Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday’s Top Five: Unique Registries

Many couples already have fully stocked kitchens; some couples aren’t interested in gifts for their home. Although the traditional purpose of a wedding registry is to provide guests with a way to gift the couple presents to start their life together, this tradition might not blend (get it, blender?!) with the couple’s lifestyle.

Earlier this week we came across an article discussing unique registries. Although non-traditional registries might surprise guests, most are more than happy to give the gift that a couple really wants. Here are HJ’s top five unique registry ideas:

  1. Honeymoon registry: let your guests purchase a night out to dinner or a special spa treatment to pamper you on your honeymoon.
  2. Wine registry: many online wine retailers offer creating registries for specialty bottles, openers and glasses. Every time you clink glasses, you’ll silently thank the giver.  
  3. Charity registry: letting guests choose from multiple charities to donate to means that multiple people benefit.
  4. Cleaning and storage registry: if you’ve got all you need, use this registry to ensure that it remains organized and clean. Target or the Container Store are usually your best bet.
  5. Wish registry: rather than give gifts, this registry allows guests to provide you with wishes for your future. Letting them write their dreams and hopes for you on pretty cards or even online allows you to return to them again and again to remember the sweet thoughts that surrounded you on your wedding day. 
**Did you know that HJ has a line of customizable products, Charmed? Every bride needs customized items for her big day, and HJ answered the call!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Menswear Dilemma

Jerry Seinfeld fans may remember his joke about why the groom and his groomsmen traditionally wear the same suit at a wedding: “So that, if the groom doesn’t show up, the rest of the men can just slide over to fill his spot and the bride is still married at the end of the day.”

Ha! Wait….um, you probably want to marry your groom though, right?

The tradition of men wearing the same outfit to the celebration derives from Scottish clansmen standing up next to the groom during the ceremony. By wearing their same-patterned kilts, they displayed solidarity and support for the couple as well as their willingness to defend the couple should another clan attempt to disrupt the ceremony. (As a side note: this is also why the bride stands on the left side of the groom – so that the groom’s right arm is free to grab his sword or other weapon and defend her at a moment’s need).

Since the days of riotous ceremonies and needing to display solidarity for defense reasons are long gone, many grooms are now asking just what, exactly, they can do to spice up their own and their groomsmen’s outfits.  

The answer is simply said, but maybe not so easily implemented: whatever you want, as long as there’s cohesiveness among the group.

This means that grooms can wear the same exact suit and tie as their groomsmen, as is tradition, or that they can mix it up. A groom can wear a tux and the groomsmen black suits, the entire wedding party can wear shades of gray suits (see above photo), the groom and best man can wear suits and the rest of the groomsmen only vests or the groom can wear a suit and the groomsmen a nice shirt and tie combination. With these options, the colors, fabrics and the general feel of the outfits should blend, but not necessarily match.

The complex part of dressing the room and groomsmen non-traditionally is identifying the groom in photos. For example, “Who’s the groom?” 

Even though guests know which gentleman is the groom, it may not be so obvious in photos. The bride, after all, is distinguishable from the bridesmaids, and so, too, should be the groom. Overcoming this issue can be as simple as his wearing a larger or different boutonniere, a different shade of tie, or even a different pair of shoes (red sneakers, sir?).

Because weddings are no longer cookie-cutter affairs, groom and groomsmen’s attire is a hot topic in wedding planning right now. So go ahead and let your groom’s personality shine, just make sure that he stays in the spotlight. However, please don’t do this:

Visual guidance: 

 Different ties and suspenders for groomsmen; white tie and boutonniere for groom.

The groom's lighter-green tie and khaki pants set him apart.

Not all groomsmen need to wear suits.

 This groom stands out with his lack of color, in his wearing a black tie.

Same trousers, but a different tie and vest set this groom apart.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why We Love Emily Post

Recently, one bride shared with me her best engagement present: Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette. In response to her reveal, I laughed, because that’s the one book that HJ advises all brides to purchase or borrow.

Although the world has changed a hundred times over since she first began dispensing advice, Emily Post’s still knows her etiquette. The etiquette-adviser-extraordinaire (now a brand name than an actual person) provides guidance on everything from who walks the mother-of-the-bride down the aisle to how to word an invitation for two sets of divorced parents that also honors a deceased grandparent.

Post’s Wedding Etiquette is intense, but any bride-to-be will undoubtedly find the pages fascinating. Most important, however, is the fact that the book provides brilliant ways and a world-renown backup source for saying “No” or “That’s not proper.” And sometimes, a bride just needs to be able to say "No." 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On-Site Event Coordinators vs….well, US.

Hotels and many private venues that make their space available for private events boast that they offer on-site coordinators to help you plan and run your event. Wonderful! That means you’ll have a coordinator at your beck and call at all times!

Hold on, not so fast.

