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It's the biggest influencer of your budget. "As women of color, we have a strong sense of family and feel connected to many people, so our weddings tend to be large," shares celebrity event planner and interior designer Diann Valentine. "Do not sacrifice quality for quantity or feel pressured to invite everyone you know. People can be happy for you and not be at your wedding." Make those who can't attend feel included by mailing marriage announcements or hosting a wedding video viewing party.
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If either of you has children, be sure to acknowledge them in the festivities. When blackandmarriedwithkids.com founders Lamar and Ronnie Tyler wed, Lamar presented his new daughter with diamond earrings and gave his new son a gold chain at the ceremony.
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"They are the words that will govern your marriage and should not be taken lightly," says C.K. Alexander, a New York City wedding officiant and vow coach through her company, Love Ink. Set a date to write your pledge, which should take less than two minutes to recite. Also consider having your guests read vows at the service to be a support system for your union.
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Put your unique stamp on the celebrations. "When people walk in, it should feel like you and your partner," says Atlanta wedding planner and EllyB events creator Eliana Baucicault. Let your mother give you away, or have your dog be the ring bearer. Instead of a traditional father-daughter dance, blackbridalbliss.com founder Bridgette Bartlett-Royall compiled a playlist of her late dad's favorite songs and shared cherished memories of him at her reception.
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The wedding is often considered to be all about the bride. However, men are increasingly participating, with 83 percent of grooms helping with planning, according to a David's Bridal survey. The honeymoon or the playlist is a great area to let your guy have extra input.
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Many of us have experienced the pleasure and pain of being a bridesmaid. Avoid tension with your girl-friends by detailing up front your expectations and the attendant costs for everything from dresses, shoes and hairdos to your Vegas bachelorette party.
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It's your special day, but you're also responsible for your guests having a fabulous time. "Always try to give a plus one because no one wants to go to a wedding alone," Valentine says. Add interactive activities to get people moving and mingling. Craft tables, candy bars and even massage areas are popular guest stations.
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"It will be the fastest day of your life thus far," Bartlett-Royall says. "You've spent months planning and it's over in a few hours." Be sure to savor the memorable moment of having all the people you love together in one room, taste the food you selected and spend time with your new spouse.
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