Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hot Color Combos

For some choosing a color palette is instant but more often than not it’s one of the more difficult decisions brides are faced with. After all it’s your colors that pull your whole wedding together from start to finish. In choosing you need to ask yourself a few questions.

1. What color am I instantly drawn to?
2. Have I been to any weddings that inspired me?
3. What colors will work (or clash) with your chosen venue or vision?

Always think about the “big picture” in selecting your colors. With that said here are some hot color combo’s I’ve come across.

Red / Orange
A vivid scheme is the way to go with this all-star match up. These complementary shades are the ultimate pair for making your wedding bright and bold and can be used any time of the year.

Tip: Choose Mandarin Orange bridesmaid dresses and add a scarlet sash or Ruby Red dresses with a Clementine Orange bow.

For flowers - lilies, parrot tulips, roses

Chocolate / Green
Chocolate brown is a perennial favorite amongst brides but this year new colors are being teamed up with it like pale pink, mandarin orange or turquoise blue. Kelly Green is ideal for the chocolate green match or spice it up with Green Apple tones.

Tip: Go organic by mixing green grasses, woody branches and earthy blooms to create a modern look.

Yellow / White
This is the ideal way to set a golden theme at any time of the year. For a very cold weather wedding throw in a warm shade of gray. All other season options are endless!

Tip: For a fabulous summer touch serve lemon flavored ice.

For flowers: Sunflowers, cymbidium orchids, bright yellow roses.

Red / Aqua
Like classic crimson and navy but don’t want the nautical look? Get color creative and deviate from tradition. Periwinkle would look nice but why not choose a refreshing shade of aquamarine instead? Try throwing in a little scarlet for drama.

Tip: Dress your bridesmaids in turquoise and choose bright red blooms. Use modern turquoise ribbon on bouquets.

Black / White
Ultra chic for a formal evening affair or to formalize an afternoon wedding. Throw in some hot pink or rich marigold for a stunning effect.

Tips: Work the textures. If you are using any photos in your décor choose black and white ones.

What's New - Hello Dolly Line

Weddingstar has introduced there Hello Dolly line of gifts for 2009. The ever popular pink and black line of gardening and "Ladies" tools are sure to be a hit! My personal favorite is the hammer which I have already ordered for myself! Doesn't ever self respecting lady need a pink blingy hammer to hang things on the wall?

Crystal "Bling" encrusted hammer with pink details. Fashionably packaged in a little black box.

Hello Dolly - Multi-Purpose Tool Belt in Pink
This belt is a great accessory to your working outfit! A great belt that has 12 pockets of 5 varying sizes - you won't be caught without the spot for the right tool for the job. This is a gift for anyone - the gardener, fix-it queen, painter or artist. This belt is made with lightweight, hard wearing, water resistant fabric and reinforced stitching with rivets for extra durability. This belt also has a tape holder and two hammer loops.

Hello Dolly - Tape Measure in Gift Box
Pink and black measuring tape. Individually packaged in a little black box with pink ribbon.

Hello Dolly - Pink Canvas/Cotton Apron
This stylish, pretty in pink apron, makes a fabulous gift for any girl that loves to look great while at work!

Hello Dolly - Multi-Purpose Gloves in Pink
Pink, Black and Hot! These multi-purpose gloves are fashionable, comfortable and hardwearing. Made from spandex and leather they mould to your hand and are perfect for working on the house, in the garden and even for driving. With black leather palms they are also good at disguising any dirt and can also be thrown in the washing machine!

Hello Dolly - Multi- Tool in Pink
Small enough to keep it in your purse, desk drawer, house or car. The following tools are included: needle-nose pliers, straight knife, wire cutters, small screwdriver, phillips screwdriver, lanyard attachment, can/bottle opener, corkscrew with assist, scissors, saw, serrated knife and diamond file.

Hello Dolly - Hang-it-up Kit in Pink Wrap Pouch
This convenient case can be easily hung wherever duty calls. This is a great case to have in your car. The following items are included: measuring tape, hammer, 20-in-1 screwdriver, 3-in-1 level, plus an assortment of nails, screws, and picture hooks. All tools are stylish in black and pink. Case has black embroidery detail.

Hello Dolly - Gardening Set in Gift Box
Made from polished aluminum with soft pink ergonomic handles for easy use, these tools will perform where you need them so you can just look fabulous! The following tools are included: basic spade, basic fork, secateurs / pruning shears. Fashionably packaged in a little black box.

Hello Dolly - 30 Piece Tool Kit with Pink Case
Durably packaged in a stainless steel brief case for easy access and portability. The following items are included: 6" adjustable wrench, scissors, 6.5" blunt nose pliers, 3m measuring tape, utility knife, hammer, 20-in-1 screwdriver, 3-in-1 level, plus an assortment of nails, screws, and picture hooks. All tools are stylish in black and pink.

All are available at discount prices at Dreams to Reality Wedding Shop - plus free tickets to the next Great Bridal Expo in your area!

Contest Alert

The Brides Cafe is hosting the The Ultimate Wedding Giveaway for brides getting married in the Richmond, VA/Tidewater/DC/MD area between the months of April and December 2009. Visit them for full details!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

10 Tips to Glamorize Your Wedding

The best wedding planners have visions, just like any designer and can picture the whole event down to tiny details. If you’re a fan of My Fair Wedding you may have seen David helping the Irish bride who was thinking green. That’s a pretty common reaction, think Irish think green right? Not David, he thought Waterford! It’s that kind of thinking that turns a wedding into a memorable and glamorous one.

Here is a list of 10 things you do to kick your wedding up a notch.

1. Dress up the tables – This may seem odd to emphasize but table linens play a major role in shaping a room’s appearance. They offer some of the most prominent colors and textures at a wedding. For the most dramatic choose tablecloths in a shimmery fabric that reflect light. Chooses bronzes, silvers and other metallics for a special glow, the reflecting candlelight is amazing. Most venues have basic table linens; you can use overlays if your budget is limited and still make the space amazing.

2. Go for dramatic lighting – Everyone and everything looks more glamorous in low lighting. Use candles liberally and arrange for the venue to dim the lights to enhance the effect. If candles alone can provide enough light for your space that will create a truly unique and intimate ambience that will be unforgettable – what’s more romantic then a candle lit room? Use drip free candelabras, pillars, votives, and any other kind of candle you can imagine. Think of the candles as being part of your color palette.

