Tips and Tools
Q: We want to hire a food truck to serve dinner at our reception, but we’re concerned that our older rel- atives won’t be game. How can we make the idea work for everyone?
– Hannah, via email
As the offerings – and variety – of food trucks explode, they’ve become a fun way to serve up delicious, and often gourmet, fare at a casual soirée. “But asking hungry guests to wait in line, often by standing outside, can be a pain for those in heels and a real problem for a less mobile person,” says senior editor Julie Vadnal.
Consider a compromise that lets you have your truck while still catering to guests’ comfort. “Hire waiters from an inde- pendent company to support the event,” says contributing editor David Stark, of David Stark Design and Production in Brooklyn, New York. “They’ll not only help serve drinks and keep the room and tables tidy, but they can bring dinner from the trucks to your older guests so they don’t have to get up or wait on a queue.”
Hiring multiple mobile food vendors with different spe- cialties (think gyros, barbecue and tacos) will also prevent long lines forming at one truck – and appeal to diverse taste buds in the process. If you’re still apprehensive, limit the meals-on-wheels to late-night snacks, suggests Vadnal. “I can’t see anyone complaining when a truck pulls up with midnight macaroni and cheese!”
Q: Whose return address should we use for our invi- tations – ours or my parents’? They’re paying for the wedding.
– Christa, via email
Typically, those hosting an event are the ones responsible for collecting the RSVPs. However, more and more brides are handling that duty themselves, even if their folks are footing the bill.
Here’s one reason why that’s a smart idea: Guests sending money or something off your registry tend to default to the address listed on the outer envelope. Using your own means presents end up in the right place, saving Mom and Dad from playing middleman. They already get pride of place on the invitation itself if you’re going with the tradi- tional wording of “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter.” Unless your parents particularly want to be the RSVP recipients
(whether out of custom or because they don’t want Aunt Ida to know you two have already moved in together), hav- ing all mail come to you ensures their role as host is an hon- or, not a burden.
Q: Forty-five people are attending our ceremony, af- ter which we’ll go out for a nice dinner. A week lat- er, we’re hosting a reception for 150. Is it taboo to set up a registry for reception guests?
– Courtney, via email
While only ceremony attendees are expected to give pre- sents, chances are that those invited to the reception will want to bestow gifts, too. It’s a good idea to beef up your registry with enough items, in a variety of price points, to accommodate everyone. Your bridal party and family can discreetly share where you’re registered with anyone who asks (whether they’re reception-only or not), and you can include the info on your website, if you have one.
Q: I’ve seen invitations specify black-tie attire. Our wedding will be semiformal. Should we include that info somewhere in our suite?
– Debbie, via email
It’s fine to add the phrase “semiformal dress”to your station- ery, either in the lower corner of the invite or on an enclo- sure card. However, in most cases, doing so isn’t necessary. Unless guests see the words “black tie,” they’re likely to de- fault to semiformal dress anyway, meaning suits and ties for men, and cocktail dresses for ladies. If you’re worried about people over- or underdressing, or you want a specific look, like sundresses and shirtsleeves, you could put a light- hearted apparel suggestion on your website, perhaps with whimsical pictures or illustrations.
One exception: Traditionally, parties starting at 6 p.m. or later are black tie, so guests might assume any evening affair is an ultrafancy fête. If your celebration starts after 6 but you would prefer that guests don’t don tuxedos and floor-length gowns, it would be wise to include a request for semiformal dress.
Wedding wisdom and practical solutions for all your pressing questions.
Q: I love the way my diamond engagement ring catches the light when it’s clean. How do I keep it that way? Is it a bad idea to shower with it on?
A: Not only will bathing with your ring not hurt it, it’ll help, says Martha Stewart Weddings senior style editor Melissa Colgan: “A little sudsing keeps it sparkling.” Just be mindful that heavy conditioners and soaps can gunk up the setting, so be sure to rinse your ring finger with fresh water post-shower. To maintain a diamond’s shine and keep the prongs clear, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with water, rub it onto the ring with a soft-bristle toothbrush, and rinse. Done monthly, this DIY solution works as well as store-bought jewelry cleaner (but only on diamonds, sapphires and rubies; softer stones like emeralds and amethysts may become damaged by brushing). Visit your jewelry store once a year for an ultrasonic cleaning as well. If that’s where the ring was purchased, the service is usually free, and, Colgan adds, “the jeweler will also inspect the stone, band and setting to check that nothing is awry.”
Q: My fiancé and I have been dating for eight years, but our families have never met. We’re getting everyone together in three weeks for the first time. Is a simple dinner OK, or should we plan more of a to-do?
