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 This is a four part series of posts courtesy of Niceties & Nuptials Boutique on being organized and planning checklists in the months leading up to your wedding. 

Wedding Planning Checklist - Eight To Six Months Before Your Wedding | Niceties & Nuptials Boutique | Vermont Bride Magazine

The first of our series of Wedding Planning Checklists covered the periods of “Sixteen-to-Twelve Months” and “Eleven-to-Nine Months” in Advance of Your Wedding. 

This blog posting will address the periods of “Eight-to-Six Months” and Five-to-Four Months” in Advance of Your Wedding.

EIGHT-TO-SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR WEDDING:

  • Review Wedding Guest List: Review your guest list; reducing final head count as necessary based upon your budget.
  • Save-the-Date Mailing: Mail your Save-the-Date Notifications to wedding party and guests.
  • Officiator Meeting: Schedule a meeting with the officiator to discuss ceremony plans; outlining plans as agreed upon.  Establish that you have all official wedding documents required as they differ from religion and location.
  • Wedding Invitations/Stationery: Select and purchase your wedding invitations and matching stationery; including wedding invitations and response cards, save-the-date cards, reception menus, table placement cards, thank you cards and location direction cards.  Prior to order completion, request that samples be provided for your review and revision if necessary.   If desired, arrange for or hire a calligrapher to handle invitations; handling yourself can be very time consuming.
  • Bridal Shoes and Accessories: Order your chosen bridal shoes and accessories.  NOTE:  Be sure to browse Nuptials & Niceties Boutique’s website (nuptialsandnicetiesboutique.com) for a wide assortment of veils and bridal accessories in addition to a broad arrangements of personalized gifts for the bridal party, family and friends.
  • Order Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Order bridesmaids’ dresses; allowing up to at least six months for their arrival and required time for fittings and alterations if necessary.  Obtain color swatches to coordinate with groomsmen’s attire.  As with the bride’s wedding dress, it is important to bring along your wedding undergarment and shoes in order to assure a perfect fit and proper gown length; especially if a floor-length gown.   Also be aware, that getting in and out of vehicles can be difficult if wearing a straight-length gown.
  • Groomsmen Attire: Purchase or rent groomsmen tuxedos/suits; coordinated with bridesmaids gowns.
  • Name Change: Arrange for your name change if applicable on all appropriate documents.
  • Rental Reservations: If required, make and confirm rental reservations for decorations, tables, chairs, linens, lighting, fixtures, portable toilets, etc.  Obtain rental contracts and assure that everything is included as requested.  Establish the exact times and dates for pick-up/delivery and returns in order to avoid additional rental charges. 
  • Transportation Booking: Contract for necessary transportation to and from venues with back-up arrangements; be it by limos, minibuses, antique/town cars, trolley cars or horse-and-carriages. 
  • Wedding Day Events Scheduling: Begin outlining your choice of wedding day events; i.e., time of wedding, bridal party reception, wedding party photography to follow, guest versus wedding party arrival times, reception bridal party introductions, the first dance request, cake-cutting ceremony, etc. 
  • Hair/Makeup Styles: Explore wedding day hair and makeup styles for both bride and bridesmaids.
  • Early Gifts: Upon receiving early gifts, be sure to mail thank you cards on a timely basis.

FIVE-TO-FOUR MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR WEDDING:

