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Choosing a Special Wedding Gift for Your New Spouse

blog-gifts-for-spouseEveryone knows that a marriage itself is a gift; however, many couples still choose to exchange a present after exchanging vows. Read on to learn how you can choose a special wedding gift for your new spouse that they will cherish nearly as much as you!

First, consider signing up for a boudoir session with your local photographer. This has certainly become one hot trend with newly married couples! The pictures are provocative, romantic, but remain completely classy. Not only are they fun to shoot, but they will be fun to pull out and view for years to come. Plus, these pictures make a statement. They silently declare that you are full of passion and want your partner to remain full of passion as well! If a professional shoot is out of your budget, all you need are some tasteful undergarments and a faithful and fabulous friend to play photographer! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not extend the preview the surprise with a teaser custom photo card and then present him with a beautifully designed flush mounted album with the collection of photos. Or, consider other photo gifts.

Next, many couples are huge fans of exchanging matching time pieces. These watches are worn every day and they are also symbolic of the commitment you both entered into for all “time.” Whether you want to pick up a designer pair or opt for something simple and standard; it is a gift that you will get years of use out of and will help make the hours pass by as you glance at it when you are away from one another.

Finally, consider what your spouse is into. No one knows you both best like one another. Sporting event or concert tickets are gifts that you can both utilize. You can also plan a weekend getaway or sign up for a couple’s massage to unwind after the big day. Many newly married couples are discouraging one another from purchasing separate gifts and are totally into gifting each other a shared experience.

Consider these three simple and totally doable ideas if you want to impress your mate with a meaningful, post-wedding “I do” gift.

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Framing our wedding photo, wedding certificate or Ketubah – to mat or not to mat?

To mat or not to mat?Everyone loves preserving their perfect memories by framing their wedding photos, wedding certificate or Ketubah. Seeing your wedding photos around your house will be a constant reminder of the people you love and that wonderful day. Framing your wedding certificate or Ketubah can be just as beautiful.  The big day has passed. The pictures have been taken and the wedding certificate or Ketubah has been signed.  Now, along with what kind of frame and glass you will use, you must decide if you will mat your photographs and certificate.

So, how do you go about choosing whether to mat or not to mat?

Mat

Matting the photos and certificates can enhance the overall feel of the subject inside the frame. This means your photos and certificate will look even more special. Matting will keep the glass separate from the work so that it won’t stick to the glass. Know that there are multiple kinds of mat. A few typical types you can get are alpha mats, rag mats, or paper mats. Each of these has different qualities including acidity. So if you go with the matting option, be sure to pick the best one for preserving your memories.  Alpha mats, or Alpha-cellulose mats, is a wood blend chemically treated to remove the acids that can decay whatever is framed. Rag mats, are most often used by museums because they are a naturally acid-free mat that stay white, and keep the framed subject safe forever. Paper mats are the most inexpensive option; however they can contain a lot of acid that leaks onto your photos or certificates and brown the edges.  Once you chose the type of mat, be sure to consider the size that you want.  Wider mats look best when framing photographs. It is also suggested to you chose a white, or off-white color to the mat to keep things looking crisp and clean. Even if your wedding had a color theme, and you’re thinking of making that color be the mat, you might want to reconsider as the mat color could overwhelm the photos. Have some black-and-white photos? Consider using a layered mat with gray, white, or black options for an interesting look.  If you end up matting your work, know that you can’t really go that wrong and that you can always change the styles if you decide to do so.

 

Without Mat

If you chose to frame your photos, or certificate without a mat, know that you will have to mount the work to a back board so it doesn’t slip within the frame. Mounting options could be dry-mount tissue or folded hinges.  Dry-mounting is not known to be archival. After a while (several decades), the acids from the material can damage your photos. Use dry-mount tissue like Buffer Mount which is acid free and can be detached from the subject years later. This will allow your wedding photos or certificate to be preserved forever. Folded hinges can also be used to mount your memories; however, they are most often used when matting the pieces so that the hinges can be hidden from view.  If you crave the feel of a boarder before the frame much like a mat, consider using the backboard for the boarder. Going without a mat, can give the photos a much more candid vibe and is a much more inexpensive option when it comes to framing.

Photo Canvas or Brush Strokes Canvas: What’s the Difference?

