The "Straight To The Point" Engagement Timeline

by Lisa

The engagement timelines (times when things should be completed by) out there in the world are long and complicated. I thought I would give just an overview of what absolutely needs to be done during the last 6 months or so. I am just focusing on the major points. Just think of this as a list that’s small enough to fit inside your wallet.

At least 8 months prior to the wedding
*Choose a wedding planner/coordinator
*Start working on your guest list
*Book a venue – ceremony and reception
*Book any necessary tenting
*Find and order the bridal dress
*Formulate your wedding party
*Register – Couples should register before putting their website together and sending out save the date cards. Typically, Save-the-dates go out 6 months in advance. If you wedding is in June, be careful about sending them during the Thanksgiving/Christmas rush. The cards will get lost in the commotion. Plan to send them earlier – better yet, right after the New Year.

At least 7 months prior to the wedding
*Put a website together – Could be custom or one from the knot or
*Block hotel rooms
*Contact caterers, price out menus and attend tastings
*Contact and book DJ/band, florist, photographer/videographer

At least 6 months prior to the wedding
*Send out Save the Dates
*Book a lighting designer (if necessary)
*Contract port-o-potties and water (if necessary)
*Rent tuxes

At least 4 months prior to the wedding
*Order your birth certificate
*Start searching for invitations
*Start looking at wedding bands
*Book your honeymoon

At least 3 months prior to the wedding
*Book your rehearsal dinner

At least 2 months prior to your wedding
*Send out invitations
*Put together/order programs, menus and place cards
*Purchase Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and Family gifts
*Obtain blood tests and marriage certificate
*Submit your alcohol order

At least 1 month prior to your wedding
*RSVP deadline
*Have final details meetings with florist, photographer, planner, etc.
*Have a final details meeting with the caterer. Pick out linens

At least 2 weeks prior to your wedding
*Final Dress fitting

At least 1 week prior to your wedding
*Make last confirmations with vendors
*Enjoy the last week being a single person!

Another Christmas Celeb Engagement!

Wedding bells will soon be ringing for model Eva Marcille (a.k.a. Eva Pigford). She and "House of Payne" star Lance Gross were engaged on Christmas eve. The two were vacationing with their families at the Big Bear ski resort in California's San Bernardino Mountains. Read the entire proposal story here.
Photo courtesy of Robert Ector

Alright... Confess!

Well, we're back on "wedding watch" after a nice Christmas break. Yes, we heard about Tom Brady and Gisele. Yawn. What enquiring minds really want to know is... who else got engaged on Christmas day?! Was it you? If so, click on comments to tell us all about it. All the wedding experts say Christmas is a prime time for couples to become officially engaged and we love hearing about proposals!

Merry Christmas!

Soulful Christmas Songs

Still looking for more ways to set the mood for the holidays. Today at Beautiful Brown Babies we rolled out a list of top African American Christmas songs. Use the list to download Mp3s to your favorite digital player or create your own Christmas mix CD.


Do You Need A "Day-Of" Coordinator?

-by Lisa of Elegant Event Design

Is the answer to the question above obvious? How long did you spend planning your wedding? 6 months? A year? More? Odds are that you invested a lot of time, money, energy and stress into this one big day. My question for you - why wouldn’t you want to enjoy it?

Sadly enough, nothing is perfect. Would you rather enjoy your hair and make-up session with your Bridesmaids, Mother and Sisters, or spending the time on the phone with questions from vendors, speaking with your fiancé - who is still at the hotel because the limos are late, dealing with the florist - who delivered red, yellow and orange bouquets that are supposed to be white, or perhaps decorating your reception site? These are just a few of the vast number of issues that come to light on a wedding day?

