We have some exciting new things going on with our website this week.  First, we’ve added a nifty new tool that helps you calculate your wedding costs and another that will let you know what the average wedding costs where you live. Find them at: http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-guide.aspx.

Next, we’ve made our What’s Up? Weddings Workbook available, in a printable version, on our website as well. The workbook includes sheets for calculating your wedding budget, keeping track of your guests, selecting your music, establishing your gift registry, choosing your flowers and decor, and arranging your reception seating, as well as a photography checklist and a wedding day checklist for the bride and groom. It’s very cool and will help you with achieve the number one thing you need to plan a  successful wedding: organization. (Well, that, and patience. Oh, and some cash.) Check it out at: http://whatsupmag.com/images/2008/10/weddings/fw08wuwwbk.pdf.

Another helpful tool you will find on our website is our Ultimate Wedding Guide, a comprehensive guide to venues, caterers, hotels, and restaurants in the Annapolis and Eastern Shore areas. We’ve done all of the research for you here. Use it! http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-guide.aspx.

Finally, one of our interns, Monserrat Urena,  was very busy collecting info on wedding photography this week. So much so that we had extra to share with you here. (Love her!) Below, find all of the points that you will want to be sure are covered when signing a contract with your wedding photographer. Enjoy!

 

Wedding Photography Contract Must-Haves

You’ve done your homework, made appointments, and looked at dozens of photographer’s portfolios and websites. Finally, you’ve found a wedding photographer whose work dazzles you—and the prices is right. Hooray!

 But wait—before you move on to the next step in your planning process, you must first agree upon and sign a written contract. Here’s what it should include:

  • The names and contact information for you and your photographer
  • The correct date(s) and exact hours that the photographer’s services will be needed from starting time to end (specify locations where your photographer will shoot with the exact addresses)
  • Name of person who will shoot your wedding and assistants (if applicable)
  • Number and type(s) of cameras that will be used
  • If using film: The number, type, and cost of rolls of film to be used including a clause for the inclusion and cost of any additional rolls used (if needed)
  • Package details, including the number of proofs you’ll receive  
  • The date your proofs will be ready for viewing and how long they can be in your possession
  • The time when and means by which you will receive your full order once it has placed, and any other delivery details
  • The duration of time that the photographer will retain control of your negatives
  • Total cost (itemized is advisable)
  • Overtime fee (if applicable)
  • Reorder price for additional prints
  • Deposit amount that is due
  • Balance and its due date
  • A cancellation and refund policy
  • Name of an acceptable substitute in case of emergency
  • Guarantee of a backup camera/equipment should there be equipment failure
  • Photographer’s signature

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More Wedding Kids

September 29, 2008

Thanks to Wendy Hickok of Hickok Photography in Annapolis for sending us the following shots of wedding kids—and for proving I’m not the only one who is obsessed with little kids in bowties: “I agree kids at are one of my favorite things to photograph at events,” she says. “They always add a totally different dimension to the glitz and glam of a wedding day.”  Enjoy!

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Hickok Photography

Send your favorite wedding photos to: Stephanie@whatsupmag.com.

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Wedding Kids!

September 24, 2008

In preparation for the upcoming issue of What’s Up? Weddings, I have been looking through hundreds of photos every day. No matter how many beautiful wedding photos I look at—with their stunning scenery, handsome grooms, and gorgeous brides in amazing gowns—it’s always the pics of the adorable kids and babies that make me stop and say, “Awwwww!” (I mean, what’s sweeter than a distracted flower girl? So much for the money you spent on those flowers, guys!)

I don’t get much opportunity to feature these cute kids in the magazine, so I thought I’d gather some photos together to share with you. This slideshow’s sure to bring a smile to your face. (Especially that little guy with the tie in his mouth!) Click on the photo to begin.

by Egomedia Photography

Thanks to: Richard Allen Photography, Melissa Grimes-Guy Photography, Clear Focus Photography & Video, Egomedia Photography, Burleson Studios, Beverly Fuss, and Kimi Raspa

Did you have a cutie in your wedding? Send me your photos! Stephanie@whatsupmag.com

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Not Your Average Calligrapher

September 18, 2008

Ink and Annie Calligraphy

Ink and Annie Calligraphy

Attention, brides-to-be and wedding planners (especially those of you with really bad penmanship): There is a stellar pro calligrapher in our midst! In researching an upcoming article on wedding stationery, I was fortunate enough to be put in touch with the amazing Anne Riley. Anne is a professional calligrapher who lives on the Eastern Shore. What makes Anne so interesting, in my opinion, is the extraordinary passion she has for her art.