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So perhaps you begged and pleaded or just got lucky enough to get the best wedding photographer you could afford. Now you have a wedding album that you will cherish forever. What else is there to do? I mean, how often do you look at your wedding album or if you are a bride-to-be, how often do you think you will? You could select your favorites and put them up all around your home, but if you live in a small apartment, this could end up looking like a wedding theme park.

It’s really a shame to keep these beautiful photos stashed away, but, after the first year, some couples feel awkward keeping them on the coffee table and they end up either in a drawer or under baby bottles and other items that begin to take precedence in this central location.

There are options which give these memories the place they deserve. Two that I can think of are photo canvas and brush strokes canvas. The really wonderful thing about that very expensive wedding photographer who took those breathtaking photos is that you can enlarge the pictures and make stunning, large pieces of art that can be hung on the wall or arranged in clusters to create a “moment” in the room instead of the aforementioned theme park.

So, What’s the Difference Between a Photo Canvas and a Brush Strokes Canvas?

Photo Canvas

A photo canvas is a photo printed on gallery quality canvas. This is also called a canvas print. The canvas is stretched, or gallery-wrapped, onto an internal wood frame (called stretcher bars) and displayed. The print is intended to look just like your original photo, only printed on stretched canvas rather than a less-than-creative poster print. An image that goes completely around the sides of the frame is called a gallery wrap which creates a three dimensional effect of the mounted print. The most obvious advantage of the photo canvas is affordability. This is often a less expensive alternative because the picture doesn’t require framing and the stretcher bars do not need to be varnished or treated. The result is a traditional art work that suits any modern home.

Brush Strokes Canvas

A brush strokes canvas  starts by using the same high resolution professional wedding photo but a graphic artist will go over the photo image by hand on the computer to give the photo the look of an oil painting with actual brush strokes. The image is then printed onto a canvas, and stretched for display. This detailed process is what makes your canvas look more like a painting than if you were to print the photo on canvas without the paint brush application. The considerable advantage here is the added texture that instantly gives your photo the appearance of a portrait painted in an artist’s studio. That said, choose your photo wisely. This may not be the best format for one of your more candid shots, but a captured intimate moment may be just right. Give it some thought. This is a piece of art, after all.

When investing in one of these master creations be sure your image editors know their way around composition, contrast, color management—and of course canvas fine art printing. Many shops will offer free retouching (if you choose) for color and exposure correction as well as red eye, date stamp and minor blemish removal.

Beautiful Brush Strokes CanvasIs it worth the cost? Definitely. It is a meaningful gift that that will remind your beloved of that most important moment that began your lives together. So go ahead, and hang one over the fireplace in the living room. Your new canvas will also go a long way to alleviate any guilt you may have for storing away your wedding album well out of reach of spilling bottles. It is also the perfect conversation starter that will also be a socially acceptable reason for bringing out the priceless wedding album, yet one more time for your visiting guests.

Wedding Photo Books vs. Wedding Albums

What’s the Difference and which is Right for You?

photo book or wedding albumNo two weddings are exactly alike. This is because we take our unique personalities and pour them into our special day. Your personality as a couple can also determine the way in which you wish to capture and cherish your big day’s special moments. Read on to decide if you should order a wedding album or a photo book from your photographer to show off your coveted pictures.

First, it is important to understand the difference between the two books. A wedding album is a large, bound book that is designed with slots and/or framed spaces to hold hundreds of pictures that get developed by your photography pro. They come available in a number of finishes and are the most traditional way to display your images. All images are housed safely underneath a rich and smooth leather cover, which can usually be embossed. A photo book on the other hand, can be large or small and has dozens of design layout options for photographers to digitally arrange your photographs without printing them out or mounting them. The book comes available in a hard, soft, or leather bound cover which can also be customized to the couple’s liking.

Couples who consider themselves classic, traditional, and who hosted a very formal ceremony and reception generally stick to tradition and order a wedding album. Its timeless design appeals to conservative couples who want to replicate their parents’ albums and who want to ensure a long lasting, high quality “house” for their cherished photos. While these albums are elegant, they can be rather expensive. Couples spend anywhere from $500-$1,000 (and up) on these bound keepsakes, so if you are on a tight budget, a photo album is not for you.

