Top Ten Wedding Favor Ideas!

photo from The Wedding Lens!

Obviously there are a million ideas out there for wedding favors — from books to photos to plants. But sometimes it’s helpful to see the famous top ten. Here, my friends, are some great ideas for favors.

  1. Seeds. Give out seeds for a plant or flowers. You can order personalized seed packets or stickers with your names & the date on them so people will remember where they got them from!
  2. Tea. At one wedding I went to, they had cute little boxes of tea. They’re really cute, have a sticker with the couples’ names on it, and it’s useful (and tastey!)
  3. Boxes of chocolate. A box of chocolate can range from a little box with a single truffle to a little hand made packet with M&Ms in it. Obviously the type of chocolate can depend on your price range — and your taste buds!
  4. Donations. I think donating is a great way to give back to your community, so why not do it as a favor for your wedding? You can either print a card for the table that says something like “In lieu of favors, we donated to….” or have the DJ make the announcement. Or just break tradition and dont say anything, knowing that you did a good thing.
  5. Eco-friendly grocery bags. Help the environment AND help your friends get their groceries. You can print your names and the date or put a silly picture on it.
  6. Bottles of booze. Ok, I don’t literally mean that you should buy your pals a fifth of vodka, but something like that. Two friends of mine gave out bottles of limoncello… but not just any limoncello! They MADE it themselves, bottled it in adorable bottles, corked ’em and then put tags on the bottles so that they served as the placecards too. (In other words, each tag said someone’s name and their table number)
  7. Candles. How about getting a lovely scented candle? Or perhaps a candle in a candle holder with your name on it? It’s small, useable, and creates ambiance. And it’s different.
  8. Mints. You can get little boxes of mints!
  9. Coasters. There are a lot of different kinds of coasters out there that you could give out. Nice ones with your names and the date, or a photo coaster, or a class one, or a styrofoam one. You can also buy either plain ones or frame ones yourself and write or place stickers on them to personalize them.
  10. Photo / Picture frame. You can give out a photo of you and your significant other in a frame — or just the frame itself! People can put a photo of themselves at your wedding in the frame! You can also give out one per couple if you want to.

DO you have other creative favor ideas? Share ’em!

~ Natasha

Why Bridesmaids & Groomsmen?

So last week I wrote blog post about why brides wear white wedding dresses and it’s led to a lot of other questions about the wedding planning process. In light of that, I decided that I should investigate more of these “traditions” to see where they came from. Now – why do we have bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Turns out that unlike the white wedding dress, the bridemaids and groomsmen is truly a “tradition” that stands the test of time.  There are several different version of the history out there, so I’ll just try to compile it the best way I can….

happy groomsmen at a modern day wedding! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Best Man & Groomsmen

So the long & the short of it is that the best man and the groomsmen have always been the guys who would say to the groom “dude, I got your back.”

Somewhere in the early A.D. era, there were when a dude couldn’t find a wife, he and his buddies would go to the next village over and steal a future wife. Yes, steal. The buddies not only helped with the stealing but they’d “get the groom’s back” during the wedding ceremony — you know, just in case the bride’s family wanted her back or something.

Other stories say that the groomsmen helped escort the bride to the wedding (even when she was a willing participant). 

bridesmaids at a modern day wedding, photo from The Wedding Lens

Maid of Honor & Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids were involved in the wedding ceremony for two reasons: to be a witness to the wedding and to confuse the evil spirits. Roman law required witnesses be present at the wedding — so that’s why the bridesmaids were there! Even today, many bridesmaids (or perhaps just the maid of honor) can serve as a witness to a wedding ceremony.

The evil spirit thing has to do with…. attire!


In the case of both the brides and the grooms, the groups would dress very similar to the bride & groom. Why? To ward off evil spirits of course! The idea was that the evil spirits would get confused by the similarity in dress. Which seems (to me) that maaybe those evil spirits weren’t so bright.

Anyway, “we’ve” kept the tradition of the bridesmaids dressing the same as each other, but not so much as the bride. Perhaps this is because the brides have recently adopted the tradition of wearing white instead of any old color. Obviously the groomsmen still dress very similarly to the groom.

So that’s the story of the bridesmaids & groomsmen. IS there anything you want to know the history of? Email me!

~ Natasha

Why Your Wedding Needs an Online Photo Album

Ok, I think I’ve done this before but I wanted to reiterate why oh why you need an online photo album and why oh why it should be on The Wedding Lens!

10. Your friends are bringing their digital cameras to your wedding anyway and they need a place online to upload their photos. Plus their photos are fun and candid… like this….

Photo from The Wedding Lens

9. Your friends can share their videos of the wedding on The Wedding Lens waaay before your videographer gets back to you….

