Sunday, September 14, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Five Mistakes Brides Make When Shopping For Their Wedding Gown

1.  Bringing an Entourage -  It's hard to know if the reality TV shows have influenced the bride and convinced her that she needs to have a dozen opinions about her wedding gown before she can make a choice.  If it isn't the TV shows then there must be something in the water.  It is not a good idea to show up with a crowd.  It is stressful for the bride and adds very little to the efficiency of the day.  Most consultants will caution the bride to bring at most - her best friend, her mother and maybe one other person whose opinion she values.  Unless the bride to be has promised grandma that she can have the final word on the bride's gown in return for paying for it, try to keep the crowd down.  For practical matters, many bridal shops are simply not equipped to deal with 8- 10 extra people with each bridal party.  Do yourself a favor and take only those few persons whose opinion you value.

2.  Shopping too Early - We know that brides are excited to begin the search for THE GOWN, but more than 12 months in advance is seen as a hindrance rather than a blessing.  Styles can (and will) change, your tastes may change, your plans may change.  Before the great gown search begins, you should have a good handle on your wedding budget, the venues for the ceremony and reception and the kind of wedding you have in mind.  Certainly buy the wedding magazines, start thinking about your wedding themes and potential sites, but until things are locked down and you know how much you can spend and the sites you've chosen, it is better to wait.

3.  Trying on too many gowns - We all know brides who have found their gown after trying on only a couple of styles, but out of fear that they will miss some other gown if they don't shop around and try on dozens of gowns, they keep going from store to store.  Some brides brag that they have tried on dozens of dresses.  Others claim that it is fun to try on dozens at an equal number of wedding salons.  But most experienced consultants suggest that trying on more than 7 or 10 tops, is a waste of time because gowns become "a sea of white" and the bride emerges confused not delighted.

4.  Demanding the wrong size- Wedding gowns can run 1 to 2 sizes smaller than RTW.  Don't get hung up on a specific size.  Sizes can vary from designer to designer.  Listen to the consultant who is assisting in the fitting room and remember that alterations are always easier when a gown has to be taken in rather than let out.

5.  Being swayed by deep discount - Everyone likes a bargain and if the dress you love and must have is on sale, then good for you.  But to buy your wedding gown solely because "it is such a fabulous deal" isn't the best idea.  We always caution a bride against buying a dress she doesn't love just because it is on sale.

To insure that you shop for the best with the best, plan to shop for and purchase your gown at a full service bridal salon where the selection and service will make this once in a lifetime event  a truly memorable one.  Shop at a store that has been selected for membership in National Bridal Service.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Top Wedding Gown Trends for 2014

While there are classic gown silhouettes and fabrics that continue to be popular with brides, every season focuses on some new looks that have appeared on designer runways.  Your full service bridal salon is the place to find the best of the classics as well as those looks that are new and gaining popularity.

·         Vintage looks that reflect the styles on the PBS hit Downton Abbey.  This is reflected in long, flowing gowns with hand sewn beading and sparkle.  Also part of this resurgence are ball gowns with massive skirts, lots of petticoat linings, tiers of ruffles and fabric.  If your wedding is to be held in a manor house or other historic venue, this is the look for you.

·         Fit and Flare is a silhouette that shows off body curves.  It is fitted from the bodice, over the waist and hips and somewhere about the knees, the gown flares out to flatter your silhouette and provide movement when you walk.  

·         Lace continues to grow in importance for a significant slice of the bridal market.  When the fabric is intricate as is lace, the style of gown tends to be more classic letting the fabric star.
There tends to be less bling and fewer tiers of skirts on lace gowns, so that the fabric itself is the star.  If your look is classic but romantic, consider lace.

·         Focus on the back is huge this season.  Open, plunging backs either bare or covered with sheer fabric and lots of beading and sparkle are spectacular.  This look is a good compromise for the bride who would like to show some skin but is tired of the strapless look.

·         Sleeves are making a return after years of strapless gowns.  3/4 length are the most popular.
      We can thank Kate Middleton for reclaiming sleeves on wedding gowns.

