Saturday, March 16, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Wed in Mexico

by DeeDee Newell

You know when the weather is frightful (snow, rain, cold, ice) and you daydream about getting away?


Well, I usually day dream of Mexico! I love Mexico. It is a fabulous place for one, a couple,a family and even groups. It's amazing for relaxing, having fun, business, milestone events and anything else really. It's an amazing place with so many beautiful cities.



Hyatt Hotel Cancun

Mexico is also an incredible Country for weddings! Everything you could possibly want to make your wedding vision come to life can be found here. From cultural, colourful and romantically rich elements; architectural locations and archeological sites to superb dining, family friendly and Luxury Butler-Inclusive Resorts, Mexico has something for all tastes and all budgets! It's also very guest-friendly. So your guests will be taken care of every step of the way!



Hyatt Hotel Cancun

My top 5 favourite things about Mexico are the following (in no particular order):

1. Very Romantic - From the sunrise to sunset, being in love is what Mexico is all about.

2. Cuisine - Some of the most delicious and most creatively presented food I've ever had.

3. The People - People from all walks of life live and work in Mexico! Always smiling and wanting to help and offering suggestions on how you can enjoy your time there.

4. Cultural Diversity - There is something for everyone in Mexico. From amazing nightlife, entertainment, historical sites and adventure to luxurious spa's and beach parties.

5. Budget-friendly - Now, don't confuse that with cheap. Mexico has so many value-added options at their resorts, restaurants and nightlife to keep you enjoying every minute without worrying about having to spend an arm and a leg. Again, there is something for everyone, so make sure you are specific with your budget needs when looking to book with your Destination Wedding Planner or Travel Agent.

Moon Palace Resorts



Monday, April 30, 2012

7 THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT YOUR WEDDING (BUT YOUR WEDDING PLANNER WILL)

By Melissa Nowakowski of Et Lofte Events



When it comes to weddings, there is so much effort and preparation that goes into the "big day" and everyone wants everything to be perfect. But there are a lot of things that a couple should keep in mind both during the planning process and for the wedding day itself. And a lot of the time it doesn't come to mind or often goes unsaid...unless you have a Wedding Planner of course.

Here are some things that most people likely won't tell you about planning your wedding (but that a good Wedding Planner will):


1. That two year old Flower Girl or Ring Bearer may not make it to the end of the aisle (and that's OK!)
If you choose to have a very young Flower Girl or Ring Bearer you have to accept that there is a possibility that they may not make it to the end of the aisle (or even go down the aisle at all). Sudden shyness, fear or being distracted are all likely possibilities. And if they don't make it down the aisle, your ceremony procession won't be ruined. In all reality no one will care. It may even provide a lighthearted moment. So avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the little ones (and yourselves!). If you're truly unsure of whether or not your Flower Girl or Ring Bearer can do the job you're planning to give them, opt to not have one. There's no rule that says you have to.


2. It's rain, not acid. 
Everyone wants a beautifully sunny, warm day for their wedding. But hey, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. If increment weather is threatening to rain on your parade, don't let it set you into a panic. It's just rain, not acid. It's not going to melt away your wedding. The key thing is to be prepared. Have matching golf umbrellas handy (a good photographer will be able to set up some awesome positioning/shots utilizing those umbrellas) and have back-up plans for anything happening outdoors whether it's the ceremony, reception or your Wedding Party photos. No one is going to judge your wedding day because you had rough weather. So just accept that you might get wet and move on. (Or don a super cute pair of rain boots and have fun with it!)


3.  S*** Happens. Roll with it.
Any wedding professional who says they can make your wedding day "perfect" is full of it. There is no such thing as a "perfect" wedding day. Stuff can happen. Mistakes can happen. Delays can happen. Bad weather can happen. Just roll with the punches and you'll find that your wedding day will be happy no matter what transpires. And if you have a Wedding Planner you've got it made because they'll do all the stressing and fixing for you which makes ignoring the not-so-great stuff and focusing on all that "hey-I'm-getting-married-today" goodness that much easier.


4.  Not all wedding professionals can give you "discounts" or negotiate their fees. 
There are so many magazine articles and blog posts out there that give you tips on how to "negotiate" with wedding professionals or how to get "discounts". But here's a little secret: Not every wedding professional can give you those discounts or can negotiate their fees. And that doesn't make them bad vendors. That makes them great vendors because they actually value their profession and what they can do for you. You have to understand that this is a wedding professional's livelihood. If you wouldn't accept your Boss docking your salary because they don't want to pay you that much why would you expect a wedding professional to doc their fee? It's important to focus on the quality of service that you'll get, not the price. And if you can't afford that quality, consider downsizing on another element in your wedding so that you can. A good Wedding Planner won't promise to get you "discounts" for all of your vendors. They'll explain that some may offer discounts, others may offer incentives and some will just do their absolute best to make you happy on your wedding day. Focus on what they can DO for you, not on what the dollar sign says.

PS: That goes for us Wedding Planners too!


5. You don't have to please everyone.
Everyone has an opinion or advice as to what you should do or have with your wedding. But that mean that you have to actually incorporate every idea, tradition or demand into it. The biggest mistake you can make is creating a wedding that makes everyone else happy but leaves you stressed and feeling as though it's not about the two of you anymore. I've said it once and I'll say it again, the key words in this scenario is "I'll take that into consideration". Then consider the idea/advice/demand and either put it into practice, toss it or compromise. Parents have their own idea of how weddings should be but while some of their points may be valid in terms of etiquette, culture or religion, you have to remember that they only know how things were done when they got married and they don't quite realize how much the times have changed. If your parents don't like something that you've incorporated, they'll get over it. Trust me. In the end they just want you to be happy (even if they aren't saying it at that moment). Friends, family members and those in your wedding party all, I'm sure, have fantastic ideas but they may not have your budget in mind. The only people that you have to please on your wedding day is your guests and yourselves. If your guests are fed, entertained and respected and you are having the time of your life, then bravo -- you've done what's appropriate.


6. It is not acceptable to be a "Bridezilla" or "Groomzilla".
The fact that there are television programs out there that glamorize the "Bridezilla/Groomzilla" mentality just kills me. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's not even entertaining. The whole "it's my day and it has to be my way" line of thinking is just plain unacceptable. Yes, you want a fantastic wedding day and you want to have a good time. But so do your guests, your wedding party and those who are working their hardest to make that happen. It's all about respect. Giving out as much respect for those celebrating with and working for you will be reciprocated ten fold. Having an overall nasty attitude will just damper your wedding with negativity which defeats what you were trying to achieve in the first place doesn't it?  Refer to point #3 and understand and respect that your wedding will only be as undesirable or enjoyed as your attitude.


