Thursday, September 29, 2011

25 Tips in Making your Wedding Related Website Better

In my travels, I have come across a lot of wedding related websites and time after time again, I see many websites not set up well, if the webmaster can make some changes to their website, many of these websites could generate a lot more money for their business. To create a great website requires a lot of work, the key is to keep evaluating your website and keep making improvements, try different things and see what works best. I am not a website expert, but I have looked at thousands and thousands of websites and learned some things and am now sharing many things I have learned.

Tip #1 See a Great Website, Make a Great Website
If you see a great website that you really love and the way it is setup would be in sync with your wedding related business, contact that business and let them know you really love their website. Ask if it's all possible for them to put you in contact with their website builder. If they say yes, make contact with the website builder and talk possibilities, they have a template already in place, can they set up a similar website for you. Try to get a discount, since the template to build it is already there. If you love your own website, you tend to put more effort in maintaining your website.

Tip #2 You Only Get One Chance with a Good First Impression
Visitor's of web pages form first impressions of web pages, very quickly formulating a website's "Visual Appeal" which color subsequent judgements of perceived credibility, usability, and ultimately influence purchasing decisions. When you create your website, you want the want the website to be fast loading, or you will lose some visitors at the start. Also the website should greet the visitor with a beautiful vision right as the web page loads. You should be greeted by either a beautiful template or scenery along with beautiful pictures of the front of the building, or a beautiful spot in the business, a pretty scene of an activity or a beautiful picture of a product related to the business.

Tip #3 Make Sure your Website is Easy to Navigate
You want to make sure your visitor experience is positive. You want the navigation of your website to be easy and consistent. You want the visitors to be able to find what whey came looking for. Use a search bar to direct a visitor to find a page of a topic they are looking for, use anchor text to direct visitors to other pages internal and external to other websites. Also use a sidebar to direct visitors to topics on other pages. Another idea is to create a post on blogs of an index page at the beginning of the month so visitors can find topics of what they are looking for a little more easier. Many web sites have great content, but web site visitors could just not find what the information they really wanted quickly. A well-constructed, easy to navigate, good content website will leave a positive experience with the visitor and will keep the visitor to keep coming back.

Tip #4 You just got to have Great Content
If you want your visitors to return, your website needs to have compelling, high quality, and educational content. Websites should influence, persuade, and compel. Your focus is on sales and marketing, using branding techniques, understanding shopping habits of your online visitors, do some storytelling, provide fiction and human psychology. Your website is all about providing power to influence people. Creating great content is all about doing some research and then turning around and educate people about products and what you have learned using your website and/or blog. Also remember to keep your language simple in providing great content more so in laymen's terms, so your audience will understand what you are offering.

Tip #5 Call to Action
Having an effective call to action is very essential part of any website. Every website should have an object whether it be having a visitor order your product filling out a contact form, sign up for your newsletter, or informing visitors why they should use your business. First you want to identify a problem, then offer up a solution which might be ordering a product from us or contact us to discuss the services we can provide. Sometimes you need incentives to influence people's decisions, this may include offering discounts, or providing a free gift. You also don't want to present too many varieties of options or your visitor will be less likely to purchase. Use active language "call, buy, register, subscribe, donate" and put limitations on what you say "offer expires May 1", "for a short time only", "order now to receive a free gift", "discounts for those who sign up early". Put your call to action to where it's visible on your website or blog. Show white space around your call to action using a different highlight color, show it big, show it on every page, and lastly don't ask for personal data about the person contacting you. A call to action outlines where you want your user to click to land on page to download, sign up for a form, or how to contact.

Tip #6 Use Strong Keywords in your Titling
A keyword is a word or phrase that describes the main contents of your webpage. If you want your web site to do well in search engine queries, you want your main keyword in your URL, your main title, in any description about the website, and early in the wording in the body of your website. You also should thing of including keywords in anchor test in the body of your website. Anchor text in essence, is clickable text (use "strong" and "bold" to lift anchor text and keywords) and is used to direct visitors to another page either internal in your website or to an external website. Keywords in strategic locations in your web site add strength to search engine rankings when evaluating keywords.

Tip #7 Use Link Exchanges
Each web site has a search engine exchange ranking, the order in which your website gets ranked depends on 100+ factors. Whenever a visitor inputs in a keyword into a search engine and hits return, all websites with that keyword is ranked and returns results in the order of all websites with that keyword. One of the factors that help websites gain a higher ranking is what is called link exchange. Other websites have your website URL on their website, and because they do this, you receive like a vote and search engines add some more ranking to your web site. There are numerous link exchanges companies out there that can help your web site to connect with other link exchanges. When you link exchange with other companies, make sure you link exchange with other companies in your niche or search might penalize you. Evaluate link exchange companies using . Link exchanges I am personally familiar with and has a relatively high alexa ranking are and But there are dozens of linking companies, some are free to join, but some that offer high page ranking exchanges require fees to join. By the way, websites have page ranks with newbie companies are at PR0 and the top traffic website companies have a page rank of P9. If you are linked with a high page rank website you get a lot more votes to rank your website higher. You can contact companies in your niche and link exchange with them to create more power, a warning however, some companies will only link exchange with other high page ranked websites, you may get turned down.

Tip #8 Reciprocal Link Exchange with other Wedding Related Websites
If you are a wedding related business, it's a great idea to link exchange with other businesses, I will put a link to your business and in return I ask you to put our link onto your website. In essence, each business is promoting each other and because you include each other's website URL, the search engine world is going to add power to each of your website rankings. There is also a chance a visitor might visit your web site and find another wedding vendor from your site. The key when you do link exchanges with other wedding vendors you link exchange with those companies that aren't directly competitors. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, link exchange with other businesses such as wedding musicians, wedding venues, dress shops, bakeries, etc. but don't link exchange with a wedding photographer unless you are close friends with them and would not mind losing a customer to them.

Tip #9 Post Comments on Niche Websites and Blogs
Another way to add rankings to your blog, is to visit other websites and blogs and if they allow commenting, leave a comment and leave behind your URL. If the website or blog enables commenting, you can pick up some ranking power just as link exchanges do. Search for niche websites and blogs and look for a place in the website that shows "add a comment". Generally first you want to find a post to read, after the post if comments are open you can leave a comment behind, in some you will see 4 fields "name", "email", "website", and "comments". In the name field, it's best to input your keyword from your webpage into the name field (I know some feel you should just input your name), the keyword I have heard generates a tad more power. Next input your your email address and your URL of the related post into the website field and in comments say something positive about the post you read. The key is to put two or three sentences of a positive thought. The website owner has authority to allow the comment through and if it should get through you have added a link pointing back to your website increasing your ranking. Some comments show a box instead of the 4 fields, fill the box the same way "name", "email", "website", and "comments". Note, some blogs have what are called "dofollow" "nofollow" rules, dofollow allows point values to pass to your website, but you may get a visitor from a "nofollow" blog, so leaving a comment behind may still fetch you some visitors, especially from high ranking websites.

Tip #10 Promote other Wedding Related Businesses that have no Websites
You will find many wedding related businesses that don't have their own website presence, they may have little money, are not tech savvy, their website got shut down for not paying their website bill, or have some other reason. Many wedding vendors would love for someone to promote their business from someone else's website. I've seen it happen a number of times, I saw a group of wedding officiants which had very little money, a disc jockey added the wedding officiants to his website and the officiants started to pick up a lot of business. Wedding musicians might benefit, wedding venues might benefit and the wedding related web site might benefit too. If someone is looking for the name of the officiant, musician, or venue, who's website might pop up and it may very well be yours. You might pick up a wedding vendor while looking for another wedding vendor plus you help these other visitors find a wedding vendor they need.

Tip #11 Promote Social Marketing Websites
Some visitors that find you might want to let some of their other friends know about you. You never just know it could be a bunch of brides in a bridal boot camp, or a bunch of brides that met at a bridal show or from a bridal registry. In the last few years social marketing websites keep popping up and now there are tools available to put buttons available around your website or blog. Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Digg, Youtube, Stumbleupon, Reddit,, Myspace, Google Bookmark, Google Buzz, Google Plus, and dozens of other social media websites. Many of your visitors have signed up with many of these Social Marketing Websites and sometimes one visitor could turn into many by a friend telling a friend who tells a friend just by hitting a button. One company that can is helpful in organizing Social Media websites is or your website might have a program that sets up social media buttons directly in your website.

Tip #12 Keep your Website Fresh
Search engines have a mechanism and adds ranking power for websites that often do updates. The more you update your website or blog, the more search engines will love your website. Your goal should be to continually provide keyword-based content on a regular basis. Look to add fresh material all the time and do research, which could be from your local library or from search queries, from article marketing and even from niche forums. By the way, you should submit your website by providing feeds, a popular feeding system is RSS (stands for really simple syndication). Information from your feeds that reach article sites or forums, may have peaked interest some to some of their readers and may come back and visit your website. You should try to update your website all the time, every day, at least 3 days a week if possible. Visitors will come back if there are changes going on all the time and may not return if your website is static. Lastly, whenever you make an update to your website, you should ping your website, I recommend . This pinging lets all the search engines know you have updated your website and to do a new search to update the search engines with the new material from the website. Don't ping too often, if you do multiple updates in a day, ping maybe every three hours. If you ping too often, a search engine may penalize your rankings.

