Band or DJ – it’s a difficult choice

Many couples wonder if they should hire a live band or a DJ for their wedding. There are two, or even three parts of a traditional wedding celebration that benefit greatly from music: The ceremony, the cocktail hour, and the reception. Deciding what music to have and who will provide can be daunting indeed!

But it is important, because music infuses drama, adds zest, creates a range of moods and expresses emotion. We all have attachments to specific music, whether it was a song that we loved at that very special time in our lives, something we grew up with, or the soundtrack of the moment. Many couples talk about ‘their’ song, and how they will have their first dance to that very song.

Music creates the fun!

I love the use of music during ritual moments in a ceremony. While lighting candles, presenting roses, pouring sand, or any number symbolic actions, with music playing, the moment is intensified. Don’t forget about music while guests are arriving, filling the space with whatever vibe you choose. Of course the processional and recessional are especially important musical moments. I love to see couples recess with a spirited song blasting!

Consider your ceremony and cocktail hour. Some people hire live musicians for a ceremony and a DJ for the reception, or vise versa. If you hire a band for the reception you may have some of the band members play the ceremony/cocktail hour; ask about it. After all, they’re already there. Similarly, an experienced wedding DJ will have a small set up just for the ceremony/cocktail hour, so be sure to ask about that, too. Many combinations are possible (you do the math).

Each generation has its style of music, and when you have multiple generations at a wedding it’s important to have something for everyone.

Fun for every generation.

There are several pros and cons to choosing a band versus a DJ (or a combination).

One reason to chose a DJ might be the price, since you’re hiring one (or two) instead of 4, 7 or 10 or more. But of course prices vary with both DJs and bands, and it may not be your biggest concern anyway. Remember when you come up with a budget – prioritize what matters to you – not what some magazine or website told you.

Space is another consideration. Many DJ’s use a computer set up and don’t really need much room to provide high quality sound. They may also have great lighting options, which adds to the ambiance. Love those ‘up lights.’ Most bands also have lighting options as well.

If there are specific songs you want to hear at your wedding a DJ can provide that! A good DJ will have all your favorite tracks ready. I’ve heard stories of DJ’s who did not fulfill the couple’s song list – which kind of defeats the purpose. But then again, a band can’t possibly know every song in the world.

A live band is like a concert experience.

Be sure to choose a DJ with a personality that fits your style. Your DJ’s behavior will be at the forefront on that night. Read all the reviews, meet with him or her and interview them carefully. The right DJ makes a party fantastic!

Bands are a classic and timeless choice for a wedding. A truly great band (and many wedding bands are made up of excellent musicians) provides a performance, a concert in a way – a real experience. A good band can go with the flow, change the mood as needed and ‘read’ the room. A band can improvise and extend a song when needed or cut it short as well. Remember when you are hiring a band you are hiring real people with some limitations. I believe those limitations are worthwhile for the joy of live music, but that’s me. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some excellent DJs who are so professional and caring – its really heart-warming.

Whether band of DJ - consider adding lighting.

Both bands and DJs are often too loud for my taste. Don’t hesitate to speak with them about your needs – quiet music during dinner then get the party going? Or get the party going immediately? Think about it.

Unless you are on a very, very tight budget I don’t recommend you DIY with your iPod. I’ve seen that go very wrong. DJing is more than just hitting play, it is creating smooth transitions between songs, talking to the crowd, feeling what’s happening and changing things as needed. However, if you are having a quiet luncheon or dinner reception without plans for a dance party – providing your own music could work for you. Beware of family or friends who volunteer to provide the service with no experience whatsoever!

Bottom line – whatever you choose, choose carefully. Quality really matters – if you love music, pay for a great band or a great DJ and you’re sure to have a great time.

Music for that special dance.


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography for these gorgeous photos.



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Cozy and Crazy Norwegian wedding traditions

As you read this I’m in Norway visiting family so naturally I’m thinking about Nordic style weddings! I know a bit about it, after all, my son has lived in Norway for over 10 years, and I’ve been visiting for as long. Of course like any country there is lots of variation within its borders and the north of Norway is certainly very different than cosmopolitan Oslo.

