Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Gala Affairs By AtUrBest would like to wish all of our family and friends a very very Happy New Year....

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Marines marry at judge's home
Couple's courtship has been long-distance

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Madison Eastland, 19, (left) begins to cry as PFC Nicholas Steven Eckley, 20, of Stow reads his wedding vows to her during their wedding ceremony performed by Akron Municipal Court Judge Kathyrn Michael in Michael's Fairlawn home on Christmas. The Marines are both on leave and Eckley will be sent to Afghanistan in June. Serving as maid of honor is Eckley's sister Amanda Eckley, 23, left, and standing up with Eckley are his friends Nathan Rasor, (from left) Trevor McGuire and PFC Justin Schrantz. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

Nicholas Eckley and Madison Eastland faced a challenge.

They wanted to tie the knot on Christmas Day when both were on leave from the Marines. But where would they find a judge to marry them?

Akron Municipal Judge Kathryn Michael had the answer. She opened her Fairlawn home to the young couple and their wedding party for a brief ceremony.

Michael said she preferred to have the wedding there rather than go to Eckley's parents' home in Stow, as the couple first requested, because of her own family commitments.

''I'm a romantic and I love weddings,'' Michael said. ''It's the only time people are happy to see me coming in my black robe.''

The noon ceremony capped an 18-month love affair for Pfc. Eckley and his bride, a lance corporal from Virginia Beach, Va.

The couple met when Eckley approached Eastland at a country-western dance near Virginia Beach.

He expressed interest in the Marine tattoo on her shoulder — her tribute to family and friends in the military, she explained — and found himself captivated by the young blonde.

''She's beautiful. There's something different about her,'' Eckley, 20, said. ''The way she carries herself, her presence. It made her stand out from everyone else in the room.''

Eastland, 19, was equally smitten.

''I thought he was cool and awesome,'' she recalled.

She went on to enlist in the Marines; a long-distance courtship followed.

For the last eight months, Eckley has been touring various countries around the Pacific. Starting in January, both will be stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

In June, though, he will leave for a seven- to 10-month deployment in Afghanistan.

So Christmas seemed the best time to tie the knot if he wanted his large family, already gathered for the holidays, to be present.

The couple read their own vows as about 10 family members crowded into Michael's living room. Pop holiday music played in the background during the ceremony.

After leaving the judge's home, the happy couple celebrated at the home of Eckley's parents, Cheryl and Mark Eckley, with about 60 family members.

However, a honeymoon to the Bahamas, Jamaica or Fiji and a formal reception for the new bride's family in Virginia will have to wait: She must report back to Camp Pendleton in California on Wednesday.

By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Saturday, Dec 26, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Help Us Stop "Domestic Violence" - Act Like A Lady Plus Size Fashion Show

Join us for an evening of elegance, fashion and pure fun.

Act Lke A Lady Plus Size Fashion Show

January 30, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.

724 Montana Street Unit P Charlotte,NC 28216

Tickets $10.00 in Advance

$15.00 at the door..

For More Information contact

GeKeysha Murphy 704-756-7415
Shelia Murphy 704-712-3353
Amanda Sherman 704-502-0312

Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Shows start promply at 6:00 p.m.

****Proceeds going towards various Domestic Violence Programs and Services*****

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weddings and Saving Money: An Oxymoronic Dream?

Weddings cost an arm and a leg. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about it; you’ve all been involved and seen thousands upon thousands disappear on dresses, catering, venues, invitations, makeup, hair, presents and a three piece swing band followed by a quartet. It’s a lot of money.
So is it possible to have a wedding and not have to refinance your home (or, more likely, your parents home)? Here are a few tips to help keep the bill in the land of reality.

Look Around You
Chances are you are surrounded by people with many gifts. We all know musicians, people who are witty off the cuff and older ladies who can sow just about anything. Use the people around you to help with the wedding. After all, it’s a way to involve people you care about in your big day as well as trimming the costs. Ask to borrow your best mate’s Mercedes instead of hiring a limousine. Have a grandmother who makes the best cakes ever? There’s your wedding cake. If you have a friend who is forever snapping away with their three cameras, now is the time to give them a call.

Be Brutal
I come from a Greek and Italian background; I know what it’s like to feel pressured to invite everyone you know. If you have plans to keep the costs down, keeping the guest list down is the most important thing you can do. Don’t invite people just because you feel like you should, or because they invited you to their wedding. Surround yourself with the people you love and want to witness your big day. Ignore stern maternal expressions and all guilt provoking comments.

Choose the Time of Day
The time you hold your wedding and reception can significantly trim the costs of your day. Hold the wedding at midday and the reception can be bubbly and nibblies. There’s no need to have a sit down feast if you would prefer to keep things casual. Acknowledge that most people would prefer to have a couple of glasses of nice red than a roast in summer time and cater for it. Choose to have your wedding on a less popular day of the week (as in, any day than Saturday) and you can trim your costs further.

Spend the Money on the Things That Matter
Wedding invitations are not the most important aspect of your wedding. Do it yourself, and save a lot of money and heartache over the proper wording and whether or not his parents should precede yours. Get some copies of your favourite picture and write the invitation details on the back. Use kids party invites and set the tone for a casual day of fun, rather than stiff formal proceedings. Save your money for a dress you really love, or squeezing in a couple of friends from way back.

Avoid the money pitfalls
This is a fantastic list of the biggest money wasters, My favourite is the discussion of favours or thank you presents. This is a phenomenon I have only just learnt about. I never knew you could receive presents for going to a wedding. Why not use Nina Calloway’s suggestion of a breakfast bag with some scones, nice tea and homemade jam? Personally, homemade jam is my favourite present so if anyone wants to send me an invitation, make sure homemade jam is included.

Posted by: Francesca Sidoti

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Carolina Inn Named Top Holiday Retreat by

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Carolina Inn has been named among the nation’s Top 8 Holiday Retreats by

According to the web site, “a holiday away from home can become a magical and memorable excursion. Learn about special spots that do Christmas right; see our list of traditional and historic hotels and inns, large and small, located throughout the nation. These eight holiday retreats go all out, with Christmas trees everywhere, gingerbread galore, carols, and of course, Santa.”

Others on the list were The Berry Manor Inn in Maine, Homestead Resort in Utah, Inn at Christmas Place in Tennessee, Jekyll Island Club in Georgia, Rittenhouse Inn in Wisconsin, Skytop Lodge Resort in Pennsylvania and View Point Inn in Oregon.

The Carolina Inn’s 12th Annual “12 Days of Christmas” celebration runs through January 3, 2010 and features some new treats (An Afternoon with Nicholas Nickleby on December 19 and Antiques Roadshow on December 29), many old favorites (luncheon with the voice of the Tar Heels Woody Durham on December 16, Zuber wallpaper history tour and luncheon on December 22 and New Orleans Style Twelfth Night Banquet and January 2), plus six value-stuffed hotel packages starting at $117 per night.

Complete information about all of the Twelve Days of Christmas events at The Carolina Inn including dates, times and cost, if any, is online at Reservations are required for many of the events and may be made online or by calling 888-878-1823.

About the Carolina Inn

Recognized as one of America’s “cultural resources worthy of preservation,” The Carolina Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with elite status as a AAA Four Diamond Award Hotel and Forbes (Mobil) Four Star Award-Winning Dining at the Carolina Crossroads Restaurant. From the day it opened in 1924, the 184-room Inn has played an important role in the life of the University of North Carolina and the Chapel Hill community. As one of only four hotels in North Carolina built before 1925 to remain in continuous operation, it has long been one of the most popular sites in North Carolina for special events, weddings, business meetings, and academic conferences with over 13,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. In addition to having a rich cultural history, The Carolina Inn is architecturally significant, blending elements of antebellum Southern plantation houses with Georgian and neoclassical features often found in the Northeast. The original front of the building was modeled after the Potomac River front of Mt. Vernon. The Carolina Inn is one of more than 30 independent, upscale and luxury hotels, resorts and golf clubs in the United States managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, the fourth largest independent hospitality management company in the country.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just In For The Holidays - Creative Thank Yous

Sometimes you want to say thank you in a way that stands out. Consider these ideas for expressing your gratitude through creative, and in some cases handmade, ways.

* Cards. Personalize a thank you note with a handmade card. This can be done either through a computer program, or with card-making supplies purchased at a craft store. However you make the card, the message will be extra special since it comes on a card made especially for the recipient.

* Collages. Creating a collage of photos and memorabilia from a time or event can be a meaningful and creative way to say thank you. Consider this idea if someone helped you plan an event or was with you on a special day or trip. Put together a collage of memories from that time to thank the person for all they did to help. They will have the joy of receiving a special gift, and you will get to relive memories as you work on the project.

* Scrapbooks. A scrapbook, while similar to a collage or a photo album, can have many more added features. In addition to having much more space for photos, notes, and memorabilia, a scrapbook can have a theme carried throughout the book. If you want to give a special person in your life a reminder of how much they mean to you, consider thanking them with a personalized scrapbook that represents their unique place in your life.

