Natural Color Diamonds Rock Street Style and High Fashion

As warm weather signals the start of wedding season, eager brides and grooms prepare for the big day while guests pour over registries and book hotels. From the guests to the wedding party, the romantic affair screams, “Diamonds!”

Fine jewelry is actually the most popular choice for all of the gifts surrounding the event—a delicate pendant for the bride, chic cufflinks for the groom, glittering earrings for the mother of the bride. Diamond jewelry is no longer just for red carpets or runways. More recently, the versatile rock transitioned gracefully into everyday fashion through trends in pave settings and natural color diamonds.

The Man’s Guide to Selecting a Wedding Band

Congratulations to all you soon-to-be grooms. Now that your wedding is only months away, your jewelry collection – just a watch, huh? – is about to increase by as much as 50 percent.

Meaning, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of wedding band you want for yourself.

Wedding bands have become the norm for men in recent years – 97 percent of grooms in The Knot Market Intelligence’s “2011 Engagement & Jewelry Study” opted for one – so even if you have any doubts, your bride will probably set you straight. That means your only real decision is what kind of band best suits you.

Tips to Plan a Socially Conscious Wedding

The selfish bridezilla might soon face extinction –  many blushing brides now plan weddings that benefit others. From donating leftover food to renting “green” venues, couples are finding creative ways to improve lives as they start new lives together.

CharityChoice, a nonprofit organization that promotes charitable giving, offers the following tips for couples hoping to give back even as they celebrate their union:

Always the Bridesmaid? You Can Wear the Dresses Again

<b>Always the Bridesmaid? You Can Wear the Dresses Again</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – “And you’ll be able to wear it again!” is a phrase often used around bridesmaids’ dresses. Because a ridiculously expensive lime-green taffeta shepherdess gown is appropriate for almost any occasion, and the Peter Pan collar is poised to make a comeback any century now.

If you’re one of the many women who has piles of Pepto-Bismol-colored ruffles stuffed in the back of her closet, never fear -; you will be able to wear that dress again. Host an old bridesmaids’ dress party, and the good times may even blot out the embarrassment of having had to wear that dress in the first place.

Where to start? The concept is simple — invite all of your girlfriends over, and tell them to wear their most hideous bridesmaid dress. Not only will you get to rewear the bridesmaids’ dresses of weddings past, you’ll also get to laugh at some of the more hideous outfits. Note: if you were a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, either don’t invite her or try not to wear the dress she chose, even if it does include a tutu and puffed sleeves.

Adding an inexpensive spin to classic elegance is the way to go. Skip the chips and dip in favor of a fruit-and-cheese platter. For a refreshing twist on champagne, the traditional wedding libation, pick up a few bottles of a fruit-flavored sparkling wine. Arbor Mist (arbormist.com), which is known for fruit and wine combinations like Strawberry White Zinfandel and Blackberry Merlot, has recently released a line of sparkling wines. Both the Peach Sparkle and the Raspberry Sparkle combine light and crisp sparkling wine with natural fruit, creating the perfect refreshment for a get-together with your girlfriends.

For entertainment, ask each woman to tell the story behind her bridesmaid dress. You can also have fun playing a wedding-themed round of Pictionary or charades. You can also hold a vote to find out, for once and for all, which one of you had to endure the wearing the worst bridesmaid dress.

For more information about Arbor Mist wines, visit www.arbormist.com.

Tips for Brides On Budgets

<b>Tips for Brides On Budgets</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Between the thrilling proposal and the pre-wedding whirlwind – setting the date, finding the perfect wedding dress, planning the honeymoon – weddings should feel joyous and romantic.

But after the wedding, couples should enjoy their newly wedded bliss – not panic about digging themselves out of debt.

According to the Association for Wedding Professionals International, the average wedding costs between $18,000 and $21,000.

In these difficult economic times, couples might need to minimize the cost of their wedding. But brides on budgets do not need to whittle their guest list from 200 to 10.

Here are some affordable – and tasteful – measures couples can take to stay within their budget.

What eats up wedding cash? Wedding receptions usually account for half of a wedding’s cost. Dinner and drinks add up, especially if couples pay for a full or open bar.

