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Wedding Tips from Couples Just Like You

The very best tips for planning your wedding usually come from friends, family and other couples. -Sharing their recent experiences, others can provide helpful insights that are hands-on, thoughtful and really well targeted. Read on for a few comments from some of the couples we've recently met at RainbowWeddingNetwork's LGBTQ+ Wedding Expos, or through our lively FB group!

 

"We are big gardeners, so we had a very rustic look to our wedding: lots of wildflowers for decor, my wife's dress was accented with lily-of-the-valley embroidery work... The reception decor was so rustic, with little corners at the venue set with comfy chairs and chalkboard signs, etc. This barn-style venue offered long wooden tables with a family-style dinner, and again, lots of mason jars of wildflowers on the tables (and everywhere, honestly!)  But the unique part was that instead of traditional gifts, we requested that our guests donate to a fund to help us rebuild the garden in our yard, and for additional landscaping projects. We had recently bought a new home and this idea was just such a wonderful fit for us - made our wedding even that much more personalized and memorable: every time we work in our newly refurbished garden area, we think of Our Special Day, and all our loved ones who helped us feather our nest!"

-Janice & Kaitlin

 

"We needed a way to include out-of-towners so a live stream of our wedding ceremony and a bit of our reception made sense. We made a point to notify those family members who refused to attend (b/c they didn't support our marriage) and we notified them in a couple of different ways, hoping they would tune in. Some of them did! It meant a lot to us."

-Graham & Alyx

 

"Handcrafting our own wedding bands was an incredibly meaningful experience!  Highly recommend finding a craftsperson or jeweler who will work with you and provide you with this opportunity.  You and your fiancee will bond over this experience more than you realize, cherish the memories forever, and the wedding rings will be that much more customized."

-Jason & Derrick

 

"Not big cake people!! So we had an ice cream bar instead, with a variety of flavors from the traditional and the whimsical (cookie dough, rainbow sprinkles...) to the more refined such as mango and pineapple, etc. We also offered drunken sorbet (Nieve de Garrafa, really... The Sparkling Wine-spiked Coconut Passionfruit sorbet was to die for!)... Instead of the traditional cake-cutting ceremony to top off the festivities at the reception, we instead gathered everyone in front of the ice cream bar, opened a fresh bottle of champagne, and toasted each other. We even said a few words to each other that we hadn't gotten a chance to say during our vows (bc we're kind of chatty that way). It was really touching and no one missed the cake, I assure you!!"

-KC & Daniela

 

"We wanted to get playful with our guests so going with a theme wedding was the right choice for us.  We invited everyone to dress up to fit in with the theme (vintage, 1920's, plus hints of rainbow) and it really made things a lot of fun. One of the interactive games we played was 'Guess Who' to help guests circulate and chat with each other, and they had to take selfies throughout the game - it really worked out so well!"

-Hayleigh & Marche

 

"I think finding a way to include all the kids who attended in the ceremony helped them own the event a little bit, and helped them stay calm and focused throughout the rest of the wedding. What we did was give each of our nieces, nephews, friends' children (who wanted to participate) a basket of goodies to hand out to the seated guests as they waited for the ceremony to begin. Each basket contained either a fabric bag of flower petals, bubbles, one of our programs or a keepsake favor (a small magnet with our engagement photo and our newly chosen surname: 'Cheers from The Pelhams!' ...The kids enjoyed taking part, the guests loved seeing them wander through the aisles, and it made for some adorable photos."

-Adam & Danny

 

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Have a tip you'd like to share?  Share your story & insights anytime - our readers will love hearing all about it!

 

 

Embrace the Fun and Individuality: Why a Themed Wedding is a Wonderful Choice

Weddings are a celebration of love, commitment, and the beginning of a beautiful journey together. While traditional weddings hold a timeless charm, an increasing number of couples are opting for themed weddings to infuse their special day with extra personality and excitement. In this article, we explore why a themed wedding can be a fantastic choice, allowing couples to showcase their unique style, create unforgettable memories, and delight guests with an immersive experience.

1. Expression of Individuality:
Themed weddings provide a platform for couples to express their true selves and embrace their passions. Whether it's a fairy tale inspired by favorite storybooks, a nod to a beloved fandom, or a celebration of a shared interest, a themed wedding allows couples to showcase their personalities in a creative and unique way. It creates a memorable experience that reflects who they are as individuals and as a couple.

2. Unforgettable Atmosphere:
When you choose a theme for your wedding, you transform the venue into a world of its own. From decorations to attire, everything is carefully planned to create an immersive experience for everyone involved. Guests will feel transported to a different time, place, or story, providing them with a sense of enchantment and excitement. The carefully curated ambiance ensures that your wedding becomes an unforgettable event that guests will talk about fondly for years to come.

