Cubic Zirconia (CZ) was developed by the Russian space program for use in laser guidance equipment as a cost-effective alternative to using rubies which were needed in early lasers. CZ is virtually identical to diamond in terms of its optical properties, and this lends the use of CZ to producing jewelry – it looks, shine and sparkles in almost identical fashion to diamond.
So why should you use a cubic zirconia stone in place of a diamond?
The obvious advantage over diamond is cost; diamond is one of the most valuable substances known to man and it costs roughly one thousand times more than a crystal of zirconium of the same weight.
Cost is not the only advantage over diamond which CZ possesses, just the most obvious one.
Diamond is a naturally occurring crystal which is formed by natural processes deep within the earth’s crust. CZ on the other hand is man-made, using a precisely controlled manufacturing process which allows for excellent quality control over how the crystal is formed.
All diamonds carry imperfections created by trapped gas or foreign matter, so upon close inspection you will see bubbles or imperfections within the stone. There may also be irregularities in the uniformity of the crystal structure itself. None of these imperfections present themselves with CZ, because the process is so stringently controlled – what you get with a zirconium stone is a flawless crystal.
Diamonds usually come with a clear to yellow hue; it is very rare to find a perfectly colorless stone because of the natural environment within which they are formed. Zirconium can be completely clear or have whatever color is desired, so you the jewelry buyer have a wider choice to select a stone from.
In colorless form, CZ is indistinguishable from diamond to the naked eye.
Diamond is a very rigid and extremely strong form of carbon atoms, laid out in a rigid pattern; in fact, it is the hardest naturally-occurring material known to man. This hardness and crystalline rigidity makes it difficult to cut a diamond, however zirconium lends itself to being worked by a gemstone cutter. The result is that zirconium can be worked into a wider variety of shapes and forms than diamond, which again means greater choice for you.
How brilliantly a stone reflects and refracts light which passes through it determines the sparkle it possess – this is known as “fire”. Zirconium refracts and reflects light better than diamond (remember the Russians developed it precisely for this purpose with their space program). Zirconium may be lighter than diamond, and less hard, but its crystalline structure ensures it is able to generate more fire.
While diamonds are naturally occurring, there is nothing natural about how they are extracted from the earth. Diamonds are mined requiring the use of huge amounts of energy and significant environmental damage is caused directly by mining. There are also large amounts of toxic waste produced in separating diamonds from the tons of earth which are excavated and must be disposed of.
Zirconium requires only a fraction of the energy which diamond excavation uses and waste products are minimal in comparison, making CZ the green alternative to diamond.
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For those with backyards, they can make that space an excellent venue for their special day. And a backyard wedding can vary in size and complexity – a lot depends, of course, on just how large your backyard is. There’s another advantage to using your own property for a wedding – you can have a large amount of hard earned money. But there are a lot of factors you have to weigh in when you hold a wedding in your backyard, and this article will help you understand all the things you’ll need to have on hand when you have a backyard wedding.
1. Think Of How Much Room You Have
Consider space, because this is all important in a backyard wedding, especially if your space isn’t all that large. Allocate a certain amount of space per guest, and calculate how many guests can fit into your yard, then edit your guest list accordingly. Factor in waiters and other staff members as well.
2. Don’t Let It Rain On Your Wedding
Special arrangements need to be made in case of an unexpected change in the weather, as in an unexpected rain fall. Remember that if you set up some sort of marquee, the sort that you choose will depend on the amount of yard you need covered.
3. Theming Your Wedding Will Greatly Enhance It
A theme for your celebration is an excellent idea. Depending on the amount of funds you have on hand you can make your special day truly exceptional. And you can do it rather inexpensively – you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with some paint, art materials and crepe-paper. Imagination is the key, obviously, and the magic and romance that surround any wedding will supply the rest. Involve the family – make refining the theme for your wedding a fun project for everyone – you’ll see that with everyone contributing ideas, you’ll have a crystallized them in no time at all.
