4 To-Dos Before You Say “I Do!” #IDo

As the owner of Music Box Invites, I have been working with brides for a little over a year now and I believe a lot of them don’t realize just how long it takes to plan a wedding. One of the main problems is that there are just TOO many options, too much information and brides today are used to living in a world of instant response (text, emails, skype) but the wedding industry is based on custom made goods and that takes longer.

To avoid the inevitable stress, here are some must-have tips every engaged person needs to keep in his or her repertoire – before they even plan the wedding date! So before you say I DO, Do ….

1.   Collect

Before choosing a date or venue, start collecting things you love about other weddings, gowns, tuxedos, venues, etc. You can keep a folder for each wedding item (flowers, invites, gowns, etc) and put the pictures, notes, torn out magazine pages in each folder. Another great place to collect the things you love is on Pinterest. I believe every bride needs a Pinterest board for her wedding. In fact, I suggest one board for each “folder”.  Then you can share that board with prospective vendors (the invitation board goes to invitation designer, flower board to florists, etc).

2.   Involve

Go over your collection of loved items with your spouse to be and get his or her input. I know most men are not that interested but involving them is a great way to get your marriage off to a good start. You guys are a team. At the very least, if he hates something you can take it out of the “folder”.

3.   Plan

After about a month of “collecting”, go back over the folder and narrow it down – decide your theme and colors, what time of the year you want to be married and what type of venue appeals the most to you. Get advice from your “guests to be” before looking at the venues and choosing a date.

Custom Invites can take up to 6 months!

Custom Invites can take up to 6 months!

4.   Schedule

Understand how long things take — gowns can take 6 months to come in, venues and best photographers are sometimes booked a year in advance, custom invitations can take 3 to 6 months. A bride must give herself time to get things done. I suggest assigning only one to two tasks a week to accomplish in order of the items that take the longest. Creating a timeline on excel can help*. Use your “dream” wedding date and then back up each week to see when you would need to start to get everything done without over-stressing yourself.


If you can afford it, seek out a wedding planner before making any decisions (but after your collection of folders). And meet with at least three before making a decision on which one to go with. Get references, read their reviews and see other work they have done.

*Joann Marks has an excel spreadsheet with tabs that will help any bride with their timeline, budget, guest list, etc – available free for the asking.

#Wedding Hacks: Simple Tricks for Your Big Day #Bigday

Wedding Hacks Simple Tricks for Your Big DayEveryone has high hopes for their wedding day. Will the weather cooperate? Is the minister going to show up on time? Will cousin David drink too much at cocktail hour? Some of these wedding day nightmares can be avoided, and some of them can’t, but with a few simple tricks, your wedding day can go as smoothly as possible.

Plan Ahead
When you get engaged, you may have already been planning your wedding in your head for months, or even years so you know exactly what you want. Or, you have no idea where to start. Either way, give yourself some time to make phone calls and schedule appointments. If you have a longer engagement, make a point to visit a dermatologist and Mar orthodontics. You will not regret putting time and effort into improving your skin and smile for your big day. You may even choose to invest in invisible braces in Edmonton, which can be timed perfectly to make your teeth straight and beautiful for your wedding photos.


Pale pink, gold and feather MUSICAL wedding invitations

Make Checklist
It is vital to have a checklist of everything that needs to be accomplished leading up to your wedding day. Have you ever tried going on a big grocery shopping trip without a list? You come home with a bunch of whatever you saw at the moment. Your wedding day is too important not to plan ahead for. As you accomplish the tasks on your checklist, cross them off so you can move on to the next project. For example, did you know that right after you choose your date and venue, you should begin working on your Save the Date and Custom Wedding Invitations?

Follow a Timeline
A timeline of scheduled events is another tool that will keep your wedding weekend running smoothly. Create a timeline of where people need to be, who needs to be there, what they need to be doing what, and what time it needs to happen. This will keep your bridal party from asking you an extra 100 questions when the big day arrives. You will be glad you did this when hair, makeup, and picture plans all have to be scheduled and followed closely. Have a cute time table written up on a blackboard as well, so your guests can follow along with you as you cut the cake, do the first dance and more.

On your special day, you want to be relaxed and enjoy the great event you have planned. It is very important to delegate beforehand, any tasks you need to be carried out so you are not running around trying to do them yourself. A wedding planner is an amazing investment if you can afford one. Just make sure you are clear about your expectations but be understanding if things don’t go exactly as planned.

