Win a Wedding Dress Or A Honeymoon

One of the craziest things I’ve seen is the cost of weddings. So why is it that Get Married has a literal laundry list of gift certificates and honeymoon vacations on their wedding contest pages there for the taking? And why are there barely any brides signing up to win them? Hundreds of thousands of visitors every month to the site and the brides are thinking to themselves, ‘”I never win anything.” and they don’t sign up! It’s like crazy town.

“Most brides simply walk away from opportunities that seem like there’s no chance they could win. Most websites don’t even get participation in the single percentage digits of what they’re traffic is primarily because it’s either not well represented on the main site or people have just become numb to giveaways because of the mass amounts of spam and scams online. But reputable companies like these are typically itching to give this stuff away, so avoiding opportunities like this is almost like leaving money on the table.”

Right now as we speak, Get Married is offering a $500 gift certificate from David’s Bridal, a dream vacation to Honduras for 7 days on the island of Roatán, a honeymoon package to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, another one to Turtle Island in Fiji, and even two sets of dinnerware. They’re right there for the taking, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense why more brides aren’t taking advantage of it.

Enough said.  Go get it; http://www.getmarried.com/contests/

Thousands of Gulf Beach Weddings Canceled

Regardless of whether or not you throw the perfect beach wedding, some things are completely out of your control. Especially oil washing up on the shore or bad odors wafting through the air of your picture perfect day.  Such is the case with people’s beach weddings that happen to take place in the Gulf. While most places are still relatively unscathed, oil is now showing up on the shores of Panama City Beach essentially ruining plans for a lot of brides while some are holding tight to their dreams and hoping for the best. MSN did an interesting piece today asking brides about how they feel about how the oil spill is affecting them personally.

Reports are showing that thousands of weddings have been canceled although local businesses in Louisiana, Alabama and now Florida are furious about those reports claiming that while the situation is serious, it’s way too soon to change plans and overreact.  Most brides jumped ship on their plans primarily concerned about there being a problem with dead sea life washing up on shore or the potential for bad odors due to the oil. Nothing ruins a wedding faster than dead fish or bad odors.  While there’s a second camp that say everyone should continue supporting the locals, those businesses also understand that the aforementioned problems would certainly take away from the ambiance of a wedding day, but stand by their claims that it’s not as bad as people think it is on the shore and there is a lot of truth to the fact that not all areas are affected by this.  BP has already dished out over 2 billion dollars fighting the problem and supporting those local businesses affected by the catastrophe.

Are you a bride that has had their gulf beach wedding affected by the oil spill? Tell us you story in the comments or simply chime in on what you think about the whole fiasco.

Tips For a Perfect Beach Wedding

Beach WeddingAfter watching 3 separate beach weddings occur in one day, I had a lot to comment about in regards to certain aspects such as using Ipods, guest considerations, weather, etc.  It dawned on me as I watched 2 of the 3 beach weddings make the exact same mistakes, that there are many things that brides simply don’t think about.  I won’t go into detail about the basic wedding elements such as food to serve, seating arrangements and items like that, but these are things that you may not have considered for beach weddings in particular.

Bride Tide
One of the tricks to holding a beach wedding is timing it properly with the tides.  It will make the difference as to whether you’ll hold the wedding on tight packed wet sand or the soft white sand of the dunes.  Consider the tide tables and make note of when the tide is normally in or out for the particular beach where you’ll be holding your wedding.  While there is normally a lot of variance from day to day, there is some consistency that you can base your service around.

Weather the Weather
It’s best to avoid hurricane seasons which can cause all types of unpredictability with not only the weather, but also the aforementioned tides.  But because you’re close to the ocean, you should always have an alternate plan if it gets rained out.  It’s a worse case scenario, but you need to know that if it can go wrong, it probably will.  It may also be smart to spend time in the area beforehand to see if the area is prone to sand flies or if the section of beach you’re using is windy.  Gusts of sand blowing in the eyes of your guests and the wedding party can quickly ruin the day.

Audio
As I mentioned in my Ipod wedding post, the ocean is the only place on earth that is both loud and relaxing at the same time. It’s a strange anomaly and it’s the relaxing part that has people forgetting about the loud ocean part altogether. The crashing waves can make it almost impossible to hear much being said.  Make sure that your music is being pushed through a PA system and most importantly, that your pastor/priest/minister is also miked through that PA as well.  Even the most booming natural voice won’t be able to be heard over Mother Nature.  I watched two weddings where the minister wasn’t miked. The first had to yell over the ocean and it made it very unromantic when it got to the “I Do” portions of the wedding.  The second was a woman pastor who simply could not be heard at all.  Microphone everyone that will be talking.

