I love weddings -- in fact, I’ve actually become something of a wedding crasher. In the past three years I’ve attended maybe ten weddings. I was in the bridal party for three of them, two were destination weddings and one was on a boat. But in all of my wedding crashing, the reception of my dear friends Roderick Scott and Madia Hill was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Roderick, a publicist for Warner Bros. Records, and Madia, a powerhouse actress, producer and writer, are two creative forces who have always marched to their own beat. And when they planned their nuptials, it was no different. The adventure-seeking couple, who have been together for eight years, decided to elope to the southeast coast of Mexico. After a local send off with friends and family here in LA, they traveled to the tiny little city of Campeche, Mexico, with only a photographer and a videographer as their wedding guests.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love ~ Photos by Georgie
A World Heritage site, the city of Campeche is rich in color and history. Originally settled by the Mayans, the couple was drawn to Campeche because they wanted to see the lush jungles and the Mayan ruins. Roderick and Madia’s ceremony was officiated by a shaman, who blew a huge sea shell to the four corners of the earth to announce their union (so romantic!). The bride wore a breathtakingly beautiful, handmade gown that sparkled white and bright against the backdrop of the jungle. They wrote their own vows ahead of the ceremony and recited them to each other as the sun set. After a short stay in Campeche the couple honeymooned in Maroma Beach - 30 minutes south of Cancun.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
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A few months after their elopement, Rod and Madia hosted a reception at the art gallery Studio 11 for 300 of their closest friends and family -- myself included. Upon arrival, guests were treated to a glimpse of their wedding adventure with a gallery of photographs from their trip. Loved ones oohed and awed over the captivating images. Moving through the huge, open space, it immediately felt like a reunion of all the couple’s friends. We criss crossed the room giving hugs and taking a peek at the two outdoor gardens, lit only by twinkling lights.
Photo: Georgina Carlos - With Love From Georgie
After a bit of mingling, the reception program began. The bride and groom arrived and a loud cheer went up. MC’ed by an aunt from each side of the family, the program included passionate and heartfelt performances by Smoke Season, Andra Day and Melody Thornton. Smoke Season sang an original song, “Opaque,” Adura Day sang a medley which concluded with “Rise” and Melody Thornton sang the Donny Hathaway classic, “A Song For You.” After the performances we were all primed for the next thing on the program, a special video which captured their romantic trip for all to see. Hauntingly beautiful, the video took us along for this crazy, sexy, cool love affair between two of our favorite people. I'm sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when it was over.
The evening continued with all the jams -- and the obligatory wedding classics -- being played by one of LA’s hottest DJ’s, DJ Ron. Guests were able to take photos in the photo booth, eat their choice of h'orderves or tacos from a quaint little taco cart, and drink from the open bar. Sure it was a party, but there were also some touching moments like when members of the bride and grooms family danced together to “Uptown Funk” (So cute!), or when the bride changed clothes and performed a sexy Samba dance for her new hubby accompanied by her team of backup dancers. I loved the open and inviting space of the venue. I liked how there was so much to see and do as guests we weren’t contained to assigned seats like most weddings.I also loved how Rod and Madia made their love and talent shine through all evening long -- Roderick works with both Audra and Melody and Madia produced their wedding video and choreographed both dances. All and all it was a night those in attendance will ever forget.
After The Hangover films were released, Las Vegas once again became the sought after destination to spend your last big night before entering wedlock. So here a few top tips for all you brides-to-be for planning a trip to the bright lights and casinos of Viva Las Vegas.
The agenda you choose for your bachelorette night will probably be determined by the size of the budget you have for it. If you want to keep costs down, then you can always hit one of the casinos in your hotel for the night. On the other hand, if you want to step out a bit more, you can try your hand a more up-market casino like the Bellagio or Caesars Palace. However, if you're a tech geek, then you have the opportunity to even play games at online casinos in New Zealand. If you want to get out and see the city there are numerous clubs, shows and restaurants to try.