3. Pump up your post vows look – A-list actresses, socialites and over the top brides have all been known to change into an entirely different gown for the reception. If 2 gowns are more than your budget can handle you can still make a show stopping 2nd entrance by altering your look for the reception. If you wear all white for your ceremony consider incorporating you wedding colors into your attire with a bright sash or even a special made underlay skirt for your dress in a matching color. Even changing accessories and hair adornments can greatly alter your appearance and create a memorable look.

4. Consider all white wedding attire – Black tie is the last word in traditional men’s formalwear, but you can set your groom and his men apart by dressing them in white jackets which is often done in elegant summer weddings. Something else that has been done and stood out was dressing your bridesmaid’s in white also. There’s a shade of white that flatters everyone and your all white attire will create a knockout effect in photos. If you want to make sure that you stand out add a colored sash to their dresses or put them in ivory and you where white or vice versa.

5. Nix the cookie cutter stationery – Utilizing stationery with boilerplate formality is a safe and traditional choice but it doesn’t offer any wow factor anymore. But be aware of the line between being creative and looking home spun. Subtly incorporate key elements of the event’s design scheme into the invitations and all your wedding stationery. Shop around and look at what’s available and think of how you can personalize it. Many different embellishments and other items are available now to further personalize, just don’t overdo it.

6. Try a tent – You see it everywhere now, celebrity wedding planners agree that a tented reception offers the most potential for a glam gathering. It’s a blank slate to start with so no worries about colors of the rug or wallpaper not matching your colors. Ceremonies in rented mansions with glamorous outdoor receptions are really hot right now. And another plus to it – look at what you save on transportation costs! This set up also gives you the opportunity for a cocktail hour before guests enter the tent.

7. Play sultry music – When you trying to set sophisticated mood music can present a dilemma. On one hand you want your guests to dance and have a great time but on the other hand seeing Great Uncle Wally get down to YMCA isn’t exactly the most romantic thought you’ve ever had. Although big bands are always a parent pleaser, a Latin American or Brazilian band is much sexier.

8. Keep the menu minimal – Rather than overwhelming your guests with a mass quantity of culinary options, go for a few high quality choices. Try to select a menu tailored to the season or the setting. For dessert pass on the fondue fountain in favor of rich, bite size chocolates and petit fours served at each table along side the cake.

9. Choose chic flowers – If glamour is your goal you might not want flower arrangements that look like they were casually picked out of a country meadow. Go for stylish structured centerpieces by “color blocking” with flowers. Picking colors close together in tone actually provides a more glamorous visual impact then contrast filled bouquets.

10. Make a grand exit – Newlyweds often skip a formal send off and dance until the lights come on. Or in the case of my own wedding my new husband loaded up all the left over alcohol and invited everyone back to our place to keep the party going! You’ll close on a more polished note if you buck that trend and leave before the guests do with a festive exit. Have your guests hold sparklers ask you whisk away in a chauffeured Rolls Royce or if you’re on water have a boat pick you up. An elaborate send off lends the party an enchanted and romantic aura. The ideas are endless for exiting in style.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

FREE Bridal Expo Tickets

Dreams to Reality Wedding Shop has teamed up with The Great Bridal Expo and WE TV to provide customers with free tickets to the next Great Bridal Expo in your area!

Anyone who places an order at Dreams to Reality Wedding Shop between now and December 5th will get 2 free tickets for admission. ($14.00 value)

Win BIG with the Great Bridal Expo! Every show features a "Super Sweepstakes" with prizes from every exhibitor. Just visit each booth for your chance to win!

Plus, a few lucky brides-to-be will take home grand prizes, including jewelry, airline tickets, and a dream honeymoon at Sandals, one of the Caribbeans most romantic all-inclusive resorts.

Tour Schedule:

2500 Calvert St NW
Washington, DC 20008

17th & Race Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103

101 W. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

10 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02111

1535 Broadway
New York, NY 10036


3300 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

1950 Eisenhower Blvd
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33316

333 S Franklin Street
Tampa, FL 33602

400 S E 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33131

1701 California Street
Denver, CO 80202

5440 North River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018

3/22/2009 12:00 NOON FAIRMONT DALLAS
1717 N Akard Street
Dallas, TX 75201

111 North Third Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

1800 Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010

6101 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

800 W Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA 92802

170 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 94103

1535 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

$10,000+ Prize Package Will Take Care of a Breast Cancer Survivor from Head to Toe on Her Wedding Day

Found on the ABC-OC

Say ‘I Do’ With a Big ‘Do Contest Presented by The Spiraled Stem Floral Design. An amazing dream package will be given away to 1 special bride that meets all the criteria. Full details at The Spiraled Stem

Applications will be accepted from November 1, 2008 at 8:00am PST to January 2, 2009 at 8:00pm PST.

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Contest Alerts

Inspired Occassions is giving away 16 Personalized Out of Town Welcome Bags to one lucky reader…the packs will include your own wedding colors, personalized with your monogram and wedding date on the front of the bag, as well as personalized water bottle labels, chocolate bars complete with custom wrappers, and brochures letting your guests know about upcoming wedding festivities and details. This prize is valued at over $100.00.

The contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S.A. and closes December 31, 2008 so be sure to get your entry in early. A winner will be selected by Inspired Occasions and announced by January 7, 2009.

To enter send an email to Be sure to write CONTEST in the subject line. Include your wedding date along with a brief description of you and your fiancé, your vision for your upcoming wedding day and why it’s important for you to welcome your guests in style.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Shower to match any bride!

Showers have come a long way since the old days of making sure the poor "lovebirds" started out with all the necessities they needed in their home. I've started out below with traditional ideas then went into some more modern shower alternatives.

A traditional shower is female only with just close friends and relatives in attendance. The party generally takes place at a relative’s home, whoever has the largest living room or garden. A party room may be rented if a larger area is needed. Tea time or lunch gatherings are common, with finger foods and light appetizers being served. Games are pretty standard with rowdy stories, strong cocktails, and naughty games being left out. Think tea, cake and grandmother friendly festivities.

