Once you’ve been faced with the reality of planning your wedding getting down to the details can be daunting. A good place to start is to envision the event—decide whether you’re going to have an intimate celebration or a grand affair. Then, figure out what you can afford to spend to realize your vision. That’s right, you need to determine your budget.
It’s important to sit with all the people who will financially support your wedding and discuss what type of wedding you envision and how you and/or them would share the costs. Your families may look at your budget and offer to pay for the catering and drinks, for example, or they may set an amount they can contribute. If they can’t afford to contribute or can only contribute a small amount, say ‘thank you’ and revise the budget accordingly or find more creative ways to finance your wedding. Remember that some people don’t like discussing financial details in a group setting, so consider meeting with your families separately.
TIP: Open a separate account for your wedding expenses. This way you can both keep a close eye on the numbers and make sure you don’t go over your budget.
A true favour is a thoughtful act of kindness. It is a deed done for another without need of recognition. Here are 8 favor ideas that are both memorable and useful.
(See full article in Newsday, Mentality, April 21st).
- Flip-flops. These can be used both during the wedding (on the dance floor) and afterwards. Ideal token for a destination or beach wedding.
- Olive oil. This can be gifted either as miniature bottles or handmade soaps, and would be a welcomed addition to any kitchen or bath respectively.
- Donations. In lieu of favors, place a card at every table explaining that you chose to donate money to a special charity or cause on behalf of your guest. Be sure to choose a reputable non-profit.
- Pashminas. Attach a note saying, “To keep you warm, always.”
- Tea or coffee: Shower guests with packets of tea and/or coffee. Consider a Caribbean blend such as Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee.
- Honey or jam. Attach a note saying, “Spread the Love.”
- Herbs and spices. Consider Grenadian spices or nutmeg, or even potted basil or rosemary.
- Wedding dress cookies. These are the ideal “girly-girl” sweet treats.
JoMaria and Jonas
In the Arab culture, the bridegroom would solicit the permission of the bride’s father before he proposes. Thereafter, a date is set for the “asking”, where his family goes to the bride-to-be’s house to ask her family to consent to the union.
Thirty-five members of Jonas’ family arrived at JoMarie’s house with a cart filled with bread and fruits to signify the breaking of bread between two families. After a dinner feast, the engagement party and wedding was planned.
The bride’s agenda on the morning of the wedding included the Blessed Sacrament and Confession with her family (which provided her a sense of peace for the day). Thereafter, bridesmaids arrived at her house and groomsmen at Jonas’ house. The bridal party proceeded to the church, and finally to the reception after a quick detour at an aunt’s house to take photographs.
Dress, shoes and jewellery
JoMarie bought her Vera Wang dress from Ever After boutique in Miami. It was the first dress she tried on; she fell in love with its simple sweetheart bodice and ballroom skirt with individually ruched silk organza and tulle bunches. Her shoes, with its tulle and organza front, perfectly complemented her dress. Her earrings were “something borrowed” from her godfather’s wife.
The couple wanted an earthy, natural and elegant indoor garden affair. They used bamboo chevalier chairs and lots of white, draped fabric, key lighting and strategically placed garden statues with floral baskets and arrangements.
The bride’s bouquet, arranged by Sandra Debs, comprised vendela roses; the bridesmaids each held a bouquet of mango calla lilies (which complemented their golden dresses); the groomsmen wore mango calla lily boutonnieres. The church was decked in hydrangea roses, spider mums, bells of Ireland and white carnations.
The wedding reception décor comprised centerpieces elevated on glass pedestal martini glasses with white dendrobium orchids imported from Indonesia. The head table was adorned with orchids, roses and anthuriums. The corridor leading to the ballroom was transformed into a magical secret garden with hanging vines and trellises. Fresh flowers and foliage were used throughout.
The five-tier wedding fruitcake was designed by the bride’s mother and mother-in-law to complement her gown; the designers’ vision was executed by Ann Whitby.
