10 Rules For Any Bride Planning a Wedding

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1.  Don't have unrealistic weight expectations.

Pick a dress you look gorgeous in at your regular weight. Sure, you're likely to shed a couple of pounds in the weeks before the wedding due to a packed schedule and jitters, but consider that as a bonus. Don't strive to lose any more than that at the last minute. Crash dieting will make you exhausted and mean, and no number on the scale will compensate if you're too weak to handle the demands and savor the excitement of your wedding celebrations.

2. You can live without exotic wedding flowers.

There's a big world of amazing, over-the-top wedding options -- from caviar tastings to three-color origami letterpress invitations -- and many of them are jaw-droppingly expensive. If you find that you're being attracted to things that will have your budget bursting at the seams, it's time for a reality check. Ask yourself: What will those fragile flowers (or whatever your expensive obsession is)truly add to my wedding? If the answer is just "impressed glances from five in-the-know female guests," then you're better off spending that dough on something more people will appreciate -- a killer band maybe? -- or, better yet, splurging more on your honeymoon.

3. Your bridesmaids do not have to look like clones.

Every good friend knows that along with the honor of being a bridesmaid comes the obligation to wear a dress in a color and style that's not of her choosing. So your girls accept that, but it doesn't mean they'll submit happily if you force them to wear identical shoes, jewelry, wraps, and hairstyles. In order to have a great time at your wedding, your bridesmaids need to feel attractive too -- something that's impossible if you've micromanaged their looks down to the lipstick hue. (Plus, buying a bunch of matching accessories they may never wear again gets expensive.) And your bridesmaids will look even better if you give them leeway to let their individual styles shine through the blush-colored chiffon gowns you've dressed them in. So let them choose their hair and makeup styles; give them more than one option with accessories like shoes, jewelry, and cover-ups.

4.  You don't have to invite your second cousin's fling.

When you're putting your list together, a spirit of irrationally warm hospitality might take over, making you inclined to invite all of your single guests' guys/girls-of-the-moment. We know you're thinking: "What if they get married one day? I'll feel terrible if my cousin by marriage wasn't at our wedding." But remember, aside from the (big) expense of inviting every single person with a date, you don't want to celebrate the most important event of your life thus far with a bunch of people you'll likely never see again. Trust us, if you invite cousin Bill's arm candy, she'll somehow wind up front and center in half of the photographs, but he'll dump her before you return from your honeymoon, and you won't remember her name in a year. So make a rule about plus ones (maybe it's "only couples who've been dating for more than a year" or "only members of the wedding party get to invite random dates") and stick to it.

5.  Don't obsess over your wedding registry.

Once you delve into the world of fine stemware, charger plates, and exotic kitchen gadgets, it's only natural that you'll want to get even more immersed in it -- and start second- and third-guessing every registry decision. And online options make it all too easy to review and revise what you've asked for at every whim. So give yourself a deadline after which you're not allowed to tinker with your registry -- say, six months before the wedding -- so you can stop fixating on "bone china vs. Limoges?" and start obsessing over seating charts instead!

6.  Loosen up about the wedding rehearsal dinner.

As a bride, it's pretty much your inalienable right to micromanage every aspect of the wedding if you choose to. The rehearsal dinner, not so much. If you're lucky enough to have the night-before celebration thrown for you by the groom's family or somebody similar, everything will go most smoothly if you offer your input only when asked and on a few issues that are super-important to you. If your future mother-in-law sends out invitations you find unbearably tacky or fills the centerpieces with your least favorite flower, keep in mind that everybody in attendance will understand that the rehearsal isn't reflective of your style.

7.  Write thank-you notes as the wedding gifts come in.

Yes, you're busy, but you can always carve out 10 minutes from your schedule to write a thank-you note. So place your stationery box and a big sheet of stamps in the center of your desk and sit down to express your gratitude within 48 hours of a gift coming in. If you wait, your note-writing list will quickly grow to a frightening length, and it'll become that much more intimidating to tackle it. And if you let too much time pass before writing your notes, the gift-giver might wonder if you received the present.

8.  Don't stress out about his bachelor party.

Do not, we repeat, do not sit at home watching the clock and wondering what he's doing. Make plans of your own, get out of the house, and go have a good time! He wouldn't be marrying you if he didn't vastly prefer being by your side instead of being surrounded by 10 intoxicated buddies and expensive entertainment named Bambi. 'Nuff said.

