New Rules Weddings

| 2012
The Best Local
Smart Budget
The Latest
Fashions and
The New
Rules of
How to tie the knot in 2012
PlanningTips for
a Perfect Party
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Here we Go!
Made Easy
Congratulations! You and the person of your
dreams are embarking on a new life together, and
we couldn’t be happier for you. It’s time to create
a day you and your loved ones will never forget.
Sound impossible? Hardly! Just let us show you how.
Changing attitudes and a changing economy have changed the way couples get
married.Today’s couples are being more mindful of their budgets – but they’re
not letting that get in the way of throwing an awesome party! Our 2012 Bridal
Planner will guide you through all the moments of the big day.
Our experts’ tips will show you how to make the most of your time, energy and
budget, while keeping your wedding’s style and fun factor sky high.
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Dive in. Follow our tips. Plan a wedding that your guests won’t soon forget.
It’s never been easier to do.
In This issue
Fashion & Beauty
Photo & Video
Food & Drinks
Music & Entertainment
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B u d ge t
The Smart Couple’s Guide to
Financially Planning
a Wedding
By Taniesha Robinson
CTW Features
A dream wedding with all its pomp
and circumstance easily can turn into a
nightmare if a couple still is paying for
it years after walking down the aisle. If
there’s one lesson couples should take
from the recent recession, it’s this: Get
Real. Get real about the bottom line and
what matters most for creating lifelong
“In deciding how to fund your wedding, to a certain extent, you’re setting
a precedent for how you’re going to
manage your finances together when
you’re married,”says Linda Leitz, a certified financial planner with Pinnacle
Financial Concepts in Colorado Springs,
Colo. Here are some smart steps for starting your financial future together on the
right foot.
Top Finance Rules for
Financial problems are a leading cause of
divorce in America. Follow these rules to
put your marriage on the path to success.
1. Communicate. “With money, each of you
doing what you want to do when you don’t agree
ends up catastrophic,” says Linda Leitz, of Pinnacle Financial Concepts.
2. Sign up for free budget software like
“It allows you to make educated decisions on
where you can reduce expenses if you need to,”
says William Timpson of Financial Focus.
It’s important to get a
“values-based vision”of your
3. Set goals. “If you’re not working toward a goal,
wedding first, says William
you’re just spending with no regards to what you
Timpson, a certified financial
want to achieve for your financial situation,” says
Laura West of West Financial Advisors.
planner at Financial Focus,
in Livingston, N.J.This vision
4. Have what Leitz calls a “checker amount”
addresses all of the must– how much either spouse can spend without
haves for the celebration
checking with the other.
rather than every whim.
“Once you have that vision
5. Avoid debt.
down, then you can begin
financial planning,”Timp6.Take advantage of company benefits.
son says. He also suggests
creating a separate savings
account to add to regularly
always been a way to save money on a
wedding. Off-season – late fall, winter or
in preparation.
Couples who have more time tend to early spring – and weekday plans don’t
spend more, says Laura West, a certified
put you in high competition for venues.
financial planner with West Financial
Advisors Certified in Nevada, Iowa. She
suggests spending only three to six
When couples have beaten the unconmonths planning:“You have to make
ventional path down to dust and are
quicker decisions, and you don’t add as
still coming up short in funding their
much of those bells and whistles.”
wedding. It’s time to turn to family and
friends for help.
Timpson suggests couples start with
“All those shows that are on TV really get their parents.“They’ll be pleased to see
women thinking that they need to have
that you’ve put together a budget and
this off-the-charts wedding,”West says.
that you have a vision and that there’s a
But budget-friendly elegance is possible
reason why you’re doing this,”he says.
when a couple focuses on what’s imporIf the bottom line still lies overhead
tant to them personally.
after exploring all cost-saving options,
After finalizing their“values-based
a smart couple will know it’s time to
vision,”they can target areas where costs amend their plans – opt for a longer
can really rack up – mainly the dress,
engagement period to allow for saving
flowers and food.
more for the wedding.
Planner Leitz advises couples to travel
Whatever you do, don’t go into debt,
off the beaten path for deals.Thinking
Timpson says.“It’s a really tough way to
about not only the time of day but the
start a relationship.”
day of the week and the time of year has
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Ask for help
Cutting Costs
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Calling All Guests!
S tat i o n e ry i s y o u r guests’ first
adjust as necessary.
impression of your wedding, so you
want to make sure it’s fun, grabs
their attention and gets them excitAs soon as you have your wedding
ed about your big day.
date set in stone – the venue is
You can look at your stationery
booked – you should send out a savein three parts: the save-the-date, the
the-date. It doesn’t matter if it’s a year
wedding invitation and enclosures,
out from the wedding or nine months
and the day-of pieces. Whether
out or seven – the point is you want
you’re getting your stationery proyour guests to get your wedding on
fessionally designed or going the
their schedules ASAP.