Who is invited?
Mother of the bride and groom
Grandmothers of the bride and groom
Sisters of the bride and groom
Close aunts, cousins, and nieces
All female attendants
Close female friends of the bride
Close female friends of the groom
The bride and groom’s father might be invited depending on the bride’s preference. Traditional bridal showers often extended invitations to fathers so they didn’t feel left out and they would usually make a brief appearance then gracefully bow out early.


This is the “naughty” version of the traditional female only shower. Guests are asked to bring gifts of lingerie and accessories (think massage oils) that the bride can wear or use on her wedding night and honeymoon. This version is sometimes called a fantasia or fantasy party and is almost always much more comfortable if the “boys” are excluded!

The lingerie theme usually carries over to creatively shaped cakes, eye popping decorations, crude jokes and a lot of laughs shared amongst friends. And don’t think the older crowd can’t have fun too – they have years of experience to draw from!

These showers focus more on hands-on fun rather then a mountain of gifts. Below are some popular outing for the girls. Since activity showers are so expensive the host typically requests in the invitation that each guest pay for their own participation plus a little extra to cover the bride and a gift. Any food or drinks are generally covered by the bridal party or whoever is hosting the shower.

Some ideas for this type of shower:

*Dance Lessons: Hire a coach to teach a few moves in salsa, jazz, tap, ballroom or belly dancing. Pole dancing has also become huge lately for female get togethers as well as working out. An added bonus in this is watching everyone break out into their new moves during the wedding reception! Excluding the pole dancing we hope!

*Cooking Lessons: Hire a local chef to teach everyone how to make a tasty dish, or visit a local culinary school and take a group lesson. Afterwards everyone can site down and enjoy the food they've prepared! I have a friend who did this, she found a local chef to come to her home and we really had a blast. Go to Hire a Chef to find a local one.

*Bartending School: hire a professional bartender to teach guests how to mix signature cocktails. Of course everyone gets to try them and who knows - you may invent a signature drink for the wedding since signature drinks are definitely IN !!

*Spa Outing: Gather all the girls for an afternoon of pampering at the local spa. To keep costs reasonable book smaller treatments such as manicures and pedicures. The extra money collected is usually used to cover the cost for the bride and the leftover is used to purchase a gift certificate for a couples visit after the wedding - typically a massage.

*Psychic Readings: Another one I've done personally and highly recommend. It is very entertaining at the least and makes for great conversation afterwards! The reader can predict what sort of love-filled adventures is in store for all the guests or any other options your own reader comes up with.

**Wine Tasting: hire a local sommelier (wine connoisseur) and have each guest bring a regional wine as their shower gift. Provide cheese, crackers, grapes and strawberries and then crack open the bottles and try each vintage!
Locate a professional by calling local wine bars and asking for recommendations.
Or, contact a sommelier from a favorite restaurant whose advice you trust.
If your first choice isn't available, they likely know someone who might be right for the job.


Couple’s showers are a great option and more common now. Co-ed showers, often called “Jack and Jill” parties, give the groom a chance to receive male friendly gifts. He’s getting married too after all!

A coed shower is often more relaxed than a traditional one and often take the form of a backyard barbecue or a happy hour gathering with cocktails. The main purpose of the party is to shower the couple with gifts, but the focus is on the couple instead of just the bride.

Jack and Jill’s are commonly held at a friend’s home, a bar, a trendy club or restaurant. They offer a great chance for everyone to socialize and get to know each other before the wedding. The games played are generally very interactive and tend to pit the girls against the guys. It is best to keep the sexual overtones to a minimum at this type of gathering.

Avoid surprising people that are expecting a more traditional shower by indicating on the invitation that this is a co-ed shower. When they come prepared it will make for a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.

The guest list is exactly the same as the traditional shower except add male friends and relatives as well. A co-ed shower ends up larger than a traditional shower so the cost is usually shared amongst all wedding party members.

Prepare for your speech!

OK - after spending all week sorting through my own speech notes and talking to public speakers I know here's what I have for you in short form (long form ahead)

Clearly you want to wow your audience and have them laughing in the right places for the right reasons. To achieve this it is vital that you prepare carefully.
Professional public speakers are like experienced drivers: the skills needed have become automatic to them. They are successful because they use the three P's of public speaking:
1. Preparation
2. Practice
3. Performance
Even vastly experienced public speakers who appear to be speaking off the cuff generally prepare in advance:

There is a lot to say about the preparation stage. It is the part that requires the most work and which the audience never sees. It is like the foundations of a building.
A building will crumble, or at least subside if the foundations and lower levels are not soundly built. It will look decidedly odd.
Without thorough preparation and good material it is hard to deliver a good speech even if you practice until you are blue in the face. This is why at this site we give you guidance on how to practice and perform your speech, and offer you the 'Wedding Speech Package' and a choice of extra material for your preparation.
Decide how to prepare your material

Either make up your own, or use one of our ready-to-use speeches "as is" with only names changed.
• This is a simple and quick option. You will have a quality speech, available rapidly; particularly useful if you have been approached for a speech with little notice.
Or adapt a ready-to-use speech (this gives the chance to make it specific and relevant to the wedding couple and guests):
• Mix and match from several example speeches
• Add and subtract jokes or quotations
• Pay attention to the 'flow' and 'feel' of the speech.

Length of speech
Too short may seem rude, too long may be boring. Five minutes is a good rule of thumb (and will probably feel like a long time).
If you have an exceptional speech and prepare to deliver it really well, you might choose to stretch to 10 minutes.
However, bear in mind that if the other speakers did the same then the guests would be listening for 30 - 40 minutes, and if some of them are children you may encounter some unexpected 'heckling' as the children get bored - even if the parents are laughing.

A great subject
You only need one excellent idea to make the speech successful and memorable. To be of this caliber an idea needs to:
• Be well suited to the humor tastes of the majority of the audience
• Be in some way relevant to the generally known history of the wedding couple or their families
• Grab the attention of the guests and involve them so they 'anticipate' the story outcome or punch line. (They don't have to guess right for this to work; they just have to be guessing).
The point is, if you find such a good idea, make the most of it. Don't feel a need to swamp it with other stories or jokes. You may find it possible to refer to the basic idea at several points in the speech. Audiences love this.
Don't worry if you don't find such an idea. Instead use a combination of ideas, stories, jokes and quotations and meld them together to achieve a similar end.

