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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Wedding Planning Basics: How to Prevent Wedding Gift Theft

Michael and Tricia DelGaudio had a perfect wedding day. But the day after their wedding reception at a bistro in Brooklyn, New York, the couple realized something was amiss. “When we opened the card box, we realized that there was a tear in the top, and only six or so cards were inside,” Michael says.
How it Happened
The couple began to retrace the evening and remembered a well-dressed man who everyone assumed was a guest — after the wedding, they learned that he even chatted up other guests, telling one person he was a friend of the groom’s family, and another that he met the bride at an art exhibit. The mystery man had stolen most of the couple’s wedding gifts, and despite the fact that he showed up in numerous pictures taken during the evening, police closed the case due to lack of evidence, and the presents were never recovered.
An Unhappy Pattern
Michael and Tricia soon discovered that wedding gift theft is far from unheard of — Michael’s cousin and his best man’s mother also had presents stolen from their weddings. Though it’s unpleasant to think you’re vulnerable at your own reception, the reality is that a wedding crasher or staff member can all-too-easily get away with stealing your gifts when everyone else is distracted and having fun.
What You Can Do
Create an online registry and have the presents sent directly to your house (or another family member’s house, like your mom’s). The best way to ensure nothing is stolen is to spread the word that you’d prefer presents mailed to your residence rather than brought to the reception.
Place your gift table far from an exit to make it more difficult for anyone who’s trying to steal your presents, or…
Forgo having a gift table all together. Instead, visit each table during the reception so that guests have the opportunity to hand you envelopes of cash or checks — but only if they wish to do so. You should never ask for cash.
If you spot a wedding crasher, don’t be polite and ignore them. Ask your day-of coordinator or an attendant to ask the crasher to leave.
Ask a trustworthy friend to act as gift attendant. Ask him to store the gifts in a secure place (like a locked room) rather than displaying them in the open.
If your reception is large (over 300 people) and the site is in a high-traffic area (like in any urban setting), consider hiring security, both to prevent theft and to quash any other rowdiness that might transpire.
Think about buying wedding insurance. Coverage from a company like WedSafe will cover stolen gifts as long as it’s reported right away.

What if It Happens to You?
If you’re a victim of wedding gift theft, report it to the police as soon as possible. Get in touch with your reception site to see if there are any security cameras that may have caught the crime on tape.
Perhaps the toughest part will be explaining the situation to your guests (after all, you really can’t write thank-you notes for gifts you never received). One approach is to send an email to as many guests as you can and give them a rundown of what happened; ask them to spread the word to those whose email addresses you don’t have. And then send handwritten notes to every guest expressing your thanks for his or her attendance. If your wedding was on the smaller side, you could call each guest individually, though be prepared for lots of questions about the specifics from concerned friends and relatives.


Wedding Planning Basics: Ceremony Seating 101

Family, friends, and family friends: Where should they sit during your big moment? With parents, stepparents, divorced parents, grandparents, and extended family, all in attendence, you’ll need a plan. Here are our guidelines.
Ushers: Who Are They?
You can enlist a few of your groomsmen to play ushers, or you can ask some relatives or friends to seat your guests. The rule of thumb is one usher for every 50 guests. If you’re having an intimate ceremony, you may not need ushers, but you might want to put someone in charge of “sensitive” seating issues — like keeping your mom and stepmom apart.
Ushers really need to know where everyone’s supposed to sit — so print out a list for them! Traditionally, female guests are escorted to their seats; the usher offers his right arm to the woman, and her male companion follows them down the aisle. (With a group of women, the usher might offer his arm to the oldest woman.) These days, it’s fine for ushers to simply greet guests at the door and lead them to their seats, saying, “Please follow me.”
Taking Sides
Ushers needn’t ask guests whose “side” they are on. (In Christian ceremonies, the bride’s side is the left side of the church when looking from back to front, and the groom’s side is the right; for Jewish services, it’s the opposite.) But should someone express a preference for one side or the other (many guests will say they are friends or relatives of the bride or groom), they should be seated where they want to sit. If one side of the family will have more guests than the other, ushers should try to even things out, explaining that everyone will sit together so guests can get the best view possible.
Who Sits Where?
Quick answers to your most frequent seating questions:
Elderly guests should be seated near the front.
Guests in wheelchairs or on crutches should sit at the end of a pew.
The first four or five rows may be reserved for immediate and extended family (like aunts, uncles, cousins, and godparents) and other special guests (like the parents of a child attendant) by tying ribbons across those rows.
Immediate family is seated just before the ceremony begins. Siblings (if they’re not in the wedding party) are seated before grandparents and great-grandparents. They sit either in the first row with parents or in the second row with grandparents. Start seating with the groom’s side.
If you have step-relatives, make sure ushers know who they are. Step-relatives should be escorted to their seats first — for example, step-grandparents precede birth grandparents. You may want to reserve a few extra rows directly behind immediate family for step-grandparents and stepsiblings.
If the bride’s or groom’s parents are divorced, seat the parent who primarily raised the bride or groom in the front row with his/her spouse, and seat the other parent and his/her spouse in the third row. Alternatively, birth parents may sit beside each other in the first row, or they may share the front row with stepparents. Discuss this in advance to avoid awkward moments.
The bride’s mother is always seated last at a Christian ceremony; the groom’s mother is seated just before her. (In Jewish ceremonies, parents stand under the huppah with the couple). The seating of the bride’s mother signals that the ceremony is about to begin.
Brothers of the bride and groom usually seat their mothers; the head usher can do it if the brothers are in the wedding party, or a brother can seat his mom and then take his place with the other groomsmen.

