The Ultimate Bridesmaid Checklist: 3 Things The Bride Will Forget To Ask But Definitely Will Need

By Guest Blogger

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a huge honor, regardless of whether you’re a friend, family member, old classmate, sorority sister, or co-worker of the bride-to-be. My sister recently became engaged, and while that news alone made it a great day when she told me, it became even more special when she asked me to be her maid of honor. So many emotions filled my mind, but love and joy were the two that rang the loudest. I wanted to do everything I could to help make my sister’s big day as special as possible, which is exactly what every MOH and bridesmaid should do. I’m not in it alone!

 

Plan with Boundaries

 

We all know that weddings, as beautiful as they can be, are a very hectic occasion to plan.There are so many tasks; choosing a coordinator, finding the perfect venue, deciding on the menu and entertainment for guests, the list goes on and on. As a bridesmaid, you’ll need to take as many of the menial tasks as possible off the shoulders of the bride, all while making sure to not intrude on the planning process. Remember that this is the day of the happy couple, not you.

Give the bride-to-be your thoughts, but make sure you cater them to her, not you. For instance, if she loves a specific film or color pattern, suggest that she incorporate that into her wedding theme. If she decides to pass on an idea, don’t take it personally. This is a memory that your loved one will have for the rest or her life–she wants it to be her way, and that’s okay. In fact, you should always reiterate that the day is hers, and she should do whatever she likes.

When choosing a gift for the bride-to-be, make sure that it’s personal, memorable, and thoughtful. As I was shopping around for the perfect gift for my sister, I landed on this RedEnvelope page with gift ideas that completely fit her personality. Websites like this allow you the option for personalization, which can go a long way toward making a gift memorable. At the same time, they can be used purely to generate ideas and as inspiration.

Make the Time

 

Everyone has a life and schedules that they follow. Even so, you need to make time to be at as many pre-nuptial events as you can. If the bride-to-be wants you to attend a wine or cake tasting, do it. She’s asking you to be there for these special moments, and you should make the time to do so. You can let her know your schedule, and ask that she plan around it, but let her know that you definitely want to be there for her. As the MOH, I wanted to be everywhere, all the time. That was impossible, but I attended as many pre-nuptial outings as I could. This alleviated some of the stress from my sister. She didn’t have to worry about looking at flowers, or finding the perfect dress alone; she knew that I would be there for her.

As a bridesmaid, you should always make time. You don’t have to put your life on hold, but make sure you clear some time for the bride-to-be.

 

 

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The Traditional Breakdown of Whose Family Pays for What

11Timeless-Mountain-Wedding-Larkspur-CO-Jessica-Christie-Photography-ceremony-bubbles

 

By Lauren Frankfort

 The line of who pays for what for weddings these days is definitely blurred. But, if you or your parents want to stick to tradition (or just want to know the way it used to go for reference) there are very strict delineations for who should pay for what. Here, our etiquette experts outline exactly who should front what bill, according to age-old customs. Please keep in mind, though, that this all depends on your particular financial and family situation.

Traditionally, the bride’s family foots majority of the bill. Of course, this rarely applies these days, but it’s interesting to note all of the costs that the bride and her family were once held responsible for. They include obvious things like the wedding dress and accessories and the bride’s gifts to her bridesmaid and groom. A lot of big-ticket items fall on that list too like the wedding planner or coordinator, invitations and all its corresponding stationery, majority of the flowers, total reception costs, all photography and videography expenses, the groom’s wedding ring, music for the church and the reception, any rentals, the bridesmaid’s luncheon, accommodation for all bridesmaids, and, lastly, all transportation needed for the big day. 

As for the groom and his family’s traditional expenses, they’re a bit less of a burden. Costs include the bride’s engagement ring and wedding rings, the groom’s attire, the groom’s gift to his groomsmen and if wants their attire too, his gift to the bride, all of the boutonnieres and corsage for appropriate wedding party and family members, the officiant’s fee plus accommodation and transportation if they need to travel to the wedding, the marriage license, rehearsal dinner costs, lodging for the groomsmen, and transportation and lodging for the groom’s family and groomsmen.

