This article originally published on The Knot.com
We're not saying you need to jump into wedding planning immediately after your engagement—but after celebrations have ceased (for the most part) and the confetti's been cleaned up, it might be time to start spreading the word about your wedding details.
Of course, you want your guests to be able to mark their calendars and save the date, but you also want them to get excited for what's to come! And the easiest way to do that is to create your wedding website.
Seriously, we mean it when we say it's easy—for you and your guests. All you have to do is pick a theme (we have over 100 designs here at The Knot), add your details once you have them (like your venue, date and time) and you'll be set.
Turn on your digital RSVPs so your guests can easily add plus ones and meal choices—without ever having to step foot in a post office. You can also add the details about your accommodations (like your hotel block!) and things to do in the area (to guarantee your guests are never bored during your wedding weekend—not that they would be otherwise).
The best part? When you create your registry on The Knot, it syncs with your wedding website—turning it into a one-stop shop for your guests trying to buy you gifts.
Lastly—and this is a big one—your guests get a 20 percent Rent The Runway discount when you give them a code found on your wedding website dashboard.
Now, what were you waiting for again? Go create your wedding website here.
This article originally posted on Brides.com
If it’s not your first time tying the knot, there are probably a number of questions running through your head. What can you do again? What should you do differently? And what just totally doesn’t fly? We asked our wedding experts to walk us through eight of the biggest questions that couples ask when planning a second wedding.
Whether it’s your first wedding and your partner’s second, vice versa, or you’ve both been down the aisle before, if one of you has previously tied the knot, there are definitely a few details that aren’t as cut and dry as they are the first time around. Thankfully, wedding planner Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, has first-hand experience to help guide you. “I just got married for the first time, but it was my now-husband’s second marriage. These are the big things we took into consideration as we planned our wedding,” Nichols says.
Is it alright to have a big wedding?
It depends! Says Nichols, “If you both previously had larger weddings, and they were less than five years ago, it might not really be appropriate to have a large wedding now. However, if it is one of your's first weddings, then it might be OK.” Ultimately, it is up to the two of you to choose how big or formal your second wedding might be. “One thing to be sensitive to is if there are children from the previous marriage,” Nichols adds. “If they're young or may be uncomfortable in a large wedding setting, this might be something to take into consideration. For my recent wedding, my husband had two tween/teenage sons from a previous marriage and we chose to have a smaller wedding. We both felt it would be ‘easier’ on the kids if it wasn’t a big, over-the-top affair.”
Can we have a religious ceremony?
“This is something you ultimately should decide together as a couple and with your clergy person,” says Nichols. “Every religion is different in terms of what is considered respectful and acceptable when it comes to second marriages.” Know that some faiths may be opposed to having a religious ceremony for your second marriage—and may not allow you to hold the wedding in a house of worship.
Can the bride wear white?“
Sure! It is her wedding day, and if a bride wants to wear white, she should be able to wear whatever she'd like,” Nichols states.
Can we have a wedding shower or bachelor/bachelorette parties?
This is a trickier one. “In my opinion, if it is the bride's first wedding, yes, you can have a shower or a bachelorette party. If it is the bride's second wedding, in theory she would already have many of the things ‘needed’ for starting adult life in your own home, such as pots and pans, etc.—which are some of the most common shower gifts,” Nichols explains. Of course, many couples choose to get new housewares to reflect their new relationship and marriage. “Feel our friends and family out on this one,” says Nichols. “If someone is offering to host a celebration for you and everyone is enthusiastic about the idea, it’s okay to have a shower. I just would recommend keeping the guest list on the smaller side.”
Nichols also wants brides who are marrying for the second time to know that some friends may opt to not buy a second shower gift—and may skip the wedding present, too—if they were there for the first wedding, and that is 100% okay on their part. “It’s also important to be sensitive to any female friends or relatives who have not gotten engaged or married yet,” Nichols continues. “It may sting a bit if you’re asking her to be a bridesmaid (again) or host a shower (again) when she hasn’t had her ‘turn’ yet.”
Should we invite our exes and their families?
In which instances?“Generally my advice would be no, unless situations are such that you are still very friendly and close with your former spouse and/or his or her family members,” says Nichols. “In the event that your second marriage is after the death of your previous spouse, I think inviting your deceased spouse’s family is a very nice gesture. Just know that it might be a hard situation for them, and that they may not attend.” Long story short, it depends on the nature of your relationship with your former spouse, as well as how long ago your previous marriage was. “For most couples, I think the answer here would be no,” Nichols concludes.
See More: How Real Brides Involved Their Children in the Wedding Ceremony
Can we have a registry?
You may have heard otherwise, but the answer is actually yes! “Even if you specify that you do not want gifts, there will still be family members or friends who want to buy you something to mark the occasion, so you might as well help them find something you’ll love and use,” Nichols says. “Focus on things you really need and want. If you’ve already established a home, skip the basics like bakeware or pots and pans. Use this as a time to select new china, new everyday dishes, or something else that is important to you.” Or you can go for an alternative registry, instead. “Sites like Zola allow you to register for experiences or larger-ticket items for ‘group gifting,’ and stores like REI and Home Depot also have registries.” So if you’re in the market for home improvement items or would love new gear for your camping honeymoon, think outside the big box stores!
We don’t need anything for our home—can we ask for money instead?“Whether it is your first wedding or your fourth, you should never ask for money,” says Nichols. “However, there are couples who truly only want to receive money. The best way to get this message across would be by word of mouth, or by using a cash fund registry site.”
Are there any wedding traditions we should skip?
This is totally up to you. “Some traditions might be really important to you, like toasts and a first dance,” Nichols says. “Others might feel trite, like a bouquet or garter toss. Include the traditions that feel meaningful to you, and skip the rest.”