Gather Information
Unless you intend to stick strictly to a pre written speech you will probably want to gather some information about the families and their histories.
Possible useful subjects might include:
• The weddings and marriage of the parents - how times have changed?
• Are the families both local, or have they come from different regions or countries?
• Marriage customs may differ between the families?
• Where did the bride / groom grow up?
• How did the bride / groom meet?
• Have they had any unusual / special experiences?
• Did they meet the Queen / President / someone famous?
• Did/Do they travel extensively?
• Have they received any awards or medals?
o Sporting achievements?
o Academic achievements?
• Do they have any famous ancestors?
• Do they have any interesting hobbies?
The anecdote does not have to be fantastically funny, because it benefits from being relevant to the families.
If in doubt, leave it out!
• Avoid anything in dubious taste! The point of the speech is to entertain rather than to shock or offend.
• Avoid stereotypes.
• Avoid negatives, regrets or criticisms. Anything that may make the couple or the families appear foolish automatically makes you look foolish for raising the subject - even if you thought it was funny, some guests won't. Trust me on this.
• Avoid rude jokes or sexual innuendos unless you are VERY sure of all the guests and their sense of what is funny. Even then some guests may have children present and the parents may disapprove even if they found the joke funny.
• Get someone to check your speech for unintentional double meanings and puns.
Work out your structure

Prune your notes and arrange them in order.
Make sure that you have included all the essentials - the thank-yous and the toast!
Get your material checked out
Did you know Uncle Silvester, for example, was an accountant? So avoid accountant jokes, or perhaps go the other way and make lots of them.
This may be particularly effective (or disastrous) if there are several accountants among the guests, or if the bride / groom is an accountant.
The point is ... find out days before giving the speech, this is particularly important for the best man who may not know the families well.
Avoid unwitting references to family skeletons - check with the "in-laws" as the bride / groom may not know of the previous generation's skeletons.
• A good friend will tell you if it is really as funny as you think.
• A bad friend will tell you its funny when it's not!

Speaker's Notes

Benefits of different sizes of speaker's notes:
• An A5 card will be less distracting than a big sheet of A4 paper flapping about.
• You may prefer to use the smaller postcard sized "box-file" cards which can be mostly hidden in the palm of your hand, but you will need more of them, and it is harder to keep your place as you give the speech.
We recommend that you get hold of some white A4 card from a stationer's. Cut the cards across the middle to create a set of A5 cards.
During the design and initial stages of practicing you may alter the wording and content several times. It may be useful to use your computer to alter the speech and put in 'headings' etc. using A4 paper. Then when the speech content is really settled, transfer the words in large letters to the A5 cards.

Note Tips
• Don't try to cram the speech onto as few cards as possible! You'll never be able to read it.
• Feel free to abbreviate if it means you get a convenient section on one card.
• Number the cards in case you drop them. Alternatively, punch holes in them and connect them with a tag or key ring.
• Highlight, emphasize and underline key words and phrases. Do this while you are practicing.
Once you are satisfied with your delivery during practice, you may find it useful to put 'headings' in suitable places. Make these large and bold. It is then easier to find your place if you do need to refer to the cards, and easier to spot the next subject.

"On-site" preparations

Check your transport arrangements - do you know the way there? And will you have a parking space booked? Have you allowed for the possibility of the train being late (ask yourself "what if" questions).
• Check out the venue beforehand if possible - where will you sit, where will you speak from, etc.
• Check any equipment - microphone? Lectern? Autocue!!?
• Check you have a glass of water to hand (and where is the toilet?!!).

Make sure that you can tell the jokes!
If you find something funny it can sometimes be difficult to tell it to other people without ending up in a fit of giggles. This is amusing for the guests but does rather spoil the punch line. You may have an excellent joke or story but are forever stumbling over the punch line. To get over this problem:-
• Rehearse the joke out loud until it no longer makes you laugh.
• Rehearse it in front of a mirror, until you can get all the words out smoothly.
Remember you might find a joke funny which others do not. If in doubt, check with friends.

Practice as many times as necessary to get the phrasing, the pauses, the timing exactly right.
One speaker recommends you should practice an hour in total for every minute in the speech. So for a four minute speech, four hours practicing. This is not excessive.
Speak the speech - don't read it in a dull monotone. Speak it as if you are talking in conversation. Modulate your voice up and down. The larger the audience, the greater the modulation needed.

How to "visualize"
How many people will you be speaking to at the reception? Bear this in mind and visualize them - imagine yourself projecting your voice and 'presence' to the back. If you visualize them you will be less likely to get stage fright on the Big Day, when looking at a sea of expectant faces.
• Imagine yourself speaking clearly, don't rush it.
• In your mind's eye see the audience - make eye contact with them and move your gaze around the room as you should try to on the day itself for optimum effect.
Visualization is a great tool for any learned skill, including public speaking.

Eye contact
Try not to have your eyes glued to your card. Read a phrase, look up and make eye contact, deliver it, look down for the next phrase. If you make a point of establishing eye contact with a different section of the audience each time, by the end of the speech you will have looked at and included everyone.
Practice your imaginary eye contact.

Visualize how you will effortlessly recover from any little problems that might occur on the day:
• You spill your glass of water - possible recovery => step back from the spill, cover it with your napkin, apologize to the person sitting next to you and ask for their help, turn back to guests and continue ... e.g. "well I knew I had to do something dramatic to get started".
• The microphone is broken => you project your voice magnificently.
• You lose your voice the day before => now this is a difficult one! Have you got your speech completely written out (or typed) with headings and highlights? - then perhaps someone else can stand in for you, preferably after some hoarsely whispered guidance on the rhythm and timing which you had planned.
• What would I say/do if ? ....... (what else could go wrong?)
• If you consider all the options, nothing will faze you on the day.

