The Great Bridesmaid Debate - What Should You Expect to Pay For?

Hello Lovely Readers! Today I’m talking bridesmaids and their financial responsibilities as a member of your bridal party.

I see a lot of debate online about who pays for what, in terms of dress, shoes, hair, etc, and sadly I also see a lot of women falling out over it. If it’s true that money is at the root of most arguments for married couples, then it seems the same can also be said of you and your besties. So to help you out before it gets that far I’ve listed below the answers to your most common bridesmaid dilemmas when it comes to the costs associated with a wedding.

Though from the get-go may I advise that being clear with your bride tribe from the very start about what their investment will be, and allowing them the opportunity to decline gracefully if needed, would be both considerate of you and appreciated by them.

What should the bride cover?
it's standard for the bride to cover the cost of bouquets, transportation to and from the wedding venue, and a thank you gift to her bridesmaids. Optional costs may include hair and makeup, hotel accommodations, and bridesmaids' dresses.

Shoes and Accessories
Typically, each bridesmaid will be expected to provide her own shoes and accessories. The bride may give some guidelines as to colour, heel height, etc but this means they're selecting what they'd like to wear and feel most comfortable in which seems fair since they’ll be keeping them for future wear. If you prefer to have the bridesmaids all wear matching jewellery, you can select a matching piece to give the ladies as a gift and request that they wear it for the wedding.

Hair and makeup
If you, the bride, have the budget and would like the bridesmaids to all have professional hair and makeup done, you might cover the associated costs. If there's a large bridal party and the girls would prefer to use their own hair stylist or if the bride cannot cover all of the costs, the bridesmaids can offer to pay for their own hair and makeup.

Wedding Gifts
Yes, it's customary for bridesmaids to give the couple a wedding gift. Some bridal parties choose to go in on this together especially if they’ve all been friends for a long while and know the bride equally well, while others stick with individual gifts.

Hen’s Party
It's quite common for all of the hen’s party guests, including the bridesmaids, to pitch in to cover the bride's expenses. In the event a destination party is planned, guests will typically only chip in for an evening out rather than pay for the duration of the bride’s weekend.

Dresses
This is the biggie that often causes the most drama, probably because it’s generally the biggest cost of them all, as well as bridesmaids being anxious about having to pay for a dress that they feel doesn’t suit them or they would never choose to wear. In all the weddings I have been involved with I would have to say that this particular expense is pretty evenly split between the bride and her ‘maids.
My personal thoughts are that if you know you are going to want your girls to wear matching dresses of your choice then you have to be prepared to pay for them yourself. If however, you’re happy to give them guidelines around colour, length, style and let them choose what they feel best in, then it’s fair that they should pay, as it’s more than likely going to end up in regular rotation in their wardrobe afterward.
You might even give them the fabric you’ve chosen and let them take it to a dressmaker to have it made up into the style of their choice, as this splits the cost between you both and gives everyone a say in the final result.

What other expenses should a bridesmaid expect to cover?
Most often, bridesmaids also cover the cost of their lingerie, a bridal shower contribution, bridal shower gift, and any travel costs.

The bridesmaid gig is not for the faint of heart, but they’re showing up and being supportive for you, the bride so I think it falls on you to make it as easy and fun for your besties as you possibly can. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Sharing the greatest time in your life with those you love best.

Over to you readers. What are your thoughts on a bridesmaid duty? I’d love to hear what you think so comment below and let’s chat! Emma xo

Kendal + Reece | Rustic, Natural Wedding

Kendal, Reece and I all worked together for almost two years to bring together their wedding day at Serafino, a winery on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. There were a few hurdles along the way giving us quite the journey, but in the end, they were able to have their perfect day, and had the time of their lives while doing it.

From the Bride -

Love Story
Reece was working in Moonta for a few months building homes. We met through some friends one night out, but didn’t talk too much.  The following night I was going for a run down to Moonta Bay when I saw Reece parked in the carpark getting ready to go fishing on the jetty - I walked over to say Hi and he had a fair bit of stuff to carry, I offered to help and carried some crab nets and buckets down the jetty, we spent hours talking and hardly any fishing. It became really dark before Reece said he better get going and made me run home in the dark!

