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Scoping Out and Setting Up a Seating Chart

Putting together a seating chart begins with deciding whether or not to have one. There’s a reason so many weddings use a solid seating arrangement, so make sure you think through your reasoning before abandoning one. Weddings without a seating chart tend to feature guests milling about, one or two shy outsiders, and large groups of sorority sisters dragging a dozen chairs around a 6-person table. If you want to avoid the worries and woes of open seating, here are a few organizational tips to get you started:

The Visual
Escort cards are the most popular way to alert your guests to their table assignments, and are a fun way to distribute favors and set up a fun and stylish welcome table. You can also set up a sophisticated wall hanging or poster with the table assignments on them. Many couples have found creative ways to display guest table assignments without the use of escort cards. Some couples choose to designate individual seat assignments to their guests (by way of smaller escort cards or menu inserts), but – if my previous experiences are any indication -- they will largely be ignored.   The Scoping
Before you think about table assignments, you need to now how your venue arranges reception seating for groups of your particular size. Usually, they know the flow of a room. If you’re hosting a smaller gathering, the venue may not have 10 or even 8-person round tables. Plan accordingly! Communicate with your venue and learn about your seating options. If you want to negotiate a change, listen to their advice against it carefully. Once you’re satisfied with the result, draw up a crude map of how your venue will look come the big day. You will need this map as you plan out your seating arrangements.

The Planning
This may seem silly, but mapping out your venue and the available seats with something interactive and visual will really help with the charting process. I find that a solid hand-drawn map with little sticky notes with scribbled names works just fine. Write the names of your guests on your sticky notes, and – using a crude drawn mockup of how the reception space will look – arrange your guests in a few different ways, noting relationships, familial tensions, and the individual preferences of your guests. Some couples choose to color coordinate their guests to make sure that they are seating an appropriate mix of backgrounds at each table, but you know your guests better than I do! Play with a few floor plans before committing the final decisions to ink and paper.

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Finding the Right Catholic Unity Candle

The Modernization of the Catholic Unity Candle

Catholic Unity Candle

One of the most moving moments of a Catholic wedding ceremony is the lighting of the unity candle. Whether the couple lights it solely themselves as a symbol of their unity, or if their mothers contribute to the moment as well, the heart of the unity tradition that is the Catholic unity candle lives on in both classic and modern interpretations of the tradition. What does a Catholic unity candle need to include to truly be called a Catholic unity candle? The truth is, any candle used to perform the ceremony during the service is a Catholic unity candle. Some couples choose to find a candle that is inscribed with their favorite biblical verse or the sign of the cross, but any candle that symbolically unites you during mass is a Catholic unity candle. Some families are now choosing the family Catholic unity candle option, where the children of the couple can join in the symbolic unity of the entire family. Ask your officiant for his or her opinion regarding the use of a Catholic unity candle during your ceremony. The flexibility of the tradition is one of the reasons it still remains so popular!
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Displaying your Wedding Dessert Boxes

Why you Shouldn’t Skimp on Wedding Dessert Boxes

Wedding Dessert Boxes

  The best wedding favors are the ones you can eat. Wedding dessert boxes are a wonderful way to give your guests the gift of food while unloading some of the leftovers you weren’t expecting. How do you make the transition from glorified doggie bag to elegant wedding favor? Well, the trick really is in the wedding dessert boxes. Find wedding dessert boxes that fit the look and feel of your day; don’t just opt for the cheapest ones you could find. Wedding dessert boxes can save you a ton of money on wedding favors, but pretty packaging makes all the difference when it comes to style and elegance. Really spend some time selecting and decorating the right wedding dessert boxes. Displaying your wedding dessert boxes is another important step in their reception. Ask your caterer to package and display several packaged slices of cake (or whatever your wedding dessert is) on a table with several empty wedding dessert boxes and the servable dessert near the exit. Guests will see how the dessert should be packaged, the empty wedding dessert boxes, and the tempting pieces of wedding dessert. You have an instant favor, your guests have an impressive package with contents they will actually enjoy, and wedding dessert boxes save the day again.
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Outdoorsy Wedding Favors you can Enjoy with or without a Roof

