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Everyone knows the toasts at a wedding reception are one of the highlights of the night. It’s when the maid of honor, the best man, and the bride’s father get to share their stories about the bride and groom. It’s when you get to hear the true support and love for the newlyweds from the people that are closest to them. The toasts are also when everyone’s glasses are raised, and everyone gets to enjoy a glass of champagne. But what if you aren’t a fan of champagne? Or what if you’re trying to go for a different type of feel for your wedding? Here’s some alternatives to the traditional champagne toast at your wedding reception.

 

Sparkling cider. If you want a toast that everyone can join in on, you might consider sparkling cider as a non-alcoholic option. A sparkling cider is a carbonated drink that is made from apples. It is typically pretty inexpensive which also makes it a good choice. Also, if you’re looking for a healthier option, sparkling cider is the way to go. Sparkling cider would be good for a fall or winter wedding, especially if you have apples incorporated into your wedding decor.

 

Sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is a good alternative if you want something very similar to champagne. The nice thing about sparkling wine is that you can choose from a range of flavors, from very sweet to very dry. Again, the sparkling wine will be very similar to champagne, but not as expensive.

 

Beer. If you want to go for a more casual toast, beer is always a good option. Beer isn’t a common choice for the toast, but it is a good option for a more casual wedding or one that is outdoors. A good suggestion for a beer to use for a toast is Guinness; Guinness can still give you the classy factor that you may be looking for. It is also a great option when it comes to price. A keg of 11 gallons of Guinness is equivalent to approximately 150 12 oz bottles.

 

Sparkling white grape juice. Similar to the cider, sparkling white grape juice is great if you are looking to go for the non-alcoholic option. Sparkling white grape juice is also pretty inexpensive so if you are looking to save some money, this is the option for you.

 

Guests’ choice. Guests’ choice is probably the easiest way to go. This way, you won’t limit your guests to having only the drink of your choice. The toast can be made with whatever drink your guests have in their hands at that time. Plus, you won’t have to pay extra for alcohol that is specifically for the toast, especially when some people may not even drink it.

Whatever beverage you choose as the beverage to toast with at your wedding reception, you can’t go wrong. Remember that the toast is not about the drink. The toast is about the messages of love and support that you are receiving from your family and friends on your special day.

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5 Non-Traditional Options for Changing Your Name After Marriage

Getting married is an exciting and happy time in anyone’s life. A time for joy and celebration. But the process of getting ready to get married and even what happens after can be very overwhelming. Many brides complain about dealing with the process of changing their name after the wedding; it seems like there are a lot of steps to take. Aside from the long process, the issue of name changing has also been somewhat controversial in the past. Many women don’t want to take their husband’s last name and give up their own; they don’t want to feel as if they’ve lost their independence. If you’re feeling hesitant about changing your name when you get married, there are some alternatives you can consider.

 

Leave it as is. Leaving your name as it is will be the simplest solution to this issue. Keeping your own name takes away a lot of stress and doesn’t require you to do any extra work that you don’t need to. If you change your name, think of how many legal documents you will have to get switched over. This could take some time and money. Some people, depending on their profession, decide to keep their name due to career reasons. They are known by their maiden name, so they don’t want to change their name and lose the brand that they have built.

 

Hyphenate. Hyphenating the last name has become a very popular thing to do these days. By hyphenating, you are able to combine both of your last names, not having to lose either one. Hyphenation is a good symbol of your future to come; husband and wife combining to make one.

 

Create a new last name for both of you. While this alternative doesn’t seem to be well known yet, it leaves a lot of room for creativity. This could be cool to be able to create a new last name that you both agree on; not having to take one family name or the other You can make it a name that’s meaningful to you, your husband, and your relationship. You could pick the name of an author that both of you love or the street name of where you first met or of your first date. The possibilities are endless!

 

Add a new middle name. This alternative is a great way to still incorporate your maiden name, without the hyphenation. You can keep your maiden name as a middle name or as a second middle name. This way you still get to keep your maiden name as a part of who you are, and incorporate your new name as well.

 

Create a mashup. If you and your husband are creative and adventurous people, this may be the alternative for you. Rather than creating a completely new name, you can find a way to combine the two of your last names into one new last name. With this alternative, you will have to take some time to experiment, combining the beginnings, the middles, and the ends of your last names until you find one that actually sounds good. While this alternative may be a little out there, it could also be a lot of fun. A plus to this alternative, and to creating a new last name altogether, is that both of you will have to go through the process of changing your name, rather than just one. This way, the process may not seem as bad.

