A few cool wedding sites to check out

Just wanted to give a shout-out to a few very helpful sites for brides:

You can get a head start on planning your honeymoon with BBI Honeymoon Packages - stop by their site and check out their very helpful services.

Neat new photo resource!

There's a great new photo resource out there that you should know about! It's called Every Single Shot. With their services, you can collect photos of your wedding from your guests. They'll even send out emails to your guest list reminding them to upload their photos onto the site after your wedding. And, when all of your photos are uploaded, you can create a DVD, or order prints right from their site. Check out more about how it works Here.

Sustainable photography

There are many ways to go green with your wedding. While having an organic, local menu, or a recycled gown is an awesome step, those are not your only eco-friendly opportunities. For instance, sustainable photography is catching on in the wedding industry. Becoming a patron of these companies is a great way to support this new movement and bring a new level of sustainability to your wedding.

Greener Photography, is a great resource for finding a green photographer. They offer certification for green photographers, and a wealth of information on what it is to be green in the photography industry.

Like we've said before, if you splurge on nothing else in your wedding, splurge on your photography. Your pictures will last a lifetime, and wouldn't it feel great to look back on your pictures and know that you made a sustainable choice?

Social Media Wedding Etiquette

Social media has added a whole new chapter to the etiquette books. Unfortunately, sometimes Facebook or Twitter updates that are posted out of excitement can unintentionally hurt other's feelings. Weddings are emotional for most people, and when emotions run high, so does the potential for drama. So how do you know what to put on Facebook or post on Twitter? Here's a list of some guidelines for social media use.

1. Do Not – use Facebook as a replacement for your wedding website. Wedding websites are there for a reason. Use them! They already have pages for everything, and you can limit the people who have your URL. Some websites even allow you to password protect your site or individual pages so that you don't get any unsolicited traffic.

2. Do Not - use Facebook to vent. It's just inappropriate. If you're having planning related problems, discuss them with your soon-to-be husband and practice your team problem-solving skills. Or, if you just need to vent, call up one of your girlfriends and have a good rant. Or, if you really feel the need to write it all down, start keeping a journal. Journaling is very therapeutic, and can help tame stress levels.

3. Do Not – send invitations via Facebook If you're hosting a keg party in your backyard, Facebook invites would probably work. But if you're out of college and want your invitations to symbolize that (1) you're old enough to be getting married, and (2) you understand that a wedding is more than just a party, send real invitations.

4. Do Not - put your registry information on Facebook. If people want to send you a gift, they will. It's totally inappropriate to be soliciting gifts from people who weren't even invited to the wedding. Again, this is an item that would be appropriately placed on a page of your wedding website.

5. Do Not- Discuss your wedding plans on Facebook. It is rude to talk about an invitation-only social event in front of someone who was not invited. You wouldn't do it in person, so why would you do it online?

6. Do Not – update your status during your ceremony. What may seem like a fun idea now is just going to seem ridiculous to you in 20 years. Not only will you feel foolish for pausing your serious, commitment-oriented ceremony for something trivial, but Facebook and other types of social media are constantly shifting, and whatever type you're using will likely be obsolete by the time you're trying to explain to your kids what you're doing with your mobile phone at the alter in your wedding video.

7. Maybe – Announce your engagement on Facebook There's nothing wrong with letting people know you're getting married, but there's a right and a wrong way to go about it. Before you post anything on Facebook, make sure you've told all of your close friends and family personally. Think about it from their perspective: wouldn't it hurt your feelings if you found out about your daughter's or best friend's wedding online at the same time as everyone else? And be aware, if you post about your engagement, everyone who reads it is going to expect an invite. Explaining that they are not invited may actually be more stress than it's worth.

8. Do – Post engagement photos and pictures of your ring. Facebook is a great way to share information, and your friends and family are definitely going to want to see pictures of you and your soon-to-be spouse. However, when/if you post pictures of your engagement ring, do so thoughtfully. Don't write tacky, boastful captions about how huge the ring is. People want to see pictures because they're happy that you found love, not a two-carat ring.

9. Do Not- Post messages for your bridal party or other wedding-related groups. This is the same thing as talking about an invite-only party in front of someone. You undoubtedly have friends who you didn't include in your bridal party, and talking to/about your wedding party members may make them feel like their missing out on the fun. Remember that this type of etiquette is meant to avoid hurting others, but it's also meant to limit the drama in your life. The fewer feelings you hurt the fewer hurt people you're going to have to deal with.

10. Do – post your wedding date. People who know you're engaged are probably going to want to know when the wedding is, so it's perfectly fine to share this. Your wedding date can't really be misconstrued in any way. Someone would be hard-pressed to find a reason to feel this was offensive. But again, be aware that some people may take this information as an invitation.

11. Do Not – Post the details (time, location, etc). First of all, you're just asking for some wedding crashers, and second of all, this information should be given to people via your invitation, not Facebook. Facebook friends who weren't invited may consider this an open invitation, and you could find yourself with a few unexpected guests.

12. Do Not – Post the link to your wedding website. This totally defeats the purpose of not putting this information on Facebook. You should only share your wedding website information with your friends, family, and people invited to the wedding. Unless you're inviting all of your 750 Facebook friends to your wedding, send your website link out on your save-the-dates or invitations.

