How to Save Money on Your Wedding

The dress, the veil, the shoes, the flowers, the limo, the photographer, the cake, the caterer or country club… not to mention your wedding bands, honeymoon, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, parent gifts, and on and on. Don’t be fooled – the list of things to buy and book and do for your wedding is just as endless as you think, if not more so. Here are some great tips for how to save money on your wedding.

When it comes to congratulating you on your special engagement, everyone is there with open arms and beaming smiles. When it comes to shelling out the cash to pay for the big event, everyone points the finger. What gives? You only get married once, right?

Nowadays, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the question on all our minds – who pays for the wedding. Some of today’s modern couples decide to undertake the bulk of the cost themselves. Sometimes the bride’s family follows the tradition of generations past and foots the bill on their dime. Other times, the bill can be split between both families, and often with help from the bride and groom. But any way you slice it, someone has to pay, and unfortunately, that money isn’t going to grow on the trees lining your backyard.

 

To make the most of the money that you do have to put toward your special day, keep this one thought in mind. Weddings are to wedding vendors what Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays are to Hallmark, chocolate shops, jewelry stores, perfume makers and other gift merchants.

Weddings mean business. Weddings mean good business – megabucks. The vendors know just how important your special day is to you, and they capitalize on your emotion. They sense the flutter in your heart or they catch the tear glistening in your eye when you try on the dress and there, waiting in the wing, is the veil, the tiara, the shoes, the jewelry…all waiting on an assembly line once you’ve found “the dress.”

Call up anonymously and ask your preferred reception site what it would cost to book a graduation party, or a birthday celebration, or even a family reunion. I dare you. You’ll be sickened at the dramatic drop in price when the “w” word is no longer rolling off the tongue. On second thought, don’t call, unless you intend to book your special day incognito. You might lose your appetite for the whole thing.

To help you save money on the planning of the most special day, I’ve kept some notes on my own adventures in wedding planning. Take it for what it’s worth or leave it for the others; whatever floats your boat. Remember, while your wedding is going to be the happiest day of your life, it will also be the one of, if not the most expensive. Any savings you can rack up do add up, and you’ll be so grateful when your monthly credit card bills don’t supersede your monthly mortgage payments as your deepest debt.

Tip #1: Shop the discount racks, the clearance sales, and the going out of business sales.

I have always been a sucker for a bargain. As long as you aren’t dreaming of a wedding ala Christina Aguilera, you should be able to score some really great deals everywhere from bridal shops and party stores to gift stores, departments stores, even grocery stores, and of course, online merchants.

Keep your eyes peeled for sales and don’t be averse to taking a road trip now and again. You might just find the wedding dress of your dreams at an über discount. It happened to me! I was too lazy to walk upstairs to dig through my mail pile to find a flyer for a local bridal shop that was going out of business, so I searched for it on the computer. Instead, I came up with a bridal shop going out of business in Maryland, about three hours away. My mom and I made the drive, and the last dress I tried on was “the one.” I got a designer gown that I wouldn’t otherwise have considered at a discount of 1/3 off the price.

Tip #2: If timing is an issue, ask for a flexible payment schedule.

I feel your pain. I need an $800 deposit for this, a $1000 deposit for that, just put $1500 on the credit card, and within three weeks, voila, my bank account is the lowest it’s been in four years. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Most of the vendors and reception sites require the deposits in order to protect themselves.

When a photographer or videographer, a dj, or a caterer books with you, many times they are cutting off all other prospects and ties to that date. Once you provide the initial deposit to secure the service, the vendor should be sympathetic to your financial situation, and most times they are willing to work out a special payment plan.

Tip #3: Don’t be shy. Ask for discounts.

If you’ve ever been to an auction, a flea market, or a community market in a vacation destination area, you might have some experience with haggling. Even if you don’t know the first thing about it, now is the perfect time to learn.

I expressed my financial concerns to my photographer, a highly skilled professional whom I chose despite his higher price tag. After a few days without a response, I soon received an email with him presenting us with a free engagement photo session, valued at $400.

Tip #4: Play the vendors against each other, gently.

If Reception Hall A offers you a discount, but you like Reception Hall B considerably better, speak up. Tell the banquet manager or wedding coordinator of your preferred reception hall that you’ve been offered a discount of x% (in my case it was 10%), and that you’d really like to book with her, but your budget dictates your options.

Chances are, if you are booking a wedding within the same calendar year, you might just be able to get that discount and get the reception hall you like best. If you are planning your wedding for a little further out, you may not have the same leverage, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The costs of the food and banquet services are so inflated that any given reception hall should be able to offer you some sort of incentive, no matter when your wedding is.

 

Tip #5: Collect coupons. Collect wedding magazines because they contain coupons.

So far I’ve seen everything from 25% off your total wedding purchase at a craft store to free gifts and more. These coupons do add up. Buy the Sunday paper each week and you’ll find even more coupons. (Hey, if you save on your groceries, you’ll save even more money!)

The more coupons you use, the more money you save. The more money you save, the nicer your reception can be while spending even less than you intended.

