The Welcome Bag
So you’re planning the details of your wedding, and you’ll have more than a few out of town guests. After you’ve scoped out some accommodations proximal to the festivities– and a couple of price points are thoughtful to offer– you should contact the properties to block off some rooms. Be sure to ask for a discount! Now, have you thought about a welcome gift for your out of town guests? If you haven’t, you should!
The welcome bag is a nice way to say “thank you” to friends and family who are traveling to be with you on your special day. It’s also a good way to provide useful little snacks and sundries, and information about the venue and surroundings. Most couples I’ve talked with really enjoyed putting this together for their guests.
A Philadelphia Welcome
We were recently guests at a wedding in Philadelphia, and were delighted by the thoughtful welcome bag and note from the bride and groom. The bag was designed to welcome us to Philadelphia, the bride and groom’s home, and they wanted their gift to reflect their passion for the city. A specially-made bag with a custom line drawing of the city’s skyline included note cards by the same artist, and an assortment of “Philly-made” treats. Other thoughtful items included morning-after Bloody Mary fixings and some Advil to aid in our recovery from what was promising to be an awesome party!
Why a welcome bag?
Quite simply, to show your guests how much you value them, and appreciate their being a part of your special day. As an out of towner on that memorable weekend, I felt the Brotherly Love from our hosts, and a heightened anticipation of a good, good night. It did not disappoint!
Trends that should maybe stop being trends, or at least need to be more thought-out than many realize – Part one in a (possible) series:
Trend #1 The “let’s all spend a fortune to rent a house for the weekend” bachelorette party trend.
I get the whole bachelorette party thing, I really do; why should a let-loose night of fun with friends be the domain of the boys? I’m not sure, however, when this whole thing morphed into a multi-day extravaganza that’s a potentially huge expense for the bridal party.
If you are in a wedding, and you won’t listen to your mother, maybe you’ll consider these considerations from me:
1. Are you SURE you want to spend an entire weekend together? Would one afternoon, an overnight and a great brunch maybe serve the purpose? If everyone’s all hung over after the first night, you really might spend the next 24 hours waiting for it to be over. Takeaway message: think it through.
2. Who exactly is doing the planning? One person? A bunch of you? Is the bride involved, or is it largely a surprise for her? Make sure there’s a point person who knows the bride’s wishes, and is a GOOD COMMUNICATOR in addition to being organized. You can’t pull this off in an ongoing group text (or cluster-you-know-what).
3. If you decide to forge ahead with your well organized point person who is a good communicator, get FIRM COMMITMENTS from everyone you hope will come. Firm commitment means GET MONEY from them. It’s really easy to say “I’m in” over a group text, and it’s equally easy to bail when you haven’t put money down (“I just realized I have to go to my cousin’s shower that day”).
4. Be creative and tap all your resources. You can’t know what resources people have to offer if you don’t TALK with each other! Does someone have a relative with a rental property or time share? Would your aunt at the beach consider moving out and giving you the house for the weekend? Would it be just as fun to stay in the bride’s cousin’s New York apartment but spend on a limo for the weekend?
5. Remember “in season” is WAY more expensive than off season for rentals. A house in The Hamptons will be untouchable in July, but in April you have a pretty good shot at affordability.
6. If you go for the weekend in __________ (fill in the blank Nashville/Vegas/AC/New Orleans), keep an eye on your bride, please. I spent the better part of a night in Nashville worrying about a trashed bride-to-be whose friends were nowhere in sight. Have a plan, people! There are predators out there just waiting for groups of gals like you.
7. Once you have the date and the place, plan out every detail. Who will make the itinerary? Lock down all reservations, know what things will cost, and decide who is paying for what. Planning a bachelorette weekend requires serious event planning, or there may be misunderstandings, disappointments, and unforeseen expenses.
Good luck and have fun, but remember, for the bridesmaids this is just one of many expenses required when one agrees to be in a wedding party. If the dress is a fortune, the wedding requires a hotel, and you are expected to pitch in on the shower, there is no rule that says the bachelorette party has to be scaled to reality TV proportions.
