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.

wedding flower ring chicago wedding bands

 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.

flower girls dancing to chicago wedding band

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!

View More: http://brittamariephotography.pass.us/kim-john

This week’s Music Monday feature is Allen Stone, a current favorite of Stitely’s Planning Coordinator Katy. In anticipation of the release of his new album Radius in 2015, Allen Stone is a force to be reckoned with. Many compare his sound to that of classic Motown/R&B singers while he classifies himself as a “soulful hippie.” His familiar R&B feel and tone combined with his quirky, hipster-geek style and lyrics makes this Washington-rooted artist appealing to an increasingly wider audience. Whatever the classification, Allen Stone is a little-known powerhouse that is sure to make waves this year. Let’s hope he makes a stop in Chicago again this year!

Check out this live performance of his single “Unaware” recorded from his mother’s living room.

We’ve won the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards for 2015 thanks to all the raving reviews we’ve received from our amazing couples! The Couple’s Choice Awards recognizes Stitely Entertainment as being among the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide. What an honor to be one of the best Chicago wedding bands! We couldn’t be happier.

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Thanks to all our couples and clients for making 2014 another successful year. Looking forward to working with many more amazing couples in 2015!

The holiday engagement season is winding down, and many couples are already in full planning mode. After securing their big vendors, most brides start thinking about who they want to choose to be in their bridal party. While this is such a fun job, it also holds more responsibility than you might think! If you are asked to be a part of someone’s wedding party, here is a great article from brides.com outlining mistakes that bridesmaids should avoid!

Mistakes Bridesmaids Should Avoid

[Photo by Britta Marie Photography]

One final tip from Stitely: Be able to laugh at yourself and not be a party pooper! The wedding party is there to support the couple and set the tone for the rest of the guests at the party. If this bridesmaid on crutches can have this much fun, so can you!

 

Happy New Year one and all! Here at Stitely we are so looking forward to what this year has in store for us. Some vendors we’re looking forward to working with again in 2015 include:

LK Events

Clementine Custom Events

Big City Bride

Café Brauer

Kenilworth Club

Warwick Allerton Hotel

Art Institute of Chicago

…and many more!

One of our resolutions this year is to take more photos and document more beautiful moments! Luckily we had some experts to pick up our slack in 2014. Let’s take a look back at some best moments from some of our favorite events in 2014. (Each photo links to photographer’s page) Enjoy!

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Here’s to another rockin’ year!

 

If you’ve watched any TV this holiday season, it’s likely you’ve come across Acura’s commercial featuring a familiar holiday tune – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.” You’ll remember the original version from the maroon-clad foursome Horatio Sans, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan & Tracy Morgan on Saturday Night Live in 2000. This hilarious song was an immediate SNL classic.

The version featured in the commercial (as well as topping my holiday playlist) is former Strokes’ lead singer Julian Casablancas’ 2009 cover of the comedy sketch.

Both videos are featured here—which one to do you enjoy more?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFfXqz1h5AY

 

Wedding days are exciting. They are days to look ahead at what is to come for the newly-married couple and mark the first day of the rest of their lives. While weddings are often future-oriented events, they are also times when families look back on where they came from. Many brides choose to celebrate their ancestors in unique ways. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

1. Photos of Grandparents

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[Photo by Averyhouse Photography]

I’ve always loved when couples set up photos of their parents and grandparents on their wedding days. Not only is it fun to look back and see how your family has changed, but it’s also a nice way to remember those who have passed. (Laughing at the old fashion choices is always a blast as well!)

2. “Something Old”

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The age old tradition of incorporating “something old” into the bride’s ensemble is still alive and well. The photo above notes the women in this bride’s family who all wore the same garter!

3. Vintage Voice Recordings

View More: http://brittamariephotography.pass.us/kim-john[Photo by Britta Marie Photography]

This year we also had the unique opportunity to be a part of a fun surprise between father & daughter. The bride incorporated a recording of herself as a child into her Father-Daughter Dance. When her dad heard the 4-year-old bride singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” there wasn’t a dry eye in the place!

How have you incorporated media from the past into your wedding plans?

One of our most requested songs for our bands during Chicago’s wedding season has been the catchy and controversial “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. It’s definitely a fun tune! For a new twist on the song, take a listen to this awesome jazz cover by Postmodern Juke Box featuring Kate Davis on Upright Bass.

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Photo by Britta Marie

When it comes to weddings and technology, couples have a lot of choices. Do we create a wedding hashtag? Do we encourage our guests to Instagram the day and offer well wishes on Facebook and Twitter? While many couples embrace technology,  a new trend is starting to emerge–unplugged weddings. Many couples are choosing to ask their guests to be fully present during the day by putting their phones away and leaving the photography to the professionals. The hope is that people would engage more with each other and enjoy the day in-person rather than through their phone screens. Besides, who wants to be that guy holding up his iPad trying to get a good shot of the couple while blocking the view of everyone behind him?

So what do you think? Should guests be keeping their electronics away during the wedding, or should we encourage celebrating on all social media platforms? Comment below!