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The right time

4 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010

By Ann Bailey

Herald Staff Writer

It wasn’t love at first sight for Elizabeth Elton and Scott Schumacher. Elton and Schumacher were freshmen at Concordia College in Moorhead when they met in 2005 on a double date, and busy with their own lives, weren’t interested in pursuing a relationship. “We just weren’t in the right place. It wasn’t the right time,” Elton said. “We stayed friends. We’d run into each other often. We just never romantically pursued anything with each other.” It was a different story, though, three years later when they met up again at Concordia College’s annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party. “We started a conversation… It was instant. I felt this connection with him,” Elton said. “We went to a local Cobber hangout and played pool and laughed all night. “We had so much in common

and he was such a genuinely sweet and kind person. Sparks were immediate and we never left each other’s sides after that.” For the next two years, the couple enjoyed attending UND hockey games, hanging out together with friends and going to movies. Meanwhile, Schumacher read to the elementary school class that Schumacher was student teaching and she attended his baseball games at Concordia.

Getting engaged

Two years later, Schumacher proposed. This past August Schumacher was playing a round at the Grand Forks Country Club when Schumacher asked Elton, who was sitting in the golf cart, to grab a ball out of his bag. When she reached in the bag to get the ball, Elton pulled out a box containing a diamond ring. She turned around to look at Schumacher who was on bended knee asking her to marry him.

Elizabeth Elton and Scott Schumacher were friends long before they decided to get engaged ■

“I was shaking with excitement,” she said. “It was an awesome experience. Schumacher’s parents, who were in on their son’s plan, were waiting at the edge of the green to take pictures of the engaged couple.

Right for each other

Elton and Schumacher both say they appreciate the kind qualities they see in the other. “She cares so much. She wants everybody around her to be happy,” Schumacher said. Her fiancé brings out the best in her, Elton said. “He makes me want to be a better person. He puts me first and he shows me each day how valuable I am to him.” Each half of the couple has different personalities that

complement one another, they said. “I’m Type A and he’s whatever is opposite of Type A,” Elton said. “She’s a planner and I’m not,” Schumacher said. Schumacher’s easy going personality puts her at ease, Elton said. “He brings a calm into my life.” The two lead an active lifestyle and enjoy biking, walking and running. They also have season tickets to UND hockey games.

Wedding plans

Since August, Elton a firstgrade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Crookston, has been busy making wedding plans. She and Schu-

macher will be married Nov. 26 in St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Thompson, N.D. Getting married on Thanksgiving weekend seems appropriate because she and Schumacher have many things for which to be grateful, Elton said. “We’re thankful that we found each other and thankful for the things we’ve been blessed with. We just really, through our relationship, have grown to appreciate our families.” They also are grateful that they both found jobs. Besides being an appropriate time because it’s near Thanksgiving, Nov. 26 is a good date because it works well with the schedule of Schumacher’s family. His parents are farmers and the crops should be in the ENGAGED: See Page 5

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Last-minute change of place? Don’t panic

Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010

By Alicia Chang

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Cassista expected that her 18month journey to the altar would include a few stumbles. A mixed-up order, perhaps. An incorrect size. A meltdown or two. She didn’t count on having to book a new venue less than three months before her May nuptials because her first choice closed down. Of all the troubles that can arise during wedding planning, having the location fall through at the last minute is perhaps the most trying. Couples tend to decide early where to tie the knot, and every other detail is linked to that. When a seemingly perfect spot unexpectedly evaporates before the big day, it sets off a domino effect.

Associated Press

 Sarina Chhay, center right, and Brian Harnett, center left, as they dance at their wedding reception at Radius in Boston.

Real-life stories of desperate brides abound on Internet message boards and vendor blogs. With many world economies weakened in the last few years, it’s not uncommon for restaurants or event spaces to go out of business, leaving couples in the lurch. Pre-wedding hurdles usually can be fixed in time, said Tampa, Fla., wedding planner Lauren Grove, who keeps the “Every Last Detail” blog. For couples who find themselves venue-less before the big day, the priority should be fighting to get the deposit back. Those who can’t need to rethink their budget when searching for a plan B venue, Grove said. “Hopefully the losses wouldn’t be too severe, and they would be able to reschedule VENUE: See Page 6


Continued from Page 4


bin by then. Schumacher, who works for RDO Equipment in Grand Forks, grew up near Thompson. Elton, of St. Cloud, describes herself as a “planner,” already has lined up a photographer and purchased her wedding dress. She and Schumacher each will have five attendants and hope to have family members provide the music for the wedding. Each of the couple have close relationships with their family. “We want to involve as many members and recognize them,” Elton said. “It’s about all of the people who helped us get to this point.” Reach Bailey at (701) 7876753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to

6 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010


Continued from Page 5

and have their dream wedding day,” she said.

