originally posted by Brides.com
Whether you're hiring a wedding planner or not—it's no secret that wedding planners know a lot about planning a wedding, from setting a budget and managing the guest list to designing the flowers and décor.
Wedding Coordinator vs. Planner vs. Designer: What's the Difference?But, even if you don't have the budget for a full-service wedding planner, don't stress. To help you kick off the planning process—and, more importantly, enjoy it!—we called on our wedding industry friends (27 of them, to be exact) and asked them to share their many, many years of experience and wisdom with you.
From money-saving tricks to stress-reducing tips, read on as some of the country's top wedding pros reveal the secrets their clients pay to hear!
Be Honest With Your Opinions“Be as clear as possible when communicating your needs and desires to everyone working on your wedding. Remember it’s just as important to share what you don’t like, as well as what you do, so a distinct picture emerges.”—Sofia Crokos, owner and creative director, Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle
Start With Your Budget“Before you make a single decision about your wedding, you need to determine your ‘must-have’ guest count and then your target budget. We see frustrated couples who start the process by booking a venue that simply does not fit into their budget. You have to consider the total cost of your celebration before anything else.”—Lynn Easton, founder, Easton Events
Focus on the Ceremony“Couples focus much of their energy and time on the reception. But without the ceremony, there is no reception. I tell my clients to put more energy into the vows, the actual ceremony, and how to make it unique and memorable. This is what will set the mood for the whole experience of the day.”—Mindy Weiss, owner, Mindy Weiss Party Consultants,
Trust Your Gut“Follow your gut and do your research when it comes to choosing vendors. Don’t settle. Make sure the people you surround yourself with are looking out for you and your best interests versus just trying to sell you something you don’t really need.”—Nicky Reinhard, owner, Nicky Reinhard Events
Appreciate Wedding Planning“A wedding is a micro vision of the larger macro vision of life. The time couples spend wedding planning allows them to decide how they want to navigate familial traditions, cultures, expectations, and needs as they transition into their new lives as their own family. It’s important to see this time can be an adventure, rather than a stressful experience!”—Elizabeth McKellar, owner, The Nouveau Romantics
5 Bonding Moments Every Couple Has During Wedding Planning
Practice Self-Care“Planning a wedding can be an entire year of your life or more, and it can make or break your wedding experience. Practice self-care during your engagement period. Have date nights where you make it off-limits to talk about the wedding. If things get stressful, remember that the wedding comes and goes in six hours, or in a weekend, and then it's over. It's one of the most amazing things to have everyone you love in one place. Relax and enjoy it.”—Alison Laesser-Keck, owner, Alison Bryan Destinations
Keep the Day Personal"A wedding should be personal and reflective of the couple—their stories, shared interests, family backgrounds, personal styles and travels—versus something built on recycled ideas from other weddings. I encourage couples to draw inspiration from the stories of how they met, what they did on their first date, and how they became engaged. It’s easy to find a few details from those stories that naturally translate into fun and unique elements on the wedding day. For example, for the couple who got engaged on a mountain one snowy night in Colorado, we decided to feature a snow machine at their reception. Guests were showered with snowflakes as they left the venue at the end of the night, and everyone loved how the moment was a nod to bride and groom’s engagement story.”—Allison Jackson, owner, Pineapple Productions
Prioritize Your Guests“It’s important to keep the total guest experience in mind, especially for those traveling to the wedding. When choosing your date, be sure to do your homework on what is happening in and around your destination town or city. Parades, graduations, and city-wide conferences will impact hotel and transportation rates.”—Emily Butler, owner, Karson Butler Events
Save Money on Invites"Choosing a rectangular wedding invitation over a square format will save you money on postage, as the USPS considers a square envelope an ‘odd-size’ shape they can’t pass a square envelope through their machines. They call this ‘nonmachineable’ and as such, these envelopes result in an additional $0.15 per envelope. That’s on top of the postage required for the weight and dimensions of your envelope! BTW, it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo an actual RSVP card and envelope, and provide an email address for guests to respond to instead.”—David Stark, chief creative officer, David Stark Design and Production
Repurpose Your Flowers“I always suggest couples donate their flower arrangements to local charities after their wedding. The florals will brighten up someone’s day, and as a couple, they can feel better knowing the money they spent on a large budget item is going to be appreciated a second time around. We repurposed the florals from Julianne Hough & Brooks Laich’s wedding and created over 450 small arrangements that were delivered the day after the wedding by Full Bloom, a company that recycles gently used flowers to local hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes. It was magical.”—Troy Williams, principal and event designer, Simply Troy Lifestyle + Events
Make Your Guests Comfortable“Focus on the touch points that allow guests to be present throughout the weekend. For instance, if your ceremony has the possibility of being too hot or cold, make sure to address those issues with blankets, fans, and water. For the reception, always make sure you have enough servers and bartenders. If guests aren’t able to get a drink or wait too long for their meal, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or fun your wedding is. Guests will be focused on their needs not being met and they won’t be able to enjoy the celebration as you’ve intended them to.”—Beth Helmstetter, creative director, Beth Helmstetter Events