Let’s keep it classy ladies! The matching t-shirts and novelty outfits are funny but not fashionable. Try something new and dress like you are a grown woman on your bachelorette night. A cute dress will do. And if you have to make a scene, add a “I’m The Bride!” button or sash.
While you might be tempted to hit the poker tables, if you have never played before your bachelorette, this is probably not the best place to start. Casino games like the slots will be the best option for those in the group with limited gambling experience (as well as being fast and fun to play). The members of your group who know the ropes a bit more will most likely be attracted to play poker and blackjack.
Have fun and be safe! Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… unless you’re getting married.
Two months ago, my husband I were married in a small ceremony with friends and family on a ranch by the Carson river in Nevada. It was a balmy day filled with love, laughter and mishaps. I got stranded in a strip mall less than an hour before the ceremony (long story), one of the groomsmen forgot to pick up his tux, and the officiant came down with the flu. Despite these things we had a lovely day, because my husband and I (and everyone helping us) were prepared for things to go wrong and so took things in stride when they did.
“Savor the moment.” That’s a great way to remind ourselves to take in every detail of a special moment, trip, or occasion and file it away in our memory for future enjoyment. But what about those details that you want to forget. That you have to forget, so that the story about your trip to Ecuador is “Remember that time we stood at the equator?” instead of “Remember that time we almost froze to death in the Andean Mountains?” It’s choosing, in the moment, to asses the situation, stay positive and plan to salvage the moment. Then you can have an experience that can be savored over and over again. My new husband and I have had enough whacky moments to get good at this. We’ve also learned some great lessons and established patterns for how to make the most of an unexpected trial. Here’s how we do it.
In fact, it was looking back on another near disaster in our recent past as a couple that encouraged us to keep positive on our wedding day. It was December, 2012 in Ecuador and we had had a series of unfortunate events: a harrowing bus ride through the Andean mountains; being left on the side of the road at 3:30 AM in the middle of said mountain range; crazy guide; faulty gear; altitude sickness... and the list goes on. We took lemons (scary mountain trip) and made lemonade (impromptu trip to El Mitad Del Mundo, or “Middle of the World,” in Quito). We decided to remain positive about all the mishaps and even gave them a cutesy name “Mitad Del Mundo,” a motto to remind us to laugh in the face of trials.
While my husband, Mathias, and I were prepared to be positive during our big day, we did not prepare for all that would go wrong with our honeymoon immediately after.
My husband planned a romantic beachside getaway for us in what was advertised as a “charming” and “quaint, historical” inn. After an eight hour drive (twice as long as we’d planned for thanks to faulty navigation system) we arrive to a quirky, small, old inn miles away from the shoreline of Daytona Beach Florida. Since it was the middle of the night, we ignored the fact that it didn’t look like the post card. The friendly staff escorted us to our room and I immediately went into my habit of inspecting our room for cleanliness and proper accommodations. To my horror, I found broken glass behind the curtains, dirty towels hung in the bathroom, filthy dishes under the bed and a bottle of lube spilling out of the night stand... This was definitely the honeymoon suite, and someone had a good time in it. When we informed the staff that our suite looked like a scene out of The Hangover, we were kindly escorted to a larger suite with an ocean view. The ocean view room came with friends: cockroaches, mosquitoes and termites (oh, my!). It was too late to go anywhere else, so we built a fortress on the bed and stood watch against creepy intruders until dawn.
Next, we assessed our losses. Romantic mood: dampened. One night’s pay at crappy inn: lost. Time: one day of our special getaway gone. We were outraged by our experience until we reminded ourselves that we’ve had worse vacation moments and started planning to make our honeymoon a trip worth remembering. In the end, we still had each other and that meant things weren’t as bad as they seemed.
