Archive for Karen Cleveland

8 Reasons To Honeymoon In New England

travel » Honeymoons

new england honeymoon - cape cod

Want the dining and urban draws of a city trip, but without the grind? The perfect blend of top-notch restaurants, booming shopping and art, all in a quaint, historical setting lies in New England.

The northeastern seaboard is perfect for honeymooners looking for a dose of fresh seaside air alongside the stimulation and creature comforts of an urban locale.

Less trodden than New York or Chicago (and more affordable), Boston is a legendary mecca for foodies, shoppers and history buffs and a great place to start your trip. Read on to discover some of the best honeymoon experiences New England has to offer.

How To Delegate Bridal Party Duties

advice » engagement » planning

Photography courtesy Jennifer Kasper Photography

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

Now that you’ve chosen your attendants you’ll probably soon start receiving questions from these chosen few on what their responsibilities will be on (and before) your big day. To help you get organized we’ve compiled a complete list of who does what.

The maid or matron of honour
· Plays the role of bride’s air traffic controller, helping to ensure the bridesmaid dresses (and required shoes or accessories) are purchased, invitations are addressed and shower gifts are tracked so thank you cards can be swiftly sent.
· Helpfully communicates registry information and assists with the seating chart.
· Helps the bride shop for a dress and other wearables for the wedding.
· Hosts (or co-hosts) a shower for the bride.
· On the wedding day helps the bride with her veil, dress, bustle and other sartorial needs.
· Holds the groom’s ring before the ceremony and holds the bride’s bouquet during her vows.
· Signs the registry, along with the best man.
· Graciously gives a thoughtful toast to the bride and groom.
· Works alongside the best man on the wedding day to assist with vendors and safely storing gifts at the reception.
· After the reception, offers to store the wedding gown until the bride can make arrangements for it.

The best man
· Is the groom’s right hand man, ensuring other groomsmen have their outfits sorted out and that any decorations that need to be taken down from the ceremony are swiftly removed.
· Hosts (or co-hosts along with the other groomsmen) a special day or night for the groom.
· Works alongside the maid of honour on the wedding day to assist with vendors and safely storing gifts at the reception
· On the wedding day, takes the officiant’s payment from the groom and gives it to the officiant.
· Holds the bride’s ring before the ceremony.
· Helps coordinate travel for the wedding day including getting the couple to and from the reception, as well as arranging their honeymoon luggage if the couple is whisking off immediately after the reception.
· Signs the registry, along with the maid of honour.
· Gives the first toast of the reception to the bride and groom.

The entire bridal party
· Lavishes the special couple with love, attention and warm wishes ─ their chief responsibility.
· Attends wedding-related activities including the shower, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, the wedding (of course) and post-wedding festivities like a next-day brunch or lunch.
· Pays for their attire, with the exception of flowers. The cost of bouquets and boutonnieres are not the responsibility of the bridal party.  If pre-wedding primping is arranged, each attendant pays for their own hair, makeup, nails and such.
· Arranges and foots the bill for their own transportation, though it is a nice gesture for the bride or groom to host them if they are from out of town.
· Stands in the receiving line and is generally helpful at the wedding, directing people to the guest book, bar, gifts table and so on.

 

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter.


Etiquette Advice: How To Keep Your Mother-In-Law From Planning Your Wedding (Without Offending Her)

advice » planning

Photography courtesy iStockphoto

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

Ironic, isn’t it? You were likely getting by just fine making decisions until your engagement, and now you are being bombarded with suggestions on how you should do things! Most people have such nostalgia around their own wedding and will freely share advice on how they did things (or plan to do them), hoping you might find these tips helpful. They mean well. And such suggestions are merely that: helpful suggestions. You cannot please everyone, so best to gently set out your planning parameters. Whether you feel stuck in a gridlock with your mother-in-law over flowers, or you’re being snubbed by your sister for choosing cake over the cupcakes she loves, here’s how to finesse some well-intentioned suggestions.

1. Hear them out
Most people chiming in with suggestions genuinely want to help and their ideas are often couched in either how they did things at their wedding, or what they envision for you. They simply want to know that you have heard what they have to say. If your mother-in-law is waxing about how much she loves peonies, ask for details! What was her bouquet like? How many bridesmaids did she have again? Does she have peonies in her garden?

2. Acknowledge their suggestions and have conviction in your decision
Clearly let the other person know that you’ve heard their suggestion ─ an acknowledgement might be all they are after and then you can’t be faulted for not hearing them out. Tell your mother-in-law the peony bouquet in her wedding photos looked gorgeous, but you really have your heart set on hydrangeas, for example. If you waffle or ask her what she thinks of hydrangeas, you might be inviting more helpful suggestions so be mindful of how the discussion ends.

3. Carry on
You can make people feel included in your planning without feeling pressure to let others make decisions for you. And while compromise is key between you and your fiancé, it is not the end of the world if your mother-in-law isn’t in love with your floral arrangements. Being rude to her, however, might be! Just remember: The communication lines you establish and the grace you exude will far outlast your wedding day.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter.