 

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Take my tips or leave them. I hope that something you’ve read here helps you to save yourself or your family some money. I’m still learning the ins and outs of this wedding planning myself, but I have to admit, it feels really great to save a buck or two here or there. Plan your budget and hang tough. Find savings wherever and whenever you can. You will make it through and you’ll cherish every moment of your special day.

No matter where you cut the corners or how much money you spend in the end, your wedding day will be absolutely unforgettable as you take those meaningful steps toward the love of your life.

Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring Trends – Stylish and Stackable

Trax Flat Matte Wedding Band, Courtesy of Superfit Inc.An engagement ring and the wedding bands to follow are certainly the most emotionally precious and sentimentally valuable pieces of jewelry you will ever own. When a man proposes to his intended wife, it’s often true that he placed much thought into the engagement ring that serves as a sign of the couple’s intention to marry. Then, the couple often considers wedding band styles together. Trends in engagement rings and wedding rings are ever evolving and circling back to vintage designs. One of the most exquisite and utilitarian designs of the present day is the stackable set of rings.

Trax Flat Matte Wedding Band, Courtesy of Superfit Inc.

Finding the balance between her taste and cash can be difficult with so many styles to consider. For a little insight, visit Blue Nile reviews and see rings or cuts that have given loved ones design and value.

Stackable engagement rings and wedding rings offer versatility and unique beauty to the wearer. The styles are classic and timeless. Stacking rings deliver a startling elegance that also carries a special convertible element. Wear the wedding ring by itself, with your diamond engagement ring, or together with another special ring you’ve received.

“I love stackable rings since they bring versatility to what can be a substantial investment due to soaring precious metals prices,” says Eric Alulis, a specialist in New Product Development for Superfit® Inc.

“They also make a great bridge between traditional bridal jewelry and fashion jewelry,” he says. “Their ‘stackability’ allows one to customize rings that hold sentimental value, and coordinate a look with a particular situation – vacation, party, etc.

UnityLine Flat Matte Wedding Band, Courtesy of Superfit Inc.“I love jewelry that can be worn with a formal gown, to work, and to a barbeque. And that is something you should consider when choosing your bridal jewelry.”

Stacking rings give their wearers options. They can mix and match the order of the rings, or only wear certain ones at a time. Other rings may be presented as gifts in the future – such as anniversary bands or birthstone rings to celebrate the birth of a child. The possibilities are virtually endless, as the purchaser’s own imagination is the chief limitation.

UnityLine Round Matte Wedding Band, Courtesy of Superfit Inc.“When shopping, keep in mind the different ways you intend to wear your set,” Alulis suggests. “Will you want to wear your diamond engagement ring alone? Will you want to wear a single wedding band alone and leave the larger diamond at home? This will help shape your final decision because choices can seem overwhelming.”

The option to wear the rings very separately is a nice alternative to wearing your diamond engagement ring to the beach or even during a backyard volleyball game. Stacking rings allow you the flexibility to wear several rings in the same sequence, or sometimes in a different sequence, as rarely or as frequently as you wish.

“A favorite designer of mine, Maeve Gilles (Maevona, www.maevona.com), offers wonderful selections of truly fashion forward and unique bridal sets,” Alulis notes. “She always puts a lot of forethought into creating ensemble pieces that are a real departure from the standard mass marketed offerings.”

Stacking rings present a dramatically different appearance for the traditional engagement ring and wedding ring set. For example, a recent groom surprised his new wife on their wedding day with a set of stacking rings as her wedding band and a matching gift. He worked with his jeweler to create an identical ring to match his bride’s wedding band.

Together, the two men custom designed a set of stackable rings that would create a gorgeous symmetry between his wife’s engagement ring and the wedding band he designed for her. Justin’s wife had no idea that this additional ring existed until the moment when they stood together at the altar on their wedding day, within seconds of taking their vows. Justin’s own wedding ring also involved a custom creation – a platinum band featuring two tracks with a brushed center, boasting a number of petite diamonds set and spaced inside.

“Customization is a great way to add personal meaning to a bridal set,” Alulis explains. “Remember to mix metal colors and stone patterns to maximize versatility and create a unique look.

“This is also an opportunity to coordinate the gent’s band with the lady’s band, with respect to the traditional masculine look of men’s jewelry and the more delicate taste in ladies’ jewelry. Perhaps it’s an old fashion notion, but I really think bridal jewelry should have special meaning to its purchaser. It stands for an emotion, it reflects a sentiment as well as a special period in life, and a consumer shouldn’t necessarily settle for status quo.”

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About the rings:

The rings shown belong to the CliQ collection. All are available in Platinum, 14K gold, and 18K gold. Superfit® rings have an invisible hinge that safely and securely allows you to open and close your ring seamlessly for a perfect fit.

About the expert:
Eric Alulis works as a New Product Developer for Superfit® Inc. For more information, visit Superfit® on the Web at www.superfitinc.com.

How to Choose the Right Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photo by Kim Calakoutis

If ever in your entire life you get to feel like a movie star, it’s bound to be on your wedding day. The wedding photographer you select will spend hours with you, capturing your every expression, your every smile, on camera. Because you and your spouse-to-be will be working so closely with your photographer all day on your special day, it’s important that you ensure a comfortable chemistry between yourselves and the photographer.