During our honeymoon experience, we kept positive and realized the situation could be salvaged. We didn’t want to spend the rest of our vacation at the infested inn, so we worked on plan B: Disneyworld! Until we realized that did not work for our budget or timeline… on to plan C! We quickly mapped a route to the nearest beach, Daytona, and planned to just enjoy the time with each other instead of trying to make the trip perfect. The result was, for us, near perfect. We spent one day sleeping in, eating pancakes and being beach bums. We learned to paddle board with a Hawaiian native who showed us how to go with the flow of the waves; and we enjoyed the local nature and vegan food scene. Finally, we laughed at how everything that could go wrong with our plans did. We had fun anyway.
As we age and start a family there are likely to be dozens of stories that start with “remember that time when...” We knew that this would be a story that we’d look back on and laugh at, but what turned our dud into delight was our determination to laugh now. Who cares that our bridal party wore mismatched outfits. Everyone was beautiful and I think that’s a trend now. Sure, it looked like the set of the Hangover in our honeymoon suite, but so what! At least somebody had a good time in that termite infested chateau that shall remain nameless. We managed to salvage the memories of our first landmark moments as a married couple: time spent with dearest love ones, priceless. Here’s hoping that there are many more to come.
There are less than three months until my wedding and I just found my dress and I still have not sent out save the dates, or wedding invitations. Like many brides, I have become overwhelmed in the swirl of dress shopping, fine tuning the guest list, selecting a caterer and finding a D.J. (This is a truncated list, of course.) When I feel inadequate to make decisions on flowers, color schemes and cake decorations, I find confidence in knowing that I’m at least taking the right steps to ensure that Mathias (my fiancé) and I will still have a healthy relationship after the wedding.
So, while I envy the women who seem to be the perfect wedding planners, I’ve tasked myself with being a diligent marriage planner. I won’t attempt to offer expert relationship advice, or claim to know the keys to having a perfect anything, let alone a perfect marriage. However, I do know that being successful at anything requires a plan. Here are the tactics I’m using to make sure that Mathias and I get a healthy start to our marriage.
When Mathias and I got engaged our first priority was mapping out our lives together. Questions like, which city will we settle down in? How many children will we have? Should I go to graduate school? All came up as we focused on planning our future. A good place to start with this planning process is goal setting. Everything starts to come together when you ask yourself what you really want and work toward that. For example, if what you really want is to be a stay at home mom in five years, then that might impact your decision to pay for graduate school right now.
The time to start planning your financial future with your partner is now. Both parties need to lay out what they bring to the table in terms of assets and debt. Just like life planning, it’s important to set goals. Are you the couple who wants to go on a big vacation every year, or is your biggest priority saving for a down payment on a house? Is eliminating student loan debt or investing one of your goals? Determine where you want to be financially and it will become easier to create a plan on how to get there together.
I like to think of pre-marital counseling as preventative maintenance for your relationship. You can pinpoint trouble areas that currently exist, develop a strategy for dealing with future pitfalls and cultivate deeper intimacy with your partner. There are several options for counseling, so explore what works for you. It could be seeking advice from an older couple who you respect, group sessions with a religious guidance counselor, or private sessions with a professional counselor. Mathias and I are currently taking six sessions with a professional counselor who is helping us prepare for the three issues that cause the most conflict in marriage: sex, money and in-laws.
Learning how to fight fair, financial planning and deciding whose family to spend Christmas with may not seem romantic. However, these things are essential to having a healthy relationship. The details of wedding planning are important and I'll get the invitations out, hire the caterer and try to remember to smile and breathe through the ceremony. More important than the wedding is what will happen after we say “I do,” cut the cake and ride off into the sunset. I’m looking forward to enjoying the rest of my life committed to Mathias and happy to know that we’ve got a plan.
How couples ever planned their wedding before the internet is a mystery to me. When I was planning for my wedding I spent hours looking through websites to find ideas. I think I Googled wedding planning 1,000 times in 6 months! These websites not only serve as inspiration, but also as a comfort that TONS of other couples are in the same boat as you: planning the most important day of their lives. Here is a list of the websites that made planning my wedding day that much easier.
