Tuesday, July 9, 2013

10 Reasons to Hire a Planner from a Bride

Yes, we know that the title "Reasons to Hire a Wedding Planner" may become a bit repetitive on our blog but, we just had to share this story! This is from a bride's own perspective. No vendor or other planner but, a bride who praised her wedding planner and gave us 10 very good reasons why anyone getting married should hire one! Enjoy!

10 reasons to hire a wedding planner

I’ll be honest. I thought I could plan my wedding on my own. I was convinced that if I could plan a giant event all across the country and coordinate hundreds of bloggers at once for the Food Blogger Bake Sale, than why couldn’t I plan my own wedding?
Well, I was wrong. Way way wrong.
A few weeks into my engagement, I decided that as my gift to myself I would hire a wedding planner. I thought it was probably best to have someone that could help for coordinating everything and especially the day of the wedding. It would allow me to be way less stressed, and I convinced myself that it was a great idea.

And let me tell you something…. it’s the best present I’ve ever given myself! I asked Nicole, my fabulous, amazing, creative wedding planner from Green Ribbon Parties to put together a list of her top 5 reasons to hire and wedding planner. And then I put together my own list! So here it is… and I hope it helps some of you brides to be :)
Top 5 reasons why you should hire a wedding planner – from Nicole!
When you first get engaged people immediately start bombarding you with questions – Where are you getting married? Have you set the date yet? How much is your budget? Can my brother’s girlfriend’s cousin attend? And then, for the entirety of your engagement, the questions never end. They come from all directions, from parents and friends, to co-workers and even strangers! An engagement should be one of the happiest times of your life. You should be able to enjoy it, because after all, it is based on the fact that you have found your soulmate, the one you are going to spend the rest of your life with! This is the time you should be reveling in your love and not dodging questions and getting bogged down with emails and meetings! And that brings me to my list – the top 5 reasons to hire a planner.
1) Stress – A planner takes on the stress so you don’t have to. A planner will be the one to respond to all of the emails from various vendors and serve as the point person so you only have to deal with one contact. They will coordinate all of the meetings and be there to remember the details, plus ask the right questions. And most importantly, the planner will be there on the big day to make sure everything runs smoothly so you can be with you family and friends.
2) Prioritization – There are several guides you can find on the internet which will tell you what percentage you should be spending on every aspect of your wedding. I believe it is fine to use them to inform your decision, but I think it is also valuable to know what is important to you and put your money there. If food is your thing, then you might want to throw extra money into the catering budget. If you are a music lover, you might want to put a greater amount of money there. That’s why it is important to discuss what you (and this means anyone who has a say in the wedding) care about the most and in what order. A planner will offer guidance about what is within your price range and what will throw everything else out of whack. It is easy to get excited about all of the possibilities and make an uninformed choice, but a planner will serve as a great resource since they often know the acceptable range of what a service is worth.
3) Relationships with vendors – A planner is in the position to work on multiple events and they have established relationships with vendors of all sorts – photographers, florists, djs etc. Not only do planners spend time researching and meeting with vendors to know the best that’s out there for every budget, but they also refer couples to vendors constantly. As a result of all of these referrals, a vendor is more likely to negotiate with a planner since they can give them repeat business.
4) Experience – Most people are planning their wedding with no knowledge of how to throw a large-scale event. Of course there are books and plenty of tips from well-meaning friends and family, but a planner has seen many events. A planner is in the unique position to know what things should cost in every range. They can tell you if you are being cheated or if that “expensive” photographer really isn’t so expensive after all. They know what questions to ask your vendors and how to schedule the day so that you can get your photos taken, your guests fed, your speeches completed and everyone out on the dance floor.
5) They are required – More and more venues are requiring planners. Hotels used to have banquet managers to assist couples throughout the whole day, but this is an easy cost-cutting measure for venues. They get to cut their staff and have them go home and your planner will be the one to stay until the end of your wedding and make sure everything gets wrapped up – rentals collected, gifts delivered to your room, wait for vendors to come and pick up their items. Site coordinators offered up by the venues often represent the venue, not the couple. They will help you, but they will not advocate for you as aplanner would. In addition to traditional venues, many couples are now seeking out unusual spaces for their weddings – barns, art galleries, lofts – and all of these spaces need planners as well since they double as a wedding site and often have no one to help.
Top 5 reasons why you should hire a wedding planner – from Gaby!
1) Sanity. Let’s be honest here – planning a wedding, and coordinating all the vendors is hard work. Not to mention you most likely have a job, and hobbies, and other obligations that keep you busy. I’ve been super hands on in my wedding planning process, but Nicole keeps me sane. I know that I can send her an email randomly throughout the day about some small details of the wedding and she’s going to respond with an answer shortly and reassure me that all is going to be okay! Not to mention the month, week and day of the wedding. I think this is going to be the busiest time for me! Between all my upcoming pre-wedding travel and work, I know Nicole has my wedding in mind and she’s going to keep everything running smoothly.
2) Focus. I, along with many other brides I’m sure, tend to get overly excited about every last detail I see on pinterest and all the wedding blogs. I’m constantly adding things to my to-do list and making more work for everyone involved. And here’s the deal. I’ve gotta stay on focus. I have a vision, and sometimes adding too many details can get a little busy. Having a planner, who has done tons of events and knows what’s needed and what’s silly, will keep you on focus and ensure that you’re paying attention to the important things and not wasting time on anything else!
3) Peace of Mind. All I want to do on the day of my wedding, before the ceremony, is relax with my mom and bridal party, drink some sparkling wine and maybe take a stroll through the set-up of the wedding and check everything out. I know that I don’t want to be on the phone with the lighting people, trying to figure out where they are and why they didn’t arrive on time. This is probably one of my most favorite things about having a wedding planner. They take care of all that for you! Knowing me, I’ll probably want to hear a little bit of what is going on, but I know that Nicole is going to have it covered :)

