Thank You Card Etiquette

Just when you thought all of the stress of wedding planning was behind you, the daunting task of writing thank you notes looms in front of you. There’s nothing more exciting than returning from your honeymoon to a room full of beautiful presents all for you, but with every gift you rip open, a thank you card needs to be written. Here are a few tips for proper thank you card etiquette:

  • First things first, a personalized card is a must! We know it’s tempting to consider preprinting a couple hundred generic thank you notes, but when it comes to your wedding, only a handwritten, customized message will do. No emails, no phone calls, no fill-in-the-blank cards, and no generalized post on a website/blog/social networking site.
  • Address the gift giver by name, include a few words of appreciation, and acknowledge the gift specifically. A generic “Thank you for the gift” won’t do (unless the gift in question was money). If an actual gift was given, acknowledge it in the card.
  • A thank you card is required for every gift you receive, even if it’s from the same person. If your cousin Susie buys you a toaster at your bridal shower, then a month later gives you a place setting of china at your wedding, proper etiquette requires you to send two separate cards.
  • High-quality, formal stationery should be used for your wedding thank you cards. Often, you can purchase thank you notes to match your wedding invitations.
  • Monogrammed stationery with your new married names/initials is a great choice for thank you cards, but should not be used until after the wedding. Do not use stationery with your new name/initials for gifts that were received prior to the wedding.
  • All thank you cards should be written in blue or black ink. We know this rule seems silly, but we didn’t make it up.
  • For gifts that were received prior to the wedding, thank you cards should be sent out within two weeks. If a gift was shipped, it should be acknowledged as soon as possible. Follow up with a thank you card immediately, or, at the very least, a phone call that is followed up by a written note.
  • For gifts that were given at the actual wedding, you have slightly more time to mail out a thank you card. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have an entire year to send out thank you notes. Thank you cards for wedding gifts should be sent out within three months of the event, but the sooner they’re sent out, the better.
  • Thank you cards should be sent to the following: anyone who purchases you a gift, whether given at your wedding/shower or mailed, even if you’ve thanked them in person; anyone who gives a monetary gift to you; participants/attendants in your wedding; individuals who contribute towards a group gift; anyone who organized a shower/party/celebration for you; individuals who house or entertain your wedding guests; wedding suppliers/vendors; anyone who offers favors/service to you leading up to your wedding or on the wedding day; and the person/people who host your wedding (typically your parents/guardians).
  • Thank you cards should be sent via postal mail. Be sure to include your new address as your wedding guests will be grateful to have it!

Vendor Spotlight – Caroline DeVillo Couture

If you’re looking for a stunning, timeless, and breathtaking wedding gown, look no further than Chicago-based designer, Caroline DeVillo. Her Hollywood-inspired couture gowns are elegant, classic, and sure to make an impression.

Caroline DeVillo always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but when it came time for college, she studied Marketing of Textiles and Apparel at the University of Illinois to become a buyer instead. Plans change and along the way, she found herself attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise (FIDM) in Los Angeles. During her time in California, she began to work as a stylist and costume designer for TV, film, and print. After growing homesick, she decided to return to Chicago and take the plunge into design. Drawing on inspiration from Old Hollywood and her costuming experience, she designed her first line of couture bridal gowns in 2003. In 2006, her burgeoning bridal fashion career led her to open her own store in Bucktown.

Brides can choose from three couture collections to find their perfect wedding dress. Caroline DeVillo offers gowns that range from simple and understated to fun and flirty to sexy and glamorous. Whatever your personal style, Caroline DeVillo’s stunning masterpieces are certainly worth a glance.

Brides can also participate in the design process with Caroline DeVillo’s I.D. Collection. The I.D. (Individual Design) collection allows brides the opportunity to mix and match their favorite looks to create a dress that represents their unique personality and individual style.

Caroline DeVillo can also help dress the rest of your bridal party in style. She offers a beautiful collection of cocktail gowns that are perfect for bridesmaids and her customizable Kiddy Cocktail Collection provides great options for flower girls and children ages two and up.

