Outdoor Wedding Ceremony From the garden to the beach, each outdoor wedding venue has its unique personality.  And while the venue offe...

10 Outdoor wedding ceremony ideas nobody else will have

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Outdoor Wedding Ceremony
From the garden to the beach, each outdoor wedding venue has its unique personality.  And while the venue offers the background and a beautiful setting, it’s up to you to include the details that make your wedding your own. We’re rounding up ten of our favorite little luxuries, from charming sights to eclectic sounds, that will definitely give your ceremony that personal ambiance. Here’s our list of open-air wedding ceremony ideas that we’re kind of in love with.

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1. The Outdoor Piano
Planning on live music for your wedding ceremony? Good choice! Consider a one-man piano show. He or she can play everything from the Wedding March to that Billy Joel song you love best. Romantic, unique, and literally, music to the ears. It definitely won’t hurt adorning the piano with greenery and candles either. Just saying.

2. The Wind Chime
For another audible suggestion, we bring to you the unconventional sounds of a beach glass wind chime. Not sure what that means? We didn’t really either. Until we came across these strands of colored sea glass delicately attached to driftwood. We can totally see this hanging at a seaside ceremony, syncing with the ocean.

3. The Shady Seats
Though an outdoor wedding ceremony definitely has its perks, providing some relief from the harsh rays will definitely keep guests happy (and cool) as you say “I do.” We love these classic, white umbrellas that match the guest chairs. They won’t distract from your ceremony décor and will provide guests shade they’ll appreciate on your super-sun-filled wedding day.

4. The Candle-lit Path
As your guests make their way to your ceremony site, we suggest lining the way with candles! Not only will the effect be warm and inviting for guests, it’ll also let them know where to go so they don’t go astray along the walk. Just make sure to work with your florist (and venue) to come up with a design that’s both striking and safe.

5. The Rustic Aisle Markers
Though you can’t go wrong with stacked candles or bouquets tied to chairs, we have to admit we love unique floral aisle markers. This use of delicate florals lined in planters has to be one of our favorite wedding ceremony ideas. In the case of this wedding, the planters are filled with Spirea, but we think any type of wildflower would be just as beautiful.

6. The Whimsical Sidewalk
For an equally romantic yet whimsical pathway to your wedding ceremony – grab that neon chalk! By stenciling hearts (or whatever you heart desires) along the path, you’ll set the mood for your wedding as guests make their way to their seats. Tip: Keep the chalk around for the kids at the reception after!

7. The Directions
When it comes to unique wedding ceremony ideas, we love the use of creative signs for outdoor weddings. And this simple “We Do, We Did” sign is definitely no exception. This way for the ceremony, that way for the bar!

8. The Refreshments
Having a summer wedding? Providing guests with a refreshment bar before they take their seats is the perfect way to keep them hydrated as you say your vows. Stationed near the ceremony, ushers can encourage guests to grab a glass before heading to their seats. We love this version that’s set up for water, iced tea and lemonade. Bonus for including playful, striped straws.

9. The Accessories
Ever been to a wedding and couldn’t help yourself from a few tears? Is the answer yes? Good! You’ll need these cheeky handkerchiefs at yours. Chances are there will be a few guests in the crowd that share your sentiment mid-wedding. Plus, they are totally charming – and reusable. Meaning, guests will be thanking you for this little gem at future weddings. P.S.: Hankies also make for fun wedding favors!

10. The Décor
Floral garlands draped around majestic trees? Umm, yes. Not only is this so romantic, it kind of eliminates the need for elaborate wedding flowers elsewhere. Tip: Be sure to work around your wedding venue’s offerings and get their permission to incorporate any existing landscaping into your floral designs.

Wedding Make-Up It’s no doubt that brides want to look their best on their wedding day ! The perfect dress, the stunning hair, and of...

Choosing Your Wedding Make-Up

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Wedding Make-Up
It’s no doubt that brides want to look their best on their wedding day! The perfect dress, the stunning hair, and of course the make-up. Choosing your wedding make-up is not like choosing your everyday make-up – you have to consider how it will look in pictures, how it will complement your dress and hairstyle, the time of the day your wedding will take place, and so on. Check out these tips on choosing your wedding make-up and get inspired for your big day!

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Consider Your Skin Tone
This might be obvious, but just in case you’re as clueless as I was when it came to makeup when I got married, this is a good place to start. Fair skin brides will stand out with neutral, metallic and shimmery shades. For medium skin tones, look into bronze, taupe and copper options, and invest in the metallic look as well. Olive skin tones are well complemented by jewel tones (think deep plums, gold, emerald greens and metallic). For dark skin tones, avoid whites and pale eye shadows – your traces will benefit more from peach hues, gold, bronze and burgundy.