  • Bride’s Wedding Accessories: Purchase your wedding veil, undergarment, shoes and accessories.  NOTE:  Be sure to browse Nuptials & Niceties Boutique Website (nuptialsboutique.com or nuptialsandnicetiesboutique.com) for a great selection of wedding veils and accessories as well as wonderful personalized gifts for your bridal party, family members and friends.
  • Bride’s Wedding Dress Fittings: Schedule your wedding dress fittings.  Be sure to bring along your wedding undergarment and shoes in order to attain an accurate fitting and proper gown length.
  • Wedding Night Accommodations: Be sure that a room accommodation has been made for your wedding night at either the Make a hotel reservation for your wedding night; preferably at same location of your reception.
  • Honey Moon Flights/Hotels: Make your honey moon flights and hotels reservations.
  • Wedding Cake Selection: Confirm your wedding cake choice with your contracted baker(s).  Be assured of sufficient cake for all invitees.  Also include a one-year anniversary cake with your order if desired.
  • Rehearsal Dinner Invitees: Decide upon and assemble your rehearsal dinner guest list.  Be sure to include entire wedding party along with family members and close friends of choice.  Consider inviting the wedding officiant as well as out-of-town guests who have traveled a long way to attend your wedding.
  • Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Book or request that rehearsal dinner reservations are made.  Select the menu and be sure to negotiate the per person cost; obtaining an agreed upon written contract.  Assure that appropriate arrangements are made for all invitees.  NOTE:  If hosting a day-after brunch for guests, consider booking at same location as well.
  • Rehearsal Dinner Invitations: Order your rehearsal dinner invitations.
  • Welcome Baskets: Arrange for welcome baskets at selected hotels for your out-of-town guests.
  • Music List: Prepare a DJ/band “play/do not play” music list for both your ceremony and reception.  Provide directions as to what you want played for introduction of the wedding party, during dinner, for the bride/groom’s first dance, for the bride/father’s dance, and throughout the evening.  Consider obtaining song requests from your guests.  And request that the music be kept at a reasonable level.
  • Check Wedding Invitations: Request the stationer for a sample of your ordered invitations; allowing you to revise as needed.
  • Hair/Makeup Artists: Schedule a few appointments with local hair and makeup artists to try them out.  Take photo of results to aid in your selection.  Upon making a decision, contract for wedding day appointments for yourself and bridesmaids.  Be sure to allow sufficient time for appointments.
  • Bridal Shower: If aware of your bridal shower, provide a suggested guest list to the host of it.
  • Rehearsal Dinner: Book your rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues.  Consider hosting post wedding brunch at same location.  Be sure to negotiate costs for both rehearsal dinner and day after wedding brunch.
  • Wedding Cake: Order decided upon wedding cake.
  • Flower Order: Order decided upon flowers for entire wedding party, attendants, decorations, venues and cake, etc.
  • Honeymoon: Finalize your honeymoon plans and ensure that flights, hotels and all documents are in order.
  • Out-of-town Wedding Guest: Order/make up wedding baskets for out-of-town wedding guests.
  • Music List: Prepare and provide Musician/Band/DJ your list of selected music to be played at ceremony and reception; at start of ceremony, during ceremony, for wedding party announcement, for first dance, during dinner, after dinner, etc.
  • Honeymoon: Finalize your honeymoon plans and ensure that flights, hotels and all documents are in order.
  • Rehearsal Dinner: Finalize rehearsal dinner guest list and order rehearsal dinner invitations.
  • Rehearsal Dinner Menu: Establish that the rehearsal dinner menu has been arranged with venue or caterer.  Usually the groom’s parents take responsibility for the rehearsal dinner.  If not the case, it will be up to you to handle. 
  • Finalize Wedding Guest List: Finalized your wedding guest list; hoping to be within your budget allowance.

In our next blog posting, we will address the Checkpoint Periods of “Three-to-Two Months” and “One Month” in Advance of Your Wedding.

 

This is a four part series of posts courtesy of Niceties & Nuptials Boutique on being organized and planning checklists in the months leading up to your wedding. 

Wedding Planning Checklist - Sixteen to Twelve Months in Advance | Niceties & Nuptials Boutique | Vermont Bride Magazine

This blog emphasizes the importance of working with Wedding Planning Checklists in order to simplify and assure an organized, stress free, and memorable wedding experience.  You may wish to use our provided checklists or create your own.  As the average length of a U.S. engagement is 16 months, Nuptials & Niceties Boutique’s Checklist Blogs begin at the sixteen month period.

