Gift Ideas for Bridal Attendants

Your bridal party is an important and meaningful part of your wedding day. They’ve supported you, stood by you, and loved you throughout all the ups and downs of the wedding planning process. In return, show your gratitude with a touching and unique gift. It’s customary for the bride and groom to purchase gifts for their bridal party as a way to say thanks. These gifts are usually distributed during the bridesmaids’ brunch or rehearsal dinner. Here are some unique and clever ideas for gifts of all types:

Wedding-Related: Purchase something your bridesmaids and groomsmen can use on the wedding day, but in the future as well. The most common options are jewelry or cufflinks. You can also consider purchasing pashmina scarves that can be used as a wrap with their bridesmaids dress or a small clutch purse that can be used on the wedding day. For the guys, consider watches or money clips.

Beauty: Pamper your bridesmaids and groomsmen with beauty-related gifts to indulge in. Treat everyone to a massage, facial, or mani/pedi’s in the days before the wedding or with a gift certificate for later use. For the ladies, consider a beauty bag with cosmetics and toiletries, a luxurious bath set, or aromatherapy oils and candles. For the guys, opt for a classic shaving kit or high-end skin care products. Other suggestions to consider: swanky pajamas, a gift card to a clothing boutique, monogrammed towel sets, or a lush robe.

Entertainment: Treat your bridal party to some fun with gifts that are meant to be entertaining and amusing, as well as unique to each person. Compile a film or music collection focusing on each person’s favorite genre or celebrity. Purchase tickets to a live event such as a concert, sporting event, or theatre production. Give the gift that keeps on giving by purchasing magazine subscriptions for each attendant based on their interests or careers.

Handmade: Go above and beyond by actually making each gift yourself. This is a thoughtful (and potentially cost-effective) way to show your attendants how much you care about them. Some ideas include a personalized photo album or scrapbook, personally designed jewelry, homemade food items, a knitted scarf or hat, or hand-painted artwork, pottery, or ceramics.

Tasty: Gift cards to a favorite restaurant or coffee shop are always great ideas. If you want something a bit more personal, think about each person’s tastes and styles and buy a food-related gift that complements their personality. A French press and gourmet coffee for the caffeine addict, a bottle of vintage wine for the wine snob, a stylish serving platter for the hostess, delectable chocolates for the sweet tooth, a picnic basket for the nature lover, a set of grill tools for the BBQ master, or an adorable apron for the cook.

Personalized: There are a number of gifts that you can purchase and have engraved or embroidered for your attendants. For the guys, go for money clips, cufflinks, flasks, pocketknife, key chain, paperweights, beer glass/travel mug, pens, or pocket watches. For her, think jewelry boxes, charm bracelets, lockets, bath towels, picture frames, vases, or stationery.

Wedding Programs – A Creative Take

Wedding programs have been a part of the wedding day tradition for years.  They give the guests the basic who, what, when and where of the wedding day festivities.  Though couples often spend a great deal of time and money creating the perfect program, we find that all too often, guests grab a program, give a glance, and then tuck it into their purse or jacket pocket, never to look at it again.  Lately, we are loving the idea of programs with a purpose: give guests the basic wedding day details, plus some fun extras to help pass the time between when they arrive and when the bride makes her grand entrance.  To make your program fun, festive, and functional, check out the three ideas below.   (We’ve even included examples for each!)

Give your guests some extra info. Consider this a fun fact guide to the special couple.  Use the backside of the program to include trivia type information about the couple, including where they met, special places they’ve traveled and post wedding plans.

Jordan and Ricky met in their college tennis class.  Ricky took the class to improve his tennis skills, while Jordan took it to work on her tan!

The couple is honeymooning in Jamacia.

The couple has traveled to 9 different countries together.

The couple’s song is “Collide” by Howie Day.

Say something about each other. This option is a great way to give guests a peek into the couple’s feelings about each other, as well as their silly sides.  Ask a variety of questions to the couple, and note each of the partner’s responses to the same question.  You’ll get a combination of laughs, smiles, and heart warming answers.

