Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Buying a gown

The wedding gown has become an icon in Western culture.  Many wedding professionals  use your gown as a guide to your style. Everyone you know will have an opinion about what you should wear, and there are literally, thousands of choices available.

I used to sell wedding gowns.  It was a job that was frustrating, entertaining and challenging. My expereinces, however, can benefit you.  Here's all my best advice about gown shopping in a convient list format.

  • Get an idea about what you think you want before you head to a store.  Once you walk in and see a thousand dresses hanging up, it' get's overwhelming.
  • Make appointments to guarantee you will have time with at a salon.
  • For the first few rounds of shopping, take only one or two people who know your taste and want to help you look your best.  I can't tell you how many times I had a bride with an entire entourage (every single one of them with their own agenda) and no clue about what she wanted.  It makes for craziness.  Narrow down your choices first, then bring the whole crowd for the final round (once you've narrowed the selections to two or three).  This will make life much easier for you and your bridal consultant.
  • Be open to trying on a couple of suggestions that you hadn't considered.  A good bridal consultant will know the store's stock, the dressmaker's offerings and have experience with the best gowns for your shape.  You could be pleasantly surprised to find the perfect dress isn't one you had thought of.
  • Also, don't be afraid to ask for a different consultant if the one you start out with isn't a good match.
  • Gowns from most lower and mid range dressmakers will take 8-12 weeks for delivery and then alterations will take about 2-3 weeks on top.  Give yourself time.
  • Get recommendations from people about seamstresses.  Trust me when I say some "professionals" are not.
  • If you are looking for a unique gown, try etsy or other artisan sites.  For period clothing, try Renstore.com, Victorian Trading Co., Amazon Dry Goods, Folkware (patterns only), or vintage clothing stores.
  • Bridesmaids dresses are a great alternative for less formal or inexpensive events.  They are also available in a rainbow of colors.
  • Your gown should be ordered in your current size and altered to fit. Don't bank on losing weight to fit a smaller gown.  Also, don't freak out when you see the number on the size chart.  Formal wear is often sized differently from your everyday clothing.
  • If you can spend time during the week to shop for your gown, you will get more time and better service than on the weekends.
  • Don't let people talk you into things you hate.  You can try them on and discard them, but don't settle.
  • Have fun!
Happy shopping!

Monday, November 28, 2011

An exciting discovery, I think

Guess what I found?  All of my wedding planning notes, including my ceremony outline.  It was in with the taxes from, like, 10 years ago.  I will try to re-type it and post it for an example in the next few weeks.  It is very detailed because our ceremony was performed by a non-denominational minister who was completely unfamiliar with hand fasting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wedding Checklist: 4 to 5 months

4–5 months

  •  Decide on bouquets and floral arrangements with the florist, or look for ideas to do with your own flowers.
  • Plan the groomsmen attire
  • Finalize the rental lists.  Tables, chairs, tents, etc.
  • Grooms: Buy or rent your attire and accessories.
  • Book a calligrapher if you are using one.
  • Book the rehearsal dinner and finalize rehearsal dinner plans.
  • Decide the dress code...how do you want your guests to dress?  Black tie, casual, or something in between?
  • Book a handfasting night hotel room
  • Finalize what the groomsmen are wearing.  If need be, have fittings.
  • Make all honeymoon and travel reservations, including flights and rooms.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Looking for contributors!

Are you in the wedding business or a pagan officiant?  Want to share your wisdom?  We'd be happy to have you join this blog.  Send an email to: cauldronfullofstars@gmail.com


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just a bit of silliness to share

I love Failblog.org's Wedinator.  So much silliness goes on at weddings, and somebody finally harnessed that to turn a profit.  Occasionally, I'll share things I find there here, so keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Did you know that are actually enough rules about wedding stationary etiquette to fill a large book?  Really.  I read it.  Very dull, frequently outdated and pricey.  Here is my short(er) and simple(r) guide for invitations.

Start looking for invitations 3-4 months before you need them.  If ordering from a printer or thermographer, expect them to take around two weeks.  Engraving takes longer.  Printing at home is quicker, but in my experience, it adds unnecessary stress.  A professional can make the invitation process much quicker and easier.

Picking an invitation can be daunting.  there are literally thousands of options to choose from.  The invitation is typically the first glimpse guests have of your event, but you don't have to do anything elaborate or flashy.  A simple white or ivory card with black or grey lettering is the classic for a reason.

