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Celebrate Intimate Weddings


with Relationship Speaker/Author/Coach...
Larry James

Miscellaneous Tips
For Your Wedding, Honeymoon and More

Larry James

Updated February 12, 2020

1.  Don't plan to leave on your honeymoon immediately. The wedding and reception may cause extreme exhaustion. It's a big day. The honeymoon is very special so give yourself a couple of days (or more) to rest. Open gifts, write "thank you" notes, sleep late, rest and just be together. When you are fully rested, go for it! Don't worry about not being able to take a big fancy honeymoon. You have the rest of your lives to make money and take big, wonderful, fabulous vacations. But you only get "one" wedding. Do it well and be happy. See tip #84.

Do not make your honeymoon reservations in your married name especially if you are leaving within a few days of the wedding. It often takes 4 to 6 weeks or more to receive your "Certified" copies. Click here for more info about obtaining your Marriage License in Arizona. To search for books about "honeymoons," click here.

2.  The three best tips for a successful wedding is to plan, plan and plan! A lack of planning will guarantee a dismal failure. Put it in writing so you will not forget any minor details. Also don't be overly concerned about the cost of everything. Stay within your budget. The success of your wedding does not depend on the amount of money you spend.

3.  Make it easy on your long-distance guests. Make deals with local hotels or motels. Ask for a special group rate and be sure to communicate it to your relatives and friends. Also see tip #46.

4.  To ensure that you do not blubber uncontrollably at the moment you are under pressure to face each other and perform, keep the ceremony short and sweet. Even though you may have remained cool during rehearsal, experiencing the real thing is different. You may be a combination of nervous, anxious, uncertain, afraid, concerned, terrified, restless, uneasy, edgy, fidgety, queasy, tense, uncomfortable, uptight, worried, shaky, skittish, jittery and excited. One or two songs is enough. No extended speeches, poems or singing songs to one another. Short and sweet is best.

5.  Remember, this is "your" wedding, not your mother's or your future mother-in-law's wedding. Use tact. . . plenty of it. If you must, give in a little - on both sides of the family - however if it's something that you absolutely do not want to be a part of the wedding, take a time-out to think about how you can tactfully say no. Possibly the only exception might be if there are differences in religion, background or culture. Celebrate each side's uniqueness and emphasize the things they have in common.

6.  Generally speaking, we do not recommend bachelor or bachelorette parties. Many feel that such a party gives them license to have one last fling or do things they know their future spouse would never approve of. As a relationship coach, I've heard numerous horror stories of such parties that have gotten what could have been a terrific marriage off to a horrible start. If you must, please remember that soon you will be wed. Agree not to do anything that you would not feel comfortable in telling your partner. It's called, "r-e-s-p-e-c-t!" No alcohol is best.

7.  How can you request that parents leave their children at home? When an invitation does not include "and family" or specify children by name, guests should never assume it is all right to bring their children to the wedding. Since many guests are unaware of this, you may choose to have printed on your invitations a line that states: "Adult Reception." It is improper to print "no children" or "adults only" on the invitation. Also see tip #66.

8.  To honor a loved one who has died, place a lit candle or a single flower in a vase on the alter to represent the presence of the deceased. A moment of silence or a special prayer during the ceremony are other ways to reflect on the loved one. In your ceremony program, mention the person or people by name. Also honor the living. Read: Honor Your Mother.

9.  It is rare to find anyone giving less than a $100 gratuity to the minister/officiant, and it could be more depending on the minister/officiant. Be sure to discuss the fee "before" the wedding. The donation should be given to the best man prior to the ceremony who will then give it to the minister/officiant after the ceremony.

10.  It is considered inappropriate to include in your invitations where you are registered. No guest should ever receive an announcement about your wedding registry: not with your invitations, via e-mail, or from a store. If the store offers to send a note, decline the offer. Instead, pass the word through family and friends. It's okay to tell someone if they ask you or to let those who may host a bridal shower for you so they can tell those who attend.

Guests often feel at a loss when choosing wedding gifts, and would prefer to purchase something you picked out yourself. Request a gift card to a nice restaurant for the bride and groom.

Many couples who do not wish to receive gifts, which is often the case with a second-time bride or groom, will provide the name of a charity organization to which wedding guests can contribute in lieu of buying a wedding gift for the couple.

11.  Consider including children from a previous marriage in your bridal party as bridesmaids, attendants, junior attendants, ushers, flower girl or ring bearer. Children may also like to do a reading during the ceremony, or even escort the bride (their mother) down the aisle. However, remember that often small children (under the age of five) become distracted easily and notoriously have small attention spans during the boredom of dry clerical recitations. Larry James has a very special "Blended Family Ceremony for Step-Children," a ceremony that includes the stepchildren in the ceremony in a very loving way. Another idea is to use the Blending of the Sand Ceremony (See Ceremony #2) and include the children.

