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Everything You Need To Know To Have A Drama-Free Bridal Party

A few weeks ago, we got some great advice from bridal party experts about how to choose your bridal party. We learned how to narrow down your bridal party and choose those who really mean the most to you. We learned about how many people you should choose and the worry that many brides have about sides being equal in number. We also learned that the bride’s side doesn’t always have to be all women, and the groom’s side doesn’t have to be all men.

 

When I was getting married, I actually had two maids of honor. A little non-traditional, but remember, you can make weddings anything you want them to be. There are no “rules,” really, and you can do whatever you like to make your wedding as personal as you want.

 

My husband and I are both only children and so our closest friends are really like the siblings we never had. So of course, the people we chose to be Maid of Honor and Best Man were our oldest and dearest friends. Our Best Man and my husband have been best friends since 1st grade, so that was a no-brainer. I knew my Maids of Honor since I was in 6th grade.

 

So, why did I choose two? Simple. Because I could. But really, it was because I met them both on the same day and the three of us did everything together. I felt like I had to choose a favorite by picking one, and it was something I couldn’t do.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING YOUR BRIDAL PARTY

 

Today, we’re reaching back out to our bridal party experts, Angela Napoletano and Beth Palmisano, friends and co-owners of Dear Bridesmaid based in Virginia, and Jen Glatz, a professional bridesmaid, based in New York City, and the founder of the website Bridesmaid for Hire and author of “Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire).”

 

We’re going to discuss what happens after you choose your bridal party and what you need to know if you are chosen to be in a bridal party as a Bridesmaid or Maid of Honor to keep it all stress-free and drama-free.

 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit, Jen Glantz

Duties

 

Regardless of your “role,” the Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, Best Man and Groomsmen all have to do this one thing above everything else. That is, be a good friend! Glatz says, “Simply put – be a good friend. Really, that’s it. Everything else are requests the bride (or groom) asks you to do and those requests should be fair and not over the top.”

 

“After that, responsibilities will vary based on family traditions, budget, location etc.,” says Palmisano. “The best thing to do when you accept this role is to ask questions and really understand the bride’s expectations. Pro-tip: if your life and schedule don’t fit their description, talk it over with the bride (or groom) right away.”

 

So what can you expect…?

 

If you’re a bridesmaid, Palmisano says, “Sometimes responsibilities are exactly what you think when you hear bridesmaid – hosting and/or attending parties, sitting through band auditions, dress shopping and – if you’re lucky – tasting cake.” Other times, says Palmisano, your responsibilities may include “being there for a vent session, airport pickups, setting and maintaining budgets and so much more.”

 

If you’re the Maid of Honor (MOH), your duties may be similar plus more and are more public. “MOHs publicly hold the flowers, puff the train and sweetly toast the couple,” says Palmisano. “Behind the scenes, MOH acts as the ring leader and delegator. If the MOH can only take on the public duties it’s important for her to find someone else on ‘Team Bride’ to handle logistics – especially if the bridal party volunteers to hold a trip or party.”

 

That brings up a good point…whose duty is it to throw the shower, bachelorette party or any other trip or party that happens during the engagement? “Technically hosting is not a required duty of any bridesmaid, including the MOH,” says Palmisano. “That being said, any member of the bridal party can host or help host parties if she’d like, but shouldn’t feel obligated.”

 

For example, my aunt threw my shower and my maids of honor threw my bachelorette party. However, my maids of honor communicated with me all the time and asked me if I wanted a surprise bachelorette party if I wanted a big one, a small one, and what I wanted to do.

 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY (PART 1)

 

What happens if you invite a person to be in your bridal party and they can’t afford to be in it?

 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit: Susan Shek

Budgets are tight for everyone, the bridal party included. By the time the members of your party pay for their dress, hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures, travel, gifts, or parties, costs can add up pretty fast! If you find yourself in a bridal party and are on a tight budget, Glatz says, “Speak with the bride. Let her know that you don’t have the cash and that you’d like to still be a bridesmaid but on a budget.” Palmisano agrees. She says, “If you know it’s too much for your personal budget, transparency from the beginning is the way to go. The bride will understand and in the end, you’ll both be less stressed.”

 

If you are a bride and someone in your party says they can’t afford it, the number one thing you must do is NOT judge. Facts are facts and if they can’t afford to be in your bridal party, accept their decision to decline the invite to be in your party, or try to work on some budget friendly aspects. For example, try to choose a dress that’s affordable for everyone, try to limit travel, maybe chip in for their hair or makeup (they are your besties after all).

 

What about bridal party drama?

 

Now, here’s the most important thing you need to know about bridal parties…DRAMA IS NOT ALLOWED! I mean it!

 

Brides, you have every right to dismiss a person in your bridal party if they bring the drama. Glatz says, “If someone is bringing more stress into your life, don’t hang on to them. Just because you asked them to be a bridesmaid does not mean you can’t later say never mind because they are making your wedding adventure miserable.”

 

So If you are asked to be in a bridal party, know that the privilege can be taken away at any moment if you bring on the drama. It’s NOT your wedding and you need to respect the bride and groom’s vision, within reason of course.

 

But here’s the good news. Just as the bride has the right to dismiss a dramatic member of the bridal party, you have the right to excuse yourself from the bridal party as well. If you are dealing with a downright evil “Bridezilla” or “Groomzilla,” or if either one isn’t respecting your budget or your concerns, you have the right to leave as well. Now, the few weeks leading up to the wedding may be extra stressful, so you can expect nerves to be on edge and people to be a bit snippy, but if this behavior is happening right from the beginning, it’s just going to get worse and you don’t want to be a part of that.

 

We want to know…who is in your bridal party? What concerns have come up for you, if any?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Man in the Moon Studios Photography

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Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

7 Things You Need To Do If Severe Weather Threatens Your Wedding Day

No matter how much time or money you spend planning your wedding, there is always that one unpredictable factor no one can see coming. That, of course, is the weather. What do you do when Mother Nature has plans to crash your wedding? Well, unfortunately, nothing. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control what she has in store. However, what you CAN control is how prepared you are for such an event.

 

Up here in the Hudson Valley, we’re nestled away within the mountains and rarely see the devastation and destruction hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey have wreaked. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve seen our fair share of weather disasters; flooding, tornadoes, and let’s not forget the dreaded four-letter word…SNOW! Remember that time a blizzard dumped 2 feet of snow on us…IN ONE DAY!
 

Now, rain or snow is something no one ever really wants on their wedding day, but, at least it’s manageable and can make for some really cool photo ops. But when Mother Nature is fuming mad and just wants to destroy everything in her path, you can take a proactive approach to making sure that you are prepared just in case the worse weather event was to happen on your wedding day.
 

Plan ahead

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

You know your area’s weather patterns and one of the ways you can try to avoid severe weather disasters is to plan your wedding in a season that is not typically known for severe weather.  For example, it’s safe to say that winter can be brutal in the Hudson Valley. Some people love the winter and have always dreamed of having a “winter wonderland” themed wedding. Others want to save money on their wedding by having a wedding in the winter, which is typically the “off” season. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those scenarios, you just need to be aware that any wedding planned between late October and late April in the Hudson Valley can bring with it unexpected white stuff. A few inches here or there isn’t really much to be too concerned about, but when you have blizzards and a State of Emergency issued, then you have problems. If you’re ok with possibly having snow to contend with at your wedding, go for it! If not, you may want to plan for a different season. Of course, as we all know the weather has it’s quirks at other times of the year as well, but they summer, fall and spring seem to be a bit “safer” and more “predictable”.

 

Have a conversation with your vendors

 

Today, the weather never really comes as a surprise. You know a few days ahead of time what the weather is going to be, so if you have a wedding planned during a time when severe weather is predicted, you NEED to contact your vendors IMMEDIATELY, and not by email or text. You need to CALL THEM right away, express your concerns and discuss a contingency plan. It’s always better to have a plan “B” in your pocket and not need it, then to need it and not have one. Chances are, if you and live in the same area as your vendors, they’re going to be affected too. What do they plan on doing if severe weather strikes? Do they have different days available if you need to reschedule? Do they have a sister venue they can move your wedding to that may not be affected by weather? Do they have suggestions, from their experience, as to what you should do about the impending severe weather such as keeping it scheduled as planned or rescheduling it? Even with a simple rainy day, you want to make sure your venue and all your vendors are prepared for a plan “B” if your ceremony was going to be outside and you need to move it inside.
 

RELATED: 9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

Check your contracts

 

Now is a good time to review your vendor contracts. Honestly, you need to have this discussion right at booking, but if it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your vendor contracts, pull them out. Many contracts should have a clause (and if not, make sure you can have one put in) that explains what to do if there is an emergency, whether related or not. What if you or your partner ends up sick in the hospital? What if a freak storm sweeps through the area and a tree falls on your photographer’s or DJ’s car or house and they can’t get to your wedding? What if the venue gets flooded? What if, there’s a blizzard and there’s two feet of snow on the ground and the whole city and surrounding area is under a State of Emergency? You need to know how everyone will be prepared, how your DEPOSIT will be handled, and how to navigate a reschedule if need be. You also want to review what happens if your guests can’t make it. Are you still going to have to pay for no-shows or will you get something in exchange for the price of their plate, like an upgrade in appetizers or dessert or an extra comp hotel room?
 

Reach out to guests

 

Hudson Valley wedding photographer Jeremiah Shaffer

Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

You need to keep your guests in the loop. Remember, some may be coming from hundreds of miles away and you want to give them enough notice to change their travel plans if need be. This is where having a wedding website comes in handy. You can post updates there, but in addition to that, make sure you CALL each and every guest to keep them aware of the situation and to fill them in on any changes that may be coming. Be prepared that if severe weather is predicted, and if all “systems are go”, some guests may still not be able to come. Also, keep in mind that if you do need to make the choice to reschedule your wedding, some guests may not be able to make it to your new date either, depending on when you reschedule.

 

Reach out to travel providers

 

Chances are, you and your spouse will probably be taking a honeymoon right after your wedding. So, while you may not be experiencing bad weather where you are getting married, severe weather may be happening where you plan on honeymooning. Well, we all know that severe weather never lasts just one day. There’s often times a residual mess that a hurricane or blizzard leave in its wake. which, can be just as messy (and devastating) as the weather itself. If you are flying, driving, staying at a hotel or cruising anywhere, you want to make sure you contact your travel providers ASAP to see what their protocol is, if, for any reason you need to cancel or delay your honeymoon.
 

Another tip is when you book your honeymoon, make sure you take out travel insurance for just this reason. When my husband and I honeymooned, we took out insurance on our cruise. Well, wouldn’t you know, Hurricane Sandy was just starting off as a Tropical Depression and we were chasing it the whole way home. Thankfully, everything was fine and it wasn’t until we got home that it turned into what it was, but imagine if we did cruise a week later and were in the full midst of it, with no insurance?
 

RELATED: NOT SURE IF YOU WANT TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER? 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

Hire a planner

 

If you are really concerned about severe weather ruining your wedding, you might want to consider hiring a planner. A planner is trained and certified to be the eyes and ears for you. They can take care of the vendor contracts, and help you find a new date or venue (if need be). You can then decide, based on the information they give you, and the information you received from your vendors, whether to keep your date or reschedule. You will still need to do some work, such as reaching out to your guests, but they will do the heavy lifting for you and create or recreate your day to exactly the way you wanted it if severe weather strikes.
 