Make the Marriage Your Priority“In the rush of planning, don't lose sight of the big picture. Nothing about a wedding is as important as the marriage that will follow. A wedding is a beginning, not an end in and of itself. There will be different points of view, and perhaps even disagreements, as you plan your wedding. Always make your marriage the priority, the details of the wedding become just that, details.”—Bronson Van Wyck, owner, Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Wait To Say Yes To A Dress“Don't buy your wedding dress before you've decided on a location or date—you’ll want to choose one that fits perfectly with the venue setting and the time of year.”—Rebecca Marin Shepherd, owner, The Wildflowers
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping
Don't Sweat the Small (or Big!) Stuff“Everything won’t go according to plan on your wedding day. Keep perspective and remember your marriage is the most important part of the process. Surround yourself with people you can lean on, so you don’t sweat the small or big stuff. Soak in every detail because the wedding day will go by quicker than you can possibly imagine.”—Betsy Krug, co-owner & event director, Rebecca Rose Events
Okay, they're not really secrets—just awesome ideas we encourage you to steal.
originally published by The Knot
While your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it's when you'll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn't want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance. Get inpsired by our favorite reception ideas, from simple planning tricks to wow-worthy entertainment below, and by taking our fun Style Quiz. Then start planning your party here.
1. Arrange Seating Thoughtfully
It sounds obvious, but don't discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement. Place guests with people they'll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they're there for you, and to catch up with their own farflung pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.
2. Hand Out Awesome Favors
Wedding favors should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.
3. Keep Toasts Short and Sweet
Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who's speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.
4. Have a Plan for Kids
To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys.
5. Shake Things Up for Your First Dance
All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it's the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to "At Last," or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars.
6. Offer an Interactive Food Station (or Two)
Great food makes for a great celebration, but offering dishes that everyone can customize to their liking is even better. Interactive food stations, from a mac-and-cheese bar to a sushi-rolling setup, where guests can create their own ideal bites will leave you with happy, well-fed friends ready to have a good time.
7. Rethink Dinner
Instead of a typical three-course menu of salad, entrée and dessert, stretch out dinner over four or five smaller courses (but don't stretch it too much if you're still hoping to get everyone on the dance floor). Plan small surprises between dishes, like a short toast from your hilarious aunt, a sweet poem from a lifelong friend or a professional performance, like a vocalist or dancer. It'll give your guests the experience of a fun night out, complete with dinner and a show.
8. Change Into Something Comfortable
Let's put it this way: You won't have a good time at your reception if you can't take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you'll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that'll rub off on your guests.
9. Plan Surprise Entertainment
Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don't see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.
10. Make Sure Your Band Has Great Break Music
Everyone's been to that wedding before: Just when the dance floor starts heating up, the band takes a break—and the party seems to as well. To make sure this doesn't happen at your wedding, ask potential bands how they plan to handle breaks before you hire them. Some bands will rest in shifts and split off into a smaller two- or three-piece band, while others will turn on filler music. If yours is planning on the latter, ask whether you can provide the playlist, or at least check and approve their picks before the party.
11. Find a DJ Who Gets You
Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obsure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront.
12. Play Music Everyone Can Dance to
Whether you've hired a band or a DJ, if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn't the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don't leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor.
13. Have a Lounge Area
If your site and budget allow, set up comfortable lounge chairs and couches in your reception space. Instead of having your guests sit around the same tables all night, even after dinner's over, a change of environment will promote conversation, give your energetic dancers a resting area and keep your nondancing guests entertained. It's also an elegant and comfortable way to let elderly guests relax and chat while others take to the dance floor. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs and other furniture to create stylish, cozy vignettes complete with pillows, flowers and votive candles in your wedding colors.
14. Hire a Day-of Coordinator
You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it's much more difficult than you'd think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you're all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it's worth it). Check out the different types of planners you can hire.
15. Roll Out a Tasting Station
A full bar is a must-have for a great reception, but take it up a notch with an interactive drink experience. A wine, beer or whiskey tasting lets guests sample different drinks and learn a few tasting notes. A hand-rolled cigar station also fits the bill, as does a make-your-own margarita bar—who could say no to that?
