Recent Posts

Where To Get Married In The US – Find The Best State For You

There’s no doubt about it; whether you’ve never been to the US before or you were born and raised here, the US is full of amazing wedding locations. With 50 states to explore, the search for the perfect location can be daunting, so here is our list of the best states to get married in and why.

Have the perfect beach wedding in Florida or California. Elope on a whim in Las Vegas. Hold a destination wedding in New York or have an eco-wedding at a national forest in Washington. Whatever your tastes are, the US has the location for you that will make your fairytale wedding even dreamier.

Every state has unique scenery and wedding venues to offer. If you’re still wondering what state is best for you, we’ve laid out the best venues and locations for your future wedding.  

Where to get married based on wedding type

Below I’ve compiled a list of the best places to get married for each type of wedding. I haven’t, of course, listed every venue in every city and state, only those extra special ones just to get your juices flowing!

Beach weddings

Beach weddings are the definition of a fairytale wedding. Rushing waves, a setting sun, and beach wedding dresses make for the perfect photos. California is usually everyone’s go-to state when thinking of beach weddings (and they’re right!), but there are many other states that offer even more beautiful beachfront.


Florida has many beautiful beaches to make your wedding picturesque. The weather remains steady and predictable year-round, so Florida is a great option for beach weddings even in the winter months.

Fort Meyers Beach is located on the southwest coast of Florida. The beach boasts “sugar sand”, making the sand extremely soft and pleasant to walk on. If heels aren’t your thing then this beach is the perfect location for your barefoot wedding. The beach also offers many water activities like parasailing, jet-skiing, and even dolphin viewing.

If you’re looking for Florida luxury, try Barefoot Beach Preserve in Naples, FL. Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in Florida. The white sand beaches and light blue water will make for the perfect photoshoot. There is also a beautiful gazebo that overlooks the ocean, which is a great spot for your “first look” photos.

Though the beaches at Naples and Fort Meyers can be expensive wedding venues, not all beachfront locations in Florida are. Try St. Pete Beach, which requires only a $25.00 permit to hold a wedding. 

Located on the west coast of Florida, St. Pete Beach has nearby galleries, shops, and museums. For those nature lovers, turtles and a variety of sea birds are abundant at Fort Meyers Beach.

North Carolina

North Carolina is an often-overlooked state in wedding planning. It is a gorgeous state with many miles of beautiful beachfront.

Bald Head Island is in a special spot geographically, making it one of the only places in the East Coast where the sun rises and sets over the Atlantic Ocean. It is a historic location with a lighthouse that was built in 1817. This location is perfect for those who want a wide variety of photo backdrops. With grass, large trees, beachfront, and the lighthouse, your photos will be dynamic and beautiful.

If you love observing aquatic life, then North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is the wedding location for you. The aquarium is located on the Crystal Coast on North Carolina’s southern Outer Banks. Located on the coast, your guests can choose to remain on the beach or explore the aquarium’s aquatic enclosures. The highlight of the aquarium is its 300,000-gallon ocean tank with a diverse variety of animals from around North Carolina.

Duck, North Carolina is a seaside town with many beautiful wedding venues. The Sanderling Resort offers both private beach ceremonies and lawn ceremonies overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. If you like the beach ambiance but are an indoor person, you can rent out their indoor beach pavilion.


Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about beach weddings if California didn’t make the list. If you love the west coast, check out Half Moon Bay, CA. Just a 45-minute drive from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay has cliffs, brilliant sunsets, vodka distilleries, and of course, beaches. The location provides many guest activities such as beach horseback riding, wine tasting, mountain biking, and even elephant seal viewing.

Pismo Beach is a central California beach town about a three-hour drive north of Los Angeles.  If you have a lot of guests and are looking for a beach to accommodate them, look no farther. Pismo Beach can fit 200 people on the sand. Along with the beautiful beach space, you can rent a number of indoor pavilions for those brides who don’t want sand between their toes.

Destination Weddings

Destination Weddings are a blast because you know all of your guests will get to experience visiting a new place. Getting married is a great excuse to travel and visit new places. Lucky for you, the US is full of amazing spots for destination weddings.


The east coast is full of beautiful destination spots, but one state that is often overlooked is Maine.

New Gloucester, Main, just 35 minutes from Portland, is a rustic and dreamy wedding location. Shady Lane Farms is a popular wedding venue with sixty acres of woods, field, and heirloom apple trees. If you’re looking for a destination wedding that is more on the peaceful side, New Gloucester is the place for you.

Rhode Island

Rosecliff Mansion is a historic mansion located in Newport, Rhode Island. The mansion is a perfect wedding spot for small to medium-sized parties. The mansion’s history dates back to 1899. Your guests will be struck by its grandeur and history once they step foot inside.  Rosecliff Mansion was even used as a set for films, including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, Amistad, and 27 Dresses.


If you and your fiancé/fiancée are the bookworm type, then look no farther than The Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Your guests will be able to dine in a beautiful reading room after the ceremony. The library is conveniently located in Copley Square, so your guests will be able to experience the bustling city of Boston. Near Copley Square are the freedom trail, Boston Tea Party Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Samuel Adams Brewery, and much more.

New York

New York City, NY is perhaps the ultimate destination wedding. If money is no object, try booking The Surrey on the Upper East Side.  Along with being conveniently located by Central Park, shopping, and the Museum Mile, you will not be able to get over the beautiful venue.  Built in 1926, this venue has modern art, spacious guest rooms, and gorgeous views of central park.


For the adventurous couple, Colorado is a great spot to get married. With large lakes and mountains thousands of feet high, your guests will love exploring the outdoors with you. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is the quintessential Colorado location. Nestled in the mountains of northern Colorado, the mountain top location is beautiful in all seasons. Full of pine trees, fireplaces, and wildflowers, your wedding photos will look extra romantic.


The Enhancement Resort near Sedona, Arizona lives up to its name. Located in Boynton Canyon, the resort offers all the views of a beautiful southwestern wedding. Large vermillion-colored rock formations are the centerpiece with beautiful lodges built into the scenery. Guests can enjoy hiking, a pool, and mountain bike rides.

If you’re a big fan of Phoenix, Arizona, then take a look at Heritage Square. The square is over 100 years old and is home to beautiful buildings and gardens. If you’d like to get married on a beautiful lawn or in a lush garden, but still be close to a big city center, Heritage Square has lots of options for you. Nearby, guests can visit the zoo, botanical gardens, and canyon tours.


For the wine lovers out there, look no farther than Sonoma, California. Known for its vineyards and wine tastings, your guests will be kept busy with wine and beautiful views. Vintners Inn has 200 acres of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. The large manicured lawn can seat up to 300 people. If you’d prefer an indoor ceremony Vintners Inn has over a dozen event spaces, including ballrooms, a chapel, and dining rooms.

For those who love the big city, Los Angeles, California is a perfect spot for a destination wedding. The Ebell of Los Angeles is one of the most sought-after wedding locations in the LA area. Constructed in 1927, the building’s architecture is Italian-Renaissance style. You can rent the entire venue, or hold your wedding at either the North or South end of the property. Located on Wilshire Boulevard, guests will enjoy the Urban Light exhibit, multiple museums, and theatres.


Haiku Sugar Mill in Maui, Hawaii is a gorgeous spot for a wedding. With beaches and palm trees, get married next to a sugar mill. The mill was created 150 years ago to produce cane sugar. The mill is now closed but is still well maintained and a beautiful venue. With rustic European architecture, you’ll get all the benefits of a historical building and an ocean view.


Eloping sometimes gets a bad wrap, but it is just as romantic and frankly much less stressful than having a traditional wedding. There are many locations around the US to elope to, and you can cater your eloping experience to exactly what you and your fiancé/fiancée like best.


Many couples choose to elope for the adventure of it all. When you don’t have to worry about guest convenience or accommodation, eloping can take you anywhere around the US.

For those who love to hike, bike, and mountain climb, Rock Mountain National Park in Colorado is a wonderful spot to say I do. Close to Denver, the National Park has lakes, trails, and rivers to keep you and your fiancé/fiancée busy for many days after you tie the knot. You can also horseback ride to beautiful lakes, or even up a mountain peak. Once you get tired of the wilderness, take a car 70 miles to Denver and enjoy the perks of city traveling.


Moab, Utah is another great spot for the couples who love hiking. Moab boasts beautiful red rock formations and beautiful views of the southern desert. Very close to Moab are two national parks, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Hike up to a beautiful arch formation and say, “I do” for the most beautiful picture-perfect moment.

New Orleans

If you’re looking for an eloping location that screams romantic, check out City Park in New Orleans. Filled with giant oak trees, a dazzling rose garden, greenhouse, and sculptures, three are many places inside the 1,300-acre park to get married. After you say your vows, take a stroll around the park to the greenhouse or rose garden. There is nothing more romantic than that!


Tybee Island, Georgia is a popular vacation spot because of its clean beaches and beautiful waves. Have a quiet, intimate, and romantic ceremony on the beach next to the Tybee Lighthouse. After you’ve had your fill of the beach, travel 20 minutes into downtown Savannah. In Savannah, visit the Savannah Historic District, Bonaventure Cemetery, or stroll in Forsyth Park.


San Francisco’s City Hall is one of the most beautiful in the nation, making it a popular spot to elope. The building itself is gorgeous with white architecture and elegance. The building’s entrance with a marble and sandstone staircase is a popular spot for wedding photos, as is a beautiful and sunny rotunda on the second floor.

The beauty of getting married in the heart of San Francisco is you won’t have to go far to find fun things to do and good eats. After tying the knot, visit the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, or see a game at Oracle Park.

Ocean Beach Park in San Diego, California provides beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, city pier, and beautiful stretches of green lawn. If you’re bringing your furry friend along on your elope, this is the perfect location as dogs are welcome. After getting married in the grass or on the sand, head into San Diego for some site seeing. Visit the San Diego Zoo for some fun animal viewing or dive into history in San Diego’s Old Town.


