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

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Wedding Question: How to Help a Friend Budget

One of my friends is getting married in about six months, though she just got engaged. She hasn’t booked anything yet but she keeps talking about how she wants the perfect dress, amazing flowers, and a ton of food and alcohol. And she wants to have 500 people! I just don’t get how she can do that given that she doesn’t have money and neither does her family. How can I help her budget this in a way that makes sense?

a bride shares her big moment with her close friends! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Good question! Wedding budgeting is a bit overwhelming and it’s easy to just skip that part and get on to the fun planning parts! But budgeting is key!

Explain to your friend that you really need to work out a budget for everything. Some people think this means sitting down and deciding how much they have to spend on each thing. And that’s fine! But it’s a good idea to know what may be expected. So start by checking out our guide to create a wedding budget.

Help your friend by taking a look at the average cost of weddings in the locale where she’s getting married. The average cost of a wedding in the US is probably around $30,000, but it depends on where you are. Some regions it will be higher, some lower. If you can help her see that her idealistic dream is going to cost her a pretty penny, maybe she’ll either change what she wants OR she’ll find a way to afford it all.

Get an idea of what the expenses will be and how many things there are to plan and pay for. This will also help shed some light on a realistic budget.

The most important thing that you should do is help support your friend. When she realizes that she wont be able to afford what she’s dreamed of, she’s going to be pretty upset and sad. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s not and how she feels about her wedding is real. Be sure you make her feel good about the positive things — the friends and family who will be there to love her and share in the joyful occasion.

Hope that helps! And if she’s needs some good cost-cutting tips, check out our cheap wedding tips.

Got other wedding planning questions, just ask! Email natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

Five Tips for an Even Better Wedding Reception!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

Your wedding reception will be a great reflection of you & your partner’s style, musical tastes, and (most importantly) love for each other. But there are some tips that will make your reception even better — regardless of your personal style!

  1. If there’s time between the ceremony and the reception, give your guests something to do. I dont mean that you have to rent out a space for them, but suggest a place for them to go — a coffee shop, a bar, a museum, just something. I one time ended up sitting in a Quiznos for three hours because I was from out of town and didn’t know what else to do or where else to go.
  2. Let your guests know what’s going on — have a program and/or have the DJ/Band/Emcee explain what is happening when. People don’t like to feel out of the loop! Just letting them know that they’ll be eating their meals before the speeches will make people relax and enjoy themselves a bit more — except for maybe the speech-giver.
  3. You won’t be able to create a seating chart that makes everyone happy, but if at all possible, seat people who know each other together — even if one of ’em is single. Singles hate singles tables. It’s awkward! But if the person knows just one other person, try putting them together. It will put everyone at ease.
  4. If you’re not providing transportation for your guests have cab numbers readily available. People drink & they have to get home — make it easy on them!
  5. Take breaths,  enjoy every moment, and HAVE FUN! Your happiness makes everyone else happy. I promise.

There are LOTS of things that you can do to make your reception even better, but these are just a few things that I’ve taken note of over the years. As much as you want this day to be perfect to you, don’t forget that your guests are there for you and don’t want to be forgotten, taken for granted, or left out of the loop. They are there to share in the joy and happiness of the day! So let them! 🙂

Happy wedding!

~ Natasha

Guest Post: It’s Time to Negotiate: Encouraging the Bride and Groom to Haggle For the Perfect Wedding

The Wedding Lens is proud to present this guest post from our friend Sarah at Adiamor… We found it to be very helpful and interesting, so we hope you enjoy it too!

As a new decade begins, an old tradition comes to an end. The days of an extravagant, luxurious wedding seem to be well behind us as most young couples face difficult economic times. Accompanied with the reality that parents contribute less and less, twosomes find themselves facing a lot of wedding day sacrifices. But if you and your spouse-to-be are savvy when it comes to negotiating with vendors, you can still have the wedding of your dreams, with money to spare.