Make the best of it

 

Last, but not least, “Turn lemons into lemonade”. Say, for example, your wedding is on a Saturday and there is a snow storm predicted for that day, but the day before is predicted to be sunny and clear. If the snow isn’t going to accumulate to much, but enough to make it bad for travel, you might want to consider asking guests who can or want to, to come a day early, on Friday, and make a weekend out of it. Not only will they be in town for your wedding and won’t have to worry about traveling in bad weather the day of, but you can hang out in your hotel, have brunch the next day, turn what could be a terrible situation into one that is unexpectedly more fun and memorable than what you originally planned. This will work especially well if your ceremony and reception are going to be at the same place and if that venue also offers lodging, such as a hotel.
 

We want to hear from you. If you are already married, did you face any weather challenges, and if so, what were they and how did you handle them?

 

Featured Photo Credit: Jeremiah Shaffer

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bridesmaids in their dresses

What You Need to Know About Choosing Your Bridal Party (part 1)

One of the first things most couples do once they plan their date and let the engaged life settle in for a bit is to chose who they want to have in their bridal party. This, in itself, can create a lot of stress for some people. Couples may think they know who they want standing next to them, but then, the “what if’s” come in.
 

Have you ever said any of these things..?

 

• What if I don’t ask someone, will their feelings be hurt?

• What if my sides don’t match in number?

• What if my bridal party is too small or too large?

• What if I ask someone who really doesn’t want to be in my wedding?

• What if someone in my bridal party can’t afford to be in it?

• What if I ask someone who’s married? Does their spouse have to be in the bridal party too?
 

Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz

Photo Credit: Jen Glantz

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, then this is the place you want to be. Over the next few months, we’re going to be covering all these topics and more, so don’t worry…we have your back.

 

Now, I know we always talk to experts in the Hudson Valley, but sometimes, the experts we need to give you the best advice are outside of our market, as in this case. We reached out to two bridesmaid experts to give you advice on how to choose and handle your bridal party.

 

Angela Napoletano and Beth Palmisano, are friends and co-owners of Dear Bridesmaid. Based in Virginia, this online resource offers bridesmaids tips, products, and advice, to make their time in that role as easy and stress-free as possible. Jen Glatz is a professional bridesmaid, based in New York City, and is the founder of the website Bridesmaid for Hire & Author of “Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire)”. Together, they share their expertise in helping you choose your bridal party and navigating your bridal party questions.

 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY (PART 1)

 

How do I choose my bridal party?

 

This can be a heavy decision for many couples. I know in other posts I’ve talked about the unromantic side of weddings as a way to help you de-stress and not go crazy over details that might keep you up at night. Mainly, that all you really need are two witnesses and don’t even need a bridal party at all if you don’t want one.

 

HOWEVER, I don’t like to focus too much on the unromantic side of things, because, we all know, a wedding is the most romantic event you’ll ever be a part of. The problems creep in because brides and grooms overcomplicate this process.

 

Glantz says, “Keep your bridal party simple. Use the elevator trick. Who would you want to be stuck in an elevator with? Sounds funny, but it’s true. Being stuck in an elevator is a lot like being at a wedding. It can be emotional, overheated, scary, and people might even get hungry or hangry. Those are the people you want to have as your bridesmaids – the ones who will be calming you down not adding to the drama.”

 

The elevator trick is a great tool to help you decide. No bride or groom wants extra drama. If you are not inviting a particular person to be in your bridal party because of the drama they create and are worried about how they will react to not being invited, think of it this way. it’s better to have that drama be done and over with outside of your wedding than during your wedding.

 

choose your bridesmaids

Man in the Moon Studios

Palmisano says she sees two themes play out most when the bride (or groom) choose their party. First, she says that you need to remember that being asked to be in a bridal party is an honor and should be reserved for the most important people. “These are the sisters, oldest friends, even mothers who are given the badge as a thank you and symbolic gesture of love.” Second, she says some brides go beyond that and invite newer friends. “…Typically friends present in the bride’s life at the time of wedding prep. The ones she sees daily and counts on for a quick favor or to accompany her on errands.” She says having a mix of old and new friends/family members is great because it gives you a nice mix of people you can turn to throughout the planning process.

 

RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE THAT CAN RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WAYS TO PREVENT IT

 

How many people do I choose and do my sides need to be even?

 

Ok, so here’s my two sense on this…the smaller the better. I know there are traditional “rules” that say the size of your bridal party should match the size of your wedding, but honestly, the bigger the party, the more stress it means for you. That’s more people you have to organize, more opinions you have to deal with, more of everything, and who want to deal with all that stress?

 

Your bridal party is NOT a position to take lightly and is not for anyone who has ever meant anything to you. You’ve all heard stories about couples who had enormous amounts of people in their bridal party? Why? Use the K.I.S.S Method (Keep It Simple Silly)

 

However, if you really want a big bridal party or if you really want a small bridal party, know that there is no right or wrong answer as to what you should do. Nor, is there a right or wrong decision to having the sides match in number. Palmisano says, “There is no right or wrong and count is really based on the bride’s preference. Bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t need to be even but some couples prefer that.”

 

Does the brides’ side need to be all women and does the groom’s side need to be all men?

 

Of course not! The one thing to remember about weddings is that while there are traditional “rules” like I mentioned before, it’s still your wedding day. Couples today want their day to be different and personalized, so really there are no “rules”, it’s whatever you like. “The bride should choose ‘her person’ to stand beside her on the special day. If it’s a guy he should be up there,” says Palmisano

 

Featured Photo Credit: Kristina Walter

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What It’s Really Like To Have Your Dog In Your Wedding

“She came right up to us and leaned on my leg, and right then and there, I knew she was the one!” Everyone who has a pet likely has a story similar to this of when their pet stole their heart. Janel Solanki, who got married last year at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, shared this love story she and her husband Nick have with their dog Sadie, the adorable 9-year-old German Shepherd/Collie rescue in the image above. “Even though we’ve only had her for two years,” Solanki says, “I feel like she’s been with us forever…She is wholeheartedly a member of our family!”
 

“We wanted him to be at our wedding because he is always by our side during our daily lives and why would we want our wedding day to be any different?” says Natalie Feist about her dog Brego, who’s been a part of her and her husband Mike’s lives since he was eight weeks old and played an important role in their wedding at Crested Hen Farms last year.
 

There’s no denying pets bring a special kind of love into our lives, and of course, it’s natural to want them to be part of the biggest day of our lives, but we learned that having your pet in your wedding is not always as easy as it sounds. There are many variables that play into you being able to have your “best friend” by your side. From the venue, to the sights and sounds, to your pet’s personality, there are many things to consider.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE INCLUDING YOUR DOG IN YOUR WEDDING

 

We spoke to Janel and Natalie to learn more about the roles Sadie and Brego played on their special day and tips and advice they have for any couple who wants their dog in their wedding.
 

What role should your dog have in your wedding?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

There are hundreds of wedding venues in the Hudson Valley, but the majority are not pet-friendly. That doesn’t mean that venue owners don’t love pets, it just means that the venue may not be the safest or most comfortable for a dog to hang out in for hours at a time (except, of course, if it’s a service animal). If having your dog in your wedding is a deal-breaker for choosing the venue, the first thing you need to do is to check with the venue first to see if it’s pet-friendly.
 

“I loved the idea of having her in our wedding, either carrying our rings or standing up with us while exchanging our vows,” says Solanki, who ended up not having Sadie in her wedding. Many things came into play for them to decide to keep Sadie home that night. What the venue allowed, the 200-plus guest list, and the formal evening affair made them reconsider. However, not all was lost as they made Sadie a prominent fixture in many of their photos which were taken at home prior to the ceremony.
 

Brego, on the other hand, was living it up at Feist’s wedding, since Crested Hen Farms is a pet-friendly location partly because it has a lot of acreage for a dog to run around on. “Brego walked Mike down the aisle. While we were getting ready he ran around exploring Crested Hen Farms, and occasionally would run back to the bridal suite to check in with us,” says Feist.
 

What do you do with your dog during the reception?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

The ceremony is just one part of your wedding. If you want your dog in your wedding, you need to have a plan for the dog during the ceremony, which can last another five to six hours after the ceremony and can make for a very long day for a dog to be away from their familiar surroundings.
 

“Our dog is accustomed to large crowds and loud music, so he handled it fairly well,” said Feist. However, as the night went on, things changed. Feist says, “We noticed later in the evening, as the party got more raucous, he started to become stressed, so we had a friend take him home.”
 

For Solanki, who kept Sadie home that day, they asked their neighbors to watch her. “Sadie is so well house-trained that we left her at my parents’ house where we were staying and had a neighbor check in on her throughout the night.”
 

Do you have a plan for your dog? Do you have a neighbor willing to pet-sit for the night? Do you have a friend willing to leave the party to take your dog home? If any of these questions make you worry about creating an “escape route” for your dog, you might want to reconsider their role in your wedding.
 

Tips for having your dog in your wedding

 

Both Solanki and Feist, who had very different experiences with their dogs, have some great, practical advice for any couple thinking of having their dog in their wedding.
 

Personality

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Every dog is different, so it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to “rules” for having a dog in your wedding. Personality is huge! Solanki says some questions to consider are: “Is he well socialized? Does he get nervous and skittish around crowds of people, kids, loud music?  Is he well trained in basic obedience or does he jump on everyone he sees?…Is he a constant barker? A counter surfer?  Imagine your dog trying to take a bite out of your wedding cake!” If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to be safe than sorry and leave your dog home, and have them in pictures only.
 

Pet-sitters

 

Feist says pet-sitters are a must! Remember, you don’t want to be in charge of your dog that night; you want to have fun. She says, “Ask multiple people if they are willing to take turns as leash-holders, that way one person doesn’t get stuck with the job all night!” She also says to make sure the leash-holders are also familiar with the dog and willing to leave the premises if necessary to take the dog somewhere more comfortable. “We asked people who were familiar with our dog and how he signals his needs. Also, make sure that there is someone available to take your pet to a safe and quiet space if necessary,” says Feist.
 

RELATED: AVOID THESE 3 MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING

 

Your guests

 

“While you may love dogs, your guests may not,” says Solanki. That’s a very valid point. Just like with music…just because you love heavy metal, that doesn’t mean your guests will and so you need to play music everyone will like. Just because you love dogs, and many people do, not everyone does. What if you have a young child at your wedding petrified of big dogs, or someone who sneezes at just the thought of a dog. These are things you may not think of, but need to take into consideration.
 

The “formality” of your wedding

 

Solanki also says to take a look at the “formality” of your wedding. “A formal indoor evening event won’t be appropriate for a dog, no matter how quiet and well behaved he may be,” she said. “But an outdoor, casual afternoon celebration might!   Ultimately, the venue, type of wedding, and personality of your dog will determine if he should be part of your day.”
 

So, we want to know if you are having your dog in your wedding. What made you decide to have him/her be part of your day or what made you decide to keep him/her home? What role is your dog going to play in your wedding?
 