A large reason people elope is because of how affordable it can be. A lot of eloping venues are free, or very close to being free. Bogus Basin in Idaho is a great example of a free location. Hike, mountain bike, or drive your way up the mountain to get beautiful views of the desert below. If you decide to elope in the spring, there will be views of gorgeous wildflowers to accompany you.


Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the first places on many people’s minds when thinking of eloping. Las Vegas has been called the “Marriage Capital of the World” because of how easy and cheap it is to obtain a marriage license. Las Vegas’ Lorenzi Park is a great place to elope away from all of the casinos. As one of the first parks in Las Vegas, the park has beautiful lakes, palm trees, and statues.


Eco-weddings are great for those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint on the day they say, “I do.” There are many ways to have an Earth-friendly wedding, but the easiest way to do this is to choose an outside venue. Get married in the daytime to reduce any need for outside lights, etc.


Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas is located in downtown Dallas without the big-city atmosphere. Couples can get married outside in a vintage garden along with sculptures created by modern artists.  A unique location, guests will be able to see support you on your big day while perusing beautiful sculptures.


Have you ever thought about getting married in a treehouse? At Treehouse Point in Issaquah, Washington, this fantasy can become a reality. Located 30 minutes outside of Seattle and tucked inside a beautiful forest, you will be surrounded by tall trees and greenery. The Treehouse offers overnight accommodations, so feel free to take your woodsy fantasy to the next step and spend the night in a beautiful forest.

Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, Washington offers a lush canopy of greens. It rains frequently throughout the winter season, so be sure to plan for a summer wedding. Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest examples of a temperate rainforest left in the United States. With many nature loops, hiking trails, and a $50 permit, Hoh Rain Forest is the perfect location for an eco-wedding.


If you’d like your eco-wedding to be environmentally friendly and low-cost, consider getting married at a national park. Running Eagle Falls in Glacier National Park, Montana, is a dazzling wedding location that requires only a $100 permit. Check out Two Medicine, a secluded area of the park that is perfect for a private ceremony. Located a walk away from Running Eagle Falls, you can have views of two beautiful waterfalls after the ceremony.

If you’re looking to get married on the beach, a big city, national park, or city park, the US has it all. With thousands of places to choose from, we hope our list brought you some clarity while planning for your big day. Good luck and congratulations!

How to Deal With Difficult Wedding Guests Up to & On the Day

Finally, the big day has come and you are ready to walk down the aisle. But what about those few people you weren’t really sure about inviting to the wedding? Whether it’s obnoxious, drunk or inappropriate guests, you really need to have a game plan as to how to deal with them before it all kicks off!

Knowing who your guests are & how they’ll behave along with crowd control is the best way not to have to become physical with them at your wedding, as are uninvites. Anticipating & preventing unwanted behavior is vital as is getting the right kind of help from a good MC, catering company & venue.

Here are the top ways you can make sure there aren’t any regrets about your wedding guest list.

Before the big day

Dealing with problem guests and those who may intentionally or unconsciously put a damper on your special day begins with the guest list. You need to put all your guests into a certain category and pay particular attention to the type of guests listed below:

Problem guests to avoid

The lightweight

How they’ll ruin your day

These are the classic bad quest, they have too much to drink and end up causing a scene. Either it’s the drunk heckler during speeches, the inappropriate uncle chatting up your friends or the puking teenager who got access to the table wine.

How to deal with them

There are two approaches here, prevention and reaction. Prevention includes identifying likely over-indulges and placing them far away from your top table in the seating plan as well as seating other guests who can set the right tone at their table. Also consider limiting the source of alcohol at the wedding, more on this later on.

Making sure that you have plenty of food, especially dishes which line the stomach, can help slow the onset of drunkenness. Consider offering lots of water and soft drinks if your wedding day turns out to be a scorcher. Also, consider sticking to beer or wine rather than opening up the top shelf of the beer and encouraging people to mix drinks.

Reaction involves having a plan to get people out if they become too disruptive or ill from alcohol. venue staff members trusted friends and even your own MC can be great helpers in removing this type of guest quickly. More on this later!

The black cloud

How they’ll ruin your day

These people are those who are against marriage, jealous of your happiness or just resentful over a recent divorce. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to keep their misery to themselves and may start uncontrollably bad-mouthing the idea from your engagement right through to the wedding day.

How to deal with them

The two best techniques to deal with these misery-guts is either to ignore them or cross them off the list entirely.

We all have those friends who just can’t take joy in the joy of others, a sort of reverse schadenfreude. So, if you have to associate yourself with such friends or family members, just take everything with a pinch of salt and don’t let them chip away at your own happiness.

If you are able, just don’t invite them to your wedding. Especially someone who has had a very bad divorce and is prone to drinking and getting upset about it. It will just be better for both of you not to have to deal with that situation on your special day.

The petulant child

How they’ll ruin your day

These are nieces, nephews or other ankle bitters whose parents will want to bring to your wedding. Either they will scream their heads off at the worse possible moment in the ceremony, or they will get bored and start making mischief.

How to deal with them

There are two main ways to deal with this type of guest that I can think of, my sister took the first approach and one of my aunts the second. Embrace it or replace it!

By embracing I mean make your wedding as kid-friendly as you can. Get a sitter for the more solemn parts of the ceremony, perhaps just an adult or older child to watch the younger ones for the crucial hour. Also, make the wedding fun with games, activities and special areas for kids to get all their energy out. This way they will become a joy rather than a distraction.

Alternatively, you can just inform your guest that you won’t be welcoming children to your wedding. You have every right to do this despite the protests of friends and relatives who are parents. However, make sure that you compensate your guests by ensuring the wedding is a really adult-friendly event that kids really shouldn’t be a part of!

The warring parents

How they’ll ruin your day

Parents of the bride and groom who are no longer together can be difficult to manage. They can’t be in the same room as each other for long before the comments and drama begin. You want them there of course, but you’d rather they left the baggage at home!

How to deal with them

Here you need to nip any drama in the bud early. Speak to each party and explain that you want them there but you don’t want them to make the day about themselves. Once they have been firmly told the lay of the land, make sure that you keep their interaction on the day to a minimum.

When it comes to seating, you may have to give each parent their own special table rather than forcing them to sit together on the top table. his will be especially true if they have new spouses or partners. The same approach can be taken with parents who aren’t divorced but just don’t get on with each other.

Another change in tradition may also have to be in who gives a speech. If the father of the bride’s speech will annoy the mother of the bride you could give them both a chance to speak or neither of them. Just make sure you make your own wishes crystal clear!

The limelight stealer

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the bridesmaid (or groomsman)who always up markets you or the woman who inexplicably wears white to your wedding. They will try to make your day all about them.

How to deal with them

You can either take a passive or proactive approach. If you know your bridesmaid, groomsman or what have you is always desperate to be center of attention you can openly tell them to cool their jets. It’s not easy but they should be able to understand that you want your day to be all about you.

Alternatively, you just need to grin and bear it and perhaps plan your revenge for their wedding when you will do the same. Honestly, you’ll be so busy that things that might bother you on any other day are likely to go under your radar.

The picky eater

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the person who has a particular food allergy or dietary need who didn’t let you know until everyone was sitting down for the wedding breakfast.

How to deal with them

This is where your choice of venue and cater will be important. Most caters are used to catering for people with special dietary needs as well as those with certain allergies. Make sure that they fully brief their service staff on all ingredients for all the dishes. Also, see if you can arrange for a back up for a least a couple of guests who suddenly inform you they can’t eat what’s in front of them.

To stop this happening, you can make it very clear on your invitation cards that all and any dietary needs should be communicated to you along with the RSVP. You’ll never get 100% success in this, so you should just let it go knowing that you tried your best. After all, it’s your wedding day so one hungry guest isn’t worth pulling your hair out over.

The blast from the past

How they’ll ruin your day

These are exes, crushes or even old friends who know your secrets. They bring with them jealousy and intrigue!

How to deal with them

It really depends on the type of person you are and what your spouse thinks. Lea throughout our relationship constantly asked how I’d feel about her asking her ex-fiancé with whom she spent 10 years to our wedding. That’s a firm no baby, even if it was for rubbing it in his stupid face. However, you may feel differently. Just weigh the gain from seeing an old friend and the secret hurt your new partner may be holding inside. My vote is always cross them off the list.

The boaster

How they’ll ruin your day

This is the person who is already married and thinks that their wedding was the best one of the century and won’t stop telling you! They will be most obnoxious in the run-up to the big day.

How to deal with them

They are probably just feeling insecure and nostalgic about when all the focus was on them. I would suggest that you just humor them and let them think that they are ‘the best’.

Even if they critique your plans and choices for your own wedding, it’s not worth getting in a fight or upset over this. The best thing to do if you really need to invite them is to keep them at arm’s length for the big day, and then for as much of your life as you can!

The wedding crasher

How they’ll ruin your day

This is some random person who wanders into your wedding as a lost soul or a devious freeloader. They can drink your bar tab dry and eat all your limited nibbles that were intended for your real guests.

How to deal with them

There are so many key things to remember when preventing wedding crashers at your wedding that I wrote an entire article about this which you can check out here.

At the Ceremony

Know your guests

First and foremost, know exactly who your guests are and which ones you should be concerned about, this means any exes and secret crushes especially! Nothing good can come from a relatively unknown guest showing up and making a huge presence at the reception. Do your research. Ensure that if any phone calls about behavior need to be made ahead of time or in an extreme case an un-invite has to be issued it’s all done in well advance.

It’s best to speak with your wedding planner, if you have one, about the possibility of the people on your naughty list acting out, as this will certainly affect your seating arrangement.

Seating Arrangement

Now that everybody has arrived at the ceremony, it’s time to do some crowd control. The relatives and your best friends should be seated at the front closest to the important part of the room with the lesser-known friends of friends occupying the rear of the room around the exit area.  