 First and foremost, don’t be afraid. In these strenuous economic times, vendors will expect you to negotiate on costs. Just remember, they want your business. They will always offer their services at a high price presuming you will make counter offers.  There are a number of ways to cut corners without coming off cheap or tacky. Let’s give a real world example with one of the most crucial elements of a wedding: the flowers.

 Beautiful flowers compliment the wedding ceremony in so many different ways. They are the centerpieces at the reception, the decoration at the ceremony, and most importantly, the bride’s focal point as she saunters down the aisle. They symbolize elegance, tradition, and express the love and sentiment that is inherent in a wedding. 

 To make certain you get the best prices, the first piece of advice is to buy your flowers from a wholesaler rather than a florist. Many wholesalers provide arranging services as well, so nothing is lost by using their services. Before you approach the wholesaler, research exactly what flowers you want. Compare prices on your own to give yourself the best bargaining tools. 

 After you’ve come up with a list of favorite flowers, put together a collection of arrangements you like as well. The more you can come up with on your own, the easier the job is for the wholesaler. Once you have a good idea of what you want, approach the wholesaler with confidence. Remember, you know what you want, and you will get it, otherwise you are going with someone else. 

 Another key to providing savings with your wedding flowers is to put together packages.  While different florists and wholesalers may offer lower prices on centerpieces, or bouquets, it usually benefits you to use one company for everything. This will get you an all inclusive deal, and help save more money. 

 The most important thing to remember while negotiating any part of your special day is to stand firm. While you are interested in saving money, under the current economic climate, companies are willing to work with you to get your business. Take advantage of this while you can. The bargains are out there waiting for you, you just have to be brave enough and smart enough to take advantage of them.

Sarah Harris is the Marketing Manager at Adiamor Engagement Rings. Adiamor offers a large selection of engagement ring settings, loose diamonds, and other fine diamond jewelry at affordable prices.

 

Planning to Get Married in Vegas?

AS I mentioned last week, a friend of The Wedding Lens is planning to get married AND in Las Vegas! Not because they’re getting married quickly, but because the couple has family the Vegas and wants to be close to the family. So the question is — if you’re not trying to get in to a quick Elvis wedding, what do you need to do to get married in Las Vegas?

Wedding Ceremony (not necessarily in Vegas!) photo from The Wedding Lens!

First, there are lots of convention centers and hotels, of course. But there are tons of churches and restaurants too — that are OFF the strip! Check out some of the romantic wedding locations that are just off the strip and provide beautiful scenery. There are also a whole slew of “Off the Beaten Path” suggestions to look at that might give some good ideas.

Second, know the legal requirements: Once you get your venue, get a marriage license! Appear together at the Marriage License Bureau (201 Clark Avenue, (702) 671-0600). You can download a marriage license application from the web and learn more about the legal requirements at http://www.accessclarkcounty.com/depts/clerk/pages/marriage_information.aspx.

Third, keep in mind a few things:
  • If you get married in the summer, remember that it’s hot. Don’t just remember this because your guests will want to be indoors and air-conditioned, remember this because your cake will melt. Seriously.
  • Book early. Many people want to hitched in Vegas, so places fill up quick — especially if you want to get married on the strip. Yes, even by Elvis.
  • Make sure caterers are allowed at your venue OR that you like the food that the venue serves. That’s always true, but sometimes it’s harder to find venues that allow outside catering. Just make sure.

For everything else, it’s about the same: find the florist, the other vendors, you know… plan your wedding and be sure you keep in mind our tips for the day of your wedding & for staying calm!

Got more questions? Just ask!  Email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

How to Word Your Wedding Invitation

When you’re writing your wedding invitations, sometimes the wording can be the hardest part! Here I’ll break down the invitation into parts so we can put it together. Everything that I’m posting is the traditional etiquette. The modern rules are more lenient – and pretty much you can do whatever you’re comfortable with! I will cover the modern ideas on invitations in another blog post.

