Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Rehearsal Dinner

WEDDING NOTES - The Rehearsal Dinner
The sense of relief and relaxation at the rehearsal dinner helps to make it special.  You've been to the church or ceremony venue.  You've been "on stage" and all the actors know where they are to stand and what they are to do and when they are to do it.  Your costumes are ready.  You know your lines.  The decorations are due the next day and someone will see to them.  Now it is time to relax and enjoy the good company of family and friends at your rehearsal dinner.  As one consultant terms it, "The rehearsal dinner is the perfect informal foil to the formal wedding day."
With good food and conversation, some toasts and some surprises, you can have your rehearsal dinner wherever you wish.  Traditionally it was hosted and paid for by the groom's parents, but as with many wedding related activities, traditions change.
·         The invitation list for the rehearsal dinner includes the "must haves" - the wedding party and their spouses, all parents and the officiant plus his or her spouse.  If your budget allows you may include some "maybes".  Some couples include out of town wedding guests if the numbers work.  Remember, it is about thanking those who help to make the wedding day special.

·         While they aren't required, assigned seats at the dinner are helpful.  Guests don't have to wonder where to sit and with whom, and you can assure that everyone feels welcome and relaxed.  It also insures that some guests are not left alone at a table.

Here are some budget saving ideas for that informal gathering.
·         Hold the dinner at home instead of a restaurant.
·         Serve a more relaxed menu like pasta instead of a formal meat course like the one planned for the next day at the wedding reception.
·         Serve wine and beer instead of cocktails.
·         Serve home baked desserts instead of the chef prepared goodies being served at the reception.
·         If the dinner is at a home, and the weather is nice, move it outside and think about using paper plates and plastic utensils instead of china and silver.
·         This is a perfect time to give favors to all in attendance.  They should be seen as a way of saying thank you.  Likewise with toasts.  A toast is about caring and it should be shared not just directed at the bride and groom.  A rehearsal dinner is all about saying thank you.

One other thought:  You don't have to have a rehearsal "dinner".  You can have a rehearsal brunch, or lunch or breakfast.  Organize your rehearsal day any way you wish.  If a morning rehearsal works better for the church, for you and your families and attendants, do it and follow it with a picnic lunch.

For more ideas phone 605.348.8816 or email

Guys Night Out

WEDDING NOTES - Guys Night Out
We are learning about some alternative ideas for the bachelor party thrown for the groom.
There are stereotyped groom's parties that we see on TV and in films, but there are alternatives that can be fun for the groom and his friends without the specter of having to claim "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas".
·         Instead of bar hopping to the same old favorites, why not try an evening exploring tap rooms?
Whole phenomenon of craft beers and their popularity offers an evening of "something new"
and still fun.  Arrange for a limo to drive the group or an absolutely trusted "designated" driver.
The best man can organize the evening of craft beer tastings, spicy nibbles topped off with a late dinner.  Check with tourist information centers in your town for possible tours that are all planned and waiting for the groom and his guests.
·         Many groom's parties have been built around major league baseball, soccer or football.  But more and more we are seeing groom's parties built around their own "game" day.  A round of golf is a logical choice, but what about doing miniature golf, followed by an hour or two at batting cages, followed by bowling, brews and supper.
·         Instead of heading to Vegas what about a weekend of fishing or camping closer to home?  Many areas in the country are also close to an Indian owned casino that could arrange a fun evening of dinner and blackjack or slots.
·         A few brides have suggested that instead of separate bachelor and bachelorette parties, that they combine them.  Both groups can play 9 holes of golf or attend a concert or amusement park if there is one close by.