4) Tie Breaker. Sometimes Thomas and I can’t decide on something. Maybe its a color. Or maybe its the way somethings works timing wise. Or maybe it’s the way the ceremony is going to run. Nicole is always there to give her trustworthy opinion and break that tie. She knows what works and what keeps an event moving!
5) Honesty. I know I can ask her any question and she’s going to tell me her honest opinion. And that’s exactly how I want it. I don’t need someone to side step around my feelings, I need an answer so I can make a decision and move on to the next decision that needs to be made. Not only does this make life easier, but it cuts waaaaaaay back on frivolous emails :)
So there you have it! Our top 10 reasons on why you should totally have a wedding planner! I hope this helps some of you bride-to-be’s out there!! Wedding planning should be fun – and I’m so happy I have help :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Maid of Honor: Your Duties

Maid of Honor: Her Duties in Detail

Help! What do you do as the maid of honor? Don't worry, we've got your job description down to a science.
Photo: Laura Beals Photography
The maid/matron of honor is part worker bee, part emotional lifeboat. Chosen for your energetic, get-the-ball-in-motion qualities, you should also remember that listening to the bride, making her laugh, and offering emotional and logistical support are also part of your honor attendant package. Here's what's expected:
  • Lead the bridesmaid troupe. It's the maid/matron of honor's (MOH) job to direct the other maids through their duties. Make sure everyone gets their bridesmaid dresses, go to dress fittings, and find the right jewelry. Also provide them with the 411 on all prewedding parties.
  • Help shop for dresses (the bride's and the bridesmaids'). And the MOH pays for her own entire wedding outfit (including shoes).
  • Offer to help the bride with prewedding tasks, from addressing invites to choosing the wedding colors and nodding enthusiastically when she waxes poetic about wedding cake.
  • Spread the news about where the bride and groom are registered.
  • Help the bride change for her honeymoon and take charge of her gown after the ceremony. Arrange for storage in a safe place until she returns.
  • Lend an ear. Whether it's about the planning, the marriage, or the registry china patterns, the MOH should assure the bride that she has someone with whom she can share her thoughts. Even if she seems to dwell on the same subjects repeatedly, the MOH keeps listening.

