Sure, picking out tons of presents for yourself sounds like fun, but the process of setting up a wedding registry leaves many nearlyweds feeling completely overwhelmed… So, to help you get started, we’ve put together a handy guide to registering the right way that will save you from a lot of stress.

Wedding Registry

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Register Early

If you’re having an engagement party or an early wedding shower, it’s especially important to prioritize the wedding registry. Giving yourselves plenty of time to register is also key, as it may take more time than you realize to decide what you really want.

Do It Together

Both you and your future spouse will have to live with the things you pick, so be sure to shop together. Not only can registering be a fun date, but it helps you learn how to mesh your styles and compromise.

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

Inventory What You Already Have

Knowing what you own will definitely help you determine what you need (hello, matching drinking glasses!). On the other hand, surveying your stuff also is a chance to decide if you want to upgrade to a higher-end version. No shame there…

Prioritize

Is an amazing honeymoon more important to you than upgrading your appliances? Would you rather invest in your hobby than your linens? That’s totally cool! Pick two to four places to register, keeping those priorities in mind. And if you do choose alternative wedding registries, make sure to include at least one traditional wedding registry in the mix to appease old-fashioned guests.

Do Your Research

Read those reviews, especially for electronics and appliances! You’ll spend the rest of your life (or at least a long time) with whatever you pick, so choose wisely. And consider registering at specific stores based on where those choices are available.

Make a List

Going in blind is bound to end disastrously. You’ll end up getting a ceramic gravy boat and wondering why the heck you registered for it in the first place. Instead, make a list of what you want. It could be super-specific with brand names and colors, but even just a vague list will help keep you on track.

Mix Up Price Points

Before you go scanner-gun-crazy, review that list. Is everything really, really pricey? Did you choose the lowest price item for everything? Neither is ideal. You want to have a solid mix so that your favorite aunt can splurge and your college-age cousin can save.

Talk to a Consultant

Many stores staff wedding registry consultants, who will sit down with you (typically for FREE) to discuss the registry process. They can answer all your questions about return policies, managing the registry, and post-wedding deals.

DURING THE REGISTRY PROCESS

There are typically two ways couples register for gifts, and it’s likely you’ll do a combination of both.

In Person

When you think of registering, do you think of running around a store scanning things with a hand-held gun? That’s what we’re talking about here. Your list can help you from going totally trigger-happy, and in some stores, a registry consultant can help keep you on track. Doing this process in person can be a lot of fun, and it gives you a chance to see your picks up close and personal (you wouldn’t buy towels without feeling them first, right?).

Online

Most major chains allow you to register online (or at least get started online). Other non-traditional registries like Wanderable and Zola are web-only, so you’ll set up your wedding registry digitally. This process has its perks, too — you can totally take your time without any pressure, and you can easily research and register at the same time.

AFTER YOU’VE REGISTERED

You’re not done quite yet — though the hardest part is over.

Share Registry Info

Now that the wedding registry is set up, it’s time to spread the word. There are right and wrong ways to share your registry, so be mindful of etiquette.

Revisit Your Registries

As the wedding approaches and guests start shopping, be sure to check in on your list — not to see what you’re going to get, but to make sure there’s still enough available. If the wedding registry is dwindling, feel free to add a few more items — your procrastinating guests will appreciate it!

Shop What’s Left

Some stores give newlyweds a special discount on wedding registry items that weren’t purchased (ask the sales rep if this will be an option). These deals can be a great way to get what you want and save some major cash, so don’t ignore this perk!

While these tips should help point you in the right direction, know that every couple is different. Your personal priorities, style, and guest list can (and should!) affect what you ask for.

If just the thought of a camera constantly pointed your way makes you sweat, your engagement shoot and wedding day might be a huge source of stress right now. To get the photos you want without feeling super anxious, you’ll need to stay calm, cool, and collected when the flash fires. Easier said than done, right?

 

camera

Photo by: I Love Wednesday

Here are a eight tips to keep you majorly relaxed while your photographer snaps away.

