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Beer and You: A Classy Affair

There are some who believe that a bride has no place slinging beers at her wedding. The picture of a sparkling bride in white handling a bottle of PBR just doesn’t sit well with some critics. Beer can have a place within a wedding – it just has to be handled classily and correctly. Should you be knocking back Buds from the bottle for six straight hours during your reception? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make beer classy.   Try adding… Beer Samplers
The simple allure of a stacked and colorful beer sampler has always caught my attention at high-class breweries. A group of six 8-ounce glasses of assorted microbrews (sometimes mixed with fresh fruit!) is a delicacy that many restaurants implore within their catering services – just ask! This is a more stylish way to imbibe without the threat of ugly half-finished bottles cluttering your tables. And for beer snobs like myself, a sampler per table gives me the opportunity to show my friends and relatives a world outside of Miller Light. You can finish the one you love and ignore the rest – much like a husband. Local Brews
By offering up a beer- only hosted bar, you set yourself up to save a lot of money, but not all couples are gung-ho about the idea. Full bars are expensive, but a beer-specific bar doesn’t have to be bland and insipid. Try experimenting with hosting local and seasonal brews – without the bottle, if you please. Spring for the right glasses. You aren’t shackled to champagne, so try to experiment with something new, full, and exciting if you’re going for beer.   Favors A fun addition to your brewed wedding could be a little something delicious for your guests to take home with them – a fermented favor, if you will. If you plan on offering seasonal and/or local brews during your reception, offer bottled versions for later consumption as guests exit. Good beers tend to be bottled in attractive receptacles, and it’s likely that the addition of a bottle at every place setting – or at a display as guests exit – will add to rather than detract from your décor. For younger guests, offer fancy bottled soda as an “I’m Sorry You’re Not 21” consolation favor.

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The Shapes and Sizes of Stylish Wedding Favor Boxes

My Favorite Stylish Wedding Favor Boxes

Stylish Wedding Favor Boxes

Making your own favors is a fun but laborious experience that often involves a lot more work than you think it will. Even if you’re just combining store bought goodies or putting together a candy bar, you soon realize that you have nothing to present to your guests at their place settings. Instead of dumping the goodies into a pile on their chargers, I recommend a good solid set of stylish wedding favor boxes. Instead of regular folded containers or simple paper bags, stylish wedding favor boxes offer a variety of choices for your favor storing needs. My favorite stylish wedding favor boxes have a window cut right into the top or side so that guests can take a peek at the goodness to come. Of that category, the stylish wedding favor boxes with heart-shaped windows are my favorite. If straight-up boxes aren’t your thing (or you don’t think your favor will fit into a cube), consider stylish wedding favor boxes that come in a tent shape. These stylish wedding favor boxes are good for lollypops, other strangely-shaped favors, or even just more of the same! It isn’t hard to find stylish wedding favor boxes that fit your style and your purposes.
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Bridal Shower Bingo: A Rowdy Afternoon of Frolic

Fun Times with Bridal Shower Bingo

Bridal Shower Bingo

Bridal shower games are probably my favorite part of the wedding marathon that brides subject themselves to in the months leading up to their big day. They’re inexpensive, fun, and provide a great bonding opportunity for the women closest to you. You don’t really know your Great Aunt Sally until you’ve seen her viciously plotting against your Maid of Honor in a lively round of bridal shower bingo. Bridal shower bingo really brings out the competitive side in many women you wouldn’t expect it from – even a poised afternoon tea can get a little rowdy with the addition of a few cutesy prizes. The competition inspired by bridal shower bingo isn’t negative, however: quite the contrary. Bridal shower bingo is fun, and it breathes life into an ordinary celebratory bridal get-together. The multiple winners and excitable participants keep any hard feelings at bay (unlike strategic and cutthroat gaming scenarios like family “Risk” or “Monopoly” night). Finding great bridal shower bingo games isn’t too difficult, but you might want to skip trying to make them yourself. A few hours struggling with clip art and Microsoft word functions will leave you frustrated (and sporting an inferior product). Bridal shower bingo is just what your shower needs for an unforgettable afternoon.
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The Proud Pumpkin: A Wedding’s Most Versatile Vegetable

