Professional wedding advice for all walks of life. Feel free to ask anything and everything, no topic is off limits!


You got married HOW?

While watching the Olympics in my comfy, (albeit dog-infested), living room with my AMAZING husband, lovely twin sis and hilarious friends; an indoor sky-diving commercial for a Denver facility comes on the television...

"That is crazy, why would anyone want to throw themselves out of an airplane, to their death?!" one of my friends exclaimed in astonishment.

"They're not going to die! You have to take classes and become certified or go tandem with an instructor!" another one of our friends countered.

My husband Pete, (who knows that I am a long time fan of sky-diving and have always wanted to try it-but will probably chicken out when I finally get around to doing it), said "That is actually a really cool thing to do it indoors, I was thinking about doing that for Christy's Christmas gift last year."

----This is totally a digression, but I have to tell you: two of my dear friends have great sky-diving stories... One sky-dove/sky-dived/? out of a helicopter while studying-abroad in Europe. The video footage literally shows her being pulled under the helicopter when she jumps out because of gravity and everything else going on, how awesome does that sound!! Another one of my friends did it naked... I had to share! Back to the point----

Everyone went back to discussing commercials and Olympic athletes, but this little discussion got me thinking... are people crazy to do these types of things? I mean, we only live once, right? Why not have a little fun and get our blood pumping every now and again? Because we could die, that is a good reason not to do exhilarating risky behavior... But wasn't it Ferris Bueller who said, "Don't take life so seriously, no one gets out alive."

Now, this got me thinking even further... many people are afraid of marriage because their parents may have gotten divorced, or they're afraid of commitment, or whatever the reason may be. Even the people who are most against marriage have a hard time refusing to exchange vows if they find the "right person"... So, isn't this essentially the same thing as sky-diving? We are doing something we're afraid of because life is going to end at some point, we might as well be happy while we're still here... Is this too deep? Alright, well I'll quit being so philosophical and get to the fun wedding talk! I did a little research, and here are some awesome local Colorado places for thrill-seekers and scardy-pants alike to exchange their vows:

1) Sky-diving wedding in Longmont Colorado

2) Hot Air Balloon weddings Colorado

3) Rock Climbing Nuptials - Garden of the Gods

4) Roller Coaster Nuptials Denver CO

5) Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, CO
~Not as dangerous, but still pretty unique and fun!


Destination vs Hometown Weddings

One of the first established aspects of a wedding is the, "Where". Travel to a beautiful beach? A snowy mountain resort? Or maybe plan a sentimental wedding in the bride or groom's hometown... There are many amazing places in our country and all over the world to have a destination wedding. Whether your guest list numbers in the hundreds or is a small group of five people, destination weddings are a very fun route.

Many brides and grooms hesitate to even consider the destination option due to budget restrictions. This is a simple case of glass half-empty vs glass half-full mentality! Destination weddings are actually an amazing way to cut your budget in half. Oftentimes, people are less likely to be able to attend your wedding if it is not convenient for them. Your guests have to consider travel plans, time off of work, hotel accommodations, etc. Not only will your guest list be cut in half, but this will also make your wallet happy as your florist and caterer bill will be directly affected! Other parts of your budget will be decreased as well when you decrease your guest list. Sometimes, a bride and groom will block off hotel rooms for their guests, this is totally optional and usually comes with a group discount rate. Nowadays, all the bride and groom have to do is suggest great places to stay and let their guests do the deciding and paying of the tab.

It is very fun to make a long weekend out of a destination wedding. Whether you're planning a dogsledding tour for your guests in the Colorado Rockies, or a Surfing Instructor for the kids in Hawaii; planned activities encourages your guests to make their own mini-vacation out of your wedding weekend-a truly memorable and generous gift.

Speaking of vacations, honeymoons can be an easy transition after a destination wedding. It is a great idea for the couple when they wed in an area they want to honeymoon in as well, the travel plans are cut in half.

Now, if you're more of a hometown kinda gal, can you imagine your wedding being anywhere other than your backyard or the church you grew up in? The plus side to being married at home is that everyone important to you can generally attend without having to stretch their wallet to travel around the world. You're in a place of comfortability and familiarity at home, this means your wedding day will be less nerve-racking. When you're able to let all of the little worries and everything else fall away from your mind, you can truly enjoy your wedding day.

Hometown weddings can be just an expensive, or inexpensive, as destination weddings. Whether the wedding is in Aruba or Dayton, Ohio... in the end, it comes down to the couple's ability to stick to their budget. If there are important aspects of the wedding, the couple should definitely focus their energy and wallet in that area. But if the couple doesn't mind if something is left out of their special day, by all means, they should leave it out. It is about two people who love each other, committing to spending the rest of their lives together. Weddings shouldn't have to be a circus of events put on for their guests amusement. Think about what you want to spend money on, what location/venue is important to you, and get married there-in whatever style your little heart desires!


