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Manolo for the Brides » Advice http://manolobrides.com Manolo Loves the Brides! Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:36:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.11 Wedding In a Winter Wonderland http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/28/wedding-in-a-winter-wonderland/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/28/wedding-in-a-winter-wonderland/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 20:26:20 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12269

There’s nothing like a winter wedding. Snow (if you live in an area where it’s common) makes a pretty backdrop for a wedding. And since winter is a far less popular time of the year to marry than spring or summer, it’s quite possible to get extra good deals on halls, catering, and flowers. And with all the decorative items on sale for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, etc. it’s easy to get all kinds of pretty sparkly things to make your day beautiful on a budget.

Of course, there are some practical issues to consider, too. Weather is more likely to be stormy. One unexpectedly heavy fall of snow could spell the difference between a full house and lots of empty pews at your ceremony. Since many people travel for the holidays at this time of year, it’s also possible that you’ll wind up with less guests than you’d hoped due to family obligations or used up vacations days that won’t allow people to come out your way.

Once you’ve looked over the pros and cons and decided to set your wedding in the winter months, here are a few ideas to make it extra pretty and seasonally suitable.

Cover up!

If you’ve found love in a cold climate, chances are you’ll want a pretty jacket, coat, cloak, sweater, or shawl. Even with the slow but steady return of sleeves to bridal couture, the fact is most wedding gowns are not designed to keep you warm in the great outdoors. This is festivewear, not survivalwear. Even if you only need it for getting from the limo to your wedding site and perhaps a few pre-ceremony photographs, it’s a good idea to have something that will keep you from turning into your something blue.

Looking for bridesmaids’ gifts? Matching shawls or sweaters would make a pretty and practical idea.

For your feet? Maybe pretty Victorian boots would be a good idea to keep feet both attractive and dry.

Go with the season!

Remember that there are less flowers in season during the winter months. That means that using a lot of bright flowers will cost more than it might in another time of year. So choose what’s in season to make your bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, and corsages. Use a variety of pretty evergreen sprigs like in the bouquet shown, decorate tables with poinsettias or tiny living evergreen trees, or go blatantly and fabulously fake with sparkly brooches or festive pinwheels.

And don’t forget the season when picking your menu! Looking for a good signature cocktail? Try a mulled wine or eggnog. Consider gingerbread for your wedding cake. Want a delicious, popular, and satisfying main dish? Think about lasagna, roast beef and mashed potatoes, or a mac and cheese bar.

Don’t ignore the obvious decorations!

If you’re planning a wedding for next winter, I would heartily recommend hitting the stores for the post-Christmas ornament sales. Bowls of Christmas balls filling a glass bowl would make great centerpieces for your wedding. Strings of lights will make your hall all the prettier. Wired ribbon can be lovely tied in bows on pews. Linens in rich colors will also be on sale in preparation for the lighter spring colors coming soon.

As I said before, winter weddings can be lovely in a very special way. They warm our hearts in the cold months, and give us one more reason to celebrate. So use your imagination to bring the best of the season to your wedding day. Everyone – including you! – will be glad you did.

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Love is Blind… and So Are Some Brides http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/12/love-is-blind-and-so-are-some-brides/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/12/love-is-blind-and-so-are-some-brides/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 19:24:52 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12207

I love this photograph of a bride and groom from the sixties and the bride’s seeing eye dog.

I also loved my grandmother’s second husband who, as it happened, was legally blind. In fact, Granny met him while volunteering with a group dedicated to helping the blind.

And so I was frankly appalled when I read this article by a legally blind bride-to-be at Offbeat Bride. Not, I hasten to mention, because of anything about the lady or her plans. Her steampunk cane is a delight and her groom’s sense of humor is beyond awesome.

No, what appalled me was the ignorance and small-mindedness displayed so casually by potential vendors, not to mention others who simply couldn’t conceive of her choices based on her comfort and ability to navigate the event easily. Choices such as wearing a colored dress so she can see it, not to wear a veil so as not to impede her limited peripheral vision, or to use her cane to help her navigate the aisle successfully.

Apparently these things are ‘not bridal.’

To that, all I can say is a hearty cry of “horse hockey!”

A bride is a bride, is a bride. A groom is a groom, is a groom. And if the ring bearer needs a cane or a wheelchair, then that’s what he needs.

