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The Wedding Budget: A Few Nips And Tucks To Save Big Bucks December 20, 2018

Tying the knot can be an expensive endeavor. According to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study, which surveyed nearly 13,000 brides and grooms in the United States who got married in 2017, the average cost of a wedding was more than $33,000. That figure may surprise some people planning their weddings, many of whom may not be able to afford spending so much on their ceremonies and receptions. Couples may feel pressure to compete with friends and relatives whose weddings they have attended in the past, and that may compel some to stretch their budgets and even go into debt to finance their nuptials. However, there are ways for couples to curtail their wedding spending and impress guests at the same time.

· Trim the guest list. The 2017 Real Weddings Study found that couples spent an average of $268 per guest in 2017. Many couples are recognizing that smaller guest lists are a great way to lower wedding spending, and The Knot study found that the average guest count decreased from 149 in 2009 to 136 in 2017. Trimming the guest list may seem harsh, but couples that work together can likely find between 10 and 15 acquaintances on their initial lists who won't be offended if they're not invited. Couples who spend the 2017 average per guest can save nearly $3,000 by removing just 10 people from their guest lists.

· Expand your venue horizons. A greater number of couples are looking beyond traditional wedding venues and opting for more unique locales to tie the knot. The 2017 Real Weddings Study found that 15 percent of 2017 weddings were held on farms, on ranches, and even in barns, while just 2 percent of weddings were hosted in such venues in 2009. The growing popularity of unique wedding venues may make some locations more expensive than couples anticipate, but a willingness to tie the knot in a unique venue greatly increases couples' options, improving the chances they will find more affordable venues.

· Cut back on guest entertainment. Customizing experiences for guests is a major reason that today's couples are spending so much more per guest than their predecessors. Spending for customized guest entertainment, which includes elements like photo booths, sparklers, and video booths, tripled between 2009 and 2017. Couples may want to give their guests unique experiences, but they should not stretch their budgets or go into debt to do so. Couples may want to try to narrow down the perks to one or two experiences that are particularly meaningful to them in order to save some money.

· Tie the knot in winter. Summer and fall were the most popular wedding seasons in 2017, and that does not figure to change anytime soon. Couples can take advantage of those trends by getting married in winter, a slow season for wedding venues and vendors, who might be more flexible with their prices. The most popular months to tie the knot in 2017 were June, September, and October, so couples that don't want to wed in winter but want to avoid paying top prices should avoid those three months.

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When the Best Man Has Four Legs December 20, 2018

Pets are full-fledged members of many families and even, apparently, families-to-be.

In its 2016 American Wedding Study, Brides magazine found that 8 percent of wedding ceremonies included pets. While the couples of yesteryear might have left Fido at home, many of today's couples want their four-legged friends to be there on their big day. Though no studies to date have examined which animals are most likely to make an appearance at couples' nuptials, it's fair to assume that dogs, which tend to get out of the house more than most other types of pets, are the most common furry bridesmaids, groomsmen, or ring bearers.

Before including dogs in wedding plans, couples may want to consider a few factors to ensure having a furry friend there on the big day is what's best for couples, their guests, and - of course - their beloved pooches.

Eligibility - Some venues do not allow pets that are not documented assistance animals on the premises. Confirm a venue's pet policy before purchasing any wedding-day attire for dogs. Couples that are intent on including their pets in their wedding ceremonies should only consider pet-friendly facilities, which may be hard to find. Couples that plan to take a limousine to and from their wedding also should confirm that the cars allow pets before booking.

Personality - No two dogs are the same. Some dogs might love people and attention, while others might prefer one-on-one time with their owners. Dogs that are sociable and unaggressive may make perfect additions to wedding ceremonies, while animals that exhibit anxiety around strangers or seem uncomfortable in noisy settings should be kept out of the ceremony.

Health - Dog owners also must consider their pet's health when deciding whether or not to include their pet in the wedding ceremony. Couples that bonded over a love of their dog may really hope to include their furry friend in the festivities, but should not do so at the expense of the animal's health. Outdoor wedding ceremonies under sunny skies may produce potentially unhealthy conditions for certain breeds or older dogs. Dogs that have difficulty getting around may need a wagon (and attendant) to make the rounds at the wedding.

Assistance - Couples will be busy on their wedding days, so they may need to arrange for a caretaker to look after their dog during and after the ceremony. Asking a guest to play this role may be asking too much, as they will no doubt want to celebrate without having to take care of a dog. A professional pet sitter might work, but couples should factor that additional cost into their budgets.

Guests - Couples should consider the needs of their guests before deciding to incorporate their pet into their wedding. Some guests may have allergies or may be uneasy around certain types of pets, even good-natured ones. If people on the guest list meet these criteria, it may be best for couples to have their furry friend cared for elsewhere during the big day.

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Sarah & Brenden December 20, 2018

Meet Sarah and Brenden

bride's hometown: Hellam, PA

groom's hometown: Bridgewater, CT

current place of residence: Hellam, PA

bride's occupation: registered nurse

groom's occupation: tree service worker

how they met: In 2010, Sarah was a missionary serving at a clinic in Saint-Marc, Haiti, and Brenden was on an aid trip in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with some military friends. When a cholera outbreak happened in Sarah's town, Brenden's group traveled north to offer their skills, and the two began working together.

the proposal: Sarah and Brenden took a weekend trip to Rhode Island, along with Sarah's parents. After taking the ferry to Block Island, they rode bikes around the island, ending up at a lighthouse. Brenden proposed while they stood together overlooking the bluffs.

length of engagement: 10 months

honeymoon destination: Oahu and Maui, HI

The Wedding

wedding date: April 21, 2018

ceremony location: Stony Brook Mennonite Church, York, PA

reception location: Stone Mill Inn, Hallam, PA

wedding colors: sage and lilac

something that made the ceremony extra special: The bride and groom led worship singing during the wedding ceremony, which also included Communion.

unity ceremony included in the ceremony: the lighting of a unity candle

flowers: All of the flowers for the day - which included purple lilacs, white roses, succulents, and eucalyptus, as well as the roses, berries, and ivy that filled lanterns that were included in the centerpieces - were arranged by the groom's mother.

the menu: beef tenderloin, chicken bianca, and eggplant lasagna

cake: three separate "tiers" of lemon cake with raspberry filling

first dance song: "Oh True Love" by The Everly Brothers

favorite decoration: The bride's father made a wooden arch with a chandelier.

favor: chocolate

something worth splurging on: the videographer

Vendors

photography: Rebecca Shivers Photography, Denver, PA

videography: Invision Video Productions, Leola, PA

disc jockey: DJ Mast Productions, Lancaster, PA

wedding dress: Blush Bridal, Lancaster, PA

attire of groom and groomsmen: Men's Wearhouse

cake: Jennifer Stricker, Akron, PA

catering: GingerBabies Catering, York, PA

hair and makeup: Salon Nouveau, York, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Sarah: We first booked the venue. We started with this because we were really hoping to have our reception at the Stone Mill Inn and were willing to be flexible with the dates available there. We chose our wedding date based on what they had open.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Sarah: Blush Bridal was recommended by a friend, and while we did search other shops for a wedding dress, I kept thinking about a dress I had tried on there. The bridesmaids' dresses were ordered from an online site because it seemed the easiest option with a large wedding party.

We chose Men's Wearhouse for the groom's and groomsmen's attire. The chain store option was appealing because all the groomsmen were located out of state. We were able to choose pieces in York, and groomsmen were fitted in Connecticut.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Sarah: The groom was very flexible!

The ceremony was performed by my uncle. Together, Brenden and I planned the ceremony, discussing what was important to each of us to include.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Coordinating all the time frames of the day. Most vendors are booked for a certain time frame, and making sure those time frames overlapped and coordinated with other vendor needs was a challenge. Our photographer and videographer were very helpful with this.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Sarah: A piece of advice shared with us from a friend: Remember that ultimately you are planning a marriage.