Wedding Planners: 13 Questions to Ask

Strongly consider handing the planning baton to a wedding consultant if a) neither you nor your families have time to plan your wedding; b) neither you nor your families have any desire to plan your wedding; c) you’re planning a wedding out of town; or d) you simply prefer — and can afford — professional help. They’ll do the legwork, hire vendors, negotiate contracts, and may even cut you some money-saving deals. Expect to pay them 10 to 15 percent of your total wedding budget. Need a referral? Check out our guide to wedding planners listed by city. Here are key questions to ask.
1. Will the consultant commit to your budget and not push you in the direction of things you simply can’t afford?
2. Will the consultant devise a master plan mapping out all the little details, from announcement to zebra-striped decor? (This will clue you in to organizational prowess and a willingness to keep you in the loop on every matter imaginable.)
3. Can the consultant name the best and most original locations in your area (that would be suitable to your wedding size, style, and budget)?
The consultant should have plenty of questions for you too, in an effort to determine your wishes, needs, level of maintenance, budget, scope of imagination, and more.
4. Is the consultant familiar with the best florists, photographers, caterers, bands, and DJs in your price range? Can he/she explain their strongpoints to you briefly? (Ask yourself: Does the consultant seem both knowledgeable and passionate?)
5. Can the consultant score you some discounts with any vendors? (Consultants bring volume to favored vendors; often they’ll reciprocate by slashing prices or throwing in extras.)
6. Will the consultant read over the vendor contracts for you? What are some common traps to look out for?
7. Can the consultant create a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process — vendors, members of the wedding party, bride/groom, and families — what to do and when to do it? How will she/he make sure that everyone sticks to the schedule?
8. Will the consultant handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing?
9. Can the consultant counsel you on etiquette matters and alert you to hot trends on the wedding horizon?
10. Will the consultant coordinate delivery, arrival, and setup times with photographer, florist, musicians, caterer/banquet manager, et al?
11. For the day of the wedding, will the consultant be willing to oversee the entire event by supervising vendors, troubleshooting emergencies, and soothing nerves? Can she/he share any anecdotes that required performing above and beyond the call of duty?
12. Will the consultant be willing to step in as your advocate, conveying your visions and desires to vendors when you don’t feel up to the task?
13. Will the consultant help plan and book your honeymoon?
Knot Note:
Remember that the consultant should have plenty of questions for you too, in an effort to determine your wishes, needs, level of maintenance, budget, scope of imagination, and more. You’re both trying to assess each other and how well you’ll work together. The consultant will probably initiate discussions — take this time to consider manner, personality, confidence, warmth, whatever you’re looking for. Whomever you enlist, do not hire a consultant who doesn’t want to listen, is bossy, tries to convince you of what’s best for you, critiques your ideas, has no references, and won’t sign a written agreement.