  • If your invitation requires assembly (like ribbon tying or difficult folding, make sure you will have time to deal with this.  
  • Be careful when you pick a font- if it's too difficult to read, some guests may not be able to read it.  If you are absolutely in love with ornate curling fonts (I love Spencerian calligraphy), consider using it only for your names, while printing the rest of the invitation in a more readable font.  
  • You don't have to spend a fortune on your invitations.  Most people will throw them away eventually.
  • Postage on wedding invitations is nearly always more than a first class stamp will cover.  Take a completed invitation to the post office to have postage calculated before you send them out, or you will end up mailing them twice, which gets expensive.
Wording your invitation is a bit tricky.  Old ettiquette rules are still followed by most couples.  These are the three most common combinations I saw when I was doing wedding stationary orders.

Formal, traditional

Mr. and Mrs. Bride's Parents
request the honour of your presence 
at the marriage of their daughter
Bride's First and Middle Names
Groom's Full Name
on Saturday, the eight of Month
Two thousand and eleven
at time o'clock
Location Name
Location address
City, State/Provence

Please note that honour should be spelled with a "u" on wedding invitations.  Honor without is reserved for military and funerary purposes.  You can also substitute handfasting, hand fasting, commitment ceremony or wedding in the place of marriage.  The groom's parents can be included under the groom's name by adding a "son of" line and the following line of their names.  A verse, short poem or quote can be included at the top of the invitation if you like.

Formal- bride and groom inviting

Bride's Name
Groom's Name
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
on Saturday, the day of the Month
Two thousand and eleven
at time o'clock
Location Name
Location Address
City and State/Provence

Informal, traditional

Bride's Parents
request the pleasure of your company 
at the wedding of their daughter
Bride's Name
Groom's Name
on Saturday, the day of Month,
Two thousand and eleven
Location Name
Location Address
City, State/Provence

Reception cards need not be included if the reception directly follows the ceremony in the same location.  If not, include reception cards.  Pre-addressed and stamped RSVP cards will make your life a little easier when get a guest count, but keep in mind, that you will probably have to call or email a few people who won't respond.  The reception card is a good place to specify attire, no gifts please or no children.  Even better, pass the message along through word of mouth.

Invitations are a necessary and time consuming part of wedding planning.  The options and etiquette are dizzying, I know.  It took years for me to get to the point I could just do this without reference.  If you need help, contact me here, or contact a professional stationer in your area.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Avoiding Bridezilla

Weddings are stressful, and anytime we are under unusual stress, the potential for flaring tempers increases exponentially.  Bridezilla, a rather recent term for an old phenomenon, is now part of our slang (I used to call it going bridal when I was in the wedding business).  It describes a bride who loses sight of what's important in planning a wedding and who becomes unbearable and selfish, alienating everyone around her.

Very few people plan to let wedding stress turn them into monsters, but it happens (three days before my wedding, I rather rudely informed a bride getting married a week after me that I couldn't give a shit about her problem, because the tuxedos for my wedding and three others were MIA- while I was at work at a bridal shop).  Here is my advice for keeping things in perspective, both as a bride and as a former wedding professional:

  • The goal of planning a wedding is to have a marriage after all is said and done.
  • When dealing with wedding professionals, remember, they talk to brides all the time.  To them, your wedding is one of many.  Expect courtesy and professionalism from them, not special treatment (especially if you are asking for more than your contract spells out).
  • You want to still be on good terms with your friends and family after the wedding, so don't let little things like picking out bridesmaids dresses or using a different DJ become fights.
  • You can't please everybody, but you can take a moment to listen to what people say, even if you don't do what they want you to do.  "I'll keep that in mind" and "Thanks for the advice" are handy phrases.  Noncommittal and polite is the way to go.
  • Every wedding I have ever been to or worked on had a disaster of some degree.  You can't control the weather, other people or traffic.  Chances are, your guests will never be aware of the problem unless it's pointed out to them.
  • Kids are kids, not miniature adults.  Don't expect anything else.
  • Some people will not like your choices.  Develop a duck's back against criticism.
  • Your significant other loves you for who you are, and that is what really matters.
  • Don't forget to say "please", "thank you" and "I'm sorry".
Going a little crazy while planning a wedding is normal.  Keep the stress reactions to a minimum and everyone will thank you for it.  If you feel overwhelmed, stop and take a breather.  Ignore your planning for a few days, go for walk or put your foot down to prevent yourself from being walked all over.  Smile, be happy, and keep your eyes on the prize.  This will all be over before you know it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wedding Checklist: 6 to 8 months