Caroline Devillo Couture
http://carolinedevillo.com/
1616 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647-5536
(773) 342-0096

Something Blue

The wedding tradition “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” has been a part of weddings for ages.  However, in recent years, brides have embraced the tradition in new and more creative ways, adding a touch of fun and whimsy to their big day.  “Something blue” is a particular favorite of brides, so we’ve given you three creative ideas to add a touch of fun, tradition, and of course, color, to your big day.

It’s all about the bling. Many brides use their wedding day as a chance to wear jewelry that they may not normally don.  Shine and sparkle are seen in tiaras, drop earrings, bracelets, brooches, and necklaces.  Consider branching out from the traditional pearl or diamond jewelry to incorporate some blue bling.  Sapphires and blue topazes are to popular choices, with the former jewel a popular option among fall and winter brides and the latter jewel finding love from spring and summer brides.  David Yurman makes some incredible pieces with blue stones if you want an extra something special for the big day.

Remember, just a touch of blue is all you need, so don’t think you have to give up traditional diamonds and pearls all together.  Look for jewelry that has a single blue stone with clear or white jewels around it.  The blue bling doesn’t need to be a focal point, just a little touch to represent your “something blue.”  And if you can’t afford the real stone, no sweat, faux is a great way to go!  Still not sure?  Incorporate blue jewels in your bouquet in the form of a brooch.  Carefully pin it on the ribbon wrapping around your bouquet, and you’ve got your something blue, without making too drastic of a statement.

Embroider it. Consider combining your something blue with something else special in your life using thread.  Think of a special date, person, or saying that has meaning to you and represent it by embroidering something to wear or carry on your big day.  Perhaps it’s the initials of a loved one that passed, the letters of your college sorority, or your new initials.  Whatever it is, make it meaningful.  Inside one of the layers of your wedding dress is a great option if you don’t want the embroidery to be visible.  Also consider embroidering a handkerchief with something special to wrap around your bouquet.  The embroidery doesn’t need to be big or even visible to anyone else, it is for you to know about and cherish.

Two Blue Shoes. Elvis may have been onto something when he sang about blue suede shoes.  Ok, maybe not the suede part, but certainly the blue part!  Brides are beginning to get creative and venture outside of traditional bridal footwear, and what better way to do it than with blue!  This is another detail that may not be initially be visible to wedding guests, but when you step up stairs at the altar or bust a move on the dance floor, they will certainly notice the fun surprise.  This also opens up endless possibilities for footwear as you can look outside of the tradition bridal footwear.  Stuart Weitzman, Jimmy Choo, and Manolo Blanik all offer beautiful options.  (Think Carrie Bradshaw!)  If the price tag doesn’t appeal, consider browsing discount stores such as Nordstrom Rack and Filene’s Basement which often carry these designers for a fraction of the price.

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

TIPS.  The acronym has been said to stand for “to insure prompt service,” though many of us know the term to simply mean what we leave at the end of a meal.  Tips have become an ordinary part of our society, whether you’re paying at a restaurant, the salon, or the coffee shop.  Most people have a solid understanding of tip etiquette when it comes to dining, but in the wedding world, the rules of tipping aren’t so simple.  Here are some guidelines to help take the guesswork out of tipping your wedding vendors.

Officiants: Many pastors, priests, rabbis, ministers and other religious leaders will not accept tips in the form of cash.  Instead, consider making a donation to their house of worship or a nonprofit organization that their congregation already partners with.  $75 to $100 is typical.  Civil employees who perform wedding ceremonies are often not allowed to accept any type of monetary gifts.  In that case, a thank you note is appropriate.