I remember some years ago reading on the web about a blind bridesmaid who had a disastrous time in the wedding party because of the attitude that any acknowledgement of her disability was somehow less than ‘bridal.’ She wasn’t allowed to use her cane down the aisle, and after she had practiced many times with a certain configuration at the altar, a major item was moved directly into her path at the last minute and nobody warned her. Of course she crashed into it and people got mad at her for ‘ruining’ the wedding. After all, a sighted bridesmaid would have known to move out of the way!

If you or someone in your wedding party has a disability, the key to making things work is not to ignore that disability or try to make it go away for a few hours. The key is to looking squarely at the practical issues it raises and then dealing with them frankly and without making a huge fuss.

Blind people marry. Wheelchair users marry. Deaf people marry. Amputees marry.

And you know what? They’re beautifully bridal, too.

For more ideas on planning a wedding when someone in the wedding party has a disability, check out some of the terrific tips and planning ideas on disaboom.

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The Fiddly Bits Around the Edges http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/06/the-fiddly-bits-around-the-edges/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/11/06/the-fiddly-bits-around-the-edges/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 12:30:07 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12170
I always had a sneaking understanding of Slartibartfast, the planet designer from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He loved the ‘fiddly bits’ like fjords. I, too, love fiddly bits.

And so I’m going to cover a couple fiddly bits most bridal blogs don’t usually talk about: those tiny details that make getting ready on the day of so much easier and less stressful.

For one thing, here’s the deal with how to deal with your rings. On the big day, slide your engagement ring off your left hand and transfer it to the right until after the ceremony. The wedding band is properly placed on a naked finger, and worn closer to your heart afterward.

Oh, and you know how on all the wedding reality shows you see the bride getting her hair and make up done while wearing a tee shirt? Yeah, after years of community theater, I’m here to tell you that’s a sucker’s game. Wear a shirt that buttons. Then you don’t have to pull it off over your hair and make up and possibly your veil, too. You don’t want your make up ruined because you got your shirt caught in your veil. Seriously, that’s not good.

Do your best to go to bed in time to get plenty of sleep the night before your wedding. You’ll feel better and you’ll look better that way. Even if you have trouble sleeping, do your best to find a quiet place in your mind.

Even if you think you can’t keep anything down before the ceremony, do try to eat. Crashing blood sugar can lead to people fainting at the altar. If you’re worried about your digestion, opt for something that goes down easily, like crackers or a smoothie. Not only will you stay upright longer, the first sip of champagne won’t hit you nearly so hard, either.

If you plan to do the whole something borrowed, something blue deal, then do your best to have it all set up before you start getting dressed. I once wound up lending a bride a bobby pin so she would have something borrowed. Maybe not the most sentimental choice possible. I’d have been more than happy to lend her a piece of jewelry, if I’d only known she needed it.

Make sure you have any documents you need for your honeymoon (passport, hotel reservation confirmations, directions/maps, etc.) in one place at the ready before you leave for the ceremony. Even if you’re going to spend the night in town before you head off on your adventure, you don’t want to be scrambling and printing off things when you’re already late leaving for the airport. Having that done is one more thing off your mind and therefore off your shoulders.

Practice saying your vows if they involve anything more elaborate than saying ‘I do.’ Even if you’re reading them off a card or slip of paper at the altar, the words will flow more naturally and affect your audience more.

When in doubt as to how to react to something, laugh. A sense of humor is a great way to get past the crisis mode attitude so often presented as the default for a bride. Yes, this is an important day, but something is going to go wrong, and it’s better for your blood pressure to laugh than to scream.

Unless they’re going to drive you completely up a tree, take a moment to say some nice things to your parents before the day sweeps the chance away. There’s a lot going on at a wedding, and it’s easy to find the day over and important things left unsaid. Whether it’s ‘thanks for footing the bill,’ ‘no matter what, I’m still always going to be your loving daughter,’ or ‘damn, you look fine!’ make sure you say it.

When the fiddly bits are taken care of, it’s amazing how easy it is to roll with the much bigger punches.

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How (and Why) to Chill Out for Your Wedding http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/30/how-and-why-to-chill-out-for-your-wedding/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/30/how-and-why-to-chill-out-for-your-wedding/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2012 15:02:25 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12143
See Natalie Nunn. See Natalie Nunn throw things – hissey fits in particular – at her wedding. See what a bad idea that is.

