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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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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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The Well-Groomed Groom January 24, 2017

Weddings are a chance for couples tying the knot to be the center of attention. All eyes will be glued to the bride and groom on this special day, so it's important that they look their best.

The bride might garner most of the attention on a couple's wedding day, but the dashing groom also will get his share of the spotlight. As a result, gentlemen must be as diligent as their brides with regard to grooming and appearance on their wedding days. To look picture-perfect, grooms may want to include these tips in their wedding day preparation.

Hair

The groom-to-be should schedule a haircut with a professional stylist roughly a week before the wedding to get his hair shaped and trimmed. Although trendy hairstyles may show off creativity, grooms-to-be should keep in mind that photos will last much longer than these trends, and it is often better to stick with a classic cut. A barber or stylist may suggest styles that best suit one's face shape and hair texture, though it's a good idea to test drive a different style well in advance of the big day. Above all, the haircut should be neat.

Shaving

Shaving is another thing grooms must consider. Gentlemen with a beard should make sure their facial hair is clean, combed, and trimmed. Men who shave on the day of their weddings may find their skin is sensitive and irritated, which can lead to redness. Unless his facial hair grows especially fast, the groom-to-be should shave the evening before. This is a good time to splurge on a professional shave with a straight razor at a barber shop. A hot shave from a professional will produce a close shave with the least amount of irritation when done correctly.

Hands

Grooms also may want to book a manicure. Keep in mind that salons will do men's nonpolish manicures and pedicures, and they can be well worth the investment. Photos of entwined hands or close-ups of the ring exchange will have guests zeroing in on the couple's fingers. Grooms-to-be should make sure their hands look their best by having clean, shaped fingernails and trimmed cuticles.

Skin

Get plenty of sleep the night prior to the wedding. Being well rested will help reduce puffy eyes, dark circles and sallow skin. It may also lead to a more positive mood, which can help the groom enjoy the day even more.

On the day of the wedding, shower using water and a mild soap and gentle exfoliator. To avoid skin irritation, the groom should pat his face and body dry rather than rubbing it with the towel. The groom-to-be should moisturize his skin to avoid dry patches. Stores sell many moisturizers geared toward men's needs, often in unscented or more masculine fragrances.

Drinking plenty of water can also help skin look its best. Hydrate well during the week leading up to the wedding for best results, and be careful not to over-indulge on alcohol at pre-wedding celebrations, especially the night before.

Reducing shine is key for wedding day photos. Rely on face and hair products that will not add unnecessary sheen to the skin or hair, which could create a greasy appearance. Matte hair waxes and sprays will tame tresses. Also, gentlemen prone to oily skin may want to obtain a package of blotting tissues, which are absorbent sheets that will remove oil from the face and keep sheen to a minimum.

Smile

A groom-to-be should make sure his teeth have been thoroughly brushed and that he has used a minty mouthwash so he is ready for that first kiss. Many grooms also opt for whitening treatments prior to the wedding to have a dazzling smile.

On his wedding day, a groom will likely be photographed more than any other time in his life. That means putting extra effort into personal grooming so he will look his best.

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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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A Floral Finish: Preserving Wedding Bouquets And Arrangements August 1, 2016

A bride's gown may garner its share of attention on her wedding day, but floral arrangements also tend to impress guests. Fresh flowers make a wedding and the ensuing reception more inviting and appealing.

According to TheKnot.com, couples can expect to spend 8 percent of their wedding budget on flowers. That can be a considerable expense for fragile flowers with a shelf life of only a day or two.

But instead of tossing beautiful bouquets and other flowers into the garbage once the wedding day has come and gone, couples can employ various methods to preserve those impressive displays for years to come.

Air Drying

One of the easiest ways to preserve flowers is to dry them out. This is best done by hanging blooms upside down so they will remain straight and not warp or wither while drying.

Secure flowers in small bundles and hang from an out-of-the-way spot in a cool, dry area. The flowers may need to remain hanging for up to three weeks before they are completely dry. Once the flowers reach this state, gently remove the flowers and arrange them in a vase or another container. Otherwise, reassemble the bouquet how it was and carefully display it.

Pressing

Pressing is another way to preserve floral bouquets and arrangements. To press flowers, find a few heavy books to stack or another weighted object. Place the flowers between parchment paper or waxed paper and lay the heavy items on top. Flowers may also be placed in tissue paper between the pages of a book so they are not jostled.

Leave the blooms for a week or two and then check on them before putting them in a shadow box or photo frame.

Chemical Drying

Silica gel, borax and regular sand can be used to dry and preserve flowers as well. These can be handy for people who desire to preserve an entire bouquet as is.

Silica gel is a substance commonly found in small packets inside new shoes and purses. It can be purchased at home improvement retailers and is used to dry out musty basements and other areas.

Fill a deep container halfway with the silica gel or other drying material. Put in the bouquet and then gently add more product to the top of the flowers so they are completely submerged. Place a snug cover over the top of the container and let everything sit for about a week. Slowly the moisture will be absorbed from the flowers.

