Category: Guest Blogger
Guest Post by: Rachel Mueller-Lust, Wondrance Weddings
If you have always wondered why weddings have a familiar feel even when they are very unique, here is the inside scoop on how wedding ceremonies are structured and designed.
If you are anything like me, you have probably watched a gazillion movies with a wedding scene. Have you ever noticed how they all feel very familiar, even if the actual words aren’t the standard, “I take you to be my wedded husband…‘til death do us part?” Why is that? What makes all weddings alike?
Photo: Simi Rabinowitz Photography
Well, there is a rhyme and a reason to how weddings are arranged. A wedding is a rite of passage—the passage from being single to being coupled, and rites of passage of all kinds—baptism or baby welcoming, coming of age or funeral—have an organizing principal to their design. Their structure has a rich history but at their core all ceremonies tell a story. A wedding ceremony is also a performance, kind of like a play. There is a stage (an altar or NYC skyline), script (the ceremony words), players (bride, groom, attendants) and audience (the guests!). Just like a story or play, all weddings have a beginning, middle and end.
Photo: Jenna Walcott Photography
In weddings, the story begins with your separation from your family and who you were before marriage. Often a bride and groom are walked down the aisle by their parents and “giving you away” is a ritualized way for them to send you off to your future life. Sure, you might not really be moving out of your parents’ home, but from a ritualistic perspective the first section of the ceremony symbolically reflects that departure. It is a lovely way to honor your parents who have contributed so much to get you to this point in life.
Photo: The Well-Dressed Snapshot Newman
The middle of the wedding story is where most of the ritual action takes place. Rituals are a way to emotionally, visually and verbally portray the changes that occur when two people get hitched. The couple must state their intention to marry before an officiant with legal authority in the presence of witnesses. Your “statement” of your intentions can be any combination of words or actions. So, although you may have often heard the traditional vow, “I do!” that wording is not required. You can write your own vows, use a “repeat after me” format, or substitute actions for words, using a unity ritual.
There are lots of different ways to show that bonding: hand fasting (the origin of the expression, “tying the knot”), a sand or candle-lighting ceremony or one of many cultural rituals such as Indian Seven Steps, Native American blanket, Japanese Sake, Greek Crowning or Hawaiian Lei exchange, to name a few. Any of these beautiful and meaningful rituals signify that you and your loved one are connected for eternity.
Photo: Simi Rabinowitz Photography
The finale of your wedding is when the Officiant declares you married and bids you to kiss. So, why is a wedding sealed with a kiss? This symbolic gesture solidifies your matrimonial vows and marks the first time that you are kissing as newlyweds. Although it is the end of your wedding story, it is the beginning of your wedded life. What better way to start your loving marriage?
Rachel Mueller-Lust of Wondrance Weddings is a Wedding Officiant and Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® who designs and performs custom ceremonies with love, beauty and presence. She is also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach™ who provides tools and support to brides to make their wedding planning experience more joyful and less stressful.
Guest Post by: Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events by Jennifer
Photo: Alex Studio
It isn’t easy planning a wedding, especially when you’ve never ordered a cake for 250 people or booked a cover band. Many couples do not have a lot of extra time to call vendors and shop around for the best deals. Desperate for help managing all of the logistics and costs – and hoping to save a little energy for their honeymoon – many couples are deciding to hire a wedding planner. What used to be a luxury service only celebrities and elite couples could afford is now becoming the norm for the more than two million couples expected to tie the knot in 2013.
Avoid costly mistakes: Survival tips for do-it-yourself brides and grooms
According to The Wedding Report the average cost for a wedding is around $25,000. There is a growing number of couples who try to keep costs down by planning their own weddings. But if you haven’t planned a wedding before, you can make costly mistakes.
Here are three of the biggest I’ve seen couples make and my tips for DIY wedding planning:
1. Not being organized: This is where I see people wasting the most money and time. Paying attention to the details up front is the secret to having your wedding go smoothly. Your planning will pay off in peace of mind – and pocketbook.
2. Don’t minimize memories: One of the biggest mistakes I see couples making is cutting back on the things that matter most, like photographs. I always tell my clients to think about what their priorities are; you don’t want to scrimp on making memories. If you want a great photographer, but they are out of your budget, hire them for the hours you can afford.
3. Not asking before the big day: Even though people have access to the internet these days, I still find that everyone from the groom, to the Maid of Honor, to the mother of the ring bearer has questions. This can result in painful and costly mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask a professional. Wedding planners across the country provide many different offering for all kinds of budgets.
Jennifer Taylor’s love for wedding planning became apparent as she was naturally drawn to help her friends plan their weddings. In 2004, Taylor’d Events by Jennifer was born and she’s been busy planning and translating her client’s vision of the perfect wedding day into reality. Jennifer has been named Top Planner in Seattle and has been named one of the Top 100 in the United States and Top 100 Worldwide by the Wedding Industry Experts. Her exquisite work has also earned her the Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award for four years running and Best Day of Wedding Coordinator in 2010. And in 2011, she was in the Top 3 of the same category.
