Friday, December 29, 2006

THE RECEIVING LINE: A NECESSARY EVIL?: PART III

While I'm sitting at work with nothing to do (a rarity for me), I figured I'd wrap up this series with my final thoughts.

I've noted various questions that I suggest a bride asks herself when considering having the receiving line. This final question/issue may be the most controversial, but it must be said.

"WHAT OTHER "TRADITIONAL ELEMENTS" AM I KEEPING AS PART OF THE RECEPTION? WILL MY GUESTS GET BORED OR OVERLOADED WITH THE FORMALITIES?"

As I've reiterated time and time again, THERE ARE NO "RULES" ABOUT WHAT TO DO-- AND WHAT NOT TO DO-- AT YOUR WEDDING.

Think wedding speeches are dumb or overblown? Skip them (or cut down the number of speakers). Shudder at the idea of the grand entrance (where you and your fiance enter the reception to music)? Enter in a more subtle manner.

The bottom line is trying to keep your guests in mind (the common thread among all of my posts), and none of these traditions is hard and fast to having a "good" wedding.

Therefore, in thinking about the receiving line, keep in mind what other traditions you're retaining---i.e., the number of speeches/toasts, the cake cutting, the grand entrance, the slide show of baby pictures of you and your husband, etc., etc., etc.

I'll be blunt. Guests (myself and those I've spoken with, included) don't particularly like being on a schedule at weddings. The more traditions you keep, the more prone they are to get bored (listening to six speeches, unless the best man is hanging from a chandelier, gets BORING!). I've been to dozens of weddings, and the best (i.e., the most fun) are those that provide flexibility (the ability to roam around, dance with my date, talk to my friends). The not-so-great are those where I'm constantly having to sit down and listen. or watch. or shake hands.

I'm certainly not saying that having a few of these elements is hindrance to a fun wedding. But it is important to think about each element in connection with the other--and how they all add up.

Therefore, if you have a receiving line (certainly a traditional element), think about what else you're doing at the wedding besides dinner and dancing. It may really help you figure out what I like to call "cutting the fat."

Hopefully, these three questions will give ya'll some food for thought.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

THE RECEIVING LINE: A NECESSARY EVIL?: PART II

Continuing with the subject of receiving lines, I want to take up the next question in the series:

HOW LARGE IS MY WEDDING--AND WILL SIZE PERMIT ME TO MEET AND GREET EVERY GUEST (WITHOUT A LINE?)

My friend Bonnie had a very large wedding--over 300 people--mainly because her fiance's parents gave her and Brad (her now-husband) an ultimatum. Brad's parents said they had to invite their entire temple community (i.e., 250 people) or only immediate family (i.e., 5 people)--in order to avoid offending their old friends (with whom they mingled playing bridge, at temple functions, etc). As Brad's parents refused to even consider paying for their share of invitees (a cheap and ridiculous concept which I'll take up in a later post), Bonnie felt cornered. Either she had to have a teeny tiny wedding (since Bonnie and her parents had few people to invite), or a huge affair.

What to do? Bonnie opted for a large-scale affair, despite the fact that most of the people there would be for Brad's parents.

Bonnie and Brad had a receiving line--Bonnie's observation about the situation (and her parent's reaction) is quite telling: "We were standing next to each other, and my mom and dad were meeting all of Mr & Mrs. [Brad's last name] family friends. It went something like this: 'Hi, I'm Mrs. X, and I'm from Levittown, New York. Hello, I'm Mr. Y, and I'm from Levittown, New York. Good evening, I'm Mrs. Z, and I'm from Levittown, New York. My father gave 'a look' to my mother, as if to say 'this is ridiculous! Frankly, I didn't disagree. BUT, I will say that with the line, I kind of avoided having to go and seek out random people I didn't really know later in the evening--it was almost like getting it over with!'"

Sometimes the receiving line is the most convenient way of meeting guests, but it really seemed to provide Bonnie's parents with more aggravation than anything else. Nevertheless, it was an obligation that was over and done with at the beginning of the reception, which pleased Bonnie. I'll save the subject of etiquette when it comes to parents and wedding planning, but the story does illlustrate a point when it comes to these issues.

Getting back to the main question, however-- whether you have a receiving line really depends on if you and your fiance can greet all guests--whether individually or in terms of the tables you have arranged at the reception.

While you should certainly not treat meeting and greeting your guests as a "say hi and run" situation, you shouldn't feel obligated to get into an hour-long discussion. There's simply no time for that. However, it IS important to be realistic about whether or not you can say hello to everyone--if you don't, it's in poor taste. When I went to Heather's wedding (the subject of my posts about inviting guests with a date), she never even came over to the table to say hello to me or the others sitting with me-- I NEVER EVEN SAW HER the entire evening. I felt that was in incredibly poor taste (especially given the circumstances, and that I felt she was on thin ice as it were).

If you have a large wedding, think ahead about whether or not you can realistically greet your guests and thank them for coming. If you feel that is too much to ask, a receiving line may not be a bad idea. When you think about the PRO's and CON's of each scenario, it may help you figure out the best method.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

THE RECEIVING LINE: A NECESSARY EVIL?: PART I

The speeches. The "first" dances (and the various combos thereof--i.e., bride and groom, groom and mother, bride and father, bride's father and bride's mother, groom's father and groom's mother. ETC. ETC. ETC.). The cake cutting. And what I like to call "wedding specific" traditions (cultural or otherwise).

What do all of the above-referenced items have in common? They are all facets of the wedding reception, and make me wonder: given that a reception is really only a few precious hours, have weddings become too regimented and too rote? The various elements have added food for thought.

As a frequent guest at weddings, I find that the events I enjoy most are those with fewer "wedding-y" type of "activities" (like having to sit down and listen to an endless array of toasts, for example)--and more time to hang out with friends, dance with my date, and take in my surroundings.

The receiving line, which is the subject of this series, is one of the elements of a wedding that many people integrate, but may be unnecessary. In order to "cut the fat", so to speak, it's important to remember a few things with respect to the receiving line.

