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5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Business Event Venue

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Hosting an event for your business is an exciting project, though it does come with its challenges. One of the biggest of these challenges is locating a quality venue that meets all of your needs. Here are five tips for finding the perfect venue for your upcoming business event.

Start Early

The earlier you start planning your business event, the better your chances are of finding the venue you want. Begin your search at least three months before the date of your event, though you should aim to start five or six months ahead of time if you can. Finding a venue early can also provide savings on rental fees.

Experienced Staff

The staff at a venue can have a big impact on your event. Only choose a venue with a dedicated team of people who have experience in the event industry. The staff at a venue can either be your best asset or your biggest challenge when it comes to planning your event, so be sure of their level of professionalism before you commit to anything.

Know Your Attendees

If you don’t have an understanding of the specific needs and desires of your attendees, your event won’t appeal to them. For example, if your event will be attended primarily by people who are traveling to your area by airplane, consider an event location near the airport to make transportation easy on them. Take some time to think about specific features you can add to your event to keep them interested in sticking around for longer, as well as any local attractions they may want to see either during breaks in your event or after it’s over.

Adequate Parking

If attendees will be driving their vehicles to your event, be sure there’s plenty of parking available. Event parking is something many people consider to be a hassle, so the fact that you’ve taken the steps to ensure a comfortable parking situation is something your attendees will greatly appreciate. Parking access is one of the first items to discuss while touring any event space.

An Efficient Floor Plan

Having a detailed floor plan for your event is a must. Forming a floor plan is really only possible if you’ve checked out a venue in-person, as you’ll be able to visualize the flow of foot traffic and imagine where demonstrations, activities, refreshments, seating areas, etc. will be. Design your event’s floor plan with efficient movement between your event’s most important attractions in mind. You do not want your event to feel either overcrowded or too spread out.

Be sure to remember these things as you look around for event venues. When you’re able to keep your attendee’s interests in mind, start searching for a venue early and know what you’re looking for as you check out prospective locations, your event will be a success.

13 Spectacular Wedding Trends You’re Going to Love

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Your wedding is a great time to show off your personality and style, and today’s wedding trends have a little something for everyone. From funky fabrics to elegant food, choose details that express your personality. Here are 13 wonderful wedding trends to spark your imagination and inspire your planning.

Ceremony in the Round

Think outside the box when you’re planning the seating arrangements for your wedding ceremony. Many of today’s brides are getting rid of standard rows in favor of organizing chairs in a circle. This gives guests a full view of the bride, groom, and officiant and creates a sense of community and closeness. You can plan to stand at various angles throughout the ceremony to make sure that everyone has a good view of the proceedings.

Ruffled Décor

Ruffles are everywhere this wedding season. The detail is both romantic and fun, and it’s showing up on everything from gowns to tablecloths. Use ruffled fabric on the backs of your chairs, on a reception backdrop, on table linens, or even as a highlighting detail in floral arrangements.

Painted Cakes

If you want something other than a standard iced wedding cake, try having your cake turned into a work of art. Cake artists will cover your cake in a neutral fondant and then hand paint floral designs or other artwork right onto the surface with food coloring. The result is a stunning confection that looks like it should be featured in an art gallery.

Dusty Rose

This play on pink is the current color trend of weddings. Dusty rose is an elegant but understated tone that conveys femininity, romance, and classic charm. It also pairs beautifully with all kinds of shades of green, blue, cream, and lavender.


One wonderful and non-traditional bridal trend is swapping your veil for a large, floppy hat. This look is adorable at casual, afternoon weddings and is especially appropriate for a beach or garden ceremony. This trend also looks terrific on a row of bridesmaids.

Neon Signs

Rustic, wooden signs and chalkboards have been done time and time again. The new trend in wedding signage is neon. A personalized neon sign made with your names intertwined is a wonderful piece that you can keep in your home as a memory of your special day.