 General Wording Etiquette

  • No punctuation, except after titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr.)
  • Capitalize the beginning of the sentence, proper names, and titles – and nothing else.
  • The number of the date is spelled out; it follows the day and precedes the month (eg. Sunday, the fifth of June).
  • Spell out the year (eg. Two thousand and ten)
  • Spell out the times and refer to the clock (eg. Half after four instead of 4:30 p.m.; Four o’clock in the afternoon instead of 4:00 p.m.; Eight o’clock in the evening instead of 8:00 p.m.)
  • Use third person instead of first person (eg. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” instead of “we”).

 Sample

Just to give you an idea of what the final product will look like, here’s a sample. I’ll take each line separately:

Line 1: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Line 2: request the pleasure of your company

Line 3: at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

Line 4: on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

Reception to follow.

 Line one: Who hosts?

The host of the wedding is usually the primary financial contributor to the wedding, but this is not always the case. Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts. So line one would say Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s Father’s Name (eg. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith).

 Line two: How to invite?

The second line can be done a number of ways depending on the place of the ceremony and your personal taste.

 If the wedding is held in a religious place of worship, use “request the honor of your presence.” If the wedding takes place elsewhere, use “request the pleasure of your company” or “request the honor of your company.”

 The most formal traditional invitations do not use “your” in the wording, but leave a blank space to handwrite the name of the guest. For example, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honor of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Murray’s presence. . . .” This is rarely done now, however.

 Line three: Who is getting married?

Obviously this should be the easiest part, but there are still a few ways to do this. Since it’s the bride’s parents who are hosting and inviting, the wording would be: “in the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer Anne, to Mr. Michael Johnson.”

 Line four and onward: When and where? What else?

Time goes first, then location. Then you can add in a line about the reception – but a reception card will be separate.

 So, bringing it all together:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten

at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

 Reception to follow.

 What about the reception information?

The reception information will be on a separate card. The only information that you need on the invitation is that a reception will follow.

 If you do not want children in attendance, instead of writing “Reception to follow,” specify “Adult reception to follow.” 

 Again, these are the traditions, not necessarily applicable to your particular situation.

~ Natasha

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

So you’re engaged… now what? That’s the beginning of the wedding planning process! A friend of The Wedding Lens recently got engaged and was asking questions about time frames. So here we go!

Because engagements take place for different lengths of time, I’m not going to specify how long before the wedding date you should do each action. But this is generally the ORDER of things. Where possible, I’ve linked to other related blog posts on the topic! (And here’s just a list of things to do for wedding planning, if you just want that) Also, be sure to check out our Cheap Wedding Tips and our Green Wedding Tips, both of which have great ideas to help you out during different stages of the planning process!

First Steps

  1. Create a budget! This means taking a list of everything that you know you’ll have to spend money on and deciding how much you can dedicate to each portion. Check out our Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget — which specifies which costs are fixed and which depend on the number of guests.
  2. Pick the wedding party. This seems early in the process right? True! But the wedding party can help you with the tasks that you’ll have to do. Pick early, they’ll help early!
  3. Divide tasks! After reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll get a full picture of everything there is to do: from marriage license to centerpieces.  Once you have that list, divide up the tasks however you see fit.