Some people choose to spray dried flowers with a sealant to keep them looking nice longer. An all-purpose craft spray might work. Couples may also ask for recommendations from the florist who handled the arrangements, and that florist may even preserve the flowers for an additional fee.

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Seven Tips For Planning A Great Honeymoon August 1, 2016

A couple's honeymoon is their first real chance to relax and unwind after the hustle and bustle of wedding planning. Couples who want to make sure their first getaway as husband and wife goes off seamlessly might want to consider the following tips.

1. Start saving early. Honeymoons are expensive, so to afford the vacation of their dreams, couples should begin saving for the honeymoon as early as possible. The bride- and groom-to-be may need to be willing to compromise and make sacrifices in other areas to ensure they have enough funds for their dream honeymoon getaway. Couples should not expect cash gifts at their weddings to pay for their trips. If they do, they may be sorely disappointed when the time comes to take off.

2. Read online reviews. Online reviews can paint an accurate picture of a potential honeymoon destination. A couple should look at vacationer-supplied photographs to see how the accommodations match up to the resort's own marketing materials. Surprises such as service fees, dirty rooms or a lack of beach amenities may be disappointing.

3. Plan at least one exciting outing. While on the honeymoon, a couple should be sure to go on at least one adventure. They should try an activity they have never done before, such as snorkeling, traveling a zip line or swimming with stingrays.

4. Pack early. After a long wedding day, the bride and groom likely will not want to spend time packing. They should pack their suitcases and travel essentials in advance of the wedding day so they have more time to sleep in before departing on their trip. Also, couples should remember not to overpack if they want to have room for souvenirs purchased along the way.

5. Enjoy the surroundings. Couples should put down their smartphones or tablets long enough to truly enjoy their surroundings. A honeymoon is an opportunity to relax, and that may not be possible if one is tied to his or her devices. Friends at home can wait for status updates and wedding pictures.

6. Splurge on something expensive. Whether it is an ultra-fancy dinner or an exotic souvenir, couples should indulge.

7. Leave the itinerary open. After scores of wedding appointments and watching the clock, couples have the opportunity to be flexible.

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Trends In Wedding Videography August 1, 2016

A wedding day is often a whirlwind for the bride and groom. Happy couples hope to remember every little detail, but that can be difficult when so much is going on; they may feel like they missed out once their big day has come and gone. As a result, hiring a professional videographer to preserve wedding memories can be a wise investment.

Today's wedding videos have come a long way from their predecessors. Gone are the potentially cheesy soundbites and elevator music. Many of today's videos are artfully edited and highly cinematic productions. The following are some wedding video trends popular among today's couples.

· Brief clips and highlights: Few people want to sit through their entire wedding day frame by frame. Montages of key elements of the day are much more popular than a chronological unfolding of the ceremony and reception. Some videographers like to show snippets of what's to come at the start of the wedding video, then go into more extensive segments later on. Many videographers offer packages that include a short montage as well as a full-length film of the ceremony.

· Special filters or film: Filters and lighting effects can give a wedding video an entirely different feel. For example, filming in 8mm can lend a grainy touch to the video and make it seem ethereal or even like it is part of a home movie collection. However, people may not want the stark reality of a high-definition camera, which can highlight every flaw.

· Film chapters: Dividing segments of the video into different chapters allows viewers to fast forward to the parts they want to see and pass those they wish to skip. This saves the hassle of having to watch the video in its entirety.

· Cinematic styling: Instead of a stationary camera on a tripod, this method of filming incorporates different angles and close-up shots to give the video a modern feel. It is shot more like a movie than a documentary, allowing viewers to feel as though they're really experiencing the event.

· Artistic, indie feel: Film buffs may want a wedding video that breaks the mold. Ask videographers to create something that would fit in at the Sundance or Tribeca film festivals.

· Same-day editing: Want to revisit the ceremony at the wedding reception? Some videographers will edit portions of the ceremony and preparations for the big day in the time between the ceremony and reception. This gives all guests, including those who may not have been able to make the ceremony, the chance to view the nuptials.

· Unobtrusive technology: This trend relates to the equipment used to capture wedding memories rather than the actual finished product. No one wants their view of the ceremony or reception to be marred by a big, bulky camera. Smaller video cameras enable videographers to seamlessly blend in and perhaps capture shots that larger cameras could not.

Preserving wedding memories takes on new meaning when couples explore the growing trends in wedding videography.

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Picture Perfect August 1, 2016

Photography is a great way for couples to capture all of the special moments that occur on their wedding days. Long after the final piece of wedding cake has been consumed, wedding albums remain to remind couples of the moments that made their big day so special.

Photography preferences differ from couple to couple, but when the weather permits, many brides and grooms prefer to take photos outdoors. Mother Nature can provide some awe-inspiring backdrops, and such beauty comes at no extra cost.

Couples using professional photographers should share their image preferences with their photographers, especially if outdoor photography is desired. Photographers may have to do a little more work to achieve great outdoor photographs, such as visiting a site in advance of the big day to scout areas that can produce great photos. Scouting and preparation can involve seeing the landscape, examining the way the light shines on photo subjects and getting an accurate light reading on a meter to adjust flash accordingly. Photographers also will need to ensure that there are no obstructions that will appear in the background of the photos.

