The cake is a major focal point at most wedding receptions. It serves not only as a decoration, pulling together your colors and wedding theme, but also as an important symbol. Traditionally, the cutting of the cake represents the married couple’s first shared task and is usually a key image in the wedding photos.

Today, you can choose from hundreds of cake designs and flavors, including basic vanilla or chocolate, fruit cakes, pound cakes or cheesecakes. Fillings can run the gamut from liqueurs or fruit purees to flavored mousse. If you have a favorite cake, ask your pastry chef to customize it for your wedding. Can’t decide? Please everyone by choosing a different cake for each tier.

Today’s wedding cake often takes center stage at the wedding reception, next to the bride and groom, of course. Today’s cakes are stacked, often in several layers, and can be seen in such shapes as round, oval, hexagonal, and square. Since theme weddings are becoming so popular, the theme of the wedding is being carried over into the reception and invariably influences the design and presentation of the wedding cake.

Brides and grooms are often opting to nix the totally white cake, and are beginning to add hues that coordinate with their wedding colors into their cake. Also popular is the addition of the initials of the bride and groom onto the cake.

No matter how big or small the wedding, you will be investing a significant sum of money to make your dream day a reality. Regardless of who’s footing the bill, you’ll need to set limits and create a budget. Newly engaged couples should discuss their personal finances and talk with parents about how much they can and will contribute.

Begin breaking down the budget for each anticipated wedding expense by considering your priorities. What’s most important? Designer dress? Elaborate flowers? Couture cake? Swanky reception site? Best band in town? Exotic honeymoon? Choose three items that are your top priorities and set the rest of your budget from there.

While not everyone planning a wedding has an unlimited wedding budget, being prepared and planning carefully can help all brides- and grooms-to-be have a wonderful, memorable wedding. Here is a simple breakdown to wedding budgeting that will help make the planning more manageable. Most couples go over budget by about 10 percent, so if you are prepared ahead of time, you will know what is most important to both of you, and you can scale back in other areas.

Selecting a wedding videographer is similar to that of the photographer search. Start by talking to people you know and trust, review their videos, and get some referrals.

When it’s time to interview videographers, ask about their background. You should look for someone who is not only technically seasoned, but artistically seasoned as well. They should know how to gather footage, edit it, provide proper lighting, among other things. In addition, they must be able to edit the videos. DVDs are easier to edit than VHS tapes, so find out what your potential professional will be using. Make sure you see examples of his or her work and editing techniques.

Besides the memories of your wedding day, the other thing that will last forever is the photographic record of the events. So, it is vital to make a smart choice when selecting your photographer and/or videographer. First, look at your friends’ wedding albums and wedding videos. Make notes about what you see that you like. Friends, family, and co-workers are excellent sources for referrals – and name dropping for those “professionals” who should be avoided.

Second, when interviewing photo professionals, ask to see entire wedding albums, including proofs. Pay attention to how many shots you consider to be “bad” and why you do not like them. Notice the lighting in the photos, the clarity, etc. This will give you a good overall sense of how good the photographer really is.

Once you have an idea of the kinds of things you and your fiancé want, the timeline for getting things done, and a budget, the fun part can begin. Most brides and grooms really enjoy planning the actual ceremony and reception. The trend now is for couples to plan their special day together, and to put a lot of their own personality and style into it. Many wedding ceremonies and receptions now have themes. This makes it more memorable for everyone, especially the bride and groom.

Some popular nuptial themes include: a garden party, with tons of flowers, berries, and candles; jazz-age weddings, where music truly sets the tone; Victorian era ceremonies, complete with period costumes; medieval weddings, also with period-appropriate costumes and feasting; weddings planned around a holiday; and weddings planned around your ethnic background (especially in the clothing and flowers); and weddings planned around a distinctive place in your area.

aqualogo

Aqua Grill & Lounge
Hilton Head, (843) 341-3331
www.aquagrilleandlounge.com

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Hilton Head, (866) 443-5922,
www.beachsidegetaway.com
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Bluffton, (843) 757-0701
belfair1811.com
berkeley_hall Berkeley Hall Club
Bluffton, (843) 815-8494
www.berkeleyhallsc.com
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Callawassie Island Club
Callawassie Island, (843) 987-2142

callawassieisland.org

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Colleton River Plantation
Bluffton, SC, (843) 836-4400
www.colletonriver.com

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Country Club of Hilton Head
Hilton Head, (843) 681-2582
hiltonheadclub.com

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Crowne Plaza Hilton Head Island Beach Resort
Hilton Head, (843) 842-2400
www.cphiltonhead.com

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Dolphin Head Golf Club
Hilton Head, (843) 681-5550,
dolphinheadgc.com

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Dunes House
Hilton Head, (866) 726-9825,
palmettodunes.com

indigo_run The Golf Club at Indigo Run
Bluffton, (843) 689-3500,
thegolfclub-indigorun.com
hamptonhall

Hampton Hall Clubhouse
Bluffton, (843) 208-9000
www.hamptonhallsc.com

heritage Heritage Golf Group
Hilton Head, (843) 681-1747
coastaldiscover Honey Horn
Hilton Head, (843) 689-6767,
coastaldiscovery.org
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Inn at Harbour Town
Hilton Head, (866) 561-8802
www.seapines.com

longcove Long Cove Club
Hilton Head, (843) 686-1070,
longcoveclub.org
mainst03

Main Street Inn & Spa
Hilton Head, (800) 471-3001
http://msi.festiva.travel/

marriott

Marriott Resort & Spa
Hilton Head, (843) 686-8400
www.marriott.com

mosscreekvenuepic Moss Creek Clubhouse
Hilton Head Island, (843) 836-6121,
mosscreek-hiltonhead.com
oldfield

Oldfield Plantation
Okatie, (866) 653-3435

www.oldfield1732.com

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Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort
(800) 845-8001,
www.omnihotels.com/findahotel/hiltonhead.aspx

Pau Hana & Flying Circus Catamaran

Pau Hana & Flying Circus Catamaran
Hilton Head, (843) 686-2582

www.hiltonheadisland.com/sailing

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Rose Hill Mansion
Bluffton, (843) 757-6046
www.rosehillmansion.com

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Sea Pines Country Club
Hilton Head, (843) 671-2345,
seapinescc.com

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Sea Pines Resort
Hilton Head, (866) 561-8802,
seapines.com/weddings

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Sea Turtle Getaway
Hilton Head, (843) 842-6000
www.seaturtlegetaways.com

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Shore House
Hilton Head, (866) 726-9825,
palmettodunes.com

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Spanish Wells Club
Hilton Head, (843) 681-2819,
spanishwellsclub.com

Vacation Company
Hilton Head, (843) 845-7018
www.hiltonheadvacationrentals.com

vagabondcruises

Vagabond Cruise
Hilton Head, (843) 785-2662,
vagabondcruise.com

westin_logo2 The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa
Hilton Head, (843) 681-4000
Click here for Web site.
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Wexford Plantation
Hilton Head,
wexfordplantation.com

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Windows on the Waterway
Hilton Head, (843) 689-PLAN

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