Chances are, you've been dreaming of your wedding gown since for as long as you can remember. If you want to make sure reality lives up to your dream, it's important to start planning and shopping for your wedding dress early on. Here, we've compiled a wedding dress timeline that leaves no detail overlooked. The average engagement length is just over twelve months, so our wedding dress timeline fits that length. If you're engagement period is shorter, this timeline still works — just compress it! (And if you're getting started wedding dress shopping with less than nine months to go, consider focusing on a finding an off-the-rack gown or a scoring a dress at a sample sale, which will spare you the wait time for custom-order dresses.)
Twelve Months to Go
It's tempting to dive headfirst into wedding dress shopping as soon as you get engaged, but you'll save yourself some potential headaches if you plan out a few things first and take the time to do some research. At the twelve-month mark, figure out the following details so you'll be ahead of the game when you start the actual shopping process.
Determine Your Wedding Venue and Date
It's important to know your wedding date before buying a wedding dress, because certain styles that would be gorgeous in a fall or winter wedding just won't work for a spring or summer affair. Nail down your date so you can plan accordingly. Similarly, knowing where you're getting married can also be a huge help. As with the wedding date, the venue will definitely influence your gown choices. What is perfectly chic at a boho beach wedding won't look quite right at a sit-down ballroom reception.
Alternatively, however, you can work backwards: If you've had your heart set on a certain style of wedding dress for as long as you can remember, you might want to disregard the following and let your dream dress influence your date and venue decisions instead. For example, if you've always envisioned long, lacy sleeves and a faux fur muff, you're probably going to want to pick a winter wedding date. Or, if you've always imagined a subtle look, with a simple flowing dress and a flower crown, you might choose the beach or a field as your venue. The sky's the limit, and it's entirely up to you — just make sure to coordinate the vision of your dress with the vision of your overall wedding!
Set a Budget for Your Dress and Accessories
It's never a good idea to start wedding dress shopping without a budget in mind. Imagine falling in love with a wedding gown that's way out of your price range? Figure out your wedding dress budget right off the bat — that way when you head out shopping, you can let your salesperson guide you to the dresses that fit your budget. Be sure to factor in the cost of wedding dress alterations, tax, and shipping (if applicable), as well as accessories including your wedding veil, undergarments and shoes.
Start a Pinterest Board and Figure Out Details You Like
Though you don't need to decide the exact style or silhouette of your dress before you start your search, you do want to figure out a list of things you like and don't like. Having a vision board, whether it's physical or digital, can be useful (and fun!).
12-10 Months to Go
Start Your Dress Search
You know those episodes of Say Yes To The Dress, where the bride-to-be brings her entire girl gang wedding dress shopping? It looks fun, but that can quickly get out of hand with all the opinions coming your way. Consider limiting the number of people you bring with you. Stick to your mother, grandmother, the person you're closest with on your spouse's side, and your most devoted and open-minded best friend. Everyone's viewpoint is not needed and can make the joyous moment even more complicated than it needs to be. You might even want to head out shopping on your own! Chances are you'll be making multiple trips, so you can also change up your shopping companions.
As you shop, evaluate fabrics and silhouettes to figure out what you're really into. What you loved on Pinterest might not suit you in real life. Keep your options open and at least try on different materials and gown shapes so you can experience them all. You might find your dream dress is even more magical once you try it on, but you also might discover a hidden gem in a style you never even considered.
9 Months to Go
Make a Final Decision and Buy Your Dress
The time has arrived to actually decide on the perfect dress and put in your order. And while nine months out might seem really early, it's actually not — unless you're buying off-the-rack at a sample sale, wedding dresses are typically custom-ordered, which means you've got to give the designer ample time to create and ship the dress, as well as leaving enough time for alterations, which 99% of wedding dresses will need.
6 Months to Go
Figure Out How Your Wedding Day Hairstyle and Choose a Wedding Veil
The perfect wedding hairstyle can either make or break your bridal look. It's best to know exactly what you want far in advance, especially as you've already selected your dress. Are you opting for a veil and any embellished hair accessories? Will you be donning an updo, sleek chignon, or loose curls? There are so many possibilities to consider, but you'll have more than enough time to get everything in order if you plan ahead.
Buy Your Wedding Shoes
Wedding shoe shopping will definitely be one of the more fun task of the entire process. Perhaps you'll want a custom-made pair from your favorite designer, or need to take time deciding whether you'll choose a pointed-toe pump or ankle-strap sandal. You'll also want to have enough time to break those bad boys in before you walk down the aisle. A few days of wearing them in the house will ensure you'll be ready to dance from sundown to sun-up. The six-month mark is a good place to get your shoes, because you'll need them before your first fitting.
Choose Your Something Borrowed, Something Old and Something Blue
For your big day, you might want the shoes you're buying at this point to be blue, or you might want to wear your grandmother's vintage clip-on earrings. These are the pieces that will make your wedding ensemble truly special, so you'll want to decide on them early.
Get Your Undergarments
You'll also want to have your undergarments with you once you go to your first fitting, so you'll need to take care of this detail, as well. You will need to pick up a specific kind of bra based on the style of your dress's back and neckline, as well as choose the proper shapewear for the occasion. You might also need a petticoat to make your dress fluff out. This is also a good point at which to order your garter belt.
Three Months To Go
The First Wedding Dress Fitting
If you were wondering when to get wedding dress altered, three months out is your answer! Sticking to your wedding dress fitting timeline is really important from here on out. You want to make sure your seamstress has ample time to perfect the fit of your dress. Timing is everything here and bringing your gown in too late may result in having too little time for alterations.