13. Do – post pictures of your wedding. After the big day, everyone is more relaxed, and less likely to take offense to something you post. Plus, you'll also be under a lot less stress, so should a situation arise, you'll have more time and energy to handle it. And, posting pictures is a great way to help people who couldn't be there feel included.

Inexpensive Designer Gowns for a Good Cause!

If you're looking for an amazing wedding gown, have a limited budget, or want to support a great cause with the purchase of your gown, check out Brides Against Breast Cancer! BABC is going on a nationwide tour for Making Memories. The proceeds from the BABC events "help bring a moment of joy into world of someone for whom a cure is too late."

Though some of the dresses are pre-owned, more than half of the gowns at each event are brand new designer gowns donated form designers, manufacturers, and retail bridal shops. Check the calendar to see when they're coming to your city!

For General Information Click Here

For the Calendar of Events and Cities Click Here

Wedding ABC's (part II)

O: Officiant – More and more couples are choosing an officiant that they know and who has some relation to them personally. Choosing an officiant that you feel comfortable with is very important, especially since many couples will be going through marriage classes with their officiant.

P: Photography – If you splurge on nothing else wedding-related, splurge on photography. The pictures you take will be invaluable not only to you, but to your children, grandchildren, parents and friends. Each photographer is different so take the time to visit with several photographers and find the one whose style and quality you like. You may regret overspending on your cake or centerpieces, but you'll never regret overspending on your pictures.

Q: Quality – There is a theory that any time the word "wedding" is mentioned prices skyrocket without any effect on the quality of services. In truth, most of the time this theory is not true. When vendors hear "wedding" they do charge more, but it's because they realize that they're dealing with the most important day of someone's life, and therefore the product requires much more attention to detail than a product for another occasion.

R: RSVPs – Ah, the eternal struggle between the wedding couple and guest's RSVPs. Inevitably, one or two guests always forgets to send theirs, or it gets lost in the mail. Enter the age of Online RSVPs. Now, you can include your wedding website URL right on your invitation and send guests right to your website to RSVP.

S: Stationery – If you think all you need to worry about is wedding invitations, think again. You'll need engagement announcements, save the date cards, and invites; RSVPs, and thank you cards for all of your wedding-related events - including your engagement party, bridal shower, bridesmaid's luncheon, bachelor and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinner, ceremony & reception, and day-after wedding brunch. And don't forget about menus and place cards!

T: Thank-You Notes – If you follow no other wedding etiquette, please send thank-you notes, and in a timely fashion. It's common courtesy, and it makes people feel appreciated. Most guests spend a lot of money to prepare for and go to a wedding, and it's very nice to be acknowledged.

U: Union – Ultimately, this wedding is about you and your spouse coming together to form a family. But this union also signifies the union of both of your families. Everyone's situation is different, and there's no set protocol for how to handle every situation that may arise. But you can choose to handle whatever may come with class.

V: Vendors – Dealing with vendors is stressful, and 90% of the battle is usually just finding someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. Don't be afraid to shop around, and when you do, consider more than just price. There is usually a reason that one vendor is more expensive than another. Take the time to compare packages, services, references, and most importantly your instincts about each one.

W: Wedding Party – Ironically, your wedding party (especially bridesmaids) can become a major source of stress for some brides. That's why it's so important to really put thought into who you select as your attendants. It's normal to want your best friends standing up with you, but you also need to think about who's actually going to fulfill the responsibilities (and there are a lot) of being in your wedding party.

X: Xanax – Yes, Xanax -just kidding. But seriously, weddings can be stressful, so it's important to take care of yourself. Take a day or two a week off from wedding planning. This is a marathon, not a sprint; you've got to pace yourself. Speaking of running, exercise is a major stress reliever, and it'll get you into shape for the big day!

Y: Your Registry – Wedding Registries are changing. Couples have more options than ever, and because most couples live together before marriage registry items are getting less and less traditional. However, it is still a major faux pas to put your registry information on your wedding invitation. Instead, list your registry information on your personal wedding website, and include the link to your website on your invitation.

Z: Zany – Weddings today are getting a more personal touch. Couples are putting their own unique stamp on their festivities, and we love it! Don't be afraid to break out of tradition and get a little zany! You'll know what's right for you, whether that be holding a non-traditional bash, or keeping is simple with a personalized theme.

Your Green Wedding Dress

We know that finding the perfect dress is important, as it should be. Luckily, there is no need to sacrifice your ethics in order to wear a Vera Wang! There are tons of ways to make your dress an eco-friendly part of your wedding.

The recycled dress:
Getting a recycled dress is a great way to (1) save money and (2) go green. If you think about it, a recycled dress has really only been worn for about 8 hours, and they're usually still like new! There are some awesome sites to find gently used gowns. My personal favorite is Preownedweddingdresses.com. They have a huge selection of beautiful dresses usually around half of their original price! They also have awesome tips for gown shopping, and you can see where the dress is located geographically to avoid excessive shipping. There are other great resources out there as well. Recycled Bride is another great resource for the eco-savvy bride. They've got resources for everything: grooms, bridesmaids, mother of the bride, shoes, rings, even the reception! An awesome resource for the vintage inspired bride is The Frock. They have 18 pages of amazing unique vintage dresses.