It's also important for photographers to select locations that have shade. This way they can adjust the amount of light needed, rather than having to contend with the photo washing out from too much sunlight.

A photographer can do much in production to fine-tune photos, but the couple can help things along. Bring along some powder or makeup to touch up between photos. Warm weather can cause shininess or beads of sweat on the skin. A light dusting of powder can tame shine, while any remaining moisture can be blotted away with a towel.

Brides and grooms need not fret if clouds appear on their wedding day, as overcast conditions can actually contribute to better photos by producing richer colors and pleasing shadows. making photos even more appealing.

Couples may want to change into comfortable footwear as they traverse the landscape to get into perfect portraiture locations. This will help to keep fancier shoes clean, and photos can be cropped to hide feet.

Bring along some refreshments when posing for photos, as the process can be tiring. Couples can take frequent breaks as the photographer adjusts his or her camera for the next shot. Staying hydrated will keep skin looking supple and ensure that everyone feels refreshed when it's time to return to the party.

Not every family member will be able to join the happy couple for outdoor photos. Elderly relatives or those who have mobility issues may find it difficult to stand in the sun or make their away across certain landscapes. Arrange for indoor photo shoots with guests who cannot easily navigate the outdoors.

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Snapshot: Choosing A Wedding Photography Package August 1, 2016

Couples must make a host of important decisions when planning their weddings. Some decisions, such as choosing a venue to host the reception, require more effort and research on the part of couples than others.

One decision that couples must make carefully concerns the photography package they choose for their ceremonies and receptions. Wedding photographers play a big role on a couple's big day, and it is important that a couple about to tie the knot consider several factors before choosing the photographer they will ultimately task with visually documenting their wedding day.

· Engagement photo shoot: Couples who want to do an engagement photo shoot may want to negotiate such a shoot into their photography package. Some agencies include engagement shoots in their packages while others do not. If the engagement photo shoot is on a couple's list of needs, they may want to look for an agency that provides such services as part of its packages or that is willing to include the engagement photoshoot for free or for an added fee.

· Party size: The number of people on the guest list should factor into your choice of wedding photographer. If the guest list is especially long, couples might want to consider hiring two or more photographers to document the day. Many agencies offer separate packages for couples who want one photographer and couples who prefer two or more photographers, so it pays to examine the price differences between such packages to see if more than one photographer can fit into the wedding budget. Couples with relatively short guest lists can typically get by with just one photographer to document their ceremonies and receptions.

· Travel: When discussing a wedding photography package, ask how much travel is included in the package. This is important for couples whose ceremonies are in a separate location from their receptions. If the distance between the ceremony site and the reception venue is considerable, a couple may have to pay extra for the photographer to travel between the sites. While a reasonable amount of travel is typically included in a photography package, it is best to confirm this prior to signing an agreement.

· Videography: Photography agencies may also offer videography services in some of their wedding packages. Videography can be a great way for a couple to document their wedding day, and it can be fun for couples to watch their wedding videos with their families down the road.

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Farm-To-Wedding Cuisine August 1, 2016

In recent years, the trends of "eating local" and "farm-to-table cuisine" have taken the culinary world by storm. However, for many of us in central Pennsylvania, where local farmers markets and roadside produce stands are plentiful, the concept of "eating local" is nothing new. As many of us enjoy purchasing corn, apples, and many other kinds of produce from area farmers to include in our everyday meals, on a larger scale, brides and grooms planning their weddings also have the option of enjoying local food during the festivities.

The benefits of incorporating local foods into a wedding day feast are many. Proponents of the local food movement laud farm-to-table food for its freshness and healthfulness. Because local food does not need to be shipped far, sellers do not need to employ techniques to increase its shelf life. Because of this, advocates point out that local foods are often more flavorful than products shipped from other locales.

Purchasing local foods also helps to support area farmers and food producers, thus bolstering the local economy. Another benefit to showcasing local foods, including those grown in the area and those produced by local companies, at a wedding is that it allows couples to share - quite literally - a taste of their hometown with out-of-town guests.

Embracing the popular farm-to-table trend, a number of reception venues and caterers in the wedding industry have made incorporating local foods a fundamental attribute of their menus. "The best way to incorporate the farm-to-table trend is to use a caterer who actually grows a large portion of their own produce," suggests Charlene Calvert-Campbell, president of Accomac Events in York, pointing out that Accomac Events has done so for the past five years. "In addition, it helps to know if your caterer is connected to a local farmer, like our neighbors at Lehman's Farms," she adds.

Molly Cook, assistant director at John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville, agrees that finding a reception venue or caterer with close ties to local farmers is key. "By working with local farmers, John Wright Restaurant receives seasonal food and vegetables to incorporate in our dishes to make sure they are the best they can be for our guests," she explains.

