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Before you even begin to plan your wedding day make sure that you give yourself plenty of time:
At least a year in advance is not too soon to start planning and thereby allow sufficient time for the upsets which always seem to
occur no matter how carefully you plan. Prepare a plan. Determine strategies and know your budget and parameters.  Have a 'get
together' at the very first opportunity and make sure that everyone is on the same page. If you are states or countries apart the
technology today still makes it possible to plan your ideal wedding even when loved ones are not located in the same area.

Explore reception venues incognito:

Venues: If you know your neighbourhood then you will probably be aware of your ideal choice and no doubt it is based on personal
experience or recommendations.
Have your check list ready. Go through every aspect of the reception.
Where will you greet your guests?
Will you be serving cocktails?
What type of bar are you offering and how will it be managed?
Where will the gift table and wedding cake table be located?
Can you change menus to personal preferences?
Is it possible to provide your own candies (if desired)?
How/when is the toast to the bridal couple?
Is there a dance floor and is it an additional charge?
Is the cake cutting and distributing included or an extra charge?
.....And a couple of very important questions:
Will yours be the only wedding on that day?
If not is yours the only wedding in that particular room/part of the hotel etc?
Do they book back to back weddings?
This is never a good idea you do not want to feel hurried or that your wedding is on a conveyor belt.
Do they allow  confetti, balloons, bubbles, rice etc?

Decide and book well in advance where you will exchange your vows: The best churches, hotels and venues get booked up quickly
so reserve your preferred location as soon as possible. Remember that most faiths require that young couples need to obtain the
church’s blessing or they may not get married in the church and may not even schedule a date until they have passed all of the tests
and conformed to the necessary prerequisites.  It is better to obtain this first to avoid any necessary rescheduling.

Book flowers in plenty of time: Check out the Internet, shops, and magazines.  Consider what matches your style, dress and
wedding colors. Stems cut short and hand tied are fashionable and look clean and crisp.  Make sure that the flowers that you prefer
are in season and available for your wedding date.

Choose wedding dress and veil style with care: Simple classic lines will always look elegant and will not date. Those enormous leg
of mutton sleeves and over the top embellishments looked so cool years but now that fashion curve looks almost comical.

If you must have that dreamy long sleeved heavy creation then choose a winter wedding or venues with excellent air conditioning. If
your weight is prone to change with the seasons, time of month, or your state of mind then consider one of the excellent dresses
with the corset style back. You can then avoid  drastic dress alterations. Also, if your dress has a train, consider adding a bustle to
the dress. It makes it so much easier after the ceremony to manage if the cascades of fabric can be neatly arranged and hooked up
onto the back.

Compare prices on your dress. If funds are low shop around. Maybe consider a gently used wedding dress which has been
professionally cleaned. Brides usually only wear them a matter of a few hours and it is generally impossible to tell that it is not
brand new. Or it is possible to buy the latest designer styles at a lower cost. They may not be top shelf fabric but it is possible to buy
a beautiful dress in your preferred style within your budget. You can also contact a designer direct and ask if they will be having an
end of season or sample sale.

It is very important from whom you actually purchase the dress if you buy locally. Do your research and ask other brides opinions.
You need to feel comfortable as you are depending on your bridal shops's / seamstresses professional help, support and expertise.

Hair and Veil:
Contrary to popular belief there is not an unwritten law making it compulsory to wear your hair in an updo on your wedding day so
if you feel more comfortable leave your hair down. Months prior to your wedding get into a routine of massaging your scalp and
conditioning your hair so that it has a healthy shine by the big day. If you are looking for a
really fine updo look at the celebrities at the Oscars and Grammy award ceremonies. A simple unstructured hairstyle such as a
chignon looks great. Discuss your preferred style with your hairdresser. Once you have decided on one check how you will actually
wear your veil with this style. Take it with you on your trial run and ascertain that everything ‘sits’ comfortably and attractively.
Regarding your veil: shorter veils are easier to manage but if you have set your heart on a long one either remove it at the
reception, exchange it for a shorter one or choose a style where the lower half can be removed. One or two tiers is more elegant and
certainly looks more attractive that a thick white mesh swathing around your face.

Have at least one complete dress rehearsal with the dress, underwear, hair, veil, shoes, jewelry and makeup. Do not take anything
for granted your new bra may catch like crazy or the support may not be good enough for a really sleek profile. So... Check, check
and double check.

Tiaras: These are not as fashionable as they were and the trend, if you wish to wear one, is more towards a simple uncluttered
design. Think more young princess than overdressed queen.

