Stress-free planning

The excitement of a wedding day (a.k.a., preparing for your red carpet moment), can be overwhelming, especially when individual expectations and planning costs continue to escalate the further along you are in the planning process. With the average cost of weddings climbing three to five percent each year, it is no surprise that more couples are turning to their families and savings accounts to help them bankroll their dream day. And as costs increase, so does the pressure to have everything be perfect. Stress is inevitable while planning a wedding, but knowing how to manage your emotional and physical load will allow you to sail through the planning process with a sense of confidence and clarity – and without unleashing your dark side on family and friends. The following are some common stressors that many brides experience, as well as some advice on how to deal with them.

1. Feeling frustrated when discussing the financials with your family and/or fiancé 
Securing an overall spending limit at the very beginning of your planning process with all the financial contributors involved is the best way to avoid conflict. A professional planner can be hired on an hourly basis to help everyone understand and establish realistic projected wedding costs based on the planner’s prior experience. Once a limit is established and agreed upon, you will not have to go back and forth to get approval for every check written or expenditure made. You may even consider opening up a “wedding checking account,” which will allow you to access the agreed upon funds without initiating a new discussion every time a deposit or purchase is needed.

2. Struggling with the cost of all the details you think you need for a dream wedding
Decide on your top five “must haves” for the wedding and devote your energy to making them happen. For most brides this list may include an amazing photographer, entertainment that keeps the party exciting, a dream dress, a personalized ceremony, or a beautiful location for the reception. Once you identify what is truly important to you, you will realize that not everything on your list is essential to making your day special. Stay focused on your top five dream pieces, and let all the other details become icing on the cake as your spending limit allows.

3. Disappointment in wedding attendants who show a lack of enthusiasm and support 
Before asking your close family members or friends to stand up for you at your wedding, share your expectations with them. You should also take some time to think about the level of involvement you are anticipating from them. Be realistic about their level of involvement, so as to not set yourself up for disappointment. You might start off the conversation by sharing how much their friendship means to you, and what it means to be a significant part of your big day. You may be hoping that they will host or manage a bachelorette party, maybe accompany you to some of your planning meetings, or help you select the wedding attire. Whatever the expectation, be sure to communicate it to them before they have the opportunity to give you a “yes” or “no” answer.

4. Feeling overwhelmed by having so much to do in so little time 
Feeling overwhelmed on occasion is natural. If you are feeling overwhelmed regularly, you may want to consider asking for help, whether it be from a good friend or family member or a professional wedding coordinator. There are no awards given out for over extending oneself; if a task feels more like a “mountain” than a “speed bump,” break down each task into steps and prioritize them into a schedule that is manageable with your lifestyle (work, play, rest, and dreams). Keep paperwork (tear sheets, contracts, business cards, notes, etc.) organized in a binder with sectional tabs. If information is orderly, one is more likely to feel in control and at ease. Planning any size event is more manageable when the details are organized. Remember: It all gets done, little by little, through balanced planning. “Sip” in the planning process by doing a little at a time. “Gulping” will most likely make it feel bigger than it has to be.

It is important to know that as this life-altering day approaches, it is normal to feel sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, and nervous at times. Hiring a wedding planner to help you coordinate and organize your wedding is just one way you can remedy a stressful situation. Exercising, sometimes with the help of a personal trainer, is another way to work off the stress and clear your head. Creating more time for the things that reconnect your mind, body, and soul, such as yoga, journaling, or even date nights with your soon-to-be-husband (when wedding details are NOT discussed) are other healthy ways of coping with this new, albeit temporary, state of being. Whichever way you choose, it is important that you take the necessary steps to alleviate stress instead of simply hoping the stress will go away on its own. Managing your wedding planning responsibilities and the stress they can bring are vital to enjoying this extremely unique and priceless time in your life.