7.  Those close to you are as nervous and excited for your wedding day as you are. (Including your wedding professionals!) 
If you have butterflies, can't sleep and are jittery the night before the wedding...guess what...so do those close to you. Even if they don't say it or show it, they all want you to have the absolute best and most memorable wedding day and are secretly crossing their fingers for you. No matter what may transpire before the wedding day, there is nothing but love and excitement and good thoughts for you on the wedding day. So on your wedding day breathe in every laugh, every tear and every pitter-pat of your heart and feel that love and excitement in the air and enjoy one of the most happiest moments of your lives.







Sunday, April 29, 2012

Don't forget the Tip: How much to tip your Wedding Vendors.

by Denise Georgiou-Newell of WeDDings Jubilee Planning

First off, let me preface this by saying that tipping is not a requirement, however it is normal to show your appreciation of the hard work your wedding vendor has done to make your day a success with the service they have provided. You should also check your contracts to see if Gratuities or Service Tips are already included. If you are unclear, just ask.

Why you should tip:
In general if your vendor has provided great service you should tip. If your wedding vendor has gone above and beyond, you should tip. If your wedding vendor was easy to deal with, listened to your needs and delivered exceptional service, you should tip. Having said that, the form of a gratuity is up to you.


Gratuity Guidelines
Below you will find a general guideline indicating percentages and dollar figures, however, although monetary gifts are appreciated, tips in the form of testimonials, referrals and/or a gift are also wonderful options.


Your Wedding Coordinator/Planner – 10--15% of their fee. If they do an exceptional job or have gone above and beyond

Florist – Florists can be tipped based on drop-off location. $15.00 per location. Example: Drop off at Brides House, Church and Reception Venue = 3 locations @ $15.00. Total tip: $45.00 This covers drop-off and set-up.

Decorator/Designer: Does not need to be tipped, however, if you have had exceptional service and they have given you amazing service, great value and great tips & tricks to make your wedding day easier, a tip is appreciated . Alternatively a Thank you Card and Gift is an option.

DJ - $50 - $200. If there is more than one (DJ & MC) place each in a separate envelope. The rule of thumb I like to go by is this: If your DJ has gone above and beyond to track down difficult tracks, put together a compilation, coordinate with your entertainment, set up your lighting etc., to make your d├ęcor, music coordination, speeches and overall energy amazing, the better you should tip.

Photographer and Videographer – If your Photographer and Videographer have provided good service and delivered the great photos, you can tip them when you pick up your photos. $50-$200.

Servers - If the tip is not already on the contract, 15% of the total catering bill is recommended. (Your servers and Wedding Planning Team have the most strenuous job on your wedding day), they are up and about all day preparing your event and accommodating your guests.

Bartenders - 10% of the total liquor bill or $75-$100 each bartender. Make sure that a tip hasn’t been added to your contract already. It is bad etiquette for a Bartender to have a tip jar on the bar on your wedding day. Ensure that they are aware that they will be tipped at the end of the night.

Ceremony or Reception Musicians - $10/hr per musician. A band normally gets about 10-15% of their total fee given to the person in charge.

Entertainers/Dancers/Magicians - $50 and up per entertainer.

Banquet or Catering manager – Only needs to be tipped if they have provided exception services. $50-$75.

Officiant/Minister/Justice of the Peace– Donation to the church or organization. A tip may offend some so it’s a good idea to ask.

Church Ceremony: A donation is often appreciated.

Makeup artist or Hair Stylists – Same as you would tip them regularly 10-15%

Limousine/Bus/Transportation: Drivers – 10-15% of the limousine bill, given at the end of the service.

Shuttle Bus Drivers (Destination Weddings) - $1.00/per guest

Valet: $ 1.00 per vehicle

Coat Room Attendant: $1.00/per guest

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011/2012 Wedding Trend Predictions

2011/2012 Wedding Trend Predictions by WeDDings Jubilee Planning

With 2010 out of the way, so are many past trends. This new year brings with it an air of excitement with a new decade beginning; and the anticipation of the 'sure-to-be' jaw-dropping Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Since world events tend to be used as inspiration, it is sure to play a role in your upcoming wedding.

Following is the top 10 list of what Denise Georgiou-Newell of WeDDings Jubilee Planning, feels we will see a lot more of in 2011 and well into 2012.

1. Two Wedding Dresses; One for the ceremony and one for the reception. (Special thanks to Chelsea Clinton for reviving this trend).


2. Couture hair designs; lavish hair accessories; stunning hats as well as high quality veils will be a spotlight this season.

3. Victorian and Edwardian era influences will be prevalent in designer Haute Couture dresses. We will see some breathtaking custom designs from fabulous designers worldwide.


4. Sapphire Blues, Violets and Yellows; Golds; Royal Blues & Purples and Charcoals; will be just some of the colors we see in floral design, decor and accents for the big day.


5. Cakes will be more elaborate and grandiose in their designs. Amazing cake artists will present incredible works of art as a focal point for your special day.


6. Brooch Bridal Bouquets and Wedding Bridal Bouquets with vintage Jewels surrounding them will create personalized and unique arrangements.


7. Liqueur sampling stations, specialty tea stations, wine and champagne stations will create the WOW factor to any after dinner station.


8. There will be a greater focus on the Grooms-to-be. From custom designed wedding attire, grooming services and inspired wedding design . The Groom will definitely shine this season.


9. Destination weddings will continue to rise in popularity, however, there will be a higher demand in private and remote locations. People will seek out intimate villa's, private islands and quaint towns around the world to host their weddings.


10. Couples will be heading to more exotic honeymoon locations. Africa, Thailand and Indonesia will be welcoming a lot more couples in 2011 and 2012 that are looking for a once in a lifetime experience.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Planning to Propose?

by Denise Georgiou-Newell, WeDDings Jubilee

Did you know that most men delay the marriage proposal because they have no idea how to do it? First thing to remember is that your marriage proposal is the beginning of your 'wedding story'. It can be as simple or as lavish as you would like it to be, but it should be personalized to be a wonderful, memorable occasion that you will think about for the rest of your lives.

Here are some fun proposals that will leave her swooning!

1. The 'Hollywood' proposal - You've seen it a dozen times in movies. He puts the ring in her dessert, the violinist serenades them; he gets down on one knee; looks deep into her eyes and asks the magic question: So&So, Will You Marry Me? This is tried, tested and Done!How about you order up a little 'glam' with your question. Have the art gallery host you after hours; a caterer arrange a lovely meal for the two of you; and a saxophonist to serenade you; Dessert could still be the host of your question, but having the words written in chocolate around the plate. Get down on one knee to present the ring and Voila!



2. The Surprise proposal - Try this on for size: take her (or him;)) to the movies (no, don't put the ring in the popcorn). Instead create a slide-show that can be played on the cinema's projector (usually a videographer or photographer can help you create this). Make sure the last slide is of you holding up a "Will You Marry Me Sign." Have the camera guy run it at the end of the movie before the credits ... talk about unforgettable.



