Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ellen + Bill

As you can see from yesterday's post, we had a very busy (and wet!) weekend.
Ellen and Bill were married at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Hunt Valley. They had a beautiful ceremony led by Ellen's cousin Bishop Gerald Weisner. The music for the ceremony was given special attention. Tim Anderson from Concord Ensemble led the strings while Bridgid Eversole sang soprano with the church choir.
After the ceremony guests traveled down to the Marriott Waterfront in downtown Baltimore. They mingled in cocktails while listening to a string quartet from Crystal Strings.
As guests made their way into the ballroom they were greeted with the sounds of the string quartet now joined by a jazz soloist. The music was just beautiful and set the tone for the dinner. Guests found their seats at the long dining tables from their personalized menu cards. The custom made linens from Table Toppers were just stunning. The fabric was just on a bolt when we saw it the first time and the results were outstanding. Full of glimmers and gold. They were accented by gold chivari chairs from Party Rental, who also supplied the extra wide tables and gold ball charger plates.
We used the extra wide tables to accommodate the lush floral arrangements from Rennie at Simply Beautiful Flowers. They were exactly what Ellen had envisioned: lush and romantic.
The cake from Charm City Cakes fit beautifully into the color scheme with golds and taupes and a design taken from the wedding invitations. Guests were also treated to trio plate of creme brulee.
Dinner service at the long tables presented the Marriott staff with a new challenge. They rose to the occasion and completed service wonderfully. They practiced during set-up and service was efficient and attentive. Many thanks to Susan Fortkiewicz, our Marriott Event Manager, who was with us through the planning and the wedding day. She was a huge help and so accommodating to our requests and needs.
As dessert was being served the guests got their first glimpse of The Mahoney Brothers - our Beatles tribute band for the evening. They ran on stage in their Beatles wigs and makeup and got the party started.
We promise more beautiful pictures from Philip of Arthur Remanjon Photographers when we have them! We might even have a special guest to tell you about!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nell + Rusty

It rained on Friday. It rained on Saturday. It rained on Sunday. We're not talking sprinkles of rain, we're talking downpour. What a lovely weekend for a wedding, right?

As it turned out, it was a delightful wedding as over 320 guests braved the monsoon to attend a beautiful tent wedding in a field in the horse country of Baltimore County.

Usually when we blog about a wedding, it's all about the bride (of course) and the lovely decor that frames the wedding. But today, it's all about the vendors at this event who went above and beyond the call of duty in making sure that the guests were comfortable and dry even though the "behind the scene" workers were soaking wet and caked in mud.


This wedding planner only has some wet hair and ruined shoes as the lasting signs of the event. It's the other vendors who are the heroes of this story.

As we arrived for the event set-up, we witnessed a swarm of Loane Brothers employees hustling in the pouring rain to add amenities to the three large tents they had installed earlier in the week. There were men on ladders installing gutters between the tents, there were others laying port-a-path and astroturf in the heavily trafficked grassy areas. There was another generator to install, side walls to put up, a bridal tent to make comfortable and poles to be removed (more about that later). They moved like a well oiled machine going from one task to the next never complaining about the mud and the soaking rains, never. Oh and did we mention the man on the top of the huge dinner tent? He was walking on the roof just making sure that no huge rain pockets of water were laying in wait on the roof of the tent. We watched from the inside as his footprints move across the top of the tent. Amazing and brave. See what we mean by saying "above and beyond"?


Believe us when we say, if you are having a tent wedding and you want the very best, most caring and hard working people ever on your side when the "worst case weather scenario" happens, you must hire Loane Brothers as your tent company. For many years they have been the tent company we have always turned to when doing an outdoor wedding, but yesterday's exhibit of a extraordinary company effort just reconfirms how we feel about them. The tent staff was there from early in the morning until well after the reception ended.