For the past two years, Anne has been studying under Master penman (or should I say penwoman?) Pat Blair, who just so happens to be in charge of the White House calligraphy department. (I bet you didn’t even know they have their own!) In fact, when Anne met Pat, Pat was Dick Cheney’s personal calligrapher. (My newest goal is to have one of those someday.) She also wrote the Queen of England’s invitation to a white-tie dinner at the White House. Both women are members of the Washington Calligraphers Guild, a nonprofit organization with over 500 members.

When I last heard from Anne Riley, the go-getter was preparing to leave for a week-long retreat in Ohio, where she will be studying with another impressive penman in the calligraphy world, Michael Sull. Michael worked as a calligrapher for Hallmark for 8 years. Anne promises to share samples of her latest work when she returns.

Anne specializes in wedding envelopes and place cards, and has started her own business in Salisbury, called Ink and Annie. If any of you Maryland brides have calligraphy needs (meaning your chicken scratch just isn’t going to make the cut), I think Annie’s definitely worth checking out.

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Bridezilla’s Attack

September 11, 2008

Why the long face?

Oh, happy day!

So, I finally broke down and watched an episode of the WE (Women’s Entertainment) TV network’s Bridezillas the other day.

I don’t know why I had avoided it for so long. Maybe it was because there are so many wedding shows out now to choose from (Say Yes to the Dress; Rock the Reception; Rich Bride, Poor Bride; etc.). Maybe it was because I always had something better to do (or watch) at 9 o’clock on a Sunday night. Or, more likely, it was because I suspected that Bridezillas would be the bridal version of The Jerry Springer Show.

My suspicions were confirmed about 30 seconds into the episode (and how!).

One lovely bride-to-be stood in front of her bridesmaids (bless their souls) screaming about how they were to look on the wedding day: hair up with cascading curls, French manicures, and girdles to “suck in [their] fat stomachs (!).” Next came the kicker. She told the dismayed posse that if they didn’t have “anything up front” they’d have to stuff their bras, and then—wait for it—she proceeded to point at each one and announce whether or not she needed to stuff. Not surprisingly, the 16-year-old of the group qualified.

I sat on my couch with my mouth agape, utterly horrified by what I had just witnessed. Oh no she didn’t! (I was just waiting for the chants to begin: “Jer-ry! Jer-ry!) In another scene a different bride stood outside of the wedding venue screaming at her guests to get their “asses inside” because she was “ready to walk.” It wasn’t just the words that were coming out of her mouth that made the scene work—the rage in her twisted face and the fist full of flowers that she pumped in the air completely added to it.

I was appalled and enthralled at the same time–you know, the “can’t help but rubberneck when passing an accident” thing. (And that’s the point of the show, I suppose.) What I really didn’t get was how the show finds people to volunteer to appear on TV and show the world that they are bridezillas (meaning divas, control freaks, weirdos, or just plain jerks). Why on earth would someone want to share that with millions of people? Other than the fact that divas, control freaks, weirdos, and jerks might have warped ways of thinking (which is quite possible), the only other motivator I can think of is money. But, I mean, how much could the show pay for these trashy scenes?

And why would you want to make your husband, your family, and your best friends miserable on what is supposed to be one of the most joyous occasions in life?

Anyhoo, I checked out the network’s website and there is a whole page dedicated to Bridezillas. You can watch video snippets of bridezilla-like behavior, play a bridal hurdles game (in which you must steer your bride to the altar while avoiding obstacles such as grumpy bridesmaids and unpredictable weather), create your own bridezilla (with your face on its body and a recorded message you can send to friends and family), and you can even take a quiz to see if you qualify as a bridezilla. Here’s an excerpt:

1. Someone objects to your marriage right before the “I dos”. You:
a. Leap from the pulpit, rush down the aisle and tackle the offender (3).
b. Stomp your foot and yell “Shut the h— up!” (2).
c. Cry (1).

2. You have 5 pounds left to lose before the big day. You:
a. Ambush the hottest diet guru and fly them to your home for a little one-on-one (3).
b. Cut down on carbs (1).
c. Try a liquid fast (2).

3. The bridal salon calls you:
a. By your first name (1).
b. “That girl with the issues” (2).
c. The Terminator (3).

4. Your gown is:
a. Your mothers (1).
b. French couture (2).
c. Stolen from a Renaissance museum in Italy (3).

5. Officiating at your ceremony is:
a. Your local clergyman (1).
b. The Mayor of the city (2).
c. The Pope (3).

Hee-hee. You get the picture…

Do you have a good bridezilla story, have you had a bridezilla moment, or are you a full-fledged bridezilla and proud of it? Share your story!

