In today’s wedding industry, everything is optional when it comes to the old wedding industries. Couples are choosing much more non-traditional routes from the color of the dress to the order of the event. To help you decide whether or not to include these traditions, today we look at the pros and cons of including or excluding these traditions.

Bouquet & Garter Toss
For many brides, the bouquet toss is something that they have been looking forward to for quite a while. As a little girl, I was always so excited to be a part of that tradition. It’s exciting and competitive and gets you out of your seat. Now, though, as a single woman being invited to more weddings each summer, that group of bouquet catchers is getting slimmer and slimmer with every event. Be sure to keep in mind how many single ladies are on your guest list before you invite them all up to catch your bouquet. Depending on the number, it could be more embarrassing than exciting!

Bouquet toss at wedding

Introductions
The manner in which you and your wedding party are introduced has also become a topic of conversation. This is one that a lot of couples don’t even think about being optional. If you and your new spouse don’t love having all the attention on you, opt for a low-key entrance, blending and conversing with the rest of your guests for the cocktail hour. Including or excluding this one really depends on the vibe you want for your party.

Cake Cutting
With so many couples going the non-traditional dessert route, official cake cuttings are becoming few and far between. If you want to include this tradition, consider having a friend or relative make you a small cake for the cutting/feeding pictures. Then provide your guests with more dessert choices, such as cake balls, pies, macarons, or ice cream!

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Cocktails All Day
The timing of your cocktail hour also depends on the vibe you would like to achieve. If you’d like your guests to party all day and all night, many couples are opting to have a short cocktail time before the ceremony to loosen people up, then a more extensive one before dinner & dancing. Choosing this structure of your day may negate the seriousness of the ceremony if that’s important to you. But it may also put people at ease and create a celebratory atmosphere! Having your specific guests in mind for this one will be key.

Dress Color
Finally–don’t feel restricted with your dress color! While shades of white are still dominating, many brides are choosing to add colorful accents or dresses that just scream their style. Wedding color choices don’t necessarily carry the same symbolism for many as they once did–just focus on the beauty and comfort you want to possess on your big day!

Whether you’re reading this to get tips or finding ways to avoid the hipster scene, this post will let you know what details are considered “hipster.” Feel free to embrace or avoid.

Hipster Wedding

1. The Dress

The style of dress you choose will often set the style tone for the whole event. Whether you choose a Bohemian hippie style or a short vintage look, there are unique ways that your attire can start the hipster vibe. Above all else, don’t get bogged down by the traditional tropes and brands—your dress should reflect your personal style, hipster or otherwise.

2. Invitations

Your Save the Dates and Invitations will be your guests first look into the style and theme of your wedding. For a bonafide hipster invitation, be sure to team up with your favorite local artist or graphic designer to create something wholly unique for your big day. Your guests will be impressed and slowly realize that it’s not their grandma’s wedding style that they’re walking into.

3. Location

For your hipster wedding, choosing a simple location will be key. Try finding a loft space or small outdoor venue that you can dress up to make it your own. If design is really important to you, then finding a blank canvas venue may be a great place to start. If you’re really going for that trademark hipster irony, try finding a more unique venue! A funky museum, an antique store or a coffee shop could make for a hipsterrific wedding experience to remember.

4. Food

Again, non-traditional is key for a truly traditional wedding. Food trucks are a great funky option in place of traditional plated meals. Tacos are also really trendy and fun. For dessert, ditch the traditional cake and go for something a little more fun and surprising—ice cream sundaes, donuts, or pies are some options to name a few!

5. Photography

Finding a photographer that can capture your day in a way that communicates your style is really important for a hipster wedding. Not only should that photographer themselves embrace that persona, but their shooting style should as well. Be sure to check out their portfolio to see what they can do to create a lasting keepsake of your special day.

6. Music

Finally, music is most certainly what makes a hipster wedding hipster. From artist choice to instrumentation, be sure to choose artists and songs that emanate your style. A Mumford-style ensemble for the ceremony, combined with an Indie music quartet for dinner and dancing could be the perfect combination for your big day. Make sure you are clear about what traditions you do and don’t want to include in your day. Your musicians will really play a big part in creating the soundtrack and mood for your day, so make sure you are on board with their style!

To truly find out if you’re at a hipster wedding, check out this fun flowchart at Refinery 29.

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Want to make your wedding a little easier on the environment? Here’s how!

