Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tips from Preston Bailey...A Planner for the Celebrities

The celebrity planner offers his insights on how you can create your fantasy wedding Anne Chertoff

Preston Bailey has more than a few expert tips to share with brides and grooms. He was asked how a bride should begin creating her wedding theme and palette and some of his favorite budget-friendly ideas.

His first bit of wedding wisdom: Don't call it a theme, but rather your "wedding concept." Keep reading for more of Preston Bailey's top wedding-planning tips.

Preston says, "The first step in planning a wedding is determining how much money you have to spend. Once you have settled on your budget, decide what is the most important element to you—food, flowers, etc...—and invest more in that area."

After collecting wedding ideas from all over, it's important to narrow down your favorites and to choose your wedding colors and overall concept," advises Preston.

"If you are working with an event designer it is his job to make sense of all the inspiration you have gathered." When working with a bride, Preston will take all the information she has gathered and interpret it into three concepts for the couple to choose from. If you're not working with an event designer, here are three questions Preston suggests you ask yourself to help you create your wedding's look and feel:

1. Do you want a traditional or contemporary style?
2. What are your favorite colors?
3. What flowers do you not like?

Once you have answered these simple questions you can begin to get a general idea of what your wedding's color palette and concept will be.

Saving on flowers: "Don't be afraid to use silk or paper flowers in your arrangements. These flowers can be given away or saved after the wedding is over and will be less expensive than real blooms. You may also want to discuss with your florist the idea of incorporating fruit into your centerpieces which can either be enjoyed by your guests or donated."

"Don't be afraid to create an unusual flow to the event. For example, hand out wedding favors as guests enter instead of when they leave." Preston says, "Brides shouldn't be afraid to take the rules and twist them, surprising guests throughout the night."

Here are Preston's suggestions for a few ways you can save money on your wedding:

Serve a more casual buffet instead of a formal sit-down meal. A buffet-style meal will give your guests an opportunity to walk around.

• Hire a DJ instead of a 10-piece band
• Shop around for your dress
• Work with your baker to create an inventive wedding cake

Preston advises that it's really important that your vendors share their information with you so there are no surprises at the ceremony or reception. "A bride should trust the people she is working with and not micromanage her staff. And while she should plan every detail—including rain plans!—on the big day the bride should let it all go. She should enjoy her wedding and focus on the things that matter."

Preston's last bit of advice: "A wedding is a celebration, a moment of joy—don't ruin it by focusing on things that don't matter."

{Photos courtesy of Preston Bailey}

Bridesmaids on a Budget

How to cut the costs of being an attendant and still do right by the bride
Heather Wax had never been in a wedding before. So when her old chum Elise asked her to be a bridesmaid, the 24-year-old San Franciscan felt honored. Heather's thrill waned, however, once she calculated the costs. There were the dress and shoes, hairstyling and manicure, cross-country flights and hotel rooms, the expenses of a wedding shower, a bachelorette party, and gifts. In fact, certified wedding consultant Michelle Hodges, of San Jose, CA, estimates that the average bridesmaid will spend upwards of $1,000 in the months preceding the big day.

"You should talk to the bride about expenses before you accept the role of being a bridesmaid," says Robbin Montero, a wedding planner in Napa Valley, CA. "If you really feel you can't afford it, you should decline." If your financial concerns don't arise until later, Hodges suggests a chat with the maid of honor. "Remember that when planning a wedding, emotions are high—especially the bride's."

But don't let dinero or the lack thereof discourage you from saying "I do" to a friend who wants you as her bridesmaid. You can still be part of the bridal party, even if you have to pinch a penny or two.

The Dress
When it comes to cutting clothing costs, "the best thing you can hope for is a considerate bride," says veteran attendant Allison Smith, 25, of Berkeley, CA. If the bride's open-minded, suggest that the maids wear coordinating off-the-rack outfits from a chain store, outlet mall, or catalog, or let them choose plain black dresses (you may already own one).

