March 25, 2011

Tips For Writing Your Wedding Vows

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Anthony Lala @ 8:39 am

Nothing will allow you to express your love and admiration for your partner more than writing your own wedding vows. As a New Orleans wedding planner, I’ve seen this done in beautiful, tasteful ways that add depth to a ceremony. If you’re planning on giving personalized wedding vows at your wedding, here are some important tips to remember.

Make sure you get permission

Some religions require you to say traditional vows as part of the ceremony, but it’s possible for them to accommodate your request. Even though the answer will most likely be yes, just remember before writing your vows to get permission from the officiant.

Tap into your feelings

Assuming you and your partner are writing separate vows, it’s important to be alone in a quiet room with your thoughts. Try to tap into your true feelings about your partner by asking yourself some questions, such as what does the marriage mean to you, what is the best thing about your partner, when was the moment you knew you were in love and  what is your favorite memory of them. Write down your answers and harbor those tender feelings by underlining key words or phrases you might want to include in the vows.

Create an outline

It’s important to make your vows unique, but it’s equally important not to stray too far from the original intent of the vows. Wedding vows indicate an unwavering commitment to love the other person unconditionally. There are many examples around the web where you can get an idea of what sort of outline you want to use. Check out this site for a selection of wedding vow outlines that will hopefully inspire some of your own ideas.

Make it special

Once you have a basic outline and you’ve laid out some of your most sincere feelings on paper, it’s time to put it together. I can’t tell you exactly what to put, but you should be sure that it comes from your heart. When you think about saying the wedding vows, remember that even though everyone at the wedding will be listening, you are only making the vow to your partner. If possible, slip an inside joke that might have been running throughout your relationship that only you two understand or something related to your New Orleans destination wedding. Whatever you put in the vows, don’t forget to make it special for your partner.

Try it out and make edits

Completely finishing a draft of the wedding vows does not mean you’re done. Try reading it in front of your bridesmaid or best man to get their reaction. If you feel like something is not working, do not hesitate to take it out. Remember, your wedding vows should feel natural and come from the heart.

Practice

When the wedding vows are finalized, it helps to practice them as many times as you feel necessary before the wedding. This makes sure you’re comfortable with the wording and will read it confidently to your loved one on that special day.

March 18, 2011

Ideas For Wedding Guest Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Anthony Lala @ 9:47 am

There are many mementos you can take from your wedding to cherish forever, such as wedding pictures and gifts, but nothing really captures the mood of your guests like the wedding guest book. As a wedding planner in New Orleans, I’ve seen a lot of unique ideas for wedding guest books that leave memories for both guests and the happy couple. If you’re starting to think of concepts for your wedding guest book, here are some ideas to consider.

The Old-Fashioned Guest Book

If you’re planning on having a very traditional wedding, an old-fashioned wedding guest book might be a good idea. This is usually a very inexpensive approach, because all you need is a book with blank pages. The good thing about this type is that it’s open to creativity. Guests can sign their name, leave personal notes or even draw pictures. Many couples want the book to be uniformed, so they have their close relatives sign the book beforehand to set an example for incoming guests.

Picture Frame Guest Book

The picture frame approach is a fantastic way to make your guest book something that you can actually put on display at home. Buy an autograph picture frame and place an engagement or wedding picture in the middle. The picture is surrounded by blank white space, so guests can sign and make comments. Once the wedding is over, you can get the frame placed in glass and hang it. This ensures that you remember your wedding day and all your guests for years after.

The Polaroid or Photobooth Guest Book

Couples who want their guests to have fun with the book might consider either the Polaroid or photobooth guest book. For the Polaroid guest book, you have one person wait at the front and take pictures of the guests as they enter. Then their picture is placed inside a book and they write comments next to it. The other option, which is more expensive, is to rent out a photobooth like the ones at malls. This gives your guests an opportunity to be creative, and the pictures not placed in the book can also double as a party favor for them to take home.

Guest Book Tree

If you’re looking for a guest book that really decorates your wedding, the increasingly popular guest book tree is a great idea. This guest book requires a small tree, preferably a manzanita, and decorative cards. When guests come in, they sign personal notes and wishes on the cards, and then hang them on the tree so they look like leaves.

Photobook Guest Book

The photobook guest book runs along the same vein as the picture frame guest book. Create a leather-bound book featuring a range of pictures, including engagement, wedding and dating pictures. Some couples also like to add poems or stories to their book. Remember to leave space between pictures or blank pages, so guests can make comments and sign their names. You can even make the book themed on your New Orleans destination wedding.