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Have Your Cake

September 5, 2008

Our second issue of What’s Up? Weddings is officially on newsstands (check it out for all of your wedding planning needs!), and we are already hard at work on our next issue. Always trying to keep abreast of hot, new trends, I’ve been in touch with local bakers about their wedding cakes. We’re lucky to have some real pros in the area, and some of the images they are sending me are truly amazing! I’ve saved some of the best for our upcoming article (stay tuned), but in the meantime, here is an idea of the types of cool cakes we’ve been talking about:

Courtesy of Caroline's Cakes, Annapolis

Caroline's Cakes, Annapolis

This whimsical showstopper is the epitome of Annapolis, with nautical flags draping each of its four perfect tiers. Not surprisingly, local bakers say that nautical colors are quite hot in “America’s Sailing Capital.”

Courtesy of Caroline's Cakes, Annapolis

Caroline's Cakes, Annapolis

Centerpiece cakes (mini cakes that serve as the centerpiece for each table at the reception) are another hot trend right now. Pamela De Bari, decorating coordinator at Caroline’s Cakes in Annapolis, says that this is what the bakery’s refrigerator looked like last weekend after preparing an order for eight 6-inch cakes for a local wedding.
Caroline's Cakes, Annapolis

Caroline's Cakes

Good things do come in small packages. Even more individualized than centerpiece cakes, cupcake “trees” or “cakes” are also quite popular with local brides- and grooms-to-be as well. Each guest can choose their own cupcake (choosing a few different flavors and colors for them is a fun option), and often, as seen here, a 6-inch version of the wedding cake is prepared for the topper–that way, the happy couple doesn’t miss out on cutting the cake!

These are just a few examples of the many exciting things happening in wedding cake trends–and there are many more on the horizon. Stay tuned for more sneak peeks. Until then, indulge in a cupcake (or three)–you’re probably craving them by now.

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Did you have a unique or beautiful cake at your wedding? Do you create extraordinary wedding cakes? Send your pics to stephanie@whatsupmag.com, so I can share them with our readers!

To check out a recent article on wedding cakes: http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0708-cakes.aspx.
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The Wedding Gift

August 27, 2008

Like many other aspects of a wedding, there are social rules and expectations that pertain to gift giving. I wasn’t fully aware of all of these “rules” until I began researching the topic for a story I was writing on wedding etiquette. There are many of them–and maybe a few you that you wouldn’t guess to be true. When I celebrated my own wedding last year, I was astonished at how many others didn’t know the most general rules of gift giving–you know, like the one that says you should give one. I will admit that this mostly proved to be true of the younger crowd, and that our 40s and older guests seemed up on their etiquette. (Maybe it was because they had attended more weddings, or because they had celebrated their own and/or their children’s. Or maybe it was because the younger generations just don’t care as much about etiquette.) Either way, if you are going to a wedding and care to know what is expected when it comes to gift giving, here goes:

Let’s start with my favorite.

If you are invited to the wedding, you should give one. This rule applies to each guest regardless of whether or not he or she can attend. (Really!) The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but is meant to acknowledge the couple’s joyous occasion. The few exceptions to this rule are second marriages (if you gave a present at the person’s first wedding, you are not obligated to give another–this doesn’t mean you can’t give one, however) and if you decline a wedding invitation from someone you don’t know very well or no longer keep in touch with.

Registries are good. The traditional reason for bestowing wedding gifts upon the couple is to help them prepare for their new life together. Though you may think that it’s boring to choose something from a registry list, the bride- and groom-to-be registered for those items for one reason–because they need them. Registry items are sure to please and will always prove useful. More and more couples are also setting up alternative registries, such as honeymoon registries/funds and new home funds. A contribution to these is also a very welcomed gift.

* Traditional etiquette says that bridal registry info should never appear on the wedding invitation, but should only be spread by word of mouth or in an insert in the bridal shower invitation. The popularity of wedding web pages has enabled couples to post the information for guests who are interested–without foiling etiquette rules.

Cash and gifts are also good. It also goes against proper etiquette for the bride and groom to request money in lieu of gifts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not greatly appreciated! Most weddings cost a pretty penny these days and it’s likely that the newly betrothed couple would be thrilled with a little cold hard cash to replenish their bank account. Although there is no set rule that says how much you should give, family members and friends who are close to the couple are expected to give more. Fifty dollars is the minimum you should give for a wedding gift. The average monetary gift for a co-worker is $75- 100; for a friend or relative is $100-125; and for a close friend or relative is $100-150. (Before all of this wedding research I had always believed that you should give enough to cover your meal, and double that if you went as a couple. Turns out this is horse pucky. Modern etiquette says give what you can afford.)

