If you have children, making the decision to marry or remarry affects their lives as much as yours. Your wedding day is the perfect opportunity to help your kids make the transition into this new blended family, no matter what their age.
Make sure your kids feel included from the start by beginning long before the wedding day itself. Younger children might help you stuff and mail the invitations, while older kids could use their confidence on the computer to keep your guest list and RSVPs organized in a spreadsheet or creating your wedding programs.
Let your kids have a say in what they will wear to the rehearsal dinner and wedding – within reason, of course. If your child insists on wearing cowboy boots and a superhero costume every day of the week, this might be a challenge. But, if your child understands the level of formality you and your fiancé have chosen for the event and you express your enthusiasm over the color or style of clothing, go ahead and let your child loose within those limitations and encourage their creativity as far as accessories he or she might wear such as a miniature bouquet or boutonnière, headband or earrings, a pillow or some other way to carry the rings, etc.
There are numerous tasks that your kids can handle during the wedding and feel as though they are playing an important role.
1. Flower girl or ring bearer – Usually between the ages of 4 to 7.
2. Attendants — Junior bridesmaids or junior groomsmen are usually between the ages of 8 to 12, while older children may act as a maid or honor or best man.
3. Ushers to seat guests
4. Pass out something to the guests, whether it be the wedding programs, favors, bubbles or birdseed
5. Guest book or gift table duty
6. Roving photographer or videographer
7. Vocal or instrumental soloist
8. Read scripture or poetry during the ceremony
9. Add vows for you and your new spouse to express to the children during the ceremony.
10. Include the kids in lighting a unity candle or family candle, a prayer or a blessing during the wedding.
11. Present each child with a symbolic piece of jewelry such as a charm or medallion to represent your love and devotion during this time of growth and change.
12. Include your children in the first dance ritual at the reception by encouraging them to join you and your new spouse during the second verse or in a special song following your first dance.
13. Instead of a groom’s cake, let your kids choose the design and style of a cake for the reception.
What if your fiancé has children, but you don’t? Including his family in your wedding is still a great way to encourage a smooth transition into this new stage of your lives. This can be a little tricky depending on the atmosphere and any challenges that might exist such as whether you may have already met his kids and started to form a relationship with them prior to the wedding or if his ex harbors resentment toward your happiness. Discuss the possibilities with your husband-to-be in advance of the wedding, with plenty of time to discover the best way to ask the children to be involved.
If your children are grown and have families of their own, think about using some of these ideas to make sure your grandchildren feel included in your day.
These days, most brides are working full-time while planning their weddings.
Adding all of the necessary wedding-planning tasks to an already busy life can be a challenge when you’re still responsible for your daily responsibilities on the job. Difficulties might arise when you consider the fact that many wedding vendors might limit their business hours to the very hours you’re supposed to be on the job.
The biggest challenge could easily be to keep from making your co-workers angry. If you’re slacking off on your duties while they’re still working hard, you’ll risk making them feel like you’ve turned into a Bridezilla. An even worse situation would be for your co-workers to take over your accounts, files or clients while you make no effort to do your work, but focus solely on your wedding instead.
On the other hand, some phone calls and appointments must be taken care of during regular business hours. What’s a bride-to-be to do?
1. Be Discreet
If you need to make a phone call to set up an appointment with your baker, florist, caterer or anyone providing services for your wedding, make an effort to do so during your break or at lunchtime. If that’s not possible, shut the door to an office, find a conference room that isn’t being used, or slip outside with your cell phone.
Parcel out your to-do list so that there is less wedding-related work for you to take care of during the work day. Take advantage of the fact that you have a maid of honor and bridesmaids who are very likely anxious and excited to help, and want to see your day turn out splendidly almost as much as you do.
3. Lunch Hour
No doubt, there will be some appointments that won’t bend and must be taken care of while you should be sitting at your desk or taking care of business. For those situations, arrange to take an odd lunch hour. It’s often easier to meet with other professionals mid-morning or mid-afternoon rather than at the very time they, too, expect to take an hour off.
4. Email & Telephone
Handle as much of your wedding-planning as possible via email and telephone prior to making a trip out to meet with the vendors. It’s much easier to conceal the fact that you’re checking your personal email account than it is to hide the fact that you’re away from your desk or out of the office for half of the day. However, it’s a good idea to limit yourself as much as possible to avoid getting caught.
5. Cover Your Tracks
Keep another session open on your computer at the same time and be ready to toggle back-and-forth if there’s a chance you might be caught. Some employers are more lenient than others regarding employees using personal email while at work, so do what you think is best for your situation.