A: No need to stress out or get too fancy: “A simple dinner sounds perfect—emphasis on the simple,” says Martha Stewart Weddings executive editor Eleni N. Gage. The goal is to have your families feeling relaxed enough to mingle and chat freely. One way to do that, Gage says, is by making the meal something of an activity, which can help break the ice (think barbecue at an Argentine restaurant or dim sum at a Chinese one). You could also extend the length of a traditional supper so people have more of a chance to talk —suggest a round of appetizers to share or dessert for the table. If you’re hosting at home, set out wine and cheese before bringing out the lasagna (again, keep it simple—no sweating over soufflés for the first in-laws encounter). And if both sets of relatives are coming from out of town, hand them a list of fun things to do in the area as a nice gesture. “Who knows?” Gage adds. “By the end of the evening, they might be planning excursions together!”
Q: I’d like to introduce our wedding party at the reception, but my fiancé thinks it’s cheesy. Is there a good alternative?
A: While we enjoy watching goofy videos of over-the-top grand entrances, we know not every couple is looking to be the next YouTube sensation. And if one of you is more reserved than the other, prancing out to something from Jock Jams isn’t going to add up to the wedding of your dreams. Nevertheless, “there are other ways to give your attendants their due,” says Weddings contributing editor David Stark, of David Stark Design and Production in New York City. He suggests taking a cue from Broadway playbills by including a who’s who on the backs of dinner menus left at each place setting. “Print small bios of each player alongside their picture, but use candids or illustrations instead of head shots and quirky text in lieu of a serious résumé,” he says. “It’s a fun way to introduce your ‘cast.’”
Q: My mom wants me to send announcements to relatives who weren’t invited to our wedding, but I’ve never gotten one. Is it appropriate to do so?
A: “It’s less common in this age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but popping announcements in the mail after the fact is still the polite way to let people know that you got hitched,” says Weddings senior editor Julie Vadnal. It’s more personal than an email blast and a nice idea to reach out to those relatives and acquaintances who weren’t on the guest list but would want to be informed of your marriage. Mailed announcements, which can be as simple as a handwritten note or as formal as a printed card, are also a great way to spread the word if you eloped or had a very small gathering. And in case you were wondering, anyone who gets one is in no way obligated to send a gift.
Ideally, you’d mail these the day after your wedding; if you’re leaving for your honeymoon right away, have them stamped and ready to go, and ask a friend to drop them in the postbox for you. If that’s not possible, send them out within three months of the red-letter date, before the happy news becomes old news.
Q: My fiancé and I aren’t having a traditional wedding – we’re going to the courthouse and then out to dinner with our parents. I’m not wearing a white gown, but I love the romance of a bird cage veil. Will I look like an idiot in one?
A: Not at all! In fact, Martha Stewart Weddings associate fashion editor Carrie Goldberg says she prefers a bird cage with a knee-length dress or suit, rather than a floor-grazing gown, because the short veil/short dress combo is more proportional. The key to pulling off the look, Carrie says, is to select a headpiece that relates to the colors and fabric that you’re wearing from the neck down. Which means, for example, that you don’t have to automatically default to a white veil just because it’s your wedding. Consider a headpiece that picks up on whatever shades are in your outfit. Or, if you love the way two contrasting hues look together, go ahead and pair them, but make sure the materials are complementary: If you’re wearing a tweed suit, for instance, opt for a headpiece with leather trim, not gauzy flowers.
Q: How do we decide whom to invite to our engagement party? I’d like to include people who might not be invited to the wedding since that will be a small destination affair.
A: Originally, engagement fêtes were intimate events, hosted by the bride’s parents and meant only for relatives and close friends; it was a no-brainer that everyone who attended would also be at the big day. Now, the etiquette is changing as more couples are hosting their own larger gatherings. It’s still easiest if everyone at the kickoff celebration makes the list later, so no one feels awkward or left out. But, as Martha Stewart Weddings senior editor Julie Vadnal says, “It’s OK to bend this rule if you’re having a tiny wedding. Just be clear that this is the case, or people will be left waiting in vain for their invites.”
Q: My two daughters are marrying seven weeks apart, and they’re each other’s maid of honor. They both live away from home, and the wedding is in our home town. Is it OK to have one joint bridal shower? And can they serve as hosts for each other?
