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.
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.]]>
After all, a scorcher of a day is not only uncomfortable for the people saying ‘I do’ but their friends and families as well. High mercury can lead to high tempers and short fuses. You don’t want fights breaking out because of heat-related misery and you certainly don’t want anyone – including you! – to suffer from heat prostration.
What to do to keep everyone as cool as you can? Read on and find out.
The first thing to do is to double check whether the space you’re using can be adequately cooled. If it’s indoors, ask for a demonstration of the air conditioning. If there is none, or if it’s obnoxiously loud, discuss the matter with the hall management to see what can be done. If you’re out of doors… Mother Nature doesn’t usually talk to you about it, she just does what she’s going to do and you need to prepare on your own. But a few good shade trees here and there will help matters tremendously, as would a covered porch.
If your wedding is being held in a traditionally warm month, accessorize for it. Fans and parasols are romantic, pretty alternatives to bouquets for bridesmaids or even the bride herself. If you’re marrying out of doors, consider picture hats for the ladies in the bridal party. Pretty sandals will allow feet to breathe. As for the guys, matching vests might be more comfortable than full jackets. Keep the fabrics light in both weave and color.
Keep the cold non-alcoholic drinks flowing. Heat dehydrates. Alcohol dehydrates. It doesn’t matter how cold you keep your champagne and beer, at some point people need to drink something else. So make sure there’s something else to drink, and make it attractive. Pretty pitchers of lemonade, big glass jars of agua fresca, perfectly chilled glasses of ice water, an Italian soda bar, or metal buckets full of ice chilling old fashioned glass bottles of milk will all encourage people to mix it up a little.
Heat also drains people of salt, which can lead to disaster. So make sure there are some salty snacks around the room. Tortilla chips and fresh guacamole, bowls of mixed nuts, dishes of briny olives or piquant sour pickles, cheese plates featuring feta or Parmesan… do what it takes to get people consuming salty goodness.
Offer fans as favors. If people can keep the air circulating around them, it’s a good thing. If they’re pretty enough to keep, it’s a really nice gesture.
You know how some brides put together emergency baskets in the bathrooms with things like tampons, pain relievers, breath mints, and bandages for guests with a sudden need? Consider putting out a similar hot weather kit either in the restrooms or just around the reception space. Put in cheap folding fans, sunscreen if you’re out of doors, cooling pre-moistened towelettes, and a bit of aloe in case someone burns before they notice it.
If it’s appropriate in the space you’ve chosen, have a couple shallow kiddie pools with some ice water and encourage overheated guests to take off their shoes and wallow for a minute or two. Or rent a mister and place it strategically so guests who are suffering can go stand in a very light spray of cool water.
Weddings are fun at all times of year… but every season brings its own challenges to the event. An ounce of prevention is a heck of a lot better than an ambulance carrying away a guest with heat stroke. Keep it safe and sane this summer!]]>
Still, two boys who met and became good friends. For years they were quite close.
Alas! Over the years they eventually drifted apart. It wasn’t any one thing or on purpose, but it happened nonetheless. Still, they never forgot one another.
Well, a few weeks ago, Mr. Twistie and his childhood friend found one another again on Facebook… and it turned out John was about to get married.
And so it was that yesterday Mr. Twistie and I repaired to the Benicia Clock Tower to attend our first ever steampunk wedding.
The setting was great. Plenty of parking, a bit of history (the tower was built in 1859), and plenty of atmosphere. Guests were encouraged to wear steampunk or Victorian attire, and many did so, adding to the unique look and feel. Goggles, leather, gears, bustles, and fabulous hats abounded. Yes, Mr. Twistie and I dressed in the spirit of the event. His frock coat and my random velvet pieces fit right in.
The groom wore a festive and elegant brocade waistcoat… with a TARDIS on the back. For the ceremony, he added a spectacularly detailed recreation of Captain Jack Harkness’ greatcoat.
The bride wore an elegant Victorian gown in the style of the bustle era in a lovely shade of soft blue grey. Her bouquet even had a special story behind it. Several years ago, a good friend of the bride organized her friends to send her special beads and notes of encouragement for her birthday. The intent was that she would make up these various beads into a necklace. Then, as it happened, she met John and the necklace never actually got made. Instead, she carried all the beads as part of her bouquet.
The personalities of both partners were in clear evidence throughout the celebration. From their officiant dressed as the Eleventh Doctor (Though sadly, without a fez. Fezzes are cool), to the Dr. Who music played before the ceremony to vowing ‘as you wish’ instead of ‘I do’, to the Back to the Future Overture used as the recessional, everything was quirky and meaningful to them.
