Saturday, May 20, 2017

How to Use Customized Stamps for your Wedding

With everyone looking to customize their weddings, a customized stamp is a great way to help carry your theme throughout your Wedding.   They are easy to use and make your DIY projects easy as pie. They can be used from your the save the dates, to your final Thank you notes.  

These are perfect for welcome bags.

Customized Water Bottles

Favor Bags

Thank you Notes.

There are 100 ways to use these in your projects.  They cost anywhere from $10-$40 depending on the design.  I would suggest going with a rubber stamp as opposed to a self-inking stamp, so that you can change the colors that you use easier.

Happy Planning!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ask CW: Engagement Parties

Lots of Engagement Party questions.

Dear CW

My parents would like to throw my fiancee and I an engagement party.  I have never been to one, so I am not sure of how it should be done, or who should be invited.  Also, what do you do an engagement party?

~Not Sure Where to Start


Relax.  Engagement parties are easy to plan.  First of all you should work with your parents to create a guest list.  There is only one rule, do not invite anyone to party that will not be invited to the Wedding.  Talk to your parents about the size that you both are comfortable with.  It can also be as formal or in-formal as you like, cocktail party to backyard bbq.  As far as what happens at a engagement party, there is alot of mingling, and toasts to the happy couple.  Make sure to toast your parents to thank them.

Dear CW

My husband and I have just been invited to a dear friend's daughter's engagement party.  It is going to be a cocktail party at a local country club.  Do we bring a gift, or just offer our congratulations to the couple?

~Gift or No Gift

Dear GNG

Gifts are not expected (or should not be) expected at an engagement party.  A nice card, and face to face congratulations are all that are required.

Dear CW

I am getting remarried in the fall.  My sister would like to host a garden engagement party for us this summer.  Is this appropriate?

~Second Time Around

Dear STA

It is absolutely appropriate.  It's a wonderful way for you to the jitters out about having a second Wedding while celebrating with family and friends.

A couple of side notes:

~While most guests will not bring a gift to the engagement party, some will, these should be followed up with a in person Thank you at the event and a handwritten Thank you after.

~Engagement parties are not mandatory Wedding events, and most couples do not even have one.  Don't stress out if no one plans one for you.  Your Wedding is not ruined.

~Just as presents are not necessary, favors are not necessary for guests either.  Although, it would be fun to give them a hint about the Wedding theme/location.

More questions.  Drop me a email or a tweet (@cyndic88) and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Happy Planning!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grooms - How to Surprise Your Bride on Your Big Day

Most Grooms, remember I said most, have no idea what the flowers are going to look like or who is seated at what table (or why) on their Wedding days.  They don't dream of how their Wedding will be the biggest day or their lives or the perfect dress.  But, your Bride does.

The day of your Wedding, she will be nervous.  Will my hair turn right, will it rain?  So many what if's and hope not's running through her head.  Let's throw in some surprises to make her day even more special.

Send Her Breakfast

Whether she is staying at a hotel or with her parents, order her favorite breakfast.  This will make sure that she eats, and will start her day off right.

Pay for the Hair and Makeup

Reach out to her beauty team a couple of weeks before the wedding and give them a credit card.  Tell them to surprise her when she goes to pay the bill.

Send Her a Note

Romantic.  Simple.  Write her a note telling her how this the best day of your life and how you cannot wait to see her walk down the aisle.  Send it one your guys to the room where they are getting ready, you can add a small gift.  But the note is what she will remember.

Toast Her

Talk to the DJ or the Wedding Planner and have them set aside some time during the toasts or maybe right before you cut the cake where you toast her.  Thank her for what she means to you and all the hard work she put in to make sure you had the best first day of the rest of your lives.

Plan a Secret Honeymoon

Plan a honeymoon that she doesn't know about.  Tell her what to pack and then on the way to the airport let her in on the surprise.  Another great trick is upgrade your tickets from coach to first class.

These things will not be meant with anxious, nervous yelling or crying they will all be appreciated and you will be the hero.

Happy Planning

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Graduation Parties Made Easy

Spring is a busy time of year.  Mother's Day, Graduations, Father's Day, and Weddings.  

Here is out guide to make planning that graduation party planning alittle easier on you.

Where to have it?

Typically it is easier to hold these parties at home.  Alot of times graduation parties are more like open houses, since there a couple hundred of them going on around the same time.  The backyard is a great place to house this, add a tent and some tables are you are ready to go.

When should it be?

Since graduations are typically head on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, think about having it on the alternate day  (so Saturday if on the graduation is on Sunday).  It is perfectly acceptable to hold it the day before, or even the weekend after.  I would caution against having it right after the ceremony.  That is a time for family to celebrate with a special dinner.  Try to gauge when others are holding their parties and find a day that is not packed with other events.