Your wedding day can be a stress-free, beautiful event if you know a few tricks that will keep things running smoothly. All you will have to worry about is enjoying your time with your new spouse, family, and friends.




Days 2 & 3 of NYC #Wedding Dress Shopping #SayYesToTheDress

My goddaughter, Jessica is getting married and we both travelled to New York to begin the search for the perfect wedding dress. These are Days 2 and 3 of our hunt! Continued from And the hunt is on! NYC #Wedding Dress Shopping #SayYesToTheDress

Saturday afternoon – The Sample Room

The Sample Room is hidden away on a 2nd floor with no name outside, it was fun trying to find the place but we were actually 30 minutes early for NYC_gown_sampleroomour appointment and they let us in. Luckily we were the only ones there and had a nice consultant. But there just were not a lot of gowns to choose from. They had some fabulous fashion forward gowns but Jessica’s taste is much simpler than what they had in the store. There were $10,000 gowns for under $3,000 so I strongly suggest checking it out but remember the stock changes a lot. We were done in 30 minutes but really liked the people! We were allowed to take as many pictures as we wanted and Jess got to try on a Monique Lhullier gown. I saw many I liked but they were more elaborate and beaded (my style).


Selection: B- (but it changes)

Service: A (very nice, very accommodating, not pushy)

Sunday 11am – Mark Atelier

Jessica was able to get a last minute appointment for Sunday morning at 11 am at Mark Atelier. I was

Jessica in Mark Atelier

Jessica in Mark Atelier

needed elsewhere so she went alone.Their website had said that gowns were $5,000 and up but that was not the case at all when she got there. Jessica loved the consultant who took pictures for her and also really loved a very different gown (beaded top) and A-line organza bottom.


Selection: A

Service: A


Sunday afternoon – David’s Bridal

We did a walk in to David’s at about 2:50 on Sunday.We were told there were no 3 pm appointments but they could do a 4. We asked if we could look around first and he said sure. One weird thing was I asked where the sale rack was (huge sign on front door) and he said because they were a flagstaff store they didn’t have any sale dresses. But we found 3 racks of them! We went row by row and while there were a lot of gowns, we didn’t see anything even close to what we were looking for. We did see a lovely bridesmaid gown on a mannequin and we took pictures of that.


Selection: A

Service: A (I had looked at David’s for my gown two years ago and the consultant was fabulous but didn’t find “the” gown)

Sunday afternoon – Designer Loft

We took a chance and went with no appointment and were very welcomed by Linzy. We looked at all the racks and only found a couple of gowns that had the elements Jessica liked but not as much as the other ones she tried on earlier. I saw a gown I truly loved but again it was not Jessica’s style. It is a lovely store with a nice staff. I did notice more gowns in the back (and Linzy went and got one) but we were not able to go and search those racks for some reason. I assume Linzy found the best that suited Jessica but you really never know until you try something on.


Selection: B (just not enough gowns)

Service: A

Jessica with her fiancé Nick

Jessica with her fiancé Nick

Our next steps are to do more research on the brands and styles we liked the best and then try to find those gowns to try on. I think we have made great progress and will be able to choose the perfect gown soon!

And the hunt is on! NYC #Wedding Dress Shopping #SayYesToTheDress

My goddaughter, Jessica is getting married and I am helping her with the wedding. First job: find the perfect gown! Jessica lives in Philadelphia and I live in Orlando, but we decided we had to do shopping in New York so we met over Mother’s Day weekend to begin the search.

I made appointments at the most popular Bridal Salons in New York (this is a requirement, don’t just show up as you will probably get turned away). Jessica loves the show “Say Yes to the Dress” so she wanted to go to Kleinfelds. So we made that the first appointment on Friday. We then had an afternoon appointment at Lovely Bride. On Saturday, we went to RK Bridal and the Sample Room. Sunday was Mark Atlier, David’s Bridal (walk in) and the Designer Loft.

NYC_Gown_Shopping_10Jessica did her homework and brought pictures of gowns she liked and overall, her choices were a sweetheart neckline and an a-line style dress. She also wanted to see what she looked like in some other styles as well. Since most appointments are only 60-90 minutes, it is important to let your consultant know your theme, the wedding date, WHERE the wedding will take place so they can help you narrow down your choices. If your wedding is outdoors in the summer, a satin dress heavily beaded is a bad choice. So if that is the gown of your dreams, re-think the outside ceremony and move it inside.