The best starting point in selecting your photographer is to view many, many photographers’ portfolios and get to know what’s available these days. Consider all the possible styles and packages. Decide if you’ll be hiring a single photographer or a dynamic duo or photographer team. Keep your budget in mind as you shop for your wedding photographer. Remember, your wedding photography will probably be one of the more expensive elements of your wedding.

Wedding Photography by Kim Calakoutis

Many people agree that your wedding photography package is one place you don’t want to cut corners or skimp on your budget or on your planning. Wedding photos are something you will cherish and treasure forever. To get the best wedding photographs possible, you will want to enlist an experienced photographer who has a good personality and close attention to detail.

Kim Calakoutis is a professional photographer who specializes in weddings. She recently established her own wedding Web site to help brides as they plan their weddings. Calakoutis suggests considering the following items as you prepare to choose a wedding photographer.

As you plan to select your wedding photographer, Calakoutis stresses to consider these four elements closely:

  

1. Find a photography style you love. “When you picture your wedding photographs, what words come to mind? When you look at photographers’ Web sites, look for Web sites that match those words.”Photography by Kim Calakoutis

2. Personality is everything! “Do you feel comfortable around them? Are you able to tell them what you really want? Do you feel they are listening to you or just merely pacifying you?”

3. Budget is the bottom line. “We all hate to admit it, but budget is always a factor. Small things make big differences in pictures, so if you can afford it, try and find a photographer that works as a team. Having someone there to fix your dress, or facilitate the group shots will help the pictures run smoothly and quickly without compromising the quality.”

4. Reputation, reputation, reputation. “Need I say anymore? Are they well-known? Even if you don’t see them on your reception’s preferred vendors list, are they on anyone’s? Do you know anyone that used them? Do they have a studio? Are they experienced?”

  

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As you prepare to choose your wedding photographer, make sure you review all the photo package options and any applicable discounts. Consider the photographer’s schedule if you are planning a wedding with short notice.

TIP: Wedding Photo Checklist – Don’t forget to compile a photo list of the most precious images you would like captured on your special wedding day! Here’s a sample wedding photography checklist to get you thinking on the right track. Good luck and best wishes!

About Kim Calakoutis:

Kim Calakoutis is a wedding photographer and recent bride who started her own Web magazine for other brides. Visit her wedding magazine, A Visual Guide for the Online Bride, at www.kcphotobrideguide.com or check out her photography site at www.K-C-Photo.com.

Centerpieces for Tropical or Beach Weddings

Choosing decorations for your wedding can be quite the daunting task. You’ve got flowers, candles, miles and miles of tulle, and of course, centerpieces. For many brides, centerpieces are a fun and unique way to express their artistry and creativity. Can you hear the ocean?The table centerpieces often match the theme and colors of the wedding. If you are planning a tropical or beach wedding theme, these ideas may help you or help to spark another great wedding centerpiece idea.

Continue reading Centerpieces for Tropical or Beach Weddings

Fun Gifts for Newlyweds

When your favorite couple decides to tie the knot, a gift on their bridal registry just may not cut it. If your friendship is especially close, you may wish to present the happy pair with a gift that comes with a more personal message. Give the bride and groom a special wedding present that speaks volumes for your friendship and for all the fun and excitement you wish them in their new life together.

Be prepared to celebrate your pals’ union with a fun gift that lightens the mood and adds to the relaxation of their honeymoon. Here are some great “outside the box” gifts to consider for newlyweds.

For the Great Outdoors

If your beloved buds enjoy everything that is Mother Nature, a fun and functional outdoorsy present may be in store. Gifts for the great outdoors can offer many years of fun in the sun and utter relaxation.

Here are some suggestions for an outdoorsy gift for your friends:

A grill – For those wonderful summertime burgers and hotdogs, a nice grill really does the trick. Ownership of a grill also inspires barbeque parties and other fun get-togethers.

A two-person tent – For the adventurous duo, a tent comes in especially handy for weekends away and overnight treks to new lands. This gift enables travel and the making of countless memories in nearby or distant vacation destinations.

A wine backpack – these often contain their own picnic blanket, wine glasses, corkscrew and bottle topper, not to mention the spacious backpack with storage enough for at least one or two bottles of wine. Bonus – this is a very romantic gift to boot!

For the Home

If your newlyweds enjoy time at home in the kitchen or relaxing, a unique gift for the home may be a nice treat. Depending on the budget, many fun and useful household items don’t even cross the minds of the new brides and grooms to be.

Here are a few home items that might strike your fancy:

A flat-screen television (The Ultimate Gift) – Guys and gals alike will enjoy a high definition flat-screen television, complete with his and hers remote control. (Hers when he isn’t using it!) While considerably pricier than most wedding gifts, this gift item will always be cherished and enjoyed thanks to you.

