FREE Chapter from my New Book “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies!”

bride's guide to freebies

It’s time for another FREE chapter of one of my wedding books! This time, it’s my newest, “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies,” which is all about getting freebies the RIGHT way, and working WITH your fabulous vendors to score budget-saving items and services for your big day. As I always say, you’v got to hire great wedding vendors. They know where fantastic freebies are and can help you get them!

Chapter 2: What’s Realistic to Ask For

You’ll have far more success in securing freebies if you stick to realistic requests. Wedding experts have to buy everything that’s needed for your wedding, and the time they spend pre-, during- and post-wedding to fulfill your wishes is valuable. So asking for $10,000 in free catering isn’t going to be received very well. Asking the videographer to edit your video for free will make him laugh. Video editing is very time-consuming, often taking dozens of hours more than the time he spent filming your wedding to get just right.

To keep from insulting your vendors, or from looking like you’re completely naïve about how much food, liquor, flowers, fabrics and other items cost, stick with these rules to help improve your odds of getting a Yes when you ask for a freebie:

  • Ask what a vendor already has. As you’ll read in upcoming chapters, some vendors have storerooms  full of glass vases, pedestal centerpiece bowls, candelabras, linens and other items that were left over from prior weddings or not used because prior weddings were canceled. If you ask to see their stock, you might be able to have those pretty bowls or linens used in your wedding décor for free.
  • Ask for low-time items.   The reason a wedding cake is so expensive is that it takes the cake baker many hours to pipe on frosting in lace designs or make 200 sugar paste daisies to decorate it with. If you ask for an element that comes without a ton of labor, your freebie odds increase. “I had a bride who asked for thirty short-cut ranunculus centerpieces, and since they take a few seconds to make, I threw in half for free,” says one grateful-for-the-easy-task floral designer.
  • Limit your freebie-ask to one thing, such as an extra cocktail party station or an extra dessert, not an entire class of free things like an entire dessert bar. Managers are far more likely to reward your modest request with that one station you asked for.
  • Be open to non-identical things. A vendor may have, or may be able to get, small collections of coordinating chargers or table runners, and can mix and match in your reception space to great effect.
  • Ask for local things. If a vendor can pop to a local store to buy all the settings you need, she may give you a freebie because you haven’t required her to drive two states away, or organize a difficult order from overseas with customs hassles.
  • Ask for what’s in-season and plentiful. If your caterer can get bushels of seasonal apples from a local farm for next to nothing, she may throw in extra desserts or a hot cider bar. Visit to see what’s in-season in your area during the time of your wedding as pre-research.
  • Ask for a style upgrade. I spoke with Marni Gold, from about her  decorative card boxes that guests pop those gift envelopes into, and she said that when a bride orders a two-layer box, she happily adds on an extra decorated layer to a great design of card box to make a great impression.

What’s not realistic to ask for:

  • Food, flowers and other large-volume supplies that are the foundation of the day and come to the vendor at a sizeable price. That would be too much to ask them to pay for.
  • Free labor by their assistants. It’s not their job to iron your 50 tablecloths for free, nor is it fair to ask them to work your wedding day without fair wages. That’s actually illegal.
  • Free labor by other workers, like bartenders and valet workers.
  • Free shipping or delivery.  Fuel is expensive, as is the pay for delivery workers and set-up crews, so don’t ask for this one to be thrown in. (If it’s offered to you, great!)
  • A greater-value item than  one you’re replacing. If the florist calls to say peonies aren’t  available, so you’ll have to choose another type of bloom, don’t expect free orchids and tropical plants as the replacement.
  • Anything that YOU wouldn’t want to do for free!

More time that the vendor can comfortably spend on your wedding. This is important. When you book a coordinator, he or she gauges the scope of your wedding, how much work will go into your plans, and then how many other weddings he or she can book for that same time. If you start expanding your plans and being the Headache Client, you’re not likely to get freebies.

Get it at Barnes and Noble in paperback or NOOK:

Get it at Amazon in paperback or Kindle:

Newlyweds, Plan for a 5-Year Photoshoot with a Professional Photographer!

Photo by Rich Penrose,

Photo by Rich Penrose,

I can hardly believe it’s been 5 years since Joe and I got married, and as I’m preparing for our anniversary celebration, I’m thinking we should book a 5 Year Photoshoot with our professional photographer! We have gorgeous photos from our wedding day, and we have more than a few framed in our home…and as I’m looking at tons of Pinterest engagement portrait photos, I’m thinking, “We should definitely have that experience!” The beautiful location, the setting sun, the way professional photographers capture the light and snap those priceless moments out of regular things like a kiss or laughing together. There’s true artistry in professional photographers’ work, and couples who get engagement portraits love those chic and stylish photos as much as their own wedding day photos.

Many pro photographers offer 1 year anniversary photo sessions as part of their package, which is brilliant. That first year of marriage is blissfully romantic and exciting, with lots of firsts and new beginnings. A 1-year photoshoot is free of wedding nerves, and turns into a pretty splendid day!

