Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wedding Programs: why have them, what to include, and where to put them

Wedding Programs are becoming increasingly popular at today's weddings.  Programs are certainly not a wedding necessity, but they add a nice touch.  They inform the guests of what to expect throughout the day and also serve as a keepsake.  You can have program attendants or ushers hand out the programs to your guests.  Alternatively, you can simply place the programs in decorative baskets for guests to pick up as they enter the ceremony.  Here are some examples and ideas of what to include in your wedding programs.

When and Where ~ The front of the program typically has the names of the bride and groom, the date, time, and location of the wedding.

Participants ~ On the inside of the program, recognize all of the participants in your wedding.  List parents, grandparents, everyone in the wedding party, guestbook/program attendants, readers, and the officiant.

Ceremony & Traditions ~ It is also common to provide the order of the ceremony within the program.  I recommend including explanations of any religious or ethnic customs that you'll be performing.  Your guests may be unfamiliar with the traditions and will feel more connected if they understand what is going on during the ceremony.  For example, at a Jewish wedding, you could include a short paragraph about the symbolism of having the ceremony under the chuppah and breaking the glass.

Memoriam ~ If there are deceased family members whom you would like to recognize, acknowledge them within the program with some thoughtful words.

Special Instructions ~ Provide any information your guests may need to know about the wedding day in the program.  For example, if they will be blowing bubbles as the newlyweds walk back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, put a note in the program.  Or, if it's not intuitive where the guests will go next after the ceremony, let them know in the program.

Poems, Songs, & Writings ~ Some programs include a poem or other writing that is special to the couple. 

Message from the Bride & Groom ~ Give your program a personal touch by including a message to your guests from the bride and groom.  Thanking your friends and family for sharing in your big day will make them feel welcome and show them how much you appreciate them.

Photo by Caroline Eller LLC

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Tip: Guests with Gifts

While it's exciting to see a gift table at a wedding laden with large wrapped boxes for the newlyweds, it can be a problem when guests bring their gifts to the wedding.  Why?  After the wedding, it's usually the parents who are left struggling to fit cumbersome boxes into their cars to take them home for the bride and groom.  The proper etiquette is for guests to send wedding gifts to the couple before the wedding or not long after the wedding.  Since most registries are now online, it should be no problem to order the gift and have it sent directly from the store.  And when the store ships the gift directly, you are not responsible for packing it up, which means if the gift breaks in transit, the store will likely replace it.  Be a savvy guest and remember it's not just about giving a gift but when you give it. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Timing is Everything!

As you approach your big day, it is helpful to create a timeline of events for wedding day.  Your vendors will likely ask for your timeline, especially if you have a band or DJ serving as the emcee for the reception.  If you have a wedding coordinator, she can help you create your wedding day timeline and will be there on wedding day to make sure everything stays on schedule.  Basically, you'll want to lay out all the little mini-events of the day on a schedule, starting with what time your hair and makeup will start and ending with what time you'll make your grand exit from the reception.  You'll include everything from when photos begin, to what time you'll do your first dance, to when you'll cut the cake and toss your bouquet.  To get you started, here are some general timing guidelines.
  • Try to get some formal photos done before the ceremony.  Even if the groom won't see the bride before the wedding, the photographer can go ahead and take individual shots of the bride and groom, shots of the bride with her bridesmaids, the groom with his groomsmen, the bride with her family and the groom with his family.  Then, after the ceremony, you'll have less formal shots to get through as your guests await.
  • Ceremonies usually last about 30 to 40 minutes.  If you're having a full mass for a Catholic or a Greek Orthodox wedding, leave about one hour for the ceremony.
  • Following the ceremony, consider having a cocktail hour.  The cocktail hour gives your guests something to do while you finish taking photos. At Jewish weddings, you'll also use a portion of this time for the yichud, where the bride and groom will spend 8 to 15 minutes alone with each other after the ceremony.
  • Don't forget to factor in a few minutes to bustle your gown!
  • The timing for the reception can vary. The typical reception length for dinner and dancing is about four hours. Consider switching around the usual order of events.  Instead of waiting until after dinner for your first dance, you could go right into your first dance as you make your grand entrance into the reception.  Want to leave more time for dancing the night away? You can save time by doing the toasts at the rehearsal dinner instead of the wedding reception. The cake cutting can be done immediately after dinner and served as dessert or it can wait until about an hour before the end of the reception.  Any special dances, such as the father/daughter dance or mother/son dance typically happen after dinner to open up the dance floor to the guests.  The bouquet toss and garter toss should occur after the cake cutting, not long before the bride and groom are ready to depart.  The bouquet toss can even be done as the bride and groom are making their grand exit.
Making a wedding day timeline will help to ensure there is smooth sailing on your Big Day!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sometimes Less is More When it Comes to Decor

I handled the day-of-coordination for a beautiful wedding at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago that was the perfect example of how sometimes less really is more.  Because the hotel's architecture and decor is so ornate, there was no need for tons of fancy floral arrangements.  The bride chose elegant tall and low centerpieces made of white hydrangea by Ashland Addison Florist, and their simplicity allowed the venue to shine.  As you can see from these gorgeous photos by Wedding Creativo, the white centerpieces blend nicely with the golds and blacks of the venue.

Part of the point in picking a historic venue, like the Knickerbocker Hotel, is to highlight its unique features.  If there is too much going on with wedding decorations, the venue's magnificence can get lost, and your guests' heads will be spinning.  This wedding truly illustrates that if you have a unique or lavish venue, you can go with simpler flowers and decorations so that your wedding decor complements the surroundings.