All posts by Celebrate JH

Let Them Eat Cake or Pie or?

wedding-cakeAt one time choosing a wedding cake was easy.  You figured many quests were expected, you went to your neighborhood baker, you picked white or chocolate layer (s) and gave the baker the address for delivery and a deposit.  Done.

Today’s couples are busily going to cake tastings, bringing swatches of material to determine the color of the frosting, debating between marzipan and cream frosting, debating about size and shape and then repeating the process for the groom’s cake.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are some cake ordering tips that can save you money.

  • Unless you really want one, don’t order a multi tiered cake.  Instead, order several round single layer cakes.  Place one of them on a tall cake stand and surround it with the other round layers on varying heights.  It provides visual interest for the desert table and costs far less.
  • If you wish to have a tiered wedding cake, order a smaller version and have sheet cakes available for serving to guests.  It will taste exactly the same but cost much less since the time invested in frosting/decorating the sheet cakes is far less.
  • Order one show cake that you can feature in the photo of the cake cutting, but have your baker or caterer, make enough smaller cakes to be the centerpieces at guest tables.
  • Order enough cake for 3/4th of your planned guest count.  Some people will leave before the cake is cut and others just don’t want desert.
  • Let your cake cutters know that you want 2″ slices cut rather than giant hunks of cake.  It is a substantial dessert portion and much more in line with people’s view of dessert.
  • One bride we know chose to serve plates of cookies and biscotti to each table prior to cake cutting.  It gave her and her groom a chance to greet all of the guests and thank them for coming.  Cookies cost less than cake and many people prefer that to cake.  She ordered only a small “show” cake for the photo.
  • You don’t NEED to have a cake table.  Many brides are opting for a dessert table with a variety of offerings.  You can have an ice cream station, pies, cupcakes, cheese cake or even a fountain of chocolate for dipping fruit or pretzels.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Invitations for the Frugal Bride

m-h-weddingYou are planning a beautiful wedding on a budget that you definitely plan to stick to.  You are looking for areas where you can save money but have heard expensive stories about all the things you’ll need to print.  As with all areas of your wedding there are varying prices depending on how much you want to spend.

Here are some workable and valuable tips to consider before you place your printing order.  You can spend big or you can spend modestly.  It depends on your budget and your tastes.  Certainly it is true that the invitation sets the tone for the wedding to follow.  It can indicate degree of formality to expect.

However, there are ways to save money without sacrificing quality.  Here are a few tips that our consultants have gathered.

  • Know that pricing for invitations is usually a la carte.  You’ll pay a base price for invitations and envelopes and virtually everything else costs extra.
  • Whatever paper style you select, plan to buy for the number of households, not the number of guests.  Most of your guests are likely to be couples so you’ll need one invitation per address.  Make that your base order and then order extras in multiples of 25 or 50.
  • When you place your order, round up to the next lot size.  Usually invitations are sold in lots of 25, 50 or 100 and larger lots are generally less expensive than smaller groups.  So if you need 130 invitations, order 150.
  • Plan to order extra envelopes to cover any mistakes in addressing.  They are not “thrown in”.  Your order will include the exact number of envelopes as invitations, so order an extra pack of 25.
  • If money is tight, skip foil lined envelopes.  They look nice but unless you MUST have them, omit.
  • Really look hard and the number of inserts you are ordering.  Unless yours is a very formal wedding (which requires the full complement of inserts), you can get by without some of them.

* Skip the reception card – especially if your ceremony and reception are in the same place.  A nice corner copy will do just fine.

* You may wish to give guests alternative RSVP options.  Rather than print up separate cards, return envelopes (with postage affixed) print a simple card that suggests a RSVP to your wedding website.  If that doesn’t feel right to you, use a postcard for RSVP.  They don’t require an envelope and postage is less.

 

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The Language of Flowers

BouquetFlowers have been a part of wedding celebrations for as long as we have recorded history.  Early Greek and Roman brides wore garlands of fresh herbs or ivy in their hair as a talisman against evil spirits.  They also symbolized fertility and wishes for good fortune to shine on the new couple.

No one is quite sure when garlands evolved into hand held bouquets but from time immemorial flowers have been an integral part of the wedding decor.  Favorite flowers change over the years but over time, certain flowers have assumed a coded identity.  In Victorian times (mid to late 1800s) flowers held messages for those who knew the “code”.  If you’d like your wedding flowers to convey a message, here are some of the meanings attached to common wedding flower choices.

  • Baby’s Breath – innocence and purity
  • Calla Lily – magnificent beauty
  • Carnation – Devotion, women’s love (pink), pure love (white)
  • Daffodil – Regard/respect
  • Daisy – Loyal Love
  • Fern – Magic, fascination
  • Forget-me-not – True Love
  • Gardenia – Secret Love
  • Iris – Passion
  • Ivy – Wedded Love
  • Lily of the Valley – Happiness
  • Orange Blossoms – Eternal love
  • Orchid -Love and beauty
  • Peony – Happy Marriage
  • Rose – Love, beauty, passion and joy

Note:  If you wish to know more about flowers and what they symbolize, check out this web site for victorianbazaar.com   and once in click on flowers.

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Friends and Attendants at your Wedding

Teton Village

Wedding Guests

Selecting your attendants for your wedding can be an easy choice for some but for others, an agony of indecision.  If you are planning a small intimate wedding with only the sister of the bride and the brother of the groom in attendance, it couldn’t be simpler.

If however, your dream is to have all of your close personal friends with you at the altar, there are some issues you may face.  Cost is one!  If the bride wants all of her sorority sisters in the wedding but the groom doesn’t even know that many people he would ask, there’s a potential problem.  Some choices need to be made.

