8 Tips For Choosing Your Wedding Rings

Wedding Rings

Image by Alvaro Arriagada (License)

You – or at least your fiancé – probably put a lot of thought into the engagement ring. But what about your wedding bands? Here are a few tips to help you find just the right symbols of your love.

1. Establish a budget

Simple silver bands can run around $20, while platinum can run from $300 to more than $1,000. Remember, it's important that you wear the rings, not how much you spent on them. If your fiancé splurged on the engagement ring, you're having a big wedding, you're planning an extra long honeymoon, or you're buying a house, you might want to scale down the cost of the wedding bands.

2. Start early, shop around

Give yourself a few months to look at different rings. After choosing the bands, wait at least one night before buying, just to make sure. Allow at least one month for sizing — especially if it is spring or winter, as jewelers are extra busy during these times due to weddings, Christmas and Valentine's Day.

3. Choosing your metal

There are pros and cons to every type of metal. Here are the five most popular wedding band metals, from least expensive to most:

• Silver
Pros: inexpensive, easy to resize and repair
Cons: easily scratched, bent or tarnished

• Titanium

Pros: lightweight, durable, hypoallergenic and doesn't require rhodium plating
Cons: cannot be soldered or resized (your fingers are likely to change size throughout the years)

• Tungsten

Pros: extremely durable; won't scratch and doesn't need polishing
Cons: heavy and can't be resized

• Gold

Pros: popular and easy to work with
Cons: expensive, and easily scratched or bent

• Platinum

Pros: long-wearing, easy to work with
Cons: very expensive, heavy and dents easily

4. Style and practicality

This is an always and forever ring – you'll wear it dressed up and dressed down for years to come, so:

Make sure it is versatile enough to fit every occasion.

Pick something timeless: the latest trend in stones or metals may be dated within five years.

Beware of sharp edges or points that could easily catch on clothing.

5. Matching rings

Your rings don't have to match each other perfectly, but they should be the same color metal – if you go with yellow gold, he might choose gold-tinted tungsten. If you choose platinum, he might prefer titanium. Your ring doesn't have to mirror your engagement ring, either, but it should have complimentary features.

6. Engraving

Engraving is a great way to make a simple wedding band more personal, or to forge a connection between you and your husband's rings even if the styles don't match. Choose a favorite phrase, scripture or quote, but give yourself plenty of time to change your mind before you have it done. Remember to figure in about a month for the engraving to be completed.

7. What about heirloom or antique rings?

Save a lot of money and add a uniquely personal touch by using a family ring. You'll have a piece of history with you on your wedding day – the proverbial "something old." If you don't have a family ring, consider a ring from National Jewelry Liquidation Center® – you can find designer pieces for less than half the retail cost, and fall in love with something that will itself become an heirloom in the years to come.

8. Upgrade later

If you're struggling with how big or how expensive your bands should be, remember – you can always upgrade your rings to more expensive metals or larger gems later to celebrate a special anniversary.*

Tell us about your ideal wedding band. Did you get your rings at the National Jewelry Liquidation Center? Share a photo on our Facebook page!

*See store associate for details.  

All trademarks not owned by Cash America International, Inc. that appear are the property of their respective owners, who are not affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Cash America International, Inc.

 

5 Places To Find Great Wedding Vows

Ring in Book

Photo by Nisha A (License)

You don’t want the same vows everyone uses – you want something unique. But you’re no poet, and everything you write ends up sounding cheesy. Have no fear; we scoured the web for the best sites with ready-made vows that are hilarious or heartfelt. Here are some of our favorites.

Zombies, Pirates and Posting Bail
Offbeat Bride® has a great selection of wedding vows ranging from realistic to fantastical.

Movie Quotes
Try using a romantic line from your favorite movie. NetPlaces has tons of suggestions.

Pinterest
Because, let’s face it. Pinterest® makes everything better.

Green Eggs and Vows
The Wedding Café® offers some examples of great marriage vows – including some inspired by Dr. Seuss® – and a few tips if you do decide to write your own.

Practical and Poignant
Lydia Netzer gives perhaps the best advice in these 10 down-to-earth vows that could genuinely strengthen your marriage.

Here's a little more wedding day help:

All trademarks not owned by Cash America International, Inc. that appear are the property of their respective owners, who are not affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Cash America International, Inc.

Wedding Costs – Vow To Save Money

For most people, weddings can cost as much as a new car or can easily be more than the down payment of your first house. Remember, a wedding is a one-day celebration – memorable and momentous of your new life together – but one day all the same. Having enough money to buy a car or make the down payment on a new house can affect your new life together for years to come. Let’s look at ways to make your celebration fabulous without sacrificing a comfortable start together.

Cash or Credit?

Credit cards provide two essentials that cash does not. Credit cards come with built-in insurance and can offer some amazing rewards.

First and foremost, credit cards insure for services not provided. Imagine your photographer gets lost or his car breaks down and you have to improvise with a digital camera and the help of your guests. If you’ve paid your photographer a down payment in cash, it could be tricky getting that money back. But, if you’ve charged it on a credit card, simply dispute the charge as services not rendered and let the credit card company hash it out.

Reward yourself for purchases you have to make anyway. Starting a new life together can lead to a long list of needs, whether it’s a honeymoon or a vacuum. Credit card rewards vary and can save you money. Airline credit cards sometimes offer bonus points for signing up, which can be enough to buy one round-trip ticket to anywhere in the continental U.S. The SPG Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card is also great for travel rewards.

Now remember, this is not a free for all, you still need to stay within your budget. Make sure to pay off each credit card bill on time with your wedding funds, otherwise the extra late fees and interest rate charges will make your efforts worthless. Check out our article on wedding budgets for help calculating the amount you’ll need to save.

Cost-Savvy Reception

The reception costs constitute the majority of a wedding budget. Here are some simple ways to cut reception spending.

Band: Instead of hiring an established band, reach out to music students in the area. A local college or high school could have some amazing talent ready to debut their skills.

Flowers: Opt for non-floral centerpieces. Flower centerpieces are very expensive and you can do something just as gorgeous with candles. Look at some of these non-floral centerpieces from the Antique Door.

Cake: Skip the tiered cake, which is labor intensive and inflates the cost, and opt for several cakes layered on platters. The labor cost to create those edible, sugar-made floral cake decorations isn’t worth the money; use real flowers instead. Another option would be to layer a variety of cupcakes on different platters, then have a small cake on the top layer for cutting.

Wedding Costs – Vow To Save Money

Photo by Lnk.Si (License)

Wedding Costs – Vow To Save Money

Photo by Jose and Roxanne (License)

Photographer: The photographer normally leaves after the cutting of the cake. Cut the cake early and cut the photographer’s fee.

Buy Someone Else’s Wedding

Are you taken aback by this whole planning process and trying to save money to boot? Do you wish someone could make all the decisions and you could just show up for the fun stuff? Why not buy someone else’s canceled wedding? Take advantage of a couple who decided to postpone or cancel their wedding after they paid their deposit and, in some cases, organized all the wedding details. Go to Canceled Weddings and set up a profile, and wait for weddings that match your description to come to you.

If you’re having a hard time deviating from your original childhood dream wedding, try two things: One, ask someone who is married what they would do differently. They’ll probably say something like, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much money” and “don’t sweat the small stuff, no one notices it anyway.” Two, ask someone that has been to a wedding recently what the cake and centerpieces looked like. You’ll most likely hear a resounding, “I can’t remember.”

Do you have any ideas on how to cut wedding costs or have you tried any of our suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.

11 Tips For Picking The Perfect Engagement Ring

Maybe you're the bride, helping choose your own ring, or maybe you're the groom, hoping to surprise your fiancée with the perfect rock. Either way, you could use a few tips before you take the diamond plunge.

How much should you spend?