March 14, 2011

Deciding Between A Big Wedding And A Small Wedding

When you’re first thinking about your wedding, there are about a million little things to consider. Where should your New Orleans destination wedding be held? What type of food should you serve? How much should you spend? Among these questions is the very important how big should the wedding be? There are many pros and cons of having either a big wedding or a small wedding, but most of it has to do with personal preference. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what size your wedding should be, here are some questions to consider when making your decision.

Where are you having the wedding?

If you’ve already decided where you’d like to have the wedding and reception, your decision could potentially become clearer. Let the size of the venue dictate how many people you should invite. For example, if you’re having a wedding at a small church, you simply cannot invite a lot of people. If the venue is big, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should invite more people, but having a large, somewhat empty venue should generally be avoided. If you’re basing your venue selection on the size of the wedding, move onto the next question.

How big is your family?

This question is a good indicator for how big your wedding should be. A small wedding will cap your guest list at a pretty small number, so if you plan on only inviting immediate family members, this might be ideal. However, if you have a big family, a small wedding might force you to pick and choose between family and friends. Failing to invite someone could lead to a lifetime of resentment and harsh feelings, so you want to be very cautious with your decision.

What type of feel do you want your wedding to have?

The size of your wedding guides the ambiance of the event. Small weddings tend to be quieter, intimate and more personal. Big weddings, on the other hand, are more festive, sociable and grand. If you’d like a wedding where you can take time to talk to each friend and family member personally, a small wedding makes this easier. A large wedding is perfect for anybody interested in having a large party-like atmosphere where your family and friends socialize mainly with one another.

How much money are you willing to spend?

How much you want to spend significantly influences the size of a wedding. The monetary difference between a big wedding and a small one can be huge, so if your budget is small, a large wedding may simply be out of the question. Nevertheless, it is possible to have a large wedding with a tight budget as long as it’s done correctly.

March 10, 2011

Picking a New Orleans Wedding Caterer

Famous author Mark Twain once mused that “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” Since you’ve decided to have a destination wedding in New Orleans, picking the right caterer is an essential but sometimes difficult choice to make.

New Orleans food is unique for its tasteful combination of Creole, Cajun and French cuisines and could make for some delectable wedding dishes. Here are some ideas for picking the right caterer in New Orleans.

Set a budget

As with selecting a New Orleans wedding band, setting a budget helps start you off by narrowing your search. The price of caterers can range widely depending on the number of guests, type of food and meal packages, so it’s a good idea to set a general range and then refocus it once you get into more serious conversations with the caterer.

There are many things in a wedding you can save money on by going cheap, but food should not be one of them. Like the music, the quality and type of food really sets the stage for the evening. If your guests are left hungry, it can put a damper on the rest of the evening. However, if they’re full and energized, it will be a night they remember forever.

Decide what type of food you want

Before looking for a caterer, you should first decide on what type of food you want to serve. This will help direct you to certain caterers for your wedding meal. The decision should coincide with your theme and personal preferences. There are plenty of options for a traditional New Orleans wedding, including delicious seafood and other Louisiana specialties.

If you’re not interested in diving into the culture of your New Orleans destination wedding, many caterers have traditional wedding packages that come with meat, sides and vegetarian options.

Buffet vs. sit down meals

The choice between a buffet and a sit down meal is a big one for most couples. This choice will define the dinner experience for their guests. Both methods have pros and cons. A buffet allows each guest to have a wider selection tailored to their preference but may also mean they have to wait in line. A sit down meal allows for a more relaxed dining experience but doesn’t offer the same level of choice. For those couples who have already set smaller budgets, a buffet is usually the cheaper option because it requires less preparation and fewer servers.

Set up consultations

Once you’ve finally decided your price range, type of food and setup, the next step is to arrange meetings with a few different caterers. If you’re planning on going with the food from the reception hall, then it’s simply a matter of tasting the different options you’re considering. For other caterers, it’s also important to ask them how long they’ve been in business, what their cancellation policy is and if they have references.

March 4, 2011

Ideas for Wedding Favors

While planning weddings in New Orleans, I’ve witnessed a variety of wedding favors presented to guests by the bride and groom. Though some have been unique, others have been plain and forgettable. Here are a few ideas for memorable wedding favors with some additional tips to localize the favors for a New Orleans destination wedding.

Masquerade Masks

An icon of New Orleans is the whimsical and skillfully-made masquerading mask popular during Mardi Gras. Some of the best masks are handcrafted and make memorable gifts. Not only do these favors give your New Orleans destination wedding a distinct cultural feeling, but they also make great display items that your guests will never forget.

Pictures of the Bride and Groom

It sounds cliche, but people actually love getting wedding favors that feature pictures of you and your new spouse. One of the classic items is a finely crafted picture frame. At best, your family members can take home a picture of the happy couple to showcase on their walls, and at worst, they have a frame to put their own pictures in. Personalized keychains that hold pictures also work well because they give guests the option of using a different photograph.