Couples who consider themselves modern, technology savvy, creative, and outgoing generally gravitate toward the new trend, photo books. They tend to love the design layout options and really let their creative juices flow during the design collaboration with their photographer. They also love the fact that they don’t have hundreds of loose photos floating around and have only their top 25 favorite (or so) in one place. Many photographers include a DVD with all the wedding images on it so couples can print out the ones they want or load them onto their computer for other purposes. Couples spend anywhere from $75-$200 on photo books, so if you are on a budget, this is perfect for your wallet!

Be sure to consider the pros and cons of each before you make your final wedding photo decision!

The “I do” Thank-You | 3 Etiquette Tips for Sending Wedding Thank-you Cards

 

Wedding Thank you Cards

It is very easy for couples to get caught up in the magic of the post wedding, newlywed couple moment. However, it is essential to keep in mind that many people made your special day possible and a lot of time, effort, and money has been given to you and your partner. Show how grateful you are by following these basic, after the “I do” thank-you card etiquette tips.

Tip #1-Be Prompt

If you live by the philosophy, “Better late than never;” rethink this motto-quickly! You don’t want your guests to think you are ungrateful or entitled, so the sooner you send out your thank-you cards, the better. If you think you are too busy moving into your new home, unpacking wedding gifts, packing for your honeymoon; think again. Many brides bring their thank-you cards with them on their honeymoon and fill them out as they wait in the airport or during their flight. Generally, thank-you cards are sent two weeks after you receive the gift; immediately is best, but no later than three weeks after big day. This also gives brides time if they are using a photo from the wedding day. Buy your thank-you cards early — you can often save money by ordering your thank-you cards at the same time as your matching save the date cards and wedding invitations. And, you will have them on hand. Work in small batches! The last thing you want to do is get so burned out from writing that your notes start to sound cliché and your handwriting less than beautiful.

Tip #2-Thank-you Before “I do”

If you receive a gift or card from guests who aren’t able to make your event, or who simply wish to celebrate early, it is best to thank them immediately. You will be less likely to forget to send out a card if you don’t wait until after your celebration. Your thank-yous serve as an acknowledgement to friends and family members that you received their generous gifts.

Tip #3-Skip the Generic Thank-you

Some couples have a generic thank you message that they have printed on their cards. This one size fits all approach doesn’t seem genuine and may offend guests. Be sure to hand write each card, thank the recipient for each specified item gifted, and include a warm, personalize message to add a special touch. Your guests will be honored that you put time and effort into their thank-you.

Custom thank-you cards are always appreciated and are the furthest thing from generic. Thank you cards range from a classic ecru 3 ½ by 5 with a top fold and embossing to a 4.25 x 5.5 customized photo card. Take your time to pick a style that reflects both of you. If you are in love with your monogram (who isn’t?), remember that it is not appropriate to use your married monogram until after the ceremony. A good wedding stationery designer can guide you with the myriad choices or browse through the many choices available online.

Be sure to stick to these three tips to ensure you are prompt and express your gratitude in a genuine and meaningful way.

Chow Down or Chuck It? What to do with the Top Layer of Your Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake TraditionsHave you been told by your mother, wedding planner, and friends that you simply must save the top layer of your wedding cake, store it in your freezer, and eat it one year later on your anniversary? This tradition has been around for decades-but how did it begin? And, what are modern brides really doing with their decadent dessert a year from their “I do” day? Read on to help you decide if you should chow down on the cake, or chuck it!

Saving the top layer of your wedding cake originated back in the 19th century. Long ago, the bottom layer of a three tier cake was for the reception, the middle layer was to give out to guests, and the top layer was used one year later at the christening of the couple’s first baby (“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” Ring a bell?). These two traditions have long since parted ways and a modern wedding ceremony tradition has emerged. Couples now choose to share the cake with each other or with the ones they love to remind them of their first happy day as husband and wife. And, it doesn’t hurt to hope, wish or believe that this tradition will also bring you prosperity and a long future! The modern take on the old tradition is worth considering.

blog-cake-tradition2If you believe in the fate of the cake, you will also have a beautiful reminiscence on your first anniversary. There is something ultra-romantic about savoring a slice of something that was cut for you on that most significant day in your life. Ask your caterer or reception venue to properly wrap it up (they do it on a weekly basis) the right way to ensure your dessert tastes nothing less than a little slice of heaven.