Our second award for bravery and effort goes to the fine men at Courtesy Parking. See, we had a plan in place: mini motor coaches to bring guests from the hotels and valet parking for those who were driving themselves to the wedding, all delivered directly to the tent entrance. Well although it was a fine plan, it wasn't long before it was clear (even through all those raindrops) that unless you had a four wheel drive vehicle, you were not driving into the field. Courtesy Parking to the rescue with the brilliant plan to gather many family owned SUVs and use them as shuttle vehicles from the end of the asphalt and down the muddy field to the entrance of the tent. The valet parkers were quick and efficient as they drove the SUVs back and forth delivering guests in time for the ceremony. One again: never a complaint that they were soaked and walking in pants covered in mud. Nope, just friendly, smiling faces driving in mud covered SUVs.

Pause: We realize that "mud" has been mentioned 100 times already. Just drawing a picture...

Next award goes to the brave woman at Sugar Bakers who came across the field in her van being pulled by a large tractor just to deliver the wedding cake. She came in with the beautiful cake in surprising good spirits and didn't seem rattled at all. She decorated the cake with fresh flowers and said "Well the tractor is waiting to pull me back up the field so I have to go". You just have to laugh at the craziness of it all.

The next vendor in line for kudos is Bobby Dill of Event Dynamics. Bobby had been at the wedding site during the week so most of the lighting was in place in all three tents. All he had to do on the wedding day was place dozens of candles in the pond. Easy, right? Here is a photo of him in his rain gear paddling the kayak around the pond placing the (battery operated) candles in the pouring rain. I just can't believe the lengths these superior vendors go to in order to fulfill the promises made to the client. It was amazing.

And the amaziness (is that a word?) continued with the staff of Linwood's catering. There was an army of people led by General Linda Brown. The staff arrived early before the field turned to mush so they were all parked in the grass and hiked to the tent to methodically set-up for the wedding. May I mention once more time: NO ONE complained about the water, the mud, the bad hair. They just went about their work cheerfully like they were inside a dry and comfortable country club. The food, by the way, was beautifully presented, plentiful, and absolutely delicious.

The catering trucks had to be pulled across the field by the tractors, the ice bags were delivered across the field on a skid loader, and every employee had to have a tractor pull their car out when the reception was over.

The other troopers: Lauren from Table Toppers with beautifully made custom table linens, Clare Stewart with gorgeous flowers in luscious fall colors, Janice Kinigopoulos who kept the bride beautiful with hair and make-up, Dana Goode from Castaglia String Musicians, Z Best Limousine and Woodlawn Motor Coach our shuttle buses, and of course those farm boys who kept the tractors running all night.

We'll post again soon when we have some of the photos by very talented (and always cheerful)photographer Amy Deputy (who kept her cute wellies on with her silk pants throughout the night) and we'll actually talk about the bride!

Our mostly barefoot guests partied the night away to the music of Liquid Pleasure from North Carolina.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Registry 101: Eco-Friendly

The Eco-installment of the Registry series from Brides.com
Eco-Friendly


This online-only store offers high-design, sustainable products for every room in your home. You can register online for everything from organic cotton throw pillows to colorful bamboo bowls, and the store will combine orders to reduce shipping costs for your guests.

Gaiam's products promote a healthy mind, body and spirit as well as environment and registry items can include anything from housewares to clothing to gift items like yoga mats. Their free online photo album feature allows you to upload personal photos onto your registry.

This international human-rights organization is dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social-justice causes and operates a fair-trade online retailer that sells the work of artisans from around the world.

Register online for a wide selection of hip items typically made from recyclable materials or renewable resources. The site includes everything from towels to appliances to jewelry all available for your registry.

Fill out an online form to register with this site, which features eco-friendly linens, glassware and more. Their organic bedding is especially popular. Other items include bamboo flooring, air purification systems and yoga towels.

This San Francisco based e-tailer sells stylish, modern items including furniture (all sustainable or reclaimed), home decor and even eco-friendly clothing. Nearly every item on the site is available for your registry.

from Brides.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rental Fun

It is very likely that you will be making a visit to a Rental Company during the course of your wedding planning.  It can be confusing - so here are some helpful tips.

