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January 28, 2011


2 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Life of the party or problem children? Whether to invite children to your wedding or not

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hould kids be invited to the wedding? That’s a major dilemma for a bride and groom. Couples can weigh the pros and cons of the situation, but there’s no right answer. “It’s a really sticky topic,” said Peggy Post of The Emily Post Institute. She called the kids-at-the-wedding debate “one of the hot-button issues of wedding planning.” At a recent wedding coordinated by Kimberly Pilson of the Wedding Sitter, the bride and groom honored the groom’s 6-year-old daughter throughout the wedding. They incorporated fun with a butterfly release at the ceremony and potato sack races at the reception. “They did so much because the kids were such a part of their lives,” said Pilson, who doesn’t see children often at weddings. “Children bring an element of surprise to an otherwise very

controlled day,” said Cathleya Schroeckenstein, editor-inchief of the blog “Weddingbee.” “To many time- and detail-oriented couples, adding an element of unknown to the day is nerve-racking.” That wild card chance of a disruption dissuades lots of couples from inviting kids to the wedding. Also, even if the children are well-behaved, it’s often tough for the kids’ parents to relax and have a good time. Still, there are advantages to inviting kids to a wedding. “Children often are the high-

light of many wedding ceremonies,” Schroeckenstein said. “Nothing quite evokes ‘aw-w-’ as much as an adorable troupe of flower girls and ring bearers. They’re often a huge part of our families, and many couples can’t imagine celebrating their day without the children who mean so much to them. And children are often the first on the dance floor and the life of the party.” Couples who don’t want kids at their weddings need to be careful with their invitations. “It’s still considered not a great idea to write ‘No Chil-

dren, Please,’” said Post, who thinks it’s more effective not to include the kids’ names on the invitations. She also recommended that brides and grooms follow up with guests who have children, reminding them that kids are not included at the wedding. “Be really careful of making exceptions,” Post warned. “If you make exceptions, it can backfire.” Dealing with upset friends and family members can be tough, but brides and grooms need to be firm. Continued on following page


Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 3

Life of the party or problem children? Whether to invite children to your wedding or not Certainly, children can be at the wedding if that’s what the couple want. And it’s okay not to include children if people prefer. Peggy Post The Emily Post Institute

invite children, make sure they feel welcome,” Schroeckenstein said. “Happy children make for some of the best wedding guests.” Generally, kids older than 12 are okay to invite to the wedding because they’re mature enough to handle the events without acting out. If children of any age are invited to a wedding, Pilson said they should dress up. Boys should wear long-sleeve shirts and pants, and girls should wear dresses. Continued from previous page

“If someone tries to bully their way, be very gracious and say, ‘It’s a shame you feel this way. We hope you can join us,’” Post said. Many times, the only children at the wedding are members of the wedding party or close family members. Brides and grooms inviting kids to the wedding should be prepared with entertainment for the little guests, e.g., snacks, toys and books. In some instances, “couples will hire baby sitters to watch the children,” Post said. The sitter will entertain the children

with coloring books and games, allowing the parents to cut loose and enjoy the wedding. “If you invite a sitter, make sure to seat parents somewhere where they have a good view of the kids’ table,” Schroeckenstein said. “That way, they can have peace of mind that their kids are happy and safe while they’re enjoying the wedding.” Other times, guests will bring baby sitters to chauffeur the children. “The kids stay for the ceremony and the cocktail party and then go home with the sitter,” Pilson said. “Above all, if you choose to

A bride and groom should coordinate with their planner and their caterer for kids’ meals. A popular entree for kids is gourmet macaroni and cheese, which runs about $20 to $30 per child. Food and activities aside, the decision to include or exclude kids is up to the bride and groom. “Certainly, children can be at the wedding if that’s what the couple want,” Post said. “And it’s okay not to include children if people prefer.”


4 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Set a gorgeous guest table

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d re a m re c e p t i o n comprises color, and when those ballroom doors swing open, your guests, seating cards in hand, will be dazzled by the color and design of the guest tables. Centerpieces have long been the eye-catcher on tables, but now the trend is for the entire tabletop design to impress your guests, and with the inclusion of modern, unique place settings and stemware, you can make it look as if you spent a lot of money creating your tabletop look. Keep in mind that the elements of your tabletop - the plates, stemware, flatware and linens - are right up close to your guests. They’re touching them and using them - not just looking at them from a distance, as they would other décor elements. So the details of each part of your tabletop design give you the opportunity to create the same kind of wow factor found at celebrity weddings and spotlight receptions seen in your favorite magazines. Ask your site manager about

