Budget Tip #3 – FREE wedding catalogs with special offers

There are some wonderful on-line catalog companies for wedding planning.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • MagnetStreet.com – Wedding invitations, stationery, save the dates, programs, favors and more.  They are offering a 10% discount with the promo code “WCATALOG10” until 2/7/13.
  • BridesVillage.com – Wedding Accessories & Attendants’ gifts.  They offer free shipping on orders of $55 or more.
  • JessicasWeddings.com – Wedding gifts for groomsmen, bridesmaids and the entire wedding party.  They are offering 15% on orders of $95 or more until 2/1/13.
  • WrappedHersheys.com – Who doesn’t love chocolate!  They offer a great selection of chocolate Hershey bars with custom covers.  They are giving free shipping on orders of $99.00 or more until 1/31/13.
  • PersonalCreations.com – Here’s a great assortment of gift ideas.  Champagne Flutes, Personalized Afghans, Frames, Hurricane Candle Holders, Character Platters and lots and lots of goodies.
  • ExclusivelyWeddings.com – Just about anything you might desire can be found here.  Get a free 116 page catalog upon request.

What qualities does a good DJ have?

Bray_Wed_Fav-211The most important thing for a DJ at a wedding is to keep the music upbeat and keep the crowd interested.  And, it’s really hard to do when you consider the diversity of the guests at weddings.  An experienced DJ will have built up a collection of music that works for all ages and he tends to follow certain patterns, such as five fast songs, three slow songs, or perhaps using two or three songs from one genre at a time.  The best practice is to have the most popular music for multiple genres.

Your DJ should be very outgoing, well spoken, and have the ability to read the crowd.  How they present themselves to you is usually a good indication of how serious the DJ takes his business.  Look at their web site and see if it presents quality information in selecting your special music, scheduling the night, etc.  In most cases, the wedding couple will select about five to eight must have songs for the special events, perhaps provide a few songs in the do not play list, and then it is really the DJ’s job to select the remaining songs.  The DJ also must be able to communicate well with the photographer, keeping him/her informed in advance of events and activities.

Most DJs tell me that a typical wedding accommodates about 60-80 songs for the dance portion of the night.  Good communication between you and the DJ is the start of a great night.  Some couples do like to have songs from a unique genre such as all country – perhaps to accompany the theme of the wedding, but in most cases, you are best to leave it up to the DJ as he understands the crowd’s reaction and what songs to play to get the best results.

Have a sense of humor? Get a groom’s cake

The groom’s cake originated in the South, and although some see it as an unnecessary expense, the groom’s cake has made a big comeback.  Originally the groom’s cake was meant to be a gift from the bride to the groom and is typically representative of the groom’s hobbies or interests.  The groom’s cake should reflect the groom’s personality and/or sense of humor.  Brides tend to get creative from golf bags, to fish, to tractors, to cowboy boots, to airplanes, to the MU Stadium and just about anything you can imagine.  Each groom’s cake is very unique.  The whole idea of the groom’s cake is to give the groom something special for the big day as well.

Traditionally the groom’s cake is a smaller cake displayed next to the bride’s cake and is later cut into pieces for guests to take home.  Boxed slices of groom’s cake can serve as wedding favors as well.

Thanks to Laura Wright, Sugar & Spice Bakery, for these wonderful examples.

   Laura-sugarnspicebakeryBaseball BSL










Laura_SugarnSpiceBakeryAirplane BLog





Laura_SugarNSpicebakeryDog BSL










Laura_SugarNSpiceBakeryMU bsl











Are you searching for the perfect wedding dress?

Wed_Gal_12-10-29 Web Size










Once you have that ring on your finger, the quest begins for the “perfect” wedding dress.  After all, you want to look amazing for your walk down the aisle.  Before you begin, let’s review a few guidelines.

Start EARLY. Get started early so you don’t cut it too close to your wedding day.  In most situations you want to allow 9 to 12 months in advance.  This allows plenty of time for your dress to arrive and alterations to be made.

Shop with Bridal Vendors that offer FULL SERVICE.  Their experience is invaluable in helping you find a gown that flatters your body type.   It’s great to have an idea of what you want before you begin, but do consider a shop’s recommendation of various styles.  They know what’s “in” and what styles would look good on your body shape. Wear the right undergarments – the ones that you will wear with your gown.

