Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Make a Wedding Affordable

By Tammy Paquin

Photo from: freedigitalphotos.net

I was looking over some information about articles I've submitted and noticed that one of the phrases searched that brought up some of them was, "marriage ceremony when you can't get married because of finances." We also have some new friends who are talking about how they can't get married right now because they can't afford a wedding. It made me think that sometimes, young couples don't really understand the difference between the wedding and the marriage so I decided to throw out my two cents on the subject.

First things first, a wedding is the ceremony. It's the vows you take BEFORE the marriage starts. Marriage is the ever after, the part that is most important. It's the rest of your lives together, going through the sickness and health, the ups and downs, the good and bad and everything in between. How you're going to handle all of that together is more important than the wedding itself, but I'm always amazed at how many couples spend months or years to plan the wedding but end up divorced in two years because they never discussed the MARRIAGE! They've had their $25,000 dream wedding, still owe on it and are seeking out a divorce lawyer!

That said, if you truly love one another and are prepared for marriage, then truly, you should get married. You shouldn't put off the marriage because you can't afford the wedding. I know it's hard to wrap your head around this, but this big, spectaular wedding isn't something you MUST have. It's a desire, a want, not a NEED. Living together for five years because you can't afford the wedding isn't a mature attitude. If you really wanted to be married, you'd realized the difference between the marriage and the wedding. I know this sounds harsh. Don't shoot me yet. I'm not saying you have to give up all of your wedding dreams. I'm just saying to be a realist about them.

Something that irks me to no end is the statement made by some that "courtesy dictates" or custom dictates." Okay, nothing gets me riled up more than the word "dictate." Does that mean you HAVE to do something? You're being forced against your will to do something? If "dictate" is paying the tab on the pricey affair, then so be it; but if YOU are paying the tab, and you don't want to start out your marriage in debt because of your wedding, then by all means, kick "dictate" out of the picture and do what you can afford!

First, discuss what's important to both of you for the wedding. Is it a church ceremony? Is it the long, cathedral-length gown? Is it getting all of your friends and relations together for the event? Make a list of the "must haves" and the "can do without" items. Once you have that, it's easier to find ways to accomplish your desires AND do it inexpensively.

Wedding gown - Truthfully, the gown was one of MY most important things. I imagined myself in the cathedral-length gown. I seriously shopped! I quickly found that I didn't look better in the $3,000 raw silk gown versus the $650 gown! Shocking, huh? Now, even $650 is a lot. I was recently shopping in a thrift store and found a BRAND NEW, raw silk, cathedral-length wedding gown with labels STILL ON for $50! I'm still kicking myself for not buying the dress just for the fabric (I'm a quitter). Sometimes, I kick myself for not shopping for my wedding gown at thrift stores. I always figured them for out-of-date styles, but that's far from true. In addition, the long trains are great for showy weddings and for when the pictures are taken, but if you're trimming expenses, then think more on a shorter style or floor-length, which are generally much less. Remember that NO ONE has to know that your dress was a thrift store find, off the floor sale or borrowed from a friend! All they'll know is that you look beautiful, radiant and happy in it!

Church wedding - Generally, it's not the church that is the biggest expense, especially if you're a member of that church. What IS expensive about the church weddings are the flowers, the pew decorations, the cathedral length gown and all of that stuff. Being married in our church with a Mass was very important to us. Being married in the presence of our friends and family was important to us! The total cost of the church and small donation was $175. I made simple pew bows for about $100. The church was already decorated for the fall season, and we chose not to add any more flowers. We could have paid the church organist about another $100 to play the music, but I had opted for a string quartet of our choosing which cost us $500 (having a friend handle recorded music would have cost us nothing). We could have had the entire church wedding for $175 if we had chosen though. Remember, God will be present with you as join in holy matrimony no matter where you choose to exchange your vows and no matter how you choose to decorate (or not decorate).

