Veil & Vow 2022

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Table of Contents The ringmaster Caterers manage all the details — so you don't have to 5 Consider food allergies when planning your wedding menu


Your wedding timeline guide


The rise of the microwedding


Timeline tips: Factors to consider when planning your wedding day timeline 10 Wedding day tipping guidelines


The other side of the lens Berkshire professionals give their perspective on getting the most from your photographer 12 How to avoid wedding reception seating mistakes 16 'Plus one' etiquette for wedding guests


Questions to ask prospective wedding officiants 18 Navigating an interfaith wedding


Set for success What you can do to let your stylist's work shine


Fun ways to utilize social media in your wedding 22 How to give weddings a modern touch WEDDINGS, SPECIAL CELEBRATIONS AND CORPORATE TRANSPORTATION

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The ringmaster Caterers manage all the details — so you don't have to


BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER Special Sections Editor

Food has been the centerpiece of human celebration for as long as celebrations have existed, from harvest feasts to birthday cakes. Weddings are no exception. According to WeddingWire’s most recent Newlywed Report, 87% of couples hired a caterer for their wedding in 2020. The Wedding Report, an industry research company, found that food and beverages were the second-highest wedding-re-

lated expense at 16% of the total cost — surpassed only by jewelry. For many couples, the reception dinner is nearly as important as the ceremony itself, and a delicious, smoothly-delivered meal is the centerpiece of a memorable wedding celebration. It’s also probably the most logistically challenging aspect of the wedding. Feeding one hundred-plus guests (131 is the current average, per WeddingWire) the correct meals, at the

correct temperature, in a timely manner, while working within a pre-arranged program of speeches, dances and bouquet tossing, is no small feat. Fortunately, a quality caterer is able to juggle all the intricate details — and all the unexpected dilemmas — of the reception. Meanwhile, the couple can enjoy their day in blissful ignorance of the complex choreography going on behind the scenes. If you’ve only ever experienced a wedding from the

guest side, it’s easy to believe that caterers are simply the people who bring the food. But for many couples, especially those without a professional wedding planner of their own, the caterer takes on the role of ringmaster: receiving flower deliveries, coordinating with the DJ and, of course, making sure the tents are put up on time. “We act as the middleman,” said chef Mike Mongeon, owner of KJ Nosh Catering Company. “When

6 • Veil & Vow | The Berkshire Eagle [clients] are off doing their other things, we work behind the scenes, whether we're receiving the wedding cake, or other desserts, or flower arrangements that need to be placed. If they don't have an actual wedding coordinator, then they rely on us to field a lot of these things while they're in the moment.” Like many catering companies, KJ Nosh has its own wedding coordinator on staff, to help direct the flow of vendors, guests and wedding party members before, during and after the event. “Skye [Breault, KJ Nosh’s on-staff Event Coordinator] has got a lot of contacts

with most of the vendors, so we acquire that [list] at our initial consultation, and then we'll reach out and make sure we're on the same page. That they have the same timeline, when we're gonna go for dinner service or cocktail hour. If there's a snafu, then they could communicate to us that it's going to be too late by x amount of time, or we need to move it forward,” Mongeon said. Mongeon and Breault’s goal, he explained, is to ensure the event plays out as planned, with minimal involvement from the newlyweds. But given the high stakes and grand ex-

Saturday, February 12, 2022 pectations that come with holding a wedding, some couples can have trouble handing over the reins. “When they don't really communicate with some of the other vendors, they may be concerned; ‘Are you sure they’re coming?’‘Are you going to be able to receive the cake?’ or, ‘do you know the florist? Can we do this so you have a space to put the flowers, can you put them out, can you light the candles?’ All the little stuff that they want to be in control of, but they can't because, you know, it's their big day,” he said. So how do you step back and let the professionals


take over when you’ve spent upwards of a year agonizing over every detail? “Communication and being organized are the most important, especially, I think, in this business,” Mongeon said. “There's a lot of moving parts.” Having a clear outline for the day’s events — and making sure your vendors know exactly what you’re expecting — is the best way to set everyone up for a catastrophe-free day. Mongeon recommends “having a firm timeline, so we have some kind of protocol to follow as far as how the day's gonna go … because that'll play into serving time with the food and things like that.” As long as they have all the relevant information, the vendors are able to execute the day’s plan without constant supervision from their clients. Instead, the happy couple can focus their attention on what really matters: celebrating the start of a new stage in their shared lives. “Having everything in order is important, especially when it comes to the big day,” Mongeon said. That way, clients can “kind of take that step back, where they're not fully involved because it's their day.” And if something does go awry, trust that the professionals have seen it all, and are prepared to handle dayof hassles with ease, whether it’s a shattered plate or an unexpected plus-one. “Our job is to make sure everybody's fed and happy,” Mongeon said. “So we always keep a buffer in there, just in case something does go wrong. We make it flawless, and nobody would even know.”