First off, what is it, really? According to Peggy Post's "Q & A" on the Wedding Channel website, "A receiving line is a traditional and organized way for the wedding party to greet guests, after the ceremony or upon their arrival at the reception." A receiving line can include you and your new-husband, as well as your mothers, in addition to other relatives (there is no set formula, and the number of those you include is at your discretion).

There are several factors one must take into account when thinking about the appropriateness of a receiving line. Although these factors cannot be taken independently of one another, I am going to separate them, one-by-one, in this new series. Keep them all in mind when thinking about the topic.

The first question is: WHAT TYPE OF WEDDING ARE YOU HAVING?

The level of formality of the reception comes into play here, and I'll use my mother's wedding as an example. Having been married to my father over thirty years ago (hard to believe), my mother had a large cocktail party reception at a Manhattan hotel. As the older and wiser version of the Wedding Fairy, my mom gave me her thoughts about receiving lines--tied to her own experience thirty+ years back: "Usually, people have them right after the ceremony in the cocktail room--but then you sort of miss the whole cocktail hour. Since I had a cocktail party wedding, we had a receiving line, but as the party went on for a long time, it actually gave the party some structure."

BigSis, on the other hand, had a cocktail reception AND sit-down dinner. If BigSis had the receiving line (either at the beginning of the cocktail hour or the actual dinner reception), she and her husband may have been doing formal meet-and-greets for most of the cocktail hour. Presumably, she still would have included the more formal elements of the dinner reception that I talked about above (including the speeches, cupcake presentation (in lieu of cake cutting), etc. In turn, not only would BigSis have missed getting to relax at her own cocktail hour, but the wedding may have seemed regimented and on a schedule. While a wedding planner may plan a wedding on a certain "schedule" (wedding speech, then dancing, dinner, then another speech, etc.), guests should never FEEL like that's the case. Keep that in mind when thinking about the receiving line--especially as the type of wedding you have may come into play.

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 18, 2006

LET THEM EAT (WEDDING CAKE): PART IV

I wanted to take one last stab at the wedding cake conversation--and use a reader's very cool concept to underscore my point that you can do interest, off the beaten path things with respect to the cake--and the sky's the limit!

One reader commented: "We will have a cake as the centerpiece of each table. That way we have lots of flavors, and it encourages guests to mingle."

What a lovely idea! Having different wedding cakes which are on a smaller scale is one way of keeping things fresh and versatile--and as the reader suggests, a way of encouraging people to socialize with others they may not ordinarily have met. Getting guests to move around may not seem like that important of a concept, but the more movement you have at your wedding (in terms of guests talking, dancing, etc.) is a way to ensure that everyone will eat, drink and most importantly, BE MERRY.

They say variety is the space of life--here, that concept plays to the nootion that each guest is different (ever heard the "I HATE chocolate versus "I can't LIVE WITHOUT chocolate" debate?) Crazy, I know, that some are vanilla-guys/gals, but I am one of those people, and I know there are others out there!

My final thoughts in conclusion to this series- YOU GO, GIRLS (Chrissy, Sara, Megan, and anyone else I've forgotten but should be named!)! It makes me happy to hear about creative brides thinking outside the box.

Stay tuned (next order of business: the receiving line!)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"LET THEM EAT (WEDDING) CAKE: PART III"

One important thing to remember about wedding cakes: they don't have to taste like cardboard anymore.

In the past, brides often felt that they either had to sacrifice SUBSTANCE or STYLE -- even just a few years back, a beautiful and/or creative wedding cake wasn't necessarily....tasty. On the other hand, a yummy wedding cake was oftentimes limited in terms of how creative it could be.

So, how do you make sure that the cake is both tasty and tasteful/beautiful/magical/[INSERT YOUR FAVORITE ADJECTIVE HERE]?

There are a few things to think about on your quest to find the perfect cake--one that your friends and family will enjoy eating--and looking at.

1) CHOOSE A BAKER BASED ON "YOUR VISION": Before you go cake shopping, think about the overall theme/vision of your wedding, and how your cake is meant to fit in. Things to ponder: color scheme, traditional versus modern, and shape. My suggestion is to take clippings of cakes you've seen (and either adored or even hated!) in magazines or websites--this will help you think about what path you're taking--and how the bakery can help meet your needs. In addition, keep in mind the season in which you will hold your wedding reception, as well as whether you are partial to integrating real flowers into the cake--or if you want to let the cake speak for itself in terms of color and style. Many cake makers have websites, which is a great place to start--you can really get to know his/her individual style (whether they are more of a 'romantic' when it comes to creating a cake, or if their taste tends towards funky or unconventional).

2)INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS, INGREDIENTS : According to "The Knot", there are a myriad of tasty options when it comes to wedding cake confections. According to the Knot website: "Buttercream, made from butter and sugar is smooth and creamy, and it stays soft so it’s easy to cut, color, and flavor...easily shaped into swags, borders, and flowers. Fondant, another popular option is made of sugar, corn syrup, water, and gelatin, and is rolled out with a rolling pin before it’s draped over the cake. It makes a smooth firm base for decorative details, and it has a porcelain finish. Other icing choices include marzipan, a paste made from ground almonds, used in sheets like fondant; whipped cream, a sweetened whipped heavy cream (great with fruit fillings); and ganache, a rich mix of chocolate and cream."

Although you needn't be the Rachel Ray of wedding cakes before going to see different bakers, it's a good idea to get schooled on the type of ingredients mentioned above, as the ability to fufill your vision--not to mention the price--will depend on the type of ingredients used. The importance of BALANCE when it comes to a successful wedding cake cannot be overstated--emphasize to the prospective baker that the cake needs to look amazing--and taste that way too!

3) MIND OVER MATTER (THINKING ABOUT THE BUDGET) : No matter what goes into your cake (literally), it's important to remember that while brides have beautiful visions, if the price doesn't work, then you may need to scale things down. The cost of the cake is, at least most of the time, calculated per slice. And, according to the Wedding Channel, most brides spend between $3-$6 per slice. (That money adds up as you find your guest list getting longer and longer!)
However, the price per slice for more complicated and elaborate cakes can go up to as much as $20 bucks! Therefore, you should get as much as possible for what you pay, since this is a large expense that is one of the most noticeable.