The photographs - Yep, BIG, BIG EXPENSE! I've seen wedding packages run into the thousands and thousands. I had friends who wanted to be married and were willing to do whatever was needed to have a a wedding but keep the cost to the absolute minimum. They decided to forego a formal wedding photographer and asked that friends take pictures to share with them. As their wedding gift to them, I offered to take more formal pictures for them. I took the time to help them set up shots after the ceremony, and they made sure to have pictures with anyone they wanted and have any pose they wanted. I developed the initial pictures as my gift and gave them everything in archival albums (negatives included, which in general, professional photographers won't give you). They were THRILLED! So, as you can see, if you have a friend who is respectable with a good camera, you might ask them to photograph for you as a wedding gift. I definitely agree that capturing the moment is important, but capturing for free or nearly free is MUCH better than capturing for thousands.

Reception - Okay, this is one of the biggest expenses by far. If you can have your church wedding, and then after the ceremony, use the church banquet hall for a buffet of sandwiches, salads, cake and punch, and THAT is what you can afford, then so be it! Some will tell you that you have to have a sit-down meal. Go back to what I think about "dictate."

The bottom line is that having the dream to start your marriage surrounded by friends and family doesn't have to be an expensive affair  A stylish, tasteful and beautiful wedding can be created from almost any budget. It does require a bit more effort and time on your part, but it also means really discussing what is important to both of you and setting priorities, which honestly, is a great way to start a lifetime together.

Tammy Paquin is a work-from-home mom of three boys and the owner and publisher of Frugal-Families, an online resource for frugality, finances, budgeting and everything else related to stretching the dollar. For more ways to stretch your income so you can afford the wedding of your dreams, visit Frugal-Families.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 Things to Consider When Booking a DJ For Your Event

Photo from: freedigitalphotos.net

Choosing a DJ for your event can be difficult. You want the right kind of music and ambiance. The music is the major factor, which sets the mood for your event. To ensure that you choose correctly, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Source your list of potential DJs. It is best to get a list of potential candidates from people you know and other events you have attended. The venue may also be able to help with this list.
  2. Meet them in person. This will give you an idea of their professionalism and music tastes. It will also give you an opportunity to discuss the theme and genre of music you prefer.
  3. Request testimonials. An experienced DJ will be able to provide you with many names of parties or events they've worked at.
  4. Request their song selection. This is important as you want a DJ with a larger selection of songs so they can handle requests on the night of the event. 
  5. Ask the DJ if he or she has played at your venue before; it is essential that the DJ is familiar with the venues and the sound restrictions they may have.
  6. Check whether the DJ has the appropriate sound equipment for your event. Most professional DJs own their equipment and can cater to the size of the venue.
  7. Inquire about lighting and stage effects. Most professional event DJs will be able to provide these.
  8. Once you have short listed your candidates, attend an event at which your DJ is playing to gauge their professionalism.
  9. Provide the event DJ with a list of your expectations, such as time of the event, event itinerary, the location and set up time.
  10. Have a contract in place to document your negotiation and to avoid miscommunication on the night.

The perfect event DJ will be flexible and able to read the energy of your event or party. A good DJ will take requests from the crowd and also be able to change the music up if the energy is low. It is the event DJs responsibility to keep the party or event fun, lively and everyone on the dance floor.

For more information, visit www.nusuevents.com.au

Nariman Taweel is an accomplished trainer and entrepreneur. To view more articles on events and event planning, visit www.nusuevents.com.au.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Tame Your Wedding Guest list

When it comes to your guest list, most of the time, your budget doesn't match your wish list. Translation: You can't invite everyone. So, whether you want a small wedding and your mom wants to invite everyone you've ever met, here are tips for taking it one step at a time and creating a list that everyone can happily live with:

Getting started. If you haven't already, determine the general size of the wedding you want. Do you want the biggest party you can possibly have, or do you envision a more intimate event where you can spend time with each guest? Next, you'll want to think about your budget for the reception; most couples plan their guest list around these very important numbers.

Choosing the type of setting you prefer will affect how long your guest list is. For instance, if you're thinking about your not-so-grand childhood home, those 250 guests may be sitting on top of one another (and breach fire regulations). On the other hand, if you're considering a huge space, like a ballroom in a mansion, you want your group to be large enough that the space feels full.

Now you might be wondering which step should come first. Well, since each factor influences the other, you have to consider lots of things simultaneously (multitasking anyone?) Once you've made a decision, find your inner peacemaker, and you'll be good to go.