8. You want you & your guests to be able to upload and download ALL photos and videos at full resolution.

photo from The Wedding Lens!

7. You want to use a photo sharing site that has incredible customer service with real people who respond to your questions and concerns. 

6. You want to use a site that your guests don’t have to register for in order to upload their photos!

5. Your friends like seeing each other’s photos and the one album will be accessible to everyone. They can print or download whichever ones they like and want.

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

4. The Wedding Lens takes care of emailing reminders to your guests – so you don’t have to think twice about it, or feel like you’re bothering your guests.

3. You think that the person who writes The Wedding Lens blog is incredibly witty, knowledgeable, and, well, cute! (No comments from the peanut gallery, please!)

2. You thought you wanted to put disposable cameras on each table, but you realized it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to ask your friends to upload all their own photos into your Wedding Lens album.  

1.  You really don’t want to have to go to 6 different websites to see all your friends’ photos of the wedding. It’s so much easier to have them all in ONE album online… on The Wedding Lens!

If that doesn’t convince you, let me know. I’ll work on it. 🙂

~ Natasha

Why a White Wedding Dress?

So a few of my friends are planning their weddings now and trying to decide what color wedding dress they want to have. Huh? Why not white? Well, they wanted to learn WHY it is what people succumb to this tradition of having a white wedding dress. After all, if you don’t understand it, why are you doing it?

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

I suppose “tradition” is a good enough reason, but when you look at the history of the white wedding dress, the “tradition” can only be traced back to 1840 when Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert of Saxe. She wore a white wedding dress…. but why? Well, it has nothing to do with virtue and everything to do with money. After all, even in 1840 you couldn’t re-wear a white dress! Not only because there were no events to where them to but also because white clothing was harder to clean. So it was very extravagent and prestigious to wear a white wedding dress.

So people were getting married in any ol’ color except for those who wanted to show their wealth and take after the British monarchy. And yet, slowly but surely the white wedding dress took a strong hold and everyone wanted to have that sort of glamour as part of their wedding.

During the Depression, women would marry in white — and then dye their dress so that they could rewear it. Or, they would marry in their fanciest of clothing out of necessity.

Anyway, the point is that the white wedding dress is not at all what I thought it was. It has nothing to do with virtue and a long, deep-seated history. It’s all relatively recent and has more to do with showing off money than anything else. Interesting, right? Especially since even today the wedding attire is “supposed to be” at least 5% of the total wedding budget.

With that in mind, I point out that there are other colors to marry in, if you’re looking for something that bucks with the recent tradition. An old poem explains the meaning of the wedding dress color:

Married in white, you will have chosen all right.

Married in grey , you will go far away.

Married in black, you will wish yourself back.

Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.

Married in blue, you will always be true.

Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl.

Married in green, ashamed to be seen,

Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow.

Married in brown, you’ll live out of town.

Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”

Incidentally, we did a post a while back about colorful wedding dresses — take a gander if you’re thinking about changing your wedding dress color from white to… something else.

What color will you marry in?

~ Natasha

Picking the Song for Your First Dance

I was just checking out some of my older posts and recalled one about first dances — and what songs people like to pick to dance to. It’s a fun post, so I thought I would repost the list of songs. In this new year, there are more songs that should be added to the list — or rather, just one that a friend recently introduced me to. It’s a little non-traditional and is more like a pop-dance song to dance to, but it’s fun!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

By the way, if I could find a link to the song online, I provided it – just click on the song title! I also linked to the artists’ website, if you click on the name of the artist.

So SmallCarrie Underwood

You Are the Best ThingRay La Montagne

Witness to Your LifeLori McKenna

Somebody LovedThe Weepies

UnforgettableNat King Cole

Can’t Help Falling In LoveElvis Presley 

The Way You Look TonightFrank Sinatra

It Had To Be YouHarry Connick, Jr.

What a Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong

Endless LoveDiana Ross & Lionel Richie

I’ve Been Loving You Too LongSeal

Little WondersRob Thomas

Say Hey (I Love You)Michael Franti & Spearhead

What song will you be dancing to? Share it!

~ Natasha

How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What (Part II)

The last blog post I wrote was all about how to plan your wedding — from moment of engagement until the final steps. What I didn’t include were things to know for the day of and miscellaneous things that come up whilst planning your wedding. That’s what I’m going to do here!

