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Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding Gift Ideas

Every couple appreciates receiving monetary gifts from their wedding. However, some wedding guests can’t afford a large monetary gift. Here are some wedding gift ideas newlyweds are sure to love!

First Idea: Artist Rendering Of Couple’s Photo

As newlyweds begin their lives together, they will need to decorate differently than when they were single bachelors or bachelorettes. Photos and artwork of the married couple is a great gift. But if you’d like to make the gift more special, get an artist to hand paint or design a caricature of a favorite photo of the couple  or even one of their engagement photos and have it framed. This is a great gift for a range of budgets depending on the size or skill of the art. A meaningful keepsake perfect for the couple to decorate their new home.

Second Wedding Gift Idea: A Funded Date Night

This gift can be done many ways. You could give a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant in a basket with a bottle of nice wine. Give a card written in calligraphy that you will pay for a date night of their choosing and place that certificate in a photo album for their wedding photos. A gift certificate to a spa or hotel is also a great gift for a quick getaway. This is a great way to treat a newlywed couple nomatter what your budget may be.

Third Gift Idea: Special Home Goods or Decor

Most people will not splurge to get themselves nice home decor. Purchasing a special item for the newlyweds’ home you know they’ll love is a generous gift. Maybe you know the couple LOVES Crate & Barrel, but is very frugal. Purchasing them a gift from that store would be a meaningful surprise for them. Home decor or serverware is a great gift especially if the couple loves to have friends over.

Fourth Gift Idea: Contribution To A Charity In Their Name

Some couples have a cause they are passionate about. A beautiful way to support them and their passion is by making a donation to a charity close to their hearts for them. This is especially meaningful if the couple has lost someone close to them from an illness. Some charities sponsor children others rescue animals. Choose one close to the couple’s heart.

Fifth Wedding Gift Idea: Holiday Decor

We’ve discussed how couples love to decorate their new home. Giving decor for each holiday will be a useful and fun way for couples to decorate their new home. Keep in mind which holidays the couple celebrates, or if they have a favorite holiday. If they love Christmas, you can throw in extra Christmas decor. You can also put in holiday glasses, plates, or serverware to accommodate extra people at holiday gatherings.



What physical wedding gifts have you given? As a couple what would be your favorite gift as above? Let us know! For more wedding planning advice, tips, & tricks check out the blog posts below!

Sustainable Wedding Decor

A Sustainable Wedding

A Sustainable Wedding

More and more couples are becoming aware of how their big celebration will impact the earth. This year we will see an in increase in sustainable weddings. While it’s perfectly alright to want a big celebration; it’s also great to keep in mind everything that goes into it. From the caterers to florists, there a lot of waste that goes on with weddings. We have a list of things to consider if you’re going to have a sustainable wedding.

Choose your wedding venue wisely.

A destination wedding means a lot more carbon footprint from airplanes or car rides. Think about who you want to invite and perhaps pick a location that’s not too far for everyone to reduce the amount of travel involved. We’re all about getting married wherever you want, but if you’re thinking of the sustainability, keep travel costs/emissions in mind.

Ask your venues what their processes are for waste.

You have every right to ask potential venues about their green initiatives. How do they dispose of waste? Where do you source your food – is it local? What is your plastic policy? What kind of cleaning products do you use?

Find an eco-friendly caterer.

In this day it shouldn’t be too hard to find a caterer or venue that will be able to create a “green” menu. Ideally they will source local, organic produce and ethically produced ingredients. A vegan or vegetarian menu would also the environmental impact but we’re realistic and if that’s too much perhaps try at least half the menu be vegetarian. Getting your alcohol from local distilleries is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Limit stationary.

You can completely side-step this by going digital and only do email wedding invites, but we love just one statement wedding announcement piece. You can ask that it be printed on recycled paper. It’s also worth trying to get the printer to add extra signage like seating arrangements and directions/schedule to save paper.

No matter how you celebrate your big day it’s possible to have a sustainable wedding! You will not only feel great surrounded by your closest friends and family, but also love knowing you’re helping sustain the environment for future generations.

Slow Down your wedding day

Three Ways To Soak In Your Wedding Day

Three Ways To Soak In Your Wedding Day

The one piece of wisdom everyone tells you for your wedding day is, “It goes by so fast. Slow down and soak it in.” Here are three tips to help you slow down and soak in your wedding day.

1. When you’re getting ready, look in the mirror.

You will only see your beautiful, bride or groom-to-be wedding day face one time. Slow down and take in the memory of your smile on that day. You’ve planned your outfit and/or  hair and makeup for months. You’ve dreamed of your wedding day and/or wedding gown your whole life. Mentally remind yourself during your prep time to look in the mirror. Soak in the significance that today is finally your wedding day. You will be married in a matter of hours. Take a deep breath, this will center you to truly appreciate this moment. Pro tip, it makes a great photo!

