Questionable trends: The over-the-top bachelorette weekend

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:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/23348-11-things-you-should-never-do-at-a-bachelorette-party

http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/bachelorette-party-ideas/articles/bachelorette-parties-planning-checklist.aspx?MsdVisit=1

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

justengagedornament

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

As hosts of a wedding, are you responsible for transporting guests?

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photo from vailrides.com
If your wedding will involve a good number of your guests staying at a hotel, and the reception is at a different venue, consider arranging shuttle vans or a bus for your out-of-town guests.

We went back and forth on this, initially thinking that shuttling family would be the extent of our obligation. In the end, we decided to provide shuttle service for anyone who wanted it.

Whatever you decide, make this decision early on, and most importantly, communicate transportation logistics to your guests via wedding website, or in their “welcome” packets at the hotel.

If you’ve made the decision to offer transportation, here are some suggestions that I wish someone had shared with us:

1.Get a good estimate of the number of people you will need to shuttle, and check out the directions and mileage (including a realistic time it will take to cover that distance!). You’ll want to give accurate numbers to the companies you contact.

2.Shop around! Like so many wedding expenses, these estimates tend to vary widely. Be sure to ask about minimum and maximum time and mileage requirements. Ask if multiple vans or one large bus makes the most sense financially and logistically.

3.Remember to ask the hotel if they would be willing to provide shuttle service for your wedding. Most have vans for airport runs, so be sure to ask. If a hefty number of guests are populating their hotel for the weekend, they may work with you on discounted transport costs.

4.When you book the transportation, get everything in writing, including the schedule (departure times, pick-up times, staggered times if you are moving a large group of people, etc.). Put the plan in writing, and give someone – not you, MOB, that schedule along with driver contact information.

5.Type up all transportation information and put it on the wedding website and in welcome bags for hotel guests. If you are not doing welcome bags, print plenty of the itineraries and ask the hotel to give them to your guests as they check in.

6.If you decide NOT to take on the expense of shuttling your guests, arrange to have taxis waiting at the reception to transport any guests who does not want to drive home after your party. In this case, communicate to guests ahead of time that their will be taxi service, and give them some phone numbers as well.

This is a bit of a project, and not a small expense, but if a great party is your goal, you want to take care of your guests and keep them safe! One more thought: Sometimes when the groom’s family offers to “pay for something,” why not suggest transportation?

Wedding Day Emergency Kit

The wedding day emergency kit— there are more than a few lists for brides out there (Philadelphia Wedding had the best one I found), but this one is more specific to you, the Mother of the Bride.

While the bride may have her own idea of what an “emergency kit” looks like (usually just more makeup!), it’s your job as her mother to “have her back.” And not only will you be the go-to source for your own daughter, you will be the one that every young woman at the wedding runs to when there’s an emergency!

So, here’s my list of must haves for every MOB’s Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

Tampons (not necessarily for you, but believe me, at least two frantic girls will ask you for these)
Spot remover (Tide stick)
Emery board (the girls call them “nail filers”)
Safety pins and/or mini sewing kit
Two-sided (tailor’s) tape or toupee tape
Extra reading glasses
Mints
Your own mini-makeup bag for touch-ups
Static guard (cool weather weddings)
Imodium (the big day has triggered many an IBS episode)
Tums or Pepcid AC

Stash these items, and anything else that you or your girl may need, in a small tote in the bridal suite. Whatever your venue, your coordinator or catering manager will find a place for you to keep necessities.

Prepare for everything, and hopefully you’ll need nothing!

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

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.

Seating arrangements: 10 things to consider before you finalize tables

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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!

Remember, weddings are about your guests too!

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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