Guest Book Alternatives

A recurring theme I am starting to pick up on among my blogs and within the wedding world---> how to follow tradition while somehow spicing it up at the same time?? Well, the Guest Book is no exception to this conundrum. Many guests jot down their name and that is it in the Guest Book, how is that fun? The bride and groom already have a copy of their guest-list, why do they want to see it in the guest's actual handwriting? How about a Guest Book you will actually want to look at again after the wedding weekend has concluded? Nay, how about a Guest Book that might actually be functional and multi-purpose? Now that's what I'm talkin' about... let's explore your options:

1) Photo Album Guest Book:
This is an awesome idea, because everyone loves a picture book! I know my husband generally doesn't like to read books unless they have pictures in them... But I digress. There are a couple fun ways to accomplish the Photo Album Guest Book idea. Many people incorporate a Photo Booth into their Receptions now, a fun way for guests to pass the time during cocktail hour while you're taking your professional photos with the Photographer. Photo Booths for weddings are available everywhere, and if you have a great Wedding Planner, you should be able to rent a Photo Booth without breaking your budget.

So, the guests hop in the Photo Booth, take some cute, fun, wacky, silly faced pictures and when they're done, out pops TWO copies of their photos. Now you're killing two birds with one stone, (you've taken care of a "wedding favor" for your guest as well as their guest book entry): guests get to keep one copy of their photo booth slideshow and one copy easily is slid into your Guest Book with an area for them to write a fun note. How much better can a Guest Book be? You've got documentation of what your friends were wearing and what they said on your wedding day, something you will look at with your grandchildren years from now and say, "That was Tommy's grandma back in the day, goodness look at her hair!"

2) Signature Platters:
This Guest Book option is functional and can be displayed anywhere. Very easy to do, go to your local ceramics and firing store and pick what platter you like best. You can even customize them with your monogram or picture. Have the platter on display where your traditional Guest Book would be at the Ceremony, (many couples take it to the Reception as well so their guests aren't in a rush and can take their time writing a meaningful message). After the wedding, insert the platter into your oven and wah-lah, the signatures and messages are baked in time, never to be erased! (Careful not to drop the platter!) I know of couples who have put their platter on permanent display in their china cabinet while other couples have used it as a serving tray for many meals. If you don't have a local ceramics store to pick out platters and fire them, then check out these websites for ideas and products: www.celebrationplates.com (the platter Images above copyright (c) 2000-2009 Just Wright Designs, LLC) and www.ForeverandAlways.com

3) Signature Photo Frames:
Similar to the Signature Platter idea, a signature photo frame is very easy as well. These frames and mattes can be purchased at Target, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and many other retailers for very decent prices. Have a photo of you and your fiance blown up to whatever size you like, then get a frame with enough matte around the photo for your guests to sign during the wedding. This can act as your Guest Book, but many brides still have a traditional Guest Book when they do this option. Sometimes, couples will put an engagement photo in their frame for during the wedding signing session, then afterwards they change the picture to one from the actual wedding. Whatever picture you choose for this frame, it is a great way to be reminded daily of everyone who loves and supports your new marriage. After the wedding you can hang this memory anywhere in your house for your house guests to appreciate and even remember fun times from your wedding.

4) Artistic doodlers Guest Book:
This option allows your guests to have a relaxed but fun way of recording more than just their names. The Guest Book page is set up like an Elementary School project. There are questions such as, "How far did you travel to come to this wedding?" and space for your guest's answers. There are other fun questions for your guests to answer and you can even put pictures of your guests or yourselves in this Guest Book as well!

Another way to customize your ceremony:
-Monogrammed Runners, check out www.FairytaleRunners.com


Mama Martha's awesome DIY

We all know Martha Stewart is the QUEEN of all things crafty, culinary and floral. Today my belief in the church of Martha was reinforced when I stumbled upon some of her DIY links on Twitter... Not only are these ideas very cool and add personalization to any event, they're also obtainable! A DIY project that you can actually do yourself, got to love that.

The first DIY is the, "Just Married" banner sign, that is adorable. She uses alphabet etchings with thin borders which can be transferred to circular thin cardboard then linked together with beautiful ribbons. I particularly love her suggestion of using the banner on your ceremony get-away vehicle, then also including it somewhere in your reception afterwards. It is always great when you and your guests can enjoy something multiple times!

The adorable flower girl parasols and paper magnolia centerpieces are also great re-usable DIY projects. Based on cutting out patterns from Martha's website, these fun decorative pieces are easy to assemble with step-by-step instructions. Your flower girls will love playing with their new toys, which will keep them smiling all through the photography session-a double added bonus because the umbrellas will add that special touch to your pictures as well.