A great way to be sure there is no mix up at this point would be to tell anyone who is not close with the wedding party that the guest arrival at the ceremony is a little bit later than it actually is; say be there by 6 rather than 5:30.

This will buy you some time to greet the VIPs and have them seated first where they need to be. Even 30mins could be vital.

At the Reception

Before the Reception to Dos:

Tip 1:

Speak with the venue about security measures and if there will be anybody on-site during the reception. If not get contact and procedure info in the event of an emergency or if somebody needs to be removed giving this information to the MC (Master of Ceremonies) or another delegated person.

Tip 2:

Assign trusted, preferably larger, friends to do crowd control. This will work out great as they will feel helpful as a friend and you basically have yourself some free bouncers!

Tip 3:

If not already known, find out who the “red flag” guests will be with and prepare them for maybe having to speak with their friend and have them calmed down.

Tip 4:

Have cabs or a ride home ready to go at the drop of a hat in case you need somebody removed from the event fast.

Seating Arrangement Again

Finally, the main event of the evening has begun and everyone is seated at the reception. Here, just like the ceremony, you will want to be very careful of designated seats. Luckily, however, here you already have control of where people will sit. Also, just like the ceremony, you will want to distance the more high-risk guests from the head table.

A few extra variables to keep in mind here are the distance to the bar for your party animals, and any guests with a bad history sitting close to each other. For example, relatives that tend to get into fights, exes with new partners or even generational gaps that just won’t see eye to eye.

Trying to add a few kids (if invited) at each table could be a great way to make sure that each table stays under control during the show. This is a crucial pre-wedding consideration that any good wedding planner will bring to your attention right away.

Pre-Approved Speeches

Arguably the most important part of the reception is hearing the great things everybody has to say about the bride and groom during the speeches. A great idea to ensure this goes smoothly is to have your MC prepped with a list of approved speeches ahead of the wedding.

Preferably for the whole duration of the reception but if you must have some last-minute additions, have them sign up beforehand to give you a chance to say “no sorry we just don’t have enough time!” NEVER let the MC open up the floor to volunteers, even early on in the festivities as you never know who might have already drunk too much or has a secret chip on their shoulder.

For my younger brother’s wedding, his new father-in-law made a very awkward speech about my sister-in-law’s ex-boyfriends. He was trying to make a joke but it just went on for too long and some people had their heads in their hands.

Luckily I was best man and being more used to speaking in public (English Teacher) I saved the day and at least got the congregation in a better mood!

Recommended Alcohol Consumption

 Although it is important for everybody to have a good time at your wedding, if you feel like alcohol might be a problem, limiting alcohol consumption might a priority for you.

Great ways to do this would be to have a cash bar or simply limit everybody to 2 or 3 drinks.  This can be done by using a ticket system that would help govern and track how many drinks are accessible by each person.

In an extreme case, that may not be a popular decision, you can have an alcohol free reception. This would certainly help keep everything in line, but beware it may cause quite a few people to head for the door early.

Controlling or Removing a Guest

If in the unlikely event that a guest still manages to get out of line, first, have the people that the guest is with, that you have hopefully already spoken to, have a serious chat with that person about their behavior.

If the problem persists you can ask them to kindly leave in one of the ready to go vehicles waiting outside. In the most extreme case that the guest is still being unruly, you can have one or more of your pre-assigned “bouncer” guests escort them out of the event hastily. 

Above all, try to relax and enjoy your big day. Let some little things slide, as there is bound to be some. Whenever this many people who may not have seen each other in a long time, or are just meeting for the first time, there are bound to be some slip-ups. At the end of this great day, the goal is for everybody to have a good time not to feel like they have just been through a military training exercise.

Here are some important things you may also need to consider…..

How to choose the best MC for your wedding

Being an MC is an extremely important job and can make or break your big day. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with difficult guests. Choosing from your friend group can be risky as resentment could occur should something go wrong.

Choose Somebody Qualified

Should you decide somebody from your friend group, it is very important to choose someone who is QUALIFIED for the job, rather than just the person with who you are closest.

Remember, being an MC requires being in control of and entertaining a large group of people for hours! Make sure this person has a great deal of public speaking experience and is able to handle themselves being put on the spot in a tough situation.

The best candidate would be somebody who has tried some stand-up comedy or performing arts of some kind. This will ensure that they will be able to handle the curveballs and hopefully be able to turn the slip-ups into something enjoyable for the crowd.

Typically humor is the best way to go but a soft touch in this type of moment is important. Try to choose somebody who will be a good mix of both.

In mine and Lea’s case, we needed someone who was bi-lingual (English & Mandarin Chinese) for my younger brother’s wedding he chose a family friend who was a singer in a band and used to entertaining people. Dan, my brother’s MC, really saved the day after some awkward speeches! So, it really depends on the type of wedding and the crowd you have.

Choose a Professional

Believe it or not, there are actually professional MCs that are for hire if you’re willing to spend the money. Most of these are somewhat struggling comedians or perhaps just great speech givers with some free time and a strange hobby looking for a thrill.

There are even sites like that will train you on how to become a professional MC. The best thing to do would be to Google people in your local area or visit a local Toastmasters branch to find somebody that would be suitable for your wedding.

Remember, the goal for the MC is to entertain, control the pace of the day and above all make everybody feel comfortable having a good time and letting loose. Somebody that might be a bit too overbearing or overly too heartfelt, could put a damper on the wedding. This is an important member of your wedding team and you’ll need them to help you with those tricky people on your guest list.

After the ceremony and reception

Of course, all weddings are different, but in my mind, a wedding normally stretches from the early afternoon until the wee hours. So, even if you’ve survived all through the ceremony, wedding breakfast and even the reception festivities, problem guests can still ruin things in the final quarter

Best ways to get your guests home after an event

Getting your guests home safely after your big night can be just as important as the event itself. In the case of your wedding, it is best to be prepared as there is likely to be a lot of alcohol involved. Making this as efficient and pain-free is going to reduce the headache you may get from those certain few people.

Designated Drivers

Having designated drivers, that you can trust, can be a great way for your guests to have as much fun as they want without having to worry about their ride home. This can also be a great way for people who don’t like to drink to interact with other guests and give them a good reason that they aren’t partaking in the drinking for the night.

Designated Driving Company

 If there aren’t any or not enough people willing to be designated drivers, ordering service such as a keys please or a designated driving service is wonderful. These have been growing in popularity over the years and there is likely to be one operating in your area.

They will send out several drivers if you need to drive your guests home in their own cars, so they don’t have to worry about going to get their vehicles in the morning. These also may not be as expensive as you think costing around $25 US per car.

Cabs and UBER

Of course, should you choose to go the traditional cab or UBER route, there is certain to be plenty of those in your area. Just be sure to call them ahead of time to have them at your venue ready to go should it happen to be a busy night for them.

The main goal is to make sure all of your guests are getting home as safely as possible, minimizing the risk of anybody getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

41 Alternatives To Wearing Wedding Rings That Actually Work

Wedding rings are just one of the many ways you can celebrate your love and commitment towards another person. If rings are not for you and your partner, look no farther than our list of 41 alternatives to wearing wedding rings.

If you want to stick with jewelry, try an engraved bracelet, necklace or matching piercings to wear with your loved one. Not into jewelry? Exchange homemade gifts such as blankets or paintings. If you’d rather lean towards experiences, donate your time together volunteering at your local charity.  

There are countless ways to demonstrate your love for one another. Read on for our list of jewelry, gifts, and experiences that work perfectly in lieu of rings when you say, “I do.” 

1: Create a bucket list

A ring is a symbol of your love and the life you want to share together, so why not focus on what you can achieve in life as a couple. Just like your vows, this list can be a promise to each other that your marriage will be filled with fun and adventure.

Try to have a mix of goals that are easily achieved and those which will take more time and effort. Of course, these should be things that you both want to do or can at least do together. Having clear objectives is going to make you more united and is an excellent symbol of your newly confirmed unity.

Mosty importantly, use the money you would have spent on wedding rings to tick a few of those items off the list, especially the more expensive ones. Go see that recording artist live, Get those VIP tickets to watch your favorite sports team, travel in first class to your honeymoon rather than business or economy!

2: Gift a star

The circular shape of a wedding ring is supposed to symbolize the infinite nature of love and the way it endures throughout our lives. Stars live for a long time and although technically finite they are reborn after death (OK, I’m not a scientist, I’m just going for the metaphor here!!).

You can actually buy stars and exchange them as a symbol of the many years and even, dare I say it, lightyears you would go to be with each other as you grow throughout your marriage. You can register your star here ( )

3: Commission a sculpture

If you like the finer things in life or even if you just have a lovely garden which you both love to sit in, a unique sculpture of the two of you (or for the two of you) is something which can last a lifetime.

Depending on you and your spouse, this sculpture can be elegant, playful or even a little bit edgy. Although you can probably find a good deal online, I would suggest that you go down to the local art school and find an artist who you can work with closely. They will be able to give you a better understanding of what you can get for your money.

4: Sponsor a child

Having a bit of bling on your finger is all well and good, but sometimes that warm feeling inside is what really counts. Money can’t by you love as Lennon and McCartney would say but it can sure do a lot for those in need.

Working with a children’s charity either at home or abroad can really make a difference in this world and give your union even more significance. As the average price of rings can range from $1000 to $5000 per spouse, that’s a big chunk of cash which could help change the most vulnerable lives on our planet.

5: Sponsor an animal

If you aren’t a people person, then perhaps animals are more up your alley. Although helping humans is very important, sponsoring animals and working with animal charities can leave a longer legacy.

That money earmarked for your wedding bands could help preserve some of the endangered animals which are on the brink of extinction. It could also help with abandoned or mistreated domestic animals who need a home. What could be a better symbol of your commitment to each other than showing your commitment to the continuation of other species in this world!