SIXTEEN TO TWELVE MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR WEDDING:

  • Wedding Dates: Plan 2-3 wedding dates for flexibility.
  • Become Organized: Maintain important records and magazine articles of interest pertaining to all aspects of planning a wedding; compiling in your Wedding Planner Manual.
  • Purchase Insurance: Insure your engagement ring and obtain wedding insurance.  Cancellation/Postponement Insurance is recommended to cover unpredictable illness, emergencies, inclement weather, vendor problems, wedding dress damage, etc.  Venues typically require Wedding Liability Insurance for protection in events of injuries, property damage or alcohol related accidents.  
  • Wedding Budget: Establish your budget – What you can afford along with family contributions if applicable.  (To be addressed in detail in a subsequent blog.)
  • Wedding Discounts/Promotions: Look for wedding promotions/discounts in craft stores, wedding magazines and on line.
  • Wedding Dress/Veil Styles: Research wedding dress/veil styles in bridal magazines and on line. 
  • Style Boards: Create wedding fashion style boards using Social Media Sites to aid in your decision making. 
  • Wedding Party: Choose your wedding party; Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids, Best Man and Groomsmen, Flower Girl and Ring Bearer.  Also, consider who you wish to sing/do readings at the ceremony and give toasts at the reception; requesting of individuals as soon as possible.
  • Guest List: Create a guest list worksheet to include columns for save-the-date mailings, wedding invitation mailings, RSVPs, early gifts, and sent thank you notes; using a database for this purpose is recommended.  Working within your budget may require cutting head count.
  • Wedding Planner: Hire a Wedding Planner if desired for overall assistance in handling all aspects of your wedding.  In so doing, however, maintain a close relationship; attending all venue meetings and keeping your own on-going records as well as venue contracts.  Review with your Wedding Planner on a regular basis to assure that everything is being planned according to your desires.
  • Ceremony/Reception Venues: Research ceremony and reception venues based upon your 2-3 possible wedding dates.  If to occur at different locations, take into account travel time and distance between both places.  There are many questions to be asked prior to determining which venues to select.  (To be addressed in detail in a subsequent blog.)
  • Wedding Dress Order: Order your wedding dress; allowing for up to three scheduled fittings.  The veil, undergarment, shoes and accessories can be purchased later.  However, it’s imperative to have and bring along your undergarment and shoes for your dress fittings to assure a perfect fit and proper gown length; especially important if a floor-length gown.
  • Ceremony/Reception Selections:  Select your ceremony and reception venues.  Obtain written rental contracts specifying in detail what is included in rentals and what requires additional charge.  It is strongly recommended that arrangements be made for alternative venues with the latest cancellation possible.  Many weddings have been ruined due to venue catastrophes such as fires/floods with no other options available.  Also, provide coordinators your vendor names and phone numbers for contact purposes if necessary.
  • Wedding Date: Confirm your wedding date now that your ceremony and reception venues have been decided upon.
  • Vendor Selections: Research and select your photographer, videographer, musicians, DJ, florist, and baker as well as caterer if required.  In advance of making selections, request to see photographers’ and florists’ wedding photo albums and videographers’ videos.  Attend performances of potential bands, musicians and DJs.  Meet with several bakers and caterers; sampling assortments of cakes/food dishes.  Obtain business cards and request references from each vendor.  (To be addressed in detail in a subsequent blog.)
  • Wedding Officiant:  Book with your wedding officiant with plans of meeting at a later time.

 ELEVEN-TO-NINE MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF YOUR WEDDING:

 Engagement Photograph: Get engagement photos taken and publish in desired newspaper(s).

  • Save the Date Notifications: Order and mail the Save-the-Date Notifications.
  • Bridal Party Attire: It’s time to choose and order your bridal party attire and accessories; allowing for a couple fittings.   As with the bride’s wedding dress, undergarment and shoes should be brought along for fitting to allow for a perfect fit and proper gown length.   Also be aware, it can be difficult getting in and out of vehicles if wearing a straight-long gown.  NOTE:  Be sure to browse Nuptials & Niceties Boutique Website (nuptialsandnicetiesboutique.com) for a great selection of wedding veils and accessories as well as wonderful personalized gifts for the bridal party, family members and friends.
  • Engagement Party: Throw an engagement party, if desire.  Be sure that all invitees are also on your wedding guest list.
  • Honeymoon Plans: Begin planning your honeymoon; working within your budget.  Obtain or update your passports.  Determine if shots are required and get those recommended.
  • Fitness Program: Establish a regular fitness program and skin care/beauty routine.
  • Wedding Registries: Sign up to at least three national retailers for wedding registries.
  • Hotel Room Bookings: Research and select a block of hotel rooms at three hotels located close to the reception facility for out-of-town guests; offering a range of prices.  Only book for those needed to avoid charges for unused rooms.  Ask if a guest room list is required or can guests make their own reservations.  Determine if special needs/handicapped accommodations are provided.  Remember to reserve rooms for the wedding party the night prior to the wedding if not provided for by the reception facility.  Ask if the hotel will provide a room for the bride and groom’s first night or provide other incentives.  If giving guest baskets, confirm if hotel will deliver them to assigned rooms or hand out at front desk and if a fee will be charged for service.   Otherwise, you may wish to consider handing them out at the reception.
  • Paid Hotel Reservations: If paying for guest rooms in advance, confirm ahead in writing exactly what you are paying for and understand what guests will be responsible for if anything.  Be sure to inform guests of such arrangements.
  • Wedding Website: You can create a personal wedding page by using a free website; just search on free website creations.  Be sure to list your wedding date, wedding registries, ceremony and reception locations, hotel accommodations and other pertinent wedding information.  Send your website link to your wedding party and all invitees.
  • Wedding Invitations/Stationery: Browse wedding invitation designs and matching stationery; including wedding programs, menu cards, RSVPs, direction cards and thank you cards.

