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Bewildered Bride-to-BeI just finished up my Save the Dates and have sent most of them out, and boy does it feel good.  Save the Dates seem to be one of those things that some brides do and some brides don’t do.  I completely understand not wanting to do them; they take time, they cost money, and some brides question whether or not they are really necessary.  But after doing mine, I want to give you my plug for sending out Save the Dates.

My first point, and the most obvious, is that sending out Save the Dates helps your guest plan for your event.  In my case, I’m inviting a lot of people who live out of state and I feel obligated to give those people plenty of advance notice.  Normally, actual wedding invitations are not sent out until about 6 weeks before the wedding, and if I had to travel cross country I would definitely want to book my flight before then.  Letting your guests know farther in advance increases the likelihood that they will be able to attend, which is important to most of the brides I know!

My second big point is that Save the Dates open up communication between you and your guests long before the wedding so that you can share important information with them as the date draws near.  The easiest way to create good communication with your guests is to create a wedding website and list it on your Save the Date.  This way, guests know where to turn when they have questions.  One great feature that a lot of wedding websites have is that your guests can sign up to receive email notifications when you update information on your site.  This is invaluable when it comes to things like directions and hotel and activity recommendations.  (Check out reviews of the Top Ten Wedding Websites here).

My third and perhaps most important point is that creating Save the Dates forces you to A) decide on your guest list far in advance so that your not stressing about it two months before the wedding, and B) reconnect with old friends that you would like to have attend.  For me, this has been such a great experience.  Since there are still 6 months to go before my wedding, I feel like I have lots of time to reconnect with people who are very important to me but who I have lost touch with over the years.  Getting someone’s address is the perfect excuse to get updates on their life, and it will make you feel a stronger connection to your guests on the big day.

Now that I’ve convinced you to send Save the Dates, you may be wondering about the details (AKA, how much are these things going to cost and what is the proper etiquette?).  Cost can really vary here, but there are plenty of super cheap and fun ways to create beautiful, personalized cards.  I used Cardstore to create postcards with pictures of my fiance and I.  We got to choose our layout, input all our own text, and choose font styles and colors that matched the theme of our wedding.

Save the Date personalized postcard

Umm, kind of ridiculously cute, right?  So far our guests love them, and it only cost us about $100 (including special “love” postage) to get these out.  Not bad for a guest list of about 130!

When you’re choosing the wording for your Save the Date, think simple but unique.  For ours, we said “Put on your party hat & Save the Date!”, and then listed our full names, where, and when we are getting married.  We also included the address of our wedding website.  That’s it!  When addressing, it’s appropriate to go somewhat formal.  What I mean by this is that the address should read something along the lines of “Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Mary Jones”; the phrasing is formal, but I’ve used Tom instead of Thomas, because this is how I normally refer to this guest.  Of course, you can make things more or less formal according to the feel of your event, but this formula tends to be a nice middle ground if you’re unsure.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get your guests to Save the Date!

Your Bewildered Bride-to-Be,

Marianna

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Bewildered Bride-to-BeMy fiancé Darwin and I have been together 6 years.  We finished high school together, we went to college at UC Berkeley together, we studied abroad in Italy together…we even joined a ballroom dancing team together.  We’ve both kind of known for a while that we would end up getting married, and I’ll admit that I did have some fantasies abut what our big day might be like.  The thing I didn’t imagine was that my planning process would be a little more complicated than most, because I would be planning a military wedding.

What do I mean by military wedding?  Well, if you’re thinking sword arches and gun salutes, that’s not quite what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the practical demands of planning a wedding around the fact you or your future spouse is fully committed to a very demanding job.  There is no postponing military orders if the timing just doesn’t really work for you.  You have to make it work, and you have to be willing to be flexible.

