Friday, November 22, 2013

Elements of Military Weddings

With Veteran’s Day having passed and Thanksgiving around the corner, we take a look at the traditions of military weddings.  In military weddings, special customs demonstrate the honor of individuals who have served our country.

photo from

Of course, the ring completes every engagement. Midshipmen and cadets may give their fiancées a smaller version of their class ring as an engagement ring, instead of the traditional diamond. 


The main noticeable difference at a military wedding is the attire, with military uniforms replacing tuxedos or suits. The particular uniform can differ depending on the style of wedding, season, and guidelines found in the Government-manual of uniforms. 

The “mess” dress uniform is typical for formal weddings. If the wedding is semi-formal or more casual, service or class-A attire is appropriate.  If any groomsmen serve in a different branch than the groom, they can simply wear their uniforms of comparable formality. If the bride is in the military, she may wear her dress uniform, though most opt for a traditional wedding gown. Family and guests who are active or retired military may also wear uniforms, if they choose.

If the groom and groomsmen are in military dress, then boutonnieres are not used and they simply wear their military decorations.  

Often military couples will get married in a military academy or a chapel on base, though they may opt for their own church, synagogue, or wedding venue.  The chaplain of the base may officiate, since the bride or groom may already have close ties with him, and the chaplain will do the ceremony for free.    
Seating at the ceremony can be slightly different from the typical wedding, as well. Guests who are currently serving or  have served in the past should be seated according to rank.


For music, the couple may opt for regimental compositions or the theme song of the branch for which the bride or groom serves. 


Flags can be placed around the venue to show the couple’s patriotism. Brides can add flowers around the flag to help accentuate the look.

After the ceremony, the bride and groom will leave the sanctuary greeted by guards holding ceremonial weapons.  The newlyweds will usually stop and kiss as they walk through the guards (making for a great photo op!).  Don't be surprised if the bride gets a pat on the butt, as she exits the arch of guards, welcoming her into that branch of service. 

photo from
The cake cutting makes for another fun military tradition. The groom offers his sword to the bride, and they then make the first cut of the cake together holding his sword. That's one oversized cake knife!

photo from
Military weddings are impressive to see, and incorporating military customs into the wedding allows family and guests to share in the pride for the bride or groom who serves, as well as the pride for this country.

*Natalie Gudel contributed to this article.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Planning Weddings from Out-Of-Town

Couples today are constantly on the move! Sometimes that means the newly engaged end up planning out-of-state weddings. Though planning from afar may present some added challenges,  there are steps a bride can take to ensure that the planning goes smoothly. 

Get Planning!
Wedding planning does not have to be stressful. But nothing contributes more to a stressful planning process than a shortage of time, especially when planning from out-of-town. Ideally, leave yourself eight months to a year to plan. Start with numbers. Talk about budget and the size of the guest list with your fiancé. With the numbers out of the way, you can then jump right into finding the perfect venue.

Book a Pro!
Booking a wedding planner in the city where you are getting married can help alleviate some pressure. A wedding planner will already be an expert on venues and vendors in the area and will drastically cut down on your time spent researching options. The wedding planner can do the initial research for you, allowing you to simply make the final decisions.

Utilize Technology!
We live in the era of technology, which makes wedding planning from out-of-town so much easier. You can view pictures of venues online, see examples of the past work of vendors, read reviews of vendors, and even listen to audio samples of bands. When you find a few companies you’re interested in, you can e-mail them for more info, participate in consultations by phone or Skype, and share your ideas with them on Pinterest.

Enlist the Locals!
Contact family or friends that live in the area where you’ll be hosting the wedding. Ask them to be scouts for you, attending meetings on your behalf. Having someone at the appointments whose opinion you value (and who can take pictures for you) can be particularly helpful when scoping out potential venues.

Wedding planning from afar may have its extra challenges, but if love can surpass distance, surely the wedding planning can as well!  Happy Planning!

*Natalie Gudel contributed to this article.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Six Wedding Thank You Note No-Nos

I'm so excited to welcome our guest blogger this week! Thank you note guru, Emily Easton, is sharing her tips for making your thank you notes personal and compelling. 

