Ten Tips for Writing Your Perfect Wedding Vows

  1. Start with a nice clean piece of paper (lavender is good, but any kind will work). Down the left side of the page, write the numbers 1-10. Now – without stopping to think about it, fill in this page! Write down the first 10 things that come to mind in response to this sentence: “I love (my partner’s name) because . . . “ Set this piece of paper aside.
  2. Now – how about YOU? What do YOU bring to this union? What promises will you make? Take another sheet of paper, and write ‘em down – don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or anything else at this point. Just write down 4-5 things you want to promise this very special person with whom you want to spend your life.
    •Do you promise to be there in bad times as well as good?
    •Do you promise to be faithful with your body as well as with your mind and heart?
    •Do you promise to support your partner even when he/she isn’t perfect?
    •Do you promise to share all your resources? Some?
    •What about if he/she gets sick? What about if you have a serious fight? You get the idea . . . what are you promising in this union?
  3. Think about the language you will use to claim your partner and name your relationship. When you introduce your beloved, what words will you use? Husband? Wife? Spouse? Partner for Life? What energy does each of these have for you? If you don’t like one for some reason, throw it out. . . but before you start writing you vows, decide . . . what language will you use? This is a decision you need to make together . . . so start early, and give this as much time as it takes. 
  4. OK, after you’ve done steps 1-3, and you’ve got at least two pages of writing and one decision made – set it all aside. Do something else, preferably with your partner, and preferably fun. Like Christmas trees, weddings get too much “stuff” hung on them, Make yours beautiful, by stepping aside from the stress for a day or two. Go out and remember WHY you love . . . go and play.
  5. Done that? Now it’s time to make a BIG DECISION. Are each of you going to write your own vow, or do the two of you want to say the same thing? You don’t have to, you know – some of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve celebrated had each partner saying something different . . . But here’s a trick: If you’re each creating your own unique vow, why not insert a sentence at the end symbolizing the fact that you come together as unique individuals, and, without surrendering your individuality, you are creating a beautiful, shared union. Here’s an example of words each partner might use to complete his or her unique vow: 

    John, I accept you as my husband. I Tracy, embrace you, Susan, as my partner for life. 

  6. It’s time to go back to the papers you wrote in Steps 1 and 2. If you’re working together, you’ll have fun sharing those pages, and seeing where you overlap . . . Use colored pencils or highliters to lift up what you have in common – and make those promises and statements of love just leap off the page. 
  7. Now, whether you’re working alone or as a couple, it’s time to prioritize. Which is fancy language for saying, OK, if I have to cut two of these promises off the list, which ones will they be? Nibble at your lists, removing the things that are just a little less juicy, until you’re left with three or four things you love . . . and about the same number of things you promise. 
  8. Copy these over onto a brand new, clean page. (It’s amazing what a difference a clean sheet of paper can make – trust me on this!) 
  9. One more question . . . this is a wedding, a celebration of your union, presumably for life. Will your vows indicate a time frame? Some couples use phrase like: “Through all our years, and in all that life may bring us . . . “ “For the rest of my days” “As long as we both shall live” “lifetime partner.” “partner forevermore.” Whatever works for you, a wedding or service of union vow should contain a phrase that indicates the duration of your commitment. ( If you’ve come this far, I hope you’ve decided to promise your commitment for life.) 
  10. Read your vow out loud to a trusted someone other than your partner. Does it sound like you? How does it feel to say these words aloud? Have you said anything you’d be embarrassed to say in public? Are there any tongue-tanglers in there? (It’s amazing how seemingly simple phrases turn complex when it’s time to speak!) Make whatever minor changes you need, and then Stop. Feel good about what you’ve done – for you have created one of the greatest gifts you will ever make.

Blessings on you and on your union ~ Rev. Dr. M. Maureen Killoran, MA, DMin Life Coach & Spiritual Guide

About the author: Maureen Killoran is a life coach and Unitarian Universalist minister who has performed over 300 wedding ceremonies. After 20 years in the parish, she is now a life coach in private practice in Western North Carolina -- where she is delighted to be performing weddings & services of union. Learn more at www.spiritquest.ws

Seven Tips for Choosing a Maid of Honor

Choosing your Maid of Honor is more complicated than it looks. Nowhere else in your wedding planning is it easier for vexing problems to turn up! Why? Because the Maid of Honor’s duties are often vaguely defined, and worse, poorly communicated.

In fact, every bride has her own unique idea of what a Maid of Honor should be. Which is fine – the trick is in communicating those ideas!