  • Host or cohost a bridal shower for the bride.
  • Attend all prewedding parties.
  • Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers (or delegate a bridesmaid to handle this).
  • Plan the bachelorette party with the bridesmaids.
  • See to it that all bridesmaids get to the rehearsal; coordinate transportation and lodging, if necessary.
  • Make sure that all bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time, and have the correct bouquets.
  • Hold the groom's ring during the ceremony. Safest place to put it? On your thumb.
  • Arrange the bride's train and veil before the ceremony begins and just after she arrives at the altar. The MOH might also need to help her bustle the train for easy dancing at the reception.
  • Hold the bride's bouquet while the couple exchanges vows.
  • Sign the marriage license as a witness, along with the best man.
  • Stand next to the groom in the receiving line (this is optional; the bride may decide to have attendants circulate among the guests instead).
  • Play hostess along with the other bridesmaids at frequent points during the reception: show guests where to sit, direct them to restrooms, tell them to where to put presents, invite them to sign the guest book, etc.
  • Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place.
  • Make sure the bride takes a moment to eat something -- refresh her drink, get her a plate of food from the buffet table, or instruct the wait staff to keep her entree warm.
  • Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be announced with him at the beginning of the party. Also dance with other groomsmen, the groom, and others.
  • Toast the couple after the best man. (This is optional, but it is a nice touch.)
  • Troubleshoot emotional crises. In most cases, this will require lots of tissues, hugging, and hair-smoothing. The MOH continues to be a trusted friend, a good listener, and a smart advisor.
  • Keep the bride laughing. For the stressed-out bride, laughter can be as effective as venting.

Read more: Maid of Honor: Her Duties in Detail – Bridesmaid Mother of the Bride – Bridesmaids http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/bridesmaids/articles/maid-of-honor-duties-in-detail.aspx#ixzz2XFfBMlZP

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Destination Weddings

Becoming overwhelmed with planning your wedding? This article gives us several reasons as to why Destination Weddings are becoming so popular. While reading, keep in mind that Destin, FL would be a great place for this type of wedding! Enjoy!

Destination Weddings: Why Marry Away?

Don't have a year to plan your wedding? Dreaming of a surfside ceremony? Here are six practical and personal reasons to wed away.

In the past, marrying away from home usually meant eloping. The couple would steal away in the night to flee family disapproval or expectations and tie the knot on their own terms. Today, the idea has shed its stigma and a growing number of couples are hightailing it away from the traditional formal affair to a casual, intimate occasion in their dream honeymoon spot.
These destination weddings involve just the couple; the couple and a select handful of friends and family (often just another couple); or the couple plus enough guests to constitute a bona fide weeklong family -- or college -- reunion. Then, the just-marrieds can take a second week to disappear on their own. The "reception," if any, is more like a big party and held when the couple returns home. Why are destination weddings a growing trend?

1. They're Virtually Stress-Free

Pop in the classic movie "Father of the Bride" and you'll soon understand why destination weddings are so popular. They are almost guaranteed to be simpler (and faster!) to plan than a traditional wedding and reception for two main reasons:
Even some tourist boards are jumping on the bandwagon, with brochures listing ceremony sites and local wedding vendors in their area. Even governments are working to ease restrictions and attract to-be-weds.
  • Honeymoon-happy resorts and cruise lines around the world have made it easier and more appealing to wed on-site. Many have full-time wedding coordinators on staff who are familiar with that country's marriage license requirements and who offer wedding packages that take care of all your ceremony essentials (photographer, cake, minister, etc.). You step off the plane and sign the papers; they take care of the rest.

  • If you're not getting married at a resort, you can hire a stateside wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings, contact a wedding planner in the town you plan to wed, or start early and do it yourself. Either way, you won't have to plan a reception, and won't that be a relief?!

