Creating a Formal Table Setting

Photo Courtesy of
With Thanksgiving only a month away, now is a good time to become familiar with all the little nuances for setting a formal table. Formal table setting is often considered stuffy and outdated. I admit to be one who likes the freedom to put my soup spoon and salad plate where ever I wish. However, with my love of the vintage and Victorian styles has also come a new respect for the formal table setting. Seeing everything lined up exactly where it should be gives me the giddy feeling of being a little girl playing tea party. There is still plenty of room to be creative with linens, table decor, colors, and the dishes themselves. Rules will vary depending on culture and personal preference. Also, you want to create a beautiful table so sometimes the rules need to be bent for the best overall effect. With this in mind, here is a general guideline for setting a formal table.
  • The service plate or charger (or dinner plate in my world) will be centered in front of the chair.
  • Soup bowls and salad plates are generally stacked on the service plate. These are sometimes brought out later.
  • Depending on your school of thought, cutlery should be one - two inches from the edge of the table or aligned to the bottom edge of the service plate. Items are placed in the order they will be used, beginning from the outer edges and working in toward the plate. Spoons will be placed on the right. Forks are placed on the left with the exception of small cocktail or oyster forks. These will be placed to the right of the dinner spoon. The dessert fork and spoon are placed above the service plate pointing in opposite directions, with the fork tines pointing right.
  • Knives are placed to the left of the dinner spoon with the cutting edge facing the service plate.
  • Water glasses go above the dinner knife while the red wine glass is placed to the right and slightly below the water glass. The white wine glass can be placed to the right and below the red wine glass or centered above the water and red wine glasses. A cup and saucer for tea and coffee can be placed on the right, after the spoons.
  • A bread and butter plate, if offered, has a place above the forks on the left. The bread knife is laid across the bread plate.
  • Your napkin and place card can be placed to your preference. The most common place for the napkin is on top of the service plate or to the left of the forks. Place cards can be set on top of the service plate or at the top of the table setting.
Use this diagram to help you set a lovely table.

Diagram Courtesy of The Class Woman
 ~ Jenna

Wedding Unity Ceremony Ideas

Are you looking for a unique way to incorporate a Unity ceremony into your wedding as a symbol of ‘two lives joining as one’? There are endless ways to integrate your wedding theme, combine your family traditions, religion, or wedding colors into your Unity ceremony.

One increasingly popular unity ceremony includes the blending of colored sand, water, or beads with two or more small glass containers and one larger container. The unity sand ceremony begins after you’ve exchanged your wedding vows and rings. First, the bride lifts her small container followed by the groom and each pours their colored sand, water, or beads into the larger container symbolizing the blending of two lives. This also works well for couples who are bringing children into the marriage. Including your children in the unity ceremony will give them a sense of belonging and will signify the beginning of your new family.

The tradition of lighting a Unity candle has recently been modified to work in two situations. The first is for couples that want to stress their individuality and keep the taper candles burning along side the Unity candle showing that they are united, but also individuals. The second and more traditional candle ceremony includes the bride and groom blowing out the flame of their individual taper candle to indicate they are extinguishing their old lives to be united as one in marriage.

A wine blending ceremony includes a glass of white wine and a glass of red wine. The bride and groom drinks from each glass, then pours their wine together in a separate glass. The new mixture of wine will look like rosé and symbolize the blending of their hearts together to become one.

Consider inventing your own unity ceremony set either by altering one of the ceremonies mentioned above or take one thing from your individuality and blend it together. From personalized candles and vases to colored sand and beads, you are sure to create a treasured keepsake in remembrance of your commitment to each other.


4 Tips for Creating a Wedding Guest List

Becoming engaged is an exciting time. You are going to want to tell everyone you are getting married and you will want to start making wedding plans. One of the first plans to consider is the guest list. The guest list will be the most expensive decision in your wedding budget. How many people and how much per person will the caterer charge?

