One year later: Top 5 memorable moments and just one regret

A year ago this weekend, my daughter was married, and as she and her husband celebrate this milestone, I am reflecting on my TOP FIVE memories from that special day:

1. Getting ready together in our suites…pure fun. We had three suites for the bridesmaids (and a hairdresser), my two daughters (and a hairdresser) and me (yep, hairdresser too). Add a friend doing makeup for all and a light brunch spread that included plenty of mimosas, and you have one good time for the gals.

2. Seeing my father-in-law’s first look at my daughter as a bride; this might be my favorite photo of all.
MegPapabw (2)

3. Turning in my seat during strains of Pachelbel’s Canon to see my handsome husband and beautiful daughter framed in the chapel doorway. I remember my breath catching and my heartbeat in my throat.
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4. Watching my daughter’s face as her younger sister delivered a perfect toast with the most amazing combination of humor and heart. When she rehearsed it for me, I was delighted; when she stood in front of 150 people and spoke, I was filled with love for both of them, and for my new son-in-law.
toast

5. Finally relaxing with drinks at the after-party, dishing with my daughter’s friends, catching up with family, and watching my girls have the time of their lives.

The regret? Just one, which I’ve mentioned in previous posts– I wish we had the photographer take posed photos with aunts, uncles and cousins. Table photos would’ve been great too. We deferred to his “expertise” and shouldn’t have.

Happy Anniversary, Megan & Matt! Here’s to a lifetime of memories.

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More on seating arrangements: helpful infographic

Thanks to Elegance and Enchantment for sharing this great infographic on head table seating (from Simply Bridal):

Seating 101 Infographic
http://www.eleganceandenchantment.com/head-table-101/

Do you need to rehearse? Read on and see why it’s a must-do

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The wedding rehearsal is more than just a reason to gather for another party. Done well, it can pave the way for a smooth wedding ceremony. If you skip it or race through it thinking the rehearsal dinner is the main event, you run the risk of a disorganized jumble that will stress you out and confuse the guests.

If you don’t have a wedding planner or celebrant available to take you through the rehearsal, consider the following:

1. The bride and groom should talk through the ceremony from beginning to end WELL BEFORE the big day. There will likely be a few “drafts” of the plan, so be sure to discuss this often. Also, be sure to discuss this at length with whomever is performing your ceremony. Once the sequence of the ceremony is set (procession order, readings, music, vows), bring your families and bridal party into the discussion.

2. Make a list of any “props” you’ll need for the ceremony. Do you want flowers there? Will you use an aisle runner? Do you need candles for any part of your ceremony, or a glass to break? You may also want to give out programs and birdseed or bubbles for the guests. After you make of list of these items, decide who will be responsible for getting them there and packing them up afterward.

3. Plan to go through the ceremony at least once ON LOCATION. If you don’t have a wedding planner or celebrant available for the rehearsal, designate someone to be in charge of the run-through, using your pre-prepared schedule.

4. Understand that the procession includes the parents of the bride and groom. If the bride’s father is escorting her, who will seat Mom? How will you handle seating when parents are divorced and/or remarried? Troubleshoot potential “situations” ahead of time, and then rehearse it.

5. Will your groomsmen arrive early with the groom? If so, where will they go? What is their role? Typically, the best man hangs out with the groom behind the scenes, and the others show guests to their seats.

6. Are you planning a “first look” moment between bride and groom? I don’t really get this, but it’s become a popular photo op. To me, there’s nothing quite so special as seeing the look on a groom’s face when the bride comes down the aisle. Think about this though, and plan it out logistically.

7. Figure out where everyone in the bridal party will sit or stand, and will they sit or stand? Will the bride and groom sit or stand? Where will family members be seated? Make sure the groomsmen are aware of their responsibilities when it comes to seating the guests. Traditionally, the bride’s immediate family sits on the left (facing the altar or officiant) and the groom’s immediate family sits on the right. If seats will be “saved,” decide ahead of time how that will work.

8. After going through each part of the ceremony at least twice, remember to rehearse the exit. Also plan out if and where the bride and groom will receive guests immediately following the ceremony. Decide too whether the bridal party and parents will be a part of this receiving line. Guests like to have a quick moment with the bride and groom immediately following the ceremony.

9. Programs are a nice touch and easy to print up with today’s desktop technology. Your program might include the names of your entire bridal party (including parents), and those who contribute to the ceremony by doing readings, playing music or singing. A simple “order of the ceremony” may also be included (readings, vows, songs, etc.).

10. Finally, if you do have live music of any kind (pianist, vocalist or a quarter), request that they attend the rehearsal, even if they don’t play songs all the way through, they need to be aware of cues and special instructions. They may charge more for this, but it’s worth it.

Remember, just like most things in life, practice makes perfect.

Who needs a getaway after the wedding? Hint: It’s not the bride & groom

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At our daughter’s rehearsal dinner, we were completely blown away when Megan and Matt presented us with a beautifully spoken thank you and a travel voucher that was creatively presented with guides to places we had expressed interest in visiting. I honestly hadn’t even considered the possibility that we would be thanked so generously; truly, planning her wedding was a labor of love. Nonetheless, our subsequent trip was the perfect ending to a year of planning and spending!

Brides and grooms out there, if your parents are at all helpful to you during the wedding process, consider recognizing them with a thoughtful gift. Nikki Stroud shares 10 excellent ideas in the BRIDAL GUIDE story below.