For more ideas phone605.348.8816 and

Consider Brunch

If you have a dream venue for your wedding in mind but find out that it is already booked for your choice of wedding date, consider making a time adjustment and rather than a sit down dinner at 7 PM ask about availability of brunch at 11 AM.
A brunch wedding is perfect for the smaller wedding.  It usually starts at 10 or 11 AM and runs for about four hours as opposed to the typical evening wedding that can go for 6-7 hours. 
You'll pay less for food and for cocktails and if your wedding includes a plane trip to the honeymoon destination, you can easily fit it all in.
Menus are easily planned, the decor /flowers are simpler - no less elegant - just simpler.  Table linens, silver, china, can be chosen with care to reflect your color theme.  Consider the brunch buffet with waffles, custom omelettes, quiche, ham, bacon.   Instead of wedding cake have the caterer construct towers of doughnuts or mini caramel rolls.  Some brides choose French toast sticks with maple syrup.  Consider hors d'oeuvres like mini "pigs in a blanket" or toffee-dipped bacon kabobs.
It is unlikely that you will host an open bar at a brunch but you can do personalized bloody Mary bars or mimosas and champagne.
As one bride said about her brunch wedding - "it's more about the guests and a lot less pressure".  Everyone likes breakfast foods, and a daytime celebration can be very special.  For many couples, brunch is the answer.

For more ideas phone 605.348.8816 or email

An Unforgettable Date

WEDDING NOTES - An Unforgettable Date
Here's an idea that guarantees that no one will ever forget your anniversary.  Plan your wedding for New Year's Eve!  Think about it!  There are plenty of pluses to consider.  Everyone you know is in the mood for a party - it is almost impossible to get through the holidays without someone or several some ones asking you about your plans for New Year's Eve.  A wedding invitation takes the pressure of planning off everyone.  Six - nine months ahead of time they know where they'll be on NYE- Celebrating with you!
Know that it is critical that you book your venue early.  It's a big party night for most restaurants, hotels etc.  Some places will require booking a year in advance.
When you plan your budget, consider upping your bar allocation.  People will drink more on NYE than they are likely to do at a June wedding.  It is after all the biggest party night of the year. 

Plan more food than you normally would.  Plan heavier appetizers for your cocktail hour.  Plan late night snacks like sliders and fries and be sure to send guests home with a small bag of treats or nibbles like doughnut holes, cookies.  Champagne is the order of the day.

It would be ideal to schedule your reception at a hotel and block a group of rooms for guests who don't want to drive home that night.  For those guests who prefer to head home, arrange for a fleet of cabs to be on call to insure your guests reach home safely.

Since NYE is the "glitzy" night, your decorations will be a no brainer.  Balloons, sparklers, hats and horns will take care of the party's shine.  Your guests are more likely to dress up for the event.  It is the one night that guests think of wearing something special.  

Picking out bridesmaid's dresses will be easier - glitz, bling and shine should be the theme for each of them

Consider having a different twist on the guest book.  Add a space for guests to write New Year's resolutions or special wishes for the new couple.

It's your party, your wedding and your new life together - all reasons to really celebrate.

For more ideas phone 605.348.8816 or email

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What if IT is canceled?

WEDDING NOTES - What if IT is canceled?

No one wants to ever talk about the possibility of a wedding being canceled, but for a variety of reasons it can - and does - happen.  There are guidelines we can share with brides to handle this difficult time in as pleasant and civil manner as possible.  Everyone involved finds planning a joyful occasion but no one ever plans to cancel or postpone that event.  Our experienced consultants can ease the stress and guide your moves to handle the situation with dispatch.

If a formal wedding is postponed or canceled after the invitations have gone out, all invited guests must be notified as soon as possible.  When time permits, this is best done with printed cards, rush-ordered from your stationer.  Here are some samples:

·         If there has been a death in the family, the card would read:

Mrs. George Franklin Davis

regrets that the death of

Mr. Davis

obliges her to recall the invitations

to the wedding of her daughter

Saturday, the second of April


An invitation recalled in this manner just indicates that the wedding will not take place as originally planned.  It may take place as a small family ceremony since a large wedding may be considered inappropriate.  The couple may wear their formal attire but they will usually have honor attendants only.