Candy Buffet

If you’re the kind of person who’s not sentimental and would like to give a wedding favor that’s enjoyable, consider having a candy buffet. For this favor, guests are invited to go up to a beautifully arranged candy buffet with a bag emblazoned with your names on it. The great thing about the candy buffet is that it’s easily customizable, so you can choose your favorite types of candies. If you’d like to add some local candy to your New Orleans wedding, pralines are a delicious staple of Louisiana.

Engraved Items

The trait of a great wedding favor is its potential for longevity. For example, items such as engraved wine glasses can be used during the toast but also taken home and put on display. An engraved silver knife with your names and date of the wedding are often highly cherished by relatives. If you’d prefer more practical favors, other classy options include engraved bottle openers, measuring spoons and glass jars.

Do-It-Yourself Favors

Homemade wedding favors are becoming increasingly popular because of their propensity for creativity and a personal flare. These DIY favors can range anywhere from personally crafted boxes filled with candy to homemade party bags. Though they can sometimes be very time-consuming, DIY favors give your guests a one-of-a-kind personalized gift. You can also add a New Orleans flare to any of your DIY favors by adding decorative fleur-de-lis to the items.

February 28, 2011

5 Common Wedding Mistakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anthony Lala @ 2:25 am

As a New Orleans wedding planner, marriage is not only my profession, but my passion. I have seen weddings of every type, from intimate, garden ceremonies to cathedral-filling blowouts, but there are a few mistakes that couples seem to fall into again and again.

Drinking too much the night before

It is an easier mistake to make than you might think. Family and friends have traveled from across the country, everyone is excited and maybe you’re a little nervous and want to tie one on for the last time while single. By all means, entertain the guests that have traveled to attend your wedding, but let them do the heavy drinking. You should have a toast or two and then politely excuse yourself. Under no circumstances should you allow friends to plan a bachelor/ bachelorette party for the night before your wedding. A hangover is the last thing you want at the altar.

Letting the wedding ruin relationships

Many brides can get tunnel vision focusing on the perfect wedding, but remember that life goes on after the ceremony. If you refuse to invite someone or remove someone from the bridal party because they do not fit your “vision” for the day, feelings can be hurt and friendships can sour.

Crash dieting

If the perfect dress is a size too small, healthy dieting is perfectly acceptable, but the pressure to slim down can lead some brides to crash dieting.  It is better to look healthy and natural than to look sickly for the sake of a few pounds. The same rule applies to beauty regimens. Don’t try anything new or drastic just before the important day. You may not be happy with the results.

Not having parents released from their row first

After the bridal party follows the couple back up the aisle, many times the congregation is allowed to leave en masse, forcing the most important people in the front rows to exit last. An usher should allow your parents to exit first, so they are not forced to battle the crowd for your attention.

Praying for a“perfect” wedding

In the desire for the absolutely perfect day, many couples force themselves into having a wedding that lacks personality. There are millions of rules for the perfect wedding, but breaking rules is just as important as following them. Infuse a little spirit at your New Orleans destination wedding and let your wedding reflect who you truly are.

February 27, 2011

Picking a New Orleans wedding photographer

After months of preparing, your wedding day will begin a lifetime of happiness, but long after the cake is eaten and the dress is put away, the day will seem to have flashed by in a rush of ceremony and speeches. A professional wedding photographer can immortalize the most important time in your marriage, so you can remember every detail for decades to come.  If you’re looking to book a destination wedding New Orleans, here are some tips for picking the right p photographer.

Set a budget

The first thing to consider when choosing a photographer is your budget. You can skimp in certain areas, but the photographer should not be one of them. Years after everyone has forgotten what food was served, the photographs will be the same as they were on the day. Set a price you are willing to pay and be sure to stick with it.

Research what kind of service you will receive from each potential photographer.  How many hours are you paying for? How many sites are they willing to visit? While many studios have a preset listing for their prices, do not be afraid to haggle. Especially if you find a photographer you really want.

Get Samples

Next ask for samples of their previous work. For studios that employ more than one photographer, be sure to find out specifically which one will be at your wedding and ask for samples of his or her work. Rather than seeing the photographer’s best shots, it is helpful to see the coverage of an entire wedding to get a better sense of what you will be receiving.

Digital or Traditional

Find out whether the cameras being used are digital or traditional film. While some claim that film will produce higher quality images, the difference is rarely perceptible, and digital offers more options when receiving your prints. More pictures can be taken with digital because there is no film cost, and the photos can be quickly placed on a CD or posted online.

