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Books for Brides
By Mary Ann Smyth

June, that magical month of the year is fast approaching, ushering in weddings with their lovely brides. The sweeping train of that dress you've dreamed of since you were a little girl. Glorious flowers massed for the trip down the aisle. A perfect reception with everyone seated so that a harmonious time is had by all. Food to tickle the palate and garner raves from the guests. A joyful coming together of the relatives of both bride and groom. A day to be remembered for its perfection.

Worried about accomplishing this? Afraid your new mother-in-law won't approve of the barn you've picked out for the ceremony. Sure that your brother's wife is going to make snide remarks about your self-written wedding vows? Feeling uneasy because you've chosen a small personal wedding and not the big affair everyone expects?

Pick up a copy of Creative Weddings: An Up-To-Date Guide for Making Your Wedding as Unique as You Are by Laurie Levin and Laura Golden Bellotti. It's a valuable source for wedding planning, whether it's a first marriage or the second time around, with excellent advice on topics like intercultural and interfaith weddings; premarital syndrome; out-of-town weddings; or remarrying with children. It even describes a wedding where all the guests wore white! Its advice sums up to say that the rule book can be thrown away. Let your imagination take over and follow your instincts. Why? Why not? Make your day match your dreams.

Giving marriage a second go? Sharon Naylor helps the engaged couple with 1,001 Ways to Have a Dazzling Second Wedding to avoid the inevitable monkey wrench in the works. There are tips on how to deal with dual family relationships and how to choose a gown, which is always a touchy subject, as is guest diplomacy. This is a do-it-yourself guide to a perfect wedding, with forms that help you to keep information on everything from the name of the bride to where to sit old Uncle Henry, who can always be counted on to overindulge in champagne.

The Wedding Guide for the Grownup Bride by Shelley Christiansen is sure to solve problems you didn't even know existed; a must for the older bride. Subtitled 'When You're Old Enough to Know What You're Doing and in Love Enough to Do It Anyway', it includes good advice in chapter headings like 'Forget the Wedding, Prepare for Marriage', 'The Roar of the Diamond - Engagement', 'Who Is This Dude Anyway', or 'Juggling Other Loved Ones'.

Glorious photographs are interspersed through The Perfect Wedding Reception: Stylish Ideas for Every Season by Maria McBride-Mellinger, Siobhan McGowan & Ross Whitaker. This is a do-it-yourself guide to what can be accomplished with careful and insightful planning. The four seasons are showcased with photographs suggesting locations, table settings, flowers, refreshments, menu, cake and table accents. This book takes a daunting challenge and breaks it up into step-by-step planning, every phase outlined with wonderful suggestions and how-to instructions. The menus are a dream, the flower arrangements unique and beautiful; I especially liked the table settings.

The first tip in How to Buy Your Perfect Wedding Dress (by Ronald Rothstein, Mara Urshel, Todd Lyon & Monica Rangne) is to define your wedding style - formal, informal or somewhere in between. Season, of course, is important in final selection of a gown, but there is much more to consider. By the time you've put this book down, you'll no longer be in a quandary as to what style gown you want, with tips on veils and accessories to round out a wealth of information.

The big day is over. You're home from the honeymoon. And here you are with a barrel of thank you notes to write for all those lovely wedding gifts. Your mind is frozen at the thought. Heartfelt Thank Yous by Beverly Clark comes to the rescue. How about a word of thanks to the bridesmaids and ushers? Personalized phrases to replace overused words? Open Heartfelt Thank Yous again, an invaluable tool for newlyweds.

Dip into The Perfect Wedding Cake by Kate Manchester, Sylvia Weinstock & Zeva Oelbaum for a wonderful intro to 'Wedding Cake Lore and History.' It moves right along with types of cakes, flavors and fillings, decorations, and how to choose the wedding cake baker. Recipes are included in case you want to bake your own. The photographs are spectacular, as are all the designs for cakes. If I had to choose one ... well, I'd want them all.

Want to cater your own wedding? It can be done. With care, determination, plenty of spirit and a copy of Cater Your Own Wedding (by Michael Flowers & Donna Bankhead) at your fingertips. This book walks you through all the necessary steps. First choose the type of reception you want - six different styles are offered. Every detail is outlined from setting up the basic punch table to working out lists and recipes. The authors have obviously been there, done that and bought the tee shirt. Who better to learn from?

The thought of a big traditional wedding just too much for you? Getting cold feet about the whole thing, but still want to marry? Let's Elope by Scott Shaw & Lynn Beahan might be the book for you. Elope (1) to run away secretly, especially to leave one's home to marry a lover. (2) to run away, to escape, to abscond. (3) a delightful and perfectly sensible alternative to large traditional weddings. It's obvious from the first page, that the authors prefer the third definition. In 'Eloping 101', they cover why to do it, the options, and the etiquette of eloping and convincing everyone you're doing the right thing. Learn how to have the wedding of the century on your own terms.

'The word elegant is French and is defined as richness and grace, confined by the restraints of propriety and good taste,' states Deborah McCoy, author of The Elegant Wedding and the Budget Savvy Bride. Its author, who is in the business of wedding planning, says that it does not take a fortune to have an elegant wedding. Careful planning and a graceful state of mind can produce an outstanding wedding for an affordable price. Start by making your own invitations. Dull and inexpensive reception rooms can be given a spark with rent-a-trees. Controlling your guest list is key. Just about any question that might arise is answered with good, sound, and cost saving advice.

Here come the brides ...
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