Do Your Research
Half the battle of creating a sustainable event is knowing which vendors you can trust to share in your vision. Determine what is important for you, and seek out vendors who share your priorities. It will be much easier to succeed when working with vendors who share your goals than trying to work with those that don’t understand.

Paperless Invitations
Although you may get some flack for being untraditional, many are turning to the web for their invitations. With so many great graphic designers and web developers out there today, it’s still possible to keep the classic style and feel of traditional invitations, yet transform that style via web-based media. This will save paper as well as postage money! Greenvelope is a great E-vite resource that provides beautiful alternatives to paper invitation.

If you want to be green but are tied to the idea of traditional paper invitations, a compromise in this area would be to send an electronic Save-the-Dates but still keep paper invites. A little still goes a long way!

Picking the Right Venue
Choosing a venue that has a green initiative is probably one of the biggest things you can do to have an eco-friendly event. Find an event space that has met the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System, which sets the standard for sustainable spaces.

Some green venue options in Chicago would be Venue Six10, Greenhouse Loft, and Loft on Lake.

Go Organic
Work with your caterer to learn where your food is coming from. Make sure the caterer you hire has sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for your dinner such as free-range chicken or fresh wild salmon. For dessert, include free-trade coffee for your guests. Remember, going organic doesn’t have to be a trade-off for delicious food!

Green Wedding Favors
Certain wedding favors can contribute to waste, so give something eco-friendly as well as memorable. One idea is to plant a tree in your guests’ name, or even give out trees for them to plant in your honor. On a smaller scale, you could include sachets of herb or vegetable seeds so your guests can start their own eco-friendly edible garden.

If anything, foregoing the deck of cards or shot glass with your name printed on it will help save some trees and spare your guests from pretending to be excited about that.

Charitable Donation to Eco-Friendly Non-Profit
In lieu of gifts, you could also use that money to give to charitable organizations that support the green causes you are passionate about. Choose one that already has a special meaning to you, or do some research to find local organizations that share your passions. Your guests will appreciate knowing that their gift is going somewhere meaningful.

For more ideas on making your wedding a platform for service, check out our previous blog post on Weddings For a Cause

Recycle Your Decor, and Even Your Dress!
After any event there will almost certainly be a lot of things leftover. Whether it’s leftover food and cake or forgotten flowers or decorations, there are plenty of things that are in perfectly good condition at the end of the night that you no longer have use for. Instead of just throwing everything away or letting it sit in the back seat of your best man’s car for a few months, make a game plan for all the leftovers so nothing goes to waste. You can donate your flowers to a nursing home to brighten their space, recycle any paper decorations you’ve used, and coordinate with a food bank or homeless shelter that would take the mountains of leftover food you undoubtedly have. In these ways your big day can continue on to effect even more people for the better!

In light of our recent Vendor Spotlights in which we have been sharing some of our favorite planners, I thought I would highlight some reasons why planners can be incredibly helpful in making preparations for your big day!

Planners are no longer reserved only for the upper-class and extremely wealthy like they were once depicted in the movies. There is now a range of ways you can hire a planner to best fit your budget and your needs, so everyone can benefit from a little professional help on their big day. See our thoughts on why and how to make this work below:

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Perks of the Planner: Although it can be really fun, planning your wedding day can quickly turn into a challenging project. Not only are brides and grooms trying to create the perfect vision for their event (a tiring task in itself), but they’re trying to do it with limited knowledge on how to put together a wedding. From catering menus to invitations to booking a rocking band for the reception, it’s all new territory for most couples. And unless you happen to have a ton of free hours every week to pore over details, it can get really stressful really fast. Brides-to-be may write off the idea of hiring a planner, thinking that they know how to throw a party or don’t have the budget for such a luxury. The reality is that the help of a professional is invaluable in letting you enjoy your day and the months leading up to it.

There are some wedding details that practically demand a planner. If you are planning on having a large wedding (100+ people) things can get complicated quickly. A professional has dealt with large guest lists in the past, and she can help you prioritize your tasks and help you make choices that will satisfy your expectations, as well as those of your family and friends. Even if you have a smaller crowd, it can be a good idea to hire a wedding planner if you are holding your ceremony or reception in a location that is atypical. For example, a wedding held in a museum, park or historic home can be a beautiful and unique choice, but that also means there could be less wedding-specific assistance and a lot of unknown factors. This is a time when hiring someone who has spent years planning events comes in handy.

A professional planner can also save you money through their established connections with local wedding vendors.