the availability of different shapes and sizes of tables. Long tables allow for larger groups of guests to dine family-style and be extra-social. Add a splash of color to your long dinner table with a gorgeous table runner in place of traditional white linens. “Give your table that special wow factor by adding a table runner with beading, jewels, bold designs or texture,” said event coordinator Courtney Kern. Table runners in bold or pastel colors also can be used on traditional round tables, especially runners created from shimmery fabrics, which give a luminescence to tabletops centered or accented with candlelight. As mentioned, the “usual” white tablecloths of yesteryear are being replaced by colorful tablecloths (and napkins), which you can request from your site’s portfolio of shades or even bring in as rentals. According to the Wedding Report, the top trends in table linen colors are warm shades, as well as bright and bold shades, with 13.6 percent of couples choosing blue as their primary

color scheme this season. According to Kern, the hot color combinations for weddings this year are turquoise and orange, navy and coral, yellow and gray, and pink and gray. Neutrals, such as gray and the everpopular tan, play a large part in warming up color schemes for wedding design, and these colors now give depth and detail to tabletop design. Karen Bussen, entertaining expert and author of seven books on weddings and entertainment said, “My recommendation is to choose three or fewer dominant colors on your tabletop to achieve the most powerful visual punch.” Bussen said that fashionable black and white are back, with a strong accent color, such as fuchsia. “Sunset colors are still hot, and yellow is making more of an appearance in bouquets and receptions,” Bussen said. Bussen said that mixing china patterns for plates is a hot trend to give visual appeal, and colorful charger plates set beneath white or ivory plates are back for a punch of color to coordinate with table linens and the centerpieces. Reception site managers say that square plates create a modern, fun look, especially for afternoon formal weddings, and that uniquely shaped appetizer and salad plates, such as rounded triangles and ovals, are in demand. Goblets with some color in their stems - whether it be hot pink or elegant black - add appeal to the lineup of stemware, and flatware with intricate swirled designs laser cut into the metal give the impression of higher-end place setting tableaux. “Small details are hot, so add gold- or silver-edged dinnerware or drinkware,” said Kern, who also suggested unique serving spoons and skewers for those specialty menu items. Specialty napkin rings also add unique detail to a place setting, and some brides even are crafting their napkin rings themselves, incorporating color and glued-on accents, such as crystals and gemstones or wedding-themed items, such as tiny silk butterflies. “We are regularly designing variations on centerpieces that feature more candles and fewer blooms,” Bussen said. “These glowing arrangements are romantic and budget-friendly.” Kern agreed, suggesting lots of carefully placed clusters of

colored candles. Bussen completes your fabulous tabletop with one of her top secrets: “The more texture on the tabletop the simpler the color palette.” And she added that a retrochic take on eclectic, vintageinspired looks is a hot trend. “Lace is back, and I love it! Whether used as a full-length tablecloth, a topper or an accent on napkins or even the cake, lace is making a fashionable appearance at weddings.” And of course, brides and grooms encourage their guests

to take fun and candid photos by placing disposable cameras at the center of each table. While this trend continues, a new trend has popped up. This wedding season, it’s all about the shoot-and-share Wi-Fi video camera. Weddings are social events, and the video camera gives guests the ability to shoot and instantly share footage from your wedding on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. And it’s so easy even Grandma can do it. Look for these at weddings everywhere.


Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 5

An open bar isn’t the only option

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osting an open bar at your wedding reception means a good time for guests, but there are special considerations. “Beverages are regularly a sticking point because it can blow a budget if people aren’t careful,” said wedding planner Melinda Massie. “An open bar keeps guests around longer and enhances a party atmosphere, but costs can quickly get out of hand.” Reception venues generally require that you use their bars and staffs when serving alcohol. They provide the drinks, accouterments and bartenders, but the service comes at a high cost. “You do not pay liquor-store prices for the alcohol they serve. You generally pay bar prices,” said wedding coordinator Marilee Karamanski, celebration specialist and owner of Planned Spontaneity. Venues typically offer two options: package pricing and consumption pricing. With package pricing, couples pay set fees per guest upfront, regardless of how much guests drink. “If your event has a majority of guests who are big drinkers, then package pricing is pretty fair,” Massie said. “If you have a lot of nondrinkers, then consumption costs are a better option.” With consumption pricing, couples only pay for what their guests actually order, but be forewarned that guests may waste drinks, which can cause costs to skyrocket. If someone tries a Manhattan cocktail and doesn’t like it or forgets a cocktail on the dance floor, you’re footing the bill. The venue also may charge an hourly rate for the staff and licensed bartender. There are also liability issues to consider. “Precautions need to be used to ensure that people do not drink too much or that underage guests don’t drink,” Massie said. “Usually the venue or catering company handles liability issues because it’s their license at stake.” However, every venue is different, and laws vary by municipality, so be sure to inquire ahead of time. A few questions to ask: -Who is responsible for cutting off guests who’ve had too much to drink? -Are you responsible for providing transportation so guests get home safely? -What assurances do you have that minors will not be served

