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Wedding Guide

Reception Ideas

cateringAlternatives to rice throwing might include doily cones filled with confetti, little bags of bird seed or potpourri, or even bottles of blow-bubbles for a festive touch that everyone can have fun with and is gentle to the environment.

An earth-friendly favor that also serves as a balloon weight, decoration, and centerpiece all in one is a tree seedling. The seedlings are 6-8 inches tall and can be decorated with mylar tissue, curling ribbon or tulle for the perfect party favor that will live for years.

Having a hard time finding a reception hall? More and more couples are choosing locations that match their personalities. Boats, mansions, wineries and museums are among the most popular.

An elegant option for cake cutting music is violins and flutes played in a semi-circle around the newlyweds for a more romantic presentation than The Bride Cuts the Cake.

With the rising awareness of drinking and driving, more families and wedding parties are riding home safely and in style with limousines. Elegant sedan cars instead of limousines may help trim costs to enable more family members the consideration of being provided a safe ride home.

Carriages, vintage cars and Rolls-Royces are popular for couples who want to make a statement on their wedding day.

For receptions, breakaway centerpieces are a thoughtful touch. Individual bud vases, ornaments, or small plants all gathered in one basket can be taken home by guests as a memento.

Help break the ice among guests by having the best man announce at the beginning of the meal that the bride and groom will only kiss when a table or group stands up, singing a verse of a song with the word LOVE in it.

A lighter and more economical option for your bar is a White Bar, with vodka, rum, champagne and wine for the base stock.

Treat your guests with little take-away bags of sweets, cornucopia filled with flowers, or a memento of the occasion.

FYI: With a domestic-brand beer, a half-barrel keg contains 15.5 gallons, while the quarter-barrel contains 7.75 gallons. If you are using a 10-ounce cup, this totals to about 200 cups of beer for a half-barrel, while the quarter-barrel contains about 100 cups. (Imported beer kegs are sized differently, with a half-barrel containing 10.7 gallons. Youll also find that domestic taps may not fit an imported keg.)

An alternative to seating name cards is to number the tables, and provide each guest with a personally addressed envelope that contains their table number. Calligraphy adds an impressive touch, and guests will appreciate being spared the search for their seats.

Make a card of all the married couples at the reception and put in a basket. When people are calling out for a kiss, pull a name out, that couple has to show the new couple how they have to kiss.

Questions to Ask the Caterer


_____ What is the estimated cost per person for a seated dinner? Buffet? Cocktail reception? Open bar? What does the cost include?

_____ What is the staff-to-guest ratio? (For seated meals, the ratio is usually one waiter to 8-10 guests.)

_____ Have you worked at my prospective reception sites? Can you recommend other sites for weddings?

_____ Do you have a set menu? Can the menu be modified?

_____ Can the kitchen staff adhere to special dietary restrictions for some guests who may be diabetic, kosher, vegetarian?

_____ Do you have liability coverage  including liquor liability?

_____ Can you supply me with a list of references? (Contact two.)

_____ How much advance time is needed to confirm a reservation?

_____ Can I arrange to view the catering of another wedding reception to check food display, service style, flow, organization? Can we arrange to taste foods on the menu you suggest?

_____ Do you set the tables? Provide linens? Order floral arrangements? Coordinate the music?

_____ What additional charges might be incurred other than the food, beverages, and rental of requested extras?

_____ What is the policy for payment, tipping? (Some caterers request cash, others accept checks or credit cards. Some include gratuities in the base or overall price, others do not.)

_____ How much advance time will you need to set up?

_____ Can you send me a confirmation letter including the wedding date and time, names of service help, tipping policy, decorating time, color schemes, menu, cost per person?

_____ Can I see available linens? What is the additional rental cost?

_____ How much food is enough? (Ten to twelve hors doeuvres per person is adequate. With buffets, offer a choice of two entrees.)

_____ Will the hors doeuvres be butlered or on a buffet?

_____ How much are your overtime and cancellation costs?

_____ Can you give me a ceiling on anticipated menu price increases? (Caterers quote final prices 90 days prior to the wedding. Due to rising food costs, an increase might be 10%.)

_____ When will the wedding cake be delivered (if your caterer will provide you with one)? Is the cake cut by the banquet staff?

_____ Can we go over placement of the head table  on a raised platform or floor level, dais or round table?

_____ How many drinks does each bottle of liquor, champagne, provide? Is there an opening fee per bottle of champagne?

_____ Will you feed the photographers, the musicians?

_____ What is the guarantee requirement for number of guests?

_____ When must I provide a final guest count?

Get all estimates in writing; contracts should state what food and drink is to be served, how many servers will be needed, and a provision to inform the caterer of the final number of expected guests at least a week before the wedding.