A: Logistically, combining both events into one would make sense. “But the sticky issue here is with the guest list,” warns Vadnal, who points out that having a two-for-one shower works only if everyone who comes is invited to both weddings; otherwise, partygoers will feel compelled to bring presents for a bride whose celebration they’re not attending. In the case of your daughters, they do share family, but their friend groups may not overlap. If that’s true, one way to work around the situation is for you to host a joint, family-only shower in your hometown, so relatives (and the brides) travel for just one party. Then, for those who aren’t going to both nuptials, “Separate low-key celebrations, like fun girls’ dinners or brunches or a day at the beach, can be organized by each maid of honor,” Vadnal suggests. Those, your daughters can absolutely host for each other.
(Reported by Jaime Buerger) Got a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Distributed by The New York Times syndicate.
Practical tips for the bride-to-be on delicate bridal party topics Of course it’s your big day, but remember that your friends are coming together because they love and support you.
The epic moments you spend with your closest girlfriends are sure to make it to your list of Top 10 Wedding Memories. You’ll laugh and recount stories about what happened at your bachelorette party, not to mention the last-minute wardrobe/hair/make-up malfunctions on the morning of the wedding!
Since your bridesmaids feature prominently at your wedding, you want them to make you look good. Their dresses, hair, shoes and jewelry must all come together to create a stunning package. Sounds easy? In reality, it never is.
Many brides-to-be have approached us about these details, so we spoke to a number of newlyweds and bridesmaids to come up with some tips for you.
Share your Dreams
The key here is to clarify your expectations of your bridesmaids, and allow them to do the same. You will, of course, want them to create a certain look and image together—so share that vision with your girls. It is important that they fall in love with your ideas too! If your dream is to have a Cinderella-themed wedding with your bridesmaids in fairy-like puffy pink dresses, ensure that your girls are on board with that.
Above all, keep the ‘princess’ attitude in check; of course it’s your big day, but remember that your friends are coming together because they love and support you.
Vary Style with Shape
Each of your bridesmaids has a unique body shape and size. It is not always easy to choose a single dress that will flatter every body type. Some girls may want to add sleeves, while some may want a longer hemline than the one you’ve chosen. There may even be a certain level of modesty that your girls are accustomed to and want to uphold. Our advice – be flexible! You want your girls not only looking beautiful, but feeling comfortable in their finery. When you are open to suggestions and feedback, you’ll find that many unnecessary negative sentiments and conflicts can easily be avoided.
Specific vs General
The brides covered in our Wedding Stories this issue varied in their approach to choosing bridesmaids’ dresses. One bride selected a specific dress from a supplier for her bridesmaids, while another picked a colour and asked her girls to wear any dress they loved, in that shade. Each approach has its pros and cons, so talk to your girls and see what’s most convenient and cost effective for them.
Traditionally, the bride took care of all these expenses. But don’t be alarmed. These days, there’s no set rule. First of all, be clear about your budget and realistically decide which items in your bridesmaids’ ensembles you can afford. Remember, it’s not only the dress; shoes, jewelry, hair and makeup are also costs to consider.
Recent brides advise that if you choose a dress that your bridesmaids can wear again and again, it’s not unfair that they pay for their own dress. However, do strongly consider sponsoring if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime statement piece that you have your heart set on.
Speak to each of your girls and see what they’re able and prepared to take care of. Some may be travelling from overseas to be part of your wedding, while others may be living on student budgets that do not allow for these expenses. Draw on your sense of practicality and ability to be understanding when making these important decisions.
Some brides prefer to keep it low-key and let their bridesmaids do their own hair and make-up, but it’s important to give some direction and styling tips to ensure that there will be no surprises. Other brides hire professional hairstylists and make-up artists to beautify their bridesmaids so that the hair and make-up looks will be the same for each bridesmaid. Styling elements such as jewellery and shoes should be coordinated in advance to achieve uniformity. Why not plan a relaxing ladies-only spa day just before the wedding? This will ensure that everyone is well-rested, glowing and photo-ready on your big day!
It’s no surprise that ladies are very particular about what they wear! From the bride to the wedding guests, everyone wants to look their splendid best. With a number of girls in your bridal party, expect a plethora of tastes, preferences and opinions. It’s impossible to please yourself and everyone else without hurting some feelings and bruising some egos.
A spirit of gratitude gives you the superpower to face all situations with poise and a clear focus on what’s truly important. It’s less about which shade of pink to go with, and more about the love, joy and harmony of being together.
Of course it’s your big day, but remember that your friends are coming together because they love and support you.
By Wedding Consultant, Nikki Hilaire
The ceremony (and reception) is running an hour (or two!) late? What do you do?
Identify the cause and remedy. For instance, if lateness is due to a missing but replaceable item (such as a ring pillow or bouquet) I’d grab a substitute from my emergency kit, and get the wedding started.