Like with every other item on the list of expenses, make sure you get what you want--in writing. (Will purchase of your cake include delivery and set up? What about a cake topper/stand? Whether big or small, the questions aren't stupid--and should be asked. Your vision is important, but the price must be right. Make sure you have open communication with each prospective baker--you'll thank yourself for it.

These are just a few of the things you need to think about when attempting to achieve BALANCE as regards your wedding cake. Your guests should be wowed by both the taste of the confection--and the imagination that goes behind it.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"LET THEM EAT (WEDDING) CAKE: PART II"

I really enjoyed the comments to the last post--thanks for sharing what you've all done for your own weddings. The comments are great, too, as they are very "on point" with my thoughts about the "non traditional" wedding cake and/or "wedding cake alternative."

Sometimes, the concept of doing something different or off-the-beaten-path is unappealing--("What if people think it's weird?" "If they don't like it?") etc. etc. etc.

However, having a "spin" on the wedding-cake can, in fact, be an excellent way to separate yourself from the pack, so to speak. When you have a special element that you can highlight? All the better.

With respect to Megan's wedding in France, I LOVED hearing about what she did for dessert: "We had the traditional French Pièce Montée- stacked cream puffs covered in caramel. Usually they are in the shape of a cone, but we had it in the shape of the chateau where we had the reception. It was different and the American guests really enjoyed it..."

Interlacing cultural themes/traditions into one's wedding--where it's appropriate and fits the circumstances--is a really nice, subtle way of doing something different--but unique and noteworthy. I recently read in a bridal magazine about a bride and groom who had their wedding at a vineyard in Long Island, New York. That particular area of Long Island is very famous for a particular farm, which sells very famous pies (apple, blueberry, and more adventurous flavors as well)--instead of having wedding cake, the bride and groom served pies from the Brieremere farm--which was very much a hit with the wedding guests.

Doing something different doesn't have to be limited to the location of one's wedding, but the heritage of the participants. Serving a traditional dessert to celebrate one's culture--even if it's in lieu of a wedding cake--is a way to invite your guests (in a welcoming and non-intrusive way) to share your background and cultural beliefs--even if it's just for the evening.

There are so many ways to introduce an interesting and varied theme to your reception--beginning with the concept of the wedding cake--and going from there--is certainly one way to do it.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

THE WEDDING FAIRY RETURNS: "LET THEM EAT (WEDDING) CAKE": PART I

Good evening. I have returned from my hiatus, and I appreciate your staying with me while I've been away. Although I've been working my little tail off, I haven't left what I love to do in my spare time --writing about weddings (and while I've been "away", I've been doing a lot of research into the nuts and bolts of wedding planning).

For the past few weeks, I've focused less on etiquette-related subject matter and indulged in learning about the straight-up aspects of planning. And why not? Although I'm (a) not engaged or (b) a paid wedding-planner, I find that looking at the various elements of a wedding leads me to understand bridal behavior--and how planning affects treatment of guests/what guests end up looking when they think about what makes a fun wedding.

What have I been particularly obsessed with? Cakes. For some reason, dresses, flowers, and table settings take a back seat to my persual of the hundreds of wedding cakes on The Wedding Channel. Square ones or circular ones? Fondant? Buttercream? Artificial Flowers or Real Flowers? Conventional or Funky?

I think that choosing a cake is almost like picking a piece of art work -- there is an impressive level of craftmanship that goes into a beautiful cake, and it's an interesting conversation piece--even after the last piece is eaten.

For those of you searching for the perfect cake: definitely check out The Wedding Channel--they have wonderful photographs to help you get a feel or what you're looking for.

I think something important to remember is that there is no paint-by-numbers to picking a cake. The days of conservative, white wedding cakes are a thing of the past (if that's your style, that's great, but it's certainly not required), and guests (believe me, I do) really enjoy seeing (and tasting) something new and different.

So hot pink (like the cake pictured here) may not be your thing. Understandable. Just remember that maintaining that element of fun is part of the modern day wedding, and if you're enjoying yourself (and perhaps not taking yourself so seriously), then your guests definitely will, too.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

STAY TUNED...THE WEDDING FAIRY WILL RETURN

Just wanted to apologize for The Wedding Fairy's hiatus -- I have been compiling and collecting new stories to share, and will be back shortly with more on "what not to do" -- stay tuned for more this coming week and those to follow!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS (PART V): THE "EX" FACTOR


I hate to admit it, but I am a
Lifetime girl. Any crappy drama that is on the first Television channel "for women" will do. Some of my favorites? "The House Next Door." "To Love, Honor and Betray." "The Crying Child."

TallGuy completely makes fun of me for it, but I can't help it. After a long day of mind-bending work and demanding clients, it's nice to come home and watch absolutely mindless television.....

I was thinking about Lifetime television--and all the drama that unfolds--particularly as relates to the issue of the EX factor.

A lot of the Lifetime dramas have to do with ex boyfriends and ex girlfriends, jealousy, intrigue, seduction.....
While planning your wedding may not rise to the level of a Lifetime drama, interesting scenarios can result when thinking about who to invite--and if any exes will be on that list.

My friend Gillian is getting married in March to her fiance, Brandon, and she was telling me about the tension that resulted from figuring out the guest list--and grappling over the issue of whether Brandon's ex girlfriend from summer camp, (CampGirl) would be invited. Gillian had been out to an assortment of birthday parties in Manhattan (at various bars) over the span of her three year relationship with Brandon, and at several of the bars, CampGirl (who was there through mutual friends) would run up to Brandon and give him huge hugs ("OMG Brandon, it's SOOOOO good to seeeeee you!!!!!"--all the while completely ignoring Gillian (without even an acknowledgment of "hi" or "how are you"). While Gillian tolerated Brandon's friendship with CampGirl (and the way CampGirl fawned all over him), the obnoxious and inappropriate behavior was quite a different story.

Each time this occurred, Gillian was livid--even more so because Brandon alternatively would defend CampGirl (i.e. "she really wasn't as rude as you make it out") or deny CampGirl's behavior (i.e. "I didn't even notice that she ignored you").

Gillian was as annoyed with Brandon's obliviousness as she was with CampGirl's outlandish behavior.