Six Wedding Thank You Note No-Nos
by Emily Easton

Everyone loves getting a thank you note for a shower or wedding gift. The gift-giver loves it even more when the note-writer does not make these missteps:

1. Making the note too short. Each thank you note should be at least two sentences. Two full sentences. Three is better.

2. Not naming every gift. Don’t thank the giver just for the darling placemats if she also gave you napkins and napkin rings. Somehow, convey that you appreciate each gift – even if you use phrases like “an assortment of kitchen tools.”

3. Failing to mention why you like the gift. Include some description of why you appreciate the gift, such as:
·         We need so many items for our kitchen and the blender you sent is one of our favorite additions! We love smoothies …
·         Mom always brought out special serving items for entertaining, and now the gorgeous pewter platter you gave us starts our collection.
·         Tyler and I are so grumpy without our first cup of coffee. The coffee maker you selected …
·         No need to wonder if the gift you sent will be used! Thanks so much for the check you sent. It went right into our honeymoon fund …

4. Starting with “I.”  You do remember your grade school teacher telling you never ever to start a thank you note with I. It’s too me-me-me.

5.  Starting with the words “Thank You.”  Of course you need to write the words “thank you” in the body of your note. But only the dullest notes start with those words. Force yourself to start with anything but “thank you” and you’re on your way to a great note. Here are some openings that will be appreciated:
  • How surprised we were to open the box and see the lovely pitcher you sent us!
  • Cold Wisconsin nights will be easier to take with the big plush blanket you gave us.  
  • It’s party time! Thanks for the terrific ice bucket you gave us …

6. Complimenting your own wedding. You certainly hope your guests will have – or did have – a good time at your wedding. But don’t brag in your thank you note. Avoid any phrase such as “We’re so glad you were able to come to our wonderful wedding!”  

Emily Easton is a note-writing expert. Her website on Wedding Thank You Notes can be found at

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Maria & Tony: A Taste of the Windy City

Maria and Tony's wedding melded traditional Filipino culture with highlights from the big city. The city-themed wedding featured famed Chicago nibbles, landmarks, and that classic cityscape. Check out the fantastic photos by Greenkey Photography:

A first look photo without the looking -- no peeking!

The beautiful St. Benedict Church

Unity Candle Ceremony

Photo by Camille Victoria Weddings LLC
At the reception, guests found their seats at tables named after city landmarks and the couple's favorite hot spots.

Photo by Camille Victoria Weddings LLC
The grand Donovan Reading Room at Loyola University - not much studying going on tonight!

A cityscape cake with a handy cake topper!

Photo by Camille Victoria Weddings LLC
Each table was named after a place that is special to the bride & groom. 
A bag of the renowned Garrett's popcorn awaited each guest at their seat.

The traditional Filipino money dance is a fascinating sight for the kids!

Sachets of potpourri for a sweet take-home.

Today's guestbooks make for a wonderful piece to display in the couple's home.

Congratulations to Maria & Tony!

Wedding Vendors:
Photographer: Greenkey Photography
Ceremony Location: St. Benedict Church
Reception Location: Donovan Reading Room
Florist: Flor del Monte
Wedding Coordination: Camille Victoria Weddings LLC

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Does the Maid of Honor Do?

When planning your wedding, one of the biggest decisions a bride can make is choosing who will get the coveted Maid of Honor position. But what does the Maid of Honor actually do? There are many responsibilities that a good Maid of Honor (“MOH”) will handle. The MOH is a role that, when successfully done, can take immense pressure off the bride. So when choosing who you want for the job, consider the responsibilities she will be tackling.

Pre-Wedding Party-Planner

The MOH traditionally coordinates a bridal shower or bachelorette party. She will choose the location, send out the invitations, and delegate planning tasks to your bridesmaids, such as setting up games to play, buying prizes for the winners, and providing snacks for guests.

Shopping Fashionista

Every girl needs a shopping buddy. You may want your MOH to accompany you on the mission to find the perfect wedding dress. For the bridesmaid dresses, while you certainly want to please your bridesmaids, it can be difficult to settle on a dress, if you let each bridesmaid weigh in on the decision. So, when shopping for the bridesmaid dresses, consider just taking your MOH. She can serve as a representative for the bridesmaids, so you can ensure your pick isn’t totally off base. And it will be much easier to select a dress with just a second opinion, rather than five opinions!

The MOH can assist with other purchases, as well, if needed, and even help research vendors. But if asking her to help with these planning tasks, be sure that she will keep your vision at the forefront and won’t end up planning her own wedding!

