Wedding Favors for Wine Fans

As people get older, their tastes almost always shift away from light beers and hard alcohol to the more refined flavors of wine. Wine is one of those international beverages that just screams “classy”, so what better idea for your wedding favors than to give your guests items to make their wine drinking more pleasurable?

Whether designed as a wedding favor or not, there are dozens of great tools and accessories that are either required to properly drink wine or make the experience better. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has everything that has ever been invented to make wine drinking better, so that makes it the perfect choice to give to your guests as wedding favors. With so many great options available, it can be tough to decide what will work best for your wedding. Here is a short list of the most common choices as well as my personal favorites to be used as weddings favors.

Wine Pourers

Wine PourersOne of my personal favorite items that, in my experience, almost no wine drinkers own are wine pourers. These little devices slip onto the top of your open wine bottle to properly aerate the wine as you pour it into your wine glass. Some of the fancier versions out there even act as a wine stopper so that your wine doesn’t lose its flavor and complexity after it has been opened. Best of all, there is a great variety of designs available that will work perfect as a wedding favor including such as a ship’s wheel, heart shapes, and even customized wine pourers with your names and wedding date etched into the metal.

Corkscrews

CorkscrewsCorkscrews are one of those items that everyone should own; even if they don’t drink wine very often. You never know when someone will show up with a bottle of nice wine for a dinner party or as a gift, and there truly is no replacement for the corkscrew as a tool to remove the cork from the bottle. Additionally, corkscrews have long been a preferred wedding favor because they are handy, commemorative, and also classy. There are literally hundreds of designs available, but my favorites for use as a wedding favor include ones with hearts, musical notes, or starfish.

Wine Stoppers

Wine StoppersNo wine drinker’s experience can be complete without a wine stopper, and it’s also one of those items that many people simply do not own. Most of the time when you’re drinking wine at a friend’s house, they will simply flip the cork upside down and use it as a make-shift wine stopper. However, once the cork has been removed from the bottle, it no longer seals properly which can lead to the wine losing its flavor in a big hurry. An actual wine stopper will remedy this problem beautifully and look good while it does the job. There are many designs available that make them an ideal wedding favor, but my personal favorite happens to be the one with a large diamond ring as the decorative top piece.

Personalized Wine Glasses

Personalized Wine GlassesIf you’re ready to pull out all the stops and give your wedding guests one of the most memorable wedding favors imaginable, then personalized wine glasses should be at the top of your list. Your guests will love drinking out of their wine glasses at your reception, but the best part is that they can pull them out the next time you’re at their house for a dinner party to enjoy them all over again. The downside with personalized wine glasses is that they are usually quite expensive to have your names and wedding date etched into the side of each glass, but all that money will be well worth it when your guest are enjoying some delicious wine out of a one-of-a-kind wine glass.

Things to do Before Having Kids

Kids After Your WeddingAs soon as you get engaged, the first question that you’ll start hearing from your friends and family is “when are you going to get married?” As soon as you get married, you’ll almost immediately begin hearing the question “when are you going to have kids?” Though many couples have a very strong desire to start a family not too long after their wedding, there are some things you may want to consider before you make that leap. Some people may argue that the whole point of getting married is to eventually have children, and I think that the vast majority of people would agree. However, marriage is also about the two of you sharing your lives together, so you need to make sure you get some “you time” in before you are responsible for another human being. Here are some things you should do before you have children so you don’t feel like your love life slipped you by when you’re attending a parent/teacher conference in 10 years.

Travel

One of the hardest things to do after you have children is travel, so exploring the world a little after your wedding can really be a nice treat. Sure, you will probably take plenty of family vacations after you have some little ones running around; but that is much different than a romantic getaway for just you and your spouse. After your honeymoon, it’s a good idea to take a few trips over the next two or three years before starting your family so you can build your romantic bond that will endure for the next twenty-five years as you raise your children together.