An on-site coordinator is NOT the same as a professional event planner. Although helpful and knowledgeable (we here at HJ work with great ones all the time), these coordinators are there for the building or event space and NOT you.

Wow, that’s a lot of emphasized “NOTs”!

Yes, it is, mainly because there are a lot of “NOTs” associated with on-site coordinators.

(Disclaimer: before we go any further, we must say that we are not anti-on-site coordinators. We find these coordinators extremely helpful, kind and enthusiastic about working with HJ Planners.)

What are these NOTs? On-site planners:

  • Do not help you find vendors or negotiate contracts.
  • Do not advise you on how to handle sticky etiquette situations.
  • Do not help you find a new vendor if your original choice falls through.

The list could be endless and, honestly, might make on-site coordinators look bad, which is NOT the purpose of this article.

There are two main qualities of on-site coordinators that every couple should know:

1. They are focused on the building/event space and not necessarily your wedding.

On-site coordinators want your event to go well, they hope that everything runs perfectly, but – their main concern is that the rules of the space are followed and that the space remains unblemished. They are not bothered if your band refuses to play for an hour because they haven’t been feed a hot meal; they are not bothered if your photographer can’t get into the building because they can’t find parking.

2. They don’t create a timeline.

A timeline is the biggest, most essential, most important (please feel free to insert any other adjectives you feel fitting here) tool for any event. If you don’t know what a timeline is, think of it as Eisenhower’s mapped plan for D-Day. A timeline details who goes where, when and what they do when there. It specifies how the numerous aspects of an event interact and ensures that the event itself runs as smoothly. It is a document that quite literally specifies an event’s progression to the minute.

No matter how organized you are or how perfect you believe your vendors to be, you need a timeline. An on-site coordinator won’t have one; in fact, they just might expect you to provide them with one, and it’s pretty likely that you don’t have much experience in creating this type of timeline.

Why a professional planner?

Because they are not tied to a venue, a professional wedding planner can step outside of the venue’s walls (literally) and walk alongside you during the planning process. For the months before your wedding, they direct you to the vendors that can best provide you with what you are looking for and negotiate contracts for services so that they fit within your budget.

Professional planners put out fires when something goes wrong, provide you with alternatives if you don’t like an option and create a timeline. The best part is that they also work with on-site-coordinators to make sure that the space itself is protected and nobody’s feelings are hurt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Would you like a slice of groom’s cake?

Having a groom’s cake at a wedding reception is normally attributed to the traditions of the Southern U.S. In reality, however, the history of groom’s cakes date back to the Victorian era in England, when it was not unusual to have not one or two, but THREE wedding cakes: a large, main (fruitcake) for wedding guests, a bride’s cake and a groom’s cake. The bride’s and groom’s cake were jointly sliced by the bride and groom and the groom’s cake served to the groomsmen and the bride’s cake to the bridesmaids.

Over time, this morphed into there being two cakes at a wedding reception: the bride’s, which is sliced by the couple and served after the meal, and the groom’s, which is served separately, often on an as-desired basis by plates of sliced cake being made available on a table for guests. Sometimes, this tradition is further personalized by serving slices of both the groom’s and bride’s cake on the same plate after the meal. 

Even this metamorphosis of cake delivery methods, however, isn’t true Southern tradition. According to Southern etiquette, the groom’s cake should be sliced at the same time as the bride’s cake, but then put into decorative boxes and sent home with guests. In the U.S., therefore, the groom’s cake is intended to be a wedding favor. 

In an effort to personalize the décor of their wedding or even to spoil their guests, many modern couples now hand out wedding favors for guests to take home. Many couples, particularly those living in the Northern U.S., forgo the groom’s cake altogether.

To make your groom feel special AND to cut down on the costs of purchasing separate wedding favors, consider bringing back the tradition of the groom’s cake. Conjuring up a unique groom’s cake is something fun you and your fiancé can do together, and – perhaps most important – allows you to have a second cake tasting. In fact, my husband’s favorite part of wedding planning was tasting the flavors for his groom’s cake with Stephanie the Baker. There are, however, a few rules for designing your cake: 

  • Don’t go crude: avoid lewd-shaped cakes or ones in the shape of alcohol or tobacco products.
  • Think different, flavor-wise: the groom’s cake is traditionally chocolate, but if the bride’s cake is chocolate, consider using vanilla cake to offer guests variety.
  • Let your groom have final say: the groom’s cake is an add-on, and will not destroy your perfect day if you don’t like it. If you struggle with this, compromise by being in charge of picking out the boxes to send home with the guests. 

Although almost all grooms have some involvement in wedding planning, there may be very little that truly represents them on the day. A groom’s cake allows the couple to showcase something special and unique about the groom. 

Looking for Groom’s Cake Ideas? Check out HJ Planner’s Pinterest Board!

Photo courtesy of Documentary Associates.