Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gateway Clipper Fleet

Celebrate your wedding day with your friends and family on a riverboat cruise, Gateway-Clipper-style! The Gateway Clipper Fleet is one of Pittsburgh's most unique sites for a wedding. The grand riverboats are most popular for hosting receptions, but couples can also arrange on-board ceremonies, which is a cool option.

The idea of a riverboat wedding reception is one of my personal favorites. The Gateway Clipper is just spacious enough for guests to spread out and enjoy themselves, but small enough to be inviting rather than intimidating. Warning: this will encourage mingling.

Enjoy the Pittsburgh skyline as you and your guests celebrate on the Gateway Clipper... beautiful on a starry night. Even if you're not blessed with the best of weather on your wedding day, there is plenty of shelter available.

The dazzling atmosphere of this venue will definitely have guests buzzing with excitement. A personalized DVD is a perfect way to capture the excitement of the night for years to come. Flashbox Wedding Videography provides a compact and portable video kiosk that can conveniently be set up anywhere on the Gateway Clipper during your reception. Guest will be lined up to leave you messages and send you their best wishes! (Tip: place the video kiosk by the bar for more entertaining memories...)

Location: Cruisin' up and down Pittsburgh's Three
Rivers (350 W. Station Square Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219)

Pricing: Call for quote on reception
$1,800 for on-board ceremony

Capacity: Call for approximate capacity for receptions
Seats 200 for ceremony

Atmosphere: Classy, yet high-energy, fun, and unique

Contact: Denise Malley
Ph. 412-355-7965
Fax 412-355-7923

To make planning your reception simple and easy, the Gateway clipper offers several Wedding Packages.

All packages include:

  • 4 hours of boat usage
  • A champagne toast for the bridal party
  • Hors d’oeuvres during Cocktail Hour
  • Commander’s Host Bar
  • Elegant selection of wedding cakes
  • White Linen service
  • Parking for wedding party & guests
  • A Cruise Director to personally attend to your needs
  • For the Bride and Groom, accommodations at the Sheraton Station Square
The package also includes your choice from 4 delicious dinner menus (see Wedding Package Brochure).

Of course, all packages can be tailored to meet your specific needs by the Gateway Clipper's Wedding Specialist.

Other special features (not included in the packages) may include:
  • Additional time to continue cruising
  • Floral Arrangements
  • Ice Carvings
  • Photography
  • Chocolate Fountain Display
  • Videography
  • Audio / Visual Support for your Presentations
  • Upgraded Bar Service
  • One-of-a-kind
  • Beautiful view
  • Easy to plan

  • Let's hope your guests don't get sea.. uh..river-sick

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wedding Thank You Note Etiquette

After you return from your honeymoon, you face one more daunting wedding task: writing thank you notes. Etiquette states that you should send these out within two months of your wedding, but I recommend you do it sooner, while you are still in wedding mode. Make a list of gifts as you open them, and then pick an evening or two to sit down with your husband with a bottle of wine. Split up the list and get writing. The notes can be short, but try to make them as personal as you can.

Recommended resources:

Read our other posts on wedding etiquette by clicking here.

How to Plan a Green Wedding on eHow

Be sure to check out my latest article on eHow, "How to Plan a Green Wedding." It's got lots of great tips on ways to make your wedding more eco-friendly.

You can also find some great green wedding books at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store, and find more information on green weddings throughout the site.

You might also be interested in:
Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors from Beau-coup.

Personalized Wedding Resources

Every wedding should be as unique as the couple getting married. Be sure to put your personal touch on your wedding day by creating a brand, offering unique food and drink or choosing meaningful music.

Recommended resources:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Real Weddings: Choosing a venue and a date

Our first wedding planning task was to find a location for our wedding. We weren't planning a church ceremony, and both agreed we liked the idea of holding the ceremony and reception at the same place. We also looked mostly north of Pittsburgh, since that's where we live.

Some of the place we looked at online:

By looking online and contacting these sites for some more information, we narrowed our choice down to two: The Grand Ballroom and The Atrium. After visits to both, we selected The Atrium.
What we loved about The Atrium was the light, open feel of the whole place. It felt perfect for a summer wedding. Also, David very much liked the idea of an outdoor wedding, but the thought of weather issues scared me. At The Atrium, they offer an indoor greenhouse for ceremonies, as well as an outdoor gazebo. We didn't need to decide until the day of the event which option we would use.

I also loved The Atrium's packages, because they were so affordable and included a lot of things we would have had to pay for elsewhere, like centerpieces. At the same time, there was a good amount of flexibility for things like menu choices.

Now that we had our location, we needed a date. We had decided on a late summer wedding, because I wanted about a year to plan and because all of our brothers were in school out of town. At the time, all of the August dates were already booked but one--and it was on hold. We picked the last weekend in July as a back up, and waited another week before we got the call that August 11 was free. . .and our wedding officially had a date.

Budget Wedding Resources

Having a small budget doesn't mean you can't have a great wedding. Your wedding can be elegant and stylish or modern and chic no matter how much money you have to spend. Just be flexible and keep everything in perspective while planning. Shop for bargains, and eliminate the wedding elements you don't need so you have more money to spend on everything else.

Recommended sites:

Great online resources:
Click here to read all of the wedding budget posts on Perfect Memories.

Green Wedding Resources

Eco-friendly, green weddings are a relatively new trend where brides and grooms make environmentally conscious decisions in planning their weddings. If you are planning a green wedding, look for products (like wedding favors and dresses) that are labeled green or environmentally friendly, and ask companies and vendors about their environmental policies.

Recommended links:

Great online resources:
Click here to read all green wedding entries on Perfect Memories.

How to Plan a Low Budget Wedding on eHow

Check out my latest article on eHow, "How to Plan a Low Budget Wedding." You truly can have a beautiful, elegant and stylish wedding no matter what your budget, and the article shares a few ideas on how to plan a wedding on a budget.

Topics include:

  • Shop Around
  • Be Creative
  • Eliminate the Unnecessary
Read the article here, and find more wedding budget help at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Find great wedding planning books with Perfect Memories

If you are looking for the best books to help you plan your wedding, we can help! Introducing the Perfect Memories Wedding Store, where you'll find our picks for wedding planners, DIY projects, wedding style, etiquette and more.

Visit the Wedding Store today and browse our favorite wedding book titles. And if you have a favorite book you'd like us to add, let us know!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wedding checklists at Real Simple

I'm a huge fan of Real Simple Magazine, and was excited to see that they have a bunch of free wedding checklists on their Web site. You can download everything from a wedding budget worksheet to lists of questions for vendors to recommended shots for your photographer.

