Make Your Wedding Day Go Smoothly

Few things go as planned on the morning of the wedding. Don’t attempt too much.
Hair and make-up always takes much longer than planned. Allow extra time.
Eliminate variables, like traveling long distances. Get ready as close to the ceremony location as possible. I always suggest a place no more than 10 minutes away.
Take the pressure off of yourself, give your bridesmaids or friends jobs to do. Even go so far as to appoint a trusted friend, who has the same taste as you, to make decisions during the course of the day. Have the florist or caterer talk with your friend, so you can stay cool and unfazed.
Decide whether you’ll do formal portraits before (bride anxious, groom relaxed) or after (bride relaxed, groom anxious) the ceremony. It’s a trade-off. Portraits should be done in a spot not visible by guests. The pictures will go very quickly, if you limit the possible distractions.
Don’t hesitate to find the photographer during the party to shoot favorite people or meaningful groups in candid situations.

Trends in Album Design

Just a few years ago, a recently married couple would expect their wedding album to be a collection of single images, one 10×10 on a page, followed by another 10×10. The leather-bound book would be a very serious depiction of the affair.

What a difference a few years make.

What led to the change? First, there was the advent of 35mm photography, which increased the number of shots on a roll of film from only 12 to 36. Recently digital photography has increased the number of photos further. Then there came the new trend in photography we know today as the “photojournalistic style.” With more emphasis on candid and spontaneous moments and a de-emphasis on static portraiture, there has been an explosion of images.

With these new elements in the wedding photography mix, the whole way of styling wedding albums has undergone an enormous transformation. Taking their cues from the world of magazine and graphic design, photographers began creating books that express the same level of creativity as the photography itself. Photographer-designers now use multiple images on a page and include pictures that are floating over other pictures, ripped, chopped, turned to sepia or blue, blown-up into giant panoramas, half-panoramas, or even mock-panoramas.

Things can get a little complicated, and it’s good for a newly married couple to have some familiarity with the different types of wedding albums before they begin the daunting but extremely pleasurable task of working with their photographer to create their own unique document. Here is a brief description of some of the options:

The Slip-in album contains photographs that are taped behind a thin paper matte, and this combination of photo and matte is then slipped into a page. The page itself may be slipped into an album or permanently bound into an album.

Matted Albums: A Matted or Reversible album has photographs permanently pressure-glued on a page and surrounded by a matte. With the surface of the picture slightly below the surface of the matte, the pictures on facing pages never touch each other. A page can have one matted opening or four openings. It is called “reversible” because the same page can handle either a vertical or horizontal picture.

Digital or Coffee Table Albums: The latest designs bring together elements from the flush and reversible books, combined with graphic design techniques from the publishing world. The result has been books with many more pictures per page and details that were previously unavailable to the wedding public. A single image can seem cast a shadow over another picture. Now a series of photographs of dancing guests can be placed against a background made from a picture of the bride’s bouquet. A page can be carefully laid out with scores of small pictures that look as if they were thrown onto the page. The photographs may sit in a matte or be flush to the edge of the traditional thick wedding album page. Some albums are printed on thin book-type paper.

These many new design elements can add dramatically to an album’s ability to tell a story. The best albums contain surprises… the right amount of surprises. Here is an important rule: A wedding album should not be overly designed. It is tempting to throw every technique into it. But instead of being a beautiful storybook with carefully planned out surprises at just the right moments, an overly done album crammed with one dramatic effect after another dilutes the visual impact of each effect. This is where good taste and artfulness come into play. The sequence of pictures in a book must have the right tempo. Balance is essential. A series of simple, dignified pages sets up a more elaborate “surprise” page. An album with a surprise on every page lacks subtlety and has no sense of timing; it is like a musical piece in which every note is played super loud. Working with the couple, the photographer lets the photographs inspire him or her to create a book that presents all the moods, the rituals, the action, and the faces in an exciting, artistic representation of the wedding.