Wedding Dress and Hair
It goes without saying, but the make-up you choose should complete your bridal look flawlessly. So as soon as you choose your dress, start thinking about make-up and hair. For example, a laid-back hairstyle and lace wedding dress go well with a natural make-up look. Now, a simpler dress may leave more room for intricate hair and make-up. It really depends on what features you want to highlight and the overall look you’re trying to achieve.

Event Type
Are you getting married during the day or at night? Is the wedding taking place in an elegant indoor venue or will it be outdoors? Think about the feel of your event when choosing your whole bridal look, not just the make-up. Outdoor events ask for more neutral tones, especially during the day and under direct sunlight. Indoor events are the perfect excuse to glam up and use that shimmery shade you love!

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Schedule a Make-Up Trial
You don’t want to wait until your wedding day to see the full effect of the make-up style you chose. Make time to do a trial at least 3-4 weeks before the big event. If you hire a professional make-up artist, they’ll most likely include a trial in their package so take advantage of that! This will give you the opportunity to explore your options and feel good about your decision, meaning one less thing to stress about. Bonus tip: wear a white top when for your trial so you have a better idea of how the make-up will contrast with your wedding dress.

Try New Things – Yay or Nay?
It’s important to remember that you want to look like you on your wedding day. So if you don’t usually sport bright red lips, it might be too much to try it out on the big day. But trying new things is not always bad! I had never worn fake eyelashes before my wedding and honestly the whole idea creeped me out. Not just I have an unfounded fear of anything that comes close to my eyes, I was afraid of not looking like me. Through my wonderful make-up artist’s kindness and patience, I was convinced that fake eyelashes were okay and they would actually help my eyes pop out in the pictures. Another reason why the make-up trial is so crucial! Bonus tip: individual eyelashes will give you a more natural look than the strip ones.

Make-up is supposed to be fun so have fun trying different styles out before setting for one! 

Wedding Hairstyle Deciding on the wedding hairstyle to complement your beautiful bridal gown may not sound like the most arduous of tas...

Choosing Wedding Hairstyle

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Wedding Hairstyle
Deciding on the wedding hairstyle to complement your beautiful bridal gown may not sound like the most arduous of tasks, but it will make a huge difference to your overall look, and is worth putting some thought into.

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Most brides will have their hair done by a professional stylist on the morning of the wedding, and it is worth booking a consultation with them well in advance so you can try a few different looks, and find the perfect wedding hairstyle for you.

Here are four tips on choosing the right wedding hairstyle:

Consider the style of your bridal gown
Ideally your wedding hairstyle should match the formality and the style of your bridal gown. If you have chosen a princess ballgown, a flamboyant updo is generally the best option. For a simple, contemporary gown, a slicked back ponytail or bun, with a floral fabric side band is elegant yet understated.

If you have selected a whimsical lace and chiffon dress, you can wear your hair down with unstructured curls, or try a loose chignon with trailing tendrils around the face. A glamorous evening gown works well with smooth structured waves and sparkly accessories.

Decide on your major accessories
Are you planning on wearing a wedding veil with your bridal outfit, and if so how long will it be and where would you like it to be attached? Would you like to wear a tiara, an Alice band, or a modern side band? Does your dress have a fabric corsage or any other details that you would like to mirror in your hair accessories?

If you know the answers to these questions it can help your stylist to create a look that will incorporate your bridal accessories. Take any accessories that you already have along to the consultation with you.

Think how long your wedding hairstyle will need to last
If your ceremony starts at 2pm and your reception won’t finish until midnight, your wedding hairstyle is going to have to last for a very long time. Talk to your stylist about your hair type when choosing wedding hairstyle and decide what the practical solution might be to keeping it looking great all day.

Your loose wedding hairstyle might look great when the stylist has blow dried it, but if your hair is prone to frizzing up you might look like a puff ball by the time you get to the first dance. Equally if your hair doesn’t hold a curl easily, you will need a lot of products to keep those corkscrews in place until your dramatic exit. The bun is a popular wedding hairstyle as it is sleek and elegant, and stays in place all day.

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See your wedding hairstyle as part of your overall outfit
Your wedding hairstyle won’t stand alone on your wedding day; it will need to blend seamlessly with the rest of your bridal outfit. Think about how it will work with the neckline of your dress, any wedding jewellery you have chosen, and even the flowers in your bouquet.

The general rule is that if you have a very detailed bridal gown, or large complicated jewellery such as chandelier earrings, you should try to keep your wedding hairstyle as sleek and simple as possible. If however, you have a plain wedding dress, and few accessories, you can afford to be flamboyant with your wedding hairstyle and create a complex updo, or a cascade of curls.

Wedding Accessories Sure, your wedding dress may be the star of the show, but the right accessories can elevate your look and add pers...