2. Walk down the aisle slowly.

The excitement builds up, adrenaline kicks in, but slow down your walk! The moment you see your spouse coming down the aisle will only happen one time. Hold tight to the person walking you down the aisle. Appreciate them being at your side. Remember it. If you are walking by yourself, take a moment to appreciate your confidence and all that has brought you to your wedding day, the best day of your life. As you walk look at all those attending your wedding beaming at your smiling face. Look around at your bridesmaids, groomsmen, & spouse. Soak in their happiness, love, and pride for you.

3. Enlist the help of the wedding day pros!

Build in moments of newlywed time. Your best allies in this are your photographer or wedding planner. Tell them when you want time just the two of you. These pros are organizer extraordinaires! They will ensure you get the perfect amount of time at the perfect time. Maybe you’ll even get a sweet, candid photo op from it. During this time, slow down together. Look at your venue and each other. Become aware this is it your wedding day. It will help you be present and soak in every second of the party.

Your wedding day is one of the only days in your life in which you have all the people who love you in one room, at the same time. Such a once in a lifetime event can be enjoyed to the fullest with simple preparation. Best wishes on slowing down and soaking in every second of your wedding day! If you like these tips, check out more advice from the experts at the Chicago Wedding Blog below!

Daytime Wedding Breakfast Bar

How To Organize A Daytime Wedding

How To Organize A Daytime Wedding

It’s not unusual for couples to want a daytime wedding. But they don’t know how to organize a daytime wedding. How is it different than a traditional late wedding?

First, of course, is to organize the timing. A daytime wedding will usually start at noon or eleven am. That means as a bride, you’ll have to start getting ready pretty early. We recommend giving yourself at least two hours for hair, makeup for you and add another hour for your bridal party. Your dress can go on around 10am for an 11am ceremony. The ceremony will most likely only be an hour at most so it’s customary for a daytime wedding to have a lunch afterwards.

A big difference between a daytime and nighttime wedding is the lack of cocktail hour.

After the ceremony guests are invited to go straight to the venue for the reception. The afternoon reception is sometimes shorter than a night reception with things wrapping up as early as 2:30 or going late as 4:30. You still get to do all the “traditional” things like cake cutting, father/daughter dances, first dance and all the pictures you want! The daytime wedding can be as formal as an evening wedding. You can still ask guests to wear black tie, but don’t expect lavish ball gowns. The afternoon reception can still include the same service as an evening wedding like open bar and linens on the table.

For a daytime reception you can serve anything from a playful brunch to a full meal.

Options like fish, chicken, & beef are options, but usually more appropriate for dinner plates. You could consider a fun waffle bar or omelet station. Drinks should be lighter wines with a lunch menu, or champagne cocktails, Bloody Marys and spiked coffee with brunch.

After a daytime wedding is over you are not obligated to entertain guests.

We do like the idea of suggesting activities for your out of town guests to participate in. It could be anything from museums to concerts or just a fun park. You can choose to continue the wedding festivities with just a few family members and close friends after a daytime wedding as well! Who says there’s a limit on how long you get to celebrate your big day?

Unique Desserts

This year we are seeing quirky and unique desserts offered at receptions! Think donut wall, dessert bar or make your sundaes. We will take a look at some of the most popular options for your big day!  Desserts can offer you the opportunity to show off your style too.

  1. You can use a desserts bar to showcase your flare. If you and your partner want to celebrate your heritage why not do a nationality themed sweets table? You could fill it with your choice of native foods. For example you could do a Mexican Pan Dulce desserts bar where guests are free to take home the delicious pastries too. Giving guests mini bags/plates to take home is a great idea to thank your friends and families for coming.

2. We are loving the donut wall this year too! You can create the wall however fits in the space you have. You can use simple cardboard with pegs to hang the fried treats on or have them stacked. It’s also fun to have other desserts around the donuts like cupcakes or individual cake pops.

3. You can still have your cake too! The wedding cake is, of course, a special piece that shouldn’t be over looked! You can set the wedding cake in the middle of the desserts table so that the other sweets will make it the center of attention. We love the idea of serving pieces of the main cake alongside other options. That gives your guests lots of choices. So, if some of them prefer mini pies or candy to cake then they have a way to enjoy their sweet tooth!