The goal in designing a great wedding album is to create a document — a family heirloom really — that artfully tells the story of an amazing day in the life of a couple.

Submit Your Photograph to The New York Times

Send in requests for weddings or commitment announcements at least six weeks before the event. Although they sometimes consider submissions received after that deadline, they give preference to those received first.

The Times does not charge for publishing these news articles — but space is limited, and they cannot guarantee publication.

We suggest that you send in your announcement in the form of an announcement that has already appeared in the Sunday Styles Section of the New York Times. So, use the Sunday Times as a guide.

Make sure that the following information is included somewhere in your submission.
(Your request must be typewritten.):

Your Information

  • Full names of couple
  • Date of the event
  • Approximate time of day
  • Address of each
  • Occupations of each
  • Schooling of each
  • Daytime phone
  • Evening phone
  • Cellphone

Submissions without telephone numbers will not be considered.
The Times will call you if they will publish your announcement.
They also need to fact check all the information you have provided.

In addition,

  • Noteworthy awards
  • Charitable activities
  • Special achievements
  • How the couple met (a good meeting story is a plus)

Parents’ Information

  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ residences
  • Parents’ occupations

Please include this information even if the parents are no longer living.

  • Parents’ Daytime phone
  • Parents’ Evening phone
  • Parents’ Cellphone

Officiant Information

  • Name of the Officiant who will sign the official certificate of marriage or civil union.
  • Officiant’s exact title and affiliation.
  • For an interfaith event, include the names and affiliations of any other officiants who will participate.
  • Officiant’s office phone


  • State the exact location of the event.


  • Portraits may be of the couple, or of the individual bride. They may be formal or informal, in-studio, at home, or outdoors. You should be neatly dressed, and images should be of professional quality. 5×7 or 8×10, black & white or color.
  • Couples should arrange themselves with their eyebrows on exactly the same level and with their heads fairly close together.
  • On the back of the photo. write:
    • name of the couple
    • date of the event
    • name of the photographer who took the picture
  • Photographs altered in any fashion are not accepted.
  • Pictures cannot be returned.

If necessary, photographs can be submitted under separate cover, but they should be delivered to The Times, at the address given below, at least 10 days before the date of the event. Please note that while pictures may be sent by regular mail, recent events have dramatically slowed delivery. To ensure that your photo reaches us on time, they suggest sending it by overnight delivery or messenger service.

Where to Send the Information

By e-mail:

By fax: 212-556-7689. (Fax users will not receive confirmation of delivery.)

By mail or overnight courier: Society News, 5th floor, The New York Times, 229 West 43d Street, N.Y. 10036. (If you would like to verify receipt of your submission, please also include a stamped, self-addressed postcard with your mailing.)

Again, please note that They cannot guarantee publication. If your announcement is selected, you will be telephoned by a member of our staff a few weeks before the event.

If questions remain, you may telephone the Society News desk at (212)-556-7321. Because of the volume of requests, they may not be able to reply immediately.

Invitation Basics

The best invitations are engraved on paper made from cotton. Paper has been made from cotton for nearly two thousand years. (Wood pulp has only been used since the late 1800s.) Paper made from 100% cotton fiber will give your wedding invitations a soft, rich feel. When you are at your stationer selecting your invitations, feel the papers. You will be able to tell the difference. Unlike wood-pulp papers, cotton-fibers do not decompose, so your invitations will last forever as keepsakes.

Your invitations can be engraved on either ecru (off-white) or white paper. Ecru is much more popular in the United States, but white is the color of choice in Europe. You should choose a relatively heavy paper. Better wedding papers are usually 40-pound papers. The weight of a paper is determined by the weight of a ream (500 sheets) of that paper cut to a standard size.

Wedding papers can be either plain or paneled. A paneled invitation has a blind embossed border. As a general rule, script lettering styles look better on an invitation without a panel. The extra space allows these calligraphic styles to spread across the page in all their glory. Print styles are usually tighter than script styles and generally look better inside a panel. The panel focuses your eye on the engraving.