DIY route and designing and printYou don’t need to go overboard on
ing them yourself, you’re
going to need to visit a
stationery shop to get
After the invite itself, you should
your hands on some
include an RSVP card, which should be
paper and check out
self-addressed and stamped. There’s a
design styles.Typically,
line where the guests fill in there name
expect to spend around
and how many will be attending. Don’t
5 percent of your budget on your stationery,
forget this! (We’ve seen it done!):
including postage, but
details; just your names and the date
to keep open. If you have a wedding
website already set up with details
about the ceremony, reception and
accommodations, include the URL.
And, of course, you can mention that a
formal invitation will follow.
Wedding Invitation and
Let’s get this out of the way right now:
M Will attend
Will not attend
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You’re Cordially Invited
ding date.
As mentioned, you might
have all the pertinent info on
your wedding website, but
you’ll want to include a card
separate from the invitation
that lays out the wheres and
whens for your reception and
Day-of Pieces
(Bride’s Dad and Bride’s Mom)
Invite you to share in their joy
At the marriage of their daughter
Bride’s name
Son of
Groom’s Dad and Groom’s Mom
Date and Time
The invitation might be the
main attraction, but there are
still some paper pieces you
need for the big day:
• Programs: If you’re having
a ceremony in a house of worship, this will list info for the officiant,
readings, the wedding party, etc.
• Table numbers/names
• Escort cards and Place cards:
Escort cards tell the guest which table
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they are at. Place cards show them
where at the table they are sitting.
• Menus: An outline of dinner, set
with their place card, is a nice touch.
Jovan Petrovic Design
Do not include registry information
on the invitation – anywhere – it is
uncouth! You’re inviting your friends
and family to join in your wedding celebration; you’re not inviting them to
bring you gifts! (You can list registry
info on your wedding website.)
The actual wedding invite is where
you officially invite your guests. Plan
to put these in the mail around two
months prior to your wedding. For
some more creative ideas for wording
your invites (and a quick primer on
the basics), visit and
search “wedding invitation wording.”
The RSVP card (self-addressed and
stamped) is where guests will accept
or decline invitation and, if you’re having a seated dinner, mark their dinner
selection (see sidebar). List a date in
which you’d appreciate their reply by,
usually four weeks before the wed-
A classic invite where the bride’s
folks are footing the bill might read
like this:
• Thank-yous: If you want to get
a jump on showing your gratitude, it
can be worthwhile to invest in stationery with your newly married name.
–Timothy R. Schulte
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Fa s h i o n & B e a u t y
Get Glamorous
from Head to Toe
By Anna Sachse, CTW Features
Dress for Success
On trend: Short-in-front,
long-in-back gowns,
like this ivory organza
gown with organza silk
embroidery and curved
hem from BHLDN
You typically need to order a gown from a
traditional wedding salon about six months
in advance, so start shopping around early,
visiting the go-to boutiques and shops in
your city. If you’re in a rush, hit up places
like David’s Bridal where you can buy off the
rack and walk out the door, advises Rachael
Leonard, fashion director for Brides magazine. J. Crew and BHLDN,Anthropologie’s
bridal line, also are good, quick resources.
However, if you have ample time, you can
often get amazing deals on designer dresses
by checking out flash-sale sites like or, or attending
a Brides Against Breast Cancer event. (Note:
wedding dress prices can range anywhere
from $500 to $10,000 or more.)
Another possibility – if you need flexibility with the timeline, payment options
and design elements – is having a custom
gown created for you, notes Deedee Vicory,
owner of bridal alteration studio The Wedding Seamstress and bridal boutique D’Lola
Couture in Arvada, Colo. Or, for a truly costeffective way to wear something unique
and meaningful,Vicory suggests having your
dressmaker redesign a beloved vintage wed-
ding gown into a new style that feels contemporary.
Regardless, before you settle on a dress
source, it’s helpful to think about details like
the formality of your event – for example, if
you’re having a church wedding, you should
probably skip that backless number.That
said, keep an open mind – you might be the
avidly anti-strapless type, but it turns out this
popular style is especially flattering for your
body type.
Looking for some fashion-forward leads?
The latest trends in short dresses are a great
’60s trapeze look and a short-in-the-front/
floor-length-in-the-back hemline, which can
really showcase a fabulous shoe, says Leonard. She’s also seeing color on the bridal
With her gorgeous gown, elegant
accessories, sleek coiffure and
glowing visage, the bride is the
quintessential icon of a wedding. But modern women also
want their look to reflect their
individuality. If that pressure has
you in panic, take comfort.These
beauty guidelines will get you
feeling both chic and unique.
A simple, bold cuff is smart way to accessorize a showstopping gown.
runways, including pale peach, a dark lilac
and for the more gothic bride, black or a
black-and-nude look. (Vicory says that red
and green are the most common requests
for color in custom gowns.) Other unconventional trends include low-draped and
sheer backs, and front or side slits – just be
sure to avoid ankle straps, as they can make
Fa s h i o n & B e a u t y
legs look shorter and thicker.
