Introducing...Planning Websites!

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Our team (especially Danielle!) has been working hard on developing a great new service for our clients, and I'm proud to announce that we are ready for the big reveal!

We are introducing Planning Websites for all of our brides and grooms to interact with their coordinator.  It's a great way to share documents, photos, to-do lists, ideas and more!

We're still in the process of creating individual websites for our current clients, but we are busy uploading files!  You'll receive an email when your website is up and running.

But don't be worried - these sites are only accessible to people that are invited, so the entire world won't know how much you're spending on your flowers or what your dress looks like!


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Candy Station Resources

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In case you didn't see it, Martha Stewart's wedding goddess Darcy Miller highlighted candy station ideas on the "Martha" show recently.  Darcy was nice enough to post a list of some favorite suppliers for the yummy treats they love, which you can find here:  http://www.marthastewart.com/article/favorite-candy-vendors.

Of course, we can help you find lots of great local vendors that provide unique treats as well!  And are you wondering where to get all those cute containers?  We can help with that too!

Is there an idea you have seen or used that you would like to share?  Post a comment!


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Cute Find...

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These adorable purses are hand crafted by Brooke Galardi, founder of BeeGee Bags.  I think they’re a great gift idea for bridesmaids, birthdays, the upcoming holidays, (or your hardworking intern)! Custom orders for bridal parties are also available!

Check out all of the great designs at www.beegeebags.com


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BridalCanvas.com

I received an email over the weekend about a great new service called Bridal Canvas.  I had a chance to check it out this morning, and I have to say, I could spend all day playing with it!  It is an easy way to create inspiration boards for your wedding using pre-loaded images or upload your own.

The great thing is that the pre-loaded images have the source listed - so if you want to post an inspiration board on you Knot profile or blog, you don't have to label each picture; the program does it for you!

Plus it's entirely web-based, so it's super easy to share your creation with your mom, maid of honor, florist and wedding consultant!  And it's free!

Check it out at www.bridalcanvas.com.


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Be Our Guest: Avoiding Wedding Purgatory

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Continuing with our series on how to be more concious of one's guests... today we will address the cocktail hour entertainment, or rather lack there of.  I would say that about 50% of my brides, regardless of budget,  often overlook designing an entertaining cocktail hour experience.  In fact, I would venture to say that most of my brides see any money spent on this element as frugal.  Guests have just sat through the ceremony, and while they will enjoy the time to wind down (and will undoubtedly appreciate a cocktail or two) the full hour can feel a little like wedding purgatory- a limbo of sorts where eventually everyone is standing around anxiously anticipating the arrival of the main courses, the couple, and the party. 

One of my favorite ways to bring a little life to the cocktail hour is by engaging guests with a playful and unexpected element.  Before you assume that this is yet another evil ploy from the "wedding industrial complex" understand that such an element does not necessarily mean spending a ton of money.

Perhaps you are having an outdoor cocktail hour on a grassy knoll?  Consider adding a little croquet, badmitton, or bocce ball for good measure. 

Have a little extra change in your budget?  Consider hiring an interactive entertainer like a card musician, fortune teller, cigar roller, silhouette artist, caricature artist, etc.  Having someone either work the crowd, or provide a station, can really loosen up the mood of the evening. 

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Looking to stay traditional?  Go ahead and get a little cheeky with a string quartet that plays strictly Beetles and contemporary selections.

The greatest benefit to providing cocktail entertainment is that your guests will soon forget that your photos are running over time or that they're starving.  Those guests who are not familiar with anyone else will find common grounds to start conversation over.  Let this hour set the stage for the rest of your evening... as the more comfortable that your guests become during this hour, the more apt they are to engage the rest of the evening and stay until the end.


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Cute Find on Etsy

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I was browsing for jewelry on Etsy recently and came across this super cute necklace.  What a perfect gift for bridesmaids!  Not only will they look terrific on the wedding day, but this necklace is so versatile that it could be worn to work or to dress up a simple dress for a night out! It also comes in over 15 colors.

The Karoline necklace can be found at A Finishing Touch's Etsy shop.  They specialize in wedding-day jewelry for brides, bridesmaids and moms, but all their pieces are great for everyday wear too.  And the prices are great too!

If you're not familiar with Etsy, check it out!  It's an online community for buying and selling things that are handmade.  So if you love the cute do-it-yourself jewelry, purses, clothing, or other accessories but aren't the crafty type (or are just too busy like me!), you'll love it!


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Be Our Guest: Musical Chairs

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Recently, I have noticed that brides are being more attentive to their guests' comfort levels.  This can be as simple as  providing an alternative to dancing, a welcome bag for out of town guests, or flip flops at a beach ceremony.  It's these thoughtful touches that really make an event special and memorable.  Thus, I've decided to author a weekly editorial here on the blog called "Be Our Guest" where I'll share some of my favorite ideas on how to make a wedding more approachable for your guests. One difficulty that brides often overlook when planning their wedding, is how they will make time for EVERY ONE of their 300 guests.  While being the center of attention can be flattering, it is also a little overwhelming.  After an 8 hour plane ride, two nights in a hotel, a $50 wedding gift, and an hour long wedding mass... your guests are going to be more than anxious to chat with the happy couple.  Enter the difficulty.  Somewhere between the avande garde photoshoot after the ceremony, seated five course dinner, rigorously scheduled reception, and sparkler exit... there just doesn't seem to be a whole heck of a lot of room to spend a quality minute or two with each guest.  What is a bride to to?

