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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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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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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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Nix Vendor Vexation January 5, 2015

Weddings are a careful balance of many elements that culminate in one special day. Making all of the components of a wedding come together seamlessly requires a well-organized bridal couple and the cooperation of professional wedding vendors who understand their unique roles. The ease at which couples navigate the world of vendors can have a major impact on their stress levels leading up to the event and, ultimately, on the outcome and success of their big day.

Vendors, including florists, caterers, transportation companies, musicians, and dressmakers, are essential to a successful wedding. Competent wedding vendors should help to eliminate some of the bride and groom's wedding-related worries and responsibilities. The problem is: where to start? Brides- and grooms-to-be are often overwhelmed with the enormity of their task in the initial planning stages. Which local florist has the best selection and prices? A motorcycle or stretch limo to the ceremony? Cousin Johnny and his band have promised to play dance music at the reception, but how to find a string quartet for the ceremony? It is easy to become anxious and flustered.

When tackling any large project, the first step is to break the task into manageable duties. The bride- and groom-to-be should aim to provide themselves with ample time to plan their events. Having an opportunity to research and consider options with care should greatly reduce accompanying stress. If dealing with a more condensed timeline, keeping to a schedule and remaining focused is a must. Consider delegating responsibilities and tailor undertakings to reflect individual strengths and talents. Perhaps a "foodie" groom can gather information about catering options or a bakery, while a bride who grew up attending car shows with her father can research renting an antique or luxury car for transportation to and from festivities. Individuals should be sure, however, to review their discoveries together and make final decisions as partners.

Prior to meetings or negotiations, couples should spend time thinking about what they want their wedding to entail. Having specific ideas about elements of the ceremony and reception should make assessing vendor options easier and making choices less time-consuming. It will also help couples to address pertinent questions and increase the likelihood that their wedding dreams become reality.

Additional tips to keep in mind when researching, preparing to meet, or negotiating with vendors include:

* Seek recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Talk to those whose insight you value about which wedding vendors they used. Think of a gathering that featured particularly well-done flowers or music and ask for the name of the florist or band. Word-of-mouth advertising is a great way to find quality wedding vendors.

* Prepare, prepare, prepare. Couples who blindly enter negotiations with wedding venues and vendors are far less likely to get a good deal. When working with any wedding vendor, whether it is a wedding venue representative, a local florist, or a disc jockey, couples should know what the going rate for the services are. Couples who find a venue they like should receive quotes from similar venues before negotiating a rate with the venue they most prefer. Estimates from other venues can vary based on what they include. Even if a favorite venue does not come down much on its original quote, representatives may be willing to add extra services, such as an additional menu option or an extra hour during the reception, to match a competitor's offer.

* Always ask for references and do not ignore them. Busy wedding vendors should be able to provide a list of names of satisfied customers. Talk with people who have used the vendor's services in the past and ask the questions that are most important to your decision-making process. Unbiased feedback may also be available through online review sites, but direct contact with references will allow couples to address specific concerns. If a vendor fails to provide references, this should raise suspicions about the person or business's reliability.

* Avoid making demands. Much like couples do not want to receive "take it or leave it" offers, vendors do not want to be issued commands. The right tone can go a long way with wedding vendors, who are typically more willing to work with couples who treat them nicely. While vendors often like it when couples know what they want, couples are not doing themselves any favors when they express desires as demands.

* Don't be afraid to ask for more. Making demands and asking for more are not the same thing. When negotiating, there is no harm in asking for additional services or time. For example, the worst a disc jockey can do when asked to play an extra hour at no additional charge is deny the request. Reception venues often have the most wiggle room, so do not be afraid to ask for free coffee with dessert or valet parking. Vendors are often open to suggestions and willing to honor requests, but it is not their responsibility to offer extras up front.

* Deposits should be a fraction of the total price. Avoid wedding vendors who insist on hefty deposits. A deposit is a good-faith agreement to hold the date of the wedding, and it should be a small percentage of the overall cost of the services.

* Do not pay balances too far in advance. Many wedding vendors require the balance be paid on the day of the wedding or shortly before. Good vendors realize couples will not want to pay the tally until they have received the products or services they signed up for. A photographer may ask for the final payment when albums are delivered. The exception may be a caterer or reception site that needs the funds to order food and beverages a few weeks in advance. Paying off a vendor too early means you run the risk of a paid vendor not coming through on the big day.

