Saturday, June 25, 2011

Paying for Your Wedding

Methods for paying for your wedding will vary between each engaged couple. Price alters depending on the desires of the couple, including the venue, the size of the reception, and the wedding details (orchids v. daisies, Vera Wang v. unbranded, etc.).

The most expensive wedding in history was the marriage of Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of a wealthy Indian steel tycoon, and Amit Bhatia, a London-based banker. The wedding included six days of events, such as a reenactment of the couples’ courtship, concerts and performances, and an engagement party at the Palace of Versailles [1]. The total cost of the Mittal-Bhatia wedding totaled $60,000,000. Of course, this is considerably more intricate and ornate than all other weddings, and hopefully more than any of us would ever need or desire.

According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $27,800 – this conclusive price was averaged between budget weddings and extravagant, lush super-weddings. As previously stated, the cost of a wedding is in large part due to many taste preferences and desires of the engaged couple. It can also be influenced by indiscriminate factors such as the location (city, state, or country) of the wedding events. As many brides will tell you, the cost of a wedding can escalate quickly due to unforeseen expenses, limited options available, or even “I have to have it” moments. Therefore, it is very important to establish a budget early before planning a wedding out of one’s price range.

In American tradition, the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner and the bride’s parents pay for the wedding ceremony and reception. The payment preferences differ from country to country, however. In some Latin communities, both families, friends of the family, and members of the wedding party all contribute to the cost of the wedding, instead of relying on a few individual family members [2]. Modern wedding etiquette makes room for families dealing with different financial burdens.

Some brides or grooms are blessed with well-off parents, willing to cover the cost of the entire wedding. However, many families do not have the financial stability to pay for their “share” of the wedding costs, especially in the wake of a large economic depression. Depending on the financial situation of the bride or groom’s parents, the couple may have to step-in and pay for a large cost of their wedding.

Variables, other than finance, that come in to play when determining who will pay for a wedding can also include:
1)    If this is the bride or groom’s first marriage. If parents have already paid for one wedding, then the bride and groom of the second marriage typically split the cost (of course, parents can always offer to pay, but it should not be expected).
2)    How old the bride and groom are. Typically, even if it is the couple’s first marriage, if the bride and groom are well established in their fields and earning a high salary (particularly a salary higher than his or her parents), then the bride and groom pay for their own wedding. Again, the division of wedding cost is at the disclosure of the families, but couples that earn more than their parents, or who have parents already in retirement, should take on the financial burden of high-expense weddings.
3)    The type of wedding desired. If parents can only afford, or are only willing to pay for, a budget wedding and if the bride and groom desire a lush, extravagant wedding, then the bride and groom should chip-in.

Of course most brides will admit to dreaming of their wedding day for years, planning each specific detail to a tee. However, establishing a fixed budget may create obstacles in planning an extravagant wedding. There are many ways of maintaining elegance on a budget.
1)    The dress – instead of splurging on a $5,000 designer dress from a high-end retailer, consider shopping at David’s Bridal, Nordstrom, or JCrew, which all carry well-made, gorgeous dresses at lower prices. Quick tip: Remember to never try on a dress you cannot afford. If you fall in love with it, you will begin to compare all future dresses to the unattainable option.
2)    Flowers – if you have a specific type of flower in mind that is out of your budget, consider featuring said flower in your bridal bouquet, and perhaps as a boutonniere for your groom, but displaying a less-expensive flower in table arrangements and bridesmaid bouquets.
3)    DIY – Decorations, bouquets, favors, invitations– these are all things that are frequently outsourced to a company at a high cost, but these can all be done yourself. Look up How-To videos online, or ask married friends what they did. If you’re not crafty or creative, ask your friends to help! Making some of the pieces for you wedding could even sub-in as a wedding gift, and you may be surprised how artsy your friends can be.

Bottom Line: No matter what your budget is, you can still have a beautiful wedding. Many are lucky and are able to afford what they like, but even brides on a budget can have the wedding of their dreams by shopping and spending wisely. Talk with your parents, or any other family or friends that may be willing to help pay for your wedding events, and find out what your budget is early so you can know what to expect. Remember: Although some brides and grooms can expect that their parents or loved ones will finance their wedding entirely, each contribution (no matter how small) should be treated with extreme gratitude. 


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Choosing Your Wedding Party

Choosing your wedding party can be one of the most complicated aspects of putting together your wedding. Some brides and grooms will decide quickly since they've had the members of their wedding party planned out for ages, but many will find the process to be very difficult. There are many things to keep in mind when deciding what roles will be featured on your wedding day, and who will fill these responsibilities.

Before deciding on whom to choose, consider how many people you would like to be involved in the wedding. How many bridesmaids/groomsmen are you having? Are you having a maid of honor/best man? Are you having flower girls, ushers, or a ring bearer? Putting restraints on the number of people in the wedding party may help narrow down your options.