It is very likely you will have to make concessions when finalizing your wedding party.  Keep these ideas in mind as you complete your choices.

  • Before you start naming names, the bride and groom must agree on quantity.  Each of them should have a potential list of candidates for attendants.  Let’s say your list contains 8 names.  If you agree on five attendants each then you each take the top three on each list and slot them in.  Next you alternate choices.  It doesn’t mean one person gets all his or her top choices, but they each get some.
  • Ignore the old formula that said the number of bridesmaids a bride should have was one for every 45-50 guests.  Have as many as you can afford without looking like opposing softball teams at the altar.
  • If you are searching for a way to let someone know how much you’d like her to be a bridesmaid but can’t – make her an honorary attendant.  Ask her to be your personal attendant.  Ask her to handle the guest book and be an official hostess.  Make sure she has a corsage.
  • If you have two best friends and don’t want to decide between them, ask them both to share maid/matron of honor duties.  If your older sister is married and your younger sister is not – you have a matron of honor and a maid of honor.    The married attendant stands next to the bride during the ceremony and manages her train and veil at the altar and holds her flowers.  The maid of honor holds the groom’s ring and any specialized readings, prayers or special ceremonial items.  Both of them would give reception speeches.  Both would receive special attendant gifts.  They can be dressed identically or choose gowns with minor adjustments.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Wedding Guest Replies

rsvpWhen selecting items for one’s paper trousseau, very few brides neglect to order reply cards and envelopes.  These have become “essentials” when attempting to calculate the number of guests to expect at the reception.

However, having sent them out with the invitation package, know that there will always be a number of guests who never bother to reply.  Your choice is to go with some industry average that calculates that up to 10% of invited guests won’t attend and won’t let you know they aren’t coming so you can plan accordingly or you may wish to contact those “silent” guests directly and ask if they are planning to attend.

Some brides elect to make the calls themselves, others involve their mothers in the contacts or the groom’s mother as well. As Martha Stewart says, “Once the R.S.V.P. deadline printed on the reply card is come and gone, you are well within bounds to start reaching out to tardy invitees.”

When you do call, keep the message short and sweet.  Martha suggests these words:  “I wanted to be sure you got our wedding invitation.  I need to get the final numbers to my caterer this week, and we’d love to know whether we’ll be seeing you there.”

We know that some brides-to-be are considering a “B-list” of invited guests.  We don’t condone that practice but know that it happens.  Some advice:  If you are planning to use this approach, we offer these considerations:  Most people will figure out they are “second-tier” guests when the invitation comes to them two weeks before the wedding date.  If you are determined to use a second round of invitations, at least be strategic about it and up the dates when your invitations go out.  Send your first round of invitations out up to 10 weeks in advance and set the R.S.V.P. to at least 5 weeks before the wedding date.  Once regrets start coming in, you can still get a few invitations out to names on the B-List if you are determined to do so.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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The Best Gift

boutonniereThanking those special people in your life who have stood up with you – parents, family and your wedding party attendants – deserve a special thanks for being an important part of your special day.

Knowing that you and your fiance are not the only ones who will look fabulous that day, makes this gift idea so special.  Attendants have their hair done, their makeup done and are looking good.  Why not make this day last for them.  Your parents and the groom’s parents are formally attired.  Dad is in a tuxedo!!!  The men in the bridal party are looking fine. Your gift to each of them?  A professionally done individual photograph taken by your wedding photographer.  Make it a head shot of each person.

Chances are many have never (or at least recently) had a professional head shot photo taken of themselves.  Why not provide them with one on a day they are likely to look wonderful.

Photographers are unlikely to care what they are directed to shoot.  Make arrangements with him/her well in advance of the wedding.  These photos will likely be shot prior to the ceremony.  Advance notice will enable the photographer to plan time and place for the photos (against a plain backdrop- not the church).

You can plan it as a surprise or alert the wedding party in advance.  Your choice.  But gifting people who matter to you with a professionally done formal headshot for passports, ID cards or social-networking pages is a great gift and one to be appreciated.  It is a lovely way to say thank you for being part of our important day.

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Giving Wedding Gifts

2-lace-moon-bird-cagesWith wedding season in full swing, we frequently hear questions about gift giving.  Guests at multiple weddings in a year want to know answers to their questions:  How much should one spend and how should one give it?

Most experts agree on a couple of things:

  1. The closer the guest is to the bride or groom, the more one is expected to give and
  2. Do not give more than you can afford just because of those expectations.

Lots of wedding advice comes from the “cost-of-the-meal” tradition of gift- giving.  This just means that guests give a gift roughly equivalent to what it cost to host them.  But advice from The Knot.com, says “location and cost of the reception should not be the burden of the guest.”  Instead, consider using these guidelines suggested by the website:  “A distant relative of the bride or groom or a co-worker should give $75-$100:  a friend or closer relative should give $100-$125: a closer relative, up to $150.”  That advice includes cash gifts and gift items.

However, having offered those guidelines, there are other elements to consider.  If one has to spend a lot to get to the wedding, spending at the lower level should be considered.  Whenever possible/feasible, purchasing items from the couple’s gift registry sites is best.

If a person has financial obstacles to consider, he/she can offer hand -made gifts or framed photos or make a charitable donation in the name of the bride and groom.

It is important to remember that as a guest, you are invited to witness an important event in the couple’s life and to celebrate that event with them.  There is no obligation to give a gift.  Also, there is no obligation to honor a couple’s request for cash only gifts nor does one have to honor what one couple requested in an enclosure that directed the respondent to “check the box for where you want your cash gift to go – to cover champagne on the plane or in the suite at the hotel or the limo or at dinner”.  One guest faced with those options, decided to “send just a congratulations card.  There is no etiquette today that defines how crass our society has become.”