16. Create a Nice Flow Within the Space
One of the less obvious keys to a succesful celebration is movement. The best parties encourage lots of dancing, with mini breaks for mingling and snacking. For maximum dimension and circulation, divide your reception into distinct areas for dancing, drinks and chatting, and coffee and cake. Arrange a few cocktail tables near the bar, offer outdoor seating or set up a table of desserts or late-night bites.
17. Serve Good Food
It doesn't get more 101 than this. Ask yourself what you'd want to eat, both as a wedding guest and in general. Love spaghetti bolognese, dim sum or tacos? Chances are your caterer can find elegant, creative ways to serve it to a large crowd. Another option is to skip the sit-down dinner altogether and pass hearty, satisfying hors d'oeuvres with cocktails.
18. Don't Let Your Guests Get Hungry
Want a guaranteed all-night crowd? Arrange for the catering staff to bring out late-night food like French fries, pizza or doughnuts after midnight (or before, if you just can't wait). Offer a DIY coffee bar complete with flavored syrups and toppings to keep them on their feet. If you stick with low-key favorites, your friends will never want to leave.
19. Plan a Fun Surprise
Here's a secret for you: Keep guests celebrating by planning a surprise for the end of the night that everyone can look forward to. You and your new spouse can perform a song with the band for the last dance or prep a memorable reception getaway like a fireworks send-off.
20. Host a Welcome Dinner
Okay, this tip isn't technically for your reception, but it'll make the reception more fun. A casual event where all your guests can meet and mingle the day before the wedding means everyone will have already gotten to know each other, and old friends will have had a chance to catch up, so when reception rolls around, your guests can skip the pleasantries and get right down to celebrating.
article originally published on Bride.com
Article posted on Brides,com
Let's be honest, discussing budget is probably your least favorite part of wedding planning, and we don't blame you! While there are many areas you can save (think DIY invitations and guest list), the last thing you want to do is sacrifice style and quality when it comes to your wedding dress, and the good news is: you don't have to!
With a stunning assortment of affordable wedding dresses flooding the market, many coming in under $1,000, you'll be sure to find a dress that fits your style and venue. Hoping for intricate beading? No problem. Aiming for a delicate lace overlay? Yes, it’s possible. Prefer a pared-back slip dress? Gorgeous options abound. See what we’re getting at? Affordable bridal gowns do exist, and they’re just as stunning as costlier designer versions.
Here, we’ve curated an edit of the best wedding dresses under $1,000 that we’re certain will suit every price-conscious bride-to-be.
Plunging Back DressBUY ON BHLDN.COMLooking for a modern take on a traditional dress? This instant classic is for you! A high neck provides chic coverage while side mesh panels and an open back add some sultriness.
Sheer Lace Top and SkirtBUY ON NORDSTROMThis sheer top and skirt combo are all about showing some skin in all of the right places. Strategically placed lace paneling showcases some tasteful skin while a simple a-line skirt is the perfect complement to a detailed top.
Ivory Slip DressBUY ON THEREFORMATION.COMYou can never go wrong with a stunning slip dress. It's chic, it's classic and can definitely be worn again long after the wedding. Stay monochromatic with your accessories for a minimalist look or experiment with color to make a bold statement.
If you're a minimalist bride, check out our roundup of the best slip wedding dresses.
Off-the-Shoulder Ball GownBUY ON DAVIDSBRIDAL.COMA classic ballgown like this one will never go out of style and most importantly, it will remain timeless in wedding photos. Try pairing this gown with a cathedral length veil for even more added drama.
Check out these stunning veils from Etsy!
Off-The-Shoulder DressBUY ON BHLDN.COMIt doesn't get any more elegant than this classic off-the-shoulder silhouette. The crisscrossed bodice is supremely flattering and sophisticated. Wear your hair up to showcase your shoulders and neckline.
Customizable Maxi DressBUY ON FAMEANDPARTNERS.COMFor the bride who wants a hand in designing her dress, this customizable dress is for you. With options to line the bodice, remove ruffles, and change the neckline, you have the ability to design a dress that is uniquely you.
Macrame Long DressBUY ON SHOPBOP.COMIf you're having a destination wedding, you need this dress! Nothing says carefree-on-the-beach like crochet and floral eyelet details. Dress this look up with strappy sandals and beachy tresses.
Capelet DressBUY ON ELOQUII.COMCape dresses are trending all over the bridal fashion week runway and for a good reason! This plus size style is sleek, dramatic, and perfect for a city wedding.