Textured fabrics are beautiful to look at as well as to feel, and velvet has become a very popular choice. You can use velvet in your bridal party’s fashions or as part of your décor. Velvet tablecloths or ribbons on the back of guests’ chairs are luxurious touches that help elevate your ceremony and reception.

Salt Covenant

Many brides like the idea behind unity candles but want to do something a little bit different to make their ceremonies more modern. A salt covenant is a nice choice for this purpose. It involves you and your partner pouring two containers of salt into one central container to symbolize the union of your families. You can use white or colored salt, and you can ask your families to be part of the ceremony as well.

Charcuterie Boards

Take appetizers to a new level by allowing guests to graze on charcuterie boards. These are rustic boards that are placed on tables and topped with finger foods like cheese, crackers, and fruit. They can also include small glasses of wine or miniature appetizers.


When all the traditional wedding dances have been done, you can add another round of fun to the reception by hosting a sing-along. Pass out pieces of paper with your favorite song lyrics and ask someone to play the piano. This is classic entertainment that takes your guests back to the days of celebrating before electronics.

Wine Smoothies

Lighter than cocktails but more sophisticated than beer, wine smoothies are the trendy drink to serve at your wedding. Combine your favorite wine with frozen berries. Champagne and strawberries pair perfectly.

Eco-friendly Materials

Modern brides are also environmentally conscious. Many brides are choosing sustainable fabrics in their gowns and décor as well as opting for recycled materials when possible. Stones, wood, and other natural elements are beautiful as wedding décor and are also environmentally friendly.

Local Edible Favors

Instead of passing out bags of almonds, think about sending guests home with locally made treats. For example, Vermont brides may wish to pass out small bottles of maple syrup while Georgia brides might send each guest home with a bottle of sweet peach wine.

Finding a wedding trend that speaks to you can make your wedding a more memorable experience for you and your guests. Consider these 13 terrific trends when planning your special day.

Important Elements to Consider When Choosing a Venue for Your Business Event

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When you are planning to organize a business event, the most important task is to choose the venue. The quality of the venue can have a major impact on the entire event and satisfaction level of your guests as well. Most business professionals find it difficult to make decisions about the right venue for their events.

In general, this decision is derived by three major factors: desired space, size of the event, and the estimated budget. When you are planning to host a big event, it is good to book your venue at least 4 to 6 months advance as it will give you ample time to organize your catering, brochure design and marketing as well. Here are several highlighted elements to consider in choosing the venue with the most potential for your event.

Prioritize Logistics

Logistics is an essential factor for venue selection. In case you are planning a local event, it is good to choose a venue that is located at a reasonable distance from major access points. If people will be attending the event from other cities, it is better to find a venue near airports, metro stations with easy access to hotels as well.

Make sure your venue can be searched through GPS maps and that it is possible to give clear driving directions to the attendees. In addition, check if your venue can provide ample parking space with discounted fees for attendees if possible.

Maximum Seating Capacity

In determining your venue’s maximum capacity, start by preparing an estimated list of the number of attendees. If you are offering entry with pre-registration for the event, it is possible to get a clear count in advance. Once you know the estimated size of the event, it will be easier to select the venue with the desired capacity.

Also, do not focus exclusively on seating capacity, but think about the comfort of your guests as well. Have the proper cooling and heating systems arranged if there are abnormal weather conditions expected ahead of the event.

Adjacent Facilities

When there is an event with a large number of people concentrated in one place, it is also important to consider any nearby amenities and facilities as well. Experts advise looking for a venue where there are proper facilities for setup, cleaning, catering, AV capabilities, and Wi-Fi access. Depending upon the type of event – whether it is a conference, product launch or marketing session – you may also need audio-visual aids and music set up to maximize the experience of your guests.

Cost of the Venue

The cost of your venue is an essential consideration during the planning process. Before you finalize the venue for the event, it is important to get quotes for the cost. It is better to compare multiple locations on the basis of price and quality of services. You do not have to compromise quality for the sake of lower costs, but at the same time, make sure the costs are reasonable.