3. Enhanced Guest Experience:
Themed weddings inject a sense of fun and anticipation into the guest experience. Just think of the joy on your loved ones' faces as they receive unique and personalized invitations that set the tone for the theme. A themed wedding allows guests to fully immerse themselves in the celebration, encouraging them to dress up in accordance with the theme, participate in themed activities, and even enjoy cuisine inspired by the chosen theme. Such an interactive and engaging experience keeps guests thoroughly entertained and creates lasting memories for everyone involved.

4. Enhanced Decor and Design Opportunities:
Themed weddings offer couples limitless creative opportunities when it comes to decor and design. Be it a rustic, vintage, beach, or fantasy-themed wedding, the possibilities are endless. From customized centerpieces and table settings to unique lighting and backdrops, a themed wedding allows you to bring your vision to life in a way that traditional weddings cannot. It also provides an opportunity to incorporate personalized and sentimental elements that hold special meaning to you as a couple.

5. A Day to Remember:
The ultimate goal of any wedding is to create a day that is uniquely yours, filled with joy, laughter, and unforgettable moments. Themed weddings provide the perfect canvas for achieving this, as they allow you to curate an experience that reflects your interests and passions. Whether it's the surprise element of a superhero themed reception or the whimsical charm of a Harry Potter-inspired ceremony, a themed wedding will ensure that your special day is etched in the memories of all who attend.

In a world where individuality and self-expression are encouraged, themed weddings have become a popular choice for couples. The ability to exhibit personal style, create an unforgettable atmosphere, provide an immersive experience for guests, and unleash your creativity in design and decor are just a few reasons why themed weddings are a wonderful choice. So, don't be afraid to step outside the boundaries of tradition and embark on an enchanting journey that is uniquely yours. Embrace the fun and individuality of a themed wedding, and let your love story come alive in a celebration that will be cherished by all.

Building a United Financial Future: Strategies for Newlywed Couples to Achieve Success

Laying a strong financial foundation is essential for a happy and successful marriage, emphasizing the importance of effective money management. Implementing strategic financial practices allows you to navigate your shared finances with confidence and unity. Together, you'll discover the keys to managing your money effectively, ensuring a future filled with happiness and success. By adopting these strategies, your journey will be marked by financial security and mutual prosperity.


Harmonizing Financial Visions
Discussing your dreams and how you envision your future together is a beautiful starting point. Whether dreaming of a cozy home filled with laughter, adventures in far-off lands, or a secure, comfortable retirement, sharing these visions brings you closer. It’s about more than just listing desires; it’s about understanding each other's values and finding common ground where your financial paths align. This unity in purpose is your first step toward a future crafted by both of you, for both of you.


Elevating Earnings Through Education
Consider furthering your education to amplify your earning potential. For instance, get your computer science degree online to learn about networking, cybersecurity, and cloud computing and significantly boost your career prospects. This investment in personal growth enriches your professional path and solidifies your financial base. It empowers you to chase your dreams with more resources and confidence. Together, you strengthen not just your careers but also the financial durability of your partnership.


Fostering Financial Transparency
Creating a space where you can openly discuss your financial situations is crucial. Sharing details about incomes, expenses, and debts demystifies financial management and builds a foundation of trust. This transparency is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, where both feel safe to express their concerns, aspirations, and achievements, fostering a partnership where financial decisions are made together.


Laying the Foundations for Homeownership
Embarking on the journey to homeownership is a significant milestone. By starting to save early for a down payment, you're taking a proactive step toward realizing this dream. Understanding the home-buying process together ensures you're both informed and prepared to make decisions that will affect your future, turning the dream of a shared home into reality.

DID YOU KNOW...??  The Biden Administration has found many ways to support equality, including priorities within HUD particularly for prospective new homeowners!
https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/housing_discrimination_and_persons_identifying_lgbtq


Sharing Expenses Fairly
Establishing a fair and equitable system for managing expenses acknowledges the unique financial situation of each partner. It’s about finding a balance that respects both contributions, regardless of disparity in earnings, ensuring that no one feels overburdened. This approach to shared financial responsibility strengthens your partnership, ensuring that both feel valued and supported.


Cultivating Wise Spending Practices
Exploring ways to optimize your spending can transform your financial landscape. By adopting smart budgeting techniques, planning meals, and leveraging discounts, you can enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle while nurturing your savings. These habits are about making informed choices that reflect your values and priorities as a couple, ensuring that every dollar spent brings you closer to your shared goals.


