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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Brian Ray Studios

Brian Ray Studios

 

The cooler weather has arrived, bringing with it some of my fall favorites: changing leaves, gourds, pumpkins, apples, eggplant, and butternut squash. Then there are amazing fall flowers in dreamy colors such as golden yellow, burnt orange, ruby red, rich purple, and chocolate brown.  If you are planning a fall or winter wedding, it’s likely that you will be using seasonal flowers in your bouquets, centerpieces, and decor. (Seasonal flowers are usually more affordable and a more eco-friendly choice, to boot!) Below, is a list of some of those flowers, their meanings, and a few decorating ideas.

Autumn

Amaryllis: splendid beauty, pride

Daisies: Innocence

Grape ivy: fidelity, friendship

China aster: love, daintiness

Fuchsia: taste

Zinnia: thoughts of friends

  • Magenta zinnia: Lasting affection
  • Scarlet zinnia: constancy
  • White zinnia: goodness

Yarrow: healing

 

Chrysanthemums: cheerfulness, optimism, and “You’re a wonderful friend.” These flowers transition from summer to autumn in shades of yellow, bronze, and orange.

*Decor ideas for fall weddings*

  • Arrange sheaths of wheat or corn at the reception site’s entrance.
  • Integrate pumpkins, cornucopias, acorns, leaves, or gourds into your theme.
  • Use hollowed-out mini pumpkins with votive candles, elegantly carved pumpkins with beautiful designs or monograms, or paper bag luminaries to create a warm, seasonal atmosphere.
  • Place flowers in gourds or pumpkins instead of vases.

Winter

Baby’s Breath: festivity

Carnations: fascination, divine love, bonds of affection, health and energy

  • Pink carnation: remembrance, “I’ll never forget you,” a mother’s love
  • Red carnation: admiration, my heart aches for you
  • White carnation: innocence, faithfulness, sweet and lovely

Eucalyptus berries: protection

Juniper pine gardenias: “You’re lovely,” sweet love, good luck

Holly: goodwill, domestic happiness, foresight

Poinsettia: “Be of good cheer”

Snowball mums: cheerfulness, optimism

Tip: You can personalize a bouquet for the season by adding pinecones, evergreen, or berries.

*Decor ideas for winter weddings*

Group different varieties of poinsettias around the reception site.

Use pine branches and white candles in clear glass candle holders to create beautiful, fragrant centerpieces.

Another centerpiece idea is to fill a pretty bowl with water, cranberries, and floating candles (consider star- or snowflake-shaped candles).

Other elements to consider adding to a winter wedding theme: sparkly white lights, miniature gingerbread houses (or gingerbread couples as favors), miniature evergreens, candy cane pillars, snow globe centerpieces, mistletoe, and shiny ornaments.

*Note: Many flowers, especially favorites like roses and lilies, are available all year.

Did you use a seasonal theme at your wedding? Send your photo or ideas to: stephanie@whatsupmag.com.

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For more on seasonal flowers and other ideas for bouquets and centerpieces, see our article, Petal Power:

http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0308-petal-power.aspx.

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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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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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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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In the last editor’s letter I wrote for What’s Up? Weddings (http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0308-editor-letter.aspx), I referred to myself as the perpetual bride.

The reason I get to enjoy this status is that I never had to go through the planning withdrawal that brides often experience after their wedding. It’s true! After months and months of all-consuming wedding planning (at least they were in this control freak’s case), the big day finally arrives and everything comes to a screeching halt. No more phone calls to make, no more appointments to schedule, no more fittings to attend–it’s over. (Yes this is actually a bad thing for some!)

When I returned to the office after my own wedding and honeymoon, our debut issue hadn’t yet gone to print, and, as managing editor, it was right back to wedding land for me. The issue did well and we began work on the second. And so, here I find myself today (almost a year later)–still planning, researching, talking to florists and photographers, drooling over cakes and gowns, discovering beautiful new venues, and sometimes just thinking happy wedding thoughts, in general. It’s not a bad gig, this perpetual bride thing–and much less stressful after you’ve already gotten married!

Through this new wedding blog, I hope to share tips, information, stories, photos, ideas, and all of those random wedding thoughts that go through my head with all of you “real” brides-to-be (and your families, and friends, and hubbies-to-be, too). Check in often to read new online articles, web exclusives, and blog entries, and please let us know what’s on your mind too–we’d love to hear your own great ideas and stories. Now, down to business…

Tip # 1: Although things may get a little crazy during the wedding planning months, take time to enjoy your engagement. It is a special time for you and your partner and will be over before you know it. Support each other, spend time together, have fun, and enjoy the ride!

(And I won’t mind if you come back to visit when it’s over!)

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