Cook pointed out that working with local farmers also allows for opportunities to customize and personalize food offerings. "At John Wright Restaurant, most of our food comes from local farms and is able to be customized and made the way our customers prefer," she notes. "By being able to customize our specialty meals for our weddings, we can satisfy anyone that needs organic or gluten-free options."

Creative culinary artists can combine fresh, seasonal elements in surprising and tasty ways. For example, in the fall, when pears, butternut squash, pumpkins, beets, and other root vegetables are abundant, Calvert-Campbell recommends literally thinking outside the box. "(To go along with) a nice butternut squash hummus, think about baking off large carrots, beets, and potatoes to use as chips instead of crackers that have been living in a box," she suggests. Other options proposed by Calvert-Campbell that are full of fall flavors include Gorgonzola cheese cups with York County pears, walnuts, and green salad as a bite-size tartlet; roasted pumpkin wrapped in maple bacon on a knotted pick; and a flatbread hors d'oeuvre with sweet potato and caramelized onion.

Keep in mind that "local food" doesn't always have to mean vegetables. "One of our most popular dishes for weddings is stuffed chicken," says Cook. "Our local harvest chicken breast comes from Lancaster County, and the stuffing is made from certified organic bread from The Lancaster Food Company. Another popular option is our Alfredo pasta, which is all-dairy and comes from Apple Valley Creamery in East Berlin."

Another fun way that couples can "buy local" with regards to wedding cuisine is to serve products made by local companies and small businesses. For example, a coffee blend roasted in small batches by an area micro-roaster can be a perfect complement to a slice of wedding cake, and guests will love to receive favors in the form of truffles from a local chocolatier.

There are a few things for couples to keep in mind before committing to a completely farm-to-table culinary experience, however. First, it is important to remember that many foods are only in season at certain times of the year. Local strawberries will not be an option for a farm-to-table menu served at a December wedding, for example. Couples should research what local crops will be in season during the month of their wedding so they will not be surprised by any limitations the growing season will place on their menu options. "A couple can't expect to have fresh squash in April ... or York County corn in May," Calvert-Campbell points out. "If you understand what's in season, you'll know who is writing clean menus."

Another potential drawback to a couple planning a meal heavily featuring locally grown food is that the menu, like the local farmers who grow the components, will be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Weather conditions impact growing seasons and can affect harvest times. That fact doesn't mean that couples have to forego their farm-to-table meal, however - just that they need to talk with the venue or caterer supplying their food to make sure that there's a back-up plan in place in the event that the harvest of one of the meal's ingredients is delayed due to weather conditions.

When making decisions about farm-to-table cuisine, as when making all wedding food selections, a taste test always helps. Couples should meet with their venue or caterer in advance to talk through the entire menu and taste samples of the food that will be served at the wedding. That way, they know that the fresh, local ingredients will be prepared and presented in a way that does them justice. "If your foods are fresh, they can speak for themselves," Calvert-Campbell notes. "They don't need to be smothered in butter or sauces."

Couples who are proud of the fresh, local food they are serving their guests should feel free to let attendees know where the meal's components came from. "Occasionally, we have couples who want their guests to know where the food comes from, so we list the products and the farmers in a frame in the front of the buffet," explains Cook. "For served meals, we place a list on the hors d'oeuvre table." Giving credit where credit is due will let wedding attendees know that the food they are enjoying is fresh and seasonal, and guests will also know that they can swing by an area dairy to purchase some of the to-die-for goat cheese that was featured in an appetizer or visit a nearby orchard to pick up a bushel of the divinely juicy peaches that were included in a tasty dessert.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the food is one of the components guests will most remember about a wedding reception. Incorporating farm-to-table food items is one way for couples to ensure that their guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a menu that is both distinctive and delicious while helping them to celebrate the big day.

Special Thanks To:

Accomac Events

6330 S. River Drive, York, PA 17406

717-252-2288

www.accomacevents.com

John Wright Restaurant

234 N. Front St., Wrightsville, PA 17368

717-252-0416

www.jwrpa.com

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Considering The Great Outdoors? Consider These Factors August 1, 2016

Many couples dream of tying the knot outdoors, as nature can provide an idyllic backdrop for such a special day. In many ways, planning outdoor weddings is similar to planning weddings that take place with a roof overhead and four walls surrounding couples and their guests. But couples planning an outdoor ceremony or reception would be wise to consider the following factors.

Location

Proximity to the reception venue and the hotel where guests are staying is another factor to consider when planning on hosting an outdoor wedding. A remote location might provide stunning views and privacy, but guests may tire if the ceremony location is far from the hotel and/or reception venue. Fatigue should not be very much of an issue if the ceremony and reception are held at the same locale, but couples should still look for nearby lodging before booking remote outdoor locations.

Weather

Weather is perhaps the biggest factor couples must consider when planning an outdoor wedding. Such weddings are best held during those seasons when the threat of precipitation is insignificant and temperatures are mild, but it is still necessary to have a backup plan in case Mother Nature has other ideas. If possible, couples should find an outdoor location that provides access to an indoor ceremony facility in case of inclement weather. If this is not possible, couples should monitor the forecast as closely as possible and arrange for a tent to be erected should rain start to fall. The cost of such tents can be considerable, so this expense should be built into the wedding budget. If the forecast calls for chillier temperatures than the couple hoped for, they may want to email out-of-town guests a few days in advance to remind them to dress in warm clothing.