A fondue set – If your friends haven’t already registered for a Fondue set, consider this as an option. Molten chocolate, stringy melted cheese draped over potatoes laden with bacon, broccoli dressed with a thin layer of cheddar – if that doesn’t make your mouth water, move on. Fondue is a very romantic gift that can be enjoyed by the couple as well as by dinner guests and party guests.

A video game system – Even as we grow older, it is still important to keep the child alive in our hearts. If you decide to get your friends a video game system, be prepared that the groom may appreciate this gift just a tad bit more than the bride will.

For the Honeymoon

If you insist on being the fun friend with the wild and crazy ideas, getting your friends a gift for their honeymoon might be right up your alley.

Here are a few ideas for suitcase-worthy honeymoon gifts:

A new digital camera – If you think your friends are in the market for a new camera but just haven’t had the time or the cash to pick one up, give this avenue a fair shot. A spiffy new digital camera will capture so much of the fun and adventure on their honeymoon.

Snorkeling gear is a fun and adventurous gift.Snorkeling gear – If your pals are traveling to a tropical location, snorkeling is probably one of the items on their list of fun things to do. Make sure you include a disposable underwater camera for priceless memories!

Luggage, of course! – If the couple has not already registered for luggage, a nice set of matching luggage could be just the ticket to a wonderful start for their happy honeymoon. If they do have luggage, a beach bag full of fun accessories like “Just Married” flip-flops, a Frisbee, and other sand and surf items may be the perfect alternative.

No matter what gift you decide to get for your friends, remember that they will especially cherish your continued friendship. Express your feelings in a wedding card that captures the emotion of the day. Include a few pictures of the couple before they got engaged, or during their engagement, if you feel so inclined.

Remember that the wedding is a very special time to wish the bride and groom the best for their future together. Your love and support for them is the best gift of all!

Personal Wedding Gifts from the Groom to His Bride

A gift she'll always remember...As the love of your life prepares to walk down the aisle to begin your life together, your spirits are high and emotions run deep. To make this moment and the entire day even more special and memorable, many couples choose to exchange personal wedding gifts. Wedding gifts from the groom to the bride can come in all shapes and sizes. Gifts from groom to bride can be jewelry items for her to wear on the wedding day, flowers to brighten her morning, or something for the couple to enjoy in their new home together. Gifts from the groom to the bride can be just about anything that suits the couple, but here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

Couples often swap gifts prior to the actual wedding ceremony. Many choose to exchange presents either at the rehearsal dinner or by way of a messenger on the wedding day itself. In some cases, brides and grooms may choose to trade gifts during the festivities of their wedding day, or sometimes even at the conclusion of the event, once they finally find themselves alone together.

The nature of the gift is a very personal decision. Your bride may not be expecting a large show of emotion or an expensive gift. On the other hand, maybe she’s been hinting around about a paid of diamond studs or a sparkly new necklace. Whatever the case, make sure the gift comes from your heart.

If the budget allows, any gift of jewelry can play the role of a precious part of your wedding day. Diamond earrings will achieve great visibility in almost all the pictures, and they’ll sparkle brilliantly as you sweep her around the dance floor. Likewise with a necklace or tennis bracelet. Think about the message and sentiment you are hoping to achieve, and that, along with the cost, should help to guide your decision.

Here are a few tips for the perfect gift for your bride, according to your own preferences and budget restraints.

On a Shoestring Budget
• A handwritten love letter, spritzed with your cologne
• A book of poetry, highlighted with some phrases you feel relate to your relationship
• A CD with a song you wrote just for her, if you are a musician
• A greeting card with sentiments of how you feel this day
• A handwritten note about how you can’t wait to have her for your wife
• A mixed CD of all your favorite songs
• A poem you wrote for her yourself
• A photo album or photo frame with a favorite picture of the two of you
• A single long stem red rose (“I love you”) proclaiming your love
• A single long stem white rose (“Happy love”) proclaiming your love and excitement for the future

Traditional and Key to the Wedding DayFlowers are timeless.
• A dozen or more beautiful red roses
• A special necklace for her to wear
• A string of pearls for her to wear
• Diamond earrings – girls love them. (make sure her ears are pierced!)
• Fresh-cut flowers with a love note
• Jewelry box and an all-important item for her to wear on your wedding day, with a note that you will be filling this up!
• Monogrammed or embroidered handkerchief
• Tennis bracelet

Fun and Adventurous
• Golf clubs, if you think she’d like them and if you play
• Expensive name brand sunglasses you know she wants but wouldn’t buy for herself
• MP3 player, portable DVD player, or other fun electronic device
• Something to use on the honeymoon, like snorkeling gear or a beach bag with flip flops, a soft new beach towel, and a book you know she’s been wanting

The Sky’s the Limit
• A full set of matching jewelry
• A special collectible that reminds you of the two of you and your relationship
• A special handbag that you know she’s been wanting
• A portrait, print, painting, or sculpture by her favorite artist
• Cruise tickets booked for a future vacation for the two of you

 

A Sweet Surprise:

My husband got me a ring almost identical to my wedding band as my wedding gift from him. The bands are shaped a little bit like the letter “V” just at the top, and the one closest to my heart is the wedding band. Then, my engagement ring goes in the middle, and the wedding gift ring fits on the other side of the diamond, creating a perfect symmetry. Each band has nine smaller diamonds in a channel setting. When you put the two wedding day rings together, they fit seamlessly, and the inscription inside is a line from our wedding song: “When I fall in love…” (wedding band), “It will be forever…” (wedding gift). This gift blew me away and took me completely by surprise.