If the bride wants traditional bridesmaid gowns, steer her toward one with versatile pieces that can later be paired with other items. Sing the praises of less-expensive manufacturers like Alfred Angelo, Mori Lee, and Bari Jay. Once the bride's made up her mind, order your gown immediately. Grace Young, a representative of San Francisco dress shop Bridal Galleria, warns, "There are often additional rush fees when you order late." If you're an out-of-state bridesmaid, don't automatically order the dress from a store in your neck of the woods. First, contact the shop the bride is using to see if it can ship your gown directly to you. You'll almost always avoid the sales tax, so even with the shipping costs, the dress may cost less.

To save on alterations, provide accurate body measurements when you order. Young suggests having bridal shop pros do the measuring, if possible. Also, try shopping around for someone less expensive than the bridal shop's seamstress.

Need dyed-to-match shoes? Find out if that pale pair from your last bridesmaid's gig can be re-dyed (a possibility if you're going darker, but be cautious, since the additional dye can sometimes run). For new footwear, seek out inexpensive brands like Nina and Dyeables—and see about coloring them black after the wedding so you can use them again.

If the bride's not requiring dyed-to-match, Hodges recommends black shoes to go with any dark gown. Light dresses can look good with bone or even clear-vinyl shoes. Dig through your closet, then scour lower-priced stores like Payless or Wal-Mart for their most unadorned styles (keeping in mind that bargain-bin specials may rub your tootsies raw).

Hair and Makeup
The easy money-saver? Do your own beautifying: Go with a simple, pulled-back 'do and have all the bridesmaids help with one another's makeup.

Some brides insist on professionally crafted coifs. In that case, consider a beauty school, where students perform a full range of services for nominal fees. And no need to worry about ending up with a frizzed-out fright perm. As Frank Pappacoda, CEO of the Learning Institutes of Beauty Sciences, a chain of New York and Massachusetts cosmetology schools, points out, "The students are under the constant supervision of their teachers" and will heed your wishes. Check out for a school near the wedding

Photo credit:
Illustration by Yuki Hatori
This content originally appeared in Modern Bride magazine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Custom Guestbooks!

Click here to visit the Guestbook Store. Rather than a book of autographs likely to be stored away, these non-traditional guestbooks personalize your event and capture guests' memories and heartfelt wishes of your special day.

Each guest at your event will receive their very own guestbook page to fill out and share special messages at their leisure. After your event, simply place the completed pages in one of our many guestbook album designs and enjoy!

You'll smile each time you read your guestbook! It will be a cherished keepsake to share with family and friends for years to come!

A planners Note

There are so many great and creative ideas avaialable to couples for their weddings. I would like to quickly mention to be sure you have someone on your day to orchestrate these great ideas....and that there is clean up.
For example, below you will see a bocce ball set-up at an outdoor wedding - who is going ot set it up and break it down...and return it to its rightful owner? Who will be responsible taking the top layer of your cake and keeping it safe until you get back from your honeymoon? Make sure someone is assigned to retireving your gifts adn cards. With each idea you have, think of the logistics that go with it. Also, on the day of the wedding I would suggest not relying on the mother-of-the-bride for any set-up or clean up tasks! Happy planning and enjoy the pictures below!

Eye Candy

Bride and groom honor parents, grand parents and great granparents at the entry of their reception.

Soft Lavender glow lends to the romatic feel of this most important event.

Striking color combo and modern setting

Rustic Outdoors - even the containers your flowers are in lend to your attention to detail. As Oprah says, love is in the details!

Classic style using lavender and hints of black

A Las Vegas destination wedding

For the cocktail hour of an outdoor wedding guests were invited to play bocce ball, horse shoes, and more.

Pink bulbs were used in these lamps. A soft pink glow fairs well with most skin tones, and the effect is great for pictures.

Flowers don't have to always be inside a vase...I hope this helps you think outside the box...or vase...

Candles and mirrors bring a great glow to your affair!

This Beautiful Chandelier was used at an outdoor wedding....Love It!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Map Your Journey & Save Your Date!

This couple met when the groom-to-be was 19 and the bride-to-be was 17 - and a little over 12 years later, they are getting married in Puerto Rico! You can see their journey to meeting each other in Herricks New York, their first trip together to Disney World, sharing their 21st birthdays together, and getting engaged in London shortly after their 10-year anniversary! Thanks to Lucky Orchid for sharing, they do beautiful work! Be sure to check out their blog and website for more!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Get Your Wedding Stuff Cheap Thanks to BJ's!