1.  Be sure to get all of your linens from one source.  Other rentals can come from another company, but linens can be easily mixed up and should all come from one company.

2.  Bring your linen samples to the rental company where you are choosing your china, glassware, and flatware, and chairs.

3.  If you are using any pieces from your caterer or venue - like their plates or glassware - be sure to see a sample and ask to take it with you to the rental showroom.  It will help you choose your other pieces.

4.  Remember that when your guests walk into the reception they will see the chairs, linens, napkin, glassware, menu card, bread and butter plate, and charger plate.  They will not see the dinner plate or salad plate.  Those plates will be served later.

5.  Glassware on the table will depend on if you are having wine service with dinner.  If there is not wine service then the glasses will be the water glass and champagne glass (if there is a champagne toast).  If you are having wine service then there will also be a white wine and red wine glass.

6.  Be sure to take a photo of the rental items you've chosen.  If will help you communicate the vision to the caterer and the floral designer.

7.  Ask if you can have all of your rentals at the tasting with the caterer.  The total look of linens, chairs, a complete place setting, and a sample centerpiece will give you a clear vision of the overall look.

image from Party Rental Ltd.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Memories in the Corner of my Mind

As you are planning your wedding it is very easy to get wrapped up in everything and lose perspective.  If you feel like you're having on of those moments and you need to take a step back - here are a few things to think about to put yourself back on track.

Yep, that's a toilet paper wedding gown.

1. Remember that this is about a marriage, not just a wedding.  Focus on creating a new family and marrying your best friend.

2.  Think back to weddings you've attended in the past and remember the good parts and the bad.  Try to recreate the good and eliminate the bad.

3.  Ask friends and family about the things they love at a wedding and focus on those elements.

4.  Make sure you're focused on what's most important to you both.  Don't waste time on traditional elements if you don't care about them - spend that time on something you care about.

5.  When you're scheduling your projects, schedule to be done a month before the wedding.  There are a few projects that will have to wait (like escort cards) but most projects can be completed ahead of time.

6.  And finally, give yourself some time off.  Wedding projects should not take up every weekend.  If they do - you'll go crazy.

And have fun!  This is a once in a lifetime event - enjoy the planning and the celebration.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hair Raising

Every bride was the perfect hair for her wedding day.  A great hair style that you're confident will stay put for an entire whirlwind of you wedding day is a key element to your wedding day look.

There are a few key elements to great wedding day hair.

The first element is a great stylist.  You have to feel confident in their abilities and it's an added bonus when the person has a calming effect on you.

Ideally, you'll be having your hair and makeup done at home or in your hotel suite on the morning of the wedding.  There are many great stylists that will come to you and your girls on wedding day.

For your hair trial with your stylist be sure to have at least inspiration pictures to show him/her.  It's likely they'll have to combine the styles in your inspiration pictures to find the right style for you.  If you have any accessories like a veil, pins, feathers, or flowers - be sure to have them with you as well.

Take pictures from all angles and print them out for wedding day.  Keep them with you so that the stylist can reference them as needed.  A full page printout will work much better than your camera or cell phone screen.

Finally, follow their advice on prepping your hair for wedding day.  Get the necessary color  and products to make the look complete.

And smile, you'll look gorgeous!

image Brides.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dancin Dancin Dancin!

Last night was the premier of Dancing with the Stars.  Between DWTS, So You Think You Can Dance, and Rock the Reception - there's a lot of first dance inspiration out there.


Joy Marie Photography

If you're looking to jazz up your first dance and steer away from the "high school sway" then you have some options.

Option 1:  Go all the way and come up with a full routine.  You'll need to have your song selected and work with a dance instructor.

Option 2:  Take lessons with a dance instructor to get comfortable.  You'll have a few moves in your back pockets and give it a little dazzle.  This eliminates the stress of a full routine.

Option 3:  Just go for it and enjoy yourself.  You're married - who cares?

