Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smart Pretty and Awkward: Tips for All the Players in Your Big Day

Molly Ford, of the notable blog Smart Pretty and Awkward, is here with some fabulous tips for how to be the best bride, groom, bridesmaid or wedding guest you can be! Her advice is spot-on, and a must-read for any Wedding Belle bride!

For the Groom:
How to be
Smarter: If you don't have a wedding planner, you (and your bride) should assign someone "details duty" so you two can enjoy your day. This should not be your best man or one of the ushers as they have other duties already. This is the person who takes care of locating the missing jacket at coat check, makes sure Grandma gets to the church on time, etc. Your only real obligations for that day are to greet everyone that comes personally, either by making the rounds at dinner or finding another time during desert, and being in the right place at the right time (ie., the end of the aisle when the music starts).
How to be Prettier: Silly Boy, you don't need to be prettier for this big day. Instead, make sure your bride feels prettier--send her a heartfelt little present on the big morning while you two are getting ready in different places.
How to be (less) Awkward: At the reception, besides your lovely new wife, be sure to dance with your mom, your bride's mom, any stepmothers on either side, any sisters on either side, and the flower girl.

For the Bride:
How to be
Smarter: There is a renewed emphasis on weddings being big, exciting events, with all the trappings of privilege. But at the end of the day, everyone you invite just wants to feel like they are special enough to be part of one of the most important days of your life. It is not about doing the dance moves to your choreographed dance perfectly, or having the perfect table settings and food; it is about being so much in love that everyone who attends knows this is a genuine, heartfelt event that they are lucky to attend. To that note, be sure to reach out and talk to each of your guests, no matter how big the wedding is--as the bride, you are the star of the show and everyone wants to feel special to the star. **
How to be Prettier: You already will have enough people fussing over you--be sure to share the wealth. Include bridesmaids, female relatives, and close girlfriends in the primping process. Even the Mother of the Bride feels better with a new pedicure.
How to be (less) Awkward: It can feel awkward having all your single friends get up for the bouquet toss, especially as you get older and it almost feels mean to have those who aren't married singled out. You might skip this tradition and give the bouquet to the couple that has been married the longest. **

For the Bridal Party:
How to be Smarter: Ask the bride what color she would like your nails to be. Even if she is not that uptight of a bride and won't care, it is still considerate to ask.
How to be Prettier: Wear your bridesmaid shoes ahead of time around your house, so they don't get dirty for pictures but do get broken in. **
How to be (less) Awkward: Nobody should be too drunk at a wedding; it is classy occasion. Note for the bride: if the wedding isn't being held in your home town, consider having some speciality cocktails that reflect where you came from, like peach-flavored drinks for a Georgia girl.

For the Guests:
How to be Smarter: RSVP as soon as possible, with your food choice and if you are bringing a date, if appropriate.
How to be Prettier: Wear the right thing. If you don't know, figure it out ahead of time. Bring a wrap to an outdoor wedding, and for females, put flats or flip flops in your purse for dancing if your shoes pinch. **
How to be (less) Awkward: Don't bother the bride and groom. They should be having fun. Unless there is an actual crisis, save complaining about the fact that you got chicken instead of beef for another day. Or skip the complaining at all. Just feel lucky to see these two start their journey together! **

** denotes a Wedding Belle favorite tip.

Molly Ford is the writer of the blog Smart Pretty and Awkward, which details three pieces of advice each business day: how to be smarter, how to be prettier, and how to be less awkward. You can find her running around New York City, drinking a strawberry smoothie.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Update from Leslie: St. Mary Academy 8th Annual Auction!

This past weekend, The Wedding Belle, had the privilege of working with some amazing volunteers to put together an annual auction for a Catholic school in Dover, NH. My daughter Isabella is in first grade at the school, so the cause is near and dear to her heart. This year, I took on the role in September as Chair of the Auction Committee. The task at hand: transform the school’s gymnasium into an elegant venue fit for fun, friends and bidding!! My school volunteers and I managed to turn a basketball court into an enchanted garden on an extremely LIMITED budget. After all, this was a fundraiser, so spending on the atmosphere and décor was something that was necessary, but also needed to be kept under control!