It’s hard to find a way around pumpkin in autumn, no matter how unseasonable the weather gets. I wait for weeks with bated breath for pumpkin spice lattes to hit the shelves no matter how much it still feels like summer, and nothing puts a smile on my face faster than a trip to my neighborhood pumpkin patch. The orange gourd’s versatility makes them great decorating tools, and there aren’t many of my favorite dishes that can’t be improved with a little pumpkin spicing. So, for your impending autumn wedding, you might want to use pumpkins…

To Welcome your Guests This is a bit of décor that scales up or down on the difficulty scale depending on the amount of energy you want to dedicate to finding and carving the perfect set of pumpkins. Set up a pumpkin(s) to spell out a personal welcome message for your guests as they arrive to your ceremony/reception. If your wedding falls around dusk, think about setting up the pumpkins at the ceremony space and having them transported to your reception venue with a candle or candles to add a little after-sunset illumination. If you want something that will last a little longer (and you aren’t so confident concerning your carving abilities), some craft stores (such as Michael’s) offer imitation pumpkins with personalized messages. To Imbibe Make pumpkin patches a little more adult-friendly by adding a little orange to your signature cocktails. The subtle nod of the cocktail allows you a more grown-up take on the familiar flavor, while the more conspicuous decorative additions, such as candy corn or black licorice, help take these cocktails to the next level around Halloween. Think about including such famous delicious brews as “Pumpkin Spice” or the “Pumpkin Margarita,” or you can ask your bartender what his or her favorite pumpkin delights are around this glorious season.

To Show Guests to Their Seats Though mini pumpkins are often ignored at pumpkin patches by excited and optimistic youth, decoration gurus know how indispensable the mini gourd can be for holiday displays. If you aren’t a florist, building your own overfilled cornucopia or elaborate centerpiece might be a bit of a challenge. I recommend using mini pumpkins as place cards instead, either at each place setting for a small affair or at an escort card table. The mini pumpkins double as take-home favors when you hollow them out and fill them with goodies. Attach hand-written or hand-stamped cards to the stem of the pumpkin with twine to add a little touch of autumn authenticity to your event tables.

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Versatility and Style: Cupcake Favor Boxes

Delicious and Adorable Cupcake Favor Boxes!

Cupcake Favor Boxes

Cupcakes are quickly becoming my favorite wedding dessert. They’re delicious, artistic, convenient, and kill two birds with one stone. Instead of splurging on favors and dessert, provide cupcake favor boxes to your guests so they can bring a little bit of the wedding home with them. Cupcake favor boxes are cute and inexpensive: a perfect match for a wedding on a budget; or any wedding for that matter! Cupcake favor boxes should be laid out by the dessert table where guests can see them either as they collect dessert or on their way out the door. Have your dessert table set up near the exit so no one misses your cupcake favor boxes.   Set up a display so your cupcake favor boxes aren’t just stacked in a boring utilitarian way. Make a small pyramid of a few pre-assembled ones so your guests get the right idea. No one will confuse your cupcake favor boxes with anything else, as most cupcake favor boxes have a window for your cupcake viewing pleasure.   There are plenty of styles of cupcake favor boxes to choose from – pick the ones that best suit the style of your wedding for an unforgettable favor surprise!
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Using Your Proposal in Wedding Décor

Your proposal has likely already become a part of your relationship story. It’s an anecdote you tell to coworkers, at parties, or maybe even on Facebook. It doesn’t matter how extravagant or crazy your proposal was, they’re all memorable. How and when you decided to make it official will be a story you will be asked to repeat for your entire lives. Your kids will want to hear it just as much as you wanted to know the story of your parent’s courtship. So embrace it! Here are a few fun ideas to give a nod to your proposal story in your wedding décor:   Wedding Stationary
Photo shoots for your invitations and save-the-dates are a great time to express your individuality and the unique story of your relationship. Think about snapping photos at the location where you decided to tie the knot for your wedded paper good. If you got engaged at sunset at a local park (even if you were wearing your workout gear), pay homage to that site by staging photos at the exact location where it all went down (sweats optional). Illustrations are a less literal way to interpret your proposal story – subtle references (such as kissing fish stamps for an aquarium proposal or twin rocking chairs for a quiet promise at home) are a silent inside nod that you and your fiancé can share with guests.