Option 4:  Save the choreographed dance for later in the night like Christina's friends Brooke and Dan did with their version of the YMCA.  That one even had sparklers at the end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Be The Guest You Can Be

TheKnot.com recently wrote an article about being a great wedding guest.  Since we're well into wedding season, we thought you might appreciate the tips.
So follow these 5 great rules, have a glass of champagne, and get on the dance floor!

"You may think you're a wedding etiquette pro, but here are five commonly held beliefs that are really more fiction than fact.

Myth #1: You can't wear black.
Good news: Your favorite little black dress is appropriate for a wedding. Many people pick their outfit with the misconception that anything black would exude gloom (rather than glee), but don't worry -- no one will think your dark attire is better suited for a funeral than a wedding. Though black might not be the best choice for a mid-afternoon ceremony in the spring, black is perfectly fine for any evening wedding.

Myth #2: The bride is your point person for all wedding-related questions.
Don't assume that the to-be-weds should be your first stop with all your questions simply because it's their wedding. Not sure where they're registered? Wondering about transportation? Need to know if there will be a babysitter at the reception? Don't pick up the phone and immediately call the bride or groom -- chances are, they've got enough wedding stress of their own. First try the bridesmaids and groomsmen, or the couple's parents. Find out if the couple has a wedding website (look on the invitation), which could very well have all the information you need. If you still have no luck, it's okay to contact the couple -- just make sure you've tried other avenues first.

Myth #3: Shopping from the registry is impersonal
It can be tempting to buy a couple a wedding present that's not on their registry. Something that shows how well you know them (and how great a gift giver you are) is way more creative than selecting a present off a list, right? Not really. Most couples prefer gifts from their registry -- that's why they registered in the first place. For a personal touch, pick an item that has some significance for you and the couple (like buying them stemware to replace the glass you broke at their last dinner party), and include a letter that lets them know you put some thought into their wedding gift and got them something they really wanted.

Myth #4: An invitation means you can bring a date
Unless your wedding invitation includes a phrase like "and guest," don't assume you're free to bring a date. Couples are often working within certain restrictions (be it space or budget), and expanding their guest list might not be an option. In one poll of Knot brides, nearly half said that at least one guest had responded for someone who wasn't invited.

Myth #5: The couple is responsible for your accommodations
No matter how far you've traveled to attend a wedding, the couple isn't required to pay for your hotel -- or even let you crash on their couch. Many couples will reserve blocks of hotel rooms to get a good rate for their out-of-town guests, but don't expect them to foot the bill. If you're not sure where to stay, ask a member of the bridal party for recommendations."

-Miles Stiverson

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Registry 101: Department Stores

Another installment in the series on registries from Brides.com
Department Stores


Register in any one of their chic stores and your list is quickly made available online for your guests. While couples can register for anything in the store, they mostly focus on items in the store's Chelsea Passage home section, which features upscale formal china from J.L. Coquet, Bernardaud, Haviland, Puiforcat, Hermès and Raynaud. In addition to flatware, glassware and handmade pottery are also available.

The registry at Bloomingdale's offers a gift with its registry package that includes special discounts throughout the store, personal one-on-one service from a registry consultant and a six-month multiple-use completion discount. Gift givers also receive complimentary gift wrapping with registry purchases in stores or online.

This department store is truly one-stop shopping for couples and offers everything from fine china to appliances to collectibles. Online registries can also list shower dates, and the store can provide you with announcement cards. Receive free "royalty gifts" when you register with select premium vendors.

Register online for everything from formal china to kitchen appliances at the store known for its stylish, affordable merchandise. Dillard's offers a completion program that takes 20 percent off most registry items for 60 days after the wedding.

The San Francisco–based retailer offers a 10-percent completion program, and you can register online, over the phone, via e-mail or in person. Check out their gift notification program, which allows you to receive your gifts following the wedding and easily make returns and exchanges.

The retailer gives couples a free wedding planner-organizer, and there are no shipping charges for gifts sent to JCPenney stores for pickup. Register for anything from table and bath linens to fitness equipment to margarita makers. The site categorizes gifts by price too: less than $50, $50 to $100 and more than $100.