6–8 months
  • Start your registry, if you are having one. Keep track of your registry numbers to give out.
  • Start deciding on ceremony music...what you are going to play for guests before the ceremony, what you will walk down the aisle to, what will play as the two of you walk out.
  • Start looking at hairstyles, keeping track of what draws you to different styles. Start researching stylists in your area.
  • Start looking for local bakers to make your cake.
  • Decide on a florist and send in the deposit, or make sure your plants are growing nicely.
  • Start deciding on dresses for your attendants. A more common occurrence these days in a colour is chosen, and the attendants choose their own dresses.
  • Book and get engagement photos taken if you want them.
  • Prep for out of town guests, booking slabs of rooms at hotels for them or a lot of campground space depending on how they are travelling. Don't book without getting numbers though, and if you book in a large enough amount you can also try to get a discount!
  • Finalize the attendant dresses. Make sure each one gets their dress tailored if that is of importance to you.
  • Book your cake.
  • Send out save the dates NOW if you haven't already.
  • Plan the Rehearsal Dinner.
  • Start thinking about wording for the invitations. Traditional, modern, witchy, or something else?
  • Finalize the menu with the caterer.
  • Order your invitations!
  • Start thinking about what kind of centrepieces you want. Again, this can be decided by the wheel of the year. Samhain? Something with pumpkins. Lughnasadh? Shocks of Wheat, perhaps.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wedding Checklist: 9 to 11 months

9-11 months
  • Start looking for a High Priest and Priestess to perform the ceremony. Some of them will require marriage counselling, which can take several weeks at the least. You also want to be able to find someone you are compatible with.
  • Start planning the guest list. Have two lists, A and B. The A list is for everyone that you feel HAS to be there, the B list is for people who it would be nice to have there, but only if you have the extra space or invites. When making your lists, keep in mind that the people you invite will probably have to participate in the circle, so make sure that they are comfortable with this before hand.
  • Find a ceremony/reception site, if you are having both in the same place. Book as soon as possible. Be sure that they are they are comfortable with what will be going on in the space; renting a church basement wouldn't go over very well.
  • Start looking at rentals if it is an outdoor wedding – an event tent, chairs, tables, etc.
  • Choose the bridal party – who will stand with you, who will the flower girl/ring boy be if you are having such, who will take care of the guest book, the ushers if needed, who will help hold the broom for you to jump over.
  • Start shopping for dresses. Custom made dresses can sometimes take a long time to get in, so the earlier the better. Especially for Witchy wedding dresses.
  • Start looking for Djs or musicians. Ask for samples of their work. Decide whether you want specific musicians for the ceremony as opposed to the reception as well.
  • Look for a caterer. Make sure to have a tasting, and as soon as possible decide, sign the contract and send in a deposit. Plan your reception menu. Decide on price per head with the caterer. If you are planning by the wheel of the year, you may want to be sure that your caterer can include some meals with significance for you.
  • Shop around at different floral shops for prices. An attractive alternative for green witches? Grow your own flowers!
  • Plan out the ceremony with the High Priest and High Priestess. Be sure to mention passages you would like included or things of special significance to you.
  • Look for a photographer and/or videographer. When you find someone you like, book them! They book out quickly.
  • Decide on which colours, if you haven't already. Again, if you are planning by the wheel of the year this can be a great help in deciding colours. Green and Red for a Yule wedding, Orange and black for a Samhain wedding, Gold and Green for Litha.
  • Order your dress! At least send in the deposit and go for measurements.
  • Decide what kind of invitations you want, who you want to get them from, and sayings or quotes you want included. Be sure to let people know what to expect, most people have never been to a handfasting. A little information sheet written with what they can expect is usually well received.
  • Book your honeymoon, if you are planning on having one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ceremony Choices

Your ceremony is the most important part of your wedding day, as it is the time that will transform you from single persons to a married couple.  It is when you will make your promises to each other, in front of gods and witnesses.  Obviously, it will take quite a bit of attention to plan.

For Pagans and Wiccans, one of the first steps to planning will be to determine what type of ceremony you prefer.  Are you looking for a legally binding ceremony, if so, you will need to verify what the legal requirements are in your area.  It varies wildly, so do your homework.  Will you need to apply for a marriage license?  What are the requirements?  Some places require blood tests, others documents as well as identification.  Is there a waiting period?  Where do you go to apply?  How much does it cost? What should you bring?  If don't care about legalities, you will still need to make some decisions.

