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JAN. 19, 2011

HERE COMES THE GUIDE Bridal Guide Winter 2011

AP/Photo Illustration by James A. Molnar

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2011 trends include honeysuckle, tight bodices, personal touches


hen it comes to the top trends of 2011, there are two words you need to know: “Understated Sophistication.” Color creates ambience ce and mood and illustrates a couple’s style. As designer John Saladino said, “The most important thing about color is that it cannot be isolated ... Every color is only ever seen in juxtaposition with other ones.” The 2011 color of the year is honeysuckle. It’s a very uplifting color and perfect for 2011 when we are seeing more detail come back into the design spotlight. But this reddish pink tone is not alone. 2011 brides are BRITTANY pairing colors with a palette of three to four vintage, earthy and sun-washed hues to create their signature look. In the spring and into summer we will see honeysuckle paired with bright blue, navy paired with light pinks and washed pink paired with white and off white. Late summer into fall we’ll see shades of yellow and green, vintage green with soft pinks and black with pink. These colors will carry into winter as pink will be paired with gold.

Outdoor weddings were big in 2010 and will continue to rise in 2011. Since destination weddings are out and couples are returning to the th comforts of their backyard or family cottage, the party doesn’t have to end. There’s no time limit like there would be on a rented ballroom. Guests can enjoy entertainment into the morning with yummy goodies to satisfy their palette. And speaking of yummy goodies, cupcake “cakes” are out. Donuts and childhood comfort sweets are in. We are also saying goodbye to the espresso or cappuccino stations. In are herbal and black tea stations in a variety of herbs, served with natural sugars. Couples are creating their signature tea blend and serving it with their monogram on the tea tag. As the saying goes, a bride has to have something borrowed, blue, old and new. This year’s something old is trended with Victorian and vintage inspired accessories. Vintage jewelry, pearls and rhinestones are not just worn on the fingers or wrist, but added as accessories to the waistline, dress pick-ups and hair styles.




Making a return from last year are the jeweledtones, with navy being the most popular. Metallic accessories like gold or silver shoes have been popular for bridesmaids since 2006. We are continuing to see metallic on the feet, but also with over-the-top jewelry, hair accessories, belts and broaches on the bride, bridesmaids and mother-of-the-bride gowns. And speaking of gowns, the big ball gown is back. When I think of a big ball gown, I think of Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles. Wonder if her future daughter-in-law will follow this year’s trend? Famous women like Princess Diana were the inspiration for Carolina Herrera’s 2011 spring bridal line. Herrera designed gowns based on famous women of history. Just another way vintage is revived. In bridal gowns we are seeing the influence of ballet and the movie “Black Swan.” Dresses, even long ones, have tulle skirts and tight bodices. Grooms are staying within the theme of sophistication with the return of the bow tie and custom cufflinks. Instead of renting the common wedding tux, grooms are treating their groomsmen to custom ties and vests for a signature look. These make great gifts. Beautiful fabrics are not just for the dress. We are seeing luxurious fabrics on the table from ruffles to custom designs and flourishing trims. With luxurious tablecloths come soft, simple flowers and clean-lined table settings with chic modern glassware. This creates a balanced tablescape. Still, we will continue to see simple and chic with a lot of DIY (do-it-yourself) projects to

create the personal, one-of-a-kind touch. Another item brides are keeping simple and understated in 2011 is the menu. Instead of heavy gourmet foods, brides and grooms are choosing childhood favorites like mac ‘n’ cheese to complement their filet mignon. Take a seat. Props aren’t just for fun engagement and couple sessions. Brides and grooms are posed on chic couches with plush fabrics for a more relaxed, comfortable look. This was popular in the ’70s, which makes this trend a bit vintage. Got royal fever? This year’s brides anxiously await the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, but we won’t see those trends take full effect until the fall/winter season and then boom in 2012. With so many details unknown and the constant parallels of Kate’s simple, chic style and Diana’s lavish, opulent gown, there’s no telling what we will see. Whichever style Kate chooses will certainly take off with dress manufacturers copying the dress overnight. The 2011 theme of “Understated Sophistication” allows today’s bride to have the platinum look without breaking the bank. Over the top opulence is passé. With DIY touches, and simple luxuries, brides are creating a classic look they are sure to look back and enjoy years to come. ✯ Brittany Craig is the principal event designer and coordinator for Crowning Celebrations. She specializes in weddings and social celebrations. Follow her Eventista blog at www.crowning