As business managers and marketers grow more sophisticated with promoting their events, choosing a venue becomes more valuable. By taking into account costs, good logistics, accommodations, and capacity, you can improve your chances of selecting the most rewarding venue. As you plan with your team, outline these steps with your team to narrow down the most relevant and dynamic locations for your event.

Celebrating Achievement – How to Throw a Memorable Party for the College Graduate in Your Life

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Graduating from college is a major milestone in a young person’s life, and it is only natural for parents to celebrate that achievement in style. Creating a wonderful graduation party is not always easy, but the memories will be well worth the extra effort.

Make it a Multi-Family Celebration

Chances are your graduating college student has developed a number of close friendships during the years he or she has been away at school. It is only natural that your son or daughter will be anxious to celebrate such an important occasion with his or her friends. At the same time, the grad does not want to disappoint the family and deny them the celebration they have so carefully planned.

One innovative answer to this dilemma is the multi-family graduation party. Many parents and working together to create a memorable celebration that their kids can enjoy together. Start by contacting the parents of your child’s friends and asking about their party plans. They may be quite receptive to a shared party – and shared expenses.

One of the advantages of the multi-family celebration is that it can be easier to plan. With more people – and more resources – available – the families may be able to rent a large local venue like a hotel or country club. That makes planning easier, and the catering service means a lot less work for everyone.

Create a Memory Board

A memory board is a great keepsake – something that your son or daughter can cherish throughout the rest of their life. That memory board does not have to be expensive or elaborate – some of the best consists of nothing more than posterboard and a collection of photographs.

Start by gathering up those precious childhood photos – school photos, vacation snapshots and the like. Add in pictures from major milestones – like high school graduation and prom, as well as sports photos and other special memories. Once the memory board is ready, place it in a prominent spot, provide a supply of Sharpies and encourage guests to sign the posterboard.

You may also want to include a simple portrait from the graduation ceremony – complimented by an extra-large mat. Invite guests to sign that mat as well, then have the whole thing professionally framed. This framed and signed graduation photo will no doubt become a precious keepsake – one that can be tastefully displayed in any décor.

Display the School Colors

Whether you do all the decorating yourself if farm it out to your chosen venue, you will want to focus on the school colors. Creating centerpieces, party favors and keepsakes using the colors of the college provides a wonderful backdrop for the celebration. You can probably find lots of ready-made items at the school store – or online.

You can compliment those store-bought items with your own ideas – from floral arrangements to handmade place settings. No matter what you choose, those school colors will really stand out and make the venue look even better.

Sending your son or daughter off to college was a big deal – and welcoming the new grad back from college is just as important. The graduation party is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. The right keepsakes and party special touches can make the celebration even more memorable.


How To Decorate for A Quinceanera

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How To Decorate for A Quinceanera

A Quinceanera, or “Quince” for short, is a Latin American tradition that celebrates a young woman’s 15th birthday. The Quinceanera is designed to mark the transition from a girl into a woman and often involves activities symbolic of this change. A Quinceanera is generally a fairly formal affair, with the Quinceanera herself dressed in a gown and possibly a tiara. The party is often held in a reception hall with food, drinks, music and dancing.

Identify a theme for the party based on the Quinceanera’s interests. Figure out some guidelines before you start so that you end up with a cohesive design throughout the reception hall. Some ideas for themes include all-white, 1920s Chicago, winter wonderland, New York City, red carpet premier or an enchanted forest.

Rent furniture and tableware. Use your guest list to determine how much seating you need available and how many tables you need for food and drinks if the event isn’t catered. Reserve tables, chairs, linens, tableware and flatware ahead of time so you can pick them up the day you need them. Shop around to find colors and styles of linen and tableware that match your theme. It is particularly important to find the right colors if your theme is a certain color.

Decorate the tables. Come up with centerpieces for each table or hire a florist to design arrangements that complement your theme. Centerpieces don’t have to be bouquets; let your theme be your guide. For example, a 1920s-themed party could feature dyed ostrich feather plumes as centerpieces. The Quinceanera and her close family and friends, or her “court,” should be seated at a special head table. You may want the head table to feature a larger or more eye-catching centerpiece.

