choosing a hall or a location where on premise catering is provided but you prefer another specific caterer - this can be a problem. So make sure to iron out these details beforehand. Most locations such as designated halls or wedding banquet halls do not allow outside catering. Just be sure to check with your vendor first. ● Are there musical restrictions? Can you have a DJ? Can you have a band? Are there enough outlets available for the DJ or band to plug in their equipment? Things of this nature are important to know beforehand. Is there a noise policy pertaining to the loudness of the music? Be sure to find out all these things in advance. ● How many options are provided for linens? Today, the typical and very traditional white linens are being replaced with ivory and colored linens. If you prefer a different option ask the vendor if he will provide it at a discount, so you won’t have to shell out any extra money. He also might have the other option available at no extra cost to you. That would be nice! ● Find out if there's a cake-cutting fee. I know it sounds ridiculous. Some vendors will actually charge you a fee for cutting a cake. If this is in your contract try to negotiate it out of your contract. If you can't eliminate that cake-cutting fee then simply inform the vendor that your preference is to enlist a friend to cut the cake for you.

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Is there a corking fee? Again, this is a very silly policy but a very popular one. This is a fee they charge for physically removing corks from wine or champagne bottles. Try to negotiate this charge out of your contract completely. If they won't then simply eliminate this service from your contract, and have your family and friends uncork their own bottles.

How early can vendors such as florists and musicians begin setting up? Find out if there's an event being held just prior to yours. You want your guests arriving after your vendors have completed their set up process. Find out what time they will be allowed to begin setting up their equipment, and if the allotted time is enough for them to have everything in place.

Find out what ratio the wait staff is to guests. A good ratio is usually one waiter for two to three tables depending on the size of your banquet hall or the number of guests you have. You don't want one waiter for six tables. You must tell the vendor you want more waiters.

What is the cost of overtime and is it by the half hour? If you have a cost for overtime, which most people do, it can run anywhere from $50.00 to $250.00 per hour depending on what type of location you've gone for. Get it by the half hour not by the hour. If you go over by fifteen minutes because you're all saying your goodbyes, you don't want to be paying for that extra forty-five minutes.

Additional questions you may need to ask, if they don’t offer the information in their “sales speech” are as follows: ● What is the price per person? What does that price include? Exclude? Is there a price difference for kids (what age range) and vendors? ● ● What is the complete time span for reception, including cocktail hour? Is there a minimum person requirement for the room? If so, what is it and what is the policy if you don’t reach that number?

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● ●

Will there be a bridal suite available for our wedding party and us? If there is a problem on the reception location’s end (weather damage, double booking, etc.) what is their policy? Do they return your money in full? Do they provide other accommodations?

Make sure to get all your questions answered from each reception hall that you visit, which should be anywhere from two to three halls. Get it down in writing so that you will be able to make a comparison of all three. You want to know which halls give you more bang for your buck!

ALCOHOL
As far as alcohol is concerned for the day of the wedding, you always must take into consideration if alcohol will be served at all, or what types of alcohol will be served. ● Depending on your vendor there may be an option for an open bar or a cash bar. Alcohol is one of the biggest expenses that you'll incur as far as your reception is concerned. Having an open bar is usually where most of the cost is. So, try to gauge your needs in this area as to what you're willing to go for, or what you're willing to forego in relation to spending or saving a little money. ● Remember, alcohol is a huge expense. Be sure that you and your husband-to-be take on the responsibility of making certain that everyone who drinks doesn't drive home. If they're drinking past just that sip of

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champagne then they really shouldn't be driving home. There should be a designated driver for every person that drinks. Please keep this in mind. ● Providing your own alcohol can actually save you money. Find out if your vendor will allow this option. Again, find out in advance if there's a corking fee. You don't want this! Be sure that you can return any unopened bottles to your vendor for a refund. In case you purchase three hundred bottles of champagne - of course this is an exaggerated number and you won't need all that champagne, be sure that if you use only ten bottles that you'll be able to get a full refund for the other two hundred ninety bottles. ● Be clear on your location's rules about serving alcohol. You want to know if they ID everyone, or if young children are seen with alcohol will there be any repercussions such as the shutting down of the party. You must be made aware of these important issues. These are rules that actually do exist, and you want to be sure that you don't break them, and that your guests are also aware of them in advance. ● If you're having an evening event, note that they tend to consume more alcohol than if you were having a morning or afternoon affair. ● Other ways to save on alcohol is to have just one or two options available such as wine or beer, and not have a full top shelf bar available to your guests. Whenever you're trying to save money, cutting out alcohol is probably the first and foremost thing you should do.

SPEECHES
Speeches or toasts are a staple of any wedding. A good speech will be remembered and spoken about for years to come. A bad speech will also be remembered, but in a negative way. All speeches should be a 60/40 split. Sixty percent of it love and sentiment and forty percent of it humor and cleverness. There are usually three traditional speeches.

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The father of the bride gives the first. His speech usually runs about three to five minutes in length. He proceeds to thank everyone for attending the wedding. Then he talks about the bride's life beginning from her childhood to the present. He tells stories that he's accumulated over the years. The father usually offers some advice to the groom regarding the handling of his daughter. For example, if his daughter is a collector of stuffed animals - now I'm not saying this for any particular reason, but say she owns at least three hundred stuffed animals - I guess

this would qualify her as an "avid" collector as opposed to just a girl who likes them. He can advise the groom as to when and under what circumstances to purchase a stuffed animal for his new bride. This could all work in the groom's favor if he plays his cards right. This is just a cute, funny, and personalized example of how the father advises the groom as to the handling of his daughter. Then at the end of his speech he toasts the couple. ● The groom gives the second speech that usually follows the father of the bride. It's usually three to five minutes in length. He begins by thanking both sets of parents and then talks about his bride. Maybe he'll discuss his first impression of her on their first date. He may also fill in with a few funny stories regarding both of them. Next, he'll discuss his proposal of marriage. Be sure the proposal is definitely mentioned. He also thanks the guests for attending their wedding, and coming from long distances in order to be a part of it. The groom then toasts the wedding party by thanking the best man and the maid/matron of honor, and all the groomsmen and bridesmaids for being a part of this special day. ● The third speech is the “big-to-do” speech and given by the best man. This speech is usually a little longer then the others - around seven to nine minutes. He thanks the couple on behalf of the wedding party. He also talks about the groom - how they met and what makes them so close - maybe a funny story involving both of them. He also
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talks about being the best man, and how he felt when he was asked. He then begins to talk about the bride - his first impression of her, their friendship, and their relationship with one another. Finally he talks about the couple as a whole - how they interact with one another. Then he gives an example of their interaction. He discusses what makes this couple so different and sets them apart from the rest. He would read out loud any correspondence from guests who were unable to attend the wedding, if any were sent. This will help make their presence known and felt. Then he toasts the couple, their families, and the night ahead. He wishes them good luck and what not. These are the three traditional speeches and what they consist of. You can't go wrong by keeping to this outline. Here are a few more tips: Remember that everything you say should, first of all, be appropriate to your audience. Certain words shouldn't be spoken. Certain incidences that are of a mature nature shouldn't be shared with everyone in the room, especially if there are children present. Always remember that the couple's new in-laws, parents, grandparents, and clergy will be present. All stories should be of a clean, funny, and lighthearted nature. There shouldn't be anything said that goes into too much detail or may be embarrassing to either of the couple. It might be something that either of them doesn’t want their mom or dad to know. Speeches are usually given at the beginning of the evening to sort of set off the entire evening. You want to get these things out of the way. If someone is uncomfortable with speaking, such as a young best man who doesn't like speaking in front of big audiences, it's perfectly okay to have a stand in speak for him. Just remember these are the things that should come from the heart and people should have fun with.

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SEATING PLAN
We are going to be discussing the seating plan, what it is and how to make one. If you are having fewer than seventy-five guests then open seating is perfectly fine. This means that guests can sit wherever they want. If you're having over seventy-five guests then you must have a seating plan, otherwise there will be pure chaos. There are seven easy steps to creating the perfect seating plan. ● ● Divide your groups into family, friends, co-workers, and so on. Get a floor plan from the reception hall or make a floor plan yourself. It's really simple! You get a piece of paper and draw a box in the center, and if you have round tables you simply draw circles on the paper. But find out from the reception hall if they have floor plans available. ● Establish the table size. Your reception hall may establish this already. They usually seat anywhere between ten to fourteen people per table. ● Try to mix and match your guests. For example, don't place all your singles at the same table. ● Be sensitive to your guests needs. If you have older guests try to seat them closer to the front of the hall, and as far as possible from the music so it's not pulsating loudly into their ears. Older folks also like to be closer to restrooms. The same thing goes for very young children. You want them to be farther from the music in case they happen to fall asleep. Place the younger guests towards the music and older
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guests away from the music. ● Try to place people of the same age and with the same interests together. If you're having a large group of people - let's say you have twenty-five people coming from your job, but you can only seat ten people per table, well, split them up and fill in the extra seats with complimentary guests who don't fit into a particular group. They may not immediately fit in with the group, but they will eventually and wind up getting along fine. ● Be mindful of inter-family issues. If your cousin on your mother's side can't sit with your sister, well, don't put them next to each other. If your grandmother doesn't like your other grandmother's nephew, well, you can't have them sitting next to each other either. Remember not to seat people who dislike one another next to each other. It makes for an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere. When it comes to your place cards there are a few things we must discuss. ● You should try to match your invitations to your other wedding stationery. For example, if all your wedding stationery is cream colored then so should your place cards unless you want to match your theme. If your theme is winter wonderland, well, there's no reason why your place cards can't include snowflakes or something of that nature. ● All cards should be alphabetized by last name and usually placed on a table in front of the reception location. Nowadays, you also may find them in the cocktail area. And again, start the alphabet from the front of the table and work your way back. ● A seating chart is also another option when it comes to place cards. It's usually a very large list with the letters of the alphabet highly distinguishable on a piece of oak tag or poster board, and underneath each letter will have those people's names that fall into that category, along with the table number they'll be sitting at. This is a less expensive way. The only downfall that I honestly see as to a seating chart vs. personal place cards is that a seating chart can cause some problems. If you're having a large wedding, say over one hundred people, not everyone may be able to see the chart so clearly - like grandmas and
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grandpas for instance! It also creates a very huge crowd around the chart area. Whereas, with place cards your guests only have to find their name, check the card for their table number, and simply walk away toward the appropriate table. A seating chart is perfectly acceptable for a wedding party of fewer than one hundred people. If you're having over one hundred people, I highly recommend place cards as your means of letting your guests know where they will be sitting. Much less confusion - don't you think!

FAVORS
Depending on what part of the country you're from they can be referred to as either favors or souvenirs. These are usually little gifts given out to your guests at the end of the reception as a thank you to them for being a part of your special day. ● The favors can be placed at one of two areas. Either on the table positioned around the centerpiece so that your guests can take them when they're ready, or they can be placed on a separate favor table. ● You usually spend anywhere between two to ten dollars per couple or single guest, or one favor per household. The price includes the favor and the packaging. ● Favors are traditionally placed in a box, wrapped in solid paper and topped with a pretty bow or placed in an organza bag. Along with the bow on the box or attached to the organza bag, you'll sometimes find white candy coated almonds wrapped in netting. This is simply an added adornment and is also an old wedding tradition.

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Great favors compliment the couples or the wedding theme. For instance if you're having a Celtic wedding you could have something with a shamrock on it or a cross. If you're having a western wedding you can have something that has a cowboy hat on it. Giving out something that people can use is usually a good idea too.

If you assemble your own favors you'll actually be saving money. The way to do this is to contact companies directly if you have something particular in mind. Auction websites - these are huge! You'll find all kinds of items to match your theme. But be creative.

Today, you'll also see a lot of couples who may want to forego the nick-knacks that they've received at weddings in the past, and be a little more creative by doing something philanthropic. They can achieve this by substituting favors for donations. At each person's place setting you can put a small rolled up scroll or something of that nature. This item will indicate that in lieu of a favor, the bride and groom has decided to make a donation in the guest's name to a worthy cause such as the American Cancer Society, or some other charity. Usually the guests appreciate this choice. Depending on what you can afford and your wedding theme -- the sky is the limit when it comes to favors!

Click Here or go to BrideStep.com to sign up for our newsletter. It’s jam packed with extra tips and tricks.

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Chapter 4
GET A GORGEOUS GOWN AT A GREAT RATE
Now we're going to discuss the Top Ten Tips of finding "The One". 1. We are going to go back to an old lesson and do some homework! The more you know the less you'll pay in the end. You want to find the general pricing of each aspect of a wedding dress. For instance, is a two-piece cheaper than a one piece? How long of a train can you have before the price is increased? These are things you want to find out. 2. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures! Collect pictures in your handy-dandy binder (remember that from a previous lesson) of dress designs that you absolutely adore. It doesn't have to be the whole dress. It can just be particular areas of a dress such as the neckline, the sleeves, the train, or any other parts of the dress. You will collect an abundance of these pictures, thereby, giving you a better idea as to the perfect dress for you. 3. Seasons of Savings! The best time to shop is in the late spring or early fall. These two seasons are when stores are turning over their stock. You will be able to get an incredible dress for half the price because they're trying to get rid of it.

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4. Timing is everything! Start searching for your dress at least ten to twelve months in advance of your wedding. You need time to find the perfect dress, to go for multiple fittings, and to make sure that the dress is in perfect condition. If something happens to the dress, heaven forbid, then you will have the time to obtain a replacement. 5. Use that sales motto to your advantage! You’re the customer, you're always right, and always in charge. Do not let the salesperson pressure you into absolutely anything, whether it's buying the dress right then and there, trying on a dress that you may not perfectly love, or even looking at a dress that doesn't appeal to you. You know what you like and you know what you want -- find it! Don't let the salesperson push you in the wrong direction. 6. Three is ideal! Try to take no more than three people with you - that's it! They should be people that you trust to be honest with you. It can be that friend or sister that will tell you when you look really good or really bad. You want honesty now. You don't want somebody to be nice just for the sake of being nice. Most likely that person will either be your mother, your sister, or your maid of honor. 7. Lead the search, don't be lead (to a degree)! When shopping for your dress it’s good to go into the establishment with a game plan, having ideas of specific styles, fabrics, designers, etc. that you’re interested in. This gives the salesperson a great place to start when finding your dream dress. If they want to make suggestions that's fine. Remember, they're just suggestions. You don't have to take them! 8. Variety is the spice of life! Now, here are two things in one. First, you want to visit three or four different places. Don't just go to one dress shop and think that you're going to find the perfect dress there. Is it possible? Yes, it's possible. You know the old adage the first dress you try on is the last dress you actually buy. You have to try on a few dresses because you never know! The reason for this is that you don't want the salesperson to think you have your heart set on one particular dress because she might suddenly raise the price of that dress along with its alterations. Please be sure to try on a multitude of dresses. Even though you may fall in love with the first one, it's sometimes that third one, or that tenth one that you try on that - you
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know - may actually be that perfect one. And that leads me to repeat myself once again - try on a lot of dresses! Don't just try on that one dress. Try on a bunch of them in a lot of different places. 9. Wedding Weight Worry! Well, we're all petrified that we're going to look fat on our wedding day. Right! It's true. Whether or not you gain ten pounds, lose ten pounds, or stay the exact weight that you are - don't worry! Definitely do not stress about the numbers - at least when it comes to these numbers. On your wedding day you may weigh plus or minus five pounds. With all the stress of planning a wedding you may stop eating or you may be exercising more. I don't want you to go out and buy a dress that is too small for you just on the hopes that you're going to lose that weight by your wedding day. Because come your wedding day if you don't lose that weight you are really going to be in a pickle. The other number I don't want you to worry about is the one on the tag. Wedding dresses are notorious for running smaller than their actual tag size. Even though you may be a size four, you may end up buying a size 14. This is truly a fact - I nearly fainted when I saw the size listed on my wedding dress! Just be careful and don't worry about what the tag says. The tag means nothing. The only thing that matters is how you feel and how you look in the dress. So, don't worry about the scale and definitely don't worry about the tag. 10. Patience is a virtue! Do be patient. Don't buy a dress immediately. Always wait a few days or preferably a week. The reason being is that you may put on a dress as soon as you get into a store, find yourself standing there under those amazing lights in front of beautiful mirrors with your loved ones standing near you, the sales person telling you how absolutely phenomenal you look, and then immediately lose all your perspective. Well, you then get home at night and sleep on it. You wake up the next morning, after you've put a forty percent deposit on the dress, and low and behold, you hate it. It doesn't look as good on you as you had hoped it would, and you're worried about anything and everything. Plus you won't be able to get the deposit back. Trust me when I say be patient. Go home and sleep on it. Talk about the dress with others and then if you really want it - go back and buy it. If your sales person tells you that it's not going to
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be available unless you purchase it right then and there - well, turn tail and run - walk right out of the store. That sales person is only worried about her paycheck, not what looks good on you.