Establishing a Safety Net
Building an emergency fund is like creating a safety net for your future. This fund, designed to cover several months of living expenses, ensures that you're prepared for life's unexpected turns. By prioritizing this financial cushion, you protect your dreams and the life you're building together from unforeseen challenges.


Investing in Your Joint Future
Securing your long-term financial well-being involves making informed investments. Whether it's contributing to retirement accounts or exploring other investment avenues, these steps are about planting seeds for a future that blossoms with security and prosperity. Together, you're not just investing money; you're investing in your shared dreams and the life you envision together.

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Align your financial goals and boost your earning potential through education, setting a foundation for prosperity and happiness. Enhance your relationship with open communication about money, fostering understanding and support. By managing your finances together, you're not just securing your future but also crafting a legacy of love and partnership. These strategies ensure a journey filled with financial harmony and shared dreams.

Plan your dream LGBTQ+ wedding with an extensive list of friendly vendors and expos from Rainbow Wedding Network.   ...And invite your wedding guests to help contribute to your Dream Honeymoon, setting the foundation for a future together built on financial choices that are both sensible and FUN!

 

 

Quick Tips - Little Things to Bring Along for The Big Day

Your Wedding Day is finally here!!

A few quick tips to keep in mind as you prep for Your Special Day:

*Pack a small bag, backpack or even a small suitcase - it is so convenient to have one place to keep things like your wallet, keys, phone, speeches, vows, notes, vendor phone numbers, travel itinerary, etc. Don't forget the phone chargers or extra camera batteries!

*Don't forget any necessary garment bags or apparel accessories! Hat? Suspenders?

*Remember to pack an assortment of 'just-in-case' items, such as safety pins, hair accessories if necessary, comb/brush, mirror, extra make-up, cologne, bottled water, small snack items, breath mints. It's also good to consider bringing a minimal amount of first aid items - you never know when a small bandaid or pain reliever might be needed!

Other things to consider bringing along:

*planner book w phone numbers, timeline and notes
*guest list
*copy of event insurance
*extra earrings, in case one gets lost or misplaced
*an extra tie
*extra set of nylons or hose, in case of tears
*checkbook, if applicable
*additional personal care items, as may be needed
*favorite essential oils
*sewing kit
*stain remover
*extra guitar strings or other applicable items
*scissors (you never know!)
*a lighter
*masking or duct tape (a lesbian must-have!)
*umbrellas
*jacket or wrap

*Remember to bring along any of those special Gift Bags or Cards that you've bought in advance for your officiant, special guests or attendants, or for your Sweetie!

*Do you plan to incorporate a special Bible or other keepsake item into the ceremony? Special champagne flutes or cake server? Guest Book? Is it all ready to go?

*Rings or ring pillow?

*Apparel you'll change in to for the reception? Comfortable shoes for later?

*Vows? If you hand-wrote these and your officiant is not responsible for your copy... be sure you have it on the Big Day! And what about the marriage certificate? -Usually your officiant will handle all the legal documents, but it's good to be sure!

*Pets involved with the ceremony? Is there a bag of supplies ready to go?

*Special Signs or other Decor Items?

*Caketopper? Has this already been provided to your cake provider... or not??

*Any Keepsakes or Favors you need to take along? And bring along some extra Invitations and Programs... to hand out as keepsakes if necessary.

*Snack items can be wonderful during the upcoming hectic schedule, to help settle a nervous tummy or thwart a stress headache. And if you pick just the right granola bar or favorite munchie, you can rest assured it will be on hand just when you need it... Even a preferred type of tea bag or soft drink isn't a bad idea! Be sure to pick out an assortment, and keep in mind that you'll want something with a low-mess factor. -Bring extras if possible, for attendants or your Sweetie!

*Honeymoon Luggage? Taking off immediately after your wedding? Don't forget your bags, passport, etc!

HAVE A WONDERFUL ...and ease-y... CELEBRATION!!

Choosing Your Ideal Reception Venue

For many couples, picking out their Reception Venue is the keystone to getting a real jumpstart on their wedding plans. After all, you must make sure of the place and time in order to begin filling in all those other vital details, such as how many guests can be invited... what type of theme, colors or decor fit in just right... whether or not you'll have in-house catering or hire elsewhere... And something about making that final selection about your Venue helps many of the other planning decisions just start to domino in to place.

Read on for helpful insights and tips about what considerations are best to keep in mind as you make this all-important decision: How to Choose Your Ideal Reception Venue!

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Prioritize what you really want in a Venue.

This is a conversation to have with your partner, as well as your wedding planner and perhaps anyone else who is integral to helping put together the details of Your Special Day. Take time to review and update this list several times throughout the early planning stages!

