Assembling Your Attendants: How to Choose the Right Wedding Party for Your Big Day

Today’s LoveintheD post is a guest post from wedding blogger Jessica Socheski!

Picking the right people to be in your wedding party can result in a lot of drama and confusion. Many brides and grooms have questions about how to walk through the process and whom they should choose. Here are some important tips for finding the perfect family and friends to stand beside you at the altar.

How Many Should You Have?
One of the most frequently pondered questions when it comes to wedding parties is how to choose the right number. Fortunately, there is no magic combination to select. That choice is up to the couple alone. But there are some basic guidelines to help.

Balancing attendants can be done with a ratio of between 35 and 50 guests for every 1 bridesmaid. However, brides and grooms are free to pick a large or small wedding party, regardless of the guest list.

Another common concern is whether or not an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen must be attained. While it can look nice to have at least similar numbers on each side of the altar, the best rule to follow is to have only those family and friends who you want by your side. This might mean a slightly lopsided look, but that is much better than asking an acquaintance to stand up with you just because he or she is the right height and an extra body.

Assembling Your Attendants 3Image Source:

Bridemen and Groomsmaids?
Many couples simply want their attendants to be the people they are closest to, the people who will stand in support of their marriage for many years to come. And sometimes, this means having attendants of both genders.

Mixed gender bridal parties and groom’s ladies with the groomsmen have become a growing trend as couples challenge the tradition of gals on one side and guys on the other. Despite families who raise their eyebrows or chuckle at these mixed wedding parties, the idea has really caught on because it allows a groom’s sister to stand up with him or a bride’s best guy friend to support her.

Of course, taking this unconventional route will involve some important decisions. For instance, are both the bride and groom comfortable with her best guy friend going to the bachelorette party and helping her get ready on the morning of the wedding? There is also a question of costume. Should your groom’s lady find a dress that matches the other groomsmen’s suites, or should she wear a pant suit herself? There is really no right or wrong answer. All these decisions are ultimately up to the couple and their attendants.

Assembling Your Attendants 2Image Source:

Furry Attendants
While we’re on the subject of alternative attendants, what about the four-legged kind? Many couples decide to include their canine or feline best friend as a part of the ceremony or during some other point of the big day. Some couples choose to incorporate their cats or dogs as a part of their wedding. The bride and groom can take a picture with their cat companion, and their dog can wear a bowtie while walking down the isle.

Many weddings also invite equine friends. A bride can take beautiful dress pictures on her horse or the couple can ride in a getaway carriage to the reception.

But before you tie the rings to Fido’s collar, make sure that your special pet is well trained and won’t be flustered by the excitement of the ceremony and many guests.

Saying Thanks
When it is all said and done, you and your fiancé will hopefully have assembled the perfect group of family and close friends that will be there throughout the engagement and through the rest of your lives together. Now comes the fun part of picking out the perfect gifts to show your appreciation for all their love and support.

Cool groomsmen gifts and bridal party presents don’t have to cost arm and a leg. However, they should be thoughtful tokens that take into account that your best gals and guys have purchased outfits and shoes for the day as well hosted a bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties and perhaps even traveled from out of town for the occasion.

Forging wedding bands, forging a new path together (Part Two)

Today’s Engaged in the D blog post is by Christopher Holt, who is engaged to Melissa Damaschke. Check out Part One here and read about their engagement story here.

Jewelry is delicate and precious. However, I’ve come to admire the brute force that goes into its making. It’s a bit like childbirth: there’s grunting, careful monitoring, blood, placenta, the force of contractions and labor, the smacking of a newborn bum, crying and all that, but in the end you have this precious delicate life. Minus the blood and a few other things there is an element of brutality in making jewelry.


How do you think the ring gets that nice round shape? You hammer the sucker. You hammer it into that ring-like shape and hammer the ends as close together as possible. Did they get out of line with each other? Put the metal in the vice and tap the sides ’till they’re even with each other. Then repeat. Then you solder the ends together. Now this piece of metal that once looked like, well just a piece of tiny metal, is starting to look more and more like an actual ring. I’ve seen ultrasound images of fetuses in the womb and thought, “Ok. Where the hell is the baby?”  Not until later does the freakish cluster of cells become recognizably human.  Up to this point, one might ask, “Ok. Where the hell is the ring?”