 

If you want to take a non-traditional route, one of these alternatives may be the way for you to go. Some of these alternatives allow you to be fun and creative with your new husband, and some of them just make the process easier and less stressful. Whatever you choose to do when getting married, make it something that is special to you and your new husband as you begin your new life together.

 
Howard Johnson
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So, you’re busy planning your wedding. You’ve set a date, picked a location, handled the food and cake choices, and purchased your wedding dress...What’s next? Picking your honeymoon destination. When the wedding is over and all your planning has paid off, the honeymoon is your time to relax with your new spouse and enjoy your time together as newlyweds. We have the perfect getaways for every couple; whether you’re into nature, beaches, or cruises, we’ve got something for everyone.

 

For the outdoorsy couple: Maybe keeping cozy in a romantic cabin is your ideal honeymoon getaway. In these three places, you can spend your days hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, or skiing in the winter. If you are into horses, you may even enjoy a romantic horseback ride on the trails. No matter what you spend your time doing, you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself in these nature-y locations.

 

Gatlinburg, TN/Pigeon Forge, TN - Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are 15 minutes away from each other, but both offer plenty of fun activities such as museums, zip lining, hiking, mini golf, shows, rafting, and water parks. For those who like to hike, you might try hiking on the Appalachian trail. There are various dinner shows in these two locations including Dixie Stampede.

 

Branson, Missouri - Branson offers plenty of scenery, train rides, fishing, hiking and zip lining for the adventurous couples.

 

Big Bear Region, California - Just two hours from Los Angeles, there is Big Bear Region, complete with pine trees and skiing in the winter. Big Bear Lake is the main attraction for cabin renters, where you can fish, boat, and swim. Other activities include horseback riding and hiking through the many trails in the area.

 

For the beach bums: Your dream vacation includes a beach, palm trees, sun bathing, and tropical drinks. While she enjoys a relaxing afternoon at the resort spa, he may spend his day golfing. You could spend your evenings enjoying a romantic dinner for two followed by a moonlit stroll on the beach. Here are perfect romantic beach honeymoon locations for the beach bums.

 

Banana Island, Doha, Qatar - Why not travel to one of the most remote destinations you can find, where you can only get to this private island by private boat or helicopter? This destination is for the couple seeking seclusion.

 

St. Barts - St. Barts offers 22 gorgeous white sand beaches and amazing blue water. During the days you can spend your time tanning on the beach, and your nights can be spent sipping champagne and enjoying the French cuisine. This destination is for the couples who love the nightlife.

 

Phuket, Thailand - Endless white sandy beaches and amazing sunsets are some of Thailand’s largest island’s best features. With a vibrant nightlife and great restaurants, newlywed couples can enjoy a week of luxury here. Take a romantic boat ride over to the Phi Phi islands and experience Thai massage during your stay in Phuket.

 

For the wanderlusters: Maybe you have a passion for traveling or just don’t like staying in one place for too long, but you have a deep desire to explore. These are places you can experience several places during your honeymoon.

 

Mediterranean cruise - For the couples who want more than just a beach or a hideaway. Everyday you experience a new location and immerse yourself in the culture of the new location, or you can hideaway in your cruise cabin.

 

Cultural/Culinary Tour of Spain - If you’re interested in art and architecture, food, and culture, this would be the perfect honeymoon location for you. Spain is working its way up to becoming a top honeymoon destination.

 

Ecuador and Galapagos Islands - Here you can combine different destinations and experiences in one trip. Incredible adventure, amazing landscapes, unique wildlife, and romantic lodges make this honeymoon trip one to remember.

 

No matter what your interests are or  what you want to spend your honeymoon doing, there is a perfect spot for everyone. It is recommended you spend your time relaxing and enjoying your time away together as newlyweds since you just spent so much time and energy preparing for your special day. Your honeymoon is your time to be together, so choose a destination both of you can enjoy.

 
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Congratulations, you're engaged! Now it's time to start planning your wedding day. If you've been dreaming about this day forever you may have your ideal wedding colors picked out, an overall theme, and even the bridal party, but what about the perfect place for you and your partner? Picking the perfect venue can be a challenge, and it is a big decision to make. There are a few things to consider about different venues when deciding where to have this special day take place.