First on site to begin the transformation was Marshall’s Rental. Marshall’s was kind enough to donate a portion of the rentals for the evening. Thank you very much! In the photos (below) you see guest tables, white garden chairs, linens and pipe & drape. As most of you know, The Wedding Belle is a huge fan of Chivari chairs and the majority of the time, feel that white garden chairs are appropriate for a wedding ceremony or backyard affair. HOWEVER, the theme chosen for the auction was “An Evening in the Garden”, therefore, white garden chairs were a perfect fit for this event in particular, and were a huge money saver for the school.

As a way to promote the “green” initiative, the committee decided that re-usable shopping bags would be a great way to advertise the school, give a useful gift to the attendees, and keep all of the “welcome” items condensed into something easily handed out upon check-in. Each auction attendee received a re-usable bag, bidding paddle, auction program, Saint Mary bumper sticker, Bugaboo Restaurant gift card, door prize raffle ticket and a personal thank you note and gift. To add a personal touch from the students, we asked the students to write out thank you notes for the attendees and attach garden seeds for the attendee’s garden this year! Thank you to Wentworth Greenhousefor donating the varieties of seed packets for the thank you notes and to Bugaboo Restaurant for the gift cards!

Another personal touch added by the committee this year was the teacher’s “Wish Tree”. We asked the teachers to put together a list of “wishes” for their classroom. These items ranged from Legos to white boards to new science books! Each wish was then turned into a leaf on the “Wish Tree”. If an attendee would like to grant a wish, they could read through the wishes and pick off which teacher and which item they would like to grant a wish for. This idea turned into a huge success and many of the teacher’s wishes will be granted! For those wishes that still remain on the tree, the “Wish Tree” will be placed in the main foyer of the school so parents at any time can pull off a wish and surprise a teacher at any time! Thank you to Ambrosia Gardens for creating our “Wish Tree."

Next up in transforming this space: pipe and drape! Now, you might ask, what is pipe and drape? It is simply that: pipes that create a faux wall and hold the drape that then creates a “wall” of fabric. It is the easiest way to transform a space and hide unwanted or unsightly areas in your space. Many volunteers arrived on-site to help with the assembly! Thank you so much to all of you for your time and energy!

Now, that we have created the walls, or border so to speak, it is time to fill in the rest of the puzzle! Up next, placing tables, chairs, and linens! You should have seen those volunteers go! They were a fantastic crew and we couldn’t have done it without them! As a silly side note, what “fuel” does it take to keep your volunteers happy and strong?? Pizza, cookies, Doritos and drinks!

As a side “fundraiser” and also additional décor for the evening, the committee decided to use candid photographs of the children of Saint Mary Academy around the pipe and drape. These photos helped to remind all of the attendees why they were at the auction and what the mission was! These photographs were sold at the event which allowed attendees to take home a piece of their child’s school history and created another source of income for the school. All photos that remained at the end of the night will be available for purchase at other school events.

So, we were creating a garden right? Then where were all the flowers? Jardinere donated all of the floral centerpieces for the evening, thank you. Tall centerpieces of flowering branches created a vertical vision while two versions of lower centerpieces added flowers and color to the other tables. Each of the low centerpieces was auctioned off as a raffle for attendees to take home, again creating an additional source of income for the school from a piece of the décor. This is the secret for how to stretch your limited budget within a fundraiser! We did this with the photos and the flowers!

Finally, to hold an auction you need…ITEMS! Thank you to all of the businesses and private families that donated physical items, experiences, and talents to the auction!

After the live event, we opened up the dance floor and DJ Tony took us into the night spinning his tunes! Thank you DJ Tony!