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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What if the Wedding is Cancelled?

woman-signingNo one wants to ever talk about the possibility of a wedding being canceled, but for a variety of reasons it can – and does – happen.  There are guidelines we can share with brides to handle this difficult time in as pleasant and civil manner as possible.  Everyone involved finds planning a joyful occasion but no one ever plans to cancel or postpone that event.  Our experienced consultants can ease the stress and guide your moves to handle the situation with dispatch.

If a formal wedding is postponed or canceled after the invitations have gone out, all invited guests must be notified as soon as possible.  When time permits, this is best done with printed cards, rush-ordered from your stationer.  Here are some samples:

  • If there has been a death in the family, the card would read:

Mrs. George Franklin Davis
regrets that the death of
Mr. Davis
obliges her to recall the invitations
to the wedding of her daughter
Saturday, the second of April

 

An invitation recalled in this manner just indicates that the wedding will not take place as originally planned.  It may take place as a small family ceremony since a large wedding may be considered inappropriate.  The couple may wear their formal attire but they will usually have honor attendants only.

 

 

  • If a wedding is postponed and a new date is set, new invitations may be sent out with this copy:

 

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas John Smith
announce that the marriage of their daughter
Carolyn Jane
to
Edward Patrick Murphy
has been postponed from
Saturday, the 11th of May
until
Saturday, the 25th of May
at four o’clock
Grace Presbyterian Church
Pleasantville

 

  • If the wedding is canceled, invitations need to be recalled promptly with an engraved or printed card which reads:

Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Benjamin Clark
announce that the marriage of their daughter
Eileen Marie
to
Harold Robert Smith
will not take place.

 

If time is short, invitations may be recalled by personal notes or phone calls.  Notes should be patterned after these formats and signed by the person issuing the invitations.   Phone calls should be made in the name of the bride’s parents.  Reasons other than death or illness in the family are not usually mentioned.

 

  • What do I do with the gifts I have received?

When a wedding is merely postponed, send an announcement to all the guests, keeping the presents you’ve already received.  When a wedding is canceled, however, every gift – even those that have been monogrammed – must go back to the person who sent it.  A note expressing gratitude and explaining that the wedding will not take place should accompany the gift, but you do not need to give a reason for the cancellation.

 

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Marriage: The Legalities to Remember

paper-workAs lovely and personal and exciting this wedding is going to be, the wise couple remembers that it much more.  Your very personal and beautifully planned event is also a civil event in which a new legal entity is created.  There are a number of factors to consider once the bride and the groom are pronounced man and wife.

  • The prenuptial agreement – While it may not be romantic to consider one, there are circumstances in which a contract concerning expectations or property can be very helpful.  These agreements give the couple an opportunity to cover certain circumstances.  For example, it is a second marriage for both and each has children from a former marriage, an agreement might protect the rights of each partner’s children, or the parents of the bride or the groom may be giving the couple a valuable antique.  The family may wish to have this heirloom remain in the family in the event of divorce.  A prenuptial agreement may state how you will handle savings or how household expenses will be shared.  Such agreements should be well thought out and reviewed by a lawyer, signed by both parties plus witnesses and notarized.
  • The marriage license –   Know that each state has its own requirements for blood tests, waiting time and age of consent , so do check with public officials for all the details.
  • The marriage certificate – Following your ceremony, your witnesses and the officiant (and in some states the bride and groom as well) will all sign the civil certificate.  Some couples may include the signing in their ceremony (a Quaker custom).  Your church or synagogue may also issue its own certificate.  Generally your officiant will file your marriage certificate with the proper authorities and you’ll receive a copy some weeks later by mail.
  • Changing your name -Once married the bride can choose to use her husband’s surname, continue to use her maiden name, or combine the two to suit the couple’s choice.  If any change of name is done, you’ll need to record than name change on all legal documents and papers.

Here are a few:

*Driver’s license
*Car Registration
*Passport
*Social Security card
*Insurance Policies
*Will
*Voter Registration card
*Checking Account
*Savings Accounts
*Credit Cards
*Stock Certificates
*Employee I.D. cards
*Post Office

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Wedding Showers

tea-party-cupcake-tableBridal showers have a long tradition.  They are parties with a purpose!  They are given to help the couple outfit their new home or assemble a trousseau.  It is a vestige of the age-old dowry, or wealth which a woman brought to her marriage.  It is generally given by women who are good friends of the bride-to-be, sometimes by a relative or most often by the honor attendant or bridesmaids.  They may be given by relative of the groom’s family and are a nice way for the bride-to-be to meet members of her new family.

While at one time showers were given to help the new couple furnish necessities, today’s showers are given around a variety of themes.

  • Kitchen showers are probably the most popular because of the wide range of items that nearly every couple can use.  One variation on the kitchen theme asks each guest to bring a favorite recipe along with one item needed for its preparation (e.g., a flour sifter with a cake recipe).  Many hostesses sent out uniform recipe cards in advance so they can be assembled in an easy to use box or notebook.
  • For an around-the-clock shower, each guest is assigned an hour of the day and then brings a gift to match along with a note explaining why that gift was chosen.  There are many possibilities:  an alarm clock, coffee mugs, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, a casserole dish for dinner, a bottle of wine for the cocktail hour, comfy slippers for evening lounging.
  • A service shower is perfect for the couple that seems to have everything.  Guests pledge a way to help in the future – a catered dinner for two, an offer to paint the living room of the house they’re redecorating, Saturday morning yard work, a weekend at a guest’s lake cabin.
  • An office shower could be perfect for the woman with a busy career:  a leather-bound weekly planner for the home, engraved stationery, attache’ case, books, gift certificate for a Kindle, a week’s worth of dinners for two prepared, frozen and clearly marked.
  • Women only showers are naturals for lingerie, sewing accessories, closet and/or drawer organizers, gift certificates for beauty salon or masseuse services.
  • Couples showers suggest his-and-her tools for household maintenance, plants, wines/liquors, sporting goods and games.