I understand stackable rings like these are not always an option, but the surprise ring set is a very sentimental gift that I will treasure forever.

If your wedding budget is pushing its final boundary, the bride’s and groom’s gifts to each other could be one corner you can cut. This is a time-honored tradition, but it is not practiced in all circles. Some couples consider their wedding bands and the honeymoon itself as their gifts to each other.

 

If you don’t have the cash but you still want to do something special for your sweetheart on the day of your wedding, write her a special love letter or make her a handcrafted greeting card to express your love for her. Send it by way of one of her bridesmaids before your wedding ceremony and your words will surely touch her heart.

First Date Ideas – Adventure, Excitement, and Intimacy

The most nerve-wracking moments of a new relationship are arguably the last few moments before your first date begins. When you barely know someone or even when you’ve known that person for a long time but finally decide to take things to a new level, the first date can be stressful, intimidating, and awkward. But it doesn’t have to be!

Check out these pointers for fun-filled first dates of all kinds—you’ll be so busy enjoying yourself that you’ll forget to be nervous!

First Dates for the Adventurer
Go for a horseback ride!If you find yourself having a hard time sitting still for more than five minutes, these date location options may be just right for you. If active is your lifestyle and energetic is your middle name, try these on for size when your interest lies in someone of similar interests….

Grab some bikes and go mountain biking or for a leisurely trip through the park, throw a pack together and go backpacking, hiking or horseback riding along a scenic trail, or head off to the nearest amusement park. Excitement in the water is sure to ensue if you opt to go tubing, jet skiing, or paddle boating. For a slightly more romantic first date: go sail boating!

 

First Dates for the Athlete
Foster a little healthy competition with your new love interest and challenge him or her to a grueling tennis match, a few rounds of golf, or have a good old-fashioned catch with a baseball. Need more exertion than that? Consider going for a tour of the town on rollerblades or find a parking lot and grab a crate, a ball and two hockey sticks and see who can score the most goals. Chances are you’ll both drop the gloves in no time!

Is the chance of rain threatening your outdoor festivities? No matter—take your competitive spirits inside and shoot some pool, throw some darts or indulge in some video games. Who says you’re too old to have a good time at the arcade?

   

Sophisticated First Dates
Care to swap some intellectual tidbits or compare tastes in fine art and history? You can learn a lot more about a person by spending some time together at a museum or an art gallery. Figure out what he or she likes, and perhaps you can even use your own artistic talent to create a work of art as a surprise on a future date with this person.Catch an art festival or visit a museum.

Another option for a more refined first date: Accompany one another to a natural or historical landmark in or near your community. Immerse yourselves in the natural wonders of a nearby park or other local attraction.

More First Dates….


A Photo Checklist for Your Wedding Day

If a picture speaks a thousand words, this article may be worth just as many to you as you plan for your wedding photographer’s level of involvement on your special day. The going rate for wedding photographers is a pretty penny, and you’ll be smart to get your money’s worth. Creating a wedding day photo checklist is the first step to ensuring you receive all the pictures your heart desires on your special day. A photo checklist is easy to create on your own if you play your wedding through in your mind, but you may wish to have a look at this photo checklist and either use it or customize it to meet your needs.

When it comes to telling your wedding photographer exactly what you want for your wedding day, don’t be shy. Those photographs will be yours to cherish for the rest of your life. They’ll lift you up when you’re down, and they’ll remind you of your perfect wedding day and all your loved ones who shared in it. They’ll be a treasured keepsake from the day when you and your sweetheart joined your lives together as one. A wedding photograph checklist helps to ensure you receive all these photos.

As you plan for your wedding day and the photographic opportunities that await, be sure you cover every base. It is better to be overly prepared rather than to look back and wish you had spent a few more moments getting organized. Here is a general breakdown of the highlights you’ll probably want to secure in your photographer’s itinerary. Don’t forget to customize the photo checklist by adding special photos you’d like to have in addition to these general shots.

Getting Ready for the Big Day

• Bride getting ready
• Her accessories – dress hanging by a window, her shoes on the bed, her garter, etc.
• Bride getting ready with mom
• Bride getting ready with bridesmaids
• Bride and maid of honor getting ready together
• Bride and bridesmaids posed
• Bride’s bouquet
• Groom getting ready
• Groom with father
• Groom with groomsmen getting ready
• Groom and groomsmen posed
• Additional photos (fill in your desired extra shots here)
 

