Archive for July, 2009


budgetweddingtoronto

Sharon Naylor, author of over 30 wedding planning books, has just published the perfect book for brides and groom looking to save money on their wedding expenses. “1001 Ways to Save Money … and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” is filled with expert advice and insider tricks to show you where you can make cuts to your wedding budgets, and how to make them. We asked Sharon to give us her top tips on creating a wedding budget and where you can really save some money. Here’s what she had to say:

How does one create a wedding budget?
The best plan for creating a wedding budget is taking a series of important steps before making your first plan or purchase. You can’t create a realistic budget, one that will allow you to choose most of the elements you want for your big day, without knowing approximately what things cost in your area. For instance, you don’t want to create a budget and then get stunned when you find out that photography packages start at $5,000 in your area when you only budgeted $1,000 for that. Do plenty of research, invest your time in meeting with all kinds of experts, getting printed price lists, and really knowing the ballparks of what everything costs. Then sit down and look at your available funds to figure out what kind of wedding you will have.

Now there are two more steps here:

  1. Talking with parents to see if they will be willing and able to help pay for the wedding. (Not all parents can split the bill or foot the bill these days. Many offer to pay for the flowers or the bar or the honeymoon, etc.)
     
  2. Make a Priority List of which wedding elements are important to you (catering, entertainment, gown, and photos) and doing the math to decide you’ll spend, say, 75% of your budget on those things, while spending less on (or doing without) the others. It may take a few steps and some extra time, but it’s so worth it to create a good, flexible budget that keeps you reined in, yet still able to spend a little more than you planned for here and there without a ton of guilt. The best budgets are just there to guide you, not make you feel guilty or stressed … they’re designed to keep you from losing control.

 

Is there a time of year when you can really save money?
Absolutely! January through April is the new Hot Season when it comes to looking for lower-priced packages in every area of the wedding industry. Mid to late-April is my own favorite time of year for a low-cost wedding, since you get the start of gorgeous spring weather for one-third the cost of a September or October wedding (which are now two of the priciest times of year). November is also a well-priced month, but keep in mind that many families have their vacations already planned, or would never dream of missing a family Thanksgiving elsewhere. Just be cautious about planning your wedding during your region’s rainy, stormy, icy, snowy or hurricane seasons just to save a buck; it’s not worth grabbing an insanely low price package when there’s so much weather threat to your day and to your guests’ traveling safety.

What’s your number one wedding dress budget-shopping tip?
Get on the mailing lists of several bridal gown shops, so that you get advance, VIP notice of upcoming and last-second-planned designer trunk shows and sample sales. At these events, you can find gowns for up to 75% off, as well as shoes, veils, headpieces and accessories for up to 70% off! You should also sign up at your favorite designers’ Web sites as well, since they sometimes plan last-minute trips through your area and their staff will e-mail you to invite you to the sale.

Are there any items a bride should splurge on?
Really good shoes. Just like with the gown, it’s all about how you feel as well as how you look, and you’re going to be in those shoes all day and all night. Comfort is key. One of the new trends is for the groom to buy the bride a fabulous pair of designer heels as a wedding gift, because she may already have jewelry or wish to borrow from her mom. Grooms say their brides swoon over a great pair of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos. Wearing a pair of phenomenal designer shoes will make you feel like a true VIP on your wedding day.

Are there any items a bride should not cut from her budget or not look for a cheaper alternative?
The food, the food, the food! While there are lots of ways to get more catering for your budget dollar, it’s never a good idea to underfeed your guests. Guests get very angry when you cheap out on the catering, especially since they have gone to so much effort to be there with you on your big day. The true gift you’re getting is your guests’ presence at your wedding, so feed them well, be extravagant, devote a larger portion of your wedding budget to unique and delicious food stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, a fantastic sit-down meal and desserts.

The second item to invest well in, and not attempt to replace with a cheaper alternative, is your photographer. Yes, they’re expensive, but the good ones are truly worth it. Those gorgeous photos get more valuable over time, and this is not a day to trust to an amateur or the cheapest “expert” you find. Research well, ask friends who they hired, and invest in the best package possible. It’s worth every penny to get such masterful images of your day.

Is there a tactful way to ask mom and dad to help out?
Most parents expect to play a role in contributing to the wedding, so the best way to initiate this particular conversation is to make diplomacy your number one goal. Plan a get-together such as brunch or dinner at your place, if possible, with each set of parents separately. Here’s the ideal approach: “Mom, Dad, we’re so excited to share the wedding plans with you! We’d love to have you join us to tour potential reception sites and taste wedding cakes, and we definitely want to hear how you’d like to contribute, what you have in mind, what you’d like to work on.”