“We’re also starting to see an
increase in brides who want sleeves
for coverage,” says Vicory,“and lace
is becoming popular again, which I
would say is a direct result
of the royal wedding.”
dress is a showstopper, stick to simple
drop earrings and a bold bangle or a
striking cocktail ring. But if the dress
is simple, a chunky, colorful necklace
might be the perfect foil.
For headwear,
Gina Ludwig,
owner of Hair
Comes the Bride
(which sells all
Shortly after you order your
manner of bridal
dress, you’ll want to settle
accessories, as
on your shoes – you should
well as employs
bring them to your first fithair and makeup
ting, as they may affect the
artists across the
alterations. It’s possible to
country), is seepush purchasing a wrap
ing two trends.
and/or clutch to the last
First, vintageinspired birdminute, but you’ll ideally
cage veils and
want to decide on any hair
pins or
accessories (a veil, fascinatiaras
tor, hat, crown or clip) and
jewelry a few months prior, as they
may impact your hair and makeup
sories,” she warns.“You want to comYou want jewelry to complement
your gown, not compete with it. If the bine vintage elements with a modern
Sugar on Top
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touch.”The second trend she’s seeing is
delicate faux flowers – a lovely addition
to the softer, more “undone” trend in
bridal hairstyles right now, Ludwig says.
Practice Makes Pretty
To nab your preferred makeup artist
and hair stylist, schedule at least five
months out. Just keep in mind that if
your wedding is on a Saturday during peak wedding season (late spring
through early fall), you should probably plan even farther ahead, if possible,
says Anni Bruno, owner of NYC Faces
in New York, who regularly is booked
for weddings a year in advance.You’ll
also want to set up consultations/
trials – your style preferences may
change as you get closer to the big day,
so shoot for four to six weeks out.
The price for hair and makeup varies drastically based on the vendor’s
location and experience, but, in general, you can expect to pay $25 to $150
for a trial and $50 to $400 for the dayof service.You’ll save money going to
Beauty Emergency Kit
Gina Ludwig, owner of bridalaccessories maker Hair Comes
the Bride, lists these essentials
for a big-day beauty emergency
kit. Stash these go-to products in
your clutch or enlist your coordinator or maid of honor to do the
Baby wipes: They can remove
makeup and most stains
A mini sewing kit: Inexpensive
ones are available at drugstores
Bobby pins
A travel-size bottle of hair spray
Safety pins
Extras: White chalk to cover stains
on dress or shoes, hem tape, extra
earring backs, pain reliever, BandAids, clear nail polish, eye drops,
tweezers and an energy bar
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Fa s h i o n & B e a u t y
a beauty school or department store,
or doing it yourself, but remember:
wedding pictures last a lifetime.
If you’ve opted for trials, Ludwig recommends bringing images from magazines to illustrate design ideas you like
(or don’t like).And because your style
should jibe with the overall tone of the
wedding, it also can be helpful to bring
pictures of your dress, bridesmaids’
dresses, flowers, location, etc.
For the makeup trial, Bruno advises
wearing a white T-shirt to simulate
what your face will look like with
your gown, or asking the artist to
wrap a white towel around your neck.
Arrive with a clean, well-hydrated
and exfoliated face to ensure that the
makeup sits more evenly on the skin.
For the hair trial, Ludwig also likes
brides to show up with clean, dry hair.
“It’s easy for the stylist to ‘dirty up’
hair with product, but if hair is too
dirty or oily, it’s very hard to style,”
Ludwig says.
The best look for you depends on
your coloring, facial features, hair-
cut and personality, but right now
Bruno is loving shimmery peach/
bronze shadows (especially on blue
eyes or for summer soirées), paired
with bronzed skin, peachy cheeks
and glossy lips, and also retro looks –
matte eye shadows with a strong cat
eye and maybe even a classic 1940s
Hollywood-style red lip.
No matter what style you prefer,
she highly advises prepping your “canvas” with airbrush makeup.“It goes
on as a superfine mist, so there’s no
streaking, and it makes skin look flawless.The silicone-based formula lasts
for hours, so you don’t need to worry
about touchups.”
For hair, Ludwig is currently a fan
of the classic styles of the ’20s, ’40s
and even ’50s, as well as softer, easy,
deconstructed styles, which she feels
are more flattering on most brides.
“I think it’s important for guests to
notice how gorgeous a bride looks,
not how gorgeous her hair and makeup looks.”
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of sentimentality or a shared
memory between the pair.
Novel Places for
Tying the Knot
Farms or Barns
“Rusted and rugged seems
to be the new chic for weddings,” says Laura Nedelcu of
VOW Wedding Consulting in
New York.“A lot of couples are
going for more of a vintage
feel, so any venue that has that
look will do just fine.”