The eco-friendly material dress:
Mr. Larkin clothes. These eco-conscious designs are phenomenal! One dress in particular, titled Elsa, struck my fancy. It's made of 100% milk and has gorgeous sequins – perfect for 2010. The milk fiber is antibacterial and enriches your skin when you wear it – talk about a great wedding present to yourself! Elsa is also the dress that Livia Firth wore to the 16th annual SAG Awards. Check out Elsa for yourself at shopflick.com, and find out more about milk yarn here. Also check out Conscious Clothing. They have more than just dresses; Conscious Clothing has men's wedding attire, bridesmaid's dresses, lingerie and flower girl dresses. Their beautiful collections are all hemp blends, and they have options for the vegan bride as well! Poetic Justice has a smaller (but just as gorgeous) collection of organic gowns to peek at.

What to do with the dress after the wedding:
Although you may have the urge to save your dress for your hypothetical daughter, resist! More than likely, (a) the styles of today will not be the styles of your children's generation, and (b) your daughter will probably give you grief about whatever style you wear. So, what do you do with your dress? Donate it. The I Do Foundation and Brides Against Breast Cancer are both great organizations for donating your dress. When you donate your dress you're supporting a good cause and recycling!

My favorite option for recycling your dress is to style it into something new. I love the idea of creating a new classic dress that you can wear out on your anniversaries. How special! And instead of saving the dress for your kids, use excess fabric to create a baby blanket or christening gown. Using your dress to make a keepsake for your children is much more sensible than expecting them to wear it. Another option is to take a piece of the dress, embroider your wedding date and names and have it framed. You can also sell your dress recycling sites like the ones mentioned above, and let another bride get as much happiness out of it as you did! Also look at sites like The Bride To Bride Botique and Wedding Dress Market.

Whether you choose to implement one or all of these ideas, the slightest effort makes a big difference. Good luck shopping!

Your green wedding stationery

Even if you're a technology fiend you're going to use a lot of stationery over the course of your engagement. You'll need announcements, save the date cards, engagement party and bridal shower invitations and thank you notes, wedding invitations and RSVP cards, ceremony programs, place cards, menu cards, and wedding thank you notes. As easy as it would be to just send everything via email, having actual wedding invitations is always nice. Going green with your wedding stationery isn't as difficult or expensive as you may think. So, here are some awesome tidbits on how to "green up" your wedding stationery.

Paper Options:
Paper has only been made from trees for about 150 years now, so in addition to using recycled paper, you can look for tree-free paper. Invite Site is a great source for tree free wedding stationery. They also have great DIY kits for the crafty bride. Also, look for paper that is processed chlorine free (PCF). PCF paper is partially or totally recycled and is either unbleached or bleached with non-chlorine compounds. Though PCF paper is the most eco-friendly, also keep an eye out for these other common acronyms. ECF or elemental chlorine-free indicates that the paper fibers (virgin or recycled) are bleached with chlorine dioxide or other chlorine compounds. TCF or totally chlorine-free indicates that the fiber is 100% virgin and is either unbleached or bleached with non-chlorine compounds. Recycled paper cannot be TFC because the original processing of the paper is unknown.

Plant it!:
One of the greatest trends right now is plantable stationery. Foreverfiancies.com has an entire plantable collection! Their 100 percent recycled papers are embedded with wildflower seeds so your guests can plant your invitation! They also have save the date and announcement cards to match your theme.

Green ink:
Though many companies advertise themselves as using sustainable printing methods, there are a couple of options when it comes to ink. Soy based ink is popular and definitely more eco-friendly than petroleum based inks, but the best choice is actually vegetable based ink. Most soy ink is only about 20 percent soy, and it produces more volatile organic compounds (VOC's) than vegetable based inks. Vegetable ink is also considered more sustainable because it utilizes more than one crop, and it doesn't compete with the market for biodiesel fuel. Soybean oil, on the other hand, is used to make biodiesel.

Email RSVP's:
I highly recommend setting up an email address strictly for your wedding. Everything is online these days, and you'll want all of your online wedding information coming to you in one spot. Once you've set up your wedding email, save some paper (and some money on postage!) and have your guests email their RSVP's. Or, if you have a wedding website with an online RSVP feature, you can simply have guests reply there. Include your email address, or your website URL on your stationery invitation and give short directions for, including entrée choices, reply by date, and whether or not they will attend. If you have wedding planning software with bulk email capabilities, this step will be a snap.

With all of the stationery you're sure to be using over the course of your engagement, this is a great, easy area to go green. Happy planning, and more sustainable wedding tips coming soon!

Dream Green Weddings: Simple steps to a sustainable wedding

Don't be scared! You don't have to wear a hemp dress or serve only mixed greens at you reception. Green is the new black, and with everyone jumping on the veggie-oil powered bandwagon, we think that the best way to begin your new life as a couple is sustainably. There is absolutely no need to give up your dream wedding in order to make it sustainable. There are plenty of resources to make having a green wedding easier for you, so keep checking back for more green wedding tips.

Green weddings should start from the beginning: your engagement.

