(ARA)—When your best friend or sister announces she's engaged and wants you to be her maid of honor, of course you jump up and down with excitement—for her. But inside, you're starting to cringe. Dresses, presents and planning at least one bridal shower—you can feel the pressure building up.

If the thought of the bridal shower creates more stress than satisfaction, there's help. Culinary expert and newlywed, Kendall McFarland, research and development manager at Simply Organic, suggests cutting down on hassles with these five timesaving tips for simple but sensational shower refreshments.

(ARA) - Engaged couples long for a wedding day that will be unique and memorable, but in these tough economic times many are becoming more cautious about how they plan and spend their budget.

"You can rent almost anything you need to make your wedding match your vision," says Christine Wehrman, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Rental Association (ARA), the global trade association for the rental industry. "By renting items for your wedding, you have access to products that may have otherwise been too expensive in large quantities. You can get exactly what you want at a price that meets your budget."

(ARA)—While the fondue pot and ice cream maker seem like must-haves when you're adding items to your bridal registry, it's important to ask yourself, "Will I really use these items on a regular basis?" You may want to reconsider your selections. And, although making a wedding gift wish list can be daunting, the following tips can keep the happy couple celebrating wedded bliss for years to come.

Registry Basics

Before you and your sweetheart start scanning items for your registry, do your homework. Consider the size of your space and where you will store your new items. If you're living in an apartment or smaller condominium, you may want to rethink registering for the super-deluxe size barbecue grill. You'll be surprised how quickly your new gifts can fill up your space.

By Linda Smreczak of Amanda Rose Weddings

How to Plan a Wedding On a Budget

Your wedding will be one of the biggest parties you will ever plan. Many couples don’t realize how costly a wedding can be until they start planning their own. The average wedding in the US is now estimated at $28,000 for 100 people. No matter the size of your guest list, planning is the key to any successful wedding.

You're probably thinking, "Can I still have my dream wedding for less?" Yes, you can!

How to Construct Your Wedding Budget

weddingbudget1When brides envision their weddings as little girls, it’s doubtful the cost of the beautiful setting, stunning flowers and dream dress ever enter those fantasies.

After you’ve made your requisite phone calls to all of your friends and family spreading the news of your engagement, start saving money for the big day now! The average wedding costs $25,000. Experts recommend saving 20% of your monthly income, which means drastically cutting corners. Your weekly mani-pedi, daily Starbucks run and weekend movie nights may have to go. For a more detailed look at your budget, use Monthly’s Wedding Budget Planner to help you lay out all of the financial details.

 

If you are currently in the market to purchase a diamond, or have been in the past, you may be familiar with the "4 Cs" most experts say are key when it comes to selecting a stone. The 4 Cs include: cut, carat, color and clarity.

What you may not know is the difference in the words "carat" and "karat." While the two sound the same and are similar in spelling, their meanings are not the same.

How Do You Know Which Word Is Correct?

The origin of both words dates back quite some time and is very interesting. Have you ever heard the term "carob," which refers to a common substitute for chocolate? Well, carob trees have reportedly grown in the Mediterranean region since ancient times and, surprisingly, carat and karat can both be traced back to the word carob.

New (and traditional) ideas for dresses, flowers, venues and more.

Beachside nuptials or an elegant garden wedding? Roses or lilies? So many choices! Ever since girlhood, the bride has dreamt of what her wedding day would be like, but the reality of planning a wedding can leave many feeling indecisive and frazzled. Here are some inspiring, hot new trends to help with wedding planning.

The Dress

Friends and family will anxiously be waiting to see the bride as she walks down the aisle, so finding the perfect wedding dress is possibly the biggest decision she will make. It reflects personal style, along with the theme and mood of the wedding ceremony and reception. With so many possibilities to choose from, check out these current wedding dress trends:

Concierge and Co.’s Serena Crumley and Amanda Spencer create the perfect day for two couples with dramatically different wedding ideas.

Lasting memories are made on a wedding day¬ – whether large or small, traditional or modern, local or destination, the affair involves a number of important details; and each detail can be a cause for celebration – or stress – for both the couple and their guests. Therefore, many brides- and grooms-to-be opt to The unique and picturesque Lowcountry is home to hundreds of weddings each year, as well as an abundance of professionals who are well-versed in creating memorable affairs. But with so many choices, it’s often difficult for many couples to know where to begin.

Before you tie the knot, don’t forget to plan one last big hurrah as a single girl with the ultimate bachelorette party. With all of the stress that can accompany planning a wedding, celebrating with friends is a great way to take a break and let your hair down – try to enjoy it!

Hand over the plans to your best friend or maid of honor. Don’t forget to invite your closest friends and even family members. Let your 'planner' know what kind of bachelorette party you have in mind and what dates will work for you. Instead of planning the traditional night out with the girls, consider celebrating at a spa, a comedy club, or a concert.

When most people think of bachelor parties, they think of wild, crazy nights barhopping and partying. But before you upset your fiancée, there are several, more innocent options for partying with the guys.

The tradition of the bachelor party, or stag party, originates from the Romans where the groom-to-be was honored with a dinner and other scandalous activities. But most of all, it was a time for the groom to spend with his friends bonding and celebrating the last night of his “freedom.” Traditionally, bachelor parties were celebrated on the eve of the wedding. Considering that this is the most important day of your life, consider planning the party days, weeks or even months beforehand.

Party rentals come in handy especially if your wedding is at an outdoor location. They can offer everything for your big day from chocolate fountains to dinnerware and linens.

When planning a wedding and reception, it’s easy to overlook the necessities like dinnerware, chairs, tables, candles, lighting, tents, runners, and even coffee makers. Make sure to find out what your location provides, if anything so you can be prepared. If you have a wedding planner, they will provide you with the party rental company they prefer. Usually this is someone they depend on so you will have no worries for the big day.

The rehearsal dinner is a time when family and friends of the bride and groom come together to celebrate and prepare for the big day. Usually the rehearsal dinner follows the ceremony rehearsal. A run-through of the wedding takes place and the bride and groom may practice their vows. The attendants are shown what to do and what to be prepared for.

Following the rehearsal is the dinner where everyone comes together to celebrate and relax before the wedding. Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for the expense and its events. But with weddings becoming increasingly expensive, the bride and groom or even the bride’s parents may chip in. Be sure to send out personal invitations to friends and attendants who will attend the dinner.

Churches

Most area churches are available only to members and their families for weddings, although a few will perform the ceremony for non-members for a fee. If you decide you want a traditional church ceremony, contact the church office to inquire about availability and any special requirements. Some ministers will ask that the couple participate in one or more pre-marriage counseling sessions.

 

Home or Home Away from Home

If you are fortunate enough to live in the Lowcountry, your own home could provide the perfect setting for your wedding—a staircase, your backyard, a garden, the pool deck…

When shopping for your wedding flowers, again ask friends and relatives for anyone they can recommend. Get some ideas assembled before you begin meeting with florists, so you can use your time more efficiently. Cut pictures out of magazines to show your potential florist what type of theme and look you want to create.

You should select your bridal gown and bridesmaids’ dresses before you select your florist. This is done to be sure the flowers accentuate the dresses. If you can, bring in material swatches or photographs of the dresses.

You should also have your ceremony and reception sites chosen before you pick your flowers. Some churches and even reception sites have particular rules about flowers. Ask about these rules ahead of time so you can notify the florist.