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The days of candied almond favours have passed us by and couples are now opting for more useful gifts as bomboniere.

Some emerging trends include incorporating greenery, such as mini-terrariums or even flower bars where guests can select their own bunch of blooms to take home.

Another bomboniere trend that is very popular is a donation, where the newlyweds give a contribution to a charity that is dear to their hearts in the name of each of their guests.

But if you prefer to give a physical gift, going for something practical means the mementos of your wedding day won’t sit on a bookshelf collecting dust.

It also means you can lean towards something more gender neutral to give something everyone can enjoy. Here are the top bomboniere trends for 2017.

Candles make amazing mood-setters for evening receptions and they can also make wonderful bomboniere gifts.

You can go with something simple that has a favourite scent of yours, or go for candles that have been made in stylish jars that match your theme.

Little cards with your names and wedding date attached to the lids are the only finishing touch needed and when guests light them at home, they will remember the memories of your big day.

They are full of character and look super cute in any jar, bowl or container you can find to match your wedding theme.

Not only that, they are hardy and will make an excellent addition to the gardens or counter tops when guests take them home.

Bright, colourful and delicious, lollies never go astray.

While we are pushing the ‘practical’ envelope here, with sweets, these are something that guests of any age or gender can enjoy.

You can create personalised labels commemorating your wedding and put them onto your favourite bottle of vino, bubbles or beer.

You can create a one-size fits all product or opt for a mix of wine and beer and allow guests to choose one from a gift table at the reception.

It will be sure to be a talking point and a gift people will remember.

So your partner has suggested it might be a good idea to write your own wedding vows and at first, you think it’s a great idea. But then, you have to actually write them! ‘Till death do us part simply isn’t going to cut it, but you are no Shakespeare or Nicholas Sparks. Romantic prose isn’t sitting on the tip of your tongue (or your pen). So what do you do?

Chances are if you were to break out in verses of ye olde English that is recognisably Shakespearean, you would probably get looks of shock and maybe even a few giggles, so looking to the master of romantic tragedies probably isn’t your answer (you do want a happily ever after, after all!)

First things first, it’s best to set the tone with your fiance and see what they had in mind. Are you going for light-hearted and funny? Or more heart-melting and romantic? Will you be writing them together? Or surprising one another with them on the wedding day?

If you need a third party to look at each of the vows and suggest some changes so that they align a little bit better, (to avoid one of you joking around while the other is more serious and traditional) you could ask your celebrant to read each of your vows and give a few tips. They have heard many amazing wedding ceremonies and tend to be amazing wordsmiths.

Once you have these finer point finalised, it’s time to start getting inspired – something even the most seasoned writers can struggle with.

Here are some writing tips to help you get the creative juices flowing and help you write unforgettable wedding vows:

Start early

This is the most important tip, because rushed vows will not work for anyone. You will need time to dedicate to this, even if it is 10 minutes here or there over a few weeks, so you can capture the essence of what you want to say in an eloquent way. Don’t leave your vows to the last minute unless you are creative and very confident! Keep an eye on your to-do list to keep on track.

Read

Any writer will tell you that reading helps you unlock a world of possibilities when it comes to writing your own pieces, in this case vows. If you are religious, read the traditional vows and see if anything resonates with you. There is no harm in using this to inspire the words you use or the promises you hope to make in your vows. If you have bridal magazines around, you can flip through them to see the words that pop out for you and if your partner has a favourite author or movie they love, you can use some language from there to really personalise it for them.

Make notes

As you read or inspiration strikes, make notes somewhere safe so you know where to find them when the time comes to write. Ask yourself questions about your partner and your relationship, like when did you realise you were in love with them? Why did you decide to get married and what you see your future together looking like. Write down the answers to all of these questions, and others that pop into your mind, and then you have already created the bones of your vows.

Visit memory lane

While you are in the note phase, take some time to think back to how you first felt when you met your partner and what it was about them that was so attractive to you. It could be the way they had a ready smile, or that they always took the time to see how you were doing, or knew when you were having a bad day without you having to communicate it and knew how to make you feel better. These are the things about your relationship that are unique and putting them into your vows will make them unlike any others.

Think of commitments you want to make

Making promises is the core of what vows are all about, so you can think in broad terms or more personally with what you want to say to your partner. Things like ‘I will always love and support you’ fall into the broad category, while ‘I promise to always offer you a bite of my dessert’ falls into the latter and will often mean the most to your partner. You will hit the jackpot if you can find a good balance between broad promises and personalised ones.

Get writing

With your notes on hand and some promises in mind, you can start writing. Don’t be fixated on getting it right the first time. Because you have allowed enough time, (you followed tip one didn’t you?) you will have the ability to revisit this draft and make changes until it flows the way you want to. You can write your vows in a narrative style, starting with when you first met, when you fell in love and what you hope for your future together, or you can express your love, tell your partner what you love the most about them, make your promises and finish off with your broad vow.