Tuxedo Basics

by Alan Flusser
Edited by Phil Cantor

For a man, no other form of dress is as steeped in such a ritualistic sense of propriety as formal wear. There is something so elegant about the simplicity of black and white, with its stark contrast and lack of pattern, that when the elements are properly put together, present a man at his most debonair. After dark or 6pm — whichever arrives first — there are two ensembles that can properly be called formal: white tie, which means tails, or black tie, better known as the tuxedo. The more formal of these ensembles is white tie, which includes a tailcoat with matching trousers trimmed by two lines of braid on the outside of each trouser leg, a white tie, single or double-breasted waistcoat, and wing-collar shirt with pleated front.

There are four proper styles for the tuxedo: the single- or double-breasted with a peaked lapel with grosgrain facing on the lapel, or the single- or double-breasted shawl collar with either satin or grosgrain on the lapel facings. These are the only proper choices. The most versatile jacket style is the single-breasted, peaked-lapel model. It was the original black-tie model, the direct descendant of the tailcoat, and its angular lapels look best with a wing collar, the tailcoat’s original complement. It can be worn with a vest or cummerbund, and even with a turndown collar. Peaked lapels look equally elegant on the double-breasted version of this coat.

The double-breasted model offers the advantage of allowing the wearer to dispense with a vest or cummerbund. The shawl collar model, either single-breasted or double-breasted, has a subtler look than the peaked-lapel models. Because of its Old-World image and the fact that it is a jacket style worn only for evening wear, it is especially factored by the most sophisticated dressers. However, if one’s build is on the portly or rotund side, one might want to avoid the shawl collar, as it tends to accentuate the roundness. Both single- and double-breasted jackets are at their best either without vents or with moderate side vents. Whichever style one chooses, the pockets should never be in the flap style, which is traditionally associated with day wear. The color should be black or, if one is lucky enough to unearth one in this color, midnight blue, in a finished or unfinished worsted. In summer or at a resort, a white or midnight-blue dinner jacket in a tropical-weight worsted is always correct.


Tuxedo trousers follow rules identical with those applying to day wear. Made of the same fabric as the jacket, they should have a natural taper, following the shape of one’s leg. The bottoms should be plain-never cuffed-and break just on top of the shoe. On each trouser leg, there should be a satin braid, a remnant of detail first introduced on military uniforms to cover the exposed outside seam. White plain-front trousers are more common, pleated trousers add a touch of elegance. If one chooses pleats, be certain that their folds open toward the center for proper fullness. In either case, the waistband must never be exposed. It is the job of the vest, the pleated cummerbund, or the closed double- breasted jacket to keep it hidden.

The Shirt

There are two proper shirt styles from which to choose. The more formal is a white winged-collar shirt with pleats, and single cuffs. The second choice, less formal but decidedly more comfortable, is the turndown collar shirt with soft-pleated front and double French cuffs — yet another sartorial contribution of the Duke of Windsor.

A couple of fine points to remember: the pleated front of the shirt should never extend below the waistband of the trousers, or the shirt will bow when you sit down or bend over. Ideally, your shirt should have eyelets for studs, since buttons are properly worn for day wear. Pleated-front shirts take one or two eyelets, while soft fronts require two or three.

Vests and Cummerbunds

Formal dressing demands that the waistband of the trousers never be exposed. For this reason, a formal vest or cummerbund is always worn. The formal vest, though also a descendant of the nineteenth-century English-postboy riding vest, differs considerably from the traditional business vest. It is cut with shawl lapels, either single- or double-breasted, and has a deep V front so as to display the special front of the formal shirt. The vest is normally made with three buttons, which can be replaced by studs. The traditional vest is in the same fabric as the dinner jacket. The pleated cummerbund, which usually matches the facings of the front of the coat, was originally a sash worn in India (from the Hindu kamarband) and was brought to the West by the British. The folds of the cummerbund should always point up because, traditionally, the cummerbund had a small pocket between the folds fashioned to hold opera or theater tickets.