9 Rules for Accessorizing Your Wedding Dress

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Wedding Accessories
Sure, your wedding dress may be the star of the show, but the right accessories can elevate your look and add personality. But between jewelry, shoes, veils and other pieces, there can be a dizzying amount of choices to make. Before you buy anything, read our top style rules for accessorizing your wedding dress.

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1. Match Your Metals
You may not realize this, but some metals look better with certain dress colors. As a general rule, ivory is best paired with gold since it highlights the creamy tint of the fabric. For a pure white dress, choose accents in silver or platinum or with pearl detailing—gold may clash with brighter white hues. You can have your pick with a diamond-white gown—this barely off-white color looks amazing with yellow gold, rose gold, silver or pearls. If the dress you chose is already embellished with beadwork, let that dictate the colors of your accessories. For example, if your gown has silver beading, pick a necklace, bracelet or earrings with a silver base. 

2. Remember: Less Is More
You don't need a veil, tiara, earrings, necklace and a sash. Accessories add a unique touch to your look, but even one too many can be over the top with an already-embellished gown. Before you start buying, take an inventory of your gown's standout features and then base your choices around them. If your dress has an ornate neckline, opt for a pair of drop earrings instead of a necklace (that might look too busy). For a gown with a simpler style, try a bold statement necklace or a fascinator. When it comes to earrings, take a cue from your hairstyle. If you're leaving your hair down and over your ears, small studs or drops will do. But for an updo, you might want something a little more dramatic, like a pair of chandelier danglers. It's always a good idea to avoid designs that closely mimic the embellishments on your gown—you don't want to look too matchy-matchy. 

3. Know Your Veils
The veil is the iconic bridal accessory. From flirty birdcages and ornate mantillas to regal cathedral-length styles, there's no shortage of options. But there are a few things you should keep in mind as you narrow down the type of veil you plan to wear:

  • You'll want your veil to match the exact shade of your gown. Color blocking is better left to your day-to-day look.
  • Be mindful when choosing a style. If your dress has a lot going on, stick with something simple that won't steal the spotlight.
  • If showing off the back of your dress is a must—say you have gorgeous embroidery or beading—choose a sheer veil rather than one with two layers of tulle.
  • Consider your body type: Longer waltz or floor-length veils will elongate a petite frame while mid-length styles, like fingertip or elbow-length veils, can visually cut you in half, making them a better pick for taller brides. Short styles, like a birdcage or bandeau, work for all shapes and sizes and lend a fun, retro vibe to your gown.

4. Top It Off
Veils not really your thing? From hair combs to fascinators, there are plenty of other ways to top off your look. Choose your hairstyle before you pick your accessory, since some types will look better with updos than others. A flower crown, for example, is best with loose locks. You should also consider your hair type—dainty accessories may be perfect for fine hair, but won't be as noticeable in thick waves. Most importantly, make sure whatever you pick feels secure while you're moving around. 

5. Think Beyond Earrings
Looking for a super-simple way to add a bit of personality to your wedding dress (and help create the illusion of curves)? Add a belt or sash. Just because your dress doesn't come with one, doesn't mean it won't look great—a fashionable fastener is an easy way to customize your gown and change its look without having to make expensive alterations. And whether you go with a classic satin sash or a metallic leather belt, it'll give your dress an instant upgrade. The key to choosing the right waist-cincher is to find one that works with your body type. Thin belts are best suited to short torsos, while wider belts work well with longer ones. If you're an apple shape, think about a beaded or heavily embellished belt to flatter your midsection. If you're petite, a belt with V-shape appliqué will elongate your body. As a general rule, stick with a style that's no more than three-inches wide—you don't want to overpower the rest of your gown. 

6. Keep It Comfy
No outfit is complete without the perfect pair of shoes—and your wedding day look is no exception. Of course you'll want a killer pair to go with that gorgeous dress, but that doesn't mean you have to compromise on comfort. Don't forget: You'll be standing for long periods of time, and you don't want to be cringing in pain before you've even hit the dance floor. While shopping, consider the height of the heel (obviously the taller you go, the higher the pain potential), the type of straps and the material. Your feet need to be well supported (think: ankle and toe straps over slip-ons) to avoid instability. Look for high-quality natural materials. They're infinitely more comfortable than synthetic ones and are also a lot more durable, meaning you'll be able to wear them again.

For the best fit, go shopping at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen from activity, and give yourself plenty of time to break in your new kicks before the wedding. Wear them around the house a couple weeks prior to the day, noting any areas that are prone to blisters. To make your shoes more comfortable, consider buying moleskin, heel grips, strap stickers or gel insoles designed specifically for heels. Shoes too strappy to conceal an insole or grip? Pick up a spray, wax or cream that protects against friction or provides anti-inflammatory pain relief to keep your feet happy.