Last but not least, the votive luminaria centerpieces are the perfect easy personalization DIY project for any wedding-related event. As with the previous projects, you can easily use Martha's online templates, but tweek them just a little based on your aesthetic. If your wedding cake or wedding dress has a particular lace theme, you can incorporate this onto the luminaria, too. The print-offs are on an 11-17 piece of paper which can be folded, accordion style and wrapped around the glass votives, hurricanes or whatever vase type you're using.

If you're looking for more of a challenge, I highly recommend trying Miss Cola's DIY Garter. I suggest this purely based on the fact that she stole my heart with the last touch, a beautiful vintage cameo. In a past life I must have worn cameos daily because I just LOVE the darn things. Here is a link to her website:

Happy crafting!!


Thank-you Note Etiquette

Thank you notes are generally not something a bride thinks of during the planning process. Many people are taught to think of life in a sequential time-line. We love lists and bullet points and properly laid out plans... yet, many guests send wedding gifts before the wedding day. So, riddle me this: how do you respond? By RESPONDING. These early gifts are wonderful, fun, stir excitement for the marriage and new life together; but most importantly, these new gifts need to be acknowledged promptly.

When it comes to weddings in today's world, many traditional courtesies and etiquette rules are considered optional and even outdated. I am here to tell you this is AWFUL. Showing appreciation is something that should be vocalized more often and more sincerely, now more than ever.

Here is a nice little bullet point list of Thank you note rules, that in my opinion, are common sense:

-Must be handwritten, no exceptions.
-Include a personal message to the guest if they travelled to celebrate your wedding day with you, acknowledging your appreciation of their extra effort.
-State what the gift is when you're thanking them.
-Include a personal message about how you are going to use the gift.
-Send thank you notes no later than two weeks after you received the gift.
-If you can't get the notes out within a desirable time frame: Better late than never! Always send a thank you note.

Here is an example:

"Dear Aunt Cathy,

Ryan and I were delighted you were able to travel all the way from London to help us celebrate our special day. It was such a pleasure to spend time with you and you definitely won "best moves" on the dance floor! Thank you very much for the lovely KitchenAid Mixer, we can't wait to use it when we host our first dinner party as a married couple. You always have an open invitation to our new house in Colorado!

Thanks again for your generosity, we love you very much.
Ryan and Sarah (The Greatest Thank-you-note-writer your Aunt Cathy has seen in a while!)"

There are many ways to personalize your Thank you cards, just think outside the box. If all else fails, shoot dear old Christy an email and I'll help you out ;)

Hypothetically... I heart lists.

Ceremony Site Fee
Officiant's Fee
Officiant's Gratuity
Guest Book, Pen
Ring Bearer Pillow
Flower Girl Basket

Bridal Gown
Headpiece & Veil
Makeup Artist
Groom's Formal Wear

Bride & Groom's Album
Parents' Album
Extra Prints
Engagement Photographs

Main Video
Extra Hours
Photo Montage
Extra Copies

Response Cards
Reception Cards
Ceremony Cards
Place Setting Cards
Rain Cards/Maps
Ceremony Programs
Thank-You Notes

Ceremony Music
Reception Music
Cocktail Hour Music

eception Site Fee
Hors D' Oeuvres
Main Meal/Caterer
Liquor/ Beverages
Bartending Fee
Bar Set-up Fee
Service Providers' Meals
Party Favors
Gift Attendant
Parking Fee
Valet Service

Maid of Honor's

Floral Hairpiece
Flower Girl's

Bride's Mother & Grandmother
Groom's Mother & Grandmother
Other Family Members'

Bride's Father & Grandfather
Groom's Father & Grandfather
Other Family members'

Ceremony Site
Main Altar
Alter Candelabra
Aisle Pews

Reception Site
Head Table
Guest Tables
Buffet Table
Punch Table
Cake Table
Cake & Knife
Toasting Glasses
Floral Delivery & Setup fees

Wedding Cake
Groom's Cake
Cake Delivery
Set-up Fee
Cake-Cutting Fee
Cake Top
Cake Knife/Toast Glasses

Table Centerpieces
Couple Photos or Slideshow

imo/car to Reception from Church
Limo/car to hotel
Any taxi services provided to guests

Bridal Slip
Ceremony Accessories
Dance Floor

Bride's Gift
Groom's Gift
Bridesmaids' Gifts
Ushers' Gifts
Parents' Gift

Bridesmaids' Luncheon
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
Rehearsal Dinner

Newspaper Announ.
Marriage License
Prenuptial Agreement
Bridal Gown/Bouquet
Wedding Consultant

Just a general spouting off of items in categories, that you may or may not need for your wedding... obvi every event is different, but these are the basics.


Important vs. Not Important

The CEO of Coke, Bryan Dyson, (in his '30 second speech’), said "Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, Friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it."

Weigh the pros and cons of what you're spending your time and money on during the planning process, make sure you focus on what really matters!