For the Day

  1. Put other people in charge! Your wedding party and friends and family should be able to help you with some last minute things that need to happen. Also, be sure that you don’t forget any of the top 5 things people forget! This means that you should make sure you have things like safety pins, bandaids, and tissues. But also make sure someone takes care of your personal stuff (like your camera).
  2. Someone will need to: set-up the guestbook, give money to vendors (and be sure to tip the vendors!), transport flowers, hold emergency items, put out the favors, and place cards with the info on your online photo album website!
  3. Remember to EAT during the reception!
  4. Clean-up & Recycling. Make sure you put people in charge of cleaning up and/or recycling. This should be planned for in advance, but someone in the wedding party should make sure it gets done — especially if it’s not something the venue does for you. By the way, consider donating leftovers to a foodbank.
  5. Stay calm, have fun, and enjoy the moments! Here are some tips for staying calm & tips to make sure you enjoy every moment.

Miscellaneous Wedding Planning

I referred to some of these aspects of wedding planning in the Part I, but here’s everything compiled:

  1. Children-free weddings:
    1. whether to have children or not
    2. how to tell your guests that their children may not attend.
  2. Registries:
    1. what to do about wedding gifts (generally – for both you & the guests)
    2. tips on the gift registry
    3. how to tell people where you’re registered
    4. how to ask for gift cards or money instead of gifts
    5. how to deal with anonymous or unlabeled gifts
    6. what to do if you need to return or exchange a gift
  3. Wedding insurance
    1. All about wedding insurance
  4. Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal dinners, Afterparty, Honeymoon: While this blog focuses on wedding planning, it’s important to think about these aspects of the pre- and post-wedding. Some families and friends assume that all five will take place. Others don’t find them necessary! You should do what YOU want!
  5. Staying together the night before: Consider whether you want to stay together the night before the wedding or not. Tradition says you should stay separately, but some couples find it more soothing to be with the love of their lives on one of the most stressful nights.
  6. Thank you notes
    1. when to send thanks especially when gifts come before the wedding date
    2. tips on writing thank you notes!
  7. Being charitable: How to get married AND be charitable at the same time!
  8. Wedding photos: Many times, the best part of the post-wedding is seeing the candid shots that your friends and family took. But a lot of times they’re all over the place on different websites. Make sure all your guests’ upload their photos into ONE online photo album! Give out the website info at the wedding, sign up in advance so The Wedding Lens can send reminder emails, and write the info into your thank you notes! Either way, make sure your photos are easily accessible, viewable, and downloadable!

Remember to check out our Green Wedding Tips and our Cheap Wedding Tips to help save your wallet & save the environment!

Still have questions? Email me!

~ Natasha

Amazing Chocolate Wedding Cakes!

Most people imagine their wedding cakes to be some sort of ornate white. Perhaps it’s decorated with flowers (real or frosting) or stripes or polka dots, but basically it’s white. But what if you’re a chocolate lover??

Recently the amazing people at Wedding Paper Divas posted about chocolate wedding cakes, after seeing this “incredible  feat” on Oprah where Oprah’s entire set was constructed of edible Godiva chocolate. So I became inspired by Oprah and the Wedding Paper Divas to show you, dear readers, some of the most delicious looking chocolate wedding cakes. That aren’t white. 🙂

First, in case you want to know what you’re getting into…. Here’s a slice of chocolate cake from Porto’s Bakery in Southern California. Looks delicious!

Chocolate cake from Porto's Bakery in Southern California!

Here’s a delicious looking chocolate cake with a nice “Congratulations” message on the top (and beautiful flowers, I might add!)

Delicious Photo from MakeLessNoise

And here’s another multi-layered chocolate cake, complete with the couple’s initial, flowers, and other decorations:

Chocolate Wedding Cake photo from The Wedding Lens!

The caption calls this one a “Groom’s cake” but I’d want this as my very own! A chocolate cake with chocolate strawberries? Incredible!

Chocolate Cake + Strawberries = Photo from JPCK

This cake is from the Cakery Bakery in Calgary, AB — AMAZING!

Chocolate Cake from Cakery Bakery in Calgary, AB!

Or, if you’re looking to mix it up a bit, how about a chocolate cake that’s blue? To be completely clear, this cake was a Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate ganache filling, with toffee. And completed with vanilla bean buttercream frosting. But who’s counting?

Yummy Photo from KimberlyKV

Wow. If this doesn’t make you feel like you can have a chocolate cake, I don’t know what will! Check out our list of cake-makers (also known as a list of bakeries) for more chocolate-cake-inspired ideas!

Happy chocolate wedding cake eating!

~ Natasha

Getting Your Wedding Guests There: Transportation!

Wedding Car photo from The Wedding Lens!

