Wedding Planner Calendar

Searching for wedding planning help or local resources? Click here for the most current directory of scheduled bridal shows and wedding events by date and location. You’ll find the most comprehensive list of designer appearances and fun events to attend.

Martha Stewart Weddings has compiled a list of resources to get you started with your wedding plans and help you find local vendors in your neighborhood. There are quite a few trunk shows in February too. Mark your calendars and get ready to have some wedding planning fun!

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Pink and White Wedding LoungeLets talk about food and lots of it! Nontraditional weddings are no longer on the road less traveled. Chic, lounge style receptions are in. Modern brides feature contemporary approaches in every detail of their wedding. Nothing is singled out, including the tasty food stations that compliment their reception style.

Food stations provide an intimate atmosphere allowing the bride and groom, with their families, to interact with guests during the reception. Top notch catering companies garnish food to perfection making it pleasing to the eye taste buds.

Contrasting food stations allow you the flexibility to please a larger crowd and do not limit you to a couple of entrées. Love sushi and Mediterranean cuisines? Have both and more! Arrange a hummus, baba ganush, falafel spread and warm pita chips with tasty dipping sauces.

Indulge your guests with a sushi delight as the chef demonstrates their artistry and creates culinary masterpieces. Include some veggie rolls for guests with shellfish or seafood allergies. Most chefs can make those separately to avoid seafood contamination. I’m keeping my promising and suggesting more than two options.

Who doesn’t like pasta? We’re not talking about spaghetti and meatballs (unless you prefer this of course). Instead, try cheese tortellini, herb pesto, and accompanying Alfredo and marinara sauces.

Tasty Delights for Wedding Guests

The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada - WPIC

Tappas, Risotto and salad stations are delicious too. Carving stations are an elegant addition to any regale and your menu spread will be quite impressive. Throw a little fruit and desserts in the mix!

I encourage you to also serve a few customary selections for the more conservative food enthusiast while incorporating more exquisite items too. Your guests will relish the experience.

Check back next week for more reception dinner ideas. Don’t forget to visit our website at for more wedding planning tips!

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Wedding Reception IdeasMy friends and family are my heart. It brings me much joy to cook and bake and host dinner parties to spend time with those I love. There’s something inviting about the funny conversations during a meal, and the memories that are created.

Often times, you won’t plate each meal when having a family gathering at home. Think of the holiday! Recreate that same ambiance with a family style dinner reception. It’s a great way to combine a plated and buffet dinner approach while guests remain seated (unless they’re dancing of course!).

Food is a great way to spark interesting conversations amongst your guests and get them to mingle. Each entrée is delivered to every table by select catering staff to create a fine dining experience for your family and friends. One head server will describe each dish, the ingredients it contains and how it was especially selected by you, for their enjoyment.

Wedding Reception Chiavari ChairsFamily style dinner receptions are a wonderful way to present more than one entrée. It’s also a less alienating experience for guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions. They will know what they’re able to eat without having to ask if it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, contains nuts, etc.

Ask your wedding caterer about having your own family style dinner reception. Click here for more wedding ideas and design concepts.

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David Tutera Fergie DressBe fashion forward in this season’s chic wedding gowns. The Spring 2012 Bridal Collections are simply fabulous. Trends this season include lace fabrics, floral prints, appliques and headpieces, and illusion necklines. My top favorite is Vera Wang’s Henriette, a very vogue exposition of honeycomb tulle, floating lace, with a horsehair hand-tacked confection skirt.

Whether you’re a modern or vintage bride, trunk shows are wonderful opportunities to find your perfect wedding dress and accessories. Many bridal boutiques host trunk shows and showcase their designers’ newest collections.

If you’re in the Orlando or Boston area, check out the upcoming trunk shows. Your consultation is by appointment only.

Space may be limited. Be sure to call the bridal salon and get your name on the books. Happy shopping!