Kohl's Bridal Aisle Gift Registry Completion Program offers a 15-percent discount, and guest notification is available. Register for anything from standard sheets and towels to fun accessories like a candle warmer or wall art. Feeling practical? Even cleaning products can be added to a registry.

The nationwide department store chain offers a bridal rewards program that allows you to earn 10-percent rewards on eligible personal purchases you make with your Macy's credit card and 5-percent rewards for every eligible gift purchase off your registry. After your wedding you will receive a Macy's gift card for the total amount of your rewards.

The luxury-goods retailer offers the InCircle bridal rewards program and offers a 20-month interest-free credit card that allows you to complete your registry. Select anything from Christofle flatware to Baccarat vases to Tumi luggage.

Register online or in stores for everything from Craftsman tools to Weber grill accessories to Kenmore appliances like a washer-dryer. Most items are available online, but some require guests to visit a store. Guests can also purchase Sears gift cards in place of specific gifts.


from Brides.com

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Have You Been To...

Budget Travel.com recently published a Top 15 List of Places Every Kid Should See.
Have you seen them all yet?

Ellis Island Museum and The Statue of Liberty
Ground Zero, New York City
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor
Grand Canyon, Arizona
National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Tennessee
Redwood National Park, California
Monticello, Virginia
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Alamo, Texas
Niagara Falls, New York
Freedom Trail, Boston
Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida

Friday, September 19, 2008

Best Way to Serve Ice Cream

Browsing though Colin Cowie's website I found this great tip on the Best Way to Serve Cream.  It's simple, yet genius.


"If ice cream is part of your dessert repertoire, instead of rushing last minute to scoop the ice cream when desserts are ready to be served, a little advance preparation will go a long way. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop it ahead of time; place the ice cream balls in a serving bowl then back in the freezer. When it's time to serve, simply remove the bowl with the ice cream balls from the freezer and place it on your counter or buffet; it will certainly look a lot nicer than a help yourself container."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Up!

Betty and Jarrett's wedding that was featured in Engaged! Magazine is now featured on their website.

You see can images and read their story on the Engaged! website.

Congratulations Betty and Jarrett - we hope you're enjoying your first married year together!
photo:  Arthur Remanjon

Be sure to check out the photo of their honeymoon suite.  The roses and personalized pillow cases are part of our Suite Dreams package.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Survivor

Survivor premiers tomorrow and you'll need the perfect dessert to celebrate in Survivor Style.  This easy recipe includes coconut - and we all know how much they love coconuts on the show!

Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars
1 package dry sugar cookie mix, prepared to package directions 

1 cup macadamia nuts 
1 cup shredded coconut 
1 cup white chocolate chips 
9 by 12-inch baking dish 
Softened butter, to prepare baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
To cookie mix prepared to package directions, add nuts, coconut and white chocolate chips. Butter the baking dish and spread cookie dough evenly into a thin layer across the baking dish. Bake bars for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool slightly. Then cut into squares, remove with offset spatula and serve. 

Recipe from Rachael Ray on the Food Network

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eek! My face!

You wake up blissful on that morning... until you look in the mirror.  Yep, it's your special occasion zit.

Never fear.  Here's what to do.
From Brides.com:
"Los Angeles makeup artist Patty Bunch has a fail-proof plan: Dab on a little NeoSporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment to take down swelling. Next, use your concealer brush to dam on a dense formulation—Bunch swears by The Balm timeBalm Concealer ($17, Sephora). Finally, seal it with Genie Instant Line Smoother ($24.99 on Amazon), which dries to create a shield over the spot and tighten the skin, further reducing inflammation.
"You won’t see that sucker again until you cleanse your face that night," she says."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Countdown!

I am a huge fan of the Google Countdown clocks.  I like to look forward to something and I like to know how many days I have left to pull it all together.

So here are today's countdowns:

15 days until Rosh Hashana
46 days until Halloween
71 days until Thanksgiving
97 days until Hanukkah
100 days until Christmas


Oh how I love the holiday season...

