Newly-Engaged? “Minute One” Ways to Have the Happiest Bridesmaids Ever

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  1. Host a party for them right at the start, so that you’re treating them and their entire bridesmaid time is not just them shelling out for you. Lunch, brunch, a dinner at your place or out at a restaurant – just a fun get-together to kick off your wedding planning season and so that they can get to know each other.
  2. Tell them what the wedding will be like. In order to decide if they can be bridesmaids, and afford any travel or lodging that will be involved, they need to know if you’re planning a destination wedding, especially.
  3. Ensure that you’ll make every effort to keep their expenses on the low side. They’ll love hearing that you’re one of Those Brides who cares about their finances and stress levels.
  4. Tell them what you DON’T want, like a bachelorette party if you’ve decided that’s not for you, nor is a girls’ getaway instead of that party. When bridesmaids can eliminate the pricy things they think might happen, they get more comfortable.
  5. Share your freebie sources, like the printables at www.weddingchicks.com and other terrific freebie-filled blogs and sites. And hand each one a copy of Bridesmaid      on a Budget.
  6. Tell them if they’ll be able to pick out their own styles of dresses, and invite them to send you links to dresses they like for themselves.

bridesmaidonabudget

And here’s a DON’T for you: don’t make a ton of promises right now, like paying for their dresses and hotel rooms. You might think you want to do these things for them, but if your budget explodes later, you might not be able to. And they’ll feel deceived.

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Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Pt 1: Photos and Video

ellis island centerpiece

Today starts a new series on the blog — 100 Ways to Honor Your Family and Friends at Your Wedding. Yes, this is a freebie from my e-book, so enjoy!

First up is ideas for your photo and video display at your cocktail party or reception:

Family Photos and Video

  1. At your engagement party, set up a table filled with photos of your own courtship and engagement portraits – guests love to see those – and also display photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ courtship and engagement photos, with a sign saying, “We come from a long history of love.”
  2. In addition to framed photos of your engagement and courtship photos, set up a digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those family photos.
  3. At your wedding, fill your family photos table with framed photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ wedding portraits, and again set up that digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those gorgeous all-wedding pictures.
  4. Do a treasure hunt of those fabulous, old black-and-white wedding photos from your great-grandparents’ era. Ask relatives if they have any way-back wedding pictures in frames or in photo albums, and you’ll likely find some amazing treasures in the family. Take those photos, and – here’s the secret! – bring them to a professional photographer or qualified photo shop to have them digitally-restored. Marks and spots can be erased, the shade can be freshened to provide better contrast, details such as the lace of your great-grandmother’s dress will stand out. Your new and improved old-time photos go on display at your wedding, and – surprise! – you give copies of the new-and-improved photos to the relatives after the wedding.
  5. At your bridal shower, create a Lovely Ladies photo table with amazing pictures of you and your mom, grandmom, your sisters, favorite aunts, your mom with her sisters…it’s a table tribute for all the fabulous women in your life. You can also do a separate table of framed or digital photo frame slideshow images of you with your best female friends.
  6. On the family photo table, mix up framed family wedding photos with framed printouts of each relative’s wedding song lyrics or their vows. If the color scheme works, using parchment paper gives an elegant look for all the print display items, or choose a colored paper like blush blue or blush pink to coordinate with flowers that will be displayed on the table as well.
  7. Add to your family photos table framed quotes about family, love, and marriage. They might be the same quotes used in your parents’ wedding, or simply quotes that remind you of them. Visit www.quotegarden.com to get inspiration, or look for quote memes on Pinterest.
  8. Of course, if you have children, create a family photo table featuring great pictures of you with your kids, and just of the kids themselves. They might be your self-taken photos, or you might schedule a professional, styled photo shoot to take all-new family and kid photos. They might be the classic everyone-dressed-in-the-same-colors group shots on the beach, or they might be themed like a 1920s-era costumed photo shoot, even something fun and playful like all pictures at the zoo.
  9. Line an entryway wall with fun photos of your extended family, with a budget display method: suspending them at different heights from a hung rod via colorful ribbons. Be inclusive, though…line the opposite wall with photos of your friends and their spouses, or solo photos as the case may be. It’s best to ask permission from everyone, and have them submit photos they’d like shown, rather than grabbing pictures from everyone’s Facebook albums.
  10. Prior to the wedding, take photos of relatives, especially kids like your nieces, nephews or your own children, holding up DIY’d signs saying ‘Reception This Way,’ ‘Ceremony This Way,’ or ‘Welcome to the Wedding’ and then enlarge and display these photos as a great twist on the classic wedding signs that direct guests to the different locations for your celebration. Having the little ones in those photos is an adorable way to give them a spotlight in what would otherwise be just another wedding décor item.
  11. This one is more for the engagement party or for the rehearsal dinner. Send out an email asking all of your relatives to respond with the story of how they met their spouse, and send you a photo of themselves. You can then scan these to make an inexpensive photo book at Shutterfly or other budget-friendly site, and put it on display at your family-attended party…with your ‘how we met’ story right up front.
  12. I love this idea I saw on Pinterest: as aisle or pew décor, hang up pretty, 4” x 4” framed photos of your relatives, not as seating chart markers but just as pretty and personalized family-centric ceremony décor. If you wish, make them all black and white to suit your all-white floral scheme and black-and-white aisle runner, or use colorful photos in all matching frames tied on with a wide ribbon and bow.
  13. Use that digital photo frame to show family photos at the rehearsal dinner; showcasing photos of the family and best friends at this VIP event is a great tribute to them…way better than showing just photos of yourselves.
  14. Guests who cannot attend the wedding due to distance, illness, pregnancy, deployment or other situations can tape and send video greetings to you, and you can play them during the rehearsal dinner. Skyping one close relative might be an option, but keep it as a plan for just one or two close relatives. If you have a dozen, your party gets taken over by a lot of on-computer time.
  15. I love this idea! If your ancestors arrived in this country via Ellis Island, go to www.ellisisland.org to run a search on your ancestors by last name. You may find amazing views of their signatures on the arrival records or ship list, as well as a photo of the ship on which they arrived. These too can go on display on your family photo table, or as a fabulous display of its own at the cocktail party.
  16. Within family keepsake treasures, you might find your great-grandmother’s journal with an entry about her upcoming wedding, or her sweet feelings for her suitor. With family permission, you might scan and enlarge these priceless hand-written entries and display them in your entrance hallway, above the guest book, and or even at the bridal shower. It’s easy and inexpensive to take written family heirlooms, scan and process them and put them on display for your wedding celebration.
  17. Instead of a book of ‘how they met’ stories with photos, consider putting together a photo book that pairs family wedding portraits with copies of their wedding vows. It could be a scan of their original, hand-written vow notes, or you might type them up in pretty font and in a coordinated layout style for a sentimental keepsake that can be built upon in the future by other relatives and maybe your own children someday.

Freebie! Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding, Part 2 — Florals

 

caneel engagement ring in flower 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of my freebie series! I decided to make my ebook a big freebie for you, sharing tips on how you can honor your family and friends at your wedding. This time, we’re talking wedding flowers and floral décor as a way to honor departed loved ones, or just give your nearest and dearest a special wedding tribute:

caneel ring in flower

Florals

  1. If you have a departed parent, leave a chair open for them at the ceremony, and place a single white rose on it.
  2. Or, on the departed parent’s or grandparents’ chair, place their favorite type of flower.
  3. Create a grand floral tribute arrangement displayed on a pedestal by your ceremony altar or chuppah, and write in your wedding program that the arrangement is in memory of your departed loved ones, listed by name.
  4. If you’re marrying by the ocean or by a lake, set a floating floral piece in the water in memory of your departed relatives.
  5. Incorporate into your wedding bouquet some of the same flowers your mother used in hers. Kate Middleton did this, using a type of florals used in Queen Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet, so it’s definitely a trend!
  6. Decorate your wedding trellis or chuppah with some of the same flowers used in your parents’ weddings.
  7. Use your birthmonth flower in your bouquet. See the list here.
  8. Mix your birthmonth flower with your kids’ birthmonth flowers, or with your groom’s, your parents’, and so on.
  9. Use flower that’s central to your culture, or to the region where your wedding will take place to add extra personalization to your bouquet or to your floral arrangements and décor. Let guests in on the meaning with pretty signs placed on their tables, or via a note in your printed wedding program.
  10. Missing a departed relative? Use their birthmonth flower in your bouquet as a way to carry a little piece of them with you.
  11. It doesn’t have to be your departed relative whose birthmonth flower is in your bouquet. If your groom’s mother of grandmother has passed away, using their birthmonth flower is a lovely tribute to his family and will be very touching to all, especially to him.
  12. Create a small tribute floral arrangement, with a note explaining the meaning, on your family wedding photos table. Keep it subtle, so that it doesn’t come off like a funeral remembrance floral, and create a lovely sign naming the honored relatives.
  13. Re-create your mother’s wedding bouquet as a special and sentimental floral feature on your family wedding photo table. The same can be done with your grandmother’s wedding bouquet. Again, create and display small signs sharing the meaning with guests.
  14. You may have heard of the “Language of Flowers,” an age-old collection of symbolism attached to a wide variety of flowers and their colors. For instance, a white rose can mean ‘purity’ or ‘innocence.’ See the list here. Use these symbols to create pretty floral pieces for your relatives, and share the meanings with them.
  15. Or, have relatives look over the Language of Flowers list of meanings and select their own flowers according to what they wish to ‘say’ with them.
  16. Set apart the VIP chairs or pew at your ceremony by affixing pretty florals to the backs of seats where parents, grandparents, and other honored family members will sit. Spread the joy by doing this for the second or third rows where special relatives like great-aunts or godparents will sit.
  17. If you have children or are blending your families, make the kids’ chairs extra-special by affixing special floral pieces to the backs of their chairs to give them a special chair of their own.
  18. If you have a daughter or daughters, or your groom does, surprise them by giving them mini versions of your bouquet to carry, instead of a basket of flower petals.
  19. Boutonniere styles can be personalized to honored men in the family, such as to fathers, grandfathers, great-uncles, godfathers and cultural honored men in the family to set them apart.
  20. For men’s flowers, look again at the Language of Flowers to give their blooms special meanings.
  21. During your ceremony, present your parents with long-stemmed roses or other flowers as a moment of love, thanks and tribute to them. This can be a surprise element not practiced at the rehearsal to pack an emotional impact.
  22. Some cultures feature rituals of exchanging fruits, flowers and other items with parents and grandparents within the ceremony. Explore your culture’s good luck and prosperity rituals with parental involvement, and either use them as-is, or give them a modern twist. Relatives love it when you honor an ancestral rite in your modern wedding.
  23. As guests depart your ceremony, have an attendant distribute small flowers to each, that they are to tuck into a trellised décor feature that already has an arrangement of flowers in it. Instruct guests to do so while thinking good wishes for you, and then have your photographer capture that pretty floral décor structure for your wedding album.
  24. Your new family monogram letter can be spelled out in flowers on the lawn where your outdoor ceremony, cocktail party or reception will take place.
  25. If you’ll marry in a garden or sprawling grounds, have your floral designer create flower petal tributes to your relatives, such as your parents’ first initials of S + D and your groom’s parents’ initials of M + H, and so on…beautifully-done and photo-captured as soon as they’re created so that the wind doesn’t ruin the effect before photos can be taken.
  26. Kids’ initials can also be spelled out in flower petals on the grounds’ lawn as a special tribute to them as well.
  27. Florals hanging from trees can be inspired by the same flower types used at relatives’ weddings, with a note in your program saying that’s the design inspiration. Be sure the flower types work together, so that you don’t have non-seasonal or clashing flowers in this display. Work with your floral designer to perfect this unique and pretty outdoor wedding display.
  28. Floral wreaths can adorn your ceremony site’s doors, with your birthmonth flowers or family members’ wedding flowers included.
  29. Back to the table of family wedding photos or portraits: add little touches of floral prettiness with tiny sprigs attached to each frame, and the same type of flower sprinkled on the table top for a budget-friendly, super-stylish effect.