Photo from

Leader of the Pack with a Diplomatic Hand

No one ever wants to be the bad guy. But brides sometimes get a bad rap and labeled a Bridezilla for giving simple directions, like what color shoes to wear with the bridesmaid dresses. (Is it really that difficult to find taupe shoes???) A stellar MOH will step in and come to the bride's defense if a bridesmaid puts up a fuss. A simple reminder from the MOH that they are there to make your day special and less stressful should be enough to set the culprit straight. The MOH can handle tasks from reminding the bridesmaids to purchase their dresses on time to corralling the girls to ensure nobody is late to the rehearsal.

Personal Assistant

At the actual event, your MOH should be by your side both literally and figuratively. She will hold your bouquet and fix your train at the altar. She may need to help bustle your train for the reception or even just fetch a glass of champagne, if you’re looking overwhelmed. The MOH can also serve as the point of contact for your wedding coordinator, letting her know when you are on your way to the ceremony to ensure the groom is out of sight.

So, when choosing your MOH, yes, she should be a “bestie,” but also look for a few key traits to ensure she can fulfill her MOH responsibilities. Organization is key. She, in essence, will serve as a makeshift event planner to plan the bachelorette party or shower. She will need to find a location, delegate duties, and possibly book transportation. She should be dependable, so you can trust her to show up at your dress appointment on time or even find the perfect violinist, if you accidentally left booking ceremony musicians to the last minute. She should be willing to take charge while still being a team player, since she will be the leader of the bridesmaids, keeping them on task and diffusing disputes. She should be supportive, willing to listen, and always keep your likes and dislikes at heart.

The role of Maid of Honor is meant to be just that -- an honor! So choosing the right gal for the job is an important decision. Keep in mind the MOH responsibilities when making your selection, and maybe even show her this article, so she knows what’s ahead!

What tasks are you having your MOH handle? Tell us below….

*Natalie Gudel contributed to this article.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

10 Things You'll Wish You Did at Your Wedding

Wedding planning requires attention to a lot of details. It’s nearly impossible to remember every little thing. So here are ten things brides often wish they had done at their weddings, so you won’t forget them at yours!

I wish I had...

hired a wedding planner 

Ok, ok, I may be biased! But every year polls show that one of the top things brides wish they would have done differently was hired a wedding planner instead of trying to do everything on their own. When you first get engaged, the excitement is high, and all you want to do is plan, plan, plan. However, after a few months or even weeks of planning, it’s common to feel overwhelmed trying to balance wedding planning with your job and daily responsibilities.

Wedding blogs and sites like Pinterest provide tons of great ideas, but there is a lot more that goes into wedding planning than pretty flowers and dresses. That’s where a wedding planner comes in! A wedding planner can take your ideas and vision and put them into action by finding the right vendors, managing your budget, and preparing for the logistics. On the big day, the last thing a bride wants to do is answer vendor questions or setup escort cards. A wedding planner will be behind-the-scenes, ensuring everything is set up properly, managing the timeline, and running the show. With the wedding in the hands of a professional, brides can relax and enjoy their special day.

personalized my wedding 

The purpose of a wedding is to celebrate the union of the bride and groom. However, in the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, sometimes that focus is forgotten. Keep that purpose in mind with personalized details that showcase the bride and groom’s interests and personalities. It’s as easy as serving a specialty beverage or the couple’s favorite foods. You can even get creative with table numbers featuring photos of you and your hubby at each age! Personalizing a wedding allows guests to get to know the couple better and makes the wedding stand out!


took more photos and videos 

Adding up wedding expenses can be a fearsome task. There are always ways to reign in the costs, but a common regret among brides is cutting back on wedding photography and videography. Your wedding day comes and goes so quickly. Photographers and videographers serve as the eyes and ears of the day and will often show you bits and pieces of the day that you never even saw yourself. Wedding photos can make for beautiful décor for your home, and watching your wedding video on your anniversaries is a lovely annual tradition.


appreciated my wedding party

Often, the first time the wedding party meets each other is the day of or day before the wedding, making for some awkward interactions. Instead of dealing with uncomfortable moments on your wedding weekend, introduce the wedding party to each other in advance! A casual lunch or bowling night is a fun way for the wedding party to relax and get to know each other.

