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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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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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Choosing Fantastic Favors January 5, 2015

Planning a perfect wedding is no small undertaking. From scheduling venues and hiring vendors to tasting menus and choosing attire, lots of decisions must be made. But when the pieces fall into place, the entire day can be magical.

One of the final components of a wedding is the favor guests will take home with them as a memento of the festivities. Though favors do not require immediate attention in the wedding-planning process, that does not mean couples should wait until the last minute to make a decision.

Brides- and grooms-to-be should not underestimate the importance of handing out wedding favors, a tradition with a rich history. Solid silver favors were bestowed among the nobility of eighth-century Italy, and love knots and ribbons were given by bridal couples in 16th- and 17th- century England. A wedding favor is considered a symbol of goodwill and gratitude toward guests, and there are many different wedding favors on the market. Finding the right one can take a little work. It is usually a good idea to find something that suits the theme of the wedding and is both long-lasting and practical. Try to avoid anything that is too kitschy.

A couple's budget should be considered when choosing wedding favors. A couple may want to give their guests lavish gifts but should only do so if their budget allows. It may be challenging for couples to find favors that fit the theme of their wedding, as well as their own personalities and budgets. Still, it can be done. The following are some favor-finding guidelines.

* Be creative. Wedding favors can be just about anything, so there is no need to stick to Jordan almonds or wine bottle stoppers. The more creative couples are, the more receptive their guests will likely be. For example, for an autumn-themed wedding, fill mason jars with the ingredients for a spice cake and give the recipe directions on a tag. For a summer wedding, gift guests with a sun and surf survival bag, full of sunblock, a beach towel and sunglasses.

* Complete the theme. Some weddings follow a particular theme from start to finish, and wedding favors should stick with that theme. Couples who showcase their love of travel on their wedding day may want to give guests keychains or purse holders that feature popular landmarks around the world. Those who are admitted beach bums may want to present to guests coasters that are beach-themed or shaped like sand dollars, reminiscent of days at the seashore.

* Go traditional. Couples who opt for universally appealing favors can lean toward some popular options, such as silver cake servers, candlestick holders, decorative photo frames, or engraved keepsake boxes. Aim for favors that have utility. Otherwise, favors may end up collecting dust on someone's shelf.

* Think "Yum." Food favors mean guests can enjoy their gifts and not have to worry about finding space inside their homes to display trinkets. Food favors can be lavishly decorated cookies, fine chocolates, petit fours, small bottles of champagne, or cupcakes decorated like the wedding cake.

Favors add a nice touch to wedding celebrations. Selecting a favor that will be appreciated and fit with the wedding is often a fun and stress-free part of planning a wedding.

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Something Old October 22, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special thanks to:

Melissa McClain Photography

119 Aster Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17112

717-309-2440

www.melissamcclainphotography.com

Decora Wedding and Event Planning

416 Huntington Drive, Mountville, PA 17554

717-368-3512, contactdecora@gmail.com

www.eventsbydecora.com

Nicola Herring Photography

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

717-413-0937

www.nicolaherring.com

The Iris Club

323 N. Duke St., Lancaster PA 17602

717-394-7811, iris_club@yahoo.com

http://irisclublancasterpa.com

Emily Grace Photography

120 Heisey Ave., Elizabethtown, PA 17022

717-940-8431

www.emilygracephoto.com

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Color Inspiration: Neutral Territory October 15, 2013

Why Choose Beige, Gray, White, Ivory, and Black?

-A classic, timeless, sophisticated vibe

-Can be contemporary

-Certain neutrals, like black, tend to be flattering on many skin tones with many different hair colors

-Formal and elegant

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Color Inspiration: Perfect in Pink October 15, 2013

Why Choose Pink?

-Associated with love & nurturing

-A feminine, sweet, romantic vibe

-Bright hues can be sassy, bold

-Works well for spring and summer weddings

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Color Inspiration: Freshly Squeezed Citrus October 15, 2013

Why Choose Citrus Orange and Yellow?

-Bright hues offer contemporary appeal

-Playful, fresh, energetic, and joyful vibe

-Appropriate for garden or beach themes

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Color Inspiration: Hues of Blues October 15, 2013

Why Choose Blue?

-A cool, calm, and peaceful vibe

-Fitting for a number of themes, like nautical, beach, or winter

-Different hues of blue are appropriate for all four seasons

-Flattering on different skin tones and with different hair colors

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A Tip from a Pro - "Destination" Wedding September 4, 2013

"Want a destination wedding, but guests can't afford to travel? Make the destination your wedding theme. Use exotic, tropical colors in your wedding candles and accessories."

