Here Comes the Guide brings you expert advice to help you plan your wedding, from engagement to honeymoon and all the fun in between.. Be sure to check out our “Questions to Ask…” series for guidance on finding your wedding venue and hiring your wedding vendors!
Dear Here Comes The Guide: We are planning a fairly upscale and costly wedding for our daughter. It is a destination wedding for our guests, but more local for the groom side. Therefore, our guests are not as likely to attend as the groom side. Do we have to split the guest list fifty-fifty? My thoughts are that we should have a thirty-seventy, or forty-sixty split. We are paying for the whole thing. What is the norm?
You can trust the wedding professionals on Here Comes The Guide. We don’t just let anyone get a listing on our website. We’re choosy. Find out why we’d recommend these wedding vendors to our sisters and friends.
Next to playing with my dogs and sharing a chocolate soufflé with my husband, browsing wedding dresses is one of my favorite pastimes. Are you with me on this? I thought so. Then believe me when I say that one of the best ways to indulge your fashion passion is by attending a bridal trunk show.
10–12 Months To Go…
1. Work out your budget and establish your top priorities—where to save/where to splurge. 2. Start browsing bridal blogs and magazines to identify your wedding style and color palette.
Four talented cakeries conquer tiers and tears in their efforts to produce the finest confectionary masterpieces that will take center stage at wedding receptions all over the country. From a Chicago wedding cake designed to look like stacked tea cups to a Southern California wedding cake with koi fish sculpted out of frosting, if you can dream it, these cake designers can make it.
Wedding budgets may be shrinking these days, but the number of tasks on a wedding to-do list never does. This video showcases one of our Certified By The Guide wedding planners, Amber Events, as she works her wedding magic.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: I had a destination wedding. Should I send a thank-you note to those guests that came to the wedding, but did not buy us a gift?
Thanks for your help,—Pauline M., Chicago, IL
Hosting a booth at a bridal fair isn’t just a good way to take a break from the office; it’s also a chance to meet our Guide Brides (and Grooms!) face to face, answer their burning wedding questions and hand out copies of our current Here Comes The Guide books along with our pretty pink bags.
When the euphoria of the engagement begins to fade, you're struck by a flutter of panic—"I need to plan the wedding!" Bridal fairs are actually the most convenient way to learn about a myriad of event options. Here are some tips of making the most of a bridal fair.
Leave it to Vera to bring lace into the 21st century, as she does so beautifully with her “Bouquet” wedding dress. Marrying the ethereal fabric to a modern silhouette, she adds a bold fillip to the waistline: A huge bow that is anything but demure. Read on for more details as Vera Wang goes “Behind the Dress.”
In the first flush of joy after your engagement, you’ll probably begin browsing magazines and wedding websites…and soon feel buried by a blizzard of checklists and a daunting array of decisions. That’s when you and your fiancé might want to think about hiring a professional wedding planner or wedding coordinator.
You’d think that working from a budget would be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people, especially brides and grooms, are unrealistic about what they can afford. Part of the problem is that most people aren’t very experienced with event budgeting and don’t know how to estimate what locations, products and services will ultimately cost.
Yes, you will save money by hiring the cheapest vendors you can find or doing things yourself. But the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” really comes into play here. Skimp on services and you could end up paying a big price anyway. More info on saving yourself some headaches.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview celebrity wedding planner David Tutera at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Even though he’s worked on events with such VIPs as Jennifer Lopez and Vice President Al Gore, I was impressed by his enthusiasm for helping non-famous brides have equally stellar weddings.
Make it clear that this is your wedding, yet you also want to make your families’ customs a part of your day. If they’re not 100% happy with your choices, don’t sweat it. The important thing is you tried, and they’ll probably come around once they see the awesome party you’ve put together.
My father is Middle Eastern, my mother hails from Louisiana’s Cajun country, and I’m proud to say that both cultures have always been an integral part of who I am. I can make hummus and shrimp gumbo pretty darn well, and I can swear in Arabic and Cajun French if the need arises. We’re also Texans, so that means we all can whip up a mean barbecue, too. When I became engaged to Jon, who has Nordic and German roots, we just sprinkled a few more ingredients into our family’s melting pot.
Whether it’s for your honeymoon, holiday travel or a romantic weekend getaway, these days it pays to pack it all in your carry-on suitcase—and avoid extra charges for checked luggage. The best way to be a breezy bride at the airport is to remember you’re on the vacation of your life…and to “hang loose” when you’re packing. Keep it simple, easy and fun. Follow these five tips, and you’re off to a carefree start.
With the holiday season fast approaching, I like to imagine where our company would have the most rocking holiday party ever. Interestingly, I noticed that my shortlist of holiday event venues wasn’t that different from my fantasy wedding one: Classy art galleries, hip restaurants, sun-kissed vineyards… A dynamic setting can make any celebration pop.
