How to Write a Thank-You Note for Every Gift Scenario (Including Those Presents You’re Exchanging!)

November 17th, 2017

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Photo: Kristyn Hogan

Got writer’s block? Don’t put off writing your wedding-related thank-you notes any longer. After all, you should try to send a thank-you card within three months of receipt (and no, you don’t have a year to send your thank you’s, that’s a total wedding myth!). To help, we’ve put together some sample thank you notes for every gift-giving scenario.

Scenario #1: Someone gives you money

Expert Advice: Don’t mention the amount, but do explain how you’ll use the cash

Dear Aunt Melissa and Uncle Marc,

Chris and I were thrilled with your generous and thoughtful gift. You’ve brought us one step closer to our dream house. Looking forward to seeing you again when we’re back home for the holidays!

Love,
Emily

Scenario #2: You don’t know who gave you the gift

Expert Advice: Mention that you’re looking forward to meeting her at the wedding

Dear Mrs. Bergen,

Thank you for the gorgeous crystal bowl. It will look absolutely perfect on the coffee table in our apartment. My mother has always spoken so fondly of you. Chris and I look forward to finally meeting you at the wedding. (I’ll be the woman in white!)

Sincerely,
Emily

Scenario #3: You don’t know what the gift is

Expert Advice: Focus on the giver’s kindness rather than the mystery

Dear Jane and Tom,

Chris and I want to thank you for the wonderful wedding gift. You are such a creative, caring couple, and we feel lucky to count you as friends.

Best,
Emily

Scenario #4: It’s a group gift

Expert Advice: Send individual thank-you’s, but give a shout-out to the group

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for the gas grill. It’s so cool and high-tech — just what we’ve been wanting. We’re lucky to have friends who know us so well. You’ll have to come by for some of Chris’s famous ribs soon!

Warmly,
Emily

Scenario #5: You already have one (or already exchanged it)

Expert Advice: Don’t acknowledge the situation or say how you’ll use it; talk about the gift instead

Dear Derek,

Chris and I want to thank you for the vintage cocktail shaker. The art deco design is so sleek and handsome. You are clearly a man with good taste! We’re so happy you were able to make it to the wedding.

Sincerely,
Emily

Scenario #6: You hate it and can’t return it

Expert Advice: Don’t be a phony and rave about the gift, but do say something positive

Dear Grandma,

Thank you so much for the fish platter. The color reminds me of the china we used for family dinners at your house, and I’m delighted to see it again! We’re thrilled that you’ll be at our wedding and at having the entire Goodman family together.

Love,
Emily

Scenario #7: The person gave a gift off your registry

Expert Advice: Mention how much you love the gift and that you plan to use it regularly

Dear Margaret,

Thank you so much for the juicer. Chris and I have been wanting one for a while and we’re already coming up with new recipes. We’ll have to have you over for brunch soon so you can see it in action! We’re so happy you were able to make it to the wedding.

Love,
Emily

This article was written by Heather Lee for Brides.com.

40 Adorable Ways to Include Your Pet in Your Wedding

November 14th, 2017

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Photo: Black & Hue Photography

Whether you and your fiancé share a beloved pet or you can’t imagine walking down the aisle without your childhood pup, there are plenty of ways to make your favorite animal part of your wedding day. From dogs and cats to more unexpected four-legged friends like goats and elephants, you’ll be surprised (and delighted!) by all of the creative ways couples are incorporating their pets into their big day.

One great way to include your pet is during the ceremony. Dogs often stand in for the flower girl or ring bearer. Plus, you can dress them accordingly with an adorable top hat or flower crown. This is a picture-perfect wedding moment!

If you and your groom are fans of the less-traditional animal, there’s no need to shy away from including them. Couples often find unique ways to incorporate baby goats, birds, elephants, horses and even pigs into their special day, making for some incredible photos.

Sure, including a pet in your ceremony or reception may take a little extra work and planning, but you’ll be pleased to have included your animal pal in the long run. To help you find the best way to include your dog, cat, horse or any other animal you love, here are 40 examples of real brides and grooms that made places for pets in the wedding day.

50 Mistakes Grooms Always Make

November 8th, 2017

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Photo: Matt Andrews Photography

Before it’s time to put on your tuxedo, lace up your dress shoes and stare into the eyes of the love of your life during a wedding ceremony you’ll never forget, you may find yourself wondering what your role is as a groom.