·         If a wedding is postponed and a new date is set, new invitations may be sent out with this copy:

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas John Smith

announce that the marriage of their daughter

Carolyn Jane


Edward Patrick Murphy

has been postponed from

Saturday, the 11th of May


Saturday, the 25th of May

at four o'clock

Grace Presbyterian Church



·         If the wedding is canceled, invitations need to be recalled promptly with an engraved or printed card which reads:

Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Benjamin Clark

announce that the marriage of their daughter

Eileen Marie


Harold Robert Smith

will not take place.


If time is short, invitations may be recalled by personal notes or phone calls.  Notes should be patterned after these formats and signed by the person issuing the invitations.   Phone calls should be made in the name of the bride's parents.  Reasons other than death or illness in the family are not usually mentioned.


·         What do I do with the gifts I have received?

When a wedding is merely postponed, send an announcement to all the guests, keeping the presents you've already received.  When a wedding is canceled, however, every gift - even those that have been monogrammed - must go back to the person who sent it.  A note expressing gratitude and explaining that the wedding will not take place should accompany the gift, but you do not need to give a reason for the cancellation.


For more ideas call 605.348.8816 or email OR

Wedding Customs

WEDDING NOTES - Wedding Customs

We are frequently asked about the origin of many of the customs that are apart of today's weddings.

These customs make weddings unique and special and offer the comfort that comes from replicating many of the actions that generations have made traditions.


*Why a wedding ring?

The whole idea of a circular shape with no beginning and no end has been the symbol of unending love since the early Egyptians.  Early rings were made of hemp or braided rushes which had to be replaced frequently.  Early Romans made their rings out of iron which symbolized the durability of marriage.  Eventually, gold became the standard for wedding rings.  Today the symbolism remains while the ring itself may be made from silver or platinum or onyx in addition to gold.


*Why the third finger of the left hand?

The most widely accepted reason is that ancient peoples believed that the vein in the third finger of the left hand ran directly to the heart.  In the Middle Ages, during the ceremony, bridegrooms placed the ring on three of the brides’ fingers in turn to symbolize the Trinity.  The ring was left on the third finger and had become the tradition.  However, in some European countries, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.  Many Greek women wear their ring on the left hand while engaged, moving it to the right hand after they are married.


*Why does a bride carry a handkerchief?

Not all brides do, but if a bride chooses to, it will be a lucky sign.  Early farmers thought a bride's wedding day tears were lucky and brought rain for their crops.  Later, a crying bride meant that she'd never shed another tear about her marriage.  Today's brides embroider their initials and wedding date on a lovely hanky, then pass it on to the next woman in the family to marry.


*Why rice and old shoes?

In the Orient, rice means, "May you always have a full pantry".  In other cultures, it is a symbol of fertility.  Today, rice remains a token of a life of plenty.

A red slipper thrown onto the roof of a house, indicates that a honeymoon is in progress.  Among early Hebrews, sandals were often exchanged as evidence of good faith in the sale of property.  Today, throwing a shoe after the bride or tying shoes to the back of the couple's car signifies the recognition of a new family unit.


For more ideas phone 605.348.8816 or email OR



Bridal showers have a long tradition.  They are parties with a purpose!  They are given to help the couple outfit their new home or assemble a trousseau.  It is a vestige of the age-old dowry, or wealth which a woman brought to her marriage.  It is generally given by women who are good friends of the bride-to-be, sometimes by a relative or most often by the honor attendant or bridesmaids.  They may be given by relative of the groom's family and are a nice way for the bride-to-be to meet members of her new family.

While at one time showers were given to help the new couple furnish necessities, today's showers are given around a variety of themes.

·         Kitchen showers are probably the most popular because of the wide range of items that nearly every couple can use.  One variation on the kitchen theme asks each guest to bring a favorite recipe along with one item needed for its preparation (e.g., a flour sifter with a cake recipe).  Many hostesses sent out uniform recipe cards in advance so they can be assembled in an easy to use box or notebook.