Check them out (as well as some other handy checklists and forms) here.

Find more wedding planners & checklists at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New poll: How formal is your wedding?

Weddings range from courthouse ceremonies to backyard barbeques to black-tie balls. Vote in our new poll on the left and tell me, how formal is your wedding?

  • Casual
  • Semi-formal
  • Formal
Check back soon for results!

Get ideas for a chic, stylish wedding with wedding style books from the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Poll results: How many guests are invited to your wedding?

The results of are latest poll are in, and it looks like most of you are having pretty big weddings!

How many guests are invited to your wedding?

  • 0-24 guests: 7 percent
  • 25-74 guests: 14 percent
  • 75-124 guests: 21 percent
  • 125-199 guests: 34 percent
  • 200 or more guests: 24 percent
Thanks for voting and stay tuned for the next poll!

Keep wedding costs in perspective

Friday's New York Times featured an article on "party peer pressure" and the rising costs of celebrations including weddings and bat/bar mitzvahs, written by Alina Tugend. It's a good read if you're trying to plan a wedding on a budget or feel like your wedding costs are spiraling out of control.

Some things I found interesting from the article:

  • Ever notice how when something is for a wedding, it suddenly costs so much more? According to the article, the trend of marketing and price mark-up for weddings began during the Great Depression--go figure. Marketers in the 1930s pushed the idea that "love knows no Depression" on brides and began offering wedding sections in department stores.
  • One of the over-the-top events the author points to was actually an infamous Titanic-themed bat mitzvah in Pittsburgh. Western Pennsylvania isn't exactly known for high-end celebrations like New York and L.A., and this bash in 1998 made national headlines and even inspired a movie.
  • You don't want to look back at your wedding and think "Why did we spend so much money on one day?" Jean Chatzky suggests thinking about your budget in terms of how many days you'd have to work to make that much money. It will definitely put wedding costs in perspective.
You might be interested in:
Amazing Wedding Planning: Save up to 80 percent of your wedding budget!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Real Weddings: Our engagement story

The story of our engagement is really the story of our not engagement.

For our summer vacation, we took a road trip through the Carolinas, with visits to Asheville, Hilton Head and Charleston, plus a stop in Charlotte on the way home for David's cousin's wedding. David brought the ring along on the trip and basically waited for the perfect moment to arrive. It turned out that moment was much more elusive than he thought (as I found out later).

First, he thought he would propose on our first evening in Hilton Head, when we walked down to the beach. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. We only had time to snap a few pictures and then run for a crowded restaurant for shelter.
The next day, we took a sunset dolphin cruise. Before we boarded the boat, David actually snapped a photo of the spot he planned to take me to afterward to propose. Unfortunately (though not for them!), another couple got engaged very publicly on the dolphin cruise that night. Nothing like stealing your thunder.

So then we were off to Charleston. First up, we took a tour of a plantation with oldest landscaped gardens in the country. If I were to pick a place where I thought David might propose before we left on our trip, this would have been it. It was beautiful and secluded--we never saw another person the whole time we wandered around.
Unfortunately, it was also hot. If you've ever been in South Carolina at the end of July, you understand how hot and humid it can be when you're not right on the coast with an ocean breeze. David kept complaining about the heat, and I couldn't figure out why. I found out later he didn't want to propose when he was all sweaty.

Finally, it's our last night and Charleston and more or less our last night of vacation since our final stop was at a family wedding. We had no plans, so we picked a place for dinner out of the hotel guide. After we ate, we drove down to The Battery--the tip of Charleston Peninsula, where rows of historic houses line the Ashley and Cooper Rivers and lead to a pretty park.

By this point, I pretty much suspected that he was going to propose. Still, we walked around for quite a bit. He just couldn't find the perfect spot. As we walked around the beautiful park, he considered the fact that they used to hang people there and whether it was really a spot for a proposal. We walked into a gazebo, but there was a family sitting there (we're both pretty private people and wouldn't want an audience). We head back along the water toward our car, and a group of older men walks about five feet behind us, enjoying a stroll. We stop to let them pass, but they stop too--I could feel how frustrated David was getting.

At last, we make it almost all the way back to our car. We stop along the Cooper River, across the street from these gorgeous historic homes, finally alone. David starts his proposal. I don't remember what he said--he said later he had a speech planned but forgot it all--but it was beautiful. He got down on one knee and presented a beautiful princess-cut diamond solitaire that he had selected himself. I, of course, said "Yes!"
As it turned out, some people did walk by after he started the proposal, but he was so focused on me, he didn't even notice. It was perfect and beautiful and happened in the city we loved most from our trip--Charleston.

You might be interested in:
Romantics Guide To Popping The Question - 101 Marriage Propsal Stories.

Leading Book On Marriage Proposals. Tips, Ideas And 101 Real Life Stories Of Engagements.
By Michael Webb, Oprah's Romance Expert.

Get help planning your wedding with wedding planners & checklists at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Three great online invite sites: Pingg

This online invitation Web site offers a comprehensive invitation solution: send invites via email, snail mail, text message and social networking sites. The site features modern, stylish invitation designs. Some of the special features available for the invitation include:

Integrated Options: Not all of your guests may be Web savvy, so send them a postcard version of your online invitation. Connect with your more modern friends by sending them a text or connecting the event to Facebook.

Event Fund: If your guests are pitching in, they can use PayPal to send you dough for the party--perfect for bachelorette parties and more.

Registry Information: You can add a link to an Wish List or to Changing The Present (a great option if you'd like your guests to donate to a charity of your choice in lieu of gifts) on your invitation.

The site also allows you to upload photos and videos, and let your guests do so if you choose. Pingg gives you all the tools you need to manage your event and guest list, from tracking RSVPs to exporting lists to adding event news.

Don't miss my reviews of two other online invitation sites: MyPunchbowl and Evite.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New poll: How many guests are invited to your wedding?

Are you having a big or a small wedding? Intimate gathering or huge party? Vote in our latest poll on the left sidebar, and tell us, how many guests are invited to you wedding?

  • 0 to 24 guests
  • 25-74 guests
  • 75-124 guests
  • 125-199 guests
  • 200 or more guests
Check back soon for the results!

Poll results: What's your main wedding flower?

The results are complete from our latest poll. Take a look at what flowers brides are using today:

What's your main wedding flower?

  • Roses: 27 percent
  • Calla Lillies 27 percent
  • Other: 17 percent
  • Hydrangeas: 15 percent
  • Daisies: 10 percent
  • Tulips: 4 percent
Thanks for voting, and stay tuned for our next poll!

