Thursday, March 25

Two Dads, One Aisle… What’s a Bride to Do?


If you’re like me and your parents are divorced then it can be slightly challenging to plan certain aspects of the wedding. Who sits where at the ceremony and reception? How exactly should the invitation be worded? And most importantly… who will walk the bride down the aisle?


While my father is not remarried, my mother is, and I lived mostly with my mother and stepfather through middle school and high school. Even still, I maintained close ties with my biological father over the years and have always thought of myself as having two dads instead of one. All three of my parents were actively involved in my life while I was growing up and therefore became accustomed to being comfortable in each other’s presence during sporting events, birthdays, celebrations, etc. I feel fortunate that they do get along so well because I am now afforded total reassurance that everyone will have a wonderful time together on my wedding day. I’m doing my very best to share responsibilities and honors equally between both of my dads so that one doesn’t feel more important than the other, and I couldn’t possibly choose only one of them to walk me down the aisle. Lucky for me, they’ve kindly agreed to share in this honor together.


(Photo: askaweddingplanner.com)

Tradition has it that the bride is only escorted down the aisle by one man in her life, the one who is responsible for “giving her away” to her new husband. But we all know that modern weddings aren’t quite that simple since many brides now have divorced parents (sometimes amicable but sometimes not). It’s not uncommon for a brother or other family member to walk the bride down the aisle if a father has passed away or is unable to. For some brides, a close friend or even a mother is the one who walks with her, and an even more untraditional bride might walk down the aisle by herself. None are right and none are wrong since every wedding ceremony is entirely personal and unique. I believe every aisle walk should be customized to whatever is suitable and preferred by the bride.


When I was considering how to share the spotlight with both of my dads I ventured into a bit of research to get some ideas. I learned that some brides in my circumstance had one father escort them down the first half of the aisle while the other father stepped in midway to take her down the second half. This didn’t appeal to my situation though because my walk will be very brief and the aisle will be much too short to split in half. Another modern version of the aisle walk is having a father walk on each side of the bride. I really like this idea because then both of my dads can walk with me together without having to decide who should walk me first versus second. It does help that I also have control over the width of the aisle (since the ceremony guests will be seated in chairs versus benches or pews) so there is no issue in making sure there is plenty of room for three people to walk side-by-side. I feel so lucky that I have two wonderful fathers that I’ll be able to share that special moment with.


It can be difficult for a bride to decide exactly how to walk down the aisle or who to share the honor with, so here are some pointers from ehow.com if you are faced with this tough decision…
  • Ask your biological father to walk you down the aisle if you are on good terms with him and if this tradition feels like the natural choice for you.
  • Choose your stepfather if he has been your paternal substitute and if your natural father is estranged from you or unavailable.
  • Consider walking with both your father and your stepfather if both of them agree. Your natural father might walk you halfway down the aisle and turn you over to your stepfather to walk the rest of the way, or they could both walk all the way with you. If your officiant plans to ask, "Who gives this woman?" they both might answer, "We do."
  • Consider walking with your mother or with a beloved grandfather or uncle if there is no father or stepfather to accept this honor.
  • Choose your adoptive father, who would be a more appropriate and loving choice than a biological father whom you may have met as an adult, if you are an adoptee.
  • Consider having both of your parents accompany you down the aisle. This is traditional in Jewish weddings and is becoming more common in non-Jewish weddings since it allows both parents to share the honor equally.
  • Walk down the aisle alone if you prefer it. British royalty do it, and you can, too.
  • Think about walking down the aisle with your husband-to-be if you don't want any suggestion of being given away, and if you prefer not to walk alone.
  • Consider letting children from a previous marriage walk with you and stand with you at the altar, but resist the temptation to have them give you away. After all, you are not leaving them, and your new marriage will not change your relationship to them.
Are you in a similar situation where you'll have an untraditional aisle walk? Who will walk you down the aisle?