3. 'Sweet' and Simple - Arrange to have her favorite cupcakery design cupcakes with the 'question' iced on them. During a 'date night', bring them over as a 'special' treat and have the ring perched on top of one of the cupcakes. That would not only be mouth watering, but would make her heart melt.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ten Tips for a relaxing walk down the aisle

by Denise Georgiou-Newell, WPICC - WeDDings Jubilee


It's so easy to get tied up with wedding plans, that you completely forget about yourself. Following is a list of ten tips to ensuring a stress free journey down the aisle.

1. If you have not made the important investment of hiring a wedding planner, do yourself a huge favour and hire a day-of or month-of coordinator to help wrap up any last minute details, including payment and gratuity distribution, creating an itinerary, confirming your vendors and managing your wedding day. This will leave you with the time you need to de-stress before your big day and will allow you to be free to celebrate your wedding, not work it.

2. Arrange a date for you and your soon-to-be life partner, where you do not talk 'weddings'. Instead, enjoy just spending good, valuable, time together.

Try this: Pack an overnight bag and go to the bus (or train) terminal and pick a place to go to (nearby) that you've never been and explore it. Being spontaneous really takes a load off your shoulders.


3. Get yourself a few Reiki sessions. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It's a great way to get centered and re-focused.

4. Start writing a journal (or a blog). Write about how you and the 'love of your life' met and fell in love. Write things like: what you love about them; why you said 'yes'; how you were proposed to etc. This not only reminds you of the true importance of your day and your vows, but also serves as a great keepsake to share with any future children or refer to on your special anniversaries.

5. Arrange a day with your Mom, Sister, Aunt and/or Grandmother and head to the spa. Get pampered while reminiscing about life growing up. Getting married is your right of passage and important bonding time with the women that were your greatest influences.

6. Ask for help. Put your wedding party to good use. Have them do some of trivial tasks like picking up the guest book, creating your seating cards, table numbers etc.

7. Join a Gym, Yoga or fitness class. This will provide allow you to let all your frustration out while getting in shape. We all know fitness is the top way to relieve stress. It allows you to focus on your breathing which oxygenates the blood. In turn that ‘wakes up’ the brain, relaxing muscles and quieting the mind.

8. Take a walk every day. Before you call it a night or fist thing in the morning, clear your mind by taking a short brisk walk.

9. Listen to your favorite CD; read your fave magazine (non-wedding); or read a good book. It's so easy to 'unknowingly' trade in the things you love for planning your wedding. Make it a point to focus on one of your hobbies at least once everyday.

10. Have a girl's night out. Perhaps a comedy club, dance club or Karaoke. It is known that laughter, dancing and singing are some of the most natural stress relievers.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

iBride receives Apple's Prestigious "Staff Pick" Designation!

iBride, a completely innovative iPhone app, officially launched yesterday after an unprecedented response to its beta release!

Only one day after it was submitted to Apple.com for review, iBride gets approved, featured on Apple's official website and receives Apple's Prestigious "Staff Pick" Designation!

Free download is available now at http://www.ibride.me/iphone as the first step in the birth of a North American wedding network!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Step-Family Stress & Divorce Dilemmas

Written by Kathy T.

Can we avoid Wedding Day problems with divorced parents of the Bride and Groom?


Your Wedding Day can be perfect, even with complicated family backgrounds, but it does require some co-operation! The best case scenario is that everyone gets along when you come from a divorced family, or have multiple step-families and half-siblings. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. And while it is nice to say “just invite everyone and they can decide to come or not”, it does affect the Bride and Groom’s planning, and it can add to the stress level, which is ALWAYS to be avoided.

Using the word divorce on a website dedicated to weddings seems quite distasteful, but these things must be discussed!

Communication is the key to having a wonderful wedding, despite “problems” with formerly-related guests and family members.

If your parents are divorced but still friendly (or at least civil), then usually the only difficulties are whether to seat them at the same table. Don’t. If you have a Dad and a Step-Dad, then who walks the Bride down the aisle? Usually your birth father, but that can be changed if necessary. Both your Mom and your Dad can do it together. Or ask Dad to walk with you down the aisle, and then have your Mom and Step-Dad join in when the minister asks “who gives this woman?” They can all say “we do”. After your First Dance, you usually dance with your Dad, but the third dance can be with Step-Dad (and Groom can dance with Step-Mom if there is one). You shouldn’t create 3 hours of special dances to get everyone in, but you get the idea! The Father’s toast can be done, and then a little later, the Step-Father’s toast. Often, there is a different viewpoint to share on the bringing up of the Bride!

Wedding Day can be difficult for the Bride’s Step-Mom too. All those pictures with your Mother, and special Mom-Daughter moments can leave her feeling left out. Try to talk with Step-Mom and tell her that you love her and want her to be part of your day. Ask her to help you shop for things, and arrange some of the reception details. Make sure you get some special photos with her. Most Step-Mothers realize that they can’t have all of you on your Wedding Day, but it’s a beautiful thing when they get some of you!

Divorced (and still civil) parents of the Groom are easier to accommodate, as they have less visible roles in the event. Many times it is easy enough to seat them at separate tables and to make sure they all get proper photos taken with the newlyweds.

Bride or Groom, if your divorced parents are less-than-friendly, then be sure to tell them everything! Talk with your parents and explain the arrangements for the event. Let them know that this is YOUR day, and you expect them to either get along, or avoid each other for your sake on one day that is meant to be so special! If they know all the plans for the rehearsal, walking down the aisle, and the reception, then they will be less nervous about it, more likely to manage the avoiding game, and more able to deal with any “friction” moments that do occur with the ex-spouse.

As appalling as it seems, it is true that some families just cannot seem to pull themselves together, even for a special event. In this case, then you really have to make some brutal decisions that should not be yours to make when you are planning such a happy occasion. This is the stage where I say “invite everyone and whoever can make it will come”. When it is your own parents that this might exclude, it can be very hard. Try to think of it as though the person lives too far away and could not afford a flight. Or think how you would feel if it was your fifth cousin and they said they had the flu and couldn’t make it. You would go on with your plans and have a wonderful day! This is what you must envision when someone special just can’t bring themselves to share space with a “certain other someone”. It is easy to think that they don’t care for you enough to put their differences aside, but let’s face it, some divorces are nasty, and leave bitter memories and ongoing hurt that can be difficult to work around. If this is the case, it is usually a difficult decision for the person involved, so try to accept their response and move on with your plans!