Three great online invite sites: MyPunchbowl

This online invitation Web site features a streamlined approach to creating event invitations. With modern, clean designs to choose from, you can send save-the-date emails and online invitations to your guests in style. Some of the special features available for the invitation include:

Potluck and Party Supplies: Add a list of items you would like guests to bring to the event, and as guests check items off, the invite automatically updates what is still needed. You can also create a master list for yourself to keep track of what you need to buy, and find local party stores with a built-in search.

Registry Information: You can add a link to an Wish List on your invitation. This is not the most wedding-friendly feature, but could be ideal for other parties, like birthdays.

After Party: After the event, invite your guests back to the MyPunchbowl to chat about the party and share photos and videos with each other. It's a good, easy way for all your guests to connect.

You'll also find party planning advice via articles on the site. A "Reasons to Party" list lets you find any excuse to host a get-together. Most impressive, a widget powered by Kayak allows you to search for flights and hotels, perfect for out-of-town events.

Don't miss my reviews of two other online invitation sites: Pingg and Evite.

Having trouble paring down the guest list?

One of the major struggles many couples have when planning their wedding is deciding who to invite--and more importantly, who not to invite. While many of us would love to be able to invite everyone we know, budget and space constraints usually make that impossible.

Add in the fact that the bride, groom and two sets of parents (possibly more) each have their own ideas about who should be on the guest list and the chance for controversy is pretty high. Earlier this month, CNN published a story with a solution for sorting this out: a ten-question quiz.

Guests who would score 60 percent or higher receive an invitation. 50 percent or below don't make the cut. Those in the 50-60 percent range are delegated to the "B List."

I think a quiz like this is a good idea for families struggling with the invitation list, but the questions may not be right for everyone. Try to come up with your own list of questions that make sense for you situation.

Answer all of your wedding etiquette & tradition questions with books from the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perfect Memories featured in list of Top 100 Wedding Blogs

I'm pleased to announce that Perfect Memories Wedding Blog was recently included in a list of the Top 100 Wedding Planning Blogs.

Check it out to see more--there are some great resources on that list.

Thanks for reading the blog, and keep coming back for more wedding ideas and inspiration.

Monday, July 7, 2008

New poll: What's your main wedding flower?

Between bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnières, altar arrangements and more, chances are you'll be using a lot of flowers on your big day. But one is the one bloom that is the focus of your wedding floral arrangements?

Vote in the poll in the left sidebar and tell me, what's your main wedding flower?

  • Roses
  • Calla Lilies
  • Daisies
  • Hydrangeas
  • Tulips
  • Other
Check back soon for results!

Poll results: What silhouette is your wedding dress?

Here are the results from our last poll:

What silhouette is your wedding dress?

  • A-line: 48 percent
  • Mermaid: 24 percent
  • Ball Gown: 14 percent
  • Sheath: 14 percent
Thanks for voting, and stay tuned for our next poll!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A guide to wedding registries

CNN and MyHomeIdeas had a great article with seven things to avoid when registering for wedding gifts. Picking out items for your married life can easily become overwhelming and stressful for a potential bride and groom. Keep these tips in mind to make the process easy.

Check out the seven registry don'ts from the article below, with my additional advice to make registering for gifts a breeze:

  1. "Don't overthink the process." And don't feel like you have to make every decision on your first visit to the store. You can always take things off and add things on a future visit, or make changes online (which most stores will let you do). It's also a good idea to revisit the registry after your bridal shower to make any additions or changes before the big day.

  2. "Don't forget about the groom." This one's different for every couple. Some grooms (like my husband) want to be there picking things out too, and others won't give you their opinion if you drag it out of them. At least be sure to ask you fiance to participate in selection, and if he doesn't want to, try to keep his tastes in mind when you pick things out.

  3. "But...don't go it alone." This is a great tip. If your fiance does not want to come, bring along a relative or friend who does. You'll be holding a scanner, a checklist, your purse, etc. while navigating a potentially crowded store. It can get tiring, plus it's helpful to have someone to share opinions about your choices.

  4. "Don't register at every store under the sun." Personally, I think two or three registries are a good number. If you have guests around the country, try to make at least one of those choices a national chain (or at least one that has an online shopping option). If you want to include something like a honeymoon registry, consider also registering at a traditional store for at least a few items for your more traditional guests.

  5. "Don't be afraid to work the system." Many stores offer up front benefits for registering, but they may not tell you about all of the possible deals out there (like registering for a certain set of pans and getting a free saucepan). Don't be afraid to ask!

  6. "Don't keep the gifts you really don't want or need." My advice here is "don't register for them." If your mom is insisting that you need to register for 12 place settings of fine china, and you know you won't use it, then don't put it on your registry. Of course, you may change your mind about things, so feel free to edit the registry or return gifts. Plus, you may get some things you didn't register for...if you don't want it, you should definitely return it!

  7. "Don't return gifts one at a time." First, be sure to find out the return policies of stores where you register. Some places will take items on your registry back without a receipt, others may require a gift receipt and/or a return within a certain number of days. Definitely try to consolidate your trips to make returns, but make sure you're within any required timeframes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Three great online invite sites: Evite

Paper invitations may still be the most popular route (as well as the most traditional and formal) for weddings, but with all of the other wedding-related events, electronic invites can play a part: for engagement parties, save-the-dates, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, post-wedding brunches and more. Plus, more and more couples are using online invites for the big day, because they want a more casual wedding, want to be a little more green or just want to save some money.

Web sites offering free online invitations have existed for years now, but the features they offer continue to improve. In my next three posts, I'll take a look at three of my favorites.

This online invitation Web site has been around since 1998, which has given the company a lot of time to perfect its product. Evite offers a large amount of deigns to choose from within each theme, and you can even create a custom invitation by uploading your own images and choosing your colors. Some of the special features available for the invitation include:

Potluck, Supplies and Cash: Add a list of items you would like guests to bring to the event, and as guests check items off, the invite automatically updates what is still needed. You can also request payment from guests to contribute to the party fund.

Polls and Suggestions: Get input from your guests by adding a poll (e.g. Where should we go first for drinks?) or by asking them to suggest a date or time.

Registry Information: Integrated with, you can choose to add links directly to your wedding registries. Or, add a link to's search tool and let guests find it themselves.

Plus, Evite gives you more than just an invitation tool. The site also wants to help you plan your party. Poke around on Evite and you will find:

  • Theme ideas
  • Planning checklists
  • Budget and drink calculators
  • Recipes
  • eCards
Evite's newest feature offers mobile phone integration with its online invitations. You can now send text message invites, forward invite details to your own phone and more.