Maria Elena Trunk ShowJanuary 25th – 29th

The Collection Bridal: 301 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789

Ph: 407.740.6003 –

Anne Barge Trunk Show January 27th – 29th

Solutions Bridal: 4194 Conroy Road, Suite 103, Orlando, FL 32839

Ph: 407.647.4666 –

Monique Lhuillier Trunk ShowFebruary 3rd – 4th

L’elite Bridal and Couture Evening Wear

121 – 123 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Ph: 617.434.1010 –

Jim Hjelm Bridal ShowFebruary 3rd – 4th

South Shore Bridal Boutique

20 Station Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Ph: 781.749.5774 –

Loved this article? Get more wedding planning tools and resources here! Check back next week for more wedding planning tips and inspiration!

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Buffet Dinner At A Wedding ReceptionDuring my fifteen year venture in Corporate America, I had the pleasure of working for a company that valued their employees, treated them like extended family and provided daily lunches in a buffet or family style setting. The CEO would call lunch by yelling “Let’s Eat!” and we‘d all scurry to the break room, grab lunch and gather in the large conference room to enjoy our meal and each other’s company.

Each day, a different restaurant was selected by alternating departments and each employee would excitedly pick something new from the menu. To me, such anticipation and joy resembles the same sentiment couples relish in while creating their carte du jour. Food is exciting, and a tasty opportunity to get your groom engaged in the planning process. Be creative and have fun with your cuisine!

One detail that guests recall about a wedding is the delicious food they enjoyed at your reception. No one likes to be the odd ball out. Dietary restrictions and food allergies are important factors to consider to avoid alienating any guests who may have them. Today’s chefs offer so many variations to traditional menus that are sure to appease the foodies, food critics, picky eaters and vegetarians alike. How you serve dinner can be just as unique.

You’ve probably heard the terms plated dinner, buffet style, food stations and family style dinners while researching catering companies and venues for your upcoming wedding. If you haven’t, that’s ok! We hope that the information you find here helps you make a yummy decision that best suits your wedding style.

A plated dinner reception is one of two traditional dinner options, and a must for a formal wedding. They are also known as a sit down dinner. White glove service raises the bar of elegance while your guests are served at their table.

Food Stations At Wedding ReceptionsBuffet style receptions are another traditional and another classy option. Often times, buffets consists of two entrées, one starch, one vegetable and a salad with dressing. If long lines are your concern, don’t worry. An experienced catering manager will avoid long lines and minimize the amount of time guests have to wait.

Guests will mingle. They will either chat with other guests seated at their table or while waiting to reach the buffet. Guests will also chat while getting a drink at the bar and during the cocktail hour. Some couples elect to have food stations, a more contemporary option and a very fun, interactive one.

Food stations can appease the simplest to most complex pallet. Infuse your wedding cuisine with savory cedar plank smoked salmon, bruschetta, chocolate dipped strawberries and many other decadent foods to provide a true culinary experience for your guests. Mediterranean, Asian, Latin and classic American spreads are delightful too! Providing different cuisines allows your guests to mingle while they circle each different station.

Food stations are absolutely delectable. If you’re looking for a more traditional route, with a mix of cuisines at the dinner table, consider a family style dinner reception. It’s a good mix between a plated and buffet dinner. This style rightfully deserves its name. Think of your family and friends gathering at your dinner table during the holidays and sharing laughter and joy. Let that merriment spill over into your reception. Sweet Reception Treats

Regardless of what you choose, let your reception be a reflection of who you are as a couple. The possibilities are endless! Who doesn’t enjoy a wonderful meal with those we love and cherish?

Loved this article? Get more wedding planning tools and resources here! Check back next week for more reception ideas and inspiration!

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Tips to Help You Plan Your Dream Wedding

Financing the weddingCongratulations, you’re engaged! This is one of the most exciting, romantic and fulfilling times of your life. Enjoy it! You’ll revisit these feelings and memories often. Imagine the great bedtime stories your proposal and wedding day will make for your children!