 In our next posting, the Checkpoints of “Eight-to-Six Months” and Five-to-Four Months” in Advance of Your Wedding will be addressed.

 

Ceremony Music Tips | Paint Your Ceremony Your Way | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Letter10 Creative

Classical music wafting through the air, elegantly winding through the gathered group of family and friends – or would you prefer a little Celtic lilt to put a spring in your step on your special day? Or what about that special hymn grandma always used to sing? Or that pop tune or show tune you always sang as a kid - or first danced to as a couple? Or what about something totally different - something composed just for your special day?

When most people think of “wedding music” what pops to mind is often Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (“Here comes the bride…”) or Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” or perhaps Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” You might imagine a church organ or perhaps a classical quartet. Many couples do choose some variation on the above for their wedding music - and why not? Classic, elegant choices that are easy to walk to, and that are tested by time, will never go out of style. Would a bride avoid wearing a long gown and decide not to exchange rings simply because everyone else does? Traditional choices can say as much about you as non-traditional choices, if chosen from the heart.  This type of connection with tradition and the past can be comforting, sentimental, and certainly can make your decision-making simpler!

 But sometimes couples choose music that’s a little different - and again, why not? It’s your day to paint the town - the music will paint the atmosphere and color the feeling of your celebration - why not choose music that has significance for you personally? That touch of you in the music will touch your guests as well as bringing you smiles - or tears - or a lift in your every move. Again, if the tunes that are significant for you are also popular with others, then go for it! If not, the sky’s the limit!

I had the honor of playing for a wedding where the bride had arranged or composed the music for her own wedding - including a special song performed by a friend. At another, the bride commissioned a friend to create medleys of a series of special songs - primarily Broadway songs and hymns, and chose popular but non-traditional classical music for the prelude. Many couples wish to have entirely classical music for their weddings, but prefer to completely avoid the traditional wedding standards. There are too many options to list here, but you may wish to look into music by Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, for the classic sound that’s not “wedding standard.” And by the way - don’t think of these composers as the stodgy old men you often see in pictures - if Bach really were the person we think of when we see his stiff representation in portrait, do you honestly believe he would have fathered 20 children? Or composed the intensely energetic music he did? Bach, in particular, composed some of the most versatile and awe-inspiring music ever heard - and a great deal of his music has been arranged for many different combinations of instruments, and is often heard at weddings, though never as the standards that could be considered “over-used” - so check him out! I’ve also recently played as recessionals:  “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles and “Landler” from Sound of Music; as processionals: “Til’ There Was You” and “Fanny Power.” I’ve played two weddings where the request was for music throughout the ceremony – essentially a soundtrack - a mix of styles, in one case with music continuing even as background for the vows, and the entire ceremony built on musical selections that were particularly special for the couple.

Want to get even more unique? Vermont boasts a huge variety of composers and song writers. If this is of interest, you may wish to contact Steve Klimowski, clarinetist from  the ”Classic Consort” - also director of the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble – for names of Vermont composers who might suit your style. Why not consider having a special song composed just for your special day? It would lend a whole new meaning to the phrase “playing our song!”