Footwear
Consider what footwear your wedding party is going to be wearing and have them dress accordingly.  I was surprised how many women came to a beach wedding in high heels.   Make sure that your wedding party has the right type of footwear for a beach wedding and that your guests also know to plan accordingly with either flip flops or sandals.

Parents/Grandparents
Take into consideration that your parents and grandparents will have to walk the beach to their seating.  If you have any relatives that require the use of canes, walkers or that have any physical disabilities that make trudging through sand difficult, you should account for extra time getting them seated or possibly even seating them beforehand.

Distract The Kids
The second children hit the beach, you can expect them to be distracted easily.  Make it easier on yourself and simply accommodate that distraction by providing kids in attendance with beach themed wedding favors or even providing them with a small shovel or bucket. Maybe even set aside an area off to the side where they can play quietly making sand castles instead of having their parents managing their fidgeting instead of enjoying your big day.

Uninvited Guests
If you haven’t acquired a private beach, you should expect onlookers and in some cases additional noises.  Public access beaches will have your wedding surrounded by half naked adults and screaming kids complete with frisbees, dogs, and surfers.  This is something to consider for potential interruptions.  Most people are polite and will keep the distractions to a minimum when they see the wedding taking place, but on public beaches, you’re sharing the area with people who weren’t invited and you should anticipate the possibility of distractions.

Arranging to have your wedding on a private beach is easier than you think. In North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, you can contact major players for beach rental properties such as Emerald Isle Realty that can get you a section of the beach to call your own for the weekend to avoid all of the possible extra hub bub.  They can also give you access to lodging such as huge beautiful beach houses that can comfortably accommodate 6-8 couples in one beach home for under $2500 for an entire week. Imagine the convenience of having lodging, a private beach for your wedding and also a place to hold your reception afterward and all without the need to travel from one location to the other.

Power to the People
As I mentioned with the audio issue above, you should have a PA for the music to play through including the pastor, any ceremony musicians and ceremony music as well.  So it’s pretty important that you should consider that most beaches do not have electrical outlets. Be prepared to supply power to the DJ for the PA or any other items that may require some juice.  You may have to be inventive with super long electrical cords running from nearby homes.  And if there simply is none, think of something else because doing a beach wedding without a PA will be disastrous.

Seating
Check the sturdiness of any seating you supply. There’s nothing worse than your grandmother taking a fall when the chair legs sink into the sand behind her.  Benches are typically a good idea because of their broader feet which are less susceptible to sinking into the sand once someone sits in them.  It’s also best to preset each chair into the sand to make sure that any further sinking is minimal.

Beach Aisle RunnersAisle Be Back
The aisle where the bride will be walking towards the altar is going to be messy. If you can arrange for there to be a walkway, that would preferably be ideal, but most likely improbable.  Cloth aisle runners will sink into the sand once they get stepped on by your guests and then your wedding party. Thinking outside of the box to keep the aisle still “picture worthy” will be tricky. Some ideas may include having the flowergirl use an excessive amount of flowers to cover the center aisle with a lot of flowers to partially cover up the trampled sand. It looks much nicer than an crumpled up, stepped on, sandy aisle runner that makes it almost impossible for a nice center aisle shot.

Wedding Favors
Beach themed wedding favors are a great touch for a beach wedding obviously, but do it yourself (DIY) wedding favors such as hand painted seashells or sand dollars are a nice touch and can save you tons of money.  The aforementioned North Carolina Crystal Coast, and especially in the Emerald Isle area of the Crystal Coast, there are nice sized seashells virtually everywhere.  Grab a few dozen and hand paint names, dates, personal notes and glitter them up for a fantastic and frugal wedding favor idea.

So those are some things that I saw many beach weddings do wrong and that you should add to your consideration pile when you’re planning a beach wedding.  If you have any more great tips, be sure to add them below in the comment area. I’d love to hear them!

Vera Wang & David’s Bridal Join Forces

Photo from WikipediaIn huge wedding fashion news, the wedding dress mega superstar Vera Wang has agreed to work with wedding dress megastore David’s Bridal to make a line of budget wedding dresses. Vera Wang’s wedding dresses are some of the most sought after fashions in the industry and she’s created dresses worn by Jennifer Lopez and Ivanka Trump to drop a couple names.  But Vera is typically known for being the priestess of the higher end wedding dress pricing, so this seems to be a brilliant move in a time where Google web searches for “budget weddings” and “cheap wedding dresses” are at an all time high.

The arrangement is still behind close doors since there are trademark negotiations in play right now, but the timeline appears to be for Spring 2011 and the dresses will be in the ballpark of $600-$1500 which is certainly in the realm of affordability for most brides.  Even though Vera Wang seems impervious to harm regardless of what the brides are doing, the increased exposure to the everyday bride that she will achieve with this partnership is well beyond her current reach.  According to NBC, David’s Bridal currently accounts for over 30% of bridal business and that size of audience should prove immensely lucrative to the Vera Wang line.