* Memory jars. For this item, first gather approximately 30 strips of paper and begin writing on them special thoughts or stories relating to the person you want to thank. They can be funny or serious. Once you have gathered the strips, decorate a medium-size jar and fill it with the strips. Then present it to the person you would like to thank with a note instructing them to read one strip each morning for the next month. Be as creative as possible when decorating the jar, and try to choose a theme that fits the personality of the individual.


Clock/calendar. Present either the color or calendar with a note that reads, "Thanks for finding to time to help." Since this is a lighthearted gift, try to find a funny clock or calendar that will bring a laugh to the person you are presenting it to.

Basket of shiny apples. Give the basket of apples to someone special with the note, "You are a polished leader and the apple of our eye." Make sure the basket is decorated with a nice and polished!

Candle. Choose a candle with a nice scent or holder and leave it as a thank you with the note, "Your advice has lighted my path." This is a wonderful way to give a small token to someone who has been supportive in helping you make decisions.

Calculator. Sometimes you need to give a small gift to a special person, but you don't quite know what to get. Try giving a calculator engraved with the message, "All you do really adds up." This can be an especially good idea for volunteers or others who are instrumental in helping an organization or event get going.

Edible Thank Yous

Dinner - Try Something Unique-

If you are looking for an original dinner idea that can also serve as a conversation piece, then fondue may be a great option for your thank you dinner. It is best in small group setting where people are comfortable with one another. There are many ways to prepare and serve fondue. For tips ands ideas check out the following website, which will provide you with all the information you need to hold a special thank you fondue dinner!

Theme. To hold a dinner with a twist, decide on a theme and carry it through every part of the meal. For example, if the person you are thanking has a favorite vacation spot, such as a tropical island, then create the atmosphere with decorations and music, and serve a meal traditional in that area. The person you are thanking will enjoy the festivities and will know you have put a lot of thought into the occasion.

Cultural. Perhaps you are having a difficult time coming up with a theme, but you want a unique cultural experience. Try something new, a food or place that you would not normally choose and create an evening where people get to experience something different. Just make sure that the person you are thanking is adventurous.

Group event. There are times when you may want to thank a group of people for helping or supporting you. Hold a special dinner party in their honor and toast each one of them separately. Your toast does not need to be lengthy; after all you don't want dinner to get cold, but offer up a unique toast to each person and acknowledge to the group how each individual has been there for you.

Baking Delights.

Cookies, cakes, pies. Almost everyone can enjoy a small basket of cookies or perhaps a cake or pie to share with a group. This is a simple way to say thank you that shows how appreciative you are.

Casseroles. While not necessarily a good choice for every occasion, there are people in your life who are very busy and yet still take time out of their schedule to be there for you. Thank them by preparing a read-to-heat meal such as a casserole; this will give them a night off from cooking dinner and allow more time for other things. Parents will especially enjoy this thank you, which gives them ore time with the family and less time in the kitchen.

Specialty pizzas. Many times the easy way to say thank you to group, particularly in a volunteer setting is to order pizzas. Try to put a twist on this routine by either cooking or ordering specialty pizzas. There are all sorts of options of tasty and nutritious pizzas. There are all sorts of options for tasty and nutritious pizzas that have everything from chicken and mushrooms to goat cheese and red peppers.

Monday, November 23, 2009


1. IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES – Every holiday event you attend is an opportunity to meet new people. People are more inviting during the holidays and willing to share information. The more events you attend the greater your potential for developing new contacts.

2. QUALITY vs. QUANTITY - Know what you are looking for. The key is to identify quality prospects, not see how many business cards you can collect. Your best contact may not become a client but could provide you valuable alliances that will significantly grow your business.

3. MINGLE – Do not congregate with old friends or hang out at the buffet. Your goal is to meet NEW contacts.

4. LISTEN – You will learn more about people by listening than talking. Listening will provide you the keys to identify contacts and gain valuable information that will determine how you choose to develop a potential business relationship.

5. ASK QUESTIONS – This is always a key factor in networking. Asking the right questions will generate the information you need. Areas that generate networking potential are questions about their business, what services they provide, the biggest challenges they are facing and the best question of all is what would be a good referral for them. People are always interested in others who can benefit them.

6. REVISE YOUR PERSONAL INTRODUCTION – When asked what you do you have about six seconds to capture their attention and interest. Don’t use titles but instead state what you do and how it benefits people. For instance, stating you help people understand personal finance in this difficult economy would be an introduction for a financial advisor. Develop your own introduction with this in mind.

7. CARRY YOUR BUSINESS CARDS – This does not mean you pass out your business cards to everyone you meet. In fact, that would be a mistake. Be discriminate, only give your business card to someone that asks for it or someone that has stated they have a specific need that either you or someone you know can help them with. Use the back of your business card to write a brief note that serves as a reminder to them when they look at the card later.

8. GET CONTACT NUMBERS – It is critical to get contact information. Tell the individual you would like to follow-up with them and ask them for a business card. If they don’t have a card with them, ask them for their phone number or email address and write it on the back of one of your business cards.

9. DEVELOP A CONTACT LIST – Don’t wait to record the list of contacts you made at an event. Record all contact information and notes concerning the contact as soon as possible. Entering the information into your personal data base within 24 hrs is best.

10. FOLLOW-UP – Your networking efforts won’t reap maximum rewards unless you follow through on your initial meeting.

Information provided by: The International Referral Network

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New holiday color: green

The holidays are just around the corner, and so are the holiday parties.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate 25 percent more trash than usual in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. It amounts to 1 million tons.

Much of that is due to holiday parties. But there are several steps revelers can take to make their holiday parties more eco-friendly.

: Use e-vites or recycled paper invitations. These days, sending invitations and collecting RSVPs through any one of several electronic-invitation Web sites is popular. It's budget-friendly and saves resources.

If you're intent on marking your holiday party occasion with an invitation guests can hold in their hands and keep, choose those made from post-consumer recycled paper, or tree-free alternatives, such as invitations made from hemp, says Marti Matsch, communications director for Eco-Cycle.

"Make sure your invitation is recyclable," Matsch adds. "Avoid bright-colored, dark-colored, fluorescent or metallic papers, all of which cannot be recycled."

Use re-usable. Single-use items -- especially when it comes to serving and enjoying food and drinks -- are common during the holidays. But it makes more eco-friendly sense to avoid cluttering landfills with single-use items, particularly plastic plates and utensils, and choose washable dishes and silverware.

"Reuse stuff -- don't use a lot of plastic," says Mary Spicer, of Spicer Events, an events-planning company with offices in Boulder and Connecticut. "Anything that can be reused, that's green."

That means, pull out the china and silver if you have it.

"Grandma gave it to you, you should use it," Spicer says.

If the back of your cabinets aren't a holding ground for hand-me-down ware, and you're hosting a large number of guests, consider renting plates, silverware and glassware for the occasion.

Or try compostable. If you must include single-use tableware and cutlery at your party, choose the compostable kind. Eco-Cycle offers a Zero Waste Event Kit that includes tableware and cutlery made from plant starches instead of plastic.

The kit includes compost collection containers, which once filled can be dropped off at Eco-Cycle's Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials in Boulder.

One note, plant-based tableware wont biodegrade in some compost systems because they don't reach the required temperature for long enough periods of time in order for the items to begin to break down. But Eco-Cycle takes its compost to a company in Denver that uses a system that effectively composts biodegradable tableware, Matsch says.

Find decorations. Holiday decorations can be pricey, and they can fill a trash can in a hurry. There are greener options than buying the latest centerpieces from a store, says Heather Dwight, owner of Calluna Events, a Boulder company that specializes in weddings, private parties and non-profit events.

Create your own.

"With decorations, there's really simple, budget-friendly things you can do," Dwight says. "Pine cones or branches with berries on them, or ivy, so that you're not using a ton of flowers, things that you might even have at home you can use as centerpieces."

If you use flowers, find a florist who offers Colorado-grown or organically grown flowers. And if your floral arrangements aren't pesticide free -- and most aren't -- be conscious of where they go.

Offset your carbon. Let's face it, part of what make celebrations special is the fact they happen once. Sometimes, despite best green intentions, holiday parties lead to more waste than you may be comfortable with.

Dwight says she's noticed a trend of eco-conscious revelers buying carbon offsets to counterbalance the travel by guests or the waste the parties generate.

Eco-cycle recommends visiting or to learn more about carbon offsets.

Use sustainable wines.

Want to get a conversation going with the wine connoisseurs on your guest list?

"Something that's been a trend this year has been using sustainable or biodynamic wines," Dwight says.

Compost what you can. After the guests have gone, make sure the food leftovers go into compost containers and recyclable materials are put into their proper bin.

Avoid toxic cleaning solutions. "Consider making your own non-toxic cleaners at home," Matsch says. "Many basic cleaners can be made from non-toxic ingredients, such as baking soda, Borax, white vinegar, lemon juice and washing soda."