9.  Don't let downers dampen my enthusiasm.

As you've no doubt already noticed, there are people out there who seem determined to make you feel bad about your wedding planning excitement. Maybe they're single and jealous, or not-so-happily married and bitter, or just the types who can't bear to witness other people's joy without trying to chip away at it. It can be hard to ID these people because their negativity is often backhanded and disguised as advice ("Don't stress about the details so much -- it's just a party that will be over in five hours!"), or because they might ask you lots of questions about your wedding day details only to teasingly call you "Bridezilla" when you answer. But once you've noticed that discussing your plans with certain people leaves you feeling defensive or deflated, cross them off your list of conversation partners. You have plenty of others in your life who are genuinely excited for you and eager to hear about (almost) every aspect of the planning process.

10.  Make your photo album within one year of the wedding.

When you come back from your honeymoon, putting together your wedding album may seem like a daunting task. There will be so many beautiful and funny photos to choose from, and after months of daily wedding-related decisions, you may decide to take a break and do the album later. Not to mention the fact that a nice album doesn't come cheap, so it'll be tempting to wait until your funds have been replenished before shelling out for it. But as many of your married friends who had similar plans will tell you, the years slip by quickly, and it's all too easy to wind up with nothing but a proof book and some Snapfish albums on your fifth anniversary. So bite the bullet and order your album while the memories are fresh and you still have a little wedding planning momentum driving you forward.


Top 10 Hidden Wedding Expenses That Will Put You Over Budget

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1. Wedding Band Equipment

Why it's hidden: Wedding band cost already typically includes fees for the musicians' time and the minimum amount of equipment needed. If your reception space is extra-large, additional speakers and microphones could be required to project the best sound quality.

The cost: Anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

How to avoid it: Before booking your wedding band or DJ, you need to clearly explain the layout of the space (or have them check it out, if they can) so the pros know exactly what they're working with. If they want to add in extra equipment, have them explain why it's necessary before signing a contract or agreeing to pay for anything else.

2. Postage Stamps

Why it's hidden: Stationers don't advertise shipping costs; if they did, you might decide to go with simpler (read: cheaper) invites.

The cost: Oversize, awkwardly shaped and bulky invitations will most often run you as much as $2 each to mail.

How to avoid it: Skip the fancy boxed invitations and multilayer cards, which can bulk up quickly and cost a lot more than you bargained for.

3. Wedding Dress Alterations and Steaming

Why it's hidden: Most stores don't include alterations (or steaming) in the price of the wedding dress, and they're not doing it for free – it can take up to three hours just to alter the bustier!

The cost: A simple hem can be less than $100, but completely rebuilding a bodice can send the price upward of $500.

How to avoid it: Ask about what the store charges for every alteration you may need before purchasing the gown.

4. Overtime Costs

Why it's hidden: Your band, DJ, wedding photographer and videographer are booked for just a certain amount of time, so if your wedding runs a little longer than you expected, they'll charge per hour.

The cost: Starting at $250 per hour.

How to avoid it: Factor in additional time for getting dressed and taking photos; that way, you can book your pros for a more realistic time frame. Get overtime costs in writing (they shouldn't be more than 50 percent more per hour than the regular rate), so you'll know what to expect if you decide to keep the party going.

5. Welcome Bag Delivery

Why it's hidden: Most hotels don't factor in a welcome bag delivery fee when you block rooms. And they may fail to mention the rate unless you ask – they'll just add it to your final bill. Inquire within; they may even charge you a fee for holding the welcome bags if you drop them off before the guests arrive.

The cost: Up to $7 per bag.

How to avoid it: During the booking process, ask about the hotel's policy on receiving and delivering welcome bags to guests' rooms. It may be free or cheaper if they hand the bags out at the counter as guests check in. If you don't want the extra charge, you can distribute them at the rehearsal dinner.

6. Rental Transport

Why it's hidden: You'd assume the rental companies would include these extra fees in the per-item costs (do they honestly think you're going to fit 150 chiavari chars in your car?), but surprisingly they don't.

The cost: From $50 up to more than $500.

How to avoid it: Ask the rental company what their shipping and packaging fees are up front – if the cost is too high for your budget, shop around a bit. You just might find that you'll actually save some money by renting items from a more expensive company that includes delivery costs at no extra charge.

7. Taxes and Gratuities

Why it's hidden: Even though these aren't exactly hidden – we all know there are taxes on almost everything – most couples don't think about how much they'll end up owing during the planning process.

The cost: This will depend on the total amount of money you're spending as well as the location of the event (taxes vary by state).

How to avoid it: There's no getting around paying taxes, but paying the entire bill in one lump sum can help lower the overall price. A safe bet: Tack on an extra third of your total costs to your budget for tips and taxes.

8. Cake-Cutting and Corkage Fees

Why it's hidden: If you use the cake or liquor provided by your reception site, the charge is typically wrapped into the cost. Going with an outside baker or your own wine can raise the price. Why? Because your venue's workers are responsible for slicing and serving each piece, then cleaning the dishes -- and this means more work for their staff.