But in general, weddings are much smaller than in the U.S and they have a cozy feeling – cozy being a highly prized adjective in Norway. You might expect that in the land of mountains, glaciers and fjords, but perhaps not of these Vikings!

Traditional music is often included in the ceremony, and a small processional might be led by a fiddler or accordion. Folk songs are popular, and people have lots of fun writing their own lyrics about the couple, set to the traditional melodies, and sing them at the reception.

A fiddler plays.

Instead of dancing and partying, speeches and toasting make up most the party. Someone oversees this – a sort of ‘toastmaster’ and it can go on for hours. It’s really quite lovely because everything is focused on stories and good wishes for the couple. They usually sit at long tables, which is gaining popularity here, but as in most of the world, customs are changing and weddings are becoming more ‘Americanized.’

Cake overall is a big feature of Norwegian weddings and it’s an accepted custom for guests to be asked to bring along additional cakes so that the wedding tables are full! Norwegians do love their cake. And they love strong drink as well. Akvavit is popular, and its distinctive flavor is from spices and herbs, and it is 40% alcohol by volume. I can’t handle it at all! Luckily they also have great beer.

Bringing cake - cake is king.

Having a national costume, called a bunad, is expensive, but many people do own one and wear them for their National Day (their Independence Day), a big celebration on the 17th of May. These striking outfits can also be worn for a wedding, for the couple and guests alike! The man’s bunadis a woolen suit with a white silk shirt, short pants with calf-length stockings, a vest and topcoat. It’s quite elaborate. A woman’s dress has a bodice of silk, but is otherwise made of wool, embroidered with traditional Norwegian patterns, and includes buckles on the vest or waist along with other elaborate accessories of silver or gold. Sometimes a shawl is added. There is an enormous variety to these outfits and they are really stunning!

More elaborate than usual!

Weddings take place in the church or at a town hall. Ancient Norway followed a form of paganism, but was Christianized in the 11th century. The country is mostly Lutheran, and up until recently it was the official religion of Norway. The Church of Norway was decoupled form the country on May 21, 2012 through a constitutional amendment, but they still require the reigning monarch to be Lutheran. While they are a country based in Christian practices there is a strong humanist strain. By the way, same sex marriage has been legal in Norway since 2009.

Some lovely women showing off their outfits.

The Sami are the indigenous people of the arctic, who followed a shamanistic religion until they were forced to convert by missionaries in the 18th century. Recently there has been a renewed appreciated for the Sami which has led to a revival of their religion. In a winter Sami wedding both the bride and groom wear decorated traditional pants made of reindeer fur and footwear made of reindeer skin. Wow!

Greeting from Norway – I’ll be back real soon!




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What Constitutes a Wedding Day Emergency?

What constitutes an emergency? Like beauty, the answer will be in the eye of the beholder. If something rips, breaks or is not delivered on time, it can feel like an emergency, but compared to a parent falling ill, or an accident on the way to the wedding, it is absolutely nothing!

And while we have little control over so many things in life, especially emergencies big or small, let’s just talk about the small ones.

First of all, as you may have read all over the place – pack an emergency kit. Its quite simple: needle and thread, aspirin, stain remover, and various size safety pins, band-aids, you get the picture.

Here are just a few problems that could crop up:

Many women love our shoes!

Many of us women love shoes! For our high-heeled style women – the dreaded broken heel is a worry. It’s always good to bring a second (or third) pair of shoes along anyway, especially something comfortable. Be sure to break in new shoes before the big day; scuff up the soles to prevent slips and falls and let them stretch a bit for a better fit. More common are uncomfortable shoes, and the resulting rubbed raw sore (ouch!)  Here’s where those band-aids will come in handy. Add to your kit some of those soft fabric bunion/toe protector products you find in the foot care department. Those high, high heels are sexy and gorgeous, that’s for sure – but can you make it through the night wearing them? Take some photos with them and change.

Gorgeous, but can you keep them on all night?

Broken zipper. Safety pins are invaluable when it comes to fixing many things.

Spilling wine. Use water of club soda, but the key thing here is the dabbing. After the area dries (use a hair dryer) you take a piece of white chalk, if we’re talking about a white dress, and if you’ve packed that, and gently cover any parts of the stain with the chalk. Naturally you’ve packed stain remover in your emergency kit.