·         Color shows up on gowns for this season.  While in many areas, white gowns are in the majority, some gorgeous soft colors in the creamy ivory family flatter many brides.  Others are opting for some pale pink as the dominant color or hinted at in the trim.  Gold is being used as an accent color on wedding gowns.  It is showing up in rich embroidery and in beaded belts.

·         With gowns so detailed, wedding jewelry should be far less showy.  The dress is likely to sparkle so jewelry shouldn't.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Programs Highlighted

For a time, wedding programs were seen as nice but not necessary. They were an item that budget conscious brides often omitted or provided reluctantly to those guests who requested one. That is changing. Programs are seen as integral to the ceremony and as keepsakes for the wedding.

Programs are a way to share information about your wedding ceremony with your guests and for many of those guests, are a lasting keepsake from your big day.

 • Program design is taking center stage rather than a plain typed sheet of white paper. Tri folds on excellent quality paper stock with font styles that match those chosen on invitations are being seen a more and more wedding ceremonies. If it is an outdoor wedding, the programs are printed as fans for guests to use.

• No longer just done on plain paper, today's programs feature designs or photos or sketches. The colors on the programs are chosen to match or compliment the wedding colors or themes.

• Brides and grooms are hiring graphic designers to create their wedding monogram which in turn becomes the centerpiece for invitations and other wedding papers including programs, napkins, thank you notes and even cake tops.

 • Programs can be personalized with a quote that is important to the couple, or poetry or song lyrics.

 • Program backs provide a place to explain floral dedications to departed loved ones, or are the place for a heartfelt thank you to guests for sharing the couple's big day.

• Programs should be handed out by greeters as guests enter the facility. They could be placed on individual chairs in the ceremony venue, but having greeters for guests is a nice touch.

• In addition to listing the names of the members of the wedding party and the couple's parents, grandparents and special relatives, some brides have asked that the guest list be printed on the program. It gives guests a chance to see who is in attendance that they might know and insures that the program will be kept and not tossed.

• Many programs include a personal note from the couple that talks about why a particular song was chosen to be played in the ceremony, a transcript of the personal vows that the couple have chosen.

• The program is a schedule of events in the ceremony, any communal responses required of the guests, and an opportunity to explain any ceremony addition that is part of a mixed cultural tradition.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Wedding Dollars

National statistics show a wide disparity in the cost of a wedding.  It all depends on where you live.  According to PARADE magazine in 2013 gown costs ranged from on average - $804 in Alaska to $3,027 in Manhattan.  That should be no surprise, just as it shouldn't surprise the couple that weddings require cash outlay.  What does surprise some couples is how fast and easy a budget can be exceeded if one is not careful.

Try to avoid the mindset which says, "I'll only do this once so I'll charge it now and pay it off later".  Once the wedding budget has been established, spending wisely and saving widely should be the guide.

·         Some couples start with a wedding piggy bank.  Get a large one (without the easy access of a cork in the bottom) and resolutely empty all the change into it every day.  If you have to smash the pig to get at the $$ you are less likely to spend from the pig.  Pulling out the cork or plug to grab a handful of change is too easy and too tempting.  With two people depositing change every day and an engagement of say 6 months, the pig should be full.  It won't pay for everything but the symbolism and daily ritual will keep you mindful of your budgeting vows.

·         Some couples consider a wedding day loan.  With interest rates fairly low, it might make sense for some.  Couples with adequate financial resources take out a wedding loan for convenience rather than necessity.  It makes it clear how much $$ is to be spent.  However, if one is taking out a loan out of need, it may not be a great idea.  It is a bad way to begin married life together, especially if either the bride or the groom or both are also handling paybacks on college loans.  Before a couple considers a wedding day loan, they should think long and hard about its impact on their lives.

·         One of the best ways to manage those wedding dollars is to establish a separate wedding planning account.  Whether it is funded by the couple or with parental contributions, that account is a good way to manage the funds.  It is too easy to get off budget when expenses are paid by a variety of credit or debit cards.  A wedding only account makes it clear where the money is going.