Get to Know Children

Chances are that if you’re old enough to be getting married that you’ll have some friends that have started their families already. This can be a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the parenting department by offering to babysit their kids so they can go out for a romantic night on the town. The benefit here is two-fold; first you get the opportunity to experience spending time with children and second you are earning yourself the chance for a night out later on when you have children of your own. Babysitting a few times for your friends won’t give you all the experience of having your own children, but it will certainly give you a heads up on what to expect so you can judge for yourself when you’re ready to start your family.

Create a Network

One of the most important things you can do when you start your family is to have friends that have children as well, so the earlier you start building this network the better. There are a ton of advantage to knowing other families such as organizing play dates, swapping babysitting duties periodically, and gaining tips and advice. Knowing someone with children just slightly older than your own can be a huge benefit because they can give you advice from real life experience when your own children hit that age and experience the same things.

Start Your Career

One of the toughest things in life after you get married and have children is trying to balance your schedule and prioritize the things that need to get done. Between cooking, cleaning, and getting your kids to school or daycare on time, there can be very little time left to spend with your spouse or fitting in that precious alone time. Your best chance for success is to attempt to find a career that fits into a somewhat regular schedule with the rest of your family’s activities. Try to get a job that starts at a regular time so you can see your kids off to school or daycare, be home to see them in the evening, and spend time with your spouse for a few hours before its time to go to bed.

Though no two families are exactly the same, there are basic human needs that all of us share. The best advice that I can give you is to spend some time with each other before you need to focus almost exclusively on your children and your family life is sure to start out on the right foot. Instead of rushing to have kids right after your wedding, try to take your time and build your new life together one brick at a time.

Don’t Burnout on Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning BurnoutSo you’ve picked out your date and are ready to start planning your wedding, and everything seems like it is going to start to get exciting. The thought of going out to pick your wedding dress and sample different flavors of wedding cake really gets your heart pumping, and you have your eyes on the prize and are ready to get going. But the fact of the matter is that planning your wedding is not all fun and games, there is actually quite a bit of work and stress involved that can quickly make you burnout before you even get moving if you don’t plan ahead.

While it is completely normal to dive in head first and completely immerse yourself in the wedding planning process, it is also very important to keep a fairly normal routine so you don’t take on too much stress at one time. By breaking up the monotony with regular activities, you can keep yourself motivated, reduce the amount of stress that you would build-up, and go into your wedding day relaxed and confident that you have everything set to go. Here are a few tips to ensure that your wedding planning goes smoothly and you don’t burnout halfway through the job.

Exercise Plan

If you already have a good exercise plan in place, don’t stop doing it. If you don’t currently workout, now is a great time to start. Going to the gym on a regular basis can really help you eliminate a lot of the stress and frustration that goes along with planning a wedding, plus it will help you fit into your dress when the big day finally arrives.

Girl Time

There’s nothing more relaxing than blowing off some steam with your friends, and this can be a great outlet while you’re planning your wedding. This doesn’t mean that you need to go and hang out with the girls that will be in your bridal party since the conversation will usually gravitate back to your wedding, but perhaps you can call up some old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Another option is to go out with some co-workers after work to have a drink before heading home. The idea is to distract yourself from wedding planning for a little while so you can keep a cool head and avoid a burnout.

Alone Time

Just like spending time with your friends, spending a little time alone can really help you get your head together. Consider taking a nice hot bath with your favorite book, going for a nature walk, or even treating yourself to a spa day. Whatever it is in life that allows you to relax, find it and do it as often as your busy schedule permits.

Spend time alone: Take a day (maybe on the weekend) or take a mental health day from work and pamper yourself.  Go to the spa, get your nails done, sleep, read a book, drink a glass (or two!) of wine or enjoy a really good cup of coffee.  Relax with your favorite movie and junk food. Do something that you know will completely leave you feeling relaxed and ready to tackle anything.

Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Choosing Your BridesmaidsIdeally, choosing your bridesmaids should be a fun process where all of your friends and family rally behind your decision. Even if someone wanted to be selected for a specific role and got passed by, they should still be happy for you and be ready to do whatever you call on them to do during the wedding planning process. However, this isn’t always the case, so often times there is politics involved in your bridesmaid selection process. Fortunately, choosing your bridesmaids doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you use some careful planning and a scientific process to determine who is chosen. Here are some helpful tips on choosing your bridesmaids that will make the process as simple as possible.

Maid of Honor

The very first thing you want to do is to determine who your maid of honor will be. This choice will probably require the most amount of thought and may even be very difficult, but once she has been selected the rest of your bridesmaids can easily fall in place. If you’re having trouble choosing a maid of honor, think about your very best friend in the world and your closest family member. If you feel like there may be a feud based on which friend you choose to be your maid of honor, consider choosing your closest sister since most girls won’t care about the order of bridesmaids after the maid of honor.

Family

Whether or not you choose to have your sister be your maid of honor, you should always consider your closest family members before anyone else. If you truly have friends that are closer than your sisters, it’s certainly okay to choose them instead; just be prepared for some hurt feelings. This is especially true if you choose one sister and not another because this can lead to a harsh sense of rejection. Just remember, your family will always be there for you no matter what life throws at you, so you should always consider them before you consider your friends for a role in your wedding.

Friends

Delegating friends to be part of your bridal party can be a little tricky depending on how many different circles you are a part of. For instance, if you hang out primarily with a group of girls that all know each other very well but give the maid of honor title to a childhood friend, there may be some bitterness because she doesn’t know your current friends very well. Similarly, if you choose from within that circle of friends, the other girls in the circle may be hurt because you regard one of them closer than the others. It can be a slippery slope, but just remember that the choice is yours and your girls should back you up no matter what.

Other Considerations

Sometimes your bridesmaid choices won’t be as cut-and-dry as who you want in the bridal party. Other factors such as finances, responsibility level, or just geographic location can stand in the way of a first choice being possible. Make sure you consider all the variables that go into picking your bridesmaids and try to look at it from a scientific point of view. Sometimes it seems like a person is the right choice at first, but when you weigh out all the details it turns out that someone else is a much better fit for that role after all.

Choosing Artificial Wedding Flowers

Artificial FlowersWedding flowers are an essential part of the decorations for any wedding, and often times they will not be included in the price of your venue rental. Occasionally, a ceremony or reception venue will supply standard bouquets and centerpieces around the hall that will be reused for every wedding that comes through, but often times you’ll need to supply them yourself. That isn’t all bad, though, since you will probably have a personal preference in the variety and colors that you want your wedding flowers to be. Unfortunately, the cost of buying wedding flowers is usually pretty high, which means you’re going to end up paying an arm and a leg for plants that you’ll be throwing away the next day.

The good news is that there are many great alternatives to buy expensive wedding flowers from a florist, namely artificial flowers. Though it may sound like you are compromising from your original plan of having real flowers, choosing artificial wedding flowers actually has many benefits over buying the real thing. Here are a few things to consider before you decide whether to buy real flowers or opt to buy artificial flowers for your wedding.

Types of Artificial Flowers

There are three main types of artificial flowers that can replace the real thing; plastic flowers, paper flowers, and wooden flowers. Plastic flowers are a great choice because they are very inexpensive and are made to look very similar to the real thing. They are also available in a wide variety of colors; even color choices that you can’t get with real flowers because they are too complex to occur in nature or for your florist to use dye to reproduce. Also, since you can buy them made from recycled plastics, they are considered eco-friendly.

The next option is paper flowers which don’t actually look anything like real flowers but will still get the same point across. You can either spend a lot of time folding paper into the shape of flowers yourself, otherwise you can buy them premade to save yourself a lot of time and paper cuts. Like plastic flowers, paper flowers can be made from recycled materials.

