Wedding Party Gift Ideas

Being a wedding planner on the North Shore, brides and grooms often ask me for some gift suggestions for wedding party or parents/family. Below are some of my favorite suggestions - enjoy!

Oatmeal Lace - deliciously preppy matching clutches and beautiful bouquet wraps

Scout Bags - cosmetic, travel, beach, tote bags - monogram available

BHLDN - vintage and classic jewelry

Tie Bar - and for the men: fun, affordable and customizable ties, pocket squares and socks

Dogeared Bridal - simple and sweet jewelry for moms and 'maids

Baked by Melissa - bite-sized cupcakes in every custom color(s) and flavor imaginable! 

Borsari Photography - getting married on Cape Ann, the North Shore, Cape Cod, or Martha's Vineyard? There's a book for that...


DIY Advice You Won't Want to Miss!

As a wedding planner living on the North Shore, I see local inspiration everywhere - and love me some good DIY fun. I always tell my couples that a great measure of success is when wedding guests leave your wedding saying, "That really felt like Melissa and Jason" or they talk specifically about the cool unique touches that are a special nod to the bride or groom's personality.

However, Do-It-Yourselfing is always the answer for everything - below are some tips I've learned over the years.  

  • Think realistically about how much you're willing to take on. Really think about that cool element you're doing - think through all the steps it will take from start to finish - and then decide if you want to move forward and give the time it will take.
  • Pace yourself. Having a dozen DIY projects is generally a good recipe for a stressed out bride-to-be...and that's not fun for anyone involved.
  • Price out projects. Sometimes when it comes down to money spent, the cost-benefit analysis may lead you to just pay to outsource...or modify your idea.
  • Consider your timeline. Don't load yourself up with DIY projects in the weeks leading up to your wedding. Cool stuff you can do a million months in advance? Awesome. Timely initiatives where you won't get the info or materials you need until just before the big day? Consider carefully.
  • Ask for help. You may not want to be heat thermographing 1,000 starfish onto escort cards by yourself, or scouring the beaches for driftwood only to discover you can't fit it all in your car. Involve your partner, your 'maids, your family - and as a bonus they'll feel more connected to the wedding day having put in some good sweat equity. 
  • Expect imperfection. While quality control is important, don't obsess over making everything perfect - your DIY projects come from a place of love and will be appreciated for the effort and work you put into them.

2015 Bridal Fashion Week!!!

The CEO of, Kellee Khalil, talks about the latest wedding dress trends: plunging necklines, shorter hems, and not-your-mother's-sleeves : oh my! 

Awesome wedding photos you'll want to have

I always tell my brides and grooms that the only elements they'll have left over after their day is done are their wedding bands and their photographs. Tips for choosing a photographer is another blog entry for another time. In the meantime, below are some fun, unique and all-around awesome ideas to ask your photog (ahead of time) to capture. You'll be glad you did!

  1. The bride looking at her dress before stepping into it. Trust me, the look in her eyes will be worth a thousand words.
  2. Capture the floral bouquets / boutonnieres in a unique way- have bridesmaids hold them (or groomsmen wear them) and take a mid-section artsy shot showing off their couture as well.
  3. A fun, kooky bridesmaids shot. After the obligatory smile/snap, go for goofy glory. I speak from personal experience on this one - my fav shot with my girls was a funny one where their individual personalities shined. Ditto that for the dudes.
  4. A cool engagement ring / wedding band shot. Most photographers have this one down pat, but incorporating your rings in a neat way that has to do with the design of your wedding is a fun detail shot to have.
  5. Get that groom. This one is a particular note to couples who may only have one photographer at their ceremony. While all eyes are on the bride as she makes her way down the aisle, we can't forget about our groom. The look on his face will be priceless, and the photo will be one his bride loves forever. 
  6. The details. All that DIY work that you (or others) are slaving over? Tell your photographer. Any fun surprises or unexpected elements planned? Tell your photographer. A special signature cocktail? Tell your photographer. Escort or table name cards meaningful to you and your partner? Tell your photographer. You get my point...any of those wonderful details that will make your day unique you want to be sure you get captured. Your photographer will appreciate the heads up as well.
  7.  First dance frenzy. During the first dance, your photographer should be busy as a bee. Of course getting gorgeous shots of the happy couple, but some gems come from those looking on. Parents, grandparents, close friends...brides and grooms don't see this as they're dancing, but they're so sweet and touching to view afterwards.
  8. Get dancing shots early on. Seasoned photographers know this, but as the reception goes on and the bar gets busier, the dancing shots get, well, generally less flattering. Early in the reception is prime-time for dancing shots. Generally the floor is a good mix of ages and ranges, and guests have spent less time at the open bar. 