1. Get to know your photographer. While an in-person meeting is best, even a chat over the phone before your engagement session can make a huge difference. You’ll get a feel for the photographer’s personality — and he or she will get to know you, too, while gaining a better idea of what you’re looking for. It’s always easier to pose for someone you know than for a stranger.

2. Take engagement and wedding photos with the same photographer. While your engagement sesh can be considered a test run of sorts, hire the person you’re pretty sure will photograph the big day. You’ll spend the shoot really getting to know the photographer and his or her style. Plus, you can see the engagement images before the wedding and share what you love and don’t love. By the time the big day comes around, you’ll feel so much more relaxed knowing everyone’s on the same page.

3. Wear something you love. If you’re a jeans-and-a-T-shirt kind of gal but decided to wear a fancy dress for your engagement photos, you’re going to feel uncomfortable the whole time. Can’t stand up straight while wearing heels? Go with chic bridal flats on your big day. Not only will you be all the more comfortable during the “I dos,” but your snaps will look more natural, too.

4. Have a drink before the shoot. A glass of champagne or a cocktail can work wonders when the camera comes out. Just stick to one or two! Too many and you might look sloppy in all the shots. Want to have a little more fun with this idea? Bring a bottle of bubbly to open during your engagement session, or do the shoot at a favorite bar or restaurant.

5. Schedule plenty of time. You’re anxious as is — don’t add more stress to the situation by being pressed for time. Pencil in at least a half hour more than you think you’ll need. This way, you’ll also have a little time to get ready, settled, and get past those first few warm-up shots.

6. Plan less formal photos. Maybe it’s the thought of traditional, staged group photos that has you anxious? Nobody said those shots are required. There are plenty of ways to take pics of your families and wedding party without standing in a prearranged pose. Talk to your photographer about sitting or walking for group shots instead.

7. Find an item to hold. Wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do with your hands? You’re not alone! If you’re really unsure, find something subtle to keep close. Maybe it’s your bouquet, your significant other’s hand, the train of your dress, or something else. No matter what it is, you’ll feel like your hands have a purpose when they’ve got a job.

8. Practice, practice, practice. It may seem super silly, but rehearsing being in front of a camera can make you feel at ease. It can be totally casual, too. Ask a friend or your partner to snap some photos ( not selfies) just so you can practice posing. Or, plan more sessions throughout the wedding planning process: hire a photographer for your bachelorette or bachelor party or ask a talented friend to shoot the rehearsal dinner.

Keep in mind, it’s totally normal to feel out of place in front of a camera, but relaxing is so important on the big day. Remember that there’s no need to feel awkward and trust that your photographer will do his or her best to make you look outstanding.

 

Some sort of wedding registry is a must for every engaged couple, whether you want to go the traditional route or shake it up with a honeymoon, experiential or hobby-based version. But after you add all the gifts to your wedding wish list, how are you supposed to spread the news to your nearest and dearest without seeming too, well, greedy? Like most wedding-related matters, the answer to this question comes with its own set of rules and etiquette. But with our little list of do’s and don’ts, sharing your registry will be a piece of cake.

Wedding Registry

1. Do include information on your bridal shower invitations.

Chances are, you’re not throwing your own shower, so having if the host adds a link or note to the invitation it’s totally fine. While a bride or groom asking for gifts directly can be taken as a little rude, your mom, aunt or bestie can feel free to spread the word on your behalf. And, because bridal showers are actually all about the gift giving anyway (ribbon bouquets and hats have to be made from something, after all), guests will want and need to know what it is you’d like to receive.

2. Don’t post a Facebook status with links to your wedding registry.

While this might make it easy for some people to find your wedding registry, don’t forget that you (probably) haven’t invited every single one of your Facebook friends to your wedding. Plus, it could cross the line into “greedy” territory. Posting a link to your wedding website — which should have easy-to-find wedding registry links — is totally okay, though. As is texting or emailing the info to interested parties. Just make the effort to say something like “But please know that your presence at the wedding and kind words are more than enough!” to soften the request.

3. Do include a wedding registry page on your wedding website.

Probably the best thing about the new age invention of wedding websites is the opportunity to share your registry information without seeming all “gimme gimme.” Include links to the online stores so guests can access them easily and choose their gifts without too much of a hassle. Just be careful with the language you use to introduce your loved ones to the page: Try something like “If you wish to give a gift to the bride and groom…” to make sure your guests know that gift-giving is an option.

