Posts in the 'wedding advice' Category

BAB Throwback: Ask Liz – Jumpstarting Your Wedding & A Few Words About Bridal Shower Etiquette

 With BAB taking the holiday off, save for an EPIC Ten for the Weekend full of Black Friday deals and other goodies — GUYS: Pay attention, because you will find out where to get rad deals on twinkle lights, OK? — it seemed like a good time to take a trip back. This classic Liz post takes on etiquette in regards to bridal shower guest lists and gives the super basic rundown of how to even begin to tackle this whole wedding planning thing.

Beau-Coup Gold and Glitter Decor Kit

Dear Liz,

My brother is getting married in May and his bride-to-be has asked for my help with planning the wedding. We will have to travel about four hours to where it is taking place. There will more than likely be 50 (or less) guests in attendance, which is what they want. She doesn’t feel terrible about leaving a lot of people out on her special day especially since she knows a lot of them wouldn’t want to make the trip. I was just wondering is it acceptable to invite uninvited guests to a huge bridal shower in her honor??

Signed,

Shower Struggle

Dear Struggle,

Yeah … no. You really can’t invite people to the shower who haven’t been invited to the wedding. Showers = gifts and money. So basically you’re telling them that even though they weren’t important enough to watch her get married, they can still travel X amount of hours to give her a blender. Plus, you’ll be positioning your future sister-in-law – publicly — as “the woman that didn’t invite them to her wedding.” At some point, to someone, she will have to explain why, and probably have to do so over and over again.  Trust me, someone will mention it or ask for details. Awkward. Awkward, awkward.  If you are worried about a low turnout, invite the guys, too.

Dear Liz,

I just got engaged! Is there some type of simple check list, for starting to plan a wedding? Like…

1- Budget

2 – Guest list

3 – Dress??

I’m so overwhelmed by the whole process!

Signed,

In the Deep End

Dear Deep,

Welcome to Wedding World! First of all, bonus points for putting your dress third. That sort of practical thinking will get you far around here. Start with your guest list — his list, your list, and your parents’ lists. And, yeah, if your budget is a consideration, figure that out while you’re getting your guests together. You should reserve half of your budget for your ceremony and reception site, and your catering. A little perspective – a comparable wedding dinner at Olive Garden for 100 guests would be around $5,000. Those are also the first three things you need to pay for. Once you got that done, I give you permission to start shopping for your dress. You should probably book a photographer first, but there’s no reason to be a saint. Have fun!

Who did you invite to your bridal shower? How long did you resist shopping for your dress? Just engaged, and got questions? Let me know below! And, you can find out more about me and my slice of Wedding World at silvercharmevents.com.

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

 

See you at the end of the aisle,

Ask Liz: Tough RSVP Convos are Tough

In light of all the guest list talk around BAB this week, Liz’s post about RSVP conversations that should and really, let’s face it, NEED, to happen is very appropriate. Yes, this one deals with kids, much like Mellzah’s post, but it’s kind of a good jumping off point for all those other tough conversations — whether it be a kid, a fairly new significant other or that “Dude, he could be the ONE” after one night person that really, honestly, you don’t know and aren’t ready to have at your wedding. Because you guys, you can and will and sometimes have to just say no. Consider this your fill-in-the-blank advice for those conversations. – Christen

Ask Liz Tough RSVP Convos are Tough

Dear Liz, 

Our RSVP cards have begun to arrive in the mail! I found myself in a state of disbelief when I opened an envelope containing a card filled in with “Mr. X, Mrs. X, and 18-month-old Baby X will be attending.” Why disbelief? Because the invitation was addressed to Mr. X and Mrs. X only. We are not having any children at our wedding per my parents– who are 100% footing the bill. My fiance and I were in agreement until this happend. Now my fiance is upset that he has to tell his friend he cannot bring 18-month-old Baby X to our child-free wedding. I am, naturally, caught in the middle. Can you advise me on how to handle all parties in this situation (parents, fiance, X family…)? Thank you! 

