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The Albany Herald

Friday, February 21, 2014

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Looking for the perfect wedding gift? How to spice up the happy couple's newlywed bliss

(BPT) - If you struggle finding just the right wedding present for friends and family who are getting married, you're not alone. You want a gift that is personal, unique and, above all else, something they will actually use. Many newlyweds need to build their kitchen supplies, plus with the foodie trend still going strong, you can't go wrong with food- and cookingthemed gifts. Instead of gifting a blender or new pots and pans, think outside the gift box and create a basket of premium spices. A good set of spices makes an immediate difference in any kitchen - high quality cinnamon,

paprika or even salt and pepper, for example, bring an impressive new level of flavor to any meal. It's also fun for newlyweds to explore spices together. They can create new combinations for both old and new dishes to learn which flavors they, as a new couple, deem to be their favorites. When selecting spices for gifting, look for natural and organic spices. You want your gift to communicate your best wishes for the happy couple's health while giving them a true taste of why high standards matter. Here are some top spices the experts at Frontier Natural Products recommend:

Step 1: Start with staples To properly build a spice rack, you must have a good selection of commonly used staples. Great staple spices include basil, bay leaves, cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric and, of course, salt and black pepper. Step 2: Add spice blends Ready-to-use spice blends are quick and convenient ways to add flavor to foods, and they're perfect for cooks learning their way in the

kitchen. Popular spice blends include allpurpose seasoning, chili powder, curry powder, Italian seasoning, Mexican seasoning and pumpkin pie spice. Step 3: Include adventurous spices Add a surprise element to your spice gift basket with a few adventurous options. This is a good way to personalize your gift as well. For example, add a spice that is reminiscent of their honeymoon location, such as Frontier's new Seafood Seasonings, handharvested French salt Fleur de Sel, or Grains of Paradise Seed, a tiny seed that tastes like a combination of a mild

black pepper, ginger, cardamom and coriander. Step 4: Don't forget trendy spices Help the happy couple go to the head of culinary class by including top trending spices in your wedding gift. Smoked spices are all the rage right now, so be sure to include some delicious smoked sea salt. Another trendy spice is Vietnamese Cinnamon, prized by gourmet chefs, many whom believe it to be the best cinnamon in the world. Step 5: Finish with extracts and flavorings To round out your

wedding gift, consider including some premium extracts and flavorings to really help prepare the newlyweds' kitchen. One great example is non-GMO Vanilla Extract from Frontier. Its rich, universally popular taste will enhance treats from cookies to custards. Plus, nonGMO means it isn't made with genetically modified vanilla beans, a positive for many people. When it comes to wedding gifts, make sure yours stands out from the bunch. A customized collection of spices is sure to be used time and time again by the happy couple, and they'll think of your thoughtful gift every time they cook.

New times, new traditions: Modern wedding trends from stock-the-bar parties to social networking sites (BPT) - October is the new June. More and more, weddings are taking place in the height of fall foliage, heart of winter and prime holiday season, including the ever-popular New Year's Eve ceremony to ring in the new year. But it's not just the wedding season that has drastically evolved over the past decade, it's everything from roles and responsibilities to giftgiving. As you gear up to celebrate the union of your beloved family or friends - or even your own - know what to expect from the changing tides of weddings. Lizzie Post, co-author of "Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th edition" and great-great-

granddaughter of Emily Post, helps couples navigate the new traditions of weddings. The Post name has been synonymous with proper etiquette and manners for the past 80 years. As decades pass, so will traditions, but proper etiquette is timeless. Be prepared for the next wedding you attend and know what to expect from changes in the wedding landscape with these important pieces of advice: Pay it forward Finding the right gift for the newlyweds can be difficult. While registries help to point guests in the right direction, many couples are getting married later

in life and already have all the household items that are common wedding gifts. To provide the couple with a small nest egg to use however they wish, a check is always a great and safe gift idea. Several financial institutions, like Bank of America, offer mobile check deposit through their banking app, allowing the couple the flexibility to deposit checks on-the-go to help cover outstanding vendor payments or use on their honeymoon.