To save money on the bubbly, couples should nix the mixed drinks. Soon-to-be-marrieds can serve champagne during the toast, then offer beer and wine for the rest of the evening. Give clumsier guests white wine, not red, and the evening should progress with fewer mishaps at a lower cost.

For dinner, couples should think outside the catering-company box. Local restaurants might make better deals. Classy catering can come from unexpected places.

Boston Market restaurants provide full-service catering options with elegant entrées like roasted sirloin, turkey or rotisserie chicken, and a selection of gourmet sides. The cost? From $14.99 to $21.99 a head.

After the reception, photography and videography are the second largest budget-breakers. Couples can hire a photographer and videographer for the ceremony, then leave reception photographs to friends, family and digital cameras.

To avoid the cost of a live band, brides and grooms can opt for MP3 playlists, customized CDs and speaker rentals over pricey bands.

Finally, hiring a wedding coordinator can save time, manage stress and get better deals.

So, here’s a toast to tweaking old traditions to make a dream wedding financially attainable – and to save enough money for a long, relaxing honeymoon. Cheers!

Honeymoon Tips for Lasting Memories and Relaxation

<b>Honeymoon Tips for Lasting Memories and Relaxation</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The headache you’ve had for the past year planning your wedding, inviting all the guests and meticulously checking to ensure your big day runs smoothly is finally over. And, just around the corner, you can see your honeymoon in sight. The last things on your mind are planning, thinking and otherwise doing anything but relaxing, right?

To ease your mind after the chaos, the ultimate Mexican getaways are offered by The Villa Group Resorts, complete with Hacienda-style villas, exotic spa treatments and palm tree-framed views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll finally be able to unwind, comfortable knowing everything you could need or want is at your fingertips.

With seven different locations in four unique destinations including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and the Sierra Madre Mountains, The Villa Group caters to a variety of interests. Each location offers unique scenery, activities and accommodations that can make your honeymoon exactly the way you’ve envisioned it.

The myriad vacation options available to newlyweds are overwhelming, but noting a few key things will keep that headache at bay and your relaxation level high:

– Pick a location that appeals to both of you. Where do you see you two having the most fun? Secluded beaches, tranquil mountains or cobblestone streets lined with shopping?

– Decide how you want to spend your days. Will you lounge poolside, taking in lagoons and waterfalls, or do you want to explore the surrounding area by horseback, canoe or bike?

– Scope out the options in his-and-her spa treatments, such as hydrotherapy sessions, mud baths and massages. Some resorts offer ultra-relaxing themes, while others focus more on invigorating treatments.

– How will you spend your evenings? Resorts often provide nighttime festivities, complete with themed dining events mere feet from your room. Or, would you rather be near a town where you can explore both the area’s attractions and what the resort provides?

Whatever type of honeymoon you and your new spouse want, The Villa Group Resorts offers honeymoon packages prepared to make your matrimony celebration a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, with packages geared toward wedding anniversaries, you can go back and have that once-in-life-time vacation all over again.

For more information, visit www.villagroupresorts.com.

Make Your ‘I Do’ Last Forever

<b>Make Your ‘I Do’ Last Forever</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In between the guest list, the flowers and the perfect three-tier cake, it can be hard to find time to shop for your wedding rings. However, it is important to remember that most of the wedding details are fleeting and gone after a few hours of enjoyment, while your rings are enjoyed forever. So, whether you are having a smaller gathering or a more traditional affair, this important to-do on your event checklist should not be overlooked, especially since your rings mark your commitment to one another and will last a lifetime.

Jewelry and style expert Michael O’Connor has a few tips that are sure to help you find matrimonial bliss when it comes to ring selection:

* Create a budget. There are many details to consider when planning a wedding that can quickly drain your budget. It is important to set aside money for a lifelong symbol like your wedding bands. Not sure how much to budget? Consider that in 2006, couples spent an average of $2,079 on wedding bands, according to the CN American Wedding Study. And since the age-old rule for purchasing an engagement ring is to spend two months salary, plan to spend one month’s salary for the two wedding bands. Check out the “Budget Calculator” at www.TheKnot.com.

* Shop together. It is a good idea to shop for rings together. In fact, 80 percent of couples do, which isn’t a surprise since your rings, which don’t have to match, should reflect your personal styles and tastes.

* Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping for your wedding bands, they’re simply too important. Plan to start shopping for your rings six months prior to your “I do’s.” Not only do you need time to research and shop, but you also need to allot time for custom orders, sizing and engraving.

* Invest in quality. Because you want your ring to last a lifetime, it is important to put thought into the quality of metal you choose. Platinum 950 is the most durable precious metal and will last a lifetime. It’s 30 times more rare than gold, and for wedding bands set with diamonds, its natural whiteness will ensure the diamonds sparkle and stay secure. It is no wonder that Hollywood’s A-list designers such as Tacori, DeBeers, Ritani and Kwiat are all choosing Platinum in their designs. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a star to own a Platinum ring. Platinum engagement and wedding rings are available for a wide variety of budgets -; making it an affordable luxury. Some resources that offer popular price points include Lieberfarb, Scott Kay and Blue Nile. “As the ultimate metal, Platinum’s unmatched durability and beauty make it a top pick among designers and 81 percent of brides,” said Michael O’Connor.

For more information, visit www.engagementguide.com and www.preciousplatinum.com.

Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips for the Bride

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – You want everything to be picture perfect for your wedding, including your smile. But like everything else about your big day, that perfect smile could require some work ahead of time. In fact, experts suggest starting your entire beauty regimen six months before the wedding.
Here’s a complete pre-wedding beauty checklist.
* Lips: Get soft, kissable lips by brushing away flakes of dry skin with an infant toothbrush soaked in baking soda and water. Apply healing ointment, and in no time, your lips will be ready for that “kiss the bride” kiss.
* Teeth: A cosmetic dentist can often correct an imperfect smile with veneers. But if spending painful hours in the dentist’s chair getting your teeth ground down sounds like it would put a damper on all the joyful planning, here’s good news: Lumineers (www.lumineers.com) are now used by thousands of dentists nationwide and can be applied in two short, pain-free appointments.
Unlike other veneer procedures, Lumineers are so strong and thin that they don’t require removal of sensitive tooth structure. The procedure is quick, painless and even reversible.
* Makeup: Women with warm skin tones look best in makeup with pink, coral, peach, amber, brown and red with yellow undertones. If you have a cool skin tone, choose pink, berry, lilac, mauve or red with blue undertones.
* Skin: Make your face glow with a good cleansing program. Use a cleanser that’s appropriate for your skin type in the morning, makeup remover and cleanser at night and a daily moisturizer. Use a gentle facial scrub once a week.
* Hair: If you’re planning to change your hairstyle or color, experiment several months before the wedding so you have time to correct any mistakes.
* Nails: If you’re a nail-biter, get weekly manicures to keep your nails healthy. Plan your last manicure a couple of days before the big day. Choose a pretty pale pink or splurge on a French manicure, not just because it looks great, but because the chips won’t show as much and are easy to fix. You’ll have beautiful hands for the rehearsal dinner and any other festivities.
Don’t forget, practice makes perfect. Schedule a trial run with your hair and makeup artists several days before your wedding, so there are no surprises the day of the ceremony.

Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips for the Bride

<b>Pre-Wedding Beauty Tips for the Bride</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – You want everything to be picture perfect for your wedding, including your smile. But like everything else about your big day, that perfect smile could require some work ahead of time. In fact, experts suggest starting your entire beauty regimen six months before the wedding.

Here’s a complete pre-wedding beauty checklist.

* Lips: Get soft, kissable lips by brushing away flakes of dry skin with an infant toothbrush soaked in baking soda and water. Apply healing ointment, and in no time, your lips will be ready for that “kiss the bride” kiss.

* Teeth: A cosmetic dentist can often correct an imperfect smile with veneers. But if spending painful hours in the dentist’s chair getting your teeth ground down sounds like it would put a damper on all the joyful planning, here’s good news: Lumineers (www.lumineers.com) are now used by thousands of dentists nationwide and can be applied in two short, pain-free appointments.

Unlike other veneer procedures, Lumineers are so strong and thin that they don’t require removal of sensitive tooth structure. The procedure is quick, painless and even reversible.

* Makeup: Women with warm skin tones look best in makeup with pink, coral, peach, amber, brown and red with yellow undertones. If you have a cool skin tone, choose pink, berry, lilac, mauve or red with blue undertones.

