Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to Hire the Right Wedding Florist to Suit Your Floral Style

Hold the baby’s breath and filler flowers; look no further than a skilled florist for sophisticated and stylish arrangements

Even if you plan to create and arrange your own wedding flowers, consulting with a florist first is still a good idea. A florist’s first-hand knowledge and years of experience can prove extremely useful, ensuring you don’t overlook small but important details and that your floral scheme matches your wedding style.

Don’t know the first thing about hiring a florist? Follow these steps in this article on finding and hiring a wedding florist, and you will be sure to find the florist that suits you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Music for your Wedding's Cocktail Hour

While you and your wedding party take pictures, and your guests mingle and nibble before the wedding reception, the mood is festive and anticipatory. During cocktail hour, the party is just warming up, and your music should reflect the excitement without overpowering the conversation. Jazz or swing works perfectly here. You can also use this time to showcase the theme of your wedding. For a Mardi Gras or southern theme, spice up your cocktail hour with a little Dixieland jazz. For a beach or summer theme, steel drums will compliment nicely. As a prelude to a formal dinner reception, classical piano music will establish an atmosphere of elegance.

Get even more tips and advice on planning your wedding music at Elegala.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to Find the Right Caterer for Your Wedding Reception

If your reception site is the exclusive caterer, which is often the case with hotels and country clubs, feel free to skip this article and cross this item from your checklist. If not, don’t panic - find a wedding caterer that suits your needs, style and budget by following these steps to hiring and working with wedding caterers.

Do your Research

Plan ahead, and aim to start meeting with caterers as soon as you decide on your reception location, about 12 months before the big day. Imagine your ideal reception in terms of the meal, service, courses, theme, desserts, alcohol and any other food requirements. Then compile a list of potential caterers who meet this vision.

Ask your reception site for a list of recommendations; they can put you in touch with trusted professionals who have first-hand knowledge of the facility. All of the reception sites on Elegala have a list of preferred professionals! Or visit our local caterers search for a comprehensive list of recommended caterers in your area. Contact friends or colleagues who have been recently married or even other wedding vendors for recommendations.

Meet & Greet

Once you have a list of a few recommended caterers, set up face-to-face interviews to determine the right choice for you. Try to schedule a tasting as part of the interview. Your final decision should be based on taste, presentation and creativity, cost and the willingness of the caterer to suit your needs. Remember, the caterer should accommodate your vision, so choose someone who is open to your ideas.

Ask the Right Questions

During your consultation, ask the caterer to compose an outline highlighting the cost per person, menu selections, service options and any additional fees that could be incurred. Come prepared with a list of questions you need answered, including:

  • How long have you been in the business?
  • Do you specialize in a particular type of food and service?
  • Are you familiar with the reception site?
  • What is your average price range? Is it an all-inclusive flat rate or is the cost determined by the type of food and service?
  • Do you provide rental equipment, such as linens and dinnerware? Ask to see samples.
  • What is the ratio of wait-staff to guests? (1 server for every 8-10 guests is recommended)
  • Where will the food be prepared? Will it be fresh or frozen ingredients?
  • Do you also provide wedding cakes and/or alcohol? How will you be charged?
  • Are you available on the day of my wedding? Do you have any other events scheduled for the same day or time? (If so, having a similar menu will help to cut down on cost).
  • Could I get a list of references of your previous clients?

Sign on the Dotted Line

Before signing a contract, read the terms carefully to verify the agreed upon details. Be prepared to submit a 50% non-refundable deposit at the time of the signing, and make sure the contract includes the final balance amount and due date as well as the cancellation and refund policy. The contract should also include the caterer’s contact information, the reception date, time, duration and location (including the exact name of the room, if necessary). Other details that should be outlined on the contract are the meal plan, type of service and staff provided, the cake, liquor and rental specifics.

Get even more wedding catering tips and advice at Elegala.com - Elegant Galas Made Simple

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sample wedding toasts

Stumped on coming up with a great wedding toast? This gallery of sayings, good wishes and quotations to incorporate into your toast will help you get started.

