5 Tips to Soothe a Stressed Mother of the Bride

Published on Brides.com on May 22, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

In the throes of wedding planning, it’s easy to forget that you and your soon-to-be spouse aren’t the only ones super stressed. “Wedding planning and the wedding day itself are stressful for not only the couple, but also the mother-of-the-bride,” says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia.

Why? As John Duffy, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent, explains, “just like the bride, her mother has an awful lot to accomplish, and a lot of planning to do, leading up to the wedding day. Along with that, it is important to keep in mind that she has also been envisioning this day for many, many years. It is an important day for her too.”

So in between easing your own anxiety, be sure to take care of your mom, too. Here, our experts suggest five ways you can soothe even the most stressed mother of the bride.

1. Include her in the planning process.
It may seem counterintuitive to ask a stressed-out parent to pitch in. But sometimes a mother-of-the-bride’s stress comes from not knowing what’s going on and feeling pushed aside, Duffy explains. “I worked with a couple recently who, recognizing the anxiety of the mother of the bride, arranged planning meetings with her every few weeks,” he says. “This made her feel like a valued part of the process, and important as well.”

2. Take her on a special shopping trip.
Don’t leave your mother to pick out her wedding day attire alone, warns Fisher. “Your mom may be feeling stressed about what she’s going to wear on the wedding day,” Fisher explains. “She wants to look and feel her best, but also wants her dress to complement your wedding day style. Ease this pressure by planning a special day where the focus is solely on finding her the perfect dress.”

3. Arrange for a spa day for her — and foot the bill.
Duffy says you’ll get bonus points if you pamper your mother before and after the big day. “This way, you’re acknowledging the degree of stress she is and has endured,” he explains, “while also sending a thank you to her for her contribution. She will feel pampered, taken care of, and appreciated. There is no lose here, for anyone.”

4. Include your mother in a wedding-day toast.
If you and your spouse plan to offer up toasts at the reception, be sure to give a shout-out to the mother of the bride, Duffy says. “And don’t let this be a quick thank you among a list,” he says. “Take a beat. Tell a story of how helpful she was when you were stressed, or a funny event that took place during the planning. She will feel appreciated, publicly and clearly, and truly feel more a part of the proceedings than any kind of afterthought.”

5. Be happy yourself.
Says Duffy, “This may seem like an odd or elementary piece of advice, but in my experience, there is nothing that makes a mother of the bride happier and less stressed than to see her daughter, and her future son-in-law, happy. So, come to her to help solve pre-wedding problems and issues, sure — but also go to her when you feel blissful. She is going to want to be a part of that as well.”

6 Talks You and Your Partner Need to Have the Week of the Wedding

Photo by Tara Polly Photography

Published on Brides.com on May 23, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

You may think you’ve talked your wedding to death by the time the week-of rolls around. But you’re not done yet. As Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning, so aptly explains, “communication is important throughout the entire planning process, and especially the week of the wedding.” And here, our experts say, are six talks you must have during those seven days.

1. No wedding talk allowed
There are a million wedding things you’ll need to talk through this week. But none of those conversations will be as important as the ones you have that aren’t about the wedding at all, says Fisher. “Couples should always make time for one another and give themselves an opportunity to clear their minds of anything wedding related,” she says. “Whether it’s going out to lunch during the work week, cooking something new together for dinner, or going for a walk, a change of pace can lead to a simple conversation that reminds a couple what is most important: enjoying each other’s company. While the wedding may seem top priority, your life after is what matters most, so continue to tell and show your fiancé how much you love him or her.”

2. Your last-minute to-do list
In the week before your wedding, you’ll likely have several last-minute errands to run. Think: Turning in seating charts, dropping off final payments, picking up rental attire, and passing along final head counts, says Aviva Samuels owner of Kiss the Plannerin Palm Beach, Florida. “Who will handle these tasks?” she asks. “They need to be clarified so that common wedding jitters don’t reach all new heights.”