Featured Photo Credit: Red Pepper Shots

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What You Need to Know About the Tone of Your Invites

There’s something about sending out wedding invitations, even more so than save the dates, that makes your wedding feel ‘real.’ This mailing will determine so much going forward. It determines your final guest count, it starts the ball rolling for seating charts, it gives you an idea of what your guests would like to eat, and believe me when I tell you that the first RSVP card you get back will make you squeal like a baby!
 

From the guest’s perspective, your invite is a treasure trove! Believe it or not, your invite is sending messages to your guests that go far beyond the who, what, where, and when.
 

Your invitations are actually giving your guests a sneak peek into you, as a couple and your style, and for some guests, that may be the first time they see this side of you. We already spoke about save the dates and what you need to know about them, but today we’re going to discuss wedding invitations in general.
 

Before we get down to the nitty gritty specifics in future posts, we want you to know that your invite is so much more than just a piece of paper. We asked local invitation experts to share their knowledge with you so that when it’s time for you to choose your invitations, you’re better prepared to make decisions. The unknown causes stress. My motto is: The more informed you are, the less stressed you get.
 

RELATED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SAVE THE DATES

 

Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding

 

Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

Most invitation experts agree that your invitation sets the tone for your wedding. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, sum it up nicely in the motto of their business: “You set the date. We set the tone.” Eddy says,“”it’s the only thing your guests receive ahead of the wedding to indicate what kind of event they are going to.” McHoul says your invite is your guests first look into what your day is going to be like and that ”The invitation is always going to be a timeless reminder” of that day.
 

”Nowadays everything is custom, and that’s what we do,” says Eddy. “Invitations should set the tone for the wedding, should reflect the couple, the day, it’s the only thing your guests are receiving that they can keep if they like.” And remember, it’s also one of the few mementos you and your family will keep also.
 

Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Your wedding invitation is a reflection of you both as a couple and your personality. It is also your guest’s first glimpse of the feel and vibe of your wedding.” He suggests that before you select your invitations (and there is a reason why invitations are one of the last things you do in your planning process…more on that in future posts) to talk to each other about what you want your wedding to look like and if you want any special theming. He says Pinterest is a great venue for inspiration but the great thing about custom invites is that you can make them whatever you want. “We suggest that you save these ideas, and share them with us when we have our first meeting,” he said. “We specialize in creating completely unique invitations; we can even combine ideas or themes from you!” So, if you want a classic elegant and formal look, and your partner wants a sporty theme, going custom can help you achieve that, and also gives your guests an opportunity to get to know you better.
 

Kristal Walden, owner Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, reiterates a lot of the same points, saying your invite “sets the tone for the actual day, it sets the tone for the wedding, it sets the tone for what your guests are going to experience, what your guests are going to expect.” She tries to capture the couples personality in each and every design, because “You don’t want to pick a design that your guests are going to look at and say ‘this isn’t them!’ It needs to be you.”
 

RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT CAN RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WAYS TO PREVENT IT

 

Which brings me to my last point. If reading all that makes you even more stressed and worried about if you are going to do something “wrong,” don’t worry! Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says there are no wrong choices and if you don’t want an invite that matches your theme, that’s OK! In the grand scheme, outside of you and your family “Nobody is even really going to remember what your invitations look like. The only ones who keep their invitations are the moms and the bride,” Stark says. “Go with what you like, go with what you can afford…it can be part of your theme, it can be something that sets the tone, but it doesn’t have to.”
 

Wedding invitation trends

 

Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics, Inc.

Remember, D’Elia said Pinterest is a great source for invite inspiration. However, scouring through Pinterest can be somewhat daunting if you don’t even know where to begin. So, we wanted to know what some of the latest trends real couples are choosing for their wedding invitations. Eddy and McHoul say the biggest trends they are seeing for the fall are softer neutral gold tones and deeper jewel-toned colors.
 

D’Elia says a lot of his couples have been requesting foil to make their invitations stand out. “Another trend we see is pocket invitations, which includes the invitation and wedding details (RSVP, accommodation card, hotel information, etc.) in one pocket. This is a very elegant and classy look and organizes all important wedding information into one place,” he says. Lastly, he points out that some couples even want that “WOW” factor…everything from custom shapes, laser-cut paper to look like lace, 3D effects known as quilling, to even invitations that light up…with real lights!! He says, “We even created wedding treasure maps and timelines as invitations.” So, as you can see, there is no right or wrong here. It really boils down to your personal preference and your budget.
 

In the next few weeks, we are going to dive deeper into the invite specifics, with a very special infographic to help you navigate the world of wedding invitations.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Design by Kristal Walden, photo by The Ramsdens

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What you need to know before including your dog in your wedding

They say a dog is man’s best friend. As a cat owner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say cats are best friends too. Anyone who’s ever owned an animal – cat, dog, other – knows just how much they become part of your family. It’s hard to imagine them not being part of your lives. So why wouldn’t they be part of your wedding day?
 

We’ve all seen wedding photos with pets or animals (such as farm animals who reside on the property for barn weddings), but there is a lot more that goes into having your “best friend” in your wedding than you might think. So we asked a few pet-friendly Hudson Valley venues, who have had dogs, fat sleepy cats, a parrot perched on the groom’s shoulder, a mini therapy horse and an occasional pig as guests, share what they’ve learned to help you and your pet have a fun, safe and stress-free day.
 

What does it mean to be a pet-friendly venue?

 

Baghdad and Cairo. Photo Credit: Crested Hen Farms

Ken Snodgrass, executive director at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, a 200-acre historic estate  once home to Morse Code inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, says, first and foremost, any venue will be able to accommodate service animals, “but for pets that are there for more ‘entertainment,’ you just want to make sure they (the venue) can accommodate them (your pet).”
 

So, what does it mean to be pet-friendly? Ripley Hathaway, owner of A Private Estate Events in Germantown, a National Register 1856 estate which was the former barn complex of the famed Livingston family, says, “A pet-friendly venue can vary in meaning. We allow couples’ pets to participate in their ceremony and to stay in our Carriage House on the property with the couple…We do not allow guests to bring their pets.”
 

Richard Rozzi, venue manager at Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, a National Register 36-acre former dairy farm founded in the 1790s, says, “Frank (venue owner) and I are both animal lovers and know how much they mean to people and become part of the family.” On property, they have 85 chickens and two Abyssinian cats named Baghdad and Cairo. “Since they are like family members we made the decision to allow our clients to bring their pets and include them in their ceremony and/or reception.”
 

RELATED: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING COUPLES OVERLOOK AT WEDDING EXPOS?

 

Is your pet wedding-friendly?

 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Just because you want your pet(s) to be in your wedding, that doesn’t mean THEY want to be. Rozzi says, “Make sure that it is in their (the couple’s) pet’s best interest to do so. Some pets can be stressed out by crowds and lots of people that they are not accustomed to. As long as their pets are socialized and people friendly then we strongly encourage it.”
 

You know your pet(s) better than anyone and you’re ultimately the ones that need to decide if you want them in or at your wedding. Snodgrass says observing your pet in different situations can help determine how they will be at your wedding: “How do your pets react in non-traditional environments, do they really like a lot of people or do they freak out in a dog park?”
 

“Do they do well with strangers approaching them? Do you walk them or do they walk you?” asks Hathaway. “There is a lot of wildlife on our property from squirrels to birds to deer. Would your dog decide to chase them instead of walking down the aisle with you?” She says you also have to consider who’s going to tend to the dog. “Is there a really close friend or family member who would be willing to miss part of your reception to take the dog home…while you party for eight hours or more? If any of these questions make you doubt how well they will behave perhaps you should include them in your engagement photos when it’s just you and them.”
 

What if you want your pet in your wedding but know they won’t be able to handle it?
 

Photo Credit: Arius Photography

Hathaway brings up a good point: If your pet is not good in a crowd situation, you can use them in photos – either your engagement photos or wedding photos. Snodgrass says that happens a lot. “They’ll (the couple) bring their pets for photos before the ceremony.” He says that while it’s always a fun idea to include your pets “I think it’s good for people to have realistic expectations about how their pet is going to react to 100 plus people with loud music and loud conversations.” He recommends the ceremony might be better for your pet than the reception, but you would need to make sure you have a plan in place for someone to bring your pet home after the ceremony.

 

What are the “rules” and fine print?

 

When pets are involved, there’s more at stake. You need to be respectful of the space you are in and use the same rules that apply anytime you bring your dog out in public. Snodgrass says to always check what venue regulations are as they vary. At Locust Grove, he says, “Just keep them leashed so they don’t run for the Hudson River a half a mile away and tidy up after them.”
 

Hathaway says at A Private Estate, “All pets must be on a leash at all times… Couples are expected to pick up after their pets. Couples do need to fill out a pet release form stating their pet is up to date on his/her shots and that their animal does not have a history of biting.” She also says “There is a fee for pets staying the Carriage House as we want to make sure any dander or fur is gone before the next guest so the cleaning takes longer and we charge accordingly.”
 

At Crested Hen Farms, Rozzi says, “The only thing we ask is that the clients pick up after their pets and as long as they (the pets) are well behaved, leashes are not necessary. Of course, we also ask that they prevent them from doing anything destructive to the property i.e. digging holes, chasing our chickens etc.”
 

RELATED: HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS SHARE 6 REASONS WHY YOU NEED ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

 

Other Tips

 

Here are some final tips if your pet will be attending your wedding. Snodgrass says to look for shady spots on the property where your pet can hang out and cool off while everyone is getting ready. He also says to be aware of the ceremony locale…is it inside or outside? He says, “We ask people to be considerate with their pets and so we usually think pets are going to be most comfortable outside.” Dogs and hardwood floors don’t always mesh well and can be dangerous. Plus the floor is cold and hard as opposed to softer outdoor spaces.
 

Are you planning on having your pet in your wedding? What kind of pet do you have and what role do you want it to play? Join us next week when we talk to couples who had pets in their wedding and what their experience was like.

 

Featured Photo Credit: Arius Photography

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The Little Wedding in the Woods and What it Taught Me

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Millennials (and I really dislike that term because it has a very negative connotation) are opting for more simple weddings, where the focus is more on them and wanting a more personalized experience for their guests. I thought that was interesting considering that, for so long, the trend was formal and somewhat elaborate.

 

A few months ago, I attended a wedding that, while the couple was not a Millennial couple, fit that description and it left me with a new appreciation for weddings.

 

I’ve been to many weddings in my life…the smallest being around 75 people to the largest being over 250 people. They’ve been in hotels, historic estate lawns, tents and extravagant ballrooms. They’ve been DIY weddings and elegantly planned by professionals. They’ve had very short ceremonies and some have had longer religious and ethnic ceremonies. I’ve been in weddings and I’ve been a guest. I’ve traveled and stayed local. But this wedding…this little wedding in the woods left me speechless – speechless in a good way.

 

The wedding was small, about 25 people, just immediate family and close, close family friends, as in friends who are like family. The ceremony took place in a chapel in the woods of their local church. No bridal party, no bride or groom sides to sit on, just a very romantic humble setting for an even more humble and perfect union.

 

The wedding was not just a wedding, but a weekend full of festivities starting from dinner the night before, to an impromptu gathering of almost all the guests in the hotel lobby after dinner, to brunch the next morning. Everything about it was…well, perfect!