Guest Post by: Alene Gamel, I Do, I Do! Wedding Planning
As a wedding planner, I get all kinds of questions from brides, their moms, and even a few grooms! The one issue that usually comes up right away is concerning what the mothers of the bride and groom should wear.
Throughout my career I have heard from many moms that the bride wanted the mothers to wear matching colors and dresses, or even worse, match the bridesmaids. One mother of the bride told me that her daughter insisted that everyone (moms and bridesmaids) wear the same color because she didn’t want a rainbow of hues in her wedding pictures.
For those of you that like this idea, let’s talk! To be honest, I advise different styles and colors for moms. Just think of the confusion as guests will not be able to keep up with who is a mom, who is a bridesmaid, and, if there are several moms and step -moms, it could get really crazy. Not to mention look pretty boring.
The bride’s mom is not going to be the star, but she really is going to be out front in photos, acting as a host, greeting guests, etc. And, we want mom to be happy and comfortable as she moves through the day. I am in total agreement though, that there should not be a rainbow of colors, as it can take the focus off the bride, and after all, it is about the bride, right?
So, what’s a bride to do? My suggestion is to let moms choose their own dresses under the bride’s guidance and approval. Regardless of place, time or formality, the bridesmaids are expected to look very similar, but moms should show a little personality.
According to tradition, the MOB gets to choose her dress before the groom’s mother. Then Groom’s mother can pick her dress in a similar style and coordinating color. I think it looks best to have the same basic style. When I say basic style, I am not suggesting matching dresses.
But, whatever bride’s mom picks; whether it is long and simple or a short cocktail dress, all of the moms should generally follow suit.
Now, lets talk about color. I like to use complimentary colors that blend with the overall theme. Imagine your wedding color palette is dramatic with gold, hot pink, and black. If bridesmaids are wearing black and carrying pink bouquets, I suggest moms each pick a separate shade of hot pink, red, or champagne. What if your wedding is all white and cream with your bridesmaids in soft grey? Moms could wear different soft pastel shades.
Do you see the pattern here? If wedding colors are soft, moms wear soft colors as well. If they are bold, moms can wear bold colors. Even though the shades will be different, they can all work together. Whether moms pick cocktail, long, simple, or elegant, they can add another layer of beauty to your wedding day without looking alike!
As a Master Bridal Consultant based in Alabama, Alene’s expertise ranges from upscale weddings at exclusive destinations to cutting-edge artistic events. Organized, creative, enthusiastic, and always diplomatic, she brings unwavering support and wisdom to every one of the clients on her selective roster.
Guest Post by Sandy Malone, Weddings in Vieques
Planning a wedding on a budget isn’t rocket science. It requires discipline and some hard decision-making, but if you have your priorities in order going into it, you’ll find that you can craft an event to suit just about any budget if you start with a REALISTIC budget goal and choose your largest and most important items first.
I try to have every client plan their wedding with me in a specific order so they know how much the important stuff in going to cost, giving them a realistic idea of their spending before they make decisions about the little stuff that’s really optional.
Here are the 10 steps to budgeting your wedding, in the order you need to make those financial commitments:
1. Hire a wedding planner – Probably the smartest move you can make from Day One. A big benefit of using a local planner at your destination (like me on Vieques or Culebra islands) is that you get all sorts of unexpected discounts. For example, many of the villas I prefer to offer my clients will drop the event fee (or lower it significantly) for my clients. You’re always sure to get better deals working with a local then trying to cold-call all the vendors yourselves.
2. Choose a venue – This is a big number for couples who want a fancy, modern South Beachy chic waterfront villa for their wedding. Depending on the selection you make, this can be a chunk of your budget. You always have the option of a small boutique hotel or restaurant venue, or even a beach reception if the villa route is too financially intimidating. But whatever you’re going to do, make this decision first as it will impact all your other planning decisions.
3. Choose all the food and beverages for your reception, including your cake – This stuff isn’t optional. You have to feed and water your guests. Your catering options are limited only by the venue you have selected and in most cases, the venue doesn’t care how much you spend. It’s up to you to choose a menu that works within the confines of your budget.
4. Entertainment – Whether you want a different genre of music for cocktails (a jazz duo, or an acoustic guitar trio playing Puerto Rican love songs maybe?), and a DJ or a band for the remainder, these are numbers you can plug into your budget early. As a general rule, a band is a least twice as expensive as a DJ. If live music is important to you, you should account for it in your budget early.
5. Photography/Videography – What you spend on photography and videography can be a vast spread, from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on whether you’re importing your photographer from someplace other than where you’re getting married. It’s usually a significant number and it’s something that you have to have.