7. Cover It Up
A stylish cover-up is a must if you're getting married during the cooler months or at a house of worship that requires you to cover your shoulders. From boleros to capelets and fur stoles, the options are endless. The key is to choose one that strikes the perfect balance with your gown. Simple, understated styles can be paired with more embellished cover-ups, like a beaded capelet with scalloped edges or a bold sequined or feather bolero for added personality. For already ornate gowns, try a more minimal accent to avoid looking too over the top. A delicate lace jacket, sheer tulle cape or a chiffon wrap will keep you warm without competing with your gown. Another option? A classic cardigan, the perfect complement to a rustic or more laid-back affair. 

8. Consider Your Décolletage
Pairing your neckline style with the proper adornment can add character to your wedding gown, or even highlight a unique feature. Follow these simple guidelines:

Sweetheart or strapless: For something a little different, skip the necklace and focus on an elegant pair of chandelier earrings instead. Wear clear crystal for a sleek look, or add punch with a hint of color. Try using a meaningful gem, like your birthstone, or pick a hue from the flowers in your bridal bouquet. If you're going for a flirty, fresh look, include two or three small fresh or silk flowers in your hair to add a soft, organic feel. Vintage elegancemore your style? Pay homage to the past with an art-deco-style bracelet or some roaring twenties–inspired feather barrettes.

V-neck: Whether you opt for a pendant or choker, this style begs for a little décolletage decoration. A thin chain with a simple pendant, like a locket, is an elegant way to accessorize, while pearls (single- or double-stranded) are always a classic choice. If you're going for a more decadent look, a crystal choker or statement necklace with matching earrings could be the perfect combo.

Halter or reverse halter: For this shoulder-baring style, skip the necklace and focus on dressing up your tresses. Headbands are a great way to add panache to your wedding updo, be it a sleek bun or loose ponytail. But if headbands aren't quite your style, try adding some sparkle to your hair with intricate crystal hairpins. If you've got a curly mane, five to seven hairpins is the perfect number, while brides with thinner locks (or shorter hair) need fewer—just two or three pins will do the trick.

9. Stick to What You Know
Although it's a special day, don't stray too far from your normal style. If you rarely wear jewels, there's no need to drown yourself in diamonds on your wedding day. The goal is to look like the best, most beautiful version of your regular self. 

Wedding Decorations Couples are becoming ever more creative with their wedding decorations in order to create a wedding reception desig...

Choosing the right wedding decorations

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Wedding Decorations
Couples are becoming ever more creative with their wedding decorations in order to create a wedding reception design that is personal, unique and memorable. Before you decide on the type of decorations you would like, you will need to determine a theme or colour scheme for your wedding.

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Whether you have a beach wedding, a winter wonderland theme, a vintage style reception, or a pink polka scheme, there are bound to be decorations available to complement your choice.

The extent of your wedding decorations will depend largely on what you can afford. If you are on a tight budget, it might be wise to stick to one type of decoration, such as table centrepieces, and make sure these create an impact, rather than spending money on lots of smaller decorations that might get lost in your venue.

The style of your wedding venue will also influence your decorations. If you are hiring an elaborately decorated room, you should keep your decorations simple, but if you are using a plain marquee or function room, you can afford to go overboard on the decorations.

Here are some of the elements of your wedding to incorporate into your decorative scheme:
 - Table centrepieces
 - Bomboniere
 - Table linen including napkins and rings
 - Chair covers and sashes
 - Place names and table plans

You can tie all these elements together by using a consistent colour scheme or material. A simple way to create a unified look is to use the same ribbon in all of these elements, as well as using it in the bridesmaids’ outfits and the bride’s bouquet. Beads and jewels such as crystals are becoming popular for wedding decorations, and these can also be added to table linen, bombonieres, place names and centrepieces.

Ways to use flowers
Ordering floral arrangements that you can use for the ceremony and then transfer to the reception to use as table centrepieces is a great way to use flowers, and is also cost effective.

However, there are many other ways to use flowers in your wedding decorations. Garlands of fresh flowers hanging from the ceiling, or wrapped around beams and pillars can be very dramatic, and flowered archways can add interest to your wedding venue. Try placing a fresh flower in each place setting, or scattering rose petals on the tables.

Other popular wedding decorations
Candles are a popular addition to wedding decorations, from simple tea lights to towering candelabras. They are available in a wide variety of colours and can add romantic lighting as well as subtle scents to your reception. Another way to create warm lighting is to use lanterns, either traditional metal or Chinese style paper lanterns.

Contemporary decorations include decorative birdcages, sparkling costume jewellery, metallic balloons, and bold coloured and patterned fabrics. Another trend in wedding decoration is to use topiary, or indoor trees decorated with lights or ornaments reflecting your wedding theme.

