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11 must-haves for a classic reception your guests will always remember

Planning a wedding reception is exciting and daunting at the same time. This is the event that your guests look forward to, which demands you plan it well. When done right, wedding receptions are very memorable, and you do want your guests to remember yours fondly.

If you are a creative person, there is plenty you can do at your wedding reception. People remember unique wedding reception themes best. However, the cost climbs quickly with each idea you implement. Nonetheless, there are certain essentials for a reception, that you shouldn’t overlook. Let us look at these wedding reception essentials, that you must have to guarantee a good day.

1.An original theme

There are plenty of original ideas you can adopt for your wedding day. Nonetheless, as a couple, you should be able to identify with the theme you choose. If you think of it, certain themes are more trendy than others in each season. From the Great Gatsby theme in 2015 to vintage glamour in 2017, every year introduces us to new and interesting themes. While there is no harm in picking one of these for your wedding, ensure you do something special with it. In other ways, you should ensure you make it your own. Although you will find inspiration in magazines, on the internet or even at other weddings, try to add your unique touches to the theme you choose.

Whether it is with the color palette, patterns or details, avoid a cookie-cutter wedding by adding a personal flavor to the theme. Or better still, stay away from the trends and find a theme that reflects who you are as a couple. It could be based on your hobbies, what you like to do together or even on your loved story.

2.The perfect venue

The term “perfect” is subjective, for different factors appeal to different couples. However, let us concern ourselves with the wedding guests for now. In their eyes, the perfect venue will be easy to find, comfortable to settle into and welcoming with its ambiance and décor. This venue should also have enough space to accommodate your entire guest list. It shouldn’t be too cramped, but should have enough space for lounging, dancing and relaxing.

Apart from these factors, it is necessary that the venue match the theme of your wedding. Only then will it become the perfect backdrop for your event. Since the choicest venues tend to get booked quickly, this should be one of your priority wedding planning tasks. Start looking at potential venues as soon as you decide on your wedding theme. For more tips on choosing the right venue for your reception, visit this post on the Brides website. 

3.Delicious appetizers

A few signature appetizers are all it takes to nail that first impression. After all, the entrees give your guests a heads-up of what to expect in the food and drink department. Even while the rest of the meal is standard fare, interesting appetizers can pep up the menu. Small, bite-sized food items make a strong impression. It is also the best way to serve up your favorite dishes, if they aren’t suitable as the main course.

Don’t forget to make the presentation of your entrees impressive. This will add to its appeal, and your guests will be amazed by the attention to detail. Make the entire set-up festive and fun by adding a few unique drinks to the mix. If you want some inspiration to get the ball rolling, here are some ideas on the Brides website. 

4.Impressive décor

Your wedding reception décor creates the first impression of the event that follows. So, don’t hesitate to pull all stops to make it striking. Depending on your budget, there are different ways to bring your theme alive. The good news is that with a little research and planning, you will come across numerous options with unique personality and flavor.

While there is no harm in DIY-ing most details, it can tax you in terms to time and effort. In all-inclusive wedding packages, the décor is usually taken care of. However, you can always add your small signature touches to this, and ensure your wedding has its personal elements. If you have hired a wedding planner, you have the right person on board to guide you with the right décor that works within your budget and has the impact you desire. One important thing to remember that it is easy to go overboard or become overwhelmed with the many different options available. Stop when you find the right balance, and don’t add too many details that will simply end up being lost in the clutter.

5.Beautiful centerpieces

Centerpieces are an important element in wedding décor. However, these are also more important than most of the other items in your décor. This is because your guests will be seeing the centerpieces up close for a great part of the evening. So, the better you execute it, the more impressive it will be. While your centerpieces should follow the theme, you can also add unique touches to give it a signature effect.

Exercise your creativity and vary the designs across the tables for more appeal. Whether you choose towering centerpieces or ones that spread out, make sure the arrangement is neat and give each item its space. The centerpieces should also either be high up or below eye level, so it doesn’t obstruct the view. Finally, don’t overdo the details. Since your guests will sit close to it, it can look cluttered if there are too many details.

