Thursday, July 9, 2009


You’ve found the perfect person. Congratulations. Now you have to plan the perfect wedding. Best of luck.

For many people wedding planning can be a daunting task. If only it was as easy as falling in love. The months-in-advance planning, the organizing and the cost can be overwhelming (not to mention the task of trying to get relatives who haven’t spoken in years to be mutually civil.) Without professional help coordinating your dream wedding can easily turn into a nightmare.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Luckily, we here in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts have loads of resources and local advantages. For one thing, we have striking outdoor settings that lend themselves to picturesque weddings. For another, we have seasoned professionals with years of experience who know how to make wedding dreams come true.

“In 2009 weddings will continue to be more elaborate and at the same time less formal. The trend is toward more casual events with a focus on insuring that everyone has a good time” says Dan Chase, owner of Chase canopy and President of the Massachusetts Rental Association.

With outdoor weddings becoming increasingly popular a reliable and experienced tent company is a crucial. People want to relax and enjoy the day, they don’t want to worry about the logistics of the tent-which are considerable. Beginning with on-site inspections (is the ground flat? are there wires overhead? is there a nearby power source?) they don’t end until well after the last guest leaves the reception.

Chase Canopy is looking ahead and anticipating a future of centralized regulations governing how, when, and where tents can be used. Tents require permits-the codes and specifications vary from town to town. A reputable company will research the codes and permit requirements, insuring a trouble-free event. Chase provides 24 hour on-call service and, depending on the size of the tent, may insist on a “man-on-site” (someone who stays through the entire event.)

Chase provides everything from simple canopies to elaborate tents of 20,000 square feet and more. One bride had white wall-to-wall carpeting installed in a tent for her wedding. The most outlandish request was from women whose daughter was getting married on Nantucket. The wedding tents were set up to take advantage of a spectacular ocean view. Unfortunately fog as thick as pea soup hung around the entire day, prompting the bride’s mother to ask Chase if he could do anything to get rid of it!

“Invitations should be ordered 6 months before the wedding and sent out to guests 8 weeks prior” according to Wendy Joblin, owner of Folia Invitation and Stationery boutique in South Dartmouth, Ma. “Stationery companies differ, some take 1 week to print while others take up to 4 or even 5 weeks. If you’re going to use a calligrapher, remember that they’ll need time to address each envelope.”

Joblin predicts that 2009 is going to be the year of “really beautiful papers and ribbons.” She’s also noticed that traditional white and ivory have moved aside, making room for more color.

“Pocket invitations, where all the pieces of the invitation go in one folder, are popular now, as well as using the your new monogram” she says.

Theme’s are also very popular-with the invitation, program, cocktail napkins, menu-cards etc. all relating to each other in some way. It could be by color or by topic, for example a beach theme could have shells and starfish as decorations.

Because more and more families live further and further apart “save-the-date” cards are now commonly used. These small cards, sent as much as 9 months in advance, inform guests of the upcoming wedding. They include information about location, hotels (so reservations can be made in advance) and tell the recipient a formal invitation will follow.

“The invitation sets the tone for your wedding. Over the years I have seen them go from very plain and traditional to fun and creative. Brides should shop around for something special and different, it’s out there.” according to Joblin.

“Out is in” according to Jay Lee of Three’s Company Catering in Somerset, Ma. A backyard wedding, tent weddings, anything outdoors is big for 2009. “Outdoor venues can be more intimate and they allow the bride and groom to call all the shots, controlling the design, timing, menu and services.” They allow the couple to personalize the atmosphere of their wedding.

“There are only so many ideal dates for a Saturday in the outdoor wedding season-which runs from May to October,” says Lee.

“Book your caterer at least a year in advance and go with someone who has experience and a solid reputation.”

On the food front “buffets and food stations are in, plated dinners (like baked stuffed chicken) are out.” says Lee.
Three’s Company offers free consultation for planning, ideas and advice. They cater to the entire event-from engagement party, through the bridal shower and rehearsal dinner, to the reception.

Surprisingly, guest count isn’t as big an issue as people think, Lee’s policy is a final count 7 days prior to the wedding, which he admits is more lenient than most.

“It seems like every bride tells me that she’s still calling guests who didn’t respond to the invitation promptly.” Three’s Company has learned from experience to prepare for the unexpected “We bring extras-food, table-ware, menu items-a good caterer will be able to roll with the punches.”

Perhaps the most anticipated purchase a bride makes is her gown. How does a bride find her perfect gown? Again, experience counts.

“Make sure the Bridal salon you choose has a solid reputation.”says Pam Duffy of Wishing Well Bridal in Rumford, R.I. “It should be service oriented, have a knowledgeable sales staff and a good selection of gowns and accessories. We’ve been in the business for 50 years.”

Decide on a dress budget and then check out some bridal magazines to get an ideal of what you like. Keep in mind your overall wedding theme, your body type and your size. Clip pictures of the gowns you like best. When shopping, take someone along (a good friend, your mom) who is objective, someone you can trust with a second opinion.

Ask the salon for fit and style suggestions based on your body type, the type of wedding you’re having and your size.
According to Duffy wedding dresses run 1 to 2 sizes smaller than regular dresses, meaning if you are a size 10 you may need to order a size 12 or even 14.

With outdoors and destination weddings remaining popular, brides are demanding comfort. They want to look great and feel good too.

“We’re seeing a lot of flowing fabrics in 2009 like chiffon and organza. Fewer brides are choosing satin, which is a heavy fabric. Color is big too. Brides are choosing dresses with a colorful ribbon sash and splashes of color in the train. Strapless is still popular, but we are also seeing bold straps and unique necklines.” said Duffy.