Kathy Brown, Keystone Candle, Harrisburg

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A Tip from a Pro - Candles in Outdoor Weddings September 4, 2013

"If you are planning an outside wedding, glass hurricanes or cylinders are a wonderful way to help keep your candles lit on a windy day."

Kathy Brown, Keystone Candle, Harrisburg

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

"Shop local. You will be surprised!"

Jim DeFilippis, coordinator at Eicher Arts Center, Ephrata

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A Tip from a Pro - Versatile Centerpieces September 4, 2013

"Let centerpieces do 'double duty.' Designate someone to distribute them to special friends or relatives, or to hospitals, churches, or retirement homes when your event is over. You could use them as prizes given to winners of games played during the reception."

Kathy Brown, Keystone Candle, Harrisburg

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The Do-It-Yourself Wedding September 4, 2013

Those thinking about tying the knot in the months to come may be discouraged by how expensive weddings can be. But with a little ingenuity and a hands-on approach, couples can have a wedding that is inexpensive and memorable at the same time.

One way to save a lot of money on wedding expenses is to throw a do-it-yourself backyard wedding. The DIY approach also ensures that couples can control the details of their wedding, making it as personal as they would like.

A DIY wedding will take much more work than simply hiring vendors and leaving the details to them. But the money saved with sweat equity can be substantial.

Careful planning is key to managing all the details of a DIY wedding. Start by making a list of all the things you will need, including a venue, tables and chairs, linens, food, silverware and glassware, invitations, photography, an officiant, music, centerpieces and other decor items, cake or dessert, lighting, attire, and flowers.

Money-Saving Tips and Tricks:

* Enlist the help of family and friends. Upon asking, many couples find there are members of the family who have skills in certain areas that can be tapped for the wedding. There may be a gourmet chef, a disc jockey, a photographer, or even someone who can officiate. Having these people on board can mean a great reduction in costs.

* Include postcard response cards in wedding invites. The postage is less, and you don't have to spend money on an extra envelope.

* Purchasing low-cost items at discount stores can be less expensive than renting. Stock up in advance on inexpensive glasses and silverware, candles, and other necessities. Later on, these items can be kept, sold, or even donated to shelters or other organizations that help those in need.

* Purchase pieces of fabric from a fabric store to use for tablecloths and dress them up yourself.

* Plan out centerpiece ideas and figure out which components can be bought in advance, stored, and assembled at leisure.

* Fruit is less expensive than flowers for centerpieces. Or, consider favors that also double as table centerpieces.

* Bouquets can easily be made with store-bought flowers, some floral tape, and decorative ribbon.

* Many different foods can be cooked in advance and frozen instead of hiring a catering service.

* Restrict the bar to wine and beer to save money on expensive liquors.

* Start preparing the venue several days in advance of the wedding, weather permitting. Be sure the grounds are well-groomed and landscaped. Ensure there are no tripping hazards and that there is a sturdy surface for placing tables or creating a dance floor. It may be a good idea to ask an electrician or someone who dabbles in electric work to help string some lights to better illuminate the area, especially for when the sun goes down.

* A small arbor can mark the area where the ceremony will take place and to provide a nice photo backdrop.

* Set up the tables and chairs to finalize placement the day before. Dress the tables with linens and settings the morning of the wedding.

* One splurge couples may want to make is hiring a waitstaff to help set up food service areas, serve as bartenders, and clear away dishes and other messes, freeing up the bride and groom to mingle with guests.

* For a backyard wedding, check with your town to see if you need a permit or variance for having so many cars parked by the house. Otherwise, you could face a fine.

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Themed Weddings: Going Creative Over Campy September 3, 2013

Fairy tale wedding or modern twist? Many brides- and grooms-to-be have been thinking about their ideal wedding for years. Some may already have strong opinions about their wedding plans, complete with scrapbooks featuring color schemes and wardrobe choices.

Themed weddings have grown in popularity - as couples want to do what they can to set their event apart from the scores of other weddings guests have attended. The key to themed weddings is to create a balance between tradition and elements that tie into the theme. This way the wedding is classy instead of over-the-top ... unless, of course, over-the-top is what is desired.