12.  To avoid feeling overwhelmed, send out thank you notes as you receive gifts before your wedding. This is especially important for givers who send their gifts in the mail or by other shipping methods. A thank you note assures the person that their gift reached you. For gifts received during or after your wedding day, thank you notes should be sent out within one to two months. Since the task may seem daunting, try to set aside 15 or 30 minutes everyday to work on them until you're finished.

13.  It's tradition to raise your glass and toast the newlyweds at the reception. Don't leave your non-drinkers high and dry. There are a variety of sparkling beverages that make splendid champagne alternatives such as sparkling ciders and juices. Offer a selection of fruit nectars and juices, sparkling cider, punch, sodas or cappuccinos. Toasting with a class of water, tea or coffee doesn't work.

Try one of these tantalizing cocktails: Ginger Cider Fuzz (a mix of cider, apricot nectar, club soda and ginger) or Sparkling Apple-Grape Punch (a mix of sparkling apple-grape, nectar and chunks of fresh fruit). See #45 for more non-alcoholic drink suggestions.

IMPORTANT:  During a toast to the Bride and Groom, the couple should NEVER stand, raise their glasses, and drink to themselves. They should thank the toasters or at least smile and graciously nod. They are not obliged to propose a toast in return.

14.  Have real, live butterflies or white doves released around you as you step out of the church, creating a true fairy tale effect. Your guests will never forget it! Neither will you. Check your local yellow pages for companies offering this service in your area.

15.  Create a very special CD with all the songs that are special to you and your partner or that are played at the reception and present it your guests. Purchase vinyl CD sleeves and make your own covers. Include pictures of you and your partner with your names and date and place of the wedding. On the inside, include a list of the songs and on the back write a brief "thank you" note or poem. Cost: approx. $1.50 each if you make them yourself.

16.  Instead, of a traditional guest book at your wedding, consider enlarging an engagement photo and setting it in a wide matte. There should be pens close by, so your guests can sign around the picture on the matte. Once framed you will be able to frame it and see it forever! Another idea would be to have someone designated to take a Poloraid picture of each guest as they enter. Have them sign the back of the picture with their name and address, then place them in a photo album.

17.  Sitting at a table near people you don't know, waiting for the reception to officially begin, the food to be served, etc., can be awkward. Give your guests something to look at. Designate a computer-savvy friend to create a "Romantic Pictorial" for a presentation on a large screen during the reception. Use baby pictures, pictures when you met, fun times together, funny pictures, goofy pictures and if your friend can take some pictures during the wedding with a digital camera, use pictures of the wedding. You might consider including wedding pictures of both of the parents. Ask him to add some text to the pictures for the benefit of those who do not know the parents.

18.  After the newlyweds have had their first dance at the reception, have the DJ play some appropriate music while the bride and groom head a conga line in which they go around the room and "pick up" all of their guests. The "hokie-pokie" might work too. This is a great way to break the ice and get everyone onto the dance floor!

19.  If you are sentimental about your bouquet, consider having a second throw-away bouquet made for tossing. You can then get your bouquet preserved after the wedding and keep it forever.

20.  When ordering services for your wedding and reception, make sure you get all the details "in writing!" No matter how small the detail, make sure it is in your contract. There is nothing worse then expecting something to be a certain way and finding out at the last minute that you have to pay extra for it or that it is unavailable on your special day. It's just good business.

21.  On a super-tight budget? If you require a tent for an outdoor wedding, ask a local car dealership to rent one of their tents instead of paying lots of money from someone that specializes in tent rental. They will often donate it for the day if you agreed to mention the dealership in your programs.

22.  Be prepared for a "quick fix." Bring needles, mini scissors & thread in the color of your dress and your bridesmaid's dresses. Also bring extra lipstick, pins, safety pins, sewing kits, dental floss, chap stick, clear nail polish, Band-Aids, Advil, Kleenex, hair spray, smelling salt, comb & brush, deodorant, perfume, Visine, barrettes & bobby pins, bottled water, crazy glue, toothpicks and anything else you think you might need. A drinking straw for the bride will keep her from messing up her lipstick and chalk to mark out any flaws on her wedding gown are nice extras. Also remember to bring an extra copy of contacts and phone numbers of all wedding day vendors. Check out our "Beauty Bag" checklist.

23.  Planning on leaving the country for a very special wedding. How about your family and friends? When you return, plan a second ceremony so they can experience your wedding vows.

24.  To keep the little people busy during the reception, have crayons, coloring books, books, paper, and a few toys available. Also see tip #66.