By Nina Callaway, Guide to Weddings...

I've known several brides and grooms who join a wholesale membership club like Costco or BJs just for wedding purchases. Obviously, if you're doing welcome bags, such superstores are great for purchasing water and snacks in large quantities. And the huge candy packages are ideal for those beautiful candy bar basics. But they also have engagement rings and wedding rings, and even bulk flowers available.

The problem comes in the annual membership fee. If you've got a small household, like many who are marrying for the first time, you probably won't be able to take much advantage of a membership after the wedding. So you've really got to make the savings on your wedding purchases cover that annual fee. My husband I discovered we didn't have enough bulk needs to make the numbers crunch correctly, and instead shopped locally for our 2008 wedding.

But now, if you've got a BJ's club near you, you don't have to make that choice! They're offering a 60-day free trial membership to new members, which you can start using now, or anytime before the end of 2009. Shopping locally is always important, but when you're wedding planning and every dollar counts, sometimes it's good to have a wholesale club as an added resource.

A Little Wedding Humor

This little joke was passed onto me from my mother-in-law...whose daughter is getting married April 2010. (I plan to post alot of pics and share their great ideas!) Hope it makes you smile!
"Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement -- not even her parent's nasty divorce.
Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear and would be the best-dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!
A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new young wife had bought the exact same dress as her mother!
Jennifer asked her father's new young wife to exchange it, but she refused. 'Absolutely not. I look like a million bucks in this dress, and I'm wearing it,' she replied.
Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, 'Never mind sweetheart.I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day.'
A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress. When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, 'Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it.
Her mother just smiled and replied, 'Of course I do, dear. I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.'"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Centerpiece Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

Here are some ideas of floral centerpieces you may like. Some can be used for showers and other parties - either way, I hope they inspire you to be creative for your next event! Happy Planning!

Great Martha Tip for Outdoor Wedding

Balmy, breezy weather is the hope of every bride planning an outdoor wedding. But breezes can be the bane of featherlight escort cards lined up unprotected on a table. To make sure the winds don't get the best of them, secure the cards with lengths of decorative ribbon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Keep in Budget by Staying in Season

Spring Wedding Flowers
Cherry blossom, dogwood, gerbera daisy, hyacinth, iris, lilac, lily of the valley, mophead hydrangea, pansy, peony, snapdragon, Stars of Bethlehem, statice, tulip, virburnum

Midwest Cherry blossom, crab-apple blossom, daffodil, forsythia, lilac, lily of the valley, peony, tulip, viburnum

West Freesia, lily of the valley, pansy, poppy, ranunculus, rose, tulip, violet

South Dogwood, forsythia, foxglove, larkspur, magnolia, rose, spirea, sweet pea, tulip, viburnum, wisteria

Summer Wedding Flowers
East Asiatic lily, cosmos, dahlia, delphinium, gerbera daisy, larkspur, pee gee hydrangea, rose, sunflower, tuberose, zinnia

Midwest Clematis, cosmos, gerbera daisy, garden roses, hydrangea, sunflower, viburnum, zinnia

West Begonia, delphinium, gardenia, hydrangea, pansy, poppy, rose, violet

South Aster, cosmos, hydrangea, rose, rosemary, sunflower, zinnia

Fall Wedding Flowers
East Amaryllis, hydrangea, ornamental berries, rose, sunflower

Midwest Autumn foliage, dahlia, rose

West Chrysanthemum, coreopsis, cosmos, Gerbera daisy, hydrangea, lisianthius, pomegranate, rose

South Galax, hydrangea, rose, salvia, sassafras

Winter Wedding Flowers
East Evergreens

Midwest Evergreens

West Acacia, evergreens, forsythia, fruit blossoms, paper-whites, seeded eucalyptus, tulip

South Evergreens, hydrangea, rose

Seasonless (All Regions)
Anemone, Arianrose, baby’s breath, calla lily, carnation, Casablanca lily, Champagne rose, freesia, gardenia, ivies, lily of the valley, Message rose, ranunculus, Stargazer lily, stephanotis, vines, Virginia rose, white dendrobium orchid

Now that you have an idea of wedding flowers by season for the US, take note of the flowers that tend to be the most expensive no matter what time of year it is:
Casablanca Lilys, gardenias, hydrangeas, lilies of the valley, lisianthus. Orchids, peonies, stephanotis, tulips.