The Proposal
We booked a holiday to Fiji - once we arrived in Fiji and waiting to collect our bags, we found they hadn’t arrived, and we spent two days in Fiji with no luggage. Finally we had a knock on the door to say our bags have arrived. I couldnt open my bag quick enough while saying ‘This is the best day ever!’ and Reece was behind me and said ‘Is it?’ I turned around to Reece on one knee saying some very sweet things, before he asked me to marry him.  With the ring still in the bag! He said he couldn’t wait any longer.

The Venue
Reece and Kendal love the Fleurieu Peninsula and spend a lot of time there with Reece’s family. They have a ton of favourite spots to visit and one of them was Serafino. This was a very easy choice!

Wedding Style
Kendal wanted to stick with natural colour tones and tie in with the rustic feel at Serafino so we went for soft pinks and ivory, along with timber accents. Very classic and elegant.

The Bridal Party was made up of Kendal’s sister, Reece’s brother, and of course their son Tate as a very well behaved and dapper-looking pageboy.

The Flowers were quite a focal point of the decor, and because we didn’t want to blow the budget we concentrated on featuring the florals and the timber to create a beautiful atmosphere, rather than trying to include ‘all the things’ and not be able to do any of them really well. We met with Liesa of Fleur de Lys Flowers to discuss our design ideas, trusted her to create something really special, and she delivered!

This wedding was truly a joy for me to be a part of. Kendal and Reece’s love for one another was always the primary focus, and I thank them both so much for allowing me to share their wedding day with them. We had the best party that night and I wish you both so many happy times together in the years ahead! Emma xo

- Style Guide -
Photography: Cast in Colour | Hair and Makeup: M&Co Style Bar | Bride’s Gown: Made with Love | Bridesmaid’s Dress: After Dark | Cake: Sugar & Spice Cakes | Childcare: the Nanny Diary | Cinema: Lightwise Cinematography | Entertainment: STARDuo, Adelaide Professional DJ’s, Snap! Snap! Photobooth | Florals: Fleur de Lys Flowers | Groom’s Attire: Peter Shearer Menswear | Officiant: Suzanne Price | Rentals & Decor: Minty Mary Pea, Bulb Lighting, Set Your Scene, Urban Vertigo, Chaircovers Over All | Stationery: Vistaprint | Transportation: Classic Jags | Venue: Serafino | Planned, Styled, and Coordinated by Sparrow Weddings & Events

Your Wedding Website - What should you Include?

Congratulations! You’re about to get married, and in a beautiful venue to boot! You’ve spent all this time finding the perfect dress, booking your favourite photographer, and coming up with the best wedding hashtag (which is a feat to be celebrated all on its own!) and now you need to be sure your guests can make the most of it, particularly those who have travelled to celebrate with you.

What better way to create an even better guest experience from the minute they receive their invitation, then creating your very own corner of the internet to share all of the wedding details, room block information, travel tips and sights to see. They’re guaranteed a fun-filled (and more organised!) experience and it gives your special day that added touch of care. Think of it as an extension to your invitations - updating your guests on transport, accommodation, weather, and any extra links or photo galleries you’d like to share.

So how do you build this information mecca in a way that’s both easy and beautiful? What should you include, and how do you get it out there? (Add your registry straight to the site? Share all of your engagement photos? Yes please!) Read on my friends and let’s make it happen!

There are lots of options available for creating inexpensive wedding websites including Squarespace and Appy Couple. When you’re looking at options keep in mind that the site needs to be easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. We all have relatives that aren’t necessarily tech savvy, so you’ll want to make sure that the site easily gives them the information they need. My other tip is to choose something that’s easy to edit and add information as it comes to hand later on.

What travel details do we recommend including?
Guests need to know the when, where, and how. We suggest including the full itinerary with times and locations for each day you have events planned (from the welcome party to the reception). Include recommendations on where to stay at different price points, and direct links for them to make reservations. It’s awesome if your recommendations are either close to the wedding venue, or close to the city for easy access to shops and restaurants. You can also offer guests tips on where to eat and what to do during their trip since some of them may be unfamiliar with their destination. Depending on their mode of transport, you can include your best advice on how to get to and from the airport.