 

So, here’s what the little wedding in the woods taught me:

 

RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT WILL RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WASY TO PREVENT IT

 

Bigger is not always better:

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I’ve spoken about this before and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it too, that sometimes couples think a wedding is a competition. That their wedding has to be better than everyone else’s, that their wedding has to be so over the top that guests will never forget it, that they have to invite everyone they’ve ever known and make it this big spectacle. There have even been studies that suggest that couples who have larger weddings also end up with a higher divorce rate because they see their wedding as the finish line, not the beginning of a lifetime together.

 

Having a small wedding gives guests the opportunity to talk with one another, learn about each other (if some have never met before), see folks they haven’t seen in a while and catch up.

 

Small weddings also give you more control. You have the chance to speak to all your guests and gives guests the opportunity to speak to you. There is also less likelihood for something to go awry because there aren’t as many moving parts.

 

Family comes first:

 

The best thing about weddings is that it’s the only time you will have EVERYONE who has meant something to you in the same room. The unfortunate thing is that it’s the only time, most likely, that that will ever happen. That’s the one thing I miss about my wedding: seeing so many friends and family members together in one room. We’ve tried to recreate it, with birthday parties or vacations, but nothing brings people together like a wedding does.

 

If you have a close family, especially if it’s a small one, and really want to make each member feel important consider a small wedding. Each member of the family can contribute in a special way without feeling left out and without you worrying if someone’s feelings will be hurt.

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

No dancing…No problem:

 

Believe me when I tell you that I am all about getting my groove on out on the dance floor. It’s fun and you burn calories at the same time…win-win! But weddings don’t always have to have dancing…and that’s OK!

 

This was the first wedding I ever attended that didn’t have dancing, and you know what? It was still fun! We were still able to do everything you’d do at a wedding with dancing; enjoy cocktail hour, enjoy a nice dinner, the only difference was that the part of the ceremony where you’d normally be dancing, you were talking. Once folks got a few drinks, and ate, the stories and laughter just never ended. This leads right to my next point.

 

RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ IS A BAD IDEA

 

Experience matters most of all:

 

Many think that to have a great experience, a wedding needs to be over the top, when the reality is, experience is a very personal feeling. You can have the biggest, best wedding with all the bells and whistles and not everyone will like it, same with small weddings. For some guests, small weddings don’t cut it. They want to be wowed, and if not, they aren’t going to have a good time. So, the moral of the story is “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself!” (BONUS POINTS: if you can name the song that came from…hint, it’s an oldie)

 

If you want to know how to give people an awesome experience at your wedding, make them feel special, like they are a part of it. That’s really what it boils down to. Small or large, if you can make your guests feel important, make them feel like they are part of your big day beyond just sending them an invite, the more they will remember your wedding as one they had the best time at.

 

Small weddings = Easy-to-manage = stress-free day:

 

With bigger weddings, there is a lot to stress about because as I mentioned, there are less moving parts.

 

Worried about having to cut people because you are over budget? If you purposely plan to keep it small, and let people know, people won’t be expecting an invite and you won’t have to worry about inviting people you don’t really want. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of money because you won’t need a big space or have so many mouths to feed.

 

Worried about getting to speak to all the guests while still having time to eat? With a small guest list, you become part of party and you can have the time to talk to every one of your guests.

 

Worried about all the little details or the drama? Well, if you have a small wedding, you don’t need a bridal party, you don’t really need a seating chart, you don’t have to worry about a lot of decorations or florals, and you don’t have to worry too much about a rehearsal.

 

Worried about spending too much and staying within budget? With a small enough wedding, you don’t have to worry about finding a big enough space, spending a lot on invites, or needing a big cake, a big bar or any other item that takes a chunk out of your total spending.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Do you want a small wedding or one on the larger side?

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13 of the most common mistakes engaged couples make revealed

There’s no doubting that being engaged is an exciting time in your life. The joys of planning a life together, the excitement of what the future will bring, being able to call you partner your fiance now and, of course, planning your wedding, is all fun and good.
 

However, that excitement can very easily lead to overwhelm if you aren’t careful.
 

All married couples, after their wedding is over and they’ve been married for a few months, realize that they’ve all made mistakes while they were engaged, I did too. Here’s the good news, though. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn anything from them. Now that you know what they are, you’ll be better prepared.
 

Mistake #1 – Not having important conversations with your spouse-to-be

 

I put this first for a reason. Before you even discuss getting engaged, you need to at least know how your partner feels about certain things such as kids or money. Did you know that if you are getting married in a Catholic church, you will need to attend Pre-Cana classes? Pre-Cana classes are marriage prep classes where you and your partner discuss the hard topics: Do you want kids? How many? What if one of you gets a job transfer? What do you do? What are your thoughts on finances? Household chores, Etc? It’s a mandatory class. However, if you are not getting married in a Catholic church, there is no need for classes. Some of you may be thinking “woohoo!!” but don’t underestimate this. Even if you aren’t taking Pre-Cana classes, you need to have these important conversations before getting married, and you need to have a plan if you disagree on something, because realizing you want kids and your partner doesn’t, or your partner wants to move and you don’t, after you are married is not a good thing.
 

Mistake #2 – Announcing your engagement on social media too soon

 

Photo Caption: Hannah Nicole Photography

In this day of instant news, it’s very easy to make a mad dash to Facebook or Instagram and announce to everyone you are engaged with a shiny picture of your bling. However, before doing that, take some time to really let the moment sink in. Not everyone needs to know right away. Tell your family and close friends first, make sure you two take the time to embrace the moment and enjoy what just happened. Social media can wait. You also want to make sure that when the time comes to post on social media, that you have a clear head and are sending the announcement only to those “friends” you really want knowing, at least for the time being.
 

RELATED: JUST ENGAGED? 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO

 

Mistake #3 – Talking to everyone about everything!

 

Here’s the truth! People are excited for you, they really are, but they don’t want to hear about your wedding planning every second of the day. Think about it, you don’t want to hear someone talk about their vacation all the time, or the construction being done on their home, or family drama, or how cute their kids are, or how cute their dog is. After a while, it’s too much. Yes, people are interested, yes, they care, but limit what you say and who you say it to.
 

Mistake #4 – Making plans before you officially begin planning

 

My husband and I got engaged in early December, and we agreed that we wouldn’t start “officially” planning anything until the new year. With Christmas coming up and the New Year, it was just too much. We gave ourselves about a month to really take a breath, think about what we both wanted our wedding to be like, think about a date, etc, but it wasn’t until January that we really started anything official. If you start planning before the time you both agree on, you are really doing yourself a disservice because you aren’t fully prepared to make decisions yet. You’ll create double work, and who wants that?
 

RELATED: 3 ESSENTIAL DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ATTENDING YOUR FIRST WEDDING EXPO

 

Mistake #5 – Not giving yourself enough time to plan

 

If you are getting married in the Hudson Valley and expect to get married 6 months to a year out from your engagement, good luck! Can it be done? Sure! But will it be easy? Heck no! If you haven’t noticed already, the Hudson Valley is a pretty popular place for weddings, with many vendors booking at least a year (sometimes more) out. Don’t rush your plans. Take the time to pick a date a minimum of a year out, and if you want a summer or fall wedding, plan accordingly. Planning, while fun, is stressful, too. You don’t want to give yourself added stress by being under an unnecessary time crunch.
 

Mistake #6 – Choosing your bridal party too quickly

 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

Just like your wedding isn’t a time to invite everyone you’ve ever known, neither is choosing your bridal party. I’ve spoken before about this very unromantic truth, that you don’t even need a bridal party, you just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Keep that in mind when choosing your party. You don’t want to look at photos 5 or 10 years down the line and have regrets because you asked someone just to even the sides or see someone you were friends with who you are no longer friends with now. Choose people who you have known a long time, have been there for you through thick and thin, or mean the most to you. This could be family or friends or a mix of both. Keep your party small too, because we all know that the more people you have, the more complicated the planning gets.
 

RELATED: 30 TRUTHS ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PART 1

 

Mistake #7 – Booking your vendors in the wrong order

 

The three main vendors you need to check off your list immediately are the venue, photographer/videographer, and your DJ. Everything else can wait…sort of (see mistake #8). You don’t want to book your florist before you know where your ceremony is going to be because that’s a question they are going to ask you. Same with the limo, caterer, planner (sometimes). Once you get those main three vendors booked, then you’re golden and everything else will fall into place.
 

Mistake #8 – Not booking vendors soon enough

 

Ok, so I just told you that one mistake couples make is not giving themselves enough time to plan. However, having too much time can sometimes lead to procrastination. DO NOT procrastinate booking your vendors, even if you are a year (or more) out. As soon as you know your date and are set on it, then start researching and booking your vendors before they someone else does. You’ve heard the expression, “the early bird gets the worm”? Well, consider yourself a bird!
 

Mistake #9 – Planning too much too fast

 

While it’s important to get your venue, photographer/videographer, and DJ booked right away, remember that planning isn’t a race. There are great planning timelines that you can get from your venue or magazines (even online) that break down every planning step leading backward from your wedding day. You don’t have to book everything now, and if you try, you are setting yourself up for failure. You also add more stress because you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and not giving yourself enough time to think or change your mind about something either.
 

RELATED: THE BEST FREEBIES AND DISCOUNTS FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY

 

Mistake #10 – Overthinking the details

 

Details are what makes each wedding unique, especially personalized details, but what people remember most about weddings is the experience they had and the food they ate, not details so much. I can tell you from every wedding I’ve attended what the experience was like and what I ate, but anything after that is a blur. I don’t remember colors, favors, centerpieces, etc. And guess what? No one else will either. Do you want your wedding to be nice? Of course! Who doesn’t? but don’t stress so much over the little details because no one will remember.
 

Mistake #11 – Shopping for your wedding dress too early

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

I made this mistake. I went shopping for my dress a year and a half out! I really wanted a dress that had sleeves or had a v-neckline and at the time, but that wasn’t the style then. Everything was strapless that I then had to modify. If I had waited longer, the style dresses I wanted would have been in style because the styles started to shift right after Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, which was the day I went dress shopping. Your dress takes 6-9 months to make from the time you order it. Knowing that, around the 9 to 10-month mark, start shopping. If you go too early, styles change, what you want changes, and once you purchase your dress, there are no refunds.
 

RELATED: LEARN HOW TO SAVE HUNDREDS ON YOUR WEDDING DRESS

 

Mistake #12 – Not taking time for yourself

 

I mentioned earlier that planning your wedding is not a race. You need to make sure that during your entire planning process, you and your partner are doing NON-WEDDING-RELATED activities. If your wedding planning is consuming every part of your day and night and keeping you up at night, you are doing something wrong and need to take a step back. Date nights, stay-cations, concerts or parties are great ways to just take a mental break from everything and refocus. Just like work…if you are working on a project all the time, you are going to get burned out. You need time to decompress and step back. Those times will become priceless aS your wedding day gets nearer and nearer.
 

