Here Comes the Bride
February, 2006 - Issue #16
The holidays are behind us - seasonal decorations have been put away and relatives have returned home. But maybe you were one of the lucky ones and a little of the bling-bling of the holiday season is still with you and wrapped around a finger on your left hand.

The newly engaged will join the two million individuals who will be getting married this year across the United States. With that number in mind, it is wise to begin planning for the big event as soon as possible. Picking out a wedding gown and a location for the ceremony is just the tip of the iceberg. There are flowers, catering, DJ's, photographers, videographers, bridesmaids and in-laws to consider. It can be overwhelming.

Weddings are a $25.3 billion industry with 80 percent of the brides planning formal weddings. Just about every girl dreams of her wedding day, says coordinator Jennifer Koohbanani of Divine Details Event Consulting. Get an idea of how much you want to spend, who is paying for what and be flexible. One of the biggest mistakes most engaged couples make is jumping into contracts too soon, Koohbanani said.

"Research, research, research," advises Koohbanani, a member of the Santa Clarita Wedding Professionals and Association of Bridal Consultants. "Couples need time to sit back and take some time to create a vision. When brides come to see me I start with writing down their vision. What do you see, feel, taste, hear and smell when you dream about your wedding?"

After the vision is created, reality sets in and it's time to talk money. Traditional weddings have made a strong comeback with a lot of lace and formal sit-down dinners. Even with all the planning and cost-cutting, most couples will end up spending 150 percent more than they planned, Koohbanani said. An average to high-end Southern California wedding can cost the happy couple (and their families) more than $40,000 - quite a shock for Baby Boomer parents, many who were married in the backyard with flowers in their hair.

The Santa Clarita Wedding Professionals is a one-stop shopping service for brides and grooms. Members include local businesses that can help with flowers, invitations, catering, cakes, transportation and photography. The group holds seminars to help educate couples on how to successfully put on a wedding called "Planning with the Pros," a do's and don'ts evening run by local experts with real life versus magazine advice. There is also a twice-yearly Bellisima Bridal Show held at the Hyatt Valencia featuring hundreds of vendor booths that include everything from flowers and cakes to ministers and teeth whitening.

The giving or exchanging of rings
began in 1477 when Maximilian I,
Holy Roman Emperor, gave Mary of
Burgundy a diamond ring as an
engagement present. Prior to the 5th
century, the ring finger was the
index finger. It was switched to the
third finger because of the belief
that it connected to the "vein of
love" that led directly to the heart.
It's a destination wedding for Saugus High graduate Shirley Eichman, 26, who attended the bridal show in August looking for ideas. She is planning on getting married in September 2006 to Anthony Frattali in front of 200 guests at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. She is determined to stay on budget and said once she decided on the location she felt more at ease.

"It's been a little overwhelming," Eichman said. "But I still feel I have plenty of time and my sister has been a huge help."

The hotel is providing flowers for the centerpieces, but Eichman still has to pick out her bouquets and ceremony flowers. "I've always dreamed of getting married at Mandalay Bay. It's a beautiful place," she said. "I have not been stressed at all and I'm still having fun."

It's not a bad idea to take a break from the wedding plans and head over to one of the day spas in town. Many cater to the brides-to-be and have package deals that will relax the entire bridal party. If you need some time to connect with the love of your life again, make sure to book a couple's massage that will not only relax both of you, but give you a chance to spend some quiet time together. A spa certificate is an excellent gift for a bridal shower.

Kellee Vazquez married Ed last October in her parents' backyard. She gave herself a year to plan the wedding. She had a budget, but in the end, that number had almost doubled. Her biggest expense? Feeding 130 guests.

"It was just regular food - carne asada, beans, rice and a pasta and salad bar," Vazquez said with a grin. "But it was more than food. Our caterer had a lot of servers and we had an open bar."

While the price for catering may have tipped the scale on her spread sheet, Vazquez said the caterer did a fabulous job, making the yard look beautiful with candelabras and silver accents. Her one disappointment was with her music, but she said even that didn't ruin the day. It was a beautiful wedding.

Even with all your great planning, there are many things that can still go so wrong on the magical day: It's family photo time and no one can find Aunt Hillary. Someone needs to stop the best man from drinking all the tequila before the reception. The DJ just blew a fuse and the lights are out. Bride Kellee Vasquez said this was the main reason she hired a wedding planner. Consultants will do much of the leg work, researching and acting as a go-between before and during the wedding. Wedding planners are armed with a bag of tricks and it is their job is to make sure the bride and groom (and their families) to enjoy every moment of the day.

"Money and emotion will take over," coordinator Koohbanani said. "Wedding days can become extremely stressful and I always stop my brides and ask them to feel their feet, to get grounded. Then I tell them at the end of the day, she and her fiance are getting married because they love each other and that's what makes the day beautiful."

"I haven't had one wedding yet where I haven't wiped a tear away when (the bride and groom) walk down the aisle," she said with a smile.
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