 

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What Makes a Wedding Semi Formal? Informal?

These are the traditional guidelines for a semiformal wedding.  As with the term formal, knowing the guidelines helps to influence all other planning decisions.  But know also, that many brides combine these guidelines and some use the “menu” approach and take one from column A and one from column B.  Today’s couples are truly more focused on how they want their wedding to look and be remembered.

With that in mind, understand that today’s couples are also focused on creating an event that is unique to them and as such may pick and choose from the traditional guidelines.

 

If you are planning a semi formal wedding, you will likely follow these guidelines.

  • The ceremony will be held in a church, synagogue, private home or outdoors.
  • The reception will be held at a ceremony location, a club, garden, restaurant, hotel or home.
  • There will be fewer than 100 guests
  • Invitations may be printed with traditional or personalized wording.
  • The bride will wear a floor-length or cocktail-length gown with a veil or hat.
  • The groom will wear a tuxedo or suit and tie.  HIs attendants will match.
  • Bride and groom each have between one and three attendants.
  • Bridesmaids wear matching gowns the same length as the bride.
  • Guests wear evening or business dress.
  • Reception meal can be anything from a sit-down dinner to buffet or light refreshments
  • Live music or disc jockey
  • Modest or scaled- down floral arrangements and event design.

If you are planning an informal wedding, the following guidelines will be helpful.

  • Daytime ceremonies held at a home, community center, hotel or in judge’s chambers
  • Fewer than 50 guests
  • Printed or hand-written invitations with personalized wording.
  • The bride will wear a simple gown, suit or cocktail-length dress with no veil or train.
  • The groom will wear a dark business suit and tie.
  • Bride and groom each have one attendant
  • Maid of honor wears a street-length dress and best man wears a suit and tie.
  • Reception usually held at a home, ceremony site, or a restaurant.
  • A simple meal or light refreshments are served.
  • Floral designs are simple and understated.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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What Makes a Wedding Formal?

One of the questions our consultants are frequently asked is “what does it mean that the wedding is formal or not?”  The easy answer is “whatever you want it to mean”.  But that isn’t the answer most brides want.  What follows are the criteria that have long been used to shape and define various weddings and degrees of formality.

FORMAL – These are the traditional guidelines for a formal wedding.

    • The ceremony is held in a church, synagogue, or luxury hotel
    • The reception is held in a luxury hotel, private club or private estate
    • There are 100 or more guests
    • Invitations are engraved with traditional wording
    • The bride wears a floor-length gown with a chapel- length or sweeping train, a veil that is at least fingertip length and gloves (now optional)
    • The groom wears a cutaway (before 6 pm) or white tie and tails (after 6 pm)
    • Bridesmaids wear floor- length gowns

 

  • Male attendants wear matching cutaways or tails.
  • Guests wear formal attire or evening wear
  • The reception features a sit-down dinner
  • There is live entertainment
  • There is elaborate floral and event design
  • There is luxury transportation.

 
Note:  One consultants who specializes in very formal weddings shares this distinction:  “Ultra formal weddings follow the same guidelines as formal weddings, but with a heightened sense of formality and drama…Expect that a very formal wedding would have 200 or more guests, between four and 10 or 12 attendants, and a white tie dress code.  The bride’s gown as well the wedding party’s attire, and the guests’ should reflect this very formal style.”

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Prepare Your Itinerary

It’s hard to believe but it’s finally here!  Your wedding day.   You’ve been knee deep in plans for what seems like months, but you’ve done it right.  You’ve kept flawless notes on all decisions you’ve made.  You’ve checked and double checked vendors, your guest count is in and all systems are go.  The one final thing you really must do is lay out your Wedding Day Itinerary.  Who is doing what, where and when?

Here are some suggestions for creating that itinerary.

  • Begin with the start times you know.  You know when the ceremony is to start and you know when the reception is scheduled.  Plug those times in and work forward and backward as you fill in the schedule.
  • Confirm those set up and start times with each of your vendors.
  • Schedule departure and arrival times for each venue being sure to include estimated travel times.
  • Schedule any pre-ceremony events like hair, makeup and photo sessions.
  • If yours is a formal reception, confirm and review the timing for the formalities planned – the grand entrance, toasts, first dance, cake cutting etc. with the location manager and the music or master of ceremonies you’ve engaged.
  • Double check with the florist on delivery and set up times you’ve arranged.  Make sure they have given you back up phone numbers in case of emergency.
  • Make sure that every vendor has contact names and phone numbers for you, or your parents and/or the reception hosts.
  • Make sure that you have contact names and phone numbers for each and every vendor servicing your wedding.  Note their appointed delivery times and places and entrust this information to your personal attendant, or wedding coordinator.
  • Make sure that the photographer(s) with whom you’ve contracted know where they are to be and at what time.  Get their mobile phone numbers so you can maintain contact with them before and during the events.  Make sure they have a copy of the names of those people you want in family photos.  If the photographer doesn’t have an assistant, ask one of your cousins or close friends to act in that capacity.
  • RELAX – you’ve done your best.  You’ve covered all bases.  Enjoy your day.  It is the first day of the rest of your life together.
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Wedding Gown Questions