Now there are some points of advice: NEVER try to invite a parent without their new partner! Even if Mother threatens not to attend if her ex-husband’s girlfriend comes, his invitation should be made out to Dad and Guest. If he doesn’t think it appropriate, he won’t bring her. If Mom is freaking out about it, she’ll have to find a way to come to terms with it. Find room for step-siblings too. If children are invited, then it is quite a snub to leave out the children of Mom’s new husband. Don’t take it personally! The children of divorces often get a lousy deal when it comes to weddings. Be happy with everyone that can make it, and understanding with those that can’t. You wouldn’t be hurt if a friend or co-worker was unable to attend the wedding, so don’t be upset if Dad can’t make it, regardless of the reasons.

Keep the lines of communication working, and hopefully everyone will join in the festivities with eyes wide open and smiles intact!

Best Wishes,

Kathy

Visit iBride.me and start preparing for your wedding.

Feel free to leave your comment!

Trip Fantastic

Do you have any recommendations for honeymoon destinations or planning?


The wedding trip. Honeymoon. In ancient times when grooms kidnapped brides from neighbouring villages and fought off kinsmen at the altar, it is thought that the Honeymoon offered a “cooling off” period; a time when the Bride’s family could become resigned to the marriage and decide not to commence war. By the end of the trip of course, many brides were already “with child”, and it wouldn’t do to have war on the doorstep during a woman’s confinement.

Another theory relates to the term "Honey Moon", which is believed to stem from the Bride’s father supplying the Groom with all the mead (honey beer/wine) that he could drink. It usually took a lunar month to complete the task, so the period of time directly following the marriage was known as the Honey Month and later Honey Moon.

Thankfully, the tradition of the honeymoon has come a long way! It is now recognized as the vacation or trip that the newly married couple take to leave their cares and families behind and begin their new life together in intimate bliss.

And the destinations and themes available for honeymoons are as diverse as the entire planet!

When couples seek advice about honeymoon destinations, it is always good to ask: What do you like to do? If you lean towards potato-like couch sitting, then perhaps a biking and backpack adventure through France is better left to adrenaline-seekers. If three minutes in the sun leaves you looking like a cranberry, you might want to avoid the tropics. So what DO you like to do? Destinations become popular because they are affordable, because they are all-inclusive, because they are exotic, or because they cater to honeymooners and add romance to every meal! It doesn’t mean you have to pick from the top 10.

What are the top 10 honeymoon spots? It varies by study, but I have looked at the lists, and feel that this (in no particular order) may represent a good top 10: Florida, Italy, Hawaii, Aruba, Bermuda, Mexico, Jamaica, Las Vegas, St. Lucia, and Tahiti. Your favourite not on the list? Go there anyway! Thought about travelling to Egypt? Do it!

Honeymooners now have many choices. Not only what city, what country and which hotel to visit, but now there are ecologically-friendly vacations, nature safaris, white water rafting adventures, wine country tours, reef dives, whale watching, shark dives, and roller coaster rides! Amazing! There are no rules, only common sense.

Find something affordable. Starting married life can have lots of expenses and lots of debt, no point adding to it.

Find a destination that makes BOTH of you happy. If Bride wants sunshine and water, but Groom wants casino, then consider Monte Carlo, a cruise, or somewhere else that offers both.

Double-check ALL details with your travel agent upon booking AND then again just before the departure. Last minute surprises or revisions to your itinerary are no fun.

Do some research on the destination. Finding out after you arrive that the country is in the midst of a civil war or rebel uprising is disastrous and appalling! Especially when you may have booked the trip months in advance. (Always pay for the cancellation insurance).

Give the tickets to someone to hold for you on wedding day. You’ve got enough to do. This only applies if you are leaving the morning after the wedding.

Instead of focusing on the destination, consider planning events. I want to…kiss next to a fountain, walk on a beach holding hands, see stunning architecture, watch animals play, camp out, throw a coin into a wishing well, see ancient art, explore a sunken galleon, have dinner on top of the world…

Well, in THAT case…create your own favourite destination! Begin your own vacation traditions. Some couples decide that they will enact a ritual on every vacation, starting with the honeymoon. It could be as simple as packing a small gift to leave on the other’s pillow the first night, or always finding a live jazz band to listen to on the arrival date.

For many couples, the honeymoon trip is the last one they take for quite a while, as they set up new homes and settle into married life. Be sure to make it a great one! Remember that this is the time to connect as never before with your new husband or wife. Live (and most of all love) every moment!

Best wishes,

Kathy


Visit iBride Wedding Directory if you are looking for travel, honeymoons and destination weddings

Feel free to leave your comment!

Friday, April 30, 2004

A Full Party

I have 5 good friends and only 4 places in my wedding party. What can I do for the other friend so he doesn't feel left out?

This is a great question and one that can be an issue for Grooms quite often. It can also be a struggle for the Bride.

First you have to remember something. Your choices for your wedding party should be based on your wishes, not the guilt that may come your way if you make an unpopular choice. Are you asking this person to stand up with you because you want them to or because they asked you to be in their wedding and will most likely expect it? Pleasing yourself and your partner is what really matters, but being strong in the face of "pressure" is not all that easy.

Having said that, there are some great options available to you in order to include special people in the preparations for your special day, and they don’t have to take on the roles of Best Man and Groomsman, Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid in your wedding party.

Most people think first of the MC, or Master of Ceremonies. This is not a gender-specific role, but it does need to be given to someone who has a bit of personality and isn’t reluctant to show it. It can be a great job for even the shyest of people, as they tend to write things down and keep order so things move along quite well.

Usher. There are always at least 2 Ushers at the church, escorting guests to their seats. If you have a particularly large guest count, more than 2 Ushers are needed, so your friend could be one of those. Regardless, the Ushers do not always come from the bridal party. Groomsmen do not always have to be Ushers, and Ushers do not always have to be Groomsmen. And Ushers do not always have to be male.

Guest Book Attendant. This role can also be filled by either a man or a woman. The guest book attendant stands next to the guest book and shows guests where to sign and answers any questions the guests may have. Sometimes, the guest book attendant may also accept wedding gifts on behalf of the bride and groom.

Singer/Musician. If your friend is talented (and only if!), ask him or her to perform a song or play the piano or guitar for someone else as they sing.

Reader. Often, the ceremony will include one or two readings, either from Scripture or from a favourite poem of yours. This is not as intense a role as the MC, but does still require the person to get up in front of a large group. Anyone asked to read at your ceremony will most likely feel very honoured.

You might ask them to say the Grace at the reception. This does require their input and thought well ahead of time. You don't want them to "wing it".

If they are a really good friend, you might even discuss the dilemma with them, explaining why you are limited to only 4 persons in the wedding party, and asking what they might want to do. You could ask them to work closely with the Best Man or Maid of Honour at planning your special events, i.e. Stag party, shower, etc. Then be sure to give them credit at those events.

