Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A French-Italian Cocktail

Heidi decided that her wedding colors will be black, white, and silver. She will be "naming" her reception tables after French and Italian cities to honor her and her fiance's heritage. She loved the martini centerpieces she found online.
So when Heidi asked me for a theme title for her wedding, I came up with "French-Italian Cocktail" she loved it. From this, a few more ideas for her wedding.

  • martini centerpieces

  • martini stamp for invitations and such

    • Heidi wants to serve hors de oeuvres; make them french and italian dishes

    Other items for Heidi's wedding:

    This was a site I found that had tons of different martini glasses. I might use this site for ideas later.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Glossary Of Wedding Terms And Definitions

    All weddings are different of course, but nevertheless they also have many things in common, so here is a look at some of the terms and definitions that are associated with them.

    It can be useful to know in advance what you might expect, whether you will be attending as a guest, a family member (who may be footing some of the bill for these things), or even looking for ideas if you are a prospective bride or groom.

    A wedding glossary can also be used as a precautionary measure as well, as if something goes wrong on such an important occasion; then blame will surely have to be placed somewhere, and if you find yourself not knowing what's what - then that somewhere might just be you!

    Ascot Tie - This is a wide type of necktie that is reserved for the most formal of daytime weddings and occasions. It is worn with a gray cutaway (morning) coat that is longer in the back than at the front and gray striped trousers.

    Backpiece - This is an often highly decorated comb that sits on the back of a bride's head and is used for attaching her veil.

    Ballet - Also known as a waltz, this is a veil length that drops below the bride's knees, but above her ankles.

    Basket Weave - A type of decorative piping on the wedding cake which features interlinked horizontal and vertical lines of icing.

    Best Man - The best man will have numerous duties, the most important of which is to keep the bride's ring safe until it's time for the vows, when he hands it to the groom for putting on her finger. His other duties include announcing speeches at the reception and making his own. He will also sign the marriage license, and make sure the groom gets to the wedding!

    Biedermeier - A type of posy where the flowers are arranged in rings according to their color. (See Posies).

    Blusher - A short, single layered veil that covers the bride's face before the ceremony.

    Bomboniere - This is an Italian word which is sometimes used to refer to wedding favors. (See Favors).

    Boutonierre - This is a single flower or flower bud or a small group of flowers or buds; worn by the groom, best man, ushers and the male relatives of the bride and groom, on the left (over the heart) lapel of their jackets.

    Bow Tie - The most popular choice of tie to wear with a tuxedo. May also be known as a 'dickey bow.'

    Bridal or Bride's Bouquet - The bunch of flowers given by the groom to his bride.

    Bridal Procession - Every girl's chance to be a princess. Resplendent in her gown, and on her doting father's arm, the accompanying entourage can be as lengthy as she wishes (venue and cost permitting).

    Bridesmaids - These are the gals who are good friends with the bride, supporting her emotionally both before and on her big day. Although they pay for their own gowns, the bride should give them an idea as to what sort of styles and colors she expects them to wear, as some in this group may try to outshine the star of the show.

    Buffet - A self service style of meal at a wedding reception, where the food and drinks are presented on a long table, or a series of tables, and the guests collect a plate and help themselves whenever they wish (queues permitting). A buffet is usually the most affordable option as considerably less waiters are needed (if any), but the costs can rise as less control over food portions can be exercised.

    Buttercream - A soft and creamy icing that can be colored, flavored and used for decoration or filling for a wedding cake.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Fall Bridal Affair