So what does a Maid of Honor do? On one end of the spectrum, she’s a ceremonial figure who steps off the plane and walks down the aisle before the other bridesmaids.

On the other, she’s a master of precognition who soothes your nerves before you know you’re frazzled, helps you send out your invites, “manages” the bridesmaids, spreads the word on your registry, and offers up her thoughts on everything from the venue to the dress.

Most often, the Maid of Honor is somewhere in the middle. She leads the bachelorette party and/or bridal shower, and tries to “be there” for the bride during the planning process, and the ceremony itself.

All this flexibility leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings. And they happen a lot. The world is full of brides who feel hurt and let down by close friends as the big day draws near. Do you want to be one of them? Of course not!

So here are some tips on choosing – and communicating with – your Maid of Honor for minimum stress, and maximum happiness.

Define what you really want. Are you a do-it-yourself bride, or do you want your Maid of Honor to be your right hand all the way through?

If you’re high-maintenance, accept and acknowledge it. Pick someone who can truly be there for you, and let them know exactly what you want. If you don’t know anyone with that much time or energy to give, think about finding help elsewhere. Is your fiancé an active participant? Can your mother do more? Maids of Honor are not supposed to be wedding co-planners … unless they really, really want to be!

Tell her what you really want. More than one bride has shed tears because a Maid of Honor couldn’t read her mind.  For example: many brides wish their Maids of Honor could give a little speech at the reception , but never get around to asking them. If it’s important to you, talk about it!

It doesn’t have to be family. Never feel you “have to” make a sister or other family your Maid of Honor. If your best friend’s a loyal trooper who goes with you on all the errands, choose her. She deserves it.

Pick someone local if you need a lot of help. No one can do much from 3000 miles away, no matter how badly they want to.

Be realistic; look at past performance. Weddings are exciting. People are human. When everything’s new and you’ve just announced your plans, lots of people will offer to help. But not everyone will manage to follow through.

Who came through for you before the wedding? Who actually managed to rearrange their schedules to be with you, even when inconvenient? These are the people to rely on. No matter how exciting your plans, they won’t make an overcommitted person more available to you. Avoid the trap of asking such a person because you think your wedding will be “important enough” for them to “change their ways,” and you’ll avoid all the stress and hardship of a disappointing Maid of Honor.

Be realistic; look at her life ahead. No matter what a treasure your Maid of Honor is, she has limits, too. Is she expecting a new baby? Is she working through a divorce? If these things slow her down, which they probably will, can you pick up the slack without feeling disappointed?

Consider more than one Maid of Honor if you just can’t decide. But keep in mind, this can cause problems too. Can your Maids of Honor divide responsibilities, communicate well and avoid feelings of jealousy?

Now that you’ve chosen, honor your Maid of Honor with a little sign of how special she is to you. Take her out to a day spa, or go together to have your hair done before the ceremony. Pick out a dress for her that’s a different color from the other bridesmaids, or order her a bouquet with some special touches. She deserves it!

Follow these tips, and you’ll be the bride who spends that all-important day surrounded by loving, warm friends at their ease. Could anything be better?

About the author: Blake Kritzberg is editor at "FavorIdeas.com." Stop by for wedding favor ideas, Save-the-Date eCards, free wedding screensaver, free wedding templates and Bridezilla's weekly adventures at: www.favorideas.com

No Kids at the Wedding Please

– How to Say it Tastefully

As much as you love your nieces, nephews and even your own children, some of you know that an otherwise perfect day can be tarnished by a misbehaving little one. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so what should you do? If you don’t mind kids at your wedding, then this article is not for you. If your are in the other group, read on…If you are reading this, you are probably afraid of being labeled as selfish or a child hater, but this is your day. You planned for it, paid for it and deserve to have it the way you want. Even if you are being selfish, having paid a few thousand dollars or more says you have the right to be!Well enough of the pep talk. You must be open and honest from the very beginning. Waiting to long in fear of causing trouble will only make matters worse and leave you feeling even more “guilty” when some people were expecting to bring their little ones from the start. Most people will understand and some have asked it for their own weddings, but there are still a few that need to be told.

Here are some of the ways to get the message across early:

1. Send it with the invitation. That’s right! You could put it on a separate card and make a reference to it being an adults only event. You may not want to say “no kids please” because the words “adults only” is less likely to be seen negatively.

2. Call each and every person who you believe is coming and be honest and upfront. Don’t take too long with the small talk and try to end on a positive note. It would also be a good idea to have babysitters in a separate room at the wedding in case someone forgets or just had to bring little Mark.