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Consider food allergies when planning your wedding menu Wedding guests will remember many aspects of the ceremony and reception. For guests who have food allergies or require specialized diets, dinner can be memorable for all of the wrong reasons. But it doesn't have to be. Even though weddings are all about the happy couple's wants and needs, special attention should be placed on ensuring guests' comfort. Individuals with allergies and dietary restrictions warrant extra caution. Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but eight types in particular, often referred to as the "Big 8," are responsible for the greatest numbers of adverse reactions. Milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy comprise the Big 8. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Food Allergy Research and Resource Program says the Big 8 accounts for about 90 percent of all food allergies in the United States. Couples need to recognize the likelihood that at least one person at the wedding will have a specialized food need. Most people with dietary restrictions will be very understanding that eating out is a challenge, especially at a wedding. But couples can take steps to ensure that guests with food allergies don't go hungry. · Ask about allergies on the response card. Some couples request that guests choose their food preferences on their RSVPs. Include a spot where guests can mention serious food allergies. · Choose a caterer very carefully. Caterers are increasingly adapting to common food restrictions. Express specific food avoidances or what you want to be included and find a caterer who specializes in this type of cooking. · Offer allergen-free appetizers. Martha Stewart Weddings suggests serving customized bite-sized hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour to allow for easier customization. This gives guests with allergies the ability to pick and choose their pre-entrée bites. · Label foods and let guests with severe allergies dine first. Buffets should be clearly labeled so those with allergies can avoid certain foods. Also, those with severe food allergies should have first shot at the buffet to limit cross-contamination from serving utensils. · Create separate meals. A caterer may be able to make separate meals for certain guests, particularly if they have advanced notice. · Don't forget desserts and drinks. Allergens can be included in drinks and desserts as well. Offer gluten-free desserts and gluten-free beer as well.

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Your wedding timeline guide Wedding planning involves many movable pieces that ultimately need to come together on the big day. Planning is typically a months-long process, and adhering to certain monthly benchmarks can help couples stay the course. Brides magazine offers that the perfect engagement period is 12 to 14 months, which affords ample time to get organized and work with vendors. With that in mind, here's a 12-month timeline for couples getting ready to say "I do."

12 months out At the start of the planning process, establish your budget, hire a wedding planner (optional), choose the wedding party, pick a date, and start to assemble a cursory guest list. This also is a great time to begin touring venues to get a feel for potential ceremony and reception locales.

gowns to arrive in the shop for alterations. If you haven't already done so, be sure to book the wedding venue.

8 months out Reception halls may have their own schedules, but you should think about setting your menu at this time, including deciding if you will host a seated dinner, a buffet or something else. Eight months out also is a good time to finalize the guest list and send savethe-date cards. This also is a good time to visit stores to create registry gift lists.

6 months out Meet with potential florists and other vendors, like transportation companies and hotels, to secure these arrangements. Your place of worship also may require certain classes or preparatory meetings, so be

sure to inquire about these. Meet with a makeup and hair stylist and book a trial. Choose attire for groomsmen and give them a deadline for fittings and orders. If you will not be getting married in a place of worship, hire an officiant at this time.

4 months out Grooms traditionally arrange the honeymoon, so this is a fine time to get those travel plans in order. If you need passports, you should secure them as early as possible, and no later than four months prior to the wedding to ensure processing times. Book cake tastings and order the cake if it is not part of the venue food and beverage package. If you haven't already done so, the bride should have an initial gown fitting, and wedding invitations should be ordered at this time.

2 months out Secure your wedding license and buy wedding party gifts. Address and mail the wedding invitations. Undergo a second gown fitting and work with the seamstress for the final fitting date just before the wedding. Finalize any song selections with the DJ or band. The final details will occur in the last weeks before the wedding. Buy all the small accessories and items, undergo final fittings and check in with all vendors for final payments and to ensure they are on schedule. Notify the reception hall of the final guest count. Once the wedding day arrives, couples who have done their best to stay on schedule can relax and have a great time with family and friends.

11 months out Now is the time to get a firm handle on the theme and scope of the wedding. Start picking wedding colors and overall design. Also, interview and hire vendors, such as photographers, bands and videographers. These vendors tend to book up quickly as wedding season draws near, so it's never too early to book them.

10 months out This is a good time to start shopping for a wedding gown because it might take some trial and error to find the perfect dress. You also can start shopping for wedding party attire at this time. Check with formalwear vendors to see how long it will take for the


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The rise of the microwedding The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far-reaching. People from all walks of life have had to confront the pandemic and the changes it wrought, and many of those changes could have some staying power. Wedding industry experts note that one of the more noticeable and potentially long-lasting effects of the pandemic has been the rise of microweddings. The 2020 Real Weddings Study (COVID-19 Edition) found that 58 percent of couples who planned to get married in 2020 ended up reducing their guest list by a significant percentage. The average reduction was 41 percent, and some suspect small ceremonies may be the new normal in the years ahead.