Don't miss my reviews of two other online invitation sites: Pingg and My Punchbowl.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Favorite Wedding Movie Moments

Over at IDoSugar, BuzzSugar posted her top five wedding moments from the big screen last week, including Princess Bride, Coming to America, Sixteen Candles, Father of the Bride and this great scene from Love Actually:

Take a look at her list and tell me, what other movies feature your favorite wedding scenes? Personally, I am a fan of Sweet Home Alabama, with its super fancy botched ceremony ending in a punch followed by the down home reception at the bar. . .and the happy couple arriving in handcuffs.

Comment below and share your favorites!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Advice for young flower girls has a great article on how to avoid flower girl meltdown. Check it out for some tips on dealing with the youngest members of your bridal party.
My advice when it comes to young flower girls and ring bearers is to not have any expectations, especially with little ones under the age of five. Be prepared for the fact that they may not make it down the aisle or may have a fit of shyness or throw a temper tantrum. But no matter what they do, your guests will oooh and aaah at them for the cute and adorable kids that they are.

Young attendants do not always lead to issues, just the possibility of them. I recently coordinated a wedding with three flower girls and one ring bearer, all under the age of five (plus an eight-year-old ring bearer). The youngest flower girl was not even two yet, and for the couple of hours before the ceremony, was very fussy and crying, especially after her dress was on. The bride had pretty much decided that this little one wouldn't be making the walk down the aisle, but when the ceremony started, all five children made it down the aisle (and back), to the cheers of all of the guests.

New poll: What silhouette is your wedding dress?

Vote in the poll on the left sidebar and tell me, what silhouette is your wedding dress?

  • A-line
  • Ball Gown
  • Sheath
  • Mermaid
  • Princess
  • Other
Be sure to check back soon for results!

Poll results: Who chose your engagement ring?

The results of our latest poll are in, and it looks like while the majority of your fiances went the traditional route by surprising you with a ring, 40 percent of you played a role in selecting your own engagement ring.

Brides, who chose your engagement ring?

  • He did: 60 percent
  • I did: 10 percent
  • We did, before the proposal: 18 percent
  • We did, after the proposal: 12 percent
Thanks for voting and check back soon for a new poll!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Perfect Memories featured on Alltop Weddings

Perfect Memories Wedding Blog is now featured on Alltop Weddings! This site features RSS feeds from some of the best wedding planning blogs around the Web. Take a look to keep on top of all of your favorite wedding blogs.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pittsburgh flair: Eat 'n Park Smiley Cookies

If you're looking for a great Pittsburgh-inspired wedding favor, look no further than the Eat 'n Park Smiley Cookie. Whether you're getting married in Western Pennsylvania or are a couple from the 'Burgh saying your vows elsewhere, it's easy (and pretty affordable) to add this sweet treat to your big day.

Of course if you're in Pittsburgh, you can stop into any Eat 'n Park to pick up the local treat. But now you can also order the cookies online to be delivered anywhere. Plus, the Web site let you design your own cookie, so you can customize the smiling faces to match your wedding colors, whether they're blue and orange or black and gold:
While the cookies would make a great favor at your wedding reception, they'd also be a great item to include in out-of-town welcome baskets for your guests. Visit Eat 'n Park's online store for all the details.

New poll: Brides, who chose your engagment ring?

The traditional surprise proposal with a ring chosen by the groom isn't necessary the tradition any more. Some future brides and grooms shop for a ring together before the proposal, and others hold off the ring shopping until the after the "Will you?" and the "Yes!"

Vote on the poll on the left sidebar and tell me, who selected the sparkly engagement ring on your finger?

  • He did.
  • I did.
  • We did, before the proposal.
  • We did, after the proposal.

Poll results: Are you more likely to buy a product that's labeled "environmentally friendly?"

Wrapping up our "Go Green For April" series on both green weddings and green living advice, let's look at the results from our last poll:

Are you more likely to purchase a product that is labeled "environmentally friendly?"

  • Yes: 67 percent
  • No: 33 percent
Check back soon for our next poll!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Green Wedding Tip #5: Reuse, Reuse, Reuse!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Time for another Green Wedding Tip.

Part of "living green" is being less wasteful, and weddings are traditionally big on the "waste" factor. So many of the items we purchase for the ceremony and reception are used just for one day, and then stored in a closet or perhaps even thrown away.

As you plan your wedding, think about things you can use that have already had a life. Perhaps you can borrow reception decorations from a friend, or buy a wedding dress that's already been worn. Most of the items you can purchase new, you can also find used, likely for a much lower price.

Then after the big day, look at all of the items you have from your wedding and think about what can be reused. Some things might find another life within your own home--that frame you used to hold the bar menu can hold a print from your honeymoon. Other things you may be able to sell to other brides for use in their own weddings. And finally, you can always donate items, from wedding dresses to decor. Your wedding memories will be sure to find an appreciative new home.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green Living Tip #2: Window Management

Obviously, installing energy-efficient windows that don't allow cold air (or hot air) to pass through the seams will reduce the energy required to heat an cool your home. And if you can't afford to upgrade your windows, check out these tips for weather-proofing your home.

But beyond the window itself, you can manage your energy use through these window covering tips:

  • In the colder months, leave your blinds or curtains open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home. At night, close them to prevent the extra cold air from seeping in.
  • In the summer, think the opposite. Drawing your blinds during the day will keep your home cooler--and white blinds do the job best, as they reflect the light.

New poll: Are you more likely to puchase a product that is labeled "environmentally friendly?"

Continuing on our "green" theme for the month of April, in our next poll let's take a look at some of our "green living" habits. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, manufacturers are following suit with more environmentally-friendly products: from cars to detergents to paper towels.

When you're making your purchasing decisions, does the product's environmental impact factor into your buying selection? If you're in the supermarket choosing between two similar products, and one is labeled as "earth friendly," which one do you buy?

Vote in the poll in the left sidebar and tell me, are you more likely to purchase a product that is labeled "environmentally friendly?"

Poll results: Is your wedding eco-friendly?

The results of our latest poll are in, and it looks like, at least among Perfect Memories Wedding Blog readers, green weddings are still just a trend that a lot of you aren't ready to embrace. But even if you don't want to plan a completely green wedding, there's a lot of simple things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your ceremony and reception. Check out all of our posts on green weddings for ideas.

Is your wedding eco-friendly?

  • Yes! Totally green: 25 percent
  • Yes, where we can: 0 percent
  • A little bit, but not on purpose: 25 percent
  • No, not at all: 50 percent
Stay tuned for our next environmental poll, coming up shortly.