Incorporate these sample wedding toasts into your speech, and be sure to add a few heartfelt sentiments about the bride and groom for a personal touch.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hiring a Videographer for Your Wedding - Important Tips to Know

Your videographer should be able to interpret your desires and expectations and work with you to accomplish your stylistic vision. Consider these important tips on hiring the right wedding videographer before signing on the dotted line.

The Research Phase

  • Begin by gathering a list of potential videographers:
  • Seek recommendations from other newlyweds.
  • Check with your reception venue to see if they have a list of preferred videographers who are familiar with the setting.
  • Ask your other wedding vendors if they have any suggestions.

The Selection Process

Questions to Ask -
Once you have a list of encouraging prospects, set up an appointment with each of them and get answers to these important questions:

  • Who will be videotaping on the day of our wedding?
  • Make sure the videographer whose portfolio you view will be the one who will be filming your wedding. Some videography studios claim the right to send any staff member to your wedding, so make sure the person who signs your contract is the one who will be at your wedding.
  • What is your primary style?
  • Some videographers specialize in cinematic while others concentrate on documentary. Make sure your videographer’s expertise matches your preference.
  • Have you worked at our wedding venue before?
  • If so, ask to see a tape of that wedding. Your videographer should be accustomed to the setting so that they can capture your day without becoming intrusive. Take it one step further and ask your venue coordinator if he/she is familiar with the videographer’s work.
  • What types of equipment will be used during the shooting and editing processes?
  • Ask him/her to explain the equipment that will be there on your wedding day and how the tape will be converted into an end product. You may not understand it all, but at least he/she will know you mean business.
  • Do you have any references?
  • Call and ask former clients if they were satisfied with the overall experience and received the desired outcome.
Get even more advice to help you plan your wedding videography at Elegala.com

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wear Again Wedding Dresses

Recessionistas rejoice! In these economic times, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to wear your wedding gown more than once (without looking ridiculous)? NY-based designer Sioloonim offers a couture line of white silk taffeta blouses and floor-length silk skirts that – when paired together – create a one-of-a-kind look for wedding dresses. As an added bonus, brides can get more mileage out of the top, which is simple and chic enough to be worn again for a night on the town with skinny jeans and stilettos or to the office with a pencil skirt and pumps.

Read more about these wear again wedding dresses at the Unveiled Wedding Blog

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wedding Cakes Ideas for Every Season

Take a cue from the seasons with our favorite wedding cakes ideas for spring, summer, fall and winter…

Fall Wedding Cakes

Bring out the rich, warm colors and tastes of autumn…

  • Go pumpkin - round out a fall feast with a pumpkin cake or even a tiered pumpkin pie
  • Go chocolate - serve a hearty chocolate cake covered in dark chocolate fondant and decorated with fresh or marzipan fruits and berries

Get even more ideas for fall weddings

Winter Wedding Cakes

Warm up to a decadent dessert course with these cool ideas to reflect the winter season…

  • White on white – adorn an all white cake with marzipan snowflakes or swiss dots, or top with fresh white poinsettias or stephanotis
  • Get rich – serve a decadent chocolate cake or cheese cake with raspberry sauce/filling, and decorate with chocolate covered cherries or strawberries.
  • Top it off - use a decorative snow globe or snowflake as a seasonal topper

Get even more ideas for winter weddings.

Spring Wedding Cakes

Summon the taste of spring with light flavors and delicate colors…

  • Coconut Confection – coconut frosting and fillings make a quintessential spring treat
  • Crazy for carrot – carrot cake with cream cheese icing is another springtime fave.
  • Light and fluffy – go with angel food cake and fresh strawberries or strawberry cream
  • Whimsical adornments – decorate with bright, fanciful details like ribbon, swiss dots or swirl patterns.