Not only that, but Fisher adds that tackling your last-minute to-do list together will help you ensure that “you aren’t duplicating efforts or forgetting anything while assuming the other is taking care of it.” Plus, she says, “it’s also a good opportunity to make sure that the workload isn’t lopsided and to discuss how you can help each other. There are plenty projects that you can do together such as wrapping gifts, printing programs, or assembling welcome bags.”

3. The wedding-day timeline
You’ve made your timeline and checked it twice. But are you both on the same page with who needs to be where, when? “The week of the wedding, couples should review their wedding day timeline, specifically the time spent with the wedding party before the ceremony,” Fisher says. “Bridesmaids will be asking what time to report for hair and makeup. The groomsmen need to know when they should be dressed and ready for photos. Review the game plan together as a couple, so you’re communicating the correct information and everyone is on the same page.”

4. Vendor gratuities
One money item you must talk about the week of your wedding is vendor gratuities. “After reviewing contracts to make sure gratuity isn’t already included, couples should decide who they want to tip and how much,” says Fisher. “They should then set aside the gratuities in sealed, labeled envelopes and designate a person to distribute them, making it one less thing on their minds the day of the wedding. Couples should also include a heartfelt, handwritten thank you note for those vendors who went above and beyond throughout the planning process. Kind words from the couple will be appreciated just as much as the tip itself.”

5. Wedding-day expectations
Use the week before your wedding to set yourself up for wedding-day success. “This is a good time to address your expectations for the wedding day itself, if you haven’t already done so,” says Samuels, who especially recommends discussing how much alone time you plan to fit in. “Private time can be carved out after the ceremony and before the reception begins. You might choose to sneak away to refresh and have a few bites before joining your guests, or you might not want to waste a minute of the reception apart from your family and friends. Each of you might have a different idea and discussing it in advance will be helpful.”

6. Your emotions
Lastly, says Fisher, you should get real about how both of you are feeling as your wedding day approaches. “The week of the wedding, couples should have a general check in to talk about how they’re each feeling, what’s on their minds, and what, if anything, is causing them stress,” she says. “Hearing how excited your fiancé is feeling may ease your nerves. There may be a problem that you’re unaware of, but able to help solve. And sometimes it just feels good to vent and get it all out. Communication is key in all relationships, but extra important the week of the wedding.”

The (Instagram) Stress is Real: How to Deal With Social Media Pressure When Planning Your Wedding

Photo by Elizabeth Messina
Published on Brides.com on May 29, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

While we often use it for inspiration to create a killer party, “social media, and especially Instagram, has become an added stress for couples planning their weddings,” says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “Couples feel more pressure to create Instagram-worthy weddings like the ones they see online.” But you can fight social media stress and still create a gorgeous wedding with these expert tips.

Keep it real.
Says Fisher, “When looking at weddings on Instagram, remember that they often aren’t real or budgeted for reality.” Rather, she says, much of what you see on this social site comes from styled shoots. “So use them as inspiration, not as something you’re trying to copy or recreate,” Fisher suggests. “For example, you may see a couple beautifully posed on an antique sofa set on the edge of a cliff. You many not have a cliff side venue, but you can still set up a lounge with vintage furniture, which can double as a photo backdrop. It’s about taking inspiration from these photo shoots and applying them to your wedding in your own unique way.”

Put it into perspective.
You’re probably not having a wedding to keep up with the Joneses you don’t know. So, says Aviva Samuels, owner of Kiss the Planner in Palm Beach, Florida, “remind yourself of the reasons that you are having this wedding. Is it to impress your friends and family, or to be able to celebrate finding your soul mate for life? If you can stay focused on the joy that you are feeling, rather than getting caught up in what others are thinking or going to say, you won’t have to succumb to the pressure of having the perfect wedding with every perfect detail. Putting it into perspective is really helpful when it comes to having the perfect day.”