Not for Everyone: If you are holding your wedding in a full service location (i.e. a banquet hall) you may be able to take advantage of an in-house planner who can assist with the catering, seating, and music set-up. Couples who plan to have a small, intimate wedding may also be able to handle the details themselves, though that depends on the wedding location and time limitations of the couple. (No matter the size, it’s always good to have help planning a destination wedding).

A Happy Medium: Brides who like the idea of having a professional on their team but don’t think they have the budget for it still have some options. Consider hiring a “day of” coordinator. These wedding planners will learn your wedding details a few weeks beforehand and manage the day from start to finish. They confirm details with all booked vendors and arrive on the day of the event, clipboard in hand, to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Even if you spend your days, weeks and months leading up to your wedding in a planning tizzy, the day of the event is really when the planner is clutch. If you’re going to have a planner in any capacity, the day of the event is the number one day to utilize that resource.

After all the planning and preparing is done, sometimes we forget that a successful event isn’t about how well it went as planned, but rather, its impact lies in how much our guests enjoyed it. The following are some tips for you bride-to-be’s on how to give yourself the space and freedom to enjoy your wedding day!

Newlyweds walk down aisle to a blizzard of flower petals

1. Delegate someone—your best man, maid of honor, a family member—that will be responsible for communication between you and the bandleader/emcee throughout the night. They can let the band know if they’re too loud, too fast, too slow, etc. so you don’t have to deal with any awkward tensions. They can also help you both remember things like eating your dinner! On such a crazy night with so many people to say hello to, it’s easy to forget these major things. Make sure you’ve chosen one person as your right-hand man to watch your back throughout the night.

2. Hire a great bandleader/emcee. The best bandleaders take responsibility for the success of your evening. They should notice important details like confirming the photographer is in the room before making any introductions for toasts, or ensuring silverware is on the cake table before announcing the cake cutting. The bandleader should also be in communication with the catering manager and other vendors to help with the flow of the evening.

3. When creating your seating chart, seat the older guests farther away from the band, and younger guests closer. Some older guests may appreciate being away from the loud noises, and the younger guests will most likely add the energy to the dance floor that every good party needs.

4. If you can, have the bar near the dance floor. If you put the bar outside the main room, it will be much harder to keep the dance floor filled. People will go out to get a drink, get involved in conversation and not make it back to the dance floor for quite a while. If the drinks and dancing are side-by-side, you’ve set yourself up for a consistently filled dance floor

5. Have a good time! This is the day you’ve been dreaming about and working so hard for—enjoy it! Instead of wondering, “are things going as planned?” the whole night, forget the itinerary and soak up all the little moments—even and especially the unplanned ones! Leave the double-checking to the professionals and have yourself a joy-filled and memorable night.

Planning a wedding can be a love-hate process for couples, and it might lean toward hate when tailoring your plans to fit a budget. Although it can certainly be stressful, having a tight budget does not limit the beauty or uniqueness that can come from your wedding day. Below are some practical tips from your friends at Stitely for the cash-conscious bride to consider as she begins planning:

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1. Timing is Everything: For couples who have not yet chosen the date for their ceremony, don’t be afraid to plan in the off-season. Sure, everyone loves a beach wedding in June, but a fall wedding in a cozy chapel can be just as wonderful and romantic (and can also result in great photos!) Many vendors offer discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings as well. Avoiding prime-time rates on wedding vendors and venues can save you serious bucks on your big day.

2. Get a Pro Involved: Hiring a professional wedding planner may cost more than you’d like, but compared to what it could save you in the long run it’s almost always worth it! Planners come with years of experience in the business, which means that they will know how to give you what you want within your budget! Not to mention they’ll know the best vendors in the business to work with so you’re not left blindly trusting your Google search findings.

3. Don’t Fear the Department Store: While the idea of shopping at a store like Kleinfeld’s from “Say Yes to the Dress” is appealing to a lot of brides, these boutique store can be incredibly pricy! If you’re planning on splurging a bit on the dress of your dreams, take some time and evaluate some other option for your bridesmaids. The days of all bridesmaids exactly matching are coming to an end, which gives people more money-conscious options! From using dresses they already own to shopping at stores like the Gap, Macy’s, J. Crew and Anthropologie, these options can give your wedding party a unique flair for a lower price. Plus, these are dresses that they might actually wear again!

4. Cater to the Kids: Ask your caterer if they offer children’s plates! This simple idea is an easy way to trim down food expenses, while actually giving any children at your wedding some food they may actually enjoy.