Get even more ideas for spring weddings

Summer Wedding Cakes

When it comes to a summer wedding cake, invoke warmth, sunshine and fun…

  • Light and Fluffy - serve something light, like angel food cake topped with whipped cream and berries
  • Fresh adornments - top traditional wedding cake with fresh tropical flowers like hibiscus, or decorate with shells and starfish
  • Spoon it out - serve light sorbet or gelato
  • Add a cherry - have a do it yourself sundae bar (just make sure you have a way to keep the ice cream cool)

Get even more ideas for summer weddings

Consult the Elegala.com wedding cakes guide for even more cake ideas, tips, and advice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

21 Creative Wedding Ideas

There is nothing wrong with the traditional white wedding, but sometimes it is nice to makes yours stand out from the rest…

Today´s weddings are all about options that reflect your personalities and style. We´ve compiled a list of our favorite non-traditional or unexpected wedding ideas to incorporate into every aspect of your big day.

Ceremony Ideas

If you don´t host your ceremony in a house of worship or in the same location as your reception, you can get creative with your ceremony location and exchange vows at sunrise on the beach or at sunset from the rooftop of the tallest building in your metropolitan area.

Grand Entrance
Make your entrance especially unique by being escorted by your beloved pet or by arriving on a horse.

Reception Ideas

Venue Type
Think outside the banquet hall and bring your celebration to a naturally beautiful venue like a garden or museum. Your guests will enjoy strolling around picturesque grounds or appreciating timeless works of art.

Seating Arrangements
Add some visual interest to your setting by interspersing different shaped tables throughout the room or seating your guests at long tables for a family-style affair.

Catering Ideas

Ethnic Cuisine
If you have a strong heritage, have visited a favorite world destination together, or even just have an affinity for a particular variety of cuisine, revolve your menu around that ethnic specialty.

Offer delectable comfort foods with a twist, served up family-style – a great icebreaker for your guests.

Take inspiration from the season and serve a menu that offers a theme of seasonal favorites.

Flowers & Decor Ideas

Au Natural
Consult Mother Nature for inspiration, and bring the outdoors in. Natural objects like stones, leaves, pinecones, even twigs can add an organic aesthetic to your reception décor. Place in rustic containers or scatter amongst pillar candles for added ambiance.

Consult your Inner Child
For the kid at heart, fill decorative bowls with your favorite candies – such as jellybeans and M&M´s - in your wedding colors.

Entertainment Ideas

Ceremony Music
If "Here Comes the Bride" doesn´t suit your style or personality, choose a song that does. There is no written rule that states you can´t make your grand entrance to a rendition of your favorite Beastie Boys´ song.

Non-traditional Instruments
If you desire live music over a DJ, consider tying your musician selection to the theme or location of your event. A beachside bash naturally lends itself to the sound of steel drums, while a trumpet quartet will sound impressive in an elaborate cathedral.

Photography Ideas

Creative Shots
Hire your photographer to follow you throughout your entire day (leading up to the "Do Not Disturb" sign, of course). While it may make you feel anxious to have someone photograph you as you get ready, these shots will help you to remember the joy and anticipation of every part of your big day.

Cake Ideas

If cake isn´t your favorite dessert, then don´t feel the need to serve it to your guests. Apple crisp, peach cobbler, pumpkin pie, cupcakes, or even glazed doughnuts are a hit at the dessert table.

The end-of-meal offering doesn´t have to be made of flour and frosting. Think savory instead, and visit your local cheese shop to have them construct wheels of cheese in tiers and stacked to look like traditional wedding cake.

Attire Ideas

Wardrobe Change
Today´s brides are opting to wear not one dress, but two! Wear an elegant gown while you exchange vows, then slip into something a little more comfortable to round out the evening.

Anything but White
A white wedding dress symbolizes innocence and purity, but if that´s not your style, feel free to bring out your colorful personality by adding a splash of color to your attire. You can be as subtle as a colored sash and jewels or as bold as a fuchsia-colored dress.

Stationery Ideas

If your heritage is important for you to represent on your big day, do some research and find a stationer who offers multi-cultural invitations and announcements.

Creative Touch
For more intimate, casual gatherings, request the honor of your guests´ presence in an innovative and entertaining way. Here´s an idea - have your invite printed on a balloon so guests have to blow them up to receive the message.