25.  If the idea of assigning numbered tables at the reception seems impersonal, give the tables names relating to love. Arrange in alphabetical order to assure that there is still a navigable organization so the guests can find their seats. Here are a few words of love to consider: Happiness, Serenity, Bliss, Joyful, Amour, Adoration, Tranquility, Harmony, Delight, Heavenly, Enchantment, Cherish, Lovely, Memories, Inspiration, Romance, Forever, Eternity, Unity, Pleasure, Charm, Believe, Dreams, Fortune, Passion, Genuine, Priceless, and Desire. A thesaurus comes in handy when trying to elaborate on your list!

26.  Holding your wedding on a day other than a Friday or Saturday can often save you money. Some halls, caterers, and other wedding service providers will often give you a discount if you hold your wedding on an "off-day". Ask them about discounts for "off-day" weddings. If they don't currently have such a policy, try to negotiate one with them. Also having your wedding during the less popular months of June through September - the so called Arizona "off season" - can often save you money too. If your wedding will be in Arizona, March through May and October through December are the busiest wedding months. So call to book early.

27.  Hey, gals! Make sure that you have a practice hair session a month before the ceremony, and the final cut no less than two weeks before the wedding. Remember to bring your wedding veil so you will have a true idea of the final effect. Never make big changes such as getting a perm, coloring your hair, etc., right before your wedding.

28.  Getting married in Arizona or outdoors (under the sun)? Given the right weather conditions and location, an outdoor wedding can be as romantic as it is beautiful. Remember to apply the sunscreen before you put on your makeup (for the rehearsal and the wedding). Make sure you have accommodations available, such as a tent or indoor facility, for possible inclement weather. The Greater Phoenix area has more than 325 days of annual sunshine. Arizona winters often require heating for an evening wedding and cooling is a must if your wedding day falls in the heat of summer (June, July & August).

29.  Get a professional manicure the day before the wedding if you're going to have any close-up photos of your hands. If you're not using colored nail polish or are allergic to it, have a manicure without polish - your cuticles will look nice and neat, and the manicurist can buff your nails so they look shiny and healthy. Now would be the perfect time to stop biting your nails and to start using a nail strengthener to insure your hands look beautiful for your special day.

30.  If you're having black and white photographs taken, you may need to change your makeup - the soft colors usually worn by brides don't show up well in black and white pictures, and often photographers suggest wearing more intense neutrals and darker lipsticks.

31.  Don't have a big wedding dress budget? Consider renting a dress from stores that also carry rental tuxedos, etc. Don't like the idea of renting a gown? Find another white formal dress that will look just as pretty for a lot less money. White prom dresses, white bridesmaids' dresses, and other white formals can start at just $100 and come in beautiful, affordable styles.

32.  Often churches and other popular ceremony locations are booked far in advance, especially during busy wedding months. In a bind? Have your ceremony in an unusual place like an art museum, arboretum, public park or movie theater. Be creative!

33.  Here's a novel idea! Let's see how brave you both are. Instead of having the minister face the audience, have him stand with his back to the audience so your friends and family can see "your" faces. This way the audience can truly experience the entire wedding ceremony.

34.  Having a reception in a place other than where the wedding is taking place? Remember to put a map in the invitations. It's also a good idea to put a map to the reception in the ceremony program (if everyone is invited to the reception). Ask the post office for a selection of romantic stamps from which to choose. Spritz your invitations with your favorite fragrance.

Be sure to mail invitations six to eight weeks before the big day; be sure to include a deadline (of two to three weeks before the wedding) on your reply cards! If you haven't received all of your RSVPs by 15 days before the wedding, designate a family member of friend to telephone those who have not responded.

Don't send your invitations out on a rainy day, especially if you plan to use a public mailbox. All that dampness may damage the paper and cause the ink to blur.

35.  Whether you're ceremony is in a church, synagogue, or outdoors, "traditionally" friends and family of the bride sit on the left side of the aisle and friends and family of the groom sit on the right side. However... see Tip 96 for a new idea!!

36.  Parents divorced? Where to seat them an issue? Try this: If they get along well, both of them can sit in the front row during the ceremony, with any new partners in the row behind them. If your parents don't get along well, then the mother (and her significant other) might sit in the front row with the mother's immediate family in the row behind; the father (and his significant other) would sit in the third row, with their family in the fourth row (all of this holds true even if your dad paid for the wedding).

If your mother and your father's new wife absolutely do not get along at all, it is permissible to sit your stepmother outside the reserved section. The only exception to this whole arrangement might be if you have a much closer relationship with your father than your mother; then your dad would sit in the front row with his family in the second row, your mother in the third and her family in the fourth. Wheeew!

37.  If you intend to have ushers seat guests at your wedding, the general rule-of-thumb is one usher for every fifty guests. If you're inviting 100 people, you will have two ushers; for 200 people you will need four, etc. An usher's responsibilities include seating guests, rolling out the aisle runner, and generally helping guests ("Where are the restrooms?").