Completely sign out of your personal email account and exit any web sites before stepping away from your computer, even if you’re just stepping away for a moment. Don’t just minimize those wedding web sites – get all the way out of them. Make it a point to frequently delete your computer’s web browsing history file, just in case a ticked-off co-worker decides to investigate to see just how many web sites you’re visiting while on company time.
Better yet, wake up early enough to spend some time checking wedding-related email before you leave for work.
5. Personal Day
If at all possible, take a day off for personal business and get as much done for your wedding as possible. This might take several days of planning before you’re able to take that day off. Line up as many appointments as possible, get up early, and be ready to hit the ground running.
6. Keep it Quiet
Avoid discussing your wedding while on the job. Sure, your co-workers are likely happy for you, but your wedding isn’t as important to them as it is to you. Don’t risk making everyone else think that you’re goofing off while on the clock, while they continue to keep the place running. Another negative possibility from talking about your wedding at work non-stop is the risk of making your co-workers think you’re running wedding headquarters on-the-job when you’re not.
After all, your employer isn’t paying you to plan your wedding, so don’t do anything that might put your career in jeopardy or leave you jobless when you return from your honeymoon.
Used to be, guests would sit in the pews at a wedding with empty hands and no idea about the order of the ceremony, who some of the attendants were, their relationship to the couple, and possibly no clue how to get to the reception site.
Of course, the wedding won’t screech to a halt if some of your guests don’t know how you met your spouse, the sentimental reason you choose Gerbera daisies for your bouquet, what song or scripture is up next, or the fact that your best friend since preschool is your maid of honor.
But wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt a little closer to you on your wedding day? As a frequent wedding guest, it’s more fun to observe the wedding and finally be able to put faces with the names we’ve heard for so long – the attendants and friends who are standing up with you, the siblings we’ve met briefly but don’t really know very well, members of the family you’re marrying into.
So why not make a wedding program? It’s a great way to keep your guests informed about the day’s events, which means your guests will feel more comfortable and prepared for what’s next. Another benefit of a wedding program is to assist guests who are of a different faith or culture and may not be familiar with the traditions they’re about to be a part of.
Whether your wedding is casual or ultra-formal, a wedding program is a welcome bonus that can be passed out to each guest as they sign the guest book and make their way to their seats before the ceremony.
What might you include in a wedding program?
• Briefly introduce each person in the wedding party. With or without a photo, it’s a nice idea to state the person’s name, their duties for the ceremony, and how you know this person (sister, cousin, lifelong friend, sorority sister, etc.).
• How did you meet your spouse? Not everyone attending your wedding will know, so share the short version of how your love story began.
• How did he propose? Unless it’s too intimate to share, it might be fun to tell everyone how your husband-to-be proposed.
• The order of the ceremony, from the prelude to the recessional with each piece of the ceremony mentioned. This doesn’t mean you should spell out the entire ceremony, word-for-word, like a script. It can be as simple as stating a word or two for each part of the ceremony, such as Prelude, Prayer, Scripture (along with where the verse may be found in the Bible), Reading (and the name of the poem), Solo (along with the name of the song and who will be performing), Exchange of Rings, etc.
• An explanation of any traditions or rituals that will take place during the ceremony or reception. Many Christian denominations, for example, are used to a short, sweet ceremony, and may be surprised with all of the standing up, sitting down, kneeling, communion, and the length of a traditional Catholic wedding mass. Let your guests know what they should expect next.
• Your new address. Let everyone know where they can reach you after the ceremony. Plus they’ll want to update their Christmas card lists!
• A map to the reception. Everyone will appreciate a map or directions from the ceremony to the reception site.
• Special notes of thanks to anyone who has helped you with the wedding, your families, or anyone else who deserves a shout out.
The program itself can be simple or extravagant. If you are a computer whiz, you should be able to whip up an attractive program in no time, or find a graphic designer to handle the project. The front cover is often a photo of the couple, along with their names and the date. If you have had a wedding monogram or logo created, this would be a great spot to use it. Visit your local scrapbook store or stationery store to find interesting paper, and add a tasteful ribbon to hold the pages together.
If you’re like most brides these days, it’s important to keep everyone involved in your wedding up-to-date at all times, and it’s not easy. Two sets of parents (or possibly more, taking into consideration divorce, remarriage and step-families), siblings, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, out-of-town relatives who will travel to your event – the list goes on and on.
One of the easiest ways to keep everyone in the loop is to prepare a wedding newsletter.
Some brides choose to send their wedding newsletter out to everyone who has received an invitation to the wedding, while others hold off and create a wedding program to share with everyone the day of the ceremony.
