Miscellaneous Ideas and Helpful Hints
AnniversariesCheck out the List of Wedding Anniversary Symbols (ex. 25th anniversary is the silver anniversary).
AnnouncementsAnnouncing your engagement is simply a matter of telling your friends and family that the two of you have made a decision to be married and you'd like them to share in your happiness. First, announce the news to each set of parents, in person, with both you and your fiance present. If this isn't possible, a phone call when both of you are present is okay. The next step is to arrange a time for all the parents to meet, especially if they don't already know each other. Keep the wedding planning discussions light at this first meeting (discuss potential dates, formal or informal, # of guests, etc.). You may also want to have engagement portraits taken to give to the parents.
Engagement pictures can also be used to spread the word to everyone by posting the announcement in the newspaper. Your local paper has forms to fill out and submit with your engagement photograph. (They often say black and white only, but color will work just fine.) This photo can be of either just the bride or the both of you (or you can omit the photograph altogether to save $). The published announcement may be made by one or both sets of parents, or be announced by the two of you. For reasons of security, it may be best not to print details such as the exact wedding date, ceremony and reception locations, or addresses of you and your families. Some couples opt to put a wedding announcement in the paper the weekend of the wedding rather than an engagement announcement. Some couples do both and some do neither -- it's a matter of personal and family preference. These announcements may include a picture of the bride, a picture of the couple, or no picture at all.
Birdseed RosesThis is an alternative way of throwing birdseed at the bride and groom. Totally different alternatives are throwing dried rose petals or blowing bubbles at the couple (see section on bubbles below). Another idea is for each guest to release helium-filled balloons into the air as you drive off after the reception. Or to be real adventurous, release doves into the air!
To make your own birdseed roses (they cost $1.50 - $2.50 each in the wedding industry), buy McCall's pattern 6969 or make them with the following directions. Most wedding coordinators suggest only buying/making enough birdseed roses for 75% of your guests since many usually leave the reception early (if this is to take place after the reception).
1. Purchase the following items: satin in your wedding colors (or other any desired color) -- 4"x4"/rose; green floral wire with a diameter the size of a flower stem -- 9"/rose; green floral tape -- 10"-12"/rose; green silk leaf (optional) -- 1-2/rose.
2. Cut the satin into strips 4" wide. Sew the strips into tubes, allowing for about a 1/4" seam allowance so they won't come apart later.
3. Cut the sewn tubes into 4" sections (these are your roses).
4. Cut the floral wire into 9" pieces and floral tape into 10"-12" pieces. Insert one end into the end of each rose. Holding the satin rose against the wire, wrap the floral tape around this rose base several times to secure it to the floral wire.
5. Next, hold the stem of a silk leaf against the wire and secure it to the wire by wrapping the floral tape around it.
6. Continue wrapping the floral tape around the wire until you reach the bottom. Although the wire is green, this makes the rose stem look more uniform.
7. A few days prior to the wedding, pour a small amount of bird seed into each rose (fill until 1/3-1/2 full). Then fold the remaining material at the top of the rose (should be about 1") down into the tube to hold in the seed.
8. To hand out the seed you need to put it in something that will ensure the birdseed won't easily fall out of your roses. One way to do this is to place them in a basket, one on top of another. Or get some florist foam and place it in the bottom of the basket; insert the roses into the foam just as a florist would do.
Bouquet TossThis tradition of tossing your bouquet to the bachelorettes present at your wedding is often omitted today for various reasons. Review the guest list; if there will be a very small number of unmarried men and women at the wedding, you may want to consider eliminating this tradition. An alternative is to have a scatter bouquet (also called a starburst bouquest) which is actually several small bouquets tied together. Remove the ribbon/wire holding them altogether and toss them into the crowd, which could consist of either just bachelorettes or all women. Another nice gesture is to present your bouquet to a special friend or relative, or to an engaged guest who is the next person at your wedding who will be married.