6.A great menu

Just as with signature appetizers, a good menu will definitely make the wedding memorable. In fact, food is one of the things that your guests will look forward to most. So, don’t disappoint. Find a caterer who consistently delivers  and has the equipment, resources and knowledge to execute your chosen menu to perfection. Don’t forget to match the food to the theme, in terms of colors, flavor or choice of dishes. This will tie it to the wedding beautifully. Also pay attention to the presentation. It doesn’t matter how tasty an item is, if it doesn’t look good it will fail to create the right impression.

Don’t forget to find the right mix of drinks for the meal you plan. Since drinks complement the meal, choose them carefully. Remember that your guests will have different palates and varying preferences. Keep this in mind and choose a variety of dishes and drinks so there is something to please everyone.

7.Great music

The entertainment for the evening can make or break your wedding reception. So, don’t skimp on this part. Whether you hire a band or a DJ, make sure you check reviews and watch a CD or attend one of their actual performances. You should be confident that they will keep the group entertained all evening long.

When hiring entertainment, also remember that your guests will be from different age groups and with varying likes and dislikes. So, plan your playlist in such a way that there is something for everyone. Mix new and fast numbers with classics, so everyone can join in the fun. Also remember that the band leader or DJ will mostly handle the announcements of the different events like cutting the cake and the first dance. Co-ordinate with this person to make sure your reception progresses as per schedule. Also discuss your specific do’s and don’ts, and ensure that the guests have a good time with no unexpected issues.

8.Exciting entertainment

Games are a great way to break the ice, and to help your guests enjoy the evening. It is also a way to get bored guests involved keep themselves busy between events. Make a list of games that will appeal to all, whether they are young or old. Consider space constraints when making your choice. While certain games like musical chairs can be played both indoors and outdoors, it requires plenty of space.

You will also have to co-ordinate with the wedding party in advance, to make sure the games progress smoothly. Brief them on what to arrange, where to be and what to do, so they know their roles. This will help the event to proceed without hitches and your guests to have fun.

9.Good service

You may have good food and a beautiful presentation, but the service matters too. Unless catering arrangements at your wedding progress smoothly and on-time, your guests may end up dissatisfied. Make sure you discuss this factor with the team in action.

If you had your guests pick their food from a pre-defined menu, make sure everything is recorded and done correctly. There may be guests with specific dietary requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure their requirements are adhered to. So, cross check this with the catering manager. Prompt and cordial service and pleasant staff will ensure your event progresses smoothly and your guests are happy with how the day turns out to be.

10.Exciting photography

After your wedding day is long gone, the photos will remind you of the fun day that it was. Have your special day documented in full style by hiring the services of an efficient and talented photographer. He should make it a point to cover all the guests at the event. This will serve as a reminder of all those who attended this important occasion in your life.

While the photography should be fun, it shouldn’t compete for time with the rest of the events. No guest will like to attend an event where they barely get to chat with the couple. Discuss this with your photographer in advance. Set up specific slots of time during the day, that you can dedicate to taking photographs. Also discuss how you want your photos to look, and your photographer can plan his shots to reflect your taste. For more ideas on what to look for in a wedding photographer, take a look at this article on the Knot. 

11.Interaction with the guests

Although it is your special day, it is essential you acknowledge all those who participate in it. Irrespective of whether a guest flew in from a faraway location for your wedding or just stepped in from next door, what matters is that they made it to your wedding. It is only right that you spare a few minutes to chat with each of them and thank them for their time and effort.

You and your spouse can simply pop by at each reception table and engage in small talk with the guests. Say your thanks, give a few compliments and be courteous. Keep it brief and move on to the next table after few minutes. You can then cover the entire lot in minimum ti e. Your guests will definitely appreciate this small dose of attention.

Planning a wedding is a detail-oriented, time-consuming and laborious task. There are several details that can make or break an entire wedding planning event. Nevertheless, with proper planning and execution a wedding can progres smoothly from start to end.

At Best for bride, we try out best to relieve the bride’s stress to a great extent by giving her all she needs for her wedding under one roof. From bridal dress collections to bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride dresses, bridal accessories, emergency kits and more, we have all you need for your special day. Take a look at our website by clicking this link and see what we have to offer brides who are soon-to-be-married.

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Do’s and Don’ts when planning a Large Wedding

A wedding, whether small or large, is an affair that involves hundreds of details. Even an intimate wedding, in which just the couple and their close family and circle of friends participate, has its fair share of challenges. So, you can image how much more complicated it is when you must plan a bigger wedding.

