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Helpful Tips

Please use the links below to find helpful information for your wedding. If you need additional help or have more questions, please contact us by email or call 1-800-257-9567.

Seating Your Guests
Keeping Everyone Informed
Memorable Photos
Help From Friends
Envelope Etiquette
Assembling Invitations
Keeping Children Busy!
Slide Show: "The Way You Were"
Candle-Lighting Ceremony
Choosing Your Wedding Cake Style
Wedding Gift Security
Writing Thank You Notes
Writing Your Own Vows

Seating Your Guests
Seating the bride's family on the left side and the groom's on the right dates back to when a groom had to protect his bride from capture. He held her at his left to keep his right arm free to fight, and their families stood at their sides. Seating special guests, as well as those with difficult relationships, still requires thoughtful and careful planning.

Divorced parents: The parent who raised the child is seated in the first row (with spouse or guest). If the parents are comfortable, they may both be seated in the first row; if not, the other parent is seated in the second row (with spouse or guest).

Honored guests: Reserve places for such special people as grandparents and godparents with bows or pew markers. The groom may escort them to their seats while a song you have chosen is sung or played.

Elderly guests: Make sure they are seated where they can best see and hear what is taking place.

Guests with children: Seat them where they can see yet are able to leave discreetly if needed. Provide books or quiet toys to occupy busy little hands.

Uneven guest attendance: Seat guests on either side, regardless of their relationship to the couple, to keep seating equal on both sides.
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Keeping Everyone Informed
To help make our wedding day and the weeks prior to it run smoothly, be sure to keep everyone in the wedding party informed of upcoming events, important dates and times. And it's easy to do this:

- Give each bridal party member a calendar filled with important dates and times, such as dress or tuxedo fittings, the bridesmaids' luncheon, the rehearsal time or when the photo session begins.

- Send out a monthly wedding "newsletter" (make it weekly as the wedding gets closer) to keep your wedding party and participants informed of your latest decisions, any schedule changes, parties or showers they will be invited to and what to expect on the day of the wedding. Use a pretty wedding design at the top and have it photocopied on bright paper so recipients will know right away what it contains.
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Memorable Photos
Most photographers have a list of standard poses they take at every wedding. If you'd like more unique photos for your album, be sure to ask during the initial consultation if the photographer is willing. Also ask if you will be charged extra for non-standard photos, especially if they're taken at sites other than the ceremony. Then:

- Look through magazines, albums and books for ideas; note poses and special effects you like.

- Consider special locations (the park bench where he proposed or your grandmother's garden).

- Think of people you would like to be photographed with (a close cousin or the college gang).

- Note poses you don't want (in case of touchy relationships between divorced parents, etc.).

Compile your ideas and give a list to your photographer at least a month before the wedding so he or she can prepare. Then, for a smooth photo session:

- Inform those involved of where and when photos will be taken.

- Ask a relative or personal attendant to point people out.

- Relax and let the photographer direct the show.
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Help From Friends
When people find out you're planning a wedding, they're often genuinely interested and ask what they can do to help. Following are some tasks you'll need assistance with and ideas of what you could ask others to do.

- assemble, address and put stamps on envelopes (especially if your guest list is very large)

- make or assemble favors

- greet guests at the airport

- provide transportation to and from the wedding for elderly guests who are unable to drive

- decorate (provide helpers with a sketch of what goes where)

- organize and serve pre-wedding snacks for the bridal party

- pin corsages and boutonnieres (must be someone who knows everyone receiving flowers)

- take candid photos before and during the wedding celebration (provide several rolls of film)

- guard your car to protect it from overzealous decorators

- set up and attend the gift table and monitor it at all times

- transport the gifts to your home

- take down decorations and straighten the sites afterward

- act as a designated driver
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Envelope Etiquette
When addressing your wedding invitation envelopes, use your most elegant penmanship. Address your envelopes according to the following etiquette:

Inner Envelopes
- Exclude the first names of the recipients.
Example: Mr. and Mrs. Wendland

- Write the first names of children to be invited below the parents' names in order of age.
Example: Mr. and Mrs. Wendland
Alyssa, Megan and Ben

- Children over the age of 16 should receive their own wedding invitations.

- Omit children's names if you are planning an adults-only wedding celebration.

- If an invitation to a single guest extends to an unknown escort, address the inner envelope with your friend's name followed by "and Guest."
Example: Miss Modory and Guest

Outer envelopes
- Use full names and formal titles. Do not abbreviate
(except for Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.).

- Do not use symbols. Spell out the word "and."

- Do not use initials. Spell out all names.

- Do not write "and family" if children are to be included in the invitation. (See "Inner Envelopes")

- Use figures only when writing house numbers and zip codes.
Example: 1291 Tanglewood Lane

- Write out the words "Street", "Boulevard," "Avenue," etc.

