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Spend the day meeting some of Boston’s most distinguished wedding experts as you begin to plan your special day. The Boston Bridal Bash gives you the opportunity to get new ideas and plan with the best in the business to make your day spectacular. Spend the day browsing and planning while meeting face-to-face with our friendly and knowledgeable vendors!


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Wedding Favor Ideas

Your wedding day is approaching fast and most of the major details have been covered. Now you are adding the finishing touches to complete your special day. Among the final details that still need to be addressed are wedding favors.
Wedding favors are small gifts or decorative items presented to guests from the bride and groom at their wedding reception. Wedding favors can include favors used at the wedding reception like wedding napkins or place card picture frames to useful gifts like heart shaped measuring spoons or glass coaster sets.

Many couples tell us they are looking for wedding reception ideas including small gifts to give to their guests as wedding favors in appreciation for celebrating their special day. We want to share some popular wedding favor ideas to help you choose the perfect wedding favors for your special day.

Small Gifts as Favors

Let's look at small gifts as wedding favors. Small gifts in the traditional sense could include chocolates, candies, cookies or other sweet treats. Just about everyone enjoys a sweet treat to tie them over to the main course or as an after-dinner dessert. Pillow mints and Jordan almonds are very popular at wedding receptions.

Wedding favor bags are available in many sizes and colors to hold cookies, candies and small wedding favors for your wedding guests. Most favor bags can be personalized so you can say a special "Thank you!" to each one of your guests.

An instant lottery ticket neatly concealed in an envelope or custom printed favor boxes makes a unique wedding favor with a surprise twist. Wouldn't it be exciting if on of the wedding guests scratched their lotto ticket and won $100.00 or even $10,000.00!

What about wedding favors your wedding guests can enjoy long after your wedding day? Personalized votive candle holders are inexpensive wedding favors and can be used over and over. Personalized glassware including champagne flutes and wine glasses are more expensive but will be cherished for years to come as a collectible keepsake.

Are you planning on seating your guests with place cards? Insert your place cards into place card picture frames. Encourage you guests to take the frames home with them where they will be used for favorite pictures of the wedding couple, children or grandchildren for years to follow.

Inviting overnight guests from out-of-town? Scented soaps, lotions and candles neatly presented in wedding gift bags with a personal thank you message make great gifts for overnight guests to use in their hotel rooms. One of our favorite gift ideas for overnight guests is a personalized gift bag containing a small bottle of champagne, two toasting glasses and a romantic treat like chocolate-covered strawberries. After all, this is a very romantic event!

Let's not forget the children. With an attention span as long as a New York minute, it is always a good idea to provide a wedding favor just for the kids. How about a miniature puzzle or some crayons and a small coloring book to occupy their time? Wedding bubbles are a traditional favor and great fun for the kids! These items can be neatly presented in personalized frosted mini gift bags.

These are just a few ideas when considering favors for your wedding reception. The possibilities for unique wedding favor ideas are limited only to your imagination.

 

 

Massachusetts Weddings chat transcript:

Courtesy of the Boston Globe

Wedding planner Alexis Eliopoulos O'Mara advised Boston.com readers Tuesday on where to have a wedding, how much it costs, and how to ask somebody else to pay for it.

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: Hi, my name is Alexis Eliopoulos O'Mara. I am the owner of Unique Weddings by Alexis in Boston. I will be chatting for the next hour about wedding planning. Please pardon my spelling and typos throughout this chat, I prefer to type quickly to answer as many questions as possible and not worry about spelling errors.

simplebride: I'm trying to plan a very small wedding - about 25 people. I would like to get married in a park and then go to a nice restaurant afterwards with everyone for an intimate dinner. I belong to a large Colombian community in Boston. I'm worried about offending anyone. How can I avoid this or approach the subject?

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: When you choose a venue that has a small capacity, this is always an excellent excuse as to why you need to limit your guest list.

JS: Is marriage the right move for my relationship?

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: This is a very important question that should be addressed prior to any wedding plans. A wonderful person you could speak to about your feelings is Allison from Emotionally Engaged right here in the Greater Boston area. She specializes in helping brides-to-be with their emotions and mental state during the wedding planning process.

funny_guy: Hi Alexis. I just got engaged. We're thinking of a summer '08 wedding, and we want to do it relatively cheaply but in the city. Any ideas/advice?

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: Congratulations! If you want to stick to a budget, that is the best thing to work on first. Sit down and decide what you can spend, who else is planning to help you (parents, etc.) and what items are priority for you....

simplebride: How much time is needed to prepare for smaller weddings? Mine is going to have about 25 people... so I'm wondering how far in advance do I need to book a restaurant?

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: Your largest expenses are always the catering and the venue. So keep this in mind when you are beginning to look for that perfect place to host your wedding. Do not overspend here thinking you can make up for it someplace else. I have seen too many couples start out over budget and want to cancel the wedding a few months beforehand from all the money-related stress.