Some of the more unusual trends in wedding decoration to crop up in the last year include using outdoor furniture such as wrought iron tables and benches in an indoor venue, and having uniquely designed and frequently changing wallpaper projected onto plain walls or the inside of a marquee.

Wedding Cake 1. Start early. Your venue choice can really influence the aesthetic and design details of your cake: Delicate buttercrea...

10 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Cake

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Wedding Cake
1. Start early. Your venue choice can really influence the aesthetic and design details of your cake: Delicate buttercream icing won’t withstand the heat as well as sturdier fondant at an outdoor summer wedding, for example, so once you’ve secured your location, start shopping around for your baker.

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2. Find your baker. Word of mouth is the tried-and-true way to find a baker, but attending wedding fairs is another route. Couples have the opportunity to meet local bakers and see and sample cake without having to commit to a private consultation.

3. Get social. Like many creatives, I post my cakes in real time across social media, so brides can get a clear sense of my work output and the types of cakes I specialize in. But don’t be swayed by the swoon-worthy images alone. Seek out online testimonials and reviews to complete the picture before you schedule a meeting.

4. Align your style. Some bakers are highly specialized and others offer a much wider variety of styles. I specialize in fondant cakes with a modern aesthetic. I don’t do buttercream or rustic cakes, but there are other bakers who work exclusively with buttercream. There are even bakers who only create naked cakes. As you explore and gather cake images, note the styles that speak to you. Whimsical? Geometric? Romantic? Rustic? Glamorous? Do you see a pattern emerging?

5. Take a meeting. Once you’ve narrowed your search to two or three bakers (or even The One), the cake journey begins! Before even thinking about red velvet vs. vanilla bean, your baker will need the nitty-gritty details such as wedding date, venue and estimated head count.

6. Bottom line basics. A big part of my job is helping a couple prioritize where the cake purchase fits within their wedding budget. A good cake designer will make helpful suggestions to keep your budget on point, while still meeting your aesthetic needs.

7. Consider the cost. The cost of a cake is determined by the number of servings needed and the complexity of the design. Sugar flowers can dramatically spike the costs because they are handcrafted, time-consuming — and thus expensive. I had a couple who wanted a spiraling floral cascade similar to one they’d seen online, but couldn’t afford the extra cost. I came up with several workarounds, among them using real flowers or going with one or two bold sugar flower accents.

8. Get inspired. Your overall wedding style can kick-start the design process with your baker, but don’t stop there. Mood boards, images of cakes you love, your wedding color palette, your dress — any and all of these elements will get the cake design wheels in motion.

9. Be fearless with flavors. Some bakers charge extra for so-called premium flavors and fillings, others (like me) do not, so be sure to establish any cost upgrades at your tasting so you don’t get hit with surprise surcharges. I encourage clients to push the flavor envelope. Why go with vanilla, chocolate or red velvet when there’s praline and hazelnut cake accented with chocolate mousse and a drizzle of caramel to consider? Your cake should be both beautiful and delicious: Don’t choose flavors you think everyone will like, choose the flavors you like. Remember, it’s your wedding and this is your cake.

10. Tasty vibes — consultation 101. I like to meet with a couple over a 45-minute tasting and design consultation. (The fee is $50 per couple, which is deductible from the final balance for the finished cake.) I send a menu ahead of time and have the couple choose two flavors, which are served at the tasting along with chocolate mud cake, red velvet cake and vanilla bean cake. Couples also get to choose four filling flavors to try, plus I always provide samples of Swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate ganache (both are used as frosting or filling). The tasting is set up so that couples can mix and match the various elements. I always start the design process with the tasting because it’s such a great ice breaker — who doesn’t love eating cake? Clients are asked to bring along any relevant design inspiration (including images of cakes they love), and I always ask them to bring examples of things that are meaningful to them or their relationship. After an initial discussion and budget evaluation, I sketch out several ideas, and we work from there to conceptualize a final design together.

American Wedding Ceremony United States Most weddings in the United States traditionally follow the white wedding type which origin...

American Wedding Ceremony

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American Wedding Ceremony
United States

Most weddings in the United States traditionally follow the white wedding type which originates from the white color of the bride's wedding dress, but refers to an entire wedding routine. Customs and traditions vary, but common components are listed below.

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Before the wedding

    - The host sends invitations to the wedding guests, usually one to two months before the wedding. Invitations may most formally be addressed by hand to show the importance and personal meaning of the occasion. Large numbers of invitations may be mechanically reproduced. As engraving was the highest quality printing technology available in the past, this has become associated with wedding invitation tradition. Receiving an invitation does not impose any obligation on the invitee other than promptly accepting or declining the invitation, and offering congratulations to the couple.

