Congratulations on your engagement. And welcome to the world of a thousand questions.
The answers to all these questions, as well as to the countless choices and details ahead, are yours for the asking in The Perfect Wedding. Whatever type of celebration you're dreaming of, bridal expert Maria McBride-Mellinger can help make it a reality, tailored to your tastes, your temperament, and your budget. A comprehensive, knowledgeable text, illustrated throughout with beautiful color photographs, offers advice and creative ideas every step of the way:
Your Engagement: choosing a fine diamond with confidence; where to get customized wedding bands.
Planning: making decisions calmly, and in the right order; how and where to register for bridal gifts.
Fashion: designing your own bouquet; finding the best flowers of the season.
The Ceremony: decorating church or temple; choosing a musical program.
The Reception: planning an affordable caviar-and Champagne party; enjoying your own wedding.
In a unique feature of The Perfect Wedding, Ms. McBride-Mellinger shares her retail and service sources as well. The most extensive listings ever published of the best bridal talent in the country, both regional and national the author's own "insider Rolodex" connect you quickly and easily with exactly the right people to help you create you own Perfect Wedding. No bride-to-be could wish for a better gift.
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About the Author
Maria McBride is internationally recognized as a wedding style guru. She produces special events and her work appears in Brides magazine where she is currently the Wedding Style Director. Additionally, she has written columns for InStyle and Country Home, and her work has been featured on Brides.com, TheKnot.com, BizBash.com, WeddingChannel.com, and on her own site, MariaMcBride.com. McBride has also been a featured guest on the Today show and Movie & A Makeover. She is the author of the series of books, The Perfect Wedding, The Perfect Wedding Reception, and The Perfect Wedding Details.
Read an Excerpt
You haven't even begun the real planning, and already there are so many details that require your attention: shopping for an engagement ring and wedding bands that are as beautiful as they are heartfelt; communicating your good news to your family and all your friends; and, perhaps, having an engagement party. Of course, you and your groom should soon select your wedding party. Now is also the perfect time to register for gifts (do this early for the benefit of those who send engagement presents). This chapter will take you through these preliminary steps as you start to plan for the big event. No one day is as full of emotion, as steeped in family dynamics as your wedding day, so make the most of this "quiet" time and sit down with your fiance for a candid discussion about the type of wedding you both want -- your dreams, your realities, and your finances. You should agree on definite "must haves" as well as absolute "no ways." If you plan realistically now, you'll save yourself headaches -- and heartacheslater. But as important as such planning is, don't let the details overwhelm you. Your engagement should be, more than anything else, a time for joyous celebration with family and friends and, most importantly, with one another. You will want to look back on this time in your life fondly.
Alot of wistful daydreaming is devoted to the matter of the engagement ring. Most of us immediately think of the fabulous gemstones -- diamonds, emeralds, amethysts, rubies, and sapphires. Diamonds, of course, are virtually synonymous with engagement rings, and we cannot help but bedazzled by them. Yet an engagement ring can just as easily have other stones. If you love garnets, by all means choose one for this special ring; a pearl, too, is appropriate, as is any semi-precious stone. In fact, you may decide that you want an engagement ring with no stone at all.
Begin with a trip to a reputable jeweler; look for a shop with an appealing selection of merchandise and a knowledgeable staff. Ask questions about each ring's value and quality. Consider a wide variety of stones and settings - the most important requirement is that you love the ring. Since so many factors contribute to a stone's quality, I recommend obtaining a certificate attesting to the gem's characteristics and value. Most jewelers are happy to provide this paper.
Choose a setting that fits your lifestyle -- if you work with your hands you may prefer one of the two settings that are more protective: a bezel, where the band hugs the middle section (or girdle) of the stone, or a channel setting, which has the stones set between two strips of the band so that they are held at both top and bottom.
I have always adored antique jewelry for its charm, beauty, and craftsmanship. More and more jewelers are offering estate rings, and many fine auction houses have special sales for brides-to-be. (Whenever you are looking at estate jewelry, keep an eye out for antique necklaces, clips, and bracelets; these are one-of-a-kind, truly memorable gifts for your attendants. A handsome antique wristwatch or pocket watch for your fiance is a gift that will mark your engagement for all time.) When you look at antique rings, bear in mind that though the stone can always be reset, the real value is likely to be the setting itself; these older rings are prized for their superb period design.
Your wedding band and engagement ring need not match but should be compatible. They may be variations of each other: One couple I know both wanted slender gold bands, but the bride had a dozen tiny diamonds set randomly, like a glittering galaxy, in hers.
Custom-designing rings this way is a wonderfully personal idea. Seek out a silver- or goldsmith or gemologist rather than a jeweler who sells from inventory. A reputable jeweler may be able to recommend someone, or you can visit a local craft and jewelry fair to look for work you admire. When you visit the goldsmith, examine the stones and materials there. This is a good time to think about what you might like ~ designs such as a swag or bead and bow, for example, or a leaf or flower motif. Once you have agreed on the basics, the goldsmith will show you sketches before creating the rings.
Often a wedding band is yellow gold, but it's just as appropriate for it to be white gold, rose gold, silver, or even platinum. Platinum, however, is not to be confused with white gold; it is stronger, rarer, and more costly. The best gold, 24 karats, is 24 parts gold with no added alloy; it's pure, but very malleable and too soft to be practical. Most rings are 18 karats, with 6 parts alloy, although 14-karat rings also look great and wear well. Jewish couples wishing to remain loyal to tradition may want to consider the traditional plain gold band, which is free of any stones to avoid any misrepresentation of its value.
A wedding band is a symbol of the bond you share. A brief inscription engraved inside each band makes these rings truly special. The classic signature will include each of your initials and your wedding date. A romantic couple I know chose to engrave their rings with the date they met. I also recommend adding a poetic sentiment you'll treasure always...The Perfect Wedding. Copyright © by Maria Mcbride-Mell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.