This is when you figure out if your dress needs to be taken in or out, as well as determining whether the hem length needs to be lengthened or shortened. The seamstress will also add bustle points to the dress so that dresses with trains can seamlessly transition during the reception.
You'll want to bring your jewelry, undergarments, shoes, and any other accessories you can to make sure everything will be flawless on your big day.
Six Weeks to Go
The Second Wedding Dress Fitting
Most brides have two to three fittings to make their dress absolutely perfect, so you'll head your wedding dress alteration timeline will require a trip back to the bridal salon. Most of the difficult work is done during your first fitting, thus the second is for more minor revisions to your dress — like smoothing out the hemline for instance. You'll want to walk around in the salon with your gown on to ensure you are happy with the length, fit, and any alterations that were completed since your first wedding dress fitting.
Two Weeks to Go
The Final Wedding Dress Fitting
This is where it all comes together! Make sure you wear waterproof mascara because you will shed a few tears seeing yourself so close to absolute bridal perfection. You'll want one person you're incredibly close to by your side — like your mother or maid of honor — to bask in the joy, as well as to take a couple of pictures for your scrapbook.
Find a Place to Store Your Wedding Dress for Safekeeping
You will not only want to keep your dress safe, but you'll also want to hide it from your spouse, so it will be a total surprise once you walk down the aisle. Keep in mind that if your dress is embellished, separate your veil so no rips occur. Place it in a bag that will allow for the fabric to breathe and examine it to ensure it's perfect. Alternatively, some wedding salons allow you to store your dress there until the big day, which, in some cases, might be easier!
One Day to Go
Gather Up Everything You'll Need
Your veil, jewelry, dress, and shoes should all be in one place, so you never lose sight and misplace a piece altogether. You'll also want to have a steamer and a bleach pen on-hand, just in case something unfortunate happens. Keep a needle, white thread, and clear fishing wire on hand, as well, in case there are any snags in any of the delicate fabric, or a bustle point comes loose. Pro tip: Pack everything (other than your dress) in a small suitcase so it's easy to haul around.
Give Yourself Ample Time to Get Ready
This is your moment! You'll need at least a half an hour to slip into your dress, so add extra time into the day. Wedding dresses take time to put on, especially those with multiple buttons, hooks, and intricate details. You should be relaxed and not rush for even a second.
Visit Brides.com for these beautiful Wedding Cakes
There are few things we appreciate more than a decadent wedding cake—both in taste and style. Dessert trends come and go, but nothing takes the place of a delicious cake that satisfies more than one of your senses. That said, we’ve rounded up 50 gorgeous cakes that promise to do just that.
Our favorite kind of wedding cake is the kind that makes a statement by adding to your wedding decor. For bohemian brides, we’re loving delicate flower wreaths, organically placed leafy vines, or anything with an earthy feel. If your style is more contemporary, a sleek, smooth finish and geometric details, such as a repeated tile pattern, hexagonal tiers, or triangular adornments, will always do the trick. If you’re more of a classic bride, traditional white isn’t your only option; hand-painted florals, watercolors, and subtle ruffles all evoke a timeless touch. And no matter the cake style, gilded accents and metallic foil always add a hint of glam and a dash of chic, while greenery, whether a topper of eucalyptus, cascading foliage, or wreath of ferns, brings organic beauty.
If your reception is outdoors, take inspiration from your surroundings. A festoon of fresh blooms is a natural way to infuse some garden whimsy, fondant oyster shells and watercolor blues bring in some coastal charm, and semi-naked cakes take cues from the naturalistic elegance of the woods. The seasons can also serve as a solid source of inspiration: Light pastel flowers are a standard for some springtime flair, fresh greenery or citrus serves up some summertime whimsy, rich, moody hues are ideal for an autumn affair, and icy blue and white details mirror the coolness of a winter wedding.
See more: Go Bare: 39 Naked Wedding Cakes
This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com
We’ve come a long way since the Mad Men-esque era of the 50s and 60s, when financial security for women came exclusively in the form of a man.
At least that’s according to the findings of a new survey from Charlie. We surveyed 533 single (defined as never married) women ages 18 to 40 in to find out how they think about finances when it comes to finding “the one.” According to the results, women are waiting until well into their relationships to have the “money talk.” If they don’t like what they hear, bad news: most women view potential beaus or belles with a large amount of debt as more of a liability, than an anchor. The majority of single women these days don’t believe that marriage is necessarily the ticket to financial stability. But to understand where we’re at now, it’s important to take a look at where we came from.
A Brief History of Women’s Financial Rights
Back in the “good old days,” our grandmothers had little choice but to attach themselves to a man — for better or for worse — in order to gain financial security. Not surprisingly, these unions weren’t always the most compatible. Oftentimes, men controlled the paycheck and the checkbook, and that in turn controlled the women they supported.
Thankfully, things have changed over the years due to hard work from civil rights activists. Sweeping changes were made to make things fairer for everyone, including people of different races, religions, nationalities, ages, and — gender. Here are a few milestones:
Women are More Reluctant to Marry Debtors
One of the biggest standout statistics from our survey was that 58% of single women would be hesitant to marry a partner with a lot of debt.
Given the massive increase in student loan debt among college graduates these days, that’s a tough prospect. Take the graduates of the class of 2017, for example. Among students who had to take out loans (about two-thirds), the average debt burden after graduating was $28,650, according to The Institute for College Access and Success. And that’s before you add on credit card, mortgage, or other debt.