Unique Centerpieces
There are many unique and fun centerpieces that have been constructed by couples to reference their unique proposal story. A new and popular choice seems to be table number reorganization – naming guests’ tables after locations (or items) that hold some significance to the relationship. You could also integrate items into the displays that play into your tale, such as monopoly piece confetti (if the proposal happened over a friendly – or heated – board game) or small appetizers that nod to the last meal you shared before becoming fiancé/fiancée.
If you plan to go this route, think about setting up a small display that explains the significance of the unique touches of personal décor. You probably don’t want to be fielding questions all night about the stack of American modernist anthologies under each vase of white roses.   Wedding Website
Every newly-engaged couple should have a wedding website, especially if you’re expecting any number of guests from out of town. A wedding website is a great home base to organize information about your wedding, and it’s easy to find a host for a free one. Many of the sites also come with this fun little tab for details about your relationship. If you haven’t committed the favorite stories of your relationship to paper, this is your chance. There are some details you might not remember in another thirty or forty years, and writing it down while it’s fresh will be something posterity will thank you for.
This is also an opportunity for distant relatives to catch up on the special stories of your relationship that may come up during wedding festivities. After all, you don’t want anyone to be confused about your use of a science fair volcano in place of a unity candle.

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A Personal Wedding Gift for the Happy Couple

A Worthwhile Personal Wedding Gift

Personal Wedding Gift

As a wedding guest, it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right personal wedding gift for your favorite couple – especially if they are without a registry. If you’re uncomfortable just handing over a gift card and calling it a day, think about finding a personal wedding gift that the couple will be sure to use and love for decades. A personal wedding gift that will really get the couple excited for their new life together is often something monogrammed with their new combined initials. A newly wedded couple will love to see the letters that make up their new life together on everything – glassware, hygiene kits, luggage, or even hankies. Embroidering or engraving the couple’s monogram on a personal wedding gift will make your contribution to their gift pile stand out. Another great way to make any gift a personal wedding gift is to appeal to the couple’s new title set. Newlyweds are always happy to be referred to as “Mr” and “Mrs,” and finding the right personal wedding gift to reflect that is sure to delight. Towels, beach gear, and passport covers are all examples of “Mr” and “Mrs” honeymoon accessories that really work well as a personal wedding gift. So no matter who you’re buying for, be sure that you find just the right personal wedding gift for the happy couple in your life.
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Last-Minute Autumn Wedding Details to Brighten your Day

Finding and Using Autumn Wedding Details

Autumn Wedding Details

With summer quickly wrapping things up, autumn is making its way in. For those brides marrying after the 22nd of September but before the 21st of December, it’s time to start planning some of your last-minute autumn wedding details. The setting will be colorful, serene, and have just the slightest nip to it – how will you compliment that with your autumn wedding details? Consider finding some brown and orange accents (maybe even a little DIY) to give your fall wedding just the right touch. While a cake topper is always a beautiful addition to your autumn wedding details, there are other small touches that can really tie your scene together. If you haven’t yet sent out invitations, stationary will a rustic autumn feel will really put your guests in the mood for your event. Characterize these autumn wedding details by finding a brown/orange/red/yellow color palette and sticking to it. Favors are also a fun way to remind your guests of the beauty of the season. These autumn wedding details don’t have to be in-your-face with the fall theme, but they should have a hint of it in them. Consider leaf bookmarks or candy that suits the season (candy corn, caramels, etc).   Autumn wedding details will tie your day together and remind your guests just why you selected this beautiful season as the backdrop for your wedding day.
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Preparing for the Season: Winter Wonderland Cake Toppers

Winter Wonderland Cake Toppers: Embrace the Off Season!