Typically, a large wedding is one where the guest count exceeds 200. If your guest count touches this number, you will have more work planning your wedding. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when you intend to have a large wedding of this nature.

DO book a venue that can accommodate your guests comfortably

While you still have the challenge of finding a venue that fits your budget, it is also important to find one that will fit your guests. Not only should the venue have space to hold so many people, it should also have adequate facilities to make them comfortable during their stay there.

The venue should have enough space to seat all the guests during the wedding and reception. It should also have sufficient number of washrooms to meet the needs of your guests. Apart from ample parking space, the dance floor should be large enough so your guests can dance comfortably.

Ideal choices are banquet halls, museums, castles and outdoor venues like parks or beaches. You should visit the venue before you commit to it. Seeing it is the only way to recognize whether it is right for your needs.

DO analyze and fix issues which can cause queues at the venue

Always consider the likelihood of long lines at the bar or bathroom. Analyze whether your venue has enough facilities to meet the needs of the number of guests attending your wedding. Your guests will find it inconvenient if it takes them forever for their turn at the washroom. Similarly, they won’t appreciate waiting indefinitely to get their chosen drink, at the bar.

Consider these factors in detail when you plan your wedding. If the venue has limited facilities, consider how you can alleviate issues. Simply arranging an extra lot of portable restrooms at an outdoor facility will help you overcome these issues. You can also have two separate bar setups at either end of your reception space to distribute the crowd evenly. Discuss your options with the venue manager and figure out the right fixes before the event.

DON’T cut down on what is most important to you

There is no question that a big wedding will be more expensive than a small one. However this doesn’t mean you should cut down on what you love. Instead, redistribute your budget to include what you must have at your wedding. You can always let go of certain factors or choose cheaper options for what is less important.

Here is an interesting idea on this post on A Practical Wedding. This couple decided to save on centerpieces and elaborate florals, which can quickly add up to several hundreds of dollars. Instead, they had a cocktail-style party, where everyone could move around and socialize throughout the evening. Since there was no need for a strict seating arrangement in this case, they went with simple tabletop arrangements and saved a huge amount of their budget this way.

DO remember that you still have to meet and greet all your guests

Whether it is a big wedding or a small one, you have to abide by some etiquette rules. This includes how essential it is to say hello to all the people who made the effort to participate in your wedding. Schedule enough buffer time in your wedding day timeline to accommodate this need. Set aside at least two minutes per guest, and it should work well.

Since waiting at a receiving line isn’t usually practical for this huge number of guests, it is a better idea to plan the day so you have opportunities to socialize and meet and greet everyone. Well-wishing guests will understand the practical problems you face with meeting all your guests. So, they shouldn’t complain if you couldn’t meet them personally. Nonetheless, it is best if you try to greet all there and avoid such a situation.

DO consider hiring help

While you can always attempt to pull off a big wedding by yourself, it is a Herculean task. With the number of details involved, you need plenty of time to do this right. Also remember that even small tasks will involve time because of the sheer volume of work involved. Imagine addressing your invitations to 200 guests, and you will realize the time that it will require. Similarly, every small detail will quickly add up in terms of time and energy.

Professional wedding planners have enough resources and staff to handle such weddings. They can make your job much easier, and save you lot of stress. Even if you intend to do everything yourself, consider hiring a day-of planner. While he or she tackles the numerous responsibilities of the day, you can sit back and actually enjoy your wedding. Additionally, wedding planners can get you valuable vendor discounts, which is a big win in the case of a large wedding. More details on how you can make the most of their expertise to snag a bargain are here on this Brides website article. 

DO try to skip the little extras

Unless you have a budget that cannot be extinguished easily, it is wise to skip the little extras when planning a big wedding. Although these items will help make your wedding unique, they can also quickly add up with the extended head count. For instance, you will run up several extra dollars if you decide to send out Save-the-date cards in addition to wedding invitations. Similarly, special touches like calligraphy, monograms and personalized wedding favors will be expensive unless you DIY.

Rather than splurging on these items, it is better to save your budget for the more essential parts of the wedding. Better quality food and drinks, for example, will be more appreciated than these elements.

