Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Step 60 - Decide if you need Wait Staff/Valets for your Wedding

(3 Months to 4 Months before the Wedding)
Most reception facilities and catering companies have their own wait staff and when you book their facility they have plenty of help on hand and if they should need additional staff they have many of their employees that will work if called. Most of their help has proven themselves in the past, so you generally can find a pretty good wait staff of waiters, waitresses, and busboys else, they would not likely to be contacted.

At many weddings though, you may be booking a banquet facility or lease a wedding tent and you need to find a wait staff yourself. If the wedding is a large or upscale wedding, you need to hire a professional wait staff. The first place you might start is to call the upscale hotels in the area and ask who to call. A lot of wait staff go from hotel to hotel and have a lot of experience working big weddings. If the hotels you contact are unable to find you servants, then you might try reception facilities, caterers, upscale golf clubs, country clubs, and your fancy restaurants. You should try to find at least an event coordinator, that can be the go to person and help run your event.

If you are looking for staff, you can also contact your local community college or university, they might offer a hospitality program and there is always students that would love to gain some experience working a wedding. With the young students, the key is to have them assigned to a mentor, like an event coordinator or hostess to assign and explain duties.

The event coordinator or hostess should meet with the help, preferably at the location and review the duties at the event. The wait person should receive instruction of his/her duties, from the setting up of the tables and chairs, to putting out the linens, to how to set the place setting at the tables including wedding favors and place cards, to knowledge of the food of the entrees being served, to how the food should go out, to the order in which the food goes out to table numbers/names, to inquiries with the wedding guests, to clearing tables, to how to handle take home bags and who serves coffee, wedding cakes, and desserts.

You also need to insure some of the staff will clean and dismantle the event and arrange for a special garbage pickup too. If the wedding couple is done with the location after the wedding reception and is off to their honeymoon and the event is at a banquet hall or wedding tent, they need to assign a person just to be an oversight person to insure whoever is responsible for cleanup is not derelict of their duties. Maybe ask the best man, maid-of-honor, or person returning the tuxedos to check if the facility got cleaned up okay and insure nothing was left behind, especially wedding gifts. Also, you need a backup plan for the wait staff too, who could be contacted if any wait staff got sick or pulled their back out, the day of the wedding. Who can you get at a moments notice in the event of an emergency?

Make sure you have all the supplies you need for the wait staff, you should try to have a consistent professional looking outfit, make sure you have serving trays, bus buckets, tray stands, plastic garbage bags, take home containers, and garbage buckets and formulate a plan on organizing dishes, flatware, glasses and coffee cups to readying their return after the event. Is there a place to clean, box and store items after the wedding and do you need some wait staff for these duties. If you find you need more supplies, you can generally get them at a rental or party supply store. Supplies or extra supplies may also be found from a caterer, reception facility or banquet hall, or some hotels who are willing to rent out supplies.

You need to have all your wait staff know their assignments, who is the cake server and who passes out the cake, who handles drinks and hors d'oeuvres, who handles serving the coffee and desserts, who is responsible for getting ice, who is responsible for clearing out the garbage buckets. Make sure every assignment is accounted for and who handles what.

Another place you can find help is at an event staff employment agency or from a bartender's school, usually you will have to pay a finder's or some type of referral fee on top of paying the wait staff. If it's a small wedding and you need help, you can also contact some local restaurants or some diners.

So what makes a good waiter/waitress to seek out for a wedding. You would like to find an individual that has some experience waitressing and has shown they can handle significant events. A person who can handle multi-tasking, can do several things at once without being overwhelmed or being forgetful of things. You want a person that is efficient at serving guests, has the arm strength to hold a heavy dish tray, notices table needs, cleans dirty tables, asks if the guest wants a refill, brings an extra plate if requested, prepares a take home plate if asked, and insures the needs of the guests and their tables are met. A person who is a good listener and knows how to give a brief conversation. A person who is observant of the food, is properly prepared, dresses well, has a good memory, is organized in setup, has knowledge of the menu and food being prepared and is efficient at clearing tables and can handle a tab.

When parking is limited, inconvenient, or difficult to find at your wedding, you may consider using the services of a parking valet instead. The last thing you want are guests getting aggravated at your wedding and have trouble finding a parking spot and having to walk a distance to the event. It may be possible to dig up friends or acquaintances to park cars at your wedding. The parking may be down the street in a church parking lot, or a city parking garage, or parking on side streets down the block. Make sure you contract with a venue beforehand to insure you have a blocked off a parking area for the day and time of the wedding reception and to have someone able to monitor the parked cars. Make sure the valets have matching shirts so guests can identify them easily.

The other alternative is to use a valet company and preferable one that uses a lock box setup to hold the keys. Most valet companies require their employees to wear company uniforms so they stand out in the crowd for your wedding guests. You may need to notify the neighborhood of the event and reserve a block of parking spaces for the duration of about an hour after the event has ended.

A wedding reception often runs about 4 to 5 hours. For smaller weddings you may need 5-6 attendants and for a remote location or a larger wedding maybe 8-10 attendants. The costs are generally around $100 per attendant plus the parking arrangement. There is no standard pricing for valets so it's best to shop around for the better deal. For weddings, you don't want out of pocket costs to pay the valet, the wedding couple is expected to pay the valets and need to advertise to your guests, not to pay or tip.

The wait staff and parking valets work often gets unappreciated, they often work hard and don't get paid as well as other wedding vendors. For upscale weddings you need to be sure you get good experienced help and they dress professionally. For a remote wedding location, you need a few experienced event coordinators that can provide some assistance to younger professionals. The important thing is to find wait staff that does their job well and leave a positive impression on your guests. See you on the other side!

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Step 59 - Determine if you need a Wedding Bartender

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Besides the bride's dress, the wedding cake, the food, and the decor, another essential element to make the wedding a grand success is having good drinks and in order to have good drinks, you need a great bartender. In just about every extended family, there are a few drinkers, they are picky drinkers and they expect to mark the occasion with their favorite drink. The pressure is on to find a bartender who knows all the mixologist's terminology, knows how to make a good drink and knows how to professionally decorate it like a professional bartender does.

Many venues provide their own bartender and these bartenders have proven themselves to the reception facilities and the caterers, else the venue would not have chosen to keep them on. When you interview these type of venues, you still should get a little information about the bartender, basically the experience factor and try to see them in action a little bit. If you drink a little bit, find when they are working and try to see and experience them in action a little.

However, if you are allowed to bring your own bartender, you might be able to save yourself some significant money. Usually the reception facility and catering companies charge a high rate for a bartender, with the bartending fees they charge you, they take a lot of the fees off the top for insurance purposes and overhead and pay the remainder to the bartender making a nice margin at the bartender's expense. If, on the other hand, you brought your own bartender in for the wedding, you would not have to deal with the overhead and insurance and you can pay the bartender a lot less than which you would have to pay the caterer.

To find a great bartender, there is some research involved, you can start with family and friends and see if they know of any bartenders they would recommend. If you don't find any there you can search many places, just don't search where you are booking your wedding, or they might charge a referral fee or include overheads and insurance. Check with other reception and banquet facilities, other caterer's, upscale hotels, upscale restaurants especially ones that handle rehearsal dinners, upscale golf clubs and country clubs, wedding related websites usually found under caterers or rental services. The vendors that work weddings such as the photographers, videographers, disc jockeys, and musicians have worked many weddings and are constantly getting to know bartenders at all the venues, ask your wedding vendors when you meet with them, if they know of any bartenders they would recommend.

You need to learn all the attributes that makes a great bartender and you want to give them a situational interview. The bartender should have the knowledge to set up his station well in advance, knows where all the liquor is without thinking, has all the high volume movers situated near him/her. The great bartender can make almost all the common drinks from memory has the recipes all in his head. The great bartender takes the order he gets and makes the drinks that take the longest first, he prepares all the embellishments (cherries, oranges, lemons, olives, celery, etc) far in advance and has all the ice (rocks) ready to plop in a glass. The bartender is cool and courteous under pressure and can read someone and cuts them off if they have had one too many.

Bartender schools are great places to learn the bartending trade and you might find pretty good bartenders there, but for a busy wedding you need a great bartender who has the bartender knowledge all in his/her head and that only comes with time and experience, you are best to find one with ten or more years experience. Also ask for referrals and a business card after your interview and get some feedback from some places he/she has worked.

What makes a great bartender?

  1. Arrives an hour early to ready bar and dresses professionally.
  2. Has knowledge of all products, recipes, and can hold a good conversation.
  3. Prepares drinks using both hands with a defined style.
  4. Is aware of etiquette of drinks, drinking, and service.
  5. Everything in the bar has it's place, bartender knows where everything is.
  6. Moving items are always placed in easy reach.
  7. Keeps workspace clean of dirty glasses, turnover glass operation running smoothly.
  8. Prepares garnishments ahead of time with a good estimate on how much is needed.
  9. Makes drinks that take the longest to prepare first, quickest to prepare last.
  10. Understands the alcoholic mix needed for the bar.
  11. Is able to remember multiple orders in their head at one time.
  12. Is aware of mixing methods (blend, built, stir, meddle, shake, or layer).
  13. Knows how to change equipment rapidly.
  14. Keeps track of sales, receipts, tabs, deposits, and inventory.
  15. Supports and acts professionally with staff at all times.
  16. Keeps cool, empathetic, and courteous under pressure from patrons at all times.