Guests were greeted with a mezze spread on their table with assorted items such as hummus, kibbe, raw kibbe, Arabic cheese, pickles, nuts and bread. A buffet styled dinner comprised sushi, a seafood bar, shrimp, mushroom ravioli, pork tenderloin, and stuffed chicken with spinach. The desserts contained an array of pitted dates (stuffed with orange peel, almonds and pistachios), jelly fruits, imported Arabic sweets, chocolates and colorful macaroons.
The couple opted for drumbaki (Arabic) drumming in addition to their disk jockey. The bridal party entered the reception ballroom to the sounds of both Arabic music and drumming.
(Point of View)
What were the most memorable moments?
JoMarie: My bridesmaids were lifting my dress and singing, “We’re going to the chapel and we’re going to get married” as we walked to the car which would take us to the church. I started to cry as the reality that this was my wedding day sunk in.
Walking into the reception, with my husband and the bridal party, to Arabic drums, and waving handkerchiefs, was a moment that I would never forget. This is also the moment where the bride is welcomed into the groom’s family.
During an interlude my mother had my cousin sing Martina McBride’s I Hope You Dance as a surprise to me. This was very heartfelt and touching. I would also never forget dancing with my father and looking over to see Jonas dancing with his mother.
The most sentimental moment?
JoMarie: Our four grandmothers carried the Offertory at the church; it was extremely special to us to have all four grandmothers present as our grandfathers have passed away, and not many couples can boast this honour.
What were the most unique things about your wedding?
JoMarie: We wanted our wedding to reflect our Trinidadian and Syrian/Lebanaese cultures so we included a Chow bar, an Arabic coffee bar, an argyle/hookah station with Arabian rugs and couches as well as doubles (which came out later in the night after the party got under way). Another unique element was a picture slide show of what happened that day, before the wedding (my bridesmaids and I getting ready as well as Jonas and his groomsmen), as you don’t usually get to see this taking place.
Alaric and Ngozi
The ceremony was held at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church, Scarborough, with the reception at Brash Villa, Mt. Irvine, Tobago. The grounds of the villa were beautifully lush and full of character, thanks to the Spanish-influenced architecture. The swimming pool—of great significance to Ngozi, Nigerian Olympic swimmer—provided a serene glow, while the unobstructed view of the Buccoo Reef was simply breathtaking.
Theme & Décor
The couple set out to create an enchanting, romantic, and sophisticated outdoor experience for their wedding. White with vibrant accents of blue and berry—expressed in different elements and luxuriously illuminated—effectively showcased their personal style: minimalist and elegant, with punches of colour. Ngozi and Alaric designed every element of their wedding, with ample help from their family and friends in putting it all together. The entire event was the couple’s ‘DIY labour-of-love’, as almost every aspect of the wedding was emblazoned with personal touches.
The bride had her dress custom-made at Designer Loft in New York. Designer Elen Paumere created the lace, open-backed, V-neck item with an empire waist, ending with layered lace and chiffon at the bottom. Her shoes were by Calvin Klein and jewelry came from thebridaljewelrystore.com and Akribos.
In line with incorporating splashes of color throughout their wedding, the couple thought that colourful socks for the groom and groomsmen would be a hit. Alaric’s berry-coloured striped socks matched his tie and the lining of his custom-made suit, complementing Ngozi’s berry crystal-accented shoes, flowers and bridesmaids’ hair accessories. The groomsmen’s blue socks balanced their blue-checkered ties, which was well-paired with the bridesmaids’ blue dresses.
Wooden “I am His” and “I am Hers” signs hung at the back of the bride’s and groom’s chairs, and other wooden signs spelling out words such as “Love”, “Dream”, “Laugh”, and “Live” decorated various areas of the venue. The guest book was a unique wooden box containing wooden hearts on which guests could write their wishes.
The favor boxes, accessorized with a blue ribbon and a heart label, each contained a bracelet—as a token of the donation that the couple made to the charity One.org on behalf of their guests—along with Serbian sweets.
Candle holders on the tables and the white Chinese lanterns framing the dance area added a soft, romantic glow to the setting. The couple took advantage of the outdoor setting with its breathtaking views to send berry-coloured lanterns wafting into the sky along with their hopes, prayers, and wishes. It was an absolutely beautiful moment as Alaric and Ngozi each sent off their lanterns, while the guests lit and held sparklers.