Monday, March 22

I Said Yes to the Reception Dress!


I was hoping to work a bit on our DIY invitations over the weekend but life got in the way and I never got around to it. I did, however, purchase my reception dress! Joe and I had visited the mall Saturday for a few quick purchases and I couldn’t help but wander into the White House Black Market store just to “browse”. When I found a beautiful white cocktail dress proudly displayed on the window mannequin, I instantly pictured wearing it at the end of my reception and wanted to try it on. But then I saw the price tag. Feeling defeated, I left the store and told Joe about my great discovery before becoming discouraged about the price. I suggested that I might try the dress on in the future when I knew if I’d be able to afford it as the wedding drew closer.
Sunday, however, had a lovely surprise “in store” for me. As fate would have it, I had to return to the mall to make a quick exchange on a purchase that I’d made the day before and once again, I walked past the gorgeous dress that seemed to be beaming under a spotlight in the WHBM store. This time I was alone at the mall though, so I vowed that I would at least try it on as I made my way out of the mall after making the exchange. Once I got that task out of the way, I hurried through the thick crowd back to the store. I do believe that I was noticeably on a very important mission as I headed straight to the rack that held the white dresses. I was hoping I didn’t look to desperate as I shuffled through the hanging clothes and picked out my size. An associate came over almost immediately and asked if I’d like to try it on. “Yes please!” I smiled. I perused the clearance section for a few moments before finally ending my journey at the dressing room. The associate had kindly chosen some gorgeous heels for me to try on with the dress and a cute matching belt that had been clad on the mannequin. I pulled the curtain shut and then zipped on the dress. Just a bit too large. I asked the associate to bring me another size, and this time… the dress fit perfectly! I tugged the high heels onto my feet and stepped outside of the room to get a better look in the large mirror. Something about wearing it just felt right and sent me a great vibe. It was comfortable, practical, stylish, and classy. Best of all, I could see myself wearing it on my wedding day!
I told the associate I didn’t want to buy impulsively but that I also didn’t want to be disappointed if my size sold out before I could come back to the store to buy it. It was time to seize the moment. “I’m going to take it!” I blurted, a bit surprised myself. As I removed the dress and got ready to visit the cash register I felt a sigh of relief that it was one more thing to cross off my to-do list. Suddenly my self-reassurance coaching was interrupted by the associate just outside the dressing room: “Good news! I have coupon that will give you 20% off and you’ll also receive a $25 gift card to be used next month.”  Jackpot! “You just made my day!!” I exclaimed back.
(Photo: whitehouseblackmarket.com)
On the way home I called Joe to tell him about my unexpected purchase. I was unsure whether or not I wanted him to see the dress before I wore it. After all, it’s a dress I’ll be wearing for the second half of my reception and for the post-reception party and not my actual wedding dress. I left it up to him. “Do you want me to see it?” he asked hesitantly. “I don’t know if I want to see it. I can’t decide!” So I told him we might as well just wait until the big day to make it one final surprise toward the end of the wedding night.  So for the next 195 days it will hang in a sealed black wardrobe bag within my closet just waiting for the day when it will get to shine once again.
Check out the new Wedding Boutique on White House Black Market’s website. They have trendy bridesmaid dresses and a sexy new wedding gown!

Wednesday, March 17

The Modern Bride’s Budget: Who’s Paying?


My fiance recently came across an article that debates who is responsible for paying for the wedding. I thought it brought up a great point… exactly who should cover the costs of the wedding day?