5. Get Flower Frugal: Flowers can be a major cost on a wedding day, especially if you have a lot of bouquets for the wedding party or if you use flowers as centerpieces. To cut down the price, try to pick flowers that are in season (i.e. tulips in the Spring instead of roses). Another simple money saving trick is to choose big flowers. Since most florists charge by the stem, needing fewer flowers can only help! Also adding cheap fillers like cotton and wheat stalks, berries, or even paper flower creations can also significantly lessen the cost of flowers. .

We hope these tips help those who are looking for a lower-budget wedding! Don’t be discouraged—your wedding can and will still be so special no matter what your spending limit. It’s much less about the richness of details and more about the people who you choose to surround yourself with. Happy planning!

Being a part of a wedding party is always an exciting thing. Dressing up, taking pictures and being up there with the happy couple on their special day is a real thrill. But what do you do with that beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) dress after the big day? Even though your bride-to-be friend has assured you that it was so cute that you will surely wear it again, oftentimes these garments end up in the back of our closets, then donated to Goodwill during spring cleaning.

Let’s change that cycle! The following are a few ideas that you can use for your bridesmaid dress (or even your wedding dress!) after you’re done with the event.

Bouquet toss at wedding

1. Sell It.

If your aim is to get a little of your fashion investment back in cold hard cash, try a few of these websites who will buy your used clothes: Tradesy, BridemaidTrade, & PreownedWeddingDresses.com

2. Donate It.

If your aim is just to get it out of your closet and you want to do some good, there are a ton of organization that take used formal gowns for girls who may not be able to afford that gorgeous prom dress they’ve been dreaming about. If making a small difference in a young girl’s life is something that interests you, then try these sites: GlassSlipperProject, BeccasCloset, & FairyGodMothersInc.

3. Craft It.

Quilts, Pillows, Jewelry —anything your heart desires! Don’t let the pricy fabric your dress is made of go to waste, use is as an inspiration to create something completely new!

4. Tailor It.

If getting rid of or completely cutting up your dress would upset you or your friend that wanted you to wear it in the first place, consider taking it to a tailor who can create something that’s more your style. For a few extra bucks you get a dress you know you’ll wear, and your friend will be honored you cared enough to keep the dress in your wardrobe. It’s a win-win!

Chicago printed bridesmaid dress

Chicago skyline

Getting married in Chicago comes with so many benefits and opportunities. One of the best is being able to incorporate the city’s architecture and rich history into your wedding day. From photo shoots to reception décor, you can Chicago-fy your wedding easily with these tips.

BeckyBrown0173Wedding Photos:

Many of our couples use Chicago landmarks and scenery as the background for their wedding party shots. Work with your photographer to find some great shots downtown or by the lake. Whether you traipse through your favorite museum or find your favorite nature spot, the city can truly be your playground as you search for great spots! [Helpful hint: Trust your photographer! They will have scouted out great spots before will not let you down.]

 Venue:

Chicago wedding rooftop Choosing a venue with a killer view of Chicago gives your Chicago-fied wedding that added edge. There’s nothing better than sipping champagne and dancing the night away—especially when you can do it all with an amazing view of the city. Whether you’re right down town surrounded by the city, or in a nearby neighborhood on-looking the Loop, there are a ton of ways to incorporate the well-planned skyline into your wedding-scape.

 

Entertainment:

312 Chicago Wedding Band

When planning your wedding in Chicago, why not choose live entertainment that shares its roots with Chicago rich history of blues and jazz. With so much live music happening throughout the city, your bound to find a band that is right for you. Pictured here is one of our best Chicago wedding bands, 312 Chicago.

 Décor:

While the invites will give guests a sneak peek into your big day, the décor for your reception is where you can really show off your Chicago-fied wedding! [Find picture/specific example] Other finishing touches allow you to add elegant Chicago aspects to your reception. Centerpieces, place cards, napkins and gift bags are just some of things you can Chicago-fy. Your guests will love it!

With all the money being poured into the wedding industry, many couples are starting to look for ways to re-allocate some of their expenses toward organizations and charities that are doing more than creating a beautiful event, but are working to make a lasting difference in the community. If you are one of those people who desire to leverage their wedding day for a cause, here are 9 simple ideas to get your headed in the right direction.

1. Incorporate a charity into your showers or registry.

Ask guests to bring canned goods for a local food bank along with their gift for your shower. Or, add a charity to your registry to people can donate to a cause you care about while they’re shopping for your wedding gift. Idofoundation.org is a one-stop shop for couples, providing a number of resources for couples to raise donations for a charity via their wedding plans.