Otherwise, I’d inform vendors of the situation and enlist their cooperation in making changes to the programme. For example, a late wedding may necessitate serving dinner earlier and allowing speeches during the meal, or having the caterer serve hors d’oeuvres to waiting guests (if possible).
There is an interruption in water supply?
I make it a point to drive around the venue neighbourhood and map out the nearest automated teller machines and convenience stores. I also keep handy the phone numbers for water trucking services.
I discuss any potential water problems with the venue contact closer to the date and on the morning of the wedding. In the unlikely event that the venue is unable to meet water requirements on the day (think sinks running dry) I’d approach neighbours about the possibility of using their supply. There is also the option to purchase water by the gallon from the nearest convenience stores whilst waiting for water trucks to arrive.
It’s raining at your outdoor wedding?
You need to establish a back-up plan in advance. Consider reserving tent walls to be used if necessary; if the venue is not tented there should be at least one covered area.
I often change the reception schedule or program when this happens. For instance, if pelting rain forces guests to run for shelter, the “waiting” period can be turned into the “first dance” item followed by a soca dance party. Guests would be having such a good time that they may not notice that the banquet style dinner was turned into a casual buffet.
The entertainment does not show up?
I keep varied music discs in my car as back-up; the DJ usually does a sound check with me, or someone from my team, at least two hours prior to the reception, so that they can always transition if a musician does not show.
For instance, if your live saxophonist cancels, the DJ can substitute instrumental music, without guests even knowing that something went wrong. It’s all about having that relationship with your vendors.
a guide to creating an heirloom
Get it cleaned
Your gown should be professionally cleaned within several days (or weeks at most) after wear. If you will be off on your honeymoon, enlist someone to take it to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Even if your dress appears clean after the wedding, spills from alcoholic beverages or soda can turn brown with time and become more difficult to remove. Body oils may also cause the dress lining to turn brittle eventually. Tip: Not all dry cleaners are the same. Check with your local bridal shops to find out which they recommend.
Have you dry cleaner WET CLEAN your gown; that is, clean with water and mild detergents. This will prevent any damage to the beadwork or sequins by chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning. Wet-cleaning also ensures that invisible stains from body oils, soda or alcohol are removed. Once the dress has been well rinsed, no chemicals or residue should be left. Package well
Before you send your gown to be cleaned, you should:
- Know what fabric your dress is made of; silks are notoriously difficult to have cleaned.
- Check to see if there are cleaning instructions on the dress label. These may read: Dry Clean Only or Professional Wet-Cleaning Recommended
- Identify any visible stains or dirt on the dress for your dry cleaner’s attention.
- Note whether your dress has any sequins or beads that may need protecting and whether they are glued or sewed on. Embellishments that are glued on are more prone to coming off during the cleaning process.
Store your gown in a way that will protect and preserve it.
One of the absolute worst ways to store your wedding gown is in the plastic bag from your dry cleaner or a plastic storage bag. Most plastics will give off chemical fumes that can cause your gown to become discolored over time. Plastics are also very good at sealing in moisture from excess humidity, which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
If your wedding gown has covered metal buttons, pins or sponge shoulder pads or padding, these should be removed and stored separately. These items can break down at different rates and release chemicals that may damage your gown.
If you’re going to hang your dress in a closet, use a plastic or padded hanger; if you use the wooden or wire ones, the weight of the dress can cause the fabric to stretch and distort.
It is recommended that the gowns be packed with white acid-free or pH-neutral tissue paper and boxes. Ordinary paper contains acid which can literally scorch your gown. Packaging in the box and using the tissue paper will also allow the gown to ‘breathe’ and get rid of excess moisture. Estimated cost of box, TT$350.00; cost of 10 sheets of tissue TT$20.00.
The tissue is rolled up and stuffed inside the bodice and sleeves of the gown to prevent wrinkles and preserve the shape. It’s best to avoid folding if possible as folds can become permanent with time and weaken the fabric. If you do fold your gown, ensure the radius of the curve is as large as possible to avoid sharp creases.
A dark, cool, dry place.
Store your gown, either hanging or boxed, in cool, dry areas, free from drastic temperature changes. Select an area with adequate air circulation, but away from light. Interior closets that meet the temperature and circulation requirements can be ideal.
Note: Even with proper treatment, some garments will turn yellow with age. This is typical with the ageing of silk and wool and is considered the ‘patina of age’.
5 floral choices from our featured brides.
- White calla lilies and cascading white orchids; a white calla lily was used for the groom’s corsage and mango calla lilies for the bridal bouquet.