4. Do put your wedding website on your save the date.

While you don’t necessarily have to say “Hey, we’re registered at David Jones!” on the save the date, the announcement can be a good way to spread the word about your website. Everyone invited to the wedding (even if they can’t end up coming for the celebrations) will get that info and be able to figure out the details for themselves if they want to buy you something in honor of your nuptials.

5. Don’t put your wedding registry info on your wedding invitation.

Make sure to add in that wedding website somewhere on the invitation, but there should be no direct mention of gifts on your invitation AT ALL — even if you’re requesting no presents. (And definitely do not ask for cash in place of gifts!) Remember, gifts are never to be required; putting information about gifts on the invite could send the wrong message to your guests and make them think that you’re expecting them to bring a present beyond their presence. Not a cool or cute vibe to give off, even as a bride-to-be.

6. Do count on old-school word of mouth to spread the word.

Back before wedding websites were a thing, guests learned about wedding registries by asking the bride or groom’s family. And some traditions should never die — so be sure to share the details with your immediate family, bridesmaids, and groomsmen and let them know they can spread the word on your behalf.

 

Wedding planning can be a stressful time, especially if you let it get to you. Read on for five ways to stay sane during your wedding planning process.

wedding-planning

1. Have date nights with your partner where you agree not to talk about the wedding at all. You have to have some time together when you can talk about all the other important things in your life!

2. Schedule some time with friends. Whether it is a pedicure, a night out, or a weekend away, getting in some quality bestie time is often just what the doctor ordered to beat the wedding planning stress.

3. Enlist help. You can’t plan your entire wedding all by yourself! Whether that help comes from hiring a great wedding planner, or from you and your fiance’s parents or friends, ask for help and delegate tasks when you can.

4. Indulge in some stress-beating activities. Whether it’s a couples massage, regular yoga workouts, a weekend hike, having a cocktail or two, or binge watching your favorite cheesy television show, find whatever works for you and do it! Repeat as often as possible to feel relaxed.

5. Get enough rest. We know it’s easier said than done, but the best thing you can do to be stress-free (and look good too!) is to get enough sleep. If you finding yourself staying up late to work on DIY projects, or if your future spouse thinks your laptop is permanently attached to your lap, set a limit of how much you’ll do in the evening and stick to it. Better yet, unplug and spend some time relaxing before bed so you’ll sleep even better.

Wondering when on earth to start thinking about wedding invitations? There’s a whole slew of steps involved in finding, ordering, and sending the perfect invites, so we’ve mapped out every part of the process right here. You’re welcome!

wedding_invitations

Photo by: Lara Hotz

 

Find inspiration – 6+ months before the wedding
Invitations should NOT be your first wedding planning priority (you have a venue to find and a caterer to hire!), but start browsing the web for styles you love. You never know if an invitation suite could inspire your whole wedding style!

Meet with stationers or order a sample kit – 4 – 6 months before the wedding
Just like you’d “interview” other wedding vendors, you’ll want to get a feel for invitation options before committing. If you’re hiring a local independent designer, meet with them in person to review some of their past work and discuss what you’re imagining. Opting for an online stationery resource like Wedding Paper Divas or Minted? Request a sample kit to see (and feel!) paper types, colors and more.

Pro tip: You might want to think about other wedding day stationery, like menu cards and programs, before this — especially if you want all your stationery to coordinate.

Order the invitations – 3 to 5 months before the wedding
Printing and shipping take time, so the sooner you place the order, the better. Plus, ordering earlier means you’ll have time to see proofs and make changes (without any time crunch). Ordering the invitations includes deciding what they’ll say, so remember that you’ll have to have your venue, menu, accommodations, and timeline finalized first. If the stationer is handling your envelopes, too, you’ll need a guest list ready.

Address the envelopes and assemble the pieces – 2 to 3 months before the wedding
If you’re hiring a calligrapher to address the envelopes, they’ll likely want around two weeks to do the job (but it depends on your guest list and the specific artist, so ask ahead of time!). No calligrapher? Whether you’re printing or hand-writing addresses, it’s still helpful to give yourself two weeks in case of any mistakes.