Plan an eco-friendly wedding with green wedding books from the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Green Wedding Tip #4: Natural lighting

A daytime wedding will require less lighting, and thus less electricity, and be much more environmentally friendly. But if you're planning an evening affair, you can still reduce your energy impact by using candles to light your event.

Besides saving on electricity for your green wedding, candles can had a romantic, intimate feel to your ceremony and reception. Choose soy candles for an eco-friendly glow.

Find more green wedding advice at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Green Wedding Tip #3: Buy locally

Another way to reduce your wedding's carbon footprint is to purchase items and hire vendors locally. The closer vendors are to you and your wedding venue, the less environmental impact they will have, using less fuel to travel to your ceremony and reception. The same goes for purchased items, such as invitations, cake toppers and decorations. Buying wedding goods from a local store eliminates the need for shipping, which uses both fuel and packing materials that wouldn't otherwise be necessary.

Also, even if you hire a local florist, think about the types of flowers you are using in your bouquets, centerpieces and other decor. If the flowers aren't in season locally, they'll need to be shipped in from somewhere else.


News Roundup: A look at wedding trends

As I was browsing some online articles from the last month or so, I noticed a lot of stories dealing with trends. Whether promoting them or refuting them, these articles give a look at what's hot now in wedding ideas, as well as examine some more social trends in weddings. Here are a few stories to check out:

Get help planning your wedding with wedding planners & checklists at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Green Wedding Tip #2: Skip the styrofoam

Make your wedding more green and serve dinner with real china and flatware at your reception. Plastic, paper and Styrofoam cups, plates, napkins and flatware create more waste and some of it is not biodegradable.

By using china, real flatware or silverware and linen napkins, you're using products that can be used again and again at other events. Plus, it will give your wedding a more classy, elegant feel.

Find more green wedding advice at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pittsburgh flair: Capture your wedding memories with FlashBox

Ever wish you had a better way to remember all of the guests at your wedding? Something other than fuzzy photos or stammering best wishes as the videographer makes his way around the room during dinner?
Check out FlashBox Media, a new and innovative product, and an alternative to a Pittsburgh wedding videographer, that's sure to be the talk of any event. A FlashBox Video Kiosk is set up at your wedding reception, and your guests can approach it at any time to record their messages when they are ready to do so. This results in video clips that are personal, heartfelt, funny and sweet, creating a unique keepsake for years to come.

And FlashBox is something you'll find only in Pittsburgh. A team of Carnegie Mellon graduates developed the technology, and the service is currently only available to events in Western Pennsylvania. No other brides in the country can have this at their wedding receptions.

At your reception, a FlashBox director will monitor the kiosk throughout the evening, encouraging your guests to record a message and assisting them in doing so. Guests can share a favorite memory or embarrassing moment, sing a song, give marriage advice or even perform a skit.

Then, after the wedding, comes the best part! The team at FlashBox will professionally edit the video footage and can even integrate still photos from your wedding. Network-TV caliber computer graphics give your video the look of a television show produced in Hollywood. You'll receive the finished DVD with a personalized keepsake case.

Visit FlashBox's Web site to view sample videos and learn more. And be sure to click on the KDKA icon to see the kiosk featured on Pittsburgh Today Live.

Green Wedding Tip #1: Paperless Announcements

Help the environment out and save a few trees as you send out information about your wedding. You might not be ready to skip a paper wedding invitation, but some other typical wedding correspondence can certainly be done paper-free:

  • Use eCards to send important announcements. When it comes to announcing your engagement, sending save-the-dates or inviting guest to pre-wedding activities like showers and rehearsal dinners, email a card to your friends and family instead. Check out sites like Evite and The Knot (requires login) for free tools.

  • Create a Web site to organize the details. Posting everything from directions to hotel accommodations to registry information on a Web site eliminates the number of inserts needed for your wedding invitations. Wedding planning sites like The Knot and Wedding Channel (requires login) offer free templates, or you can get a custom URL and a more personalized design from sites like Nearlyweds! and Wedding Tracker for a modest fee.

    You may also be interested in:
    Plan an eco-friendly wedding with green wedding books from the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

    Find Eco-Friendly Wedding Favors from Beau-coup.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

IDoSugar: Get addicted

I was so excited to read yesterday that my new favorite site, The Sugar Network, announced the return of IDoSugar for the height of wedding season.

The Sugar Network features 15 lifestyle and entertainment blogs for women, and is also a social networking site. What I love most about their IDoSugar (which, according to the site, they published during last year's wedding season as well) is that it features entries about weddings from the different perspectives of the Sugar editors. So SavvySugar may add a post about budgets, BellaSugar about wedding day beauty, BuzzSugar about TV weddings, PetSugar about involving your furry friends and so on (for a complete list of the Sugar sites, visit TeamSugar).

I'm excited to see all of the content and ideas they share over the next few months. In the meantime, check out the site!

Green Living Tip #1: Energy-saving Light Bulbs

As the current light bulbs in your home burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use less energy, which helps the environment, and also helps save you money on your electric bill. Also, these bulbs last much longer than the regular variety, so you won't need to replace them as often. Look for bulbs labeled "Energy Star."

According to Energy Star's Web site (part of the EPA and Department of Energy):

"If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars."
Visit Energy Star for more information about these bulbs.

Bonus tip: Looking for an excuse to buy that flat screen TV? According to this article from the Scripps Howard News Service, an LCD flat panel television uses less energy than the older, bulkier varieties. But choose LCD or rear projection over a plasma, as the former two use less than half the energy as the latter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Going "Green" for April

One of the biggest trends in weddings right now is green weddings. No, not the color--the environment. As the country becomes more and more environmentally conscious, brides and wedding planners are following suit.

For the entire month of April, Perfect Memories is going "green" too. The green text and color will appear throughout the blog as a reminder to "think green." Then, in addition to regular entries, we'll be featuring some special content:

  • Green Wedding Tips: Tune in Mondays and Fridays for quick and easy ideas on making your wedding more environmentally friendly.
  • Green Living Tips: On Wednesdays, I'll feature an idea for being more eco-conscious in your every day life.
  • Eco-themed Polls: Starting with this week's poll, you'll be able to cast your vote on green questions.
  • Special Guest Blogs: Look for entries from environmental experts and enthusiasts.
To find all of the green wedding content on the blog, just click the green weddings label.

Find more green wedding advice at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

New poll: Is your wedding eco-friendly?