Sometimes, there’s a lot of stress associated with planning your wedding. With open communication you’ll keep disagreements at bay. In order to keep the stress to a minimum, create and discuss a wedding budget with the key players that will be paying or helping you pay for your wedding (i.e. groom’s parents, bride’s parents, the bride and groom).  Often times, the bride and groom pay for the wedding themselves with little or no help from parents or relatives. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important it is to establish a wedding budget. You’ll thank me later 🙂

Once you and your fiancé have agreed on the total affordable amount you can spend, then you should begin planning your dream wedding within budget. According to The Wedding Report, the average US wedding costs $25,000. Knowing your budget and where to utilize your funds will help you pay for the necessities and some possible wishlist items too.

Smart Wedding Funds
Approximately 48 – 50% of your total wedding budget will be spent on your reception. This applies to your catering, venue, wedding cake, cake cutting set, alcohol and champagne flutes for the bride and groom. Lets break this percentage down a bit further.

The average wedding cake costs $600 for 100 guests. The more intricately detailed the cake is, the more expensive it will be.

Most venues do not charge a rental fee if they provide catering services. However, if catering is  from an outside company, a venue fee can range from $750 – $3600 to rent the space. Most rentals include basic tables and chairs.

Catering is always charged per person. Buffets range from $34.99++ and above depending on the menu you select. Plated dinners range from $54.99++ and above. Other variations are family style meals and buffet stations. These prices vary across the board and depend on the catering company. You’ll often see catering prices listed as ++. Gratuity (often 20% -24%) and local sales tax will be added to the listed price.

4% should be allocated toward your ceremony. Most couples choose to have their ceremony and reception at the same venue to save time and money. But, some couples prefer a church ceremony. That’s OK! There’s a slight difference in what you’ll pay for the ceremony.

If you’re having a church wedding, your ceremony budget should cover the church or temple’s rental fee, your wedding officiant’s donation, altar(s) boy donation and/or gift, altar flowers and decor, pew decor (if any) and a sand ceremony or unity candle set. Most churches also charge a musician or organist fee to hire a designated person to play processional and recessional music for your ceremony.

Many venues have the space for you to hold your ceremony and reception at one location. Most places charge a small fee to cover the setup and breakdown labor incurred for the ceremony. You will still need to cover your officiant’s fee or donation, wedding music, aisle decor, and a sand ceremony or unity candle set. Sometimes, the DJ may play the processional and recessional music at no additional cost as long as they do not need to set up additional equipment. Do not assume all DJ companies will provide additional services for free. You’ll need to ask and discuss logistics with your DJ.

10% of your budget will be spent on you – i.e. wedding dress, veil, shoes, accessories, hair and makeup and your groom’s tuxedo. Thankfully, the groom’s tuxedo rental is often free with a minimum groomsmen rental.

10% is applied towards your beautiful wedding flowers and decor. Your wedding flowers include the bride’s bouquet, all of the bridesmaid’s bouquets, the groom and groomsmen boutonnieres, the corsages for the mother’s and grandmothers and additional boutonnieres for the fathers and grandfathers. Decor may include linen (unless your venue provides it), chair covers, chiavari chairs, and rental items fall into this category.

10% for music includes your DJ and/or a live band or both. Some DJ’s include uplighting and dance lights in their packages. These types of packages are great because you’re able to provide more decor without spending too much extra money.

10% should be the minimum investment for Photography and Videography. They are the two most important vendors you’ll hire to relive your wedding day. You don’t necessarily have to hire a videographer. However, they capture live moments that a photographer cannot. Your memories are priceless!

3% for Stationery includes your Save the Date Cards, wedding invitations, announcements and thank you cards.

3% is a small investment for Transportation. I loved that one of my Orlando clients rented a Mercedes Benz instead of a limo or Rolls Royce. Hertz has always provided our clients with luxury cars at affordable prices. A car rental is a great way to save money. Instead of spending $300 + on a limo or Rolls Royce for a minimum of three hours, you’ll spend a fraction of the cost on a car you’ll have for at least 24 hours. A trusted driver is usually pretty easy to find within your inner circle of friends or family that is not in your bridal party.