A rustic wedding also
means an easy transition from
ceremony to reception, with
nothing more than haystacks
and rows of chairs separating
guests from the post-wedding
festivities. Finding a clean, easyto-use barn owned by a friend
or relative also slashes budgets.
“The rental fees alone could
save you at least $4,000,” says
Warehouses or Lofts
The constantly morphing landscape of
weddings means alternative options
for venues.While classic church weddings and hotel ballroom receptions
are traditional go-tos, brides and
grooms looking for a little spice are
opening the door to more unique and
economical wedding-day locales.
Alternative venues also mean an
opportunity to combine the ceremony and reception.According to a survey from The Wedding Report, more
than 60 percent of ceremonies and
receptions were held in the same location in 2011, up about 5 percent from
the year before.The same report also
showed a decrease in the popularity
of some traditional wedding locales –
places of worship, country clubs and
beaches – and the addition of new,
nontraditional categories like museums, art galleries and theme parks.
On-site receptions also cut costs
for photography, videography and car
services, since transportation is not an
“Simplification is always an
advantage,” says Meg Keene,
author of “A Practical Wedding:
Creative Ideas for Planning a
Beautiful,Affordable and Meaningful Celebration” (Da Capo
Lifelong Books, 2011).“You
reduce the stress and cost of
decorating and paying for two
venues, and you don’t have to
transport everyone from one
place to another.”
This trend towards on-site
receptions and unusual venues
means a fun opportunity for
couples and wedding planners
alike. Here are some picks for
nontraditional ceremony and reception locations.
$ave, $ave, $ave
Jeremy Lawson/LOLA Event Productions
By Lindsey Romain
CTW Features
“I’ve seen couples who love
the urban feel who find empty
warehouses for their wedding,”Austin
says.These large, spartan spaces mean
plenty of opportunity for personal
decorations, sprawling food services
and, most importantly, room to party!
Museums or Libraries
The nostalgic sentiment of a favorite
museum or the quiet atmosphere of
a library can be a great outlet for lowkey couples.
“If a couple is really into art, they
could get married in anything
from a photography museum to an
aquarium,” says Wynn Austin, a wedding and event planner in San Diego.
Austin says she’s noticed libraries
and other public city spaces are
becoming more open-minded in
terms of offering wedding services
to interested parties. She suggests
looking for something with a touch
The unique, fun location might be set,
but it’s important not to go overboard
in the little things – that will make
even a cost-effective venue unnecessarily pricey.
Nedelcu suggests keeping an eye
on menus and rentals.“Off-site catering companies offer many menu
options, which allow for a significantly lower food cost per person,” she
says.“You can make your wedding as
fancy or low-key as you want depending on your budget.”
According to Austin, it’s the food
that will make or break any budget
– and the drinks.“Most caterers will
allow the couple to purchase their
own alcohol,” she says.
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Give Your Event a
Fresh Feel
By Anna Sachse
CTW Features
Just as a stunning piece of jewelry can really
set off a wedding gown, beautiful blooms are
like accessories for your big-day décor. But
we’re not just talking decoration here – with
countless colors, textures and options for
arranging, your florals also are an easy way to
create the vibe for your event.
Petal Planning
If you’re a fan of flowers, booking the shop or
event designer who will create your arrange-
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ments may be at the top of your to-do timeline.
“But don’t hire the florist until after you’ve
selected your venue and date, and secured
your main vendors – band, catering, and photographer,” says Karen Bussen, author of the
“Simple Stunning Wedding Organizer” (Stewart,Tabori & Chang, 2011), which has a section
on what to ask prospective florists and how to
calculate costs.“Then you’ll have a better sense
of what your décor budget is and what kind
of ambience you want to create.” Six or seven
months out should be a safe bet.
Before meeting with vendors, peruse magazines, books and websites for ideas. Rachel
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Bowes, owner of Seattle-based Finch &
Thistle Event Design, says that blogs are
her primary source of wedding inspiration because there are so many, and they
update daily.
“But I also
like the British Wedding
Flowers magazine, which
is available at
craft stores in
the U.S.”
As for
the average bill, you
can expect
to pay out
about 8 to 10 percent of your total
budget for blooms. However, the actual number varies widely, depending on
factors like your desired aesthetic (e.g.
lush and glamorous versus minimalist
and chic versus simple and rustic), the
type of flowers (think seasonal and
locally grown blooms to save money)
and the size of the event. In addition
to reception centerpieces, for a tradiless formal aesthetic that’s still strikers.“One stem of bird of paradise or
tional wedding you’ll likely want bouing. For example, instead of one large,
heliconia makes a great table accent
quets for the bride and bridesmaids,
when turned upside down in a glass
elaborate centerpiece, Bowes sugboutonnieres for groom, groomsmen,
gests using lots of small-bud vases and vase,” she says.
ushers and dads, corsages or small
For eco-friendly couples, Bowes
bottles in varying heights and shapes.