THE TOP TEN TIPS TO SAVING ON A SENSATIONAL DRESS
1. Always remember that more is actually more! By changing the amount of fabric or maybe going a little easy on the details, you could save tons of cash. 2. Be flexible with your fabric! By just changing the fabric you could cut hundreds of dollars off the price of your dress. Since silk is extremely expensive it would be a good idea to substitute it with a fabric that is comparable in texture but a lot less expensive. The only thing that matters is how it feels on you. 3. Rack up those savings! Buy off the rack at a chain store and then have a tailor alter it for you. This is an amazing way to save money. You have to find a dress that fits well and then have a tailor adjust it. Even though you'll be spending extra money for the cost of a tailor, believe me, you'll still be saving money in the long run. 4. A dress is a dress is a dress my friend! Purchasing a white evening gown from a department store is just as beautiful as a wedding dress but half the price. Just because something says the word "wedding", you can bet it's always going to be double the price. Keep that in mind. If you want that contemporary sleek fashionable look, well, buy a beautiful dress from a department store. Trust me - your wallet will thank you. 5. My two favorite words - are you ready - "sample sale"! This is if you really want that designer dress. You know that designer that makes all the dresses for the stars. If you really want that dress, well, this is the way to go. You can usually find wedding dresses that are made by top designers from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Italy, and France, at a price that is much more budget friendly.

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6. Couture for less! What does this mean? Have your dress made especially for you by a dressmaker or seamstress. If you don't know how to use a dressmaker or seamstress, and you don't have one on speed dial, here are a few tips to finding one.

○ First, you can ask around. Networking is a great tool for brides! ○ Ask your tailor or your dry cleaner if they know anyone. They work together so
one of them may actually be a seamstress.

○ Go to fabric stores. Many shops specialize in wedding gown fabrics. They may
have a dressmaker on file. Now that you have found a dressmaker, well, how do you use that person? Bring all your examples that you have been tearing out of magazines, and describe your dream dress to the dressmaker. This person is here to make the dress absolutely perfect for you. Always try to view previous dresses that they have made. And treat them as you would any other vendor, even though they are doing something that obviously is going to be the focal point of your wedding. Be sure that you don't make them feel too special, because then they may take advantage of you. 7. An ode! Well, how do you do an ode? It's simple! You can wear a family dress - your mom’s, your aunt's, your sister's, and your cousin's - anyone's dress. Maybe even wear a friend's dress. Besides the cost of the alterations, it's practically a free dress. And they will really feel touched and special that you wanted to honor them in such a spectacular way. 8. Discounted designers! Many people don't choose to do this. I personally think that if you want that designer dress, but you can't afford to pay the designer prices, you can rent a designer dress. I promise you it's so much fun, and you will get this amazing dress for practically nothing. 9. Retro chic! Buy a second hand dress. Think about it! How long do you wear a wedding dress for? Once, that's it! Actually you are only going to wear it for a few hours. So, it's totally okay and pretty smart to purchase a second hand dress. How do you do this? Simple - you look at eBay and classified ads. When you're looking at eBay
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and classified ads be sure the dress is coming from a smoke free and animal free home. And you want to see tons and tons of pictures of it. You want to find out if there's a return policy for the dress in case you're not absolutely happy with it. The same thing goes if you buy from an antique or vintage shop. Check out the imperfections. You want to look over every nook, cranny, and hem on that dress. Also, you can try your dry cleaners. Brides often drop off their wedding dresses to be cleaned and boxed, and sometimes don't return to pick them up. This could be a total savings on your part. 10. Be charitable! This has become one of my most favorite things. Charities such as makingmemories.org and bridesagainstbreastcancer.org are great places to buy your dress. First, you're buying a dress from a charity and that money is automatically going back to the charity. You can purchase a dress from a charity and then re-donate it and have a double write-off. Not only are you saving on the dress and doing something absolutely incredible, but also you are getting paid for it in the long run. Bridesagainstbreastcancer.org has shows and bridal events all over the country at various times. Make sure to check out their event's calendar.

HOW TO GET YOUR ACCESSORIES WITHOUT GETTING A LOAN?
● Head dress or veil ○ Again, online auctions are the way to go. eBay is going to become your new best friend. ○ Be creative. If you have a friend or family member who is good with a needle and thread, or even a glue gun, you can create a simple veil for nothing. Really, all that is needed is tooling or lace depending on what your style is. A little embroidery on the ends and "bam" you have a head dress for nothing.

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Borrow. Remember, your family members and friends are your best sources when it comes to wedding accessories.

Shoes ○ Don't buy anything that says wedding shoes. Take the wedding out of wedding shoes. You can purchase simple beautiful white shoes for twenty bucks - the same shoes that you can get for one hundred twenty bucks. ○ How much of your shoes are actually going to be seen from under your beautiful wedding dress? Probably not much of them. Maybe the tips of them. So, don't buy overly detailed shoes. ○ Remember your ABC’s and what comes before fashion - well, that word is comfort. You have to be sure these shoes are going to get you through the entire day without blisters and tears of pain. ○ Break them in. Breaking in shoes before the wedding will eliminate any possibility of blisters. Be sure that a few weeks before the wedding to go out with the shoes, or even wear them around the house. And maybe, even if you are only sitting down and watching television, try having your wedding shoes on. First of all it will make you feel really pretty, and secondly you will be breaking in those new shoes. Then when the time comes to wear your shoes on your wedding day, they will be the most comfortable shoes you've ever worn.

Jewelry ○ Borrow! Borrow! Borrow! You know those diamond teardrop earrings belonging to your grandmother, or that string of fresh water pearls that your mother has been hiding away forever -- ask to borrow those priceless pieces on your wedding day. The person will be honored that you admired them enough to want to display their prize jewelry on your wedding day.

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Red carpet concepts! Stars all over the world have been renting their jewelry from top name designers for years and years. You know! You've seen them walking down the red carpet for the Emmy’s and the Oscar’s. Well, you can do that too. Anybody can do it. You can rent a ten thousand dollar necklace for one tenth of the price. And basically it's just for the insurance purposes. It's an amazing way to get major “bling” without having to pay major money.

QUESTIONS THAT YOU NEED TO ASK YOUR DRESS VENDOR
● What are your alteration fees? From the onset, be sure to have your alteration price in writing, so that you won’t be charged more money when the alterations are actually started. You want to be perfectly certain before you even hand over that deposit check, that when the dress arrives and it’s time for your fittings, the alteration price has remained the same. ● Do you store the dress? You also want to make sure that the dress vendor will store your dress prior to the wedding. And if so, you want to find out if there is a fee involved. There is a very popular store that doesn't store wedding dresses. This is why you have to be certain to find out in advance, because you don't want to worry about having to store your dress. When you finally find a dress that you absolutely love and the place doesn't provide storage, simply look on the website and you'll be able to find a step by step guide of how to do this without any damage to the dress. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when trying to find the right dress for your wedding. ● What is the formality of my wedding? Is it going to be really formal? Are you requiring top hat and tails? Well, then your dress should reflect that. ● You also want to keep in mind the time of day and year of your wedding. This is because certain fabrics are not as cold or heat friendly. You want to have an appropriate dress fabric that is going to keep you warm or cool depending on what time
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of the day or year it is. ● Keep in mind any part of your body that you are really self-conscience about, if there are any! You may be an absolute fox but every one of us, or at least most of us, has that one body part that we are self-conscience about. We always try to cover or hide it some how. Be sure that your wedding dress makes you feel comfortable. And in the end whether you are self-conscience about your arms or legs, be sure that your dress either accentuates or disguises that certain area. Now that you know what to look for, what not to look for, how to save, and what you need to ask, you can go out and get a gorgeous gown at a great rate.

WEDDING DAY HAIR
Buying the appropriate attire for the wedding is only half the battle. You still need to deal with your hair, makeup, teeth, weight, etc. In this lesson we're going to be discussing wedding day hair. ● The main question women are faced with is whether or not to wear their hair up or down? My feeling about it is to go with whatever you are most comfortable. For me personally, I like wearing my hair down but for special occasions I prefer it up. Why? Well, at weddings, parties and events of that nature there is a lot of dancing and a ton of people. Both of those things coupled with any alcohol create a lot of heat, and wearing my hair down only worsens the heat. So needless to say, I wore my hair up for my wedding. ● When it comes to the color and cut of your hair, you should go for a color touch-up or trimming at least two to three weeks prior to your wedding. You don't want your hair color coming out on to your dress, and you also want to get use to it so that it gets to the right shade, which usually takes two to three weeks.

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You should also go for a trial run with your hairdresser. This is usually one to two months prior to the wedding, and you need to have your headpiece with you. Take your camera and get a picture with the completed hairstyle from every single angle possible. You also want to take notes if needed. If the hairdresser had a problem with your bangs, well, be sure you make a note that you had a problem with your bangs and what the solution was. This way when it comes to the actual wedding day you can say I know you had a problem with my bangs and this is what you did to rectify it. It will save time in the long run. Don’t forget to bring pictures of your favorite hairstyles for your trial run. You don't want to go there and say, well, here's my veil but I don't know what I want to do. You don't want to give the hairdresser full control. You want to give them some guidelines because you know what you like and don’t like.

The next part of your wedding day hair is to keep in mind that everyone's hair is different. Even though that picture of the super model in the magazine looks perfect and ideal and her ringlets are great, your hair may not be able to hold the ringlets as well. The shape, thickness, coloring, and length can all affect your style. All of these factors must be taken into consideration. If your hair is very long then getting it all up in curls is going to be an extremely difficult task.

Your face shape is also a key ingredient in designing the perfect hairstyle for you. If you have a round race there are certain hairstyles that you should not wear, because those styles might make your face look a little too full. I know this from personal experience. The same is true if your face is very thin and long. There are certain hairstyles that you might want to steer clear of in order to keep your face from appearing too long.

After you find the perfect style, how do you save on great hair? ● Have a talented friend or family member do your wedding day hair. You will definitely save money because you won't have to pay a stylist. Secondly, it will make that person feel pretty special simply because you requested her to do your hair, and also the fact that you always admired how she styled her own hair. ● Hire a student hairdresser who is in their final year. Always be sure to arrange a few trial runs with them to make certain that they have everything in order. Again, as when we
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discussed college people, be sure to speak to their professors and examine their portfolios. ● If you opt for a salon, see if they will offer a group discount for you and your bridal party. And be sure to get it in writing if they agree to the discount.

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WEDDING SKIN & TEETH
Want to achieve that “wedding day glow”? Here are a few tips and tricks to doing just that! ● Beauty Regiment. If you're starting a new beauty regiment, do so three to four months in advance of your wedding. If you don't allow for that three to four month waiting period, any allergic or adverse skins reactions from your new beauty treatment may not have the opportunity to clear up before your wedding day. You also want to give it time to take effect and usually that takes anywhere between twelve to sixteen weeks. That's when that new glow will begin to shine through. ● Facials. Don't have any within three weeks of your wedding in case you have an adverse reaction, even if you have been going for facials every day and every month of your entire adult life. It's simply a precaution. Better safe than sorry! ● Tanning. If you want that sun kissed skin without the after effects of tanning beds and the sun, then opt for spray tans such as Mystic Tanning Booths. Always go for a trial run. If you like the results you can go five to seven days prior to the wedding. Not one day sooner and not one day later. You need to have that five to seven day waiting period, so that you won't get any type of tan stains on your wedding dress. Plus you want that tan color to seep into your skin for a while so that it looks real. ● Smoking and drinking. Cut down and/or eliminate all harmful toxins from your body three to four months prior to your wedding. This is so that your radiance and inner beauty can shine through. Smoking deteriorates your teeth, turns your nails yellow, and it really doesn't give your skin that healthy glow and smooth look. It will actually dry out
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your skin. Drinking does the same thing to your skin. It will give you that dehydrated look. ● Massage. If your budget allows try to go for a massage every two to three weeks during the planning process. It will make you feel ten times better, and you will be so much more relaxed. Your whole body will feel rejuvenated. Definitely try to treat yourself to a full body massage a day or two before your wedding. ● Teeth. You will be smiling a lot, so you might as well make them look absolutely beautiful. The first thing is do not wait to the last minute. Visit your dentist five to six months prior to your wedding so that any and all possible work will be completed in ample time. Try to eliminate coffee, tea, and cigarette smoke. When it comes to whitening teeth these things definitely harm and hinder the process. If you're going to be whitening your teeth it is available in three different forms. Let me go over each of them with you. ○ At home kits. They usually go for under $100.00. You are going to need to use two kits. The first one you're going to use seven to eight months prior to your wedding, and the second you will use six weeks prior to your wedding. The whitener usually brightens your teeth about three to four shades lighter. ○ Whitened professionally by a dentist. This costs approximately $400.00 depending on where you live. This usually consists of two one hour sessions in the office followed by an at home treatment you must do. It usually lasts two to three years, and also whitens your teeth three to four shades lighter. ○ Laser bleaching. This process costs approximately $800.00 to $1,000.00. It's done in the office and lasts about five years. This form of whitening lightens your teeth about six to eight shades. Remember, you will be smiling all day so you want your skin and teeth to radiate. You want to look absolutely stunning on your special day.

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WEDDING DAY MAKEUP
Even though you may be a professional makeup artist, or you're just so good at it that your friends always came to you to have their makeup done, always have someone else do your wedding day makeup. You're going to be stressed out enough already. You don't want to blame yourself if something goes wrong. You want to be able to sit down and relax. Doing your own makeup is not going to help you relax. Just like with your hair, you should go for a trial run with your makeup artist one month prior to your wedding. There are certain things you should remember for your trial run. ● Tell that person the time, date, and color scheme of your wedding. This will help them choose the colors that are perfect for your skin and perfect for your wedding. ● Ask and then write down the brand and color of each item used by the makeup artist. Bring this list back with you when they do your makeup the day of the wedding. ● Again, bring a camera and take pictures from every angle with your wedding makeup completed. How to save on your wedding day makeup? ● Have a friend or family member do it. Maybe you're not the one who does the best makeup. I know from past experience that my sister does the most incredible makeup ever and it always looks so natural and beautiful. You'll be saving money and complimenting the person at the same time.

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Hire a student in their final year of cosmetology school. Again, like with any other college students make sure you check with their teachers and you view their portfolio of previous and current work.

Ask the salon for a group rate for you and your bridal party. Make sure to get it in writing. You want to be sure that any contract include all details and prices.

Between your hair, makeup, skin, and teeth, you can be certain that you will look absolutely radiant the day of your wedding.