A wedding newsletter helps to avoid confusion since everything is in writing. No one will wonder if the information that they heard from so-and-so regarding which earrings the bridesmaids should wear is true because they can refer to the newsletter to be sure.
It’s also a great way for the members of the families and wedding party to get to know each other, if they don’t already. Some of your attendants may be from various stages of your life or different cities that you lived in. While you often think of everyone grouped together as your posse, unless your entire circle of friends is very close there is always a possibility that some of your attendants have never met.
Be sure to include snapshots of each person, along with a short bio or mention how you know this person. Little touches like this can make a big difference once everyone has gathered in person for the event. They’ll feel like they’ve already been introduced to each other, which can relieve stress at what can easily become a stressful time.
Include information such as when and where the bridesmaids should appear for fittings, when and where groomsmen should go to be measured for their tuxedos, when they will be ready to be picked up, bridal showers and parties, lodging and car rental for those who are coming from out of town. Be sure to include when and where the wedding rehearsal will take place, along with details about the rehearsal dinner, its location, and what type of apparel is appropriate. Your bridesmaids will also appreciate knowing if you plan for everyone to get ready at one location together before the ceremony, what time, and whether they will be picked up. Since your maid of honor is your right-hand-woman, include her contact information in the newsletter to encourage everyone to get in touch with her if any questions arise. This will save your sanity in the long run.
Your wedding newsletter can be as simple as typing up a quick page full of information and mailing it to everyone or setting up a YahooGroup so that you can easily email the same information to everyone, all with one click.
Or, if you prefer to be fancy, using Microsoft Publisher or Quark Xpress to give it the look and feel of a “real” newsletter.
Send it to anyone who needs to know the information you have discussed within the newsletter – family members, members of the wedding party, parents of any children who are part of the wedding party, and even your vendors if they need to stay informed.
If you’re going to have a wedding newsletter, it’s a good idea to send it out as soon as everyone has accepted their roles in the wedding, just to make sure they feel included from the start. If plans change or there is more information to share, it’s perfectly acceptable to send out a newsletter one or two more times. Just keep is short and sweet so no one gets the impression you have turned into Bridezilla.
If some of your wedding invitations were mailed out of town or even out of state, chances are you’ll welcome guests who will have traveled by air or via a long car trip.
Considering the fact that these guests have already invested a good deal of time and money to attend your wedding, you’ll want to make an extra effort to make them feel truly welcome and appreciated.
A great way to help everyone, whether they’ve been there before or not, is to include a tastefully done map when you send your invitations. Don’t assume that all of your guests have been to your area before. Include the sites of the ceremony, reception and hotels where they might stay, along with the quickest routes from the airport and the main highways. Even if someone is a repeat visitor, they’ll appreciate the guidance, especially if it’s been a while or your town has experienced growth since they last visited.
Paying for your out-of-town guests’ lodging is not your responsibility, but it is customary for you to negotiate rates and secure a block of rooms for guests at a convenient hotel. Include contact information for the hotel in the invitation packets for out-of-town guests, along with car rental options,
After the invitations have been sent, it’s time to prepare an itinerary for your guests. This is your opportunity to let everyone know about your plans, which is particularly helpful for weekend-long weddings or destination weddings.
Your itinerary can be a clever packet of information sent via snail mail, or a detailed web site or blog for guests to visit and learn what is to be expected.
Be sure to include all of the events preceding and following the ceremony. If guests might have a bit of free time here and there, include interesting things to see and do in your area.
For those who will be essential to the ceremony itself, such as your attendants, relatives, and anyone who will be invited to the rehearsal dinner, it’s a good idea to tuck extra information into their packet before sending it off. Include details on the time and location of the rehearsal dinner, along with directions and whether dress will be casual or formal. If you’ll be sending a car for your bridesmaids, let them know. Or if close relatives will be invited to a special brunch at your parents’ home or future-in-laws’ home, be sure to include that information, as well.
Little surprises left for your guests in their hotel rooms will reinforce the fact that you appreciate their making the trip. A small gift basket with locally produced wine, fruit, flowers, or even homemade cookies or brownies will be a welcome treat.
Another copy of the itinerary will be handy, along with a list of phone numbers to reach families of the bride and groom. Encourage your guests to mingle by including the names and room numbers of additional guests staying at the same hotel.
Take every opportunity possible to let all of your guests know how much their presence means to you. A few sincere comments from you and your parents during the receiving line will mean so much to guests who have traveled to share your day. Your out-of-town guests will appreciate being acknowledged with a toast from the bride and groom during the reception, just to let everyone know how much their journey has meant to you.