Last-minute nightmare

Luck and resourcefulness saved the day for Cassista and her fiancé, Tom Bryan. They had thought they had found their dream ceremony site when they booked a resort lodge not far from where they lived in Ontario, Canada, in March 2009. During a walkthrough, the wedding coordinator gushed about an upcoming renovation to erect a new vowexchange site down by some rapids, complete with a lush garden and pew-style seating. Though the couple had to use their imagination, they trusted the resort to deliver. Things became suspicious when no one returned Bryan’s calls or e-mails when he asked for updates on the project. This past spring, he received a call from a resort front desk receptionist saying the place had gone bankrupt. Cassista and Bryan started dialing other venues on their short list. All were booked on their wedding date, May 29. “We were in desperation mode. It was like, ‘Oh my God, we have to do this all over again,’“ Bryan said. Bryan’s father, who sells computer touchscreens to restaurants, suggested Golden Beach Resort on the south shore of Rice Lake, east of Toronto. Cassista and Bryan weren’t impressed by the space’s web-

Associated Press

왖 Jennifer Cassista, right, and Tom Bryan as they dance during their wedding at the Golden Beach Resort on the south shore of Rice Lake, east of Toronto. site, but in desperation decided to check it out in person. Not only were the grounds better than the first place, but the dance floor was larger. An added bonus was that it was available the day they wanted, and was cheaper than the previous resort too. With the new venue locked in, the couple spent the next several weeks redoing invitations and notifying other vendors. Looking back, Cassista said, she was willing to change the wedding date if they didn’t find

a backup in time. “You just need to relax and roll with the punches. Things will happen in every bride’s planning,” she said. “Be levelheaded and try to figure it out.”

Making a bad situation good

Self-described foodies Sarina Chhay and Brian Harnett worked their connections to turn a pre-wedding near-disaster in their favor. The couple were set on holding their reception at Great

Bay restaurant, a seafood restaurant close to Fenway Park in Boston. But the economy had other plans. After six years in business, the restaurant was shuttered at the end of May 2009, three months before their wedding. They scurried to find a replacement, calling more than 20 places and visiting half a dozen, with zero luck. “There was a feeling of helplessness,” Chhay said. “I was losing sleep.” Harnett had an idea. As a last resort, he reached out to

Stacie Nelson Phone - (701) 739-2369 Email - R001533889

the restaurant’s events manager, who promised to check with the other sister restaurants to see if they could host their wedding. Fortunately, Radius, known for modern French cuisine, was available. The couple went with it since it was where they shared their first fine dining experience. In September, they celebrated their one-year anniversary there too, the chaos all but a memory. “It goes to show that you can plan a wedding in two months,” Harnett said. Both Cassista and Bryan, and Chhay and Harnett managed to get their money returned. Christina and Christoph Schumacher had a laundry list of things go wrong before they said their “I dos” in June 2008. Many couples worry about the weather not cooperating, but for the Schumachers Mother Nature unleashed a flood a week before their wedding in a small Indiana town, triggering a state of emergency. The state park where they planned to have their wedding was shut down because of lack of water, and it was unclear whether it would reopen in time. With no backup plan, the couple contacted several politicians and explained the situation. In the end, they were able to use a log cabin at the park for their ceremony, but the guest lodgings were off-limits. After saving the venue, they scrambled to find motel rooms for out-of-town guests. It rained on and off the day of the wedding, but the Schumachers managed to have their first dance and cake-cutting outside.

Do vintage because you love it, not to cut corners Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010

By Samantha Critchell

 A fur stole can give a more modern dress a vintage look as demonstrated at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier in New York. Some brides like the idea of a vintage or vintageinspired wedding gown.

AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK – There’s something romantic about the idea of a vintage wedding dress, with the wonderful stories it could tell. Maybe there’d be some delicate lace, too, or exquisite siren-worthy satin. Reality, though, isn’t always so pretty. Some vintage dresses are those perfect gowns you dream of, says Mark Ingram, CEO and creative director of Manhattan’s Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier, but others are too costume-y, too dated or, more likely, simply ill-fitting. “You can reach back to some vintage eras and look as contemporary as buying a new dress. But,” he says, “you have to consider your figure first and foremost. If the dress isn’t flattering to your figure type, just don’t go down the road.” Cameron Silver, owner of the Los Angeles couture vintage shop Decades, suggests these questions to ask – frankly – of yourself: Do you need to wear a bra? Do you have a boyish figure? An hourglass shape? What about your hips? All of these, he says, are factors in buying any wedding gown, but particularly those meant to fit women of previous generations. Silver, a resource for Hollywood red-carpet looks, also warns that finding a pristine white vintage dress can be hard, and that a good vintage dress, if it’s not an heirloom, can be more expensive than you’d think. Even with your grandmother’s dress, there could be pricey alterations. “Don’t do this because you think it’s the easy way out, or that it’ll be cheaper,” adds Ingram. “You have to want it – you have to want to have this look.”