When it came time to do wedding planning, Gillian said that first on her list of "CUTS" -- after Brandon's childhood dentist and long-lost cousins--was CampGirl. After all, it wasn't like Brandon and CampGirl kept in touch all that much (through the occasional email and camp reunion), and wouldn't it just create discomfort when it simply wasn't necessary?

In terms of inviting exes, it's important to keep in mind how close the relationship is--and how the relationship will affect you and your guests.

Sure, not all guests will be involved when it comes to the "EX" factor -- but the potential explosiveness of the "Lifetime" type of emotions--jealousy, pettiness, anger, intrigue -- those are best avoided on the big day -- both for you AND your guests (EX or just a innocent bystander) (who wants to witness a nasty, throw-down cat fight at a wedding? Oh wait.... this sounds like Lifetime... maybe I shouldn't have said that!!!)

The outcome of Brandon and Gillian's guest list? CampGirl wasn't invited. Which probably was best for all involved. When it comes to EXes, EVALUATE EVALUATE EVALUATE -- and think long and hard if it's an appropriate decision for all involved. Maybe some have mature relationships and can handle that additional stress, but some women (and men) may be a bit more fragile....

Lifetime is great and all -- but those emotional outbursts and catfights are better left on television.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL": A LESSON FOR THE AGES

I hate to quote a New York Yankee, but Yogi Berra--when it came to baseball--said it best: "It ain't over till it's over."

Well, folks, it is really, truly OVER for The New York Mets this year--and it was a hell of a season.

As you may know, I like to analogize situations related to wedding planning (i.e. the raw emotion, stress, and pleasure that results) with my experiences with sporting events.
Why? As I've explained before, sports are part of our social fabric, and they're something to which most people can relate.

This year, the New York Mets proved to me what baseball is all about--class, joy for the game, and pure athleticism (unmarred by whisperings/rumors about steroid abuse and use of other banned-substances). Every member of the team--from the franchise players (Beltran, Delgado) to the young guns (Wright, Reyes) contributed, busted his butt, and made every Met fan proud to say that they cheer in Flushing--not in the Bronx.

What I learned from this season is that no matter how hard you try, or how badly you want it (players and fans included), things may not necessarily work out the way they should.

This was the METS' year. After the Yankees fell short in the first round of post-season play, it was the METS' turn to shine, earning a place in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers.

I was at Game 7 at Shea Stadium. I can tell you that it felt like the Mets were destined to beat the Cardinals, particularly after Endy Chavez made a sparkling defensive play (with a unbelievable over the fence catch, robbing Cardinals' Rolen of a 2 run home run)--the likes of which have been season maybe ONCE OR TWICE in a baseball game--post season or otherwise.

Despite that play, it didn't happen. I don't know WHAT happened. The Mets, despite having an unbelievable outing out of their unpredicatable rookie pitchers, couldn't get it started--or finished--offensively. With 2 outs, bases loaded, Beltran--the most reliable franchise player the Mets have--went down looking on a beautiful breaking ball. That's just the type of game it was.

Done. With that strike out, the Mets season was over, dreams of a pennant and world series ring quelled.

I kept saying to TallGuy that it wasn't fair.... it wasn't supposed to happen this way. It was THEIR TIME.

What I learned from my disappointment--through my tears--was that no matter how much you want something, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you believe, sometimes you fall short of your goals. Did the Mets want to get to the next level? Of course. Were they busting their butts to get there? Absolutely.

The other thing I thought about as I spoke to TallGuy was that it was just a game.

"There's no crying in baseball!", TallGuy gently pointed out to me (referring to the classic quote from Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own).

You know what? He's right. There IS no crying in baseball.

They did their best, and it was a season to be proud of. That was all I could have asked for--and it made me feel better.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- PERSPECTIVE is one of the most important things to have as you plan your wedding.

Sometimes, despite ALL the planning and all the hard work, things don't always go the way they should. It pours on what should be a beautiful, summer day for your outdoor wedding. The caterer is late. The DJ plays Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" even after you expressly told him not to. Your bridesmaid gets s&#* faced before the ceremony and stumbles down the aisle in front of your 250 guests. The hydrangeas are drooping before the reception begins.

During a wedding, almost anything can go wrong, no matter how much you practice and prep, and prep some more. Whether you have a PLAN B, EXIT STRATEGY or LAST DITCH EFFORT lined up, it may not work out the way you want it.

Sometimes, it's just not fair.

As I discovered, though, there IS no crying in baseball. Keep that in mind as you go through the planning process. While I'm NOT saying your day isn't important--and I know how money is spent to make these things happen--"it" - whatever "it" is -- isn't the end of the world. Your wedding will still be one of the most special moments of your life (just as being at Game 7 was one of mine). Unlike the Mets playoffs, which hopefully will happen again next year, you only get one chance to thoroughly enjoy planning for and celebrating your wedding.
Enjoy the moment--live in it and revel in it--because it's fleeting.

Stay tuned! AND one more thing: LET'S GO METS GO LET'S GO METS!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: A DISCUSSION OF WEDDING RECEPTION SITES (PART III)

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of presentation (as relates to wedding planning, of course) -- and how thoughtfulness can affect your guests (or at least communicate certain messages to them, whether or not a bride intends to do so).

Don't get me wrong here - In thinking about this issue, I'm really putting aside money matters, and whether a bride has a blow-out budget--or only a few dollars to throw around. The most beautiful affair CAN be pulled off on a shoestring budget, and the most thoughtless, thrown together event may be the most expensive you ever attend.

The issue of presentation/thoughtfulness really comes into play when the ceremony/reception is at one's home. Why? Part of the reason is that HOME = COMFORT ZONE. The idea is not to get TOO comfortable in your surroundings - otherwise guests may notice, and it may end up to a bride's disadvantage.

Take, for example, the concept of catering at an intimate, home affair. Vanessa ("V"), a colleague of mine, attended a wedding of one of her close camp friends ("Tina"). The wedding was at the groom's childhood home, an elegant home in the suburbs of Philadelphia (topped with white picket fences, a beautiful white colonial with black shutters, and a backyard to boot).

V said that the location was beautiful-- perfect for a medium sized affair that could be elegant and intimate. The execution? Not great--actually, thrown together and unplanned--at least when it came to the food.