Just a couple of months ago, Darwin joined the Navy as an officer.  He’s about to head of to basic training (yikes!) and when he’s done, we’ll be relocating to Washington, DC.  I am incredibly proud of him and excited for our new life together in DC.  But, I’ve got to be honest, from a wedding planning standpoint this is not going to be easy.  I’ve thought a lot about how to tackle our wedding plans and I’ve gotten some great advice, so I’d like to share what I’ve come up with so far…

Tip #1: Tell your military contact or sponsor that you are getting married, because the military is often willing to work with your plans.  For example, I have heard of a service member who was flown back from overseas deployment for threeRed, white, and blue wedding cupcakes days so that he could attend his wedding.  At the very least, get an outline of what you or your fiancé might be doing over the next year so that you aren’t surprised when something comes up.  When possible, get exact dates for training, deployment, and relocation.  Darwin was able to find out that, luckily, he’ll have a gap in between training courses around the time we want to get married, so it will be much easier to get time off.

Tip #2: Tell your venue and your vendors that one of you is in the military.  You might be able to get a military discount (love those!), but, more importantly, you can let them know that you could be subject to a sudden change of orders, such as deployment.  Work with your vendors to ensure that in the event that you have to change your wedding date, you will be able to alter your plans without incurring huge fees or paying for services that you won’t receive.  Ask your venue and vendors if they offer a “postponement” option that will allow you to postpone your date if necessary.  If not, ask them to add something into the contract that will allow above-average flexibility in terms of date changes.  Most vendors are happy to help accommodate members of the military, so it’s always worth a try!

Tip #3: If you are relocating and you still want that big wedding of your dreams, hire a planner.  I am not about to ask all my friends and family to fly to DC for my wedding, so essentially I’m now planning my wedding from across the country.  If I didn’t have my talented sister to figure out logistics, to occasionally meet with vendors, and to help with design decisions, I would be a whole lot more stressed Red, white, and blue wedding seating chartthan I am now.  At least ask a friend or family member who knows your style and taste to be your “on location” person when it’s impossible to attend meetings yourself.

Tip #4: Again, if you’re relocating, plan for both of you to make at least one trip back before your wedding to hash out menu details, meet your DJ personally, and maybe schedule an engagement session with your photographer.  There are certain things that you really need to decide on in person (preferably together), so be sure to add some additional travel expenses into your budget.

Tip #5: Lastly, make sure that the people involved in your wedding (close family and wedding party) knows your plans and realizes that you could face some shifting dates.  You don’t want the Best Man booking tickets for a surprise bachelor party in Vegas if the Groom is going to miss it!  Get involved in the planning process and make it clear that you have to OK any plans before they become final.

So, that’s my two cents when it comes to planning a military wedding!  If I’ve left more practical questions unanswered, email me at marianna@catrinamaria.com…I leave arches and salutes to your discretion 🙂

Your Bewildered Bride-to-Be,

Marianna

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Marianna thinking deep thoughts OK, things are about to get a little more personal around here.  If you’ve been following our blog you might know that I (Marianna, the youngest of the sisters) recently got engaged to my high school sweetheart, Darwin.  Having worked with my sisters on weddings for a few years now I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it meant to be a “bride-to-be.”  I thought that, knowing everything that I know about weddings, planning my own wedding would be a snap.  Let me tell you, that has not been the case.  Sure, I know how a wedding should flow, what does and does not work when getting 150+ people to your reception, and what exactly a MOH is responsible for.  What I didn’t know was how all that knowledge changes when you’re thinking about your own wedding.  You could be the most organized, knowledgeable, on-top-of-things bride imaginable and all this planning would still be COMPLICATED.

Now that I know what it’s like to be on the flip side of this crazy adventure we call wedding planning, I want to share the things that puzzle, frustrate, and sometimes completely exhaust me.  It’s amazing how much has already come up in these first few months of being engaged!  I want to share my the things I’ve been “bewildered” about and the solutions I’ve come up with in hopes that you other brides-to-be find answers to some of your own questions.  At the very least, I want to let all the ladies out there know that even a wedding planner finds all this to be a bit of a challenge!

So, the next time you feel like you’re about to tear your hair out over the font on your invitations or the color of your napkins, grab a margarita, put your feet up, and see if you’re bewildered about the same things I am!

‘Til next time,

Your Bride-to-Be, Marianna

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