If the place where you are holding your wedding allows you to bring in your own liquor for the wedding, do it. Reception facilities and catering companies charge a lot more than just for the alcoholic cost. You can save a lot of money if you pick up the alcohol yourself for the wedding from your local liquor store, just make sure you pick a high quality liquor store. The best liquor stores generally keep the store spotless and tend to feature different liquors in different parts of the store (beer aisle, wine aisle, hard liqueur aisle, etc.).  Usually a standard bar features whiskey (crown or jack), vodka, gin (mostly for martinis), rum, tequila (mostly for margaritas), and scotch. A good website that has a liquor guide for guest counts is

Some tidbits about liquor and bartenders. Plan on 1 bartender per 75 guests, for if the bar is more geared to beer and wine, 1 per 50 for a full liquor bar.  If you are working on a stretched budget, plan on 1 bartender per 125 guests if the bar is geared to beer and wine and 1 per 75 for a full liquor bar. Remember kegs are cheaper than bottles, but bottles offer more variety. Kegs should be considered once you have at least 80 drinking guests. But remember, unused bottles can be taken home, whereas keg juice is wasted. Figure 2-3 drinks per person. Also if the bartender is preparing the toast glasses, provide the bartender with the time of the toast and give him about ten minutes beforehand to ready the drinks.

Some couples don't drink alcohol and prefer to have no or very limited alcohol at their weddings. Many people though, expect alcohol at the wedding and are very disappointed if none is served. The best weddings always have an open bar. Some of your guests have the alcoholic craving, when they come to the wedding, they will leave early and seek alcohol elsewhere in a restaurant, bar or hotel, if it's not offered at the wedding. 

A good way to operate the bar, is have an open bar and have a cocktail hour before the reception, close the bar done during the formal reception and open the bar back for the wedding cake and dessert time and the dancing and entertainment part of the event. A cash bar should be avoided if at all possible, only if the couple is severely financially strapped, they strongly announce a cash bar and they have a lot of drinkers in the family that insist on it.

If the place you are having your wedding, offers wine, the wine is probably sold at a high price. Ask if you can bring your own wine, you can pick up cheap wine that tastes really good at a local liquor store, try to pick up both red and white wine and you save significant money, maybe even with better tasting wine than the venue has. Sangria is good too. A lot of weddings offer liqueur for the coffee, this adds a lot of expense. If the budget is there, the liqueur in the coffee is great but if you are pinching pennies forget the liqueurs with the coffee, espresso, lattes, and cappuccino.

If the budget is tight you can just offer bear and wine and contact a couple of your heavy drinkers and ask what drinks they like. Offer only three drinks from the bar and serve only those drinks at the reception. This allows substantials savings to your drink bill. If you decide on having a limited three drinks on the bar menu you could think of color scheming the drinks. If the color scheme is red you could serve three different types of red drinks one with a dark red rum, one with a candy apple red liquor, and maybe a bloody Mary. You could use a red dye and offer a whiskey and drop some dye in the drink. A red Killian beer could be offered too. You can color scheme your drinks to your wedding with almost any color, pink, violet, aqua, maroon, white, light blue, dark blue, green, yellow, gold, purple, orange, brown, or white. Just make sure the three drinks are of different liquors, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, scotch.

Don't forget drinks for the little ones, make drinks that look like alcoholic drinks, like grape juice, apple juice, orange juice, fruit punch, lemonade, iced tea, and maybe sprite with some dye. Don't forget the basic sodas like Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Root Beer, and have bottled water available too.  

Make sure you coordinate the liquor with your bartender, tell him/her your thoughts and he/she might offer their thoughts, coordinate ordering the liquor and the embellishments and ice and make sure he/she has all the glasses and bartender supplies that he/she needs. To make your wedding a success, make sure you find a great bartender, for some of your guests it's the most important thing at your wedding! See you on the other side!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Step 58 - Decide on a Fun Wedding Week Activity

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Add some excitement to your wedding week! As you gather with family and friends, being that's its the last hurrah with the old gang, organize an activity! It's the reunion of reunions, a fun time you will always remember for the rest of your life. Do something fun and exciting and oh yeah, take pictures, a thrilling activity of adventure you can add to the back of your wedding album.

The first option is an amusement park adventure, or to a water park or zoo. Many of these places even offer a wedding coordinator and you can get married their too. The latest roller coaster thrill ride is a must, you need thrill photos for the back of your wedding album. Most parks have a nice reception facility you can rent. With a big group make sure everyone can communicate with cell phones or walkie talkies. You should be able to get nice group discounts and you should provide a fun favor for those attending, include an admission ticket, map, itinerary sheet, t-shirt, disposable camera, a couple of wedding favors, maybe flip flops, bottle water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug spray.

The second option is a daredevil/camping option. See who of the old crew has nerves of steel and is not afraid of heights. You can go hot air ballooning (don't forget a grand landing at the wedding reception location!), skydiving, white water rafting, a wind tunnel adventure, or an all-terrain vehicle adventure. For those with a weaker heart you might choose canoeing or kayaking down a river, or hiking with a backpack and camping overnight in a tent, or you can rent a boat and do some fishing. (Remember, one must never force anyone into partaking in to an excitement driven activity).

Option number three is for the sports enthusiast, but you all have to root for the team you grew up with. Your wedding paraphernalia, your invitations, your favors, your decorations, and your groomsmen cake all show your team. Maybe it's football, maybe it's baseball, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, Nascar Racing or golf. Maybe it's the pro team, maybe the college team or even the high school team. You are there to honor the sport that always brought the group together and they better win this one last time or else. Many stadiums and arenas offer a private rental reception spaces, check if you can rent it out, make sure everybody's seats are all together and get group discount tickets.

Option number four is the winter wedding option. Think of a fun winter wedding activity everyone can enjoy. You can have a skating party or everyone skiing down the slopes, or snow boarding, cross country skiing, or snow mobiling. There are two requirements, you are either having fun or mingle down at the lodge drinking hot cocoa, cider, cappuccino or munching on some delicious hot hors d'oeuvres. Make sure you have a rental space for the evening's entertainment with a guitarist or a pianist or maybe have a karaoke competition. Could make it a fun dinner and poker night fun in the evening.

If you have grown up with the sophisticate crowd, option five might be off to do sophisticate stuff. Maybe it's off to see an art gallery in the morning, then it's off to a sophisticate lunch, then it's off to tour a museum, and stop by antique stores and later in the day taste testing at a winery or brewery. Don't forget to pick up sophisticated items for the wedding.

The sixth option is a fun evening out, the group can go to a dinner show, witness a murder, watch a pirate adventure, watch a medieval battle on horses, watch the last comic standing, or see acrobats or even have a good time at a circus. Maybe travel by party bus to keep everyone together.

The seventh option is a pool or beach party. Spend a lot of the day relaxing and reminiscing, and include some  organized activities on the side. Have an organized softball game, or pickup basketball, touch football, volleyball, croquet, or bocce ball, badminton, horseshoes, darts, lawn darts, or shuffleboard. Don't forget to serve pool party drinks and play with the IPad or read with a Kindle.

Another option is to organize a wedding carnival. A lot of the carnival activities utilize pictures of the wedding party. The bride and groom and other wedding party members can be featured on a number of the games. All the bridal party members are required to do a stint in the dunking tank, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the best man, the maid-of-honor, then the groom then the bride.

Other games could include coins on a dish (dishes have pictures of the groom and bride), garter throw onto champagne bottles, knock the milk bottles down with a bridal bouquet ball (pictures of bride and groom on milk bottles). You can include a wheel of fortune wheel with bridal party photos, offer a raffle and a jail with the proceeds going to the wedding couple's honeymoon fund.

At the carnival you can include a caricature artist, magicians, fortune tellers, have face painting, and colored sand art. You could even include a photo booth, don't forget to include all sorts of props outside of the booth for zany photos and have a picture of the bride and groom included. If you have a lot of kids there to you should get inflatable slides and bounces and you could even offer pony or carriages rides.

Carnivals require carnival foods. Don't forget the candied and caramel apples and the cotton candy, popcorn, corn dogs, nachos, funnel cakes, sausage sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, barbecued skewers and the conventional hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Include carnival drinks like Italian ices with all sorts of flavors, maybe have a slushie machine, ice cream cones, lemonade, iced tea, don't forget regular and diet soda, and always include bottled water. Lastly, don't forget the old time candies, like lollipops, twizzlers, pop rocks, candy buttons, jelly beans, neccos, gummy bears, red hots, sour apples, and candies that can take the sun. Stay away from candy that might melt in the sun like chocolates and caramel if the event is outdoors.

