Tuesday, June 12, 2018

4 Benefits of a Prewedding Photo Shoot

Taking prewedding photos is a growing trend and has become a new wedding tradition in its own right. A prewedding photoshoot is also referred to as an engagement photo shoot and usually takes place three to six months before the wedding. If you’re tossing around the idea and wonder if it is worth the extra cost, look for a photographer that includes it as part of the wedding photographer’s package. Otherwise, an hourly charge usually applies.

4 Benefits of a Prewedding Photo Shoot

Before the photoshoot, it best for the couple to sit down with the photographer and share their story. This can include things like how they met and what they like to do and ideas for locations and outfits that can be worn. Prewedding photos can be taken indoors or outdoors. Other than developing ideas for where and when the photo shoot can take place, planning a prewedding photo shoot can actually be beneficial in other ways. Two of these four benefits only apply if you plan to use the same photographer for your wedding.

  1. Taking prewedding photos is an ideal way to capture romantic moments between the couple and is a perfect opportunity to create special memories to be cherished in the future.
  2. Helps develop a good relationship with your wedding photographer. He/she will get to know you and be in touch with how formal or informal you are and what kind of setting(s) or theme(s) are suitable for your tastes.
  3. Also these photo shoots let the bride and groom get familiar with the photographer’s style and help them feel more comfortable working together.
  4. Prewedding photos can be used for save the date magnets and engagement announcements in the newspaper.

Creative Elements for Great Engagement Photo Shoot

Shooting great engagement photos relies on a few things. 

  • First, you want the photos to tell the bride and groom’s story.
  • Secondly, you want photos to capture more than actions. You want them to capture the emotions.
  • Thirdly, choose a backdrop meaningful in some way to the couple. For instance, if the bride and groom enjoy horses, pictures can be taken with an equestrian backdrop and even include a horse or two. Another idea may be something you do together, like baking cookies, or eating a romantic picnic lunch. Or for those planning a vintage themed wedding, a fun photoshoot may include outfits specific to an era and having the photographer include some sepia photos with a backdrop like an old train station or some other historic site. Other ideas include pictures taken in a place special to the couple like where he proposed, where they met, or where they went on their first date.

Whatever concept you plan to go with for your engagement photoshoot, it’s important that both the bride and groom are excited and embrace the idea, because a grumpy or bored participant will not make for good photos.

Monday, June 4, 2018

What Is a Cathedral Wedding Veil and Is It Right for You?

If you watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married you saw a perfect example of a cathedral wedding veil making a regal entrance. In this case, it was a 16-foot silk tulle veil. The terms cathedral and tulle do not refer to the style of her veil but to the length and fabric. The length of a cathedral veil is between 108-120" and it extends beyond the train of the wedding gown.

Silver Crystals Scrolled Scallop-Edge Bridal

Embellishing a Cathedral Veil

Cathedral veils can remain elegantly simple and unadorned, but with all that fabric you have unlimited options of what you can do to embellish your veil if that's what you prefer. 

For instance, Meghan’s veil told a unique story as it included hand embroidered flowers which paid homage to all 53 Commonwealth countries. To make sure the veil remained pristine, those embroidering the flowers were required to wash their hands every 30 minutes.

Probably the most uniquely decorated veil I can think of was the wedding veil worn by Angelina Jolie when she married Brad Pitt. It was embellished with artwork created by her children! 

You may not have someone to hand embroider your wedding veil, but you can find already-embellished cathedral veils with crystals, rhinestones, or sequins, or a cathedral veil with lace, or a two-tier cathedral veil with a blusher accent giving it a romantic vintage look.

Is a Cathedral Right for Your Wedding Dress?

While it may seem romantic to picture yourself walking the aisle wearing a cathedral veil, the real question to ask is whether or not such a long veil is really the right length for your dress and overall look? When buying your wedding veil, test various veils when you go for your first dress fitting. Start shopping for your veil early. You want a veil that complements your dress in flow and design. Often, designers offer veils crafted specifically to be paired with their dresses, so that’s a good place to start looking. If you’re sporting a more informal overall look, it will be better to consider a shorter veil that pops with personality and yet stays true to the look you’re after like a bandeau or blusher, while the cathedral veil lends itself to a more formal traditional look.
Cathedral Veil with Blusher

If you want a long veil, but a cathedral bridal veil is too long, try a chapel wedding veil (90 inches) or a floor-length wedding veil (72 inches). If you don’t find the veil you love, you can always have a veil custom made based on your specifications.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

4 Wedding Traditions in Mexico

Like every culture, wedding traditions in Mexico have evolved over time with a blend of ancient customs from Mayan and Aztec rituals, Spanish customs, as well as the incorporation of modern wedding trends. While things like food, music, wedding dresses, and such elements of weddings vary from one family to another in Mexican tradition, one thing that holds true − the belief that marriage is a pillar of the family. With that said, for today’s post we’ll look and four special wedding traditions popular in Mexico.