2. No Family Drama

The second reason destination weddings rule? No scene-stealing family drama.
For Jennifer and Marc Schwartz, the initial family strategy session began to foreshadow a very large get-together of extended family and business associates. Predictably, each set of parents had their own ideas. One set thought the wedding should be held in New York City because most guests were from the area. Another set had a problem with the expense of a big-city wedding. Jennifer says that she and Marc never stopped feeling that the event is, first and foremost, about the two people getting married. "It's great if the two families are in rapport, but if not, who needs all that negative stuff?"

3. They're Cost Effective

The affordability of a destination wedding has many couples speeding off to the airport faster than you can say "I do." For instance, a couple can fly to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, get married, and stay for a deluxe weeklong honeymoon for a few thousand dollars, including lodging, meals, drinks, and airfare. Compare that with your average 150-guest wedding costing about $22,000 -- which can easily skyrocket to more than $100,000 in big cities -- plus a few extra thousand for a honeymoon. To ease the financial burden, many couples opt to travel to a place where they can get married, have a honeymoon, and still have some money left over to start their new lives together.

4. You Call The Shots

While formal weddings hold meaning for many couples, linking them to the traditions of their ancestors and culture, others want the experience to be unique, with a ceremony and location that reflect their true colors. Perhaps an "Out of Africa" experience? A snowy mountain-peak ceremony? The world is your altar.

5. They're Simply Perfect for Second Marriages

Been-there-done-that couples who are getting married for the second or third time choose destination weddings because they're simple and private. Either the bride and/or groom have done the Hollywood-scale production before and want something quieter or less expensive this time around, or they want to be someplace anonymous, without the watchful eyes and whispers of the hometown crowd. (Get married at a kid-friendly, all-inclusive resort or cruise to help your new Brady Bunch do some solid bonding.)

6. They're a Once-in-a-Lifetime Reunion Opportunity

At a typical wedding, you're on the run, meeting and greeting. Destination weddings are on vacation time. You're usually required to arrive a few days early to fill out the paperwork, so by the time your wedding rolls around, you've had two to three days of fun with your sweetie, family, and friends. How often do you have the opportunity to spend no-rush quality playtime with dear, far-flung friends? This is your chance.

Mother of The Bride: Tips Just for YOU!


Top 8 Wedding Planning Tips for Moms

Wedding planning isn't just a big deal for the bride and groom -- it's also a major moment for their moms. Here's the lowdown on some of the biggest issues and mother of the bride duties you'll face during the wedding planning process.

1. Have the Money Talk

In the initial excited moments of an engagement, to-be-weds will be thinking the sky's the limit. We're not saying you need to put a damper on their enthusiasm, but you do need to be clear about your limits. (Unless they've also announced that they're paying for the wedding themselves, in which case hey, you're off the hook!) Talk with your partner, then have a sit-down with the bride and groom-to-be to talk about the wedding finances. Be clear about how much you're willing to contribute to their wedding budget: Remember, you're an M-O-M, not an A-T-M.

2. Play Your Part

You probably have tons wedding ideas, from that great wedding florist your friend's daughter used to the cake you saw a picture of in a magazine the other week, and that's totally great. That said, don't immediately assume you'll be taking the reins when it comes to planning the wedding. Suss out what your son or daughter's expectations are by letting them know that if they need help with anything, you'll be there for them. And if there's something you'd specifically like to contribute an idea to, speak up when the time comes. But speed-dialing the bride or groom-to-be for every last tidbit of wedding info? Let's just say there is such a thing as a momzilla.

3. Dress for the Occasion

Whether you're the mother of the bride or the groom, there are some easy rules of thumb to use when choosing your mother of the bride dress. First, follow the formality and style of the wedding -- if it's going to be a casual beach affair, you're going to have to nix that black velvet gown, even if it does look great on you. Second, if you're not sure, ask! Both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom should get in touch with each other and the bride. The bride can help you by keeping you in the loop about her wedding gown, the wedding colors, and so on. And while you don't need to match each other (or the bridesmaids), it's usually a good idea for both the moms to have somewhat similar styles. The only major no-no? Skip the white (or any shade that's even close)! That hue is for the bride only.