Mistake #13 – Not being true to yourself

 

A wedding is a great time for people to come out of the woodwork and chime in as to what YOUR wedding should be like. It’s funny how that happens. What you need to remember is that it’s your day. Does that mean you have to go all “Bride-or-Groom-Zilla” on folks? No. But you do need to be aware that this is going to happen. The last thing you want is regret on your wedding day. Don’t let other people’s opinions persuade you into doing something you really don’t want to do. A wedding is a great time to practice compromise. If you want a really small wedding and your partner wants a really big wedding, maybe meet somewhere in the middle.  You need to be true to yourself so you can have the day you always dreamed of.
 

Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

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The Best Freebies and Discounts For Your Wedding Day

Who doesn’t like free stuff? If you are planning a wedding, you know just how expensive it can be, and to get anything for free not only helps your wallet and your budget, but also helps to lower your stress level. Getting something for free (or discounted) means it’s one less thing you have to worry about, and who doesn’t want that? You have enough to deal with.

 

During each stage of your wedding planning, there are free or discounted things you can get, from fun to functional, and so to make it easy for you, I’ve broken them down into different categories:

 

Registry

 

If you are a couple who plans to register for gifts, it can be a daunting experience especially if you need everything from a can opener to a couch. There are, though, perks to registering that will make it easier for you and your guests:

 

  • When you sign up for a wedding registry, each store will give you a list of the most commonly needed gifts a newlywed couple should register for — everything from pots and pans, to bedding, to china — and you can use that checklist to create a perfect wedding registry.
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  • After your wedding, most stores will give you a discount on any item you purchase off your registry, that wasn’t purchased as a gift, up to a year after your wedding.
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  • Some stores may offer you free gifts just for signing up for a registry and may even give you a gift once a group of items, such as a full setting of china, or a full collection of pots and pans, is purchased.
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  • Your guests may also get discounts or free gifts if they purchase over a certain dollar amount.
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    RELATED: 7 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CREATE YOUR AWESOME WEDDING REGISTRY

     

    Showers, Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, Engagement Parties, Rehearsal Dinner

     

    Part of the wedding planning fun is the events leading up the wedding such as bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, engagement parties and rehearsal dinners. What makes them fun are the games guests play, and the food, but when the people planning these parties are usually in your bridal party, or your parents, they may not have a lot to spend on anything too fancy. But fancy doesn’t always mean better. Here are some great tips for awesome party games and discounts:

     

  • If you do a quick Google search, you can find websites with amazing FREE downloadable game ideas or templates, that all you need is a printer to make.
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  • If you are having a party at a restaurant, ask if they have special rates for parties, or set menus for parties that may bring the cost down.
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  • If the restaurant doesn’t offer any of that and the guests are left ordering off the main menu, ask the restaurant if you can limit the menu by choosing three or four items off that menu, and printing your own menus, this way guests can still get the great food, but you aren’t left covering a bill with 20 guests ordering the lobster or filet mignon.
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    Wedding Planning

     

    It’s impossible to plan a normal day, much less your wedding, without a to-do list or a checklist to make sure you are getting everything you need to get done, done. Here are some tips to help you get through your planning checklist, including checklists themselves:

     

  • Wedding websites are a great way to inform guests about any wedding information you have to share. I highly recommend making one for your wedding, but make sure that you get one that is free AND password protected.
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  • Planning checklists are a must! There are books you can purchase that help you plan every aspect of your day with timelines as to when to get them done, such as sending out invites. However, most bridal magazines will provide these checklists in the back of their publication for FREE. Yes, you still have to pay for the magazine, but a few dollars on a magazine is better than $20 or more on a book or binder. In addition, your wedding venue can provide you with one as well.
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  • If you are crafty and are looking to print your own invitations or anything else that is going to need fonts you can’t find in your standard word processing software, you can find free fonts that you can download that meet the aesthetic you are looking for.
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    RELATED: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING COUPLES OVERLOOK AT WEDDING EXPOS?

     

    Venue Freebies

     

    Your wedding venue is so much more than a place to hold your wedding ceremony or reception, they are an invaluable resource for tons of wedding freebies:

    Photo Credit: Majestic Studios


     

  • When you send out your invitations, your guests need directions on how to get there. While most people just need an address to plug into a GPS, some people may not have a GPS. There’s no need for you to drive the course or figure it out yourself because your venue can provide direction cards for you. You just tell them how many invites you are sending out and they’ll provide you with however many cards you need.
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  • Another thing your venue can provide you with is a seating chart template that you can use to plan your venue space. Write everything out in pencil so that you can change things around or make a bunch of photocopies so that you can make changes…and believe me, there will be changes!
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  • I’m sure you’ve seen really interesting and very personalized escort card for guests on Pinterest, but what you have to remember is that you either have to buy them or spend time making them. What you may not realize is that your venue can provide them form you. If you don’t really care how fancy they are, you can get them for free and all you would need to do is write or print names and table numbers on them.
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  • In addition to escort cards, your venue will also provide you with table numbers, so you don’t need to worry about them at all, unless you want something really personalized
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    Day of Freebies

     

    On your wedding day, you still need one more checklist, and that has everything you need to bring with you on the day of your wedding and your wedding night. There’s more to bring than you think. You can download your free wedding day packing checklist here

     

     
     
     
     

    Miscellaneous Fun Free Stuff

     

    If you are a lover of pop culture and the celebrity scene, you can send extra wedding invitations to your favorite celebrities. Believe it or not, doing this is actually a “thing” and many people love to do this because of the cool keepsakes they get in return. The most popular places to send wedding invitations to are the White House and to specific Disney characters. You can get a special greeting with stamped autographs of the First Family when you send an invite to the White House and from Disney, you can address your invite to your favorite Disney character and get specially signed postcards or trinkets from them. Everyone knows the address for the White House, but if you want to try sending an invite to any character at Disney, the address is Walt Disney World Communications P.O. Box 10040 Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

     

    What free stuff or discounts have you received so far during your wedding planning?

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    Patriotic Wedding Inspiration in the Hudson Valley

    It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is already here! If you are planning a military or 4th of July wedding and are looking for patriotic-themed ideas and inspiration, you are in the right place. We wanted to give you some ideas on what you can do for décor, attire, or photos.

     

    We reached out to Hudson Valley wedding photographers and wedding planners and asked them to share some of their favorite all-American wedding inspiration with you.

     

    Patriotic Walls

     

    You’ll find American pride on walls in several Hudson Valley locations. This styled shoot (1) was taken in the village of Wappingers Falls…

     

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    and this styled shoot (2) was off Main Street in New Paltz.

     

    Photo Credit: Duetimage Photography – Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Military weddings

     

    for military weddings. you really can’t get more patriotic than a wedding at West Point Military Academy.

     

    Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

    Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

    Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     
     
     

    JoAnn Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant at What Dreams Are Made Of in Kingston, has had the pleasure of planning many military weddings over the years, and shared two of her most recent weddings with us.  Captain Matthew & Mrs Nicole Talley who were married this past May. Their ceremony was at The Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the United States Military Academy at West Point with a reception at the West Point Club. “From when she was a little girl,” Provanzano says. “Her dream was to marry a military officer.  The couple’s religion is very important to them, as is the military tradition.” Today, Matt & Nicole now live in the state of Washington.

     

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     
     
     
     

    Lieutenants Charles & Regina Costanzo were married this past April also at The Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity at the United States Military Academy at West Point with a reception at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. “Gina and Charlie are adorable and their love for each other is so beautiful,” says Provanzano. “They went through many obstacles before walking down the aisle.” Just four weeks before the wedding, Gina was told she would be deployed. Thankfully, she was allowed to remain home and have the wedding of her dreams.
     

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made Of

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Patriotic Details

     

    Take some time to watch fireworks…

     

    Photo Credit: Rose Schaller Photo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     
     
     

    or add some red flowers…

     

    Photo Credit: Rose Shaller Photo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     

    or wear some festive attire…

     

    Photo Credit: What Dreams Are Made of

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
     
     
     

    (1)Vendors featured in styled shoot (Wappingers Falls):

    Photography – The Ramsdens (Poughkeepsie)

    Planning – RSVP by B Wedding Coordination (Poughkeepsie)

    Florals – Lucille’s Florals of Fishkill (Fishkill)

    Wedding dress – Betsy Wise Bridal (Beacon)

    Hair and makeup – La Tua Bella (Rhinebeck)

     

    (2)Vendors featured in styled shoot (New Paltz):

    Flowers – Flowers by Elissa (Gardiner)

    Dress – Style des Reves Custom Dressmaking (Accord)

    Hair – Hudson Valley Hair (New Paltz)

    Makeup – LaV Beauty (Ulster Park)

    Bridal Jewelry – Harriet Forman Barrett (New Paltz)

     

    Featured Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

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    Wedding Bands: What You Need To Know If You’ve Never Worn Jewelry

    When it comes to wedding jewelry, the engagement ring gets top prize. The minute an engagement is announced, everyone wants to see “the ring!” However, once guys choose the engagement ring, they also have another important decision to make about jewelry…their own ring.

     

    Believe it or not, men have just as many, if not more, choices when it comes to choosing their wedding band than they do choosing an engagement ring. However, unlike women who are used to frequently wearing jewelry, men don’t usually wear any jewelry. In fact, their wedding band may be the first (and only) piece of jewelry they ever wear.

    Because of this, some men may feel uncomfortable wearing a ring, not because they aren’t proud to be married, but because it physically feels uncomfortable having a piece of metal on your finger. It does feel different and takes some getting used to.

     

    It’s very normal, for men and women, who now have such an important piece of jewelry on their finger all the time to freak out at times and touch their finger to make sure it’s still there. I still do it sometimes, especially in the winter when it’s cold and you’re wearing and taking off gloves all the time.

     

    There are several things to take into consideration when buying a wedding band, and so we asked Hudson Valley jewelers to help guide you through the process:

     

    RELATED: ENGAGEMENT RINGS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEYOND THE 4 ‘C’s

     

    Should I even wear a wedding band?

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    James Matero, co-owner of Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring says “wearing a wedding band is the tradition: ‘With this ring, I thee wed,’ so you want to exchange the rings if you are doing any form of a remotely traditional ceremony.”

     

    If you don’t want to wear a band, make sure that you have that conversation with your spouse-to-be. It can be a very emotional subject to bring up, so make sure that both parties leave the conversation feeling happy about the final choice. Maybe you wear your ring out, but leave it off at home. Maybe you both forgo rings and get tattoo rings. Maybe you just don’t wear a ring at all. Whatever the case, make sure it’s discussed.

     

    “If you’re going to buy a wedding band,” Matero says, “think about it because guys generally don’t wear a lot of rings. This is potentially the first one they’ve worn. Unless they wore a high school ring or a college ring, this is usually the first one. So, they don’t think about what they want in a ring.”

     

    How do I start narrowing down my choices?

     

    Jocelyn Z. Klastow, vice president of Zimmer Brothers Jewelers in Poughkeepsie, says a good way to start is with a budget. Trying on a few different rings is also a good start. “I encourage guys to try every different kind on, kind of like a wedding dress,” she says. “You may have this thing in mind, and when you try it on, you don’t like it. A lot of times they (men) end up with something totally different than what they thought they would choose.
     

    Do you want something classic or trendy? “We are finding that coppery rose-gold accents, along with heavy textured finishes in gold and Damascus Steel are very popular,” says Mateo.
     