HEALTH/WEIGHT LOSS
Let’s scurry a little bit off of the wedding topic and talk about your health and your weight loss during your wedding process. What you weigh shouldn't even compare to how healthy you are. You could be considered over weight by BMI standards, but still be absolutely in the best shape of your life. Always remember the number on the scale doesn't matter as much as everyone wants you to believe it does. What does matters is how you feel and how your clothes fit on you. ● When it comes to losing weight, which most people want to do for their wedding, keep in mind that fad diets are a total no-no. They do more harm than good. Anything that makes you limit a food group from your daily diet is not healthy. It's also not realistic to stay away from them. ● Definitely listen to your doctor. Healthy eating and exercise equals weight loss. You can't take the short cut. As much as many of us do not have the time or the patience to deal with eating properly since those fast food joints really do call your name out loud, you must try to ignore the fast food and try to eat healthier and exercise regularly. That's the
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only way you're going to remain healthy when losing weight. It’s the only way the weight will stay off. ● Healthy weight loss consists of one to two pounds a week plus four weeks for your body to adjust. Now, the first four weeks you may lose six pounds, but that's mostly water weight. Please be careful when it comes to your weight loss because anything more than that is drastic and unrealistic. If you're trying to lose fifty pounds you're going to need at least twenty-five weeks to lose it. And that's if you're losing exactly two pounds per week, which means you have to keep on a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis, about three to four times a week. ● Gym or no gym that is the question? What's the difference? If you can afford to join a gym and you can commit to going a few times a week with or without a trainer, it's definitely the ideal way to go. This means you're setting aside a certain time of the week, either every day or every other day, and that you're making a commitment to do this. This has to become a way of life for you, not just a way of means to an end. The best workout you can do is fifteen to thirty minutes of cardio and weight training for toning. It's a great regiment. You aren't weight lifting for bulk. You aren't going to become a body builder by lifting weights. It's just not going to happen. Body builders train to do that. They train to get their body that huge. You're not going to be doing that. Lifting weights are for toning purposes only. ● Keep in mind your scale may not move or may actually go up. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. You could be one hundred fifty pounds at five foot two and be a rock of muscle versus one hundred fifty pounds at five foot two and be a ton of flab. Building muscle also helps you burn calories quickly in the long run. So, it actually works to your benefit. ● Walking is the number one best cardio you can do and it costs absolutely nothing. If you can't join a gym, you're trying to save money or you simply can't shell out the money for a gym membership - walk, walk, walk, and walk. Walk everywhere. Walk up the stairs when you have to go to work. Walk down the stairs when you have to take the dog out for a walk. Walk everywhere you possibly can.

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Just remember the number on the scale and the number on the tag mean nothing as long as you're comfortable with your weight and comfortable with yourself. Please don't worry or try to lose weight if there's actually no need to. If you're a size two and you're trying to get to a size zero, you don't need to - you're beautiful just the way you are. No matter if you're a size two or a size twenty-two just be comfortable with who you are, and refrain from needlessly worrying about a number. These are tips and tricks that I’ve learned from personal trainers and from personal experience. I am not a doctor so always consult with your doctor before doing anything that could affect your health. I’m not telling you that you have to work out; I am telling you that these are the ways that you could work out but remain healthy.

HANDSOME HUSBAND TO BE
So far this book has centered around you ladies, but what about your handsome husbands-to-be. You're not the only one who has to be absolutely gorgeous on your wedding day. The guys want to look pretty good since they know that the "paparazzi" will be taking photos of them also. Let's start with the head and work our way down - shall we. ● First, we have the hair. Guys need to get their haircut more often than women do. This is an obvious one. Therefore, they should get a haircut a week before the wedding. This way their hair has a chance to grow to the length that they feel most comfortable with. The haircut shouldn't be anything different than they normally get. If they usually get a little trim here and there, then that's what they should do or maybe they just need a little clean up. They should style their hair as they usually do for a formal affair. Now, we women need to go and get the works done which includes our hair, makeup, and whatnot. Men don't require someone that must be brought to their homes to do their hair. Luckily men don't

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have that headache to contend with. ● The next concern for the gentlemen is their skin. Like women they should not start a regiment less then three or four months prior to the wedding. This way if there are any adverse reactions to whatever they’re having done or medication they may be taking, they’ll have the necessary time to start a new regiment or medication. Then by the time the wedding has rolled around, there will be no worry as to having any allergic reactions to any new medications or anything of that sort. Guys should also get facials about three weeks prior to the wedding day. Now, if you have an extremely manly guy - he's rugged, he's a cowboy, or he's a biker - none of these guys are going to want to have a facial. But they should start cleaning their skin a little deeper so as to obtain more of a glow to their skin so their photos will be more flattering. ● Tanning is okay for guys. If they want to go to the tanning bed or the beach to get a little extra sun that's perfectly fine. Just be sure that they have the right sun block, and they're not over tanning. You don't want them to get sun poisoning simply because they want to look their best for the wedding. ● Manicure and pedicures for guys are a must even if they only go for a polish-less manicure, which means the manicurist just cleans the cuticles, files and buffs the nails. You have no idea how many photos of only the photographer will take your hands. There will pictures of your beautiful wedding bands, and pictures of both your hands joined together. Yes, your hands will be highlighted. So, be sure he goes to get a manicure. Now, the pedicure isn't a must. But if you're having a destination wedding such as a beach wedding, or there is a possibility that his shoes may be coming off at some point during the night, please be sure that he gets a pedicure as well. ● Make sure he pampers himself just as much as you pamper yourself at least three or four days prior to the wedding. Go with him for a massage. The best treat the two of you could have is to go for a couple's massage. It is very relaxing. Both your minds will be absolutely free from discussions about bridesmaids' dresses, seating plans, or anything else of that sort. Just go and relax with one another. Trust me you'll both love it, and he'll really appreciate it.

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The guys’ attire is something that the bride and groom should decide together. That's right ladies, we get to decide on our dresses and we also have input as to what the guys wear. Isn't it great to be a girl? ○ Be sure that you both agree on the tuxedo style. For example, if your husband wants tails and a top hat but you don't want them, then it's time to discuss it and try to come to a reasonable agreement between the two of you. ○ Always think Hollywood Red Carpet and not H.S. Prom. This is not the time to go for the very inexpensive, very blasé tuxedo. The guys should shine a little bit also. So, pull out magazines, watch the award shows, and try to get some style tips from the big Hollywood stars. ○ The tuxedo style is determined by the formality of the wedding. If you're having your wedding on the beach it's definitely not the time to have a top hat and tails. And visa versa - if you are having your wedding in a grand hotel ballroom, it's not the time to wear the khaki suit instead of a tuxedo. ○ It's so much easier for guys when they are renting a tuxedo. For a normal tuxedo they need only go to any tuxedo store, which are all over. Even some department stores now offer tuxedo rentals. They can go anywhere from one in a half to two months prior to the actual wedding. They're only going to need one to two fittings, and they usually work out the kinks beforehand. ○ If they are buying the tuxedo and having it personally hand made, then they should start looking for their tuxedos and start going for their alterations a year prior. A lot of guys have their tuxedos hand made, because they want that same special treatment as the brides get. Guys should definitely have their first fitting six to eight weeks prior to the wedding.

Everyone says it's the bride's day, but it's definitely the groom's day as well. We want them to look really fabulous also.

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BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS
● When it comes to choosing your bridesmaids' attire there are three top choices, which we can go with. ○ Same dress for everyone. Skinny or plus size, tall or short - you can have the same style dress for all of them. ○ Same color and fabric but different styles. This is where the bridesmaids can each pick out their own style, but both you and the bridesmaid must agree on it. One in which they're comfortable with, and also in which you're comfortable with having them wear. If you are okay with each of them choosing a different style - one with a halter, one strapless, one with spaghetti straps - this is all right as long as you're in agreement with their choices. They should understand that there are some boundaries. You don't want anybody showing off things that they shouldn't be showing in public. ○ Same style and the same fabric, but different shades of the same color. For example, if you love the color blue you can have the bridesmaids each wear a different shade of blue. One can have navy blue; another teal blue, light blue, or baby blue. They're all be wearing the same styled dress, made from the same fabric, but in different shades of blue. ● Before deciding on a dress try to get every ones input regarding the top three dresses you have narrowed it down to. Then maybe email them or send them a bridesmaid's newsletter with the three styles of dresses and let them all give their opinions. This
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doesn't mean that you have to accept all of their opinions. If you happen to love all the dresses equally, but five out of seven bridesmaids like one particular style, then maybe that's the style to go with. ● Another tip is not to bring all your bridesmaids shopping with you. Only bring your maid/matron of honor and one other person like your sister or your best friend. Keep it down to just two people. For my wedding I took my best friend, who was my maid of honor and my (then future) sister in law. You don't want five to twelve girls running around the bridal shop picking out every single dress that they absolutely adore. You don't want a two-hour excursion turning into an all day event. It also helps to keep you from becoming overwhelmed. You don't want to have to preview twenty-seven dresses on these girls. You know what you like and you sort of know what styles your girls prefer. With only one or two people it's a safe bet that you won't hurt anyone's feelings, or pick a wrong style that doesn't compliment every one of your girls. ● You may have a bridesmaid who lives totally across the country, so obviously you can't accompany her to her fitting. Even though your girls are all going at different times for their fittings, try to make it to the bridal shop and be there for at least one of their fittings. You want to gauge their reactions about the dresses. You want to make sure they look their best in the dress, and be sure they're all paying the same price. You don't want the store overcharging or doing anything else behind your back. Another reason to accompany them to their fittings would be to become familiar with each girl’s size. For example, if they have strapless gowns and as part of their gift you’re getting them bolero jackets, then you need to know their sizes. ○ Take into consideration each girl's tastes, personal styles, body types, and physical needs. Just like you want to be comfortable on your wedding day, I’m sure your bridesmaids do as well. These girls have decided to be a part of your wedding day, to step up and pay the extra money, and to take on the extra responsibility to make you happy. Your girls also want to make sure your day is a beautiful remembrance for you, and that they keep it going smoothly by helping you out in any way they can. Remember that they're doing you the favor by being in your bridal party.

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Being a little considerate about their preferences can only make your day better in the long run. The more comfortable your girls are the happier they'll be which means you'll be happier too. On the day of your wedding you don't want to hear how much they hate or loathe their dresses. It's going to make you feel bad and add stress to your day which you don't want or need. So, just be respectful of what they may or may not like. This doesn't mean that you'll be able to make everybody happy. It's just not going to happen even under the best of circumstances but try to make as many of them as happy as possible.

I know that a lot of brides want their girls to have the same hairstyle. Either up, down, straight, curly, or whatever else there may be. As nice as you think it may look and as organized or formal as you think it may be, it really isn't. There are two problems with this. ○ The first is that each girl may prefer a different type of hairstyle. No two girls have the same texture to their hair, and what looks good on one girl may not look well on another. ○ The second reason is that you can't expect every girl to have their hair up if they've never worn it that way before. They'll most likely be very uncomfortable throughout the whole wedding. And there's probably a reason why they've never worn their hair up. Let each girl choose the style that they are most comfortable with.

Match the hair to the formality of the wedding dress or surroundings. If you're having a beach wedding, then the girls don't have to wear their hair up in tendrils or have a bun with pearls in it. Even though you want the girls to be comfortable they still must match the decor as well. If you're having a more formal affair use a bun or a french twist, both of which are perfectly acceptable. If you prefer a beach wedding then the girls can either wear their hair up in a ponytail or actually kind of clip it a little bit. This type of wedding goes with a casual hairstyle. A formal hairstyle does not belong at a beach wedding. So, keep the formality of the wedding in mind.

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Let each girl have her input prior to choosing a style for everyone. Maybe every girl in your party prefers their hair up. Well, then you're set. But the up styles of the hair do not have to be the same. Some might want to wear buns, some might want to wear twists, and others might prefer simple ponytails. Try to gauge everyone's personality when it comes to her hair.

When it comes to their makeup, always match it to the color of the dress and the bridesmaid’s skin tone. You don't want them to wear a red dress and have bright green eye shadow on. This isn't going to look good even if you're having a Christmas wedding. Believe me when I say that they should match the shades of their dress to the shades that they wear on their face, but very subtly. Remind them that less is more. Have them choose one aspect of their face, either eyes or lips, and let that be the focal point. The other one can be a lot subtler.

Timeless over trendy makeup all the time. If big cat eyes and fake eyelashes are in now, well, they may not be in fifteen years from now, because they weren't in fifteen years ago either. Always keep in mind that you want that timeless elegance. You want to look and draw inspiration from the Katherine Hepburn’s, the Grace Kelly’s, and the Jackie Kennedy’s of the world. You don't want to draw inspiration from the Paris Hilton’s or any other fly by night figures.

When it comes to shoes try to keep it to a two-inch heel maximum if you are having the same shoe for everyone. These girls are going to be standing on their feet all day. They're going to be walking down aisles, posing for pictures, dancing, going up and down stairs, greeting guests and possibly helping them to their chairs. We don't want anyone falling first of all, and secondly we want your girls to be comfortable. Also, if possible let the girls choose a style that they're comfortable with. One girl may want a strappy sandal, another may want something that covers more of their foot, or some may want a shoe with no heel at all. This is something that they should be picking out.

Let each girl choose her own purse. Again, this comes down to personal taste. One girl may be able to leave the house with her makeup, money, and her phone - she's done! Another girl may need her makeup bag, PDA, phone charger, etc. etc. etc. - just you name it and she needs it. You know who these girls are. The ones who have those big

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huge bags that they can't find anything in. Then you have the other girls that only need a purse about four inches wide. Let them choose the purse that they are most comfortable with. The purses aren't going to be shown in the pictures. So, whichever purse is most appropriate to matching their needs then that's the one they should choose. Remember, these girls are doing you a favor. Their accessories can be a lot more lenient. You do want them to be happy that entire day. You don't want all the girls upset because they're unhappy with their wedding attire.

GOOD LOOKING GROOMSMEN/USHERS
The groomsmen/ushers are usually in the same attire, which is a complete tuxedo. A complete tuxedo consists of six different parts. Remember, the tuxedo should match the formality of the wedding. We are going to go through each part of the tuxedo in case you aren't familiar with them. This will help you when you're picking out which tuxedo to have them rent. ● The first part of the tuxedo is the coat or the jacket. It's usually single or double-breasted. It can have anywhere between one to four buttons. If you have an ultra formal event then tailcoats are very popular. Morning coats are for formal events ending before 6:00 P.M. Pay attention to the lapels of the jacket. Now, what I mean by lapels is that it's the part on each side of the jacket immediately below the collar that is folded back on either side of the front opening. Lapels should be approximately 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide and extend no less then 1/8th of an inch less than the one half way mark between the collar and the shoulders. The point of the lapel
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should be slightly less than one half the way between the shoulders of the men’s jackets. Peak and notch styles are flattering for everyone. So, maybe a mandarin collar is not exactly your style but this is. ● The second part of the tuxedo is the trousers. They definitely should match the coat's style and color for formal events. When it comes to the bottom of the trousers you must look at the cuff hem. They are usually 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Lighter fabrics should be two inches. Heavier fabrics can be slightly shorter. Now, your height matters. If you're 5'8" you want to have a little bit wider cuff. It makes you appear not as short and more proportional to your size. If you are over 5'10" again you want to be proportional to your size, so you should have a narrower cuff. ● ● The third part of your tuxedo is a vest or cummerbund. I do not suggest having both. The fourth part is the necktie, which matches the style and color of the overall tuxedo. It can be a solid color or it can be a print, and usually coincides with the vest or cummerbund. Again, they should match the formality and style of the wedding. The bow ties are more traditional, but today you'll see mostly regular neckties being worn with tuxedos. ● When it comes to the shirt, which is our fifth aspect of the tuxedo, it should be designated by the style of the wedding and the neck ware. The style and the color of the tie will help designate what kind of shirt you can match it with. Your shirt should always have french cuffs - always! It's a tuxedo; it's a formal affair, so make sure it has french cuffs. ● This brings us to the sixth and final part of the tuxedo, which are your tie pins and cuff links. Now, with french cuffs you need cuff links. These can be personalized. Each groomsman/usher does not need to have the same cuff links or tiepins. Let them add a little bit of personality to this. The same way you let your bridesmaids choose their shoes and purses let the men choose their cuff links and tie pins. They're not going to be visible and it makes them feel a little more comfortable.