Tip #13 Use Opt-Ins
One idea you can do is to use pop-up ads with opt-in forms, you can collect email addresses and promote compelling offers. This is a very powerful way to present your newsletter, discounts, or other free incentives. Every time you sell a product or service, capture your customer's email address. In your place of business, keep a bowl of business cards and if your customers leave a business card, encourage them to leave their business card behind by having a drawing at the end of the year and offer a neat prize such as a later technology such as a Kindle or a recent IPhone or if it's got to be cheap pick up some packets of Water Beads which make a beautiful decorative piece for weddings. Also from your website include surveys and polls to entice offers. Don't send regular advertisements out to your subscribers, not more than once a month, if you get someone who thinks you are spamming, you may find your website gone one day. Exceptions are if you send a weekly notice of the food special for the week or what group is playing this coming weekend.

Tip #14 Don't Assume Everyone Has State of the Art
You want your website to capture as many visitors as you can. Your website might be state of the art but your website might not load so quickly on much older computers. To keep your website running efficiently on many older computers you need to do some things to your website so some of your visitors don't run out of patience waiting for a web page to load. If the web page loads slowly you sometimes have lost a paying customer. First of all, if you use blogs, try not to put too many posts on a page, try to keep 3 posts or less on a page. Don't import too many pictures unless you are a photographer and even if you are a photographer try to keep the picture count down some or you will lose some visitors waiting for the photos to load. Also when you use pictures, don't show so many pictures and try to keep the sizes small, best to use jpegs for photos and gif for charts that use shading. Try not to upload too much music sampling snippets as the music also slows down the website efficiency. Stay away from bells, whistles, gadgets, blinking, and tacky things on your website as they all tend to slow the computer down. Keep your website professional. If you find yourself getting a lot of traffic, that's great but in order to handle the traffic you might need to look in getting your website on a larger server that's faster and has more memory. Also review your website occasionally and eliminate dead links.

Tools to help you Analyze your Website

Tip #15 Utilize Youtube and Photos in your Website
One of the highest ranked websites in the world is youtube. Using youtube in your website will help your website get a high ranking quickly, it adds significant ranking power to your website. Buy some equipment that will allow you to tape youtube videos and look at youtube videos on how to load youtube onto your computer. When you have events take youtube videos of the event and make sure the videos are good videos and while you are at it take a few photos too. Do videos, talking about what your business has to offer, have videos on do it yourself projects and have videos of people promoting your business. Also promote the videos to your audience that the videos and pictures from the event will be on your web page and check them out to see themselves at the event having fun. Some people might see themselves at an event and will tell others about it and they will check for themselves too, word may get around and you will have picked up more visitors too. And if you get so lucky, if your youtube audience reaches a certain level you may even make some money from youtube in addition. Lastly, update the youtube videos often, so they keep generating lots and lots of traffic plus increase your traffic rankings.

Tip #16 Make your Website Ledgible
When you set up your website page, be sure to keep the coloring a little neutral and try to not have your website too cluttery. Show plenty of white space. In your articles use black text on a white background, or white on black, or dark on light, or light on dark. Never use similar colors for test on background. Tired eyes might not read your text if they have to concentrate on viewing the reading. Also don't use too fancy a font and keep the font size ledgible. Sometimes website setup plays tricks on you, what you thought was ledgible, visitors sometimes have bad eye sight and sometimes can't make out your business phone number or email address and you might have just lost a customer. Also include your business phone number and an email address on each and every page and in each one with a different format, and if there is a specific person you want the visitor to talk to specify "ask to speak to" with the person's name on your webpage.

Tip #17 Consider Adding a Toolbar and Gadgets to your Website
You may think of of adding a toolbar, gadget, or game to your website. Using these items may enhance your visitor's experience when they visit you and some of these things can even become addicting and have your visitors coming back for more. Some platforms that help your create your own toolbar for your website are ,, and also there is . These platforms allow you to quickly design your own toolbar without having to learn difficult coding and these sites are free. You also might consider adding gadgets or games to your website. Some websites are built with gadgets or games and there are many places you can download gadgets or games, some are free and some require a fee to download them. Your website might get enhanced with a wedding related gadget with things such as makeup tips, design a cake or dress a bride. If you load a game, make sure you load a game that's geared to adults and not silly games for kids. You also could include a honeymoon setting for the day or National Geographic or Headlines.

Tip #18 Use Adwords to Find your Keywords
Often the keywords you want to talk about in your website or blog has a lot of competition. In order for the topic you are covering to show well, to get a lot of hits from search engines, you want to find an alternative keyword that will help your website to rank higher. in order to find an alternative keyword to promote your website or blog you want to perform a process called Adword research. Google has a nice tool that is free to used, just go to your browser and put in "google adwords keyword tool". This tool should be one of the first ones to pop up on the page. At the top of the page you will see places to input either a word, phrase, or website url of the keyword you want to find a replacement for. After you input a Captcha code you will see Search click it and a keyword table will result. On that table click where it says "Global Monthly Searches" by clicking this column your keywords will get ranked with most searches to least searches. You want to identify searches between 5,000 and 1,000,000. You want to narrow your alternative keywords by looking at the second column of the report showing Competition. You want to choose keywords to use in your website that have less than 50% competition mentioned in the range above. This Adword tool was originally created for PPC "Pay Per Click" but it has become a valuable tool for finding optimizing keywords. While mentioning Adwords, you also may look into placing adword ads on other websites, you may look at adword youtube videos to gain some ideas or call Google and get advice from them directly.

Tip #19 Change the Look of your Website Often
Ideally you don't want the same design of your website year after year. The repeat visitors will notice and will get so accustomed to the website that the website becomes dull and unattractive to the visitor's mind's eye. At least once a year you should change your website around a little, alter the format, add gadgets, take away gadgets that you feel aren't being used much, change the format of your website around. Add connections to the latest social media websites. Also check your competition too, see what they are doing to their website, you don't want to be surprised if they do something radical and check if you need to do something radical to keep up with them. Also update the website such as copyright dates as well as changes in phone numbers, email addresses or contact names and do you include any special wedding awards your business has received over the past year.

Tip #20 Consider Using Forms to Capture Queries from Wedding Couples
Another way to initiate contact is by creating a form on your website for a wedding couple to fill out. The form lays out preliminary information on the couple so you can gather a little information on the couple and respond back to them when your business is less busy. You might include in the forms, beside their name, address and email, and might ask questions like "The date of the wedding?" and "The amount of wedding guests you are expecting?" This gives your business a heads up whether the date would be available and can your facility handle the amount of guests. There are a number of websites that can help you build a form request. Some websites that help you build a form are , , , , , and you can also build a form using Google docs. How to build some of these forms can also be found on Youtube videos. I have come across many query forms from wedding reception websites, that show a form but offer no contact information along with the form. If you use the form also include a visible phone number and email address and contact person's name. Many businesses state they don't provide emails because it generates too much spam. If that's the case create a secondary email address and check this email address when you are less busy. By not including contact information, you are not making customer service information readily available and you may be throwing away potential customers.

Tip #21 Include your Biography and Picture
By putting a biography on your website, you help legitimize your business. Customers, when they see a face they feel more comfortable with purchasing a product or service off your website because now they identify you as a real person. You should include your picture, name, address, and if you don't mind your phone number and email address. You also might include a little background about yourself including your schooling and past work experiences and maybe even include some hobbies. If you don't like your current photo you may instead create a company logo or create a caricature of yourself, there are companies that take a picture and convert it to a like a cartoon character. Some visitors will get amused.

Tip #22 Use a Separate Webpage for Sales
Sales are the life-blood of any business. The best way to do this on your website is provide a link to a sales page and show an order form. Lot's of your visitor's won't read your entire sales page they just want to get down to business, they just want to know what you are offering, and how much does it cost. It's important at the point of ordering, you include every bit of essential information related to the offer; the product's name with a brief description, the free bonuses, the price, product guarantee, the assurance of a secure ordering procedure and a compelling reason to act right away.

Tip #23 Add a Map to your Location on your Website
It is important to make sure that your customers can find you. A map is especially important because it allows brides to see where you are located in respect to other wedding vendor locations. How far is the business from the church, how far from the florist, from the bakery and from the hotels where my wedding guests are staying? It allows them to find you to set up an appointment and they can also find the look of the place from Google Earth, does the place have the look that is acceptable for their wedding. You should consider putting wedding related businesses that are near your location, include churches, hotels, and other related businesses such as bakeries, florists, decorators, photo locations, photographers and other wedding businesses you can think of. Some places that can help you to create maps for free. There are dozens of map software packages you can use to build a map for your website. Some of the common ones webmasters use are; , , , and and you can create one using Google Maps. You can also see some videos on how to create maps right into your websites using Youtube.