I just got engaged and I keep hearing about trunk shows for wedding dresses. What exactly is a “trunk show”? Is it worth going to one?
—Amanda, San Luis Obispo, CA
You don’t have to be ready for Dancing With The Stars to enjoy your first dance together as husband and wife. These simple tips will help you make the most of your spotlight moment.
Besides your location, the food and drink for your wedding bash will probably consume the largest portion of your wedding budget. Catering costs are usually presented as “per-person” charges, sometimes abbreviated in wedding brochures as “pp” after the amount. But be aware—the per-person charge often doesn’t include everything: Tax and gratuities (sometimes called “service charge”) might be extra, and there may also be separate per-person charges for the meal, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and even setup.
Make sure your guests know that the wedding is actually on the sand, so they can dress appropriately. This can be communicated with the invitation (included with the map/directions), on your wedding website and through word-of-mouth.
We don’t have to tell you that planning a wedding is never simple. There are so many grey areas to navigate: Ecru or bright white wedding dress? Buttercream or fondant on the cake? DJ or live band for entertainment? We could go on…
10 Locations Where You Can Tie The Knot On The Sand!
by Jolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content
As a born-and-raised California girl, I knew one thing for sure—when I got married, it would be on the beach. Not next to the beach, not overlooking the beach or on an ocean view terrace, but actually on the sand.
Ordering your invitations over the phone increases the possibility of mistakes, so order in person if possible. If you order your invitations from an online company, make sure your contract states that they will correct mistakes they make for free.
As a wedding guest for four weddings this year, I can tell you two things that strike fear into the heart of the invitee. The first is: what to wear? (What the heck is “Backyard Formal,” I ask you?) The other is: what to give? While wearing the wrong thing says you had a closet crisis, giving the wrong thing says something about your relationship with the bride and groom.
When I’m gown shopping, I find that most of what I like, I don’t LOVE. For example, I like the bodice, but don’t like the fullness, or the skirt is “too trumpet,” etc. What would be really great is to find an affordable custom wedding dress from a reputable designer. Do you have any suggestions in LA or in Orange County? Please let me know!
—Allison G., Los Angeles
Too often choosing the entertainment is left to the end of your overwhelming “Wedding To Do List”—but it shouldn’t be. Not only does music set the appropriate mood, but a skilled Master or Mistress of Ceremonies will gracefully guide your guests from one spotlight moment to another.
by Drs. Michelle & Patrick Gannon, Marriage Prep 101
Plan the Planning Process First.This is the most important step in our approach to wedding planning. Unfortunately, this is also the step that most couples forget. Remember this: planning a wedding takes time and effort and, like any challenge, the way you meet the challenge requires planning too. Do this step first before you are drowning in the details.
Before you can go pick out your invitations, you need to decide how to word them. You have two basic choices—you can conform to the traditional rules of etiquette, or you can select more contemporary options. Either way, it can be a challenge to appropriately express yourself, so I offer some suggestions to help you wade through the ways of wording.
Is it better to look good than to taste good? Don’t think, just answer. Your response will give you a clue as to where you weigh in on the Great “Fondant versus Buttercream” Controversy, or, as I like to call it, “the Famous Frosting Smackdown.”
Nowadays, if someone gets injured at an event or something is damaged at or near the event site, it’s likely that someone will be sued.
In order to protect themselves and spread the risk among all parties involved, facilities have begun to require additional insurance and/or proof of insurance from service professionals and their clients.
Let’s talk about sex. As a culture we’re obsessed with it. Just flip through any magazine at your local bookstore or checkout stand. You’ll see: Are you hot enough? Is your penis big enough? Hard enough? Are your breasts perky or do they point downwards towards Mexico? And then they offer all these groundbreaking statistics like “81% of couples use some kind of food item as part of their lovemaking.”
For centerpieces, I was thinking of using potted plants because I like the idea of something that lives on after the wedding. My colors are Wedgwood blue and cream. Will all that green still work?
—Sandi S., Danville
Neither my fiancé nor I are at all religious despite our upbringings, though we do share a broad-based spirituality. Our families are much more traditional, and might be offended if our wedding ceremony is entirely secular. Is there a way to honor the belief systems of our parents without being hypocritical?—Pamela G., Vacaville
Read our experts’ answer.
Can you tell me how many hors d’oeuvres per person is the norm for a cocktail wedding reception? I’m not having dinner, just hors d’oeuvres and cocktails for about four hours. I need to figure out my menu and am at my wits end trying to find the answer!—Lisa D., Eagle RockRead our experts’ answer.
My fiancé and I have most of our wedding plans set, except the music for our reception. We can’t decide between live entertainment and a disc jockey. The reception will be indoors with about 150 guests. We have to keep an eye on cost, too. Are bands always more expensive? What do you recommend?
—Maria M., Fallbrook
Read our experts’ answers.