Article provided by Mark Collins

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Kind of People Seek Wedding Sponsorship

There is a wide misconception on exactly what a wedding sponsorship is. The type of people who seek out sponsors for their wedding are, for the most part people who understand budgeting. The concept of wedding sponsorship has been around for quite a while but still in some circles controversial. People have read articles and heard stories about couples who have gone this route and saved thousands of dollars in the process but the interesting thing about some of these couples, is that they could easily afford the wedding in the first place. So why go through the process of locating sponsors? Could it be that it just made “good sense”. Now I would have said “business sense” but that’s where it gets controversial. I have listened to heated arguments about this exact topic, almost as if the discussion was about politics. Some argue that this is a special day and it should not be tainted by the domination of corporate involvement. Just to be fair, most of these arguments take place due to lack of information on this subject. I think that most people when they here the words “Corporate Sponsor” they think of banners, flyers, display booths, print media and even publicity gimmicks. At the very least have a preconceived image of the words “Sponsored By…” etched in their minds.

Sponsored weddings are not corporate events and should not be treated as such. The form of sponsorship, which appeals to most wedding couples and corporate sponsors alike, are cross promotion and barter opportunities. As an example, if you were already prepared to pay $7000.00 for the wedding venue and the vendor said to you “ look, if you give me the names of three more potential wedding couples that I might call to promote to my venue, I will give you a 70% discount ($4900.00). Now if you knew three couples that were getting married in the next year, you might be inclined to pass the name on to the venue owner, and take advantage of this discount. There is no different between this scenario and what a wedding sponsor can be. Two things to remember; everything is negotiable on some level and everything has some value to someone. If you would like more information on wedding sponsorship go to

Brian Leslie is CEO of "The Wedding Sponsors", a company which provides sponsorship services to wedding couples looking to save money on their "big day" The author of this article, Leslie, has spent many years in Film Industry as an Executive Producer specializing in cross promotion and financing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taste of the Season gets a little sweeter with cake decorating competition

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce's 20th annual Taste of the Season on Friday brings together 30 local chefs to prepare samples of their best dishes. But this year brings a new twist.

The chamber has challenged some the island's best bakers to a Best Holiday Cake bake-off, so to say. Each will present a cake at the event, and attendees will vote on which is best.

With so much confectionery talent on display, we couldn't help but gather some of their knowledge on a wide range of subjects, from life as a cake maker to the necessary evils of fondant.

Behold, our informal roundtable of Hilton Head's best cake decorators: Sheri Davis, Sheri's Edible Designs; Signe Gardo, Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery and Cafe; Ann Marie Romano, Sandstone Catering; Holly Slayton, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes; Andrea Studenc, Little Students Cooking Cafe & Sweet Treats; and Jen Zoole, The Sea Pines Resort.

If you go
Taste of the Season will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Sea Pines Country Club on Hilton Head Island.
Tickets are $35 and are available at Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce headquarters, the Hilton Head Island Welcome Center and Bluffton Chamber Office.
To purchase tickets online, go to
Details: 843-785-3673

Question. What's popular in the Lowcountry?

Gardo. It was a good year, but it wasn't as many had the huge cakes. Smaller weddings. A lot of people scaled back.

Romano. A lot of a seashell cakes are popular for the destination weddings. Also, a lot of flavors with each tier being a different flavor instead of the entire cake being vanilla. I've had one that's been red velvet, carrot cake, chocolate. A lot of variety.

Studenc. One of our biggest requests are our confetti cakes, the ones with polka dots. We do a lot of birthday cakes. After that it's princess cakes. Also, a lot of sports-themed cakes.

Zoole. People go for simple but contemporary for wedding cakes. Plain white buttercream with fresh flowers, for example. Also, maybe something different, like stripes of fondant.

Q. What are your wildest cakes?

Davis. Definitely things that are tilted. Things that are separated by shapes and patterns. I did a wedding cake this year where it looked like strawberries. The theme of the wedding was chocolate-covered strawberries. They didn't want the cake to look like a cake. They wanted people to look at it and say, "Is that a cake?"

Studenc. A lady came in and said, "I have a strange request for a cake." She said, "Can you do a snail?" It was this group of ladies that go up to North Carolina for this retreat called The Snail's Pace. That's where it came about. And, yes, you could eat the whole snail.

Q. Wedding cupcakes: Fad or forever?

Davis. I do get a lot of requests for wedding cupcakes. But I don't do them anymore. It was kind of big a few years ago, but I think things have trickled off a bit. I don't know if that's because word gets around that I don't do them anymore or because the popularity is in decline.

Gardo. We do cupcakes for wedding cakes often. It's popular. It eliminates a cutting fee; it speeds up the evening. It's much more fun than a piece of cake. But you can't do much with them, decoration-wise. A cupcake is still a cupcake.

Slayton. Cupcakes used to just be a kids' treat. People have taken it to another level. They've found an adult market. In a lot of these informal weddings, where people might be standing around talking as opposed to a sit-down dinner, it's easier to carry around with you.

Q. Is fondant worth it?

Davis. Traditionally fondant is disgusting and tastes like glue. I make mine from marshmallow and powdered sugar, so it doesn't taste so bad. If I can get away with buttercream, I'll do that anytime.

Studenc. I love working with fondant. You can do a lot with it. I don't really like covering an entire cake with it unless I have to because when you do eat it, it is chewy. I'll do it on my cupcakes, too, ribbons, flowers, stuff to make them fun.

Slayton. If I make it, I like it. I don't like the commercial; it doesn't have the same flavor. If you make it your own, you can control the flavor better.

Q. "Cake Boss," "Ace of Cakes" ... Do you watch these shows?

Davis. To be honest, I try not to watch. I do appreciate them for their entertainment value. But it gives an unrealistic portrayal of what goes into making a cake. I'll get customers who come to me wanting a 5-foot cake of a dolphin jumping out of the water and when they get the price quote, they'll say, "I saw it on 'Ace of Cakes' and it looked so easy." You have to tell them it's just the magic of television.

Studenc. My kids are obsessed with them, as I am. I wonder how much cake is in some of those cakes, and I really wonder how they taste.

Q. What's in store for the Best Holiday Cake?

Romano. It's a snowflake-like winter wonderland cake. Five tiered with different flavored mousses.

Zoole. I have some ideas. Just something kind of fun but elegant. It's probably going to involve penguins. It's kind of difficult. Usually you're given an idea to work with, but it's different when you're essentially given free range.

Article provided By JUSTIN PAPROCKI

Sunday, November 8, 2009

There's Wedding Insurance in YOUR wallet.

The holidays are fast approaching and so is the BIG day for many of you! That’s why this week’s “Words of Wisdom…” have to do with protecting your wedding investment.

What’s the average cost of a wedding today? The answer is a whopping $28,000. Wow! That’s a lot of dinero to spend on a four- or five-hour party. So it’s critical that you safeguard your investment and there’s an easy way to do it.

Every one of us carries an insurance policy in our wallet and guess what it’s called? It’s called a credit card and your credit card can be your greatest financial protection when planning your wedding. Let me give you examples. There was once a bride and groom who booked a florist and gave them a $1500 deposit… in cash. Two weeks before the wedding, the shop went out of business. The couple was totally distraught; they didn’t have money to reserve another florist--but had they used their credit card, their deposit would have been protected. Recently, a bridal salon in our town went out of business. All the brides who gave the shop cash or checks for the deposits paid on their gowns were out of luck. But the ones who used their credit cards had their deposits refunded.

And there are other advantages. Some credit-card companies refund a percentage of your total purchases—in cash or bonuses. Others offer free travel insurance and frequent flier miles. And of course, if you pay the balance due within 30 days, there are no interest charges.

The lesson to be learned is this: No matter how much money you have in the bank, use credit cards to pay for your wedding. Weddings are planned months in advance, and no one knows what’s going to happen down that long, rocky road to the altar. Credit cards offer financial protection, benefits, insurance, and may even save you $$$$.

Happy Weddings!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Thank- Yous Cont'd

A Formal thank you is written. Here are some basic guidelines for how to make a formal thank you meaningful, personal, and a little bit different. In most cases, the advice for one kind of event will be applicable to all formal thank yous.

Weddings And Anniversary Parties

Favors. While a favor does not replace a formal thank you note, it is considered a special way of thanking guests for attending. A favor at the place setting can be as unique and individualized as you would like. Some popular ones include candy, candles, soaps/lotions, or specialty items that go with the event theme.

Share a memory. Writing hundreds of thank you notes can become very tiring. Try to make the process more interesting and personal by including a memory or thought specific to that person. It can be from the event or from a different time in your life, but let them know they are not receiving a form letter. Make it specific to them. For example, "On this emotional day, it was such a comfort to look over and see the two of you holding hands. Your 40 years of marriage inspired me on my wedding day and will continue to inspire me for many years to come."

Be open. After attending a special moment in some one's life, the attendees are usually very excited to hear how the time was viewed through the person's eyes. Include in your thank you note just a few lines about what made the day special for you and how you will look back on the memories. For example, "We feel so blessed by the people who supported us on our wedding day; it was an honor to walk down the aisle surrounded by the love and support of our family and friends. I will always treasure the moment I walked into the church and saw the congregation stand to honor the beginning of our life together.

Art Of The Oral Thank You

Stop other activities. When offering an oral thank you in a formal setting, always be sure to stop all else and give your full attention to the person you are thanking. This shows them that they are valued and that you are thinking through, and therefore meaning, your words. Even in the middle of a crowded event, you can have a meaningful moment if you stop what you are doing to focus on the person to who you are grateful.