Traditional etiquette has suggested that the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon and that the bride’s family pays for all the rest. More recently, however,  it seems as though the bride and groom have begun taking more of the responsibility of wedding costs upon themselves. I believe there are a few obvious explanations for this. One is that women are no longer tying the knot right out of high school and are waiting longer to get married. In recent decades, many women have continued their education by attending college and therefore obtain more demanding jobs that keep them too busy to raise a family. Women generally have become much more independent and don’t feel the need to marry right away to have someone “take care of” them. For the first time in history, women are putting careers ahead of marriage and have the confidence to follow their dreams that don’t necessarily involve starting a family before they hit their mid-20’s. So I think one reason brides feel more of an obligation to pay for their own weddings is because they are waiting until they are a bit older to get married. These women are already self-sufficient and not relying on their parents to pay their bills.
(Photo: ArenaFlowers.com)

Another reason I believe brides and grooms are paying for much of their own weddings now instead of relying on parents is because modern weddings have become completely blown out of proportion. Take a look at some of the popular TV shows like Platinum Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress. Most parents can’t afford weddings that extravagant, nor should they be expected to. Weddings in our modern culture have completely transformed from what they used to be and seem to have strayed from their true meaning. What was once just a simple celebration involving close family and friends rejoicing the couple and enjoying cake has since become a giant spectacle of distant friends and acquaintances making the guest list and thousands of dollars spent on a table decoration and expensive embellishments. People have become more concerned with throwing the biggest and best party instead of focusing on what the day is really about… sharing love with family, friends, and your fiance. It's no wonder why parents are sealing their wallets and stiffening their contributions. Weddings have just gotten way too expensive.

An article by Teresa Mears on MSN (read it here) makes some really good points on how to have a reasonable and realistic wedding budget but still have a fabulous wedding:

• Decide what a wedding really means to you.
• Let the theme develop from the location.
• Ditch the “It only happens once” thinking.
• Know when to scrimp and when to splurge.
• Involve your friends and family.

The article also references the results of a survey done by Brides Magazine that questioned whether or not brides would rather have their parents contribute money for their wedding, or just give them cash instead to spend on whatever they’d like. Apparently more than half of the respondents said they would take the cash. For the brides who preferred this response, their reasoning may just be because they would rather spend that money on more important things such as a house or a necessary expense, and I find that totally acceptable. But I don't think parents should feel obligated to fork over money if they aren't able to afford it. I look at it this way: If you find something for your wedding you aren’t willing to pay for with your own hard-earned money, then don’t waste your parent’s money on it either. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with parents helping brides and grooms pay for their wedding since it effectively signifies the last of financial support parents give their children, but I also think it should be done in moderation. It’s one thing to allow parents to pitch in for this very important event but it’s quite another to expect them to go into debt over it. Which brings up another valid point… a bride and groom should NOT subject themselves to falling into debt just to pay for their wedding! The key is having a wedding that is within your financial means. If you can’t afford something now, don’t indulge anyway and expect to pay it off later. Why would anyone want to start off their marriage in high debts that they blew on one weekend? I know I don’t. If you invest some time and do your homework on researching for the best wedding deals, you’ll definitely be able to have the beautiful wedding you want on a budget you can afford.

What are your thoughts on who is responsible for the costs of the wedding day? Do you still believe in tradition or are you instead paying for a majority of your own wedding?

Monday, March 15

Dress Decisions!


I can’t wait to share the news! It’s been a long time coming… but I ordered my dress today!!! I wouldn’t dare reveal which one I ended up choosing, but I will admit that it is from the collection by Maggie Sottero. I love, love, love it!! It will be arriving sometime before July and I can’t wait to see it in person (and in my size).
So once the gown was ordered, I wasted no time in researching bridesmaid dresses. I think I’ve already narrowed it down to two choices! The first is by Impression Bridal and is an olive-green color with a dark brown sash (on the left below):
(Photo: ImpressionBridal.com)
And the second would come in a Celedon color, by Bari Jay:
(Photo: BariJay.com)
We’ll make a final decision when I visit St. Louis next month, which is where all five of my bridesmaids reside. I can’t wait to see the dresses on the girls! Which collection or designer did you select your bridesmaid dresses from?

