5 Things To Know Before Hiring a Wedding Planner

  1. We're not psychic. Communication is key, and we can't read your mind. If you make changes to the number of guests, the time of the ceremony/reception, the budget, etc. we need to know these things. One "minor" change can have a trickle-down effect that you don't realize.
  2. This is our job. Yes, we love you, and we are always happy to talk to you. During business hours. Or the occasional pre-arranged after-hours meeting. While we try to be flexible to accommodate your schedule, please understand that we also have friends/family/obligations outside of work, and if we don't take time to have a personal life we're going to have a nervous breakdown.
  3. It's really hard for us to schedule meetings and reply to emails on the weekends. Imagine it's your wedding day, and your wedding planner/coordinator is trying to squeeze in three meetings before arriving at your venue and working 12 hours. Not ideal.
  4. A wedding is a party, not a performance. We want you to have fun and enjoy your wedding day. And yes, details are very important. But when your wedding becomes such a production that you can't enjoy it with your family and friends, it's time to scale back a bit.
  5. We have ideal clients. If we feel our style/price point/personality doesn't match what you need, we're happy to refer you to another coordinator/planner. Don't be offended - we want you to have the best experience possible! 

Bonus #6. We hate sparkler send-offs. Handing people that have been drinking for 5+ hours fire and then asking people to walk very close to them is a bad idea. Find another option for your send-off!

10 Tips From Bride To Bride

This article was written by one of our former brides, Lauren, after her wedding! We hope you enjoy these tips.

  • Place a small number on the back corner of each response card, and record that number on your guest list. You WILL get RSVP cards back that do not have a name written on them or a return address on envelops, and the stamp from the post office from where it shipped from will only go so far.

  • Go to Wedding Expos! See what and who your choices are first hand and in person. Expos give you a chance to see everyone in one place, whether you are looking for one vendor or all of them, and you don’t have to drive all over town to find out they are what you are looking for. Hint: Take your fiancé! If he/she isn’t involved in the wedding planning, they sure will appreciate you after a Bridal Show experience!

  • Please, oh please, don’t buy a dress that weighs more than you. I had a light strapless dress and the only thing I could think about 30 minutes until the end of the reception was taking it off! (And no, not only for that reason!) You don’t realize how much a heavy dress can interrupt your night.

  • Do schedule a little night photo-shoot with your photographer. We did pictures around 10:00 pm when everyone was good and comfortable on the dance floor. We snuck away and took some great shots, along with having a little breather so you get a few minutes of sweet alone time.

  • If you choose to wear a veil, as much as you love that veil and won't have another opportunity to wear one, let me just share my experience before you make the decision you don’t want to part with it the whole day. Everyone that hugs you or dances with you will tug on the veil (without knowing of course) and whatever style your hair was at the beginning of the day will look torn up! If I were to do it again, I’d take it of after dinner!

  • Do a fake cake! The bottom layer of our 5-tier cake was the only part of the cake that was real so we could cut into it and get those priceless picture of smashing it in each others faces. The rest of our cake was in the kitchen already sliced and put out right after we cut into it. Instead of having waitstaff at your cake table for 30 minutes making a mess, it was already done.

  • Make an email address only for wedding correspondence. I had (my name)2B(future last name) and it worked great! If you want to stay in contact with any of your wedding vendors after the big day, send an email to specific people politely asking them to update their address book.

  • Do eat! My hubby and I didn’t make it around to everyone’s table; if that’s rude, we sure didn’t get any complaints. We noticed as we were eating, the people that were going to leave early or knew they weren’t going to run into us on the dance floor came to us.

  • I worried up until a few weeks before the wedding about what “Our Song” was going to be. Its really easy getting frustrated finding a song if you don’t already have one when you’re listening to every word making sure its perfect, however, not you, your hubby, or your guests will most likely hear every word like you did listening by yourself. My advice, pick a song that’s just special between the two of you.