We’ve covered the basics of the wedding budget. Other fees to consider are the Hidden Fees that some vendors may charge you. A cake cutting fee is a pretty common one. Yes, a venue may charge you to cut your wedding cake. Some fees are as much as $6 per person. Sounds like you’re paying double for your wedding cake, right? Insurance is another fee that most couples never expect to pay. Some venues and churches require that you purchase a separate liability insurance to protect them and your guests and can cost upwards of $200.

We hope these tips help you plan your dream wedding. Happy Planning! Need more help? Ask the Planner!

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Tell The Whole World With An Engagement Ring

Girls gush over their engagement details while their betrothed often sweat bullets to ask one of the most life changing questions, “Will You Marry Me?”

I still get giddy when reminiscing about my own engagement. My husband proposed to me twice. No, not because I said no the first time (I didn’t by the way). The first proposal was in the middle of one of our many wrestling matches. He didn’t let me win often and that time, he completely distracted me by just popping the question out of no where. Why then you ask? One, my husband cannot keep a secret, and two, it’s very difficult to surprise me. What a great surprise huh?

The second time he proposed was the night before my college graduation. He asked me to marry him again under the Tower at Uptown and placed the most beautiful vintage ring on my finger. Then we danced the night away at Bongo’s Cafe, where some of my closest friends awaited to celebrate with me.

Before purchasing my ring, my husband did a lot of research and learned quite a bit about diamonds. Since I had been oohing over vintage engagement rings for months, I had learned a lot myself. I had to be involved in the ring selection process. Since you now know that I’m a difficult person to surprise, I’m sure this is not a shocker 🙂 It’s not a bad idea to take your fiance along for the experience.

If you’re like Lenny, my husband’s coworker, you prefer to surprise you girlfriend instead. For blog purposes, we changed this hopeless romantic’s name. Lenny is proposing to his girlfriend today, 11.11.11. He asked for advise to shop for the best diamond engagement ring within his budget.

Lenny and his girlfriend have been dating for seven years. They love to travel and have many cherished memories. Eleven is his fiance’s lucky number. What better day to propose than on a day full of luck?

The first thing he said to me was, “I have no clue if I’m getting ripped off!” I advised him that it’s best to visit a reputable jeweler, and understand some of the characteristics that determine a diamonds price and quality.

First things first! Don’t fear the purchase! Diamonds are accessible to everyone! There are 4 C’s to remember when shopping for the perfect engagement ring. They are Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight. Lets begin!

Diamond Cuts and FacetsCut – The Cut of a diamond is often confused with its shape (i.e. princess, round, oval, pear (tear drop), emerald, marquis, radiant and heart shaped). The Cut is relevant to the proportion of the stone’s shape (See left example). A cut and polished diamond has facets. A Facet is the top of the stone. It allows light to enter through the top of the stone and be reflected through the facets again. (See example 1 below).

The bottom of the diamond is called the Pavilion. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the ideal Pavilion cut for a round stone is between 55% – 65% from the Finding the Best Cut Diamond bottom of the diamond. This means that when you’re looking at the stone with the naked eye, the bottom of the stone should not be too flat (See Example 2) or too sharp (See Example 3). Notice how the light reflection is affected?

Color – While diamonds come in many colors, the average person looks for a white Colorless to Light Yellow Diamondsdiamond. Many white diamonds have small  hints of yellow. The GIA rates diamonds from D – colorless to Z – light yellow. It takes years of training to spot the smallest amount of yellow in a diamond without a loupe (magnifier). This type of yellow is not to be confused with a fancy yellow or a Canary Yellow Diamond, a completely different stone classification. The information presented here is primarily for white diamonds. Slight color variations may depend on the stone’s clarity, which takes me to our next point.