The bridal gown is the most important piece of clothing most women will ever purchase.  For some, the task becomes all consuming and can go on for weeks.  Other bride-to-be go to one store whose reputation they know, try on a few different looks and settle on THE DRESS in one visit.  Whatever your shopping style, here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Have a strong sense of the degree of formality you want your wedding to have.  That will drive your gown selection.
  • Plan to start shopping for your wedding gown around 6-8 months in advance of your date.  This should also sufficient time for making your selection, getting it ordered, and arranging for any alterations that may ultimately be required.
  • Order it no later than 6 months before the wedding.  Since it sets the tone of the ceremony, it will be good to have that decision made.  You can then proceed with bridesmaid and mothers gowns.  You’ll have swatches for the florist too.
  • When you go gown shopping wear proper undergarments, shoes in the height you plan to wear and any family heirloom jewelry that is a “must wear” for you.
  • Do not be tempted to invite every woman you know to go gown shopping with you.  Descending on a bridal shop with a dozen of your “near and dear” is a huge mistake.  Take your mom and maybe one good friend whose opinion you value.  This is a personal decision – not a gang vote.  Besides, what bride wants the world to know about her dress before she walks down the aisle in it?
  • Be open to the use of color in wedding gowns.  Ivory tones are spectacular on certain complexions and pale blush or pastel trims can make your gown choice truly unique.
  • Why might I need alterations?  Virtually every gown will require some adjustment to insure a perfect fit.  You may need hem length adjustments or neckline tucks.  Some modest changes can make your gown uniquely yours.  Plan ahead.
  • Work with your consultant.  She knows her merchandise very well and can be a helpful advisor as she shows you various styles and silhouettes.  She knows her business and her business is helping you have the gown you want for your wedding day.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Guys Night Out

We are learning about some alternative ideas for the bachelor party thrown for the groom.

There are stereotyped groom’s parties that we see on TV and in films, but there are alternatives that can be fun for the groom and his friends without the specter of having to claim “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

  • Instead of bar hopping to the same old favorites, why not try an evening exploring tap rooms?

Whole phenomenon of craft beers and their popularity offers an evening of “something new”

and still fun.  Arrange for a limo to drive the group or an absolutely trusted “designated” driver.

The best man can organize the evening of craft beer tastings, spicy nibbles topped off with a late dinner.  Check with tourist information centers in your town for possible tours that are all planned and waiting for the groom and his guests.

  • Many groom’s parties have been built around major league baseball, soccer or football.  But more and more we are seeing groom’s parties built around their own “game” day.  A round of golf is a logical choice, but what about doing miniature golf, followed by an hour or two at batting cages, followed by bowling, brews and supper.
  • Instead of heading to Vegas what about a weekend of fishing or camping closer to home?  Many areas in the country are also close to an Indian owned casino that could arrange a fun evening of dinner and blackjack or slots.
  • A few brides have suggested that instead of separate bachelor and bachelorette parties, that they combine them.  Both groups can play 9 holes of golf or attend a concert or amusement park if there is one close by.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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The Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

The sense of relief and relaxation at the rehearsal dinner helps to make it special.  You’ve been to the church or ceremony venue.  You’ve been “on stage” and all the actors know where they are to stand and what they are to do and when they are to do it.  Your costumes are ready.  You know your lines.  The decorations are due the next day and someone will see to them.  Now it is time to relax and enjoy the good company of family and friends at your rehearsal dinner.  As one consultant terms it, “The rehearsal dinner is the perfect informal foil to the formal wedding day.”

With good food and conversation, some toasts and some surprises, you can have your rehearsal dinner wherever you wish.  Traditionally it was hosted and paid for by the groom’s parents, but as with many wedding related activities, traditions change.

  • The invitation list for the rehearsal dinner includes the “must haves” – the wedding party and their spouses, all parents and the officiant plus his or her spouse.  If your budget allows you may include some “maybes”.  Some couples include out of town wedding guests if the numbers work.  Remember, it is about thanking those who help to make the wedding day special.

 

  • While they aren’t required, assigned seats at the dinner are helpful.  Guests don’t have to wonder where to sit and with whom, and you can assure that everyone feels welcome and relaxed.  It also insures that some guests are not left alone at a table.

 

Here are some budget saving ideas for that informal gathering.

  • Hold the dinner at home instead of a restaurant.
  • Serve a more relaxed menu like pasta instead of a formal meat course like the one planned for the next day at the wedding reception.
  • Serve wine and beer instead of cocktails.
  • Serve home baked desserts instead of the chef prepared goodies being served at the reception.
  • If the dinner is at a home, and the weather is nice, move it outside and think about using paper plates and plastic utensils instead of china and silver.
  • This is a perfect time to give favors to all in attendance.  They should be seen as a way of saying thank you.  Likewise with toasts.  A toast is about caring and it should be shared not just directed at the bride and groom.  A rehearsal dinner is all about saying thank you.

 

One other thought:  You don’t have to have a rehearsal “dinner”.  You can have a rehearsal brunch, or lunch or breakfast.  Organize your rehearsal day any way you wish.  If a morning rehearsal works better for the church, for you and your families and attendants, do it and follow it with a picnic lunch.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Consider a Brunch Wedding

IMG_3846If you have a dream venue for your wedding in mind but find out that it is already booked for your choice of wedding date, consider making a time adjustment and rather than a sit down dinner at 7 PM ask about availability of brunch at 11 AM.