DO consider repurposing and reusing items to take your budget further

Certain items in a wedding are non-negotiable, like the flowers. However, they are expensive as well. To get the best bargain on such items, we suggest that you consider using them to the greatest extent possible.

Take the advice of event planner Kristen in this article on the She Knows website.  You can get your money’s worth for the flowers at your wedding by putting them to more than just one use. Take the flowers off your arbor and use them in centerpieces. Or put your bridesmaids bouquets into vases and use them at your cocktail table after the ceremony.

All you need is an organized friend or professional planner to handle these details. It will save you more money than if you have to use more flowers for the purpose. And, more importantly it will also lessen scope for wastage of wedding resources. Other options are to choose centerpieces that double up as wedding favors and choosing non-perishable décor items that you can reuse after the wedding.

DO consider a bigger bridal party

Consider yourself lucky if you have a number of friends and family members who want to be closely involved in the wedding. With a little tact and foresight, you can use their help to the most at your wedding. The benefits of having a bigger bridal party are immense. This gives you more people who will assist you on and before the wedding day. For a bigger wedding party, this means you have many hands to help you handle the various details.

Your bridesmaids and ushers will be valuable in helping guests find their way around, on the day of the wedding. They can also assist with tasks like helping the photographer round up the right people for each wedding shot. You can request their assistance with setting up the venue, distributing favors and meeting and greeting guests. Nonetheless, the extent of success will also depend on the personalities of the people in your party. Choose wisely, and enlist the help of each person for tasks they are best suited for.

DO allow enough time between events

The logistics of planning a successful wedding timeline can be challenging when you have a huge wedding party. The flow of the event will be affected by the number of people there. Although this can be sorted out to a great extent by making multiple arrangements for dining and washroom facilities, it may not be enough.

We also suggest you plan your wedding timeline at a relaxed pace, with more buffer time for special moments. This will allow people to move to settle in comfortably and be ready for the next event on the timeline. Avoid packing in a tight schedule and make sure you consider the distance and space they have to maneouvre to be in place for the next important part of the day. This will ensure your wedding timeline progresses as expected and that the day winds up on time.

DON’T risk booking unreliable vendors

Whether your wedding is big or small, unreliable vendors can totally ruin the show. Nonetheless, the chance of fixing a goof-up is tougher when the guest count is higher. It is simply impossible to find a replacement at short notice who can cater to such a large crowd without prior notice. This can end up as an emotional and stressful disaster, and spoil all the fun of your special day.

Hence, make sure that every vendor you hire for your wedding is reliable and has always delivered the service they promise to. Apart from online reviews, also ask for references before you commit to a contract. If you have a wedding planner, he or she will be able to suggest reliable vendors for various jobs. They will also have likely alternatives if any of the plans go south. Finally, ensure your vendor contracts contain practical solutions as emergency plans, in case of cancellations at the last minute. Make sure you can work with their solutions before you decide to be optimistic and sign up for the service.

DON’T forget to account for all the extras

There are many extras that you may miss adding into your budget. Many couples overlook factors like tipping and gratuity, wedding dress alteration charges, extra costs at the venue for service etc, when planning their budget. Although some of these may seem insignificant, it can quickly add up when you consider the head count at your wedding.

So, make sure you discuss all overheads before you book a service. Also calculate these factors so you can create a practical budget. When booking a service, mention to the vendor what your total budget is, so they can direct you to the service accordingly. Also, don’t hesitate to cross-check and ask whether you will have to pay anything above and over the mentioned amount to get the service you book.

All said and done, your wedding is a special celebration of the day you and your partner become husband and wife! It is a special moment, that should be celebrated with all those who matter in your life. If this means having a big wedding, so be it! The challenges pale in comparison with the joy of the celebration. Just make sure that every moment counts, you stand by every decision you make and enjoy this special day in your life.

For all that you need for your wedding day, from your all-important wedding dress to dress alterations, attires for the bridal party, wedding favors and more, come visit our Best for Bride shop. With four locations and an impressive inventory of everything wedding-related, every modern bride can find all that she needs for her special day. Find more details about our wedding dress collections, services and more at the Best for Bride website here.