Things That Shouldn’t Wait

  1. Marriage license.  Every state has different rules on the time frame needed to apply for a license and to get married. Make sure you know what you need to do before you get too close to your wedding date!
  2. Find a venue, date, and officiant. This is sort of circular because you need the venue and the officiant to be available on the same date. But keep in mind that you may have to pick two venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Just be sure they’re both available on the same date! Here’s how to pick a wedding date. Also, make sure you look at how to find a venue AND the questions you need to ask each venue. With officiants, think about whether you will have a religious officiant or a friend. Find out any state requirements if you want a friend or family member to officiate.
  3. Create the guest list. Sometimes it’s hard to limit the guest list, so consider having A lists, B lists, and C lists. Here are our tips for the guest list. Also, be sure to decide whether you want kids to attend or not.
  4. Themes/Styles/Colors. The earlier you select any themes, styles, or colors, the earlier you can get started with some of the other aspects of planning. After all those three aspects will impact the dress selections, the flowers selections, etc. Here’s some help on how to pick your color scheme.
  5. Wedding dress. The wedding dress should be purchased earlier in the planning process because it might need to be fitted several times. Depending on how long your engagement lasts, this should be done ASAP. Plus the bride will want her dress before the bridesmaids get theirs! Here’s how to choose  the right wedding dress and some ideas for colorful wedding dresses.
  6. Save the Date.  The save-the-date (or STD) should tell guests when & where you’re getting married. When should you send the save-the-dates? It depends on when you’re getting married, but generally, send them as soon as possible. If you are ordering save-the-dates that you want to look similar to your invitations, there are companies that give you package deals. Here is a timeline of when to send save-the-dates and when to send invitations. Here are some creative save the date ideas and how to address the save-the-dates.
  7. Order your online photo album from The Wedding Lens. By ordering your online photo album from The Wedding Lens early, you can start telling your guests where to upload photos AND you can include your engagement photos in the album or any other older photos to share your memories with your guests.
  8. Wedding website. Obviously put as much information on here as you can, but here’s what to include on your wedding website.
  9. Find vendors. This means finding vendors for everything you might want. Here is how to find the right vendors for you (and each category that follows links to a blog post that will help you narrow down what will be best for you in that area). Photographer (engagement photos and day of), videographer, florist (selecting flowers), caterer, DJ/band/music, bakery, wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Any other kind of vendors you might want (eg if you want to have wedding entertainment such as a photo booth, cigar bar, or silhouette artist) can usually wait a bit longer in the planning process.

Stuff That Can Wait a Little Bit

  1. Invitations! What goes inside, when to send, how to tell your guests that no kids can come, RSVP cards. Remember, there are specific rules on how to address invitations, so make sure you check those out (yes, there will be a blog post coming!)
  2. Attire: Groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Here’s everything related to helping you select wedding attire!
  3. Hair & makeup for the bride and bridesmaids, if you would like.
  4. Rings! Dont forget you both need to exchange rings on the day of the wedding. Here are some green tips on picking the rings.
  5. Decorating: flower arrangement (or alternatives to flower bouquets), centerpieces, plates/napkins/glassware, guestbook, favors, place cards, menu cards, cake toppers, chair rentals/chair covers, other entertainment)
  6. Guest-related: Accomodations, transportation, and out of town bags!
  7. Get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the perfect time in the planning process to get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens! When you share the information on accomodations & transporation with your guests, you can also share the link to the album and remind people to bring their digital cameras to your wedding. Plus people can start uploading old and new memories of you & your fiance(e)!
  8. Menu planning: buffet vs sit-down meal; alcohol – open bar, soft bar, signature drinks. Here are all things food & drink related to help guide you through this!

Final Steps

  1. RSVPs
  2. Ceremony planning: walking down the aisle, vows, readings — and whatever else you want to take place.
  3. Seating chart: who will sit where during the reception? Here’s how to create a seating chart!
  4. Music (song) selections for band or DJ, both during the ceremony and reception.
  5. Remind your guests to bring their cameras to your wedding day so they can capture memories for your online photo album.
  6. Planning the timeline: This means planning the timeline of who arrives where at what time, what order things occur, and who transports what where. It’s meant to be distributed so that everyone is on the same page about what’s going on.
  7. Programs: This lets your guests know what is going to happen & when! Here’s the information on writing your programs.

So that’s everything you have to do…. Next blog post will cover what comes up on the day of and any other last minute things and miscellaneous things you should be aware of! (Like gift registry, thank you cards, wedding insurance, things people forget, staying calm…. all coming up!) 

Good luck! Remember, if you have questions – email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha