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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 Website Essentials January 24, 2017

Personal websites are an invaluable resource for couples planning their weddings. Wedding websites provide a great platform for couples to share all sorts of information regarding their big day, making them an essential element of modern-day wedding planning.

Wedding websites need not feature all the bells and whistles of more permanent sites. Couples should be mindful to share certain information to ensure their guests stay in the know about the pending nuptials.

Participants

Wedding websites can be used to inform guests about the couple getting married as well as the various participants, such as the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Extended families of the bride- and groom-to-be may not know much about their loved one's betrothed, and the wedding website can help guests get to know both people getting married. Include information about the bridal party as well. A brief story about each bridal party member's relationship to the bride and/or groom can be a great way to illustrate just how much each person in the party means to the couple tying the knot.

The Big Day

Invitations were once the go-to source for information about couples' wedding ceremonies and receptions. But unlike invitations, websites won't get lost around the house or in the mail, making them more reliable resources for guests. Include all the pertinent details about the big day on your website, including the time and location of both the ceremony and the reception. Include directions to and from the venue (both the ceremony and reception venues if they are separate locations), and include a maps feature if possible.

RSVP Info

Couples can save guests the trouble of returning RSVP cards by including an RSVP section on the wedding website. Establish an email address solely for RSVPs and check it regularly so you can update who is and who is not attending your wedding. Couples can save the expense of postage by requesting that guests RSVP exclusively through the website. Be sure to include that request with the invitations if you still plan to mail more traditional invites.

Accommodations

Many couples arrange for discounted hotel rooms for out-of-town wedding guests. Include this information on the wedding website and aim to include at least two hotels where guests can register under your party and receive discounted lodging. In addition to the hotels, include some extra information about other lodging options in the area. Out-of-town guests will appreciate having as many options as possible, and having that information provided saves guests the trouble of researching certain neighborhoods to determine if they are safe or close to the ceremony and reception sites.

Registry

Wedding websites also provide a great way for couples to share registry information. Include links that take guests directly to your online registries.

Wedding websites are a great resource for couples who want to share information about their weddings and guests who would like to share in the excitement. As the big day draws closer, couples can update their sites to reflect any new developments.

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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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Go Over "Board" January 24, 2017

Turning a dream wedding into a reality may require some creativity. It can be challenging to organize an abundance of ideas, but inspiration boards may be able to help.

Inspiration boards, sometimes referred to as idea boards, are commonly used by interior designers, artists, writers, and even wedding planners. Such boards can be important when starting a new project, especially if all of those creative ideas seem to lack cohesion. Sometimes it is helpful to see things together, rather than in bits and pieces.

Inspiration boards may include magazine clippings, photographs, fabric and color swatches, and quotes or literary passages. As a couple adds to their idea board, they may find a common denominator among their inspirational elements. This can help determine a theme for the wedding or jump-start other planning.

While poster boards may be the more traditional style for idea boards, creative ideas also can be compiled in binders or scrapbooks, which work especially well for keeping all items organized and concise. Plus, they are portable, which means a couple can take their scrapbook to a meeting with a wedding vendor and show the vendor concepts for the wedding.

Later, when photographers, florists, and other vendors have been booked, the couple can attach receipts or agreements to the inspiration board for future reference. This practice will keep all the important wedding information in one place so the bride- and groom-to-be do not have to search through folders or files for important documents. In addition, if friends or family members ask for advice when planning their own weddings in the future, the couple can look back at their inspiration board.

To start building a board or book, the couple should accumulate clippings of photos or articles that resonate with them. As they visit bridal shops and other stores, they can take fabric swatches and pictures of particular looks. Couples may attend bridal shows and take home promotional materials. Remember, inspiration may not always come from wedding-related sources. Anything in daily life may provide ideas.

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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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Meet Emily And Chris January 24, 2017

bride's hometown: Lancaster, PA

groom's hometown: New Castle, PA

current place of residence: Mount Joy, PA

bride's occupation: contact center specialist

groom's occupation: yard jockey

how they met: Emily and Chris were first introduced by mutual friends at a Halloween costume party. "We were two of the only attendees not in costume and later found out that we both worked part-time at the same bar," recalls Emily.

proposal story: While sightseeing on a family vacation in Muncy Valley, Sullivan County, Chris professed his love and devotion atop High Knob Overlook in the Endless Mountain Range, knelt down, and popped the question. "Shut up!" was Emily's response. Chris waited a few moments and asked, "Well, will you?" and Emily, of course, finally said, "Yes!"

length of engagement: 13 months

honeymoon destination: Rather than taking a traditional honeymoon, the couple treated Chris' mother, who was visiting from Montana, and Chris' son to a week in Ocean City, MD.