3. On that same note. If you just don’t want to feel like you are a kid-hater, just make a point to have babysitters at your wedding. This way no one will feel left out or “betrayed”. You still have to contend with those parents AND children that have separation anxiety. You will have to make sure to tell them that if they plan to bring children with them, they must be placed with the babysitter you or they have provided, in a separate room, no exceptions. Having a room with toys and bright colors could peak a child’s interest, but there is no guarantee.

4. Use psychology. The statement, “This is a day to enjoy yourself too. Leave the kids at home (with our babysitter)”, will definitely bring some of those not-so-understanding parents to your corner. The parents with the most misbehaved kids will be the first to identify with this statement.

If all else fails, just remember the important thing is that you are marrying the one you love and that nothing can change that!

About the author:
Victoria Williams is the editor of the online magazine www.nuptialparadise.com

Cutting Cake Costs

Three Ways to Cut Cake Costs

The wedding cake you’ve fantasized about can also be the one your wallet says “yes” to. Here are some great ideas for a more affordable – but still gorgeous – wedding cake.

  • Get a smaller cake. Show off the beautiful wedding cake for everyone to see, then have a sheet cake of the same flavor cut in the back.
  • Make mini cakes. Instead of one large cake, split up the cost and ask your baker to make every guest a cupcake of your favorite flavor instead. Top each with something pretty, and build a wedding cake tower of your fabulous cupcakes.
  • Offer a dessert bar. Another great way to offer dessert while having a smaller cake: set up a dessert bar with mini pastries and coffee to offset a piece of wedding cake.

Budget Guidelines

Once you have decided on a wedding budget, do your best to stick to it. Record your expenses on the charts we have developed, to help keep track of costs as you plan the details of your wedding day.

Your budget should be flexible enough so that an unexpected expense will not ruin it.

The following are estimates to help guide you in setting a budget for your wedding. You can increase or decrease any item depending on what aspects of the wedding you would like to emphasize.

Reception
Bridal Attire
Flowers
Photographs
Stationary
50%
13%
10%
10%
5%
Music
Rentals
Transportation
Attendant Gifts
Other
4%
3%
2%
2%
1%

The 8 Things Guests Secretly Wish You’d Do At Your Wedding

Psst! Want us to let you in on a little secret? Wedding guests tend to care more about good booze at your big day than fancy favors (that they’re likely to forget to take home anyway!).

While your wedding is, of course, about what you and your fiancé want, keeping the guest experience in mind will go a long way in creating your happily ever after. With that in mind, here are eight things friends and family secretly wish you’d do at your wedding.

The Wish List

  • 1. Demystify the Dress Code
  • 2. Do Away with Assigned Seats
  • 3. Stop Playing Matchmaker
  • 4. Invest in the Booze Instead of All the Other “Extras”
  • 5. Don’t Interrupt the Party for the Cake Cutting
  • 6. Serve Scrumptious Late Night Snacks
  • 7. Help Them Get There Easy
  • 8. Make the Dinner Reception Feel More Like a Party
Read the full list and expanded information at the source, www.brides.com

Wedding Cake Boxes

Many styles to choose from
Approximately 3″L x 2″H

With this set of decorative wedding cake favor boxes, now your guests can take home a slice of your cake figuratively speaking. Imported directly from Italy, these off-white embossed boxes are shaped to perfectly form a wedding cake. Each of the boxes are wrapped with a satin ribbon and accented with an ivory flower. Inside waits a surprise treat for your wedding guests in the form of candy.

Display the wedding cake favor boxes in a circular pattern to form a two tiered cake. This arrangement makes a beautiful presentation as a centerpiece for each table. Approximate number of boxes needed to form a cake: 40-50 cake boxes. These favors are great for more than just a wedding; you can use them for any type of party.

Include a personalized card with your names and wedding or party date to add a special touch. Our lovely satin ribbon comes in your choice of 14 beautiful colors. The candy filling included in our favor boxes is available in your choice of 12 different types of candy.

Why Less Is More When It Comes To Wedding Veils

Traditionally, veils were made from white or ivory tulle with plain, pencil or satin cord edging. This allowed the focus to be on the bride’s face, her headpiece and wedding gown. Now custom designer veils have an abundance of embroidered appliqués, rhinestones, bugle beads, sequins, crystals and pearls. Besides the traditional edging, now the bride can select colored ribbon edging to match her colored wedding gown. Many online companies even offer to dye the tulle to match the wedding gown. Other edging options are Venetian lace, pearls, rhinestones, bugle beads and gold and silver filament.

