Sunday, November 30, 2014

WEDDING NOTES - Who is Walking You Down the Aisle?

While tradition says that the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father who then "gives" her in marriage to the groom, today's brides have many options.

And while the bride's escort is not considered an attendant, this person is a very important part of the ceremony and clearly a part of the bride's life.  The person chosen could be a father, a step father, a brother, an uncle or even a mother, aunt, sister, cousin or friend.  Whatever role that person plays in the bride's life, this function in her wedding is very important and walking with the bride down the aisle on the way to her new life deserves remembrance.

Many jewelers are creating a special lapel pin or brooch for presentation to that special someone.  It shouldn't be elaborate or showy, but it should be tastefully done perhaps with a monogram and date or with a symbol of the wedding - bells, doves, a flower or the bride's initials - there a many options.  The purpose is to say thank you and give that person a keepsake that speaks to the importance of what that person has meant in the bride's life.  It can be given at the rehearsal dinner if attendant gifts are being given then, or saved for a few moments before the processional begins.  As they are lining up, the bride pins this memento to her escorts lapel or gown with a special hug and heartfelt thank you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WEDDING NOTES - What About Attendant Gifts?

What is traditional?  Jewelry the female attendants will wear in the wedding and engraved money clips for the groomsmen are the usual fare.  But what about bridesmaids who have chosen different style gowns in the fabric and color the bride has chosen?  While one strapless version can handle the necklace, maybe the jewel necked version can't.  Brides may choose to give the wedding jewelry as a gift to their attendants because they want the symmetry of everyone the same, but brides may give more thought to a gift that is more personal and says thank you for being in my wedding and an important part of my life.

We are seeing more brides - and grooms too - putting real thought into their attendant gifts.  And we are seeing more individual gifts that reflect that person's tastes and preferences rather than a one size fits all gift.  Granted, giving individualized gifts takes more time and thought, but can reflect a deeper appreciation for that person's role in your life and your wedding.

A cookbook or monogrammed measuring cup for someone who likes to cook, a novel by a favorite author for a passionate reader, two tickets to a movie theater with a gift card for dinner or drinks at a favorite hangout, a clutch handbag for the" fashionista", electronic gear for the gizmo fanatic or a special bottle of wine for the aficionado are all options to consider.

Wedding party gifts don't have to be "wedding" focused, nor is there such a thing as a "standard" gift that is expected.  These are treasures you have found to say thank you to people who matter to you.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

WEDDING NOTES - Ringing News

For many if not most brides, a diamond engagement ring with matching wedding band is the ultimate.  But with all of the options available to today's bride, more and more creativity is being seen.

Many jewelers are able and willing to create one-of-a-kind designs for their bridal customers who want their matching bands to be uniquely theirs.

Some jewelers are creating specialty rings that combine birthstones and diamonds and others are specialists in creating new designs from heirloom or vintage pieces.  For some modern brides their "something old" may well be the diamonds or other precious stones that have come down from family members.  Combining stones from both mothers' wedding bands for the new bride is a powerful symbol of family unity.

Some couples are looking at ceramic rings.  Many modern jewelry designers have created stunning designs in ceramic that are shatter and scratch resistant, lightweight and functional. 

Of course, there is a vast market for the traditional simple band of silver, gold or platinum chosen to offset the drama of a gorgeous diamond engagement ring.

Whatever the couple chooses, there has never been a wider selection or more creative options available.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WEDDING NOTES - How Many Attendants Should I have?

Like many aspects of wedding planning, there were once rather rigid guidelines that ruled the how and the who of weddings.  Some experts used a formula that said there should be a bridesmaid and usher for every 45-50 guests.  Fortunately, that has long been abandoned.

Bridesmaid numbers depend on who is close to the bride and who she wants to stand up for her.  Likewise the groom is freer to select who and how many of his friends to include.  But when selecting attendants, remember an important guideline - how many can you afford to have?  Every attendant is entitled to bring a guest so realize that every one you have means two for the reception per plate charge.