Here are a couple of additional resources:
Gathered from such eminent sources as the knot, Bridal Guide and Vogue Weddings, here are a few contradictory pairings for 2014 wedding trends:
1. Lots of couples seem to be reigning it in, with “intimate is chic” weddings of 50-120 guests,
Wedding budgets are on the rise, with a trend toward “all nighter” weddings with features like trampoline photo booths.
2. Woodland weddings and highly personalized weddings are big (“pin-spiration”),
Hollywood inspired glam weddings (think Gatsby, formal portraiture, and hothouse flowers) are big right now, as are 90s themed weddings.
3. There is a 20% decrease in destination weddings,
Destination wedding booking at Mexico’s Riviera Maya are at an all-time high.
4. Brights are making a color comeback,
Blush and pale pinks rule when choosing color schemes in 2014.
And my favorite contradiction is one that those planning weddings should consider very carefully:
5. Unplugged weddings are becoming “a thing,” (phone check at the door, polite reminders on websites, programs, etc.),
“Supercharged” weddings seems to be a popular and current choice (custom hashtags, charging stations, insta-everything!).
What does all this mean? To me, it says that regardless of the trends and the exploding wedding industry, there are as many kinds of weddings as there are couples planning them.
Establish a budget and start planning the wedding that’s right for you! A happy couple is a happy party.
Here’s a question I fielded recently:
“I’m not engaged yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be soon. Is it weird to start having conversations with my boyfriend and with my mother about the kind of wedding I’d like to have?”
No, not at all. In fact, the more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.
Most couples start talking about their future life together long before “the proposal,” and that’s a good thing. Once you start having those conversations, you will likely start to share your wedding thoughts with each other, and maybe even with your mom. This is good! The more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.
It’s especially helpful to open the line of communication about money so you can dream within a budget. Some questions to ask your parents: Have you thought about what kind of wedding I’ll be able to have? Will you host a wedding for me or should I plan to help financially? I’d like to start planning; is there a budget I should have in mind?
If you’re reading this as a future mother-of-the-bride, you know it’s just a matter of time until your daughter is engaged; otherwise, why would you be on this site? If you’ve been observant, you can tell it’s coming, so now is the time to have a conversation with your husband, or your daughter’s father.
Some things to discuss: Are we prepared to pay for a wedding? How much can we afford? Will we share this expense with our daughter and her fiancé? Be prepared when the happy day is announced so your daughter’s announcement isn’t received with a look of blind panic.
What I’m getting at is that if engagement seems inevitable, now is the time to start thinking about the financial aspects of a wedding.
The best advice at this stage is to communicate openly, honestly and realistically about money. When parameters are set and expectations are clear, everyone’s happy!
How do you begin to pick a wedding date? You (or your daughter) probably have some idea of the time of year you would like to be married, but the time of engagement may dictate whether or not that will happen. For instance, dreams of a June wedding may not be realistic with a January engagement—not enough time for THIS June, and too much time til next.
When looking at the suddenly daunting task of setting the date, the bride and groom should sit down together and ask themselves these preliminary questions:
1. What kind of wedding do we want? Religious or nonreligious? Large or intimate? Sooner or later?
2. How deep is our faith? Is a religious ceremony important to either of us?
3. Where will we do this? The bride’s home town? Where we live now? Our college chapel?
4. Who will pay? Are we OK with parental control, or do we want this to be all ours?
As you can see, this will lead to some bigger conversations—make sure you have them! Regardless of how well you know each other and how deep your love and commitment, prepare to compromise.
Following this conversation, several possibilities will unfold.
You will either
*start with your place of worship and go from there, or
*decide on a religious ceremony but not in a specific place of worship. In this case, your phone call should be to a priest, rabbi or minister and see what the “rules” are. Or you may choose to
*decide on a nonreligious ceremony, in which case you can start with reception venues and let them know you will also have the ceremony there.
This is often the point where girlhood dreams get a dose of reality. This isn’t necessarily a negative.