Microweddings Microweddings are not necessarily a new trend, as couples have always had the option of getting married with only a small number of family and friends in attendance. However, microweddings could be an emerging trend, and cost may have a lot to do with that. The Wedding Planner Institute notes that microweddings cost anywhere from $1,600 to $10,000, though the group notes that most microweddings fall somewhere in the middle of that range. A 2020 survey from TD Ameritrade found that 47 percent of respondents felt that cost of living was the biggest threat to their financial security and long-term investments. Engaged couples confronting the well-documented post-pandemic increase in

cost of living, including an unprecedented rise in housing costs, could see expensive weddings as luxuries they simply can't afford. Microweddings could be viewed as a cost-effective way to combat the rising cost of living that still allows couples to share their big day with their closest friends and family members. The WPI has urged wedding planners to offer microwedding packages in an effort to capitalize on this emerging trend. Data from The Wedding Report indicated that the total number of weddings would rise to 2.77 million in 2021, an increase of roughly 650,000 over the yearly average. Even if only a fraction of couples who tie the knot in 2022 opt for a microwedding, a preexisting microwedding package can help wedding planners secure their business. Couples who opt for microweddings may do so to save money, but also to avoid the effort and save the time required to plan more lavish affairs. Such couples may be especially excited to work with wedding planners who can plan their weddings regardless of how small the affair may be.

What goes into a microwedding Nothing should be off the table when planning a microwedding. The fewer the people who will be there, the more freedom planners and couples may have. The WPI notes that microweddings afford planners and couples the chance to get personal in ways that may not be possible when orga-


nizing larger affairs. Planners can focus on small details and allow couples to make their ceremonies and receptions as personal as they would like. Couples

who prefer microweddings tend to emphasize minimalism, so keeping things simple is something to keep in mind when planning microweddings.

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Timeline tips: Factors to consider when planning your wedding day timeline The notion that "timing is everything" is applicable in many situations, perhaps none more so than on a couple's wedding day. Many couples spend months, if not years, planning their weddings in the hopes that all that hard work will ultimately result in a day they will cherish forever. The sheer volume of things to do on a wedding day can make couples feel overwhelmed. Those feelings can be overcome by emphasizing timing on the day of the wedding. Wedding day timelines will differ depending on variables that are unique to each couple's wedding, but the

following are some factors to consider as couples organize the big day.

Venue(s) The schedule couples adhere to on their wedding day will be greatly affected by their choice of venue. Does the venue have somewhere on premises for the couple and their party to get ready? Are the ceremony and reception being held at the same venue? Before creating a timeline, consider the location of the ceremony and reception venue(s) and the accommodations each provides. Getting to and from multiple facilities won't be

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an issue if couples choose a multipurpose venue where they can get ready, tie the knot and dance the night away all in one place. Couples who will be moving from venue to venue throughout the day must build the time it takes them and their party to get about into their timelines.

Wedding party The size of the wedding party also bears consideration when planning a wedding day timeline. Large parties will require more time to get ready, and that should be factored into couples' timelines. Large parties also may be harder to corral and transport from place to place, so couples should build some extra time into their timelines to account for that. Small wedding parties can be easier to manage, so couples with small parties may be able to begin their timelines a little later in the day than those with large wedding parties.

Weather Weather is the most unpredictable variable couples need to plan for on their wedding days. As the wedding day approaches, couples can monitor the day's forecast and then make any necessary changes to account for inclement weather. Getting around in a rainstorm will likely take longer than moving about on a sunny day, so some minor tweaks to the timeline may be necessary if storms or another type of inclement weather is in the forecast. Couples can access wedding day timeline templates on various websites. But it's important that couples remember that their weddings are unique, so online guidelines might not be realistic. A careful consideration of a handful of variables specific to couples' weddings can help them craft timelines that make their big day go smoothly.

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Wedding day tipping guidelines Vendors may be in the background during a wedding, but the roles they play are vital to making ceremonies and receptions memorable for couples and their guests. It's customary to tip wedding vendors who provide great service. The wedding experts at The Knot note that the following guidelines can help couples determine how much to tip the unsung heroes who make their weddings so memorable.

Photographer/ videographer Photographers and videographers are unique among wedding vendors because their work will be looked at for decades to come. The Knot notes that it's not necessary to tip wedding photographers and videographers who own their own studios. Their fees are all the compensation they need. However, many photographers and videographers do not own their own studios, and the efforts of such professionals are worthy of a little something extra at the end of the night. The Knot notes that a tip between $50 and $200 is standard for these professionals, and that tip can be given at the end of the reception.

Reception staff The reception staff works as hard as anyone during the wedding, and those efforts merit a good tip. Many reception venues include gratuities in their food and drink fees, and couples can check to see if they have already tipped staff and if they think the mandatory gratuity is sufficient. A tip between 15 and 20 percent of the food and drink fee

is standard. Maître d' fees also may be built into the wedding contract. If not, a tip between $200 and $300 is standard and can be delivered at the end of the night.

Band/DJ Music features prominently at many wedding receptions. Bands and/or DJs can set the tone for a fun night couples and their guests will remember for years to come. Tipping musicians is optional, but it's the norm to do so when they provide exceptional service. Couples who have a band playing can tip between $25 and $35 per musician, while DJs generally receive a tip between $50 and $150.

or synagogue where the ceremony will take place are not typically given a gratuity. However, The Knot notes that a donation to the place of worship between $100 and $500 is standard. Couples who still want to give the officiant a little extra can

tip between $50 and $100. Independent officiants who receive fees directly from the couple need not be tipped. These figures can serve as guidelines, but couples also can give a little extra if they feel their vendors have gone above and beyond.