Danah and Joseph’s wedding
- Green cymbidium and purple orchid bouquet; these flowers were also used for the groomsmen’s boutonnieres and decor.
Elizabeth and Jeevan’s wedding
- Vendela roses bridal bouquet; the bridesmaids held mango calla lilies.
JoMarie and Jonas’s wedding
- Mango calla lilies floral decor.
Danah and Joseph’s wedding
- White roses and calla lilies bouquet.
Tahira and Reza’s wedding
Here’s what we’ve spotted.
- Square, layered, ribbon-banded cake with floral detail.
- Slipper in sand initialled cake for beach or cruise wedding.
- Lace designed cupcakes. Lace detail is the new trend for 2013, with cupcakes or cake pops remaining popular choices.
- Soft coral and green are ideal colour choices for 2013.
- Floral adornment in coral for modern and stunning effect.
- Dress inspired, pleated design.
- Elegant five-layered fruit cake with pearl and floral detail.
Diana and Ron said “I Do” in Nassau, Bahamas.
The Bride answers your most pressing questions:
CB: Why did you choose a destination wedding? What were your main considerations?
Diana: We wanted a non-fuss, simple, intimate ceremony, especially since we wrote our own vows; the thought of a crowd of people staring at us at such a sacred moment didn’t seem very romantic.
A beach setting was also high on the agenda (sand between our toes) and since we were honeymooning in the Bahamas, we thought why not have a wedding-moon; after all the Bahamas does have some of the most amazing beaches.
CB: Why did you choose Sandals?
Diana: All-inclusive and no children allowed – what could be better? Sandals took the worry and hassle out of planning the wedding. We merely informed them of our preferences for the day. Everything you could possibly need for a wedding can be provided: the bouquet, groom’s boutonniere, cake, champagne, minister, photography and even the DJ. You can also access a glamour team to help you look extra special.
We’d considered both St Lucia and the Bahamas, but decided on the Bahamas mainly because the resort had an offshore island also equipped with a pool, restaurant and bar – which was great for the honeymoon! You had access to the offshore resort plus the main resort.
CB: Where did you get your dress?
Diana: The resort also supplies a collection of wedding dresses. However, I found my dress at Megans in Trincity Mall, Trinidad.
CB: Can you describe the sequence of events on the day?
Diana: We had a morning ceremony on the beach (several locations are available), after which we had our first dance on the sand (which was magical; there were no piercing eyes staring at us to make things awkward), followed by an elaborate photo-shoot throughout the compound, with the sticking of the cake as the finale.
CB: Would you do anything differently?
Diana: The weather was a little too cold for my liking (we got there on March 22nd) – if I had to do anything differently I would have planned it one month later.
CB: What were the highlights of the honeymoon?
Diana: We’re an outgoing and adventurous couple so relaxation alone would never satisfy us, though we did a lot of that. We needed an adrenaline fix, which we got with parasailing. Every time we travel we try to do something we never did before.
- Can the venue accommodate all my guests? Be sure to ask about the largest wedding held at the venue and if there are any pictures of previous weddings hosted.
- Are there rooms for the bride and groom and guests to freshen up?
- Are any other events or weddings booked for the same day? Some venues may only book one wedding a day while other reception locations may book two weddings back to back. You need to know exactly what time you have for décor set-up, and when you’re expected to clear out after the wedding.
- Would you accommodate us should we run late and exceed the given lime limit? This is important to check as some venues can go so far as to turn off the lights when your time is up.
- How many hours prior to the event are the air conditioners switched on?
- The cost: how much is required to reserve the date, and is it a deposit or a retainer? There is a difference! A deposit is a down payment, and in most cases is fully refundable. A retainer, on the other hand, cannot legally be refunded to you upon cancellation of your event; it’s just the vendors’ way of protecting themselves from cancellations.
- When is the full balance due, and what forms of payment do you accept? Sometimes putting everything on a credit card that earns points or miles (and paying card’s balance in full as you go along, if possible) is a great way to earn free tickets for your honeymoon, or at least a 1st class upgrade.
- What are the hidden costs? Are linen and glassware included? What is the corkage fee? (When you purchase your own alcohol for the reception, a corkage fee is sometimes charged for each bottle of liquor opened and served).
- Is parking readily available? Would you need to hire additional parking attendants? Are there other major events or activities in the vicinity on that day that could lead to parking or traffic issues?
- Would we have a venue contact on site or easily reachable on the day? Try to meet this person before you sign the contract.
- What’s your cancellation policy? Most places will refund the deposit if you cancel well in advance. Remember, it’s not unheard of for them to cancel on you either, so ask about that too.