Some couples don’t think twice about saving the top layer at all! They will chuck the wedding cake leftovers after the ceremony, stating it’s unimportant, they’re not superstitious or they just aren’t keen on the idea of snacking on a bite of freezer burn. If you aren’t superstitious or don’t like to conform to tradition, pass on saving the cake and don’t think twice. If the idea of eating a thawed piece of cake which may no longer resemble the stunning centerpiece it once was leaves you feeling a bit nauseous, there is another option. Many top quality bakeries will offer to take a picture of your completed wedding cake in all its original glory and will then recreate it exactly – one year later at no charge. Ask your bakery if they offer this service. Your last piece of wedding cake should taste as fresh and fabulous as you remembered it.

Whether you decide to chow down or chuck it, you probably won’t cast good luck or bad luck! But, one thing is for certain – your first year of marriage is certainly something to celebrate… so, eat your heart out!

Choosing the Best Honeymoon Destination

blog-honeymoon-destinationYour honeymoon is the icing on your wedding planning cake! Dig in! You have spent months (and maybe even years) planning for your big day. Be sure to pamper yourself for all of your money saving attempts and planning efforts. Kick back, relax, and let reality set in – you are now someone’s spouse! Choosing the best honeymoon destination to celebrate your new union is easy and can be totally affordable. Read on to learn about three things you can do to ensure you pick the best spot to celebrate your honeymoon.

Tip 1: Watch the Weather

Hurricane season can really put a halt on your honeymoon plans. If there is a tropical island you have always wanted to visit, you may have to plan your vacation around its climate. Generally, hurricane season starts June 1st and ends around November 30th in the Caribbean. Despite popular belief, no island is “safe” in this area at that time and on average, 10-12 hurricanes hit each year. If you need to take your honeymoon immediately after your wedding in summer and early fall months, consider visiting Mexico or Southern California where you will be free from ultra-rainy weather. If you want to take a chance in the tropics, be sure to purchase traveler’s insurance so you can get fully refunded and visit the islands another time.

Tip 2: Know Your Vacation Personality

blog-honeymoon-veniceDo you love to lounge on the beach with a cold drink in hand? Or, are you more of an adventure junkie or sight-seeing fanatic? It’s essential to know your vacation personality (as a couple) before booking your honeymoon. If the beach is all you desire, hit up Turks and Caicos; which are known for their beautiful and desolate beaches and unforgettable sunsets. If you are a history buff and love to be on the go, Europe will satisfy your sightseeing urges. If you love to get down and dirty, consider visiting Costa Rica and zip line and kayak your day away!

Tip 3: Take a Chance

If you are on a tight budget, you can still go away on a honeymoon. Simply, take a chance! Sign up with top travel sights and get on their email list so you can view their last minute deals and steals. You can book a last minute trip days after your wedding and save a fortune! Plus, it’s exciting not to know where you’ll end up and will make for a great story to tell for years to come.

Consider these three important tips when thinking about planning your post-wedding trip to ensure you pick the best vacation spot for your personality and budget!

Why Should You Go to a Bridal Show When You’ve Already Got Pinterest?

blog-Great-Bridal-Expo-PromoWhat is your wedding theme and color? Have you chosen a venue yet? How big is your wedding? What stationery are you using? Have you picked your cake or flowers? Are you taking dance lessons? Handing out party favors? Where are your in-laws staying? Have you thought about the food? What is the style and color of your bridesmaids’ dresses? Who is doing your makeup? Brooch bouquet or natural flowers? Does all this stuff match your Save the Date cards!? Venues, and veils and Guests, OH MY! No one said planning one of the biggest days of your life would be easy, but we can help and you don’t have to go it alone.

blog-great-bridal-expo-pinterestIt’s time to make wedding planning easy! Dive deep into the world of wedding planning and have a great day with your bridesmaids looking at potential flowers, center pieces, gowns, and stationery for your wedding. There are a lot online and magazine resources to help you plan, but it can become difficult to keep it all organized. Have you spent hours on Pinterest, pinning up all your hopes and dreams for your wedding? But now what? Most links on Pinterest don’t even work and the stuff in the magazines is always over budget–am I right?

The Great Bridal Expo is easily one of the most popular bridal shows and it tours around the country. This year, the show kicked off in Washington, DC. What? It’s already happened? Keep calm. There are still more shows ahead!