Wedding Newsletters: Why You Need One

One of the toughest things about wedding planning is making sure everyone knows what’s going on. Between your two (or more!) sets of parents, your siblings, and the wedding party (spread out over the continental U.S. Yikes!) how are you supposed to keep everyone on top of things? It’s easy — put together a newsletter. Here’s our handy guide.
Why Do A Newsletter?
It’s a way for you to let everyone know the wedding skinny all at once, in writing, so there’s much less chance of last-minute confusion. Also, putting all the information together for your newsletter will probably help you organize it in your own head, too.
What Should Be In It?
A newsletter can be as simple as a list of everyone intimately involved in the wedding, what their role is, their phone number, and their e-mail address, so everyone can keep in touch and/or will know who to call (besides you, of course!) if they have questions or problems. You may also want to include information about your wedding vendors and who they are. Feel free to get creative — if you send out a newsletter early in your engagement, do a little “getting to know you” section in which you include a photo of each attendant plus a paragraph about them and their relationship to you and your honey.
The newsletter is an invaluable place to give bridesmaids information on fittings and let groomsmen know which formalwear store you’re using. You can request ideas, info, or help from specific people. And maybe most importantly, you can give everyone who needs it a detailed itinerary for prewedding parties and the wedding day, so no one will be clueless about where to go and when.
A newsletter can be as simple as a list of everyone intimately involved in the wedding, what their role is, their phone number, and their e-mail address.
When Should I Send It Out?
You might decide to do several installments — one right after you’ve chosen your wedding party, one before the shower, and one a week or two before the wedding. You could get really into it and do monthly issues, or you might just do one sometime in the middle of wedding planning. It all depends on what information you feel you need to give out and how timely it has to be. For example, you won’t know the exact times everyone needs to be everywhere on wedding day six months before the date, but you will know a week or two before — and that’s the prime time to fill in everybody else.
How Do I Do It?
The easiest way is to design and write the newsletter on your computer, and then print it out and make copies made to send out. If you’ve got a desktop publishing program like Quark Xpress (or one you can borrow at work), you can make it look like a real publication, with columns, headlines, the works. If everyone who needs to get it is online, just do a group e-mail!
Who Should Get It?
Everyone who would benefit from the information you include. Definitely everyone in the wedding party (that should include the parents of any child attendants), your parents, and maybe wedding professionals (florist, photographer, etc.) if the information is relevant to them as well. The exact mailing list for your newsletter is pretty much up to you.
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Wedding Keepsakes: How to Preserve Your Gown


A gown that gorgeous deserves safe-keeping. Here’s how to make sure your gown’s greatness will live on:
What It Is
Preservation provides a means of maintaining the quality and appearance of a gown through customized
cleaning and appropriate storage. Methods range from savvy self-storage (in a temperate, dry, dark
location) to museum-quality preservation.

Beware of any vendors that tell you their warranty is void if you open the box in which your gown is

How It Works
Professional preservationists analyze the fabrics, dyes, weaves, and ornaments of your gown, as well as
the composition of stains in order to formulate a customized cleaning plan. In removing invisible soils
and other stains from the gown, they remove the potential fabric damage that results when these
substances embed in the fabric and undergo chemical reactions. After cleaning, the gown is carefully
wrapped in stable archival materials and packaged in an archival Coroplast box (the storage box of
choice for most major museums) and should be protected from extreme temperatures, moisture, and
exposure to direct sunlight.
The price of cleaning and preservation will vary with the complexity of a gown’s beadwork, train
length, and stain damage. A local high-end dry cleaner will charge as much as $100 for standard dry
cleaning. Specialized gown preservationists will normally charge between $250 and $500.
Why Do It
Preservation is a fab idea for any bride who spent big for her couture-quality gown, and is recommended
if the gown will not be used for more than three years. If a dress is not going to be worn ever again,
it may seem silly to save it, but consider the amount of time, love, and money that you invested in
choosing a gown for your wedding. Preservation can maintain the integrity of this important piece of
memorabilia. Also, while you might not agree with your family’s fashion sense, you can give them the
chance to benefit from your good taste by keeping your gown in beautiful condition so that a future
bride — a sister, daughter, or niece — can wear it at her wedding.
Before committing, question several establishments regarding their pricing, procedure, and warranties.

Your gown should be preserved as soon as possible after the wedding; however, it is generally safe to
wait as long as six months after the ceremony. Until you do send your gown off for preservation, be
sure to store it in a dark and dry place, rolled or folded in a clean white sheet.

Shelf Life
Beware of any vendors that tell you their warranty is void if you open the box in which your gown is
stored. With professional gown preservation, you can freely remove the gown from the archival box
without fear of damaging it in any way — just wear gloves so the oil from your hands doesn’t get on
the fabric, and repack it carefully when you’re done. Many preservationists claim the gowns will keep
for 50-70 years, and some companies even offer a warranty.


Wedding Guests: How to Make Out-of-Town Wedding Guests Feel at Home


For a significant number of your friends and family members, showing up for your nuptial celebration
may mean hopping on a plane to cross state lines. These out-of-towners will go to a lot of effort and
expense to share in your momentous occasion, so it’s your job to welcome them, help them get around,
and keep them entertained. With that in mind, here’s how to put them at ease.
Essential Details

One of the simplest, yet probably most useful, things you could do for your guests is to provide a
wedding itinerary. After sending out your invitations, mail guests an additional clever, elegant, or
interesting communique with a complete rundown of the events leading up to and following your walk down
the aisle. In addition, create a wedding web page for an easily referenced one-stop-shop for guests to
check up on everything you have planned. In both cases, include key times, locations, who is hosting,
what to wear, and so on for each activity. Tell your visitors about any free time they’ll have, and
provide suggestions for how to fill it. There may be events you have in mind (such as a brunch the
morning after the wedding) that travelers should know about in advance so they can schedule their trips
around them.