Tip #24 Use Affiliate Programs
In this day an age you can advertise products of other businesses and sometimes you can make a lot of money when your visitors go from your website and see a banner or some type of ad and go onto to visit and end up buying products from these other websites, your website can get a commission for providing a referral. One of the more popular affiliate programs is "Adsense" which is a program that reads your website or blog and finds a product related to your niche topic and creates an advertisement. There are hundreds of other affiliate programs out there such as Clickbank, Amazon, and Share-a-Sale. You want to be sure to find an affiliate program from a reputable company where products are at a high enough level so you actually can make money but not too high in which your visitors can't afford them. The experts suggest you look for products in the $10 - $500 range and look for commissions greater than 20%. Make sure the payments are paid out at least once a month, (please note many of these companies require your commissions to exceed a $100 threshold and make payments to you generally through Paypal or send a check in you name to your location. Be sure the affiliate program has a tracking tool and an adequate customer support phone number.

One last note on affiliate advertising, studies show that ads that pop up as soon as someone visits a webpage aren't very effective. The best placement for ads is right after a discussion about a product or on the top of your right side bar and is visible on your webpage. Just to be greeted with an ad just turns people off. The size ads that tend to get the most clicks are your rectangle ads that are 336x280 and 300x250 and a banner ad 728x90 directly placed at the end of a talking discussion seem to work well. Little leaderboard ads that show about 5 lines of keywords that are 180x90 on your right side bar are effective too.

Tip #25 Provide References
There is an old adage, you are a stranger for the first few minutes of meeting someone, and that is true when visitors visit your website. Now if you add some references to your sight, your website has just become a lot more credible. You should try to find 3 or 4 references and try to get them to recommend your business to others. Have them include a couple of positive experiences and include what they have say in your website. Many website owners over the years are uncomfortable asking for references but they are great asset to comforting visitors in purchasing your services or products. Another note, your references should be from the last couple of years, no more than 2 years out. Also have one of your references available to be contacted by phone or email if a bride should request it.

So there we have it, 25 tips in making your wedding related website better. I hope some of my ideas are helpful, and just maybe by applying some of these strategies you are able to put some more money in your pocket.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Consider having a Destination Wedding

If you can afford it, a destination wedding is a fabulous way to start off your marriage. Many honeymoon resorts have facilities, a place to hold a wedding ceremony and a reception with a caterer, find you an officiant, and provide you with a wedding cake in addition.  Friends and relatives often would love to join you for a wedding at an exotic place, it's a vacation for them too.  Who comes though, depends on their affordability and you might help their chances of coming by finding affordable solutions for your guests.

A destination wedding is called by many other names, location wedding, elopement wedding, and weddingmoon (wedding plus honeymoon). You make the destination wedding any way you want it, it can be a simple ceremony between the two of you, a small ceremony at a romantic destination with close family and friends, or a large destination wedding shared with many enjoying a fabulous good time and a good excuse for a vacation with many family and friends that you know.

The location where you have your destination wedding, must fit your budget and style, will it be a tropical paradise, a hotel resort, a French chateau, an elaborate estate, on top of a ski slope, or a beautiful fall or spring wedding with beautiful scenery. Pick a place that you always dreamed of and be sure the place you pick can accommodate your wedding guests.

Find your wedding guests with have a great place to stay, help them find discounts, find a lower airfare, have multiple options, find a great place for those that can afford it and also find a cheaper nice place to stay for those who have to watch their money.  When making arrangements for a destination location make sure everyone books early for flights, as for many destination locations, there are limited flights to many spots and many flights often fill very early. It's a good idea to find a travel agent that will organize your wedding parties travel arrangements. Make sure the travel agent has expert knowledge of the destination wedding location. It would be great if many of your wedding guests can share the same flight and talk about old times and make new friends and if they bond together, they might find someone to do things with, at the destination.

Also find places of interest for them, pick up a travel guide for that location.  It is a good idea to fly down in advance and check out places to stay and locations and activities of interest and share that information with family and friends interested in attending. Create your personal brochure to send to your wedding guests, maybe get your hands on or create a map of the wedding destination. Inform your guest that they will be required to bring a passport, and if they don't have one, how can they get one, and let them know that the passport processing often takes a couple of months. Include important addresses and phone numbers in the brochure including local doctor, pharmacy, travel agency, rental car, as well as contacts for the places you recommend to stay, and for the ceremony and wedding reception locations. Also include a few restaurants to eat at during the week, find restaurants at different levels of the price spectrum, find fancy expensive, middle of the road, and very inexpensive restaurants.

Also you want to become aware of legal requirements for getting married at a destination.  Is there a residency requirement? are there marriage fees? do the documents need to be transcribed to the local language?, is there a public notice that must be posted? can you bring your own officiant? etc.  You need to consider how to handle wedding gifts, maybe leave instructions to leave them with family or a friend back home. You should gather and forward advice on how your guests can access money, at the destination location, can they use the almighty dollar, or do they need to convert money to the local currency. If so, where can they convert currency, is it by converting monies at a bank at the airport or local hotel, or can they use an ATM for conversion and where might you find ATMs at the airport, the place your guests are staying, and at the ceremony and reception locations

It's also a good idea to pack one outfit in each others luggage if one of the pieces of luggage were to become lost or stolen.  Make sure to keep cameras, jewelry, sunglasses, prescriptions, suntan lotion, bug spray, itinerary documents with you and always keep all these things in sight when you are traveling.  Make sure to take photos and a few videos of your destination wedding or you will deeply regret for not taking them sometime later.

Unless you are planning a destination wedding in Las Vegas, you will need to start researching and planning your wedding as early as possible. Unless you know the wedding destination well, it is advisable to work with a bridal consultant that is very familiar with the destination location. A bridal consultant that knows and has a relationship with many wedding vendors at the destination. Someone to help find you and take care of all your wedding needs such as finding you a caterer, wedding cake, decorator, florist, ceremony and reception location, photographer, videographer, dj's, and wedding musicians. Some of the more reputable destination wedding planners are listed below.

Destination Wedding Planner Websites

When traveling to your destination wedding location, always get there a few days in advance of the wedding to insure there are no problems with the paperwork and that the paperwork gets processed. Also you want to nail the details with all the wedding vendors and it's helpful to know them in person before the wedding. Getting there early helps the body recover from jet lag, so you can enjoy your wedding instead of being tired with jet lag fatigue. Many island locations allow weddings only from Monday through Friday, and many of these places recommend having your wedding either near sunrise or sunset, it's just too uncomfortably hot for your wedding guests to have the wedding when the sun is high, you don't want to fainting from the heat.

It's also a good idea to leave a gift basket or bag in each room for your arriving guests. Include suntan lotion, bug spray, bottled water, delicious munchies, and items that remind them of the area. You also want to leave them a map of the area and your brochure of things to do, places to see and restaurants to eat at both on the expensive side as well as the cheap side.

Be sure all agreements with all your wedding vendors are in writing before paying for anything, try to be sure your vendors have references and check the references out before booking. In some instances, you may be able to get drink tickets or bar beads and pay for a certain amount of drinks instead of an open bar. You also might want to work out drink check arrangements in the event you have a rehearsal dinner type of arrangement the night before the wedding.

The top American destination wedding location place is for Disney World in Orlando Florida, and it's also one of the more popular destination locations for weddings for the International jet set too. After Disney World the next top 10 preferred American destination locations is as follows.

Top Destination Wedding Locations for American Couples

1. Hawaii
2. New York City
3. San Francisco
4. Miami/South Beach
5. Las Vegas
6. New Orleans
7. Aspen, Colorado
8. Lake Tahoe
9. Martha's Vineyard
10. Napa Valley

Top Destination Wedding Locations for Americans to Foreign Countries

1. Paris, France
2. Rome, Italy
3. Venice, Italy
4. Bahamas
5. Florence, Italy
6. Sydney, Australia,
7. London, England
8. Tahiti
9. French Riviera
10. Fiji

Now if you are looking for a fabulous destination wedding resort to get married at, the following places, listed below are some of the most beautiful places to get married in the world. Check these locations out!

Destination Wedding Resort Location Websites

Example of Save The Date Memo for a Destination Wedding

Save the Date!  "Bride's Name" and "Groom's Name" are getting married on "Wedding Date" in "Country of Wedding Destination" at the "Wedding Destination Location".  Please let us know if you can celebrate with us or if you won't be able to (or if not just not sure yet!). "Email" or call us at "Phone Number". For travel arrangements contact "Travel Agent's Name", our Travel Agent at "Travel Agent's Phone Number".

Remember, you will need a Passport to Travel to this location. The flight to this location will book early, please let us know your RSVP by "Date of Commitment", we truly hope you can celebrate this wonderful occasion with us!

Some destination wedding locations require a religious ceremony and some do not. It is highly recommended to visit and check the destination wedding location, preferably in the season you are to be married, may be a year before your wedding. It is a significant financial commitment to ask someone to attend your wedding at a destination wedding, don't be offended if some of your guests say they can not attend. Another thing is to have patience in getting RSVPs back and give your wedding guests plenty of time to make their decision.

So if you want your wedding time to be extra special and you are able to pull the funding together for it, consider a destination wedding location to get married and it will be fabulous and a memorable occasion for both and your wedding guests.