Steer clear of clichés

While you have read far and wide and drawn inspiration from all over the place, make sure your vows are written in your own style and sound like something you would say. If you read your draft and see cliches screaming out at you, rethink of ways to convey the same message in words you would use every day.

Edit

If you go through your draft and see that it’s much too long, or you have repeated yourself a couple of times, get the metaphorical scissors out and cut, cut, cut. Hold on tight to the bits that flow nicely and best communicate what you want to say and take out or rework everything that doesn’t. If you have to do this a few times over a few weeks, not to worry, you will end up with much more succinct vows that truly express how you feel by the end of it. There are no hard and fast rules, but try not to let your vows run for more than two minutes. If you are really stuck with how to improve or what to lose if you need to shorten them, ask a close friend for help.

Read them out loud

It might feel like practicing for a school assessment all over again, but there are a lot of benefits to physically reading your vows out. It will give you an idea on how much time it will take to deliver them and also help you to gauge the flow of what you have written. If you can’t wrap your tongue around a particular sentence, or it doesn’t sound quite right, you will know right away and can make the changes you need to.

Good luck, and happy planning!

HOW TO WRITE UNFORGETTABLE WEDDING VOWS

bridesmaids

Neiyo Photography

Being offered a place on a friend or sibling’s bridal party is such a great honour and at the outset, seems like a lot of fun. But while helping to plan a wedding can be an adventure, every adventure has bumps along the way – here are some tips to help you avoid being one of them.

DO – Plan a fabulous bachelorette party

Bridesmaids are expected to help the maid of honor in planning and paying for the bachelorette party.

This can be held anywhere from three to six weeks out, right up until the weekend before the big day.

Make sure you plan something that is fun and will suit the personality of the bride.

DON’T – Accept the role unless you are completely invested

Being a bridesmaid can mean several months of helping your friends or sibling through what can be a very stressful time.

There might be tears, there will be many triumphs, but when you say yes, you are agreeing to be there through all of it.

You might be expected to help out with dress shopping, fittings, invitation making or posting and other projects depending on how much DIY the bride is planning to do.

DO – Expect to fork out some cash

Bring a bridesmaid often doesn’t come cheap.

On top of traditionally pooling funds with the other bridesmaids to fund the bachelorette party, you might also have to cover the cost of your dress, and/or hair and make up and maybe even a night or two of accommodation to be on hand to help the bride before her big day.

If you live interstate or overseas, you will have to add flights into the mix as well.

DON’T – Argue about dresses

The bride might have a very clear picture in her mind of what she would like you to wear and although it might not be something you would usually pick for yourself, you need to grin and bear it – especially if she is footing the bill.

Almost the only time you can object to a dress is if you are being expected to pay and simply cannot afford to buy the dress if the bride has chosen something ultra-expensive. In this case, simply politely ask if she would consider a less costly option.

Remember that at the end of the day, the wedding is supposed to be about the bride and what she wants – not your personal style preferences.

bridesmaid do's dont's

DO – Understand your duties

Different brides have different expectations.

It pays to understand early on what the bride would like you to help with and make a note of the dates you’ll need to be available.

It’s also a good idea to find out if the bride will want you to take an active role in assisting with planning, or simply to help out when she gets too busy to do things herself.

DON’T – Dramatically change your look

Thinking about dying your hair or getting a tattoo in a prominent place on your body?

Wait until after the wedding is over.

Even if the bride okays your new look, there is a chance she might just be agreeing with you so she’s not holding you back.

It wouldn’t hurt to wait another few months.

DO – Provide emotional support

Because there is so much excitement and anticipation surrounding a wedding, it can become an emotional roller coaster ride for all involved – especially the bride.

She might have moments of stress, great elation and possibly even cold feet – all of it rolled into a few short months.

It is important for her to know that she has you by her side to be a shoulder to lean on and someone she can vent to in order to alleviate the burden.

DON’T – Go overboard with advice

If she asks you along, go with the bride to help her pick out the perfect dress, flowers and decorations for the ceremony and reception, but don’t offer unsolicited advice, especially if it contradicts the style or items that the bride has chosen.

Not only will this be upsetting for her, but it has the potential to cause tension between you in the lead up to the wedding.

Find the right balance and you will all have a memorable time leading up to a day you will be proud to have been a part of.

What’s great about weddings now is that there are no hard and fast rules as to what you should and shouldn’t do – and walking down the aisle is no exception. Here are some aisle alternatives that you’ll love.

