The Etiquette of Writing and Addressing Wedding Invitations

Before you select your invitations, you need to know how to properly word your invitations; send all the right enclosures with your invitations; and properly address the envelopes so that everyone clearly understands who’s invited.


Mail the wedding invitation six to eight weeks beforehand, with an R.S.V.P. request of two to three weeks prior to the event so you can get a final head count.  Give guests at least 15 days between the invitation’s arrival and the RSVP deadline to figure out the logistics. Sending pre-stamped enclosure cards or permitting RSVP via email may also encourage guests to respond faster.  Approximately one week before the numbers are due to vendors, make follow-up calls to guests who have yet to reply. This is a great time to ask your wedding party or family for some help.

The tissues that come with engraved invitations are meant to protect the ink from smudging before the invitations are delivered to you. Including them in the envelope is rather like wearing a plastic poncho over your dress so as not to ruin it for a really special occasion.

Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding — and that starts with the envelope.  Do not use pre-printed labels!  Now, I'm not saying you need to hire a calligrapher, but it adds such a personal touch to handwrite the addresses. Perhaps ask a friend or relative with nice handwriting to help out. Or, try this calligraphy cheat: Using a fancy font in a very light gray, run each envelope through your printer, and then trace over the printed address using a calligraphy pen. Your guests will never know your secret!

Spell out professional titles, such as Doctor and Reverend, and all military titles (General, Major, and so on.) for names on your invitations. Acceptable abbreviations are the nonprofessional titles of Mr., Mrs., and Ms. Don’t include academic titles, such as PhD, on the invitation unless the person is a minister with a theological degree. And no nicknames! Use full names instead (such as Michael rather than Mike). If you choose to include any middle names on the invitation, spell them out, too.

Spell out street names, such as Avenue, Boulevard, and Street, on all invitations. Also spell out days of the week, dates, months, times, and numbers in addresses for invitations to black tie and formal weddings. For invitations to semiformal and informal weddings, you can use numbers freely.

For a ceremony in a house of worship, use the word honour to show reverence to God, as in “request the honour of your presence.” For a location other than a house of worship, even if the ceremony is religious, use the phrase “request the pleasure of your company.”

Give the hosts of your wedding top billing on the invitation.

Wedding gifts should always seem to come as a pleasant surprise. You can tell people where you’ve registered, but only if they’ve asked, but registry cards should NEVER be included in the invitations.  While registries are helpful for those who don’t know the couple’s tastes, it is a compliment if a guest takes the time to pick something more personal—even if that something is yet another crystal flower vase.

You must invite both halves of a socially recognized couple. Those who are married, engaged, or living together count as social units. You are not obligated to give single guests and guests who are involved in more casual relationships the option to bring a date. You do, however, want to be consistent and avoid making exceptions.

Since it's awkward and impersonal to address the outer envelope as "Mr. James Smith and Guest," the two envelope system works well. Address the outer envelope to "Mr. James Smith" and the inner envelope to "Mr. James Smith and Guest." If you're only using one envelope, include a short note with your invitation: "Dear James, You're welcome to bring a guest to the wedding. Please let me know. Best, Laura." If there's time and James supplies the information, you can send his guest an invitation, too.

If you do not want your guests to bring their children, it is rude to specifically say "no children" on the invitation. Opt for saying that the event is an "adults-only affair."  Address the inside envelope with exactly whom you’re inviting. For example, writing “Mr. and Mrs. Swanson” tells your guests that just the Mr. and Mrs. are invited, not their children.

Because an invitation comes with the expectation of a gift, you don’t want people to think they have to give a gift even though they cannot attend. If someone lets you know that they have a conflict, don’t follow up with an invitation. In the case of very close friends and family, you may want to send an invitation anyway with a note that explains you are sending it as a keepsake.

If you’re planning to walk down the aisle at 7 p.m., the time on your invitation should be 7 p.m. Don’t leave your guests waiting just because you want to make sure no one misses your grand entrance. Most guests know better than to show up right at the invite time anyway, so if you put 6:30 for a 7 o'clock ceremony, some of your guests could be waiting around for as long as an hour before you begin.  Choosing to do "First Look Photos" easily solves this problem.

