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So one of the most exciting things about getting married (or perks, I should say…as if spending the rest of your life with your best friend wasn’t enough) would be the wedding gift registry. While it can be slightly overwhelming, here are some tips to hopefully simplify the process.
Before venturing out into the major stores (Macy’s, Target, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc) browse online and talk to your friends first. See what their experience was like. Make sure the store has a great registry completion option (where you can get a major discount for buying stuff that you didn’t get!) and be sure to account for all your needs.
Be mindful of what could be included:
The basics: Kitchen supplies, china, everyday dishes, household linens. Most likely these items could be found at a department store and/or Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target.
Step it up: That steamer you may be considering? YES. Shopvac? Why not. Tools? Even Better. Camping gear? OK! Decor? Yes, mam! Sometimes you may end up getting gift cards or cash to purchase such things that you realize you may need once you’re getting settled in, but it’s fun to include a few items on your list. Lowe’s, REI, and online retailers would be good options here!
Give ‘em something to talk about: Honeymoon fund…Donate to a cause worth giving to….Wine Club Membership….Season tickets to the local theater….Artwork….Now’s the time, guys. Go online with it and sign up for Newlywish.com or Amazon.com! Certainly you’ll find some creative items that you may just need to have!
When you’re registering for gifts, be sure to realize that now IS the time. Rarely in your life again will you have family and friends so excited for you that they are happy to help you get your life started on the best foot.
Select quality items that will stand the test of time. With that said, make classic choices with your linens and china, but spruce it up with some accents or your everyday plates. Have an idea of your decorating style so that you can register for matching or coordinating items. Go for style and not so much trend, as you never know where life will carry you and how many times your mind may change about your paint colors!
Feeling slightly guilty about crystal or that Kitchenaid Mixer? Don’t! Most likely, you’ll discover that perhaps your great uncle or your grandma may be more than happy to splurge on something nice for you. If anything, you’ll hopefully get a special discount later on through a completion event so that you can use some of the cash to buy it yourself!
Have a variety of price points included. This pleases everyone. There’s a chance that maybe a few of your friends could go in together on something big (like that mixer!) or they may be perfectly satisfied in getting you a place setting or even some wine glasses or candlesticks. Mix it up so folks may even get creative in purchasing a bundle of items or even so it’s easy on them if they’re invited to showers or pre-wedding festivities in addition to the wedding.
When it comes to sharing your registry information, I’d suggest creating links on your personal wedding website. Guests should gain access to that through your save the dates, prior to the pre-wedding festivities. This allows ample time for them to shop around and it shows them beforehand so they’re not showing up empty-handed!
Lastly, make sure you keep track of gifts so that you may send the proper Thank You notes in a timely manner. It is most important to show a handwritten note of gratitude towards your guests. They will be certainly grateful and appreciative! The track list also helps with you and your new husband for when it comes time to fill the registry or make returns. There will most likely be repeat gifts or items that you may even change your mind about so make sure wherever you go, they have a great return policy! You’ll also be able to see what you need and what you can start shopping for with the gift cards and cash!
It took my husband and I almost a year to go through that process, but slowly we got everything we needed and we returned what we didn’t! We had a fun time with all of it from the very beginning as soon as we got the scan gun for the very first time! Oh the power!
“Marwiage is what bwings us togetha today!”
Wedding officiants play a huge role in your big day. The ceremony aspect of your wedding may very well be the most important and significant portion of the day as you and your fiance share your vows and profess your love and committment to each other. As your officiant will essentially lead the ceremony, it’s important that you take the time to hire the right one for the both of you, based on your beliefs and personalities. Depending upon your backgrounds and current situations, you and your partner should decide if your wedding day will be religious based or secular.
I’d recommend meeting your officiant (whether it’s a Justice of Peace, clergyman, or an ordained friend) to make sure you’re comfortable with them. Sometimes it may be obvious to you who you’ll be asking to partake as this role-perhaps it’s your minister in your church or even a minister you grew up knowing. It may be a relative or even a family friend who you’ve asked to become ordained. Maybe it’s an official wedding officiant that you found from a local vendor research. You’d want to ask them some questions prior to the wedding so you can be on the same page about your ceremony. A few questions that I’d recommend asking would be-
How can you make this personable for the two of us? What types of stories or information would be beneficial from us so you can celebrate our love and make this special?