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CHARMING CHILDREN
Let’s discuss the charming children of the party. That's right! I mean your flower girls, your ring bearers, and your trainbearers. Let's start with the flower girls. ● When it comes to dressing your flower girls your #1 concern is for their comfort. These are little kids and they definitely want to be comfortable. You don't want them feeling stuffy; wearing something too tight on their necks or anything that makes them itchy. Be sure to find out from their parents before hand if there are any fabrics they can't wear, or if they have any allergies that you should know about. ● Find out if there are certain things they don't like wearing. When I was a kid I didn't like wearing anything close to my neck. You could never get me into a turtleneck or a high collared dress, because I would be standing there all night pulling on my collar. You don't want this for your flower girls. Make sure they're comfortable. ● For fall and winter weddings velvet and taffeta are perfect. They're a little bit of a heavier fabric, so the girls won't be as cold as they may be if they were wearing a lighter fabric. Remember, you may need to have a little light sweater available for them to wear as well. ● For spring and summer weddings cottons or light fabrics like linen are fine. You want to keep the girls cool for these two seasons. You don't want them perspiring simply because their attire is inappropriate for the season. ● Flower girl dresses should always be ankle length so that their shoes are visible. And speaking of shoes - they should have ballet slippers on. Nothing with a heel or any type

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of sandal. Ballet slippers are the traditional shoes worn with flower girl dresses. Now, if you're having a beach wedding then of course wear sandals. ● You have three options when it comes to colors and what you want them to look like. 1. Mini bride. This means that they have the same color dress as you - traditionally white. But what sets their dress apart from looking like a communion dress is that there is usually a colored sash around the waist or a colored accent some place. Maybe the trim or the hemline has a color that matches the bridesmaids' dresses. 2. One of the girls. This means they have a dress that's similar in style, color, and fabric to the bridesmaids. Again, be sure that it's age appropriate. You don't want anything that is too revealing or too sensual for a child. 3. Small and special. The third option you have available to you is actually the option I chose for my wedding. You can have your flower girls in a dress all of their own, which compliments your dress as well as your bridesmaids. For my wedding, I wore a cream colored dress, my bridesmaids were in brown and my flower girls wore burnt gold dresses. In their words, they looked like “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. They were young and I wanted them to feel special and like little princesses. When it comes to your ring bearers and trainbearers, again, the number one rule - think comfort! ● Ask their parents if there are any fabrics that they're uncomfortable with. Is there a style that they don't like to wear, or any other particular thing that they don't like wearing? In fall and winter synthetic fabrics or wool can be used. It's a little bit more comfortable and it's warmer for them. For summer and spring have them in cotton. ● As far as shoes go they should opt for a pair that they own already. Most little boys have dress shoes already. This way they won't have to break in a new pair of shoes, but do make sure they match the color of the guys' shoes. The worst thing you could have in a bridal party is a little boy who is uncomfortable in their shoes.
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You have two options when it comes to their attire. 1. Mini groom. Here the tuxedo matches the groom's tuxedo but not the groomsmen or ushers. What usually sets apart the groom's tuxedo and the groomsmen or usher's tuxedo are their vest and necktie choices. So, if you're going to have a mini groom make sure their tuxedo matches the grooms. 2. Boys will be boys. A tuxedo that consists of shorts instead of trousers. The shirt will have a rounded collar with no tie. This is very good for a summer wedding especially if you're having somewhat of a nautically themed wedding. This is a good way to think about it. A nautically themed wedding usually has the gentleman in light pants, usually a suit of a khaki color. Their suit jacket is usually of a navy blue color. Their shirts are usually white, and again, they'll have a tie but it will be a more informal tie without any vest or cummerbund. If you're taking this option just remember that for the boys you can keep this exact look, but just have them wear shorts.

If you're going for a black formal affair you can have them wear shorts as well. But just make sure they're black shorts. Again, no tie and a round collared shirt. Always remember that for shorts you want them to wear black folded down socks and dress shoes. If they're going to be in that nautically themed or summer wedding, they could wear white folded down socks with white shoes. Be sure you always match.

Mention what your theme is to your tuxedo rental store or the store in which you're going to purchase the little boy's tuxedo, because they might have some more options for you. Always keep in mind that the trainbearers, ring bearers, and flower girl's attire are paid for by the bride and groom respectively. This attire is bought as part of the gift to the flower girls, ring bearers and trainbearers.

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PRETTY GREAT PARENTS
What styles and fashions should your parents be wearing to your wedding? ● The fathers’ tuxedos should be similar in style to that of the groom and groomsmen but not an exact match. You can all go to the same store, but they don't need to have a vest, cummerbund, or tie like the groom or groomsmen. They can wear a plain black tie if they choose. If he has his own tuxedo let him use it. ● Mothers should always look like mothers. I understand they don't want to be old enough to have a daughter or son who's getting married. We all hear it and one day we will all be that mother, but they should look like moms nonetheless. They shouldn't wear anything that's too revealing or anything that's too low cut. We want them to look pretty and feel comfortable without looking distasteful. ● Moms should have dresses or gowns - no pants suits. Business attire is not appropriate since this is a formal affair. However, today you will see mothers of the brides and grooms wearing very big and wide palazzo type pants with a petticoat type of jacket on top. This is perfectly acceptable if they wish to do this. However, it shouldn't be tight fitting or a fabric that is not forgiving. It should have some type of embroidery on it if necessary, or made from a brocade material. But it definitely should be motherly not homely. You can dress the part as the mother of the bride, look elegant and stylish, without looking tacky. ● The color of the mothers’ outfits should coordinate with the color scheme but not be an exact match. If you're having everyone wearing browns in your bridal party then, well, why not let your mom wear a taupe or something in the gold family. She will then blend well with your bridal party. Be sure it's a color that they're comfortable with.

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They should have their hair and makeup done with the bride on the day of the wedding. As much as it's your day, it's also their day too. Your mothers have nurtured you, been there for you every step of the way leading up to this point of your life, and now you're totally ready to go out on your own - one hundred percent. This is the day that they should be able to shine and look absolutely gorgeous. Photos will be taken of the moms and you want to make certain that they look and feel their absolute best.

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Chapter 5
CATERING
When it comes to catering your wedding, you actually have four different options to choose from. These options are: 1. Buffet Style. This is where all the food is lined up on tables and the guests serve themselves. They can have whatever they prefer. With me that would probably be one of everything that's on the table. 2. American Style/Sit down dinner. Here the food is brought to the guests already plated while they are seated. At times, due to my extreme hunger at this point in any wedding, I've had to control myself from physically attacking the waiters carrying the trays of food even before they get to the tables. Well, I might be exaggerating slightly, but believe me it's come close. Let's return to discussing the American Style or sit down dinner as it's usually referred to. All the food they'll be eating will be on that plate, but of course where else would it be! 3. Family Style. This is where the waiters bring out large platters of food. The platters are placed on the table, and the guests can proceed to help themselves to whatever food they prefer, and to whatever amount they desire. This is a throw back to that age-old "football wedding", where large platters of only sandwiches were placed in the middle of each table, along with pitchers of soda and beer as added attractions. If a table was out of ham sandwiches, someone from another table would toss one over. Oh, those good old inexpensive days!

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4. French Style. Here the waiters again bring out large platters of food, the guests then pick and choose what they want, but the waiters serve them. The most typical and widely used options are the Buffet and American Styles. When it comes to discussing the catering with the reception hall vendor be sure to obtain the following: ● You want to have an itemized list of all the food that's going to be served at each course. If they tell you that you're going to have three or four separate courses served, you want to know exactly what your guests will be served as far as appetizers, salads, soups, etc. For the main course, which is usually a meat, you want to know exactly what meat they'll be serving, and if there will be choices. Fish can also be included as one of the main course dishes. You'll also want to know if there will be a pasta dish. Make sure all of these offerings are itemized. You might also want to know what ingredients they'll be using. ● Be sure to arrange for a food tasting and linen inspection. This is crucial. You're paying all this money for food and you want to make sure that the food you're paying for is acceptable to your taste. You also want to be sure that the linens that are going to be on your tables be in pristine condition. There should be no visible stains, rips, or fraying anywhere. You also want to make sure that they are the correct color that was originally promised you. ● You might want to take into consideration your guests' dietary needs. Try to arrange with your caterer to have available a special vegetable dish, low sodium dish, or maybe a non-sugar dessert that a special guest might require. You can't be expected to satisfy every ones needs, so just do the best you can. You aim to please, but you just can't please everyone. ● You also want to be given a time line as to when each course will be served. Most traditional American wedding receptions are approximately four hours long, not including the cocktail hour. You want to be told at approximately what time each course will be served. If you have an eight to twelve wedding - your appetizer will be served at eight thirty, your salad/soup will be served at nine, your entree served at nine forty-five, etc. You want to have some type of gauge as to when and what things will be served. I've
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yet to attend a wedding that has run exactly by the clock. Eventually everything usually works out according to plan, even if the "tick" sometimes isn't exactly in sync with the "tock". ● Remember to arrange meals for your DJ or band, photographer, videographer, and any other service personnel that you may be bringing in, such as a wedding coordinator. These vendors are usually told that they are going to be fed and they expect to eat. Believe me it's not a good idea to starve the guys who are supplying the music! They don't have to be served the exact same things as your guests. Usually, at most reputable places, the vendors you bring in will be served a plate of food, a very respectable plate of food I might add, where the cost is one third to one half the price of a guest's dinner. Be sure to find this out and make sure it's written into your contract before you give a deposit. ● The last thing that you want to find out from your caterer is, do they have a cake cutting fee? Remember the song with the words "the bride cuts the cake". I say let the bride stand there the remainder of the night and cut that cake! Believe me it will be a lot cheaper. Okay, enough with the humor. Let's get back to reality. There are two things to consider about cake cutting.

○ If the vendor is making your cake then the cake-cutting fee isn't applicable. If
you're bringing a cake in from another bakery, cake vendor or establishment, find out if they're going to charge you to cut the cake. If there is an extra fee, try to negotiate it out of the contract. If you're able to do that be sure that the fee has been removed from the contract.

○ You can have someone else cut your cake like a guest. Maybe you have an aunt
who bakes all the time that can cut the cake. Cutting the cake can usually cost anywhere from one to three dollars per person which can add up to an astronomical fee. Three dollars per person for two hundred guests - right there you're talking about six hundred dollars. A no cake cutting fee clause in your contract could help you save six hundred dollars that could be used for some other necessity, or you can just deposit that money into your bank account.

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When you're entering into a catering contract and speaking to the vendor, try to get all of these things out of the way in advance so there's no problem on the day of your wedding.

CAKE
Other then the bride's dress and the bride and groom themselves, the cake is usually the most memorable part of the evening as far as visuals are concerned. People will remember what the cake looked like. It's spotlighted at the reception, almost like the fireworks spectacular at a fair. The cake is definitely the highlight or the main event of the evening. The national average cost of a cake is five dollars per slice. Keep in mind that this is the average cost throughout the whole country. Here are seven cake tips that I'd like to share with you. 1. The first is that local bakers are less expensive than bakers who specialize in wedding cakes. This is a known fact. If you can find a local baker who's experienced with cakes and can make a beautiful and tasty cake, then that can usually cost you anywhere between one third to one half the price you would pay a person who specializes in wedding cakes. And they do exist especially in the large metro areas. There are people who specialize in only creating wedding and special occasion cakes. If you're trying to save money go to a local vendor - a local baker that you trust. 2. The second one is to decide on your top three cakes before you visit your vendor. Search online! Remember that whole do your homework theory! Am I sounding a little too much like a teacher? - Sorry! Well, this is where it will come in handy. Go online and see what you like. Do you like french cream? Do you like cannoli cream? Do you like butter cream? Do you want seven layers? Do you want two layers? Do you want a cake at all? These are things you want to figure out for yourselves. What colors do you prefer? If you want flowers? Intricate designs? Find your top three cakes as far as design, style, and overall look. Then print them out if you're getting them offline, or cut them out of a magazine. Bring them to the vendor so he or she can immediately get an

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idea and feel as to what your preferences are. 3. Elaborate designs on any cake increase the price significantly. If you want a lot of filigree, gold leafing, and maybe a lot of those little edible pearls, be prepared to spend a lot more money. 4. Keep in mind the time of year you're having your wedding. There are certain times of the year that the cakes are going to be more expensive depending on what your ingredients are and what kind of fillings you prefer. If you're having a fruit filling, will it be in season at that time? Between May and October cakes are going to be in high demand, therefore, vendors will be in high demand. Remember the months between May and October are prime choice months for weddings. 5. Start shopping for cakes eight to twelve weeks in advance. The reason for this is your vendors will be in high demand, and they'll be getting a lot of requests from others if their work is exceptional and they're reputable. 6. Sample, sample, sample! This is the best part of shopping for your wedding and wedding cake. You get to try all of these delicious pieces of cakes. Now, I don't want you competing with cookie monster. He doesn't have to worry about fitting into a wedding dress, and besides he's blue. Just taste test small pieces of cake. Remember you want your bridal dress to fit properly. You do want to know what's in the cake and how it tastes in advance, so not to be hit with any surprises on the day of your wedding. 7. The seventh tip when it comes to buying a cake is to get the exact ingredients written into the contract. Remember you want to know exactly what 's going to be put into your cake. You also want to know what substitutes, if necessary, are going to be utilized. This is very important in regards to allergies and anything else of that nature. If you have a peanut allergy you don't want the baker using any products that may contain peanuts or have even been near nuts. You just want to be sure as to what exactly will be put into your cake. Another cake that's becoming very well associated with weddings is a groom's cake. There are five aspects to a groom's cake.
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1. The first is that it's typically found in Southern American states and becoming increasingly popular all around the world. You'll find more and more couples are doing groom’s cakes. 2. It's typically the dessert for the rehearsal dinner or can be a second cake for the reception. The groom's favorite flavor and filling are put into the cake if used at the rehearsal dinner. If your groom loves chocolate, then that's usually what the filling is. 3. If the cake is served at the reception as a second dessert, you want it to be the exact opposite of what your wedding cake is. If your wedding cake is something outrageous, you will want your groom's cake to be something very simple and vice versa. This is so the guests have more of a selection. 4. The groom's cake should be a layered sheet cake. Nothing bigger then that. It shouldn't have any tiers. It can be a different shape but it definitely should be a layered sheet cake. 5. The number one requirement when it comes to the groom's cake is to reflect the groom's interests. This is the fun cake. This is the cake where if your groom is a huge sports fan, have the cake decorated in his teams favorite colors or emblems. A very big feature is that if he's into movies then have the cake shaped into a character or something else special from that movie. One that I've seen was the character ET, where they had the cake shaped exactly like ET. Other ones were sports themes where they actually have a round cake shaped into a stadium for baseball teams. Another was a large sheet cake decorated as a football field with little toy football players on the field. I've seen one where the groom was a very well known artist. He was very good and took great pride in his artistry. So, they made a cake that was shaped like a paintbrush. You can basically do anything. There are other options when it comes to your cakes. ● Now you don't have to have a five-tier layer cake when it comes to your wedding cake, you can have a cupcake tower. This has become increasingly popular. The reason why is because it's so quaint, cute, and actually simple to do. The bride and groom could
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easily do this themselves. It's very simple to make a bunch of cupcakes. Have four or five people making cupcakes and decorating them at least a day or two before the wedding. It's less expensive to do a cupcake tower. ● You can also have a cake with fake layers. What this means is that if you really want to go for that seven-tiered cake but it's too expensive, there's no reason why most of the cake can’t be made of Styrofoam, while only the bottom and top layers are actually the cake. It's a very common practice. ● Another way to go would be to have an entirely phony cake just because of your indifference as far as wedding cakes go. You simply might want that cake at the wedding only to be used as a prop for your photos. One, it will save you a great deal of money. Two, anyone can do it. They can go to a craft shop and purchase some Styrofoam, and basically wrap it in fondant. It's very simple to do and it's very cost effective. ● You can also use individual mini wedding cakes. These are usually a little bit pricier. They are along the same concept as the cupcake tower, except they're actually individual wedding cakes decorated as a wedding cake. They can either be served in a plate or placed in front of each guest, or they can be boxed and made part of the favor. These are a little more expensive because they have to design each cake separately as opposed to designing just one large wedding cake. ● You can always opt for a smaller cake along with other desserts. Which means if you really just aren't a cake person but you want that cake-cutting photo, you can get a small two or three layer cake. A family member such as your mom, sister, aunt, etc can bake it. You can serve other desserts such as ice cream, pies, or tarts, along with the small cake. This is very similar to the dessert hour, also known as the Venetian hour, used at weddings in the Northern United States and parts of Europe. This dessert hour consists of every dessert imaginable with not much emphasis on the wedding cake. Another item that adds to your cake costs are your cake toppers. If you look at the picture there's a cute little bride and groom in the picture, well, that's a cake topper. You can have a cute little bride and groom. A lot of brides today are doing things that relate to their theme.
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They're also doing initials. You'll find this online a lot or in magazines, where the couple's initials are used as a cake topper and decorated with rhinestones or made of a nice metal. You can do whatever your heart desires. Anything you want can be done. The only thing you have to be aware of when it comes to your cake toppers is it's weight. You don't want it to be too heavy or it may fall right through your cake.