1. Tradition says to spend about two month's salary, but you can go higher or lower as it suits you both. If you want more to spend on the honeymoon, the wedding or your new home, go for a smaller diamond Shameless plug: We offer top-quality engagement rings at less than half the retail cost. Hint, hint.

How do you choose the right metal/stone/setting?

2. Do you prefer yellow gold or white gold? If you prefer white, consider platinum as an alternative. Platinum is more expensive, but it is also more durable.

3. Check out our previous post on how to choose a diamond like an expert.

4. A stone that sits high on the band is gorgeous, but you may risk catching the stone on something or even losing it. A careful lady can go for the high setting, but if you are rough on your hands consider a stone setting with a lower profile.

How do you protect your investment?

5. Buy from a well-established jeweler, perhaps recommended by friends or family (like us).

6. For more expensive pieces, ask for a certificate of authenticity from a trusted issuer like the GIA or the AGS (many of our pieces are certified by the GIA: all our pieces are authenticated and refurbished by the Cash America Trading Company).

7. Get a warranty (every piece we sell comes with a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee; you can return the piece within 30 days for a full refund, an exchange or store credit).

8. Insure it! Check with your homeowner's or rental insurance to see how much is covered. If the ring appraises for more than your policy covers, consider getting it insured separately.

Just for the guys: How to surprise her

If you want to surprise her with the proposal, but you're nervous about finding a ring she'll love on your own, try one of these savvy tips:

9. Ask her friends to help out. If you trust her friends not to spill the beans, ask them to stop in a jewelry store when they're out shopping, and, "just for fun," point out their favorite rings and ask her to point out hers. They'll covertly report back to you later.

10. Propose with a temporary ring. Pop the question with something as simple as a plastic Cracker Jack ring, and then explain that you'll take her shopping for a real one.

11. Propose in the store. You could always do what Patrick Dempsey did in Sweet Home Alabama—lure her into a jewelry store, drop to one knee and say "Pick one"—though you'll have to keep your budget in mind.

 

Wedding Budget and Planning


Photo from Tax Credits

In our last wedding article, You’re Engaged Now What, we talked about what to do immediately after getting engaged. Now we’re going to take it one step further and talk about budget and planning.

If you followed our advice, you have set a budget number. Here are some general percentages on how much you will spend in each wedding day category:

Wedding Day Budget Categories

  • Reception (includes food and cake): 45%
  • Dress: 10%
  • Invitations: 2%
  • Church: 2% 
  • Band/Music: 10%
  • Bridal Party Gifts: 3%
  • Flowers: 10%
  • Photographer/Videographer: 10%
  • Transportation/Parking: 2%
  • Miscellaneous: 6%

Take your wedding budget total and multiply it by the percent to get your budget for each category. So, for example, if you have $20,000 to spend, multiply $20,000 by .45 and you get $9,000 – that is your reception budget. Your dress budget would be $20,000 times .10 – that equals $2,000 for the dress. Go through the list and set budgets for everything. Remember, this is just a guideline. If you know you want to spend more in one category and less in another, adjust as needed. 

Now that you have your budget outlined, begin researching each category. Know that if you go over in one category, you’ll have to pull from another. Set a goal of getting at least three options for each category; get quotes from three different reception places, go to at least three stores to shop for your wedding dress and so on. Not everyone offers the same thing and charges the same price. Shop and compare to find the perfect choices for your wedding. 

How is your wedding planning going? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear! 

You’re Engaged, Now What?

Photo by National Jewelry Liquidation Center

Names and images shown are registered copyright/trademarks of their respective owners.

 

He’s just slipped the ring on your finger and you’ve said yes. Now what? This joyous occasion can be eclipsed by the sudden realization of the work ahead of you. Don’t let this happen to you. Take a deep breath, follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to wedding bliss in no time. 

Announcement

This should be a time for celebration, so try to relax and celebrate the engagement before you get caught up in the planning. Take a second before you post your news all over social media and give your parents, close friends and relatives a call. The time spent on the phone will be worth being able to share the good news personally. 

The Ring

You’ll be showing your ring off to everyone after you announce, so make sure the ring fits just right. Get the ring sized as soon as possible, especially if it’s too big. There would be nothing worse than losing your engagement ring, nothing! Your next thought should be on ring insurance. Some women chose to insure and others don’t. If your ring is extremely expensive, a family heirloom or you’re sentimental, we suggest insuring.  If it’s a starter ring and not too expensive you may opt not to. 

The Date

The first thing everyone is going to ask is WHEN the big day is. Do yourself a favor and pick a time frame – we like the idea of a spring wedding or we’re shooting for the beginning of the year. This will get them off the subject while you’re figuring it out.

Photos

Hire a photographer, pick your favorite background, whether it’s a cityscape or country landscape, and take some engagement pictures. Bring a ‘Save the Date’ sign to take pictures with and use those for your wedding date announcements. 

Party

Get your closest friends and family together and celebrate the engagement. This group will be spending a lot of time together with your wedding activities. So, the engagement party should serve as a no-pressure setting to have everyone meet. 

Research

Now the engagement celebration is over and it’s time to get to work. First step is budget. Weddings can get expensive fast. So you’ll need to set realistic expectations. How much will you as a couple contribute? How much will your parents help out? All this should be laid out at the very beginning. 

Sit down with your family and friends, make sure some of them are married – experience helps, and make a to-do list – invitations, venues, etc. Getting everyone involved in the very beginning will keep them in tune with your wedding-day desires. It also helps you pull from more resources. Maybe your sister knows a fabulous, inexpensive caterer or works with a graphics designer that can help with invitations. From this meeting you should be able to create clear steps on how to make your wedding the envy of all your friends. 

 

There you have it, simple really. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Picking Jewelry for the Occasion*

Not every piece of jewelry is good for every occasion. Just as you carefully select the right outfit you need to make sure your jewelry helps complete the look. Let’s take a look at some of the occasions you are sure to attend and the best jewelry selection for each.

Date Jewelry

First Date: First dates are hard. Wearing jewelry that is conducive to conversation and keeps his head up and on you is our recommendation. We suggest earrings as your statement piece. Wear ones that expresses your personality, whether that’s big and bold or more conservative, but also try to make them eye catching. Dangling chandelier style or sparkling hoops are both good choices.

Romantic Date: Going out for a romantic date with your love? Try wearing your hair up and a pair of sparkling studs with a diamond choker or short chain necklace. This will accentuate the neckline and adds some sex appeal. Or bring his attention to your hands with a sparkling diamond tennis bracelet and a distinctive style cocktail ring. These pieces will help initiate hand holding and a bit of flirting.

Party Jewelry

Work Party: A work party is not the same as a party with close friends and shouldn’t be treated as such. While you want to relax and have fun, keeping a sophisticated work demeanor at work functions, yes, even parties, will make sure you keep your respect at work. If you are really bright and outgoing try one WOW piece. Pick something that can be a topic of conversation, but doesn’t show you as too wild. A cool cocktail ring says sophisticated and fun, or a colorful or unique-style bracelet will do the trick.

Party with Friends: You are free to go all out here. Have an arm party, mixing different styles of bracelets together and wearing them all at once. Mix and match dainty with bold, white gold with yellow and see what your friends think. You might just stumble on a great new style.

Photo by thestylishhousewife.com

Wedding

Wedding Guest: If you’re going to a wedding, and aren’t the bride, don’t go overboard with the bling. Remember it’s supposed to be the bride’s day to shine. If you have diamond rings, excluding your engagement ring, that are bigger than the bride’s engagement ring leave them at home. Wear some of your delicate more dainty pieces.

Bride: If you are the bride check out our article on 9 Easy Tips for Picking the Perfect Wedding Jewelry

Memorial Service

This is time for remembrance and mourning. Leave the arm party behind and go for the minimalist look. If you have to wear something, select small diamond studs.