alcohol? -Do you need a rider on your homeowners insurance policy to protect yourself? “Regardless of what the arrangements are, you should make sure you are using a licensed bartender and have insurance that covers both you and the venue should the unthinkable happen,” Karamanski said. An open bar is sure to please, but your choice in alcoholic offerings won’t make or break the evening. A few frugal options: Cash Bar - Opinions vary when it comes to cash bars. It all depends on your guest list. On one hand, you wouldn’t charge your guests for a drink in your home, so why do it on this most special of days? On the flip side, guests are likely to empathize with your need to budget, and many don’t mind footing a portion of the bill to have a good time. “You can also offer an open bar for a limited time frame - for example, the cocktail hour before dinner - and then switch to a cash bar for the remainder of the evening,” Karamanski said. Many couples choose to donate the proceeds to a favorite charity, which helps ease the illusion of “cheapness” that can be associated with a cash bar. Signature Style - To save money without sacrificing style, many couples are turning to signature drinks. “The cool thing about using a signature cocktail is that in some ways, it’s more elegant than an open bar, but it’s significantly less expensive,” Karamanski said. The options are endless.

Mixed drinks, such as margaritas or screwdrivers, sangria punch, spiked cider - all taste great and make a statement. “Specialty cocktails really help enhance the atmosphere and are an opportunity for the couple to

show off their unique personality while giving guests something special,” Massie said. Choose a drink that complements your color palette. Give it a fancy name that fits the theme, and serve it with style. For ex-

ample, you could use unusual glassware, add sugar rims or dress up the punch bowl with floating fruit. Just A Toast - Serve a simple glass of champagne for toasting to help cut costs. Better yet, serve a champagne punch or a less expensive sparkling wine, such as Prosecco. Many people don’t like champagne, so a slight variation from tradition can be a welcome surprise. No alcohol - There’s no rule that says you must serve alcohol at your reception. If it isn’t in your budget, don’t be afraid to buck the trend. “You may take a little heat for stepping that far outside the box if you choose to host a dry reception, but you should really look to your values and how you want to use your resources when making your wedding decisions,” Karamanski said. “By all means, if you’re excited about having an open bar and it fits into your budget, do it. On the other hand, it’s pretty expensive for something you’re ambivalent about,” Karamanski said.


6 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Big-day tips from wedding professionals

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ven if you just got engaged, chances are you’ve been planning your wedding for a long time. You know what you want to wear, the menu for the reception and your first dance song. Still, you might not even think about some of the planning tips wedding professionals want to share.

Look for quality

Don’t just hire the first wedding vendor you meet. Be choosy to get the best options for your event. “Find quality vendors who know what they are doing,” said operations coordinator Beth Outman. “Take the time to research them and ask for references. Once you have quality vendors, it will make planning the party a piece of cake!”

Set a budget

Outman also recommends “creative planning” through Web resources to help figure out your budget.

“There are many great tools out on the Web right now, at the Knot, WeddingWire, etc.,” she said. “Experiment with these tools to get an idea of how best to allot the money available. Take these budgets and the estimates provided by the vendors you’re speaking to and see how they are comparing.”

Get a sneak peak

Check out entertainment professionals before you hire them. “See how they act and how they carry themselves,” said Peter Merry, author of the new book “The Best Wedding Reception ... Ever!” “Get a taste of the people, their skills and capabilities,” said Merry, who recommended watching unedited video of the entertainers in action. “The biggest thing to know is you’re hiring entertainment, not just music,” Merry said. “You need to think about the person on the mic, the master of ceremonies.”

Prioritize your day

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” said photographer Laura Parker. “I tell them they need to prioritize what the three most important things are to them, She finds that most couples already know what they want.

Be a good communicator

You need to feel comfortable with your wedding vendors and be able to communicate with them. Ask your vendors how they prefer to communicate with you. Outman said she prefers Continued on page 8


Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 7

Who picks up the tab for the big day?