Being "green" is a big issue today, and more and more brides and grooms are choosing to consider the environment when planning their weddings. I'm curious to see how much of an impact the environment has had on your wedding plans. Vote on the poll on the left sidebar and let me know:

Is your wedding eco-friendly?

  • Yes! Totally green.
  • Yes, where we can.
  • A little bit, but not on purpose.
  • No, not at all.

Poll results: What's your wedding budget?

In our last poll, I asked you to share your wedding budget. While the average wedding costs nearly $30,000 in the U.S., I felt that average number in the Pittsburgh region was likely substantially lower. Based on the poll results, that seems to be true:

What's your wedding budget?

  • Less than $10,000: 42 percent
  • $10,000-$19,999: 9 percent
  • $20,000-$29,999: 25 percent
  • $30,000-$39,999: 12 percent
  • $40,000 or more: 12 percent
That adds up to 76 percent of weddings for the poll with a budget under $30,000. Of course, "averages" can be greatly skewed by the extremes, and if there are a handful of people out there spending a few hundred thousand dollars on their wedding, the average may be right on. What these results show is that the "typical" Pittsburgh wedding may actually have a budget of less than $10,000.

For budget-friendly wedding ideas, browse through our posts tagged with "budget," and come back to the blog soon for more money-saving tips.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Fab 5: Spring Wedding Favors

It may not feel like it outside yet. . .but it is finally spring! Let's welcome in the sunshine and warmth with a look at five fun, unique wedding favor ideas for spring.

  1. Miniature Watering Cans

    How cute! These little watering tins make a perfect (and affordable) favor for a spring wedding. Fill them with candy or a small blossom or two.
    Favor and image from Beau Coup

  2. Calla Lily Bottle Stopper

    Give your guests a spring favor that they can use at home whenever they open a bottle of wine. The painted flower wine bottle stopper comes in a box that looks like a planter.
    Favor and image from Lilies

  3. Butterfly Candle Holder

    This silver, whimsical butterfly candle holder serves two purposes: it can add romantic light to your reception (and be reused at home by your guests) and can be used as a placetag holder too!
    Favor and image from Favors By Serendipity

  4. Cherry Blossom Fans

    As the weather warms up, keep your guests cool with these cherry blossom silk hand fans as favors. They are painted with a delicate and elegant blossom design.
    Favor and image from Beau Coup

  5. Hand Painted Vases

    These glass bud vases are hand painted and sure to be a memorable favor at your wedding. Each order of four includes four different floral designs.
    Favor and image from Hanson Ellis


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New poll: What's your wedding budget?

Vote in our newest poll on the left sidebar and tell us what your wedding budget is. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is nearing $30,000, but I think that number is quite a bit lower in the Pittsburgh area.

What's your wedding budget?

  • Less than $10,000
  • $10,000-$19,999
  • $20,000-$29,999
  • $30,000-$39,999
  • $40,000 or more
Vote to the left, and when the results are in, I'll share some of my favorite budget-friendly tips.

Poll results: When is your wedding?

Thanks to everyone who voted in our latest poll. Looks like summer is still the season of choice for weddings, but fall is definitely gaining ground!

When is your wedding?

  • Summer: 40 percent
  • Fall: 28 percent
  • Spring: 16 percent
  • Winter: 16 percent

Monday, March 10, 2008

Colorful signature cocktails

Choosing a signature cocktail is a great way to personalize your wedding reception, and picking a drink that's color matches your wedding is a great idea. Absolut's Web site can help you find the cocktail recipe that is perfect for you, with their color picker on the right sidebar.

This drink recipe tool is one of the best I've seen, and it's not just for drinks made with Absolut vodka. You can find tons of cocktails made with gin, rum, tequila, whiskey and brandy as well, to help you plan your entire alcoholic drink menu.

And the volume of recipes is impressive. Click on "Blue Drinks" (perfect for a "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue" specialty cocktail) and you'll discover 245 choices. "Red Drinks" will you give you 2,476 options--happily, the drinks are sorted by rank, to help you pick the best ones.

Image from Absolut

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New poll: When is your wedding?

Traditionally, summer has been the season for weddings, but in the Pittsburgh area, fall weddings seem to be gaining more and more popularity. Vote in the poll on the left sidebar and tell me what season your wedding is in:

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter

Poll results: How long is your engagement?

Here are the results from our latest poll, "How long is your engagement?" The votes were incredibly even this time. . .it seems that, at least among Perfect Memories readers, the average engagement period of 15 months is a result of a very spread out range, not of most people being engaged for 12-18 months.

The results:

  • Less than six months: 17 percent
  • Six to 11 months: 23 percent
  • 12 to 17 months: 20 percent
  • 18 to 23 months: 17 percent
  • 24 months or longer: 23 percent
Thanks for voting, and stay tuned for our next poll!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Area couple on Friday night's "My Big Redneck Wedding"

Tune into CMT tomorrow night at 9 p.m. for the season finale of "My Big Redneck Wedding." The episode features a Westmoreland County couple, Kelli and Ron, who get married at a demolition derby.

If you haven't seen the show before, it features somewhat outrageous, rural weddings--no doubt made more outrageous with the assistance of the TV network. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kelli and Ron were planning a justice of the peace wedding before CMT contacted them for the show after hearing Ron suggest his demolition derby idea on a radio talk show.

Tune in Friday and then stop back to share your comments about the show.

Pittsburgh flair: The cookie table

"No Pittsburgh wedding is complete without one." You can find a cookie table at nearly every wedding in Western Pennsylvania: a long buffet table filed with trays and trays of sweet treats. Many local reception venues even include the table for cookies in their packages, offering to "tray your cookies" for you.

While we like to consider this a Pittsburgh tradition, historical research shows that the cookie table may have actually originated in nearby Youngstown, Ohio. Several other regions across the U.S. indulge in the cookie buffet as well, but nowhere so predominantly as Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Traditionally, female relatives of the bride all pitch in and bake dozens and dozens of homemade cookies in several varieties before the big day. You can also order the cookies from a local bakery, or mix it up with a combination of homemade and bakery treats.

Give your cookie table a modern twist and combine it with a current national trend, the candy buffet. Pair trays of cookies with bowls of candy and provide bags for guests to create their own favor to take home. Or, go for a different look and serve the cookies out of clear cookie jars instead of tray. Hang a tag from each jar identifying the type and the baker (e.g. "Grandma's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies."

If you're getting married in Pittsburgh, many of your local guests will expect to find cookies at the reception. But your out-of-town guests may be clueless about the tradition. If you want to give them a local history lesson, clue them in with a simple sign explaining the cookie table. In my experience, most out-of-towners are delighted by the idea (case in point, the picture below of an out-of-town college friend of the bride and groom, who went a little too crazy over the cookies).
No matter how you choose to include the cookie table on your wedding day, it is an old-time tradition that will never get old.

