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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.


Something Old October 22, 2013

Everyone knows the recommendation that a bride should have "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" as she heads down the aisle, but, lately, many brides are lingering over the "something old" part. Vintage style has made a major comeback recently, due in part to a number of popular historically set movies and television shows. As "Downton Abbey," Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," "Grace of Monaco," "Broadwalk Empire," and other period pieces have conquered pop culture, the vintage trend has exploded in the wedding industry, with couples pulling inspiration from the beautiful style elements showcased in these hit television and film projects.

"The vintage trend is HOT right now for the 2014 wedding season," exclaims Melissa McClain of Melissa McClain Photography, Harrisburg.

Sabrina J. Drouillard, IEWP, owner/coordinator of Decora Wedding and Event Planning, Mountville, agrees, explaining, "From the invites to the dress and decor, brides are loving this trend! If you are incorporating this into your wedding, you will have so many options."

Couples looking to include vintage elements in their wedding attire and decor must first decide what "vintage" means to them. Wedding elements can invoke a specific time period (for example, the Roaring '20s) or leave a more general old-timey or classic impression. "There are many views on what 'vintage' looks like these days, but I always think of lace, subtle colors, old books and dainty flowers," suggests Nicola Herring, owner of Nicola Herring Photography, Lancaster. "There are many ways to incorporate these things, even in a do-it-yourself wedding."

In addition to drawing inspiration from the vintage-inspired costumes and set design of movies and television shows set in decades past, brides and grooms can go online for ideas. "Pinterest is a great brainstorming tool for ideas, so pin everything that appeals to you, and your ideas will come together," recommends Herring.

A major way the vintage trend is being incorporated into wedding style is through the attire of the bridal party, especially the bride. Whether she is wearing a dress that has been passed down in her family, attire purchased from a vintage store, or a new dress that has a vintage look, the bride can channel classic style with her gown. Popular vintage twists for bridal gowns include lace, beading, crystals, off-white or ivory hues, and other romantic elements.

When it comes to jewelry, brides are favoring art deco, estate-inspired silhouettes and often choosing one or two standout accessories for a more minimalistic and classical look. Simple, elegant pieces are distinctive without being overwhelming and can be worn alone or layered. Wearing heirloom jewelry is a great way for brides to go vintage and honor members of their family at the same time. For her other accessories, a bride can turn to retro-style pumps, a tiara or a birdcage veil to continue the vintage theme.

The bride is not the only one who can have fun with incorporating vintage elements into her attire, however. "The Great Gatsy," "Downton Abbey," and other film and television period pieces supply plenty of inspiration for the groom's attire, as well as that of the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The bride and her bridesmaids can also incorporate the vintage trend via their hair and makeup choices (finger wave hairdos, red lips, subtle cat's eye eyeliner, etc.). But remember to be careful that you don't take the vintage elements too far; you want the bridal party to look classic, not costumey.

Another key way that couples can incorporate vintage style into their wedding day celebrations is through their choice of ceremony and reception venues. If you want your event to have a vintage vibe, starting with a venue that has inherent vintage charm will reduce the amount of effort you have to put into dressing it up. "Historic settings are a logical choice for vintage weddings, since their unique surroundings provide ample photographic opportunities that just can't be replicated in most other venues," explains Arlene Stewart, chairman of marketing and advertising for The Iris Club, Lancaster.

But no matter what venue you choose, it can be decked out to fit with your vintage theme through some creativity. Visit vintage and antique stores, as well as thrift shops, to see what catches your eye, whether it's an antique handkerchief, mismatched china teacups, old books, or pieces from retro board games. Chances are you'll be able to incorporate whatever vintage items you love into the wedding decor.

"Be cautious!" Drouillard advises. "Just because it says 'vintage,' that doesn't mean that it is!" If you desire bonafide vintage items, research the authenticity of the antiques before you make your purchases.

"Old glassware, such as mason jars and wine bottles, are a really popular (way to incorporate vintage style)," comments Emily Wilcox of Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown. McClain adds, "Couples (are) incorporating lace and burlap elements, Scrabble letters, and subtle yet delicate flower arrangements." McClain recommends, "If going vintage, consider shying away from common DIY projects featured on inspirational sites and customize your decor items for a more personal touch."

Think outside the box: everything from antique keys to vintage bicycles to old suitcases and furniture can be used as decorations. What is even better is when the wedding decor incorporates vintage items that hold special significance to the couple - such as a grandmother's china, a grandfather's military trunk, antique clocks passed through the generations or old family photos of the couple's ancestors.

"For couples on a budget, consider renting key decor pieces from vintage rental stores near you," suggests McClain. "If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, rent a few larger pieces of vintage furniture for a great post-dinner lounge area for guests to relax and mingle. (You can also) change out standard seating and tables for handcrafted items and think about (offering) old-school lawn games for guests to play during cocktail hour," she recommends.

And don't forget about the music. A band playing Dixieland hits and jazz standards will give the whole party a vintage vibe in a fun and memorable way. (If you can't find a band in your local area or price range, you can achieve a similar effect by having your disc jockey spin vintage tunes.)