Black Friday Wedding at Best Buy

Photo & Story obtained from WMBFNews.com

When most people do their wedding planning, it normally doesn’t involve standing in line in the freezing cold at a retail store on Black Friday.  But for Michigan couple Edward Burbo and his bride to be Jennifer, that’s exactly how they planned it.

Edward and Jennifer met two years ago online in November of 2007 and 2 days later, they were shopping for good deals together.  The couple has a blended family of 4 children between the ages of 8 and 14 and Christmases have been tough at full price.  So they, like most Americans, hit the streets early in the morning to get the best deals on Black Friday and this year it was at Best Buy where they camped out for a whopping two entire days to be first in line!

Then the idea struck them two weeks before that big day that they would be married in line at Best Buy.  While they wanted to have a big wedding, they just couldn’t afford it.  “We are saving money standing in line for Black Friday, and we’re not really spending much on the wedding,” Jennifer said.  So she dressed in a winter white wedding dress and he in a tuxedo and the two exchanged vows on Black Friday 2009.

I’m envisioning the I Do’s followed by the trampling of innocent bystanders to get into the store, cursing, a few stiff elbows, and the crush of overcrowded mayhem.  Let’s just hope the honeymoon was taken elsewhere.

For more on this story, check out WMBF’s website at http://www.wmbfnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=11582046.

2 Bride Magazines Shut Their Doors

elegant-brideCondé Nast, a major magazine publisher has decided to permanently shut the doors of four of their magazines including Gourmet magazine, parenting magazine Cookie, and 2 bridal magazines Modern Bride and Elegant Bride. The unfortunate demise of printed media has sunk its talons into newspapers around the country and now taking many magazines into the abyss with them.

In an almost bizarre coincidence, wedding website Get Married launches their premiere issue of their wedding magazine Get Married.  With what some may see as a bold move to enter into a crumbling industry, Get Married took many tremendous strides to insure that the magazine vaulted onto the scene with sure footing.

get-married-microsoft-tag

They set up a solid foundation starting with naming Stephanie Davis Executive Editor of the new publication who has written for GQ, Self, Brides and the now foiled Gourmet magazine which had been on news stands since 1941.

Then to solidify the positioning, Get Married entered into the technology arena by being the first bridal publication to incorporate Microsoft tags into its magazine so that readers can take a photo of the tag and watch more in depth content on products and other items of interest right on their camera phones.

wedding-magazineRegardless of how you view Get Married’s risky venture into the territory, the overall plan was very well executed and very timely in order to pick up the scattered brides left by Condé Nast’s unfortunate decision to shut its doors on 4 of its more prestigious titles.

Brides are even being offered a free issue of the new wedding magazine at http://www.getmarried.com/magazine to take it out for a trial run.

9 Major Wedding Scams

mad-brideWeddings should be a big day, but people fall prey to some of these very popular wedding scams.  Here are the ones that are the most popular scams and that are infuriating brides all over the world.

1.) Hear What I Say, Not What I Play

The wedding band switcheroo is unfortunately very common.  A band will hire studio musicians to record a quick demo or get a demo from another band.  You listen, you like them, you hire them.  And then the next thing you know, the band that plays at your wedding reception sounds just awful and not what you bought into.  Be sure where wedding bands are concerned that you get not only references, but if possible, an opportunity to see them play live at a local venue where you can go check them out for yourself and not just rely on studio magic.

2.) Bridal Registry Fiasco

registry-scan-gunIt seems easy. Grab a price gun, zap what you want and walk away.  The store documents what you scanned, tells your wedding guests and they buy it and as they buy it, it gets marked off the list as purchased.  Seems easy enough.  But in some cases, the store will quote the bride one price and then charge their guests and family something else.  This is a very common trick that bridal registries and stores will scam your guests with because there typically isn’t anyone watching them or keeping track of what prices they quoted.  Ask the store for a written policy, go to well known stores like Target or Outlet centers, or just ask for gift certificates and do it yourself.

3.) Something Used

Some bridal shops have decided that selling used dresses is a good idea.  While some brides nowadays are actually looking for used wedding dresses to save money, these shops are selling used dresses at a new dress cost and claiming that they are new.    While some dead giveaways are dirty trains, lipstick, hair, etc, the best way to avoid this scam is the same for most.  Get it in writing as to who the designer is, the model of the dress, size of the dress and especially what alterations are guaranteed and included.  When you pick up your dress, cross check it.