Everything You Need to Know About Champagne

These tips may be from 1979 — but bubbly smarts know no decade.

By Samantha Toscano

-champagne

Breaking out the sparkling cocktail isn’t just about hoping the cork doesn’t hit someone or popping in a few strawberries because that’s what they do in the movies. And the proof is in our December 1979 issue.

Added fruit aside, here’s what you absolutely need to know before the bubbly starts to flow and the fun begins:

Why It Bubbles

Champagne begins as a still wine and is made sparkling by a second fermentation, creating natural effervescence. In the traditional French method, the second fermentation takes place in the individual bottle — more expensive champagnes in the United States are made this way as well. With less costly American champagnes — labeled “bulk process” or “Charmat process” — the second fermentation takes place before the wine is bottled.

 

The Many Varieties

Natural: Dry, no sweetness. Fine as an aperitif. Pair with seafood.

Brut: Dry, little or no sweetness. The most popular type, fine for general entertaining. Perfect with every course and as an aperitif.

Extra Dry: Faintly sweet. Good with desserts, fruits.

Dry, Sec, and Demi Sec: Fairly sweet. Good for afternoon, evening refreshment, with desserts.

 

Shopping Guide

A 750-ml. or 25.4-oz. bottle of champagne, the most popular size, yields six to eight glasses. If you need more than one bottle, the 1.5-liter magnum bottle is the better buy — it has the same neck, air space as a smaller bottle, more wine. For a toast, you can figure on one glassful per person. For an aperitif, one or two glasses per person. For dessert, one glass for each guest is usual. For an evening of entertaining, plan on a third to a half of a 750-ml. bottle for each guest.

 

 

Storing Guide

Store bottles in a cool, dark place where temperatures do not fluctuate widely. Lay the bottles on their side so the cork doesn’t dry out, allow air to enter, wine to leak or spoil.

 

Serving Guide

Use elegant stemmed glasses:  the traditional flute, or tulip- or egg-shaped glasses. They show the bubbles rising in a continuous stream and concentrate the wine’s aroma. Avoid saucer-type “champagne glasses.”

Cool bottles ahead: The best way is to let the bottle sit in a pail half-filled with ice and water for about 30 minutes. Or, chill (don’t freeze) bottles about three hours in the least cold part of the refrigerator.

Open bottles carefully: To avoid wasting wine. Don’t shake the bottle; hold it in one hand with the other, remove the wire muzzle. Now, slightly tilt bottle away from you and hold cork firmly while rotating the bottle itself. Pull bottle down gently and slowly to reduce internal pressure. Cork will come out with a soft “pop,” with no loss of froth. Wipe off the rim before serving.

Pour with finesse: Tilting each glass to keep foam or “mousse” from spilling, fill the glass a quarter full; let the “mousse” settle. Continue until glass is two-thirds full.

How to make white pumpkin centerpieces

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An autumn wedding does not need to be associated only with orange, red, and brown. I found some lovely white pumpkins that can create the perfect vase for an all-white wedding. They are so easy to make that you’ll want to use them all year round.

Materials: white flowers of your choice, white pumpkins, knife, flower clippers

Pin It

Step 1: Like normal jack-o-lantern, cut a circle into the pumpkin. Don’t make it too small or too wide. Too small might look a bit funny with flowers in it, and too wide might make them fall out.

Step 2: I left all the seeds inside so it would be easier to stick the flowers in.

Step 3: Put some water into the pumpkin for the flowers.

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Step 4: Criss-cross the flowers so they hold their shape like above.

Step 5: Keep on criss-crossing until the pumpkin has a nice shape of flowers.

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Done! Aren’t they just the cutest?

Project and photography by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built

Invitation Questions Answered

By Linda Boatman
Silver Shimmer Tiffany - Invitation

1.     Is a website a good place to post details about our wedding online?

  • Yes.  A wedding website is an excellent choice instead of e-mailing or mailing directions, time and locations for guests and it’s an accessible place to retrieve information without searching through mail.  There are wedding websites with great features, R.S.V.P. page, checklists, and gift trackers, to help you stay up to date.   