Mom and Dad should be told your initial wishes about the wedding, such as the number of guests, time of year and formality, so that they know the scale of the wedding (and also so that they don’t try to pressure you into having the wedding of their dreams!). With open communication, parents can tell you how much they were planning to contribute, or they can ask you to help them figure out what a wedding costs in your area. You’ll get much better results when you invite parents to participate and allow them to state what they’re comfortable with, show them your priority list and share your excitement about the wedding planning process than if you just tell them what your dream wedding is going to cost or try to guilt-trip them into contributing more than they can afford. (NEVER say your future in-laws are giving $X,000 — keep all donations discreet.)

Now if you initially told your parents that you’re paying for the wedding but time has passed, expenses have piled up, and you now need parental help, it’s fine to be direct: “We really wanted to foot the bill ourselves, but even with our modest plans things have mushroomed to greater expense than we expected. So if your offer to help with a financial contribution is still on the table, we’d love to take you up on it.” Being direct like this is always going to improve your odds of success.

Check out some more of Sharon’s books (and her blog) at her Web site, SharonNaylor.net.

Source: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/32189338/ns/today-today_weddings/

black and white wedding dance

We’re not saying we don’t like these songs (okay…we don’t like the "Chicken Dance"), but we think it’s time to reconsider whether these really are wedding music essentials. Here are eight songs you might want to add to your "do-not-play list."

1. "YMCA" — Village People

Why to Skip It: The fact that everyone knows the words, everyone knows the dance, and that this song fits lots of occasions — between innings at a baseball game, for instance — does not automatically qualify it as a must at your wedding.

 

2. "Chicken Dance"

Why to Skip It: At a wedding, everyone’s dressed to the nines and feeling festive. Is this really the best time to flap your arms like a chicken in front of that cute bridesmaid/groomsman/new spouse? Didn’t think so.

 

3. "Stayin’ Alive" — Bee Gees

Why to Skip It: There aren’t too many people who know more than one line and one dance move to this song — leave "Stayin’ Alive" to the Saturday Night Fever reruns.

 

4. "Every Breath You Take" — The Police

Why to Skip It: The Police are legendary, but the tune is a little high school dance-ish, and the line "Every move you make…I’ll be watching you" is a little stalker-ish.

 

5. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" — Bonnie Tyler Why to Skip It: This song is worth skipping if only to avoid any guest from reenacting the profanity-laced rendition made famous from Will Ferrell’s wedding in Old School.

 

6. "Macarena" — Los Del Rio

Why to Skip It: You may know how to do the dance — but do you really want to? Besides, everyone has a few certain relatives they’d rather not see get down with that hip swivel move.

 

7. "My Heart Will Go On" — Celine Dion

Why to Skip It: We’re not passing judgment on Celine Dion, but Titanic propelled this song into the realm of romance cliche. Besides, remember that Leo died in the movie — a bit tragic for a wedding.

 

8. "Mony Mony" — Billy Idol

Why to Skip It: Not sure what Billy Idol is singing in this song? Most other people don’t know, either, and when that’s the case, a good 10 percent of sing-alongers will find a way to say something objectionable.

Source: http://ww2.7online.com/Global/story.asp?S=10660629

Summer weddings are becoming even more popular among the beach crowd. Sun worshippers delight in using the sun, surf, and sky as a backdrop for their important day. That is certainly true for the summer of 2009.

Those who can’t afford or simply don’t see a need for a lavishly extravagant wedding, often opt to keep it intimate and personal. Sometimes that means simply inviting a few family members and friends to share in the event. But beach weddings can also be lush for those who want a celebration as big as their love.

Today’s bride is no longer, pardon the pun, married to wearing white. Elegant ivory, soft eggshell, and tantalizing taupe and beautiful pale pastels will be popular. Wedding party members may be dressed in deeper shades of the bride’s own color or they could go even bolder in complimentary shades of blue, green, or orchid.

The beach bridal dress may be less detailed with regard to beading and lace but it will definitely have its own appeal in beautiful lightweight silks and satins and gossamer chiffons that whisper softly in the summer breeze. Off the shoulder, strapless, or Grecian style dresses will ensure that every bride looks her most beautiful on her special day.

The bridal party may wear dresses that match one another or feel free to choose their own based on the bride’s basic design and color scheme. Even the groom and his groomsmen may be allowed to go light and free; opting for stunning dress shirts and pants instead of suits and tuxedos.