Lastly, you might get some of the crowd to join the couple on an activity geared to the wedding or the honeymoon. Maybe get a crew and take scuba diving lessons together so they can get out and scuba dive for the honeymoon, especially if it's a destination wedding. You can take dance lessons together or flower or decorating lessons together. The bride and bridesmaids can make their own flowers and decorate the wedding reception centerpieces themselves.

If their is some money in the budget, add a little adventure and excitement to the wedding week and have an adventure to remember, plan an activity for the wedding! See you on the other side!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Step 57 - Take Care of Honeymoon Requirements

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
In this modern age of traveling, there are many fascinating places to honeymoon, but there are things you must accomplish before you can enjoy some wonderful days of bliss.

First thing you must do before you are headed out of the country for your honeymoon is to be sure you have a passport. If you are applying for the very first time for your passport, you need to apply in person to either a Passport Agency, an Acceptance Facility, or U.S. Embassy or Consulate, if the passport is a renewal you can go to a County Seat office.

To apply for your passport you will need to show a Social Security Card, a notarized copy of your birth certificate, another form of identification (previous passport, a naturalized certificate, valid driver's license, current government or military identification), you should have a photocopy of all documents you are going to present front and back on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper. You also need a passport photo and pay an application fee (around $165). Passports tend to take 4 to 6 weeks to process but can take longer than that so you want to get your passport prepared in ample amount of time before your honeymoon.

If the passport does not arrive after the fourth week after you've applied for it, you can call to check on status, but definitely call after six weeks. You want to be sure to have it before your honeymoon and you might have to go in person again to expedite it. If you are using an old passport book, make sure you have a blank page for every country you plan on visiting. For a bride, you must travel in the exact name as stated on your passport. For most brides, they will have to travel in their maiden name due to the time in securing a passport in their new married name (which would have to occur after the wedding and filing of their marriage license). Always make sure the emergency contact page of your passport is filled out in the event an issue comes up while you are out of country such as a medical emergency, lost or stolen passport, or an issue with local authorities.

Once the plans are firm and have decided on a honeymoon location you want to set up an appointment with your doctor and share your travel plans with him/her. You will want to make sure all your immunization plans are up to date and get appropriate vaccinations. Your doctor or health care provider will determine what shots you will need depending on factors such as health, immunization history, areas of the country you plan to visit and what planned activities you have for your honeymoon. Check what medical immunization needs by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at .

You should have been vaccinated for influenza, chicken pox, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitus A, hepatitus B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, and malaria. General guidelines are you should stay away from drinking local water, stick to more bottle water. If you need to drink local water bring along iodine tablets, and portable water filters. Also bring sun block, sun glasses, antibacterial wipes, bring lightweight long sleeved shirts, long pants and hats and insect spray. If you should have a medical condition, find a health facility contact near where places you are staying at.

Before you leave on your honeymoon, you want to familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws. You also want to provide itinerary and passport data pages with an emergency contact, either a family member or friend. Get information from the U.S. website or call 1-888-407-4747 if calling from the U.S. or call 202-501-4444 if calling from overseas.

Some precautions you want to take when you travel overseas to avoid being a target for a crime. Do not wear conspicuous clothing, jewelry, or carry excessive money. Assure you have a sufficient credit line on any credit cards you plan to use, exceeding the credit card's credit limit can be construed as fraud in some countries. Keep a small flashlight with you as you travel. Carry a couple of door wedges and use them at your honeymoon room to keep intruders out.

You should create a folder of all the documents you will need for the wedding and honeymoon, keep in it your wedding license, passport, change of name, contacts for any credit card companies, contact information of your bank, contacts for any other companies you need to notify of your name change such as utility companies, flight information, important honeymoon or hotel contacts, recommended transportation companies, or pieces of information where you are staying. Also keep jewelry in your carry on, never let it leave your side, don't put jewelry in your suit case or an overhead compartment, always in your area of vision. Keep jewelry in a room safe or safety deposit box when in a hotel.

The exchange rate is determined by a number of factors including the country's government, the stock market, interest rates, inflation and general consumer interest and expectation. Basic supply and demand rules apply to the fluctuation. The more in demand a currency is by it's consumers, the higher it's value. You can exchange currency at banks, exchange bureaus, ATMs, and credit cards which are found at airports, hotels, and specialty stores. You tend to get the best deals using ATMs, followed by credit cards, then banks. Exchange bureaus charge high commissions but they tend to be conveniently located.

Traveler's Checks are still around but are considered dinosaurs, back before 1995, before ATMs came on the scene, many traveler's would convert much of their cash with traveler's checks. If you ever lost your money or was robbed, the traveler's checks could be replaced. Today, traveler's checks aren't widely used anymore, you need to find a bank if they are stolen. ATMs are widely available, just don't carry too much cash on your person.

When packing honeymoon luggage, do your laundry a few days early. If you are bringing finer clothing have them laundered, pressed and bagged at a dry cleaner. Start a packing list a week before the honeymoon. Think coordinating solids and wrinkle free clothing, versatile shoes, lighter colors for the sun, darking clothing for the cold. Avoid clothes you have never worn before. Stuff socks and underwear in shoes or purses. If you plan on buying things at your honeymoon location, think of placing a smaller bag inside a larger bag and pack the smaller bag.

Bring double duty items if you can, a hair dryer with a curling iron, an alarm clock with a radio, a calculator with a translation guide. Invest in a kindle instead of a book, these electronic gadgets have come a long way and you now can read stories from most of your top authors. Unfurl belts, wrap them on the inside of your suit case. Place your heavier items in the bottom of how you plan to carry the bag and the lighter items on top.

Put a little piece of his luggage in her luggage and some of her luggage into his luggage. This is done in the event one piece of luggage should become delayed or misplaced, at least you will have one change of clothes until the other luggage arrives. Often if luggage is misplaced, the airline will drop off the luggage at the hotel or place you are staying but may be the next morning after.

Always bring toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, and soap in your carry on bag. Double bag liquids, triple bag expensive alcoholic liquids, luggage people tend to heave luggage and you don't want Kahlua or any liquids soaking all your clothing in the luggage. Often you want souvenirs from your honeymoon. If you don't have room to transport your souvenirs, send the souvenirs back using UPS, Fed Ex, or many hotel and beach tourist store can also ship your souvenir back. You can also use the double luggage trick or better yet leave the old clothes behind for the maid, she might appreciate a nice present from the states.

So take any worry out, take care of honeymoon requirements early on and if any other family and friends are going share with them you what you know! See you on the other side!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Step 56 - Decide on a Chocolate Fountain for your Wedding

(4 Months to 6 Month before the Wedding)
A Waterfall of Cascading, Melted Chocolate is a dream come true for chocolate loving wedding guests. Large amounts of quality chocolate is heated into liquid form, mixed with oil and poured into the fountain to produce a waterfall of chocolate. Chocolate fountains make delicious treats out of dipped fruits, cookies, cake, marshmallow treats, marshmallows, and hundreds of other goodies.

Make sure you pick a good location preferably not too far away from the wedding cake. Make sure the chocolate fountain is situated away from exterior doors, air conditioning ducts, ice bars, and dance floors, you don't want the chocolate to be subject to cooling or get knocked into by a wedding partier. Even though it's tempting, never use a chocolate fountain outdoors, gusts of wind may spray the chocolate and if it should rain, chocolate and water don't mix well and there might be a tendency for the chocolate to seize. Bugs love the scent and go crazy too and will be attracted to the chocolate from far far away.

Chocolate fountains have become very popular in recent years for weddings. Chocolate fountain businesses can be found now in every city, caterers and even some bakeries rent them out too. They can be found also in kitchen supply stores, major department stores, and available off the internet. On wedding websites you might find them under wedding cakes, catering, or rental services. You can find them elsewhere in this blog under the sweets and treats categories.

The secret using using the chocolate fountain is picking the right brand of chocolate that has a high content of cocoa butter which should be between 32% and 39% and then by adding a little vegetable oil which thins the chocolate slightly. As soon as the chocolate fountain arrives, you should do a test run to make sure it's working properly, should there be any problems you will have time to contact the company and either get the fountain fixed or a replacement chocolate fountain in plenty of time before the wedding. Chocolate fountains are generally provided a week before the event so you can get comfortable with it's use.

You start the process by using a double boiler to melt your chocolate. You can also use a slow cooker or a crock pot. Set the cooker on low heat to approximately 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you to stir the chocolate often and remove from the heat once the chocolate has melted. The key is to completely melt the chocolate, but melt the chocolate  slowly.

You need to be sure the chocolate fountain is stationed on a level floor, and add five pounds of chocolate to fill the fountain and to keep the fountain full for best results. You should use 1/2 cup of oil for every five pounds of chocolate, stir the two together immediately after the chocolate has melted. The chocolate needs to be thin enough to cycle through the fountain without clumping. You cannot add oil to the chocolate once its poured into the fountain, so test it's consistency before placing it into the fountain. The chocolate in the fountain should be flowing full circle.