Friday, March 12

iDo: Internet-Inspired Wedding Planning


Up until yesterday, I’d never really thought about just how much I rely on the internet for planning my wedding. I was listening to a story on the radio about a person who doesn’t own a computer because they just didn’t think they needed one. This really made me consider just how much I rely on the internet for so many things, such as my day-to-day job, communication with family and friends, and self-education regarding random topics that spark my curiosity. And then I thought about what I use the internet for above all else… planning my wedding, of course!

(Photo: blog.favorsinthecity.com)

I didn’t grow up with the technology of computers (at least not in the advanced way they are used now for education and communication) but even still, I can’t imagine my life as it is now without having access to the world wide web. How on earth would I even plan my wedding? I live in a city that is 16 hours away from where my wedding is taking place. Over the past 15 months of planning, I’ve utilized e-mail and search engines and product reviews in order tcontract practically everything relating to my wedding. Sure, I read a lot of magazines and books to gain the necessary knowledge to plan my own wedding, but I’ve found it to be extremely helpful that I have the ability to extend that research on a product’s website, or to reach out to fellow brides on message boards and blogs, thereby benefitting from direct advice and ideas. In a way, I truly feel like the wedding I’m having is only made possible because of the internet. Here are some of the ways in which the Internet has been of assistance during my planning process…
  • I discovered our photographer via a fan page on Facebook and then also contacted and booked her through Facebook.
  • I found our florist by browsing through real wedding photos on a vendor-recommendation website. When one bride’s flower photos caught my eye, I looked up the florists’ website and consulted with and booked them entirely via email.
  • I scheduled our venue visitation via email. Once we visited it in person and decided to hold our wedding there, I’ve since consulted with the coordinator entirely via email and even accepted and signed the contract over email.
  • I've ordered several accessories - including the cake topper, garters, wedding guest “book”, and decor - through money-saving websites like Ebay and Amazon.
  • I created a blog on Get Married’s Blogger Brides site, which has been extremely beneficial for both documenting my wedding as well as sharing ideas and getting fresh perspectives on how we can make our own wedding unique. I’ve also picked up countless etiquette tips just by searching through these forums.
  • I created and currently maintain our budget and guest list entirely on a free wedding website. It saves me the hassle of having to keep track of all these loose papers, and this way I can also access this information no matter where I’m at.
  • We self-designed our save-the-dates at home, then ordered them to be printed on magnets through a cost-effective printing website we found online.
  • We created a personalized wedding website that shares valuable information with guests. This way the wedding details are always right at their fingertips… and I don’t have to constantly repeat the same information.
  • I located several wedding cake designers via google search and we were able to narrow down our choices based on the information I found on the bakers’ websites. I then booked cake-tasting appointments entirely via email after communication with each baker entirely via email, even getting price quotes based on example photos I found ingoogle searches and blogs!
  • Our home-made wedding invitations were inspired by browsing thousands of examples through google searches and blogs. We’ll also be ordering all of the supplies and paper online through an affordably priced paper website.
  • I am able to keep up with the latest in unique ideas and giveaway contests through newsfeeds on Facebook andTwitter.
  • I’ve downloaded dozens of podcasts through iTunes to listen to wedding advice and tips while I’m on the go and don’t have the time to read.
  • I’ve attended Bridal Shows that I was notified about through e-mail advertising.
  • I’ve narrowed the search for my wedding gown by perusing designer websites, and have been able to locate stores that sell these dresses and price compare, all thanks to the internet!

This list makes me wonder how entirely different the outcome of my wedding would be if the internet didn’t exist. Would I be spending a lot more money because I’m not able to easily price compare? Would I have as much fun with the planning process if I had limited capability to access the endless ideas I’ve found on blogs and websites? It’s no wonder I’m so addicted to the internet these days… it’s truly been my source of inspiration! I wonder, how did anyone plan a weddingbefore the Internet was so widespread and relied upon?!

(Photo: CartoonStock.com)

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to plan your wedding without the Internet? Just how much do you rely on email and social networking to make your wedding dreams a reality?

