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Additions to your Non-Traditional Day

Your wedding planning experience will vary depending on the budget and look and feel you’re going for on your big day. While most brides will choose something elegant, understated, and refined (probably something with soft lighting, a plated dinner, and white branches), there are always a handful of brides who will scoff  at such a venture and opt instead for a bouncy house. This is for those brides.   The “wedding experience” is not universal, and nowhere is it written in stone that you must conform to a certain set of standards for your event to count as a wedding. Do you want your guests to kick off their shoes and dance barefoot in the grass? Do you want orange dreamsicles instead of a fancy cake? Do you want the youngest members of your family to have as much fun as the oldest? Cool. Here are a couple of ideas for your awesome wedding:

A Bouncy House!
A bounce house is a colorful air-filled palace of joy and bruising. As long as all kids are properly supervised (and you make it clear that there will be no lifeguard on duty during the reception), there’s no reason why a bounce house couldn’t be a great addition to your reception. Obviously, this venture is best suited to outdoor weddings, but you’ll be amazed how fast your guests turn into 5-year-olds as soon as the thing is inflated. The pictures you’ll get due to the goings-on of the bounce house will be worth every penny you drop on the house (and, by the way, the pennies will be much fewer than other wedding staples, such as a photo booth). Crayons!
For the brides who still ask for the kids menu due to the many coloring opportunities, this option might quicken your pulse. Forget fancy (and expensive) linens for butcher paper and small buckets of crayons at each table and watch your guests glue their noses to the table as they try to beat their neighbor at tick-tack-toe or doodle all through the night. Brides with more traditional weddings can pull this off too, though you might restrict it to the kids table or opt for fancier buckets.   If you’re going for a casual wedding where crayons and a bounce house won’t be out of place, just make sure you warn your guests on your invitation or save-the-date. You don’t have to spell it out for them, but the style of the stationary and accompanying casual pictorials can be helpful.

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Tips for Writing Wedding Vows

There are few experiences in a person’s life scarier than speaking publicly. For those who are lucky enough to be reciting unchanging religious vows at their ceremony, you may never know the pulse-quickening anxiety of unfolding a piece of college-ruled paper and pouring your heart out to your fiancé and your entire family. Writing your wedding vows doesn’t have to be a last-minute sprint of clichés and random applications of the phrases “partner” and “love.” If you really want to write your own vows, try to follow these tips to get you started: Tell a Story
Nothing is more adorable than a quick anecdote during a couple’s wedding vows. It says what you love about each other without leaving you stuck with the word “love” a thousand times. Everyone knows you’re in love; you don’t need to tell them over and over. Instead, show them with a story that represents your personalities and why you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Stories also help to avoid repetition. This story-centric way of writing is also helpful if you’re thinking about adding a list of promises to your vows. Be specific in your promises, and remember that humor is always welcome!   Short and Sweet
Short vows are sweet vows. Of course, if you’re having a Catholic ceremony or some other lengthy religious service, this obviously isn’t an option. Lucky for you, your vows are already written in stone. For the rest of us, simplicity and brevity can be very important. The longer you talk, the less emphatic your vows tend to be. Keep it short as you’re sharing your love with the world – you have the rest of your life to say what you couldn’t fit onto that index card.   Avoid Quoting
There’s nothing wrong with including a song lyric that has some special meaning to you and your sweetie, but compiling your vows of nothing but snippets from “The Vow” or “27 Dresses” makes those sentiments someone else’s, not yours. You want to express your feelings to the love of your life, not somebody else’s. No one is expecting you to turn into Shakespeare when you open your mouth at the altar, so don’t be so worried about your linguistic prowess. Just say what you feel in whatever words you have.   Remember, your vows are your own and there is no wrong way to write them. The best you can do is relax, open your heart, and keep it short!
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"Do Over" Weddings

               There are many benefits to marriage that may compel a couple to the court house before they have a chance to throw a huge wedding. There may be a dash to marry before the death of a close family member, the need for medical benefits, the conditions of military service, or countless other hitches that may leave you running to the altar before you have a chance to order centerpieces and address invitations. Many couples feel robbed of their “big day” and want to throw a party for their friends and family to celebrate their union, even though they’re already technically married.   These “Do-Overs” are a weird gray area as far as ettiquette is concerned, and should be handled with care. No one wants to rob a bride and groom of their day in the spotlight, but already being married makes some of the wedding details a little iffy. Here are a few general rules that you may want to keep in mind if you’re planning your own belated wedding party:
  1. Don’t Lie.
    If you’re having a ceremony and a reception in the weeks and months following your vows, it isn’t technically a wedding. In the interest of clarity, “Vow Renewal” is more in-line with what you’re doing. If you’re skipping the ceremony and going straight to the reception, make sure you include that you’ve already gotten married and this is just a belated party. Everyone will be excited to celebrate with you, but if you try to keep your earlier wedding a secret, you could hurt some feelings and leave others assuming that you’re grabbing for extra gifts.
  2. Skip the Pre-Wedding Parties.
    Vow Renewals don’t usually come with bridal showers, bachelorette bashes and engagement brunches. They all operate under the pretext that you’re still a bachelorette, still just engaged, or are not yet a bride. Remember - they aren’t really “pre-wedding” anymore.
     