* Make sure all contracts are itemized and read them thoroughly before signing. Every agreement should be in writing. Couples will have a better chance of fighting for a refund or restitution as needed when services and obligations are detailed in writing. In addition, the negotiation process can be tedious, and contracts should spell out in detail just what was negotiated and how much each item costs. Couples may even notice items in the contract that can be removed, possibly reducing the overall price. Be mindful of "extras," as fees can add up. These fees will be listed in the contract, and it is up to couples to have them removed before they sign and the contract becomes official.

* Remember there are two parties involved in the negotiation process. Vendors are not the only ones who might need to bend a little at the negotiating table. Couples might have to be flexible in order to make their dream weddings come true. Some vendors charge considerably less during certain times of the year than they do during peak wedding season. If couples find it impossible to afford their ultimate wedding during peak season, they should consider tying the knot during a less popular time of year, when more competitive rates are available. Brides- and grooms-to-be cannot expect vendors to bend over backward if they are not willing to make concessions themselves. Individuals should not compromise the whole concept of their event, but they should consider sacrificing nonessential details.

* Consider wedding insurance. Even the best-laid plans can go awry on a wedding day. Anything from freak weather events to an illness or a vendor's absence can wreak havoc. The Better Business Bureau advises purchasing wedding insurance to protect investments when weddings are especially costly. Such insurance may cover vendors who fail to show up, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, and travel delays. A basic insurance policy that covers loss of photos, media, attire, presents, rings, and deposits is usually not too expensive, depending on the amount of coverage desired.

Many engaged couples have grandiose visions of their wedding days. While such visions may eventually come to fruition, they often do so only after couples have researched and selected the best vendors for their needs.

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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 - Candle Prep September 4, 2013

"Lighting your candles prior to the wedding will help them re-light easier and faster during the ceremony. Light the candlewick briefly, and then blow it out. Also, check the area around your candles. Test lighting will ensure that they will stay lit throughout the entire ceremony and won't be extinguished due to overhead fans or air ducts."

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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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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Petals of Perfection August 29, 2013

Couples must make many decisions when planning their wedding, not the least of which is choosing floral arrangements. The beauty and the aroma of fresh-cut flowers can create a welcoming atmosphere and complement the beauty and the style of a wedding wardrobe. Flowers are often one of the first elements that guests see upon arriving for the ceremony, and they may even be something guests take home at the end of the night. Flowers - whether fresh or silk - can be integral in creating an air of romance on the wedding day.

As with any decision when planning a wedding, choosing the right flowers requires some research and a basic knowledge of which flowers will best convey the message and the theme of the wedding. The number of colors, textures, and combinations that can be created are so numerous that couples may feel the decision on the floral arrangements is best left to the florist. But it doesn't take a lot of expertise to know what you want, and it is important for couples to convey their feelings to the florist. Consider the following tips when choosing a florist and selecting flowers.

* Experts advise that a couple start looking for a florist at least six months before the wedding, especially if the wedding will take place during the peak season of May through September. Get recommendations from friends as to which florists they used or find out if your wedding planner or banquet hall manager recommends a particular florist. Some catering halls have agreements with florists, and they work together.

* Browse magazines and Pinterest to get ideas of what you like. You also may be able to find a florist through an advertisement. Keep pictures of the colors, types of flowers and arrangements, and any other ideas that attract you so you will be able to present this information to the florist.

* Establish your flower budget prior to sitting down with the florist. You should expect to pay at least 8 percent of the total wedding cost on flowers. Get an estimate on the floral arrangement and then tweak your plans according to your budget. Many florists can modify arrangements and find a middle ground with regard to cost. Couples will find that it's very easy to go over budget quickly with regard to floral arrangements, but a good florist should be able to work within the budget to produce arrangements that are visually impressive without costing a fortune.

* Once you've hired the florist, you can come up with a wedding flower worksheet that establishes all of your needs. The florist may ask for specific information, such as photos of the bride's gown as well as the colors and styles that the wedding party will be wearing. A good florist knows that a bouquet should not overpower or detract from the beauty of the bride. The florist may want to mimic textures from the dress, such as beading, with smaller flowers or berries within the arrangement. The groom's boutonniere is traditionally one of the flowers from the bride's bouquet so that the look is cohesive.

* Select in-season flowers when possible. When choosing a floral arrangement, it's important to consider when you'll be getting married and which flowers will be in-season. It's possible to find most floral varieties all year, but if you choose seasonal flowers, as opposed to exotic or out-of-season blooms, you'll likely pay less, and such flowers will be more readily available and durable.

* Go with your own style. Couples should not feel pressured to go with a more traditional style if that's not something that suits them. Instead, choose the style that most appeals to you, be it neutral or bold colors, formal or more casual arrangements, and so on. Remember, it's your wedding.

