8 Splurges that are worth the Extra Money

No matter how big or small your budget, every couple has to make decisions about their priorities. Great music might be one couple’s top priority; in order to afford the band they want, they’d be happy serving Kentucky Fried Chicken. On the other hand, two foodies who want to serve a five course meal might be willing to forgo a deejay and use an iPod. But always keep in mind the comfort of your guests. Don’t skimp on areas that will leave them hungry, tired, cold, or waiting in a long line for the bathroom. By the time you invite your parents’ friends and hire a band and pay the florist for twenty centerpieces, there’s rarely any money left for extras. But should you have the funds, these are the splurges that deliver a lot of bang for your buck.

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Extra wait staff at the reception. A hotel or caterer will typically provide 1.5 waiters for every three tables. When staffing is light, one side of the room might be finished eating while some tables are still waiting for their main course. Make it two waiters for every three tables and you’ll get much faster service.

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Professional lighting. Lighting can make a setting come alive by highlighting the standout features in a room and adding dimension. It also casts a flattering glow that makes everyone look great in photos.

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Continuous music of an after-hour deejay. Most bands will take three to four breaks throughout the evening during which they’ll typically turn on a CD> If you can afford the extra fee, they’ll add extra musicians and play seamlessly. Or for those younger guests who want to burn up the dance floor late into the night, hire a deejay.

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Guest menus. A printed menu really ups the ante and makes a wonderful keepsake for your guests.

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Extra prints. Have your photographer make extra prints you can send out to select guests with your thank-you notes.

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Ceremony décor. A personalized ceremony space will make your guests feel comfortable immediately. I you’re having an outdoor summer wedding, hanging flowers, colorful ribbon, pew flowers, or sun-catching glass ornaments on trees are a great way to wow your guests. A lot of the ceremony décor can be used twice, just ask your planner or friend to move the décor to the reception area after the ceremony is over.

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A gathering place. Give guests’ a place to mingle during dance breaks by having a lounge area at your reception. Look into renting couches, chairs and other furniture that you can then stage with pillows, flowers, and votive candles.

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First impressions are important. Fill baskets or totes with water bottles, champagne, beer, something salty, something sweet and a personal touch. Don’t forget to include a welcome letter as well as a detailed itinerary for where the guest needs to be and when. Leave the welcome bag with the hotel concierge for guests to pick up when they check in.

 Inevitably, things will cost more than you think.Inevitably, you will face temptation, whether it be monogrammed cookies or the champagne with the finer bubbles. And, yes, inevitably, you will succumb to some of those urges. That’s why you should narrow down what is most important to you and your fiance. It’s also a great idea to build in a 10 percent cushion into your budget. The extra cushion will help cover any expenses you overlooked or couldn’t have foreseen.

Best of wishes,

Stacey B.

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Creating a Unique Shopping Experience

 Shopping for a wedding gown is unlike any other clothing shopping you’ll ever do. Most bridal salons don’t stock gowns in a variety of sizes – the inventory would be far too expensive – so they keep samples in only one or two sizes. Brides try a dress on, commit to it without ever seeing how it will fit, have their measurements taken, and wait for the designer to cut the gown to order.  Another oddity is that the size of the dress will bear little relation to your regular size. For one thing, bridal gowns run one or two sizes smaller than other clothing.  When your shopping around make sure to keep in mind some of these helpful tips that will help guide you to finding the perfect wedding gown.

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A salon will order the size based on your largest measurement, because it’s much easier to take in a dress than to let one out. Once you order, the gown typically takes four to six months to arrive at the salon, though a gown with heavy hand-beading done overseas could take up to ten months. Salons try to schedule it so the gown arrives eight weeks before the wedding, allowing time for multiple fittings.

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Bridal shops aren’t generally set up for browsing. Make sure to book appointments so that a sales associate can focus on one bride at a time.

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You should ideally start shopping for your gown eight to eleven months before the wedding, but if possible it’s best to wait until you have decided on a date and location – these factors will affect your decision.

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Make sure to bring pictures of dresses you like. Bring pictures of dresses you don’t like. If you like the neckline of one gown and the draped back on another, point out exactly what you do and don’t like to the sales associate.

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Wear underwear you won’t be embarrassed to be seen in! Trying on wedding dresses is not a solo operation, so this isn’t the day to wear a peekaboo thong.

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Bring a camera. Not every salon will allow you to take photos, but if possible, get a photo of yourself in the dress you’re buying, not only for showing your mother but also for your florist, cake maker, and other vendors trying to assess the style of your wedding. Remember the dress sets the tone for the wedding. A photo will also help you when shopping for accessories, though a fabric swatch is important too.

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If you’re on a tight budget, check out the bridesmaids’ dresses at department stores and bridal salons. Many can be ordered in white. The styles tend to be simpler and less embellished, but that suits plenty of brides.

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The web allows you to shop at any hour, but obviously you won’t be able to try on the gown until you own it. You can buy online from retail stores like J.Crew, which gives you the ability to return and doesn’t involve a deposit. Craigslist, eBay, and message boards on sites like theknot.com are good sources for one-worn dresses at a great price. But do some research to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

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If you have your heard set on a particular designer, the sample sale can actually be worth the cost of travel to another city, since gowns from a previous season could be at least 50 percent off. Most sample sales are held in New York City, once or twice a year.

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When you’re making appointments, don’t be shy about asking the price range of gowns carried in the store. You want to make sure you’re shopping at places that fit your budget. Most bridal salons are extremely busy on weekends, especially in the peak shopping months of January through April. If you can take time off from work and shop on a weekday, you’ll get an appointment sooner and get more attention.