Focus on your wedding, not someone else’s.
So you love that someone else served gourmet sliders as a late-night snack. But you can love it, says Fisher, without having to recreate it. “Prioritize a few thoughtful and genuine details, instead of overdoing it with details that don’t make sense to you as a couple,” she suggests. “For example, you don’t need to have a food truck because you’ve seen them on Instagram weddings and want to be on trend. But if you had your first date at a food truck or it’s where you two go for lunch every Saturday, it makes sense to incorporate it into your wedding day.”

Trust your decisions.
Your Instagram feed is filled-to-the-brim with wedding gorgeousness. And, says Fisher, “it’s easy to second-guess everything when you’re bombarded with an endless supply beautiful weddings and cool details on Instagram. But trust that you made the right choice the first time and don’t let these images sway your vision or decisions.”

Hire a professional.
Finally, if you do truly won’t be happy unless you have an Instagram-worthy wedding, then “hire a professional to alleviate some of the stress that goes along with all the details,” suggests Samuels. “Even if you have a lots of creative ideas, you might not have the skills or the time to implement those ideas and you wouldn’t want the added pressure to add to your stress. A planner can alleviate a lot of the headaches that comes with logistical challenges and a designer can alleviate the pressure you might feel when trying to design your wedding on your own.”

What You Can Start Planning Before He Pops the Question

Published on Brides.com on September 29, 2015 by Jillian Kramer

You don’t have a ring — but you know it’s coming. And as a practical person, you’re itching to plan even before your significant other pops the question. So we asked wedding experts which wedding plans are safe to get a head start on. After all, says Minneapolis-based Blush & Whim owner Jennae Saltzman, “being prepared will make a naturally stressful time so much more fun and relaxing.”

1. Your budget.
If you know a proposal is all but imminent, it’s likely you’ve discussed your future with your significant other. So continue the conversation with him or her and your family members to see what a realistic budget might be for your big day. “Think about it: You wouldn’t buy a house, car, or make any type of big purchase or investment without knowing what you want to spend,” points out Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “Why would a wedding be any different?”

2. How many guests you’d like to attend.
Now’s not the time to collect an exact head-count, but it’s smart to “get a rough idea on how big your event is going to be,” says Saltzman. “It’s easy to forget that your parents and in-laws will have their own list in addition to yours, so start the conversation and get people thinking about who they want to include on the master list.”

3. What your dream wedding would look like.
Asks Fisher, “Do you picture an outdoor ceremony or getting married in a church? Are you thinking winter, spring, summer, or fall? Do you want a wedding that feels modern, traditional, rustic, or vintage?” If you can answer these questions now, you’ll have a clear vision to execute when the time comes. Keep all your ideas handy in a Pinterest board, Fisher suggests, but “if you don’t want friends and family asking questions, make those boards private until he pops the question.”

4. Checking your dream venue’s availability.
Popular venues sometimes book up years in advance, especially in summer months. So “if you have a specific time frame or date you are hoping for, you better start looking up your dream venues to see if they are even available,” Saltzman advises. “If you know before you have a ring on your finger, you can save yourself the disappointment of not getting the date you want. Flexibility is key in wedding planning, so it’s always good to be well informed on what is and isn’t available.”

5. Which wedding dress you’ll buy.
It’s A-OK to flip through bridal magazines and wedding blogs in search of the style you think you’ll rock down the aisle. “Your dress will dictate a lot of design related items,” explains Saltzman, “so it’s good to start researching early.” Just don’t try anything on quite yet!

Finally, don’t go overboard with good intentions of getting ahead. Remember, says Fisher, “a wedding is about the couple, so if you’ve gotten a head start on the planning without your significant other, welcome his or her input when the time comes.” It’s also smart not to drag your partner into pre-planning if he or she isn’t willing or ready. “There’s nothing worse than stressing out your partner before you have a ring on your finger,” says Saltzman. “It’s always good to be informed and prepared, but don’t go crazy. Use the time as more of an informative period, instead of a decision-making time.”