Top 5 Reception Songs

Top 5 Reception Announcement Songs
Your reception songs selection is a fun part of the wedding planning! The reception is a party and the grand entrance is the first chance you get to express the vibe you want your wedding reception to be. The grand entrance can either be high energy or low key. For the bridal party grand entrance songs, ask yourself: Do I want this to be humorous? What special song will signify my transition into a marriage? What type of energy do I want my grand entrance to entail? Do I want the grand entrance to be romantic,high energy, or low key? Remember that your choice of reception songs may be a small thing but it can contribute much insetting the tone and the atmosphere of your wedding reception.
1. “Light it Up” by Major Lazor
2. “All the Way Up” by Fat Joe
3. “Desiigner” by Panda
4. “This is What you Came For” by Calvin Harris
5. “Cant Stop the Feeling” by Justine Timberlake
For your bridal party entrance music, you can also change it when you and your groom walk into the reception hall for an added‘grand-entrance atmosphere’. Remember too that if you need to walk down a flight of stairs going to the reception hall, you may need to have a slow song accompanying you both and change it to a more upbeat one when you reach the party crowd. Indeed, the entrance songs for your wedding reception depends largely on the venue as well as your preference.
Reception Entrance Songs for the Bride and Groom
1. “Marry You”Bruno Mars
2. “Beautiful Day” by U2
3. “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce
4. ” Let’s Get it Started”by Black Eyed Peas
5. “So Right” by Dave Matthews Band
You can also make your reception songs into a remix or have a medley of good reception entrance songs as the bridal party enters the hall. A good DJ can do this for you.

Kid Free Zone

Kid Free Zone
Sometimes a wedding is for adults only. A kid free zone just makes it easier on the bride and groom and the place hosting the event. If an invitation says to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Schmoe, that does not mean Mr.and Mrs. Joe Schmoe and Sally, Suzy and Sam. We should assume (rather, we should know) that kids probably aren’t invited to this wedding since their names are not specifically address on the invite. Similarly, if you, your significant other, and your son are addressed and invited to attend a wedding as guests that does not mean your son’s girlfriend is granted a free ride to the party.
Make it clear to all others, definitely on the invitation and verbally if necessary, that sorry sir but no kids allowed.Weddings aren’t a throw together high school bash, but instead the result of months and sometimes years of planning and need I point out the obvious, they cost lots of moolah.  Perhaps money was tight, or the guest list was already over capacity and the groom had to invite his stepsister’s husband. Whatever the reason, respect the bride and groom’s wishes and don’t try to smuggle in your kids like it’s no biggie. Once they get there, they are guests and will need somewhere to sit and something to eat. And people will notice. Remember being a guest at a wedding is not a right but a privilege.

 

There is always another side too. Here’s the scene: a 20-year-old single mother are invited to your college roommates wedding. She has a six-year-old son who Grandma and Grandpa can’t possibly babysit and doesn’t see any other alternative to the situation. What to do? She should call the bride and explain her situation. Ask her if there are any exceptions she’d be willing to make. Some people don’t want kids at their wedding because kids can be sticky, disruptive, and loud, etc. However, and this is a big however, most brides don’t want kids at their wedding simply because they said so. They’re the bride, that’s what they want, and there doesn’t have to be a reason.  Whatever the issue do it with class and dignity and if all else fails, everyone usually understands that moms have to stay at home with the kids. Unless you’re in the wedding, this is just as valid an excuse as the bride requesting her wedding be a kid free zone.
Consider a Sunday Wedding

Consider a Sunday Wedding

Consider a Sunday Wedding

Consider a Sunday WeddingSunday Fundays aren’t just for drinking anymore. Some couples are utilizing this day to forgo tradition and have their wedding on a Sunday. We used to see few of them, but now it’s common.

Traditionally, Saturday is the most popular day for weddings. But competition for sites and services is making so-called “off peak weddings” more attractive. Even if you don’t marry in June or October, traditionally the two most popular months, a Saturday wedding can be hard to arrange. Many wedding ceremony and reception sites are booked a year or more ahead of time. So, what are some of the reasons that more couples are choosing Sunday as their wedding day?

One, they may not be able to get their favorite wedding location on a Friday evening or Saturday because it is booked-up on their chosen wedding date. Popular locations do book up early. So if you are determined on a particular site for your wedding and its booked Friday and Saturday, there’s a chance you can get it for Sunday.

Of course, this might not be true if your favorite wedding site is a church. It’ll likely be difficult to use the church since church services will be taking place that day.

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Consider a Sunday WeddingKelly Vanderploeg Photography

A second reason couples are choosing a Sunday wedding is because it’s often cheaper. Some wedding venues offer special packages on Sunday. Some photographers do the same. Not everyone will be able to give you a special rate for a Sunday wedding, but it never hurts to ask. The venue itself, if they offer a special price on Sunday, can mean a big savings.