A brunch wedding is perfect for the smaller wedding.  It usually starts at 10 or 11 AM and runs for about four hours as opposed to the typical evening wedding that can go for 6-7 hours.

You’ll pay less for food and for cocktails and if your wedding includes a plane trip to the honeymoon destination, you can easily fit it all in.

Menus are easily planned, the decor /flowers are simpler – no less elegant – just simpler.  Table linens, silver, china, can be chosen with care to reflect your color theme.  Consider the brunch buffet with waffles, custom omelettes, quiche, ham, bacon.   Instead of wedding cake have the caterer construct towers of doughnuts or mini caramel rolls.  Some brides choose French toast sticks with maple syrup.  Consider hors d’oeuvres like mini “pigs in a blanket” or toffee-dipped bacon kabobs.

It is unlikely that you will host an open bar at a brunch but you can do personalized bloody Mary bars or mimosas and champagne.

As one bride said about her brunch wedding – “it’s more about the guests and a lot less pressure”.  Everyone likes breakfast foods, and a daytime celebration can be very special.  For many couples, brunch is the answer.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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An Unforgettable Date

new-yearHere’s an idea that guarantees that no one will ever forget your anniversary.  Plan your wedding for New Year’s Eve!  Think about it!  There are plenty of pluses to consider.  Everyone you know is in the mood for a party – it is almost impossible to get through the holidays without someone or several some ones asking you about your plans for New Year’s Eve.  A wedding invitation takes the pressure of planning off everyone.  Six – nine months ahead of time they know where they’ll be on NYE- Celebrating with you!

Know that it is critical that you book your venue early.  It’s a big party night for most restaurants, hotels etc.  Some places will require booking a year in advance.

When you plan your budget, consider upping your bar allocation.  People will drink more on NYE than they are likely to do at a June wedding.  It is after all the biggest party night of the year.

Plan more food than you normally would.  Plan heavier appetizers for your cocktail hour.  Plan late night snacks like sliders and fries and be sure to send guests home with a small bag of treats or nibbles like doughnut holes, cookies.  Champagne is the order of the day.

It would be ideal to schedule your reception at a hotel and block a group of rooms for guests who don’t want to drive home that night.  For those guests who prefer to head home, arrange for a fleet of cabs to be on call to insure your guests reach home safely.

Since NYE is the “glitzy” night, your decorations will be a no brainer.  Balloons, sparklers, hats and horns will take care of the party’s shine.  Your guests are more likely to dress up for the event.  It is the one night that guests think of wearing something special.

Picking out bridesmaid’s dresses will be easier – glitz, bling and shine should be the theme for each of them

Consider having a different twist on the guest book.  Add a space for guests to write New Year’s resolutions or special wishes for the new couple.

It’s your party, your wedding and your new life together – all reasons to really celebrate.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Wedding Cake Ordering Tips That Save Money

Cookie-Tower

At one time choosing a wedding cake was easy. You figured how many guests were expected, you went to your neighborhood baker, you picked white or chocolate layer (s) and gave the baker the address for delivery and a deposit. Done.

Today’s couples are busy going to cake tastings, bringing swatches of material to determine the color of the frosting, debating between marzipan and cream frosting, debating about size and shape and then repeating the process for the groom’s cake. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are some wedding cake ordering tips that save money.

  • Unless you really want one, don’t order a multi tiered cake. Instead, order several round single layer cakes. Place one of them on a tall cake stand and surround it with the other round layers on varying heights. It provides visual interest for the desert table and costs far less.
  • If you wish to have a tiered wedding cake, order a smaller version and have sheet cakes available for serving to guests. It will taste exactly the same but cost much less since the time invested in frosting/decorating the sheet cakes is far less.
  • Order one show cake that you can feature in the photo of the cake cutting, but have your baker or caterer, make enough smaller cakes to be the centerpieces at guest tables.
  • Order enough cake for 3/4th of your planned guest count. Some people will leave before the cake is cut and others just don’t want desert.
  • Let your cake cutters know that you want 2” slices cut rather than giant hunks of cake. It is a substantial dessert portion and much more in line with people’s view of dessert.
  • One bride we know chose to serve plates of cookies and biscotti to each table prior to cake cutting. It gave her and her groom a chance to greet all of the guests and thank them for coming. Cookies cost less than cake and many people prefer that to cake. She ordered only a small “show” cake for the photo.
  • You don’t NEED to have a cake table. Many brides are opting for a dessert table with a variety of offerings. You can have an ice cream station, pies, cupcakes, cheesecake or even a fountain of chocolate for dipping fruit or pretzels.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Alternatives to Flower Bouquets

Silk Flower Bouquet

Perhaps you have decided that a bouquet of fresh flowers is not your choice to carry in the processional. Not to worry – there are many alternatives to flower bouquets.

If you or your groom has flower triggered allergies, consider silk/artificial floral arrangements. They can be just as lovely as real flowers and won’t leave you red eyed and sniffling. If your talents don’t run to assembling bouquets yourself, you can order them through many craft stores. Or you can abandon flowers all together and consider carrying a bouquet of feathers, which are gorgeous and unusual, or carry strands of crystals, or origami birds.

If you have a special passion for poetry, use that as a theme for your “bouquet” of rolled parchments bearing lines from some of your favorite poems written in ink that matches your color scheme. You might also carry that poetry theme into decorations for the reception.

Or, you could bypass bouquets altogether and carry a fan, a special bible, a small parasol, a rosary or a small clutch handbag. If you are planning on a unity candle in the ceremony, carry a lit candle down the aisle instead of a bouquet and light the unity candle early in the ceremony or place your candle on the altar.