Winter Wonderland Cake Toppers

Though it’s still a few months away, winter is an inspiration for brides who are organizing and designing a late-year wedding. And why not? Winter is glossy, bright, and offers opportunities for fireside receptions and adorable fluffy muffs for your bridesmaids. It’s also a great opportunity for winter wonderland cake toppers. How are winter wonderland cake toppers different from your average wedding cake perch? Winter wonderland cake toppers feature a heavy saturation of frosted white and often utilize an abundance of glass and ceramic. They’re beautiful, delicate, and specific to the season. While I don’t recommend sporting winter wonderland cake toppers during the summer months, they aren’t usually out of place between October and February – a time block that is underutilized by brides.   Consider booking a winter wedding – for the sake of the beauty of the season and the beauty of a full wallet. Many venues under-book during these months and the prices will usually fluctuate in your favor. Even if the prices don’t change, your chance of finding something last-minute is greatly increased during the winter months. Winter wonderland cake toppers look even better in a prime venue that didn’t break the bank!
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New Trends in Wedding Photography

When the two of you hire a wedding photographer, you probably have a few specific must-have photo ops in mind: your first kiss as a married couple, the first dance, the cake cutting- but what about some of the newer photo shoot options in wedding photography? Will you opt for your photographer to capture the "first look" between you and your fiancé/fiancée before the ceremony? How about something a little more personal the morning after?
These extra wedding photo opportunities are showing up with more frequency on the wedding scene, but here's my opinion regarding which ones to try and which ones to skip:

The Engagement Photo Shoot
More and more couples are looking to have a little fun with their engagement photo shoots, copying scenes from movies like "UP" or visiting some of their favorite places in their home towns, but is it a venture worth the expense?
Yes. Some photographers will throw in an engagement photo shoot as a part of a larger package, and it's a fun opportunity to score some high-end professional photos of you and your fiancé/fiancée in non-wedding attire. Even if it isn't part of a package, it's still an expense that's worth the photos you'll end up with. You can really show off who you are as a couple, have a little fun, and use those photos for save-the-dates or Christmas cards. Take this cool opportunity to go to an arcade, the local arboretum, or even your favorite A&W - anything goes. Just make sure you check up on photo restrictions of your favorite venue first.   The First Look Before the Ceremony
Though some couples hold to the tradition that a couple shouldn't see each other before the ceremony, traditions aren't for everybody. In fact, many couples have said that doing a "first look" (meeting with your betrothed before you walk down the aisle) is a great way to ease your nerves before you walk down the aisle. But if you're going to do it, should you have your photographer there?
Honestly, you won't even notice the photographer, but you will wish you had a picture of your face when you do the first look. It's a moment worth documenting and you'll always regret not having photos of every special moment during your wedding day. It's not a hassle for your photographer to add a "first look" to the list of "must-have" shots (like group photos and the first kiss) during the day, and you'll be glad you asked for them.   The Morning After Photo Shoot
A new trend in intimate wedding photography (more so even than the boudoir shoot) steps right into the couple's bedroom or hotel on the morning after their wedding. Some couples have now opted to have a photographer present during their first hours as a married couple in order for their bliss to be completely documented. Though the resulting photos tend to be tasteful in that nobody goes for the full-frontal shot, the sexiness is implied.
Unlike the first look, this is one intimate moment that will probably end up more staged and creepy than sweet and sentimental, and it's not exactly an album you can keep on the coffee table. As exciting as this sort of photography sounds, you can't possibly imagine how much you won't want to deal with another set of pictures on the morning after your wedding. Sleep in and skip this photo op.

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Favors and Send-Offs: Wedding Recessional Sparklers

A Recessional Alternative: Wedding Recessional Sparklers

Wedding Recessional Sparklers

When the bride and groom retreat to their wedding getaway car after the ceremony or reception, it's always fun to have the guests throwing rice, flowers, or any other number of colorful accessories. The effect is beautiful in pictures, and most of your guests will love to be a part of a lighthearted wedding tradition. There are some venues, however, that aren't so keen on allowing things thrown about willy-nilly, even if it is for a wedding. Wedding recessional sparklers help add a beautiful sparkle of color to your wedding day without any of the mess that venues get so testy about. Wedding recessional sparklers come in a variety of colors and styles; you don't have to stick with the traditional shower of rice or birdseed as you make your way off into the sunset.   My favorite types of wedding recessional sparklers are the ones that serve as both a send-off to the bride and groom and a favor for your guests. Wedding recessional sparklers that come in fun shapes (such as hearts and stars) make for great gifts for those who have come to witness your marriage. Place out two wedding recessional sparklers at each place setting - one for the send-off and one for your guests to keep. Everyone will love the sentiment of wedding recessional sparklers on both the day of your wedding and for the next firework occasion - maybe even your anniversary!
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Tips for Stress-Free Wedding Planning