The Live Auction was an amazing success! New friends, old friends, parents, faculty, and board members all had a wonderful time together. The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing, the bidder paddles were used often and laughter could be heard as the auctioneer kept everyone entertained throughout the evening! Thank you to everyone that attended! The SMA Auction has turned itself into an event that should not be missed.

To all of my volunteers that worked so hard on this auction,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Without you we would have no items to auction off. Without you we would have no tasks accomplished. Without you we would have no ideas to create and execute. Without your spirit, energy and heart…we would have no auction! I am extremely grateful for all of your time, energy and effort.

All my Love,


Stay tuned to the blog for some video of the event in full swing and all of the décor during “An Evening In the Garden”!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Rainy Day Affair

Every couple crosses their fingers for the perfect weather on their wedding day. Every New England couple probably crosses their toes too! After this past weekend of rainfall, and looking back on last summer's particularly wet weather, it seems like a fitting time to discuss "The Rain Plan."

You would never have guessed that this was Nikki & Mike's Summer 2009 rain plan!
(Photo Courtesy of Eric Laurits Photography)

#1 Know Your Options: Many venues provide clients with a backup space in the event of rain or inclement weather conditions. Make sure you know what your options are. Planning a backyard wedding? Figure out if the house can accomodate enough people in case of rain. Rent a tent! If a tent is not in your budget, trees, branches and leaves can serve as great cover during light rain showers so perhaps plan to have some in close proximity.

#2 Plan Ahead: Put some time and thought into your rain plan, that way if you need to use it, it won't seem like it is a backup plan. Focus on the flow of events, where things will take place and how you will comfortably seat everyone. If you keep your guests comfortable and happy, you will feel the same, and no one will never know the difference!

#3 Be Realistic: Listen to weather reports, and if there is a high chance of rain, make the call early. The earlier you decide to go with the rain plan, the more smoothly the day will run. Moving tables, chairs, flowers and centerpieces while guests are present causes chaos and is never ideal. Making the decision early will allow the event to look as though it was always meant to be that way and will give the people setting up time to make the new space look as beautiful as you originally envisioned!

#4 Hire A Wedding Planner: This is another perfect example of how handy having a wedding planner can be! I can't tell you how many time we have needed to change the initial plans for a wedding to accomodate rain in the forecast. Planners know how to handle the circumstances and keep things flowing and looking beautiful, and how to make sure the couple doesn't need to give the weather complications a second thought.

#5 Buy Umbrellas: Not only can an umbrella protect your beautiful wedding day hair and makeup from the elements, it can also serve as a great prop for wedding day photos! The Wedding Belle invested in white umbrellas a few years back and I can't tell you how many times we have used them!

#6 Don't Stress: They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck! Also, most photographers would agree that overcast skies create the best lighting for photographs. Relax and enjoy, don't let a little rain spoil your big day!

Umbrellas can make beautiful photo props!
(Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Daley-Clark Photography, Fall 2009)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Must Read: Daily Candy & Daily Candy WEDDINGS Newsletter

If you haven’t heard about Daily Candy yet, you MUST check it out! Daily Candy is a trendy newsletter designed to let you know about all of the hottest events happening around your city. They search out the most creative and interesting ideas, and share them with you so that you don’t miss out! It provides suggestions for what to do, where to eat and special events that are happening each week in your area. Every week there is also a fabulous coupon of some sort at the end of the newsletter! And they will never let you miss out on incredible shopping opportunities.

Here are a few samples from past newsletters:

February 18th: “EAT Fondue Sundays at Beacon Hill Bistro.” What: Sample Swiss-style communal eating via pot o’ cheese and dipping crudités like cornichons, pickled veggies and rustic break. Why: Once lost, now fondue. When: Sun., 5:30-10pm. Where: Beacon Hill.