    As newly engaged women and their close friends entered the Fall Bridal Affair Oct. 12, they were welcomed with the sight and sound of water cascading down a stone waterfall and scents of caterer’s samples wafting from the booths. The Fall Bridal Affair began at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12 and took place at the Janesville Pontiac Convention Center. This event was orchestrated by the Southern Wisconsin Bridal Affair, led by event coordinator Lisa Sheldon.
    This is Sheldon’s second year of producing bridal affairs in Janesville, but she has a total of six years experience as the event coordinator of Southern Wisconsin Bridal Affair. “The purpose of bridal shows is to help brides plan their weddings by letting them meet vendors in person. A lot of people search vendors on-line, but you don’t get to meet people face-to-face. This way, you can tell if you would like to work with this person or not, or if their personalities mesh with yours.”
    Brides were able to meet with an array of 40 vendors. To prepare for bridal events, Sheldon sends out notices to several vendors in the area informing them of the opportunity to advertise their services. She does not pick which vendors attend; rather, vendors call and reserve booths if they are interested. Sheldon limits the selection of vendors to five for each category of service. Attendees were encouraged to walk around freely to meet with vendors who interested them. Vendors were not placed in any particular order. “The vendors were not arranged. Placement was based on the need for electric outlets and whether vendors needed one or two booths,” Sheldon said.
    “The highlight of these shows for women is usually the fashion show.” The fashion show displayed bridal gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses and men’s wedding fashion. Outfits were provided by Sister’s Bridal Boutique, Bride’s Number One, Fair Lady Bridal and Nedrebos. Models were provided with makeovers from Mary Kay Consultant Patti Woodworth. Sheldon expected many of the attendees to rush toward the back of the room where the fashion show took place, even though the fashion show was scheduled toward the end of the event. She said that people usually set down bags or coats to mark a good seat for the show. At this event, attendees seemed more interested in browsing the vendors than marking their seats before the show.
    Heidi Chaput was one of about 150 people who attended. Chaput, a bride planning her wedding for July 2010, was more interested in browsing the vendors than saving a seat for the fashion show. Chaput said that the choice of vendors was helpful, but she would have like to see more bridal gown vendors. The limited number of dress providers also affected her opinion of the fashion show. “Styles in the fashion show seemed to be mostly made of strapless gowns. I don’t like that style, so I was a bit disappointed,” Chaput said.
    Overall, Chaput said the event was enjoyable and she thought the vendors were helpful and informative. Cakes by Sheila, Buttercups and The Cake Connection all offered delectable cake samples, making it easy for brides to decide what flavors to request for their cakes. They also provided photographs of previously crafted cakes and their prices.
    Photographers were eager to share their style and ideas. One photographer in particular made an impression on several younger brides.
    Stephanie Natale of Natale Photography impressed many brides with her unique style and outgoing personality. “I take non-traditional pictures,” Natale said. “I never take family pictures inside, if possible, because I want people to have a good time with me and be more relaxed.” Her products are unique; one option that she offers is a “gift box” for your picture package. She is in such high demand that she books at least one year in advance.
    Your Jewelry Dreams offered an assortment of costume jewelry meant to match bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses. Chaput said, “They offered to look at pictures of my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses to help me choose the perfect accessories.” Pamela Pollak, the owner of Your Jewelry Dreams, said these services are offered to all brides. “We encourage brides to come in with their dress and try on the whole look together, before they purchase their jewelry. If a bride can’t meet with us in person, we want them to still receive help choosing jewelry, so we will help by exchanging pictures over e-mail.”
    Pollak also sells personalized chocolate gifts. “We can print your picture of these treats and they are completely edible.” Interested brides observed how some treats, such as the chocolate frame, can be separated to save the piece printed upon. This allows couples to save the chocolate with their picture on it, while being able to eat the chocolate frame. These chocolate treats include personalized CDs, frames, trading cards and more traditional candy bars.
    Vendors offered many samples that made them memorable, Chaput said. Juke Box Bandstand DJ provided a CD with samples of their favorite music. They also offer the service of song requests on-line, so that they arrive at weddings fully prepared. Tom Wilbur of Jammin’ Mobile DJ defined the term “Master of Ceremonies” and explained how he and his wife, Sue, play this role at the receptions they serve. Tom described this role as being the host of the reception, someone to inform, guide, direct and involve everyone in the wedding celebration.
    The Pontiac Convention Center, the building hosting the bridal event, also serves as a venue for weddings. They offered DVDs containing a tour of the facilities and descriptions of the packages they offer. By hosting the event, the Pontiac Convention Center displayed their spacious layout and comfortable lounge with plush leather couches and warm colors. Brides were able to utilize the lounge for resting their feet after walking among vendors.
    Spa At Riverfront, Ltd. offered trials of many of their products. Chaput especially enjoyed the glitter hairspray which they willingly applied to brides’ heads. Hand spa treatments were offered to keep hands ready to display, brides should be prepared to show off their hands adorned with new diamond rings. Pamphlets were readily available to describe all of their services and prices.
    Todd A. Olson Photography handed out miniature photograph books. These books are replicas of the large photograph books that the studio offers as an alternative to the traditional wedding album. Chaput said that this studio, and most of the other vendors, was willing to travel, which was very important to her because she lives in the Milwaukee area.
    One vendor offered an alternative to the usual gift registry. I Do Island Weddings enables couples to register for their dream honeymoon. Many couples live together before marriage, and often do not need to register for household items. I Do Island Weddings offers the option for couples to list what they would enjoy doing on their honeymoon. Guests are encouraged to purchase portions of the honeymoon as their wedding gifts. The vendor also provided several ideas on the most popular locations to honeymoon at.
    Each vendor at the Fall Bridal Affair offered unique services, and showcased new trends of the wedding industry. The purpose of a bridal show is to help brides plan their weddings and allow them to meet personally with vendors. The Fall Bridal Affair succeeded in providing a helpful event for Janesville area brides to plan their weddings.Southern Wisconsin Bridal Affair hosts two bridal shows each year, a fall and a spring show. The next show will take place Feb 15, 2009. Visit for more details.