Photos by Rebecca Shivers Photography, rebeccashiversphotography.com

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Claire & Dan December 20, 2018

Meet Claire and Dan

bride's hometown: Red Lion, PA

groom's hometown: Fawn Grove, PA

current place of residence: York, PA

bride's occupation: swim lesson instructor

groom's occupation: warehouse worker

how they met: Dan and Claire met at Calvary Bible Church, the same church they were married in. "Many of our friends from the congregation take credit for introducing us," Claire notes.

the proposal: The couple's actual engagement took place in the snow on the bank of Lake Williams and was not a surprise at all for Claire. "We had been dating for a while - and had been friends for much longer before that - and we had known almost from the beginning that we were going to get married," she explains.

length of engagement: six months

honeymoon destination: Stanardsville, VA

The Wedding

wedding date: June 23, 2018

ceremony and reception location: Calvary Bible Church, Wrightsville, PA

wedding colors: champagne, burgundy, and sage and forest greens

wedding theme: the morning wedding had a very relaxed, picnic sort of feel

something that made the ceremony extra special: Dan and Claire's wedding party included 10 flower girls! Some were children of the couple's friends, some were Claire's students from swimming lessons, and one was a girl that Claire nannies. "We wanted our wedding to be very fun, relaxed, and kid-friendly, as we - obviously - love children," Claire explains.

flowers: roses, eucalyptus, and lots of other greenery

favorite design element: the flowers

the menu: hash browns, sausage, doughnuts, coffee, tea, and other breakfast essentials

dessert: Key lime and pumpkin pies

favor: picnic blankets

something worth splurging on: food

Vendors

photography: Kelsey Kinard of Lovefusion Photography, Littlestown, PA

bounce house rental: Grand Rental Station, Dallastown, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: Amazon.com

groom and groomsmen's attire: Burlington Coat Factory

"The rest of our vendors were all friends and family," Claire explains. "My mother and some of her close friends made all of the food for us, my bridesmaids and I arranged all of the flowers, and Dan's father drew a lot of artwork for our more sentimental decor."

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Claire: The first thing we did was pick a date. We had lots of family flying in from out of state and needed to get everyone's travel in order.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Claire: My dress was given to me by a very sweet friend, and it couldn't have been more perfect. We chose Dan's suit based on what he would be comfortable in, as we had a pretty active wedding day.

We tried to choose pretty affordable options for our groomsmen and bridesmaids so that we wouldn't have to really put a strain on them. We got our bridesmaids' dresses on Amazon.com, and all of the groomsmen wore suits from Burlington Coat Factory.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Claire: Our wedding was very relaxed so we didn't struggle to incorporate things for each of us, and we already have very similar tastes, which made it even simpler.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Claire: The weather. We had planned up until the morning of our wedding to have the ceremony and reception outside, which caused a lot of stress in the weeks before the wedding day and especially on that morning, when we were forced to move everything inside because of rain.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Claire: Make sure you have a foolproof way to remember who was there. Also, relax, and enjoy the day.

Photos by Lovefusion Photography, www.lovefusionphoto.com

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Ellie & John December 20, 2018

Meet Ellie and John

bride's hometown: York, PA

groom's hometown: York, PA

current place of residence: York, PA

bride's occupation: registered nurse

groom's occupation: electrical engineer

how they met: John and Ellie grew up together in the same church when they were younger. They were later reunited by John's sister, who is a friend of Ellie's.

the proposal: John proposed one night when he and Ellie were watching TV in the living room of their new house.

length of engagement: seven months

honeymoon destination: Secrets Papagayo, Costa Rica

The Wedding

wedding date: September 2, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Country Club of York, York, PA

wedding colors: navy blue, rose gold, white, and leafy green

wedding theme: boho

something that made the ceremony extra special: Ellie and John wrote their own vows, and a lantern was carried down the aisle by the ring bearer in loving memory of their grandparents who have passed away.

flowers: purple, green, and white flowers and plants, including kale, succulents, eucalyptus, peony, and artichoke

the menu: hors d'oeuvres of bacon-wrapped scallops and crab dip toast, with an entree of chicken amandine with green beans and twice-baked potatoes

cake: lemon cake with raspberry filling and Tahitian vanilla butter cream

first dance song: "Better Today" by Coffey Anderson

favorite decor element: rose gold geometric shapes

favor: bear and owl cookies, in honor of both their last names

something worth splurging on: the honeymoon

Vendors

photography: Lovefusion Photography, Littlestown, PA

catering: Country Club of York, York, PA

cake: Country Club of York, York, PA

flowers: Root to Bloom Florals, York, PA

invitations: Anstadt Communications, York, PA

bride's dress: Lilla's Bridal Boutique, York, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: Lulus

groom's attire: Men's Wearhouse, York, PA

rings: REEDS Jewelers, York, PA

disc jockey: Then We Danced, East Berlin, PA

transportation: CBRD, York, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Ellie: The first thing we did was pick a venue. I started there so we would be able to know what the date of the wedding would be since it was planned in a short amount of time.

TWP: How did you select the attire of the members of the wedding party?

Ellie: I always knew what colors I wanted to do for the wedding and the type of dresses I wanted, so I tried to find places that had something similar.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Ellie: John really did not have much to do with the planning of the wedding, because he did not really care about the details, but rather just wanted it to be what I wanted. The car that we drove off in was the only thing that my husband really planned.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Ellie: Staying within budget. You had to learn how to prioritize what is most important to you both to spend money on, since weddings are already expensive to start.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Ellie: Take a couple minutes for the two of you to be alone on your wedding day. Make sure to take your time to enjoy the day.

Photos by Lovefusion Photography, www.lovefusionphoto.com

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Kelly & Zach December 20, 2018

Meet Kelly and Zach

bride's hometown: Baltimore, MD

groom's hometown: Lancaster, PA

current place of residence: Bel Air, MD

bride's occupation: quality engineer

groom's occupation: procurement representative

how they met: Zach and Kelly met the very first day of freshman orientation at Elizabethtown College. They were assigned to the same peer group and were friends throughout college before starting to date in their senior year.

the proposal: The couple was on the way to Lancaster for Zach's birthday when Zach suggested a surprise stop at Elizabethtown College for lunch. After lunch, Zach said he wanted to take a walk. When they reached the gazebo on campus overlooking the lake, Zach showed Kelly a scrapbook he had made of their entire relationship. The last page said, "Kelly, will you marry me?" After she said yes, they went to a surprise party with their families and friends to celebrate.

length of engagement: a year and a half

honeymoon destination: Jamaica

The Wedding

wedding date: May 19, 2018

ceremony and reception location: Riverdale Manor, Lancaster, PA

wedding colors: purple, gray, and green

wedding theme: natural and romantic

readings during the ceremony: an excerpt from "Les Miserables" (bride's choice) and "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin (groom's choice).

special music: Kelly and Zach each chose the instrumental song that was performed by Cherrywood Ensembles as they walked into the ceremony. Kelly chose "All I Ask of You" from "The Phantom of the Opera," and Zach chose "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin.

something that made the ceremony extra special: The officiant was a longtime family friend.

flowers: wildflowers in bright and happy colors

the menu: tomato soup shooters with mini grilled cheese, Buffalo chicken wonton cups, smoked salmon bites, a grilled pizza station, a kebab station, a carving station, and a late-night popcorn station

cake: carrot cake, plus a dessert bar that included assorted mini bar cookies and whoopie pies, carrot cake, peach pie, and coconut custard tart

first dance song: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

favorite aspects of the day: All of Riverdale Manor! Flowers! And the grilled pizza!

favor: succulents

Vendors

photography: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

disc jockey: Occasions Disc Jockeys, Elizabethtown, PA

ceremony musicians: Cherrywood String Ensembles, Lancaster

flowers: Petals with Style, Lancaster, PA

catering: Thyme & Seasons, Lancaster, PA

dresses for the bride and bridesmaids: K&B Bridals, Bel Air, MD

shuttle: Shultz Transportation, Willow Street, PA

rehearsal dinner: The Greenfield Restaurant, Lancaster, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

Kelly and Zach: The first thing we did was find our venue and set our wedding date. By picking the wedding venue first, it helped to define the whole feel of the day, which made everything else easier to plan!

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress and the bridesmaids' dresses?

Kelly: We picked purple for the color for the bridal party because we thought it would pop against the landscape. The bridesmaids picked their own styles within that color. I selected my dress by trying multiple styles until finally feeling like a bride!

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Kelly and Zach: The ceremony was personalized to be exactly "Zach and Kelly." The ceremony music selections and readings incorporated each of our personalities and favorite music. The ceremony was designed by both of us and our officiant, a longtime family friend.

Additionally, we love food and were really excited for the choices for appetizers, dinner, and desserts (although it is so true that the bride and groom don't have time to eat!).

Riverdale Manor was also a perfect reflection of our personalities. We chose the venue together, and it was love at first sight!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Kelly and Zach: The biggest challenge was staying organized. There are a lot of details, and it's a lot to coordinate. But with the support of your partner and other close friends and family, wedding planning can be fun!

