Wedding Planner Chat with Carol Marino, Thursday, January 10 at 11 AM

Planning a wedding? Want free expert advice? Starting Thursday, January 10, we'll feature weekly online chats with four of the area’s most popular wedding planners—a different one every Thursday at 11 am. Submit your questions now, and you may be one of t

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Today Carol Marino, owner of A Perfect Wedding in Fairfax, will join Bridal Party from 11 AM to noon for a keyboard-to-keyboard chat with all of you. Since founding A Perfect Wedding in 1993, Carol has planned hundreds of weddings in Washington and beyond. She’s been featured in some fantastic bridal magazines: In Style Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Modern Bride. She’s been on national TV and has traveled around the country to speak about her work. And she’s here to answer your questions—for free.

For more on Washington-area weddings, check out our new Wedding Guide.

Silver Spring, MD
Hi Carol, I'm getting married in 12 days at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. We've had to do fairly little in the way of planning (aside from chosing the place (the biggest hurdle) and getting the clothes in order). To express our appreciation to the 25 (!) people who are coming down for the wedding, we'd like to make up welcome bags and maybe give additional favors after the wedding. Do you have suggestions for either (particularly the welcome bags)? We will definitely have itineraries, sunscreen, and altoids in the bags. Anything else will have to survive a plane trip, be practical/useful, and preferably not be redundant with what the resort will offer. I'd love to hear ideas from you and the chatters! Thanks! Lauren
Aren't destination weddings fun?  Since you don't have much time until your wedding, I would suggest that when you get to Mexico you head out to the local markets.  You may be able to find crafts made by local artists or items indigenous to the area.  Look for items such as Mexican pewter picture frames (to be used later by your guests when you send them a wedding photo) or beautiful Mexican ceramics which will be a treasured reminder of your wedding and  the trip.
Arlington, VA
Do we have to have champagne served at the wedding and a champagne toast? It costs a lot extra. What are your thoughts?
Some brides and grooms choose to just have a champagne toast rather than champagne on the bar for the entire event.  Either way is fine.  You may want to try a Cava from Spain.  This is an inexpensive sparkling wine that tastes crisp and fruity (although I would recommend a brut).  Cavas from this small region in Spain are getting hot and trendy!
My fiance and I are getting married at the beginning of April.  We have found a Reverend to represent my faith and preside over the ceremony but we are looking for a Rabbi or Cantor to do a Katubah signing and perhaps participate a bit in the ceremony.  My fiance doesn't belong to a temple and the Rabbi our Reverend recommended has a prior commitment that day (April 5th, a Saturday).  Do you have an recommendations on how to go about finding someone?  I would rather not put an ad out on Craig's list and all our Jewish friends don't belong to temples.
You may want to call around to some local Reform synagogues and ask the rabbi if he performs interfaith ceremonies.  If not, he may be able to recommend someone who does.  Another good resource is the local Jewish Community Center.  You may want to speak to the Community Relations Director.
I am looking to host a reception in the DC area with a fantastic view of the city (monuments, skyline, etc). I have looked into the Hay-Adams, the Sheraton on Orme Rd in Arlington, the Key Bridge Marriott and Top of the Town in Rosslyn.  Before I make my final decision, I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing any options. is there another venue out there with stunning views of the city that is perfect for a wedding reception for about 100 guests and under $150 per person?  Also, can you recommend an outdoor setting for just the ceremony (we do not want a religious ceremony).
Have you looked at DAR?  It is a lovely site that has a magnificent view of the Washington Monument.  It also has a beautiful terrace for the ceremony and is perfect for 100 people.  You will need to hire an off premise caterer.
How do you handle the "I'm invited right" or the "I'm soo excited to come" questions and comments you get while planning a wedding?  I've had a few of them thrown my way and I always pause and I'm not quiet sure what do say.  Do you change your guest list because they've asked or do you say no sorry buddy?
It is so hard to not invite those who are excited about your wedding.  I always recommend being honest and saying something such as "due to our large extended family, we can only invite close family friends" or "I wish we could have more people but due to space restrictions we can't".
New Bride in Bethesda