38.  Test your wedding day shoes! If you think you will have an opportunity to sit down during your wedding day. . . forget it! Most likely you will be on your feet throughout the day and into the night. Be sure to break in any new shoes you plan to wear long before the wedding.

39.  Keeping a journal as you move closer to your wedding day is a terrific way to express yourself, rant and rave. It will also be a wonderful keepsake for your children or other family and friends.

40.  Before you leave on your honeymoon, be sure to have your passport (if needed), driver's license and necessary paperwork with you as you travel. If you are changing your name, make sure that you have the appropriate documents. Also remember to take a copy of your marriage certificate or license with you.

41.  Feeling faint at the ceremony? Remember to slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other. Never stand perfectly still. Do not lock your knees. Be sure to have a very light snack before you head down the aisle.

42.  Create a wedding day time capsule. Instead of (or in addition to) a guest book, place a blank note card in each invitation with instructions asking each guest to write down some thoughts about the bride and groom and bring the card to the wedding. On your wedding day have them place their note card in a beautiful box to be opened on your first anniversary. You can both read the notes then and reminisce about your wedding day.

43.  Brides and browsers do go together. Create your own Wedding Website, then pass the word to the wedding party and your friends. Some Websites offer this as a free service or you may want to hire a professional designer. Provide basic wedding details - your names, time, date, location of the ceremony and reception, hotel info for out-of-town guests - and anything else you care to share. Some couples add pictures after the ceremony.

44.  Your wedding rehearsal is really only for the people who are in your wedding and the bride and groom's parents. During your wedding rehearsal, your Officiant (or your wedding planner) will guide you through the ceremony and explain everyone's roles.

Once you've taken care of business, it's time to celebrate! Get your wedding party together, along with any other special guests and head off to your rehearsal party - your time to unwind before the big day. The rehearsal dinner should be more intimate than the reception. It is a celebration usually reserved for the couple's closest friends, relations and the minister/officiant.

You are encouraged to plan the wedding rehearsal and dinner for two days before the wedding (instead of the day before the wedding) to give you time to work out all the details and time for all to recover from the rehearsal dinner.

NOTE:  Consider scheduling a Wednesday rehearsal for a Friday Wedding and a Thursday rehearsal for a Saturday wedding. This idea separates two stressful days and give you a day before the wedding to get last-minute things done. Larry James does not schedule rehearsals on Fridays any later than 1:00 p.m. Friday evenings are reserved for weddings only. Larry's attendance at a Friday rehearsal for a Saturday wedding is subject to whether he has a Friday wedding scheduled. Most rehearsals should not take longer than 30 minutes (provided everyone arrives on time). (See tip #78)

If some of the Bridal party will not arrive in time for a rehearsal scheduled two days prior to the wedding, not to worry. Usually Larry James or the bridal consultant at the wedding venue can lead the those not present for a rehearsal through the process on the day of the wedding. If, for any reason, Larry James is unable to attend the rehearsal, he will schedule an early arrival the day of the wedding to coach those not present at the rehearsal through the necessary steps.

Remember to invite your Minister/Officiant and his partner to the reception. He is usually seated at a reserved table with the parents of the Bride and Groom or nearby.

NOTE: Some venues reserve a table at the reception for the vendors. Do not seat your Minister at the vendor table. Request that your Minister be seated with the guests. This is a better idea and is a sign of respect. It allows your family and friends the opportunity to offer their "thank yous" for a job well done.

By the way, if the minister is invited to the reception and you have assigned seating, be sure to add the minister's name to the guest list. (It's embarrassing for the minister to have to ask where he should sit if you forget to have a place card with his name and table number on it.)

45.  Imbibe in moderation. Sober "toasters" make better toasts! Sober receptions are becoming more common, reception staffs and caterers are great resources for ideas on hosting a refreshing, non-alcoholic reception.

Here are some suggestions:  Water (bottled, sparkling, flavored, mineral, etc.), Tea (feel free to experiment with iced teas as well - add berries or garnish with mint leaves. Mint ice tea is soothing for nervous stomachs, while a sip of lavender tea promotes calmness.), Coffee (mochas, lattes, cappuccino, espresso. Finding exotic varieties of coffee is easy these days), Non-alcoholic beers and wines, Juices and/or smoothies (including blended protein drinks or other exotic beverages available at your local health food store), Punch, Soda (including caffeinated and decaffeinated colas, root beers and "un-colas"), Floats (malts, shakes or any other ice-cream drink), Exotic, non-alcoholic drinks ("virgin" cocktails such as pina coladas and bloody marys - don't forget Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers for the kids).