Drivers Many transportation firms also include gratuities in their contracts, so couples should check to see if they've already tipped limo or bus drivers before paying them a little extra. If the tip is not included and the drivers arrive on time and get guests to the wedding on time, then a tip that's between 15 and 20 percent of the total bill is standard.

Delivery personnel Individuals who deliver items like cakes and flowers are typically given a gratuity upon delivery. A tip between $5 and $10 per person is standard, though individuals who deliver items like tables, chairs and portable restroom facilities and then set those items up may be deserving of a little extra.

Officiants Officiants who are affiliated with a church


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The other side of the lens

Berkshire professionals give their perspective on getting the most from your photographer BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER Special Sections Editor

Photographers are wizards. Who else could trap a moment in time and contain it within the borders of a picture frame? While the end result might look like magic, the reality is that photographers get their shots with a combination of skill, technology and intuition. The best photographers are those that understand their subjects’ individual personalities, the unique dynamics of each relationship, and let that guide their camera. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHELSEA PROULX PHOTOGRAPHY

Photographer Chelsea Bordonaro advises clients to relax and let photo-worthy moments happen naturally, as in this 2021 socially distant wedding via laptop. " There's no better advice than, just have a good time," she said.

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Saturday, February 12, 2022 Of all the professionals responsible for putting a wedding together, photographers almost certainly have the most intimate relationship with their clients. Along with being physically close throughout the day, the photographer has to be in tune with each clients’ emotional state in order to capture the feelings behind each image. For that reason, the biggest step a couple can take towards getting spectacular photos is choosing a photographer who fits into their vision, not only on a stylistic level, but also a personal one. “The number one thing I think people don't recognize about photography is that it's more than just the beautiful images that so many people can take,” said Casey Dawn Wright, owner of Casey Dawn Photography. “You have to really know that the personality of the person behind the camera is who you want beside you for a lot of really private moments.” “I highly recommend sticking with whatever photographer makes you feel really comfortable. They’re a third wheel on the wedding day,” advised Chelsea Bordonaro of Chelsea Proulx Photography. “I can't even stress that enough. You just have to get along with your photographer. They’re the person with you all day long.”

Building relationships For many photographers, the engagement photo session is a vital step in forming the bond that will inform their work on the wedding day.

Photographer Tricia McCormack, owner of Tricia McCormack Photography, includes engagement sessions in all of her wedding packages. “I think that a lot of people might not realize the value of it, although I do try to explain it, to be able to get to know a couple,” she said. “We become friends in that engagement session, but also: Are they quiet together? Are they silly and goofy together? Are they private people? Then it's not awkward, because I'm not asking them to do things that aren't true to their personalities and their personality as a couple.” “It's just as much a gift for me as it is for them,” Wright said. She and Bordonaro also include engagement photos in each of their packages. “It's almost like dating. I want to know that you're comfortable with me, I want to be comfortable with you.” Engagement shoots can be a valuable experience for couples, as well — especially if one or both partners are apprehensive about being photographed. “I've heard people say, ‘We're just not photogenic and we're super awkward in front of the camera.’ I mean, we all feel that way. I feel that way. There's a rare few that don't feel that way,” McCormack said. “But I think that their real concern is, ‘We want these photos to be forever, and it means a lot to us, but we're just awkward people, and we're scared that we're gonna have 45 minutes and we're gonna screw it up.” The engagement ses-

sion is a much more private, much lower pressure opportunity to get comfortable being the subject of a photographer’s attention. “We highly recommend that you go and do a more casual session, whether it's an engagement session, or an adventure session the week of your wedding — just something to give you an opportunity to get in front of my camera,” Bordonaro said. “I get to know them and how they interact with me and then they get a little bit of experience working with me before the day, so there's a little bit more comfort in working together on their wedding day, when there's just so much going on.” The resulting photos can be a major confidence booster, and tangible proof that they are

not, in fact, totally unphotogenic. “Making it so you have some beautiful photos that you may have thought that you would totally bomb, that's really important,” Wright said.

Letting go of 'perfect' In the era of Instagram and Pinterest boards, it’s easy to worry as much (if not more) about how things will look in photographs as how they’ll look, feel, sound, smell and taste in the moment. But in most cases, trying to wrestle every tiny detail into perfection is both unproductive and, if you’ve hired a competent photographer, unnecessary. “The reason you're hiring a professional … is that we can work in any lighting situation, because we have the knowledge and the skills and the equipment to do so,”

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"I have found that even on the rainiest days you can always find a little break in the downpour and we did," photographer Tricia McCormack wrote of this October 2021 wedding at Gedney Farm in New Marlboro.