Another new-age trend is contributing to a couple's honeymoon fund.

ceremony. Respect personalization

Temper tech use Even weddings are going hi-tech. There are numerous websites available that can help the couple to organize the process, communicate with guests and share photos after the ceremony. But a few things - like a handwritten "thank you" note - should steer clear of the hi-tech lure. In a gadget-driven society, everyone is carrying a smartphone. Couples can post a tasteful notice at the entrance of the ceremony location or in the program to remind guests to turn off their cell phone ringers and refrain from use during the ceremony. Some couples may actually encourage guests to take photos and share images via social media, but guests should respect their wishes and use phones only as a camera and upload images after the

Couples want their special day to reflect who they are and what is important to them. While previous generations traditionally wed in places of worship, many modern couples choose to tie the knot at a sentimental location, like where they had their first date. The decor, music and even the food and drink served at a wedding may have a personal story behind it. No matter how nontraditional the element may be, guests should eagerly partake in the festivities, acknowledging and respecting the couple's individualization. Be all-inclusive In the past, bridal showers were strictly for the bride and bachelor parties were a men-only affair. Nowadays, these festivities are no longer gender-specific. Showers

can be thrown for the couple in unison and include creative themes like "stock the bar" or "time of day." Bachelor and bachelorette parties can also be conjoined to involve the entire bridal party in a destination event. And while these events are a celebration of joy, expenses can add up quickly. If you use a rewards card, like the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card, you can earn points on purchases to pay for all or part of your trip. This is great for both the bride and groom and guests traveling to the wedding. As trends and expectations shift, so will the way major life milestones are celebrated. It is important to celebrate these moments in life with grace and support for the happy couple after all, it's their day and it should be as unique as they are. For further etiquette advice on navigating 21st century weddings, visit www.emilypost.com.

The Albany Herald

Friday, February 21, 2014

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The Albany Herald

Friday, February 21, 2014

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10 expert tips for an affordable and memorable destination wedding

Lost dress? No-show caterer? Bankrupt photographer? How to protect yourself from the worst wedding disasters

(BPT) - A flurry of congratulatory phone calls, social media announcements and sparkling ring pictures all mean one thing: engagement season has arrived. With approximately 39 percent of marriage proposals taking place between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, engaged couples are taking note of one of the fastest-growing nuptial trends - destination weddings. These days, one in four weddings is a destination wedding, giving couples and their guests - a reason to blend the joy of a marriage celebration with a fun and memorable vacation. Planning a destination wedding suitable for all your attendees is easier than you think, thanks to some key insights from Myrtle Beach-based expert wedding planner, Cheryl Cox. 1. Plan ahead Cox says nine to 12 months is the optimum planning time, especially for a destination wedding. Many couples start planning a destination wedding as soon as they get engaged. While the summer months are typically most popular for couples, when choosing a date, Cox recommends considering a Friday or weekday wedding, or planning the big day during the lesscrowded but still desirable shoulder seasons (spring and fall).

You can even tie the knot 200 feet above the ground on the Myrtle Beach Skywheel. Visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com for more information. 5. Help guests plan activities Travel is the foundation for longlasting memories. In fact, a recent Harris Interactive survey found 62 percent of adults said their earliest memories were of family vacations taken when they were between ages 5 and 10. Help your guests - particularly families with young ones - get the most out of their trip by suggesting activities or even making reservations for dinners, tee times, theme parks, museums, etc., before arrival. 6. Hire a wedding planner Planning a destination wedding doesn't need to be stressful - hire a wedding planner. "Wedding planners know the local wedding professionals and venues including the city regulations for beach weddings," says Cox. The perfect beach wedding can be accomplished with the help of a wedding planner as they know the ins and outs of planning a beautiful beach wedding so couples and their guests can enjoy the true beauty of a beachside wedding. 7. Consider a pre-wedding visit "If possible, attend a local wedding show to meet wedding professionals one-on-one or plan a 'wedding planning trip' to visit venues and meet with wedding vendors," Cox suggests. "Remember to take notes so you can recall all the details when you're back home."

2. Select a destination that caters to all guests Consider a location with something for everyone. Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the perfect example. The destination offers pristine greens for golf enthusiasts, museums and historic plantations for cultural buffs, delicious Coastal Carolina cuisine for the foodies, fun in the sun with a day at the beach or one of the many water parks, and for brides looking for some quality time with the girls, numerous spas for a day of pampering. Plus, there are plenty of lodging options for your guests including oceanfront resorts, beach home rentals and quaint bed and breakfasts.

8. Get wedding insurance Give yourself peace of mind by purchasing the appropriate wedding insurance. And, Cox notes, "Research to find the best coverage for your wedding - I highly recommend it."