Are you open to marrying us in our preferred location? If you’re talking to a minister, make sure they’re OK with the ceremony location if it isn’t in their church or house of worship.
What do you need to know about our faith? If we’re of different faiths, are you OK with proceeding?
Do we need to go through pre-marital counseling with you?
What sort of structure do you normally go with in your ceremonies? Is there a homily? Will it be short and sweet?
Will you allow our friends/family to sing, give readings, or take communion?
I’d also recommend going over the vows. Are you writing your own? Does your officiant have scripted vows that you may want to review?
If you’re going the route of finding someone who is ordained, or even considering asking a friend or family member to become ordained for the occasion, be sure to check with your county clerk or your Secretary of State to make sure that it would be recognized where you’re located! You want to make sure they take the proper steps in doing so and also that they’re up to the responsibility!
Without the officiant and the license, you can’t officially get married! Make this a priority early on, brides, and your “I Do’s” will come true.
The next ‘to do’ we have for you, dear Brides, would be to find a caterer and start considering your menu! Food is definitely an important aspect of your big day, whether you’re serving simple pick-up foods or a six course meal. This is one area you may get really creative with and your groom may actually be interested in helping! When it came to my own wedding menu, my fiance (at the time) and I definitely knew we wanted our food to reflect what we found to be southern staples and old time favorites–fried chicken, mac n cheese, beef brisket, southern vegetables, and naturally, some sweet tea to wash it all down! Of course the gourmet details and the fancy twists dressed up our meal to please our guests and raise the standards for a special evening! Southern hospitality was our goal. Our guests were well fed and even walked away from the night with to-go bags and biscuits from our biscuit bar!
image: Nancy Ray
Picking out our menu was easy for us, as it was the same sort of Sunday after church feast we both were used to, but some couples may not have a special meal they find to be nostalgic. It’s fun to consider stations with a variety of options, mini food, or even a fare that reflects your new life together. Moving down south? Why not go for a crawfish broil or a fancy gumbo? Maybe if you’re starting your life up north, a surf & tuf with lobster and steak fits the bill. I’d love to see a fiesta styled reception in person, to be honest! Food trucks and midnight snacks are trending right now, but there’s always the option of going classic with stuffed chicken and glazed vegetables.
When interviewing your caterer, make sure he/she is open to your individual style. See what they may come up with based on your personality. If you’re going with a caterer who has standard options, you may not have much wiggle room for creativity, but maybe you have already been able to taste the food and you know it’s delicious! Working the budget and the guestlist is important for your contract. Catering costs will most likely change closer to the big day once you’ve finalized your headcount, but you don’t want any major surprises when the RSVP’s start coming in. If you base off cost per person off an average number, you’ll be able to see where your cost may rise or depleat. Say, you’re inviting 180 guests, but you expect that 20-30% won’t be able to make it. Base your food costs off 150 people so you can have an understanding of what you may be looking at when it comes to the bottom line. Be sure that head count cost includes your tips, fees, and anything you may be renting so there are no surprises!
Food costs will not only include the actual meal, but also the wait staff, the beverages, the bartenders, the meat carvers, and then set up and break down at the end of the night. Sometimes your caterer may even throw in dishes or flatware and maybe even food risers and display options for your buffet or stations. It’s important to understand that costs may be high because they’re catering to you, for one night, for your event. It’s most likely going to cost more than it would for a restaurant dinner because they’re not serving a steady flow of tipping guests throughout the course of an evening.
image via Collin Cowie
Be sure that you’re going to get a tasting included with your catering contract! This was a fun evening out with my groom to be and my parents because we got to experience the amazing menu creations our caterer designed for us. It’s important to note, too, that our menu options changed a few times before the tasting. What we initially started out with ended up being a bit over budget, so we had to cut out a carving station and we had to freshen up some of the passed hors d’oeuvres. Our caterer was so flexible with us and was OK with us cutting things out to bring our costs down. We were really grateful because he cared about us being happy, rather than us costing him money. I would say that it paid off, because I’ve sent two other brides over to him for their weddings in the next year!