Wedding Arras 13 Gold Coins
Wedding Arras

Wedding Arras – 13 Gold Coins

One unforgettable wedding tradition in Mexico is the giving of 13 gold coins known as wedding arras. The roots of this tradition are actually from a Roman tradition of breaking a silver or gold coin in two and giving half to the bride and the other to the groom. This is to symbolize the finding of middle ground in the marriage union.

In the Mexican wedding tradition, the bride receives the wedding arras from the groom. These 13 gold coins are a symbol of trust – that he trusts his bride with his finances. When the bride accepts, she is essentially promising to live up to that financial trust with careful attention and prudence. This traditional gift is customarily offered in an ornate box or on a gift tray which symbolizes good wishes for prosperity. The 13 gold coins are thought to represent Jesus and his 12 apostles and are presented to the priest at the start of the ceremony to be blessed. He then gives them to the groom, who hands them to the best man who gives them back to the priest near the end of the ceremony. In the end, the coins are given to the groom who then presents them to his new wife.

Wedding Lasso
Unique Mexican Wedding Kit

Godparents Serve as Sponsors

Another special custom practiced in the Mexican wedding tradition includes Godparents (Los Padrinos) who serve as sponsors for different facets of the wedding including things like flowers, the cake, and even the bride’s dress, plus they contribute to the cost of the wedding ceremony. The role for the godmother (madrina) includes carrying a wine glass for the toast, and other roles for godparents can involve a prayer book, guestbook, an embroidered kneeling pillow, and a large loop of rosary beads known as the wedding lasso which is used for another wedding tradition as the godparents place it on the couple after they exchange vows.

What Does the Wedding Lasso Tradition Mean?

The wedding lasso tradition represents unity. The godparents place the lasso or lazo around the necks of the couple in an eight-shape configuration which represents infinity and symbolizes the love that binds the couple as they face the shared responsibility of marriage together. It is laid upon the groom’s shoulders fist, and then intertwined to join him to the bride. The lasso is then worn for the remainder of the service, and once it is taken off is presented to the bride as a keepsake that reminds her she has become the mistress of the groom’s heart and home.
Variations of this tradition can include interlacing orange blossoms with the beads which is thought to represent fertility and happiness. In some families, a double wedding lasso is given by one set of the parents.

Delicious Mexican Wedding Cookies

One last Mexican wedding tradition worth mentioning are Mexican wedding cookies known as polvorones. The ingredients in these cookies are very similar to Russian teacakes, or Italian wedding cookies and are made using flour, butter, sugar and ground nuts. These cookies are also known as Mexican wedding cake cookies but their origins date back to medieval Arab according to food historians. No matter where they originated, they are a special treat at any wedding.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

When Did People Start Engraving Wedding Rings?

Engraving wedding rings dates back almost as far as wedding ring history, which can be traced back about 4800 years ago to Ancient Rome. The first rings were made of leather, bone, or ivory, but then transitioned to something more permanent. The newer version of wedding rings presented to the bride were made of iron, and while we may not consider it a precious metal worthy of a wedding ring, back then it represented strength and permanence. However, as I’ve mentioned before, brides of Ancient Rome actually received a second wedding ring made of gold. This is the ring that was to be worn in public. Along with the introduction of wedding rings, the Romans of the day are also said to be the first to engrave wedding rings.

First Inscriptions of Wedding Rings

Wedding rings evolved and the fede ring design of two clasping hands became popular, but within the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages, inscribing images of the couple became a popular practice. Once Christianity became the state religion, rings often depicted Jesus or the cross between the couple which was thought to bless the marriage. In the second half of the Middle Ages, poesy rings became popular, a popularity which stretched from the 5th to 15th century. Engraved rings designed during Medieval times tended to have words engraved on the outside of the band. Latter on, rings sported lettering inside the band.

Common Sayings on Wedding Rings Historically

Rings for the Finger
The original inscriptions found on wedding rings let people dictate what saying to have inscribed, just like we do today. This allowed people to make their rings personal. However, the Victoria & Albert Museum has determined that certain inscriptions appear on multiple rings. It is thought that the goldsmiths probably had a list or book of “stock” phrases that customers could choose from. A 1917 book titled Rings for the Finger by George Kunz includes phrases and words from back then that show words like “honey” and simple phrases like “joy without end” were used, or more elaborate Greek lettering rendered “To her who excels not only in virtue and prudence, but also in wisdom.”