46.  Do your part to keep your guests safe. Consider partnering with a hotel with a shuttle service between the wedding reception site and the hotel. Send a card with your invitation offering a special rate at the hotel for your guests with the headline, "Don't Drink and Drive!" Offer a special fee ($15 to $20) for the privilege of hopping on a shuttle at half hour intervals for guests that want a "designated driver." Include a phone number for hotel reservations. Ask them to send a check in advance for the shuttle service with their RSVP and a deadline date to respond. Although the Minister will be at the wedding, to help you keep track of guests, remember to send him/her a wedding invitation.

47.  If either of you have deceased family members that will be especially missed, include a prayer or poem (or song lyrics) of remembrance in the ceremony that recognizes the importance of these people in your lives. Lay a single rose on an empty chair.

48.  Before the big day arrives, ask both sets of parents if they would like to join you in renewing their own vows after you have exchanged yours.

49.  Informal weddings often include pets in the ceremony. If a pooch (or other pet) is small enough you may wish to carry it down the aisle in your arms instead of a bouquet. Large dogs (on a leash, of course), and let by a special friend, often make good ring bearers.

50.  IMPORTANT. . . Your wedding day is "your" day and you get to say! It belongs solely to the engaged couple and should NEVER be compromised by others who believe that they are "helping" by getting involved. This includes the mother of the Bride AND the Groom (and friends, too!). Assign several tasks they can do to help them feel they are "involved." The only people who you should worry about PLEASING are yourself and your betrothed.

51.  Colleges can be an excellent resource when you are searching for musical services for your wedding or reception. Often the Department of Music will have professors who have been professional musicians prior to becoming full-time instructors. The best approach is for you to visit the Music Department in person with a written request for precisely what you are seeking; a trio, quartet, trumpeter, and the style of music you wish for them to perform.

52.  Never assume a buffet will cost less than a sit-down dinner. Why? Because food portions are not controlled you often end up planning for and paying for more food. Be sure to discuss both options with your caterer. Although you won't have waiters and waitresses you will still need catering staff to replenish supplies that run low, serve drinks, clear tables, and carve a roast or serve other meats.

53.  The myth that a Bride has up to a year to write all her Thank You notes is not true. Be prompt in your replies. Grooms are equally responsible for this task as they will be receiving 50 percent of the benefit for life from these lovely gifts. Notes are to be handwritten and personal. People cared enough to shop specifically for you and you should take the opportunity to thank them not only for their gifts, but their attendance on your special day.

54.  A great way to reduce costs is to use flowers that are in season on your wedding day. Another idea is custom made silk flowers for your wedding. They stay fresh for many years.

55.  Creat a budget "together!" Being realistic about costs and actually seeing the numbers written down on paper will help keep you from spending out of control. The key is to create the wedding of your dreams and stay within your budget. Plan to have a reserve of cash on hand for those last-minute expenses. Be flexible. If you spend more in one expense, reapportion it to another expense. It may be tempting to finance your wedding with credit cards, however beginning your life together in debt can cause a lot of stress. Especially avoid credit card debt.

56.  Put a camera on each table at the reception dinner. Post a small placard that says: "Help us capture our memories! Please use this camera to take pictures of anything memorable, but please, leave this camera on the table before you depart. Thank you for coming and making our day special!"

You may want to have the disc jockey make an announcement that the cameras are for the big people only and not for the children to snap photos randomly. Usually if the kids take command of the cameras, you end up with a lot of blurry and unusable photos.

57.  Not much budget for pictures? Many experienced photography students will take pictures for class credit. Most will not charge a fee if you allow them to use the photos for an assignment. Of course, you get the negatives.

58.  Photographers tell me that the most frequently missed picture during the ceremony is the "kiss!" Note to the Groom: Lay one on her that will be memorable. Make the kiss last a little longer than usual to make sure the photographer has time to get a good shot.

59.  To be certain that you can book the minister you want on the date and time you want; first, choose your wedding date, second, book the wedding venue, and third, book the minister. Those of us who are busy performing ceremonies often book wedding dates as much as 6 months or more in advance.

60.  "Save the Date Cards" are catching on. These missives have a brief message asking your out-of-town friends and relatives to mark your wedding date on their calendar. That way these special people can plan their vacation time and take advantage of special airfares. Send these cards well in advance. . . the earlier the better. Create your own cards on your computer or contact a stationer.

61.  Make time for a pre-wedding dance class so you can learn romantic moves to impress your guests and inspire each other. Dance instruction can be a wedding gift you give to yourselves. Learning to dance is surprisingly painless. If you can't afford private lessons at a local studio, look around for group classes (high schools, colleges and community centers often offer courses). Don't expect perfection: Nobody at your reception is anticipating that the two of you will put on a show. Your newly acquired dance skills won't diminish the minute your "first dance" as wife and husband ends at the reception. Dancing is something you can always do together.

