Be A Nice Bride: Keep Your Guests Informed

Hey ya’ll!!  Happy Thursday!  It’s almost the weekend and we are gearing up to head out for a styled shoot with some amazing vendors on Saturday. Keep an eye out for some behind-the-scenes snaps from the JDE team.

In the meantime, I wanted to share another “Be A Nice Bride” post with you.  This time it’s all about the importance of keeping your guests informed!

Save the Dates are the best way to give your guests a heads up if your wedding will be out of town or on a holiday weekend.  Since traditional invitations aren’t sent out until 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding day, this gives your guests a little extra time to make travel arrangements, book hotels, find childcare, and request time off work.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Henson Photos
Your Save the Dates are also a great place to include your wedding website, which can serve as a hub of valuable information for your guests.  You can share some background on the area for your out-of-town guests, like the best places to eat and what attractions they just have to visit before they head home.

Your website is also a fantastic place to share your wedding registry info.  Emily Post holds to the opinion that registries should never ever be shared on your wedding invitations, and I couldn’t agree more.  To avoid any awkward conversations with guests about where you’d like gifts from, share this info on your website.  And remember to keep it to a maximum of 3 stores...more than that and you start to look a little greedy.

Another valuable bit of info to include on your website is what your guests should expect on the day of the wedding.  What time will the ceremony start?  Are there special instructions for parking?  Will the party be in a field and should they leave their heels at home?  Will there be a cocktail hour or will they need to entertain themselves between the ceremony & reception?  These are all things that will help your guests come prepared and able to really relax and enjoy the day with you.

Photo Credit: Kirstyn Marie Photography
Wedding programs are one of my very favorite details about a wedding day.  Whether you have individually printed programs or a stunning chalkboard sign at the entrance to the ceremony, providing your guests with a few details about your ceremony goes a long way!   You can introduce your bridal party to everyone with little snippets about how you all know each other and how they have supported your relationship with your fiance.  Your program is a great place to explain any special readings or unity ceremonies you might be including in your ceremony since some people may not be familiar with them.

Your program is also a really wonderful place to honor lost loved ones.  I’ve seen some of the most touching tributes to grandparents, parents, and siblings in wedding programs and I always enjoy seeing the guests’ slow smiles when they read over them.

Photo Credit: Shannon Moffit Photography
Taking these extra steps to make sure that your guests are well-informed really does make a huge difference in their experience on your wedding day.  And happy guests mean a happier day for the new couple!!

Be A Nice Bride: Review Your Vendors

Hey there friends!!!  Today’s Be A Nice Bride post is going to be short & sweet.  I just wanted to put a little reminder out there about how important it is to review your vendors after your wedding day.

So much of this industry is built on referrals and word of mouth.  And writing up a little blurb to post on The Knot or WeddingWire….or even on your vendor’s Facebook page, goes a really long way with helping their business grow!  It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy or detailed.  Taking five minutes to craft a quick note about how they met your expectations and made your wedding experience great really does mean the world to them.  We each put so much heart into what we’s always so awesome to hear that it meant something to our couples.

Reviews not only help your vendors book more business….they also help other brides-to-be book the RIGHT vendors.   A glowing review of how your photographer captured every important moment and emotion throughout your wedding day could be the difference between a bride booking your amazing photog and having an incredible experience….or booking a photographer that costs less but may not give them the warm & fuzzies on their wedding day.

So after you’re back from your honeymoon and working on those thank you notes...take a couple minutes to shout it from the rooftops that your vendors were fantastic!

Photo credit: Andrew & Tianna Photography // Thank You Sign: Water's Edge Design

Be A Nice Bride: Be Considerate of Your Coworkers

I'll be the very first person to admit that it's so easy {and wonderful!} to become close friends with your coworkers.  You likely spend 40+ hours together every week, you recap your weekends, you chat over lunches, you share a lot of the same stressors throughout the week.  You may even go out for a cocktail after a rough day.  You start to depend on each other and slowly, you become friends.

Then you get engaged and suddenly those lunch-time chats veer off into wedding land.  Your coworker is giving you feedback on your fiance's crazy, overbearing aunt.  She's weighing in on dress options, keeping you company while you run wedding errands on your lunch break.  She has now become pretty invested in your wedding planning.  And then comes the time when you're addressing wedding invitations....and your work pal notices they are not on your list.