Include lodging information on a separate enclosure card with a map and directions to your ceremony and reception. You may also include this information with your save-the-date cards and/or on your wedding Web site.

Before you buy stamps, take an assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed. It's likely that the inserts, or even an unusually shaped envelope, will call for extra postage.

Check the postage. Remember that maps and other inserts sent to out-of-town guests will make those invitation heavier than ones sent to local guests and may require a postage adjustment. In that case, be sure to assemble two sets and have both weighed. 

How to Stuff the Envelopes

  1. When two envelopes are used, insert the invitation (folded edge first for a folded invitation, left edge for a single card invitation), so that you see the printed side of the invitation when the envelope flap is opened.
  2. When there are enclosures--reply card and envelope, map, printed directions--they are placed on top of the invitation, printed sides up, in size order with the smallest on top. Again, when the flap is opened, the printed side should be visible. If the invitation is folded, insertions are stacked in size order - smallest on top - but within the fold.
  3. The inner envelope is then placed unsealed in the outer envelope, so when the outer envelope flap is lifted, the name(s) of the guest(s) is visible.

Your Day, Your Way

Wouldn't it be great to start your married life with a ceremony that really means something to the two of you?  A ceremony that tells your family and guests what your relationship means to you and why you have chosen to be married.

Many people are looking for a wedding that is more flexible and personal than a church, civil or register office ceremony allows for.

Deciding to have a wedding ceremony performed by an officiant gives couples the opportunity to marry where they want, when they want and how they want. They can set the tone that’s right for them and choose their own words and music.

Weddings performed by an officiant are perfect for couples who would like:

  • a meaningful ceremony that can include as little or as much religion as they want
  • to marry at any location they like
  • the flexibility to create a personal ceremony that is unique to them
  • to get to know the person who will be conducting their wedding

Movie Wedding Theme


Many couples really want to find a way to make their wedding different and unique so decide to select a theme to build everything around.  The couple will need to decide which type of wedding theme best suits their personalities and lifestyle. Once they’ve picked their theme, it’s a lot easier to coordinate the invitation, styling, favors, flowers, dresses, menu, music and all the other items required when it revolves around a specific theme.

I recently married Valerie Konopka and Eric Schmidt at the New Orleans Party Center at St. Josephy Church in Brecksville.  Valerie and Eric built their entire wedding and reception around a 20's, 30's and 40's movie theme. The room used to hold the ceremony had red ropes, red carpet, lamp posts and a bling backdrop.  It was very glamorous.

Valerie chose not to be escorted down the aisle, rather she walked part way on the red carpet alone and then Eric joined her to escort her back to the spot where the ceremony would take place.


Valerie was stunning and looked a great deal like Marilyn Monroe.  Eric complete their look by wearing a black tuxedo with tails.  Valerie also wore red heels in honor or Judy Garland and the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  The bridesmaid all wore a red dress of their choice.

My favorite part of the ceremony was a reading shared by two of their friends.  When we weren't able to find something already written that went with their theme, Eric decided to create it himself.  I have iit included here for you to read.

The movies have shown us many versions of love.  Often, special moments in our favorite characters lives are immortalized, frozen in time, and engraved in our memories. 

Many people have told us that movies are unrealistic.  They say, “That’s only in the movies.”  Or, “Not in real life.”

The fact of the matter is, true love is something that is picturesque, and is often hard to believe exists.  It is something that deserves to be portrayed again and again, with all of its grandiose, romantic trimmings.

So today – Instead of focusing on all the advisory warnings our real life counterparts have instilled in us about love, let’s revisit the advice we got from our Hollywood friends:


It was Audrey Hepburn that said, “The best thing to hold onto is each other.

Humphrey Bogart said that he was born when she kissed him and lived when she loved him.

Marilyn Monroe prescribed that appearances really do matter, and the best thing to wear to bed was Chanel No. 5, of course.

Judy Garland told us that we can live without money, but we can’t live without love.  Maybe Marilyn was right when she said, that if she was really being honest, diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.

These icons have been on the stage in front of thousands, widely recognized and loved.  But, many would likely tell you that they cherish the silence of the night parted by only a few soft words of their true love - far more than the riotous applause of thousands.