The Ring:
The fact is that there are plenty of diamonds and precious metals out there just waiting to be recycled, and there tons of resources to help you do it! Hop on the Internet and research sustainable jewelers in your area. Visit pawn shops. Even if you don't find the exact ring you're looking for, remember that a reputable goldsmith can redesign both engagement and wedding rings to your exact specifications. Wouldn't it be great to know that your ring is one-of-a-kind and made of recycled materials? Green Karat is a great resource to get some ideas about sustainable rings, and Precious Earth Jewelry has an entire collection of environmentally conscious engagement rings (as well as other awesome jewelry). My personal favorite is Brilliant Earth. Check out their conflict free diamond buying guide and their handy retailer checklist for finding real conflict free diamonds.

Go digital! Although you've probably been planning your day in your head for a while now, the real planning commences immediately after the engagement. But the days of brides lugging around giant wedding books filled with magazine cut outs to vendor after vendor are over. Enter the online wedding planner. wedding planner software is available all over the Internet these days; you just have to know what you're looking for.
A good comprehensive planner will allow you to plan all of the aspects of your wedding in one spot. There's more to a wedding than just the wedding day. You'll need comprehensive tools for your budget, calendar, guest list, wedding related events like the engagement party, and a checklist. Also, make sure you can export your data, and can print pages if need be. Phone Applications are another handy feature to look for. Being able to access your wedding details wherever you are on your phone saves you from having to haul around messy (and wasteful) papers.
Rather than buying tons of bridal magazines, access them online, and save inspirational pieces in your online workbook's inspiration board instead of printing them out. Glamour Magazine, has a fun new wedding section, and Get Married Magazine has a great section on planning a green wedding.

Whether you're having an informal beach wedding, or tuxes and ball gowns you can have the green wedding of your dreams! More green tips to come!

Win a free year of My Wedding Workbook!

Check out your two chances to win a free year's subscription to My Wedding Workbook's Premium Wedding Planning Tools! Just stop by the Budget Savvy Bride and the Indie Bride to enter for your chance to win!

Good Luck, and Happy Planning!

iPhone apps you’ll love: misc. and inspiration

Inspiration and Misc.

Gotta Etsy (.99)
Gotta Etsy is the perfect on the go tool for Etsy lovers. You can browse listings by categories and search keywords, materials and tags. You can also map sellers, and bookmark listings!

myPantone ($9.99)
If you haven't picked a color palette, myPantone may be for you. You can build and share color libraries, capture and extract colors from photos, and upload to the myPantone.com website.

Wedding Vows (.99)
Wedding Vows is a collection of sample wedding vows. You can search using keywords, and save you favorites. You can also create and edit you own vows with the app.

Waltz (free)
If you're planning a waltz for your wedding dance, this may be a great app for you. Waltz offers men's and women's footwork for you and your partner, and you can get more dance steps on the website.

Wedding Blogs (.99)
Wedding blogs gives you access to wedding blogs all in one spot. You can add blogs when you find them, or search by keyword. And best of all you can email posts to friends when you find something that really inspires you!

Wedding Envi ($1.99)
Wedding Envi organizes all kinds of wedding images to help you find inspiration for your wedding. See everything from dresses, tuxedos, rings, shoes and more. From an image, you can go directly to the website to read more.

iPhone apps you’ll love: rings, timers, and getting in shape

The Ring
Ring Builder ($1.99)
With Ring Builder you can design your ideal ring by selecting a diamond and a setting. You can save designs, and email them to friends. The images are great to have when you go to meet with jewelers.

Diamond Terms – A Buyer's Glossary ($1.99)
Learn all about diamond shopping with Diamond Terms. It covers types, cuts, flaws, properties, grades, industry and general diamond terms. Best of all, you don't have to have an internet connection to access it!

The Timer
Wedding Day (.99)
Wedding Day is a real time countdown to your wedding day. It also continues the countdown after you're married and has 10 different background colors to match your style.

Wedding Date (.99)
Wedding Date counts down to your wedding day and counts up after you're married, but it also displays messages for each anniversary, and it's totally customizable! You can use your own picture as a background, and set music!

Getting in Shape
Shape Bride ($3.99)
Shape Bride has exercises, recipes, eat-right tips, tips on finding the right gown for your body type, and a 6-month beauty countdown. Record your reps, sets and equipment used for each exercise to track you progress.

Women's Health Workouts ($1.99)
This app has 16 pre-loaded workouts to boost metabolism, tone total body, strengthen core, and more! Each move has pictures to help guide you, as well as step-by-step instructions. You can keep a training log and analyze your progress. AND... there is a rest timer to help you monitor cool down periods between exercises for better performance.

iPhone apps you’ll love: dress and accessories

Over the next few posts, we'll be bringing you all kinds of wedding-related iPhone applications to make your life a little easier. So, keep checking back, and let us know about your favorite apps!

The Dress and Accessories

Wedding Dress Look Book (Free)
Wedding Dress Look Book is a free app to help you shop for a gown. With a 3½ star rating, most users liked it. It offers listings of salons that carry specific dresses, and you can search by style, shape and price. Best of all, you can bookmark your favorites for later.

