To Rehearse? Or Not to Rehearse?

March 31st, 2014
Do you need a rehearsal to get to this point?   Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

Do you need a rehearsal to get to this point? Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

This is always a question that has to be answered when planning a wedding:  Will there be a wedding rehearsal?  There are arguments on both sides.

Tradition seems to lean toward the necessity of a wedding rehearsal.  After all, why would you have a rehearsal dinner if there were no rehearsal, right?  As I am a non-traditionalist, on the other hand, I will only say that there are times when a rehearsal makes sense.  For example, if you are having a church ceremony, chances are that your officiant will require it.  A rehearsal for a complicated ceremony (such as a full Catholic mass) makes the ceremony go much more smoothly.

Similarly, if you have a large wedding party, it is probably a good idea to rehearse at least the processional and the recessional, if not the whole ceremony.  A rehearsal, even a brief one, will ensure that every member of the wedding understands her or his duties.

But there are times a rehearsal might not be preferred.  If you are planning a small and/or informal wedding, a rehearsal may be unnecessary.  I also think that a rehearsal can sometimes take away from something special at the wedding itself.  Over-rehearsed ritual can become an empty form.

As I said, there are good arguments on both sides of this question.  Will you have a wedding rehearsal?  That’s up to you.

Wedding Style

March 24th, 2014
At this casual wedding, the style carried through everything.   Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

At this casual wedding, the style carried through everything. Photo by Magical Moments Photography.

When I meet with a couple to help them plan or coordinate their wedding, one of the questions I always ask is, “What style will your wedding be?”  I have found that not everyone has an easy answer to this question.  Here is why it is important to me:

When I ask about style, what I want to know is, “How do you make decisions about what your wedding and reception will be like?”  Also, “Do you have a vision for how your wedding will look or feel or sound?”

Whether your answer to the question of style is, “Formal, elegant, high-class” or, “Casual, laid-back, informal,” the answer gives me a lot of information about your goals and your decision-making process.  It allows me to make suggestions that are appropriate for your particular wedding.

Sometimes “style” means “visual style,” as in what sorts of colors and accessories you think are necessary.  But “style” can also mean the general feel of the party or it can mean what you think is important to the day.  The answer to the question could be, “Our wedding will be a picnic in the woods,” or it could be, “It’s all about fun and games.”  To me, the important thing is not the specific answer but, rather, that you have a vision that you are pursuing.

Jewelry and its Complications

March 17th, 2014

I hate to bring up a difficult, uncomfortable subject when we’re talking about weddings, but I do think it is better to know all sides of an issue, especially if you are interested in eco-friendly events.  I’m talking about the environmental and political problems associated with the commercial jewelry trade.

The issues around jewelry can be tricky.   Photo by Ann Oleinik.

The issues around jewelry can be tricky. Photo by Ann Oleinik.

Let me be very clear about one thing:  I just want to make sure that you have enough information to make an informed choice.  I won’t pass judgment on your choice if you are happy with commercial jewelry.

There are environmental issues with gold, as well as political ones.  Diamonds and other precious stones, as far as I can tell, have fewer environmental problems, although there are political problems.

Gold mining and refining, according to one informed source, release large amounts of toxins into the environment, including cyanide, arsenic, and mercury.  Gold also requires huge amounts of water and electricity to produce, according to the same source.  Many who are concerned about the problems associated with gold mining and refining call it “dirty gold” because of its negative environmental impacts.

In addition, gold mining is believed to fuel conflict in places like the Congo and Colombia.  While not all of these conflicts make it into the news daily, they are ongoing sources of human rights abuses, death, and destruction.

The diamond trade also fuels conflicts in Africa according to the UN and Amnesty International.  While there has been some progress in restricting the trade of illegitimate diamonds that fund wars and abuse, it is still very difficult to ensure that a diamond comes from a conflict-free zone.

Fortunately, more and more jewelers are taking environmental and human rights considerations seriously.  It is becoming easier than in the past to find jewelers that carry no-conflict diamonds and clean gold.

If you want gold jewelry, look for a jeweler that uses recycled or reclaimed gold.  If they supervise the recycling process themselves, that is even better.  As far as I am aware, there is no certification process for recycled gold, so if this is a concern of yours, ask as many questions of the jeweler as necessary to assure yourself that their gold really is recycled.

Another choice for gold or diamond jewelry without additional harm to the environment is to find vintage jewelry.  Maybe there is a piece in your family (or your soon-to-be in-laws’ family).  If there isn’t anything in your family, antique and vintage stores often have jewelry sections, and you can find some very nice pieces there.

Here's a pair of wooden rings used for a wedding last year.   Photo courtesy of

Here's a pair of wooden rings used for a wedding last year. Photo courtesy of

There are also some jewelry makers who work in wood and make beautiful rings.  In Chicago, you can try Simply Wood Rings.  There are many options available, all made from reclaimed wood.

There is probably no perfect answer to these troubling issues.  The more people are aware of them, though, the closer we can come to solving some of these perplexing problems.

Vendors I Know: FIG Catering

March 10th, 2014
FIG's logo, shamelessly stolen from their website.

FIG's logo, shamelessly stolen from their website.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’m a member of the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance.  In that capacity, I have had the opportunity to work with FIG Catering, a company that is right at the top of my list of caterers.

The thing that I like best about FIG is their food–which is, of course, one of the most important things anyone is looking for in a caterer.  Not only do they make top-quality recipes and serve delicious dishes, they can do this with all organic, sustainable food.  Not only is it delicious, it’s good for you and good for the environment.

FIG specializes in small events, hence their name:  For Intimate Gatherings.  They are happy to work with you on events of up to 150 people.

Justin and Molly, who are the heart of FIG, are terrific people, too.  It’s always a pleasure to work with them.  So, if you’re looking for a caterer for a not-too-huge event, here’s one to put on your list.