Transportation Ideas

Grand Entrance
If the size of your bridal party doesn´t warrant a stretch limousine, consider arriving on horseback, on the back of your husband´s motorcycle, or in the passenger´s seat of your dad´s antique car.

Favor Ideas

Something Useful
Give your guests something they can enjoy for years to come. A small bag of seeds to plant will remind them of your big day every time they smell the flowers.

With a high emphasis on karma these days, give something back and make a donation to your favorite cause in lieu of knickknacks. Your guests will appreciate the altruistic gesture.

Get even more creative wedding ideas at Elegala.com - Elegant Galas Made Simple

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Plan a Fall Wedding – 15 Ideas for Fall Weddings

Looking for autumn-spiration? These tips and ideas for fall theme weddings will get you started towards planning a wedding with a fall twist.

Prepare for Variable Weather

1. Fall weather can be unpredictable: what starts as a sunny warm morning can turn into a brisk chilly evening. Be prepared for both extremes. Have portable heaters available (if your wedding will take place outside), and dress the wedding party in layers.

Plan Your Fall Wedding Flowers and Decorations

Use your decor scheme to tie together the fall theme. Here are some tips:

2. Pick your color palette - you can go with the traditional colors of the season: reds, oranges, browns, rusts, and yellows, or make a rich, interesting twist to the autumn color scheme by incorporating jewel tones. For added pizzazz, mix in some metallics: gold, copper, and bronze.

3. Seasonal blooms - popular fall wedding flowers include montbretia, hypericum, mums, sunflowers, roses, and daisies.

4. Get back to nature - use simple décor to subtly enhance the season's natural bounty. Use the autumn harvest for inspiration; think gourds, pumpkins, squash, gold dipped fall leaves, bales of hay, jugs of cider...you get the idea.

5. Go fall glam - you're not confined to rustic and casual in the fall. Create a posh autumn ambiance, and drape lush velvet (a traditional fall/winter fabric) in a rich chocolate brown or gold throughout your reception space. Accent the scene with antique broaches, crystal candelabras and stemware.

Plan Your Fall Wedding Menu

You cannot go wrong with seasonal standbys: turkey, red potatoes, corn bread dressing, green beans, and honey glazed carrots. Here are some additional tips and ideas:

6. Family style - re-create a traditional thanksgiving feast by incorporating your family recipes into your wedding menu and serving the meal family style (if your guest list is small).

7. Hearty proteins - choose a hearty meat that will pair with heavier side dishes - turkey, roasted quail, rib roast.

8. Keep it elegant - you can serve traditional fare in sophisticated, creative ways - present soup or veggie puree in mini shot classes or hallowed out gourds, or warm apple cider in glass mugs with cinnamon sticks.

Fall Invitations & Stationery Ideas

9. Add a fall motif - such as an acorn or maple leaf - to your stationery suite

10. Consider color - use paper or inks in traditional fall colors – browns, rusts, deep reds, orange.

11. An added touch - insert a sprinkling of silk fall leaves into each envelope

Fall Venue Ideas

12. Outside splendor – the season seems to call for an outdoor, rustic setting affording prime leaf peeping views. Some ideas: parks, orchards, vineyards, farms, ranches, barns, mills, or the grounds of an historic inn or mansion.

13. Room with a view - if an outdoor setting isn't an option, find a venue boasting a clear view of the fall foliage or countryside.

Fall Wedding Cakes

14. Go pumpkin - round out a fall feast with a pumpkin cake or even a tiered pumpkin pie

15. Go chocolate - serve a hearty chocolate cake covered in dark chocolate fondant and decorated with fresh or marzipan fruits and berries

Get even more fall wedding ideas and advice for fall weddings at Elegala.com – Elegant Galas Made Simple

Friday, September 04, 2009

What are some of the most affordable wedding flowers?

Your floral budget can certainly run the gauntlet. On average you should expect to spend about 8-10% of your overall wedding budget on the flowers. While this is a good estimate, you can modify many floral elements to determine the actual amount you will spend on your wedding flowers. Factors such as the types of flowers you choose, whether or not they are in season in your area, and the number, size and complexity of the arrangements,all influence your final cost estimate.