We  now arrive at the point where Melissa took my ring-fetus and hammered it into a ring-baby.

Our Mistress of Metallurgy introduced us to this thick metal rod that was tapered to a point. It was a little shorter than my forearm. Using her demonstration ring, she slid it ‘round the tapered the end and wedged it a few inches onto the rod.  Ring sizes were engraved up and down this tool. She demonstrated what we had to do and Melissa was first.


With the grace of a ballet dancer, the muscle of a valkyrie, and the focus of a laser-beam, Melissa hammered my ring into existence. She slid it off the rod and I slid it onto my finger. I shook my hand wildly to see if it would fall off. It flew across the store. This act was repeated about four times before the ring fit my finger comfortably.

Upon my turn, I raised the tool with my left hand and the hammer with my right.  Like the Greek god Hephaestus, I brought my hammer down upon the ring not once, not twice, but several times. Many, many times in fact.


Until finally, the gold and silver that were once divorced, were once again united in a perfect, perpetual circle, soldered together by the suave hunk that is marrying Melissa Damaschke.

We spent the next 10-20 minutes sanding and polishing the rings giving them a slightly grey finish. (Neither of us wanted anything too shiny or glossy).  Julie permitted us to use the photo set-up she has to take the picture you see here.  When all was said and done we were there for about five hours with a break for lunch.  We can’t thank Julie Sanford of Studio JSD enough for her patient guidance, talent, and encouragement.  If there are any couples considering doing such an activity together for their rings, we highly recommend doing it.

And we didn’t have to forge our rings in Mordor.


Readers: What do you think of the idea of making rings for one another as an engaged couple? How would you design your own unique ring?

Forging wedding bands, forging a new path together (Part One)

This week’s Engaged in the D guest post is by Christopher Holt, who is engaged to Melissa Damaschke. Read about their engagement story here.

Part One

Melissa doesn’t have an engagement ring. Not because I’m a cheap jerk but because 1) She doesn’t wear much jewelry in the first place and 2) She takes issue with the diamond industry.

So, instead of buying wedding bands, we thought it’d be more meaningful and rewarding to make each other’s rings. Now, by “make” I don’t mean “have someone make it for us.” Rather, I make her wedding band and she makes mine. Melissa was quick to research our options and found the only place in Michigan that offers couples the opportunity to do just, which is Studio JSD located in Grand Haven.  Julie Sanford, owner of Studio JSD, was more than accommodating to our purpose. In fact, we were able to have the entire studio and her attention all to ourselves. Julie makes all kinds of jewelry and we can’t recommend her and her artwork enough. I shall call her our Mistress of Metallurgy.

Melissa’s ring carries a second layer of meaning. Her parents divorced when she was 13 thereby rendering their wedding rings moot. However, they had the forethought (or respect) to keep them. Melissa’s mom is remarried.  After her dad died a few years ago, Melissa took to wearing his wedding ring on occasion. While it’s not really her style, it still holds sentiment. Despite having each of her parents’ defunct wedding rings, she didn’t know what to do with them.  It wasn’t until the night before we left for Grand Haven that it occurred to her that she should melt them down and recast them into her own wedding ring.  She got the OK from her mom and brother (out of respect for their feelings) and the decision was made.

My ring would be cast from new material. Melissa would make mine and I would make hers. We agreed that the other would approve of the ring each step of the way so there would be no surprises.

Our Mistress of Metallurgy guided us step-by-step through the entire process. Given the fact that Melissa’s ring was to come from two existing pieces of jewelry, my tasks required a little more time, so the three of us started on the rings together. I admit I was uneasy about sawing the diamond off of my future mother-in-law’s gold wedding ring. However, as I was doing that, Melissa was busy removing/tapping/bending/hammering out the small stones that were epoxied into her dad’s silver ring. This put things into perspective and I proceeded with confidence.

Hammers and saws are fun but blow-torches are more fun.