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Couples today have the world at their fingertips, both from an information and flower selection standpoint, local florists say. “Fifty years ago, brides were limited to whatever flowers were in season that they could get locally; there was not a whole lot of choice,” said Frank P. Viviano, president of Bartz Viviano Flowers and Gifts in Toledo, Perrysburg and Oregon. “Brides today come in having done all kinds of research online. They have pictures, they have ideas — our job is to advise them about what works and what’s in their price range.” The old advice about ordering seasonal flowers to save money doesn’t hold as true anymore, since most ship worldwide and are available year-round without much price fluctuation, said Ann Strickland, special events consultant with Bartz Viviano. “There are only a few — less than a dozen — that I have to limit myself from selling yearround,” Strickland said. That level of availability paired with brides’ penchants for personalization make it hard to pinpoint trends. “Out of 20 weddings, I will literally have 20 different ideas for bouquets,” Strickland said. That being said, Strickland said she has noticed choices trending toward bigger blossoms, softer colors and the addition of natural elements, like twigs, herbs, thistle,

pods and berries, for texture. Others want to add “bling” — sparkly crystal and diamond accents — to bridal bouquets and centerpieces, said Jen Cummins, owner of Beautiful Blooms by Jen in Sylvania. Keith H. Brooks, owner of Keith H. Brooks Florist in Sylvania, said cascade bouquets, as opposed to round, for brides seem to be staging a comeback while, because about half of bridal parties now wear short dresses, bridesmaid bouquets are getting smaller. One downside of online browsing is sometimes couples want things they don’t realize are unrealistic for their price range, although most ideas can be adapted to fit smaller budgets, Brooks said. Cummins said flowers usually cost 10 to 15 percent of a wedding budget, with couples spending between $1,000 and $3,000 on average. “We can work on any budget, but it’s important to know what your budget is,” Cummins said. All the florists agreed it’s best to nail down key wedding decisions before attempting to plan the blooms for your big day. The more information about the venue, colors, attire, theme — even food choices — a couple can bring with them, the better. “After that we can be in a good position to offer advice; if not, we are just kind of shooting in the dark,” Viviano said. ■ FLORISTS CONTINUES ON 16



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■ FLORISTS CONTINUED FROM 14 It’s helpful for brides to bring color swatches and photos of dresses as well as any photos that caught their eye, whether for color, style, container or any other reason, Strickland said. Inspiration photos are helpful because “a lot of times the bride tells me one thing, but then shows me a picture and it’s not at all what I was thinking,” Cummins said. Booking a florist six to nine months out is ideal, if only to assure availability for your date, as many are already booking into 2012. For couples with tight budgets, surrounding a few large blossoms with less expensive flowers, like Gerber daises or carnations, can fill out arrangements for less, Strickland said. A “hand-tied” bouquet, with its just-gathered look, is less expensive than a more formal, laborintensive, arranged bouquet, Strickland said. Some brides are choosing to skip boutonnieres “since men don’t usually care about flowers anyway,” Cummins said. One area that should never be skimped on, however, is the bride’s bouquet, Strickland said. “Everything else can be cut, but you might as well make it right for the most important person there,” she said. Silk flowers aren’t really a cost-saver since ones that look real are nearly as expensive as flowers, Cummins said. Another tip is to reuse as many blooms as possible between the ceremony location and the reception, such as using bridesmaid bouquets for table centerpieces. Ornate venues may not even need extra decoration, Brooks said. Avoid a delivery and setup fee by having a




family member do the pickup and set up, Cummins said. Of course, there’s also the full DIY route: buying from a chain store and arranging your own blooms. This option can potentially save a

lot of money, but should be weighed against the stress it can bring on your wedding day, the florists said. A lot has changed, but flowers will always be synonymous with weddings, Viviano said.