An important factor here is debt-to-income ratio. A doctor, for example, may pop out on the other side of med school with six-figure debt, but he or she may also be able to make a six-figure salary right out of the gate. Someone with $100k worth of debt after studying underwater basket weaving, however, may be a different story. Similarly, it’s important to take into account what type of debt someone has. Did they take out a student loan with the aims of getting a high-paying job? Or did they take out a series of payday loans to pay for a bad gambling habit? Or do they have credit card debt from splurging on habits they can’t afford?
Context is important and can help women suss out potential marriage partners who may still be very financially-responsible despite carrying a large amount of debt.
Women Don’t Like Having “The Talk” Early On In a Relationship
Understandably, learning the finer points someone’s debt situation can be a little tricky , even if it is important. We have so many emotions and tensions surrounding finances, and for good reason. Few of us were taught good skills and behavioral habits for managing our money, and even fewer of us were raised having open and healthy conversations about finances.
That’s why it’s no wonder that many women prefer to have the money talk later on in their relationship, once they’ve developed a lot of trust with their partner. In fact, according to our survey,
48% of single women said finances should only be discussed at all in a serious relationship.
Discussing finances early can save a lot of heartache later on. Some things may be easy to spot early on, like a penchant for buying pricey gifts on every date despite your beau (or belle) driving a beater. But other things, like past bankruptcies or foreclosures, are more difficult to catch.
The only way to know is by opening up and having a conversation about what’s important to you. After all, many people list whether they’re interested in kids, overseas travel, or expensive hobbies in their dating profiles. Yet, 74% of single women specifically would not want to see financial measuring sticks like credit scores or student loan debt in dating profiles.
Most Women Don’t See Marriage As The Ticket to Financial Stability
We know women don’t necessarily want to tie themselves down to a heavily-indebted spouse. And we also know women can do (virtually) all of the same things as men, like renting an apartment, having a meaningful career, travel, opening a bank account, or buying a house.
These two factors combined have led to a grand conclusion:
66% of single women don’t see marriage as the only path to financial security. And that’s a good thing.
There are so many things that can happen by putting all of your financial eggs in one basket. Your marriage could (sadly) end in divorce. Your spouse could develop new bad financial habits. Plus, it’s no secret that pensions are becoming a dying breed, making it more important than ever for everyone — men and women — to save for their own retirement.
Whether you’re currently married or not, it’s important for everyone to retain some semblance of financial independence. You can do this by considering a prenuptial agreementor considering whether combined — or separate — finances are right for you. Some experts even advise each spouse — even stay-at-home-moms — to keep a separate “freedom fund” to kick-start their newly-single life in case it’s ever called upon. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a relationship that’s not working because you can’t afford to leave.
Women’s Attitudes Towards Relationships and Money are Changing, and Often for the Better
It’s no secret that the relationship between money and marriage is changing, and for women this gives us insight on why they may be more hesitant to lock down a marriage partner. After all, if you can retain your own financial independence in a marriage, why else marry (or stay married) but for love? A lifetime of happiness — financial and otherwise — is something that we can definitely get on board with.
Published and seen in Brides.com
What's not to love about weddings from a guest perspective!? Dancing, great food, open bars, being surrounded by loved ones...the list could go on. But wedding party favors really seal the deal when it comes to leaving a memorable impression on your guests. Your nearest and dearest will fondly remember how much they loved the tunes at the reception or how beautiful you looked in your wedding dress, but take-home wedding favors for guests to pick up on their way out serve as their very last physical reminder of your nuptials (besides your future wedding Instagrams, of course). Plus, these gifts go way beyond a thank-you card in showing your friends and family how grateful you are that they attended your wedding. Moral of the story: Make your wedding favors count (and reusable!).
If you're at a loss for where to start, we've got your wedding party favor needs covered. Having a destination wedding? Treat guests to personalized luggage tags as a way of thanking them for their travels. Want to impart your love of food to guests before the wedding is over? Stock up on "Midnight Snack" paper bags to fill with your favorite sweet treats for friends and family to munch on post-wedding. If you're having an outdoor spring or summer wedding, take inspiration from your blooming surroundings and gift your guests seed packets. Foldable fans are another great option for 2019 summer weddings. They'll keep guests cool at the ceremony and reception, and also serve as a lovely keepsake from the day. Moreover, floral smudge sticks are also the prefect, trendy wedding party favors for 2019 weddings. Your guests can use them to banish negative energy from their homes after the big day. Only good vibes here!
The wedding favor options are truly limitless, so be creative and add your own personal spin. Choose gifts that reflect you and your spouse, but that your guests can also enjoy once the wedding festivities have died down. Shop our top wedding favor picks for your own nuptials, which will suit any wedding style without breaking the bank. Pro tip: After you've pegged the perfect guest gifts, pair them with an equally prominent display to ensure everyone remembers to pick one up as they leave. Happy wedding favor gifting
No Ugly Crying HandkerchiefYou'll want to give these wedding party favors to your guests during the ceremony so they can put them to good use during your tear-jerking vows.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $10
Let Love Grow Custom Seed Wedding FavorsYour guests can plant these seed wedding favors in their backyards or in planters, and will always remember your wedding when they catch a whiff of the resulting blooms.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $15 for 15
Jar of MatchesCelebrate the fact that you've found your perfect match by gifting your guests jars of matches. We love the brightly colored tips on these matches, as well as the cute included gift tag.
Courtesy of LaPasoBienPalm Personalized Hand FansHaving a summer wedding? Your guests will love these personalized hand fans! They'll help keep them cool and they're the perfect Instagram accessory, too!
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $8.50
Love and Riches Lottery Ticket Wedding FavorSlip a scratch-off lottery ticket in these favor bags and seal with the personalized sticker. This inexpensive wedding party favor might have a huge payoff for your guests!