2. Rent a nonprofit’s space.

Support your local museums, historical sites or botanical garden by renting their space for your event.

3. Reuse your flowers and other décor.

Call your local nursing home or hospital and ask if you can donate your reception flowers after the event takes place. This way your flowers can continue to spread cheer for others rather than sitting in your maid of honor’s car for a couple weeks.

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 4. Select favors with a purpose.

One way to do this is to forego guest favors altogether and use that money to make a donation to their favorite charity. Another way you can still show your guests your appreciation while also giving back is by choosing a favor that your guests will love that also supports a charity. One example is FeedYourSoulCookies.com. These sweet treats will be a highlight for your guests and will also support charities like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!

5. Don’t waste the leftovers.

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception re-distributed to feed hungry people in your area. SecondHarvest.com is a good starting place to learn more about this and find food banks in your area.

6. Charge it.

With a Working Assets credit card, every purchase you make—whether its your dress, flowers, or any vendor bills—a percentage of it benefits the charity of your choice with no extra cost to you.  For more information, go to WorkingAssets.com

Wedding Table Food Give Back Decor Chicago Wedding

 7. Hire nonprofit entertainers

From cultural dance groups to community youth orchestras, there are a number of ways to support the arts in your community by booking local entertainment. Add some unique flair to your ceremony or reception music while also promoting the arts!

8. Donate your dresses

After the big event, many people have no more use for their wedding or bridesmaid dresses. Brides Against Breast Cancer (for wedding dresses) and GlassSlipperProject.org (for bridesmaid dresses) are two places that can donate your gowns to make a different in the lives of local girls and women around the world.

9. Use your wedding day to bring awareness to a cause you care about.

One popular cause right now is the fight against sex trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. One way to support this cause is by using vendors in your city from LoveGivesWay.com. This group of vendors give a part of their fee back to charities that are already working to end sex trafficking. This is a way for you to leverage your one wedding day in support of those who are fighting for this cause every day.

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Whatever way you choose to celebrate, consider a using just one aspect of your day to make a lasting difference in the world! For more information about the ideas and organizations listed here, as well as links to others, check out this article from BridalGuide.com.

To invite children or to not invite children—the age-old wedding planning question is starting to rear it’s ugly head again as couples are sending those Save the Dates and invites for the Spring and Summer weddings. This topic is a sensitive one and there are many opinions that support both choices. The following is a short how-to post

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Step 1: Talk with your spouse-to-be and make a decision.

Here are some pros and cons to think through as you are deciding whether or not to include children on your guest list:

Pros to Inviting Children:
1. Kids love weddings! Little girls are in awe of the brides’ beauty and they will not hesitate to bust a move on the dance floor. Wedding also teach kids how to behave at formal occasions—it may be their only
2. If you decide to allow kids at your wedding, the drama of who will feel excluded is eliminated. The more the merrier, indeed!
3. Including children also shows that you care about and respect the guests that you are inviting to support you in your newly-married life. Babysitters are expensive! If you allow children at your wedding, you are giving the parents their own choice of either paying for a sitter for a kid-free night or if money is tighter, to  bring them along to join the festivities.

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Cons to Inviting Children:
1. For those couples that do not particularly love kids, they can be an added stressor on the wedding day. If a child crying during the ceremony or yelling “Hi, Aunt Laura!” as you’re walking down the aisle will totally bum you out, it may be a good idea to ask your day be adults-only.
2. Depending on how many kids would be in attendance, feeding many children can also be a budget constraint.

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Step 2: Stick to your guns.

Once you decide either way, stick to your decision with a united front. This can be particularly challenging if you decide not to invite kids. Many couples will feel as though this is a personal attack on their family. If any unrest occurs because of your decision, a phone call is usually the best way to handle that conversation rather than a text or email.

Step 3: Make your wishes clear on the invitation.

If you are not inviting children, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the parents. You could even go as far as filling out the names on their response card. If you end up getting unwanted RSVPs, phone call are again the best way of handling that conversation.

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Step 4: Think about childcare options.

One compromise for those who want to include families with kids is to provide childcare. Having a fun pizza party with games and other activities in a separate room at the venue is a great way for parents to enjoy with wedding without spending on a sitter. They can also conveniently check on their kids for some more peace-of-mind. While this is a slightly more expensive option for you, it will be much cheaper than paying for a full, catered meal for each child included.

In the end clarity, tact, thoughtfulness and maturity are all qualities to keep in mind as your making guest list decisions. Happy planning!

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