Of course the more traditional bride may still want a certain amount of pizzazz even on the beach, adding beautiful accessories like hats and gloves to polish off the women and lightweight jackets with or without ties for the men.

However, beach weddings aren’t for everyone and the summer bride feel free in choosing an alternative venue. Art galleries, museums, and lavish hotels will be popular choices. So are weddings at home, in the garden or park, and at churches, community centers and halls. The rule is there are no rules anymore. Brides and grooms are free to let their imaginations soar to build the perfect wedding day that suits who they are as individuals.

There will be formal, semi-formal, and casual weddings galore this summer. It’s all about the couple, their families, and their lifestyles. Anything goes. But more brides than ever may cut back on the extravagance because of the waning economy, carefully choosing only those things they consider absolutely necessary.

Summer wedding dresses for 2009 will be romantic and nature will play an important part. Floral designs in lace, beading and accents will be found in a lot of today’s gowns. But that’s not all. Grecian and Roman elegance in stunning refined cuts will also popular. Ruffles and netting will abound for some brides while others opt for something sleek, smooth and oh so sexy. Ruching and pleating will be a part of many of today’s favorite dress choices and extravagant beads, sequins, and jewels aren’t going away either. Dresses may be long, short, or anywhere in between. They could hearken back to the days of Victorian modesty or let it all hang out like the free love 60’s. Not everything will be all white here either. Colored beads, stones, ribbon, and accents will make today’s wedding dresses very unique.

Some brides will choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s dress instead of buying a new one for two primary reasons. Number one, it is a part of their commitment to going green. Secondly, the vintage look is hotter than ever before. Halter, spaghetti strap, and strapless gowns will remain popular and be accompanied not only by plunging necklines but plunging backs as well. And don’t forget the one-shoulder goddess gowns that have become so popular the last couple of years. A few will also still feature the mermaid or fishtail look as well. Look for whites, to be certain, but also look for soft champagne colors, barely there pinks and cool platinum.

With venue and dresses under control, it’s time to move onto things like wedding rings, cakes, and flowers. Look for my article "Completing the Summer 2009 Wedding Preparations."

Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-1116-Norfolk-Beauty-Education-Examiner~y2009m7d2-Wedding-trends-for-summer-2009

The recession can make it hard to focus on the bride when the bill for the wedding is looming.

But while today’s bride is more conscious of the wedding budget, she’s still planning the ideal day, said Sue Diehl, owner of Visuelle Productions, which produces bridal shows in Green Bay and other Wisconsin cities.

"I think that brides today are not giving up their dreams of their weddings because of the economy," she said. "They’re just taking that same appropriated money and putting it in different locations."

For example, if a bride wants a big, fancy cake, she might spend more money there and less on flowers, Diehl said.

Brides seem to be sticking pretty tight to their budgets, she said, and while they’re not likely to cut back too much, they’re also not splurging like they used to.

"It seems overall, worldwide, brides are not looking to cut their budget," she said. "… But now they’re sticking to budgeted amounts, doing more unique things, so they can still fulfill all the dreams they’ve had."

Wedding experts say there are a number of things couples can do to get the most matrimonial bang out of their buck. They include:

  • Checking out bridal shows. They can be a great way to find everything you need with one-stop shopping, Diehl said. Whether it’s cakes or dresses, bridal shows typically offer a wide selection for wedding planning that can fit any budget.
     
  • Finding a low-cost location. A lot of brides are looking to destination weddings to save a little money, said Lisa Breault, bridal consultant and assistant manager of Elaine’s Wedding Center in Green Bay. Don’t be fooled — destinations do not have to be exotic and tropical. They could be as close as your own backyard.
     
  • Deciding on a different day. Couples don’t have to get married on a Saturday and more are starting to look to other days when prices may be a little bit less and venues may not be quite as busy. Plan a wedding that skips the meal — either earlier in the day or later at night — and you’ll cut your costs, Breault said.
     
  • Considering taking on some of the wedding-related duties yourself. If you have the time, make your own invitations, decorations and save the date notes. A number of brides are e-mailing invitations these days as well, Breault said.
     
  • Looking online for deals on favors, bridal party gifts and even dresses. But it’s important to be careful and read the fine print and find out ahead of time about return policies.

LOCATION:  Carnival Glory  |  DATE:  August 22   GUESTS:  About 20

Our first Bride On The Brink for July will set sail August 22 for a Caribbean cruise with her groom-to-be, a few wedding guests—and it’s also her groom’s family reunion! Talk about a family affair!