Create mood lighting. The room’s lighting is an integral part of setting a mood for the party. To create low lighting, hang string lights around the ceiling and wrap them around banisters and pillars. Candles also create an intimate atmosphere for guests to visit and dine by. Distribute pillar candle or tea lights around the room and on tables. If there is a dance floor, ask the DJ about any lighting that she or he may provide.

Tip: Remember that the Quinceanera symbolizes the change from a girl to a woman; avoid childish birthday party conventions like embarrassing party hats.


Dancing Elk Blog

11 Gorgeous Trends in Wedding Flowers

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With every wedding season comes flowers. From the bridal bouquet to the table displays to flowers on the aisle, flowers are a big part of most wedding ceremonies.

What types of florals will today’s brides be choosing for their weddings? Here are 11 beautiful trends in wedding flowers.

Shades of Purple

Purple is the color of the year in fashion, home décor and in weddings. You will see many brides carrying bouquets in multiple variations of purple.

Spring and summer brides may focus lavenders and paler shades. Winter and fall brides may opt for jewel tones or darker hues.

Purple is a wonderful choice in flowers because it can be sweet and romantic or bring the drama.

Fresh Floral Crowns

Many brides this year will be asking their florists to create tiaras or headbands made of fresh flowers. Floral crowns are also lovely on bridesmaids and flower girls.

Colors Beyond Nature

Dramatic brides will be making a statement with flowers that have been hit with spray paint to make them stand out. Look for colors in hues so bright that they might have come from a dream or flowers with a metallic tinge or sparkle.

Cocktail Flowers

Don’t be surprised when you attend a wedding this year and see flower petals floating in your cocktail. Brides will be dressing up signature cocktails by adding a pansy, rose petal or sprig of lavender as a garnish.

Living Walls

Rather than flower arrangements in vases, some of today’s brides will opt for walls hung with florals. That makes a striking backdrop for the ceremony or a pretty display behind the buffet table or guest book.


These gorgeous flowers once had a reputation as old-fashioned and outdated, especially for weddings. But your grandmother’s flowers are back in a big way with brides choosing the large blooms in bridal bouquets and table arrangements.

Dahlias are also a versatile choice that comes in a variety of colors.

Floral Cuffs

Stylish modern brides are taking a page from the prom by including a fresh floral cuff on one arm. The cuffs can be understated or dramatic and add a sense of romance to the bride’s overall look.

Trailing Foliage

Greenery is playing a prominent role in wedding décor this season, and brides will be including trailing greenery in all types of flower arrangements. Look for beautiful foliage hanging down from the bridal bouquet or long strings of ivy flowing from baskets.

Hanging Arrangements

Who says flowers have to be on the floor or the table? Florists are now offering wedding flowers in bunches that hang down from the ceiling, creating a beautiful canopy above guests. These can be small arrangements that add a pretty detail above, or they can be large enough to act as a faux ceiling over a bar or dance floor.


Simple weddings are becoming popular as many brides reject the bling in favor of a minimalist style. Floral arrangements for these weddings may be as effortless as a few flowers in a clear vase with water. Several of these minimalist decorations, when grouped, can be spectacular.

Potted Plants

With greenery in style, potted plants are bringing the great outdoors inside. Potted plants can be pretty when placed along the aisle or as decoration on the altar. Larger plants can grab guests’ attention and bring drama to the venue.

Another benefit of potted plants is that they can serve as gifts after the wedding.

Most weddings rely on flowers to decorate the event venue and take center stage in the ceremony. Look for these 11 beautiful flower trends in the upcoming wedding season.



The Reserve Blog

The ‘Yes’ to ‘I Do’ Checklist

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The ‘Yes’ to ‘I Do’ Checklist

Preparing for a wedding can be hard work, and to accommodate that issue we have compiled a fine list of things to do through each stage of wedding preparations. By following this list it should give you a good basis on which to keep track of your wedding, while still leaving room for a personalized flair.