While there’s really no such thing as “stress-free wedding planning,” there are some opportunities that you will find to make your wedding planning a little easier for everyone involved. While each family has its own frustrating quirks, and everyone is likely to have an opinion the second an engagement ring slides onto your finger, here are a few ways to keep things light, fun, and as close to stress-free as wedding planning could possibly be:
A textbook example of a stress-free bride
Pick Your Battles
Even when planning the smallest possible wedding, you will have to compromise with someone, even if they aren’t contributing a dime to your wedding. That’s just how being a part of a family works. There are some topics that are off the table for discussion (which denomination your ceremony will be composed regarding, for example), but there are some smaller things you might have to let go of. A good test for which details are a part of the “let it go” category is the “10 years” question. Will you remember which cake flavor you went with in 10 years? What boutonnière style your mother wore? Probably not. If something really is important to you, stand your ground, but think about the potential hurt feelings you create when doing so. If your aunt won’t bend on a provocative dress she wants to wear to the ceremony, is it really worth the energy to fight her about it? Chances are good you won’t even notice her during the big day. Weigh which issues mean the most to you, and which you’re willing to compromise on. Know which hills to die on, so to speak, and you’ll spare everyone unnecessary hard feelings.   Accept Help and Try not to Ignore Reality
Planning a wedding can sometimes get you swept up in zombie “get-it-done” mode. You know that you’ll be able to do get it done in the way it needs to be done (whatever it is), so it’s sometimes hard to shift that responsibility or task to someone else who wants to help. If your future sister in law wants to help you deal with the photographer and prepare favors (even if you don’t care for the way she ties ribbons to programs), try to let her help. The more you spread the work around, the easier and more manageable all of these tasks and responsibilities become. Remember, trying to make everything perfect by doing it yourself will not only lead to stress on your part, but some unmet expectations on the big day. Your wedding will be awesome because you’re getting married, not because all of your cocktail napkins are embossed in the same direction. When help is offered, accept graciously, and don’t heap unrealistic expectations on those who offered their hand.   Include Your Future Spouse
The wedding industry is very bride-centered, so it can sometimes be hard to remember that you are, well, including a second person in this whole affair. That person often has opinions, even if they don’t voice them as often or as vivaciously as you do. Try to really talk and listen about your future spouse’s wedding expectations to make sure you’re both on the same page. If your fiancé hates large crowds and loud music, maybe your wedding shouldn’t be packing 300 people into an after-hours club. You might have had the “perfect” wedding dreamed up from the moment you could say “I do,” but that was before you met the person you’re marrying now. Your wedding should be equal parts of the both of you, and it’s worth it to adjust your expectations accordingly.   Take a Step Back
Organization was going to be the last point on my genius list (because let’s face it, a wedding binder with color-coded tabs never hurt anyone), but it isn’t nearly as important as a big cup of perspective as your wedding day draws nearer. The end result of a wedding isn’t a cake or a reception or honeymoon, it’s a marriage. No matter what happens in the weeks and months leading up to your wedding, you will be married when it’s all over. Isn’t that awesome? You get to be legally linked and bound to someone who loves you unconditionally. You get to send holiday cards as a social unit. That is so much cooler than a ceremony harpist.
So whenever wedding stresses seem to get overwhelming, and the DJ won’t call you back after four weeks of frantic emails, grab a beer and watch some crappy reality TV with your future spouse. When all of the relatives have gone home and you’ve returned every duplicate stand mixer, you get to be married to someone who loves you. Keep it all in perspective before you break someone’s fingers for ordering hydrangeas instead of peonies.
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