SHOP NOW: Amazon, $8 for 20
WATCH NOWMeghan Markle Gets a Wedding Makeover
Rose Floral Sage Smudge StickRid your guests' homes of negative vibes and energies with these floral sage smudge stick wedding party favors.
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Ella Celebration Key Bottle OpenersThese vintage skeleton keys are actually bottle openers. Thanks to these wedding party favors, guests will always remember your big day when they open a cold one.
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Flower Pressed Shortbread CookiesLori Stern's signature shortbread cookies feature edible (and not to mention, Instagrammable) handpicked flowers. Guests can grab 'em on the way out to munch on during their trip home.
SHOP NOW: Lori Stern Food & Cakes, $48 for a dozen
Courtesy of SALTEDDesignStudioWedding Hangover Kit BagsA wedding favor that your guests will definitely be grateful for come morning! Stash some Advil and mints inside these wedding hangover kit bags, and you're good to go!
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Love Is Brewing Wedding StickersBuy your favorite coffee beans in bulk and individually wrap them with these adorable sticks, and you'll have your guests' morning cup of coffee covered!
SHOP NOW: Amazon, $14 for 36
Pressed Flowers Botanical PrintsWe love pressed flower details at weddings! Pretty prints set out in frames on your escort card table would make the perfect wedding party favors.
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Agate Slice Calligraphy Place CardsKill two birds with one stone with wedding favors that also double as place settings. What guest wouldn't love taking home a keepsake that's personalized with their own name in calligraphy?
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Hot Chocolate in a Tube Wedding FavorPerfect for a winter wedding, these cute little tubes contain everything you need for the perfect cup of hot chocolate.
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Clear Macaron BoxesWhat's better than plain old macarons? Macarons paired with a clear box, custom sticker, and wrapped with a gold bow, duh.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $7 for 10
Pack of Assorted 2.5" CactusA take-home plant is just as on par with to-go food when it comes to wedding party favors, and friends and family will love having a bit more greenery in their lives.
SHOP NOW: Amazon, $69.99 for 20
Midnight Snack Craft Paper BagTreat your loved ones to post-wedding dessert served in pretty paper bags. Nothing says "thanks for coming" better than a take-home bag of mini donuts or cookies.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $15 for 20
Jam Jar Wedding FavorsTurn up the jams on your wedding party favors. Guests can reuse this spread and decorative jar long after the wedding.
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Wedding Favor Personalized Popcorn BagsFor another way to curb late-night snack cravings, create a station for serving on-the-go bags of popcorn.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $20 for 20
Let love glow! Your guests can use these tea light lanterns to add some flickering ambience to their homes for years to come.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $165 for 50
Mint To Be Wedding Favor BagsStock up on your favorite breath mints and stash 'em in these cute bags for an ultra fresh favor that will definitely come in handy after the wedding.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $0.80
Mini Champagne Label Wedding FavorEncourage guests to pop some bubbly in honor of your new marital status. Buy mini bottles of your favorite champagne in bulk, and attach this personalized sticker for the finishing touch.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $15 for 8
Luggage Tags Wedding FavorsIf you and your partner are travelers at heart, reflect your love of excursions through practical favors that might just inspire some wanderlust in your guests.
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Concrete Planter with InitialsTake standard succulent wedding favors up a notch with a planter dedicated to you and your future spouse. Guests can work on improving their green thumbs while keeping your wedding day in mind.
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This is the moment you've been waiting for. Holy moley, you have an engagement ring and you're getting married! It's so surreal, yet definitely happening, and like it or not, the hours, days, and weeks following that proposal are guaranteed to be a whirlwind.
There are so many things to think about, so many people to contact and so much to get done. Don't be overwhelmed. You have plenty of time to plan the rest of your lives but if you're like most newly engaged people, you'll be itching to share the news with all your friends and dive into the actual wedding planning part headfirst.
Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, blogs, dress shopping, venue hunting...the list goes on and on. Years of watching wedding movies couldn't have prepared you for what's to come (trust us, it's totally different). While the average engagement lasts a year to a year-and-a-half, there are certain things you'll want to get done stat — no matter how long you plan on being a fiancé.
So where do you get started? There's no strict order to follow as long as you tackle the immediate to-dos. Committing the rest of your life to the love of your life is scary and amazing and the best kind of stress, however, it's a major, major milestone, and planning a wedding together is the icing on the cake — we promise!
Call Your Parents And your siblings and BFFs too (unless you are keeping your engagement under wraps for a while). The last place they should have to hear about your new status is on social media, so give them a ring personally and tell them the happy news. Chances are, mom and dad already know what's up and have been waiting by the phone patiently for your call.
Get a Manicure Your hands will be in the spotlight for the next couple of weeks, which means your manicure best be on fleek. Or, if you're going for the natural look, make sure your nails are clean and shaped. Otherwise, friends will be focusing more on your chipped nail polish than your gorgeous engagement ring. Not cool.
Post a Ring Selfie A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If you're ready to share with the world that you're engaged, open up that Instagram! Take a ring selfie or a sweet pic of you and your fiancé to share the love. Even better—if the actual proposal was caught on film, nothing is better than that look of surprise. And don't forget to make it Facebook official!
Cheers!Round up some of your best friends and family and go out for a celebratory drink, or have a special date night solo if that's more your style. You're engaged, and that's totally worth toasting.
Get Your Ring InsuredWe know, we know — it's not exactly the most romantic or exciting thing in the world, but it could wind up saving your butt in the long run. When added as an extension to your homeowner or renter's insurance policy, it's surprisingly inexpensive.
Take A BreatherDon't jump into wedding planning right away! Take a week or two to let the news really sink in and to just savor the moment. Trust us, you'll have enough stress over the next twelve (or so) months to last you a lifetime.