    That leads to the next point, which is getting a good feel for the types of metal and design choices available for men’s wedding bands. You can get rings made out of old gun barrels, samurai swords, wood and everything in between. Matero says, “There’s everything from rings that look like a baseball, the stitching, to real tree and mossy oak patterns, there’s alternative metal bands that will hold up to anything, and then there are gold and diamond bands.” He says one of the things you should think about is how and when you are going to wear your ring. “A lot of times you can’t wear it to work: An electrician wearing a metal band on his finger, isn’t exactly safe.”

     

    Is this ring right for me?

     

    First, and foremost, Klastow says it needs to be comfortable. “This is the first piece of jewelry a lot of men will purchase that they are going to wear all the time.” Like I mentioned earlier, it does take a little getting used to, but you want to make sure that it feels good on your finger. Is it heavy? Thick? is it too thin? Does it chafe your finger? You need to have it on for a little while to get a good feel for it. Put your hand in your pocket like you are taking out your phone or your wallet. Does the ring catch on your pocket or does it slip right into the pocket?

     

    Another thing to consider is if you want it to match your spouse-to-be’s ring. Remember, rings are going to be photographed as well. Do you want both rings to be white gold, or are you OK with one being white gold and one being yellow gold or a different color metal?

     

    Lastly, Michael J. Halpy, owner of Hannoush Jewelers in Wappingers Falls, relates back to what Matero says about usage and how you are going to wear it. Halpy recommends taking a look at your lifestyle and finding a metal that matches. “I’m a big proponent of gold or platinum bands and the reason is because it’s a malleable metal that you can work with, so it can be sized, it can be adjusted, soldered if it cracks…it can be fixed without even knowing.” Other metals can’t be sized or altered as easily. Halpy says, “It takes special machinery to make these other rings that are forged in tungsten carbide or titanium or steel and all sorts of other different alternative metals.” If damage happens in a stronger metal, you need to get an entirely new ring, which, presents many issues, one of which being that the sentimentality is gone. Your ring will no longer be your original ring.

     

    Are you going to wear a wedding band? Is there a special metal you’ve had your eye on? If you’ve gotten your wedding band, we’d love to see it to give other guys inspiration.

    Featured Image Photo Credit: Jaymark Jewelers

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    The Right Wedding Planning Help For Your Needs

    When it comes to planning a wedding, each couple has their own set of unique needs. Some couples want to handle it all on their own, which is perfectly fine. Others really struggle with trying to get the vision they have in their head into something real and tangible.
     

    Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle. You can handle most of the planning but just need an extra set of hands to help with the details the day of the wedding or the week leading up to your wedding.
     

    Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “Any couple who feels that they need a little bit of assistance to an enormous amount of assistance should hire a wedding planner.” Though, she says it’s not for every couple or for every wedding. “If you’re having primarily an all-inclusive venue that does pretty much everything,” she says, “that’s usually the person who won’t hire a wedding planner,” However, she says there are exceptions, especially if the couple is doing a lot of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) details, or is having the ceremony at a different venue and moving the party to an all-inclusive afterwards.
     
    RELATED: NOT SURE IF YOU WANT TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER? 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
     

    Whatever your needs are, a wedding planner can help you fully enjoy your day without an ounce of worry or stress. Doesn’t that sound nice?
     

    We spoke to Hudson Valley wedding planners to break down the different types of planning and coordination usually offered, so that you can make an informed decision to choose what type of assistance you need for your wedding…if any.
     

    Full Coordination:

     

    Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

    Full coordination is just that. Wedding planners coordinate almost every aspect with you and are there to hold your hand every step of the way, from venue scouting, to invitations, to favors, and day-of coordination with vendors and staff.
     

    Angela Christoforo, owner, wedding planner and designer at Elite Wedding & Event Planning in Saugerties, says full planning and design is a growing trend in the Hudson Valley. She says couples are having a hard time seeing their whole vision and how things are going to come together the day of the wedding. “They have all these Pinterest boards and all these things they love, but coming up with a cohesive design plan for the wedding is a big challenge for them,” she says.
     

    Full coordination, for Joann Provanzano, owner and certified bridal consultant at What Dreams Are Made Of in Kingston, means “I am available to them (the couple) to do everything with them. I actually hold their hand. We go to appointments together, I am with them as much as they need be to be with them.”
     

    Stark says, “Full planning is where someone walks through the door, and says, ‘I want to get married.’ So we narrow everything down, we figure out date, location, and then continue on with all the other vendors.”
     

    Nellie Hill, event planner and owner of Nellie Hill Events is Hurley, says most couples who book full planning with her usually have the venue booked, but some do not. For those that don’t have a venue picked out, “I help them with a budget to make sure that they are kind of aware of what everything costs, because people usually have no idea,” she says.
     
    RELATED: THE ONE THING THAT WILL RUIN YOUR WEDDING AND 4 WAYS TO PREVENT IT
     

    Partial Coordination/Planning:

     

    Photo Credit: JT Sander Photograhy

    Partial coordination is really what it sounds like: The couple has their venue and maybe some of their vendors, but needs help tying together all the loose ends. Stark says, “Partial planning is when a couple has already found their venue, they already have their wedding date and now they pretty much need everything else. So that can be a very small partial planning or it can be very extensive partial planning, depending upon the location and how many services they need. But that basically is more sight visits, more visits with vendors, contract negotiation, a little bit more extensive hand holding, basically”
     

    Provanzano says, “Maybe they (the couples) need their décor decided on or they haven’t actually put together their invitations yet; maybe they’re looking for ceremony musicians, transportation, things like that.”
     

    Month Of/Week Of/Day Of Coordination:

     

    These are kind of all clumped together because each planner has their own version and calls it something different. It’s important for you to know, that if you book day-of, week-of, or month-of coordination, you should really have an ongoing relationship with your planner before that week, month or day in order for you and them to form a relationship, for your planner to get a good feel for you, your personality, your vision, and for you to have an open line of communication so that if a problem should arise somewhere along the planning process, they can step in and help.
     

    Stark says, “We like to build a relationship; we like to foresee if there’s any problems that way we kind of steer them in the right direction instead of finding out a month before (the wedding) when it’s too late.”
     

    Photo Credit: JT Sander Photography

    Provanzano says, “A week or two before the wedding, I get together with my couple, we try to do a walk through with the venue, we do a timeline of the day, I share that will all of the other vendors, tweak it wherever it’s needed.” She also takes this time to review all vendor contracts so that the day of the wedding, there are no hiccups or issues.
     

    Bianca Hendricks, owner and founder of RSVP By B in Poughkeepsie, says every couple should have a day-of coordinator. She says, “Your wedding isn’t just 8 hours long. It isn’t just the ceremony or just the reception. It’s important to us that each couple, their family, and their friends are all able to relax and enjoy the entire day from the beginning to end!”
     

    Other Planning Services

     

    If you live outside the Hudson Valley and are having a Hudson Valley wedding, you want to make sure that you hire a planner from the Hudson Valley who is familiar with the area, familiar with your venue space, familiar with your vendors, and most importantly is in the area should you need assistance with anything.
     

    If you are a couple planning all aspects of your wedding but just needs someone to check in with to make sure you are on the right track, a virtual wedding planner may be just right for you. Stark says virtual wedding planning “…is for someone who really doesn’t need a lot of hands-on (help), but they want someone to be virtually there – phone, email, Skype, to just be able to organize them, make sure they’re going in the right direction, and be there to answer any kind of questions to relieve their anxiety.”
     

    Are you hiring a wedding planner? If so, what type of coordination are you using? What is the right fit for you?

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    How To Have A Disney-Inspired Hudson Valley Wedding

    Raise your hand if you’re a Disney fan (my hand is raised). Now, if you are, my next question is how many of you, if even for a brief moment, thought of having your wedding at Walt Disney World? I know that was the case for us…for about 5 minutes, until we decided it would be best to have our wedding closer to where all our friends and family live.
     

    Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who felt that way. Teresa Marra from Poughkeepsie, who is also a Disney Travel Planner, had a very similar situation. She and her husband Peter got married in October of last year and says, “We were originally going to get married at Walt Disney World but what swayed us against it the most wasn’t the price tag but knowing that many of our friends and family wouldn’t be able to share our special day with us.”
     

    While having a destination wedding, especially in Walt Disney World, sounds really nice, you also have to consider your budget and your guests. While WDW is not that far from the Hudson Valley (if you fly), for some, it can be too expensive, are just not feasible for your guests to travel long distances to be with you on your special day.
     

    However, if you are a Disney fan, and a Disney wedding is not in your cards, you can have a Disney-inspired wedding right here in the Hudson Valley. Believe it or not, the Hudson Valley actually has several ties to Disney, some you may know of, others you may not. But one thing is certain, you will finish this article with tons of inspiration for your own Disney-inspired wedding. From your engagement to your honeymoon, this is the ultimate guide to having a Disney-inspired wedding in the Hudson Valley.
     

    YOUR ENGAGEMENT

     

    Let’s get “schooled” (pun intended…you’ll see why) on Disney inspiration for your engagement or engagement photos. Engagement photos are a great way to be a little more creative with your photos, and is a great way to incorporate Disney theming, since many times couples use photos from their engagement session on their Save the Dates.
     

    REALTED: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR SAVE THE DATES

     

    Bard College, Annondale-on-Hudson

     

    Photo Courtesy Bard College

    On the banks of the Hudson River, just north of Rhinebeck, lies the historic campus of Bard College that plays a key part in Disney legend. Brothers Richard Sherman (no, not the NFL player) and Robert Sherman graduated from Bard in 1949. Who are the Sherman Brothers, you ask? This brother duo went on to work for the Walt Disney Studios, wrote some of our culture’s most prolific and endearing songs, and wrote more motion-picture musical scores than any other songwriters in the history of film! 
     

    While you might not be familiar with their names, you definitely know their songs. Ever heard of “It’s a Small World (After All)”? Ever see “Mary Poppins”? How about “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, “The Jungle Book”, or “The Aristocats”, just to name a few? They wrote all the song for those movies and many, many more. If your mom or dad ever told you as a kid that a spoonful of sugar will help your medicine go down, you have the Sherman Brothers to thank for that. To learn more about the Sherman brothers and their connection to Bard College, click here 
     

    Photo Courtesy Bard College

    If you’d like to pay homage to the Sherman Brothers or that part of Disney history, how about getting your engagement (or wedding photos) taken on campus? However, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost Bard is a college, and students and academic programs come first. Couples need to remember that at any given time throughout the year, events are going on all over campus. From classes to graduate programs, to conferences, festivals, and camp, there’s always some activity going on and your photo session will not be the only thing happening on campus.
     

    Second, Susanna Armbruster, Coordinator of Summer Programs and Community Resources at Bard College, says, “People who want to have their pictures taken on Bard’s campus need to complete an event request form that I provide directly to them. Once it is determined that the photo shoot does not interfere with Bard’s scheduled activities, we talk about logistics to see if it can work out. Photographers are required to provide a certificate of insurability. Some locations require a fee.” To receive your event request form, or for more information, please email communityrequests@bard.edu
     

    RELATED: HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS SHARE 6 REASONS WHY YOU NEED ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

     

    YOUR WEDDING DAY

     

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

    Since Marra and her husband did not go to WDW for their wedding, they had a Disney-inspired wedding right here in the Hudson Valley, which was truly magical. Disney plays an important role in both their lives. Their first date was going to see Disney’s “Big Hero 6” movie and some of their earliest conversations revolved around Disney and WDW. And they, like yours truly, also got engaged at Disney World.
     