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gown, shoes, a venue, music, transportation and food. Yikes! Weddings are expensive. According to the Wedding Report, the average wedding costs $23,867. Paying for all the details of the day definitely adds up, so who’s picking up the bill? It used to be that the bride’s parents almost always paid for the whole wedding, but that’s changing. “The biggest change I’m seeing is in the age of engaged couples,” said Meaghan Schmaltz, a we d d i n g a n d event planner for Weddings Ma d e Sp l e n did. “The average age of an engaged couple is now 28 years old, whereas 10 years ago, it was 23 years old. Today’s ‘average’ engaged couple is now, oftentimes, self-sufficient enough to host their own wedding.” Schmaltz said half her brides and grooms have paid for their own weddings; 38 percent of weddings are paid for by the bride’s parents; and 12 percent of couples split the costs them-

style.” Weddings are not so cookiecutter these days, and that means couples have the freedom to do things their way. They can spend their wedding budgets any way they want. Some couples may hire a band to rock the reception; others may focus on creating a tasty and memorable menu. “They are working harder to find the deal that will fit their budgets to achieve their wedding day priorities, whereas in the past, the wedding budget seemed a bit more ‘bottomless’ when the parents were hosting the events,” Schmaltz said. Wedding budgets vary from couple to couple, but the need for a budget is universal. The wedding reception including food, alcohol and staffing - is the biggest expense, often taking more than half of a couple’s budget. “I ask couples to talk about their wedding priorities and to define what these priorities are,” Schmaltz said. “For example, if a couple say that their priority is ‘food,’ I ask them to be specific. Are they look-

selves and with both the bride’s and groom’s parents. When a bride and groom pay the bill, they get to take charge, too. “By hosting their own wedding, a couple can make important personal decisions regarding style, theme and

guest count, whereas when parents hosted the weddings in the past, the parents’ wants were a larger consideration,” Schmaltz said. “As a result, I’m seeing a larger focus on a couple’s personal tastes, whether it’s through theme, meal selection or ceremony

ing for an out-of-this-world display of hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour? Or are they looking for the best cut of filet mignon for the entree course?” When it comes to honeymoon relaxation, couples also are picking up the check more often these days. “I definitely don’t see Mom and Dad pitching in,” said travel planner Ann Petronio. “I mostly see the bride and groom paying for the honeymoon themselves. It’s not just the groom’s responsibility. It’s the bride and groom together.” Petronio said she sees a range of budgets but finds that couples are willing to spend money for a nice honeymoon. “Five thousand dollars is a good average,” she said. “That’s higher than a normal trip. They definitely are willing to spend more on a honeymoon.” Europe has become a popular honeymoon destination, especially for its sightseeing. Continued on following page


8 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Big-day tips from wedding professionals

Continued from page 6

e-mail. “It allows both the bride and vendor to have written documentation of discussions for future reference. (It) also allows both the flexibility of sending at any time of day or night.” Let your vendors know how frequently you want to be in touch, and find out how soon they’ll get back to you.

Take charge

Parker suggests brides and grooms check out vendor reviews from recent newlyweds. “Reviews are the biggest new virtual marketing hiring tool for brides and grooms,” she said. Don’t wait a long time to make a decision. The longer you wait the smaller your chances are of getting the vendor you want.

Deal with stress

Wedding stress is inevitable for most brides and grooms. Whether you exercise, take power naps or get a massage, find a way to work through your stress. Outman recommended delegating planning tasks to your parents and taking a break from wedding planning for a date night.

Avoid sparkles

Parker said she advises brides to stay away from shiny, glittery makeup. “I’m not a fan of glittery makeup because it sparkles in photos and needs to be Photoshopped,” she said. Parker also suggested professional makeup. “I’m a big fan of eyelash extensions. They’re spectacular.” Parker said. “Professional makeup is exceptional.”

Be prepared

“Fun doesn’t just happen,” said Merry, who reminded brides and grooms to focus on the wedding they want to have. “It requires planning and preparation.” “Most couples want to make the wedding unique to them,” Merry said. “They want to make sure what they’re delivering feels like them.”

Maximize photo opportunities

“Shooting engagement photos is a getting-to-know-you session,” said Parker, who uses these sessions to teach grooms how to dip the bride. She also suggested that couples enjoy their first kiss. Holding the kiss for a moment should result in great kiss photos, but Parker said there’s more to it: “This kiss sets the tone for the rest of your marriage.”

Who picks up the tab for the big day? Continued from previous page

But all-inclusive resorts are trendy, too. “All-inclusive is always a popular honeymoon choice, especially because you know the budget ahead of time,” Petronio said. Paying for the trip doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. Some couples pay upfront when they book the trip; others book travel options that require payment within 60 days of travel; and other couples set up a payment plan with a travel agent. Every wedding decision has a price tag. The person paying the bill gets to decide what is and what is not a wedding must-have. Schmaltz suggested setting and sticking to a budget, researching the true price of products and services, and getting details in writing. “Get contracts in writing from every vendor that outline the full costs of products and services to avoid nasty financial surprises at the end of the event,” she said. Plan your day your way, but do your best to avoid unnecessary wedding debt.