"I'm really not high maintenance, but I could NOT understand how, given how nice the house was and how much money they obviously put into the event (bridesmaids dresses, rehearsal dinner, etc.) food was sort of an afterthought. It was just weird."

What V meant by "afterthought" was the fact that there was (a) VERY little of it and (b) what little there was, it was left out willy-nilly on a dining room table in those picnic-like alumnium tins with tongs for guests to serve themselves.

If this were an afternoon, casual affair, I would think perhaps V were being a little hard on her friend. But V and the other guests were expected to attend the wedding in semi formal/formal attire -- therefore, she was justified in being slightly surprised that the dinner aspect of the evening was somewhat disregarded, and appeared to be an afterthought.

While one need not have white-gloved butlers serving gourmet little hotdogs and champagne when guests first walk into an event, laying out aluminum tins for guests at an otherwise formal event is inconsistent with the appearance of careful planning.

Sure, guests can dig in--and dish out their meals themselves. If they're getting all dressed up and taking trains/planes/automobiles to get to this lavish affair, should they really have to?

The point about home receptions is that a bride/groom wouldn't necessarily face this issue if they were to have the event at an event site/banquet hall - the idea of catering is oftentimes included with choosing such a site. In having the event at home, ALL factors have to be considered. Otherwise, it will look like you didn't really think much about certain aspects of the evening -- feeding your guests is probably one of the most important parts

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: OR IS THERE? A DISCUSSION OF WEDDING RECEPTION SITES: PART II

Having a wedding reception at home can be beautiful and conven-
ient, and there are definitely advantages to saying "I do" in a location with which you are both familiar and comfortable.

However, as nice as a home reception can be (particularly when you are lucky enough to live in (or have parents who live in) a home like the one pictured here!), there are certain "don'ts" that need to be mentioned--otherwise these issues may stick with your guests long after the last car has backed out of your driveway.
My friend Kristen attended a wedding at the home of one of her high school friends (Jennifer)--in the suburbs to the North of Manhattan. It was nice for Kristen to be back in her old neighborhood - as a New York City girl, Kristen missed the green lawns and tree-lined streets. Jennifer's parents recently moved from her childhood home to a larger, more lavish home across town. As Jennifer's parents had just moved in recently, the house was gorgeous and newly constructed.

Kristen said the ceremony and reception at the house were beautiful (and the bride was lucky to have gotten a sunny day and have most of the event outdoors), but she found something a *little* weird about the event: "So I guess the house was new--so new that they must have been worried about foot traffic and people getting the new floors/carpets dirty. They put down brown packing-type paper on the floors throughout the ENTIRE house -- it wasn't taped down very well, so my heels were getting caught as I tried to walk on it when I was in the house. Definitely a little weird (and potentially dangerous), I thought..."

One of the disadvantages to having a reception at your home IS the issue of keeping things clean/neat and in order -- however, when you try and counteract dirt and foot traffic by making your guests walk on brown paper, you lose the element of elegance -- and you add into the equation the issue of putting off your guests AND injuring them!

Putting down brown packing paper on the carpets is basically the same thing as asking your wedding guests to take their shoes off....and THAT seems pretty outrageous to me too.

Therefore, if you do a home reception, keep in mind that there WILL BE issues you'll have to tackle--but in a way that is both understated and subtle. Understatement, safety and subtletly is not achieved by tacking brown packing paper on the floors.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: OR IS THERE?: A DISCUSSION OF WEDDING RECEPTION SITES (PART I)

Choosing a reception site is a daunting process. If your ceremony is at a church or synagogue, brides-to-be have the added complication of travel issues to and from the ceremony and reception, as well as the questions about timing (i.e. when things should begin, and end). But even if your ceremony is at the same place as your reception, there are many things to think about.

Indoors or outdoors?

Hotel or private club?

Modern or romantic, old-school elegant?

Large or small?

These are some of the questions that brides-to-be must answer even before thinking about floral arrangements, Band/DJ, and caterers. The choice of the venue is among the most important decisions made during the planning process--PLUS, it will affect your guests, and therefore, becomes an issue of importance.

For some, the answer is simple. Using one's home as the site for a ceremony and/or reception can be both elegant and cost-effective.

When I was eight years old, I was a flower girl in my then-au pair's (Catherine's) wedding--she had been with my family (and lived in our house) for 10 years and had become a second mom in many ways--although she had left our home to get married, my parents offered our home to her as a site to have the reception. Although it wasn't her "home" in the literal sense, it was figuratively. The wedding was beautiful, and we were lucky enough to have gorgeous, sunny weather which allowed everyone to mingle outdoors.

Don't get me wrong, though -- although our house is very pretty, it by no means is the type you'll see in Modern Bride when they do articles on throwing the "perfect" reception at home. I didn't grow up in a mansion (by any means), and it's not as if there were so many options about where to have the actual event in the house (we had one medium sized living room with french doors which led onto a patio - that was the only choice in terms of an indoor scenario).

In this case, size mattered -- we were lucky that there was only sun and clear blue skies -- otherwise, it could have been CRAMPED. CRAMPED. CRAMPED if rain had set in.

Therefore, if having a wedding at home, the first thing is to think about the number of guests in play, as well as if they will fit both inside and outside your home. Otherwise, things could get a little tight and uncomfortable for everyone.

Thinking back, I'm not sure WHAT would have happened if Catherine's wedding day was rainy or freezing cold -- Catherine was lucky, and my parents were even luckier (since I don't think there was a Plan B, and as the ones who offered, it would have been stressful to scramble at the last minute!)

Make sure to have a Plan B if you're having a wedding at home. Although the photographs in Modern Bride always portray picture-perfect receptions on sunny days--with large, white mansions and picket fences, in real life, things won't be as glossy as they may appear in the magazines.

Most of this is straight-up common sense, but best to think about it right off the bat as you try and tackle the questions I posed above (as related to choosing a reception site).