We took our turns melting the other’s metals into liquid form inside a crucible.  Melting-down metals is nothing new of course but if you have never altered the physical properties of a piece of metal before, you’re missing out.  Sure, there’d be soldering involved later on, but in this case we take something recognizable, admired, worn, and cherished, and reduce it to a scalding hot blister. At risk of sounding overdramatic:  these rings were on the fingers of two people figuratively inside a crucible.  And now, some twenty years later, these same rings are literally inside a crucible only to experience a very different outcome.  There’s something even more profound going on here.  Melissa hasn’t come out and said it directly, but there’s the clear suggestion of forging a new beginning; a way to acknowledge and learn from the past and how she can perceive herself and future decisions in relation to that. She is the sole owner of her destiny.

Melissa is my sweet, sweet, Nitzschean Übermensch. Or ÜberFrau.


Melted into small tiny rods the size of pretzels a president might choke on while watching a football game, these metals lack all the glamour and emotion associated with their purpose. There is a mechanical device – not unlike a penny stretching machine – through which these tiny rods are cranked and thereby stretched.  We crank our metal rods through this device several times.  Sometimes, however, the rods resist our efforts and must be taken to be blowtorched. This does something to the atoms inside the metal that makes it easier to crank them through the machine.  When the metal is glowing red from the blowtorch, we pick-up the metal with tweezers and drop it into a bowl of cool water. This makes a sound not unlike the one you might imagine is produced when a portal to another dimension seizes shut.


The anvil we used was not manufactured by the Acme Company, nor was it dropped on anyone’s head. It was satisfying, though, to lay the rod (or in my case, two rods) of metal and tap the texture into it.  Melissa is an environmentalist – a tree hugger. So, for my ring,  I asked her to create a texture similar to tree bark. She liked the idea so much, that that’s how I textured hers.  We used hammers designed for such work, carefully holding the metal in place and even more carefully not hammering our fingers.

Want to check out the rest of Chris & Melissa’s ring-making process and the beautiful end results? Part Two is coming next week!

Giving a great wedding toast: 6 do’s and 6 don’ts

In 2004, I gave the maid of honor toast at my sister’s wedding. I cried and rambled quite a bit. I would like to blame that on being only twenty years old at the time, but I am not sure that blame would be accurately placed…

Over the years, I have heard some great wedding toasts and I have also heard some not-so-great toasts. Below are six DO’s and six DON’Ts from LoveintheD for any of you readers who might be giving a toast at a wedding sometime soon! But first, here’s a photo by Orris Photography of my sister, Josie, giving her matron of honor speech in 2011.

Josie toast


1. Introduce yourself. Who are you and how do you know the bride/groom?

2. Keep it short. Read your speech to yourself a few times and cut out pieces that distract from your main points.

3. Make your toast personal – share a personal memory of your newly married friend or your first time seeing the couple together, etc.

4. Think about the range of family members and wedding guests present at the reception. After you write the draft of your toast, think: What will grandmother/uncle think?

5. It’s fine to joke around, but please keep it classy and refer to “DOs” #4 and DON’Ts #4,5,6.

6. Be clear when you are ending the toast. “Now let’s all raise a glass…”


1. Talk for a long time about just one member of the newly married couple without talking about BOTH individuals and how happy you are about their commitment to one another. The wedding is about both people, not just your friendship with one of them.

2. Make the toast about yourself or use too many inside jokes. Not everyone at the wedding is in the inner circle but everyone is there because they are happy for the couple

3. Give a toast while you’re drunk.

4. Mention any previous significant girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses of either of your newly married friends.

5. Try to make the toast something that doesn’t fit your style. If you don’t normally use a lot of fancy quotes, don’t feel compelled to use a quotation in your speech. If you normally don’t open a speech with a joke, you don’t need to do so at the wedding!

6. Think that the goal of a toast is to embarrass the bride or groom. You are giving a toast, not a roast.

Readers: What do you remember about the best wedding toast you’ve heard? What about the worst wedding toast you’ve heard?

How to select the perfect wines for your wedding [Interview with Vino Dream]

I was so excited when Meg Pouncy contacted me about her wine business! One of the best things about blogging is that I’ve connected with amazing women who have started their own businesses. Meg owns Vino Dream, a wine pairing and event company in Detroit!

How did you get started as a sommelier and what is the story behind Vino Dream?