See you on the other side!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things Wedding Couples Should Know when getting their First Home

For most wedding couples, their wedding is a magical time, full of excitement, enchantment and wonder, one of the common things that couples envision moving into a beautiful home that has a large eat in kitchen, home entertainment system, a beautiful bedroom, a dream home.

Unless you are very lucky, in all probability, your first home won't likely be a dream home. If it is, congratulations, you have accomplished more than most of us have not. For most couples, the dream home just does not happen right away, in reality it's a goal to shoot for and to get there you have to take things step by step and work together and discuss things and plan things and one day if you do things right you will eventually get to your dream home and you will have accomplished something special together.

Before embarking on your home search, there are basically six options to consider. Buy a new dream home, build a new home, buy a fixer upper, buy a nice townhouse or condominium, rent a home or apartment, or rent a room from a family or friends until you can afford a home of your own. For most wedding couples, buying a new dream home or building a new home isn't likely in your budget. If you can afford to buy a fixer upper or a townhouse or condominium, that tends to be a better option. Pick up a handyman's fix-it yourself guide for the home or find a local handy man and little by little do projects around the house. If you have to rent, then the goal is to start saving for your house, and likely it will have to be a fixer upper or townhouse as your next step. Will get into projects to do with fixer uppers, townhouses, or condominiums a little later in this post.

Unless you are so lucky and have a lot of money to buy a home. In all probability, you will need to find a mortgage lender, but even before that, you should run your credit. You are entitled to run a free credit report three times a year. You can get a free credit score at , , or . Your credit scores are tracked by three companies, details which are talked about back on step 97 on another post of this blog. If you or your spouse have issues with your credit, you should attempt to do things improve your credit score, either make contact with the credit companies and resolve some credit matters or find a credit specialist to help you on your behalf to fix some of your credit woes.

Once you have your credit under control, you need to meet with a mortgage lender. Some options you have available, meet with a mortgage broker, a mortgage banker, a commercial banker, a savings & loan, a credit union, a private individual that can lend you money, investor, stock brokerage firm, or a government first time buyer program. It's a good idea to shop around and meet with at least three mortgage lenders and try to come up with someone you feel you are comfortable with and can explain the mortgage world and can give you the best deal and term and rates.

In many situations, after you get married, your credit scores combining will have little effect on your credit score after which you get married. Matter of fact, the combining of credit scores with one score better than the other will help, your combined assets and earning power should allow you to get higher mortgage power. However, in some cases, if the credit scores are such as one person's credit score is outstanding and the other person's is really bad. It may be best for the person with the great score, get the house in their name before you're married and work on improving the score and get added as a co-owner at another point in time. Another point if you both have bad credit, you may be best to find a co-signer who the mortgage company will hold equally responsible if payments are defaulted. A mortgage lender should give you advice on the matter after evaluating your situation.

It's important to note, as couple are planning their wedding they will incur some debt and you want your debt manageable when preparing to buy a home. Couples with too much debt, may find a tough time qualifying for a home load and may face higher interest rates. You need to consult with a financial analyst or loan consultant to help determine where your debt level should be relative in order to determine the amount of a home loan you may qualify for.

In general there are five main factors that will go into the determination of what level of house you can afford. The five factors are credit score, your debt, your income level, available cash, and the term of the loan. Basically mortgage lenders require that a combination of your mortgage payment plus other monthly debt payments be less than a certain percentage of your income, typically the mortgage company is looks for the payments amount be no greater than 40 percent. If you have high revolving credit, this could substantially limit the size of the mortgage you can get.

Mortgage companies would like to see a down payment of 20% of the price of the home. However often they can work with you and have available in some cases, whereby you only have to put down 5% of the price of the home. The more cash you can bring to your closing on the house, the better terms, the lower the interest rate, the less money you are going to have to pay for your monthly mortgage.

Where to Find your Down Payment

Save your Tax Refund.
Borrow Money from Parent's or Other Relatives.
Sock away a Percentage of your Monthly Salary over Time.
Sell Stuff on EBay, your things, family things, friend's things, that is no longer wanted. (Work a split %).
Ask Seller for Help on Down Payment or Closing Costs.
Check Out Government Programs for First Time Buyers.
Take a Second Job Whereby all Monies are Applied to New Home.
Find a Better Paying Job.
Ask for a Raise.
Sell Assets, Previous House, Extra Car, or Other Assets.
Organize a Special 50/50 Party (Sporting Trip, Casino Night, Art Show, or Golf/Tennis Outing).
Tap Into Retirement or Savings.

The term of the loan is another factor in determining monthly payments. The terms offered usually will be at a fixed rate mortgage for 15, 30, or 40 year terms and are more ideal when interest rates are low. Using these factors, your mortgage person should be able to lay out your monthly payment amounts would be and determine how much of lending money you qualify for and the levels of payment for different levels of down payment.

When you finish your meeting with your mortgage person or bank letter, you should request a pre-approval letter with these amounts so you can use when bidding for a home. Sometimes be careful when using a pre-approval letter, if you are bidding on a home that is less than the amount in the pre-approval letter, you may not want to show this pre-approval letter to the seller, this may show the seller you can qualify for a more expensive home and may allow the seller to think you can afford a higher price, when you are negotiating an offer, the seller might come in with only a small counter offer.

Also to mention, there are other mortgage programs available, there are adjustable rate programs called (ARMs), these programs allow lower payments at the beginning of the mortgage and kick in at a higher rate at a later point in time. Rates in these programs adjust periodically, may be good in some situations, especially in the future when you expect a big increase in salary.

After you have your pre-approval letter from your lender, you now want to focus on finding a nice home. The next step is identifying a place to live. You might want to consult with an area that may interest you, ask around with people you may know from the neighborhood. Talk to the Chamber of Commerce, check out the schools and crime rates in areas of interest. Finally, once you know of a community that peaks your interest find a good Realtor in the area to talk to. Be careful though of mom and pop realtors.

Once you have found a good Realtor, stop in first and talk to the broker, ask for three of the top agents with whom you can interview, choose one of the the agents you feel you most comfortable with and connect with. Ask about their experience, how they operate, ask what there strategy is when putting in an offer, and ask if they will do a CMA on a house you are interested in after you target a home to put a bid in. Once you have chosen a Realtor to search a home with, ask if they can come up with about six or seven homes to look at and give them the criteria you are looking for, home price, the areas you are interested in, the size of the home and the rooms you need for the home, often for newlyweds this may be 2 or 3 bedrooms, is a garage important.

Plan to spend much of a day looking at homes, when you are done, you want a chance to talk things over with your spouse, as the home you choose to bid on needs to be a win-win agreed by both of you. Make sure if you can, the both of you goes on the appointment and afterward you can come to an agreement, talk privately with each other before making a decision, a Realtor may offer his/her opinion which is fine and good but the decision should be decided upon the couple and you have heard thoughts from the Realtor, your decision should be your decision and you should not let the Realtor over influence your decision.

The next step is do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) on the house you are thinking of bidding for. With a CMA you are looking at houses that are similar to the house you want to put a bid in. This includes Active Listings, Pending Listings, Sold Listings, and Expired Listings. You want to do a comparison on from 6 to 12 properties against your targeted house. The CMA is used to give you an idea of what the price of the house should be worth. The CMA should lay out your targeted house you plan on bidding for, against other houses similar. When you do a CMA focus most on recently Sold Listings.

Adjustments you need to account for when doing a CMA from your house to comparative houses. If you find a good Realtor, the Realtor should know what adjustments should be made for comparative analysis. For example an extra bedroom might be worth $5,000 more in the area and neighborhood your in. You should make adjustments from the targeted house you are bidding for against these comparable variables. Adjustment factors will be different for different areas and neighborhoods in the country. Your Realtor should
find a table in the area or find from another Realtor what each of the adjustment factors should be.

Comparative Market Analysis Adjustment Factors

Adjustments for Square Footage
Age of Construction
Amenities (e.g., Swimming Pools, Landscaped Yard, etc.)
Upgrades (e.g., Newer Kitchen, Newer Bathrooms, Newer Roof, etc.)
Number of Bedrooms
Number of Bathrooms
Number of Living Space Rooms
Number of Garage Units or No Garage
Finished Basement
Lot Size

If your property is pretty much the same, there should be no adjustment, you should go down the list and include the puts and takes against your property which should give you an idea of what value of the property tells you what your property should be worth. Also if it's possible, take a look at some of the homes in person of some homes in the CMA before you make your bid.

Say your property you are interested in is listed at $470,000. Your CMA from a few different properties compared against your house comes out to about $435,000.  The goal is to try to get the house at $435,000. When you start the bidding to get to your target you want to split the difference, the $435,000 is your mid point meaning your opening bid should be about $400,000. Also work and talk things over with the Realtor with the splitting the difference strategy. I myself was a Realtor at one point and found that the split the difference worked really well. You make an offer, the seller counters and you counter back. More often than not, the split the difference strategy worked.