Check your ethnic background for other wedding traditions that you may like to utilize. For example, Irish customs call for the bride to carry a horseshoe for good luck (with the open end up so the luck doesn’t run out).

You’ve seen or maybe received an edible bouquet. Consider a lollipop arrangement in the colors of your wedding.

There is a vendor that will make fabric roses out of vintage fabrics, scarves, even neckties from someone dear to you and arrange them in a lovely bouquet.

Of course, you could elect to carry nothing at all. It is your choice.

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Every Little Detail

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What Your Wedding Flowers Say

What Your Wedding Flowers Say

Flowers have been a part of wedding celebrations for as long as we have recorded history. Early Greek and Roman brides wore garlands of fresh herbs or ivy in their hair as a talisman against evil spirits. They also symbolized fertility and wishes for good fortune to shine on the new couple.

No one is quite sure when garlands evolved into hand held bouquets but from time immemorial flowers have been an integral part of the wedding décor. Favorite flowers change over the years but over time, certain flowers have assumed a coded identity. In Victorian times (mid to late 1800s) flowers held messages for those who knew the “code”. If you’d like your wedding flowers to convey a message, here are some of the meanings attached to common wedding flower choices. Read below to see what your wedding flowers say about your big day.

Baby’s Breath – innocence and purity

Calla Lily – magnificent beauty

Carnation – Devotion, women’s love (pink), pure love (white)

Daffodil – Regard/respect

Daisy – Loyal Love

Fern – Magic, fascination

Forget-me-not – True Love

Gardenia – Secret Love

Iris – Passion

Ivy – Wedded Love

Lily of the Valley – Happiness

Orange Blossoms – Eternal love

Orchid – Love and beauty

Peony – Happy Marriage

Rose – Love, beauty, passion and joy

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Fantastic Invitations on a Budget

Wedding Invitations

 

You are planning a beautiful wedding on a budget that you definitely plan to stick to. You are looking for areas where you can save money but have heard expensive stories about all the things you’ll need to print. As with all areas of your wedding there are varying prices depending on how much you want to spend.

Here are some workable and valuable tips to consider before you place your wedding invitations printing order. You can spend big or you can spend modestly. It depends on your budget and your tastes. Certainly it is true that the invitation sets the tone for the wedding to follow. It can indicate degree of formality to expect.

However, there are ways to save money without sacrificing quality. Here are a few tips that our consultants have gathered.

  • Know that pricing for invitations is usually a la carte. You’ll pay a base price for invitations and envelopes and virtually everything else costs extra.
  • Whatever paper style you select, plan to buy for the number of households, not the number of guests. Most of your guests are likely to be couples so you’ll need one invitation per address. Make that your base order and then order extras in multiples of 25 or 50.
  • When you place your order, round up to the next lot size. Usually invitations are sold in lots of 25, 50, or 100 and larger lots are generally less expensive than smaller groups. So if you need 130 invitations, order 150.
  • Plan to order extra envelopes to cover any mistakes in addressing. They are not “thrown in”. Your order will include the exact number of envelopes as invitations, so order an extra pack of 25.
  • Really look hard at the number of inserts you are ordering. Unless yours is a very formal wedding (which requires the full complement of inserts), you can get by without some of them.
  • Skip the reception card – especially if your ceremony and reception are in the same place. A nice corner copy will do just fine.
  • You may wish to give guests alternative RSVP options. Rather than print up separate cards, return envelopes (with postage affixed) print a simple card that suggests a RSVP to your wedding website. If that doesn’t feel right to you, use a postcard for RSVP. They don’t require an envelope and postage is less.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Wedding Day Photography

wedding partyMost brides consider their wedding photos to be among their most treasured possessions. Long after the big day is over, the photographs taken that day are looked at over and over again. They are a formal record of a momentous day that joined two families and created a new branch. Quite apart from what those photos represent, who doesn’t want a photographic record of a day in which she looked fabulous!

For those reasons, most brides choose not to skimp on wedding photos and hire a professional photographer to capture wonderful still moments, and some a videographer to film the entire ceremony and portions of the reception for posterity.

Some areas you may wish to consider for your wedding day photography checklist are:

  • A formal bridal portrait. In some areas of the country, they have never not been part of the wedding plans. Usually taken either in the photographer’s studio or in some elegant setting. You may choose to have it be of you alone or have a formal portrait of you and your groom. These are scheduled prior to the wedding if possible. Planning to do them the day of can add too much stress to an already packed day.
  • Style of photos to be taken. Work with your photographer to outline – IN ADVANCE – the key shots you want taken. Review the traditional bridal party shots, processional and recessional pix and standards at the reception. If your taste runs to traditional coverage, make sure that you and the photographer agree on the shots. If your taste is for more creative shots that require special lighting or lenses, be sure to discuss these well in advance.
  • Family members to include. Be sure that the photographer (or his/her assistant) has a complete list of family members you wish to include in photographs. You’d hate to have an album full of photos but not one picture of you with your favorite aunt or godmother or Uncle Ralph.
  • The role of digital. Decide early on whether your wedding is to be “plugged in” or not. If you don’t want guests shooting photos of you getting dressed or other “candid” moments, and posting them as they are taken, you need to insist on have the ceremony be “unplugged”. You can have signage posted in the back of the church and/or printed in the programs that asks guests to refrain from taking photos before or during the ceremony. Some couples have created a secure spot and assigned friends to collect iPhones prior to the ceremony. Reception guidelines are far more relaxed. In fact, many couples provide a plugged in station somewhere in the reception area recognizing that photos will be taken whether they want them or not. Have the bridal party spread the word on your behalf.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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Beautiful Bride

Tips For Enjoying Your Wedding Day

As you become totally immersed in the plans for your wedding take some time to think awedding couplebout what really matters on your big day. Try to maintain some perspective on the upcoming event. Here’s what some brides have said after it was all over. Above all make sure to enjoy your wedding day.