Wright said. “If you want to have your wedding in a cave, good. Am I a little uneasy with how easy that's going to be, sure. But it's your wedding, I’m a professional and I should have the equipment and the knowledge to capture it.” Unpredictable weather, an ever-present concern in the Berkshires, is also no obstacle for an experienced photographer. “I joke around with clients and I say I'm part wed-

ding photographer and part meteorologist,” McCormack said. In a recent post on her blog at, McCormack recounted a wedding from October 2021 that took place during a rainstorm. “I have found that even on the rainiest days you can always find a little break in the downpour and we did,” she wrote. “With two photographers a quick 5 minutes can yield a lot of perspectives

Wedding Planning AS IF IT WAS OUR OWN Enjoy the fun parts of planning your Wedding day and leave the rest to us. We will be sure to make your day beyond perfect.

and wonderful photos.” The bride recently posted a five star Google review declaring her happiness with how the photos turned out. “She was just so upset that it was just a downpour,” McCormack said. “And then she wrote [her review] and she was like, ‘The pictures are so good. I'm actually glad it rained.’” The same philosophy applies to just about any unexpected turn of events, be they natural

or man-made. “There's so many variables with people and weather,” Wright said. “That's why I'm like, just embrace it. Really just embrace whatever it is, because one of my favorite photos was [taken] in a downpour.” Bordonaro warned against trying to manufacture “camera ready” moments. “Oftentimes you get these people who want to create a moment rather than letting a moment happen for you,” she said. “I would say don't change the way we do our job by staging the moment. Let us capture the moments that are actually truly happening, because that may look different than what your friend's pictures look like from their wedding day.” When it comes to musthave shots, Bordonaro makes sure she knows what to watch out for by asking couples to fill out an extensive question-

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“The number one thing I think people don't recognize about photography is that it's more than just the beautiful images that so many people can take,” Casey Dawn Wright said of choosing the right photographer. “You have to really know that the personality of the person behind the camera is who you want beside you for a lot of really private moments.”

naire “Tell me about your family. What do I need to know? Who doesn’t like who, is there something going on and if someone needs extra accessibility … all the nitty gritty information that hopefully will help me photograph the day better.” From there, it comes down to trust. “I always tell my clients that when I am with you on your day, we will have had multiple contact points, multiple phone calls, so that on that day, I know exactly what your vision is, what pictures you're looking for, who are the most important people, the moments and the details to look for,” McCormack said. “So on that day, you're not thinking to yourself, ‘Is she getting this?’ … I've done the digging to find out that information. I really love

the fact that the couple thinks, ‘She's got this and we don't have to worry about a thing.’” “I just want [clients] to have trust in me,” she said. “I just want them to know that I've got their best interests in mind. And that if they trust me, I'm gonna get the beautiful shot.” Letting go and simply enjoying the day as it happens can ultimately lead to better photos. The more relaxed everyone is,

the more authentic and meaningful the pictures will be. “There's no better advice than, just have a good time,” Bordonaro said. “You've worked so hard to play on your wedding day. Don't let the jitters of being in front of a camera bother you the whole day, because then you're not going to be in the moment.” Wright voiced a similar sentiment. “I often find myself reminding couples that this is their wed-

ding day and that their happiness is more important than … making your parents happy, or your grandparents happy, and thanking every table, and all of those things that take away from the day you put so much time energy and money into,” she said. “When you really just need to stop and enjoy each other and laugh off the craziness, because craziness is inevitable. Like you just have to laugh.”

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How to avoid wedding reception seating mistakes Weddings are great opportunities for people to gather and celebrate the melding of two families into one. Weddings are a melting pot, and while the ultimate goal is for all guests invited to mingle and have a good time, preexisting relationships may cause some wedding-day interactions to be strained. However, with careful planning and some best behavior on the parts of all involved, getting hitched can go off without a hitch. It's possible for guests who may have tumultuous pasts to keep the peace, but this also can be ensured through careful seating

arrangements. This is just one factor couples need to consider when deciding where guests will sit and dine at receptions. It's important to avoid some common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not having a seating plan Let guests sit where they want and chaos may ensue. People may think they're entitled to certain seats, may hop into seats vacated by someone getting up to use the restroom or any number of other scenarios. Seating arrangements also ensure everyone is accounted for across the room.

Mistake #2: Seating families separately

Mistake #4: The dreaded kids' table

Unless there are rifts between certain family members, it's best to seat parents and children at the same tables.

Young children can probably get away with sitting at a dedicated kids' table, although it may mean their parents have to interrupt their experiences by checking on their kids throughout the night. A bigger faux pas is to sit teenagers or twentysomethings at the kids table even if they seem like youngsters to you. Set a strict cut-off age for a children's table.

Mistake #3: Trying to force new friendships Avoid trying to figure out who will get along by creating a potpourri table. A cousin in a band will not necessarily want to sit next to your coworker who plays guitar simply because they have a shared love of music. A wedding is not the time to try to create new friendships. If it's meant to be, they'll connect in a more organic way.

Mistake #5: Being too strict in seating It's one thing to direct couples or singletons to specific tables, quite another to assign specific seats. Do not dictate exactly where at the table a guest should sit. Some people arrive early, others late, and it is up to them to work out how to arrange themselves at the table.

Mistake #6: Failing to get family feedback Always check with your parents and future in-laws as resources about how to seat certain guests. They'll likely know who will make the best table-mates, especially if couples are not familiar with everyone on the guest list.

Mistake #7: Not being aware of disabilities or needs


Be conscious of guests' needs. An elderly relative may not be comfortable in front of the DJ table. A person in a wheelchair may need easy access to and from the reception room. It's important to be mindful of these special needs.

