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For today’s Wedding Wednesday blog we are looking into the topic of wedding party gifts, specifically for the groomsmen. The idea is to get them something they will like and actually use – hopefully on more than just the day of the wedding. It is a way of saying thank you for all the help they have put forth, including the time, money, and energy to attend engagement parties, bachelor weekends, and anything else you may have needed. So to help you show your gratitude, here is a list of a few of our favorite gift ideas:

Traditional gifts: the first gift ideas that come to mind are the generally “traditional” gifts, which include ties, bowties, and socks that the group is expected to wear the day of the wedding. While we love this idea, they may not be able to utilize them after the wedding, especially if your color scheme is not quite their style. So why not throw a little something extra in there that they can use later too, such as an engraved pocket knife, bar key, or even some of the other gift items mentioned below.

Tie bar and cufflinks: Add a little personalization to the gifts with an engraved tie bar or cufflinks. We’ve seen great ones that are unique, such as a different superhero for each, or their initials. No matter how casual your friends are, they can always use a classic pair of cufflinks in the future.

Money clips and wallets: Another great gift idea that everyone can use is a sturdy money clip or leather wallet. Bonus points if you have their initials engraved beforehand.

Leather dopp kits: when you were young, you may have just thrown your stuff straight into your travel bag or perhaps grabbed a plastic one from the kitchen. But now that we are older, everyone can use a dopp kit, especially one that will hold up as well as leather. You can put a few other items in there, as their tie for the day like we mentioned earlier.

They favorite bottle of alcohol or a personalized flask: A great way to keep the celebration going, and something they will be guaranteed to enjoy is their favorite bottle of spirits and a flask to carry it in. While on the conversation of flasks, if you go that route, try one that is a combination. We’ve seen great options with are both a flask and cigar holder, or have a collapsible shot glass discretely included. You can even include whisky stones or something similar for added effect.

Something specific to your wedding: Here is where you can get unique to your group of friends or a theme you may want to adhere to. Maybe you are having a beach wedding and you purchase them all a pair of rainbows. Or you want everyone dress in black Chuck Taylors for the big event. We even had a group of groomsmen who all received Storm Trooper helmets. Yes, as in the ones from Star Wars.

You can even do a combination of any of the above for a goodie bag. Or you can think about each wedding party member individually and select a gift unique to them. Be sure to utilize your resources too. Etsy, The Knot Shop, and even local novelty stores can be a gold mine of ideas. However you choose to say thank you, your men are sure to appreciate it.

photography by Martha Manning Photography

It’s Wedding Wednesday here at The Umstead and today we are talking about wedding weekend attire. You have your dress picked out, your shoes, undergarments, hair, but what about those other wedding weekend events, such as the rehearsal dinner or bridal lunch? With all the planning and energy you have put into the wedding day, these other events are easy to forget. So we are here to offer a few helpful suggestions to make it a little easier.

  • Most brides wear white throughout the entire weekend and to all of their bridal events. And while that is a brilliant idea, you are not bound to those limitations. Feel free to pop some color in there, such as your wedding colors. You can do that in the jewelry you wear or the entire outfit, the choice is up to you.
  • You can also try adding fun textures or patterns if you plan on wearing white. Try white on white patterns such as stripes or polka dots. Consider adding accessories too, such as a belt for added depth. It is a great way to add a little more contrast to the dress.
  • If you are wearing white try wearing it in a different way other than a dress. Perhaps a white jumpsuit, silk white tank top and white pants, or a white crop top and pencil skirt. There are plenty of ways to incorporate white without it being a dress but still looking sharp.
  • While you are getting ready – be it in your something blue romper or button up, be sure it is something you can easily get over your head, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your hair that you just finished getting done. Also consider open toed shoes or sandal or at least shoes with a little give to avoid ruining your freshly painted toes. Even our late fall and winter brides should consider this, as the photographer will be getting a close up of you putting on your garter and shoes and you don’t want any distractions.

Whatever you do, be sure you pick outfits you absolutely love! The only thing you need to worry about is feeling good in what you are wearing.

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photo by Laura and Tulle PhotographyWedding Wednesday: Where to Begin

Wedding season is about to begin, but engagement season has already started! Maybe you or your best friend, or sister got engaged on one of the most popular recent holidays. You’ve screamed, you’ve cried, you’ve gone out to celebrate, you’ve bought every bridal magazine and pinned your heart out, and now everyone has begun to ask questions other than “how did it happen?” giving you the question “where do I begin?” Here are a few helpful tips to start the wedding planning process:

Budget talks: The first thing you should sit down and do as it helps determine everything else in the planning process - from the date to the venue to the number of guests to the decor. It is also time to determine who is contributing financially, be that just yourselves or parents. Standard traditions need not apply in today's time, but it is good to have an idea of wants to help. Once an amount is settled, take advantage of wedding budget apps, books, and binders, there are plenty of useful resources to help figure out how much you should allocate to what area.

Expectations and Vision: another top priority is a talk with your partner about each other’s expectations for the wedding - a private conversation with no one else's opinions but your own. It's time to discuss how you envision your wedding. Do you want a large wedding or a more intimate setting? A destination wedding or outdoor location? Do you have your heart set on a designer dress or suit? One thing my husband was very particular about was having plenty of natural light, while I wanted to get married downtown. Knowing both helped us narrow down our venues and select the perfect location for us both. And since you have already discussed the budget, you can decide what you need to compromise on and where to place funds to have the wedding of both your dreams.

The Dress: definitely something to start thinking about at the beginning is your dress. While your pinterest board may be filled with gowns, go ahead and schedule a few appointments at local bridal shops to try on different styles. Speaking from experience, the dress you think you want is almost never the dress you walk down the aisle in. And your dress choice will help determine the overall decor and style of your wedding. A romantic gown may encourage an outdoor garden wedding, where as a boho dress may make you want to walk barefoot in the sand. And again, since you have decided on your budget you know what you can spend which will help determine the gown selection too. Remember, most dresses take 6-9 months to arrive and altered, so make sure that is priority. Gentlemen note- it is quicker to get a suit than a wedding dress, so we say count your blessings, but this isn't section isn't just for her, as your suit will also help determine your style. Do you want rolled up sleeves and vests for sleek reception, or seersucker suits on the harbor?

Pick your team: You may have started asking everyone the day your got engaged, but in case you didn't, it's time to start thinking about who you want by your side. This can be one person or twenty, male or female, but they should be people who have been supportive of you and your relationship, not someone you feel obligated to include such as a childhood friend, sibling, or cousin. It is also good to ask in advance, as it is time consuming to be part of the wedding party, and you don't want them to be planning a summer long euro-trip when you plan on getting married in June!

The Date: though you will be asked this question right off the bat, most couples do not pick a date until a little bit into the planning process, so no one is really expecting you to have it nailed down. If there is a date you have your heart set on, then you may have to sacrifice the time of day or be more lenient on venue if it isn't available. But start thinking about a time of year, and since you have decided on the budget, your vision, and the style of the wedding since you said yes to the dress, the time of year won't be that hard. And once you have a time frame, you can start looking into venue's that fit with all the above.

These are just some tips to get you thinking in the beginning and starting the process of planning. Remember to communicate with each other, as that is really the most important thing to do and will make the process that much easier.

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