4. Cover All The Minor Points To Make Your Event A Success
There’s a lot that goes into making a wedding a successful event, but the nice thing is that people are all willing to help you, so make sure you take advantage of that, and let people handle lesser details while you concentrate on more important ones. One of the most important of all details that need to be arranged is sufficient parking. The easiest way to arrange this is to hire the lot of a nearby community center or church – or almost anywhere with sufficient parking for your purposes. And of course you’ll have to arrange some transport that will bring people to your residence, but that will hardly be a problem. Make sure that you have a backup power supply to cover any failure of electricity. And, elementary though it may sound, ensure that you have enough toilets – you usually need at least four for every hundred people.
5. Improvements To The Yard Will Be Investments For The Future
There are a lot of things you can do to ensure that your backyard is the best place for your wedding, and the nicest part about all this is that you can continue to use these improvements (once you’re married). This is a distinct advantage to being married on your own property. So this is the time to level out the lawn, to fill in those places where water collects each year, to ensure that the patio is polished to look like new. You can even put in some lovely benches and plant a new rock garden – each thing that will do will accentuate both your wedding and the beginnings of your married life. Imagine, after your wedding, having a beautiful, level lawn that is perfectly mowed, with a lovely rock-garden and some beautiful flowering plants. Imagine a beautifully polished patio, with perhaps an interesting swing, and some truly ornamental benches scattered here and there that allow you to enjoy the quiet beauty of your lawn and garden.
6. Work On Improving The Garden
One thing that can truly contribute to the ambiance of your wedding is to have wonderful plants in full bloom around the yard – they can be planted as part of a permanent garden, just ensure that you choose plants that will bloom at the time of your wedding, and they will add so much joy and beauty to the event. And don’t forget to get some best selling cedar porch swings for an aesthetic touch.
7. Music And Lights Set The Mood For Romance
Lighting at a wedding can make such a difference to everything. Not only should you have aesthetics in mind, but also ensure that the house and grounds are adequately lit. Bright lights on the borders of the grounds will ensure that moths don’t enter the grounds themselves. Then some soft yellow lamps around the grounds should add an aura of romance. Put in solar lamps around the walks, to ensure that no area of the grounds is in total darkness. Add to that just the right musical score and you have a wedding that contains all the magic of romance and timeless harmony.
8. Save On Glassware
Buying things like glassware for your wedding from a good discount store can save you a lot of money, but it might even save you more than you realize, if you donate the purchased items to a recognized charity. That counts as a tax-deductible amount, which means you’ll get it back.
9. Cooling Systems Are Important
Remember, if you plan a summer wedding that hot and sweaty people can get irritable, and that’s hardly the tone you want to set for your wedding. So invest in some efficient cooling – there are a lot of good systems available these days.
10. Make Your Wedding Memorable
It’s important to create a video or to take plenty of photographs of your special day. Because you’re having your wedding in your own backyard, each photograph will call up memories of your special day, and each picture will help you remember things that made your day special, moments that made you smile, or even cry, and the people who shared this wonderful day with you. This is something you don’t want to lose, so make sure you hire a professional to record all this for you – you should ideally call in both a photographer and a videographer, to give you a complete record.
About The Man Who Wrote This…
Jay Chua is the publisher of PorchSwingSets.com. He is also a laid-back resident of Vancouver, Canada, and with his wife Deisy, takes a great interest in following trends in gardening and wedding arrangement. He owns a wonderful hatteras hammocks garden swing at his backyard, and enjoyed writing & reviewing hammocks & swings such as the polyester rope hammock.
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It is a relief to see that there are some people out there who just don’t give a darn how they look. Not even on their wedding day.
I guess that’s not fair. They DO care how they look, they just choose to look like a cartoon character or superhero. Sure. Why not? I mean, if you’re going to do it, do it right. Make sure people remember it. Make sure, for instance, that they remember that you came to your wedding dressed as Wonder Woman, and that your groom dressed like Batman.
Lucky for these folks, both Batman and Wonder Woman were part of Justice League of America in The Brave and the Bold #28, otherwise we’d take issue. We already have to overlook the fact that these wackadoos were attended by Robin (that’s OK), the Joker (WTF?), Yoda (Come on, now), The Incredibles (Really?), Iron Man, Poison Ivy, and The Incredible Hulk (MARVEL COMICS, HELLO?!?!?!) The bridesmaids came dressed in PowerPuff Girls costumes. Oh, the humanity. Step all over those of who who LIKE comic books, why don’t you?