The Wedding

wedding date: July 3, 2016

ceremony location: Breezyview Overlook, Columbia, PA

reception location: Perfect Settings (owned by Daisy Pagan), Columbia, PA

wedding colors: beige and blue

wedding theme: elegant peacock

menu: mini crab cakes, beef bruschetta, cheese and fruit tray, roast beef, vegetable lasagna, broiled lemon pepper haddock, side salad, spiced carrots with apples and raisins, steamed asparagus, wild rice, and roasted Parmesan red potatoes

cake: a four-tiered cake, with two tiers of chocolate with peanut butter filling and two tiers of white cake with strawberry fruit filling

flowers: white roses, white ranunculus, and purple and Malibu blue orchids. "Half of the centerpieces were tall, live curly willows, and the other half were short white hydrangeas," Emily says.

first dance song: "Only You Can Love Me This Way" by Keith Urban

special elements included in the ceremony: a sand ceremony to include Chris' son, Malachi; a special Bible reading by Emily's grandmother, Claire Storm; and a blessing over the meal by Emily's grandfather, Albert Storm

favorite element: "It's impossible to choose favorites!" exclaims Emily.

favor: peacock feather bottle opener and/or wine bottle stopper

one thing worth splurging on: photography

Vendors

photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

music (ceremony and reception): DJ Fade (Jere Lefever) of Fade Productions, Lancaster, PA

flowers: Floral Designs of Mount Joy, Mount Joy, PA

officiant: Renee Heller, Celebrant, Lancaster, PA

day-of coordination: Daisy Pagan of Perfect Settings, Columbia, PA

hairstylist for bride and bridesmaids: Ashlie Clapper of Kauffman's Salon, Columbia, PA

bride and bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal

groom and groomsmen's attire: Men's Wearhouse

limousine rentals: Premiere #1 Limousine Service, Middletown, PA

catering: Classic Cuisine Catering, Palmyra, PA

outdoor chair rentals: Fricke Hardware & Rental, Columbia, PA

decorations: Edward Bullock Wedding Planning

linens: Special Occasions and Queen Street Linens, Lancaster, PA

cake: Mary Frances Kreiser, a family friend

videography: Mitchell Weaver, a cousin

wedding planning: Joan Barr, the bride's mother

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

Emily: We started by researching venues and catering. These two are the most costly and take the most room in the budget.

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

Emily: Chris and I selected our attire based on comfort, and it definitely proved to be worth it when the big day arrived. The bridesmaids chose their own style to reflect their personality with comfort in mind! The groomsmen matched the groom except for the bowtie, so the groom would stand out.

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

Emily: I was most concerned with keeping the ceremony meaningful and the reception fun. The celebrant and the disc jockey played a huge role in helping make that happen. Chris was most interested in the food and beverage choices, so he approved the menu!

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

Emily: Finding enough time outside of work and other obligations to meet with potential vendors. It's more time-consuming than we ever realized!

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

Emily: Enjoy the process, accept help from those who offer, keep an open mind and remember to toast often to your engagement!

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More Than A Dream January 24, 2017

Destination weddings can make for memorable moments for brides, grooms, and their family and friends. While the celebrations often take place in idyllic locales that make for a gorgeous backdrop to the celebration of the happy couple, setting the perfect ambiance for such a noteworthy occasion without breaking the bank can be tricky.

Destination weddings ask a lot of both the couple and their guests. Couples may need to visit the location of their wedding several times before the big day, and those costs can quickly add up. Guests will also need to budget for flights and lodging to attend a destination wedding. However, there are some ways for couples to rein in the associated costs to ensure that everyone has a good time without having to worry about finances as soon as the big day is over.

Look for Convenient, Affordable Travel. Some resorts may offer great prices on destination wedding packages, but be careful to avoid locations so remote that you and your guests will be forced to pay for expensive flights. With the rising popularity of destination weddings, many resorts now offer competitive packages; however, if keeping travel affordable for guests is a goal, it is important to choose a location that will allow travelers to book a reasonably priced flight rather than choosing the location based on the cost of the wedding package.