The Joy of Outdoorsy Wedding Favors

Outdoorsy Wedding Favors

If you're a couple of refined horticultural taste, you know exactly what it's like to want to share that passion with the world. Be it gardening, floral design, or maybe other outdoors interests such as camping, hiking, or biking, the outdoorsy couple will likely reflect their love for the natural world during their wedding day. If you're hosting an outdoor wedding (or maybe just a wedding that reflects a love of the outdoors), consider lining your tables with outdoorsy wedding favors. Outdoorsy wedding favors clue your guests in to your passions, hobbies, and interests, while leaving them with a practical, beautiful souvenir that they can use outside. Popular outdoorsy wedding favors include such trinkets as tealights, small lanterns, or even homemade goodies like trail mix. If you're going with the edible option, try to class it up a little with a designer box or tag. Even though you hit the trails without any frills, your outdoorsy wedding favors should always be wedding-ready. Other fun outdoorsy wedding favors may not be designed for use without a roof, but instead remind your guests of the outdoors. These gifts usually work their magic in the kitchen. Consider outdoorsy wedding favors such as floral salt and pepper shakers or beehive honey pots. Though your guests may not be using them outdoors, these outdoorsy wedding favors will always remind them of you!
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Figuring Out Casual Wedding Invites

With wedding invites, couples often agonize over how they’ll say, “We’re getting married, want to come?” especially when the wedding is formal. But what if you’re hosting something a bit more casual? Are your invitation options at all expanded? Maybe even limited? If you’re hosting a backyard barbeque for fifty people, do you really need RSVP cards and inserts and that little piece of opaque tissue paper? Here are some ideas and a few bits of guidance…   For RSVPs:
Even if you’re trimming down your bulky invite envelope, a casual wedding invitation should probably include an RSVP card. While this is a personal choice (and the money you would save on both printing and postage is alluring), getting rid of RSVP cards in favor of email or website RSVPing is an invitation for late (or totally absent) RSVPs from your nearest and dearest. Guests are used to filling out the little card and sending it back for wedding invites. It is much too easy to forget if the little reminder isn’t calling out to them from their refrigerator every morning.
Just this once, deal with the price of postage and enjoy the rewards of NOT calling your relatives a week before the wedding to see if they’re planning on showing up. It’s worth the saved labor even with the extra printing fees. For wording:
The only info you MUST include on your invitation is where and when your guests should show up. Everything else (even the shape and dimensions of your invitation) are completely up to you. Well, full names are helpful too, even on save-the-dates. I’ve heard of families receiving super trimmed-down informal invites that featured only the first names of the happy couple – no date or return address. This is an especially helpful bit of info for your guests if you’re inviting family that hasn’t heard from (or of) you in a while. Even if you’re going informal, think of playing with the style instead of the number of words you’ve got on your inner envelope.   For inserts:
While we’re all familiar with the extra-thick wedding invitation envelope in our mailbox, not all weddings are held to this creamy, caligraphied standard. If you’re hosting a casual wedding, your invites should reflect the tone of your event. There’s no need to go overboard. Even with the invention and proliferation of wedding websites and other access points for guests, your invitation is their first guess at what to expect at your nuptials. The numerous inserts and inexplicable sheet of tissue paper is a bundle that is typically reserved for big fancy weddings. If it isn’t your style, skip it. Forget the separate reception card and hotel information and the inner envelopes - you can fit everything your guests need on one postcard if you need to. Save the postage (but send an RSVP)!
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What Counts as “Borrowed” Anyway?

The adage that asks that a bride should have “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” is one of the most adhered-to contemporary wedding traditions that’s been around almost as long as the modern idea of marriage. It asks a bride to combine good luck charms from the heritage of her family, her new future with her partner, and the successful marriages of her friends. It’s a rhyme that many couples still try to stick closely to, with many families having “Something ________” traditions of their own. But if you’re having a hard time adhering to the specifics of this adage, here are a few suggestions for the two suggestions that are the hardest to fill – something “borrowed” and something “old”:  

Something BORROWED
The point here is to find a good luck charm from the happy marriages of the married couples in your life. While some families have traditions specific to them, now is always the right time to start a new tradition. Instead of wearing a bracelet or headpiece that was borrowed from a friend or family member, consider instead “borrowing” a wedding detail from their day to highlight your own. In addition to a rockin’ pair of borrowed white sunglasses, dance to the song used as your sister’s first dance to her partner, or use your aunt’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe for the favors. This creative twist will keep you from loading up with old, new, borrowed, and blue anklets for lack of a better option. Even though you won’t be wearing all of your “borrowed” items, you will have a chance to give the suggestion your own modern twist.