I had – blessedly – never heard of Natalie Nunn before she showed up on Bridezillas. For two weeks now she’s been screaming on my television about how she shouldn’t have to pay for her wedding because she’s rich and famous and has people pay her to show up at parties… and there’s another week with the actual wedding to go.

She also, apparently, doesn’t have a clue what a wedding reception is.

She’s actually not the worst person on the show this season. It’s true. There was the woman on the Bridezillas staff who threw her dog (and real soulmate!) into the wedding cake because she was honked off that her groom had bought a birthday cake from a grocery store bakery section, scraped off the Happy Birthday, and written an apology on it.

Yeah, tell me that wasn’t scripted… which only makes it worse.

But this article really isn’t about Bridezillas or trying to figure out who was the worst of the worst of the season. It’s about the thing that makes so many of these women entirely lose their minds (well, in the actual spontaneous moments of the show) and make other brides and grooms all over the world lose their collective marbles whilst planning their weddings: stress.

Yes, planning your wedding can definitely be a stressful thing. You’re dealing with the intersection of available funds, cultural expectations, personal preferences, complicated relationships, and a major life-changing event all rolled into one big ball of people crooning that this is the single most important and happiest day of your entire life.

In other words, everyone is giving you heartburn as they gleefully inform you it’s all downhill from here, baby.

It’s no wonder that some people wind up gibbering in a corner. But I’m guessing you’d rather not be one of them.

The whys of reducing bridal stress are easy enough. You want to enjoy your wedding because it is a once in a lifetime event. Even if you do have another wedding at some point, trust me it will be a different unique experience. You’d probably rather not cause major rifts with friends and family members on both sides that will be difficult to repair. And of course you’d probably rather not look back at this special time and remember it as six months of constant tears and screaming.

The hows are harder, but still very much doable for most of us.

1: Know how you plan, and plan that way. Whether you’re the sort who does best with ages to plan and a finger in every pie, or the sort who prefers to spontaneously say ‘let’s do it next week, you take care of all the details’ or even the sort to want a little of each approach, plan in the way that makes you feel the most comfortable. Only you can tell for sure whether going all DIY or hiring a planner or delegating half the tasks to people you trust is the best approach for you. Listen to your gut if you’ve never planned a major event before.

If you choose an approach that stresses you out, then you’re just asking for unnecessary stress, which is what you’re trying to avoid.

2: Start with the basics and add what you want. It’s easy to start off with unrealistic dreams for a wedding you can never afford, and might not actually want if you got it. Or you may find your idea of a pretty wedding and your intended’s concept are very, very different things. But if you start out with what’s absolutely necessary (happy couple, marriage license, officiant, base number of witnesses, space to hold wedding in) and build from there, you’ll find some of the unrealistic ideas you may have had before dissipate. It will be easier to keep to your budget, and easier to keep your head.

Sometimes it’s better to let go of an old dream. It frees you to find a new one that might just make you happier.

3: Keep an open mind and open ears when others have suggestions. It’s easy for wedding planning sessions to turn ugly when everyone wants to talk and nobody wants to listen. So listen. Listen carefully. That way, even if you decide something someone thinks would make the wedding perfect would be a disaster in reality, they know you’ve listened. You can’t agree to everything. You wouldn’t want to even if you could. But in a lot of cases, people just want to know you actually heard what they were trying to say.

And who knows? Someone might come up with a really great idea you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

4: Take good care of yourself. Self care is often the first thing to go on the back burner in potentially stressful situations. We eat erratically, sleep too little, bury our heads in the thing that’s stressing us until our eyes are crossed and our brains dribble out our ears and whine that we need to keep going… and then wonder at the lousy decisions we make in that state that just frustrate us more than ever. So when things start overwhelming you, take a break. Do your best to get three decent meals a day and enough sleep every night.

Not only do you make better decisions on a full stomach and a rested brain, you’ll also look and feel healthier on your wedding day. That means you’ll be able to party longer and enjoy it more.

