Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pitfalls on planning a wedding

Of course you want to have a fabulous big day, so you must plan accordingly to avoid any potential pitfalls along the way. Take a look at these all-too-common “please don'ts.” (They're all avoidable.) Remember: Forewarned is forearmed!

1. Don't be superbride.

You're smart, you're focused, you're energetic. But you're still one woman. Superbrides—those engaged gals who devote every waking hour to wedding planning, brushing aside all offers of help—eventually run out of steam and end up near the big day with favors unassembled, invitations unstamped, shoes undyed, heads uncounted. How to avoid this fate? Call in your trusty sidekicks before you're really scrambling. Here's a little secret: People want to help. So do yourself a huge favor and accept their kind offers. Then, once you've got a cadre of pals stuffing your envelopes, sit back and have your toenails polished. You deserve it.

2. Don't have a cash bar.

Forcing guests to reach into their sequined clutches every time they want to enjoy a celebratory champagne or a refreshing gin and tonic is just plain rude. Think of it like this: You invite people to a party—your wedding, for heaven's sake!—and then you ask them to shell out for part of the fun. It's a recipe for bad feelings! Keep in mind that you don't have to have a top-shelf bar; in fact, there are plenty of other ways to serve and save. You could offer wine and beer only or create a signature cocktail. You might have an open bar during the cocktail hour only and serve wine at dinner. Ask your caterer to suggest lower-cost options.

3. Don't include registry info on invites.

Registering is a good thing for everyone. When gift buyers are steered to the things you actually want and need, it saves them time—and saves you from having to contend with a pile of cut-crystal candy bowls. Registry info, however, does not belong on your wedding invitation. Why? Giving wedding gifts is never mandatory, though the vast majority of attendees will naturally want to do just that. Best way to get the message across is by word of mouth on the part of your mother or your bridesmaids or on bridal-shower invites.

4. Don't be bossy with your bridesmaids.

In the most traditional sense, your bridesmaids, in particular your maid of honor, are there to stand up for you as you take your vows, to act as witnesses to this solemn event. Somewhere along the line, bridesmaids have become, well, more like maids, and to an extent there's nothing wrong with that. These are your sisters, cousins, best friends, future in-laws, and there's something sort of sweet about the way they gather around you, wearing finery you picked out, helping you pin up your bustle, holding your flowers. But some brides ask (or worse, demand) far more: They expect their bridesmaids to shell out for needlessly expensive outfits, to run endless errands, to wear their hair just so, to attend (and buy gifts for) countless all-for-you parties. Don't let this happen. Be sensitive to how you'd feel if the tables were turned. Gifts to the maids are always welcome, of course, but a little kindness and care go a lot further than any pashmina shawl or monogrammed trinket.

5. Don't make guests cool their heels for hours between ceremony and reception.

I once attended a lovely wedding in a quaint wooden church in a rural area. Beautiful. Then I checked my invite. What?! The reception was scheduled for much later in the day, at a location that was a good 45-minute drive away. Sometimes it can be hard to plan a perfectly seamless schedule, especially if your heart is set on sites that are wildly inconvenient to one another or if your ceremony and reception times don't line up. But do your best. If you really must wed at, say, your childhood church, confine your search for reception locales to local spots. If that's truly impossible or if you can't avoid a time gap, provide transportation and/or a comfortable spot for guests to hang out while they wait.

6. Don't plan a difficult destination wedding.

Ah, the lure of the exotic faraway wedding—you can just picture it, can't you? Exchanging vows on top of a volcano in Hawaii… or how about in a ski gondola or on a majestic slope in the Austrian Alps? Hmmm, nice idea, but will Grandma Gert be up to the trip? Will your college pals drain their bank accounts to get there? No, and no. Destination weddings can be terrific, but as with any wedding, it's not only about you, it's also about your guests. While some friends and families welcome—and can afford—an Alpine adventure, others will end up resenting the cost and hassle or simply decline the invitation. Make it easy for everyone by (a) choosing a well-traveled locale, (b) planning well in advance and (c) providing information and help (securing group rates, for example). Bon voyage!

7. Don't go DIY crazy.

You know that clever bride who sewed her own dress and designed and made her own invitations? Or the one who baked her own three-tiered cake? Everyone's in awe of the girls who can do these things, and I say good for them—if they did it because they really, really wanted to, and if they managed not to get stressed out. The point of these projects is to use your craft/sewing/baking/designing skills to save money and to put a one-of-a-kind stamp on some aspect of the wedding. But if you are really not the hands-on type, don't drive yourself crazy hot-gluing tulle and folding fiddly favors until 3 a.m. Do only what you can, and beg, borrow or buy the rest.

8. Don’t let parents steamroll your invite list. 

Back in the days when parents footed the bill and brides were barely out of high school, the guest list was more Mom and Dad’s idea of a good party than the couple’s. Times have changed, but that doesn’t stop some pushy parents from insisting on having the whole book club, golf club or garden club at the wedding. Brush up on your negotiating skills and start early. Once you have a budget in mind, you can rough out the number of guests it’s feasible to invite. Then ask both sets of parents for invite lists, in order of preference, so you can cut from the bottom if necessary. Stay in charge!

