Holidays Archive

9 Wedding Planning Tips From A December Bride!

My fiancé (now husband) and I chose a December wedding after much consideration, and we are so glad we did. At the end of it all, we received wonderful compliments from our wedding guests. I look back on our wedding as a cross between our celebration and an elegant holiday party.

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Our Wedding Toast

During our wedding planning, we followed the typical fall-and-winter wedding considerations, such as opting for one venue to keep travel easier in case of poor weather conditions, an earlier schedule for photos, bringing in extra heaters, etc.

Nonetheless, this post is December-specific. I believe this wedding month has its own set of rules!

I write this post on the chance that even one of these tips or lessons learned could help a December Bride-to-Be or couple that might be considering a December wedding.

december-wedding-ceremony-photos

We married at a historic mansion and vineyard

1.  Sending Save-the-Dates in the Summer Helped with the RSVP’s

December meant being OK with the possibility of increased wedding invitation regrets. But, as surprised as some people were with our date, we had a 73% acceptance rate.

Still, none of my east coast relatives attended the wedding. I completely understood as the holidays are hectic, and travel can be rough. Not to mention for those with children, Christmastime takes on a whole new level of busy!

For those who could attend, we had a somewhat rustic, garden-like wedding with holiday touches. 

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Our centerpieces and wedding favors

2.   We Had to be OK with A Wedding Anniversary That’s One Week Before Christmas! 

We now have birthday celebrations, holiday guests, our wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Years all in December. 

3.    December is the Darkest Month of the Year, So Evening Wedding Photos Start Early 

Photography helped us determine our wedding start time. With an earlier sunset, we set our ceremony for 4:00 pm. Photos began at 2:00 pm.

One great thing about the pre-ceremony photo session was getting to enjoy part of the cocktail hour after saying our I-do’s! The slight downside was seeing each other before I walked down the aisle. Our photographer did a beautiful, private “first look” photo for us.

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Our December Wedding Day

6.    Beautiful In-Season Flowers

December’s floral selection was perfect.

I selected a variety of red roses, white spray roses, burgundy and white dahlias, seeded eucalyptus, ivory and red hypericum berry, holly, white stock, green hanging Amaranthus, branches, sprayed gold leaves and pinecones. 

However, there was a catch.

Our wedding colors were reds, ivory and winter white. All shades of red and white are in high demand in the holiday season, so these flowers cost a bit more.

But as mentioned, we used a lot of winter foliage that helped keep the florals well within budget and matched the December mood.

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Our Bridal and Bridesmaid Bouquets

6.  December is Fun for Wedding Favors, but Pinterest Got Overwhelming!

I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. I noticed some December weddings fully embraced a holiday theme, while others had nothing to do with the holidays – it all looked beautiful.

From the start, I was set on cozy throws as wedding favors.

To give it a December feel, I made blankets by measuring, cutting, rolling up, and tying quality fleece material, using three complementary patterns – one solid burgundy and two different red plaid designs – one was Christmassy, the other was wintery.

 

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Our Cozy Wedding Favors

Friends and family tell us they still use the blankets!

All of the wedding favors turned out well. Yet in retrospect, I wish I had been clear on our wedding colors and theme before looking at Pinterest! With so many inspirational photos, it was easy to get side tracked.

6.   The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree at our reception gets its own mention because it turned out to be a fun photo opportunity for everyone. Some weddings have photo booths, we had a gorgeous Christmas tree photo prop!

Our photographer suggested we also do the cake cutting in front of the tree.

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Our Wedding Cake with Winter Florals

7.    Researching Each Venue’s December Holiday Décor was Important

The Christmas décor was so crucial that it ended up being the tiebreaker between our Top-2 venue choices. After all, it would be a part of our wedding theme.

All the venues we were considering informed us they set-up holiday decorations, which we loved. Photos and social media searches helped us understand their vision and style.

I was so pleased with our ultimate wedding venue’s elegant holiday décor of white string lights and red poinsettias (this also saved on flowers!) that we booked the place.

8.    Holiday Parties Meant We Still Had to Book Our Rehearsal Dinner & Lodging ASAP

It may have been the off-season for weddings, but it was the ON-season for Christmas parties!