posies for MOBs and MOGs, and posrecommends
using a small potted tree
“That way your florist can showcase a
sibly petals and head wreaths for
in a lovely pot
few amazing blooms, such as peonies,
flower girls. But you can use flowers
while Bussen
garden roses and orchids, to their full
anywhere, from chair-back garlands,
or dendropotential, and use less expensive flowalters and the cake, to windows and
a few
ers and foliage as accents in the majorrestrooms.
ity of the vases.”As an alternative,
Once you have an idea of the
Bussen loves submerging exotic flow© CTW Features
approach, color palette
and price-range you want,
Bussen recommends
Alternative Arrangements
meeting with a couple
bouquet suits your dress and the overall
Real flowers are glorious, of course, but
vendors who seem like
spirit of your celebration,” Bussen says. As
if you’re crafty, there are numerous ways
a good fit before making
for alternative centerpieces, Bussen recomto personalize your “floral” design. For
your choice.
mends collections of different candles (pillar,
example, Bussen suggests making all your
Flower Forward
While the over-thetop, romantic look still
resonates with plenty of
couples, more and more
modern pairs are preferring a simple, clean and/or
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bouquets out of ribbon remnants, coiling
the pieces into rosette-style shapes and
wiring them together. Or you could fashion
the bride’s bouquet and groom’s bout out of
vintage brooches or buttons. Paper blooms
provide a rustic look, while fluffy ostrich
feathers feel elegant. “Just make sure your
votive, even floating), stacks of favorite books,
vintage picture frames, or mixing and matching these elements. Want a more natural vibe?
Bowes likes piles of gourds and pumpkins in
the fall or seasonal fruit in clear vases for a
modern look year-round.
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Photo & Video
maintain its value,” Maze says.
Look Out For Phonies
According to Freedline, it’s important
to keep an eye out for amateurs that
might provide illegitimate service.
“What has hurt the industry is amateurs buying cheap DSLR cameras and
opening up shops that are not legal,
not licensed, not collecting taxes and
that do not have experience or proper
gear,” Freedline says.
And while friends and family members can be extremely helpful resources for a less expensive wedding, it’s
the “friend of a friend of a friend”
sources that should raise eyebrows.
“Brides should only hire legal vendors – their deposits and memories
are at stake,” Freedline says.
Choose a Service That
Memories Made Easy
By Lindsey Romain
CTW Features
In this era of foolproof digital cameras,
ever-ready smartphone cameras and
viral videos, anyone and everyone can
be a photographer or videographer.
Wedding expenses are going nowhere
but up, so relying on a friend or family member to snap a few shots might
seem like a way to make ends meet.
When it comes to the wedding
day, though, finding a professional
– repeat, pro-fess-ion-al – photographer or videographer who can
capture the tone and emotion of a
wedding is important. Here’s how to
ensure great photos and videos without breaking the bank.
Keeping a Modest Budget
The recession has slashed the wedding budget for many couples, but
one of the positives of such financial
turmoil is a focus on the truly talented
wedding documentarians.
“The recession has weeded out
companies that provided inferior
customer service,” says Christopher
Figueroa, a New York-based wedding
Figueroa suggests that future brides
and grooms use customer-review sites
like Yelp and WeddingWire to help
find the photographer or videographer that’s perfect for their big day.
Reading reviews from other customers can point a finger in the right
direction: Do you want something
alternative and funky, classic or modern? The web makes it easier to find
the right person in that niche.
The recession also has meant a
refocus for veteran companies, says
Gary Freedline of Video Keepsakes,
which operates in Beverly Hills,
Calif., and Miami. His company had to
rethink packages, pricing and style.
This translates to more affordable
options for high-quality service.
Linda Chervenak Maze, a wedding
photographer at Art of Affection photography in Gainesville, Fla., says that
most of her company’s clients spend
about $2,000 to $3,000 on their services, a little higher than the average
$1,515 most couples paid in 2011 for
a photographer, according to The Wedding Report’s annual wedding photography and videography report. Maze
says she’s noticed that while couples
cut costs at all corners, photography is
one of the expense categories that has
retained its momentum.
“Their photographers are the one
part of the day that they will be able
to share with family and friends for
the rest of their lives, and this concept
seems to be helping our business
Whether you’ve committed to a videographer and photographer or are
still whittling down your choice, focus
on the packages and options that will
truly capture the magic of the day.
Figueroa says his Recap service is
his most popular – it’s a four- to fiveminute highlight reel of the day’s most
memorable moments.An option like
this keeps the price more affordable
and the video more to-the-point.
Freedline also notes that shortform videos are a more popular and
modern option, although older family
members tend to favor feature-length
wedding videos.“[Parents] feel cheated if they end up with a seven hour
event that is over in three to five minutes,” Freedline says.