One of the best aspects of your California wedding is loved ones coming together. By adding a few thoughtful details to your wedding festivities, you can make your out-of-towners feel like VIPs. The following suggestions are meant to be helpful…
Nine years ago, I shopped for my wedding dress all wrong. With my engagement ring sparkling on my left hand for all of 2 hours, I found myself walking past a rather unpromising bridal shop. It had a shabby storefront, wigs askew atop faceless mannequins that looked as if they’d been frozen in position since the Eisenhower administration. Take a guided tour through some really excellent Southern California bridal salons.
Friends and relatives who've come from afar often stay for a few days, and they won't want to sit around twiddling their thumbs before and after the wedding. Since you're not going to have the time to play Tour Guide, have a list of activities prepared in advance. You can include familiar options like Disneyland and Universal Studios, but Southern California offers so much more.
What about the humble cocktail hour? Gone are the days when a hostess could throw together a few trays of cheddar cubes, crackers and melon slices to tide guests over. Today's bride puts a great deal more consideration into what she presents to her guests, and the Bay Area bride is among the most discerning. Make your cocktail hour memorable.
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Northern California. Your first big decision is to select a location that makes geographical sense to you, your family and the majority of your guests. Get more tips for choosing your Northern California wedding location from the HCTG experts.
Invaluable tips on how to select a wedding location in Southern California. Your first big decision is to select a location that makes geographical sense to you, your family and the majority of your guests. Get more tips for choosing your Southern California wedding location from the HCTG experts.
All eyes are on the wedding cake. Will it be divine or a dud? If you've entrusted your dessert to one of Southern California's hottest confectionary wizards, you needn't worry. Your cake is sure to be not only a masterpiece of cutting-edge style but also the embodiment of gastronomic ecstasy. Meet the wedding cake wizards.
You want your celebration to convey something unique about you and your husband-to-be. Working closely with a cake maker to create your own wedding cake is one way to “express yourself” at your reception. The best dessert artists only do custom work, and it all begins with the consultation. Meet some of the best Northern California wedding cake makers.
The Big Day is just that—a big day. If you really want to nurture and sustain your marriage over the long term, developing solid relationship skills is the most important investment you can make. (We hear you groaning, but seriously) if you want to make sure your relationship is going to last, read more...
You no longer have to wrestle with your conscience to have a celebration that is both beautiful and "green"— here's how.
Whether it's on a faraway tropical island, at a secluded wine country villa or at a seaside manse, weddings at signature private properties top the charts for couples tying the knot—and we're not just talking about the celebrity set. More about private estate weddings...
I rarely go to weddings (maybe it’s because most of my social circle is either already married or never going to be), but a year ago a friend invited me to one.
As my friend’s date I wasn’t obligated to bring a gift, but I’d I’d been told the bride and groom liked to cook, so I got them a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets from Sur La Table as a wedding present. I put my present on a table with dozens of other gifts, and hoped that it wouldn’t get lost in the pile.
You’ve done it—found “the dress.” Now it’s time to pull the rest of your look together. Before you proceed, it is useful to identify which shade of white your dress really is. (This article should help.) Then you can begin to add the finishing touches like jewelry, shoes, and hair accessories.
It’s housekeeping time at Here Comes The Guide! We’ve reorganized our website a bit. If you’ve been reading our blog (thank you!), you’ll now find all our newest stuff over in Find Ideas, our online guidebook of wedding ideas, how-to’s, advice and lists of questions to ask prospective locations and vendors.
I paid $220 for my wedding dress. My colleague Jennifer? Got hers for $125. Since we were both footing the bill for our own weddings, there was precious little in the budget for our gowns (I had to make sure there were enough offerings at the pasta bar to satisfy my Italian relatives!). We both looked lovely, by the way, even without spending 2 two months’ rent on our wedding attire. Here are some of our dress-shopping secrets:
Timing, choice of wedding stationery and, of course, guest list protocol are all critical steps in your wedding planning. The ever-savvy Vera Wang has some ideas for helping you get organized.
When it comes to choosing dresses for your bridesmaids, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Not only that, but not all styles are going to be universally approved. What to do? Vera Wang has a few suggestions… Read on!
The day of the wedding, I put my dress on, and to my horror it felt loose. I guess those last few spin classes did more than I wanted them to! Luckily, one of the bridesmaids had fashion tape in her bag. I’d never used it before, but all I could hear in my head was Tim Gunn saying, “make it work.” We lined the very top of the dress with a couple of pieces of tape and I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
One of my favorite Vera Wang wedding dresses ever is Fall 2009’s “Amelia”. To me, this bridal gown says Glamorous Forest Nymph, and the peekaboo petticoat has just the right amount of sauciness. Plus, as Vera explains, her “recent collections of wedding dresses are tinged with color”—and I love that Amelia and her sister-dresses aren’t exactly Snow White. Imagine my delight to see that my favorite “Amelia” was showcased in Vera Wang’s first edition of “Behind the Dress,” part of her “Love, Vera” exclusive newsletter series.