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14 January, 201214 January, 2012 3 comments Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips
There are many different decisions a couple must make in order to have a successful wedding day. Of all of these decisions selecting the right wedding officiant is the most personal and is certainly one of the most important. For those couples who attend a church, synagogue or other religious organization, finding a wedding officiant becomes much easier. These couples usually have someone they know and trust participating with them in their wedding ceremony. For everyone else it becomes a very different matter all together. 

There are many questions that need to be answered in order to select the right officiant. What organization are they associated with? What do they offer for a wedding ceremony? How far do they travel? Do they require counseling? And, the seemingly most asked question, how much do they charge? 

First, what organization are they associated with? In California people who perform weddings do not have to register with the State. But, it is important that you know what organization ordained them or recognizes them as having authority to legally officiate a wedding ceremony. They can actually be independent from any organization as long as they still have this authority. 

What do they offer for a wedding ceremony? In other words, do they help you plan the wedding or do they just have a ceremony that they do. Do you get to meet with them? Will they let you get involved in the planning? Can it be religious or non-religious? Do they let you have any say regarding the content of the message? Also, will they do interfaith ceremonies? 

How far will they travel? Although it is not necessary to find a minister in the area you wedding is taking place, it is important to know if you minister charges extra to travel over a certain distance. Sometimes this can mean that the "bargain" minister really wasn't that cheap after all. It is best to select someone with a flat fee so you know exactly what you're paying for. Another question would be if the rehearsal is extra or included in the fee. (More on cost later). 

Do they require counseling? Some officiates will not do a wedding without counseling. Although this is a great idea for anyone getting married, sometimes couples don't want this or are taking care of this themselves. If this is not what a couple wants, then this is not the right officiant for them. 

Now, the most asked question, and usually the first one asked by couples: How much do they charge? In almost every area of the wedding a decision on cost comes down to, not only what each couple can afford, but what do they get for the service they are paying for. In every other category of service for weddings the decision is based on goods offered and the cost of those services. It is basically a business decision. 

Selecting an officiant is more of a personal, emotional, even a spiritual decision. It is typical for a couple using their own clergy to simply give them a tip of some modest amount. There are some who think this system of payment will also apply to an officiant they 'hire' to do their wedding. This is not how it works. If you use your clergy, you may already donate to the church from which they receive a salary. in this case, a tip is more appropriate. When you asked someone to officiate your wedding who works independently, he is basically earning a salary on his own. It is not appropriate to pay him in the same way. On the surface it may appear that every wedding officiate does the same thing no matter what they charge. There can be a very big differences! 

An experienced, qualified edding officiant in San Diego can charge anywhere from $250 to over $600. The good ones charge more because they usually have more experience, do more to make your ceremony special, spend more time with you and do a better job in their presentation during the ceremony. The better officiants will meet with you and get you involved with the planning. They will be available if you need them and will help you in any way they can. Like any other service for your wedding day, the better wedding officiants are not the cheapest ones. Keep in mind that no matter what you pay for an officiant, they will always be the cheapest item you will pay for. 

The most important thing to remember is that your wedding officiant is the first person your guests will see on your wedding day. Whatever you plans, however much you spend, if the officiant doesn't represent you well in your wedding ceremony, they will be the focus of conversation the rest of the day, (not to mention be in most of your pictures of the ceremony). The right officiant will start your day right and help you to have the wedding you dreamed about. 
6 December, 20116 December, 2011 3 comments Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips

Make a list

Jot down the items you really need—before you hit the store. It's easy to get dazzled by tempting store displays. Use our handy checklist to be sure you don’t forget anything essential.

Determine your style
How would you define your style? Are you a traditionalist or more of a bohemian, hippie gal? Do you surround yourself with romantic, frilly décor or is your home filled with simple, clean shapes and monochromatic colors? Knowing your personal style helps you determine where to register and what items to include in your registry.

Easy access
Choose a mix of national and local retailers to better accommodate your guests.

The fine print
Check the store's shipping and return policies, and make sure they apply to your registry—and suit your needs.

Manage your registry
As items get snapped up, add more so that all of your guests will have a selection to choose from when they go to purchase your gift.

Size up your space
If you know you'll have to store items, be realistic about how much space you have in your house or apartment.

Consider your options
These days the sky’s the limit when it comes to registering. You can go traditional and register for china, flatware and other household essentials or you can opt for a registry that reflects you and your partner's style. Some choices:

Register for a cause
The I Do Foundation partners with stores like Target to donate a portion of its sales to your favorite charity (

Go natural sells organic-cotton sheets and woven-seagrass coffee tables, while is a great resource for recycled-glass dinnerware and soapstone pizza pans.

