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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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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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Post-Wedding Tasks to Tackle December 1, 2015

Couples who plan their own weddings might enjoy a satisfactory exhale once the knot has been tied and the last rug has been cut. Once guests head home and couples depart for their honeymoons, much of the work is done. But there are some lingering tasks for couples once they return from their first trip together as husband and wife.

· Thank-you notes: Thank-you notes are perhaps a couple's biggest task upon returning from their honeymoon. Notes should be sent to all guests who attended the wedding as well as those who could not attend but still gave gifts. Couples should carve out some time in the weeks immediately following their honeymoons to write personalized thank-you notes, mailing them all at the same time so guests do not feel slighted if their note arrives weeks after others' receive theirs.

· Cake: If the couple was unable to do so before leaving on the honeymoon, they should return to the wedding reception venue to pick up any leftover cake. Many venues will store leftover wedding cakes in their freezers for a reasonable amount of time until couples return from their honeymoons, but couples should make it a point to pick up the cake as soon as possible. It is customary for a couple to preserve leftover cake to eat on their first anniversary.

· Vendor reviews: Many vendors now rely on Internet reviews from past customers to help grow their businesses, and it is a nice gesture for couples to offer their reviews once they have returned from their honeymoons. Chances are a couple used such reviews when choosing vendors for their weddings, so they should return the favor by writing reviews and helping future couples find reliable vendors who can help make their weddings special.

· Dress: New brides who want to keep their dresses as keepsakes or preserve them as heirlooms should have their dresses cleaned and professionally preserved when they return from their honeymoons. The earlier this is done, the easier it is to remove any stains that might have developed during the wedding.

· Gift returns: Newly married couples often receive repeat gifts or gifts they never put on their registries and simply do not need. The couples should return such gifts as soon as possible so their homes are not overwhelmed with clutter. Upon returning gifts, couples can also do a little shopping, as they will have money to spend. In addition, many stores give newly married couples discounts on registry items that went unpurchased, and the day a couple return gifts is a great opportunity to cash in on such discounts.

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Your Wedding Planning Check List January 5, 2015

There are so many things to think about when planning a wedding. We have provided this handy checklist so you can stay on top of your to-do list and have your planning go as smoothly as possible. Everyone has a different vision, so this is just a starting point. Amp up or scale back as you see fit!

9-12 Months Before

Announce your engagement to your family and friends.

Determine the approximate size, style, and formality of your event.

Work out a budget. Decide who is paying for what.

Start the guest list to know an approximate count for booking venues.

Decide on an approximate date for the wedding.

Choose the members of your wedding party.

Hire a wedding planner, if you wish.

Research and visit ceremony and reception venues. Note: If you are hoping to book a popular venue, especially if you are set on a particular date, this step should be completed earlier.

Book your ceremony and reception sites.

Create a wedding website, if you wish.

Begin looking at wedding gowns.

Start thinking about where you would like to take your honeymoon.

Research florists, bands/DJs, and photographers and begin getting quotes.

Research caterers (if separate from the reception venue) and bakeries for your cake.

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6-9 Months Before

Purchase a wedding dress.

Shop for and order bridesmaids' dresses.

Send out save-the-date cards.

Book a photographer and/or videographer. Note: If you are getting married during the peak wedding season, you probably want to complete this step sooner, especially if you have a particular photographer in mind.

Get engagement photos taken and submit your announcement to your local newspapers.

Start finalizing the guest list and collecting addresses.

Book a caterer, set up a tasting, and begin choosing your menu.

Choose a honeymoon destination and update your passports if necessary.

Book a wedding officiant.

Choose musicians for your ceremony and book reception entertainment.

Meet with a florist and start choosing flowers.

Create a wedding registry at several different stores/websites.

Block off rooms at a nearby hotel for out-of-town guests.

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4-5 Months Before

Begin premarital counseling, if you wish.

Choose and purchase wedding invitations.

Book your honeymoon accommodations and buy plane tickets.

Reserve a site for the rehearsal dinner.

Buy wedding shoes and try on veils and other accessories with your gown.

Book a hair and makeup appointment at your salon.

Book limos, carriages, a trolley, town cars, or other modes of transportation for your wedding and reception, if needed.

Meet with bakers, have a cake tasting, and decide on your wedding cake design.

Meet with the officiant and begin discussing ceremony details.

Give your wedding guest list to the host of your bridal shower.

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3 Months Before

Finalize your menu options.

Send out wedding invitations.

Choose ceremony music.

Finalize flowers.

Arrange for rental items for your reception, if necessary.

Start looking for wedding favors.

Purchase undergarments and other accessories, as well as bridesmaids' accessories.

Purchase wedding rings and send them to be engraved, if you wish.

Make an appointment for a dress fitting for alterations.

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2 Months Before

Practice walking in your wedding shoes if you purchased high heels.

Finalize ceremony music and readings.

Go for dress fittings.

Enjoy your bridal shower.