Ricardo_Montalbon: I think I want way more grooms people than my fiancé wants bridesmaids. How do we coordinate?

Alexis_Eliopoulos_O_Mara: No problem, this is the trend now. Only asking the friends/family you want to be a part of the special day, not the right number to fill spots. The only time this is really an issue is during the ceremony recessional. Have the Best Man go first, then couple up the rest. Or have all the girls recess, then the guys.   Continued READ MORE...

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Massachusetts Weddings Tips & Advice:

"The Kids Are All Right"

If you want kids to be a part of your Big Day, follow these tips to create a wedding that’s elegant and family friendly.  By Kate Grip Denon Courtesy of Boston Magazine

CLICK HERE for the Complete Article  - Boston Bridal ShowsAS MY HUSBAND AND I ATTEMPTED TO leave our wedding reception to begin our honeymoon, my 10-year-old nephew rushed up to me, flushed and breathless, with a giant piece of pumpkin spice wedding cake in hand, and his mouth framed with maple-walnut frosting.

“Auntie Kate, I think this is the best time I’ve ever had,” he said.

And he wasn’t alone. In one corner of the dance floor a posse of youngsters was giggling and dancing up a storm, not to be outdone by their parents and the remainder of our adult guests swirling, twirling, jumping and grooving on the rest of the dance floor—proof that we had pulled off a fun wedding for all age groups.

If you’ve decided to invite kids to your wedding, fret not. Having pint-sized guests doesn’t mean your quest for an elegant wedding need be squelched. With just a few tips, you can have the wedding of your dreams while keeping the younger set, and their parents, happy.  Read More...

 

 

 


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Wedding-Catering Train Wrecks

It's your Most Important Day Ever. So why is the caterer stealing your liquor with your cake in his mouth?

For a few wonderfully anthropological years, I made my money as a cater-waiter in a stately old building in town surrounded by faceless suburbs and cornfields, which is to say that I have ended up working more weddings than Liz Taylor. I've heard the theme from "Titanic" more times than James "King of the World" Cameron, I've seen people straight-up own the Electric Slide, I've seen a henhouse's worth of Chicken Dances.


To a cater-waiter, these things are as inevitable as death and people complaining about taxes. There's a certain strange jadedness you develop, though, when someone's Most Important Day Ever is, for you, just another day in which you punched in for work. You stop noticing, for example, what the bride is wearing or how proud the happy couple is. You start to hope, for example, that the guests get wasted, because a bigger liquor tab means bigger tips, and, really, because that's when the fun starts.


Like the time I saw the dance floor entirely empty except for the bride's grandma, dancing her wonderful, white-headed booty off to Clarence Carter's Strokin'. (And if you don't know that classic jam, it is definitely NSFW, unless your work is awesome.) Or the time the bridal party invited me to get on the dance floor with them, and I started grinding with the lady in white. Yes, I freaked the bride. People took pictures.


This was also a period of my life where I ate most of my meals at work, and that eventually led to an inappropriate familiarity with the food behind closed doors. More than once I have served wedding cake to a happy bride and groom while noticing their cake crumbs still stuck to my mouth.


I'm telling you all this because despite my rather loose-cannon social skills, I was actually a good cater-waiter, charming and efficient and sometimes even wearing a clean tuxedo shirt I bought at the mall prom-rental headquarters. And so I read with interest Rachel Holmes' post the other day on wedding catering nightmares at the Guardian's food blog.


Some of these were, in fact, nightmarish: "23 May 1891, a British Medical Journal article tells of 'Wholesale poisoning at a wedding feast'. 60 guests sat down to enjoy a banquet of gluttonous delights. Only 20 of them got up again. The rest were rolling around on the floor, clutching their bellies and having seizures."


Happily, most of her stories -- and the ones in the comments -- were of a less fatal wedding nightmare variety: lightsaber decorations for wedding cakes melting into "flaccid worms by serving time" and grooms cooking for their own weddings with broken ankles, hopped up on morphine and lots of drink ("Happiest day of my life!"). Or my favorite one, from a woman who rented a cotton candy machine, which turned out -- surprise! -- to be a liability around drunken men:

"[It] resulted in [my] brother-in-law trying to candyfloss his head a la Marge Simpson. Which WAS an inspired idea but sadly one that was doomed to failure -- you end up with a head covered only in itchy pink sugar crystals and a broken machine that sends all future candyfloss attempts flying up the walls and ruining the caterers' beautiful black velvet curtains."

There comes a time in every wedding caterer's life, though, when nearly any near disaster can be put into perspective with the phrase, "Hey, at least there was no violence." Because a possessed cotton candy machine is really nothing compared to wedding violence.