Once you've decided on a number, the bride and the groom should prepare a priority list of attendants.

You'll need to consider each other's families in creating the selection list.  A bride may wish to include the top tier of her sorority sisters leaving no room for the groom's sisters or the groom may wish to have a group of fraternity brothers plus his own brothers.  Once a number of attendants is agreed upon, something has to give.

What happens if the bride has eight friends she can't live without in her wedding party, but the groom - an only child has only 4 close buds?  If your budget can handle the expense, there are always ways to handle an unbalanced wedding party.  For the processional, one groomsman can escort two bridesmaids - one on each arm.  Or if symmetry is important, forget about male/female and just go by the numbers.  You have 12 attendants total and there will be 6 on each side of the bride and groom - 2 guys and 4 girls on each side.  This works especially well in wedding photos.  The result is balanced with color and diversity on each side of the bridal couple.

It is your wedding day and common sense and good manners should take precedence over the "rules".

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Your Paper Trousseau

Here is a quick review of all the items that make your wedding paper trousseau.  Whether you choose to include all the items or not is purely your choice, but it is good to consider each item and then include or reject it according to your needs.  What is important to remember is that the way you present yourself on paper will give your guests a clue about your wedding.  You can spend a small fortune on elegantly printed paper stock if you wish, but you don't have to.  Most experts will agree that aside from the invitations and thank you notes, all other items are nice but optional.

The full paper trousseau can include the following:  invitations, place cards, programs, thank you cards, announcements, save-the-date cards, escort cards, RSVP cards, reception cards, menu cards, cocktail napkins, cake napkins, dinner napkins, printed hang-tags for favors or personalized favor boxes, personal letterhead which includes your name, address, email, phone number(s) and wedding date for all vendor confirmations and a guest book.

Generally all printed items carry through the theme of the wedding with similar print styles and colors.
You can arrange with the US Postal Service to purchase wedding themed postage stamps for the mailings.  There is no surcharge for official stamps.  Or you can arrange with a commercial printed to have custom printed stamps that reflect your choice of design but expect to pay an additional charge for customization.  You can order custom sealing stickers for invitation envelopes as well.

Paper trousseau items can be lovely, so if there is where you choose to invest some funds, that is your choice.   For more information, call 605-348-8816 or email

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wedding Dollars-Spending Wisely

National statistics show a wide disparity in the cost of a wedding.  It all depends on where you live.  According to PARADE magazine in 2013 gown costs ranged from on average - $804 in Alaska to $3,027 in Manhattan.  That should be no surprise, just as it shouldn't surprise the couple that weddings require cash outlay.  What does surprise some couples is how fast and easy a budget can be exceeded if one is not careful.
Try to avoid the mindset which says, "I'll only do this once so I'll charge it now and pay it off later".  Once the wedding budget has been established, spending wisely and saving widely should be the guide.
·         Some couples start with a wedding piggy bank.  Get a large one (without the easy access of a cork in the bottom) and resolutely empty all the change into it every day.  If you have to smash the pig to get at the $$ you are less likely to spend from the pig.  Pulling out the cork or plug to grab a handful of change is too easy and too tempting.  With two people depositing change every day and an engagement of say 6 months, the pig should be full.  It won't pay for everything but the symbolism and daily ritual will keep you mindful of your budgeting vows.
·         Some couples consider a wedding day loan.  With interest rates fairly low, it might make sense for some.  Couples with adequate financial resources take out a wedding loan for convenience rather than necessity.  It makes it clear how much $$ is to be spent.  However, if one is taking out a loan out of need, it may not be a great idea.  It is a bad way to begin married life together, especially if either the bride or the groom or both are also handling paybacks on college loans.  Before a couple considers a wedding day loan, they should think long and hard about its impact on their lives.
·         One of the best ways to manage those wedding dollars is to establish a separate wedding planning account.  Whether it is funded by the couple or with parental contributions, that account is a good way to manage the funds.  It is too easy to get off budget when expenses are paid by a variety of credit or debit cards.  A wedding only account makes it clear where the money is going.
·         More and more couples are considering wedding insurance with covers accidents or damage at the ceremony or reception, and provides protection on a wide range of events like damage to the wedding gown or the failure of vendors to honor their commitments.  Investigate the various options covered and vet the company before signing on the dotted line.
For more information, call 605-348-8816 or email

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tipping for Wedding Services

Who should I tip and how much is a usual question our consultant's are asked.  Our advice is preceded by a reminder that tipping should always be about a job well done.  Consider this basic premise when allocating dollars for tips and increase or decrease from the following guidelines based on the service provided.  For simplicity sake, it is usually best to entrust tips to one person - the bride's father or the best man on the wedding day and to have the amounts prepared in advance and in labeled envelopes for distribution wherever possible.
Here are some service providers and suggested guidelines for gratuities.
·         Hair stylists - 15% -20% of the fees, plus 5% for the shampoo assistant.
·         Makeup artists - 15% to 20% of fees
·         Valets - $1 -$2 per car to be divided among all valets
·         Coat Checkers - $1- $2 per coat to be divided among all checkers
·         Chauffeurs - 15% - 20% of transportation bill
·         Catering staff - up to 20% of catering bill to be divided among all staff
·         Bartenders - 15% to 20% of bar bill if tipping by guests was permitted as in a cash bar, or up to 30% if guests were not permitted to tip.

For officiants at ceremonies and musicians/soloists check with your ceremony site contact about the usual fee.  If they say "free will offering" here are usual guidelines. 
·         For civil ceremony officiates - $50 - $75 - and for religious officiants the same.  The best man can handle distribution of these for the couple.
·         Ceremony soloists or pianist/organist - $35 to $75

Even florists, photographers, videographers, bakes, seamstresses may sometimes deserve tips under extraordinary circumstances.  Remember to include a line item in your wedding budget for tips to insure that no one will be forgotten.

For more information, call 605-348-8816 or email

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Name Changes

Don't forget to add this task to your to do list.  There are lots of places that need to know that your name has changed (or the groom's name if he is taking yours or you are joining your last names with a hyphen).  Be smart and wait to make the changes once your post wedding address is firmed up.  It's simpler to change both names and addresses at the same time and far less confusing for the organization involved.

Places requiring an update on your personal identification are: Social Security Administration, your state drivers license or ID card, voter registration card, credit cards, military ID, passport.
You will need to notify  these organizations and businesses:  banks, mortgage holders, landlords, employers human resources department, health care providers, insurance companies, utilities, US Post office, attorneys, licensing boards and any clubs to which you belong.

The following documents will also need to be updated:  your will, any deeds you have for property owned, any vehicle registrations you have and any legal contracts that bear your signature.

We also recommend that you obtain a few certified copies of your marriage license.  Social Security will need a copy and other entities might.  Just have copies available in case they are needed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Announcements and Gifts

WEDDING NOTES - Announcements and Gifts
We are often asked questions by guests as well as brides.  Brides want to know when to send announcements rather than invitations, or even if they need to send announcements, And guests who have received an announcement want to know "Do I have to send a gift?"
The answer to both is "You don't have to do anything".  However, announcements are a very nice way to inform distant relatives and friends who would love knowing about your wedding but would be unlikely to attend the ceremony.  If you are planning a smaller wedding, announcements may also be sent to people you see on a regular basis but who would not be included in the guest list.
Announcements are mailed immediately following the ceremony and should never duplicate the invitation list.  People get one or the other.
Since wedding announcements do not obligate the recipient to send a gift, brides should feel free to share their good news with everyone they care about.
On the other hand, receiving a wedding invitation does have other implications.  Technically, receiving a wedding invitation to the ceremony only does not obligate the invitee to send a gift.  It is obvious that guests send wedding presents to any couple they care for, but if a person receives an invitation to both the ceremony and the reception but declines to attend, he/she is officially relieved of the obligation to send a wedding present.  If one does attend, it is expected that a gift will be sent.

If you have questions about your invitations or other aspects of your wedding, phone 605-348-8816 or email

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Murphy's Law

WEDDING NOTES - Double Check
As wedding planners, we know that "Murphy" is often an uninvited guest at weddings.  Murphy's Law is an adage in Western culture which states "If anything can go wrong, it will."
We don't know the original Murphy but believe strongly that the wise bride and groom will use a wedding coordinator to check and double check all of their wedding plans, contractors, vendors, venues.  To help prevent Murphy’s appearance at your wedding we suggest that you have your coordinator call every vendor, caterer, bartender, florist, baker, musician, photographer, limo driver, hair and make-up specialist, as well as both ceremony and reception sites to make sure that everyone has the correct date, time of arrival and address.
Contact your officiant to confirm plans for the rehearsal as well as the wedding.
Make sure that all parties, including the parents of young attendants have the same information.
Make sure that you have all appropriate cell phone numbers for all wedding party members, contractors and participants.
Review your guest list and contact anyone who has not responded.  Bridesmaids and/or family members can help with this contact list if the list is long.  Politely state that you have not heard from them and wanted to make sure that they received the invitation. 
Confirm the final count with your caterer.

Scuff the soles of your wedding day shoes, charge your cell phone battery, double check your "emergency" kit, pick up your gown, make sure all the groomsmen have tried on their tuxes and then relax.  Enjoy your day!   Sorry you couldn't make it Murphy!!! If you have any questions phone 605-348-8816 or email

Friday, May 30, 2014

Church Guidlines

WEDDING NOTES - Church Guidelines
We find that many brides are not aware that most churches have policies in place that govern what can and cannot be done at a wedding.  While your individual church will have its own rules and regulations, in general most churches have these guidelines in place.
Typically a church will not allow permanently attached furniture to be moved.  No thumbtacks or nails can be driven into the woodwork nor can anything be used that might deface it.
Saucers or mats must be placed under all palms, greenery or floral arrangements that rest on the floor/carpeting or are not in waterproof containers.
All arrangements for music, ceremony and decorations must be submitted in advance and are subject to the approval of the officiant or the wedding coordinator for that particular church.
Floral arrangements or candles that must be taped to each pew are likely to be forbidden.  The best rule to follow is that decorations should be kept to a minimum so as not to detract from the dignity of the sanctuary.
The church may require that its organist be engaged.  It may require that no photos -especially flash photos - be taken during the ceremony.
In order to streamline procedures on the ceremony day, many may require that all fees be paid prior to or at the rehearsal.
It is expected that no trash or personal belongings be left behind in the building.
If you have not been provided with a printed set of guidelines for the place you have chosen for your ceremony, be sure to ask for clarification.  In popular months, certain weekends will likely host multiple ceremonies so churches have a right to expect cooperation from all of their wedding parties.

We are here to help you with all of the details of your wedding. Phone 605-348-8816 or email to let one of our experienced consultants review your list with you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Brides often ask what they should include in their wedding programs and some ask why they even need them.  If your wedding is a small intimate family only affair, perhaps you don't need one.  But if your wedding is large enough that guests may not know all of the members of the wedding party, be sure to have a program available. 
The basic reason to have a program is to be sure that your guests can easily follow your ceremony and know the names of the members of the wedding party.  Using the point of view of the guests who will use the program should guide its organization.  Whether you have chosen a very elegant and formal program or a one page guide the purpose is the same. 
The first listing is the obvious - the names of the bride and groom, the date, the time and the location followed by the order of events in the service.  Next listed are the names of both sets of the parents, attendants, musicians, soloists, readers and the officiant.  The wedding party should be listed in the order they walk down the aisle.
The names of the composer of the music that is being used should be included.  If a song is to be dedicated to a deceased loved one, the program is where it is listed.
If the marriage is intercultural, it is helpful to describe the different religious or ethnic rituals that will be incorporated into the ceremony and why.
If a special prayer(s) is being included, it should be printed in the program.
Some couples include a thank you to their guests for being at the wedding and witnessing the vows.
Programs may be a simple as a bi-fold, computer generated creation or as elaborate as a ribbon-trimmed booklet filled with photos of the couple.  Whatever its format, its purpose is to make guests familiar with the participants and the order of service.
Order at least one per couple attending the ceremony.  It is usual to ask relatives or friends who are not actively participating in the ceremony to hand out programs to guests as they enter the church or ceremony venue.

