Pre-Engagement Wedding Planning

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Photo from bridalguide.com

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!

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Setting the Wedding Date

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photo from getwed.com

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!

Happy planning!

Discounted Wedding Gowns: Could 2014 be the year of sensible thrift?

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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!

Engagement Season is Here! Early tips for all you brand new brides-to-be (and your mommas)

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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

Post-wedding blues can happen to moms too

blue image from rockmywedding.com

A year of high-octane planning, budget-busting shopping, parties, gatherings, good times and bad, and now it’s over. She’s off on a honeymoon, and you’re….. empty? Flat? Wondering what the heck this feeling is? It’s the post-wedding blues, and yes, they can hit moms as well as brides.

If you were heavily involved in the wedding planning, you may feel suddenly as if you have absolutely nothing to do– even if you get back into a life that was quite full before the engagement was announced. Imagine running full-out on a treadmill, not sure if you can keep up this pace, when suddenly the treadmill stops. Wait, what?

In addition to the significant shortening of the daily to-do list, there’s the complexity of the feelings moms have when their daughters marry; these feelings are as complicated and varied as the relationships themselves. Once she says “I do,” even if the couple has been together for a long time, the reality is that your baby’s attachment has shifted from you to him. And let’s face it, that is a weird feeling. I joked that it was a relief that the new groom would now be the sounding board for her rants, and the one who doesn’t sleep because SHE can’t sleep, but the truth is, I miss that shift in intimacy.

So, what to do when the blues hit? Here are a few suggestions:

Plan a post-wedding party when the pictures and video
Start a “wedding capsule” project or make a shadowbox for your daughter
Plan a spa day for you and your daughter
Plan a trip for yourself– you deserve it!

Above all, trust that you will gradually return to normal, and you will be happy that you once again have time for your friends, your garden, your yoga; whatever fills you in your free time.

30th anniversary musings: Thinking back to the good, the bad and the ugly of my 1983 wedding

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I was married 30 years ago today , so before we start celebrating this milestone, I thought I would blog about my own wedding– what was good about it (and probably still makes sense today), and what was bad– or even downright ugly about it.

What was GOOD, even great, about my 1983 wedding:

1. My dress was $600, and I loved it! Love still how it looks in pictures. Unfortunately it just hung around, uncleaned in a closet until one day I just put it out with junk. My daughters have not cried over this. My veil was simple, and I was thrilled to lend it to a friend a year later. I don’t even remember where I got our flowers, but they were just fine.

2. We had 90 people at our wedding, which we primarily funded ourselves. I have no memory of agonizing over guest lists, and invitation choices were white or cream. Hand calligraphy though. I received gifts from people who were not able to come, which seems to be a point of etiquette that has gone out of fashion (though it shouldn’t).

3. The after-party (which I believe involved a keg and cups) was awesome! That’s all I can tell you. I do remember that a bunch of friends who were not able to come to the wedding had a great time at the after-party.

4. I really loved my shoes. Women just plain love shoes. I do wish I’d kept those, but I have no idea what I did with them. I bought them at Saks in the city, and had my wallet pick-pocketed the same day.

5. Opening our gifts and envelopes on our wedding night was a blast! We culled all cash to bring with us to St. Croix. We sent out thank-you’s in a timely fashion.

What was bad– even ugly– about our wedding:

1. Well, it was HOT and HUMID, much like it is right now in the East. I only put this on the “bad” list because, even though it didn’t bother us, apparently it bothered everyone else because I hear about it every anniversary on facebook — “Happy anniversary! Wow, that was a hot one!” Our venue was not air conditioned and we figured on a breezy, humidity-free September day. Don’t count on the weather! It did, however, make our event super-memorable. For years we talked about one of my aunts bringing drinks out to my uncle, who would not leave his air-conditioned car.

2. Bridesmaids’ outfits were hideous. I’m so sorry. It was the style (think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Again, I’m very, very sorry. Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune, because 30 years later they will look at your pictures and think “hideous.”

3. The ice situation (see #1 above).

4. My wedding china. I did not give a hoot about china, so I let my mother bully me into choosing a pattern I have actually grown to loathe. Did I just admit that? Did I ever even NEED china? Is this an outdated concept? MOBs- don’t force your girls to register for china they don’t want.

All in all, it was a great memory that has given us all kinds of reminiscing pleasure these past 30 years. For all you brides and MOBs out there, RELAX; soon it will all be a wonderful memory. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

When the wedding is over…what will you do with your gown?

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You spent the better part of a year (at least!) searching for the perfect look for your big day, but when it’s over and you have picture-perfect photos of this once-in-a-lifetime memory, what will you do with your wedding dress? Most likely you will pay a small fortune to have it “preserved,” but for what exactly? I wonder how many brides really do wear their mom’s dresses?

I recently read about a great organization that arranges donated gowns for military couples as a way to say thank you for serving. I love this! If you’re interested, click the link below and read all about it!

http://www.bridesacrossamerica.com/

For additional charities that accept donated wedding dresses, check out the Huff Post Weddings link below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/donate-your-wedding-dress_n_1924169.html