If you are looking for pictures of beautiful, real weddings, this website is a must see! Brides submit their wedding pictures for a chance to be featured on the site, and I must say they pick some STUNNING ones to share. I was on this site everyday looking for color schemes and décor inspiration, along with eyeing all the wedding dresses. A bonus for this site is that after you wind down from your big day you can submit your pictures for the chance to be a featured wedding for other brides to oogle at!
This site is one of the most popular wedding pages out there, and if I didn’t love all the other websites so much then I would say this is your one stop shop. It’s filled with vendor information, registry help, planning suggestions, decor and fashion ideas along with tips on planning your honeymoon. My Husband and I even made our wedding website through The Knot and loved it! What’s also great is that after you’re married they have sister websites “The Nest” and “ The Bump” to help you with creating a home and preparing for a new baby.
These sites are very similar to each other and also to The Knot, but are totally awesome and worth checking out. They each have categories consisting of vendors, planning tools, wedding dresses, registries, beauty, honeymoon, etc. I personally don’t think you can ever have too many of these informative sites at your fingertips.
Pinterest isn’t particularly a wedding website, but with all of the boards and wedding pins it might as well be. I can’t tell you how many nights I spent scouring wedding boards and DIY ideas. (Well, I could but that information might be embarrassing ...) What’s also really great about this site is that you can make your own wedding boards to save, or “pin,” the things you love from other sites in one place. Even if you never browse through other people’s pins, you need this site just to save yours.
Finally, a site for the Grooms! This is a great site for the man in your life to go to for inspiration of his own. It can get overwhelming for them to continuously look at pink taffeta gowns and peony arrangements (ask my husband!). As much as they want to be involved, sometimes they need a space to go for ideas on their wardrobe that isn’t surrounded by a page full of ruffles. AND maybe a little advice on how to deal with Bridezilla…
These site are good places to start on your journey to the big day. Plus, you can check out the weddings section here on Made Woman Mag. Good luck and congrats!
When it comes to giving wedding gifts the best advice I can give is to stick with the couple's registry. As a new bride myself I know that a lot of time and thought goes into creating them and most of the time they include things that are needed to build the couple’s home together. You definitely don’t want to be that guest who gives a Salami of the month club membership to a vegetarian couple (trust me it happens … my friend got this for her wedding and she hadn’t eaten meat for 10 years!) However, if you are feeling super creative, there are also some gifts that couples probably won’t think of or won’t want to register for which are really great. They may seem too frivolous or bizarre for an actual registry but trust me these are things a bride and groom will be oh, so happy to receive.
A couple friends of ours gave us a set of pajamas. The top had Mrs. Hawkins embroidered and the bottom had Mr. Hawkins. We never would have thought of it and it’s something that we found very special. I mean what other occasion will we have to get something like this?
Nothing says romance like a picnic for two. Not many people think to get this for themselves and it’s so nice for a trip to the beach or a nice wine and cheese date in the park. Give the newlyweds an excuse to go on a sweet date together!
Are you a photographer? Do you know a great band or DJ? Do you make something that would be a great wedding favor? Are you a baker and can create an amazing cake? Weddings are EXPENSIVE. I know from experience that the budget you start out with can double very quickly. This is why offering to pay for the music or making the favors can be one of the best gifts. You could be saving the bride and groom what could be thousands of dollars and a boatload of stress. Just keep in mind that brides sometimes have a specific vision for their big day so if they would rather your mariachi band not play at the ceremony don't take it personally.
This is one of my favorite ideas! Couples are so excited to get married and start their lives as husband and wife. What better way to make them feel like a family than to give something they can see everyday when they get home. Taking my husband’s name was such an honor to me so I know that seeing a monogrammed “H” or even "The Hawkins Family" on our doorstep would be so cool.