* Decide on your theme: Develop a clear idea of what you would like the theme to be. Themes can range from tie-ins to seasons to specific interests, such as sports or hobbies, to a particular color scheme. Once you have a firm concept of your theme, you can plan and shop around it. Although prime wedding season runs from May through October, many couples choose to tie the knot during the winter. This article will offer tips for incorporating a subtle holiday theme while still retaining both elegance and tradition.

* Introduce your theme with stationery: Your save-the-date cards and wedding invitations will present the theme to your guests and could be the building block for the entire wedding. A patterned border or a mention of the theme in the wording can clue in guests on what to expect. For a winter wedding, choose an invitation design that will set it apart from the typical holiday greetings. You may want to forgo a folded card or any holiday-inspired embellishments, such as snowmen and ski boots, entirely. Instead, go with a classic white or off-white card. A whimsical font of swirly type may evoke the feel of winter wind, or delicate polka-dots could hint at falling snow. Keep in mind that wedding guests are likely to be busy during the holiday season, so be sure to send out save-the-date cards well in advance of sending out the actual invitations. Mail the invitations about three months before the wedding.

* Keep it simple: Some themes can be achieved simply with color. Draperies, flowers, seat covers, table linens, and similar items can set the mood. There's no need to clutter up the space with too many knickknacks, which may make the theme overwhelming. Remember, you want the event to still be traditional, with touches of the theme throughout. During the holidays, a frosty blue, silver, or white color scheme will touch upon the feel of winter. Or choose colors from among the traditional hues of the holiday season, such as burgundy, berry red, forest green, gold, and cream. Deep red gowns complement many skin tones, and bouquets full of green and white will call to mind a light snow dusting evergreen boughs.

* Choose an accent: There may be one concept of your theme that you would like to build upon. Be creative and think of subtle ways to incorporate the accent. If you wish to highlight snowflakes, for example, try to think outside of the box. Paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling may be more reminiscent of a classroom than a reception, but doilies under the china could hint at snowflakes. Italian pizzelle cookies dusted with powdered sugar look like snowflakes and are very tasty. Or, instead of including Jordan almonds in favors, use large nonpareils. You can even ask the venue to create a signature cocktail that's white and frosty.

* Rely on flowers and lighting: Flowers, foliage, and other natural accents can add a special touch to your wedding. Nature provides many different hued and shaped flowers that can work effortlessly into many themes. For winter festivities, remember that flowers may be more expensive this time of the year, so spread a tight budget by including candles, greenery (like evergreen branches or holly), or simple poinsettia plants with other more traditional flowers. Since most churches and reception sites will already be trimmed in seasonal decor to accommodate various holiday events, couples may be able to save some money by utilizing current decorations. Pretty additions including hydrangea or snowball plants (also called guelder rose) can form large puffs of flowers that resemble snowballs, which can add an element of fun. Also, delicate alyssum, and even the common baby's breath, can be tucked into floral arrangements to suggest snowflakes.

Lighting is something couples often overlook. Changing the color or the scope of the lighting for different parts of your reception can create different moods. Simple twinkle lights suspended from the ceiling or featured behind netting can be reminiscent of glistening snow.

* Choose festive foods: Foods don't necessarily need to look a certain way to evoke a theme. For a holiday wedding, you may not want mashed potato ski slopes, but you can still touch on the theme by using seasonal foods, such as winter squashes, hearty foods, or seasonal fruits.

Get creative with wedding cakes to tie into the theme. An all-white cake can look like it's covered in snow. A cake can also be shaped into a wrapped gift or a giant ornament.

Creating a theme does not have to be ostentatious or evoke feelings of a kids' birthday party. Subtle touches that are cohesive will provide the desired mood.

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The Center of Attention August 30, 2013

Weddings may be characterized as a dozen little details coming together to form one big celebration. Reception centerpieces are one of those seemingly minor yet important details couples have to consider. The reception is a memorable night for the couple, and creating a magical experience involves setting the scene, which includes decorating guests' tables with centerpieces that capture the theme of the wedding.

Many different styles of centerpieces can be considered. Couples frequently opt for floral centerpieces because of the versatility of flowers and the myriad color combinations that are available, but they do not have to limit themselves to a floral centerpiece. In fact, couples can explore a variety of centerpieces options before choosing the one for them.

* Candles: Inexpensive and beautiful, candles impart a subtle glow to a space. Candles of varying heights will cast light on the table and make the reception room look and feel more intimate. Place candles on a mirror or silver cake serving platter so that the light of the flames will reflect and disperse even more.