6: Climb a mountain

Marriage is hard and it takes a huge amount of effort to overcome what life will throw at you. Many marriages will break down because couples don’t realize that they need to work together and understand that they can rely on their spouse.

Achieving something extremely difficult like climbing a mountain can remind you just what you can get done when working as a united front. Now, you don’t need to scale Everest to prove you are a worthy couple but do set yourself a challenge. Being up there in the clear mountain air without the sound of the distracting modern world, if nothing else, will give you a chance to reflect on the wonderful journey you are both embarking on in your lives!

7: Burial plot

OK, this one is a bit weird to talk about on your wedding day, but it’s extremely poignant and does speak of a long-lasting commitment!

We don’t know where life will take us but we do know that along with taxes, death is the only other certainty. Depending on your religion and wishes for your earthly remains, reserving parallel burial plots can be a quirky way of saying I love you. You’ll know better than me if your spouse will go for it or not, but remember that the price of real estate is growing every day, so lock-in those plots early!

8: Write a poem

As a marriage matures and other aspects of life take over, we sometimes take it for granted and forget to tell our spouse what is in our hearts. So, why not get it down on paper and express your love in verse.

You can be poetic or funny depending on your personality but make sure that you tell your spouse how much you cherish them and can’t wait to spend your life with them.

You can even plan to give them additional poems on each significant anniversary so that they can build up an anthology of your poems to read and treasure over the coming years.

9: Restore a car

Alright, hear me out on this one! For the price of the average rings, you could probably buy a beat-up classic car and then restore it together. Of course, this won’t be for everyone and it shouldn’t be something which you lose your spouse to.

Instead, this is a project which you are going to complete together and when you finally drive that fully restored car out of your driveway and down the freeway with your hair blowing in the wind, you’ll know you can achieve anything together.

A ring is just a sign of commitment, but as far as I can tell you can’t make your friends and neighbors jealous by riding around in a vintage, souped-up wedding ring!

10: Get IVF

As we have discussed before, wedding rings aren’t cheap. Nor is the process of conceiving children when you or your spouse are less than fertile.

My beautiful niece who is just finishing her first year in high school would not be here without this medical marvel, and luckily my brother and sister-in-law got lucky the first time! So, if you are aware that you are infertile or perhaps, like my wife and I, have met later in life then this may be something you need to think about.

Therefore, I think you’d agree that you’d exchange a wedding band for a bundle of joy every single time!

11: Tattoos

Tattoos are one of the more popular replacements for wedding rings. Why not pay homage to your love with something that will last on your body forever? I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of couples with beautiful and delicate tattoo rings on their fingers. Tattoo rings are great, but the tattoos don’t even have to be a ring to signify your marriage.

You can get a matching or similar couple tattoo anywhere on your body. If you want to get tattoos but matching tattoos aren’t your style, talk to your partner and pick out a meaningful symbol for each of you that in some way signifies your bond. You can’t go wrong here, so let your creativity soar!

12: Piercings

Piercings are very non-intrusive and comfortable compared to taking a ring on and off every day. Depending on the piercing, you often forget you even have it. If you and your partner are feeling edgy, get piercings together and pick out the jewelry for each other. If you get your ears or nose pierced, you can pick out jewelry that looks like a ring to keep the symbolism of an endless circle of love.  

13: Necklaces

Necklaces are a good jewelry alternative to rings if you want a symbol of your love that is clear and public. There are many different types of necklaces so this option can be for everyone. You could get a simple pendant with a gemstone on it, a locket with your partner’s photo, or a necklace that has their name or initials on it.  

14: Dog tags

Assuming that you aren’t already a serviceman or woman and can’t do this, you can show your love and who you belong to by donning an identification necklace. You can include things such as your wedding date, spouse’s name and a quote symbolizing your love (you could also add other more mundane information such as blood type).

For women, you can get a prettier version of the military-style dog tag so that you aren’t embarrassed to wear it while in your cocktail dress. It’s a different route to take if your spouse doesn’t want to wear a standard necklace.

15: Bracelets

Bracelets are simple, easy to take off, and can be engraved. Get your wedding date and initials engraved on the inside of your simple silver bracelet. You can also opt for charm bracelets and handpick charms for the other person. This can be something that you add to on important anniversaries throughout your marriage.

Silver not your thing or outside of your budget? Simple twisted bracelets that are cloth or leather also make beautiful accessories.

16: Watches

Watches are like bracelets except even more functional. Now every time you glance down to look at the time, you are reminded by the person you love most in the world. Pick out each other’s, or even get matching watches if you wish.

You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money here and you can even get custom watches with your photo on the face of the watch itself. Engraving watches is also possible and it’s just something which reminds you of your loved one every hour or every day!

17: Matching Wallets

Your wallet is something you have on you every time you leave the house. And when you forget it, you definitely feel like something huge is missing.

Having a matching wallet with your fiancé will keep them with you each time you’re away. You’ll have a piece of them with you everywhere. This is subtle enough that your bond can be treasured together without feeling the need to showcase it to the world.

18: Engraved wallet card

Perhaps there is no way you and your fiancé would settle on a wallet design that you both like, but you still enjoy the idea of having them with you all the time in a creative way.

An engraved wallet card is the solution for you. You can get beautiful lightweight silver cards that say your names, the dates of your relationship, and anything else you want on it. Add a quote that reminds you of them or a line out of their favorite book. Check out these awesome wallet cards on this website.

19: Wallet Pictures

A picture truly is worth 1,000 words. If you love feeling connected to your loved one there is no better comfort than being able to look at a picture of them anytime you want.

Although nowadays our cellphones make that easy enough, there is something a bit more special about a printed out wallet photo. It is more readily available, and people will be able to see your love and commitment every time you open your wallet.

You can also make this fun, sexy or glamorous. Bearing in mind that this could be seen by anyone who happens to catch a glimpse of your spouse’s wallet, a nicely posed photo would be best. You can dress up, visit an important monument or site, or even do something a little riské. Whatever you do makes sure that when your spouse sees the photo every time they reach for their cash or credit card it brings a smile to their face.

20: Engraved Pens

A lot of people have a favorite pen. This is especially true for people in a profession when writing by hand is important.

Finding a pen that writes smoothly with the perfect thickness is always a satisfying feeling. Get your partner an engraved pen that has your initials on it and your wedding date. Or, engrave the pen with a favorite quote or phrase. If you get a refillable pen, you’ll have each other’s engraved pens for life. You can order engraved pens online on Amazon, check out the great deals they have today

21: Matching phone cases

Something else that is with you all the time is your phone. Why not get matching phone cases? There are some great online websites for customizing your phone case. Check out Collage, a website that allows you to choose a picture or multiple pictures of you and your fiancé to create a beautiful and unique phone case that only the two of you share.

22: Perfume or Cologne

There is nothing better than the smell of your fiancé. That smell is the definition of comfort for you. Pick out a cologne or perfume scent that you love and give it to them. Scents are very personal, and your fiancé will be reminded of you every time they get ready in the morning.

If you want to go beyond just buying a scent for your spouse, you can actually make them yourself! Search online for a custom scent or fragrance and you’ll find lots of options. Alternatively, you can search for a local store where you can actually create it yourself!

23: Shoes

Shoes are a great gift especially if you are both the outdoorsy type. If you think you are going to spend a lot of time hiking, climbing, or camping together, then trading a nice pair of outdoor shoes is a wonderful testament to your relationship. I still have some hiking boots which I bought in the 20th century and they are going strong more than 20 years later!

Getting each other shoes that will protect their feet and be comfortable during your favorite activities is a great metaphor for your long-lasting and stable relationship. If you know your spouses’ shoe size then you can get a great deal on many brands on Amazon. However, this may be something you need to skip the surprise on and just go together to a shoe store!

24: Trade your Favorite Books

If you and your fiancé(e) are more of the bookworm type, sharing your favorite books is an extremely personal and meaningful gift. Instead of rings, trade books and read them simultaneously. If possible, you could source an early addition and include a card with a personalized note in the jacket or a special bookmark so that your loved one can be reminded of you whenever they pick up a book.

You can learn a lot from each other through the literature that makes you happy. Every anniversary you can trade another book and eventually you will have an entire bookshelf full of testaments to your love.

25: Video games

Sharing video games is similar to sharing books. For the gamers out there, videogames can bring back fond memories of childhood, college, and adulthood. For this one, you can either gift each other your favorite games, or choose an entirely new game that you can play together.

If you opt for the latter, buy a new multiplayer game each anniversary you have. Accumulating shared games together will build fond memories of quality time and awesome teamwork.

You could also go bigger and actually buy an arcade gaming unit that you can place in your marital home. They not only look cool, but it’s a nice link between childhood when we all dreamed of our adult life and the cool spouse who made all your teenage dreams come true!

26: Quilt blankets

Quilted blankets are fun and personal because you can make them out of your favorite patterns and t-shirts. For the crafty types, trade personalized quilted blankets on your wedding day.

If you travel a lot together, collect all of the t-shirts from the different places you’ve been to. You can create themed blankets based on their favorite sports team, animal, or place.

27: Exchange Gemstones

Gemstones represent different things based on the gem. Pick out the perfect stone for your loved one and they can keep it on them as their good luck charm. Check out this website to see which gemstones mean what so you can pick out the most meaningful and beautiful stone for your fiancé.

28: Paintings or Drawings

This is a great one for artistic types. Create a drawing or painting that symbolizes your relationship, frame it, and give it to your fiancé. You can each create your own and unveil them at the same time on your wedding night.

These paintings will be the perfect decorations in your future house or apartment. When people come over they’ll get to witness what a cute and creative couple you are.

29: Commission a Portrait

If you like the idea of a painting that symbolizes both of you but don’t quite have the painting skills, then commission an artist to do a portrait of you. There are many artists that specialize in portraits of couples.