4. Get On the Guest List

Be sure to talk to the bride and groom-to-be about their expectations for the guest list. Yes, they might be envisioning a mega-reception filled with hundreds of friends and relatives -- but they could also be thinking of an intimate outdoor affair with just a few of their nearest and dearest. Find out what their plans are for the guest list and your contribution to it (and remember, the other parents are going to want input, too!). Once you know about how many people you can reasonably invite, you can draw up your own guest list and provide it to the bride and groom. If they're not sure how many people will work, a good idea is to put a star next to the guests you feel absolutely must be invited (don't forget to factor in any plus-ones).

5. Pick Your Priorities

There probably are some things you would really love to see be part of the wedding, whether including your own mother's favorite flower in the bridal bouquet or getting your great aunt Gertrude a good seat for the reception. But if you make a big deal out of everything single little detail, all you'll accomplish is driving the bride and groom crazy -- and chances are, they'll figure out your M.O. pretty quickly and stop budging on their decisions. And they're right: It's their wedding, not yours. So here's a better plan: Choose a few things (say three) that you really, really want to be part of the wedding, and let the bride and groom know about them. Focusing on just a couple of items on the wedding agenda, the ones that really matter to you, allows you to pick your battles wisely rather than fighting it out nonstop.

6. Meet the Parents

If you haven't already, once the engagement's been announced its key for you to meet up with your son or daughter's soon-to-be in-laws. The newly engaged couple will likely initiate this, but if for some reason they don't, feel free to bring it up. Just say something light like, "Your dad and I are really excited to meet Jane's parents." If they live hundreds of miles away, that's one thing. But if it's just nerves about combining the families, be clear with your tone that you're supportive of the engagement and marriage, so of course you want to meet the new in-laws. Dinner at a nice but still casual restaurant is usually the best option; that way, no one couple has to feel the stress of playing hosts or worrying what fork to use, and everyone can just relax and get to know each other.

7. Be Their Backup

Sometimes, wedding guests can be a bit demanding -- wanting an extra serving at the reception, extensive face-time with the bride, or letting their ‘talented' youngster play a solo at the ceremony. You need to help out the bride and groom by being their first line of defense; or if that fails, being their backup. If guests come to you with complaints, deal with it tactfully by saying something like, "I'm sure Jane and Joe would love to be able to seat all of your children and their dates at the reception, but they're working with a limited budget and need to keep the wedding small. I know your being there really matters to them though, which is why they included you even though they weren't able to invite your whole family." A statement like this accomplishes three things: It makes the guest feel better, it lets the bride and groom off the hook without coming off badly, and at the same time, it doesn't give in to guests' pushy pleas.

8. Tame a Bride(or Groom)-zilla

Sometimes, it's not just the guests -- the bride or groom can get out of line with their requests. If you've got a bridezilla (or a groomzilla!) on your hands, you need to give them a little perspective. While an important role for a mom is being a shoulder to cry on, if they're making everyone else miserable, a little tough love might be in order. If they're going ballistic over every last detail, listen to their tale of woe -- then remind them that the wedding is just one day. Their love and marriage are the important things, not whether the florist is going to substitute spray roses for the ranunculus. If it's more of an attitude issue, remind them -- jokingly -- that they want the wedding party to be smiling for the wedding photos! Then ask if you there are any tasks -- things the bride or groom might have taken on themselves, or things they're delegating to their attendants -- that you or another relative can help out with to try to relieve some of the stress.