These intrepid travelers have come to see you, so make sure they do — pull them aside for some one-on
-one attention.

Be aware that since many of your guests are taking to the skies, they may be turning your nuptial event
into a weekend getaway or part of a vacation. Also, remember that some of your guests may never have
visited the area before. You may wish to add in “travel guide” bits of information to your pre-wedding
itinerary to get guests excited about the journey. For example, if there are some great sights to see
or points of interest to visit, tell your guests in case they’d like to do some exploring. Do some
research and investigate which museums will have amazing exhibits showing, whether or not the local
sports team is playing a home game, and what musical or other cultural performances will be happening.

Shelter & Travel
Though footing the bill for travelers’ overnight accommodations and flights isn’t your responsibility,
you and your fiance should offer suggestions for how to find both (and tips on how to score good deals
will no doubt be appreciated by guests). Be sure to put important details for airlines and hotels
(website and street addresses, phone numbers, directions, and cost information) on an insert sent out
with your invitations, or post it separately on your wedding itinerary or web page so guests can book
their flights and rooms early and know how to get around once they arrive.

Recommend different places for guests to stay. Look for locations near your ceremony and reception
sites, and start calling around about six months beforehand to check on large-scale availability for
the days surrounding your wedding, and to inquire about special group rates. To get the best deal for
your guests, reserve blocks of rooms at a couple of hotels. Keep your guest’s probable budget range in
mind, and recommend both fancy fare for those flush with cash and a less expensive alternative for the
budget-minded. For the best airfares, try getting in touch with the airlines directly. Inquire about
frequent-flyer deals, special discounts, and group rates for those who may all be flying in from the
same place.
Getting Around
Some out-of-towners will choose to rent cars (be sure to provide car rental info with your hotel and
airline details), but for those who don’t, you’ll have to figure out how they’ll get to and from the
wedding. Cover all the bases: organize a fleet of relatives that will act as chauffeurs, talk to the
hotel manager to arrange for a hotel shuttle, hire a car or limo service, or rent a few vans or a bus.

It’s also a kind gesture to have someone pick up nondrivers from the airport — especially if they’re
new to the area or get nervous traveling. Recruit volunteers for this: parents, next of kin, and
friends are likely targets. Put together a roster of arrival times, and have trekkers greeted at the
gate with signs bearing their names (be sure to let guests know you’ve arranged this, and clue them in
on who to look for).
Surprise Treats
Comfort the jet-lagged and travel-weary with a little something left in their hotel rooms. Imagine
their delight — walking into their temporary living quarters and discovering a basket of fresh fruit,
a bouquet of flowers, a tin of local chocolates, or a bottle of chilled bubbly. What you choose to give
depends on your resources, and can be as lavish as a free massage at the hotel spa or as simple as a
plate of homemade chocolate-chip cookies. The purpose is to let guests know you appreciate their effort
to join you for your special day.

Create welcome packets of relevant information (phone numbers of the families of the bride and groom,
the names of the other guests staying at the hotel, nearby hot spots to check out) to leave in guests’
rooms with another copy of your wedding itinerary, plus local brochures and sightseeing maps. Enlist
the aid of your wedding crew to assemble and distribute all these treats. Finally, add that finishing
touch and pen a personal note thanking each guest for coming to celebrate with you.

Evening Entertainment
Leading up to the main event, you may have plenty to fuss over, but out-of-town guests may not. Don’t
leave them in the lurch with nothing to do. If many guests are showing up the night before the
ceremony, suggest ways they can stay amused while you hold the rehearsal dinner. Ask a friend or
relative to host a gathering like a backyard barbecue or pizza party to help guests get to know one
another. Or arrange to have everyone meet together at a restaurant or bar. Better yet, create a more
casual rehearsal dinner, and open up the invite list to include everyone who might be around. For
guests who like to entertain themselves, be sure to supply a roster of your favorite restaurants,
shops, and local movie theaters as a thoughtful gesture.
Time In-Between
Though recommended, sometimes it’s not possible to have your reception immediately follow your
ceremony. If there will be a lengthy break between your “I dos” and the party, or your ceremony is late
in the day, try to come up with a game plan. During a lull, some people won’t mind going back to the
hotel and kicking back. But others may be interested in touring your stomping grounds. If guests will
have the morning free, suggest a game of golf or a visit to a museum. With lots of spare time between
the main events, you could organize an excursion, such as taking a group of guests to visit nearby
attractions or to see a movie.