  1. I wish I had paid more attention to everything going on around me. I was so focused on the details that I forgot to really notice who was there and to appreciate the fact that they came to help us celebrate this special day in our lives.
  2. I wish I had focused on the reality of what was happening that day. I got married to my best friend! That is huge. In light of that realization, who cares that the caterer forgot to put out my pink printed cocktail napkins and used plain white bar napkins.
  3. I dreamed of and hoped for an absolutely PERFECT day. Some things did go wrong. They weren’t major and only my mom and I knew it. We never mentioned it that day but have laughed about it after. She was wise enough to know that in spite of detailed lists, something would be out of our control. Neither the altar boys nor the ushers thought to light the candles on the altar. Oh well. I didn’t see it until I got to the altar.
  4. I nearly forgot that the most important person at that wedding was my new husband. Sure I was disappointed that some guests were unable to come, but what mattered was that I was there and so was he.
  5. Know that the day will go by quickly. I spent months preparing for this day and when the celebrations came to an end, I couldn’t believe it was all over. I should have known that it would just fly by. If I had it to do over, I’d pay more attention to everything and everyone, and reconsider hiring a wedding planner or coordinator.

Call us at 307-200-9886 or email info@celebratejh.com to discuss ideas.

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outdoor reception

Ways to Manage Your Wedding Budget

receptionYou do have a budget established don’t you? If not – stop right now and seriously work on it.

Establishing a budget and sticking to it will help you organize, produce and deliver a wedding that is beautiful and yours. On the offside chance that you’ve gone over that budget in some area (s) here are some tips from experts on places to trim those costs.

  1. The guest list. The number of people you invite to your wedding will contribute to a major component of expense – the cost per guest measure. It is reflected in the cost of food, beverages, invitations, reception site and postage. One way to control those costs and to stay in your wedding budget is to carefully watch the number of “plus ones” you allow. The basic rule is a simple one: If couples aren’t married, “plus ones” are optional invitees for the bride and groom. The same rule should apply to the bridal party and guests. If a member of the party or a relative has a long term significant other you may wish to make an exception to the rule but it should be done on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Feeding the band. If your dream is to have a band play for your wedding dance in place of recorded music, one place you can save some green is in what to feed the band. Yes, not only will the band members be counting on grabbing a bite to eat before they play or something nourishing between sets – or both. But you don’t need to offer them the same sit down dinner you are serving your guests. Ask your caterer to provide a less expensive (and easier to handle) alternative. If you are holding your reception at a large facility with in house food service, order something from the standard menu to be served to band members before they play and include water/soft drinks for them during their play time.
  3. There is no rule that says you need to have an open bar for guests at your reception. In fact, you can serve only beer, wine and punch or other non alcoholic beverage at your cocktails before dinner. Some couples have a signature cocktail as an additional surprise for guests, but no open bar will save you beaucoup bucks. Remember that it is your reception and if you don’t want alcohol served, that’s fine. You get to decide what you’ll serve. Most experts will agree that having a cash bar is a definite no-no. Guests are guests. That means that they don’t have to pay.
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The Dress

Wedding Gown Shopping Tips

Wedding Dress2Shopping for your wedding gown can be either a wonder filled experience or it can be a dreaded encounter. Your mind set before you begin will make all the difference. Here are some tips from experts that will help make your shopping for THE DRESS easier and satisfying.

  1. Know your wedding budget and how much you allocated for the gown and don’t be tempted to overspend. Establish a realistic budget and communicate that to the consultant who is helping you. There are plenty of beautiful gowns well within the reach of most bride’s finances.
  2. It’s really true that many brides fall in love with the first dress they try on. It isn’t luck. It’s the result of being clear about what you have in mind and communicating that to the consultant who is helping you. She knows her stock and is expert in evaluating a bride’s silhouette so she can select a gown or gowns that are likely to look fabulous on you.
  3. Be aware that alterations are not a bad word. The gowns you try on and love will be close to perfect on you, but some nips or tucks may be necessary for perfect fit. Bodies can change between the date you order your gown and the date you come for your first fitting. A skilled seamstress will make those minor adjustments so that its fit is comfortable and right.
  4. Be selective in inviting friends to shop with you. In spite of what those TV shows indicate, the average bride does not bring a room full of relatives and friends with her to select her gown. In fact, an unedited group will give you a headache and add stress to the event. Very few bridal salons are set up to handle a large group and will gently suggest that when you call for an appointment that you tightly control the number of “guests” who will share your wedding gown shopping experience. The store’s professionals know what they are talking about, so listen.
  5. When you find THE DRESS, stop looking! Too many brides think that if they don’t look at every dress within a 10 mile radius, they haven’t done their job. Sometimes mothers will insist that the bride shop every store in a trading area “just to be sure”. Most consultants will tell you that route will only result in confusion and more stress. You’ve found the dress. It is everything you like. It’s in your budget. You like the consultant and the store. What else is there?
  6. The best plan is to work with an experienced consultant in a well-known independent bridal retail salon. She will have the experience and reputation to help you find the perfect dress and to insure its timely delivery for your wedding. Beware of online shopping for your important wedding gown. The horror stories that brides who bought from a photo from an unknown retailer will scare you. Always shop from someone whose reputation for excellence is well known.
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