Signed, 


No Extra Guests Please

Dear No,

It’s a tough conversation, but if accommodating his friend’s child isn’t possible, then you or your fiance are going to have to tell him that – that your contract with the venue does not allow children to attend, which is why you’re having a child-free wedding. You don’t have to go into why they put their child’s name on the RSVP in the first place  or that your parents are paying for it and it’s a budget issue.
You don’t have to apologize.  Just, it can’t happen, and you hope that he and his wife will be able to find childcare arrangements and attend on their own. That last part is important. Keep it casual, and keep it quick.
Seriously, though. You’re either going to have the tough conversation with your friends, or a tough conversation with your parents. Pick one.

 if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit  www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Ask Liz: Self-Catering Rules

Ask Liz: Self-Catering Rules

 

Photo: Andrea Chesley

Dear Liz,

How to do your own food (with a bit of help from willing friends/family) for your reception??? Food item suggestions and logistical tips especially!

Signed,

Self-Serving

Dear Self-Serving,

Funny thing is, I  talked to someone this morning who catered his own wedding, and he did not have fun with that.  Logistically, it’s a nightmare. You have to buy the food (for 100 people), then store the food before you can cook the food (for 100 people), wherever that’s going to be. Then you have to figure out when you’re going to cook the food (for 100 people) before or in between getting ready to get married, getting married, and whatever you have to do after you get married – take pictures, talk to your guests, and generally enjoy your wedding without worrying about the food. Plus, how you’re going to serve it, where you’re going to serve it, and who is going to serve/monitor it? A buffet will not relieve you of that responsibility. And, even if it’s for less than 100 people, you still have to figure out when and where you are going to do all these things. It’s not less work, it’s definitely not less stress, it’s just less food.

So, the first thing you need to do, way before deciding on a menu, is address each of the above points, every single one. When, where, how and who? And, remember that everything is going to take more time than you think. And everything takes longer if you have less people to manage it.

Menu? Keep it as simple as possible. No more than two entrees, no more than two side dishes, plus a salad. Stick with stuff you already know how to make, or that you and your family and friends can (and will) practice cooking before your wedding. Good but simple food. Not a lot of chopping, not a lot of ingredients, not a lot of steps.

Hey, you asked.

It’s doable, but obviously, I’m not recommending it! If you’re trying to save money, there are tons of restaurants – probably some of your favorites -that will cater less expensively. If you want to serve a particular dish, you can make that and add it to the buffet. But, if you are determined to do it yourself, don’t ignore everything you’re going to have to do in order to pull it off.

Does anyone reading have any experience catering their own wedding, or helping someone else do it? If you’ve got something to add, let me know in the comments below. And, if you would like to find out more about me and my part of Wedding World, visit  www.silvercharmevents.com.

 

See you at the end of the aisle ,

 

 

Liz

Budget Wedding Myths That Need to Die

Last week on Facebook, a friend of mine, who’s also a wedding planner, linked to a blog about a $6,000 wedding. It was on her personal page, and it definitely wasn’t one of her weddings – that’s well below her usual clients’ budgets.  She wasn’t posting it because of  the budget, at all, she was focusing on the potential griminess of the Doritos bar the couple created. Yes, these are the sort of conversations we vendors have while amongst ourselves. We also talk about shoes a lot, but that’s a discussion for another day. Anyway … Budget Wedding Myths that Need to Die It was a very cute hipster wedding in a loft in Brooklyn. The bride wore Converse and a $300 dress, of course. The groom wore a bow tie and tight pants. It really did look like a lot of fun, and I personally, would be all over that Doritos bar.

But  $6,000 for a 100-guest wedding?

Photographer? $2,400.

Their clothes and accessories? ~$1,500.

The loft? They found it on Airbnb, $1,100 for 3 days

Rentals? $860. Metal chairs, uncovered plastic tables, and a small stage. I’m not judging, this is what they had, per the pictures.

Servingware? ~$300 Dinner?

Not included in the breakdown, because they got a, and I quote, a “huge” discount from a caterer friend.

Dessert: Ditto.

Videography? Ditto.

DJ: Ditto.

Appetizers from Whole Food? Also not on the budget breakdown.

The bar? Not even mentioned.

Decorations: DIY, pom-poms, spray-painted bottles with flowers in them, put together by family and friends.

Material costs, even? Nope.

