Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rock the Recession, Pop the Question! New video contest!


Upload Video by July 31 at for Chance to Win $10,000 Prize Package Including Diamond Engagement Ring, Weekend in New York City.

The $10,000 prize package includes:

- 1 Carat Diamond Ring, certified by GemEx for superior Brilliance, Fire and Sparkle.
- Round trip airfare to New York City for two, anywhere within the continental US
- Two night stay at Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue
- Lunch and Dinner at The Palm, Classic American Steakhouse
- Meeting with America’s foremost wedding planner, Sharon Naylor and a collection of her Wedding Planning Books
- VIP Appointment with a Bloomingdale’s Personal Wedding Registry consultant

NEW YORK, June, 2009 – Ready to take the next step in your relationship, but need to persuade your significant other that the current state of the economy isn’t a reason to put things off?
Here’s a brilliant idea - GemEx® Systems, Inc., the global leader in diamond brilliance, fire and sparkle certification, announced today the launch of Rock the Recession, Pop the Question, a digital video contest in which lovebirds can upload a video and offer their most romantic and persuasive plea to get engaged, for a chance to win a prize package worth $10,000, including a 1 Carat GemEx certified diamond engagement ring. Submissions will be accepted until July 31.
“The diamond engagement ring is a big purchase and can be one reason to delay popping the big question,” said Randall Wagner, CEO of GemEx. “At GemEx, we are big believers in romance, and thrilled to help one happy couple move toward wedded bliss. Now there are no more excuses. We’ll provide a diamond that has been certified based on its beauty…brilliant in every way, to get things started.”

To enter, simply create an original video, 1 to 2 minutes in length, using your most creative, funny, sympathetic and romantic argument to convince your significant other to get engaged - despite today’s tough economic times. Then upload the video to

In addition to the GemEx certified diamond, the winners will be whisked away for a romantic getaway to New York City where they will enjoy luxurious accommodations at the famed Loews Regency Hotel. Winners will also be treated to lunch at The Palm’s newest New York City location in Tribeca with wedding planner Sharon Naylor. “Not only will the contest help a deserving couple, but the prize package includes a way for them to celebrate and start planning for the big occasion,” added Wagner.

Selecting a Winner
Submissions will be accepted as of today until July 31, 2009. The person in the video must say GemEx or show the GemEx logo at least once. Site visitors will be able to view all the videos submitted, and are given the chance to vote for their favorite through the end of August. At that point, the 5 videos with the most votes will be judged based on creativity, humor, pathos, romance and persuasiveness by three judges, Randall Wagner, CEO of GemEx Systems Inc, author Sharon Naylor and Bruce Bozzi, Jr., Executive Vice President of The Palm. The judges will then select the final winner.

The winner will be announced on or about September 15, 2009. For complete contest rules, and to upload a video, go to

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Give Great Welcome Bags

If you have guests coming in from out of town, and bridal party members, who will be staying at a hotel, be sure to provide a pretty welcome basket upon their arrival. You don't have to spend a fortune to create the best welcome basket ever. At stores like Costco, Target and WalMart, you'll find bulk goodie packages of 3-dozen snack packs that divide up perfectly into each bag...and that bag can be a simple, colored bag for $1 at the craft store! Make sure it has a sturdy handle, though....paper handles on cheap bags will rip in a heartbeat!

Here are what I would consider the Essentials for inclusion:
* At least two bottles of water
* At least two cans or bottles of soda, regular and diet
* Bags of chips and pretzels
* Bags of chocolate chip cookies, bought or homemade
* Chocolates, such as individually wrapped Lindt truffles
* Bags of candy, such as M&Ms
* A copy of the wedding weekend itinerary
* A copy of your WeddingMapper directions
* A hand-written welcome card from you

Appreciated Extras:
* Single-dose packets of Motrin and Advil
* Rolaids roll
* Emory board
* Travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and lotion in a great scent, such as from Bath & Body Works [often better than what the hotel might offer gratis]
* Coloring or activity book and crayons for kids
* $5 or $10 gift card to the hotel, for guests' use at the gift shop or restaurant
* Gift card to a nearby Dunkin Donuts [location noted on your map!] for great coffee --- hotels don't always serve the best java

What else have you seen in guest welcome baskets that you've loved? Let me know and you could win a copy of my new book Home From the Honeymoon

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you have Thank-You notes to write?

Summer weddings in full swing mean there are a lot of you out there wanting to know how to write the perfect, personable and personalized thank-you notes for bridal shower and wedding gifts. The tricky part? Not keeping the groom motivated to sit down and write them, but rather finding the perfect, diplomatic wording for notes you'll send to those guests who did a little something unusual with their gift choices. My book The Bride and Groom Thank-You Guide gives you multiple options for writing thank-you's for the following tricky situations:

* Obvious re-gifts
* Gifts that are not from your registries
* DIY gifts that *are* your style
* DIY gifts that are not your style
* Gift cards
* Wedding gifts sent way before the wedding
* Guests attending the wedding without giving a gift (yet!)
* You've lost a few cards and got disorganized, not knowing who gave you the gravy boat and who gave you the $150!
* Charitable donation gifts you were alerted to through your registry
* Honeymoon registry gifts
* The 'future promise' gift: as in, "We'll take you out for a 5-star dinner when you get back from your honeymoon."
* The gift of legwork and labor as their wedding gift to you

Write those notes well, because people really get offended by the simplest wording!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Protect your Junior Bridesmaids and Flowergirls!