Laws

Laws dictate what can and cannot be done in open spaces, and couples with outdoor locations in mind should confirm local laws and regulations before they commit to a location for their wedding. Couples should find out if they will need any permits and if there are any rules or restrictions at the locations they are considering. The cost of such permits may be negligible, but the rules may restrict what couples can do in a given space.

Logistics

No matter how beautiful a backdrop may be, photos of an outdoor ceremony can be compromised. Couples and their photographers should visit the site in the weeks before the weddings to determine arrangements for the ceremony that will guarantee photos are not compromised by sunlight or shade. Facility managers can probably offer advice as to the best places to hold the ceremony and seat guests, but a run-through at the location with the photographer in tow can help ensure photos come out perfect.

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Navigating The Rehearsal Dinner August 1, 2016

Rehearsal dinners are a fun wedding tradition that typically take place the night before a couple walks down the aisle. The immediate families of the bride and groom as well as any additional members of the wedding party are on hand for the rehearsal dinner, which often follows a walk-through of the wedding ceremony.

The rehearsal dinner is usually a laid-back affair, but there are some things couples must navigate as they sit down to their last dinner together before becoming husband and wife.

Guest List

It is customary to invite anyone participating in the wedding, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girls, and ring bearers, to the rehearsal dinner. In addition to those in the wedding, family members, such as parents of both the bride and groom and their respective siblings who are not in the wedding, also are invited to traditional rehearsal dinners.

Menu

If the rehearsal dinner will take place at a restaurant, the couple should try to find a restaurant that can cater to various tastes. Rehearsal dinner parties tend to be large, and within the party a couple may have guests who are vegetarian or on gluten-free diets or those who need to avoid certain foods. The more versatile the menu, the more capable an establishment is likely to be with regard to meeting the various needs of the party.

While many rehearsal dinners are held at restaurants, it's not unheard of to host a dinner party at another location, such as the home of the bride's or groom's parents. If the couple plans to go this route, they should be sure to provide a variety of food so no one goes home hungry.

Booking

If the couple is hosting a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, booking a reservation should be near the top of their priority list once they have chosen a date for the wedding. It's not always easy to find restaurants that can accommodate especially large parties, nor is it easy to find restaurants that can accommodate the unique diets of potential party guests. So try to book a reservation three to six months in advance of the dinner. If the couple is getting married during an especially popular month to tie the knot, such as June or October, they should try to make the reservation even earlier. The longer the wait, the more likely it is that other couples will book the restaurant for their rehearsal dinners. Starting early also gives the couple more time to find the ideal restaurant to host the dinner.

Tab

Many wedding traditions have fallen by the wayside over the last several decades, and that includes who is picking up the tab. In the past, the brides' parents paid for the wedding while the grooms' parents were expected to pick up the tab for the rehearsal dinner. But many couples now pay for their own weddings, and those who are footing the bill should include the rehearsal dinner in their wedding budgets. If parents offer to pay or split the tab, couples can take them up on their generous offer. But it is still to a couple's advantage to expect to pay for their rehearsal dinners.

Rehearsal dinners are an enjoyable tradition that affords couples the chance to sit down with their closest friends and family members and enjoy a great meal together. Planning ahead can make the dinner even more enjoyable.

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Seasons of Love August 1, 2016

One thing can be said of most weddings regardless of size—there are a lot of details to attend to! Dates, venues, colors, flowers, attire, favors, food, cakes, showers, photography, invitations, oh my! One way to cohesively tie these details together and filter down the myriad options is to choose an overall theme for the event.

The word "theme" may scare some people, but a subtle or natural theme won't overshadow the nuptials. For that quirky couple, a 2016 "Star Wars" wedding will be fun and memorable, but for the bride and groom just looking for the key element to make all the smaller details fall into place, a theme drawn from the seasons may be just the ticket.

Here in Pennsylvania, we have the advantage of four seasons, each with its own lovely attributes. Brides- and grooms-to-be need not feel obligated to strictly adhere to the chosen theme, but they may find inspiration with a helpful starting point. Be inspired with these seasonal ideas!

Spring

"The spring season definitely inspired our wedding, particularly our colors. When we settled on a date in April, we immediately thought of pastel colors. We wanted something off the path of the typical light purples, blues, and pinks. Thanks to Pinterest, Jill became obsessed with the light peach and mint combination. The colors felt warm and calm, and they simply looked good together. We liked the combination of colors for flower arrangements and absolutely loved the way our bouquets and boutonnieres turned out. We got extremely lucky on April 18 when there was not a cloud in the sky, the sun was out, and it was 75 degrees. From our wedding party attire to the flowers and weather, we had the most perfect spring day." - Jill and John, Timonium, Md.