3. Research ceremony locations Beautiful and unique ceremony locations are one of the perks of having a destination wedding. "Research wedding venues, travel and accommodation options, and rates, then rank the venues you like best," suggests Cox. As a Myrtle Beach wedding planner, she notes that the area's 60 miles of stunning coastline make the perfect romantic backdrop. Whether you're looking for a beachside wedding outside a charming beach home or at the Myrtle Beach State Park, or a historic location like Litchfield Plantation or Pine Lakes Country Club, there are countless ceremony locations to choose from.

9. Be mindful of budget Start your marriage off on the right financial foot by keeping your wedding on-budget. Many couples planning destination weddings find them to be similar or even more affordable than traditional weddings back home. Myrtle Beach offers a variety of wedding venue options at various price points, so you can have your dream beach wedding and still stay on a budget.

(BPT) - Your wedding is supposed to be a magical day you remember for the rest of your life. It also is sure to be one of the most expensive days of your life. From the dress to the catering to the photographer, the average wedding costs nearly $30,000. With all that money and emotion on the line, you want to do everything you can to ensure this special day goes flawlessly. The reality is most weddings experience a hiccup or two, many of which are minor and even laughable after the day has passed. But some can be more devastating, such as a reception hall that closes before the big day, a stained or lost wedding dress, or your photographer goes out of business right after taking your deposit. "The majority of weddings will happen without major glitches, but to give yourself peace of mind and know you're better protected, it's important to add wedding insurance to your list of must-have's," says Steve Lauro, vice president of Aon's WedSafe wedding insurance program. When things go wrong during the wedding planning process, or even on the day of the ceremony, it can be extremely stressful and the costs can quickly add up. However you cannot go back and protect yourself after an incident occurs, which is why wedding insurance is recommended as soon as you begin placing deposits with your vendors and reception venue. "There are two types of insurance engaged couples should consider purchasing," suggests Lauro. "The first is event liability insurance and the second is event cancellation and postponement insurance. They can both provide peace of mind and protection from financial loss should something unexpected occur." Lauro explains the differences in the two types of insurance: 1. Event liability insurance This type of insurance focuses on the event itself, providing protection to the couple and additional insureds, such as the venue. This type of coverage may include property damage at the reception venue, bodily injury should a guest slip and fall on the dance floor, and alcoholrelated accidents. Visit www.wedsafe.com for more information.

2. Event cancellation and postponement insurance You may never imagine a reason why you'd postpone your wedding, but between sickness, injury and natural disaster, it does force brides and grooms who may have no other option. This type of insurance can help reimburse the cost of cancelling and rescheduling your wedding day. It also -can help reimburse losses such as the cost of no-show vendors, closed reception venues, damaged wedding dresses and even stolen photographs. A few additional tips for protecting yourself financially when planning your wedding include: 1. Pay by credit card when possible Credit cards offer protection that cash and check payments do not, so it's a smart idea to pay with one -if you can. Keep in mind that the Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to dispute charges on your credit card that are incorrect or for goods or services you never received. 2. Understand all contracts Before signing any contract, read and understand all the fine print. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If something in the contract makes you uncomfortable, see if it can be adjusted. Areas to note include fees, deposits and penalties, as well as your rights if the vendor does not complete contracted responsibilities.

3. Consider hiring an accredited wedding planner Wedding planners are an additional expense, but the expertise they provide can actually save you money that may surpass that cost. A good wedding planner will know the industry inside and out, and therefore be able to get you the best deals. They also know what is typical when it comes to contracts and can help you keep track of all the details of the big day so you can try to relax. Your wedding day is likely to be perfect, but just in case something happens, a few simple steps prior will protect your financial and emotional investment. From insurance to contracts to credit cards, thinking ahead will help ensure everything is wonderful no matter what.

10. Enjoy! This is perhaps the most important step of all. Don't forget to enjoy the experience of planning this memorable day and enjoying the company of your guests. Take pictures, sample cakes, pick out flowers and remember these moments and the beautiful destination you selected.