WEDDING STATIONERY
What exactly makes up a full formal wedding invitation? It's actually devised of six different parts. ● The first is the actual invitation itself. This is where all your information will be printed - your names, the address, the church, etc. ● Next is your reception card. This is the card that has your reception information on it. ● Usually there are directions and maps included to either the church or to wherever your ceremony is being held, and/or your reception depending on how far away it is. ● A response card, which usually is a regular folded card that is mailed back to you. ● ● A liner, which is generally tissue paper. And then there are three envelopes - the outer envelope, the inner envelope, and the response envelope. ○ The outer envelope is actually where you write the address, the return address, and your stamp.

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The inner envelope is usually thicker and lined. Inside this envelope is where all your invitation parts will be placed.

The third envelope is for the response card. It's self-addressed back to you and already stamped so that your guests just have to pop it into a mailbox.

What are your printing options when it comes to your invitations? Well, you actually have five different options. ● The first one is engraving. Engraving makes the text look as if it's raised off of the paper. Metal plates are usually used for this process. It's usually not that easy to find engravers. This is the most expensive procedure for printing. ● The next most expensive procedure is called calligraphy. This is that fancy script that you find everywhere. If done by hand it's expensive, but now there's something called digital calligraphy that is actually quite affordable. ● There is also thermography which is the most popular printing used for invitations. Ninety-nine percent of the time thermography is what is used on those invitations that you receive. It has a very similar look as engraving. The text is raised off the page but it's a fraction of the cost. This is one of the most popular printing methods you'll find on invitations and the most affordable. ● The fourth is offset printing. This is the most common printing that you'll find. It is used far more than any other form of printing. It can be done at home from your own regular printer. And what's very unique with offset printing is that it allows you to use multiple colors, and once again it is the most affordable. ● The fifth one is written invitations. The only time that you can use written invitations is when you have less then fifty invited guests. This is a rule of etiquette. For these invitations you'll need an extremely good handwriting, very straight and legible. This method is very cost effective.

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There will be additional stationery needs when dealing with your wedding invitations. They are as follows: ● Save the date. These are sent anywhere between six to eight months in advance depending on what type of wedding you're having. The use of magnets is very common now as reminders for saving dates. They can be placed on your refrigerator, and can be found all over the Internet. "Save the dates" range anywhere from seventy-five cents to three dollars each. So, just be aware of that price before you purchase any. ● Rain cards that are included in your normal invitation that you send out to your guests. Basically, these are rain dates in case of foul weather. If any part of your affair is to be held outdoors a rain date will be required. It will inform the guests as to the new date, place, and time of your ceremony and/or reception. ● Announcements are the cards that are sent out to relatives, friends, etc. who couldn't attend the wedding or who weren't invited to the wedding, and announces that you've been married and when. These are sent out one or two weeks after your wedding day. ● Thank you cards. You're going to have a lot of thank you notes to write, between your bridal shower, bachelorette party, engagement party, and of course, your wedding itself. These are usually sent out four to six weeks after the event takes place. They should be hand written and should reference the gift that you've received from them. If you didn't receive a gift simply refer to the fact that they showed up. ● The last are ceremony programs. These are optional. Many people tend not to use these. These programs state the line up of the ceremony, how it will run down, the members of the wedding party, and in what order they're presented. It usually contains a thank you from the couple. And since the ceremony is before the reception, it will usually contain additional directions to the reception.

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INVITATIONS: ADDRESSING & ASSEMBLY
Let’s discuss your invitations as far as addressing and assembling them. Before you even get started there are four things you're going to need. ● First, you're going to enlist helpers who have good penmanship. Good penmanship meaning the kind that anyone will be able to decipher! If you've decided to hand write addresses onto the inner and outer envelopes, you will definitely need people with good penmanship assisting you. Remember, you won't be writing doctor's prescriptions where the words are barely legible. ● Next, you've got to be sure that you have all the postage necessary. This includes postage going onto the outer envelope, which houses the entire invitation package, and the postage required for your inner envelope, which houses the response card. Be sure to have the correct amount of postage on your outer envelope, because it will be weighty due to its extra contents. Remember, no messing with the post office. They'll be only too happy to return all those inappropriately stamped envelopes to you, and might I add "with a smile". Don't make it more difficult for our postal service to do their job, so make sure you get it done right the first time around. ● Pens - lots and lots of pens! You'll need pens that write very well, compliment your penmanship, aren't going to appear choppy when used, and must be of the same color. Actually, I'm thinking maybe "magical pens"; therefore, when I simply twitch my nose they'll proceed to write on their own. Well, that's not ever going to happen! So, let's

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move on. Black is the most typical and widely used color. ● Envelope moisteners. Save your saliva for swallowing! Moisteners can be purchased at any office supply store and come in very handy. You don't want to be sitting there licking three hundred envelopes - trust me. There are a few Do’s and Don’ts of Addressing. ● DO hand write or preprint addresses onto your envelopes. DON’T use self-adhesive labels on envelopes. As easy as it sounds, simply printing everything out onto a label sheet and sticking them onto your envelopes just doesn't appear appropriate. You definitely should hand write your envelopes, preprint the addresses directly onto each envelope using your printer, or have them done by a calligrapher. ● DO use the full names and addresses including titles when addressing your invitations. ○ You want to put Mr. & Mrs. Alexander Smith as opposed to using Mr. & Mrs. Alex Smith. ○ ○ You can use numbers such as 754 for the house address. Streets addresses aren’t so cut and dry. The correct procedure is to write out the numbers from one to nine, but if it's ten or over use numerical numbers. So, if a person lives on "9th" Street you must spell out the word "Ninth". If they live on "11th” Street you can use the numerical version as is. Don't abbreviate streets or cities. If a person lives on Astoria "Blvd." you must write out the word "Boulevard". If they reside in "NYC" you must write out the words "New York". ● DO abbreviate states and countries. This is done more to accommodate the post office than for any other reason. This makes it easier for the post office to sort the mail, and there's a higher guarantee that your mail will arrive to its destination in a timely manner. Good examples of this would be abbreviating NY for New York and CA for California.

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DON’T put "and guest" on the outer envelope. It should only be put on the inner envelope, which contains the entire invitation package. If you're inviting a single cousin and he doesn't have a girlfriend, remember not to place "and guest" on the outer envelope, only on the inside one.

I'm also going to help you with some titles, as some people have an aversion as to the correct use of titles. They don't know exactly what to use or for whom. ● ● ● ● ● Mr. is used for any male over the age of thirteen years old. If you're sending an invitation. Mrs. is used for a married or widowed female over the age of eighteen years old. Ms. is used for a single or divorced female over the age of eighteen. Miss is used for any female under the age of eighteen. Master is for any male under the age of thirteen.

If you're going towards a more formal route with regards to your wedding, then these titles are used for the inner envelope as well as the outer envelope. If you're inviting a family named the Jones, and you have mom and dad Jones, big sister Jones, little brother Jones, and little sister Jones, you need to know if big sister Jones is over the age of eighteen? If so, then she gets her own invitation - there's no question about that. However, we now have little sister and little brother Jones. Well, how old are little sister and little brother Jones? To properly address the outer envelope you'll need to know their age order. The inner envelope has the same list, without the address. Here’s a small sample: Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Jones Miss Catherine Jones Master Joseph Jones 754 Ninth Street New York, NY 10001 If you're going the informal route you can mail the invitation to “the Jones Family”, but actually put John and Jane Jones and then list the kids names according to their descending ages, oldest to the youngest, on the inner envelope. You only have to write their first names. John and Jane Jones Molly, Stephen and Christopher

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Professionals always retain their titles when it comes to addressing them. ● ● Judges are addressed as the Honorable Joseph Smith. Doctors are addressed as Dr. Joseph Smith, but you don't have to acknowledge what type of doctor they are. ● Political figures, clergy, and military personnel are addressed by their positions such as Senator Joseph Smith, Reverend Joseph Smith, and General Joseph Smith. Here are some other examples that may answer your questions as far as couples are concerned. ● If the wife is a doctor or professional then you must list the wife's name first as in Dr. Mary Smith & Mr. Joseph Smith. If she is a judge then again it should read the Honorable Mary Smith & Mr. Joseph Smith. ● If the gentlemen is the professional and has a title associated with his name then the invitation should read Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Smith, or Honorable Joseph Smith and then the wife's name if he is a judge. ● For a family you can put Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Smith & Family, or The Smith Family. I tend to opt for the second choice. ● For unmarried couples that are living together you list their names, always the woman first, so it reads as Ms. Catherine Smith & Mr. William Jennings. Let's go over the ten steps to assembling your invitations. 1. Hold the invitation in front of you with the writing will be facing you. 2. Place the liner, usually tissue paper, over the writing in the center. 3. The reception card is placed, writing up, on top of the tissue paper. 4. Lay the map and any additional insert cards such as a rain card, etc., face up on top of the reception card.
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5. Lay the response card, writing up, on top of its coordinating envelope with the envelope's writing down. The response card is placed under the envelope's flap, while the writing on the envelope faces downward. 6. Then place this on top of your maps or any other insert cards that are there already. 7. Take the whole pile and place it into the inner envelope with the response card still at the top. You're not going to seal this envelope. 8. Turn the inner envelope over and place it with the name facing you into the outer envelope. Remember, this is the only envelope that you will actually seal. 9. Seal it 10. Stamp it. And there you have it! Your whole invitation package is fully assembled and ready to be mailed. Once you place those invitations into the mailbox there's no turning back.

PERSONAL WEDDING NEWSLETTERS & WEBSITES
These tools are a great way to share all the information and late breaking news regarding your wedding. ● They also fit all of the information that the invitation didn’t have the room for. ● They can provide an early introduction to the couple, bridal party, parents, or any other prominent people who will be part of your wedding. ● They can be used to explain the cultures and customs others may not be familiar with. For example, if you're having a very traditional Hindu or Jewish ceremony and your guests aren't too familiar with the rituals that are going on during the ceremony, a personal wedding website or newsletter is a great way to get them accustomed to it beforehand.
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They can give your guests insight as to what is going to occur.

There are seven things that you should include when it comes to your wedding website or newsletter. ● Couple's introductions. Tell people who you are. His side may not know that much about you. Your side may not know that much about him. And maybe your friends and your co-workers don't know much about the both of you. This is a great way to let people know who you are, where you grew up, what schools you've attended, if you have a degree, what your degree is, what your current employment is, your hobbies, and so on. Tell your proposal story. Explain to people how it happened and how you got to this point. You may want to include photos of the couple, wedding party, some of the plans and locations. ● Give wedding day details. These details can include such information as the ceremony and reception locations and addresses. ● Wedding Party Introductions. Here you can explain the following: Who are they? What do they do? Who are they in relation to you? Why are they in the party? ● Out of town accommodations and possible attractions. For those who are visiting or have never been to the area in which you're getting married, maybe there's something for them to see if they come a few days earlier or stay a few days later. ● Describe the theme of the wedding. If you have already picked out colors, maybe you can include flowers of that color in the newsletter. If you have a very rustic theme describe how it's going to play out, and what you envision for the wedding. ● ● Explain your traditions. Others may be unfamiliar with your traditions. You can also include your honeymoon plans. This is a great thing to do if you're going to a place in the world that you've never been to before, but maybe others have. They definitely will be contacting you with attractions to see, where you can go and what you
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can do, and maybe they have an "in" to something that can actually save you more money in the long run. Let's talk about the website for a moment. ● ● It serves as a virtual wedding hub for guests. This website is something that the groom can become involved in. Most guys are pretty tech-savvy and they love to play on the computer, but when it comes to planning a wedding many guys feel left out of the process. By creating a wedding website together this will give them something "wedding related" to do, make them feel useful, and will also be something that's very helpful for your guests. ● A website can also be utilized after your "I do’s. You can share a post-wedding recap for those who couldn't attend. You can share the photographs your guests will inevitably send you with everyone. It's also a great way to share your honeymoon photos too. Wedding websites are truly a great way to go. ● There are lots of free services available to you engaged couples. There are some services where you pay to have a personalized URL and have more options such as RSVP functions and message boards. Now, let’s discuss the wedding newsletter. ● The wedding newsletter can also be used as a very informative version of the "Save the date". Today, everyone sends these huge magnets that can cost a fortune. Well, why not include a smaller, more cost effective magnet with a newsletter? You don't have to worry if you're not very crafty as far as coming up with a template, as they are readily available throughout the Internet. ● One difference between a wedding newsletter and a wedding site is that the newsletter is actually printed and sent out to your guests.

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Another big difference is that the website, depending on which way you go, can be practically free.

The newsletter, no matter how you go, is going to cost you something. At the least, you'll be paying for the postage.

But they are a great way to get your guests involved and excited about your wedding even before it happens, especially the non-internet savvy.

Whatever you choose to do -- definitely personalize it. Try to carry the theme of your wedding throughout the design of your website or newsletter, and have fun with it. That's the best part of being able to utilize your website or newsletter.

FLOWERS & DECOR
Here are seven tips that I would like to share with you regarding your flowers and decor. ● Flowers and decor should be booked at least five to seven months in advance. When you're looking for vendors be sure to check out approximately five to seven different ones. Get different quotes and prices and see what you actually get with each package that you're offered. ● Your goal is to match your flowers and decor to your overall theme. Whatever colors you're using in regards to your decor should be carried through to your flowers. Use complimentary flowers to coordinate with your decor, if the flowers you had originally chosen simply don't come in the
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decor colors you've chosen. ● Be sure to test your bouquet as well. This doesn't mean you have to bring your flowers to a doctor and have the fluid in the stems tested for any possible floral diseases. Just a little humor here! Simply ask your florist if you can test the different sizes and designs of the bouquets. For example, a large cascading bouquet makes a short slender bride appear even smaller. You want a bouquet that's complimentary to your size, shape, dress, and hairdo. You want to be able to test these bouquets in your hands while standing in front of a mirror. You might want to resort to the old adage that reads, "mirror, mirror, on the wall", to actually find out which bouquet is the “fairest of them all”. But that only happens in fairy tales, right! Your best bet is to simply see which ones you're most comfortable holding, and which ones compliment your frame. ● You want to be aware of big flower holidays that can turn a beautiful bouquet of flowers into dollar signs for a vendor, and at the same time put a hole in your pocket. If your wedding falls near Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, chances are the cost of your flowers will be extremely expensive. ● While choosing your flowers usually only consists of the way they look, match the decor, and smell, you may want to take the extra step and research the meaning of the flowers. Choosing flowers according to their meanings can convey a deeper feeling throughout your whole day. If you choose a flower that matches your decor but is also a symbol of love and respect, this will probably set a good tone throughout your wedding day. ● The most expensive flowers are typically calla lilies and roses. If you really have your heart set on roses and calla lilies, but your budget doesn't really coordinate with an entire bouquet of these two flowers, then I suggest using them sparingly. You can make them your focal point, but not an overwhelming focal point. This way you get the flowers you want without breaking the bank. ● The next thing you want to think about when you're trying to envision your flowers are the centerpieces. There are certain details you should be aware of when it comes to centerpieces.

