Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bride and Groom Gift Giving Guide

Though you're the one getting married, you're not the only one who should receive gifts! There are several people to consider giving gifts to as a thank you for their participation in your wedding.

It has become customary to give gifts to your bridesmaids and groomsmen. For ladies, the gift could be a monogrammed tote bag or earrings they can wear with their bridesmaid dresses.  For gentlemen, an engraved business card holder or a subscription to a beer of the month club are appropriate gifts.  If you have program attendants or additional ushers, don't forget to include them.  The gifts can be given at a bridesmaids luncheon or rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding.

The joy of marriage may be gift enough for the happy bride, but jewelry is an added bonus!  Grooms, get brownie points by surprising your bride with a present before the wedding.  You can't go wrong with a bracelet or earrings that she can wear down the aisle.  Send a groomsmen or your wedding coordinator to the bridal suite on the day of the wedding to give the gift to your bride as she is getting dressed with her bridesmaids.  Not only will you impress the bride, but you'll get on the good side of all her best friends.   

Don't forget about your parents.  Particularly if your parents are helping to pay for the wedding, it is a nice gesture to give them a small token to say thank you.  A gift certificate for a nice restaurant, cuff links for your dad to wear with his tux, or tickets to the symphony are great parent gifts.  Present the gifts to each set of parents privately the day before the wedding.

Give back to your guests.  For out-of-town guests,  put together hospitality bags filled with snacks and tourist info that they will get when they check in to their hotel.  It is quite common to give guests a small memento to take home from the reception as a wedding favor.  Jordan almonds are a traditional wedding favor, but couples are getting creative, sending their guests home with luggage tags, coasters, flower seeds, and photobooth photos. Wedding favors can be displayed all together for guests to take as they leave the reception, or you can put a favor at each place setting.

Use your wedding as a chance to say thank you, not only for help preparing for the Big Day but also for years of friendship of support. A simple gift can convey the message.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where To Sit At Your Own Reception

You'll likely spend quite a bit of time planning where your guests will sit at your wedding reception and getting the seating chart just right.  Though you'll likely be on your feet greeting guests and dancing away during much of the reception, don't forget to think about where you and the groom will sit.  There are several options.

Sweetheart Table: This is a small table just for the bride and groom, usually placed in a central location within the reception room.  It can be quite romantic to see the bride and groom completely focused on each other, at least for the few moments that they may be sitting.  But if you don't want all eyes on you while you eat, the sweetheart table may not be for you. And if you want to get up to greet guests while the groom is sitting enjoying a drink, it can look odd to leave him alone at the table.  If you do opt for a sweetheart table, ask that the chairs be placed so that you'll be sitting next to each other rather than across from each other. You'll want to be able to hold hands and whisper in each other's ears!

Head Table:  The head table is typically a long rectangular table where the bride and groom sit along with the bridal party.  It's a fun option to be surrounded by your bridal party, particularly if they all are friends with each other.  But keep in mind, married bridal party members may prefer to sit with their spouses.  And if your bridesmaids and groomsmen don't already know each other, they may have more fun sitting with their own friends.

Create-a-Table:  If you prefer to sit among your guests, simply create your own table.  You may prefer to create a family table, where you can sit with your parents and siblings. Remember, sitting with the bride and groom at the wedding is an honor.  You could add in your best man and maid of honor, a godmother, or any one else that is particularly special to you. 

When deciding where you'll sit, consider where you'll have the most fun.  Then think about who you want to sit with you and where they will be most comfortable.  So when you finally do take a break from dancing at your reception, you'll sit down to a table filled with those very important people in your life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick Tip: Dress Fittings

Once you find your wedding dress, you'll most likely need a few dress fittings. Be sure to bring your actual wedding shoes and undergarments to each appointment to ensure that you get an accurate fit and dress length.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fresh Take on the Flowerless Bouquet

Somehow flowers have become a wedding staple.  Bridal magazines and TV shows highlight fabulous weddings dripping with fresh flowers.  But there is no rule that you have to utilize flowers in your wedding for it to be fantastic.  Every bride wants her wedding to stand out in some way, so why not go flowerless?  There are some creative companies out there that offer alternatives to the traditional flower bouquets and decor.