Your coworker's feelings are inevitably going to be hurt if you involve them in so many of the wedding details and let them help you with planning, and then choose not to actually invite them to the wedding.  It's like having a friend over to help you cook a 5-course gourmet dinner, letting them smell the incredible food the whole time, and then expecting them to leave before appetizers.  OUCH!  If you don't plan to include your coworker on your guest list, DO NOT involve them in the wedding planning.

Another issue between work and wedding could arise when you use company time to plan your wedding.  This seems like common sense, but there's a good chance that, at some point, you could get caught up in making calls to vendors to set up appointments, sending emails to bridesmaids to coordinate bachelorette party details, and searching Pinterest for the perfect color of roses for your bouquet.  Before you know it, you've wasted the better part of a work day on wedding things and you're behind on your actual work.  This CANNOT HAPPEN.  We all know that wedding planning can be stressful enough without having to worry about getting reprimanded at work.  Or worse, potentially losing your job!

Do whatever you have to to set aside time specifically for wedding planning.  And make sure you have the resources to take care of this OUTSIDE of work.

One more thing to remember when you get engaged: Everyone is so happy for you.  And I mean that.  Your coworkers included.  However, no one wants to hear about your wedding plans CONSTANTLY.  Try to be considerate enough to ask your coworkers about things involving them as well.  Ask about their weekends, their grandkids, their trips with loved ones.  And LISTEN when they talk.  They'll be more apt to show their excitement for you too!

Be A Nice Bride: Be Kind to your Guests

You're getting married.  You have 157 people that have RSVP'ed that they are elated to be celebrating with you.  They're going to be spending money to take time off work.  They'll be purchasing dresses & suits to attend.  They'll be bringing a gift for you, maybe getting a babysitter, and booking a hotel room.  All to celebrate with YOU on your big day.

So....what can you do for them?  I've got a couple of ideas.

-  Don't keep them waiting.  Whether your guests traveled ten minutes down the road or took a day of flights to celebrate with you, you need to value their time.  Do whatever you can to make sure that they do not spend the majority of your wedding day waiting on you to show up.  This sounds like common sense, doesn't it?  But you might be surprised to learn that the most common complaint people have about weddings has nothing to do with the food or the bar or the music.  It's generally the fact that the couple was either late to starting the ceremony or took too long taking pictures between the ceremony and reception.  Be mindful of this.  Take measures ahead of time to talk with your planner and your photographer to minimize the time your guests are waiting on you to get the party started.  This is a bonus for you and your new husband too.  The sooner you get down the aisle and then to the reception, the sooner you can really start celebrating your new life together!!!  That's what this is all about anyways, right??

- Be prompt/sincere with your Thank You notes.  Yes, your guests know you've got a lot going on after the wedding.  But putting in a little extra effort and getting those thank you notes out in a timely manner {within 3 months according to Emily Post} really does make an impact.  People tend to remember the bride that was "too wrapped up in herself and her new husband" to write thank you notes when she should have.  Not only that, but make them as personal as possible.  Again, your guests know that you've got 157 notes to write.  And after a while, those words are all going to blend together and make zero sense to you.  But your guests can also spot a fill-in-the-blank thank you note from a mile away.  No they won't call you out on it.  But is that the impersonal impression you want to leave?  Probably not.

- Make sure they know what to expect.  Are you having an outdoor wedding in the dead of summer?  Or maybe an outdoor wedding on a brisk fall evening?  You may want to let your guests know so that they dress appropriately.  If you're having a wedding that is anything out of the ordinary {meaning not in a hotel ballroom}, do what you can to let your guests know ahead of time.  Female guests especially like to know what sort of footwear, dresses, coverups, etc. they should plan to wear.  Happy guests are the ones that are prepared and dressed for the environment they will be spending multiple hours in.  You can spread this information by including a small informative card in your invitations, adding a note on your wedding website, or even spreading it by word-of-mouth!

- Do what you can to keep them comfortable.  You've sent out the invitations and let everyone know that your wedding will be on the gorgeous waterfront in late August.  You're thinking incredible pictures on the dock and your guests are thinking sweltering heat and unrelenting mosquitoes.  If you have the means, be sure to prepare for things like this.  Rent misting fans to be spread out around your reception area.  Place bug spray in pretty containers near the bathrooms.  These tiny additions to your checklist will make a world of difference when it comes to the experience your guests have while they celebrate with you.