For photography, Maze says she’s
noticed a trend in “first look” photographs, or photos that document the
pre-wedding festivities, like putting on
the dress and getting hair and makeup done.This allows photographers to
get more artistic shots and calms the
nerves of the bride, who might find
these snapshots encouraging.
Maze also recommends that brides
and grooms look for interesting, inexpensive venues with good photo ops.
“It affords us new and interesting
subject matter and backdrops for photographs,” she says.
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Symbols of Love
Months of planning and thousands
of dollars go into this one day, but there
are only a few pieces that live on after
that.The photos and videos, obviously,
but also the ultimate symbol of a wedding ceremony: the rings.
Expect to spend just a small percentage of your overall wedding budget on ­­your wedding bands – which
should not be too hard, considering
how mindful modern couples have
gotten about their wedding budgets;
according to Brides magazine’s 2011
American Wedding Study, the average cost of an engagement is $4,647,
down 27 percent from the 2009 average of $6,348.
A 2011 jewelry study from puts the average cost of
wedding bands at $1,126 for brides
and $491 for grooms.White gold
remains the popular choice for ring
metal, with 70 percent of brides opting and 34 percent of grooms for the
blanco band. But in 2011 the price of
gold skyrocketed – ending the year
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up 10 percent.With the price of gold
up, couples – especially grooms – are
looking to alternative metals.TheKnot
study reports that in 2011, 27 percent
of grooms opted for a tungsten ring
(up from 19 percent in 2008) and 16
percent chose titanium (up from 13
percent in ’08); the Jewelry Information Center, an industry trade group,
notes similar increases in non-gold
bands. Be aware, though, that some altmetals cannot be resized the way gold
can, though some jewelers may offer a
ring-replacement plan for an extra fee.
Don’t be shy about adding some
personal style, either. Grooms often
go for comfort, but in recent years
they’ve been open to going for textured styles or bands with diamonds.
Eternity bands – those with diamonds
embedded the whole circumference
– are popular among brides, as are
bands with colored gemstones, given
the popularity.
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–Timothy R. Schulte
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Food & Drinks
Brooke Sheldon, owner of Lilybrooke Events in Kennebunkport, Maine, the cost can vary
widely depending on the city,
menu, wedding size and how
the caterer charges for different
styles of service.“A plated dinner
involves more staff, but a buffet
requires more food because the
caterer can’t control portion
sizes,” Sheldon says.“And with
beverages, some places charge
per drink, while others charge
for an open bar based on the
That said, in general, you can
expect to shell out $20 to $80
per person for food, and $7 to
$20 per person for a four-hour
full bar.
Foodie Fabulous
By Anna Sachse
CTW Features
Whether it’s trays of fun gourmet sliders; a chic sushi station;
elegant plates of Kobe beef; or
a convivial family-style feast in
which every ingredient is organic, seasonal and locally grown;
the meal you serve at your wedding sets the tone for the entire
celebration.The key component
of your reception, it deserves
a caterer whose professionalism, style and, of course, cuisine
reigns supreme.
Proper Prep
According to, the majority of couples
both research and book their caterer
six to 12 months prior to the main
event – that is, if the caterer isn’t a
package deal with your venue. But
try to jump on it early if you want the
best, as they can only work a limited
number of weddings per weekend.
You’ll ideally want to meet with a
few of your favorite options and ask
a lot of questions, says Sharon Naylor,
author of “1001 Ways to Save Money
and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding, 3rd
Serve It Up
With Style
edition” (McGraw-Hill, 2008). How
creative can they get within your budget? Are they open to modifying their
standard menus with special recipes?
Can they provide variety for folks
who eat vegetarian or gluten-free?
Do they have recent experience with
your location? “If you’re having an athome wedding, ask them to tour your
kitchen,” Naylor says.“You might need
to rent them a cooking tent, which is
actually smart because it keeps the
magic out of sight and prevents dam-
age to your house.”
Once you’ve made your decision,
Naylor recommends scheduling a tasting that includes appetizers and different sauces that can be used to dress
up less pricey entrées.
Speaking of financial planning, dinner and drinks typically is your biggest
expense – The Wedding Report states
that the average couple spends more
than $10,000 on food and another
$3,000 on the bar – approximately 60
percent of the total budget. But, says
Before you start building your
menu, you’ll definitely want to
take your venue logistics into
account. If the kitchen is far
away from the dining area, for
example, you may want to pass
on a plated dinner (the most
formal option, it involves lots of
individual servings presented
at the same time) in favor of a
buffet because the latter can easily be replenished with single
platters and requires less staff,
says Jenn Louis, chef/owner of
Portland, Ore.-based catering
company Culinary Artistry.
Once you’ve got your parameters, it’s time to get creative!
Sheldon suggests incorporating
foods that mean something to
you – from your heritage, places
you’ve visited or local favorites.
“Just make sure your caterer is comfortable with the new recipes, and
willing to practice and perfect them.”