  • Make sure both sets of parents have a speech planned. Our wedding was pretty traditional. The groom's parents threw the Rehearsal Dinner, where his parents said a little something, and my father had a toast during the wedding reception. I know it sounds very traditional, but it really sets the tone for two families becoming one. Everyone could feel the love our parents had for us and our new spouse with words they said.

Wedding Trend: Two Aisles for Same-Sex Ceremonies

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As same-sex couples prepare for their wedding ceremonies, the question often arises about the processional. Traditionally, a groom may enter from the side while a bride may walk down a center aisle. But what if there are two brides or two grooms? Who walks where and when?
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A recent trend involves creating two aisles for the couple to process down simultaneously.
  • If you are marrying in an outdoor space with lots of room to play with, the two partners could walk in from the sides to meet in the middle.
  • Or, create two sections of chairs rather than two, creating two aisles from back to front.
  • If escorts will be walking the couple down the aisle(s), consider having an extra-wide aisle for both pairs to walk down together. This is a great symbol of families uniting together.
The great thing about personalizing your wedding ceremony is that it can be a true reflection of your relationship. There are no strict rules - get creative!

Hurricane Season and Your Florida Wedding

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Hurricane Season and Your Florida WeddingIt's here again: HURRICANE SEASON. That's right, June 1st (which is Monday, by the way!) kicks off Floridians' favorite time of year. Time to stock up on the hurricane party supplies. Oops, I mean emergency preparedness items. But what happens when your wedding takes place during hurricane season (6/1-11/30)? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Have a good Plan B. And Plan C. And Plan D. Even if a hurricane isn't in the forecast for your immediate area, they can bring drastic weather changes with them. If you are planning on an outdoor ceremony, have a great indoor option booked. Think through your outdoor decor, and see if it will work with the indoor space. If not, talk to your designer or florist about changes that could be made if necessary, and what the deadline for those changes would be.
  • Purchase wedding insurance well in advance. Much like homeowners' insurance policies, there are time limits for purchasing hurricane coverage for your wedding. Be sure to know those deadlines, and finalize your policy in time. (For more info on wedding insurance, check out our friends at http://www.protectmywedding.com.)
  • Remember that your honeymoon location might be affected. Keep an eye on the forecast for your honeymoon destination. Consider purchasing travel insurance if you are going to an area that might be in the path of a storm. Again, there are deadlines for purchasing insurance, so talk to your travel agent about options!

Burying Bourbon For Good Weather On Your Wedding Day

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southern folklore good weather on your wedding day Every couple that is planning an outdoor wedding stresses out about one thing: the weather! Hopefully you have great backup plans in place if you are planning an outdoor event. (If you don't, you should!) But here's an old tradition you might want to add to your wedding planning schedule.

Southern folklore has it that 30 days before the wedding, at the time of the ceremony, the couple should go to the ceremony location and bury a bottle of bourbon upside down. During the cocktail hour, the bottle is dug up and subsequently passed around for all to enjoy. The folklore must be true, because we've seen it done at 3 weddings now and all have had fabulous weather despite rainy or cold days before and after!

Do you have any superstitions or traditions you'd like to share?

(photo from Ann and Mark's November 2014 wedding, by Susan Michal Photography)

Wedding Attire Guidelines

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Tuxedo I'm always a big fan of including a dress code on wedding invitations. Guests that live in your area might be able to guess the formality based on the location, but out-of-town guests won't have a clue! Save everyone from embarrassment of being under- or over-dressed by adding a little line on the bottom of your invitation with the suggested attire.

  • White Tie (channel your inner Downton Abbey) Men: Tuxedo with tails, a white vest, and a bow tie. White gloves are appropriate for dancing. Women: A formal, floor-length evening gown, preferably in a dark color.
  • Black Tie Men: Traditional tuxedo, preferably with a black bow tie and cummerbund. (yes, you'll look like a maitre d', but so will everyone else) Women: A long dress or a formal cocktail-length dress in a dark color.
  • Black Tie Optional / Formal Men: Tuxedo or dark suit. Women: A long dress or a formal cocktail-length dress in a dark color. (think little black dress)
  • Semi-Formal Men: Suit and tie, either light or dark depending on the season and time of day. Wear darker colors for evening, lighter colors for daytime. Women: Cocktail dress or other dressy dress.
  • Casual Men: Dress of khaki pants with a button-down shirt or polo shirt. Women: Sundress or even capris and a cute top. (If it's a beach wedding, use "Beach Casual")

For even more attire guidelines, check out EmilyPost.com's Attire Guide.