At this point, I was gritting my teeth. Basing the actual cost of this wedding on prices in L.A., which are significantly cheaper than New York? At least $10,000-$15,000 is missing from this budget. Which is just … GRRRR … NOT FAIR.

And not helpful. Because, come on, you guys. Why don’t you have friends who are caterers, bakers, videographers and DJs? Why can’t you rent a loft from  a company that, in my experience, is fairly adamant about not renting for large private events? Why can’t you spend two days setting up and a whole day breaking down for your ceremony and reception ? Don’t you have space to spray paint 50 mason jars and store the flowers to fill them? Why come you can’t figure out how to only spend $6,000 — or less — on your own wedding?

The Myth of the Budget Wedding is that if it’s this cheap and easy for them, it should be just as cheap and easy for you, too.  But, trust me, this wedding was not that cheap, and definitely not so easy. I give the bride credit for acknowledging how lucky they were to have those hook-ups, though, I really wish they’d been more upfront about what they spent and how much they saved. Actually.

Is it possible to have a fantastic wedding for $6,000? Of course it is. But you need to have realistic expectations about what’s possible, what stuff costs, and how much time and energy you have or are willing to put in. Is it worth it? It will be. So, what do you think? Do you find these myths as frustrating as I do? What are you doing to realistically stay on budget, yourself?  And, if you’d like to find out a little more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

Ask Heather: What Are Our Other Registry Options?

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 7.04.53 PM

Image courtesy of cb4me

Dear Heather,

I’m helping my daughter with her wedding details. She and her fiance are 31 and 40 years old and have been living together for several years, so they don’t need the normal registry items like a toaster, a blender, towels, etc. They are hoping to buy a home together and maybe some larger pieces of household furnishings. Is a money tree an option? If so, how do you set it up and does it need to be attended at the reception? What about cards, or a gift basket? How do you address this issue in an invitation? Are there other options? I look forward to your input. Thank you.

Jlee (older generation mother-of-the-bride that got toasters!)

Dear MOB Jlee,

I’ve somewhat addressed this issue in a few previous columns, but I think it’s worth it to tackle it again, since it seems to be an ongoing issue with BAB readers.

When it comes to registering for a wedding, there are many, many options. Speaking of not getting a toaster, BAB did a post a while back about PresentValue, which is a way to ask for monetary gifts rather than more traditional items. Other options include Hatch My House and Traveler’s Joy, a honeymoon registry. Even with these types of registries, though, I would still have a more typical registry, since there are some guests who simply prefer to give an actual gift rather than money. I have faith that your daughter and her fiancé can come up with some material items they could use. Personally, I’m of the opinion that one can never have too many towels, and spare bedsheets are always useful. They could also register for upgraded versions of items they already have.

In regards to letting folks know where you’ve registered, it’s typical to include this information with shower invitations, since the whole purpose of a shower is to “shower” the guest of honor with gifts. You can also have a wedding website and include registry information on it, with the URL for the website printed on the wedding invitations. And simply letting close friends and family members know where the couple has registered also works.

As far as having a money tree, I’m not a huge fan of setting one up at the wedding reception. It looks a bit too “gift grabby” in that setting. Instead, I would have a basket or box for cards, and a table for those folks who bring the gift to the wedding rather than sending it to the couple in advance. Doing a money tree at a bridal shower, though, would be far more appropriate.

Are you planning on doing a money tree? Did you use a cash registry website? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask Heather: How Do I Return an Off-Registry Gift?

Ask Heather How Do I Return an Off-Registry Gift

Dear Heather,

I have an etiquette question for you. Someone sent me a gift in the mail, and it was off registry. It is a kitchen item I already own. It didn’t have a receipt, so I don’t know how or where to return it. What do I do?

Ansley

Dear Ansley,

Hopefully there was a card with the gift, so you at least know who sent it. If so, and it’s a close friend or family member, I see nothing wrong with calling them and explaining that, due to them clearly having fabulous taste, you already own what they purchased for you, and that you’d like to exchange their present for something you don’t already have. If they’ve already given you something, clearly they want you to enjoy whatever you end up getting! In a perfect world, they might even still have the receipt, which would make your life much easier.