* Fruit: Pieces of fruit, such as lemons, limes, apples, and oranges, can be used as a cost-friendly centerpiece, whether placed in a basket or clear vase. The colors of fresh fruit can be vibrant and eye-catching. Afterward, the fruit can be brought home and eaten to limit waste.

* Beads and baubles: Filling a vase or low-profile glass bowl with beads, shells, rocks, or crystals is an easy way to dress up a table. Consider pairing these decorative beads with candles to have a visually appealing design.

* Edible items: Centerpieces that double as favors cut down on the expense and the amount of work that goes into idea creation. A basket with tulle-wrapped Jordan almonds or decorative boxes of cookies stacked in the center of the table will look attractive and then can be taken home by guests. Even a tall vase filled with candy-covered chocolates can be attractive, and then guests can fill up their own little bags of sweet treats.

* Themed objects: Birdhouses, watering cans, teapots, a small birdcage, or other items that fit with the theme of a wedding can work well as centerpieces. A carved pumpkin or gourd fits in with a fall-timed wedding, while a sand pail may complete the look of a summer-inspired wedding.

* Balloons: Don't underestimate the power of a billowing bouquet of balloons in the center of a table. Relatively low-priced when compared to flowers, balloons are easy to set up and will quickly fill a space.

* Wildflowers: Rather than centerpieces full of exotic flowers, do-it-yourself couples can place whimsical bunches of wildflowers and fresh herbs into vases on each table.

* Recycle: Use the bouquets of the bridal party as the centerpieces of some of the reception tables.

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Treat Your Guests to Flavorful Favors August 29, 2013

Do you have a shelf or cabinet that's filled to the brim with wedding favors such as engraved ice cream scoopers, cake servers, cheese spreaders, or tea light candle holders? If you do, you're not alone. As couples pore over guest favor options, many select trinkets or knickknacks that, while thoughtful, end up collecting dust in someone's home. Meanwhile, edible gifts also can be thoughtful -- and flavorful!

Guests may look forward to an edible favor because it's a memento of the special occasion, and it won't become a permanent fixture in their homes. Edible favors are also often economical, and there are many edible favors from which to choose. They can also be customized according to the theme of the wedding. For couples seeking unique edible wedding favors, here are some suggestions:

Chocolate

It's difficult to find an edible favor more universally beloved than chocolate. Rich and inviting, chocolate has long been given as a symbol of love and devotion. Chocolate candies and baked goods can work well for wedding favors, provided the favors are refrigerated to avoid melting.

Ideas for chocolate favors include individually packaged truffles, gourmet brownie bites, candy-covered chocolates with an inscription, chocolate-covered apples, chocolate coins, chocolate-covered caramels, chocolate-covered pretzels, and other similar creations. Chocolate molded designs (much like those chocolate Easter bunnies) are another idea. Depending on the chocolatier, favors may come pre-boxed and wrapped.

Cookies

Sweet cookies also make good favors. Butter cookies are a favorite because they are sturdy enough to cut into different shapes. Professionally iced, these cookies can be an edible masterpiece. Many bakeries offer intricately designed and decorated cookies that can pertain to any theme. Some couples opt for customized fortune cookies that express personalized sentiments to guests. Most cookies last two to three weeks, so they can be purchased in advance.

Cake or Brownie Pops

Food on a stick has long been a favorite of many, but the concept has been taken to new heights with the creation of cake pops. These small balls of cake or brownie are made from cake crumbs and frosting. The balls are covered in candy melts or chocolate and served on a stick. Chocolate artists can transform ordinary cake pops into works of art with intricate piping designs on the hard outer shell. Clear cello bags and decorative ribbon may be all that's necessary for a classic wrapping.

Petit Fours

These bite-size pastries lend themselves well to wedding favors. They can easily be paired and put in small boxes as take-home treats. Some bakeries create petit fours on demand. If not, petit fours can be purchased through online vendors.

Candies

It has become popular to have a self-serve candy bar at weddings. Guests are invited to step up to the display and serve themselves from a series of different confections. These assortments are easily customized. Autumn weddings could have Halloween-inspired candies or those in fall hues. It's easy to follow a color theme when you have a bevy of different candies at your disposal. Many discount stores sell inexpensive jars and candy dishes. Designer Chinese takeout-type containers are available from craft stores and can be the perfect way for guests to make that candy portable.