Be a Nice Bride: Be Good to Your Family

Family.  We all have some form of family surrounding us, supporting us, and sometimes making our lives twice as difficult as it needs to be.  That may not sound sweet and sugar-coated....but it's the truth of it.  Families can be a wonderful thing and they can also make things very messy.  As someone who deals with her fair share of family drama, I get it.  It just is what it is.

And when you're engaged, the last thing you want to have to deal with is how your dear sweet mother can't stand to be around Aunt Jojo.  Or how your older sister is a teeny bit bitter that she's not the one getting married.  Or how your great grandfather tends to be a little heavy on the whiskey.  All you want during this big important stage of your life is for your family to act "normal" for a keep from embarrassing you, to try to get along with each other, and to put on a good face for the in-laws.  And that's TOTALLY fair. the end of the day, they are your family.

They are the ones that have always, and WILL always be there for you.  They're the ones that loved you through your super awkward phase {even if they do continue to bring out those awful pictures every chance they get}.  They are the ones that want nothing more than for you to be happy with the man of your dreams.  And chances are, they are SO THRILLED to be included in your big day. are just a few ways you can make sure to let your family know that you appreciate their love and support....and to try and maintain your sanity in the process.

- Choose your battles.  I know how that sounds.  And I know that the idea of agreeing to something that isn't your first choice for YOUR big day probably makes your stomach turn.  But here's the reality of the situation: it's one day.  And if your mother is absolutely positively insisting that she be allowed to invite her crazy best friend from high school that you haven't seen since you were 6....allow it.  If it's not going to completely and totally ruin your entire day and it's going to make your mother happy....just go with it.  Allowing her this one thing is going to save you a lot of arguments, headaches, and bottles of wine down the road.  I'm not saying you should give in to every demand that every family member makes.  But again, choose your battles.  Only fight the ones that are really worth the energy.  You'll be needing all the energy you can muster during this process.

- Thank them.  This sounds simple.  And sort of like common sense.  But a lot of times, the effort of family members goes unnoticed.  Because, after all, they're family.  So they would do it all for you regardless, right?  Well....that may be so.  But it doesn't mean that they don't deserve a hug and maybe a cup of coffee...and genuine "thank you".  Those two words go so far.  So, when your sister stays up till 3am on a work night helping you put together programs and your mom runs tons of last minute errands that you just forgot about and your dad has calluses on all of his fingers from making those flower boxes you just had to have....Just thank them.  And you'll see that, when they feel appreciated, they'll all get along so much better with each other...and with you.

- Don't forget....your fiance has a family too!  You're not alone in this.  Everyone has a crazy family.  Seriously.  So....while you're freaking out about how your family is going to act leading up to and at your wedding, just try to remember that your fiance is probably doing the same.  And you can both probably rest assured that your crazy aunts will end up dancing on the tables TOGETHER and neither one of you will be more responsible than the other for bringing the crazies to the wedding.

Be a Nice Bride: Be Good to Your Fiancé

Remember that handsome man that asked you to be his one-and-only for the rest of forever??  You know, the guy who gave you that ridiculously gorgeous ring you're flaunting all over town??  That same guy who would do anything in the world to make you happy?  Of course you remember....because you love him so much and can't wait to spend the rest of your life making him happy.

Sometimes, it's really easy to get caught up in all the wedding planning and to forget what this whole journey is really about: You're about to marry your best friend and start a brand new life together.  Above all else, THAT is the most important part.

So, how have you been treating that wonderful man of yours since you got engaged?  You didn't treat him badly before the ring {obviously....he proposed, right??} don't treat him badly now!  Here are a few tips to keep yourself grounded and focus a bit more on your relationship with your fiance than the ring or the dress or the big party at the end of this whole thing.

- Have "non-wedding" nights.  Before the ring, all of your conversations didn't revolve around centerpieces and Windsor knots.  Why should they now??  Set aside some time to do things together that don't involve the wedding.  Go to a game, have dinner and see a movie, work out together.  But keep wedding talk OFF the table.  It'll still be there tomorrow.  Tackle it then.  For now, relish in the fact that you have this amazing man in your life.