    Heidi and I before the show.

    Shot of the vendors.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Preserve Those Memories

    hey say all good things must come to an end. But, there are ways newlyweds can savor the memories from their wedding day. Here's some advice for keeping the wedding gown, bouquet and cake intact for the future.

    The Wedding Gown

    Time is especially important when handling your dress after the wedding. Take the garment to the dry cleaners as soon as possible, no longer than one month after the ceremony, so stains can be removed. If you wait, the stains may adhere permanently to the material.

    Inquire how the dress will be handled and packed. The gown should be cleaned individually and turned inside-out to avoid harm to the beading and embroidery. Stains should be treated by hand. Some stains, such as sugar, cannot be dissolved by most dry cleaning fluid, so check into this, if necessary.

    The best storage option would be a acid-free box with acid-free tissue paper. The window of the box should be acetate, which is also acid-free, rather than plastic. Glue, metal and rubber parts in the headpiece can produce brown stains on the dress, so request it be stored in a separate box. You can ask to see the gown before it's packed away to inspect it for problems. If you choose to do your own wrapping, remove all padding from the shoulders or bust. Wrap the garment in a clean white sheet or piece of muslin.

    All gowns, whether they are prepared professionally or wrapped by you, should be laid flat, not hung, in a dry area with a constant temperature. Attics or basements may not be a good idea, as they can be too hot or too damp. It's also a good idea to check the dress once a year, for any damage or stains.

    The Cake

    The tradition of eating a piece of wedding cake on the first anniversary can be followed if proper steps have been taken before freezing it. That way you can have your cake and eat it too!

    Encase the upper most layer securely in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Beware of using foil alone as it can leave the cake with a nasty, metallic taste. Store the cake in the back of the freezer where the temperature remains constant so the cake will retain its original flavor.

    The Bouquet

    Flowers can be dried, turned into potpourri or individually pressed within the pages of a book. To properly preserve a bouquet, don't delay, begin the drying process before leaving on your honeymoon.

    Turn the bouquet upside down and hang it in a dry, dark place for about two weeks. By that time it should be completely dried out and ready to decorate a wall or shelf.

    To make potpourri, remove fresh petals and place in a bowl out of sunlight, for about 2-3 weeks. After the petals are dry, add a drop or two of floral-scented potpourri oil.

    Pressed flowers or just the petals can be used to adorn the pages of a wedding album, placed in a picture frame or used on stationery. Cut fresh flowers close to the base and place them inside a folded piece of wax paper. Then, place it all within the pages of a heavy book. Check back in two weeks.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Weddings and Journalism: They Go Hand-in-Hand

    This is the paper I wrote for my print journalism writing requirement at UW-Whitewater. This paper made me consider working in the wedding industry. I loved doing this paper. Yes, I know it's long!