Rustic Chic/Garden Party

Spring colors lend themselves to a romantic rustic chic wedding. Light or faded pastel colors go well with distressed woods, lace, and other rustic and romantic elements, and many tend to be flattering bridesmaid dress colors, as well.

Bridal Shower - A late winter/early spring tea party bridal shower may be the perfect classy and understated prelude to a spring garden party wedding. Vintage floral teacups add an ideal shabby chic element.

Flowers - Early spring blooms like peonies, lily of the valley, hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are readily available for use in bouquets or decor.

Favors - Hanging birdseed ornaments, small potted plants in tiny terra-cotta pots, or flower, herb, or vegetable seed packets may be given to guests to enjoy beyond the spring season.

Venue/Decor - There is always a chance of inclement weather, but late spring may be the perfect time for an outdoor wedding. Central Pennsylvania abounds with historic or rustic farm and homestead options that allow for indoor/outdoor mingling. Centerpieces and other decorations may include metal watering cans, chalk painted Mason jars full of spring blooms, a rustic birdcage card holder, or a cake topper decorated with birds or bunnies.

Photography - Outdoor shots with floral backgrounds and blooming blossoms, photos with umbrellas, and a shot of the couple's rings on the stem of a tulip or daffodil can make for colorful, beautiful photographs.

Summer

"I have always wanted a summer wedding because that is my favorite time of year. I love the warm weather! We picked the first Sunday in September because I knew the weather would still be warm, but hopefully not too hot. It turned out to be a beautiful day! Our nautical/beachy theme went along with my love for the summer and our venue. We got married along the Susquehanna River, so we had sand and shells as our centerpieces. We also had nautical knots around our flower bouquets. The groom and groomsmen wore gray suits with no jackets because of the weather and also because it looked less formal for the outside wedding. The wedding colors were coral and navy. The bridal bouquets had succulents in them, so as favors, we gave our guests a succulent plant in a small pot." - Cortney and Colin, Elizabethtown, PA

Nautical/Beach/Backyard Cookout

The bright hues of summer can paint a fun and festive atmosphere for a wedding. Whether planning a destination wedding to a beach or taking advantage of the backdrop of boats on the Susquehanna, couples that love warm weather have a host of options to capture the essence of summer in their wedding details.

Invitations - The classic white or cream wedding invitation gets a boost of color for summer wedding invites. Navy and coral, turquoise, pops of citrus colors, bright pinks and greens, as well as fun embellishments like anchors, starfish, shells, palm trees, and tropical flowers add some flair.

Fun Details - A sparkler sendoff, miniature tubes of sunscreen for guests, sunglasses, Adirondack chair place card holders, yard games, fans, and flip-flops can send the message that the day is indeed a celebration and that guests should feel comfortable and have a good time.

Food/Drink - In addition to a number of in-season fresh vegetables for the reception dinner, summer receptions can include s'mores, fresh fruit, lemonade and sweet tea, signature blackberry cocktails, coconut icing on the wedding cake, or tropical or backyard cookout fare.

Favors - Honey, jam, herbs, barbecue seasonings, s'mores kits, flip-flop shaped bottle openers, infused sugars or oils in miniature jars, lavender soap, seashell- or watermelon-shaped cookies, or personalized beverage holders are just some of the possible favors for a summer wedding.

Autumn

"We chose fall because of the cooler temperatures and the rich, warm, delicious colors. We had an outdoor wedding at Fort Hunter in Harrisburg in October to enjoy the backdrop of the changing leaves. The reception was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown Harrisburg. The bridesmaids' dresses were a rich, chocolately brown, and our bouquets and boutonnieres had calla lilies and other flowers in shades of autumn orange that were also reflected in the centerpieces. We chose a chocolate cake frosted in chocolate icing adorned with the calla lilies for an elegant fall look." - Melissa and Chris, Middletown, PA

Country Chic/Haute Harvest

Harvest season has become an increasingly popular time of the year to get married, and it's no wonder. The often warm days and cool evenings of fall combined with the colorful changing leaves can provide an enticing backdrop for the big day. There may even be an added bonus in avoiding peak vacation and wedding time, as well as extreme temperatures, for the best guest turnout.

Attire - Fall wedding colors can range from warm neutrals and harvest colors to rich, saturated jewel tones. Plum, cranberry, and emerald are just as comfortable against the backdrop of changing leaves as red, orange, gold, and brown. Shawls, chic suede booties, or cowboy boots can add coziness to the look.

Flowers/Decor - The decor for a fall wedding may or may not include pumpkins and gourds. Certainly these items are readily available, along with hay bales and corn stalks, but woodsy floral arrangements that include hypericum berries, twigs, and seed pods, as well as flowers ranging from calla lilies, roses, and dahlias to sunflowers, daisies, and chrysanthemums, provide couples with many other options.

Food/Drink - Pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies can easily take the place of the traditional cake for a fall wedding. Apple cider and wine, a caramel popcorn station, and hot cocoa pair well with savory comfort food appetizers and entrees.

Photography - Fall outdoor photographs can be some of the most stunning around, if the weather cooperates. The changing leaves, brilliant colors, gorgeous sunsets, and soft light of fall provide a perfect setting for wedding photographs.