I am planning on getting married in Houston, TX but would like to buy a dress here. However, I am new to the area and don't really know where to go. Can you suggest some briday salons for me? I'm looking to spend no more than $5,000 on a dress. Thank you!
There are many great bridal salons in the DC area.  Have you checked the Washingtonian list?  Always a good resource!  We like them all but you may want to start at Hitched, Promise . . . for the Savvy Bride or Jeanettes.T
Washington, DC
I am getting married at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg, VA September 2008. I wanted to include something in our reception that is creative and original, as both my fiancé & I are creative/artistic people. I found these great little mini canvas/wooden easel sets at Plaza. They are about 2×3 inches.  I purchased a bunch of them. I was thinking of using them somehow as place cards, or table numbers but I cant quite decide if they will look right or how to do this. I think there is a fine line between being different but maintaining a classy look. I would appreciate any ideas or tips you can provide in how & if I should utilize these.
I love that you want to incorporate your artistic talents into the wedding.  Rather than using them as table numbers or place cards, why not do something more meaningful for your guests.  How about painting the canvas in the palette of your wedding colors or better yet the color of a September sky and then having a quote from a romantic poem.  This becomes a treasured keepsake!
Is getting married the weekend after a major election a bad idea? What about the weekend before?
With Washington being so attuned to elections everywhere, it is very astute of you to consider this.  Definitely not the weekend before an election, especially if you have lots of friends on the Hill.  The weekend after the election may not be the best time either, depending on who wins of course!  It could definitely change the mood of any event and some people may not even be around.  I wouldn't do either weekend but if you have to do it at that time of year just know that those who love you most will be there no matter what!
Washington DC
Any ideas for thoughtful, creative gifts to give to bridesmaids and groomsmen? Thanks!
You may want to give them something really personalized.  If you have lots of photos with your friends, place them in individualized photo albums  with just pics of you and them.  They will love this.  Also you don't have to give the same thing to each member of the wedding party.  If you know they collect something or have a particular interest or hobby then you know they are going to appreciate that.   Some of my brides and grooms have given everything from tickets to sporting events to fine cigars and car detailing kits for the men.  And for the ladies, concert tickets, jewelry and a girl's weekend away.
Washington, DC
Hi there. I am looking at having a very small wedding for 8-10 people in an outdoor setting. Is there anywhere in the VA/DC area that you would recommend? Thanks.
For that amount of people you could think about having a lovely home wedding.  There are also many gardens and smaller sites available in Maryland, DC and Virginia.  If you are doing this yourself, check out some of  your local county listings for sites that allow public events.
Hi! I"m so glad that you all are taking questions. I need help planning a wedding for 400+. Our concern is that, as history would have it, uninvited people are likely to show up. Is there a tactful way to make sure the invitees know that they are not to bring others with them? For example, a playful "admit one" ticket or something of that nature that let's them know that we do not expect them to bring people that they think we "surely forgot to invite"?
Try networking with your family and friends to spread the word that due to the large size of your wedding you can not have any additional or last minute guests.  Post this on your wedding website as well.  In planning a wedding you should always allow for some added guests whom you know will show up and say they "sent the response back, didn't you get it?".  Also make sure your response cut off date is at least 3 weeks before the wedding so that you or your family can place calls to all those who have not responded to check their status.
McLean, Va
Do you recomend having a tasting with your caterer/restaurant even though you've eaten there before?
Absolutely, a customized tasting should be prepared for you to try the foods you are considering for your wedding so that you can make your final selections and know what you are getting.  Tastings are usually held about 2 to 3 months before the wedding.  

Thanks so much to everyone for your great questions, so sorry time did not allow to answer them all but I wish everyone "a perfect wedding"!  Carol Marino

Didn't get your wedding question answered in this chat? Try submitting to next week's chat, Thursday January 17 at 11 AM. Planner Laura Weatherly will be there to answer your queries. You can submit your questions in advance here.