Another way retro elements can be incorporated into the reception is by serving food and beverages with a vintage influence. Also, you can add to the theme through transportation choices such as horse-drawn carriages or classic cars.

"Be sure to carry your vintage theme throughout - from the design of your bouquet, to the style of your gown, to your place cards and invitations - for a fully developed theme. All in all, make it your own!" McClain encourages.

Brides and grooms who are interested in the vintage trend have many options - whether they want the vintage theme to infiltrate every element of their big day or just want to include a few subtle touches. "What makes the vintage trend so great is that it can be as subtle as wearing your grandmother's wedding ring on your big day (or as flashy as using) an eye-catching classic car as the bride and groom's gateway vehicle," explains Wilcox.

Couples looking to go vintage on their big day have many options to help them achieve the classic, glamorous style they desire.

Special thanks to:

Melissa McClain Photography

119 Aster Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17112


Decora Wedding and Event Planning

416 Huntington Drive, Mountville, PA 17554


Nicola Herring Photography

519 E. King St., Lancaster, PA 17602 (mailing address only)


The Iris Club

323 N. Duke St., Lancaster PA 17602


Emily Grace Photography

120 Heisey Ave., Elizabethtown, PA 17022



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

"Shop local. You will be surprised!"

Jim DeFilippis, coordinator at Eicher Arts Center, Ephrata


The Story Behind the Veil August 28, 2013

Who would've thought a thin piece of lace or tulle could truly make a bride look and feel like she is getting married?

Veils have remained an important part of wedding-day attire for centuries. Veils date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used them to fend off evil spirits and demons. Their thinking was that the evil spirits would not be able to get to the person behind the veil, hence keeping her safe for her husband.

Eventually the meaning behind the veil transformed as weddings evolved into religious ceremonies. The veil came to symbolize modesty and obedience. In many religions, it is seen as a symbol of reverence for women to cover their heads. When white wedding dresses were worn to symbolize chastity, the white veil followed suit.

In the late 18th century in America, veils became quite popular. Aides to George Washington saw his step-granddaughter, Nellie, sitting by a lace-curtained window and remarked on her stunning beauty. Nellie re-created the scene at her wedding by making a veil of white lace.

Today's brides still take part in the tradition of the veil, but add their own spin on the accessory. Veils typically correspond to the color of the gown, and there are a number of different styles. A veil can be whatever you want it to be, from simple and understated to extravagant and detailed. It can also be any length, from cascading beyond the wedding train to ending at the bride's elbow. A flyaway is a short veil that ends at the shoulders, while a sweep veil ends at the floor. Chapel and cathedral veils follow the bride at a significant length (9 and 12 feet, respectively). A blusher is a very short veil that covers just the bride's face as she enters the ceremony. With a fingertip veil, the veil reaches the bride's waist and brushes at her fingertips.

No matter what you choose, a veil should complement your overall look without competing with your gown. A fancy veil will be too much for a detailed gown, but you can embellish a plain dress with a more ornate veil.

When selecting veils, it helps if you have an image of your gown in mind or try on your gown with different veils to compare looks. It is also wise to style your hair and makeup similar to how you will wear them on your wedding day. This way you can experience the full effect.

When observing yourself in the veil, try it on in front of a full-length mirror, and view yourself from all angles. A veil may look flattering from the front, but may not complement the back of your gown.

While veils are very beautiful, they are entirely optional for the bride (unless your house of worship has rules regarding veils). Many other headpieces and accessories are available if you opt to forgo of a veil. These include tiaras, barrettes, hats, and more.


Looking Your Best: August 23, 2013

A bride has boundless options when selecting her hairstyle and makeup for her big day. The best hairstyle and makeup will enhance each bride's individual beauty - playing up her favorite features and reflecting her personality. To achieve a hair and makeup look that will look great on the big day in person and in wedding photographs, planning ahead is key.

Call In The Professionals

Experienced hair stylists and makeup artists can transform your look from basic to glam in a short amount of time, and women often rely on the professional expertise of cosmetologists to help them create the perfect wedding look.

Find a stylist with whom you will have a good rapport. Ask your regular salon stylist if she does special occasion work or ask for a referral from a friend or family member who has used someone in the past. Find a stylist that you'll stick with through your wedding day.

Plan Ahead

It's a good idea to meet with a hair stylist and makeup professional a few weeks before your wedding day. Study bridal magazines for inspiration and consult with a hairstylist about what will work best with your hair type. "Consult with your salon for a trial bridal updo before your wedding day so your special day can be stress-free," advises Deb Cohen of Shear Perfection in Mount Joy.

"The consultation appointment before the actual hair styling for the wedding is extremely important," agrees Heather Devlin of Devlin Hair Studio in Leola. "It will allow the bride to work out the details on how to plan a hair style and wedding headpiece that will work well together. Planning ahead will help to eliminate extra stress on your special day," she explains.

