Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Unique Take on Common Wedding Favors

Wedding favors are an excellent and traditional way to show your wedding party and guests how much you appreciate their being at or participating in your wedding. Saying thank you to your guests for their well wishes and gifts is not only traditional, but is also expected – even at the smallest of weddings. However, though the practice of giving wedding favors is traditional, it was only recently that the habit emerged.
Where did the wedding favor come from? Thievery of course. Yes, seriously.
It used to be that wedding guests would quietly take a small item or two as a souvenir from the wedding – such as a knife, fork, or other small token item from centerpieces and other arrangements. This resulted in the bride and groom giving favors, to stave off thievery, and the favors are usually placed as a part of the table setting so the guests can remember the special day without having to resort to committing a misdemeanor to do so.

Common Wedding Favors, Unique Ideas
Since the day that the first wedding favor was given on purpose, the trend continued with certain items always being “favor material,” which resulted in being able to count on specific items being given, such as Jewish almonds, or other little candies – boring items that did not last.
These days, however, the trend is changing, and the favors are being just as unique as each wedding is.
For example, disposable digital cameras are a brilliant idea that gives guests a personal photo album of the event. Alternatively, you could instead spring for mini SD cards instead, since just about everyone has a smartphone or tablet PC with which to take photos these days.
Another unique idea with a common item is interesting little decorative items, such as glasses or ceramics.
Silver slipper bottle openers have been done, as have food items and Boy/Girl items. Marbles and silver spoon sets are available in many varieties, and can be difficult to make unique. For most wedding favors, unique ideas are assumed to work well, as there are so many choices that your guests will probably have never seen them before.

Make Any Wedding Favor Unique
Because this is your wedding, your wedding favors should express your uniqueness. Are you studying to be a lawyer? You could write a faux contract saying that you and spouse will always be happy and always remember the special day with them (the guests) there.
Are you a green geek? You could donate money to an environmental group on the guests’ behalf. Depending on the size of the guest list this could get expensive, though so make sure to set monetary limits and donate no more per person than you would have spent on a normal favor. This idea works with a number of different industries. For example, if you’re a cancer survivor, donate to the ACS, if you are a Vet, then donate to ASPCA, and so on.
When you put yourself into the project, it comes from the heart, which makes each wedding favor you create not only unique and meaningful, but personal as well, for which the memory will last as long as your friendship with the guests – much longer than if spent potentially hundreds on little candy favors instead.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Who Pays For What In a Wedding

With the average cost of a modern-day wedding in the U.S. totaling over $32,00, couples may not have the financial means to cover this union. While there are certain steps couples can take to slim down this cost, they should also consider seeking financial help from family members. Traditionally, the bride and groom's parents cover a large portion of the wedding costs. In this blog post, we're going to reveal some of the traditional etiquette regarding who pays for what in a wedding.

Expenses Covered By Bride's Parents

  • Wedding planner and/or coordinator
  • Floral arrangements
  • Professional photographer
  • Videos
  • Band and entertainment
  • Ceremony venue rental
  • Transportation services to and from the wedding venue (if needed)
  • Invitations
  • Bride's dress, veil, shoes and accessories
  • Dresses for bridesmaids and the maid of honor
  • Stationary
  • Wedding cake
  • Wedding favors

Expenses Covered By Groom's Parents

  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Suits for groomsmen and best man
  • Marriage license
  • Pastor or preacher to conduct the ceremony
  • Honeymoon expenses
Note: both families traditionally share the responsibilities and financial cost of throwing an engagement party for the couple.

The bride typically covers the cost of the groom's wedding band, while the groom pays for the bride's wedding band. Depending on the couple's current financial situation, they may seek financial help from their parents, but traditionally the bride and groom are responsible for purchasing each other's wedding ring. This adds a certain level of intimacy to the wedding, as each party chooses and pays for their future spouse's ring.

Another cost incurred by the groom and bride are gifts to their groomsmen and bridesmaids. For the groomsmen, a typical gift might be something like a personalized knife or mug, whereas bridesmaids' gifts might be a personalized handbag, necklace or bracelet. Couples aren't required to spend a fortune on gifts, but they should show their appreciation to the bridesmaids and groomsmen by purchasing them a small yet meaningful gift.

Expenses Covered By Guests

The only real expense that guests are traditionally responsible for is a wedding gift for the couple. All food, beverages, entertainment, seating, etc. are covered by the bride and groom's family (as shown in the list above). When guests arrive at the ceremony, however, they should bring a single gift for the couple.

Wedding guests should check with the couple to see if they are registered for wedding gifts. Most couples choose a specific department store to register for gifts, at which point guests can log into the couple's account to see what gifts they want. If another guest purchases the gift, it will be removed from their registry to prevent duplicate gifts.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Are The Duties and Responsibilities of a Maid of Honor?