Jessica’s venue is not finalized yet but the date will be late April or early May 2015 and she wants a tented outdoors reception – preferably in a garden atmosphere. So we want the dress to be more light and airy and comfortable.

We were looking at gowns up to $5,000 but really wanted to keep it under $3,000 if possible. Here are our results.

Friday 11 am – Klienfelds

We were greeted right on time by “Judith” and taken to a room where we discussed the details of the wedding and looked at the pictures we brought.

2014-05-09 12.09.40Kleinfelds was having an Augusta Jones trunk sale and Judith was steering us towards ONLY trying those on. We did like a couple of those gowns but really wanted to be able to look at lots of gowns in our style and choose some to try on. Instead we only were able to look at four racks and choose from them. Then Judith brought in a couple more gowns from other designers when we really pushed her. It really was a huge disappointment to us since it was obvious she was not going to be more agreeable. Plus, she was trying to convince us that if we wanted one of those gowns we liked, we could only get the discount that day. On the nice side, the representative of Augusta Jones was very helpful and let us know that a lot of things could be customized. For example, the gown we liked the best had a lovely lining of sequins under some layers of tulle. Therefore, the dress sparkled when she moved. Unfortunately, the tulle was getting caught in the tulle. We felt that organza would have worked better and the representative agreed and said it could be done for about $300 more.

The other disappointment was that they don’t “allow” pictures to be taken. This is the most ridiculous rule that many bridal salons have. They think you are going to use the picture to have the dress made or find it wholesale. But you have to see what you look like in pictures. Trust me – it is NOT what you look like in the mirror. If the dress doesn’t photograph well, there is nothing you will be able to do to fix it. She finally relented and let us take pictures of the couple we liked the best but stuck in the small room – not anywhere where it would really photograph better.2014-05-09 11.15.25

We are still considering that Augusta Jones gown or one that has some similar features – the sequin lining for example. This gown (with the organza changes) is possibility #1. We took video of her walking in it and really love the way it moves and shimmers.


Selection: D (we know they have hundreds of gowns but we were not allowed to see them)

Service: B-  Judith was very knowledgeable but she was obviously more interested in a sale than in us.

What we learned – ask if things can be changed/customized by the designer and that a belt changes the look drastically.

Friday 2 pm – Lovely Bride

Lovely Bride is a cute loft-like store with good natural light and lovely helpful staff. We were very comfortable with our consultant. She used to work for Kleinfelds and told us that she left because of their pushy policies. She wants “her” brides to find their perfect gown and knows most people don’t buy on their first visit. She listened to Jessica’s wedding plans and what she liked so far in gowns and then we were able to go and choose as many gowns as we liked. There were about 8 racks of dresses so the selection was not overwhelming but we were able to find at least 8 to try on.

One gown that really caught Jessica’s attention was designed by a project runway winner. It had the sweetheart top and A-line shape. What we liked were the organza layers that floated when she walked. We added a crystal embellished belt (always remember that a belt can change the look of almost any gown dramatically). We loved the space in the back where natural light poured in and Jessica could walk around and see how the gown moved. We always had her sit down in the gown as well to see how it looks and feels while seated. We were still hoping to find a gown that had the sequin lining but they didn’t have one. They did have some sequined gowns and an organza removable skirt so we tried that on to see how that would work.NYC_Gown_Shopping_4

There is also a Lovely Bride in Philadelphia and Jessica plans on visiting that one as well. The project runway dress is possibility #2 so far.


Selection: B- (there just were not that many dresses to choose from)

Service: A (we really liked it there – we would have liked a little longer appointment – they are 60 minutes and I think 90 is more reasonable.

What we learned: There are tons of little known brands that are high quality and priced well; don’t be a designer snob.