Wednesday, March 10

Dealing with Separation Anxiety... From my Ring!


Now that the Disney half-marathon is over and I’m back in the gym weight lifting full time, I’m realizing just how much I really miss my engagement ring when it’s not on my finger. In reality, I’m not one to wear jewelry very often… I’m more of a jeans and tee kinda girl and only wear earrings and necklaces for special occasions or when going out with friends. For some reason I’ve just never liked how jewelry feels when I wear it! I find it to be slightly annoying. I also tend to easily lose small articles if I’m not especially cautious, and I’ve lost more accessories and sunglasses than I care to count. So with my engagement ring, I’ve always had to be extremely particular about where I store it when I’m not wearing it.

I love (love, love, love!) my engagement ring and don’t prefer taking it off. For one, I am proud to wear it, and to be completely honest, enjoy showing it off! But I also know that I have to be really careful as to not lose it since I’m notorious for misplacing things. However, my ring adorns about 70 tiny side-stones around the solitaire and I’m sometimes fearful of losing stones if I’m not delicate. My ring is also made of 18K white gold which is particularly vulnerable since white gold is soft and wears down easily. And maybe I’m being too anal, but I don’t like constantly getting hand lotions and soaps on the diamonds because it makes them less sparkly until I have the time to clean it again. So for all of these reasons, I (rather reluctantly) do remove my ring under two circumstances: While I’m showering, and while I’m lifting weights in the gym.

To ensure my ring would never randomly be misplaced, I initially had to determine an exact location where I would keep the ring when I’m partaking in either activity. There’s a little dish on the top shelf of my vanity in the bathroom where I place it while showering, and I kept the original ring box to leave in my gym bag so I can safely store the ring while I’m lifting weights. My plan has really worked out great so far! The ring has been in my possession for a year and three months and I have known where it is at all times. That really is quite an accomplishment for someone like me!
This was taken just after my run… wearing my ring!

It’s funny how I’m not a big fan of jewelry but have still managed to become pretty obsessive over this ring. When it’s on my finger, I don’t notice it too much except to admire it every few days – okay, okay… maybe every few hours, but that’s besides the point! – but when it’s not on my finger, I think about it every five minutes or so. I guess I subliminally do think about it more than I even thought, because if it’s not on my hand, I find myself constantly using my thumb to feel around where where it is on my finger, and when I notice it’s missing, I have to quickly reassure myself that it’s in it’s designated safe place. I really can’t imagine taking it off more than I already do, though. It would probably drive me nuts and I would likely suffer from separation anxiety! In a way, the ring has truly become a part of who I am.

So, under what circumstances do you remove your engagement ring, and how do you make sure you don’t lose it? Do you suffer from separation anxiety when you have to take off your ring?

Friday, March 5

Our Photographer: Picture Perfect!


It’s been quite a challenge, but we’ve finally found our photographer!
When Joe and I had first planned to hold our wedding in Tampa, we were quickly able to find a photographer that we were absolutely happy with. Photography is one of the most important aspects of the wedding day in my opinion, so I wanted to make sure we were entirely confident in our choice of photographer.  But then we eventually changed the wedding location to St. Louis, and we didn’t want to have to cover the additional cost of traveling for the photographer on top of the package cost… so we decided to just start the search over again. Fortunately, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and had faith that we would find the right photographer for us once again. So I was ecstatic to discover the portfolio of Amanda Forbes Photographer!
Amanda’s photography style is absolutely priceless. She has a great eye for detail and an extraordinary technique of utilizing definitive camera angles. And because she has such immense talent for capturing raw emotion on film, I find relief in knowing that the precious memories of our wedding day will forever be preserved through her photography.  I can’t wait to see the outcome of her creative work as it unfolds on our wedding day! I think this is proof that everything happens for a reason because if we hadn’t moved the wedding location, I probably would have never found AFPhotography. And now, I wouldn’t want it any other way!
(Photo Credit: Amanda Forbes Photographer)
Amanda’s photography is based out of Colorado, but she also loves to travel for weddings and events. Check out her extensive and impressive portfolio at www.AmandaForbes.com.

