Monday, June 29, 2015

Outdoor Wedding Tips

We went to see a venue at the beginning of our wedding planing, ad I fell in love with it. It was pretty shabby looking from the front, but once you got inside, h my gosh. You were transported to a beautiful resort. You didn't feel like you were in North Carolina; it felt like some post resort in Playa del Carmen.

I fell in love immediately.

Pete and I walked to the beach area where a wedding was already set up and I just started imagining our guests out there with the ocean as our backdrop.

We crossed the street (which I was a little bummed about but figured I would just deal) and were greeted b the outdoor dance floor. It was exactly like all the beautiful Pinterest photos I had seen. I just loved it.

Pete and I crossed the street again) to go back to the tiki bar by the pool and discuss. We loved it ... but had some concerns. See, with an outdoor wedding, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration that you don't when you're planning an indoor wedding. But you don't have to think about them. O've already thought about them for you.

Outdoor Wedding Tips

Outdoor Wedding Tips

Plan for a hot day.
If you're planning a winter wedding, you're probably not going to have the ceremony outdoors. These types of venues are reserved for the other three seasons. And those other seasons can be hot. Really hot. I'm writing this up on a regular summer day, and it's nearly 100 degrees right now. I'm sitting at the pool, so once the heat becomes unbearable, I can jump right in. But your wedding guests won't have that option (although, if I'm being completely honest, two of my bridesmaids jumped in the pool at our wedding. But most wedding guests won't do that).

So for an outdoor wedding, you really have to think about what you'll do on a hot day. For the ceremony, you definitely want to order wedding program fans. If it's hot, your guests will most likely be fanning themselves with anything that's handy, and that will most likely be your program. So plan for them and make your programs with handles.

Also, think about how your guests will stay cool during the reception. Is there an AC unit outdoors? Is there an indoor section of the venue where they can cool off? Is the venue's tent equipped with misters that your guests can walk under? The answer to one of these questions has to be yes. If not, you risk our guests getting heat stroke and needing to go to urgent care -- and no one wants an ambulance showing up to their wedding uninvited.

Plan for a rainy day.
Alanis Morissette was convinced that rain on your wedding day was ironic. But actually, it's just a pain in the neck. If you're planning a beach wedding ceremony ... and it rains, you need a back up plan. Where will you get married if there's a storm? Make sure your venue has a back up plan for a ceremony and reception, in case of bad weather. If the ceremony moves into the reception area, where will your guests go during the breakdown and set up? If the venue doesn't have a back up plan (and some don't), you need to find a different one.

You also have to ask if the venue will cancel your wedding due to bad weather. We went to a venue that had in its contract that any inclement weather or "acts of God," including hurricanes, could void the contract with no refund. So basically, if a tropical storm rolls through, they are calling your wedding off and you don't get your money back. In that case, you need wedding insurance (yes that's a thing), but you also need a back up plan. Your guests are still planning to come, so you have to give them somewhere to be. If the venue can't help you come up Plan B, this is not the venue for you.

Keep your guests extra hydrated.
An open bar is great at a wedding, but if yours is outdoors, there's a good chance your guests will want water too. So make this something special for them. Have the wait staff hand out small water bottles with personalized labels to guests as soon as they enter the reception hall. Say something cute like, "Welcome to our wedding" on them and your guests will love them. At the end of the night, you can have a table with full-size water bottles with a matching label that says, "Thanks for coming." It's a nice way to say "drink some water" without actually shoving it down their throats.

Also, make sure water is an available beverage choice. I know, it sounds obvious, but when you choose your own caterer, you often need to hand select every item on your menu, and that includes beverages. If you don't ask for water, you might not get it.

Fill the venue with "extras" that your guests may have forgotten.
Some of your guests may not actually realize that your ceremony or reception (or both) is entirely outdoors, so they may not plan accordingly. Help them out. Create a sunscreen bar so they don't go home burned. Pick up Ban's Total Refresh cooling wipes (they actually work, believe it or not) and have them near your sunscreen basket. Pick up paper fans (if you don't do the program ones) and have them available.

Stay out of the sun.
You'll be standing for the majority of your wedding ceremony and the last thing you want to do is pass out before the "I Do." But with all the running around you'll be doing pre-wedding, you won't have time to eat or drink, which aids in your lightheaded-ness. Standing in the sun during the ceremony probably isn't a good idea. So don't.

Instead of flowers, hold a really pretty wedding parasol when you walk down the aisle. You can get one in white for you, and your bridesmaids can carry ones that match their dresses. Then, you can hold it open during the ceremony. You'll get more use out of it -- and you'll get a little shade too.

Choose your bridal party's attire appropriately.
With an outdoor venue, you have to worry about your bridal party. If it's an outdoor wedding in summer, don't force your bridesmaids to wear long, heavy gowns. If it's an outdoor wedding in winter, don't ask your girls to wear open toed shoes (because walking through snow with those is not fun).

For the groomsmen, think about just how hot a black tuxedo can get in the sun. Choose a lighter color, like khaki. And maybe do vests instead of a suit jacket. And a lighter shirt will be their friend (because you don't want sweaty pit stains in your photos for the rest of your life).

BRIDAL BABBLE: What other outdoor wedding tips do you have?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Buy An Engagement Ring

Wondering how to buy an engagement ring? Or just curious about what your man went through? Pete is writing a series for us on How To Buy An Engagement Ring. Below is part one of the series.


