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A traditional wedding is generally considered to be a grand celebration of expense and people. However, the idea of a big white wedding is not for everyone, and ultimately is the choice of the couple whether to have a lavish affair or a simple private ceremony with family and close friends. Small weddings can make a lot of sense, especially if there is a budgetary constraint. Here are a few steps to think about when planning a small private wedding:
- It’s your day and therefore your decision. Tell your family and friends you want a small private wedding and that you will not change your plans to suit others. Be firm about your decision and don’t let others change your mind.
- Set an amount you are willing to spend on your wedding and reception. Create a budget that will keep you within your means. This will essentially determine how many people can be at your wedding and may perhaps help to save hurt feelings.
- Allow those helping you to organise your wedding to create a guest list. From this you can choose who you would like to have at your ceremony, and then plan an informal reception at a later date for those who did not get to attend. Honesty is the best policy here; if you don’t know or like a particular suggestion, and don’t want them at your wedding, it’s best if you speak up now to avoid further problems later on.
- Choose a wedding location appropriate for smaller gatherings. Consider perhaps a boutique hotel, private gardens or public parks, a beach, museum, scenic location, or somewhere that holds fond memories for you.
- If your budget allows perhaps you could consider a themed wedding or even marrying abroad and inviting just a few select guests.
- Design your menu to suit your guests. Large wedding parties require a menu designed to please everyone, but when your guests are a small number of well known family and friends, you can use this opportunity to serve a menu of their collective favourites.
- With fewer people present, there’s more opportunity for social interaction. Don’t forget your wedding does not need to be formal! Let your family and friends say a few words if they like, and express their feelings at the event. It will help to create a relaxing atmosphere that everyone will enjoy and remember.
- Involve each family member in the day’s events if possible. It will make the day more enjoyable and people will be glad they got to participate and celebrate with you.
- Avoid the hassle of telling everyone before your big day. That way you won’t hurt the feelings of those who were not invited. When you return from your honeymoon you can break the news and celebrate with everyone by throwing a big reception party.
When choosing a diamond, you should be aware of the "Four C's" – four rules that will help you understand how diamonds are classified.
Cut: There are different ways to cut a diamond and the type of cut impacts the sparkle of the diamond. The cut that produces the most sparkle is the round (or brilliant) cut, while radiant and princess cuts are good at hiding flaws. Other cuts include square, emerald, pear, marquise, cushion, and heart-shaped. When looking at a diamond, if it doesn't catch your eye or if it doesn't sparkle in the light, it's probably not well cut so be careful about your choice.
Colour: The colour of diamonds varies considerably but ideally a diamond should have no colour at all. Colours are graded from no colour (D) to deeply coloured (Z). Beyond "Z" is the range where the diamond's colour is vivid and rich, called "fancy colours". Coloured diamonds are used as comparison stones for colour grading. Grading is done by comparing the diamond to be graded against these "master stones" under either artificial or natural daylight. A machine called the "Colorimeter" can also be used for colour grading but a trained human eye is generally the best method for determining the colour of a diamond.
Clarity: The clarity of a diamond is determined by the amount and location of flaws, or blemishes, in the diamond when viewed under 10x magnification. Being natural, there will be imperfections in the diamond, and most diamonds contain them. Perfectly flawless diamonds with no internal flaws or surface blemishes are extremely rare and very expensive. The less imperfections or “inclusions” a diamond has, the greater the clarity, as more light is reflected from the diamond, causing it to sparkle.
Diamonds are rated from Flawless (F1) to Imperfect (1, 2, or 3). VVS1 and VVS2 are used for very slight inclusions, as are VS1 and VS2 (slightly more inclusions), SI1 and SI2 for slight inclusions and I1, I2 and I3 for imperfect diamonds. Because very slight imperfections are difficult to see with the naked eye, there should be a good choice of diamonds to suit most budgets. However, if you can see a mark without magnification, think carefully before you buy.
Carat: This is the unit of measurement for all gemstones, and refers to weight. There are five carats in a gram, and every carat is divided into 100 “points”. Therefore, a diamond measuring 75 points is 3/4 carat in weight, or 0.75ct. Engagement rings are often about 1 carat.
Sometime during the wedding planning, frazzled, and lost in colour charts and seating plans, you might just forget who exactly you’re planning the wedding for. Remember, your wedding is your big day, and that the day should reflect you and your partner’s personalities and interests. You’ll want to remember your day the way you wanted it to be, and not just a day of formalities, etiquette, and stiffly posed photos.
You’ll want your wedding to be fun, and enjoyed not just by you, but by your family and friends as well. So, here’s a list of interesting and quirky entertainment ideas you may consider adding to help make your wedding one of the most fun and memorable yet!
- Put disposable cameras on the reception tables, with small baskets of props nearby eg: moustaches, lips, glasses, and invite guests to use them and take silly photos.