Lastly, there are wooden flowers available that look very close to the real thing except they are carved out of wood. Most commonly, you will see wooden roses when shopping for flowers made out of wood. Though they aren’t made from recycled materials, they are the closest you can get to real looking flowers while still shaving off the vast majority of the expense.

The Smell

Artificial flowers don’t have a scent naturally, but fortunately they make floral sprays that you can use to imitate the scent. Just squirt a little on each bouquet or single flower and the smell will linger well through your entire wedding ceremony and reception. Since the fragrances are derived from actual flowers, it will smell very close to the real thing.

Great Keepsakes

One of the hidden benefits of buying artificial flowers for your wedding is that they don’t rot over time. This means that instead of throwing them in the trash like you’d have to do with your real flowers, you can hand them out to your guests as keepsakes that will last virtually forever. Your guests will love taking home their artificial flowers, and you can save money at the same time.

5 Tips for Booking a Honeymoon

HoneymoonThough many couples will spend a fair amount of time alone in their room during their honeymoon, most couples will spend much more time out seeing the sites and exploring. In the days of yesteryear, couples would almost exclusively sit in their Jacuzzi tub in the “honeymoon suite” and completely ignore the outside world. Today, honeymoons are essentially a glorified vacation meant to get the new marriage off on the right foot. However, since it is a reward you only get once in your lifetime, many couples try to make their honeymoon the best vacation they’ll ever take in their lives. Here are 5 tips for booking a honeymoon that will make it as memorable as possible both inside and outside of your hotel room.

Research the Location

Before you book your honeymoon, figure out what type of activities you want to do while on vacation. Once that is determined, you can research different locations that fit your criteria. It is a good idea to spend as much time as possible researching your potential honeymoon destinations to ensure that your honeymoon is everything you want it to be. Take your time and be sure to read as many real-world reviews as possible to find the best place that fits within your budget and offers the type of activities you want to do as a couple.

Make an Itinerary

Though it may sound really romantic to go on your honeymoon without a plan, it can actually be a huge mistake. It can be really stressful trying to figure out what to do without any notice and while you’re trying to relax, especially if you’re going during a busy season when some activities may be booked up in advance. Your best bet is to have an itinerary to help you know what you’re doing each day. Try to keep it flexible and leave a lot of open time to do whatever you feel like doing, but having no plan at all can lead to a disastrous experience.

Resort Reputation

When you’re deciding on a resort for your honeymoon, you may find yourself torn between two different places. If that ends up being the case, you should always go with the resort that has the best reputation. If you recognize the brand of a resort, chances are that they will have higher standards than a resort that you’ve never heard of, so it only stands to reason that they will provide great service.

Make a Budget

One of the hardest things you’ll need to do when planning your honeymoon is to figure out your budget. Remember, you’ll be going on this trip right after you shelled out a ton of cash for your wedding, so you probably won’t have an endless amount of cash to spend. Just make a budget in advance and do your best to stick to it, but always plan to bring extra cash for purchase and expenses that you didn’t plan for ahead of time.

Factor In Tips

One important factor to remember when you head out on your honeymoon is that you’ll need to tip for certain services. If you have a driver take to your resort or to another area while you’re on your trip, you’ll need to offer them a tip. If you eat out for dinner, you’ll need to tip your server. Plan ahead for tips as part of your budget to ensure that you don’t run out of money for the things you really want to do while you’re on your honeymoon.

Choosing Your Wedding Shoes

Wedding ShoesOne of the most important parts of your wedding day wardrobe, though often overlooked, is your wedding shoes. Though many styles of wedding dresses will cover up the appearance of your wedding shoes, they will still be seen from time to time so they must look great with your wedding dress. On top of that, there are other things to take into consideration such as the comfort of the shoes as well as your height in comparison to the groom. Since it can take a really long time to try on every pair of shoes that you are interested in, knowing ahead of time the criteria you want can really make the job a lot easier. Here are a few of the most popular styles available, and weighing out the pros and cons ahead of time can make choosing your wedding shoes a lot less stressful.