Explain why you are grateful. Do not settle for a simple thank you statement; take a moment to explain to the person why you are thanking them and what difference their actions have made. Giving people your full attention and truly taking the time to let them know what they have done and why you are so grateful gives others a sense of how much they have meant to you.

Touch and eye contact. When thanking someone in person, always make eye contact. Sometimes a formal, oral thank you can make you feel uncomfortable , especially if you are not used to it, but always maintain eye contact so as to let the other person know you are both serious and sincere. In addition, when appropriate, an oral thank you can come with a hug or pat on the back to show your appreciation.

Be honest. It does no one good to exaggerate some one's meaning or contribution to your event. Be honest, acknowledge some one's presence, and thank them appropriately. A sincere thank you that truthfully represents a person's meaning in your life will resonate much more deeply than an exaggerated thank you both parties know is false.

Graduation And Other Milestone Events

Acknowledge the giver's attendance and gift. A formal written thank you should include a specific acknowledgement of some one's presence at the event and a specific acknowledgement of their gift. For example, "It meant a great deal to me that you were in the audience at my graduation ceremony: your support has always been very important to me. I would also like to thank you for_________, which will be of great use to me as I enter this new stage of life."

Send it promptly. Formal thank you notes should be in the mail no more than two weeks after an event. One way to keep to this guideline is to determine that you will not use any gift until you have sent a formal thank you for it. This will motivate you to get those thank you notes out in the mail.

Mingle. While this may not seem like a formal thank you, it is an imperative part of a formal occasion. Speaking to a guest and orally thanking them does not replace a written thank you, but is shows each person that you are pleased they could join you and that you value their presence. Avoid sticking to those people you know best, and instead make sure you circulate an speak to each guest, making everyone feel welcome. It will also ensure that you have a moment to reference later in the written thank you note.

Cont'd Communion, Baptist And Other Religious Events

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How Do We Say - Thank - You

Sunday night my daughter and her boyfriend came over and she bought me these beautiful roses. She said mommy these are for you because I just wanted to say Thank You... of course I had to double check to make sure she wasn't trying to give me these flowers for my birthday (however, I still would have been thankful)..

Since we have enter into the month of November we always begin with thinking about Thanksgiving what we are going to prepare, family getting together. We start thinking about what we are thankful for.

How do we begin to say Thank You - whether you are in business, friendship, family, or just associates we always want to let people know that we appreciate anything and everything that they have done for us in the past as well as coming into the future:

Business Thank- Yous:

There are many different kinds of business relationships; therefore the appropriate expression of thanks will vary. The importance of expressing that thanks, though, never changes. Consider how you can improve your office morale by implementing some of these easy expressions of gratitude in your business or place of employment.


Notes- It's a good idea to keep a few thank you notes in your desk drawer. When a fellow staff members steps out of the office or away from their desk, leave a note to surprise them when they return. The thought and and appreciation will go a long way in building strong relationships in the workplace.

Email - While email may not seem like the most personal way to say thank-you, it can be a great way to make a statement. If you have noticed someone doing a wonderful job or someone who has really helped you on a project for which you received the credit, be sure to send them an email acknowledging their hard work and praising their efforts. Copy the email to their supervisor.

Lunch - Everyone enjoys a lunch away from the stress of the office. Thank a co-worker who has done something nice for you by taking them out to lunch somewhere. It doesn't need to be somewhere expensive; it can just be sandwiches at a shop down the street. They will just appreciate the gesture and the chance to unwind.


Time off - Nothing says thank you to an overworked staff like a surprise afternoon off. If your employees have been working hard and performing well, reward them with a free afternoon. They will come back grateful, refreshed, and ready to keep on working hard.

Single out special work - Don't be afraid to acknowledge specific individuals who have performed above and beyond their job duties. Thanking or rewarding employees who go the extra mile will encourage them to do so in the future, and will let them know that they are valued and appreciated. Sometimes individual attention or acknowledgement is in order. Don't shy away from it for fear of making others feel left out.

Romantic - Thank - Yous

Long-Term Relationships

Change the routine. Express your happiness and gratitude by trying something out of the ordinary; check out a new restaurant, show, or unusual event. Breaking out of the routine can bring a new excitement to the relationship and will genuinely surprise your significant other.

Unexpected notes. Leave a loving note somewhere, such as one on the front seat of their car or in their wallet. A short note of appreciation can brighten their whole day.

Share the load. If you know your spouse or significant other hates a particular chore or duty, volunteer to take it over for a week. Thank them by giving the gift of freedom from the task they like the least.

New Relationships-

Small tokens. In the beginning stages of a new relationship, you want to say thanks without too much ado. A small token, then, such as a simple card or picking up the tab on a shared meal can be a nice, but not overdone, thank you.

Post-date call. After a special evening out, call the very same night to express your thanks and let them know how much you have enjoyed your time with them.

Say the words. Good communication is important to all relationships, and its is particularly vital to orally express your thanks in a new and developing relationship. However else you may decide to express thank you, make sure you also say it.


Discounts/bonuses - Express your thanks to loyal customers by giving them special discounts or bonuses not provided to the general public. Choose those extra-special people who have been loyal to your company and then determine the best kind of discount or bonus for their individual needs. This special thank you will keep them happy and coming back for a long time to come.

Bend a policy - Say thank you to customers who have developed a good business relationship with your company by being willing to bend the policy when necessary. Don't break the rules, but know the amount of leeway you have and use if for those customers who have earned the special treatment.

Special hours- Thank customers by providing them with special hours to meet their needs. If a customer is faithfully using your company for all their needs, be sure your company caters hours and schedules around the needs of the customer as well. Creating that sense of partnership with the customer will create a positive business relationship.


Include them - Vendors often develop positive relationships with the staff and would enjoy being included in staff functions and events. Be sure to thank them for their hard work and service by including them in special occasions and making them feel like a vital part of the team.

Bonus items - Vendors of all sorts can appreciate bonus items such as gift certificates or monetary bonuses. If a vendor has exceeded expectations and acted as a valuable asset to the company, consider thanking them in a monetary way. This will often have the biggest impact and let them know exactly how appreciated their services are.

Give a recommendation - In many cases, you are not the only business a vendor is working with; say thank you to extra-special vendors by either referring other businesses to them or providing them with a letter of recommendation that they can show other businesses when seeking additional work.

Next - Formal Thank Yous

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Be A Cookie-Cutter Groom!‏

This week we’d like to discuss formal wear, in other words, tuxedos. And you’ll have to admit that grooms and their bridal parties are addicted to them. After all, you rarely see the guys wearing anything but tuxedos at their weddings.

Our question? WHY? (Can you imagine brides going to formal-wear stores to rent the same style gown for their weddings? That would be the day! : -)

Let’s define tuxedos. They are “formal wear” and that means they should only be worn to formal or semi-formal, evening weddings (after 6 p.m.), hence THE term.

Why then do we see them at weddings held in morning and afternoon? In one of our old wedding books, the author states, “A tuxedo before six o’clock?” NEVER!” And we agree.

Weddings held in mornings and afternoons warrant strollers and/or morning coats, which are elegant suits most times grey, the latter worn with ascots and vests. They’re absolutely fabulous and unique.

Most weddings are semi-formal meaning that the groom does have options other than that old black tux. What about a dark navy or grey business suit with a white or ivory shirt and striped tie? There’s nothing wrong with it. Elegant suits are perfectly appropriate for that semi-formal wedding.

Or how about the white dinner jacket? It’s just the ticket for the semi-formal wedding, or the formal wedding that’s held in tropical climates or in summer. It’s worn with white shirt and black bowtie and cummerbund, or it’s worn with a cummerbund and bowtie in a subtle print. The white dinner jacket is a “light” look, and it’s just as elegant as a tux!

For those who are not tuxedo obsessed? How about the coolness of a white linen suit for those semi-formal weddings held in summer, for example, or in the Caribbean?

The bottom line is this: Your bride-to-be doesn’t want to look like every other bride who walks down the aisle—and you shouldn’t want to look like every other groom! Now you know your options, exercise them!

Happy Wedding Planning!

Provided by AAWP

Saturday, October 31, 2009

25 Ways to Make Your Wedding a Unique and Truly Memorable

If you've been to one wedding, you've seen it all. From the flowers and the candles to the dress and the music, the typical wedding can be as predictable and generic as your Uncle Leo's dance moves. For your wedding to stand out, you need to involve your guests in the sentiment and process of the day. It's not the cake or the great food that will be remembered, but all the little details that will make your wedding as unique and memorable for your guests as it will be for you. These 25 ideas on how to personalize your day will make it the event that will be talked about for years to come:

1. Write a welcome note for your out-of-town guests on postcards from the city your wedding takes place. It's a nice personal touch that shows tremendous thought as well as a keepsake that can be saved with photos of the wedding.

2. Include an "About the Wedding Party" section in your programs or on the reception tables for your guests to learn more about the members of your bridal party. Not everyone will know that you and your Maid of Honor have been best friends since preschool.

3. Hang your dress on a pretty silk coat hanger the day of your wedding. People will be taking photographs of the dress before you put it on and you'd like to avoid having it on an old wire coat hanger.