  3. Don’t use the phrase “Real Wedding.”
    Even “Do-Over” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You’ve gotten married, and a party doesn’t validate it any further. One wedding isn’t more “real” than the other because one bride is wearing cotoure mermaid gown and the other is wearing yoga pants in a courthouse. Celebrate your marriage because you want to have a party with your friends and family, not because you don’t think it will “count” until there’s a guest list of over 50.
Vow Renewal Ceremonies are just as special as big wedding bashes on the first go. You should do what you want to celebrate your union with your husband or wife; just be sure that you aren’t considering this belated bash your “Do-Over”!
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Add a Wedding Picture Frame to your House

Wedding Picture Frame: The Perfect Gift

Wedding Picture Frame

If there's one moment in your life that is sure to be documented, it's your wedding day. You'll probably hire a photographer, hundreds of guests will snap iPhone pictures, and you'll probably manage to grab a few shots for yourself. Chances are good that many of those photos will end up in your home; display them in a wedding picture frame to up your viewing pleasure.   A wedding picture frame sets the mood for the photo within, and they're so much more fun than a traditional frame. Take things up a notch with your wedding picture frame by doing something unexpected. Pick a wedding picture frame that also houses your unity sand, or a wedding picture frame in an interesting shape (such as a heart or a pair of toasting glasses). The wedding photos will be the first pieces of photography a guest will want to see; make it an impressive experience with a wedding picture frame.   If you're a guest looking for a memorable gift, look no further than a wedding picture frame. It's an especially wonderful gift for the couple without a registry, because it's probably something they haven't thought to get for themselves. Even if they already have one, there are a thousand more wedding photos where that came from. Help them out with a wedding picture frame.
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Treat Yourself (Or Others!) with Honeymoon Accessories

Honeymoon Accessories Make Great Gifts

Honeymoon Accessories

Whether you’re trying to decide what gifts would work well for a couple about to embark on a honeymoon or you’re packing your bags yourself, honeymoon accessories are a fun way to personalize and enjoy a first vacation as a married couple. Honeymoon accessories range from the fun and frivolous to the elegant and essential, but one thing is always for sure when deciding on what honeymoon accessories to include for your big trip: the more the merrier. If you’re thinking about purchasing some honeymoon accessories for the new couple in your life, remember that they probably won’t have many of the essentials many more established couples have. If you’re sending them their honeymoon accessories well ahead of time, matching luggage is a luxury most couples don’t consider for their registry. Honeymoon accessories don’t have to be just the finest things in life, either. Even just a personalized cooler or a tote for beach trips will brighten any new couple’s day. If you’re planning for your own trip and you’re wondering which honeymoon accessories you will need to add to your checklist, consider little things that will keep the two of you happy and entertained on your voyage. How about Frisbees? Bath salts? Fancy soaps? Many couples like to tote around “Just Married” car and window clings to let the world know just why they’re sharing kisses and rubbing noses so frequently. Let the world know you’re on the adventure of a lifetime with honeymoon accessories!
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Sending out your Save the Dates

Save the Dates: The Sooner the Better!

 

Save the Dates

  Wedding invitations and thank you notes aren’t the only bit of wedding stationary you will have to worry about if you’re in the planning stages for your wedding. Wedding etiquette suggests that save the dates are a great idea if you want to help your guests plan for your big day. Save the dates aren’t as formal as your wedding invitations (only one envelope required!), and they’re much simpler. Save the Dates should be sent as soon as possible (six to eight months in advance if you’ve got the time), and they allow your guests to make travel plans and mark their calendars before other events and obligations get in the way. Save the dates are really helpful if you’re planning on getting married during a high-travel season (such as the beginning of summer or over a holiday weekend). So what should you include on your save the dates? You don’t need much – just the intended date of your nuptials and some hint as to the level of formality of the event (the fancier the save the date, the fancier the wedding). Some couples choose to include their wedding website on the save the date, which will allow you to provide your guests with updated information about the venue,  directions to the ceremony, and even hotel info (for those ariving from out of town). The most important thing about your save the dates is this: make sure your guests won’t lose them. A good way to avoid missing save the dates is the make them magnetic! Guests love the convenience of sticking a wedding reminder on their fridge, and you can rest easy knowing that your friends and family will be ready for an invitation!
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Finding your Man an Engagement Ring