Look for a local artist, or commission someone online. Instagram is a great place to look for artists who accept commission work.

30: Frame Your Wedding Certificate

A lot of people put their wedding certificates in a safe place, file, or drawer and then forget about them. Framing your wedding certificate is an easy and affordable way to demonstrate your love. Pick out a beautiful frame and hang it proudly in your house. Who said degrees are the only certificates that deserve a frame? 

31: Frame Your Vows

Even more personal than your wedding certificate are the vows you wrote for each other. After the ceremony, frame the vows you wrote down. You can get a dual picture frame like this one on Amazon, or buy separate frames and hang them up next to each other. 

If you have an office at work, you could always use your partner’s vows to decorate. When the work hours are long and your coworkers frustrating, you’ll be reminded that not everything is so bad because you have them in your life.

A caveat to this is if you have terrible handwriting as I do, you may want to commission a caligrapher to rewrite the vows in a beautiful font or you could even type them up on the computer and use an attractive Google font. It depends on whether you want to be able to read the words or appreciate the sentiment!

32: Planting Trees

This is a great green solution to commemorate your love. If you have a yard, plant two trees together to represent your personal growth and the growth you will do together as a married couple. As you grow old, your saplings will too, forever reminding you of your lifelong commitment.

You can also use this as another charitable act by getting a tree planted through an organization such as or even, if you are religious, getting a tree planted in Israel (Jewish National Fund).

33: Potted Plants

So you would love to plant trees but live in an apartment… or have simply always loved plants! There’s nothing better than caring for a plant as you watch it grow. Pick out a plant that you think represents your partner in some way and vise Versa. It will be fun to see what the other person chooses for you. Care for them and watch them grow together. Shop local, or check out this awesome website that delivers plants right to your door.

34: Get a Pet

For the animal lovers out there, this is a great way to put your love, hard work, and commitment to the test. Nothing says, “we’re together for the long run” like caring for a living creature together. Raising a cat or a dog can really teach you about the person you love. You’ll get to see a side of them that you’ve never seen before, and really feel like you hit the jackpot with your marriage.

Unfortunately, you may also find out your place in the hierarchy of your home! In my house it goes – my wife – Mia (the dog) than me at the bottom. It’s not what my wife and I decided, it’s all down to the beta female who lives with us!

35: Travel fund jar

No material item can measure up to an amazing experience. Instead of buying each other rings, save the money you would have spent and put it towards a travel fund jar.

Add to the jar incrementally, and together you’ll be able to raise the funds to go wherever you’d like. A cruise in the Bahamas? An exciting adventure in Taipei? Hiking in Iceland? You name it! Saving for something you both want to do together will further strengthen your bond as partners. You can decorate your jar together with puffy paint, stickers, glitter, permanent markers, or mod podge.

36: Traveling

Perhaps money is not an issue, and instead, you would like to demonstrate your love for one another by picking a new spot to travel to each wedding anniversary. Choose a spot you’d both really love to go to. If you can’t settle on a place alternate who chooses each year.

There are some great websites that can plan your vacation for you in one big bundle including flights, accommodations, and activities. Check out this site for some great travel inspiration.

37: Volunteer activity

Volunteering is extremely fulfilling, and doing so with your partner is even more so. Choosing a cause you feel passionate about and sharing that with your loved one is an irreplaceable way to showcase your love to each other and for humanity. On or near each wedding anniversary spend a few hours volunteering with your favorite local non-profits. It’ll make you feel closer to your spouse and your community. 

38: Donate to a Charity or Nonprofit

Both you and your fiancé should pick out a cause they feel strongly about and donate to it on your wedding night. I’ve spoken about animal and children’s charities, but you could also think about local as well as international charities and organizations.

Even if it is just a small contribution, you will feel great about supporting a good cause that is important to your partner. Each anniversary you both should pick another (or stick with the same) organization to donate to. If money is tight, even $5 will go a long way and leave you feeling happy you helped.

39: Share and Cook Recipes Together

This is a great idea if you and your partner both love cooking. Everyone has their favorite recipes from when they were growing up. Share your favorite recipes with each other and cook them together every anniversary.

Food can be very personal, and sharing a favorite meal is a romantic experience especially if you made it together. Once you go through all of your favorite recipes, get creative and create a new one together.

This can be your anniversary meal that you revisit each time you celebrate another year together. Take it a step farther and put all the recipes you make together in a cookbook. Check out this website that helps you create your very own cookbook. 

40: Locks on a Bridge

A few years ago a picture of the love lock bridge in Paris, France went viral. My brother (my youngest one this time) actually proposed to my sister-in-law on that very same bridge!

The idea is you and your partner write your names on a lock, lock it to a bridge, and throw away the key. The idea is your love is everlasting and nothing will be able to open the lock. This love bridge is not the only one that exists! After the picture went viral many cities around the world started creating their own love bridges.

I even did the same thing on a bridge in Bordeaux where I met my wife. I did it just before she had to leave for Taiwan and she wasn’t sure if our relationship would last, I knew differently!

Check out this list of cities that has a love lock bridge, travel to one, and add your love lock.

41: Do Nothing

You’ve read through all of my suggestions for wedding ring replacements and still, nothing really struck you as a proper representation of your love. And you know what, that’s probably true!

The love you share with your partner is something that is unbreakable, unique, and always changing. It is not always realistic to pin a material possession or even an experience down to represent your connection.

If you don’t want a wedding ring or anything that can symbolize one, then you don’t have to have one. Your love is deeply personal and will always be there for you so there is no need to confine it in any one thing or experience.

Buying A Wedding Dress Online (Pros & Cons, Tips, Dangers)

Buying a wedding dress online is a cost-effective and underrated way to find your perfect wedding look. While online shopping for your big day can be nerve-wracking, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you get it right. Follow our tips (mainly my wife’s input here!) to say yes to the perfect dress.

To make sure you’re happy with the dress you pick, you need to know what styles look the most flattering on you, your measurements, your favorite fabrics, and a good alternations shop. You should order a year ahead to be safe, and do your research on the best and most reliable online shops for wedding dresses.

There are many things to think about when choosing your perfect dress. Here’s our complete guide for the pros, cons, tips, and websites with ordering your wedding dress online.

Perks of Buying Your Wedding Dress Online

It’s increasingly common for brides to shop for their dresses online. Online shopping is convenient, cheaper, and affords you many more style options. Especially if you live in a small town, where shopping for dresses can be limited to those one or two wedding shops in your area. In today’s digital age, online shopping just makes sense.

It’s just less intense

The convenience of shopping online for a dress is very alluring. Instead of spending an exhausting day trying on dresses, you can shop from the comfort of your own home.

Going in stores to try dresses is often a very emotional experience with a lot of outside pressures. The clerk is trying to make a sale, your mom loves a dress that you hate, and the dress you love best is out of your price range.

Shopping online can diminish all of these problems. If you would still like your mom or best friends around while you make the big decision, they can help you narrow down your options after you pick out three to five favorite dresses.

If you’d like to shop in peace, you can choose your gown and hold a viewing party once it arrives. This will mean no arguments about which dress looks best, but the special people in your life can still enjoy the “ah!” moment of seeing you in your dress for the first time.

You’re not on show

People who tend to be shy or do not like a lot of attention may not like wedding dress shopping. Standing on a platform, being dressed in your undergarments by someone else, and modeling dresses for an audience can be anxiety-inducing. For brides who feel this way, online shopping is a great alternative.

It’s going to be cheaper

Shopping online for dresses is often cheaper than going in-store. If budget is an issue, you have a wider variety of stores and dresses that are within your price point. The worst feeling is going to a bridal store only to discover that there are only two dresses that are within your budget and you don’t love either of them.

While it is possible to just pack up your things and make an appointment at a different store, it’s much easier and less of a hassle to shop online.

Shopping online makes it possible to compare price points for similar dress styles. You’ll be able to get the best bang for your buck. You can find wedding dresses online for as affordable as $50 USD.

People often think the more expensive the dress is, the more beautiful. This is an outdated notion that is not true at all. You should be able to have a beautiful wedding without breaking your bank and look your absolute best while doing so.  If you’d like some recommendations for some affordable wedding dress websites, scroll down to the “Recommended Websites” portion of this article.

There’s more choice

With the Internet at your fingertips, you can have an almost unlimited option of wedding dress styles to choose from. There are ball gowns, empire, sheath, dropped waist dresses, and many more.

There is a flattering silhouette for everyone and you’ll have more luck finding the perfect dress when you can browse hundreds of options. 

Downsides of Online Shopping for Your Big Day

Shopping online can be a nerve-wracking not to mention an overwhelming experience. You may not get a dress that looks exactly like you pictured it from the photo. Let’s face it. Shopping online sometimes comes with its risks! But, by thinking through all the cons of online wedding dress shopping you can minimize your stress if you do decide to go the digital route.

Too many options

While having hundreds if not thousands of dresses to look at with the click of a button can be exciting, it can also be extremely overwhelming. The models chosen for the dresses make the dresses look immaculate, so it’s easy to look and feel like you love each and every dress.

Online shopping can take a long time if you are someone who likes to browse through all the options. Luckily websites have a way to narrow down the options you see based on color, price, and style, but if you don’t know what you want before diving in you could be in for a trying experience.

Looks can be deceiving

There is never a guarantee that the dress you see in the picture will look like the exact dress that lands on your doorstep.

It is extremely important to do your research on websites before you decide which company to buy your dress from. If you prefer to get your dress from an independent seller such as on etsy or ebay, make sure you are buying from a reputable seller.

If the seller does not have any reviews do not buy the dress. You can minimize your fear and the likelihood of buying a dress that isn’t what you imagined by reading up on websites and customer reviews.

