Tag Archives: weddings

Expert tips for a 5 star wedding experience

| ara@queenscourier.com


The average couple shells out nearly $27,000 just to say their “I do’s,” according to a recent survey. That doesn’t include the cost of the honeymoon, either. If you’re spending that kind of money, shouldn’t your unforgettable wedding be a five-star event?

“It’s possible to plan a wedding with five-star touches at nearly any budget level,” says Jenna Check, wedding specialist at The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis., one of just 36 hotels and resorts worldwide to earn both the Forbes Five-Star Award and the AAA Five-Diamond designation.

Consider these wedding ideas from the wedding planning pros at The American Club Resort:

Tip No. 1: Give your guests ample time to “ogle” – the cake, that is.

“Often, the cake arrives in the reception room just in time for the bride and groom to partake in the cake-cutting ceremony,” says head pastry Chef Richard Palm. “And then it’s quickly whisked away to be cut, plated and sauced in order to create a seamless dining experience when served as the dessert.”

For a more memorable experience, give your guests extra time to view, photograph and comment on the cake by using additional cake – not immediately needed for food service – in the reception room.

“Having the time to ‘ogle’ the cake will make it that much more memorable,” Palm says.

Not sure what to do with the leftover cake? Freeze the top layer to be thawed and eaten on your first anniversary, or serve the extra cake the following day at a gift-opening party.

Tip No. 2: It’s better to look good and to feel good. Wedding planning can be stressful, and stress can take a toll on your appearance as well as your health. “It’s important for brides-to-be to take steps to minimize stress and its effects before their big day,” says Jean Kolb, the resort’s director of wellness and Kohler Waters Spa.

Establish a wellness routine well in advance of your wedding day and include daily meditation and exercise in your ritual, she advises. Your routine could be as simple as a yoga class, five minutes of at-home meditation and a brisk walk every day.

As your wedding day approaches, arrange a massage and spa time for yourself and your attendants.

“A massage for the bride is not just a luxury,” Kolb says. “It’s a tried-and-true way of calming nerves prior to your special day.”

Tip No. 3: Guys – and grooms – need a break, too. Brides aren’t the only ones who can feel stressed before the wedding day. Bridegrooms and groomsmen can also benefi t from some relaxation. If you’re doing a destination wedding, take advantage of recreational opportunities like golf to help bond and decompress.

Tip No. 4: Personalize everything, including your drinks.

Personalization is a popular trend in weddings, and it touches every aspect of your day, from the colors you choose for your bouquet and bridesmaid gowns, to the hors d’oeuvres and entrees served at the reception. Don’t forget to personalize your drink selection, too.

Tip No. 5: Variety is the spice of life – and it makes for great pictures, too.

Photos of your wedding will be the tangible memory of your big day, so it’s important to keep in mind how they’ll look when you’re choosing your wedding venue, says Christine Loose, resident manager for the American Club and Inn on Woodlake. Look for venues that offer a variety of picture settings, from a beautifully landscaped garden setting to an elegant courtyard to a paved lane for carriage rides.

To learn more about the American Club Resort, visit www.AmericanClub.com.

How the royal wedding influenced the latest bridal trends

| ara@queenscourier.com

Although the latest Brides American Wedding Study shows the average cost of a wedding in 2010 was $26,501, a decrease of 5 percent from 2009, weddings continue to be big business. But many couples are opting to cut the guest list instead of big ticket items like wedding gowns.

In fact, the average wedding gown cost $1,289 in 2010, a 20 percent increase over 2009, according to the study. This is no surprise to the millions who were glued to their television sets this past April during the most talked about wedding since the 1981 royal wedding of Lady Diana to Prince Charles. Many brides are now emulating the elegant lace gown worn by Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge.

In addition to beautiful lace, the newest trends in wedding gowns include color, soft sleeves, short hemlines and eco-friendly materials.

Whether it is Chantilly, Alencon, duchesse, guipure, or ribbon, lace has become one of the hottest trends this year. “Designers at all price points have debuted collections featuring full frothy skirts, wildflowers and lace used in both traditional and modern ways,” says Kate Campbell, department chair of Fashion & Retail Management at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “This particular trend parallels the more feminine, elegant trends we see in fashion everywhere – including more fitted and ladylike styles reminiscent of Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.”