Saturday noon – RK Bridal

RK is a very different type of bridal store and there are no appointments; you need to be in by 12:30 to try gowns on. To start, it is not “pretty” but looks like a warehouse of gowns. You go in and sign in on a sheet and then find 4-5 gowns you like and get assigned a consultant. If the wait is long, you have no where to put your things down (coat, purses) because the seats are for the active appointments. If your wait is SHORT, you don’t have time to really look over the overwhelming, vast selection. There are literally thousands of gowns in this store of all brands and prices. PLUS, a very large section of 50% off sample gowns (once the brand discontinues them, RK marks the gown they were using as a sample down). The discounted section was larger than Lovely Brides entire selection. So obviously, this store requires a lot of time to look. My suggestion is NOT to sign in right away but browse. You really are limited to 5 gowns on your first go around. After that the better consultants (I recommend Cheryl and Janice) will go find gowns for you to try on that fit what you are liking best. These consultants are amazing on how well they know the stock. I mean there are SO many gowns tightly packed on the racks. And if you are a plus size bride (DIVA), they have a section just for you. Plus there are bridesmaids and flower girl gowns as well.

Anyway, after a lot of trial (Jessica was trying on some very different styles), we kind of fell in love with parts of TWO gowns. One was a Mikaella and the other was Paloma Picasso (who owns Mikaella). The Mikaella had a lovely “apron” layered front and a satin sweetheart top. The Paloma Picasso had a lot of layers and a lace sweetheard top. Jessica liked the top of the Paloma better and the bottom of the Mikaella – but maybe with a couple more layers higher up. Surprisingly, the Paloma photographed better but Jess is still not sure she likes that many layers – she thinks she has seen that too many times and she wants something very different.

Janice, our consultant found out that it WAS possible to mix tops/bottoms and was going to contact the factory to see what the pricing would be. We really liked RK but wish we had been allowed to search the racks more on our own. Jessica plans on making a 2nd (and probably 3rd) visit.


Selection: A++

Service: B+ (while Janice was lovely, there was one extremely rude and bossy consultant who was practically yelling at people and other consultants. We also don’t like the no pictures rule (we had to hide in the room to take pictures). When I bought a gown from RK a couple of years prior, they didn’t let me take the pictures till I agreed to buy the gown. It wasn’t until after we got home I saw the pictures and was shocked on how bad the gown looked.

What we learned: More selection can be overwhelming – make sure to have enough time to look and make sure your consultant is willing to pull more than the original 4-5 gowns.

Continued here!

Wedding Wednesday: Mariel & Milton’s Fairy Tale #Wedding

 Ceremony and Reception 
© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

Mariel Hernández married the love of her life, Milton Carrero, on May 27, 2012 in Moca, Puerto Rico. They wanted an outdoor wedding that was not at the beach so they chose the beautiful Palacete Los Moreau, a French-style castle turned museum.

As the bride walked down the aisle, she shimmered in her Maggie Sottero gown, underneath which were Badgley Mischka bridal pumps. Not one to wear a traditional veil, her eyes were covered by a whimsical birdcage veilDidi Saldana was able to perfectly capture the hair and makeup look that she desired.


© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

One of their favorite elements were the Wish Lanterns.

At the end of the reception, guests were invited to light up the sky with a wish using White Eco Wish Lanterns. These wish lanterns are made with rice paper on a bamboo frame that will biodegrade soon after landing so that it keeps the beautiful venue green and healthy.

The couple also used biodegradable confetti.



  Guest Favors 
© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

To thank guests for coming, Mariel incorporated her love of fortune cookies into the wedding favors. Inside each takeout box was a colored fortune cookie with the message “As we start our new journey we want to thank you for coming aboard and celebrating with us.” Mariel used her innovation to make the tags on the custom takeout boxes using scrapbooking materials.



 Treasured Moments 
© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

© Glen Weisgerber, 2012

Friends and family who attended were involved in this special day more than once. During the reception they were invited to share their table cards which had the names of places where the couple shared special moments together, like their favorite beach, first kiss, first date, favorite restaurant, and the proposal.

The couple treasured many moments from their wedding, among them- their first night as a married couple at Villa Montaña Beach Resort and a custom music video featuring the couple by Fortaleza Mia Ministry.






Mariel and Milton loved their 24-day Mediterranean Romance Cruise aboard Ms. Nieuw Amsterdam from Holland American Line, followed by three days in Barcelona, Spain!





 Recommended Invitation 

We think that our musical invitation Amethyst Damask would have suited Mariel and Milton’s classy and conscientious wedding nicely.





Allow us to feature your wedding next! Send an email to kristina@musicboxinvites.com and we will follow up with the next steps.

More Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Photographer – #wedding

Hardy 3How do you find the perfect photographer? There are different methods used to figure out how much to budget for the photographer but that doesn’t guarantee you will find the perfect one by looking only at your budget.  I photographed weddings where the bride spend half of her budget on the photography and others where I was a tenth of the budget. This only gives you an idea on how the importance of photography varies from client to client.

Here are some tips on choosing your wedding photographer:

  1. Google – Of course this should be a great resource to find everything you need for your wedding- but beware! All the photographers listed on, let’s say the first 2 pages, tell you one thing and one thing only: ” I am an expert on how to work this search engine”. The photographers you like and the ones who secure your perfect wedding photo with a lot of experience may be further in the back of your Google search result. So go there and give them a chance.
  2. Wedding consultants – Here is a great approach to help you to plan your perfect wedding day. All the photographers a consultant will refer to you are pre-approved and within your budget. The only decision you have to make is whether you like the person or not. No trial and error involved.
  3. Photos – This is an obvious one… of course the photos will tell you who is good and who is not, but is this enough for you to make a good decision? I don’t think so. Think about this: The photographer will be the person who spends more time with you on your wedding day than your fiancée. You need to have a great rapport with the photographer to get the best pictures. Make sure you LIKE the photographer and feel he will take directions from you and remember to get the shots you give him on your shot list.
  4. Questions about the equipment – Tools are important. I have to admit I always have a little smile on my face when I see those photographer websites: “What is in my bag.” You find all this stuff they carry around. The questions that always comes is: How do they get all this equipment fast enough from point A to point B, when the wedding couple is moving? If this photographer has to leave his equipment somewhere to follow the couple, will he/she more worried about the equipment being stolen or how to get the best photo of you? Don’t judge a photographer by his equipment, take a good look at his/her photos.Hardy 5
  5. Friend’s referral – You have seen him/her work at your friend’s wedding. That is probably the best resource you can have. You see everything; how he/she works, you will see the photos after your friend’s wedding is over and you get the inside scoop on how the photographer handles the work on your friend’s album. I don’t think there is a better way to find a good photographer than a personal recommendation.
  6. Advertising in magazines – Many photographers use ads to get their name out and you should start here to find one. I can see the fun, you just got engaged and now you are sitting with all your girlfriends, a bottle of wine and a bunch of wedding magazines in your apartment planning the big day. Here is a thought; every town has this one restaurant everyone is talking about, but you just can’t find it. They don’t have a website, they don’t advertise. When you finally get the phone number to make reservations, you are informed that they are booked out for the next three weeks. How does this work? Good service, great products and a good name does not need advertising. People start talking about it. So listen to your friends, they might have name for you.
  7. Meeting with the photographer – “10 questions to ask your photographer when you meet with him the first time.” Oh, we vendors love those forms in the magazines. Sometimes I’m tempted to write an article: 10 tips on how to find a good wedding magazine! Believe me these forms wouldn’t be one of them. Don’t get me wrong, those questions are a start but they won’t tell you anything about the photographer. We all know those question catalogs and we all have the answers ready for you. Please ask new questions, personal questions which are important to you and your event. Bring your mom and your fiancée to the first meeting. I always encourage my brides to bring their fiancées and their moms to the first meeting.
  8. Slide shows during your wedding reception. This point is a big one. Let’s be frank: You hired a wedding photographer and not an entertainer for the wedding reception. Here is another inside scoop for you: Those instant slideshows at your reception have only one purpose for the photographer: advertising! I don’t think you would like the DJ having a big banner hanging across the dance floor with his name and phone number on it, so why would you want a table in the room, surrounded by half of your guests, with a laptop in the middle playing photos of your wedding?
  9. Uncle Harry – May I introduce to you America’s busiest photographer: Uncle Harry is still in business and his name stands for all the friends and relatives who have a camera, like to take photos and offer the wedding couple their help. We thank you for that Uncle Harry, but No Thank You! We want to be sure uncle Harry has the same fun time at your wedding as does everybody else in the family. Your wedding day is the story of two families joining together and a story about love and emotions. Do you really want this to be documented by someone with no experience? Uncle Harry has the tendency to only photograph his family side. He does not know the other people at your wedding, so they are not important to him. The time will come when he will ask himself the question: Do I still need to be the photographer, or can I change to be a guest? I promise you he will decide to be a guest. Photos from the cake cutting will be taken from his table. Too bad that you didn’t hear him calling you to turn around and smile into the camera. The details of your wonderful decor, Uncle Harry didn’t think that this was important to you, so he wouldn’t waste any time on photographing it.
  10. Hardy 9 It’s your day, your show – The documentation of your day should be the photographer’s priority number 1. Hire a photographer with this in mind and not just be there to fill up his portfolio. Let the photographer be “the fly on the wall” who tells your amazing wedding day story. The best complement I received from a client was “your photos showed me the most wonderful moments of my wedding day I didn’t even know that I had them”. This is what wedding photography should be all about.