Describe your partner in one word.

Matt: Encouraging.

Allison: Fun!

What was the first thing you noticed about your partner?

Matt: Her smile.

Allison: His laugh.

What is your partner’s worst habit?

Matt: She is always running late.

Allison: He’s cranky without his morning coffee.

What are you most looking forward to about married life?

Matt: Sharing a life with my best friend.

Allison: Experiencing all that life has to offer as a team.

Let guests hear from friends and family. This program option is a great way to get your family and wedding party involved in the wedding in another special way.  Ask friends and family a question or two about what makes the couple tick.

Why do you think Kristin and Nathan are such a great couple?

Marla (brides mom): They balance each other perfectly.

Josh (best man): She understands his loves for football and even puts up with his ratty old jersey that he swears is good luck!

Kendall (sister of the bride): They both take time to enjoy the little things.

Barry (pastor): They have their priorities set and make time for what is important.

Here is a little info about save the date cards.

Plan a Fun Wedding

What do you want your wedding to be? Romantic? Classy? Elegant? Unique? Boring? Weddings can be a lot of things and unfortunately, fun isn’t always one of them. While you’ll surely be busy and overjoyed the entire day, plan ahead to make sure your guests aren’t overcome with boredom. Here are a few tips of ways to make your wedding fun for everyone:

1.      Strategic Seating: When mapping out the seating chart, for your reception, put some thought into groups or individuals who will really mesh well together. Arrange tables so that guests are either seated with people they already know and like or people you feel confident they will get along well with. Nothing can make or break a wedding reception more than being surrounded by the coolest or lamest people you’ve ever met.

2.      Party Plan: Your day might be packed with activities from dawn until dusk, but think about your guests. What are they going to be doing while you’re being photographed or making the rounds? When planning out the wedding day and scheduled activities, think about it not only from your perspective as bride but also from the perspective of a wedding guest. Make sure there’s food and drinks or scheduled entertainment available prior to dinner if the bridal party will be arriving late to the reception. Wedding Timeline Tips

3.      Exciting Entertainment: There are so many clever and fun ways to keep your wedding guests entertained during the reception. Consider booking a live band for the cocktail hour, renting a photo booth for pictures, or hiring a specialized entertainer that complements your wedding theme (think belly dancers, palm readers, singers, or magicians).

4.      Fun Foods: Nothing will make your wedding more forgettable than serving the same boring and bland meal your guests have eaten at a dozen weddings before. Plot out a unique and delectable meal that will wow guests. Unique food doesn’t have to equal expensive. You can serve fare from your favorite local restaurant, offer delicious comfort food like mac ‘n cheese and fried chicken, or present interesting dessert treats like a make-your-own-sundae bar or a fully equipped dessert buffet. Seasonal Wedding Menus

5.      Lively Locale: Choose a reception site that is fun, distinct, and entertaining. You don’t need to rent a boring old hall. Consider opting for a museum, aquarium, or local attraction to hold your festivities. That way guests can meander around during the reception and entertain themselves.

Photo Booths: Passing Trend or Here To Stay?

In recent years, photo booths have become an increasingly popular addition to wedding receptions. They’re fun, affordable, quirky, and conjure up an air of nostalgia for your guests. Are photo booths here to stay or nothing more than a passing trend? We’re a bit divided on this one and here’s why:

Photo Booth Pros:

1.      Fun: Guests have a great time squeezing in front of the camera and hamming it up with friends and family. Brides and grooms love the silly personality that shines through when guests are given the freedom to snap their own photos.

2.      Affordable: Renting a photo booth is a relatively cost-effective way to entertain your guests and ensure that you capture photos of everyone during the reception.

3.      Thorough: Regardless of how great your photographer is, it’s pretty unreasonable to expect them to snap a smiling photo of every single wedding guest. Photo booths are an excellent way to have a memento from every person who attended your special day.