Another continuing trend is classic or comfort foods served in unique
ways, such as a mac and cheese or
mashed-potato station with gourmet
add-ons like truffle oil, mushrooms,
bacon and lobster.“Stations are growing more and more popular, since the
variety appeals to a large number of
guests’ particular tastes,” Naylor says.
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Food & Drinks
Comfort foods are great here, but also
consider Indian, Mexican, Italian or
Asian-themed stations, as are raw seafood bars and a carving table.
Decided on a royal weddinginspired daytime reception? Louis
loves elegant, lighter fare like flaky
croissants and yogurt with honey and
figs. Pair it with a mimosa or Bloody
Mary bar, a sparkling rosé, or drinks
that feel festive but have a lower alcohol content, such as a refreshing spritz
made with orange-flavored Aperol,
prosecco and soda water.
Good Libations
A full open bar can cost a pretty
penny, but, luckily, there are lots of
ways to stay within your budget that
still have plenty of flair.
First off, you can limit the offerings
to wine and beer only. If you have
tasty labels that are produced locally,
guests will feel like they’re partaking
in a unique treat. Microbrews in cans
have lots of character and typically are
less expensive than bottles, and kegs
are a cost-effective choice for weddings that have more than 150 guests.
Skip the expensive champagne and
substitute a more affordable Italian
prosecco, Spanish cava or California
sparkling wine for the toast.
If you really want liquor, simply
add in a handful of specialty cocktails.
Great options include your personal
favorites, classics, and seasonal flavors
like a mint julep, margarita, sangria or
pumpkin martini.“When you serve
something creative that guests don’t
get very often, it looks like you spent
more,” Naylor says.
Eco Eats
Don’t want your I Do dinner to negatively impact the planet? “If every couple committed just half of their food
and drink budget to buying local and
organic products, it would generate an
additional $15-billion worth of green
business!” says Kate Harrison, author
of “The Green Bride Guide: How to
Plan an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any
Budget” (Sourcebooks, 2008). is a great resource for
finding a like-minded caterer; Harrison
also recommends looking at and
Even if you can’t go 100-percent
organic, using all or mostly in-season
local or regional foods will decrease
the carbon footprint of your meal
while increasing the yum factor –
think lobster or clam chowder in New
England, or locally raised barbecue
and fresh corn in the south.
When stocking a green bar, again,
look to local spirit, wine and beer
producers, or explore your organic
options. For beer, Harrison recommends Wolaver’s Fine Organic Ales,
Peak Organic Brewing Company (try
the Nut Brown Ale!) and Fish Brewing
Company, which provides links to fishconservation groups on their website.
For wine, she suggests looking to fair
trade and/or organic boxed wines –
there are now some really good ones
available and they’re easier to recycle.
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M u s i c & E n t e r t a i n me n t
By Anna Sachse
CTW Features
Sure, you want the ceremony to be
meaningful and the dinner to be
memorable, but what really makes a
wedding a party – be it refined or rollicking – is the entertainment.And to
get this party started, the most important element, of course, is this music.
According to &’s 2010 Real
Weddings Study, most couples begin
researching bands and/or DJs nearly
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eight months before their wedding,
and book the music maker six to
seven months out.The study also
found that, on average, couples nationwide spent $2,920 for a band and
$854 for a DJ.That said, prices vary
widely depending on experience,
notoriety and location, with large,
popular bands in big cities often costing $20,000 or more.
To find great, reliable performers,
first ask your friends who’ve recently
gotten married what they thought of
their band/DJ, advises Anne Chertoff,
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M u s i c & E n t e r t a i n me n t
contributing editor for also can
search the vendor listings
in city-specific bridal magazines or on wedding-related
websites. If someone strikes
your fancy, try to see them
in action at a wedding,
bridal event or individual
show; but if a live viewing is
impossible, Chertoff recommends requesting a DVD or
video so that you can get a
good idea of their professionalism and stage presence as
well as their sound and musical range.
If you find that a particular band or DJ’s vibe is music to
your ears, the next step is to set up an
interview.“Explain what you’re thinking in terms of musical selections
and see if they get excited,” says Anja
Winikka, site editor for
You’ll also want to ask about their
experience with weddings (hopefully
lots!), what kind of sound system they
use, what requirements are included
in their contract, if you can create a
do-not-play list and if they’re willing to
learn/acquire songs that aren’t already
included in their repertoire.
Have ample funds? In addition
to the band or DJ that can offer
something for everyone, personalize
your event with a ukulele, harpist or
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trio for the ceremony
(consider classical renditions of rock songs
for your walk down the
aisle!), and a line dance,
swing or salsa band that
could play during the
cocktail hour and/or part
of the reception.
But if you’re on a tighter budget, you’ll likely
be better off opting for a
DJ (who also can emcee
and play many genres of
music) or springing for a
single band that’s capable of playing ceremony,
cocktail hour and both
dinner and dancing, says Chertoff.