Choosing a maid of honor is a bid decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. Some brides naturally go with their best friend, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are fit the job. A maid of honor has a number of responsibilities and duties, all of which are crucial to creating a smooth wedding experience. If she isn't willing or capable of performing these tasks, it could send the wedding into a downwards spiral.

Note: being a maid of honor isn't an easy task. It's a common assumption that maid of honors get to kick back and enjoy being the bride's "right hand woman." Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Being a maid of honor is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and downright expensive!

Responsibilities and Duties of Being a Maid of Honor:

  • Help the bride choose a dress
  • Attend the engagement party
  • Throw the bachelorette party (includes planning games, activities, events, buying food and beverages, sending invitations, etc.)
  • Participate in the wedding rehearsal and post-rehearsal dinner
  • Show up to the wedding with the bride (this is oftentimes several hours before the actual ceremony)
  • Assist the bride with her hair and makeup
  • Keep tabs on all vendors and service providers for the wedding, making sure they show up on time
  • Be there for emotional support, encouraging the bride and calming her nerves.
  • And many, many more...

  • A maid of honor's responsibilities are amplified on the day of the wedding. When the big day rolls around, she must shadow the bride step-for-step while she gets ready for the ceremony. This includes (but not limited to) helping the bride style her hair, do her makeup, get into her dress, etc. The

    How Do I Choose a Maid of Honor?

    With such a long list of duties and responsibilities, some people might turn their head at the thought of being a maid of honor, which is perfectly fine. After all, brides should choose someone who's both willing and enthusiastic about the job. This may be one her long childhood friends, or it could be her sister.

    Before you make a decision, ask the potential maid of honor if she is willing to stand by your side and offer her full assistance. Let her know that it's a time-consuming job that's certainly not easy by any means. Having an eager maid of honor will take some of the burden of planning a wedding off your shoulders, allowing you to enjoy your big day just a little bit more.

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Choosing a Professional Wedding Photographer

    The photographer is arguably one of the most important service providers at a wedding. Once the reception is over and the newlywed couple drive off into the sunset, the only reminder of this day will come in the form of photos. Whether it's one year later or fifty, the couple can look back at their wedding photos for a clear recollection of this day. 

    With such an important task at hand, it's important for couples to choose the right wedding photographer; otherwise, they could end up with low-quality, amateurish photos that don't convey the true nature and emotion of the wedding.

    Wedding Experience

    When you're shopping around for a professional photographer, check to make sure they are experienced with weddings. Just because a photographer claims to have been in business for 5 or 10 years doesn't necessarily mean they've worked weddings. Don't be afraid to ask them about their wedding experience. Find out how long they've been in business and how many weddings they've performed. You don't have to get an exact number, as a ballpark figure will suffice.

    Note: you might save some cash opting for an inexperienced photographer, but this isn't something you should try to save money on. Spending the extra money on an experienced, professional photographer is a smart investment that will pay off in the form of better memories.

    Check Out Their Samples

    There's no better or easier way to gauge a professional photographer's work than by viewing some of his or her samples. Every reputable photographer should have a collection of their work in a portfolio for potential clients to view. Take a few minutes to scan through their work to see if they are a good match for you and your spouse. Do they capture the emotion and expression well? What about the lighting and scenery? These are all things that must be answered before you make a decision.

    Film vs Digital

    You should also determine whether the photographer shoots in traditional film or digital format. Most professional photographers today use digital format, as this offers greater flexibility and more options in terms of touch-ups; however, there are some photographers out there who prefer film.

    Regardless of which format you choose to go with, ask the photographer for a price breakdown on the wedding photos. Decide exactly how many photos you want, along with their size, and discuss it with the photographer. Hopefully, they'll offer you a package deal to save money, while still allowing you to order additional photos in the future.

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Ring Bearer Duties and Responsibilities

    Flower girl and ring bearer: photo by nshontz.
    During the wedding ceremony, the ring bearer is responsible for carrying the bring and groom's wedding down the aisle to the alter. It's only when the couple receives their rings that they can exchange vows and say their "I do's." But what's the best approach to having a ring bearer at your wedding? And should you really entrust them with you and your soon-to-be spouse's wedding rings? To learn the answer to these questions and more, keep reading.

    Choosing a Ring Bearer

    The ring bearer is typically a young boy in the immediate family of either the bride or groom, between the ages of 4-9 (see image to the left). Seeing a handsome young ring bearer walking down the aisle is bound to create some smiles among guests, which is one of the reasons why this modern tradition has become so popular over the years.

    There's really no specific criteria to follow when choosing a ring bearer for your wedding. Ideally, you should choose someone that's in your immediate family, such as a young nephew. However, some couples may not have any boys between the ages of 4-9 in their family. In this case, you can ask a close friend or second relative if they are willing to perform the duties of being the ring bearer. Most young children love the attention of being the ring bearer, so you shouldn't have any problems finding a willing participant.

    When Should The Ring Bearer Walk?