Brides Dressing Room (Free)
Brides Dressing Room also has 3½ stars. You can browse both wedding and bridesmaids' dresses by silhouette, brand, price and other specifics. Save all of your favorites, find the dress at a store near you, and make an appointment in one fell swoop.

iBridalGown ($3.99)
iBridalGown is helpful for tracking data at the actual salon. At each salon, you can enter information about the gown your considering and compare it to others later. You can also take pictures of the gown at the salon and save it with the rest of the dress info for a quick reference.

iShoes (Free)
Ahh, what to say about iShoes? With a selection of 50,000 shoes, you're bound to find one you like. You can browse or search favorite brands and styles. You can save your favorites, find out who carries it, and * sigh * it even alerts you when a shoe is on sale!

Feather Report ($1.99)
Fashion + Weather = Feather Report. So, you've picked a dress, but what about outfits for all those other special days throughout your engagement? Feather Report's got it taken care of. You can save favorites, search for your specific needs and shop online for outfits.

Net-A-Porter (Free)
Net-A-Porter is perfect for the fashonista bride looking to stay on top of current trends. With a 3 star rating, it shows you what's new in clothing, bags, shoes and accessories. You can create a wish list, buy on the spot, read fashion news and share with friends!

Finding your shape for stress-free dress shopping

Shopping for "the dress" can be just as excruciating as it is exciting, but there are a couple of ways to avoid having a wedding dress-related meltdown. First, keep in mind that wedding dresses are notorious for being sized very small, so don't panic when you don't fit into your typical size. Second, knowing what looks good on your body saves you time and frustration when it comes to trying on dresses. So, break out your tape measure, and we'll help you figure out your shape and the style that will look best on you.

Before you measure:
1. Remember not to wear baggy clothes or push-up bras. These can add extra inches and ruin the accuracy of the measurement
2. Watch the following videos on how to correctly measure yourself. You won't need all of these tips to figure out your shape, but they will be helpful nonetheless.

a. Measuring for a bridal gown
b. Vintage 101
c. Measuring for a bridesmaid's dress

Hourglass -
You are an hourglass shape if your bust and hips are about the same measurement – there may be an inch or two's difference – and your waist is at least four inches smaller than either of these two. Any style dress usually works for hourglass-shaped women, but a mermaid style dress will accentuate curves in all the right places.

Pear -
You're pear shaped if your hips are larger than your bust. The pear shape is very common. An A-line dress is typically the most flattering, giving a balanced appearance.

You have a round/square body type if your waist, bust, and hip measurements are all about the same. You can accentuate your waist with dresses that gather on the hips and bust or have other detailing in those areas.

5'4" and under is usually considered petite. Before you visit a salon, make sure they carry petite sizes. An easy way to create length is to look for dresses with vertical seams or detailing. Avoid belts and sashes, and opt for details that draw the eye upward.

Women 5'9" and up will want to look for dresses with wide bodices or sashes and large collars or other details. Flared skirts and low necklines are great on this frame.

Thick Waist-
If you have a thicker waist, an empire waist may be the best cut for you. A-line skirts are also very flattering.

Slender Waist-
If your waist is very slender, you may want to look at dresses with defined midriffs. Sashes, and gathered skirts will be great to accentuate your waist.

Narrow Shoulders-
If your shoulders are narrow, accessorizing with a collar or cape is a flattering option. Dresses with a portrait neckline are also great if you have narrow shoulders.

Broad Shoulders-
If you have broad shoulders, consider dresses with low-v necklines, and smooth sleeves. Avoid puffed sleeves, bare necklines, broad collars, halter tops and shoulder pads.

If you have a large bust, avoid waist detailing. Instead, try dresses with full, billowy skirts. Lots of detailing on the skirt will create a curvier lower body. Simple sleeves and bodices are best, and keyhole, v or u-shaped necklines will typically be the most flattering.

My Wedding Workbook on Twitter!

My Wedding Workbook is now on Twitter! Click Here to follow us and be the first to know when there are new posts up on our blog! We're always tweeting about the great resources we find, so keep checking in for helpful tips and links!

10 tips for shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses – a guest blog by Lauren J. Rivera

1.Bring a digital camera (after trying on 15 dresses, they all start to look the same).
2.It is a standard rule that all wedding-related dresses run much smaller than the sizes on the label; prep your bridesmaids to avoid them getting depressed during dress fittings.
3.Realize that pale pink isn't going to look good on everyone. (Do you want your bridesmaids looking like blobs of Pepto-Bismol?)
4.The majority of bridesmaids (that I've encountered) think chiffon reminds them of their elders.
5.There is nothing more bonding than holding your bridesmaid's oversized/undersized dress as she checks it out in the mirror.
6.If you want the same dress for all bridesmaids, stick with A-line; it's forgiving on every shape.
7.Tell your bridesmaids to try dancing in each dress. If they can't handle the electric slide say "No" to the dress. There's nothing worse than finding out on the day of the wedding as the seam tears away.
8.Be respectful to the store employee helping you; upset them and they will purposefully find your dress in 3 sizes too small.
9.After four hours of dress mania, it's time you and your ladies have a drink!
10.Know that these ladies love you and, at the end of the day, they will wear whatever is your preference.