About our guest Author

Colorado Wedding Photographer, Hardy Klahold is pleased to bring you this article on choosing the best wedding photographer for you. If you are interested in seeing his work, be sure to check out his website at http://www.hardyklaholdphotography.com/.


How to work with an Invitation Designer

SunnyThumbSo you have a major event on the horizon – the wedding of your dreams, your parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, your daughter’s high school graduation – and you need the perfect invitations. Your invitations will help set the tone for your entire event, giving guests a preview of what’s to come, whether your event is formal, casual or whimsical. Your invitations should also be infused with your personality and those extra personal touches.


In order to make this happen, it’s important to establish a good working relationship with your invitation designer so you end up with the perfect finished product. So here are some tips on how to work with an Invitation Designer to get the perfect custom invitation of your dreams.

Discuss the Basics

When planning your wedding or other event, the first thing you should go over with your designer is invitation basics. A good place to start is to discuss different types of paper quality. For example, do you want a matte paper, something with texture, something metallic or perhaps paper that’s been recycled? Be sure to do this in person so you can see and touch the options that are available.

This is also the time to consider different colors for your invitations. If you want to match your invitations to your color scheme, it can help to bring in a fabric swatch in order to find the perfect match. Keep in mind that different colors impart different feelings. For example, white and off-white are classic wedding choices, pink denotes love and blue is associated with peace and tranquility. Make sure you choose a color that feels right to you and works with all your other invitation elements.

Another important part of your invitation to discuss upfront with your designer is font style. Choices are virtually limitless, with options ranging from fancy, flowery scripts to Art Deco sophisticated to whimsical and light. Be sure to also discuss word limits with your designer and have a general idea of what you would like to say.

Iron Out the Details

Once you have worked out the basics, it’s time to inject some personal style into your invitations. Perhaps you’re passionate about flowers and want them prominently displayed on your invitation. Maybe you want to use a special photograph. If your husband-to-be is a motorcycle attorney and you both love to ride, find a way to incorporate that into your invitation. If you can dream it, it can be done.gatsby-2

Your designer may find it helpful if you bring personal items in to help in the design process. If you have a particular style in mind it’s helpful to provide examples, such as an antique plate’s colors and style or an inspiring photograph. The more you bring with you and the more details you provide, the easier it will be for the designer to hone in on your concept and bring it to reality. Joann Marks, founder of Music Box Invites suggests that brides and the designer set up an Pinterest Account so they can share ideas easily.

The designer should provide you with several mock-up designs, and from these you can zero in on what you like best. This is also the time to make subtle changes if any are needed. Once you have a final selection, be sure to proof it carefully and even enlist a friend to do so. The more eyes on it, the better. Another tip that the designers at Music Box Invites found helpful is to read the invitation backwards!

Designing your ideal invitation takes time and effort, but the results will be well worth it. You will have an invitation that reflects your own personal style and personality and encapsulates your special event in a perfect little package.

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer who loves social media, music, and the French language. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin or visit her blog, Design Roast.

How to have a small wedding without offending anyone

downloadA wedding is meant to be a beautiful and lasting event that is shared between two people who are in love. However, far too often the wedding can be turned into a much larger ordeal that requires hundreds of invitations and place settings for the reception. In doing this, large weddings open themselves up to a variety of issues, including the possibility that not everybody will get along, which can throw the entire event into dismay. Therefore, many people are opt for smaller weddings that are easier to manage and more dedicated to the love between the two people tying the knot. If you are looking to have a small wedding, but you don’t want to offend anyone by not inviting them, here are some tips to consider.

Choose A Smaller Venue
People that get left off the invitation list can’t say too much, if they understand up front that your venue is smaller and that there simply isn’t enough room for them to come. Sure, you can go with a venue that’s larger, but choosing a smaller venue not only allows you to limit who you invite, but it also makes the weeding a more intimate setting.