Shorten the Guest List. Trimming the guest list is how many couples curtail destination wedding costs. Invite only your closest family members and friends to the wedding and reception and then host a second, less-formal party for your remaining relatives and friends after returning from your honeymoon. Guests will understand, and you will ultimately get the chance to celebrate with all of your loved ones anyway.

Go Simple and Save. Many traditional weddings include all the bells and whistles, like lavish flowers and elaborate gowns. Destination weddings are often expected to be simplified, particularly if the festivities are at an island location. Let nature do the decorating and opt for native wedding attire if it's more affordable than potentially costly gowns and tuxedos.

Resist Peak Tourist Season. Much like there is a peak wedding season throughout North America, many popular travel spots' economies depend heavily on tourism seasons. Avoid that season when choosing a date for your destination wedding and you'll also avoid the higher costs that are associated with the more popular tourist times.

Go Discount Hunting. Popular destination wedding locations may be willing to negotiate prices on all aspects of the wedding, and those discounts may increase as more guests commit to attending. Resorts recognize that weddings will bring guests in need of lodging, food, and entertainment. Couples can use that to their advantage when negotiating prices. Couples may even be able to negotiate with airlines for discounted airfares if they can guarantee a certain number of travelers.

Buy Local. When planning your wedding, embrace the culture of your chosen destination and choose local foods, flowers, and entertainment. Not only will it make your big day more unique and authentic, but it will also save you money and benefit the local economy at the same time.

Don't Forget... Couples hoping to have a destination wedding in another country may want to plan for a longer engagement than those getting married closer to home. The longer timeframe gives guests more time to arrange for travel, and it allows the bride and groom more time to navigate the requirements of getting married in a different country. Paperwork should be expected, and wedding license applications may not be processed as quickly. Be sure to have a firm grasp of the country's application process, including the possibility of having birth certificates and other personal documents translated into the official language of the country. Also, be sure to check on residency requirements of the country that you hope to marry in. Take advantage of a professional wedding planner, if the resort you choose has one on staff. A professional can make it easier for couples to navigate the sometimes complex laws regulating destination weddings, and a wedding planner's services are often included in resort wedding packages. If no such service is included in the hotel package, consider hiring a local wedding planner to make the process go more smoothly.

Destination weddings can be significant undertakings, but if couples are armed with the proper knowledge and preparation, the bride and groom can enjoy the wedding event of a lifetime and create memories that will last forever.

Ben & Andrea's Majestic Rocky Mountain Wedding

When Ben and Andrea Singer of Lancaster decided to plan their dream wedding, they knew that it would involve travel for their family and friends. "Our family is spread out across the country," Andrea explained. "Regardless of what we did, half of our family would have to travel."

The couple began planning a lavish autumn wedding in their local area, but they soon decided it wasn't going to live up to their hopes for the big day. "We realized we needed to refocus and bring things back to what mattered to us," the couple shared. "We were planning a wedding for other people, rather than a wedding that would make us happy."

With their newfound focus, the couple zeroed in on a destination wedding in a location that was special to both of them: the Rocky Mountains. "Andrea spent her childhood vacationing at the YMCA of the Rockies, and as adults, we have shared this place together. When we decided to go with a destination wedding, it was a logical choice for us, given its significance and our great love of the outdoors," Ben said. "It seemed like a wonderful idea to bring our families together in a place with so many fond memories for the two of us, and it gave us an opportunity to share this place with the people we love."

In the week leading up to the wedding, the couple rented a 32-person cabin where their families could spend time and get to know each other. "It was a surprisingly drama-free week that culminated in our wedding," Andrea recalled. "There were certainly a lot of 'what-ifs' leading up to the wedding, but the YMCA of the Rockies did an amazing job of making our wedding work," noted Ben.

The Singers were thrilled with their Rocky Mountain wedding, and they have a few tips for other couples who are interested in saying "I do" in a special, far-away locale. "Destination weddings can be tricky because you may not even see your wedding venue until (the big day)," Andrea noted. "Plan how you want things to go way ahead of time so that there are fewer surprises when you get down to the wire." Ben and Andrea also recommend that couples decide what they are willing to sacrifice, noting that not all of their close friends and family were able to make the big day. "For some, that may be a sacrifice they are not willing to make. Even something as small as trying wedding cakes or catering options will be something you may miss out on," Ben said.