I was working in San Francisco as a designer and ended up working on design for a wine bar! That piqued my interest and I started learning about wine. I got a job in Pennsylvania, the fifth largest wine producer in the country at the time, and I started going to wine classes. Friends started calling me when they were having friends over, asking for advice about what wine should be paired with the meal they were about to prepare. More and more friends were calling for advice. Eventually I moved home to Detroit for family reasons and decided to start a business! While planning, I flew around the country to get to know the wine industry. I tried 320 wines! And interviewed people everywhere I went. I started Vino Dream using this new knowledge and experience.

Meg Pouncy pic

California vineyard

Tell me about your love for Detroit – why start your business in Detroit? What do you love about this city?

There is no other place I could imagine living at this point. I’ve lived on the East Coast and I’ve lived on the West Coast. Detroit is closest to my heart. There are amazing opportunities here! This is a chance of a lifetime to participate in the rebuilding and entrepreneurial energy that is captivating the city right now. There’s no better place to start a business; the support network is great. People embrace each other – literally. That doesn’t always happen in other cities.

Any tips for discovering unique Michigan or local wines to serve at a Detroit wedding?

Consider the whole experience! Many people think only about the champagne toast and then cake. Don’t serve a dry fruity wine right before a sweet frosted cake. Try a Michigan dessert wine or Canadian ice wine. Try something that will complement the cake. Think about serving different types of wine throughout the meal. Start with an appertis before the meal, and then serve another wine with the meal, followed by a dessert wine. Always look for balance when planning your wedding meal.

Let’s say I’m planning a summer backyard BBQ wedding. How should I go about selecting wine for my wedding?

Wine started out as a drink of the people, not something reserved for the rich or special occasions. Wine is for everyone. There are wines perfect for a backyard wedding! If you are grilling, there are wonderful wines that pair well with smoked meat or BBQ flavors. A Chiraz would be terrific with a grilled or seared steak. Remember to serve the wine at the right temperature. When Vino Dream caters weddings, we keep the bottles on ice until it’s close to serving time. We bring a thermometer to make sure the wine is the right temperature. If you are getting married outside and you’re having an informal reception, let your food and drinks speak to that relaxed feel!

What sorts of wine tastings and private events does Vino Dream put together?

For our pairing service, we would talk about your wedding menu and make pairing recommendations. For wedding venues that allow outside wine, Vino Dream is happy to source and serve the wine. I also do wine etiquette and Sommelier in a Day classes. I recommend those classes to individuals who are getting married and want well-rounded information about wine. You’ll leave feeling more comfortable about wine — and know how to hold the wine glass the right way, why and when to twirl, etc. I also hold Wines of Spain and Wines of Italy trainings. Finally, I do wine tasting events – for networking events or private parties.

Vino Dream wine tasting

I’m curious about the environmental impact of wine. Is there a way a bride or groom can be environmentally conscious in their wine selection process?

The wine industry is moving away from corked bottles to screw cap wines. Cork comes from trees and screw caps don’t exhaust the earth’s resources in that way. Gone are the days where wine with screw caps are only “cheapwines.” Now boxed wines are trending — boxes are easier to recycle than glass and are more efficient. You’ll also see some wines in tetrapaks. One of my favorite wines comes in a tetrapak! Another big push is toward organic wines. The extra bonus is that people who are allergic to the sulphites in many wines are able to drink organic wines.

Torrontes tetrapak


Readers: What wine(s) are you planning to serve at your wedding or upcoming event?

[groom’s view] Creating one-of-a-kind wedding invitations

Hooray! It’s the first groom’s view post by my husband Sean! Check it out and consider leaving him some blog comment love. Note: It was I, not Sean, who linked words like “sartorial” and “audiophile” to their definitions. He has a bigger vocabulary than I…

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful process for a couple. There were times during the planning phase of our wedding when I wondered if surviving the planning process was the first test of our potential as a married couple. While every couple will have its own internal dynamics that are usually not apparent to friends and family, those reliable guidelines can go out the window when previously undisclosed wedding traditions and expectations come to the surface.