At the Wedding Ceremony

• Groom and groomsmen before the ceremony
• Bride and bridesmaids before the ceremony
• Nervous/excited bride by herself before ceremony
• Flower girl / ring bearer before ceremony
• Church or wedding ceremony site inside prior to guest arrival
• Church or wedding ceremony site outside prior to guest arrival
• Guests arriving
• Guests awaiting the bride’s entrance
• Bride arriving at the ceremony location
• Entrance of the grandparents
• Entrance of the parents
• Bridesmaids entrance
• Flower girl and ring bearer entrance
• Close up of flower girls / ring bearer
• Groom and groomsmen in the front, waiting for bride
• Musicians
• Religious officials
• Bride walking down the aisle with father or escort
• Close-up of bride walking
• Groom watching bride and waiting for her
• Bride and father as she meets her groom
• Sweeping shot of altar or ceremony location
• Shot of bride and groom during vows
• Close-up of bride and groom during vows
• Close-up of bride and groom during exchange of rings
• The couple’s first kiss
• Bride and groom during recessional
• Bride and groom celebrating with guests
• Bride and groom leaving the ceremony site
• Bride and groom seated together in car or vehicle
• Additional photos (fill in your desired extra shots here)

 

Portraits (Bride and groom, family shots, bridal party shots)…


Perfect Parent Gifts for Your Wedding Day

With all the planning you’ve been doing, have you remembered to get something extra special for the people who gave you life and brought you into this world? It is a wonderful idea to give your parents a special thank you gift on the eve of your nuptials or sometime during your wedding day. Parent gifts are a tradition for many, and they’re customary in many circles. You can customize the perfect parent gift or choose a traditional parent gift that best suits your needs.

With so many things to plan and so many decisions to make constantly, it’s no wonder that some things can be easily overlooked or pushed aside for more pressing issues. Parent gifts may be one of those after-thoughts, but they don’t have to be! Whether you just can’t think of a good gift or if the thought hasn’t yet crossed your mind, here are some helpful parent gift ideas for all budgets.

Shopping on a Shoestring Budget
When cost-conscious doesn’t begin to describe your situation, fret not. Countless meaningful gifts are out there, and many of them are just not as costly as you would think. Consider these options or use them to brainstorm for your own ideas for wonderful and memorable parent gifts.

Here are a few options for parent gifts on the lower end of the wedding budget:

Memories… Make a scrapbook or photo album with pictures of you and your future spouse together, in addition to pictures of you with your parents and siblings. Make an album for each set of parents and rest assured that they will cherish your thoughtful compilation.

Special days… For around $20, you can custom-design a calendar to include a dozen of your favorite photos and special dates that are meaningful to you and your families. Create a custom photo calendar so you are on your parents’ minds all year long!

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Managing a Mediocre Amount
When you’ve got a little bit of cash to spare but still need to keep an eye on the price tag, smart shopping comes in very handy. Consider your options and select a gift that suits your parents well.

A Crystal Clear Message… Envision a few lines of your own special text engraved next to a beautiful photo you select. This lovely keepsake is one they’ll treasure always.

Cheers to you… Select beautiful and classy stemware for your parents so they have a unique reminder of your wedding day that they can enjoy using again and again. If you wish, have their names engraved on the glasses, or simply, “Mom” and “Dad”.

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Price Is Not an Issue
If you could get anything in the world for your parents, what would it be? A cruise? A new car? To keep things down-to-earth and still much tied into the emotion of your special day, here are a few options that could really make a big “thank you” statement.

Bed and Breakfast… Rather than spoil your parents with many gifts or an exotic trip, present them with a thoughtful escape from the norm. A night’s stay or weekend away at a nice bed and breakfast can bring relaxation into their hectic lives.

Wine Club… As a romantic idea for a thank you gift to your parents, give them a membership to a wine club. The monthly bottles of wine will give them something to look forward to as well as a nifty conversation piece.

To come up with the most appropriate thank you gift for your parents, consider all the factors in terms of price, when you need the item in hand, and what your parents specifically like and enjoy. Base your gift on their personal interests or on special memories you share.

No matter what, remember to thank your parents personally for all they’ve done to raise you and to help you prepare for the biggest day of your life.

Wildflower Bouquets for Weddings

Wildflowers have taken the stage recently as wedding flowers of choice for many couples. A wildflower bouquet offers a simple yet unique and elegant feel while adding a relaxing and calming element to the wedding plans. Often, wildflowers can be a cheaper alternative to more traditional blooms. A step back from formal bouquets, a bunch of wildflowers brings vivid colors to the celebration, accenting the bride’s gown and the bridal party’s attire, not to mention centerpieces, altar flowers, and more. Just think of all the fun and creative arrangements you can create with wildflowers!

The more natural look of a wildflower bouquet gives the wedding a comfortable, somewhat low-key feel, while also providing vibrant colors and a unique mix of flowers. Popular types of wildflowers for bouquets, centerpieces, and arrangements may include poppies, cornflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, butterfly weed, tall ironweed, thimbleweed, Canada lily, Carolina spring beauty, New England Aster, everlasting pea, Indian blanket, tall bellflower, Turk’s cap lily, European Columbine and true forget-me-not, just to name a few.