Depending on the type of wedding you’re having, and where, you may require your guests to do a bit of traveling. In most cases there are 3 times that transportation is necessary for your wedding guests:

  • from hotel to wedding ceremony site
  • from wedding ceremony site to wedding reception site (if in different locations)
  • from wedding reception site to hotel

While some of your guests may be locals and/or may have cars or rent cars, not everyone will do that — or be able to do that. Remember, going to a wedding is expensive! Sometimes people try to save money in whatever ways that they can. There are basically 3 options to resolve the transportation quandry:

  • rent a shuttle bus service or multiple cars to take care of your guests
  • organize a carpool where people with cars and pick up those without cars
  • give out cab numbers

Obviously renting a shuttle is the most expensive option, but it also alleviates a lot of stresses that guests have about attending weddings. The shuttle can pick up guests at the hotel, bring them to the venues, and return them home at the end of the evening. Be sure to rent the vehicles for at least one hour longer than you think you’ll need them; because of their own obligations, it may not be possible to make this change at the last minute.

Organizing a carpool requires a bit of coordination. If you decide to do this, ask someone who isn’t the couple getting married to figure it out. You can ask people whether they have a car to transport people (and the number of people) on the RSVP card. Or you can send out emails to guests later, as the date gets closer and people solidify plans. Be sure that if you are asking people to carpool that the guests stick together from hotel to ceremony, ceremony to reception, and reception to home again.

In terms of giving out cab numbers, I think that even if you do the above, you should ALWAYS have cab numbers on hand. Put a stack of business cards by the door at the reception. Have the information on your wedding reception invitation and on your wedding website. Put cab numbers everywhere! Why? Because sometimes a guest has more to drink than they intended and they just can’t (and shouldn’t!) drive. The more available cabs are, the more likely you are to avoid someone getting in their car to try to “make it home.” So just avoid that and give out cab numbers everywhere.

What will you do? Happy transporting!

~ Natasha

Creative Save-the-Dates!

A few days ago, one of the morning shows featured a Save-The-Date video that had “gone viral.” How funny to see your Save-The-Date on tv, when it’s supposed to only save-the-date for your friends and family! Anyway, it was such a clever video, it got me thinking about all the creative ways you can let people know that they should save that date for your wedding!

Save the Date with a personalized photo! This photo is from The Wedding Lens!

Remember: always include your names, the date, and the location on the STD. If possible, include your wedding website on there too so couples can be updated as needed.

1. Video: As I mentioned above, try sending out a video that you make at home. The one I saw on the morning show went WAY farther than you need to, so don’t use that as an example. (The STD was done was a movie trailer!) Consider just having you & your significant other talking in the camera. Or hold up signs. Or show photos of your favorite spots and include a shot of a card with the STD information on it.

2. One site suggests doing something creative (like using Scrabble letters to spell out the STD information) and then take a photo. Use that as a card that you can mail out.

3. Postcards! There are two ways to do this. a) One way is that you can create your own postcard. Use a photo of yourselves and insert the STD information. Or just provide the STD information. b) The second way is to use regular postcards (perhaps of the location of your wedding?) and write the STD information as the message on the back of the postcard.

4. Take photobooth photos together, while holding the Save the Date information. Then you can either affix it to a postcard, create a postcard from the photos, OR just scan it if you want to send digital STDs.

5. Go digital! In our continuing effort to encourate people to be more eco-friendly with wedding planning, try sending electronic Save-The-Dates! You can do any of the things above and email them. It even saves you postage!

Looking for more information on STDs? Check out our posts on How to Address Save the Dates, When to Send Save-The-Dates and Invitations, More Save the Date Ideas!

Do you have any creative Save-The-Date ideas you would like to share?

~ Natasha

U.S. & British Wedding Traditions

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Over the holidays, I went to the UK to visit family – including my niece, who aspires to be a wedding planner. She was telling me some of the traditions that take place in the UK that are so very different from the US traditions that I know so well. I thought it would be interesting to discuss – and bring in some of our UK friends to help us out!

1. Walking down the aisle. In the United States, it is traditional for the wedding party (bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, ring bearer) to walk down the aisle before the bride. In Britain, it’s the opposite: Brides are the first to walk down the aisle. The bride is the first to be seen so as to emphasize her importance and ensure full attention is on her.

Also, in the U.S. it is common for bridemaids and groomsmen to walk down the aisle arm-in-arm. This NEVER happens in the U.K. Interesting, right?

2. Bridesmaids. In the U.S., bridesmaids are usually friends or family of the bride or groom — around the same age. In the U.K., there are older bridesmaids (who are the brides/grooms age, roughly) and younger bridesmaids (who are around 10-12 years old). And the younger bridesmaids (it seems to me) wear something that parallels what the bride wears – a white dress, usually, that might have a colorful sash.

3. Hats. In the U.S., no one wears hats to a wedding. In the U.K, women wear hats — big ones too! And, if not hats, then something on the head (which, aside from the bride’s veil) just wouldn’t happen in the US. Check out these from our UK friends!

Obviously this is just a quick list to get us started. If you know of other traditions that are different between the US & UK, share em!

~ Natasha