Musicians and DJs: Tipping for this category varies, particularly based on how the vendor handles booking.  For independent bands that book their own gigs, tipping is not necessary, as they will pocket all of the money earned.  A similar approach holds true for independent DJs.  However, when a DJ or musical act is booked through an agency or larger company, tips are expected, as the vendor will not be receiving the full charge for the service.  Tips for DJs range from 5% to 15%, with tips for musicians averaging approximately $25 per musician.  So if you have a six person band, a separate tip would go to each of the six band members.

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists: If you visit the salon on the day of your wedding, a standard tip of 15% to 20% is expected.  However, if the stylist or artists owns their own business or is freelancing, a tip is not expected.  However, if you feel they went above and beyond, feel free to leave a tip at your discretion.

Catering Services: There is a great deal of variety when it comes to tipping catering vendors.  First, check to see if gratuity is included in your package. If so, an additional tip is unnecessary.  However, if gratuity is not included in the contract, consider a 15% to 20% tip, as expected in a standard dining situation.  You can also choose to leave a flat rate for members of the catering staff, particularly if your catering company is higher in price.  $100 to $200 for catering managers, $50 for each chef, baker, and bartender, and $20 to $30 for each member of the wait and kitchen staff.

Wedding Coordinators, Photographers, Videographers, and Florists: Much like DJs and musicians, if the vendor owns their business, a tip is not expected.  They have already set their price and expect the amount specified.  Because they own their business, they will not have to pay someone else a portion of their fee.  However, if coordinators, photographer, videographers, or florists do not own their business, a tip of $30-$100 is anticipated, with coordinators typically receiving $50 to $100.

The easiest way to present vendors with tips is to have individual envelopes for each vendor (and each person in the case of catering staff and musicians.)  These envelopes should be organized before the day of the wedding, so you do not have to break away from the celebration to deal with money.

Wedding Wire Rated 2010

Music By Design, Ltd. is now WeddingWire Rated for 2010

Geneva, IL – July 7, 2010 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading site for wedding reviews, just announced that Music By Design is WeddingWire Rated 2010 for the DJ category. WeddingWire Rated is an annual award program for wedding professionals based on hundreds of thousands of recent wedding reviews.

WeddingWire Rated, the industry’s first formalized review program, is the most recognized and trusted brand among engaged couples looking to locate wedding businesses. The award program recognizes wedding professionals across the country, like Music By Design, that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service.

Music By Design has 56 reviews on WeddingWire. These reviews have been written by past clients of Music By Design, and include detailed ratings and insightful descriptions of the newlyweds’ experience. From quality of service to overall level of professionalism, these reviews showcase the high level of service newly engaged couples can expect from Music By Design.

“We are excited to unveil WeddingWire Rated, now in its fourth year, as a way to recognize wedding professionals for their commitment to service,” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s CEO. “WeddingWire Rated allows wedding businesses to clearly differentiate themselves in their market, while providing engaged couples an easy way to find the best services for their wedding.”

Music By Design would like to thank their past clients for sharing reviews on WeddingWire. Reviews for Music By Design can be found across the entire WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Project Wedding and Weddingbee.

For more information, please visit Music By Design on WeddingWire.

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire, the nation’s leading technology company serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 100,000 local wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers to wedding cakes. WeddingWire also offers an online community and a suite of cutting-edge planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire provides free online management tools creating the only market opportunity that gives local businesses control over their clients, reviews, leads and performance. Businesses that join the WeddingWire Network appear on WeddingWire.com and other leading sites, including MarthaStewartWeddings.com, ProjectWedding.com and Weddingbee.com (both part of eHarmony), and Celebrations.com (part of the 1-800-Flowers family of brands).

Setting Your Wedding Budget

Setting Your Wedding Budget

One of the most important aspects to planning any successful wedding is establishing your budget. Money can become a major stressor in the planning process so it’s best if you can determine your budget ahead of time and work hard to stay in the confines of it. Setting your wedding budget may seem like an overwhelming task, but it really can be easy and virtually painless by asking these simple questions…

Who’s paying?