If you plan to lose weight prior your wedding, do so before the first fitting. You will have 3-4 fittings once you choose your gown. The first will be when the gown comes in. It will focus on tailoring the gown to your body. Subsequent fittings are done to insure a perfect fit. Remember to bring your shoes (and undergarments) every time. The last fitting, done 2-3 weeks before your wedding, is to verify that all is perfect. You’ll try it on one more time, insuring that you’re comfortable with the look and feel of the gown. Make sure your dress feels good on you-you’re going to be wearing it for several hours. Walk around in it, sit down in it and practice bustling the back. Wishing Well Bridal will store your gown, allowing pick-up the day of your wedding.

Bridal salons generally give discounts if you purchase all the gowns for your wedding party through them.

“We have out-of-stock and discontinued gowns that are a real bargain for the bride on a budget.” says Duffy.

Remember, fittings and alterations add extra cost to the final price; at Wishing Well Bridal the cost of fittings never exceeds $180.00.

So, what is the recipe for a memorable (and successful) wedding?

Combine seasoned professionals with local resources and advantages, mix in a timeline, then sprinkle everything with a look at trends for 2009 and you’ll end up with the wedding of your dreams.




Decide on your budget.
Decide on the type of wedding you want (backyard/garden? formal?)
Make up your a guest list.
Visit different venues and decide on the location and time of your rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid’s luncheon, ceremony and reception.
Plan tent rentals as needed (do site inspection.)
Meet with and choose a caterer to plan your rehearsal dinner, bridesmaids’ luncheon and reception.
Meet with a Clergyperson or Officiate.
Choose your Bridesmaids/Groomsmen.
Begin the search for the perfect wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses (remember, the earlier the better, you’ll have several fittings.)


Meet with and choose your photographer/videographer.
Meet with and choose your florist.
Meet with and choose your entertainment (DJ? Band?)
Meet with a stationer and select invitations, cards and thank-you notes. Order and send out “save-the-date” cards.
Make equipment reservations (chairs, dance floor, tents etc.)
Decide on a honeymoon destination and make necessary plans (i.e. will you need a passport?) and reservations.


Finalize your guest list.
Order your announcements, invitations and thank you notes.
Choose the attire for groomsmen.
Confirm the delivery of all gowns and make appointments for fittings.
Make appointment for bridal portrait.
Meet with and choose a baker for your wedding cake.
Decide on and book transportation for the bridal party to & from ceremony/reception.
Go over details of ceremony and reception with each service professional (photographer, caterer, clergyperson etc.)


Register for gifts.
Send a “detail summary” to all service professionals.
Select and purchase attendants gifts.
Plan and make reservations for your rehearsal dinner and bridesmaids luncheon.
Choose wedding bands.
Visit your stylist to plan your wedding day hairstyle (don’t forget to bring headpiece & veil)
Make your hair appointment for the big day before you leave.
Get your marriage license.
Make room reservations for out of town guests.
Meet with entertainment to decide on music selections for ceremony and reception.


Go over final guest list with caterer.
Have one last check-in with all service professionals.
Mail your invitations.
Have your final fittings-bride and bridal party.


Have your bridal portrait done.
Confirm music arrangements & check selections.
Schedule rehearsal for 1-2 days prior to wedding.
Discuss rehearsal dinner with hosts; make sure attendee’s know date, time and location.
Write announcement and get photos ready for newspapers.
Schedule a massage, manicure and pedicure for the day before your wedding.


Pick up bridal party clothing.
Arrange for name & address change.
Check with caterer/reception venue with last minute changes.
Wrap Grooms & attendants' gifts.
Have bridesmaids' luncheon.


Remind rehearsal dinner guests of time/location.
Pack for the honeymoon.
Remind wedding party of exact time & place.
Go over final details of ceremony & reception with all parties involved.
Assign small jobs to family/friends. (Pick up guest book, cameras, designate someone to be the “sweeper” checking for items left behind at the ceremony or reception, designate someone to mail out your announcement the day after wedding etc.)
Make up an “emergency kit” with safety pins, a mini sewing kit, aspirin, clear nail polish, hair spray/hair pins, energy bars or crackers, band-aids, toothpaste/toothbrush, dental floss, breath mints, nail clippers/nail file.
Pack a change of clothes (if necessary) for after the reception.


Have a massage.
Have a manicure & pedicure.
Attend wedding rehearsal & rehearsal dinner.
Give ushers the guest list.


Try to be calm.
Eat breakfast (it may be your last meal before the reception.)
Do a last minute wedding dress check (press or steam if needed.)
Do hair & make-up before dressing.
Take a deep breath and seize the day!


Dresses and invitations that have layers and textures.
Light fabrics and wedding gowns with color.
Outdoor weddings and local attractions.
Lighting is big-think lanterns hanging from trees.
Cupcakes continue to rock receptions coast to coast.
The candy bar (think silver scoops beside vintage glass jars brimming with candies, and monogrammed fill-your-own bags) has replaced the martini bar.
The color silver.
Polaroid cameras.
Personalized everything.
Jewel tones and bold colors.
Bridesmaid’s dresses that are the same color but different styles (to suit individual body types.)
Spa treatments for the men.
You Tube video clips.


Going green with eco-friendly weddings.
A focus on organic everything-from fabrics to food.
Showcasing the bride and grooms personalities and values.

Maybe a vegan feast followed by recycling!


Chase Canopy
4 Nicky‚s Way
Mattapoisett, Ma.

316 Elm St.
South Dartmouth, Ma.

Three‚s Company Catering
1525 Riverside Ave.
Somerset, Ma.

Wishing Well Bridal
333 Newport Ave.
Rumford, R.I.


  1. Thanks for the free wedding planner! Awesome, I'm going to share with others brides to be!