This wedding symbolised not only the union of two families, but also the harmonious blending of three cultures: Caribbean (from Alaric’s side), African (Ngozi’s Nigerian roots) and European (Ngozi’s Serbian background). Aside from hosting the wedding in Tobago, the Caribbean isle was also represented in the wedding cake—a traditional black rum fruit creation. Nigeria was represented by a special ceremonial tradition of the Igbo people (Ngozi’s Dad’s tribe): breaking of the kola nut, performed by Ngozi’s Dad at the start of the reception.
Then during the reception, the newlyweds, along with the wedding party and the bride’s parents, changed into traditional Igbo-inspired attire and performed a dance. Serbia was abundantly represented by the sprig of rosemary that adorned every guest on arrival, symbolising good luck, warding off the bad, and bringing the couple fertility. The rosemary sprig was also incorporated into the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere. Everyone also had the chance to sample Serbian treats, some of Ngozi’s favorites, as part of the wedding favors.
Yogita and Ramiz
“Putting Away” the Bride
The bride wore two outfits, the traditional red sari, and yellow sari, purchased at Arman’s Bridal Fashions in Jackson Heights, New York. Yogita says, “There was all this jewellery, and my skirt alone was twenty-five pounds; my veil was five pounds in itself. So you have to get someone to put it all together.” Michael Salickram, co-founder and art director of Shiv Shakti dance group, helped her to do just that; he put the bride away as they say.
Yogita comes from a very traditional Hindu family, hence culture and rituals are very important to her. “I wanted that…the actual ceremony…to be the focus of the day. I really wanted people to witness our wedding.” The couple loved the style and flair of western weddings and sought to marry that with tradition. Hence, the marriage rituals were witnessed by guests in a banquet setting, with a reception immediately following. Yogita says, “I did not have a home wedding in the traditional way – I had it at the hall. When you’re (a Hindu woman) getting married you can’t leave the house the day before, so I could not go to the hall to see the decorations; I just had to remind myself to breathe.”
Yogita has been dancing Indian classical dance, one of her greatest passions, for the past twenty-five years. She quips that Ramiz does not enjoy Indian dance and movies as much as she does; his passion is football. Thus there was also a merging of personalities at their wedding, reflected in their unique place cards, where those for the “girl’s side” were named after Indian dancers, whilst those for the “boy’s side” were named after football stadia, such as Old Trafford.
The red and gold colour scheme of the jewelled invitations, the first glimpse into the event, was translated throughout the wedding. A jewelled Indian woman appears on both the invitations for Yogita’s guests as well as the place cards, whilst the counterpart male appears for Ramiz’s guests.
The bride walked into the mandap with rice in her hands. Rice in general, in the Hindu tradition, symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. Hence rice is also traditionally showered upon the bride in a celebratory manner. Ramiz was greeted by Yogita’s mom as he entered the wedding venue; in fact, he’s not allowed to enter until he’s greeted by her. Yogita’s brother then washed his feet and ensured that he was comfortable. Traditionally, when a guest comes to your home you honour them by washing their feet.
Ramiz then came out to the marriage area, or mandap, where Yogita’s father greeted him; afterwards the bride entered the wedding hall, to the tune of the Indian song, Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai (I see God in You), accompanied by close family members. The song is special to the bride and groom (it’s the song from the first Indian movie they saw together), who in that moment, saw each other for the first time that day, and sat opposite each other. The bride’s parents actively participate in a solemn giving away – the mother places her hand under the bride’s, whilst the father places his under the groom’s; the groom’s other hand is then placed beneath.
The wedding vows, or Saptapadi, is thought to be the bringing together of two compatible souls. It involves seven mounds of rice, symbolizing seven steps together, or a journey. The first three mounds symbolize the part of the journey where the bride walks alone; from the fourth mound onward, the couple join hands and walk the rest of the way together. Yogita says, “For me, those vows were transcendental; the actual moment of joining together.”
