Ingredients for the Perfect Wedding

The elements that make weddings shine are mostly intangible. 

The weddings I've attended that were not only fun, but totally memorable, always have a certain je ne sais quoi, It's something that wedding planners would make a fortune if they could just bottle it and sell it.  And when it comes to wedding planning,  brides tend to strive for greatness. For months — sometimes years — they consider each detail and how it will impact the wedding ceremony and reception, and represent the spirit of the couple. While candles, beautiful flowers and spot lighting certainly add to the ambiance of the room, the truth is, it's the intangible ingredients, like the right blend of people and the tone of the music, that makes a wedding truly shine.

The Perfect Wedding Ingredients

1. Love in the room : The actual feeling of love in the room comes from the couple surrounding themselves with people who truly care about their happiness. Everyone is smiling. You can hear a pin drop during the speeches and the guests will cheer for the bride and groom during their first dance and request constant kissing through the clanking of glasses during dinner. It's a magical feeling that cannot be disrupted or interrupted by the biggest of wedding hiccups.

2. Intimate Guest List: Even with a massive guest list, the wedding won't feel huge with the right combination of people. The key is to invite those who want to be there to show their support and enthusiasm for the unity of the couple. That starts by asking the right individuals to attend. If you dig too deep into the extended circles, then you are more likely to end up with people who could negatively impact the vibe of the celebration.

3. Music: Whether with a DJ or band, good music will get people moving, having fun and breaking a sweat. Couples that put time into song selection will certainly see the reward of their efforts through a packed dance floor. Think about including uplifting songs that will appeal to the attendees. There is nothing more fun than dancing all night with the newlyweds to make people never want to leave the party!

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4. Gracious Bride and Groom: It's the bride and groom who actually set the tone for the evening, by demonstrating their appreciation for both each other and for their families. It shows for miles when the bride and groom is grateful for the love and support they have received along the way. After all, people love a good fairy tale.

5. Enthusiastic Wedding Party: A smiling and happy wedding party can take a wedding from an 8 to an 11 in just a few seconds. They serve as the instruments of the bride and groom and should represent accordingly. From being prepared with their speeches, to leading the charge to the dance floor, a good wedding party is key. Choose wisely!

Bridesmaids 101

Everything you need to know about being a bridesmaid.

Since starting my bridesmaids project, several brides have come to me asking what they should expect from their wedding party. These are mostly brides who maybe haven't been a bridesmaid before or they are the very-first bride within a group of friends. It's never easy asking for things from your gal pals, so I help them manage expectations.

I also hear from first-time bridesmaids, who are wondering what their responsibilities are for the big day. I always sort of giggle at that...because the expectations don't just last a day - they last throughout the entire engagement process. So I help them too.

It got me thinking that maybe not everyone is familiar with the duties that accompany bridesmaid-dom, so I put together a little overview of what you can expect and what should be expected of you. Brides/Bridesmaids: hope this helps.

Bridesmaid 101:

1. The Dress:You can't walk down the aisle naked. Anyway you slice it, attire will be involved. Granted, it could be a tuxedo,a flapper dress, a ball gown or something simple and pretty. Either way, expect to spend up to $350 on this. Anticipate that it might not be your favorite dress. But instead of thinking how you can only wear in once, embrace the fact that you will never have to wear it again. See? It's all about the power of positive thinking.

2. Bridal Shower: While you might not have to throw the shower, make absolutely certain that someone is taking the reigns. If not, sorry sister, it's on you. But don't worry, showers can be simple and inexpensive if you get creative. And you do have to get the bride a gift. If you are invited to more than one shower, bring something small to each shower so you don't show up empty-handed. The bride will argue with you about this. But if you don't, you will be embarrassed while presents are opened. Trust me.

3. Bachelorette Party: The Maid of Honor will usually take the reins on the big bachelorette party, utilizing the help of the bridesmaids. Work together to create a fun and stress-free night for the bride. Usually gifts are also required - but cute negligee can be purchased on the cheap at Le Target and other places. Don't go overboard if you can't afford it. Her husband-to-be will never know the difference.

4. Be responsive to the bride: This is like way important. If the bride sends an email, respond. If you are single, down on your luck and exhausted of talking about weddings, then FAKE IT. Yep. Sorry, I am not advising you to be totally inauthentic, but wedding planning is no joke. Be there for your bride. Respond to emails. Be engaged in the process (see what I did there?!).

5. Do not create stress: Your job as a bridesmaid is to make the day less stressful for the bride. If the twinkle lights at the rehearsal dinner aren't plugged in, make sure it gets done. If the bride has lipstick on her teeth, get it off. Pay attention to what she needs until she says otherwise. This also includes making sure she doesn't look foolish - grab her strapless dress and hoist it up if her bra straps are showing. ET CETERA.

6. Lay down the hammer: So, the reason why you're a bridesmaid is because you are a very important part of the bride's life. So if your bride is being a pain in the ass or seems to be unreasonable, go ahead and let her know. Obviously, within reason, but don't underestimate the power of humor. Bridezillas are a fact of wedding folklore so when your bestie gets carried away, steer her back in the right direction. Gently.

7. Have like the best time ever:Approach every event with a fun attitude and enthusiasm. Listen, the bride doesn't need to know that you are hungover as all hell at her bridal shower. That's why there are multiple 'maids. Tell them that you feel like garbage, but never make the bride feel burdened by your overindulgence in the sauce - or anything else that might be ailing you. Your problems will take a back seat during big events. Embrace that and be a good friend and listener.

8. It all comes full circle: This is possibly the most important thing to remember. Being a bridesmaid is an American tradition. Those of us who have been bridesmaids what feels like 100 times, may not want to put their friends through the process when it's their turn to tie the knot. I say, "NUH UH." Make them do it, so you can have the showers, fun and big smiles. Plus, why not take advantage of a little pay back time?!

As always, questions, comments and feedback are welcomed.