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.]]>
Is there anything wrong with that? Not really. It’s all edible, it’s all reasonably safe. Done well it can even be quite delicious. But is it truly what you want to serve?
I think that’s a question that just doesn’t get asked enough in bridal circles. You go to have a tasting with the caterer, and chances are you’ll be offered a red meat option, a chicken or fish option, and – if you ask for one – a vegetarian option. The meat will have sauce. The vegetables will be the currently popular ones. The veggie option will almost inevitably be pasta based.
Again, nothing wrong with that. I’ve eaten dozens of such meals and lived to tell the tale. But what if it doesn’t meet your needs or your tastes?
Before you accept the expected, sit down and think about how you want to feed your guests. Really consider whether you want to serve standard options or whether you want to do something else. After all, if you’re committed vegetarians, do you really want to serve meat at your wedding? Are you a carnivore who believes your vegetarian friends deserve more than a stuffed mushroom and some tomato-sauced penne for dinner? Is there nothing you hate more in life than steaks and chicken breasts, but nothing you love more than cheeseburgers? Do you fear losing your foodie rep if you serve the same old, same old? Do you hail from a cultural background where the old standards of USAian wedding food would cause nothing but confusion and consternation from your family and guests?
And if you decide the standard is not for you… what the heck do you do next?
First off, don’t panic. This isn’t the end of the world and you’re not the first couple to opt out of the average.
Next, discuss together how you’re going to explain your needs and desires to prospective caterers. You should ideally figure this out before you have a caterer or are locked into a particular vendor by your choice of reception venue. Be ready with specifics when interviewing caterers. Don’t just say ‘we want something different for vegetarians.’ Give a direction you’re thinking about. Make sure you’ve done enough research – if you’re not already conversant with food/cooking terms – to be able to express your thoughts in terms they’ll understand. If you want a traditional ethnic dish the caterer may not be familiar with, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a sample recipe from Grandma or Epicurious.com.
Keep your ears and mind open. After all, just because it’s what you want doesn’t necessarily mean it can be done. Some foods just can’t be successfully done on a large scale, and some foods are possible but not the most practical. You may hear no more often than you wish. But the right caterer will not only be able to tell you what doesn’t work, they’ll be able to tell you why. They’ll also do their best to come up with something that will work that takes your desires into consideration. One who says he doesn’t see his way to keeping sushi platters safe for the buffet you want, but can suggest a couple rolls that can be taken around as passed appetizers is a caterer who is trying to work with you. One who says ‘nobody eats sushi at weddings, but I make a great meatball’ isn’t listening to you. Be ready to make reasonable compromises, but don’t compromise your entire vision without a really good reason. Be ready to hear when your catering candidate has a great idea you hadn’t thought of.
Think about your guests’ comfort. In a recent episode of Four Weddings, one bride had an Afghan heritage. She served mostly Afghan food in the buffet. All well and good, but the groom’s side of the guest list did not have an Afghan heritage and none of the guest brides had ever eaten Afghan food, either. Me? I love the Afghan food I’ve eaten. But not everyone is familiar, not everyone is adventurous, and not everyone is willing to risk anything from allergic reaction to simply disliking the food. If you’re serving food your guests probably haven’t eaten before, make sure to give them fair warning of what it is and seriously consider offering an option they’re more likely to be comfortable with.
Recognize that no matter how hard you try, someone won’t care for the food at your wedding. It’s true. You can come up with the most thoughtful menu, the most inspired caterer to prepare it, the absolute perfect conditions for the food to be prepared in, and the ideal day to serve it all… and someone won’t like something. Try not to take it personally. I went to a wedding once where the bride was a professional chef. The food was amazing, but I still didn’t even try the mushroom risotto. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust that it would be top quality. It wasn’t that I had any health concerns. It’s just that I’ve tried enough mushrooms in my life prepared in enough different ways to know that I never want to put another mushroom in my mouth ever again. I stuck with the things I liked, and I tried a couple things I hadn’t eaten before. Everyone said the risotto was fantastic, and I absolutely believe them. But I still didn’t eat it. And I’m sure someone passed on the roast suckling pig because they were vegetarian, or because they aren’t pork fans, or because looking at a whole roast piggie freaked them out. You do your best, and then you let people decide what they will and won’t eat on their own.
Most of all, relax and have fun with this. Keep a sense of humor and look on it as an adventure. Coming up with a good menu that makes you truly happy can be one of the best parts of planning a wedding, if you let it.