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“People have been celebrating weddings with flowers for eons, since they could pick them out of fields,” Viviano said. “Trends come and go, but using flowers to celebrate this special day is something that will always be there.” ✯



How to obtain a marriage license in Lucas County In Lucas County, both the bride and groom must be present when filling out an application for a marriage license. A marriage license is valid for 60 days after it has been issued. An ordained or licensed minister of anyy religion g within the state, who is licensed with the secretary of state as well as a judge in municipal or county court may solemnize mar-

riages. Marriage licenses can be obtained at the Lucas County Probate Court, 700 Adams St. suite 200, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of a marriage license is $50 and must be paid in cash. What you y need: ✯ Government iss issued sued picture ID (driver’s license, state ID, or military ID) ID, passport pas ✯ Social Security Seccurit number (requested but not manda(re eque tory) ✯ Birth Birt certificate for those B younger you unge than 21 ✯ C Copy of final Decree of Cop Divorce, Di ivorc Dissolution of Annulment (for those An nnul previously married) pr evio ✯ Co Copy opy o of Death Certificate (for (fo or widows/widowers) wi Ohio resi residents dent must obtain a marlicense riage lic cens in the county where eitherr the bride or groom resides. sidess. There is no waiting period d on marriage licenses and weddings wed ddin may take place the same day. For information, sam me d visit vissit www.lucas-co-probatew ✯ Source: Lucas County Probate Court web site P

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Personalized ice sculptures can be centerpieces, full statues By Sarah Ottney TOLEDO FREE PRESS STAR STAFF WRITER

Couples looking for a unique “wow factor” at their wedding might consider commissioning a personalized ice sculpture. Chad Hartson, owner of Ice Creations in Napoleon, said he and his crew do about 3,000 ice sculptures a year, with about a third of those for weddings. Possibilities for a ceremony or reception include fountains, drink luges, punch bowls, sorbet dishes, food tables, ice bars, candle holders, wine bottle holders, vases and centerpieces. Hartson has also artfully suspended chunks of ice from string, forming a curtain to hang behind the altar, said Paul Raukar of Ice Dreams. He has been doing weddings for 14 years along with his wife and business partner, Tajana, a seven-time j world ice carving champion. pion. “Guests are used to flowers o s or candles on the tables, les, so it’s it’s something a little bit diff fferent, erentt,” Raukar said. Hartson, who has also so been n carving for 14 years, said ice icce sculptures at weddings are poppop pular on both coasts, especially ecially in New York and California, ia, and d the trend is working its wayy inwar inward. rd. “It’s still kind of one ne of those t e things people don’t really know w about,” Hartson said. “II thinkk more mo ore than anything they don’t think n’t thin nk it’s it’’s possible to do unless wee mention mention it it or they see a picture of something sometthiing we’ve done.” Hartson said he used sed to gget ett lots of requests for swans lovens or lo ove vebirds perched on hearts,, but la lately atelly monograms have become more ome m re popular. Couples also request o req quesst

pieces with personal touches, such as a photo or other item frozen inside. Ice carvers use everything from power tools to hand tools. Details and words are formed by using router bits to engrave the design, which is then packed with snow and refrozen, Hartson said. “It’s very similar to woodworking, just a lot colder,” Hartson said. Hartson, who was introduced to ice carving ing during culinary school and has since received ved national and international recognition, said aid a typical wedding sculpture takes about two hours to complete and is usually carved two weeks in advance. All of his sculptures start from a 300-pound und block of ice 40 inches tall, 20 inches wide and d 10 inches thick. Large sculptures are transported to events ents in freezer trucks and smaller pieces in insulated ated boxes with dry ice, iice Hartson said. One off th the biggest sculptures Hartson One o on has ccarved aarv for a wedding was commmissioned by Shawn Stockman of miss ssio Boyz Bo oyyz II Men, who was married in Toledo. To oled The pieces are cold enough that at it takes takkees six to eight hours before details tails starts star arts tto blur and 12 to 14 hours before fore structural stru ructu ur melting begins. “It’s throughout the night, “It’s melting m ght, but bu ut it melts meltts at such a slow pace that details ails usually all night,” Hartson said. ussually last al Hartson said s an average wedding sculpture ture costs $270, cossts about $27 70, including delivery, set up, trays ays and d lights. Ice bars baar start from $1,250, fountains ns $350 centerpieces $75 each (minimum off $3550 and center rpi 10), website. ), according to o Raukar’s R Hartson H rtson said Ha saaid he encourages couples to contact cont ntact him about aab their dates and ideas as early possible, but he has done sculpeaarly as po oss tures tu ures as llate ate as a week before an event. Both Hartson and Raukar said H

it’s fun to work with couples to make their wedding visions come true. “I just like creating something new all the time, that’s basically what it is,” Hartson said. “I do the ice carving, watch people react to it, it melts and then you get to do it all over again.” For more information, visit or ✯