Not gonna lie, but part of the reason why I dragged my feet about popping the big question to Lisa is because I knew I had to take on the daunting task of finding an engagement ring. At one point I even said, "Can't I just tie a twist tie around your finger and call it a day?" Needless to say that idea went over like a fart in church. At that point I realized that I needed to crap or get off the pot or "quit being a lazy bum and get a ring."

"Crap," I thought. "Where the hell do I even start? I know about as much about diamonds as a 4 year old does about metaphysics."

Anybody that knows me will tell you how I believe engagement rings are a pointless rite of passage, a tradition probably invented by a diamond company back in the day. You know, kind of like how Valentine's Day is a fake holiday invented by carstores? Same concept here, but that's just my opinion -- and most of the time my opinions earn me a fresh slap in the teeth.

Here is a FACT: Regardless of what my opinion is about the engagement ring tradition, I knew I would either get Lisa the ring of her dreams or my sweet Jap-lock (as I call her because she's Japanese and Polish) Princess would run out of patience and find another man to live happily ever after with. And I wasn't about to let the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life get away! Personally, I didn't care what the tradition was, or how ridiculous I thought it was – I would have done anything to earn the honor of having Lisa as my wife ... dang man, still feels surreal to say "wife" ... wow ... feels so good ... can't believe I have a wife ... takes a while to get used to I guess? I don't care if the tradition was that men had to wear neon string bikinis and chase giant wheels of cheese down a hill to gain a woman's affection. You can bet your ass I'd be at the bikini shop looking for the perfect bikini that emphasized my fantastic thighs.

With that being said, here's the process I went through to find my delicious wife a ring. The first step was asking Lisa what kind of design she liked. Man there's tons of 'em! Lisa was a big fan of the "bypass cut," which means that the sides of the ring traverse instead of making a straight line. She also liked if you look at the ring head-on you can see thru it, which is a bezel setting. (Lisa's note: You can check out this link to see images and definitions of settings, shanks, and more. It's a huge help.)

She decided on a design she had come across from a jeweler in Pennsylvania. Bypass rings are cool too because the wedding band snaps snugly against the engagement ring on the "big day." Oooh boy that's so nice, kinda like two souls snapping together to be one. Oooh man that's good! Feel free to use that one fellas. It's on the house. You're welcome.

Now that I had the ring design, all I had to do was have it made. Easy right? Oh hell no. Turns out the specific bypass design Lisa wanted was copyrighted by the jeweler in Pennsylvania and to have it replicated would have cost an insane amount of money. But I had no fear! The bypass design is popular, and the catalogs in the jewelry store I used had a whole bunch of bypass designs, in a wide range of prices -- from very affordable to "you're an idiot who loves to waste money" expensive. Once I picked a design I knew Lisa would like, it was time to move on to the diamond. That part was actually cool. As I learned about what all the codes mean, I realized that I'd be able to get a really nice diamond that was affordable -- there's a lot of wiggle room there because, when buying a diamond you want to think about the "4 C's": carat, cut, color, and clarity. But that's for part two of the series.

BRIDAL BABBLE: What style of engagement ring are you looking at?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wedding Thank You Gift Idea (For Under $5)

I get asked a lot of wedding questions and a lot of them are really unique and specific to a person's wedding (things like "Can you recommend a non-traditional venue in Southern Alabama?" to "Would you mind critiquing our Save The Date cards before I print them?").

As far as general wedding questions, the one I get asked more than anything is: Who do I get thank you gifts for?

My answer: Everyone you can afford to get one for.

As a general rule, you should get them for (in this order): your maid of honor and best man, the rest of your bridal party (including the ring bearer and flower girl), your parents, your ceremony helpers (readers, Eucharistic Assistants, ushers), and your favorite wedding blogger (okay ... kidding about that last part. Just wanted to see who was actually reading).

Thank you gifts, though, they don't have to be expensive, just a token to say you appreciate them. And they don't have to be overly complicated either.


This wedding thank you gift idea is really simple. It took me no more than two minutes to put them together. Plus, they were really inexpensive.


Wedding Thank You Gift Idea

What You'll Need:

What You'll Do:

  • Since I had two colors of chocolates, I mixed them together. It gives you a better look in the mug.
  • Scoop the chocolates into the mug, stick a Starbucks gift card in the chocolate, done. I told you it was easy.

Now, about the Starbucks gift card. Groupon has been putting up a deal lately for a $10 Starbucks gift card for $5. It's sold out for today, but the link does say that it will be back tomorrow. So come back to this post, check out that link, and grab yours.

Personally, I got our gift cards for free because I used Tango cards from Media Insiders (a mobile app that gives you free gift cards for having it on your phone; you can also use a desktop site like Swagbucks to get them free), the chocolate was actually leftovers I had (if you're doing a candy buffet, just grab a bit of the extras), and the mugs were $32.99 for four.

But CafePress has flash discounts basically every day. I purchased these when there was a 40% flash discount, so they were actually only $19.79 for four -- or $4.94 each. So yes, this entire thank you gift, which includes a $5 Starbucks gift card, only cost me $4.94. Can't beat that (well, unless you go to the dollar store and buy dollar store coffee mugs but I love that you can personalize items at CafePress. And these mugs say Wilmington on them, which is where we got married so they're special).

BRIDAL BABBLE: If you made this wedding thank you gift, what would you fill the mugs with?