Love this freebie? Find out how to get more in my book The Bride’s Guide to Freebies.

bride's guide to freebies

 

 

Freebie! Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Part 3: Heirlooms

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You’re loving your freebie tips on personalized wedding elements to honor family and friends on the big day! Here is some more from my ebook, focusing on using family heirlooms in your wedding plans:

Family Heirlooms

  1. Since wedding gown styles are now accented with a sparkling brooch – either on the bodice or in the back, you can honor your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother or an honored woman on your groom’s side by wearing her brooch as part of your ensemble.
  2. Brooches are also popular accents for bouquet handles, so perhaps that brooch, or a cameo pin, can be your bouquet accent in tribute to its owner.
  3. Wear the necklace your mom or grandmother wore on her wedding day. It might be a demure piece you wear only for the ceremony, and then you can change into a more dramatic sparkler for your reception.
  4. Bracelets may be more fitting to your gown’s style, so wear an heirloom diamond tennis bracelet, or it may be that piece that your mom wore at her wedding, either as an heirloom or a gift from your father…which actually honors him as well.
  5. A saint medallion owned by your grandmother can be pinned underneath the skirts of your dress or pinned onto your bouquet handle.
  6. Rhinestone hair clips are often found in grandmothers’ jewelry boxes, and vintage hair accents are in for today’s weddings. If you slip these into your wedding day hairstyle, you add an element of your beloved grandmother’s style to your look.
  7. Sisters can be honored too, by wearing their jewelry or hair clips for your wedding look.
  8. Have your mother’s wedding-day headpiece re-made to include a slightly altered design, perhaps more or fewer rhinestones or faux gems.
  9. You don’t have to be the one wearing the heirloom piece! Perhaps your mother can wear her mother’s jewelry, or if you have a daughter, a small rhinestone hairclip owned by her grandmother or great-grandmother is a pretty way to include honored relatives.
  10. If an heirloom piece of jewelry doesn’t work for your wedding day look, wear it to your rehearsal dinner or engagement party.
  11. Take some lace from your mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress and use that as the wrap for your wedding bouquet.
  12. Birdcage veils are in now, and if your grandmother wore one at her wedding, you might wear hers for your ceremony, or just for some post-ceremony photos if you’d rather wear a different style of headpiece for your ceremony.
  13. Your groom can wear his father’s or grandfather’s pocketwatch, wristwatch or cufflinks during the wedding.
  14. Handkerchiefs were musts in wedding days of old, so bring your grandmother’s along to the wedding to capture in some of your wedding photos.
  15. Don’t forget that your future in-laws would love to be so honored, so ask if there are any costume jewelry heirloom pieces that you might be willing to work into your wedding look. It’s quite an honor!
  16. If your mother’s or sister’s ring pillow fits with your ceremony style, and is in perfect condition, you might use that as your ring pillow. You can always pin on some pretty faux flowers or ribbon to make it your ‘own.’
  17. Save a little bit of money and honor your parents by using their original cake topper for your wedding cake, or use it as the topper for your engagement party or rehearsal dinner cake if you have a different style in mind for your wedding cake’s accenting.
  18. A mom’s or grandmother’s wedding shawl or wrap, or winter stole, can be a wedding day accessory – just be sure to get at least one pro photo of you wearing it!

Find more wedding freebie ideas in my book The Bride’s Guide to Freebies.

bride's guide to freebies

Freebie! Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Part 4: Celebration Moments

Photo courtesy of Westminster Hotel Weddings

Photo courtesy of Westminster Hotel Weddings

We continue with freebie tips from my ebook on honoring your family and friends at your wedding. Today is all about celebration Moments:

Celebration Moments

  1. Serve some of the same menu elements that were served at your parents’ or grandparents’ weddings.
  2. Serve the same vintage of champagne that was served at your family members’ weddings.
  3. Serve family favorite recipes within your engagement party or rehearsal dinner menu, or perhaps as choices in your cocktail party or reception dinner.
  4. Include in your dessert hour the same type of dessert that was served at your parents’ wedding, such as the now-hot retro bananas flambé.
  5. Create signature cocktails, and name them after your relatives, such as ‘Stephanie’s Strawberry Margarita’ or ‘Maria’s Chocolate Martini.’
  6. At the start of your reception, perhaps even in place of your first dance, propose a toast to your parents, grandparents, relatives and guests. You can also make this toast right before you cut your cake if you don’t want to miss out on the first dance magic.
  7. Dedicate a song to your parents during the reception’s dancing hours.
  8. After your spotlight dances, surprise all sets of parents by having them dance to a song you’ve chosen for all of them (too many individual dances makes this opening to the reception drag a bit, so keep it shorter with the one song, or even a partial song that other guests are then invited to dance to.)
  9. Musically talented relatives can perform a song during your reception, perhaps during the dinner hour.
  10. If there’s a song that’s special to you and your siblings, request a song dedication to them as well. Or, request a song that all of your siblings on both sides of the family can dance to.
  11. The last song of the evening can be dedicated to your families…each and every member of them.