The Engagement Phase

  • Say “Yes!”
  • Tell all of your friends and family
  • Breathe
  • Put aside money for the wedding and all it entails

The Post-Engagement Phase

  • Confirm date of the wedding
  • Plan out how large your wedding will be
  • Plan out the wedding party
  • Select a venue and book it for both reception and ceremony
  • Send out invitations
  • Go dress/tuxedo hunting (including for wedding party)
  • Arrange flowers for centerpieces, décor, etc for the big day
  • Contact a catering company to plan for the reception
  • Contact a bakery for the wedding cake
  • Breathe
  • Select the theme of the wedding and the ideal décor
  • Potential: Create a wish-list for guests to purchase gifts off of
  • Plan the honeymoon

Closer to the Wedding

  • Book hair appointments
  • Arrange table settings and hall layout
  • Double check that the caterer is still okay
  • Double check that the florist is still okay
  • Double check that the bakery is still okay
  • Double check that the dress/suits are still okay
  • Double check that the venue is still okay
  • Breathe
  • Prepare centerpieces for the wedding if necessary
  • Potential: Create wedding keepsakes (such as a small box of chocolates)
  • Plan the bar (if applicable, and not dealt with through catering company)
  • Write vows
  • Decided on who shall be allowed to give a speech at the reception
  • Apply for marriage license
  • Arrange transportation to the wedding
  • Check the weather for the wedding day
  • Arrange for a DJ, as well as an MC

The Big Day (and just before it)

  • Breathe
  • Get hair/makeup done
  • Arrange for the cake/ flowers to be set up in the venue
  • Put on dresses/tuxes (don’t forget underwear and socks!)
  • Look out the window to check the weather
  • Place a box for cards, and set a gift table
  • Prepare some activity to make the happy couple (you) kiss during the reception
  • Stock bar for the reception, if not already dealt with
  • If wearing high-heels, pack extra shoes (such as flats)
  • Don’t forget the ring!
  • Don’t forget your vows!
  • Breathe
  • Take the previously planned form of transportation
  • Put away this checklist, because you are going to be walking down the aisle soon

There you have it- a complete checklist to get you from ‘Yes’ to ‘I do’ in relative safety. By following this list you should ensure that your event is going to be a raging success. Now stop worrying about this checklist and get on with the wedding, this is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, not a test you need to study for! Best of luck!

Dancing Elk - Vibrant Colors for Your Winter Wedding

Vibrant Colors for Your Winter Wedding

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Vibrant Colors for Your Winter Wedding

If you’re planning a winter wedding, you have the perfect excuse for super-vibrant colors in your bridal attire. A dark, murky day will call for bright colors, and a frosty one will need some warm, dazzling hues to melt it. These suggestions will set your imagination spinning:

Warming gold

A soft, golden glow will bring welcome warmth on a chilly day. Delicate gold flecks or beading over your dress or veil, for instance, will melt the snowy white of your outfit deliciously. Catch the sparkle in gold touches elsewhere, such as your shoes, purse or necklace.

Glittering silver

A silvery tint to your gown will blend with the frosty scene in sparkling, winter sunshine. But if sunshine is lacking on the day, your silver touches will compensate, glittering brightly and dancing with reflections. Silver lace over white fabric is an attractive combination, while a sparkling, silver tiara will stand out strikingly over a flowing veil. Perhaps reflect these tints in a silvery accessory.

Snowy blue

Pale blue and white make a pretty combination, bringing to mind fresh snow and sparkling ice as well as blue skies. Bring in your soft, blue traces in light touches, perhaps in a ribbon or sash, a band around the hem or embroidery on the bodice. A glassy, blue pendent with matching earrings will enhance the effect. The bright, fresh look will celebrate a fine day and light up a murky one.