Accents can also be added to the wedding veil and most companies are happy to do it. The bride can order a veil with scattered rhinestones and pay for scattered pearls as well. She can have those pearls in color to match her gown. She can choose a garnet ribbon edged veil to match the upside down garnet “V” at the back of her train. Unfortunately, this will make a dark bar across her back and distract from the loveliness of her gown.

A heavily decorated veil will also take away from the bride’s headpiece and jewelry. A dainty tiara will look overpowered with a heavily embroidered veil and the bride’s earrings will be lost under the edging. In some cases, the veil can distract from the embellishment of the wedding gown. A charming, corset back on a wedding gown would best be served by a plain veil or no veil at all.

Many brides are now choosing to go without a veil. Bridal fashions have been clean and simple in recent years. Gowns are strapless, or have spagetti straps with plain matte satin fabric. Trains are shorter and less elaborate (although lace is starting to make a comeback). The bride is now using a detachable veil and removing it completely at the reception, wearing only a beautiful tiara. A simple veil, with scattered pearls or rhinestones to match the wedding gown, will make the bride look perfect.

About the author:

Kathleen Terrana is the owner of www.beautiful-bridal.com Beautiful Bridal specializing in discount tiaras, veils, bridal and bridesmaid jewelry. Visit our site for additional wedding tips, advice and information.

Blusher Veils

The blusher is the portion of the veil that is placed over the head to cover the bride’s face. This is the part of the veil that the groom lifts and throws back in order to kiss the bride. Today, the most common veil is a double tier, where the shorter tier is the blusher. Even if the bride chooses not to place the blusher over her face, she can still wear a double tier veil. This would be made of two pieces of the veil fabric cut in different lengths, such as elbow and fingertip length, or fingertip and cathedral length. A veil may also be single tier or triple tier depending on the look the bride wants.
Detachable Veils
While veils are lovely during the wedding ceremony, the may be difficult to manage during a reception. Food, candles, dancing, and dozens of pairs of feet may be more obstacles than a bride can navigate. Consider a detachable veil that can be removed after the formal wedding photos have been completed. Most veils can be attached to the headpiece with a strip of Velcro or snaps, and removed quickly when the bride is ready.

Veil Shapes

The shape of a veil influences how much fullness and gathering is required in joining it to the headpiece or base, and how full the bottom edge appears. Common veil shapes include:
The full oval, which is cut as a rectangle, with slightly rounded corners, and then gathered at the top edge. The sides fall smoothly, and this shape works when the veil is attached to the headpiece at the front rather than the back.
The half oval is cut like a rectangle, with two bottom corners are slightly rounded, and gathered at the top edge. This shape works well when the veil is attached to the back of the headpiece.
The rectangle is cut with 90 degree corners, and then gathered at the top edge. This shape works will when the veil drops directly from the back of the headpiece.
The teardrop is narrower at the top than at the lower edge, with top and bottom edges shaped like a semi-circle. This shape works well when used as a cathedral veil, but is not attractive when used with a pouf.
The circle is cut in a circular shape and gathered in the middle. This veil gives no appearance of an edge and is best for shoulder length veils. The standard size for a circle is 72-inches in diameter, which is the width of most bridal illusion and tulle. One side of a circle can be used as a blusher.
The pouf is simply gathered material at the top of the veil, used to add height and character to a headpiece. It is usually used with tiaras, crowns, pillbox hats, or other elaborate headpieces. A standard pouf may be up to eight inches high. Another option is a shorter, wider pouf that appears more like a halo. A bride might also choose to add several layers to her veil for a full effect around the face and head.

Veil Fabrics

Veils today are usually made from nylon netting called illusion or tulle. The fabric comes in width of 72 inches or 108 inches, and in a variety of colors and finishes. Some bridal illusion appears to have a shimmer, while others are completely matte. Other fabric choices include chiffon, silk illusion, or lace.

Veil Colors

There are three traditional veil colors. White is pure white in color, to match white satin, chiffon, cotton, or lace gowns. Winter white, diamond white, or silk white refer to a color that is between white and ivory, to match white silk, antique or vintage gowns that are not true white. Ivory is off-white with a yellowish tint, to match ivory satin, chiffon, cotton, or lace gowns. Most bridal illusion and tulle comes in a variety of colors, so even if the dress is fuschia, there should be veiling available to match.

Veil Edges

Veil edges can be plain, rolled, curly or scalloped. It can be left plain or covered with ribbon, pearls, crystals, lace, satin cord, or embroidery. You can also decorate the nylon veil with sequins, pearls, lace appliques, or crystals. The heavier the edging, the more the veil will be weighted down. For a fluffy look, it’s best to use not edging at all.