Bridesmaid Gift Ideas

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When you are contemplating your gifts for your bridesmaids, the most important thing to take into consideration is the individual personality of each bridesmaid.  You may think that you need to find a gift that is the same for everyone, but you don’t!  In fact the best gifts are usually ones that you have picked out with each woman in mind.

Here are some of The Classics and the reasons why they are so popular:

Jewelry

  • Jewelry – Jewelry is by and far the most popular bridesmaid gift choice.  The reasons are obvious: most women love jewelry and it is easy to find in all price points and designs.  Shop at Stella and Dot for tons of cute options to fit each bridesmaid’s unique style!
  • Tote bags – Instead of wrapping paper, use a tote bag as both the packaging and part of the gift itself!  If one of your bridesmaids…

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How To Start Your Wedding Planning

le papillon events

He’s asked and you’ve said yes. You have a gorgeous engagement ring. Now, though, comes the hard work of planning the perfect wedding. Do you know where to begin?

The best way to start your wedding planning is to find a professional wedding planner. Look for somebody who knows the ins and outs of planning the perfect Toronto wedding.

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A Toronto wedding planner can work with you to start determining the big aspects of your dream wedding. This includes choosing a date (or narrowing it down to a few possible dates) and choosing a theme or overall style of wedding.

You won’t need to work out all the details just yet, but having a big picture is a good way to start. However, if there are some details that you know you absolutely want included, they can help form the basis of your theme and overall design.

Another big step…

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#TuesdayTrend- Pink is the new black.

Match-rimony

Welcome to the first #TuesdayTrend. #TuesdayTrend is all about discussing up and coming trends for weddings.

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This week were talking about pink and it’s back in a big way this year for weddings. So if you’re feeling like a blushing bride then carry on blushing and incorporate pink as your accent colour in your wedding this year. However.. I wouldn’t start looking at Barbie pink, think along the palate lines of dusty pinks, blush, peaches and nudes.

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This palate is subtle but it will give you touches of romance whilst keeping it elegant. If you’re thinking of going pink this year, start getting romantic with your invitations. Here are some examples below, if you’re feeling creative this would make a great DIY project which will also cut the costs down dramatically!
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invites

Bridesmaids are also great way to incorporate your pink romance theme. I absolutely love seeing pictures of brides with their bridesmaids dresses all looking slightly different which gives each maid a unique look.

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Start the Day With a Breakfast Wedding

Dandy Restaurant Cruises

Are you a morning person who just wants to dive into each day? If so, make your wedding reflect your favorite time of day. A breakfast wedding shifts the celebrations to the morning and offers a great alternative to the traditional afternoon or evening wedding.

Morning weddings in Washington DC are particularly beautiful in the spring and summer. In these seasons you can enjoy the gorgeous morning sun and avoid any afternoon heat. They are still possible in the fall and winter, but you might need to start later because of later sunrise times.

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For an energizing and fun breakfast wedding, welcome your guests with a beverage. This can be coffee, juice, or a cocktail like a mimosa. You can hold your ceremony first thing, followed by a delicious breakfast or brunch.

As an alternative, you can start your wedding with the meal and have the ceremony after your guests…

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Circle of Love: the Basics of Rings

It’s amazing, the power of a piece of jewelry to convey so much meaning… Engagement rings and wedding bands represent the never-ending love you have for each other, and let the whole world know you are married! Besides the exquisite beauty of wedding rings, there is a lot to know about metals, diamonds, and the care involved. This “Ring Primer” will help you understand all the basics.

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Know your metals

  • Gold –  Gold is classic, beautiful and popular. Pure gold is too soft for practical use, so it’s mixed with other metals for jewelry. 14-karat gold retains its brilliant gold color, but is durable enough for daily wear, and can be polished easily.
  • White gold –  White gold is made by mixing pure gold with other white metals such as silver, palladium or zinc. It does have a slightly yellow tint, unless it’s coated with a very white metal called rhodium. This provides a very white metal look, but it’s likely that it will need to be re-coated every one to two years as the rhodium wears away.
  • Platinum –  Extremely popular in the last decade or so, platinum is a very white, heavy (which many people like that substantial feel), and durable metal. It’s a gorgeous, long-lasting compliment to diamonds! Popular demand for this metal has driven the price up quite a bit, and maintenance is more complicated than gold.
  • Palladium –  A “sister” metal to platinum, palladium is a naturally white metal (whiter than white gold), and like platinum, it is strong, non-tarnishing and hypoallergenic. It’s also less expensive than platinum, making it a good metal to consider if you like the white metal look.
  • Titanium and tungsten carbide –  Usually used for men’s wedding bands, both of these metals are extremely durable, 100% hypoallergenic and relatively inexpensive. Titanium can be oxidized to create some brilliant accent colors such as bright blue, purple and so on, creating a very unique and interesting look. Tungsten carbide is twice as hard as steel and almost impossible to scratch, making is a great metal for very active men. These metals cannot be resized once the ring is made, so order the size carefully.