Wedding Freebie! Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding: Including Kids

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Want to honor the little ones at your wedding? Here’s a freebie excerpt from 100 Wedding Trends and Tips: Ways to Include and Honor Your Family, my $.99 Kindle ebook  : 

Including Kids

  1. Allow the kids to have some say in what they’ll wear. Your little nieces can perhaps pick out the style of floral headband they’d like to wear, or choose the shade of pink for their dress sash. Kids love it when adults listen to them, and ask their opinion, and they’ll be happier at dress-up time when they know they helped design their own style.
  2. As they walk down the aisle, have kids carry a cute sign, perhaps saying, “Here Comes the Bride” or as a surprise to the groom: “She’s on her way!”
  3. Write fabulous wedding vows to your kids, if you or your groom have them. Promise to love and guide them, protect them and support their dreams. You might even give them their own special piece of jewelry to commemorate your becoming a family.
  4. In your wedding décor, display photos of you with the kids, so that they’re on the table filled with wedding portraits from your relatives. They love to be included, especially if they’re your own kids.
  5. Before the wedding, tell kids that they’ll get to ‘style’ a wedding photo of you with them. They can then practice with you in different, funny poses like jumping in the air or making silly faces. Post-ceremony, it’ll take no time at all for your photographer to snap this special kid-planned photo, and they’ll feel very proud of getting to decide on an ‘official’ wedding photo.
  6. Be sure to hit the photo booth with all the kids, in a group to make it go faster. Kids notice if you step into the booth with your own nieces and neglect to do so with your groom’s nieces. So be sure to give all kids equal photo time.
  7. Let the kids choose the song that will play as they’re introduced into the room at the start of the reception. It helps to give little ones two or three songs to choose from, or else you’ll have a tough time, and they may keep changing their minds. Tweens and teens can name their own fun song for their entrance, if you’d like to set them apart from the bridal party or have a lot of junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen.

Get more freebie ideas from my book The Bride’s Guide to Freebies.

brides guide to freebies

Wedding Book Giveaway! My Book “Weddings Away” for Your Destination Wedding, Girls’ Getaway and All Wedding Season Celebration Trips!

Time for a Wedding Freebie! I’m Giving Away 3 signed copies of my new book Weddings Away

Weddings Away cover

This one is JUST for U.S. locations; sorry, no international sends right now, but we’re working on other giveaways coming up!

All you have to do is post a comment here, even a smiley-face, then say hi on Twitter @sharonnaylorwed. No tagging friends needed. We’re making this easy as pie! Deadline is 3/15/18.

Here’s the Amazon write-up for my book

Now that you’ve said, “I do” to having a destination wedding, it’s time to make your fairy tale getaway celebration a reality!

Whether you’re planning an island wedding, overseas nuptials, or an intimate gathering in a beloved beach house or a charming village close to home, this invaluable guide from go-to wedding expert Sharon Naylor gives you all the information you need to make your magical day meaningful, memorable, and carefree—for you, and for your guests! You’ll discover:

*How to choose the right planner—and how to get the most out of your on-site wedding professionals

* Up-to-date wedding etiquette and planning tips from celebrity wedding planners and experts

* New ways to use social media accounts, blogs and apps for info-gathering and inspiration

* Invaluable advice for when it’s a destination wedding for out-of-town guests but not for the couple

*How to plan amazing and unforgettable destination wedding weekend outings and events

*Great ideas for getaway bachelor or bachelorette parties, as well as arranging a romantic pre-wedding escape for you to reconnect with your beloved before the big day!

* Must-have tips and to-dos for your destination wedding scouting trips

From navigating travel trends and social media to benefitting from little-known freebies, this comprehensive guide to planning your wedding from afar is brimming with information you won’t easily find anywhere else. Weddings Away has everything you need to keep your happily-ever-after stress-free and smooth sailing!

Good luck!