Monday, February 27, 2017

WEDDING NOTES™ - To Gift or Not to Gift

When do I need to send a gift?  What guidelines can I use?  Our brides ask us lots of questions and these are some we hear frequently.  There are lots of activities surrounding a wedding and questions for those events.

Engagement Parties:  There is no gift required.  Friends and families may give presents if they choose, but guests may find the announcement a surprise and come without a gift.  Since not everyone will bring a gift, the ones that come should be opened after - not during the party.

Bachelorette Parties:  No gift required.  Female attendants and close friends usually chip in to cover the bride's expenses for the fun night out.  If you have been invited to one, be sure to ask the hostess how much attendees might be expected to contribute.

Bridal Showers:  Gift required if you attend.  No gift is expected or required if you do not attend, although sometimes a gift is sent along with a friend who is attending.  When in doubt, send the gift ahead of time to the hostess of the shower.  She will then present it to the bride at the event.  If the invitation does not indicate a shower theme, ask the hostess when you R.S.V.P.  In all cases, spend less on a shower gift than you would on a wedding gift.

Weddings:  Gift required for sure if you attend.  If you do not attend, the question of whether to gift or not depends.  This is the usual solution:  if you are friends with the couple it is appropriate to give a modest gift when you decline the invitation.  If you are attending or have decided to send a gift even though you've declined the invitation, plan to send it to the bride or groom ahead of the wedding so that they don't have to lug it home from the reception.  Base your spending decisions on how well you know the couple and on local customs.

Second Weddings:  No gift required - especially if you went to the first wedding of the bride or groom and gave a gift then.  Close friends and family members may gift the couple.  However, most couples in second weddings will make it known that they prefer no gifts.  They may include that message on the informal party or reception invitations that are sent to guests following a small family-only ceremony.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WEDDING NOTES™ - Busy Brides

You are working hard at your new and demanding job(s).  You are paying off student loans.  You work out at the gym.  You have an apartment to clean and a group of friends you like to spend time with.  And oh yes - You are engaged and planning a wedding.  Your busy life just went into overdrive!  Congratulations are certainly in order, but so is some excellent advice.  Interview candidates and hire a wedding planner!  That decision will pay off in huge rewards.  The help you receive from a professional consultant will be invaluable.  The advice and assistance will leave you free to enjoy being a bride-to-be.

Most professional wedding planners offer a variety of programs designed to fit your needs.  Many of them specialize in full service planning which handles booking sites, arranging details with the photographer, florist, musicians, caterers and providing hands on supervision for the wedding day itself.  Other planners may specialize in a particular area and/or may be available for day of coordination.  Think about what you need or want to have done and then interview potential consultants to provide the services you need.  Their help can leave you free to enjoy this incredible time of your life.

The cost of services can vary on the region as well as level of services required.  However, know that the
fees you pay to a wedding consultant/planner are likely to be offset by the time and money you save by hiring a professional to assist you.  You'll want to hire one who comes highly recommended.  You'll want to find a consultant with whom you'll feel comfortable, one who has experience and will not hesitate to provide client references for you.  Know that the Certified Wedding Specialists trained and certified by Weddings Beautiful Worldwide bring you both experience and expertise.  You'll find them a pleasure to work with and eager to share creative ideas with you that will result in the wedding of your dreams.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

WEDDING NOTES™ - Photos are Forever

I remember a group of brides being interviewed at a huge Bridal Fashion show event that I worked.  The interviewer obviously guided the questions and made sure that all brides got a chance to speak.  But I've never forgotten the answer they gave to the interviewer's question - "If there was a fire in your house or apartment, what would be one of the most important things you could save?" Many said their spouse and/or a beloved pet, but a significant number of them said "Our Wedding Pictures".

This reinforces the view that photographs are forever and that long after the ceremony and reception, you have memories AND you have your wedding photos.  That makes choosing the best you can afford an important piece of your planning.  It is critical that you  select your photographer and videographer with great care.   You need to look at their work and talk with them about how they plan to shoot your ceremony.  Get referrals.  Wedding photos are a highly personal look at the beginning of your new lives together so it is essential that you feel comfortable with your photographer.  Make sure that your officiant is comfortable with the photographer's plan.  If he/she has any restrictions be sure you know what they are well before the actual day .