 

The Traditional Location

 

There are many perks of having a wedding at a "typical" reception hall, the biggest one being you know that it can work! Whether you want a lot of windows, a big dance floor, a huge guest list or a small one, or some sort of compromise, there will be a lot of different halls and styles you can have. Some halls also provide silverware, dinnerware, food, alcohol, and linens saving you money in the end.

 

The Drawback: Time/Reservation conflicts may be a problem. If you're getting married in a church in the late afternoon, some halls won't serve food until dinner. Other couples could also have your venue booked on the date you wanted which can be a problem.

 

At Home

 

When your wedding takes place at your home or someone else's you pretty much get to be in charge of every part of it. Your wedding could have an extra sentimental feeling taking place somewhere that holds dear memories for you as well as creating a homey-comfortable vibe for your guests.

 

Drawbacks: You have to provide the silverware, dinnerware, food, linens, alcohol, etc. so what money you've saved on renting a place can end up costing you more later. Of course, weather is unpredictable, so if you're wedding is outside that can be an issue to consider.

 

Destination Wedding

 

The best part of a destination wedding is the possibility to have your wedding in a gorgeous location that will become special to all people involved. This is ideal if your wanting to spend your special day with a small number of close loved ones.

 

Drawback: Traveling expenses can be high for your guests, and while it may be completely worth it for you, others may not have that money to spend. Also, make sure you look into marriage license laws at the locations you're considering because they vary in different places.

 

Of course other locations can be great for weddings such as beaches, barns, or even a campus university. Any place can be turned into the perfect wedding venue as long as it's perfect for you and your partner. Choose what you love, you can't go wrong!

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There are some truths you just don't find out until you've done it—a legal-name-change veteran's take on making it official.

1. You may be flipping through your wedding album before you have a new passport.
Changing your name is a marathon, not a sprint. Some things will be as easy as walking into your bank's local branch while others will require the patience of a patron saint. It's best to be over-prepared—keep a file of important documents at the ready and tote it along on each name-changing adventure (a woman at the DMV gave me proverbial gold stars for my organized dossier).

 

 

2. Your marriage certificate will get more views than a viral YouTube video.
Everyone—the cable company, the bank, the social security office—will demand to see your marriage certificate before making things official. Do yourself a favor and order a couple of certified copies (from the state where you were legally wed) and make a few more at your local print shop. You may want to keep a copy on you at all times because the second you leave it at home, someone will inevitably want to see it. Trust me.

3. Your new signature will look kid-ish.
I've always prided myself on a legible signature. All of a sudden I was writing new letters in cursive for the first time since the fifth grade! An "r" that sat dangerously close to an "s" made my new last name look like kid scrawl. Thank goodness there was no "z" or "q" to attempt! Full disclosure: It's been almost a year and it still feels a little like forgery.

4. Your identity will be questioned.
With all the changes you'll be making, it's highly probable your new credit card may arrive before, say, your driver's license. This might get awkward when you're picking up a bottle of wine. Flash the ring and plead newlywed. Or show the cashier that crumpled copy of your marriage certificate you've been toting around for months.

5. You may almost miss your doctor's appointment.
It will take some time before you get used to hearing your new last name. You may sit in your doctor's office waiting room and listen to a nurse call it several times before jumping out of your seat and apologizing profusely. People will look at you like you've had a lobotomy. Don't worry—you'll adjust before your next checkup.

6. You'll need to upgrade your tote bag.
This is one of the "perks" of all the paper pushing—you'll have a new monogram! This means out with the old and in with the new tote bags, jewelry, stationery, luggage tags, towels—you get the idea. Word to the wise: Before you start stamping your initials on everything, make sure they work together. If your new letters leave you with something like SUK or FAT, opt for a two-letter monogram or use your new last initial on its own.

7. You may lose your frequent-flyer miles.
Okay, not really. But I left more miles than I'd care to admit on the table. There are so many things you absolutely must change, from bank accounts to government issued IDs, that when you get to the "other" stuff, you're exhausted. Depending on the airline, you may have to place a phone call or send them copies of every piece of said government-issued identification (oh, and your marriage certificate) in order to have those miles converted to the new you. Tired yet?

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