 2.   How far in advance should I request R.S.V.P.’s?

  • Three weeks before the wedding will allow you a larger window to review guests who have not responded and to get them to reply.  Remember, you need to get the final guest count to your caterer.  If you prefer to send invitees to your wedding website R.S.V.P. page this may produce fast replies.    

  3.   What’s the best way to get guests’ addresses?

  • The best way to collect addresses and telephone numbers is e-mail and it’s efficient.  Your wedding website can send an e-mail to friends requesting their home addresses.  Make sure you have the correct spelling of your guest’s full name for when you address the invitations.   

4.     Should I invite distant relatives?

  • If you have an elderly relative who provided you with a gift as a child every year, send them an invitation.  If you haven’t heard from cousins for many years, it’s very likely she won’t mind not receiving an invitation.  

5.     Should I invites significant others of single guests?

  • No is the legitimate answer.   However, someone who has a partner who means a great deal to your guest could end up with hurt feelings if they were not invited.  If it’s just a few friends with significant others, then including them would be thoughtful.  Especially if they are traveling to your wedding from out-of-town or you really like the girlfriend or boyfriend.   

6.      What is the proper etiquette for a formal invitation?

  • The parents of a bride getting married in a house of worship selects a 10 to 12 line traditional wedding invitation that reads:
    • Mr. and Mrs. James Steven Smith /request the honor of your presence/ at the marriage of their daughter/ Joyce Maria /to Mr. Robert  David O’Neal /Saturday, the Twenty –third of August, Two Thousand Fourteen/at Six o’clock/ St. George Church/11456 Middleline Avenue/Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • If you need additional etiquette advice for divorced or deceased parents, then rely on what your wedding planner or stationer use for guidance in Crane’s Wedding Blue Book. 

7.      How do I let guest know to leave their children at home?

  • The rule in wedding etiquette is if the names of children are not included on the invitation, then they’re not invited.  If you believe a family member or friend will bring their child with them, then kindly call them and let them know as much as you would love to include them, you can’t.

8.    How can I use my secondary B-list of guests?

  • Make sure all of your A-list guest are organized to review when your get the R.S.V.P.’s.  Mail out the A-list at least eight weeks before the wedding.  After two weeks have passed, add up the noes you’ve received and add 20 percent.  Using that number is how many B-list invitations you can send.  Mail out the B-list six weeks before the wedding date to ensure the time frame is met you will have less chance of offending B-listers.

 

 Invites tips

  •  Make sure you have the correct spelling for the ceremony, names, address, date and time are correct.
  • Hire a calligrapher to hand address your invites or someone with beautiful handwriting.  Don’t use stick on labels for your addresses.
  • Place gift registry or charitable-giving information on your website.  Also, family members can help spread the word.

Select from a complete line of

elegant wedding invitations,

shower, save the date and accessories

for your special day.

http://grandeleganceevents.carlsoncraft.com/index.jsp

 

wedding invitations photos by Carlson Craft

Can I Afford a Wedding Planner?

By Courtney

harmon wedding coordinator

Can you afford to hire a planner for your wedding?  In our opinion, you can’t afford NOT to hire one; it’s simply a matter of how much help you want from them, and when during the planning process you decide to secure their services.

At minimum, you’ll want someone there for the day to help orchestrate and coordinate the decor, greet and direct vendors, circle up the family and bridal party before the ceremony, pictures and the toasts, to make sure guests know when to be where, and most importantly, to help clean up at the end of the night.  We’ve known many brides and grooms who have decided to forgo this expense, and almost every single one of them say that’s one of the things they definitely would have done differently if they could.  DIY brides will often try to take care of this stuff on their own, or will ask family and friends to pitch in.  If you can afford a professional who does this regularly it’s always best, but if your budget is too tight find a thrifty alternative!  Find a local college girl who wants to be a wedding planner when she grows up (you’d be surprised how many of them are out there).  Inquire with your friends, family and coworkers if they know of someone who could fit the bill and be willing to do it for you.  Just remember that professionals can charge upwards towards $1000 for this service; if you aren’t hiring a professional, you shouldn’t pay professional prices, but a $100 gift card to Target for a day’s worth of work isn’t really enough unless you’re budget is really strapped.