Like, for example, the time my manager Lisa decided, a half-hour before the reception was supposed to end, to shut down one of the two bars because people were getting, well, sloshed. The groom must have sensed a disruption in the Liquor-Force, because he marched up to her and, straight-up Darth Vader-style, grabbed her by the face and said, "Little girl, you are going to leave the bar open." I stood by, small and afraid, and now, in retrospect, see I should have been wishing for one of those lightsaber cake decorations. Lisa stayed firm and composed, and the groom realized that having the second bar for another 30 minutes probably wasn't worth a night in the poky, but then his darling bride ran up from the dance floor. When she saw what was happening, her eyes grew wide and enraged. She began screaming. "You bitch! You bitch! I'm going to remember you for the rest of my life! You're going to be the bitch that ruined my wedding!"


Her new husband held her, pulling her away, trying to calm her down, and I wondered who, exactly, was ruining what here. I watched the wedding videographer get this all on tape. We resuming packing up the vodka, when suddenly Princess Drunk-Leia broke free from the groom and charged back at us, windmill punching and looking for blood. The groom took three lightning steps and tackled her, holding down her arms lest she actually whack us and let an army of lawyers ruin their honeymoon, too.


I walked into that reception hall every Saturday hoping to feel the pride of a job well done, and the bride and groom walked in thinking this will be the day they ride a unicorn into the sunset if only the fairies don't pick them up and carry them off first.


The fact is that there is an unbridgeable gap of emotional investment when you have this yawning disconnect between a lifelong fantasy and the human, mundane reality of caterers just doing their jobs and having to follow boring old rules like not letting people drive home half-passed-out from Long Island iced teas. What's really interesting about weddings aren't the vows and the joining of clans -- it's the fact that you have people living on totally different planets while being in exactly the same room, and those planets freak out when they're reminded of one another.

 

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Economy ushering in new frugality, focus for brides

When Lori Meinhold saw a $5,000 strapless, ivory silk taffeta Vera Wang dress at a samples sale on Newbury Street, she knew she had to have it for her wedding in January. But with a strict $15,000 allotment for the event, Meinhold couldn't afford to blow a third of the budget on her gown.

So she got creative. Meinhold pawed through the crowded racks of Vows Bridal Outlet in Newton and found the same dress for $1,700.

"This is the time to plan a wedding," said Meinhold, a 30-year-old marketing professional from Quincy, as she picked up the dress with her mother and grandmother on a recent rainy Saturday afternoon. "Everyone is desperate for business. We'd never be able to afford a wedding otherwise."

For Meinhold and the many thousands of other brides who get married in a year in Massachusetts - typically at least 28,000 in Greater Boston, and roughly 670 in Newton alone - the recession is an unexpected guest with a silver lining.

From gowns to flowers to cupcakes, brides are trimming costs. Spending in the Boston area's market is expected to slip from $1.9 billion last year to $1.8 billion this year, according to the Wedding Report, an Arizona-based research company that sees Newton's share of the industry falling from $109 million to $101 million over the same time frame.

But brides are reportedly taking the cutbacks in stride, using the weak economy as an opportunity to get creative and refocus their events on family and spirituality.

"People are absolutely cutting back," said Shane McMurray, founder and chief executive officer of the Wedding Report. "But brides are also rethinking what's important. There's more focus now on family. People will still get married. But we won't see them spend the way they used to."

Meinhold and fiance Christian O'Meara chose January, a traditionally slow, and inexpensive, month to book a venue, for their wedding. Her sister, a graphic designer, is making her invitations. A friend of her mother's, a florist, is giving the couple a deal on flowers. And Meinhold plans to fashion the centerpieces herself.

"I just can't justify going for an extravagant event," she said. "We just don't want a lot of credit card debt." Meinhold's parents plan to contribute $10,000 - two-thirds of the budget.

Meinhold isn't the only bride scaling back.

For her September wedding, Chero Waters of Acton swapped out her dream venue - Grand View Mountain Resort in Whitefield, N.H. - for Dartmouth Chapel in Hanover, N.H., a more affordable option.

"This is going to be just as good," said Waters, 27, as her mother and sister persuaded her to try on a ball gown at Vows. "We're still pretty excited."

Wynne DeCew, 29, of Arlington, a mental health counselor at Mount Auburn Hospital, is shelving her favorite flowers - pricey, exotic orchids - for local, in-season flowers for her September wedding on Cape Cod.

"Does the economy put a damper on things?" DeCew pondered as she rifled through a rack of dresses. "Sure, a little bit. But you have to realize this is one day. You're not going to be in debt over one day."

For the multibillion-dollar wedding industry, that new frugality translates into falling profits. Already the industry's projected revenues nationwide for this year have slipped to $56 billion, down by $4 billion from last year, according to the Wedding Report.

Newton business owners are among the many feeling the pinch.