You can also show your appreciation to your wedding party by recognizing each member. The reception introductions and bridal party gifts are traditional ways to acknowledge them, but you could also display pictures during the cocktail hour of each member of the wedding party with a description of how you met and a funny or meaningful memory of that person.

made it last 

Enjoy your wedding weekend to fullest. You don't have to leave for your honeymoon right away. Plan your honeymoon departure for a couple of days after the wedding, so that you can attend a wedding brunch with friends and family the day after and continue to celebrate.

Every couple wants those feelings from their wedding day to last long after the day has passed. A great idea is to place love letters into a box along with a bottle of wine, and nail it shut at the wedding. When you and your hubby have your first disagreement, open it up, pour the wine, read the love letters, and remember what it's all about!

From the
Another fun idea is to provide each reception table with note cards to write notes for you to open on different anniversaries! All of the notes from table three will be opened on your third anniversary. As you read the notes years later, you’ll remember all of the love from your wedding day!


had a unique guestbook 

Guestbooks are a great way to remember everyone who helped celebrate your special day. But who ever said a guestbook has to be an actual book?! Get creative with your guestbook! Make it something you will see every day rather than just a book that will collect dust on a shelf! Have guests sign a wooden initial of your last name. After the wedding you can have it hanging on a wall in your home to display! Or, have guests take pictures of themselves and sign the pictures. Put the photos in an album or frame, and every time you see the pictures it will put a smile on your face!


gotten creative with my "something blue"

The “something blue” tradition has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. But “something blue” means it can be anything blue! Think outside the box for this tradition and try something different.

The date sewn in blue in the wedding dress lining.

Your bridal party signatures and well-wishes on the soles of your shoes in blue!


kept my guests entertained 

You don’t have to limit your wedding entertainment to dinner and dancing. Provide your guests with fun activities to keep them entertained throughout the night. Print a Mad Libs story about the bride and groom on the back of your menu cards for guests to fill in the blanks. Or, let them build their own ice cream sundaes as a late night snack.


had a "first look"

A First Look allows you to have a personal moment alone with your future husband before the ceremony. Seeing each other for the first time can be really emotional. If that moment happens while you’re walking down the aisle, you’re limited in your interaction with each other, as your guests are watching and the formalities of the ceremony have begun. At a First Look, you and your hubby-to-be can have spontaneous reactions, touch, and hug, without any pressure, which makes for poignant photos.

Also, doing a First Look and then taking your bridal party and family pictures before the ceremony means you can attend your cocktail hour after the ceremony and spend more time with friends and family.


The number one thing brides regret after their wedding day is not taking a moment to take a deep breath and relax. Before they know it, the day is over and they can hardly remember what happened! One of my favorite customs geared towards helping the newlyweds relax is the yichud from Jewish tradition. After the ceremony, the bride and groom go into a secluded place for 10 to 15 minutes. This short time allows the couple to escape, savor the moment, and enjoy each other for a few minutes before joining their guests for the reception. Whether you borrow this tradition or find your own way to relax, make sure to soak up this special day!

*Sarah Madonia contributed to this article.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weddings Around the World: Cross-Cultural Traditions You Can Incorporate into Your Wedding

Tens of thousands of weddings occur across the world every year. Each country, religion, and culture has different wedding customs, which are full of symbolism. Here are just a few of the wedding traditions from different cultures that you can incorporate into your own wedding day!

Indian Weddings
Mehndi (Henna)
One of the most recognized traditions in Indian weddings is Menhdi, or the Henna Ceremony., which occurs the night before the wedding ceremony.  Henna is a paste made from finely ground leaves from the Henna plant. The hands and feet of the bride are adorned with elaborate designs. For more modern weddings, other female family members and friends apply Henna on their hands and feet, as well. Traditionally, the names or initials of the bride and groom are hidden within the design, and the groom has to find both names in order for the wedding night to commence! Because the henna design signifies the strength of love in a marriage, after the wedding the bride is not supposed to perform any housework until her Menhdi has completely faded away.

Greek Orthodox Weddings
Crowning Ceremony 
The Crowning Ceremony is said to be the highlight of the Greek Orthodox Marriage Service. The Bride and Groom are regarded as part of the “royal family” of God and are crowned king and queen of their own dominion, their new union and family. The Bride and Groom are crowned with thin white crowns known as stefana, which are joined by a white ribbon and are blessed by the priest. The stefana symbolize the glory and honor that is being bestowed on them by God, and the ribbon symbolizes their unity. The Koumbaro (Best Man) then exchanges the crowns between the heads of the couple three times as witness to the sealing of their union. Tradition says that the couple is supposed to display their wedding crowns in a case called Stefanothiki that is hung over their bed.