5: Put things in perspective. You know that old saw about the happiest day of your life? Have a good laugh at it and throw it on the garbage heap. There are few ‘helpful’ phrases that have caused more woe and anguish over the years. You will have happier days, and more important days, if you live long enough. And that’s a damn good thing, too. Imagine getting married at twenty-five and never having a better day even if you live to be a hundred! What a wretched thought!

Yes, your wedding day is very important. Done thoughtfully, it will probably rank among your top ten best days ever. If you’re supremely lucky, it will be one of the top five. It’s even possible that you’ll look back from your fiftieth anniversary and say it was one of the top three days in your life. Just don’t put all that baggage on it before it even happens. That’s a one-way ticket to Angstville.

6: Make time for other things in your life. If you don’t have time for your job and your wedding and a personal life, then you need to change something. Here’s a hint: don’t quit your job or dump all your friends. Take a quick inventory and either change your wedding planning strategy, extend the timeframe, or scale back your plans until you can breathe without thinking about tulle for at least a few hours here and there. It may be time to call in a professional, or it may be time to come up with a more efficient way of making decisions. Whatever it is, leave yourself time to go to the movies, work out at the gym, read a book that has nothing to do with weddings, play with your pet, take that evening class you find so compelling, whatever makes you feel connected with your life.

A lot of brides talk about feeling like they fell off the face of the earth when the wedding was over. That’s a sure sign of a bride who let the wedding take over her entire life. If you’ve got a life the whole time, it won’t be so hard to get back into the workaday world, and you’ll be better able to relax about your wedding.

7: Do your best in the last few days before the wedding to find your quiet spot. I’m not talking about a physical place to go. No, I’m talking about a place of inner tranquility that you find when you forget about words like ‘perfect’ and ‘happily ever after’ and just let what will be… be. Choose someone you trust absolutely to take care of any last minute snafus. Remind yourself that the universe has a perverse sense of humor, and resolve to laugh at whatever jokes it may throw at you.

Then go and have the best time you can at your own party.

After all that hard work, you deserve it!

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Good Advice and Bad Advice About Money http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/24/good-advice-and-bad-advice-about-money/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/24/good-advice-and-bad-advice-about-money/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 17:45:04 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12089
It ought to go without saying that all wedding budget advice is not created equal. That certainly is the case when the question is who is going to pay for what!

Just this morning I felt myself compelled to read an article at Gal Time about the ‘new rules’ for who pays for what.

The author of the piece, Analorena Zeldon, consulted two experts, Andria Lewis (wedding planner with fifteen years’ experience) and Jodi RR Smith (author and etiquette expert) about how couples should broach the divvying up of expenses between themselves and their parents.

On the upside, the article not only assumes the couple will take some responsibility for some expenses themselves (and has a convenient breakdown of who pays for what when the two of you are paying for it all), but also that the bride’s parents might choose for a variety of reasons to opt out entirely.

In fact, I like Lewis’ most basic advice, which is essentially that once you know who is giving what, you sit down and work out a plan everyone can live with, pay attention to your budget, and keep your plans reasonable.

Where she loses me is the specific list of what parents pay for as opposed to what the happy couple pay for, should the parents choose to involve themselves financially. Still, she does note that this is just a f’rinstance and open to negotiation/variation.

I also think it’s a Very Bad Idea to tell each family what specifically the other family is paying for. People will figure out quickly whose contribution is less dollars and that leads to hurt feelings, bad blood, and potential life-long family feuds.

Still, this is better than Smith’s advice. Her plan is that the couple figure out what they want, then discuss with each other what each is willing to contribute. Then they go to her parents and ask “diplomatically and tactfully” what they will pony up. At this point, they head off to the groom’s parents (and note that there are no same-sex marriages happening here, or perhaps Smith believes that there is no such thing as a same-sex marriage with familial support) and – approaching them carefully and thoughtfully – ask the same question.

At this point, Smith figures it goes one of three ways: either the bride’s parents pick up the entire tab, the happy couple pays for everything themselves, or the groom’s parents pay part of the costs. Huh. Bride’s parents give all or nothing. Groom’s parents might pay up to half. Bride’s parents can’t (it would seem) give a portion or pay for a specific item and groom’s parents cannot ever cover the entire party.

That’s interesting.

But this whole thing of setting the budget and then asking the parents (no matter whose, in what order, or expecting what degree of return on the demand) how much they’re going to give you… yeah, that’s a situation I’ve gone on record before as considering a Very Bad and Very Tacky idea unlikely to end in anything but badness.