So today – we are all witness to the premiere, the first scene, of one of the greatest love stories that they’ll ever tell.  Enjoy your seat, and don’t blink, because love is the most precious gift one human can give to another.

After making a grand entrance, the couple drove away in a historic Rolls Royce!  (They weren't gone too long because there were pictures to be taken and dinner to be served).  It truly was a magical wedding!


The Unity Heart Ceremony


Many couples are looking for a specialty ceremony to include in their wedding ceremony that is something more creative than the often over-used unity candle or sand ceremony. A couple that I recently married chose to include the Unity Heart Ceremony. It was lovely so I have included the wording I red as they put the unity heart together.  Please feel free to use in your ceremony.

"The Unity Heart signifies the wedding covenant made between two individuals that truly love each other.  It is a lasting reminder that will be placed in Josef’s and Sarah’s home reminding them of how two hearts and souls that were destined for each other, found each other, and now they beat as one.

The outside of the heart signifies the groom, bold, strong and protector of the family. Yet when we look at the heart we see that it is empty in the middle showing that the groom is incomplete without his spouse.

The inside of the heart signifies the bride, beautiful, ornate, creative and delicate that fulfills the emptiness of the groom.  When she places her heart into his, the two become one and they complete each other. 

(Grooms name/Bride's name), please seal the Unity Heart in the name of love.  This signifies you have trust in your heart and now beat as one." 

You may order a Unity Heart at:

Country Cottage and Gardens

Ceremonies held at Country Cottage and Gardens in Mineral City, Ohio, are the perfect mix of nature and luxury. Ceremonies are held in the central and most elegant of locations at Country Cottage & Gardens. The Estate House and front gardens overlooking the beautiful lake is the staging location for the ceremonies. Brodes walk out of the upscale Estate House and down the grand staircase towards the brick pathway.  Your guests will be seated on either side while you can make your walk towards the elegantly decorated white archway.


Special care is given to maintaining the gardens. You can expect lush green and flourishing gardens showcasing this location. Their florist and Wedding Planner will take special note of all details to capture the concepts and designs that you would like on your wedding day.

Catering at Country Cottage and Gardens is unmatched in the area. They offer an all natural wood-burning grill for live action cooking. Your guests will get to see and smell the cooking being done right in front of them. They create unique menus for each couple based on preferences and budget. All menus are created based around seasonal and high-quality ingredients. All menus are created from scratch. They do not use pre-made foods so you can bet everything you select at Country Cottage & Gardens is homemade and delicious.

Located right on the ground are 3 cottages that are included in all ceremony and reception packages. They are great for your immediate family and bridal party.  They are available the night of your wedding.

Country Cottage and Gardens is the perfect spot for your wedding.  If you want a venue that will truly handle every aspect of your wedding ceremony and reception, this is your place.

  • Management staff is included throughout all the planning process for consultation and expert advice.
  • Valet golf cart and parking attendance.
  • In house Chef, Wedding Planner, Officiant and Florist for easy appointments and consultation.
  • Amazing customer service designed around “customer first standards”
  • Additional customer service for handicap or needy guests.
  • Staff will decorate your ceremony site and reception site.
  • Service staff for your reception.
  • Clean up staff for during your reception and after your wedding.
  • Rehearsal staffing

Music for the Ceremony

Many couples ask if I can recommend someone to provide music during their ceremony.  I have decided to list a few of my favorites and the way you can contact them.  Hope this helps some of you.

1.  Jessie Gutysell--Professional Harpist/812-606-5855/

2.  Gaetano Letiziz--Guitarist/440-668-1772/

3.  Steve Cipriano--Guitarist and Vocalist/330-687-7210/

4.  Mary Beth Ions--Violinist/216-671-7243/

5.  Derek Snyder--Cellist/216-382-8640/

6.  Richard Maurer--Steel Drums/330-338-3230/

7.  Bellflower String Quartet--String Quartet/216-281-1313

8.  James Beaton--BagPiper/440-396-3075

Click on this link to hear Jessie Gutysell playing the harp

Ohio State Park Lodge May Be Just the Venue You Were Looking For

Ohio State Park Lodges provide unique settings for an unforgettable wedding experience. All of the lodges feature beautiful indoor and outdoor settings that offer countless possibilities for a romantic day in any season of the year. From the shores of Lake Erie to the foothills of Appalachia, you are sure to find your dream location at one of the Ohio State Park Lodges.