Thrill of the hunt

But if you do find that ideal gown from yesteryear, Silver says, it’s a magical moment. He once sold a full Chantilly lace wedding gown by Chanel. “It was such a thrill,” he says. There was a more recent Olivier Theyskens for Rochas gown that practically brought tears to his eyes. (If you find a keeper, be ready to buy it right away – no wavering – because there’s not another one stuck in some in-


Associated Press

 Chunky beading and silk charmeuse fabric contribute to the vintage look of this Jenny Packham wedding dress at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier in New York.

Associated Press

Style, Elegance, Tradition

ventory closet.) If you’re partial to embroidery, look at gowns from the 1920s-’30s, while sultry, satin gowns come out of the ‘40s. Women with a full bust might look to the curvier ‘50s silhouette, says Ingram, WE TV’s “gown guru,” while minidresses of the ‘60s are cool, yet hard to pull off unless the event is casual or the bride prides herself an individualist. Silver says that’s usually the case with those who wear vintage. “This bride doesn’t want to look like everyone else.” Still, you can hit contemporary fashion trends. Something from the ‘70s, a little bohemian but sexy, too, is probably the hippest look going. The period to stay away from is, no surprise, the ‘80s, with its oversize pouffy shoulders and tapered sleeves. “Right now, the ‘80s looks so dated. Yes, 2030 years back is ‘vintage,’ but if you’re going back, that’s a bad period to dip into. No ‘Dynasty,’ not even Princess Diana,” Ingram says. “There could be a big trend back to the ‘80s if Kate (Middleton) wore it, but I can’t imagine that. It’s too big. The proportion was too big, and it wouldn’t look modern

VINTAGE: See Page 8

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8 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010


Continued from Page 7 now.”

Distinct eras

Associated Press

 This photo courtesy of wedding lighting designer Bentley Meeker shows lighting designed by Meeker at Billy Joel’s wedding in Centre Island, N.Y.

Lighting can transform a wedding space By Diana Marszalek

For The Associated Press

You’d be hard pressed to find a bride who doesn’t make flowers, centerpieces and tablecloths a priority when it comes to creating a certain mood for the wedding. But talk to wedding lighting designer Bentley Meeker – whose clients have included Chelsea Clinton and Catherine Zeta Jones – and he’ll tell you that simple tricks, such as changing the color of light bulbs, can create the desired ambiance more effectively then roses and fancy tablecloths ever could. “Wedding lighting is really about what people are always trying to do with their weddings, which is to create a certain vibe and atmosphere,” the New York City lighting pro said. “Say you’re going to do a wedding in your office, and you bring in flowers and the tables and you still have fluorescent lighting,” he said. “It will look like your office decorated for a wedding. “But if I came in and lit the office and didn’t do any other decorations, we would have

A bride’s goal often is a timeless look, since the photos will hopefully last a lifetime, but each era still has its signature, says Michael Shettel, designer of bridal brand Alfred Angelo. You might be best off with a classic silhouette, while adjusting embellishments and details to current tastes, he suggests. Wedding-gown trends don’t swing as quickly as ready-towear fashion, he explains: Of course, white always dominates the market and the overall vibe is fancy, but when you line them up, you’ll see differences in the size and types of pearls and beads, changes in popular lace patterns, hemlines going up and down. “You want to make it your own, while still honoring whoever wore a vintage dress before. ... Maybe you’d like to make it a little more low-cut, a little more fitted, maybe give it a fuller skirt,” Shettel says.

transformed that space.” for example – or using it to Diann Valentine, a Los Ange- completely change the feel of a les wedding designer and exroom. pert on the cable station Rainer Flor, who married Wedding Central, agreed that wife Candice last month at lighting should top brides’ decsinger Gloria Estefan’s Costa orating priority lists because it d’Este in Vero Beach, Fla., said “allows us to program the lighting effects enhanced the mood of an event.” “Miami chic” atmosphere they That might mean changing were looking for. With floor the intensity of light throughlights and strategically placed out a wedding – dimmer for 1220 421885 2x3 behls weddingguide:Layout 1 12/15/2009 1:48 PM LIGHTS: See Page 9 cocktails, brighter for dinner,