6. Catering for other events (beach parties, rehearsal dinner and last, welcome party) – Welcome parties, farewell brunches, day of luncheons and other such events are all optional and arbitrary – if you can afford to do them, that’s great! But your weekend won’t necessarily be less sensational without those additional bells and whistles. Lots of my clients schedule “welcome gatherings” rather than parties, meaning that they’re all meeting up at a bar or restaurant BUT this event is not on the bride and groom’s tab.
7. Rentals and Décor/Setup and Teardown Fees – Some of these items are dictated by the venue that you choose. For example, you may have to have tents at certain venues because there isn’t enough indoor space for all of your guests if the weather turns bad. How much decorating you decide to do will determine how much your setup and teardown fees will run you – what goes up must come down, and must be cleaned up the morning after your wedding.
8. Flowers – You predetermine your fate with the size of your wedding party, to some degree. If you have five bridesmaids, you’re going to need six bouquets (including you), mom flowers, flower girl flowers and maybe some stuff for the guys. Centerpieces using candles and vases are a lot less expensive than flowers, and there are ways to use small amount of flowers that won’t totally bust your budget (blossoms tied to napkins, etc.).
9. Beauty appointments – if you’re not bringing your own hairdresser, it’s worth the investment to have somebody who knows which products to use do your hair and makeup so you don’t turn into a big slimy frizzball during your wedding ceremony (yep, it happens). You don’t necessarily have to treat your whole wedding party for beauty appointments if you let them know they have the option to book them, but whatever you’re obligating yourself to should be put into your master budget spreadsheet.
10. Gratuities – most of us have worked in the service industry at some point and few of us want to screw the service staff, but sometimes it’s hard to swallow a big number when everything else has already been planned. Before you start spending the “extra” money on welcome bag goodies, reception favors, and other stuff you could live without, make sure you’ve set aside whatever your planner tells you is standard and customary for the area where you’re getting married.
| Owner, Weddings in Vieques
Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a Caribbean destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island. A former Wall Street Journal
reporter and public affairs expert, Sandy has executed more than 400 destination weddings on Vieques and Culebra islands, and writes a wedding planning column for the Huffington Post.
Guest Post By: Jennifer Hartman, Heart 2 Heart Occasions
There is a phenomenom among mothers called the perfect mom syndrome (ie: the mom that tries to take on the world, but suffers in silence). We all know it exists but we never ever discuss it. And I have seen this illness in many brides over the last several years. It happens when a bride works, volunteers, runs a house, all while being the perfect best friend to at least a dozen or so gals. And yet, refuses to ask forhelp, and pressures herself to plan and execute the perfect wedding. Leaving everyone to wonder “how does she do it”?
Very rarely does she do it easily and without consequence. With today’s fragile economic status, couples are feeling the pinch and are trying to take on many of the details themselves. Doing their own favors, centerpieces, place cards, invitations, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these can all be great ways to save money… if you have help. Planning a wedding can often seem like a “do-able” task, until you attempt it. Actually, that could be said for a lot of things in life!
Read Full Article
Guest Post By Rachael Zebrowski, Vintage&Lace, Wedding Planner
One of the best pieces of wedding planning advice I received shortly after my engagement came from a newly wed friend who said, “Negotiate! Negotiate! Negotiate!”
From my friend’s insight, I soon learned that one of the best-kept secrets in the wedding industry is the incredible willingness of most vendors to negotiate a trade.
Many couples on a tight budget take one look at the price of a venue and write it off as out of their range. However, if you get creative, there are ways to craft a better deal.
Instead of just asking for a discounted rate, ask yourself what you have to offer that might be of value. For example, my husband and I chose a brand new wedding venue to host our reception. Knowing that the venue would need photos for their marketing material, we offered them the use of our wedding photos in exchange for waiving the Event Use Fee. Recognizing the offer as a win-win for both parties, the venue took the deal. They received loads of professional photographs to use in their marketing campaign while we saved $2,000 (which we then used to hire a top-notch photographer)!
Read Full Article
It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Right. As a result of the brief and still unchartered history of same sex marriage, gay and lesbian couples have the luxury (often born through hardship) of designing their ceremonies as a reflection of their relationships rather than as a reflection of legal, societal or familial expectations. Though one member of the couple may be more of the organizer, it is often the case that both partners are equally invested in envisioning and creating their wedding, commitment ceremony or civil union together.
But, ask just about any wedding vendor in the mainstream wedding market and they’ll tell you that they spend the majority of their time working with brides or brides and their mothers. There’s hardly a mention of the groom. It is traditionally assumed that the bride has long dreamt of her ideal wedding day and, once she is in engaged, she swings into action, bringing her groom along in her wake.
Read Full Article