Junior bridesmaids in sexy, strapless gown to match the bridesmaids? Flowergirls being told 'that dress makes you look fat?' Pre-teens in terror over how they'll look in the spotlight at your wedding? I have the perfect expert to help you mind your child and teen attendants' comfort and well-being as part of your big day. Dara Chadwick, my lovely colleague and the author of You'd Be So Pretty If, answers a few questions here:

Q: Brides might be surprised to know that junior bridesmaids AND flower girls are worried about how they will look in their wedding day dresses! What are the signs that a young girl has concerns about this?

A: If she makes any comments about the fit of the dress or about her body – or if she keeps asking others how she looks – those are clues that she may not feel comfortable. If you know her well, you may already have a sense of her fashion preferences — she may like frilly, ultra-feminine styles or she may be more comfortable in a tailored style. A girl who dresses in surfer shorts and graphic tees might be extremely uncomfortable in a ruffled pink dress, so try to keep her personal taste in mind. Ask her if there’s a style she likes (or hates!), but keep it about the dress, not about her body; it’ll make her feel grown up to know that you value her opinion. You might also ask her mom if her daughter is at all uncomfortable with her appearance and let that guide your choice – but don’t talk to her mom in front of her. Girls this age are sensitive about sharing that kind of information.

Q: What should a bride avoid when it comes to choosing dress styles, particularly for junior bridesmaids who are starting to develop? I personally hate to see pre-teens in strapless dresses when it's so easy to have a seamstress sew on straps that still let them coordinate with the bridesmaids.

A: It’s best to avoid anything overtly sexy, like plunging necklines and extremely short lengths. At the same time, you want to honor the fact that she’s growing up and not dress her like you’d dress a five-year-old. I think it’s best to go with an age-appropriate version of what your bridesmaids are wearing (a good tailor can help with this). When I got married, I had my nine-year-old niece as a junior bridesmaid; she wore the same dress as my bridesmaids did, but hers was slightly less form-fitting and had a less-plunging back. The dress was similar enough that she felt part of the group, but it was also tailored to respect her age and her body.

Q: Should a bride just let the parents choose the dresses for the girls? What are your feelings about parental input?

A: As a mom, if a bride tried to put my daughter in a dress that I felt was too sexy or made my daughter feel uncomfortable, I’d speak up. But I wouldn’t expect that I’d be the one to choose what my daughter wore. I think it’s gracious to give parents input, but I’d suggest choosing a few dresses that you and her daughter are happy with and letting the parent choose from those. Watch out, though, for mother-daughter conflict; if the daughter loves the dress, but the mom doesn’t think it’s flattering, you’ve got a delicate situation on your hands. Talk to the mom privately about her objections; if it’s simply a matter of preference, but the daughter feels great in the dress and you like it, go with what makes your junior bridesmaid or flower girl feel great.

Q: What should you do if parents choose “too-sexy” or too-revealing dresses for junior bridesmaids? This one stuns me, but I have seen it before. A strapless dress for an 11-year-old? And when that dress inevitably fell down as the child was dancing, she ran off to the bathroom and cried!

A: Ugh – that poor girl! I think as the bride, you have to pull rank here. Simply say something along the lines of “that dress is lovely, but it’s not what I had in mind for her” or “It’s really important to me that everybody be comfortable so they can relax and enjoy my big day. I’m concerned that Susie wouldn’t be comfortable dancing in that dress.” If all else fails, throw yourself on the parent’s mercy: Choose another dress that you like and say, “I know you like that dress and it’s lovely, but I’d prefer to see her in this style.” It’s your wedding, after all.

Q: Being in the center of attention can be hard for a shy junior bridesmaid or flower girl. What’s the “right” way to make her feel comfortable about being seen by so many? What should you say? Not say?

A: If she’s uncomfortable, do everything you can to take the focus off appearance. Give her a special job to do and thank her for helping you on your big day. Tell her she looks beautiful once, then let her know how important it is to you that she’s there for you and part of your wedding. Make it about her participation, not about her appearance. If she’s truly uncomfortable about being stared at, a quick joke or whisper about how you “feel funny with everybody looking at you in this big fancy dress” lets her know that it’s OK to be nervous. Or, create a private joke between the two of you – maybe you and she agree to pretend you’re movie stars on the red carpet as you walk down the aisle. Anything that lets her know you understand her feelings helps take away the pressure to be “perfect.”

Q: Any final tips for brides when it comes to helping a junior bridesmaid or flower girl feel great?

A: When you’re shopping for a dress and trying things on, be careful with the words you use to talk about dresses you don’t like. Avoid language like, “That one makes you look hippy…or chunky…or [insert ‘body flaw’ here].” Always make it about the dress, not about her body, such as “I don’t like the cut of this dress” or “I don’t like the way this fabric drapes.” Remember, too, to downplay the importance of appearance whenever you can. Talk about the great time you’re all going to have at the wedding, rather than about how perfect you’re all going to look. And above all, let her know that you want her to wear a dress that she feels comfortable and happy in.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Celebrate being married to an awesome person!

Already married? Just helping the bride and groom by pointing them toward my books and website? Are you the parents of the bride and groom, inspired by all of this wedding talk to remember your own Big Day? Hey, this is the perfect time for YOU to plan your own wedding vow renewal celebration! It could be a re-do of your own wedding, complete with bands and big wedding cake, or a private moment on a bluff overlooking the ocean on your next vacation. Check out my book to help you make your vow renewal perfect!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Raise the Cake!

How gorgeous is THIS?! I love the dramatic, raised platforms for your cake, and this brilliant website for Raise the Cake allows you to custom-design your own coordinating-color cake platforms (which you can also use as a cupcake platform, or use for other great desserts.) They're so gorgeous, I can even see them elevating table numbers or framed photos as centerpieces! Visit, explore, design...and Raise the Cake!

Monday, June 01, 2009

I love brilliant artist minds! These wallets are made from recycled suits and ties, and the price is right for fun groomsmen's and Dads' gifts.

Love it!