Securing wildflowers for your wedding may not be as difficult as you would think. For a garden-style wildflower bouquet, grow a variety of wildflowers yourself, find a location where you can pick them together with someone special to you – mother, sister, even your groom, ask a friend or family member to take on the task of growing an assortment flowers, or lastly, speak with your florist to get additional ideas. A wildflower bouquet that you are able to create yourself – or a bouquet that a dear friend grows for you – will be a very special aspect of your big day. And, if it saves you some money as a cheaper alternative to roses and lilies, all the better!

Growing your own flowers would save a lot of money – many couples spend approximately $1,500 to $2,000 or more (some even spend as much as $7,000 and up!) on wedding flowers alone. The chances of getting exactly the styles and shades you desire are within your reach, but you should have some knowledge of growing flowers before you embark upon such an important part of your wedding planning. If you are set on growing your own wildflowers for your bouquet, you may wish to enlist the help or guidance of a trained professional in the field, merely for tips and a backup plan in case something doesn’t go quite as planned. Special precautions should be taken to prevent unexpected mishaps, so grow an abundance of flowers so you can pick only the best and most beautiful. Also, a back-up plan should be in store, so a local florist should be on call to jump into action if something should go wrong at the last minute.

Some very important considerations to keep in mind when choosing your wedding bouquet include the color scheme, style of the bouquet (loose-tied, cascade, etc.) and the shape and size of the bouquet. Once you determine those factors, selecting (and creating!) your bouquet will be much easier.

To aid you in your decision-making process, research all of your options prior to selecting your seeds and bulbs or visiting your florist or garden shop. View as many photos of other brides’ flowers as possible. Search the Internet and examine bridal magazines, books and catalogues to get a better idea of your likes and dislikes. If you have access to the flowers prior to your wedding date, attempt to arrange a sample bouquet and see firsthand whether you like the colors to blend together or to differ significantly. Take some time to mull over the possibilities and do not make a final decision on your wildflower bouquet until you know you are happy with it.

A wildflower bouquet would make an especially nice addition to a country wedding. Sprinkle wildflowers on the guests’ tables or press flowers and scatter them about to match the bouquet. Wildflower seeds are also popular in sachets to be given as gifts to the wedding guests, and a wreath of wildflowers adorning the bride’s hair is a fairly common sight as well.

No matter what you choose, make sure you set aside a few of your wildflowers to dry or to press between books. These will serve as special reminders of your wonderful wedding day and of the creativity you explored to create beautiful wildflower bouquets!

Financial Tips for Valentine’s Day Gifts

The special day for lovers comes with a price tag these days…. Whether you are seeking the perfect piece of jewelry, state-of-the-art video game system, iPod or another pricey Valentine’s Day present, your credit card might just do most of the work for you. To prevent your plastic from kicking into overdrive, use some discretion when shopping for your sweetheart’s Valentine, and realize that he or she loves you for you, not for the number or cost of the presents you purchase when February 14 rolls around.

The typical dinner and a movie Valentine date works as a great standby for an evening together, but if the two of you share this outing several times a month, it may get a bit stale. Surprise your sweetheart with a special date that costs even less so you can get him or her the perfect present you’ve had your eye on. Ice-skating and stargazing, though perhaps a bit chilly if living up north, present unique date ideas that cost very little, if anything. Romantic and inexpensive… these options conveniently leave necessary funds for the Valentine’s gift.

In order to get your Valentine the perfect gift regardless of the price, some savings plans may be necessary prior to the actual purchase. Here are some tips to ensure that you have enough funds available to wow your sweetheart with a special Valentine treat:

– Keep a good track record of responsible personal finance behavior. Pay bills on time with at least the minimum amount due, monitor your spending to avoid overlimit fees and try to keep your balance as low as possible, if not completely paid off. By keeping your remaining balance low, you open up additional dollar amounts before hitting your credit limit. No one wants to get slammed with a finance charge for spending over his or her limit!

– Save up money along the way and put the rest on plastic. So maybe you are planning to pop the big question on or around Valentine’s Day…. That could surely cost a pretty penny, but if you save up for months prior to the big date, your credit card bill won’t seem quite as painful when you remember you have a secret stash squirreled away somewhere for the special occasion. Do your best to pay for the whole thing in full. If you must put your purchase on plastic, pay off as much as you can and then consider doing a zero percent balance transfer to avoid racking up interest.

– Limit your spending to reserve funds for your Valentine purchase. Forego the chicken cheese steak for lunch, leave the second bottle of wine on the shelf and forget about that new TV you’ve been dreaming of… with a little self control in your spending habits, you will open up the gates to more affordable bill payments and less regret when putting bigger purchases on your cards.

– Preplan how much you are willing to spend. Once you have determined what you want to spend on your Valentine’s gift, do not go over that amount. Before jumping on the Internet or leaving your home, figure out a set amount that you will spend and stick to it, no matter what!

– Shop the sales. Notice how stores start setting up for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas? Also notice how many items are drastically reduced or put on clearance after the holidays? Store management officials are smart enough to know that most people just finished spending all their money on holiday shopping.

Why not pick out your Valentine’s gift while the sales are still going strong? If you wait for the week before or the week of Valentine’s Day, you will likely be forced to pay full price for the same item you could have bought at a 50% discount a month or two ago.