·         For an around-the-clock shower, each guest is assigned an hour of the day and then brings a gift to match along with a note explaining why that gift was chosen.  There are many possibilities:  an alarm clock, coffee mugs, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, a casserole dish for dinner, a bottle of wine for the cocktail hour, comfy slippers for evening lounging.

·         A service shower is perfect for the couple that seems to have everything.  Guests pledge a way to help in the future - a catered dinner for two, an offer to paint the living room of the house they're redecorating, Saturday morning yard work, a weekend at a guest's lake cabin.

·         An office shower could be perfect for the woman with a busy career:  a leather-bound weekly planner for the home, engraved stationery, attache' case, books, gift certificate for a Kindle, a week's worth of dinners for two prepared, frozen and clearly marked.

·         Women only showers are naturals for lingerie, sewing accessories, closet and/or drawer organizers, gift certificates for beauty salon or masseuse services.

·         Couples showers suggest his-and-her tools for household maintenance, plants, wines/liquors, sporting goods and games.


For more ideas call 605.348.8816 or email OR

The Legalities to Remember

WEDDING NOTES - The Legalities to Remember

As lovely and personal and exciting this wedding is going to be, the wise couple remembers that it much more.  Your very personal and beautifully planned event is also a civil event in which a new legal entity is created.  There are a number of factors to consider once the bride and the groom are pronounced man and wife.

·         The prenuptial agreement - While it may not be romantic to consider one, there are circumstances in which a contract concerning expectations or property can be very helpful.  These agreements give the couple an opportunity to cover certain circumstances.  For example, it is a second marriage for both and each has children from a former marriage, an agreement might protect the rights of each partner's children, or the parents of the bride or the groom may be giving the couple a valuable antique.  The family may wish to have this heirloom remain in the family in the event of divorce.  A prenuptial agreement may state how you will handle savings or how household expenses will be shared.  Such agreements should be well thought out and reviewed by a lawyer, signed by both parties plus witnesses and notarized.

·         The marriage license -   Know that each state has its own requirements for blood tests, waiting time and age of consent , so do check with public officials for all the details.

·         The marriage certificate - Following your ceremony, your witnesses and the officiant (and in some states the bride and groom as well) will all sign the civil certificate.  Some couples may include the signing in their ceremony (a Quaker custom).  Your church or synagogue may also issue its own certificate.  Generally your officiant will file your marriage certificate with the proper authorities and you'll receive a copy some weeks later by mail.

·         Changing your name -Once married the bride can choose to use her husband's surname, continue to use her maiden name, or combine the two to suit the couple's choice.  If any change of name is done, you'll need to record than name change on all legal documents and papers.  Here are a few:

*Driver's license                                               *Car Registration

*Passport                                                            *Social Security card

*Insurance Policies                                         *Will

*Voter Registration card                               *Checking Account

*Savings Accounts                                           *Credit Cards

*Stock Certificates                                          *Employee I.D. cards

*Post Office


For more ideas phone 605.348.8816 or email OR

Tuesday, July 7, 2015



Thanking those special people in your life who have stood up with you - parents, family and your wedding party attendants - deserve a special thanks for being an important part of your special day.

Knowing that you and your finance are not the only ones who will look fabulous that day, makes this gift idea so special.  Attendants have their hair done, their makeup done and are looking good.  Why not make this day last for them.  Your parents and the groom's parents are formally attired.  Dad is in a tuxedo!!!  The men in the bridal party are looking fine. Your gift to each of them?  A professionally done individual photograph taken by your wedding photographer.  Make it a head shot of each person.

Chances are many have never (or at least recently) had a professional head shot photo taken of themselves.  Why not provide them with one on a day they are likely to look wonderful.

Photographers are unlikely to care what they are directed to shoot.  Make arrangements with him/her well in advance of the wedding.  These photos will likely be shot prior to the ceremony.  Advance notice will enable the photographer to plan time and place for the photos (against a plain backdrop- not the church).

You can plan it as a surprise or alert the wedding party in advance.  Your choice.  But gifting people who matter to you with a professionally done formal headshot for passports, ID cards or social-networking pages is a great gift and one to be appreciated.  It is a lovely way to say thank you for being part of our important day.