Wondering what to wear for a special occasion that we didn’t mention above? Tell us where you’re going in the comments below and we’ll give you some suggestions on the right jewelry for the occasion.

*All jewelry pictured, unless citied, was from the National Jewelry Liquidation Center store.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts: Ideas for the Tough Ones

Anniversary Gifts
Photo by Jessica Garro

If you’re an old-fashioned romantic and you’ve decided to go by the traditional list of anniversary gifts, you might run into a few problems. First, here’s a rundown of the big ones:

Traditional:

1. Paper
2. Cotton
3. Leather
4. Linen/silk
5. Wood
10. Tin/Aluminum
15. Crystal
20. China
25. Silver
30. Pearl
35. Coral
40. Ruby
45. Sapphire
50. Gold
60. Diamond

Sure, some of these are easy – the precious metals or stones will make great jewelry gifts (and you know where to find great deals on fine jewelry). There are hundreds of gift choices in leather, wood, crystal and China. But what about the tough categories, like paper or cotton?

We’ve got a few ideas.

Year One: Paper

Year Two: Cotton

Year Four: Linen/Silk

Year Ten: Tin/Aluminum 

 

 

What’s the best anniversary gift you’ve ever given or received? Tell us in the comments!

How to Set Places at a Table

dinner party
Photo by Dinner Series

Have you taken it upon yourself to throw a dinner party or fancy brunch? Is the thought of setting the table daunting? Maybe you have trouble just remembering what fork to use for the salad course. Well, we’re here to help, with some easy-to-remember guidelines.

Only What You Need
The first rule: don’t lay out dishes or utensils that won’t be used. A simple setting is fine for a one- or two-course meal.

Plates
The dinner plate is the basis for the rest of the setting. Just make sure you leave enough elbowroom for your guests, with about two feet of space from the center of one plate to the next.

Silverware
Guests will use the outer utensils first, then work their way inward with each course:

dinner party
Photo by Dinner Series

Napkins
There are plenty of acceptable ways to place the napkin. It can go on the plate, under the forks or to the left of the forks. It can be folded, rolled in a ring, or if you’re really ambitious, maybe try some napkin origami.

Glasses and bread plates
Glasses go on the right above the knife; bread plate on the left above the forks. There’s a hand trick to remember this: make a circle with the thumb and fingers of each hand, then extend your index fingers. Your left hand will look like a lowercase ‘b’ (for bread) and your right will look like a lowercase ‘d’ (for drink).

dinner party
Photo by DinnerSeries

Centerpieces
Flower arrangements or other centerpieces should be below eye level, or they’ll make cross-table conversations difficult. To measure the right height, rest your elbow on the table with your fist pointed up. Make sure the arrangement is not taller than your fist.

 

Need more dinner part tips? We’ve got you covered:

6 Tips for Being a Great Host

Tips for hosting a picinic
Photo by DinnerSeries

Everyone loves a good social gathering, but an unprepared or inattentive host can really put a damper on things. If you choose to host a party, whether it be a birthday celebration, dinner party, or just having friends over to watch football, remember that you’re responsible for ensuring your guests have a good time.

Here are six tips on how to be a great host!

  1. Be prepared for early arrivals

    It’s inevitable: someone is always going to show up early. Don’t let this throw you off. Greet the early guest, offer them a drink, and then politely tell them you have a few things you need to finish up. Chances are, your guest will be happy to get the door or set items on the table while you change your clothes or finish putting on makeup. 
  2. Make guests feel welcome

    This is hosting 101, but it is still very important. Make sure you welcome guests as soon as you can once they arrive. And do your best to make them feel welcome in your home: Offer them a drink, show them where they can set down their things, and point out where the bathroom is located. 
  3. Make introductions

    A lot of people are too shy to introduce themselves to people they don’t know at parties. As the host, it is your responsibility to introduce your guests to each other. It’s also helpful to mention something the two might have in common. This ensures that once you step away to talk with other guests, they can continue the conversation. 
  4. Ask for help if you need it

    We’ve all witnessed the host who refuses offers of help even though they are stressed and trying to refill ice trays and greet guests while simultaneously cleaning up spilled punch. Don’t be a hero. People always want to help the host, so let them help! 
  5. Have a variety of food and drinks

    You can’t please everyone – and you don’t need go overboard – but a great host will always have a good variety of food and drinks available for their guests. Try to have some healthy options for the calorie-conscious and some fun items for the kids (if children are invited).
  6. Remember to mingle 

    Don’t leave a shy guest in the corner by themselves while you gossip with your best friends the entire night. Try to make a point to excuse yourself from conversations so you can mingle with each one of your guests at multiple intervals throughout the evening. 

 

Have some great hosting tips of your own? Please share them with us in the comments!

Wedding Day Gift Exchange

Wedding Day Gifts

Photo by Katsu Nojiri

The wedding day bride and groom gift exchange is a tradition that dates back as far as the Victorian Era. While this is a custom most wish to participate in, many find themselves struggling to find just the right Wedding Day gift. These gifts should be symbolic of your love and commitment; a true statement to your lives together and the journey you are beginning. They don’t have to follow the traditional, nor must they cost a fortune, they only need to come from the heart. Remember, at the end of the day, the greatest gift will be the love and commitment you share. 

Here are some tried and true suggestions for that special gift:

For Her

For Him

No matter whether you choose traditional or nontraditional, this gift should be personal and meaningful. Make sure it’s something they’ll truly enjoy and cherish; something that will forever remind them of you and that extraordinary day. Keep in mind the wedding day will likely be a blur with plenty of bumps along the way. So make time for each other and create a memory you’ll never forget.

5 Places to Steal Proposal Ideas

Places to Propose

Photo by Costini Thampikutty

 

It’s time. You’re ready to ask her to spend the rest of her life with you. The moment has to be romantic. Memorable. Perfect.

 

And you’re at a complete loss.

 

Fortunately, we did a little recon for you. Here are some of the best places around the web to find marry-me inspiration.

 

Pinterest

From riddles to roller coasters, Pinterest has your back for awesome proposal ideas.

 

The Plunge

This site lays out the pros and cons of several ways to pop the question. 

 

Men’s Health 

Here you’ll find both proposal ideas and advice backed up by surveys of real women.

 

The Wedding Channel 

Want to go down on your knee without spending an arm and a leg? Here are 20 proposal ideas under $50.

 

Jerry Bruno Productions

Want an idea you know has already worked for someone else? This company provides DJs and musicians for weddings, and they compiled 101 great proposal stories from their clients.

 

Here’s more help:

8 awesome ways to propose

9 signs it’s time to propose

11 tips for picking the perfect engagement ring

Renewing Your Vows: the Whys and the Hows

Renewing Vows
Photo by Camp Darby

There are few things more romantic than a reaffirmation ceremony – looking deep into the eyes of the person you love and reminding them of your commitment to forever. You don’t need a particular reason to do it, but here are some of the main reasons you might – and some ideas for how to do it.

 

You’ve just returned from an elopement.

The original wedding was just the two of you, a justice of the peace and a couple of strangers for witnesses. Now you want to share that moment with family and friends.

Make it special: Try choosing someplace traditional and close enough for your loved ones to attend easily. Your home church or your parents’ house are great venues for this type of renewal. Share pictures from the original ceremony, if you have them.

You couldn’t afford a big wedding then, but you can now.

All you focused on then was becoming joined to the person you love – but you’ve always felt you missed out on the joy of the fairy tale wedding.

Make it special: It’s pretty simple. Get together with your mom, sisters and best girlfriends to reminisce about the dress, ceremony and reception you’ve always dreamed of – then make that dream come true!

You’re celebrating a major anniversary

You’ve made it through 10, 25, 50 years together. That’s a big deal and it deserves to be recognized.