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10 smart ways to save on your reception cost

Your wedding reception will take over a big part of your wedding budget. With many things to rent for the occasion, from the décor to the tableware and seating, it will all quickly add up and cost a lot. While there is no way you can escape from setting aside money for your reception, there are some smart ways in which you can have a fantastic reception without breaking the bank. This is what we will look at today.

Read on for 10 tips on how to save as much as is possible on your reception cost.

1.Choose one venue for both the ceremony and reception

church wedding

One of the best ways to reduce your overall reception expense, is to choose a single venue for both the wedding ceremony and reception. There are many benefits of choosing this option and they include the following

  • You have more flexibility in timing, as you do not have to account for the transportation time between the two venues
  • There is no need for additional transport arrangements to help guests travel to the reception venue, from the wedding venue
  • Guests will be happier if everything is staged at a single venue, as the likelihood for delays and waiting time are less
  • This is obviously a cheaper option. Even when the ceremony venue is a church, you will have to spend more in terms of a donation or ceremony fees.

2.Choose items that do double-duty

By this, we mean you can make your money work more if your décor, seating or anything else can work in more than one way. For example, if your wedding ceremony and reception are at the same venue, consider having the flower arrangements done in such a way that it can be reused as reception centerpieces. That way, all it takes is a few extra minutes to move the arrangement to the reception venue and set it up. Although it may involve a certain labor cost, it will be much cheaper than having the entire reception venue decorated from scratch using fresh décor items. You can also choose wedding favors that act as place cards. Similarly, here is a suggestion we found on the Knot web page, that sounds sensible. Consider using simple glasses in a universal design to serve all your drinks, instead of having to rent various types of glasses for the different drinks that will be served at the reception. The same idea is useful for every wedding aspect you can consider, including your wedding dress. A two-in-one wedding dress that can give you two different looks, is a brilliant idea for a wedding. The Mori Lee 5316 with a detachable tulle skirt is one such dress.

3.Look for all-inclusive packages

all inclusive

Unless you have the talent, time and practice to handle most of the details by yourself, rather than depend on independent vendors for each of the décor essentials, DIY weddings can be very expensive. The cheaper alternative is to choose an all-inclusive package, and customize it to meet your specific needs without spending too much money. The other benefit of choosing an all-inclusive package is that you needn’t worry about arranging all the aspects and have them all come together at time. It is usually taken care of by the vendor-in-charge, and you only need to follow up. Without too many options at hand, it is also a relief for brides who are easily overwhelmed with too many choices. Check with your venue for whether they offer package deals, or ask your vendors for the additional tasks they can handle. This way you will not have to follow up or work with too many people, and this makes the process streamlined and easier.

4.DIY or outsource it to a known contact

Although we said that DIY may be expensive, it needn’t always be so. This may in fact, be the cheapest route available to you, if you are organized, have the time for it and are confident in your abilities. If you have done things previously on a scale similar to that of your wedding, or you have the time and resources to bring it all together perfectly, DIY can help you cut the costs to a great extent. You can try your hand at anything from creating the wedding centerpieces, to assembling the party favors and even baking the cake. Or if you have a trusted friend or relative who is a wedding vendor, this may be the route to consider. As an associate you personally know, you are more likely to get a considerable discount on their services, and this can ease the financial cost greatly.

5.Be on the lookout for discounts and offers

sale

If you have a long engagement before getting married, you have time to attend wedding fairs and shows. Here, you can find interesting deals and good discounts for your reception. You will easily find several vendors offering their services and also discounts to stay ahead of the competition. So, if you find one that you like, this is the time to snag it. Wedding exhibitions will also have stalls with wedding décor accessories and other items, and they may be cheaper and unique compared to what you find outside. Also, don’t overlook items that cost nothing, but are a valuable add to your wedding. Free wedding fonts, for example, can help you personalize everything at your wedding, from coasters and place cards, to menu and sign boards for little to no cost. Additionally, we suggest that you sign up for bridal magazines and join the mailing list for newsletters and updates at popular bridal shops and vendors. This way, you will immediately know of any discounts and offers that come up. When you go shopping for your wedding, also check out whether there are any benefits of booking or buying more from a single place. For example, your wedding baker may give you a discount if you ask them to do edible favors as well. It is likely that you will also be able to save more on service and delivery charges when you go with a single vendor for more than just one service. So, explore the options and ask around, you may just be lucky to find a deal that will work.