The only caveat to this is that when dealing with a local seller on eBay or, say craigslist, you have the option to see before you buy in many cases. You can just say, especially with eBay, that you want to see it and you’ll buy it there and then in front of the seller if you do like it.

Getting the right size

Almost every bride gets alternations on her dress, and alternations can get expensive. Make sure you know your sizing well so you know what size to order. Not being able to try on the dress before it comes can increase the risk of having a lot of alternations to do.

It would be a shame to save money on an online dress but end up spending even more money on alterations. Read customer reviews to see if the garment is true to size, small, or large.

However, in an industry such as this, reputable websites are used to the needs of their customers and usually provide excellent information on measurements. It’s just your job to make sure you are using the correct system when you measure yourself for the dress. Don’t confuse inches with centimeters or something like that!

Tips to Get It Right

An online wedding dress gone wrong can be avoided with proper planning. Here are the best tips for making sure you get it right.

1. Know Your Measurements

You will have a much greater chance of ordering the correct size if you know your body measurements. All wedding dress sites have a measurement guide. Trust that guide.

If the measurements they list show you are a size up or down than usual and you are tempted to get your normal size, do not. The website knows it’s products better than you do. Choose the size that fits your largest measurement. Your dress will probably need to be altered anyway, and it is much easier to alter a dress in than out. For a guide on how to measure yourself, watch the short video below.

2. Think in Wedding Dress Sizing

Wedding dress sizing is different than buying your average sundress. If you are buying a dress that has been used before (from eBay or some similar site), make sure they give you the measurements and not just the size.

Often sellers will list the size but not account for any alterations made. If only the size is listed but you love the dress, message the seller for the specific measurements in order to make sure you’ll fit the dress.

3. Know Your Body Type

Ordering a dress online means you won’t be able to try it on before you buy it. There are many wedding dress silhouettes that complement different body types. Make sure you know what your body type is so you have a greater chance of looking amazing in the dress you pick out.

Body typeWidest
DiamondWaistShoulder – Bust – Hips
Shoulder – BustWaist – Hips
RectangleShoulder – Bust
Waist – Hip
Hourglass Bust – Hips Waist
TriangleWaist -Hips Shoulder – Bust
PearHipsShoulder – Bust – Waist

4. Know What Silhouette Looks Best on Your Body Type

Now that you know your body type, it’s time to figure out which wedding dress silhouette looks best on you. You are obviously welcome to choose any dress you like best regardless of it is the recommended silhouette for your figure.

Dress typeBody Shape
Ball GownPear – Oval
Dropped waistHourglass – Diamond –
Inverted Triangle
Trumpet Inverted Triangle – Hourglass
EmpireRectangle -Triangle
A-lineall body types

5. Know Your Fabrics

A dress can look beautiful online but when you purchase it the fabric texture and stretchiness are not what you imagined. This can be avoided altogether if you are familiar with fabrics. Spend some time in a fabric shop near you to get used to what different fabrics feel like.

Many popular wedding dress fabrics include satin, chiffon, tulle, and lace, but there are many more.

6. Order your Dress With Plenty of Time to Spare

You must order your dress at least nine months in advance. A year is recommended, but nine months can go by in the blink of an eye. Ordering far enough ahead allows you the time to return the dress and order another if the first doesn’t work out.

It also will give you plenty of time for alterations. If you order far in advance it cuts down the stress you will feel in the future if there is something you’d like to change about the dress. Do yourself a favor and cut down on your own stress by being proactive.  

7. Read Product Descriptions

Even if a dress looks like your dream come true in the picture, make sure to read the entire product description. Although this can be arduous, it ensures you are getting exactly what you see. The description can tell you important information about the sizing and fabric of your dress.

If you find yourself on a scammy website, you can quickly realize if their dresses are not what they seem by reading the description. There are horror stories of brides ordering full-length dresses that came in the mail as a mini dress. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by being as detail-oriented as you can.

8. Research the Store

When choosing what store to buy your dress from, research, research, research. Make sure their website looks reputable. Read online reviews of products and search for forums so you can read advice from others who bought their wedding dresses from the same company.

You should also make sure to understand the store’s return policy back to front. A dress that looks amazing may not be worth it if you cannot return it. Shipping costs are also an important consideration. A site’s dresses may look cheap until you realize that shipping doubles the cost of the dress. Do your research ahead of time to avoid being disappointed in the future.

9. If You Like It, Buy It

Like we mentioned before, more and more brides are ordering their dresses online. If you find a dress you love you need to act quickly to ensure it will be yours. While it is true that online stores often have more stock than physical stores, it does not mean that this stock is never-ending. If you are on a popular wedding website or you know the dress is a hot commodity, make sure to act fast.

10. Ask Questions

Even though you are not in a physical store to try on your wedding dress, you can still ask questions. Message the seller or the company to ask specific questions about the dress you have your eyes on, shipping times, the materials, and the return policy. Never be worried about bothering the seller. It is their job to answer your questions about their product and put your mind at ease. You can never ask too many questions, especially regarding such an important purchase.

Also, don’t be afraid to jump on the phone and actually chat with the store owner or staff members in real-time. A 5-minute conversation could save you hours, weeks or months in the future when it’ll really count.

11. Try on Your Dress Properly

If you’ve already decided on your perfect dress and are waiting for it to come in the mail, it is important to try it on properly when it arrives to see if it is the dress for you.

Make sure when you take it out of its packaging that you have a clean surface to place it on like a freshly made bed. Ensure that your furry friends are out of the room. You don’t want any fur or anybody chewing on your gown!

Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you try on your dress. If the dress has a back zipper you should step into it, and if it has a side zipper pull it over your head. Let your helper zip you up, making sure they clasp the top before zipping if applicable.

Make sure that you perform all the movements you’ll be expected to make during the wedding ceremony such as walking, sitting and even a little dance. This will help prevent some unwanted surprises later on when you can’t physically do something in your beautiful gown.

Now that you’ve tried on your dress correctly you can decide what alterations need to be made and if it really is the dress for you. 

Recommended Websites for Wedding Dresses

Merely googling “wedding dresses” yields tens of thousands of results, so we’ve compiled a list of great websites you can feel confident ordering your dress from.


BHLDN is Anthropologies’ wedding dress line. The website is extremely popular and dresses range from $250 – $4,000 USD. If you have a bit more to spend and are looking for a trusted and popular company, BHLDN is the shop for you.

2. Floravere

Floravere has taken a lot of the anxiety out of purchasing the right size dress with their sample size policy. They allow customers to purchase a sample size 0-24 to be shipped to your house before you commit to the size. This popular website ranges in price from $505-2,600 USD.

3. Etsy

Etsy is a website for independent sellers, which offers a huge variety of affordable wedding dresses. There are casual looks, bohemian, traditional, vintage, and more. Make sure you research each seller well before purchasing. Etsy dresses start at $150 USD. 

4. eBay

Like Etsy, eBay offers a large variety of dresses due to the large number of independent sellers. You can easily get a beautiful lightly used gown from eBay and no one would be the wiser. eBay is an amazingly affordable platform, with dresses starting at $50 USD. Make sure to message the seller you are buying from to get clear details about sizing.

5. The Outnet

The Outnet is a great website for brides wanting a designer dress on a budget. This site often has great discounts, so check often to get discounts up to 50% off. Search by style or designer to more easily navigate the website. The Outnet dresses range from $200-10,000 USD.

6.  Nearly Newlywed

Nearly Newlywed offers many beautiful dresses for an affordable price. The website is easy to navigate, offers clear sizing details, and is a popular and reputable website. There are many different silhouettes to choose from in their diverse inventory. Nearly Newlywed prices range from $200 – $5,000 USD.

So, how about it? Are you ready to dive into the realm of online wedding dress shopping? If you are, make sure to have fun, relax, and most importantly congratulations on your special day! 

25 Surprising Things That Make A Wedding Without Dancing Fun

Dancing is not the only option for an activity at a wedding.  It seems every wedding follows this tradition, but this is not for everyone and nor should it be. 

Not everyone can or wants to dance at their wedding. You don’t have to and you shouldn’t feel bad about having a wedding without dancing. There are a lot of options for things to do on your wedding day that don’t involve dancing.  You and your guests can have just as much fun doing other activities.

We now the ability to rent or purchase almost any type of product and service. Your imagination is the only thing stopping you from your danceless wedding. 

Why do people have a wedding without dancing?

There are many reasons that people want to have a wedding without dancing. For one, they want to be different and step outside of the normal wedding playbook.

For some, it is a staple, but others it is getting stale. Another reason may be that the couple or someone close to them does not have the ability to dance. They may be in a wheelchair or have another ailment that restricts movement. 

The last major reason could be for culture/religion. In many parts of the world, it is considered rude to have dancing at such events. Also, some major religions forbid it. By not having dancing, you are being more inclusive and not having people who feel left out. 

Ultimately, you want a focus for your wedding which can bring all your guests together and make a lasting memory for all. So, if dancing isn’t your bag, you’ll need to start thinking outside the box. Luckily, I’m here to help.

Here are 25 surprising things for making your wedding fun without dancing. 

1: Backyard Games

Who doesn’t love to play them? You could have multiple types of games. There is always something that suits everyone.  This could be done almost anywhere and could be fairly cheap if you already have the equipment or can borrow from friends. 

If someone is not particularly interested, they could always help out with something or just relax. The other great thing is this could easily be made kid-friendly and you wouldn’t have to worry about entertaining them. Some amazing games are, but not limited to are horseshoes, giant Jenga, beanbags (cornhole), can jam, ladder ball, bubbles, ring toss, bocce ball. If it rains you could always have most of these indoors. 

Other options are to have a kid and adult-friendly adventure park created with assault courses and perhaps a bouncy house. Of course, you’ll have to organize for everyone to wear appropriate clothing or make the games fit your chosen dress code.

