Staging entertainment during a wedding celebration requires creativity, planning, and preparation. And you must respect the feelings of those you want to recruit to star in that special event scheduled by the Bride and Groom. Those who are the active participants are the ones who will be the focus of EVERYONE'S attention—the ones who are really responsible for the success of the featured spectacle. A little coaxing and gentle persuasion might be in order, but what makes it easier, and oh so worthwhile, is the Bride and Groom are the ones for whom it's all for. Now there's the motivation!
Put your friends and family to use!

Written by Ursula Furi-Perry

You know that Aunt Mary bakes wonderful cakes, Uncle Joey is a closet shutterbug, and your fiance's cousin Moe loves to crank up those turntables. Why not ask them to perform some simple (or detailed) wedding tasks?

Utilizing the skills and special abilities of friends and family will add a special touch to your wedding reception, include more participants in this special occasion, and of course save you some money. But before you go asking for favors, here are a few things to consider:

• Be sure you feel comfortable asking some of your guests to work at the wedding. Chances are, those close to you won't mind helping and will be flattered that you asked, but as the party's ultimate hostess, you should make sure these guests won't feel left out. Seat them with people they know and feel at ease with--while they may have to perform some tasks during dinner and dancing, they should be afforded the opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves also.

• Establish the responsibilities your friends and relatives will be taking up. Make sure you sit down with each person and discuss in detail what you would like for them to do. This way, there will be no confusion about what color the icing on your cake should have been, no poses left out during picture-taking, and no Macarena played after you specifically placed that song on the "NO PLAY" list! After all, you wouldn't hire any of your vendors without a thorough and detailed consultation, right? Just use that same rule for friends and family looking to help out.

• Make sure those you ask to help know what they are doing. While your Great-grandmother may have the best intentions of helping, she may not be your best choice for a videographer. Be sure your helpers feel comfortable with their tasks, and you feel comfortable with their performance.

• If your helpers are actual professionals or own a business in wedding-related fields, make sure you write up a valid contract (even if the service is being performed for free). This will ensure that you are on the same wavelength, as well as protect you from potential harm due to non-performance or mistakes. After the wedding, don't forget to recommend your friends and family to others.

• Finally, send a thank-you note--or even better, a small present or gift certificate. Show your appreciation, after all, you never know when you'll need help with the next important occasion!


Wedding Programs

Written by Jeanette Hawkinson

Over the years, providing guests with wedding programs has become the norm rather than the exception. Guests love knowing what is coming up next in the ceremony, and if yours will depart from the usual they may appreciate any explanations of rituals or a lineup of events.

Your program may not have to serve as a translation pamphlet, but it should outline all the steps of your ceremony as you have planned it. Other items to include, in whatever design you choose, are:

• The date and time of your wedding.
• The hosts of your wedding.
• The elements of your ceremony, from moment one to the recessional.
• The names of readers and performers.
• The names of the members of your bridal party.
• The name of the person performing the ceremony.
• Any special thanks to one or more people who contributed time and effort.
• A list of songs or music being played.
• A personal message from the two of you.
These are the usual elements of the standard program. Recent brides have also included:
• An explanation of who the bridal party members are.
• A special tribute to the people who introduced them.
• A copy of their vows.
• Their home address.
• An announcement of the bride’s name change, if applicable.
• A tribute to departed family members.
• Poetry.
• Pictures of the couple alone or with their children.

Wedding programs today are coming in great varieties of styles. Covers are glossy and feature lovely images and works of art. Natural fiber paper is tied with elegant ribbon. Beautiful decorative print accents the wording. Program folders even contain packets of flower seeds for the guests to plan in the couples honor.

The choices are endless, and most brides report that this task was a fun one for the couple to do together as a team. Grooms say that the program was one of the places where it was most comfortable for them to express their individuality, and they loved the feedback they received from guests. Programs are easy to make and the cost is virtually up to you. With a computer and an endless variety of paper and design, the programs you make will definitely be your own creation. You will too, when you hold the final product in your hand. And you will take pride in them, whenever someone compliments the fine job and time that was put into them.

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