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'Plus one' etiquette for wedding guests Couples need to carefully consider which guests will be extended the option to bring a "plus one" to the wedding. Making a wedding guest list is seldom an easy task. Couples often find that many people are worthy of an invitation, which can make creating a guest list tricky for those with budgets in mind. According to data from the online wedding resource The Knot, the average wedding catering cost per guest is roughly $70. However, catering costs will vary depending on the reception venue, the number of guests, the foods chosen, and the region of the country where the wedding takes place.

When creating their guest lists, couples may wonder if they have to offer all guests the option of bringing a "plus one" to the occasion. As with other wedding day etiquette questions, the plus one concept is not set in stone.

Any guest who is married It's typically standard to invite a couple as a whole to the wedding, even if you've never met the spouse. This often comes up when inviting work friends, according to Vogue magazine. Even if you have never interacted with a coworker's spouse, etiquette dictates that all married guests be allowed to bring their spouses along.

Any guest who is engaged or is in a serious long-term relationship It can be challenging to know the relationship status of everyone who will be invited to the wedding, but chances are you'll have a good idea of those people closest to you. Include a plus one for guests who are engaged or in long-term relationships.

Consider guests who may not know others Weddings often are times when childhood friends reconnect, or people who haven't seen each other in a while come together. If there's a good chance someone who is

single and is invited to the wedding may not know anyone else there except the couple, extend a plus one as a courtesy.

Include the wedding party All members of the wedding party should be offered the option of bringing a date to the wedding. Apart from these guidelines, couples can establish any other rules, such as no plus ones for guests under a certain age or those who are not in serious relationships. The Knot also says it is polite to find out who the plus one will be so that wedding reception seating cards include that person's name instead of "and guest."


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Questions to ask prospective wedding officiants Couples make many decisions when planning their weddings. Everything from the design of save-the-date cards to the color of the napkins at the reception tables requires couples' input. Choice of officiant is another decision that's worthy of significant consideration. Many couples may have an officiant in mind before they begin planning their wedding. In such instances, couples may choose an officiant who's affiliated with their place of worship or even a friend or family member who's been ordained or certified to officiate weddings. Couples with no such option can ask the following questions as they look to hire an officiant for their wedding.

Can you legally officiate our wedding? Each state has its own requirements regarding who can sign the paperwork necessary for couples to be considered legally married. An officiant should meet these requirements.

What services do you provide? Some officiants will do more than officiate the wedding. Some will help couples obtain their marriage license and even submit the documentation after the wedding. Those services can be important, but many couples are more concerned with what officiants will do before and during the ceremony. Ask if the officiant will write his or her own remarks to be deliv-

ered during the ceremony. Some couples may want to write remarks for the officiant, while others may need help crafting the message they want to convey.

How flexible are you? Ask how officiants handle feedback and how willing they are to deliver remarks they did not necessarily write themselves. Some officiants may have a template they customarily follow, but that doesn't necessarily mean they won't stray and personalize the ceremony based on couples' wishes. Couples should ask such officiants how far they're willing to stray from their routine if necessary.

Do you have a portfolio? Written testimonials from past clients can be invaluable, but couples can get a true feel for an officiant's style by watching video of ceremonies they've officiated in the past. Ask prospective officiants if they can share video of weddings they've presided over. It's not a red flag if officiants have no such video, which couples may have forgotten to share. But video can help couples get an accurate idea of how officiants may preside over their ceremony.

Will we work together prior to the ceremony? Many officiants will ask to meet with a couple at least once before the wedding so they can get to know them as well as possible. Ask each officiant if this is their policy. Pre-wedding meetings can be conducted in person or via Zoom. When discussing meeting before the wedding, ask the officiant if he or she will attend the wedding rehearsal. It's not customary for officiants to do so, though some might be willing to attend the rehearsal, especially if the ceremony will feature any elaborate components that require their involvement.

Miscellaneous considerations Couples also may want to broach some additional topics when questioning prospective officiants. Such topics may include: · Officiant's attire · Backups if the officiant falls ill prior to the ceremony · Officiant fees, and if extra services like attending the rehearsal incurs additional charges · Officiants' experience

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Navigating an interfaith wedding Celebrating family histories and traditions is a major component of weddings. During a wedding, two families come together and begin to merge their unique takes on life. When couples tying the knot come from the same cultural or religious backgrounds, fitting the pieces together may be relatively easy. However, when a wedding must incorporate two different religions each with its specific traditions and requirements - a couple may not know where to start. These tips may help the process along.

Communication It is important to open a dialogue with all involved parties at the onset to be able to craft a ceremony and subsequent celebration that aligns with the faiths of the couple and their families. This dialogue shares what everyone expects. Ask everyone to rank the rituals they would like to be included by order of importance, and then use this as a guide when planning the ceremony.

Discuss options Certain houses of worship may be strict in regard to what they allow during interfaith ceremonies. Conservative congregations may even frown upon marrying outside of one's religion. That may spark an entirely new conversation about converting so couples can be married in the eyes of the church,

temple or mosque. More reformed places may be open to blending certain traditions from both faiths. Couples often lean toward having one officiant from each faith at the ceremony to incorporate key rites into the wedding.