Wedding Venues

Each of the Ohio State Park Lodges and Conference Centers is equipped with a selection of banquet and reception rooms that can cater to whatever you have envisioned for your special day. Professional event planners will be there to assist you with any details—big or small—and ensure you have everything to make this day flawless.

Wedding Planning Services Include:

  • Professional sales and catering team that will provide assistance from beginning to end
  • Banquet spaces that best suit your specific needs
  • Cake selection, party favors and more
  • Courteous and caring staff to complete your special day with flawless professionalism
  • Catering services that include meal planning suggestions
  • Specially designed wedding packages to celebrate this momentous day

After the Vows

You and your weddings guests can enjoy spacious lodging, championship golf courses, pristine lakes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, children’s activities, and a range of outdoor activities that include hiking trails, horseback riding and paintball. Any of these events can be incorporated into your wedding plans and include family and friends.

Make your wedding dreams a reality at an Ohio State Park Lodge today!

Five Oaks Historic Mansion

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Five Oaks was designed by the noted Cleveland architect, Charles F. Schweinfurth, and built  1802-1894 for Mr. and Mr. Walter McClymonds.  The exterior is an ecletic type of architecture.  There are features of Gothic, Romanesque, Tudor and French Renaissance.  The sandstone of the house, as well as the wall surrounding the lot, was quarried at the northwest edge of Massillon.

Three entrances lead to the grand hall and it imposing staircase.  Five fireplaces, each with decorated mante and unique marble facing, grace the first floor.  Wood of mahogany and oak, all hand carved, is used for finishing and decorating on the first floor.  Walls are painted and stenciled or decorated, many in, gold leaf and some in silver.

The second floor consists of a large central hall of which doorways lead to five bedrooms.  The third floor has a ballroom, minstrel balcony and two rooms that were used for card playing and serving refreshments. 

Five Oaks was given to the women of Massiollon in the name of the Massillon Woman's Club in 1924. Since that time the Woman's Club has devotely cared for thehouse and grounds.

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Selecting a Wedding Officiant


  1. Celebrant's Background

    Do you like the Celebrant? Does their background and experience resonate with you? Do you like their speaking voice? Are you energized by their enthusiasm and commitment to your ceremony? Is the Celebrant open to your ideas and will they co-create the ceremony with you?
  1. Religious/Spiritual Issues

    Will the Officiant represent couples who are from different religious, spiritual and/or cultural backgrounds (if this is a factor)?
  2. Writing and Co-Creating the Ceremony

    How will your ceremony be created and written? Are you confident in the skills of your chosen Officiantt to deliver your ceremony? Does the Officiant have sample ceremonies/vows for your review?
  3. Rehearsal

    Will the Officiant be available for a rehearsal? (if you wish).  Is there a separate charge for assisting with a rehearsal?
  4. Availability Before Your Ceremony

    Is the Officiant available before your ceremony for questions and advice?
  5. Will The Officiant Have An Alternative in Case of Emergency?

    Does the Officiant have an alternative Officiant available in case of unexpected/unforseen illness or emergency?
  6. Coming and Going

    How early will your Officiant arrive at your ceremony and how long will they stay afterwards?
  7. Travel

    Will the Officiant travel to your wedding ceremony site?  Do they charge for travel?
  8. Fees/Paperwork

    What will the Officant charge for the ceremony and exactly what does this include? Does the Officiant offer a professional contract for services, insuring that your date and time are agreed to on paper?
  9. References and/or Reviews

    For your peace of mind, request references or review from the prospective Officiant.

Unity Cross Specialty Ceremony


The Unity Cross is a unique way to celebrate the joining of a bride and groom together as one. This multi-piece sculpture is to be assembled during the unity service of the wedding ceremony, representing the joining of two into one. The groom places the outer cross in the wood base.  The bride then places the sculpted cross inside the outer cross. The Unity Cross can be displayed in the couple's home after the wedding ceremony as a reminder of their wedding day and the union they share. 