The personal touches continued throughout the afternoon. The buffet meal was mostly made up of recipes from the groom’s grandmother and cooked by the groom’s daughter. Recipes were available for those interested. You can bet I was interested! I can’t wait to try making that artichoke, ricotta pie!
Oh, and Mr. Twistie and I were delighted to find the music during the meal was made up mostly of songs and tunes from cartoons of our childhood. The Speed Racer theme, Josie and the Pussycats, the Underdog theme… yeah, we took a little trip back in time. It also gave us an opportunity to bond with a couple at the next table over Bullwinkle trivia.
Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, the groom’s father passed on. It was a big blow to everyone involved. I’m not normally a big fan of terribly overt tributes to the dead at weddings, but in this case, something really did need to be done and said. And yes, again, it was handled with grace, and even with some joy. A group of his friends sat at a special table, and there was a dance in his honor where everyone was encouraged to join in.
There was also a fabulous practical idea that I would love to see at more weddings. The self-serve bar of sodas and juice drinks were placed in shallow blow-up wading pools filled with ice! Now that was a great idea!
The theme of the wedding as printed on the programs was ‘Well and Truly, Pure and Simple.’ I can think of no better description of the day. This was a joyful celebration from the heart, everything was simple and pure.
I’m glad Mr. Twistie found his friend again. I’m honored to have been included in the warmth of this wonderful couple’s wedding.
John and Cat, may you share many happy years together. And may Mr. Twistie and I always have a corner to share in that world.]]>
In short, even a lot of people who admired the commitment these couples made to living lightly on Mother Earth wouldn’t be caught dead in a ditch looking – or smelling – like them.
But times have changed. You don’t have to be a card-carrying hippie to care about the environment anymore. and you don’t have to completely reject both tradition and fashion to follow your convictions.
To start with, think about decorations that are consumable. For instance, the centerpiece on this reception table not only looks gorgeous, but feeds your guests at the same time. Bowls of fresh fruit, small platters of appetizers, pretty jugs or pitchers of beverages, candies, or even an attractive cake for the table’s dessert… any of these things will look fabulous, taste great, and save on your budget for fresh flowers and non-organic decorations.
Alternately, consider putting live plants in pretty pots on the tables for decoration.
Really consider how many paper goods you need… and forget about the rest.
Yes, you’ll need invitations and RSVP cards. You’ll need thank you cards of some sort. But think hard about whether you really need ceremony programs. Decide whether you would rather have your guests decide their own seating, eliminating the need for place cards. As for menus, doing without entirely, making only one per table to be shared, or setting up an attractive chalk board for the whole room are all viable alternatives to one at each place at each table.
Oh, and never forget that you can find invitations and all the rest printed on recycled paper.
Second hand doesn’t have to be second best. Maybe someone close to you has the most gorgeous wedding gown just hanging in her closet. Maybe you find a fabulous veil in a consignment shop. Perhaps your aunt has some serving pieces she’s ready to let go. You might even find the perfect ring pillow in a garage sale. Why let these wonderful things go to waste? Give them a home and a second chance.
Remember to check for natural fibers. Cotton, linen, silk, and wool are natural fibers. Rayon is a synthetic fiber made of natural materials. Nylon, polyester, acetate, and so on are not natural fibers by any definition. If you’re going green, synthetic fibers are not what you’re looking for… though if they’re being re-used I won’t tell anyone!
If you have leftovers left over, try to find a green way of disposing of them. In some cases, you may be able to donate leftover food to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. If your meal won’t meet the legal requirements, then set out Chinese takeout boxes and invite your guests to take some food home with them. Mr. Twistie and I did this one (though I wish I had thought of the boxes at the time!), and it was a big hit. In fact, we’d seriously overbought food for fear of people leaving hungry, and a couple of our friends lived on leftovers from our wedding for days afterwards.
Keep it real, my friends… but feel free to forget about patchouli and incense. Unless that’s your bag, man.]]>
Dessert tables are expected to continue to be a big deal in weddings. Variety is the spice of life, and a wonderful way to end a reception meal.
A further wrinkle on this trend that’s on the rise for parties that last late into the night is a second spread of snacks offered to guests on their way out. Doughnuts, cookies, sliders, coffee and cocoa… this is the chance to offer up a tasty final gift to your guests.
Alternatives to flowers are another trend on the rise. Paper, brooches, fabric, feathers… if it can substitute for flowers, someone’s using it. This is a great trend if you’re dealing with allergies or want to DIY your bouquets and centerpieces over time. But real flowers are hardly going anywhere.
