So you want to include kids in your wedding? How very lovely, and how very brave. Here are some ways they can participate:

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The most popular roles for kids are, of course, flower girl and ring bearer. Traditional etiquette limits your choices to children between 3 and 7 years old, and your own and your siblings’ children take priority. An 8-year old girl can be a junior bridesmaid until she turns 18, when she is promoted to full-fledged bridesmaid. Boys are out of the game at age 8 until they’re old enough to be a groomsman at 18. I can’t imagine they’re too upset about that.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re not a traditionalist, anything goes!

If you have tons of nieces and nephews, or are the Old Lady That Lived in Her Shoe, don’t fret. There are many other roles kids can play in your special day. They can distribute programs, act as ushers, do a reading, or hand out the rice. (If you’re looking for an alternative to throwing rice, check out this Pinterest page for some cute ideas). How about our favorite: if they’re musically inclined have them sing or play an instrument.

Just make sure to keep a sense of humor. Anything can happen when kids are involved…

Oh man, I sure could have used this list for my wedding. The list below was taken from an article on Huffington Post. They have an entire section devoted to weddings, which isn’t surprising; as of June 2013, American weddings are a $51 billion industry.

My favorite quote from this article is “try not to be too hard on yourself; after all, the most important thing is that you both successfully complete your vows. Everything else is just icing on top of the cake, as far as I’m concerned.”

Amen, sister.

10 THINGS BRIDES FORGET TO DO

1. Bring Your Marriage License

2. Vendor Meals

3. Favors

4. Guest Book and Pens

5. Invitation suite

6. Cake Knife and Toasting Flutes

7. Tech Chargers

8. Passport and Identification

9. Thank You Notes

10. Online Reviews

For more details on each of these items, check out the article HERE.

A U.S. Navy sailor married his high school sweetheart in the Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Tuesday. He had literally just walked off the plane after an 11-month deployment off the coast of Syria. He couldn’t wait a second longer. See the full story HERE, while I go find a case of tissues for my happy tears.

The last time I went to the airport, all I got was a lousy Cinnabon. (It was really good, I shouldn’t complain.)

Navy Sailor

 

 

 

 

 

So Sweet! Congrats, you crazy kids!

 

Choosing Music for Your Reception

Choosing wedding music that makes everyone happy can be a complicated process. In Parts One and Two of this series we discussed selecting music for your ceremony, cocktails, dinner and special moments. Today we’ll discuss how to create your own musical signature as a couple while satisfying the tastes of your guests during the reception.

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Guests flood the famous Knickerbocker Hotel dance floor at a summer wedding. Photo Credit: Gerber & Scarpelli

So how do you honor your personal preferences while keeping the dance floor packed? The key is considering the music you and your fiancé like, as well as the songs your families and friends will respond to.  People dance to what they know, so if you are not already aware ask your family or friends what artists and genres they like. For example, the Stitely Orchestra played at a wedding where the couple and their friends were Phish heads. They knew that Lady Gaga was not going to get their guests on the floor, so they chose music that reminded them of their shared memories and appealed to their friends. We also played at a wedding where the bride and her family is Bolivian, while the groom and his family is Irish. To satisfy everyone they hired a Bolivian duo and an Irish combo to play during the band breaks; that way their families as well as their friends got to enjoy themselves.

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Guests of all ages enjoy the wedding classics! Photo Credit: Brian Hall Photographers

Often, playing older styles of music like jazz or classic rock earlier in the reception helps to include older guests. However, if you want a more modern feeling right from the beginning there are some ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s tunes that can work great in the first set. Songs like “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, and artists like Adele, Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse, and Taylor Swift appeal to guests of all ages. Avoid songs with a lot of electronic elements in the first set; work up to those auto tune hits that make your booty shake but make your grandparents cringe. Also consider if there are any cultural traditions, songs with special meaning to your group like college fight songs, or sing-along tunes like “Wonderwall.” These songs are great to include earlier in the evening because they keep everyone engaged.

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Great music and a fun dance party will leave a memorable impression of your wedding celebration. Photo Credit: Timothy Whaley & Associates

The final song will cast a lingering impression of your wedding for you and your guests. Consider whether you want to leave with a romantic ballad like “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, or a rocking anthem that keeps the energy high to the very end. Songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” or “We are Young” are great at creating a musical climax that reflects the fun and excitement of the day.