BubblesA rather new alternative to throwing birdseed at the bride and groom as they exit the reception is to blow bubbles at them. Make sure you get bubbles specifically made for wedding purposes since these don't contain dyes found in ordinary bubbles (whose dyes will stain clothing such as satin dresses). One source for these wedding bubbles is MG Novelty/Dillon Importing. Their phone # is 1-800-654-3696 (or 405-948-1234). The wedding bubbles are in little plain white bottles (with a wand attached to the cap) and cost $5.50 per box of 24 (plus shipping). They have snap-off caps and each bottle has 0.6 oz of bubble solution. They are offered as plain white bottles, church-shaped bottles, and white bottles with a little plastic dove on the lid. Visit Robyn and Todd's In Defense of Wedding Bubbles site for more info on wedding bubbles.
CakeHere are a few tips about wedding cakes:
CenterpiecesWe're using small lined baskets with fresh spring flowers planted in them as our table centerpieces for the reception. They're simple to make, relatively inexpensive and beautiful. Our other ideas were floating candles or floating flowers in clear shallow bowls with ivy spread around the bowls. Another cute idea is to have framed photographs of the bride and groom at different stages in their lives/relationship (from baby pictures to dating pictures to the present day) on each table. Check out more Ideas on Centerpieces or check out the list of Centerpiece Ideas compiled by Josie McCrary Morgan.
Ceremony LocationsOther than churches, there are many possible locations to hold your wedding ceremony and reception. Ideas might be:
For other ideas on ceremony locations, visit the Wedding Ceremonies in Ottawa site.
ClipartOne source of wedding-related clipart for programs or invitations is the CD-Rom by Softket Software called Clipmasterpro (5001 images). Their address is:
Softkey Software Produts of Florida Inc.
4800 North Federal Highway
3rd Floor Building D
Baco Raton FL 33431
Sales (407) 367-0005
Tech (407) 367-1415
Also check out Kelly's Romantic Gestures, Barry's Clip Art Server, or FreeArt by Harlan Wallach for Victorian clipart.
Computer Planning ProgramsThere are several computer wedding planning programs out on the market to help with all the plans.
PC programs are:
Count Down to the Big Day!Some couples count down the days until their wedding day in various special ways. An item is removed from the count down links or a task is completed each day until the wedding day. Suggestions are:
DancesThe sooner you have your first dance, the sooner guests will start dancing and the sooner the party will start. There are dozens of popular line dances commonly done at wedding receptions. Here are a few ideas of dances with themes to get everyone involved! If you have suggestions for other dances, let me know!
Date of the WeddingWhen choosing your wedding date consider other major family events and holidays. Keep in mind that having a wedding on a holiday weekend has both pros and cons. Sunday weddings are usually easier to secure on short planning (i.e. less popular so easier to find photographers, etc.). Be sure your clergy will perform a Sunday wedding first if this is what you are thinking of doing. Keep in mind that many popular reception facilities and wedding services are booked up to 18 months on advance, especially for Saturday weddings, or May/September weddings.
Environmental Friendly Wedding Ideasfrom Denise Castellucci (Deni@ibar.com) reprinted with her permission:
Glass ClinkingAt some weddings the guests may clink their drinking glasses to try to get the bride and groom to kiss at the reception. Some couples oblige, while others dislike the custom and try to impose a different kissing tradition. Other ideas to get the bride and groom to kiss are:
Guest Book IdeasAn alternative to the typical lined guest book is an unlined book to allow the guests to be more creative and maybe write the couple a little note. To get this idea across, put a poem in the front like this:
But there is a catch (you knew there'd be one)
Now before you head off in disgust or disdain
Just give us a moment and let us explain...
This is our guest book which as you can see
Has pages laid bare, left blank, and empty
So adopt a clean page, or maybe a pair
Write something special with style and flair
Fill it with words for the bride and the groom
Only then can you sign it, there's plenty of room!
