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.

wedding dress give back flowers Chicago wedding band

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!

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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.

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!

Here at Stitely Entertainment, we love music and we love weddings. Unless you’ve sworn off social media today, you’ve probably seen the news reporting Solange Knowles’ wedding, which happened this weekend. Check out this sweet video of Solange and her son Julez dancing at their reception! It’s always a fun moment when families let loose on the dance floor.

When one thinks of wedding planning, certain things often come to mind. For many it’s all things bridal–lace, pink flowers, and possibly bridezillas. But with both men and women establishing themselves in their careers and have busier lives before tying the knot, the load of wedding planning is starting to be more equally distributed.

Take a look at the following articles that include interviews with grooms-to-be who feel their opinions and responsibilities should be equal to those of their fiancé.

Grooms as wedding planners?

Grooms Playing Bigger Role in Planning

What do you think? Are weddings still all about the bride? Or should both parties be equally represented in the event?

Whether we admit it or not, we all love T. Sweezy. She’s just cheesy enough to appeal to middle school girls and just hip enough to appeal to fraternity bros. With the release of her newest album, 1989, the Queen of Break-Up Tunes is pushing the boundaries of her identity as an artist, refusing to be pigeon-holed in one specific genre.

Even though Swift is trying to “shake it off,” she is still undoubtedly renowned for her many break-up songs that you just can’t help but sing along with. Gone are the days when break-up songs inspired you to sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream—they are now taking a turn toward the upbeat. See below for a list of break-up tunes through the ages that you just can’t help but sing along with.

Break-Up Songs List:
1958 – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – the Platters
1962 – Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons
1972 – You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
1978 – I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
1980 – Keep On Lovin’ You – REO Speedwagon
1983 – Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
1990 – It Must’ve Been Love – Roxette
1992 – I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
1996 – Don’t Speak – No Doubt
2006 – Irreplaceable – Beyonce
2009 – Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
2010 – Rolling in the Deep – Adele
2012 – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
2013 – Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus

With so many danceable break-up songs out there, we in the wedding industry ask: Would you want to hear break-up songs at your wedding?

We want to hear from you! What is more important: Lyrics that match the tone of your wedding, or a beat that gets people on the dance floor regardless of the words? T. Swift seems to draw from the best of both worlds—what do you think? Comment below!