Get Your Ring SizedIf the ring fits, great, and if not, you'll want to take it to your jeweler stat to get it sized — especially if it's practically falling off your finger. After all, you'd hate to throw thousands of dollars down the drain mere moments after saying yes.
Think About A DateThe most desirable wedding dates and venues get booked far in advance so if you're hoping to get hitched in the next year or two, it's a wise idea to start thinking about dates now. Find out what works for both your families and if there are any potential conflicts.
Research Wedding VenuesRemember: You can't book a date until you've nailed down your dream venue! Do some research online first, or maybe you already have a place in mind and can call to get more information on pricing and availability.
Determine Your Wedding SizeWhether you're going big or keeping it small, being on the same page about this one is so important. Get your family's input if it matters to either of you or if they'll be footing the bill. Once you've agreed on a rough guest count and budget (we'll get to that next), you can commit to a venue.
Discuss a BudgetMoney talks, but unfortunately, no one likes to talk about money. It can be, well, awkward. However, before you can really move forward with any of your wedding plans, this is a discussion that has to be had, be it between you and your spouse, or you, your spouse, and the parents.
Build A Wedding WebsiteAt the very least, look at your options and decide whether you'd prefer to create your own from scratch or use one of the many wedding website templates out there. Check out the pros and cons, and then pick together.
Gather InspirationCreate a Pinterest board, Google Doc, save photos on Instagram, or create a folder on your computer to compile imagery of your favorite wedding elements. Keep it to yourself just for organizational purposes, or share with your wedding planner, mom, friends, fiancé, and whoever else to view and contribute.
Choose Who Will Be in the Bridal PartyHow many bridesmaids or groomsmen do each of you want? Are you cool with having odd numbers or is an even number a must? Does one of you (or both) want a bridesman or groomslady? Will you have a maid of honor or best man? No matter what, you need to discuss these things before one of you starts popping the question to friends.
Interview Planners and/or VendorsIf you're considering bringing a professional planner on board to help with logistics and décor, ask around for references and do a little online research, then set up some interviews. For the vendor referrals alone, a wedding planner is totally worth their weight in gold! Or, for smaller affairs, go directly to the source and check out a few vendors on your own.
Check Out Trunk Show SchedulesHave your eye on a specific wedding dress designer? You don't have to make a mad dash to try on dresses just yet, however, you may want to peep their trunk show schedule to see when they'll be in town (or where you'd have to travel to) and how much of a discount you can score on the new collection.
Plan An Engagement Party(If you want one at all.) Do you want to plan it or hand the reins over to parents or friends? Do you want to go low key and have it at your home or in a friend's backyard? Would you rather everyone meet at your favorite bar for drinks or rent a space for a catered dinner? Either way, just make sure to do whatever fits the vibe of your relationship!
Relax!Do something fun, just the two of you. Mini golf, bowling, ice skating, a trip to the beach — whatever floats your boat and brings out the kid in you both. Wedding planning can be insanely stressful from the get-go, so try to find the humor in things and take some time to laugh, reconnect, and remember why you're getting hitched in the first place.
30 Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Tricks
Cover all your wedding planning bases with these expert tips no to-be-wed should be without.
by The Knot
When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and there are things you need to know—advice so essential any bride who's lucky enough to hear it thinks, "I'm so glad someone told me that!" If you're wondering whether there's something you may have missed (or even if you've got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets below.
1. Guests Come First
Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you'll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there's ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it's really not if you count the space you'll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.
2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates
Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. Here's a handy list of potentially problematic wedding dates coming up in the calendar.
3. Listen to Mother Nature
Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to skip out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and improperly heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deer flies and mosquitos) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest control tanks to alleviate the problem or including bug repellent in guests' gift bags. And if you want a sunset ceremony, make sure you know when to say your vows by checking SunriseSunset.com.
Oh—and always, always have a Plan B for unexpected weather snafus.
4. Check Your Credit
Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it gives you airline miles or great shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate thousands of rewards points (which could be used for your honeymoon).
5. Pay It Forward
Let one vendor lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can tell you which florist's blooms really pop, and your reception manager should know which band consistently packs the dance floor.
6. Lighten Your List
The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it's costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.
7. Ask and You Might Receive
Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on (which might turn you off of them). Later on, though, they may be less inclined to meet you halfway.
8. Make a Meal Plan
Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you're not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You will have to let your wedding caterer
know a couple of days before the wedding exactly how many vendors you need to feed (don't forget photography assistants and band roadies) and what you want them to serve.
9. Get Organizationally FocusedIn a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone. For on-the-go planning that keeps everything in one place, download the The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner app to keep all of your planning info digitally on-hand at all times.
10. Tend to Your BarTypically, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you're serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding an extra server designated to this task.
11. Leave Some Room in Your WalletYour wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 percent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 percent for invites; 2 to 3 percent for gifts; and 8 percent for miscellaneous items like a wedding coordinator. It's essential to allocate an extra 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day and ribbons for the wedding programs.
12. Don't Be Afraid to AskYour wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want—maybe it's serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want. Their job will be to tell you what you can and can't make work given your wedding budget.
13. Wait for a DateSometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Since most people book their wedding venues at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two months prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.
14. Manage the MailOf course you want the perfect stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, especially in large quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at USPS.com. And be sure to weigh your invitation and all the additional paper products before you send them out so you can attach the right amount of postage. Ask your stationer about the need for additional postage for oddly shaped envelopes.
15. Prepare for RejectionKnow that as a rule, about 10 to 20 percent of the people you invite won't attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday plans).
16. Make a Uniform Kids PolicyYou have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an "adults only" wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to provide day care either at the reception space, in a hotel room or at a family member's home. To prevent hurt feelings, it's wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).