Hangovers. Hindsight is 20/20 – you’ll regret it of course, but if you are hung over eat a carb-heavy breakfast, grab a nap and hydrate! The best advice is to go easy on the booze before and during the wedding. I am always sad to see a hung over groom, bride, or best man or woman. Feeling bad brings everyone down, and you really miss out on the meaning of the day.

Nervous energy. Take it easy on the caffeine and bring soothing music to listen to when getting dressed. Have a massage the morning of the wedding, or workout, if that’s your thing. Leave yourself enough time but not so much time you’re just bored and antsy. Try not to micro-manage your big day. Breathe!

Bad weather. They say it’s good luck when it rains on your wedding day – but that sounds like rationalization to me. However it happens, so buy a couple of huge umbrellas – and maybe even pack some rubber boots so you can play in the rain or snow and get some fun pictures. I officiated twice during hurricane-like conditions – and in a ways it was kind of amazingly cool. It certainly makes it memorable.

Have an extra pair with you.

There are many other things you really can’t do anything about such as the schedule going awry, kids crying or making noise during your ceremony, shuttle buses running late, and no-shows. But barring being stood up at the altar you will be married at the end of the day – and that’s what matters the most. When you think about it – all these little problems really are not emergencies at all.


At the end of the day, you will be married!




Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography for these gorgeous photos.



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Baby, it’s Cold Outside! A look at autumn weddings.

I’ve often written about the importance of a rain plan for an outdoor wedding, but as I prepare to leave for a wedding on this brisk autumn day, I’m reminded that a cold plan is also necessary.

Here in the Pocono Mountains spring and fall temperatures can vary widely. Yesterday I officiated outdoors and it was sunny and warm, today I’m scheduled for another outdoor ceremony and it’s quite chilly. Average October temperatures in PA swing between 64 and 38 degrees. Average – and you never know how big that swing will be. I recall one Halloween when it was hot and another when it snowed.

So what can you do when you have your heart set on the great outdoors for your autumn wedding? As always the answer is simple: be prepared. And although you may be, are your guests?

Here are a few that will help:

Make if very clear to all your guests, in any and all ways possible, to dress appropriately. Include it on your invitation, any website you may have, and follow ups you might do. Include with the driving directions another gentle reminder to bring coats, warm shoes and even socks – stating that you can change for the reception. When your feet are warm, you are warm.

Warm and beautiful!

Hand out blankets as guests enter the ceremony site. ‘Pocket warmers’ for hands and feet are very inexpensive and work wonders. You can get them at a camping store.

Buy shawls for bridesmaids (what a great gift) and have a gorgeous shawl, shrug, wrap or jacket of some sort if you are the bride.  I know you want to show off that beautiful dress, and it will be a great ‘reveal’ at the reception when you remove the outdoor layer. It’s almost like having two dresses – how fun! Men – you have it easier since a suit is itself providing layers of warmth.

Warm beverages for a cool day.

Some venues offer those outdoor heating lamps, or patio heaters, which are great, but only if you are sitting right by one.

Remember to consider the time of day including changing the clock from daylight savings time. When the sun dips down, so does the temperature.

Serve warm beverages outside.

Think about the time your guests will be sitting and waiting for the ceremony to begin, and tighten up the processional. Perhaps have everyone wait indoors until ‘go’ time and then usher guests out in their very own processional, followed by the actual bridal party.

The ceremonies I create tend to be about a half an hour long, but if guests are already sitting down for 10 or 15 minutes before we even begin the processional, well… it adds up.

After the ceremony skip the receiving line, or at least don’t have it outdoors, and make sure there will be a good flow of guests so they can quickly get inside after the ceremony and not wind up standing in a big long line in the cold.

This is perfect!

And finally – have an indoor plan that you are happy with – so you can move inside if necessary. Please remember, while you may love the cold and be ready for it, all of your guests may not. A wedding isn’t only about the couple; it is about the family and friends who are there to support you. Please consider their needs.

There is no reason you can’t have an enjoyable outdoor experience if you are prepared.

Again, this is how its done!


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography for these gorgeous photos.