The Greatest Love Letter of All Time

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Last night, a great story from Huffington Post Weddings popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, and I just had to share it. It contains two love notes written by Johnny Cash to his beloved June. {Warning: you may want to grab a hankie!} According to the article, "A 1994 note he penned for his wife and musical partner June Carter Cash on her 65th birthday was recently named the greatest love letter of all time in a poll conducted by the British life insurance company Beagle Street."

The letter reads:

o-HOUSE-OF-CASH-2-570 Happy Birthday Princess,      We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others [sic] minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.      But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

     Happy Birthday Princess.      - John

{SWOON!!}

The note was featured, along with others, in the 2011 book House Of Cash, written by the couple's son John Carter Cash.

So with Valentine's Day just around the corner, if you are looking for some love-note inspiration, look no farther than the Man In Black.

New Year's Resolutions For Your Wedding

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Happy new year The beginning of a new year always brings talk of resolutions. But as you start thinking about your list, consider adding some wedding-related goals for 2015:

1. Stick to the budget. Seriously. The first step in planning a wedding is creating a budget. Don't start dreaming of the perfect dress or a spectacular venue until you do so! It will only lead to heartbreak. You'll also need a final guest list so that you'll know how many people to budget for - obviously a wedding for 100 people will cost much more than a wedding for 50. Don't risk starting your married life off with a huge debt from the wedding!

2. Get in shape, but not just for the wedding day. Yes, you may be tempted to lose a few pounds or tone up  your arms or tush before the wedding. And that's great. But consider making healthy lifestyle choices with your partner, and make them a part of your marriage not just your wedding. While you are planning your wedding, you'll be on the go and might be tempted to eat fast food or skip meals altogether. Plan ahead to make healthy choices!

3. Give back and buy local. Chances are, you'll be planning a great party to celebrate your wedding. Why not use local sources as much as possible? Ask your florist if they use local farms, ask caterers about local produce and vegetables. If you are using fresh flowers in your wedding, consider donating them to a local nursing home after the wedding! The residents will love the special thought.

The First Five Things To Do After Getting Engaged

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marriage proposal It's that time of year again... when over 43% of engagements happen! If you received something shiny this year, here are some tips for the first things to do after saying "yes."

  1. Let Your Families Know. Start with your parents, and set up a time for them to meet each other if they haven't already.  Next, share the news with siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And of course your best friends! Once you've made these personal announcements, you can make it "Facebook official" and let everyone else in the world know.
  2. Get Your Ring Insured. This is a step most brides and grooms don't think about.  If you have homeowners' or renters' insurance, talk to your agent about adding the ring to your policy. You'll probably need an appraisal, and the original purchase receipt.
  3. Talk About Dates. Even if you don't have "the" date picked out, you should discuss a general time of year, and whether you will be willing to have a Friday or Sunday wedding.  Talk about dates with your families, and also with your officiant or house of worship to make sure you avoid any religious holidays.
  4. Make a Guest List. You'll need input from your families here too! Ask each set of parents to make their own guest list, and combine them with yours.  From this wish list, you can scale down if necessary.  It's important to have a ballpark idea of how many guests will be invited before you start looking at venues, and of course for budgeting purposes.
  5. Come Up With A Budget. If your families will be contributing financially, talk to them about the amounts they are comfortable with.  Make a list of your priorities (drop-dead photography, incredible food, over-the-top florals) and then start breaking down your budget based on those priorities.
Once you have these steps taken care of, you can start looking at wedding gowns, interviewing wedding planners, and searching for the perfect location for your big day.