Practicing - and the reduction of stage fright
There are techniques you can use if you feel assaulted by stage fright on the day (see "Performance"). You can also plan for the possibility of stage fright, and take action in advance to prevent or reduce it. It need not overwhelm.
Remember that most public performers will say that some level of nerves is necessary as it demonstrates that you really care about the quality of your performance and its effect on your audience.
• Start by re-defining stage fright as being 'keyed-up and alert, ready to give of your best'. This is not quite so 'punchy', not such a good 'sound bite', but it is a more helpful way of looking at things. Make 'stage-fright' work for you! That way it doesn't seem so frightening.
• Even after effective practice you can still expect to have butterflies, but you should find that once you start speaking on the day they will fly in formation.
• If you can stand the fear, practice in front of a friend (this is an excellent dry run because it is often more frightening than the real thing). Choose someone who is an encourager by nature and ask them to give constructive advice on your delivery, projection etc. If you do this it will help you enormously in getting over your inhibitions.
• Try recording yourself onto a tape. You will hear your weak points and your strong points. Do this a few times, work on the weaker areas and you will hear a steady improvement. Check your modulation, does it need greater emphasis?
• As you rehearse your speech - Visualize the event, visualize how the reception will go, visualize yourself speaking, and most importantly visualize the guests laughing at your jokes - and give them long enough to laugh after each joke before continuing.
If you are afraid of stage fright on the day, visualize now! Visualize suddenly getting tongue tied, and then pausing, gathering your thoughts looking at the guests, smiling at them and continuing onwards.

Persistent Practice Prevents Poor Performance

A few notes on alcohol
Some speakers unfortunately try to get over their stage fright by drinking alcohol. Nothing is more embarrassing to an audience than a tipsy speaker. It is amazing how silly a drunken speaker sounds. By all means have one drink, but if you really want to do a good job, save the majority of the drinking until afterwards - by then people will be buying them for you!
It's also a good idea to lay off tea and coffee. Caffeine will make your jitters worse. Stick to soda water, mineral water or fruit juice, but not too much because you do not want to be caught short during your speech. Did you remember the location of the toilet?

Stage fright first aid
On the day you will probably experience a certain amount of stage fright ("keyed up readiness - remember?"). Don't be afraid of it - no actor / comedian / speaker ever delivered a successful performance without a measure of fear.
However, stage fright can have unfortunate side effects - sweating, shaking, heart beating furiously, etc. There are steps you can take to minimize these effects before you speak, namely:
Find the time to take long deep breaths - breathe right in, deep into your belly; slowly breathe out. Do it repeatedly. It works.
• Breathe in for four counts.
• Hold your breath and tense your toes for four counts.
• Breathe out for four counts.
• You should feel tension easing.
• Repeat with feet, ankles, calves, knees etc., right up your body to your neck, chin, lips, eyelids, forehead and scalp.
• You should be able to sneak this in without anyone noticing while sitting at the table.
• If you have the time, repeat these exercises as necessary.
When all is said and done, even if you have practiced endlessly and got your delivery perfect, on the day you will probably feel nervous to some degree. In your nervousness you might imagine that you're shaking like a leaf and everyone can see quite plainly that you're scared stiff.
Consider these points:-
• The audience are on your side - most of them would be scared stiff themselves. They're with you, not against you.
• If you don't transcribe your speech onto cards and you do shake while holding a piece of A4 paper, the shakes will be amplified by your speech flapping around like a windsock. See "Preparation".
• In practice almost every speaker is far more nervous than they look. You might feel nervous, but if you practice, prepare and deliver according to these guidelines, people will in all probability come up to you afterwards and say what a good job you've done.
• Get your audience to laugh with you - an excellent way to defuse your own tension and nerves.
• BE CONFIDENT. You have prepared everything that could possibly be prepared for this moment.
• You have practiced a lot, your cards are in your hand, highlighted and underlined. You can have done no more. Be confident in that. The audience wants you to do well and will not be critical. Remember that and be confident in that as well.
• STAND UP. Wait for complete silence - don't be afraid of silences and pauses, they can be as eloquent as words. Don't hurtle into the speech to get it over with as quickly as possible.
• Establish eye contact with the audience. Look around at every section of the audience. Remember your visualization? Put it into practice now.
• Weigh your phrases, don't rush them. Really use your pauses. After a punch line, wait for them to jolly well laugh and don't start again until they have stopped laughing.
• Should they not laugh at a joke, it's not the end of the world. Some lines are intended mostly as links and aren't necessarily meant to be riotously funny. Move on to the next line and whatever you do don't accelerate through the speech just because they didn't laugh at one point where you thought they would.
• Remain measured, using your pauses to allow the audience to digest your words, get to the end, propose whichever toast is yours to toast, and sit down to take your applause.

Concluding Thoughts
A quick note for the Best Man: don't read all the greeting cards the Bride and Groom have received.
A lot of people dread the Best Man's speech because so many Best Men spend absolutely ages at the end of their speech endlessly droning through a stack of cards which all say much the same thing. By all means read two or three of them, perhaps ones specially chosen by the Bride and Groom.
You should by now be armed with everything you need - give it all you've got!
Good luck and best wishes for a successful day.

PS: Did I mention...
Persistent Practice Prevents Poor Performance

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Favor buying tips

Favor Buying 101
Tips to Buying the Right Favors
Whether you're hosting a casual wedding of 50 people, an 8-person beachside luau, or an elegant affair of 300+ black tie guests, we can help you find the right reception favors.

Follow these simple rules and your guests will be delighted:


A favor is a keepsake to commemorate your day. Make sure it's really something people will associate with you. Personalize it! If you're not opting for personalized favors, you should be sure people won't be asking, "Whose wedding did we get this at?" three years down the road. Personalized wedding favors are in vogue today. Popular wedding favors are candy and chocolates, bath salts and soap, photo albums, picture frames, drink coasters, candles, wine glasses, shot glasses, and place card holders. Almost everybody loves chocolates and chocolate wedding favors are prized wedding favors for the guests who attend this auspicious occasion.

As a couple, or individually, people surely associate you with a certain style, hobby or other interest. Think about what those things might be, Poll friends and family about what makes them think of you. You want a wedding favor that will align with your personality AND your soul.
Idea: Met online? Give a personalized mouse pad or keyboard magnet.


Create a favor budget and stick to it! It's fun looking at all of the choices, but be careful. It's not hard for your favor purchase to quickly turn into $1000.00 if you're caught up in what's trendy or "cute," and not what's realistic. However - on the flip side - don't be too stuck on saving a buck, either. The rule of thumb is that if the favor costs under $1.00, it likely LOOKS like it cost under $1.00. Guests will be able to check up on you if you opt for cookie-cutter-made-in-china favors that are all over the Internet.