You may want to ask your caterer what exactly he/she includes in the contract: from glassware to coffee to sodas and lemons for waters. Sugar for coffee? All of the little details shouldn’t be assumed. It’s custom to tip your caterer at the end of the night, as well! Be sure to see if that is something included in the contract, or if that will be additional. Ask about traveling costs. Arrival times, kitchen space needed. Your caterer may do a walk through of your venue to see if it’s possible to work in that space with the amount of guests you have invited.
Once you’ve finalized your details of the catering contract, you can then get more of an idea of your specific menu items. I’d say, that’s the fun part! My mouth is watering just looking at all this yummy food, y’all.
In all the chaos of wedding planning, one exciting incentive (besides the actual wedding) is knowing that the day after you’re married, you and your groom will be able to relax as you’re off to your honeymoon! Even if you don’t go somewhere right away, the anticipation of a trip is exciting and romantic. There are so many options, and while traveling somewhere new and far away is appealing, some couples opt to stay a couple of nights closeby to just retreat while they hold off on a big trip. The reality is, sometimes this makes the most sense if you’re financially strapped after the wedding! Whatever you decide, you’ll be amazed at how much you may have to do after the wedding is said and done. (Possibly moving, thank-you notes, registry exchanges, decorating… not to mention, you’re back to the real world!) I definitely recommend getting away at least for a few days to unwind, relax, and to just breath!
Traditionally, the groom is in charge of this vacation. He may or may not go to a travel agent, but hopefully he finds the right sources for planning things out thoughtfully and carefully. Making sure the deposits are taken care of, the champagne is waiting, and the ratings and reviews are wonderful!
My husband used a travel agent because we have a family friend who does this as a living, so we were able to breeze through the planning because it was pretty much mapped out for us. If you’re doing a trip by yourself, couples only resorts are no brainers for a stress free time and for the adventuresome traveler, connecting the dots on your own may save you some money.
No doubt about it, though, the honeymoon should be full of romance, amazing food, maybe a massage, and experiences that will kick off your first year to an exciting start. I love the idea of even seeing America by driving down the coast. Maybe even a tropical retreat or luxury resort. Europe always looks amazing, but be ready to see the sites and be on the go! A spa weekend could be just what you may need or a local beach trip might be just the ticket. If you get to travel somewhere for an entire week, having some adventurous things to do may be a great way to connect and jump out of your comfort zone. We tried ziplining and cave diving, along with a cliff dive that we still laugh about.
Where are you going on your honeymoon? Anywhere exciting?
image source: http://mostromanticgetaways.com/
Are you shopping for a gown? We’d love to hear about your experience! Here are some swoon-worthy dresses that are catching my eye today:
Happy gown hunting, ladies!
When it comes to finding a wedding ceremony location these days, possibilities are almost endless. Of course, the traditional route may be to get married in the church where you grew up. Or maybe even on your family’s property. For many couples, that may not be an option, or even a preference. The ceremony location very easily could be the same place as your reception, too. Often times chapels or churches may have a fee, even if you are a member. Venue costs can seem steep, but there are so many things to consider when finding the perfect venue. The reception site can very much set the tone and feeling of the wedding. Here are some of my favorite ideas for perfect venues:
Sherri J Photography
And, when all else fails, the steps of city hall aren’t looking too bad:
Wherever it may be that you decide, base the decision off of your style as a couple. Select a special place that means something to the two of you. Consider your options and get creative. I have friends who scanned Google Maps for a plot of land along the New England coastline because they wanted a garden by the sea reception, but the typical venues were either booked or out of their price range. They stumbled across a historic playhouse theater and they were able to rent it! As a head’s up though, going this route means renting pretty much everything and those costs may add up quickly. Just weigh your options as you look. It soon begins to make sense why inclusive venues cost what they do!
On the flip side, when you bring in your own rentals and catering, you can interview caterers and usually negotiate the menu costs! Some places like hotels or country clubs give you a limited selection at a fixed price, and the food costs can seem expensive (keep in mind- you probably won’t have to source out your linens or tables!). It may save you money in the long run to purchase linens from a wholesaler upfront just to sell them after it’s all said and done if you can bring those in yourself to a blank canvas of a space.