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& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 9


10 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Choosing the perfect honeymoon location

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our honeymoon is the romantic vacation of a lifetime, a dream getaway filled with unforgettable moments and adventures. The world is filled with gorgeous resorts, island escapes and overseas dream destinations, each offering unique indulgences and breathtaking scenery. How do you choose the right location for your honeymoon? The following 10 steps will help you select your dream getaway spot. 1) New or not new. Would you like to honeymoon at a destination that neither of you has visited before so that the experience is an entirely new adventure for both of you, or would you like to revisit a destination you’ve been to during your dating era? Going back to the first resort you vacationed at together creates an excitement that you’re returning as a married couple. 2) List your dream destinations. Where have you always dreamed of going? Costa Rica? Hawaii? Tuscany? Very often, a honeymoon site choice is a lifelong dream come true,

someplace distant and exotic that always has been on one’s wish list. 3) Talk to recent honeymooners. Your recently married friends will be happy to recommend the stunning and sensational resorts where they honeymooned, and they can recommend activities for you to try. Firsthand experience is often more reliable than reviews posted on websites. 4) Check out recent awards. Outstanding resorts often are named to best-of lists, and one of the most popular websites for finding the world’s best locales is Travel + Leisure’s website (www.TravelAndLeisure.com). Search for “world’s best” and you’ll discover many different categories, including the best beaches and the best small resorts, as voted by the magazine’s well-traveled staff. 5) Check out destination wedding magazines. Find the most recent issues to read about the hottest island resorts and learn the editors’ most recommended locales. Editors are invited to some of the best destinations in the world, and their travelogues offer insiders’ secrets to booking the perfect packages and extras. 6) List the activities you’d enjoy most. The ideal honey-

moon location for you probably isn’t just a gorgeous beach and crystal-clear blue waters. It most likely offers such adventures as snorkeling, scuba diving, tennis, massages on the beach, rain forest canopy tours, etc. Check resorts’ websites to see which amenities are free and which are not. 7) Think about travel time. How far away would you like to travel? Some locations can take more than a day to reach, and some require multiple flights and boat rides to reach. If you have less than 10 days for your honeymoon, would you like to spend two of those days traveling? Does traveling exhaust you? Perhaps a honeymoon locale situated closer to you would provide easier access and a quicker start to your vacation. Decide on a travel-time radius, and explore locales within that range. 8) Think about money. Some resorts and hotel chains are quite pricy by nature, and a week’s stay might cost as much as your wedding! Though many people are used to booking their travel plans online, a travel agent may be a wise resource for locating all-inclusive resorts that suit your budget and getaway wish list. Continued on following page


Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 11

Choosing the perfect honeymoon location Continued from previous page

9) Talk to your wedding coordinator. Wedding planners often arrange destination weddings at resorts near and far, and they also attend “familiarization trips” run by resorts to introduce wedding experts to their offerings. So your friendly wedding coordinator may suggest the perfect honeymoon

spot for you, seeing as she may have worked a wedding there last week. 10) Choose a safe locale. The State Department publishes a list of worldwide locations that are deemed unsafe for tourism, so adhere to its warnings list to avoid getting caught in civil unrest or being targeted for tourist crime.


12 • Community Advocate • Brides

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& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

reparing for a wedding ceremony may take just as much time as having a baby, said James Tramondo, wedding expert and host of the Style Network’s “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” “I tell all my clients that they need to start making personal improvements nine months ahead of the wedding date,” Tramondo said. “You need to start getting healthy and start planning for the big day.” But Tramondo warned: “You don’t want to change yourself completely. Forget about that. The man you marry, as well as your friends and family, do want to recognize you when you walk down the aisle.” He suggested setting a goal weight and working toward it in a realistic amount of time. Tramondo believes that brides-to-be should concentrate on being themselves and not fitting into a fantasy dress. “If you’ve always been a big girl, don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get into the best shape you possibly can, but