* Couples may decide to go with traditional flowers for the ceremony, as some houses of worship have strict guidelines as to what can and cannot be used. However, reception flowers can be where you show off your creativity and whimsy. After all, this is a party, and it should be fun. You may want to give the florist more freedom of expression with regard to reception centerpieces and flowers that adorn other areas of the room.

* Because receptions tend to take place in the evening hours and are often indoor affairs, experts say that added lighting may be needed to put emphasis on the floral centerpieces and help present them in their best light. You may want to think about hiring a lighting designer to spotlight some areas of the room or, at the very least, incorporate candlelight into your centerpiece arrangements. Candles can also be used to save money. Many couples hope for a floral centerpiece at each table, but that can prove costly. If the floral budget is somewhat limited, you can supplement the centerpieces with candles to save some money. The centerpieces likely won't be as grandiose, but smaller floral arrangements coupled with candles can create a romantic feel.

* To give the impression that there are more flowers than there really are, use fragrance and filler as your tools. Fragrant flowers can fill up the room with a welcoming aroma. Look for frangipani, lilies, hyacinths, jasmine, and sweet peas for a big impact. Florists know how to stretch arrangements by using greenery and other filler to lend bulk without too much extra cost.

*Experienced florists will know how long it takes certain buds to open and show off their maximum beauty. Therefore, expect a florist to be working on your floral arrangements as much as a week before the wedding date - purchasing containers, cleaning flowers, and waiting for certain ones to open fully. Minimize changes close to your wedding date, as most things will already be started.

* It is possible to make your own centerpieces or bouquets if you so desire. Simplicity will work best for the novice. Think about grouping similar-hued calla lilies together for a bridal bouquet. Hydrangea and peonies are larger flowers that can easily fill up a vessel on a table as a centerpiece. White flowers will coordinate with any color scheme and could be the easiest to mix and match. White blooms include sweet pea, rose, camellia, stephanotis, narcissus, gardenia, orchid, lily of the valley, jasmine, and gypsophila. Remember, though, that the wedding day is going to be busy enough without the bride and groom having to worry about arranging the bouquets, so hiring a professional florist may be a way to save time and avoid extra stress.

Following these tips will allow couples to ensure that flowers are one component of the wedding that will help achieve the magical and beautiful atmosphere they desire.

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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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A Wealth of Local Talent August 28, 2013

If you think you need to travel to New York or Philadelphia to find amazing vendors in the wedding industry, think again! Save that gas money and put it into your budget! As an event planner in Central PA, my job is to be aware of the latest talent, trends and vendors in the hospitality and event planning field. We are blessed with an abundance of top-notch vendors that rival any city. Not only do they excel in their profession, but they are also good business people. Reputable, dependable and talented is the winning combination.

If you are strictly looking to save money, there are still things you should keep in mind. You may get what you pay for. Beware of hiring friends or family. Having your aunt cook the food in a small, intimate home wedding may be a lovely gesture, but a party over 100 guests may be more than she can handle. You could possibly run out of food, or maybe the food will be transported at unsafe temperatures or presented in plastic tubs and old pans. The best advice I can give when on a strict budget is to keep your guest count down. Have a more intimate wedding that you can afford with family and your closest friends, and it will be truly memorable. Honestly, who has 200 close friends?! Follow up with a postnuptial gig or casual party at your home.

Since this is probably the first time you are planning a big event together, what do you do first? Before vendors can be booked, how do you know what you want...or what is your style? A big party with the dance floor packed, or elegant and subdued? Maybe vintage chic or Kim Kardashian over-the-top is your thing. Your groom may love music, but you are a foodie. Whatever is most important to you and really reflects your style and fits your budget is where any extra budget dollars should go. Even though, in general, the venue/catering bill is 40% of your entire budget, if you are not a gourmet, have a brunch or picnic or light hors d'oeuvres and desserts, and spring for a great band if dancing is your thing.

So you've done some thinking, now who do you hire? Keep your search right here in Central PA; our wedding vendors are awesome. In addition to costs, you should feel comfortable and confident in the person with whom you are dealing. It is not an easy decision to choose from the wealth of talented vendor choices we have locally. The following is just a glimpse of what is right in our backyard, and there are SO MANY MORE!

Our awesome DJs are too many to list, but if they "feel" the crowd like Titus Touch, Mixed Up Productions or DJ Freez, it will be hard to keep guests off the dance floor.