17. Prioritize Your PeoplePare down your guest list with the "tiers of priority" trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you can't imagine celebrating without. Under that, list your parents' friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom until you reach your ideal number.
18. Take It One Step at a TimePut together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical order, so you don't take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don't hire any vendors before you've confirmed your date; don't design your cake before you've envisioned your flowers; and don't book a band before you've settled on a space.
19. No Ring, No BringIf your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine whom your single pal would sit with. If it's a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you're all set. If it's a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it's a table of singles where she won't know anyone, consider bending the rules. If asked why you're not allowing single friends to bring guests, size or budget constraints or your parents' never-ending guest list are always good reasons.
20. Release RoomsAs soon as you've picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no—you don't want to be responsible for rooms you can't fill.
21. Provide Accurate Driving DirectionsMake sure guests know where they're going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the directions are wrong or there's a quicker, less traffic-prone route to take. Ask your ceremony and reception sites for printouts or digital copies of recommended driving directions and even test out the routes yourself. Then include the best directions on your wedding website or email them to your guests to print out if they'd like.
22. Keep a Paper TrailGet any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, "Hello, just confirming that you'll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight." Don't just assume everything's all set—sometimes, by the time the actual day rolls around, your contact for a certain may no longer be working there to vouch for you.
23. Schedule the SetupYou must make sure there's ample time for setup. If you're renting a venue and bringing in outside help, ask what time people can come in to start setting. See if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.
24. Learn About Marriage LicensesYou can check your state's license requirements online, but confirm with a call to the county clerk's office to see when they're open. Even if it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they may issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mom or your maid of honor (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).
25. Go Over Ground RulesBe prepared—ask the manager of the house of worship or site where you'll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). For instance, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you're exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is often not allowed)?
26. Classify Your CashWedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers and the photographer, and assign a number to each—one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can't fall into the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.
27. Help Guests Pay AttentionMake sure your guests can both see and hear from their seats. If people are seated farther than 15 rows back from your ceremony altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. This could range anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the equipment used. You'll need to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony space, so put your wedding planner or best man in charge of this task.
28. Write Down Your DigitsKeep an emergency contact sheet or phone with your vendor contacts on you on your wedding day—it may come in handy in case your limo driver gets lost or you decide you'd like your photographer to take some behind-the-scenes shots.
29. Call the Fashion PoliceDon't go dress shopping on your own—all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it will be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do bring. If your mom or sibling can't make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.
30. Be Realistic With Your TimeWhen it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you're particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three things. Not crucial things you just don't feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting "Just Married" signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again.
Wedding Planning 101
First comes the proposal then comes the wedding planning. There are dozens of decisions that need to be made before it’s time to walk down the aisle, which can be overwhelming for brides and grooms.
To help make it less stressful, these tips from Macy’s can help couples through the entire wedding-planning process, from on-trend apparel and accessories for the entire wedding party to all the essentials to create a perfect registry.
Dressing the Ladies
When it comes to bridesmaid dresses, the mix-and-match approach is trending in popularity. Start by deciding on a color palette, such as lilac, champagne and petal pink. Then have each bridesmaid choose her favorite style within that range of hues. Bring it all together by choosing a uniform look for makeup, shoes and accessories.
There is no better time to thank the ladies than the morning of the big day. A few thoughtful gifts can go a long way, such as matching robes, tumblers to stay hydrated throughout the day and cosmetic cases to stow makeup essentials.
Dressing the Gents
Similar to bridesmaid dresses, groomsmen attire can be dependent on the venue and overall event aesthetic. While a suit can fit the bill for a country club wedding, a city affair may call for the sleek finishes of a tux. Tuxedo accessories, such as cuff links or bow ties, make great groomsmen gifts and are classic pieces they can use time and time again.
Creating the Perfect Registry
When building a registry, it’s never too early to start. People want to give gifts as soon as they know a couple is engaged. Start by taking inventory of what you already have, what you need and what you want to upgrade. It’s also recommended to update the registry regularly so there are enough gifts to choose from, especially if there is an engagement party and bridal shower coming up. To get started, some popular registry items include stand mixers, craft beer glasses, Dutch ovens, bath towels and vacuums. For extra guidance, couples can speak to advisors who can help with the full registry building process at Macy’s stores.
Whether you’re in the middle of planning your wedding, newly engaged or just beginning to discuss marriage with your partner, it’s never too soon to be on the same page about your finances. Marital discord is often attributed to disagreements about money, whether it’s a partner’s spending habits, accumulated debt, or financial philosophies. It’s important to discuss financial goals with your partner to help prevent conflict throughout the marriage.
According to a Suntrust survey, only 51 percent of Americans actually discussed how they would handle finances before getting married. In fact, nearly 60 percent of couples reported they didn’t disclose their own salaries before marriage, and only 36 percent revealed their debt.
When you begin considering getting married or before you walk down the aisle, set aside intentional time with your future spouse to create a financial plan to position your wedded union for success.
Be open and honest about personal debtIn your vows, promising a lifelong devotion to each other, such as for richer or poorer, means all of you – even debts like credit card bills or hefty student loans. It’s important to be sure your partner knows all about your finances and financial values before the big day.
Because most romantic partnerships are built on trust, it’s important to be open and honest with your future wife or husband about your personal finances, including any debts you may have.
Consolidate your debts
Most likely, you both have some consumer debt from credit cards, medical bills, or student loans; debt consolidation can help you get your finances in order. Sit down together and make a list of all your personal debts, then decide if you should consolidate your debts individually or jointly with a personal loan. This process involves combining several debts into one, which can help you reduce your monthly payments and pay less in interest, ultimately helping you pay off your debts faster.