He also borrows from the past for new gowns. The tightbodice, tea-length ballgown, which “Mad Men” helped bring back in style, seems very fresh, Shettel says, and the asymmetrical neckline remains popular. Ingram says the best of both worlds might be vintage or vintage-inspired accessories on a new dress. “Add a fur piece – a shrug or a stole – and it looks vintage, even if it’s new, which probably means a better fit. The look could be 1910 or 2010,” he says. He also likes to add a beaded belt or sash, which also can give the illusion of a small waist, and carries that retro feel. There’s no reason, though, to go back in time for your beauty routine. “If you do a vintage wedding dress, your accessories, hair and makeup have to be incredibly modern,” says Decades’ Silver. “You don’t want to be the bride of Frankenstein. If the dress looks ‘period,’ you have to play against it in your styling – unless you have a Renaissance theme, and who does that?”

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Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010 9


The difference between escort and places cards

Continued from Page 8 LED lights, he said, the room, right off the beach, “looked almost like an aquarium.” Central Florida wedding planner Karry Castillo, who helped design the Flors’ wedding, said effects can range from simple spotlights on particular room features or decorations, to lighting motifs and patterns on walls, floors and ceilings. In addition, lighting effects can be relatively inexpensive, anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on complexity. “In many ways, lighting not only enhances the elements you have in place, but it can also give you a lot more bang for the dollar too,” Castillo said. Meeker is particularly fond of using pink and amber light bulbs, though he warns that those colors must be used cautiously (”There is ugly amber”). Dimmed incandescent light is another of his favorites. Particularly in closed rooms, he said, use lighting that’s appropriate for the setting – fixtures that can be absorbed into, rather than take over, the larger setting. “It has to look beautiful so when the guests walk in they lose their breath,” Meeker said. Make sure light isn’t so glaring – or dark – that it distorts or distracts from the wedding party. And choose soft, flattering colors to create a serene atmosphere, particularly by quelling strong lights. “Lighting can change so much that


Associated Press

왖 This photo courtesy of wedding lighting designer Bentley Meeker shows lighting designed by Meeker at the wedding of Melissa Rivers at New York’s Plaza Hotel. “Wedding lighting is really about what people are always trying to do with their weddings, which is to create a certain vibe and atmosphere,” the New York City lighting pro said. people really feel good about themselves,” Meeker said. Meeker sometimes works with crews 120 strong, and charges anywhere from $4,000 to $500,000 to custom light a wedding. But there is plenty that brides and wedding planners with more limited resources can do quite simply, he said. One cost-free suggestion: Dim the lights. “If you want to transform a space, you put everything on dimmers,” he said. Meeker says he dims lights somewhat darker than you’d expect (”Your eye adjusts”); whether you can see your shoes and laces clearly is a good barometer or whether

you’ve hit it right. Other wise advice: “Ask your mother or mother-in-law-to-be, and if it’s not too dark for her, there’s your atmosphere.”

Weddings are steeped in tradition. Many couples choose to follow etiquette and formal party rules when hosting one of the biggest days of their lives. An important aspect of each wedding is ensuring guests are comfortable. Part of this involves informing reception attendants where they will be seated at the dinner and festivities. Many people mistake escort cards and place cards as being one and the same. They are actually two different components. Escort cards indicate the table where guests will be seated, while place cards indicate which seat guests are assigned to.

Escort cards

Generally escort cards are displayed on a table outside

the reception or dining room. They may be arranged by themselves or more formally packaged within little envelopes. For ease of use, they should be organized alphabetically so that guests can easily recognize their names on the card. They can be worded as such: Mr. John Smith, for a single guest; Mr. & Mrs. John Smith, for a married couple; or Mr. John Smith & Guest, if the guest is unknown. It is considered more polite if the bride and groom inquire as to whom single guests will be bringing so that those people’s name can be used on the escort card as well.