Everyone knows that as a groom, you’ll be spending a lot of quality time with your groomsmen celebrating throughout the wedding adventure, but with the pre-partying fun comes a little bit of work and a lot of support for your fiancée.

Whether you’re on to get dirty with details or you normally stay in the background and let your other half take charge and plan away, there are still some responsibilities you should add to your to-do list and make sure you’re present for, in order to avoid any added stress or spur-of-the-moment fights with your fiancée during the wedding-planning process. So after your engagement has set in and before it’s time to walk down the aisle, take a look at these common mistakes grooms find themselves making and vow, right here, right now, to not make them before, during or even after your starring moment as the groom during your wedding.

Dorsey & Landon at Belle Meade Plantation

November 7th, 2017

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Photo: Alyssa Joy Photo

Alison & Angela,

Thank you both for everything! I heard from more than one guest that “you have set the bar really high! I don’t ever want to follow this!” Your efforts certainly made me look good! I could not have done it without you & your team. And certainly would not have wanted to. Thanks again!

Dean
Mother of the Bride

How to Pick Your Veil Based on Your Wedding Dress

November 6th, 2017

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Photo: Matt Andrews Photography

While a veil is no longer an absolute must for the modern bride, many engaged women are still choosing to wear them, mostly because, well, it makes them feel like a bride. The trick is knowing what type of veil to pair with what type of wedding dress to make the most impact. We asked several renowned bridal experts to share their top secrets.

A Heavily Embellished Gown

If you have your heart set on a heavily beaded or embellished dress, you can go one of two ways with your veil. For the princess-y bride who loves sparkle, a classic, raw edge cathedral veil with scattered Swarovski that will ‘twinkle’ as you walk down the aisle is absolutely stunning, says Carla Imbriano, lead designer at Boutique de Voile. Another fitting option she suggests is “a veil with minimal matching beadwork along the edge.”

A Simple but Stunning Dress

If a bride has a simple dress and wants to amp up the drama without any embellishments, an angel cut veil trimmed in satin, horsehair or organza is always a good choice, notes Kleinfeld Fashion Director Terry Hall. “It will frame the face of the bride beautifully, and when it cascades down, you’ll see a spiral of fabric on the edge that gives you that dramatic look and feel.” A veil with touches of light lace is also very elegant styled with a simple dress, says bridal stylist and wedding expert Renée Strauss.

A Dress with a Statement Back

A breathtaking ornate or sheer illusion lace back is a popular trend. To show off your backside, Imbriano recommends a special custom cut cathedral without any accents (beadwork or crystals) in the body of the veil. Think sheer and chic and remember to steer clear of multiple layers of fabric.

A Gown with a Long Train

As long as your gown doesn’t have a ton of back detail, you can pretty much wear any type of veil with a dress that has a long train, tells Hall. His favorite, however, is by far a cathedral veil. “It’s so interesting and creates a dramatic, ethereal look.” Just make sure the veil extends past the train, he advises. This is particularly important if the train on the wedding gown is heavily beaded, adds Strauss.

A Modern Dress

For brides opting to go the contemporary route (think fit-and-flare, mermaid gowns and tea-length dresses), a more modern style veil is perfectly appropriate, points out Elisha Caplan, Designer and Owner of Elisha Caplan Veils & Headpieces. “These are the short, layered, square-cut and blusher styles. A short veil (shoulder to elbow length) is great for a tea-length dress or a city hall dress,” she says.

A Vintage Wedding Dress

If your something borrowed happens to be your wedding dress, why not go all out with a birdcage veil to match? “It will become the ornate part of the ensemble,” says Strauss.

A Short Wedding Dress

The shorter the dress, the shorter the veil! “For a sassy, cocktail length gown or shorter, we love a birdcage veil, or better yet, a whimsical multiple layer veil in a shorter length … something reminiscent of an Audrey Hepburn movie,” say Imbriano.

A Beachy Bohemian Dress

Getting hitched oceanfront? According to Strauss, a chapel veil is great for a beach wedding when you want the veil flowing in the wind but not to be too cumbersome.

This article was written by Elizabeth Mitchell for Brides.com.