However, for each sacrifice, there is the reward of lifelong memories. "Destination weddings replace some of the sacrifices with memories you simply can't make elsewhere," Andrea pointed out. One glimpse of the Singers' incredible wedding photos with breathtaking mountain views in the background, and there's no doubt that the couple made a great decision.

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Excellent Accommodations November 9, 2016

Wedding planning can seem overwhelming at times, but couples also tend to have a lot of fun when making preparations for their big day. Whether it is sampling various cuisines for the wedding reception or researching potential honeymoon destinations, couples have much to look forward to as they plan.

One aspects of wedding planning that the couple may enjoy is finding lodging for out-of-town guests. Hotels come in all shapes and sizes, and visiting various hotels and seeing what each has to offer can be fun. As couples set out to find lodging for out-of-town guests, the following factors should be taken into consideration.

Number of Guests

Even if the couple has yet to pare down the guest list, they should peruse the preliminary guest list to determine how many of those potential invitees may need lodging. Some hotels will not offer discounted room blocks without a minimum number of guests, so the couple should try to find a hotel or hotels that can accommodate their group size and still offer discounted rates.

Location

Location bears considerable weight when choosing a hotel for out-of-town wedding guests. If the couple is tying the knot in a large city, guests are less likely to rent cars for the weekend, so the couples should look for a hotel with access to restaurants and other attractions the guests can enjoy. If the ceremony and reception are in a more remote location, the couples should try to find a hotel that is nearby so guests do not spend the bulk of their time behind the wheel while they are in town. If the couple simply cannot find a hotel that is close to the ceremony and reception locations, then they may arrange for bus transportation so guests can get to and from the reception safely.

Amenities

Out-of-town guests will have more free time on their hands than the bride- and groom-to-be, so the couple should consider the amenities of each hotel. On-site exercise facilities, pools and outdoor lounge areas can help guests fill the hours before the wedding and enjoy some rest and relaxation. In addition, hotels with on-site restaurants or those next door to restaurants can provide convenient places for guests to eat and meet up with fellow guests.

Cost

Cost is another significant consideration when choosing a hotel for out-of-town guests. Whether the guests are driving or flying in, the cost of travel is already hitting them in the pocketbook. For this reason, the couple should make it a priority to find hotels that offer budget-friendly rates for wedding parties.

Finding a hotel for out-of-town wedding guests can be an enjoyable element of wedding planning. Couples should consider several factors before making their final decision.

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Ideas For Celebrating A First Anniversary August 1, 2016

Couples approaching their first anniversaries may be amazed at just how quickly their first year as husband and wife flew by. Many would admit it feels like just yesterday that they were reciting their vows and dancing the night away in the company of friends and family.

Couples about to mark their first anniversaries often look back on a year of new experiences. A first anniversary is a milestone that should not be taken lightly, and there are plenty of enjoyable and meaningful ways to celebrate the first full year of wedded bliss.

· Enjoy a night of reminiscing and cake. If the couple saved the top tier of their wedding cake, they can take it out of the freezer and let it thaw. They can eat the cake while recalling the little details of the wedding. Couples may want to review their wedding albums or pop in their wedding videos to relive the magic of the big day once more.

· Plan an escape vacation. Consider traveling to a romantic destination and enjoying some romantic one-on-one time each and every year. Return to your original honeymoon spot or find a new locale.

· Dine at your wedding hall. Some wedding venues double as restaurants or may serve special brunches or dinners on occasion. Couples can make reservations and honor their first anniversary in the spot where they celebrated their union.

· Trade paper gifts. The first anniversary gift is paper, and couples can interpret this suggestion in various ways. Declare your love in a full-page ad in your local newspaper or treat your spouse to some tickets to a show or a sporting event. Consider jotting your thoughts on your first year of marriage down on paper as an impromptu poem or love note.

· Throw a big bash. Invite many of the same people who attended the wedding to a party at your home or another venue. Share a spotlight dance to your wedding song and be sure to toast all of the people who helped make your first year of marriage so special.

· Enjoy a fancy meal. Couples can use their anniversary as an excuse to try an exclusive restaurant that may be a little too extravagant for just any occasion. Indulge in an expensive meal and a nice bottle of bubbly.

· Relax with a spa treatment. Reserve a couple's spa day at a nearby resort or stand-alone business. Explore the services they offer, from massages and facials to relaxing body wraps.