For more ideas, phone 605.348.8816 or email us at OR

WEDDING NOTES - Guest Replies

WEDDING NOTES - Guest Replies

When selecting items for one's paper trousseau, very few brides neglect to order reply cards and envelopes.  These have become "essentials" when attempting to calculate the number of guests to expect at the reception.

However, having sent them out with the invitation package, know that there will always be a number of guests who never bother to reply.  Your choice is to go with some industry average that calculates that up to 10% of invited guests won't attend and won't let you know they aren't coming so you can plan accordingly or you may wish to contact those "silent" guests directly and ask if they are planning to attend.

Some brides elect to make the calls themselves, others involve their mothers in the contacts or the groom's mother as well. As Martha Stewart says, "Once the R.S.V.P. deadline printed on the reply card is come and gone, you are well within bounds to start reaching out to tardy invitees."

When you do call, keep the message short and sweet.  Martha suggests these words:  "I wanted to be sure you got our wedding invitation.  I need to get the final numbers to my caterer this week, and we'd love to know whether we'll be seeing you there."

We know that some brides-to-be are considering a "B-list" of invited guests.  We don't condone that practice but know that it happens.  Some advice:  If you are planning to use this approach, we offer these considerations:  Most people will figure out they are "second-tier" guests when the invitation comes to them two weeks before the wedding date.  If you are determined to use a second round of invitations, at least be strategic about it and up the dates when your invitations go out.  Send your first round of invitations out up to 10 weeks in advance and set the R.S.V.P. to at least 5 weeks before the wedding date.  Once regrets start coming in, you can still get a few invitations out to names on the B-List if you are determined to do so.

For more ideas, phone 605.348.8816 or email OR





WEDDING NOTES - Giving Gifts

WEDDING NOTES - Giving Gifts

With wedding season in full swing, we frequently hear questions about gift giving.  Guests at multiple weddings in a year want to know answers to their questions:  How much should one spend and how should one give it?

Most experts agree on a couple of things: 

1. The closer the guest is to the bride or groom, the more one is expected to give and 

2. Do not give more than you can afford just because of those expectations.

Lots of wedding advice comes from the "cost-of-the-meal" tradition of gift- giving.  This just means that guests give a gift roughly equivalent to what it cost to host them.  But advice from The, says "location and cost of the reception should not be the burden of the guest."  Instead, consider using these guidelines suggested by the website:  "A distant relative of the bride or groom or a co-worker should give $75-$100:  a friend or closer relative should give $100-$125: a closer relative, up to $150."  That advice includes cash gifts and gift items.

However, having offered those guidelines, there are other elements to consider.  If one has to spend a lot to get to the wedding, spending at the lower level should be considered.  Whenever possible/feasible, purchasing items from the couple's gift registry sites is best. 

If a person has financial obstacles to consider, he/she can offer hand -made gifts or framed photos or make a charitable donation in the name of the bride and groom.

It is important to remember that as a guest, you are invited to witness an important event in the couple's life and to celebrate that event with them.  There is no obligation to give a gift.  Also, there is no obligation to honor a couple's request for cash only gifts nor does one have to honor what one couple requested in an enclosure that directed the respondent to "check the box for where you want your cash gift to go - to cover champagne on the plane or in the suite at the hotel or the limo or at dinner".  One guest faced with those options, decided to "send just a congratulations card.  There is no etiquette today that defines how crass our society has become."

For more ideas, phone 605.348.8816 or email OR


WEDDING NOTES - Friends and Attendants

WEDDING NOTES - Friends and Attendants

Selecting your attendants for your wedding can be an easy choice for some but for others, an agony of indecision.  If you are planning a small intimate wedding with only the sister of the bride and the brother of the groom in attendance, it couldn't be simpler.