Determine a day-of schedule and send it out to your vendors.

Review your reception playlist with your band/DJ.

Mail rehearsal dinner invitations.

Finalize honeymoon details/itinerary.

Choose the groom's and groomsmen's attire.

Begin a beauty regimen (teeth whitening, pedicures, etc.).

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1 Month Before

Get your marriage license.

Purchase gifts for the wedding party and your parents.

Have a trial run with your hairdresser for your hair and makeup.

Send out final payments to vendors.

Call any guests who haven't RSVP'ed.

Give final counts to caterers/venues.

Determine a seating chart.

Get menu cards/programs printed, if you wish.

Get place cards/escort cards printed.

Look into the business of changing your last name (if you are planning to), as well as some of the other details of your status change.

Write vows, if you are going that route.

Have a final dress fitting.

Prepare a shot list for your photographer.

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Week of the Wedding

Pack for your honeymoon.

Enjoy a bachelor/bachelorette party.

Pick up your dress.

Pick up tuxes/suits.

Gather any items that need to be transported to your venues (guestbook, photos, favors, etc.).

Have the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

Make any additional payments that haven't been paid.

Confirm, confirm, confirm.

Prepare envelopes with tips for vendors.

Pack your emergency wedding day kit.

Try to get some sleep.

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Day of the Wedding

Be sure to eat and drink plenty of fluids.

Get your hair and makeup done.

Enjoy your day!

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After the Wedding

Complete paperwork for changing your last name, changing insurance, etc.

Send out thank-you notes.

Get your wedding dress cleaned and preserved.

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Just Like Clockwork January 5, 2015

As any host can attest, timing is crucial to a successful event, and it is equally important when planning a wedding. Various elements must come together in the right order to create a seamless day.

In addition to organizing floral deliveries, ensuring the wedding party arrives on time, and getting hair and makeup done promptly, couples who will be having their ceremony in a different location from the reception will need to spend time organizing their wedding day equations. Factors like traveling to and from the site, as well as hunger pangs and potential weather-related complications, will all need to be considered.

Many couples choose to have their ceremonies and receptions at the same site, a decision that typically makes scheduling much easier. Once the ceremony is over, guests simply go inside or to another area of the grounds to begin the reception. Traditionalists, however, often prefer to have their ceremony in a place of worship and then travel to a separate reception location. Both scenarios are acceptable, but the latter option requires a little more planning.

Couples will need to know when the church or temple is available for the ceremony and when the reception hall will be open to guests. Some weddings are held after daily Masses or other religious ceremonies. An afternoon wedding may end a few hours before the reception site opens, leaving guests with extra time.

Couples can try to reduce time between the ceremony and reception by coordinating with their catering managers. If finances allow, couples can request the reception begin early. This way guests arrive as they are able and mingle amongst themselves. These requests are common, and many catering managers will be happy to oblige.

If this is not possible, couples have a few alternatives. If the reception site is a good distance away, the travel there may take up idle time. Otherwise, couples may need to come up with another plan. One option is for a family member to open his or her home and serve light refreshments. It may also be possible to use a cafeteria or gathering space at the ceremony site for a while. If the photographer has outdoor photos planned between the ceremony and reception, the couple can invite some guests along to witness the shots or be a part of the photo shoot.

Thoughtful couples also can suggest other options, such as letting guests know about local restaurants where they can grab a small bite to eat. Hotels affiliated with the wedding party may be able to host guests during these in-between hours as well. The hotel bar or a conference room might be ideal spots for guests to spend some time between festivities.

Couples also can arrange something with the reception hall. While the party room may not be ready until the designated time, the site may have an attached restaurant, salon, or gardens where guests can relax.

Timing all of the elements of a wedding day properly can be challenging, but guests' comfort and needs should always be a priority.

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A Tip from a Pro - The Real Meaning of the Day September 4, 2013

"It's easy to get caught up in the many details of a wedding, but never lose sight of the real meaning of that day. The day will come and go, but your family and partner are here to stay. Always remember to treat everyone with the love and respect they deserve."

Jessica Finch, manager of Finch Jewelers, Lancaster

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A Tip from Pros - Budgeting and Prioritizing September 4, 2013

"Have a budget. Plan how much you can afford to spend. Choosing what things are important to spend on (is as important as choosing what things are) the lowest on your desires list."

Mary Ann Hoober & Alissa Hoober-Smay, owners of The Bridal Emporium, Elizabethtown

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A Tip from a Pro - Deadlines September 4, 2013

"Keep your deadlines with your vendors!"

Joyce Perkinson, director of sales at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Lancaster

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A Tip from a Pro - Planning and Communication September 4, 2013

"Plan ahead and communicate early and often."

"DJ Boom," owner of Portable Soundz

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A Tip from Pros - Asking Questions September 4, 2013

"Ask questions. No question is a dumb question. You have never planned a wedding before."

Mary Ann Hoober & Alissa Hoober-Smay, owners of The Bridal Emporium, Elizabethtown

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