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Can you have a spooky wedding?

I love Halloween, it brings out the kid in me. I love playing dress up. I love the freedom it gives me to be silly, a little (extra?) weird and to try on a different persona. I also like candy.

Halloween is a great theme for a wedding as well. And while everything about a wedding is for real, and the honesty and meaning of a marriage commitment is something very serious, it’s also a day of celebration and fun, and Halloween is certainly fun, at least to some of us.

Autumn is a great theme in itself with all the pumpkins, gourds and leaves, straw bales, pots of mums, all the seasonal décor – but taking it a step further for Halloween isn’t for everyone. However, if a couple is the type that loves Halloween, I support them completely in embracing the scary side for their wedding.

The bride wore black!

You can easily deck out the look of your wedding in Halloween fantasy, but would you wear a costume to get married? I don’t necessarily recommend it, but you might want to change into one after the ceremony, and for that matter, why not have your reception be a costume party? It doesn’t have to be child-like, a Halloween wedding can be sophisticated if done right.

This black wedding gown in the photo is a perfect example of Halloween elegance. Or just add some small detail that hints at the holiday.

It's all in the details.

I love the idea of wearing masks – and then unmasking. It can represent how we show our truest selves to the person we love. When we have an honest relationship with someone, they see us unmasked and know our deepest parts, and love us, flaws and all.

There is plenty of romance in Halloween – just look to books and movies for inspiration.
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula asks: “Do you believe in destiny? That even the powers of time can be altered for a single purpose? That the luckiest man who walks on this earth is the one who finds true love?”

The Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead begins on All Hallows Eve, and is a great source of inspiration.

Finding a spooky location for your wedding is a little more difficult. I officiated in a former jail that was a museum. It was definitely a little weird! A Victorian mansion or rustic barn lends itself well, but with the right décor anything will work.

All things Tim Burton are on the table, of course.

A candy ‘bar’ or buffet readily references trick-or-treating, and in my opinion, is a must for any Halloween wedding.

Speaking of candy, I once created a ritual using candy that speaks to the same symbolism as masks. The couple each held a special handcrafted wrapped piece of chocolate with a center filling. They handed to each other and proceeded to unwrap it, as I pointed to the idea of opening oneself to the other. Then to taste it: first is the initial taste – the chocolate, a wonderful flavor of course, but then there is more – the surprise and wonder of the discovering the flavor within. I’m sure you understand this metaphor. It was a fun, meaningful and delicious ceremony ritual indeed.

Dancing zombies!

For fun at the reception you might include a scavenger hunt, a costume contest, and having some sound effects and lighting tricks planned as well. A fake power-outage could be heart-pounding fun.

Finally, don’t miss the chance to play up the ‘til death do us part’ sentiment, along with phrases like  ‘I love you to death,’ references to the Bride of Frankenstein, and arrive or leave the event in a hearse. Is that going too far?

You gotta love this!


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography


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Put the Cell Phone Away, already!!

I’ve written about it before, posted on chat boards, and spoken of it often – but it bears repeating. Really, it’s that important.  Over and over I see this happen, and, to put it kindly, it is simply bad etiquette. Do not use your cell phone, iPad or camera at a wedding ceremony! Unless you have been designated to take pictures or video, leave it to the professionals. Sure, at the reception, have as much fun with it as you like, but a ceremony is a special time, a sacred time and a serious moment to be fully ‘present’ for this milestone in the couple’s lives. It is  distracting and disrespectful to be using your device. There is a time and a place for everything.

There's always one (or many)

Let’s explore this situation further because it is becoming a bigger issue by the minute.

Back in ancient times, say, a decade ago, I would see one or two people snapping pictures, but now everyone has a smart phone. Do you really want your guests to be more engaged with their phone than with what is happening right in front of their eyes?

Another concern is the spoiler effect: people posting photos of the wedding before the couple chooses to do so. It is the prerogative of the newlyweds to decide when to post and what photos to post. Your photos (yes, you – guest with an iPhone) may have caught one of the odd moments. You know, the one with closed eyes, or funny expression, or out of focus, tilted or heads cut off. Yes, we all think we’re brilliant photographers but there is a reason people pay a lot of money for professionals!