How to hire a wedding professional From venues to transportation, photographers to florists, be sure to follow these few steps to ensure reliable and professional service on your wedding day: ✯ History New or experienced, don’t be afraid to ask how and why they got started in the wedding industry. Even a new professional should be able to share prior experience that led them to this point in their career. ✯ References A well-seasoned wedding professional will have a list of brides, grooms and mothers-of-thebrides, whom you can call upon. Ask for professional references, too. A vendor who produces great product may be difficult to work with and unfavorable amongst other professionals. You want all your professionals to work like a welloiled machine. ✯ Portfolio Ask to see images from their events. While inspiration boards and concept ideas are a fabulous way to see a wedding professional’s creativity, it’s best to view actual examples of their work or product. ✯ Web or social media presence This is a great way to see how active they are in the industry and community. A website will show their portfolio and give more detail about their product. Social media avenues like Facebook, Twitter and online planning sites such as will show interaction and reviews.


A well-seasoned wedding professional will have a list of brides, grooms and mothers-of-thebrides, whom you can call upon. Ask for professional references, too. A vendor who produces great product may be difficult to work with and unfavorable amongst other professionals.


✯ Staff Be sure to ask if the professional you are meeting with will be there on your wedding day. And if they say they might not be, don’t be alarmed. Some vendors, such as DJs, can take several weddings or events in one weekend. They usually plan their staff around a client’s needs and style. ✯ — Brittany Craig


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never fantasized about my wedding day growing up, but the day after I got engaged, I went out and bought a bridal magazine. I was caught up in the excitement and I just wanted to dive right into planning. Flipping through the pages of some of the information seemed useful, but most of the weddings I saw would require racking up some serious debt to fund. At bridal shows I looked for tips, but always felt like someone was trying to sell me something. When it came down to it, the best advice I got came from friends who were former brides. As a recent newlywed, KRISTEN I’ve decided to share some of what I learned from my wedding day and wedding planning with the readers of Toledo Free Press Star. ✯ Add personalization to your wedding day. One of the best ways to make your wedding unique is to add personal touches from you and the groom. My wedding cake had Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head as a topper because we dressed as the couple for one Halloween. We also served pizza at the reception in addition to the dinner because it is my husband’s favorite food. Even if it may seem unconventional, little touches of personality can make a wedding more memorable. ✯ Remember the meaning of a wedding. Future brides always hear, your wedding day is all about you, but really your wedding day is about both you and your future husband. It’s the first day of your lives together. Don’t forget that. It’s very easy to fall into this is what I want; make sure you step back and ask your fiancé what he’d like. ✯ Get organized. I laughed when my mom came home with a wedding-planning binder, but it helps. You could meet with several venders ders before choosing the one you want, so don’t assume you’re u’re going to remember mber everything. Write down what you liked ked and didn’t like about out someone and savee it for later. With the plethora of options ons available for each ch part of a wedding ng having a running ng tab of likes, dislikes es and prices will reeally help.

In addition to a binder, create a checklist for every guest (see image). Make sure there’s a spot to check off if you’ve sent out his or her invitation, thanked him or her for a shower gift and then thanked each guest for the wedding gift. This is a great way to t make sure you don’t forget to invite someone as fo well w as thank him or her for a gift. ✯ Ask for help. Weddings consist of many details and not everyone can afford a wedding planner; asking for help and accepting help from friends c will make everything a w little less crazy. My wedding wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the help I got from my mom. She took care of many of the details I could not. And my older sister designed my invitations. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance, but don’t be demanding either. Many people will be more than willing to lend a hand, but you don’t want to take their gesture for granted. ✯ Send out thank yous when you get a gift. It’s common to get gifts sent to your home before a wedding; the best thing to do is sit down and send out a thank you that day. Thank yous can pile up after a wedding and become an overwhelming task, so plan ahead. ✯ Check out This site has some practical advice as well as some other useful tools for planning a wedding. Plus it contains forums for discussions where you can interact with other brides. While the site doesn’t contain info on all the different wedding venders in Toledo, it’s still handy and free. I found the best feature to be the ability to create your own Wedding Website.