The Necktie

The formal tie is, of course, a bow tie. If one is wearing a wing collar, the clip of the pre-tied will be well within view. Aesthetically, a hand-tied bow tie is always more elegant. The color should be black or midnight blue; the style, no larger than the medium-size butterfly or the narrower bat wing shape; the fabric should always be silk, in a twill, barathea, or satin weave. The texture of the tie should always relate to the facings on the lapels: satin for satin lapels, twill or barathea for grosgrain.


Formal wear requires a formal shoe. Again, there are two choices: The patent-leather oxford or the pump. The pump is a low-cut slip-on made of patent or matte-finish leather with a dull ribbed silk bow in front. The oxford is a plain-toe lace-up shoe made with thin soles and a small toe. The more elegant is the pump. While the oxford is clearly the more popular model today, because the pump is considered by many men to be effeminate, it is nevertheless the calf pump that is the choice of the more sophisticated dressers. A direct descendant of the opera pump, it can double as a stylish shoe for entertaining at home.


The choice of hose depends upon the color of one’s trousers. This means black or dark blue, with shell white or colored clocks, if available. Traditionally, the hose would be of sheer silk. Today semi-sheer lisle, cotton, or fine wool is acceptable.


Simplicity should govern the choice of jewelry for formal wear. Studs and matching cufflinks can be made of plain gold, black enamel, or semi-precious stone. Mother-of-pearl, also handsome, is perhaps more appropriate for white tie. Fine sets of studs and matching cufflinks can be found in antique shops that specialize in old jewelry (the most interesting examples are those made between 1890 and 1930). You might also look for a gold pocket watch and chain. If you choose to wear a wristwatch, remember that the thinner the watch, the more tasteful it is. Black bands are recommended.

Handkerchiefs, Scarves, and Flowers

A properly folded (points showing) white hand-rolled linen handkerchief in the breast pocket is de rigueur. Silk is not quite so elegant because it lacks the body of linen and thus the points go limp when folded. A white or colored silk scarf worn with the outercoat adds yet another touch of style, and a flower provides a dot of color.

The Outercoat

It is hardly mandatory in order to be considered well-dressed to have an outercoat specifically designed to be worn with formal or semi-formal wear, but if you decide to make the investment, the single-breasted, fly-front black or dark blue Chesterfield style with velvet collar is the proper complement to the rest of the outfit.

Interesting Options

The greatest modern dressers have always expressed their individuality by bending — though not breaking — the rules. This has been true even in formal wear. If your evening clothes are grounded in the classics, there is no reason you can’t add your own particular stamp.

If the whim strikes you, here are some possible interesting options you might try. For a winter alternative to the tuxedo jacket, there is the single-breasted shawl-collar velvet smoking jacket in garnet, navy, or green. For summer, there is the classic Bogart Casablanca white shawl-collar or the colonial tan shawl-collar in silk shantung, both correct in either the single- or double-breasted models. As for bottoms, there are burgundy or white wool trousers. For a different formal shirt, one might try a pleated front in ivory, blue, pink, or yellow in cotton or silk. The alternative vest choices include black silk, brocade, or satin. For an alternative to the staid black cummerbund, there is solid maroon silk or a fancy brocade.

Like the trousers and vest, the bow tie also lends itself well to expressions of personal creativity. As an accent to the black-and-white motif of the tuxedo, the colors of burgundy, deep red, and purple are the most traditional and most elegant. A small black-and-white pattern is also smart. If you choose a pattern, make certain that the bow tie is woven, not printed, as the latter is not formal enough. For hosiery, the options are more limited. Choose either burgundy to match the tie or cummerbund, or a medium gray cotton lisle.

As for footwear, monogrammed or motif-embroidered velvet slippers are elegant possibilities.