4.      Unique: Photo booths are a clever way for your guests to leave a message for you as the happy couple. By creating a scrapbook of photos or allowing guests to write messages on the strips, you get a meaningful reminder of everyone who celebrated alongside you.

Photo Booth Cons:

1.      Overdone: Because the photo booth is growing so rapidly in popularity, chances are that at least a few of your guests will have seen it before. Some of the appeal is definitely lost when yours is the third wedding in a year where certain guests have posed for a photo booth.

2.      Boring: There’s only so many ways a guest can pose when crammed into a tiny booth. After a while, looking through filmstrip after filmstrip can become a bit monotonous.

VERDICT: We predict that the rise of Photo Booths 2.0 will be the growing trend in future weddings. What’s Photo Booths 2.0, you ask? Instead of renting a classic photo booth, create your own for guests with colorful backdrops, hilarious props, and more space. Corner off a section of the reception site for your makeshift photo shoots and either install a camera that can be powered by a remote or position a photographer at the spot. Let guests pose with fun and creative props like hats, mustaches, mini chalkboards for messages, and empty frames. It provides you with all the pros of renting a photo booth with an exciting, fresh twist.

Bouquet & Garter Toss Traditions

Much to the chagrin of single people everywhere, two of the most common wedding traditions are the tossing of the bouquet and garter. You know the routine…the single ladies gather on the dance floor and, after counting to three, the bride tosses a small bouquet over her shoulder to the waiting women. Whoever catches it is rumored to be the next to be married. The same thing goes for the garter toss, only the men are the ones doing the catching. Since these two traditions are observed at nearly every wedding, where did they begin?

Both traditions actually date back to the same custom from the 14th century. At that time, brides were believed to possess a surplus of luck therefore everything they touched was filled with good fortune. At wedding ceremonies, guests would actually attack the bride in an effort to steal an item from her. They would clamber around her, pulling at her dress and flowers, in hopes of securing a lucky souvenir for themselves. Many brides actually had their dresses torn to pieces before the end of the wedding celebration by greedy guests hoping to find favor and luck. Not surprisingly, over time this tradition evolved into a more refined, less dangerous custom: the tossing of the bouquet and garter.

Tossing of the bouquet and garter is a more civilized way for brides and grooms to pass their good fortune onto others. It’s believed that whichever man and woman catch the bouquet and garter will be the next to find love, quite possibly with one another.

Wedding Colors 2011

Wedding colors are typically one of the first things that couples focus on nailing down during the wedding planning process.  A couple’s color palette usually serves as the inspiration for most of the big day details.  But with 2010 nearing a close, we can’t help but look forward to 2011 and some of its gorgeous color inspirations.  Here are three of our favorites!

Coffee: Brown tones have been popular in the past few seasons, but typically, brides have paired them with lighter tones, such as Tiffany blue, mint green, and carnation pink.  However, in 2011 brown is hottest when paired with rich, deep tones of purple, emerald green, and mustard.  These color combinations exude a vibe of luxury that seems almost effortless.  Chocolate colored linens provide a beautiful backdrop, but we also love some of the more unexpected touches of the color, using dark brown branches in floral arrangements and coffee beans for a sweet smelling statement and cost effective filler.  And for a punch of fun, we love the incorporation of hints of leopard print!

Gold: To keep dark tones from looking too heavy, the incorporation of a metallic is essential.  Though many brides opt for touches of silver using crystals and pearls, 2011 is shaping up to be the year of glittering gold.  This metallic can be a center point for an opulent affair, or an accent for a sheen that is understated and effortless.  We love gold with anything thing that holds a flame, as it naturally accents the flicker of an almost ordinary candle.  Votive holders, candelabras, and vases are great metallic accents that can translate well into almost any color scheme.