There may be no place like home, but it's best to think long and hard about your options before turning to that as an option.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

THE INEVITABILITY OF THE NAYSAYERS: HOW TO BE A GRACIOUS BRIDE

The other night, I had the pleasure of watching my favorite sports team in the world, The New York Mets, win the National League Eastern Division Title. As Cliff Floyd caught the final out in left field, and team members tumbled onto one another near the pitcher's mound, I felt nothing but elation. For the first time in eighteen years, The New York Mets had once again become the top of the heap during the regular season--which earned them a berth in postseason play.

The win flooded me with memories about how "Amazin" the Mets used to be---in the days of Strawberry and Darling, Hernandez and Orosco. I grew up with the New York Mets, and distinctly remember attending 1988 NLCS game 3 against the L.A. Dodgers, where Jay Howell, one of the Dodgers' pitchers was thrown out of the game (and subsequently, the series) for using an illegal substance--pine tar--on the ball. My dad bought me a Mets teddy bear at a souvenir stand that night, and I named him "L.A. Cheats" (perhaps not the most subtle name, but please, I was, what, nine years old?) I still have him.

While I still was giddy with excitement the next day, I got to thinking about how people were starting to rain on my parade.

I feigned anger when TallGuy (also a Met-lover), for example, said to me at dinner (I'm paraphrasing him, as I didn't decide to take out my tape recorder at the table): "I don't really see what the big deal is - they were going to win the division anyway... I mean, it was inevitable that they would win the season -- I think baseball overdoes it [i.e. champagne celebrations] for that kind of stuff." I immediately became defensive.

What was the big deal? I huffed and puffed. Here's why:

"There have only been THREE other teams in the HISTORY of the Mets ('69, '86, '88) to WIN the division title!"

"They just BROKE the Atlanta Braves' FOURTEEN year winning streak of division titles!"

"Because Jose Valentin, their eighth hitter, became the hero of the game once again by hitting two homers to help lead them to victory?!!"

Grr. There were so many reasons why this moment was special. I understood TallGuy's point, but I was annoyed that he was making it.

"STOP BEING A NAYSAYER", I told him. I then realized how ridiculous I was acting. We both laughed.

There are other Naysayers out there when it comes to the Mets-- some talking about how the always entertaining Pedro Martinez wasn't the same Pedro he used to be while on the Sox (and would that come back to bite the Mets in the ass). Some others talking about how the Mets had problems hitting against left-handed pitchers. Still some others talking about how the Mets are the poor-man's team in New York City (when compared to mighty Yankees of the Bronx).

For all of the awesome headlines in the NY Post and the NY Daily News, I was also seeing glimmers of doubt. Doubt about how good the Mets really were (since their division was "bad", according to some), doubt about how far they'd make it, etc. etc. etc....

"STOP NAYSAYING!" I wanted to scream at the television and these articles that were casting shadows about the division win.

I can't explain it, but there's something magical about the moldy apple in the top hat (see my sweet photograph which I took at a recent game) that pops up and down when a Met hits a home run, something about the run-down Shea Stadium, and something about Mets fans that gives me reason to believe in something I love.

As you may have seen in my prior posts, I like to make sports analogies when I can. Whether or not you enjoy MLB, the Mets, or NASCAR, sports are part of our social fabric, and therefore, very relatable.

And just like in sports when it comes to the critics (the Mets are overrated, Tom Glavine is over the hill, blah blah blah), there are NAYSAYERS EVERYWHERE -- including in the midst of wedding planning.

Everyone's a critic. I hate to say it - but it's true. What you think is beautiful or fashionable or elegant is probably so, objectively speaking - but while you may think that everyone should be 100% in agreement with you, life doesn't work that way.

Your mother may end up fretting over the flower arrangements (too many hydrangeas? too few?), and even your closest friends may untactfully question the cost of the bridesmaid's dress (inexcusable, as is choosing a dress that is so unaffordable that they'd have to say something!)... there are NAYSAYERS everywhere -- if you choose a destination wedding, people will complain. If you choose a hometown location, people will complain.

YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. NAYSAYING is just as tacky as acting like a bitchy bride who is entitled to everyone's attention 24-7.

My suggestion? Ignore the naysayers, but understand that no matter what you do, you can't please everyone. Therefore, go into wedding planning with a fresh perspective--keeping yourself open to suggestions and criticisms--instead of becoming an overly defensive, high maintenance bride. If you act with that sense of entitlement, you not only will alienate those around you, but you will fail to make your guests comfortable in the process.

My first reaction to TallGuy was to act defensively. But then, you know what I did? I laughed - and during my few days of vacation from work, I took some time to watch the post-game celebration on my own.

There will always be those who question, those who criticize -- but I've chosen to block out those doubters and thoroughly enjoy this post-season experience -- as a die-hard fan without a chip on her shoulder.

A bride should never have that chip on her shoulder -- and should remember that she's planning for the non-naysayers. Enjoy yourself - and remember that being a gracious bride with a good perspective will keep you happy throughout the entire process (just as being gracious and acting without defensiveness will hopefully carry me to a NLCS game at Shea....)

Stay tuned!









Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS: HOW TO DEAL: PART VI

There are a couple of other issues related to this topic that are worth mentioning--particularly because all eyes will be on you and your parents during this part of your celebration.

I've ruminated on the trickiness of walking down the aisle when it comes to brides/bridesmaids - but what about divorced/separated parents? THAT'S even trickier.

Do both parents have to walk down the aisle together (with dad then returning to walk the bride-to-be to her groom)? Does your divorced mom (who has remarried) get escorted by her new husband? What are the "rules"?

As I've said before, there are no "rules", and you have to do what you are comfortable with.... but the main issue is that no matter how you spin it, you have to do what's comfortable for those involved-- what's best for them is best for your other guests (who will be none the wiser!)

Take, for example, this scenario (and I'm looking at this from the perspective of the groom - they are his parents): Divorced parents. Mother doesn't talk to father. Mother hasn't remarried. Father has. Stepmother has pleasant relationship with groom, though they aren't particularly close.

The groom's father/stepmother didn't participate in the ceremony (and sat in the front row of seats close to the chuppah)-- and the groom's mother was escorted down the aisle by the groom's brother.

Is that normal? Is it "right"? I don't know. And I don't care. The point of the matter is that the mother/father were comfortable doing it this way--and isn't that the bottom line? During the ceremony, the guests (I was one of them, along with TallGuy) didn't notice. Those that did (if any) really didn't seem to care all that much.