Go Big this weekend in the Big Apple and in Philly! Or, swing by in October in the great city of Baltimore!

Yes, you can get help with all things wedding–from professionals! Your bridesmaids are invaluable, but when was the last time they designed the perfect stationery with exactly that one font with all the curlicues and in that particular color that matches your fiancée’s eyes? And, do you really trust them to pick songs for the DJ? Remember the chicken dance?

Bridal shows are also the place where you can win amazing things like wedding invitations valued at more than $100, center pieces and jewelry – heck, you can even get your nails done. Have a day with your bridesmaids and check out in person what really fits your style for your perfect big day.  Don’t get bogged down trying to stay afloat in this crazy wedding planning world. Pick a theme, pick a color, and pick a date!

Join experienced professionals this weekend or the next week! Win prizes and support from all kinds of specialty bridal stores. The professionals are here to make your day perfect. They are here to help make all your dreams come true.

What’s the Standard? Do You Get the Leftover Food From the Cocktail and Wedding Reception?

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Saying “I do” is actually the easiest part when tying the knot. What’s complicated are all the technicalities of wedding etiquette and the tedious (and sometimes stressful) planning process from start to finish. One area brides-to-be should really focus on is the food. Not only do you want to feed your guests, you want to ensure they don’t leave your reception hungry and disgruntled. Read on to learn about what’s standard when it comes to leftover food from your cocktail hour and your wedding reception; helping you make sure that every guest has enough and you get full use of your funds!

Cocktail hours vary. Some couples who are on a budget opt to serve strictly cheese and crackers, or they will host a room full of buffet style snacks. Others, sparing no expense will have 25 butlers serving dainty hors d’oeuvres with white gloves. The bottom line is all food should be passed out for guests to enjoy. Don’t try to hoard the extras! The cocktail hour truly makes the first impression of your event, so don’t hold back. If you are worried you and your partner won’t get to enjoy the food, be sure to ask your wedding coordinator to have the help serve you first, or set aside a large plate that you can enjoy when you are ready.

leftover-memeWhen it comes to leftover food from your reception, you have one of two choices that are socially (and financially) acceptable. You can opt to send servers back out after everyone is served and stop by each table, offering seconds. You can even direct the staff to cut entrées into smaller portions when offering seconds to help you be sure you have enough for everyone who may want more. Or, you can simply package the left overs and take them home to freeze or eat with friends and family for a post-wedding dinner. Either way, you have paid a lot of money for your food and should never allow it to go to waste. Wedding venues always prepare extra food as a courtesy and there are always a few guests who RSVP and do not show up, so be sure to take their food home or pass out their share! Both options are classy and everyone will appreciate your good taste.

It’s good to know wedding food etiquette prior to your big day, so guests can be fed and full and you can maximize your expense! What do you think? Do tell!

Thank You Folded Card vs. Post Card

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It is pertinent that you show your friends and family a lot of love for not only attending your big day, but also showering you with generous gifts. When it comes to styles of thank you cards, which should you send? Read on to learn whether you should send a traditional folded card or a casual thank you post card!

Folded thank you cards are a definite choice to send if you hosted a formal or very traditional ceremony and reception. An event that also called for black tie attire also deserves a folded thank you card. Also, many brides love the fact that folded thank you cards often are able to reflect or complement their theme or stationery that was sent out for their engagement party and their wedding invite. Plus, most stationery vendors include folded thank you cards as part of a package and allow you to send your sincerest thanks as you showcase one of your wedding pics.

Post cards are a fun approach when it comes to thanking guests. They may be acceptable to send if you hosted a more casual and less formal affair, or if you have used a theme, or opted for a destination wedding. They are easy to hang on refrigerators or place inside a scrapbook as a keepsake. However, many mature family members do not view the post cards as a suitable thank you card that matches the gravitas of the wedding celebration. Hence, if you have traditionalists in your circle of family and friends, it is generally best to stick with folded thank you cards to avoid the risk of offending any loved one who feel that a post card as a thank you card is overly-casual as proper recognition of their gifts to you.

Be sure to take into consideration the kind of wedding you are hosting, your personality and your budget before choosing a thank you card. Your guests will be pleased with your manners and thoughtfulness as you quickly thank them after your special day has come to an end!