Make it special: It might be fun to recreate the original ceremony – wear the same dress, dance to the same music, etc. If your kids are old enough, they might want to do the planning, be your attendants and even walk you down the aisle. This is also a great time to update your wedding and engagement rings. Upgrade to a larger stone, get the white gold re-dipped, get them engraved with a special message, or simply drop by the National Jewelry Liquidation Center to have them cleaned.

You’ve just overcome a rocky time in the relationship.

Maybe one of you has just gotten over a serious illness. Maybe you’ve just worked through some relationship problems. Either way, you’ve got a new lease on life – celebrate that!

Make it special: Try something completely different than your original wedding. If you were so stressed by wedding planning last time that the vows felt more rehearsed than heartfelt, now’s the time to slow down and cherish the moment with a simple, intimate event. Or if you had a solemn church service then, do a fun theme now – like in full costume at a Renaissance Fair, or “elope” in Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator officiant!

Ultimately, you can renew your vows for any reason or no reason – and you can do it in any way you like. What strikes a chord with you?

Here’s more help:
Destination Wedding Pros and Cons
Bridal 101
How to get the most out of your Las Vegas trip

8 Destination Wedding Pros and Cons (and How to Turn the Cons Around)

Destination Weddings
Image by David Laporte

 

You have this image in your mind. You and your soul mate stand barefoot in the sand against the backdrop of a fiery sunset. Your white silk dress billows in the salty breeze as he whispers his vows and slips a ring onto your finger.

That dream might be more practical than you think. Here are some pros and cons to planning a destination wedding – and how to work past the cons.

 

Pro: Affordable for you.

Many resorts or cruise lines offer wedding packages that include the florist, catering, and accommodations at a discounted rate. That also means you don’t have to worry about as many details.

Con: Expensive for guests.

Airfare, accommodations, food, time off from work – the wedding package may cover or reduce some of your guests’ expenses, but not all. 

The fix: Forego gifts, or host an extra dinner or brunch to thank your guests.

 

Pro: More casual and intimate. 

You only want your closest family and friends with you that day – but everyone you’ve ever met expects to be invited. It’s easy to politely explain you are eloping to a distant place with only immediate family.

Con: Some loved ones won’t make it.

Poor health, tight finances, too much work – all reasons the people you actually want to be there could miss your wedding. And they might hold it against you. 

The fix: Plan a reception at home later for all the guests who couldn’t make it, or ask the coordinator at your venue if they can set up web-casting for the ceremony. 

 

Pro: Getting away from it all.

Planning any wedding is guaranteed to be stressful – but getting to escape to a beach or the mountains can definitely take the edge off.

Con: Planning from afar.

There may be problems communicating with your vendors, or acquiring the right marriage license, especially in a foreign country. 

The fix: Do your research, and talk with the coordinator at your venue to make sure you have the right documentation – or consider a destination like Las Vegas: licenses are easy to acquire, and marriages performed in Nevada are recognized worldwide.

 

Pro: Instant honeymoon.

You’re already in paradise – no need to worry about catching a flight right after you tie the knot. 

Con: Your guests are on your honeymoon, too.

The reception is over, and now you want privacy. Unfortunately, your guests have spent a lot to get here, and by golly, they’re going to enjoy it!

The fix: Move to a different hotel post-wedding to avoid running into your guests.

 

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Need more help? Here’s our top 10 wedding basics and our guide to building a guest list

Choosing Las Vegas as your wedding destination? Get the most out of your trip.

10 Ways to Be a Better Best Man


Image by Vadim Lavrusik

 

You know all the basic best man duties: plan the bachelor party, go to tux fittings, stand next to the groom, make a toast and decorate the getaway car. But to ensure you avert disaster with secret-agent swagger, make sure you cover these 10 points.

  1. Corral the groomsmen.
    Make sure all the other groomsmen have the proper attire and are on time for fittings, the rehearsal dinner and the ceremony (and any other events).
  2. Throw the bachelor party early.
    Don’t have it the night before the wedding: it’s not cool to show up at the church with an exhausted groom. Have it a few days (or weeks) in advance.
  3. Make sure the party’s what he really wants.
    Think of this as guy time, rather than a singles’ last hurrah – remember he hasn’t been single for a while now. A paintball war or weekend fishing trip might be more fitting than the clichéd stripper debauchery.
  4. Get your crude jokes out of the way.
    Go ahead and roast him at the bachelor party – get it out of your system so you’re left with clean and heartwarming stuff for the mixed-company wedding toast.
  5. Get him ready.
    Make sure the groom has what he needs for the ceremony and the honeymoon: marriage license, luggage, tickets and passport. Make sure he looks good (check socks, tie, teeth and hair). And for heaven’s sake, get him to the church on time!
  6. Keep the rings safe.
    If you’re carrying the rings, make sure they can’t fall out of your pocket. If there’s a ring bearer, make sure he knows what he’s doing and keep an eye out to give him some direction if he forgets.
  7. Keep the groom’s feet warm.
    He’s going to be nervous. Remind him why he loves this girl and why they’re perfect for each other – if the bride’s acting crazy, remind him how stressful planning a wedding is. Crack a few jokes and tell him to breathe. 
  8. Don’t lock your knees.
    Locking your knees for long periods of time (like during the ceremony) can make you pass out. Keep one knee slightly bent and surreptitiously shift your weight from one foot to the other every few minutes.
  9. Secure the getaway car
    Make sure the car isn’t damaged during the decorating process, and make sure the driver can still see out. Make sure whoever’s driving (you, the groom, or whoever) – is sober. If a limo is the getaway car, make sure the driver is where he needs to be on time.
  10. Return the tux
    The groom’s out of town, so when you return your own tux (or take it to be cleaned), take his, too.

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Need help with that wedding toast? Here are 6 secrets to making it awesome.

Weddings – Through the Maid Of Honor’s Eyes

We’re all excited when our best friend calls to tell us they’re engaged. And so begins the months of planning, parties and tasks. Here’s a look at the glorious day from a different perspective, the Maid Of Honor. 

 

Once you’ve been tasked with the wonderful honor of Maid of Honor, your free time is a thing of the past. You are officially hired as a secondary wedding planner. Your job – to look after the bride and take care of anything she needs. 

 

Bridesmaid Duty


 

Photo by: Social Innovation Camp

Wedding Dress Shopping


 

Photo by: Timothy Horrigan

Day-To-Day Wedding Tasks

Photo by: Whitney In Chicago

Bridal Shower/Bachelorette Party

Photo by:  A Forest Frolic

 

Troubleshoot

Photo By:  Clyde Robinson

 

Toast

Photo by: Nima Sareh

 

You made it! Now enjoy yourself at the reception, talk to that cute guy you’ve been eyeing all night, and relax. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

6 Secrets to Making an Awesome Wedding Toast


Image by Tricia

Not only do you have to wear uncomfortable (potentially hideous) clothing while keeping the bride or groom from going insane, they expect you to stand up in front of a crowd and be eloquent.

Here’s your secret guide to doing just that.

  1. Plan it beforehand
    Don’t think you’re going to come up with something pithy and heartwarming out of the blue. Give yourself a couple of weeks to write, edit and practice it. If you’re not used to public speaking, use notecards – nerves can easily make you forget what you memorized.
  2. Don’t use a cliché
    There are a few dozen jokes, quotes and proverbs everybody uses. The handful of people who’ve never heard them before may think you’re brilliant, but everyone else will be groaning. Also avoid “ball and chain” lines or winking allusions to the honeymoon.
  3. Use a personal story
    Share a funny or heartwarming story that illustrates what a great person the bride or groom is, or why they are so perfect for each other. Avoid embarrassing stories or anything that would make the grandparents blush. Your ultimate goal should be to make the couple look good.
  4. Keep it short
    No one wants to listen to endless rambling – and other people need to make toasts, too. Time yourself and make sure your speech only takes one or two minutes.
  5. Run it by someone else
    If you only know one half of the couple well, run it by a friend of the other person. For instance, if you’re the best man and not sure if that opening joke will sit well with the bride, ask the maid of honor what she thinks.
  6. End with the actual toast
    Raise your glass and say the closing line. Bonus points if you can refer back to the story you told, but if you can’t think of a good connection, something like “to a lifetime of happiness,” “to [name] and [name],” or classic “cheers!” “salute!” or “la chaim!” will do nicely.