Eye Candy

Swoon.

photo credit: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Registry 101: China and Dinnerware

Part two of the Registry series from Brides.com
China and Dinnerware

Register online for their striking selection of colorful ceramic tableware crafted in Italy and Ceramica will send an e-mail announcement to all your guests. You can also register for their Italian kitchen accessories and accent pieces like lamps and clocks.

Create a registry with Fortunoff and you save 10 percent on wedding bands and some attendants' gifts you purchase at one of their stores, which specialize in jewelry and upscale items for the home.

Specializing in wedding and engagement rings and china, Michael C. Fina lets you register in person, online or over the phone. Couples qualify for free gifts depending on the amount of gifts purchased. Up to one year after your wedding date, enjoy a 15-percent discount on a purchase worth 50 percent or more of the remaining value of your registry.
This retailer of old, discontinued and new china has encyclopedic knowledge of china patterns, and they come in especially handy if you need to replace pieces or add to your service.


Register online for their large selection of classic and contemporary hand-blown glass and handmade pottery items. Registrants receive a welcoming gift and a romantic getaway including a complimentary meal for two at a Simon Pearce restaurant and a night's stay at a select bed-and-breakfast. A completion program entitles registrants to a onetime 10-percent savings on items remaining on their registry after their event. Simon Pearce offers complimentary replacement of glass or pottery designs purchased from registries damaged within 12 months of the registrants' event date.  Updated 9/17/08

from Brides.com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Etsy for your Rings

Ring bearer pillows can be a perfect little detail.  They can be cute, whimsical, or romantic.

Etsy has some great options.

Seller LuckeyU has the perfect nest for your garden wedding.
$25.00

Seller palomasnest has the perfect bowl which can be custom imprinted.
$23.00

Seller EasterYu creates a wood plateau for the rings.
$10.00

Friday, September 12, 2008

Etsy To Top Your Cake

Still looking for a cake topper?

Etsy has some wonderful options!
Seller nicolewclark will hand make a custom topper to look just like you.
Order early she books up quickly.
Prices start at $119.00

Seller cornflakegirl has the perfect little birdies
$75 for the pair

Seller SheaChicDesigns can create your new last initial or monogram.
$35.00

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Did you Know?

Did you know that Nordstrom has a Wedding Shop online?

They have some great options for off-the-rack wedding gowns.  If you're looking for something a bit simpler - maybe for a beach wedding - this is a great place to check out.
They have everything from bridal gowns, to bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride, flower girls, grooms, and groomsmen.  A one stop shop!

Also, a great place to look for Rehearsal Dinner dresses and even great options for the After-Party!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

For the next Generation

You fell in love with your wedding gown and wore it for one glorious day.  Now, it's hanging in its bag in your closet.  Wondering what to do with it?

Have it cleaned and preserved to save it for the next generation.  Even if it's not worn in another wedding, you can use the material to create something for a special occasion.

JScheer & Co is a preservation company recommended by many of the top gown designers.

You should send your gown in to be cleaned within 6 months of your wedding day.  Until then, the gown should be stored in a clean white sheet in a dark place.  It should not be hung on a hanger, as that can cause stress to the fabric.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Partying at Home?

When planning a party at home you have a few options for the food.

The easiest option is to hire a caterer. The caterer will bring and prepare the food, handle staff, take care of the rentals, and clean up at the end of the night.

If you're budget doesn't allow for a caterer, but you can't imagine preparing all of the food yourself, you have another option.  Many larger caterers have a "To-Go" option.  You order the food ahead of time and either pick it up or have it delivered to the party location.

Like the idea of the food, but still can't image dealing with the service part?  Hire a few wait staff to handle the food presentation and clean up.