To sum up, when you are deciding on a wedding day, don’t automatically nix Sunday. It could be a better alternative to a Friday evening wedding, or even a Saturday wedding. It could save you from the disappointment of not getting the place for your wedding you always dreamed of. And, maybe you’ll save enough money on the wedding to have a nicer honeymoon!

Wedding Guest List Tips

Wedding Guest List Tips

The wedding budget will dictate how many people you can invite to your big day. It is important to lay out an estimate for a sense of framework. Creating a rough idea can really be complete chaos. Should you invite your closest friend from work? Are your younger cousins under 18 invited if you weren’t considering inviting children? Are your parents closest friends allowed to come? I can almost guarantee that these questions WILL come up.

Here are five tips to stick with when creating your rough draft of the guest list:

1) Invite people who are important to your fiancé and you

Remember this day is about the two of you- not your mother-in-law playing out her fantasies of having a do-over of her wedding day. This is a special day and in that day you should surround yourself with the people who are the most near and dear to you. If that means inviting your third cousin on your Dad’s side because you two are very close, but not your cousin on your Mom’s side- then so be it.

Wedding Guest List Tips

2) Don’t let your parents or in-laws dictate your entire guest list (even if they are footing some or most of the bill)

In continuation of the statement above, remember this day is about the couple getting married. Even if your in-laws and parents are assisting with paying for the wedding that does not give them free reign to go buck wild and invite their long-lost coworker. Respectfully tell them that they cannot invite people without checking with either of you first.

3) Create “A Team” and “B Team” lists

If your wedding venue requires a minimum food and beverage amount it helps to have a back-up list of people so you can hit the minimum. Let’s say you want 200 people to attend. On average, statistics say that 10 to 20 percent of guests do not show. If you are counting on 200 people, it’s nice to have a back-up list to work from.

Wedding Guest List Tips

4) Divvy the list evenly between both sides

This should be self-explanatory. It’s not exactly fair if you have 124 people on your list, and your fiancé only has 76.

5) Skip your co-workers. If you don’t hang with your colleagues outside of the office, leave them off the list. If you can though, invite your boss or assistant.

My rule of thumb is if you have worked anywhere less than one year, you can disregard the rule about your boss or assistant.

This is isn’t the last time you will look or revise your list, but it’s a start. Hopefully these five tips will save you your sanity!

Wedding Venue Cheat Sheet

Wedding Venue Cheat Sheet

Finding the perfect wedding venue can be daunting. However, with the help of online search engines, wedding Websites and magazines, along with referrals (word of mouth) things are much easier nowadays. Sites like WeddingWire, The Knot, and Style Me Pretty offer pictures and lists of local venues that come highly recommended. Who doesn’t like to drool over gorgeous pictures of dreamy and whimsical weddings all while venue scouting?

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Wedding Venue Cheat SheetPhoto by Tom Nicol

Once you narrow down your list from online shopping and magazine scouting, it’s nice to visit these top locations in person to get a better idea. When you do visit these locations in person, please be prepared. The following questions are meant to be a guide for newly engaged couples:

  • How does the place charge—per person, by the hour, or flat fee? What is the payment plan?
  • Does the location provide everything we’ll need (tables, chairs, dinnerware, linens, stage for DJ or band, dance floor, tent, additional lighting, etc.)? Are there up charges for these items?
  • How many people does it seat?
  • Does the style of the space match the look we’re going for?
  • Does the decor coordinate with our color scheme?
  • Do we like the view and the surrounding area? Are their windows?
  • Where does the band/entertainment set up?
  • Is there an echo in the room? This will affect how the band/DJ will sound.
  • Can we see sample floor plans and/or visit when the room is set up for a wedding, so we can see what everything looks like when it’s set up?
  • Is in-house catering available? Can we bring in our own caterer?
  • Does the site have a liquor license? Can we bring in our own alcohol? If so, what types of alcohol will be served, and is there any cap or limit?
  • Is ours the only reception scheduled that day? If not, will there be another one during our reception?
  • Will we be sharing cocktail hour space or bathrooms with the other guests? Will we be able to hear their music during our reception?
  • Will the manager be present for our reception?
  • What are the cancellation policies? Is the deposit refundable?
  • What’s the staff to guest ratio?
  • How many hours is the site available? Are there charges if the reception runs over?
  • Is there free parking? If there is valet parking, what are the rates and expected gratuities?
  • Is parking free for vendors?
  • What is the charge for vendor meals?
  • Will there be coatroom and restroom attendants? Servers? Bartenders? What are the charges for each?

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Wedding Venue Cheat SheetAllori Photography

Happy venue shopping! Make sure to ask plenty of questions, and to get everything in writing in your contract when you are ready to book the perfect site.