While not for everyone, the use of color in wedding gowns has been growing in popularity. Rich and vibrant, or more subdued, color in bridal wear is everywhere. Some brides choose soft pastel colors, such as blush, rose or skin-tone. Others opt to wear vibrant hues of lavender, green and deep pink. Less bold brides are more likely to use hints of accent color on sashes, bows, embroidery, hems, necklines or beading. “The bride who chooses to add color to her dress is fashion forward and confident – it’s not for the faint of heart,” says Amber Chatelain, lead faculty for the Fashion & Retail Management program at The Art Institute of Tennessee – Nashville, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.

Another interesting new trend in bridal wear is short gowns, especially for brides choosing destination and beach weddings. While they may be short in length, these dresses are not short on style. Some offer sophisticated laces, chic feathers or multilayered organza mini-skirts.

Soft sleeves are enjoying a comeback. Designers have debuted soft, romantic sleeves, including traditional cap sleeves in florals and tulle, modern silhouettes using vintage elements, sequin fringe and flutter sleeves, and romantic off-the-shoulder versions. “The softness and elegance of the sleeves in bridal wear mirrors today’s general fashion trends, where designers are highlighting the elegance and beauty of the female form in very soft ways,” says Charlene Parsons, who heads the fashion programs at Miami International University of Art & Design.

Eco-friendly options have also increased in popularity. “There are now numerous eco-friendly designers whose sole business is to create wedding dresses made with earth-friendly fabrics and materials, using techniques that are in harmony with the earth,” says Crystal Shamblee, department chair of Fashion Design for The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Secondhand and vintage wedding dresses are another eco-friendly choice.

Whatever fashion trends a bride chooses, one that will never go out of style is a gown that fits well, is figure flattering and makes the bride feel like she’s the most beautiful woman in the world on her big day.

To learn more about The Art Institutes visit www.artinstitutes.edu.

Safeguard the big day: How to protect the wedding of your dreams

| ara@queenscourier.com

Planning a wedding has many important components, with decisions to make on everything from finding the perfect flowers to choosing the right location. For brides- and grooms-to-be, one important choice that shouldn’t be overlooked is the idea of purchasing wedding insurance. Because no matter how carefully a couple plans the big day, something can always go awry.

It’s the last thing anyone wants to think about when planning the big day. But with so many elements of a wedding that have been carefully thought out, it would be a shame to have something happen that casts a shadow on the wedding day. The good news is that there is peace of mind available with wedding event cancellation and liability insurance.

Protecting you from unforeseen disasters, wedding insurance safeguards your investment in the big day against circumstances beyond your control. Wedding cancellation and liability insurance can cover anything from a damaged gown to natural disasters. A recent report from TheKnot.com showed that the average wedding costs more than $25,000 – as much as a new car or a down payment on a home. Having that investment at risk, with potential for it to increase if something goes wrong (losing or having wedding gifts stolen, misplacing a wedding ring, or damaging an important dress), may not be the best way to start off married life.

Until recently, there wasn’t an option to insure your wedding expenditures – if something went wrong it was rare that reimbursement was an option. While event insurance isn’t new, wedding-specific policies have been created in the past decade, partially as a response to the increase in wedding spending. Covering multiple aspects of the big day, wedding insurance policies were created to specifically cover losses (cancellation insurance) as well as coverage for accidents that happen during the wedding or reception (liability insurance).

While wedding insurance won’t cover things like cold feet or rain on your outdoor ceremony, it will cover multiple important aspects of the wedding. If the ring bearer drops the wedding rings in the sink, that’s covered by event cancellation insurance. Perhaps the caterer went out of business a month before the ceremony. The additional expense of booking a replacement caterer and getting the original deposit back would be covered by the insurance policy.

Additionally, most wedding venues now require couples to have insurance coverage, and event liability insurance meets that requirement. If something goes wrong at the wedding or reception venue, event liability insurance means that brides and grooms will be defended against assuming responsibility for damage dealt. This safeguards against the well-meaning maid of honor who accidentally hung the bride’s dress from an unstable light fixture and pulled it from the wall, or the best man whose exuberant toast led to an unfortunate smashing of many expensive pieces of glassware.

