If you haven’t already made plans to attend the 2012 Bridal Expo at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz, there is still time to get it onto your calendar.

This year the Expo is on Sunday, January 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fashion show will take place in the spectacular glass ceilinged Sun Room overlooking the Monterey Bay.

This is a great opportunity to check out Santa Cruz area caterers, florists, and everything that you might need for your wedding.

So mark the date, grab a few friends and mom too, and head on down for a fun and informative day by the beach.

Visit http://cocoanutgrovesantacruz.com/public-events/bridalexpo/

In a perfect world, all your bridesmaids would have perfect feet, between a size 6 and a size 9, all of medium width and none of them would have bunions, hammer toes, problem arches or black and blue hikers toes.

But this is not a perfect world, so before you select what you think is just the right shoe for all your bridesmaids, be sure to check in with them first.  Are there any comfort issues; are they all used to walking in 4 inch heels; does the shoe you love even come in their size?

One simple solution is to request a specific color in a range of suitable styles. If you request basic black, white or silver, those should not be too hard to find.  If you want a specific color such as emerald or pale blue, see who carries dye-able shoes in your area or on-line.

If you let your bridesmaids pick their own shoes, they will probably end up with great looking shoes that they will wear again.  Keep in mind, however, that if one of your girls typically wears only Crocs or ankle boots, you might want to see a picture of the shoe she selects before you give the go ahead. This is a simple request that you can ask of all your bridesmaids without offending anyone.

I have provided a link to a very complete site that I think you will find helpful at: http://weddings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Bridesmaid_Shoes

It is not unusual for modern couples to start a family without deciding to get married first, and the number of couples doing just that is increasing.  Attitudes about marriage have changed quickly and dramatically in the last few decades.  Whether you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant for the first time in the middle of making your wedding plans or you and your beloved have three children and another on the way, pregnancy does not mean you must either rush into a quiet private wedding or apologize to anyone for your choice of lifestyle before deciding to say “I do” in a formal setting.

Planning a wedding is a big deal for any bride-to-be and even more challenging for the expectant bride. So here are a few things to consider as you set your sights on the big day.

Do your homework.  Will the officiant you hope to use or the organization that runs the location you prefer for your wedding, especially if it is a religious site, object to your very public, (and obvious) declaration of love in your condition? Get that taken care of before you lock in your caterer or send invitations.

Can you wear white?  You bet your butt you can.  The symbolism of white representing virginity for the bride is still a fairly recent concept and falling out of favor fast.  If your cousin Sophie can wear white for her third wedding, why shouldn’t you?  Then again, if you think white is boring, this is an excellent opportunity to wear a gorgeous gown in a great color.  Like seafoam, maybe. Well, maybe not.

Consider a shorter ceremony.  With little Emily doing back-flips on your bladder, you could find yourself requesting a time-out for a pit-stop in the middle of your officiant’s surprisingly complete rendition of how the happy couple first met.

Think comfort.  How big (and I do mean BIG) will you be by the wedding?  Take a look at your pregnant relatives or ask them how much weight they put on for their pregnancies.  Use that as a guide.  Be sure your dress will have enough room for both you and the baby to be comfortable.  And don’t forget the shoes.  Be sure the shoes you pick are still comfie at the end of the day when your feet may be a bit swollen.  If you really must wear the sexy, high-heeled strappy shoes for the ceremony, consider having a pair of soft flats for the reception. Sore toes do not make good dancing companions.

These are just a few things to think about.  With the right planning your wedding day can be the joyous event you have been dreaming of. Here are a few sites that you might find helpful:

http://www.wikihow.com/Enjoy-Your-Wedding-as-a-Pregnant-Bride

http://maternityandstyle.com/chat/blogs/the_scene/archive/2010/05/22/3839.aspx

I had the pleasure, just recently, of having dinner at Chaminade in Santa Cruz. While my husband and I were waiting for the rest of our party to arrive, I noticed that a wedding ceremony had just finished up on the Courtyard Terrace.  The wedding pictures were being taken with the backdrop of the Monterey Bay in the distance.  I wandered over to take a closer look as soon as I realized that the two bridesmaids flanking the bride were wearing black.  Cute, knee length, strapless black dresses.  But still, black.  And they looked fantastic.

So what turned simple black dresses into the perfect summer bridesmaid’s gowns?  Accessories.

Both the bride and bridesmaids were holding summer bouquets, filled with orange, yellow, hot pink and chartreuse flowers. The flowers stood out against the black dresses, and could have been overwhelming if it weren’t for the bridesmaid’s accessories.

Each of the ladies wore a silver beaded necklace, with a silk rose pendant. One pendant was hot pink and the other chartreuse, echoing the colors in the bouquets. Upon closer inspection, peering over the low hedge between the dining room patio and the Terrace, I saw that the bridesmaids were wearing shoes to match the pendants.  Those bright flashes of color, from the shoes and the necklaces, turned a basic black dress into the perfect dress for a summer wedding.

The bride was beaming, the bridesmaids were giggling and everyone looked gorgeous.

So, if you are thinking of black for your bridesmaids, go ahead and dive in. If you theme their accessories to the season they will look great.