1. Sit down with your finance and any financial contributors (such as your parents) and decide what the budget will be. How many people can you afford to invite. Then decide what kind of wedding you would like to have; small and intimate or large blow out. Ask yourself if it's more important to have lots of people, or to pamper a smaller amount of people with an elegant meal and all the trimmings?

2. Make 2 lists; a ‘must have’ list and a ‘can live without’ list. This is the time to be brutally honest. Really think about who you want to be there on your special day. You don’t have to invite that cousin or friend that always drinks too much or your best friend from elementary school that you haven’t seen in 10 years. Invite the people that mean the most to you and that are currently involved in your life.

3. Get a list from your parents on who they would like to invite other than the obvious family members. If your parents are paying the bill they will want to be included in how many people are coming. Don’t forget that your parents are excited and proud that you are getting married, so they will want to show you off to some of their special friends too.

4. Always include respond cards with your invitations. If you start receiving several ‘no’ cards you may want to review the ‘can live without’ list to see if there are a few people you can send last minute invitations to.

If you follow the above tips it will make the guest list task much easier. Just keep in mind that this is your special day and you should invite the people who want to share this day with you!!


Top 4 Wedding Dollar Dance Alternatives

Bride and Groom's First Dance courtesy of Lories Photography
For those who don't already know, the dollar dance is a long-standing tradition that entails having your guests each pay a dollar for a dance with you.  It is a topic that has received a lot of heat in the bridal blogging community.  To do or not to do?  That is the question.

While some brides consider the dollar dance a tacky tradition, finding it unnecessary to expect their guests to fork out more cash, a large portion of brides look forward to the tradition considering the money a great chance to help with honeymoon expenses.  If you ask me, I think guests don't mind forking up a dollar to help you out.  Afterall, what's a dollar in the overall scheme of things?  If you've happened along this blog post, then you are already searching for possible alternatives to your dollar dance.  So without further ado, I give you our top 4 picks for dollar dance alternatives that won't leave your little tootsies hurting in the a.m.

1) Dollar Dash - The dollar dash is possibly the #1 alternative among brides.  It involves having your D.J. play a song while you and your hubby run around like mad grabbing money from guest's hands.  Afterwards, each of you would count up how much money you made and see who came out on top.  Quick and to the point, this method is popular and an easy way to cover honeymoon expenses.

2) To The Highest Bidder - The 2nd best idea I've heard is a variation of the dollar dance.  Instead of dancing with every one of your 400+ guests, your D.J. auctions you and your hubby off to the highest bidder.  The guest that bids the highest gets to dance with you.  This way you are only dancing with one person instead of spending the whole night dancing with everyone.  You can still choose to dance with a couple more people afterwards so there are no hurt feelings.

3) Silent Auctions - Depending on how laid back the atmosphere of your wedding is, you can consider selling items or hosting a silent auction.  Items that could be sold to guests are glow sticks, shots, etc.  A word of caution though....selling items can leave guests with the feeling they are being pushed into spending money.  This can leave guests talking, and not in a good way.  Instead, if you want to sell items, consider hosting a silent auction where you set out special mementos that have meaning to your guests.  Your guests can then bid on items to help with your honeymoon expenses and not feel pressured to buy, buy, buy!!  And you may be surprised at just how much an old photo of the family will go for.

4) Be Creative! -  Other creative alternatives I heard among brides is to follow the theme of your wedding.  For example, if you're having an old Bonnie and Clyde type theme, consider "arresting" the bride and groom (have the maid of honor/best man escort the newylweds out of the reception in handcuffs).  Your guests would then post "bail money" so they will be allowed back into the reception.  A fun idea that will have guests laughing.  Whatever you decide, remember to have fun, be creative, and most of all...enjoy your new lives as husband and wife!

Happy Planning!