Read more: Mother of the Bride: Top 8 Wedding Tips for Moms - Bridesmaids mother of the bride - mother of the bride http://wedding.theknot.com/bridesmaids-mother-of-the-bride/mother-of-the-bride/articles/top-8-wedding-tips-for-moms.aspx#ixzz2VYkdX7w4

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Things to Avoid Right After Getting Engaged

Avoid These 5 Don'ts After Getting Engaged

From promises you shouldn't make to things you shouldn't buy, learn the most common (and costly) mistakes newly-engaged brides make.
Sharon Naylor

Photo Credit: iStockphoto
The big moment finally came and you’re in a newly-engaged bliss bubble, admiring the look and feel of a brand-new sparkler on your hand and bouncing off the walls with excitement. It's time to celebrate, but not too fast—avoid these common (and costly) mistakes from acting in the moment.

1. DON'T start inviting everyone to your wedding

Once you do, you can’t un-invite them, and you have no idea what your wedding plans are yet, and how much they will cost. You also don’t know how many people will be on your groom's side of the guest list. Hold off until your wedding picture and budget start to take shape and it's time for your save-the-dates. You'll thank us then!

2. DON'T tell your bridal party you’ll pay for all of their expenses

This is a huge mistake made by brides and grooms who have the best intentions but no real way to know how their wedding expenses are going to add up. If, say, a bridesmaid agrees to be in your bridal party because you told her you’d pay for her dress, shoes, hair, makeup, travel and lodging, but then you later say you can’t swing those things, she’s going to be really upset and angry.

3. DON'T tell parents they can help plan whatever they want

Your engagement euphoria may blind you to the fact that parents can turn into steamrollers (e.g. inviting all of their friends, pressuring you to marry in the church where they married). It’s far wiser to hold off on promises and talk with your groom about what your top priorities are as a couple. Then, you can both decide which tasks can be delegated to the 'rents.

4. DON'T promise everything to your people

Imagine how sad your groom and his relatives would be if you assigned "the good stuff" to all of your family members and friends, leaving his side to pick through whichever tasks are left. This doesn't necessarily imply that you are trying to shun his family—it's just easy to get caught up in the excitement of wedding plans.
Instead, be sure to ask your groom what his mom, dad and siblings would like to join in on, and you’ll set the stage for a close, loving relationship with the in-laws because you valued them enough to invite them into your planning circle.

5. DON'T fall in love with the first dress you see

Yes, we all know brides who bought the first dress they tried on, but this isn’t a task to rush through. Give yourself the opportunity to have magical dress-shopping experiences with your mom or MOH. You can certainly keep that first dress you saw in the running, but there's no need to mark this task "complete" on your checklist before you've even had a chance to announce your engagement to loved ones.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

For Your Bridesmaids

50 Bridesmaid Gift Ideas

Your bridesmaids deserve much more than the usual keychain or strand of faux pearls. Get creative and personal with these unique ideas.
Photo: Susan Stripling Photography

Entertain her

1. Tickets to a musical or dinner theater
2. Magazine subscriptions
3. Headphones in her favorite color
4. Specialty playing cards
5. The latest best-selling book
6. A gift certificate to a movie theater or music venue
7. An e-reader like a Kindle Fire or iPad
8. A movie-themed gift basket
9. Tickets to a sporting event
10. A set of movies themed around a favorite actor, director or film era
11. A bottle of wine and a new board game

Pamper her

12. Silk pajamas
13. A Moroccan-inspired robe
14. Personalized stationery
15. A gift certificate to a local boutique
16. A monogrammed set of bath towels
17. A designer clutch
18. A gift certificate to a luxury spa
19. A designer makeup bag
20. A beauty gift package
21. A hair and beauty makeover at a local salon
22. A boudoir photo session

Make her something

23. Personalized jewelry
24. A scented candle
25. All-natural soaps
26. Holistic beauty treatments such as bath salts and scented astringents
27. A hand-painted platter or vase, designed at a local ceramics studio and personalized with her favorite colors
28. A knitted scarf, throw or other woolen delight
29. A hand-bound photo album or scrapbook
30. Assorted jars of homemade jam and scones
31. A personalized poem, framed