Thursday, March 4

This Bride Won't Hide!


You hear about that magical moment all the time: The big reveal of the bride when she walks down the aisle, seeing her groom for the first time as he waits for her near the altar. And until recently, I’d also been planning to wait until I walk down the aisle before seeing Joe for the first time on our wedding day. However, we’ve decided to do things a little differently.
I think all along I’d been assuming that the moment we’d see each other for the first time wouldn’t be as special if it didn’t take place during the actual ceremony. I thought, traditionally, isn’t that the way it was supposed to be done? Wasn’t it bad luck to see each other before then? I’d had this preconceived notion that it wouldn’t be as special when I walked down the aisle if he’d already gotten to see the dress I’d carefully selected, or the way my hair had been fixed just for him. But after doing some research on this topic, I gained a fresh perspective that it didn’t matter when the moment happened. What was important was that the “first look” would happen, and that it would be very special to the both of us no matter where it took place.
(Photo: Wedpix.com)
There are a few good reasons we want to meet before the ceremony even begins, but our ultimate motive is for the photographic opportunity. There’s a cocktail hour sandwiched between our ceremony and reception and I’d been planning on just getting the pictures taken during that time, but taking dozens of photos with the bridal party and parents and siblings and grandparents in just one hour doesn’t seem likely to happen. And when will we really get a chance to take some intimate, relaxed photos of just the two of us? I don’t think we’ll really be able to capture those private moments between bride and groom if I’m preoccupied with thoughts of the reception and wondering what I’m missing out on in the cocktail hour. Plus, I’ll still need time to have my dress bustled, freshen up my makeup, and get a little quiet time with my new hubby before the party begins and we’re pulled in a thousand different directions. We also thought it’d be a lot of fun if we got to spend some time with our guests in the cocktail hour… We’re putting so much thought and effort into the area where the cocktail hour is being held that I’d hate to not get to enjoy any of it! So by getting important photographs taken before the main event even begins, we’ll really be able to just relax and have a good time after the ceremony is over. Anything that will take the stress level down a notch on my wedding day is something I’m willing to go for!
What are your thoughts on the groom seeing the bride before the ceremony? Are you planning to see your groom before the ceremony begins?

Tuesday, March 2

Centerpiece Mix Up


One of my favorite trends right now is that brides are utilizing different styles of centerpieces on guest tables at the reception. There’s really no better way to break up the monotony of a large room than to express creativity with all different types of centerpieces that are still coordinated with the overall theme. This idea can look especially fabulous in larger weddings that have over 15 guest tables where the same basic centerpiece — no matter how grand or beautiful — can get a little repetitive and become a mere afterthought. But by using unique decor on each table, guests will be more appreciative and intrigued by the fresh idea adorning each table. What’s best about this idea is that it can suit any wedding budget and style!
Are you having a classic vintage wedding theme? Try picking up some unusual tin canisters from antique and resale shops, like these…
(Photo: StyleMePretty.com)
Is your wedding style a beautiful garden theme? Showcase different types of colorful flowers on each guest table…
(Photo: MarthaStewart.com)
For a romantic lovebird theme (like mine!), you could incorporate uniquely decorated cages in the center of every table…
(Photo: BravoBride.com)
For rich, vibrant Fall-themeweddings, I love the idea of carving different words and pictures into pumpkins as centerpiece decor…
(Photo: ProjectBride.com)
And no matter what the theme is, you can always use simple vases of different shapes and heights on each table to maintain that element of surprise…
(Photo: StyleMePretty.com)
Have you considered using different centerpieces on each of the table at your reception? What are your unique centerpiece ideas?