Image courtesy of Lories Photography

Nothing But Blue Skies with this Bluebird Wedding Theme

As the days get chilly and autumn sets in, our blue skies are numbered for this year. That doesn't mean we have to wait for warmer days to create a Blue Skies and Bluebirds wedding theme inspired by the classic song "Blue Skies" as sung by Frank Sinatra. The lyrics  invoke feelings of both nostalgia for simpler times and optimism for a new love, particularly the whimsical line that reads "bluebirds singing a song, nothing but blue birds all day long."  To create a look that gives off similar vibes, think vintage bluebirds and a soft French blue paired with white or other muted colors like khaki and pale yellow. You could also use a soft tawny brown like the color often found on a bluebird's breast. 
As with any theme, you don't have to overdo it and stamp a blue bird on every table, fork, and favor. Weave subtle reminders in and out of your decor with a focus on making everything appear as if it came together naturally. Feathered and flowered headpieces are increasingly popular and look as if they have been crafted artfully from objects found outdoors. On the same note, tiny birds nests with blue candy-coated chocolate eggs make novel little favors for your guests. For outdoor weddings in the warmer months, presenting guests with a blue hand fan will complete the feeling of stepping into a Jane Austen novel. Top the wedding cake with adorable bride and groom bluebirds.

Photo Credit: Row 1- Images 1 and 2 by Once Wed, Birds by Frances Janisch, Blue Bird Gift Set by Gift, Blue Bridal Shoes by Perfect Details, Blue Wedding Gown by RS Couture via Wedding, Bluebird gift tags by Shanna Michele Designs, Bluebird cake top by Country Squirrels R Us, Bluebird Invite by Jak Heath, Blue-Silk Wedding Fan at My Wedding Reception, Bluebird's Nest by Beverly Tharp, Flower Hairpiece by Twigs and Honey, Khaki and blue tux by Elizabeth Messina, Blue Cupcakes by Lolita Jayne Scarlet

While this would make for a beautiful outdoor wedding on a summer's day, it might be refreshing for guests to step out of the cold of the later months and into the warm and cozy atmosphere you have created. If you would like to keep your wedding theme relevant to the season, you could always pair your blues with shades of brown for fall. For winter, think birch trees and use black and white to accent your blue. After all, everyone loves seeing little birds huddled on snowy branches with their feathers fluffed out. It is a metaphor for facing the elements and beating the odds, which as a married couple, you will undoubtedly do. Don't forget to cuddle up with your groom and sway on the dance floor to the song that inspired it all!
~ Jenna

Unique Murano Glass Wedding Reception Favors

Wedding favors are considered among the most important aspects of your wedding reception celebration. Make a statement with your wedding favors that provides a unique way to display a brief 'Thank You' message to your family and friends.

If you choose a specific theme for your wedding, select favors that your guests will take home in remembrance of your theme. You may also want to plan your wedding around a color scheme where you can select favors with complimentary colors to decorate your reception tables or choose one color for a more dramatic effect.

Nothing compares to the natural beauty of Murano glass favors. The way the hand blown glass colors intertwine within the glass turns a common favor, such as key chains, wine bottle stoppers, or bottle openers into an original work of art that will have your guests admirng your choice in favors for years to come.

Remember, you can personalize almost any wedding favor with tags, ribbon, or gift bags. Whether your favors are DIY, casual, or elegant, they become an exeptional way to thank your guests for sharing in your wedding celebration.


Add a Touch of Fall To Your Wedding Cake

Fall has become one of the most popular times of the year for weddings and brides are always looking for new and fun ways to add the feeling of fall to every part of the wedding. Here are few ways to add a unique seasonal touch to your fall wedding cake:

When you think fall you automatically think pumpkin! Pumpkin or spice flavored wedding cake would be a great way to incorporate the season into your wedding cake. Some other flavors that can be used for fall would be coffee, butterscotch, caramel, cinnamon or apple. Wedding cupcakes have become increasingly popular. This is a great way to incorporate several flavors of cake and also offer your guest a variety.

The color palette for fall of course is orange, red, yellow and brown. Not all fall weddings have to be this color. If you want to match your cake to your wedding colors, simply think fall shapes. You can add fall leaf shapes, or acorns to the cake without the color. Ask you baker to make ivory, white or gold marzipan acorns, leaves or pumpkins to embellish the cake. A simple but beautiful ivory cake with sugar maple leaves is another way to go.