Giving away

Choosing someone to walk you down the aisle can be an emotionally-charged decision, especially if a parent has died, you were raised by someone other than your parents or you simply don’t have a relationship with your parents.

Similarly, if your parents were divorced and re-married when you were young, you might find yourself with a choice of two potential ‘fathers’  hoping to be chosen.

It is important to remember that at the end of the day, you will be married to the one you love and once the day is over, it will no longer seem so relevant who walked you to get there.

That said, if you want to consider other alternatives to the traditional father give-away, you could ask your mum, grandparent, sibling, best friend or even take your pet with you.

To open up your horizons, you can start to think about the ritual as being a person of support rather than someone who is giving you away.

Take your love instead

If you choose to forego the third party accompaniment, a lot of couples are also choosing to walk down the aisle together, arm in arm, to signify that they are starting this new journey together as equals.

Alternatives to this include walking down the aisle one after the other, or meeting your partner halfway down the aisle and walking the remainder together.

But if the very thought of walking down any sort of aisle give you the chills, there are alternatives for that as well.

Change the shape

Circle ceremonies are becoming more and more popular.

Here, there ceremony is designed with seating in a circle or spiral, so you and your partner can walk through the spiral to get to the center, where you will be married.

It’s one of the aisle alternatives that has become popular because this way, all guests find it easier to see the ceremony and it creates a more intimate setting.

Alternatively, you can have guests gather in a circle and leave two spots for you and your partner, which you will fill when the ceremony starts.

It really creates a community feel for your wedding, but won’t work too well if you are expecting hundreds of guests.

aisle alternatives

Image: India Earl

Backstage

Another aisle alternative is to keep the ceremony space closed off and out of view of guests so you,  your partner, and wedding party can be at the front of the ceremony space.

When the guests enter the room, they become the ones to walk down the aisle to join you and your partner.

Bridal party walk

In the spirit of togetherness, why not get everyone to make the walk together?

You can start a line close to the ceremony space and walk in together, with the wedding party at the front.

The guests can either then take seats or gather in a group around the couple.

There are plenty of options and creative ways that you can do away with the aisle walk if you don’t feel like it’s something that suits your personality or the style of wedding you wish to have.

aisle alternatives

major mistakes guests might make

Image: Milenko Weddings

Even if you have never been to a wedding before planning your own big day, you quickly learn the ins and outs of wedding etiquette. Unfortunately, some of your guests may not be as brushed up on the subject and faux pas, both intentional and unintentional, can happen.

We have pulled together a list of some of most common major mistakes wedding guests might make and give some advice on how to calmly deal with them.

Wedding crashers

If you are marrying at a venue that hosts multiple parties in one night, there is a small potential for cheeky wedding wanderers.

Not all of these stories have the happy ending of the movie Wedding Crashers, some can just be a royal pain, especially when they start helping themselves to your food and drinks.

If you notice a few unfamiliar faces in the crowd and your partner has confirmed it’s not their great uncle Charlie twice removed, you can discreetly ask for the site manager or other attendant to escort them out and ensure they get to the right function.

Not listing food allergies

If you are providing catering or a sit-down dinner as part of your wedding, make sure you prompt guests to let you know if they have any allergies or dietary requirements.

Guests have often forgotten about this, only to complain they are allergic to fish when a salmon dish is placed in front of them at the reception.

Make a note of it somewhere on your invitation or RSVP card so they can let you know well ahead of time.

Wearing white or black

While some brides don’t care about what their guests wear, others have been looking forward to being the stand-out in the gorgeous white gown for ages.

Traditionally guests should never wear white because it is, after all, the bride’s colour.

Black is also traditionally off the table, because it’s associated with funerals.

As a rule, you should just avoid both of those colours, unless they are the base colour for a print on a very non bride-like garment.

major mistakes guests

Broadcasting the wedding on social media

With every moment of people’s lives being posted on social media for the world to see, it’s no doubt guests will want to tweet, Facebook or Instagram about your wedding.

You may even want to make a note on your wedding website to encourage guests to refrain from posting public comments about the wedding, as they may unknowingly offend others who you were not able to invite.

You could also consider creating a private facebook event where people can post to their heart’s content and ask questions about the big day.

Also, to keep guests off their phones during the big day – particularly the ceremony – you could ask your celebrant to remind them there are professionals who are there to capture the moment, so there is no need for them to be snapping on their mobiles.

Constant calling

When guests are travelling from out of town to attend your wedding, they may unwittingly start  treating you like their personal travel agent and bombard you with questions on everything from where to rent a car, to where to stay and what attractions or locations they should visit while they are in town.

You can prevent this by creating a wedding website, where you can include links to nearby hotels, entertainment options and also driving directions.

If there are some technophobes among your guests, you can consider giving them some time over the phone, or printing out some of the material on your website to send to them via snail mail.