7 Wedding Guest Etiquette Rules That Should Totally Be Broken

Photo by Sylvie Gil Photography

Published on Brides.com June 20, 2017 by Jillian Kramer

With weddings come rules. But, “as the wedding guest etiquette changes with modern society a few of the steadfast rules for wedding guests are changing as well,” says Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events and cofounder of the Poppy Group. And with that in mind, here are seven wedding guest rules you totally can and should break. The couple may even thank you.

1. Bringing a Gift to the Wedding
According Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Philadelphia-based Two Little Birds Planning, many couples actually prefer guests not bring a physical gift to their wedding, and would rather you ship their presents directly to their homes, before or even after the big day. “It’s one less thing that guests need to bring, and one less thing that couples need to pack up at the end of the reception,” Fisher explains.

2. Requesting Songs
Sure, the couple probably provided their DJ with a must-play list, and they probably have a style or genre to which they like to stick. “But that doesn’t mean a guest can’t make a request of the DJ,” says Nichols. “It’s up to the DJ to filter that request through the client’s wish list to see if it’s a fit and to determine when the best time to play that song might be. Remember, it’s only a request, and there’s nothing wrong with asking.”

3. Wearing Black
In the past, wearing black was associated with being in mourning—not exactly the message guests typically want to send to a bride and groom on the happiest days of their lives. “But that school of thought is outdated,” says Fisher. “Black is classic, fashionable, and chic!”

4. And Maybe Even White
This has been a non-negotiable rule for eons, and it can definitely be a major horror for some brides. But, Nichols says, “there are actually a surprising amount of weddings that are going all-white, and we’re even seeing brides wearing a pop of color and the bridesmaids wearing white.” Even if the bride isn’t hosting an all-white soirée, “it’s pretty safe to assume that white espadrilles or cream-colored linen dresses would be perfectly acceptable,” says Nichols. “Just don’t wear anything that screams bridal.”

5. Choosing a Side
Years ago, guests were ushered to one side of the aisle if they were the bride’s guest, and the opposite side if they were friends with the groom. But, “it’s no longer necessary for the bride’s guests to sit on one side and the groom’s guests to sit on the other,” says Fisher. “These days, mixed seating is OK. Not sitting on specific sides is a great way for guests to mingle and get to know each other.”

6. Enjoying the Extras
Asks Nichols, “Did the bride and groom hire a food truck for late night arrival? Guests may probably be starving from all of that dancing and need to soak up some of the alcohol,” so they will most likely dig in. Same goes for an open bar, if you have one. “There is nothing more upsetting to the couple than hearing that only half of the guests they paid for partook in the special surprise they had invested in and painstakingly planned for you,” she explains. So guests, enjoy yourselves!

7. Leaving Before the Bride and Groom
Barring a special and planned exit, you don’t actually have to stay at the reception until after the bride and groom depart. “With fewer couples planning an official exit and more couples staying on the dance floor until the very last song, it’s not expected that all guests stay past the newlyweds,” says Fisher. “It is, however, best to stay until after cake cutting.”

3 Wedding Planning Moments You Should Celebrate

Published on Brides.com on November 30, 2015 by Jillian Kramer

Wedding planning can feel like one long to-do list, you’re just anxious to check off and get through. However, “it’s important to not just go through the motions of wedding planning,” says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. “While planning can get overwhelming or stressful at times, celebrating milestones is a great way to spend time with your partner, and not take your love or the planning process for granted.”

So as you select your menu, stuff your welcome bags, and pay your final bills, be sure to also pause to celebrate these three planning moments.

1. Finding The One.
Finding the one wedding dress that makes you feel like a million dollars is cause for celebration. “It’s often a moment that brides think about long before they’re even engaged,” says Fisher. “Putting on that gown is what actually makes a lot of brides feel like a bride.” You can celebrate this special moment, Fisher suggest, by taking the women who helped you slip on-and-off a dozen dresses, out to brunch. “This allows time to bask in the excitement and thank those who helped get you there,” she says.