Explain The Budget
Weddings can be incredibly expensive. And anyone who has had their own wedding, will be able to attest to the fact that it quickly adds up with each person that is invited. While it may not always be the easiest thing to say, if you admit to their not being a large enough budget to invite everyone, it becomes an issue that people won’t want to harp upon. After all, anyone who wants to give a newlywed couple issues about money probably shouldn’t be at the wedding anyways. And if you really want to take it to another level, you can explain that the budget is out of your hands and that you were told what it is by the people paying for the wedding, which is typically the family of the bride. Talking budget may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s a logical way of getting out of having to invite people without offending them.

Wording The Invitation
No matter what excuse you come up with to avoid inviting people, you want to make sure that your invitation limits the amount of guests that are brought or people who want to be added to the list. In order to do this, you put the exact name of the person or couple invited. You do not put “and guest” or give any indication that guests are allowed. If a response comes back with a higher number than you expected, you then can explain to them that this is a small, intimate wedding and unfortunately you can’t have them bring a guest.  Another option is to send out wedding announcements that aren’t invitations. Instead, you use this as a way of letting people know that you are getting married and you can tell them that you want to get together after all the madness of the wedding has settled down.

Avoid The Issue
Having a wedding is difficult, but you might be surprised to find out how difficult it is for people to attend weddings as well. After all, coming up with a gift, finding something to wear and taking time out of a schedule makes for a lot of effort just to attend the wedding. If you want, you can avoid the issue of inviting those “extra” people to the wedding all together. You may be surprised to find out that people are relieved that they don’t have to go. The flow chart  is helpful in deciding who makes the cut if both you and your fiancee agree to the same terms.

There are a variety of different ways to keep your wedding small. And while it may not feel entirely comfortable at first, keep in mind the tips on this list when telling people why your wedding is limited in size. Remember- this is your special day, and you have a right to have the kind of wedding you want!


Milena James is an event planner, world traveler, and published writer from Tucson, Arizona. She writes reviews of Arizona resorts, restaurants, and travel destinations around the world.

Real Weddings: Tyson- Marks #Wedding April 14, 2012

Joann & Doug  0612For the first REAL Weddings Submission, I am posting my own wedding which was (in my opinion) PERFECT!

The overall theme of our wedding was “classic Hollywood”. We wanted the feel of a 1940’s Hollywood hotspot like Ciro’s or the Coconut Club and we planned our wedding date around local celebrity, Michael Andrew’s schedule because he was the perfect fit for that type of event.

I planned the wedding myself with no wedding planner and managed every detail so that by the day of, I was completely relaxed. I used an excel spreadsheet timeline that I will share for FREE – you can download it here.

The invitations probably took more time and energy then the rest of the affair. I wanted something special so that when the guests opened it, they knew what the evening would be like. I was surprised I was unable to find musical invitations so I set about to create them myself. Beginning with a custom invitation I added more details and configured a beautiful box that sang “Fly Me to the Moon” (my first dance music) when opened.


We also made our Rehearsal Dinner and Day After Brunch invites look like old movie posters (Dinner at Eight and Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Our photographer was Sterling Photography and we our photo engagement session was done in old Hollywood poses so we had those images to use on our menus and posters.


Finding a gown was harder than I thought! But when I put on the Justin Alexander I knew I had to have that dress. The dress was extremely flattering, sophisticated and comfortable plus had a slightly 1940’s feel to it! My hair and makeup was done by Dawn Henderson of The Loft at Dawchers. I felt like a movie star walking down the aisle (with my handsome nephew escorting me).Joann & Doug  0190

The setting for the wedding was Interlachen Country Club which is 3 minutes from our house. The Country Club is very elegant and their chef is outstanding. The ceremony was on the golf course facing the lake. It was a very intimate occasion with only 54 guests. I had no bridesmaids but my niece, Nicole LeBlanc, was my flower girl and my nephew, Devin Day walked me down the aisle. My other two nephews were in charge of seating everyone. Nicole walked down the aisle to Somewhere over the Rainbow and I walked to the traditional Here comes the Bride. Doug and I wrote our own vows and mine had references to movies. His were very sweet and funny as well. Afterwards, we exited to The Best is Yet to Come.