What day-of details are most important to include?
Let guests know everything and then some… where to be and when, if there is transport provided — and if not, where to find parking, or how to book a taxi. What they should wear — both formality and what is weather-appropriate. If it’s on a beach and you’re fine with everyone going barefoot, make sure to say that! If it’s on a lawn, let ladies know since heels dig into the grass. Let guests know if they will be indoors or out. Make it easy and put it all out there, the more detailed the better.

Bring your personality!
Don’t get so caught up in the logistics that you forget to customise the site and have it be a reflection of you both!  Your friends and family may know the basics of how you met, but it’s fun to include your whole story on your website. Add some pictures of yourselves too. If you’ve had engagement photos taken then this is the perfect place to show them off!

Making your guests aware
Have the site ready to go with the basics from the time you send your save-the-dates, and put the website address on there with a little note directing people to it. Let them know to check in regularly as you’ll be adding more details as your wedding day gets closer.

Setting up a wedding website might seem like extra work and just another thing on your to-do list. But I guarantee if you get this right at the beginning you’ll be saving yourself a ton of work down the line, when your guests want to know the answers to the above questions, and you start receiving an avalanche of phone calls and emails from them all.

One more note, if you’re working with Sparrow to plan your wedding you’ll be given exclusive free access to our wedding website platform - As a special bonus, use the code WEDDINGWEBSITE when booking with us to receive 5% off your chosen service! (Valid for bookings made by 30April2019). Click here to fill out our inquiry form xo

How to Include Children in Your Wedding (Beyond the Bridal Party)

If you’re planning your wedding and there are kids in your life, it’s really a no-brainer to invite them into your bridal party, right? It’s an honour to be asked, and it makes their family super-happy, proud and even more excited for your big day.

But what I’ve come to realise when chatting with the various flower-girls and page-boys I get to meet with, is that they often don’t share quite the same excitement. It’s simply that for the under-ten crowd they don’t yet fully realise the significance of a wedding. It can be a long and tiring day for them.

So I started thinking about other ways to ensure our little loved ones feel involved and it really comes down to the individual kid (funny that!). Once I’m aware that a couple wants to involve a child in their big day, I recommend they sit down with them and ask what makes them feel most excited about your wedding.

One boy was super-excited about the wedding cake. So we asked him to draw a few pics of his ideas and collect a bit of inspo on Pinterest. We then took him along to the meeting at the bakery and he had a chat with the baker. Between them they came up with a design that fitted his ideas and that the bride and groom liked also. In fact they were amazed at how seriously he took the task! He really wanted to get it right for them. As a final touch, when we had the menus printed for that wedding, under ‘Dessert’ we wrote ‘Wedding Cake - Designed by Oliver’ and Oliver experienced the joy of having guests congratulate him on his work.

Another very little one was going to act as her aunt and uncle’s flower-girl and she believed very firmly that the role involved giving out flowers. So while the bride and groom were signing the wedding certificate and making things official, this little girl was given a basket of loose stems and she walked through the crowd handing them out. It made her so happy to fulfil her role as she saw it.

For some kids the bridal party just isn’t for them, but there are still lots of things they can do to feel like they’re doing something special for you, particularly if they’re a little older. I’ve seen a twelve year old do the most amazing job as MC for the evening. If you’re having your pet at your wedding a lot of kids like to be assigned Puppy Wrangler for the day. They can do a reading at the ceremony, escort the bride down the aisle, show people to their seats, or help with any DIY projects you have going on. Play to their talents and interests!