Establish deadlines

Ask when and how you will receive your prints. The easiest method is for the studio to create a secure account for you to view the pictures online. This allows family members to easily order themselves pictures straight from the studio.

Sign a contract

Finally, be sure to get positive references and a written contract. This will avoid any nightmare scenarios and give you peace of mind. Remember, the most important thing is to find a photographer you love.

February 13, 2011

Picking a wedding date in New Orleans

When my clients come to me to discuss their plans for a New Orleans destination wedding, they’re at a variety of stages of preparation. Some have already made significant plans toward their wedding; others are starting from scratch.

For those at the beginning of the wedding planning process, there’s one decision that trumps all others: setting the wedding date.  Here are a few tips to choose the best wedding date for your marriage.

Weather

It’s the first thing in many couple’s minds and tends to be one of the most crucial variables when choosing a wedding date. Of course, if you’re having an indoor wedding, then weather is a non-factor.  However, if you’ve scheduled the ceremony outdoors, then weather conditions can make or break your big day.

In New Orleans, we’re blessed with a generally mild climate, so the wedding season usually lasts from mid-march to early-November. However, the summer months bring intense heat. Nobody wants to be sweating through their gown or tuxedo, so I usually advise my clients to avoid the hottest temperatures, which occur between mid-June and early September.

Flora and Fauna

Unfortunately, this is something that’s often overlooked by New Orleans wedding planners, but is a crucial component in selecting a wedding date. If you’re planning on getting married in a natural setting, the surrounding trees and bushes will affect the ambiance. Make sure to research the blooming season of the plants around you, so you can try to schedule your wedding when the flora and fauna is at its peak.

Schedule Conflicts

If you’re scheduling a New Orleans destination wedding, you’re likely bringing in hundreds of out-of-town guests. If so, it’s important to make sure their schedules don’t conflict–especially if they’re in the wedding party. Inquire about your relatives schedules and make sure to steer clear of dates where conflicts, like college graduations or family reunions, could pop up.

Holidays

In general, I advise my clients not to schedule their weddings during or around holidays. Many families reserve this time for their own private celebrations and scheduling your wedding during Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas is usually a bad idea. However, utilizing other, smaller holidays, like Labor Day or Veterans Day, can often be judicious. These three-day weekends often mean that out of town guests have a little more breathing room for taking off work.

January 26, 2011

Picking a New Orleans Wedding Band

So, you’ve decided to have a destination wedding in New Orleans. Great choice. You have a number of important decisions in front of you, from picking a wedding venue to your wedding colors, but I’d like to focus for a second on an element that’s particularly important for a New Orleans destination wedding: the band.

New Orleans is not just the birthplace of Jazz, but also home to lively blues, funk and rap scenes. There’s a ton of great music here and picking a stellar band can be an intimidating process, but it shouldn’t be. Here are a few tips for picking the right wedding band.

Do you want a live band or DJ?

There’s no hard rule stating that you must have a wedding band, in fact many wedding parties decide to have a DJ instead. One of the benefits of having a DJ is that they have a huge variety of music, so they can better cater to specific requests. They’re also able to play a variety of genres, which can be beneficial if your wedding party has many different musical tastes

On the other hand, it’s tough to beat a hard-rocking wedding band. Live music is a dancing magnet and watching musicians jam out on stage will often ramp up the shaking and shimmying at your reception. Remember, the main goal of a wedding band or DJ is to get your wedding party out of their chairs and grooving, so whatever direction you decide to go, just make sure your music has some spunk!

Cover Bands or Original Bands

Cover bands are extremely popular at weddings for one reason: they can play almost anything. Whether you’re into Earth Wind and Fire or Al Green, most cover bands can fit the bill, especially if you give them a heads up on what you’re looking for.

The downside to cover bands is that all that variety means that the music often lacks a distinct style. In New Orleans, we have a huge pool of talented musicians qualified to play weddings and many of them bring a local flair that is a great compliment to a New Orleans wedding.

How much do you want to spend?

Before you start searching for bands, it’s important to establish a budget for what you’re willing to pay. A good wedding band usually charges at least $3,000 and can be as high as $10,000. DJs are usually much cheaper, depending on their following, but the bottom line is that good grooves often come with a big price tag. Though it’s tempting to skimp on this part of the wedding, I’d advise against it. The music at a wedding reception really sets the tone and is worth prioritizing among your wedding expenses.

December 10, 2010

Video Blog Upcoming!

The next step in WeddingsByAnthonyLala.com is right around the corner: Videos of great weddings, wedding venues and points of interest to honeymooners and wedding party-goers. Stay tuned – the best New Orleans destination wedding videos are coming soon.

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