As mentioned before, you should have a pre-approval letter when you submit your first bid on a house. If the pre-approval is significantly higher, you will want to contact your mortgage person and see if he can send you a pre-approval letter with a lower amount in line with the amount you want to offer on the house. You don't want the seller know you have a little buying power when you are in the offer counter-offer process. Most closings will take around a month, it can take a few months in some cases such as when the sellers need to find a new home for themselves or their new home is being built and is contingent on their home being ready. Also the mortgage application process sometimes takes longer.

Once you have a deal, contact who you are going to get your mortgage from and meet with them to finalize all the paper work. Also find yourself a closing lawyer, one who is highly experienced with Realtors and has a lot of experience in Real Estate deals. Many lawyers who are not Real Estate lawyers, put you on their back burner and focus on legal matters, don't get the paperwork you need done efficiently, and they make lame excuses to keep them out of trouble. If you don't know a realty lawyer yourself, ask the realty office for the names of three good real estate lawyers they recommend, interview each of them and use the one you feel you are most comfortable with.

If after you have gone home shopping looking at 6 or 7 houses in a day, if you don't see a home you look, don't feel pressured by your real estate agent, that you have got to pick one today. Tomorrow and the next day, can be another day of looking. Real Estate buying is a major decision, the house you pick is going to be a part of your life for at least a few years and even possibly many years in your young lives. It's important that you make a decision you are going to be happy with. Stick with the Realtor though, unless you are not happy with their services, they have sacrificed their time and effort and expertise, trying to find you a house and they more than likely get paid a commission only for their efforts if they find you a home. Only after a few attempts, and you don't find a house, try things out with another Realtor.

After you have reached an agreement on buying a home, you should get a home inspection and also want to get an independent reputable company. The home inspection company checks the home on behalf of you to insure the home is in good condition and that their are no problems. Make sure when the home inspection is performed on the house you plan to buy, you want to get shown and told about potential problems and how to operate and how to clean specific items in the home. The home inspection typically takes about three hours to complete and many home inspection companies afterward, offer a detailed report of the home inspection which is like a service guide to your home.

A home inspection usually is very detailed report all about the home. It generally includes a review of structural elements, exterior evaluation, roof and attic, plumbing systems and components, electrical, appliances, and garage. Some home inspection companies may not be licensed to handle certain inspections in the home and an independent contractor may be needed. An independent inspection may be needed for asbestos, radon testing, termites, mold, pest control, and lead. If any problems should arise from the home inspection, you should review the home inspection report with your lawyer. Your lawyer and you then should decide whether to ask for a credit to fix a problem or have a contractor come in. Be sure both you and the seller are comfortable with the contractor to fix the problem, some contractors are notorious for inflating the price of service.

Another service you should order is an appraisal on the home. An appraisal is very similar to a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) is the home really worth what the market says it's worth. Appraisals are often ordered for a Mortgage Company that is processing your loan or you can ask for one independently. Sometimes price adjustments on the price of a home is brought about from the appraisal, though this does not happen often. The loan may not get granted, unless there is a price adjustment based on the appraisal.

Also, a day or two before the closing when you sign the papers for the house. You should perform a walk through to insure nothing has changed on the original condition of the house since you put the offer in and no other problems has arisen from the original offer and the house was left in good condition, be sure a mess is not left behind, many things are not left in the house when the occupants moved out. Generally you perform a walk through with your Realtor, for many a walk through is exciting, as you see the house as your house and in another day or two when the house finally becomes your home.

At the day of closing, you can expect an hour and a half of signing papers. You may sign your autograph to over 100 pages of documents, your wrist may even get sore after signing all those documents. Some buyers read everything before signing and some buyers just sign papers to get things over with. Don't go crazy trying to read everything, just read in details things that are very important.

As was said in the beginning of this post. Most of the time, the houses you buy are fixer uppers and is not your dream house. Over time you want to fix up fixer uppers so when the time to upgrade comes, you will have an easier time to sell the house. You want to get your floors looking great. If you have a dirty carpet, rent a steam machine and get out the stains. If the carpet is old replace it with neutral pastel color carpet, get a medium grade carpet, don't get a cheap carpet that wears and stains easily. If you have hardwood floors, sand, stain, buff, and polish them. If you have vinyl floors that don't look good, get stick on squares, Pergo floors, cork replacement or replace with less expensive floor tiles.

Paint your house if it needs a paint job. If this is not your dream house, you want to paint the house inside and out and you always want to paint your house in neutral colors. Stay with neutral until you get to your dream house when you plan to move no more. Don't go crazy painting, maybe have a house project once a quarter.
It may be painting, getting rid of clutter in the garage, putting up an organizing tool shelf, or replacing shelving or changing lighting. Talk things over with your spouse and plan a day once a quarter where the two of you devote one day a quarter sprucing up the house.

If it comes to a time when you just bought the house or are planning to sell and the house has a lot of rooms that need painting, you may consider a house painting party, have family and friends over for a day of painting and you just have to make sure you have enough paint, paint buckets, and paint brushes and protective covering and paint thinner. After awhile make sure you supply the pizza or Chinese food to thank the gang for their help. Beware, though even some friends who are excited to help you out, they may not be so careful and leave drops of paint decorations or paint footprints on the floor.

Don't forget all the other project for the house too, focus on the front door, it's what people notice most. Either give it a beautiful paint job or replace it with a beautiful door. You may also need to upgrade appliances, change knobs and railings, replace toilets and fix leaky faucets, replace windows and molding. Give your house a dress-up. The day you put your fixer upper on the market, you want everything to look well. Keep shower walls patched up and clean, have your bathroom looking good, with the color decor in the bathroom near the same as you would in a color schemed wedding. You should work over time have a nice looking towel bar, everything looks in place and the room has good lighting and not so much clutter, everything including soap dishes, body cream, shower gel, bath towels, toilet paper holder, toothbrush holder, and a decorative candle makes the space look cute.

As for your bedroom, you want a comforter that makes the room look absolutely beautiful. You want matching window treatments and nice looking dresser drawers. Get your closets organized, that looks beautiful when you open them, with neat closet hangers, have shoe racks and a neat looking hamper for dirty clothes. Maybe a nice painting for a focal point. One day when you have a seller, you want them to think that this room looks nice and has a feeling I'm home.

Even around the house, make your kitchen a show piece, with a particular color scheme. Do the cabinets show well and does the kitchen have a nice counter top. Create pretty shelves to hang your bigger pots and pans if you have room, create a beautiful space for appliances you would like to use such as your microwave, coffee make, toaster oven, blenders, and can openers. Even in some homes that have a kitchen you might include a sofa couch where as one is cooking another can sit comfortably and talk. The key in your kitchen is organization, have neat shelving and make every spot a beautiful spot. Also beautify your dining area, if you have beautiful dishes have a show case for your beautiful dishes and when you have company have a beautiful service table to display foods. The keys is for both your kitchen is for everything to look nice and organized and have no areas that look like clutter.

Set your living spaces so your couches and chairs are comfortable and inviting for talking and a space for entertainment area to watch television and if you have a home office try to keep that space organized too, you want to get in a good habit of not creating cluttered areas. Get yourself some baskets to keep your newspapers and magazines organized and a basket for breads and if your cabinet is overloaded a place in your garage and organizers in your garage too. Don't forget even keeping your finished basement neat and organized.

Create a nice seating area on your porch or your backyard. Create an open area for entertaining for backyard barbecues and for fun and games. Create a yard hobby with a flower garden, potted plants, a bird feeder, a birdhouse and a wildlife refuge, a vegetable garden or even display a water feature.

In essence you want to little by little work on projects for your fixer upper, so before you know it you are looking to upgrade and it may take buying a couple of fixer uppers until you reach the goal of your dream home. Get into good habits of keeping your home nice so when the time comes to sell, the person sees your home as desirable and your house becomes an easy sell and the efforts you have made in upgrading your fixer upper will have paid off. Before you know it you will be in the home of your dreams and by then too you will have a family too to share a home of your dreams with! Don't forget to work on your fixer upper and your dream home together with your spouse.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Host and Organize a Bridal Rally

If you are a wedding planner, wedding venue, or a wedding vendor and you are looking to drum up some wedding business you might think of hosting and organizing a "bridal rally". A bridal rally is similar to a bridal show or bridal expo but instead of going to a hotel or a bridal venue with a lot of wedding venders the bridal rally is a day you travel to and visit with wedding vendors at their place of business.

The bridal rally starts out with a bunch of engaged couples or engaged brides with their bridesmaids, meeting at a location where the bridal rally ends with a place to park their car for the day and a place to meet afterward which may be a wedding reception location. All couples or bride teams are encouraged to bring their digital cameras to take pictures of wedding venues and having fun with some new found friends that are also getting married. The day starts out fairly early in the morning where you may greeted by some entertainment, maybe a string quartet playing some wedding music.

Usually the host, will hand out a schedule for the day of all the places and approximate times the engaged couples and bride teams are expected to be at each wedding venue or wedding vendor location. After receiving marching orders and some advertising material in a wedding tote all the couples and teams hop on a party bus, trolley bus, party boat, or bus to take the wedding groups on their way. Before getting on the party bus, a limousine company might have on hand some wedding limousines to check out.