A Reminder About Wedding Insurance

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WeddingInsurance_WeddingRisk We've written a few blog posts about wedding insurance before, but here is a reminder: every wedding should have wedding insurance!

As I type this post, fierce storms with damaging winds and enough rain to cause flooding and landslides are hitting California. What if your wedding was this weekend?

Closer to home, a North Florida wedding venue had some issues last month that caused them to tell couples getting married in December that they can't host their events. What would you do if you had 10 days to move your entire wedding? Or if you DJ or photographer suddenly went missing?

Wedding insurance covers so many things that brides and grooms don't want to think about. But saying "it won't rain on my wedding day" doesn't mean you shouldn't have a backup plan. And wedding insurance is the ultimate backup plan.

This article from CNBC illustrates just what a benefit insurance can be. Josh and Kristina paid around $250 for their insurance policy and were reimbursed for roughly $14,000 in deposits they had paid when their Brooklyn wedding venue went out of business. Just like you wouldn't want to drive your $25,000 car without insurance, you don't want to invest that amount (or significantly more) in your wedding and not have protection.

We recommend WedSafe and Wedding Protector Plan for wedding insurance - check out their websites for more info!

In Favor of the Rehearsal Brunch or Luncheon

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Breakfast Brunch Lunch Wedding Rehearsal This morning, at 10:00 am, we had a great rehearsal for tomorrow's wedding. The wedding party went to a lovely luncheon afterward. So who says you have to have a rehearsal dinner?

Having an earlier ceremony rehearsal means plenty of time to relax with your friends and family the day before the wedding. Plus, if you are planning to decorate your own venue (not that we recommend that!) you would have plenty of time to do so. The guys could play a round of golf, since afternoon tee times are much easier to get. The girls have time for a mani/pedi without walking into the venue with still-wet nails. Or here on the First Coast, you have time to hit the beach with your buds!

Of course, if you have lots of people traveling for your wedding, or getting time off work is an issue, a morning rehearsal may not work for you. But why not investigate the option?

Bonus for the groom's parents: brunch or lunch menus tend to be lower priced than dinners, and you won't need as much alcohol!

Would you consider having a rehearsal brunch or luncheon?

Selecting Music for Your Wedding Reception

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_1511-(_D8C7955) We often have couples ask about music selections for their wedding reception. When you hire your band or DJ, they will usually provide a long list of songs they can play. Both bands and DJs can usually get/learn songs that are not on their list, given enough advance warning. But the question we hear a lot is, do I have to make a list of every song I want them to play?

Well, yes and no.

Yes - you need to provide a list (typically 4-6 weeks prior to the wedding) of the special songs like your first dance, parents' dances, final song, etc.

Yes - you need to provide a list of "do not play" songs. Hate the Chicken Dance or the Electric Slide? Is there a romantic song that was "your song" with your ex? Make a list of those so your band or DJ will be sure not to include them.

Yes - you should also make a list of some of your favorite songs from the band or DJ's song list.  They may not play every one at your reception, but it will give them an idea of the music you like.

No - you do not have to make a list of every single song and when to play it. In fact, I highly discourage any hint of this. You have hired a professional band or DJ for a reason. Let them put together a playlist that highlights their talents. And in the case of DJs, they often read the crowd and will play similar music if everyone is on the dance floor.

When in doubt, ask your band or DJ what their preferences are if it wasn't stated in the contract or during your consultation.

(photo by Dan Harris PhotoArt of DJ Jeff Bell in action at Tabatha and Dustin's wedding)

Bible Verses For Your Wedding

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Bible verses for your wedding Couples often come to us looking for poems or Bible verses to incorporate into their wedding ceremony. Here are a few favorite verses!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ruth 1:16-17 Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.