The process of choosing your wedding music can be as personalized as you and your fiancé want it to be. Put your unique signature on every musical aspect from the ceremony to reception, just remember that music frames memories and creates a lasting impression of your wedding for your family, friends and guests. But more importantly, how do you want to remember your special day?

Part Two: Choosing Music for Your Special Dances

First Dance. Photo Credit: Anna Guziak Photography

First Dance. Photo Credit: Anna Guziak Photography

It can be tricky choosing wedding music that both you and your guests like. In Part One of this three-part series we discussed choosing music for your ceremony, cocktails and dinner. Today we’ll discuss what to consider when choosing music for your special dances.

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Father/Daughter Dance. Photo Credit: Todd James Photography

When contemplating a song for your first dance, consider whether you want an intimate moment, a playful interlude, or a flashy choreographed show that wows the crowd. What songs make you think of your partner? Is there a song that reminds you of a shared experience? Also think about logistics: how long do you want to be dancing in front of your guests? If your favorite song is too long, work with the bandleader or DJ to adjust the length by omitting verses or fading out. You can also combine two of your favorite songs. For example, a recent couple’s first dance began with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and faded into “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. Bottom line, the song should feel personal with lyrics that appeal to both of you.

Here are just a few of the songs Stitely bands have played at recent weddings. Some classics include: “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra, “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke, or “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes and “Whatever It Is” by the Zac Brown Band are great contemporary options.

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Mother/Son Dance. Photo Credit: Wedding Story Studio

When selecting music for the father/daughter and mother/son dances consider similar questions. Is there a song or an artist that reminds you of your father or an experience you had together? This song could be sweet and sentimental, or fun or outrageous. There is something timeless about older songs like “My Girl” by The Temptations or “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra, however, if you want a modern feel try “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright or “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. Mother/Son dances can be challenging since so many great “love” songs are about romantic love. Songs like “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, “In My Life” by The Beatles, and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder will warm your heart without creeping anyone out.

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Anniversary Dance. Photo Credit: Todd James Photography

                   If you don’t want to toss your bouquet, consider an anniversary dance. During this dance, married guests dance together and leave the floor as an emcee announces increasing lengths of time, ultimately leaving the longest married couple in the spotlight. The bride rewards their longevity with her bouquet. This is a sweet way to celebrate your older guests like grandparents, or avoid an awkward situation in which many of the female guests are too old, young or married to catch the bouquet. Typically this dance is a classic ballad, but if you have a favorite song you didn’t choose for your first dance, use it here instead.

With the musical tearjerkers out of the way, it’s time to party down! Stay tuned for Part 3 next Wednesday in which we’ll discuss reception music that keeps everyone on the dance floor.

Choosing Music for Your Ceremony, Cocktails & Dinner 

The venue is reserved, vendors are booked, and the dress bought; now it’s time to start planning the timeline and musical flow of your wedding! There are a lot of elements to consider, but in this three part series we’ll focus on choosing music that reflects your personality as a couple while keeping your guests of all ages glued to the dance floor.

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Photo Credit: Garbo Productions

Music transports you back to certain times in your life. Finding those sweet spots that hit an emotional chord with different groups of people is what choosing your wedding music is all about. First consider the function music will play at your wedding. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create? When you fantasize about your future wedding memories, what do these moments feel like? Clarifying the mood you want to create will help you choose music that will make you, your fiancée and your guests happy.

Your ceremony is one of the few times of the evening when you can be completely musically “selfish.” You don’t have to consider whether your family or friends enjoy or approve of your choices. You don’t have to worry whether your guests will dance or whether the tempo is too slow or fast. The goal here is to create the unique atmosphere that you and your fiancé will remember forever.

So what kind of ceremony are you going to have – traditional, modern, religious? If you like traditional wedding music, stick with the classics and enjoy the timeless ambiance. An increasingly popular trend is to play modern songs with classical instruments such as a string combo. This adds a contemporary edge to your traditional ceremony, or a classical flavor to your modern ceremony. Whatever your preferences, just remember- this is your chance to choose songs that are special to both of you, no strings attached.