To Transport or Not to Transport…that is the question

Transportation is a toughie. It generally is on a couple’s list in the beginning stages of planning, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty and cost (you mean we have to pay them to just SIT there for 4 hours???) alternate options become more tolerable. Most couples want transportation for two reasons: 1 – convenience for guests and 2 – to release worry/liability of drinking and driving. If you just can’t swallow shelling out cold hard cash for an entire night’s transport, some alternate options:

·      Transport one way. If your guests’ hotels are in close proximity to the reception venue, and said venue is in a populated area with cabs/Ubers, you could consider transporting one way – from hotel to ceremony to reception, if two separate locales, or from hotel to ceremony/reception venue. Just be sure to let guests know in advance and provide cab info (i.e. on your wedding website, in a welcome basket, etc.) and give local cab companies the heads up so they’ll have plenty of drivers at-the-ready.

·      Consider alternate means of transportation. Have your heart set on that fancy shuttle service with the neon lights and kicked-up stereo system? Let me be the one to break it to you – at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter all that much. What does is that you have reliable, safe transportation that gets guests where they need to be on time. So instead of a souped-up shuttle or vintage trolley, consider a school bus or multi-passenger vans – which can be kitchy and fun in its own way.

·      Forego all together. Consider how many guests will be driving themselves anyway, will come in groups or have access to rental cars. Also consider what the parking situation is like at the reception venue. (And in truth, also consider how likely your guests are to imbibe to excess.) When you add all this up it may simply not be worth your while to provide transport. Whatever you decide, give yourself a pat on the back for considering your guests’ comfort.

Dress by..... Charmin?

The 10th annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Competition (yes, that's right) was held this past weekend in NYC. The requirements are to make a dress made only of toilet paper, tape, glue, and thread. Below are some of the shockingly amazing designs for your viewing pleasure. The first two photos are of the winning design.

tp winning design 1.jpg

Twin Lights Wedding Design Press, Gloucester, MA

May 27, 2014

Rockport native offers wedding, event planning

By Times Staff 
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — A Rockport native has started a new endeavor with Twin Lights Wedding Design, a boutique wedding planning business.

Melissa (nee Rowell) Larocque, who has worked in advertising and event coordination on a national and international level, offers her services anywhere from Cape Ann to Boston and beyond. She creates custom packages catered to various budgets, providing full-service planning, including vendor searches, budget management, creative design, and takes care of all logistics and timelines. She is also available for month-of-the-event coordination, which to date is her most popular offering.

“Brides and grooms put so much time, energy, and money into their big day, that investing in a wedding coordinator to make sure that their vision becomes reality is a no-brainer and one that pays off in a multitude of expected, and unexpected, ways,” she said. 


Click here to read the full article! Thanks to the Gloucester Daily Times for the love.

