Weddings Closer to Home

Read these tips from real-life brides who have "been there, done that" and have practical tips and advice to share with anyone planning a wedding.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe Couple: Stefanie Ahner and Todd Alt; The Location: The Don Cesar Beach Resort: St. Pete Beach, Fla.

All About

Stephanie's Story: "Both Todd and I have always loved the beach, so when we were deciding on where to get married there was no question about it being anywhere but the beach. We wanted it to be a memorable, elegant affair but with a beach setting where our out-of-town guests could also enjoy a mini-vacation."


Her Tips:

Surprise each other: "Without even knowing it, both my husband and I both had planned a surprise for each other to be revealed at our reception. I surprised my husband with a Fireman Groom's cake, which is his occupation. I knew he would think that was special and there were several of his coworkers at the wedding that I knew would think it was neat, too. For his surprise to me, my husband wrote and recorded a song for me to be played during our first dance song as husband and wife. Beyond that, he had been working with our videographer in making a professional music video of him singing and recording the song which is what he surprised me with as our first dance at the reception. It was so special and such a surprise that I cried through the whole thing. For your big day, plan on doing just a little something to let your honey know that he or she is special; it will make the day even more memorable."

Go crazy with color: "We used a lot of color in our wedding: From the invitations to the flowers, everything had color. It just made everything pop! We had so many comments about how beautiful everything looked and it was because it all stood out in vibrant color."

Spend time with out-of-town guests after the wedding: "Have a lot of out-of-town guests? If you do, plan your wedding not just as a 'day' but as an entire weekend. We planned our rehearsal on Thursday evening and our wedding on Friday evening, which left us with Saturday and Sunday to relax and spend extra time with our family and friends. We waited until Tuesday to leave for our honeymoon so we could enjoy a few days to relax, repack and not feel rushed to get out of town."