Know your diamond

When shopping for a diamond, you will quickly be introduced to the “Four Cs” – cut, color, clarity and carat. All four features can make a dramatic impact on the quality, and therefore price, of a diamond.

  • Cut –  Cut really refers to the proportions of a diamond and it’s facets, as opposed to its shape, which includes round (brilliant), oval, pear, marquise, emerald, square (princess or radiant), heart and triangle. Regardless of its shape, a diamond gets its brilliancy from the cutting, and maximizing the reflection of light. When a stone is cut too shallow or too deep, the light that enters through the top is allowed to escape through the diamond’s bottom and minimizes its brilliance.
  • Color –  The best color is no color at all (when desiring a white diamond), because it reflects the most light. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) ranks diamonds on a standard 23-grade scale from D through Z. D, the highest rating, indicates a perfectly colorless stone, while Z, the lowest rating, indicates a light yellow stone.
  • Clarity –  Clarity is defined by the number, color, nature, size and position of natural marks, called inclusions, contained in the gem. Inclusions occur naturally during the process of crystallization, when minute traces of minerals are trapped in the diamond. Excellent clarity means light can pass unimpeded through the stone and increases its value. The GIA judges clarity based on a standard 11-point scale from Flawless through Imperfect 3 (see the clarity scale at the end of this article.)
  • Carat –  Diamonds are weighed in carats, which may also be expressed as “points,” where one carat equals 100 points. A diamond of 50 points, for example, equals ½ carat. Diamonds of more than one carat are extremely rare (one in a thousand), and therefore very valuable. But remember that carat weight is only one factor in determining value. Two diamonds of the same size can vary considerably in value depending on the other three factors – cut, color and clarity.

Appraise it

Once rings have been selected and purchased, request an appraisal. This is a written estimate of the value of your jewelry, and should include specific indications of the four Cs. Immediately after purchase, photograph your jewelry for insurance purposes, and make sure your current policy has adequate coverage. If it doesn’t, consult your insurance agent about amending your policy.

Take good care

Although diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man, a hard blow could still chip one, so don’t wear your ring when doing rough work. You should also avoid direct contact with chlorine bleach and chlorinated pool water, which could pit and discolor the mounting.

To clean your jewelry, regularly soak them for about 30 minutes in either a commercial jewelry cleaner, or a homemade solution comprised of equal parts cold water and ammonia, or a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. Brush the stones gently with an eyebrow brush or soft toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly under warm water and pat dry with a lint-free cloth.

Have you rings checked annually by your jeweler for loose prongs or settings. This is especially important if you have only four prongs, because just one broken prong will cause you to lose your stone. These precautions and gentle care will pay you back with years of enjoyment and pride in this precious symbol of your union.

Diamond Clarity Scale

  • FL & IF: Flawless and internally flawless (inclusions not visible under 10x magnification)
  • VVS1 & VVS2: Very, very slight inclusions (extremely difficult to see under 10x)
  • VS1 & VS2: Very slight inclusions (difficult to see under 10x)
  • SI1 & SI2: Small inclusions (noticeable under 10x)
  • I1, I2 & I3: Imperfect (flaws visible to the unaided eye)

7 Steps to the Perfect Wedding Cuisine

Perhaps the only part of a wedding that’s gotten a bad rap throughout the years is the meal. Guests usually expect a dry chicken breast and some sticky rice pilaf, so spicing up the dinner and giving it a personal spin is the perfect way to make your wedding memorable and give your guests some fuel to dance the night away.

Gratuitous Food Shot

Gratuitous Food Shot

Step 1: Start the search.

As soon as you’ve selected your reception site, the catering search can begin. Some locations require that you use their in-house caterer or banquet department, which makes your choice fairly simple. These locations include hotels, country clubs and some of the more unusual facilities such as museums, boats or historical homes. If they allow an independent caterer, you may be asked to choose from a pre-approved list.

If you’re able to select your own caterer, though, try to narrow down your list to no more than three, otherwise you’ll be tasting for a month and all the flavors will blur together.

When you’re calling caterers, make sure to have as much information as you know on hand. They’ll want to know your wedding date, time of day, approximate number of guests, if you’d like a sit-down or buffet meal and the degree of formality and style.  If you have any general menu ideas or preferences, let the caterer know so they can be better prepared for your initial meeting. Ask for sample wedding menus and references before a formal meeting or tasting.

Step 2: Determine your service style.