“A DRESS THAT ZIPS UP THE BACK WILL BRING A HUSBAND AND WIFE TOGETHER.” — JAMES BOREN ■ CRISWELL CONTINUED FROM 20 The interface is very user-friendly and it’s a great way to share useful information with your wedding guests as well as share the story of how you and your husband-to-be first met. ✯ When buying a dress, think of your longterm comfort. Maybe try and sit down in it for a little or dance around in it. My dress was strapless and I made the decision, against the advice of my mom, to go one size smaller so I wouldn’t have a wardrobe malfunction walking down the aisle or on the dance floor. Huge mistake. While everything went nicely walking down the aisle, when I finally got to the reception and sat down to have some food, I could no longer breathe. I ended up leaving the reception early and coming back in a different outfit so I could enjoy myself. ✯ Roll with the punches. Wedding days are hectic. It’s very easy to forget things and little things can go wrong. So if you do like I did and forget to bring the wedding ring to the church, take a second, breathe and remember this is why attendants are there to help you get ready. Also, little things that don’t seem perfect at the time might be that way because of nerves and stress. Looking back you’ll see the bigger picture not all the tiny details. ✯ Enjoy the day and your new husband. While it may feel like forever for your wedding day to arrive, once it gets here, it flies by. ✯ Kristen Criswell is special sections editor for Toledo Free Press. She was married Nov. 13, 2010, in Athens, Ohio. Kristen can be reached at


Groom’s guide to wedding planning


How and when will you pay ongrats gents on gathering the heartheart or joint accounts? H your bills? Discuss income, thumping courage, shaky loans, savings accounts hands and weak knees and the mortgage. to ask the love of 4. It takes two. Your your life if she will spend wedding day should reflect forever with you! You both your styles. By deterare officially the groommining your wedding style, to-be. Your fianceé is probit will make choosing a ably already up to her nose venue, dinner menus and in wedding magazines, color music easier. swatches and inspiration 5. Line up your roster boards. Inspiration boards, and pick “Team Groom.” you ask? Just wait. First ask your best While your bride is DVR-ing man, followed by your every bridal show on TV, take a groomsmen and ushers, sec to review these 10 tips: if needed.   1. Establish your wedding BRITTANY 6. While “Team priorities and share them with Groom” is planning the your bride. What’s most imporbachelor party, you will tant to the two of you? Don’t lose have some planning site of that. of your own. This in2. Don’t put the horse becludes the honeymoon, fore the cart. Marriage is a rite which traditionally is of passage. The reception is a paid for by the groom. celebration of the ceremony. Today’s grooms are also Give heartfelt thought and consideration to planning a ceremony that joins planning the music by booking DJs and bands, as well as transportation with limos, vintage your beliefs and heritages. 3. Talk cold hard money. This goes two- cars and specialty buses. 7. Set a timeline — and stick to it. fold: Discuss the wedding budget — but furthermore, discuss your finances. When your Grooms are notorious for leaving details and bride becomes your Mrs. will you have single reservations to the last minute, thus sacri-




ficing the best wedding pros. Be sure to fulfill your responsibilities. This will help prevent pre-wedding arguments or tiffs with your bride. It will also ensure that you will enjoy a fun engagement. 8. You deserve the best, so hire the best. Ask your coordinator and other wedding pros for recommendations for the best wedding vendors. Check the BBB and online websites for testimonials. 9. Look your best on your wedding day. Start a workout routine or maintain your look. Be sure to dress the part with style to compliment your beautiful bride. Rent or order suits and schedule alterations. Be sure to pick them up two days prior to wedding day to ensure the proper fit. 10. Give with gratitude. Shop with your bride for Mr. and Mrs. wedding bands. Also be sure to pick her up something special for the traditional wedding gift. Groomsmen, ushers and parents should be on the list, too. Grooms, keep in mind the pressure and responsibilities brides are under to plan their special day with their perfect man. If you follow these top 10 tips, you are sure to impress her. ✯ Brittany Craig is the principal event designer and coordinator for Crowning Celebrations. She specializes in weddings and social celebrations. Follow her Eventista blog at www.crowning

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Buying the right ring By Joel Sensenig TOLEDO FREE PRESS STAR STAFF WRITER