Our favorite restaurants were booked entirely with holiday celebrations, so we changed our Friday rehearsal dinner to the late afternoon to get a good reservation. Hotels were taking early bookings for big company holiday parties, so we reserved our room block eight months in advance.

9.    We Kept it Simple with Nay-Sayers

When asked about our wedding date, a couple people actually corrected me with “You mean September? My reply was simply “No, December!” Smile.

My fiancé and I decided December was fortuitous as the holidays had significance in our relationship. Not to mention it is a beautiful time of year and weddings are a special occasion.

We loved having a December wedding.

PHOTOS: Lori Rittinger Photography 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Fun Pre-Autumn Projects for Fall 2018

Mid-to-late summer is when I start getting ready for the Fall season. I’ve found the more I prepare ahead of time, the more money I save when the holidays arrive. Not to mention the easier it is to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season. My “pre-autumn” preparation to-do list includes fun projects and some light organization. Enjoy!

Getting a Head Start on Fun Fall Projects & Décor

  1. Save any pretty jars for candle making or illuminating with mini string lights
  2. Practice perfecting a recipe for holiday gifts or gatherings
  3. Have fun trying out homemade pumpkin spice or cinnamon latte recipes
  4. Start adding Fall accessories to your wardrobe, so you’re ready when Fall arrives
  5. Visit arts & crafts stores for first “dibs” on seasonal décor
  6. Give thought to Halloween Costumes to avoid the last minute rush
  7. Collect pine cones and branches for natural, seasonal décor
  8. Find festive “Save the Date” cards for any gatherings you plan to host

Photo: Shutterstock

Getting Organized for the Fall

  1. Put any spare change in a jar, every day, to start a holiday fund – coins add up!
  2. Hang stored blankets and winter jackets in the sun to re-freshen them
  3. Buy tickets to a football game or haunted mansion tour once they go on sale!
  4. Consider an organizer or big calendar dedicated to the BUSY “BER” months
  5. Print out schedules for favorite sports teams and TV shows
  6. Organize closets to make room for coats, rain gear, and Christmas presents!
  7. Declutter shelves to make room for holiday gift wrapping and décor

I plan to keep organizing, decluttering and seizing bargains during these more relaxed summer days so I can “breathe” a bit more when the busy season arrives.

Important Mention

While this post is focused on the happy part of the pre-season preparation, home maintenance and safety are extremely important, so I’m setting reminders to check our vehicle tires and windshield wiper blades, smoke detectors, air filters, and rain gutters before the blustery season hits.

For a comprehensive home & safety list, check out this Fall Checklist.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, but do get excited about the fall season!

 

 

 

14 Ideas For Celebrating Christmas Alone

This December 25th, I will be celebrating Christmas morning by myself. Just my dog and me. Initially, this felt like a lonely way to start this joyous day. However, I now see it as the gift of peace and time for reflection.

My plan:

Wake up early, put on my coziest socks, make coffee and read by the lit tree while contemplating the reason for the season. Dog at my side. Holiday music in the background. Complete coziness.

I’m looking forward to my morning walk with my dog because the downtown neighborhood is so peaceful on Christmas. The church just three blocks over rings the most beautiful sounding bell throughout the day. Hopefully, I will get to hear the bells.

In planning for this day, I came up with 14 ideas for celebrating by oneself in the Christmas Spirit, along with a little self-care.

14 Ideas for Celebrating Christmas Alone:

1. Read scripture or anything inspirational.
2. Get outside to breathe in the fresh, crisp air. Appreciate the quietude and beauty.
3. Volunteer.
4. Brainstorm on motivating New Year’s resolutions.
5. Exercise. A well-populated walking or hiking trail sounds ideal.
6. Listen to Christmas music and prepare some appetizers or dessert for Christmas dinner.
7. Write yourself a letter to open Holiday 2018 with goals or a wish list for the season (Place it in your ornament box!)
8. Do something kind for someone, anonymously.
9. Decide to sponsor a child, either domestically or internationally with a charity.
10. Write out New Year’s cards to loved ones.
11. Watch classic Christmas movies.
12. Start a gratitude journal.
13. Decide to read the Bible in 365 days, starting on Christmas Day. Sign up for an online guide.
14. Start a Pinterest page or board with the most meaningful quotes and sayings you can find!

Above all, always remember Christmas means we are never alone.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Photo credits: Dreamstime