Place cards

Place cards are used to indicate seats at each table. They will have each individCARDS: See Page 10

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More brides informing guests with wedding websites 10 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010

By Caryn Rousseau Associated Press

With friends and family headed to her California wedding from all over, bride-to-be Carrie Shields decided online organization was key. “Really the wedding website was one of the first things we did,” the 32-year-old public relations director from San Diego said. Shields is marrying fiancé R.J. Jones, 36, who was born and raised in Wales. Their April wedding in Napa Valley comes four years after they met through friends. “I knew people were going to have a lot of questions about m what to do and how to get there,” Shields said. “I wanted to make it fun and personal. I kind of jumped right on things because people were traveling so far.” Wedding experts at and its partner say this year’s annual survey found 64 percent of brides now have a website to share details with guests about ceremony and reception logistics, registry information and travel accommodations. Web companies exist that allow couples to host wedding sites for free while others charge a fee for access to fancier templates and tools. The page Shields created has a personal and creative flair. It features a blue and orange frame with a brown background. The happy couple smile from behind sunglasses on a beach. A counter below them lets visitors know it’s “151 until our wedding!” “A lot of the people coming over, they’ve never been to America,” Shields said. “I’m going to add a little bit about things to do in San Francisco, trying to take the guess work out of it.”

Associated Press

 Carrie Shields updates her wedding website at her home in San Diego. With friends and family headed to California from around the country and the United Kingdom for her upcoming wedding, Shields knew online organization was key.

Six months in advance

Experts at recommend that couples launch their website at least six months before the wedding date to give guests as much information as early as possible. WEBSITES: See Page 11



Continued from Page 9

ual’s name in front of the place setting at the table. They serve as a way to avoiding seating confrontations at the wedding. Couples and similarly related guests are often placed at the same table. Individuals who may have tense relationships may be separated. Place cards also may make it easier for wait staff to recognize specific people who may have dietary restrictions if informed in advance by the bride and groom. Escort and place cards do not necessarily have to be

“cards.” Creative couples can come up with clever ideas to display seating arrangements. At smaller weddings, it might be possible to hang escort cards on a ribbon or attach them to votive candles that serve as a favor for guests. For an outdoor wedding or a nature-themed event, use faux or real branches and cut slits in one side. When printing escort cards, do so on leaf-shaped paper and insert into the slits on the branches. Escort cards can also be fashioned into flowers that are attached to sticks planted in a flower pot. The ideas are endless.


Continued from Page 10

That allows enough time to make travel arrangements. WeddingWire also offers other online tools, including a program that lets guests RSVP directly from the website. Carley Roney, editor and founder of, said her site and together host more than 500,000 wedding websites for couples. “It’s a simple, easy way of communication,” Roney said. “It’s really like going to the website for a restaurant or a concert event. Everything is in one place.” That’s why more wedding website addresses are appearing in fancy fonts on the bottom of printed invitations. “You’re going to want to give the same information you always needed to have on an invitation: the name, location, time of event,” Roney said. But things like dress code or babysitting services can be saved for the website. Some sites let couples upload music or an audio track of their voices, video, animated graphics, or polls asking guests what songs to play or which appetizers to serve. To personalize her website, Shields added a “glossary” of Welsh and American words, and photos of the 20-member wedding party. Couples who choose to host their websites can choose from templates by high-fashion

designers like Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang. “You still want to make the investment in it to make it uniquely you,” Roney said. “Just like you do on the wedding day.”


■ Don’t assume your audience is only younger friends, and remember your etiquette. “You want to keep things ‘wedding and older people friendly,”‘ Roney said. “You don’t want to go on and on forever. You don’t want to put things like, ‘please ship our gifts to.’ Some of the etiquette that is wrong for wedding invitations is wrong for this too. To be making specific demands of your guests isn’t appropriate.” ■ Include your registry information. According to and survey, about 61 percent of guests find out where a couple is registered from their wedding website – a figure that has grown from 47 percent in 2008. “It really is becoming the absolute de facto way that guests are going to find out where you’re registered,” Roney said. “It used to be that brides were worried it was tacky, but it’s simply not tacky. It’s how it’s done now.” ■ Get the word out. Don’t just create and publish the website and assume everyone knows it exists. “Send the information directly to your guests,” sometimes more than once, Roney said. “You can’t assume that something you put on your website was acknowledged by all.”

Financial tips for costconscious couples

Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010 11


In a recent survey released by Visa Inc., 88 percent of couples believed they overspent on some aspect of their wedding. Over the years, weddings have become a major financial commitment, in many instances ensuring a couple’s first task as man and wife will be paying off the mountain of bills they accrued to achieved their dream wedding. In today’s economic climate, the cost of weddings is even tougher to swallow, as both the domestic and global economy remains difficult to predict. Economic uncertainty has left many young couples fearful of making a big financial commitment to their weddings. But it’s still possible for couples to make the most of their wedding without landing themselves in heavy debt once the honeymoon is over and the bills must be paid. ■ Limit beverage availability. In

the Visa survey, respondents felt they overspent more on food, drink and cake than any other aspect of their wedding. The bar tab can quickly add up at the end of the night, but couples can limit the bar expense by making on a few different types of drinks available. Offer just two or three drink options instead of a full bar. Couples can also consider a cash bar for mixed drinks to help lower the bar tab by the end of the night. ■ Switch fromSaturday. Saturday weddings are not only the most popular, but also the most expensive. Couples with some flexibility can save money by moving their wedding to a Friday or Sunday. Couples who move their weddings to Friday often find they get to spend more time with their friends and families the following day, as guests are more inclined to stay in town an extra day than they are on Sunday afternoons following a