Images, from top: Shout Youngstown, Design Mom, Perfect Memories
Sources: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wikipedia, Miami University of Ohio

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fab 5: Spring invitation finds

I don't know about this rest of you, but I am ready for spring! Let's skip ahead a month or two and pretend the sunshine and flowers have arrived. Take a look at these five beautiful invitations, perfect for a spring wedding:

  1. Delicate Cherry Blossoms

    This wedding invitation features a sweet cherry blossom design in light pink and brown.
    Cherry Blossom Invitation Suite from Epherma

  2. Love is in the Air

    A modern design in shades of turquoise, orange and yellow showcases a happy springtime treat: the return of birds who have flown south for the winter. Add your photo to this invitation for extra personalization.
    Love Birds from blue skies and daisies

  3. More Spring Blooms

    This sage and chocolate wedding invitation offers a clean, modern look with abstract flowers decorating the corner.
    Dandelion Wedding Invitations from Wedding Paper Divas

  4. Return of Sunshine

    The mix of yellow and red flowers at the top of this letterpress invitation envokes more than blooming flowers: it feels like sunshine.
    Floweret by Maura Gauthier from Bella Figura

  5. Blue Skies

    This sky blue wedding invitation features a contemporary circles design in blue and bold red.
    Saucy from Tag & Co.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bridal competition, right here in Pittsburgh

If you happened to walk by PPG Place downtown yesterday, you might have seen a couple dozen brides in wedding gowns stuffing their faces with wedding cake and "champagne."

CoverGirl hosted a competition for 22 brides-to-be, who raced through a wedding-themed obstacle course that challenged the durability of the company's Outlast makeup collection. The women donned wedding dresses over their street clothes and chowed down on a piece of wedding cake and a glass of apple juice to win the prize. Read more and watch the video at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sign up for our new eNewsletter: Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings

You can now receive wedding ideas from Perfect Memories right in your email inbox. Sign up for our new wedding planning e-newsletter, "Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings," and receive free, customized wedding advice. Each month, you'll receive articles and tips related to your stage in the wedding planning process: from choosing your reception venue to picking your dress and from hiring a florist to deciding on your first dance song.

You'll also be the first to know about special promotions, contests and announcements from Perfect Memories.

Click here to start receiving "Perfect Memories, Perfect Pittsburgh Weddings" today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PSA for wedding planners: Scam alert

In addition to brides and grooms, I know a lot of wedding planners and vendors tune in to the Perfect Memories Blog. Today, I'd like to take a moment to warn them to be alert for email scams targeting wedding planners.

Similar to schemes targeting photographers and other consumers, this current scheme has been going on for at least the past few months and basically involves sending in a cashiers check for an amount greater than what you've billed them--and then asking you transfer the extra money elsewhere. The cashiers check clears into your account quickly, you transfer them the money, and weeks later your bank realizes the check was a fraud and deducts the amount from your account.

I received this scam just last week, and it immediately raised suspicions though I couldn't prove it was indeed a scam right away. A bride-to-be contacts you from somewhere in Europe (in this case Germany) saying that she and her fiance are moving to the U.S. and need help planning a wedding. See more details of the scam and a copy of the initial email wedding planners receive here. The minor details (name/date/location) change, but otherwise, everyone is receiving the exact same email.

Now, I occasionally receive legitimate inquiries from couples living abroad, who are usually in the military but returning home for a wedding. But in this case, something seemed off. I looked online for information about it after the first email, but at that point wasn't sure what exactly the spam was. Finally, the "bride" says that a cashiers check is on it's way--for over $3,000 more than the deposit. The extra money I'm to transfer with Western Union to their band, which will be flying in to perform from France.

What concerns me most about this is that they are basically asking wedding planners to do something we do on a regular basis: make a payment to a wedding vendor. With similar scams like the Nigerian Money Scam, the scammer is making a request that is so out of the blue, so odd or so "too good to be true" that it is obviously spam. But this isn't. And with so many young, new planners in the industry right now, I'm sure many people may be eager to secure a client and could easily overlook the warning signs.

And so my tips to planners to protect yourself from this and other scams:

  1. Do not accept cashiers checks. If you do, allow extra time after the money is cleared in your account for the check to be verified before touching the money (I've seen reports this may take two or three weeks or up to three months. . .that's enough for me to never accept one from anyone).
  2. Do not send money to a vendor you've never seen or heard from directly. And of course, do not pay any vendor you do not have a contract with.
  3. Protect your privacy. Be as smart a business person as you are a consumer, and do not provide passwords, bank accounts numbers, etc., to anyone.
  4. If it sounds suspicious, proceed with caution. Do online research to see if anyone else has received a similar scam. Insist on secure payments and if they balk, turn them away.
You can report Internet scams to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, whether you fell victim or just received a suspicious email.

Learn how to become a wedding planner with books at the Perfect Memories Wedding Store.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New poll: How long is your engagement?

For our next poll, please share the length of your engagement: how many months between the proposal and the wedding day. The average length of engagements these days is about 15 months. Do you fit into that trend? Vote and let us know: how long is your engagement?

  • Less than six months
  • Six to 11 months
  • 12 to 17 months
  • 18 to 23 months
  • 24 months or more
Choose your response in the poll on the left sidebar and come back to check out the results!

Poll results: How much are you spending this Valentine's Day?

The results are in from our latest poll. It looks like most of you fell in the lower end of money spent on Valentine's Day. The results:

  • $49 or less: 61 percent
  • $50-$99: 22 percent
  • $100-$149: 4 percent
  • $150 or more: 13 percent
Thanks for voting and check back soon for our next poll!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Giveaway: Enter by Sunday

2008 Pittsburgh brides: You have until Sunday to enter for a chance to win a free day of coordination package from Perfect Memories. Click here for all of the details.

Good luck!

Red, pink and white weddings: Hit the sales!

If your wedding colors or theme incorporates any Valentine's Day friendly elements (reds, pinks, purples, hearts, etc.), now's the time to shop for major discounts on crafting supplies and decor for your wedding.

Scour craft stores like Michael's, Joann's and Pat Catan's and box stores like Target and Wal-Mart for Valentine's Day items on clearance that can double as wedding items.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pittsburgh's record-setting wedding vow renewal

Head over to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to watch some video of this weekend's world record-setting marriage vow renewal ceremony.