Q. When did you start your wedding planning?

A. I became engaged in March 2008. We had already planned since last March to go on a cruise for my fiance’s family reunion in August 2009. I wasn’t sure when I was going to set a wedding date, what type of wedding I wanted to have, and whether it would be in Mississippi, where I’ve lived for the past 12 years, or New York, where my sisters and I grew up, or North Carolina, where my parents live. I actually started planning in May 2009. (Wow! Talk about waiting until the last minute! S) Once we decided the cruise would be a great place to have the wedding, it was a matter of [making arrangements.] We’ll set sail for a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and the Bahamas.

Q. So what’s the most important thing on your mind right now?

A. Right now, I’m just hoping we have good weather and no hurricane. Oh, and I hope the H1N1 flu doesn’t strike.

Q. What’s been the most stressful or difficult part of preparing for your wedding.

A. I like to think I’m “too blessed to be stressed.” Fortunately, the stress is minimal since the [cruise line] is taking care of all the details. The most difficult part was trying to coordinate with my fiance’s family members who had been booked on the cruise for months, since it’s their family reunion. I’ve had to work with the airlines to rearrange [our] flights, which we booked in January. Luckily, I got a sympathetic airline representative in customer service who was happy to help.

Q. Would you have done anything differently?

A. I would have booked [the cruise] earlier.

Q. What’s been the best part of your wedding planning?

A. My fiance is a stickler for being on time and setting deadlines. And he’s great with finances. With that in mind, I knew I had to set a budget and stick to it to keep the harmony. I’m happy that my fiance was okay with having a wedding during his family’s cruise.

Q. You really waited until the last minute to start your wedding planning. Do you have any last-minute details to take care of?

A. My sisters and I are still shopping for bridesmaids dresses. I ordered my own cute cake topper…and plan to order some gifts for the wedding party, like personalized candle keepsakes and mints. I’ll also want to order personalized napkins and a few other favors.

Q. How has the current economy affected your wedding plans?

A. The economy has had an impact on my wedding in a number of ways. This is the second wedding for both of us. We both lost our spouses several years ago to cancer. As far as the wedding, neither one of us was trying to recreate our first wedding experience. So we’ve saved a lot of money by not having a traditional wedding with dozens of guests. Originally, I wanted to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon. But, I’m happy we get to turn a family cruise into our honeymoon. By deciding to have a shipboard wedding, we’ve been able to pay cash for everything in advance and won’t have any credit-card debt when we come back from our honeymoon. I’ll still have a few more bells and whistles, like a limo to take us to our ship. My parents and 13 of my fiance’s family members will go on the cruise, but because of the tough economic times, my sisters and aunt will not be able to come on the cruise. But I’m happy they will be part of the wedding ceremony and reception. I still plan to have an informal celebration/reception when we return for other friends and family who weren’t able to attend. I am having a knock-off designer wedding dress made for under $300, but I won’t know if I’ve made a good choice or not until I receive it. (I’ve secretly fantasized that, as a back-up plan, first-lady Michelle Obama will let me borrow her inauguration gown.)

Q. Any words of wedding-planning wisdom for your best friend?

A. I would tell my friend that, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR WEDDING. If you can afford to have the wedding of your dreams, go for it. If money is a concern, there are always less-expensive options to make your wedding a memorable one without breaking the bank.

Watch for the next edition of Brides On the Brink…30 Days and Counting! It’s for brides, it’s about brides, and most importantly, it’s by Brides On the Brink who are one month away from walking down the aisle.

Become One of our Brides On The Brink!

If you’re about one, two or three months from tying the knot and would like to be a featured bride, please click here to e-mail your contact information and wedding date. I’ll send you the questionnaire to fill out and return. For passing on your wedding wisdom, featured brides will receive a $25 gift certificate* for MyWeddingFavors.com, where you’ll find fabulous wedding favors, wedding accessories, bridesmaids’ gifts and so much more!

* For shipping only within the US and Canada.
Source

usedweddingdress

Cheap wedding dress bargains are available to brides who start early and do their research.

As a bride-to-be actively avoiding many decisions about my own pending nuptials (despite the many excellent cheap and frugal wedding tips shared by Consuming Interests readers months ago), let’s talk about how an organized non-procrastinator should search for a gown.

First, consider what you’re paying for. Check out what the authors of the Bridal Bargains book had to say about wedding dresses — given the price range, you’d expect things like high-quality fabric and materials such as lace, right?

At the very least, you’d want properly sewn seams. A good friend of mine recently ordered a dress from a popular retailer and found multiple problems: an exposed metal zipper instead of the covered, hidden one pictured in the catalog, poorly stitched seams that bunched in the back and even an unevenly cut hem.