Bring your veil and/or headpiece and a photo of your dress to the appointment if possible, so the beauty professionals can see the big picture. Talk to your stylist about suggested cuts and colors that may enhance your hairdo. With the help of your stylist, set a schedule for certain hair tasks that should occur at specific times. For example, your final color should be done at least two weeks before the wedding to allow for color blending.

The hair rehearsal will not only help your stylist get master her technique, but it will also enable both of you to fine tune what works and what doesn't. This step will help to eliminate any wedding day hair and makeup surprises. Take pictures from all angles to ensure that you're happy with the look from every direction.

Tremendous Tresses

Your hairstyle should complement your face and dress and look elegant with or without a veil or hat. Those who don't want to wear a veil may choose to use barrettes, combs, or a tiara as accents. If you normally wear your hair long and straight, consider long, flowing curls adorned with a headpiece of flowers and pearls. A smooth, shiny updo of straight hair works well with a slinky satin gown, while a dress with layers of tulle may be better accented with soft curls. A short column dress looks terrific with a textured or sleek bob.

If you have a round face, sleeker styles with longer veils will be more flattering. Fuller hairstyles and veils compliment narrow faces. If you are wearing a long veil, a hairstyle with less volume on top is more appropriate. The French twist is a classic wedding style that works beautifully with long and short veils and can hold up for hours. Hair extensions, falls and hairpieces can help you achieve a glamorous style if your hair is too short for an updo. You can also embrace your short hair, using side parts and some height at the crown to ramp up your style. Clips, curls, and headbands are additional ways to dress up the look.

If you can't decide between an updo or flowing hairstyle, consider pulling part of your hair back with the rest left flowing down your back. If your hair is very long or you want to add hairpieces, braids can also be very romantic when adorned with flowers or beads and crystals. You may also want to choose a style that can be worn up for the wedding and down at the reception.

In addition to the style of your dress and the shape of your face, factors to consider when picking a hairstyle include the height of the groom and the time and place of the wedding. Elaborate headpieces and sparkly crystals are a better choice for an evening ceremony, while flowers, wreaths, headbands, and hats are perfect for daytime and more casual settings. An elaborate updo may not be practical if you'll be on the beach with blowing wind.

Pick Your Products

Give yourself plenty of time to experiment with any new skin care products or makeup a few weeks before your wedding. You don't want to risk a rash or other allergic reaction that could spoil your big day. Similarly, brides are warned against taking drastic measures with your hair within two to three weeks of the event. Don't schedule a cut or color too close to the event.

Waterproof foundation and mascara and other long-lasting products will help your makeup last through all of the tears, eating, dancing, and kissing. As your wedding and reception will last several hours, it's also a good idea to keep a touchup kit handy that includes powder, blush, and lipstick. A translucent powder will keep you looking fresh and reduce shine in photos.

For your hair, it is advisable to use mousse or hair spray to help set the hairstyle. Brides should avoid the use of hair serums or frizz-fighting oils that can cause hair pins or curls not to hold well. In most cases, a stylist will come equipped with the items she needs. If you have discussed any special hair accoutrements, such as rhinestones, beads, or clips, get them ready.

Don't forget other important details, such as selecting a perfume for your big day. Lorraine L. Brady, owner of Perfume House by Lorraine in Lititz, says, "Perfume completes an outfit. Building a fragrance wardrobe reveals how multi-dimensional we are. It is based on mood, style, season, weather, and events." Like hair and makeup professionals, perfume experts can be consulted before the wedding. Brady says she strives to "offer the customer the opportunity to reward themselves with uncommon, unique, and individual" and to provide "the perfect place to choose your perfect scent for your perfect day."

Don't Overdo It

Use your wedding day hairstyle and makeup to highlight your best features. Choose a hairstyle and makeup that work with your face and veil - avoid copying a look you've seen on a celebrity that does not flatter you. Don't stray too far from your usual look, as a complete makeover may end up looking totally unnatural.

Choosing flattering light and neutral makeup colors will give your face a healthy-looking glow. Eye shadow shades of cream, peach, and pink will complement a white or ivory dress without looking too dramatic. For a natural look, avoid heavy foundations and products that are too dark or shiny. Your foundation should match your skin tone as closely as possible, and the careful blending of your foundation, eye shadow, and blush creates the most flattering look.

Manage The Clock

On your wedding day, be ready at the agreed upon time so your hair and makeup stylists can get right to work. It can take about an hour to do a hairstyle, and if the stylist is working with more than one person for the party, it is important to be on time for your appointment or be home if the stylist is coming to you.

Hair should be completely dry so the stylist does not have to spend extra time blowdrying. If you have very curly hair and need it smooth and prepped for your stylist on your appointment date, try going to a hair salon the day before to have it professionally blown out. Wear a button- or zip-down shirt or robe so you won't have to pull anything over your head after your style is done.

Special thanks to:

Perfume House by Lorraine

55 N. Water St., Lititz, PA 17543


Devlin Hair Studio

18 Keystone Court in Leola Business Center, Leola, PA 17540


Shear Perfection

539 Farmview Lane, Mount Joy, PA 17552


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