Fortunately, I’m a sartorial traditionalist, an audiophile and have an interest in design and art so I took the lead in designing invitations, hiring a DJ, arranging music, and selecting tuxedos (and a dress) for the groom’s party. Of course this planning process did not happen in a vacuum and Stephanie was my chief collaborator and the inspiration for everything that is commendable in the abovementioned areas of responsibility.

Selecting an initial design for our invitations was actually very easy as I had given Stephanie a painting of us by Matte Stephens as an engagement gift. We were certain that we wanted to use it on the invitations; however, I also had my heart set on a letterpress element and avoiding anything too elaborate. One challenge was that most letterpress shops do not also do giclee printing (high-end, high-resolution inkjet). The other challenge was that letterpress paper is not engineered for giclees. After consulting with Detroit letterpress shops I was aware of at the time, I could not find one that was interested in the job. [Salt & Cedar is the relatively new letter press shop in Eastern Market that did not exist when we were planning our invitations.]




After weeks of internet searches, I reached out to the Elevated Press in Ann Arbor. The owner, Michelle, was willing to discuss the project and help us develop a layout that simplified the project. I borrowed a giclee printer and printed the image per Michelle’s layout and then delivered them to her for her to press. I made sure to reach out to Matte for permission before sending Michelle the image and he was honored that we were including his artwork in our wedding invitations.

After a great deal of trial and error and reading some technical documents on using Photoshop and printing on a printer with eight separate color cartridges, I was able to reproduce the image with the level of accuracy and nuance I had hoped for — no simple task when using ivory paper. Michelle then printed the letterpressed portion and RSVP cards. We ended up with an opportunity to visit the White House in April 2011 and actually present President Barack Obama with an invitation to our wedding.



His response was that ours was “the coolest wedding invitation he’d ever seen.” President Obama also said that he would try to make it if he was in town. It turned out that he was in Detroit on our wedding day to meet with then-President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak. Good thing he didn’t show up as tapping one’s glass to elicit a kiss between the newlyweds could have been grounds for a cavity search.

Michelle ordered beautiful navy envelopes from Paper Source to coordinate with the ink on our invitations. I ordered a custom return address stamp from 2impress on Etsy. Stephanie hand addressed the invitations in silver ink due to her talent for writing legibly.


How to cleverly plan a Detroit wedding (Interview with Lynn Jovick)

Lynn Jovick is the Designer and Owner of Clever Bumblebee Creations. She is also on the board of directors for the Scarab Club, which was Mahima and Shane’s wedding venue in Detroit! I was thrilled to connect with Lynn through Mahima and Shane.

Lynn has a wealth of knowledge and experience planning weddings in Detroit, and we sat down to chat about weddings in Detroit! I love hearing people express how they became passionate about their “work.” It was amazing to see Lynn’s face light up when talking about the details of wedding design as we excitedly shared our love for all things wedding-related over coffee! I am also grateful for her ideas and advice for LoveintheD.

Check out the interview and photos (all taken by Lynn, except the first one, which was taken by a wedding guest)!

Scarab Club outside ceremony

What inspired you to get into the wedding/event business and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been fully involved in the wedding planning and production industry for the past seven years. Being an interior designer in the years prior, clients would always ask me for my opinion on event and party design. Then I decided to take a floral design class and I was hooked! I loved working with the color and texture of flowers and it all came very naturally to me. My customer service background only complemented that talent if you can say that. And I love, love, love to see the outcome and final project unveiling, if you will. It’s like a work of art to me.

What is your favorite thing about wedding planning?
My favorite part of the wedding planning process is first, the consultation – brainstorming with the client about their special event, and coming up with a plan. And second, seeing it all come together and the look on the brides face when she sees her bouquet!

Cleverbumblebee photogrid

What is your biggest lesson learned about wedding planning?

I am not sure if this is a lesson, but something I feel strongly about. A budget is a budget, and any budget can be achieved honestly. You don’t have to oversell to a client to make their dream a reality, although a little convincing and a lot of experience with ideas is always a plus.

What do you love most about weddings in Detroit?
Having a wedding in Detroit proper opens so many doors to options: unique places, historic landmarks, diamonds in the rough, beautiful seasonal scenery, which yields wonderful memories, and amazing photography. One piece of advice: Don’t skimp on the photography!