Right off the bat, caterers will want to discuss your taste and budget in detail. Think about the style and feel of your wedding, and decide whether you want a sit-down meal or a buffet. Then talk about the extras – do you want hors d’oeuvres during cocktails and a late-night snack? How about fruit or coffee with the cake? Talk with a caterer about the different options and appropriateness for the time of day, number of guests and style.

Step 3: Schedule a tasting.

When you finally narrow down your list, the fun part is here – tasting! Don’t be afraid to speak up during tastings, or ask if they can tweak something to your tastes. This is your day and your meal and fulfilling your food wishes is their job.

Step 4: Design the menu.

Start by searching through magazines, web sites and bridal shows to clarify your likes and dislikes. Think about weddings you’ve attended, or ask caterers or friends for favorites and fails. Then, work closely with your caterer to craft the perfect and personal menu. Remember that the caterer has probably seen lots of weddings and knows what works best with the number of people, the time of day and the locations, so take their professional advice if they think a cool, crisp salad might not be the best appetizer in your outdoor summer wedding. Also keep your guests in mind – you might have to accommodate for lots of children or vegetarians, for example.

376622_10151109141067279_1604617597_nStep 5: Calculate the cost.

Once you’ve selected a caterer, think business and cost. Most caterers base their prices on a per-person cost. Facilities with in-house catering departments may have a minimum charge or set-up fee, while an off-premises caterer will usually work within any reasonable, agreed-upon budget. Keep in mind buffets are usually priced higher, since they’ll have to account for a little more per person, and it’s common to add overage or gratuity.

Your final guest count is usually required one week before the event. This will be the minimum number of people for which you will actually be charged. Most caterers will plan on the addition of a few last-minute guests and will add the meals to the bill after the wedding. Decide if you’ll include meals for wedding-related personnel, such as the DJ, musicians, photographer and consultant. If cost is an issue, ask your caterer about “vendor meals,” these meals are more casual than the guest menu and are offered at a lower cost per person. Get specifics as to what extras are included in the caterer’s charges, such as table linens, plates, glasses, crystal, silverware and service pieces.

Step 6: Plan the help.

Once the menu is finalized, the next step is determining the number of wait staff you will need to serve your feast and keep your reception running smoothly. Your caterer will give you a better idea, but a general guideline is one server per 10 to 12 guests for a sit-down dinner. A full and open bar will require more servers. Ask ahead of time what their attire is, so it matches the style and formality of your reception.

Step 7: Finalize the details, in writing. 

Don’t sign a contract without this info – day, date, time, address of the site, food items by course, number of guests covered, provisions for special meals, time of cocktail hour, time meal is served, contact people, number of bartenders and wait staff, linens, beverages and bar guidelines, terms of payment and liability insurance. There will probably be an advance deposit when you sign the contract, and don’t forget to check the cancellation policy.

Personalize Your Meal!

Trip around the world. 

Give your guests a culinary trip across the globe, with a variety of food stations offering a range of ethnic food…pad thai, bruschetta, and mini sushi rolls are a fun way to inspire conversation and provide something for everyone.

Share your faves. 

Do you and your spouse have a favorite restaurant you went on your first date, or a meal you love cooking together? Make it part of your day. Even if your favorite restaurant doesn’t have a special cater service for those fish tacos, talk to an owner and see if they’d be willing to bend a little, especially for a small wedding. Don’t make your grandma cook her favorite lasagna on your day, but don’t be afraid to look for a great Italian caterer and let everyone know the inspiration for the meal.

Top 25 Wedding Songs

1. Amazed Lonestar
2. From This Moment Shania Twain & Bryan White
3. Cross My Heart George Strait
4. Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing Aerosmith or Mark Chesnutt
5. Could Not Ask for More Edwin McCain
6. Truly, Madly, Deeply Savage Garden
7. It’s Your Love Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
8. I Knew I Loved You Savage Garden
9. Wonderful Tonight Eric Clapton
10. I Do, Cherish You 98 Degrees
11. At Last Etta James
12. When I Said I Do Clint Black & Lisa Hartman
13. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything Barry White
14. The Way You Look Tonight Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett
15. My Best Friend Tim McGraw
16. All My Life K-Ci & JoJo
17. Unchained Melody Righteous Brothers
18. Spend My Life With You Eric Benet & Tamia
19. To Make You Feel My Love Garth Brooks
20. Keeper of the Stars Tracy Byrd
21. I Swear John Michael Montgomery
22. Everything I Do Bryan Adams
23. True Companion Marc Cohen
24. Valentine Martina McBride & Jim Brickman
25. Love of My Life Jim Brickman

What You Need to Know Before Booking Your Reception Site

You’ve said “I do,” he’s kissed the bride, and now it’s time to party! Kick off those heels and mix, mingle, dine, and dance the night away with family and friends. But finding the perfect reception spot is no easy feat – Luckily, we’re here to help!

Consider your style, head count, and budget.