Chocolate fountains are not just chocolate anymore. Some fountains are made with white chocolate, dark chocolate, mint chocolate, caramel, and eggnog. Some companies have come out with all sorts of flavors called freeze flavor fountains. You can start with an ice cream or yogurt based cream and mix in a squirt of flavor and come up with a fountain of almost any flavor. You can match up your chocolate fountain with your color scheme of your wedding. You can have a chocolate fountain of strawberry, cherry, French vanilla, grape, blueberry, pina colada, orange, lemon, peanut butter, raspberry, or almost any flavor that ice cream or Italian ices are made.

The foods you can dunk into chocolate machines are very vast, guests are fascinated with them and are a great ice breaker. You can start with loads of fruits including strawberries, pineapples, bananas, coconuts, mango, guava, kiwi, watermelon, honey dew, cherries, apples, pears, almost any fruit you can think of. Other goodies include not crumbly cookies such as oreo and chocolate marshmallow, profiteroles, marshmallows, soft pretzels, rum and bourbon balls, cake and spongecake, marshmallow squares and cubed cheese. Don't dip crumbly types of goodies such as crumbly types of cookies and be careful of treats with nuts. One idea is to design a palm tree next to the chocolate fountain with toothpicks holding fruits to draw a crowd.

Chocolate fountains are even used for barbecue sauces, cheese sauces, and certain type of dressings such as ranch and thousand island to dunk pastry bite foods. Chocolate fountains tend to rent anywhere from $100 to $400 for the larger ones. It may be even worthwhile to buy a good one which can be used for many years of entertaining guests. See if you can get a relative that is big on entertainment pick one up and lend it to you for the wedding . Check on additional costs such as for shipping and returning, and if assemblage service is needed.

You should always have an host or hostess watching over the chocolate fountain to insure it's used properly, it's filled, and to clean up drippy spills. The attendees should wear an apron to protect from any accidental chocolate spills. Make sure there are plenty of paper towels. sponges, squeegees, and scooping spoons and make sure you have storage containers for leftovers. Use large plastic bags to transport the pieces of the chocolate fountain in order to drag the parts to a sink to clean. If the chocolate should harden, simply turn on the heating element to start to melt the chocolate.

Maybe they will have to rename the device someday soon, for chocolate fountains are not just for chocolate anymore. So if you can squeeze it in your budget, consider a chocolate fountain for your wedding! See you on the other side!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Step 55 - Consider Renting a Photo Booth for your Wedding

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Make your wedding a blast by renting a photo booth. You will have your guests laughing all night long, plus you will have some zany memories of your family and friends. The photo booths that you see at fairs, carnivals, and malls have started showing up at weddings in recent years and have become a big hit. Consider a photo booth if it fits into your wedding budget, be sure to do a little research and rent a good quality one.

The best photo booths tend to be ones with aluminum framing and are easy to cart around and have a privacy screen. Many photo booths generally rent between $700 - $2000 and a good one can be had for about $1200. You can either rent a photo booth from a photo booth company or from select wedding photographers. If the wedding photographer has photo booths they generally will advertise it somewhere in their website.

You definitely want to check out the equipment before booking the equipment to be sure you have a high quality photo booth. You need to be sure that your wedding reception, hotel, or venue has a strategic spot for the photo booth and the location okays the usage. For outdoor weddings, you can set up the photo booth up in a wedding tent or if the wedding is at an estate house the photo booth could be set up in an office, wide hall area, or in a garage.

Usually when you rent a photo booth, many photo booth companies give you 4 hours duration of taking photos with it. At wedding receptions, the photo booth may be in operation for two hours, then be idle during the formal part of the reception and then be back in operation for the final two hours. The recommended option is to have the photo booth operating for the cocktail hour, and then open it back up after the formal part of the reception after when your wedding guests have had a few drinks and let go of their inhibitions and you end up with some great zany photos. Some photo booth companies charge a lesser fee during idle time so you want to be fully understanding of the fee arrangements before you sign on the dotted line.

You want the photo booth to be in a visible location but not in the way of activities. The bride and groom should take a stint of getting photos that will act as an encouragement to others. A disc jockey, musicians, or the wedding emcee could sporadically promote the photo booth, encouraging wedding guests to get some snap shots. A good suggestion, is see if your wedding photographer can oversee the operation of the photo booth to prevent a few individuals from hogging the machine, making sure everyone enjoys some action.

Many of the photo booths have templates designed for the wedding couple, the photos might also include a photo of the wedding couple or include their names and the date of the wedding. Most photo booths are set up to take duplicate photos, one for the guest to take home as a favor and another for the wedding couple. The wedding couple may review all the photos and include photos they like and they can add the photos in back of their wedding photo album.

A great idea is to have a prop table outside next to the photo booth. The prop table is geared to encourage zany pictures. Some prop suggestions include bridal veils, tiaras, bridal bouquet, pearls, funny hats and glasses, a wizard's hat, cowboy hats, Indian headdress, flashy bow tie, scarves, headbands, fireman's hat, police officer's hat, construction helmet, Arab turban, gold medallions, Hawaiian leis, and a crown of flowers. Some more prop ideas include halos, angel wings, big lolly pop, large antique picture frame, Mardi gras mask and beads, fake mustache, top hat, lady's wig, chalkboard for a statement, viking helmet, clown hat and nose, Trojan helmet, large stuffed animal, chef's hat, apron, and whisk, mickey mouse ears, and whatever else you can think of. All should be encourage to get a photo, the young, middle aged, and the old.

Be sure young children aren't exposed to hanky panky. Some photo booth companies are set up so that photos could be downloaded to a couple's website and can arrange for additional photos if they are wanted. Photo booths, help make the wedding a memorial occasion, if you can afford it, go for it. See you on the other side!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Step 54 - Have a Food Tasting with your Caterer and Decide on Wedding Hors d'oeuvres

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Most wedding caterers will offer a taste testing session to help you in deciding which entrees are best to serve at your wedding. If it's a sit down dinner, most of the time you need to come up with three main dishes, you want to consider a delicious meal, with an elegant food presentation on how the food is displayed on the plate and you want to pick foods that will work within your budget. If you need to cut down on the budget, you can often opt for a buffet style dinner, or go with the less expensive entrees. You might consider going with very inexpensive hors d'oeuvres or no hors d'oeuvres or limit the hard liquor options.

When you attend the food tasting session with the caterer, the bride and groom should make the decision together, many caterers won't even charge the bride and groom for the food tasting session. You should make a fun time of it and invite a couple of extra guests along to the food tasting, could be the bride's parents, the groom's parents, the maid-of-honor, the best man and a buddy, sisters, brothers, or close friends. There may be a minimal charge for invited guests at the tasting, it could be something like $5, but for the delicacies your guests get to try, the fee is well worth the price.

Pace yourself at a food tasting, you want a good tasting of all the foods and you don't want to eat too fast, or else you will find yourself stuffed and not get a good taste on all the food options. If there is a bar with the caterer, you might include a bottle of wine to clean your palette between tastings or, if wine is allowed, bring your own wine. If wine is not available you should keep a glass or bottled water at the table and wet your lips after each sampling. Be sure to get feedback from all your guests, get constructive criticism on what meals are best.

At the end of the food sampling you want to identify three separate entrees, in three different food categories. One of the categories should always be vegetarian, as in a wedding guest list there is almost always a few vegetarians in the crowd. The foods choices might be beef, chicken, and pasta, or pork, seafood, and vegetarian, etc. When the food tasting is over, if at all possible to go back in the kitchen and pay compliments to the chef. Sometimes, if you leave a good impression, the chef may do some favors for you the day of your wedding, add some desserts for free or leave you with a little treat to take home.

If there is a favorite food that you like, that was not part of the food tasting, you may ask the caterer about the possibilities, could be something like prime rib, filet mignon, or veal marsala or a favorite meal you enjoy, very often a chef can accommodate your wishes. On the foods you are choosing, try to have the caterer show how the food will it be presented, for weddings food presentations are as important as the food being served.

As you are with the caterer, take note of the attentiveness of the wait staff. Pay attention on the front end (servers) as well as kitchen staff (chef) on how well they communicate with one another. Do things run smoothly, or in an unorganized manner. This tip is important if you plan to hire the caterer's wait staff. Get contacts and referrals from prior weddings of some previous brides and grooms and see if they were happy with the caterer, food presentation, and the food. Remember, when picking the wedding caterer, it's nice to get feedback, but the ultimate decision maker is the bride and groom.

Don't ever keep wedding guests waiting for food at wedding receptions, try to incorporate a cocktail - hors d'oeuvres happy hour before the formal wedding reception. Always provide seating for older weary guests. If you don't provide seating some of your older guests just may not have a good time and decide to leave early.