- Let him have some say in things.  I know they say that you're wedding day is "your" day.  But the truth is....IT'S HIS WEDDING TOO!  Let him choose the music.  Late night snack.  The groomsmen's shoes.  And whether you agree with his choice or not, deal with it.  Choose your battles!

- Be nice about his family/friends.  There are going to be times during the planning process that you will disagree with your fiance's mom or aunt or grandmother.  And that's ok.  You'll have very different views.  And, again, that's ok.  At the end of the day, you and your fiance should be a team.  Hopefully you have already had discussions about his family/your family and the influence they might have on your wedding day.  And hopefully, you've established that you're ON THE SAME TEAM.  At the end of the day, the two of you should have each others backs.  You should do whatever it takes to make sure that you're both happy with the end result.

Be a Nice Bride: Be Good to Your Vendors

As a bride, you're going to be working very closely with some of the best vendors in the industry.  They're going to have a hand in your wedding day and you are hiring them to help make it one of the greatest days of your life.  These vendors are going to be incredibly important to you, your fiancé, and your big day.  You should make sure to treat them accordingly.

One of the most difficult aspects of planning your wedding is going to be choosing your vendors.  The wedding industry is HUGE.  It's going to take you and your wedding planner time to find the baker that will create the wedding cake of your dreams.  It'll take time to find the photographer that'll capture the moments of your day in a way that will make you tear up every time you see the images.  It'll take time to find a band that'll perfectly play your first dance.

And every time you choose a professional to be one of your wedding vendors, as soon as you sign that contract, you've put your faith in that vendor to make your wedding everything you've dreamed of it being.  It's important that you know how honored those vendors are to know you're trusting them with such a special day.  They know that you didn't have to choose them and they couldn't be happier that you did.

As the bride, you should do whatever you can to make sure your vendors know how important they are to you.  Here's a few tips to do so.

- Do not treat them like the hired help, they're people too.  They have friends and families, they also go to weddings as guests.  Do not treat them like their sole purpose on earth is to serve you.  Be respectful.

- Their time is valuable.  Never EVER take it for granted.  If you have a meeting scheduled, show up on time.  It sounds simple, but punctuality goes a long way.

- Feed your vendors at your wedding.  They are putting in a very, very long day to make sure that all your dreams come true.  Make sure to give them fuel to do the best work they can do.

- Remember that each one of your vendors WANTS to do an impeccable job with your event.  It speaks for their business.

Be a Nice Bride: How to keep your friends

The most wonderful thing has happened!  You're engaged!!  Now begins a new chapter in your life and you want your very closest friends to celebrate with you, in so many ways.  There will be engagement parties and bridal showers. Bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners.  Dress shopping, cake tastings, fittings, and on and on and on.

Your friends are so happy that you've found your match.  And they're honored that you've chosen to involve them in your big day!  However, there are certain things that you need to make sure you take into account as a bride...if you want to gain a husband and still keep your friends in the process.

Schedules:  Now that you're engaged, there's a very good chance that wedding planning has started to consume a very large part of your life...and that's expected.  This is going to be the perfect day you've always dreamed of and you're willing to put in the time and energy to make that happen.  And your friends want to put in as much effort as they can to help!  But it's so important to try and remember that they still have jobs, families, and relationships of their own to juggle.  They are going to be available as much as possible to help you pick the perfect flowers for the bouquets.  They will do their best to be there for you every time you call and have a panic attack about writing your vows.  And yes, they do want to see the 72 ideas you found on Pinterest for the photo booth.  But there will inevitably come a time during your wedding planning that they won't be available.  Life happens, and sometimes it gets in the way of your plans.  Try to be as understanding as possible and remember that this wedding may be taking up every waking minute of your life, but it can't take up every minute of theirs.  Be respectful of that.

Your Friends Have Lives Too:  As the bride, you're not the only one to have exciting things happening.  Your friends are also having big life changes every day!  They're your friends because they have celebrated you every day, not just since you became a bride.  When you met that dream guy of yours, when you got that big promotion at work you had worked so hard for, when you finally got that new car you had been wanting, when you and your guy first moved in together....they celebrated every bit of it with you.  You need to make sure that you don't let your impending wedding overshadow your friends' big changes!  Do whatever you can to continue to celebrate these exciting moments in their lives as well.  Acknowledge their accomplishments.  Listen to them dish about their new love interests.  Have wine nights without bringing up your wedding.  And most importantly, thank them...just for being your friend.  After all, you are who you are in large part because of them.  And your fiance fell in love with you for being you.  You sorta owe them!!