While putting all the pieces of your invitations into envelopes isn’t really hard it definitely is time-consuming! We’d recommend having a little party with your family or wedding party to expedite the process. (Just keep the snacks and drinks away from the freshly printed stationery!)

Send the invitations – 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding
You might have already sent a save-the-date to get your wedding on guests’ schedules, but sending invitations between one and two months before the wedding gives them plenty of time to plan. After all, they might need to make travel arrangements or find a babysitter.

Ask for RSVPs – At least 2 to 3 weeks before the wedding
A final headcount is key for the caterer, and they’ll probably want your total tally a week before the wedding. A few extra weeks out gives you time to call non-responders and ask if they’ll be attending. Plus, you’ll need some time to plan the final seating chart.

Of course, you’ll want to adjust these guidelines for your particular wedding. For example, you might want to send invitations a little earlier for a destination wedding. Or, if you’re having a super intimate wedding, you might be able to get away with pushing the RSVP date back a bit. But this starting point should point you in the right direction!

 

These days, more and more couples are financing their own weddings; with the average age of marriage on the rise, today’s couples often have more cash at their disposal than those who married 20 years ago. However, there are still plenty of couples who need parental support to pay for their big day. But asking for that kind of financial backing can be a sensitive subject, so here’s some advice on how to make the big money talk as painless as possible.

 

Wedding-Budget-love-2-love-wedding-planner

Photo by: I Love Wednesday Photography

 

1. Talk to your partner about the type of wedding you’d like to have before you do anything else. 

Sit down with your spouse-to-be and have a frank talk about the type of wedding you want to have, whether it’s a small backyard affair, a beautiful barn wedding or a black-tie. Details like when and where you’d like to marry and roughly how many guests you want to invite, will help you estimate your wedding costs. With those details in mind, start researching how much you may need to spend to make those dreams come true.

2. Decide how much the two of you can afford to contribute. 

Before you ask your parents for financial support, it’s important to determine how much you and your partner can realistically bring to the table. Do you have savings or will you be able to put away a certain amount of money each month during your engagement? Whatever the case, you’ll want to have a solid understanding of what you two alone can afford before you blindly ask your parents for help. They may actually be willing to chip in a little more if they know you’re willing to spend some of your own money, too.

3. Don’t commit to anything until you know your EXACT budget. 

Don’t sign on ANY dotted lines until you’ve completely finalised your budget. Don’t assume you know how much your parents can contribute and don’t just assume you’ll figure it out later. That could turn out to be a very costly mistake…the last thing you want is to have put down a deposit on a venue you ultimately can’t afford. Be patient and once all money matters are set in stone, get your planning on!

4. Ask your parents to sit down and discuss the wedding budget. 

Whatever you do, do NOT surprise your parents with a chat about the budget. Give them a heads-up so they can look through their personal finances and get on the same page. You want them to be able to prepare for the conversation rather than having a knee-jerk N-O reaction. Keep in mind that whether your parents are divorced, still married or remarried, you’ll want to talk to all parties before accepting any financial contributions or making any major decisions.

5. Have The Talk. 

Once you’ve set a date to chat, it’s time to get down to business. Let your parents know what your ideal wedding looks like and then present the facts: the average costs in your preferred location, any backup options available, and the amount you’re able to contribute. Then, if they haven’t brought it up already, ask them if they’d be able to contribute anything to your budget. Make sure it’s clear that you’re not demanding a contribution, just inquiring. When you get their final number, be grateful for any support!

6. Be sure you understand your parents’ expectations before accepting their contributions. 

If your parents offer to financially back your wedding in any way, discuss how involved they want to be in the planning process before accepting any money. Some parents may want to plan the whole thing if they’re paying for the whole things, while others may be happy to just foot the bill whenever the time comes to pay for goods and services. Just make sure you’re on the same page from the beginning and that you’re comfortable with any of your parents’ demands.