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The Albany Herald

Tuxedo purchasing pointers

Courtesy of METRO CONNECTION

Gentlemen getting ready to tie the knot will have to make certain wardrobe choices so they look their best on their big day. Although many grooms-tobe rent tuxedos on their wedding day, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a tuxedo. Tuxedos are the ultimate formal wear for men. Worn at formal gatherings like proms, weddings and lavish parties, tuxedos have undergone several style changes over the years. Men interested in looking polished will find no option makes that impression more convincingly than the right tuxedo. Men frequently called upon to attend formal events may find purchasing a tuxedo is a wise investment. There are several advantages to owning a tux rather than renting one time and again. Tuxedos typically cost around $1,000, whereas renting tuxedos can be $200 or more each time, making it advantageous for men who frequently don tuxedos to purchase their own rather than rent. Another advantage to owning a tuxedo is the opportunity to wear a tux that is custom-made and tailored just for you. Instead of a rental that will merely be stitched temporarily to fit your measurements, a tuxedo you purchase will be tailored specifically to your body, increasing comfort and making you look better as well. Men who buy their own tuxedos also can choose the style, fabric, color, buttons, accessories, and type of lapels on the jacket. A tuxedo store may have more styles available for sale than for rent. If you desire something that fits your personality and your physique perfectly, buying your own tuxedo may be your best bet. Men worried about purchasing a tuxedo only to see their waistlines increase or decrease should keep in mind that many tuxedo shops offer free tailoring for as long as you own the tuxedo. When purchasing a tuxedo, men should choose classic styles and colors so they can enjoy the tux for years to come. Opt for a slim-fitting white shirt underneath that won't billow out when jackets are removed. Men who want to break from tradition can opt for a shirt that is a pale blue or light gray to wear under the jacket. This is still an understated look, but one with a hint of creativity. A classic, black bow tie is an ideal match when purchasing a more classic tuxedo. The bow tie is back in a big way, and men who want to spice things up can purchase more traditional neckties for those occasions when they don't want to wear bow ties. Tuxedos come with different lapel styles, and it's important to know the differences. Today's most popular style is the notch lapel, wherein a triangular indentation is cut where the

Friday, February 21, 2014

www.albanyherald.com

How to stay energized throughout your wedding day Courtesy of METRO CONNECTION

lapel joins the collar. This lapel mimics the shape of a classic suit. A peak lapel is the quintessential classic, featuring a broad, V-shaped lapel that points up and out just below the collar line. A shawl lapel is a smooth, rounded edge lapel. The shawl lapel reached the height of its popularity in the 1950s, but it can still look good today.

Tuxedo History The origins of the modern tuxedo remains a topic for debate, but one of the more widely known tales of the tuxedo's beginning traces this classic look to a wealthy tobacco magnate of the 19th century. Pierre Lorillard lived with his family in a residential colony called Tuxedo Park, which was roughly 40 miles northwest of New York City. The Lorillards were popular in social circles, and Pierre helped establish the area as a prime hunting and fishing destination. Lorillard also developed a social organization called the Tuxedo Club, which regularly hosted balls. At the time, men wore dinner jackets with long tails to formal events. However, Lorillard wanted something different and modern, and he commissioned a tailless black jacket to wear to the Tuxedo Club's Autumn Ball. Lorillard got cold feet in time for the ball and did not wear the shorter jacket. However, his son, Griswold, did wear the short jacket and received much praise. Soon the style was copied and worn in various social circles across the country. The "tuxedo" was born, and soon became a timeless classic.

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A couple's wedding day is the culmination of months and months of planning. For most, it is one of the most memorable, magical days of their lives, filled with fond moments of time spent with close friends and family. As enjoyable as a wedding can be, most brides and grooms who have already tied the knot can attest that a wedding is a long, often tiring day. It is very easy for energy levels to wane. To ensure you have enough energy to last through to the final good-bye of the evening, follow these suggestions to remain energized. * Recognize your wedding day is a very long day. It's possible to rise quite early in the morning to begin prepping with makeup, hair styles, wardrobe and more. If the party is an evening reception, it could last until the wee hours of the morning. You may find yourself up for nearly 24 hours, when the cameras will be flashing and the video rolling throughout. Naturally, you'll want to look your best throughout. * Get a good night's sleep the night before. Get to bed early the night before so you will get ample sleep and look rested. It is understandable that nerves and excitement may get the best of you and make it difficult to fall asleep. If you often grow anxious and struggle to fall asleep before big events, talk to your doctor prior to the wedding to ask if you can be prescribed a one-time-only sleeping pill that will ensure you get to sleep promptly. Do not take this medication with alcohol, and be sure to take it only if you can get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Otherwise you may experience medicine hangover. * Enjoy a hearty breakfast. At breakfast on the morning of your wedding, consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein. The carbs will provide the initial burst of energy you need to get going, and the protein will keep you feeling full. A combination of whole wheat toast, fresh fruit and Greek yogurt makes for a filling start to the day. * Stay hydrated. Although drinking a lot of water can result in more frequent trips to the bathroom -- which can be