“My wife and I knew anything could happen during a wedding, so purchasing insurance was a no-brainer for us,” said Brandon Bernos. “And that ‘anything’ did – the day of our engagement photo shoot, we were unable to contact our photographer. We found out that he had been in a car accident weeks prior and didn’t survive. When we contacted our insurance company, they immediately refunded our security deposit and we were able to find another photographer. Now, we tell anyone who is planning their wedding to get wedding insurance.”

For couples involved in wedding planning, purchasing wedding insurance can be an important factor in making sure that the big day goes smoothly. And just like picking the cake, caterer or photographer, there are plenty of options to create a custom insurance policy that’s just right for the happy couple-to-be.


Wedding ready: How to look and feel your best for the big day

| ara@queenscourier.com

As a bride-to-be, you invest huge amounts of time, energy and money to make your big day unforgettable. Unfortunately, all of the stress associated with planning a wedding can take its toll, and you may neglect your own well-being in the chaos. Inadequate sleep, poor diet and high levels of stress can leave you feeling and looking less than fabulous, but with a few healthy and sustainable adjustments, you can look forward to your walk down the aisle.

Gorgeous greens

Pressure to look perfect in your wedding photos may lead you to fad diets that can leave you starving and irritable, not to mention pallid and worn down. Instead of restrictive dieting, celebrity nutritionist and author Kimberly Snyder says eating the right foods will result in weight loss, as well as improve the look of skin, hair and nails. In “The Beauty Detox Solution,” Snyder encourages a plant-based diet that draws beautifying nutrients from completely natural sources. Green smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables on the go, Snyder says, and she encourages all her clients to drink them.

“Green smoothies are absolutely one of the easiest ways to get the nutrition your body needs to be healthy and beautiful,” Snyder says. “For my Glowing Green Smoothie, just toss the whole food ingredients into a blender and in seconds you have a nutrient-packed drink that will keep you energized and glowing. Busy brides-to-be will appreciate how quick and easy these are to make, and they’ll love how green smoothies make them look and feel.”

Sleeping beauty

From venue visits to cake tastings to bridal showers, it might seem like there isn’t enough time to get all your wedding planning done. However, skimping on sleep can have serious physical and mental consequences. Getting enough rest so that you can get through your seemingly never-ending list can be difficult, but it’s vital to help you look and feel your best. For better, more restful sleep, try to stick to a bedtime routine at the same time every night. Try not to eat or drink within an hour of going to sleep, and avoid electronic screens for 30 minutes before bed. You might enjoy a light activity – such as reading a book – directly before going to sleep to help clear your mind. Lastly, ensure that you continue to make sleep a priority, even as the special day nears.

Post-workout glow

A wedding is a great motivator when it comes to working out, and perhaps you have already joined a gym or invested in a personal trainer to get in shape for the occasion. Even if you aren’t worried about losing weight, exercise can do great things for busy brides-to-be.

Snyder, an experienced yogi who has practiced around the world, encourages her clients and readers to explore yoga for better mental and physical health.

“Exercise releases stress-fighting hormones, and yoga in particular can be a rejuvenating escape from the day’s hectic happenings, no matter how new you are to the practice,” Snyder says. “By combining strength-building poses and attention to inner self, you can both tone your muscles and achieve mental bliss. Yoga is a great way to get fit and stay focused so you can walk down the aisle looking serene and stunning.”

Radiantly relaxed Unbridled mental stress can quickly lead to physical consequences, and you don’t want to look haggard or tired on your special day. Physical activity, whether it’s a long run, exercise class, or short jog around the block, releases hormones that will boost your mood for hours. And don’t underestimate the power of the senses: lighting stress-relief aromatherapy candles, soaking in a warm bath, and even treating yourself to a massage can help you relax as the wedding day approaches.

As you plan every detail of your wedding, remember to spend time on your own health and happiness. By paying attention to your physical and mental well-being throughout the planning process, you’re sure to be ready and radiant for your big day.


Fun, formal and beyond: What the groom wears

| ara@queenscourier.com

When you think of a wedding, you probably think of the bride’s dress, the flower arrangements, the food and the music. But what about the groom? More specifically, what about the groom’s attire? It’s his special day, too. So it’s time to devote some attention to him.