Bombonieres (Jordan Almond gifts)
Another common Greek Orthodox tradition is the gift of Bombonieres that are filled with Koufeta, or Jordan Almonds. These favors are given as token of good fortune and happiness. Their bittersweet taste symbolizes life. The sugar coating represents the hope that life will be blessed with more sweetness than bitterness. Bombonieres are always filled with an odd number of almonds (traditionally five to signify health, wealth, longevity, fertility, and happiness) because the odd number is indivisible and symbolizes how the newlyweds will share everything and remain undivided. Tradition says that if an unmarried woman puts the almonds under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband!

Hispanic/Latino Weddings
The Arras (Coin Bearers)
The giving of the Arras is predominant in the Hispanic culture. The Arras is a small box containing thirteen gold or silver coins. The thirteen coins represent Christ and His twelve Apostles. The groom presents the Arras to the bride after the vows have been exchanged as a symbol of his readiness to provide financial support in their married life.

Lazo (Wedding Rosary)
A rosary or cord in the shape of a figure eight is placed around the shoulders of the bride and groom to symbolize the unification of the couple.

Money Dance
The Money Dance is performed at the reception. Guests take turns dancing with the Bride and Groom and pinning money on their clothes (or putting dollars in a basket if the couple doesn't want to use pins). This dance allows the couple to spend a few moments with each of their guests.

Jewish Weddings 
The Bride circling the Groom seven times is a symbolic custom in a Jewish wedding ceremony. The seven circles parallel the seven days of creation and symbolize that the Bride and Groom are creating their own “new world” together.

A Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under the Chuppah, or wedding canopy, and it is a symbol of the home that the new couple will build together. The Chuppah is held up by four poles and is open on all sides to represent how friends and family are always welcome in the couple’s home.

Breaking of Glass
At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, a glass is placed on the floor and the Groom shatters it with his foot, as the guests shout “Mazel Tov!" meaning congratulations and good luck. The broken glass serves as a reminder of of the fragility of a marriage, and it is said that the number of shards of glass represent the number of children to come!

The Hora 
The Hora is a circle dance done at the wedding reception. The Bride and Groom hold opposite ends of a handkerchief while being lifted into the air on chairs by the guests who are honoring them as King and Queen of the night. The dance is designed to allow guests to bless the couple as well as to reflect the idea that their love should be like a circle, infinite and never-ending.

African American Weddings 
Jumping the Broom 
Jumping the Broom is a popular African-American tradition at wedding ceremonies. After the couple has exchanged their wedding vows, they jump over the handle of a broom. This ritual represents the past being swept away and the joining of two families in unity as they jump over the threshold into their new life. Some say that whoever jumps highest or lands first over the broom is the decisionmaker of the household! Often the guests are included in the ceremony by writing their good wishes for the couple on paper and tying it to the broom with ribbon.

Catholic/Christian Weddings
Unity Candles 
The Unity Candle is very popular in Christian wedding ceremonies. There are many ways to integrate the unity candle into the ceremony, but most commonly, at the beginning of the ceremony, the mothers from each side lights one outer candle. This symbolizes that the Bride and Groom are coming from two separate homes and families. When the Bride and Groom later take those outer candles and light the center candle together, it symbolizes the merging of their lives together and the start of a new family and life.

Sand Ceremony
The Sand Ceremony is sometimes done instead of the Unity Candle and has the same meaning. By merging two different colors of sand, it symbolizes the joining of two families. Because it is impossible to separate the different color grains once they have been combined, it demonstrates the permanent nature of the commitment being made.

Chinese Weddings
Tea Pouring Ceremony
The Tea Pouring Ceremony is the most significant event in a modern Chinese wedding, when the Bride is formally introduced to the Groom’s family. This ceremony typically takes place in the groom’s home. The couple offers tea to their elders, including the Groom’s parents. Acceptance of the tea is confirmation that the family has welcomed the Bride into the Groom’s family. Tea is used because it is China’s national drink and serving it is a sign of respect. After drinking the tea, gifts for the Bride and Groom are presented in red envelopes, stuffed with money or jewelry. The envelopes are called “li shi,” meaning “lucky.”