Or, take these folks, who decided to kick it old, old, old, old school.
They actually said, “I yabba dabba do” in their vows. Oh the sweet injustice of it all. At least these people were purist. The bride was attended by Betty Rubble, Barney Rubble stood up as best man, the children attendants were dressed as Bamm-Bamm, and the guests all dressed as cavemen. Er, cave people. My, my.
This one is the real kicker, though. What would the cleaning bills cost to get all that GREEN PAINT off the wedding dress?
I get it that you saw Shrek on your first date. I get that you liked it. I liked it too. A lot. I watch it pretty often still. But what on earth did your mother say when you told her you wanted to paint yourself completely green and wear fake ears on your wedding day? Did she cry? I kind of did, when I heard about this. And the groom. He’s 53! Did he just not give a crap? And what’s with the clown character in the back? Are you TRYING to give me a heart attack?
Oh well, right? As long as they are happy, that is what matters….
Bridesmaid. The word has varying effects on people, depending on their past experiences. For some, it was an honor just to be asked. For others, it was a taffeta nightmare.
Some brides choose bridesmaid dresses that they are absolutely sure their bridesmaids will look terrible in. That’s called, “I have low self esteem and want to make sure I’m the prettiest one in my pictures.” Other brides have some bridesmaids that will look good in a particular dress, and others who WON’T look good in it. “It’s not on purpose, Amy. You’re just fat, is all.”
Other times, brides will choose bridesmaid dresses that they think are absolutely beautiful. They’d be happy to wear the dress, if they were not the bride, but only a mere bridesmaid. “And the best thing about it is you can shorten it and wear it again.” Right? RIGHT?
Just because it’s fun, and because we sometimes all need a laugh, here are some bridesmaid dresses that are sure to make you glad she DIDN’T ask you.
This is an easy one to start off on, because this picture is clearly from the seventies, and those dresses are probably still in tact somewhere, because that grade of polyester has the shelf life of a Twinkie. And you know about Twinkies.
Again, we can chalk this up to the crazy days of hallucinogenic drugs and free love. I just wonder why that one lady on the end got to wear a cape. Where are all the rest of the capes? That’s what that brown -haired lady on the other end is thinking, “Where the … is my cape?”
And neither do any of these people. Can you imagine the phone call on this one? “Amy, will you be a bridesmaid in my wedding?” “Um, I don’t really have enough money for a dress.” “Oh, that’s OK. You’ll just need to wear black pumps, a g-string, and some pasties.” “Wow. It’s so nice of you to let us wear what we just wear to work.” “Oh, it’s no problem. The hat I’m wearing is so amazing that nobody will even notice your nakedness, so I’m sorry about that, but at least Joey’s going to wear his stripey socks and that Elvis clown mask he wore when he got arrested for snorting sand that time.” “Oh yeah. Joey’s such a trip. See you at the wedding!”
What? I make my own fun. I swiped a lot of these pictures from Tacky Weddings. Stay classy.
Face it. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. You’ll want to remember it in every way possible. You’ll want more photographs than were taken. You’ll want more video than you have. You’ll want many, many reminders.
So why not pay some hipster DJ to mix up and edit a video of your wedding and turn it into some weirdo music video? Sure! Because you don’t want to remember the day as it WAS. You want to remember it the way that some guy in skinny jeans mixed it in his uber hip studio (or mom’s garage) a few days after the wedding. Right?
Actually, the video is pretty cute, and the couple is from La Grange, GA, which is a super cute little town. I spent a week there one day. But seriously folks. It is a cute town. As for the video…I’d be curious to hear what Lauren and J.P. think after about 6 or 7 years, wouldn’t you? It will either be a “Gee, Honey. I’m soooo glad we did that” situation, or it will be like when you’re twelve and you’re at the beach, and your friend talks you into going into one of those “Make Your Own Music Video” places where they have, like, two props and you two get up and sing “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston followed by a rousing rendition of “Walk Like an Egyptian” whilst dancing all willy nilly and then 6 or 7 years later you find the tape and you accidentally watch it in front of your boyfriend who promptly dumps you. Except for in Lauren and J.P.’s situation, that will be their 3 or 4 year old. Who might think it’s cool. But then will surely, in many years, show it to all their snotty teenager friends, who will be like, “What was that band, anyway?”