Continue reading here >>

[Photo Credit]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime

by Rob Scuka, Ph.D.

The engagement parties, the wedding showers, the big day itself and the honeymoon have all come and gone. They were wonderful, the memories are still fresh, and you want to keep the delight alive as long as you can.

You've heard that relationships change over time, that challenges will present themselves and that the "spark" won't last forever. Part of you knows that all that is true. But you are determined not to let that happen. Here's a recipe for how you can keep your relationship glowing in the first few years of marriage -- and beyond.

Commit to yourself that you will never take your relationship for granted. It's all too easy in the hurly-burly of everyday life, to get caught up in the externals of life such as work, household chores, television and the Internet. Even family and friends can draw attention away from your spouse.

Marriage entails making adjustments, and changing ingrained patterns of behavior can be challenging. A lot of the challenge is about finding the right balance: the balance between together time and alone time, between couple time and time with family and friends, between work and play, between fun time and down time. Finding the right balance often involves setting boundaries, establishing priorities and making commitments that will increase the odds that certain things actually happen.

You may be wondering: Does this leave any room for spontaneity, or do we have to so regiment our married life together that all the fun gets squeezed out of it? There's a challenge there, too: Over-regimenting one's life can be as non-nurturing of your relationship as taking an approach that is too laid back and unstructured.

So here are some concrete steps that will keep your relationship vibrant.

First, commit to scheduling a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes each day where you sit down with one another just to touch base. A wonderful way to begin this daily check-in time is to share a 'partner appreciation' with each other. A 'partner appreciation' is something you like or admire about your spouse or something that you appreciate that he or she did. Then you can share how your day went, how you're feeling at the moment or small points that you'd like to catch up on. However, this is not a time for complaints or big issues. Keep it positive.

Second, engage in mutual physical touch each day. This may sound like a no-brainer and the last thing that you would ever have to think about. "We touch one another all the time!" you might be saying to yourself. Over time, however  anything that initially may have been fresh and spontaneous runs the risk of becoming overly familiar and even routine. At that point, you may start paying less attention to one another's physical needs and what once seemed so natural and spontaneous begins to fall by the wayside. The antidote is to bring active awareness to engaging each other in physical touch so that it remains fresh in the moment.

Third, do something fun at least once each week. Yes, you are probably having lots of fun most of the time at this point in your marriage. But beware of the gradual creep of those external pressures such as work, friends, family or volunteer commitments that can begin to push having fun into the background.

Fourth, structure into your schedule a weekly dialogue time where you sit down together for an extended conversation about a significant issue, a potential or real problem area or even ways to enhance your relationship. The key to a successful dialogue is to follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Only one person talks at a time and the other person does not interrupt.
  • The person who is talking shares his or her feelings, concerns and desires regarding the issue at hand. 
  • The other person tunes in emphatically, listens intently, then verbally acknowledges what the other person has shared. This is to be done without adding any commentary from your own point of view, but do try to "read between the lines" to identify what is implied in what your partner has shared.
  • Repeat, perhaps several times, with each person remaining in the same role.
  • Change roles so that the other person has a chance to express his or her feelings, concerns and desires about the issue at hand. It is helpful for the new person expressing to begin by saying what makes sense to you about what your partner has shared. 
  • The partner's job now is to tune in emphatically, listen intently and verbally acknowledge what the other person has shared.
  • Repeat, and go back and forth as long as necessary until both of you feel well understood.
  • When appropriate, aim to come up with a solution that leaves both of you feeling that your concerns and desires have been taken into account, creating a win-win solution. The "secret" here is to commit yourselves to meeting your spouse's needs as much as your own.
This leads to one final recommendation: If you have not already done so, attend a marriage education seminar in order to learn how to communicate and dialogue more effectively. This, in turn, will enable you to deal with the inevitable issues that come up in any marriage in a manner that minimizes hurt feelings and disappointment and maximizes the satisfaction of being able to deal with issues in a constructive and respectful manner.

Repeat liberally every few years, and reap the rewards of a relationship that renews itself through a mutual commitment to enhancing your relationship.