THANK YOU NOTES
When it’s time to send out notes to thank everyone for their gifts to you and your new spouse, don’t forget to thank them for attending your wedding, in particular if they took time off from work and traveled to be there.
It may seem like a bit of work for you to put the plans in motion to make your guests feel at home, but with a little help from your attendants it shouldn’t take much time at all to assemble everything. There’s nothing worse than taking time off from work, spending your hard-earned cash, and staying in a hotel, only to be ignored by the very people who invited you to take this journey. Don’t let your guests leave your wedding feeling that way.
Having a wedding reception without alcoholic beverages can be a priority for some couples for many reasons.
Someone close to the couple is a recovering alcoholic. A friend or relative has been hurt or even killed by a drunken driver. The bride and groom simply aren’t drinkers or they frown on drinking for religious reasons.
The wedding or reception site doesn’t allow alcohol on the premises. The families don’t want to deal with possibility of someone being hurt or killed following the reception, and the couple wouldn’t want their wedding date to forever commemorate such a tragedy.
Maybe the wedding budget simply can’t handle the added expense of serving alcohol.
Whatever the reason, it is totally acceptable to hold an alcohol-free wedding reception.
One of the most common questions asked by couples when planning a non-alcoholic reception is how to let their guests know. When sending out your invitations, don’t feel obligated to include the fact that alcohol won’t be served. Your guests will realize, once they arrive at the reception, that alcohol isn’t part of the celebration.
This won’t be a big deal for the majority of your guests. Simply have plenty of other beverages to serve before, with and after the meal.
Sparkling juice or cider is often used when it’s time for toasts. Iced tea and water are standard options to serve with the meal. Coffee, of course, can be served with the meal and following the meal.
Today’s couples are opting for creative beverages as well, including parlaying their love of java into a coffee or espresso bar. How about providing a station to whip up their favorite fruit smoothies or childhood favorites such as hot cocoa or milkshakes?
If you like the trend of having a signature cocktail for your reception, but want to skip alcohol, there’s no need to feel deprived. Serve mocktails instead of cocktails. Search online or in books for non-alcoholic drinks, choose your favorite, and give it a fun name to reflect the theme of your wedding.
What makes a good mocktail? It’s not as easy as following the recipe for a cocktail minus the alcohol. In fact, if you merely delete the alcohol from a cocktail recipe, odds are your guests will leave the event with an odd taste in their mouths due to the balance of flavors being off. Your best bet is to search specifically for mocktail recipes rather than making adjustments to a cocktail recipe.
The simplest of wedding receptions would be the cake-and-punch reception, which often includes mints and nuts. Many cake-and-punch receptions also include light appetizers such as a deli platter, tea sandwiches, and a vegetable tray. If this is the type of reception you’re planning, alcohol won’t be missed at all.
Not too sweet and very quenching. Serves 36.
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans frozen raspberry lemonade concentrate
6 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans or bottles lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
2 cups crushed ice
2 cups fresh raspberries, garnish
Combine raspberry lemonade concentrate, water and lime juice in a large punchbowl. Stir in lemon-lime soda and crushed ice. Garnish each glass with a fresh raspberry.
For a hint of fruity flavor, use strawberry flavored carbonated water. Serves 15.
5-1/2 cups carbonated water, chilled
5-1/2 cups ginger ale
4 cups and 2 tablespoons unsweetened white grape juice
Refrigerate club soda, ginger ale and grape juice overnight. In a large punchbowl or pitcher, combine club soda, ginger ale and grape juice. Serve immediately over ice.
When it’s time for toasts to be made during a wedding reception, it can be a time of great emotion, humor, or even embarrassment.
If your wedding reception falls along the straight-and-narrow lines of being ultra-traditional, wedding toasts are expected to go in a certain order. In a more contemporary wedding, you can make your own rules.
These days, it can get pretty confusing to try and plan who toasts whom and who goes first. Even if you make meticulous plans, will someone throw you off by offering an impromptu toast? Will someone tell a story or two that you really wish they would keep quiet about?
Traditionally, the father of the bride is the first to offer a toast. He welcomes everyone to the reception since often he and the bride’s mother are hosting the event. The father of the bride toasts his daughter.
1. Next, the groom toasts his new wife.
2. Finally, the best man toasts the new Mr. and Mrs.
3. Following the best man’s toast, it’s time for the meal to begin.
If the traditional order of toasts doesn’t please you, or if you’ve got more family and friends who would like to speak, perhaps you would be more comfortable with something along these lines.