Don't be upset if you offer one of these important roles to someone and they turn it down. Some people prefer to work behind the scenes. They may not want to do any of these jobs, but would love to help you pick out invitations, or even shop for gifts for other members in your wedding party. Whatever the outcome, just know you were a good friend to consider them, and tried your best to include them in this once-in-a-lifetime event.



Best wishes,

Kathy

Feel free to leave your comment!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Oops, I Forgot

I feel as though I'm forgetting something important. What can it be?


The road to wedded bliss is littered with tasks to complete, in all sizes. Do not despair! You will not collapse. You will get through it. You will (most likely) forget something. If you let it ruin your day, shame on you! Roll with the waves and your ultimate goal will be achieved: you'll be hitched!

It is always assumed that you will remember to send out invitations, order the cake and find a dress. It is the not-so-obvious that sometimes falls through the cracks. For instance, when did you last visit your dentist? You'll be the subject of hundreds of photos and professional portraits. You'll sometimes smile until your jaw aches (but with huge rewards in fabulous pictures) so make sure those whites are pearly!

When you are hiring professional services such as limousines, it is sometimes easy to forget that there will be other cars involved on your special day. Who is picking up Grandma? Is that car decorated?

Some couples assume that if someone they invited has not responded to the invitation, then that means they are not coming. When response cards are pre-addressed and stamped, it is highly unusual for someone to be so lazy as to not drop it in the mail. It is worth a few phone calls to verify the missing cards. Unexpected arrivals can throw off your guest count in a big way. Don't laugh, but have you ever danced with your soon-to-be-spouse? In the olden days of Saturday night dates at the local ballroom, couples fell in love while they "cut a rug". These days, couples do not often do a lot of dancing. Practice! And if you can, wear your crinoline so you can try the dance with a big skirt.

Obviously, make sure you have something old, new, borrowed and blue. Then check to see that you or someone else has brought along these most-forgotten items on your wedding day: marriage certificate, rings, cake knife, the pen for the guest book and the garter.

Now make the Emergency Kit for the bridal room: hairspray, spare pantyhose, bottle of ice water, safety pins, corsage pins, a brush and comb, masking tape (for hurried repairs to fallen hems), stain removal wipes, a complete sewing kit that includes 10 colours of thread and buttons, moist towelettes, bobby pins, feminine hygiene products, hand lotion, nail polish (for both pantyhose and fingernails), nail file and nail clippers, breath mints, adhesive bandages, tissues, antacid tablets, pain relief, smelling salts, emergency cosmetics and some packaged snacks such as granola bars, cereal bars, or crackers. Not only will every bride need at least one of these items, but the entire wedding party and half the guests may come calling as well!

Being prepared is one of the first lessons in wedding planning, but nobody can anticipate everything. If you actually forget something, it will NOT ruin your day unless you let it. If there are no rings, someone in the church will lend you theirs, if the music for the first dance won't play, dance to something else. If the cake doesn't arrive, send out for doughnuts! Your guests came to watch you get married, and you planned the day just for that purpose, so do it, have fun and don't worry!

Best wishes,

Kathy

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Far and Away

What can you do to include a special out of town guest in your wedding day?


You wanted your college roommate to be one of your bridesmaids, but she lives too far away to make it practical. Your Great Aunt lives in Halifax and is flying in for the wedding, but you're sad that she couldn't be at your shower or your rehearsal dinner. What can you do to include them in your special day?

There are many ways to show people how much you care about them when a wedding is at hand! Even on the very day of the special event, you will have dozens of things that need to be checked and completed.

The bride needs a good friend around when she has her makeup and hair done. Usually the whole bridal party goes to the salon together, so why not offer your college friend the chance to have her hair or makeup done as well? Or just ask her along for moral support. She will feel very "included".

Once the flowers have arrived, they need to be handed out, pinned on, and attached. Giving someone a list and a kiss on the cheek along with your request will make them feel as though they have saved the day.

Decorating your vehicles is another way you can make them feel involved. This seems simple, but takes quite a bit of time, so the more help the better, especially if there are many cars to get ready. Even extra drivers on the morning of the wedding to shuttle the vehicles to the car wash can be a big help!

If your venue needs decorating, be sure to have them help with that! Ask them to hand out the bubbles to blow, or to cuddle up with the ring bearer to keep him calm (Grandmas are very good at this)!

Have the friend or relative stand up with your ushers at the church and hand out service programs, or simply greet relatives they haven't seen in a long while. They will always have warm memories of a happy ceremony.

You could ask someone "crafty" if they could prepare you a personalized wedding album for the many snapshots your guests will be taking for you. An ordinary photo album can look terrific dressed with fabric in your wedding colours and a bit of lace. Have them take a few instant photos or print a couple digital photos to put in the front of it and put the book on display at the reception to show people how wonderful it is. This will be something your guest will be pleased to prepare and bring on the plane, knowing how you will treasure it.

Ask the person (long before they arrive in town) if they would honour you by saying Grace at your wedding dinner. If Grace is being done by someone else, ask them to make a speech or toast.

Obviously, a simple way to acknowledge special people is to have someone include a mention of them in their speeches. "And we thank everyone from out of town for joining us today. The prize for the longest (or latest, or most cramped, or most overbooked) flight goes to Uncle Joe…who by the way, also cooks up the meanest trout fillets this side of the St. Lawrence! Give us a wave Uncle Joe ..."

Many times the parents of the bride seem to be in charge of taking home gifts and any money boxes and so on. Ask a trusted relative to organize this task, and arrange for the safe transport in someone's car. It gives them a sense of involvement, and also takes some of the burden off Mom and Dad!

If you're having a get-together the following day, or a gift opening, then ask Auntie Martha to make her famous oatmeal loaf and bring it along.

What else do you have to accomplish? There are always tasks to be completed, and good memories to create. If you want to include someone in the preparations for your special event, then go ahead! They will love it, and so will you.



Best wishes,

Kathy

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Monday, March 29, 2004

It's All in a Name

What's involved in changing your name after marriage? Do you even want to?

At any time in Ontario, and in most provinces, you may change your last name to your spouse's last name without a "legal" name change. This means no government paperwork or legalities. You may keep your maiden name, hyphenate your maiden name with your husband's surname, or switch completely to your husband's surname. And yes, your husband may choose to use your surname instead of his own as well. After you sign your marriage certificate, you are officially able to start using your new name! Despite how easy it is to accomplish, many brides worry about a variety of things.

Does using my husband's surname take away my own identity?
I've worked so hard to be known for what I do in my career, how will people know it is still the same person on business cards, email and fax?
If I am the last child in my family and all the others have changed their names, will my heritage be lost if I don't have children or if I only have girls?

As with many things involved in and surrounding your wedding, this too is a matter of personal preference. Nobody else can make this decision for you, but we can give you some information to mull over.