Planning Your Beach Wedding

beach weddingThere is no right or wrong way to plan a beach front wedding. It can be large, small, romantic, whimsical or even downright goofy…the choice is completely up to you and your ideas!

There is certainly nothing that should dissuade you from your vision of a beautiful beach side ceremony. As a matter of fact, there are many benefits that will make your wedding day a wonderful and joyous event.

A beach wedding can be much cheaper than a traditional wedding. It is said that the average budget for a traditional wedding is between $20,000 to $30,000!

A beach wedding can be a casual affair. It allows everyone to relax. Your guests can dress comfortably and affordably.

The wedding ceremony and reception can be held right on the beach. No need to travel to different locations!

A beach wedding allows you to involve everyone in the activities. Guests are not restricted to sitting quietly in their seats.

A beach wedding is a modern and refreshing change from the traditional wedding. It allows your creativity and personality to come through.

If you dream of a wonderful day on the shores of Northern Michigan, think about one thing… Mother Nature rules! Depending on her mood, she can brighten your day or rain on your parade. When planning your celebration be sure to arrange an alternate location should the weather turn bad.

If every hair is not in place due to the bay breezes or a last minute snafu with the bouquet happens, remember…these are not imperfections in you day…they are special memories!

Submitted by Boo Birk


wedding photographer1A good time to start looking for a photographer and/or videographer is about nine to twelve months in advance. Begin with recommendations from family and friends, looking through albums for quality, style and formats that you like. Some criteria to keep in mind when interviewing photographers include:

  • Do the photos have a sharp, crisp quality?
  • Can they do retouching? What about special effects?
  • Will there be an extra charge for the proofs?
  • How long do they keep the negatives?
  • Does the quoted price include the finished album?
  • Do you feel confident with the person and feel that they will perform professionally, inconspicuously and deliver great pictures?
  • Check for a mix of shots that are technically good.
  • Look for the emotion the photo projects.
  • Is the person showing you the photos the person who will be shooting your wedding?
  • Discuss costs. Work out a clear payment schedule, and obtain an itemized agreement that lists everything included in the package and the total cost.
  • Can he arrive early to capture last-minute preparations, moments with family members, and the little events that make the day complete?
  • Will he design your album for you?

In the Spirit of Tradition

wedding photographyThe wedding shower originated with a Dutch maiden who fell in love with an impoverished miller. Her friends showered her and her groom with so many gifts that they could forego her missing dowry.

A 19th Century reason for wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand was that this finger supposedly had a vein that led directly to the heart.

Lucky is the bride who marries in old shoes.

Why something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? The old was usually a personal gift from mother to daughter, a symbolic piece of wisdom for married life. Something new symbolized the new family formed by the couple. Borrowing is especially important, since it is to come from a happily married woman, thereby lending the bride some of her own marital bliss to carry into the new union. Blue has two traditions: Pagan Roman maidens wore blue on the borders of their robes to denote love, modesty and fidelity, while Christians associate it with the purity of the Virgin Mary.

The custom of carrying the bride over the threshold stems from the same belief that aroused the idea of runway carpet and strewing the aisle with flowers and petals. It was an ancient belief that the newly married couple was very susceptible to evil spirits. By carrying the bride and supplying a protective layer between the floor and bride, she would be protected from the ground monster.

The bridal veil is descendant from two sources. A womans face that was covered by a veil meant that she was spoken for. A veil was used to disguise the bride so that she would not be recognized by the evil spirits wishing to harm the vulnerable bridal couple.

The Jewish Chuppa canopy offered a sanctuary from evil spirits.

The kiss that seals the wedding is much more than a sign of affection. It has long been a token of bondingthe exchange of spirits as each partner sends a part of the self into the new spouses soul, there to abide ever after.

An old Scottish belief for good fortune: A bride should be met at the door after the wedding ceremony by her mother, who must then break a currant bun over her daughters head.

If a cat sneezes on the day before a wedding, the bride will be lucky in her marriage.

A young bride always wore her hair long and loose as a sign of her youth and innocence.


Grooms Check List

groom6-9 Months

Select your best man. Decide how many ushers you need (1 for every 50 guests), and select them.

Start making out your guest list.

Arrange visit with minister to discuss ceremony.

Discuss wedding expenses with fiance and all parents.

Discuss honeymoon plans. If traveling abroad, make legal arrangements (passport, visas, inoculations, etc).

Visit wedding gift registry with fiance.

3-5 Months

Complete guest list, give it to fiance.

Consult with fiance and order wedding attire for self, for best man, ushers and fathers.