Before you can begin to work up a wedding budget, you need to know who will be footing the bill. Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for the entire wedding, but these days many couples are opting to pay for all or most of the event themselves. In many cases, the groom’s family may also like to contribute financially as well. Before you establish a budget, sit down with all parties involve and find out what their financial contributions (if any) will be. Once you know how much will be given from your families, you and the groom need to determine how much of your own money (if any) you will be adding. For more detail on who pays for what, click here.

How is the money divided?

Typically, the allocation of funds for the wedding are divided as so: Reception (48-50%), Ceremony (2-3%), Attire (8-10%), Flowers (8-10%), Entertainment/Music (8-10%), Photography/Videography (10-12%), Stationery (2-3%), Wedding Rings (2-3%), Parking/Transportation (2-3%), Miscellaneous (8%). Just because this is the standard breakdown of finances doesn’t mean your wedding has to be the same. Feel free to set aside more or less money on areas that are more or less important to you. If you or your partner’s families would like to contribute but aren’t sure of a specific dollar amount, ask them to take full financial responsibility for one area of the wedding such as booking the photographer, paying for the rehearsal dinner, or purchasing the flowers.

What’s most important?

There are certain elements of the wedding details that will be of more value to you than others. Maybe there is a reception location you can’t live without or an expensive dream photographer you’re dying to book. Understand that the allocation of the wedding budget doesn’t have to fit exactly into the breakdown mentioned above. Figure out ways to cut corners in some areas so you can have the things that are most important. If you’ve spent too much on your reception location, try opting for a less expensive food option. Instead of a sit-down dinner, consider serving hors d’oeuvres and cocktails or a classy brunch instead. They’re more cost-effective options that will allow you to stay within the confines of your predetermined budget.

How can I save?

There are a number of ways you can save money on your wedding, without sacrificing style. Hire a personal friend or family member to assemble the bouquets, design and print the invitations at home, or borrow a friend’s classic car instead of renting a limo. Figure out areas that you can cut costs and adjust your budget accordingly. By saving money in one area, you’ll be able to put those funds toward something more important.

Getting The Groom Involved

Getting the Groom Involved

It’s not unusual for a groom to take a backseat when it comes to wedding planning. Many men feel ill equipped to contribute any worthwhile suggestions during the process. In turn, many brides feel frustrated by their partner’s seeming lack of interest and wish he would offer to alleviate some of the stress. If you’re having a hard time getting your groom excited or involved in the wedding planning, try these quick and easy steps:

  • Communicate: First and foremost, tell your beau how you’re feeling as a result of his indifference about the wedding planning. It’s quite possible that he’s been staying uninvolved so as to not get in your way. Let him know that you desire his opinions and long for his help in the planning of your big day. Once he understands how much stress you’re under and that you actually want his assistance, most likely he’ll be more eager to get involved.
  • Delegate: Delegate some of the wedding planning responsibilities to the groom. After all, it’s his wedding too. Try to find tasks that might be of interest to him. Most guys are not going to want to be responsible for selecting the flowers (nor are you probably going to want to trust his opinion on that one). Instead, ask him to take responsibility for things he might enjoy like planning the honeymoon, creating a reception playlist, deciding the theme/menu for the rehearsal dinner, or choosing the cocktails and appetizers for your guests.
  • Incorporate: As much as you might hate to relinquish control over certain areas of the wedding that you’ve been dreaming about your whole life, remind yourself that this day is about you and your fiancé as a couple. Sit down with your man and get his feedback. Try to incorporate his ideas and personality into the wedding and reception. Design a groom’s cake dedicated to his favorite sports team or pastime, choose a menu that involves his favorite cuisine, or select a wedding theme that represents something unique about your relationship, dating history, or interests.

The key to getting the groom involved is letting him know that this wedding is a celebration of the both of you. Once he realizes his significance and gains an idea of how he can help, chances are he’ll be happy to serve.