If however, your dream is to have all of your close personal friends with you at the altar, there are some issues you may face.  Cost is one!  If the bride wants all of her sorority sisters in the wedding but the groom doesn't even know that many people he would ask, there's a potential problem.  Some choices need to be made. 

It is very likely you will have to make concessions when finalizing your wedding party.  Keep these ideas in mind as you complete your choices.

·         Before you start naming names, the bride and groom must agree on quantity.  Each of them should have a potential list of candidates for attendants.  Let's say your list contains 8 names.  If you agree on five attendants each then you each take the top three on each list and slot them in.  Next you alternate choices.  It doesn't mean one person gets all his or her top choices, but they each get some.

·         Ignore the old formula that said the number of bridesmaids a bride should have was one for every 45-50 guests.  Have as many as you can afford without looking like opposing softball teams at the altar.

·         If you are searching for a way to let someone know how much you'd like her to be a bridesmaid but can't - make her an honorary attendant.  Ask her to be your personal attendant.  Ask her to handle the guest book and be an official hostess.  Make sure she has a corsage.

·         If you have two best friends and don't want to decide between them, ask them both to share maid/matron of honor duties.  If your older sister is married and your younger sister is not - you have a matron of honor and a maid of honor.    The married attendant stands next to the bride during the ceremony and manages her train and veil at the altar and holds her flowers.  The maid of honor holds the groom's ring and any specialized readings, prayers or special ceremonial items.  Both of them would give reception speeches.  Both would receive special attendant gifts.  They can be dressed identically or choose gowns with minor adjustments.


For more ideas, phone 605.348.8816 or email OR


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Your Invitations and Paper Needs

WEDDING NOTES - Your Invitations and Paper Needs

If you are planning to celebrate your wedding over a holiday weekend, or your invitation list will include a number of out-of-town guests, Save-the-Date cards should be an important part of your plans. Generally, they are sent out as early as six months prior to the wedding.  Because they will give guests a sneak preview of the degree of formality and tone of the wedding, try to select cards that are consistent with the invitations you will send later.

Formal wording and paper styles should be used for invitations to formal and church weddings.  Traditional fonts would be appropriate.  If your wedding is expected to be less formal and held in a hotel or reception facility, you may use a somewhat more informal style with your wedding papers. Individuality can be expressed by choosing unique sizes and textures of papers.  You may also choose to add color, overlays and/or ribbons.

Know that announcements are nice to send to those who live far away or who are unlikely to be able to attend wedding.  They are addressed, stamped and ready to be mailed immediately after the ceremony.  Usually the bride's mother (or trusted associate) is responsible for mailing them.

Unless the wedding is a totally informal and intimate event, plan to include a printed reply card with a self-stamped, preaddressed envelope.

Optional enclosures you may wish to choose are cards for dinner preferences, or if the wedding is planned as a weekend event, guest may be give the option to choose activities they may wish to attend.

Plan to mail your invitations ten to twelve weeks prior to the event. 

For expert advice on the time lines recommended for ordering and mailing all of your paper items. Call 605.348.8816 or email OR  to insure that you will have all that you need when you need it.

What If?


The old saying - "The Best Laid Plans..." should be considered when you are actively planning your wedding.  It's not bad luck to anticipate potential areas of concern and have a Plan B.  Our consultants are creative realists and can help you develop a fabulous Plan A but they know from experience that backup plans (Plan B) are wise.

Here are some of the recommendations from our experience wedding planners.

*Have an emergency kit packed and ready.  It should include a sewing kit that has thread in all the colors that are in your wedding party - white, ivory, black/grey or other tuxedo shades, colors for bridesmaid gowns and both mothers.  It should include needles, pins - safety and straight, scissors, a few paper clips, mending tape.  One bride related that during the receiving line she leaned over to kiss a relative and in the process, he unknowing stepped on the front of her gown.  When she stood up, the entire front of her gown's skirt ripped out at the waist.  A quick repair job with the contents of her emergency kit saved the day.  Also include Kleenex, spot remover cloths, aspirin, breath lozenges, feminine products, make up, hair spray and any necessary medications.  And always have a bit of florist's tape.