Take time to look at venues thoroughly enough to understand your options and advantages and disadvantages. This may be a time consuming process, which can take weeks, even months. Some couples, however, know exactly where they want to get married! Some even know what date they will be married. If you want a certain date, you may have to be more flexible about the location, depending on availability. If your heart is set on a particular venue, you may have to be flexible about when you’ll get married. Truth: popular venues book up quickly and far in advance. Consider getting married on a Friday or Sunday, and you may have more options!
We thought we knew where we wanted to get married, but we still tossed around several ideas. Steven’s family is very close with their church and to my surprise, they were actually shocked that we didn’t want to marry there. It was an hour away from where we live now and I had only visited a few times. If I had grown up there and if we were to begin our lives there after the wedding, it definitely would have been an option. But for us as a couple, it didn’t hold a special meaning. Needless to say, when we broke the news to his family that we weren’t getting married there, it didn’t go over that well at first. Eventually things ended up being just fine though.
We also considered getting married in Charleston, where we got engaged. The stress of planning a wedding five hours away quickly became overwhelming to me, so we nixed that idea! Not to mention, our top venue spot quoted us a price that was more than the entire wedding budget. True story. After much thought, Steven and I decided we’d get married in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we met and where we live now.
We were pretty open to where we could hold our reception, but we did know that we wanted to be married in a church or in a chapel. And so the drama of finding a church near a reception venue became an issue. Not yet having a church membership anywhere local started to become a problem. Also, many of the plantation styled homes and manors around our town charged the same cost for both aspects taking place, so it almost made sense to get married in the same place as the reception. For most of these spots, this meant getting married outside. I didn’t want to take my chances with that because my luck would be that it would rain (oh, and it did!). So we kept looking.
So badly I wanted to get married on campus, where I went to college. The chapel is adorable and I knew it would hold meaning to me because it’s where I met my best friends. Initially, I didn’t even consider it as an option because rumor had it that the chapel was booked for the next two years! We did find a cute wedding chapel downtown and we were just about to sign the contract, but I hesitated because I couldn’t stop thinking about my Alma Mater’s chapel. I knew I was probably pushing my luck by calling, but fingers crossed, there was a tiny ounce of hope. They actually had two openings! Since we were pretty flexible with getting married in the Spring/Summer of 2011, it worked out. One of the openings was in April, one in June. The June date was the same day of a huge race event on campus, so they could not guarantee the condition of campus once the time came for our ceremony or photos. Well, April it was!
This is what I would call a wedding high. When you’re planning a wedding, you quickly learn that things either go your way, or they don’t. Especially if you like to be involved and in control. Luckily there are many great weeks to bring up the frustrating times. Getting married started to feel more real once we had an actual date! Our happy luck continued as we were able to link up again with the woman who had showed us that chapel downtown (the one we almost booked).
We remembered her talking to us about her company’s most recently purchased spaces. It was an urban space in one of the old buildings downtown. She said we were welcome to take a tour, but it was definitely in the middle of the reno. She explained to us what changes were being made. She also said if things went along as planned, they would open about 6 months prior to our wedding date and so far, there had been very few bookings. They were wide open because the marketing plan hadn’t even started.
We booked the space, but I feel like we got lucky. All of the other reception locations we had considered were already booked for April 9th! In a way, we had no other option, but I also knew it was where we wanted to hold the celebration. It was only 15 minutes away from our ceremony site and the trip would take our guests right through the middle of my fiance’s Alma Mater’s campus. Perfect! Or was it?
Like I said, it was a construction zone. The first time we toured the space, the hardwood floors were unfinished, the exposed brick was dusty from the, there were tools everywhere. It looked like a warehouse dump! However, I could see the big picture. My fiance was getting nervous. He thought I was a little crazy, I’m sure. This is after looking at an elegant ballroom and beautiful plantation. I knew the venue would end up being gorgeous. It’s now one of the most up and coming reception spots in downtown Raleigh.Nancy Ray
Through my own experience, I will just stress that patience is key. As your wheels begin to spin in your head about where you may end up getting married, be open and be willing to go with the flow. At the same time, you want to hold true to your vision and your standards.