Seasonal Treats

If a wedding coincides with a particular season or holiday, favors can be coordinated as well. Think caramel-covered apples for fall parties, chocolate bunnies for spring events, spice cake bars for the winter holidays, or lemon tarts for summer weddings.

Make-Your-Own

Sometimes it's less expensive to give guests kits that they can take home to create their own edible treasures. Options abound and can include everything from personalized packets of hot chocolate to tea bags. Other couples choose mixes for making cookies or cakes.

Other Edibles

From cupcakes to maple syrup to personalized bottles of barbecue sauce, couples have so many options for edible favors at their disposal.

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Think Outside the Wedding Favor Box August 28, 2013

Most couples plan to thank guests for attending their weddings by issuing favors at the end of the festivities. Wedding favors can be anything the couple desires. Throughout the years there have been some favor standards that many couples fall back on when they're short on ideas. Matchbooks printed with the wedding date, Jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, drink stirrers, and candles are all classic favor options. If you desire something unique, consider the following options:

Candy: Skip the almonds and go for something guests are sure to enjoy ... chocolate. Custom engrave chocolate bars to feature your wedding date information and your names. Or set up a candy bar where guests can fill up their own goodie bags with favorite treats.

Useful tools: Instead of the drink stirrers or coaster sets that will end up collecting dust, think about household items guests can really use. What about an ice cream scooper so memories of your wedding will always be sweet? Who doesn't love to barbecue? A barbecue sauce basting set will be a grill-side must.

Plants: Send guests home with something they can plant, whether flower seeds, seedlings or a small houseplant.

Fun ideas: Having a beach wedding? Custom-print labels for lip balm or sunscreen. Winter brides and grooms may add a tag to earmuffs or scarves that gives the wedding date details. If you love a particular musical artist, give guests a CD with favorite songs.

Let them eat cake: Inquire whether your baker can make miniature wedding cakes in the likeness of your larger one. Then everyone can take home a replica.

One-of-a-kind: For an afternoon reception, consider using teacups you've bought at antique stores. Place tea in each cup or fill them with candies or nuts.

Personalized photo: One of the easiest ways for guests to remember your wedding is to have a photo reminder. Engraved frames with a photo of the happy couple will be classic gifts.

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Centerpieces For Every Season August 28, 2013

Centerpieces for your reception can be anything you want them to be! While flowers and candles are always good options, depending on the formality of your venue and the season, you can have fun adding in items that are readily available, such as Christmas ornaments, gourds, fruits and vegetables, sea shells, potted plants, or something that speaks to the theme of your wedding or honeymoon. Be creative!

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Going Green On Your Big Day: August 23, 2013

Couples about to tie the knot can make their weddings even more special by making the festivities eco-friendly.

Environmentally friendly ideals are now permeating all aspects of daily living, and couples who already do their best to reduce, reuse, and recycle may want to employ those same values on their wedding day. The growing interest in eco-conscious weddings not only benefits the planet, but also allows couples to set their weddings apart, as eco-friendly aspects can help create unique memories.

Eco-conscious couples can go green in a number of ways before, during, and after their wedding. The carbon footprint of a wedding can be reduced simply by scaling back and avoiding over-consumption. However, there are also easy ways to include green practices in a wedding without compromising on style or statement. Couples won't have to jeopardize their ideals or tastes to achieve a wedding that is both green and beautiful.

Invitations:

One of the easiest ways for a bride and groom to go green while planning their wedding involves the wedding invitations, as couples have many options for eco-friendly invitations. Though many etiquette experts frown on abandoning paper invitations for digital ones, many couples are doing just that. Those who still prefer paper can go green by having their invitations printed on recycled paper or tree-free paper.

Couples can also reduce their other wedding stationary needs by skipping the extra inserts inside of the invitation, such as directions and registry cards. Instead, couples can direct guests to a personal wedding Web page. Many wedding websites offer couples the chance to create their own personal Web page with information about themselves and the wedding ceremony and reception. Couples can post directions, hotel information, and other details that would otherwise be disseminated with the paper invitations. Collecting all of this information on a Web page reduces paper consumption and makes it easier for a couple's guests to find all the pertinent details regarding the big day.

Wedding Attire and Jewelry:

Another way to reduce a wedding's carbon footprint is to reuse and recycle wedding attire and jewelry. A couple's journey to their wedding day typically begins with the marriage proposal and an engagement ring, and even this time-honored tradition can be done in an eco-friendly way. Couples can go green by purchasing vintage or antique engagement rings and wedding bands. Couples can also shop from jewelers that use recycled stones and metals. For a more personal approach, family heirloom jewelry can be used.