*Have a backup plan to cover the what ifs.  If someone has to drop out of your wedding party at the last minute - what will you do?  Find someone in the same size to replace the person or consider how important is it to have the exact number of male and female attendants?  If you are planning an outdoor wedding and reception, what will you do if it rains or storms?

*Remember that everything can be fixed in some way.  Use your imagination and try to anticipate some possible solutions.  So you are one boutonniere short - it's not the end of the world.  Clip some blossoms from either the maid's bouquet or the bridal bouquet.  Go to you emergency kit for the magic green tape florists use to fashion arrangements and voila!  Problem solved.

*Trust your feelings.  If something doesn't feel right, pay attention.  Your instincts are probably right.  Plans that feel right to you are the ones to go with.  Others can make suggestions but the final choice is yours.

Your wedding will be wonderful.  Mishaps can occur but if you don't panic, neither will anyone else.  At one bride's wedding, the processional was complete and the ceremony about to begin when she noticed that the altar candles had never been lit.  No one else noticed so she wisely ignored the lapse.  Her wedding was beautiful.  Yours will be too!

Themes and Centerpieces

WEDDING NOTES - Themes and Centerpieces

All parts of planning a wedding can be fun and exciting.  Our experienced consultants can help you with all aspects of the wedding so feel comfortable asking our advice.  We love to help brides plan all parts of their upcoming wedding, but centerpieces and party themes are among our favorites.

Selecting the flowers and interesting pieces that will decorate your celebration can be a daunting task but the results from carefully chosen centerpieces can be a dramatic way to pull together the theme of your wedding.  We have many, many suggestions.  The most obvious one is that centerpieces should relate to and emphasize that theme.

If your wedding is around a holiday, the theme and its expression is obvious.  Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day all suggest the colors and elements.  Other themes require more thought but are just as fun to create.

Is your wedding and reception near water?  If yes, use ship's lanterns or bowls with tropical fish swimming over shells and sand in the bottom.

Is your reception in the country at a farm house or barn?  Use checkered tablecloths and make a ceramic or straw rooster the center of each table.  Add miniature bales of hay and/or summer flowers and greens in milk bottles or canning jars.

Incorporate seasonal fruits in centerpieces.  Big bunches of strawberries in the summer, gingham tied baskets of apples in the early fall, pumpkins and gourds with fall leaves would also work.

Celebrate your heritage with national colors, flags, patterns and fabrics. Oriental poppies, tartan plaid table linens, silver trays piled high with Mexican wedding cakes all make a statement.

Create a circus atmosphere with balloons, candied apples, popcorn and candy floss.

If both the bride and groom are teachers, the school house theme is perfect with paper chains, chalk boards, posters, report cards and lots of numbers and letters.

Call 605.348.8816 or email OR  for a wealth of ideas of how to make your celebration special.

The Little Party AFTER Big Party

WEDDING NOTES - The Little Party AFTER Big Party

Weddings are a big deal!  They are important milestones and deserve to be celebrated in the best style you can manage (or afford).  The ceremony is the most important, followed by the reception for one's family and friends who have joined the couple to celebrate their union.  But a newer/smaller celebration has joined the mix - the AFTER PARTY which is held to continue the celebration with those closest to the new couple.  In other words, it is known as "let the good times roll".

Because so much time and effort and planning has gone into the wedding event, more and more couples are electing to plan and hold smaller and more intimate parties after their guests have headed home.  Usually included in these events are both sets of parents (if they are still in party mode), members of the wedding party and a few close friends of the couple.  Keeping the party going - albeit at a slower pace - works for many couples today.  If that appeals to you, here are some ideas for your party after the big party.

* Be sure to let family and those close friends you plan to invite about your after party so they can plan accordingly.  You could include a special card in the formal invitation which informs a select few of your plans or you can send a separate invitation to the party.  However, a word of warning.  Be sure to let the after party invitees know that this is "exclusive" so they don't spread the word.