The Bachelorette Party:  You've probably thought about/mentally planned out your "last fling" for a very long time.  And guess what, your friends have likely been doing the same thing since you got that sparkly new rock!  They can't wait for a big girls' outing to celebrate their dear friend and bride-to-be.  However, as grand as your bachelorette party has looked in your head, you have to be realistic.  A week-long jaunt to Hawaii to celebrate your last bit of "singledom" is likely not in the cards {or the wallets} for most of your friends.

Your friends do not want to miss this amazing trip.  But they also don't want to feel like they'll need to take out a small loan to afford it.  Being in a wedding/attending a wedding is very expensive.  Not only do the dresses and gifts cost money.  But many people will have to take off work and make travel arrangements.  Add to that the showers & parties {all of which they want to be involved in}, and an extravagant bachelorette party could be the breaking point for some of your friends.

Try to be mindful of your friends' time/money constraints.  If you're dead-set on doing that trip to the other side of the continent, you should go for it.  After all, you likely won't get this chance again.  But make sure to be understanding if any of your friends gracefully bow out from this part of the wedding fun.

Your Wedding Is One Day:  It's a very BIG day for you.  But it's still only one day.  The ring on your finger does not give you a free pass to monopolize the year leading up to your big day.  Try not to have 367 bridal showers/engagement parties/bridal outings leading up to your wedding.  Everyone wants to celebrate with you.  But you cannot expect them to come to every single event that is thrown by you/in your honor.  Referencing my earlier point, your friends have lives outside of your wedding.  They have family members with birthdays and anniversaries.  They have trips of their own planned.  They have other friends getting married, other weddings and showers to go to in addition to yours.  And they should be able to do all of those things while still wanting to celebrate with you.

Not only is it a little presumptuous to expect everyone to celebrate your wedding ten times over and bring you gifts every time {again....expensive}...people may start to feel like your wedding day has turned into a wedding year.  And they will begin to resent you when they have to turn down that weekend getaway with their sweetie so that they can go to yet another of your bridal showers, this time thrown by your great aunt.  So try not to monopolize your friends' social calendars too much.

The Dresses:  I know every bride says they want their maids to look ravishing at the alter with them.  And I know it's really hard to find dresses that fit every body type & personality in your bridal party.  I really do understand all of that, and chances are, so do your friends.  However, please keep in mind that the worse you make your bridesmaids look, the worse your pictures will turn out.  Look back at those pictures from when you were a kid and your mom dressed you in those clothes that you hated for family pictures.  Taking the actual clothes out of the equation, how miserable did you look?  When someone is wearing something they dislike or feel that they look less than their best, it shows.  Keep that in mind when choosing the dresses for your maids.  Let them have a say in what they wear.  Trust me on this....this is one of those "choose your battles" times.

When Your Turn Is Over:  The wedding has come and gone.  You're very happily married and probably more than a little ready to get back to "regular" life.  No more crazy wedding planning taking up every spare minute you have and keeping you awake at night.  And there's a pretty good chance that one {or a few} of your friends will be heading for the alter next.  Yay!!!  And there's also a good chance you'll be chosen to help with their big day.  Double Yay!!  But, something to try to remember.  You planned your wedding and it was absolutely perfect....for you.  Having planned your wedding does not make you a professional wedding planner.  Therefore, constantly throwing out the whole "Well at myyyy wedding...." when discussing plans for your friend's is a little frowned upon.  Read: It Gets Old.  What worked for you and your hubby may not work for your friends.  You have to be mindful of that and realize that it's not your wedding anymore.  It's their turn.

In closing, when you're the bride-to-be/newlywed, just be nice.  Consider your friends' feelings, wallets, lives.  Don't be demanding just because you have the ring on your finger and a wedding date planned.  These people were your friends before you were engaged and, if you'd like to keep them as your friends after your big day, you will need to treat them like they're important to you.

Happy Planning!