 Be plain about what kind of photos you want, and provide the photographer with a list of "must have" people to include.  Offer to provide an assistant who will work with guests to make sure that those people on your must list are available when the photographer is ready to shoot their photos.  The person who managed your guest book might be an ideal choice for this job - or someone from the groom's family who can round up the "must haves" on the groom's photo list.

Other photo options are available:

You may want to have a video playing during the reception which captures the "essence" of the couple themselves.  A collage of family photos and a record of the courtship transferred to a video tape or disc along with the music that matters to the couple could be playing early in the reception.  Some couples record a video message to their guests that can play during cocktails or early in the reception.  Maybe the videographer could also tape interviews with guests that could be included in the final product he/she provides.

Because the photographic record of your special day is so important pay serious attention to every aspect of this segment.  Hire the best you can afford because after the food is gone, the flowers have dried up and daily life goes on, this photographic record of this wonderful event will be with you.  May you never have to rush into a burning building to save them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WEDDING NOTES™ - It's Entertainment!

A bride's wedding video made Yahoo this week!  Not content with the traditional father/daughter dance at the reception, the bride and her dad presented a fully choreographed 20 minutes duet that set the bar a little higher for brides looking for ways to make their reception an event to remember.  That may not be your choice - nor would most dads want to work with a professional dancer for months before the ceremony practicing like they were auditioning for Dancing with the Stars.  But this performance did highlight the changing nature of wedding receptions.

For many brides, there is the ceremony, followed by a reception with cake, a photographer who snaps photos and the couple drives off in a decorated car.  And it is a very nice day that they will remember always.  For a growing number of brides, the wedding is an opportunity to celebrate by creating guest memories that will last forever.  The focus in the ceremony is on the couple.  The focus in the reception is on the guest experience.  It is the way the bride and groom say thank you to friends and family for being there to witness their marriage.  The reward is a great party with entertainment, wonderful food and beverages, and music for dancing.

If your wedding has a strong cultural theme, consider hiring ethnic entertainers for the cocktail hour.  If you are Scottish and the groomsmen are wearing kilts, having a bagpiper pipe you into the reception seems ideal.  An Irish dance troupe can entertain your guests before dinner.  During dinner, light music from a string quartet may be in order.  Photo booths and caricaturists provide guests with plenty of diversion.  Hiring professional dancers to teach guests to do a particular routine may be ideal for some gatherings.  Magicians can also add an interesting element of surprise at your reception.

Your wedding is among the biggest parties you'll ever host.  Make it memorable.  Make it uniquely yours.  Make it THE GUEST EXPERIENCE that they will talk about for years.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WEDDING NOTES™ - Ceremonial Music

Music sets the tone and atmosphere of an event.  The right music can pull your wedding plans together while the "wrong" music can offset any plans you may have made.  Take the time to select the right music and the right venue.  A formal evening wedding sets expectations for the music chosen, just as an informal beach wedding is best carried off with music that matches the surroundings.  Seek out the advice of experts, audition musical groups and have a good sense of the mood you want to create for your wedding.  Audition professionals who will have a real impact on your ceremony.

Before you fall in love with a "must have" play list, be sure to check with the church or synagogue where your ceremony is to be held to learn of their requirements.  If there are restrictions - you must follow them.  If there are few, here are some guidelines that will be helpful as you plan this part of the ceremony.

*Music should begin about 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.  This introductory music is usually instrumental and designed to set the mood for the ceremony to follow. If you have planned a solo, it is customary for it to be sung just after the mother of the bride is seated.  That is a signal to the guests that the professional is soon to begin.

*The processional is usually an instrumental that has a good beat to walk to.  Once the attendants have all reached the altar, the music "changes" and announces the bride's entrance and her walk down the aisle to the altar.  The music chosen can be traditional or more contemporary depending on personal taste but try not to make a drastic change of mood or tone.  It is usually an instrumental.

*One or two songs may be played or sung during the ceremony.  More than that is considered too much.  Again, they should reflect the tone of the ceremony.

*Recessional music is likely to be more upbeat as the wedding party exits. The bride and groom and the attendants should be smiling as they walk back down the aisle.
It is likely that you will want live music for the ceremony but pre recorded music may be used in some places.

If you don't know what music you want, consult an expert, chat with the musicians you've chosen or go online to sites which list music ideas.