Off-The-Shoulder Lace DressBUY ON GRACELOVESLACE.COMThis classic dress was designed to be stunning and comfortable. A thick fold-down panel flatters the shoulders and neckline while beautiful stretch french lace hugs and skims the body.
Empire Waist Twist DressBUY ON SHOWMEYOURMUMU.COMAn empire waist dress is typically one of the most flattering silhouettes out there. The twist on the bodice of this dress draws the eye in and nips you at the waist. A relaxed skirt is easy, comfortable, and stylish.
Floral Lace DressBUY ON WATTERS.COMThe floral details on this dress are totally unique, while the stretchy lace ensures a body-skimming fit. We love this style for a beach or garden wedding.
Check out some of our favorite beach wedding dresses.
Off-The-Shoulder Pouf-Sleeve DressBUY ON MODAOPERANDI.COMThis cotton dress is fashion-forward and supremely flattering. A structured bodice is supporting while carefully placed ruching smoothes the midsection.
One-Shoulder Ruched Silk-Jacquard DressBUY ON NET-A-PORTER.COMWe love a good one shoulder moment, and this look takes the cake. Ruching at the shoulder creates a strong and statuesque silhouette, while subtle floral embroidery woven throughout the silk jacquard adds an element of femininity.
Pleated Plunge Wrap DressBUY ON ASOS.COMChic and effortless, this dress boasts a flattering plunging neckline and a pleated twist at the bodice.
Shoulder Ribbons Dress
BUY ON THEREFORMATION.COMWe love the romantic design of this dress from the feminine shoulder bows to the fitted and slimming bodice to the subtly flared mermaid skirt. This style is perfect for the bride who is looking for a casual but elevated look.
article originally posted on Brides.com
While not for the superstitious, first look wedding photos have been topping the list of wedding must-haves for many couples over the past few years. It's still entirely up to you whether or not you want to uphold the idea of not seeing your soon-to-be spouse until the ceremony, but—if these sweet snapshots are any indication—a first look is a beautiful way to start off your married life.
The instant a couple first locks eyes on their big day is incredibly romantic—whether or not it's done in private before you say "I do," or as you make your grand entrance into the ceremony. But while they may not be a time-honored custom, first look wedding photos have become something of a new tradition amongst modern couples who opt to see one another before the ceremony, resulting in heartwarming, tear-jerking photos.
On the fence about doing a first look? Firstly, seeing your partner before walking down the aisle is a great way to ease any pre-wedding jitters. And if you're concerned about your partner's expression being any less excited when they see you walking down the aisle to exchange vows, don't be. Chances are, your love will still get teary-eyed in the moments before they say "I do." And since they've already seen you in your wedding dress, they can appreciate the crystallizing realization that you two are about to become the two luckiest people in the world even more so.
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
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
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Rose Floral Sage Smudge StickRid your guests' homes of negative vibes and energies with these floral sage smudge stick wedding party favors.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $15
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.
SHOP NOW: Amazon, $34.95 for 50
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!
SHOP NOW: Etsy, starting at $0.99
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.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $50 for six
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?
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $4.50
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.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $2.56
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.
SHOP NOW: Custom Love Gifts, $4
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.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, $95 for 20
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.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, starting at $14.90
Pros of Having a First Look Contemplating a first look?
By The Knot
More couples are doing first looks—45 percent, to be exact, according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study. Although nearly half of couples decide to sneak a peek at each other before walking down the aisle, the choice usually comes after a fair amount of deliberation. So what's the best decision for you?
Pro: You save time by taking the bulk of your photos together before the ceremony.Pair your first look with couple portraits (and wedding party shots) before your ceremony to translate that romantic feeling in photos and free up more time to enjoy cocktail hour with guests. Just make sure that whatever secluded spot you choose, it's one that's away from any guests to prevent them from seeing you.
Pro: A first look could ease any nerves before the ceremony. If you're an especially emotional person, or you know you're going to be jittery or nervous, a pre ceremony glimpse may be the way to go.
Besides doing your first look photos, you can also maximize this time to sneak in a few moments alone with each other that you may not get later on.
Pro: If you're worried about crying at the altar, you can get your tears out of the way before. It's every bride's dream not to sob at the altar with mascara all over her face (one glistening tear hardly ever happens), so if you know you'll likely turn on the waterworks during the ceremony, a first look could help get some of your feelings out beforehand. Your first look photos will be that much more emotional and moving, and you'll have plenty of time for makeup touch-ups before the ceremony.
Simple Tricks for Looking Thinner in Photos
We have all seen photos of ourselves where we simply weren’t happy about how we looked. It’s easy to be your own worst critic but it’s even easier to make small changes in how you pose for photos in order to look slimmer and more confident.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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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