Rob Scuka, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the National Insititute of Relationship Enhancement in Bethesda, Maryland and author of Relationship Enhancement Therapy: Healing Through Deep Empathy and Intimate Dialogue (Routledge, 2005). Information about the Relationship Enhancement Program and places where it is offered nationwide can be found at www.nire.org. Additionally information about Rob Scuka can be found at www.robscuka.com 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

3 Ways to Entertain Your Wedding Guests

While it may be your big day, you want your guests to have a great time, too. Here's how you can keep the party going:

1. Take them for a ride. Transport your guests from the ceremony to the reception tourist-style. You can hire a local tour company to pick everybody up and give them a brief tour of the area as they head to the reception venue. Want to skip a formal tour? Give them a spontaneous one as you "joyride" between events. Look for a trolley or ferry that can hold all your guests, and treat them to a free ride.

2. DIY Photo Booth. Instead of doing a traditional photo booth, put a unique spin on it. Create your own backdrop, props or gag items to make a theme for the booth. It's simple, and the possibilities are endless.

3. Try wine-tasting stations. Instead of having a signature cocktail, host a beer or wine tasting. Present the top picks from the bride and groom to make it personal; and to add authenticity, bring in a sommelier to introduce the wine and explain to guests how to properly cleanse their palate. An added bonus: Give your guests monogrammed wine bottle holders as favors.

For five more ideas, check out our source, 8 Ways to Entertain Your Wedding Guests.

[Photo Credit]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

7 Reasons for Forgiveness in Marriage Leading to a Lasting Relationship

By Ngozi Nwoke

"There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness." - Josh Billings. Lack of forgiveness in marriage has led to many separations and divorces. A lasting relationship demands that the couple learn the act of forgiveness. To forgive may not be the easiest thing to do but it certainly is the wisest thing to do.

Forgiveness is one of the pillars of a successful marriage. Understanding the power of forgiveness will empower you to face and conquer any challenge that comes your way in marriage.

Reasons for forgiveness in marriage:

1. Love. "'Tis the most tender part of love, each other to forgive." - John Sheffield. If you really love your spouse, you will forgive him or her. It is difficult for people to forgive when the love is not there or is waning down. Yes, some circumstances can be very trying, but love will surely conquer. For instance, God shows and clearly proves His (own) love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us - (Romans 5:8, AMP)

2. Reciprocation. You are also liable to err, too. You are to do to people (including your spouse) what you would want them to do to you. You may say that you will never do what he/she did, but what if you do the one thing that he/she will never do? That is why Christ said in Luke 6:37, "judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned; forgive, and you shall be forgiven." For every successful marriage, the act of forgiveness must be applied.

3. Gift to yourself. "It really doesn't matter if the person who hurt you deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You have things to do and you want to move on." Real Live Preacher. When you are holding your spouse down in your heart in un-forgiveness, you are also holding yourself down. You are hindering your own progress. Let go and move on. To enjoy your marital blessings, you need to walk in forgiveness in marriage.

4. Evidence of maturity and strength. Marriage is not for boys and girls but for men and women. It takes being matured spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically to be able to forgive your spouse and enjoy a successful marriage. It takes maturity for you to think beyond your hurt feelings and work towards a lasting relationship. And as Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." So, if I may ask, where do you fall, weak or strong?

5. To avoid consequences of un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness is a force that has the power to influence, affect or control you and your future negatively. This force is so deadly that it has ruined many marriages, relationships, careers, businesses, led many to their sick beds and many to their early graves. This deadly force drains your energy, wastes your time for more profitable ventures. My friend, don't give yourself the stress for something that is not worth it. Instead, as King Solomon said in Song of Solomon 2:15 (KJV), "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes," so also you should remove the little fox of un-forgiveness from your marital life.

6. Family role modelling. The wise man teaches in Proverbs 22:6 that we should train up a should in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. It is wisdom to apply the act of forgiveness in your relationship with your spouse for the sake of your children. They will grow to do exactly what they learned from you. Forgiveness in marriage is a seed you sow also in the lives of your little ones. It will grow to produce the same in their marital lives. Your children's future is worth all the effort you invest in securing a successful marriage.