Keep the hors d'oeuvres varied and flowing! You may consider to have them butlered (passed) and in addition displayed on a buffet or reception table. The rule of thumb is to offer a set of hors d'oeuvres with every 4-5 people and expect each person to eat 6-8 hors d'oeuvres per hour. One hour of serving appetizers is good for most weddings that have a formal wedding dinner. Serve some cooler hors d'oeuvres (called canapes) in the summertime and a higher percentage of hot hors d'oeuvres in the wintertime. If the wedding is a formal affair, cut down on the amount of drippy hors d'oeuvres and sauces or risk some of the guests getting stains on their expensive dresses and tuxedos.

If you are having a an outdoor or an estate wedding. You can buy bulk hors d'oeuvres at discount stores such as Costco, BJs, Sams, and from gourmet food delivery businesses such as Horizon Foods. You also might find hors d'oeuvres that you can purchase from Catering Companies, Reception Facilities, Upscale Hotels that offer weddings, Upscale Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants, and some Wedding Bakeries and Delicatessens too.

Strike a balance of different types of hors d'oeuvres. Most hors d'oeuvres served at weddings should be unique and talked about, with foods you normally don't see at your home. You want to see a good variety of meats, cheeses, doughy foods, seafood, veggies, and fruits. You want to provide enough food to control guest's hunger pains before the formal wedding reception but not too many hors d'oeuvres, that stuffs all the guests for dinner. Don't leave food on bread or crackers out for more than a couple of hours or the foods may spoil. If friends or family is preparing the catered food, make sure there are enough preparations tools to go around. Purchase extra tools such as paring knives, melon ballers, meatball scoopers, cheese slicer, or measuring spoons. You can leave extra tools as wedding favors.

If there are hors d'oeuvres after the wedding, consider dropping the leftovers at a senior citizens complex, a convalescent home, or a soup kitchen and leave the disadvantaged with a rare treat. If you find any hors d'oeuvres takes a lot of time and effort to prepare, by family or friends, consider using easier recipes. Try to minimize the effort, by freezing hors d'oeuvre's that you can prepare beforehand, and just need to be popped in the oven at the wedding reception. Some hors d'oeuvres should be made into show pieces such as standing cocktails with a dish on a trumpet cups or delicacies of food on skewering sticks. Make sure all the wait staff are dressed appropriately for the wedding.

In recent years, cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding receptions are becoming more and more popular, especially in cases where the bride and groom are dealing with a very tight budget. Many venues frown on these type of wedding receptions because their margins are not as strong, much more money is made from a formal wedding reception. If you have a cocktail/hors d'oeuvre wedding reception, it is recommended you include a nice salad bar. Remember to include a wide assortment of salads and condiments, such as potato salad, macaroni salad, basic salad, uncommon soups, chips and dips such as avacado, salsa, vegetable, and spinach, and it's good to include tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, kiwi, strawberry, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, coconut, honey dew, and cantelope. Think about decorative fruit displays into some of the trays. Think of serving rarer cheeses and various sliced meats like pepperoni, prosciutti and salami.

Remember at any cocktail/hors d'oeuvres receptions think about including an open bar and think about including some soft music to entertain your guests. You might offer live music, such as a string quartet, flutist, pianist, harpist, or a guitarist. You may think about including a slide show of the couple growing up and some of their engagement photos at the cocktail part of the reception.

Your best cocktail/hors d'oeuvres wedding events are when the hors d'oeuvres become a talking point. Either the hors d'oeuvres offer an eye popping display, the guest has no idea what they had just eaten, or it will be a case of "Why didn't I think of that"?

100 hors d'oeuvre ideas are listed below to research in recipe books or off the internet!
  1. Asian Spring Rolls
  2. Asparagas and Prosciutti Bundles
  3. Avocado Appetizers and Ginkgo Nut Skewers
  4. Bacon Onion Appetizers
  5. Bacon Water Chestnut Wraps
  6. Baked Venison
  7. Barbecued Ribs
  8. Barbecued Swedish Meatballs
  9. Beef and Onion Turnovers
  10. Beef Wellington Appetizers
  11. Bloomin' Onion Petal with Chipotle Sauce
  12. Buffalo Wings
  13. California Baja Rolls
  14. Cheeseburger Sliders
  15. Cheese Puffs with Bacon
  16. Chicken and Bacon Shish Kebobs
  17. Chicken Quesidillas
  18. Chicken Satay Brochette with Peanut Sauce
  19. Chilean Sea Bass Wellington
  20. Chinese Won Tons with Plum Sauce
  21. Coconut Shrimp with Mango Chutney
  22. Cocktail Meatballs cooked in Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce
  23. Crab Josephines
  24. Crudite served in Shot Glasses
  25. Cuban Christo with Mustard and Chives
  26. Cucumber Appetizers with Herbed Cream Cheese
  27. Curried Chicken Tea Sandwiches
  28. Escargot in Mushroom Caps
  29. Fried Beer Raviolis
  30. Fruit Kabobs mixed with Seafood
  31. Greek Triangle Puffs
  32. Grilled Eggplant and Gorgonzola/Crostini
  33. Grilled Seafood Flautas Recipe
  34. Ham Stuffed Biscuits with Mustard
  35. Japanese Izakayo
  36. Jumbo Lump Carp Imperial in Bouchee
  37. Jumbo Prawns
  38. Lamb Skewers with Blackberry and Shalot Horseradish
  39. Lobster and Mango Cocktail
  40. Lobster Profiteroles
  41. Macaroni Lollipops
  42. Marinated Artichoke Hearts Venezia
  43. Meat Filled Calzones
  44. Mediterranean Meze
  45. Mini Beef Fajitas
  46. Mini Caviar Parfait
  47. Mini Cheddar and Green Onion Quiche
  48. Mini Lobster Rolls
  49. Mini Lox and Bagels
  50. Mini Monte Christo
  51. Mini Pancakes with Blueberries and Strawberries
  52. Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  53. Mini Reuben Sandwiches
  54. Miscarpone and Fig Bouchet
  55. Mozzarella Sticks
  56. Mushroom and Onion Turnovers
  57. Mushroom Caps with Stuffed Crab
  58. Oyster Rockefeller
  59. Pepperoni and Prosciutti and Mozarella on Crackers
  60. Pesto Coins with Cheese and Nuts
  61. Petite Cocktail Quiche
  62. Pigs in a Blanket with Potent Mustard Sauce
  63. Pinwheel Appetizers with Cream Cheese
  64. Pizza Bites
  65. Pot Stickers with a Sesame Sauce
  66. Quiche Lorraine
  67. Reuben Spring Rolls
  68. Roasted Pear and Bleu Cheese Filo
  69. Roasted Tomato and Olive Tarts
  70. Sausage and Apple Skewers
  71. Sausage Bundles with Meat Onion and Prattles
  72. Sea Scallops Wrapped In Bacon
  73. Sesame Chick with Spicy Apricot Sauce
  74. Shiitake and Portobello Mushrooms
  75. Shrimp Cocktail
  76. Shrimp Daviche
  77. Shrimp, Scallop and Lobster Kabob
  78. Shrimp Toast
  79. Skewered Chicken with Timbocca and Sage
  80. Skewered Pork Appetizers
  81. Skewered Tortellini with Parmesian Sauce
  82. Sliced and Toasted Bagulette
  83. Southwestern Egg Rolls
  84. Smoked Cheese and Pepperoni Cornucopia
  85. Smoked Salmon with Cognac Mayo/Crostini
  86. Spanakopitas
  87. Spanish, French, or American Tapas
  88. Spicy Buffalo Wings
  89. Spicy Marinated Flank Steak
  90. Spring Tarts
  91. Stuffed Deviled Eggs with Coconut Chutney or Caviar
  92. Stuffed Jalapeno Bites
  93. Stuffed Mushrooms with Crabmeat and Spicy Cream Cheese
  94. Summer Squash Tamales
  95. Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake
  96. Tamale Balls
  97. Teriyaki Ribbon Chicken or Beef on a Skewer
  98. Truffles
  99. Twiced Baked Potato Skins
  100. Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs

Make sure you review the catered list of foods and hors d'oeuvres before signing the contract, take note when final payments are due so the caterer can order the food. Also review if there are other supplies needed for the wedding, caterers sometimes have extra equipment, tables, and chairs. Make sure your wedding food is delicious, eye catching, and affordable! See you on the other side!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Step 53 - Interview and Book your Makeup Artist

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
You have got your wedding dress, all your wedding accessories, your hairdo and how it will be styled all figured out, and now to the final piece to make you a beautiful bride and that is the makeup and that means finding a fabulous makeup artist. You have three options for your wedding day makeup, do you hire a makeup artist, you apply your wedding day makeup yourself, or do you have a family member or friend apply the makeup.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, you will be the center of attention all day long from the moment you start walking up the aisle, when you are stating your wedding vows, getting photographs and videos taken of you all day long, greeting every guest in the receiving line, having many guests walking up and personally congratulating you, all tables will be focused on you at the reception, then there's the first dance, father and bride dance, and the throwing of the bouquet and not to mention the first private moments as husband and wife. You have got to look your best, the makeup job has got to make you look fabulous.