More brides have been doing DIY projects for their weddings, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. Whether it’s to save money, add uniquely personal touches, or honor a family tradition, using your own hands to put at least a couple pieces of your wedding together can be tremendously satisfying.
Green is clearly the way to go in the coming year. From invitations of recycled paper to living plant centerpieces, to packets of wildflower seeds as favors, brides and grooms everywhere are getting eco-friendly and loving it.
More weddings than ever are happening in the great outdoors. Whether it’s a garden, a beach, the woods, couples are choosing the sky as the ceiling they prefer. As someone who had an outdoor wedding and loved it, I say go for it… just make sure you have a backup plan in case of inclement weather.
Of course trends are fun, but never follow one if it feels wrong to you. You should do what matters to you.]]>
Oh, and if your cake isn’t going to be either round or square, don’t panic! They include equally handy guides for tiers shaped like hearts, flowers, ovals, and paisley, too.
If you’re the one baking your own cake (or you’re giving the job to someone close to you who is a great baker but hasn’t done this level of work before), you can also find great tips on the site for how to construct, decorate, display, and even transport this all-important confectionary creation to your reception site.
There is a section of recipes, but I have to say they didn’t impress me much. Frankly, I would look elsewhere.
But if you need to find a speciality pan, pastry bags and decorating tips, or display items to get you going, Wilton is a great place to start.]]>
But after all of this effort, you really don’t want to spend your wedding night getting plastered. Well, maybe you do, but if that’s the case, just move along, nothing to see here. If, on the other hand, you have concerns about overdoing the festivities and don’t like that idea, just follow me after the cut for some sage advice on how to have a great time but still keep your head at your wedding.
My first piece of advice is this: be sure to eat on your wedding day. Seriously, this is probably the number one reason brides and grooms wind up overdoing the bubbly and spending more of the night fighting to get at the porcelain god than enjoying their first night of marital bliss.
Many brides and grooms are terribly nervous, come the big day. Whether it’s concern about something going wrong, cold feet, or simple stage fright, it’s easy to let those nerves make you think you can’t keep anything solid down. And then all too often, members of the bridal party are right there telling you nothing relieves the jitters and settles the tummy better than a glass of bubbly.
If you’re concerned that nerves might make you less than hungry, deputize someone to feed you on your wedding day. Talk to them beforehand about what sorts of food you think you might be able to handle in a crisis.
Remember, an empty stomach only makes the alcohol hit your system faster, and that means it takes a lot less for you to hit the floor.
Find another way to relax other than drinking. Drinking does relax people. It’s a depressant. That’s what depressants do. And in moderation, it’s good, clean fun that the whole adult family can enjoy. But it’s a depressant with consequences… you know, like most depressants. So if you can find a way of avoiding the stress or reducing it in a way that doesn’t involve alcohol, you won’t find yourself reaching quite as eagerly for the bottle and have a better chance of staying in control. So look for something like a breathing exercise, or something thing useful you can be doing with your hands. Go for a run before you have to get ready, or mentally calculate what the Titanic would have weighed had it been made of balsa wood. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, so long as it is something that relaxes you.
Be certain there are drinks at your reception that don’t include alcohol. This is just good advice, anyway. After all, chances are there’s someone on your guest list who either doesn’t drink or does so quite abstemiously. And if people have the option to drink less booze, well, that can save on the catering bill as well as making it that much less likely that anyone will overindulge. So do mix your drinks. Have a glass of champagne, and then make the next one fruit juice or water.
Remember, alcohol can contribute to dehydration… which makes you thirstier, which makes you drink more and makes the alcohol hit harder. Mixing it up with non-alcoholic drinks keeps you hydrated, which reduces your need for more drinks.
Have a receiving line. This is not only excellent etiquette, it’s also a helpful way of making sure you get to sit down and eat your reception meal rather than spending the dinner hour going from table to table and hunting down stragglers you missed. Remember, it’s just as important to eat at the reception as it is before the ceremony.
Look, everybody overindulges in something sometime. It’s not the end of the world if you do get tipsy at your own wedding. If it happens, try not to dwell. Let it go and go on with your life.
But if one ounce of this prevention keeps you from needing bail money on your wedding night… that’s a heck of a lot better than a cure!
On the Amy Atlas Events blog, Amy herself shares a few tips and tricks that will help the DIYers out there create an incredible dessert buffet. Speaking as someone who recently discovered that she likes designing the look and feel of events, I’d wager that something like a candy buffet or dessert buffet would be a relatively simple project. Much less stressful than, say, baking a wedding cake or sewing a wedding dress.
*my drug of choice]]>
The two episodes I watched last night were particularly interesting to me, in that they included some really brilliant and some really, really questionable ideas. Take a look after the cut to see what I’m talking about.