Prepping for the big day

I do know that quick diets do not work.” Instead, focus on making the best of your assets by scheduling fittings and finding the best dress for your cur rent bod y shape. “Make sure designers and stores have your size,” Tramondo said. “Some designers do not carry dresses in sizes bigger than size 10. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. So don’t get your heart set on a dress you see in a magazine.” Tramondo also suggested taking the appropriate undergarments with you when you go for a fitting. “The right undergarments will definitely change the way your dress looks on you,” he

said. “And always make sure you can’t see your underwear through your dress!” Schedule hair and makeup sessions in advance, too, Tramondo said, preferably several so you can experiment with different styles. “Have your stylist do one updo and one

style where you wear your hair down. Then go out on the town or out on a date. Wear it for several hours, and if you end up with a headache, you’ll know that it’s not the right do for you. You have to be comfortable.” Tramondo also believes in

teeth whitening. “Several months out from your wedding, speak to your local dentist,” he said. But again, he warned not to overdo it. “You don’t want to do anything that will look too fake.” He also advised prospective brides to take it easy at the tanning salon. “If you are naturally pale and you start overdoing the tanning thing the week before your wedding, you will end up getting burned, and that is not a good thing,” he said. “If you’re going to tan, start gradually several months ahead of time, and do it in small intervals.” According to Tramondo, “stand-up” tanning booths may be the best way to achieve an all-over natural tan. “I think this 360-degrees method produces better results and more even tans,” he said. “Whatever you do, you don’t want to look orange, and you definitely don’t want to use a tanning product that will rub off on your dress.” And the bottom line, said Tramondo: “Be at your best, but be yourself.”


Choosing how long it will be ’til your ‘I do’s’

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ou’ve got the guy and the ring. Now you need to pick a date and plan the wedding. If you’re like some brides, you already know when you want to get hitched. Other brides aren’t so sure. “Brides have on their minds when the wedding will be,” said Sara Morgan, director of marketing for Weddzilla, a social networking site for the wedding industry. “Then they go with that. It’s less about budget and more about timing.” So sit down with your fiancé and a calendar so you can pick a date and time to say “I do.” According to the Bridal Association of America, the average engagement is 17 months long. “The majority of our clients opt for approximately a yearlong engagement, plus or minus three months,” said planner Ashley Baber, noting that many engaged couples are working full time. Often, the decision to have a short or long engagement is tied to when the engagement happened. A Thanksgiving engagement could produce a New Year’s Eve wedding, but that would be a short turnaround. Some wedding days are more popular than others. Saturdays throughout the year are filled with weddings because most people don’t work on Saturdays. In many parts of the country, weddings are limited to certain times of the year because of extreme heat or cold. For example, Baber said spring and fall are popular seasons to get married

in the South. Holiday weddings, such as Labor Day weekend nuptials, can be fun because of extra days off from work, but remember to give guests advance notice of at least nine months. A short engagement has some positive attributes. “Some brides love the shortterm gratification,” Morgan said. “The bride pictures it her whole life and can’t wait to get it done.” Aside from the whirlwind of planning, there can be financial benefits, too. “One advantage of a shorter engagement is negotiating power,” Baber said. “A venue or vendor may be willing to offer discounted pricing if it has not already booked a date that is just a few months away.” With a short-term engagement, build flexibility into your plans. Limited vendor and services availability can be a problem. “Brides are finding that venues and churches are booked, especially in big cities,” Morgan said. According to Baber, another downside of a short engagement “is increased stress from making a lot of decisions in a short period of time.” With limited time, it can be a challenge to get the planning done. “I do not advise allotting much less than six months to plan a wedding unless the couple have a lot of time, motivation and, above all, the ability to be decisive,” Baber said.

Couples with long engagements have more time to research and book wedding vendors. Though wedding planning is always stressful, a couple planning long-term may have less to worry about at any given moment compared with a bride and groom planning a wedding on a quick timetable. Baber said most planning timelines found in books and magazines and on the Internet work around a one-year engagement. “So we tend to see a sense of comfort in couples that opt for roughly 12 months of planning time in knowing they are ‘on track,’” she said. But a long engagement can pose problems. “One of the few disadvantages of having more time to plan a wedding is that we will occasionally see couples start to second-guess their decisions food choices, flower colors, etc. - if given too much time to mull over the details,” Baber said. The economy is affecting the length of time couples are engaged. “We are seeing a slightly longer average engagement as many couples opt to financially contribute to their wedding or, in some cases, pay for the entire thing themselves,” Baber said. Whether you have a short or a long engagement, remember that it’s your wedding and the start of your new life together. So take a deep breath; pick a date; and plan the event on your terms.