If that won’t work, but the item in question is fairly common, I’d go to a store with a liberal return or exchange policy and simply ask if you can exchange it for something else, explaining that it was a present without a gift receipt included. You can verify ahead of time, either online or in person, that the store sells the item you need to exchange.

If the gift is uncommon, or only sold at stores with a painful exchange policy, you can attempt to exchange it for something else, or save it for later re-gifting. Just make sure you don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you.

Have you received any off-registry gifts that you either already owned or did not want? Did you exchange them or just end up keeping them? Let us know in the comments below!

The High Cost of Wedding Fear

Former BAB advice columnist / current wedding planner extraordinaire Liz Coopersmith, of Silver Charm Events, stopped by to give you guys a boost this week! Guys, there’s no reason to feel fear about or shame toward your wedding. Really, honestly and truly. It should be a very happy time in your life, because hey! You’re in love! And you’re getting married! And yes, there’s a lot of bullsh that can surround a wedding day, but don’t let that get you down. Liz explains why:

steve and bridget

From Bridget & Steve’s Intimate, Beautiful Palm Springs Wedding. Credit: EPLove

I talk to a lot of brides every week, as you can imagine. I’ve watched a lot of you exhibit two very disturbing emotions when it comes to your weddings: Fear and Shame.

It’s in the way it takes me at least a couple of tries to find out how much your budget is.

Or, in the reverse, getting upset that you’re spending so much of your/your parents/whomever’s money on one day, when you could use it on a downpayment on a house, instead.

Or, the sideways look you and your fiance give each other when I ask how you met.

Or, when you tell me how much certain family members need to be kept away from each other, or, kept away from you. And then follow up, five minutes later, by saying it’s not that bad … but seriously, everyone has to be on opposite sides of the room.

Or, how you keep giving in to what your parents or your friends want you to do, instead of standing up for what you want. Are you being a doormat?

Or, not giving into what your parents/friends want you to do, and standing up for what you want. Are you turning into a Bridezilla??

You can’t win, because you won’t let yourself win. You’re ashamed of where you are, so you won’t allow yourself to be happy with what you have, whatever that is right now.

Researcher Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame is built out of the fear that you won’t be understood. And I’ve noticed that a big reason that people don’t feel worthy of acceptance and belonging is that they don’t really think that they can ever get what they want. Not really.

I understand – there is a lot of pressure to make your wedding the best and most perfect and most beautiful day of your life. And (GASP!) there are not supposed to be any limits – financial, personal, logistical – on the best day of your life! That’s what makes it such a great day, right? Poor people don’t have beautiful and perfect days, only people with unlimited budgets do. You can’t have a beautiful and perfect day if your families are always at each other’s throats, only people with close, well-behaved relatives can. Do you deserve to live happily ever after if you met online and not through a Random Act of Fate? What will happen if you tell the truth? You want to impress your family and friends, and most of all, you want to impress yourself. It is a lot of pressure, and completely unrealistic.

The cost of wedding fear is that it focuses on what you don’t have, and on hiding what’s not there. It’s a waste of time. Plus, it makes you feel like crap.

So, what’s the cure?

1. Be honest, with yourself and with anyone else you’re dealing with, wedding-wise. Just … be honest. The more you try to hide what you’re afraid of, the more control you give it. And, eventually, it’s going to have to come out. Are you worried about being judged and rejected by potential vendors … who don’t know you? It’s business, not personal. If they can’t work with you, for whatever reason, then you can’t work with them. If they are going to be mean or snooty about it, then you really don’t want to work with them, right? Which brings me to …

2. Don’t go in looking for a fight; don’t walk into the room expecting resistance. What you look for, you will find. I’ve met with many brides who will, in one sentence, tell me they have a limited amount of money, and then tell me that’s not enough for them to have the wedding they want, and then ask me, “You can’t work with that, can you?” This is before I’ve even opened my mouth to reply. I get it – you’re rejecting yourself before I get a chance to do it, but don’t assume. Same thing with your family and friends. Tell them what you need and what you want, and then see what happens. Don’t be defensive, just have a conversation.

3. Remember that you are not alone. Not even close to being alone. If you’re facing a wedding planning problem, there are tons of other couples facing the same thing. Find them online and and seek empathy and sympathy. And solutions, too.