6.Stay on top of your expenses

Wedding finances can be tricky, unless you are in full control. Before you go shopping, it is best if you create a budget spreadsheet and divide it into the amounts you have put aside for each aspect. This way, you will know what amount you can afford to spend on a certain factor. One way you can stay in control, is to note it down and add it into your accounts as and when you incur an expense. Unless you consistently do this, you can easily lose track of all the small expenses you have already been involved in. This can all add up to a shocking extra in the end. If you however, keep your budget updated and have a clear idea of how much has been spent already and what is remaining, you can make sure you do not overstep your budget and spend beyond control. Also, if you get a good deal on certain items, you can adjust the profit into another aspect, and splurge on it instead.

7.Choose less risky wedding reception venues

garden venue

Planning an outdoor garden reception in the summer? Don’t ever rule out the likelihood of rain. In case Mother Nature decides to shower her blessings with a drizzle on the day, you will have to risk your guests getting wet. The sensible alternative in such a case, would be to have an alternative venue where you can move your reception to, in the likelihood of rain. But, this would mean paying money for all the extra arrangements and that would simply cost you more. If you want to avoid such risks, settle for a low-risk reception venue. An indoor venue that has no risks associated with it, would allow you to breathe easy and be done with the funds you have allocated for this. You can also think of getting yourself insured, so that you are covered if any unforeseen circumstances that cost money, arise out of the blue.

8.Find cheaper but working options for your décor essentials

There are many ways in which you can find cheaper options for your wedding decorations, if you keep your mind open. For outdoor weddings, barn weddings and rustic styles, bistro lights and twinkling fairy lights are beautiful but inexpensive décor items. The romantic effect they create is really worth the insignificant price you pay on them. Similarly, if you want a shabby chic wedding, consider switching out table cloths for newspapers under a glass table top. If you are unhappy with the chairs you have at your reception, but cannot afford hiring new ones, consider getting them covered with chair covers. This will not cost too much, but you can instantly add more life to your wedding venue with this single change. It is also sensible to consider a venue that comes with seating and interesting décor already. Restaurants are such examples. Since they are already set up for service, they will have all the necessary items for the food service and good décor too. So, you can save on planning and preparing the venue specially for your wedding, when you book such venues.

9.Keep the timing fixed and stay organized

Venues and service staff charge by the hour. So, it is necessary to stick to the timeline. You may get a better deal if you cut short your booking hours. Simple steps like cutting short your cocktail hour to 45 minutes, and similarly polishing off few minutes from various aspects can save you precious time. This will translate into a reduced bill. Also, your guests will be relieved that there is minimum waiting around, as long as everything progresses smoothly. However, make sure that you stick to the stipulated time and it is a reasonable time frame that you have set for each event. All in the wedding party should be aware of what time slot is allotted to which activity, and not overstep the time limit for each of them. Also discuss the working hours with your wedding vendors in advance. Ask for how much their overtime charges are, rather than run into a long bill after you simply employ them for much longer than initially agreed. Wind up early in the evening, and you can head home or off on your honeymoon much earlier.

10.Take the paper-free route and think outside the box for everything else

sheet cake

There are many things at a wedding that you can do without, and still have a great wedding. Wedding programs are one such item. You can choose to skip these, as they use up a lot of paper, and also cost for the printing. They aren’t really necessary, and are usually tossed at the end of the day. For your guest’s reference, you can use a single chalkboard or signboard display at the welcome, and this will do the job just as well. To really cut your budget, be open to options like using a sheet cake at your reception, and substituting the reception dinner with a tea-time affair or brunch. Although this may be one of the most economical options around, it may not be for everyone. But definitely do consider it.

Can you think of more ways to save money on the wedding reception? If so, do let us know in the comments below.

For more tips and wedding planning advice, visit us at Best for Bride—your one stop bridal destination. Don’t forget to check out our online bridal store, where you can find everything from stylish wedding dresses to dresses for the entire wedding party, and also chic evening gowns and beautiful prom dresses. Apart from this, we also have a range of wedding-related services like wedding cakes, invitations, favors, photography, flower arrangements, décor and more. Check out our website here, to find out more about how we can complete your wedding perfectly.