Every Question You Should Ask When Choosing a Ceremony Site

November 3rd, 2017

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Photo: Summer Herlocker Photography

You’re engaged, you’ve settled your budget and you’ve chosen the time of year you’d ideally like to get married. Next up: finding the ceremony site of your dreams! When it comes to scouting the place you’ll exchange your precious vows, there are many things you need to keep in mind, from guest capacity to remembering to make reservations for the rehearsal. The questions you ask when scouting a ceremony site completely depend on the type of ceremony you wish to have. As you can imagine, holding your ceremony at a religious venue will hold more restrictions than an outdoor garden. Here is a list of questions you need to ask when you’re visiting a potential ceremony location.

If you are thinking about a church or temple:

– Are there any clothing restrictions? Are you allowed to bare your shoulders?
– How much of the ceremony are allowed to customize (like vows or speakers)
– Will communion or a chuppah will be provided?
– Are photography and videography allowed? If so, where they can stand during the ceremony?
– Is music provided? Are you allowed to bring in outside music?
– What additional fees come with choosing this facility (i.e. if you choose to use a church’s organist or a temple’s cantor, do you have to pay them separately or a fee for their services).

General questions you should ask at any type of venue:

– Are you allowed to decorate? If so, what restrictions go along with that process?
– When can the florist and other vendors come to set up? Is there a good spot for them to deliver everything? Also, how will everything be disposed following the ceremony?
– Are there any other weddings the same day?
– Is there a room for the bride and groom to get ready before the ceremony?
– What is the parking situation like? (Especially for the car that will carry you and your groom)
– Can you throw rose petals or seeds following the ceremony?

And, of course, when you choose to book don’t forget to reserve the location for the rehearsal the night before, too!

This article was originally published on Brides.com.

How to Nail Your Healthiest Pre-Wedding Diet

October 30th, 2017

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Photo: CHARD Photography

Many brides may consider going to extremes to look good on their wedding day. But how can women get in good nutritional shape in time for “I do” without starving themselves or engaging in other unhealthy habits? New York City-based dietitian, Megan Madden, MS, RD, shares her tips on how to eat in the weeks and months leading up to cutting into that gorgeous tiered cake.

How much time does a bride need to get her diet on the right track?

“Making healthier food choices can boost your mood and enhance immunity in a matter of weeks. [But] if you’re looking to slim down or firm up, you’ll realistically need 4-6 months. Hit the gym for a mix of cardio and strength training about 4 days a week and support your fitness routine with a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid overly processed, packaged foods and select lean cuts of meat or chicken, egg whites, beans, low fat dairy, whole grains and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Include sources of unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel and tuna.”

What are some foods to avoid?

“Eliminating entire food groups can leave you feeling deprived and trigger cravings. Crash diets and liquid cleanses can zap your energy, make you cranky, and slow down your metabolism. Focus on smaller, more sustainable diet changes. Set one new specific goal every week and build on previous accomplishments. Maybe you want to start off by reducing sugar, so you cut your juice or soda intake in half. The next week, start including two pieces of fresh fruit every day. To reduce bloating and puffiness, steer clear of alcohol and salt the week before the wedding. Avoid frozen dinners, canned soup, jarred tomato sauce, cottage cheese, deli meats and bottled salad dressings and sauces. These items usually contain loads of sodium.”

So what are some good meal options?

“For breakfast, try a spinach, tomato and 2 egg white omelet with a slice of whole grain toast and melon on the side, or plain oatmeal prepared with low-fat milk, topped with cinnamon, sliced banana and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts. For lunch, mixed greens with extra veggies tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, plus a cup of lentil soup. For dinner, grilled chicken, quinoa and roasted asparagus. Then, enjoy some plain Greek yogurt topped with a squirt of honey and fresh berries for dessert.”

What about smart snacking?

“Wedding planning is stressful enough, so ward off mood swings and irritability by choosing complex carbs. The fiber in whole grain crackers, brown rice, and the skin of a potato slows the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, sustaining your energy levels and mood.”

And for the immune system?

“Boost your defenses with probiotic-packed yogurt topped with a vitamin C-rich fruit like strawberries, pineapple or mango. Use fresh or frozen fruit if blending a smoothie. Or make your own trail mix with almonds, cashews, walnuts, banana chips and dark chocolate morsels. This combo provides the powerhouse antioxidant vitamin E, immune-boosting zinc, plenty of energizing B vitamins and even some anti-inflammatory omega-3s.”

This article was written by Whitney C. Harris for Brides.com.

18 First-Dance Songs That Haven’t Been Done to Death

October 27th, 2017

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Photo: Erin Lee Allender Photography

We’re far too familiar with the wedding songs that have been overdone, so we asked the pros — the people who’ve heard all of ’em — what songs they picked (or what they will pick) for their walk down the aisle. Have a listen.