After the ceremony, the guests were ushered into the cocktail lounge where we had a three piece jazz band performing, open bar and appetizers passed around– Beef Wellingtons, Escargot in Brioche, Quiches and Cheese Puffs. The center of the room was the cake table complete with three cakes and the guests favors (with escort cards attached) – which were a CD of Michael Andrew’s Tribute to Sinatra . The cocktail high boys had feather centerpieces.   The cakes were done by Everything Cake – Alejandra Rodriguez. The linens were from Over the Top. After formal pictures, Doug and I joined the cocktail hour to meet and greet our guests. Then I left to change into my “dancing gown” – lots of sparkle in pearls and sequins but light as a feather and easy to dance in.

The ballroom was set with a huge dance floor and the bandstand was the focus. We had a “gobo” light behind the band. Ten guest tables were arranged around the dance floor. Each table was decorated in black, silver and pearl. We had sequined toppers over silver lame tablecloths and black beaded placemats. The centerpieces were tall black candelabras with crystal swag on them.  Around the centerpieces were rhinestone candle holders and votives that were made by me since I couldn’t find any to purchase. The evening was lit mostly by candlelight. Each table was named after a famous Hollywood couple and each table’s menu had a story on that couple. When some guests discovered each table was different, they set out to try and collect all ten so I know they were a hit! Guests were in black tie and everyone looked fabulous.

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We entered and immediately begin our first dance as man and wife to Fly me to the Moon. We had been taking dance lessons for almost three years and spent the last year on this one dance which was choreographed by Michael Dean, our dance instructor! After our perfect dance, we toasted each other and everyone got up and danced and the night was in full swing. The meal was perfect (guests had chosen from Chateaubriand, Salmon en croute and Chef’s creation Pear Chicken), champagne and wine flowed and people danced.

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But perhaps my favorite part of the evening was our Sparkler Exit. I changed back into gown #1 and we went to exit under the stars and the sparklers. Because we had long sparklers and a short walk,  we had time to do it 4 times, with our guests shouting “one more time”. As we got ready to get into our car, our guests all spontaneously started serenading us to “Fly me to the Moon”. It was truly magical.

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We drove home and my new husband carried me over the threshold! It was the perfect wedding; I wish I could do it over and over again.

Outdoor Wedding: 6 Important Details That Are Easy to Overlook

outdoor wedding

There are a lot of details that go into an outdoor wedding. Most likely you have already taken some of the bigger issues into mind such as having a back-up plan in case of bad weather, and parking for your all of your guests. However, there may have been a few small details that you may want to consider before finalizing your plans.

First of all, make sure that your wedding invitation clearly states that the wedding is being held outdoors and you might want to remind guests on your wedding website as well so that they bring a wrap or wear proper shoes. Here are 6 other things to consider as well.


Make sure to check out the sun’s position at the time of your ceremony. Not only do you not want the sun in your eyes, you do not want to having it glaring in your guests’ eyes either. Also will the sun be in a good position for photos? If the sun will be setting before the end of the wedding, make sure that everyone is left in the dark.


Where there are flowers, there are bugs. Take this into consideration when planning your flowers. Go with flowers that tend not to attract bugs. There are a variety of different bug repellents on the market such as candles and sprays that can be used to help keep the bugs away.


There are two different factors to take into consideration. Will the guests be able to hear during the ceremony or will a sound system be needed? Will surrounding noises from traffic or other activities disturb the wedding?


When booking your caterer inform them that you are having an outside wedding. Certain precautions will need to be taken to make sure that food is kept properly. Cold foods need to be kept cold and warm foods warm. It would also be a good idea to tell your bakery that your wedding cake is going to be outside. Certain icings such as buttercream have a tendency to melt.


Portable restrooms will most likely be needed if you are having your wedding in place where they are not conveniently located. Do not expect your guests, especially children, to not need a restroom. Contract a company like Cincinnati Trash Collection to bring nicer restrooms to your wedding, or plan your event near a building with restrooms that your guests can use.


Make sure that your guests understand that it is going to be an outside wedding and they should dress accordingly. You do not want guests passing out in the heat because they overdressed. Stress to the women to leave their good shoes at home.

A successful outdoor wedding takes a lot of planning. Make sure that all the details are covered to prevent any problems. Not only will you enjoy your day but so will your guests.

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