Don’t bring the gift to the wedding. This isn’t a horrible faux pas (I mean, a gift is a gift, no matter where you get it), but it it easier for the bride and groom (or their families) to enjoy themselves at the wedding if they don’t have to worry about keeping track of presents or lugging them away at the reception’s end. If sent before the wedding, gifts can be shipped or delivered to the bride’s home (or to the home of her parents, if that’s where she lives). If sent afterwards, they should go to the couple’s home. There is debate about the popular notion that you have until a year after the wedding to send a gift (some etiquette experts say yes, some say no way). To stay out of trouble, it’s best to send it before the wedding.

Armed with this knowledge, I’ll trust you to do the right thing!

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Check out our latest issue of What’s Up? Weddings on newsstands this week!

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For more on wedding guest etiquette, read my article at: http://whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0708-wedding-guest-etiquette.aspx

For my article on general wedding etiquette (brides- and grooms-to-be take note!) or to return to What’s Up? Weddings home page: http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features.aspx

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I Propose a Toast!

August 19, 2008

I’ll admit it. The other day, while watching a wedding video, I shed a few tears. They didn’t come when the proud father of the beautiful bride gave her away, nor when the bride and groom exchanged vows, nor when the beaming couple were joyfully pronounced man and wife. It was at the beginning of the reception, during the damn toasts, that the waterworks began—and I don’t even know any of these people!

It’s true that many times, a well-written, heartfelt wedding toast will bring me to tears (then again, so can a commercial for cat food on the right day), but these people really had it down. The whole gamut of “man” speeches–the best man’s to the groom’s to the father of the bride’s–were original, personal, and profoundly sincere. You have to agree, it’s not every day that grown men (or women, for that matter) publicly declare their love/pride/admiration for another person/people in front of a room full of their closest family, friends, and acquaintances. This particularly fine display truly moved me.

Traditionally, several people at a wedding would make a speech or toast, specifically the three men mentioned above: the best man, the groom, and the father of the bride. Occasionally, the bride and maid/matron of honor would say a few words, as well. But times they have a-changed and many brides and grooms are choosing to do their own “thang.” These days, anyone can make a toast/speech at almost any time during the reception–as long as it is expected and (fairly) tasteful. (The rehearsal dinner is a better time for impromptu speeches.)

That said, if you plan to give a speech or toast at an upcoming wedding, how can you guarantee that you’ll produce a stellar delivery? Well, you can’t. (Sorry.) But there are a few tips that can get you in darn good shape. Here goes:

Prepare your speech ahead of time. Practice reading it aloud. Make notes on an index card if necessary.

Rehearse the first few lines as you wait to take the floor. You won’t stumble for your first words, and the rest will usually follow easily. If you don’t know all of the guests, introduce yourself first.

As I’m sure all of the gentlemen in the tearjerker video would advise, speak from your heart. It’s not everyday that you are given the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the people you love. Share memories and anecdotes. Create original material rather than borrowing from what others have done–how do they know what you’re feeling?

Be yourself. Remember that the wedding guests are rooting for you. Have fun and enjoy the moment.

If you feel fidgety, walk around a bit. Speak slowly and in the same voice as you normally do. Pause for laughter, if delivering a joke.

Keep it brief. The toast shouldn’t go on for more than two or three minutes.

In closing (or if at a loss for words!), lift your glass and toast.

Now for the DON’T list:

Don’t deliver a speech while drunk.

Don’t use R-rated humor or bad language.

Don’t bring up the bride or groom’s past relationships or money. (This is a toast, not a roast.)

Now that you have all of the basics, go forth and make some people cry!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We want your wedding toast stories and videos! Did you or someone at your wedding follow all (or none) of the toast writing rules? We want to hear about it! Send your stories/videos to me at stephanie@whatsupmag.com.

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If you’ve been shopping around for (or gazing longingly through store windows at) engagement rings or wedding bands, chances are you might already be familiar with the Four Cs. The letters represent important qualities to look for when selecting a diamond: Carat, clarity, color, and cut. (To learn more about these, check out this article from What’s Up? Weddings: http://whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0808-diamonds.aspx.)