Photojournalistic photography and amazing digital album choices and design have turned this industry into a total visual experience. The Wiebners still bend the lens; Jeremy Hess, Tony Gibble and Matthew Tennison capture light; and the "girls" at KM Photography, Krisha Martzall and Leslie Gilbert, have an eye for beauty. The list goes on....

Videography should not be left on the back burner. With skillful editing, your montage will look like a beautiful documentary that you can treasure forever and your kids can laugh at some day. Natalie Fava, Levan Films and Sugarleaf Films are all worth a look.

Color, shape and form is no longer all there is to florals. Designers continue to amaze by intertwining manmade materials like twigs, crystals and wire and juxtaposing them with nature. Breathtaking creations by Splints and Daisies, Wildflower Designs, All Things Beautiful, Blooms by Vickrey, Garden Path and Sandra Porterfield are amazing, as well as many more.

The cake tasting has to be the most fun part of your vendor search. This field has also expanded way beyond the days of buttercream rosettes and swags to works of sculptured art. Make sure your cake tastes as good as it looks. Bella Manse, Byers Butterflake Bakery, Rosie's Creative Cakes, Couture Cakery, and Providence Divine Cakes are just some of my favorite designers.

Your venue should reflect your style - indoors or out - especially if the convenience of hotel rooms plays a part. Whether it is an urban chic hotel such as the Cork Factory Hotel or Penn Square Marriott or a country club with old-school elegance, make it about you. Vintage or restored ambiance is highlighted at the Rock Ford Plantation, Stock's Mansion, Moonstone Manor (formerly the Conewago Inn), or the lovely Lime Spring Farm.

So start your homework! You have just a tiny start on where to look for local talent, professionalism and fun in these few mentioned wedding gurus. Clients at The Perfect Plan by Lori Hemphill are privy to a complete list of Central PA vendors to fit any style and budget. Services range from "consulting" to "day of" coordination to "full comprehensive planning" for special events. If you are the star of the day, do you want to be the producer, director and stagehand too? The day is fleeting, and you will want to savor every beautiful detail.

The Perfect Plan by Lori Hemphill (event planner and stylist)

Party Perfect by Lori Hemphill (store featuring chic accessories for weddings, parties and gifts)

7 West King Street, Lancaster, PA 17603 717-299-2128 www.theperfectplanbyLH.com

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The Power Of Flowers August 28, 2013

Flowers are an unforgettable element of your wedding. They help set the mood, create atmosphere, and leave a lasting impression of your big day. They can adorn everything from the people in your wedding to the venues and the food. There are so many varieties and factors to consider - expense, availability, and durability, just to name a few - that working with an expert can give you peace of mind during what can otherwise be a stressful time.

Contacting your florist/floral designer

You should contact your florist six months to a year or more before the wedding. Renee Kopp, designer/planner/decorator from Celebrations! in Ephrata, says, "If you know who you plan to use, then don't delay." After the initial contact, she finds that six months away from the wedding is a good time to finalize the flower selection because, at that point, the couple has a good idea of what they want, making the whole process much easier.

Information your florist needs from you

"Colors, venues, and dates," says Mark M. Vickrey, president of Blooms by Vickrey in Camp Hill. It's a good idea to bring a sample of fabric from an attendant's dress if you have already made that decision.

The floral designer will also need to know the size of your wedding party, all the people who will receive flowers, and the places you intend to use flowers. You will also want to alert your florist if any of the attendants have floral allergies, and check if identical silk arrangements can be made.

What you may not know

Floral designs shown in magazines are sometimes digitally altered. "They seem to always showcase the most unique, therefore expensive, flowers to capture your attention and some are not (always) readily available," Kopp says. That doesn't mean you shouldn't bring pictures along, however, because they can still provide inspiration.

Many florists offer more than flowers and can go "from ceremony to reception" with table linens, lighting, and more, notes Vickrey.

Florists enjoy working with you. "Brides say they like to hire me for their wedding floral designs because I take the time to 'get inside their head,'" says Kopp. "I actually help them design their perfect bouquet from all the pictures and ideas that have caught their eye. We'll even search the Internet during the consultation looking for a great inspiration to take her bouquet over the top!"

Personalizing bouquets is not a problem. "A bride can individualize (using) something old, different wrapping, or incorporating keepsakes into bouquets," says Vickrey. "We also work with all venues and are very accommodating."

Special thanks to:

Blooms by Vickrey

2125 Market St.

Camp Hill, PA 17011

717-737-0212

BloomsbyVickrey@comcast.net

Celebrations!

114 W. Main St.

Ephrata, PA 17522

717-733-LOVE (5683)

CelebrationsNow.com

renee@CelebrationsNow.com

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