These things are typically reserved for family members to give or sometimes they are passed down from generation to generation so make sure to check before purchasing. BUT they are also things that shouldn't be forgotten. I firmly believe the bride and groom should be toasting with a special glass at their reception and it’s always nice to give a gift that whenever looked at will bring the couple back to their special day.
Don't underestimate the importance of a gift certificate. I know this may sound impersonal or thoughtless to some people but I couldn't disagree more. I have never met a bride and groom who got everything they needed off their registry OR didn't come up with something they need after the fact. My husband and I moved in together after we got married so we continuously are finding things that we didn't realize we needed. Gift certificates have been very helpful. It’s also like getting gifts for months after the wedding!
Are you recently married or planning to attend a wedding this summer? What are some other great wedding gift ideas? Tell us in the comments below. Need more ideas? Read this.
One of the biggest compliments a woman can ever receive is being asked to be someone’s maid of honor. It means that you are the one they trust to make sure their wedding day is the happiest day of their lives. It means that (minus the groom of course!) you are the one they want standing beside them during all of the festivities. It also may mean that you will need to roll up your sleeves and help out your best friend for the next few months. I recently had the pleasure of being my sister’s maid of honor and a couple months later she was mine. Here are some of the things we feel makes a “MOH” truly exceptional.
Weddings don’t magically come together. It takes a lot of time, money and DIY projects to get everything how the bride envisions it. As a maid of honor you should be the one offering to help to get things done. Trust me, helping out with the 500 paper cranes needed for wedding favors will take a load off of a busy bride and make her feel like she doesn’t have to do everything alone.
Bridesmaids dresses can be good, bad or just plain ugly. I have never met a bridesmaid who absolutely loved her dress. I have heard numerous stories about people throwing fits because they hated the color or fit. It’s fine to voice your opinion but it’s really not up to anyone besides the bride and groom what the bridal party wears. As maid of honor its your job to encourage an accepting attitude among the rest of the wedding party. When it’s your turn you can make everyone wear lime green taffeta. It’s only right.
Bachelorette parties don’t have to equate to a Vegas trips. You are the one who knows the bride the best so you should know how this party should be thrown. If the bride is more conservative, a stripper and jello shots probably won’t be her idea of fun. It’s up to you to plan a night that’s all about her and get everyone involved. Ask for a list of her friends and their contact info and plan something special!
In a perfect wedding the bride should never know if something is going wrong. This means no vendor should talk to the bride or groom on their wedding day. If questions need to be asked or checks handed out it’s up to you to take care of it. Make sure all the vendors have your phone number so they can call you with any problems. It’s also helpful for a MOH to call these people a week before the wedding to confirm all plans. It may be a lot of work but your best friend/blushing bride will thank you.
A bride looks forward to hearing the toasts at her wedding. It’s a time for her to hear the people she loves wish her well as she starts her new life and family. Please don’t get on the mic and bring up embarrassing stories. Make it something for her to remember. Something that shows thought and adds personal touches is a given tearjerker. She will always remember what you said and how you made her feel, make sure you put in the effort!
Fortunately for Made Women, marriage today is a joyful choice we make instead of a societal tradition that is expected of us. With this choice comes the question, “How will I know if I’m ready to get married?” Only you will truly know if you are ready, but here are a few signs that may help you understand whether or not to-have-and-to-hold is the right step for you.
(Much credit to my supportive husband who brainstormed with me about how we knew we were ready to get married!)
1. You know what works for you and what doesn’t. The dating journey is the time to learn what you desire in relationships; what makes you swoon and what makes you crazy. When you realize what your deal breakers are and what you cannot live without, you’ve taken a huge step toward knowing what you want in a lifetime partner.
2. You’re ready to share your experiences. At this point in life, you’ve likely written a bucket list or two. When you begin to think those experiences would be even more special if you had someone to share them with, you may be ready for that “forever” step. Whether it’s a new puppy, a European adventure or taking on a new hobby, matrimony may be the right choice if you’re longing to share life with someone else.