Guys, you know you want to spend the rest of your life with her, now it’s time to buy the ring. “If you’re going to get engaged, you’re going to have to buy a diamond. You’re talking about spending thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you get something that’s nice for X amount of dollars and something that’s worth X amount of dollars,” said Maxwell Ohnezeit, manager at David Fairclough Fine Jewelers. Ohnezeit said the most popular time for men and women to get engaged are around the holidays and during the summer. Local jewelers reported slightly different accounts of how often the men bring their future fianceés with them to look at engagement rings. Jeffrey Mann, owner of Jeffrey Mann Fine Jewelers, said it was about 50-50 on whether the woman accompanied the man to peruse, while Ohnezeit stated

he meets the female recipient of the ring “well above 50 percent of the time.” Jennifer Bostleman, managing partner at J. Foster Jewelers, said “very rarely do we have a man just on his own.” When it comes to engagement rings, Mann said he likes to see men take a risk. “What I tell guys a lot of times if I have the opportunity is, ‘If you surprise her with a ring, it’s always going to be the ring you chose for her,’” he said. “It may not be exactly what she would have picked out, but besides selling jewelry, we also sell sentiment. If she comes in with you and picks out that exact ring that you picked out, you’ve lost that element of surprise and those bragging rights that go along with her telling everyone you picked it out for her. We encourage surprises.” ■ RING CONTINUES ON 23


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■ RING CONTINUED FROM 22 All three jewelers said it wasn’t how much one spends on jewelry that matters, but how much one knows and the quality of the jewelry that really counts. “When your fianceé opens something and it’s a good solid reputable store in Toledo, that shows a lot about what his choices were in buying a ring and what he thinks of her,” Mann said. He touted the Charriol line of products as being representative of the belief that one doesn’t need to spend a lot to get a lot. “The cool thing is you don’t have to spend more money to get the best, you just have to be educated so you know what’s important,” Ohnezeit said. “We sell engagement rings that are $500 and we sell rings that are $100,000. It just depends on where somebody’s at in their life.” Bostleman said J. Fosters has a large selection of semi-mounted and loose diamonds that allow men to create their own ring “a la carte.” She said one carat is the most popular size, with princess and round being the most desired cuts. Bostleman said, “We don’t care if you spend $1,000 or $15,000, we just want to be your jeweler. We’ll find you the best ring for your money.” ✯



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After trying on more than 15 different dresses, Christie Lange found her wedding dress. Lange, of Maybee, Mich., started with one vision of her perfect wedding dress, but that gradually changed as she tried on more and more dresses. “She came in wanting a simple A-line dress. Now she’s ending up with one that’s more fitted with ruffles,” said Dee Seger, senior sales consultant at Atlas Bridal. “Your style may change as you get the dresses on your body.” At Atlas Bridal, each bride starts with eight to 10 dresses in their dressing room and consultants bring them additional dresses based on the bride’s feedback. “I just look at what they’re liking and pick out details of what they’re liking,” Seger said. “It’s our job to know what is going to look good on her. I combine the elements that she likes into one dress. It’s almost like a puzzle in a way.” Atlas Bridal has seamstresses that can help alter dresses to make a dress more custom for the bride and it’s the consultant’s job to let a bride know that, Seger said. “We’ll talk about things and pin things down to give them a vision. A lot of my job is reading what they want and figuring out how I can make it the best I can,” she said. “I’m big on doing a little custom change to the dress because if she does [make the changes] she’s going to be the only person who ever does that to the dress.” Lange said having a dress consultant helping her try on wedding dresses really helped. “Honestly, when I first tried this dress on, I did not like it. All it took was her to say you can take that off and suddenly this is my favorite one,” she said. “If someone hadn’t suggested, ‘Oh take the strap off ’ I would have taken the dress off and been done with it.” When trying on dresses, Seger reminds brides to be realistic about their budget and not to try on things outside it.