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14 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

How guys are helping plan the wedding

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hen it comes to wedding planning, if you think your groom should just nod his head, agree with you and write a check, think again. Today’s grooms are more involved in wedding planning than ever before. Grooms even have their own planning resources, such as the website the Man Registry, which was founded by Chris Easter and his brothers-in-law Jimmy and Bobby Horner in March 2008. “Couples are getting older and spending their own money,” Easter said. “They’re really paying attention to money. If I’m spending my own money, it leads to more hands-on involvement.” Plus, Easter finds that more than ever, guys care about the wedding. “A new sense of manliness wants to tackle this,” he said, noting that marriage is a 50-50 split, so why shouldn’t wedding planning be split, too? “A guy can really have fun and learn a lot about the wed-

They’re really paying attention to money. If I’m spending my own money, it leads to more hands-on involvement. Chris Easter founder of The Man Registry website

ding process,” Easter said. From cakes to color schemes, a new groom is emerging, and he’s going to make his mark on his wedding. Just ask recent groom Jeff Kear. “I think guys want to have

more of a say in what goes on,” he said. “Women are asking guys to be involved, wanting to ask his opinion. They’re pitching in.” Between creating a guest list and coordinating activities and other wedding tasks, Kear, who

had a destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, realized planning a wedding is a lot of work. “One thing I learned about the whole planning process: It’s not easy!” Many brides are excited, if not relieved, to have the groom’s help. “I think it is great for a bride to have her groom take on some of the responsibilities and not have to solely do it by herself,” said wedding and event planner Kathryn Kalabokes. “It makes the bride calmer, and she feels that her husband-to-be really cares about her and the wedding.” Kalabokes said many of her brides and grooms are paying for the wedding. “They want to have more of a say in where the money will be allocated and what the wedding will look like.” Nowadays guys can get very involved in everything from

choosing the theme to hiring the florist. “It is natural for the groom to be interested in the food, bar and music, but I really like getting their input on colors, invitations and some personal touches that represent them,” Kalabokes said. “Sometimes their suggestions can make the bride cringe, but other times, they can have some really great input.” Although brides typically take the lead, Kear said more and more guys are interested in planning their weddings. “I’m starting to see it more and more.” He said brides and grooms are questioning traditional wedding roles and doing things their own way. “I think people have a lot of expectations of what it should be,” Kear said. “Throw that out, and make it what you want it to be. It’s your day. I think it should just be fun.”


Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011 • 15

occasional break). It costs less than a band; the songs still sound like the originals; and you get the upscale feeling a band provides.” Another twist on hiring both a DJ and live performers is having live musicians play during your cocktail hour and

dinner hour of the reception and then having a DJ take over for the dancing hours of the reception. Find professional entertainers to interview and audition through a wedding coordinator or friends’ referrals, or see them in action at free bridal expos.

DJ or band? The pros and cons

B

rides and grooms planning their wedding receptions know that it’s the music that makes the celebration unforgettable. With great entertainment, guests fill the dance floor and have the time of their lives, and the couple themselves dance to “their song” in a moment that’s captured forever on video. The big question facing these brides and grooms: Should we hire a disk jockey or a band? Both options have pros and cons. Music played by a DJ is instantly recognizable, with the celebrity singer’s voice filling the room. It’s almost as good as having Beyonce, Celine Dion, U2 and The Jackson 5 performing live for you. The artist versions you know - and that may have played a part in your love story, from the first date to the first mix you made for your partner to the songs played on the night you got engaged - become highlights of your reception. A band’s pros include that undeniable dynamic of the live performance, the energy a great group gives off as it blasts out a hit song, the vibration of the bass, the beat of the drums, the blare of the trumpet and the amazing collection of talented singers. A live band treats guests to a concert and creates an entirely different, charged vibe in the room. The DJ or band leader will act as your emcee for the event, introducing you into the room, interacting with guests and inviting them onto the dance floor, even inviting guests to spin music or sing. The personality factor of DJ versus band depends on the personalities of the professionals involved. So that part is evenly matched. Hiring the perfect entertainer revolves around the entertainer’s personality. The next consideration is the purse strings. A DJ almost always costs less to hire than a band. According to the Wedding Report, the average price of a DJ ranges from $800 to $1,000 for a four-hour package, which is approximately 30 percent of the cost of a live band. A band that is composed of 10 members obviously commands a higher booking price than a solo DJ. And don’t forget that each of your entertainers needs to be fed at the reception. Wedding experts advise that you should make your selection based on which option works

Mixing a DJ and a band - and not just having one or the other play at different times -is an option most couples forget to consider. Meredith Bodgas Glamour Magazine

best for the style of wedding you have in mind. Fran Hansen, author of “Our Wedding Wish Book & Keepsake Planner,” said, “Your typical DJ will have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of songs available. Your best options for entertainment should always include a large selection of musical styles.” A DJ, then, could play songs ranging from the top 40 and hip-hop music your younger crowd likes to Motown songs your parents’ generation likes to big band swing - and maybe even cultural music, such as polka. Bands filled with talented musicians and singers may have great range, as well, so have your wish list handy when interviewing potential bands. The first dance is an integral part of your decision. Stacie Ivers Francombe, founder and editor-in-chief of Get Married magazine said, “Something to take into consideration - your first dance. I went to a beautiful wedding that had a terrific band, but when the bride and groom started the routine that they had practiced for months - and mastered, with the help of a dance instructor - they could not make it happen. That’s because they had practiced with a CD of the song, and the band played in a slightly different beat.” The perks of both a DJ and a live band or musicians have inspired the latest trend: having both. “Mixing a DJ and a band and not just having one or the other play at different times -- is an option most couples forget to consider,” said Meredith Bodgas, wedding blogger for