"It's absolutely affecting business," said event planner Linda Matzkin, owner of Newton-based Hopple Popple Inc. "People are scaling down literally across the board - with planning, with venues, with vendors, with materials. We're seeing enormous cutbacks."

Paula Kirrane is also watching as brides trim their budgets - and her balance sheet.

"We do see people scaling back," said Kirrane, owner of the Icing on the Cake bakery in Newton's Nonantum section. "Simplicity has definitely taken over."

For example, more brides are serving cupcakes, which start at $2.50 each, compared with a single, large cake that can range from $4.20 to $4.60 per slice, she said.

Brides are also displaying smaller presentation cakes, with extra serving cakes in the kitchen, and choosing simpler flavors and fillings.

"People are not going to stop getting married, they're just not going to order top-of-the-line," said Kirrane. "Rather than looking for a Cadillac, they're looking for a little Toyota."

Not all of the local wedding-related businesses are slumping, though.

"Fortunately, we're not seeing a decrease. We've actually seen our audience broaden," said Leslie DeAngelo, owner of the Vows Bridal Outlet, on Watertown Street. "More brides who want designer gowns are coming into the store."

If DeAngelo is capturing the booming bargain market, Tony Yu is seeing steady profits in his upscale market.

"Overall I wouldn't say I've noticed a huge change in spending because we have higher-end clientele less affected by the recession," said the owner of Team Yu Photography. "Brides are willing to spend money on photography; it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. At the end of the day, that's literally all they have - the booze gets drunk, the flowers die, the guests go home."

Yu, whose customized packages range from $3,000 to $15,000, is among the vendors who profit from Newton's tradition of higher-than-average spending on weddings.

The average cost of an American wedding last year was $21,814, according to the Wedding Report, which collects its statistics through quarterly bride and vendor surveys. The average bumped up to $38,393 in metro Boston, and that figure doubled to $79,621 in Newton.

"I have long wondered whether we have crossed a threshold of sorts in terms of spending on such events," said Rabbi Eric Gurvis, at Temple Shalom of Newton, in an e-mail.

"This is an important time for us to catch our collective breath. We can, and I believe must, use this crisis as an opportunity to reconsider our lives and reorient our priorities," he wrote.

The Rev. Robert Perkins, senior pastor at Newton Presbyterian Church, said he sees a silver lining to the recessionary times.

"It's a wake-up call on a lot of levels," Perkins said. "It forces all of us to think about what's important, and that certainly goes for couples planning their life together. If couples spent as much time, energy, and resources preparing for their marriage as they do for their wedding, there would be many more successful marriages."

Even so, said Perkins, who spent seven years in Asia as a missionary, including assignments in India and Bangladesh, "When it comes to marrying your daughters - anywhere in the world - you're not going to skimp. Whether you're rich or poor, you mortgage the farm to pay for the wedding."

Back in the Vows Bridal Outlet, as a dozen women dove deep into racks of designer gowns, scrutinizing materials and exchanging advice, three generations of Meinhold women quietly picked up their prize Vera Wang confection.

"It's just one day," said Lori Meinhold. "No one's going to remember how much you spent. What matters is that friends and family are there with us."

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

 

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Four Seasons Hotel, Boston - Photographs by Claudia Kronenberg


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By the time Rebecca Rottenberg and Mattis Goldman began planning their Massachusetts wedding day, a few life-changing events were already underway. The couple, who met online at jdate.com, was moving from D.C. to L.A., where Mattis was starting a political consulting business. Perhaps that's why the pair chose Boston's posh Four Seasons Hotel for their wedding: Rebecca, a communications consultant for nonprofits, grew up in nearby Newton and wanted a familiar venue she wouldn't have to worry about.

 

"We knew we'd be in incredible hands," she says. Her hunch paid off: From the modern Jewish ceremony to the dumpling carts at dinner, every detail delighted the duo and their guests. And the celebration didn't end with the reception; a music-fueled after-party extended the fete. "Everyone says your wedding will go by quickly," notes Rebecca. "It does. But we enjoyed every minute of it." –A.P.

 

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1. Cakes to Remember made the couple's chocolate and vanilla cake, with leaves falling down each tier.

2. Rafanelli Events transformed the Four Seasons ballroom using rust and copper hues.

"You walked in and felt transported," Rebecca recalls.

3. Rebecca bought her Platinum for Priscilla of Boston dress during a trip to New York with her mom, sister, and mother-in-law.

4. Just before the ceremony, the wedding party, bride, and groom took formal portraits on Boston Common.

5. Great food was crucial to the couple. "I hate weddings where there's not enough food and everyone is left starving. We had a sushi bar, dumpling carts, and a wine bar," Rebecca says.

6. Golden orchids and calla lilies adorned the tables.

7. Rebecca's bridesmaids wore black dresses of their choosing.

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