Arrange transportation (limousines, etc.) for wedding party to ceremony and reception.

Complete honeymoon plans: buy tickets.

Order wedding rings and engraving.

Arrange to pay for brides bouquet and going-away corsage; order boutonnieres for men, corsages for mothers.

See your doctor for exams, blood test.

8-10 Weeks

Plan rehearsal dinner with your parents.

Consult with fiance and arrange lodging for relatives and ushers from out of town.

Select gifts for best man and ushers, to be given at the bachelor dinner or wedding rehearsal.

Choose brides wedding present. Something personal, such as a watch or other piece of fine jewelry, is traditional.

Make sure necessary documents  legal, insurance, financial, medical, andreligious  are in order.

Give or attend bachelor party.

Pick up wedding rings, check engraving.

Help fiance with thank-you notes.

3 Weeks

Make a date with your fiance to get the marriage license.

Arrange with the best man for transportation from the reception to the airport or train.

Double check honeymoon reservations and hotel for wedding night.

2 Weeks

Explain any special seating arrangements to head usher.

Put the clergy members or judges fee in a sealed envelope and give it to the best man, to be delivered after the ceremony.

Purchase travelers checks.

Get your going-away clothes ready so you can change after the reception.

Pack for your honeymoon.

Arrange to move belongings to new home.

Remind best man and ushers of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner details. Present gifts to attendants at rehearsal dinner.

Arrange for rental returns.

Be sure you and your bride sign the wedding certificate and see that it is safely put away before leaving on your honeymoon.

Have best man send a thank-you telegram to your brides parents the next day saying how lovely both the wedding and reception were.

Gown Preservation

Wedding dress The professionals at Jans Cleaners in Clio, Michigan offer the following tips for taking care of stains and the cleaning process:

Before Your Ceremony

Consider what you wish to have happen with your gown after the wedding. Whatever your desires for the future, your investment in your gown and its professional care, cleaning and storage should be near the top of your list of things to do after the wedding.

Perhaps you wish to make it a keepsake, perhaps you hope to have your own daughter wear your gown on her wedding day, weve seen preserved gowns remade into gorgeous and cherished Christening gowns for children and grandchildren.

Ask the provider of your gown how the gown should be cleaned and if the trim should be cleaned the same way. Ask for cleaning instructions in writing if possible.

Your dress most likely will pick up invisible stains from food, beverages, make up and body oils (yours and those of all the huggers & kissers!). If these stains are not properly removed, they may become permanent.

Storing Your Gown

You can or we will remove extra padding, metal hooks and buttons which can rust and discolor over time. These notions can be stored in separate packaging along with your gown.

Protect your gown investment by storing it in acid-free paper and unbleached muslin protective wraps.

Store your gown, folded and packaged flat in a restorative quality box. This takes all the fabric stress typically caused by the dresss weight on a hanger.

Freshly cleaned and wrapped in protective covers, your gown should be stored in a safe, temperature controlled room. Under the bed in your guest room is one great place to store your cleaned and preserved gown. Extreme temperatures of attics and basements can cause great harm to your gown.

Do You Need a Wedding Coordinator

reception It used to be that hiring a wedding coordinator, band, pastry chef, professional photographer or videographer, etc. was a luxury only those with a huge budget could afford. After all, Aunt Sarah has been baking cakes for family occasions for years, and your cousin has gotten pretty good with the video camera, and surely there is a friend of the family who can help coordinate the details the day of right?

Not always. We have all heard the stories of the video tape that is bouncing up and down, the missed photos, the family friend who starts drinking at the wedding reception and forgets their job.

Your wedding day is likely the most important event you will ever plan. Even if you plan events every day, this day has a great deal more emotion, meaning and tradition behind it. Why try to do it all yourself? You deserve the best, so why not assemble a great team to make your dreams come true?

Some brides and grooms have never even planned a dinner party for 12, much less a really important party for 50 or 150 or more. Your family and friends should be able to enjoy your special day with you; not as employees at the wedding or reception. Even if you plan or are involved in events on a daily basis, planning your own wedding without professionals is like a heart surgeon trying to do surgery on himself or herself.

Professionals can work with you, often saving hundreds of dollars by knowing some of the pitfalls to avoid

Professionals are experienced at handling last minute details and challenges but remember the earlier you seek some help, the better a professional is able to help you. A day of coordinator works with you well ahead of the day of your wedding. They need to know the details so they can carry out your vision and dreams for your wedding day

Professionals work together often and are part of a team. Professionals are up to date on the latest rules, regulations, laws and trends.