I hear couples say - “but we have a coordinator that comes with the ceremony/reception site. Why would we need someone else”? Let me take a moment to list the many reasons…

1. Who is in charge of the entire day in total? Who knows your wedding, and will know what you want?
2. How many couples is your reception site coordinator dealing with on a daily basis? When calling not only caterers, but florists, reception site coordinators and photographers, they tell me that they work on weddings taking place in the next week or two. Well…if your wedding is not immediate, who is answering your questions and responding to your needs? What is the result of this on you? More stress and anxiety?
3. Who is going to be the “point” person who is in charge of knowing the limo drivers cell phone number, so they can be contacted when they are late? Or negotiates with the florist when they deliver the wrong order to the wrong place? Who is going to coordinate how to get those flowers to the right place? Who is going to advocate for you when the reception site places something in the wrong place, or does not adhere to your detailed set up instructions?
4. Who is going to make sure that all the last minute details leading up to your wedding are taken care of? Who is going to make sure that you have applied for your marriage license, have prepared the place cards correctly, and makes sure that all of the people involved in the wedding knows what’s going on - prior to the day they show up at the rehearsal.
5. Who is going to speak with the vendors personally to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on, hammer out any last minute details, and make last minute confirmations, while you are enjoying lunch with your Bridesmaids, or making trips to the airport?
6. Who is going to make sure that shuttle buses arrive for pick-ups and drop off’s at the right place and time?
7. Besides you, who is going to know your wedding so well, that she/he can make decisions while you enjoy your guests and reception? Who is going to make sure things run just as your envisioned they would run?
8. Who is going to know what you want for set-up and clean up while you are preparing for your day or are saying goodbye to your family and special friends?

After answering some of these questions, you will see that a day of coordinator is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Now, in terms of price, coordinators are all across the board - just like everything else. For example, in the DC Metropolitan area they arrange in price from $0.00-$2,200.00. A lot of the price depends upon their training, experience, and the time that they have been in business. Often, coordinators looking to start a business and build a portfolio will offer to do your wedding for free, or for very little cost. Coordinators that have been in the business for a long time and have many clients will charge more. It’s important to find someone who’s character and style matches your own, since he/she will be decorating and running the event per your wishes. I would recommend contacting 4-5 coordinators via email and meet with 3 based on their style and the responsiveness to your questions via email or phone. I firmly believe that time is money. Meeting with 10 coordinators in person takes too much time and effort. You should be able to find what you are looking for after doing your research and meeting with 3-4 different firms.

Getting a Grip: Bridal Clutches

If you haven't heard by now, clutches will be all the rage for brides in 2009. But there are lots of shapes and styles to choose from that are clutch-like with various amounts of ornamentation. Just a few examples:

Grace Stardust Clutch

Blue Tux Satin Clutch

Aria Clutch Purse

Elizabeth Beaded Clutch Handbag

Coloriffics Clutch
Coloriffics Wedding Handbag Style HB225

Dyeables Clutch
Dyeables Handbag 80718

Touch Ups
Touch Ups Handbag

La Regale
La Regale Evening Handbag Style 21840

Our New Special Guest Blogger!

Hello All,

My name is Lisa Nelson and I am the founder and owner of Elegant Event Planning and Design, a comprehensive wedding planning firm. I am absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to submit weekly blogs – in efforts to help African-American Brides plan the wedding of their dreams!

In my first entry, I would like to introduce myself to all of you. I have been in the wedding coordination and planning business for 6 years. I started in New England, first as an assistant to a seasoned wedding planner out of Maine. When I learned that I was moving to Maryland, I went on my own and planned and coordinated weddings for free, to build a portfolio, and gain additional exposure. I planned weddings in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Upon moving to Maryland, I started my business in Baltimore. My first client was a full planning client, for which I charged $750.00. Oh…it seems so long ago. :) I charged cheaply so that I could gain exposure in this area, meet a number of vendors in a short period of time, gain experience, and get a feeling for what Bride’s in this area wanted. Over the next five years, I gained my certification. My business spread from Baltimore to Frederick/Hagerstown, Richmond VA, lower Montgomery County, Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, and finally DC. I live in my car! Even through the gas crisis, the difficult clients, and trying times - I have been truly blessed, and am honored that I am able to do something that I thoroughly love and enjoy.