Play with your food!]]>
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!]]>
When it comes to celebrity couples, it’s kind of amazing what people will consider collectible.
Take, for instance, the odd collectible from the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Thirty one years ago, on the day the royal couple took their wedding vows, the prince did not finish his breakfast. One Rosemarie Smith, now eighty-three, was visiting her daughter who worked as a maid at the palace. One of the daughter’s jobs was to clear away the prince’s breakfast tray. Smith snatched up the uneaten toast and has kept it preserved in a Royal Crown Derby teacup ever since.
For a long time, it was just Smith’s little personal keepsake. Recently, however, with the marriage of Prince William and the Queen’s diamond jubilee, she thought Prince Charles’ wedding toast might be worth something.
“I just wandered into the auctioneers out of curiosity and asked them if it was worth anything. I was pleasantly surprised to hear them agree with me that it could be of quite some value to Royal collectors.”
In fact, when it goes on the auction block, the royal toast is expected to fetch somewhere in the vicinity of five hundred pounds sterling. That’s close to eight hundred smackers in American money.
Me? I think I’ll make some fresh toast.]]>
But what the holy heck are you going to do with it all once the day is over? After all, you don’t want to be a one-woman ecological disaster in the making, and you don’t want to be wading through masses of wedding detritus come your tenth anniversary, either.
That means you’ll need a plan to store the things you care about keeping and dispose of the things you don’t want anymore responsibly.
As per usual, I have a couple thoughts on the subject.
The first thing to do is to figure out what matters enough to you to keep it. This varies wildly from person to person. You may want to hang onto your wedding gown forever, hoping that one day your daughter will love it as much as you did and wear it when she gets married… or you might feel you don’t have either the sentiment or the closet space for that one. I know a couple women who carefully preserved their bouquets and display them in their homes. Mine went into a compost bucket in a friend’s vegetable garden without a moment’s regret. The tomatoes were excellent that year. Some people frame their invitations while others cut up any leftover ones for craft projects or shred and recycle them.
It doesn’t matter what things matter to you enough to keep and which don’t. What matters is figuring it out on your terms.
Once you’ve got that worked out, decide whether to donate, sell, or recycle all the things you possibly can.
There are charities that will take wedding gowns, veils, and other bridal accessories and either sell them for charity or give them to brides who would not be able to afford gowns etc. otherwise. If you aren’t sentimental about your gown, headpiece, or gloves, look up what groups in your area will pass them on to breast cancer survivors or the homeless who want to marry. Items like aisle runners, bouquet holders, or fancy pens for signing guest books are often gratefully accepted, too.
Another good candidate for donation is flower arrangements. If you’ve got any that have survived the heat (or other weather conditions) and the vases aren’t rented, think about donating them to a hospital or nursing home to cheer up patients.
Food is trickier. Many times your reception food cannot be donated to organized charities due to health regulations. But there’s nothing to stop you putting out take home containers for your friends so they can have any leftovers… or you could have a couple volunteers pack up the food and give it on a one-on-one basis to homeless, hungry people in the streets.
Or maybe you spent more than you’d meant to and would like to make a modicum of that back from the things you don’t want to keep. eBay, Craig’s List, and bridal boards are great places to sell off the things in good condition that you don’t want to give apartment space to. After all, that wooden sign that said ‘The Bride is Coming’ looked adorable when the little boy carried it down the aisle… but what are you going to do with it for the rest of your life? Well, another bride might love the idea of having one and look on your lightly used one as the answer to a maiden’s prayer. And you might be well able to use the couple of bucks that prayer nets you!
Then again, sometimes it’s fun to take something that was important for one reason, and make it useful for another reason. Maybe you don’t want to preserve your bouquet, per se, but are loathe to just dump it or hand it off to someone else. Why not dry the sweet-smelling petals for potpourri? Or dry the flowers and use them in crafts projects? If they’re edible, you can even cook with them.
Once a wedding is over, there’s a lot of clean up to be done. But if you have a plan for what to do with things afterwards, you can make your wedding easier on the earth, and spread some happiness while you’re at it.]]>
(Illustration via Yuba City Wedding Photography)
There’s an art to keeping wedding guests happy, but it’s really not that difficult once you know the trick: think like a guest. Think about what has made you feel welcomed and happy, and then do those sorts of things. Think about what made you feel bored, confused, or unwelcome and avoid those things. It isn’t 100% foolproof, of course, since where one person finds something charming and inviting… another finds it hokey or off-putting. Still, thinking of the comfort of other people puts you well ahead of the game. A much higher percentage of people will come away having enjoyed themselves if you’ve made their happiness a priority.