If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, a wedding planner can be a fantastic resource for you!  They can help secure some of the most talented and reputable vendors, and will also be knowledgeable on the latest trends and styles of the season.   Not to mention all of the time they save and stress they alleviate for you!  Many brides fear that a planner will steal the show and try to take over.  On one hand, remember that the reason you’re hiring them is so they CAN run the show!  But you want to make sure he or she won’t step on your toes too much, and will only step in when you really want them to.  If you’re the kind of bride that likes to hold the reins and long as possible, then meet with your potential planner once or twice before signing a contract, and even spring for a consultation meeting.  If they’re insistent that you just HAVE to hire such-and-such photographer because they’re FABULOUS, and they wouldn’t DREAM of having anyone other than so-and-so design your bridal bouquet…well, they probably aren’t the right match for you.  Just make sure that you guys connect on a personality level as well as monetary one; when stuff hits the fan, they’re the one that you’re going to go to first to save the day, and if you’re not comfortable with who they are as a person, you’re not going to want to turn to them when you actually need them.

So how does a wedding planner benefit those that aren’t on a super-tight budget, but don’t have a ton of money to spend?  One of the best things they can help you with is to find vendors and decor to keep you in your budget, and in theory he or she will save you enough money to cover their fees.  Think of it this way; if you’ve budgeting $20,000 for your wedding, your planner should be able to save cut enough corners and find enough deals to save you $1,000-$1,500, which is about what the fee can be.

Regardless of your budget, wedding planners can help you in so many ways!

•  Vendors are more likely to get referrals for new business from wedding planners than brides, so their incentive to do a fantastic job at your wedding is increased when there’s a wedding planner preset.
•  They ensure that your family, bridal party and friends have a good time.  Sure, these people love you and would do anything to help you out.  But after a long day of dancing, drinking and celebrating, sticking around until midnight gathering up table numbers and pulling linens off of the table is probably not their ideal way to end the night.  These people are, after all, your most important guests; make sure you take care of them and let them have as much fun as they can!
•  They can help you with the wedding day timeline.  Oftentimes vendors are happy to help with this, but remember this isn’t what they do professionally.  A DJ may do a great job of helping time out the reception, and photographers can do a pretty good job of helping your orchestrate the day, but neither of them will be able to help with the timing of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, nor will they be able to assist you in having your hair and makeup artist arrive at the hotel at the right time.
•  Something will ALWAYS go wrong at your wedding!  It could be as simple as a broken strap on a bridesmaid’s dress, or as overwhelming as a vendor that no-shows.  Having a planner means that you don’t have to deal with these problems when they arise; and if your planner is really good, chances are you won’t ever know that anything went wrong!

All in all, a wedding planner is something every couple needs for their wedding, and it really is something to factor in to your budget from day one.  Trust us, it’ll be one of the best decisions you make about your wedding, aside from choosing the groom!

At Grand Elegance Events we know how to take wedding planning one step further than the rest, for an enjoyable experience for our clients.   Whether you are looking to convey an upscale vision, or  to create a simple yet memorable gathering, we will help ensure your requests are fulfilled. We provide many services to help plan your  wedding or social event.

To help you get started  with your wedding planning we are offering a Month of Coordination service special.  Just click on our Exclusive Offer page at our website to learn about the details or go to the Facebook Special Event tab.

Tips to Create a Natural Tablescape

By Crate & Barrel

Apr2013_IDo_tablesetting

Blend accessible, seasonal elements to create the perfect backyard reception table.

1. Set a Casual Scene.
Mix solid and patterned dinnerware—whatever you have on hand—and layer over a burlap runner. The natural texture serves as an earthy counterpoint to terra cotta. Instead of elaborate centerpieces, cluster bud vases of single seasonal blooms down the length of the table and keep the arrangements low for easy conversation

2. Bloom Simple and Seasonal.
No need for elaborate centerpieces. Instead, cluster bud vases of single seasonal blooms down the length of the table. Keep the arrangements low for easy conversation.