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The first is that you really want to think about the height of the centerpiece. You may have your heart set on very elaborate tall centerpieces, but if the ceiling in the reception room is low, they will actually make the room feel smaller and more congested. The bottom line is that this look will make the room simply seem too crowded. The opposite is also true. If you have really high vaulted ceilings, but you have very small, dainty, and short centerpieces, it will make the room appear extremely enormous and the people will actually look lost in it. You want to take into consideration the height and depth of the room, and even the size of the tables when deciding the height of your centerpieces.

The next option would be mirror illusions. This is a great way to get more bang for your buck. You can have small arrangements, tall arrangements, or even sparse arrangements, but by simply placing a mirror underneath it makes the arrangement appear fuller then it actually is.

Another centerpiece idea is a non-floral arrangement. Candles, fruits, shells, and things that are associated with your theme really do bring out both the bride and groom's personalities more. Sometimes this idea is even more cost effective and can bring together the entire theme of your wedding.

Now, I have my seven saving secrets for you when it comes to your flowers. ● Buy flowers that are in season. Whenever possible try to use flowers that are considered in season because they honestly do cost less. When you're buying flowers that are out of season, the florist must then have them imported from other locations where they're in season. Not only are you paying for the flowers, but also you're basically paying for their airfare. This really can add up depending on what type of flowers you're getting. If the flowers themselves are expensive and you're having them shipped in, well, then you'll actually be paying double the cost of what you would have paid for flowers that were in season. Plus in season flowers always look ten times better because they match the elements around you.

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Less is always more. If your favorite flowers are very expensive use them sparingly, and pair them with less expensive flowers that will blend. A good example of this would be that if you love American Beauty roses, they're just your favorite red roses, but the problem is that they're really expensive in your area, then here is what you can do. You get the flowers that you want but use them sparingly. Just use other red flowers that match them. Today, florists are putting little crystals or rhinestones in the center of each rose. What they can do is put these little rhinestones into the middle of the American Beauty roses, thus allowing them to stand out that much more then the surrounding red flowers in the bouquet. So, you're able to have the flowers that you want, not cost you an arm and a leg, and still have them appear as the highlight of your bouquet.

Always remember that fresh cut flowers are actually less expensive than the structured ones. What this means is that flowers such as tulips will actually be less expensive than maybe roses, simply because they don't involve as much work.

Double duty. This is another good way to save money when it comes to your decor. Have your flowers for one part of the day be used again in another area. For example, you can use your bridesmaids' bouquets and even your bridal bouquet as flowers for their tables, the cake table, or for a sweetheart table. If you're having a very large dais each girl can place their bouquet in front of them that really decorates the table. This way you won't need extra decorations for the table. This reuse of floral bouquets can come in handy because it saves you a heap of money.

Saving with silk. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of silk flowers. However, if you use them in the two ways that I'm going to explain they'll actually become elegant timeless flowers that you'll have forever. You actually can have so many more flowers and people will never be the wiser. ○ The first way is to mix and match. Surprisingly, brides are deciding more and more to mix silk flowers with fresh cut flowers. If you really can't afford a lot of fresh cut flowers, well, get silk ones and mix them in with the other flowers that you can afford. Believe me they will stand out so beautifully, and nobody will ever notice that they're silk.

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When you're buying silk flowers you have to be sure to buy quality. As with regular flowers they run the gamut. Sometimes you'll get beautiful ones, and other times you'll get ones that just look cheap. You really have to get in there and look and feel them. My preference is not to purchase silk flowers online unless they have an incredible return policy. ○ My other tip when it comes to silk flowers is that if you're looking to preserve your bouquet, which a lot of brides do, preserving the live flowers can cost you hundreds of dollars, so just have a replica made using silk flowers. It costs so much less and anyone who's good with flowers can actually make it. You'll be preserving your bouquet, and it can be completed even before you go on your honeymoon. Many people won't do this. There are those of you who really want to preserve their bouquet, only for the fact that it’s a family honored tradition. It is a gorgeous memento to have from your wedding. So, if you’re going to do it then do it with silk flowers. ● Share the cost. Now, what does this mean? If there's another wedding on the same day as yours, get in touch with the bride and groom and see if they would like to split the cost of the flowers. Let's say that your ceremony is at 12:00 and the other ceremony is at 11:00, well, get together with them. See if you have the same idea as far as flowers, or see if you can compromise on ideas as far as flowers -- and then split the cost. Therefore, you're both getting the flowers you want but at a fraction of the price. When it comes to this, you know my rule, that both the bride and the groom should be signing the contract. Well, this is doubly important. If you're sharing the cost with another bride and groom be sure that they both sign the contract. ● The single big impact. What does this mean, right? It's kind of scary sounding isn't it? Use single flowers for your bridesmaids, maid of honor, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom. Instead of them having a very elaborate bouquet they can carry a single flower wrapped with ribbon. It makes such a beautiful and simple statement. When you have your girls holding it, for some reason, it's an absolutely stunning look. What it really does is put more emphasis on the girls as far as their appearance. It makes them feel a little bit more special, and it also costs one third of what a big bouquet would cost. For
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example, a great flower for the summer is a sunflower. Keep this in mind when going to your florist. Keep an open mind when it comes to your flowers, because as gorgeous as they are you want to be sure you're getting everything you want without paying an exorbitant amount of money.

7 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR FLORIST?
There are seven questions to ask your florist. ● Who will be the main florist working on your wedding? The reason you want to know this is because you want to meet with this person and see examples of their work. You want to be sure it’s definitely that person’s floral creations that are being used at your wedding. This will give you an insight as to what they can provide for you. ● Have they worked at your ceremony location in the past? If so, do they have photos of their work at this location available for you to see? You want to know exactly what they've done at this place, or if they've worked at this location before - your temple or your church. You want to see what they can do. Maybe they can do something that you've never thought was possible. You want to see pictures because maybe you're not one hundred percent up on your flower lingo, and you're not exactly sure what some of the words mean. ● Have you ever worked at my reception

location in the past? If so, do you have photos of your work from there? The same
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premise as for the ceremony location. You want to see what they can do for you with the room that you've provided for them. ● May I see other samples of your work that are relevant to our theme/color scheme and time of year? If you're having a beach wedding in July, well, why don't you see what they can do for you. Maybe you'll get ideas from them, but you can also gauge what they can actually provide for you. ● What flowers do you recommend for our wedding? The reason for this question is to find out if they're going to recommend flowers that are realistically appropriate for your theme, color, and time of year, or they're going to recommend the most expensive flowers. You have to be sure you accurately convey what you envision for your wedding. Do you want something very Victorian, very classical, or very elegant? Do you want something very funky and modern? See what they recommend to you for your wedding. Be sure to do your research in advance. Remember your research! This way you'll have some kind of base information in order to distinguish whether they're trying to pull at your purse strings, or they're actually trying to help you create the wedding of your dreams. ● Do you offer any packages? If so, can you give us a run down of the prices and what's included in each package? Sometimes it's less expensive to get your flowers from vendors who offer them "ala carte", or also known as creating your own package deal. Ordering a large volume of certain items is more cost effective when going with package deals. Find out what packages they offer, if any of them are within your budget, or are within your vision as to what you need, then see what they can do for you. ● Is delivery and set up extra? If they tell you it's going to cost you forty-five dollars for delivery and two hundred dollars to set up, then see if you can negotiate to get the cost of both or either down to nothing or at least to a very minimal amount. Remember, it's not necessary to tip your florist, but it's still your decision to make. You might feel that they've charged you a very reasonable or low price for your flowers, so you may want to tip them. It's your decision. But, be sure that if you're paying for both delivery and set
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up, it won't cost you an exorbitant amount of money. Depending upon your choice of centerpieces the florist may not have to do much of anything as far as the set up goes. Again make sure you're being charged accordingly.

SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
Here’s some information, which will help you when you begin your search to find a good reliable photographer. ● The first thing you're going to have to do is to interview photographers seven to ten months prior to your wedding date. Photographers tend to book up early. Because of the different styles of photography, and the fact that you want to have that one-on-one close relationship with your photographer, you really want to find the right one. ● ● You also want to decide on the main style you'd like to shoot. For example formal or photojournalism/candid. ○ Now, photojournalism or candid, as they used to be called, and sometimes still are, is a very laid back type of paparazzi look. These are the photographers that you really don't see or hear, but they are there doing their job. They're quietly shooting every single photograph they possibly can, and capturing those special moments that posing for a photo can never reproduce. ○ Then you have the formal pictures -

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which are the ones that you pose for. The photographer will direct you to tilt your head in a certain direction, hold your bouquet a certain way, smile at each other lovingly, look down at your hands, etc. Yes, you'll hear all of that. My advice to you is to get a combination of the two. Ideally, you want to get about a 75/25% split. You want 75% of your photographs to be photo journalistic where they're just catching you, your husband, your bridal party, and your guests in special ways by simply capturing those special moments. And then you want the other 25% to be formal because these are the pictures that you hand out every so often. These are the pictures that contain your bridal party, your parents, your relatives, your siblings, etc. ● Always be sure to inquire as to the type of technology they are using as far as cameras, editing software, etc. If you're a novice when it comes to the field of technology: i.e. as far as a camera is concerned you're only good with a disposable, and as far as editing software yours consists of a marker and a pair of scissors, well, then take a little crash course with regards to the top cameras and editing software being used in the business. Go back to your research and homework and get a gauge as to what photographers are using today. See if they're using the most updated equipment. Remember, you don't want pictures that are going to be dated or very old, but you also don't want too much of the glitz and glamour when it comes to your photography. ● During the interview process you want to review their portfolio with a very keen eye. You want to look for those photos that appeal to you. Maybe you saw a pose that you really liked in the first photographer's portfolio, but the second photographer doesn't offer that particular pose. Inquire about it. Try to keep a mental note or even written notes about the photographs that you prefer. This way when you do sign with a photographer you can give them a list of the “must take shots”, and then you'll finally have the pictures of your dreams. ● Finally, you want to insist on retaining all the negatives and the copyright release. What this means is if they take sixteen hundred photos you want to have those sixteen hundred negatives, whether they be digital, CD, or actual physical negatives. You want to have every single photo even if they have taken it of his/her thumb while they were practicing with a new flash. You want to get a signed copyright release, so that if you
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ever decide that you want to publish your photos, post them on your own website, post them on some other website, or even use them for financial gain, you won't have to pay your photographer any royalty. The seven questions you're going to have to ask your photographer. 1. Do they offer packages? If so, what do they include? You want to be sure that it's more cost effective for you to look into these packages rather than ordering everything a la carte. The main items you want to make sure you obtain from your photographer are all of your negatives. You also want to know the amount of time, as far as the number of hours, they will spend taking your photos. Do you want them there when you're getting dressed, at the ceremony, and how late do you want them to stay at the reception? Be sure to keep all this in mind. 2. Inquire as to how many pictures the photographer will take, and how many proofs will they provide you with? Now, your proofs and your negatives are two different items. If the photographer takes sixteen hundred pictures you may only be provided with seven hundred prints. The reason for this is that they only take the time out to print, usually on a very thick hard stock, the pictures that they feel are the best ones that were taken on the day of your wedding. You always want to try to get a good amount of proofs. If they're taking sixteen hundred pictures, but they're only giving you two hundred proofs, well, that's not acceptable. It should be at least 50% if not more. 3. Can one service be replaced with another? This one is my favorite. For instance, if you prefer a particular package that they offer, but the only problem is that this package only offers one parent album but you need two, try to make a swap. The parent album is a smaller version of the album you'll be receiving. So, maybe if the package offers you 8 X 10 prints, 5 X 7 prints, and one hundred thank you cards, all of which you don't need, see if the photographer will replace those items with an additional copy of a parent album. This way you'll be getting exactly what you want without getting items you have no use for. And most importantly all this won't cost you any extra money. 4. What is the turn-around time for proofs and prints? If you're getting married in June you should be able to see your photos by September. If you're not going to receive your
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proofs back until the next June then this isn't the photographer you want to go with. You want your photos returned quickly without having to wait an excessively long amount of time. Be sure to get a turn-around time from your vendor, and also be sure to have that included on your contract. 5. Do you offer digital albums? For those of you who are computer illiterate - you don't need this. For those of you who may not be so computer savvy, but want to be able to share your proofs with your out-of-town guests, friends, or family members without having to lug around a heavy album, then see if the photographer offers a digital album. What this means is that the photographer takes the digital photos that were shot, uploads them on to a digital friendly website, and hosts it for about a month or two. This way your digital album will be online for whomever wishes to view it. Now, if you're somewhat user friendly and the photographer doesn't offer a digital album, but you'll be receiving your digital proofs on CD or DVD, then what you can do is upload those pictures on to any one of the free share sites such as Picasa by Google, Shutterfly, or even Kodak Gallery. These can be shared with anyone who has an email address. 6. In case of illness or emergency what is your contingency plan? What happens if on the day of the wedding your photographer comes down with the flu? You know that he won't be able to show up, but you want to make sure that the person who does show up is qualified. You want to make sure that it's not going to be someone whose work you won't like. If the photographer tells you they will send another photographer as a replacement, you want to review that person's work as well. They will be the one shooting your wedding, so you want to be sure that person is capable of doing everything you want done. 7. Are you familiar with our wedding locations? If so, can you explain your vision for our wedding photos? What this entails is the fact that maybe they've worked at your reception location before, and know most of the best places to take your pictures. See what they can give you as far as advice, tips, and whatever. If you don't hire them the worst thing that can happen is that you have more ideas to pass on to the photographer that you do hire. I hope I've been able to help with choosing the right photographer.

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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Let's get right to it - lights, camera, and action --- roll ‘em! I believe that a video is a must have since you and your future husband will remember the "least" about your wedding. The entire day will feel very rushed to you. You'll be saying your vows, going for pictures, saying hello to every single guest, dancing when you have to dance, and eating when you get a second to eat. The whole day will actually seem like a blur to you, it did for me. Even when you receive your finished photos they'll only be a remembrance of a small part of your wedding day. You'll be able to remember some parts, but you want to be able to remember every single aspect of your wedding. This is where the video becomes useful. It actually acts as a memory tool. You get to view everything that has actually occurred. There may be some good occurrences and some bad, but remember there's always that "delete" button. When it comes to your video there are three C's you should be aware of. Remember, there are four for the diamond! Well, there are three C's for the video. ● ● You want the video to be very crisp. It should be sharp, not blurry. You want it to be crystal clear. You don't want the camera to be going in and out of focus. You especially don't want anything obstructing your view. ● And you definitely want the color setting to be set correctly.

Here’s what to look for when searching for a videographer.