After everyone gets on the party bus or whatever vehicle is provided, the bus sets out on a journey to visit a bunch of wedding locations. The goal is to have a day of fun and learning about weddings and meeting wedding vendors, and enjoy some food sampling and drinking beverages along the way. The day will be spent on pit stops to see all sorts of wedding vendors. You may stop and see a bed & breakfast, a fancy hotel that hosts weddings, a wedding church chapel, a fabulous ceremony site, a wedding decorating company, a florist that does weddings, a bridal registry, a beautiful photo shoot spot, a beauty salon geared to weddings, a makeup artist studio, a calligraphy studio, a jeweler, a wedding favors gift shop, a rental store with a wedding tent setup, a bridal salon, a bakery that makes wedding cakes, a travel bureau agent, a chocolate factory, a winery, rehearsal dinner site, and caterer.

At each location the wedding vendor will have about 10 to 15 minutes to talk about their business. In some locations such as the caterer or the rehearsal dinner site, or wedding reception location, the wedding groups may be offered a food tasting with some entrees, hors d'ouevres, and special desserts along with pricing brochures. The wedding couples and bride groups may also get offered a cake tasting when they visit the wedding cake baker. At each location, the guests are given a tour of  the venue or receive a brochure or in some cases be shown a slideshow about the business or decorating possibilities.

As the day proceeds with the bridal rally, joining the wedding couples or bride teams on the party bus are some wedding vendors that are alomg for the ride to help organize the day and spend some time taking  pictures or videos of the couple in the hopes of picking up some wedding business. On the bus, beside the bridal rally host which may be a wedding planner, you also might find wedding photographers, wedding videographers, officiants, or other wedding vendor volunteers offering their help for the day. The wedding vendors that travel on the bus may get a chance to talk about their services somewhere along the trip, maybe at a photo shoot location, or may offer to take an engagement photo of the couple at their studio. Also they may take photos and videos of the day to put on different wedding websites as a promotion.

Also at some point in the day, there may be a man cave promotion part. The party bus or trolley may drop the men off at a man cave which may be a sports bar or rehearsal dinner spot. The party bus continues on with the girly part of the day that's more geared to the ladies for which the guys would be bored at. This might include stopping at locations while the girls go to a bridal salon, a beauty parlor, and stop by a makeup studio. These places, guys would be bored at, at places to learn how to pretty up for the wedding. While the girls are doing the girly things, the guys might attend a beer tasting, be presented with a plate or hors d'oeuvres watch sports on television, learn how to play casino games, or partake in some competitions maybe volleyball, pool or darts.

After the ladies do their thing, the couples come back together (make sure pictures are taken with what is the rule at a bridal rally, when couples come back together they are required to practice kissing). Usually later in the day at bridal rally stops, you stop at places where some things can be picked up for the wedding, so you don't have to cart so much around baggage. Stops later in the day may include wineries, estate mansions, bridal registries, gift shops, calligraphy businesses, rental stores, or a place to order wedding favors. Usually to get a nice full day of pit stop at wedding vendor locations, the day may start at 9:00 a.m. and get back to the wedding reception place at around 7:00 p.m. The day of the week to hold the bridal rally is at your discretion. Saturdays are days when couples tend to be more free, but Saturdays are also the busiest day of the week for weddings and may not be a good for some wedding vendors. Get feedback from wedding vendors to find which day is best for them.

Upon your return when the party bus arrives back at the wedding reception. The wedding couples and the bride groups may be greeted by some more wedding vendors. You might include another food tasting and you might want to allow some additional vendors, let a disc jockey play a sampling of his or her music. The wedding coordinator for the wedding reception business, might give a tour of the premises. She may also show you pictures from other weddings. You might allow various musicians demonstrate their talents playing their instruments, a pianist, a violinist, a harpist, a vocalist, a duet, a brass group, or a video of a music band. You also might include other things you have at weddings, maybe a photo booth, a group that creates ice sculptures, a group that makes candy buffets or a coffee bar, a dance instructor, a scuba instructor, a hot air balloon, a unique business that wedding couples would enjoy.

Also soon after, when all your wedding couples or bride groups arrive at the wedding reception place, you would like to have them go down the list of wedding vendors they saw for the day and provide feedback if they have an interest in any wedding vendors. Next to each vendor put some boxes next to each wedding vendor name and show if their is an interest of being contacted. Show a column for yes, no, and maybe. Make sure the host of the event is at the top. After each couple fills the survey out, you leave the couples and bride groups with some departing gifts, could be a box of chocolates or could be a bottle of bubbly, soap bubbles, bridesmaids gifts, groomsmen gifts or a nice wedding related type of gift. For the vendors that couples are interested in, make sure the vendors are contacted with names, phone numbers, and contact information.

When you set up the bridal rally, if you want to add some extra fun and insure all the wedding groups and bride groups meet with all the wedding vendors. You might think of adding a scavenger hunt. At the beginning of the day when you lay out the scavenger hunt, you may require something from each location. Scavenger hunts can be completed by physically collecting an item from each wedding vendor, answering a question asked about a particular business, having a picture taken at a wedding vendor's location, or having a picture taken of something at the wedding venue, or having a picture taken with other brides at a wedding venue. In order for someone to receive a gift upon departure, they must have completed everything asked in the scavenger hunt.

Now you may ask, how do you set up a bridal rally, it takes a lot of work but if set up well it can be a tremendous reward. The bad news is, it is tough to get started, but the good news, if it's run well it is easy to pick up wedding vendors once they have been through it once. You start out meeting with a bunch of wedding vendors and tell them about plans for the bridal rally and how it will work. The first time just get feedback if they are interested and what time and the day of the week would be best for them. You should target getting a wedding vendor per wedding category, in order to keep your wedding vendors happy, it's better if wedding vendors don't have to compete against each other for the same brides at the rally.

It's better you see for yourself, how well a wedding vendor runs his business, it's better to visit each location and decide if it's a good business for your bridal rally. Once you have identified the businesses to target for the bridal rally, let them know the date of the bridal rally and try to figure out a good time to stop by and see if you can come to an agreement, also talk about what they can offer for the bridal rally, provide a gift, food for taste testing, funds for transportation. You should draw up a contract for the bridal rally so you have down on paper what is agreed to. Just to note, in order to make the routes efficient, you may have to change schedules around, you should plan the bridal rally a couple of months in advance and touch base regularly about the event. Create a webpage to refer to on what the schedule is for the bridal rally and how the bridal rally works.

One suggestion, when you start building your wedding vendors for your bridal rally, is to talk to your wedding transportation company and big wedding venues first. These businesses will determine how you can set up the bridal rally. Can you get a party bus? Will they cover the cost in hopes to get some business? Maybe a major venue will allow wedding couples and bride groups for a specific day and time during the week. If you don't identify a transportation company for the event you may need either a bus or get a bunch of people to car pool.

You also need to concern yourself for the advertising for the bridal rally, how can the event be advertised? Do you do radio commercials, billboards, newspaper ads, register at all the participating wedding vendors, put an ad on a classified location. How you handle the advertising depends on whether you want the event to be big or small, maybe it's just the amount of couples that can fit on the party bus or do you have a big event. Also do you charge a fee or can you get the wedding vendors to cover costs and handouts.

Another thing you might consider using your local Chamber of Commerce for your Bridal Rally. You might tell the Chamber of Commerce all about your plans for the Bridal Rally, they can either give you some good contacts of top notch wedding businesses in your area, they may also help you and even possibly get involved in your bridal rally. They may work out great or they may take over control. Around the country, there are a number of successful events like a Bridal Rally. One successful event which is called a Bridal Crawl has been held in Orlando area the past couple of years, you can find information about it at this website . Another event is called the wedding road show which is held in Long Beach Island of New Jersey, information can be found at www.visitlbiregion/weddings/ .

These events are set up to first receive a map of participating wedding vendors at one location and a map of where partaking venues are located and which vendors can be found at the venues or in the local area and for what specific time frame. Often a bunch of wedding vendors such as florists, bakers, decorators, officiants, photographers, musicians, etc. will be stationed at various venues. The events start out with paying a fee, say $10 and then a wristband is put on your wrist, and then when you visit a wedding venue, if you are seen with the wristband you are entitled with food and beverages from venue participants and provided coupons and brochures from different wedding vendors.

How you set up a bridal rally is really up to you, a lot depends on your vendors, how close your vendors are in location to one another and to pull it together, how and how much advertising will be needed. Also do you want to take on running the bridal rally yourself or do you pull it together working with the Chamber of Commerce. You might find out when talking with wedding vendors, they are looking to pick up brides just as you do and be happy to get involved in weddings just as you are and are happy to help you out in with your bridal rally. The question, do you continue the tradition of a "Bridal Rally", do you have it once a year or should you have one quarterly.

One last thing to mention, which is different matter, there is a company called "Wedding Selections" that creates post cards of various wedding vendors in a particular city. After creating a packet of post cards for a city in a bridal packet, this company sends out the packets to local brides. The rules are, only one wedding category is allowed per bridal packet, i.e, only one wedding dress business, caterer, reception facility, photographer, etc. is allowed. About three times a year, a packet of about 16 pretty post cards go out to local area brides. For a set fee, the post cards allow wedding vendors to reach area brides before their competition does, enabling them to pick up business. These post cards are sent to brides at about a cost of around $.08 a card. For more information about this business you can visit the website.