Shoes:
You can suffer a tight corset and heavy weight wedding dress but please do not compromise with your feet: wear comfortable shoes.
This does not mean trainers or your old gym shoes but consider smaller heals with a good sole base for stability and comfort. Check
out the new cool in-soles. If you have purchased those beautiful, hand embroidered silk, high heeled masterpieces then wear them
around the house. Break them in well in advance of the wedding day. Then, when you are posing for your photos, instead of
dwelling on the pain in your feet you can concentrate on smiling for the camera.

Makeup, nails etc:
There are some absolutely great shades available but do not experiment on your wedding day. Neutral shades, pale pinks and
peaches look classically beautiful. Splashes of deep red lipstick and bright blue eye shadow should be avoided as they do not look
smart or sophisticated. An Andy Warhol palate is fine on a hen night but a bride in white or ivory looks so much prettier with soft
muted colors.

The same advice relates to nails. Avoid the bright hard colors. A pedicure and manicure in matching natural, soft pink or peach is
definitely the most suitable. If you want to dress up your nails think about adding a couple of Swarovski crystals.

Body:
Months before your wedding start to look after your body. Treat yourself to a spa treatment. De-foliate and pamper yourself
regularly with a really good body cream or lotion. Take extra care around heals, elbows and décolletage. Exercise and eat healthy
veggies and fruit. Nothing is nicer than a beautiful healthy glow. Fake tans are not necessary and orange and unnaturally colored
brown skin does nothing to enhance your wedding 'look'. If you wish to even out skin tone then why not try a lightly tinted body
cream moisturizer. Dove has a nice one which, if you are fair skinned is really good, you can build  a light tan over a week or two
and as it slowly develops you can add/decrease in uneven areas.

Book a facial at least the week before your wedding to allow your skin to settle down from the less than attractive red blotch look.

Tattoos: Many brides decide to cover up a tattoo on their wedding day and there are some great products out there but several make-
up artists recommend that you do not cover these as most types of concealers will, over the course of the day, rub off leaving you
with smudges which could ruin your dress or veil. Experiment to see what works for you.

Purse: Ask a relative or friend to keep your small purse handy with immediate necessities, deodorant, tissues, lipstick, lip balm,
makeup, money, mirror,comb etc. perfume or cologne, sanitary products, Breath mints/spray,

Emergency pack: Ask a trusted family member to make up an emergency pack and to keep it handy. Include safety pins, small
scissors, clear/skin tone bandages / plasters, needle and thread, tweezers, bottle of water, mints, baby wipes, spare tights / stockings,
chalk for any scuff marks on dress, hem tape, hair pins, headache tablets, diarrhea tablets/mixture, antiseptic etc., hairspray, ear
ring backs, nail file, tissues, matches or lighter and change of shoes. Also give some thought to items which are personal to you and
your groom. Cover any potential problems with allergies don't forget your antihistamine, inhaler or Epinephrine etc. If you wear
eye contacts or glasses make sure that you have spares available, cleaning pads, eye contact cleaning solution etc.    

Groom:
Tuxedos are smart but it is expensive to hire the entire ensemble. Some Tuxedo rental companies do not charge the groom for his
outfit if their groomsmen hire from them. However why not consider purchasing a Tuxedo or new suit for the wedding? My
husband purchased a Designer Tuxedo for little more than the cost of the rental and now when we cruise he has a superb Tux to
wear which is his own.

It is just as fashionable these days to wear a smart suit whether it is light or dark. If your groom and groomsmen prefer to rent
firstly choose a hire company with numerous locations so that out of towners can be professionally measured by their local division
and make sure that they do this at least a couple of months before the wedding date.  Decide on a definite style there are so many to
choose from. Once the groom has chosen his preferred suit/Tuxedo the hire shop will keep on file all of the selected information
which can be accessed by the different branch locations. Remember to return the suits within the specified date to avoid penalty
charges.

Hair: The groom and the male members of the wedding party should not wait till the day before the wedding to have a hair cut.
Your groom needs to look smart and well groomed but not scalped. Allow time for hair to grow for two weeks before the wedding
day.