Because, clearly I really want people to put the phones away, when I walk to the altar to begin the ceremony, I do not want my first words to be an admonishment. Scolding the guests is not a great way to begin. So here are a tactful few ideas to encourage your guests to turn off their phones and pay attention.

- Include a notice in your program (if you are doing one). Wording might be something like: Welcome to our wedding – please be present in the moment and turn off your cell phones, cameras and other devices.

- Say it with a graphic: the old ‘circle with a line through it’ over a camera or phone image. You can remind guests that you will happily share your photos later.

- Make signs to place at the entrance of the ceremony site stating the same.

I grabbed this shot at a wedding.

- If you have a DJ for the ceremony have him or her announce it before the start of the ceremony.

- Have your ushers repeat the mantra as they escort people. In a friendly way, with a smile, of course! “Don’t forget to turn off your phone and put it away!” “The couple has designated the ceremony as unplugged.” “No photos during the ceremony please!”

- You can also have your officiant make the announcement.

There are many ways to put it, and the idea is gaining traction. You may want to point out that the love, support and complete attention of guests is a gift to the couple. You can make a statement sound funny, spiritual, emotional, spiritual, or just straight forward – but please consider doing it!

All the professional photographers I’ve worked with agree. And to make it worse – guests are getting in the way of the professional. As the pro is ready to snap the very important photo of the bride walking down the aisle, someone pops out of their seat and blocks the shot (shot blocking?). The couple may have paid many thousands of dollars to have beautiful pictures, only to have it spoiled by someone who won’t get as good a photo anyway.

So keep turn them off and put them away, just for a short time. Take a breath. Enjoy it or bear with it… you can power back up soon enough!

After the ceremony - ok, go!


Photo Credit: Diana Lewkowicz - LIFE CHRONICLED PHOTOGRAPHY


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The hours and moments before your wedding

You’re about to be married. The details are taken care of – the food selected, the cake and flowers are scheduled to be delivered, your marriage license packed … you’re ready for the big day. Or are you? The 24 hours just before the wedding can easily become emotionally overwhelming.

Relaxing - easier said than done.

What’s left to do – other than be nervous? You’ve planned everything else, but planning for the night before and day of your wedding is worth thinking about as well.

Here are a few suggestions to help create a calm and more meaningful lead up to the big day.

Get a good night’s sleep – it’s going to be a long and tiring day. Your mind may be racing, but this is so important – find a way to rest, relax and fall asleep.

If you have a daily routine, such as exercising in the morning, walking your dog or other daily commitments – do as many as possible.

If you’re away from home, staying at your wedding venue or a hotel – take advantage of any amenities they provide. Get a spa treatment, play golf or swim in the morning. Go for a hike. Go to a yoga class. I worked with a couple recently who went kayaking together the morning of their wedding. They said they felt absolutely fantastic, and ready for the ceremony and party.

The bouquet is ready, are you?

Women may have appointments for hair and make-up. Try not to schedule those too early. Sitting around in a robe with hair done and make-up on for hours on end just isn’t all that fun. However, if this is how it has to be – make good use of the time; here are some ways to enhance the wait…

- Bring a few comforting things along – such as family photo albums to look through, reminisce and enjoy, making that connection with the past as you move into your future.

- Bring something inspirational to read.

- Bring some relaxing music to play while getting dressed.

- Talk to someone close to you about their marriage, their wedding day; listen and learn.

- If your bridesmaids, groomsmen, family or special friends are with you – spend some quality time with them. What is quality time, anyway? Simply giving them your full attention, something that will deepen your relationship. It’s good to take your mind off of yourself for a minute. Yes, it is your big day, but it’s also a big day for those you love and love you. Focusing on something or someone other than yourself helps with nervousness and reminds you of your place in the universe.

- Pack a card or notepaper, and write something to send to your partner to read before the ceremony.

Send a note to your betrothed.

Don’t forget to drink water during the day, especially for those outdoor weddings in the heat. (No fainting please!)

And most of all bring your full self – be present, as much as you possibly can.


Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio for the use of these photos!