    - While giving any gift to the newlywed couple is technically optional, nearly all invited guests who attend the wedding choose to do so. Wedding gifts are most commonly sent to the bride's or host's home before the wedding day. Gifts are typically not brought to ceremonies or receptions, and any that are will not be opened, but rather placed aside for later delivery to the newlyweds' home.

    - A color scheme is selected by some to match everything from bridesmaids' dresses, flowers, invitations, and decorations, though there is no necessity in doing so.

At the wedding

    - A wedding ceremony may take place anywhere, but often a church, courthouse, or outdoor venue. The ceremony is usually brief, and may be dictated by the couple's religious practices. The most common non-religious form is derived from a simple Anglican ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer, and can be performed in less than ten minutes, although it is often extended by inserting music or speeches. Because of its brevity, guests who arrive late may miss the ceremony entirely.

     - American brides usually wear a white, off-white, silver, or other very light-colored dress, particularly at their first marriage. Brides may choose any color, although black is strongly discouraged by some as it is the color of mourning in the west.

    - Uncooked rice is sometimes thrown at the newlyweds as they leave the ceremony to symbolize fertility. Some individuals, churches or communities choose birdseed due to a false but widely believed myth that birds eating the rice will burst. Because of the mess that rice and birdseed make, modern couples often leave in clouds of bubbles.

    - The wedding party may form a receiving line at this point, or later at a wedding reception, so that each guest may briefly greet the entire wedding party.

At the wedding reception

    - Drinks, snacks, or perhaps a full meal, especially at long receptions, are served while the guests and wedding party mingle.

    - Often, best men and/or maids of honor will toast newlyweds with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes; sometimes other guests follow with their own toasts. Champagne is usually provided for this purpose.

    - In a symbolic cutting of the wedding cake, the couple may jointly hold a cake knife and cut the first pieces of the wedding cake, which they feed to each other. In some sub-cultures, they may deliberately smear cake on each other's faces, which is considered vulgar elsewhere.

    - If dancing is offered, the newlyweds first dance together briefly. Sometimes a further protocol is followed, wherein each dances next with a parent, and then possibly with other members of the wedding party. Special songs are chosen by the couple, particularly for a mother/son dance and a father/daughter dance. In some subcultures, a dollar dance takes place in which guests are expected to dance with the one of the newlyweds, and give them a small amount of cash. This practice, as is any suggestion that the guests owe money to the couple, is considered rude in most social groups as it is contrary to basic western etiquette.

    - In the mid-twentieth century it became common for a bride to toss her bouquet over her shoulder to the assembled unmarried women during the reception. The woman who catches it, superstition has it, will be the next to marry. In a similar process, her groom tosses the bride's garter to the unmarried men, followed by the man who caught the garter placing it on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet. While still common in many circles, these practices (particularly the latter) are falling into less favor in the 21st century.

Wedding gifts

The purpose of inviting guests is to have them witness a couple's marriage ceremony and vows and to share in their joy and celebration. Gifts for the wedding couple are optional, although most guests attempt to give at least a token gift of their best wishes. Some couples and families feel, contrary to proper etiquette, that in return for the expense they put into entertaining and feeding their guests, the guests should pay them with similarly expensive gifts or cash.

The couple often registers for gifts at a store well in advance of their wedding. This allows them to create a list of household items, usually including china, silverware and crystalware, linens or other fabrics, pots and pans, etc. Registries are intended to aid guests in selecting gifts the newlyweds truly want, and the service is sufficiently profitable that most retailers, from luxury shops to discount stores, offer the opportunity. Registry information should, according to etiquette, be provided only to guests upon direct request, and never included in the invitation. Some couples additionally or instead register with services that enable money gifts intended to fund items such as a honeymoon, home purchase or college fund. Some find bridal registries inappropriate as they contravene traditional notions behind gifts, such as that all gifts are optional and delightful surprises personally chosen by the giver, and that registries lead to a type of price-based competition, as the couple knows the cost of each gift. Traditionally, weddings were considered a personal event and inviting people to the wedding who are not known to at least one member of the couple well enough to be able to choose an appropriate gift was considered inappropriate, and registries should therefore be unnecessary. Whether considered appropriate or not, others believe that weddings are opportunities to extract funds or specific gifts from as many people as possible, and that even an invitation carries an expectation of monetary reward rather than merely congratulations.

Music played at Western weddings includes a processional song for walking down the aisle (ex: wedding march) and reception dance music includes:

    - Various works for trumpet and organ, arguably the most famous of which include the Prince of Denmark's March by Jeremiah Clarke as a processional, the "Trumpet Tune" by Henry Purcell and the "Trumpet Voluntary" by John Stanley as recessionals.