How To Address Wedding Invitations

As a wedding planner, a common question I get from couples during the invitation process is how to best address wedding invitations. With so many modern, wonderfully blended families, this can get tricky. So I thought it would be helpful to get them all in one place. Here are some of my best tips:

  1. Married Couple:
    • Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Rowell (spell out the husband's full first name)
  2. Single Female Guest:
    • Ms. Ashley Murphy (use Ms. if she is over the age of 16; if under, use Miss)
  3. Hyphenated Last Name:
    • Mr. David Murphy and Ms. Susan Allan-Murphy (Mrs. instead of Ms. is also acceptable...but default to Ms. if unsure of her preference)
  4. Unmarried Couple Living Together:
    • Mr. Joseph Smith and Ms. Lucy Abbott (male first, using "and" in between names)
  5. Divorced Female Who Kept Married Name:
    • Mrs. OR Ms. Janice Elwell (if possible, find out which she prefers. If unsure, or if divorced for a while, default to Ms.)
  6. Divorced Female Who Uses Maiden Name:
    • Ms. Julia Smith 
  7. Same Sex Couple:
    • Mr. Ryan O'Toole and Mr. Adam Smith (either can go first; default to alpha order)
  8. Married Couple, Both Doctors, Same Last Name:
    • The Doctors Sullivan or The Drs. Sullivan
  9. Married Couple, Both Doctors, Different Last Name:
    • Doctor (or Dr.) Amy Sullivan and Doctor (or Dr.) George O'Toole
  10. Married Couple, Female Doctor, Same Last Name:
    • Doctor (or Dr.) Amy Sullivan and Mr. George Sullivan (her name comes first)
  11. Widow:
    • Mrs. Nancy Smith OR Mrs. David Smith (can use female's first name or the first name of her late husband)

In terms of judges, commissioned officers, or the like, follow the guideline for doctors - the person with the higher title is always listed first as he/she "outranks" her partner's title. If they are the same title, the male is listed first. Good luck! You can always shoot us an email if you have questions. 

Twin Lights Wedding Design provides boutique wedding planner and wedding coordinator services in Massachusetts serving Cape Ann, the North Shore, and the greater Boston area. 

Unexpected and Non-traditional Parent Dance Songs

The parent dance is an ideal time to have some fun and think outside the box. Songs should be chosen carefully and represent the relationship. Or, you could throw that out the window and go with something you like and is unexpected for your guests. Meg Keene, the author of the fabulous A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, has blogged an awesome list of unexpected parent dance songs compiled from feedback in the field. I've taken her suggestions and combined them with some of my own. Songs for thought!

  1. “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty
  2. “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds
  3. “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” by Randy Newman
  4. “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram 
  5. “Little Willow” by Paul McCartney
  6. “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  7. “Rainbow Connection” by The Muppets (or Jason Mraz or The Carpenters or Willie Nelson)
  8. “You’ve Got A Friend” by Carole King
  9. If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen
  10. “Not Even The King” by Alicia Keys
  11. “Child Of Mine” by Carole King
  12. “Watch Them Grow” by Zach Gill
  13. My Wish” by Rascal Flatts
  14. "Sweet Pea" by Amos Lee
  15. "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor
  16. "Forever Young" by The Pretenders (or Rod Stewart or Bob Dylan)
  17. "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison
  18. "Kind And Generous" by Natalie Merchant

The Best Bridesmaid's Dress...Ever

Well, you've found it. It exists. Look no further. Thanks to The Dessy Group's Twist Dress, maids from coast to coast can rejoice. Just pick your color and length, and the sky's the limit for options. Want everyone looking the same? No problem. Want your gals to express their individuality but don the same color? Easy enough. We all know our besties come in various shapes and sizes (bustier gals: go for the extra suport bandeau), and this dress takes care of all of them with a reasonable price tag. From sexy to strapless to mostly-covered-up, Dessy offers up PDF instructions on how to twist and turn to fabulousness. And the best part - they're wrinkle-free for super easy travel. LOVE.

The new hue of bridal gown....

Monique Lhuillier has done it again. The bridal gown designer known for her whimsical, chic, timeless, and downright gorgeous gowns for brides and bridesmaids has pushed the color code in her Spring 2015 collection by debuting the newest hue - the slightest shade of mint green. Yes, MINT GREEN. We'll let you have a moment....