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A Beer Themed Wedding

I often write about choosing rituals, readings and themes that resonate for couples in real ways. I recently officiated for a couple who loved craft beer and had bonded over beer tasting events. So naturally they wanted a beer theme for their wedding.

You may wonder if this is something best left for the reception, but we found a wonderful way to incorporate the beer into the ceremony itself.

Sharing the beer!

Wine sharing is a popular unity ritual for weddings, so I thought, why not do the same with beer? And the couple enthusiastically agreed. In fact, they had just the perfect beer in mind. It was a 2013 Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing – which was significant because it was the first beer they shared together when they became ‘official’ students of beer. It represented a turning point for them.  I was sure to say that it is rare and awesome beer, really, really good… just like the two of them!

So here’s how it worked: They poured the beer and shared it together, illustrating how they will share all of life’s flavor. I know it sounds a little crazy, but think about it: beer has a long and ancient tradition. It is made all over the world and actually promotes good health – if used in moderation, of course!

The details say a lot.

There is clear evidence that beer goes back over 6,000 years.  Plato is credited with saying: “He was a wise man who invented beer.” Monasteries across Europe have brewed beer for centuries.

Ben Franklin said that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” And Thomas Jefferson said it “softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

Because this wedding consisted of just a very small group guests – 6 couples who were very close with the bride and groom – they wanted to pass the glass of beer around to everyone – to sip and share in the joy of the day and be a part of the ritual. So that’s what we did! They even had a sign that read: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something brewed.

There are many ways to express your love of beer at a reception, of course. Besides serving excellent beers, consider naming your tables for your favorites, giving beer for favors, making your invitation look like a beer label, using hops for boutonnieres, creating a beer garden look for cocktail hour or the reception, create beer bottle centerpieces – so many possibilities!

Beer on the altar rock.

Craft beer is very popular today, and for good reason. As Americans are developing a taste for wonderful beers, brew pubs are popping up. I have wedding coming up soon up at Barley Creek Brewery here in the Poconos, and we also have The Gem and Keystone Pub, which would also be a great location for a wedding, serving ShawneeCraft Beer made next door.

What exactly is craft beer? Well, it must come from a small production facility, meaning 6 million barrels of beer or less annually (approximately 3% of U.S. annual sales). The brewery should be independently owned. And the flavor should be derived from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

Sharing the beer.


People used to use the term microbrewery, but the term craft beer replaced that, probably because large producers co-opted microbrew, with beers like Sam Adams. I’m not saying Sam Adams isn’t good, but it is mass produced.


Serving the best!

So if you love craft beer, imported beer, exotic beer, and just great beer, you can surely find many ways to include your passion for beer in your wedding.


Thank you Garth Woods for the fabulous photos!


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Raising a Glass to the Happy Couple!

What’s a wedding celebration without a toast, most often with champagne? Where did this tradition come from? What does it mean? Why champagne?

The custom of honoring someone through offering or sharing drinks may go as far back as the ancient Greeks, who apparently invented everything. Evidence shows they used drinks in ritualistic ways. The concept of the toast itself can be traced to the 16thcentury. Shakespeare included references to toasts in his work, so we know it was already happening by then.

Over time toasting became so popular in English culture that by the 17th and 18th centuries and ultimately the Toastmasters were born. Toastmasters are a group that fosters public speaking and the art of the toast, and they still are active today. Amazing!

Pouring the bubbly (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)

As secular traditions became more acceptable, champagne became the libation of choice for toasting because it was associated with luxury, royal courts and aristocracy in Europe. It was, and remains, a status symbol.

By the late 19th century it had spread worldwide, used to commemorate any joyous occasion – not only drinking champagne, but traditions like smashing a bottle against a ship for its maiden voice, or throwing champagne glasses onto the floor, as was done in Russia. The things we humans do!

Strictly speaking – champagne is sparkling wine that only comes from the Champagne Region of France, but often, at least in most circles in the U.S. we refer to any sparking wine as champagne. I’m sure the French would beg to differ.

Here are a few tips on toasting etiquette.

Giving a toast!

Someone needs to get the crowds attention, either by tapping on the glass with a utensil, and/or standing up when everyone is seated. Or just have someone announce it.

Be sure everyone’s glasses are filled before beginning your toast.