Quality Time
Remember the reason that these intrepid travelers have come is to see you, so make sure they do. Pull
them aside amid all the revelry for some one-on-one attention, or make it a point to tell them at the
receiving line how much seeing them means to you. Raise your glass during toasting time to acknowledge
those who have come from afar, and consider setting up something special for journeyers, such as a
brunch the morning after the ceremony (if you aren’t already off to a magnificent honeymoon).

Wedding Guests: Reception Seating How-Tos


If you’re having 50 guests to a buffet, you may or may not want to give people specific seating
assignments. But if you’re having 100 guests or more and serving a seated meal, you’ll want to make
sure everyone’s got a specific place to sit. Why? For one, people like to know where they’re sitting —
and that you took the time to choose where and who they should sit with. It’s also helpful if you’re
serving several different entree choices, because the caterer and wait staff can figure out beforehand
how many chickens, filets, or veggie dishes a given table gets because they (you) know who’s sitting
there. Read on for tips on how to seat neatly.

The parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits everybody.

Start Early
We’ve been at kitchen tables the night before the wedding (or even wedding morning) with a bride and
groom just starting their seating chart. Don’t let this be you — you’ve got more important things to
think about at that point! Sure, it’s fine to make last-minute changes, but try to get the chart mostly
done at least a week before the big day.

Hit the Keys
Create a new spreadsheet. If you haven’t already, insert a column into your guest list document
categorizing all the invitees by relationship: bride’s friend; bride’s family; groom’s friend; groom’s
family; bride’s family friend; groom’s family friend. This way, you’ll be able to easily sort the list
and break it down into more logical table assortments. Now you’ll need to separate these lists into
distinct tables.
Create a Paper Trail
If you’re feeling more low-tech, draw circles (for tables) on a big sheet of paper and write names
inside them (make sure you know how many people can comfortably be seated at each). Or you could write
every guest’s name on a post-it to place accordingly.
Head Up the Head Table
A traditional head table is not round, but long and straight, and it is generally set up along a wall,
on risers, facing all the other reception tables. It may even have two tiers if your wedding party is
large. Usually the bride and groom sit smack-dab in the middle (where everyone can see them), with the
maid of honor next to the groom, the best man next to the bride, and then boy/girl out from there.

Flower girls or ring bearers usually sit at the tables where their parents are seating, much to the
relief of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Decide to seat this way, or plan a sweetheart table for a
little one-on-one time.

Switch Things Up
But you don’t have to do it that way. All the maids can sit on the bride’s side, all the groomsmen on
the groom’s. Or maybe you’re not into being on display, or you don’t want your wedding party to feel
isolated from other guests. Let your wedding party sit at a round reception table or two with each
other and/or with their dates/significant others, and have the head table be a sweetheart table for the
two of you. (How romantic!) Another option — you two sit with your parents and let that be the head
table, with the wedding party at their own tables.
Place Your Parents
Traditionally, your parents and your sweetie’s parents sit at the same table, along with grandparents,
siblings not in the wedding party, and the officiant and his/her spouse if they attend the reception.

But if your or your honey’s parents are divorced, and are uncomfortable about sitting next to each
other, you might want to let each set of parents host their own table of close family and/or friends .

This could mean up to four parents’ tables, depending on your situation — or have the divorced parent
who raised you (or your honey) and his/her spouse/date sit at the table with still-married parents.
(Phew, confusing!)

Remember, the parent-seating question is a flexible one. Set it up in whatever way best suits
everybody. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to talk to the parents in question about it before you make
your final decision.

Tame Tensions
There may also be situations in which certain family members just do not get along. Maybe they haven’t
spoken in years. Maybe the last time they saw each other there was a drunken catfight. Understandably,
you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Think about these kinds of relationships (or lack
thereof) before you even begin making your chart, so you can take them into consideration in the first
place and begin by seating Aunt Hattie at table 3 and Aunt Lucy across the room at table 15. Trust us
— they’ll appreciate it.
Play Matchmaker
Again, all your college or high-school friends will be psyched to sit at a table together — and
especially if you and your beloved went to the same school and have the same friends, this works out
well. It also gives them all an opportunity to catch up with each other, because they may not have seen
each other for a while. But again — reception tables offer a cool opportunity to mix and match your
friends and your honey’s — who knows who’ll hit it off?

Consider seating friends who don’t know each other (yet), but who you think will get along
exceptionally well, at the same table — and the rest is history. It can’t hurt!