Wedding facts

Do you know the exact meaning behind the phrase “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something blue?  (and a silver sixpence in her shoe)?”  Each “something” represents a unique wish for the couple, including…

  • Continuity (Old)
  • Optimism for the future (New)
  • Borrowed happiness (Borrowed)
  • Fidelity (Blue)
  • Wealth or luck (Silver sixpence)

Interesting isn’t it? You learn something new every day! But there’s plenty more where that came from! I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can…

Thank King Maximilian for your engagement ring: If it wasn’t for Germany’s King Maximilian I popping the question with diamonds to Mary of Burgundy back in 1477, diamond engagement rings might never have taken off.

And Pope Innocent III for your wedding band & cushy planning period: In the late 1100s, Pope Innocent III decided that in order to get hitched, couples would have to wait. The imposed waiting period between betrothal and I Do‘s led to a separate engagement and wedding ring. Thank you, Popey!

Chim Chimney Kissies: Back in the day, brides in Great Britain were encouraged to lock lips with a chimney sweep on their wedding day. Why? Because when he cleaned the chimney, he also would sweep evil spirits away (or so the story goes). Pucker up!

Royals love wedding cake: Since wedding cakes, historically, symbolized good luck and fertility, it’s no wonder that larger than life cakes have always been a staple at royal weddings. Queen Victoria’s wedding cake weighed a whopping 300 pounds and was three yards wide, and Queen Elizabeth II had 12 wedding cakes. The one cake Queen Elizabeth II actually cut at her wedding—500 pounds, nine feet tall!

How veils came to be: While the bridal veil historically represented youth and virginity, it also helped the bride ward off the Evil Eye and jealous spirits. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that white veils became the norm (with red, blue and yellow bridal veils common before this time).

From herbs beneath the veil to a bouquet in the hand: Early Roman brides sported herbs like garlic and rosemary underneath the bridal veil. The herbs symbolized fidelity & fertility, and fending off evil spirits, and served as a precursor to the modern bridal bouquet.

Why flower girls throw petals: To lead the bride to a sweet, plentiful future.

Tying the Knot, literally: The phrase ‘Tying the knot’ dates back to ancient Babylon, long before engagement rings and wedding bands came about. Threads from the clothes of both the bride and groom were tied in a knot, symbolizing the couple’s new union.

Hellbound if you die a single man: In places like Fiji and Siberia, it’s a damning sin NOT to get hitched. Fijian’s believe that bachelors who die before getting married are turned to ash by the Fijian God (Nangganangga), who watches over married couples. And in Siberia, when a single man dies… his soul remains on earth to haunt the living. How’s that for a compelling reason to get married?!

Shocked? Awed? Happy Monday and let me know which of these facts surprised you the most:)

(c) Julian Ribinik Photography

Handling your guests without loosing your mind!

Everyone involved in a wedding has a part to play — and that includes the guests. And I’m not just talking about purchasing a gift! Although guests may seem to play a simple role in a wedding, they are famous for causing complications for the bride.

Complication #1: You can’t get a final headcount.

It’s getting close to your cut-off date and you still haven’t heard from everyone. You can’t work on seating, your caterer is getting antsy, and you don’t know how much champagne to order. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to start checking in with your guests. Try to give them a short amount of time to pull together their answer, and keep your message simple: “Hi Aunt Sara, it’s Natalie. We need to give our numbers to the caterers by Friday, and I haven’t received a reply from you, so I’m calling to see if you and Uncle Jason will be attending the wedding. We hope you can still make it!”

If you need to, you can have your fiancé, your parents, or even your attendants help you to make the calls. If a guest replies after the cut-off date, it’s up to you whether you can still accommodate them, though I recommend making it happen whenever possible. A little extra effort with the seating arrangements or a call to the caterer now will be much appreciated in the long run.
Complication #2: Guests want to bring guests of their own.

After much negotiating, crunching of numbers, appeasing of parents, and searching of venues, you finally locked in your final guest list. Then a loved one (or two, or 10) replies for themselves and a guest when no “and guest” was invited. Awkward as it may feel to have pressed for a reply, it’s nothing compared to the agony some brides face when people assume they can bring dates. Wedding invitations are not negotiations; the inner envelope is the final word on who exactly is being invited, and the names listed there are the only guests included in the invitation. (The one exception is when the phrase “and family” or “and children” appears, implying that any and all family members residing under the same roof are included.) If you run into this problem, it’s completely acceptable to contact the overzealous respondents and explain that the size of your venue (or spending limit) won’t allow you to add extra people to the guest list. It’s not okay for guests to ask you to make exceptions, so it won’t be rude in the least to stand by your guest list.