Something OLD
“Something Old” is the requirement of the rhyme that asks brides to carry a token or charm taken from the heritage of their families. Some brides choose instead to carry something from their partner’s family to represent a new connection with the history of their family tree. Either option is meaningful, and even something you found from an antique store carries with it it’s own history. Like “something borrowed,” the point is to keep with the spirit of the adage. There are no wedding police that with confiscate your “something blue” if it’s really more “blue-green.”
As for your “something old,” earrings and necklaces work well, but make sure you have clasps inspected and repaired by jewelers before you walk down the aisle; you don’t want to lose your great grandmother’s pearls this early on. Also, check aged lace and metals against the fabric of your gown to make sure the antiqued colors don’t look harsh and aged against the rest of your outfit. Antique jewelry makes a wonderful “something old,” but there are inherent problems with the age of certain pieces. Skip garters (whose elastic tends to deteriorate quickly and with little notice) in favor of pieces that can be easily repaired.

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Changing it Up: A New Kind of Shower

Before you read on, be warned: etiquette shifts and changes depending on your social circle, and you don’t want to offend the bride or any of your guests when you’re trying something new. Test the waters thoroughly before asking anyone to fork over cash for something they aren’t 100% on board with. Otherwise, go nuts!   Some brides don’t like parties dedicated to gifts, and some don’t even sport gift registries at all. Bridal showers are fun, and they have potential as a great bonding opportunity for a bride and her closest girl friends, but here are a couple of alternatives that aren’t as traditional as a tea party and bridal bingo and look at gifting in a new way:  
Chocolate Discoveries
Most of us are familiar with retail parties, where a hostess gives a presentation on the benefits of a product and the guests are given a later opportunity to purchase from a catalogue (think Tupperware). While that might not seem like a spectacular bridal shower option, there are specific services that make for an unforgettable evening and a good opportunity for a new kind of gifting, especially if the bride in your life isn’t so hot on just being handed a stack of gifts. Bridal showers that utilize the services of retail parties like Dove “Chocolate Discoveries” will find that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on registry items to have a really good time together. A chocolate discoveries party offers opportunities for tasting, trying recipes, and eating an astounding amount of chocolate. If you and your guests are comfortable with a different type of gift giving, consider taking note of the bride’s preferences throughout the affair and purchasing some of her favorite products at the end of the evening. The bride has an armload of gifts she actually wants, and everyone eats chocolate. Win-win.   Color me Mine
Color me Mine is a business that specializes in a unique hands-on ceramic crafting experience, where guests paint items of their choice to be retrieved later as glazed and completely usable home décor. It’s hard to totally mess up, too – as long as you follow the directions and layer on paint like nobody’s business. While they might be known more for cute dates and birthday parties, this soirée is a totally viable bridal shower alternative, and is a guaranteed load of fun for all involved.   Instead of giving individual traditional gifts to the bride-to-be, the hostess or guests cover the charge for the bride (and the guests as well) and a household item(s) of her choice – hopefully something bridal and commemorative (his and her items like mugs and salt and pepper shakers are a must), and the girls bond over a couple hours of painting together. You’re able to make something completely unique, get a nice gift for the bride, and leave feeling accomplished. Color me Mine offers party packages where guests can come later to retrieve their glazed item in individual little marked bags.   Color me Mine also offers traveling parties, where the service comes to you at the venue of your choosing! This is a particularly stylish option if you’re more interested in a private and intimate party where you control the décor and the catering.
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Gifting a Bridesmaid Cosmetic Bag

Ideas for Giving a Bridesmaid Cosmetic Bag

Bridesmaid Cosmetic Bag

If you’re trying to find just the right gift to give to your beloved bridesmaids during the rehearsal dinner, look no further than a cute bridesmaid cosmetic bag. A bridesmaid cosmetic bag is a useful gift that any member of your bridal party will use and enjoy, not just on your wedding day, but well into the future! A bridesmaid cosmetic bag is a small pouch that your maids can use to tote essentials around during the big day. Purses and tote bags are cumbersome, but a matching and/or personalized bridesmaid cosmetic bag will be easy to cart around as the day becomes more and more hectic.   It’s easy to personalize a bridesmaid cosmetic bag for both your wedding and your close group of girlfriends. Many a bridesmaid cosmetic bag can be personalized with the titles or names of your maids, and finding a matching set for everyone will make this handy satchel an essential part of their outfits! Find a bridesmaid cosmetic bag that works with the theme or color scheme of your big day, and you won’t have to worry about the little bags standing out throughout the day!   A bridesmaid cosmetic bag also works as a cute way to ask your friends and family members to become a part of your bridal party. Fill a bridesmaid cosmetic bag with her favorite goodies as a cute and fun way to “propose” to your bridesmaids and maid of honor!
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The Versatility and Class of Candle Party Favors