Phone 605-348-8816 or email for more information.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Your Checklist and Helpful Hints

WEDDING NOTES - Your Checklist and Helpful Hints
With years of experience in helping brides create their perfect day, we have developed a list of "things to do" as you plan your wedding.   Here are some of the key areas to remember.
 Beyond the obvious of determining your date and time, we urge you to book the church or wedding site before your reception area.  Be sure to read the church policies concerning weddings to have a clear understanding of what is and is not allowed.  If you are planning an interfaith marriage, be sure that it is allowed in the church you have chosen and that the officiant will indeed perform the ceremony.
Get every detail in writing.  That includes expected delivery dates for your gown and the bridesmaids as well as written contracts that spell out all details with all vendors.
Double/triple check on details for the reception, photography, flowers and musicians if you are not employing a wedding planner.
While they are adorable, rethink your desire to use very young children in your ceremony.  If you decide to use them, be prepared for the unexpected.  They can either complement your ceremony or cause such a commotion that guests remember the child's behavior and not your lovely ceremony.
If your bridesmaids are all to be dressed alike, be sure that all of the dresses are ordered at the same time from the same bridal shop because dye lots can and do vary.
To share your happiness and good fortune, arrange to donate leftover food from your reception to a food shelf or "community cafe".  Have someone in charge of taking flowers to a nursing home or hospital if they are not being left at the church for its Sunday services.
Ask a good friend or relative and her husband to be your official reception hosts.  Parents get busy, after ceremony photos can take longer than expected and the wedding party may be delayed.  Having official hosts whose names are listed in the programs, lets you relax and know that your guests are attended to and made comfortable.
This is likely to be the biggest party you will ever give.  With some strong pre event planning it can go off without a hitch.  Phone 605-348-8816 or email for the best advice, review your plans with one of our experienced wedding planners.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Children as Guests

WEDDING NOTES - Children As Guests
We find that some brides do want to include children as guests at both their wedding ceremony and reception.  There may be large families on the guest list from both the bride's and the groom's side.  To exclude the children would not be considered.  If that is true for you, know that children can add an extra dimension to the festivities if you make plans to incorporate their interests. 
If children are welcome at your wedding and reception, be sure to let the parents know they are invited by including their names on the inner envelope of the invitation.  Some brides create a separate reception invitation to the children.
To entertain the children, plan to set up a separate reception area.  Include an arts and crafts room with crayons, markers, glitter and glue.  Be sure to provide smocks or aprons to protect their clothing and hire a sitter or two depending on the number of children expected.  The children should make special cards for the bride and groom.
Some brides arrange for a special kid friendly menu served at a separate area in the dining room.  They may eat with their parents if that is preferred or at special kids section in the reception area.  Some brides have their caterer prepare a special box lunch which contains kid's favorites
After the card project and the food, provide a TV with age appropriate videos and/or hire a clown or magician for entertainment.  Some parents may want to include their children in a portion of the wedding dance segment.  If yours is an evening wedding with a dance, you may wish to be sure that the children's area has cots or sleeping bags available for children who may be there through the evening hours.
Children can have a good time and free their parents to participate if you spend some time creating a special area and activities especially for them.

Phone 605-348-8816 or email  for more good ideas for children at the wedding.