· Have an adventure together. A couple may want to do something exciting for their first anniversary so they will remember it forever. Adrenaline-inducing activities, like scuba diving, riding roller coasters, helicopter tours or bungee jumping, are thrilling ways to mark a year of wedded bliss.

There is no limit to the number of ways a couple can commemorate their first anniversary. From romantic to wild, these activities can keep the spark alive.

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Many Hands Make Light Work August 1, 2016

Being asked to join a bridal party is both an honor and a responsibility. When asked to take on such significant and meaningful roles, men and women may recognize the honor but be unsure of what their responsibilities are as couples move forward with their wedding plans.

Bridal party roles can vary depending on circumstances, but many couples still want their bridesmaids and groomsmen to perform many of the traditional tasks associated with their roles. The following are some of the tasks bridesmaids and groomsmen can expect to perform in the months leading up to the wedding and during the wedding itself.

· Maid of Honor: The maid of honor serves as the bride-to-be's right-hand woman as she plans her wedding and gets ready on her big day. Maids of honor typically go gown shopping with the bride and may even choose or offer suggestions about the color and style of the bridesmaids' dresses. Once the bridesmaids' dress style and color have been chosen, the maid of honor will make sure everyone is fitted on time.

A maid of honor will also plan the bridal shower, sending invitations and arranging for lodging for out-of-town guests if necessary. Many brides want the details of their bridal showers to be a surprise, and maids of honor should honor those sentiments when possible. A maid of honor also plans the bachelorette party, though many brides do not mind being involved in the planning of such events.

The maid of honor may be asked to help address save-the-date cards and envelopes as well.

On the day of the wedding, the maid of honor will ensure the bride's day is as stress-free as possible, helping to address any last-minute issues that may arise. The maid of honor may be asked to serve as the legal witness to the wedding and sign the wedding license before the reception. At the reception, the maid of honor will toast the bride.

· Best Man: The best man is the maid of honor's counterpart, helping to plan the bachelor party and toasting the groom at the reception. The best man also tends to hold the rings during the wedding ceremony, and during the day of the wedding, he will coordinate the groomsmen to make sure everyone is ready to go on time. The best man may arrange transportation for the groom and groomsmen on the day of the wedding and may also return the groom's and groomsmen's attire the following day if the newlyweds are departing on their honeymoon.

· Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: The bridesmaids and groomsmen serve similar functions, acting as sources of support as couples plan their weddings. Bridesmaids and groomsmen help to plan the bachelorette and bachelor parties and may also be asked for their opinions as couples make decisions regarding their weddings. Bridesmaids and groomsmen must be prepared to take pictures once couples have officially tied the knot. They also must help the brides and grooms with any issues that may arise in the hours before couples get married.

· Flower Girl/Ring Bearer: Flower girls and ring bearers are often young relatives of the couple, such as young siblings or nieces and nephews. The responsibilities of the flower girl and ring bearer are typically limited to the ceremony, during which they walk down the aisle, either together or individually, before the father of the bride escorts his daughter to the altar or stage.

· Father of the Bride: The father of the bride walks his daughter down the aisle during the ceremony, and, along with his wife, may pay for the wedding, though many couples now finance their own nuptials. The father of the bride usually dances with his daughter during the reception, and some fathers may even share a special toast for the newlyweds during the reception, though such a toast is not traditionally required.

Bridal parties play an important role on couples' wedding days, and those roles are both an honor and a responsibility.

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Guidelines For Choosing Groomsmen August 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tip From A Pro - Candles As A Light Source December 2, 2015

"Use candles as a functional light source. Dim the room lights, and light the candles to create a romantic look."

- Cathy Brown, owner, and Kristen Cowles, manager, Keystone Candle, Harrisburg, http://keystonecandle.com

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Last-Minute Wedding To-Dos December 1, 2015

Couples may find that the last few weeks before their wedding day are filled with ever-increasing anticipation. As the big day draws near, it is understandable if couples are excited and anxious. While those last few weeks before a wedding day can be hectic, it is important that couples stay focused and remember to perform a handful of tasks.

· Speak to the vendors. Vendors play a big role at weddings, so it is important that couples contact their vendors to confirm wedding schedules and ensure vendors have directions to the ceremony and reception locations, if necessary. The bride and groom will be busy on their wedding day, so they may want to provide the phone numbers of their maid of honor and best man so vendors can reach them should something go awry or need to be addressed while couples are preparing for the ceremony.