In other words, is this something that will be cherished. Is it a lasting treasure? Or just a moment’s pleasure?
But seriously. Props to Matt Odom, who just went for it. You go, Matt.
Summer weddings are popular for a number of reasons: the brilliant sunshine, the ready abundance of flowers and plants, and the overall sense of energy and vibrant life that comes with the season. These sunny celebrations of love and eternity do present a seemingly inescapable fact of nature: the heat. Not to be dissuaded; however, countless couples choose to tie the knot outdoors during the summer.
Fear not! Surviving the sweltering temperatures is easily accomplished for both the guests and the bride and groom. Here are a few simple tips for keeping your cool:
- If you’re invited to a summer fete, choose a light-colored outfit (avoiding white, of course). The light colors will help reflect the sun’s rays and keep you cooler than dark colors. Also, if you wear a dress, avoid long skirts. Knee length or mid calf skirt will allow for the movement of air without smothering your legs.
- If you have long hair (bride or guest), wearing your hair up will work wonders to keep your neck and shoulders cool and pleasantly un-sweaty.
- Stay hydrated. One of the number one dangers during any summertime celebration is dehydration. Keep cool beverages on hand. This can be especially important for the bride and groom, as she is likely to be weigh down under layers of a heavy wedding gown, while he’ll be sporting a fetching (but also heavy) tuxedo.
- Try to stay in the shade. Avoiding the direct sunlight can help keep you cool as well as avoiding sunburn. Sunscreen is a must for outdoor ceremonies. No one wants a blistering sunburn as their thank-you note for attending.
So don’t dread the long ceremony in the sun. With proper planning and a little common sense, disaster can be avoided and you can cut loose and celebrate with the proper enthusiasm, without worrying about the heat.
Many brides dream of their bridal shower. The classic bridal shower was held in the spring or early summer, and would be a light luncheon or a tea. It was pretty much the same just about everywhere you went. Today’s bridal showers are much different! You’ll find today’s bridal showers are just as individual and unique as the brides.
But the biggest challenge in planning a bridal shower is trying to decide what type of bridal shower to hold. Where once only one type of bridal shower was “perfect,” now there are so many choices! Take our quiz to discover your (as a bride) or your friend’s (the bride) Bridal Shower Style to plan the best bridal shower ever!
The perfect vacation for you is:
- A romantic getaway to Paris with your sweetie
- A weekend getaway with friends to Las Vegas or another hotspot
- Renting a beach house with another couple
- You’ll just “go with the flow,” the perfect vacation and destination will come!
You have an extra $100. You…
- Take your sweetie out for an evening at the theatre
- Buy that little black dress you’ve had your eye on, or a great pair of shoes
- Get steaks for the grill and plan a BBQ with family and friends
- Do the first thing that inspires you, buy jewelry, donate to charity, go out somewhere fun!
You’re getting a new pet. Your pet is…
- A faithful and loyal Golden Retriever
- This year’s most popular breed dog you’ve seen every celebrity get
- A German Sheppard puppy. You’re good at taking care of animals.
- You’re not sure, you’ll see what they have at the pet store/animal shelter
Tally up your results!
Mostly A’s: You’re a Romantic & Traditional Bridal Shower
This bride will especially appreciate a bridal shower that focuses on love & romance. She’s very excited about the wedding, because she’s marrying her sweetie and probably talks about him often. If she’s registered for bridal shower gifts, they are probably gifts that she can enjoy with her sweetie – not just things she can use on her own.
Mostly B’s: You’re a Trendsetting & Trendwatching Bridal Shower
For this bride what will please her most is having a bridal shower that is modern and fun, probably one that has details that you’ve seen in popular celebrity and style magazines. She has sophisticated tastes even if she doesn’t live in a big city, and will enjoy food that goes beyond a simple tea and sandwiches shower – try serving sake and sushi for something unique!
Mostly C’s: You’re a Jack & Jill or “Couple’s” Bridal Shower
One of today’s most popular bridal shower trends is the Jack & Jill shower, a wedding shower for couples. If a bride truly enjoys being with her sweetie and doing mostly “couple” things more than anything, she would probably appreciate a fun Jack & Jill shower. There are many things you can do to adapt this theme.