Wedding Toasts: Tips For Keeping Them Classy

advice » planning » planning » Reception Ideas

Photo courtesy iStockphoto

Wedding toasts can be terrible; we have all sat through cringe-worth speeches during a reception. Perhaps the speaker helped themselves to a bit too much liquid courage, rambled on for ages, or made unfortunate digs at the bride or groom that went beyond good-natured jokes. No one likes to be humiliated, particularly in public and certainly not at their wedding. A great speaker can woo a room into a chuckle, or a tear, and every bride wants to feel like she and her wedding party, family and new husband are done proud.

Here are five essential tips to make sure your wedding toasts are delivered without a hitch:

· Decide exactly who you want to give toasts and encourage them to please be brief. Three to five minutes is a long window of time to fill. By encouraging your speakers to keep their wedding speeches short and sweet, you might ease also any pressure that they have put on themselves to go on at length.

· Choose speakers that you feel confident can handle the task gracefully. If you have concerns about your maid of honour being too nervous or too lengthy, perhaps you could pair her up with the best man? Strength in numbers!

· If there is a particular speaker that you worry might go rogue, or tell that one humiliating story, speak to them privately and share your concern. Confide that you will undoubtedly be emotional on your wedding day and could use their support in holding it together, particularly during toasts. Hopefully as a good friend, they’ll concede and take it easy on you.

· Trust in your emcee to keep things in check. Request that this person keep things running smoothly on your behalf.

· Relax. Once you have set the stage, so to speak, it is out of your hands. Sit back and revel in the love.

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

Guest List Etiquette: How To Solve The Plus-One Dilemma

advice » planning

Invitation by Weddingstar

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

Partners or spouses of friends or family members are a cinch when it comes to sending out invites, but what about your single guests? There is often pressure to address invitations to a single recipient with “and guest”, but are you obliged to? While it is a thoughtful gesture to allow a single guest to bring a date, it is not required. Before making a decision, here are three careful considerations to keep in mind:

· The same rule should apply to all guests, so either all single guests are welcomed to bring a date, or no one is. It is only fair.

· Just how many single guests will there be at your wedding? If it is a matter of adding two or three guests, it might be a feasible, and very kind, gesture.

· Are you comfortable meeting someone for the first time at your wedding? Such an intimate occasion might not be the ideal setting to be making introductions.

If you are put on the spot and a guest asks about bringing along a date, you can politely decline by explaining you have limited seating, or aren’t comfortable meeting new people on such a monumental day. And if there are many guests coming solo to your wedding, perhaps use the opportunity to suggest they save a dance for a certain other guest? Romance will be in the air after all.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

The Dos and Don’ts of Hosting an Adults-Only Wedding

advice » planning

Photo courtesy iStockphoto

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

The decision to have an adults-only wedding is just that, a decision, and a perfectly acceptable one. The pressure to invite everyone to your wedding can not only tax your budget, it can also cramp your style. If you have your heart set on an elegant evening event, a setting not really conducive to little ones toddling about, stick to your guns. Mollify any potential hurt feelings by sharing your intentions in a clear but gentle manner.

Do
· Plant the seed early — As early as possible into your planning, lay the foundation by sharing that the affair will be adults-only. As the question will inevitably come up, treat it as an opportunity to let people know and do it with conviction.

· Choose your words carefully — The difference between saying “we have decided” and “we are thinking about” leaves too much room for interpretation. Be very clear in your diction.

· Ensure your invitations reflect your plans — Address invitations to precisely whom they are intended for, meaning specific individuals or couples, rather than families.

Don’t
· Feel like you have to field this alone  – You and your fiancé should both tell your close friends, family and wedding party your plans, so the word will spread quickly, and not only through you.

· Lament about children  – Avoid disparaging how children will ruin your wedding. Even if that is genuinely how you feel, it is not a sentiment that any parent will agree with. Instead, focus on the elements of the wedding that are decidedly grown up (perhaps an elegant menu, or your favourite champagne).

· Waffle by making concessions — Be mindful that your guests who have left their own children at home might be surprised, and let’s be honest, miffed, to see children in your bridal party — and rightly so. It is all or nothing when it comes to an adults-only wedding.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

A Bride’s Guide To Wedding Showers

advice » engagement

Photo courtesy iStockphoto

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

At their core, showers are great little celebrations leading up the wedding, which can build excitement for the big day and allow for the people closest to you to get to know each other. These days showers are far from stuffy all-female affairs. Your shower can be held in just about any setting, with men in attendance (or not). It can even incorporate a theme that ties in with your wedding day or revolves around an activity that will help you take care of the tasks on your wedding to-do list.

Who hosts the shower and where?
Showers are not mandatory, although it is quite common for either a close family member or the maid of honour (along with the help of the other bridesmaids to organize one for the bride. The host and venue should come down to common sense logistics like location and space.

Who is invited to showers?
- Those invited to the shower, or any other wedding-related event for that matter,  should also be invited to the wedding.
- There should be no overlap in shower invitation lists. If you are lucky enough to have more than one shower (slippery slope, careful now) no one should be invited to more than one.