Next, think about how long you’ll wear this dress. I like to justify expensive purchases by dividing the price by the number of times I’ll wear an item. That won’t work for wedding gowns.

Wedding dresses are also cumbersome heirlooms. Some people may preserve their gowns in acid-free boxes, which is a nice tradition if you live in a home with lots of storage, that you never plan to leave. Otherwise, it will be one more thing to carry around as you move through life. And forget about saving it for your kids. Your offspring may not fit into yours or may prefer a different style for their gown.

Finally, don’t get pressured into making a deal. With all the pressure to find the "perfect" dress, it’s not uncommon for women to find themselves buying more than one, because the style of the dress doesn’t match their venue or because they make a hasty decision at a sale that they regret later.

With that in mind, here’s some great options for purchasing an inexpensive wedding dress that you will love:

Start early.  (And be more decisive than I am). If you’re ordering from a store, they often require more than four months to get the dress, and then at least two months alterations. Order with less time to spare and you may get hit with rush charges even though your event is still months away.

And if you’re considering alternative sources I’m suggesting below, the hunt may take more time.

Pick your venue and wedding date BEFORE you buy a dress. You might have to alter any Cinderella fantasies depending on your wedding location. For a beach wedding on a Caribbean island, you might not want something with a cathedral-length train. Or, if you’re getting married in the winter, you might consider a down quilted dress or one lined in fleece (kidding, kidding). P.S. No matter where you’re getting married, don’t pack a wedding dress in your checked luggage, as one bride learned the hard way.

I’ve also heard some ceremony sites place restrictions on what is appropriate attire for a wedding (for the bride and groom, at least). I don’t know of any that do that, but it’s worth checking before you plunk down a deposit on anything risque.

Consider some alternative sources of wedding attire, including:

* Sales in retail shops. Most bridal salons only carry a few samples of the dresses from the lines they carry. If you have at least a vague concept of the style of dress you want, check for trunk shows, where designers come to a store with more examples that you can often purchase at a discount on that day.

Sometimes stores also sell the samples themselves, which is fine if the dress is within alteration-range of a perfect fit. Check for stains, rips or other wear-and-tear problems — if it’s something minor it might still be worth it.

* Check department stores and other unexpected sources. A good tip for destination wedding dresses that can travel well, or others looking for more modern or non-traditional styles: check out special occasion dresses at department stores such as Bloomingdale’s or Neiman Marcus. Also, some bridesmaid’s dresses can be ordered in wedding colors such as white or off-white, but designers might charge a special fee for that privilege. Rrr!

Unfortunately, Isaac Mizrahi no longer designs wedding dresses for Target. Ann Taylor sells bridesmaid dresses and accessories, but a spokeswoman told me they may offer "wedding dress alternatives" in the future.

* Consider "pre-owned" dresses. The Wall Street Journal had a recent story about bargain-hunting brides buying their gowns from preownedweddingdresses.com. Now, "pre-owned" is a big category, which includes not only dresses that have made it down the aisle at least once, but also some brand new dresses that are new-with-tags (NWT).

Take advantage of others’ indecision. Classifieds at sites such as Weddingbee.com, Encore Bridal or smartbride.net are full of stories from "two-dress brides" (and even three-dress brides) who changed their minds and found a different dress. You can also buy wedding dresses on Craigslist and bid on wedding dresses on eBay. (Remember how we showed you how to set up an RSS feed for a Craigslist search?)

I recently talked to a woman who purchased a dress at the Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides, where dresses cost between $250 and $699. She ended up buying a different dress that she felt was more appropriate for her reception location — and is now looking to unload her lovely ballgown before she moves.

Goodwill stores were a good wedding dress source for one Boston Globe reporter. I checked out a number of local Goodwills and was impressed by the extent of the formal wear selection, although there were fewer recent wedding dresses than I had hoped. I’m guessing it’s luck of the draw — the best dresses probably sell quickly.

The savvy shopper at Good Morning America also recommended going to thrift stores and consignment shops for wedding dresses. The Surprise Shop in Towson, which raises money for Trinity Episcopal Church, now has a number of wedding dress samples available on consignment for a third of their original price, as well as accessories such as gloves and veils. Newbury and Smith in Mount Washington had two wedding dresses when I visited, and Regal Rags in Annapolis had a few, too.

Other options: Anyone with experience ordering direct from manufacturers in China, renting a dress or having a dress made, please share advice below. You could also look at wedding gowns on Etsy. One bonus: if you have a dress made to your measurements, then hopefully you save on alterations down the road.

(photo: Patrick Smith/Baltimore Sun)