Play off her passion

32. A gift certificate for an introductory ballroom, salsa or flamenco dance class
33. Workout gear
34. A flight bag, camera case or classy travel kit bearing her initials
35. An introductory pottery class
36. A gift certificate for a session with a personal trainer, Pilates instructor, reflexologist or nutritionist
37. A hot new cookbook or a first-edition classic by Julia Child, dessert bowls or a state-of-the-art pepper mill
38. Gardening tools, a flowering plant or a gift certificate to her local gardening center
39. Vintage ashtrays, lace bureau scarves or Depression-era glass
40. A subscription to a niche magazine (like skiing or photography) and a matching accessory, like a hat and scarf

Wine and dine her

41. A French press with a pound of gourmet coffee
42. Sushi-making supplies
43. A fabulous bottle of bubbly, a nice ice bucket or a wine club membership
44. A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant
45. Luxe table linens, napkin rings and place card holders
46. Decadent chocolates
47. Caviar, foie gras or a gift certificate to a nearby gourmet grocer
48. A deluxe picnic basket
49. A cute apron
50. A collection of your favorite recipes with a tea towel or colorful colander

Read more: 50 Bridesmaid Gift Ideas http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/bridal-party/articles/50-inspiring-bridesmaid-gift-ideas.aspx#ixzz2W1uz5H7R

Wedding Cakes!

Wedding Cakes: Our Top Tips

Do you know everything there is to know about wedding cakes? The more informed you are, the better the decisions you will make. We've got you covered with our top tips.
Photo: Artisan Events/Amanda Sudimack

Taste the Cake

As you start setting up appointments, find out when each baker's next tasting is scheduled. At tastings, clients are invited into the bakery to sample exemplary cakes, ask questions, and review portfolios. This is an excellent opportunity to meet bakers and fully understand the range of their abilities.
If you're using fresh blooms, triple-check with your florist that they have not been sprayed with pesticides. Make sure all inedible decorative elements are removed before the cake is sliced and served.

Select a Style

Deal with the cake after all decisions about dress style and reception decor have been made. These elements can serve as a blueprint for the design and structure of your wedding cake. Choose a cake that's compatible with the style of the venue, the season, your gown, the flower arrangements, or the menu. If you want colorful accents (such as sugar flowers or icing ribbons), give your baker fabric swatches. The cake should be part of the wedding, not a glaring sideshow.

Size It Up

Generally, three tiers will serve 50 to 100 guests; you'll likely need five layers for 200 guests or more. If the reception is in a grand room with high ceilings, consider increasing the cake's stature with columns between the tiers. (A "stacked" cake is one with its layers stacked directly atop each other, with no separators.)

Price It Out

Wedding cake often is priced by the slice -- the cost varies, but generally ranges from $1.50 to $15 per slice (though this is a very general and loose estimate). The more complicated the cake (based on intricate decorations or hard-to-find fillings), the higher the price tag. Fondant icing is more expensive than buttercream, and if you want elaborate molded shapes, vibrant colors, or handmade sugar-flower detailing, you'll pay for the cake designer's labor.

Find Ways to Save

Order a small cake that's decorated to perfection but can only feed a handful plus several sheet cakes of the same flavor to actually feed the guests. Stay away from tiers, handmade sugar flowers, and specially molded shapes. Garnish with seasonal flowers and fruit for an elegant (but less expensive) effect. If you'll have a dessert table (or another sweet) in addition to the cake, consider a cake sized for half your guests. Servings will be smaller, but the fee will shrink too.

Get the Facts on Frosting

Buttercream or fondant? That's the main question. Buttercream is often much more delicious. But if you love the smooth, almost surreal-like look of fondant as much as we do, consider frosting the cake in buttercream first and then adding a layer of fondant over the entire confection.

Consider the Weather

If you're having an outdoor wedding in a hot climate, stay away from whipped cream, meringue, and buttercream: They melt. Ask your baker about summer icing options; You might want to go for a fondant-covered cake -- it doesn't even need to be refrigerated.