TIPS: See Page 11

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Va. county hopes to cash in on weddings

12 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010


Continued from Page 11

wedding. ■ Forgo a traditional honeymoon. Seventeen percent of male respondents to the Visa survey felt they overspent on their honeymoon. While it’s certainly nice to fly off to the Caribbean and spend your first week as a married couple soaking up some sun, a more local getaway for a couple of days can be just as relaxing and save couples substantial amounts of money. Once the bills have been paid, couples can then enjoy a more traditional honeymoon, possibly in celebration of their first anniversary. ■ Limit the guest list. Inviting all friends and family members might be a nice gesture, but it’s also an expensive one. Cost-conscious couples can save a good deal of money by only inviting those friends and family members who are closest to them. ■ Order less extravagant floral arrangements. Floral arrangements for a wedding can prove very expensive. But couples can trim those costs using more greenery in the floral displays and ordering less expensive, seasonal flowers. When discussing arrangements with the florist, explain that the budget can only allow so much for flowers, and work together to find ways to add aesthetic appeal without breaking the bank.

 Downtown Luray, Va., as seen from West Main Street. Given the success so far in recent years, business leaders are looking to ratchet up Page County’s share of the market in the upcoming wedding season next year, which begins in late spring.

By Jeremy Hunt Associated Press

LURAY, Va. – Page County is known for attracting all manner of tourists, including campers, hunters and boaters. But business owners and tourism officials hope to draw attention to and capitalize on another demographic that’s increasingly drawn to the area: brides. While couples from all over the country and even around the world come to Page County to get married, the vast majority of the weddings are for couples from Northern Virginia. Given the success so far in recent years, business leaders are looking to ratchet up Page County’s share of the market in the upcoming wedding season next year, which begins in late spring. Luray was recently featured in an article about destination weddings posted on the website of TLC, a cable television network that highlights weddings, among other topics. The town was listed at No. 2 in the article, “10 Beautiful Destination Wedding Locales in the United States.” Jackson Hole, Wyo., was No. 1. “A lot of the places on this list were chosen for their scenic beauty,” the article states.

“(Luray) certainly has that in spades, what with being seated at the foot of the Blue (Ridge) Mountains.” But the article pointed out that the area is known as much for its beauty belowground thanks to its caverns, a popular tourist attraction. Luray Caverns was specifically noted in the TLC article. Luray Caverns has hosted more than 450 weddings, John Shaffer, director of public relations, said in a statement.

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TLC’s designation expedited planned efforts by the LurayPage County Chamber of Commerce to market the area as a wedding destination, and now officials are tying the network’s article into their plans to ring more out-of-towners’ wedding bells. “We’re definitely taking

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steps to try to maximize and capitalize on this,” said Briana Campbell, president of the chamber. “We’re just thrilled, obviously.” Campbell, who became president of the chamber earlier this year, said the organization plans to promote Page County as a wedding location early next year. The idea sprouted from her own family’s recent success in the business. Owned and operated by her parents, Khimaira Farm began hosting weddings three years ago. The chamber is communicating with its members to pool together all their resources, which will be compiled on its website as a one-stop shop for brides-to-be. Florists, hair stylists, caterers and venues all will be featured on the Web page, expected to debut in the next couple of months. The Page Valley, nestled between Massanutten Mountain to the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, has a plethora of venues for couples to choose from, depending on their tastes. The aforementioned Luray

Caverns provides a natural – and undeniably unique – backdrop without the potential disruption of poor weather. The historic Mimslyn Inn in downtown Luray, built in 1931, offers a classic, formal setting, manager Jim Sims said. The Mimslyn reopened three years ago after the Asam family, which purchased the hotel in 2005, completed an extensive $7 million renovation project. Following the renovation, Mimslyn began hosting weddings, and its popularity has steadily increased since, Sims said. About a dozen couples wedded there the first year after the reopening. In 2009, that number doubled, and this year, it nearly doubled again to about 40 weddings, Sims said. The Mimslyn has gained national prominence as a wedding destination, having been featured in bridal magazines “Modern Bride” and “Bride Today.”