Your identity comes from your person, your accomplishments and your sense of self. No matter the surname you have, these things remain constant. Getting married will certainly change some things in your life, but it does not remove you from the planet, so feel strong and proud of whom you are and decide what you would like to do with your name!

In business, as in most things, it is possible that the first few months of using your new name might be awkward. People are patterned and habitual, so if they have always known you by your maiden name, then it will take them some time to get used to the new one. Don't get upset if this takes a while, and do not be surprised if after everyone has adjusted, you get the odd mistake even months later!

It is always your option to keep your maiden name at work and change your surname for everything else. But many brides want people to realize they are married, so it is also extremely common now for brides to hyphenate their names. You must really think about this choice, though. You will be signing this name on documents, emailing this name to business associates and friends. People will need to call you by this name - "excuse me, Mrs. Constantine-Massarelli". "Pardon me, Mrs. Taylor-Wellington". It can be long and cumbersome. If you have a Price-Toth it might roll off the tongue with ease, but something with multiple syllables in both names such as Rosenberg-Scheltema, well, this might cause some problems down the road. Or it may NOT! Again, it is a matter of personal preference. Just be sure to try it out loud a few times and on paper before you make the final decision. Most young girls practise writing new names when they have their first crush. This time it will be for real, so enjoy it!

If you would like to hyphenate or change your name to your husband's but are worried about family heritage and so on, think about using your maiden name as the middle name for any child you might have. This offers an alternative and still preserves the memory and lineage of your ancestors.

Now to the real work - changing your name with everyone you know. The people attending your wedding have an advantage, because after you say "I do" and sign your paperwork, you are usually introduced to the company in the manner in which you want to be known. "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the newly married couple Mr. Nicholas Berelli and Mrs. Angela Santos-Berelli." Clap clap clap. You may want to order some pre-printed labels for thank you envelopes and so on with your new name as well, to make it easy for people to remember. For the rest of the world, well, there is work to be done.

Make at least a dozen photocopies of your Marriage Certificate before you put it away in the fireproof lock-box. These will be needed for mailing out, faxing and so on. Make a good list of who you need to tell the information to. Go through your wallet first. Every card in it needs to be changed. Driver's License, Provincial Health Plan, Social Insurance are basics, and each has its own procedure. Credit card companies can usually be done with a signed letter and copy of the certificate by fax. If you are changing some of your cards to joint accounts, then they will tell you how to accomplish this. Your bank will need a copy of your Marriage Certificate. Canada Revenue (Income Tax) would like to know ahead of time, but they allow you to wait until next time you file to change your name. If your address is also changing, do NOT wait.

There is more! Your employer's human resources or accounting department will need to know, along with all of your doctors, your dentist, and your optometrist. Many of these do not require the certificate, but some will. Your new spouse will need to add you to their group medical coverage at their work as well. If you have children, be sure to inform their school and update your child's emergency contact information.

Hold a Power of Attorney or sign jointly on a parent's or grandparent's bank accounts? They'll need to have proof of the change as well.

Of course there will be others, but you can notify them as they come up. When you think you are finished, keep a copy of the certificate in a corner of your purse just in case!

Unless you are too-organized before your wedding, it is a rare bride who does all this legwork before the ceremony, and as you can see it will take some time when you return from the honeymoon. But the change will be forever, so it is worth a bit of red tape at the onset to have all your affairs in working order! Congratulations Mrs. Massey, nee Alziadeh! You're a married woman!

Have fun practising the name-writing, and best wishes!

Kathy



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Monday, March 22, 2004

Let Them Eat...Cake?

Tradition. One of the words you hear a lot when making plans for modern weddings. Tradition says you have to serve cake.

Tradition dictates that your wedding cake should be tiered, possibly held up with pillars, and topped with a miniature bride and groom. Thankfully, fruit cake is no longer mandatory, and has been upgraded to include both standard and exotic cakes, but the toppings of white or ivory coloured icing and flowers are fairly "expected" at a wedding.

Can you break away from this tradition? YES! Couples today are free to choose what they want for a sweet to share and savour. The options are endless.

Let's start with that "traditional" wedding cake. The Anglo-Saxons used to have a basket of dried biscuits at their weddings which were given to the guests and any leftovers shared with the poor. In another early tradition, lots of small cakes were thrown over the bride after the ceremony or when she entered her new home. In the Middle Ages, guests brought the cakes and stacked them on each other. The bride and groom would kiss over top of the stack and if it stayed upright, it was considered an extra good luck omen. (This is most likely where the bride-and-groom-topped wedding cake originated). The shape of the three-tiered cake is rumoured to be inspired by St. Bride's Church spire in London, designed by Christopher Wren.

So if you choose this traditional shape and design of cake, you are following a long-lived ritual. Embrace the tradition, and then turn it on its modern ear; personalize it! Chocolate fudge interior with maple frosting ... carrot cake and cream cheese icing ... layers of strawberries tucked into hidden depths of lemon ... vanilla cake with chocolate swirls and a hint of mint. Yummy!

Love fruit cake? Okay. Why not consider fruit cake slices wrapped in coloured foil and given as a take-away good luck charm while you slice into a slab cake for dessert? Or serve the fruit cake with a few other delectables on a sweet table so your guests have a choice.

If you're having a small gathering, and 3 tiers is just too much cake, then make use of an ornamental bottom for the pictures, and have only the top tier for cutting into.

You can always forego the cake and opt for some other very popular choices. Individually portioned cupcakes stacked on a tiered display stand give you a stunning and elegant centrepiece with more variety for your guests, and can still offer the slicing and feeding excitement that couples share! Simple cookies in paper cups dusted with confectioner's sugar offer guests a chance to take one home as a memento as well as nibble one with their coffee.

For very large weddings, you will most likely want to consider the slab cake to accommodate hundreds of guests, but this is usually something done quietly in the kitchen, and not out front for all to see. The small and elegant real cake is on display for couples to cut into and eat together, but the top tier is kept for their first anniversary. (This used to be kept for the christening of the first child, but children are not always first priorities for the newly-married, so it has evolved). In ANY tiered cake the top tier can be kept for another occasion, but if the tiered cake is the only cake you have, chances are you will need every bite.

The sky is the limit for decorating! Shapes, styles, toppings and fillings are available with more options than ever before. Ice cream cake creations are extremely popular in Italy, and in France they favour the puff pastry drizzled with crackling caramel. What will you choose? Traditional or eclectic, be sure to keep a piece safe somewhere, it is thought to ensure fidelity (although this may be difficult if you choose ice cream cake).

You cannot make a mistake as there are no "rules". As with all of your wedding plans, the cake or sweet offered is a matter of personal preference. Have fun deciding, and enjoy all the samples along the way!