Recent brides will tell you they wished they had gotten more help, had gotten more photos (good ones), and had slowed down and enjoyed the day and their guests more. Do you need a professional? Probably. Do you deserve a professional? Absolutely you are worth it! Enjoy the journey to your special day.

Submitted by C. Anne Coulter

Details, Details, Details

wedding-cake-If your gown is an heirloom, allow time for cleaning and freshening, and any alterations that may need to be made.

Select a pretty handkerchief to tuck into your bouquet for sentimental moments.

Practice wearing your wedding shoes before the big day.

Pack a small emergency bag for your dressing area: iron, needle and thread, hairspray, aspirin, nail polish, safety pins, extra panty hose, etc.

Planning an outdoor wedding? Have a colorful supply of umbrellas on hand to help ward away the rain.

Remind the wedding party to gather quickly after your vows for group photographs. You’ll want to greet waiting guests as soon as possible.

Its proper to send lodging information to your out-of-town guests. Most facilities will do so for you if provided with your guest list.

Dont forget to place a pretty guest register at the reception.

Arrange for a close friend or relative to transport gifts that are delivered to the reception.

If youre planning on candles, be sure to appoint someone to light them.

Leave your honeymoon itinerary with a family member.

Ask your bridesmaids to place their bouquets around the reception area as additional decoration. They’ll be thankful not to hold them during the celebration.

Select a special gift for your parents as a gesture of thanks. Present it to them the morning of the wedding.

Send a romantic telegram to your fiance just before the ceremony.

Enjoy a light snack before leaving for the ceremony. Many brides never taste the food at their reception.

The best time to cut the cake at the reception is immediately after the main course is cleared. Eating the first piece of cake together symbolizes your first meal together. The grain its made of stands for fertility and fruitfulness. Proposing a short toast to one another reinforces the mood of the moment, making it a special one.

Be sure to get a good nights sleep before the wedding. You’ll be glad you did!

Be sure to have your gown cleaned after the festivities. Stains that may not be visible now may yellow later.

Gowns are best stored in a cool, dry place. When stored on a hanger, sew straps to the waistline to relieve pressure on the shoulders. Wrap the gown in a sheet or muslin, stuffing the sleeves and bodice with white tissue to prevent wrinkling. Take equal care with the headpiece and veil.

Cultural Cakes and Cuisine

dumplings-328924_640Chinese foods served at weddings are chosen for their phonetic plays on words. For example, the Chinese word for apple is similar to the expression go safely, Fat choy sounds like the expression be prosperous, and Liem sun denotes the hope for many sons. This particular menu consists of apples, seaweed and lotus-seed tea.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

A Jamaican wedding feast includes curried goat, meat patties, salted codfish cakes, red snapper in Caribbean creole sauce, and a salad of avocado and/or watercress. The traditional wedding cake is a dark fruitcake laced with rum. Slices of the cake are put into boxes and mailed to all friends and relatives who are unable to attend the wedding reception.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh? (Have you eaten noodles yet?)

In the Jewish tradition, a wedding meal is to be prepared Kosher style, which within the laws of the Torah, means no mixing of meat and dairy.

Bermudian traditions include the bride and groom walking under a moon gate after the ceremony for good luck, and the bride and groom have separate wedding cakes. The brides wedding cake is a tiered fruitcake covered with silver leaf and has a small cedar sapling on top that is replanted after the ceremony to symbolize the growth of the couples love. Gold leaf tops the grooms cake and represents prosperity.

In Norway, Brudlaupskling, a wedding cake made of bread, dates back to the days when white flour was rare on Norwegian farms, and foods containing it were greatly admired. The bread is topped with a mixture of cheese, cream, and syrup, then folded over and cut into small squares.

Long ago in France, it was the custom for villagers to throw buns into a pile in preparation for the wedding feast. A clever baker decided to take some bun-like pastries stuffed with cream and fastened them as a pyramid, like the mound of buns, creating a tall cone of caramel-coated cream puffs called croque-en-bouche (crisp in the mouth). The cone may be topped with caged doves, which are released to symbolize the newlyweds departure from their families.

In medieval England, guests brought small cakes and piled them in the center of a table, challenging the bride and groom to kiss over them.

The grooms cake is a European tradition that is regaining popularity. Traditionally, the grooms cake is a dark, rich fruitcake, but is more modernly chocolate or spice. It is more creatively shaped than the typical tiered brides cake, often decorated to represent the grooms favorite hobby, sport or fraternity affiliation. It may be served at the rehearsal dinner or at the reception after the wedding cake has officially been cut.

In the Ukraine, couples share korovai rather than a cake. Korovai is a sacred wedding bread decorated with symbolic motifs that represent eternity and the joining together of two families.

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