I suggest visiting at least three stores when trying to find the perfect gown. That should be enough to expose you to a range of different designers and to carried opinions from different sales people. It’s not unusual for a bride to fall head over heels in love with the first dress she tries on, but most people will feel better if they’ve shopped around a bit before making such a major commitment.

Stacey B.

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Your Guide for Creating the Perfect Wedding Website

The wedding website is becoming as much of a mainstay as the save-the-date announcements. They’re both helpful tools for any wedding, but none more so than a destination wedding. But a site also serves a more personal purpose. It gives you a forum to let everyone know how you met and share the story of the proposal, making guests who have never met your intended feel close to both of you. If you’re unsure of the advantages of a wedding website, take a look below as I have provided you with some helpful tools that will help you create a meaningful wedding website.

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A website can provide helpful information for your guests that are traveling in from out of town. Guests can learn more about local attractions, find directions, and get contact information for hotels around the area.

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You can post photos of you and the groom and update the site with engagement party or shower picture as the months pass.

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Keep the look as clean and uncluttered as possible. Fonts should be easy to read; avoid reverse type, which is notoriously hard to decipher. And keep the text short and sweet.

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You’ll want your site up and running as early as possible, at least six months before the wedding.

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Websites can be free, paid, or do-it-yourself, and all serve you well.

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The downside to free sites is that you get an awkward domain name and less space for photos; some of the sites look overly “wedding-ish,” and your screen may be cluttered with ads. One of the main advantages besides the price, is that they’re easy to use, even for the technologically challenged.

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Several companies offer paid sites that are a notch above the free sites in terms of design. You also get more space for photos and personalized features. You often have the option of purchasing a more concise, personal domain name with no awkward hyphens.

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If you’ve got the money to spend, you can hire a designer to create a site for your wedding that fully expresses your style. Carry though the color, style, or motif from your invitations so that you’re presenting a consistent style statement.

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If you’ve got the skills, you can buy a domain name and create your own site. Or if you’re lucky, a friend will offer to design your site as a wedding gift. You can make it look any way you like and you’ll have far more storage space. But keep in mind that designing a site and keeping it updated can eat up a lot of time.

A quick Google search will list a good amount of websites, free and paid, but here are some of my favorites.

https://www.rileygrey.com/

http://www.mywedding.com/

Stacey B.

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Friday Floral – Gomphrena

Gomphrena is the perfect addition to any bouquet, arrangement, or boutonniere due to its semi-hardy stem and their cute pedal design! It is also known as the “globe flower” because of the globular flower head shape. This flower is available in white, lilac, violet, red, pink, and orange which is convenient when adding it to your floral plan. Below I have gathered a few examples of how you can incorporate this flower on your special day.

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How neat is that? The small flowers peaking out reminds me of the design of Astrantia.

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These can also be dried to make a beautiful bouquet with wheat.

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When growing Gomphrena they prefer dry well drained soil in sunny locations.

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Each stem can reach up to 2′ tall so you can cut them for a small arrangement or have them standing out as shown in the bouquets above. You can either leave the green foliage around the flower but personally I find it makes a more clean look when they are discarded.

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These plants are also deer resistant and attract butterflies!

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Gomphrena blooms from mid summer until mid fall.

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Here are two good examples of how their semi-hardy stem comes in handy. When you create a boutonniere it is hard to use dainty and fragile flowers so this small yet firm stem allows this to be a great addition!

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Beautiful marigolds on the left with the tea pot, perfect for a brunch wedding or bridal party.

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In place of using greenery you can use a small flower and the Gomphrena is a great option for this!

Gomphrena is about $2.00 per stem in a bouquet of about 10 stems. At the end of the day they do not take up a large amount of space within an arrangement so you will need to buy in bulk for larger arrangements. Another fun way to use this flower is in a hair piece halo or hair piece clip. I enjoy using these in small cocktail arrangements and boutonnieres where they can be more pronounced. Gomphrena is an excellent flower and we suggest it to those clients who are looking for a fun accent flower that can bring a little more personality to the table.

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Top 10 Twists on the Traditional Guest Book

The standard guest book nets you a list of names and addresses of those who attended – not terribly useful or sentimental in the long term. Perhaps in the age when people in the community simply showed up for a wedding, this was a helpful record, but nowadays, we’ve got our spreadsheets. Still, the guest book is a tradition worth keeping, especially if you turn it into something that you’ll treasure. A few of my favorite twists on the traditions:

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Use a leather or cloth scrapbook with blank pages and set up a table with Polaroid cameras, colored markers, glue sticks, and stickers. Put a sign encouraging guests to snap a self-portrait, glue in their photo, and write and decorate a message to the couple.

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Being from Colorado you can’t help but love this idea. These old tree stumps would make a beautiful decorative piece in your new home together.

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Having something special for everyone to sign will help add a special touch.

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Place note cards and pens on the guest-book table and ask guests to write a special wish or share their advice for a happy marriage. Set up a bowl or box for the completed cards. After the wedding, you can glue them into a scrapbook or have them bound in a book.

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You can order a pewter or silver platter or picture frame (you may need more than one, depending on the size of your wedding) and an engraving pen that allows guests to inscribe their names. You can also find ceramic platters that guests can sign with special ink.

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I love the idea of having a map or globe for a destination wedding, or it would even be ideal for those travel lovers.

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Have your guests make a stamp on your wedding! These DIY finger print, guest books are a great idea for the artsy couple.

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A signed quilt is one of my favorite guest books. Not only will a quilt be a great addition to you new home, but it will also be something you will cherish for the rest of your life.

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The ultimate guest book for those ski bums!

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A cut-out of the state you live in, or your last initial make for ultra cute guest books.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to determining your guest book. If you can’t settle for one, you can always add a second or third.

Stacey B.

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