    A wedding is one of the most prominent events in a person’s life. Couples often look to the wedding industry in order to help them plan their weddings. The wedding industry is bursting with a variety of different businesses and a variety of journalistic works. The wedding industry often uses journalism and photojournalism to inspire, advertise, and direct couples through the process of planning a wedding.
    Past views of matrimony were very different from those of today. As these views changed, the wedding industry expanded to meet the changes with the assistance of journalism.
    Notions of marriage were once that the sexes were not equal; women were seen as inferior. According to an excerpt from the 1765 Commentaries of the Laws of England (Gellar, 2001, p. 18):
    “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law…the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of her husband, under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs everything.”
    This notion of women being disproportionate to men began to change as time went by. As women grew more equal to men, their desires to have beautiful weddings customized to their tastes influenced the rise of the wedding industry. Marriage now consists of an equal contract between men and women in the United States. Marriage has also taken on sentimental feelings that previous notions would not have allowed.
    Instead of being merely a contract, marriage has bloomed into the pivotal relationship for most men and women. It is such a significant event that, for some, it has come to deserve a costly extravaganza that no mere friendship would justify. (Gellar, 2001, p.26)
    Marriage is no longer just “the next step”; it has become an individual choice. Couples attempt to reflect their personalities in their weddings because it is such a personal choice. Therefore, personalizing weddings has become more popular, and the wedding industry needs to accommodate this desire.
    Originally, the Victorians fashioned many of the bridal traditions seen in the weddings of today. They produced the gown and veil, bridal procession, throwing of rice and the romantic honeymoon. The British claim to have invented these traditions, but these trends quite obviously reflect Victorian values. “Giving away a bride adorned in virginal white, hosting a family reception, and sending the couple off on an exclusive honeymoon enshrined the Victorian’s romantic notion of female purity, conjugal love, and the nuclear family.” (Gellar, 2001, p. 26)
    Another wedding trend is the bride’s family paying for the wedding. It is believed that this is so the bride would not owe the groom or his family anything for the wedding. Before women were permitted to work, the only thing a bride could have given to a man to repay him would have been sex, breaking the ideals of society. (Wallace, 2004, p. 17)
    With the changes in marriage and how it is viewed, the wedding industry developed and grows continuously. Journalistic wedding publications began to emerge during the 1930s. Wedding stories became a staple of Life magazine during the 1950s and 1960s. The photojournalism of weddings in these magazines helped to spread the wedding industry’s growth further. In 2004, the average annual revenue for the wedding industry was between $22 billion and $70 billion. The wedding industry has come to include wedding consultants, invitation companies, dressmakers, jewelers and anything else involved with planning and executing a wedding.
    Wedding planning begins after the engagement. A man usually proposes to his girlfriend, although it is becoming more acceptable for women to propose. When proposing, it is tradition for a man to give his fiancĂ©e an engagement ring. In medieval Italy, precious stones were seen as part of a groom’s payment for the bride. (Ehrenstein, 2000) At least 70 percent of brides now receive a diamond engagement ring.
    The first use of an engagement ring was in 1477 in Austria. (Gellar, 2001, p. 96) Before rings were used, cavemen would tie braided grass around their brides’ wrists and ankles. It was thought that this would retain the woman’s soul in her body. (Ehrenstein, 2000, p. 20) Diamond rings became popular only after diamond mines were discovered in South Africa in about 1870. Before this, brides were given rings with other jewels set in them. In modern society the diamond ring provides evidence that a woman is engaged, and in some eyes, has achieved a higher social status by entering a promise of marriage. (Baldrige, 2000, p. 16)
    Soon after the proposal, a whirlwind of events sweeps the couple up. Most couples host an engagement party at which they announce to their close friends and family that they are getting married. While the couple is busy planning their wedding, other parties will be hosted in their honor. Friends usually host parties such as the Bridal Shower and Bachelor Party. The night before the wedding, the couple attends another event, normally hosted by the bride’s father. This is the rehearsal dinner, which takes place after the couple and their wedding party performs a run-through of the wedding ceremony.
    As couples begin planning their weddings, they realize that creating a budget is of utmost importance. It is the first section in every wedding planner. The average couple spends about $22,000 on their wedding and reception. A mistake many couples make is not sticking to the budget they set. The largest portion of a budget should be spent on the reception, amounting to half of a wedding’s budget. Reception expenses include the site fee, catering costs, bar and beverages, and the wedding cake. Music, flowers, attire and photography each are suggested to take about ten percent of the overall budget. Stationery should consist of about four percent of the budget. Everything else (wedding rings, attendants’ gifts, the marriage license, transportation, church fees and favors) is grouped into six percent of the budget.