Personal loans are ideal for persons who have moderate debt and good credit scores who want to simplify or accelerate repaying their debts. If you or your partner qualify for a personal loan with manageable rates and have an active plan to control your spending and reduce your debt, you can quickly knock out high-interest debt by consolidating your debt with a personal loan.
Borrowed from a bank, credit union, or online lender, a personal loan is borrowed money that doesn’t require collateral and can be repaid in fixed monthly payments. Personal loan rates are largely determined by your credit score, though your annual reported income and the amount you want to borrow are other factors that determine the final loan amount.
Between gathering documents, checking credit scores, and signing paperwork, consolidating your debts can be a lengthy process. As you and your spouse make preparations, be sure to get an accurate report of yours and your partner’s credit scores and evaluate your debt to income ratio.
Evaluate your credit standing
If one of you have a low credit score (300 to 629), take steps to build the credit; don’t consolidate debts into a joint account, as it can lower the higher credit score.
One way to build credit is with a credit-builder loan, which is a forced savings program that reports your timely payments to credit bureaus. Other ways to increase your credit score include reducing and managing debt, receiving credit for paying rent on time, and research payment options and protections for repaying student loans.
Calculate your debt to income ratio
Calculating your debt to income ratio as a couple is key to making a financial plan moving forward. It is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly gross income. Lenders use this percentage to decide how well you manage your monthly debts and if you are able to afford a loan repayment.
This ratio is often used by lenders when applying for a mortgage, car loan, or home equity loan, so it’s important to keep it below 36 percent. For example, if your total annual income for you and your spouse is $55,000 and you have $22,000 in credit card and student loan debt, a lender may deny your application.
Choosing between joint or separate accounts
You might be sharing a closet and the television remote now, but you don’t necessarily have to share a bank account. Together, you and your partner should decide if you want to combine your finances or keep them separate.
Should you and your partner decide you want to pay bills from a joint account but have individual spending and savings accounts, you’ll want to be sure to move the money to the joint account as soon as your direct deposit hits so you aren’t scrambling at the end of the month when the electricity bill is due and the joint checking account is low.
To reduce monthly recurring expenses and eliminate overlapping bills, like gym memberships and cell phone bills, consider selecting a family plan that provides savings when more than one person is on the account or contract.
If you and your partner do decide to combine your finances, be sure to sit down with a trusted financial advisor who can help you and your partner determine which assets to hold jointly or separately.
To prenup, or not to prenup
Considering a prenup can be a tricky conversation to have with a spouse. But a prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a legal document that sets expectations for the division of assets should a couple divorce – and it can be very beneficial for some couples. For persons with substantial premarital assets, an expected inheritance or family wealth, or massive debt, a prenup can protect an individual from financial ruin in the event of permanent separation. To be valid, each partner will need to have their own attorney to draft a prenup.
Though the agreement has been historically rare, millennials are increasingly drawing up these contracts to protect their wealth. Now that couples are getting married later (according to a United States census, women were getting married at age 27 in 2010 compared to age 21 in 1950), individuals are accumulating more assets and debt than ever before.
A prenup can include protection against a spouse’s debt, protections for family property and estate planning, and detailed spousal responsibilities. A prenup cannot include custody arrangements, waivers of rights to alimony, or deeply personal (rather than financial) information. Prenups can be created based on how long a couple has been married and can be nullified if the original document states the prenup will expire after a certain amount of years have passed.
Financing the big day
Discussing how you and your partner will pay for the wedding is another conversation and expense to consider ahead of time. It may be tempting to splurge on floral bouquets or to treat your guests to an open bar with signature drinks, but wedding costs can add up faster than you can say “I do.” The average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2018 was $33,931, according to a survey on TheKnot.com. The table below highlights the average costs of a few major wedding expenses:
Average wedding costs
Flowers and decor$2,411
Many couples who don’t have enough savings allocated for wedding expenses opt for a personal loan to cover the cost of tying the knot. The key to sticking to your original budget – whether big or small – is saving every penny you can and setting priorities. Some couples delay their wedding by having a longer engagement period, which gives them more time to stash away cash for the big day.
Non-traditional options to save money
If you and your spouse would rather spend your earnings and savings on a honeymoon to the Maldives or a down payment on a new home, there are several ways to cut wedding costs.
Sending electronic invitations instead of paper invitations, using in-season blooms, and selecting a store-bought cake are some of the ways you and your partner can create savings. You can also implement non-traditional approaches, like having your wedding on a Thursday afternoon or hosting it in a brewery or beach house, to keep costs low.
Happily ever after
Now that you and your partner have made big decisions about consolidating debt, combining finances, creating a prenup agreement, and allocating dollars to wedding expenses, you may get the impression that your financial preparation is complete. But the wedded bliss – and joint financial decisions – is just getting started.
Together, you’ll want to decide how to conquer large or unexpected expenses and choose what to save for, such as a home, car, or the next vacation. To ensure you and your partner are financially protected, create a family budget and consider setting up an emergency savings account and a plan for unforeseen expenses like unemployment, natural disasters, or medical bills.
With a financial plan in place, your money habit and philosophies and the melodic tune of the wedding bells can chime in perfect harmony.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
Interested in being a guest blogger on our site? Contact us below!
What Our Clients Are Saying
Crystal was a great photographer for our wedding! She's definitely LGBT friendly and has some cool rainbow umbrellas to use as props in your pictures - if that's your style. Our friends and family were all very impressed with the number of photos she took and shared with us - and they're all great shots! We would absolutely recommend her to others. - Kelsey and Shannon - Baltimore, Maryland