If you spend too little, you may hear negative rumblings instead of seeing appreciative smiles. If you spend too much, you'll probably have to adjust your budget elsewhere and skimp on another area of importance - like the guest book or the ring pillow. Be realistic when setting your budget - in the way of what you can afford, AND what "decent" favors typically cost.


There's nothing more pleasing to guests and the bridal party, than seeing a theme throughout a ceremony and reception. It shows that you put time AND thought into the "little details."

Hosting a beach luau reception after seaside vows? Stick with favors that match - AND match your decorations and tableware. Hosting a formal Italian affair after a big Catholic Ceremony? Choose Italian-imported favors set on a favor table rather than at each place setting. Hosting a black-tie affair? You wouldn't give just Jordan Almonds wrapped in tulle! Opt for crystal favors.

The themes are limitless!


We love them, but this is YOUR day. It's often very easy for a guest to tell that your "mother must have picked those." How impersonal! You can ask for opinions, but be sure the choice is FULLY yours. Don't settle just to avoid a dispute.


Pick favors that your guests can and will use. They CAN be practical AND beautiful. Be sure the favors you select will be widely received - meaning, they're not just something YOU like but will get tossed in the trash as people walk out the door. Pick something that you think EVERYONE at your wedding will enjoy. Some practical favor examples are themed cookie cutters, vases, crystal candy dishes, kitchen timers, photo holders (place card holders,) coffee scoops, or even olive oil bottles.


Be aware of trends, but don't be too stuck in them. For instance, "going green" is IN, and opting for plantable seed favors or bio-degradable favor boxes is a great idea. But don't SHOUT OUT that you went green. And don't overkill.


It may cost you a few extra dollars, but they're well worth it. You never know when you might need extras - in case of breakage during shipping, discoloration, ink or foil problems, or last-minute-YES-replies. Plus - don't forget to get a few extra for yourself! You'll definitely want a keepsake or two from the most important day of your life.

These are just SOME of the many things to consider when buying your wedding reception favors. We hope this helps and that your event is even more beautiful than you've imagined it!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Choosing gifts for the wedding party

This article deals with the solutions of picking the proper gifts for the bridesmaids and ushers in your wedding party.

The day of your wedding is a very special day. Many people help to make it even more special to the bride and groom. Generally, they'll be a rehearsal dinner prior to the wedding. A gift for the ushers and bridesmaids can be given out at that time. This is a way to say "thank you" to them for helping to make your day wonderful. There are lots and lots of choices for gifts. Something that can be personalized is the best choice. It shows you went to the extra trouble of engraving or monogramming and that the gift was really chosen just for that person. There are many gifts to choose from and they are available in every price range. If your wedding is out of town, you will want to choose something that can easily be packed in your lightweight luggage. To begin with, choose the price range you'd like to stay within. Then you can look at the many choices. Some popular items for the ushers are key rings, money clips, wallets, and pens. Cigar items and flasks have been and will always be popular. For the executive types, there are clocks, and desk style pieces. Leather pad holders are also popular and come in an array of different leathers and price ranges.

Because travel is so popular today, there are gifts that stay with that theme. You can choose among many engravable or personalized travel accessories. For the ushers there are leather shave kits, leather grooming cases, or travel duffels. All of these items may be individually personalized with their initials. Another popular choice today is men's watchcases or valets. Valets will hold their change, keys, cell phones, etc., in one place and protect dressers and other surfaces from scratching. There are also the recharging valets that will hold everything while charging your cell phone, ipod, etc. This is a new item that has become extremely well received for ushers. Poker chips has also gained in popularity along with the many different games of poker being played nationally. These can be individually monogrammed on each chip, or the case can be monogrammed with the individual's initials or name.

There's an equally large selection for the bridesmaids. Jewelry boxes are one of the most popular gifts for the women. Jewelry is also popular and it is often given with a trinket box that is monogrammed with the name or initials of the recipient. Many of the same items that are given for the ushers can be given for bridesmaids. Pens, key chains and wallets are popular with women as well as men. Leather jewel rolls for travel are also popular. These gifts last a lifetime, and the occasion can always be remembered fondly. Some of these items, which have been popular as corporate gifts, will work equally as well as wedding attendant gifts. Women, as well as men, also appreciate some of the newer travel alarm clocks made by companies such as Movado. These gifts are elegant as well as practical.

You do not want to leave out the junior ushers and junior bridesmaids. There’s also a ring bearer, flower girl and any speakers who will come up to the podium and say a few words, or a prayer or special poem. A small thank you that is personalized will go a long way to saying your appreciation. Don’t forget the parents of the bride and groom. They have contributed to the success of the party and would love a picture frame or clock engraved with a “thank you” and signed from the new Mr. And Mrs. Last, but not least, do not forget each other. While purchasing for your wedding party it’s nice to remember the main participants – the bride and groom.

In closing I’d like to add that if you don’t choose something personalized try to purchase something different for each person, that too will show you took the time in selecting their gift.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your speech or toast - Creating original humor

Original humor is a must for any memorable wedding speech or toast. My friend Bruno from Fine Wedding Speeches gave me permission to reprint this guide for creating it.

Not every wedding speech is filled with puns and one-liners; many speeches succeed by virtue of their sincerity alone.

However everyone at a wedding appreciates a little appropriate light relief, which is why you will find many jokes (as well as sincerity) in your speech package. Each of these speeches will work as-is (except for name changes), but there is nothing at all to be lost in having a go at creating your own original humour to personalise your speech a little.

My schedule for forthcoming articles is as follows:

double meanings (puns)
the rule of three
the creation and use of witty anagrams, plus how to use history to enhance your speech
using rhyme and acronyms
using lateral thinking to search for joke ideas
using mind mapping to generate humour.
I'd like to enlarge just a little on these subjects to whet your appetite prior to a fuller treatment later.

a) Double meanings
- i.e. a play on words. Here is one example:

He's a light eater - as soon as it gets light, he starts eating.

As you can see, this joke uses two alternative meanings of the word light.

b) The Rule of Three
A series of three statements or revelations; the first and second might not be funny, but the third is, and being in a series of 3 magnifies and intensifies the humour value.

I said to James once that you couldn't know whether someone was truly your lifetime sweetheart until you had broken wind in front of them, to gauge their reaction. James went ahead and tried it. Jane didn't mind, but her parents were disgusted. And the vicar was appalled… and so was everyone else at the funeral.