Mark 10:6-9 Jesus said, “From the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.' `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Packing For Your Honeymoon: The Carry-On

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When you are busy with a million wedding details, packing for your honeymoon might seem like a low priority. But if you plan ahead, and make a packing list, you'll be on the plane to your dream destination in a flash. Here are some of my favorite things to pack in my under-the-seat carry-on, whether it's a large purse or a tote bag:

  • Notepad and pen: Sure, you can make notes in your phone or tablet, but having paper can come in handy. Maybe you need to write the address of hotel for your non-English-speaking cab driver, or pass little love notes back and forth with your new spouse!
  • Reading material: I prefer electronic reading via my tablet or Kindle, since magazines and books can really add weight to my bag. But, if you plan on buying books or magazines, be sure to do so before arriving at the airport.
  • Ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones: I have issues with ear pain on planes, so I wear ear plugs for take-off and landing. But they also come in very handy when a screaming baby is sitting behind you, or you have an overly chatty neighbor.
  • Scarf or sweater: It seems like airplanes can vary in temperature from 80 degrees to 60 degrees in mere minutes. I prefer to dress in layers to help with the drastic climate changes.
  • Snacks: Let's face it, the junk you can purchase in the airport isn't always the healthiest. And waiting til the flight attendant brings around the little bag of peanuts? Not fun. Pack a little bag of trail mix, granola bars, or other healthy power food to munch on.
  • Water bottle: We all know it's a no-no to take liquids through airport security. But stash an empty bottle in your bag, and fill it up once you've gone through the screening area. If you plan to eat at restaurant inside the terminal, you could even ask your server to put some ice in it! If you are worried about the taste, or traveling somewhere that water is questionable, you could bring along a bottle with a built-in filter.
  • Chargers: During layovers (or extended flight delays), it's always great to give your electronics some extra juice!
  • Medications: It's easy to forget to pack medications in your carry-on.  Remember that flight delays may mean that you need to take your meds before you reach your final destination.
  • Pillow and eye mask: If you're taking a long flight, you may want to bring along a pillow, blanket, or eye mask to help you sleep.
  • Lotion and lip balm: Dry skin and lips drive me crazy! I always keep these two handy on flights, along with eye drops in case my contacts dry out.
  • Valuables: This should go without saying, but be sure your cash/currency, camera, jewelry, and electronics stay with you at all times. Never put these items into a checked bag!

What's your favorite thing to travel with?

Southern Wedding Traditions

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Grooms Cake Jacksonville FL Wedding We're off to Savannah this weekend for the Premier Wedding Expo, so I thought I'd share a few wedding traditions popular in the South:

  • Groom's Cakes: A lot of our clients from other parts of the country haven't even heard of groom's cakes, let alone thought of having one. The groom's cake is supposed to represent the groom's talents or hobbies. Or favorite sports team, which is very popular! (The cake pictured above was from Jenna and Andy's wedding last year.)
  • Pearls: They aren't just jewelry! Although it's popular for brides (and all the women at the wedding!) to wear pearls, they have also made their way into the invitations, the centerpieces, and even the cake!
  • Food: Let's face it y'all. The South is pretty well known for it's scrumptious cuisine. When you attend a Southern wedding, you'll be fed, and fed well.
  • Burying the Bourbon: This one isn't seen quite as often, because many ceremony venues have an issue with you digging up their lawn. But the concept is to bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at the ceremony site to ward off rain. After the ceremony, dig it up and enjoy it with your guests!
  • Monograms: Yes, Southerners love to monogram anything that will stand still. Just remember, a monogram incorporating both the bride and groom's initials plus their new last name initial shouldn't be used until after the I Do's - it's bad luck!

Having A Detailed Backup Plan For Your Wedding

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TPC Sawgrass Wedding - Tonya Beaver Photography

Here in North Florida, we see a lot of outdoor wedding ceremonies. Most venues have a great indoor space that they reserve as a backup, in case of rain. Which let's face it, happens a lot here, especially in the summer months. (Side note: did you know that Jacksonville gets an average of 14 more inches of precipitation every year than Seattle, which is "known" for it's rain?)

But what if you reception is planned to be an outdoor event? It may not be as simple as "we'll just move inside."