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.

 

Vermont Bride Magazine Lookbook Issue No. 7 | Wedding Inspiration and Resources for Vermont and New England Weddings

The seventh issue of the Vermont Bride Lookbook is here! This issue is full of gorgeous inspiration from an elegant and luxurious spring garden wedding to a rustic, winter soiree at a cabin in the woods. Browse ideas from real Vermont weddings held all over the state, in a variety of venues and styles. Check out our vendor directory and find out more information about each vendor by simply clicking on their ad.

The Lookbook is easy to view on all devices, from your desktop to your smart phone, and you can even bookmark pages or share content to Facebook, Pinterest, or via email. It is definitely an essential resource for any modern bride or groom planning their wedding! The best part is it is free to read and will be available to you any day, any time, and for as long as it's on the internet, which is basically forever. Check it out now! 

 

Musican Choices From The Heart | Ceremony Music Inspiration | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Letter10 Creative

I still often cry at weddings. This may sound like a strange admission from someone who plays music at weddings all the time. Especially a flutist - no one wants a flutist sputtering and squeaking into their instrument during their processional. Rest assured, I have learned to turn off the faucet at the right times, but, well, I do often cry at weddings. 

It doesn’t seem to matter for me whether a couple has chosen Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for processional or “When You Wish Upon a Star;’ ”Adagio” from Handel’s G major flute sonata  or the Celtic tune “Fannie Power;” Schubert’s “Ave Maria”  or Journey’s “Don’t’ Stop Believin;”  Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” or “Laendler” from Sound of Music; the Filipino popular song  “Ikaw” or the Jewish traditional song “Dodi Li” (my beloved) or the Broadway hit “’Til There Was You.” When I know the choice of ceremony music is heartfelt and reflects either the bride or groom’s love of tradition or their desire to be unique in a particular way, especially when I know that a particular tune brings tears to their eyes - I do frequently get caught up in the joy and emotion of the moment.

Your wedding day is, in the very best sense, all about you. It’s a time when you  choose from a palette of colors, sounds, views and words that reflect you - as individuals and as a couple. If each choice, as you make it, stirs your soul, helps you to understand and respect one another better - your similarities and your differences - and brings on the joy or the tears or the strength or the vulnerability that you seek, that will be felt by others present at your wedding. 

This past year, I met with a wedding couple and as I was playing through a few possible processionals, the bride-to-be told me “That one made me cry!” Well, I played a few more possibilities just to be sure, but it seemed clear that “Sheep May Safely Graze” was the one that was meant to be the wedding party processional for her wedding, where her daughter would be the junior maid of honor. As I was playing “Sheep May Safely Graze” as a duo with my own violinist daughter months later at this wedding, and the bride’s daughter was walking up the aisle, well, yes, I held off the tears for the time being, but only due to years of experience. I’ve played “Sheep May Safely Graze” many times, as well as the Pachelbel Canon that followed for the Bride’s processional, but in this moment, knowing how the bride felt about these pieces, I felt the music with a fresh perspective, energy and emotion.

Some couples know exactly what they want, while some have no idea. Sometimes the process can feel easy, sometimes overwhelming. As you can imagine from the list of processionals mentioned above (all from weddings I’ve played in one calendar year), the options for wedding music can be wide open and virtually limitless. If you’re overwhelmed with the decisions about wedding music, first speak with the professional musician you’ve chosen for your wedding. They may be able to make some suggestions that strike a chord for you, and that they know sound great with the instruments you’ve chosen. There are also numerous lists of options available online - a google search may make the difference between not knowing where to start and - “aha! That’s perfect!” And of course there’s YouTube. Your professional may be able to send you links to videos to give you some ideas, or you can browse yourself.

Your first step: know that your options are very wide, but can be very simple if you know what clicks for you (bearing in mind that in some cases there may be an extra charge for special sheet music purchases or arrangements, or some options may be less suitable for the instrument combination you may have already chosen). Your second step: find the music that makes your heart skip a beat or that brings you joy or sighs or tears - or whatever emotion you wish for your day.  The loved ones who gather with you on your day will feel it too.

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She maintains a private flute studio for in Montpelier, Vermont and also teaches online to students worldwide.