Mostly D’s: You’re an Adaptable Bridal Shower
Some brides are super particular about every last detail. This bride is likely to be very easy going, and will be pleased to get together with friends and family to celebrate her bridal shower. Don’t worry so much about small details like monogrammed napkins or table decorations with this bride. She’s going to be more focused on spending time with the people she loves.
You’re ordering your wedding cake. It has five layers and you want the layers to be raspberry – lemon – raspberry – lemon – raspberry. The baker’s assistant writes it down switching it so it says lemon – raspberry – lemon……You do:
- Politely point out the error before the baker pulls out the baking pans and gets to cooking.
- Shriek “It’s raspberry then lemon!” and burst into tears.
- Call your fiancé and make him explain it. He’s the negotiator.
You are trying on your wedding dress for a fitting. They need to fix the neckline. You:
- Ask someone at the shop the status of fixing the neckline.
- Throw your wedding veil in the air and run through the store saying, “They’ve damaged my dress!”
- Tell your mother and let her talk to the store.
A bridesmaid is not getting the invitations ordered or her other duties done. You need to help get her organized – quick! You:
- Have lunch with her and find out what is going on – help create a plan for her.
- Cry on the phone to her that she is ruining your wedding and then cry to your other 5 bridesmaids about her for two hours.
- Ask your future mother-in-law for advice and let her replace the bridesmaid with a cousin.
The caterer is asking for a second deposit. You’ve paid them but now they want even more. Your wedding is three weeks away and your fiancé is out-of-town. You:
- Call the caterer and ask the reason for the additional deposit. Get the information in writing and understand why you need to pay them.
- Leave work abruptly and go down in person to yell at the manager that he is “wrecking your day” and that he doesn’t understand. Cry on the way back to work and hire a new caterer.
- Call your parents and in-laws and tell them you need a new caterer.
The band you’ve hired has an emergency and now can’t perform on your wedding. You’ve got to find a replacement – fast. You:
- Put out the word to family and friends you need a referral to a great band.
- Cuss out the band manager and tell him you’ll never forget how he tried to ruin your most important day.
- Call your fiancé and let him decide what to do.
Okay, it’s time to tally up. How did you do?
All A’s: Regina Reasonable Bride – rational and practical, you’ve got it all under control
All B’s: Diana Diva Bride – get out of her way, she’s loud, proud and out of control!
All C’s: Beth Baby Girl Bride – time to grow up before you put on that wedding dress
While The Wedding Gal’s Snarky Cousin isn’t always the most romantic creature in the world, nothing gets me right at the heartstrings like a heartfelt and creative wedding proposal. It’s a perfect moment in time, or it can be. It’s not about the right table linens or the perfect bouquet. It’s not about bridesmaid dresses that could ruin friendships or whether or not to serve shellfish at the reception. It’s a moment of maximum potential, when two people first make a commitment to spend their lives together. It’s a fresh, new, unblemished promise – unsullied by seating charts and unruly flower girls.
So you’ve got this perfectly unblemished moment, full of romantic promise and magic, so why not make it happen on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year? St. Valentine’s Day!
I know what you’re thinking. How could I, The Wedding Gal’s Snarky Cousin, possibly expect you to believe that Valentine’s Day is actually romantic? A Hallmark holiday that makes every unmatched singleton feel rotten and every person that is in a relationship feel this unfair obligation to buy gifts and confections? Phooey on Valentine’s Day! Right?
WRONG!! St. Valentine, according to one legend, married young lovers in secret when marriage was outlawed by Claudius Gothicus. St. Valentine kept love alive in a time of war and oppression. Romantic, huh? So, in keeping with romantic tradition, here are some do’s and don’t do’s for proposing on Valentine’s Day:
Say It Sweetly
Conversation Hearts are the best-selling Valentine candy. Made by Necco, they have been printing little sayings on the heart-shaped treats since the 1860′s. The kind of conversation heart you can buy today have been around since 1902. That’s a long history of being a Valentine’s Day staple. Even though the company has tried to make their treats more current with sayings like “E-mail Me,” you can go one better and use a fine grit sandpaper to remove the original message and add your own with a food coloring marker. You can write “Marry Me” on all of them, or you can write what will be her married name on all of them. She’ll get the idea.