Other “good-to-knows”
- A shower is hosted for you, not by you, a crucial demarcation. You are the guest of honour! As such, unless explicitly asked, do not weigh in with preferences (though if you delicately, privately, and ever-so-diplomatically, share a few tidbits with your maid of honour, she will likely be happy to pass the information along to whoever requires it).
- If you are vehemently opposed to having a shower, articulate your wishes to your maid of honour or other trusted confidante. Let them navigate those choppy waters on your behalf.
- Get thank you cards out to the host and attendees as soon as you can!

3 unique shower ideas
The music shower
Even if you’ve hired a DJ trying to devise a rough playlist that will please all of your guests can be a huge undertaking. Your shower is a great opportunity to poll a wide demographic for song suggestions. Whoever is hosting the event could ask guests to each bring a mix of their favourite tunes or a favourite CD to make the task a little easier.

The wine shower
If your pre-wedding celebration is going to be a co-ed event a wine shower can be a nice option. The shower can take the form of a casual wine and cheese party an in lieu of money or housewares your host can request that each guest arrive with a favourite bottle to help you stock your wine cellar.

The crafting shower
A crafting shower is the ideal choice for any DIY bride. This option allows shower guests to actually have a hand in bringing the wedding to life (whether that’s through packaging favours or stringing decorative garlands) and it is a great way to offer a bit of much-needed help to the bride.

 

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

Tips For Choosing Your Bridal Party Without Hurting Anyone’s Feelings

advice » engagement » planning

Photo courtesy iStockphoto

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

Whether you choose to have one attendant or six, the decision of who will be your supporting cast for the big day is a great one. Your wedding party will not only play a key role in the activities leading up to the wedding (and of course, behind the scenes at the wedding) their presence is also very sentimental: these are the people that you and your fiancé have chosen to have closest to you on the day you officially start your life together. Heavy stuff, right?

There are no rules when it comes to choosing your bridal party, though it makes sense that its scale fits your wedding ─ a grand bridal party of a dozen attendants on either side might seem out of place at a casual, intimate wedding, for example. Beyond the two witnesses that will sign your registry (traditionally the maid of honour and best man) your wedding party can take whatever shape you’d like it to.

Guilt, fear of hurt feelings and a sense of obligation can often creep into decisions of selecting your wedding party, so be mindful to really take emotional inventory. Perhaps you were a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, that does not mean that you are obligated to ask them to stand in yours. If there are no small children in your family that you are close with, do not feel compelled to wrangle two toddlers to serve as a flower girl or ring bearer, just for the sake of having them. The decisions you make should sincere and heartfelt, rather than couched in obligations.

As to concerns of having an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, it is a notion that serves to produce a good deal of stress and little else, it seems. If your best friend is a man, then who better suited to being your right hand? If you are extremely close to two friends and your fiancé is one of four brothers, then have at it ─ a perfect posse! The point is not to produce symmetrical photos. Do a gut-check: the crux is to mark a major milestone with those you can’t imagine not sharing it with.

Questions to ask yourself:
· How long has this friend been in your life? Has the relationship stood the test of time?

· Have they consistently been a solid, rather than fickle, friend?

· Is your friendship a soulful one, or are you more social co-partiers?

· What is their relationship to your fiancé? Do they see all the great things in each other that you see in each of them?

· How logistically feasible is their bridesmaidship? Have they just embarked on six months of travelling? Do they have a baby due when you’re getting married?

If this friend is a true blue, longstanding comrade that knows you as an individual, appreciates your soon-to-be-other half, and they’re free when you’re getting hitched, it sounds like they are just the person for the job. If there is someone you love dearly, but circumstances preclude them from being in the wedding party, they can absolutely still play a role leading up to the wedding. You could invite them to sit with your family and do a reading at the ceremony, include them in some special photos together or acknowledge them in a toast.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

You Said “Yes”! Now What?

advice » engagement » planning

Photo courtesy iStockphoto

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

Traditionally an engagement ring is sported for the first time on the day your engagement is public.  In short, if you are wearing the ring, then those nearest and dearest to you should know you are indeed engaged. Here are three things to take into account as soon as he puts a ring on it.

1. Family first
Parents are typically the first the share in the news, preferably in an intimate setting, and the same applies if you or your groom-to-be have children ─ little ones should hear the news directly from you, in private. If you and your fiancé want to be the ones to tell siblings or grandparents yourselves, it is perfectly acceptable to ask parents to stay tight-lipped for a few days, giving you time to personally tell others in your immediate family, if you like.

2. The media is the message
Once the news is out to your close friends, marvel in how quickly word travels! You will undoubtedly be relished with warm wishes ─ take the time to revel in them. If time and distance afford it, telling loved ones that you are engaged ideally happens in person (if not, a gleeful Skype or phone call will do).

3. Public announcements come last
A sage rule is that the closer the relationship to the newly-engaged couple, the more intimate the form of communication. Acquaintances might find out through Twitter or Facebook, but the people you are close enough to celebrate your birthday with, for example, should hear in a more special way. If you do tout your engagement publicly, whether that is updating your relationship status on Facebook or having your parents arrange for an engagement announcement in the newspaper, do it after your inner circle knows the news.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

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