So by all means, have your special little ones in your wedding party. The photographs will be adorable, and no doubt they’ll appreciate the honour as they get older. But I also encourage you to ask them what they would like to do for you on your wedding day. They’ll probably surprise you, and I guarantee it’ll make for all kinds of good vibes on the day xo

Cayleigh + David | A Wedding of Style and Substance

I met Cayleigh and David around four months before their wedding day and I gotta say, they already had a lot of the planning well in hand at that stage. What they had realised though was that managing a wedding of that scale they were planning on the day wasn’t going to be easy, and they naturally wanted to be able to celebrate their special day without worrying about what was going on behind the scenes. Cue the Sparrow team, ready to bring all the elements of their day together, get all the vendors on the same page, and make sure every tiny detail was accounted for.

Love Story
Cayleigh and David met at church and Cayleigh made the first move, inviting David out on a date to the movies. When it came time to propose a year or so later David took the lead, popping the question on a private boat while the couple were cruising around Sydney Harbour.

Wedding Style
Cayleigh is a fashion and lifestyle blogger (catch her on insta @cayleighscalamera) so she obviously has a fabulous sense of style, and it was an absolute joy to work alongside her, and bring her wedding vision to life. The vision was for a timeless, classic feel and the colours chosen to achieve this were white, grey, black, blush pink, burgundy, and rich fuchsia, all tied together with stunning gold accents.

The Venue
While searching for a venue Cayleigh and David absolutely fell in love with Golding Wines at Lobethal. With it’s private lawn and backdrop of rows upon rows of grapevines, it really was the perfect setting. For the reception, they chose to use the garden at David’s parent’s home in Myrtle Bank.

Wedding Details
While there wasn’t a lot of DIY involved in this wedding, there was plenty of offers of help from Cayleigh and David’s family and friends. David’s cousin Christian performed the MC duties to perfection, and his auntie Emanuela created their wedding cake for them. It was super-yum, with lemon and raspberry flavours up top, and mud cake on the bottom.

The Flowers
Florals were a focus of the decor and we were lucky enough to have the talented team from Studio Botanic on-board. They worked in extremely adverse weather conditions to provide us with beautiful installations at the ceremony and throughout the reception marquee.

The Bridesmaids
Cayleigh chose two of her closest friends as her bridesmaids, Emma (who flew in from the UK for the occasion) and Kerryn. They both wore burgundy dresses from Fame & Partners.

From the Bride

The Dress
’I knew I wanted to have the incredible Paolo Sebastian design and create my wedding gown so I didn’t even look into anything else! I love Paolo’s beautiful feminine details and am so proud that he is South Australian. It was really hard deciding on a style because all of the designs are so beautiful, but I knew anything that Paolo created would be magic.

It was such a beautiful dress to wear. I chose to have a removable over-skirt so that I could have the big ‘princess’ moment but then something a bit more sleek for the reception.’

Advice for Future Couples
’Hmmm, where do I start? My advice for the day is to have a clear schedule in the morning for hair and makeup so that you have time to relax. We were ready well in advance so it was such a relaxing morning and set the tone for the day.

Make sure you relax the day before and step away from any wedding related decisions. I handed it over to David to make the decisions and solve any last minute problems because I knew I would just get stressed. Also, come to terms with the fact that little things may go wrong but they are out of your control and the best thing you can do is just relax and enjoy the day!

When it comes to wedding budgets, my advice would be to decide on what is most important to you, invest in these areas, and compromise on the others.’

- Style Guide -
Photography: Katie Harmsworth | Bar & Beverage, and Catering: Andre’s Catering Co | Bombonniere: Sweetcheeks Cookies & Cakes | Bride’s Gown: Paolo Sebastian | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Fame & Partners | Cake: Emanuela Cioffi | Ceremony: Golding Wines | Cinema: La Lune Cinema | Entertainment: Amicus Strings, Christian Cioffi, the Cast | Florals: Studio Botanic | Groom’s Attire: DRESD | Groomsmen’s Attire: Jenny & Gerry’s Suit Hire | Hair: Charlotte Powell, and Makeup: Alisha Papaemanouil | Officiant: Derek Andrews | Reception: Private Residence | Rentals & Decor: White Marquee, Venue Productions | Rings: Hers by Cassandra Mamone, and His by Cartier | Stationery: Magnolia Press | Transportation: Classic Jags | Planned & Styled by the Bride and Groom, Managed by Sparrow Weddings & Events