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Kelly and Zach: Plan ahead and do as much as you possibly can ahead of time. Don't procrastinate! That way, the final days leading up to the wedding are fun and relaxing, rather than stressful.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography, emilygracephoto.com

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Casey & Jason December 20, 2018

Meet Casey and Jason

bride's hometown: Dunmore, PA

groom's hometown: Greensburg, PA

current place of residence: Carlisle, PA

bride's occupation: human services case manager

groom's occupation: car sales

how they met: The couple met one night when Jason was out with his work friends and Casey was out with her girlfriends. They chatted for the rest of the night and went on their first date a week later. "Every day since has been another 'date,'" says Casey.

the proposal: Since Casey is from the Scranton area, she and Jason made the trip to Scranton to enjoy the city's huge St. Patrick's Day celebration. Before the parade, they took a walk around Lake Scranton, as they often do when they visit Casey's parents. Casey was completely surprised when Jason proposed while overlooking the lake. They announced their engagement to Casey's entire family later at the parade.

length of engagement: just over 2 years

honeymoon destination: Key West, FL

The Wedding

wedding date: April 21, 2018

ceremony and reception location: Linwood Estate, Carlisle, PA

wedding colors: plum and dark gray

wedding theme: wine and rustic elegance

something that made the ceremony extra special: Casey's good friend Kyle officiated the ceremony. "Kyle became ordained just for our wedding," Casey explains. "The ceremony was short, sweet, and perfectly personalized by Kyle honoring us with his from-the-heart sermon."

flowers: The bride's bouquet was a neat but voluminous bouquet created with a base of purple hydrangea with delicate stems of purple anemone and petite dark purple dendrobium orchids. The bridesmaids' bouquets mirrored the bride's bouquet in style but included white hydrangea, white anemones, and purple dendrobium orchids.

centerpieces: Casey and Jason made their centerpieces, which included wine bottle table numbers, handmade plum candles made from cut wine bottles, and cut glittered wine bottles made into vases that held a single chrysanthemum.

the menu: braised beef short ribs, lump Maryland crab cakes, and roasted eggplant rolls with red pepper swirled garlic mashed potatoes and Parmesan-crusted asparagus

cake: a custom-designed five-tier white chocolate cake with white chocolate filling and white chocolate buttercream frosting, silver glitter, and rosette accents

first dance song: "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran

memorable moment: "My favorite was when Casey decided to steal the microphone from the DJ and give the entire reception a surprise rendition of 'Don't Stop Believing,'" says Jason.

favorite decorations: "The bells that we made from cut wine bottles that we etched with J & C and placed at each table for people to ring and prompt us to kiss during the reception were one of my favorite aspects," Casey relates. "They also became a dancing prop for some of the guests!" Also particularly special to Casey was the cork board made from wine corks that was put together by her friends and bridesmaids to display table assignments for the reception.

favor: photo booth printouts. Guests also placed a copy of their pictures in a scrapbook so that Casey and Jason can enjoy all of the sweet, funny, and ridiculous photos too.

something worth splurging on: "Our biggest splurge was on our amazing wedding venue. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the perfect setting for our wedding," recalls Casey. "We knew there was no other option for us."

Vendors

photography: Kimberly Wright Photography, State College, PA

dresses: Simone's Unlimited, Hanover, PA

cake: Sweet Confections Cakes, Harrisburg, PA

flowers: Sarah's Floral Design, Carlisle, PA

caterer: The JDK Group, Camp Hill, PA

hair: Jessica and Tara from Cachet Salon, Carlisle, PA

makeup: Ceresa Myers Moritz, Littlestown, PA

disc jockey: Ryan Miller Entertainment, Hershey, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

Casey and Jason: We found our wedding venue first and then planned our wedding date around the venue availability. Even beginning the planning process a year and a half before our wedding, our first choice of wedding date was booked. Thankfully, our date was flexible. We knew we wanted our wedding and reception at the same place. We fell in love with the entire venue from the amazing mansion setting for cocktail hour to the grandiose reception area, but as soon as we saw the lake on Linwood's grounds we knew it would be perfect for our ceremony! We both love being on the water, and that sealed the deal for us. We could not have imagined having our special day anywhere else.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Casey: I had a completely open mind as to the type and style of dress. It took five different bridal shops and trying on more than 50 different dresses before I found "the one" on an impromptu road trip with a friend. Since it was spontaneous to pop into that bridal shop, my mother was obviously not with me, so we video chatted with her (and her all of her colleagues during a staff meeting) for her thoughts. She loved it too. The owner of Simone's Unlimited customized my dress to be even more perfect than I could have imagined by adding a hint of glitter under the lace and buttons down the back of the dress and train.

The bridesmaids' dresses mirrored my wedding dress with many of the same features, including a sweetheart neckline, a jeweled waistline, and a lace bodice. My finicky sister said "yes" to the bridesmaid's dress, and the decision was made!

Jason knew he wanted a dark gray tuxedo, which is how our colors became plum and gray. He picked his tux and the groomsmen's patterned vests and elegant plum ties to match the bridesmaids' dresses. (Jason very much impressed his bride with his tastes in fashion!)

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Casey: Jason works a lot, so I jumped down the rabbit hole of Pinterest and put together options for all of the wedding elements and sent Jason streams of texts and emails of ideas for our perfect wedding that reminded me of "us." On our first date, I introduced Jason to the first bottle of wine he actually liked, so the wine bottle accents came from that idea. Plus, we got to try a ton of different wines in our quest to collect the needed bottles and corks that were essential for all of our wine-related wedding projects. Choosing wine by the look of the bottle and the type of cork was quite an experience!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Casey: No matter how prepared we thought we were and how much planning we did, there were just so many last-minute details to be arranged. Thankfully, Jason constantly reminded me that no matter what, come the end of the day, we would be married and everything would be perfect. He was right! There were some unexpected issues that did occur, but, thankfully, my amazing maids of honor took care of them, and we did not find out until after our wedding day!

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Casey and Jason: Make sure you have amazing friends and family to help with all of the tasks to get ready for the wedding! There are so many tasks and preparations that you could have never imagined!

Photos by Kimberly Wright Photography, kimberlywrightphotography.com

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Meet Nina And Jerry January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Sinking Spring, PA

groom's hometown: Roulette, PA

current place of residence: Conshohocken, PA

bride's occupation: accountant

groom's occupation: social media specialist

proposal story: While visiting his family in picturesque Potter County, PA, Jerry took Nina for a little hike on a hill nearby. "At the top of the hill was a gorgeous view of mountains covered in fall foliage, so we decided to set his camera on the tripod and take a couple self-timer photos," Nina recalls. "After about two photos, I looked over and he was on his knee! I was so caught off guard ... and it was all caught on film."

length of engagement: one and a half years

honeymoon destination: Iceland and the Amalfi Coast of Italy

The Wedding

wedding date: June 3, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Stoltzfus Homestead & Gardens, Gordonville, PA

menu: chicken breast with a tangy bacon marmalade, marsala beef bistro tenders, and whipped sweet potatoes

a special facet of the ceremony: Nina and Jerry's good friend was able to make it home from deployment in Kuwait just in time to be the officiant for their ceremony.

first dance song: "Coming Home" by Leon Bridges

favorite decoration: "I was obsessed with my bouquet," says Nina. "The peonies, the colors, the wild leaves - so beautiful!"

favor: mini bottles of Papa Picarelli's homemade limoncello

something worth splurging on: "A venue you are in love with!" says Nina. "Although Stoltzfus Homestead wasn't that much of a splurge compared to some other places, it was worth every penny because of its fun and relaxed, yet beautiful environment," she explains, adding, "The staff there was phenomenal. We felt so at home, and the venue really made the wedding. Guests are still commenting about how beautiful it was on the Homestead."

