Photo by Pixel Studio Productions, Courtesy The Bell Tower on 34th

Every business has its own vocabulary, and the business of weddings is no exception.

Sure, you might expect your nuptials to be filled only with the language of love, but as you work with your wedding planner, caterer, photographer, and florist (among others) it’s important to know the difference between a bustle and a boutonniere, a place card and an escort card.

Here, I decode some of the terms you’re likely to come across as you plan your big day.

The Ceremony and Reception

· Black Tie or Black Tie Optional — A black tie wedding is a formal affair…


For many, this meme rings painfully true: “I don’t always stress out about wedding planning, but when I do, it’s 1 a.m., and I have to be up at 6 a.m.”

No matter how excited you are about your upcoming wedding, preparing for it can be tiring and even overwhelming at times. The same is true for organizing any major event, from your parents’ anniversary party to your family’s multi-generational reunion. Event planning is stressful, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to ask for help.

UK wedding and event planner Katrina Otter wrote frankly…


Just about every engaged couple will tell you there were signs pointing to their future — the euphoria of falling in love, the discussions about starting a family, the day they realized they couldn’t bear the idea of being apart.

Yes, those metaphysical signs can’t be overlooked.

But what about actual, physical signs? Increasing numbers of couples are displaying them at their weddings and receptions. And though they’re not always necessary — is a bride walking down the aisle preceded by a 7-year-old carrying a sign that says, Here Comes the Bride, adorable or a little too self-evident? …


There aren’t many celebrations as intrinsically personal as a marriage ceremony. From the processional music to the vows, and every point in between, this is a chance for a couple to share what’s meaningful to them with their guests.

It wasn’t always that way, of course. Decades ago, most engaged couples shared similar backgrounds, and their weddings were guided more by convention and religious norms than by personal preferences.

As the number of multicultural couples has grown, though, so has their desire to bring their unique customs and rituals into the special day. Today, blending traditions is increasingly common. It’s…


If you think trying to get 10 or 20 relatives together for the holidays is problematic, how does the idea of wrangling thousands of them sound? Somehow, writer A.J. Jacobs pulled it off.

In June 2015, he managed to bring together more than 3,700 close, distant, and really, really distant relatives for a massive gathering, the Global Family Reunion, at the New York Hall of Science. The theme was “We’re all part of one big family.”

Jacobs’ reunion tied in with an even larger effort: an attempt to build a family tree of the entire human race. …


The Majestic Metro, Houston

Have you and your spouse-to-be ever been known to:

· Watch certain movies multiple (10, 15…too many to count) times?

· Quote dialogue in real-time during movies?

· Weave movie lines into day-to-day conversations?

· Have (and express) strong opinions about the best movies and performers of all time?

· Feel an irresistible urge to share trivia about a film and its cast — while it’s showing?

If even a few of these tendencies describe you, then a vintage movie theater may be the perfect setting for your upcoming wedding.

Increasing numbers of couples are taking their movie-themed weddings to…


Could something as seemingly innocuous as a crouton make a guest at your next event ill?

It could if they are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye (and many other grains), or if they have celiac disease, which is a serious autoimmune disorder triggered by eating gluten that can damage the small intestine.

After all, croutons are little more than tiny, tasty bread cubes — and conventional bread is full of gluten. Even though most people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are extremely careful about what they eat, a crouton tossed into a…


Do your parents have a big anniversary coming up?

Hosting a party for them is a wonderful way to celebrate their commitment to one another — and express your love and appreciation for them.

And you have all sorts of options for making your parents’ celebration meaningful. You can weave in sweet design touches, add elements of nostalgia, or make dramatic, show-stopping gestures. Or…you can aim for all of the above!

Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way.

1. Start with a theme.

Selecting a theme gives you a great starting point for cultivating fun party…


If the words “children’s table” evoke memories of family Thanksgivings spent sitting in the kitchen, eating turkey and mashed potatoes (or, heaven forbid, Brussels sprouts) off paper plates, you’ll probably be surprised to learn how grown-up things are for kids now, at least in the world of weddings and other catered events.

No longer are children considered disruptive little beings who have to be corralled (or kept at home). …


For many, a rustic wedding can be a fairy tale brought to life — complete with stunning scenery.

Few elements, besides the beauty surrounding you, will help set the mood for your country wedding more than the food you provide.

Not only can you create a feast for the senses with your dishes’ flavors and aromas, but also, food has the power to evoke positive memories and even emotional responses. This is especially true for a rustic wedding, where comfort foods are natural menu choices.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a few ideas to help inspire you.

Roger Igo

CEO: Excellent Events catering, The Bell Tower on 34th venue and Venues in Houston. Author of “Keep On Going, The History of The Bell Tower on 34th.”

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