7. Keep in mind that bigger isn’t always better. 

If after talking about the details with your parents you agree on a number that’s not quite as large as you originally thought it would be, you might feel disappointed at first. But while it’s hard to let go of your dream wedding day details, having a small budget actually has some big benefits. It will force you to get creative and focus on what really matters!

Rules? What wedding rules? We’re all about making your wedding as perfectly you as possible, no matter what. So, here are eleven traditional big day elements you can totally bail on.

wedding-rules

Photo by: Sarkodie Photography

 

1. Wearing a wedding dress.

Not down with a gown? If you’re just not feeling a frock, try a wedding pantsuit, jumpsuit, romper, or separates.

2. Wearing a white gown.

Blush, mint, and blue are are increasingly popular options. But if you want something a little more avant-garde, or you’re totally not support of the traditional implications of a white gown, it’s a-okay to rock your favorite color!

3. Choosing even wedding parties.

It’s highly unlikely that you and your partner have the exact same number of friends you want to include in your big day, so no need to force it. You may just need to get a bit more creative with the processional and photographs!

4. Having gendered bridal parties.

Who says you can’t have a “man of honor” or a “groomswoman”? Fill your wedding party with the friends and family that matter most, regardless of gender

5. Making your ‘maids wear matching dresses.

Why not embrace your besties’ unique styles? Consider setting some guidelines, like length, color, cut, or fabric, and let your bridal party pick what they’re wearing (with your final approval, of course).

6. Carrying a bouquet.

Love flowers but don’t want to keep up with a massive bouquet all day? Consider an alternative, like wearing a flower crown, a corsage, or a floral necklace.

7. Reciting traditional vows.

Your “I dos” don’t have to be cut and dry. We love the idea of personalizing your wedding vows to reflect your individual love story, whether that’s through writing your own vows or even singing a song.

8. Having a first dance.

Not into the limelight? It’s absolutely okay to forgo the first dance. We recommend choosing an alternative activity, like a champagne toast, bridal party dance routine, or photo slideshow instead!

9. Doing a bouquet or garter toss.

Another tradition that you can totally skip if you aren’t a fan of being front and center. Instead of a bouquet toss, consider inviting friends to the floor for a fun single gals dance, or just keep the party going and ditch the notion altogether.

10. Having the night end after the reception.

Who says the party has to end with the last song? Consider hosting an after-party post-reception, or just pick a bar nearby that all your friends can meet you at afterward!

11. Jetting off to your honeymoon the morning after the wedding.

These days, you can take a honeymoon whenever you want or you can skip it altogether. If traveling sounds totally overwhelming, opt for a staycation or minimoon, or hold off on the big trip until you’ve got the time and energy!

We’re not typically in the business of telling you what you should and shouldn’t do on your wedding day because we believe that every couple and every wedding is unique. However, the more we think about it, there’s one aspect of your day that we really (really) do encourage: writing your own wedding vows. When it comes down to it, what’s most important aren’t the decorations on your tables or the colour of your bridesmaids’ dresses, but rather the marriage that begins on your wedding day. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to write your own vows, we’ve got four good reasons why you absolutely should.

wedding-vows

Photo by: I Love Wednesdays

 

1. What You Vow is Up to You
Your love and your relationship are one-of-a-kind and your vows should be too! When you read your vows, you’re reading what you are uniquely promising to your partner – something no one else can decide for you. It may be helpful to look at traditional vows for inspiration when deciding what promises you want to make, but at the end of the day, the most honest and true vows are inspired by your love for the person you’ve chosen to marry.

A great place to start when deciding what to vow is your story together. How have you been there for your partner, or how have they been there for you, over the years? Is there a time when you felt you fell short for them in the past but are now aware how you can do better in the future? Consider the tough times and the tremendous times you’ll no doubt experience in your lives together and write vows that address how you want to handle those situations as they come.

2. Remember Why You’re Getting Married in the First Place
Wedding planning can take a lot out of a couple. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important when your conversations revolve around choosing a menu for your reception and going to dress fittings. The experience of sitting down to write your vows is a wonderful opportunity to remember why you’re getting married in the first place. This process can help ground you and connect you to your partner when wedding planning seems to get out of control. After the wedding is over, you’re married to this person and get to start your lives together. Embrace all the feelings that come with embarking on your next chapter and write vows that honour this time in your lives.