Vendors

photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

cupcakes: Oregon Dairy, Lititz, PA

hair and makeup: West London Salon, Intercourse, PA

catering: Artistic Foods Catering, York, PA

flowers: Pearls & Petals, Intercourse, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Nina: Besides estimating the guest count, shopping for venues was first! We felt that everything else - decor, theme, vibe, etc. - would mold around that.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Nina: We both just love being outdoors, so we were thrilled to find a venue with a lot of outdoor space and also beautiful indoor space. It allowed us to incorporate a little bit of what we each wanted. For me: elements of nature and home - a mix of bright and pastel flowers, comfort food, and photos of the family. For Jerry: outdoor activities such as cornhole and a fire pit with s'mores.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Nina: Working with your budget.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Nina: It's probably been said a million times, but just have fun and try not to stress too much! Focus on the few things that are truly important to you and don't sweat the small stuff. I kept on reminding myself that the guests at our wedding are our closest friends and family ... if something didn't go perfectly right or if it didn't look like photos out of a high-end wedding magazine, they would not judge us (if they even noticed). What matters the most to everybody who matters is having fun celebrating love.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography, www.emilygracephoto.com

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Meet Sierra And Shane January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Manheim, PA -

groom's hometown: Manheim, PA

current place of residence: Manheim, PA

bride's occupation: administrative assistant and student

groom's occupation: landscaper

how they met: Sierra and Shane went to high school together and started dating during their senior year.

proposal story: Each Memorial Day weekend, Shane, Sierra, and Shane's family camp at a place called the Spring House in Juniata County. The highlight of the trip is canoeing down the Juniata River, and as Shane and Sierra were canoeing, Shane asked to pull over so they could stretch their legs. As they walked along the river, Shane stopped, got down on one knee, and proposed. But that wasn't the only surprise for Sierra. "My whole family and his whole family were standing behind trees taking photos of us," Sierra recalls.

length of engagement: 11 months

honeymoon destination: Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Wedding

wedding date: May 20, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Lakefield Weddings, Manheim, PA

wedding colors: blush pink, gold, and champagne

menu: beef brisket, cheesy potatoes, and fruit salad

cake: chocolate and vanilla cake with buttercream icing

first dance song: "You & I," which was customized by the bride and groom and was sung by a friend

favorite decoration: Sierra bought rustic doors off the Lancaster wedding yard sale Facebook page and painted "Love Never Fails" across the top for guests to see as they walked in.

favor: four kinds of homemade jelly made by the bride's family

something worth splurging on: photographer

Vendors

photography: Janae Rose Photography LLC, Myerstown, PA

cake: Cake and Cup Bake Shoppe, Lititz, PA

food: SEI Catering, Lititz, PA

bride's dress: Country Threads by Gail, Manheim, PA

decorations: Lancaster wedding yard sale page on Facebook

florist: Elm Family Flowers, Manheim, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Sierra: The first thing we did was pick the venue, which was probably the most fun part. The venue we had was beautiful, and it was the first one we looked at. I was inspired to do this first because it was our biggest expense and it was getting booked very quickly.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Sierra: I really did not have any idea as to what I wanted my dress to look like, but one night while driving home from work, I saw my dress in the window of a local dress shop and knew right away that was the dress for me. I called the next morning and bought it.

Pinterest helped me a lot with picking out the groom's attire, and I pretty much let it up to my husband-to-be to choose. After he chose what he liked, we could decide on the bridal party.

For the bridesmaids' dresses, each girl bought her own dress at the store of her choice.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Sierra: Enjoy each moment of the wedding planning process, because it will fly by.

Photos by Janae Rose Photography LLC, http://janaerosephotography.com

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Meet Meena And Josh January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Brooklyn, NY

groom's hometown: Media, PA

current place of residence: Brooklyn, NY

bride's occupation: middle school technology integrator

groom's occupation: high school guidance counselor

how they met: The couple met while teaching in Brooklyn. Meena was an art teacher, and Josh taught high school teenagers in special education. Josh flirted with her for a full year without receiving much of a response. Finally, he got his friends to convince Meena to go out one night in Alphabet City, and he joked his way into her heart.

proposal story: Josh surprised Meena with a proposal in a park in San Francisco. The couple was on a West Coast road trip for two weeks, and Josh popped the question on the first night of the trip. It was a complete surprise until Meena noticed that Josh was having a hard time breathing and was acting strangely, and she realized what was about to happen. At that very moment, a photographer Josh had hired popped out of the bushes and captured the moment.

length of engagement: almost two years

honeymoon destination: "Josh and I are lucky to enjoy our summers off together as educators," Meena remarks. "We enjoyed six weeks of adventure, romance, and sweaty heat in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam."

The Wedding

wedding date: June 24, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Historic Acres of Hershey, Elizabethtown, PA

wedding colors: "We chose to focus on vibrant colors like yellows and oranges for the ceremony and bright flowers with an organic flow for the reception," explains Meena. "We wanted our wedding to look different, not like the traditional 'all-white wedding.'"

wedding theme: colorful, vibrant, bright

bride's bouquet: fuchsia stock, delphinium, yellow button poms, white bouvardia, purple tulips, orange

spray roses, purple freesia, pink astilbe, burgundy garden roses, plumosa fern, olive branch, and seeded

eucalyptus

the ceremony: A Hindu priest performed the ceremony and read from ancient Vedic scriptures.

the menu: signature cocktails, a specialty keg, three wedding cake flavors, and an ice cream sundae bar

cake: a two-layer sheer red velvet cake

first dance song: ortoPilot cover of "Grow Old With You"

favorite decoration: wooden farm tables

something worth splurging on: travel and experiences

Vendors

photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

bride's dress: RK Bridal, New York, NY

tuxedo rental: The Tux Shop, Bayonne, NJ

hair and makeup: Bombshell Brides, Hershey, PA

traditional Indian sari draping for bride and bridesmaids: Deluxe Hair and Beauty Salon, Mechanicsburg

ceremony pergola flower design, farm table garlands, and hanging mason jars: Roots Cut

Flower Farm, Carlisle, PA

bridal and bridal party bouquets: Royer's Flowers & Gifts

carnation ceremony garlands and reception centerpieces: Wegmans Floral Design

antique furniture styling: Swoon Vintage Rental, Hummelstown, PA

catering: Passage to India, Harrisburg, PA

wedding cake: Rosie's Creative Cakes, Manheim, PA

ice cream sundae bar: Leo's Homemade Ice Cream, Carlisle, PA

specialty keg: Tröegs Independent Brewing, Hershey, PA

servers and food cleanup: MACK Employment Services

hotels: Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg Hershey, Harrisburg, PA, and Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel, Harrisburg, PA

transportation: Rohrer Bus, Duncannon, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Meena: The first thing we did was to find venues. We knew our wedding was most likely going to be outside New York City. We looked for a venue that that had an open feel and included a lot of green space, something we knew we wouldn't be able to find in NYC.

Josh was totally a "groomzilla" when we began wedding planning. He did hours of research on venues and wanted to talk about it often. Little did I know how helpful that was going to be. (Thank you, Josh!) He made a spreadsheet with the maximum number of guests we could have at each venue, the number of hours at the venue included in the rental, and a list of items that were included at each venue (because tables and chairs were not always included in the rental). I poked fun at Josh for being SO into the planning; meanwhile, I was clueless where to begin. I am so glad we got a head start on the venue search because of him.

TWP: How did you select your dresses and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Meena: I loved picking out my dresses; I had two outfit changes. Traditionally, Indian wedding ceremonies and the reception are not held on the same day, but we decided we wanted all wedding festivities on the same day, which meant we both had to change for the reception. We both knew we wanted to have fun with our outfits and we didn't want the "traditional" look. I knew I did not want to adhere to the traditional pure red outfit for the ceremony. Instead, I looked for an outfit that included a lot of pink, which is my favorite color, and had a regal, elegant, and sophisticated feel. As soon as I tried on my outfit, I knew it was the one.

I purchased my ceremony outfit first and then looked for my white reception dress about five months before our wedding date. I went to RK Bridal in New York City and loved my experience there. I went by myself for the first appointment and tried on a few gowns. I fell in love with the first wedding dress I tried on! That same day, I tried on several other dresses with different shapes and cuts and took photos of my favorite ones and texted them to my friends. They were eager to see the dresses in person, so a few weeks later, I asked them to come with me to choose the dress. Everyone had a different opinion of what they liked on me. In the end, I was glad I chose what I liked. I knew immediately that the dress complemented my petite figure and was elegant, and - most of all - the train wouldn't get in the way of me dancing.

Josh and I are super laid back, so we asked our closest friends to choose outfits they would feel comfortable in and would flatter them. The groomsmen wore handsome suits, and the bridesmaids wore beautiful, flattering dresses they could dance in all night.