“You don’t want to fall in love with a dress and then not be able to afford it,” she said. Seger said brides should bring two to four people with them to try on dresses, any more than that and too many opinions get involved. “The most important opinion is your own. If you have 10 people tell you they don’t like your dress before you even look at it, it’s hard for you to even know what you really like. Your judgment gets clouded by other people,” she said. For the brides looking for that emotional moment when they find their perfect dress, don’t be too disappointed if that doesn’t come, Seger said. “If you’re not a crier, you’re not going to be a crier,” she said. “A lot of girls do have that moment, but you’re still you. It’s still your personality and you know in your heart if you love that dress or not. It’s OK if you don’t have that feeling.” Seger said popular trends starting to show for next year include one shoulder dresses, ruffled or tiered skirts as well as a lot of lace, flower or feather accents. There are also several trends that will never go out of style, such as the wrap style, since it’s so slimming, as well as trumpet and mermaid dresses, she said. When it comes to color, Seger said ivory is the most popular with 50 percent of the dresses she sells in that color. White is close behind with roughly 40 percent and the other 10 percent of dresses Seger sells are in colors like champagne and light gold. Women who can’t find their wedding dress at a store can visit Sew-n-Such for custom dresses. “So many people don’t want to look like everybody else. People have an idea in their head of what they want to look like and they come in with it,” said Mary Cianci, owner of Sew-nSuch. “‘I want this kind of dress and I can’t find it anywhere.’ Or they’ve found a dress, it’s so expensive. We can make it pretty close.”

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Mary Cianci of Sew-n-Such ■ DRESS CONTINUED FROM 24 Brides come into the store with pictures and descriptions of what they want and Cianci sketches the dress for them, she said. The brides are then given a shopping list of materials to purchase and they bring it back into the store. Cianci said she likes to have at least three months to complete a dress, but she can make one faster if need be. “I like to do it slower because a lot of the time a girl comes in with the material and we start cutting for the fittings and as we’re getting into it brides change their minds,” she said. “If you rush through it, you don’t get the chance to change as you go.”

Cianci said not all dresses have to be made from scratch and she can work with any existing dress. A lot of women come in with dresses they’ve found at garage sales, the Salvation Army and even online and ask her to fix them, Cianci said. Cianci, who has been working on and making wedding dresses for 34 years, said she can also be a particular help to those brides who are having religious ceremonies. “There are no dresses with shoulders and sleeves. The few that are out there are pretty bad and a lot of people don’t like that. I can help them,” she said. Sew-n-Such can also make custom dresses for bridesmaids and mother of the brides as well as custom suits for grooms. ✯

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■ ETIQUETTE CONTINUED FROM 26 When it comes to gifts, etiquette has changed through the years, Zachman said. It used to be tradition to send the present to the address of the bride’s parents, but now it is more common for people to bring gifts to a wedding. If a guest chooses to bring a gift to the wedding, they should ask bridesmaids or groomsmen where to leave it. The guest should never hand a gift directly to a bride or groom, she said. A thank you card should be sent four to six weeks after a wedding, unless the bride and groom are taking a honeymoon outside the country. The thank you card should be handwritten and thank the guest for attending the wedding as well as thank them for the specific gift, Zachman said. “Thank you for the money; it will be used to decorate our new home,” she said as an example. If for some reason a bride or groom cannot get out their thank yous right away, they should make sure to call close friends and family to thank them and let them know a thank you will be coming in the mail eventually, Zachman said. “A late thank you is better than no thank you,” she said. Zachman reminds brides and grooms that flexibility is key to a wedding, so be respectful and considerate of others’ suggestions. “Many battles are started during a wedding and it doesn’t need to be like that,” she said. “If everyone is willing to give and take, things can go smoothly. Just because someone is paying for a wedding doesn’t give them the right to dictate every detail of the wedding. That’s very important to realize.” For more etiquette tips, visit✯

More brides inform guests online By Caryn Rousseau ASSOCIATED PRESS

With friends and family headed to her California wedding from all around, brideto-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 fiance 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 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 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. Carley Roney, editor and founder of, said her site and together host more than 500,000 wedding websites for couples.

Roney offers three tips for setting up a wedding website: ✯ 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.’’ ✯

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Friend, will you marry us? By Monica Rhor FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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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.’’’ Nontraditional? Perhaps. A growing trend? Definitely. 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 nondenominational 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, each of which are reviewed by a live person, he said.


I’ve gone to weddings where the ministers didn’t know the couple or anything about them. It didn’t have a special feeling.

Andre HENSLEY President, Universal Life Church


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 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,’’ said 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!’’ 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 minister-bridesmaid 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 fourthgrade teacher who lives in Rockwell, Texas, outside Dallas. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.’’ ✯



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Wedding Special Section 2  

I assigned stories, edited and oversaw production of this second Wedding special section.

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