Neutral ground Interfaith couples may opt to have the ceremony at a neutral location so they do not appear to be paying favor to one faith over another. Determine if religious officiants can oversee the ceremony outside of a place of worship and still have the marriage recognized by the tenets of that faith.

Secular officiant In instances when it may seem like there are too many obstacles to having faith-guided ceremonies for interfaith weddings, wedding planners may suggest some creative solutions, including working with a secular officiant. Traditions such as lighting a unity candle or blending two different sands together to signify the blending of two faiths and families can be part of the ceremony, suggests the lifestyle company Sheerluxe.


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Give others tasks Couples may be unfamiliar with each other's religious traditions. Sharing faith-specific wedding planning tasks can help couples and their families become more familiar with these customs.

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Set for success What you can do to let your stylist's work shine BY KIMBERLY KIRCHNER Special Sections Editor

Wedding day prep is stressful enough without uncooperative hair or misbehaving skin complicating the process. Fortunately, there are steps you can take in the months, weeks and days leading up to the big event to set yourself up for styling success. Alicia Powers, owner of Four One Three Salon, recommends clients start thinking about their wedding hair plans long before their ceremony date. “Most brides generally want to grow their hair as long as they can, so they're able to do whatever updo they would like,” she observed. “I would be planning from the time that the engagement begins and be doing regular haircuts up until [the date] to get as much length as possible before the wedding.” It’s best to get any significant haircuts done well in advance (Powers recommends at least eight weeks ahead of the wedding day) to allow the hair time to settle into its new length. Coloring should also happen ahead of time — no one wants hair dye stains on their wedding dress! — with the timing dependent on the kind of treatment. “If you're covering gray, at least two weeks. No longer than three or four,” Powers said. “And pretty much

the same with a blonding service.” “I always recommend a clear gloss at least the week before. There's no tone or color in it, it just adds some shine and kind of seals the cuti-

cle down, and also helps with frizz,” she said. Since many of her bridal clients are also regulars at her salon, she often works these services into their normal hair routine. “If I'm doing my

client’s color a month before, I'll do the fresh gloss and then they'll just do a treatment the week of.” She also suggests protein and moisture treatments to strengthen and condition hair. “A lot of


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Saturday, February 12, 2022 clients will choose to do it in the salon, because when it's used with heat, it's definitely a little bit more effective,” she said. “But there's definitely a take home version as well.” Strategic skin care leading up to the wedding can help achieve a fresh, healthy looking face, while also creating the best possible surface for makeup. “I would definitely recommend some kind of facial beforehand, even if it's months beforehand,” Powers said. “And then the week before, just doing a regular exfoliation.” It’s best to avoid aggressive treatments or new products as the wedding day approaches, to prevent any unexpected and inconvenient reactions. Opinions seem divided on the subject of washing your hair right before the wedding. Powers is in the clean hair camp. “I think the myth in the past was always, dirty hair is better,” Powers said. “Absolutely, clean, dry hair the day of the wedding. If you’re getting married on a Saturday, wash your hair at least Friday, if not Saturday.” Booking a stylist should also be at the top of the to-do list at the start of planning. Because providing hair and makeup for an entire wedding party requires a lot of hands, it’s important to schedule as far in advance as possible to make sure the salon will have enough stylists available. Powers stressed the importance of having an accurate headcount at this stage, because it determines

the number of stylists that will be needed. The trial, however, shouldn’t happen too far ahead of the wedding date. Powers recommends scheduling the trial for a month or so before the wedding. “I wouldn't say six months ahead because your hair and your skin can change so much in six months, versus one,” she said. On the day, the styling team will do their best work when given an adequate space within to work. “If we're traveling to you, definitely having good lighting and good space, and mirrors,” Powers said. “Not putting four stylists in a really, really small space, while we try to give you guys the best experience that we can give you that's not in the salon.” Also important? “Being on time. We’re usually in a four or five hour window and sometimes we have nine people,” Powers said. “Making sure that the whole bridal party is there and ready to have their hair and makeup done, and not showing up with wet hair … so we can make sure they stay on time for the day and we're not the reason that the wedding's being pushed back.” Powers and her team have an arsenal or products and techniques to keep hair looking good all day long, but perpetually-prepared types can keep their minds at ease with Powers’ simple emergency kit recommendation. “A can of hairspray and some bobby pins,” she said. “You can do a lot with a bobby pin.”


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Fun ways to utilize social media in your wedding Young couples tying the knot today grew up with social media, so it's no great surprise that so many want to utilize various platforms when planning their weddings. In fact, the Brides 2018 American Wedding Survey found that 87 percent of brides turned to the social media platform Pinterest for inspiration when planning their weddings. On the surface, modern wedding ceremonies and receptions may look similar to the nuptials of yesteryear. However, engaged couples have increasingly incorporated social media into their weddings, and the following are some fun and creative ways to embrace that trend.

Create a social media photo booth Guests may take more pictures at modern weddings than the photographers who were hired to document the happy couple's big day from start to finish. Social media boards are digital screens that display social media walls. Live event social media boards collect and curate content from social media channels and display it on a single digital screen. Users, in this case a couple's guests, simply use a predetermined hashtag when posting photos and the images are then displayed on digital screens in real time. This can be a fun way to engage guests during the reception.