It's best that, no matter what the etiquette books tell you, the people involved (or who could be involved) in the ceremony are happy and doing what they feel comfortable doing -- if that father ended up walking down the aisle with the mother (if, hypothetically, that's what the etiquette books say is "correct"), the tension between them may have been a lot more obvious to guests at the ceremony than the absence of the groom's father participating.

Therefore, use your best judgment when figuring out the procession for the ceremony, particularly when it comes to divorced/separated parents. No matter what the circumstance, never forget that what is "right" may not always be "right" for you or your guests.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS: HOW TO DEAL: PART V

A few months ago, I found myself (with TallGuy) on a lazy Sunday watching My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married! So... I used to have a major crush on Peter Brady when I was nine. I'll admit it. I loved watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch (and you could basically find them on 15 different channels at all times), and Peter was always my favorite. Forget Greg, the hearthrob/wannabe singer (Johnny Bravo) -- Peter was a middle child (like me), sensitive (like I try to be), and damn cute! So who CARED that he wasn't real? Or was a product of the late 60s (and was about 20 years older than me??)

Naturally, then, My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married! has become standard fare in the TallGuy/Wedding Fairy household (at least when we stumble upon it while watching TV at random hours -- i.e. not during our The Office, Reno 911, or Project Runway viewings (my choice). There was one particular episode that struck me - and relates to this series - about divorced parents - and how Adrienne dealt with that situation PRE-wedding.

With respect to divorced parents, issues don't simply arise AT the actual wedding. One thing to keep in mind is that thought should be given when it comes to the planning stage--in terms of the levels of involvement that each parent will have during this process.

During this particular episode, Adrienne (Peter's pretty yet slightly crazy/odd fiance) left the warm and fuzzy confines of L.A. to see her parents in her small hometown during the planning process. And it wasn't pretty. Or fun. Adrienne was doing her best to see both her parents (her mother, still single) (her father, newly remarried), and keep them both in the planning loop - but she was finding it difficult including both of them - separately - and keeping her emotions in check.

I don't remember every detail of that episode, but I do remember a lot of crying (on Adrienne's part), and a lot of helpless staring (on Christopher Knight's part) -- there were separate visits to each parent, and the visits were not always comfortable. As I watched, I realized that the planning process is not all fun and games for all involved. And I wondered how these complicated relationships played a role in the planning process.

The bottom line? The bottom line is whatever your bottom line can be--i.e. your doing as much as you can to include and accommodate everyone--but remembering your own feelings/emotions too. If planning is painful/stressful to you because you feel like you have to include your mother in the dress shopping, but ALSO not offend your father by asking your stepmother to get involved in some way -- then you have to remember your bottom line - always go back to that.

Normally, I'm all for doing everything possible to make your guests feel comfortable. I still stick to that, but during PLANNING, you should be your own boss--and do whatever you need to do in order to make (and keep) the process enjoyable. Planning doesn't involve the same discomfort issues that a wedding does (i.e. loud announcements by DJs, or very obvious seating situations). Therefore, keeping everyone happy during this stage isn't really the goal - the goal is to get the job done, and to enjoy doing it (from what I hear, planning is stressful enough - even WITHOUT divorced/separated parent issues).

If your mother doesn't like that you didn't ask her longtime boyfriend for advice on selecting photographers (and he's a photographer), tough #&!. If your father doesn't understand why you didn't invite your stepmother along to the caterer tasting -- deal with it. As long as you try to keep in mind the thoughts/feelings of others, you've done your job.

So plan away and keep in mind those who want to help you - but don't get mired in the BS during this stage of the game - it's more important to think about how those relationships will play out AT THE WEDDING (and plan accordingly) than deal with family strife BEFORE HAND.

That's the advice I would give to Adrienne and (sigh) Christopher Knight/Peter Brady, and that's the advice I am giving to you now.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS: HOW TO DEAL (PART IV)

As I've mentioned before, table arrangement issues are oftentimes the most complicated--and contentious--when it comes to dealing with your guests.

With regard to divorced/separated parents, these situations once again come into the forefront. This time, these issues are not within the control of others (i.e. band members, DJs, or even the bartender), but entirely within your own hands.

I can tell you right now - you will not please everyone.
Finding the "perfect" table arrangement is not necessarily an option - however, creating a WORKABLE table arrangement-- when it comes to divorced/separated parents -- is the name of the game. Again, the goal is to put everyone at ease to the greatest extent possible. If you attempt to do that, your job is done. I'm dealing this time around with the concept of DISTANCE -- not the actual people at each table. Read on.....

I was talking with a college friend the other night (Liz), who was telling me about a wedding that she had recently attended (for one of her best friends, Tara -- a pal from graduate school). Liz knew (through hearing about it on many occasions from Tara) that Tara's parents had recently gone through a tough divorce--and while it didn't come to dish-throwing or custody-battles (or a War of the Roses type scenario), it wasn't that pretty, according to what Tara had told her about the situation.

Liz told me she was surprised to find, then, that at the wedding, Tara's mother and father were sitting at tables within inches of each other. Seated with her new boyfriend, Tara's mother was laughing and joking around with her friends/relatives at Table 2, while Tara's father at Table 4 (who attended the reception solo) was seated with his relatives and other assorted guests. Both the mother and the father were polite and interacted with one another on occasion (for example, when images of Tara in her snowsuit at age 3 popped up on the screen during the slide show, or during the dinner hour, as they greeted guests and thanked them for attending), but Liz said it looked like an awkward situation for the two.

I asked Liz why she thought Tara--who was cognizant of the strained relationship --would have seated her parents so close together. "I don't know -- I guess maybe she was hoping that they would be ok, and somehow it wouldn't be awkward. It's her parents, after all -- that's the way she looks at them, and that's how she wanted to remember them on that night, I guess..."

Liz went onto note that while Tara's parents were cool about everything, and did nothing ridiculous or offensive like making a scene, it seemed to her that they shouldn't have had to make small talk with each other, and could have at least sat a few more feet apart -- not necessarily across the room, but at least some distance apart that they could have done their own thing for most of the night.