Clarity – There are many characteristics and variables to consider when determining a
diamond’s clarity. A flawless diamond has no inclusions and therefore allows more light to be reflected. Many diamonds have some inclusions (imperfections). Diamond Inclusions Examples
These imperfections are a natural part of the stone. Some are visible to the naked eye while others can be seen through a 10x loupe.

Inclusions can be sporadic and may be found anywhere within a diamond. It’s location plays a large role in the stone’s clarity. Inclusions that are closer to the edge of the diamond versus the middle  of the stone allows more light to shine through.

Sometimes metal prongs (hold the stone in place) may hide some of the imperfections that are found closer to the edge of a diamond versus the center of the stone. The more centered the inclusions, the less clarity the stone will have. Sometimes inclusions may make a stone look cloudy.

Best Way To Look At A DiamondIt’s best to look at loose diamonds (not on the ring). This allows you to view the diamond in 3D from every angle. Cracked or chipped diamond should always be avoided. These types of flaws weaken the stone. As you look through a few stones, you’ll begin to notice each diamond’s unique characteristics and values between the different shapes and sizes.

Carat Weight – The carat weight is probably the most common C in regards to diamonds. It’s not always the most important C to consider when shopping for the perfect ring. In the diamond industry, a diamond’s size is referred to as 1 Carat, 1 and a 1/12 Carat and so forth. 1 Carat Engagement RingIf the engagement ring has accent diamonds, your jeweler will advise you on the total carat weight, including the accent diamonds and center stone. In some cases, the accent diamonds will weigh less than a carat each but add over 1 carat to the total carat weight of the ring.

Does size matter? According to the GIA, two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other three characteristics of a diamond’s 4Cs: clarity, color, and cut. When shopping for a white diamond, decide what’s important to you and balance your diamond’s clarity and carat weight. Don’t purchase a diamond just because it’s bigger!

Most women love a beautiful, sparkly diamond. Your soon to be fiancé will cherish her engagement ring for years because it’s your expression of love and commitment. Select a diamond that has the least amount of inclusions within the carat weight you desire but also within your budget.

When you begin shopping for the perfect engagement ring, you’ll have
the opportunity to see many settings for the diamond you select. Unless your girlfriend is as helpful as I was, you’ll need some guidance. I always hinted that my dream wedding ring would be vintage with a princess cut diamond. I may have hinted that a few times during the holidays, birthdays and maybe even dinner. Since I had no clue when my sweetheart would propose, I kept mentioning it whenever possible.

On the other hand, some girls don’t give out many hints. Do your homework! Need help? Don’t be afraid to ask your girlfriend’s mom, sister, or best friend for assistance, unless they can’t keep a secret. Sidekicks will be a wealth of information and a great help to gather information (i.e. her ring size). They may also know what style engagement ring your girlfriend has been dreaming about since she was a little girl. While you were playing GI Joe with your friends, paying no mind to your future nuptials, your girlfriend was probably planning her dream wedding years in advance.

Engagement Rings that SparkleThere are many beautifully shaped diamonds to choose from. The round, brilliant diamond cut is one of the most popular engagement stones. The princess, round and oval cut diamonds are also popular. These are timeless pieces. Other shapes include heart, pear, marquise, cushion, asscher, emerald and radiant cuts. The stone you select is a matter of preference and what fits within your selected setting (ring).

Lastly, there’s a little secret you may want to consider. Diamonds and engagement rings are more expensive from November through February. These months are peak engagement season with the holidays and Valentine’s Day being popular dates to Pop the Question. Princess cut diamonds may be pricier too. This doesn’t mean they are not attainable.

Education is a powerful tool to have before purchasing an engagement ring. Do some research and don’t feel rushed to purchase a ring. You’ll want to love your purchase! For more shopping tips and information, check out Blue Nile, a great diamond resource.

Pictures and additional resources were found at The Four C’s of Diamonds and the Gemological Institute of America.

Do you remember that exact moment when you knew she was the one? How did you ask for her hand in marriage? Need help with the proposal? Click here!

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