Plan a dream vacation
Ask guests to contribute to your honeymoon fund by registering through Distinctive Honeymoons ( or Honeymoon Wishes (

Get a sports high
Adventurous types can register at for a large assortment of camping and sports gear including bikes, snowboards and canoes.

Stock up
It's never too early to start planning for your financial retirement. Couples ready to start the ball rolling sign up at

Drink and be merry
For Oenophiles and those looking to do a lot of post-wedding entertaining, register at for a large assortment of wine and wine accessories. Everything you need to keep the party going!

11 November, 201111 November, 2011 Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips
Capturing unique wedding images begins with the bride and groom, and their relationship to their photographer. Get to know your photographer by having lunch, touring your ceremony location together, or through an engagement session. I love engagement sessions because not only do they help with camera shyness, but I also get to know the bride and groom before their wedding day and they get to know me.

Knowing and trusting your photographer is incredibly important. Having a relationship with your photographer will build mutual confidence; that bond will allow your photographer to express their artistic creativity, which will transform the images of your wedding into beautiful works of art. When you meet with your photographer before your wedding, be sure to discuss the details of your wedding that make it unique – every aspect of your day is a memory waiting to be preserved.

On the wedding day, the bride and groom may want to consider seeing each other a few hours before the ceremony in a “first meeting.” Because this allows for more time and more pictures, couples are more relaxed and they are free to enjoy more time with their guests without worrying about time constraints.

This lack of time constraints also allows for more artistic wedding shots because couples are now free to explore the beautiful settings that their locations have to offer and they are not restricted to the immediate area around the ceremony site.

Photo and article courtesy of David Champagne Photography 
11 November, 201111 November, 2011 Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips

Get help planning your dream wedding!  Request a free bridal magazine and 12 month wedding checklist on our website:
24 October, 201124 October, 2011 1 comments Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips

Have you dreamed of a sunset wedding? Are you wanting to make sure you have enough daylight on your perfect day? You can obtain the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, and the beginning and end of civil twilight, along with information on the Moon’s phase by specific date and location. For detailed sunset times for your wedding, please visit:

California, especially Southern California, is known for its beautiful weather. However, during certain times of the year the weather can be very hot and it does rain. To help you plan and be prepared for any type of weather, please visit the Weather Channel’s link. Always have a backup plan incase weather does affect your perfectly planned day.

24 October, 201124 October, 2011 Post Comments Wedding Tips Wedding Tips

A California marriage license can be obtained at your local County Recorder’s Office. Blood tests are not required, but both the bride and groom must appear together with valid photo ID (driver’s license, state ID or US Passport) to request a marriage license.

The license is good for 90 days and should be obtained at least 30 days prior to your wedding. After the ceremony, you will need to give your signed license to your minister or officiant who will then have it recorded.

Contact the County Recorder’s Office for any specific questions about previous marriages, marrying a non-US citizen, other forms of ID and all other concerns.

To locate a California County Recorder’s Office in your area, please visit:

Here's everything you need to know to get the dress of your dreams

1. Determine Your Wedding Style

First, try to picture your big day. Will it be a formal church affair, a casual outdoor celebration or something in between? You’ll want a gown that fits this vision. For example, a long-sleeved velvet gown with a cathedral train would look out of place at a bash on the beach; instead, you’d probably want something light and airy, like a chiffon or organza dress. And remember, the season doesn’t have to dictate your choice—you can always add a bolero jacket, cape or shawl to any style for warmth.

2. Create a Gown File

Having some visuals to bring with you to the dress salons will save you time and help you avoid frustration. Before you hit the shops, rip out pictures of dresses you like in magazines. Then, when you are assigned a salesperson, take some time to go through the images with her and point out the dress details you like—and definitely don’t like. She should be able to take in that information and narrow down a selection for you. As you try on each dress, continue to point out the features and styles that appeal to you. Together, you’ll hone in on the strongest contenders.

3. Shop Early, and Search Far and Wide

We suggest starting 10 months ahead, or at least as soon as you’ve chosen your site. You never know whether you’ll be the bride who finds her dress on the first boutique visit or the one whose quest is seemingly endless, so set yourself up to have options. Ask your planner and recently married friends for suggestions of dress salons that have a wide selection and outstanding service. And once you’re there, it’s a good idea to try on some designs you think you don’t like, just to be sure you’re right.

4. Dress to Shop

Finding your wedding gown is a big occasion, but you don’t have to get decked out for it; loose-fitting clothes that are easy to get on and off, and comfortable shoes are ideal for putting you in the mood to try on dresses. Throw a strapless bra into your bag and a pair of heels similar in height to what you’ll wear at the wedding. And don’t forget pretty underthings—not only so you feel your best, but also because you’ll be standing around in them as your mom or bridesmaids help you make dress decisions.