7. Lasting relationship. Couples don't get married with the intention to jump out of the relationship shortly after exchanging vows. It is the irrational and uninformed reaction to challenges (like offenses) that lead to broken marriages. Understanding and employing the power of forgiveness will strengthen any marriage and keep it far from thoughts of divorce or separation.

A lasting relationship demands the engagement of the power of forgiveness for it to work. The thought of forgiving your spouse may not be a palatable idea, but learning how to forgive and acting on it will pay you now and in the years to come. Many marriages have been saved from going through a divorce or separation by the application of forgiveness. Yours can be next.

Ngozi Nwoke is a teacher and a couselor, a product and distributor of love. She has a passion to teach people how to enjoy God's love and fellowship for a more fulfilling life? Want a more fulfilling life? Subscribe for free email updates today: StepsWithGod.com.

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just Engaged? Here's What to Do First

Did you get engaged over the holiday season? If so, congratulations! Here are a few things you need to do first:

Call the important people. Share your big and exciting news with your inner circle before you let Facebook and Twitter know. It's not okay for your manicurist to find out before your Grandmother.

Enjoy the moment. Yes, being engaged means you can now plan the wedding of your dreams; it also means that you just decided to spend the rest of your life with your soul mate. So, take some time (a couple of weeks) to relish in how romantic and awesome that is before you begin the craziness of planning.

Begin dreaming. Here comes the fun part! (for most people). Compare your fantasies with each other, then sign up for Pinterest; that way, you can create an online inspiration board. At this point, feel free to go crazy. You can go back and refine things after picking your venue.

Whip out your calendar. Have a range of pontential dates in mind before touring venues. Also, think about what season you envision and where you want to honeymoon; knowing this will help guide you toward your ideal time of year. Another tip: Ask other engaged friends when they're tying the knot so you can stay away from those dates.

Need more tips? Check out our source.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

5 Ideas to Help Sell Out Your Events

By Jim Romanik

Unless attendance at an event is mandatory, getting people to register comes down to sales. You, as the event planner, need to convince the event participants that attending your event is the best use of their time and money. Even if your event is free and intended to be fun such as a Christmas party, you still need to show people that attending your event is better than anything else that they could be doing.

For some events, the promotional material (mailers, emails, etc.) will list the benefits and do a good job of communicating the value of an event to prospective attendees. This will help get people to the registration form, but the sale isn't closed until they click the submit button.

Here are five tips to keep in mind for your promotional material and your registration forms to help you get the sale.

1. Clearly state the benefits of attending. Clearly stating how people will benefit by attending your event is one of the best ways to encourage people to register. Make your benefit statements descriptive and put them in terms that prospective event participants can relate to. Here are two examples:

- "When you leave this event, you will have ten new strategies for motivating your staff that will result in less turnover."

- "In this workshop, you will learn the real difference between software A and B, so you can make the right decision for your business and avoid a buying mistake that will cost you time and money.

2. Use a good title. Most event titles are similar to "2006 Annual Convention." This tells you what it is but doesn't really catch your attention. Try adding a benefit or other interest-grabbing words to the title such as the one below:
2006 Annual Convention - See the new industry technology that will keep you competitive.

3. Clearly state what the price includes. Everyone perceives differently. Some may say it's too high, while other people will pay it and not complain. Itemizing what your event includes will help to show people who think it's too high the value of what they will receive. Outline items such as speaking events and the number of instructional hours, to meals and conference materials.

4. Talk about the food. Everyone likes a good dinner and most conventions have several meal functions and usually a final banquet.

Rather than listing the meals as "Monday Lunch" or "Dinner and Awards Banquet" create some anticipation around the event by giving more details such as the dinner options, what is for dessert, how fresh the ingredients will be, how many awards the chef has won, etc.

5. Use testimonials. Testimonials from previous events can be a powerful motivator. Make sure the testimonials you use are descriptive and demonstrate how the person benefited by attending the event.

Jim Romanik is the founder of ePly Online Event Registration Software. "We are online registration experts and treat your reputation as our own to build registration forms that help your events succeed and make people wonder how you did it. Download our free guide What Every Event Planner Should Know About Online Event Registration at www.eply.com/lp/articles.html."