Winter

"We are very excited about incorporating seasonal details into our December wedding. As part of my bridal attire, I have chosen a pretty rhinestone headband that looks like it is made of delicate silver snowflakes. I plan to carry a bouquet of light pink roses accented with cranberries and pine branches for a wintry feel. For centerpieces at our reception tables, we are making snow globes out of Mason jars. We decided to name every table at our reception after a Christmas movie; my favorite table name/guest combination so far involves having some of our friends who are priests and nuns seated at a table named "The Bells of St. Mary's." I think it would be fun to have a hot chocolate bar and Christmas cookies and perhaps even a gingerbread house or two! I am also sure that a number of the songs we dance to at our wedding will have a Christmas theme." Julie and Keith - Lancaster, PA

Holiday/Winter Wonderland

Brides embracing the magic of the holiday season or the beauty of a winter landscape can have fun with elegant long-sleeved wedding gowns, faux fur wraps, and color palettes ranging from deep blue and silver or sophisticated black and white to woodsy neutrals or the more traditional seasonal colors of burgundy, gold, and green. Holiday doesn't have to mean Christmas, as New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day weddings can also provide seasonal inspiration.

Decor - A potential benefit to choosing a December wedding date is that many venues decorate for the holiday season, and twinkly lights, wreaths, Christmas trees, and other decorations may already be in place. Centerpiece options include glass ball ornaments, pinecones, berries, and evergreens, or couples may opt for winter white and silver decor with "snow"-covered branches, sparkly snowflakes, white hydrangeas, and the glow of candles in clear or frosted sconces. Some wedding decor may be able to be used as holiday home decor after the wedding, as well.

Music - Sprinkling a couple holiday songs into the reception repertoire can be a nice touch for couples who are fond of the Christmas season. The holiday stylings of crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin will fit right in with other music over dinner.

Favors - Mugs, ornaments, fuzzy socks or mittens, reusable hand warmers, and a host of scrumptious sweets like cookies, candies, and cocoa are all reminiscent of the season. Or, because Christmas is the season of giving, some couples may choose to donate to a charity in lieu of a traditional favor.

Honeymoon - Winter can be a great time to enjoy a ski resort or a popular vacation destination like Disney World or the Napa Valley off-season, with fewer people and cooler temperatures.

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Tips For Toasting The Bride And Groom August 1, 2016

Wedding toasts are a tradition to which many guests and wedding participants look forward. An opportunity for maids of honor and best men to express their feelings about the bride and groom, wedding toasts often touch on the heartfelt and the humorous while shedding light on the relationship between the happy couple and the men and women they have chosen to play such significant roles at their wedding.

While guests might enjoy wedding toasts, best men and maids of honor may be nervous about honoring the brides and grooms in such public settings. That anxiety is perfectly normal, especially for those who have never before been asked to serve as maids of honor or best men. Those tasked with toasting the newly anointed husband and wife can consider the following tips to make the task a little easier.

· Keep it brief. While there might be many things you want to say, try to be as concise as possible. Convey your relationship to the bride and/or groom, but avoid lengthy histories that might come off as rambling. While personal anecdotes that shed some humorous light on the relationship are great additions to wedding toasts, avoid going into too much detail when telling such stories, focusing instead on the parts of the stories that illustrate your feelings and generate a few laughs.

· Avoid being too formal. Even the most formal wedding can benefit from a toast that veers more toward the spontaneous. While you want to thank the parents of the bride and groom for hosting the wedding and the guests for being on hand to celebrate, there is no need to be especially formal. Giving a less formal speech also may help calm your nerves.

· Practice, practice, practice. Practice your speech ahead of time so you are not reading from cards or notepads during the toast. Reading from a piece of paper is less likely to engage the audience than speaking to them directly and sharing some heartfelt thoughts about the bride and groom. It's all right to hold onto some cue cards while delivering your toast, but practicing the toast as the wedding draws near will boost your confidence and make you more comfortable with the microphone in hand.

· Stay appropriate. Humor adds a lot to wedding toasts, but make sure to clean up any humorous anecdotes so they can be shared with all wedding guests, including children. In addition, avoid stories that, while humorous, may embarrass the bride and groom.

· Share well wishes. Before you raise your glass and ask guests to do the same, express some heartfelt well wishes for the bride and groom. Doing so is a fitting end to a tradition that's meant to highlight the special relationship brides and grooms have with their maids of honor and best men.

Maids of honor and best men making their first wedding toasts may be nervous in advance of the big day, but there are ways to calm those nerves and deliver heartfelt, memorable toasts.

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Which Dinner Service Is Right For Your Wedding? August 1, 2016

When guests attend a wedding reception, they often expect music, mingling, and especially food to be part of the celebration. Couples have options when choosing dinner service for their weddings, and two of the most popular choices are buffet service and a sit-down dinner.

But each has its advantages and disadvantages. There are several aspects of each type of service that couples should keep in mind when making their choice.