Clever Bumblebee gourds

Any predictions for Detroit wedding trends in 2013?
More and more couples are becoming aware of the uniqueness and value of having a wedding in the city proper. I see that “trend,” if you will, becoming more apparent. Most couples getting married today are excited about bringing a historical twist to their event, be it an old family church, a favorite place to hang out, or something unique about the city to show their guests. Detroit has so much to offer in that sense. We have it all in the palm of our hand. For many couples, having a wedding in one of Detroit’s historic areas brings community and family back together to embrace the values of knowing your history and your families’ humble beginnings.

If you could give one piece of advice to Detroit brides & grooms who are just starting out in the wedding planning process, what would it be?
My advice to all my couples is to remember that your wedding is about you and sharing your interests and lives with your family and friends! This ties in to another “trend” in wedding planning: Most of my couples are in the position of paying for their own wedding. There are very few parental “handouts” anymore. Not that they shouldn’t have an influence on your day, but there are ways to incorporate both the old and the new. In fact, I encourage it! So this is your chance to throw the biggest party of your lives to date. I encourage you to share your families’ interests in subtle ways, and make you day uniquely yours. Your wedding day is a day that will be talked about for years to come.

Thank you, Lynn!

Readers: Any aspiring wedding planners out there? What do you love most about planning and design?

How to eat (and feed your guests) guilt-free

What’s the biggest portion of your wedding budget?

Wedding planning sites say that you should expect to spend about half your wedding budget on the reception venue and food. The cocktail hour, meals and open bar amounted to 42 percent of my wedding expenses, not including the cake and bubble tea.

Given the massive amount of money you are going to spend on food, let’s talk a little about the people who prepare and serve those delicious meals to your wedding guests, shall we?

Many of you might have worked in restaurants before (I have not), so you are probably already more familiar than I am with some of the problems that plague the restaurant industry. Do you remember if you were paid for sick days? Did (or do) you have an opportunity to advance? Were (or are) you paid adequately?



One way to eat and feed your wedding guests guilt-free is to contract with a gold or silver prize restaurant to cater your wedding! Alternatively, you could host your rehearsal dinner at one of these worker-friendly restaurants!

The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) recently released its 2013 national diners’ guide. ROC gave gold and silver stars to restaurants with strong ratings for paying tipped workers $5 or more per hour, for paying non-tipped workers $9 or more per hour, for providing paid sick days, and for promoting employees internally.

Check out the ROC 2013 national diners’ guide!

ROC rated the following five Detroit restaurants as “high road” gold or silver star restaurants for treating their workers with respect!

Avalon International (gold)
Baked goods, sandwiches, coffee, and more!
I went to Avalon’s new bakehouse grand “bread-breaking” opening on Friday. Congratulations to Ann, Jackie & the whole team! Check out MLive’s photos of the huge space. Who knew mixing bowls could be so ginormous?

COLORS Detroit (gold)
Contact Dan Jones ( for catering menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, dessert options available)! 
Minimum of 25 people for catering/special event orders.
Can host rehearsal dinners, up to 60 people.

Le Petit Zinc (gold)
Catering services available! Can host rehearsal dinners for up to 30 people.

Russell Street Deli (gold)
Specializes in vegetarian/vegan meals and has catered weddings for up to 240 people! No minimum or maximum for catering orders.
Can host informal rehearsal dinners up to 40 people.

Seva Restaurant (silver)
Can host wedding buffet receptions in the restaurant for up to 80 people or cater off-site for up to 500 people!

Okay, okay. So I know that list is short. There are certainly restaurants that simply weren’t evaluated and rated by ROC.

…And you are probably wondering how you can apply ROC’s principles as you prowl the city for the best venue and best caterer that meets your budget. You could ask potential caterers: “How do you support your workers? Do you give your workers paid sick days?”

If you don’t feel prepared to ask questions like those, simply clip out the tip card below and hand it to your catering representative!

ethical eating ROC

Stay tuned for future LoveintheD posts highlighting caterers in Detroit that you might want to consider. Feel free to leave a comment with a suggested “high road” restaurant employer!

Do you have a personal story about the restaurant industry to share with LoveintheD?