Ideas for Engraving Your Wedding Ring

You can find plenty of ideas for inspiration when it comes to engraving wedding rings. Today Bible verses are a popular choice for engraving wedding rings, but some couples choose funny sayings, or something that has personal meaning for the two of them. Some people choose to include the date of the wedding followed by words like “forever begins.” On a practical level, I have to say, that’s one way you won’t forget your anniversary date. Plus engraving your ring makes it easier to identify if it should happen to become lost or stolen.

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Photo credits: Wikimedia

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

6 Scottish Wedding Traditions You Can Make Your Own

Thinking of planning a Scottish themed wedding? Whether you want to celebrate your Scottish heritage or just want to add a Celtic flair to your wedding, you will find a wealth of Scottish wedding traditions available . Before I get into some of these customs, I have to mention that one tradition historically practiced was a “trial wedding.” This was still a ceremony and was formalized by handfasting, but this trial marriage lasted for one year and a day. When it “expired” the couple chose to get married or to separate. Children produced during this time were considered legitimate, and really it was considered a way to determine the bride’s fertility. Today, many Scottish wedding traditions have evolved to suit modern times. Here are a 6 wedding traditions you can adapt for your own wedding.

The Caim is a prayer of protection for the marriage.

Caim: Prayer of Protection

The caim is a prayer said while the bride and groom stand in a sacred circle at the altar. The purpose of this prayer is protection of the bride and groom at the time of marriage and the circle is thought to symbolize unity, community and a connection to the greater universe. Historically this circle was drawn by a sword or lance around the couple. 

Today, the tradition of cutting the circle has vanished, but the prayer remains and is said as the couple draws a circle around themselves. These caims follow a certain rhyme and meter which gives  the ceremony a more revered feeling. Today’s brides and grooms can create their own prayer just like they write their own wedding vows to make their wedding ceremony more meaningful or can choose a historic celtic prayer if they want to hold on to that historic element.

Oathing Stone

The ancient Celtic tradition of the oathing stone is tied to the origins of the wedding vow. Back then the Celts were tribal people and closely connected to the spirit of the place where they lived. As a result, important vows were made in very precise places and were considered sacred because they believed certain ancestral spirits were associated with these places. This connection was a critical element for gaining a blessing on any new venture including marriage. 

The oathing stone was held by the officiant and represented a way to link the couple with the land as well as those ancestral blessings like a bridge as they said their vows. Today, couples decorate small stones by etching or painting the bride’s and groom’s names or initials or the date of their wedding on the stone. It is thought to root the couple’s future in the wisdom of the past at the beginning of their life together. Then the stone is thrown into a lake or the sea, or can be reverentially placed in a place special to the couple.

Scottish Handfasting Tartan

Handfasting is the Scottish tradition with a couple of meanings. It was used as a way to show an intent to marry (engagement) and part of a betrothal ceremony. But in this case, if the couple had sex following a handfasting ceremony, they were considered married rather than just engaged. As part of the actual wedding ceremony, this tradition of handfasting can also be traced back to the 1500s as part of the Celtic tradition. During this ceremony the guests circled around the bride and groom as they made their vows to one another, and as they did, their hands were gently fastened together using a cord or strip of cloth (preferably a tartan).

3 Other Scottish Wedding Traditions

Standard Kells Pewter Quaich

  • The bride and groom exchange their vows outside the church doors before going inside for the rest of the ceremony.
  • Drinking from the quaich, a two-handled ‘loving cup.’ The couple also drinks from this cup when taking communion together and then they drink from it together during the first toast as a married couple. It represents the couple’s united lives.
  • Throwing of wedding confetti. Today Scottish wedding confetti can consist of paper colored like Tartan plaid and includes shapes like shamrocks.

For those who want to learn even more about Scottish wedding customs, the groom can wear a kilt, you can pin tartans after vows are exchanged, and include bagpipe music. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them.

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Photo credits: pixabay

Monday, April 30, 2018

Scottish Engagement Ring and Other Traditions

In earlier posts I’ve talked about how the wedding engagement ring tradition can be traced back to ancient Romans and even further back to the book of Genesis when rings where given as pledges. Today, we are only going to look back as far as the Middle Ages, when the Scots started their own wedding engagement tradition of giving a fede ring. But unlike today’s practices, these silver Scottish engagement rings weren’t given to the bride-to-be, but instead was handed over to church (kirk)  when making arrangements for proclaiming the marriage. Along with the fede ring, the Scots practiced two other engagement traditions: the giving of the Luckenbooth Brooch and Claddagh Ring.