A professional makeup artist has had lots of training, understands what looks best with each person's facial features and skin tones and knows how to apply all the cosmetics to bring about your inner beauty. They also take into consideration, the design of your wedding dress and style of your hair and consider factors such as lighting and weather to give you a polished look on your special day.

As you begin your search for a makeup artist, look in wedding related websites, Bride and Glamor Magazines, Yellowpages, ask around at your hair salons, and for select cities, some makeup artists show elsewhere in this blog. Many makeup artists work double duty as a makeup artist, they may work as a hair stylist and work on the side doing makeup. They may work as an accountant, nurse, school bus driver, and work as a makeup artist on the side. They may know cosmetics some and do a pretty good job, but aren't experts, don't have the training to do makeup for a wedding day beauty.

Before you interview and meet up with a makeup artist, you should show the makeup artist, photos of makeup jobs that caught your attention and provide her/him a picture of the wedding dress, and the hairstyle you plan to wear on your wedding day. You also want to find a lot about the makeup artist. You want a makeup artist that has received a lot of training and has deep knowledge of makeup and knows what cosmetics work best with different facial features and skin tone. You also want to see pictures before and after visuals of makeup jobs on other brides they have performed themselves, before deciding to book with them.

A great makeup artist is hard to find. So many makeup artists work the profession part time, they just don't have the training and knowledge of what makeup should be applied to specific facial features and many lack the communication skills and miss creating the look the bride really wants. They have their own makeup application procedure style and applies makeup practically in the same manner to every lady he/she meets.

After you find yourself a good makeup artist, you need to discuss your wedding day makeup. Is your makeup artist going to do it, are you doing it yourself, or is somebody other going to apply your makeup? You need to work a game plan and you want to make a number of appointments. Your sessions with the makeup artists you want to have two goals. Learn your wedding day makeover and learn about applying everyday makeup that you will continue for the rest of your life. You want to learn about all the makeup tools and how to apply makeup properly.

Hopefully, your next steps involve experimentation and learning all about makeup along with the tools and techniques and discussing what applications you like and what looks good on you. Techniques you should apply with everyday makeup and what your wedding day application should be and gain your acceptance.

Finally after you have completed all the makeup steps, you want to replicate the process. You want the makeup artist to provide a written record of both processes including what products that should be used and how to apply the product. If possible you want to take a photo and video of each step and if a family member or friend is going to prepare your wedding day makeup, they should try to attend the replication session too. Whoever applies your wedding day makeup should have a couple of practice sessions applying makeup on you a few times before the big wedding day.

Purchase all the products long before your wedding day so you are sure to get your hands on everything you need. Look for places you can get makeup products at the best price, can you get what you want at local stores or can you order the product at the internet. Talk to your makeup artists about where you can find the product. You may find, your makeup artist also sells the product but you may be able to get it cheaper elsewhere. Good places to find makeup products are in department stores, beauty supply stores, beauty salons, drugstores, bath and body stores, and many online websites. You should also pick up a good sized cosmetics bag to hold cosmetics with each step of your makeup process and remember to include a mirror in your bag.

If the makeup artist is to do your wedding day makeup, book with her/him as soon as possible, you don't want to find your makeup artist booked with somebody else before you and can't do your wedding day. The best makeup artists get booked very early, so it's better to be safe and book them early.

Some Steps Makeup Artists Might Recommend:
  1. Remove Previous Makeup - Apply Cold Cream - Light Upward Strokes - Use a Clean Cotton Ball
  2. Cleanse the Skin - Apply a Mattafier or Oil Control Cotton - Dab a Pea-sized Amount of Gel - Press Using Fingertips
  3. Concealer - Used to Lesson Shadows Under the Eye - Conceal Imperfections in the Skin - Apply with Brush and Dab with Index Finger
  4. Foundation - Used to Even Out Skin Tone and Color Blemishes - Apply with Sponge or Foundation Brush
  5. Contouring or Shading - Used to Minimize Excess Features - Accentuate Small Features - Fan Brush with Taupe or Brown Tone Shadow or Powder
  6. Cheek Color or Brush - Defines Cheekbones - Use a Cheek or Lip Stain -Dab on Sparingly with Fingertips - Use Color of Choice with Bone Blush Brush
  7. Powder - Blend Makeup - Reduce Shine - Use Dome Powder Brush for Sheerer Coverage - Pat on with Puffs for heavier Coverage
  8. Highlighter - Pull Features Out - Give the Face a Glow - Apply Neutral Powder - Shirt Sketchy Lines with Highlighter Pencil
  9. Eyebrows - Picture Frames for Eyes - Use a Powder Brow Shadow - Use a Brow Brush with Short Sweeping Lines
  10. Eye Color or Eye Shadow - Used to Frame or Accent the Eyelid - Contrast Colors Make the Eye Color Pop - Use a Dome Creased Brush
  11. Eyeliner - Defines Shape and Sizes of the Eye - Pencils or Angle Brush with Eye Shadow
  12. Mascara - Adds Color, Length, and Emphasizes the Eyelashes - Curl with an Eyelash Curler - Pull the Wand Up and Through Lashes, Wiggle as You Go - Use Mascara Wand
  13. Lip Color - To Redefine Shape of the Lips - Use Lipstick or Lip Pencil
  14. Barrier Spray and Lip Sealer - Preserves the Makeup Application - Lipstick Looks Freshly Applied up to 8 Hours
  15. Primer - Smooths and Protects Surface of the Skin - Choose Clear/Tinted Matched to Skin Color - Helps Camouflage Skin Blemishes - Apply with Sponge

A lot of makeup application techniques can be found on "Youtube" videos available on the internet, learn not only the cosmetics used but learn visually how to apply the products on the face.

Some Good Online Makeup Companies Include:

Be the beautiful bride, learn how to apply your wedding day makeup and remember to interview and book your wedding day makeup artist early or have them show a family member or friend how to apply your wedding day makeup. See you on the other side!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Step 52 - Interview and Book your Wedding Hairdresser

(4 Months to 6 Months before your Wedding)
Being that your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life and you need to look your best. You not only need to focus on your dress but you need to focus on your hair too! As you are planning for your wedding, as you look at brides in their wedding dress in pictures, not only notice the dress they are wearing, but look at the bride's hairstyle in the photo also. You should come up with 2 to 4 hairstyles that you like, either cut out those photos and put them into a baggy in your wedding organizer/folder, or print them out, or photocopy them or take note on what website and where in the website did you see the hair style that you liked. When you imagine yourself at your wedding, do you see your hairstyle with the updo, down, half-updo, or the wedding veil look.

Finally, after you've got the wedding dress all picked out and ordered for the wedding, it's time to switch attention to your hair style. You may have your own hair stylist already, but would they be good for your wedding day hair. You should inquire about their experience without letting them on at first that you need someone to prepare your wedding day hair. If they show you pictures of wedding day hair they have set and you like the results then maybe consider booking them. You want to be sure to find a professional that is an expert of styling wedding day hair with the style you like.

If you have to find a wedding hair stylist, look in wedding related websites, put your city and "wedding hair stylist" or "wedding hair salons" into Google, look in beauty magazines, ask your friends, family, and your local beauty salons for a wedding hair stylist that is really good. Some wedding hair stylists for select cities are elsewhere in this blog. You can look in the Yellow Pages and maybe even stop and ask at a couple of salons and spas. You want to identify and interview a few different wedding hair stylists before deciding on one to choose and book.

When you find a good hair stylist, you want to find one that you are comfortable with, someone that is available for the date of your wedding, and offers a good price, and has a good background and some professional training. In your first meeting with the hair stylist you want to bring a photo of the style of wedding dress you will be wearing and show 2 to 4 photos of hair styles that have caught your attention. A good hair stylist will plan a couple of sessions trying out a few different looks with your hair. Some of the looks may be with some of your suggestions and the hair stylist might experiment with looks that he/she might suggest. It is a good idea to take photos of each of the looks and show them to family and friends and get their opinions of the look that is best. Make sure the photos are taken at a few different angles.

Ideally, the hair style that you choose should be a style that is easy to maintain and you need to consider weather in the decision making process too. If it's an outdoor wedding, or if there are plans for a lot of pictures out of doors, you  want to be sure your locks aren't roughed up by breezy weather. After you have settled on your wedding day hair, you want to recreate the wedding day hair process. You want a session of getting your wedding day hair, by the stylist taking notes to give to you, taking photos, and taking videos too. You want the whole process laid out, the hair preparation, the hair cutting, the curling, the teasing, the blow drying, etc.

If someone other than the hair stylist prepares your wedding day hair, you will have a guide on how to do your hair. If someone other than your stylist prepares your wedding day hair, they will have a copy of the procedure that the hair stylist put together and can create the look. They should still practice the procedure a few times before the wedding day.

Once you have come up with your wedding day look, you should discuss and create a timetable of getting your hair on a schedule so you will look your best on your wedding day. Your major haircut for your wedding day should take place about two weeks before your wedding. On your wedding day, most of the effort will be on teasing, trussing, styling, and adorning, with just a little focus on trimming the hair.