High Heels

High heels are an obvious choice because they are classy, add height, and are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. If you’re headed out for a night on the town, high heels are by and large the go to shoe for most women. If you are much shorter than the groom, a pair of high heels can really help you close that gap and make you look taller than you really are. However, since you’ll be on your feet a lot throughout the day and night of your wedding, high heels can get quite uncomfortable and make your splendid day a real nightmare. If you plan to walk down the aisle wearing high heels, you probably want to bring along another pair of shoes for dancing later on at the reception to avoid discomfort.

Flats

Flats are a very popular choice among brides because they come in a variety of styles and are incredibly comfortable to wear over long periods of time. The best part about choosing to wear flats for your wedding shoes is that you can use them during your ceremony and not need to bring along another pair for when it comes time to dance at your reception. However, if you are much shorter than the groom, flats do absolutely nothing to create the illusion that you are taller. While this doesn’t bother too many brides, it is definitely something to consider when choosing your wedding shoes.

Wedges

Wedges are the perfect compromise for any bride that wants the height advantage that you get while wearing high heels but most of the comfort your get when wearing flats. Wedges will certainly add a few inches of height to close that gap between you and your groom, but since the heel runs the entire length of the shoes you will get more balance and support for more vigorous activities such as dancing. Though wedges are more comfortable than high heels, they are not quite as comfortable as flats and you should still consider bringing another pair of comfortable shoes for the reception. That said, wedges can be the perfect compromise for any bride looking to only bring along one pair of shoes to their wedding ceremony and reception.

“A Nightmare Before Christmas” Wedding Cakes

For those of us who feel in love with the cult classic film “A Nightmare Before Christmas”, it can be very tempting to model your wedding cake after such a timeless story. Though it is a little unorthodox in its delivery, the story tells the tale of true love hiding in the most obvious of places. However, since the way the movie was filmed was so dark, twisted, and gothic, reconciling that love story into something that works as a wedding cake can seem like a bit of a challenge. So, without further ado, I give you my favorite “A Nightmare Before Christmas” wedding cakes that will hopefully serve as inspiration for the creation that will be at your wedding.

1 – A Simple Design

“A Nightmare Before Christmas” Wedding Cake 1

I really like this wedding cake because the design is very traditional and simple. Aside from the dark color scheme and the cake topper featuring Jack Skellington and Sally, the layout of the cake is pretty much exactly what you’d expect at a wedding. I especially like the gnarly looking hill from the movie being included because it happens to be my favorite part.

2 – All the Favorite Characters

“A Nightmare Before Christmas” Wedding Cake 2

This wedding cake design is also fairly simple, but I really like how it takes things a step further and includes most of the characters from “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. It is a tad bit morbid for some people, I’m sure, with all the dead bodies hanging from the tree on the cake topper; but after all is “Halloween town”. I also like how Oogie Boogie was invited on the cake, and the 2 faced mayor is represented on the bottom rung.

3 – Abstract Construction

“A Nightmare Before Christmas” Wedding Cake 3

Last, but definitely not least, is my personal favorite “A Nightmare Before Christmas” wedding cake. I particularly like the way that this cake designer stacked different sized and shaped layers up to the top just as you would expect to see in “Halloween Town”. Also, I like how Jack and Sally’s faces are done in silhouettes on the side of the cake rather than as plastic wedding cake toppers, the Gnarly looking hill is represented on the bottom layer with Zero coming towards Jack. All and all, this “A Nightmare Before Christmas” wedding cake by far hits on all eight cylinders in my book.