4. Some things will not change, but they can be worked around. If your parents couldn’t be in the same room with each other before you started planning your wedding, odds are then they won’t be able to on your wedding day. You’ve been managing your family for years, and you know how to deal with them — or not deal with them — so they don’t drive you insane. Keep doing that. The historic house you love is not going to drop their rental rate by a couple thousand dollars on a Saturday night. You are probably not going to win the lottery before then, either. Accept it. You might not have Ivanka Trump’s budget, but you’re not so broke that you can’t have a beautiful wedding day, and the love surrounding you will be free (Aww!). It is what it is. If you can’t afford Saturday night, what about Friday or Sunday? Less guests? What about a cocktail or dessert reception? Figure out what you feel comfortable with and go from there.

5. Use what you have to get what you want and need. You think you don’t have anything, or not nearly enough? You’re so wrong. If you have access to the Internet, you can find a local bridal show and see what’s possible. If you’ve picked your venue, you can ask for photographer and florist recommendations. Don’t know how to do something? Google it. If anything, you have too many choices. Keep looking until you find the best option for you.

6. Be grateful for what you do have. A fiance who loves you, and who you want to spend the rest of your life with, no matter how you met them, or what type of reputation either of you had during the Bush administration. Friends and family that are happy and eager to help, even if they won’t back off (they mean well, I swear). One day to celebrate that with all your favorite people in the world. Pollyannish? Sure. True? Totally.

7. Don’t twist yourself into knots. Many a bride has overextended her budget, her patience, and her good will trying to overcompensate for a perceived lack of … whatever. Pull the brakes anytime you hear yourself saying, “I don’t want them to think … ” or “I know it’s still not going to work, but … ” Full stop. Turn around. Find an option that doesn’t make you hyperventilate. Ask for help if you need it. Take help when it’s offered.

8. Finally, give yourself some credit. You’re sitting there thinking, “HowamIgoingtodothishowamIgoingtodo thisHOWAMIGOINGTODOTHIS?”Look around! You are doing it, the way everyone does it: One step at a time.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith

Liz

Ask Heather: Where Can I Find Bridesmaid Dresses?

Ask Heather: Where Can I Find Bridesmaid Dresses?

Image courtesy of Photo Pink

Dear Heather,

I have no idea where to start for my bridesmaids’ dress shopping. Help!

Apanda

Dear Apanda,

I have a confession to make: I hate shopping for clothing. Therefore, I am probably not the best person to be answering this. Hopefully, though, some of our readers will chime in and leave some comments!

I’m not sure if you’re struggling with something like choosing a color or style, or where to actually purchase a dress. If you’re having trouble with the former issues, I’d suggest starting with your bridesmaids’ skin tones and figuring out what will or will not be flattering. For instance, in general, it takes a special someone to pull off yellow. So, if your wedding colors are yellow and grey, I’d go for grey for the dresses. If you’re deliberating over what style, check out some actual weddings and see if you are drawn to any looks. For more casual affairs, I’d avoid full-length gowns. And if any of your bridesmaids have concerns about certain styles (some folks really don’t like strapless dresses), take that into consideration.

When it comes to shopping for dresses, there are several options. The first option, and the one I chose, is to simply say something to the effect of, “Buy a [color] dress that’s [this material] and [this length].” You can even leave out some of those descriptors. If you’re a bit more particular, feel free to send fabric swatches, or ask that your bridesmaids send you a picture of them in the dress before purchasing it (or make sure the return policy is reasonable). To see what this could potentially end up looking like, just check out the picture at the top of the post. Those are my bridesmaids (and bridesman, who was told “Get a grey suit. We’ll provide your tie.”) The only instructions they received were to purchase a knee-length cool-toned (blue rather than red undertones) purple dress. Bam.

The second option is to simply choose a store and go for it! This can be a David’s Bridal, Alfred Angelo, Macy’s, Ann Taylor, Gap, Old Navy, or anywhere you shop on a regular basis. If you already shop there, odds are you like what they offer. There’s no reason why a bridesmaid dress has to be purchased at an official bridesmaid dress retailer (whatever that means). If not all of your bridesmaids are local to you, obviously make sure there’s a store available near them, or that the store you choose has an online presence and a good return policy.