Leading up to the wedding, the bride should get regular manicures, pedicures, and finger nails filed to keep the hands looking young. You should moisturize your hands daily and don't use harsh conditioners for your hair. One week prior to the wedding, it's highly recommended to give your hair an herbal based conditioning treatment. The treatment will revitalize your hair leaving it vibrant, shiny, full of volume and luxuriously soft. Simply massage the product into the hair, cover with a plastic shower cap and sit under a dryer for a full hour. Two hours if there is no dryer available.

No dyes should be used on the hair two weeks prior to the wedding. Do not deep condition your hair or use hair cleansing products five days prior. Try not to wash your hair and don't dabble with your hair, the week proceeding the wedding. These recommendations allow your bridal stylist to work their magic and have you looking your best for your wedding day.

There is some protocol in regards to hair for the bridal party, similar to the wedding dress. The bride's hair should be elaborately prepared for the wedding, the maid-of-honor's hair should be nicely done too, but not to the same degree as the bride. All the rest of bridesmaids hair is done nicely but a little more subdued than the bride and maid-of-honor.

The question remains, how should the bridesmaids hair be prepared. Many brides would like the bridesmaids to have the hair of each of them done in the same style as the bride. If the bride has an updo, she may wish all the bridesmaids also wear an updo so the photography and videography of the wedding come out with a similar symmetry. If the bridesmaids agree to it fine, but should not be forced to wear their hair a certain way if they don't want. Another way to gain symmetry is to use a similar adornments for the hair. The bride should have a meeting with the bridesmaids to discuss the options of a hairstyle at least a month before the wedding.

That's a synopsis of interviewing and booking your wedding hairdresser, see you on the other side!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Step 51 - Meet with Wedding Officiant or Pre-Marriage Counselor

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Studies show that couples who learn proven relationship skills and increase their understanding of each other before marriage, have happier and stronger marriages that last. Overwhelmingly, 92% of married couples that have taken pre-marital counseling programs have stated that the program has helped their marriage.

Some religious institutions won't even marry you unless you go through a pre-marital program first. Those couples who aren't affiliated with a religious institution often seek out a pre-marriage counselor. One thing to be sure, just about every religion, officiant, and pre-wedding counselor have their own unique way of approaching marriage counseling.

Most pre-marriage counseling programs starts off in a discovery realm, they start out asking questions about the couple. The first session usually devoted to getting the couple to relax, explaining how the counseling process works, lay out a schedule for appointments for the upcoming month, and might ask some questions from the couple and also have them fill out a questionnaire on a broad range of topics.

Depending on the counselor and the religious institute, many average about 4 pre-marriage sessions with the couple, but some places offer more and some less. Usually after the first session, the couple will be given something to read and have a homework assignment and might even be asked to perform an interactive exercise with their mate. In some situations, the couple will be asked personal questions when their partner is not in the room. The sessions could be one on one or with a group of mixed couples or with a group of the same sex. The couple may even be asked to fill out personality questionnaire.

Many of the sessions might be a little uncomfortable for the couple as personal probing questions may get asked. A session might go like this. How did the two of you meet? How long have you known each other? How long have you been dating? Are you formally engaged? How and why did you decide to get married? When do you plan to get married? Where? By whom? Why do you want to get married? Why did you agree to pre-marriage counseling? Do you desire a Christian ceremony and a Christian wedding? To the best of your knowledge, what is a Christian marriage?

Continuing, how does your family and friends feel about your engagement? Have any expressed concerns? If so, what are they? Have either of you been married before? Have either of you been in love before? How many times? How long ago was the last time? What is there about your present relationship that makes it different from past relationships which did not last? Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your mate? What is it about your mate that attracted you? What potential problems do you anticipate in your marriage?

Some religious institutions will have a session that will dwell deeply into their religious convictions and faith. They may ask you many questions about your faith and how you view God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit or if they are of other faith their views of the Supreme Being. They might dwell into their Holy Book and discuss their spiritual relationships. They may discuss spiritual passages and your thoughts about specific readings. They may ask how often so you attend a House of Worship? How do they exercise your faith? Do they attend religious programs outside of the House of Worship service? Do they read the Holy Book? Do they talk religious matters with their mate? How do they plan to raise their children from a religious perspective?

The marriage counseling sessions usually dwelve into a whole range of topics such as their communication skills. How does the couple communicate? Do they argue? Were there arguments in their families growing up? Did they argue when you were young? How did they handle conflict resolution? How close did they feel to each other? How flexible were they in their relationship? How do they both get along in terms of personality? How do they plan to spend their free time together?

Continuing, do they want children? How do they handle children? How do they see themselves as parents? How are their family relations? How are their friendship relations? What are their expectations for their marriage? What are your roles so they see themselves in their marriage? They may get asked a lot of questions in situational circumstances, such as their buddies want the husband to play on their softball team and the wife doesn't want him to and wants him to devote time doing stuff with her, what does he do? The wife may eat lunch almost every with a guy from the office, now that they are married, your husband does not want you eating lunch with the guy any more, what does she do? They may go through hypothetical questions, the counseling session sets up discussing situations with each other and an understanding of each other's viewpoint and some recommendations of how to handle situations from the counselors perspective. Many insights are addressed that the couple would have never thought about discussing amongst themselves on their own.

Many other topics will be brought up during the pre-marriage counseling. Other discussions will probably include goal setting, preference in lifestyle, career plans, reviewing parental skills, how to manage money, many counselors will even discuss, how your budget for your wedding. Other topics include prior relationships, further probing into conflict resolution , conquering fears, handling prior relationships with family, prior relationships and relationships with friends after they're married, and discuss sexuality matters.

The counselor will go back and forth, getting you and your partner's stand on a wide range of topics, hearing how the couple stands on each topic and with the counselor offering advice. At the end of the session, each couple may even get a personalized report along with a pre-marriage counseling guide. The counselor may leave the couple either with a written guide or give a verbal presentation on how to communicate and handle situations in their marriage and instilling a mindset for their successful marriage.

If the counseling is a religious session, the officiant will work with the couple on their wedding ceremony. Some religious institutions have strict ceremonies while with others the couple is allowed a lot of input into the wedding ceremony. The officiant will lay out how he runs the wedding. He will discuss the format of the wedding and discuss parts of the wedding the couple can provide their ideas and input. He/she may brainstorm with the couple, a topic for the sermon, such as relationships, communications, or compromising or other topics.

Is the ceremony to be very restrictive religious, semi religious with a lot of input from the couple, covering two distinct religions, or secular, not particular to any religion? The officiant will review the content, style, and tone of the wedding. Does the couple want to give wedding vows, and what readers does the couple want for the wedding, the officiant may offer suggestions? Also, what music and what decorations would the couple like for their ceremony and put them in contact with the church secretary.

Often it's not the couple that opts for pre-marriage counseling, very often one of the parent's pushes their son or daughter to take it. Much of the time, when issues arise in a marriage, the couple has learned how to handle the issue and understands their partners stand, whereas without the pre-marital session, issues that come up in a marriage that the couple has a hard time resolving, they don't know the other's stand.

When couple's first meet and fall in love, they see no faults in their partner. After awhile, the faults start to come out, and each person needs to compromise on each other's faults. Pre-marriage counseling addresses how to best handle many of the issues that arise in a marriage and how to tackle many different situations. Consider signing up for pre-marriage counseling and learn how to make a strong marriage. See you on the other side!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Step 50 - Decide on Wedding Favors

(4 Months to 6 Months before the Wedding)
Wedding favors are small gifts given as a gesture of appreciation or gratitude to their guests from the bride and groom during a wedding ceremony or wedding reception. They should be well thought out using creativity and ingenuity as a memento from the grand occasion.Wedding favors, enhance the wedding reception look as they help decorate the reception tables matched to the color scheme and theme of the wedding.

The tradition of wedding favors dates back to the time of  European aristocrats and were known as bonbonnieres. A bonbonniere is a small trinket box made of crystal, porcelain, and/or precious stones. The contents of these precious boxes were sugar cubes or precious confections. As sugar gradually became more affordable and commonplace, bonbonneires were replaced with sugar coated almonds, and became known as confetti in the thirteenth century. Traditionally, five Jordan almonds are presented in a confection box or wrapped in elegant fabric representing fertility, longevity, wealth, health, and happiness.

Today's gifts to guests are commonly called wedding favors, as the tradition continues of sharing favors at weddings taking place in cultures worldwide. In the America wedding scene, presenting favors to the guests is part of the wedding planning process. Wedding favors are diverse and they are designed to help compliment the event and run the gamut of sweets and treats to little keepsakes as a reminder and memento of that special day.

There are hundreds of companies that offer wedding favors, many of these companies allow you to order wedding favors online over the internet and can assist you both in creating and decorating a beautiful favor that will enhance the beauty and look of your wedding reception. Gain ideas by looking at a number of wedding favor companies websites to see what wedding favors they have to offer. Brainstorm ideas with family and friends of what favors would work best with your budget, many items can even be engraved. To derive a per person favor amount just take the budgeted amount and divide that number by the guests you plan at having at the wedding.