Here are some general qualifications that should be considered when choosing the wedding party:
1)   No matter how formal or casual your wedding is, at some point your wedding party will be bestowed their share of responsibilities. You have to be able to trust them to not only complete the task you asked of them, but also support you on the day.
2)   You may make some choices that members of the wedding party don’t approve of. Maybe the dress you chose doesn’t match her skin tone. Maybe she would rather go to Vegas for your shower than have an intimate party at home. If their presence in the wedding party will only cause you more stress, then it may be wise to reconsider their involvement.
3)   Your bridesmaids are going to be there during your most intimate pre-wedding moments. If one is not in support of your union, then it would be wise to talk to him or her – find out why, and discuss whether he or she feels its appropriate to participate in your marriage.
4)   If your bridesmaid lives far away from you, then they will not be able to physically participate in most of the planning. If you expect your entire wedding party to be there when you try on dresses, decide on invitations, and all of the other key moments, then you might want to look for bridesmaids who live close-by, or perhaps reconsider what you expect from them.

It is true that there may be some people (close friends, family, and the like) that will be offended if they are not chosen to participate in the wedding party. Although you can bet that there will be drama when they find out they are not going to be a bridesmaid or groomsman, it is your wedding and you should do what feels right for you. However, there are many options to avoid the stress and panic of not inviting someone into the wedding party:
If you already have your bridesmaid roster filled, but still want to honor this extra person – then do it! The number of bridesmaids and groomsmen does not have to be even (did you see the end of 27 Dresses?) If you feel that you do not want this person to be a bridesmaid, there are still many more roles available. He or she can do a special reading during the ceremony or help usher guests to their seats.

When choosing your wedding party, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that may help you decide who to include and how many members of the wedding party you would like to have:
1)    ‘An eye for an eye’ does not apply. Just because you were a bridesmaid in her wedding does not mean that she needs to be in your wedding party.
2)    Although many believe that the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen should correspond to the size of the wedding (meaning that a small intimate ceremony and reception should have significantly fewer members of the wedding party than a large ceremony), there is no sense leaving out loved ones on your special day just to have an acceptable ratio of wedding party members to guests.
3)    Your wedding party does not have to be all family, and it definitely does not have to include your fiancé’s family. Although formal wedding tradition has any female siblings of the groom to be in the bride’s wedding party, three of your four designated bridesmaid slots do not have to be his sisters.
4)    On that note, if the groom wants to include his sister in the wedding party, or the bride her brother, then the sister can be a groomsman and the brother a bridesmaid. “Bridesmen” and “groomsmaids” are becoming more popular and are a radical way of involving opposite-sex friends and family members in the wedding party.

The Bottom Line: Go with your gut. If you feel that you could not get married without a certain person standing by you, then outside variables should in no way influence your decision.

A quick tip for any wedding guests: Do not assume you’re included in the wedding party until the bride or groom tells you that you are. Asking ahead of time if you can be involved can often create an awkward situation if (a) it hasn’t been discussed yet, or (b) the answer is not what you expected. Understand that the bride and groom have enough on their plate, and they don’t need this as an extra stressor.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

White Wedding Dress

Of course one of the first images that comes to mind when thinking of a wedding is the bride in a white dress. The white wedding dress is iconic – a universal archetype of purity, beauty, and joy. Although the white wedding dress has developed many connotations over the past century, the tradition actually originated due to a fashion choice. When Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840, she requested that her dress be white in order to match some white lace that she wanted to incorporate into her ensemble.

Since then, the white wedding dress has been associated with certain expectations, including abstinence until marriage or this being the first marriage of the couple. Some brides live by these rules, and wear a wedding dress as a symbol of their purity or virginity. However, it is the choice of the bride whether or not she would like to wear a white wedding dress.

And why shouldn’t you? Unless you strongly believe in the orthodox customs, why should you not seize the opportunity to participate in one of the most popular wedding traditions?

If you choose to not wear white dress, there are so many more options! Ivory dresses have become an easy alternative to crisp white dresses, offering a variety of options for brides. Ivory dresses can be elegant or simple, and are available in many different dress choices to suit a wide variety of brides and weddings.

Although white is undoubtedly the most common dress color in western culture, brides should not feel pressured to follow normal traditions if they don’t want to. A wedding dress can be any color you like; however, due to the high demand for white/off-white and ivory dresses, alternate color palettes for the bride may be harder to find. Stores like David's Bridal have many dresses that incorporate in different colors through sashes, detailing, and accents, but brides may have to check out “Special Occasion” dresses for full-color options.

Bottom line: Traditions or not, wear what you want. White and ivory dresses are available in many stores due to the high demand, but brides should not feel pressured to follow orthodox standards. You should feel beautiful, comfortable, and happy above all else.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

First post!

Welcome to my blog!

In planning my own wedding, I discovered the inevitable joy and frustration of putting together a wedding. Although western culture has idolized weddings, causing the celebrity wedding phenomenon and the trend of summer wedding movies, these examples do not accurately represent the tough choices, time crunches, and creativity that surround wedding planning.

When met with the many different problems that arose in the planning of my wedding, I found that there were few to no genuine sources for help solving real-life planning issues or getting helpful advice. This blog is dedicated to providing advice on realistic wedding problems and answering any questions from brides, grooms, guests, or those of us who simply love weddings.

My philosophy is simple: your wedding is your wedding. Your primary concern in planning should be having the wedding that you desire. It could be the large elegant church wedding you've always dreamed of, the casual outdoor ceremony, or the simplistic marriage at city hall. Wedding planning is bound to be stressful at some point, but it should also be invigorating and fun. 

Thanks for reading!