Some wedding flowers that tend to be the least expensive are:
Alstromeria lilies, baby’s breath, carnations, mums, daisies, freesia, gladiolus, sunflowers and sweet william.

50 Tips for the Perfect Reception

You may not like all these ideas, but hopefully they will get you thinking of things you have not considered already...

1. Take Stock of Your Location
Do a walk-through of your venue as soon as you're able, noting features to highlight -- a grand staircase or a grove of trees, perhaps -- and areas that need to be spruced up or downplayed.

2. Get Glowing
Lighting can make or break an event, but to create the right ambience, you don't necessarily need to hire professionals to cast patterns on the dance floor. You can set the mood simply by flanking an outdoor walkway with dozens of luminaria or setting dining tables with elegant candelabra or clusters of small candles; you might also replace harsh white bulbs in fixtures with more flattering amber ones.

3. Dress Up Your Entryway
Beautiful front-door decorations, which can be as low-key as swags of greenery, serve as a visual welcome whether adorning a building or a tent and ensure that everyone's first glimpse of the party is from its best vantage point. Below, garland, topiary, and centerpieces by Livia Cetti for the Green Vase. Tent from Sperry Tents. Tables, chairs, table linens, and place settings from Water Mill Party.

4. Work with What You Have
An all-white theme won't do in a hotel ballroom papered in red and gold, nor does it make sense to try to transform a rustic lodge into the Crystal Palace.

5. Choose a Theme
Whether it's a monogram, a color pairing, or a food or flower that evokes a favorite place, a repeated element helps to both personalize and unify your event.

6. Don't Overlook Small Details
A few well-placed touches, such as monogrammed cocktail napkins or an interesting charger, can go a long way toward making your party look extra-special.

7. Think Outside the Box
A silver bowl of sugared fruit makes a stunning and unexpected alternative to a traditional floral centerpiece, and one long banquet table may fit a sleekly modern space better than several round ones do.

8. Size Up Your Centerpieces
Keep floral arrangements and other table decor under 14 or over 20 inches high, so guests can view and converse with each other across the table.

9. Build in Flexibility
Look for ways that allow you to change things easily at the last minute. The seating cards below keep names and table numbers separate, so you can shift guests' assignments without having to rewrite the cards. Left, calligraphy by Gail Brill.

10. Tackle Big Tasks First
Your immediate "to do" list: Book the venue, hire a caterer, decide on basic decor. With these major tasks done, you'll be ready to focus on the smaller details.

11. Know Your Time Line
You'll need to choose your florist at least six months ahead of time and reserve your party rentals two months after that.

12. Send Save-the-Dates
Especially if you are planning a destination wedding or marrying on a holiday, ask guests to mark their calendars. Ideally, mail out these announcements at least four months before the wedding.

13. Invite Carefully
Be prepared: Up to 80 to 90 percent of those invited may attend. (The smaller the list, the more yeses you should expect percentage-wise, because you will likely be asking only those closest to you.)

14. Get It in Writing
Make sure you have signed contracts from all your vendors and that you've read the fine print and resolved any questions.

15. Map Out Your Space
Be sure you have ample room for tables (figure 10 to 15 square feet per person, assuming that the tables are round and seat six to 10 guests); also check that the dance floor is big enough (four to five square feet per guest is about right).

16. Arrange for a Backup
Planning an outdoor reception? You can't count on sunshine, so either reserve a tent or opt for a location with an indoor alternative in the event of inclement weather.

17. Enlist Help
Even if you've decided against an overall wedding planner, you'll want a cool-headed pro on hand to ask guests to be seated for dinner, help organize toasts, and handle any problems. Ask if your venue can provide this service; if not, some independent planners will work for a single day.