Tips for Picking Your Reception Hall

Reception HallThough the ceremony is probably the most important thing for you as a couple, the location that guests will remember the most is the reception hall. After you’ve said your vows, exchanged rings, and sealed the deal with a romantic kiss, the rest of the event will be spent eating, dancing, and mingling with your guests. Depending on the size of your wedding, there are many things you need to consider when choosing your wedding reception venue. To help get you headed in the right direction, here are some tips for picking your reception hall that will hopefully make the task a little easier.

Same or Separate Venues?

One of the first things that you’ll need to decide when choosing your reception hall is whether you want it at the same location that you host your ceremony or at a separate facility. There are advantages to both, but ultimately the choice is up to you. The benefit of having the ceremony and reception at the same location is that there isn’t anywhere to travel. This can be great if you have elderly guests in attendance or want to save money on transportation to the reception hall from the ceremony site. The downside is that you’ll need to find a location that is romantic enough for a ceremony and has all the amenities needed for a reception which can be a little tricky to do.

Distance from Ceremony

If you choose to have your wedding reception at a separate location from the ceremony, you need to keep the distance away in mind. Not only will you need to get the wedding party to the reception hall, but you’ll also need to make sure it is easy enough for your guests to find that nobody gets lost along the way. Typically, you want to try to keep the reception hall within a few blocks of the ceremony site so it is very easy to find and some people could even walk if they wanted to. You can choose a location that is farther away, but make sure you have clear direction to hand out to the guests to make it as simple as possible to find.

Size of the Room

Lastly, you’ll want to consider the number of guests on your guest list when you go out shopping for a reception hall. Not only do you need to fit everyone into the room at tables to eat, but you’ll also need to consider the capacity of the dance floor. You want the room to seem fairly crowded so that everyone feels like the party is full, but you don’t want it to be uncomfortable at the same time. Just make sure there is plenty of room for everyone on your guest list before choosing your wedding hall and that can give you some important direction as to which venue to choose.

Avoiding Hidden Fees at Your Reception

Hidden FeesEverything about a wedding reception is expensive. From hiring a caterer to renting the venue, you can expect to shell out a pretty penny before the event is over. Like most purchases in life, and especially for your wedding, there are always going to be ways they try to trick you into adding additional costs to your wedding reception. Some of these hidden fees will be quite obvious and require only some simple adjustments to eliminate, while others will be a little trickier to spot. Nevertheless, avoiding hidden fees at your wedding reception is as easy as paying attention to every detail and we will cover some of the easiest ways to do just that.

Alcohol

One of the biggest expenses you will incur while hosting a wedding reception is the cost of alcohol. If you are planning to have an open bar, you can kiss goodbye to several hundred, if not several thousand, dollars. As alternative, if you’re trying to keep things a bit more affordable, you do have a couple of options that will allow your guests to enjoy alcohol but not have it affect your bottom line. The first method is to have everyone bring their own alcohol. This is by far the cheapest option, and it ensures everyone gets to drink what they like. The second is to have a cash bar where the guests pay for all their drinks themselves. Regardless of which you choose, they will be a lot cheaper than paying for all of your guests to drink out of pocket.

Extra Plates

While it is customary to feed your guests at the reception, etiquette tells us that your vendors such as the photographer will also need to be fed. By eliminating as many vendors as possible, you can eliminate the cost of extra plates as well as the cost of the vendor’s service.

Cake Cutting Fees

After you do the initial cake cutting as a couple, you likely don’t want to stand there cutting the whole cake up yourself. Many venues offer a cake cutting service as an option, but this is a hidden fee you don’t need. You can either recruit someone to cut the cake for you or have each guest cut their own piece to save a whole lot of money.

Free Parking

Though most people overlook the parking situation all together, you may regret that decision if you have your wedding reception in the city. Many places downtown won’t have any areas for free parking, so that can really add up fast if you’re not careful. Either you will be asked to repay all the parking fees by your guests, or they will have to go through the inconvenience of paying out of pocket for their own parking. Either way, the need to pay for parking can be a very bad experience for everyone and bleed into the mood of your celebration.