When you are working up a figure, don't forget to take into consideration separate bridesmaid's and groomsmen gifts and you may need to consider wedding favor boxes, goody bags, decorative wrap, ribbons, yarn, string, or tags and deduct associated costs from your original budgeted figure. Wedding favors decorated using the wedding scheme of the wedding really leaves a lasting impression with each of your guests.

Here are a few tips if you decide to order wedding favors online. In recent years, hundreds of companies started offer wedding favors online, because of the amount of competition encountered you can very good bulk deals with a substantial savings for various favors. When you put "wedding favors" in a Google search, all the companies that you see are highly reputable companies else they would not be ranked so well. These companies have earned their ratings and are a very safe bet to order bulk favors from. Some wedding favor companies appear elsewhere in this blog.

Before you order online, check if there are any hidden costs, such as for packaging or delivery costs. You want to be sure there are no other hidden charges, before you order. It is recommended if a company shows no phone number on their website, avoid that company if possible, you want a customer service number in the event there are issues with an order such as, status on the shipment, you need more of the product, or if you have questions or problems with the order. Only use a company without a customer service phone number if that company has a very unique product and you are willing to take a risk. Check the Better Business Bureau or put the company name into Google to see if there are any scam complaints against them. Most online wedding companies though are pretty reputable, there are always a few bad apples that hurt any industry.

When you order online, make sure you order far in advance of the wedding. Identify what you are going to order fairly early in the wedding planning process, have the idea of what you are going to order early, but put the order in anytime after your guests have returned their RSVPs and up to two months (6 weeks at absolute minimum) before the wedding. This leaves enough time in advance should there be any shipping screw-ups, and time to prepare and wrap the favors.

Also with your online order, leave your proper email address. You want the company to be able to contact you if there are any issues, such as a shortage of product in inventory, or a delay in shipping, or slightly different color than the computer screen. If you are afraid to get on a spamming list, create a backup email address just for the wedding and give the company your backup email address. A big wedding is too important to worry about getting hit with spamming advertisement emails. Check the backup emails regularly during the wedding planning period, the backup email could be used for other wedding vendors too.

Although it's not possible in every case, you can sometimes negotiate further discounting favors even further than advertised when you buy in bulk. The company would rather sell you something with a low margin than lose you altogether to one of their competitors. Remember, you have the upper hand. Make sure you order favors that are good gifts, something the guest will keep as a keepsake, don't buy favors that easily break or can get lost as a knickknack. Bottom line, with wedding favors, don't order something because it's cheap, put a lot of thought and get a good wedding favor. Something, your guests will still have when you visit them five years down the road. Certain candies, treats, or mini wine bottles make great wedding favors too!

If you want to get crafty, you can create homemade wedding favors. You can create some type of scented candle holder or you make make a small birdhouse for each of your guests. Potted plants, greenery, or flowers can make a beautiful wedding reception table centerpiece and some lucky guests can take them home as a wedding favor. You can have a candy buffet at your wedding too, and with white sandwich bags guests can load up the goodies and help themselves from your candy buffet.

You can even engrave many of the wedding favor goodies too. Some messages can be engraved directly into the product or with favors in boxes or decorated bags you can print a text message on a strip of paper, along with a ribbon or you can put a message on a decorated tag or put a message on a card that goes with the favor.

Some customized text message ideas:

Your wedding date and new married name, along with a "Thank You".

"Your attendance means the world to us on our special day. Thank you for coming!".

"Thank you for sharing our special day!".

"Meant to be," with your wedding date and names.

"Thanks for being one of the folks!".

"There is no measure for the value of a true friend!".

"Live, laugh, love".

"A toast, here's wishing you a long and happy marriage!".

"Wedding day wishes, Fertility, Longevity, Wealth, Health, and Happiness!".

or Include lyrics of your favorite love song or inspirational quote.

Another idea, along with your wedding favors you could include Trivia Questions on some mini tags. Answers may be on back of the tag or in small print upside down or have the emcee rattle off the answers.

Trivia Questions examples:

          Where do we first meet?
          Where are we going on our honeymoon?
          How many children do we plan to have?
          What's our favorite movie?
          What date did we get engaged?
          How and where did he propose?
          What is our favorite restaurant?
          Where is her favorite place to shop?

The winner of the trivia contest can win a bottle of wine.

Or you can have a "Chinese Wedding Favor Auction". All the wedding favors need to be all different favors at each of the reception tables and all wrapped and are placed near the table reception centerpiece. All the guests at the table pick numbers from 1 to 8 if there are 8 seats. The numbers could be picked out of a hat or flower girl basket by each guest. An emcee runs the auction which could be the disc jockey or the best man. The emcee starts the auction off, tells all the tables at the reception tables, whoever has number 1 to pick any unwrapped favor and open it and shows it to the table.

It's now number 2's turn to go. Number 2 can either go and pick an unwrapped favor or steal number 1s favor if number 2 likes that favor. If number 1's favor is stolen he must choose and open another unwrapped favor. You are not allowed to take back a favor stolen from the last person who stole it.

It's now number 3's turn. Number 3 can either go and picked an unwrapped favor or can steal number 1s favor or steal number 2's favor. If Number 3 steals a favor from Number 1 or Number 2 that person's turn ensues and can steal a favor as long as it's not the favor just stolen or open an unwrapped favor. If the favor is stolen 3 times by a guest it's finally their favor to keep for good and announce it to the world and that favor is out of play.

The game gets interesting as Number 4 starts his play. They can go for an unwrapped favor or steal a favor form Number 1 or Number 2 or Number 3. Whose ever favor is stolen that player can steal another players favor or choose to open an unwrapped favor.

Play continues until all favors are picked by somebody. If a player is missing when it's their turn, another player can play for the missing players favor, for example a wife can play for the husband, if he is ordering a drink from the bar. This game is a great game at Christmas parties too and works well for up to around 50 people. This auction could be held at a house party after the wedding or held at a rehearsal dinner before the wedding too. This Chinese Wedding Favor Auction always is a hit and leads to a lot of fun and laughs. It's best when there are a couple of better gifts and a gag gift in each auction.

Wedding Idea Favors for the Wedding Ceremony or Reception

Personalized Playing Cards, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Personalized Mini Glass Jar, Lip Balm, Scented Candle and Candle Holder, Box of Chocolates, Unique Homemade Cookies, Engrave Bottle Opener, Designer Soap,  Asian Silk Hand Fans, Theme Name Tags, Luggage Tags, Champagne Flute Glasses, Photo Coasters, Personalized Picture Frames, Personalized Shot Glasses, Wedding Day Throwaway Cameras, Wedding Tin Mints, Decorated Measuring Spoons, Personalized Fortune Cookies, Heart Key Chain, Personalized Napkin Holders, Ceramic Coffee Mug, Engraved Candy Dish with Candies, and thousands of others.

Wedding Idea Favors for the Bridesmaids

Bridesmaid Tote Bag, Bridesmaid Duffel Bag, Bridesmaid Lunch Tote, Wedding Necklace and Earring Set, Personalized Bath Towel, Personalized Bath Robe, Personalized Beach Towel, Personalized Cosmetic bag loaded with Cosmetics, Toiletry Bag with Creams, Bath Oils, and Shower Gels, Engraved Wallet or Coin Purse, Pajamas or Nightgowns, Box of Rare Chocolates, Perfumes, Designer Boxes, Garden Kits, Figurines, IPhones, IPads, Blackberries, Kindle, Digital Camera, Digital Recorder, CDs with Original Music and gifts similar.

Wedding Idea Favors for the Groomsmen

Designer Cuff Links, Tux Tie, Designer Tie and Tie Clip, Men's Wallet or Money Clip, Pocket Watch, Engraved Flask, Engraved Lighters, Shaving Kits, Cologne and After Shave, Pocket Squares or Engraved Handkerchiefs, Manicure Sets, Pocket Knife, Pen Desk Set, Barbecue Tools, Bartender Supplies, Weekender Bag, Personalized Duffel Bag, Sports Stein or Mug, Wine or Liquor Gifts, Sporting Goods, Sports Shirt, Golf Supplies, Tennis Balls, Sports Shirt, IPhone, IPad, Blackberry, Kindle, CDs with Original Music and gifts similar.

Wedding Ideas for the Children at the Wedding

Coloring Books and Crayons, Storybooks, Blow Bubbles (Crayola has Colored Now), Non-messy Candies, Activity Books, Highlights Magazine, Jigsaw Puzzles, Playing Cards, Mini Stuffed Animals, Dolls, Paper Dolls, Card Games, Electronic Games, Stickers, Finger Puppets, Colored Pencil Set, Magic Tricks, Collector's Kit, Sporting Goods Ball, Jump Rope, Matchbox Cars, Kooz Ball, Art Supplies, Tube of Animals, Children's Music CD, and many others.

Presenting and decorating tour wedding reception with wedding favors just adds to a very special day and whenever guests see their wedding memento they will always think of you!

See you on the other side!