The cost: From $2 to $5 per guest for the cake; from $1.50 to $3 for every bottle the staff opens.

How to avoid it: Be up front. Ask about cake-cutting and corkage fees before you decide to go with an outside source for either.

9. Cleanup and Breakdown Costs

Why it's hidden: Many couples spend so much time planning the actual day that they forget to budget for what happens when it's all over.

The cost: While a full-service venue won't charge for these things, if you're paying a flat fee to rent only the space, anticipate additional charges for garbage removal (up to $250) and cleaning (up to $500). And even most full-service venues require same-day setup and cleanup. So if you're getting married on a weekend, expect to pay time and a half for labor, and if your party goes into the wee hours of the morning, you may face extra charges for late-night pickup and cleanup.

How to avoid it: Read your contract carefully – the setup and breakdown costs should be included in the labor charge.

10.Non-Approved Professionals

Why it's hidden: Some venues require you to use caterers or florists from their preferred pros list – and tack on a fee if you don't.

The cost: Usually an extra 20 percent or more.

How to avoid it: Stick to the list, or choose a venue without one.

8 Tips I Wish I'd Been Told When Planning My Wedding

I’ve been a bride.  Done that.  Bought a t-shirt.  There were a ton of surprises on my big day.  But honestly, I felt like there were a few pieces of advice that I would have liked to have prior.  Everyone’s wedding will have their own little quirks and each experience will be unique, but in my opinion… Every bride should take the following tips to heart when planning their big day.  So here goes, in no real order of importance…

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8 Wedding Planning Tips for the Busy Memphis Bride

Memphis Wedding Photographers 1. Prioritize First, it's simple.  You have to reduce the number of things to plan. Prioritize what the most important aspects of your wedding are for you and your spouse.

  • Do the invitations need to reflect the latest innovations in origami?
  • Are programs really necessary?

Weddings are pretty commonplace, after all — most people know what’s going to happen. Not only will this save you time, but it will save you money, too.

2. Register Online Online registries are all the rage these days, reflecting the needs and lifestyles of modern couples. Avoid spending your precious weekend in the aisles of Bed Bath & Beyond and create a wedding gift registry at CardAvenue.com. The site allows you to select gift cards from hundreds of favorite retailers, restaurants and even airlines. It’s as easy as creating a registry, selecting the cards, and sharing the link with friends. Done and done!

3. Delegate People close to you enjoy being part of your big day, so let them! I relied heavily on my mom during planning and she was thrilled to be involved. Similarly, a good friend of mine asked me to set up her reception space while she prepared herself for the aisle. Granted, her meticulous instructions took time to create, but ultimately it allowed her to focus on what’s most important – getting ready for the ceremony.

4. Get Pinning The days of shopping for wedding magazines and scouring wedding websites are over, thanks to Pinterest. Ideas ranging from the highly traditional to the totally off-the-wall are all available in one easy-to-use website. Better yet, there are several DIY ideas that help you stay within budget and make your day truly unique. No time for DIY? Refer to tip 3 – that’s what bridesmaids are for!

5. Go All-Inclusive Depending on your budget, couples might find it easier to select a venue that offers access to music, catering, rooms to get ready in, and all the other details that make wedding planning chaotic. The all-inclusive convenience will likely jack up the price of the venue, but if you can afford it you’ll save a lot of time.

6. Keep it Simple Avoid pouring over dress styles and let your girls select their own dresses in your preferred color palette. Ditch the formal dinner in favor of a buffet to bypass seating arrangements and dish preferences. And finally, make the reception as carefree as possible — the big moment is over and it’s time to relax and enjoy time with your guests.

7. Think Small It’s a fact of life — it’s much easier to organize a small group of people than it is a large one. Keeping the guest list small has multiple benefits, not the least of which is saving you money. After the wedding, send a marriage announcement to everyone in your extended network, thanking them for their well wishes.

8. Stay Local From food to flowers, keeping your vendor selections local will reduce the headache associated with coordinating out-of-town services. It’s much easier to have a friend swing by a shop to pick something up than it is to order a last-minute necessity and hope it gets where it needs to be on time. TheKnot.com’s Local Vendors page offers easy access to nearby vendors of all kinds.


Tips for getting ready on your wedding day!

Over the past year I've noticed an increasing trend of 'getting ready time' taking much longer on your wedding day than planned.  Sure, on such an important day, a bride and her girls have to look their absolute best.  After all, these pictures will last FOREVER. So much is happening the day of a wedding (helpful tip:  Hire a wedding day coordinator). With each wedding, I've taken notes.  So what are the 5 most important tips to ensure you stay on time the day of your wedding?

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