    Marra’s wedding should give you some great inspiration for your own Disney-inspired wedding. I’m saying Disney-inspired instead of Disney-themed for a reason. A Disney-themed wedding, to me, conjures up visions of Disney napkins, paper plates and party hats. A Disney-inspired wedding, which is what Marra had, is very different. Inspired weddings have touches and elements linked to a certain theme without it being overly obvious.
     

    Because of their love of classic WDW attractions and Halloween, their wedding was inspired by the WDW Haunted Mansion attraction (not the movie). “Most of the wedding was heavily influenced by the black and purple wallpaper…the graveyard part of the ride,” says Marra.
     

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Haunted Mansion attraction, it’s one of WDW’s first and most beloved attractions, being there since the gates of WDW opened in 1971. It’s a fun, not too scary attraction, which really has two distinct themes and takes you through 15 very different, fun, and funny rooms. It really has a fantastic back story, but that’s another blog post all on its own.
     

    Marra incorporated elements of this classic attraction into other parts of her her day. “Before everyone walked down the aisle,” she said, “the opening narration when you first entered the ride played and then we walked down the aisle to the song that plays at the beginning of the ride and in the ballroom part (of the attraction).”
     

    Disney wedding dresses

     

    While Marra had a custom-made dress inspired by a vignette in the Haunted Mansion attraction where there are dancing Victorian ghosts in a ballroom, you can purchase your own Disney Princess-inspired wedding dress from designer Alfred Angelo. They are not sold at every store, so you want to make sure you call your local shop to see if they carry that designer label. These princess-inspired dresses, while they embody the spirit of so many Disney princesses, are gorgeous gowns and are in no way costume-y. Princesses featured include Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, Ariel, Elsa, Snow White, Tiana, Mulan, Belle, and of course, Cinderella.
     

    RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY BRIDAL GOWN

     

    Reception

     

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

    Nestled behind Cinderella’s Castle in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom is the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, another one of WDWs iconic and beloved attractions. If you want that same nostalgic feel, Bear Mountain Inn at Bear Mountain State Park has a classic indoor merry-go-round, with 42 finely detailed hand-carved animals. The Merry-go-round Pavilion, as it’s called, can accommodate up to 100 guests for a seated dinner or 150 for a cocktail reception and is where Marra and her husband had their reception.
     

    They also had another unique Haunted Mansion-inspired twist to their reception. “When we were announced during the reception we came out to ‘999 Happy Haunts’ (the grim grinning ghosts song),” she says. That song is one that’s played during a portion of the attraction.
     

    Cake

     

    Photo Credit: The Ramsdens

    It’s no secret that the Hudson Valley is home to some amazing bakeries and confectioneries. Your wedding cake is the perfect place to show a little creativity and your love for Disney. A wedding cake, or groom’s cake, is the perfect canvas to have a little fun. You can have everything from a full-on Cinderella’s castle cake, to a Darth Vader groom’s cake or a subtle hint to your love of Disney with a few Mickey’s thrown in there.

     

    Check out Marra’s cake with little Mickey pumpkins all over it.
     

    Hotel accommodations

     

    You and your guests are going to need some place to spend the night. Did you know that the Residence Inn/Springhill Suites (formerly the Residence Inn) in Fishkill is connected to a very famous Disney movie in a very enchanted way?
     

    All the music for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, the 1991 animated movie and one of Disney’s most beloved films, was written in a conference room (with a rented piano) at the Residence Inn! While the original building is no longer there, the legend lives on. As the story goes, the film’s lyricist, Howard Ashman, who was suffering from AIDS and in severely failing health, needed to stay close to home (which was near Fishkill) while the music for the film was being created. So the rest of his team, which also included composer Alan Menken, flew into town, and went to work creating some of the most beloved and most recognizable Disney music. Isn’t that neat? To learn more click here.
     

    Now, if you were fascinated by that tidbit, wait until you hear this one! I hope you’re sitting down for this. The team was so impressed by the level of customer service they all received at the hotel that they wrote the song “Be Our Guest” in honor of that! Is your mind blown yet? I know mine is!
     

    Photo Courtesy of Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites

    Jerry Culkin, who is the Vice President of Operation for True North Hotel Group, the group that currently manages the Residence Inn/Springhill Suites (and the group that also managed the old Residence Inn) says he heard about the legend of the “Beauty and the Beast” music long before he joined the True North Group at various Marriott meetings and conferences (True North Hotel Group is a franchisee of Marriott, Hilton and others).
     

    “As the story goes,” Culkin says, “the cast and crew were so impressed they wrote a song about the service and hospitality they received that made it into the movie (“Be Our Guest”).  This was per a letter the cast and crew wrote to the hotel saying the song was a tribute to the service and hospitality that was extended to them.  This letter was kept in an awards curio in the gatehouse area which I did see when I first arrived.” Unfortunately, over the years, the hotel changed hands, went under renovation, and the letter sadly disappeared.
     

    However, if you’d like to pay homage to this little piece of Disney legend, and book rooms there for you and/or your guests, Cathy Johnson Sales Manager of the Residence Inn/Springhill Suites, will gladly help. “We are a dual property,” she says, “so typically our wedding blocks are in our SpringHill Suites part of the property.” As for room blocks, “we start blocks at 10 suites and as those suites book we can check availability and add accordingly up to 25 suites total,” says Johnson.
     

    YOUR HONEYMOON

     

    Last, but not least, you need a vacation after your wedding. If having a wedding at WDW isn’t a reality, a WDW honeymoon (otherwise known as a Disneymoon) can be. I can vouch for this since we took a Disneymoon. So, while I know WDW is not Hudson Valley related, you can book your trip with certified WDW vacation planners based in the Hudson Valley.
     

    Why is Walt Disney World a great place for Hudson Valley couples to honeymoon at?

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    Marra, not only had a Disney-inspired wedding, but like I mentioned earlier, is a Travel Planner for It’s All About The Mouse Travel, LLC., and says WDW is the perfect place to go for Hudson Valley residents. “Going to Disney is a fantastic option for Hudson Valley couples,” Marra says. “Florida is a pretty cheap flight from all of our surrounding airports and that doesn’t just mean you’re stuck going to Walt Disney World, many Disney Cruise options disembark from Florida as well.” Actually, some Dinsey cruises even disembark from New York City, if you’re not into the whole flying thing.
     

    “What Hudson Valley residents will really appreciate about Disney is their level of customer service,” Marra says. “So much of the Hudson Valley revolves around tourism that our bar for hospitality is already pretty high and Disney really goes above and beyond when it comes to hospitality.”
     

    Sara Fredericks, travel planner and owner of Dreaming of the Mouse in Kingston, agrees. “I think Disney could be a great way to have a honeymoon from the Hudson Valley,” she says. “Whether you’re flying from Albany, Westchester or Newburgh, the flight is about two hours and 45 minutes, our convenient airports are easy to park at, easy to get through security, and then once you’re at Disney you can have your entire vacation there or it’s a great way, after a few days, to move on to a different vacation.” She says from there, “You could take a quick flight to the Bahamas, you could go to Port Canaveral to board a cruise, you could take a drive to the (Florida) Keys or Miami.”
     

    Walt Disney World is NOT just for kids

     

    Kimberly Elias (who has the perfect name, since Elias was Walt Disney’s middle name), is a Disney Vacation Planner for Endless Travel in Wappingers Falls. She says, “Unlike popular belief that Disney is just for kids, it offers so much for adults to enjoy as well such as excellent restaurants, superb golf courses and even spa services.”
     

    Fredericks says, “For Walt Disney World, there’s lots of activities that you couldn’t even bring kids to: There’s golf (regular golf, not miniature golf), there’s signature dining – now children are welcome but most people don’t bring children because of the cost – signature dining with dress code even,” and let’s not forget about the spas too!
     

    Expert tips on what you need to know before you go…

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    Elias says, “Planning a Disney trip requires a lot of advanced planning and can be very overwhelming. Disney can become the most magical honeymoon, with the help of a Disney Vacation Planner.” Booking through a vacation planner is critical, she says. “If you are interested in a Disney vacation, it is very important to book with an agent who specializes in Disney. Most agents like myself, have a deep love for Disney and love to help others experience the magic of Disney.”
     

    She also says that visiting WDW when school is IN session is a big help. “Try to avoid school vacations such as Christmas and spring break. The parks will be very crowded and without proper planning, will be very difficult to work through.”
     

    Fredericks has some last bits of advice too. “My best advice is the second that you’re even thinking about Disney is to start getting the process started. There’s certain things that need to be booked at certain timelines to ensure availability, such as certain meals, character experiences…at least six months in advance.” She also warns about trying to cram too much into your trip. “Spread it out,” she says. “The (park) tickets gets cheaper, more affordable the more dates you add to them, and you need to schedule rest and relaxation in your days. Going into the parks from open to close for three straight days is a quick way to need a vacation after your vacation.”
     

    Marra has some final thoughts, and one is to treat yourself. “When my husband and I went on our Disneymoon to Walt Disney World we made sure to splurge on stuff we’ve always wanted to do but never could justify spending money on before (at WDW) like a fireworks cruise.” She also agrees with Elias: Having someone else plan your trip is best. “It doesn’t cost any extra to use a Travel Planner,” says Marra, “and they take so much of the burden and stress off of you so why wouldn’t you?”
     

    So, there you have it! The ULTIMATE guide to planning your Disney-inspired Disney wedding, from engagement to honeymoon. Are you having a Disney-inspired wedding? We’d love to know all about it! Are you “Disneymooning?” We’d love to know what you have planned.
     

    To view more of Teresa and Peter’s Disney’s Haunted Mansion inspired wedding at Bear Mountain Inn, check out the gallery below. 

    Featured Photo credit and to all gallery photos: The Ramsdens

     

    Vendors:

    Venue: Merry Go Round Pavilion at Bear Mountain Inn (Bear Mountain)

    Dress: handmade for me by Wedding Dress Fantasy (Teaneck, NJ)

    Flowers (including flower crown): Dark + Diamond (Beacon)

    Photographer: The Ramsdens (Poughkeepsie)

    Jewelry: Copper Fern Designs (Hudson Valley Etsy Shop)

    Hair & Make-up: Hair by Jamie Boo (Newburgh)

     

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    Everything You Need To Know About Your Save The Dates

    If you are getting married next summer, now is the time you should be sending out your Save the Dates (STD for short). Chances are, by now, you’ve been invited to a few weddings and received a STD in the mail, but for those who don’t know, a Save the Date is literally an invitation-type card, trinket or, in some cases, an e-mail or video, informing you that a wedding will be taking place on a certain day, that you are invited, and to expect a formal invitation in the mail closer to the time of the wedding.
     

    RELATED: JUST ENGAGED? 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO
     

    Mailing your Save the Dates is a critical step in your planning process for many reasons. First, it forces you to create a guest list, which is the most important part of the whole planning process even bigger than choosing your date. You need to know who to send them to and your guest list and that number will help you determine the size and scope of your wedding, will help you determine the type of location you want, and the all-important budget. Second, STDs help you choose a date. You can’t send out a Save the Date without a date; that would be pointless.
     