Good luck, brides! Please comment below with your venue questions!
If you’ve been engaged for a few weeks, you’ve certainly noticed that planning a wedding is such an animal of an event! It’s important for your day to go smoothly and flawlessly. Wedding guests tend to remember when things go badly! They’re pleased when they have an amazing experience at a wedding, and usually kind of disappointed if it doesn’t meet their expectations. No pressure, right!? Hiring a wedding planner can easily take away some stress. Planners also have the expertise of knowing many details that you may not even have thought about. Marrily can be used to help you and your planner coordinate information, vendors, and guest lists. For the clueless bride who may not know anything about the industry upon getting engaged, a wedding planner and a subscription to Marrily will probably be well worth the investment!
Hopefully you will interview several wedding planners. Ask them if they’re familiar with Marrily. Let them know that this is a wonderful tool for communication. It’s even readily available on an iPhone (and soon, other smart phones!) You’re going to want to find a professional who you believe can take charge, be pleasant to work with, and relieve some stress so you can enjoy you day! Some wedding planners have different levels of service, which is great because you may not need a full service planner. Full service planners handle everything and they are also extremely expensive, sometimes even upwards of ten thousand dollars! You may be looking for a day of coordinator or maybe you have an idea of what vendors you’d like to use, but you’re clueless about the logistics. A mix between full service and day of coordinating could be a great way to keep your mind and your wallet happy!
A full service planner will most likely book all of your vendors based on your style as a couple and based on your budget. They may take charge of your projects, your contracts, and your vendors. They may research vendors for you and come back to you with two options for you to select from. Most full service planners will alleviate a ton of stress from the bride who may not be very involved. Perhaps she’s too busy with her career or even just not very interested! That’s OK!
For the bride who may need a little guidance from a planner, but who has her own ideas and vision, a customized package may be something to look for in a planner. This is the route that I took. My planner gave me time lines, worked on my budget, and gave me vendor options. Some vendors I found myself (like my photographer) but my planner was able to help with negotiating packages and also took some stress off my back because she had great experiences with said vendors. Because she had worked with my florist, DJ, and my rental company prior to my own wedding, I trusted things would go smoothly. She definitely helped with that! We met monthly and she was available for questions all the time. We had questions constantly, especially when it came to etiquette and details. She handled the entire day of coordination, including the rehearsal so everything ran smoothly. My family and I took care of DIY projects, the guest list managing, and several other things that are involved. I planned out the vision and details, but my planner and my florist were in charge of making it happen on the big day. The time lines, guest lists, and budget frustrated me, but my mom was amazingly helpful in picking up where I was unsure. My planner gave us many pointers.
For the bride who may have bridesmaids or family members who have recently planned a wedding, or the savvy bride who wants to take on figuring out everything herself through researching books and blogs, a day of coordinator may be just the ticket. Be prepared to take on the planning as you would take on a part time job! Leading up to the big day can be handled by a bride and her family or bridesmaids, but trust me, on the day of your wedding, you should relax. It’s going to be a long day and it should be best enjoyed with your bridesmaids, getting ready and celebrating, rather than tying 100 ribbons to wands or setting up tables. A day of coordinator will work with you several weeks before the wedding day to get your vendor information. From there, your coordinator will contact all of your vendors and they will probably create a day of timeline so everyone is in union for the set up of your event. She’ll hopefully give you a packing list and give you a distribution list for your wedding party to ensure everyone is on time and in the place where they need to be! During the actual wedding, they’ll direct seating, musicians will know what to do, and the photographer will know when to be where.
Once you get to the reception, the DJ will know when to play what and guests will follow suit for dancing, dining, the cake cutting, and anything else you’ll specify. Your day of coordinator will take care of getting your event set up as well. There is so much that goes into making your space beautiful and sometimes your venue or florist will provide some assistance with this, but for the finishing details and the pom poms or the signs and the extras, this is where your coordinator and their staff may come in. This is definitely something to ask prior to hiring a day of coordinator. They may not work on the decor. They may just be focused on the logistics. I ran into this issue when I got married. I was expecting some amazing “DIY” projects to be up and decorated and they weren’t there. Had I known, I would have happily made them prior to give to my florist, but he didn’t deliver the way we communicated. I was slightly bummed, but I got over it. My florist ran out of time and my wedding planner was dealing with logistics. The food was amazing, the music was perfect, and everyone had a blast. As far as timing goes, we were all on time and the flow of the event was wonderful. No one but me noticed that those silly ribbons were not correct! It certainly didn’t take away from the happiness of the day!