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Guests dance between dinner courses during an East Coast Style wedding. Photo Credit: Jolie Images

The music you choose during cocktails and dinner sets the stage for the rest of the evening. This music creates a subtle backdrop for guests to mingle and enjoy their meals. However, in a typical East Coast timeline dinner music also serves to connect important moments like your first dance or cake cutting. Again consider the atmosphere you want during this period. Cocktails and dinner are wonderful opportunities to include music that you really love but might not translate well into dancing. For example, a lot of indie music is great to listen to but lies in a mid-tempo range that makes dancing awkward. A great example of this is Feist’s “Mushaboom.” If you, your fiancé or friends love this music, consider a combo that plays indie & contemporary music rather than the traditional jazz combo. However, if you enjoy the chic ambiance provided by a jazz combo then go with that group.

With dinner completed, it’s time to take the floor for your special dances! Stay tuned for Part Two next week in which we’ll discuss choosing music for these significant moments.

The Chicagoland area is perhaps one of the country’s most versatile locations for a wedding. There are all kinds of hotels, lofts, restaurants, museums, and parks that host beautiful weddings. A short drive north of the city is the Chicago Botanic Garden, home to a whopping 385 acres of land and 81 acres of water, and one of our favorite versatile wedding sites. We had the pleasure of speaking with Connie Bolle, Director of Sales & Special Events at the Botanic Garden, to find out just how green this garden really is!

Stitely Entertainment: What makes the Chicago Botanic Garden different from other event venues?
Connie Bolle: Our outdoor and indoor ceremony locations are the most photographed wedding spots in the entire Chicagoland area! Our Garden has over 385 acres and we host only one wedding an evening, so 100% of our attention is focused on the bride & groom, wedding guests and the amazing evening. Our location is easily accessed from major highways and the large complimentary event parking blows away the city competition with their required valet or expensive downtown parking rates. Fresh air, fresh views and privacy await just miles north of downtown Chicago.

SE: Why should people choose Chicago Botanic Garden for their events?
CB: Our Garden couples tend to be very focused on being environmentally friendly—we grow our dinner’s salad greens here at the Garden, we compost at the conclusion of your perfect wedding day, and recycle everything we can get our hands on! They love that we are a one stop shop—book your venue, your wedding menu and your linen—all with just one experienced and focused event planner, who is actually here on your wedding day! They really love that their wedding venue will be here for years and years to come, not a hotel ballroom with a new corporate name and horrific carpeting. We are a space you can bring your family and friends to 365 days a year and come back as a couple year after year to enjoy our incredible vistas.

SE: Can you please describe the different rooms and/or services?
CB: Our favorite space is our McGinley Pavilion, our waterside tented private location with an adjacent large patio that literally takes your breath away. With willowy white lanterns and the breeze from the basin, your guests are transported to a dreamy reception. Paired with our English Walled Garden for your wedding ceremony or cocktail hour, it simply doesn’t get any “greener.” For those brides that crave a contemporary LONG wedding aisle, our Rose Terrace is a photographer’s dream ceremony space. For winter and early spring weddings, we have our Nichols Hall and Krehbiel Gallery, two very posh spaces where nature shines indoors.

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Photo by Jeremy Lawson

SE: Do you have different wedding packages? If so, what do they include?
CB: We have three different level wedding packages, though we tend to customize almost all of our weddings to fit our unique couples and their history, loves and ethnic origins! The traditional wedding packages include tables, chairs, china, linens, bar, service and more! Just show up with your favorite florist and orchestra, and we are ready to go! With our incredible gardens and views, you really can’t ask for a better backdrop for your wedding day.

SE: What are some of your favorite ideas from recent weddings?
CB: A stunning July wedding with Tamina and Leo included their two dogs in the ceremony! Puppy Love and Couple Love can’t be any cuter! For food, my favorite was Amy and Eric’s September wedding, where we re-created actual family recipes for their custom Sweets Table, complete with recipe cards for the guest to take and a family photo of the recipe author! It brought tears to the eyes of so many guests!

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Photo by Robin Sloan of Riverbend Studio

SE: Have you recently hosted any particularly interesting events or organizations?
CB: We always attend the Wish upon a Wedding Gala and hope to host a wedding for a couple here very soon! It is a heart warming charity with a chapter here in Chicago, granting wishes to those who are terminally ill or who face extreme hardships. We also participated in the Special Event Show hosted here in Chicago in January and LOVED seeing the new Wedding Trends for 2013 and beyond. Romantic Garden weddings are so on TREND.