And, of course, you can always handle everything yourself!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shoes are a Girl's Best Friend

Still looking for wedding day shoes?
While it's always nice to find shoes locally - so that you can try them on in the store - sometimes it's difficult to find what you're looking for.
Be sure to check out myglassslipper.com and zappos.com when you're searching.  Zappos has free shipping and a full year for returns.  Myglassslipper is a bit more strict so read their return guidelines.
Order early and remember that you'll need your shoes for your first fitting.  If you're planning to switch shoes for the reception, have them on hand as well for your seamstress to see.
Shoes above are Kate Spade from Myglassslipper.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Registry 101: Charities

Brides.com recently listed the top places to register for your wedding.  Over the next few Sunday's we're going to share the list and a few of our favorites.
Charities

You'll donate up to 8 percent of the value of your wedding gifts to charity when you register with the retail and travel partners affiliated with the I Do Foundation. All gifts must be purchased through a wedding Web site the I Do Foundation will ask you to create. You can also opt to have guests make tax-deductible contributions to the charity of your choice.

Used alone or in addition to traditional gift registries, the site allows you to create a customized Web page that encourages contributions to your favorite charities. Just Give offers more than a million charities to choose from, including national, regional and local organizations. Through the registry, you can also make a donation in honor of your guests and buy charity gift certificates for your wedding party.

Register for gifts such as funding an hour of cancer research or providing supplies to children in need. You can do more than select a nonprofit to support; you can choose exactly what you want to accomplish. Create your own registry Web site and select a wish list of gifts from hundreds of nonprofit organizations that will show your family and friends your favorite donation ideas.

from Brides.com

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It All Adds Up

US News and World Report published an article earlier this week about the rising costs of attending and participating in a wedding.

"Complaining about the high cost of weddings used to be the father of the bride's job. Now, as nuptials have been transformed from simple family affairs to weekend-long marathons, the invited guests are increasingly feeling pressure to strain their own bank accounts.

Destination weddings, where couples commit to each other far from home, have grown fourfold over the past decade and now make up 16 percent of weddings, according to Condé Nast's Brides.com. The cost of gifts has also ballooned as weddings have become more elaborate and guests feel compelled to spend as extravagantly as their hosts.
But the heftiest burden of all falls on bridesmaids. They play a role that, for all the honor of its implied intimacy to the bride, comes with a price to match. Bridesmaids are often expected to buy a dress, matching shoes, and jewelry, not to mention professionally applied makeup and nail polish on the day itself. And well in advance of the "I do's," they usually serve as host for a bridal shower, bachelorette party, or both. TheKnot.com estimates that, excluding travel, the average cost for each bridesmaid adds up to around $700.
Part of the reason for the growing pressure on wedding guests is that when couples and their families spend thousands to make a day perfect, they want to make sure everyone else is in tip-top shape, as well. "Your bridesmaids are like your backup dancers," says Rebecca Mead, author of One Perfect Day. Adds Katherine Jellison, author of It's Our Day and a professor of history at Ohio University: "It's all part of a larger phenomenon that we have convinced ourselves of—that if we don't spend a lot of money on something, it's meaningless."
To save their own budgets, wedding guests—and participants—may need to scale down their efforts. That may mean declining invitations from anyone other than best friends or relatives. Guests often put pres-sure on themselves to buy the Waterford crystal set or china pattern on the couple's registry, when the bride and groom are expecting their friends to choose the $40 set of martini glasses. They may also need to assign themselves new roles. "If you feel you can't afford to be in the bridal party, be upfront about it right away," suggestsWeddingChannel.com senior editor Christa Vagnozzi.
As for the bride and groom, they can often organize group discounts for hotel rooms and local activities and even hire a stylist for a few hours so each member of the bridal party doesn't need to pay for her own hair and nails, says Michelle Preli, editor-in-chief of Brides.com.
Perhaps one of the biggest favors a bride can do for her attendants is to be realistic. Telling guests that a destination wedding is affordable because it doubles as their annual vacation has become the new bridal fib, replacing the one about bridesmaids being able to rewear their dresses, as Katherine Heigl's character is repeatedly told in the movie 27 Dresses.
So why don't bridesmaids unite and cast off their (matching) chains? "They submit," Mead says, "because they're happy for their friend. And statistically, bridesmaids are going to be brides themselves in a few years," and they'll want the favor returned."
-Kimberly Palmer
image from 27 Dresses