Monday, March 25, 2013

Choosing a Reception Venue

Once you and your fiance have established a wedding budget, one of the first things you will probably look at is venues. Choosing both the ceremony and reception venue is a crucial part of every wedding. The ceremony venue is where you'll say your vows and actually get married, so you'll want it to be sentimental or inline with your wedding day vision. The reception venue is where you and your guests will spend most of your time, and it is usually the biggest expense in a wedding budget, so you'll want to choose a place where your guests will be comfortable, and that you'll feel comfortable paying for. If you're lucky, you may find a venue that will work for both your ceremony and reception.

Winding Hollow Golf Club was the perfect
place for our reception venue!
As Matt and I began planning my our dream wedding, we decided that it was important for us to get married in a church. Since my church doesn't have a center aisle and wouldn't accommodate all of our guests, we had to look for two separate venues. I started out by looking for the reception venue because  that's where the majority of the money in our wedding budget would be spent, and I assumed it would be easier to find a ceremony site than a reception site.

As I began my initial search for a reception venue, I found to be very helpful. If you go to their vendor category, not only do they give you a list of reception venues in your area, they also allow you to insert criteria specific to what you're looking for like the number of guests, amenities, style and price range. (They never give a specific amount in the price range, but the dollar signs are somewhat helpful when you're trying to decide what you can or can't afford). There are also pictures of each reception venue, along with its contact information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gotta' Shape Up!

Since getting engaged, I've started to think about getting in shape for the big day. I'm not focused on losing a certain number of pounds before the wedding, I just want to tone up and be in the best shape possible. Years after the wedding is over and I'm looking at my wedding pictures, I don't want to think, "I wish I had done a couple more crunches!"

Find ways to make working out fun like playing mud volleyball or working out with your fiance!
My wedding is still over a year away, so my efforts to get into shape thus far, have been pretty minimal. I've always been a fairly active person and I'm what some might consider a selective (ok, picky!) eater, so I've just been sticking with my normal routine and diet.

I try to run five days a week, but I am by no means a marathon runner! On an average day, I'll run 2.5 miles. If I'm having a rough run, sometimes I'll cut it down to two miles, and if I'm feeling great, I'll run up to five miles. I have no set schedule and I haven't been wearing a watch, so I can just go at a comfortable pace. Since we're in the midst of winter in Ohio, I've been sticking to running on the local high school track, or the roads of my neighborhood. On special occasions, my fiance and I have driven a little further to run at city parks. If the weather is too bad to be outside in, I'll settle for running on a treadmill, but that really is a last resort for me (I hate watching the clock as I run!).

Monday, March 18, 2013

You're Invited

Before you schedule any tours to look at potential venues, you and your fiancé should come up with an initial guest list. The list will evolve throughout the wedding planning process, but it's good to have an idea of how many people you will be inviting so you can choose a venue that will comfortably accommodate all of your guests. The average number of guests attending a wedding in 2011 was 138. Your guest list will most likely depend on your budget. Obviously, the more people you invite, the more expensive your wedding will be.

When Matt and I made our initial guest list, we agreed that we wanted to keep it under 200 guests. With that in mind, we each came up with an individual list. As tempting as it may be to tell your fiancé not to invite his friend who constantly tells him he should be single, or his great aunt that you've always suspected doesn't like you, it's important to remember it's his big day too, and he should decide who he wants there. The exception to that rule is exes. Unless your future husband or wife and your ex are the best of friends (not likely), save yourself a lot of arguments and cross your ex off your list. (No, it doesn't matter that the two of you are just friends!)

To insure that I wouldn't forget anyone, I made separate lists of family, friends from high school, friends from college, family friends and church friends. Initially, I only wrote down immediate family. My mom's family is large and I didn't want to invite  relatives who I had only met a couple of times at family reunions. If my cousins were married, I invited their spouse; If they were single, I didn't give them the option of inviting a date. (In a revised list, I allowed my cousins to invite dates.)

When choosing friends from high school and college to invite, I used the guideline that if the last time I saw them they were wearing a cap and gown, they were not making the list. When choosing whether or not to invite an old friend, it's important to think of your individual friendship with that person and how much of an impact that they've had on you. As I tried to whittle down my list, I realized that there were people on my list who hung out in the same group of friends that I did, but I never would have hung out with that person alone. If you're trying to cut down your guest list, that could be someone to cross off.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Choosing your Bridesmaids

Deciding who will stand beside you on your big day is an important decision. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not selecting them to be one of your bridesmaids, but you don't want to follow 20 people down the aisle either. If you're having a longer engagement and choose your bridesmaids too early, by the time the wedding roles around you may be closer to one of your friends that you didn't select. Choosing your maid of honor is also an important decision. You want someone who you can rely on to not reveal anything too embarrassing during the toast, tell you if you look fat while you're trying on wedding dresses and hold your dress while you pee!
I chose my sister Erin to be my maid of honor.

Choosing a maid of honor was an easy decision for me. I have one sister, Erin, and she has known me all 23 years of my life, so there is no one who knows me better. (It may be more difficult for brides with more than one sister to decide who gets the top job.) When I was little, I wanted to be just like her. As we have both grown up, she has been the one who has been brutally honest about the guys I have dated, and she was the one who I cried to when those relationships didn't work out. I knew I could rely on her to help me make all the important decisions, to take me down a notch when I'm turning into a bridezilla and to ensure that the day will run as smoothly as possible.

Picking the rest of my bridal party was a little bit more difficult, but not because I didn't have plenty of great friends; it was the complete opposite. I have so many great friends and as much as I wanted them all to be part of my big day, it seemed completely ridiculous to have more people in the wedding party than guests at the wedding! The average number of bridesmaids in a wedding party is five, but I've been to weddings where there were eight bridesmaids. Your number of bridesmaids honestly just depends on what you want.