Stock up on these Candle Party Favors

Candle Party Favors

  Favors aren’t just for weddings; they’re a lovely addition to any elegant party, and they’re a wonderful way to thank your guests for their attendance. If you’re hosting any sort of get-together where favors would be a welcome and appropriate table addition (think showers, both bridal and baby, dinner parties, and engagement brunches), consider finding just the right candle party favors. Unlike many other favors, candle party favors have a hint of both practicality and style. More practical than other trinkets and a bit more elegant than most practical gifts, candle party favors will find a welcome home from almost any guest. Candle party favors are wonderful also because they don’t provide for a weighty burden if some guests leave them behind. Unlike some other small gifts, a stockpile of candle party favors are always useful! Candle party favors work for any age or gender makeup, which is especially helpful if you’re hosting a diverse group of friends any family. Unlike alcohol or other gifts that fit specific niches, candle party favors work for everyone! Candle party favors aren’t restricted to just wax and wick, either. Everyone loves a decorative holder or snuff in their candle party favors.
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Preparing for Pet Wedding Outfits

Get Ready for Pet Wedding Outfits

Pet Wedding Outfits

More and more couples are opting to include their furry friends into their big day. Even if you don’t think your pet would make the best ring bearer, there are plenty of ways to incorporate your favorite pet wedding outfits into the general wedding festivities. You can dress your pet (be it dog or cat) into some fancy pet wedding outfits and take your invitation, save-the-date, or engagement photos in a spot that reflects your identity as a family, or stay at home for a comfortable homey photo shoot. Pet wedding outfits work indoor and out, but if you’re dressing up a feline or a particularly skittish puppy, it’s best not to introduce too many unfamiliar stimuli at once. Speaking of which, if you plan to use pet wedding outfits on the big day, make sure your pet is plenty familiar with the look, feel, and smell of their new duds ahead of time. Let your pet wander around for a few days in their various pet wedding outfits before you try and trot down the aisle. You don’t want fluffy to start ripping it to shreds with their teeth as you say your “I dos”. Well-behaved animals look good no matter what pet wedding outfits you dress them up in.
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Elegant and Timely New Years Party Decorations

Don’t Waste your New Years Party Decorations!

New Years Party Decorations

If you’re planning the perfect elegant New Years Eve party, it’s important to find decorations that don’t look like they came from a birthday party supply warehouse. Unlike many other parties that you may throw during the year, a New Years Eve party tends to be a more adult affair. Put away the balloons and paper plates in favor for some New Years party decorations suitable for ringing in the New Year in style.   One of the first accessories you need in your arsenal of New Years party decorations would be a good set of toasting glasses. These New Years party decorations come in a variety of styles and price ranges, but it’s important to find and purchase them well ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute, the most vital New Years party decorations in your supply will be made of plastic! Nothing halts a New Years party quite like cheap toasting flutes that fall apart well before midnight. Centerpieces and confetti are another important aspect of New Years party decorations. Don’t pick these up at party supply stores, and don’t get supplies that will expire after the night is over. Instead of finding confetti and centerpieces that say “2013” on them, find New Years party decorations that have a theme that will carry well into next year. If all of your New Years party decorations have an immediate expiration date, it’s money down the drain that you could have used for more champagne!
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Go a Little Crazy with a Bachelorette Party Garter

Plan Ahead for the Right Bachelorette Party Garter

Bachelorette Party Garter

While you may be tossing something lacy and simple at your wedding reception, your bachelorette party calls for a different type of garter. A bachelorette party garter is a great time to showcase your inner wild woman - go for something in animal print, or in a daring style, cut, or color. Commonly, a bachelorette party garter will be worn in addition to a dress that might also be a little inappropriate for a wedding day, so the garter is part of the main event throughout the night. This is your bachelorette party; don't be shy! A fun bachelorette party garter (just for you or for your favorite bridesmaids as well) can really spice up an evening and designate just who's getting married in the morning. If you're looking for a bachelorette party garter to compliment a specific outfit, make sure you start shopping early! There's no lack of selection, but specifics should be ironed out way ahead of time to ensure an on-time bachelorette party garter. If you're thinking of gifting a bachelorette party garter (or perhaps springing one on the bride-to-be the night-of), be sure that you know her exact right size ahead of time. A bachelorette party, and by association, the bachelorette party garter, are all about self confidence. Keep it that way!
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