Josh and I loved the outfits we chose. They were very flattering, and we have received so many compliments.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Meena: Since we had a long engagement, we had ample time to put a lot of thought into different aspects of the wedding. We used our strengths to make large decisions about decor, food, and design. I used my creative art background to design the mandap (pergola) for the ceremony. Josh was in charge of choosing the food, beverages, and desserts.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Meena: The biggest challenge as a couple was creating a wedding that was our vision. It was challenging to respond to questions from family about why we weren't adhering to "traditional" wedding expectations.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Meena: Consider the importance of all the decisions you make. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography, www.emilygracephoto.com

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Opposites Attract January 18, 2018

We know that sometimes opposites attract when it comes to romantic relationships. Brides and grooms planning their wedding decor should note that the "opposites attract" adage can be applied in the spectrum of colors, as well.

You may remember learning at some point in school about the color wheel, which is a visual representation of the progression of the colors in the color spectrum. But who knew that thinking back to the days of elementary school art class could help with planning an aesthetically pleasing wedding celebration?

Colors found on opposite sides of the wheel are known as complementary colors. These combos - red and green, yellow and purple, and blue and orange - are known to couple well together, and you can enlist one of these classic pairings when selecting a color palette for the decorations, wedding party attire, and other elements of your big day.

Red & Green

When most people think of the color combination of red and green, they probably think of Christmas. And it's true that the duo does provide a classic color scheme for a wedding during the holiday season, highlighting the colors of evergreen trees and holly berries. But red and green can be used in wedding decor at other times of the year too. In the summer months, the color combination evokes a field of brilliant red poppies amidst fresh green grass. And in the fall, darker shades of the hues suggest the deep reds and greens found on a walk through the woods.

Yellow & Purple

The complementary hues of yellow and purple make for a versatile color palette that can provide a burst of color at a wedding taking place at any time of the year. From the pastel yellows and lavenders of springtime to the bolder goldenrods and regal purples of summer, the two colors are quintessential hues found in blooms throughout the year. Mustard and deep grape pair well in the autumn, and what better way to liven up the darker days of winter than with some sunshine yellow and orchid?

Blue & Orange

Orange might seem like a bold choice for a wedding, but pairing it with blue makes for a fun, fresh combination for attire, flowers, decorations, and even food. The calm and flattering nature of blue hues can take the edge off the brightness of orange, while an accent of vibrant tangerine will pop against a setting of tranquil blue. In fact, the two colors are often found in some of nature's loveliest displays - from the blues of the sky fading into the deep orange of a sunset to the midday summer sky behind a bright orange marigold or an orange fall leaf floating down a babbling stream. Since the color combination works so well in nature, it stands to reason that it also offers attractive options for a wedding too.

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Meet Jaimie And James January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Washington Township, NJ

groom's hometown: Washington Township, NJ

current place of residence: Gaithersburg, MD

bride's occupation: lieutenant in United States Navy (nurse)

groom's occupation: electrical engineer

how they met: Jaimie and Jim knew each other through mutual friends in high school and college and often hung out in the same group, but never talked much. After graduating from college, they both went to a concert featuring The Black Keys with mutual friends and ended up talking all night. The next day, they both asked a mutual friend about each other. Jim got Jaimie's phone number and asked her out to dinner - the rest is history!

proposal story: Jim told Jaimie to take the weekend off for a "surprise getaway" and took her to Asheville, North Carolina, to the Biltmore Estate. After a day of horseback riding and touring the property, they hiked up a small hill to a bench overlooking the Biltmore Mansion, where Jim popped the question.

length of engagement: a year and a half

honeymoon destination: Reykjavik, Iceland

The Wedding

wedding date: October 29, 2016-

ceremony and reception location: Ironstone Ranch, Elizabethtown, PA

wedding colors: gray, plum, and burnt orange

wedding theme: rustic, farm

the menu: dual entree dinner service of stuffed chicken breast and sliced pork tenderloin, grilled root vegetables, and whipped sweet potatoes

cake: a small pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing for the bride and groom to do a cake cutting, as well as several fall-themed desserts: caramel apple cheesecake bars, buckeye brownies, pumpkin whoopie pies, and mini chocolate-covered pretzel cupcakes. There was also a s'mores station at the fire pit outside.

flowers: wheat, lavender, ivory wildflowers, orange ranunculus, and purple limonium

special readings included in ceremony: Ecclesiastes 4:12

first dance song: "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

favorite design element: "Our venue was beautiful enough without having to add a lot," Jaimie and Jim note. "We complemented it with just a little bit of personal touch to really bring out its magnificence."

favor: a small burlap bag of candy filled with Wilbur Buds (since the wedding was held in Lancaster County, PA) and Sixlets in the wedding colors

something worth splurging on: "Entertainment!" say Jaimie and Jim. "Our band was amazing, and the dance floor was always packed!"

Vendors

photographer: Encompass Photography (now called Quintay Creative), Philadelphia, PA

catering, cake, and desserts: C&J Catering, Harrisburg, PA

decorations and flowers: C&J Catering, Harrisburg, PA

bride's dress: Maggie Sottero

bridesmaids' dresses: Weddington Way

groom and groomsmen's suits: Men's Wearhouse

entertainment: Bachelor Boys Band

hair: Studio D Salon, Wormleysburg, PA

makeup: Maggie King Makeup Artistry, York, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Jaimie and Jim: We first sought out venues. Jaimie's love for horses always made her want to be married on a farm and have the horse-and-carriage fairytale wedding. Being a good husband-to-be, Jim wanted to do whatever would make her happy! We knew that once we found the venue, everything else would fall into place around that.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Jaimie: For my dress, I knew that I wanted something simple, yet elegant - that's always been my style. My mom flew out to visit, and just the two of us went dress shopping. I wanted it to be a special moment between us. I had picked out several dresses online to try on, but once we got to the boutique, the saleswoman brought out the dress I ultimately chose. I didn't need to try on any others after that!

We picked the color scheme after Pinterest-ing and decided on plum and gray with burnt orange accents. I wanted my bridesmaids to have some freedom with their dresses to allow them to feel confident. With bridesmaids scattered throughout the country, they weren't all able to get together to try on dresses at the same time. Weddington Way made it possible to order dresses online and also offered different styles for them to choose from. All of the girls were happy with the process and the ability to be unique and wear something they really loved.

The guys were easy; once we chose gray as the suit color, they simply showed up at Men's Wearhouse and let the staff show them the options. Jim was able to show off his personality with fun purple socks and a pocket square.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: With every decision, whoever was "researching" it would find several options that they liked. We would then discuss the options with each other and make a mutual decision. We have very similar tastes, so it wasn't very hard to compromise!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: The biggest challenge was probably feeling like we had to please everyone (parents, other members of the bridal party, etc.) when it came to decisions surrounding the wedding. But, at the end of the day, we always came back to the fact that it was OUR wedding and should be a reflection of us.

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TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: Create a timeline for planning and stick to it! Having all of the big things out of the way early will allow you time to take care of the million little things that will pop up toward the end that you never would have thought about.

Photos by Encompass Photography (now called Quintay Creative), www.quintaycreative.com

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Meet Brittany And Zachary January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Havertown, PA

groom's hometown: Newville, PA

current place of residence: Reading, PA

bride's occupation: environmental scientist

groom's occupation: engineering teacher

how they met: Zach and Brittany had the same last name, so when Zach Potter transferred from Shippensburg University to Millersville University for his sophomore year of college, one of his friends from high school introduced him to her friend Brittany Potter, "because the Potters should meet!"

proposal story: Zach proposed to Brittany alongside the Niagara Falls in Canada on their 10-year anniversary, after they had dinner in the Skylon Tower. Zach gave Brittany his maternal grandmother's solitaire diamond ring, circa mid- to late-1940s. Niagara Falls already had special significance, as Brittany and Zach had taken a trip there when they first started dating. They also visited Niagara Falls to celebrate their first anniversary a year later.

length of engagement: 16 months

honeymoon destination: Camp Cabarita Eco Resort in Glenbrook, Jamaica, and Couples Swept Away Resort in Negril, Jamaica

The Wedding

wedding date: March 25, 2017

ceremony and reception location: The Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, PA

a little help from their friends: Brittany and Zach have personal ties to many of the vendors who helped with their wedding. Alana Berry, who is the owner of Bow & Arrow Calligraphy and Design and designed their invitations, is the mutual friend who first introduced them in college. Additionally, the musician teaches with Zach; the disc jockey coached football with Zach; the son and daughter-in-law of the florist who created the corsages, boutonnieres, and rose arrangements work with Zach and are friends of the couple; the salon owner's husband is one of Brittany's co-workers; and Brittany and Zach also knew the vendor from whom they purchased the dried flowers used in centerpieces and other decorations, as well as the vendor from whom they purchased their beverage cozy favors.