62.  Invite people to participate in your wedding party because they care about you, "not out of obligation." I cannot stress this enough. This is the one of the most important days of your life. Only involve people who genuinely share in your happiness and love.

63.  Aisle runners are used only for the bride, so that her gown doesn't get soiled. It should be rolled out after the last people in the procession have reached the alter. The bride and her escort should be the only ones walking on it. If you are having an outdoor wedding, save yourself the possible headache of the bride and her escort tripping (especially if the runner is to be laid upon the grass). Somehow runners never seem to stay put.

64.  Here's a new twist on table numbers. When setting up your seating arrangement, identify your tables with wedding related words such as Love, Cherish, Honor, Happiness, Forever, Peace, Companion, etc. It adds a special touch to your beautiful centerpieces instead of tacky table numbers in the middle.

65.  To keep track of gifts, place the name, address and phone number of each guest on a 3 x 5 index card. Store the cards alphabetically. As you open your wedding gifts, list the gift information on the appropriate card. When it comes time to write your thank-you notes, all the information you'll need will be at your finger tips.

66.  What will the little ones do on your special day? Look for a company that specializes in providing interactive entertainment for children during the wedding and the reception. This will allow you and your adult guests to focus on celebrating every precious moment of your special day.

How to include kids in the ceremony:

Age: 1-2 - Must be carried or accompanied down the aisle, sometimes pulled in a wagon or pushed in a stroller, then seated with family; dressed in tiny (adorable) formalwear.
Age: 3-5 - Should be escorted by a parent or older flower girl or ring bearer then seated with family; dressed in coordinating formalwear, can hold flowers or ring pillow.
Age: 6-10 - Perfect flower girl or ring bearer age, seated with family or sometimes with the best man and maid of honor; dressed in child version of wedding-party members (usually girls are in dresses that coordinate with wedding colors, not the bride's dress).
Age: 11-15 - Junior bridesmaid or junior groomsman, stands with the wedding party at the end of the row, dressed in child version of wedding party attire or, often, the same wedding attire.
Age: 16 & up - Full-fledged wedding party member.

67.  Have your guests witness the signing of the Marriage License during the ceremony. Although the signing of the license is usually done after the ceremony, this is a great way to allow the guests to see a part of the ceremony they rarely have the occasion to witness.

68.  Often at the reception there will be many people who do not know each other very well. To help get the party started and help your guests to get better aquainted, place cards at each place setting that say things like, "Ask someone you don't know to dance," "Give someone you know a hug," "Make a song request to the DJ," "Offer to buy someone a drink," etc. If there are 10 to a table, you only need 10 different cards for each table.

Place cards are a good idea, especially if you have dateless friends and relatives. Even the most socially gifted guests will have high-school cafeteria flashbacks when forced to sit down with a bunch of strangers. Having "assigned seats" is not restrictive. It's smart and considerate - and will make conversation mingling (and matchmaking) so much easier.

69.  If you are changing your name, make your flight reservation for your honeymoon and apply for your passport with your maiden name. They must match. You can amend your passport later. It takes about six (6) weeks to receive a U.S. passport and even longer if you don't have a copy of your birth certificate. By the way, don't plan anything to taxing the first few days of your honeymoon, especially if you leave right after your wedding (not recommended - See Tip #1). You'll be shocked by how exhausted you'll be post-wedding. Also make sure everyone knows you are newlyweds. You never know who'll throw in an extra like complimentary champagne and strawberries.

70.  There are plenty of non-musical ways to entertain your guests at the reception. Whether they are taking pictures of themselves in a photo booth or filming you and other guests with a disposable video camera left on their table, guests who can make their own fun make a party more entertaining, Slight-of-hand magicians, dancers, and dance instructors are also great ways to get guests involved. Guests will usually follow your lead. If you two keep dancing, they will too.

71.  When it comes to ceremony music. . . keep it simple! Trying to time the music so that each couple has a different song to walk down the aisle to or playing songs with words (which causes the wedding party and the minister to stand with nothing to do while they wait for the song to finish) puts undue pressure on the wedding party and - this is experience talking - it seldom ever works out the way you planned it - to say nothing of the extra time it takes you to perfect the music on your computer, etc. Don't try to get fancy with the music. Timing everything to the second does not work. It is usually a big mistake.

72.  There are two important areas of your wedding celebration where price should never be a factor. A mediocre Minister and a unenthusiastic DJ can wreak havoc at your wedding. A lackluster minister with a boring ceremony - like most of the others you've heard - can leave the guests cold and uninspired and if the DJ isn't a true "entertainer" the party can crash and burn. Your wedding reception DJ should be considered your "Wedding Entertainment Director." A great DJ determines whether your reception is a hit or a miss! The minister and the DJ should be the very best you can hire. I know its cliché, but you really do get what you pay for.