The ceremony, officiated by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, was part of the year-long celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th birthday. Read our previous coverage here. 750 couples renewed their wedding vows together. From the footage, it looks like many of the couples who participated were older. . .celebrating 40 to 60 years of marriage.

Perhaps they'll do it again in 50 years in honor of Pittsburgh's 300th birthday.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Perfect Memories Valentine's Giveaway!

Happy almost Valentine's Day everyone! We're sharing the love this week with a special giveaway package: one lucky couple can win a free Day of Coordination package from Perfect Memories.

The rules:

  • The wedding must take place in 2008 and within 120 miles of Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • The couple must complete an entry form found here and submit it by Sunday, February 17, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • Only one entry per couple. Duplicate entries will be discarded.
  • Perfect Memories will randomly select the winning entry and notify them by Friday, February 22.
You can learn more about what's included in our Day of Coordination package on our Web site. Any questions? You can comment below or email me. Good luck!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Driving distance honeymoons: Buhl Mansion, Sharon, Pa.

Only 70 miles north of Pittsburgh, Sharon, Pa., certainly qualifies as driving distance. But as a honeymoon? With a stay at Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spa, absolutely.

Buhl Mansion was built in the late 19th century by local steel magnate Frank H. Buhl and opened as an inn and spa in 1996 by Jim and Donna Winner, who restored the once abandoned property to its original glory. With just ten rooms, each one unique and luxurious, the award-winning Buhl Mansion is a great place for a quiet, relaxing honeymoon--or even a mini-moon.

Every room at the mansion features a gas fireplace and a jacuzzi for two for a romantic getaway. Guests can indulge in a couples massage at the full-service spa, browse the on-site art gallery and enjoy amenities included with their stay, including a welcome tray, champagne reception and breakfast.

Buhl Mansion offers a limousine shuttle to its sister property, Tara, where you'll find gourmet and casual dining options as well as a museum collection of Civil War and "Gone With The Wind" memorabilia. Other local activities near Sharon include shopping and golfing.

Images courtesy of Winner Hospitatlity

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

Maybe you don't have the space or the budget to invite everyone and their children. Maybe you're planning a more formal, intimate affair and children attending wouldn't be appropriate. Maybe you just don't like kids.

What should you do if you've decided not to invite kids to the wedding? Nearly a third of you responded this way in our recent poll. Whatever the reason, you need to be prepared to handle confusion, questions and concern from your guests.

Be Prepared
First, no matter what you do, be prepared for the fact that some parents may be upset and angry that their children are not invited. Some of them may not even come for this reason. You need to accept this and be polite and firm with your choices. In the end, some parents may actually appreciate a night off from their youngsters.

Spread The Word
As soon as you make the decision not to invite children, ask your parents and bridal party to help you spread the word. Casual mentions of the "no kids" policy will take away the shock factor when guests receive an invitation addressed only to the adults.

If you're sending save-the-dates, be sure to address them specifically to the individuals invited (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith instead of The Smith Family). This becomes more important when you send the invitation, but it doesn't hurt to be specific here either. If you have a wedding Web site, using the words "adult reception" wouldn't hurt.

When it comes time to send out the wedding invitations, again, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the guests you are inviting. On your reception card (or on your actual invite) , I recommend using the words "adult reception." The phrase has become very commonly used, so most guests won't find it offensive and will understand what it means.

Some people recommend clarifying the invitees on the RSVP card: either by specifying "X number of seats have been reserved for you" or printing the names of the guests. I find this to be too awkward and think you should stick with a standard RSVP card.

Babysitting Service
If you have any out-of-town guests with children, help them out by providing contact information for a babysitting service. You can post this information on your Web site, or send it to them directly in the mail or email. Unless you want to and have the budget, you aren't responsible for paying for a babysitter for your guests.

Standing Firm
Once the invitations are out, the real fun begins! You or your parents may get calls asking (or complaining) about the "no kids" policy. Or, you may have to call guests once they RSVP to the wedding and list their children on the card.

Be polite but firm (and make sure your parents are too!). Explain to your guests that you can't make exceptions because it wouldn't be fair to the other parents. Don't take offense if they get angry or decide not to come. They will (hopefully) get over it, but it will be a lot easier if they don't think you're mad at them too.

Click here to read our story on inviting kids to the wedding.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

In our recent poll, 69 percent of you said that you're inviting kids to the wedding. Tomorrow we'll talk about what to do if you've decided not to have kids, but today let's talk about what you can do if you're inviting them.

Choosing to invite children is certainly the less controversial decision. But there are some things you can do to make sure that kids--and the guests around them--have a great time at your wedding.

First things first: Ask your caterer if they can offer a kid-friendly meal selection for your pint-sized guests. You'll need to give them a headcount on the number of kids attending, as well as your total guests, and you'll need to decide what age to cut off the kids meals at (kids under 12 may be a good rule of thumb). If you're offering a meal choice on your RSVP card, you can add that selection here. Bonus: caterers will usually charge you a lot less for the chicken strips than for the filet mignon.

If you're comfortable with it, seat all of the kids together at a table. Most of them will enjoy sitting with people their own age instead of the adults. I would suggest making sure their parents' tables are nearby so they still have some adult supervision.

Kids can get unruly when they get bored, so give them something to do! Set up a table at your reception and lay out coloring books and crayons for them to play with. You can purchase inexpensive activity books here, or even download and print wedding versions for free here. You can even lay out blank paper and ask them to draw a picture for'll get a lot of cute pictures at the end of the night!

Also consider a special favor just for the kids--something that they can play with during the reception. If you have room in your budget, you can put together goodie bags for each youngster.

If your budget allows and you're worried about either misbehaving kids or parents leaving early because of their little ones, you can hire a babysitter to entertain them in a separate room on location. This certainly isn't a necessity, but something to consider. Stock the room with toys and kid-friendly treats, and maybe some blankets and pillows in case anyone gets tired.

The Unexpected
Nine times out of ten, children will behave (almost) perfectly at weddings and will add joy and entertainment to your big day. Some of my favorite memories from my own wedding are of our youngest guests on the dance floor--they were adorable and having so much fun.

But kids can increase the chance of something unexpected happening: a temper tantrum during dinner, crying during the ceremony, accidentally walking in front of a photogenic moment. Children certainly aren't the only cause of unexpected moments during weddings, but you need to be aware that things can happen. Remember to stay calm and relaxed if something does happen--even smile and laugh it off if you can. If you stay calm, the parents and guests will too, and the moment will quickly pass by.

Have a good or bad "kids at the wedding" story to share? Comment below!

Click here to read our story on not inviting kids to the wedding.