2: Hotpot

It is common around the world to cook your food when you go out to eat. In places like Taiwan and China, a famous dish is hotpot.  With this, you can have many options for people to cook meat or vegetables in boiling water.

The guest can customize it any way they like. The food can be savory,  spicy, vegetarian, or even vegan, the options are endless. This is a great way to introduce people to your local culture or a new one and you could even have chopsticks, which are even more fun.  You could go to the restaurant where they take care of everything or have these at your venue. 

Another spin on this idea is to have helpers who will explain the process and give guests some information about what they are eating. It certainly gives people a talking point and makes any wedding supper more communal. Something like this is ideal if you don’t want an extended wedding reception, so the main event really is the food.

3: Korean BBQ

This again is a great way to get people together interacting without dancing. Korean BBQ is similar to regular BBQ, but with smaller grills and people are usually sitting around a table.  You also cook, cut and serve it all yourselves. It is a team effort.

The table has a lot of side dishes such as steamed egg and kimchi. It uses different cuts of meat and vegetables that people may not be used to, so it can be a great cultural experience as well. It could just be adapted to using regular grills and people still could use it that way.  It is also easily vegetarian and vegan adaptable. 

If you like the idea of a BBQ wedding but aren’t too sure about the Korean theme, you could also do something similar with more American ingredients. The kids at the very least will love this, especially if they get to help cook (with close supervision of course!)

4: Volleyball, Kickball, Softball, Football

These are just a few games that can be easily set up, that all can play. Team games are a way to bring everyone together while doing something fun. The wedding could also be at one of these venues, and if the couple and their families love one these sports it could make it that much more memorable.

You don’t just have the option to play the game you could go to one of them and have the wedding there.  Most sports teams, especially minor league ones would be happy to have a ceremony or for you to be acknowledged during the event. Minor league baseball games in the summer could be a perfect place. 

5: Board and Card Games

Board and card games are making a big comeback. You have the choices of quick simple games or ones that could take up a few hours. The ability to get different types of games is quite accessible nowadays. 

Game clubs and shops have options that you can purchase or rent the games. One could even hire a professional to come and explain the rules and how to play to your guests. This option is adaptable to anywhere and has an easy setup/cleanup. It is also inclusive of all age groups and can be done anywhere. 

6: Murder Mystery

If you and your guests love a puzzle, then organizing a murder mystery wedding could make you the talk of the town. This can be done in several ways from hiring actors (or recruiting friends and family) to act out scenes that the larger congregation can use to solve the case to including everyone.

If you are going to have a smaller wedding, giving everyone a role in the mystery night is not only possible but likely to make the event even more enjoyable. You can purchase entire scripts online including audio files if needed or even write your own story.

7: Scavenger Hunt

This could be a traditional one where people go out and look for objects or a more updated version.  You could not only have them find things and or get people to do things on camera (within reason) ie. Take a photo hugging a fireman. But you could ask questions as well. Such as “What is the groom’s favorite food?, Find a woman wearing a hat of the couple’s favorite football team?” etc.

You can really have fun with this. Depending on the location and venue you may want to have a backup plan in case of inclement weather. At the very least, this is a great idea for younger guests who may not find other more traditional wedding proceeding so entertaining.

8: Indoor Games

If you are having an indoor wedding without dancing, try games. Ping-pong (table tennis) tables can be rented, bought or borrowed easily.  If you want to have more variety, foosball is another game that takes up little space.

Bean bags (corn hole) can be played indoors as well. Dartboards and pool tables are also classic entertainment. These games can also be turned into different ones when adult beverages are brought into the mix and the situation calls for it. Beer pong and quarters are two games that are easy to play and can also be adapted to use water.  These games could also be at a special venue or brought to your own venue very easily.  

9: Live Entertainment

Is something that people usually only see at festivals, amusement parks, or the circus. Having a fire spinner, acrobat, contortionists, or a magician could really make it a special event. My sister hired a guy to walk around doing card tricks and it was a great way to keep guests entertained before and after dinner.

So yes, they could be walking around at a larger venue or it could be set up as a show.  All of these are great for all ages and are adaptable to any venue indoor or outdoor alike. If you have the right crowd and venue a comedian would be a special touch that is not very common at weddings. You may even have friends that could help you out. 

10: Live music concert

Although the aim here is not to get people dancing for whatever reason you may have, it doesn’t mean you can’t have music.

Hiring classical musicians will give your wedding a sophisticated air and it’s extremely appropriate if you and your spouse have a particular love of this genre of music. Also, a really good musician or group of musicians can be very impressive when they play classical pieces of music live.

Another option is to hire a single musician rather than a full band or DJ. Here people may be more inclined to listen than get up and dance, especially if they are playing acoustic covers of popular songs.

11: Theme park/Laser Tag/Paintball

Get the group out and doing something that is different and exciting. Shooting paintballs/lasers and rollercoasters are rarely something that people think of when they hear the wedding.

People always want to do these activities, but don’t have the time. When they do have time, they usually are not with all of their friends and family. They also have great venues already, so you don’t have to choose a place.  You may want to have a change of clothes or a more informal dress code for these and have it after the ceremony in case of an incident. 

12: A Picnic

Having a picnic is a nice way that people can spend the day together without dancing. This gets people outdoors and weather pending, they have a lot of options of things to do.

With this option though, I would choose a day or time, in the right season. You should also have a tent or a backup location, so the guests can stay out of the weather. You can look at the other options such as backyard games, laser tag, hiking, and other ideas to merge with this one. An interesting idea is beside the food you provide, the guest could bring there own like a traditional picnic. 

13: World Cup/Superbowl/Oscars

Most weddings are on a Saturday, during the afternoon. By having it during one of these events, people are always ready to travel and go to parties for these types of events anyway. Making it a combination event can be more memorable and fun for all.

It doesn’t even have to be one of these events, choose what is best for you and your wedding.  You could have the ceremony beforehand and/or food beforehand and when the event starts the day will take care of itself. Most venues have TV’s or a projector that can easily be used.

14: Arcade Games

They are multi-generational and can be brought to any type of venue. With different types of games, people could play together or by themselves.  You could even have a competition and see who could get the most high-scores on games by the end of the wedding.

If someone really needs to dance,  Dance Dance Revolution is always an option. You could even have it at the arcade, where they usually have facilities and rooms for rent. This idea is also great to combine with the indoor games and then for sure, everyone will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

15: Lounge/Reading Area

This one is something that all weddings should have regardless of where or what else you are doing. Not everyone wants to be in a crowd or is comfortable around people all the time.

Having a designated area that people can talk to one another and relax is important. You could put some books, poetry, comics, children’s books, etc. around. It could really lighten the mood and give people space they sometimes need. This could also be good for kids (or adults that had one too many) who may need to nap for a bit. 

If you want this to be more inclusive, you could organize a book reading. Make sure you choose someone with a lovely sounding voice and get them to read a story of your choice. It could be a romantic tale or ghost story or even some of your favorite religious stories. Involving your guests is also another way to make reading a fun and inclusive wedding day activity.

16: Questionnaire

How well do your family and friends know you two? How well do they know each other? With this fun activity, they can get to know you and your partner a bit better, while having fun finding out the facts.

You could ask questions like “Where do you first meet? What was the first thing you bought together? Which one is more likely to eat the last piece of cake?” You give out slips or sheets of paper and have the guests go around and ask one another what they know.  This is could be fun for them to get to know each other as well as interesting things about the couple and their history together. 

17: Wedding quiz

If like me, you like showing your general knowledge off, then a wedding day quiz can be great fun. You can bring each table at your wedding reception together by making them a quiz team and pitting them against each other.

In order to make your guests excited about participating, make sure that there is a good prize or even a forfeit. This should focus their minds and get their heads in the game. If you are stuck thinking of quiz questions, you can find plenty online, find a mobile app or just raid the trivial pursuits box in your attic.

You can do a lot of things with trivia. There will be a lot of different families at your wedding and you are making a new one. It could be a big event where each table or person plays during a special time.  Or an area that could be going on throughout the wedding and people could join in at different points. The question topics could be general knowledge. But for more fun, it could be about the couple and their friends and family.  The prizes could be fun items from the wedding or just for pride. A proper quiz master could also make it more interesting and your life easier on your big day. 

18: Coloring Books/Table/Mural

Coloring books are not just for children now, they have adult books that range from artistic to a bit on the unrefined side. You could have these in a special area or just on the tables. By having a table cloth you can write on or paper on your table people could color on it if it doesn’t get too messy you could take it home as a keepsake.

An amazing way to bring people together is a mural. Your guests can color on a large piece of paper to make something or just write something nice. This you can take it home after the wedding as well. 

19: Wine/Beer Tasting

Adult beverages tend to be a part of weddings and this would allow your guests to choose the one that they like.  They may even find a new beverage that they enjoy outside Barefoot wine and Budwiser (not that anything is wrong with those two).

You could pair this with different types of food to show off the highlights of each drink. With the constant increase of high-quality micro-breweries/wineries out there, you have a lot of options.  You could get someone from the company to come or even cater the event to explain the drinks to people. Having some other beverages for the teetotalers is also a nice thing todo. 

20: Karaoke

As much as people say they do not like to sing, they do. This is also a definite way no one will even think about dancing.  The setup is fairly easy, all you need is a microphone, speakers and a computer if you want to DIY. You could have it western style, out in the open for all to watch and partake. Or more like in Asia, where they have booths and small rooms for people to break off to if they are shy but still want to sing. This mixed with a pairing of wine/beer and you will have instant success. 

21: Walking/Hiking

Simply taking a walk on the beach or through a park could be a memorable event. It could be nice if you had a different part of the wedding at a location, then everyone walked there and if possible a different for return. For the more outdoorsy people, this easily could be adapted to hike if you had the venue and people up for it.

Timing this again with the seasons and weather would be crucial.  If you have any elderly guests, handicapped or little ones you would need to think about transportation to the location. 