So if your business does not have a wedding going every weekend or is looking to pick up area brides, think about creating a fun day for wedding couples or brides and bridesmaids. Network with local wedding vendors and have vendors take pictures and videos to put on yours and vendor websites. Create excitement and put some wedding planning ideas into some bride's heads. Use some charm and add some personality and network and show you know bridal stuff and pick up a number of bridal clients at your bridal rally.

I hope I left you some good ideas, should you decide to run a Bridal Rally, and best wishes for a profitable business.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tower Vase Centerpieces for your Wedding

One of the most stunning centerpieces I have ever seen was created by using tower vase centerpieces. Using these tower vase centerpieces you can create a beautiful tree like effect in whatever color scheme you would like for your wedding.

There are basically four parts you need to concern yourself with when creating these brilliant wedding displays. First consider the type of tower vase you would like to display, next is make sure you secure the tower vase so it's not likely to topple, third is decide on decorations to put inside the tower base, and last is deciding what decorations to put on top of your tower vase.

There are number of online website companies in which you can order tower vases from and there are a number of tower vase designs you can choose from. Some of the designs available for which you can order are eiffel tower vases, trumpet tower vases, martini tower vases, lamp shade tower vases, pedestal tower vases, flared tower vases, and glass cylinder vases. They all look beautiful, it's picking the one that most hits your fancy that works within your budget. You might consider ordering enough wedding tower vases for each reception table you have and either get a couple ones that are bookends for your head table or a set of ones to put along your head bridal table.

A few florists and decorators provide tower vases for weddings, but for the most part not a lot of places don't offer these decorations yet, so there is a chance you may have to create these decorations as a do it yourself project or recruit someone to build these wedding centerpieces for your wedding. Maybe you can recruit your florist, decorator, or friend and maybe they will have found a new product for their business.

Some of the tower vases will stand with no problem when you create them, while others may need a base to secure it to so they won't topple. Some of these tower vases can be attached to a beautiful mirror. Others possibilities include glass bowls, ashtrays, or some type of planter pot, many of these bases can be found at dollar stores, flea markets, flower stores, or arts & supply stores. You may need to secure the tower vase using a floral clay, epoxy glue, or other types of glues found at a hardware store or an art & supply store. If you use a mirror you might consider decorating with flower petals, wedding confetti, or little candles. If you use a bowl you might want to fill the bowl with colorful stones, marbles, or water beads.

Inside the tower vases you can fill the vases with colorful water beads for a dazzling effect. Water beads have become the rage at weddings over the past year. The water beads start out in little packets or tubes and when they are soaked in water, they turn into what looks like a rubber marble, they are neat to touch and many people like to play with them. The color beads can be purchased in according to the color scheme of your wedding. You can even layer them in a number of colors for a mystifying effect.

Also in the tube of tower vases you can create a stunning light effect. There are a number of different lighting effects that you can intermix with the water beads. In the tubes you can add different lighting effects such as submersible lights, submersible tea lights, floralytes, or water pearls. Another option is to add fairy lights or christmas lights or have a flood light pointed into the tower vase from above or a flood light pointed to the ceiling.

At the top of the tower vase you have a number of decorative possibilities available. You could place a floral form and a floral form holder on top of the tower vase. In the floral form holder on top you can place ostrich feathers which makes a dazzling tree like structure. You can instead put long stemmed flowers in the floral form holder and create a beautiful floral design. Or you can put long stemmed plants and create a neat design too. There are so many possibilities, but my personal favorite are the ostrich feathers.

There are other possibilities also. You don't necessary have to put anything on top and fill up the tower vase with water beads. You can find another glass bowl to set on top of the tower vase with a different decorative design and place water beads in that bowl also, add another color of water beads or put a submersible light into the bowl on top for a dazzling effect. Water beads were initially invented for plants and flowers so they can survive and thrive in drought like conditions. You could put long stemmed flowers or plants sticking out of the tower vase on top. You can bundle flowers or plants and make a bend at various angles just as you would see in floral vases. You might want to match up similar color flowers, water beads and colored lighting.

Even another possibility is to create a lamp shade effect on top of the tower vase according to the color scheme. The lamp shade effect looks dazzling too. The tower vase can even be filled with other bright colored things besides water beads, could be filled with fruits, flower petals, gemstones, colored stones, or marbles. I still prefer the water bead effects with bright colored lights the best.

Listed below are many websites in which you can purchase materials to buy and create your beautiful tower vases. You can even order colored tower vases according to your color scheme. I still though recommend ordering glass or clear tower vases and using colorful water beads with colored lighting for the best effect and don't forget to create a tree like effect with ostrich feathers. Ostrich feathers can be dyed to a color you wish to feature at your wedding.

Tower Vase Building for Weddings related Websites

At the moment, there are not a lot of businesses that provide these dazzling decorations, I would expect over the next several years you are going to see demand increase because they look so dazzling. If you are looking for a business to get into, this might be a good business to consider and should not take to much in capital to start out, you might enjoy creating dazzling wedding decorations, you could work this business out of your home until your business really gets going. You could reuse the tower vases and change the water bead colors as required for each wedding. You can create just simple ads using or, you also might create a simple website and take a few photos of wedding towers to add to your website to show prospective clients.

Even though florists and greenhouses are starting to use water beads to grow plants themselves, many of these businesses would be smart to offer all the tower vase materials, to add to their business, so the brides of today can create these stunning wedding reception centerpieces. Florists, decorators, reception halls, restaurants that service weddings, golf clubs that service weddings, as well as country clubs, hotels, gift shops, and wedding planners might all be able to add some business by having wedding tower vases on hand.

After the wedding, these wedding towers can be taken home as wedding favors. They can be used to decorate one's home, for flowers and plants really love and soak up water from the water beads when they need water. Even tower vases with the lamp shade can be taken home to be used as a wedding favor and be used to light up a room of a beautiful home. Even the water bead packets or tubes make great wedding favors and can be used for decorating the house or providing water to flowers and plants.

So think about creating a beautiful tower vase at each of your receptions tables and awe inspire your wedding guests. Make sure your tower vase and your table linens match up to your color scheme of your wedding, and make your wedding environment look breathtaking, your wedding guests will talk about the beautiful bride in her beautiful dress, the wedding cake and what a beautiful looking reception hall!

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Step 100 - Plan your Wedding Day Schedule

(Week before Wedding)
What time should I begin my wedding day? How much time will it take to get my wedding day hair styled? How much time do I need for my wedding day makeup? Should the photographer take pictures of the bridal party before or after the wedding ceremony/ When should the bridesmaid arrive? There are many important questions to consider as your wedding day approaches. A well thought out planned schedule of your wedding day will help take the stress away and will go a long way to make your wedding day a success.

As you start to lay out the schedule and plan your wedding day, the experts suggest you put your wedding day plan together by first working backwords for the pre-ceremony activities and after the wedding ceremony go forward with activity tasks.

When putting your wedding day schedule together, take into consideration of travel time, loading your car, time to eat, and time to chat with parents, siblings and other family, special friends, and your bridesmaids. You would rather have the time celebrating your special day with those that have been special to you, than running around feeling stressed and worrying about your wedding. A common recommendation for contingency reserve is leave around 20% of extra time for each task milestone.

Creating a master schedule is an extremely helpful approach. You should lay out the day with all the tasks that need to be done and at what times. This schedule would be helpful and should be shared with the wedding party and all the wedding vendors that are part of your wedding ceremony and wedding reception and lets the photographer and videographer that they have the floor or shoot. The schedule once put together, alls you have to do is follow the schedule and not worry. The schedule can be created a number of different ways, if can be created using an Excel Spreadsheet, Google Docs, a software wedding timeline package, or created using a Word Document off of a computer, or typed off a typewriter (the old fashioned way).

The schedule should be detailed, illustrating every task for your wedding day, down to the minute or five minute interval of your wedding day, beginning with the moment you wakeup and ends with the bride and groom leaving the wedding reception and then off to the hotel or to the airport and on to the honeymoon.

Include along with your master schedule pertinent information such as the phone number of all involved in your wedding day including your bridal party contacts with home phone, work phone, cell phone, home address and social contact numbers such as email, facebook, or twitter or skype. You may just never know, the day of your wedding may be just the day your bridesmaid's car decides not to start and would be helpful if you have on hand her address for someone to go pick her up.

Also have a wedding vendor contact sheet, if there are any questions, or should you have to add or cancel a meal for a last minute wedding guest. Also include in the schedule directions on how to get to the ceremony site, the wedding reception, a hotel, and where is the local pharmacy in the event someone in the wedding needs to pick up a prescription or to pick up a throw away camera or batteries.