Wedding Gown Cleaning and Preservation

Wedding planning can be a big undertaking.  Finding the location, the caterer, the DJ…it can be a lot to handle.  But the one thing brides seem to work the hardest at is finding a wedding dress—the perfect wedding dress.  So after all that hard work and the countless memories made on a wedding day, preserving wedding dresses has become a high priority of brides everywhere.  Gown preservation is a special process of cleaning and packaging a wedding or couture gown.  However, navigating the preservation process, including who to trust, where to go, and how to go the DIY route, can be tricky.  So here are a few tips and guidelines for preserving the beauty of your wedding dress:

Finding a Cleaner/Preservationist: Just like any other wedding vendor, finding someone to preserve your dress is an important task.  You want to find someone you trust, can communication easily with, and most of all, someone who will get the job done in a professional manner.  Lots of companies and cleaners claim to clean and preserve wedding gowns, yet not all are created equal.  Look for someone who is licensed by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, as these vendors specialize in gown preservation and restoration.  To find a licensed specialist, visit the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists.

For brides in the Chicagoland area, Davis Imperial Cleaners is an incredibly popular and well respected vendor, specializing in wedding and couture gown preservation.  They are also the only vendor in the Chicagoland area licensed by the Association of Wedding gown specialists.

Time is of the Essence: Though many brides set their dress aside for a few weeks after their wedding, enjoying honeymoon trips and new wedding gifts, it is incredibly important to get your dress to the cleaner as soon as possible following the big day.  Obvious and visible stains such as red wine and dirt can clearly damage a gown, but so can invisible stains such as champagne and cake frosting.  Therefore, for best results, get your dress to the cleaner as soon as possible.  If you plan to be out of town or busy with after-wedding festivities, ask a family member or bridesmaid to drop it off at the cleaners for you.  If you have any special requests or concerns about the dress, make sure to discuss these with your family member or bridesmaid, so they can relay them to the cleaner.

Do It Yourself Dress Cleaning: While most brides would love to have their dress last forever, many are not in favor of the hefty cost associated with licensed cleaners, which can be anywhere from $200-$800.  So if you’re not crazy about the price tag or not certain that gown preservation is for you, going the DIY route may be a good option.  Though it won’t be perfect or completely stain free, there are a few main steps in home preservation to help your dress look its best.  First, wrap the dress in a white sheet or prewashed muslin before placing the dress in a sturdy box.  Avoid using plastic bags or vacuum sealed plastic containers, as plastic emits fumes that can cause your dress to yellow or mildew.  Also, make sure to avoid storing your dress in places of extreme heat.  This typically rules out basements and attics, as both can reach extreme highs and lows when it comes to temperature.  Under the bed or in a large closet are two of the safest options for storing your dress at home.

Bridal Beauty Kit

As a bride, you want to be picture perfect at all times on your big day, so it’s essential to have a bridal beauty kit at your disposal. In the days before the wedding, while you’re busy finalizing details on the rehearsal, wedding, and reception, don’t forget to pack these absolute essentials to prepare you and your bridesmaids for any beauty disasters!

  • Hairspray: Essential for any last-minute hair touch-ups before and after the ceremony
  • Powder: Keep the shine away with a small compact
  • Concealer: To hide any blemishes on the big day
  • Bobby pins: Be prepared for hair mishaps during outdoor photos, hug-heavy receiving lines, and dancing during the reception
  • Waterproof mascara: Unless your tear ducts have been removed or aren’t working properly, there will be at least minor waterworks on the wedding day so pack waterproof mascara to avoid looking like Ozzy Osbourne
  • Lipstick/Lip gloss: For touch-ups before photos, before the ceremony, and after the big kiss
  • Breath mints: To keep your breath minty fresh when kissing the groom and greeting your guests
  • Dental Floss: There’s nothing worse than a bride with a giant piece of food stuck in her teeth (not that you’ll probably be eating much anyway)
  • Tissues, cotton balls, cotton swabs: To apply, touchup, or remove makeup
  • Deodorant: This one is pretty self-explanatory
  • Nail Polish: Everyone will want to examine your ring and the photographer will be sure to capture close-ups of your hands, so bring some extra nail polish to repair chipped nails
  • Perfume: To keep you smelling sweet all day

Keep your beauty bag with you before the ceremony and ask a bridesmaid or close friend to carry it to the reception and place it under your seat for any last-minute touch-ups.