What are your favorite weddings customs? What traditions will you incorporate at your wedding? Tell us below....

*Sarah Madonia contributed to this article.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Videography: From Wedding Trend, to Wedding Necessity

Your wedding comes and goes so quickly. You definitely don't want to forget even the little things! While photography is beautiful and very important in a wedding, a video allows you to see, hear, and relive your the day. By hiring a videographer, you can experience your most special moments again, and even see moments you may have missed on the actual wedding day. Check out these top four reasons why a professional videographer should be a must in your wedding planning:

Don't Miss A Thing - Once the big day arrives, there is always a flurry of activity that makes the day seem to fly by. With so much going on, it can be difficult to savor the special, little moments, like the groom putting on his tux or the bride seeing herself in the mirror for the first time. A good wedding videographer can serve as your eyes and ears while you're celebrating!

Will & Charis - Tulsa, OK from Vélos Films on Vimeo.

Get Lasting Quality for Posterity - Let's face it, as advanced as the latest iPhone technology is, it is still no match for a professional. iPhone footage can be shaky, doesn't allow you to zoom, and doesn't pick up sound well. For a video that you will likely show your children some day, you want it to be as high quality as possible!

You make me happy from David Ruzicka on Vimeo.

Let Your Guests Celebrate - If you rely on a family member or friend for video, they likely won't be able to spend much time with you or enjoy the day themselves. Plus, you'll likely hear their laughs, talking, and cheers in the background. Hiring a professional who can devote the day to videography allows you to enjoy the day with the people you love!

Sarah and Allan from Senderey Video Productions on Vimeo.

mike // megan - breakers beach from 618 Studios on Vimeo.
A video is a great way to remember a special toast or moment.

Be a Movie Star for a Day - Worried that a wedding video will just be too cheesy? Gone are the days of ‘80s graphics and clipart. Today’s wedding videos often take a photojournalistic or even a movie trailer approach, integrating current music, interviews with the bride and groom, and comments from family and guests.

dead hearts: The Wedding of Victoria and Jason Evigan from Lightfield Lewis on Vimeo.
A wedding video can have a modern twist so that it reflects your creativity and style.

After watching these wedding videos, having your own is hard to resist! Share the links to your wedding videos with us below.....

Angela & Owen - Same Day Edit // Houston from 31Films on Vimeo.

*Sarah Madonia contributed to this article.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Just Got Married... Now What?

A Post-Wedding Checklist 

The wedding is over, you’re officially husband and wife, and you’re back from your honeymoon. No more excessive planning and stress! According to The Knot, the average engagement time is around 17 months, meaning couples spend more than a year and a half devoting their lives to wedding planning. It should be a relief to be done, right? But once you get back from your honeymoon, you suddenly find yourself with free time. So what are you supposed to do now?! Not to worry -- plenty of tasks still await! Here is your list of items to take care of after the big day to avoid the post-wedding blues!

The Basics: 

  • Send thank you notes. (Proper etiquette says that you should have thank you notes in the mail no later than two months after your wedding date.) 
  • Send change-of-address cards. 
  • Follow up with photographer regarding proofs and album. 
  • Follow up with videographer for video song selections and video viewing. 
  • Clean and store your wedding gown. (Contact the store that you purchased your gown from for possible deals.)  
  • Update your Will. 
  • Send a wedding announcement to your local newspaper. 
Changing Your Name: 

  • Be sure you have received your marriage certificate after the wedding. This will serve as one of your primary documents for changing your name. In some counties, the certificate is not mailed automatically, and you will need to send a request to obtain a copy. 
  • Change your social. Simply go to your area social security office, fill out the SS-5 form (or get it online and fill it out in advance), and voila! For more information on what to bring, go to: 
  • Change your driver’s license. Go to your nearest DMV. While you’re at the DMV, don’t forget to also change your name on your vehicle registrations, as well. Be sure to leave time to wait in line!  
  • Change your passport. You have one year from your wedding date to change your passport for free. For information on what to mail, go to: 
Now, the U.S. government officially recognizes your new name! Congratulations!