4. Send your invitations to Loveville, Maryland first -- they've developed special wedding postmarks that add a nice "love" touch to your envelope. Call 301-475-5243 for details.

5. Invite the President, Pope, and the Queen of England for a special wedding surprise. Be sure to send their invites out early.

6. If you're planning on taking pictures prior to the ceremony, clear everyone out of the ceremony site and have your groom at the end of the aisle. Walk down the aisle, so it's only the two of you. It's a very sweet and special moment that you can share... and the pictures of the tears in his eyes will be priceless.

7. Place tissues or personalized embroidered handkerchiefs in the rows where family will be seated for their "tears of joy".

8. Write a letter to your mom and dad and have it waiting for them at their seat during the ceremony. It could be about anything: a thank you, how you hope your marriage turns out like theirs, your gratitude everything they have done for you, etc. They will be so touched and honored that you took the time to arrange for this and you'll have them in tears before you begin to walk down the aisle!

9. Have each bridesmaid carry a bouquet made entirely of their favorite flower. Your bouquet will be a combination of all of their flowers.

10. Dress your flowergirl in a bright color rather than a replica of your dress so that the dress can be worn again.

11. Read your vows to candlelight. All your guests will receive a candle on their way into the ceremony. When it comes time for the vows, have your ushers or groomsmen go around and light the candle at the end of the row and let them "pass the flame." It's a nice romantic touch to a very sentimental and powerful moment.

12. For family members who have passed away or cannot physically be there with you, wear something of theirs so that they are with you. It could be a lapel pin tied to the ribbon of your bouquet, your great aunt's pearls, or your grandmother's handkerchief.

13. Pick a special ceremony start time, like 5:17 -- the exact time he proposed to you.

14. Serve your cocktails from a "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" menu. Take recommendations from special people involved in the wedding for their favorite old/classic drink, a new/modern drink, a favorite borrowed unique drink recipe, and a blue cocktail. It's a festive way to get the party started!

15. If an ice sculpture is a must have, go for a martini luge. It's a great accent to every bar and it will certainly give your guests something to talk about!

16. Write special love quotes on the inside of everyone's place cards.

17. Forget the clinking glasses and ringing bells. Have your guests sing loves songs to get you and your groom to smooch during the reception.

18. Have guests sign a tablecloth or guest book platter to be used at special dinners in the future in lieu of a guestbook.

19. Set small photo albums, notecards and a disposable camera at each table. Create a sign asking each guest to write some words of wisdom on the notecards and put the card into the photo album.
Make sure they take a photo of everyone at the table. After the wedding you can combine the notecard on the same page as the photograph and you'll have a special keepsake of every guest at your wedding.

20. Be sure to have your parents and married siblings first dances played at the reception- and make sure the DJ or band recognizes them when its played!

21. Rather than doing the money dance, do a "wish dance". The bride and groom start off dancing together, then guests cut in for 10-20 seconds of dancing and their chance to give you any last minute marriage advice and parting words.

22. Assign table numbers by age and accent the decor with pictures of you and fiancé from that time. For table sixteen you could show pictures of your fiancé with his new car and you at your sweet 16 birthday party.

23. Be sure to have a kid oriented table. Lay down block paper for them to draw on, have them make you cards, serve hot dogs, chicken fingers, ice cream sundaes. Perhaps even have a side room for them with Disney movies playing or a magician for entertainment. Your guests will love you for getting the kids out of their hair for the night!

24. Wrap a "keep out" or "no trespassing" sign around your leg outside of the garter. Your groom will find a shocking surprise when he dives in and your guests will find it to be quite humorous!

25. Race through a tunnel of swords, ski poles, sparklers or boat oars for a different grand exit.

Remember that this wedding is about celebrating your love and inviting your family and friends to see a glimpse of who you are. Don't be afraid to do things a little differently... your guests will appreciate and remember your day all the more for it!

Provided by Ashley Rader is the owner and editor for Moments of Elegance Bridal,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to Create Memorable Occassions

Who? Everyone wants to give the perfect gift. Prepaid catalogs are the way to go. There is something for everyone.

What? The gift giver selects one of our prepaid catalogs to give. The catalog recipient chooses the gift he or she wants online and redeems it. The selected gift is delivered directly to the recipient.

When? Birthdays, weddings, new baby, hostess/thank you, holidays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day. And many, many more personal occasions are perfect to give a Prepaid catalog.

Why? Popular brand names like adidas®, Sony®, Ghirardelli®, Cuisinart®, and more. Huge selection of home décor, gourmet foods, electronics, educational toys, jewelry, and more. Fast and easy ordering and redemption. Prepaid catalogs are a joy to give, a pleasure to receive.

For More Information Email


We would like to announce that we are looking for Special Couples... Gala Affairs has chosen to expand our search to reach out above and beyond for couples who Take The Next Step (TTNS).

These Special Couples that we are looking for are individuals who stepped in and provided support for the family. Whether you are the biological parent or the stepparent. If you are ready to be husbands, wives, fathers and mothers to everyone in the household than you are who we want for our event.

These Special Couples will be chosen to be joined by matrimony in front of a select number of friends and families.

Please email us at "eventsaturbest@gmail. " In The Subject Line put SPECIAL COUPLES WANTED" to receive a special application.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Gala Affairs By AtUrBest
We are doing it again

Join Us

Carolina Premium Outlet
1025 Industrial Park Drive
Smithfield, NC 27577 US

When: Thursday, November 26, 8:30PM

Cost: $60.00 per person

Bus Pick Up & Drop Off
Weeping Willow AME Zion Church
2220 Milton Road
Charlotte, NC 28215
Bus Leaves 8:30 p.m. Returns 8:30 a.m.

Designer Fahisons & Sportswear, Shoes, Children Clothes, Fine Leather, Luggage, Accessories and Jewelry, Housewares, etc.

Wedding Planning 101

Once you have established your budget and your checklist, it's time to make it real! If funds are in place, you can probably make your dream come true with six months' lead time, possibly less (and possibly more, depending on the complexity of your affair). Below, tips for the planning. If you are not your own wedding planner, may this advice empower you to keep your wedding planner on track and working in your best interests.

Meditate on the style and overall tone and energy you want for your day. High formality? Offbeat elegance? Casual chic?

Play Dress-up!
If you are going to have a bridal party, give your hoped-for attendants plenty of advance notice, laying out your expectations of them, so that they will have ample time and information to think it over before they commit. And don't assume that just because you ask they will -- or should -- say yes.

Next, the guest list. How large a guest list are you comfortable with? Two hundred? Fifty? Whatever your number, list all the couples and then all the singles, adding "+1" because no one wants to attend a wedding alone. (For heaven's sake, if you really want your single friends to come, allow them to bring a guest!) If you choose to include children in your celebration, make special plans for them. Have a separate child-friendly menu and special entertainment, possibly in another room. Make it so that the kids can be kids.

Location, Location, Location!
The Where often determines the When. The ballroom you have in mind may be booked on your first-choice wedding date -- or perhaps it is available but the church you desire is not. It's important to secure your location as soon as possible to increase the likelihood of having your celebration on your first- or second-choice day.

Yes, You Can but . . . May You?
Find out if any element of your wedding requires a permit. And don't forget that marriage license! Most states no longer require a blood test, and a license can usually be obtained in one to three days. Keep in mind that some marriage licenses will expire if not filed within thirty days. So be sure to read all the fine print.

Book Your Vendors
Contract with all the individuals and establishments you need to make everything on your checklist happen, from caterer, florist, and DJ to photographer and make-up artist. Do not dawdle. To secure top talent, you may need to book the person six months or more in advance. Remember, never, ever sacrifice quality for quantity. If necessary, scale back the scope of your wedding to get the best professionals your pocketbook will allow.

Organize It
Purchase a three-ring binder with indexable dividers, a pack (or two) of three-hole paper, and a pack (or two) of sheet protectors. Devote one section to each component of your wedding, from "Bridal Attire," "Ceremony," "Reception," and "Stationery" on and on to "Et Cetera, Et Cetera" and "Budget."

Use the lined paper in each section to log all communications, decisions, and transactions on items.

Use sheet protectors for the following:
• Clippings and photographs of elements you'd like incorporated in your gown (the neckline of one couture gown; the bell sleeves of another, for example), your wedding cake, the reception space, and other aspects of the celebration.
• Correspondence, estimates, invoices, and other vendor-related paperwork. Having a paper trail on everything is a must!

Budget Check
Every time you make a decision, reconcile your budget.

Make That Call to Attend!
The standard mail date for invitations is at least six weeks before the wedding. For save-the-date cards, at least six months.

Make Your Gift Wish List
If you are comfortable having a gift registry, plan on giving it a full day, as it is very time-consuming. Fortunately, many retailers now offer scanners so you can easily select items for your registry. However, you must still comb each department to personally select your preferences. Also, most retailers offer a limited online registry. But please do not insert gift registry instructions inside your wedding invitations. I believe that your guests should still have the freedom to buy you whatever they would like for your wedding. I always keep wedding registry information on hand for my clients, and most guests will call and ask. The only exception is when you are asking guests not to bring a gift. And for heaven's sake, don't even think about asking for monetary gifts . . . poor taste!