The money dance, or dollar dance, is a dance set aside for the bride and groom to dance with as many of their guests who wish to and to give the couple an additional gift of dollar bills, either pinned to the bride and groom’s clothing or placed in a special purse or bag used for that purpose.

Traditionally, the money dance has been a means of giving the couple extra cash to get started on their new life together, to be spent for the honeymoon, or as a means of wishing the couple good luck.  The interpretation depends in large part on which cultural background the bride and groom’s families come from.

If this tradition has been a common occurrence at weddings you have attended for family and friends, then you can safely assume it is an accepted tradition and you can plan one for your reception without feeling awkward.

However, if this is not the case, be aware that if you do a money dance at a reception where your guests are not familiar with this concept, you may be putting your guests in the uncomfortable position of suddenly being expected to donate cash to the bride and groom in addition to the wedding and shower gifts already given.

If this happens you will be putting some of your guest in a bit of a pickle.  If your godfather arrived at the reception with nothing smaller than a $50 bill in his wallet, then he is in a spot.  Does he quietly extricate himself from the room for an extended visit to the men’s room, or does he make an unexpectedly generous donation that he hadn’t been planning on?

An alternative, if you are simply hoping for more face time with your guests, is the “thank you” dance, during which guests who wish to can line up to dance with either the bride or the groom for a brief time, during which you can express to them how much you appreciate them coming to your wedding.

So before you dive into new territory, be sure to get some advise from friends and family about the appropriateness of the dollar dance.  Extra cash is always nice, but not at the price of alienating or embarrassing your guests.

Although it is “common knowledge” that wedding gowns have been traditionally white, that tradition is more recent than most of us realize.

Until the Victorian era the wedding gowns of European nobility and the very wealthy were a way to display the wealth of the brides family and could include silks, furs, lace and heavy jewelry.

Less well off brides commonly wore a new dress that could be worn again, or their “Sunday Best”.

The tradition of the white wedding gown really got started when England’s Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.  Her all-white gown was a departure from the usual in several ways. Not only was it all white, but it was also intended to be worn just once.  This quickly became the preferred option for high society brides on both sides of the Atlantic.

The middle class did not embrace this idea until after WWII when greater prosperity made such extravagances more acceptable.

We are now seeing a change away from the all-white wedding gown, although it continues to be the most popular choice.

Many white gowns now include colorful edging, bright sashes and embroidery.  Some gowns are offered in a range of colors from palest ivory to bright red and even black.

So if the all-white Victorian style ball gown just doesn’t appeal to you, there are lots of options for you to step outside of tradition.

Here is a link to a collection of more colorful wedding gowns:

http://www.google.com/images?client=safari&rls=en&q=colorful+wedding+gowns&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=mXUGTdyQKozksQPTq5GUBw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&ved=0CEEQsAQwAQ&biw=1042&bih=981

You may imagine that everything will be perfect on your wedding day.  And why shouldn’t it be?  You’ve planned every detail, your checklist is completed and everything, including the planets, seems to be lined up just right.

Well, guess what?  Something, somewhere will go wrong.  And how you deal with those little disasters is going to determine whether you sail through the day with your head up and a smile on your face or end up in tears, sure that your special day has been ruined.

First off, no matter what goes wrong, your friends and guests don’t really care.  They are there to celebrate your wedding, not see a grand performance.  And the little things that go wrong, if handled well, can provide some of your best wedding stories.

The possibilities are endless.  So, be prepared.

Something rips loose:  Breathe. Have a small sewing kit available to repair buttons, hems, trim, sequins, tuxedo seams, whatever could possibly come apart.

Aunt Becky gives you a big smooch when she arrives, and suddenly you are wearing her lipstick on your cheek: Breathe. Have a small make-up kit nearby for quick touchups.

The flower girl throws up.  Breathe, but not too near the flower girl.  Hand her off to her mom and do without.  No one will mind.

You get the idea. Relax, be calm, and don’t let circumstances rain on your parade.

Once you are at your wedding location, let go of responsibility.  Make sure you have a couple people on hand, preferably not in the bridal party, who are willing to run interference and quick errands such as checking on the caterer, finding your deodorant, or the groom, or whatever else you need.

And once you start walking down the aisle, breathe…. and really let go.  This is your moment and the one that your guests have come to share.  Nothing else matters.

Here is a link to a list of just about anything you might need to get you through those wedding day challenges:

http://www.whathappensnow.com/articles_show.cfm?id=50&cat=8&sub=1

If you would like to move beyond the basic bachelor or bachelorette party and try something uniquely Santa Cruz, you might consider surfing school.

Getting your wedding party out on the waves is a great way to really experience the Santa Cruz vibe and provide an experience your friends will always remember.  It’s not everyone who can go to a wedding and come home a surfer.

Surfing schools typically provide everything you need for a fun and safe introduction to surfing.  Lessons are given at local beaches, under expert tutelage with your comfort and safety in mind.

So brush up on your Beach Boys lyrics, grab your flip-flops, and head to the beach for an experience of a lifetime.

Santa Cruz surfing schools are listed under the Activities section of santacruzweddings.com at http://santacruzweddings.com/activities.php