DON’T go to all the trouble of sanding off the little phrases on a gajillion candies and then neglect to have something romantic to say. You can do it. Just don’t be all, “I got you this candy” and just stand there and look at her. Creepy, Dude.
Nothing Beats a Romantic Dinner
I read somewhere that next to home, restaurants are the most popular place for wedding proposals. I read somewhere else that 10% of Valentine proposals happen in restaurants. Somehow that math doesn’t sound right to me, but you can imagine that it happens a lot. We’ve all seen movies. Speaking of movies, see the “Don’t” section below for some more tips, but for now I will say DO take her someplace nice. I know they all tell you to take her to the place you had your first date or the first place you said “I love you.” If your first date was at McDonald’s, you may not want to propose there. Unless she really, really likes McDonald’s. I know I do. But not enough to get engaged there. Do say something sweet to her.
DON’T put her ring in food or drink of any kind. Why? Why would you a) get chocolate or crab dip or champagne all over her nice new ring or b) take the chance that she’ll swallow it and then have to go to the ER and eventually have to have the darn thing removed or….worse? Don’t do it.
Say It Loud, Say It Proud
Use a billboard, a scoreboard, a sky-writing airplane, or an ad before a movie showing, but ONLY IF YOU KNOW SHE’S GOING TO SAY YES!!!
DON’T go to all the trouble, expense, and possibility for public humiliation if you have any doubt in your mind that she’s going to balk.
There you have it, Guys. Don’t say I never gave you anything.
Every little girl dreams of the day she’ll wear her wedding dress, kiss the man of her dreams and have the beautiful wedding she’s always imagined. But most women also really want to get in shape so they’ll look fantastic in that wedding dress! Even women who’ve exercised regularly, often increase their exercise regimen as brides to be.
Don’t try to drop a dozen inches in two weeks – it simply isn’t going to happen. But most women can make great improvements with a little determination and sticking to an exercise plan. Try some of our helpful tips to get fit for your wedding day!
If you exercise already, look at what you need to improve. This may involve getting a session or two with a personal trainer. Most brides truly don’t want another expense while planning their wedding, but seeing a personal trainer can save you time and help you avoid from over exercising the wrong muscle groups. A personal trainer can make suggestions on how to increase exercise to reach your goals and will customize a plan. Can’t afford a personal trainer? Try asking a friend who is passionate about fitness for some tips and advice!
If you don’t exercise, now is a great time to start. But you’ll want to be sure not to overdo it. If you are out of shape, starting with a super intense workout can put you at risk for injuries, and no bride to be wants to spend her time nursing overworked muscles when she has wedding planning to do! Start with gentle yoga or twenty to thirty minutes on an exercise machine like a treadmill or elliptical machine. Increase by five to ten minutes every week until you’ve reached about thirty to forty five minutes of cardio.
For the bride who wants to lose weight, the secret is a one-two punch of cardio and weight training. You need both pieces of the puzzle. Don’t worry about “bulking up,” that happens with guys. Most women workout with three, five, eight and even ten pound hand weights, depending on the exercise they are doing. The best hand weight is one that feels a little challenging but you can still get through all of the reps.
Give yourself one or two rest days to help get in shape and lose weight. If you lead a very sedentary life (working at a desk most of the time), then probably you would want to take one rest day instead of two. If you do a lot of walking, take care of young children, do gardening or other physical chores, plan on two rest days.
Remember you can’t change your body type as you lose weight. A lot of women get frustrated about their “trouble spots.” Whether this is your arms, legs, belly or another area, it seems that this area may have always bothered you and this is the area you’d really like to see progress. Realize that you may get fit and lose some weight, but if your body is an “apple” or a “pear” that your body will continue to have more weight in the belly (apple) or the hips (pear). Focus on finding that wedding dress that compliments the body you have, instead of looking to change the body type you have, which is simply impossible.
Our best tip: find a bride (or friend) fitness buddy! Research has shown that when you workout with a friend, you will exercise longer and more enthusiastically than if you do it solo. This means you have greater potential to lose weight, get fit and see the results you are hoping for. So find another bride who is getting in shape for her wedding dress, or a friend who wants to get ready for bikini season, and exercise together!