My take? Unless one or both sets of parents choose to make an offer of funds for your wedding, it’s better to assume you’re the ones holding the ball. Set your budget based on what you can afford and consider further money a windfall rather than a birthright. If and when you are offered financial aid from parents, mentors, or random folks in the street, find out what strings may be attached before accepting and make your decision according to whether you can live with them.

Oh, and if one side can offer a lot more money than the other side, do your best to avoid specific discussion of who paid for what. It’s the tactful thing to do.

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Tune Me Up http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/08/tune-me-up/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/08/tune-me-up/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 17:23:02 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12019

Regular and thoughtful reader srah wanted some ideas for picking the processional and recessional for her upcoming wedding. Well, srah, I’ve got a few thoughts not on what specifically you should choose, but on how to choose something that will make you and your intended all kinds of happy.

When the classic original version of Father of the Bride was made in 1950 (see, I worked in the illustration in the end), there was no question what music would play as Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor processed up the aisle for her wedding. Wagner’s wedding march for going up the aisle, Mendelssohn on the way back down again.

Both of those tunes still get heavy play at weddings, and why not? They’re traditional, they fulfill people’s expectations, and a lot of people love them.

But not everyone wants to do the expected. Not everyone loves those tunes. Some of us remember how that marriage that started with Wagner’s march ended. For those who aren’t rabid opera fans, here’s a hint: it sure ain’t a happy story.

Besides, there’s a whole world of music that can be used for these important walks. Why limit yourself to two tunes that may or may not mean anything to you at all? And how do you choose between all the possibilities?

That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.

Before you sit down and listen to every song in the world, which, frankly, you don’t have time to do, anyway, you need to think about a couple things.

What mood do you wish to create with your music? Are you looking for regal dignity or something more casual? The general tendency is to use something more stately and slow for the entrance and something more festive for the exit. Some popular choices for the processional in recent years have been: the Star Wars theme, Al Last by Etta James, and Pachelbel’s Canon in D. On the other hand, one of the prettiest processionals I’ve witnessed in many a year was done to a classical guitar version of And I Love Her by The Beatles. I walked up the aisle to a traditional bagpipe tune called Highland Wedding. All of these create that feeling of something important about to happen. But if that’s not the feel you want, then there’s no need to stick strictly to the script. You might want to use something like Going to the Chapel or Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs. It’s okay to make it sound eager rather than momentous.

I would, however, make sure to re-watch Muriel’s Wedding before choosing something by ABBA. I’m just saying.

On the way back down the aisle, I’ve heard a lot of great tunes. Whether you choose a classic like Mendelssohn, a more currently popular tune like Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder, or something quirkier, the general feeling is that the feel should be celebratory, and I tend to think this is a good idea. You’re building the mood of your reception with the recessional, as well as ending the ceremony. If you want your guests to party, you need to put them in a party mood. This is where it begins, even if the reception is in another place or even if it starts later on.

If you’re marrying in a place of worship, do be sure to ask if there are any restrictions on the music you can use. Some churches are down with you playing nearly anything. Others will only allow liturgical/religious music. Most fall somewhere in between. They’ll allow secular music, but might want approval or may have a list of approved tunes. Check on the question before you make any firm decisions.

Listen to lyrics. There are a lot of people who never notice lyrics, but they do matter. I will never forget (in a bad way) the wedding where the groom and his attendants entered the church to Send In the Clowns from A Little Night Music. Not only is title a sad commentary to make on what you think of the groom and his friends, the song is sung by a woman who is bewildered by the end of her love affair. There was an episode of Whose Wedding is This, Anyway? where the bride insisted on the groom walking down the aisle to Lynard Skynard’s Free Bird… a song about a man who is leaving his lady because he will not be tied down.

Pay a little attention to the message you’re sending the world with your choices. Think about whether the lyrics will be offensive to your guests or make them giggle inappropriately.