Best Man Toast Basics

Make sure you have your audience’s attention from the moment you stand up. It is disconcerting to try to talk to a group of people who are clearly not listening. Stand up and wait for silence. If necessary, tap a glass for attention before starting to speak. The way to hold someone’s attention is to look at them. You lose their attention if you keep staring down at the papers in your hand. Look around at the whole audience, those at the front, the left, the right, and the back.


Whether you have chosen to write out a full speech or to use comprehensive notes, the important job is to keep them handy and in a place you remember. The best man’s checklist should include “put speech in jacket pocket.” If you are nervous or accident-prone, give a second copy to one of the ushers or a friend.

Handwritten notes may be hard to read when you’re flustered, inebriated or reading in a dim light. It is also difficult to find your place in a speech after you have looked up at the audience. Print out the notes on the computer in a very large black type. Write out large headings so that you only need to glance at the heading to remind yourself what to say.

Flimsy paper will rattle if your hands are shaking. Use a card stock of paper for your notes. If you are using more than one page or card, be sure to number each page with a very large number in case they fall on the floor.

Where to Stand:

Ideally you will be able to stand ten feet from the bride and groom looking at the couple. This makes for the best photographs of the toast. Arrange with the band leader, DJ or maitre d’ beforehand for a microphone.

Glass of Wine:

Bring a glass of wine with you to the front of the room. You may want to have a sip to relax beforehand. But don’t get so silly that you giggle, especially at your own jokes.


You may not want to perform in a costume, but just the right prop, such as a funny hat or eyeglasses, can make the speech unusual.

What to Avoid:

Avoid distracting mannerisms such as jingling keys or coins in your pocket. Don’t twiddle your hair, pull your ears, scratch your face, or rub your nose. Avoid continuous coughing, nervous sniffing, and “er, um.”

Don’t clench your fists tensely, or get so enthusiastic that you wave your arms about and knock over the wine or the mother-in-law.

To cover a mistake or faux pas, don’t look disconcerted, but pretend to be pleased and that you had planned it.

Airline Discounts

One of the best aspects of weddings is the coming together of families and friends to celebrate your wedding day. However, inviting guests to your wedding from other parts of the country and, perhaps, from around the world presents its own set of problem. Cost is, of course, the biggest issue.

Though it is not well-known, many major airlines, hotels, and car rental companies offer discounts of 10 percent to groups of people traveling to one location. And, the travelers can start in many different cities and they can pay for their ticket individually or one person can pay for them all.

While each airline has its own rules, in general, to receive the discount, you must:

  • have a group of more than 10 people.
  • book a couple of months in advance.
  • have one destination (with one or more departure points).
  • arrive no more than 3 days before and return within 3 days after the event (though you can probably negotiate this to allow people to stay longer).
  • pay in advance.

In some cases, the airlines will throw in bonuses, such as free tickets for the bride and groom for each 20 tickets bought. In addition, with some creative phone calling, discounts can be arranged with some of the major hotel chains and car rental agencies.

American Airlines

800-221-2255,  American Airlines group discounts

Delta Air Lines

800-337-4777,  Delta Airlines group discounts

Southwest Airlines

800-433-5368, Southwest Airlines group discounts

United Airlines

800-426-1122, United Airlines group discounts










Design Your Wedding Album

It’s time to take these amazing photographs and make a book that is both visually pleasing and full of emotion. In other words, you want both poignancy and great faces. The album should make you smile, laugh, and cry. Every party is different, each has its own character and personality, and your album will tell that story.

The Couple’s job:

Edit your proofs to around 100 prints. These are the album proofs. Choose pictures that tell the story of your wedding day. The “getting ready” is a crucial part of the story: it establishes the family members and are filled with anxiety and hilarity. The ceremony is the basis for the whole wedding ritual. Pick pictures that capture how you felt while listening to the officiant. Be on the lookout for the little “uh-oh” and “oops” moments: the ring bearer running away, the best man searching frantically for the rings. When you get to the party shots, look for great faces, emotion, silliness, and action such as dancing. You’ll, of course, want pictures of the classic situations such as first dances, toasts, and cake-cutting. When you have two very similar photos, the studio will help you choose. You’ll be able to add extra pictures to those that come with your standard album.