3. Do Something Unexpected.
Fill bowls with lemons and arrange among the flowers for a sunny burst of color. Fruit breaks up the monotony of the blooms and adds more textural interest. Scatter votives throughout to set the table aglow.

Disaster averted!

Side-step every possible getting-married glitch with our save-the-day solutions, says Emma Vince

It’s the biggest day of your life and you’ve spent the last few months making sure every detail is perfect. So, with all your plans in place, what could possibly go wrong? The truth is, even the best planned weddings have niggles, because there are some elements – such as the weather and, well, your guests – which are completely beyond your bridal control. So, what should you do when you’re faced with your very own worst-case scenario?

Wedding planner of Quintessentially Weddings, Sophie McCorry Day, says it’s all about the way you handle the emergency. “The key is damage limitation and keeping calm,” she says. “Remember, whatever happens, nothing will stop this from being your dream day – so be sure to make that your mantra!”

To give you a helping hand, we’ve discovered how to turn your very worst bridal nightmares into something not so bad after all…

Big-day disaster: The monsoon 

It’s only a minor problem if it starts to rain, but what if the marquee looks like it might take off and the beautiful lawns of your garden venue resemble the last day of Glastonbury?

Diffuse the drama: Try not to break down, shouting and cursing the heavens, because your hair can be re-done and your make-up reapplied. “We’ve had a couple of monsoon like summers recently,” recalls Sophie. “I remember one wedding where the marquee almost started to fly away in the wind! The good news is, most companies are used to the great British summertime and will have contingency plans in place. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and if you do think it might rain, plan ahead with glamorous wellies and pretty broil lies incorporated into your theme.” Also, grey clouds can be atmospheric and couples huddled underneath large white umbrellas make for cute wedding photos. Problem solved!

Big-day disaster: The drunken groom 

Most wedding receptions will feature a squiffy guest or two, or perhaps a stray uncle dancing where there isn’t a dance-floor. But what if your groom drinks too much? And by drinking too much we mean he’s can’t-tell-who-he’s-just-married drunk.

Diffuse the drama: Getting mad or upset with your beloved might be the natural reaction but it won’t help so try to remember you love him, drunk as he is. “It’s one thing getting a bit exuberant on the dance-floor,” says Sophie. “It’s when things go a stage further that you might need to alert the bar staff! This is a moment for the best man to really earn his title, so inform him he’s now in charge while you make the most of the rest of your evening and try to see the funny side.”

Big-day disaster: The chianti catastrophe 

Most brides will find it hard to keep a wedding dress spotless throughout the day, but just imagine the horror of red wine-meets-white dress! With the deadly combination of wine and tipsy relatives intent on hugging and congratulating you, it could well happen…

Diffuse the drama: “Nobody wears an all-white wardrobe in everyday life,” says Sophie. “You have to see the irony of it; if you wear this pristine thing, it’s almost bound to happen!” Your first reaction might be a complete meltdown, but try to stay calm and consider your poor relative who is now clutching an empty glass and a guilty face; they’ll be feeling bad enough already. “We’ve witnessed a whole bottle of champagne being spilt down a bride,” recalls Sophie. “We had a quick Mr Bean scenario in the toilets under the hand-dryer and all was OK. The option of a second dress for the reception is now becoming more popular so you could enjoy shopping for a stunning reception dress as a back-up just in case.” Then, when you don’t have to wear it on your big day, you can wow your new husband on honeymoon!

Big-day disaster: The “Ooh, snap!” scenario

Your cousin nearly tipped you over the edge by opting for a fitted white cocktail dress, but now your fiancé’s flirty female friend has turned up in a white, backless maxi. She looks gorgeous, as usual, and positively bridal.

Diffuse the drama: However angry you are, try to be the bigger person and consider the fact she may not have realised her mistake. “Take a moment to consider your options here,” says Sophie. “You could demand she goes home and change or you could spend the rest of your day complaining about her wardrobe choice to the rest of the wedding party, but both of these will put a negative spin on your day and direct yet more attention towards her. Remember, you are the bride and nothing can take away from that.” Although perhaps you might have a word with the photographer to clarify that she isn’t actually the bride and if they could avoid her being centre-stage in your wedding pictures, well, that would be good.