Mauve: Pink is no stranger to weddings, but this bridal favorite is getting a revamp.  Carnation pink and fuchsia are finding a new sister in the color game with the incorporation of this elegant, but unexpected color.  Mauve is perfect for the couple that wants classic with a twist.  It is also a great color for anyone who wants a wedding with a vintage feel.  Paired with brooches, baby’s breath, and glistening metallics, this color is sure to sing at any wedding.  One important planning tip, though.  The word “mauve” means different things to different people, so we suggest finding a swatch of mauve that you love and cutting squares for each of your wedding vendors.  This way your florist, dress designer, and caterer all known exactly what shade of pink you’re shooting for!

Set the Mood With Lighting

Lighting might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you start planning your wedding, but lighting can go a long way in creating a certain mood, atmosphere, or vibe at your wedding. Believe it or not, lighting can make or break the feel of your wedding and reception so be sure to give it some thought. If you have room in the wedding budget, you can actually hiring a lighting expert to design the lighting for the wedding and reception. Often, wedding planners or coordinators have a background in this so be sure to ask yours. Additionally, Music By Design offers multiple lighting options for your wedding.

If you opt to oversee the lighting arrangements yourselves, here are a few helpful tips to consider:

Candles: What’s more romantic and classic than candlelight? Whether used as centerpieces, in lanterns, or on candelabras strategically placed around the wedding site or reception hall, candles can create a cozy atmosphere and wonderful ambiance. Obviously, candles are tricky to deal with outdoors, especially if wind or bad weather may be a factor, so if you plan to have some portion of the ceremony or reception outdoors, make sure that candles are enclosed.

Twinkle Lights: A great way to create a magical atmosphere or fun-filled tone is to string up twinkle lights at your ceremony or reception site. Twinkle lights are also a very budget-friendly option, especially if you plan ahead and stock up during post-holiday sales. Use all-white lights to create a stunning, dreamy atmosphere or opt for colored strands to invoke a more playful, fun mood.

Paper Lanterns: Paper lanterns (or Chinese lanterns) are a great option for creating a lighting scheme for your wedding or reception. White paper lanterns can be found relatively inexpensively at home goods stores and offer a warm, diffused glow that’s stylish, chic, and fun. Colorful lanterns can add festiveness and excitement to a more eccentric or lively gathering.

Projectors: Displaying images or movement with a projector is a unique and clever way to spruce up your reception. Going for a winter wonderland? Create the effect of falling snow on the walls around the room. Hoping to add pizzazz? Project modern images or geometric shapes on the walls or dance floor.

Colored Lighting: By using color-tinted lanterns, candleholders, washes, or gels over spotlights, you can produce a moody atmosphere at your wedding or reception. Reds and ambers create a party mood among guests, while blues and purple hues suggest sophistication and class.

Accent Lighting: Lighting can be a great way to bring attention to certain parts of the room or décor, while hiding others. Dictate where your guests focus their interest by strategically placing lights. Shine lights up beautiful columns or down on the table’s centerpieces to draw attention, while leaving other, less attractive, areas of the room dim so that guests won’t pay them much notice.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of lights and lighting styles throughout your wedding and reception. Create a softer, more romantic mood during dinner, but liven things up later in the night on the dance floor. Lighting can be cost-effective or bank-breaking so discuss your options with a professional ahead of time and do your research!

Smartphone Apps For Weddings

Gone are the days of relying on the primitive method of pens and papers to keep track of your wedding plans and inspiration. Nowadays you need to look no further than your Smartphone for a slew of helpful, wedding-related apps to make your planning go a lot more smoothly. Here is a list of Smartphone apps for your big day:

iWedding: Organize your entire wedding and reception with this comprehensive iPhone app. Keep a running To-Do list, track your budget, administrate your guest list and RSVPs, and collect wedding inspiration.

Wedding911: This iPhone app, provided by The Knot, helps brides-to-be overcome wedding-related emergencies. Users can instantly access hundreds of helpful Q & A’s and advice columns about wedding dilemmas and post their own urgent questions.