Best wishes,

Kathy



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Monday, March 15, 2004

Do Me a Favour

Your wedding favours are a special thank you and keepsake that can remind friends and relatives of your beautiful wedding day.

Traditionally, wedding favours (also called bombonieres) are made up of 5 sugared almonds wrapped in an attractive cover of lace or presented in elegant boxes. The almonds represent Health, Wealth, Happiness, Long Life and Fertility. The giving of a favour dates back to early Europe, when they were given by the aristocrats of the period to celebrate marriages, birthdays and christenings. In their earliest forms, bonbonieres were made of gold, precious stones, crystal, or porcelain, and filled with sugar, which was a precious commodity. This gradually changed to the giving of the 5 sugared almonds as sugar became more available and everyone began to participate in the tradition, not just the wealthy.


Modern Brides want the tradition of the favour, but more and more Brides are choosing alternatives to almonds, or even adding the 5 almonds to something else. So what do you choose?

The key is to take a look at the two of you as a couple. What are the interests of you and your groom? What are your personalities? What is the theme of your wedding? Any of these may be re-created in the wedding favour. Favours are fun! Glass motorbikes and miniature champagne bottles ... chocolate truffles and beaded bags - all can be used as favours. Into scuba diving? Miniature swim fins might be an idea, or a small vial labelled "oxygen"! If horses are your thing, then consider the horseshoe, or a small horse charm. If the library is more your speed, you might think of hand-stamped bookmarks with ribbons to match your wedding colours. One innovative couple I met handed out a personalized CD of their 10 all-time favourite songs! Of course it included the song for the first dance. (You'll have to research permissions for this)!

Be creative. Have fun, and try to choose something that will obviously remind your guests of who gave them the favour. No good handing out a Jiminy Cricket if your entire apartment is decorated with Donald Duck! And don't even consider a whoopee cushion if your wedding is super-formal and ultra-elegant! On second thought, don't even consider a whoopee cushion AT ALL! But hopefully, you get the idea.

When shopping for your bombonieres, choose a company to help you that offers a wide variety of items and wrappings. Take your time looking through the selection. Also make sure they can be ready and delivered on time. Do not choose your wedding favour item solely on price - you have to be both pleased and proud of the look of the item, as it is designed to stand the test of time (just like your vows). If the item is perfect, but will cost a lot more than you planned, consider giving just one favour per couple in attendance, as for a long time, only female guests received the favour.

For extra good luck, the Bride is expected to actually prepare the favours, but these days it is not always possible to hand-tie bags of sugared almonds, or to attach small cards with your names and wedding date with your own hands. If you are not able to prepare the favours, be sure you make the effort to lay them out on tables or hand them out to your guests with your own hands. A little of the Bride's good spirit will be sure to rub off!

Best wishes,

Kathy

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Monday, March 08, 2004

Okay, I'll Do It! What, Exactly?

Maid of Honour, Best Man, Bridesmaid, Usher; nice titles, but what do they actually have to DO? People are often surprised and sometimes annoyed at what they are called on to do for their friends, so before you agree to take on one of these coveted and often exhausting roles, read on!

As the Maid of Honour (or Matron), you have one of the most important roles in ensuring the success of the wedding. Be organized! Carry pen and book with you everywhere! Your list of duties is a long one. Some are essential and some voluntary, but if you remember that your main duty is to take some of the planning burden off the shoulders of the Bride, you're sure to do well!

Before the Wedding

-Volunteer to go with the Bride to scout locations. It is a big decision for her to make without input.

-Help Bride choose invitations and volunteer to address them if she needs help.

-Offer your help in ordering and choosing decorations and favours. Assist in setting timelines for delivery of these items to shower, bachelorette party and wedding.

-You MUST go with the Bride when she is shopping for her dress and for the bridesmaid dresses, and it is essential to ensure the dresses arrive with enough time for alterations! Attend fittings with her, to give feedback on how it looks and fits.

-If the Groom bails out on the Bridal Registry, go with the Bride to help her register for her wedding gifts. This is actually a lot of fun, so enjoy it! Try to let guests know where they have registered.

-Help the Bride with the seating arrangement. Consider a diagram of the tables to help with this. Bring the diagram to the wedding reception, in case there are seating problems.

-Host and plan the bridal shower (ask for help from bridesmaids, Mom, sisters).

-Host and plan the bachelorette party (again, ask for help).

-Help organize the other bridesmaids.

-Attend the rehearsal dinner and help out with organizing the "plan".

On the BIG DAY

-Assist the Bride into her dress and makeup.

-Shuttle messages between the Bride and others.

-Try to visit the reception hall if you can to make sure there are no problems.

-Get the Bride to eat something prior to the ceremony - it is a long time until dinner.

-Get the Bride to the ceremony on time and ensure she has everything she needs, such as bouquet, garter, borrowed and blue.

-Find the Bride some privacy before the ceremony if she needs it.

-Help her with her veil and train.

-Hold her bouquet during the ceremony.

-Carry the Groom's ring with you and hand it over when needed.

-Witness the signing of the marriage license.

-Give a speech or toast at the reception.

Tired yet? Have a seat, you've earned it!



If you are the Best Man, your main duties do not begin until the Wedding Day, but there are some items you need to accomplish before that:

-Organize the Stag Party

-Attend pre-nuptial parties in the couple's honour

-Attend formal wear fittings

-Pay for your own wedding attire

-Traditionally, confirm reservations for honeymoon and make sure Groom has the tickets, etc.

-Run errands as necessary.

-Help co-ordinate arrangements for out-of-town guests so Groom doesn't have to do it.

On the BIG DAY

-Be on time for all appointments and help Groom be on time!

-Help Groom dress and finish any packing.

-Hold payment envelopes for clergy, organist, caterer and hand out as appropriate.

-Hold the marriage license.

-Hold the Bride's ring until needed, or attach to ring pillow.

-Keep Groom calm.

-Organize ushers.

-Witness signing of Marriage License.

-Assist Bride and Groom into vehicle leaving ceremony, and also ensure all guests are in correct cars leaving the church.

-Place Bride and Groom's luggage in the car they will use to leave the reception.

-Offer the first toast at the reception (keep it clean!)

-Dance with Bridal Party members.

-Help Groom change into going away clothes.

-Help the new husband and wife leave the reception when it is time.

-After the wedding, return your own and Groom's formal wear if rented.

Good Job!


Bridesmaids

You have a strong supportive role you must play during the entire wedding experience. Your most important duty is to support the Bride during the planning process and on her big day, but basically, volunteer your services as required to both the Bride and Maid of Honour for running errands, making centrepieces, addressing envelopes, etc. Show up on time for all dress shopping and fittings. Try not to tell the Bride you hate the dress she has picked out for you to wear, even if it's true.