We're working with a sweet couple getting married in October, and planning a "dinner under the stars." Today we met at the venue to talk through all the logistics. As we talked, we came up with very detailed Plan A and Plan B options. Because of the logistics of the space, the two are very different. In fact, quite a bit of the reception schedule will change from Plan A to Plan B.

As you are working through your plans, be sure to think through all the logistics from the guest perspective. Talk to your venue staff about the timing of weather calls, which could be anywhere from 2 hours to 24 hours, depending on the complexity of the setup. And communicate Plan A AND Plan B (and Plan C and D if needed!) to all the wedding professionals that will be on-site on the wedding day. But don't wait until the day before! Preparation is key when dealing with Mother Nature.

Note about the photo above: we were playing beat the clock with a storm rolling in just before this ceremony! Luckily we made it, and Ashley and Matt were married in a beautiful ceremony at TPC Sawgrass.

Pure Barre: An Ideal Workout For Brides-To-Be

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Most brides want to take steps to look their absolute best for their big day.  That may entail things like getting a tan or whitening their teeth, but I've observed that, above all, most brides feel the need to tone up before their wedding. I certainly felt like it wouldn’t hurt to find a new workout routine, and when I found out that Pure Barre was opening a studio in my neighborhood, I thought I’d give it a try.

Pure Barre is a full body workout that’s becoming very popular all over the country, and has become a favorite among many celebrities. It’s a 55 minute workout that is sort like a mixture of yoga, Pilates and ballet. Every class focuses on working out arms, thighs, bottom, hips, and abs; trying to target all the popular women problem-areas. The whole class is low impact, protecting your joints by avoiding jumping or bouncing. Every strengthening section is followed by a stretch, making it easy to push through difficult workouts. One of the main keys to success of the class is to make sure you perform everything in small isometric movements to isolate the muscle group quicker.

My first class was extremely interesting; I’ve never done a workout quite like Pure Barre, and I’d like to think I’ve tried many different classes, but Pure Barre is in its own league. The class starts off with an intense warm up that includes planking and pushups, and then continues to go through all the different focus areas. The instructors are all helpful and encourage everyone in the class while playing fun and upbeat music to motivate all throughout the session. The next day I was sore in areas I’d never been sore before, but surprisingly enough I was eager for more.

Pure Barre has different package specials, including a bride-to-be package. If you’re interested in trying a Pure Barre class, make sure to wear pants or capris. Socks are also required and then all equipment is provided for you.

I took full advantage of the bride-to-be special and attend religiously. I love the way I feel after every class and can absolutely see that I’m building toned muscles.

Everybody will find their own desired way to bridal fitness but it's important to remember to start the process early as there may be stumbling blocks, changes-in-direction or even a required push to step up results before the big day.  However, it's critical to remember that this push needs to be healthful and energy-building as the months leading up to your wedding will be very full with preparation and lots of fun activities, and you'll want to be your healthiest!

 

Honoring Your Dad At Your Wedding

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Mike & Marta Sat 0312 SPEC Weddings are often full of very "girly" moments shared between the bride and her mom - picking out the dress, getting hair and makeup done, etc. Dad is usually expected to show up with the checkbook. In honor of Father's Day, we thought we'd look at some ways to make Dad feel extra special on your wedding day.

  • Ask your dad for a military medal, a tie you particularly love, or a piece of jewelry you could incorporate into your wedding day ensemble as your something old.
  • If you won't be seeing your fiance before the wedding, stage a first look with your dad. Fathers often get very emotional the first time they see their little girl in their wedding gown and veil!
  • Take dance lessons with him, and your father-daughter dance will be a big hit.
  • Create something special for him to wear. Dads often look like all the other groomsmen or ushers, wearing the same tuxedo or suit. Get a special tie for him to wear, or add something unique to his boutonniere.
  • Ask your dad to sign your marriage license as one of the witnesses.

Do you have a special way you are including your father on your wedding day?

(Photo above from Marta and Michael's wedding earlier in 2014 - copyright Deremer Studios)