For everyone involved, a wedding is a joyous celebration of love and happiness. It is an exciting event, from the proposal to the big day and finally the honeymoon. Of course there is plenty of planning involved and it can sometimes be tricky as the engaged couple try to organize everything to fit within their budget. There are also many aspects to the wedding that have a long history or tradition behind them, such as the bouquet, vows and the honeymoon. However, today many people opt to do things a little differently to suit their personal preferences or to reflect their personalities. If you’re just getting started planning your own wedding, have a look through this guide for some helpful information and resources.
Many people consider the proposal to be nearly as important as the wedding itself. Some men may opt for a low-key private proposal, while others may go for a more public or extravagant declaration of their affection. For many women, creativity and thoughtfulness are key in the wedding proposal. One of the best ways to incorporate these aspects is to think about the other person’s interests, favorite things or perhaps a significant place. One great way to plan an elaborate proposal is to ask others to help out in organizing it. For example, if one partner is crazy about theater, take them out to a show and pre-arrange it with the cast and crew so that they might act out a proposal scene with the real people’s names. Proposals can also take place at home or in an everyday location for a real surprise, such as a restaurant, the beach or work. Traditionally it has always been the man who proposes to the woman, but in recent years some women have been turning that custom around.
The Venue (Ceremony/Reception)
The venue chosen for the ceremony and reception has a huge impact on the general atmosphere and flow of events. One of the most standard indoor choices for many couples is a banquet hall. This type of venue is relatively easy to find and book, and it comes with the added advantage of being large enough to hold many people, and includes catering and furnishings. Other indoor venues can include a country club, a church reception hall or even a large mansion. Indoor venues are great for weddings that take place at night or during cold or wet weather. Outdoor venues can range from beaches, the countryside or even abroad. When choosing a venue for the ceremony and reception, shop around for the best price before finalizing any plans. Make sure to ask whether decorations, furnishings (such as chairs and tables) and other fees are included in the final price to avoid any unexpected bills. A great way to find a venue is to determine the number of guests and then book a venue according to the size of the guest list.
The Guest List/Invitations
One of the largest expenses in any wedding is dependent on the guest list. The number of guests dictates the amount of invitations, furnishings, food, drinks and favors that need to be ordered and paid for. Couples on a budget should try to trim their guest list to keep things in check. It can be very easy to get carried away, especially if parents and relatives insist on adding long lost family members and distant friends or acquaintances to the list. One good way to get around this is by trimming the list to only include friends and family who are close to the couple. In this instance, most people will understand that the wedding is a smaller affair. On the invitations, make it very clear whether the person invited is allowed to bring their spouse or significant other, children or a guest. Information that is included on wedding invitations typically includes the date and address of the event, along with the time and locations of the ceremony and reception, details about the dress code and a few words about whether gifts are suitable or not. Many people tend to design and print the invitations themselves these days instead of hiring a professional company to do so. There are plenty of free invitation templates online that can help make the designing process easier and less expensive too.
The bride’s dress is one of the most important parts of a wedding for most women. Traditionally the bride’s dress is white to symbolize virginity and purity. Various shades of white are also acceptable, such as cream or eggshell. Some brides also enjoy adding just a hint of color, either in the embroidery, in the undercoat or in the waistband of the dress. This color typically matches their bouquet and the general color scheme of the wedding. Strapless dresses have been a huge trend in recent years, but be careful to ensure that they fit well, to avoid constant tugging and pulling during the wedding day. Mermaid dresses are also quite popular and they feature a fitted bodice with a flared skirt. Many brides today also opt for long wedding dresses with a lace-up corset-type bodice. Wedding dresses can be quite pricey in specialty stores or when they are custom-made. One way to save on the cost of the dress is to purchase it at a retail store and ask a tailor to make alterations to ensure that it fits properly. Many online stores also offer bridal dresses at vastly reduced prices.
Wedding cakes are a very traditional part of the reception and a slice is served to every guest. The wedding cake is eaten separately from the main dessert of the meal. Previously most wedding cakes were fruitcakes covered in marzipan and detailed decorative icing. Today brides and grooms choose the flavor of the cake depending on their preferences and a layer of fondant is often substituted for the marzipan. Tiered cakes have usually been the most popular style. Another tradition is to keep the top tier (the smallest cake) and serve it to immediate family and the couple at the wedding breakfast the next morning. In the last few years, stacked tiers of decorated cupcakes have also caught on as a substitute for the traditional cake. In the Southern U.S., a groom’s cake may also be served, usually during the rehearsal dinner. Some people save on the cost of the wedding cake by asking a close friend or family member to bake it themselves. Another way is by asking the bakery department of a local supermarket to bake and decorate it. These bakery sections usually do it for a much lower price than specialized bakeries.
Music (DJ or Band)
The music at the wedding can certainly make or break the mood. When planning the music, keep in mind the various age groups of the guests. Many people prefer classical music or traditional hymns for the ceremony, and may turn up rock, pop or jazz during the reception. Hiring a band or group of musicians is a great way to offer live music, but hiring a DJ might be simpler and less expensive. Some couples are even setting up their playlists on an MP3 player and linking it up to the audio system to automatically play all night. For those on a budget, this is a great way to provide uninterrupted music for virtually no cost.
In older times, the bride’s bouquet was very significant and people would choose flowers that symbolized good luck, prosperity, fertility, fidelity and other good wishes. Today most brides tend to plan their bouquet as an accessory to match their dress and color scheme of the wedding. Based on this bouquet, matching flowers can also be chosen for the groom’s boutonniere, as well as the table centerpieces. Roses, tulips and lily of the valley are some of the most popular picks among many brides.
The Bachelorette/Bachelor Parties
The bachelor and bachelorette parties signify each partner’s last night of single life before they get married. Traditionally it would have involved a dinner with close family members of the same sex. Today the parties can be much wilder, and often involve strippers or other embarrassing activities. Ideally, the friends who plan the parties should avoid embarrassing the bride or groom or placing them in any potentially compromising situations. For women, a spa party or cocktail party might be a great way to relax with the bridesmaids before the big day and bond together. Men might prefer a sports-themed party or something that allows them to enjoy themselves with their friends. Another option is a joint party and this is an especially good option for couples who have numerous mutual friends. To keep the tab down, specify a set budget and encourage the party organizers to work within the budget.
The wedding vows that are recited before the couple is officially married are one of the most important parts of any wedding ceremony. Most churches have a standard line for the wedding vows and many couples simply recite it after the priest or officiate. Even in this case, there are several different versions of the traditional vows. An alternative to this is to have each partner write their own vows. The advantage of this is that it can be a lot more personalized and meaningful for each person. A good idea is to discuss the vows with each other and the priest well before the ceremony to decide which option the couple would prefer best.
The honeymoon originated with an old Scandinavian tradition in which the bridge and groom would drink a cup of mead (made from honey) everyday for a month. At the time, mead was considered a potent beverage and it was also drunk to ensure fertility in the newly married couple. Today the honeymoon period is a chance for the bride and groom to get away and relax together alone and enjoy their first few days of marriage. Most honeymoons take place abroad or in a different area, thus it is also considered a vacation. Since it constitutes an additional cost to the wedding budget, the bride and groom may ask guests to make a monetary contribution to their honeymoon instead of bringing a gift. Instead of travelling far away, try picking a destination that is closer to home but where you haven’t yet visited. This will undoubtedly help to keep the travel costs down while allowing the couple to enjoy a getaway. Hawaii and southern beach resorts are usually very popular destinations for honeymoons, especially for those who live in northern climes. Look for all-inclusive travel packages, since they are priced quite low and include travel, accommodations, food and beverages.
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