1. “Lay Your Heart Next to Mine” by Steve Azar

“It is a little unknown song by an overlooked country singer (not that I am a country fan…more a punk rock girl!) but I had purchased this CD (yes, I am that old) for another song that really spoke to me at the time and when I heard this song I knew immediately that is spoke perfectly to Jeff and me. Now if we had only practiced our first dance.”

—Laura Jacobson, Kismet Invitation Company

2.”You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMotagne

“I’ve yet to tie the knot myself, but I’d go with something mildly upbeat, yet still slow enough to look great dancing. There are no long, awkward musical pauses in the song, it is not too repetitive and it will keep your guests attention.”

—Alexandra Wise, Blush Botanicals

3. “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Ray Charles

“This is the song Chef Nimer and I (we’re partners in business and life!) dance to at our wedding (at The Parker in Palm Springs). With lyrics like “Happy together, unhappy together and won’t it be fine? Days may be cloudy or sunny…we’re in or we’re out of the money” — it perfectly captures what the married days ahead would be together and the fact that no matter what – we go through it all together.”

—Jennifer Coman, Haute Chefs LA

4.”Dreams Are More Precious” by Enya

“My husband and I actually chose two songs for our first dance, one that was slow and beautiful to start, and one to surprise our guests with a choreographed dance thrown in there unexpectedly. The slow dance song we picked was “Dreams Are More Precious” by Enya, and mid-slow dance it switched to a little hip-hop number! One song represented how he had been there for me after my dad passed away and the other was the fun side of us and how we love dancing together!”

—Kara Stout, Kara Stout

5.”First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes

“For my second (and last) wedding, this past November, we eloped and didn’t have a first dance or song (no one there except us to hear it anyway), but the song playing in my head was “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. It’s absolutely perfect and sweet, especially if you’re a little cynical. Happy to share this gem, since I’ll never use it out loud.”

—Jill Ryder, Shindig Bespoke

6. “Crush” by Dave Matthews Band

“I would say the best first dance song ever is “Crush” by Dave Matthews Band. It’s definitely a song that’s off the beaten path, but it’s a perfect combination of slow and jazzy sultry parts that build into the more up tempo chorus. Plus, it’s a pick that will earn you some serious cred with the music fans on your guest list.”

—Leah Weinberg, Color Pop Events

7. “Home” by Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros

“My husband and I did our first dance to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We wanted something that was a little different and more upbeat than your typical romantic slow dance song. The lyrics just happened to be perfect as well. Toward the end of the song, all of our friends and family got up and joined us on the dance floor totally unsolicited! They danced around us in a circle while clapping to the beat of the song. It was amazing because neither of us love having all eyes on us. It’s one of my favorite memories from our wedding.”

—Jillian Kling, jillian rose photography

8. “Latch” by Sam Smith

—Ashley Ruelas & Beatriz Cisneros, The Detailed Look

9.”You and Me” the Wannadies

“This one my husband and I actually picked for our song. It’s fun because you can vacillate between slow dancing and fast dancing. But, mainly I love the lyrics, it’s funny and real and was so perfect for us.”

—Jamie Chang, Mango Muse Events

10.”Happy” by Pharrell

“I LOVE first dances because whenever I hear the song on the radio I think of the couple that selected it. Last year one of my favorites was “Happy” by Pharrell that ended in a conga line and everyone was on their feet (dancing or cheering). My hub and I danced to a medley that was choreographed by an amazing TV professional (he often works on Broadway and TV).”

—Cassandra Santor, Cassandra & Company Weddings

11.”Waste” by Phish

“My first dance song at my wedding was the song “Waste” by Phish. It’s a very simplistic love song about not needing to climb mountains, nor be an actor, nor be a writer to be happy— he just simply needs to “waste” his time with his lover. The song is about expressing a longing to “waste” your time with the person you love. What I love most about this song is in an age of social media bragging, and everyone wanting to be a reality TV star, the simplistic message of only needing to be with the one you love is good enough. You don’t need to be doing something amazing every day, or brag-worthy, to be happy. Spending your time with the object of your love is far more important than any superficial jobs, titles, or social media status.”