cumbersome for brides wearing their gowns -- it is essential to stay hydrated. Dehydration can result in headaches, weakness and dizziness and may make you feel cranky. Be sure to consume water throughout the day. * Pack some snacks. The time between breakfast and the cocktail hour of a wedding may be significant. In your wedding "survival" kit, be sure to pack some easy snacks to eat. Trail mix can be nibbled for a boost of energy, and a banana can take the edge off of hunger pangs. Avoid anything messy that can drip onto clothing or get stuck in your teeth. Arrange to have snacks stowed in the limousine or another mode of transportation so that you can refuel on the way to the ceremony or in transit to the reception. * Don't overdo it with caffeine. It may be tempting to lean on an energy drink or a super-size cup of coffee to give you the boost you need. But caffeine is only a temporary fix. After the effects of the caffeine wear off, you could find yourself more tired than before and crash at an inopportune time during the day. Instead, a brisk walk outdoors may recharge your batteries. Afterward, time spent on the dance floor enjoying the reception will likely stimulate some adrenaline to keep you going. * Eat dinner. When family is beckoning and the photographer needs to get yet another pose, it is easy to skip dinner. Be firm with your decision to enjoy your meal. After all, you paid for it and it should not go to waste. Besides, sitting down to dinner enables you to rest and absorb the atmosphere of the wedding. * Continue to drink plenty of water throughout the night. Alcoholic beverages may be flowing, but too many spirits can compromise your energy levels. Be sure to balance the booze with hydrating fluids, such as water or juice. Weddings take up the entire day, and it can be easy to succumb to a lack of energy as the day progresses. But by heeding a few tips, it's possible to remain in top form throughout the entire wedding day.

Choosing the right wedding reception favors Planning a perfect wedding is no small undertaking. From scheduling venues and hiring vendors to tasting menus, lots of decisions must be made when planning a wedding. But when the pieces fall into place, the entire day can be magical. One of the final components of weddings are the favors guests will take home with them as mementos of the festivities. Though favors don't require immediate attention, that does not mean couples should wait until the last minute to made decisions regarding their wedding favors. Brides- and grooms-to-be should not underestimate the importance of handing out wedding favors, a tradition with a rich history. A wedding favor is considered a symbol of good will to guests, and there are many different wedding favors on the market. Finding the right one can take a little work. It is usually a good idea to find something that suits the theme of the wedding and is both long-lasting and practical. Try to avoid anything that is too kitschy. A couple's budget should be considered when choosing wedding favors. A couple may want to give their guests lavish gifts but should only do so if their budget allows. It may be challenging for couples to find favors that fit the theme of their wedding, as well as their own personalities and budgets. But it can be done. The following are some favor-finding guidelines. Be creative Wedding favors can be just about anything, so there's no need to stick to Jordan almonds or wine bottle stoppers. The more creative couples are, the more receptive their guests will likely be. For example, for an autumn-

theme wedding, fill mason jars with the ingredients for a spiced cake and give the recipe directions on a tag. For a summer wedding, gift guests with a sun and surf survival bag, full of sunblock, a beach towel and sunglasses. Complete the theme Some weddings follow a particular theme from start to finish, and wedding favors should stick with that theme. Couples who will showcase their love of travel on their wedding days may want to give guests keychains or purse holders that feature popular landmarks around the world. Those who are admitted beach bums may want to present a small fishbowl with sand and a goldfish inside, reminiscent of days at the seashore. Go traditional Couples who opt for universally appealing favors can lean toward some popular options, such as silver cake servers, candlestick holders, decorative photo frames, or engraved keepsake boxes. Aim for favors that have utility. Otherwise, favors may end up collecting dust on someone's shelf. Food and beverage gifts are fun Food favors mean guests can enjoy their gifts and not have to worry about finding space inside their homes to display trinkets. Food favors can be lavishly decorated cookies, fine chocolates, petit fours, small bottles of champagne or cupcakes decorated like the wedding cake. Favors are often integral to wedding celebrations. Selecting a favor that will be appreciated and fit with the wedding is often a fun and stress-free part of planning a wedding.

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The Albany Herald

www.albanyherald.com

Friday, February 21, 2014


Bridal Expo 2014