22: Swim/Jacuzzi/Steam

Another non-traditional thing to do instead of dancing is to go swimming.  Everyone can throw on their bathing suit and hop into whatever body of water you have. This could be a lake, river, pool or even the ocean. These places can also double as a great venue.

The ceremony would be lovely at these outdoor locations.  You can have games like chicken, racing or breath-holding contests. If some don’t want to swim and just relax, they could go into the jacuzzi/ steam room. Please do have some lifeguards present and be careful if alcohol is involved. 

23: Casino

A casino doesn’t seem possible to have, but it is much easier than you would think. One way to do it would be to give everyone tokens that they could use throughout with no monetary value. This keeps it fun and light.

If some were so inclined to gamble with real money, I’m sure that it could be done and the winning goes to a charity of couple’s choice. The dealers could be hired or friends and family for more fun.  You could even have the wedding in that theme from the table settings to your dinner tables.  

24: Go-karting

If you and your spouse like action-packed days out, why not make your wedding day one of them? After you have tied the knot, you can get behind the wheel and race your guests around a circuit.

Although certainly not a traditional approach to the wedding reception, this will be one that your guests aren’t likely to forget in a hurry. You can also substitute the go-karts for dirtbikes, ATV or quadbikes if you like close to an outdoor track. Of course, this depends on the weather and skills of your guests.

25: Ice Skating

Another active but perhaps less extreme after-dinner activity is to take to the ice and slide around with your new spouse and guests. This can be a truly magical experience and really fits a December wedding (If you haven’t considered a winter wedding, read my article on why you should).

For non-skaters, you can either offer coaches or organize activities for them to take part in around the ice rink. Of course, this is a great idea if you have lots of children in attendance. Their parents will thank you for tiring them out before they go home.

What To Expect When Attending Your First Japanese Wedding

Being invited to a Japanese wedding, whether in Japan itself or in your own country, can be an exciting experience. Marriage is a globally celebrated union but isn’t always begun in the same way.

So, as a guest, you want to make sure you don’t do anything to ruin the day for the happy couple.

During your first Japanese wedding, you may come across customs that are unfamiliar to you which is to be expected. Whilst Japan has a long history of western influence, the Japanese maintain strong regard to their own cultural roots and traditions which are reflected in their marriage ceremonies.

However, there is a saying in Japan: “Born Shinto, married Christian, die Buddhist.” Much like the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, Japan practices a high degree of religious fluidity in daily and ceremonial life. Weddings are no exception to this and elements of each religion tend to be practiced harmoniously together during these ceremonies.

With that being said, an overview of the most popular styles of weddings (Christian, Buddhist, Non-Religious, and Shinto) will be covered below with an in-depth look at the Shinzen or Shinto style of wedding, and what of course, to expect as a guest. 

An auspicious wedding day

When choosing a wedding day, many Japanese couples will consult the rokuyo which is a 6-day calendar, so that they may pick a date that is the most auspicious day for a wedding for good fortune to be bestowed on the couple. This means that many weddings will fall on a Saturday on popular months in the Spring and Summer. However, these auspicious days are often in high demand and many couples may choose days which are just a little bit less auspicious to save money and hence, the wedding ceremony may fall on the less-popular winter months. 

As mentioned earlier, the majority of Japanese people practice and are exposed to Shintoism from an early age. Shinto is a polytheistic belief system that translates to mean ‘the way of the Gods’, it revolves around the veneration of deities known as Kami and the reigning belief is that the kami inhabits and represents everything in the natural world. You may have seen or even been into a Shinto shrine as they are easily recognizable by their iconic bright red torii gates.

Customs and traditions surrounding Shintoism revolve around the worship and appeasement of the Kami as it is believed that they have the power to bring good fortune or disaster to humans. It is no surprise then that Shinto weddings incorporate many elements of worship and communion with the Kami. However, interestingly enough Shinto weddings were first popularized in 1990 during the Taishō period.

Attending a Shinzen style wedding

In a Shinzen style wedding, expect the venue to be held at a shrine and officiated by a Shinto priest. Shinzen style weddings are an intimate affair and only close family members and matchmakers are allowed into the celebration. 

A Shinzen wedding begins with the Sanshin where the Shinto priest and the shrine priestess lead the couple to the shrine where shrine musicians follow them playing the gagaku (ancient court music). A shrine dancer then invokes the Toyosaka no mai where the dancer dances with a sakaki plant to show appreciation to the spirits to protect the couple.

The couple themselves become involved in the celebration through sansankudo where they take nine sips from three cups of sake from a nuptial cup, alternating between them to commemorate the bond between them. The couple will offer a Sakai, a sacred tree branch to the Gods. This is following an old Japanese tradition that tells ‘the Gods dwell in plants’

Later, the two families will exchange and drink the sake cup between them in a ritual called Shinzoku-hai. This style of wedding also involves reading vows and oaths in front of the shrine priest and a ring exchange. 

The Shinto style of wedding will involve a lengthy dress process for the bride, for the ceremonial process itself, the bride will wear Shiromuku – an all-white kimono with a wataboshi a large white hood to cover the face of the bride- much in the same way as a veil in western weddings.

This all-white ensemble is to signify purity and harmony and readies the bride to be ‘painted’ by her new family with their values, ideals and standards. Under the hood, a tsunokakushi is also worn to ‘hide the horns’ of the bride to suppress emotions of jealousy and pride when entering a new family.

After the ceremony, the bride will change into a colorful kimono known as the irouchikake to symbolize how she will be ‘painted’ in ideas and values by her new family. 

RSVPing to a Japanese wedding

When invited to a Japanese wedding, be sure to reply to the invitation card regardless of your attendance. Whilst the act of replying to an invitation card should be rather simple, be sure to not include any words or phrases that have connotations with ‘cutting’, ‘breaking’ or ‘sever’, for one, this would be an ominous reply to receive no matter how good a friend or relative you are to the couple, but secondly, it is bad manners in Japanese culture and will be looked at as a malicious act on your part.  

Giving a wedding gift

Wedding gifts in the States require a great deal of wedding registries and online shopping, whereas in Japan the act of giving a gift has been simplified to gifting cash aka. goshugi.

The standard etiquette for Japanese weddings dictates a cash gift between 30,000 – 100,000 Yen ($275-$1000) depending on the power dynamics of the relationship (boss vs employee), the closeness of the familial tie and the relationship between the guest and the couple themselves.

If you are not attending the wedding it is acceptable to give less than the standard gift amount but regardless of how much you give, the amount should not be divisible by two or four (ten and twenty are ok).

Once you have crisp, fresh bills from the bank, your next step is to buy a goshugi-bukuro which is a type of ceremonial envelope and to write your name on this. Present this to the receptionist at the wedding if you are attending, if you are not, it is acceptable to mail it to the couple. If you are attending the wedding with a guest, the guest will be required to do the same. 

When you arrive at the wedding ceremony and find your seat, there will be a gift waiting by or on said seat. This is a Hikidemono (gift) with Hikigashi (confectionary) inside it for the guests to bring back home from the wedding. Traditionally, the gift would be tableware but don’t be surprised if you see a catalog instead! This is where you can choose a gift from the catalog and then have it delivered to your home. 

What to wear to a Japanese wedding

The expected attire for wedding ceremonies has recently become more flexible. The general rule of not upstaging the bride and groom remains and thus, one should not wear the color white or a black tie.

If you are going to wear a kimono to the wedding, only wear one if you know how to appropriately and properly wear one. This does not just mean the actual donning the full kimono (which may take a friend and up to two hours) but also means the patterns, colors, material, length of the sleeves, and obi should be appropriate to the season, style of wedding, and to the wedding itself.

For those who choose to wear a dress to the wedding (knee-length is most appropriate), be sure to cover your shoulders with either a non-sleeveless dress or a shawl. 

Other types of Japanese weddings

For non-Shinto Japanese weddings, you as a guest may expect to experience a myriad of other types of wedding styles such as Christian, Buddhist and non-religious. 

Christian weddings

A Christian wedding is rather popular in Japan with the bride and groom donning traditional western wedding attire and the ceremony held at a chapel or church with a priest.

These types of western Christian weddings have become increasingly popular, even with those who don’t identify as Christian. This is largely in part due to the emergence of western media and influence in the sphere of Japanese youth culture, as western media and globalization have entered and expanded the market; so has their wedding customs.

This manifests in the bride wearing a white dress on their wedding day and venues moving away from traditional shrines and temples to hotels and chapel. The service and vows may even be in English if the wedding minister is non-Japanese.

Many of these ceremonies follow the Protestant liturgy and thus incorporate many elements of a Protestant ceremony. You will witness many customs that may already be familiar to you such as hymns, benedictions, prayers, bible readings, the ring exchange, the classic wedding kiss and vows before God as a witness to the marriage.

The bride will also experience the lowering of the veil by the mother and be walked down the aisle and given away by her father.

Buddhist weddings

A Buddhist style wedding (also known as Butsuzen style) of course, takes place at a Buddhist temple. As traditionally, only those who follow the Buddhist faith were permitted to have Buddhist weddings in temples.

However, with the decline of religious hegemony in Japan; Buddhist weddings are rather rare. To reflect the changing culture of Japan, during the wedding ceremony, the bride may choose to wear a traditional kimono or even a white wedding dress. Much like the Christian style wedding, there is an exchange of rings, a prayer union and guests are permitted to witness the ceremony. 

Non-religious ceremonies

Non-religious or Jinzen style of weddings are ceremonies the couple choose for themselves in a display of their commitment and love. It is not legally binding as there is no wedding officiant and this style of wedding either preludes or postludes the actual legally binding event down at city hall.

In addition, this style of wedding usually has the bride and groom in western wedding attire but as it is up to the couple themselves on how they want to commence the ceremony, choice of attire is rather flexible. Expect this ceremony to be held at venues such as hotels and banquet halls.