God has made each person unique, and each of us is born with special gifts. (Groom’s name) and (Bride’s name), as you bring yourselves closer and closer together, your individuality merges into your union.

(Groom places outer cross into the wood base).

God created man—bold and strong, like the exterior of this cross. The man is defender of the family, yet he is empty and incomplete without the woman.

(Bride picks up her piece of cross)

God created woman, intricately, multi-faceted, and beautifully to support the man taking care of all the things that completes the man.

So they are no longer two, but one.

(Bride and Groom piece cross together)  If the cross is the type that uses three golden pegs to lock the union (cross) together in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, whatever God has joined together, let no man tear apart.

Will everyone please stand and join us in The Lord’s Prayer.

Wedding Registry: 10 Tips on Registering for Wedding Gifts

 1  .What are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should be one of the first tasks you tackle when you get engaged. Friends and relatives will be looking to buy wedding gifts as soon as he pops the question. Really! Take the guesswork out of gift buying by making sure they know what you want. You don’t need to complete your list just yet, but at least have a selection for guests to browse.

2.  Hitting the stores together is essential. After all, the gifts are for both of you. To decide what you need, take inventory of the things you already have and see where the gaps are. Talk about the style of home you'd both like, and split up the final say (you could alternate items) to make it fair. (Maybe he gets to make final decisions on electronics, while you get to choose the kitchen stuff since you’re the chef.)

3.  Don’t feel like you just need to register for china and flatware. Many stores have wedding registries now, so feel free to include whatever it is that will make your new house a home, be it electronics, appliances, or even camping equipment.

4.  Try to avoid filling your list with things you’re never going to use. If you two aren’t the formal party types, then you probably won’t need a crystal punch bowl, as compelling as it may seem when you walk by with that registry scanner. Also, be extra-sure before you register for anything that's monogrammed. Once your name is on it, you probably won’t be able to return it.

5.  It's always a good idea to inquire about a store's exchange/return policies. The great thing is many wedding registry retailers have amazing customer service to accommodate to-be-weds' needs (for example, you might suddenly realize that you don't really have room for 24 chargers and want to return, say, eight of them). That said, being aware of the store's return and exchange timelines will help you better plan and manage your registry.

6.  As much as you may be hankering for that gorgeous $350-a-place-setting silver, be sure to register for items in a wide range of price points: under $50, under $75, under $100, under $200, and beyond, so all of your guests can choose gifts they can afford. You don't want your college friend feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he can't find a single gift; and on the opposite side, you don't want your parents' closest friends to have to buy you a multitude of smaller items to give you a generous gift.

7. At least one (and preferably all) of your registries should be available online. Guests should also be able to place their orders in person, over the phone, or by fax. If you’ve registered at a boutique retailer that doesn’t offer online services, you should be okay, as long as that’s not the only place you’ve registered. We live in a hectic world and you want to let guests be able to order you a gift -- even if it's 2 a.m.!

8.  When a guest buys a gift for you, your registry should automatically update, allowing other guests to see what’s been purchased (and allowing you to see what’s on its way!). Make sure to revisit your registry often (trust us, you’ll be visiting several times a day once the wedding day nears), and update it with additional selections as products are purchased so that guests always have a variety of things to choose from. Aim to have at least twice as many items on your list as guests at your wedding.

9.  Sure, some couples love receiving cash, but asking for it is not exactly Future Mr. and Mrs. Manners-approved. A more etiquette-friendly option? Try gift cards. Many stores allow you to register for them and you can use them to buy the things you want and need...later. If you are anxious for cash gifts, ask one or two close friends and immediate family members to politely spread the word.

10.  Be gracious -- let your guests know their gifts have arrived -- promptly. Thank-you notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival. Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding day should be sent within a month of your return from the honeymoon. In all notes, be sure to mention the gift by name



Are you thinking of eloping but looking for a way to make your day special for both of you?  Well, here is a list of things you might want to review when making plans for the two of you. 

1.  Dress up--wear something special so you are in the moment and feel like a bride.  Just because you are not having a large wedding doesn't mean you can't wear a wedding dress.  Wear whatever makes you feel like a bride.