Think back to all the weddings of decades past. What was the groom wearing as he watched his bride walk down the aisle? Most weddings were formal occasions and the tuxedo ruled the day.

But times have changed. One of the reasons for this shift could be the economy, says Jane Carlton Hall, Fashion Design instructor at The Art Institute of Houston.

“When it’s time to find a place to cut costs when planning your wedding in this economy, a formal tux is one place couples start,” she said.

Hall points out that even if the groom springs for a new suit, it’ll be something he can wear again and again.

But other factors also come into play.

“Now people are much more creative, with destination weddings and dude ranch weddings, which are popular here in Arizona, and the attire matches the location,” said Elizabeth Heuisler, academic director for Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing at The Art Institute of Tucson. She advises that grooms still lay out some cash for a new pair of jeans if they wind up saying their “I dos” at a dude ranch.

And even if you are taking a more traditional route and planning a formal evening wedding, you don’t necessarily need a tux.

But, when all is said and done, the special day is still about the bride.


Financial bliss after ‘I do’

| ara@queenscourier.com

Wedding season is here. It’s estimated that more than two million couples will be married in the United States this year. As couples young and old unite their hearts and lives, they will also face the challenging task of uniting their finances.

The truth of the matter is, financial bliss is only partially connected to the size of one’s bank account. Especially for newlyweds, financial satisfaction and contentment is often found in the uniting of partners’ financial values and goals.

These values, or life priorities if you prefer, can range from security, to service, to status. Alternatively, they might encompass areas such as independence, financial wealth, meaningful work, faith, family or excellence, among others.

Once newlyweds have identified their top values – and have seen the values identified by their mate – they can use this knowledge to create shared goals.

What if he values money and she values friendship? Is conflict sure to follow?

There is “give and take” in every relationship, including a couple’s financial priorities. Once each partner understands the values of his or her mate, it becomes easier to set shared short- and long-term goals. At a minimum, it helps couples understand what drives the other’s thinking.

10 basic steps that newlyweds can take to launch their new financial lives:

1. Identify your core values.

2. Establish your shared needs and short- and long-term goals.

3. Create a budget.

4. Reduce and eliminate consumer debt or other loans.

5. Start or increase an emergency fund.

6. Insure your health, property, income and life through appropriate insurance.

7. Save for your retirement.

8. Educate yourself about financial issues.

9. Meet with a financial professional to help you stay on task.

10. Talk regularly about your financial goals and performance.

Following the steps above will not address the “who, what and how” related to paying bills or balancing checkbooks. Frankly, there is no one right formula for determining who does what. Newlyweds will need to invest time, conversation and experimentation into finding the right fit for their unique circumstances and personalities.

Establishing a regular “money date,” where you set aside uninterrupted time to discuss your finances and measure them against your goals can be a fun way of addressing something otherwise considered “work.” This date need not be costly or even away from home, but it must be a time without distractions from television, phone calls or friends. This is truly “your time” to study and learn about your finances as a couple.

After “I do,” the work of establishing your new life together begins. By giving regular attention to your values and financial goals, you can enhance the likelihood of living “happily ever after” from a financial viewpoint.


Top wedding trends for brides on a budget

| ara@queenscourier.com

For brides-to-be, the big day seems like it comes with a big price tag – but it doesn’t have to. The season’s top wedding trends pair elegance and affordability with options to make an event that is uniquely “you.”

To stay within your budget, follow these wedding trends.

* Outdoor weddings offer romance at a reasonable price

Perhaps no other setting is more romantic than the outdoors. Mother Nature provides the best backdrop for your special occasion. Outdoor weddings can be more affordable as parks or gardens typically offer rental areas at a reasonable rate. Know a relative with a beautiful yard? Ask them if you can host your wedding there. Then all you have to do is rent the supplies, such as chairs, tents and archways from your local rental store.

* Create a fun eating environment for less

The reception is often the largest cost of hosting a wedding. Budget-wise brides are choosing locations where you can provide your own food and drinks. Food stations, rather than a typical buffet, can be set up around the reception room offering different types of food, such as salad bar, pasta and desserts. You can rent everything you need to keep food fresh and serve it in style so you don’t have to worry.