5. Spend Strategically

In a high-quality gown, every detail is finished properly. You’ll never see unraveling embroidery or loose beading. Natural fabrics like silk are pricier than synthetics, but they let your skin breathe and don’t lock in sweat. A lined gown costs more but falls smoothly and hides panty lines. If you have budget constraints, choose a fine fabric and a good fit, and forgo fancy details like appliqués and embroidery; instead, dress up the gown with your own jewelry or "something borrowed."

Choosing your wedding reception site must be handled with careful thought and deliberation. The reception site is undeniably the most important piece of the wedding planning puzzle. Before meeting with the first facility manager, consider these important factors in determining the venue that is perfect for you.

1. Consider your personal style. Today's wedding receptions are about personality and creativity. This is your once in a lifetime event and a costly one at that. Take advantage of your time in the spotlight to put together an event that really shines.

2. Where do you want to get married? In your home town? In your fiancé’s home town? In the town where you currently live? Or even on a Caribbean island? With today's jet set couples, the possibilities really are endless. Don't be afraid to consider something different or unexpected.

3. Capacity—one of the most important criteria in finding the perfect wedding venue. No matter how beautiful a place may be, if you anticipate a guest list of 300, cramming them into a facility that seats 150 will quickly turn an elegant affair into a mob of angry guests.

4. Make sure to ask if the location does more than one event a day or at a time. Dueling DJs and restricted music level does not make for a fun, party atmosphere. Besides it is your special day and with the amount of money you will be spending, it should be all about you!

Ask the site:

What is included in the wedding package? Make sure all the basics are included:
· Facility Rental? 
· Food and Beverage? 
· Ceremony on site? 
· Set up and Break down? 
· Staffing?

Other items that may or may not be included:
· Cake? (if so, how many does it serve? Can you customize the design?) 
· Flowers? (does the package include all floral, or just buffet arrangements or bouquets? Can you customize the arrangements or do they only come in standard varieties?) 
· Linens? (what do they look like? How many?
· Is purchasing the wedding package a requirement? (Many facilities allow brides the option of purchasing the entire package, purchasing a partial package and eliminating specific items or foregoing the wedding package altogether.)

Determine what essential services the reception site provides and what you must contract from an outside vendor:

· Are there on-site kitchen facilities? (off-site caterers will charge extra if they have to bring their own stoves and refrigerators)
· Is there an in-house caterer or a list of preferred caterers? If so, are they the exclusive caterers, or can you provide your own?
· Does the reception site have a list of recommended vendors? (Access to a list of vendors with working relationships and knowledge of the site will prove extremely beneficial during the planning process. 
· Can you hold your ceremony on site? If not, are there suitable locations nearby?
· Does the reception site provide staff such as an on-site coordinator, waiters and bartenders?
· Does the reception site provide items such as tables, chairs, plates and glasses? (remember, renting these things yourself can drive up costs)
· Does the reception site provide adequate parking space or valets? What are the costs involved?

Find as many reception sites that meet these initial criteria as you can. Then schedule appointments to tour each wedding venue and meet with them. Scheduling an appointment is important to assure you will have someone’s undivided attention. After that—it's decision-making time!

Photos and article courtesy of Paradise Gardens 
After the engagement dust settles, you'll need to get down to the business of planning your wedding.

We know that wedding planning can be no small undertaking so we've put together a Wedding Checklist to help you stay focused and organized.

Wedding planning can be both exciting and confusing. Our Wedding Services experts have compiled a list of everything you need to know to plan your perfect wedding day.

Browse the articles on our website and be sure to bookmark those that will keep you on-track and organized!

You'll need to interview and hire a number of Wedding Services companies to help make your special day all that you've dreamt it would be. Bridal Shows are great time-savers and allow you to visit and interview many vendors on one day, in one place!

Visit: for upcoming bridal shows, expert advice, local wedding companies, exclusive offers for wedding services and so much more! 

8–12 months

Start your dress search.

6–8 months

Order your dress now so you'll have plenty of time to attend fittings.
Get a swatch of fabric from your dress so that you can match shoes and other accessories.
Make shopping for accessories and choosing a hairstyle easier by taking front and back photos of yourself in your dress.

3–6 months

Shop for your accessories:
Wrap or shawl

2–3 months

Attend your first fitting; bring your shoes, lingerie and accessories with you. 
Attend your final wedding-dress fitting.

1-2 weeks

Pick up your wedding dress. Try it on one last time before you leave the salon to make certain that it fits just right.

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