2.  Order a small bouquet and boutonniere for each of you.

3.  Hire a photographer and/or videographer to preserve these important memories.  This will also allow you to share this day with family members and friends.  Look for someone who will allow you to use their services for an hour or less which will keep expenses down.

4.  Plan for the two of you to share appetizers/dinner/drinks after the ceremony to celebrate.

5.  Write love letters to each other that you read privately before the ceremony or read aloud to each other after being pronounced husband and wife.

6.  Select a special song that means something to the two of you to play before or after the ceremony. 

7.  If you drink, buy special champagne flutes and toast with champagne after the ceremony. 

8.  Write your own vows.  Frame them after the wedding to display in your home.

9.  Get your hair and make-up done so you feel extra beautiful. 

10.  Order a small cake or cupcakes to share after the ceremony.

11.  Exchange wedding rings

12.  Put a just married sign on your car (you will surprised how many cars will toot their horns as you travel around)

13.  Spend the night at a special hotel or Bed and Breakfast.

14.  Select a song that you would like to dance to after being pronounced husband and wife so you share that first dance.

Remember what marriage is really about. – 

The whole reason to have a wedding in the first place is to get married and express your love for your significant other. When you elope you do just that.  At the end of the day all that really matters is that you and your new hubby are newlyweds.

Vow Renewals

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I recently had the honor of performing a vow renewal ceremony for Andrew and Sarah.  They were celebrating their fourth anniversary and shared with me that they have renewed their vows every year since they first said "I do".  I couldn't wait to blog about what they have shared each year.  When they married four years ago, they actually chose to have two ceremonies.  The first was held at the foothills of the mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The second wedding ceremony took place on the beach in Key West.  For their first year anniversary, Andrew and Sarah went to Durango.  Year two was celebrated in Oregon, where they renewed their vows at the Out 'n About Treehouse "Treesort".  Out’n’About Treesort is in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest and is made up of 36 treehouses.  Their third year of marriage was celebrated at the Sequoia National Park in southern Sierra, Nevada,  For this special celebration, the two of them hiked into the park and stopped by a lake to privately share words of love and commitment to each other.  This year, Andrew and Sarah traveled from their home in California to Cleveland, Ohio.  2013, however, brough a new addition to their family--six month old Caleb.  For this vow renewal they chose The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they each dressed up--Andrew as Joey Ramone, Sarah as Dolly Parton and Caleb as Elvis Presley.  The ceremony took place on the main stage in The Rock Hall.  I talked my husband into joining me so we could get some special photos of the day.  All photos posted on this blog were done by caruso images.  

Creative Guest Book Ideas

Are you tired of the traditional guest book where friends and family dutifully sign their names on the dotted line? Although it’s nice to have a record of those who attended your wedding, a simple book of names can seem a bit, well…boring. No need to worry.  Today, there are plenty of unique and creative guest book alternatives to fit any couple’s personality.  Here are just a few ideas I found on Etsy.

1.  Wishwisk Tree

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This wedding Wishwik™ signature tree is designed to replace the traditional guest book registry. Your guests will bring this tree to life by autographing each leaf. This guest book print is the perfect way to capture your wedding memories and doubles as a beautiful piece of art for your home for years to come.

2.  3 D Paper Hearts

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Guests sign their names on the hearts and help to create an original and memorable work of art that you will enjoy for years to come. 

3.  Wedding Guest Book Puzzle

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This creative guest book idea features large puzzle pieces that provides you with an interactive way to engage your guests. Each puzzle is made of the finest materials in the industry and are made thick, durable and feature vibrant colors to highlight your Special Day. 

4.  Wood Letter Initial


A two foot tall letter that your wedding guests can sign with a fine point sharpie. The sharpie will keep the guest's names and any wishes they leave permanent. What a great way to display memories of your special day.

