Bridal Shower Etiquette

The bridal shower is one of the few wedding-related events that you don’t have to plan, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require any work from you. At the very least your friends and family are probably planning one bridal shower for you, if not several, to equip you with the gadgets and goods you need to stock your new home. As the bride, here are a couple responsibilities that you should fulfill:

1. Register for Gifts: While registering for gifts isn’t absolutely mandatory, it’s a great way to ensure you receive the things you truly need and want for your future home. Your registry should be completed prior to the mailing of bridal shower invitations so your guests have ample time to find and purchase a gift. Here are some great wedding registries. More about wedding registry.

2.      Provide the Guest List: It’s up to you to provide a list of names and addresses for everyone you’d like invited to your shower. Remember, if a person isn’t invited to the wedding, they shouldn’t receive an invitation to the bridal shower. In recent years, it’s become common to include every female who is invited to the wedding on the bridal shower guest list. In reality, it’s totally acceptable and more appropriate to only extend invitations to the wedding party, immediate family members of the bride and groom, and close personal friends or co-workers.

3.      Be Early: There’s nothing more awkward for your shower hostesses than having to entertain a complete stranger (or several) while the guest-of-honor is nowhere to be found. Be sure to arrive to the shower early enough that you’ll beat your guests, but not so early that you’ll interfere with the party preparations beforehand.

4.      Provide Helpful Tips: Nobody wants to deal with a bride who is trying to call all the shots for her own bridal shower, but it is helpful to provide useful information to your hostesses about special needs, dietary restrictions, or allergies of guests. If, for example, you have an aunt who is allergic to nuts, a relative who is handicapped, or a co-worker who is vegan, a simple heads-up is much appreciated so the hostesses can make the necessary arrangements to accommodate everyone.

5.      Open Presents: This seems like a no-brainer, but some brides feel shy or awkward about being the center of attention and unwrapping all of their gifts in front of a roomful of people. It is, however, your responsibility as the guest of honor to open your presents in front of your guests so they can celebrate with you and witness your reaction.

6.      Hostess Gift: A personal card and small gift is the most appropriate way to say thank you to your shower hostesses. You can hand-deliver a gift at the actual shower or mail something a few days later to express your gratitude.

More About Bridal Showers

Choosing Wedding Colors

One of the first decisions that need to be made regarding your wedding is what colors to use. The choice will affect everything from the flower arrangements to the stationery to the centerpieces and everything in between. Unless you have a clear favorite color, selecting the color scheme for your wedding day can be a daunting task. Here are some simple ideas to make the task easier:

1. Seasonal Inspiration: What time of year are you getting married? Deep colors like brown, rust, and burgundy are natural choices for a fall wedding, while breezy pastels work great in spring and summer. Let the natural colors of the season determine your wedding colors. As an added bonus, outdoor photos will look fabulous when you take your cue from nature.

2. Venue Accent: If you have your heart set on a particular location for the ceremony or reception, allow it to direct your color choices. Consider the space where your nuptials or celebration will be held and select hues that accent. If a color is prevalent in wall décor, flooring, or surroundings, be careful not to choose a color palette that will clash.

3. Trust Your Instincts: If the wedding date or location hasn’t been set yet and your wedding is essentially a blank canvas, trust your own instincts or tastes. Are there one or two colors that keep coming to mind? When you envision your big day, what do you see? Go with your gut. In the end, when you look back on your wedding day, you’ll be happy that you selected a color that you love and represents who you are, rather than the current trend of the day.

4. Trust Others’ Instincts: If you’re at a total loss of what you want, browse wedding magazines, websites, and photos to gather ideas. Bookmark web pages or tear out photos from magazines of anything that catches your eye. Once you’ve collected several images, compare them and see if a clear theme or color scheme is present.

5. Flower Power: Flowers are a great way to determine the color scheme of your wedding. If you have your heart set on using a specific bud, let it be the color inspiration. A lot of flowers come in various shades, but stop by the local florist or flip through a floral book and see what draws you in. You might be surprised to find yourself pulled towards sunny wildflowers or dramatic orchids.

6. Create a Theme: Maybe you feel like colors are irrelevant but that a theme is incredibly important. What is it? Do you want an ultra-modern wedding or something romantic? Whimsical or preppy? Once you determine the overall theme, it’ll be easier to select colors to support it.

Wedding Colors 2011

Flower Power

Flowers can add drama, romance, or a simple splash of color to your ceremony and reception. With literally thousands to choose from, flowers can make a unique and beautiful statement at your wedding. Here are a few helpful tips to consider when planning your floral motif:

Book in Advance: Since many flowers need to be shipped from other continents, it’s important that you give your florist ample notice about your wedding and your preferences. Your florist should have at least six weeks to order flowers and have them shipped. As an added bonus, ordering in advance can often save money.

Multitask: Many brides order elaborate flower arrangements for the wedding ceremony with no plans to use them again. When meeting with your florist and brainstorming ideas, think of ways to reuse flowers for both the ceremony and reception. This will save you cash and keep the gorgeous bouquets on display. Arrangements used down aisles can double as centerpieces while larger displays can serve on the buffet table, head table, or alongside favors or place cards.

Trust the Experts: It’s wise of you as a bride to assemble photos and ideas of flowers or arrangements that you like. However, when you sit down with the florist, trust his/her instincts. Communicate your vision, likes, and dislikes but be open to suggestions the florist may offer.

Budget: Flowers are not always cheap so be sure to budget accordingly, especially if you have your heart set on elaborate arrangements and bouquets or particularly pricey buds. Talk to your florist about ways to incorporate more expensive flowers, but offsetting the price by coupling them with less expensive blooms.

Size: Contrary to what they say, size does matter. Large arrangements, bouquets, or centerpieces can be a major wow factor at your wedding, but they can also take away from the day as well. A massive bouquet for the bride or bridesmaids can be heavy, distracting, and can actually hide the beautiful dresses. Tall centerpieces at the reception can overpower an intimate space, prohibit guests from visiting with one another, or obstruct otherwise beautiful views. Elizabeth Wray Designs can help you with these types of decisions.

Accent: Just because you love the color pink doesn’t necessarily mean that every dress, accessory, and flower needs to be in various shades of the hue. Don’t be afraid to use accent colors for a dramatic pop. While the monochromatic look can be stunning, it’s not always easily achieved. When you see your wedding photos, you might be disappointed to see bland bridesmaids whose flowers blend into their dresses. Look through magazines and discuss ideas with your florists to incorporate an unexpected accent color in your floral arrangements.

Flowers By Season

More About Wedding Flowers

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!