    Through each phase of planning their wedding, a couple often peruses several journalistic works released by those in the wedding industry. According to McBride-Mellinger, editor of Bride’s magazine:
    “The best way to approach your reception [planning] is to think of it as a theatrical production. You’re the director, and it’s up to you to choose the most appropriate props, fit the staging to the script, and cast the event with players who are talented on their own terms and able to improvise with others.”
    McBride-Mellinger also suggests that you allot a solid year from engagement to the wedding, as this will give time for all the planning necessary. When couples begin to scan through wedding materials, they will discover that most of wedding planning is a jumble of lists and checklists.
    Most people planning a wedding purchase at least a wedding planner (book) and a couple of bridal magazines at the very least. “A wedding planner contains all of the information and logistical details necessary for the planning of a wedding. In addition to checklists and charts, it should provide enough room [for information you insert yourself].” (Baldrige, 2000, p. 32) Wedding planners are written in a way that inspires and encourages creative thought. Many include beautiful works of wedding photojournalism to help keep imaginative thoughts flowing.
    The publishers of Bride’s magazine offered some of the first wedding planners in 1948. Planners have become very popular and helpful tools in planning a wedding. They are sold at bookstores, card stores and other locations, making them simple to find.
    The average wedding planner includes several chapters filled with helpful tips and guidelines. Forming a budget is often one of the initial things a couple will notice in a wedding planner. Suggestions for finding locations for the ceremony and reception typically follow the budget section. A timeline is always incorporated in a planner, but the arrangement will vary. Pages upon pages are dedicated to a contact list. This list includes the names, addresses and phone numbers for everyone involved in the wedding from the Maid of Honor and the bride’s mother, to the caterer and the florist. Another major list will of course be the guest list. The list tracks who has been invited and who has replied with what number of guests. Frequently, the guest list is followed by a gift list, so that a couple can appropriately thank each guest for their endowment. Sections in a planner go through each vendor that a couple will want to employ for their wedding. Reminders and guidelines flow from the books to help keep a couple on track. Though each wedding planner may differ, all include fundamental information that help guide a couple through putting a beautiful wedding together.
    Web sites are also great resources for planning a wedding and finding vendors. A Modern Bride article lists the editor’s favorite 100 web sites. The list includes websites for accessories, cake toppers, charitable giving, favors, and anything else a couple may want to look up while planning a wedding. (Modern Bride, Jan 2008, p. 174)
    Brides magazine has its own website, as do many other wedding magazines and businesses. Sites such as and offer planning tools for brides. These include guest lists and budget guides. Magazine websites offer online versions of articles published in their magazine. Dress company web sites display photographs of all dresses and accessories.
    Some couples are fortunate enough to be able to hire a wedding consultant. A wedding consultant is in charge of helping couples plan their wedding and putting things together for the event. There are five major things that a wedding consultant can do: mediate between a couple and vendors; organize and procure the necessary permits and other paperwork; supervise and oversee the coordination of vendors on the wedding day; orchestrate and lead everyone through the wedding day; and they can help inspire.
    With so many people claiming to be superb wedding consultants, a couple is advised to choose carefully. At least three different wedding consultants should be interviewed. A consultant should fit the personalities of the couple. A couple ought to ask how many weddings the potential consultant has organized; ten or more is adequate. If a couple is trying to save money, a less-experienced consultant will charge less. It is imperative that the consultant do only one wedding on a given date. Orchestrating two weddings on the same day will result in one of the weddings not receiving the consideration it needs. Couples should ask if the consultant will periodically provide timetables and updates. It should also be clarified if the consultant will be dealing with all vendors or if the couple does most of the meeting and the consultant merely organizes at the end. Consultants offer a variety of services. Some meet with couples at the beginning of wedding planning to assist with brainstorming, or at other periods throughout the planning process when a couple feels they need assistance. Consultants offering this service will charge by the hour. Others will plan a couples whole wedding, and charger either a flat fee or a percentage of the entire wedding budget (usually 10-15 percent). A consultant will play a vital role in the success of a wedding if chosen appropriately. (Modern Bride, Nov 2007, p. 208)