Eco-conscious brides can also embrace history when selecting their wedding attire if the bride's mother, grandmother, or other relative has offered her wedding gown. Reusing a wedding dress that has been re-fitted will save the bride money, in addition to conserving the energy that would be needed to construct an entirely new gown. Furthermore, the sentimental gesture of wearing a gown passed down through the generations will be appreciated by the bride's family members and is one way for her to include them in her wedding. Brides can also reuse veils, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.

Brides who do not have heirloom dresses and accessories to incorporate into their wedding attire can still take an eco-friendly walk down the aisle. In vintage stores, brides can find many styles of dresses and accessories. Additionally, a number of websites match up brides with others looking to swap gently-used items at low or no cost. Brides can also purchase a new gown that is made from sustainable materials. Many top designers now make gowns produced from such materials, leaving brides with a variety of green options.

Beauty:

Brides can also incorporate environmentally friendly products into their wedding day beauty regiment by asking their hairdressers and makeup artists to use all-natural beauty products instead of conventional cosmetics, which may contain toxic chemicals. Brides can also patronize an eco-friendly salon, which are growing in popularity.

Venue:

Eco-friendly wedding options can also extend to the ceremony and reception venues. One of the most affordable and environmentally friendly ways to get married is to simply elope or have a small ceremony. After all, there's no rule that says couples have to invite 300 of their not-so-close friends to the wedding. Opting for more intimate affairs allows couples to save on cost and to help the environment.

For those who do want a larger wedding, keep the event close to home. Couples can wed in a family member's large backyard or in a nearby park to avoid using large, indoor reception halls. Moving the ceremony and party outside can alleviate some environmental impact related to energy usage.

Couples may also look into catering halls that offer packages that include other elements of the wedding, such as flowers, cake, linens, music, and more. These convenient packages may be more affordable and will save the couple the time and gas they would have used driving around to visit different vendors.

Instead of rice, which can be damaging to wildlife, guests may be supplied with bubbles, birdseed, sprinkles, biodegradable confetti, or flower petals to throw at the happy couple after the ceremony.

Flowers:

Flowers add significant aesthetic appeal to a wedding, and couples can make them even more appealing by choosing local flowers that are in season. Local and seasonal flowers do not need to be transported as far as their exotic and out-of-season counterparts.

When shopping for a florist, eco-conscious couples should look for one who specializes in organic flowers, which are never sprayed with potentially harmful pesticides or fungicides. In addition to organic and seasonal flowers, green options include bouquets made of sustainable succulent plants and centerpieces full of organic fruits and wildflowers.

Reception:

Suggestions abound for couples interested in hosting a green reception. Hosting a wedding at or near home gives couples the opportunity to shop around for locally produced, organic foods. Couples may also wish to consider skipping the all-you-can-eat buffet and serving a more traditional meal to reduce the amount of wasted food.

Instead of formal escort cards indicating firm seating arrangements, couples can save paper by allowing guests to choose their own seats from mix-matched options, such as long, communal benches and comfy sofas.

To save money on decorations, couples may decorate with items they already own. Centerpieces and other displays can incorporate the couple's favorite books, photographs, souvenirs, collectibles, and other special items, adding a personal touch to the event's decor. Brides and grooms can also make or purchase banners, garlands, signs, and other decorations that are made from old maps, handkerchiefs, books, and other recycled items.

Another way to make the reception more eco-friendly is to choose a charitable party favor. Instead of giving a party favor that will end up collecting dust on a shelf or sitting in a landfill, couples can give guests organic products or make a donation to a charitable organization in the guests' names.

Transportation:

A major way to reduce the carbon footprint of a wedding is to reduce the transportation-related energy consumption. Carbon emissions can be reduced and fuel can be saved by reducing guests' need to travel far for a wedding and by employing transportation options that can accommodate several people at once, such as a limousine for the wedding party or a party bus to transport guests.

Gifts:

Couples can opt for open registries that enable guests to give everything from eco-friendly housewares to charitable donations or cash for down payments on a home. When giving money, guests do not risk giving the bride and groom something that may be returned or discarded.

Honeymoon:

A couple's dedication to being environmentally friendly can even extend to the selection of a honeymoon destination. Couples can choose from a number of eco-conscious hotels and resorts or elect to honeymoon close to home.

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