Most of all, choose something that means something to you as a couple. A few months ago, I attended a wedding where all the ceremony music was taken from Dr. Who and Torchwood. Why? Because the couple getting married were huge Whovians. They also made the truly awesome move of playing songs connected with all their favorite cartoons (Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Flintstones, Underdog, and a dozen other classics) during the cocktail hour. Don’t worry about whether the tunes you choose are popular or not. Don’t concern yourself with the question of whether anyone else will understand. Those who know you best will get it. Anyone who doesn’t, well, they’ll simply be confused for a couple minutes in the middle of a happy event. They’ll live.

Besides, in the words of the old, old song:

It’s alright now
I’ve learned my lesson well
You see you can’t please everyone
So you’ve got to please yourself

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Going To the Courthouse and We’re Gonna Get Married http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/05/going-to-the-courthouse-and-were-gonna-get-married/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/05/going-to-the-courthouse-and-were-gonna-get-married/#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2012 18:20:40 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=12008

Reader Elaine asks:

Can you put together a post with some suggestions of how to make a Justice of the Peace or courthouse marriage a little more special? That would be great (and timely)!

First off, congratulations and best wishes, Elaine, to you and your intended! May your wedding kick off a long and happy marriage.

Now, about that kickoff.

There are plenty of good reasons to choose a courthouse ceremony or one where you go to the JP instead of bringing one to you. It’s fast, it’s inexpensive, it’s fuss-free (or nearly so), and the list goes on. Once you’ve got the marriage license and the appointment, you’re pretty much set as far as the practicalities go.

But you’re looking for more than bare bones, which is what these venues tend to offer. So let’s take a look at what you can do to cover them bones.

My first piece of advice is simple enough: dress up.

When you head to the courthouse, you can wear whatever you like from concert tees and Daisy Dukes to a full on wedding gown with cathedral length train and miles of veil. But the best look for a courthouse wedding is something in between. My recommendation? A short or tea-length dress or suit in the color of your choice. Make it something a little special, but don’t wear something that looks so out of place it makes the whole experience a bit dreary by comparison.

Some great ideas of how to do it right can be found here, and here, and here.

Once you’ve picked a dress or suit, do something fabulous up top, too. Whether it’s a really great hat, a funky fascinator, a sparkly jewel, a wreath of flowers, or an adorable birdcage veil, something nice on your head adds a little gravitas and a sense of occasion to the moment. Also, great shoes can do the same for many women. Don’t fear spectacular footwear.

In addition to great clothes, do try to have some flowers. A simple bouquet or a pretty corsage can do a lot to bring the festivity.

Of course, you don’t have a lot of room for personalization in a courthouse wedding when it comes to decoration. The room looks like it looks and that’s that. You can’t bring in your own swags and floral arrangements and carefully crafted centerpieces.

On the other hand, you can always check and see if there’s a spot on site other than the judge’s chambers or the actual courtroom that you can use.

The one courthouse wedding I personally witnessed, well, I was doing my Civic Duty on a jury. When we were given a break for lunch, we discovered a wedding happening in the courtyard of the courthouse. The couple had their witnesses with them, but looked genuinely pleased when we cheered for them from the balcony above. I like to think we added to the occasion.

Before you make too many plans about wedding trappings, though, do check on what you can and cannot do. It may be that one county will allow you something another might not. Or one judge may be more willing to work with you for festivity’s sake than another. In general, though, resign yourself to no music, no decorations, no large wedding parties, and no long ceremony. Let go of them in your heart and play with what you can. for instance, many judges and JPs will allow you to write your own vows.

Most of all, don’t just exchange rings and kisses and head back to your workaday life. Go out for a nice meal with your witnesses, or have a reception for your friends in the evening. Do something special to mark the occasion. I don’t care whether it’s heading off to play in an amusement park in your wedding finery, or taking a wine tasting tour, or holding an epic role playing game session. Just find something that is your idea of real fun and do it.

After all, you just got married!

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Quickie Question: Best Advice? Worst Advice? http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/02/quickie-question-best-advice-worst-advice/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/10/02/quickie-question-best-advice-worst-advice/#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2012 17:36:13 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=11994
When you’re getting married, there’s one thing there’s no shortage of: advice.

From magazines and TV shows to old friends to business associates to random strangers in the street, everyone’s got an opinion on the right and wrong way to do things. And the sight of an engagement ring or that Google search you did on local venues is enough to make most of them think you want to hear their opinion.