    Wedding consultants usually encourage getting more than what is actually necessary. In this way, consultants help other vendors in the wedding industry profit more. The journalistic articles and photojournalistic works in wedding magazines help to inspire and represent wedding ideas and supplies, also advertising services in the wedding industry.
    “Bride’s promoted its mission as serving the thousands of young women who married each year, but its business agenda was to sell ads.” (Wallace, 2004, p. 144)
    Bride’s started as So You’re Going to be Married in 1934. This appears to be the first wedding/bridal magazine published. In 1935, the publication changed its name to Bride’s. Bride’s House, Inc. is the publisher Bride’s magazine. They have expanded to now publish Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, a website, books and planners to help a couple plan their wedding. Bride’s originally started out as four issues each year, and only by subscription. The magazine first sold on newsstands in 1949. Now, six issues are released each year and are sold by subscription and on newsstands.
    The average bridal magazine has about 700 advertisement pages per issue, the majority of these pertaining to dresses. Wedding magazines interview people in the wedding industry to give advice and to advertise the services and products offered in the industry. Real weddings are documented and given as examples of how to plan a wedding. The magazines cover nearly every aspect of planning a wedding.
    An extremely important skill for couples planning a wedding is communication with vendors. This is where a wedding consultant becomes helpful. When a couple enters a meeting with a vendor, they should bring samples of fabric, stationery, flowers and pictures to help stimulate a vision for the wedding. Once a couple and a vendor agree on the specifics of service, everything must be documented in a contract. A contract with a vendor should include services provided, dates, deliveries, payment and signatures of all parties involved. When speaking with vendors, a couple can ask for suggestions for other vendors to use.
    “Location affects every decision: the number of musicians you can accommodate, the need for valet service, etc. Depending on the amenities offered by a site, couples may have to rent not only flatware and the linens, but also the tables themselves. For an outdoor reception, it may even become your responsibility to provide bathrooms.” (McBride-Mellinger, 2001, p. 15)
    There are also several questions to ponder when evaluating sites for the ceremony and reception sites. Prices can vary dramatically and should be taken into consideration when looking at the whole picture of the wedding budget. Some churches mandate classes and other requirements in order to marry in their house of worship. A couple may have to spend more to provide furnishing if they are not provided. Some locations will have decorations provided; others may not. If a location does not have the desired decorations, it must be inquired if rules allow for extra decorating.
    After the location for the ceremony and reception is set, stationery helps to set the tone for the wedding being planned. Stationery can provide guests with a peek at what is yet to come at the wedding and reception. Invitation companies are similar to other businesses in the wedding industry. They use journalism in their brochures and in the wording of their stationery. Invitation companies also compare with other businesses in that they usually offer more products than just invitations.
    The American Wedding is one of theses invitation companies. They invite couples to consider buying more from them. “We understand that your wedding is more than just an invitation, so The American Wedding makes it easy to create a picture-perfect wedding with coordinating accessories. From ceremony to reception, carry your theme and colors through to every event with items like matching napkins, glasses, matchbooks, and favor boxes,” the brochure says.
    Flipping through the pages of wedding magazines reveals an assortment of invitation company advertisements. Invitation companies are merely another business in the wedding industry ready to tempt couples into buying their supplies and services, all for the sake of enhancing the appearance of a wedding.
    Invitations are “functional document[s] that beckon friends to a gathering, providing information as to the time, place, and location of the event while suggesting the standards of taste and decorum to which guests will adhere; what wedding consultants frequently refer to as the wedding ‘theme’.” (Gellar, 2001, p. 131)
    Save-the-dates can be important to announce the day of a couple’s wedding. This is especially true of out-of-town weddings and weddings scheduled to occur around a holiday. These announcements should be sent out four to six months before the wedding. When ordering these, the same font, paper, etc. should be used as for the invitations.
    Invitations are sent out later than save-the-dates, they should be sent out six to eight weeks prior to the wedding. Along with the invitations, response cards should be sent. This enables the couple to plan accordingly and serve everyone who will be attending. (Shaw, 2001, p. 93)
    Another piece of stationery that may be ordered from the same invitation company is programs. This is a pamphlet distributed at the wedding ceremony detailing the order of service, songs to accompany, readings and a list of the wedding party. Other items may be added such as poems or pictures to further personalize the programs. Again, the theme of the wedding should be reflected in the programs. (Shaw, 2001, p. 258)