Perhaps the primary deciding factor should be who performs the most memorable and unique wedding ceremony for you and your guests and what other extras do they offer in their package that other ministers do not. You will enjoy the comfort and assurance of knowing you are contracting with a first-class minister who comes with professional experience, impeccable integrity, commendable references, a gentle and enthusiastic spirit and a subtle, but delightful sense of humor (hmmmmm, sounds like a description of Larry James).

This is your very special day. It will only happen once. I would never recommend that you make your decision on price alone. There are numerous other areas that you can cut back on when the $$s are tight.

73.  Scout wedding venues with your digital camera. Sometimes the details run together. Use your camera to help keep track of ceremony sites (outdoors, churches, galleries, or homes are all good options), reception halls, accommodations - hotels, bed and breakfasts, spas, rehearsal and dinner options. Use your camera to show your florist your dress, or a particular color you want to include in your bouquet. Share pictures of the foods you and your fiancée love - Thai curries, pizza margherita, etc. Assemble a selection of photos as a visual menu your caterer can build from. Send your florist pictures of ideas for arrangements, bouquets, boutonnières, and centerpieces.

74.  Preserve the entire wedding day by snapping photos during preparation through the whole event. Your professional photographer will cover the formal wedding pictures, so look for offbeat and overlooked candid moments instead: a child sticking his finger in the cake, a sea of bridesmaids struggling to catch the bouquet, or Grandma doing the hokey-pokey. Packing an extra memory card and battery will ensure you can take as many shots as you want. Focus on small details that make the day beautiful. Capture close-up shots with your camera's zoom feature.

75.  Use 3x5 index cards to keep track of your guests (keep them in a recipe box for easy organizing). On each card, write the guest´s names, address, phone number, if they've RSVP'd, and how many guests would be attending, etc. Later you can use the same cards to keep track of what gift they gave and whether or not you've written them a thank-you note.

76.  Always get a proof (a sample print) of your wedding invitations from the stationer or printer before giving the go-ahead to have them printed. Check the proof very carefully to ensure there are no printing errors and that dates, times and venues are correct.

If you address an invitation with the words "and guest", you should assume that the invitee will bring one. You can always leave out the words "and guest" initially, then call your single guests closer to the actual wedding, once you have a firmer idea of how many people will be attending, and offer them the option to bring a date if they would like. Include a "reply by" date on your reply card to encourage guests to RSVP in a timely manner. Pre-stamp your reply card as a courtesy to invitees.

77.  Consider hiring a Bridal Consultant. It can free up your time and they can handle all of the details for you, allowing you the freedom to enjoy your engagement. A bridal consultant should be a part of your budget, not an extra expense. In fact, you often save money with suggestions a consultant can make to you on less expensive alternatives, which still enhance your wedding. Consultants may also receive discounts from suppliers, which they may pass on to you. For a list of approved Bridal Consultants of the Arizona Branch of the Association of Bridal Consultants (Larry James is a member), click here.

78.  Remember to provide the Wedding Coordinator (and the Bridal Consultant/Planner) at your wedding venue ALL the details of the rehearsal, if any, BEFORE the rehearsal NOT at the rehearsal. Example: Names of Groomsmen, Bridesmaids, who seats the parents and grandparents, are the guys walking up first or will the Groomsmen walk with the Bridesmaids, names of the ushers (if any), etc. This will help make your rehearsal go much smoother and less time consuming.

Either call the coordinator with the names or better yet, send e-mail a day or two before the rehearsal. A well-coordinated rehearsal should not take longer than 30 minutes provided everyone arrives on time. Please encourage those who will be in the wedding party to be on time. Larry James often has more than one rehearsal in a day.

79.  Allow yourself at least 20 minutes to be alone on your wedding day before getting ready. Give yourself "private time" to relax and focus on the wonderful things you are about to experience. Being calm and centered is the real key to being a stress-free and beautiful bride.

80.  Instead of waiting until the end of the reception, play anniversary music for the older couples and a few waltzes or polkas early on. Plan a dance that involves all married guests; Have your guest leave the floor as the DJ calls of the number of years they have been married, leaving the couple married the longest on the dance floor by themselves to be acknowledged by the guests. You may want to present them with some flowers or some other token of your appreciation.

81.  Although tradition says that the Best Man and the Maid of Honor usually walk up just before Ring Bearer, Flower girl and the Bride and her escort, if you have 3 or 4 Bridesmaids and Groomsmen on each side, it is often a better idea to have the Best Man and the Maid of Honor walk in after the Minister and the Groom so that everyone else knows exactly where they are suppose to stand. The traditional way often has the spacing between everyone staggered or off the mark and may show up as loosely organized and bad in the wedding photos.