When you’ve got that down, there’s something else to consider: a newly added fifth C, which stands for chemistry. Apparently, scientists have developed brilliant cut jewelry that supposedly rivals the color and clarity of natural diamonds. They’ve named them DiamondAura. In an ad I saw for the lab-created stones, a 2.5 carat DiamondAura is compared to a mined flawless diamond in 6 categories. Here’s how they measured up:

In the hardness category, they both cut glass. Both were brilliant (cut) and “D” flawless (color). The mined diamond was “IF” (internally flawless) in clarity and 0.044 in dispersion/fire, while the DiamondAura was clear and 0.066 in dispersion. Now, for the last category—the one that caused me to do a double-take: Cost. The 2.5 c.t.w. (carat total weight) mined flawless diamond costs $60,000+. The DiamondAura costs $145. (Hot dog!) Now, I haven’t personally seen a DiamondAura ring (unless you count the image in the ad—which looks pretty good), but at that price, and with the cost of weddings these days, I thought they might be worth investigating. If anyone knows more about these intriguing new stones, please comment.

And happy hunting!

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Four Left Feet

July 30, 2008

The other night I caught TLC’s new wedding series, “Rock the Reception” on TV (it currently follows the already popular “Say Yes to the Dress” in the channel’s wedding show lineup, showing at 8:30 on Tues. and Fri.).

The gist of the show is that soon-to-be-married couples work with a pair of professional choreographers (Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo from Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?”) in order to surprise their wedding guests with a showstopping first dance. In this particular episode, one couple chose to dance to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” while the other shook their groove thangs to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” During both dances, as anticipated, the wedding guests’ reactions went from jaws dropped in shock, to mouths covered in awe, to clapping along and hooting and hollering.

This made me think of my own first dance. It didn’t go off quite as well. At all.

My husband, Mike, and I chose a version of the song “When the Stars go Blue” performed by the Corrs and Bono (yes, that Bono) for our first dance. It is a lovely song, harmonious and flowing, with the two “lovers” singing romantic lines to each other–the perfect song for a wedding. I saw a video for the song in which, during an instrumental break, Bono and Andrea Corr glide across the stage together flawlessly, proving how beautiful a dance to their song could be. We were sold.

Throughout the remainder of our wedding planning, neither Mike nor I gave much more thought to the first dance. We had a song picked out and we knew when we wanted it to be played (following dinner–and after we’d had a glass of wine or two to loosen us up). What more was there to worry about?

The big day came, and as the reception was about to begin, the wedding party was announced. Everyone pranced into the room, hand in hand, with Mike and I bringing up the rear. This moment is a wonderful part of your wedding, when you and your beloved stand up as a newlywed couple, in front of all of the people you love most (who are clapping and hooting for you).

All of that happiness disappeared completely when the DJ decided that he would start playing our first dance song right then and there–before we sat down, before we ate dinner, and most importantly, before we had cocktails. We looked at each other in horror and then Mike shrugged at me, as if to say, “Well, I guess we have to do this.” He grabbed me and we started to sway back and forth, high school dance style. (Have I mentioned that my husband is 6′ 4″ and I am 5′ 2″? This small obstacle only added to the other, bigger obstacle in our way: neither of us could dance.)

Mike tried to turn us and we got caught up in my dress. Around the same time, my veil started to come loose. At one point it was hanging from my head and the next thing I knew, it had fallen to the ground. I glanced at it, wondering if I should pick it up, and Mike grimaced at me: “Just let it go.” I snarled my face up and looked back at him: “Okay, fine.” So much for marital bliss–things were going downhill at a fast pace. I patted my disheveled hair and continued to “dance.” The horrific show went on and on. How long is this *&%# song? I wondered. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. We certainly hadn’t rocked the reception, but our adoring families and friends played along, indulging us with kind smiles and more clapping. I sighed in relief and we started to shuffle toward our table, when a new announcement stopped me dead in my tracks: “Stephanie will now join her father Jim for the Father-Daughter dance.”

Mike darted from the dance floor as I grabbed my Dad’s hand. I wasn’t ready for another round of humiliation. But after a few seconds, I realized that something had changed. I was dancing! We were dancing! And it wasn’t half bad! As I relaxed and smiled at my Dad it occurred to me that having two left feet isn’t a huge problem, as long as your partner could dance–it is when you put four left feet into the equation that you get into trouble! Mike’s successful Mother-Son dance only confirmed this.

So, now I share with you the wisdom I gained from this experience: if you and your husband- or wife-to be cannot dance, CONSIDER TAKING A LESSON OR TWO. If not, you could be at the receiving end of this question, that was asked of me almost a year after our first dance (about our first dance) by a good friend of the family: “Yeah, what was that anyway? That was pretty bad.”

For more on local dance info: http://www.whatsupmag.com/sep05/lookinggood.shtml

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