1. First, the best man toasts the groom.
2. Next, the maid of honor toasts the bride.
3. The father of the groom toasts the bride
4. The father of the bride toasts the groom.
5. The bride offers a toast.
6. The groom completes the toasting ceremony.
If you’d like for your guests to feel welcome to come forward and speak during your reception, an open microphone is one way to go. It lets guests know that you’re ready o hear what they have to say, whether it’s an impromptu toast or a story from your college days.
Be aware, however, that you will have no control over what guests might say, which could be a source of stress if alcohol flows freely or if your spouse’s college roommates haven’t quite learned tact yet.
Some wedding professionals warn against having an open mic, out of respect for the guests. Once the traditional toasts have been taken care of, guests are often tired of sitting in one spot, listening, and taking a sip. Also, the flow of the event may be compromised by an open mic, with both the meal and dancing interrupted repeatedly.
You chose your bridesmaids because each one is special to you, right? Let each one know how much she means to you by avoiding impersonal, cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all gifts.
Give each person something sentimental that they’ll treasure forever.
Gifts can range from a business card holder with their name engraved to a spa retreat.
Other great choices? How about a picture frame engraved with the date of the wedding (tuck in a photo of the bride and bridesmaid later), a makeup bag or a Mont Blanc pen.
Younger members of the wedding party will be delighted with gift certificates to their favorite toy store. In fact, gift certificates are always a good choice.
Another option is for the bride to foot the bill for the attendants’ jewelry or clothes, or all the little essentials. If you’re going to insist each person look a certain way, provide their special earrings or whatever unifying object you desire.
Traditional attendant gifts aren’t always the best choices. Some girls have become frequent bridesmaids. How many silver plated bobbles does someone really want to have around to polish? Not everyone needs – or wants – an engraved flask, an engraved purse mirror or a silver bookmark.
Take time and think about the personality of each one of your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and then purchase something within the same price range for each one of them. The gifts will be more meaningful if each person’s gift is unique to him or her. Wrap them all in the same (or similar) paper, but make each personal.
To make your bridesmaids’ presents even more meaningful, include a handwritten note inside. Give each young lady a jewelry box to complement her bedroom color scheme. Inside, let each find a handwritten note describing your favorite memory of time spent with her and how much you value her friendship.
A week before the wedding, treat your maids to a leisurely lunch at a tearoom or your favorite restaurant. Tell them how much you appreciate them standing up for you, and their willingness to help with pre-wedding tasks. This is the perfect opportunity to give each one their gift.
Or wait until the rehearsal dinner and present their gifts while telling stories of how you met or something you shared in childhood. Just by sharing something special about each attendant with your friends and family, it will help your families get to know your attendants and help your good friends feel accepted into your new family.
By taking just a few extra steps, you can easily ensure that your guests have a memorable time at your wedding reception.
When you arrive at the reception site, let your entire wedding party take their places at the head table. Traditionally, the bride and groom, their parents and attendants sit at a long, lavish table facing the guests. Begin the reception by taking your seats to enjoy some food and then cut the cake. After that, it’s time for the newlyweds and parents to work the room as separate couples.
Move around and see people, giving each guest some personal time. You’ll have the best experience if you and your new husband remain together as you mingle. That way, you can introduce each other to relatives and friends that your spouse may not yet have met. Plus, your guests want to say hello to both of you, not just one of you.
ACCESS TO EVERYONE
Another option, rather than going from table to table, is for you and your new spouse to stand in a spot that’s easily accessible to everyone at the party. For example, you could position yourself on the dance floor or in front of the bridal party table. Don’t block doorways or stand in the corner; this will only create havoc and result in guests missing their opportunity to speak with you.
During dinner, small talk may be less awkward for your guests based on how you have chosen to handle seating arrangements. If you’re allowing guests to choose their own seats, they have the option of sitting next to someone they’re already acquainted with for comfortable conversations, or they can enjoy meeting someone new.
If part of your wedding planning will include toiling for months, creating a floor plan of the room, then be sure to consider personality types and how guests might get along with others, and then meticulously assign them to specific tables.
Keep in mind eight to 10 people can sit comfortably at each table. Just be careful to anticipate guests’ needs – don’t sit Great-Aunt Harriet right next to the DJ’s biggest speakers.
One way to break the ice at your guests’ tables – and add your own personalities to the affair – is to throw away table numbers and name the tables. Give them names with meaning to you and your fiancé. Perhaps the characters from the movie you saw on your first date or landmarks from the alma mater you share.
As you visit with your guests, it’s important is to let them know you’re glad they are a part of the day. These people have come at your invitation, with many of them rescheduling their work and traveling a distance, and it’s your obligation, as hosts, to make sure that they each get their fair share of time.
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