Live stream the wedding Live streams became very popular during the pandemic, when couples getting married had to pare down their guest lists in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. But live streams can continue to be used after the pandemic, as there will always be guests who can't make it to the wedding. Facebook Live was a go-to social media platform for live streaming weddings during the pandemic, and it can be utilized to involve loved ones in the festivities even if they can't be there in person. Live streaming via social media may be especially useful for couples who want to enjoy destination weddings, which tend to be small affairs due to travel constraints.

Hashtag the wedding A couple-specific hashtag can serve as something akin to a wedding album,

only it's one everyone can easily access via the couple's chosen social media platform. Encourage guests to hashtag photos from the wedding so everyone can have a good time looking back on the ceremony and reception once the day has come and gone.

Plan with your party Social media can be as fun, inclusive and useful when planning the wedding as it can during the wedding itself. Brides and grooms can create their own private Pinterest boards and share them with the wedding party. Everyone can then use the private board to bounce ideas off each other. Couples can infuse a little fun into the Pinterest board by encouraging their groomsmen and bridesmaids to post outrageous outfit ideas or submit sing-along song requests to be played during the reception.

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How to give weddings a modern touch No two weddings are the same. Some couples go to great lengths to personalize their weddings, while others make a few minor tweaks to traditional components to make ceremonies and receptions more reflective of their style and the sentiments they hope to convey. Embracing modern trends is one way couples have looked to set their weddings apart from traditional ceremonies. There are no rules governing weddings, and that affords couples certain freedoms as they seek to incorporate a modern sensibility into the festivities. For example, couples can modernize certain components of their weddings while remaining loyal to more traditional elements, or they can fully embrace a modern aesthetic. That choice of how modern to make a wedding is up to the couple tying the knot, but the following are some ways to give weddings a modern touch.

with loved ones. When picking a hotel for guests, find lodging that incorporates sustainability into its dayto-day operations.

dition, brides who want to be walked down the aisle by both of their parents, as opposed to just their father, should not hesitate to do so.

Retire certain traditions

Look for a modern venue

Couples need not feel pressured to incorporate traditions that no longer reflect modern sensibilities. It's up to couples to determine which traditions to retire, but customs like the garter toss and bouquet toss may no longer resonate with modern couples or their guests. In ad-

One of the most awe-inspiring ways to give a wedding a modern touch is to choose a venue that reflects a modern aesthetic. Vaulted ceilings, white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows can create a clean, modern feel. Outdoor ceremonies also can create a modern ambiance.

Adjust your attire Black tuxedos and white wedding dresses are among the first things to come to mind when imagining traditional weddings. Couples can stay formal but embrace a more modern look by choosing more colorful tuxes for grooms and groomsmen and picking a wedding gown with a flair of color. Brides also can allow bridesmaids to pick their own bridesmaid dresses to expand the modern look even further. There's no shortage of ways for couples to give their weddings a modern touch.

Leave a small carbon footprint Eco-conscious couples can embrace an environmentalist ethos when planning their weddings by doing everything they can to eliminate waste and promote conservation. Send electronic invitations and save-the-date cards in lieu of paper alternatives and choose a reception venue that serves only locally sourced food and beverages. In lieu of wedding favors, which tend to be individually wrapped, make a donation in guests' names to a local environmental group and share that information


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Featured Vendors The ringmaster (Pg. 5) KJ Nosh Catering Company 339 Tyler St., Pittsfield 413-464-9582

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How to take the hectic out of your wedding day It's easy for couples to feel a little overwhelmed on their wedding day. Some simple strategies can take the hectic out of couples' wedding day and ensure they keep their focus on one another and their loved ones. Weddings are among the most complex events many people will ever plan. CouJONATHAN BORBA/UNSPLASH ples often try to go the extra mile in an effort to make the day memorable for themselves and their guests. That pressure can make a wedding day feel a little frenzied. Thankfully, there are various ways to ensure the vibe of the big day is happy and not hectic.

Hire a wedding planner/coordinator Leaving the nitty gritty to a professional wedding planner takes a lot of pressure off of couples. The renowned wedding resource The Knot says wedding planners are clued into everything there is to know about a wedding and they can be tapped to take care of just about anything on couples' to-do list.

Consider a package deal All-inclusive resorts are popular vacation spots because variables like entertainment, lodging, food, drinks, and more is all taken care of, leaving vacationers with little to do other than show up and relax. Couples can apply that same approach on their wedding day. Host the ceremony and reception at the same site, which takes the potentially problematic issue of getting guests to and fro out of the equation. Some venues may even provide in-house vendors like photographers and florists. Such vendors' familiarity with the venue reduces the risk of surprises that can derail wedding day schedules.

Pick your priorities Avoid getting bogged down on a million details by making a list of your priorities when planning. Couples can revisit this list a couple of days before their wedding so they remember what's most important to them on the big day. This refresher can ensure couples don't get too concerned if minor issues arise during their big day, helping them remain calm and keeping a focus on all the fun to be had during the day.

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