18. Don't Let the Seams Show
If possible, designate a separate cocktail area and close the reception space to early arrivals. To create a sense of drama, neither you nor your guests should see the behind-the-scenes machinations and last-minute setup gaffes. Keeping the doors closed will also let your photographer take unhurried shots of the reception decor before the crowd arrives.

19. Whip Up Affordable Favors
Stylish tokens needn't be expensive. These biodegradable bowls (left and below) look sumptuous when wrapped with gauzy fabric and labeled with paper strips that are laser printed in a pretty font. Fill with mini meringues, an economical treat; either make them yourself or ask your caterer to provide them.

20. Go for Daytime Drama
Many venues charge more for after-dark affairs. With an outdoor reception, if you opt for a luncheon event, you'll also cut back on or eliminate costs associated with lighting, such as setup and generators.

21. Narrow Your Tables
By seating diners family-style at long tables no wider than 36 inches, you'll shrink the amount of empty space to decorate, cutting down on centerpiece costs. Guests will still have plenty of room and will find conversation easier as well.

22. Reuse Your Blooms
There's no reason why ceremony flowers can't come to the reception. Ask for altar arrangements that will also complement the party site. Alternatively, your florist may be able to refashion them into small gift bouquets for your bridal party.

23. Play with Time
You'll save on liquor, food, and possibly vendors' fees if you shave 30 minutes or an hour off the party. So it doesn't feel rushed, cut a little from everything (make the cocktail hour a "cocktail 45 minutes") instead of eliminating events.

24. Consider a Full-Service Deal
A site with a fee that includes necessities such as linens and furniture may at first appear more expensive than an a la carte venue, but once you factor in rental fees, you may ultimately keep costs down.

25. Stay in One Place
Have your wedding and reception in the same location. You'll spend less on decor as well as on transportation costs for you and your wedding attendants.

26. Rethink Humble Decorations
Balloons have long been used to fill party spaces at low cost. For a sophisticated feel, opt for a few large balloons instead of masses of birthday-party-style ones. Those with a diameter of 36 inches have an elegant globe shape.

27. Put Big Smiles on Little Faces
Young guests will enjoy goody bags that are all theirs. Fill a toteable container like ours with treats that aren't messy, such as age-appropriate toys, or animal crackers and Smarties. Add paper and washable crayons, and kids might even create one-of-a-kind cards for the bride and groom.

28. Eschew the Receiving Line
If you will be hosting more than 50 people, the traditional meet-and-greet can take an hour or more. For groups of this size, it's more gracious of the newlyweds to thank guests by visiting every table.

29. Tame the Toasts
An unplanned ramble can interrupt the flow of a party and make everyone uncomfortable. Encourage spur-of-the-moment speeches at the rehearsal dinner so the reception includes only words from the host, the newlyweds, and the best man and maid of honor. If you're concerned that your speakers may overindulge, schedule toasts to take place early in the festivities.

30. Break the Ice
At a less formal reception, a short written quiz about you and your new husband, with questions about where you met and how he proposed, can get conversation started between guests who've never met.

31. Set a Time Limit
Your guests have already spent hours, if not days, at prewedding events and at the ceremony itself; they're likely to be tired. Though you may wish the reception would never end, it should last no more than five hours. Also, make it clear that any after parties you schedule are entirely optional.

32. Add Thoughtful Extras
A few small comfort items are always appreciated. Consider stashing a basket of inexpensive slippers near the dance floor for women who are tired of their high heels. Have hand lotion, tissues, or hair spray in the restrooms. At an outdoor fete, stock sunscreen, bug repellent, paper fans, and perhaps even a few cozy wraps for the women in case of a sudden evening chill.

33. Restrain Yourselves
Less is more when it comes to a wedding reception, so consider ditching the 30-minute video montage or the fireworks display for something less elaborate. Even a gesture as simple as distributing sparklers at night's end can charm guests and keep them from feeling overloaded.

34. Keep Your Helpers Happy
Your hospitality should extend to photographers, videographers, waiters, and musicians, as well as any other vendors working at your reception. Make sure they have water, scheduled breaks, and, most important, a meal. It need not be the same one that you're serving to guests, but it should be nourishing and delicious.