Good idea #1: The milk and cookie bar. One of the couples last night featured a bride of nineteen summers and her groom who was only eighteen. I’m not getting into whether it’s a good or a bad idea to marry that young. It’s legal and everyone around them seemed down with the idea. The thing is, they were both too young to drink alcohol. Most of their friends were too young to drink. They were also holding their reception in the church hall, where alcohol may not have been permitted no matter what the age of the couple involved. So these wacky kids on a half a shoestring budget got creative and put together a milk and cookies bar.
Friends and family baked chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and at least half a dozen other kinds of cookies. These were put in glass jars and stacked on platters with prettily lettered labels to identify them for everyone. Then there were big glass bottles of milk nestled in ice in large metal pails. And then there were the flavorings. Guests could have chocolate or strawberry flavored powder or they could take it straight. The bride and groom even toasted with milk.
If you’re having a dry reception and want to remember those innocent milk and cookies days, or if you’re having a lot of kids at your wedding and want an attractive way of keeping them away from the champagne, this is a fun, festive, relatively inexpensive way of handling the situation.
Bad Idea #1: Don’t have your groom do a striptease at the reception… not even if he used to be a star dancer for Chippendale’s. No, really, this happened. I know it was his fourth wedding, and I know that even at 53 the dude’s still got a smokin’ body (really, I would have felt pretty certain of that even if he hadn’t started tearing his clothes off and grinding his package two inches from the bride’s face), but this is one of the very few things that get a flat-out No Freaking Way In Hades! from me. Save the private dancer routine for the bridal suite, folks.
Good Idea #2: Combine colorful touches from your backgrounds… and don’t be afraid to use ideas from both sides if your backgrounds are different. One of last night’s brides was of an Indian heritage and her groom was Latino. It was an event combining saris and sombreros. She was decked out in full Hindu glory. In the Indian tradition, the groom usually arrives at the ceremony at the head of a parade of family and friends and mounted on a white pony. This gentleman headed the parade on his beloved motorcycle. The reception featured tortillas and goat curry on the menu. There was a mariachi band and men doing rope tricks. All in all, it was a party I wanted to be enjoying up close and personal.
Bad Idea #2: One bride had food stations at her reception. Unfortunately, she had just two and she placed them right next to one another so that getting food wound up requiring getting in one huge line. Food stations are a great idea if you’re doing buffet-style service, but do make sure they’re spread out so the lines aren’t too long.
Good idea #3: One bride provided a double-decker bus tour between the ceremony and reception. If your ceremony venue and reception venue are a significant distance apart, consider providing some form of fun transportation if it will fit into your budget. This one also took care of the dreaded question of what to do with guests while the bride and groom are being photographed from every conceivable angle.
Good Idea #4: If you’ve got kids, include them in the proceedings. Two of the brides last night had children – one had three daughters from a previous marriage while the other had a toddler son with her groom – and both brides included their kids. The one with the three daughters made the oldest her MOH and the younger two her flower girls. The one with the little boy made him her ring bearer. The little ring bearer did go running in the wrong direction at one point, but once shown where Daddy was standing raced his little legs off down the aisle until his dad could scoop him up in his arms and hold him through the ceremony. It doesn’t get more personal than this, folks.
And a Cautionary Tale. One bride had a lovely outdoor ceremony on a waterfront, followed immediately by an outdoor cocktail hour at dusk. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody had checked out the insect situation. The champagne was set up directly behind a nest of fire ants, and as the sun set the gnats came out in droves. That single detail is no doubt why she wound up in fourth place out of four.
I love an outdoor wedding, heck I had one myself! But do be sure to investigate what kinds of bugs gather where you’re having your big event and proceed thoughtfully.]]>
Oh I know it’s a bright, aggressive color. I know a little can go a long way. I also know it goes with and brings out the best in a wide variety of colors. I also know it’s a wonderful color for a happy celebration like a wedding.
Not convinced? Take a look under the cut at the cheery gallery of orange wedding details I’ve put together. Please note that there is not a single one that looks like Halloween.
Flowers are an obvious place to start with any color, and orange is no exception. They can be dramatic, or they can be relaxed and sweetly old-fashioned.
The right invitation sets the tone for the entire wedding.
Of course, the decoration at the wedding site itself is a great place to play with color.
So are the reception tables,
and the cake table.
Don’t forget the wedding party!
Of course, my mother always said a good pair of orange shoes will carry you anywhere in style. Looking at these, I do believe she was right. Just imagine them peeping out from under your wedding gown, and see if you don’t agree with good old mom.