Provided by Diann Valentine

Do you or someone you know think you have what it takes to be on America's top-rated wedding show?

Do you or someone you know think you have what it takes to
be on America’s top-rated wedding show?

• Are you planning a wedding between November 2009 and May 2010?
• Are your wedding preparations getting out of control?
• Are you struggling with the cooperation of your wedding party, fiancé or in-laws?
• Are you doing everything in your power to make sure your wedding day is perfect?
• Are you ready to share your story with other women who’ve been or will be in your shoes?


If your wedding falls within the dates above & you’d like to be considered
for an episode, email the below to



Lastly, please email us a couple photos of you and your fiancé

Info provided by Kern County Bridal Association -

Friday, October 23, 2009

African Wedding Cultural Traditions - Egypt

In Egypt girls are given in marriage at a very young age, usually around 12 to 15. Usually cousins marry each other except singles in Cairo where a man, when he is ready to marry will turn to his mother and sisters who help him or find a matchmaker to assist. When a woman is asked to be married she hires a negotiator and this person or a female relative will negotiate with the grooms family on a bride price and date for the ceremony.

Sometimes, as soon as an agreement takes place the couple is married without ceremony. Usually, the night of the ceremony day the groom and his friends will bring a portion of the bride price and the ceremony is performed. The bride and groom sit face to face with their right thumbs together a reader of the Koran will tie their hands together with a handkerchief and pray for them. However, after this day the couple does not live together until a few days later the groom welcomes the bride into his home and friends and family come to congratulate them. Ethiopia In Ethiopia the Karo people enhance a young brides beauty by tattooing her abdomen with different symbols.

Amhara people most marriages are negotiated by the two families, with a civil ceremony sealing the contract. A priest may be present. Divorce is allowed and must also be negotiated. There is also a "temporary marriage," by oral contract before witnesses. The woman is paid housekeeper's wages, and is not eligible for inheritance, but children of the marriage are legally recognized and qualify for inheritance. Priests may marry but not eligible for divorce or remarriage.

Kenya The Massai people of Kenya grow up with children of their own age and normally form relationships with these people. However, in marriage women are given to a man they do not know who is much older then themselves. The bride packs all her belongings and is dressed in her finest jewelry. At the marriage ceremony the father of the bride spits on the brides head and breasts as a blessing and then she leaves with her husband walking to her new home she never looks back fearing that she will turn to stone. This can be a very sad experience for the bride, who is 13-16 years old and may walk a long way to get to her new house. In order to ward off bad luck sometimes the women of the grooms family will even insult the bride.

The Swahili of Kenya bathe brides in sandalwood oils and tatoo henna designs on her limbs. A women elder, or somo, gives instructions to the bride on how to please her husband. Sometimes the somo will even hide under the bed in case there are any problems! In another area of Kenya the main feature of the wedding is the kupamba, which happens the night after the wedding, it is basically a display of the bride. It is very popular because it is a party just for the women, and when they enter the party they are able to take off their large veils and show off elaborate hairstyles and dresses. The party can almost become a competition because it is believed that if a women has a good husband he will get her beautiful jewelry and clothes.

For the Samburu tribe marriage is a unique series of elaborate ritual. Great importance is given to the preparation of gifts by the bridegroom (two goatskins, two copper earrings, a container for milk, a sheep) and of gifts for the ceremony. The marriage is concluded when a bull enters a hut guarded by the bride's mother, and is killed.

Namibia The Himba people of Namibia kidnap a bride before the ceremony and dress her in a leather marriage headdress. After the ceremony she is brought into the house where the family tells her what her responsibilities will be as the wife and then anoint her with butterfat from cows. This shows that she has been accepted into the family. Niger The Wodabee of Niger court their cousins for marriage. The male cousins wear powerful amulets which are supposed to heighten their attractiveness to the girl. If there are two cousins who desire the same girl the girl chooses the one she wishes and the other man is welcomed into the home of the couple, and if consent is given by the bride he may even share her bed!

Nigeria The wedding process begins in many areas of Nigeria with a feast held by the families of the bride and groom where they get to know each other. At that time the grooms family gives the brides family gifts. Then the bride comes to live with the grooms family, if that goes well then a marriage ceremony is held. In tribal areas of Nigeria a husband is never allowed to call his wife by her name. Only relatives and and the mother's children are allowed to call the wife by her name. A woman is called by the name of her father.

Before a marriage ceremony the village gets together and sings that the bride is about to be married. She is carried into a small hut where she stays until her husband joins her and the marriage is consummated. The groom can only enter the hut after he has given gifts to all the guests. The next day a goat is killed and it's blood is poured over the threshold. The girl's mother asks her if she is pleased with her husband and then singing and dancing take place and people can pay 1 penny to see the bride and another penny if they want to rub her body with camwood which is a sign of good luck.

Somalia In Somalia there are marriage laws that are in place. These laws are very similar to Muslim marriage laws except that a man may have 4 wives in Somali laws if he is able to provide for them all. Also, women can become engaged to a man before she is even born. This arrangement is made between the man and the expecting parents and a small gift is given to the parents. Later on a larger gift called the yarad is given to the parents as payment for the bride. If the bride dies before the wedding the gift must be returned. When it becomes time for the ceremony most of the yarad is returned to the brides parents and a dowry is settled.

This is very important because if the wife's husband dies or there is a divorce the dowry is given back to the bride. Sudan The Neur people of southern Sudan the groom must pay 20-40 cattle, the marriage is completed only after the wife has born 2 children. If the wife only bears one child and the husband asks for a divorce he can also ask for either the return of the cattle or the first child. Divorce therefore is very difficult. Another interesting fact is that if a husband dies then the husbands family must provide a brother to the widow and any children born to the brother are considered the deceased's children

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Knockout Entrepreneur By George Foreman with Ken Abraham

George Foreman has proven that a good business mind can lead to a successful career. It’s hard not to believe that everything this man touches turns to gold. In Knockout Entrepreneur George Foreman has provided us with a vision to push for success in your life. If you are willing to do the hard work, follow through with your dreams you can achieve to a higher level in your life. George allows us to seize the opportunity to step out on faith.

George Foreman, World Heavyweight Champion well known author, the meinkee muffler spokesman, casual male clothing line, cleaning products and lets not forget his most important product the George Foreman lean mean grilling machine has proven great success.

George provides us with a plethora of real-life experiences you can follow his career just like a road map. He has taken all his accomplishments and his failures and showed us how to build the blueprint to begin a successful business or a successful career. His positive attitude is uplifting and inspirational.

When George use symbolism in his book he always uses the true life stories of a poeople that over the years they have gone the extra steps to achieve successful companies.

This book is for the entrepreneur but actually I believe everyone can take his advice and make it work for their life. George is not affair to let you know that without God his life would not have gotten him where he is to day. I recommend everyone reads this book.

This is an excellent motivational tool.

Review provided by a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program.

A Question From A Bride To Be.....

Can my finance and I open our gifts at the reception...

A wedding reception is a time of feasting and celebration. It is not a time to burden those (who are out of the loop) with the tedious task of watching the bride and groom Ooooh! and Awwwe! over the gifts they’ve received at their wedding.

Can you imagine how boring it would be if your friends invited you over on Christmas Day or during Chanukah to watch them open their gifts? Well, it’s the same difference.

But there’s more:

According to the rules of etiquette, guests aren’t required to bring a gift to the wedding. Many send them ahead of time, others send them afterward. In fact, according to the etiquette gurus, it’s perfectly appropriate to send a gift up to one year after the wedding date.

So what happens to those guests who are standing around watching the bride and groom open everyone’s gifts but theirs? And what about those who can only afford a can-opener and not a plasma TV? What about their embarrassment and hurt feelings?

Well everyone in Wedding World, I guess you get our drift. It’s just not gracious to open gifts at your wedding reception. In summary: it’s boring, it’s tacky, and for some, it can be embarrassing and hurtful.

Save the gift opening for home to be shared with your families—and with each other! That’s the way it should be!

Happy wedding planning!

Monday, October 19, 2009

We Are Doing Again.... Midnight Madness--- Thanksgiving Night

Calling All Holiday Shoppers... Gala Affairs by AtUrBest Presents - Midnight Madness
Thanksgiving Night - Carolina Premium Outlet

Tickets $ 60.00

Bus Pick Up & Drop Off
New Super Wal-Mart Parking Lot
7701 North Tryon, Charlotte, NC
Bus Leaves 8:30 p.m. Returns 8:30 a.m.
Shopping and Breakfast What A Deal

Designer Fahisons & Sportswear, Shoes, Children Clothes, Fine Leather, Luggage, Accessories and Jewelry, Housewares, etc....


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cont'd "Birthday Weekend Celebration

OK so I am back... I have tried to do this from memory but I realized I was going to forget certain things... So I am treating this party just like any other event or wedding.. Just so I can stay on point.

Now lets pull out the Budget Planner... because really the budget is way below the red line- and yes I am taking donations from the children... I mean really its their Daddy's Party (and you know how girls feel about their Daddy)..

So I explain to both of them in order to have a wonderful event we need to start with the budget.. (my oldest famous line --I will give you my last $20.00) see what you can do with that -- of course you know what I told her...