Organic growth

“It’s grown sort of naturally,” Sims said. “When the tourism (industry) took a big hit last year, for us, from a strategic planning point-of-view, we had

We areWith a full service couture floral and event styling boutique. backgrounds in floral and interior design, we can set the mood and transform any given space to reflect your personal style and design needs.

to look for other areas, and the weddings market was it.” One recent wedding party spent about $52,000 on food alone, Sims said. For those looking for an intimate setting, the South Court Inn Bed and Breakfast in Luray caters to “couples seeking quality times together,” its owner Tom Potts said in a statement. Outdoor weddings in the natural settings of Rivers Bend Ranch and Khimaira Farm are also popular, Campbell said. Rivers Bend Ranch, located west of Stanley, is a working quarter horse, cattle and guest ranch, with more than a mile of shoreline along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, according to its website. Eco-conscious brides and grooms can forget about having a white wedding and go “green” by taking their vows at Khimaira Farm. The working goat farm is owned and operated by Campbell’s family, whose members pride themselves on their sustainable operation. That includes incorporating and recycling all possible materials used in weddings. “That’s just near and dear to our hearts, being conservation-

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ists,” said Linda Campbell, Briana’s mother and vice chairwoman of the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District’s board of directors. “We’ve had an organic farm from the beginning.” The Campbells’ Associated Press foray into the wedding business 왖 One of the five rooms available at the began somewhat South Court Inn in Luray, Va. The owners by accident after Tom and Anita Potts were recently another of their recognized as one of the top 10 bed and daughters, Jubreakfasts by lena, wanted to get married on the farm in 2005. about their activities surroundThe following year, they deing the nuptials, Linda Campcided to market the venue to bell said. the public. The Campbells added up Now, Khimaira Farm is hotel bookings, shopping, booked solid every weekend meals, tourism and other activbetween May and October, ities during one weekend when sometimes holding back-toKhimaira hosted two rather back weddings on Saturdays large weddings. and Sundays to keep up with “It was very close to half a demand. million dollars for that weekWanting to the know the ecoend. That was two rather large nomic impact of weddings to events,” she said. “It’s encourthe county as a whole, the aging to see that even in today’s Campbells interviewed clients, economy.” wedding guests and family


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Friend, will you marry us? Online ordinations rise 14 Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010

Growing trend

By Monica Rhor

For The Associated Press

Jessica Alexander’s wedding was everything she had envisioned: a private gathering by her summer house on an Iowa lake. There was a pink and purple color scheme, a butterfly motif, and a dessert bar rather than a full meal. And, wearing a short periwinkle dress designed “to show off her legs,” was Alexander’s minister and bridesmaid, Anna-Megan Raley, a close friend who was ordained online specifically to perform the ceremony. Raley, a blogger for the Houston Chronicle, didn’t even know she had been ordained until Alexander and her mother sprang the news at the bridal shower. They had already paid a $25 fee and filled out a form with her name and address, making her the Rev. Raley. “I thought it was a joke. I’m sure that I put it on Facebook and Twitter,” said Raley. “But I had heard about people getting ordained to perform weddings. So, I said: ‘Sure, I’d love to.”‘

Associated Press

 Anna-Megan Raley, who was ordained online specifically to perform a wedding ceremony for a close friend in Houston. More and more engaged couples are turning to friends or family members to perform their wedding ceremony.


More and more engaged couples are turning to friends or family members to perform their wedding ceremony. They say it is more personal, relatively stress-free and cheaper. It is also surprisingly fast and simple. Getting ordained requires little more than finding an online ministry that performs ordinations, and filling out a short form with your name and address. Some websites require a nominal fee for paperwork; others don’t charge anything. Prospective brides and grooms should look into the website and local marriage laws, however, to make sure the ceremony would be valid. Although online ordinations are generally recognized, laws vary widely from state to state, sometimes from county to county. Some states require ministers to register after they are ordained. In Louisiana, parishes ask for a letter of good standing from the church, while Las Vegas requires a four-page application and background check.

Last year, about one in seven weddings were performed by a friend of the couple, according to The Wedding Report, a research firm. Andre Hensley, president of the non-denominational Universal Life Church, which has been issuing ordination credentials since 1962, believes more couples are turning to friends because of the Internet, which makes the process easier, and because of many people’s lack of affiliation with a church. “I’ve gone to weddings where the ministers didn’t know the couple or anything about them. It didn’t have a special feeling,” said Hensley, who estimates that his church has ordained 18 million people. About 3,000 to 5,000 are ordained every month, a number that has steadily increased over the last 10 years, Hensley said. It takes about 24 hours for the church to process an ordination request, all of which are reviewed by a live person, he said.