You’ll find a lot of chaff among the wheat. I have known people who were advised to avoid things that mattered to them or have things they can’t stand. I was personally advised that my marriage would be doomed if it wasn’t performed by a clergyperson… never mind that I was an atheist and Mr. Twistie was more of a teetering agnostic. Nineteen years later, we still don’t believe in or follow any organized religion and spend little time worrying about an afterlife. Also? We’re still very much happily married. My feeling is that shared beliefs, or at minimum a strong understanding of and respect for differing beliefs is a lot more important than what the specific beliefs are.

I was also advised variously to have a cash bar (I don’t charge my friends for drinks at my party), ignore the needs of known vegetarians coming to my wedding (which, as it happens, included the Matron of Honor and her husband), make Mr. Twistie have a wedding ring and force him to wear it to prove he’s married, and to hire a DJ to play out in the woods with no electricity source because it’s less hassle than a live band.

Yeah, those things were not happening.

But among all that chaff, there really was some wheat to be found, too.

The three best pieces of advice I got were:

1) Keep your sense of humor handy.
2) Something will go wrong, but it’s only a disaster if you let it be one.
3) Remember that there will be other, better days in the future.

What about all of you? Have you gotten a particularly ghastly piece of advice? One that might be good if you were having a very different wedding? One that was truly helpful?

Tell me all about it!

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It’s Okay To Enjoy This http://manolobrides.com/2012/09/28/its-okay-to-enjoy-this/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/09/28/its-okay-to-enjoy-this/#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2012 15:34:08 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=11977

As I was meandering the wedding blogs, I ran across this entry at A Practical Wedding and realized that I know precisely how this lady felt.

Sometimes between the Wedding Industrial Complex and the Strip It All Down Gang, it can be hard to strike a balance between not going broke and admitting you’d like something that resembles the sort of wedding you’ve been dreaming of, even if it doesn’t involve mason jars in a field.

But the truth is you’re the ones getting married. You’re the ones who are going to look back at the photos and you’re the ones who have to love what you do.

Planning a wedding isn’t an easy thing, necessarily. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of things turn out to have hidden meanings for a lot of people. And yes, there will be times when you probably get extremely frustrated with some aspect or another of the work involved. It isn’t always fun.

But if you aren’t enjoying any of it, if it is making you frustrated all the time or if you begin to think one more mention of signature drinks or orders of ceremony will make you explode… then it’s time to take a good, long look at what you’re doing and why.

Because the truth is that this should mostly be a happy time. This should mostly be a happy process. If it is constantly making you crazy or unhappy, then you’re not doing it the right way for you.

Finding your way may wind up annoying or upsetting or just plain confusing other people. But you know what? That’s okay, too. Why? because you’re the one getting married, not them. Let them find their own way when the time comes or have their fond memories of how they did it. You don’t have to apologize for choosing to go glam or hire a planner to do most of the work or spend weeks making fiddly bits to go in mason jars in your field of dreams.

If you have the money, the time, and the will to do it that way – whatever way that is – then you go right ahead and do it.

Why? Because this is how you want to do it. Because this is how you will get the maximum enjoyment out of the process. And this is how you will be as relaxed as possible when the moment comes to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So enjoy… your way.

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Getting As Close As You Can to What You Want http://manolobrides.com/2012/09/25/getting-as-close-as-you-can-to-what-you-want/ http://manolobrides.com/2012/09/25/getting-as-close-as-you-can-to-what-you-want/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 18:22:29 +0000 http://manolobrides.com/?p=11959 There are times in the wild and wooly roller coaster ride known as wedding planning when finding the sweet spot between what you want, what you can afford, and how much things cost can feel a bit like this:

Or even this:

Frankly, it’s not easy to find a balance, and the tighter your budget the smaller the window you have to try to fit through.

Still there are things you can do, both in allocating your funds well and in vendor negotiation, that will help you wriggle through with a minimum of misery, embarrassment, and red ink. Read on to find out what to do… and what not to do.

The first thing you need to do is prioritize. Figure out what you need no matter what, and where you can let go of an expense or three. Decide what’s most important to you and figure on spending your money there.

For Mr. Twistie and me, the things that got top priority were the venue, the music, and the food. After that, we figured everything could take a hit to the budget and we wouldn’t worry that much. But I was completely in love with the space, we’re both all about the live music, and we didn’t want anyone at all going home hungry.

