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A Sense Of Place January 24, 2017

Destination weddings have become popular for a variety of reasons, but not all couples can jet off to an exotic locale for their nuptials. Sometimes budget and logistical restraints make a destination wedding unfeasible. But couples who are still dreaming of a picturesque wedding at an exciting destination need not despair; they can bring the "destination" home. There are plenty of ways for a wedding celebration to incorporate inspiration drawn from a faraway place, whether it's a favorite vacation spot, the location of the planned honeymoon trip, or simply somewhere the couple dreams of visiting. Here are a few examples of how brides and grooms can translate a sense of place into the decorations, attire, cuisine, entertainment, and other elements of their special day.


A wedding that draws inspiration from the Hawaiian Islands' legendary beaches, lush vegetation, and well-known tiki culture will offer a fun, comfortable vibe.

Flowers - Select tropical flowers such as orchids, birds of paradise, or hibiscus for the bouquets of the bride and bridesmaids. Skipping the bouquets and having each member of the wedding party wear a floral lei would also be particularly appropriate, since leis are traditionally given in Hawaii in honor of important events - including weddings.

Decorations - For centerpieces, opt for tropical flowers or potted mini palm trees or embrace island kitsch and decorate tables with vintage hula dancer dashboard dolls. Turn a surfboard into a functional decoration by affixing photos or table assignments to it like a bulletin board. Or, turn a surfboard into an innovative guest book alternative by inviting guests to write their warm wishes for the couple directly onto the board with a permanent marker. If your wedding is outdoors, play up the tropical ambiance by ringing the space with tiki torches.

Food and beverages - One sip of a mai tai will transport attendees straight to the Aloha State. Guava and pineapple juice make for tasty nonalcoholic options. A pig roast will play up the luau feel of the reception, and pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and other tropical fruit can be incorporated into the menu. Coconut and Kona coffee flavors will also make guests feel like they're dining in a tropical paradise. For dessert, opt for pineapple upsidedown cake or white chocolate macadamia nut cake. Another option would be eschewing the cake in favor of a Hawaiian shave ice stand, where guests can enjoy an icy treat with their choice of tropical flavors.


A festive fiesta with Mexican-inspired details will ensure that members of the wedding party and guests have a great time while celebrating the happy couple.

Decorations - Cheery fiesta decor will set the stage for the celebration. Beautiful picado tissue paper banners can be liberally strung around the reception space, and colorful folk art pieces can be incorporated into centerpieces. In honor of Mexico's strong tradition of observing Day of the Dead, couples may even consider honoring the dearly departed members of their families through a traditional Dia de los Muertos altar, complete with photos, flowers, and food offerings.

Food and beverages - The popular cuisine of Mexico provides couples with numerous options for wedding day fare. Set up a taco bar where guests can create their own tacos from a choice of beef, chicken, or beans, as well as a variety of toppings. Or hire a food truck that serves tacos and other Mexican-style food items to be on-site. For beverages, offer guests margaritas and Mexican brands of beer. Consider providing a dessert buffet offering tres leches cake, churros with chocolate sauce, and - of course - Mexican wedding cookies.

Entertainment - Couples can hire a real mariachi band to play at the reception. Guests will love dancing to mariachi standards, as well as a modern love song or two, performed mariachi-style. Piñatas make for another fun form of reception entertainment. Since piñatas are available in a variety of styles and colors, couples can go with classic shiny star-shaped orbs or find a piñata that showcases their love of a particular sport or animal. Allow the children in attendance to get the first whack before letting the adults join in the fun. The bride and groom can even give guests a mini piñata as a wedding favor.

Swiss Alps

Couples can play up the beauty of a winter wedding and give themselves and their guests a mountaintop experience by embracing a Swiss Alps theme.

Attire - To help the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses to stand up to the winter chill, top them with a faux fur or knit wraps. Stylish coats or sporty parkas will also keep wedding party members toasty and warm in chilly weather. If you'll be taking photos outdoors, outfit the members of your wedding party in matching scarves and mittens to ward off winter chills.

Decorations - Deck out your reception venue to look like a posh Alpine ski chalet by incorporating cozy, rustic elements. A fireplace with a crackling fire will set the ambiance, and vintage snow sports gear such as skis, snowshoes, toboggans, and ice skates can be used as decorations. Add a sense of warmth to the room by using woolen blankets instead of tablecloths or runners. Purchased or DIY snow globes featuring winter scenes make for charming centerpieces. Other decorative ideas include displaying a collection of Swiss cowbells or even an authentic alphorn.

Food and beverages - Whether as the main meal or an appetizer, you can't go wrong with classic cheese fondue. Consider offering the Berner platte (the Bernese platter), a regional specialty that consists of an assortment of meats and sausages, along with juniper-flavored sauerkraut, potatoes, and dried beans. A main course could be Alplermagronen, or "herdsman's macaroni," made from cheese, potatoes, onions, macaroni, and milk or cream. Help revelers stay cozy and warm by offering mulled wine and hot chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, the Swiss are known for theirs, so be sure to play up that ingredient when dessert time arrives by serving Swiss chocolate mousse in addition to an array of decadent pastries. A wedding favor that sends guests home with a few pieces of Swiss chocolate is also sure to be popular.


Borrowing from Japan's ancient traditions will create a truly lovely and elegant fête.

Attire - The bride and bridesmaids can incorporate the Japanese theme into pre-wedding preparations by donning kimono-style robes featuring bright, floral patterns while styling their hair and makeup. Kimono-style design elements and silk accents can be incorporated into the wedding attire, as well.

Decorations - Go heavy on the cherry blossoms, incorporating them into the bridal bouquets and reception centerpieces. Scores of paper cranes made with beautiful paper also make for charming decorations, whether sitting on tables or strung up and hung in garland form. Paper lanterns, Japanese-style fans, and oil-paper umbrellas can also be used as decorative elements, and miniature versions can make a unique and memorable wedding favor for guests.

Food and beverages - The traditional Japanese tea ceremony is highly revered in Japanese culture, so providing guests with a selection of teas (hot or iced) is a natural choice. So too is serving sushi, though be sure to include rolls featuring all-cooked ingredients or separate Japanese noodle dishes for guests with less adventurous palates. A Kobe beef dish is another option for those who dislike sushi. Other popular Japanese imports that can be served include sake cocktails and mochi, daifuku, and other sweets.


Guidelines For Choosing Groomsmen August 1, 2016

Grooms-to-be face many decisions regarding their pending nuptials, but few may prove as delicate as choosing the groomsmen for the big day. Friends who expect to be groomsmen may be disappointed if they are not ultimately chosen, while brothers may feel left out if they are not chosen to support the groom in this way.

Grooms-to-be who are facing some difficult choices can follow a few pointers to ensure they make the right call.

· Pick a number. Before consider who the groomsmen will be, grooms-to-be should speak to their fiancees about how many bridesmaids they hope to have. The number of groomsmen and bridesmaids typically matches, so the bride-to-be's intentions may make her fiance's decision a lot easier. If the groom-to-be already has an idea of who he wants the groomsmen to be, but his choices outnumber his fiancee's, he could ask if she has anyone else she can add to her party.

· Choose the best man for the job. Many grooms pick a brother to serve as their best man, and while that is a nice sentiment, it is important that grooms recognize that being a best man carries with it some responsibility. A best man traditionally organizes the bachelor party, gives a toast at the wedding, and handles any post-wedding duties, such as returning the tuxes or arranging for the newlyweds' transportation to the airport. If the brother of the groom is already incredibly busy or if there are doubts that he is up to the task of being a best man, then the groom-to-be might be better off asking him to be a groomsman and finding another best man who is more capable of juggling the responsibilities that come with being best man.

· Don't forget your fiancee's family. While the groom-to-be should not feel pressured to pick anyone in particular as the best man, if his fiancee has any brothers, he should ask her if she had her heart set on including any of her brothers in the bridal party. Some brides want their brothers to be groomsmen, so it is important for grooms-to-be to discuss this issue with their fiancees before asking anyone to line up beside them. The discussion can also allow the groom-to-be to request that his fiancee include one of his sisters in her bridal party.

· Confirm their availability. When a groom asks friends or family members to be groomsmen, he should ensure they can actually make it to the ceremony. Availability is a concern for grooms who are planning a destination wedding or those getting married in their fiancee's hometown, since some guests, including potential groomsmen, may not be able to attend an overseas or other faraway ceremony. In such circumstances, the groom-to-be should explain the situation to the potential groomsmen and add that he fully understands if the friend or family member cannot commit to being a groomsman. Grooms-to-be should confirm their groomsmen's availability as soon as possible. For those who are asked to be groomsmen but are unable to make it, it can be a nice gesture to buy them a groomsman gift as a token of appreciation for their friendship.

Many grooms face difficult decisions when choosing their groomsmen, but there are ways to make such decisions a lot easier than they seem.


"Green" Can Be The New Color In Wedding Wear August 1, 2016

Weddings are full of traditions. While some couples may be focused on the time-honored tradition of something old and something new as well as something borrowed and something blue, others may be seeing weddings in an entirely different - and environmentally-friendly - hue: green.

"Green" weddings are on the rise, and couples can embrace various strategies to make their big days more eco-friendly.

· Explore eco-couture designers. Brides need not compromise their eco-conscious ideals for gorgeous designs. Many established and up-and-coming bridal gown designers rely on sustainable materials and practices to craft beautiful gowns. Brides-to-be may not have to look far for a dress that matches their commitment to the environment.

· Consider a vintage gown. Wearing a vintage gown is recycling at its best. Not only will the bride still have her chance to look amazing, but she can breathe new life into a classic wedding dress. Family members can be the first people to seek out when looking for a vintage gown, as one never knows what an aunt or grandmother has in a keepsake chest in the attic. In addition to helping brides save money, wearing a vintage gown can give the person lending the dress a feeling of pride and inclusion in the festivities.

· Guys can don classic attire, too. Grooms-to-be also can embrace vintage attire, or they can borrow a suit or wear a shirt or sentimental item, such as an embroidered handkerchief, from their father or another male relative. If there are few options, renting is certainly a green idea, as a rented tux will be more environmentally friendly than purchasing a tuxedo that may get little use after the wedding.

· Choose sustainable fabrics. Certain fabrics are derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. Organic cotton or linen are options, as are many other sustainable textiles. Individuals can purchase fabric and have a tailor or seamstress craft a custom wedding gown or suit, if desired.

· Wear something already in the closet. Couples opting for a casual or civil wedding may have more options with regard to their wedding attire. If the wedding is a less-formal affair, the couple can consider wearing clothes they already own. Such attire is perfectly acceptable, and they won't be ordering new dress clothes and having them shipped that way.

Couples interested in keeping weddings in line with their eco-friendly lifestyles can start with the clothing they wear on their special days.


Looking Sharp January 5, 2015

Gentlemen getting ready to tie the knot will have to make certain wardrobe choices so they look their best on the big day. Although many grooms-to-be rent tuxedos on their wedding day, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a tuxedo.

Tuxedos are the ultimate formal wear for men. Worn for occasions like proms, weddings and lavish parties, they are the best option for giving a polished impression.

Men who are frequently called upon to attend formal events may find that purchasing a tuxedo is a wise investment. There are several advantages of owning a tux rather than renting each time one needs to wear one. Tuxedos typically cost approximately $1,000, whereas renting a tuxedo may cost $200 or more each time; this makes it advantageous for men who frequently don tuxedos to purchase their own rather than rent.

Another advantage of owning a tuxedo is the opportunity to wear a tux that is custom-made and tailored just for you. Instead of a rental, which will merely be stitched temporarily to fit your measurements, a tuxedo you purchase will be tailored specifically to your body, increasing comfort and making you look better.

Men who buy their own tuxedos also can choose the style, fabric, color, buttons, accessories, and type of lapels on the jacket. Also, a tuxedo store may have more styles available for sale than for rent. If you desire something that fits your personality and your physique perfectly, buying your own tuxedo may be your best bet.

Men worried about purchasing a tuxedo only to see their waistlines increase or decrease should keep in mind that many tuxedo shops offer free tailoring for as long as a customer owns the tuxedo.

When purchasing a tuxedo, you should choose a classic style and color so you can enjoy the tux for years to come. Opt for a slim-fitting white shirt underneath that won't billow out when jackets are removed. Men who want to break from tradition can opt for a shirt that is a pale blue or light gray to wear under the jacket. This is still an understated look but one with a hint of creativity.

A classic, black bow tie is an ideal match when purchasing a more classic tuxedo. The bow tie is back in a big way, and men can purchase more traditional neckties for those occasions when they don't want to wear bow ties.

Tuxedos come with different lapel styles, and it's important to know the differences. Today's most popular style is the notch lapel, wherein a triangular indentation is cut where the lapel joins the collar. This lapel mimics the shape of a classic suit. A peak lapel is the most classic, featuring a broad, V-shaped lapel that points up and out just below the collar line. A shawl lapel is a smooth, rounded-edge lapel. The shawl lapel reached the height of its popularity in the 1950s, but it can still look good today.


Color Inspiration: Neutral Territory October 15, 2013

Why Choose Beige, Gray, White, Ivory, and Black?

-A classic, timeless, sophisticated vibe

-Can be contemporary

-Certain neutrals, like black, tend to be flattering on many skin tones with many different hair colors

-Formal and elegant


Color Inspiration: Perfect in Pink October 15, 2013

Why Choose Pink?

-Associated with love & nurturing

-A feminine, sweet, romantic vibe

-Bright hues can be sassy, bold

-Works well for spring and summer weddings


Color Inspiration: Freshly Squeezed Citrus October 15, 2013

Why Choose Citrus Orange and Yellow?

-Bright hues offer contemporary appeal

-Playful, fresh, energetic, and joyful vibe

-Appropriate for garden or beach themes


Color Inspiration: Hues of Blues October 15, 2013

Why Choose Blue?

-A cool, calm, and peaceful vibe

-Fitting for a number of themes, like nautical, beach, or winter

-Different hues of blue are appropriate for all four seasons

-Flattering on different skin tones and with different hair colors


A Tip from a Pro - Local Vendors September 4, 2013

"Shop local. You will be surprised!"

Jim DeFilippis, coordinator at Eicher Arts Center, Ephrata


Looking Hot But Staying Cool September 3, 2013

Weddings are a time to get dolled up. Though some gentlemen may be tempted to wear the suit they wear to work, a formal event necessitates something a bit more remarkable. When the weather is warm, some men may scoff at the idea of wearing a full suit or even a tuxedo. But just because a person is wearing pants and a jacket doesn't mean the suit must be dark and heavy.

Although dark colors are traditional for weddings, dark, heavy fabrics will absorb the sun's rays, making the groom and his groomsmen uncomfortable. Even when a warm-weather wedding takes place largely in an indoor, climate-controlled setting, many couples choose to have the ceremony itself outdoors. Couples often pose for outdoor photographs, as well. The groom and his groomsmen will want to be comfortable during these times, and the right suit and fabric can make all the difference.

Linen and cotton are all-natural fabrics that are made from plant fibers. They are much lighter weight than wool, and linen and cotton suits may be more comfortable. However, linen and cotton are highly prone to wrinkling, and a wrinkled suit will not present well in a formal setting. Cotton and linen may be best reserved for informal weddings or those that will be taking place outdoors or beachside. Seersucker suits are made from cotton in a unique weaving pattern that lets air ventilate through the material. Seersucker suits may be most popular in the southeastern United States, but they can be worn anywhere the weather is warm. Many of these suits are manufactured in a gray, blue, or brown striped pattern. For less formal weddings, a seersucker suit may fit.

A khaki suit or a tan one may work better if the wedding is more formal. Ensure the accessories are in place to make this look work. The suit should fit well and be tailored appropriately. Sharp creases in the pants and a crisp shirt and tie can complete the look. If the groomsmen are in coordinating suits, a tan or khaki color will not look out of place. If a full suit still feels too stiff, a nice blazer paired with a complementary-colored trouser may be appropriate for a less formal affair.

Some grooms want to err on the side of caution and stick with a classic suit or tuxedo. In such instances, grooms may want to investigate lighter-weight wools. Such suits won't be as confining as a heavier suit. Grooms wearing a tuxedo may want to choose a white tuxedo, which will look pristine and fit with a formal theme. The white will reflect the sun and be cooler without looking casual.

A groom who does not mind a midday wardrobe change can opt to wear a standard suit or tuxedo for the ceremony and plan to change into something more comfortable for the reception. This allows for formality when the moments call for it and comfort later on in the day.

Dressing for a warm weather wedding may require a bit of ingenuity on the part of the groom. Fortunately, there are different fabrics and styles of suit available to present plenty of wardrobe options.


Wedding Dress 101 August 23, 2013

For most brides-to-be, the choice of a dress is among the first and most important decisions they make when planning a wedding. With thousands of choices available in every price range, finding the perfect wedding dress can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, brides can make their search much easier by following a few guidelines.

Set Some Parameters

Start by knowing your limits and making some important decisions before setting foot in a store. To avoid disappointment down the line, determine the maximum amount that you can spend on a dress -- and don't forget to include all the little extras, such as undergarments, shoes, jewelry, a veil, and/or hair ornaments. Next, take an inventory of your personal style. If you know that you're not comfortable in strapless or sleeveless dresses, for example, immediately eliminate these options. The trick is to rule out a few style options before hitting the magazines or stores and then be open to all other options.

Get Started Early

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for the dress-buying process. "Start your planning early, making sure to start your search for your wedding gown at least six to nine months prior to your big day," recommend Mary Ann Hoober and Alissa Hoober-Smay, co-owners of The Bridal Emporium in Elizabethtown. "This allows for your gown to be ordered and allows six to eight weeks for alterations to be done, so they will be completed a few weeks prior to your wedding day," they explain.

Try It On

When visiting a bridal salon to try on gowns, brides should follow a few guidelines that can make the process go more smoothly and potentially reduce the amount of time it takes to find the perfect gown.

Wear a supportive, well-constructed strapless bra or corset in your correct size. If you will be wearing a petticoat, also have the right size available. Go without face makeup when trying on gowns so they remain clean. Try to wear your hair similar to the style you have in mind for your wedding.

Brides should also note that the size of the wedding gown you will wear is typically one to two sizes larger than your day-to-day clothes. Proper measurements can be matched to designers' size charts.

To Thine Own Self Be True

There will be no shortage of opinions -- from mothers, sisters, friends, and store personnel -- about your choice of a wedding dress, but the decision, ultimately, is the bride's alone. A great strategy is to be open to suggestions about dresses to try on, but to reserve the right to choose the look that feels right to you. It may also be best to limit the number of people who go shopping with you to one or two trusted friends or family members, as an entourage can be confusing.

"When you are going to a bridal store to try on gowns, bring those who will be a good support to you," Hoober and Hoober-Smay suggest. "Remember, you value the opinions of your family and closest friends, but ultimately you must choose the gown you love, the gown that makes you feel beautiful, and the gown that reflects who you are."

With so many potential options, you might want to consider bringing along a camera and taking photos of yourself in the dresses that could be contenders.

Find The Dress That Fits You (And Your Wedding)

Remember that your goal is to find a dress that flatters your body and expresses your personal style -- not to fit into a particular size. If you look ghostly in white, feel free to choose a creamier shade or a dress that has decorative accents of a different color near your neck, shoulders, and face. Similarly, there's no rule that a wedding dress has to be floor-length. If you're planning a daytime or more casual wedding, you might want to consider a tea-length dress (one that falls a few inches above the ankle) or go even shorter, if the look is flattering on you.

How well a gown fits goes a long way toward the bride's appearance. Brides should work with their bridal store to have necessary alterations done on the gown or hire a seamstress to tailor a vintage dress or one purchased from a vendor that does not offer in-house alternations.

"When looking for a wedding gown, don't limit your search to gowns in only your size," advises Gail Mendenhall, owner of Country Threads By Gail in Manheim. "In most instances, gowns can be altered down or up sizes," she explains, adding, "Don't rule out a gown you love because it's not quite your size."

If you have the option, however, of ordering a dress in various sizes, Hoober and Hoober-Smay recommend ordering the size that fits you now, even if you plan to lose some weight before the wedding. "It is much easier to take your gown to a smaller size if you reach your goal," they explain, than it is to take it out or make it bigger. Following the same principle, it is better to order a slightly larger gown and leave room for alterations if you are between sizes.

Don't Sacrifice Comfort

Style and fit may be the two most important factors in choosing a wedding dress, but comfort should be a close third. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable in a particular dress, given the setting in which your wedding will take place. For instance, if you've always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, you may want forego a dress with a long, trailing train that could trip you up on your walk down the aisle. Even if you're planning an indoor event, having a dress and shoes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful will greatly increase your odds of enjoying your special day to the fullest.

Consider Something Borrowed

Some brides-to-be are lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to wear the wedding dress of a family member or friend. While some may view a hand-me-down gown with a degree of skepticism due to fears of its style being seen as out-of-date, it is important to remember that heirloom dresses can be altered and turned into something that fits the new bride's style and physique. Recycling a dress is an especially agreeable option for those looking to cut costs or to incorporate family history into their big day.

There are, however, several important factors to take into account when considering a vintage or hand-me-down gown. Try on the gown and see if the necessary alterations are possible. Remember, it's much easier to take fabric away from a gown than to match it and add fabric to the gown. Do not plan on crash dieting to fit in the gown, as you may end up stuck with an ill-fitting dress. Decide if the shape of the dress is flattering on you. If a gown has good "bones" to it, there's a chance that a talented tailor can turn it into something that will enhance your body type, while a gown in a style that you never would have considered may be much more difficult and costly to transform. Check the condition of the dress. A gown that has been professionally preserved is more likely to look as good as new.

Also, remember your budget, because while hand-me-down wedding dresses may be free initially, costs may accumulate depending on the extent of the alterations needed. Get an estimate from a seamstress to determine if it will be financially smart to go with the used gown. Additionally, a bride may want to pass up a passed-down dress if she's selecting it purely for economic reasons and not because she really loves it. In this case, it might be a better idea to scout for bargain-priced options, rather than wearing a dress you're not thrilled with.

Special thanks to:

The Bridal Boutique, 20 Market Square, Manheim, PA 17545; 717-665-7900;;

The Bridal Emporium, 40 S. Market St., Elizabethtown, PA 17022; 717-367-4446;;

Country Threads by Gail, 194 Doe Run Road, Manheim, PA 17545; 717-665-3711;

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