With the rise of female empowerment comes the erasing of some wedding traditions (which one of you would be okay with a dowry?) and the rise of some new ones (such as rockin' short, colorful wedding dresses). One of these new traditions is the male engagement ring. These bands fit the same purpose as the traditional female symbol of promise and commitment, but they usually come a few sizes bigger. Of course, not many men are lining up for the thin silver band with a trio of pear-cut diamonds. So what exactly should future spouses be looking for in this masculine new tradition?   First, it's important to think about how your man's ring will look beside the wedding band. If you're going for a simple silver or gold style, find something that compliments it without overwhelming it. Consider:   Wood Inlay: These bands come in a variety of styles, but keep in mind you man's look. They range from thick bands of deep, rich mahogany to thin strips of lighter woods (such as walnut). Woods can also be dyed to different colors. The nice thing about this style is that they are often easy to clean, and the wood can be swapped out for different colors or styles if they become worn. Interesting Materials: One of my favorite materials for male engagement rings is also one of the most expensive: meteorite. Meteorite is beautiful and intricate, and not many men can say that they're wearing something extraterrestrial on their wedding day. These rings can be solid or inlayed into other material. For other materials, think about getting something tough and durable, such as titanium.   Outside Engraving: Couples have been engraving sweet words on the insides of their wedding rings since the dawn of time, but do something a little different for your man: engrave something meaningful on the outside of the ring. The engraving can be as complex or as simple as you like, and can range from an inside joke to the centuries-old motto of his family. Your creativity is your only limitation. Geek-Friendly Styles: If you're lucky enough to be marrying a fan of the Lord of the Rings, he won't be looking down on you for finding him an imitation of the One Ring for his engagement band. In fact, I'm pretty sure it ensures the lasting bond of your union. The same goes for rings molded from Lego pieces. Your rings, just like the rest of your wedding, should be an expression of your identity as a couple. So have fun with it!
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Reviewing Vegas Chapels: The Luxor Hotel and Casino

Last time, I reviewed a great chapel on the Las Vegas Strip: The Chapel at Mandalay Bay. Not all of Vegas's wedding establishments are as elegant as Mandalay Bay, however, so if you are thinking about traveling out to sin city for your nuptials, a little research is pertinent. Don't stick with the first place you see - the perfect Vegas chapel, like a good Christmas tree, is hardly ever in the first lot.   The Chapel at the Luxor, for example, would not be my first choice for tying the knot in Las Vegas. Here's why:   Unlike the quiet location of the Mandalay Bay chapel, the Luxor's chapel is located right next to the food court. The chapel is over the main hotel lobby and directly behind the seasonal hotel attractions. Though the main rooms of the chapel seemed more or less soundproof, don't expect your entrance to be subtle or private.   I was invited to look around, but no one seemed particularly eager to help. I was told that there were three chapels, but I'm still not sure where the third was. (If you're doing your own research in Vegas, pay attention to how you're treated by the staff. If they don't seem to care that you're there while you're looking around, think about the kind of service you'll receive on your wedding day.)   The decor was also not really what I expected. The main lobby was a little cramped, mainly because of the floral cooler (Unlike Mandalay Bay, which hid their hardware in some other part of the chapel). I felt like I was in an old, important house - the kind with overstuffed chairs and couches that look like they should be comfortable, but aren't. Everything looked more French than Egyptian, and what could have been classic and elegant ended up looking and feeling more old-fashioned.   The detailing in the ceiling was pretty, but it disappeared once I entered one of the first chapels. The chapel was nice, but I wasn't really blown away. The carpet looked very much like the kind you put in a hotel room because it's easy to vacuum, and the chairs were about as comfortable as benches. I'm sure the chapel looks nice in final wedding pictures, but it felt stuffy and cold while I was there. The two cut-out cubby holes at the front of the room had big cameras in them, and it wasn't as subtle as it could have been (though the bunches of dusty silk flowers did try to, unsuccessfully, hide them. I hope they're tucked away better when there's a ceremony on).   Their packages were about the same in price as the ones at Mandalay Bay, but I never really understood what they included. If you're doing research for your own wedding, make sure you know what the price pays for. If all you're getting is an minster and a DVD, consider taking your business somewhere else. There are plenty of options in Vegas for your big day - don't settle without doing your research!
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Reviewing Vegas Chapels: The Chapel at Mandalay Bay