—Luke Walker, Clark+Walker Studio

12. “We Will Dance” by Steven Curtis Chapman

I love first dance songs that aren’t well known which is why for our first dance at our wedding, I chose “We Will Dance” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. It’s a lyrically beautiful song that details the course of a relationship from the beginning to being a sweet old couple still dancing. To this day, it’s one of my favorite songs wrapped in sweet memories.

Orangerie Events

13.”Luckiest” by Ben Folds Five

“My husband Troy and I danced to the “Luckiest” by Ben Folds Five on our wedding day and it will always be my favorite. Still to this day, as the years have come and gone, we have held the tradition on our anniversary of finding a moment to stop and dance together to it. Some years it has followed a fancy dinner, others there has been a pregnant belly between us and now it more often seems that we have had little ones clinging to our ankles as we have held each other but it has always reminded me that amidst it all, I am still the luckiest.”

—Heather Balliet, Amorology

14.”Better Together” by Jack Johnson

“Our clients this weekend are having their first dance to Jack Johnson’s Better Together. This song is entirely sweet with a soft but playful acoustic melody. Probably a more underrated first dance song, but definitely a favorite!”

—Mary Ellen Murphy, Off the Beaten Path Weddings

15.”Spend My Life With You” by Tamia & Eric Benet

“My husband and I are obsessive over for classic R&B love songs, and this song completely encompasses the essence of love and the moment you know you’ve “found the one whom your soul loves” The sweet lyrics and the beauty of the melody make it the ultimate first dance song which is why we picked it for ours!”

—Pamela Augustus, Love Anne Joy Design & Events

16.”I’m Gonna Make You My Wife” by the Whispers

“The song that my hubby and I danced to was a classic “I’m Gonna Make You My Wife” by the Whispers. We had selected all of the music for our wedding well in advance. However, we were watching a movie and heard the song and knew from the first sentence that it would be the perfect first dance song! We took the dance floor and as soon as the song played, the entire crowd, young and old teared up as we danced. Almost seven years later and the song still makes me emotional!”

—Geomyra Lewis, Geomyra Lewis Weddings & Events

17.”Man on Fire” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

“One of my favorite first dance songs ever is ‘Man on Fire’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It’s not a song you usually hear at weddings, but the beat and lyrics are so memorable. One of my clients a few years ago danced to that song for their first dance in a redwood forest, under the stars, and towards the end of the song invited their guests onto the dance floor! It was the perfect way to kick off a night of dancing!”

—Mirelle Carmichael, Mirelle Carmichael Photography

18. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

“Our wedding song was “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat, not only is it a beautiful song, with perfect lyrics for a first dance, but it was sung at our wedding by my brother and my daughter (who was eight years old at the time). It was incredibly special and we are so very lucky!”

—Kathy Gelbman, Sparkle and Ink

This article was written by GLAMOUR for Brides.com.

Inside Weddings Feature: Ashley & Maxx at Schermerhorn Symphony Center

October 26th, 2017

We are so excited to be featured in Inside Weddings for Ashley and Maxx’s beautiful wedding celebration at Schermerhorn Symphony Center! It was such an honor to work with this sweet couple to plan their dream day. Also, many thanks to all the vendors who helped make this beautiful wedding happen! We loved working with you all.

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Cute “His” & “Hers” Signature Cocktail Menu Ideas

October 24th, 2017

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Photo: Divine Images

He likes a classic Manhattan. You prefer a bubbly French 75. Why not serve your favorite cocktails at your reception? It’s a great way to personalize your bar menu and, if you’re looking for ways to save some money, serving just two signature cocktails instead of offering a full bar will add up to a significant amount of savings. Then, all you need to do is create a fun cocktail-menu sign to let guests know what’s on offer — here are our favorite His and Hers menu ideas.

Chalkboard Sign

Have your calligrapher (or your friend with the prettiest penmanship) create a simple chalkboard sign you can display next to the bar.

Self-Serve Drink Station

Keep things simple with a self-serve beverage station decorated with a chalkboard sign.

Window Pane

Turn an old window pane into your drink and hors d’oeuvres menu. How clever!

Arrow Signs

Cute arrow-shaped signs let guests know what’s on offer during cocktail hour.

Jumbo Clothespin

Print out simple cocktail-menu signs and display them at the bar using freestanding extra-large clothespins.

Illustrated Sign

This talented Etsy artist will create a custom sign for your bar that’s illustrated with each drink’s ingredients.

Typed Sign

Turn a fresh lime or lemon into a holder for a simple cocktail-menu sign.

This article was written by Heather Lee for Brides.com.

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