Fede Ring

Fede Ring

The design of the silver fede ring included two hands which met in a clasp representing friendship, love or betrothal. This design is also historically thought to date back to ancient Rome or before.

Luckenbooth Brooch

The Lukenbooth brooch tradition dates back to the early 1700s when silver and gold smiths sold merchandise in an open market along the Royal Mile, next to to Edinburgh Castle. At this time, open-market stalls were swapped for booths that could be locked after closing, and this is where the name luckenbooth (locked booth) comes from.

The jewelers crafted these brooches with designs including intertwining hearts beneath a crown which symbolized Mary Queen of Scots. Even the hearts often were shaped to create an “M” after the fashion of the Queen’s monogram.
Luckenbooth Brooch

Another wedding tradition included having these brooches engraved with a pledge of love. After the wedding, the bride often tucked the brooch away as a special keepsake. When the union was blessed with a first child, the brooch was pinned to the christening gown or blanket. Then it was tucked away until that firstborn’s own betrothal.

For those in America, an interesting twist on this tradition took place in the 18th century when the Iroquois Indians of North America traded for Luckenbooth brooches!

Today the giving of a Luckenbooth brooch as a token of betrothal is still considered one of the most romantic symbols of love.

Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring was also worn as an engagement ring. In fact, depending on how you wear the Claddagh ring it has different meanings including friendship, betrothal, or marriage. This ring design includes hands meeting (friendship) clasping a heart (love), topped with a crown which represents loyalty. Today this is probably the most popular traditional betrothal gifts exchanged as a token of unfailing love.

Claddagh Ring

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Wedding Flowers and the Superstitions Tied to Them

Wedding traditions are often rooted in superstition. Believe it or not, this even includes wedding flowers. In fact, wedding superstitions linked to flowers can be traced back to ancient Rome, ancient Greece, Asia, and elsewhere around the globe. While some ancient cultures didn’t actually carry or use flowers exactly like we do today, the plants they chose to incorporate in the wedding can be traced back as the precursor of the wedding flowers we have today. Of course, we don’t believe the superstitions they held back then, but isn’t it fun to know where some wedding traditions got started and why?

Wedding Superstitions Associated with Flowers

Among wedding superstitions these are associated with flowers.

  • In ancient Rome, brides carried a bouquet of herbs which symbolized faithfulness and fertility. They believed it warded off evil spirits.
  • In ancient Greece, brides carried ivy, which actually has a history of being a plant of superstition. For instance, ivy growing against the side of a house was believed to keep witches away. The ancient Greeks thought that it prevented drunkenness, and when the bride carried ivy at her weddings it was thought to be a symbol of never-ending love for her spouse.
  • In Victorian times, the bride tossed her wedding bouquet to a friend as she left the celebrations. This practice is still pretty commonplace today, but back then it was thought to keep that friend safe because it warded off evil spirits and brought her luck. This evolved into a tradition of its own as it came to mean that the single woman who caught the bouquet would be next to marry.
    Merigolds were eaten because they were thought to be aphrodisiacs!
  • Brides actually ate the flowers they carried in Tudor England. They traditionally carried marigolds dipped in rosewater which ranged in flavors from spicy or peppery to bitter. The reason they ate them? They were thought to be aphrodisiacs!
  • In the Middle East tradition, a bitter herb called artemisia is included in the bridal bouquet to make certain that marriages will survive the bitter times as well as harmonious times.
  • In Asia, the mothers of brides and grooms in Thailand drape Thai wedding flower garlands around the couple’s shoulders as a wish for good fortune in the life together.
  • In South Asia, at the end of Indian wedding ceremonies, the groom’s brother sprinkles flower petals over the newly married couple to protect them from evil.
     A white rose represents purity.

Wedding Flowers Meaning
In the Victorian era, people were also fascinated by “meanings” of different flowers. This is the time when the idea that the meaning of the rose represented true love became popular. Since then, the rose is a favorite wedding flower, but the meaning has evolved to depend on the flower's color with a white rose representing purity and a pink rose signifying joy.

Crowns of orange blossoms traditionally worn by the bride and groom in a Greek Orthodox wedding were thought to symbolize virginity and purity.

Today various popular wedding flowers are thought to have different meanings. For instance, just the flowers that grow in my front garden include the daffodil which represents new beginnings, the hydrangea which means to consider, and the iris which represents perseverance. Just think, if your creative, your floral arrangements can tell a story all their own on your wedding day!

Photo credits: pixabay, pixabay, Wikimedia