My daughter dreamed of a beach wedding at a relative’s remote beachfront home. But she also wanted a fairly big wedding with all her college friends, which didn’t mesh with the beach dream. She moved on, and because she met her fiancé in college and shared so many friends, they were married in their college chapel. Lovely!
Last month, an episode of Shark Tank featured entrepreneur Jackie Courtney, asking for a stake in her used wedding gown business (www.nearlynewlywed.com). The male sharks, not surprisingly, didn’t really believe in the market. I do. Now I’m wondering, are today’s brides open to purchasing a barely used designer gown, curated of course, for oftentimes half the price as new?
I have to believe that there are thrift-minded brides out there who approach the wedding planning project with a sense of challenge—how much can I save, so we can (a) have a better honeymoon (b) put a down payment on a house or (c) just because so much wedding spending is flat-out wasteful.
Newly engaged ladies, consider this. By the time your first issue of Brides arrives in the mail, it will begin to seep into your consciousness just how much the dream dress costs.
Here are some tips before you commit to a budget-wrecker of a dress:
• You will wear it ONCE, and then spend another small fortune “preserving” it. As my friend Jess said, “there’s not even a window in my dress box. How funny if it winds up not even being mine?”
• The odds of your daughter wearing your dress are slim to none. Styles change and bodies are different. Rarely happens. I know of just a few brides who have done this, and only one with success.
• However beautiful your dream dress may be, be patient….. there are others out there, just as gorgeous, for less money!
• At least look into a company like http://www.nearlynewlywed.com. Imagine that $7,000 dress for less than $3,000. Who the heck would know?
• Consider selling it back. The pictures will capture to perfection the vision of you in your dream dress.
• If you want to really embrace the Thrifty Bride idea, tell your family, bridesmaids and friends about http://www.renttherunway.com. Gorgeous designer frocks for rent. The best looking dress at my daughter’s wedding (other than my own daughters, that is) was worn by Cousin Val— a rented, and highly chic, black lace dress that drew the notice of every discerning eye at the wedding.
Have fun planning, but keep yourself from falling off the crazy-spending ledge!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…especially if you’ve just gotten engaged! Welcome to one of the happiest, busiest and most exciting times of your life. Before you jump onto the crazy-fast treadmill known as the wedding industry, focus on just three things for now:
1. Being in love, committed and engaged to your perfect mate
2. Sharing the news (without feeling the pressure to discuss dates and details just yet)
3. Bookmarking bridemomma.com
And here’s just one don’t for today: Don’t pick your bridesmaids too early!
photo from celebrationideas.com
Make no mistake about it, weddings are BIG business. Pinterest and The Knot have shown us just how “magical” your big day can be, but all those details can really add up. Every bride (and bridemomma) that I’ve talked with has had ideas to share about which wedding elements were totally worth it, and which were something of a waste.
SO worth it:
1. Music! Everyone seems to agree that it’s worth it to get the best music you can afford. If you can’t afford the best dance band around, then hire the best DJ. Many of the wedding details will wind up being forgettable, but everyone will remember the great time they had on the dance floor.
2. A “day of” wedding coordinator or planner. Everyone I know who hired help for the day itself puts this in the “totally worth it” category. And those of us who didn’t, regret it! No matter how organized you are, MOB, you can’t and shouldn’t be in charge on the wedding day– enjoy it instead.
3. A great photographer is worth the money, but ONLY if he or she is open to your being a vocal partner when it comes to the shot list. Memories fade, but the pictures last forever.
A bit of a waste:
1. Save-the-dates — send it digitally or skip it all together! Those closest to you will know the date just as soon as it’s set, and the others, well, let’s just say you don’t want EVERYONE to save the date. You really don’t need to spend on this.
2. Ice sculptures and fancy cakes — yes, they can be stunning, but for what they cost, no one will miss them if they are not there. Put the money into music!
3. Favors — Those cute little theme-driven favors can cost you a bundle, and many will just be left behind. Why not make a donation to a favorite charity instead? Everyone wins– the charity and your pocketbook, because even with a generous donation, you will likely spend less.