What to serve?

Graduation parties are all about the mingling so I always suggest finger foods, or foods that can be eaten by hand.  You don't need to worry about serving a whole meal, it is likely that your guests will probably have another party to go to.  Make it easier on yourself and order the veggie and cheese trays.  Think about wraps, and sliders.  Use paper products to make clean up easier.  


The theme of this party is easy.  Your graduate!  Decorate in the colors of their school.  Complete the decorations with pictures and symbols (certificates, medals) of their achievements.     Below are the decorations my sister (and nephew) designed at made for his party!

Think Outside of the Box

Surprise your grad with a food truck to feed their friends.  Although this is not cheap (typically this will start at $600 - $1500 depending on the menu), it will score you big points!

Create a photo booth for the party.  It's easy.  Hang up a plastic tablecloth (you can find these at the party supply store, or even the dollar store), and then put out a selection of silly hats, sunglasses are feather boas.  They will have a blast taking pictures and sharing them.

Good Luck and Happy Planning!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Survive Your Bridal Shower

Let's talk alittle etiquette today.

Some of us are more comfortable being behind the scenes and not out in front of the camera.  This can make your Bridal Shower terrifying.  Others dread making conversation with people they see on the Holidays and feel like they don't have much in common with.  This will help you to survive your bridal shower regardless of what group you fit into, and even if you are somewhere in the middle.

The history of bridal showers are to prepare a young woman, leaving her parents house, to be a good wife.  Stock her up on kitchen appliances and bath towels if you will.  Well, times have changed.  Many brides (myself included when I was one) thought that it was selfish to have a bridal shower.  I was older, I had established a home many years before, and I had bath towels (I probably still have some of them!).  My mother had a good point.  This a way for the all the females in your life to get together and celebrate your marriage.  I was in.  At that point I wasn't so focused on what I was getting, but what I would be getting out of it.  So my first point is RELAX, this is supposed to be fun.

Who should come?  Whoever you want, as long as they are invited to the Wedding.  No one should be invited to the shower if they are not invited to the Wedding.  Give your Bridal Party a list (with addresses) of who you want to be invited.

What to wear.  Some points to consider is the venue, if it is themed and the season.  Also, keep in mind, showers are typically decorated in the colors of the wedding, so wear something color compatible.  Wear something comfortable, because depending on the size of the shower, you will be sitting in front of everyone (sorry, I don't mean to freak you out) opening presents for while.  So wear something comfortable.

Take a ton of pictures with people.  Create a #hashtag.  Flood Instagram and Facebook.

Smile.  Alot.  Even if you are uncomfortable.  Smile.

Develop some conversation starters.  For instance, Aunt Sally do you remember that lemon cake that Grandma used to make?  Do you have the recipe?  Others.  Thank you so much, how was your trip?  How are your child/grandchildren?  Talk about the weather.

tOpen your presents.  There was a trend for awhile where people didn't open their presents.  People want to see you open the present that they picked out for you.  Make the paper plate bouquet.  I know it's super corny, but you will be glad you did it.

Say THANK YOU alot.  Thank you for coming.  Thank you for the homemade tea towels.  Thank you, it really means alot to me that you could come.

Play the games.  I know, play the games.

If you need a minute, take a minute.  If you find yourself getting overwhelmed simply excuse yourself, and walk down the hall, hide in it a bedroom.  Take some deep breaths, and sneak back in.

Couple of quick other things.

- Do Not have your guests address their own Thank you notes.  I hate this and I don't fill them out when I am asked.  I went and picked out a present for you, you can write my address.

-Thank everyone again as they walk out the door.  Hug them.

-If your Bridal Party is not the host, say your Aunt throws the party, send her flowers the following week to Thank (are you sensing a theme yet) her for her kindness.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Entertainment: DJ vs Band

How could this not want you to have a Wedding band?
***Disclaimer:  I have never been to a Wedding that had a band.  I know, sad.  I have been to other events with bands and I think they are great.   

But they really do get the party started.

Factors to Consider:

How much room do you have?   
Are there enough outlets?

Your venue coordinator should be able to answer these concerns.  They will be able to tell you how well it works with the space.

While there is not much that is unique about having a DJ, a band will cost about 3 times the price of one.

If you decide on a band...

Make sure you hear them live.  Audition tapes are edited.
Make sure they are willing to learn new material in case you have a special first song.
Ask about a cancellation policy.  What will they do for you if they cannot make it?
Talk to them about "Key People" - say they have a rocking singer, do they guarantee them for your date?

Questions to Ask for either....

Can you make a playlist?  What about a do not play list?
References, and check them.
Cancellation Policy.  If you go with a large DJ company, they probably have a back up.
Lighting?  What lighting do they bring with them, or what do they require?
How many hours do they provide for a standard fee?  Overtime Charges?
Will they be the "Master of Ceremony" - introduce the first dance, etc...
Do they have any equipment requirements they need you to handle?

This will get you started.

Happy Planning!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Favorite Place to Find Event Vendors

Do not let the name fool you.  Wedding Wire is more than Wedding vendors.  Well, they are all Wedding Vendors, but this is a great resource to find local vendors.  It is also a great place to find unique venues.  Brides will also love the forums.

My favorite part is that most of the vendors I have a ball figure for what they charge, and even some breakdown on individual items; for example florist would list the range of what they would charge for a large table arrangement.  This can help in the early days of budgeting.

Happy Planning!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Organized Bride

The best thing that the Bride can be in the months leading up to her Wedding is organized.  Honestly, read all the articles you want but the best advice is to be organized.  Have all your ducks in a row, know who needs to be where when, makes a world of difference.

The best place to start is with a binder.  Now, you can go out and buy one of these expensive binders to help you stay organized, or you can make your own.  I really prefer the make your own method, because you can have all the tabs you want breaking categories down into sub sections for all the balls you will have up in the air.

Get yourself to the office supply store, you will need a binder (in your colors), 3 ten packs of tabs, a 3 hole punch, sheet protectors, and business card holder sheets.  You might also want to go to the craft store to make it pretty.

Suggestion Tabs:

To-Do (I would suggest creating a master list with due date, print out a copy each week)
Planning Timeline
     Dresses and Tuxes
Bridal Party
Ceremony (include venue information)
    Table Decor
Day After (brunch)
Day of Itinerary
Guest List (spreadsheet with an RSVP column, print out a new copy each week)
Hotel (Block and Welcome Bag)
Music (Ceremony/Cocktail Hour)

This is just to get your started.  Add tabs you think you will need as they come up.  In these tabs keep vendor contracts, menus, things you have torn out from magazines.  Everything you think that you might or do need.  Take it everywhere with you, wear it out.

You can do this.

Happy Planning


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ask CW: How to Include Step-Parents in your Wedding

We get alot of questions from readers, we try to help where we can.
Dear CW:  My parents have been divorced since I was young.  They have both remarried wonderful people who have become an important part of my life.  I want to honor ‘all’ of my parents, but I do not want my biological parents to feel like I’ve diminished their role in our Wedding.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can include them?
~Lots of Parents
Dear Reader:  What a wonderful problem to have.  May I make a suggestion?  Communication will be the key to no hurt feelings in this situation.  Please have a discussion with each set of parents early in the planning process and ask them if they would like to participate in the Wedding, and what role they would like to play.  Also, update them throughout the process so there are no surprises come the big day.   
Many brides have their step father walk them half way up the aisle and their father walk them to remaining path to the altar.  If this is something you would like to do speak to both of them and make sure they are both comfortable.  I would also recommend, that the question “Who gives this woman to be married” is answer with “Her parents and I”.  Another wonderful way to honor both sets of parents would be to bring flowers to all the Mothers during the ceremony, while the pianist plays.
At the reception, the ‘fathers’ could share the father's dance or if you're fiancĂ©e also has a stepmother you could have 2 Father/Mother songs where you both dance with your step parents.   This would be after you have danced with your father and him with his mother.  Both fathers can also give toasts.

Be mindful to set aside some time while you are preparing for day with each of the mothers, and pictures should also include both sets, individually and together.
Have a question for us?  Drop us a line at: and we will help if  we can!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wedding Budget Breakdown 2017

Let's start with this figure.  The average Wedding in 2017 cost $35,329.  Let that sink in.

Now let's break that down in the average cost per category in your budget.


The biggest expense.  48% - 50% of the budget an estimated $16,957 to $17,664

  • Food, including appetizers, dinner, cake, and midnight snack
  • Venue Rental
  • Open Bar

Influencing Factors:  size of your guest list, serving style (sit down, stations, family style)
Where to save $$: consider dropping or down sizing the midnight snack, close the open bar an opt for wine service only during dinner


The most important expense.  10-12% of the budget an estimated $3,532- $4,239
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Photo Booth for Reception
Influencing Factors:  the number of hours both are on site, photo package
Where to save $$: don't skimp here, if you need savings skip the photo booth


The prettiest expense.  8-10 % of the budget an estimated $2,826 - $3,232
  • Ceremony Flowers
  • Reception Flowers (Centerpieces)
  • Family Flowers 
  • Wedding Party Flowers
  • Brides Bouquets (one to carry, one to throw)
  • Pew Bows, pew decorations
Influencing Factors:  size of wedding party, amount of flowers
Ways to save $$: limit who in the family gets flowers, stick with immediate; re-use ceremony flowers as decorations at the reception, consider making your own pew bows


The best expense to shop for.  8-10 % of the budget, $2,826 - $3,232
  • Brides Dress(es)
  • Groom's Clothing
Influencing Factors: theme of dress(es)
Where to save $$:  consider only have one dress (think removable train), rent all the tuxes from one place, typically the Groom's will be free


Get the party started expense. 8-10 % of the budget, $2,826 - $3,232 

This mainly just covers your DJ or band.  Unless of course you are planning on having a clown at your reception.  

Influencing Factors:  length of the reception, how long you will have them play
Where to save $$: Provide your own music (think Ipod) during the cocktail hour and dinner


Getting to the Church on time expense.  2-3% of the budget, $706-$1,059
  • limo, to the venue, from the venue to the hotel
Influencing Factors:  size of limo, party bus needed
Where to save $$: see if the hotel has a shuttle to pick the wedding party up 


The 'I do' expense. 2-3% of the budget, $706 - $1,059

The most important part has one of the smallest budget lines.  This will include the donation that the church will require.  If you are getting married at the same venue you are holding the reception the there should not more that a minimal cost, if any.


The everything else expense .  8-10 % of your budget, $2,826 - $3,532
  • Wedding Party Gifts
  • Stationary: Invitations, programs, Thank you notes, postage
  • Rings
  • Licenses
  • Hotel welcome bags
  • Favors
Influencing Factors: Quality of stationary, size of Wedding party
Where to save $$: only send save the date cards to out of town guests, put the welcome bags together yourself

Of course these are all just averages, you may choose to save alittle money here, spending alittle more over there.  Over the coming months we will dig even deeper into all these categories and help you decide where you want to spend and where you want to save.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions -

Happy Planning!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dinner Options for your Event

The biggest line item in any event biggest is food.  Feeding a group of 100 - 200 is always a challenge.  It is also a challenge because you want to feed everyone a good meal, and you want to stay with in your budget.  That being said, there are alot different options when it comes to feeding your guests.  Below we break each dining option down, to help you make a more informed decision.

Family Style: Large bowls of the entree(s) and side dishes are passed around each table.

Pro:  Imitate and causal dining experience
Pro:  Guest interaction is high
Pro:  Cost is generally lower, decreased wait staff.
Con: Large bowls and platters, decrease room for table decoration
Con: Not offered by all catering companies or venues.

Sit-Down:  Guests are served complete dinners by wait staff.

Pro: Offered by all venues.
Pro: Dinner timing is more controlled, no one up getting seconds.
Con: Meals are often cold on arrival.
Con: No variation in dinners.
Con: Depending on size of party, more expensive due to larger wait staff.

Buffet: Foods are served on long tables, guests serve themselves.

Pro: Pricing, less wait staff.
Pro: Menu is completely
Con: Takes a long to feed guests.
Con: Food is often cold.
Con: Guests serve themselves.

Stations:  Foods are served in stations position around the reception, guests serve themselves.

Pro: Variety of foods can be offered.
Pro: Dinner stations can be converted to Dessert stations.
Pro: Guests start at different stations, avoiding lines, and deceasing serving times.
Con: Dinner timing is looser, guests mingling, getting seconds.
Con: Guests serve themselves.

Discuss each option with your venue or caterer.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How to Plan your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

My suggestion when it comes to planning your Rehearsal Dinner is to have fun.  By the time the rehearsal dinner comes around, all the planning and to-do lists are done.  All you have to do, is get a good night's sleep and show up the next day.  The night before should be fun and relaxing and time to really visit some of your family and out of town guests. Let's get started.

Where to have it.

Wedding Rehearsals dinners can be held almost anywhere.  The bar you where you meant.  The hotel you are the guests are staying at.  The bowling alley down the street from the hotel you are staying at.  There are really no 'rules' expect for it needs to fit all the people you want to invited and there is a way for you to feed them, and get them a drink.

Budget Friendly?  Think about hosting (or asking your parents) to host the dinner at their house.  Maybe a cook out or a pizza party.

Worried about guests getting lost?  Talk to the hotel you holding your events at, or where you guests are staying at, and see if they would be willing to help you secure a room and a light dinner menu.

Who is going to pay for it.

Traditionally the Grooms parents pay for the dinner.  The trend is moving to couples paying for this themselves.  If you are planning on paying for it, remember to make sure it is part of your budget.

Who gets invited.

Again, there are very few rules.  The must invites are all of those participating in the Wedding and their families, this includes the officiant.  You will want to invited your immediate family that is not in the Wedding, but in town for the Wedding.

You can also think about inviting out of town guests, but if you invite one, you invite all of them. If that isn't in the budget, think about holding alittle after party at the hotel to visit with the out of town guests.

Do We send Invitations to the Wedding Rehearsal?

You can.  It's a cute idea, especially for those you are inviting who are not participating in the Wedding.  I would suggest sending 2 sets, one for those that need to be at the Rehearsal and those who are only invited to the dinner.  Check with the stationer that you are purchasing your invitations from, they should be able to create some postcard invitations for you, these are perfectly acceptable.

Do not post the Wedding Rehearsal or the Dinner information on your Wedding website or Facebook site.  That is unless you are prepared for extra guests.

What do I wear to my Rehearsal Dinner?

I would prefer that you do not wear jeans to a church.  I would say the dress code, depending on where you are having the dinner, should be driven by the venue the ceremony is in.  If you are headed to a fancy restaurant you may want to dress more formal.  Most rehearsals are pretty causal, so I would say business causal for men, and causal dresses for the ladies.

What do you do at the Wedding Rehearsal Dinner.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Talk.  Visit.  Pass out Bridal Party gifts.  This is a great time for funny toasts and stories.  Relax.

My one last piece of advice is this.  Have a designated start and end time.  The next day is going to be busy.

Happy Planning!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Asking for Money at your Wedding

My real opinion about this?  

Don't do it.

No Dollar Dance.
No Honeymoon Fund Jar.
No Dollar Tree.
No Vote with dollars to encourage cake smashing.
None of it.


Because we ask alot of guests.  The majority of guests have attended (and purchased a gift for) at least one pre-wedding event; bridal shower, engagement party, bachelor/bachelorette party.  Some of them have travelled, are spending a night in a hotel.  They have given you a present for your wedding.  

All for you.  Do not ask them for more.

If you cannot afford a honeymoon because of the cost of your wedding, take one in 6 months.  I always encourage couples to budget for their honeymoon in their initial budget.  Will it be the honeymoon of your dreams, maybe not, but you have a lifetime of anniversary trips when there will be more money for those dream vacations.

Not worth it.

The amount of money you will make from these activities will not make it worth the annoyance you will cause to your guests, and it will not even cover dinner one night in Costa Rica. 

Also, don't have a cash bar.  People really hate this.  I have been at a wedding where people talked a group of people into leaving early and going to bar where the drinks were cheaper.  Many of us followed.

My best advice is to plan what you can afford.  If you cannot afford a open bar, dinner (yep, same cash bar wedding), or your honeymoon, maybe it time to re-evaluate your budget line items.  Your guests will appreciate an open bar over a midnight taco truck any day.  Make these decisions early in the process to include them in the budget.  Make a priority list and put your money towards those line items.

Remember, you want your wedding to leave a lasting impression on your guests.  You don't want that impression to be 'I should have brought more dollar bills.'

Happy Planning!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top Wedding Trends for 2017

Welcome 2017!  Wow, those last couple of weeks for 2016 were something weren't they?  Well, vacations are over, time to throw out the leftovers and get down to business this year.

We want to talk today are trends we will see in weddings this year.


My favorite subject.  Cakes are trending back to the big tall cakes of the past, with a bit of a twist,  white layers will be paired with metallic layers that give a dramatic display.  They are beautiful, almost too good to eat!

The other big trend is to move away from the candy and sweet tables and move towards sweets stations!  Think a station for pie, and a station for cookies (maybe one for ice cream).  Move away from the make your own Smores bars and decorate your own cupcake stations.  People want to pick up there desserts and dance away!  Now if we could just get chocolate fountains to make a come back, I will be too happy for words!

Hanging Centerpieces

I love these.  I truly do.  They are lush centerpieces of greenery, flowers and light that hang down over the tables at reception.  While I'm not completely sure how this trend is will translate in a larger ballroom with high ceilings, but these work wonderfully in small halls, and backyard weddings.


Custom pairings are going to big for cocktail hours this year.  Think small glasses of beer passed with tiny sliders, or min-margaritas with small tacos.  These are unique and will keep your guests talking all through the night.


Pink is back!  Woot Woot!!!  I think that is all that I need to say, pink makes a great accent color.

I have gather up several examples of these trends on my 2017 Wedding Trends board.

CW - 2017

Happy Planning!