    - Selections by George Frideric Handel, perhaps most notably the "Air" from his Water Music as processional and the "Alla Hornpipe" as recessional.

     - The "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, often used as the processional and commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride". Richard Wagner is said to have been anti-Semitic, and as a result, the Bridal Chorus is often not used at Jewish weddings.

     - Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D is an alternative processional.

    - The "Wedding March" from Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, used as a recessional.

    - The "Toccata" from Charles-Marie Widor's Symphony for Organ No. 5, used as a recessional.

    - Segments of the Ode to Joy, the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

    - At wedding receptions, Der Ententanz, a 1950s Swiss Oom-pah song known more commonly in America as The Chicken Dance, has become a popular part of the reception dance music.

Wedding Invitations Your wedding invitation is your guests' first peek into your wedding day, so you want to make it shine. Not sur...

Top Wedding Invitation Tips

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Wedding Invitations
Your wedding invitation is your guests' first peek into your wedding day, so you want to make it shine. Not sure where to begin? We've got everything you need to know about this important piece of your stationery right here.

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Define Your Wedding Style
Along with listing the location and time of day, the invitation—and, more specifically, its style—hints to the formality of your wedding. You should have an idea of the type of event you're throwing—classic and elegant, casual and relaxed, or glam and modern—before you start shopping for stationery, so you can choose an invitation style that hits the same note. Then browse stationers' websites and others couples' wedding invitations to gather inspiration so you can give your stationer an idea of what you like.

Know Your Colors
Think about your wedding colors too. You may want to incorporate your hues and a motif (if you have one) into your wedding invitations—and then carry them throughout the rest of your wedding paper (like the escort cards, menus and ceremony programs) for a cohesive look. While ivory, cream or white card stock paired with a black or gold font is the classic choice for formal wedding invitations, you can also brighten your invites with colorful or metallic fonts, paper stock, envelopes and liners. Just keep readability in mind when choosing your colors (more on that later).

Play With the Shape and Size
A 4.5-inch-by-6.25-inch rectangular card is the traditional size and shape for wedding invitations. But couples are channeling more playful or modern vibes with circular, scalloped and square invitations. Don't forget to consider that veering away from the standard envelope size can increase the postage—bulky or extra-large invites may cost more to send.

Make Sure They're Legible
As you consider colors and patterns, don't forget about the text—the information you put on the invitation is the whole point of sending it out in the first place. Your stationer can help, but, in general, avoid light ink on light backgrounds and dark ink on dark backgrounds. Yellow and pastels are tough colors to read, so if you're going with those, make sure the background contrasts enough for the words to pop, or work those colors into the design rather than the text. Also, be wary of hard-to-read fonts like an overly scripted typeface—you don't want to sacrifice readability for pretty letters.

Choose Your Words Wisely
Learn the rules to wording your invitation. Traditionally, whoever is hosting is listed first on the invitation. Customarily, you should spell everything out, including the time of the ceremony. On classic wedding invitations, there's always a request line after the host's name—something like "so and so request the honor of your presence." The wording can change as the hosting situation does, so make sure to double-check you've added everyone who should be included.

Don't Crowd the Card
List only the key points on your invitation: ceremony time and location, the hosts, your and your fiancé's names, the dress code (optional) and RSVP information. Trying to squeeze too much onto the invitation card can make it harder to read and it won't look as elegant. Leave things like directions to your wedding venue and details about postwedding activities for your wedding website and/or print them on separate enclosure cards. One piece of information that doesn't belong anywhere on your suite: where you're registered. The only acceptable place to list registry information is on your wedding website.

Start Early
Your save-the-dates should go out six to eight months before the wedding. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks—or longer, depending how fancy you go—to print them. While your save-the-dates don't have to match your invites, ordering everything from one stationer can save you money and make the invitation process easier on you. So start scouting stationers 9 to 11 months before the wedding. Aim to order your invitations about four to five months out so they're ready to mail six to eight weeks before the wedding. If you're having a destination wedding or marrying over the holidays, send out your invites even earlier (10 to 12 weeks before the wedding).

Get Your Dates Straight
Include your RSVP information on the bottom right corner of your invitation or on a separate enclosure, and make the deadline no more than three or four weeks after guests receive the invitations. Check with your caterer first to find out when they'll need the final head count. Remember: The more time you give guests to reply, the more likely they are to forget—but you'll need time to put together the seating chart. Plus, your final count may affect the number of centerpieces and other décor elements, which your vendors will need to finalize a few weeks before the wedding.