*Budget
*Indoor / Outdoor Facilities
*Does their Fee include All Amenities, or will you have to rent tables, linens, decor etc...
*In-House Caterer? Does their food suit your tastes and preferences?
*In-House Baker?
*In-House Planner?
*Robust List of Preferred Vendors?  Are they screened to be LGBTQ+ friendly?
*Worked with LGBTQ+ Couples Before?
*What is their Deposit amount? Is it refundable (partially or in full) in case of date changes? What is the payment schedule, and when is the full amount due?
*What specifics do they outline with regard to Decor Options; are there limitations?
*What insurance do they require from you / from participating vendors?

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In the beginning... Keep things casual!

Try not to get your hearts set on one particular Venue, especially in the early days of planning. Instead, have some less formal conversations with each other and with friends and family about the celebration you envision... Let the FUN be the focus as you begin preliminary research into Venue options. Browse online not just for specifics, but look at imagery and think about what qualities are important to you with regard to the backdrop for your reception. Is your celebration rustic, or high-tech? Where will the two of you sit during the celebration, and what does that look like? -Will you be at a Head Table, at one of many large rounds, or alongside your guests at a long communal dinner table? Will your party include dancing and how large a dance floor will that be? Will there be separate areas for interactive food stations or interactive party activities (such as a more private kids' area, or an artsy table dedicated to creating keepsakes?...)

Create a few brainstorming pages in your planning notebook, simply about the QUALITIES you are most drawn to in a venue... The details about location, rates, etc will be something to consider a little later on!

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Preliminary Research & NETWORKING

Ask other vendors and wedding professionals what venues they LOVE working with... Even if you haven't booked a vendor yet, as you interview with them or meet them out in passing, go ahead and inquire about their input and referrals! They are usually happy to share their experience and insights. Be sure to also ask other couples, family and friends, especially those recently married, or those who have attended or helped organize either corporate or large social events.

Pay attention to the details they offer: which venue's staff is super-welcoming and accommodating... Which are the best communicators... Any hiccups with scheduling? Be bold and ask which venues they would NOT recommend as well. That's important information!

Browse Online Resources: It's great (and really helpful!) to check out LGBTQ+ friendly listings of wedding professionals (such as ours, online at www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com) However... as you begin researching options, consider expanding how you find the Venues in the first place. Search for community events, and check out which facility hosted. For instance, where was the recent Pride After-Party? What venue has ongoing tea dances for the community? Do you see that one brand name keeps coming up in your searches as particularly supportive of the community? Which venues have LGBTQ+ welcoming badges, language and graphics on their websites and promo materials?

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Quick Tips from the Pros...

*Choose the venue that speaks to YOU. Don't select a venue because someone else wants you to. And if selecting an outdoor venue, be sure they have a "plan B" that you like as much as the outdoor venue. Also, remember that price isn't everything....you have to connect with your venue contact, otherwise the process will not be a fun one!"

Sandi Franklin, Director of Catering
Hilton Atlanta Northeast / 5993 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. / Ptree Corners, GA 30092-3416
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/atlhphf-hilton-atlanta-northeast/

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Online Directories

Remember, there are several online resources nowadays that offer listings of vendors that are actively supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Why not use these, instead of more generic websites? That way you and your fiancee can rest assured that the vendors you're considering are known to uphold a policy of non-discrimination... and that they are eager to welcome you and your event with joyfulness, respect and professionalism.

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Yep, lean on those REVIEWS...

-Learning from others' experiences is so very convenient & informative! Scour for reviews... don't just rely on the ones that are easy to find. Dig deep, and read many so that you can make discerning inferences. Take time to read into the less obvious details for insghtful clues about what it will really be like to work with a particular venue's staff.

Are there any notes about ways this particular venue's team made an event seamless? Look for the good stuff, not just the criticisms... and if those successes match up with priorities you also have, that goes a long way to telling you this venue might just be a perfect fit!

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Important QUESTIONS to ASK...

When you meet face-to-face with the staff at a Venue, be prepared with several questions. You want to treat this like an interview and make sure it is, in fact, a good fit for your celebration!

**Basic Facts:
How many people can the venue accommodate? How many hours does your rental package include? How far out should I book if I want a particular date? What is your fee schedule and what is your refund policy? How many weddings take place at your venue on any given day? Are there any restrictions, including decor restrictions? Do you have liability insurance, or do we purchase our own? Can we hire any outside wedding vendors, or are there limitations? Can you tell me what vendor set-up, load-in and load-out is like at your venue? Are certain features and furniture items that we can rearrange for our celebration?