    Ordering stationery can be confusing. There are many choices to make and many options to consider. A vital piece of information is the number of save-the-dates, invitations and programs you will need. Consultants generally recommend that a couple order 25 extra. If the company chosen will print addresses for the couple, they need to have a complete list of names and addresses of all guests. The date of the wedding can be written out, or typed as a numeral. Paper comes in many different textures and colors. An array of designs is offered by most invitation companies, examples displayed in their brochures, making this easy to identify and order. (Blum and Kaiser, 2000, p. 61)
    Before a couple orders their stationery, they should choose the members of their wedding party. “Since the Middle Ages, the church (and later the state) has required that weddings be witnessed by at least two people.” (Wallace, 2004, p. 106) This tradition is likely the reason for having bridesmaids and groomsmen. Other members of the wedding party may include ushers, a flower girl and a ring bearer.
    Many couples choose to purchase gifts for their attendants. The groom’s attendants may be given a variety of things. Common gifts include a watch, a shaving kit or any item that recognizes an interest the groom and his attendants have in common. The bride’s attendants are usually given jewelry, make-up or other small trinkets. Many invitation companies offer gift ideas, and some offer package deals for placing a large order.
    Favors for guests are another gift that the couple may choose to provide. “Every guest appreciates being presented with a token to remember a couple’s wedding day.” (Baldrige, 2000, p. 54) In lieu of favors, some couples make a donation to a charity whose cause is important to them, and then give guests a card or bookmark explaining the donation made in their honor. If a couple chooses to provide favors, they have many options. Treats in boxes, candles or small frames can all serve as favors. These too, are items that many invitation companies offer.
    Besides purchasing others gifts, the couple will receive gifts for their wedding. Originally, registering for gifts was looked down upon by brides. It was seen as inappropriate to ask for specific gifts. Now it is more widely accepted, and many stores offer gift registries. The purpose of registering for gifts is to ensure that the couple has everything needed to start a home together. Registries are also a means for retailers to profit. Travel agencies now offer the option for couples to register for honeymoon activities. Since many couples now live together before marriage, registering for household items may not be helpful.
    “An enduring symbol of female redemption in wedlock and a means by which women announce their adherence to tradition marriage ideals, the white dress is the most salient visual object of the modern wedding.” (Gellar, 2001, p. 214) The wedding dress is often the most exciting part of the whole wedding for the bride, and it has become a focal point of the wedding, a piece that all guests turn their attention to. Advertisements for wedding gowns consume most of wedding magazines, varying drastically from dress to dress. The wedding gown is the only garment that a woman is encouraged to wear for only one day. “Brides are urged to fall in love with their gowns, to choose a dress that expresses their inner character, to live out their childhood dreams.” (Wallace, 2004, p. 198)
    Brides will want to also purchase shoes, undergarments and possibly a headpiece. The couple is responsible for paying for the bride’s entire ensemble and for the groom’s outfit. Attendants are expected to pay for their own outfits, but in some circumstances couples may choose to help. Bridesmaids wear striking outfits, often the same or unified, to differentiate themselves as participants of the wedding, not just as guests. Groomsmen wear tuxes similar to the groom’s ensemble.
    “In the beginning there were gatherings of herbs, potent combinations of garlic, chives, rosemary, and dill, whose aromas were meant to drive off evil spirits.” (Stewart, 1987, p. 101) This is most likely how the tradition of the bride’s bouquet began. Flowers usually add up to about ten percent of a wedding’s budget. This averages out to be about $967. Most couples have at least a bride’s bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets and boutonnieres. Flowers can also serve as grand decorations, such as table centerpieces for the reception. “Flowers, in spectacular or simple arrangements, have always played a major role in ceremony and reception decoration.” As with other vendors, couples should find a florist who will work to fill their needs and work with their taste. (Baldrige, 2000, p. 72)
    “The ‘feast’ [at the reception] honors those gathered, draws them together, provides the setting for the celebration and substance to set spirits soaring.” (Stewart, 1987, p. 217) Catering has become a significant part of the reception, and many guests see this as one of, if not the, most important part of the whole wedding. The time of the wedding reception can affect the type of menu offered at the reception. For a late afternoon reception, the menu may consist of light hors d’oeuvres. A reception scheduled closer to dinner time should contain heavier hors d’oeuvres, usually a mix of hot and cold offerings. A reception starting at six in the evening or later should entail a full dinner, either a formal sit-down, served dinner or a buffet meal.