Heart-warming magenta

Deep, sunset pink against a white gown brings gorgeous contrasts of warm and cool. The pink will also bring a romantic, feminine glow to the white. There are many types of pink, but a peachy, magenta shade will have the warmest feel. For a big impact, consider a magenta faux-fur cape and muff, or a pink shawl around your shoulders. For a lighter touch, bring a soft sheen of pink into your dress or veil, through netting, lace or another fine fabric, or let the rosy hue twinkle in your tiara and jewelry. How about pink shoes and stockings, too, for zesty detail?

Flame orange

A flash of fiery orange or red in your costume will warm up the coldest day. The vibrant glow will also symbolize the strength and glory of your marriage. A flame-colored shawl, cape or muff will catch all eyes, or you might simply carry a flame-red bouquet.

Hints of spring

If you’re getting married early in the new year, you might like to embrace the coming spring in your attire. A hint of leaf-green or primrose-yellow, for instance, will reflect the birth of the new year – and a new life ahead for you and your partner. A delicate leaf or bud design will create this effect charmingly, and you could repeat it in earrings or other jewelry, or in a pretty, spring posy.

There are a thousand and one ways to bring a dazzle to your winter wedding, so choose your favorite tints and see where they take you. But remember to dress warm, as well as looking warm, then you can relax and let your own, inner warmth shine out.

Wedding Tasks that You Should Never Do by Yourself

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Wedding Tasks that You Should Never Do by Yourself

Your wedding is arguably one of the biggest days of your life, so it’s perfectly understandable if you expect it to be flawless. There’s also no crime in wanting to save as much money as possible. To that end, it might seem sensible to cover some of the bases on your own, but the truth is that you’re playing with fire. To guarantee a perfect wedding, it’s crucial to know when to quit Googling DIY articles and just hire a professional.

Food and Beverages

Even if you enjoy cooking, preparing meals for dozens of guests will kill anyone’s appetite. Not to worry, because wedding reception venues offer catering. Yes, it’s one of the biggest expenses, but you have options.

Alcohol makes up a large chunk of the refreshments, and nothing makes guests’ eyes light up more than the words “open bar”; however, the price makes it doubtful that you’ll share such enthusiasm. There’s also the concern that Uncle Steve might turn into his obnoxious alter ego once he’s had a few gin and tonics. A cash bar solves both the aforementioned problems. You won’t be billed for all that alcohol, and the cost will deter most people from going too hard on the booze.


It’s your wedding day, so capturing every moment is critical. Perhaps you have a friend with a decent camera who likes to take pictures of birds and trees as a hobby — seems qualified enough, right? Wrong. There’s much, much more to professional photography than knowing how to aim a camera. Equipment means nothing if the person using it doesn’t understand angles, lighting, backgrounds and the many other factors that we laypeople simply don’t know about.

A photographer may be on the pricier side, but remember that you get what you pay for. Ask a friend to handle the pictures for free, and chances are you’re going to get a lot of half-baked, poorly timed or unfocused results. Pros have training and experience, which you can easily verify by asking for references, interviewing and shopping around.


Music is a big deal at weddings. It helps get the party started and keeps it going; however, your guests will vary in their music tastes, so creating your own playlist forces your preferences on them. It’s safe to say that Grandma and Grandpa won’t be as fond of hip-hop, pop or rap as their teenaged grandchildren.

A professional DJ understands the importance of a varied music library. He or she knows exactly how well different songs work together, allowing for seamless transitions between music types. All you have to do is tell them what sort of mix you’re looking for and they’ll take care of the rest.

Hair and Makeup

Whether you’re the bride or groom, wanting to look good at your wedding is a no-brainer; however, looking your best when getting married requires more effort than dressing up for a night out.

If you’re lucky enough to personally know a professional hair stylist or aesthetician, then that’s fantastic — but most of us don’t have that luxury. Fortunately, there are plenty out there to choose from, with price ranges to fit virtually any budget.

Like photography and music, there’s a certain art to finding the perfect balance. You can roll the dice and rely on your own skills, or spend the money on an expert. Your wedding sets the foundation for the rest of your life, so a good physical impression makes a big difference.