invitations: "Our invitations were extra special to me, because in addition to Alana's design, my aunt attached unique pockets to the back of each invitation to hold the RSVP postcard," Brittany says. "My aunt and I went through her 30-plus years of cardstock and unique papers to pick out the pocket patterns - different textures, colors, designs were used."

wedding colors: purple/lavender, yellow, and blue

wedding theme: ballroom DIY

the menu: homestyle meals featuring cornbread-stuffed chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies

cake: chocolate

bride's bouquet: Brittany thought of a special twist for her bouquet. "My bouquet was made of flowers given to me by my best girlfriends," she explains. "I sent them a handmade card in the mail asking them to bring a flower. This way, they could be beside me during the ceremony. Some ladies asked me what I wanted, but I refused to say anything! I just told them that they know me and that I would enjoy anything - wooden, silk, real, fake. Whatever they chose! I was given two artificial flowers, lilies, bird of paradise, and roses, among other flowers. There was a good amount of orange, yellow, and purple - my favorite colors."

centerpieces: Each table had a slab of tree trunk cut by Zach's dad with a dried flower display of either high or low height, a recycled wine bottle with a saying on it and the table number extending out of the top, and small soy candles that Brittany poured herself in second-hand or reused containers. The low tables had small white vases of yarrow and clear vases of lavender with river rocks; the high tables had one bigger vase with yarrow, lavender, eucalyptus, and blue globe thistle.

special readings included in ceremony: a Native American wedding blessing, a Dr. Seuss quote called "We Are All a Little Weird," and Shel Silverstein's poem "Happy Endings"

first dance song: "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young performed by Berks County musician Mike Noecker on guitar and vocals

favor: personalized drink cozies

something worth splurging on: "Music," says Brittany, who explained that the disc jockey and live musician helped to make the event flow. "We didn't plan on having a DJ until we realized we knew a DJ! In hindsight, we would have had a totally different night if we didn't have him to announce the first dance, dinner time, etc.," Brittany explains. "Our live musician also helped a great deal with welcoming everyone, getting them ready for the ceremony, and keeping everyone informed."

Vendors

photography: White Willow Photography, New Holland, PA

cake: The Inn at Reading's bakery, Wyomissing, PA

invitation design: Bow & Arrow Calligraphy and Design, Lancaster, PA

live music: Michael Noecker, Reading, PA

disc jockey: Scott Troutman, Reading, PA

bride's second dress: Agnes Edmunds Bridal and Formal, Pottstown, PA

fresh flowers (corsages and boutonnieres, as well as the rose arrangements around hurricane lamps): Color It Green, Reading, PA

dried flowers for centerpieces and venue decorations: purchased in bulk from Right Choice USA, Reading, PA

salon: Salon Styles, Wyomissing, PA

makeup: Roxy Jackson

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Brittany: We picked a general location. In our case, we ended up ruling out having the wedding outdoors in Zach's parents' backyard, which was a bit to our surprise because I always thought we'd get married in their yard. We decided to have the wedding indoors in Reading somewhere. Once we did this, any time of year became an option, not just warmer months. Next we had to pick a date (in part because every venue was surprised we didn't have a date picked), which kind of happened simultaneously with picking a venue. We kept bouncing around ideas and thoughts about any wedding topic/aspect, but nothing actually started getting planned until we picked a date.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Brittany: My gram's dress fit my personality and was in good shape - not to mention that I adore my grandmother. I didn't even really need to decide; I just knew before we were even engaged that I'd wear her dress. A second dress made sense so I wouldn't party in the antique dress and rip it or spill on it. I wore my great-grandmother's diamond earrings and my mom's bracelet.

Zach picked his suit, purple tie, yellow socks, and pocket square. His cousin, who is a metal artist, crafted French cufflinks for him using a mold of his late sister's ring as a way to memorialize her on our special day. His boutonniere was a pink rose in honor of his sister, Melissa, and there was a pink rose among all white roses in the flowers our sisters carried down the aisle, in honor of Melissa also. We let my sister and Ana, Zach's sister whom his parents adopted from Guatemala, pick their dresses.

TWP: What was your favorite design element of the wedding?

Brittany: Our ceremony space and the Adirondack chair photo op with our guests; my uncle made the chairs for us. We decorated our ceremony space with curtain lights and shepherd hooks with different items (dream catchers, lanterns, and candles). The aisle was shaped by battery-operated tea lights, and our guests gathering on the dance floor. My gram, whose dress I wore, was wheeled down the aisle, and everyone cheered for her! My cousin carried a lantern down the aisle and placed it on a hook. Our sisters carried antique pewter hurricane lamps with candlesticks in them, surrounded by roses, and then placed them on a table that was beside where Zach and I stood for the ceremony. When my dad and I walked in, everyone was cheering! It was a lot of fun and light-hearted. I couldn't have imagined it any better.

After the procession, the lights were picked up and everyone gathered closely around the riser we stood on. This was amazing and intimate, even though we had about 175 guests. We did not have an officiant; rather, we did the ceremony ourselves. It was similar to a Quaker wedding, but we are not Quaker so we did not overly emphasis this, but we did acknowledge that it is the Quaker heritage in Pennsylvania that made it legal for us the get married that way. Zach and I each needed one witness, but we had everyone sign a copy of our marriage certificate, which was blown up, matted, and placed on an easel for our guests to sign.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Brittany: Because it was DIY, I think our personalities were all over the wedding. Zach is a carpenter, and we used wood slices in the centerpieces. I love dried flowers, so I used them for all of the centerpieces and decorations. We are very conscious of recycling and not wasting, so all of the vases we used were from second-hand stores or family members; I poured all of the candles into recycled jars/containers. The decorated wine bottles incorporated into the centerpieces were also recycled. We also picked our wedding colors together. Lastly, I think it was really fun and special that we knew almost all of our vendors.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Brittany: Staying organized and focused! Also, agonizing over the details because we did not purchase a package.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Brittany: Work together and STAY POSITIVE. Do not discuss too much at one sitting or force discussions. Zach and I decided that either of us could say we were "full up" or saturated with the wedding talk in any given night of discussions. (Usually he reached saturation before I did!) Also, remember the end goal and that it is about the two of you, not what others want.

Photos by White Willow Photography, http://whitewillowphoto.com/

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Meet Paige And Evan November 28, 2017

bride's hometown: Hummelstown, PA

groom's hometown: Manchester, PA

current place of residence: Royersford, PA

bride's occupation: worship arts coordinator

groom's occupation: underwriting associate CL

how they met: The couple first met at Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene in York, PA, where Paige was a worship intern and Evan helped lead the church's young adult small group. Both Paige and Evan helped with the middle school/high school youth group, and Paige recalls being impressed by how much the students respected Evan and how invested he was in their lives.

proposal story: On the couple's four-month anniversary, they went to see "Moses" at Sight & Sound Theatres and then stopped at the same Dunkin Donuts where they'd had their first date. Sitting at the same table they sat at on their first date, Evan presented Paige with a box with a light blue stuffed heart in it that said "Be Mine." After Paige picked up the stuffed heart, she saw another, smaller box beneath it that contained a ring. After Evan proposed and Paige accepted, they went to Paige's house, where friends and family members threw them a surprise engagement party.

length of engagement: one year, to the day

honeymoon destination: Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas

The Wedding

wedding date: February 20, 2016

ceremony location: St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Red Lion, PA

reception location: The Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA

wedding colors: light pinks, peach, black and white stripes, and gold glitter

wedding theme: romantic and classy

the menu: buffet featuring chicken, cocoa-marinated beef, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, a salad bar, different kinds of cheeses, the groom's mother's famous punch, Hershey's peanut butter chocolate pie, assorted macaroons and petit fours, and a hot chocolate and coffee bar

wedding cake: lemon cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing. Each tier was a different design and color: The bottom two layers were different shades of pink to match the bridesmaids' dresses, the third layer had a black and white striped design, and the top was a gold dusted layer with a "To the Moon and Back" cake topper. "Evan and I would say that phrase all throughout our relationship and engagement, and we incorporated that design element throughout our wedding," explains Paige.

flowers: pink cabbage roses, baby's breath, lily of the valley, stephanotis, and white orchids

first dance song: "Come What May" from the movie "Moulin Rouge" sung by Mr. Brennan and Mandi Bell, friends of the groom

favorite element of the reception: a tie between the choreographed mashup father/daughter dance featuring "What A Wonderful World," "The Twist," "Stayin' Alive," "Billy Jean," and "Shake It Off" and the beautifully designed sweetheart table

favors: a Hershey's candy bar in honor, as well as a doughnut from Dunkin Donuts in Hershey in honor of where Evan and Paige had their first date and got engaged

one thing worth splurging on: music. "We wanted to make sure we had a live jazz band that could play music that would capture the feel of our wedding as well as express our taste in music," says Paige.

advice for other brides and grooms planning a wedding: Make sure you take time to take a break from all the planning and invest in your significant other.