9. Don’t forget about your fiancé.

It may not seem like something you’d do, but plenty of women surprise themselves. We've got our heads stuck in a glossary of floral terms (stephanotis? anemone?) when all our men know is that there will be flowers at the wedding. We’re neglecting our regular TV and pizza night in favor of dress fittings. Hey, listen up: You’re not just having a wedding, you’re getting married—to that guy over there, sitting on the couch, munching a cold slice of pizza. Put aside the bridal to-do lists and go give him a hug, would you? This is not just party-planning time, it’s major life transition time. So talk to each other. Talk about your life together. Talk about what color you want to paint the bedroom, what you want to name the puppy you’ll adopt—whatever. Anything but flowers and crab-cake appetizers, please.

10. Don't bow to bridal peer pressure.

It’s insidious. You just got back from a friend’s wedding and you’re battling the green monster: She had an eight-piece band while you booked a DJ. She had Dom Perignon, you’re having sparkling wine. Well, stop right there. If you scramble your plans to best hers: 1) You’ll go over budget, and 2) You’ll hate yourself for it. Worse, you’ll veer off the course you set for your own dream wedding. She made her wedding hers. And you’re making your wedding yours. And that’s an “I do!”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Relax and Enjoy your Day

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming – between finalising the guest list, keeping within budget and finding that show-stopping dress… there’s a lot to get through. But organising your big day doesn’t have to be a stressful time. Follow this checklist on what to do when, and you’ll enjoy stress-free preparations, right down to the final day.

:: Set the date.
:: Decide on a budget that both families are happy with (and be clear on who will be paying for what).
:: Choose your official wedding party and MC (if appropriate).
:: Select a handful of ceremony and reception locations and organise a meeting with the wedding event co-ordinator to talk through packages and pricing.
:: Start an inspiration scrapbook and file all clippings of things you like in it. Include dresses you like, decorative ideas, cake designs, floral arrangements…. Everything!
:: Finalise a guest list and send out save the date cards.
:: Start the search on your dress and bridesmaid dresses.
:: Start researching on ideal honeymoon destinations.
:: Book an appointment with a florist to talk about flower arrangements and pricing.
:: Book the reception/church/celebrant and run through menu options with the caterers.
:: Select a handful of wedding photographers and videographers and book an appointment to look through their portfolio and talk through pricing.
:: Finalise music for the reception and book entertainment (ie: band, DJ, etc) 
:: Order your wedding gown and veil – or start on dress making.
:: Finalise and order your bridesmaid dresses.
:: Finalise flowers with the florist and décor with the reception/ wedding planner
:: Book the honeymoon! Don’t forget the relaxing massage the minute you arrive at the destination.
:: Get started on your gift registry – if you decide to have one.
:: Book transportation (don’t forget the getaway car!)
:: Buy accessories for you and the bridesmaids.
:: Finalise the groom’s suit (if you’re allowed!) and groomsmen’s suits.
:: Book a hair and make-up trial. 
:: Book a hotel room for your wedding night. 
:: Organise pre-marriage counselling if you’d like it. A lot of churches strongly recommend this when booking the church.
:: Research and order wedding invitations, table place cards and bonbonniere.
:: Order your cake (and taste samples if they offer it!)
:: Organise taste testing for the menu. 
:: Order your wedding bands and engraving.
:: Confirm dates for your hens night and be clear with what you’d like (and not like) for the night out.
:: Finalise guest list. 
:: Send out wedding invitations.
:: Book hair and make-up artists for you and your bridesmaids. Don’t forget your mum and the groom’s mum too. 
:: Consider booking dance lessons for the bridal waltz.
:: Finalise the menu with the caterers/reception.
:: Start putting together wedding booklets and church ceremony readings.
:: Finalise the gift registry and make sure there’s enough in every price range for your guests.
:: Start writing your vows and wedding speech.
:: Buy gifts for your groom and the wedding party.
:: Meet with your photographer to discuss shot list and photo locations.
:: Start putting together church booklets, name-tags and other stationery required.
:: Confirm honeymoon arrangements.
:: Chase up any guests who haven’t RSVP’d.
:: Write up a time schedule for the day (including important contact numbers) and send to all parties involved in important parts of the day (Ie: MC, priest/celebrant, photographer, DJ, wedding co-ordinator, drivers).
:: Pick up your wedding bands.
:: Send final guest list to reception place and confirm any vegetarian meals or special meal requirements for guests.
:: Book beauty appointments – wax, eyebrow shape, facial (no extractions!), etc.
:: Confirm pick up address and time with transportation.
:: Pick up the groom’s suit and groomsmen’s suits.
:: Book a hair appointment to have a trim and colour/treatment.
:: Deliver all wedding favours, place cards, and liquor to the reception place.
:: Have a spray tan – not too close to the day. Everyone will know you haven’t been to Hawaii and back!
:: Have your final dress fitting – be sure to wear all jewellery, shoes, and correct underwear. 
:: Prepare a list of all payments required on the day, put in envelopes and leave someone in charge of handing out the appropriate people on the day.

:: Get a manicure and pedicure.
:: Treat yourself and your groom to a relaxing massage. 
:: Have a wedding rehearsal (if relevant) with the bridal party and church/celebrant.
:: Get an early night!