I plan to use my expertise to write weekly blogs to I plan to write a wide variety of articles – about all aspects of wedding planning. I will write informative articles on topics; such as, budgeting, why it’s important to hire a day of coordinator, costs of wedding planners, why couples on small budgets absolutely need to seek the advice of a wedding planner, costs of weddings and vendors, family dynamics, and more. I will also submit informative “tip” articles. Some of those topics might include, design tips, cake design, ethnic wedding tips, African American wedding traditions, wedding attire, picking out the ring, and the like. I will also talk about “different” destinations and venues, like home weddings, boats, farms and destination weddings. I will intersperse real weddings in throughout the year, as I have elegant Bride’s and stories that I would like to share with you.

This is definitely your forum for planning your wedding. If you have suggestions on topics, or questions – I would definitely like to hear from you. I would love to write pieces based on your questions and concerns. Please feel free to email me – even if you just need some information.

I am looking forward to hearing from you, and helping all of you plan your weddings!


Pretty Affordable Wedding Dresses: Part 1

We've been talking a lot about dresses in the last week. Now we're going to prove to you that you can get the look you want without spending a lot of money. You really, really can. Here are a few ideas- all of which are under $400.

Mori Lee
Mori Lee Wedding Dress 6146

Jessica McClintock
Jessica McClintock Wedding Dress

Landa Designs
Landa Designs Dress B825

Maggie Sottero
Destinations by Maggie Sottero Wedding Dress JD2003

Mori Lee
Mori Lee Wedding Dress 3654

Alyce Designs
Alyce Designs Couture Wedding Dress 7002

DaVinci Wedding Dresses Style T8081

Dessy Informal Wedding Dress Style 1006


This is only part one! We'll be looking at affordable-but-gorgeous wedding dresses a few times a month. Please let us know what you think of the ones we choose!

Wordless Wednesday: Rocking Chairs

Lisandra & Aaron
Courtesy of Jen Huang Photography

Ladies, we have a winner!

Joyce B. is the winner of our book giveaway. She'll receive a brand new copy of "Help! I'm a Newlywed...What Do I Do Now?", by author Lorraine Robertson of
If you didn't win this time, stick around. We have a several giveaways coming up for brides-to-be, newlyweds, and plain-ol' married folk.

Weekend Cocktail Series: Sparkling Emerald

Taking a cue from bold green hues found in holiday decor, our weekend cocktail series continues today with a tres simple recipe from our friends at Midori. It uses only two ingredients. We like that.

Midori Sparkle

1/2 part Midori
1/2 part champagne

Pour Midori into champagne glass and top with champagne.

More Midori-inspired cocktails.

Wedding Dress of the Day

Now, we're not saying this gown is for everyone. But for those who dare (and you know who you are) this dress is an absolute showstopper. Let us know what you think!

Bonny Essence Bridal #8708

Wordless Wednesday: Doves Take Flight

Courtesy of Jason Knauer Photography

Book Giveaway!

Ladies, this week is giving away a copy of the book "'Help! I'm a Newlywed...What Do I Do Now?" Author Lorraine Robertson of lays it all out for brides-to-be and for those of you who have already tied the knot. As the Web site says, she'll tell you what no one else will- about in-laws, sex, children, communication, money, EVERYTHING. The book also makes a great gift. Perfect for this time of year!
Want it? All you have to do is comment on any of the blog posts made from now until Sunday. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced Monday morning. Good luck! Want to hear more? Here, the author reads an excerpt from her book:

Veils Unveiled

So, what's new in veils? If you've visited a wedding boutique lately, you've probably seen a lot of veils doing their best impression of the pricey Pnina Tornai veil in that top left picture. Many designers no longer see the veil as just another accessory. (In fact, there is a new trend of brides buying a simple affordable gown, and then splurging on an ornate veil. More on that later this week.) The point is, many veils are now designed to becoming the centerpeice of a bride's wardobe with beading, crystals, piping, and embroidery to be showstoppers on their own. What do you ladies think of this? Just to give you some more ideas, take a look at more of today's popular veil styles.

ArtikalNYC on Etsy

Winters and Rain

Orange Blossom Cage Veil

Erica Koesler

Erica Koesler Veil 735

Erica Koesler Veil 704-33

VeiledBeauty on

Online Bridal Store


Next week, we'll show you the hip, funky accessories some modern brides are wearing instead of veils. You do NOT want to miss that, ladies!

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