Vendors Used

wedding planner: Susan Moran of That's It! Wedding Concepts LLC, Mechanicsburg, PA

photographer: Tennison Photography, Lancaster, PA (or Tennison Commercial Photography )

videographer: Lavon Films, Lancaster, PA

cake and catering: The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA

bride's dress: POSH Bridal Shop, Lancaster, PA

decorations and lighting: Shumaker PDT, Lancaster, PA

flowers: Blooms By Vickrey, Camp Hill, PA

rings: The Jewelers Bench Inc., Hershey, PA

invitations, place cards, programs, and special signage: Persnickety Invitation Studio, York, PA

reception music: David Leonhardt Jazz Group, Easton, PA

hair and makeup: Shelbi Harmes Expressions, Akron, PA

limousine and bus: Premiere #1 Limousine Service, Middletown, PA

church vocalist: mezzosoprano Gwendolyn Bowers, Palmyra, PA

organist: Shawn Gingrich, Hershey PA

harpist: Louis Lynch, Camp Hill, PA

church reception: Linda Bish, Mount Joy, PA

photobooth: Mixed-Up Productions, Harrisburg, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal

groom and groomsmen's suits: Jos. A. Bank

dance lessons: PA DanceSport Ballroom, Hummelstown, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Paige: The very first thing that my mom and I did together was to book The Hotel Hershey for my reception venue. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having my reception at The Hotel Hershey, where my family would go every year for Christmas brunch. It was a dream come true to be able to have it there!

I have been in several weddings, so I knew that organization is key! That being said, I knew that I could not plan a long-distance wedding on my own, since I was in Philadelphia and the wedding was in Hershey, so my mother and I decided to invest in a top-notch wedding planner, Susan Moran from That's It! Wedding Concepts LLC, who pulled off the wedding of my dreams and kept everything and everyone organized.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Paige: I found my dream dress at POSH Bridal in Lancaster, PA. I was open to trying a vast variety of dresses, but there were a few elements that I knew the dress must have: a sleeveless design, a sweetheart neckline, chiffon material, and lots of sparkles. When I first tried on my dress, I liked it a lot but decided to keep trying some other dresses. But, when I tried the dress on for a second time, I knew without a doubt that that was my dress. I also liked the back of another dress that had horsehair-like material laced with sparkly gems, and I was able to have that incorporated in my dress as the train/bustle. I also chose a sparkly belt to accent the hourglass shape of the dress. I chose my Betsey Johnson shoes from David's Bridal because I love high heels and they were very sparkly!

For Evan and the groomsmen, we chose Jos. A. Bank because of its wide selection of suits and color choices and because of its many convenient locations. All of the groomsmen wore darker gray suits, while Evan wore a light gray suit that made him stand out. We also wanted the guys to wear plain white dress shirts and brown dress shoes. Evan provided skinny black-and-white checked ties as the groom's gift as well as various crazy socks that described each groomsman.

I gave the bridesmaids the freedom to choose any style dress that would be flattering on them and that would make them feel beautiful and that they could wear again! I chose David's Bridal because of its color choices, wide variety of dress styles, and affordability. I chose four specific colors in the pink and peach spectrum and told the girls that they could choose any dress as long as it was one of the four colors. For the accessories, I gave the girls complete freedom to choose whatever they wanted as long as it was gold and sparkly. My gift to the girls was whatever hairstyles they would like.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Paige: To Evan and me, the most important element that we incorporated into every part of our wedding was our relationship with Jesus. From the choice of music for the ceremony to the groomsmen's and bridesmaids' speeches, we wanted everyone to know that we love each other and that we love the Lord.

One special element I wanted in the ceremony was a time of prayer where both families and any pastors who were attending would come up and pray over our marriage. The Rev. Delbert Bieber, who married my parents, led the family and pastoral prayer during the ceremony. Also, Evan's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Bayse Reedy, and my pastor, the Rev. William Russell, both co-officiated the service and married us. These three men have a very special place in my heart, and they were an integral part of making our wedding day so special.

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Newlyweds In The Golden Years January 24, 2017

When they tied the knot on April 9, 2016, Wendell Rockey and Ruth Fender were not typical newlyweds, as they exchanged their vows at the ages of 92 and 86, respectively. The couple married in the Commons building at Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community (QPRC), where they are residents. As both Wendell and Ruth were married previously, they brought a wealth of marriage wisdom to their new union.

Wendell is a former U.S. Navy man and pastor. He has three children with his first wife, who died in 1962, and one with his second wife, who passed away three years after the couple moved to QPRC in 2008. Ruth, who was formerly employed as an activities director at a skilled nursing facility, moved to QPRC in 2012. She had been previously married for 25 years and has one child. Ruth had been a widow for 40 years before she and Wendell tied the knot.

Several months after their wedding day, The Wedding Planner checked in with the Rockeys, who were happy to share their insights on life, love, and marriage, drawn from decades of living and the first few months of their union together.

"Enjoying life together is beneficial at any age and arguably even more so later in life," Wendell said. His new bride concurred, saying, "When you get to this stage in life, love and marriage prove there is hope for companionship, regardless of your age or circumstance."

Ruth and Wendell first met in the Windows on Park Dining Room at QPRC when Ruth was looking for a place to sit and, always the gentleman, Wendell offered her a seat at his table. During their ensuing courtship, the couple realized they share many interests, and they incorporated a main one - music - into their wedding ceremony. As for planning the wedding, Wendell said, "I pretty much yielded to Ruth but offered some suggestions and she honored them. We planned our wedding ourselves. At a certain level, you probably need the help of a planner. It would save an awful lot of stress!" To that end, Wendell had one more piece of advice for couples embarking on planning a wedding: "Keep it simple. Simple can be beautiful."

The new marriage was not something Ruth entered into lightly. "I spent a long time thinking about getting married to him and thinking, 'Is this the best plan for these years of my life?'" she recalled. While being married again has been an adjustment, Ruth noted that she doesn't regret her decision at all. "Has it been worth it? Indeed! It's definitely better to be married," she said.

"Realize there are differences and you have to respect that and work through them," Wendell said. "Even in our advanced age, we're working through that." He noted that conflicts can sometimes arise over even simple things like what kind of music to listen to or what to watch on TV. "You're not going to change a person's tastes, but you have to make accommodations," he stressed.

No couple can expect to travel through life together without facing conflicts. "You have to talk about it," Wendell advised. "You have to identify what the other person is doing that upsets you and discuss the differences. Sometimes it is helpful to have an outside person give their perspective."

Ruth noted that the importance of compromise is something she's been adjusting to after being single for 40 years. "I was completely unaware that I made all of my decisions; I was just used to doing it," she explained. "Now someone else has input into our lives. Something I was surprised to learn when I married Wendell that I didn't know is that there are two right answers: mine and his," Ruth noted.

When asked what is important for couples - of any age - to know as they contemplate marriage, Wendell remarked, "Hopefully you know one another. To know a person is different than having information on them. You could have two people who are married but don't really know each other." He noted that truly knowing your spouse-to-be involves thoughtful, honest discussions of hopes for the future, as well as fears and anxieties.

Ruth said, "Be daring. Take initiative. Believe that you have something to offer somebody else. It's having a mindset that it's not what's in it for me but that I have something to contribute."

"Some people marry for what they get out of it, but marriage should be about serving each other," Wendell explained. "You should make your mate a better person and they should make you a better person. (Good candidates for marriage are) people who enrich one another and make each other better. You fill a need in each other's life and desire to make another person's life better."

Photos by Dale Brady.

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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.

Hawaii

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.

Mexico

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.

Japan

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.

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Wedding Budget 101 January 24, 2017

Couples engaged to be married have a lot on their plates as they begin planning their weddings. Whereas tradition once held that the parents of the bride paid for a couple's wedding, nowadays more and more engaged couples are completely or partially financing their own nuptials. That means prospective brides and grooms must develop wedding budgets that will ensure their first act as Mr. and Mrs. is not paying down debt.