Bridesmaids dresses:
The trend recently has been toward the bridesmaids wearing different dresses but with a unifying link: same style but different
colors or same material and varying lengths. This is a great idea as no individual is a mirror image of their counterpart. However
you may have already decided on the one ideal dress for your bridesmaids but if you want everyone to be happy you must include
their preferences and you will be surprised how important it is to get this right. On paper the designs look great. You have decided
on a color and fabric. But unfortunately this is only a small part of it. There are several questions to which you need answers if you
want a stress free wedding. Yes it is the bride’s special day but the bridesmaids too are on display and they need to feel happy and
comfortable. They are spending their own money for this dress so it would be nice if it could be enjoyed for more than just the one
occasion. This means that if the dress has a plunging neckline, if it's short exposing large feet or skinny legs or maybe the fabric is
too figure hugging or too fussy and frilly,  your bridesmaids may feel awkward and uncomfortable. Of course you cannot please all
of the people all of the time but with a little consideration you may be able to avoid some major personal hang-ups.

Groomsmen: As with the Bridesmaids allow your groomsmen some individuality. Matching suits or Tuxedos are okay but avoid
matching everything else. Do you really want them looking like sets of identical twins?

Flower girl and Page Boy / Ring Bearer
Do not leave it until the rehearsal to go through the roles of the flower girl and ring bearer / page boy.  Ask their parents to discuss
the wedding with them and rehearse regularly before the big day. They are already going to be nervous when they arrive at the
ceremony but if they are well rehearsed then they may manage to get through on automatic pilot. However there is a very good
chance that your carefully chosen darlings will not perform as planned especially if they are under five years of age. The very best
way to deal with this is to accept it and enjoy the fact that this is part of the fabric of your wedding and any little surprises, will in
retrospect, make those special memories.

Gifts for the wedding party: Give some dedicated consideration towards your personal gifts. Show that you appreciate their time
and support by giving a gift that you know they will be happy to receive. It does not have to be a traditional gift but please make it
something special. A personalised gift is a great choice, an inscription on a lovely piece of jewelry for your bridesmaids, or their
name and date of wedding embroidered on beautiful lace hankies or a wonderful quality monogrammed bath robe.

For the groomsmen consider engraved cuff links, silver hip flask or decanter.

For your flower girl again jewelry is always acceptable: a silver bracelet or locket or a jewelry box.

For your page boy / ring bearer: an engraved piggy bank, an engraved bicycle identification tag or silver yoyo. If he loves baseball
have a baseball bat engraved.

Parents: When it comes to your parents it is of course especially important to think of a thoughtful gift, an engraved silver photo
frame, crystal decanter or clock would be lovely but also, more than anything else, to let them know how much you love them and
appreciate them. Take time to sit down before your wedding and write a letter. Share your thoughts and special memories with
them. They will know that during this very hectic period they held a special place in your heart and, although you were very busy,
that it was of paramount importance to afford the time to verbalise your love and appreciation. They will treasure this forever and
prize it above any material gift.

Registry:
Be realistic in your choice of items. Not everyone has a nest egg set aside to buy a wedding present. Silver ice cream scoops are very
nice but not really necessary. Choose a couple of great stores which offer a comprehensive selection so that you cover both ends of
the economic spectrum. Check your lists periodically as stores update and sometimes remove items from stock which you
particularly wanted. This then will give you the opportunity to choose an alternative. Also you may wish to consider asking guests
for a donation to a favorite charity.

Photographer, Videographer, D.J., Master of Ceremonies, Band, Group, Wedding Singer:
The rule for choosing any one of these is to check recommendations. Ask for references. Ask trusted friends and relatives if they
have been to a wedding and seen or heard their work. Double check what exactly they offer within their fee. Are there any extras?
and if so, are they reasonable? One important recommendation and it applies basically to anything and everything: Never assume.
Have you heard the saying that to assume makes an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'? It is very true. Make a list of what you expect and
double check that the service offered includes everything. Once you have made your choices double check the contract and reserve
your date as soon as possible.

Reception:
Double check the reception seating arrangement. This can avoid several potential problems.  How will the room be set up, flowers
arranged etc?

Apropos the recommendations: You can avoid many problems and headaches by hiring a wedding planner. It is enticing to plan
everything yourself and keep a finger on the pulse at all times however sometimes you just need to relinquish the reins and allow
those who are professionals to do job they are trained to do. There will always be unavoidable hiccups so the single most important
factor is our final recommendation. If a wedding is overshadowed by too many demanding expectations then fate will dictate that it
will fall short of your hopes and dreams. Try and avoid the pitfalls but if you are reasonable and accept  that problems are a fact of
life, and therefore of your wedding, then you will enjoy your day far better.
Wedding Tips and Advice
on Planning your Wedding Day
               Wedding advice and information on avoiding mistakes and planning  your perfect day
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