When ancestors brought tradition – they also brought vows. One such vow, for the bride, was to be punctual in domestic duties, in order to avoid discomfort to her husband. This flummoxed Yogita, who had not heard about this particular vow until the wedding day, and who made it clear to the Pundit that she could not agree to it. She says, “ The Pundit did not know what to say to me at that point, so eventually I agreed to share domestic duties with my husband, and he happily agreed – he was relieved that I agreed to something.”
Sometimes, the most memorable moments are unplanned – often being the things that went wrong. Yogita recalls: “It was raining really heavily on the day, just as the barath (the groom and guests) were making their way to the venue, and a tree fell across the road. They were all stuck there, waiting for someone to clear the road. This happened close to where they were building a smelter; there was an alternative, forested road and the guard agreed to let only two cars go through. But Ramiz’s parents were left behind, and the wedding could not start without them; we waited two hours for all our guests to arrive.”
The Days Before
The engagement: In Gujarati tradition, the bride’s family sends gifts and sweets for the groom as well as his family. In this case, the bride’s brother was dispatched with gifts, including fruits, and money, to be presented to the groom. In return, the groom sends the ring.
Mehindi Night: This event was held a few days following the engagement. The bride invited only family and close friends – the people she wanted to feel very connected with. Celebrated Mehindi artist, Varsha Roodal, was at hand to provide intricate designs for guests. The bride’s sister and cousins organized dance rehearsals for this night, as a group among them were actually practicing to perform at the wedding.
Matikur Night: This night follows the Mehindi night. Some friends from Yogita’s dance class performed a dance medley, and Yogita recalls that the aftermath was like a scene from an Indian movie, where everyone just came out in impromptu song and dance – that strangely enough, seemed choreographed.
Laawa night: To celebrate, women and men gather to cook dinner for this night and prepare for the following day. Apart from food preparation, one of the main rituals is the “parching of the laawa.” Laawa (rice paddy), is heated on a flame – the same happens at the groom’s house – and there is a little competition to see who parches the first or most – the saying goes that if the groom’s parches first the bride’s won’t parch, and vice versa.
What rights do I have over my wedding photos? My photography contract says that my photographer owns them.
Many couples believe that because they are the subjects of the photos, or the ones who hired the photographer, they hold copyright over the wedding images. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Your photographer owns the photos; you do not.
This means that your photographer is free to sell, publish, Photoshop, and/or distribute your images, whilst your authorized use of said images is extremely limited.
The important thing is to know what you’re buying and to negotiate the terms.
Mostly, photographers allow you personal use. This means that you can store in an album and display to friends and family. Others agree to give you, apart from a specified amount of prints, a number of low-resolution images on a CD. They would ask you to pay additional fees for extra prints or high-resolution photos.
Many couples are surprised to know that they only get low-resolution digital photos, which makes it impossible for them to print more copies of the images, or design print photo albums on their own.
Additionally, couples would have to seek their photographer’s permission to submit photos to newspapers, magazines and/or e-zines.
But these are just default terms. You can try to negotiate your own contract with your photographer.
Be sure to ask about the amount of prints and high-resolution images you would receive, as well as the right to post images on social media and submit for editorial use. Read your contract carefully and know what you’re signing up for.
Damion and Carlene’s sunshine wedding featured a must-have bamboo arbor, and brilliant pops of yellows and lights to create the garden theme they envisioned.
We loved the shoes.
The bride was resplendent in a strapless, A-line dress, accented with beads and chiffon roses; but it was her shoes that she was most excited about. She spotted the perfect pair of shoes with bright yellow bow at dsw.com.
We also loved the round, yellow cup cakes.
The couple was adamant about these: both chocolate and vanilla; they did the ceremonial cutting on a 6-inch round chocolate cake.
Jenga Blocks Guest Book!
One of the most imaginative things at Damion and Carlene’s wedding were the huge Jenga blocks created by their friends Josanne and Chris. These amazing colour-coordinated blocks were placed on tables, along with Sharpies, so that guests could write their wishes for the couple. Now, the newlyweds keep the blocks at home and have great fun playing with them, especially at “limes”, while reading the heartfelt notes from their loved ones.
Fun and sophisticated, the colour coral is pink’s half-sister that’s quickly becoming very popular at weddings. The peachy-orange tones add versatility to let you pair this colour beautifully with almost all others. We especially love it with turquoise, ivory, or chocolate! For a romantic theme, try a gentler shade of coral, and for a high-energy feel, go for a brighter hue.