· Make any final payments. Many vendors expect final payment a week or two before the ceremony, and it is imperative that couples make these payments on time. Couples should revisit all their contracts to determine when the final installment of each vendor's payment is due. They should pay with checks so they have a record that the final payment was made.

· Confirm rehearsal reservations. Couples should contact the ceremony venue as well as the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner will be held to confirm the time of the rehearsal and the dinner reservation. When confirming these details, make sure all bridal party members and family who will be attending the rehearsal and subsequent dinner have transportation to and from each venue.

· Prepare visitor bags. Couples may wish to leave visitor bags for their guests at the hotel where the majority of their guests will be staying. The weeks leading up to the wedding are a great time for couples to prepare these bags and arrange for their drop-off with hotel personnel.

· Drop off personal items at the reception venue. Couples who have chosen to use personalized toasting glasses, cake servers and other personal items at their wedding receptions should drop off such items in the week leading up their wedding. They should arrange the drop-offs with their contacts at the reception venue, and at the same time they can also confirm any additional details about the reception.

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Wedding Superstitions By Culture December 1, 2015

Couples on the verge of tying the knot spend lots of time hoping their wedding day goes off without a hitch. The threat of raindrops or temporarily misplaced rings can make couples feel that the hands of fate are casting bad luck on the proceedings, but couples need not worry.

Superstitions are not always negative, and there are many things thought to bestow good luck on couples about to become husband and wife. The following are some of the more popular traditional harbingers of good luck couples can look for on their wedding days.

· Rain: Rain signifies various things in different cultures, and many of those amount to a dose of good fortune for a wedding. Rain can represent fertility, suggesting that couples will have many children. Rain also can signify cleansing and renewal or the washing away of past ills.

· Sugar: Many Greeks believe that placing a sugar cube into one's glove will mean a sweet union between the newly betrothed.

· Coins: In Sweden, a bride puts a silver coin from her father and a gold coin from her mother in each shoe so she will never have to go without.

· Unpleasant things: Egyptian women may pinch the bride on her wedding day for good luck. The English believe finding a spider in one's wedding dress means good luck.

· Bells: Bells may chime at Irish weddings to keep evil spirits away and ensure a harmonious family life. Some brides also will tuck small bells into their bouquets.

· Days of the week: Some cultures view certain days as luckier than others for getting married. English tradition suggests that Wednesday is the best day for getting married, with Monday weddings bringing wealth and Tuesday events bring good health. English folklore states that Saturday is the most unlucky day to tie the knot.

Many traditions are in place to ensure good luck. Middle Eastern brides, for example, paint henna on their hands and feet for this reason. The tradition of the groom carrying his bride over the threshold originated as a way to protect her from the evil that was thought to lurk below.

Good luck charms vary depending on culture and geography. Several superstitions have withstood the test of time and can help to give brides and grooms some peace of mind on their wedding days.

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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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Decision, Decisions March 9, 2015

Many couples find themselves bombarded with questions the moment they become engaged, and perhaps no question is more common than "When is the wedding?"

Although a number of couples would prefer to bask in the excitement of their engagement, some couples feel pressured to rush into selecting a wedding date. Choosing a wedding date without giving it much consideration, however, may make things more difficult down the road. Rather than jumping headfirst into any decisions, couples should give thought to a multitude of dates and decide if there are certain times of the year they wish to avoid.

Season

When thinking about potential wedding dates, it helps to have a place to start. Some couples find it helpful to start with a particular season and then narrow it down from there. Decide if you prefer the lush greenery of summer or the amazing color spectrum of an autumn afternoon. Perhaps you envision arriving at the ceremony with a snow-packed landscape amid twinkling holiday lights? Think first about a preferred season and then determine if that time of year is doable.

Month

Certain months may seem perfect, but specific periods do not always work for busy professionals or those with limited vacation time. For example, early spring may not be good for accountants tallying year-end numbers. Teachers may feel most comfortable tying the knot in the summer when they already have days off. If one of the couple or certain family members run a pool business or a lawn maintenance company, then a summer ceremony may only be stressful. Keep these factors in mind.

Holidays

Some people dream of linking their wedding day memories to a particular holiday. Valentine's Day is popular thanks to the romantic sentiments synonymous with the holiday, while some couples prefer Halloween or Christmas weddings. Holiday weddings can be exciting, but they also produce significant obstacles that couples who choose to get married during other times of year do not have to worry about. Guests may not want to travel or spend time away from their families to attend a holiday wedding. Having a wedding during a holiday may also mean competing for vendors and reception spaces. Prices on everything from food and flowers to airline tickets may be higher as vendors cash in on customer demand.