Lauren J. Rivera is a fiction and blog writer. Her latest blog tells the tales of her journey through three weddings over the next year and how they may, or may not, change her obscure belief in marriage. Read the blog here: Everyone's Wedding But Mine

The painless way for brides to change their name

According to a survey by My Wedding Workbook, the majority of brides (78.2%) are sticking with tradition and taking their husband's last name. For most brides it seems like the obvious choice. However, today's brides tend to be a bit older than when their mothers got married and therefore have more assets (think bank accounts, mortgages, etc.) in their name. This makes it a bit more cumbersome and involved to change your last name – but by no means impossible. Here are the steps you can take to make sure you cover all your bases.

Before the wedding:
You can't technically change your name until after the wedding because you need your marriage license, but there are a few steps you can take to get a head start on your name change.

• Apply for your marriage license. You can't change anything else until you've received your marriage license in the mail post-wedding. Request several certified copies, as photocopies are generally not accepted. You'll need at least three additional certified copies.

• Book your honeymoon with your maiden name. This is essential if you're traveling out of the country. All of your documentation still has your maiden name on it, and it's important that it match your tickets.

• Give your job a heads-up. Your name is on everything from your business cards to your office door. Simple things like your email address and the name on your paychecks will change. Even though you won't legally change anything until after the wedding, it's important to alert your employer of your decision.

• Tell your family and friends. Monogrammed gifts are great, but only if they have the right name on them. Also, hearing family and friends refer to you by your new name will help ease you into using it.

After the wedding:
Follow steps in order. The process will take much less time, and you won't feel stuck.

1. Get a new social security card. You'll need your new social security card to change everything else. Take a certified copy of your marriage license, completed SS-5 Form, your current SS card and your ID to your local social security office to get a new card.

2. Make an appointment at the DMV for a new drivers license. This has to be done in person. You'll definitely need a certified copy of your marriage license and your current drivers license. Be ready to have your picture taken and change your address if needed. Call prior to your appointment to verify exactly which documents you'll need to bring. While there, inquire about how to change the title and registration on your vehicle to your new name.

3. Update your passport. Make sure to use the correct form. If you've had your current passport for less than 1 year, use form DS-5504. If you've had your current passport for over 1 year, use form DS-82. Print and fill out the appropriate Passport Name Change Form. When you mail or visit the office, you'll also need your current passport, a certified copy of your marriage license, two current passport-approved photos, and payment for any applicable fees.

4. Notify the IRS (if necessary). When the Social Security Administration has processed your name change, they will notify the IRS within 10 days. If you moved when you got married, fill out IRS Form 8822 so that all tax information is sent to the correct address.

5. Update your address. If you moved, you may also want to change your address with the US Postal Service. This can be done online or in person at your local post office.

6. Register to vote. You'll need to change your name on your voter registration to be eligible to vote in the next election. Use the Nation Mail Voter Registration Form to update your name, and be sure to check your state's specific instructions.

7. Let your work know. Visit your office's HR department and change the name on all of your information. Show them a photocopy of your marriage license, and request that they update any 401k, retirement plan, or medical insurance. You'll also need new business cards if applicable.

8. For the following changes, you can mail a letter informing the party of your name change. You may want to include the following: maiden name, new name, address, account number, social security number (if applicable), and a copy of your marriage license (if applicable).

• Update your finances. Call your specific bank and request that your records be updated. You'll probably need new checks and an ATM card.

• School. If you're a student, call or stop by your registrar's office. Depending on the institution, you may need to bring your updated social security card, driver's license, and/or passport.

• Insurance policies. Automobile, home, medical, life, renters, and disaster insurance all need to be updated when you change your name. Request new insurance cards and/or updated policies.

• Memberships. Update memberships like the following: gyms, frequent flyer programs, alumni associations, library cards, video rental cards, school ID, magazine subscriptions, and unions.

• Utilities. Usually a phone call will suffice when updating your name with your utility companies. Just request to have your accounts changed to your new name.

• Professional licenses or organizations. You can call or write to update them of the change.

Above all, avoid name-changing kits! It may be time consuming to handle every change yourself, but you'll have the assurance that it's done right.

*This article is not intended to be legal advice. For more information on the legal ramifications of changing your name, consult your attorney.

Catering costs what?! - A guest blog by Kerry McCullough

March 1, 2010 - The quote for food and beverages at your wedding takes up a hefty portion of the entire bill, but you can actually control these costs by going with some particular styles and themes. Most people are sick of the same old chicken/beef with a starch and a vegetable. Consider switching to some of these more unique options that will save you money...

Hors d'oeuvres Wedding
Replacing a formal meal with hors d'oeuvres is great for a more laid back setting, allowing people to move around and mingle. This type of wedding can quickly add up if you don't do your research, but there are a lot of great options that will actually cost significantly less than a plated meal. For instance, mini quiches, meatballs on toothpicks, quesadilla wedges, spinach dip with crackers, vegetables with dip, chicken skewers, bruschetta and pigs in a blanket. However, seafood appetizers like mini crabcakes and shrimp cocktail will cost you!

Italian Family Style
This intimate style wedding allows each table to feel like they're sitting down to a family meal. Pastas, bread and salad are brought out to each table and your guests will pass everything around. This type of meal should be just around $20 per head. You could also have a variety of pastas at a buffet and call it a "pasta bar" for sampling various types. This is also a great type of wedding for putting out a bottle of red and white at each table and cut back on the other alcohol.