When you create your wedding day schedule you can always be certain, that you must look perfect and your appointments with manicurists, hairstylists, and makeup artists, and attaching adornments to your hair will always take longer than expected. You also have to think of other matters, maybe you have a few hundred wedding favors to pack into a couple of cars, you need your bridal emergency kit, a sweater and extra comfortable shoes, your honeymoon luggage, and honeymoon itinery, and maybe you have gifts for your grooms parents or a special aunt or uncle or special friend.

You also may need time for a photographer at your house putting on your wedding dress with your mother looking on and then photos of you in your dress looking in a mirror and looking out a window. You may need time for a couple of phone calls for your florist, decorators, and wedding cake baker, to confirm time of delivery. You may need time to thank your brides on how special they have been and give them bridal favors.

The experts recommend to schedule your hair appointments and makeup to begin seven hours before the wedding ceremony if you are getting bridal party photographs before the wedding and if the photographs are not taken before the wedding and after the ceremony the hairstylist and makeup artist appointments can be performed four hours before the wedding ceremony. You want to be sure the photography and videography are not rushed, you want the best product possible.

You also want to include from a 15 minute to 30 minute freshen up period before the wedding reception, to possible change your clothes into a wedding reception dress, to exchange a gift with your honey, to say a little prayer, to check your phone messages, and to use the bathroom. Make sure all your important wedding vendors such as your photographer, videographer, caterer, reception hall, and all involved in your wedding get a copy of your wedding day schedule so they know what you are up to at different moments of the day.

Before your wedding day, try not to stay up late the night before the wedding and avoid drinking too much alcohol and coffee and get a good nights sleep so you are rested for your big day. Your wedding day should go something like this schedule.

Wedding Day Schedule

8:00 - Rise and shine, stretch walk, relax, talk with family or with bridesmaids staying over, make one cup of coffee and eat a light breakfast.

9:00 - Pamper yourself by taking a bath or by taking an extra long shower, don't forget to shave, exfoliate your face and hands, moisturize every inch of your body.

10:00 - It's beauty treatment time, whether it's at the brides house or beauty salon, it's time for the bride and her bridesmaids to get prettied up for the big day, first is a manicure, next hair trimmed, teased, tossed, and styled, then followed up by wedding day makeup.

12:00 - Time to grab a bite to eat, have something light and yummy whether it be a health bar or a delicious salad, make sure you have the bridal emergency kit ready, have a sweater and comfortable shoes, honeymoon luggage packed, wedding favors ready, wedding vendor tips ready and load everything into one of your parent's cars, and gifts for any wedding guests.

12:30 - Try to use the ladies room one last time, you are about to put on the wedding dress and this is the last opportunity to get refreshed and take one last look in the mirror to check on the beautiful you.

12:45 - The floral bouquets and photographer should have arrived, it's time to let others take over. Listen to the photographer instructing and getting a few pictures of you getting into the wedding dress and looking into the mirror and another picture of you looking out your window.

1:30 - After you are all dressed up, you meet with your bridesmaids giving a generous speech on how they have been special to you and giving them your thanks and giving them their bridal favor gifts.

2:00 - It's Cinderella time, time for the brides and bridesmaid to get picked up by the limousines and begin their journey to the wedding ceremony, to be there a half hour before the wedding ceremony is to begin.

2:30 - You arrive at the wedding ceremony venue and proceed directly to the holding room before the ceremony, time for last minute touches up (make sure your bridesmaid is your spot checker should anything be out of place on your dress, face, or hair.

3:00 - Your biggest moment in your life has arrived, you and your bridesmaid, ring bearer, flower girl assemble in front of the aisle, take a deep breath and relax, a relaxed bride is a beautiful bride, time to take everything in, watch as your best friends walk down the aisle, it;s your turn, take a final breath, you grab your dad's arms, all eyes turn to you, smile, stay relaxed, walk steadily and slowly (for great picture), and look straight to the man of your dreams, time to enjoy your wedding and new life.

To keep you organized for your wedding day, you may want to create some wedding day schedule something like the ones below.

                                     Bride and Groom's Name
                                      Pre-Ceremony Schedule

Start Time        Task                                            Points of Contact
8:00                 Wakeup, Freshenup & Breakfast
9:00                 Moisturize & Bath
10:00               Hairstylist Appointment                Beauty Salon - Phone
11:30               Makeup Artist                             Makeup Artist - Phone
12:00               Lunch & Load Up Car
12:30               Freshen Up
12:45               Floral Bouquets Arrive                 Florist - Phone
                        Photographer Arrives                  Photographer - Phone
                        Start Putting on Wedding Dress
1:20                 Meet with Bridesmaids
2:00                 Limousine Arrives                       Transportation - Phone
2:30                 Arrive at Church                         Church - Address - Phone
3:00                 Ceremony Begins

                                     Bride and Groom's Name
                                        Ceremony Schedule

Start Time        Task                                            Remarks

2:30                 Processional Music
3:00                 Groomsmen Enters Side Door
                        Officiant Walks to Altar
                        Bridesmaids Walk to Front
                        Ring Bearer Walks to Front
                        Flower Girl Walks to Front
3:10                 Processional Music Bride
                        Bride Walks up aisle with Father
3:15                 Opening Remarks
                        Officiant Sermon
3:30                  Readings
                         Officiant Rite if Marriage
                         Bride & Groom Exchange Vows
                         Couple Lights Unity Candle
                         Traditional Music
3:45                  Concluding Rite
4:00                  Bride & Groom Sign Wedding Registry
4:05                  Recessional Music
                         Bride & Groom Walk Down Aisle
4:10                  Bride & Groom on Receiving Line
4:30                  Groomsman Moves Church Decorations
5:00                  Photography Session

                                     Bride and Groom's Name
                                   Wedding Reception Schedule

Start Time        Task                                            Points of Contact

2:00                 Caterer Arrives Prepares Food     Caterer - Phone
                        Rentals Arrive Begin Set-Up        Rental Services - Phone
2:30                 Wait-Staff Preps Tables & Linen   Caterer - Phone
2:45                 Flowers Delivered                         Florist - Phone
3:00                 Tables Decorated                         Decorator - Phone
4:30                 Bartender & Bar Supplies Prep      Bartender - Phone
4:45                 Wedding Cake Arrives                   Baker - Phone
5:20                 Slide Photos Setup                       Photo - Phone
5:30                 Photobooth Setup                         Photobooth - Phone
5:45                 Installation Ready                         Caterer
                        Picture of Reception                     Photographer
6:00                 Cocktail Begins
                        Wedding Guests Arrive
6:45                  Bride & Groom Arrive
                         Bridal Party Arrives
6:50                  Guests Seated at Table
7:00                  Bar Closes Temporarily
                         Welcome Speech
7:10                  Food Service Begins
8:00                  Speeches & Toasts
8:15                  Music Begins                               Musicians - Phone    
8:30                  Wedding Cake Cutting
8:45                  Bride & Groom First Dance
8:55                  Dessert & Coffee is Served
9:10                  Bridal Toss & Garter Throw
9:30                  Bride & Groom Depart for Honeymoon
11:00                Bar is Closed
11:15                Music Ends
11:30                Gifts moved to Parents
                         Wait Staff Cleans Reception

                                     Bride and Groom's Name
                              Wedding Day Bridal Party Contacts

Bridal Type               Name                           Address                       Phone
Bride                         Name                          123 Main Street          (123) 456-7890
Groom                      Name                           123 Main Street          (123) 456-7890
Maid of Honor           Name                           123 Main Street          (123) 456-7890
Best Man                  Name                           123 Main Street          (123) 456-7890
Bride's Mother           Name                           123 Main Street          (123) 456-7890
Bride's Father            Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Bridesmaid #1           Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Bridesmaid #2           Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Bridesmaid #3           Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Groomsman #1          Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Groomsman #2          Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Groomsman #3          Name                           123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Ring Bearer               Name                            123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890
Flower Girl                Name                            123 Main Street           (123) 456-7890

                                     Bride and Groom's Name
                                Wedding Day Vendor Contacts

 Wedding Vendor                    Name of Business                            Phone  
Ceremony Location                 Name                                             (123) 456-7890
                                               Time 3-4:30

Wedding Reception                 Name                                             (123) 456-7890
                                               Time 6-11

Caterer                                    Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Decorations                             Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Florist                                      Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Hair Stylist                              Name                                             (123) 456-7890
Makeup Artist                          Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Bed & Breakfast                      Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Hotel                                       Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Ceremony Musician                 Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Reception Musician                  Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Disc Jockey                             Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Photographer                           Name                                            (123) 456-7890
Videographer                           Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Transportation                          Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Wedding Cake                         Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Rental Supplies                        Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Bartender                                Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Calligrapher                             Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Pharmacy                                Name                                           (123) 456-7890
Airlines                                    Name                                           (123) 456-7890

You also may want to create directions to your wedding ceremony, wedding reception, and you may want to include directions to your local pharmacy. The directions could be created using Mapquest or Google Maps off your computer or draw them yourself and male copies or have your Calligrapher create some. There are a number of websites you can use too to create maps. Some websites that can help you include , , , and .

So create your wedding day schedule to make your life easy and share your schedule with all those involved in setting up your wedding and in some cases you make the bridal party and wedding vendors lives easier too.

So congratulations to the happy couple and I will see you on the other side!