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1. You should start interviewing your videographer six to nine months prior to your wedding. You should interview at least five to seven different studios to get a range of prices and services available. 2. Always remember to inquire about what technology is being used in regards to the types of cameras, microphones, dubbing machines, etc. You want to make certain they are using equipment that is considered high-end technology. And in order for you to determine this you have to do a little research on your own. To help you with this you can check out such sites as cNet.com, or other similar sites that can give you the scoop as to what the latest technology is as far as videographers are concerned. 3. Remember to ask to review a complete wedding video. You don't want to view only wedding highlights and ceremonies. You want to see the entire completed video from start to finish to determine for yourself if they're qualified. They probably will show you the best of their best but that's fine. However, you do want to get a complete overview as to what they can offer and accomplish for you. Photographic studios are usually associated with videographers that specialize in the same styles. In a similar segment we had discussed the different styles of photography, whether it was candid such as photo journalistic or something more formal. Well, if you want to go for the photo journalistic look, go for a videographer that does documentary style work. Now, let's discuss the questions you need to ask your videographer. 1. Do you offer packages? If so, what are they? You want to know what their price breakdowns are, what services they automatically provide, and the approximate worth of each service they offer. 2. How many hours do you shoot? One of their packages may offer you six hours of continuous shooting. Well, that may seem great, but you have to remember that your day starts a long time before your ceremony or reception does. So, if you want to have all of this caught on video you need to factor in that time as well. Let's just say your ceremony starts at two o'clock and your reception starts at seven o'clock, well, that's already five hours. You really need to find out how many hours of continuous shooting is
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provided for in your package. 3. How many cameras will they be using? There are certain times two cameras are a necessity. There's an amazing shot every couple should have of themselves, and that's the moment you're walking down the aisle. There should be one camera focused on you catching your every glance, your every move, a smile, a tear, everything. At the same time there should be another camera focused on your husband to be. Therefore, the two shots can be dubbed together giving you a complete picture of that exact moment what he sees when he first sees you. It really is a beautiful moment that should be captured for all time. This is the only time that I really believe you should have the use of two cameras. If your package only includes one camera with continuous shooting, find out how much it would cost to have an additional camera just for the ceremony. In the long run it's really worth the extra money. Just remember to get price quotes from the different videographers you see as to what this extra camera will cost, so that you'll know whether or not you're being overcharged or getting a reasonable price. If the price of this second camera is simply too costly for you, just set up your own personal camera and focus it on the groom. Then you can give that tape to your videographer and he can dub them together for you. 4. Do you retain the master copy and copyright release? You want to make sure that, just as you received the negatives from your photographer, you want to receive the master copy of your video from your videographer. You want to retain this copy even if it's only fifteen hours of monotonous moments from the day of your wedding. 5. What is the turn-around time for a video? If your wedding is in June, realistically speaking, you should have your video in your hands by October. Make sure you find out what the turn-around time is regarding your video, and have it written into your contract. It should state the deadline date for you to receive this video. If they go over this deadline - if the date is October 1st and you don't receive it until October 15th - make sure that there is a stipulation in your contract regarding some sort of compensation for you if this problem should occur. This will give the videographer more of an incentive to

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make certain that they deliver the video to you on time. 6. How many DVDs will I receive? Now, just like with your photographer, occasionally you'll get three albums - one for you and two smaller ones for both sets of parents. The same thing should happen with your DVDs. You should have a copy and both sets of parents should have a shorter version of your copy. This way they will have something to show their friends and relatives, and you won't be receiving phone calls every five minutes requesting your copy of the video so they can show Aunt Gladys or Uncle Moe. 7. How long does the final product run? Even though your day may be eight, nine, ten, twelve, or fifteen hours long you don't want the final product to run fifteen hours. Anywhere between 1 1/2 to 2 hours is a good time for your video to run. A run of sixty minutes is even okay. You want to remain in that one to two hour range. 8. What do you charge for overtime? You really should not be going overtime in regard to your videographer. You want to factor in the exact time he should arrive and what time he should leave. Therefore, even if your party runs later then expected, all those special moments will already have been included in your video - the cake cutting, the fatherdaughter dance, the mother-son dance, etc. 9. In case of illness or emergency what is your contingency plan? If on the day of your wedding your videographer comes down with a one hundred and three fever, you want to be sure that someone will show up in his place. In addition to this you want to review this person's work. So, if your videographer Joe can't show up, but his assistant Paul can make it, you want to review Paul's work as well but beforehand. You want to be certain that Paul's work is of the same caliber as Joe's. You know what to ask and what to be looking for - so go out and interview and get ready to smile.

CUT A RUG

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The two choices you have for music are a band or a DJ. When interviewing for a band you want to interview at least nine to twelve months in advance. For a DJ you can start interviewing five to seven months in advance. Make an early decision as to whether you want to have live music or a DJ, so you can determine when you should actually start your interview process. As with other vendors you want to interview at least three to five different companies to get a range of prices and services that are available. Now that you know that there's a difference between a band and a DJ, let's discuss those differences. A DJ is usually less expensive than a band. Bands, however, are usually more traditional and a more formal way to go depending on your wedding scheme. DJs tend to be more versatile, but nothing compares to the live music that a band provides. DJs usually supply special lighting in their packages, so you will be getting two items for the price of one. With a band you should always keep in mind that five to six members are acceptable. You don't need a twelve-piece orchestra to make it a great band. A five to six member band that has singers, percussion and string instruments, really is the best choice. You can't get any better then that. There are seven "must have" song moments when it comes to your musical entertainment. 1. The first one is the entrance of the bridal party and the newlyweds. This is the first time you're being introduced as Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Therefore, you want to make sure that when you come into the reception room together you really make it a memorable entrance. The newlyweds enter the room immediately following the bridal party and
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entrance of the parents. Your entrance can be to a different song or to the same song as used by the others. 2. The newlywed's first dance. This is not the same song as your wedding song. This is simply your first dance song. You'll enter the room, be introduced to the guests, a lot of clapping, a lot of hoorays then "bam" you go into your first dance. 3. The mother and son dance. This is when the groom dances with his mom to a special song chosen by either or both of them. 4. The father and daughter dance. Here the bride dances with her dad to a special song chosen by either or both of them. 5. The anniversary dance. This is something very popular in the east, and becoming increasingly popular throughout the rest of the country and world. An anniversary dance is when the DJ requests that anyone who is married to come and dance on the dance floor. Little by little the couples are weeded out. If you're married less then five years please sit down. So, the newlyweds will actually have to sit down. If you're married less then ten years please sit down. And so on and so forth until one couple remains on the dance floor. This couple then finishes the dance and gets a nice round of applause. It really is a way to celebrate the entire union of marriage, and also to celebrate people who've been married for years and years. 6. The cutting of the cake. Usually a very fun energetic song is associated with this portion of your reception. 7. Your last dance. Now, your last dance is exactly your last dance. It's usually a fun dance that ends the evening on a good note. Two optional song moments that you have are the garter and bouquet toss and the toast introduction. The latter is a song that is going to be played prior to the first given speech. Those are the typical key moments that are usually associated with a song. You can cut some out, you can leave them all in, or you can add some. The best thing for you to do is to always
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remember to gauge the time with your musicians, and check as to whether or not they can perform certain songs. In my opinion when it comes to price you can't go wrong with a DJ. If you're going for that grand illusion or you have a certain vision then a band is usually the way to go. Definitely interview several vendors, talk to them, and then you and your fiancé should sit down to discuss what you want, what you can afford, and who can best supply you with the moments of your reception that no one else can. These are the top ten questions you want to ask your musical entertainment. 1. Do you offer hourly rates or is it a set fee? If it's an hourly rate you want to be sure that you know exactly how much time you need your musical entertainment for. Now, if you're having entertainment for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and/or reception, and if one music company will be responsible for all three of these, you want to be sure that they have a set time area as far as traveling, setting up of their equipment, etc. You also want to make sure that they are not charging you for the set up of their equipment. Their set up time should not run into the hours that you've hired them for. Here’s an example. If your reception begins at 8:00 P.M. they need to arrive approximately an hour before, which would be 7:00 P.M., to set up their equipment. If you're going for separate entertainment for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and/or reception, then you must also inquire as to the items of interest, which were just discussed pertaining to equipment, set up time, etc. You'll have to ask these questions three times over for the three separate musical vendors you will be hiring. 2. If you've decided to go with a band can you see a live performance of them not a demo tape? You want to see them in action. You want to see when and how they take their breaks, etc. If you go with a DJ you want to see a sample of their work. Usually DJs have videos of themselves from previous parties or weddings they've entertained for. You can also see the DJ's work live if they have a showcase coming up.

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3. When can we submit a “must play list” and a “don't play list”? There are certain songs that you, your husband, and your family might want played at your wedding. There also may be certain songs that you don't want played such as songs from the 60’s, Reggae, etc. Well, then you have to inform the band or DJ of this. Or visa versa - if you're really into Rap and R & B and you don't want to hear country music, then you have to make them aware of that as well. 4. How will guests' requests be handled? You can't stop a guest from requesting certain music. They may want to hear a special song or have a song dedicated to someone. Find out how this will be handled by the emcee, band, or DJ. Are they going to check with you first, or is there a person that they can consult with in order to get a request Okayed. 5. In case of an emergency or illness what is their procedure? You want to know if they have someone who fills in for them if for some reason they can't perform. If so, you want to see them and get to speak with them prior to the day of your wedding. 6. What attire is going to be worn? Will they be there in jeans and a t-shirt? Will they be wearing a three-piece suit? Or will they be wearing a tuxedo? You want to get this information in advance because their attire should coincide with your wedding scheme decor. 7. How are breaks handled and what is played during these breaks? Everybody has to take a break whether it be of a personal nature, to eat, etc. And they should be allotted those breaks. How are these breaks handled? Does somebody else from the band take over? If it's a DJ do they play recorded music and simply walk away. You should find out how these breaks are handled in advance. 8. Is entertainment provided for the cocktail hour? If a package is offered it may sometimes include cocktail hour entertainment. Usually it's a smaller version of what is provided for during the reception. Find out in advance if any entertainment is provided. If the answer is no, having background music for the cocktail hour can be as simple as hooking up an iPod, playing the radio, playing a set of CDs, or playing a master tape. It really is that simple. Consult with your music vendor before you make any
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arrangements for providing your own music for the cocktail hour. 9. What other services do you provide? Do they provide giveaways such as light up necklaces, air guitars (the blow up guitars), or special lighting effects? Do they offer you a video montage? All these things should be checked into, because maybe they supply something you want that you won't have to go to another vendor for. 10. Do you know our religious/cultural traditions? Everyone of us comes from a specific heritage. When it comes to weddings, different heritages are usually on display whether it be religious or cultural. Those traditions may include a special dance, a speech, or something of that nature. Find out if your band or DJ is familiar with your heritage and the traditions that go along with it. For example, let's use Italian weddings. They usually do a dance known as the Tarantella. Find out if your band or DJ is familiar with this dance. Can they play that type of music? Even though it may be easier to scratch it because they may not be familiar with it, I don't suggest that you omit it. You're going to have guests of all ages at your wedding. The older and more traditional guests tend to look forward to these dances. You totally don't want to disregard them, because the senior crowd at your wedding might take this as an insult. Be sure to tread lightly and speak to your parents about this matter. But whenever possible you should try to incorporate your heritage. If you are of two different backgrounds try to incorporate both of them in some way. Remember, at the end of the night the music can make or break your wedding. As much as the food is a big thing, the music is one of the most important aspects of a wedding to your guests.

"LIMO LIGHTNING" - WEDDING TRANSPORTATION
If you remember one thing from this book, let it be this: Wedding items have a 50% to 500% cost increase to their non-wedding counterparts. This is especially true when it comes to transportation.

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Here are my top three tips to saving money on your transportation. 1. Wedding vs. Non-Wedding Pricing. Call the limo company and ask for a price quote for your wedding date. Don't mention it's for a wedding, however, keep all the details the same - how many pick ups, how many drop offs, the location, and the time. In case they inquire as to why you're going to a church or a temple say it's for a baptism. Then have your fiancé or a member of your bridal party call using the same date, time, and details, but say it's for a wedding. Finally compare the prices and inquire as to the differences. If there is a difference the transportation company may tell you that it's for more insurance because it's a wedding and you get extras. Find out what the extras are. Do you really need them? If any vendor tells you that they need to charge more for a wedding than they do for a regular event, they're not being truthful with you. There's no nice way to say this. They're just out right lying to you. There's no additional incurred fee on their part because it's a wedding. They don't have to pay more to obtain certain items, they don't have to pay more for gas, and they don't have to pay more for their own liability insurance simply because it's a wedding. I have looked into this and I've spoken to people - it's simply not true. If they tell you they have these extra costs then ask for proof. 2. Another tip for you is that if your locations are far from one another such as your ceremony and reception, inquire as to the pros and cons of hourly rates vs. package deals. See if you can get a limousine with a package deal of six hours. If the two locations are really far apart find out if they include their travel time in the cost. If not, see how much the hourly rate is. It may be more cost effective to go with an hourly rate, or it may be more cost effective to go with a package deal. It all depends on what your

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wallet will allow. 3. My third tip is rent a limousine from the ceremony to the reception. Have a friend/family member handle post-reception transportation and even pre-ceremony transportation. What this means is that anybody can drive you to the ceremony. You really don't have to show up in a limousine, because ultimately the limousine will be waiting anywhere between one to two hours for you, depending on how long your ceremony runs, and you will be paying for that stagnant time. Just have the limousine pick you up from the ceremony and bring you to the reception. If any pictures are being done at that time they can take you to the photo locations, and then they can leave you at your reception. This way you're not paying for them to basically sit around and do nothing for long periods of time. After your reception have a friend or family member bring you to your destination whether you are going home, to a hotel, or to the airport. There are certain questions you should ask your transportation vendor. ● How many weddings do you book per day? You want to be sure your vendor isn't over booked, and that they haven't over stretched themselves already. If they have a fleet of thirty cars, well, how many cars will actually be used the day of your wedding? You want them to be prepared in case something unforeseen happens such as a car breaking down. You want to be sure that they will have an extra car available for you, and get it out to you as soon as possible. If all thirty cars in their lot are taken for that day, maybe that's not the best vendor to choose. ● Will they charge extra for photos that are taken with their vehicles? A lot of brides love to have pictures taken with their limousine, bus, or carriage. And many shady vendors will tell you that you must pay an extra fee because you'll be using their car. If this is the case then run the other way. Don't choose a vendor that's going to charge you for every nook and cranny because it's not necessary. ● Do they offer an on time guarantee? If you need to be at your reception, photo shoot, or any other place by a specific time, do they make sure that they'll get you there on time, or do they cut some cost off the price if they're late at getting you to your destination. Try to be sure they're going to offer you some type of an on time guarantee. And if they
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don't maybe you can get reimbursed for late fees you may incur because they were running late. ● What is included in each package? Have an itemized list of the included items written into your contract. Let's say that they offer you the car for six hours. The driver is appropriately groomed wearing a tuxedo or a suit. You'll also be getting a red carpet from the church to the car. You'll be supplied with champagne and an aisle runner that they'll set up for you. If this is what they offer in their package, you don't have to pay extra for anything, and you love it, be sure that every single thing I just listed or anything that they list is on your contract. Therefore, in case they don't give you the red carpet, the champagne, an aisle runner, or worse, the driver shows up in jeans and a t-shirt, you can say that they violated the terms of your contract. ● Are the drivers dressed appropriately? Again, you want to be sure that they're dressed in some type of formal wear, whether it be a tuxedo or suit. Either one of these are acceptable, but showing up dressed inappropriately is not acceptable. ● Can we see the vehicle's registration and registration number? Have these requests placed on your contract. This is to avoid any type of misrepresentation. They may show you a specific edition of a car. Let's say you want an antique Rolls Royce and they show you a white 1937 Rolls Royce with a cream interior. This is your dream car. Be sure the vehicle registration and registration's number of that specific car is on your contract. So, when they show up the day of your wedding you can check your contract to see that they have provided you with the exact same vehicle you saw. This is to avoid any switches. Imagine if you were expecting the Rolls Royce and in its place they send you a 2007 PT Cruiser in purple. This is just an example of what can happen. This little addition into your contract will keep them from switching the car you were intended to have. ● Who supplies directions to and from each location? Today, cars are being outfitted with navigational systems. This is great. In case of an older model car see who supplies the directions. Will they search for directions themselves or will you have to supply them?