Big-day disaster: The family fist-fight 

Whether it’s tension between bridesmaids or a full-on family brawl, you want your wedding day to be all about love, not war.

Diffuse the drama: Whatever you do, don’t join in. “Clashes can become an inevitability when you’ve got a mix of people, alcohol and heightened emotions,” says Sophie. “If you sense there are people who are a bit inflammatory towards each other, seat them far apart and with people they’re friendly with.” If, despite your best efforts, a blazing argument does break out, it’s time to look at the positive side: your wedding now has all the drama of a rom-com! It might not be ideal but at least, just like on the silver screen, things always come right in the end.

Real-life wedding hitches

These brides had to negotiate their very own hurdles en-route to wedded bliss…

“My new husband knocked red wine over me during his speech! Luckily, it didn’t look too bad and we still had a great day.” Roz  Solomon, Darenth, Kent

“My father-in-law was meant to pick up my brother-in-law and nephew – our ring-bearer – on his way to the church but forgot! My flowergirl had to step in and my poor father-in-law was mortified.” Sarah Waygood, Battersea, London

“After the ceremony I discovered my husband’s aunt and uncle weren’t there because I had sent them an evening invite instead of an all-day one. They’d travelled all the way from Devon and it still devastates me I made such a mistake.” Nicola Laver, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

“The Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 2010 meant lots of our guests couldn’t make it or got stuck mid-flight. My friend travelled for 54 hours and still missed our wedding, and we ended up honeymooning in Whitby, Yorkshire.” Helen Foers, Sheffield

13 Tips to Pull Off the Perfect Summer

By   Azure

Summertime is the perfect time for outdoor I Do’s! You can check snow, sleet, and frigid temps off your list of wedding planning worries, and count on walking the aisle bronzed and beautiful with the sun shining bright.

However, every season, including summer, presents challenges for brides and grooms, but luckily we’re here to help you execute the summer wedding of your dreams!

If you follow the tips below as you plan your special day, you can sleep easy knowing that just about everything will go off without a hitch!

1. Timing is everything. Work with your photographer to plan your pictures and portrait sessions ahead of time. Right around noon the sun will be directly overhead casting unflattering shadows, so you’ll want to avoid taking photos and exchanging vows during the noon hour.

2. Choose hearty blooms. The heat of summer can do a number on freshwedding flowers, so make sure to select blooms that will maintain their beauty throughout the entire day. Or, keep fresh flowers to a minimum and get creative with other decor (like lanterns, paper flowers, succulents, feathers, etc.).

3. Think long and hard before booking a venue without AC. If the wedding venue of your dreams is not equipped with air conditioning, then summertime nuptials may not be in your cards. Be open to a change of venue or season to ensure you, your groom, and guests are comfortable and cool.

4. Consider a warm weather friendly theme or wedding guest dress code. There are plenty of wedding themes that work well for summertime, and allow you and your guests to dress to impress without overheating. Think Hamptons, Luau, or Barefoot on the Beach, rather than Black Tie and formal dress codes which are not conducive to the summer sizzle.

5. Avoid a blushing bride heat wave with a breathable, lightweight wedding dress. If you’re getting hitched in summer, then a big frothy ball gown is not the best choice. Instead choose a gown with minimal beading and layering, in a lightweight fabric like jersey, charmeuse, chiffon, crepe or cotton.

6. Opt for ceremony programs that double as fans, or provide guests with parasols for the outdoor portion of your nups. So that you don’t have wedding guests dropping like flies as you become husband and wife, these are two great options to keep them shaded and staying cool!

7. Have ample refreshments on hand. Make sure you, your wedding party and everyone in attendance has easy access to water by incorporating refreshment stations at the ceremony and reception.

8. Hire a seasoned MUA who knows how to keep sweat and shine to a minimum. Splurging on a great photographer will be a waste if your wedding day makeup can’t withstand the heat! So hire a makeup artist who’s been around the block and knows the right products to combat shine and sweat.