Now, you might wonder if there are times when a guest should in fact have a plus one. Brides and grooms should be aware that spouses, fiancé(e)s and live-in romantic partners (no matter the sex) must be invited with your guests; boyfriends and girlfriends who don’t reside together don’t need to be. This goes for anyone invited to the rehearsal dinner, too.

Complication #3: Guests assume they can bring their kids.

Remember the hard-won guest list you just had to protect from people who want to bring dates? Now you need to defend it from people who RSVP’d for themselves and their children, when in fact their little cherubs weren’t invited. Some parents do this in error, and others decide that you couldn’t possibly have meant to exclude their offspring. Either way, you’ll need to call to correct the situation. “Lisa, we are so happy that you and Alex are able to attend, but we’ve decided not to have kids at the wedding. We hope you both can still make it.”

Stick to your guns — making exceptions for one couple is insulting to other guests who respected your decision. If there are couples you suspect may get upset or have trouble finding a sitter, call them as soon as you know that children won’t be invited — even before the invitations have been sent — to alert them. By doing this you leave no room for doubt when their invitation arrives, and you also give them as much time as possible to make arrangements.

Complication #4: Extra guests show up at the reception.

And just when you thought you had cleared all the hurdles, you turn, white gown billowing around you, to see familiar faces whose names aren’t on the seating chart. At this point, the best thing to do is ask your caterer or wedding planner to find extra seats and arrange plates of food; then take a deep breath and welcome your new guests. And while you may be tempted, don’t read them a lecture on the finer points of invitation etiquette. This restraint will keep you calm, and shows the most gracious side of etiquette: the willingness to accept someone despite their lapse of manners.

Happy Friday and stay Fabulous!!!:)

(c) Julian Ribinik Photography

Average Wedding Cost

I came across a very interesting site where you, depending on your geographical location, can figure out an estimate $$$ for a wedding.  This site,, shows that in NY (I entered a midtown zipcode) couples spend on average $37K on a wedding preparations and celebration.  The picture shows you a typical breakdown on costs and categories.  Check it out, see how close your budget numbers are to these estimates!

Have Fun Tuesday and happy planning!

Choose your first dance song

There are many aspects to a wedding which you can put your stamp on in order to make it unique to you both. However the first dance is probably the part guests look to for the biggest insight into you as a couple – so how do you get it right?

Choosing a wedding song sets the tone of your day, but also your relationship. The song you pick to dance to for the first time as partners must say something your personalities, your outlook and get everyone in the mood for a good party to celebrate your future happiness together!

Hire a Wedding Band

Playing your favourite song through a music system does the job good enough; but imagine having a live band kick off the evening’s entertainment by playing it to you both in front of all your guests.  Bands for weddings are a great idea to make it just that little bit more special and you can tailor your choice of band to your musical tastes.  There are lots of themes to pick from Bollywood, jazz, classical, Latin music and much more, depending on what your tastes are – and this makes your wedding completely unique to you.

Look Back at Key Events in Your Lives

If you look back over the special times you’ve shared together, think about whether there are any songs with words which reflect these times. Are they significant lyrically? Was there any particular music playing when you first met or when you shared your first kiss?

Choose Music from the Decade You Met

If you met in University in the late nineties or early noughties, for example, you could follow the lead of the Royal couple and choose some of the songs that will have been played at your Student Union. Music from the time you met is nostalgic and carries with it a sense of fun that will set the tone for the rest of the evening’s festivities.

Google ‘Love’!

If you’re after a big romantic ballad that sums up that the occasion is a celebration of love, then you might want to simple search on the internet for any songs containing the words ‘love’ – you’re sure to find lots of options this way. Then you can just pick your favourite and the one that most suits you.

Good luck and stay fabulous:) Happy Friday!

(c) Julian Ribinik Photography