Getting married in Vegas isn’t what is used to be. Gone are the days of driving down to the slimy end of the strip for a quick “hey-there-what’s-new-you’re-married” with an overweight and geriatric Elvis. The swanky hotels are stepping it up with entire bridal teams and plush in-house chapels, ready to make everything perfect for your big day. “Caesars Palace” offers a beautiful garden ceremony steps away from their grand pool; “Mandalay Bay” has a wedding package that has you reciting your vows under a pod of sharks (standing room only, I’m afraid); and “Treasure Island” lets you kiss the bride on the same pirate ship that’s home to a horde of scantily-clad singing pirate ladies. So, in short, your choices are a more varied than you might think. I recently took a short trip over to sin city and collected some shaky, blurry pictorials and reviews for your knowledge and benefit. Here’s my review of one of the most highly-rated chapels on the strip: The Wedding Chapel at Mandalay Bay: The Mandalay Bay Chapel makes a good first impression right of the bat, as it isn’t located right in the heart of the busy hotel. It’s tucked away from the casino and shopping district. The lobby was welcoming and much bigger than I expected, and the entire building was also sound-proof. The noise from the nearby convention center was completely damped once the doors shut behind us. There were three chapels to choose from (in the main building – for other options, check out Mandalay Bay’s wedding website), though two of them were nearly identical. The only difference with the third was its slightly larger seating capacity. The chapel seemed to have a preference for calla lilies, but they fit in wonderfully with the soft décor. Whether they were swirled into glass bowls or springing from small planters, it was hard to miss them. My only complaint with the décor is the beading on the wall lamps. Beads dripped from every surface, and I was not feeling it. Though the translucent beads looked nice and simple when draped against the wall, I was not so happy when I noticed them falling from the lamps. It was a little tacky, but the room itself made up for it. There was plenty of seating, the décor was simple and pretty, and the baby grand in the back added a little something extra. What really makes the Mandalay Bay Chapel my favorite on the strip, however, has to be their bridal packages. Not only do they offer the basics (photographer, bridal dressing room, simple bouquet), their deals also offer a variety of options that include free spa visits, romantic dinners, honeymoon suites, champagne, mimosas and breakfasts in bed, and even limo rides to retrieve the marriage license. Their prices range from $750 to a little over $18,000 (for the whole shebang, including reception, bar, cake, and wedding planner). Oh, and if you really want to meet Elvis, they’ve got you covered with the “Viva Las Vegas” package.
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Unique Toasting Glasses Reflect your Taste

Celebrate with Unique Toasting Glasses

Unique Toasting Glasses

The glasses that you and your fiancé will toast with on your wedding day are one of the only keepsakes that you will be almost guaranteed to display in your home throughout your (hopefully never-ending) married life. The glasses are usually a centerpiece on your wedding day (on your sweetheart table or presented adjacent to your cake), and are one of the items you don’t want to just rent from your caterer. Your toasting glasses should reflect who you and your fiancé are as a couple, as they are the symbolic representation of your union. Think about selecting unique toasting glasses for this role – glasses that you’ll be proud to display in your home for years to come. Toasting glasses aren’t one-size-fits-all. They’re as different and creative as the rest of the special touches you’re adorning your event with. Unique toasting glasses are a great way to fit your décor in with something you’ll be comfortable displaying in your home. Into tabletop gaming and/or Ren Fairs? Select unique toasting glasses made of pewter, adorned with slinking dragons and whimsical fairies. Are you and your fiancé into art and culture? Find unique toasting glasses made of blown glass or shaped in an appealing aesthetic fashion. Your unique toasting glasses can also reflect your heritage (in fleur de lis or Celtic designs). When you’re choosing beverage receptacles to reflect your relationship, no unique toasting glasses are the wrong unique toasting glasses.
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Selecting the Perfect Groom Gift

The key to selecting a great groom gift is to think about practicality. (Most) men don’t wear jewelry or revel in the fine scents of bath salts – they want to use their groom gift immediately – be it with the grill, on their bar, or in their game room.
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Dreaming of a Destination Wedding?

Destination weddings are popular and appealing for a reason: the possible locations range from the majestic and warm to the intimate and beautiful, the wedding photos are almost always breathtaking, and the cost is around the same of a traditional wedding. 
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