- Magician – Great for holding the attention of children, and a good way to break the ice and get people talking at the beginning of the reception.
- Karaoke – Always a popular choice after a few drinks!
- Dance lesson – Hire an instructor to teach your guests a few moves before having a long night of dancing.
- Hire an ice cream van and serve everyone a cone!
- A balloon artist is a great way to keep children entertained.
- Hire an arcade gaming machine, or set up a Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect to dance or play bowling.
- Set up a mini casino station for the James Bond wannabes!
- Hire an artist to do caricatures or silhouettes of your guests.
- A candy bar – for those with a sweet tooth.
- Cocktail mixing – Perhaps a member of the bar staff at the reception venue could show the guests how to mix their own cocktails.
- The bride and groom could choreograph a dance routine for their first dance.
- Hire a photo booth – preferably one that supports video too, so guests can record messages and take pictures of themselves in silly poses for the couple.
- Think of some games that could be played at individual tables – for example “Guess The Person”. Everyone gets a card with a famous person’s name on it that they are not allowed look it. They must stick the card to their forehead and get help from others to guess their person.
- Have some paper and pencils/crayons for kids to keep them entertained.
- Leave a blank journal or notepaper and pens in the reception area, so guests can write messages, advice, or memories about the couple for the bride and groom.
Now that you’re planning and budgeting, the next most important thing to do is pick the actual wedding date. The choice of date is dependent on many factors, but remember, it generally takes at least six months to plan and organise a wedding.
The season and time of year will dictate many of the wedding day factors, including style and cost, as well as the length of time spent waiting for a date. If a couple want to book a popular church or reception venue during the busy summer months from May to September then more time will be required; the wedding could be delayed by several months due to demand for weddings during this peak time of year. However, if the ceremony is to be held at a registry office, abroad, or at an off-peak time of the year, things may take less time to organise.
It is most important, however, to confirm the availability of the wedding party and key guests, as well as the favoured venue or church. Once the date is finalised, it is a good idea to send out save the date cards.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a wedding date:
- The time of year – would you prefer a summer or winter wedding?
- The summer months (approx May-September) are the most popular months, with June being the busiest month of all. Popular venues are booked up well in advance, so be prepared to have to wait for an available date.
- Saturday is the most popular day for weddings. Perhaps Friday could be a better and more economic alternative.
- Consider having your wedding on a bank holiday weekend if possible. It gives your guests more time to travel and visit.
- If you decide to have the ceremony at one location and the reception at another, you'll need to coordinate availability at both locations.
- Is the honeymoon destination suitable at your chosen time of year? Just because the weather is nice at home does not mean you’ll have perfect weather for your honeymoon! Keep the seasons in mind.
- The bride and groom should both be able to take adequate time off work.
- The wedding day should not clash with any major sporting events or bank/religious holidays.
- School and summer holidays should be considered - people you may like to invite could be away on holiday.
- The wedding day should not clash with important occasions, such as birthdays, christenings, graduations. Your wedding should not compete with another person’s big day.
- A Christmas wedding may clash with many guests' family commitments.
- The choice of wedding day may be a good opportunity to mark a significant anniversary.
- Many venues host more than just weddings, so they'll book up for holiday parties as well.
- During holidays, such as Christmas, many venues put up additional decorations and floral arrangements. Perhaps you could take advantage of this and save money in your budget.
Setting a budget for the ceremony and reception is relatively easy - you have what you have and that's it! Sticking to the budget is where things can get tough – it’s what you don’t or can’t have that may prove to be a problem, and often, having to scale back on the most important day of your life is not up for debate! In the planning stages, the couple will need to discuss how much money they have, and how much money they need, as well as who will be paying for particular parts of the wedding (as it is customary for parents to pay an amount towards the bill also).
Budgeting is certainly not easy, especially when you want to have the best, and most beautiful and memorable day imaginable, and especially when you already have a vision for what your day will be like. But try to plan a wedding within your means. Unfortunately it may mean having to scale back on certain parts of your day, but it is certainly better than the alternative of entering a marriage with an enormous bill. No new couple wants to start out bankrupt or feeling the strain of financial stress.
During the planning stages, when it comes to an area in which a large cost could be incurred, ask yourself, “Is what we are spending on this item really worth it?” Are you spending the extra money for your own enjoyment or to impress others? Is it absolutely necessary to have the biggest and best of everything? After all, in the end of the day, the wedding is about the couple, and not about what they have. And anyway, needing years to pay off the reception is not a good way to go, especially since most newlyweds have a long list of things they would like to or need to buy, such as a first home, or new homeware and furniture. In order to budget, prioritising might be a good idea. Make an ordered list of things that are of the most importance to you on the day, and that will help in dividing out your budget over the wedding and the reception.