Guest Favor Ideas(taken from a post by an unknown contributor and selene (email@example.com, reprinted with permission) on one of the wedding newsgroups:) "The idea behind favors is to give your guests a token of your esteem for them. For most of us, however, it's financially impossible to provide something that would be appropriate and welcomed and cherished by everyone. Certainly, favors aren't *required* at a wedding! Try to do something that has meaning to you or your friends. Don't give out matchbooks with your name on them if no one smokes or uses candles. Don't give out Jordan almonds, unless you are very traditional or actually like them. Browse around in large bulk craft stores and see if anything strikes your fancy. Is there an ethnic tradition in your background you can work with? Or perhaps you like herbs and want to work with their meanings. Is there a holiday near your wedding you can work with? Are you having a theme in the wedding to follow with? Is there a particular craft you are known for? Are you a chocoholic? (There's a cute little poem for putting chocolate kisses in plastic spoons wrapped with a bit of tulle - these couldn't be very expensive to make.) Other things I've seen or heard of: blown glass birdbath tied with ribbon in bridal colors (very fancy wedding), book marks, tiny baskets filled with nuts and decorated with ribbons, flower seed packets, refrigerator magnets that go with your theme, small pots of flowers, tree seedlings, gold fish, little boxes of fancy chocolates, little B&G colored white chocolates...Tiny little bells with ribbons tied on in your colors and a little piece of paper with your names and date might be inexpensive (depends on the bells - sometimes they are available quite cheaply from bead shops, too). Today wedding momentos are often given to the guests either as they enter or leave the reception or above each dinner plate."
Here's a bunch of ideas that I personally like:
Host/HostessThese people stand by the door and greet the guests as they arrive for the wedding ceremony and/or as they arrive for the reception. This is a nice idea because the hostesses are able to converse with people they haven't seen in a while and are also able to make introductions between the families of the bride and groom. It also helps in telling people where to go (i.e. "The reception is in the room to your left"). They also make sure the caterers and band have everything ready when they're supposed to!
InvitationsThey should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding day and make the response deadline 3-4 weeks before the wedding. If you want to make your own, some sources for various types of paper are:
LicensesLaws regarding marriage licenses vary from state to state. Usually they are obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Both the bride and groom must be present to apply (as far as I know) and each will be required to show identification such as a driver's license. You will also need to know the complete, full names of both parents, including the mothers' maiden names. Things to find out before heading down to your nearest court are:
Maps for InvitationsIt is very helpful to include a map in the wedding invitations (and one in the rehearsal dinner invitations) to ensure that the guests know where to locate the hotel, ceremony site, and reception site (and rehearsal dinner site). Suggested methods/sources on making a map are:
MinisterThe officiant usually gets between $50.00 - $150.00 (based on my experience in Virginia, USA, and for a church in which you belong).
Name ChangeSome brides choose not to change their last name, but if you do here is a list of places with whom you should change your name:
Out-of-Town Guest BasketsIt's a nice idea to leave a basket of goodies for each out-of-town guest at the reception desk of the hotel. You might want to write to your chamber of commerce and ask for local literature (restaurants, museums, regional sightseeing guides, etc.). Write to restaurants in the area explaining how many out-of-towners will be visiting -- ask for discounts, brochures, etc. Items to put in the baskets might be:
Pregnant BridesmaidIf you know that one of your bridesmaids will be pregnant at the tie of your wedding, don't panic! Order the dress 1-2 sizes big and order a couple yards of extra fabric so that the front panel can be replaced if necessary. This way if she doesn't need it, you can use the extra fabric for decorations. If she won't feel comfortable in the bridemaid dress you picked, offer to let her wear another dress she owns which compliments the others.
Program of the CeremonyMany weddings include a ceremony program so that the guests can follow the order of the ceremony. A program might contain the following:
Covers for the programs can found at your local religious supply store, at your clergy/church office, or a copy center such as Kinko's. Other sources are mail-order invitation companies, or make your own!
Receiving LineThis tradition is often omitted today, with the bride and groom mingling among the guests to say hello instead. If you do decide to have a receiving line, there are three commonly used orders. They are written here with the guest walking left to right.