February 20th: “REDO Décor Kit.” What: Local designers Sarah McGuire and Jody Trail gather intel via mail and phone, then produce a highly detailed, DIY design plan for your room in 4-6 weeks. Why: The flat (imminently reasonable) fee. When: You need a space-lift. Where:

March 7th: “Sugaring Off Tours.” What: Naturalists trace the creation of syrup, from maple tree to sugar house (sampling encouraged.) Why: A hot dog cooked in sap awaits at the end. When: Thru Mar. 20th on Sat. & Sun. Where: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield, MA.

March 14th: “CELEBRATE St. Patrick’s Day.” What: Imbibe classic Irish stouts and choice whiskeys (Red Breast, John Sullivan) in a calm, green beer-free setting. Why: Special menu includes oysters with Guinness mignonette and black and white pudding. When: Weds. 4pm-1am. Where: Drink What, Fort Point, Boston.

March 18th: “INDULGE Chocolate Tasting.” What: Five choc-heavy delicacies (praline krispies, milk chocolate cheesecake) matched with different dessert wine. Why: It’s American Chocolate Week. (Who knew?) When: Tues., 6:30-8pm. Where: Finale, Coolidge Corner.

Now, how does all of this relate to us? Well, Daily Candy has recently begun a Wedding newsletter called “Daily Candy Weddings,” and it’s just as great as the original!! Suggestions include brooch bouquets, wonderful deals on wedding dress trunk shows, bridesmaid dress suggestions, and favor ideas. So check it out, because if not, you are certain to miss out on some creative and unique ideas!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What We Can Learn from the Boston Bridal Show Scam

In the last few days there has been a lot of talk about the bridal expo in Boston that turned out to be a giant scam. Thousands of people were conned out of money by someone who chose to take advantage of them at a time when “starry eyes are accompanied by open wallets,” as AOL News put it, AKA: during an engagement.

The majority of victims, bridal couples, did not lose an overwhelming sum of money, but the real disappointment for them is the rude-awakening amongst their giddy wedding planning dreams. When most people think of wedding planning they envision flowers and cakes and tastings and dances, and not con artists and scammers. The reality, however, is that these people are out there and waiting to take advantage of the clouded mind.

Whether or not you were a victim of the Boston bridal show scam, there is a lesson to be learned to prevent something similar from ever happening to you or ever happening again. You can have that dream wedding planning experience with just a few precautionary steps:

Avoid making deposits online without direct contact with a vendor, or confirmation from a source you trust. For example, in the case of the expo, the venue was provided, so it would be an excellent idea to call the venue to confirm that a bridal event is, in fact, happening. Do this before you sign up for the event, and especially before you make any sort of monetary commitment.

Get it in writing. Bridal shows are not the only place where potential scams lie. As disheartening as it is, you never know who you can trust when it comes to vendors for your wedding following through on what they promise. In order to avoid any confusion or miscommunication, and to assure that you receive what you bargained for, make up a contract that very specifically states what you will receive and for how much money. Both you and the vendor should sign it, and make copies!

Something’s not quite right. We all know that feeling, that nagging sensation that there’s something fishy going on. Your instincts are often right, so trust them! If you feel that you’re being “taken to the bank” by a dress shop or you feel uneasy at all, there are other dress shops! Go with your gut and that alone will often avoid a disappointing outcome.

Comparison shop. “Wow, that’s A LOT to pay for a photographer! Florist! DJ! Limo!” Well, in fact, maybe it is WAY too much to pay them, but if you don’t comparison shop to understand what prices are reasonable, that wannabe Paul Oakenfold might seriously rip you off. Always shop around so that you can go into negotiations with a clear understanding of what is fair to both parties.

Hire a wedding planner! If all of this seems overwhelming to you, that’s understandable. You have a lot on your plate. That’s where a wedding planner can come in tremendously handy. It is the wedding planner’s job, in most cases, to handle all of the contract work, scheduling and details with vendors, so you can make all the fun decisions and leave the nitty-gritty up to him or her!

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