    Choosing a caterer that meets a couples needs is very crucial. A couple will want to guarantee that this significant part of the wedding satisfies their guests. When interviewing caterers, a couple should ask if the caterer for recommendations based on the reception site. References and sample menus of the caterer should be checked. If a tasting is offered, the couple should take advantage of it, but be aware of any fees involved. Staff is often available, but they come with a price that should be discussed up front. If the caterer handles liquor, the couple should discuss how much this will cost them and how the caterer serves it. Occasionally, a caterer will also bake the wedding cake. Again, all details should be written into a contract. (Blum and Kaiser, 2000, p. 141)
    “More than any other visual element, the cake has come to symbolize the wedding.” (Baldrige, 2000, p. 48) The wedding cake usually continues the theme of the wedding through its flavor and embellishment. “The ritual in which bride and groom together cut the cake and feed each other slices is a favorite of photographers and guests alike—a moment of public intimacy intended to symbolize the sustenance that each partner has found in marriage.” (Gellar, 2001, p. 326) Bakers, like caterers, usually offer tastings and photographs of previously made cakes.
    Entertainment at the reception often comes in the form of music. Music can be provided by a D.J., a band or an orchestra. “For many weddings, the music proves to be the single most important ingredient.” (Stewart, 1987, 158) This is because music gets the guests to mingle, move and get excited. Looking back, most couples wish they had considered their entertainment more. A song list should be compiled for the D.J., band or orchestra to give an idea of what a couple enjoys. If the couple does not want certain songs or genres of music played, they should also make a list of these.
    Photographs and videos of a wedding help to immortalize the wedding and create permanent memories. (Wallace, 2004, p. 118) Wedding photography has also become a significant means of advertising in the wedding industry. Photography is important to the couple because the pictures forever remind them of the special day. A couple should choose their photographer carefully. The photographer should fit the couple’s taste. Some photographers prefer traditional, posed situations; others prefer less rehearsed photographs. It is important to find out what sort of lighting the photographer will use; this could cause problems for certain wedding sites. Expenses add up, so the couple should be very clear about what they will need to pay for. Will they have to pay if the photographer uses an assistant? Proofs may also cost extra.
    Transportation is a small part of the wedding, but this can affect the mood of a couple’s wedding party. A limousine ride that takes the whole wedding party from ceremony and reception site can help keep spirits high.
    The wedding itself consists of two key elements: the ceremony and the reception. “Historically, a wedding ceremony has always been a public event, announcing a new relationship between two persons in whom society has interest.” (Stewart, 1987, p. 134) This event of exchanging vows and committing to each other has become more personal. During the 1970s, personalizing the vows became popular. Vows are at the heart of the wedding. Written and spoken words greatly express the feelings that two people have for each other. Couples can include special memories in their vows to make them more meaningful.
    The reception is often seen as a large party. Wedding planners often describe it as an elegant post-ceremony party at which friends and relatives of the couple celebrate. Because the event is so special, a lot of money and effort is put into the reception. The reception is a combination of the efforts of several people, especially the vendors.
    After the ceremony and reception is over, many couples embark on a romantic honeymoon. Magazines and travel agencies advertise luxurious getaways for the newlywed couple. This is a huge expense that is often not included in the wedding budget.
    The wedding industry uses journalism and photojournalism to advertise and expand its industry. Throughout each phase of the wedding planning, couples refer to the publications put out by the wedding industry to help them idealize their perfect wedding day. With all the books, planners, photographs, web sites and magazines available on the subject of weddings, couples can be well armed with tools to successfully plan a beautiful wedding.


    Baldrige, Letitia. Legendary Brides. New York; HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2000.
    Blum, Marcy, and Laura Fisher Kaiser. Wedding Kit for Dummies. Foster City, CA;
    IDG Books Worldwide, Inc, 2000.
    Geller, Jaclyn. Here Comes the Bride: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique.
    New York; Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001.
    McBride-Mellinger, Maria. The Perfect Wedding Reception. New York; HarperCollins
    Publishers Inc, 2001.
    Shaw, Kim. The New Book of Wedding Etiquette. Roseville, CA; Prima
    Publishing, 2001.
    Stewart, Martha and Elizabeth Hawes. Weddings. New York; Crown Publishing, 1987.
    Wallace, Carol McD.. All Dressed in White: The Irresistible Rise of the American
    Wedding. New York; Penguin Group, 2004.
    Modern Bride Magazine Issues of 2007 and 2008
    “100 Best Websites” December 2007/January 2008. Modern Bride p 174.
    “5 Things a Consultant Can Do” October/November 2007. Modern Bride. p 208.