ReceptionHere is the itinerary we followed for our reception. Talk to your caterer and/or wedding consultant for other ideas on how the events should be organized:
If you are having a formal dinner and need/desire to number the tables, an alternative is to give each table a name -- a name of significance to the the bride and groom. Suggestions are places you've been together (i.e. Disney World, Central Park, etc.)
You may want to undercut your expected number of guests, especially if you are having a buffet. There will always be people who respond that they are coming and then don't make it.
Ask the caterer to make a basket of food for the bride and groom to take with them after the reception. Often they are so busy at the reception that they don't have any time to eat, or really think to eat. The basket of food will be very appreciated after the reception.
One new idea for reception (or rehearsal dinner) entertainment is a video presentation. The video is a compilation of you and your fiance's snapshots turned into a nostalgic slide show. Set the slides to some music, and include enough pictures/music for a 10 - 15 minute show. You could start with baby pictures of you both, then elementary school pictures, etc., up through the present. It's a wonderful trip down memory lane for you and your guests!
Many couples do not want to include music/dancing at the reception. Don't feel like you have to include it if you don't want to! Just talking with one another can be enough. If you feel you need to add some non-music related activities, some ideas are: video presentation, hiring a magician, medieval performing group, a comedian, or playing games.
Choosing the beverages to serve at the reception can be quite a big decision. It is a good idea to talk to both families to get an idea as to preferences. If you serve beer, determine whether serving it by the bottle or from a keg is most suitable/economical for the party. Similarly, wine can be served by the glass or you could purchase a certain number of carafes of wine to be placed on the tables. Mixed drinks are also an option, although it can be expensive. An option is a cash bar for this, although this is not too common. Champagne is traditionally used to toast the bride and groom; you could buy a round for the entire party or just the bride and groom while the others toast with other beverages. And finally, always remember to serve a few choices of non-alcoholic beverages for the little and old ones alike. Coffee is also an idea for an after-dinner drink. Keep in mind that you will usually have to pay a bartender fee (usually by the hour) as well.
Rehearsal DinnerThe rehearsal dinner occurs after the ceremony rehearsal, usually the night before the wedding. Choose a place relatively close to the church. Remember to include a fish or vegetable entree if you have a vegetarian in your party. Using placecards on each table help eliminate confusion during seating (and helps avoid problems like a friend getting separated from other friends and sitting with a bunch of the family's relatives instead).
If you have a lot of out-of-town guests that you wish you could invite to the rehearsal dinner but can't afford to, there is a way to include them in the evening. After the dinner (at a pre-determined time), open it up to any of your out-of-town guests and provide chips, dip, etc. -- sort of an open-bar cocktail hour with munchies provided. This gives additional time for the guests to mingle and meet each other as well.
RingsTry getting a ComfortFit band; they're rounded inside the band and a little more expensive, but well worth it! (especially for the groom who's not used to wearing rings). A wedding band/engagement ring does not have to have diamonds. Many other stones are becoming quite popular alternatives. Check out the Meanings of Various Stones.
Ring Inscription IdeasMany people choose to have something special inscribed in the inside of each other's wedding band. Here are some ideas on inscriptions. For a long list of other "poesies" that were in rings over the past century, check out these Antique Ring Inscriptions.
Sealing WaxSealing wax (for invitation seals) can be ordered from a company called Flax at the following phone #: 800-343-FLAX (3529). There's not a huge selection of signet styles, just the alphabet and a few other designs.
Sixpence for Your ShoeThis custom comes from the saying "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence for your shoe." The bride is to include these things in her wedding attire for good luck. The 'old' represents tradition, the 'new' represents a new life, the 'borrowed' represents friendship, the 'blue' is supposed to protect the bride from evil spirits, and the 'silver sixpence' is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck. The sixpence traditionally goes in the bride's left shoe. To read more about the sixpence, visit the What Is a Sixpence? page.
Sixpences are hard to come by these days, but one source is Heritage Collections, PO Box 1626, Springdale, AR 72765. Phone orders 501-751-1822, fax orders 501-750-9910. The prices are as follows:
Sovereign sixpence (1947-1967 @ $12 each)
Silver sixpence 1946 and earlier @ $14.00
Other sources are Baje ($14), Hortense Hewitt, Lillian Rose, and Beverly Clark ($10.95).