- Do not abbreviate state names.
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Assembling Invitations
Once you receive your invitations and envelopes, you may wonder how to put them all together. Follow these simple directions for a perfectly assembled ensemble:

Arranging the enclosures
Enclosures should be arranged with reception cards next to the invitation, followed by response cards (tuck the card under the flap of the response envelope) with map cards last.
For vertical or horizontal folders with your wording printed inside, place the enclosure cards inside.
For vertical or horizontal folders with your wording printed on the front, or for invitation cards, place the enclosures in front.
For French-folds, z-folds or tri-folds, enclosures are placed inside the second fold.

Inserting into envelopes
Insert invitations into inner envelopes folded edge first (wording or design facing you).
Place inner envelopes in outer envelopes with the front of the inner envelopes facing you.
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Keeping Children Busy!
If your guest list includes families with young children, do some planning to help keep those little hands busy.

- Reserve a section of the reception site just for children and, if possible, have some child-size tables and chairs brought in.

- Place stickers, boxes of crayons, coloring books and plain paper at each table so children can have fun expressing their creative sides.

- Purchase extra scroll rings and favor boxes for the children to play with during the reception and to take home as souvenirs.

- Ask a friend to be the area supervisor so parents can socialize.
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Slideshow: "The Way You Were"
Treat your reception guests to a slide show featuring all those special (or cute, proud, funny, most embarrassing, etc.) moments of your lives.

- Ask your families to select their favorite photographs of both of you from infancy on.

- Develop a digital slide show on your computer. Scan actual photos and create a CD for easy transfer to a computer.

- Rent or borrow a digital projector to display your slide show at the reception.

- Create a playlist or a CD for background music during the slide show. Be sure to have a portable CD player at the reception if needed.

- Recruit a friend or relative in advance to be in charge of running the slide show and music.

- Be sure to announce the slide show in plenty of time for guests to return to their seats.
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Candle-Lighting Ceremony
This candle-lighting ceremony is a wonderful way to include your guests and families in your service:
- Have the ushers hand a small candle with a drip guard to each guest as they arrive.

- Just before you light the unity candle, have an usher light the candle of the first guest in the back row on both sides of the church. That guest will light the candle of the next guest, and so on, working from the back of the church to the front. Have your music played during this time.

- When your parents have lit their candles, light your tapers from your parents' candles. Then light your unity candle, surrounded by music and the warm glow of a church filled with candlelight.

- Lighting tip: The guest with the lit candle holds it upright and the next guest tips his or her candle and lights from it. This prevents hot wax from dripping on your guests' hands. Print this note in your program so guests are prepared.
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Choosing Your Wedding Cake Style
Have you ever given your stylist a picture of a haircut you liked, only to be disappointed when your hair didn't turn out like the photo? The same is true for wedding cakes - they usually won't end up looking exactly as they do in the picture you give the baker. To get an accurate idea of how your cake will look, browse through photos of cakes your baker has made for other weddings. And don't forget to mention what type and size of cake top you want to use so your baker can create an appropriately sized top layer.
Cake Tops
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Wedding Gift Security
Many wedding guests bring gifts to the reception instead of having them delivered to your home. To prevent gifts from being damaged or stolen:
- Ask a friend or relative to be your gift table attendant and to keep an eye on the wishing well where monetary gifts are placed; it's a sad fact that thieves often target weddings to steal unguarded gifts.

- Provide an emergency kit: tape (for securing cards to packages or repairing torn wrappings), a pen, extra boxes and packing material (for transporting fragile gifts).

- Arrange to have the gifts taken to a safe location after the reception.

- Remember, thieves often watch to see where wedding gifts are being delivered and for the house to be left empty. To help prevent robbery while you are on your honeymoon, invite someone to housesit for you or ask to store the gifts with friends or relatives until you return.
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Writing Thank You Notes
If you encounter an awkward situation while writing thank you notes, don't panic! Just follow these helpful hints:
- For duplicate gifts - thank the giver for the gift and don't mention that it was a duplicate or what you exchanged it for.

- For broken gifts - most retailers will replace broken merchandise shipped from their store. If they won't replace it, simply thank the giver without mentioning that the gift was broken.

- When you're not sure what the gift is - mention what it's made of (wood, china, etc.) and use descriptive words like "unique", "special" or "one-of-a-kind" when thanking the giver.

- Our thank you guide offers more practical advice on writing warm, memorable notes.
Thank You Notes
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Writing Your Own Vows
Writing your own vows doesn't have to be nerve-wracking. If you don't know where to begin, think of your original vows simply as personal promises you'll make to each other. Your answers to the following questions will help you start writing meaningful vows.

- What meaning does "your song" have for you? (e.g., if it reminds you of your first dance together, you might say: "I promise to make every day with you as romantic as our first dance together.")

- What do you cherish about the moment you fell in love? (e.g., if you realized you felt safe and accepted, you might say: "I promise to be your safe haven and always love you for who you are.")

- How does the most inspirational poem you have read relate to how you'd like to build your marriage?

- How has your partner changed or added to your life? Original vows should include things that are unique and special to you. but remember that a wedding is a public ceremony, and your vows will be heard not only by your intended but also by your guests. Very private and personal issues, as well as trivial jokes, are best left out.
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