OK, perhaps it's not suitable for a wedding, but you get the idea.

c) Anagrams and history
I will show you a source of anagrams on the internet and give you ideas how to use them.

d) Rhyme and acronyms
I will show you how these can be used to great effect, particularly when directly relevant to the Bride and Groom.

e) Lateral thinking
A very powerful tool which unlocks the creative potential of the mind, and how to use it to create humorous material.

f) Mind mapping
Another mind-blowing thinking tool and how it can be used in conjunction with all the above to open up your mind and produce joke ideas.

And that's all for this month

Bruno Barton

To read more Bruno's full article on each subject visit Fine Wedding Speeches.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Dreaded Wedding Speech

In this article I am going to offer a little advice from seeing literally hundreds of wedding speeches over the years. But giving advice is often regarded as a bit overbearing.
Oscar Wilde, a proficient and experienced advice giver, said: "I never give a woman advice. In fact one should never give her anything she can't wear in the evening."
And now a howler from a child's exam paper: "Socrates was a great Greek teacher. He went around giving people advice. They killed him."
Despite the possible perils of following in Socrates' footsteps, I still feel inclined to throw in my two cents worth.
Why Plan?
Some people do ask themselves the question: "Why should I plan my wedding speech?" But some people don't even consider planning until it's too late. Which group would you rather be in?
You may have heard the saying, "Failing to plan is like planning to fail". A truer word has never been said.
You might feel able to "wing it", or you might feel that planning a speech is easy and quick. I have had a staggering number of grooms call me over the years, a week and less before the wedding, who have suddenly realized that they have no idea what to say or how to say it.
Planning a speech is not generally something quick and easy unless you are an expert or have access to one.
When deciding if you are going to plan in advance, consider the following issues:-
1. People do remember the speeches. Even if they don't remember the words used, they will remember if the speeches were good or bad.
2. One very potent reason for planning is that the majority of weddings these days are videoed, and who wants their failures to be immortalized on film? I am reminded of the Irish wedding where the father of the bride's wallet was stolen at the reception. The mystery was solved when the video was processed: the best man was seen nicking it. Obviously things like this won't happen to any honest and conscientious best man, but there is a lesson there to be learned: your performance may be around to haunt you or to support your self esteem for years to come.
3. Get the right sort of help. You wouldn't take on a plumber to fix your TV, or a mechanic to fit a carpet. So if you need help and advice on making a public speech, it must make sense to turn to a professional public speaker. If you can’t afford to pay for professional help think about who you know that has experience in public speaking or someone who gave a speech that you liked.
4. Planning the speeches should be part of planning the wedding. People plan and budget for every aspect of the wedding: the church, the organ, the reception venue, the food, champagne and flowers. Every aspect, that is, apart from the speeches. Often completely inexperienced men (and women) are thrown in front of an audience who are hoping against hope to be interested and entertained. Very often though they are bored, unable to hear or, worst of all, acutely embarrassed, perhaps by the speaker's material or perhaps by a speaker humiliating himself by lack of preparation.
It is a fact that there are a number of pitfalls lying in wait for the wedding speaker, like snakes in the grass, each with their own collection of snakebites. Mostly they arise from the rattlesnake of lack of knowledge:
· Snakebite 1: What must I include?
· Snakebite 2: How do I say it?
· Snakebite 3: When do I say it?
· Snakebite 4: How long should I speak for?
· Snakebite 5: What else do I have to do?
· Snakebite 6: How formal / informal should I be?
Of course one of the most deadly snakes is the wriggling, slithering anaconda of speech content. Among its snakebites are:
· Snakebite 7: Is it interesting?
· Snakebite 8: Is it snappy?
· Snakebite 9: Is it light, without being too frivolous?
· Snakebite 10: Is it clean?
· Snakebite 11: Is it appropriate?

I have a lot of notes and information on speeches that I’ve collected over the years, I’ll get them in order and typed up for a later blog.
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Spring 2009 Weddings

If you're throwing a Spring 2009 wedding event - or are planning on attending one - learning about the season's top wedding trends can make the event even more unforgettable. Wedding trends for Spring 2009 capture some of the season's fresh designer trends from the runways, and the year calls for a mix of classic styles and modern designs.
From Grecian-inspired gowns for the bride to flapper dresses for the bridesmaids, here are some of the best Spring 2009 wedding trends to plan for:
Wedding Trend for Spring 2009: Black Flowers and Accessories
Black wedding dresses were a top trend in 2007, and black reigns on with black accessories for 2009. Pick up black roses or rosettes, black table linens and black and white color combinations for a sophisticated and modern look. Our white Love Theme Toasting flutes would be an excellent choice with this them, and they're a great value too!
Wedding Trend for Spring 2009: Pink Flapper Dresses
Pink is a top choice for color this Spring 2009, so deck out the bridesmaids in classic, pastel or shocking pink for a modern twist to basic cream and white. Flapper-inspired dresses with their fitted, mid-calf length style get a fresh look in innocent pink. Add our Pink Pearl or Hot Pink Daisy Hair Spirals for a truly stunning look!
Wedding Trend for Spring 2009: Red-Trimmed Wedding Gowns
Red is a bold and vibrant addition to the usual pastels and classic white ensembles for Spring weddings, and you'll find it trimming wedding gowns and bridesemaid dresses this season. The red and white combination adds a twist of modern romance to any Spring wedding. Browse our Guest Books to find that perfect match!
Wedding Trend for Spring 2009: The Mini Wedding Dress
Super-short wedding dresses are a fresh trend for Spring 2009, giving you every excuse to show off those legs this season. Pair this look with ankle-tied sandals and a fabulous rhinestone headband or comb for a chic, dramatic look this wedding season.
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The Guest List

Making the guest list is easy right? All you need to do is write down the names of all your closest friends and relatives and thats it! NOT - if it is that simple for you count your blessings now. For the rest of us here is some advice on how to handle the what can be "tricky" situations with who we invite to our wedding.

1st of all consider the style of your wedding - if you want an intimate garden wedding it wouldn't be practical to invite 250 guests. Alternatively if your wedding is in a grand ballroom 50 guests would look pretty sparse.