The Photographer’s job:

Today we can easily put up to a dozen pictures on the page. A single picture on the page is quiet, dignified, and elegant. Adding more pictures per page increases the visual excitement and energy. Certain shots, like the ceremony or wide outdoor pictures, even lend themselves to two-page panoramas that will wow the viewer.

The picture story will be, more or less, in chronological order starting with the ‘getting ready’ activity, through the ceremony and party. We’ll take artistic license with the sequence of events so that the book flows well, while still keeping the general progression of the day. Portraits can be placed chronologically, or can all inserted at beginning of the album to establish whose book it is, or placed at the end to wrap up the album. In any event, you should end with a series of strong closing images, such as portraits or memorable end-of-the-evening shots. These can be looser, more fun, and sometimes even more poignant than the formal portraits.

Making Charity Part of Your Wedding

Looking for ways to incorporate charity into your wedding? Here are some popular ideas:

  • Hold your wedding reception at a venue where the usage fee will benefit the organization, such as a local park, historic home. or museum.
  • Donate your leftover wedding food to a food rescue service. Second Harvest will direct you to a local food bank in your area.
  • Donate leftover flowers or centerpieces to a local hospital, nursing home, or women’s shelter. They will really brighten someone else’s day. The Hospital Directory will help you find a local hospital, CareScout will direct you to local nursing homes based on distance from your zip code, and The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides state-by-state hotline numbers you can call to locate women’s shelters near you.
  • Instead of giving your guests favors, make donations in their honor. Place a small calligraphy-written card at each guest’s place setting, saying, “In your honor, (names of couple) have made a donation to (name of charity).” This makes a wonderful wedding keepsake for your guests.
  • You can also place cards like the ones mentioned above in your guest’s hotel rooms, in lieu of a welcome basket (most guests never eat all those snacks anyway!) It would be especially appropriate to have the cards indicate that you have made a donation to a hunger organization in your guest’s honor.
  • Are your bridesmaids complaining that they’ll never wear their dresses again? Let them know they can donate their gently-used dresses to The Glass Slipper Project, a Chicago-based charity which accepts donations of evening wear and accessories to distribute to disadvantaged high school girls who are unable to buy a prom dress for their own big night.
  • If you’re not planning on saving your gown for your daughter, then you might consider donating your wedding dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer, a charitable organization that sells used gowns and dresses and uses the money to fulfill the wishes of breast cancer patients around the country.

Make Use of Your Friends

During the hustle and bustle of a wedding there are a surprising amount of details that are easily overlooked. A great way to avoid regrets such as forgetting the guest book is to ask friends or family for help ahead of time. Assigning a small group of trustworthy people to oversee these tasks can make all the difference. Here is a list of tasks that should be discussed and dealt out during the planning process:

Before the ceremony:

  • Making sure copies of vows, readings, toasts and contacts make it to the wedding.
  • Bringing the guest book, heirloom cake knife, programs, photo display, etc….
  • Bringing a change of clothes for bride and groom (if applicable).
  • Meeting arriving vendors and checking on deliveries.
  • Passing out programs and post-ceremony throws (flower petals, birdseed, rice, etc…).
  • Keeping tabs on the bride’s purse.
  • Rolling out the aisle runner.

Before the party:

  • Organizing seating cards, the guest book, favors, etc….
  • Collecting wedding gifts brought to the reception.
  • Helping the bride bustle the gown.

Towards the end of the party:

  • Distributing final payments to vendors.
  • Gathering the guest book, cake knife, ketuba, etc….
  • Preserving top of the wedding cake.
  • Taking home couple’s wedding attire, if changing.
  • Taking bridal bouquet, if it will be saved.
  • Checking the site for any items left behind.

If the bride and groom depart before the end of the reception someone needs to:

  • Return rented tuxedos.
  • Take the bridal gown to be cleaned and preserved.
  • Secure all presents.