Wedding Planning Conflict – Keeping The Peace

Keeping the Peace Between Bride and Groom

Your wedding day is supposed to be about love, unity, and togetherness, but often the planning process can result in blowouts of epic proportions between the bride and groom. Here are a few practical tips to help keep the peace if…

The Groom is Uninvolved: Many feuds come as a result of a groom’s general lack of interest in all things wedding-related. If your partner is unenthusiastic about the wedding planning, try to cut him a little slack. He’s a guy. His indifference about the wedding planning doesn’t mean he isn’t thrilled to be marrying you; it means he isn’t thrilled about flowers, favors, and centerpieces. To get him more involved, try to assign him tasks that might excite him like selecting the food for the rehearsal dinner, planning the honeymoon, creating a reception playlist, or choosing the cocktails for your guests. It’ll remove some of the stress from your plate while also getting him actively involved in something of interest to him.

The Groom is Too Involved: Every now and then, a groom comes along who wants to be actively involved in every detail and decision of the wedding planning process. This can result in a number of fights and frustrations. If your guy is overly involved, try to establish some boundaries. Have a sit-down discussion about the wedding details and allow him to take responsibility for the areas that are of utmost importance to him, keeping responsibility for the details most important to you. Whenever possible, try to schedule meetings together, but discuss your ideas beforehand so you can be prepared with a general understanding about what you both want.

The Groom is Freaking Out About the Bill: Money and budgeting is one of the biggest causes of stress in the planning of any wedding, especially if you and the groom are responsible for much or all of the bill. To avoid a financial fracas, it’s imperative that you establish a wedding budget together. If you can’t afford the lavish wedding of your dreams, figure out areas where you can cut corners and save costs so that you can splurge on details that are more important. Keep detailed records of your costs as you go and set aside money ahead of time for unexpected expenses that may arise throughout the planning process. This wedding budget tracker may help.

The Groom Has Very Different Tastes: If you’re having a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with your groom on the wedding details, theme, or style, it can put a serious crimp in the planning. Although you may be tempted to scoff at his idea of a Star Wars-inspired rehearsal dinner and cut him out of the planning altogether, remember that this day is just as much about him as you. The wedding is meant to be a reflection and celebration of your relationship and unique personalities. The best way to avoid conflicts about differing tastes is to compromise. Walk through the major wedding details together and come to an agreement on ways to incorporate both of your ideas and identities.

The Groom Wants to Invite His Third Cousin’s Neighbor’s Girlfriend: Narrowing down the wedding guest list can be a daunting task for any couple and it can certainly add stress to the wedding, especially when you’re trying to stay in the confines of a predetermined budget. If the guest list is getting out of hand, talk it over with your partner and decide on a reasonable number for each of you to invite. If there are still others you’re hoping to invite, consider creating an A-list (non-negotiable guests) and a B-list (friends, colleagues, and distant relatives that you’d like to invite). As guests from the A-list start to RSVP, send out additional invitations for every person who sends their regrets. If you still can’t cut down the guest list, consider holding the wedding at a larger venue or offering hors d’oeuvres and cocktails instead of dinner to save money.

All in all, wedding planning conflicts can be avoided by open and honest communication. Planning your nuptials together can be great preparation for the challenges of marriage that lie ahead. Learn to clearly communicate your feelings, needs, and desires in a way that isn’t aggressive, confrontational, or mean-spirited. Remind yourself (over and over, if necessary) that your wedding day is about celebrating your love and relationship. If you stay focused on the true purpose of the day, you’ll be less likely to be swept into the stress of insignificant details. And if all else fails, hire a wedding planner to eliminate the stress altogether!