WeddingGuest: Keep your invite list organized with this helpful app that tracks and organizes your various guest lists (divided by ceremony and reception) to help you create a comprehensive list of invitees. Each list is also exportable to spreadsheets or plain text files.

BRIDES Wedding Genius: This user-friendly app from BRIDES magazine provides brides with detailed photos of bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, and his & her jewelry, complete with zoom and locate features. It also keeps you organized with to-do lists, reminders, inspiration ideas, expert advice, and customizable folders for various wedding-related files.

Wedding Day: If you’re eager to know the exact time, down to the second, until you say ‘I Do’, then this countdown is the app for you. After the wedding is over, the countdown changes directions, letting you see the exact amount of time you’ve been a happily married couple.

iBridalGown: This app is a shopper’s best friend, helping you keep track of potential wedding dresses after you’ve tried them on. The app stores all the pertinent info regarding each of your wedding gown hopefuls like style, designer, cost, location, and photos.

Wedding Vows: Browse through a diverse collection of wedding vows at any time with this app. Search by keyword or style and save your favorites to a customizable list. Tweak and edit the vows to create your own heartfelt oath for your wedding day.

SHAPE Bride: If you’re trying to slim down or tone up for your big day, this app is for you. Browse through workouts, diet tips, and recipes and record your progress in an interactive and shareable workout log.

iBouquet: Thinking about putting together your own flower arrangements for the wedding? Try a few samples with this interactive app. Choose flowers and colors and arrange them on your phone to view samples of what works and what doesn’t.

The Tuxedo Debate

The Tuxedo Debate

In recent years, weddings have become less traditional and more about couples’ personal tastes and styles.  Brides are wearing more color, venues are becoming more casual, and dance floors are turning into dance parties.  So it’s only fitting that guys’ go-to wedding uniform, the tuxedo, is now being called into question.  Are tuxedos a thing of the past?  Here’s our take on the issue.

A tuxedo is a classic, a gentleman’s uniform.  Grooms have been wearing them for decades, and looking quite handsome while doing so.  There is something about a man in a tuxedo that just says, “wedding.”  So for the traditional man who wants to wear a tux, we say, “go for it.”  You’ll look handsome and timeless, a combination that is sure to leave any bride speechless.  But for those of you who are considering something a little more “outside of the tux,” pardon the pun, we have three great options for you.

A tuxedo with a few personal twists. One of the biggest complaints we hear from grooms is that it is hard to rent a tux that truly fits.  For the most part, rentals won’t fit like a custom tuxedo, and some guys crave a more personalized fit for the big day.  What guys don’t always love is the price tag that comes with a custom tux.  So for these guys, we recommend renting the basic tux pieces (jacket and pants), and buying the rest.  For example, buy your own tuxedo shirt for a fit that is closer to your own.  An hour into the reception, you’re likely to have your jacket off anyway, so a nice fitting shirt is important.  Find a pair of black dress shoes you love and feel comfortable in.  You can re-wear the shoes with almost any suit or office look for years to come.  Also, consider purchasing your own tie for the exact color, style, and pattern that you want.  Look at some of your favorite upscale retailers for a special something that is perfect for your big day.  Also think about incorporating your own cuff links.  Maybe you already own a pair that you love; maybe you have a pair that has been in the family for years.  Or maybe, your bride surprises you with a pair to celebrate your special day together.  Whatever the case, consider having these pieces be your pieces.  You won’t be buying an entire tuxedo, but you’ll be buying enough pieces to make it your own without breaking the bank.

A custom made suit. Many guys think about having a custom tux made for their wedding day, but then think, how many times in the next ten years will I need a tux?  For most guys, we can answer that question for you…a few.  But how about this question: how many times in the next ten years will you wear a classic black suit?  If that number is higher than ten, a custom made suit may be a good choice for you.  After all, you can wear a classic black suit in a million different settings.  And you know what they say?  Nothing beats a man in a well tailored suit.  For proof, just look at James Bond.