Your Party Planning Checklist and Your Budget sheet will work together just like planning a wedding stick to your budget "Set a realistic spending goal".

Decorations Checklist, Drink Calculator

Remember this is just my standard planning checklist that I use for my events...

Party Planning Checklist:


_______Linens ______ Cloths (to floor?) _____ Napkins, Colors
_______Menu Planning ______ Cake
_______Votives, Votive Candles
_______Napkin Rings
_______Table Candy
_______Table Games
_______Glitter or Confetti
_______Bathroom Florals ______Other locations

INVITATIONS/RSVP/Other Printed Items

_______Invitation to Ceremony, Party, Benefit or Main Event
_______Invitation to Reception (if applicable)
_______Response Card _____ Response Envelope
_______Bus. Card ______Kids Only ______ Out of Town Guests
_______Donation Card
_______Directional Card
_______Other... ______Luncheon _____Brunch or __________________
_______Calligraphy _____ Invitations _____ Seating Cards
_______Cocktail Napkins ________Matches
_______Programs ____Agenda _____ Newsletter


_______Glow _____Necklace ______Earrings ____Glasses
_______Theme Oriented Itesm
_______Premiums (items with company logo for corporate event)


_______Photographer ______Videographer
_______Candles (candlelighting, other)
_______Dress Determination
_______Casual ____ Dressy Casual _____Dressy _____


______Hotel Reservations
______Weekend-at-a-Glance or Itinerary
______Maps (to/from airport; other, locations)
______Welcome Gifts, Totes, Baskets
______2nd Mailing to Out-Of-Town Guests _____Calligraphy
______Tickets to local attractions


______Sign-In- Board or Sign In Book
______Message Book
______Welcome Sign
______Entrance Piece At Door
______Band Backdrop
______Balloon Bouquets
______Ceiling Treatment(s)
______Outside lobby Area
______Sign Over Seating Cards
______Directional Signage
______Other... Theme Oriented
______Company Display (if applicable)


______Band Type ________
______Music During Cocktails
______Balloon Magic
______Clowns _____Jugglers ______Mimes Other _______
______Photo Favors
______Special Presentation: Who to emcee?_________ Who to present? ________
______Roasts ______Toasts ________Audio/Visual Needs?

***More to come*****

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Birthday Celebration "50" Milestone....

I want to thank everyone for their help with the ideas --- We are going with the Basketball Theme....

So I want to begin first and say the invites of course are not ready to go out... They will be by the weekend... I guess I was really waiting until I had a theme, however, the invites do not match the theme.... I guess I should had waited before I had purchasing them... but being an event planner when we see good opportunities to purchase our supplies when they are on sale we do... and of course I had nothing "macho man" looking but we are going with what we have....

Some now looking for a place to host the event... Well I had already found a reasonable place. Now we are going to be responsible for our decorating of the facility and we can bring in our own caterer.. The thing about using some places you have to use their on site caterers now some people feel this is best because they don't have to worry about looking for outside helpers.

We have to provide our own alcohol as well as a bartender (we will be interviewing for the bartenders) if you have anyone in mind in the Charlotte area please have them email me at :

We are expecting about 75 guest mostly from out of state most of the guys use to be on his basketball team (so of course I am going to try and get a couple of basketballs and let them go to the gym and play a game).. of course my daughter said I need to get them some chairs so they can watch the younger boys play the game...l.o.l.

Oohs the birthday boy is coming I will follow up later.....

Friday, October 2, 2009

Congrats.... Gala Affairs By AtUrBest

Good Job... producing your event.... can't wait till the next one is kick off....

Amanda -
Congratulations on a very successful event. It was a please being a part of the evening.
I enjoyed your family, I hope your mom finally gets to rest. Sorry that I could not stay - I hope you understand. Here are some photo's of the evening unfortunately I forgot to charge my battery. I took alot of photo's on your Aunt Bee's camera - so check with her before she leaves. Give my best to you family. I wish them safe travels.
Phyllis Shelton

Hello Amanda

I am back on earth now, I have been on cloud 10 since last week. I want to thank you for sharing that wonderful event with me. I have never attended an event like that before. It was wonderful. You did a great job at putting the event together. The brides were so beautiful, the reception was great, and the food was very tasty. It may not have been what you wanted it to be but you did a great service for some one. Remember it is not what you do for yourself, but it is what you do for others will live on. Your works will speak for you. Many years from now some one will remember the good works you did, even when you think it was nothing. Remember God looks at your heart, and He looks way down inside a person and always pull out the good. Man looks on the outside and never see any good in one another. Keep doing what you are doing for others, you may never get a penny, but your pay will come through the blessings of God.
I was blessed to be in CTL and look forward to visiting again soon.Give my love to everyone and agaiin I must say you did a very very good job, as I say to my students I give you an A+.
Love always
Beatrice Hollins

Gala Affairs By AtUrBest
I heard about the wonderful event that you produced...I am interested in speaking with you about My lovely daughter she found her heartthrob early last year and they are going to wed by 23rd January 2010. For the love i have for my daughter, i decided to carter for the wedding as a surprise package for her and her fiance..

Please i want you to handle the wedding arrangements on their behalf Please get back to me with any of the services which you can provide as regards the wedding arrangement of my daughter.
Dr. Denise Brown


Despite a few little snags, I think that the couples were pleased with the event. I have quite a bit booked for the next two weeks, but I will try and put something together for you as soon as I can.Sheldon

Well Amanda ~
Thank you!! Your accolades seem over the top for what we actually did....but they are appreciated! Glad everyone enjoyed the wedding. I am so used to the unusual that it doesn't seem unusual to me any more.
Girlfrien', your own efforts to bring this event to life were unbelievable!! I could scarcely believe how many balls you were juggling in the air at one time, and trouble-shooting on top of that! You really are a gifted woman, and I pray for you success in ALL your endeavors (I don't know how you keep up with them!!!)
I believe that the wrinkles in yesterday's experiential fabric can be easily ironed out for next year. Let me know if you would like my continued involvement next year. And I so enjoyed working with, and getting to know "Aunt Bea". Plus, your "Assistant", Peaches, (is that her name?) is a delightful human being....full of sassy creative sprite-like humor.
Thank YOU for all your patience, and competent handling of a VERY big plate of circumstances.
Now...............GO TAKE CARE OF AMANDA, AND GIVE HER A LITTLE "ME TIME"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eternity Wedding Ceremonies

Thursday, October 1, 2009

50 Birthday Celebration

Hello Everyone,

Well we have finished with our MYBDD wedding. It was a wonderful event I am glad the couples were able to tie the knot and move on with their lives... Now on to our next event...

We will start out with the planning of my husband's "50" Birthday Celebration so I will be looking for ideas for the "Old Basketball player that use to shoot the balls sky high in to the hoop.... Henceforth getting the nick name "Sky Walker" because of his jump shots... well it has been a long long time since he has jumped that high...

We are celebrating the weekend of November 27 thur November 29, 2009 with family and friends coming down to surprise him... So please keep it a secret.... So lets see what kind of theme should we go with... I thought about he Basketball theme, I thought about the NY theme, I also thought about the Karate theme for all of his close friends you know he loved his Karate I have a short time frame to get all of this planned... any suggestions please let me know...

Email me at

For those that need ideas for a "50th Celebration"

you can use these ideas....

The Rock'n Fifties 50s party is so popular that we have dedicated this entire section to Rock'n Fifties 50s birthday party ideas.

Read through the Rock'n Fifties 50s party ideas and incorporate the best birthday party ideas into your party. Create your own party plan and remember to include invitations, decorations, games, activities, party food, beverages, party cake, party snacks, gift bag favors and costumes.

Back to the Teen Years (heres what a friend did)

She threw a surprise party for her mother's 50th birthday. Since she "came of age" in the 1950s, I had a 50s theme. The invitation read "[her name] is going back to the 50s!" I encouraged guests to come dressed in 50s style. I even bought a few cheap accessories so she could dress 50s-style (like bright red lipstick, cheap white canvas shoes and funky shades). I bought her a book on the 50s. She loved it. To cut back on expenses, I made some nice pasta and bean salads, served punch (no booze). Try making up a 50s trivia quiz. If he was a younger kid in the 50s, try themes like Howdy Doody, Davy Crockett, Roy Rogers, Mousketters, etc. Since he's a guy, buy him a 1950s car as a gag gift (Matchbox or Hotwheels, of course).

A "Genuine Antique Person"

Have a "Genuine Antique Person" party. Although it is still more of a jest at 50, it is original and has many possibilities for decorating. If you try for an aged country theme you can simulate the air of antiquity fairly cheaply. Fill small metal pails with flowers for centerpieces. You can buy small wooden wheelbarrows in craft stores to paint and scatter in the function room for decoration. Use candles generously. Scour yard sales and flea markets for "antiques" - wooden wheels, hurricane lamps, weather vanes, let your imagination go. Renaissance Foil has an antiquing product that you can apply to many surfaces, creating aged-looking pails, bowls and candlesticks, which you can find at craft stores. Place squares of dusty blue, green, and red (the shades that are common in "country" decorating) fabric and permanent markers at each table for people to sign and make an "antique person" wishes quilt. Make chocolates for favors using country molds.