·         More and more couples are considering wedding insurance with covers accidents or damage at the ceremony or reception, and provides protection on a wide range of events like damage to the wedding gown or the failure of vendors to honor their commitments.  Investigate the various options covered and vet the company before signing on the dotted line.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Name Changes

Don't forget to add this task to your to do list.  There are lots of places that need to know that your name has changed (or the groom's name if he is taking yours or you are joining your last names with a hyphen).  Be smart and wait to make the changes once your post wedding address is firmed up.  It's simpler to change both names and addresses at the same time and far less confusing for the organization involved.

Places requiring an update on your personal identification are: Social Security Administration, your state drivers license or ID card, voter registration card, credit cards, military ID, passport. 

You will need to notify  these organizations and businesses:  banks, mortgage holders, landlords, employers human resources department, health care providers, insurance companies, utilities, US Post office, attorneys, licensing boards and any clubs to which you belong.

The following documents will also need to be updated:  your will, any deeds you have for property owned, any vehicle registrations you have and any legal contracts that bear your signature.

We also recommend that you obtain a few certified copies of your marriage license.  Social Security will need a copy and other entities might.  Just have copies available in case they are needed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Your Paper Trousseau

Here is a quick review of all the items that make your wedding paper trousseau.  Whether you choose to include all the items or not is purely your choice, but it is good to consider each item and then include or reject it according to your needs.  What is important to remember is that the way you present yourself on paper will give your guests a clue about your wedding.  You can spend a small fortune on elegantly printed paper stock if you wish, but you don't have to.  Most experts will agree that aside from the invitations and thank you notes, all other items are nice but optional.

The full paper trousseau can include the following:  invitations, place cards, programs, thank you cards, announcements, save-the-date cards, escort cards, RSVP cards, reception cards, menu cards, cocktail napkins, cake napkins, dinner napkins, printed hangtags for favors or personalized favor boxes, personal letterhead which includes your name, address, email, phone number(s) and wedding date for all vendor confirmations and a guest book.

Generally all printed items carry through the theme of the wedding with similar print styles and colors.
You can arrange with the US Postal Service to purchase wedding themed postage stamps for the mailings.  There is no surcharge for official stamps.  Or you can arrange with a commercial printed to have custom printed stamps that reflect your choice of design but expect to pay an additional charge for customization. 

You can order custom sealing stickers for invitation envelopes as well.

Paper trousseau items can be lovely,so if there is where you choose to invest some funds, that is your choice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

WEDDING NOTES™ - Tipping for Wedding Services

Who should I tip and how much is a usual question our consultant's are asked.  Our advice is preceded by a reminder that tipping should always be about a job well done.  Consider this basic premise when allocating dollars for tips and increase or decrease from the following guidelines based on the service provided.  For simplicity sake, it is usually best to entrust tips to one person - the bride's father or the best man on the wedding day and to have the amonts prepared in advance and in labeled envelopes for distribution wherever possible.

Here are some service providers and suggested guidelines for gratuities.
  • ·         Hair stylists - 15% -20% of the fees, plus 5% for the shampoo assistant.
  • ·         Makeup artists - 15% to 20% of fees
  • ·         Valets - $1 -$2 per car to be divided among all valets
  • ·         Coat Checkers - $1- $2 per coat to be divided among all checkers
  • ·         Chauffeurs - 15% - 20% of transportation bill
  • ·         Catering staff - up to 20% of catering bill to be divided among all staff
  • ·         Bartenders - 15% to 20% of bar bill if tipping by guests was permitted as in a cash bar, or up to 30% if guests were not permitted to tip.
For officiants at ceremonies and musicians/soloists check with your ceremony site contact about the usual fee.  If they say "free will offering" here are usual guidelines. 
  • ·         For civil ceremony officiates - $50 - $75 - and for religious officiants the same.  The best man can handle distribution of these for the couple.
  • ·         Ceremony soloists or pianist/organist - $35 to $75
Even florists, photographers, videographers, bakes, seamstresses may sometimes deserve tips under extraordinary circumstances.  Remember to include a line item in your wedding budget for tips to insure that no one will be forgotten.