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Do the drivers do a trial run to establish time? Do they actually try to go from the ceremony location to the photo shoot, or from the ceremony to the reception? Do they try to go from each stop to the next stop and time it as to how much time it will approximately take on any given day? The reason for this is you want to be certain your timing is correct on the day of your wedding. You don't want to show up late or super early to anything. So, see if they do a trial run. If they don't I really suggest that you and your fiancé do a trial run on the same day of the week that your wedding will fall on, and at the exact time of your wedding. Let's say that your wedding is on Saturday at 3:00 PM. I suggest that you do the trial run then to gauge how long it does take. I suggest you do this the week before your wedding. Maybe there's traffic or some sort of construction going on. If these are your problems then you'll need to find an alternate route and find it quickly. If you take the trial run too early you may not run into any snags because they simply won't exist yet. So, stick to taking that trial run a week before your wedding.

What constitutes overtime? How much does overtime cost? If you get stuck in traffic are they charging you for this? Are they charging you for getting some place late even though it's not your fault or theirs, it's simply the fault of too much traffic congestion or maybe an accident? They shouldn't be charging you, and if on the off chance they are, it should be a very nominal fee - it should be nothing or close to it.

Click Here or go to BrideStep.com to sign up for our newsletter. It’s jam packed with extra tips and tricks.

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Chapter 6
BON VOYAGE
The first thing you're going to do with regards to your honeymoon is set a budget, and do research from the onset of your engagement during your free time. It doesn't involve as much heavy planning as does the rest of the wedding. You can honestly do it while you're sitting on the couch watching television. The next aspect of planning your honeymoon is to have a discussion with your future spouse as to what your ideal honeymoon setting will be. Be leery if your future husband suggests a honeymoon at some swank resort where their main attraction is a huge golf course! Remember, this honeymoon is for dual enjoyment. When you think about your honeymoon do you imagine it being romantic, do you simply see yourselves as doing the tourist thing, or will you both be adventurous? The other things you want to think about is will you stay local, will you want to drive or take a train to your destination, only fly within the United States, or do you want to travel abroad? These are things you really want to sit down and discuss, because they will have a great impact as to the amount of money you'll be spending. Technically it's just a trip, but it's your first trip together as husband and wife. Try to incorporate at least one romantic event per night for the entire duration of your honeymoon. You don't have to spend every waking moment of your honeymoon embracing and looking into each other’s

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eyes. But you do want to spend at least a couple of hours a day remembering that it is your honeymoon. You want to share romantic moments and quality time with one another. Let's discuss the seven tips for savings on your honeymoon.

You definitely want to attend bridal expos because they're trying to get as many sales as possible. You'll be getting even better deals because they're trying to get rid of these trips. The honeymooners are the bridal expo's main consumers, and they'll offer sweet deals in order to get these trips booked. So do take advantage!

Utilize connections whenever possible. Your dad may have time-sharing or you may have accumulated airline miles. You definitely want to use these. For example, timesharing can be used basically anywhere depending on the company they're affiliated with. You could go off to Italy for one week for only the cost of the maintenance fee. Even though you may not have an all-inclusive deal with a travel agent, in the long run you'll still be saving money by using your connections.

Next, consult with at least three travel agents. Just as with any other vendor during your wedding planning process, you want to be sure you're getting the best price. In order to accomplish this you have to shop around. You also want to find the travel agency that you're most comfortable with. You're going to be discussing a lot of important details with these people, and you want to be sure this information is safe. You don't want someone using your social security number without your knowledge. Always check out your travel agency with the Better Business Bureau in your area. The reason being is that travel agencies come and go. They're very easy to start and just as easy to close down. You want to be certain that you're dealing with a reputable agency.

Always try to travel on off-peak days or off-peak times in order to save money. What this means is that during the year, the week, or even each day, there are times that most people do not like to travel. If you travel during these times you'll be saving money. Good examples of this would be to travel either on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or in the early afternoon or late evening. The other peak time during the year is around holidays. You should travel the week before or the week after that holiday, and definitely not during the summer. So, if you travel in October, as long as it's not going to be, for

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instance, to or from a World Series city area, you'll be getting a pretty good rate.

Always try to factor in the extra costs. Now what do I mean by extra? Well, here's what I mean.

○ Transportation - how are you going to get around the city or anyplace else? ○ Tips - no matter where you go you're supposed to tip people. People who deal
with your luggage, waiters, drivers, etc.

○ The tax - you have to set aside for local taxes. ○ Your own spending money - you're going to spend money somehow. ○ Your meals - you're going to have to eat. ○ Travel transfers - how are you going to get from the airport, train station, or bus
terminal to your hotel?

○ Factor in the tariff - that's due when you enter or leave a country with items
you've purchased and wish to bring home with you.

○ Avoid renting equipment you already own - while on your honeymoon if you're
participating in some activity, like going golfing or even scuba diving, and these are things that you do in your every day life, then bring your golf clubs or scuba diving equipment along with you. Just because you want to carry a little less won't help you to save money. You'll be saving a lot more money if you don't have to rent equipment that you already own. ● Your honeymoon registry. This is a great way to save money. Today they actually have registries for your honeymoon costs where guests can put money towards your honeymoon. This is great especially for those of you who have been living together or already own a house, and already have all the kitchen appliances you need.
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You can also do it as an additional registry. If you have a registry for all your kitchen stuff and whatnot, you can have a second registry for just your honeymoon where your guests will actually be paying for your honeymoon. Definitely look into this with your travel agent, because depending on where you're going you may have to use a different company. There are many of them out there for international, Disney, local, etc.

Let's talk about packing and planning.

● Always remember to purchase your ticket and make your reservations in your maiden
name. The reason for this is because if you get married on Saturday your name will not be legally changed to your husband's by Sunday. You have to physically go through a process of changing your name (which we will discuss). Traveling rules and regulations are much more stricter these days, and you want to be sure that everything on your ticket matches your identification.

● Always remember to give a complete copy of your itinerary to both sets of parents prior
to your trip. You want to make certain that somebody knows exactly where you are at all times.

● Place a day-by-day itinerary in each piece of luggage in case it gets lost. If you're
planning a seven day cruise or a seven day excursion around Europe, or you're simply going to stay at the same place for a certain amount of time - let’s say Aruba at a certain hotel, then at least they'll be able to locate you. You want to make sure you can be located at all times in case of a serious emergency. The itinerary should include the name of hotels you'll be staying at along with their phone numbers, and contact people if you've been speaking with specific people. The reason for this is in case your luggage has been lost and they locate it on the first day, then there won't be a problem because they can ship it right to your hotel since you've supplied them with that information. If it's located on the seventh day, and because your information is already in there, they will be able to ship your luggage directly to you. In addition to placing your itinerary in your luggage, you also want to be sure your regular name and contact phone number are included.

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● Always obtain the latest copy of the FAA's rules and regulations. These rules and
regulations change on a monthly basis. You want to make sure you're packing what you're allowed to pack, and in what your allowed to pack it in. You can obtain them on the FAA website and make sure to go over them with a fine toothcomb. If you don't understand any part of their rules and regulations simply give them a call and they'll review them with you.

● Pack one full day’s outfit and all your necessary medications in your carry-on. On the off
chance that your luggage does get lost you want to be sure to have a full change of clothes from undergarments on up. At least you'll have two outfits, that being the one you're wearing and the one in your carry-on. You also want to make sure that all your medications are in your carry-on. Therefore, once again, in case your luggage is lost you'll have your blood pressure medication, asthma medication, etc., at your fingertips.

● Always remember not to carry large amounts of cash on you while traveling, especially
when you're traveling international. This is an important issue. Don't carry a lot of cash whether it's U.S. or local currency. Remember, you're a tourist and we do tend to stick out like a sore thumb. No matter now much you try to blend in you're still going to look like a tourist. You don't want to be targeted.

● Keep a copy of your passport in a safe place. In some parts of the country you might be
required to keep your actual passport on your person. To keep it safe from theft you can purchase these thin affordable wallets, which allow for your passport to hang around your neck. This is definitely the way to go if you're traveling international. You can keep all your important documents in that wallet making it difficult for them to be stolen. You want to keep a copy of your passport in another safe place, whether it be in a hotel safety deposit box, or something of that nature. It can be a photographic copy of your passport. If your actual passport is stolen this copy will help to expedite your leaving the country when necessary. It's not fool proof but it helps. You will still need to visit your embassy and get paperwork from them, which would be an emergency passport, but your photocopy will help to expedite this process.

● Always mail home breakable souvenirs via UPS or FedEx from your hotel. You're going
to purchase a lot of souvenirs. There are two reasons you're going to be sending them
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home. ○ You're going to have to pay a tariff on each item that you buy overseas. So, isn't it better for you to pay the tariff quickly and painlessly than having to do it while your waiting on a long line at the airport. ○ If it's breakable you're insuring the possibility of breakage if you take it with you on the airline. The airport workers do not treat luggage kindly. And labeling it "fragile" makes no difference as to how it will be handled. To the workers at the airport the words "fragile-handle with care" have a different meaning. I think they interpret those words as meaning, "handle this package as roughly as you can".

TEN STEPS TO CHANGING YOUR NAME
1. Don't do anything until you return from your honeymoon. This is a long process and occasionally takes a few weeks. You want to make sure you have the necessary time to dedicate to the actual changing of your name. So, relax, have a few drinks, and go on your honeymoon. Don't worry about anything until after you've returned. 2. Compile a list of companies and organizations that you will need to contact to inform them of your name change. ○ Governmental agencies: DMV in regards to your license and registration, the IRS, Passport Dept., Social Security Administration, and the Voter's Registration Dept. for your area. ○ Companies - airlines and frequent flier miles companies, your banks and investments for your 401ks, stocks, etc., and your credit card companies. ○ ○ Your employer. Your insurance companies - whether it be auto, home, or medical insurance.

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○ ○ ○

Your utility companies - your phone, gas, and electric. Your cell phone company, cable company, satellite company, etc. Your accountant, your lawyer, medical personnel such as doctor or dentist, memberships such as gyms or clubs, school and alumni organizations, subscription lists for your magazines, newspapers, etc.

3. You will need to obtain at least five copies of your marriage certificate, which is not the same thing as your marriage license. This certificate is a legally binding document that is proof of your marriage. It is either mailed to you after your marriage or you can pick it up at the appropriate governmental bureau. Imagine one little piece of paper changing your whole life. Public companies such as telephone, gas, and electric only need to see a copy of this certificate, but governmental agencies such as social security, DMV, etc. need to see an actual copy of your marriage certificate, and may also try to hold on to it for a couple of weeks. Your extra copies will allow you to be able to do other necessary things while waiting for that particular agency to return your marriage certificate. 4. Go to your social security office. For up-to-date information visit their website at www.ssa.gov. You must visit your social security office first in order to get your social security card, which is your basic source of identification in the U.S. This updated social security card will allow you to be able to do everything else that is government related.

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5. When you receive your new card you can then visit your local DMV to change your license, vehicle and voter registration all at the same time. Each state DMV will have different requirements. Google your local state DMV office and they'll give you a list of requirements. Those requirements usually include your marriage certificate, your previous I.D., your new social security card, and their form. The last time I checked there was no cost, but again it depends on state requirements. When you change your name you will also be required to take a new photograph. Definitely have your hair and makeup done that day. You're going to have to show that photo pretty often so let's make it a good one. 6. Once you have a new social security card and driver's license, you can change your passport at your local post office. Again, you're going to have to check with the new rules regarding the changing of your passport. Usually it involves a new driver's license with a photo I.D., your new social security card, and a new form. There is a fee associated with this and it does change from time to time. 7. You can now change your name for credit cards, banks, investments, and employers. Again, you are going to need a copy of your marriage certificate. You can then phone or go to your local bank, and if your investments are local you can visit them as well. Most of the time you're going to phone them, and inform that that you’ve just gotten married and request a change of name form sent to you. They might simply be able to assist you over the phone. Then you'll probably just have to fax or email a copy of your marriage certificate. When it comes to your employer you only have to inform the Human Resources Department of this change. 8. Always remember to carry a copy of your marriage certificate with you at all times, since for a short period of time your credit cards and I.D. won't match. It doesn't have to be a notarized copy but a Xeroxed is sufficient. Simply fold it up and slip it into your purse. If any problems arise such as being pulled over while driving, you'll have to show the officer your marriage certificate. This is because your I.D. won't match yet, and you don't want him to confiscate your driver's license because of the name difference. 9. Contact your medical and legal personnel, utilities and insurance companies. You will most likely need to fill out a simple "Change of Name" form and produce a copy of your
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marriage certificate. 10. To change the name on your frequent flier miles you will need to show a copy of your marriage certificate and need to file a notarized letter. In addition you probably will have to show them a new copy of your driver's license. You will probably have to wait until you get that new license in the mail. When it comes to changing your name on subscriptions, simply change it when the renewal form comes. You don't immediately have to inform them of your name change. They will send you a form in the mail if you request one. And at the end of step ten every aspect of your life will recognize your new married name.

THANK YOU NOTES
A very important rule of etiquette is to always send a thank you note within six weeks of receiving a gift. Guests have up to a year from your wedding date to send you a gift. Even if they don't bring one to your wedding, which in itself constitutes poor etiquette, they do have a year’s grace to send you that gift. When you receive the gift, no matter if it's the day of your wedding or eleven months and twenty-nine days later, within six weeks you need to send out a thank you note. The thank you note should always be personalized. It should be handwritten and not preprinted messages. I know the big thing now is to send a picture with a preprinted message at the bottom of the picture, then simply placing it in a stamped envelope and sending it on it's merry way. Sorry, that's not proper etiquette and it's also not appreciative. It doesn't show your appreciation for the gift or the person's presence at your wedding. Always remember to include a handwritten
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personalized message. The ideal thank you message should include the following: ● There should be a greeting with a personal message maybe including a inside joke pertaining to your wedding day. If they didn't attend your wedding but sent you a gift anyway, note why they weren't at your wedding. Usually they'll tell you that something unexpected came up. ● When thanking them inject the actual name of the gift into your thank you note, whether it be a blender or a monetary gift. If it is a monetary gift let them know what your using their money for. It makes the gift giver feel better to know that their monetary gift is going towards some kind of necessity. Even if you're not planning to use the money towards anything in particular, pick out something that you might one day use it for, and relay that to them in the thank you message. ● Finally you have the closing.

Let me now give you an example of a thank you note:

Dear Aunt Susan & Uncle Thomas, It was such a pleasure having you attend our wedding, and we hope you had a great time. (Right there is your greeting and your personalized message. Next will come your inside joke or message.) We are still laughing over Uncle Thomas' joke. (There, that was clear and to the point. You could also have mentioned about how beautiful Aunt Susan's dress was or how great it was to see them, etc. Then thank them for their specific gift.) We sincerely want to thank you for your very generous gift. (Never mention if it was a check or cash with reference to a monetary gift.) We will be using it towards the down payment on our new home, which we hope you'll visit often. (Make sure to mention what you’re using the money towards. You could even say you used it towards your honeymoon and had a great time. And then the closing.) With love, Cathy and your new nephew-in-law David

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The thank you note was personalized and to the point. It made them feel special since you took the time to write specifically to them. This personalization should be carried through with all your thank you notes. You're going to have many thank you notes to write, so space them out and maybe do a few a night. Have your fiancé help you even if it's simply with addressing the envelopes. You should hold on to them until all the thank you notes are finished, therefore, they can all be mailed together.

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