A high end suit. Ok, so maybe a custom suit sounds a little bit more appropriate for you.  You think you’ll get your wear out of it, and you’re ok forgoing the traditional tuxedo for your wedding.  What you’re not ok with, however, is the price tag that comes with a custom made suit.  We completely understand, and offer up a different solution.  Look at purchasing a suit that is a little higher end than you’d typically see at the office or as a guest at a wedding.  Consider a suit from a retailer that makes you “ooh and ahh.”  The cut, fit, and details will still be impeccable, but not quite as pricey as having a suit specially made for you.  To keep the cost down, we recommend looking for these beauties at places like Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call or Filene’s Basement.  It’s common to find Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors hanging from the racks at these stores with a drastically reduced price tag attached.  A custom look without the custom price tag.

Wedding Veil Alternatives

Years and years ago, brides wore veils, long veils.  It’s just what they did.  They wore a white wedding dress and veil.  And if you were an early trendsetter who decided to forgo the veil, you probably got a stern look of disapproval from your grandmother.  Now days, things are changing.  Don’t get us wrong, brides still loves veils, veils are still in, and veils are still very gorgeous.  But brides are beginning to expand their bridal headwear options to include baubles, headbands, flowers, vintage hair pieces, and much, much more.  Check out a few of our favorites!

Birdcage veils. For the bride who loves vintage or dramatic glamour, this is a fabulous option for you.  These stunning beauties have a classic elegance to them, while maintaining a sense of no fuss fashion.  There are tons of great options throughout Etsy.  Just search “birdcage veils” and you’ll be met with hundreds of options, each with great pictures and descriptions.  Still not sure you’re sold on the birdcage veil for the wedding day?  Think about using one in your bridal portraits for a dramatic and different look.

Brooches. These sparkly baubles give you the freedom to incorporate as much or as little bling as you want, as brooches come in every possible shape and size.  You can also incorporate hints of your wedding colors into these accessories, without overwhelming your entire look.  Lots of brides also take advantage of brooches as their something old or something borrowed, incorporating brooches from family members or dear friends.  Don’t have any brooches in the family?  Look at antique stores, vintage shops, and estate sales for older finds or scour jewelry shows for newer bling.  Brooches can be incorporated into almost any hair style…up, down, long, short, you name it!

Floral. The idea of flowers in the bride’s hair used to be reserved for destination weddings, but not anymore.  Brides everywhere are looking to nature to add a festive flair to their look.  Simple blooms look best, and white blooms create a look that is both polished and pretty.  Talk with your florist about what blooms might look best as well as what will be in season.  It is important to make sure the stem is long enough to slip a few bobby pins through, and if you would prefer to have your florist wrap a barrette or hair clip with the bloom, most are happy to do that for you.  And for the whimsical bride planning a garden party, why not do a wreath of baby’s breath?  A look fit for a princess, without being draped in diamonds.

Headbands. Once a thing for schoolgirls, headbands have come back onto the fashion scene in a big way the past few years.  Headbands are a fun way, yet hassle free way to add some fun to your bridal look.  And since headbands are so popular, look beyond the typical bridal stores.  Some of your favorite retailers such as Ann Taylor, J.Crew, Nordstrom, and Forever 21, make great headbands.

Custom hairpieces. Can’t decide what you want?  Thinking you want a little bit of everything, or maybe something with feathers, or maybe something you haven’t even actually seen yet?  Having a hair piece specifically designed for you is a special way to make a personal stamp on your bridal look.  Lo Boheme is one of our favorite places for custom hairpieces, as well as other wedding day accessories.  If the price tag is a bit high for you, invest some time looking around Etsy.  There are some incredibly talented people out there, just waiting to make the perfect hairpiece, just for you!

And if you’re not quite ready to give up on the veil, no worries!  Have the best of both worlds by wearing a veil for your ceremony and switching into one of the options above for your reception.  That way you can dance the night away hands and worry free! Wedding Veil Alternatives