82.  Have cupid send your Wedding invitations (or any other romantic card) that bears a postmark from Loveland, CO 80537. This city is one of several cities that have a special name whose postmark can embellish your invitations with romance. For a complete list, go to: Special Postmarks.

83.  Opps! Link has expired! Sorry!

84.  Get help with the honeymoon. Who really needs three blenders anyway? Avoid incurring honeymoon debt and sign up with a honeymoon gift registry. Guests will then be able to buy increments of your big sendoff - a valuable cost-cutting plan. Since you may already have most of the traditional wedding gift items, you may want to offer your guests a popular new wedding gift alternative - a honeymoon registry. This will allow them to help you create the honeymoon memories that will last a lifetime. Check out Travelers Joy Honeymoon Registry, www.TheBigDay.com, or www.TheHoneymoon.com.

85.  Honeymoon tip. Notify your financial institutions of when you will be traveling out of the country on your honeymoon. This could save you the embarrassment of having your credit card rejected because the bank suspects someone else may be using your card.

Also remember to leave your hotel accommodation details (room and phone number) and itinerary with your family so they can contact you in an emergency. Don't take your cell phone. Give it it's own vacation. While your cell is recharging its batteries, you can do the same. This is a very special get-away for only the two of you.

For an extensive "Honeymoon Checklist," click here.

86.  Use your "Honeymoon Leverage" - Many resorts will go out of their way for honeymooners: room upgrades, free bottles of champagne, flowers, a free dinner - these sorts of freebies are relatively common. Some of the upscale international hotel chains have programs whereby travel agents who are members of their program can request a free amenity or upgrade for their honeymoon couples.

Don't be afraid to let hotels or travel agents know that this is your honeymoon: yes, the travel industry DOES market heavily to honeymooners, but you're much more likely to get a bonus because of it than you are to be over-charged or taken advantage of. A thoroughly experienced travel agent who specializes in your destination can help you get more for your honeymoon budget this way.

87.  Don't fear the prenup. Many couples avoid even discussing a prenuptial agreement because they perceive it to be a precursor for divorce. On the contrary, it can help lovebirds tackle real issues like debts, assets, business holdings and custody of children from previous marriages - all issues that could come back to bite you if not dealt with early enough.

88.  Lyrics to songs that have a special meaning for the bride and groom often make good readings at weddings. Have someone read the lyrics to your favorite love song during your wedding. No music, just the words read as a poem. Your guests will love it. Find all the lyrics to your favorite love song by clicking here.

89.  $$$ Saving Tip. Have a cocktail reception instead of a sit-down dinner. Set up cocktail tables - enough for about half the guests so that people can sit when they wish and mingle the rest of the time. Have music and dancing from start to finish. Set up finger food buffets around the room, and have servers circulate with lots of hor d'oeuvers. Have the cake-cutting toward the end, and serve cake, coffee, petits fours and chocolate covered strawberries.

90.  Goody Bags for Guests. Make your out of town guests feel right at home by sharing with them all your favorite treats and ideas for fun in Arizona. Prepare gift bags with munchies like your favorite local candies, a gift card for your top restaurant as well as maps marked with interesting places to visit while here.

91.  Think GREEN. Plan your wedding to be an eco-friendly event. Use recycled card stock for you "save-the-date" cards, give packets of seeds (cactus seeds are neat) as wedding favors and serve locally grown produce. Have the guests throw biodegradable confetti. It's water soluble and nearly cleans itself up.

92.  Instead of favors, donate money to your favorite charity. Ask your guests to consider donating too. Make suggestions of where to donate on cards at each place setting.

93.  Yum! Yum! Cupcakes are terrific! Wedding cake is delicious too, but so are smaller portioned cupcakes. These mini-deserts can be a variety of flavors and can be decorated with multi-colors, styles and designs.

94.  Personalize Your Vows. Consider writing some of your own "personal promises" to read to each other as part of the ceremony. This can be a very special part of your wedding ceremony. Always write what you are going to say on an index card. It is a good idea not to tell your partner what you will be saying. Let it be a nice surprise. They can be humorous or humorous mixed with some serious promises. Your choice. Ask Larry James for a few samples of "personal promises."

95.  Guests expect you to have tray passed appetizers during the cocktail hour. How about tray passed desserts after dinner at the reception? It is extra special to have servers offering guests sweet treats like cookies, pastries and brownies.

96.  Tradition says the parents of the bride sit in the front row on the left side and the parents of the groom sit in the front row on the right side. Here's the problem. When the bride faces the groom, she is facing away from her parents and the only thing they see is her back. The parents of the groom can only see the back of the groom. Solution: Seat the parents of the bride on the right side and the parents of the groom on the left side allowing them to see the expressions on the faces of their daughter and son as the ceremony is being performed.

Copyright © - Larry James. All rights reserved.

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