Before deciding where to host your reception, there are a few things to consider. To start: What’s your wedding’s style? A casual summer wedding requires completely different accommodations from a formal winter wedding, so first nail down your preferred style and season. Next: How many made the guest list? If you haven’t made one yet, hop to it – you’ll need a head count so you can find a reception site to suit your needs. Finally: How big is your budget? This goes hand-in-hand with your guest list – sometimes, your budget will determine the number of guests you can afford to have, not to mention the caliber of venue. Once you’ve made these critical decisions, start the search.

large_imageSearch for sites that suit your needs.

Local bridal publications and websites, wedding shows, married friends, and Google are all great sources of potential reception sites. Typical venues include hotels, banquet halls, restaurants, community centers, and country clubs. Other options might be country inns, historic homes or estates, city parks, college or university facilities, museums, galleries, and boats.

Each of these potential venues will be one of two things: on-site or off-site. Most on-site locations offer the majority of services needed to host a reception: catering of food and drink, chairs, tables, tableware and linens, and a serving staff. With all these necessities already covered and calculated into the cost of the venue, on-site is an appealing, potentially less-stressful way to go. Off-site locations usually provide only the facility for a flat fee – you’re responsible for the rest. The nice thing about off-site? You have the freedom to do everything your own way and control costs of individual services.

Narrow down your search by focusing on sites that meet all of your needs, including your style, season, budget, and estimated number of guests. Once you have your sights set on a few choice venues, take a day trip to check them out.

Evaluate your options.

t_7a57cca0-a3e4-11e1-a4a8-853ab0600001Every venue offers advantages and disadvantages. Your job is to sift through the features of each and find what works best for you. Here are some things to consider:

Location. To avoid inconveniencing your guests, the reception site should be no more than a 30-minute drive from the ceremony – ideally less. But if there’s no avoiding it and the site is located in a remote area or poses parking and traffic challenges, you should consider providing shuttles for your guests.

Size and layout. Is the venue in question just one large room, or will cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing each take place in separate, smaller rooms? Make sure the cocktail area is large enough for guests to mix and mingle and that the dinner area will comfortably hold the number of tables you’ll need. Make doubly sure that the dance floor is big enough for everyone to bust a move! Beyond spatial comfort, also consider temperature. Throwing a summer wedding? Don’t skimp on air conditioning.

Privacy. If the reception site caters to multiple events simultaneously, find out if there are any other bookings on the date you have in mind. If there are, work with your site contact person to ensure that you will have adequate privacy for your celebration.

Parking. Make sure there is convenient, well-lit, ample parking for your guests. If such conveniences aren’t an option, find out if the site offers valet or shuttle services.

Technical details. Whether you go for a DJ, band, or iPod playlist, inquire after any music restrictions the venue might have. Is there sufficient power for speakers, mixers, and amplifiers? Are the acoustics suited to live music? Some sites have built-in public-address systems that can be used to introduce the wedding party and to toast the bride and groom. If your venue doesn’t provide this equipment, find out if your DJ or musicians can. Or, look into microphone and speaker rentals yourself – your contact person should be able to walk you through the wiring hook-ups prior to your wedding day.

Décor. Most reception-ready sites offer a neutral background to work with, but see that the flooring, ceiling, and wall coverings work well with the style and season of your wedding. So that nothing clashes, some brides even wait to decide on their color scheme until after they’ve procured a venue. In terms of decorative details, find out what you’re allowed to bring in as far as tangible décor and lighting. If the reception location is spacious, decorating can be overwhelming. In this case, try concentrating on one element, such as tablescapes. Or, if funds allow, hire a wedding coordinator to assist with site beautification.

Services offered. With each venue you visit, find out in clear terms exactly what services are included. There’s a lot to consider: catering, bar tenders, wait staff, cake cutting – get these details up front.

Personal touches. When looking at sites and imagining your celebration, ask yourself (and your contact person) if you can have fun with this space. Is there a spot for showing a photo and video montage during cocktail hour? Is the layout conducive to a choreographed entrance by the wedding party? Is there room for a photobooth?

A note about outdoor receptions

Given Wisconsin’s unpredictable weather, it’s critical to have a backup plan for any outdoor reception. It’s highly recommended that you employ an experienced wedding coordinator if you have your sights set on an outdoor reception. A coordinator will ease the workload and stress-factor in the days leading up to a “60% chance of rain” wedding day – and will help to make any last-minute changes run smoothly.

The nitty-gritty

As with any wedding vendor, make sure all the details are outlined in writing. Take into account things like service charges, cleaning fees, insurance waivers, and penalties for not fulfilling the food and beverage minimum. Use a credit card whenever possible to make payments so that you have more protection in the unlikely event of a problem.

For more information about receptions in your local area, go to our Local Resources page and select the area that is closest to you.