OK, now lets get started making that list.
**Both of you make a list of your immediate family members and the attendants on your side of the wedding party. (Yes, always send an invitation to the attendants). Next will be the officiant and his/her spouse. (Including the officiant is not a must if you simply can't squeeze anyone else in but if you can the gesture will certainly be appreciated.)
**Now add your mutual friends to the list.
**Next comes your work colleagues, children, significant others and any other optional guests.
**This part is very important, you should have a "wish list" of guests they would like to see at the wedding from mom and dad on both sides. This is where it can get sticky - if mom and dad are helping to pay for any of the wedding it's not appropriate to accept their money but refuse their input on the guest list. If they are not and you can't afford to have all those distant relatives or their freinds you've never met simply tell them you would love to have them but simply can't afford it. They will do one of two things.. Happily offer to help pay for additional guests or pare it down realizing they don't feel as strongly as thought about inviting them.

Also the guest list does not have to be split even between the bride and groom. Very seldom do 2 people get married that have the exact same size family. And it really doesn't matter who has more guests, what matters is you are both surrounded by the people you love and want to share this truly special day with.Now it's time to review it and make adjustments as needed. Is your list bigger than you thought it would be? Who knew we had so many friends and relatives lol.

The excitement of doing our guest list sometimes gets the better of us and we feel far friendlier towards old college pals and people we haven't thought about in a long time. So here are some guidelines for cutting back on the list...

1. It should go without saying that all members of the wedding party should be on the list and should all receive and invitation. Traditional wedding etiquette also states that members of the wedding party should be allowed to bring a spouse or significant other. If your budget is really really tight you can bypass it but I would keep it in mind in case you have room after editing the list. (But make sure there is room for all to bring a guest or none)
2. All immediate family members should be on this list.
3. Anyone that attended the wedding shower should be included.
4. When making cuts be sure its categorical (Example: If second cousins aren't being invited then all second cousins should be omitted) Cuts should be treated equally to avoid hard feelings.

An option you may consider is to have an A list and a B list. To do this though invitations need to be sent out early enough that RSVP's can be returned and you still have enough time to send out invitations to you B list.
Beware - you probably don't want your B list guests to find out they are B list guests. This can lead to hurt feelings and declines.

One last note - don't forget to add the bride and groom to the list in the final headcount! You would be surprised how many couples forget to add 2 more people when dealing with vendors - themselves!

Wedding Speech or toast

Making a wedding speech can be a very stressful event for those asked to make one. Delivering the perfect wedding speech is a challenging responsibility but an important one.
A dilemma commonly faced by a wedding speeches and wedding toast giver is whether to crack jokes or to keep the speech safe and serious. In order to deliver a good speech, one must decide on the topic that they wish to talk about and then prepare in advance for it. Remember, your speech must be able to capture and keep the interest of the wedding guests at all times.
Generally, the order of wedding speeches is as follows: giver-away of the bride, the groom and then the groomsman. In the giver-away of the bride speech, the father will talk about the bride, praise her, and tell stories of her childhood. He will also welcome the groom to the family, welcome the guests to the wedding, and purpose a toast.
Many wedding speeches made by the groom will mention his new mother-in-law and he may extend his thanks for a job well done in bringing up her daughter. Generally the groom's speech will be made on behalf of his new wife including himself. If he knows what is good for him he will praise her to the highest!
Next, in the groom's speech he should thank the bridesmaids for performing their duties. It then falls to the groomsman to reply on behalf of the bridesmaid in his speech. The groomsman's speech is usually directed at the groom, and is carried out in a funny and light-hearted way.
Wedding speeches and wedding toasts are completely different in nature. A wedding toast is not of the same duration as a wedding speech and is usually delivered by the groomsman. The groomsman will only have to say a few short words. The right time to give a toast depends on the wedding traditions and etiquette since it varies based on whether the wedding is a very formal or informal occasion.
An example of a wedding toast is the champagne toast when the bubbly is popped and all the guests have been served with the champagne. If the groomsman has something to say then he will have his say, raise his glass and drink to the toast. The toast must be kept short yet substantial.
Irish wedding toasts are becoming more popular. An example of a great Irish wedding toast is: "May the light of friendship guide your paths together, may the laughter of children grace the halls of your home, and may the joy of living for one another trip a smile from your lips, a twinkle from your eye."
There are services now that will write a custom speech for you. Our favorite is Fine Speeches. They have all positive reviews and also provide free help.
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Should you hire a wedding planner?

in one word - YESSSSSSSSS. There is a myth floating around that has people believing that all Wedding Planners are not affordable for working-class individuals. A long time ago, only the elite society knew of and had access to Wedding Planners.
Today, Wedding Planners are very common and are hired by celebrities as well as everyday working people. Naturally, Wedding Planners that work with the rich and famous can and do charge through the nose for their services because the clients are able to afford the high-end prices. Misconceptions about Wedding Planners being pricey, comes from wedding shows that air on reality television. The truth is a bride and groom will save more money when working with a Wedding Planner because planners are trained to work within any budget and negotiate with vendors. Whether you are wealthy or not wealthy at all, Wedding Planners are a smart choice when it comes time to plan your special day.
Wedding planners will alleviate stress from the husband and wife-to be, at any stage of the planning process. Many brides and grooms begin to plan their wedding on their own or with the help of family and friends. Before all vendors are even contacted, couples find that they have exceeded their budget. Between running out of money before the big day happens and their loved-ones stressing them out about what they should or should not do for the wedding, brides and grooms are at their wits-end. Once the happy couple contacts a planner, a common practice is to meet for a consultation, which is usually complimentary. At the meeting, wishes, dreams and ideas are expressed to the Wedding Planner who will then create a magical and memorable event complete with dazzling colors and amazing centerpieces. Planners are known for building relationships with reputable caterers, bakers, deejays, hotels, florists, limousines and any other service that the bride and groom desire. Vendor relationships are the key because the planner is then able to negotiate prices as well as make sure that contracts are in order, valuable lessons that are taught in courses geared towards Wedding Planners. During the wedding rehearsal and on the wedding day, planners will be present so that all runs smoothly. This allows the bride, groom and their attendees to relax and enjoy the festivities. That luxury alone is priceless!In closing I'd like to add that after doing my own wedding the one thing that I would change is that I would have hired someone for at least the wedding day so I could have spent more time enjoying the day and my guests rather than making sure things were running smoothly. With all the competition on wedding consultants out there hiring one for the day of service has become very reasonable.
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