3. You’ve lived your young, free and single years to their fullest. Have you had enough wild girls’ nights out, dancing till dawn and shamelessly flirting to get you free drinks at the bar? Have you been truly single and satisfied and pursued your greatest ambitions? If so, you can move toward wedded bliss knowing you lived it up during your single life.
4. You stand on your own two feet. You are confident in your own success and you’re comfortable doing things on your own. Maybe you moved cross country or traveled the world or lived by yourself, and you know that you don’t need a man. When you do find someone who complements that strong sense of self and supports your ambition, he’s likely the right type of guy for the long run.
5. You stop expecting perfection. We all need standards, and we should not settle for anything less. But to make it down the aisle successfully, it’s important to understand that everyone has their own history, experiences and flaws. If you are ready to love someone, flaws and all, you may be ready to say “I do.”
6. Doubt doesn’t creep in. Instead of analyzing every conversation, you are completely secure with where your relationship stands. There aren’t any “what are we?” questions. Though the phrase has been said a million times, it’s true: When you’re with the right person, you’ll know.
7. You don’t try to justify your relationship. We’ve all had those relationships that other people just couldn’t understand … or so we thought. The type that usually makes you defensive when those close to you express their concern. When you’re in a healthy relationship, your family and friends will most likely be the first to see that it brings out the best in you, and they will be nothing but happy for you.
There is a lot more to being ready for marriage than these tips, but these are some of the ways I knew that I was ready to marry my husband.
When do you think a Made Woman is ready for wedding bells? Share your signs and tips in the comments section!
When we think of honeymoons, we imagine ourselves reclined on a sunny beach and fully submerged in a state of pure bliss. The pictures we paint for ourselves are so naturally calming that we easily forget the effort that goes into creating such an unforgettable experience. Yes, it would be lovely if the perfect honeymoon came gift wrapped with a pretty bow and a bottle of champagne. But unless you have a personal assistant and thousands to spare, you should prepare for your upcoming honeymoon with certain practicalities in mind so your journey through paradise goes off without a hitch.
1. You might have always dreamed of spending your honeymoon on a yacht in Ibiza, but it is important to be realistic about your budget when choosing a location. Not only is this fiscally responsible, but it will ultimately spare you unnecessary stress. The wedding undoubtedly set you back thousands of dollars and your honeymoon is the time to unwind from the months of planning and spending, not to be guiltily fretting about the ever-mounting expense of the vacation. Ways to save money include choosing a destination that is closer to home or lesser known, or traveling during the “shoulder season”, which is right before or right after peak season. You can still have fun with your new spouse while also saving a penny or two, leaving you more relaxed and able to enjoy your new lives together when you get back home.
2. Understandably, you are going to be very eager about the honeymoon; not only are you having a romantic getaway with the love of your life, but you’re probably going to a locale you’ve never been to before. Go, see, conquer, right? While this excitement and a sense of adventure is a positive thing, it’s crucial that you don’t become overzealous when planning the itinerary. What do I mean by this? The first day of your honeymoon should not start with the two of you waking at the crack of dawn to rush to a tour bus, followed by a rushed breakfast and then racing from one museum to the next. A honeymoon is the ultimate opportunity to live in the moment and truly enjoy your partner, so plan for a leisurely pace. While it’s a good idea to anticipate a few highlights you’ll want to experience during your trip, plan on having plenty of late brunches and relaxed, site-seeing strolls with your new spouse.
3. Make sure that all loose ends are addressed prior to boarding your plane. The last thing you want to do is waste precious vacation time dealing with a forgotten prescription or an unresolved work situation. Try making a checklist of things that need to be taken care of before you leave and knocking them out one at a time. You should also pack responsibly and plan for worse-case scenarios. One good idea is to carry your money and forms of ID in two different bags in case one is lost or stolen. Be prepared for all types of weather, as nothing can quite ruin a romantic evening like violently shivering in the rain.