*In-house wedding planning team, coordinator or other key players?
Be sure you meet with them also, and that you're assured the ones you actually meet are the point-people who will stay with you through the entire process leading up to your wedding date. You want to minimize staff changes, simply so you feel comfortable that your needs and requests are not being overlooked... and so that you can remain at ease knowing that whomever you are working with is LGBTQ+ friendly.

*Difference between PLANNING for and EXECUTION of your event.
Succesfully seing your wedding celebration through from the preliminary stages of planning, all the way to the wonderful Special Day, involves a lot of elements. And it's true that some wedding pros are really great at planning, and some are really great at pulling together all those details and making everything happen the day-of. Quiz your Venue staff in ways that help you gather information about the particulars they provide both during the early stages of planning, mid-stages, just prior to your event, and the day-of. Try to get specific about how much time they are willing to be available for you, especially the two weeks prior to your ceremony date: you want to be sure they are going to make you and your celebration a priority!

*Do you offer an all-inclusive Fee Package?
When working with a Venue, depending on the various amenities, you might find yourself responsible for gratuities, bartenders' fees, additional charges for access to the couples' suite, plus there will be service fees and taxes. Ask about all this, and request to see an itemized sample bill so you are as informed as possible. You want to be sure your choice in Venues fits in your budget - this will alleviate undue stress and ensure that the rest of your planning details can be handled without cutting corners.

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Quick Tips from the Pros...

One thing I tell my clients when they visit our venue is "prepare to go out to a meal afterward (breakfast, lunch, dinner doesn't matter)." This gives time to immediately talk over what you did and did not like about the venue as well as if the banquet manager drove you crazy, you may need a glass of wine, beer or even a shot lol. -Taking time to sit down and talk things through, make notes, etc will ensure that you recall all the important pros and cons of the particular location as you consider and move forward with your plans.
LisaLynn Mauriello, general manager
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Renaissance Event Hall
27-34 21st Street / Long Island City, NY 11102
www.renaissanceeventhall.com

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COMMUNICATION STYLES

When meeting with the staff at the Venues you're considering, listen to what they're sharing with you... Are they keeping details sparse, or boring...? Are they asking the two of you questions, so they can really get a sense of your plans? Are they inviting and eliciting ideas from you, to help expand and build on your vision; helping to build the excitement? All of these point to how your relationship with this Venue will unfold... Keep these important communication styles in mind as you consider booking: you definitely want to feel at ease dialoguing with your on-site Venue team!

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Wedding Expos

Keep in mind that many of the traditional bridal fairs won't be as welcoming to LGBTQ+ couples, but keep an eye out for events in your area that seem promising. Attend a few: you never know what great connections you might make! And when you do find a wedding professional you resonate with, be sure to ask them a few questions about referrals to Venues as well as other types of wedding providers. Their experience can really help point you in helpful directions!

Remember, RainbowWeddingNetwork.com has been producing an ongoing National Tour of LGBTQ+ Wedding Expos since 2003! Our team has visited 37 states and produced well over 300 events since that time. Each and every vendor who participates is actively supportive of Equal Rights and is eager to support you in planning the wedding of your dreams. We pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere that is uplifting, productive, relaxed and fun: Our events provide a wonderful backdrop for meeting vendors, touring amazing venues, and meeting other couples in the area who are also planning their own celebrations. Events like ours are convenient ways to network, find and share inspiration, and forward your wedding plans by leaps and bounds!
www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com/expos

Also, if you cannot attend one of our signature events, certainly check out our trusted Online Directory... but always feel free to email us with further questions. We are happy to share our experience in the wedding industry this past 24 years, and to share further referrals to wedding vendors from our unpublished database.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Quick Tips from the Pros...

I always use the analogy about choosing your wedding apparel (there are so many styles, types and colors) ...When you finally put on that very special suit, gown or tux and tears flow -when that reflection in the mirror is exactly the person you want to be- then you know without a doubt that you are done. The feeling needs to be the same with a venue. -When you get the fuzzy feeling about the venue and the wedding staff at that venue, who are excited to assist in the planning process with you, then you know that is your venue of choice.

Catherine Geer / Celebrations Distinctive Wedding Venue
Wedding and Marketing Specialist for over 32 years of planning and executing Weddings!
https://www.celebrationsweddings.com

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As you move ahead with your ceremony plans, and consider which Venue will be chosen as the ultimate backdrop for your celebration, we wish you ease, giddy anticipation, and a sense of adventure. Have fun with your planning process: it's a special chapter that will culminate in one of the most amazing and important days of your lives. Make the most of the entire journey!