Some flowers tend to be moderately priced -they are:

Orange Blossoms
Roses (due to huge variance in kind, quality, and color)
Greenery – such as ivy

On the other hand, these flowers tend to be expensive:

Lily of the Valley
Calla Lily

Get more tips on how much wedding flowers cost

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How much does a professional wedding planner cost?

You may think your wedding budget’s too maxed out for hired help, but the good news is that most wedding consultants will work within a variety of budgets and can customize a planning package that serves your needs. While many orchestrate entire events from start to finish (which can be pricey), most can be hired for specific services such as vendor selection or day-of coordination. Learn more about the different types of wedding planning services

Your cost will ultimately depend on what you hire them for, so start by making a list of things for which you’d like the help of a professional – i.e. finding and booking all your vendors, or just making sure things run smoothly during the final days. Then get in touch with a few to find out what they’d charge for those services. Use the elegala.com local vendor search to find recommended wedding planners in your area.

How does the billing process work?

Different planners have different billing methods: some charge by the hour (anywhere from $40-$100+), others charge a percentage of your entire wedding budget (10-15% is typical), still others charge a flat fee depending on the services you need (package rates run the gamut).

Can a Wedding Planner Help Save You Money?

Hiring a pro to assist with your plans can actually be a wise economic decision. Need convincing? Here are a few ways a wedding planner can help you save some serious headaches – and cash:

  • Set Your Budget…And Stick To It Once you set your wedding budget, your planner will help you stick to it. Be open about any budgetary constraints during planning sessions. Once you’re on the same page, your planner can help you determine what’s most important to you and make spending choices accordingly.
  • A Friend Indeed A good wedding planner will get the most for your money by choosing the best vendors. As industry insiders, wedding consultants have built a network of reliable professionals and can make recommendations based on your style and budget. This can save countless hours of research and potentially avert costly mistakes (you can rest assured knowing Johnny Photographer isn’t going to skip town with your photography deposit).
  • Prime Negotiator Your wedding planner will review all vendor contracts before you sign on the dotted line, catching any hidden fees and ensuring your needs are covered. As repeat clients, planners may even score you some vendor discounts.

Learn more about how a wedding planner can save you money...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Are Cash Bars at Weddings Ever OK?

Weddings are expensive, and brides and grooms are looking for any way to cut wedding costs - and rightfully so. Shelling out nearly $30,000 to host a party in these tough economic times just feels frivolous and wasteful. But sorry brides and grooms, a cash bar is never an acceptable money-saving solution. Think about it this way: would you ever charge your pals three dollars every time they grabbed another beer at your Superbowl party? People at your wedding reception are still your guests, even if the event is not held in your house (like said Superbowl party), so they shouldn't be asked to pay for anything while they're there.

Some couples think providing non-alcoholic beverages gratis while charging guests who wish to upgrade to an alcoholic beverage is perfectly acceptable, but here's another analogy: Imagine serving all of your wedding guests free soup for dinner at your reception. Now imagine offering optional lobster tail, but forcing guests who wish to eat lobster instead of soup to shell out $30 for their meal. Surely you can see why this shouldn't be done.

If you cannot afford to host a four or five-hour open bar, there are plenty of less-costly alternatives that won't offend your guests:

1) Offer beer, wine, and soft drinks only
2) Offer a full bar for cocktail hour, then switch to beer and wine.
3) Decide on one type of drink to serve - either a specialty cocktail, champagne, one type of beer or wine. Most venues will charge significantly less to serve only one type of alcoholic beverage.
4) Choose a wedding venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol. Believe it or not - there are plenty of venues that do not have liquor licenses and will allow couples to bring in their own. Anything unopened can be returned for a full refund after the wedding. You may need to get a little more creative with your venue with this option and choose a mansion, museum, or a facility who's main business is not generated from weddings and special events.
5) INVITE LESS PEOPLE TO YOUR WEDDING! This is the most effective way to cut wedding costs across the board. The significant savings you'll experience with a smaller guest list will allow you to treat those who you do invite with courtesy and respect.

Get more wedding etiquette advice at Elegala.com