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How did your toast go? Tell us in the comments!

Date Ideas from First Date through Marriage

Date Ideas from First Date through Marriage
Photo by Kevin Dooley

Where’s the best place to go on a date? That might depend on what stage of the relationship you’re in. Here’s a quick guide.

 

First Date

 

Third Date

Engaged Date

(Here’s some wedding-planning help for when you’re not out on a date.)

 

Married Date

 

Need more help? Here’s 10 unforgettable date ideas.

Date Ideas for Every Life Stage!

Regardless of your current life stage, we’re always looking for fun and refreshing date ideas. If you’re tired of the dinner and movie scenario, we’ve got the perfect list of dates for you. 


date ideas

Photo by David Blaikie

 

Single Date Ideas

Look online for meteor showers sightings. Pick up your date late at night and head out to somewhere there is little to no light. Bring along a blanket, cuddle up underneath the stars and enjoy the view. 

Attend an art party or pottery painting class. It’s a really fun, creative activity where the two of you can let loose and have some fun. Plus, how often do you get to create art for your own house? 

Go to a theme park and snuggle close on those scary, death-defying rides. In the downtime, grab some snacks, play some games and win some prizes! Walk away with souvenirs of a great night together. 

 

date ideas

Photo by Jim G

 

Just Married Date Ideas

Wine and dine at a local winery. Buy a few glasses, pack a lunch and catch up on each other’s day-to-day happenings. Exploring new tastes together is not only delicious, but can also be very romantic. 

Volunteer together. You’ll spend quality time together, but you’ll also make a difference and give back. Be sure to choose an activity that is meaningful to both of you, and watch how heart-warming the eventful day will be.

 

date ideas

Photo by Bhanu Tadinada

 

Proud Parents Date Ideas

Drop off the kids with their grandparents and find a room at an expensive hotel. Bring a cooler of adult beverages and a bag of your favorite snacks to eat in bed. Have dinner in bed with all the yummy goodies you now don’t have to share with the little ones.

Take foil dinners, your drink of choice and s’mores to a secluded camping ground. Camp out and kiss under the stars, roast marshmallows and enjoy the quiet, relaxing, romantic atmosphere. 

 

date ideas

Photo by Abhisawa

 

Post-Kids Date Ideas

Take a class together. Whatever it is you want to learn, there is probably a class for it. Expand your horizons and get into those hobbies you always wanted to try. 

Visit your local thrift, vintage or dollar store. Set a price and time limit. Split up and find the perfect item for your significant other. Over lunch, exchange your gifts and explain why you chose the item. 

Pick a small town, attraction, or tourist trap, and make a day of it. Make sure to get the road trip essentials prior to leaving – directions, photo opportunities must-stops, favorite snacks, must-eat local restaurant and a road trip playlist. 

 

date ideas

Photo by Elliott Brown

 

Retirement Date Ideas

Create a time capsule together. Gather your favorite items symbolizing your love for each other – an old wedding invitation, love letters, photos and more – and place them in the capsule. Be sure to leave a note with your words of wisdom for the future lucky finder of your capsule. 

Visit your local museums. Spend the afternoon checking out weird exhibits and learning about history and art. Download the new knowledge over coffee or drinks afterwards.

 

 

So get out there and enjoy each other’s company in this vast world of ours. There is still so much to see and do. Don’t miss out!

 

 

10 Steps to Build Your Wedding Guest List (Without Making Enemies)


Image by Stephanie Chapman

If there's any part of wedding planning that will make you pull your hair out, it's putting together the guest list. So, here's a step-by-step guide to help you avoid any disasters – and to fight premature baldness.

1. Manage expectations
As soon as the ring appears on your finger, everyone starts asking when the wedding will be—usually thinking they're invited. Even if you haven't built your guest list yet, manage expectations by telling them "We're aiming for X month, just a small, intimate celebration." That way, you're covered if you can't invite them, but if you discover later that you can, they'll feel extra special.

2. Decide on budget and venue
These are two hard and fast factors that decide your target number. The average indoor venue will hold around 200 people.

3. Create your dream list
Sit down with your fiancé and write down everyone you can think of: immediate and extended family; close friends, friends from high school, college, work, church, clubs, organizations; old family friends and neighbors. Then give yourselves a few days to think of any you've forgotten.

4. Divide and narrow your list
Split the list into categories – definite invites like family and close friends go on your A-list, hopeful invites like distant cousins and acquaintances go on your B-list. Need help narrowing that A-list down to the limit? Try cutting:

5. Sit down with your parents and in-laws
Explain your guest limit based on budget and venue. Then, show them both the A- and B-lists you and your fiancé have built. Typically, 10-30 percent of invitees will decline, so you have some wiggle room. If your guest limit is 200, you can safely invite about 40 more people. Split that number evenly between both sets of parents and ask them who else they would most like to invite, from the B-list or otherwise.

6. Determine which guests you know won't attend
Chances are, there are a few friends or relatives who warrant invitations but who, due to age, health or location, definitely can't attend. Invite as many of these as you like.

7. If you don't know them, don't invite them
Your parents or in-laws may want to invite some of their own friends – people you and your groom don't know well. Be firm about your number limits; make it clear they'll have to cough up the cash for the additional catering (and possibly a bigger venue) themselves if they want to invite more people (but phrase it more politely).

8. Send your save the dates
Send save-the-date cards to your A-list about six months before the wedding – eight months for a destination wedding.

9. Send your invitations
Send invitations two months before the wedding:

10. Send the second round
If you receive more than your wiggle-room's worth of regretful declines, you can start sending invites to your B-list. So if your target number was 200, you invited 240, and you have received 50 declines, you can invite the top 10 people on your B-list. If time is getting short before the wedding, don't hesitate to call them.

Any other special tips you learned while building your list? Any issues you need advice on? Let us know in the comments!

11 Tips to Help You Choose the Perfect Wedding Dress

wedding dress

Image by Steve A. Johnson

Choosing your gown is probably the most fun part of the entire planning experience. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect one.

1. Establish your budget

If you're planning on a budget, set the cost of your dress before shopping. Initial prices range from a mere $100 to well in the thousands – and keep in mind alterations usually cost extra on top of the dress price.

2. Allow plenty of time

Between shopping around, trying dresses on, making a decision, ordering the dress from the designer, and having it altered over a series of two to three fittings, allow yourself six to eight months total for getting your dress.

3. Do your research

Do your research beforehand. Look through wedding blogs or wedding dress websites to narrow down what you like. Some basic questions to consider:

4. Call ahead

Make an appointment at a few bridal salons. When you call to make the appointment, don't be afraid to tell them what your budget is and ask if they have gowns that will fit within your budget. Don't tempt yourself by going to a place that does not cater to your budget.

5. Only bring a few people with you

The bigger the group, the more opinions you'll have to sift through. Instead, pick one to three people who are close to you and whose style opinions you trust – like your mother, sister or best friend.

6. Speak up

Value the expertise of the salespeople, but don't let them push you around. Be upfront about what you're looking for, and be candid if you don't like something.

7. Keep an open mind

Even though you should start with an idea of what you want, don't be afraid to try on something a little different. Even something that doesn't look good on the hanger may look amazing on you.

8. Test the dress

You'll be wearing this dress for several hours – will you feel comfortable and beautiful the entire time? Try sitting down, standing back up and dancing in the dress. Is it too heavy, restricting or revealing? Ask your saleswoman if these problems can be resolved during alteration. If not, opt for something else.