Showing up late

Sometimes no matter how hard someone tries, they always end up being late.

But this is really unacceptable for a wedding, where the only person given a green card for lateness is the bride.

If you have friends or family who are notorious for being less than punctual, allow yourself a buffer by saying the ceremony begins at 5.30pm and then planning to make your entrance 15 minutes after that.

For those who are really pushing the envelope and have turned up as the bridal music cues, have someone stationed at the back of the ceremony to help latecomers quickly and quietly find a seat.

major mistakes guests make

Not Sending RSVPs

The number of guests at your wedding is a critical part of planning elements from ceremony seating, table plans, catering and bomboniere, but some guests may fail to see the importance of a punctual response to your invitation.

Seeing the RSVP cards with the invitation (if this is the road you choose to take) may even make them think it’s a novelty rather than a necessity.

To deal with potentially late RSVPs, it’s a good idea to set their due date a week or two before the moment when vendors will need definite numbers.

You might also want to consider putting your mobile number on it as a quick and easy way for people to RSVP. It is much easier to type out a text than to write on the card, find an envelope and head to the post office to buy a stamp and send it back.

You could also place the RSVP a couple of weeks out from when you actually mail them, so guests will feel compelled to reply right away.

On the due date, you can send an email out a private email to the stragglers giving them a new deadline of about 48 hours. Keep the tone nice, but firm, and if they fail to meet that deadline, pick up the phone and give them a call to lock in a definite answer.

Sending RSVPs… with a plus one

This guest has returned their RSVP in time, but have taken it upon themselves to invite a new love or to bring a child along as well.

While you’d love to them to come, it puts everyone in an awkward position, especially if you don’t know this plus-one from a bar of soap.

If your venue or finances don’t allow you to stretch the guest list out by one more person, this is best handled the old-fashioned way. Pick up the phone and call them to explain the circumstances.

All you have to do is politely explain the need for a strict guest list and most guests will understand.

To avoid this from happening, make sure you address the invitation accurately. Instead of the “Jones Family”, write “Sally Jones”, and let your parents, the wedding party and other close relatives and friends know about the tight guest list so they can let others know if anyone asks.

RSVPing – then not showing

It is the height of rudeness to RSVP “Yes” and then simply not turn up. But it does happen.

If you unexpectedly can’t make a wedding, protocol is generally to call the hosts right away to apologize profusely and explain your circumstances. And of course, be sure to send a wedding gift.

This is the ideal situation as the couple will have time to plan ahead.

But if it’s your wedding day and you realise that you have no-shows, let your caterer or wedding coordinator know ASAP and they may be able to re-jig seating plans or simply remove a chair and setting to avoid any embarrassing gaps.

You can contact the ghost guest after the wedding to see, first of all, if they are alright and then to express your disappointment that they didn’t bother to turn up if they weren’t dealing with an illness or emergency.

major mistakes guests

Giving unexpected toasts

Toasts can be emotionally moving and allow some of your nearest and dearest to share unique memories they have made with you and/or your new spouse.

But those you would like to give toasts are often planned in advance so they have time to prepare something they think will communicate the right message to the newlyweds.

The same can’t be said for someone who decides, on the spur of the moment (perhaps with a few too many drinks under the belt) that they would also like to say a few words.

Many a cringe-worthy toast has been off-the-cuff and you don’t want this to happen to you.

The solution is simple, let your DJ or MC know who is going to be giving toasts on the day and don’t allow them to hand the mic over to anyone else.

If the worst happens and the guest manages to get hold of the mic, gesture to the DJ to carefully start the next song or cut power to the mic.

Buying a non-registry gift

Some guests feel that buying a present from the registry is impersonal.

They might then go out to buy you something that is a little more… original, shall we say.

While this can lead to a pleasant surprise for you, it can also leave you with a gift you will never use. To avoid this, be sure to list your registry and wishing well  options on your wedding website and invitations.

But should you receive an interesting gift from Aunty Janice and Uncle Chris, there is only one way to deal with it. Thank them with a heartfelt card expressing your gratitude for them taking a more personalised approach to their gift.

After all, while gifts have come to be expected at weddings, they are most definitely not a requirement of attendance.

Drinking Too Much

It can happen to anyone. Mix a jovial atmosphere with an open bar and suddenly a guest has gone from having the time of their lives to a blubbering mess.

While you can’t limit the number of drinks each guest consumes, you can grant the bartender permission to cut off anyone that’s had one too many.

You can also make sure there is plenty of water on the tables and enough food to help soak up the alcohol.

If you are at any stage worried about the safety of your guest or think they might try to drive home, get someone to call a taxi for them and make sure they get into it.

mistakes guests might make