Glamour magazine’s website. “Many entertainment companies will edit recorded song tracks and add the missing pieces back in with live musicians. The DJ and live musicians play together throughout the reception (except when the live musicians need the


16 • Community Advocate • Brides

& Bouquets • Friday, January 28, 2011

Wayside Inn brings new meaning to ‘Something Old, Something New’ By Doris Christelis Contributing Writer

PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM ABRAMS

PHOTO COURTESY OF TED FITZGERALD

Region - “Something old, something new” is an expression that’s taken to heart by many soon-to-be brides. The Wayside Inn in Sudbury has hundreds of years of experience at the “old,” as America’s longest continually operating inn, but they also have a lot of “new” to offer as well. The 295-year-old institution has a memorable ambience with its expansive grounds, historic atmosphere and distinguished hospitality, and now it’s presenting a spring bridal show to introduce prospective brides to all the “new” ingredients for a dream wedding. The Wayside Inn will be hosting the Wayside Inn Bridal and Fashion Show Sunday, April 3 from noon to 4 p.m. The event is presented by both Invidia Salon and Spa and the Frugal Flower of Sudbury. In addition to the rich history and charm that the Wayside Inn offers brides looking for the perfect setting for their big day, guests can meet and talk to many of the area’s top vendors

who have expertise in catering to the needs of soon-to-be-wed couples. Guests will enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and door prizes throughout the day, as they visit with vendors representing musical groups, transportation companies, florists, videographers, wedding planners and more. The Bridal Show will be located in eight rooms throughout the inn, including the Main Dining Room, Old Bar and 1800 Ballroom. The Bridal Fashion Show will take place between 3 and 4 p.m. at the Martha Mary Chapel. A short, scenic walk from the Inn, this landmark was built by boys attending the Wayside School for Boys in 1938 from timbers felled by the great hurricane of 1938. Named after the mothers of Henry Ford and his wife, Clara, this pictureperfect New England chapel is the perfect venue for a bridal fashion show, and of course, an unforgettable wedding. Shelby O’Connell, a co-organizer of the event, believes that it will be something special. “The Bridal Fashion Show taking place in an actual wedding chapel is something completely unique,” she said. “This show will allow brides to see a variety of gowns and men’s formal wear in a genuine wedding setting. Having models walk up and back down the aisle allows everyone to see the detail on the dresses and experience what their guests will be able to see as they walk down the aisle at their own weddings.” O’Connell, who is a professional wedding and event consultant, noted that the Wayside Inn Bridal Show will feature other elements not normally seen at a bridal show, such as the Inn’s charming “Horse and Surrey” ride. A horsedrawn carriage is often hired to transport brides, grooms and their guests from the Chapel to their favorite spot on the grounds for photographs,

and then back to the Inn for the newlyweds’ reception. The Wayside Inn was recently recognized by The Knot, a website dedicated to weddings, as one of the best locations in Massachusetts to have a reception. Melissa Striharsky, Event Sales Manager at the Wayside Inn, attributes this to the Inn’s ability to offer “one-stop shopping” to wedding couples. “In addition to the chapel, lovely gardens and grounds for the ceremony and photos,” Striharsky said. “We can offer indoor or outdoor receptions, first-class meals, and on-site lodging at the historic Wayside Inn or at our new boutique property just down the street, the Wayside Carriage House Inn.” The newly acquired and completely renovated Wayside Carriage House Inn will include a spa managed by the awardwinning Invidia Salon and Spa. “Weddings at the Wayside Inn hold a special place in the hearts of many families,” Striharsky said. She’s seen a number of brides whose grandmothers were also married at the Inn. “It has become a tradition in some families to hold family weddings here generation after generation.” The times may change, but the warmth and magic of the Wayside Inn endures. Due to the size of the quaint Martha Mary Chapel, there is limited seating for the first 140 guests who pre-register for the fashion show. Admission for the Wayside Inn Bridal and Fashion Show is $15 per person the day of the event. Event organizers encourage pre-registration online by March 31 in order to receive a 2-for-1 admission special. More information about the Wayside Inn Bridal and Fashion Show can be found at www.waysideinnbridalshow.com. The Wayside Inn is a 501(c)3 Massachusetts nonprofit organization.


Brides & Bouqets