Consider Costs
The price per invite can vary widely—anywhere from $1 to more than $100. It all depends on the design, ink, typeface, printing process, paper and quantity. Top-of-the-line papers, color ink, formal printing techniques (like letterpress and engraving) and custom design will add to your costs, as will decorative extras like envelope liners and multiple enclosures. That's why it's important to research your options ahead of time, so you can pick your priorities, whether it's sophisticated printing and a custom design or multiple enclosures. Also, if you're planning to hire a calligrapher, look into the cost (think: $2 to $8 per envelope) at the same time you're choosing your invitations, so you can account for it in your stationery budget.

Have a Pro Address Your Envelopes
When you order your invitations, see if you can take the envelopes home immediately (or as soon as possible). That way, if you're having someone other than your stationer (say, a calligrapher) print the return addresses on your envelopes (most stationers print the return addresses for little or no charge; it's often even included in the suite's price), they can get a head start. While you don't have to hire a calligrapher to address your envelopes, we highly recommend it—it looks beautiful and makes an elegant first impression. Traditionally, addresses are handwritten, so unless you have impeccable handwriting, it's best to leave the envelopes to a pro. If you plan to do them yourselves, tackle the project in a few sittings to avoid sloppiness or mistakes. While using printed labels is an easy (and affordable) option, handwriting each address is not only more formal, it's also more personal. It shows your guests that you want them to be at your wedding so much that you took the time to handwrite (or have a calligrapher hand-letter) their name and address on the envelope. But if your penmanship is more like chicken scratch and you don't have the budget for a calligrapher, you can print the addresses from your computer using digital calligraphy software.

Triple-Check the Proof
Before your invitation order is printed, your stationer will send you a proof (either a hard copy or an email attachment of the invite mock-up). Don't just have your fiancé and mom read it over. Ask your English-major friend or a grammar-savvy bridesmaid to check the proof before you okay it. You'd be surprised at the things you may miss (pay special attention to details like date and time and spelling). Borrow a tip from copy editors and read the proof word for word from right to left so you don't accidentally gloss over any mistakes.

Count Your Households
You don't need an invitation for every guest. Take a look at your guest list and figure out how many houses need invitations before you give your stationer a number—you might be able to cut your order in half. Cohabiting couples get one invitation; for couples living apart, you can either send one invite to the guest you're closer with (and include both names on the inner and outer envelopes), or you can send out separate invitations. Families get one invitation (addressed to "The Smith Family," for example). The exceptions: Children who don't live at home (like college students) or anyone over 18 who lives at home should get their own invitation.

Order Extra
It's expensive to go back and print more invitations after the fact. Order enough invitations for your guest list , plus 25 extra in case you need to resend an invitation, want to put some aside as keepsakes (trust us, your moms will want at least a few) or plan on sending invitations to a "B-list." Tip: If you have a lengthy B-list, consider ordering a second set of invitations with a later RSVP date. And even if you're hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations, ask for extra envelopes in case of returned invites or addressing mistakes (calligraphers generally require an extra 15 to 20 percent).

Don't Forget the Rest of Your Suite
Order your menus, programs and thank-you notes with your invitations. That way, your stationer can include all of the pieces in one order, which may save you money and time. It's also a good way to ensure all your stationery has a cohesive look, even if you want to vary the design slightly for each element (by switching the dominant color or alternating between two patterns, for example). Also, don't forget those little items like favor tags and welcome bag notes.

Remember Your Thank-Yous
Track RSVPs as they come in using a guest list manager tool or spreadsheet. Include a column where you can note what each guest gives you. Then, as the wedding gifts start rolling in, begin writing your thank-you notes so you don't fall behind. For any presents received before the wedding, you should send a thank-you note within two weeks. For those given on or after the wedding day, give yourself a month.

Put a Stamp on It
It may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget: If you want guests to mail back their reply cards, include stamped (and addressed) envelopes. That way they don't have to pay for the postage. Traditionally, the return envelopes should be addressed to whoever is hosting the wedding; however, if your parents are technically hosting, but you're keeping track of the guest list, you can use your address instead. And you can find customizable stamps to coordinate with your design at The Knot Shop. Tip: Rates do change from time to time, so check before you add those stamps to make sure you have adequate postage.

Do a Weigh-In
While you probably can't wait to drop those wedding invitations in the mail and check another thing off your to-do list, weighing a sample invitation (enclosures and all) at the post office first could save you many more to-dos later. Trust us, you don't want to deal with the hassle of invitations being returned because of insufficient postage. And while you're at the post office, ask about hand-canceling your invites. This involves a stamp that says your mail is processed (instead of running your invites through the processing machine like regular mail, which could bend or even ruin them). While hand-canceling is free, check with your local post office first to make sure that it has the hand stamp. And keep in mind that while most post offices try to keep hand-canceled mail separate from regular mail, there's no absolute guarantee that your invitations won't go through the processing machines. To ensure they don't, you can pay a non-machinable fee to have them hand-processed—it will guarantee that your mail will be sorted by hand.