And finally, this is for you brides on a very, tight budget.  Don’t worry – there are ways to have your beautiful dress and still not break the bank.  Check these out:

  • Military Veterans & Free Dresses:Select Bridal shops in the area promote this event in November around Veteran’s Day.Free Dresses are available to brides of active duty military servicemen and women.
  • Running of the Brides:Go to Filene’s Basement “Running of the Brides” sale – usually held in late July.Filene’s is located in Chicago at 1 North State Street.They usually have over 1700 gowns priced from $249 to $699 – (originally priced as high as $9000).  Bring along a support team and be ready to fight for your dress.
  • Eva’s Midwest Room in ChicagoYes it’s out of our area – but they have hundreds of dresses which can be taken home theday of purchase.  They feature over 60 designers and thousands of dresses.  This is a greatplace for weddings with a short planning period.
  • White ChicagoLove couture but hate the price?  Here you can find sample and “once wed” dresses.They carry designers such as Olge Cassini, Reem Acra, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang andmore.  Call first, as you will need an appointment.
  • Locally Check out Whatzenstore.  They bought out a bridal shop and have a few remaining dresses at significantly reduced prices.  Check our “Bridal Fashions” wedding resource guide for contact information.One of the best places to go for Plus Size Wedding Dresses is Syndey’s Closet as they have a large selection of Size 18 dresses to try on.   (Check in the Wedding Resource Guide for contact information.)  And finally, ask your preferred store if they have “special” discounted gowns available.  Many of the stores offer older stock at discounted prices.

Do you have a great find?  Share back with all our brides to be.  And have fun, and enjoy the experience




How much do you know about that diamond in your ring?

Lots of ladies are flashing some beautiful diamonds, as this period of time– from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day — brings out the nesting urge in guys.  Diamonds are made from the mineral carbon – and yes that’s the same mineral that you find in pencils.  However, when the carbon is placed under high extreme pressure and temperature, the diamond is created.

When you go to purchase a diamond, keep in mind the four C’s – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat (or weight).  All those factors determine the value of your particular diamond.












Cut refers to the shape of the diamond.  The traditional “round cut” is the most well known diamond shape.  That cut is also known by the name “brilliant” as that cut reflects the whitest light back to your eye.  There are other shapes which you might have heard of including Marquise, Oval, Pear Shape, and Princess Cut.

Color is based on a letter scale starting at D and progressing through Z.  D is considered completely colorless, and as you progress to Z, there is more yellow to the stone.  And, unfortunately, as the color moves up the alphabet, the value declines.  There are exceptions.  A “Z” color stone, whereby the diamond clearly appears yellow, is now considered “Fancy Yellow” and is a current trend.  And, finally, there are other diamonds in other colors like pink and blue and they are very valuable  – thus, very expensive.

Clarity refers to how many imperfections there are in the stone.  The F scale is Flawless – and that’s the top of the scale.   Other  scales range from IF (internally flawless) down to  I1,I2, I3.  Most will fall somewhere between these two scales.

The last consideration is Carat Weight and that is the measuring scale by which diamonds are weighed.   In a 1.00 carat diamond there are 100 points, a .75 carat diamond would have 75 points, etc.

These are all good facts to keep in mind, when shopping for your wedding set.  Now you can shop with confidence.  And if some of you ladies are still waiting for your ring, give your guy this post.  (Hint, Hint!)

What to Wear for Your Engagement Session

With the new year it’s time to welcome a new group of newly engaged couples who will begin their wedding journey.   Besides setting a date and a budget, many couples, especially if the wedding has a short planning period, want to get their engagement photos early in the process.  Generally, I suggest scheduling your engagement session at least six weeks prior to the date you want to mail your announcements.  And earlier than that if you are sending out Save the Date cards and want to personalize them.

A question that many couples have concerning their engagement photos is “What to wear?”  Engagement photos should reflect who you are and what you love.  So if you love casual jeans and a more relaxed look, go for it.  If you’re a fashionista, just be sure that both of you have outfits that match your level of dress.  Wear clothes that are complimentary.  Your personality and style will greatly influence your choice of clothing, but keep it simple.

Having talked to several photographers, here are a few other guidelines for you to keep in mind.












What’s Good:

Wear solid colors with little or no pattern. Avoid prints and stripes as well.   If you both want to wear the same color, try different shades or varying hues.

Dark colors are always slimming.  Many couples like blue jeans and black shirts.  And gals, a cute dress is always a good way to go.

Keep in mind your body type.  Anything baggy will make you look bigger than you are.  And jersey material will cling to your body, and may reveal unflattering curves.  Also avoid tight fitting clothes that accentuate every curve of your body – unless that’s the look you are going for.

The layered look is great for almost anyone.  Casual jackets, sweaters, etc. would be perfect.

Gals can jazz up their outfits with cute heels, a terrific hat, or other accessories.

And speaking of accessories, bring along fun signs, maybe other personal items like a guitar, or even your dog…if these items are part of who you are.  And you guys with a motorcycle, don’t be shy about getting a few photos with your bike.

The engagement period can be one of the happiest and most romantic time of your life, and your photos should reflect that casual, crazy, fun-loving attitude.