35. Offer Small Amusements
Unexpected entertainment is wonderful when your guests tire of dancing. A portrait station of do-it-yourself Polaroids, a cigar roller, or a strolling palm reader can offer a touch of surprise and whimsy.

36. Have Fun with Finger Food
Hors d'oeuvres are best when they are easy to serve and eat. You're offering a choice, so go ahead and pick something exotic; plan on about six options and six pieces per person.

37. Show Off a Beautiful Cake
You may be able to afford a premium baker even on a tight budget. Skip labor-intensive iced decorations and ask for a simpler style, then dress it up with ribbon and fresh flowers. Be sure the flowers you use are food safe and pesticide free.

38. Be Seated
If your budget allows, pamper guests with a plated meal instead of a buffet -- it's an especially nice gesture. If you'd prefer a buffet, be sure to have enough serving stations to prevent long lines, and ask your caterer to prepare and serve plates of food for any elderly guests in attendance.

39. Set Up a "Nonalcoholic" Bar
For an event that includes many children or abstaining adults, consider having a separate table with sparkling and flat water, as well as a spirit-free version of your signature drink if you're serving one.

40. Streamline the Bar
There's no need at many weddings to stock your bar with a full selection of liquor. A red and a white wine, a sparkling wine, and a signature cocktail (like the "mintinis") are plenty, and they're economical to boot.

41. Stick with One Entree
It's perfectly acceptable (and more budget-friendly) to offer a single entree instead of letting guests choose from among a few. Arrange to have a "silent" vegetarian option on hand in case people ask for it.

42. Limit Your Courses
Unless the meal will be the focus of the evening, as with an intimate party at a five-star restaurant, your menu can consist of an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert (the last could even be the wedding cake).

43. Serve a Mini Meal
If you choose to have an after party, you'll need to provide refreshments, such as a light buffet of snacks or breakfast treats. Plan on enough for about one-quarter to one-third of your total original invitees.

44. Have It Both Ways
Can't decide -- or can't agree -- on whether to have live entertainment or a DJ? Split the difference and hire musicians for cocktails and a disc jockey for dancing.

45. Build the Best Band
If you're hiring a cover band, a good one requires at least seven pieces. A male and a female vocalist, plus guitar, bass, keyboard, trumpet or sax, and drums generally make the most versatile combination.

46. Offer Guidelines
If there are specific songs you must hear, make a list beforehand for your band or DJ. Are there tunes you absolutely don't want? Draw up a do-not-play list as well.

47. Keep Mealtime Tunes Soft
If your entertainers aren't taking a break during this time, they should be considerate of diners by turning down the mike and avoiding any energetic selections.

48. Ask What They'll Wear
Most DJs or bands will don tuxedos or suits, but it's best to clarify attire with them to avoid surprises. For a casual event, such as a beach reception, you may want them in something less formal.

Wrapping It Up
49. Depart in Style
Ask your site manager beforehand whether rice, rose petals, sparklers, and the like are allowed. When it comes time to leave, have someone round up guests and pass out props, then say a heartfelt goodbye.

50. Show Appreciation
Make sure you've designated someone, such as the best man, to distribute gratuity envelopes you've prepared at party's end. You'll need to tip all service providers, including the catering and reception staff (unless gratuity is added to the total bill), cleanup crew, and limousine drivers.

Here's a sample reception time-line:
Cocktail hour starts.
The bride and groom enter the reception, are formally announced, and usually have their first dance.
If the reception is a sit-down meal, the first course is served. The host's welcome and best man's toast kick things off.
The main course is served.
The bride and groom dance with their parents, and guests join in.
The cake is cut.
Cake and dessert are served.
The bouquet is tossed.
The bride and groom depart.

As always, thanks to Martha and her crew for the great tips! Happy Planning!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Snipi - A New Way To Organize Online

Visit lets you collect, organize, share and collaborate on content you capture off of any web page. People have been creating hundreds of collections for their weddings in only a matter of days, so obviously we thought you'd be interested. Happy Planning!