Also avoid impulse shopping, as it generally encourages buyers to just pick something and be done with it. Put some time and thought into the perfect present, select the total price you are willing to pay and stick to your guns. Bear in mind that Valentine’s Day embodies the passion and romance of a relationship and the intimate connection shared by two people in love; love itself is not defined by the numbers on a price tag.

 

10 Sweet and Romantic, Crafty Valentine’s Gifts

Each year, we wonder what to get our significant other for one of the most romantic days of the year. When chocolates or cologne just won’t do, we try to think outside the box for a much better Valentine’s Day gift. From clothes to movies to small electronics, nothing seems quite right. You may be a procrastinator, waiting till the day before, or even the day of, to make your final selection. Be careful, lest you end up with yet another box of chocolates and a greeting card!

If all that shopping for breathtaking Valentine’s Day presents is giving you a headache, relax and put your natural creativity and talents to use instead! Here are ten creative gifts you can make or do yourself:

1. If you are musically inclined, compose a song for your one-and-only. Personally, I melt when someone sings to me or plays an instrument for me… Who doesn’t love to be serenaded? Writing a song for someone you love is perhaps one of the most sensitive and intimate gifts you can give, and it will surely be cherished and appreciated.

To add a more tangible artistic element for your Valentine’s Day gift, create a special CD case with pictures of you and your sweetheart, and don’t forget to print the lyrics out in a little booklet. You may want to perform the song live, but giving a hard copy of your hard work only adds to the impact of your gift.

2. If music isn’t exactly your thing, consider writing a poem for your mate. The feeling and meaning that can be intricately woven throughout the lines of poetry is unmatched in emotion by many other signs of affection. If time allows, be especially creative and use a software imaging program like PhotoShop to dress up your poem with beautiful graphics.

Not the computer savvy type? Buy a picture frame and some matting to create your own work of art! Print out or nicely scribe your poem on a fancy piece of paper, then apply the matting, fit everything inside the frame, and you’ve got one beautiful and personalized Valentine’s Day gift!

3. If your talents lie more on the artistic side of things, design some artwork. A beautiful sketch or drawing that you yourself design would be a wonderful sign of your love. Frame it if you wish, or roll it up and fasten it with a nice ribbon like an ancient scroll.

4. To capture your memories in a more tangible format, consider making a scrapbook or memory book for your sweetheart. All those photos from way back, ticket stubs, dried flowers, and your own personal special touches can culminate into a very thoughtful and sentimental gift. Or, if you don’t have time for all the bells and whistles of a true, traditional scrapbook, look into digital scrapbooking. It’s one of the latest and greatest ways to capture your memories with ease!

5. If you enjoy cooking and baking or find yourself particularly good at either one, make use of your talent. Make your sweetie a mouth-watering dinner or a scrumptious dessert. Add candlelight, mood music, or your own special touches to romanticize it even more. For twice the fun, see if your honey is interested in cooking together. You can have a great time while being romantic together as you add and mix ingredients and enjoy taste testing the results. What a fun Valentine’s Day activity!

   

6. Create a calendar with photos of the two of you. It may be February already, but there are still ten and a half good months left in the year. You can create a photo calendar easily at a site like the Kodak Online Gallery or Snapfish. If money is an issue, you can always create the calendar on your own computer and print it out at home. This Valentine’s gift is one your sweetheart can enjoy all year long!

7. Make a music compilation filled with songs that make you think of your honey. Chances are, he or she will love it and most likely will play it when you are not around or when you are on their mind. Make a copy for yourself, too, just in case you find yourself missing your love and wishing you were together at that moment.

For the crafty approach, design a CD case and cover for your sweetie. Don’t forget to make a little booklet with a list of all the songs and artists you decided to feature. If you are feeling especially ambitious, add a little quote as to why you selected each of these songs.

8. Construct a coupon booklet of little freebies you are willing to give your partner—free back massages, dinner at a favorite hotspot, a home-cooked meal, a night where he or she is boss, full control of the remote, a fill-in-the-blank coupon…you get the idea! Be creative, but personalize it according to your relationship. Draw little images to dress up each coupon, or add stickers for a fun, special touch.

To save some cutting and gluing, you can also craft your coupon book on the computer using one of many different software applications. Print it out, staple it together and you are ready to present a sweet and thoughtful handmade gift that lasts beyond Valentine’s Day.

9. Using glass paints and a mug, glass, or vase of your choosing, craft a stained-glass work of art. If you are not totally confident with your painting and designing abilities, find an image you would like to use (or for words and phrases, type whatever you would like the glass to say on your word processor and print the document out) and tape it on the inside of the glass so you can easily trace over it with the paint.

Be sure to allow enough time for the item to dry and for the paint to set before giving your masterpiece to the recipient. For a sweet touch once the glass is dry, you can fill it with your mate’s favorite candy.

10. Crochet or knit a blanket, scarf or other specialty item for your honey. Handmade gifts mean a lot because much thought and time have been invested. If you’re crafting an afghan or blanket, you will want to plan ahead several months to ensure you complete it on time. Perhaps this is a project for another year!