Barbeque Wedding
This type of wedding is great for outdoor settings in the summer. The meat is pulled pork, accompanied by pasta/potato salad and marinated vegetables or green salad and rolls. This theme should be just around $20 per head as well, and is pleasantly different from the typical wedding spread. It is also a great decorational accent to have the pig on the spit going (unless you have a lot of vegetarians)!

Bar Ideas
There are a number of ways to save on the bar tab. The first and most obvious would be to limit your options to a few types of beer and a red and a white wine. Also, serving your beer from kegs into nice cups will be less expensive than bottles. The next step would be to limit liquor by having a specific signature drink- think about your personalities and the theme of the wedding. Great signature drinks include margaritas on the rocks, baybreezes, spiked iced tea/ lemonade and sangria. Think outside the box and have fun with it!

Kerry McCullough is the owner of Maryland Budget Wise Weddings, a website that helps brides on a budget to plan an affordable wedding in the Maryland area. After planning her own wedding a year and a half ago, Kerry realized how challenging it can be to create a memorable event that doesn't break the bank. Her website features affordable local vendors, a budget calculator, tricks and tips, articles, local bridal shows, a timeline, and bride-to-bride advice. http://www.budgetwiseweddingmd.com

For more general ideas on planning budget friendly weddings, visit her blog: http://www.budgetwisewedding.blogspot.com

Last of the theme ideas

19. Railway/train theme-
Investigate local railroads. Are there any historic railroad stations in your area? In some cases, you can rent out an entire car for your event! Railway museums are an alternative venue as well. Wood whistles are a fun favor, and you can have your wedding date or names carved into them. Set up toy trains around your reception, or use miniature toy trains as centerpieces. There are cute train place card holders. If you want to go more western with your train theme visit here for ideas. Watch old western movies for inspiration, and let your imagination wander!

20. Historic theme-
Wherever you are, there are probably some historic sites around you! Check out which ones are available as venues and build your theme around your chosen location. A historic theme is a great idea for a destination wedding as well. Some fun time periods include: Victorian, Edwardian, American Colonial, the roaring '20's, Ancient Greece or Rome, The Tudor (Elizabethan) age, or the Middle Ages.

Hopefully you've at least gotten some ideas! I'd love to hear any other interesting wedding themes that you've come across!

A few more theme ideas

16. Masquerade theme-
A masquerade theme is fun and elegant. Deep colors and jewel tones like red, emerald and black work well with this theme, and roses are a perfect flower. There are plenty of places to find masks online. I recommend House of Masquerades for masks with an elegant touch. You can find masks with sequins, feathers, lace, and so on. A baroque venue sets an amazing atmosphere for a formal masquerade wedding. Or if you're leaning towards an outdoor wedding, tents with dim lighting set a romantic tone. Great centerpieces could be anything from vases filled with ostrich feathers to crystal candelabras. The richer-looking the better. Place card holders made out of wine corks are a neat idea for this theme, and you can easily find them online. I also love these wine goblet card holders from Beau-coup.com. The food should be rich and elegant: finger sandwiches, marinated olives, stuffed mushrooms, meat and cheese trays etc.

17. Herb theme-
Decorating with various herbs is a great idea for a spring wedding and isn't overly flowery. Talk to your florist for recommendations, and do some research on the meaning of individual herbs. For a short list visit Plants Bulbs. Make sure, once you've picked your herbs that the scents mix well together. For centerpieces, consider using potted fresh herbs, and send them home with guests. Sage greens, pale yellows and lavender are fun colors for an herbal theme. Give pretty packages of herbal teas as favors. Use baby-potted herbs as place holders; just write the name on a popsicle stick, place it in the plant and you've got cute, eco-friendly place holders! Plus, fresh herbs smell fantastic!

18. Aquatic theme-
Whether you're having your wedding at an aquarium or at the beach, there are a ton of things you can do with an aquatic theme. Have centerpieces with beta fish and give them to guests as favors. Shells and starfish are always fun to decorate with, and bubbles (if not overused) can be really beautiful. If you're up for something fun, have everyone RSVP with their shoe size, and get personalized flip-flops as favors! Custom Logo Flip Flops has an awesome selection of styles, and my personal favorite, eco-friendly flip-flops made from 100% recycled rubber! Shell place card holders are fun, and make sure not to forget to incorporate pearls for an elegant touch!

New theme ideas

13. Famous couples theme-
There are so many couples! This is another theme that could go many ways. For a more serious tone consider couples like Romeo and Juliet. Or, for something more lighthearted fictitious couples like Tarzan and Jane, Wilma and Fred Flintstone, or Minnie and Mickie Mouse may be appropriate. Another avenue could be famous movie couples. Pictures or posters of old romantic movies will provide a dreamy ambiance.

14. Fleur De Lis theme-
The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily, so if you've got lilies in your wedding, these classy little symbols will fit in nicely. It's a historically French symbol, but appears in many other countries as well. The fleur-de-lis is also considered religious, symbolizing the holy trinity and in some cases the Virgin Mary. Fleur-de-lis favors are very easy to find, and there's a lot that you can do with them. They make elegant place card holders, and they can be printed on pretty much anything as favors. Check out Fleur De Lis Fashions for ideas.. The fleur-de-lis is a great way to add regality to your wedding.