Day of the Week

It is less expensive for couples to get married on Fridays and Sundays than Saturday afternoons or evenings. Couples may think that the money saved will be well worth it, but they also should think about how this decision may affect their guests. A Friday wedding requires people to take off from work or school. Sunday weddings may be slightly more convenient, but those who have to get back to work on Monday may be tired from late-night festivities. Couples should anticipate some guests not attending if festivities are not on Saturdays.

Religious Constraints

Couples having religious ceremonies should consult with their houses of worship as to which dates are acceptable. Some faith centers will not schedule weddings on days of religious observation. It is wise to consult with a church, synagogue or mosque before booking any other components of the wedding so that you are certain your chosen day is acceptable.

Any Available Dates

A wedding date may also end up being dictated by a caterer or wedding hall. If couples have a particular venue in mind, they may be limited by the venue's or chef's availability. This is a concession bridal pairs may need to consider if their heart is set on a specific element or special location.

Planning a wedding can be exciting. But the ball cannot get rolling until couples first choose the day they will tie the knot.

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Guest List Quandary January 5, 2015

Weddings are a time for celebration and sharing good times. Some couples want to share their love and excitement with as many people as they can fit under one roof, while others may prefer a more intimate affair to enjoy with a select few. One difficult decision couples must face when planning a wedding is whether or not to invite children to join in the festivities.

Young guests can bring an energetic spark to the celebration, but children unaccustomed to dressing up and enjoying a fancy night out may become fractious or unruly. Adult guests looking to have a good time may find it difficult to relax and let loose if they are keeping a constant eye on their own children or are surrounded by other guests' rambunctious offspring.

The topic of children at weddings is a tricky subject. Family and friends may have strong opinions on either side of the debate. Ultimately, the couple needs to come to an agreement and decide what option best suits their personal vision of an ideal day. Once a decision has been made, couples can employ some strategies to make the wedding as enjoyable as possible for every age group.

No children

Couples who decide to exclude youngsters from their guest lists should alert guests well in advance of the "no children" edict. Be tactful. If you will be sending out save-the-date cards, include the phrase "Adults only, please" on the card. You also may want to include the information on a wedding website if you have one. A website affords you more space to explain your stance on young guests.

When it comes to the wedding invitation, your indications should already be clear. However, you can reinforce that youths are not invited by addressing the invitations accordingly. Do not include the children's names or "and family" on the envelope. Invitations should only feature the names of the people being invited.

Be consistent if you do not want children at the reception. It is not okay to allow one guest's children while excluding another's. The only exception should be any young members of the wedding party. However, you may prefer to avoid a ring bearer and flower girl during the ceremony entirely.

Chances are word will spread that the wedding is not for child guests. If you do not want to handle inquiries, ask a member of the bridal party to answer any related questions.

Children allowed

Contrary to popular belief, children can be well-behaved at a wedding and add a youthful component to the celebration. Watching a child twirling on the dance floor or devouring a large piece of wedding cake can make a wedding day more memorable and special.

Couples who invite youngsters to the wedding should expect the unexpected from their youngest guests. Let the small things slide and speak directly to parents if any issues arise.

Arrange for some activities to keep children entertained and out of trouble. Have the band or deejay incorporate some child-friendly dances or activities. Designate a special table for younger guests and arrange to have some small toys, games, or activity books available.

Be sure to choose some child-friendly foods during the cocktail hour. Hungry children can be that much more fussy. Arrange a special menu with the catering manager and be clear about how many youths are invited. Since children's meals will typically be simpler to prepare, their dinners may cost less than adults'.

Some reception sites may even provide a separate room where children can gather. A television with a favorite movie or a few video games may be all that's necessary to pass the time. Hire a trustworthy and experience babysitter to stay with the children to give adults in the other room peace of mind.

Limited children

You may want to include older children at the wedding but have younger ones stay home. As you would for a wedding without young guests, spread the word that there is an age limit. On save-the-date announcements, request that "No children under age 12" attend the wedding or specify a minimum age according to your predetermined preference.

Be prepared for some opposition from guests whose kids fall under the age limit, especially those with children close in age to the limit. Just be firm with your plans.

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