In its 2015 Real Weddings Study, online bridal resource The Knot found that many couples still receive substantial financial support from their parents to pay for their weddings. The survey found that, on average, the bride's parents contributed 44 percent of the overall wedding budget in 2015, while the couple financed 43 percent. The remaining 13 percent was financed by the groom's parents and additional sources. Couples who hope to follow that formula or pay for their weddings on their own can heed the following tips to build wedding budgets that will not break the bank but will still ensure a day to remember forever.

· Examine your collective finances. Few couples know all of the details of each other's finances before getting engaged. While some may still hesitate to share their personal financial information upon getting engaged, an open and honest discussion and examination of each person's finances is the only way to develop a realistic wedding budget that both partners can live with. Once couples know what they can contribute, they can consult their parents to determine if their families intend to contribute.

· Develop a preliminary guest list. A preliminary guest list can give couples an idea of how large and expensive their weddings will be. According to the Real Weddings Study, the average cost per wedding guest in 2015 was $237. While that cost can vary greatly depending on geography and other factors, couples should keep that figure in mind when drafting their guest lists. If need be, keep costs down by trimming the guest list so it includes only close family members and friends.

· Don't count on gifts. Many couples justify runaway wedding budgets by telling themselves that they will ultimately get the money back in the form of wedding gifts. While many guests will give financial gifts, counting on such windfalls is a recipe for accruing debt. Do not build potential wedding gifts into a wedding budget. Couples that do so could be facing considerable debt upon returning home from their honeymoons.

· Gather quotes before choosing a wedding location. Where couples get married will have a great impact on how much money they will spend on their weddings. For example, the Real Weddings Study found that, in 2015, the average wedding in Manhattan cost couples slightly more than $82,000, while the average Alaskan wedding cost just over $17,000. Even within the same city, venues can vary greatly with regard to pricing and offerings, so couples should give themselves ample time to gather quotes and find an affordable venue they like.

· Research the average costs for vendors. Couples can conduct preliminary investigation to determine about how much they can expect to pay the vendors that provide photography, cake, music, and other services. Don't forget to budget for tax and gratuities.

· Build extra costs into the budget. When creating their budgets, couples must remember to include a little extra for unforeseen costs. Building such costs into the initial budget will make these unforeseen circumstances easier to handle.

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Neat Nuptials January 24, 2017

Weddings require a lot of planning. Couples hosting large weddings or even intimate gatherings can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of planning they must do to make their weddings into events they will remember and cherish forever.

Staying organized when planning a wedding is a tall order. It is wise to expect the unexpected when organizing a wedding, and the more organized couples can stay, the more fun they can have during the planning process, and the better they can handle the unforeseen circumstances that are bound to arise in the months leading up to the wedding. Couples may consider trying the following strategies.

· Create separate filing systems for each aspect of the wedding. Rather than maintaining one massive file with information about various elements of the wedding, maintain a separate file for each aspect of the wedding. For example, keep all quotes from prospective florists in a single folder that remains separate from information about other parts of the wedding. Separate filing systems make it easier to find quotes and contracts when they are needed, saving couples the trouble of digging through pages upon pages of quotes, notes, and other information they had stored.

· Maintain a spending spreadsheet. Many couples plan weddings on carefully constructed budgets, but couples can easily exceed those budgets if they are not routinely monitoring and recording their spending or the spending they are committing to upon signing contracts with vendors. Couples should create spending spreadsheets that allow them to track how much they have already spent, how much they are committed to spending, and the due dates of various wedding-related bills. The couple should update the spreadsheet whenever they write a check or sign a new contract, and they should periodically examine the sheet so they can make sure they are still on track to remain at or under budget.

· Hire a planner. If wedding planning is proving especially overwhelming or if the couple simply does not have time to do all the legwork necessary, they can hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners are invaluable resources who can help couples quickly connect with vendors who can meet their needs while staying within their budgets. Planners can advise couples on ways to save money, but also when to splurge. Couples planning destination weddings should inquire about resort-affiliated wedding planners before choosing a venue to host their ceremonies and/or guests.

· Start early. It's never too soon to start planning certain aspects of a wedding, even if it seems like you have plenty of time before your big day. According to The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study, the average length of engagement for couples who wed in 2015 was 14.5 months. That means today's couples have more than a year, on average, to plan their nuptials. By starting their wedding planning early, couples can avoid having to organize everything at the last minute, which can be hectic, nerve-wracking and sloppy. In addition, starting early affords couples more time to find great deals and stay within their budgets.

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Rain, Rain - That's OK! January 24, 2017

A beautiful backdrop like ocean waves or rolling country hills lends a lot to a wedding, making the day enjoyable for couples and their guests. But Mother Nature also presents risks to those planning to host an outdoor wedding. Weather is unpredictable, and couples who hope to tie the knot in the great outdoors must develop a contingency plan just in case Mother Nature decides to rain on their parade. While outdoor wedding venues often have backup venues in place, couples can take some additional steps to ensure a rainy day will not ruin the wedding.

· Find a place to take photos. Many couples arrange for outdoor wedding photos whether they are tying the knot indoors or outdoors, but couples should also arrange for a place to take photos indoors in case there is inclement weather. If possible, the couple should walk the grounds of the ceremony or reception site with the photographer in the weeks before the wedding to scout out potential areas to shoot indoors in case the weather does not cooperate. Ask a representative from the venue to recommend potential photo locations.

· Consider a tent. Some wedding venues are exclusively outdoors, meaning they do not have indoor backup options on their premises. If this is the case, couples may rent tents to serve as their safety nets. If a venue has no indoor alternatives, a tent should be considered and factored into the budget.

· Establish a cutoff time. Depending on how remote the ceremony location is, couples might be able to wait until a few hours before their weddings to decide if they will still tie the knot outdoors. Make the call earlier if the wedding is to be held at an especially remote location. At the cutoff time, let guests know where the wedding will be. Include information about the cutoff time on the wedding website and/or invitations. Use a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter to inform guests of the final decision.

· Provide umbrellas. Some inclement weather may not be enough to deter couples or guests from braving the great outdoors. Couples getting married in the summer may be able to withstand a summer shower, but they should provide guests with umbrellas just to be safe. The umbrellas can be mementos of the event.

· Insure the wedding. Couples who are hosting destination weddings on tropical isles should look into insuring their weddings. Such islands might be susceptible to harmful storms like hurricanes, which can prevent weddings from taking place. Insurance can cover couples for a host of unforeseen circumstances, including weather.

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Quite A Sight In White January 24, 2017

Many brides walk down the aisle in white gowns, which have long been considered the most traditional choice. Wearing white can be a frightening prospect to some brides, who fear that white clearly shows every blemish or stain. Protecting a white dress so it looks pristine on the wedding day takes a little effort, but such efforts are well worth it.

Before The Wedding

When trying on gowns, brides-to-be should make sure their hands are clean and they are not wearing any makeup. They may want to wear a thin pair of gloves so any oils from their hands are not transferred to the gown. Anyone who helps the bride-to-be in and out of the gown should also make sure their hands are clean or covered.

The bride-to-be should try on the gown sparingly before the wedding, ideally only for fittings. When she is not trying on the gown, she should store it in a protective garment bag until it needs to be steamed just prior to the wedding. Some seamstresses or tailors will hold onto the gown until the final alterations are done and then steam out any wrinkles prior to delivery.

Wedding Day

On the day of the wedding, resist the urge to handle the gown early in the day. The gown should be the last thing the bride puts on during wedding day preparations.

Wait until just before departing for the service to get fully dressed in the gown. Again, the bride should make sure her hands and the hands of her helpers are clean. The bride should ask for help so that the dress can be placed gingerly over her head so no makeup gets on the gown. Some brides may find it helpful to make lipstick application their last step in getting ready, as bright lipstick on a white gown can be especially difficult to conceal.

Pack an emergency stain-fighting kit to bring along to the ceremony and reception. This way, should a minor stain occur, it can be treated right away. The bride should use the kit sparingly because she may not know exactly how a cleaning product will react with the gown's fabric, and overuse may make the stain worse. If possible, test the product on a small swatch of gown fabric prior to use.

After The Wedding

Use caution when removing the gown, and then promptly repackage it into its garment bag. After the wedding, take the gown to a professional dry cleaner to have it cleaned and preserved. Then the gown can be used by future generations or simply saved as a keepsake.

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