Filling up an iPod or laptop with your
favorite tunes is another way to save
money, and about 9 percent of couples now choose that route, according
to the 2010 Real Weddings Study. But
take note:You’ll still need an emcee,
you should be prepared for technical
glitches, and it’s key that you assign
a point-person to start and stop the
device for special dances and toasts,
or to skip to the next song if the current one just emptied the dance floor.
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Fun and Games
These days, girls (and boys) who just
wanna have FUN at their weddings
are looking beyond music to entertainment that includes everything
from elaborate photo booths, lawn
games, DIY dessert or cocktail buffets and crafting guestbook stations,
to karaoke and mechanical bulls
(seriously, mechanical bulls). These
extras can really amp up the festivities
and are a great conversation starter,
says Winikka. But keep in mind that
a wedding isn’t a Bar Mitzvah where
you need a lot of activities to keep the
kids from getting bored, adds Chertoff. Choose one or two wow-factor
add-ons so that your guests have a
great time, but the dinner tables and
dance floor aren’t empty all night.
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Sweet Treats
By Anna Sachse
CTW Features
If you’re a sucker for sweets, the cake
is probably the star of your to-do list.
To ensure you get a baker whose
culinary and aesthetic abilities you
adore, Sharon Alexander, owner of
boutique bakery Sweet Sensations in
Newnan, Ga., advises booking at least
six months prior to the big day. But
first, schedule tastings with a few top
contenders, inquire if they bake from
scratch or use mixes, and ask to see
lots of pictures of cakes they did for
actual weddings – if a baker clearly
specializes in a classic look, they may
not be the best fit for your colorful,
topsy-turvy request.
In general, plan to order a cake that
would serve about 80 percent of your
guests,as some people don’t eat cake and
If your mantra is “more is always better,” consider getting a small, oneor two-tier cake for cutting, and then offering an array of favorite treats.
Gallagher loves pretty pastries like macarons and cake pops, as well as
heart-warming sweets like Whoopie Pies, cookies-and-milk and seasonal desserts like mini hot chocolates, pumpkin pie and berry tarts. For
even more flair, include a DIY dessert station, and let guests build their
own gooey s’mores, giant ice cream sundaes or colorful shaved ice.
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others will leave
before it’s served.
Prices typically
range from $400
to $1,600 or more,
depending on the
town,cake size
and ingredients
– fondant is more
expensive than
intricate details
like sugar flowers
and royal icing can
really bump up the
In this era of “Ace of Cakes,” couples
who are looking to personalize the
traditional tower of tiers certainly can
have an architectural masterpiece that
replicates their city skyline or a scene
from “Star Wars.” But Katelin Gallagher,
senior editor for,
suggests using textured buttercream
and herbal accents for a more organic
look, or considering fondant cutouts
for a contemporary vibe. Or stick with
a simple white
exterior and focus
on memorable
loves Neapolitan
and coconut-andlemon-curd cakes,
but her top pick
is a chocolate
cake with dulce
de leche filling.“It
tastes like a candy
If you want
something visually unique, you can
add a groom’s cake, the southern tradition that is gaining popularity across
the country.“We’ve done just about
anything you can imagine, including
flooded woods, the groom’s dog, cars,
stadiums, computers, mountains, games,
etc.,” says Alexander. Need more unique
dessert inspiration? Gallagher recommends checking out, and
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& Relax
By Lindsey Romain
CTW Features
Are honeymoons an endangered species? Seemingly. In 2010, 81 percent of married couples
went on a honeymoon, down from 93 percent in
2008, according to a study done by The Wedding
Report.As couples continue to crunch numbers
to make wedding ends meet, honeymoons have
become one of the many sacrifices.After all, they
have many years of wedded bliss ahead of them
in which they can travel.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Loris Fusco,
romance and travel planner for Montrose Travel
in Glendale, Calif., suggests carving out a budget
for the honeymoon in the initial wedding planning process so it isn’t a last-minute expenditure
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that breaks the bank.
Another way to keep honeymoon prices low?
Don’t be afraid to travel in the off-season.Try a
fall wedding instead of a summer one, especially
if a honeymoon is important to you.
“June is traditionally popular, but October
has become the new June, with couples taking
advantage of the off-travel seasons and lower
available prices,” Fusco says.
According to Fusco, destination weddings are
popular for 2012, since they allow the whole
family to experience the fun of beaches, spa
days, yoga, surfing and scuba diving.This way, the
newly married couples can stay in their retreat
for the honeymoon while the rest of the guests
head home.
“Tropical locations remain the most popular
destinations,” Fusco says of destination weddings and honeymoons, noting that Mexico is
one of the top choices given its many options of
all-inclusive luxury travel and honeymoon packages at more affordable prices.“Fiji is also really
popular because there are so many small and private islands that are less crowded and that offer
features such as bungalows and more private
beaches and settings for couples.”
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