Janis Jones, a 27-year-old Chicago nurse, asked her older sister to perform her wedding this June. “Neither of us belong to a church, and we liked the idea of incorporating prayers and the religious aspect into the ceremony, but we didn’t want to be married by someone we don’t know at all and who

didn’t know us,” said Jones, who has been dating her fiance, Eric Strand, for six years. The couple turned to Jones’ sister, Vicky Rappatta, who has been happily married for 10 years, has a background in writing and had always been a motherly figure to her younger

FRIENDS: See Page 15

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sibling. “I was so honored and so moved that they wanted me to be such a huge part of their wedding. Now, I’m getting terrified,” joked Rappatta, who plans to write an original wedding prayer for the couple. Rappatta said she researched the legality of the ordination process, including checking with the county where her sister will be getting her marriage license. “The last thing I wanted to do was get a fake ordination,” said Rappatta, who got her credentials from American Marriage Ministries, whose website boasts “over 10,000 marriages performed!”

Make sure it’s legal

Kirsten Nichols, whose October wedding was performed by her husband’s cousin, asked a co-worker who is an ordained minister to be on hand at the service – just in case. “If you find out after the fact that you are not legally married, it can definitely put a damper on things,” said Nichols, who lives in Montgomery County, Md. Nichols, who is Christian, and her husband, who was raised Muslim, wanted a spiritual ceremony that would “focus on us coming together under God, not on the fact that we are of two different faiths.” At Alexander’s lakeside wedding in Iowa, her ministerbridesmaid Raley also served as personal attendant, and helped decorate for the reception – all of which lent an air of comfort and familiarity to the ceremony. “It helped that she was the one standing up there for us,” said Alexander, a fourth-grade teacher who lives in Rockwell, Texas, outside Dallas. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

Wedding day transportation options abound Grand Forks Herald/Sunday, December 19, 2010


Couples have many decisions to make regarding their wedding ceremony and reception. One of those decisions concerns transportation to and from the special event. There are many options in wedding transportation. The more traditional options include renting a car or limousine. The Bridal Association of America reports that the average couples spends $400 to $500 for an automotive rental. However, prices may vary depending on geography and the type of vehicle rented. Wedding transportation is perhaps something grooms-tobe can get excited about. After all, we’re talking about cars – some fancy, some large, and many decked out with different features. Plus, it’s traditionally the responsibility of the groom to arrange transportation to and from the ceremony, reception and the hotel or honeymoon destination. Grooms responsible for arranging transportation can consider the following options. ■ Limousine: A limo is one of the most traditional methods of transport on a couple’s wedding day. A limousine’s size enables them to carry the bridal party in its entirety. Because the bride and groom often do not see each other before the ceremony, two limos may be rented, one larger for the bridal party, and one smaller for the bride and her parents, depending on personal preference.

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왖 Transportation to and from the wedding must be arranged in advance of a couple’s big day. ■ Classic car: Sports car enthusiasts may want to make an entrance – and exit – behind the wheel of a sporty vehicle. These can include a high-end Ferrari or an Aston Martin. Because of their high purchase price, sports car rentals may carry a premium. ■ Stretch SUV: The traditional limo has morphed into the stretch SUV of popular models, including the Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition or even a stretch Hummer. Because of their popularity, these rentals may be snatched up quickly. Be sure to book well in advance of the big day.



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can evoke feelings of a Cinderella-type day. The carriage tends to be best suited to warm weather. For winter weddings, a horse-drawn sleigh might make a better alternative. ■ Motorcycle: Exciting couples may want to ride off into the sunset on the back of a roadster or sports bike. ■ Horses: Horses can haul more than just a carriage. A bride and groom atop a handsome steed can make for a memorable wedding transportation option and equally memorable photos. ■ Boat: Individuals getting married by the sea or another body of water may want to consider attending the festivities via boat, be it a large vessel or a more intimate canoe or rowboat. Wedding day transportation varies depending on each couple’s preference. Here are some other things to keep in mind concerning transportation. ■ Be sure to have transportation options at the ready for guests who may have over-indulged on alcoholic beverages. ■ Wedding party participants who arrived at the wedding by a limo or other source will need a ride home somehow. ■ Find out if a hotel nearby offers complementary transportation to and from the reception hall. BR111300

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Grand Forks Herald - 2010 Wedding Guide  

Friendship turns to romance.

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