Now you can change:

  • W2 information at work 
  • Payroll – talk to HR 
  • Life insurance and retirement account beneficiaries 
  • Insurance information 
  • Credit cards 
  • Bank account information 
  • Vehicle titles 
  • Voter Registration 
  • Email addresses 
  • Library card
  • Alumni associations, gyms, and other organizations to which you belong 
  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) 

Just when you thought the To-Do List was completed, you have a new one to start on! But don’t worry -- no need to tackle these tasks immediately. Sit back, relax, and soak in wedded bliss!

*Sarah Madonia contributed to this article.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Megan & B.J.: Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I definitely believe that a wedding should reflect the personality and style of the couple. Megan and B.J.'s wedding did just that, emanating brightness and warmth with just a touch of whimsy. Check out the beautiful photos by Dawn E. Roscoe Photography:

The Ceremony

Having a little fun at the altar.
LOVE it when a photographer captures these kinds of moments!

Bagpipers serenaded the couple as they exited the church. 
The hints of Irish pride didn't end there. 
The bagpipers led the way for a very grand entrance at the reception, and
guests enjoyed Irish cookies at the late night candy buffet. 

The garden-style centerpieces were perfect for the Columbus Park Refectory.

Photo by Camille Victoria Weddings LLC
Every bride knows, it's all in the details. 
Did you know that many caterers allow you to pick which napkin fold to use at your place settings?

A separate kids table featured a special surprise!

The couple's first mail as newlyweds came right at the reception, with this cute cardbox.

First Dance

Congratulations to Megan & B.J.!

Reception Venue: Columbus Park Refectory
Caterer: Conn's Catering
Florist: Emily Barge
Wedding Coordination: Camille Victoria Weddings LLC

Friday, May 10, 2013

Let the Festivities Continue: How to Plan a Post-Wedding Brunch

Your wedding day is over, and after all that planning, you wish that the celebration could continue! If you are not leaving for your honeymoon right away, hosting a breakfast or brunch the morning after the wedding is a great, relaxed way to spend more time with family and friends basking in your big moment. Here are a few tips on how to plan a casual post-wedding breakfast or brunch.

Destination Decision 
First, decide on the location for the brunch. Generally, the brunch venue should be convenient for out-of-town guests. Often a willing friend or family member’s home is a welcoming yet inexpensive way to host guests. Alternatively, if you reserved a block of rooms at a hotel, you could arrange to host the brunch in a hotel ballroom, a hospitality hotel room, or the hotel restaurant. Keep in mind that the brunch can be informal. So, if the hotel has a complimentary breakfast, there is no reason why you can’t make that your post-wedding brunch. Simply indicate in the wedding weekend itinerary a time range for guests to stop by when the newlyweds and families will be in the hotel’s breakfast area.

You need not invite every wedding guest. The brunch is usually reserved for the wedding party, family, and out-of-town guests. You can keep it simple and inform the invited guests of the brunch via a wedding weekend itinerary in the hospitality bags or a small memo card along with your wedding invitations.

A casual brunch calls for a casual menu. A continental buffet is entirely appropriate. But add any favorite dishes or local specialties that represent you and your spouse.

 Bon appetit!

*Mohy Ali-Fehmy contributed to this article.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nina & Robert: Vows On the High Seas

Maybe the Chicago River isn't the high seas, but saying "I Do" aboard a river boat, with views of famed architecture and the skyline, is definitely a fun and unique way to tie the knot. That classic Chicago ambiance carried into the evening with a downtown reception at the historic Rookery Building. Check out the stunning photos by Nakai Photography.

The First Look

The Wedding Party

All Aboard...Ceremony Time!

Here Comes the Bride

Part of being a wedding planner is quick thinking to handle those unexpected moments that can come up from time to time. With just 30 minutes to set up on the boat, we were confronted with a surprise giant photo of Wrigley Field on the wall of our "altar" area. From the photo, you can see that it magically disappeared. What did we use to cover it up on the fly? 
Tell us what you think below. We'll reveal the answer on Facebook.

The Rookery

What better venue than a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece for an architect groom?

History and architecture books served as decor for the guestbook table while paying tribute to this iconic venue.

The cocktail-style reception featured food stations and tables of varying sizes and seating arrangements for a casual flow.

Several different centerpiece looks created texture and visual interest in the room.

A Traditional Norwegian "Kransekake" Wedding Wreath Cake

Congratulations Nina & Robert!

Photography: Nakai Photography
Florist: Cattleya Floral
Wedding Coordination: Camille Victoria Weddings