This beautiful bouquet from The One Happy Girl is made of felt, beading, and buttons

Etsy is a great place to find artists doing innovative designs for weddings.  This incredible pomander from Whether Paperworks is made from the pages of old National Geographic magazines. 

 I love the idea of making a bouquet out of jewelry.  This bouquet by Valley Flowers and Gifts is made of vintage brooches. 

Just because these alternatives forego fresh flowers, doesn't mean they are less expensive than traditional bouquets.  These bouquets can range from $150 to $450.  But you can always join the ranks of the DIY bride and make a lovely yet unconventional bouquet yourself.  My friend Natasha made her own stunning bouquet out of peacock feathers! 

If you're feeling a little daring, you may find that flowers just don't fit.  But buttons, brooches, paper, felt, fabric, or feathers may be the answer to creating your own unique wedding style.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wedding Fashion Through the Ages

When you're planning a wedding, there are so many places from which to draw inspiration.  That's why I love the exhibit currently showing at the Chicago History Museum -- I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot.  This exhibit reminds us that we can get ideas for today's weddings from history!

The exhibit showcases 45 dresses from the past 150 years while presenting informational tidbits about the women who wore the dresses and wedding traditions from years gone by.  To add to the ambiance, as you walk through the exhibit, standard wedding tunes fill the air varying from "At Last" to "Hava Nagila" to a Lady Gaga hit.

You may envision something akin to a bridal salon with poofy white ball gowns lining the walls.  But to my surprise, upon entering, you are welcomed to the site of pink, green, and even black wedding dresses.  When I was engaged and searching for my wedding dress, I kidded with my now-husband that my dress was green whenever he would search for hints of what the dress looked like.  I never would have guessed that green wedding dresses existed at one time! 

The exhibit explained that Queen Victoria popularized the white wedding dress in 1840 when she wore white for her wedding.  Prior to that, brides wore dresses of any color for their weddings.  Often their wedding attire consisted of the nicest dress that they already owned, or they would select a new dress with the intention of continuing to wear it in the future.  Today's modern bride can learn from these ladies by spicing up their bridal style with some color.  Add a colorful sash or shoes.  Or if you're really daring, choose a pale pink or yellow dress.  It may seem avant-garde, but, in fact, you're following in the footsteps of brides from long ago!

The exhibit also displayed the cutest little outfit for a young boy, reminding me of a wedding role we don't often see today -- page boys.  Traditionally, page boys would carry the bride's train as she walked down the aisle.  If you have (well-behaved) children to include in the wedding, take a cue from historical weddings and consider adding a page boy to your wedding party. 

Chicagoans may be proud to learn that in 1924 Marshall Field's became the first store to offer a wedding registry.  Today, Marshall Field's is a Macy's, which has a convenient and easy-to-use wedding registry, allowing brides and guests to utilize the registry completely online. 

If you've watched Steel Magnolias or Father of the Bride, you may recall that in those movies, after the wedding, the bride changed out of her gown into a more comfortable outfit for her big sendoff.  This second outfit was called the setting out ensemble.  Changing clothes for the grand exit continued to be popular into the 1960s, according to the exhibit. How can you make this tradition modern?  Instead of changing out of your gown for the sendoff, just add a pretty faux fur stole or a lace shrug.  If you like the idea of completely changing into another outfit, try something a little more casual than the suits of yesteryear.  A white sundress captures the wedding feel while still allowing comfort and movement.

I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot is on exhibit at the Chicago History Museum through January 3, 2011.  The museum is free on Mondays.  If you're in the Chicago area, definitely check it out for some wedding inspiration.