3. Your Guests Are Here to Celebrate Your Love
We hear a lot of couples say they want their wedding to feel like “them” – and you know what – your guests want that too! You loved ones are gathering on your big day to see two people choose to love each other forever and they want to hear why and how you’re going to keep choosing each other every day for the rest of your lives. Wedding guests pack tissues in their purses and pockets for a reason – they’re expecting to cry! Don’t be afraid to get a little emotional at the altar; your guests will appreciate it more than you know!

4. It’s About What’s In Your Heart, Not How Good a Writer You Are
The number one reason we hear that couples don’t want to write their own vows is that they feel like their writing skills aren’t up to the challenge. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t matter! Great vows come from the heart and no one will be paying attention to how you decide to string those words together, just that you said them. As long as you’re honest and speak from the heart, your vows will be perfect because they’re yours!

The signature wedding cocktail is one wedding tradition we absolutely love. It combines two things we’re big fans of alcohol and theme parties! (Also, serving just beer, liquor, and a signature cocktail is a fantastic way to save money on your wedding.) If you’re struggling to try to figure out what cocktail represents you as a couple, here are three tips for choosing your signature wedding cocktail for your big day.

 

signature-wedding-cocktail

Photo by: Lara Hotz Photography

 

1. Take inspiration from your location.

If you’re getting married in a state or region that is known for a specific type of alcohol, incorporate that into your drink somehow. It’s a fun little detail that guests like and it’s a way to share a bit of your culture with out-of-towners. If there is no local distillery or brewery, try something inspired by or incorporating another local food.

2. Think about your style and tastes as a couple, and how you could work that into your drink.

This could mean working your shared love of Scotch, your local sports team, or your dogs into your drink. If you’re world travelers, introduce guests to a drink you tried on your favorite trip. It doesn’t have to be super literal either. If you’re both major jokesters, a tried-and-true drink with a clever new name might be the perfect signature cocktail.

3. Serve two signature cocktails.

If you’re a tequila girl but your partner can’t stand it, choose two different cocktails that complement each other. I love when couples do this and put up a cute sign on the bar letting guests know which drink represents which half of the couple.

 

It seems like every time a fun new trend hits weddings, someone is already declaring it “over.” The wedding photo booth is one of those trends; it’s gone from a fun novelty to a common occurrence at every wedding. Now many couples are worried it’s played out. But before you put away the funny props and fake mustaches, here are five reasons it’s still worth it to have a wedding photo booth.

Photo Booth

Photo by Cliq Booth

 

1. It’s a good source of entertainment.

Having a few activities besides dancing at your reception is a good way to make sure all your guests have fun. Sometimes people just want a break from busting a move, and the photo booth provides a nice escape. It’s also a good place for people to gather and socialize.

2. It creates a wedding keepsake — for you and your guests.

A lot of guests will appreciate having a photo of themselves with their friends, their kids, or their date. But even if they don’t care about that, you will love having fun pictures of your wedding guests. If you think of it like a modern guest book, it seems silly to skip it just because it’s been done before.

3. Your guests don’t spend hours looking at online inspiration.

While your also-engaged maid of honor might think photo booths have become a wedding cliche, that’s probably because she’s got wedding planning (and attending!) fatigue. But your older relatives and guests who don’t attend many weddings will likely still find the photo booth totally delightful and fun.

4. Just because a wedding trend is popular doesn’t mean it has to be abandoned.

If you think your photo booth is going to be the coolest thing ever that none of your guests have ever seen before, you may need a reality check. But if it’s just a new wedding tradition that you happen to like, who cares if it’s been done before? Some elements of your wedding will be personalized and unique, but many others will be part of bigger traditions that started out as hip trends before becoming ubiquitous.

5. Every photo booth is different.

The vibe at every wedding is so different, thanks to everything from the time of day and the venue to how strong the bartender is mixing drinks. That means every photo booth will be different too. Even if people are overtaking pictures with their dates, they might love a chance to take silly pics with old friends or relatives whom they haven’t seen in a while.