9. Ensure shade at the altar. So that you’re not squinting into your groom’s eyes, or straining to read the vows you worked so hard to write, choose your outdoor ceremony location wisely, and consider erecting an arbor or similar structure that will provide shade for you and your soon-to-be.

10. Keep calm and stay hydrated. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you, or a rowdy rehearsal dinner leave you parched on your big day. Focus on taking deep breaths, staying calm and collected, and make sure to drink lots and lots of water!

11. Choose a breezy bridal updo. While you may have your heart set on aromantic all-down wedding hairstyle, wearing your hair all-up will keep you cooler in the sun. If you just can’t part with the all-down ‘do, save it for the reception once the sun has set for the night.

12. Eliminate bum burns with chair covers or cushions. If your guests will be seated outdoors while the sun is shining, make sure to cover your chairs! Otherwise your memorable ceremony could be interrupted by yelping wedding guests as they’re directed to take their seats.

13. Serve light and fresh fare rather than heavy hors d’oeuvres. No one wants to feast on heavy, fried foods while dining al fresco during the summer months. So choose your menu accordingly, and serve dishes that are refreshing and light (think fruit skewers, sushi, gazpacho shots, shrimp cocktail, etc.).

Choosing Your Wedding Party

By Real Simple  

The how-tos of picking your perfect attendants.

Maid of Honor

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Whom to choose: Sisters trump friends, but otherwise go for your oldest and most loyal pal―the one who knows when to tell you what you want to hear and when to be brutally honest.

Job description: As chief ringleader, the MOH plans the shower and the bachelorette party and is also responsible for keeping the bridesmaid machine running smoothly by staying on top of fittings and other tasks the bride has delegated. May be asked to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner. Gets bonus points for bringing safety pins to the bridal dressing area.

Caveat: Since organizing and motivating are key duties of the MOH, choose your lovable but scatterbrained best friend only if you’re prepared to do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself.

Best Man

Whom to choose: A brother or the best friend who won’t party too hard after the rehearsal dinner―you do want him to make it to the ceremony, after all. In some parts of the country, it’s customary for the groom to choose his father.

Job description: Takes care of all bachelor events and provides support to the groom. Keeps track of wedding rings even if there is a ring bearer (you don’t want to assign that task to a four-year-old). Kicks off the toasts at the rehearsal dinner.

Caveat: Picking someone who gets along with the bride is a plus.

Bridesmaids

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Whom to choose: Fun friends who will still be in your life long after you’ve thrown out that last chunk of frozen wedding cake. Negative, needy dramatic types need not apply. Once again, sisters and close cousins beat out friends for bridesmaid status. Don’t forget your fiancé’s sister.

Job description: As members of Team Bride, bridesmaids participate in all prewedding events. They are also required to smile while purchasing their dresses, no matter what those dresses look like; dance enthusiastically to “Shout” at the reception; run errands; attend any tastings, site visits, or meetings that the bride asks them to; and stay until the end of the reception.

Caveat: Out-of-town bridesmaids get a pass on most parties, but they still must send a gift for the shower.

Groomsmen

Groomsmen

Whom to choose: Old friends, cousins, and both the bride’s and groom’s brothers.

Job description: If necessary, seating guests, helping the best man throw the bachelor party, and dancing with the bridesmaids.

Caveat: If you’re having a large wedding, you can also have ushers, who will help with seating but won’t walk down the aisle.

Flower Girl

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Whom to choose: An adorable moppet, such as a cousin, a niece, a godchild, or a stepchild between the ages of three and six. Not to be confused with junior bridesmaids, who are older and wear tween versions of the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Job description: Scattering flower petals as she walks down the aisle. May be accompanied by the ring bearer.

Caveat: Prepare to deal with disruptions, such as crying or not making it all the way down the aisle.

Ring Bearer

Whom to choose: A boy young enough to wear knickers, saddle shoes, and long kneesocks, but who won’t turn the velvet pillow into a projectile. (Watch out, Grandma!)

Job description: No surprise―bearing the ring. Accompanying the flower girl down the aisle.

Caveat: Be sure to secure the rings to whatever they’re being carried in or on.