In the past, this was the reasoning for a receiving line after the ceremony.  It gave the bride, groom, and their parents time to formally receive each guest and make them feel acknowledged and appreciated.  However, these can be rather time-consuming and will eat a huge chunk of your 4 hour reception.  And, truth be told, it can feel a little awkward to have a quality conversation while 150 guests are behind you waiting their turn... thus I come bearing a few modern alternatives to the receiving line:

1. See Eachother Before the Ceremony

I know, I know.  You've pictured that intimate moment where the doors to the chapel fling open and you are there looking at your groom from afar.  His eyes well with tears of pride and happiness and it is all captured on film forever.  But, and hear me out, imagine this same senerio a couple of hours before the ceremony - in a secluded, picture perfect spot.  You can eliminate post-wedding photo taking by having ALL formal photos done before the wedding begins.  This leaves the cocktail hour open to mingle with guests one on one.

2. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo

If you are having a buffet, consider going from table to table as your Master of Ceremonies dismisses them.  It will give you time to say hello to guests as they are waiting for their table to be called... and timing it just right with your dj will mean that your conversation will end just as they are invited to the buffet. (Have a member of the catering staff make you a plate as you are nearing the last table being called.  This will also ensure that everyone is done eatting by the time the toasts and dancing begin.)

3. Musical Chairs

If you are opting for a seated dinner, consider having two additional place settings at each table (i/e seat 8 guests and have 2 extra chairs making 10).  Start at one side of the room and set your watch.  Every 7 minutes or so, pick up your plates and move on.  This relieves the need for a "head table" and makes every single guest feel like a VIP.

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Here's what Kristen, a recent bride had to say about her expierience:

"...the wedding day, she had the idea of my husband and I talking to all the guests at their tables, avoiding the typically line at the Bride & Groom's table. We went to our guests tables while each table was being dismissed to the buffet. This was the number one thing that we received feedback on from our guests. Most guests said they had never been to a wedding where the bride & groom did not start eating FIRST and then talked to a few guests. "


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Special Contest for Blog Readers!

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This Sunday, September 7th, we will giving away a great prize to the first bride or groom that comes to our booth and mentions this post!

FREE WEDDING WEBSITE FOR 6 MONTHS from Wedding Window!

Wedding Window offers the best customization and easiest setup of all the sites we have previewed.  This $59 value goes to the first bride or groom that comes to our booth (look for us with The Wedding Party) and mentions this post!

How much easier could that be?!


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Dancing Through Life

While I was at the ABC conference this week, I met two super fun people with a super great product - "Dancing Together: A 90-minute Guide for a Beautiful Wedding Dance."  While I often suggest to my couples that they should take dance lessons prior to their wedding, this DVD is great for those that have limited time or limited budgets.  Plus, it can be done in the privacy of your own home! The DVD breaks down basic steps, and teaches you how to either "lead" or "follow" rather than choreographing specific moves.  This means you not only learn to dance for your wedding, but you learn to dance for life!  The 90-minute video is broken down into chapters, which include:

  • First Dance Steps
  • Moving Your Partner
  • Rotating Steps
  • Follower's Turn
  • The Entrance
  • Moving Away and Together
  • She Goes Turn
  • Waist Slide Turn
  • The Ending
  • Selecting Your Music
  • The video's website, http://beautifulweddingdance.com, has sample clips, reviews, and ordering information.

    As a special gift to all First Coast Weddings and Events 2008 couples, we will be sending this DVD to you for free!


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    Very Special Bouquets

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    To add a special touch to your bouquet, have each bridesmaid carry a bouquet of one type of flower that is in your bouquet.  It's a neat little preview of your bouquet and looks great in pictures.

    If you have your wedding dress made for you, have your seamstress save material to wrap around the stems of the bouquets.     


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    At Home Cards

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    "At home" cards are an often-overlooked tradition, but they can be extremely useful to your guests!  Not only does the card inform your friends and family of your new address, but it also specifies the name you have chosen to use.  As more and more brides chose to keep their maiden name or hyphenate their husband's name, wedding guests can be confused as to how to address the newly married couple.

    Some examples:

    At home after the first of December 111 Main Street Jacksonville, Florida 12345

    Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Smith after the first of December 111 Main Street Jacksonville, Florida 12345

    Dr. Julia Michaels and Mr. Jonathan Hall after the first of December 111 Main Street Jacksonville, Florida 12345

    Traditionally, at-home cards are mailed with the formal wedding invitation, however they can be mailed separately the week of the wedding, or after the wedding.  These cards should be ordered at the same time your wedding invitations are ordered.


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    Wedding Maps Made Easy!

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    If you want to share a great map with your wedding guests, be sure to visit Wedding Mapper!  You can create a free interactive map that includes the ceremony and reception sites, plus hotels, airports, attractions, restaurants and more! map.jpg You can even upgrade to a map with no ads, a personal web address, and additional links (such as your registry information) for a one-time fee of $9.95. 

    As an added bonus, Wedding Mapper has partnered with Distinctive Directions to give you 10% off when you turn your online map into a printed version.  The graphic they create can be used for programs, map/direction cards in invitations, welcome basket letters, and more!


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    The Last Dance

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    My new favorite wedding tradition was suggested by Darrin Franz of Deland Entertainment for the wedding of Mandy and Zeus.  

    When it was time for the last dance, all of the guests were asked to leave the ballroom, leaving only the bride and groom. Even the vendors and venue staff left the room after photographer Nikki McEneaney snapped this pic. (Okay, I'll be honest - we took turns peaking in through a tiny window!)

    What a romantic way to end the evening.  And when the dance was over, the guests were all positioned outside to send the bride and groom off.  What new or unique "traditions" can you start at your wedding?


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