Click for full story and photos and get inspired. In addition to a getaway, my favorite by far is a registry of their own. What MOB hasn’t lamented, “I want a shower!”

http://www.bridalguide.com/blogs/real-brides-speak-out/wedding-thank-you-gifts

Seating arrangements: 10 things to consider before you finalize tables

tables
For the better part of a year, I dreaded this process, but with some time, patience and a little excel know-how, it all fell into place. Here are a few to-do’s when it’s time to arrange seating at your reception:

1.Make sure you have received all response cards. Decide if you will call/email/text those who haven’t responded. Yes, there’s an alternative to this; you can consider them “no’s” and if they respond late, stick them in no-man’s-land! When selecting the “respond by” date, build in week or two before you need to get a final number to caterer.

2.Ask the venue manager/caterer what the table configurations will be for your size reception (for example, four tables of 10 plus six tables of 12). Also ask if they have a template and room diagram for planning.

3.Decide with your fiancé and parents if you will mingle guests or keep bride’s and groom’s families separate. Also, will you mix up your friends? Or keep groups together? In my experience, guests enjoy partying with people they know and haven’t seen in a while. Don’t assume guests want to make small talk with strangers at your wedding; we want to catch up with family and friends!

4.Decide if you want head table or sweetheart table (just the bride and groom). A sweetheart table allows you to set the wedding party with their dates/spouses, which will be much appreciated.

5.Look at the room set-up when you decide who’s going where. You want to maximize the fun factor, so consider putting your dancers near dance floor.

6.Try to avoid a “leftovers” table (trust me, they will know). If you have a few people who really don’t know anyone, seat them with your most outgoing friends and family. Consider what your guests have in common. The more time and thought you put into this process, the better time everyone will have.

7.Use a seating arrangements program or app if you’d like, but you really don’t need one. Once we know the configurations, we created table lists on an iPad and easily moved “people” around.

8.DO leave enough time for this! It requires time, patience, and consideration. It’s kind of like solving a Rubic’s cube!

9. Don’t feel that you need to accommodate guests’ requests to sit with certain people. Politely tell them that you’re doing your very best to ensure that everyone has a great time.

10. For all guest management to-do’s, excel spreadsheets are your friend! Set one up with all guests (and addresses) early on, and create fields for responses, gifts, thank-you’s, meal selections, etc. Our caterer required a spreadsheet with table numbers and meal selections.

Finalizing the seating arrangements is a great feeling indeed. Relax, it’s going to be a great time!

The wedding is the easy part: a story about marriage

FreysThanks to e-media– Facebook, pinterest, and an abundance of bridal blogs like this one– wedding planning has grown into one heck of an industry. Throw in reality TV and our celebrity-crazed culture, and weddings are entertainment as well.

Last night I was reminded, rather poignantly, of the point of it all — marriage. The coming together of two people who have committed to lasting love as they begin to build a family of their own; whether that family is comprised of a man and a woman and five children, or a couple with an adopted dog, the point is that a family will be built.

While on vacation with our own extended family, we sat together to watch a DVD from my husband’s parents’ 40th anniversary party, which was thrown by us nearly 30 years ago. My father-in-law, now 89 and grieving the recent loss of his wife, was transported back to a time when everyone he loved was gathered in one place to celebrate their union.

Like a wedding, this party was planned– from invitations to music, food and cake, no detail was overlooked. Yet as we watched the party 30 years later, our focus was only on the people; the happy expressions of family and friends as they danced, laughed, hugged, and partied long into the night. None of us could remember if the frosting was fondant or butter cream, what was served for dinner, or where we got our outfits.

My husband’s parents had an enduring marriage, and it lasted until one of them passed away. Sure it was mostly happy, but there was no shortage of challenges. Like any marriage. There are five children, who at various times on the path to adulthood hit a few roadblocks. There are now spouses for four of those children, and seven grandkids as well. Soon, there will be great-grandchildren, but I’m not sure my father-in-law will be here to meet them. I have a feeling he is longing for those in the video who have already gone.

This is marriage. Long after the gifts have tarnished and faded from everyday and sometimes rough use, the marriage will hopefully endure and a family will grow and thrive. The wedding is simply a celebration.

Remember, weddings are about your guests too!

giftbag

Credit to my daughter on this topic– she spent much of her engagement thinking about ways to make the wedding a most excellent experience for her wedding party and invited guests.

In a recent post at Wedding Party, blogger Stephanie Herbst notes that about 69 million Americans will be attending more than one wedding this summer.

“While your guests will obviously be thrilled to see you get hitched,” Herbst writes, “they’re also putting in a lot of time and money to celebrate with you.” She has great suggestions for thoughtful touches that your guests will most certainly appreciate.

Probst has great suggestions for showing your guests how much you appreciate them. Here a few of ours:

1. Make welcome bags for out-of-towners. We had lots of fun doing this. Include a note that thanks your guests for being a part of your big day. The contents can be very simple. Ideas include: A bottle of water, pack of gum, granola or chocolate bars, a map of the area, and a list of cab companies (if they prefer not to drive).

2. Give thoughtful consideration to seating arrangements. Place people thoughtfully to ensure they have a good time! Do you have a bunch of friends who love to dance? Place them near the dance floor. A quiet friend who will be attending alone? Put her at your friendliest friends’ table. And make a real effort to avoid a “dumping ground” table (they will know!).

3. Acknowledge your bridal party every chance you get. My daughter had little gifts for them at every occasion throughout the year, letting them know how much she appreciated their being in her wedding.

4. Give your guests a safe ride home. We wrestled with this “obligation,” but decided to take care of our guests with transportation between the hotel and reception venue. Once the rides are taken care of, a nice party becomes a GREAT party!

Remember, these are your family, neighbors and best friends– make sure they know you’re thinking of them too!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-herbst/10-thoughtful-ways-to-mak_b_3575724.html?ir=Weddings&utm_campaign=071213&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-weddings&utm_content=Title