The thing is, that goes double with children.
They’re smaller, so their physical needs may be more demanding. They have less patience and stamina, so one needs to consider pacing and opportunities for rest. They’re less experienced, so their concerns about things that are too unfamiliar need to be addressed.
But don’t panic. A few simple choices can help you make sure even your youngest guests feel welcome and special.
When choosing your venue, think about whether or not it’s kid friendly. Sometimes simply choosing the right place to hold the shindig is enough to keep small fry contented. When Mr. Twistie and I chose our wedding spot, it was ideal for making kids happy. It was an outdoor spot in the woods that was contained enough and kept up well enough to be safe, but had plenty of nature to entertain kids. A couple of the older boys took off their shoes and went wading in the little stream, and the rest of the kids played outdoor games merrily. I’d already been to three other weddings in that same spot, and the young guests always enjoyed it.
If you’re choosing a more traditional venue like a church or a hotel ballroom, make sure there are amenities for the little ones. Does the church have a crying room where fussy toddlers can be taken to calm down, or where a mother can do an impromptu feeding for an infant? Are there booster chairs available for very small children to use during the meal? Would it be possible to bring in a couple shorter tables with matching-sized chairs for the reception so kids can sit comfortably without boosters?
A couple kid-sized items can make the difference between comfort and meltdown. Knowing that there’s someplace to take an unhappy child to calm down can make the difference between parents deciding to bring their kids along or hire a sitter.
Speaking of sitters, if your budget permits or you have a teenager you can really trust who loves to babysit, consider hiring someone to keep an eye on kids for parents who are looking forward to more adult time. Then Mom and Dad can relax knowing their offspring are safe while they talk to actual adults. Just make sure people know the sitter is an optional extra, because some parents will turn on anyone who tries to separate them from their young, even for an hour in the same room.
When working with the caterer, work out an option for a kid’s meal. Before you order it, taste it to make sure it’s as good as the adult food. The majority of children won’t have quite such adventurous palates as the adults, but that doesn’t mean their food shouldn’t taste good, too.
Well-entertained children are less likely to cause trouble purely out of boredom. Consider having an area with a few toys and popular games available. At the last wedding I attended, several children amused themselves for quite a long time having a fencing match with two plastic light sabers vs an inflatable saxophone. Oh, and the sax won! They were happy in a corner away from anything breakable, and the rest of us got some great laughs watching them.
Be especially sure to talk to your smallest guests and thank them for coming. It’s easy to get missed in the shuffle when you’re only three feet tall. But kids like to be spoken to and taken seriously just as much as anyone else does. In fact, since it is all too common for them to be missed or ignored, it means a little bit more. A simple ‘thanks for coming to our wedding’ could make a kid’s day.
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.]]>
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of pie. I’ll eat it any time of day or night. I love both sweet and savory pies. Blueberry? I’m there! Steak and Kidney? Equally there!
In fact, when Mr. Twistie and I were married, we didn’t have a cake. We had individual fruit tarts. They were delicious and festive and just a little quirky. Very us.
(Image via Achatz Handemade Pie Co.)
Mmmm…pie. Save a slice for me!]]>
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.]]>
Of course, since their motto is ‘tarts unordinary’ one might expect them to have some slightly more… adventurous offerings. One would be correct in that assumption.
This is the wasabi. It combines wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and blood orange layered with vanilla frangipane and topped with a tempura mint leaf. Adventurous, yes, but it also sounds delicious.
They also do a selection of yummy sounding cookies. I particularly want to try the salted caramel shortbread.
What’s the downside to all of this? Well, there’s the fact that Fruute only delivers to addresses in Los Angeles. But if that’s where you are and you need some sweet things for your engagement party, bridesmaid’s luncheon/tea, or wedding reception, the tarts run from $2.50 – $3.00 a piece, are made from organic ingredients, and are delivered in green packaging.
As for me… well, I don’t live in LA or anywhere in the immediate area, so I can’t order them. I can, however, take inspiration from some of the flavors, shapes, and concepts when playing in my own kitchen.]]>