9. Don't make hasty decisions

Use your phone to take pictures of each dress you try on for review later, and never make same-day decisions. Get at least one good night's sleep before you settle on a dress.

10. Find ways to save

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a dress you'll only wear once. Shop off-season sample sales (call the boutique to find out when they are) or at a chain boutique – or choose a pre-owned dress to rent, borrow or buy.

11. Make time for accessories

Include time during your fittings to choose accessories – or schedule a separate appointment. Schedule it right after your pre-wedding hairdresser appointment so you know how the accessories – especially a veil – will look with your wedding hairdo. Need more help? Read our 9 tips on choosing the perfect wedding jewelry.

Tell us what your ideal wedding style would look like, budget aside. Show off what you found! Share a bridal photo on our Facebook page.

6 steps for choosing – and managing – your wedding party

Wedding Bridal Party

Image by Brooke Anderson

Choosing the people who will stand at the altar with you can be difficult. You want everyone to share your special day, but you're also on a budget – and you need to depend on these people to be calm and supportive when you start to panic under pressure.

Here are a few tips to help you manage it all.

1. How to choose your flower girl and ring bearer

Choose relatives' or friends' children, age four or older, who are neither too shy nor too rambunctious. Let younger children sit down with their parents after the procession so they don't have to stand through the entire ceremony.

Be savvy: You don't have to have a flower girl and ring bearer. The best man can always keep the rings, and a procession of bridesmaids will be quite enough.

2. How to choose your bridesmaids

Between sisters, future sisters-in-law, cousins, old friends and new friends, there are dozens of women you could ask to be bridesmaids. Narrow down your list by asking yourself: is this person passing through your life or will they still be important to you 10 years from now? If so, that's a lifelong friend who belongs in your party. But if your list is still too long, limit it to immediate family. Friends will understand.

Be savvy: Don't freak out if your fiancé chooses fewer – or more – attendants than you do. A groomsmen can always walk out with two bridesmaids on his arm, or vice versa.

3. When the bridesmaid slots run out

For the friends you just can't fit in as bridesmaids, consider alternate roles for them – like as a reader during the ceremony or the DJ at the reception. Or you could organize a house party; a group of friends who will help plan the bridal shower, put up decorations, etc. They get the church and reception hall ready while your bridesmaids are helping you get ready.

Be savvy: While the house party won't wear bridesmaid's dresses or stand at the altar with you, you should invite them to pre-wedding events, give them corsages at the wedding, and thank them publically at the reception.

4. How to ask your bridesmaids and house party

Let them know how much you want them to be involved, but be upfront about what you expect from them in terms of time and expense: buying dresses, paying for airfare and hotel rooms, planning showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties, running errands, etc.

Be savvy: Phrase the question in a way that allows them to politely decline, if necessary; "I would love to have you as a bridesmaid, but I know your schedule is really hectic, and that I'm asking a lot. Would you be able to do it?"

5. How to choose the dresses

There's a logical reason for the ugly bridesmaid dress cliché: it's next to impossible to find one style and color that looks good on multiple women. So…

Be savvy: Take cost into consideration – Be aware of any friends in financial difficulty. Choose an affordable dress, and if necessary, privately offer to help pay for it.

6. How to thank your wedding party

Keep in mind everything they are doing for you, and let them know how important they are to you every step of the way. You don't have to get gifts for your wedding party, but it's a definite plus. Thank you notes are a must. Taking them out to a thank-you lunch is even better.

Be savvy: If you hold the thank-you lunch before the wedding, when you first ask them to be in in the party, you can use that time explain who is doing what, when, etc.

Tell us about your wedding party; how many in your wedding party, what are they wearing and what advice do you have?

Share some pictures on our Facebook page!

Bridal 101 – The Basics

13% of weddings take place in June, making it the second most popular month for weddings. So, in the spirit of summer weddings, we felt it beneficial to provide some basic tips for planning a wedding and all the moving pieces involved – something we'd like to call Bridal 101. Below are the top 10 things you should focus on first.

  1. Start A Planning Checklist
    Whether you're using one of the wedding websites, a planning book, or building your own, you'll need to create a checklist specific to you – one that will allow you to add and remove steps and events that are ever-changing.
  2. Establish Your Wedding Budget
    This can be tricky and somewhat stressful. You just need to establish who's paying for what, how much you need for the wedding you want, and how much you must save out of your monthly income. Of course, the longer the engagement, the more time to save.
  3. Choose Your Date
    It's a good rule of thumb to wait approximately one year to allow time to decide on a dress, a reception site, and all the other details. There are many different reasons to pick your specific date – season, price, symbolism – as there is one perfect day for everyone. Discuss with your soon-to-be spouse and pick a date that is both sensible and personal. One that suits you both.
  4. Start Creating Your Guest List
    Since the majority of your wedding planning will be based on how many people you plan to invite, it is a good idea to get a grasp on the number early. Keep it electronically so it's easy to filter. There are tons of guest list organizers on the web to choose from! Check out sites like WeddingWire.com and TheKnot.com for templates.
  5. Interview Potential Wedding Planners
    Wedding planners are usually worth the money you invest. They're there to coordinate the details, answer questions and combat family drama. If nothing else, they'll help relieve some of the stress on your big day, leaving you to just relax and enjoy it.
  6. Research & Visit Wedding / Reception Sites
    Whether you have a venue in mind or are starting from scratch, research online and keep your budget in mind. Even if you cannot afford one of the more extravagant hotel or reception halls, with the right design and décor, any location can be transformed into the wedding venue of your dreams.
  7. Research photographers
    Each wedding photographer brings their own something special to the table. Make sure your vision of the perfect wedding portfolio matches theirs. Never again will you be photographed so much; so make sure they're a perfect fit.
  8. Start Your Registry
    What's your style – are you a chef, entertainer, renovator or a little bit of everything? Determine what suits your style as a couple and register accordingly. There are tons of registry sites eager to help you narrow down your selection. Visit Brides.com or TheWeddingSource.com for registry templates.
  9. Choose Your Bridal Party
    Although it's not set in stone, the basic rule of thumb is to have one bridesmaid and one groomsman for every 50 guests. So, if planning a small, less-formal gathering, opt for the smaller bridal party. More isn't always best.
  10. Select Your Wedding Colors
    Decide on your wedding style. Whether you're having a formal affair or beach gathering, the scene you choose will have a lot to do with the wedding colors you choose.

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Use these 10 simple tips as a starting point and coordinate from here. This should be a joyous occasion, not a painful one. So, go forth, make decisions, and celebrate!

9 Signs It’s Time to Propose



Image by keizie

What happens when things get serious? How do you know when it's time to take the next big step and commit to this person forever? Here are a few signs to look for before you pop the question (or start dropping hints for him to ask).

  1. You've known each other for a couple of years, at least.

    Even if it was love at first site, wait awhile. Get over that early-relationship excitement before you make any big decisions – after all, falling in love is like being drunk: your judgment is not exactly sound. Make sure you know the other person better than anyone else knows them.
  2. You've met each other's friends and family – and you get along with them.

    If several of your close friends or family members have serious objections to the relationship, slow down and consider why. Remember that love is blind, and sometimes the people close to us know us better than we do.
  3. You're going in the same direction.

    Make sure you both know what the other person wants in life, and that those goals are harmonious. If you plan to travel the world, but they never want to leave the house, there may be some problems.
  4. You've talked about your future together.

    If you've talked about major life decisions together – like where you'll buy a house or how many kids you'll have – that's a sign it's time to go to the next level.
  5. You've reconciled any political or religious differences.

    Voting for different candidates or going to different churches doesn't mean you're incompatible, but you'll have to do more than avoid the subject to make your marriage work – especially when it comes down to kids. If you plan to start a family, you also need to plan how you'll explain your convictions (and differences) to your kids.
  6. You're in a good place in life for marriage.