    While some couples may perform their ceremony differently, the ring bearer is typically one of the last parties to walk down the aisle. The bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen and priest will all be standing at the alter when the ring bearer enters. Typically, the ring bearer carries the couple's rings tied to the top of a pillow, with the flower girl tossing out rose pedals right behind him.

    Real vs Fake Rings

    One of the decisions you'll have to make when planning a wedding is whether to give your actual wedding rings to the ring bearer or fake rings. Depending on how much you and your spouse spent on the wedding rings, you may feel slightly hesitant placing them in the hands of a mischievous young boy. In this case, you can hand them fake rings to take some of the stress off your shoulders. Once the ring bearer makes his way up to alter, the groom can pull the actual rings out of his pocket.

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Easy Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding

    To say getting married is expensive would be an understatement. According to (yes, that's really their name), the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is approximately $25,656, and that doesn't include the honeymoon.

    Unfortunately, marriage is such a heavy financial burden that many couples avoid tying the knot altogether. In today's tough economic times, it's hard for couples to save this kind of money. Rather than saying "I do," they say "let's wait until next year." The good news is that you can significantly cut down on your wedding costs by using the following tips.

    Budget Tip #1) Have an Off-Season Wedding

    Arguably, one of the easiest ways to save money on a wedding is by choosing to have it during the off-season. There's no rule stating that you must get married on a beautiful summer or late spring day. Sure, this time of year will likely offer the best weather, but it's also the time of year when most other couples are looking to get married.

    Getting married between the months of November and March will end up saving you tons of money on everything from the venue to service providers. When demand for services is low, prices drop as a result. This tip alone can literally save you thousands of dollars on your wedding costs.

    Budget Tip #2) Avoid Late Evening Weddings

    Having your wedding early in the day rather than late at night is another simple way to save money. How exactly does this save you money? If your wedding takes place during the daytime, you don't have to provide guests with full dinners during the reception. Along with entertainment, food and beverages are a major expense in planning a wedding. You can cut down on this cost by choosing a daytime as opposed to evening wedding.

    It's still proper etiquette for couples to offer their guests food and beverages during the reception, but time of day dictates what types of food are okay to serve. Veggie trays, fruit, cheese and crackers and small sandwich bites are perfectly fine for early-to-mid day weddings.

    Budget Tip #3) Shop Around

    Rather than hiring the first photographer, caterer, musician or any other service provider that you come across in the phone book, take your time to call around and get multiple quotes. I recommend keeping a journal on hand and writing down information about each service provider you speak with.

    When you are talking with a service provider, ask the following questions:
    • How much do you charge?
    • Do you require a deposit?
    • Are you willing to follow a dress code?
    • Do you have experience working with weddings? 
    • Are you available for my wedding date?

    Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Is Giving Wedding Favors an Outdated Tradition?

    One of the biggest issues and questions that arise when planning weddings is cost. Wedding budgets are usually just a guideline, but while some couples have no issues going over budget, other couples cannot pay for the honeymoon if it does.
    Giving wedding favors can get very expensive, and this is especially true of couples who believe that they should give wedding favors to everyone who attends the wedding, instead of only giving them to the guests in the wedding party itself.

    To Give Favors or Not to Give Them?
    For centuries, brides and bridegrooms have given wedding favors as a thank you to wedding guests, rehearsal guests, and those who worked behind the scenes to make the big day happen, and the wedding favor tradition is not something you should take lightly.
    Though some couples who have stopped giving favors try to cite the fact that the tradition is a bit outdated, it is usually because of the costs involved that some couples have stopped giving favors entirely. Instead of giving traditional wedding favors, modern couples have come up with a variety of ideas on how to thank their guests and the wedding party.
    Personalized and Edible Favors

    Taking a different path down the traditional road of wedding favors is as simple creativity and bulk buying. One great way to do this is by giving guests edible wedding favors. Chocolates and other little candies are an excellent example. For the wedding party, you can have chocolate bars personalized, and for general guests you can visit a candy wholesaler and negotiate a bulk price. Alternatively, because companies such as Hershey’s will offer lower prices for buying in volume, it might be cheaper to personalize all the favors instead of just for the wedding party depending on how many guests are on your list.

    Buying in Volume
    Again, depending on the size of your guest list, you might want to think about visiting a dollar store, or a wholesale outlet. If you contact the store manager or distributor, you may be able to get a price that’s even lower than that on the shelves. Because these types of stores deal in volume daily, sometimes shipping as much as an entire container load at a time, they are usually more than willing to negotiate based on your guest list. Couples have gotten massively inexpensive deals such as buying 500 shot glasses for $1 apiece, or photo frames for $1.50 when buying 200.
    In terms of budgeting the cost of a wedding, not giving favors balks at tradition. You don’t want your guests feel as if they aren’t appreciated – especially those in the wedding party – do you? Even if just a thank you card, you really should give something as a favor, no matter what it is.