15. Snow Globe theme-
Who doesn't' love snow globes? It's a great idea if you're having a winter wedding, although it can be used during other times of year as well. Snow globes make great centerpieces, and again can be sent home as favors. Look here here for some snowflake themed gift ideas. You can also find various wedding snow globes at The Find. Buy Wedding Favors Online has cute snow globe place card holders here. Snow is elegant and romantic, just make sure to stay warm!

Even more neat theme ideas

7. Renaissance theme-
What's more romantic than the Renaissance? The locations you can find for a Renaissance themed wedding are endless, old Gothic churches, vineyards decked out with tents or castles. Although images of men walking around with turkey legs may be going through your mind right now, there is no need to embrace the tradition of eating with your hands. A good caterer will be able to create a Renaissance-style menu that doesn't involve handi-wipes. Have fun with the details: seal your invitations with hot wax, use a quill pen for your guest book, hire a harpist, or have wrought-iron candlesticks.

8. Board Game theme-
I'm actually very impressed at how cool this is. You can use board games as centerpieces. Have family and friends let you use theirs (it's free!). To spice things up replace the dice in all the games with personalized dice from customwedding.com! You can also get personalized playing cards with your picture and send them home with guests as favors! Check out an actual board game themed wedding here. This couple even re-created the covers of well-known board games with their picture - so cute! If you want something more specific, you can even narrow the board game theme to one game in particular. For instance, you can find personalized chocolate poker chips at Beau-coup.com.

9. Coin theme/coin collecting.
If your colors include silver or gold, you can do a lot with coins. Personally, I was thinking a jewelry chest of coins, but you could also go with Vegas, Celtic, or sunken treasure themes. AmericanBridal.com offers personalized chocolate coins that you can spread around your reception tables. You can also have real coins engraved or made into key chains and send them home as favors.

We'll be back with more soon! Post a comment and let us know what your thinking of these and if you have any more suggestions!

More fun theme ideas

Hello Brides!
We're back with a few more interesting theme ideas for you to check out!

4. Concert/Music theme-
If you and your groom-to-be like music, this is the theme for you. There are so many fun directions to take a music theme. I came across some awesome concert tickets that you can customize to be announcements, save the dates or invitations! Check them out at Bliss Wedding Market. I've also seen some really beautiful music oriented wedding cakes. Music notes are fun to decorate with, and there are plenty of places out there to find them. Personalized guitar picks are a fun idea for favors, or you could go to a thrift store and find old instruments to decorate with!

5. Motorcycle Theme-
Into motorcycles? You'll be surprised what you can do with a motorcycle theme. The cake toppers for this theme are awesome. Shop around, because there are plenty of ideas! Consider black and white photography; I've seen some really beautiful pictures done this way. Bike-shaped cookies for the reception are fun, and key chains and lighters make great favors. Another interesting idea is to decorate with road maps highlighting routes that the two of you have been on or want to go on. Plus, riding off into the sunset on a motorcycle is always more interesting than riding off in anything else!

6. Love letter theme-
This sounds girly, but it doesn't necessarily have to be overly feminine. Try decorating with postage stamps. Check out Wedding Love Letters for an interesting spin on love letter wedding favors. You can personalize postage stamps as well at Zazzle. You can also decorate with words. For example, instead of numbering tables, name them "hope," "forever," "passion," "romance" and so on. Stationary is a fun favor; invite your guests to write their own love letter.

More theme ideas coming soon!

Engagement window opening soon ... time to give thanks ( and share wedding software )

Did you know that 1/3 of all engagements that occur during a 12-months span happen between the December holidays and Valentine's Day? That's a ton of wedding rings and big, big smiles (and no wonder Kay's, Zale's and Shane Company all blast TV and radio ads constantly from early November through February and then drop off the face of the earth ... they're just makin' hay while the sun shines).

As the holiday season nears, even if engagement isn't quite on the horizon or if you are already married, it's a moment to reflect on our good fortunes and, if you have hit on hard times recently, on the positives in life. A few years back just before the holidays, my dad was stricken with viral encephalitis (basically a brain virus) that almost killed him and left him brain damaged. Although it was a very tough time and he has recovered to the point where he can lead a somewhat normal life, I am so thankful he is still with us, not in pain and seems to be enjoying his life. I guess what I'm saying here is that, whatever your situation, there's always something that could be better, but for the most part there's lots to be thankful for and so much to embrace in life.

When we started out our little adventure online with My Wedding Workbook, we simply wanted to create an online wedding software tool that all wedding couples would find useful, and we wanted to give the basic planning tools away as a small way to give back. Since then, almost 12,000 of you have signed up and are regularly using our wedding software, and we are thankful for your support and enthusiasm for our site.

As we move forward and add new features (stay tuned for a whole new set of features after the holidays), we continue to be thankful for everything we have been given and look forward to serving even more engaged couples with wedding software and more in the coming months. Oh, and if you want to give something back yourself, here's an article from the Wall Street Journal on sites where you can make microloans to businesses around the world for small entrepreneurs (many of whom live in third world countries) who are trying to make their dreams come true ... a great way to help someone who is working hard to help themselves and those around them.

Take care, and happy thanksgiving, Jeff Co-owner, My Wedding Workbook