    You may want to wait until you graduate college or get a certain promotion at work. Don't wait forever – because conditions will never be perfect – but make sure you'll have the time and money to take care of a spouse.
  7. You're open about your finances.

    You should be open with each other about any debts or major expenses. If you're still paying off a student loan, or you spend a few hundred dollars every month to support your video game habit, your partner needs to know about it.
  8. You know about the skeletons in each other's closets.

    You should know about all of each other's major life struggles and past serious relationships (especially previous marriages or engagements) – so there are no ugly surprises a few years down the road.
  9. You are best friends.

    The romantic, newlywed feelings will eventually wear off if that's all that's between you. But, if you know each other better than anyone else does and you still enjoy doing everyday things together – even without being romantic – the forecast looks good for a lifetime of happiness together.

Now that you've decided to pop the question – how do you choose the right ring? Check out our engagement ring tips here.

7 Tips for Great First Date Conversations



Image by Christopher Cornelius

First dates are right up there with high school reunions for uncomfortable-ness. The pressure. The unfamiliarity. The awkward silences. Your sudden inability to say anything clever. Fail to get a conversation going, and you can ruin a potentially great relationship – so better go in armed with these chit-chat pointers.

  1. The preliminaries

    Choose an activity that encourages conversation (not a movie) and that's not too intimidating (not an expensive restaurant). Meet for coffee or drinks, grab some pizza and go bowling, or get ice cream after a round of mini golf. Let the other person know what you're planning (or ask them what they're planning) so you both know what to wear and what to expect.
  2. Compliment them, but not excessively

    Two or three compliments in one night are plenty – otherwise you may seem too eager to please. Make sure at least one of these compliments is not related to their appearance. Compliment them on something they said, did or talked about.
  3. Have some conversation starters in mind

    Ask the other person questions that require more than a one-word answer, like how they got into their line of work, or what they do for fun. Ask about the highs and lows of their week. Ask their opinion of random, non-controversial beliefs, like whether they agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  4. Be a good listener

    Listen for things you have in common. If you don't find much in common, use the opportunity to ask them for their unique perspective on something. Ask them to explain something you don't know much about, or to help you understand an opinion that differs from your own. Don't let your eyes wander while they're talking.
  5. Turn off your cell phone

    There are few things more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone who is checking their phone every few minutes.
  6. Don't talk about yourself too much

    This is a date, not a therapy session: don't pour out your whole tearful life story.

    Be open, but don't talk about your medical problems or your exes. If you're telling a funny, anecdotal story – like what happened to you at the laundromat last week – keep it short (that's the point of an anecdote). Then, move the conversation forward by asking them something about themselves.
  7. Mirror the other person's body language

    When two people get along really well, they'll often unconsciously mirror each other's body language, folding their arms at the same time, or putting the same elbow on the table. You can help your date feel more comfortable by purposely mirroring some of their body language – like leaning forward when they lean forward.

How did your first date go? Let us know in the comments! Need a great idea for the second date? Check out a few unforgettable date ideas here.

9 of the Best Vegas Shows on Any Budget

Coming to Las Vegas and not seeing a few shows is like going shopping without trying anything on. So take it from us – jewelry experts and Las Vegas residents – these entertainment deals are the perfect way to finish off a day on the Strip (after you've been to National Jewelry Liquidation Center, of course).

Under $120


Celine Dion at Caesars Palace
Starting at $117

Celine Dion is back, with a 31-piece orchestra helping her perform her greatest hits, as well as covers of some of her favorite artists, including Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald. Runs June – August 2012.

Donnie & Marie at the Flamingo
Starting at $108.12

Even if you're not familiar with Donny & Marie, this show will soon turn you into a fan. The brother-sister duo is incredibly talented, funny and all-around entertaining.

Blue Man Group at the Venetian
Starting at $101.85

Three silent blue-faced men combine humor, music and theatrics to create an unforgettable interactive experience that appeals to people from all backgrounds and languages. Runs through September 2012.

Under $85


Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular at the Venetian
Starting at $81

The music you love from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, plus pyrotechnics, an elaborate $40 million theater and a Broadway-caliber cast. Runs through August 2012.

Criss Angel "Believe" with Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor
Starting at $73.85

Combine Criss Angel's brain-bending illusions made famous in his A&E show "MindFreak," with the visually-stunning theatricality of Cirque du Soleil, and you might just walk away believing in magic.

Mystère Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island
Starting at $69.73

Possibly the best Cirque du Soleil price you can find, Mystère is also the longest-running Cirque show in Vegas. The show explores the origins of the universe with a combination of beauty, humor and mind-blowing acrobatics.

Under $60


Penn & Teller at the Rio
Starting at $56.48

First, they get you thinking by showing you the secrets behind some popular illusions. Then, they put you in awe by performing a trick you can't possibly explain. They'll also keep you laughing the whole time.

V – The Ultimate Variety Show at Planet Hollywood
Starting at $44.99

Music, acrobatics, magic, impersonation, comedy – it's all in V, and it's all entertaining. Hilarious host (and fastest juggler in the world) Wally Eastwood pulls it all together.

Recycled Percussion at the Tropicana
Starting at $44

These guys started at a high school talent show, went on to place third on NBC's "America's Got Talent," and have now brought their loud – but very entertaining – act to Vegas. From buckets to power tools, with plenty of acrobatics thrown in, Recycled Percussion's "junk rock" is sure to get your head banging. Runs through June 2012.

9 Best Wine and Dine Deals in Vegas

We're not just your jewelry insiders – we're your Las Vegas insiders, too. Here are some of your National Jewelry Liquidation Center experts' favorite deal-icious places to grab a bite or sip a cocktail.

Tracie's Faves

Vintner Grill

Tracie loves how Vintner Grill's unique architecture and modern décor creates the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a few drinks. The menu changes daily – to offer the best seasonal foods and to keep chef-owner Matt Silverman's creative juices flowing – and features American dishes with Mediterranean flavors. The Summerlin location offers high class dining for lower prices than you'll find on the Strip. And yes, there are happy hour deals.

Yelp reviews

 

Bachi Burger

Bachi Burger, on the south side of town, puts a great, Asian-inspired hibachi spin on the American tradition of burgers and milkshakes. Tracie appreciates its low-key, casual atmosphere, combined with its unique gourmet cuisine at incredibly reasonable prices.

Yelp reviews

 

Ernie's Faves

Mon Ami Gabi

At this classic French bistro located in the Paris Hotel, food, wine and culture is the daily creed. The chef and owner, Gabino Sotelino, keeps up a menu of old favorites as well as new tastes. Ernie recommends their brunch menu, featuring eggs Benedict, French toast with blueberries, a variety of coffee choices and more.

Yelp reviews

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

Ernie also loves the way Iron Chef Bobby Flay marries the flavors of the Southwest with his love of grilling in this desert version of the New York City favorite. Located in the bustling Caesar's Palace, Mesa Grill features a menu full of unique dishes, from rough cut tuna nachos and tiger shrimp with roasted garlic corn tamales to the grilled swordfish club and coffee rubbed filet mignon.



Yelp reviews

 

Tanya's Fave

Jaleo

Jaleo, at the Cosmopolitan, is a tapas bar by Jose Andres, who has been credited with introducing tapas cuisine to America. The menu also offers paellas, sangrias, wines and sherries. Tanya warns it's a bit pricey, but says the experience is totally worth it. From croquetas de pollo served in a shoe, to delicious lobster paella and an unforgettable flan, Jaleo will satisfy your every craving.

Yelp reviews



Raul's Fave

Steiner's Pub

A true sports fan, Raul loves Steiner's for both its food and its atmosphere. Half old-fashioned pub, half hi-def sports bar, Steiner's serves sophisticated American comfort food 24 hours a day – from their Kobe (not Bryant) burger to their award-winning sirloin black bean chili. Steiner's offers happy hour specials, including a menu full of $3-6-9 appetizers, as well as 1 – 7 a.m. graveyard specials, with $2 draft beers and more.