* Add personal accessories for a lasting look

The gown is an important part of being a beaming bride, but it can be a large expense. Get a beautiful look with plenty of personality, without breaking the bank. Start with a simple gown and accessorize it to suit your tastes. Add a splash of color with a bright sash or flashy shoes. Hair accessories provide a fashionable option at little cost. Shorter veils are very popular and cost much less than longer options.

* Create homemade floral arrangements

Once you add up the bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres and more, your floral expense can be shocking. Brides are choosing to take a personal approach by gathering friends and family to create the flower pieces. Get together and create the masterpieces for the big day while enjoying food, drink and each other’s company. It’s a great way to bond and save money, while creating something beautiful and meaningful.

* Forgo the expensive wedding planner

Brides are choosing to rent versus buy supplies for food service, decor, entertainment and more to save money. Renting has never been more stylish, with a variety of options to make any bride’s vision come true. Some rental businesses have Certified Event Rental Professionals (CERPs) on site. These professionals can share their knowledge and experience, from pre-wedding set-up all the way through the day of the event, helping to relieve the stress of planning a wedding. Look for the gold CERP icon when searching for your wedding needs.


Cost-control tips for bridesmaids-to-be

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Standing up for your friend as her maid of honor or bridesmaid is a special experience you’ll both remember all your lives. Yet your happiness for your friend, and your joy at participating in her wedding, can be tempered by concerns about the costs associated with being a member of the wedding party.

Just like the bride and groom, attendants often need to use credit to fund their wedding experience, including the cost of a dress, gift for the happy couple, the bachelorette party and perhaps traveling to the wedding location. Still, if you rely too much on credit, you could end up with debt – which is a lot worse than a dress you’ll never wear again.

Careful planning and an honest discussion with the bride and groom about cost control can help ensure no one overspends on the big day.

Before you agree:

The first question you should ask yourself is: “Can I afford to be in this wedding?”

If the person asking for your participation is your best friend in the world, and saying “no” will harm your relationship, you’ll have to find a way to fund your bridesmaid duties without breaking the bank. But if the invitation comes from a friend you’re not particularly close to, it may be appropriate to decline, especially if the associated costs will be a financial hardship.

When the answer has to be “yes,” your next move should be to assess your finances. How much cash can you reasonably set aside between now and the time the bills start to arrive? How much of your participation will need to be funded through credit?

If you know credit will be a big part of your wedding party budget, monitoring your credit for a few months may help you manage your finances. Membership in a product like CreditReport.com offers members valuable tools to help them monitor their credit for a monthly fee.

When it’s time to say “yes”:

Once you have an idea of how you can budget, it’s time to have a candid discussion with the bride and groom. Let them know what you’re comfortable with, and what will be beyond your budget. Determine what their expectations are for the costs you’ll bear, and what they’ll pay for.

If you find that your financial abilities and their expectations are too far apart, give them the opportunity to reconsider their invitation for you to be in the wedding.

Ironing out money matters at the beginning of the wedding planning process will help ensure you don’t have to distract the bride and groom with the discussion as their big day approaches – and their stress levels go up.

When you’re committed:

Once you’ve said yes and agreed on expenses, it’s time to put your plan into action. Begin setting aside money right away, even if the wedding is a year away. The longer you have to save cash, the less you’ll need to rely on credit as the wedding approaches.

Look for ways that you can cut expenses without impacting the wedding itself. For example, if the bridesmaid’s dress must come from a pricey boutique, perhaps you can find matching shoes for less at a different retail store. If you’ll be traveling to the wedding in another state – or even another country – shop for the best airline deal, and explore the possibility of using reward miles or hotel points to help defray your travel costs.

Compromise with the bride: If she agrees to let you wear your favorite little black dress, rather than drop a few hundred on something new that you’ll never wear again, make it up to her by helping out in some other way. Perhaps you’re a skilled crafter who can make one-of-a-kind favors for the reception. Maybe your graphic design skills could help her save money on custom-designed invitations. Or perhaps you can use your flower-arranging skills to help her save money on centerpieces, boutonnieres and bouquets.

With some advanced planning and loving honesty, you can help ensure your friend’s big day is as perfect as possible-and that the only thing you’re left with afterward are happy memories.