SE: What three words do you think best describe Chicago Botanic Garden?
CB: For the location: Expansive, Lush, Peaceful. For the food: Organic, Fresh, Delicious

SE: Anything else you would like to include?
CB: People always ask—but what if it rains? Our tented Pavilion with clear sides walls to pull is already set to go—and the day of the wedding, should sprinkles arrive, we effortlessly whisk your group into our indoor back up spaces! Don’t worry; we are experts at keeping the rain dancers away from our summer weddings!

The story of Cathy Knorr and Trevor Webb’s relationship is so darn cute, we couldn’t help but share it. These lovebirds dated for a couple weeks in middle school when Trevor wrote a love letter to Cathy instructing her to meet him at the end of the hall after school and tell him if she wanted to date him. After meeting him and dating for a couple weeks, she broke up with him to go out with another boy. The ex-couple remained friends over the years, even when they both moved away from their hometown. When they both returned, single, they unexpectedly kissed one night and have been together ever since. Having such a sweet and unique set of circumstances in their relationship, they displayed Trevor’s love letter at the wedding (which Cathy had kept for all those years!). What an awesome story! View the full story and photo slideshow here.

This story inspired us to look back at love letters from famous composers and musicians to their honeys. Here are some excerpts from a few of our favorites…

Ludwig van Beethoven to his “Immortal Beloved”

beethovenwriting“Good morning, on 7 July

Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all. Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be. You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never! O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life. Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances? Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved

L

Ever thine.
Ever mine.
Ever ours.”

 

Charlie Parker to his girlfriend Chan Woods

“To you;

The way I thought was wrong, having not known, it was right. Here is the proof of my feelings, Don’t hate me, love me forever: — — — —
Beautiful is the world, slow is one to take advantage. Wind up the world the other way. And at the start of the turning of the earth, lie my feelings for thou.

To you
Shame on me.
I love you.”

 

Johnny Cash to June Carter

“Hey June,

That’s really nice June. You’ve got a way with words and a way with me as well.

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.

Love John”

 

 

Jimi Hendrix to “little girl”

“little girl…..

happiness is within you…so unlock the chains from your heart and let yourself grow —
like the sweet flower you are…
I know the answer —
Just spread your wings and set yourself
FREE
Love to you forever
Jimi Hendrix”

 

Paul McCartney to his wife Nancy, in the form of a song

“My Valentine”

What if it rained, we didn’t care
She said that someday soon
The sun was gonna shine
And she was right, this love of mine
My Valentine

As days and nights, would pass me by
I tell myself that I was waiting for a sign
Then she appeared, a love so fine
My Valentine

And I will love her for life
And I will never let a day go by
Without remembering the reasons why
She makes me certain, that I can fly

And so I do, without a care
I know that someday soon
The sun is gonna shine
And she’ll be there, this love of mine
My Valentine

What if it rained, we didn’t care
She said that someday soon
The sun is gonna shine
And she was right, this love of mine
My Valentine

In an interesting new trend reported by Today.com, couples are decking out their weddings with lavish flowers, high-end designer dresses, talented music ensembles, and delectable dishes. What’s missing, you ask? The guests! That’s right, according to Today’s report these one-on-one weddings are on the rise. For shy brides out there, this might be your dream wedding. Or for those of you looking to get a little more daring, you can always try a “guerilla” wedding:

However you and your hubby-to-be choose to celebrate, it’s bound to be one of your most memorable occasions. Cheers!

 

 

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Looking to get married in a flash? Want to save dough and take some of the planning pressure off your plate? Well now with Bridal Brokerage, you can!

bridal-brokerage-L-m4as8tThis company buys cancelled weddings from couples to help recoup some of the costs, then sells them to bargain-hunting brides and grooms. BB collects info from the selling couple such as wedding date, location, guest capacity, vendors, and costs, and matches weddings to buyers based on the engaged couple’s preferred wedding date, location, guest list, and budget. For adventurous brides and grooms who can be flexible, don’t mind a shorter engagement period, and aren’t superstitious, this can be an excellent opportunity. As a wedding vendor, we’re curious to see if this business soars or flops. We’re definitely keeping our eyes open on this one! Let us know what you think – would you ever purchase someone’s abandoned wedding plans?