Yelp reviews

 

Jerry's Faves

T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge

T-Bones at Red Rock Casino offers the best steak in Vegas, according to Jerry – and the 2011 Las Vegas Review Journal agrees. Their happy hour "T-Time" menu includes appetizers, beers, wines and spirits starting at just $5. The giant roaring fireplace and outdoor bar make for a larger-than-life atmosphere that perfectly complements the quality of the food.

Yelp reviews

Feast Buffet

Vegas just wouldn't be Vegas without the buffets, and the Feast is one of Sin City's best. Jerry likes this Red Rock Casino gem because it's far less touristy and less pricey since it's off the Strip. In fact, Feast prices start as low as $4.99 (if you have a boarding pass card). Six live cooking stations turn out everything from sushi to barbeque while you watch. There's also a huge, ever-fresh salad bar, an endless selection of desserts (including multiple gelato flavors), and a full bar (for a little extra).

Yelp reviews

Promenade Cafe

Jerry's third pick, the Promenade Café at Rampart Casino, offers great food at very reasonable prices 24 hours a day. Their best deal is probably the Sizzling Three-Course Special; appetizer, entrée, desert and soft drink for $9.99 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day – though their late night menu is a definite competitor.

Urban Spoon reviews

9 Easy Tips for Picking the Perfect Wedding Jewelry

You've got your dress all picked out and it's time to accessorize! Here are a few surefire tips that will make choosing wedding jewelry easy.

1. Choose metal based on dress color

If your dress is pure white, go for silver, platinum or white gold. For Champagne or off-white fabric, choose yellow or rose gold. You can wear either color with a dress that's just slightly off-white.

2. Choose jewels based on bodice detail

If your bodice is extra elaborate, go for simpler jewelry. Match jewel type to the detailing on the bodice – for instance, pearls to match beading, or diamonds to match sequins or crystals.

3. Choose shape based on neckline

Chokers look great with strapless dresses; pendant necklaces accent V-necks or sweetheart cuts beautifully; and for a high neckline, you can skip the necklace and choose bolder earrings.

4. Complement your wedding and engagement rings

It doesn't have to be a perfect match, but be sure the metals don't clash.

Be savvy – have your wedding rings sized well in advance of the ceremony.

5. Consider wearing family jewelry

For that "something old" or "something borrowed," your grandmother's pearls or mother's diamond studs can add a touch of sentiment to your ensemble.

6. Beware of bracelets

The last thing you want is for your tennis bracelet to snag or scratch that delicate fabric. Be sure the bracelet is free of sharp points before you decide to wear it.

7. Tone down if wearing a tiara

If you opt for a tiara or other elaborate headpiece, go for a simpler necklace, or skip it altogether.

8. Consider the time of your wedding

Your dress and jewelry should reflect the formality of the occasion. Morning or early afternoon weddings are less formal, so go with simpler jewelry. But for late afternoon or evening weddings, feel free to dress it up!

9. Try on all jewelry with your dress

All rules aside, the most important thing is that you love the look. Bring several jewelry options with you to your dress fitting, and style your hair as you will on your wedding day (it doesn't have to be exact; just be sure the shape is the same). Experiment and have fun!

Be savvy – be sure any new jewelry you buy has a reasonable return policy – in case at the fitting you decide it's not quite right (National Jewelry Liquidation Center has a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee).

Be sure to check out our post on how to choose earrings based on face shape and hairstyle.

What jewelry did you choose for your wedding? Send us a picture!

 

Photo by Meagan Jean

10 Unforgettable Date Ideas

Dating is about having fun and getting to know each other. And let's face it, no matter how many amazing restaurants you try, dinner and a movie gets old. It's time to get creative, reconnect with your inner child and find your sense of adventure.

1. Live show

Go listen to a local band, find a comedy club or dress up for the theater. There's something about being in the same room with the performers that makes the experience more interesting. Even open mic night at a coffee shop can be fun.

2. Wine tasting

This one's high class and fun. For a small charge, you can take a tour at a winery, brewery or distillery, learn the craft and try some samples.

3. Kite flying

There's something both innocent and romantic about kites. Find kite-making instructions online [http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Kite-Out-of-a-Plastic-Bag] or buy some ready-made at a toy store, then head to a nearby field and see how long you can keep your kites in the air.

4. Stargazing

Drive out into the country with a blanket, a telescope and a thermos full of hot chocolate and find constellations together. The local planetarium can be pretty romantic too.

5. Take a class

Sign up for a fun class at your local library, museum or community college—like pottery, cooking or film appreciation. You'll get to know each other, get more connected to the community and maybe even find a new hobby.

6. Geocaching

Geocaching is a real-life, modern-day treasure hunt. You get coordinates online at a site like geocaching.com, [http://www.geocaching.com/] use a GPS to find the spot, then look around until you find the cache. Inside there'll be a logbook to sign. There are often small items for trade—take one item with you as a souvenir and leave another for the next person.

7. Local sightseeing

You may have lived in the same town for years and never visited half the attractions it's famous for, so check out the visitor's bureau website and plan out a touristy weekend itinerary. For extra laughs, buy disposable cameras, fake some foreign accents and tell everybody you're from some made-up country.

8. Booklovers' dream

This is a great one for getting to know each other. Go to a bookstore (preferably one with a coffee shop), split up and each find your three favorite books. Meet in the coffee shop and tell each other why you love each book and read your favorite excerpts. Make it more fun by throwing in a book you hated, and see if the other person can guess which one it is.

9. Video scavenger hunt

This one works best with two or more couples. Create a list of 10 goofy activities to do, like trying on hats at a clothing store, interviewing a stranger about American history, doing the Macarena in a self-serve car wash—the sillier the better. (Here are some ideas to help you start your list) [http://www.videojester.com/video-scavenger-hunt-lists.html] Each couple drives off with a video camera (smart phones work fine) and has to film themselves completing each item on the list. Last couple back has to buy dinner for the winning couple.

10. Restaurant roulette

A twist on the usual dinner date. Write ten or twenty different restaurants on slips of paper and throw them into a hat. Draw one restaurant and go there for drinks. Draw a second for appetizers, a third for the main course and a fourth for dessert.

What was your best date ever? Tell us about it.

10 Foolproof Valentine's Day Gifts for Guys

Flowers. Chocolates. Diamonds, of course. Classic Valentine's Day gifts are all great for us girls—but what are we supposed to get the guys? Somehow, I don't think he appreciated last year's his-and-hers coffee mugs quite as much as you did.

Here are some Valentine's gift ideas your man is sure to love.

 

 

Cook him dinner

The way to man's heart is through his stomach, right? Cook him a hearty meal like steak or meatloaf, with pretty much any kind of potatoes and lots of gravy.

Check out these healthy comfort food recipes men love.

You can even make the meal extra-special with a personalized steak branding iron.

 

Take him to a game

Tickets to see his favorite sports team or his favorite band mean you're not just giving him a gift—you're giving him a memory.

 

Buy him a drink

Buy him some liquor he might not normally spring for on his own; something manly like whiskey, scotch or tequila.

Add in some Grand Marnier and limes and make your own margaritas.

Some whiskey stones will ensure his drinks will never be watered down.

A beer connoisseur will love the Beer of the Month Club.

 

Cufflinks, rings or a Rolex

You can't go wrong with the classic gift of some simple, masculine jewelry—whether it's cufflinks, a ring, or one of these winners:

A Rolex is not just a watch—it's a lifetime of bragging rights. Yes you can afford a real one.

Give all his watches a home with a monogrammed watch box:

Give his favorite cufflinks the respect they deserve with a cufflink box.

 

Define his space

Personalize his garage, workshop or man-cave with a totally customizable, retro shop sign.

 
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