Water, juice or soft drink, or my favorite, sparking cider, are all totally permissible as a substitute. There should never be any pressure on people to drink alcohol. Encourage kids, too. Just lift up your glass everyone!

The person giving the toast should certainly stand (if able) but sometimes you may ask everyone to stand with you – it’s personal preference. Make it clear by saying ‘please stand and raise your glass.’

Toasts usually come very early in the celebration, definitely before the meal.

The art of toasting.

What do you say? Keep it short and to the point. A few personal remarks are ok, a relevant story, but always in good taste and in keeping with the occasion. No one wants to hold up their glass for ten minutes. Don’t get side-tracked or go off on tangents. A toast is not a roast!

Who gives the toast? At weddings, if you have a best man and woman of honor, make sure each one has the opportunity to add their voice. Sometimes the couple also makes a toast, thanking everyone, and finally, parents are encouraged to also add their voices to the ritual. See why it’s best to keep it on the shorter side?

For a great finish remember to say ‘cheers’ or ‘congratulations’ or something everyone can repeat.  Whatever the language or custom – Cin Cin, Salute, Skol, or Mazel Tov, it really adds to the effectiveness. Then everyone touches their glass with those around them – try to touch as many as possible within natural reach; its bad form to leave out someone near-by. This custom is a way we make contact with one another so be sure to look at the people your ‘clink’ with, as you share the good wishes.

When offering a toast, if you draw a blank, don’t panic – just simply say: ‘to the lovely couple, we all wish you all the happiness in the world! Cheers!’ or something of that nature. It could be the best toast anyone ever heard!

To the happy couple! (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)



Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio   and Lisa Rhinehart  for the use of the wonderful  photos!

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Rainy Day Weddings

They say it brings luck when it rains on your wedding day. But who said this and why? It sounds like rationalization to me – making lemonade out of lemons, but, then again, there’s nothing wrong with lemonade, in fact, I love it.

Rain photos can be amazing! (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)

Digging a little deeper there is a connection to rain and good luck. It’s fertility – which is often the connection with ancient wedding symbols; after all rain does lead to growth of crops. Other symbols connected to fertility are rice being showered on the couple, certain flowers included in a bouquet, especially orange blossoms and marigolds, and going back in time the bouquet itself. Specific herbs were held by the bride to enhance sexuality and fertility.

Then there is the symbolism of rain washing away sorry and cleansing the earth (and perhaps our souls).

A little more obvious is the connection of rain and tears and of course tears of joy are shed on a wedding day.

Another great rain shot (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)

I’ve officiated many weddings on rainy days, and the truth is, all my couples still got married. In fact, they made the most of it, embraced it and were determined not to let a little rain get in the way of their happiness. That’s the way to do it!

As I’ve written many times before: you must have a good back-up plan for outdoor weddings! Assuming you do, also bring some big, beautiful umbrellas along, and even rubber rain boots so you can go outside into the rain for some awesome photographs.

Rent a tent! You must arrange that in advance, and yes, you may be paying for something you don’t use, but it’s worth it for your peace of mind.

Remember when you are trying to decide whether you are going to move indoors or try to remain outdoors, when the forecast is unclear, or it is only slightly drizzling – its not just about you! Older guests may have an especially difficult time, and many will be unprepared to deal with the elements. You want everyone to have a great time and enjoy themselves, not wind up uncomfortable in wet clothes throughout the remainder of the party.

If you are outside and it starts drizzling, have a plan for that, too. Will your officiant skip directly to the ‘I dos?’ I do, but only sometimes. I let the bride make that call. But those buckets of umbrellas can get you through to the end. Occasionally it poured in the middle of a ceremony I was officiating – and when that happened I had the couple and the bridal party leave first – in the way they would for the recessional, followed by guests. We gathered indoors, and we continued with the ceremony. It was actually pretty sweet.

Add some rain songs to your play list. How about Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, Singin’ in the Rain, or the Eric Clapton song: Let It Rain. There are many, many titles out there.

But above all – keep your sense of perspective and remember this is the day you are marrying the person you love – come rain or come shine!


A creative rain photo for sure! (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)



Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio   and Lisa Rhinehart  for the use of the wonderful  photos!

Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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