4.) Chauffeured Stretch Limo Lie

ghetto-caddyThe scam is really surprisingly prevalent in the tons of various limo agencies that are out there.  They use limo photos of vehicles that they don’t even own.  You request a stretch limo and you get a Black Cadillac or worse that they don’t show.  The fix?  Make sure that the contract specifically says what you’re getting.  If you want a 20 seat Hummer limo, make sure that it says “20 seat Hummer limo” and not just “large limo”.    Make sure the contract also reflects the date the service is to be provided, the time frame you’ll be using the service, arrival time, address of both the church and the bride, the reception and anything else that you can think of.   As for the vehicle switch, physically go and inspect the vehicle on a weekday around lunch time when the vehicle will actually be there and inspect it.  Is it nasty and smelly? Does it have torn and stained seats?   The most important thing is to verify that it’s even there at all.  If there’s a specific one you want, that would also be a good time to snag that license plate number.  As for the no-show limo, check their references and your local Better Business Bureau for any lodged complaints.

5.) Wedding Planner Flim Flam

This one is specifically for wedding vendors to watch out for.  Here’s an example of how this works with someone like a wedding planner.  A supposed bride will call from abroad (Europe, France, etc.) and call a legitimate wedding planner to set up their wedding in the states.  She sends a cashiers check to pay for the services, but it’s for $3000 more than what was agreed on.  The check clears the bank with no problem.   The wedding planner is told to then transfer the $3000 to a wedding band or caterer that they want to use.   No red flags yet because a wedding planner paying another vendor on behalf of the bride is common for the industry.  The money gets forwarded to the band and then the bank realizes a couple of weeks later that the check is a fraud.  Guess where the money gets taken back from?  The wedding planners bank account.  So if you’re a wedding planner or any wedding vendor that practices this, watch out for this one.  Check out more details on this scam here.

film-canister6.) You’re Not Ansel Adams!

Wedding photography is unfortunately a huge industry plagued with scammers.  You hire that big name photographer that you’ve always wanted to shoot your wedding and they send out someone else.  Sometimes it’s even a nightmare to get the photos from them after multiple calls and emails, which is outrageous when you pay them up front.  Again, it’s all about what you get in writing.  Make sure the contract indicates items such as who is going to be shooting the wedding, how many photos you get, how many albums you get, if you retain the negatives, etc..  Don’t mess around with this because you can’t re-enact this moment of your life.   Well, you can, but it probably won’t be the same.

7.) It Must Not Have Bloomed Yet

You hire a wedding florist to do the bouquet, centerpieces, etc.  and the expensive imported flowers are replaced with not-so-expensive flowers and 12 flowers per centerpiece mysteriously becomes 10.  The solution?  Are you seeing a trend here lovely Bride?  Get it in writing.  What exactly you get from type of flowers, how many centerpieces, how many flowers are in that centerpiece, what exactly is included in the centerpiece down to the little plastic plastic fork placecard holder.

8.) Diamonds Are Us

diamond-closeup-80-karatThe bride takes the diamond ring in to be cleaned and when she gets it back, it just doesn’t look the same. It has flaws or cracks in it and is obviously not the same diamond.  When she goes back, what do you think she hears?  Everything short of “you’re crazy” and “you’re mistaken, but that IS your diamond. ”  How do you protect yourself?  Believe it or not, the original jeweler can etch a serial number into the diamond girdle.  You can then have the jeweler doing the cleaning write down the serial number onto the invoice.  That way they have documented what they received and can’t switch it out.  Alternately, you can also bring your diamond grading certificate so that you can match the flaws originally documented with what you’re getting back.

9.) Hide and Seek

Anyone paying for a wedding should understand that there could be some unforeseen expenses that happen.  They always do.  But don’t get bamboozled with ridiculous fees that you get blindsided by such as one report from a bride on Blogger Brides that documented being charged a whopping $35 per gallon for fruit punch!  I’m sorry, excuse me?!  You can avoid things like this by keeping what the venue supplies to a minimum and taking away those opportunities to be gorged.  And be sure to watch out for cake cutting fees, cork fees, plate splitting fees and other nonsense fees that they figure out a way to rob you for.  Make sure that it’s clear between you, the wedding planner, your family, and anyone that may ask the venue staff for anything to try and do it themselves first that is  outside of what you’ve already discussed beforehand with the venue.


bride-and-groomAs you can see, there is a common thread in avoiding these scams and most all of them are “get it in writing”.  Everything down the dirtiest detail needs to be documented and signed off on.  This is your big wedding day.  It’s not enough to just choose a wedding professional from a wedding vendor directory.

You must do your homework and make sure they’re licensed, don’t have any complaints against them in the BBB, and that you get everything that you’re asking for.  It’s well known that the wedding industry is littered with overpriced expenses, scammers, and wedding vendors waiting to pray on your wallet like a vampire bat at a blood drive.  But it’s your day, not theirs, so watch your purse strings and protect yourself at every corner.

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