Sit-Down Dinner

Sit-down service is usually in line with a formal reception. A sit-down dinner consists of several courses of plated food served by a wait staff; guests never have to leave their seats. Some food offerings at sit-down dinners tend to be fancy and presented in a manner that is appealing both to the eye and the palate.

There are several advantages to sit-down meals. Guests can focus entirely on enjoying themselves and conversing with fellow guests rather than getting up to seek food, and those with mobility issues do not have to worry about maneuvering to a buffet station or trying to balance food. Guests get top-notch treatment and will have a wait staff on call to fill their every need, which can make an affair more memorable for all in attendance.

But sit-down dinners are typically more expensive as well. Guests are generally given several choices for the main course, and that could mean ordering extra food and preparing it to be ready for guests' selections. Serving meals may take longer, and sometimes meals may not arrive hot to the table. Guests may be limited to certain food choices, and portion sizes may not be to the guests' liking. Sitting idle for a while can also affect the mood of the reception and lead to boredom.

Buffet Service

A buffet-style dinner is served from a long dais table that holds several chafing dishes full of food. Wedding guests are be able to serve themselves or be served by staff manning the stations.

Buffets present an array of foods that cater to the various dietary needs of guests. Those at the reception can sample several different foods rather than be restricted to one main course. Guests can limit portion sizes or sometimes return for second helpings. Buffets are generally less formal and allow guests to mingle more readily.

But buffet-style meals may produce long lines as guests pick and choose their meals. While experienced catering managers and reception site staff should have plans in place to create a free-flow of guests to the buffet stations, there will be a first and a last table called to eat, and guests on the tail end of the service may be stuck with whatever is left over if food is not adequately restocked. In an effort to accommodate everyone, extra food may be cooked for buffet-style dinners, which can be costly and wasteful. In addition, guests are asked to do more work, as they need to get up and retrieve their own food.

A catering company or the banquet manager at a reception site can work with couples as they decide if a buffet or sit-down dinner is the best option for their wedding receptions.

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Hot Trends In Wedding Cuisine August 1, 2016

Once a couple has officially tied the knot, the newly recognized man and wife and all of their guests will retire to a party room where they can mingle, dance and enjoy a good meal.

In the past, standard fare like prime rib and roasted chicken dominated wedding menus. But today's weddings cater to a wide variety of culinary tastes, and couples and their guests can expect more upscale and creative cuisine to be rolled out for wedding receptions. The following are a handful of trends in wedding cuisine.

Miniature Bites

Many people say good things come in small packages, and when it comes to miniature versions of favorite foods, they may be right. Instead of large meals that fill guests up fast, couples can provide smaller portions of several dishes. How about a piece of meatloaf topped with whipped mashed potatoes? A cherry tomato with basil and a small piece of mozzarella cheese makes a mini caprese salad. Turning favorite foods into bite-size adventures can add a touch of whimsy to the reception.

Breakfast for Dinner

Brunch-themed weddings are a big hit with those who would much rather dine on a stack of pancakes than a dish of pasta. Omelet stations, croissants and a bevy of other breakfast table fare can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Dim Sum

Dim sum, a Chinese dish of steamed or fried dumplings, allows guests to sample various foods without filling up. Carts of dumplings and other small plates of appetizers can be wheeled around so everyone can choose what they want.

Gourmet Comfort Food

People love familiar comfort foods, but now gourmet versions of comfort foods are shaking up wedding receptions. Macaroni and cheese with Gouda and Brie or chicken potpie with a puff-pastry crust are just two examples of glamorized comfort foods to serve.

Food With a Show

Instead of offering passed foods or buffet stations, some couples are opting to make food an experience for guests. An oyster bar with a chef serving fresh seafood or a dessert master whipping up flambe is a feast for the eyes and mouth.

Interesting Buffet Stations

Couples can keep guests on their toes with various meal stations. A bountiful display of artisanal cheeses, fruits and breads will be a cheese lover's dream. The stations also can be appetizing focal points around the room and ensure all guests get a bite of what they like best.

Family-Style Dining

Rustic and informal weddings have grown in popularity. Rather than food being brought to the guests or participants lining up in buffet lines, family-style dining allows guests to share conversation and pass the peas at the same time. Larger, rectangular tables allow more guests to sit with one another and serve themselves food from large platters located in the center of the tables.

Food and Beverage Pairings

Food-forward wedding couples are offering guests mouthwatering appetizers matched with a cocktail. A slider and a craft beer or a dumpling and a shot of saki are examples of this trend.

Nontraditional "Fake" Cakes

Instead of going with a multi-tiered cake or the cupcake fad, couples may opt for something new. One trend features desserts that mimic the look of cake but aren't quite that combination of sponge and frosting. Crepes, pies, cookies, and doughnuts are acceptable and can add a creative spark to the cake-cutting ceremony. When offered along with dessert stations, guests can certainly get their fill of sweet delights.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Options

Chances are one or more people attending the reception will be on a restricted diet. Rather than relegate these guests to dining on side dishes and patchwork meals, some couples are building entire menus around vegan and gluten-free foods.

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