We loved her when she introduced a whisper of pink back in 2013, and are thankful she didn't stop there. Inspired by watercolor artist John Singer Sargent, the below three dresses are Monique's very own work of art...and we say perfection. 

Love Your Mother (Earth)

In honor of Earth Day, let's throw some love to our Mother by offering up some ideas to honor Her on the big day:

  • Go digital on your photography. With tons of great online album options, this can be an eco-friendly - and budget-friendly - decision. Plus the cash you save from doing a traditional album can be put into a few really great frames and photo prints.
  • Use recycled paper. Swap out traditional paper for recycled for your invitations. Or, take it a step further and save invitations (and cash) by directing guests online to RSVP and print directions, etc. (One of my favorites: Just be sure to have the option of a phone number for mature or digitally challenged guests.
  • Use local vendors. Keep fuel emissions low plus feel good about supporting local businesses. 
  • A donation in lieu of favors. This is one of my favorites. Favors are a nice touch, but let's be honest - no one needs one! Instead, what better way to spend that few hundred bucks than a donation to one of your favorite organizations? Make a nice framed sign or put a note on the menu card announcing your donation in your guests' honor. Decide on an environmental organization for extra green credits. (Hidden bonus: this is also ideal for time-crunched couples.)
  • Eat organically. Talk to your caterer to see what organic and local farm options they have. Feel good about what you eat!
  • Celebrate generously. Register online through programs such as the I Do Foundation, where a percentage of gift purchases goes to support a charity of your choice. How cool is that.

Going green doesn't have to be a all-or-nothing choice. Making mindful, eco-friendly choices in a couple of key areas can really make a difference. Now that's something to feel good about.

Social media on the big day

We all know social media is everywhere and cannot be denied. But whether or not to embrace it at weddings is a debate that leaves many brides and grooms in vastly different camps. Yes, social media is becoming more acceptable in more places, but how would you feel about tweets during the ceremony? Facebook updates during speeches? DJs announcing custom hashtags for guests' Instagram photos? This debate has been recently sparked by the W Hotel's recent offering of a "social media concierge": an a la carte addition to its wedding package to the tune of ::choke:: $3,000. Will this package also come with a gifted iPhone made of gold, you ask? Not likely. What you DO get for that whopping price tag is someone to tweet, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, blog, and even "curate registry wish lists and dream honeymoon Pinterest boards." Hmmmm. Is the social media documentary of your big day the modern-day photo album? Or just an obnoxious waste of money? You be the judge. And whatever your feelings may be, the subject of social media and how it is - or isn't - addressed is a conversation worth having with your wedding planner. 


Cinderella would have never lost that slipper.

Having a wedding planner or coordinator is more important than most couples realize. The problem is, they don't realize how important it actually is until it's too late. Take myself for example. When I got married on Cape Ann, I was used to planning and coordinating things for a living - attention to detail was something I needed to hang my hat on. Understandably, I felt capable of managing one of the most personal days of my life, well, personally. And while there were no MAJOR catastrophes (thank you weather fairies and kind family volunteers), I didn't have the ability to put trust in a professional who was working for us (not who is first loyal to a venue - as wonderful as on-site coordinators can be). Weddings come at an expense; and regardless of what that number is, the relatively minor investment in peace of mind is immeasurable. To have someone who is 100% focused on the bride and groom and all the moving parts of their wedding celebration is a luxury that all couples can afford; they just have to choose to let someone else handle the stress and the worry that is inevitably coming around the corner. It only comes around once - so why not enjoy as much of it as you can? If I were around, Cinderella would have never lost that glass slipper...I would have been there waiting to scoop it up and put it back on her fairytale foot.

Twin Lights Wedding Design specializes in boutique wedding planning and wedding coordination in Massachusetts serving Cape Ann, the North Shore, and the greater Boston area.