If your ceremony and reception are more than an hour apart, you can schedule a cocktail hour for your guests so they don't get restless. This is a great solution if you have lots of out-of-town guests (defined as those who can't drive home for the break between festivities or those who would need a hotel room).
Instead of having a champagne toast, buy sparkling grape juice-it's cheaper, it tastes sweeter but still has a bubbly kick, and guests who do not drink alcohol will thank you! You can save hundreds by cutting out alcohol altogether, or you can bring your own and serve only specialty drinks that are themed to your wedding (eggnog at a winter holiday wedding, daiquiris and margaritas at a beach ceremony, etc.).
Make sure that the music changes when you're about to walk down the aisle so that guests are aware and can stand for you. The MOB should stand to indicate that you've entered, but ask the musician play a flourish as you enter and then continue the music louder than it was for the attendants, just in case. You can also consider composing your own song or choosing a personal favorite so that your entrance is very obvious.
You'll be so busy greeting guests on your wedding day that you probably won't get a chance to eat, so prepare a way to save yourself and your new spouse some snacks. Ask your caterer specifically to set aside food for you and your bridal party. You can also ask one of your most trusted attendants to fill a picnic basket of goodies for you and your new spouse to snack on later, after you leave for the evening.
If your mom wants to help but has a 'control freak' reputation, give her a separate project to head up. One bride placed her well-meaning but overbearing mother in charge of the reception menu; the mom was satisfied because she was helping, and at the same time was conveniently out of the bride's hair. Plus, you'll be able to expend your energy elsewhere instead of arguing with her over placemats.
Include your fiancé in any way you can. He may feel left out but uncomfortable asking you if he can help. Some couples package their guests' favors together, spending quality time together while allowing friends and family to complete other tasks.
Don't be surprised when folks start asking questions about children as soon as you step foot off the plane from your honeymoon. Try to hide your shocked expression…they're just really excited for you and aren't thinking about offending you or being too personal.
After the wedding, make lists of all the little things you can remember about the day of, like the fact that he tripped getting into the car, well-wishers' sweet words, the last thought across your mind before you said "I do," etc. Write these things in your wedding album, so you can remember the small things that made your day special.
Discuss with your fiancé what you each expect of the other after the honeymoon. Before becoming newlyweds, decide who will perform which chores and pay which bills to ease tension in fusing your two individual lives.
Keep in mind the talents of those you know. Perhaps a cousin has calligraphy skills, a future in-law works magic with fabric, or an aunt has a beautiful voice. Not only will you find another way to include these special people in your big day, but you can save money.
Schedule tasks and set deadlines. This way you'll stay on the ball and actually get things done instead of procrastinating. As one bride says, do not settle and you will be surprised what you can get on your budget.
Don't trust your vendors to remember everything you told them. Write notes of what you specifically requested from your vendors and keep them with you. Ask the vendors to read your directions back to you when you first sign the contract, again when you make your final payment, and then again a couple days before your wedding to be sure they have everything in place your way.
You do NOT have to ask anyone in particular to be in your wedding, regardless if the person is a relative, in-law, coworker, or best friend from college. Your preschool best pal is a guy? Cool. Ask him to be your Man of Honor. Maybe you're only looking for three maids, and you have three sisters and two friends you're closer with. In this case, while kicking family out of the picture can be touchy and your friends should understand, in the end those are your memories of the biggest day of your life with your beloved, and nobody should get to dictate honors but you.
If you really want to have your ceremony at a site that doesn't advertise, or regularly allow, weddings or special events, go ahead and call them anyway. A lot of places don't advertise availability because they want to avoid calls about events with huge guest lists, but if you're planning a smaller wedding it may be just the site you need.
Flowers will be more expensive around Valentine's Day, but you can expect lower prices for many items between January and March because those aren't in peak wedding seasons like summer and fall.
Nervous about the garter toss? Have your Bridesmaids and his Groomsmen pre-gather single guests to catch the tosses to avoid throwing to an empty dance floor or a group of uncomfortable teenagers. Or avoid the tradition altogether and give selected buds from your bouquet to special women in attendance. Another sweet alternative is holding a "married couples countdown" where you present the longest-married pair in attendance with a gift basket and their own dance.
Some couples choose bubbles instead of rice (which actually isn't bad for birds). If you choose this alternative, remember that the bubbles can stain your clothes if they aren't cleaned soon after! Other options include releasing butterflies and silk rose petals (won't stain).
If you plan for some disaster to occur, you will either be prepared or pleasantly surprised. If things don't go exactly as you wished, remember that while your marriage is for you and your new spouse, the wedding celebration is more for your loved ones.
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