Which leads me into my last option – online. There are some retailers who offer bridesmaid dresses online but not in stores. Target is one such store. J. Crew is another. I’m positive there are more out there, but those are the ones that spring immediately to mind. If you have a favorite store, it’s probably worth looking into whether they fit this bill. I’m also a fan of Dessy and ModCloth for dress needs. You could also simply search for “[color] [length] bridesmaid dress” and see what pops up. (Also, check out BAB’s Resources page and look through the banners on our sidebar for more places to find great bridesmaids dresses. – Eds.)

Readers, how about you? What did your bridesmaid selection process look like? Where did you end up getting your dresses? Let us know in the comments below!

BAB Throwback: Summer’s Over! So, What Did We Learn?

Happy Friday, BABs! I hope you’re all nicely recovered after a long weekend, and a short workweek that felt like eternity (or was that just me?). Our darling erstwhile advice guru, Liz Coopersmith of Silver Charm Events, wrote this bad boy back in early September of 2011, but as I was scrolling through the archives I found it to be as relevant as ever. One sure can learn a lot by putting some serious time into other people’s weddings. Sure, some trends have come and gone in the time since, but the solid advice still holds true.

BAB Throwback Summers Over What Did We Learn

From May 25th to September 5th, I coordinated 8 weddings. Here are pictures from half of them, but that’s five full-service, three day-of. Basically two a month. I had the chance to learn a lot and confirmed even more that I already knew. Here’s a few new tidbits of wisdom, in no particular order:

Give up THIS for a year? Hah! That’s funny!

If you find yourself looking at some glorious wedding thing and thinking, “Well, if I gave up Starbucks/the gym/cable for year, I can afford this,” DUDE. Run. Away.

And again I say to thee: Give yourself plenty of time on your wedding day. My most relaxed brides this season were the ones that listened to me and scheduled their prep and pictures so that they had an hour or more to chill before heading down the aisle.  Nothing I like more than a relaxed and laughing bride, and there’s nothing you’re going to like more than being one.

Don’t they look so pretty, waiting for you at the venue where they belong?

You will not need your flowers until you start taking group pictures. Rather than have your florist make a separate trip to your hotel room and then go to the ceremony site to set-up, wait to get your flowers until you get to the ceremony, too. Yes, I have had brides and bridesmaids who’ve left bouquets at the hotel. Guess who had to go get them?

You can’t really see it, but I swear these  are in alphabetical order. (Courtesy of Hazelnut Photography)

Once you finish your place cards, alphabetize them before handing them over. Once you finish your place cards, alphabetize them before handing them over. ONCE YOU FINISH YOUR PLACE CARDS, ALPHABETIZE THEM BEFORE HANDING THEM OVER. Thanks!

If you know that you’re going to have a difficult time with your family, bring back-up. Someone who will confirm what you said, what you want, and who you would feel embarrassed if you all of a sudden went off on your parents in front of. You don’t want to know how many times this summer I stood behind one of my brides nodding, “Oh, no, she’s got it. It’s going to be fine.” It helps.  And remember, if all else fails, find an excuse to walk away before you explode.

Don’t be surprised  if everyone doesn’t make it to the rehearsal. This does not seem to be as big a problem on the East Coast or in the middle of the country.  Of course, no one else has the 405 and 101 and 10 and 5 freeways that we do, and the endless time-sucking fun that occur on them. Might have something to do with it. Odds are everyone will make it to dinner, though.

For the breaking glass ceremony, use a light bulb. If you don’t want a light bulb, believe it or not, amazon.com has the glasses, in any color you want. Remember Charlotte and Harry’s wedding on “Sex and the City”? Sometimes he just can’t break it on the first try. Or the second. And it’s funny, but it’s funnier when it’s not happening to you.

A great trend I’ve seen at a couple of weddings this year — invite all your guests to join you halfway through your first dance song. People love that, and it makes me bounce up and down with glee every time I see it. Nothing rules like a full dance floor, you know?

I have yet to coordinate a wedding where the amount of money the couple put towards the bar did not run out. But it’s usually around the time that you would do last call, anyway, so it all works out. Thumbs up!

So, what did you lean from planning your wedding this summer? Share in the comments below!