Ushers (Groomsmen)

You will have to show up on time for formal wear fittings. You will be the one to assist guests to their seats for the ceremony. You will have to hand out any programs or service sheets and help the Groom and Best Man with any last minute duties. You will be expected to escort one of the Bridesmaids down the aisle either before or after the ceremony, or both.


The Bride and Groom say "Will You?", and hopefully you now have an idea of what you are taking on when you say "I'd Love To". Any role you have should be executed if not with perfection, at least with enthusiasm! Your friends will be forever grateful.



Best wishes,

Kathy



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Monday, March 01, 2004

Dreams are Made in a Dress that Fits

Every bride dreams of looking her best on her wedding day, and spends hours shopping for the perfect gown. But brides often worry about those extra two or three pounds ...

Every bride dreams of looking her best on her wedding day. Plans for hair styles, makeup, and THE DRESS are all-consuming. Finding the perfect wedding gown can require hours of shopping. Many brides feel that perhaps if they lost a couple of pounds before their wedding day, they'd look more stunning as they walk down the aisle. Not true. Think back to every wedding you've ever attended. Unless you are the catty type and the bride stole your own boyfriend and is now walking down the aisle with him, you likely only had nice thoughts about how she looked. The flush of excitement in her face, the beautiful hair-do and makeup, the overall elegant surroundings; these brides are beautiful.

Now imagine the uncomfortable and far-from-pleasant day she would have if she was in a dress that pinched under the arms, or didn't let her take a full breath. Oxygen is essential to a beautiful wedding day!

While you may think losing a few pounds is the only way to achieve your desired "look" for the special day, keep in mind that planning a wedding and getting close to the wedding date can be very stressful. In many cases, stress can lead to overeating, and there are also numerous celebrations planned by family and friends prior to the big day which usually involve food and sweets. It can be a very tempting time. Your fiance loves you, at the size you are, so really there is no need to shed any weight for the wedding day. The key is to find yourself a dress you love and that looks good right NOW, and arrange for any necessary alterations later on.

You'll order your dress long before the wedding day, many times up to a year in advance! Wedding gowns are seldom off-the-rack purchases. Unless you are a size zero (lucky you) you'll have to attend fittings to adjust, alter and hem. IF you have lost any weight before your wedding, then at the final fitting one or two weeks before the ceremony, alterations can be made. You can always make a dress smaller, but it is extremely difficult to make it bigger.

I have heard the seamstresses agonizing about the bride who assumed she'd lose those couple of pounds and a week before the ceremony is asking for PANELS to be added to the dress! Don't let this be you. If you are trying on a dress that looks gorgeous but is very snug around the bosom, or pulls a bit across the rump, you are apt to think: "oh, well, after I lose 5 pounds it will be perfect". Do not order this size! Find the size that fits you now in the dress you love, and order it in that size. You do not want to spend one of the most important days of your life in shoes that are too tight ... the same rule applies to your dress!

Beautiful brides are not created by their dress size, and nobody needs to know what that size is except you. Be glamorous, be gorgeous - be comfortable!

Best wishes,

Kathy


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Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Ring's the Thing

You're in love. You want to get married. He has proposed and you're picking out rings! What do you look for? How do you choose? There are hundreds of styles and cuts and choices!

Of course, if the romantic groom-to-be has surprised you with a diamond engagement ring (or you think he may be planning it), hopefully it is the style and cut you were dreaming about. It should fit your finger if he did his homework and "borrowed" one of your other rings for size. Hopefully he asked your best friend what style of ring you like, or studied the jewellery you already own to get some ideas. If you only wear silver or white gold, it would not be the best choice to surprise you with a yellow gold engagement ring. Do remember that he chose it with love and probably a lot of sweaty palms and nervous laughter! And if you want to give him some hints, it is not that difficult to introduce the topic of your preferences, even in casual conversation. Mention a ring that a girlfriend received and tell him why you didn't like it, or flip through a magazine and say "oh, that's pretty" at the page with the style you like.

It is not uncommon these days to have input into your own engagement ring. You have to wear it for the rest of your life, so you want to love it, and it is a momentous and expensive purchase that many guys just don't want to screw up! Traditionally, the engagement ring is a single band with a solitary diamond and the wedding ring is a single band made out of the same material as the engagement ring, but there are no hard and fast rules. Whether you are choosing a ready-made ring or having something custom-designed your personal preference is the most important criteria, but there are some basic things to keep in mind.

Select a stone and setting that will withstand the rigours of everyday use. Can you play sports, complete a workout, wash dishes, and achieve your daily hairstyle in this ring? Diamonds can be channel-set, which means the tops of them are even with the band, or they can be mounted in a prong setting, or solitaire style, which means the stone(s) are sticking up above the ring. The most popular metal used for rings is either yellow or white gold. 24 karat is 100 percent gold, 18 karat is 74 percent gold and 14 karat is 58.5 percent gold. The higher the karat, the richer the colour, but the softer the band. If you intend to wear your engagement and wedding rings all the time, your best bet is to choose 14 karat gold. If you're allergic to gold, go with white gold, or if you can afford it, choose platinum.

Speaking of affording it, remember that your love for each other has nothing to do with the price of your rings! The reality is that you purchase what you can afford, while remembering that choosing your engagement ring and wedding bands is an emotional event, and a purchase that will last a lifetime. A common starting point for budgeting is 2 months salary for the engagement ring, and amid some controversy, 3 weeks salary for the wedding rings. (Some experts suggest 2 percent of your wedding budget for the wedding rings). If this seems like a lot of money, then be sure to choose rings based on your financial situation, and remember that the most important considerations are quality and value. Do your homework and learn about the 4 C's of diamonds (colour, cut, clarity, carat) and shop around to find styles and prices you like.

It is traditional to wear the wedding band closest to your heart and the engagement ring on the same finger over the wedding ring, so consider how the rings will fit together. Also consider the overall look of your hand. Even couples with a big budget may choose a small ring if the girl's fingers are slender. A huge ring stuck on top of a small hand is not always the most flattering look you can achieve. You may decide to purchase a ring set which is already designed to fit together, but it is not unusual to choose an engagement ring you love and then find a wedding band to complement it. And if you love the engagement ring but not the wedding bands available from one jeweller, you can always buy the bands elsewhere. Many couples do not choose their wedding bands at all until well into their engagement period.

The groom-to-be has a lot less options available for his wedding band, but still must decide on thickness of the band (measured in millimetres), colour of the metal used, and whether he wants some kind of engraved design or even a diamond on his band. Diamonds on most men's rings are channel set, but it is up to the individual.

Whichever rings you choose, they will take you from "will you marry me?" to "I do" and into forever, and will always symbolize your love, which, like the circle, remains unbroken.


Best wishes,

Kathy


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