Choose His Favorite

I am also saving and planning a surprise 50th for my husband. He loves to go fishing, so I have decided to use fishing for the theme and use his fishing stuff for the decorations. This not only saves a lot of money, but I know he will enjoy it.Pick something that your husband enjoys and go with it, the possibilities are endless. You will save money, time, and he will use what you choose.

Imitation is the Highest Form...

This Is Your Life
Instead of having an "over the hill" party, I suggest having a "this is your life party." Along with the invitation ask your guests to return a questionaire in which you have asked some variation of the following:

2.My favorite thing about Fred (use guest of honors name) is ______________.

3.The funniest thing I ever saw Fred do was when he _________________.

4.The happiest I ever saw Fred was when he____________________.

5.The dumbest thing I ever saw Fred do was____________________.

6.Fred drives me crazy when he _______________.

7.My most memorable moment with Fred was ____________________.

8.List five words that describe Fred.

You may to make up your own questions or add to these. You may also want to ask the party guests to share a favorite photo of or story about the guest of honor. The hardest part is deciding how to share this information with guests. You may want to have them put these answers on video, have a slide show, have the party guests read the stories or quips out loud, or invite several special people to tell their stories. If you feel awkward acting as an MC, then ask a good friend or minister to do it for you. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for planning .

The best part of a party like this is that everyone can participate - children, grandchildren, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, old friends, new friends and spouses. You can also put the answers, stories, and photos in a scrapbook for the guest of honor to keep.

You will have some laughs and you may even shed a tear or two, because memories are a truly special gift which make getting older worth it.

Memory Lane

Awhile back my aunt had a 50th party for my uncle. It was great. Her theme was " A Ride Down Memory Lane". She collected photos from friends and relatives and put them all over the house. She even invited his best friend from where he grew up. She had a baby picture and a picture of him in the service, and a picture of them in their dating years blown up and made into posters. The cake was decorated to look like the house he grew up in. But best of all, and this might sound alittle corny, but she had all these old games. Like marbles, spin the bottle, checkers ect..You should have seen all of us grown up kids, nieces and nephews playing marbles. I never knew that was supposed to be a game. And spin the bottle with your favorite uncle was OK too. He said he never had so many pretty girls kiss him in front of his wife and her not get mad.

But to top the evening off another uncle had just restored an old car that was from the time frame of his teens. So they drove around town in it. And even though we all told them to come straight back to cut the cake, they were gone for along time...We still pick on them about going out an necking..Anyway he still talks about that birthday as the best one yet, and all of us really enjoyed the real ride down memory lane. It was just wonderful to see all those pictures of the early years and to hear his stories that went along with them.

Black and White

For the person looking for a good 50th birthday party idea..... Have all of the guests dress in black and then be sure that the guest of honor dresses in white (or vice versa - guests in white and guest of honor in black) - either way it makes for a fun evening - the guest of honor is immediately recognizable and the pictures look great!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall Wedding Centerpieces

Weddings are so special and what better time of year to celebrate than in the fall when everything is crisp and colorful. You can use the fall as part of your wedding theme and incorporate elements into your decor. One such place you can start off with is fall wedding centerpieces. There are hundreds of ideas you can choose from and plenty more you can make up on your own.

The fall wedding centerpieces will create the mood for your wedding reception. Most people notice the centerpieces when they walk into the reception room above anything else. They have to stand out and look fantastic. They must capture the mood of your special day. So how do you choose the centerpiece? Well, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Colors of the Fall
Using fall colors for your wedding reception as well as in the centerpieces is a great option. There are lots of warm colors and tones you can use like reds, maroons, gold, orange, bronze, copper and more. When you create your centerpieces based on some or all of the fall colors you can also include the fall wedding favors you are going to use. These could be candles around the centerpiece, little gift boxes hanging from the vase, or incense sticks inserted into the centerpiece.

Hanging Arrangements
If you want to do something a little unique, think about turning things upside down. Instead of having the centerpieces on the tables, hang them above rather. This way your guests will all get to chat easily and the effect will be stunning. You can use fruits, nuts, leaves and twigs to create the baskets and for a more rustic feel you can even use wicker baskets. You could spray them bronze or gold for a more elegant feel, or you could wrap them with fairy lights to make it more romantic.

Tall Centerpieces
If you want something more modern and simple, then you could go for tall centerpieces. These will be narrow so they take up little space on the table. You could use long twigs or twisted sticks sprayed in whichever colors you like, and place them into a long glass vase. Place this onto a mirror tile and stand a candle on it next to the vase. On the other side you can place a large flower head or perhaps and small bunch lying loosely. You might also choose to use three candles which can be bound together with twine.

Fall leaves are gorgeous and whilst they are there, why not use them? There are tons of things you can do with fall leaves to make your wedding centerpieces look wonderful. One idea is to spray a huge pile of leaves in the colors you want, or leave them the natural fall colors. Harden them and fill into glass vases which can be squared for a modern look. Then on the top you can place a layer of short flowers that you like or hang vines and longer flowers over the edge for a softer touch.

Well, there you have just a tiny portion of the ideas for fall wedding centerpieces. There are tons more that you can find online, or you can get creative and design some yourself. Use your favorite parts of fall, or incorporate something personal into the centerpieces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Your Fall Colors

When most people think of fall weddings, they picture a rustic style event, all done in the colors of the autumn leaves. While this is pretty, it is also expected, and also not the best choice for a more formal or polished wedding. Read on for advice on how to get away from the rustic fall colors, and how to plan your elegant fall wedding color palette.

There is no rule whatsoever that mandates that an autumn wedding take place in a barn, be decorated with pumpkins and mums, or involve haybales in any way, shape, or form. And yet, if you start looking for design and décor ideas for fall weddings, the chances are that 99% of what you find is geared towards that traditional rustic fall look. As an October bride myself, I am here to tell you that you can have a fabulous fall wedding that is seasonal, and yet avoids all of the autumnal cliches about the autumn colors.

Certainly, you should always take the season in account when planning your wedding color scheme. Red and green might be festive at Christmas, but just plain odd in July. The same is true for a fall wedding. A pastel color palette like lavender and lemon would look much better in April than it would in October. This is not to say that you cannot use your favorite color at any time of the year; just that the combinations of colors you select should make sense for the season. So if lavender is your favorite color, use it for your fall wedding, but pair it with shades of deep purple and burgundy to give it the depth and richness that suit the time of year.

The feeling of autumn is one of richness and coziness, and this is very helpful when you are choosing your fall color palette. Warm metallics like gold, copper, and bronze are ideal accent colors to add depth and elegance to your primary hue. The metallic colors are very easy to combine with other fall colors, and you can use them to make anything feel more sumptuous. Look for details like tablelinens that are shot through with a gold thread for an evening wedding, or for your bridesmaid gifts, choose jewelry that is created with rich bronze Swarovski crystals. Metallic ink can also be used to great effect on your wedding invitations, especially when paired with another color like chocolate brown.

Speaking of chocolate brown, it is always a wonderful color for an autumn wedding. To steer it away from the stereotypical fall palette, do not pair brown with a color like orange or sunflower yellow. Make your wedding upscale and chic by combining warm chocolate with wasabi green. The pairing is unexpected, and yet very pleasing to the eye. Try setting your tables with chocolate dupioni tablecloths with wasabi green napkins as an accent. You can also use this pairing for stylish invitations, bridesmaid dresses, and much, much more.

Deep eggplant purple is another great color for a fall wedding. It has the richness of the classic autumn shades, but is not a common choice. For the most regal elegance, eggplant can be combined with metallic gold or copper. If you really want to make the eggplant look as rich as possible, seek out fabrics in that color that are made in luxurious velvet. This is great for bridesmaid dresses, as well as bridesmaid jewelry gifts, dramatic draped fabric in the reception venue, custom stationery, and of course, the flowers. This color palette works equally well for an afternoon or an evening wedding.

Other colors that are terrific for fall include burgundy and olive green or mahogany and cream. There is no need at all to feel that you must be loyal to the traditional fall colors. When you are having an elegant fall autumn wedding, the perfect color palette will be essential in making your vision come to life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Picking Your Wedding Shoes

Choosing the right shoes to go with your wedding dress is very important. There are two main factors to consider here. Comfort and style, you wan to make sure that whatever shoes you decide to wear on your wedding day are very comfortable. They cannot be to tight or loose cause they can cause you big problems.

The last thing you need is tripping and falling on your special day. If your shoes are to tight they might change the way you walk in your dress and this is surely not a good look on your wedding day.

When searching for the right pair of shoes makes sure you try them on and do some walking in them to make sure they are a perfect fit. Also have a second eye look at them for the styling, making sure it matches your wedding dress style as well. The kind of heel the shoe has is also important.

It needs to complement your dress properly and not seem to be out of place. If you are wearing a short dress a high heel will probably look better for a more formal indoor wedding, but if you are having a beach wedding then a high heel will most likely not work to well.

Your wedding dress supplier should have some shoes that they know go well with your style of dress. After all, they work with brides on a regular basis that look for the perfect shoes to go with their dresses. They should be able to point you in the right direction.