4. When planning things to do during your honeymoon, take the wants and needs of both people into account. If an afternoon of zip lining might sound fantastic to you but your hubby is afraid of heights, skip the entire affair. While marriage is about compromise, your honeymoon shouldn’t be; he might be willing to begrudgingly concede to your preferences, but this is a potential setup for resentments and bickering. Instead, find activities that interest both of you and, if you have a hard time pinpointing such opportunities, perhaps reconsider your selected location. Activities will be more fun together anyway.
5. Be flexible and have a sense of humor. If your romantic beach side getaway is seemingly “ruined” by unusual amounts of rain, laugh it off and find fun, indoor alternatives. If the two of you get hopelessly lost on the way to a concert and miss the entire event, open your eyes to the beauty in what is immediately around you rather than focusing on what you missed. If you’re spending your time complaining about the concert, you might miss out on the cute boutique on the corner or the fun bar two blocks away. With your new husband by your side, I’m sure there will be a silver lining to every bout of bad luck.
First comes love, then comes marriage. But between those comes the day most women dream about their whole lives: the wedding day.
Even if you have yet to find Mr. Right, chances are you've spent more than one boring lecture or slow day at the office daydreaming about the designer gown you'll walk down the aisle in, or the beachfront property where you'll say your vows. A wedding is not only the celebration of a lifetime, but for many it's also the biggest party they'll ever throw. So beyond the fantasy of those (hopefully) once in a lifetime nuptials, there's also the reality that a wedding takes a significant amount of planning and preparation.
On average, this glorious one-day affair requires 1,600 hours worth of prep time and comes with a median price tag of almost $30,000. Sound overwhelming? Well, it doesn't have to be. By keeping some simple tips in mind, the planning process can be just as enjoyable as the big day that it leads up to.
Try to start the planning process at least 9 months in advance of the wedding date. This will give you plenty of time to think through what you want your big day to look and feel like, while giving you ample opportunity to research venues and vendors that can help execute your vision.
Establish a realistic budget
The budget is the very first thing you should think about when you start the wedding planning process. It affects EVERYTHING, from how many guests you can invite to the type of venue you should select. So once you have the ring, before you do anything else, sit down with your fiancé, parents and anyone else that may be contributing and establish a realistic budget. Once you know how much you have to spend, plan accordingly.
The phrase "you can have it all," doesn't apply when it comes to planning a wedding, unless you're on Platinum Weddings. Take the time to think about the elements of your celebration that matter most to you and your groom. For example, if you want to include a certain number of family and friends in your special day, you may have to cut back in other places like food selection. But just think, when all is said and done, having your college dorm mates there will be a lot more memorable than whether you were able to serve beef instead of chicken.
With so many moving parts, it's vital that you set up a system to help keep you organized. You'll accumulate a lot of important paperwork and contracts during the planning process, so purchase a three-ring binder with tabs and sheet protectors to store key documents. Create an electronic folder in your email account to keep track of all important wedding correspondence. Keep a monthly checklist of items that need to be accomplished and enter important dates, like dress fittings and tastings, into your planner.
Rally the troops
While we pride ourselves on being super women, a true Made Woman knows when to delegate as well. Don't attempt to do everything on your own. Enlist a team to help you carry out the many tasks required to pull off a successful event. Mothers, friends and bridesmaids are typically eager to lend a helping hand and are especially valuable on DIY projects like assembling programs. If you have the money, hire a good wedding planner. Enlisting the help of a professional during the early stages of the planning process can really save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run.
Keep your eye on the prize
At the end of the day, remember that the wedding is truly about celebrating the love and commitment between you and your groom. Don't spend so much energy planning the wedding that you forget to nurture your relationship. Over the months of planning, regularly and intentionally carve out time and schedule activities that are wedding-free. Ultimately, a wedding is nice, but a healthy and happy marriage after all the guests are gone should be the true focus leading up to the big day.