After that, we looked for extra-good deals on things that didn’t matter as much to us, like flowers, decorations, invitations, and favors.

Your priorities may (and quite possibly will) be different from ours, but that gives you a good idea of the number of priorities you can safely have while working on a nearly nonexistent budget. We. Were. Broke.

Once you know what your priorities are, it’s time to figure out what you don’t need at all. If you don’t care about chair covers, frankly, that’s not something that’s going to make or break your wedding for most guests. If they don’t fit in the budget, forget that they exist. This one is really hard for a lot of couples. They get pressure to have the chair covers, give out favors, have fifteen different printed items for guests to take at the big event, and do a lot of other little touches that add up to a lot of bucks. Fail to bow to the pressure or find less expensive ways of compromising with your friends and families.

For instance, your parents may think everyone needs their own individual menu at the reception before dinner comes around. You may think this is a waste of your precious bridal bucks. But maybe you can save most of that money and your parents can still be satisfied if you have one menu per table, or have one large menu printed up and displayed nicely somewhere instead. Where possible, find middle ground everyone can live with… especially if you want a good relationship with those on the other side after the wedding is over.

While sourcing wedding items, remember that just because you are dealing with a particular aspect at the moment, that doesn’t make it an overall priority. It’s easy to think that since you’re dealing with invitations right now, they are the priority and so you should get the most expensive ones because they’re the nicest. And yes, nice invitations are great. But are they a priority in the wedding or merely in the moment? The priority of the moment is what you’re working on right now, but if it’s not a priority for the entire wedding, stick to your budget guns and don’t get sucked into how pretty the more expensive one is. Choose something you can afford. Nobody’s wedding was destroyed because they had the carnations they could fit in the budget rather than the roses others expected.

Get creative in your sourcing. Remember, you don’t have to shop somewhere that includes ‘wedding’ or ‘bridal’ in the name just because it’s for your wedding. Think carefully about whether there are other places you can get what you need for less. Now is the time to figure out if a couple well-considered DIY projects will save you cash while adding to the individuality of your wedding.

When it comes to vendors, there’s only so much you can do. The first thing to do is your research. Ask friends or co-workers who’ve recently married who they used and what their experience was like. Check out reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List to see what other recent customers have to say. Take a look at the vendor’s website to make sure you like the general direction of the work beforehand and see if you can get a sense of the pricing. Remember, the better the vendor, the more likely you are to have to pay top dollar to get them.

Once you’ve whittled your list down to two or three candidates to interview, make a list of the questions you want to ask in advance. Really think about what you want and how much you’re willing to pay. And remember, the price of the raw materials will not be the entire cost of the finished product. You are also paying for time, talent, any other staff members, and the convenience of having someone else do the work. Don’t just look up what hydrangeas cost at the wholesale warehouse and expect the bouquet to cost that. Recognize the difference between a grocery store bakery and one that’s run by an individual pastry chef and cake artist.

During the interview, don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything that can be done to sweeten the pot… but don’t let it phase you if the answer is no. If you don’t ask about possible discounts and extra goodies, they won’t happen, but asking for them does not guarantee that they will be forthcoming, either. If you buy the more expensive gown, the salon might throw in an inexpensive veil for free… and they might not. If you go for the higher priced fish dish, the caterer may or may not add an extra appetizer for your cocktail hour.

Oh, and that’s the other thing: these extras and freebies generally come only when you agree to something that spirals your budget higher or when you take something off the vendor’s hands they really need to move. When the stars align properly, it’s a beautiful thing. Thing is, it doesn’t happen automatically just because you showed up.

Most of all, when you ask about pot sweeteners be as nice as possible about it. There’s nothing that makes discounts and freebies go away faster than asking for them like you are entitled to them… unless it’s making an active threat. Don’t do that. Not that any of you would. It’s just I’ve seen it so often on Bridezillas that part of me is getting slowly brainwashed by the dominant cultural paradigm about getting married. I’m fighting it, really I am.

In the longrun, the goal is to have the nicest celebration you can on the budget you have. It doesn’t matter whether that celebration is going to cost a hundred dollars or a hundred thousand. What you have is what you have, and spending it thoughtfully is always a good idea.

Do it right, and the result will be relationships that look like this:

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