5.  Jenga Inspired Wood Block Puzzle


Are you a couple who LOVES games?! Here is a super clever alternative to the traditional Guest Book! Guests write their well wishes to the happy couple on these wooden blocks (similar to Jenga) then as the couple plays the game throughout the years they will be reminded of such a special time in their lives

Rocky River Wine Bar

I frequently get asked if I can suggest a wedding venue for a small ceremony and reception.  Although I do have a number of favorites, I just found a new one.  I recently performed a wedding ceremony at the Rocky River Wine Bar.  They have several different areas that can be used for private parties, wine tastings, bridal showers, rehearsal dinner and wedding.  The Fireplace Room holds 24 seated guests and has a fireplace with a flat screen TV.  There is also a covered patio that can accomodate 34 guests.  This area is cozy in the winter months while open and airy in the warmer month.  The Wine Bar also has a large outdoor patio that connects to the main bar that allows a larger party.  The Wine Bar has many food, beverage and wine tasting options available.  Contact Megn DeVito Fowler at 440-759-7469 to find out how she can create a personalized event for you and your guests.

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Disappointment at Windows on the River

After doing a wedding at Window's on the River tonight, I feel I must tell you what I experienced. I have done outside weddings where I needed to stop a few seconds to let a train pass or a plane fly over. Tonight, however, was totally different.  The minute the ceremony began, there was a great deal of music, laughter and talking.  It was not obvious where it was coming from, but it was loud!  The father of the bride got up during the ceremony and went up to the second floor in hopes of finding the people responsible, but could not find them.  As the noise continued, a number of guests got up to see if they would have better luck locating where this distraction was coming from, but again, the culprits could not be found.  The laughter, talking, music and noise continued throughout the entire ceremony.  It was rude, distracting, frustrating and should never had happened.  I have performed over 200 ceremonies and never experienced anything like this.  As soon as the wedding was over, I went directly to the woman in charge of events held at Windows on the River but I didn't get much of an explanation. She was not present in the room for most of the ceremony so didn't hear what the rest of us experienced. Finally, a younger employee of Windows approached me and explained that the noise had not been made by employees from Windows on the River but rather by employees of the Aquarium.  Apparently their office is located on the third floor.  She explained that she actually went to the Aquarium to tell them what was going on but by the time that person radioed the employees, the ceremony was over.  When you are selecting a venue, ask as many questions as you can.  I know the employees responsible for this disappointment were not Windows employees but it certainly seems like a memo letting the aquarium know when they are hosting a wedding might be a simple solution.

Special Day at Inn at Brandywine Falls

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On September 14th, I had the honor of marrying Dr. Mark Thompson and Lisa Schulze.  They chose to host their special day at Inn at Brandywine Falls surrounded by their family and closest friends.  The Inn already held some very special memories for them so when they began to think of venues they might want to hold their wedding at, this was an easy choice. Brandywine Inn is an impeccable Country Place and a part of the tapestry of 33,000 acres of parkland (Cuyahoga Valley National Park) and adjacent to Brandywine waterfall. Built in 1848 as the home of James and Adeline Wallace, it was a centerpiece of the then thriving community of Brandywine Mills. The Wallaces owned the mills as well as 800 acres of land. Now their fine place provides six rooms for visitors, many with sitting areas and all with well-appointed private baths. Each guest accommodation is distinct in Ohio historic decor and ambiance.

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It was simply the most perfect weather day for an outside wedding.  The sun was out and the temperature was exactly what you would hope for.  The ceremony and reception were set up in the surrounding gardens.The flowers were all designed and made by the Inn Keepers using flowers that came from their many gardens.  Tables were set with gold chargers, wine glasses trimmed in gold, lots of green flowers, and a green apple placed on each plate.  It was clear that much thought had been put into how this day should look.

I had not met Mark and Lisa in advance, but from the moment I arrived it was obvious this is a couple that truly love each other. `Lisa is a very beautiful woman.  She wore an ivory lace dress that Mark had purchased for her nearly a year ago when they were shopping for a dress she needed for another occasion. Lisa had decided not to get the lace dress because she felt it wasn't the right choice for the event, but Mark loved her in the dress so much he purchased it and told her to save it because he was sure she would eventually find a need for it.  He certainly found the perfect day for her to wear the beautiful dress!

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The ceremony was full of love.  Mark and Lisa each wrote their own vows, and they were definitely the most wonderful vows I've ever heard a couple share.  It was obvious that they each took a great deal of time and thought in deciding exactly what they wanted to promise each other.