After 5 years, you’ve been through some stuff. Your new house had some pipes break under your entire first floor (that happened to us,) illness might have happened (I had radiation for an early stage breast cancer,) parents may have passed away (I miss my Dad!) And great stuff happens, too, like hearing the garage door open and getting as excited as a puppy that your husband is home, spending holidays with family and watching your spouse grow close to your cousins, milestone birthdays call for parties, vacations get romantic, adventures abound, and there are lots of flowers and new Louboutins (thanks, honey!) Five years should be celebrated!

So let’s make the Five Year Photoshoot a Thing, so that newlyweds — and you’re still considered newlyweds at five years! — can style a whole new, dreamy photoshoot, dress up, and capture that gorgeous look of love that’s grown only stronger over the years, through everything, the good, the bad, the richer, the poorer, the sickness, the health, the forsaking all others, the new, the old, the borrowed…

We’ve got the photographer in mind, and a 5 Year Photoshoot is definitely on the horizon, along with many, many more years of married bliss.

A cute 5 Year Photoshoot idea!

A cute 5 Year Photoshoot idea!

Or THIS! Photo courtesy of

Or THIS! Photo courtesy of


Hot Wedding Flower Trend: Using Your State Flower

Personalizing wedding flowers just took a new twist! Brides are incorporating their state flowers in their bouquets and floral decor! [We even have a bride who entered my current contest who’s using her state flower!]

Photo courtesy of Monday Flowers

Do you know what your state flower is? Here is a list from the site that will show you the blooms! Use one state flower for the locale of the wedding, or use both your and your groom’s homestate flowers. Or, tribute the state where you went to school, or where you met one another! So many ways to use this trend!

Alabama Camellia  
Alaska Forget Me Not  
Arizona Saguaro Cactus Blossom  
Arkansas Apple Blossom  
California California Poppy  
Colorado Rocky Mountain Columbine    
Connecticut Mountain laurel  
Delaware Peach Blossom  
Florida Orange Blossom  
Georgia Cherokee Rose  
Hawaii Pua Aloalo  
Idaho Syringa – Mock Orange  
Illinois Purple Violet  
Indiana Peony  
Iowa Wild Prairie Rose  
Kansas Sunflower  
Kentucky Goldenrod  
Louisiana Magnolia  
Maine White pine cone and tassel  
Maryland Black-eyed susan  
Massachusetts Trailing-Arbutus  
Michigan Apple Blossom  
Minnesota Pink and white lady’s-slipper  
Mississippi Magnolia  
Missouri Hawthorn  
Montana Bitterroot  
Nebraska Goldenrod  
Nevada Sagebrush  
New Hampshire   Purple lilac  
New Jersey Violet  
New Mexico Yucca flower  
New York Rose  
North Carolina American Dogwood  
North Dakota Wild Prairie Rose  
Ohio Scarlet Carnation  
Oklahoma Mistletoe  
Oregon Oregon Grape  
Pennsylvania Mountain Laurel  
Rhode Island Violet  
South Carolina Yellow Jessamine  
South Dakota Pasque Flower  
Tennessee Iris  
Texas Bluebonnet  
Utah Sego lily  
Vermont Red Clover  
Virginia American Dogwood  
Washington Coast Rhododendron  
West Virginia Rhododendron  
Wisconsin Wood Violet  
Wyoming Indian Paintbrush  

Be in Destination I Do magazine!

I just love Destination I Do magazine! My articles have been featured in this gorgeous glossy, and the magazine’s editor is spectacular! They’re inviting you to submit your wedding story and photos for possible appearance in an upcoming issue, so I thought I’d share the details with you! Here’s their announcement from a post at the @antibride site—

For those of you who have kindly run out and picked up our latest issue, you probably noticed a new addition to the magazine in the form of our Real Readers section. We’ve found a way to give back to our readers while showing potential destination brides the ways in which Destination I Do can help. The section showcases real Destination I Do readers as they share their story of how our magazine has helped them.

Our next issue is rapidly approaching and we’re now looking for more real readers. So, attention all you dedicated followers out there! Are you currently planning a destination wedding or planned one in the past with the help of Destination I Do? If so, share your story with us and you might just find yourself gracing the pages of Destination I Do’s Spring/Summer 2011 issue.

Check out our Winter issue – just hit the stands!

If you’re interested in being featured in our Spring/Summer 2011 Real Readers sections send the following things to by December 17.

Submission List:

-A jpg image of yourself with an issue of the magazine (it doesn’t have to be the most recent issue.)

-An explanation of how Destination I Do has helped you.

-What you did/plan to do for your destination wedding or where you went for your honeymoon. (If the location was featured in Destination I Do.)

-Your name and email address.

We look forward to seeing all of your wonderful submissions. Thanks in advance and spread the word if you know someone else who has been helped by Destination I Do Magazine. Also, don’t forget to have your materials to us by December 17.