    However, while that does sound like a lot of work, it’s important to get the date and guest list done first. It will help you immensely with the rest of your planning as those are the two things every vendor you speak to will be asking you…when is your wedding and how many people are you inviting. They may ask you where you are having it too, but it’s not as important, yet.
     

    RELATED: 12 WEDDING TRADITIONS YOU CAN SKIP, AND 5 YOU SHOULD KEEP (PART 2)
     

    The good news is, that unlike invitations, STDs don’t need to have anything specific on it other than the date. You really just want your guests to book that date on their calendar. They don’t need to know specifics just yet because they unwritten rule is if you receive an STD, you will be getting a more detailed invitation at some point, at which time, guests can officially accept or decline.
     

    To help you navigate through your Save the Dates, we asked Hudson Valley stationers and graphic designers for their advice:
     

    When should you send out your Save the Dates?

     

    Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

    Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “There is not a universal timeframe for when to send out your Save the Dates,” but he always suggests that as soon as you know your date, let your guests know as soon as possible after that so they can secure that day. ”Keep in mind,” he says, “that you’ll want to give your guests as much notice as possible if your wedding falls around a holiday weekend. This is because people generally plan their vacations or days off from work around holidays and you’ll want to catch them before they make plans; your big day, of course, takes priority!”
     

    Kristal Walden, owner Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, says, “Usually you send out your Save the Dates a year before your date.” However, she says, “If you don’t have a year out, send them out ASAP.”
     

    “We say nine months to a year,” says Amy Eddy, co-owner of Graphic Nature, LLC in Fishkill. “Usually if it’s on a holiday weekend or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, we say a year out.” Sometimes they have couples who come in six months before their wedding and want to send out Save the Dates. At that point, Eddy says, “We say don’t waste your money because in two months time you are going to work on the invitations.” However, she says, if you are in that situation and don’t send Save the Dates, she recommends sending out invitations a little earlier. More on that in the coming weeks.
     

    RELATED: 8 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY AS A WEDDING GUEST
     

    What should be included on a Save the Date?

     

    Photo Credit: Graphic Nature, LLC

    Stephanie McHoul, also co-owner of Graphic Nature, LLC, says, “They’re usually pretty basic. If there’s no photo, first and last name (of the couple) are important, and then they (the couple) usually keep it very vague.” Sometimes they’ll put location in terms of city, usually never a venue name, but if the couple has a wedding website, they’ll include that. This way, guests can visit the website which the couple can update as they get more details or just list all their details at that time.”
     

    Should the Save the Date match the invitation?

     

    Because couples are coming in a year in advance of their wedding to do their Save the Dates, many details of the day are still unknown. Eddy says, ”Half the time they (couples) come here to do Save the Dates and it’s a year out from their wedding and they don’t really have their ‘vision’.” That’s OK. McHoul says, ”It’s nice if it’s complementary…I personally like it when things coordinate without being overly ‘matchy-matchy.’ ” Eddy says, “Most of the time it’s just a big photo with script font, save the date, and it’s very simple so it’s not so themed or specific.” That way it leaves room to design an invite the way you want that’s more specific to your theme or aesthetic once you know it.
     

    Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics

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    12 Wedding traditions you can skip…and 5 you should keep (part 1)

    This is the first part of a two-part series

    I am a bit of a traditionalist. I like the formal celebratory traditions that weddings bring with them…to a point. I do feel some of them are outdated, so my wedding was a nice mix of traditional and non-traditional elements.

    Many couples today may want to mix it up a bit, and forgo some of the traditions their parents or grandparents grew up with, but may feel guilty doing so. I’m here to tell you that it’s OK. Traditions are just that, traditions, not rules. Rules are very different. Rules you have to follow or else you may face consequences. Traditions are just elements passed down through the years, so far passed down that you may not even know why or how they began.

    I’ve been writing about wedding for a long time and I can tell you that in my research, many wedding traditions started centuries ago, so it’s time for a change. Here are some of the traditions you shouldn’t worry about skipping:

    Wedding Tradition: The white gown

     

    Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

    Tradition has it that the bride wears white as a symbol of purity. While history books are unclear really how this trend started, many say Queen Victoria was the first one to popularize white wedding gowns, as that’s what she wore at her wedding in the late 1800s. But many brides, for decades after, even as late as the early 1900s wore colored dresses. So, if you want to buck tradition and go for something not white, feel free. As is, when you shop for wedding dresses, you may end up with a gown that’s not white anyway. White is a very harsh color and washes some people out. You may end up with off white, ivory, or even a blush colored dress.

    Wedding Tradition: Having your father walk you down the aisle

     

    This can be the cause of a lot of stress for some brides. It’s something of daydreams and the moment everyone in attendance waits for, seeing the bride walk down the aisle. However, if a bride doesn’t have a traditional “father” in her life, for whatever reason, it can be a very bittersweet walk. Every family dynamic is different and if you are a bride who, for any given reason, doesn’t have a “father” to walk down the aisle with, choose the person in your life who has been like a father or role model for you, or who helped raise you. Maybe it’s your mother, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, brother, sister, whoever. Maybe you want both your parents to walk you down the aisle, maybe you want to walk down alone or you and your husband-to-be want to walk in together. The choice is up to you, and there’s no wrong decision.

    Wedding Tradition: Having bridal parties

     

    Ok, here’s the sad, unromantic, real truth. The only thing that matters is that you have two witnesses to sign the marriage license. That’s it. So you don’t even have to have a bridal party if you don’t want. Some people just have a Maid of Honor and a Best Man, who serve as the witnesses and hold the bouquet and rings and forgo the bridal party. Some have massive bridal parties (which I don’t think is a good idea for many reasons). Some have Men of Honor and Best Woman (instead of Maid of Honor or Best Man). Again, here, the choice is up to you how you want to handle it, but if you decide to forgo a bridal party all together, that’s fine. Some people might actually be relieved because they don’t want the added stress or expenses that come with the responsibilities of being in a bridal party

    Wedding Tradition: The wedding cake

     

    Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

    Who doesn’t love cake? Actually, more people than you think. Me for one. I’d prefer ice cream cake over real cake any day…especially with extra cookie crunchies in the middle. That being said, everyone has seen photos of family members cutting the cake and feel like they want to carry on that tradition, even if they don’t like cake. And that’s fine. However, if you want to change it up, try cupcakes, or pizza, or even donuts instead. The possibilities are endless if having that formal cake-cutting portrait is something you want to skip

    Wedding Tradition: Throwing the garter and bouquet

     

    In recent conversations I had with Hudson Valley DJs, they say this is one of the fastest disappearing trends they’ve seen. For a variety of factors, couples just aren’t doing it anymore. Couples are waiting longer to get married and may not have many single friends at their reception. Maybe you get embarrassed really easily and don’t want any part of it, because, as we all know, it can get a bit risqué at times. I didn’t have it because of both reasons, and honestly, no one missed it. I felt a little funny at first not doing it, but nobody cared and it gave us more time to dance. Not only that, but if you are on a tight budget, not doing this could save you money becasue you won’t have to buy a garter or a tosser bouquet.

    RELATED: WEDDING RECEPTION TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

    Wedding Tradition: Not seeing each other before the wedding

     

    By now we know this is a tradition that many couples skip and opt for the First Look instead. It has many benefits, but is not for everyone, especially if you love tradition. Doing a first look gives you and your spouse-to-be a private moment alone away from the crowd to quietly see each other before the festivities begin. It helps a lot of couples relieve some of the stress and anxiety they feel prior to the ceremony and lets them relax a bit more once the actual ceremony starts. It has a practical function as well. It allows you and the photographer to get some pictures done and out of the way before the ceremony, freeing up time later in the night.

    Wedding Tradition: Bachelor/bachelorette parties

     

    I feel this tradition slips by the wayside the older the couple are. For example, some couples feel it’s their last “Hurrah” before being “tied down” and do want a big celebration. However, most of my friends, who are in their 30s, have all forgone that tradition or changed it up. If they do have parties, they are more like a round of golf for the guys and a spa day for the girls.

    Wedding Traditions: Wedding registries or bridal showers

     

    Photo Credit: WCHV

    Many couples are living together before they get married, and therefore have everything they need. They don’t register for gifts and will sometimes even ask their guests to not even bring a gift, or instead, ask them to donate to a Honeymoon Fund or a local charity instead. Showers are great for couples who really need a lot of stuff, or perhaps are moving in together after the wedding and want new items that they can call their own.

    RELATED: 7 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CREATE YOUR AWESOME GIFT REGISTRY

     

    Wedding Tradition: Having a flower girl or ring bearer

     

    Just like you don’t have to have a bridal party, you don’t have to have a Flower Girl or Ring Bearer either. Do they make for a cute photo op, absolutely, but you need to look at your guest list, and your family, and see if it’s something you can even do. Maybe there are no kids available or young enough to be given that role, and that’s ok. Maybe you want to have both your grandmothers be the flower girls…that would be so cute. You don’t even have to have both. Maybe you just have someone who can be the ring bearer, maybe you just have someone who can be the flower girl. It’s best to always check with their parents first to see if they think their child could handle the pressure. Sometimes, it’s too much, so don’t stress about this. If you want it, and can make it happen, great. If you can’t that’s OK too.

    Wedding Tradition: Dancing a formal first dance

     

    First dances always make for a great photo op, but many couples struggle to find “their song”, and unless they’ve been a dancer their whole lives, can’t really do much more than what I like to call “the 8th eight grade shuffle”. Many couples choose to take lessons to choreograph a dance, but if that’s not for you don’t worry. The first dance is a great way for the couple to showcase their personality. Everything from the song choice to the type of dance you do. However, It doesn’t have to be a rehearsed, choreographed dance. It can be an upbeat dance to a modern song or even a flash mob. Whatever you choose people are going to love because your personality will shine. Dancing doesn’t come easy for some people, especially when all eyes are on them, so if you are more comfortable doing something fun or even inviting all your guests to dance with you, you can do that. There are no rules.

    Wedding Tradition: Getting married on the half-hour

     

    There is an old superstition that says getting married on the half-hour brings good luck as opposed to getting married on the hour. I have no idea where this superstition comes from, but I remember freaking out a bit when we were told our ceremony at the church had to be at 2 pm because they had confession and mass later that evening. The truth is, you should be getting married at a time that is convenient for you and the venue…half hour or not.

    Wedding Tradition: Walking down the aisle to Wagner’s Bridal Chorus

     

    Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (AKA Here Comes the Bride) has been a traditional wedding song for decades and is usually the song countless brides have walked down the aisle to. However, it does have a sinister context, which, for those in the know, may have an aversion to having it played at their wedding. My mom couldn’t have it played at her wedding. It was in a church, and they forbade it from being played because of where it came from. So what’s the story? It basically boils down to the plotline in the Opera it comes from, Lohengrin, which has elements of paganism, infidelity, murder and tragedy. Yikes! In recent times, the Bridal Chorus is not always used, not for the reason mentioned above, but because brides just want a fresher take on this tradition. Many brides are opting for other traditional classical pieces or more modern songs.

    What wedding traditions did you skip or change? Join us next time when we talk about the 5 traditions that you should consider keeping.

    Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

     

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