2. Booking your honeymoon.
Many couples are more excited to escape to the Italian Riviera or fly above an active Hawaiian volcano than they are to get down on their dance floor, and that is for good reason. “It’s the first adventure you’re taking as husband and wife,” explains Fisher. Consider celebrating this planned milestone with a coordinating cocktail or snack, Fisher suggests. Think, saying cheers to your Mexican honeymoon over margaritas or nibbling on kalamata olives ahead of your Grecian getaway.

3. Selecting your first dance song.
Fact: “Your first dance song will forever be a special song,” says Fisher. Every time you hear it after you take that first twirl you’re sure to smile. Celebrate this musical accomplishment with “a spin around your kitchen,” suggests Fisher. “There’s nothing more romantic than dancing at home with your love.” Plus, its just good practice for your big day.

6 Things You Must Do If You’re Throwing an Adults-Only Wedding

Photo by Shari and Mike Photographers

Published on Brides.com on January 15, 2016 by Jillian Kramer

You could be throwing an adults-only fete for any number of reasons. But whatever your rationale, now you have certain steps you must take to enforce your no-kids rule and keep your guests in the know.

You could be throwing an adults-only wedding for any number of reasons, but whatever your rationale, now you have certain steps you must take to enforce your no-kids rule and keep your guests in the know. Here, our experts reveal six things you must do to pull off an adults-only wedding.

1. Make your age-restrictions clear from the get-go.
Spread the word early that your wedding will be adults-only, suggests says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. When you send out your official invitations, “couples should make it clear that their wedding is adults-only by addressing invitations with only the names of those who are invited,” she says. “This way, guests with children won’t assume that the entire family can come.”

2. Use your family and wedding party to spread the word.
You don’t have to deliver the news solo, Fisher says. “Use your family and wedding party to help spread the word, especially at pre-wedding events like the bridal shower,” she suggests. With a team working to get the word out, you won’t have to go as far as to print “adults-only” on your invitations, she points out.

3. Add the information to your wedding website.
Because you aren’t hitting your guests over the head with your adults-only requirement on your invitations, it’s best to be specific on your wedding website, says Sarah Glick, wedding planner at Brilliant Event Planning in New York City. There, you can add any information related to childcare services, too. “I find that parents tend to accept this a little better when childcare alternatives are suggested on the site,” says Glick. For example, write: “In order to ensure everyone has as much fun as possible, our wedding is adults-only. However, below are the names and contact information of some highly-qualified sitters who live in the area and are available.'” Taking the research out of childcare, says Glick, “makes it easy for parents to have an alternative. Plus, it means that no one has an excuse for not being able to find childcare!”

4. Be discreet with any exceptions.
Any exceptions, including those made for yourself and your closest family members, should be done on the down-low, Fisher says. “I worked with a bride whose cousin had just had a baby,” Fisher recalls. “Since it was an adults-only wedding, we had a sitter watching the newborn in the bridal suite. Guests were none the wiser, so those with kids who weren’t invited weren’t offended.”

5. Don’t assume your guests will be disgruntled.
You may feel guilt over your decision. But both Fisher and Glick say you shouldn’t. “Couples don’t need to go out of their way to explain their decision to guests with kids,” says Fisher. “Couples shouldn’t assume that all parents will be offended if the entire family didn’t make the guest list.” Not only that, but Glick points out that parents may welcome your wedding as a date night. “Your friends will have a good time without their kids,” she says. “When kids aren’t permitted, parents don’t have to feel guilty about choosing to not include them.”

6. Stick to your guns.
“If there is a miscommunication and guests assume that their kids are invited, the couple should call them,” says Fisher, rather than waiting for any further fallout. “It’s a sensitive topic and something that should be addressed directly,” she explains. But no matter what, “don’t back down on your decision. Use this as an opportunity to explain why it’s adults-only — you can always blame the budget or venue capacity — and offer childcare options.”