This is where an event stylist could have saved the day! Event stylists take floral arranging, DIY’s, and decor to a whole new level in your wedding. They’ll actually DO all those cute projects for you or with you and they’ll work with your coordinator and florist on the big day to set up to make things special. Most likely, you’ll work with your stylist early on so you can get everything matched up from your invitations, to your linens, to your floral arrangements, and to all your projects. This area makes me giddy because styling is so interesting to me, as you can mix fabrics, prints, and colors in so many ways to make your wedding different and unique! This is also where many personal touches may come into play, so your personality comes through. If styling is your thing, you will probably love making boards like I did in the three photos above! All the images were found through Style Me Pretty and various wedding blogs. I took these to all my vendors to help communicate!
You may take on the role of being your own event stylist (I like to think that that was my role in my planning process, with the help of my family!), but just make sure you cover your bases. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish the projects and know where you can run if you run out of time. Etsy is an awesome source to buy some of the different things you may want to use. Start early! It helps with costs and with time. Did you know that you can account for all these little costs on your Marrily budget planner? Yep! Just keep in mind that things add up!
Hope and I are giving insight here over each step of the planning process timeline. Feel free to leave us your questions. Are you hiring a planner?
For most newly engaged couples, announcing thier engagement can be so exciting! In my own experience, we called our parents quickly after it happened. Since we were hours away from home, a phone call made sense. It was great to hear the excitement with everyone over the phone and we had no plans to see anyone in person once we returned from our trip. Steven and I then called the rest of our family and friends during the trip back to North Carolina from Charleston and it made the drive so exciting! We had just gotten engaged on Battery Park moments before we were leaving our vacation. The dreaded ride back to reality was suddenly thrilling because I had a new reality waiting for me as a Bride To Be!
I wanted to make sure I told my friends over the phone before anyone could find out through social media. Just to be sure, we held off announcing it online for a few days which was the best decision for us.
Whether you use the phone or you share your news in person, there are some fun ways to incorporate making your news special! One fun way to announce your news would be through sending a photograph, too. Perhaps your guy has planned to pop the question in front of your family, or even has them waiting somewhere so you can share the news at one time in person. Maybe he even coordinated having a photographer on site! It would be fun to announce your exciting news by texting the photo to your friends since we’re in such a tech savvy world today. Or you could call first, then text the photograph! Once you get the word out, celebrations usually ensue, which is really exciting!
Another clever idea is to have a video announcement, after the fact. My creative friend, Emily did just that!
The best advice I could give newly engaged gals would be to soak up the excitement and enjoy the precious moments before the chaotic plans begin! Enjoy the celebrations and savor the big idea of getting married before diving into planning. It’s by far one of the best feelings, so you’ll want to hold on to that feeling and let that carry you over the next several months leading up to the big day.
One of the first things that you may do once you’re engaged is set up a time and place for your family to meet your finace’s family, if they have not met yet. It’s normal for this to be slightly awkward and nerveracking, but it will most likely go smoothly and hopefully both families are welcoming and accomodating. It’s important for the two families to meet before the wedding plans begin. It gives you and your fiance to have the opportunity to talk to them about who may be paying for what and also for you all to set any expectations about the wedding and even your marriage. It’s good to discuss where you and your fiance stand on a few of these items prior to everyone meeting so you two are on the same page. If these topics come up, you’re prepared, and if not, that’s ok, too! Maybe it will be a fun and laid back kind of meeting.
Sometimes it may not be feasible for everyone to meet if location is an issue, so waiting until the wedding festivities may be in the cards. If so, be sure to introduce each other and make an effort to indulge in conversing with both families together. While families may not always agree on everything, they’re usually willing to put aside differences for your special time.
Do any brides out there have any funny stories of the families meeting? We’d love for you to share!