The tasks and expenses associated with weddings may seem daunting, and sometimes the complexity and stress of a DIY event isn’t worth the savings. Don’t let your wedding memories be marked by long hours of frustrating prep work. Investing in professionals means peace of mind.

Remember, money can be recovered, but your wedding is a one-time deal.

Beautiful Weddings on a Budget

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Beautiful Weddings on a Budget

Every couple dreams of having the perfect wedding, but the day of the bride’s parents footing the bill is slipping away. Four out of five couples now pay for their own wedding. The cost of the average wedding is $19,000, money that could be better spent on a down payment for a house, furnishings, or an extended honeymoon. Planning your own wedding will ensure that things are exactly the way you want them, without the expense of hiring a wedding planner for a “unique” wedding (which usually isn’t). Free online wedding planners are available to guide you through the necessary steps. The most lavish wedding doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage. You’ll have enough time for being broke later when you have children!


Pare Down the Guest List

This is the special day for the bride and groom, and for those nearest and dearest to you to celebrate your union, not an occasion to entertain those people you only get a Christmas card from or whom you feel obligated to invite. Keeping the guest list small creates a more meaningful and intimate wedding day, and gives the bride and groom time to mingle with all the guests. Invite only those closest to you, those whom you can’t imagine getting married without them being there.


Make Your Own Flower Arrangements

To save big money over professionally arranged flowers, do the arrangements and bouquets yourself or ask a friend who is skilled in the craft. Flower arranging supplies are available at most craft stores. Silk flowers can be as beautiful and realistic as fresh flowers, and the floral arrangements can be done weeks ahead of the wedding and stored in a dust-free environment until the wedding day. After the wedding service, ask the groomsmen to move the arrangements to the reception area, and your flowers can do double duty.


Serve Favorite Finger Foods

Skip the professionally catered buffet or sit-down luncheon in favor of finger foods and cake. Your guests came to see you get married, not eat. Ask family members if they will pitch in some of their favorite recipes, foods they know people enjoy. A good friend experienced in cake decorating will be thrilled to create your wedding cake, or look up a local cake-decorating class and ask if they have a student or teacher who would create a cake for the experience (plus the cost of supplies). If you have your heart set on a sit-down dinner, ask a group of friends want to give you a gift if they would cater the reception for you.


Party Favors

Make your own party favors, if you must have them. (This is a great excuse for the ladies involved in the wedding to get together for an enjoyable afternoon.) For example, purchase inexpensive clear glass votive holders and candles that match the wedding colors, cut round pieces of white net, and tie them in little bundles with matching bows. Small, inexpensive frames can be decorated with tiny silk flowers and can serve as place card holders at the reception.


Keeping Reception Costs in Line

Choose a site for your reception that includes chairs and tables, since these can be expensive to rent. Dollar stores are an excellent place to find white china, basic stemware, linens, and decorations at very reasonable prices. A CD boom box and CD’s can provide music for the wedding ceremony and reception. A karaoke machine can accompany the wedding singer and provide entertainment at the reception. Ask a friend who has a good digital camera to take wedding photographs and informal shots at the reception. Create invitations on your computer. If you don’t have any particularly talented friends, check with a local college for photographers, musicians, and printers who need experience and would provide their services so they can add them to their portfolio.


Wedding Togs

Wedding dresses can be quite expensive, but if you shop sample sales you may be able to buy a designer dress for a fraction of the original price. Consider shopping resale shops (my daughter found a gorgeous beaded gown for $75) or buying a white prom dress. Beautiful wedding dresses don’t have to break your budget. Don’t obsess over the dress, you’re only going to wear it once. Forget the penguin attire, and put the groom and groomsmen in sharp dark suits and white shirts that they can wear again for other special occasions.


Get Family and Friends Involved

Planning a memorable wedding day can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Don’t be a bridezilla and feel you need to have total control over every detail. Let friends and family take over part of the preparations, and thank them for doing so without nitpicking their choices. Be a relaxed and confident bride on your wedding day, enjoy your guests, and you will be creating wonderful memories for your friends and families!