* Skin: Make your face glow with a good cleansing program. Use a cleanser that’s appropriate for your skin type in the morning, makeup remover and cleanser at night and a daily moisturizer. Use a gentle facial scrub once a week.

* Hair: If you’re planning to change your hairstyle or color, experiment several months before the wedding so you have time to correct any mistakes.

* Nails: If you’re a nail-biter, get weekly manicures to keep your nails healthy. Plan your last manicure a couple of days before the big day. Choose a pretty pale pink or splurge on a French manicure, not just because it looks great, but because the chips won’t show as much and are easy to fix. You’ll have beautiful hands for the rehearsal dinner and any other festivities.

Don’t forget, practice makes perfect. Schedule a trial run with your hair and makeup artists several days before your wedding, so there are no surprises the day of the ceremony.

Saying ‘I Do’ and Enjoying It Too

<b>Saying ‘I Do’ and Enjoying It Too</b>“></td>
<td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For many brides, the quest to plan the perfect day can quickly turn into a nightmare trip down the aisle. Here are a few tips to keep your wedding day bliss from turning into the honeymoon blues.

* Marriage Planning 101: Once the ring goes on, the race to plan the perfect wedding begins, giving couples little time to think about the marriage itself or how their wedding spending decisions could affect their future. But smart couples are now setting aside time to address pre-wedding issues such as what they will do when it comes to financial planning, spending money, raising children and family politics.

With nearly half of all newlyweds taking on debt to finance their “big day,” couples should take every opportunity to make their wedding-related and everyday spending count toward their future.

One unique new rewards program, uTANGO.com, offers couples $10,000, $100,000 and even $1 million in cash rewards to stay married and shop with uTANGO’s 250-plus merchants such as Expedia, Target.com, Nordstrom.com and BlueNile.

In addition to helping couples save for their future, uTANGO.com offers free advice from wedding, financial and relationship experts. By taking a proactive approach, couples can leverage their wedding spending to ease financial worries and start building toward their future.

* Destination USA: While destination weddings, especially to international locales, continue to be one of the hottest wedding trends in recent years, they can also present challenges such as increased costs, security concerns, language barriers and unreliable vendors.

A less expensive alternative is to pick a centrally located U.S. city like Chicago, known for fantastic wedding and party venues, choice accommodations and activities to suit any taste and budget. It may not be as exotic as Tahiti, but couples often find that more family and friends can attend and planning challenges are drastically reduced when the nuptials stay stateside.

* Managing wedding expectations: For many brides, planning the perfect wedding is a major life event decades in the making. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how wedding expectations can get out of hand in a hurry.

With wedding euphoria taking over, busy brides and grooms can quickly lose sight of spending, causing the perfect wedding to turn into fights over money. By managing expectations of what a “dream” wedding should be, it is still possible to have a lovely and elegant wedding without breaking the bank.

* Bridezilla-free zone: The term “Bridezilla” has been used to describe a difficult, unpleasant, perfectionist bride whose obsession with planning the perfect wedding day leaves frustrated family, friends, bridal vendors and even her groom distraught in her wake.

Belligerent Bridezillas beware: Horror stories of fist fights, hair pulling, kicking and screaming from out of control brides-to-be have put wedding planners, vendors and bridesmaids on the offensive. Some wedding vendors now go as far as to include language in their contracts reserving the right to cancel if the bride’s behavior is determined to be “out of control or abusive.” So, whether you hit the gym or hit the spa, have a plan in place to handle wedding-related stress and keep Bridezilla at bay.

* Just say “no”: Brides place such demands on their bridesmaids these days that it is not uncommon for them to decline, even when it’s one of their best friends. Not only is the financial responsibility of being a bridesmaid staggering, but the time commitment demanded by some brides is also daunting.

The massive to-do lists handed out by brides, coupled with the obligatory appearances for shopping, parties and showers, can leave bridesmaids feeling underappreciated, overworked and broke after the wedding is over.

Brides should be upfront about both time and financial expectations with their friends when asking them to join their wedding party and understand if the answer is no.

Martie Duncan is a nationally renowned wedding expert who has worked in the bridal industry for more than 20 years. Duncan has consulted on episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and the film “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and is currently editor in chief of the

uTANGO.com LifeMatters e-magazine (www.utango.com/LifeMatters).