* If your reception is in a hotel and you are staying there, the natural gathering spot is your suite of rooms or a smaller party room in the facility.  Make those arrangements when you are booking the reception, and order the snacks and beverages you plan to serve.

*Maybe there is a small, intimate jazz club or a 24 hour breakfast spot that may be favorites.  Make arrangements in advance with the manager and specify a likely time of arrival so that your party will be welcomed and there will be room for them. 

*Arrange for special foods and refreshments that are different from what was served at the reception.

*This is a perfect time to relive the ceremony and reception by looking at photos that everyone has on their iPhones.  Believe it or not, but there are lots of things happening at a reception that the bride and groom will have missed.  Their presence is pretty well orchestrated throughout the ceremony and reception/dinner/dance.  Now is their time to share in all the fun little things that happened of which they were unaware.

For more AFTER PARTY ideas, call 605.348.8816 or email OR

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's Not My First Wedding

WEDDING NOTES - It's Not My First Wedding

Well congratulations on taking the big step again.  You are in good company as the most recent data suggests that second weddings make up at least 30% of the weddings held in any given year.  And just because you've been married before doesn't mean you don't have questions about this one.

Your questions aren't new to us and we can offer advice and guidance to cover most situations in which you and your husband to be may find yourselves.  Second weddings tend to be unique depending on the circumstances.  Are there children involved?  What are your ages?  Is this a second wedding for you or for both of you?  The only "rule" you have to follow is to choose the kind of ceremony that feels right to both of you.  Leading up to that ceremony there are some accepted guidelines that you may feel comfortable following.

·         If there are children involved, they should be the first to hear your good news.  The way you choose to tell them should be designed to insure that they realize they are gaining another parent rather than losing the one they have.

·         If there are children involved, it is proper to inform your former spouse of your plans.

·         If it is the bride's second marriage, the traditional formal announcement is not made.  If it is the bride's first marriage and the groom's second, then a formal announcement IS made.

·         If it is the bride's second marriage, a semi formal or informal wedding is usually chosen.  An exception is made if the bride did not have a large formal wedding the first time or if this is the first time wedding for the groom.

·         If you are planning a small ceremony with only a few close relatives and friends in attendance, you needn't send printed invitations.  If the ceremony will be a large one, printed invitations are expected. 

·         Increasing in popularity is a small intimate wedding for family and close friends, followed by a much larger celebratory formal reception.  In this case you would send a formal invitation to those invited to the reception with a small enclosure card for the ceremony to those who are invited to both.


Mom's Wedding Gown

WEDDING NOTES - Mom's Wedding Gown

Hundreds of moms carefully tuck their wedding gowns away waiting for the day their daughters will choose to wear it for her wedding.  Nice thought but it rarely happens anymore.  The thought is warm and tender but the reality is that few brides avail themselves of this opportunity.  They love the thought but want their own gowns.

Our staff can advise you on various ways to incorporate all or part of "mom's gown" into your wedding plans.  Some of the best ideas we share are here.  Remember that there are always ways to capture the sentiment in this vintage gown.  It was offered out of love and should be treated with the care the thoughtful consideration with which it was given.

·         If the basic structure of the gown works for you and the fabric is still in good shape, consider having a seamstresses make some slight adjustments for fit or length and/or modify some of the gown's features such as sleeve length and detail.  Shop carefully for a cleaner who specializes in handling heirloom gowns and aged fabric.


·         Consider "harvesting" some of the lace from the heirloom gown to add detail to your own gown or veil.  Some of it may be used as a sash or trim to your gown.  Some of the material can be worked into your bridal bouquet.  Let the expert find ways to help you incorporate the fabric.


·         If the fabric is just too different, consider displaying the heirloom gown at your reception and use it as the centerpiece for a display of family wedding photos - yours and his.  This can be spectacular centerpiece at your reception and can focus on the traditions and linkages that you - the new couple- represent. 


For other good ideas for incorporating the past into your present wedding, call 6053488816 or email