Once the ceremony was over, guests were treated to wine, chocolate, and cigars in the garden.  This was followed by a lunch prepared by the inn keepers. Each guest also had a choice of taking home a bottle of red or white bottle of wine home with them as a favor.

Wedding invitations instructed guests to bring their hiking shoes so they could join the bride and groom in a hike after lunch.  This would eventually lead the guests to a treasure hunt.  Mark and Lisa love the outdoors and spend a great deal of their free time hiking and climbing.  They even corporated this in their cake topper.  I must tell you that the bride did all of hiking and hunting in her wedding dress and hiking boots.  I wish I had a photo of this!

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Mark and Lisa spent the night at the Inn and then were off to a honeymoon in Europe.  Such a beautiful couple and special day!

A Day to Treasure--Tommy and LeeAnne Crawford

On January 7th, 2013, I received a inquiry about performing a wedding ceremony on September 7th. LeeAnn and I had been corresponding on a regular basis in an effort to create the perfect wording for their special day.  Then on August 4th, I received an email from LeeAnn.  I am sharing just a little of it with you.

"Dear Family & Friends, 

It is with shock and disbelief still that I write this post to you all. Tommy suffered a brain aneurysm yesterday morning. The aneurysm ruptured at home and caused him to have a seizure and pass out. Luckily, we were both at home when it happened and I was able to call 911 and they got him to the hospital right away. He underwent several labs, EKGs and a CT which found there was bleeding on his brain. He was transferred to another facility where an angiogram was done to look at the arteries in the brain to see where the rupture occurred, how large it was, and how much bleeding there was. He underwent an emergency craniotomy last night to repair the rupture so it wouldn't open up again and bleed out anymore. They placed a metal clip onto the rupture to hold it together and keep it from opening again. The surgeon said the aneurysm is very small and there was very minimal bleeding on his brain. He doesn't have any more aneurysms and they are confident this one won't rupture again. They are confident that because he is so young and healthy that he should fully recover, hopefully without any complications or permanent damage. However, the next 2 weeks are extremely critical and he will be in Neuro ICU for at least the next 12-14 days for close monitoring and further testing to ensure the aneurysm is closed and there is no more bleeding on his brain. I was able to see him after surgery in the early hours of this morning and he was doing well. He had a bad headache but that is expected they said. He was talking and coherent and even making a few jokes."

After reading the email, I believed that there would be no way a wedding could take place the way Tommy and LeeAnne had hoped.  Tommy, however, proved me wrong.  I had the honor of pronouncing them husband and wife today--just like they had planned.  They changed their venue to their backyard where nearly 60 family members and friends shared in their special moment.  Tommy walked in with some help from a cane but refused to use it during the ceremony.  He simply held hands with his beautiful bride.  I believe, however, she needed his support as much as he needed hers.

It was a beautiful wedding.  It is a wedding that will forever have a special place in my heart.  This is a couple that faced a very scary and life changing event that has made them both closer and stronger. There was so very much love shared by this special couple as well as their friends and family.

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Happy Days Lodge Peninsula, OH

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The Happy Days Lodge has a 4,000 square-foot Great Hall and breezy screened-in porch surrounded by a rolling meadow.  It is the ideal setting for an unforgettable wedding event. This unique venue is on the national register of historic places and is a gorgeous example of a wormy chestnut and sandstone structure, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Lodge is a perfect backdrop for planning a creative wedding event. The facility can accommodate up to 180 guests for a seated dinner.  If you thnking you would like a rustic wedding theme, I can't think of any venue more suitable to make all your dreams come true.  I recently married Hayley O'Hare and Frank Ziegler in the meadow.  It was a warm, sunny and perfect day.  Much attention was given to decorating the hall with baby's breath, brass chandeliers and twinkling lights hung from the wooden rafters, chalkboard signs, antique suitcases, ball jars, and colorful table runners.  I have done several weddings at the Happy Days Lodge but have never seen it shine the way it did for the Ziegler wedding.  

Happy Days Lodge

500 West Streetsboro Road 

Peninsula, OH 44264