Thank-You NotesThank-you notes are sent to each person who gives you an engagement, shower, or wedding gift. If you order thank-you notes with your invitations it will save you money in the long run. When addressing a thank-you note, you don't have to be as formal as with invitations (i.e. abbreviations are OK) but return address labels are out (according to all the miss-manners people)! Be sure to hand-write them and try to send them out within 3-4 weeks of receiving a gift (it's hard, but don't worry too much if it takes 2 months; they'll understand). Keep a log of gifts received and check the names off after you write a note. You don't have to send written thanks to your fiance or parents, though they might love finding a surprise note of thanks! If you receive a gift from two or three people, write a note to each person separately. For larger groups (like your co-workers for example), you can send one note to the entire group. Even if you return a gift, avoid mentioning this in your thank-you note -- simply offer your thanks.
Toasting Options (at the reception)Usually just before or after the wedding cake is cut, toasts are made to the bride and groom. There are several ways the toast(s) can take place:
Toast Idea 1: "May you never remember what's best forgotten, and may you never forget what is best remembered." (This is an Irish wedding blessing.)
Toast Idea 2, from the best man: "It is an honor and privilege for me to propose a toast to the bride and groom. I have known groom's name for several years. (relate story) I remember when he first met bride's name and suddenly lost interest in (our previous activities). But seriously, groom's name is a great guy and he has found a wonderful person to marry. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in wishing the bride and groom much success and happiness in their new lives together!"
TransportationWhen planning the transportation for your wedding day, if you opt to rent a limo keep the following in mind: a corporate stretch limo may be almost identical to a luxury stretch limo except for price -- a luxury limo may have a TV, VCR, etc. which are unnecessary for a wedding day.
If you need a rental car for the honeymoon and you are under age 25, rental may be difficult or expensive. Some rental car companies do not rent to people under age 25 and most that do charge an extra fee per day just for being under 25. One company that doesn't charge an extra fee is Alamo Rental Cars if you belong to USAA (car insurance company).
UshersUsually one usher is needed for every 50 guests to seat the guests at the ceremony. They can wear either tuxes or suits. Be sure to give the ushers specific directions as to how to escort people to their seats, and who escorts which important family members at what times.
VideographerIn the opinion of many, there is no better way to preserve the emotions of your wedding than on video. When you visit with various videographers, view their demo tapes and discuss the style of taping and any personal points you wish to cover. Find out what types of special effects they use and decide if you want them in your video. For the ceremony taping, the fees depend on how many cameras you want. Ask your church about this first since many do not allow cameras in the front of the sanctuary -- many only allow them in the back of the church or up in the balcony. Find out if the videographer packages typically include "interviews" of some of your guests who say a few words into the camera wishing the newlyweds good luck, etc. Decide if you want this feature. (Some people decide not to do this since it may make some guests feel uncomfortable.) Once again, make sure you feel comfortable with the videographer and ensure that he knows the sacredness of the ceremony. Some videographers tend to make the ceremony into a "show" and do not respect the fact that it is a sacred time. For more information on wedding videography, take a look at the Wedding Video Guide and FAQ by Mark Goldberg. [back to the Photo Checklist.]
VowsMany couples choose to write their own ceremony to relfect their own beliefs and feelings. There are guidelines you must follow in many religions, and some may only allow you to rewrite certain portions of the ceremony. There are five basic parts in a wedding ceremony in the United States that may be customized:
One neat memory-book is one in which you write your vows. This book could also contain messages written
by the bridal party on the wedding day, and messages you write to one another on each anniversary. You
could also put this in a "time-capsule" and include other memorabilia from your wedding. Items might
include notes left by guests at the wedding reception to the bride and groom. You can save the "time-capsule"
and open it at a predetermined anniversary in the future.
Visit the Secular Humanist site for some
sample wedding ceremonies. Other examples contributed by various people and reprinted with their permission are:
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