Are you planning a highly ritualized ceremony in a circle?  Something more "traditional" or is something in between more your speed?  The answers to these questions is obviously dependent upon how "out of the broom closet" you are and the dynamics and acceptance levels of your friends and family.  Personally, my wedding was a blend.  It was legally binding in California, and symbolic enough to suit my religious views, but not so unusual that people were uncomfortable (my husband's family often pretends not to know about my Pagan beliefs, and he is an atheist himself).  We blended the traditional wedding ceremony with pagan symbolism and our own personalities. For details, see my About Me page.

A very religious handfasting ceremony will require it's own questions that are best addressed by your officiating Priest or Priestess.  Each specific group will have it's own version of a handfasting ceremony.  Will you include non-pagan guests?  How will you pass the word about circle etiquette?  What will you vow?

Your ceremony should reflect your relationship.  Your promises should be reasonable to the two of you who are making them, not other people.  Discuss what you both expect from your ceremony and go from there, speaking with your officiant, your families and your friends for support, guidance and suggestions.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wedding Checklist: 12 months and earlier

Here is the first part of a wedding checklist, tweaked and edited for handfastings!  Most of these things are interchangeable with a more traditional wedding, but some are not.  I realize that it is a short list, but there isn't too much to do before then!

12+ Months

  • What do you want your handfasting to look like?  Now is the time to decide on a tentative theme.  Backyard, fancy, elegant, beach, etc.  Make sure there is room for a circle to be cast.
  • Decide on a budget and decide who will contribute what.  This is a good meeting to have with both of your families.
  • Decide on a date and time.  Keep in mind you may want to look at astrology books, or decide based on the wheel of the year.
  • If you are having a traditional white dress, start looking now.  If you are going with something more Witchy, you can find several websites that sell dresses.  You could also give some thought to hiring a seamstress.

The next portion of the checklist will be posted next week.  A big part of planning a wedding or handfasting is not to rush, regardless of how much time you have or don't.  Checklists always help!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coming Soon!

Stacy and I are working hard at getting the tone and schedule of this blog working.  In the near future, please look for our narratives about our weddings, a checklist to help you with your planning, some witchy wedding products and advice about crafting your ceremony, writing invitations and wheel of the year crafts to enhance your event!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Timing is everything

When it comes to event planning, timing is everything. Start out by deciding what kind of event you want.  Something simple can be put together very quickly, but elaborate weddings take time (or lots of money) to make them work out.

I grew up in the wedding industry; my parents were photographers  (and I late sold gowns, bridesmaids dresses, rented tuxedos and did custom stationary orders) and most weddings were booked at least a year in advance.  Why?  Because things take time.  If you order a wedding gown from a bridal shop (not a big bridal retailer) your dress will take weeks to be delivered (unless you pay a rush charge).  Invitations need about a week of turn around time and should be mailed out at least six weeks in advance.  Bridesmaid's dresses, six weeks.  Some officiants require premarital counselling which can take weeks.  Many vendors are booked a year or more in advance for peak season (which is traditionally late April through early September).

This shouldn't discourage you if you are absolutely certain your wedding needs to happen quickly (there are tons of reasons that couple need a short engagement), but remember that the stress increases exponentially the less time you have to put things together.  Sit down together, with your families and attendants (in necessary) and discuss when would be best.  Are you dead set on a particular date or season?  Are you working around other commitments? Is there a compromise available?  If you choose a date that is more than a year in the future, begin passing the word and/or send out save the date cards.  Once you have made this big decision, it's time to talk budget.  Take everything one step at a time and you'll be fine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting started

There are many decisions to make as you plan your wedding, hand fasting or commitment ceremony.  One of the best ways to do this is to sit down with your significant other and talk about what you each want.  Are you looking for something intimate and simple or something grand?  Do you want your union to be legally recognized (you will need to research the legalities involved in getting married in you area- don't worry, we'll come back to this topic in a later post)?  What reflects the two of you and your relationship? When do you want to get married?

Once you've had this discussion.  Buy a couple of wedding magazines.  What jumps out at you?  A season, a type of location, a color?  Save pictures in a notebook, write notes-especially about the emotions the photos evoke.  Have fun, dream a little.

Keep your eyes open for inspiration, it can be anywhere.  Save color chips, fabric swatches and photos; it will help you keep organized and inspired.  Don't be afraid to have fun and be creative.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Welcome to Witchy Weddings

Congratulations on you upcoming wedding!

Weddings are personal and public at the same time.  There exists a variety traditions- religious and cultural, that as a bride or groom, you will need to wade through, make decisions about and implement.  We're here to help, with suggestions, advice and sometimes humorous stories of the excitement of weddings and wedding planning.

Stay tuned for lots of info!