Mind Your Magazines

Keep in mind, magazines (like ours) have food stylists, editors, and assistants working nonstop to keep the cakes looking perfect. These people spend hours fixing the sweating, dripping, leaning, or sagging that can happen to a cake after it's been sitting for a while. And if what they do doesn't work, they can fix it with Photoshop. They also have the luxury of creating cakes from stuff that isn't edible -- most cakes in magazines are iced pieces of Styrofoam, which certainly doesn't taste very good. So don't expect your cake designer to be able to replicate exactly what you see in print.

Take Note: It's All in the Details

When it comes to decoration, adornment costs run the gamut. The most inexpensive option is fresh fruits or flowers that, in some instances, can be applied by your florist for a minimal fee. On the high end are delicate gum paste or sugar paste flowers, which are constructed by hand, one petal at a time. But here's the bottom line: All add-ons -- including marzipan fruits, chocolate-molded flowers, and lace points -- will raise the rate. (For the record, we think it's worth the cost!)

Encourage Cake Collaboration

If you want to garnish your cake with fresh flowers, find out if the cake designer will work with your florist, or if you are responsible for the blooms. If the florist is running the show, will she have time to adorn the cake? Be wary of elaborate floral accents if your reception space decor is labor-intensive.

Get Him Involved!

The popularity of the groom's cake, traditionally a Southern custom, is on the rise. The bride's cake -- the one cut by the couple at the reception -- is traditionally eaten as dessert. The groom's cake is usually darker and richer (often chocolate) and nowadays crafted to show off the groom's passions and obsessions. Give slices to guests as a take-home memento or cut and serve both for dessert.

Go Mini?

Many bakers agree that the idea of a mini cake (where each guest gets his or her own) is a great idea -- in theory but not always in practice. Not only does each cake require its own decoration (often as intricate, if not more, than one that's four times its size), each will require its own box. Unfortunately, boxes don't come in mini-cake sizes. Often the bakery must construct individual boxes in which to transport these cakes. Multiply by however many guests you'll be having, and you'll see what a costly, time-consuming feat this actually is. That said, if you can swing it, they look amazing being passed around by waiters on sleek silver trays (and of course, they taste just as great too).

Get It On Display

Your cake will likely be on display before it's cut and consumed. Make sure there is a designated cake table that allows the most elegant presentation possible. A round table is perfect for round cakes, but a linear cake design may call for a rectangular table. Figure out your options. Once you have a cake table, have fun dressing it up: Drape it with sumptuous fabrics and decorate it with motifs, colors, and flowers to match the cake (your florist can help).

Top It Off

There are many beautiful and unique ways to top off your cake, so you can avoid plastic figurines (unless you're going for cool-kitsch). If you have an heirloom piece -- especially a fine porcelain antique -- work with your baker to integrate it into an appropriate design. A pair of sugar or gingerbread cookies can look charming atop a country wedding cake. Finely sculpted maple sugar or marzipan figurines are quaint. Other alternatives: a bouquet of sugar flowers, a cascade of icing ribbons, or even a sugar block carved out to reveal your new monogram.

Lock Down Delivery Details

Cake delivery takes coordination. Complex cakes may not necessarily be delivered in final form. Allow time and space for assembly, if needed. Refrigeration may also be required. For more on last-minute details, review our Points for the Contract.

After the Wedding...

Avoid freezer burn! Even if you take the most painstaking packaging measures, eating the top tier of your cake on your first anniversary sounds far better than it tastes. Think about indulging on your two-week or one-month anniversary, and treat yourself to a fresh cake in the same flavor when you've survived the first year. If you must adhere to tradition, wrap the cake in plastic wrap, then bag it in an airtight baggie. Stay away from aluminum foil -- it might not protect against freezer burn as well as plastic wrap because it's not an airtight material.

Read more: Wedding Cakes: Our Top TipsTheKnot.com - http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-cakes/articles/our-top-wedding-cake-tips.aspx#ixzz2W7OyofTT