Another great ideas is to use the same flowers that you are using in you bouquet on the wedding cake. If you are using burnt orange calla lilies, sunflowers, yellow roses or even acorns you can incorporate those flowers into the cake design to add a special touch of fall.

If you have decided to not go with a seasonal cake design at all you can always think of other ideas to add fall into the dessert. Serve a scoop of pumpkin flavored ice cream on the side of the cake or you can incorporate a fall themed candy buffet with lots of caramel, butterscotches and candy corns and other yummy treats of the season. Just make it special for you and it will be a fall wedding you will always remember.


How To Preserve Your Wedding Day Bouquet

Make the memory of your wedding day last a lifetime with our wedding bouquet preservation tips and tricks.

Purple Wedding Bouquet via David Wedding PhotographyMany brides often wonder what on earth they will do with their beautiful bouquet after their wedding day has passed.  This is definitely a topic that should not be overlooked. Because flowers usually stay fresh for only about 4 days, preserving your wedding blooms is something that should be carefully planned and thought-out.  Not a last minute afterthought.  To ensure the memory of your wedding day lasts a lifetime, finalize your bouquet plans a few weeks before your big day.  Either book a professional or purchase all the DIY tools needed to tackle your preservation right after your wedding is over.

The Methods - The 4 most popular methods for preserving your bouquet are 1) hang-drying, 2) freeze-drying via a professional service, 3) pressing, and 4) drying with silica gels.

Potpourri in DIY Cardboard Display Box via Esprit Cabane1) The Vintage Approach - Hang drying your bouquet is probably the easiest method available and the result will be a gorgeous vintage looking memento.  After taking your bouquet apart, simply hang your stems loosely upside-down in a dark closet for about a week or more.  After your flowers are completely dry, spray your blooms with flower spray (or hairspray) to preserve.  This method will give your bouquet a vintage look because the dried flower colors will vary so dramatically from the original stems.

Tip: Turn your dried petals into homemade potpourri.  Take your bouquet apart and hang individual petals to dry.  Afterwards, crush each petal up and add your favorite smelling oils to create your very own wedding day potpourri.  To learn more on creating your own potpourri, check out these articles here and here.

2) Forever Young - Our 2nd choice is freeze-drying through a professional service.  This method is the best way to keep your flowers looking as fresh as the day you got them.  What is freeze-drying?  The freeze-drying method is done by a professional service and usually takes about 8 weeks.  Your flower professional will spray each bloom and freeze them so your bouquet will literally be preserved for years and years to come.  While this method can be expensive (usually a couple hundred dollars), consider having only a portion of your bouquet freeze-dried to save cost.  When opting for this method, it is best to keep your wedding bouquet in the cooler during your reception and use a toss bouquet instead to ensure your wedding day petals do not get crushed or damaged.  Also, to ensure freshness, be sure to make professional arrangements well in advance so your bouquet will get sent out right after your wedding.

Pressed Flowers in Picture Frame via Martha Stewart Weddings
3) Picture-Perfect - Pressing your blooms is a vintage and unique way to preserve the memory of your big day.  This method usually takes about 6 weeks to complete.  Select only a few flowers from your bouquet, press them between sheets of wax paper and cardboard, and lay a heavy book on top.  After about 4-6 weeks, you flowers will be ready to be assembled into your pressed mini bouquet.  Frame your bouquet for a lasting keepsake.  For a unique twist, add your favorite wedding day photo of the bride with her bouquet and frame the two together.

4) DIY Bride - Silica gels are a way to bring the benefits of freeze drying and hang-drying together.  Not actually a gel as the name implies, silica gel is actually a sand-like substance that flowers get submerged into removing all moisture.  Great for sturdier flowers like roses and dahlias, silica gels are not recommended for more fragile blooms.  To learn more about this DIY approach, read these articles here and here.

Happy Planning!


Credits: Purple flower bouquet courtesy of david wedding photography, Potpourri in DIY cardboard container via esprit cabane, pressed flower frame courtesy of martha stewart weddings
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