Alternatively, emerald and mint are also hot on the fashion runways and are hitting the wedding world hard. Emerald, is the colour of fashion this year, and is symbolic of growth, renewal and regeneration, according to Pantone Inc. who creates colour standards for the fashion industry.
Photographer: Brilliant by Tropical Imaging: www.brilliant.tc
Wedding Planner and Coordinator: Island Harmony: http://www.islandharmony.com
Venue: Grace Bay Club Resort: http://www.gracebayresorts.com/gracebayclub/
Florist: Flowers by Environmental Arts: http://www.flowersbyea.com/home.php
Cake: Cakes to Di For: http://cakestodifor.webs.com/
Island is Providenciales Turks & Caicos, British West Indies, The Caribbean
The couple met online through a mutual friend while they were still teens. Their first date was a movie “lime” at Alydia’s house. Luckily, their parents knew each other and consented.
Brad planned a vacation in St. Lucia which included an all day catamaran cruise. The couple had a lovely trip to the sulphur springs, went snorkeling and had lunch at a plantation. When they got back to land Brad started talking about how lovely the sunset at the hotel was (he had been there before on a boys’ lime); he was worried they were going to miss it as the shuttle was dropping off at their locale last.
When they got back to the resort Alydia opted to refresh before going onto the beach. As soon as she was dressed, Brad literally dragged her out of the hotel room and onto the beach, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry him. Alydia responded, “Are you serious?”The look of sheer terror on Brad’s face told her that he was.
Alydia was totally surprised because Brad always rolled his eyes and shrugged off any mention of marriage. Brad gave her the ring his grandfather used to propose to his grandmother and his dad to his mom.
Alydia wanted her wedding to be soft, yet elegant, with a hint of romance. Pink, she says, is the colour of true, sweet, innocent love.
The reception venue was adorned with flowers in light pink and fuchsia gerberas, star-gazer lilies, white spider mums, white asters, light pink and fuchsia spray roses, purple chrysanthemums, leather leaf and rice fern.
Cake (and cake table decor)
The couple opted for an ivory and cream cake with decorative sugar flowers and a light dusting of iridescent glitter on the detail. The cake stood on an etched glass stand and was accented with flowers such as pink and fuchsia gerberas.
The bride wore an Alfred Angelo Piccione Bridal Gown in diamond white. The gown is silk taffeta with a ruched base, metallic embroidery, crystal beadings and a semi-cathedral train. The dress was originally a halter but was altered into a sweetheart neck. It was French bustled for the reception.
Accents included an Alfred Angelo ivory veil, pearl and diamante silver earrings, and a keepsake tri-string pearl wristlet with diamante detail.
The groom wore a black pinstripe suit (locally purchased); his tie was handmade by a family friend, from a David’s Bridal watermelon satin sash.
The bride opted for variegated fuchsia pink roses with leather leaf base, lightly dusted with silver glitter and embellished with silver based crystal drops and crystal string beads, and hand tied with sheer fuchsia ribbon.
The groom wore a variegated fuchsia pink rose and ivory tuberose with leather leaf base wrapped with light pink satin ribbon and embellished with crystal. His groomsmen wore mini spray roses in light pink and fuchsia.
Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
The flower girls wore Alfred Angelo dresses; the ring bearer wore a Lords and Lads suit with ring pillow from A Wedding Showcase and More. Previous Page: (clockwise from left to right): couple with wedding cake; Relate Studios photobooth; photobooth with props; little girl with photobooth props; fuchsia pink roses bridal bouquet; ivory table napkin folded into a simple star with a pink gerbera.
Photography: Juma Bannister, Relate Studios, relatestudios.com
Decor and Flowers: The Flower Garden Limited, (868) 653-1789
Cake: June Peters, (868) 798-0162
Accessories (baskets, ring pillow, unity candle): A Wedding Showcase and More, www.aweddingshowcase.com
Hair: Hair by Giovanni, (868) 657-3666
Make-up: Amy Webster (868) 350-6003