Interesting story from someone who actually witnessed a table arrangement situation (as related to divorced/separated guests) -- as well as knew about the relationships that were in play.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS (HOW TO DEAL): PART III

I was re-reading my last post, and I didn't think I did Taylor's story justice (or Taylor's mother-in-law, to be more specific) -- I feel very strongly about the fact that family members shouldn't have to shut up and take it, when it comes to their own relationships being called into question, and the specifics of what happened to Taylor's mother-in-law really bring that feeling to the forefront.

Taylor told me that she and her husband were called to the dance floor by the band leader -- showing off their moves to Etta James' "At Last" (they had been dating since their senior year of high school, so it seemed appropriate!), Taylor and her husband were enjoying the moment as their family and friends looked on, smiling all the while. It was a beautiful moment.
As the song wound down, Taylor and her husband mingled with the guests who had been outlining the perimeter of the dance floor -- at that time, the band leader announced it was Taylor's time to dance with her father. She and her father then danced to Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" -- one of her father's favorite songs, and one of Taylor's favorite artists. It was perfect.

Following a few more minutes of mingling and chatting, Taylor's husband danced with his mother (who was divorced and was attending the wedding solo). The mood was relaxed, and the guests (including this woman in question) were immensely enjoying themselves.

After these dances, the band member, with a flourish (and with the keyboardist playing some sort of tune on the keyboard) said loudly to the crowd: "I now want to introduce Taylor's parents to the dance floor for a special dance, Jim's father and stepmother to the dance floor, AND Jim's mother and sister to the dance floor!!!!"

As the announcement was made, the band leader was wildly gesturing to Jim's mother, motioning for her to join the group on the dance floor. Both Jim's mother and sister were extremely embarassed -- the mother, of course, feeling completely humiliated, and the sister, mostly because she is a very shy girl and didn't like the attention. USING THE MICROPHONE -- said to both of them "Why aren't you two dancing together? C'mon and join the party!"

Jim's mother and sister got through "their dance" -- more like standing on the edge of the dance floor and watching on in embarassment -- but it was not the start of the evening that at least some of these guests wanted.

I will of course come back with more examples, but I thought being more specific would help illustrate the ridiculousness that ensued -- and why guests in these type of situations should always come first - whether or not it's the bride's "day".

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 28, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS (HOW TO DEAL): PART II

Thanks for the comments, everyone, as relates to this subject. Having seen friends (and family members) experience issues with the subject of divorced parents, I can attest that divorced parents (and others in the family tree) DO experience pain and/or embarassment when it comes to these issues. While I can't empathize -- I can sympathize, and try and provide ideas that may become viable solutions.

The next "installment" as relates to this topic still has to do with the band/DJ you hire -- this time, having to do with THE FIRST AND LAST DANCE OF THE NIGHT (AND ALL OF THOSE IN BETWEEN)...

The same friend I referenced in my first post, Taylor, continued with her story: "The band guy attempted to make Jim's mom dance with his sister since she didn't have anyone to dance with... obviously this made the mom quite unhappy..."

As I mentioned in my previous post, dealing in advance with the people you hire is of utmost importance when it comes to staying in control of the comfort levels of your guests (in this case, divorced family members).

While the band guy may have MEANT well, it was extremely embarassing for Jim's mother in this situation - not necessarily because other people noticed what was going on (I don't know
if this was the case, though Taylor certainly did), but because SHE felt like other people were watching/noticing - and also because it made her feel awkward about the situation and how to react to it. This type of behavior is not acceptable, and certainly not fair to the mother of the groom (or anyone in this situation that applies in other scenarios)- whether or not you believe that a divorced parent should "suck it up" (a sentiment which I thoroughly disagree with), you should definitely understand that the band member trying to "help" in this way is degrading, demoralizing, and definitely a NO.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

DILEMMAS RE: DIVORCED/SEPARATED PARENTS (HOW TO DEAL)

I'm about to approach a subject that is VERY sensitive, and will most likely bring forth strong opinions as to how to deal--which may be different from my own. This conversation (unlike flip-flops, for example) will have more serious undertones, but the point of my addressing it is to try and find a way of handling it in a manner that will suit you--as well as your parents and other involved parties.

The issue of how to handle wedding-related issues as relates to divorced/separated parents is complex and multi-faceted, as there are a range of related sub-topics (for example, table arrangements, invitation issues, and more).

I am going to tackle one issue in each post, as I want to make sure each sub-topic gets the attention it deserves. The first issue has to do with the BAND/DJ -- you may not think there is ANY involvement whatsoever when it comes to the entertainment, but if you read below, you'll see that you really have to prepare for just about any scenario.

Although dealing with divorced/separated parents may be uncomfortable for you, the important thing to remember is that it's even MORE uncomfortable for your parents (as well as the step-parents, children, etc. who may also be involved).

A colleague of mine, Taylor, was telling me at lunch about her wedding, and the stress that resulted as a result of the insensitivity of the band that she had hired (as related to her husband's parents and the INTRODUCTIONS): "First, Jim's [Taylor's now-husband] parents are divorced. So the band in those stupid intros of everyone announced Jim's father and his stepmother as "the groom's parents" ... then he later announced Jim's mom as the "groom's mother..."

Ouch. Not only is this potentially embarassing to Jim's mother, but it's hurtful and unnecessary. Taylor said that Jim's mother was really unhappy with the situation and rather embarassed. I would like to think that the band members didn't act this way maliciously--and simply were bumbling idiots and didn't know quite how to handle the introductions (or perhaps didn't know about the actual relationships of all parties involved).

Introductions as relate to divorced parents can definitely be tricky - especially if one individual is the "odd man out" -- here, Jim's mother was sans-date -- while Jim's father had re-married, and was with his new wife.

However, I do believe that it's imperative that the bride and groom think in advance about this issue--and how best to make sure everyone involved is comfortable and at ease.

Therefore, THINK about the introductions in advance, and TALK/COMMUNICATE with your band about how to approach each. My feeling is that Jim's father and mother as indicated in the above scenario should have been introduced together as "the groom's parents" -- why? Because they are! But if you're comfortable with a different approach, you should convey that to the band members as relate to the introduction, in order to make sure everyone knows in advance what will be said, and how the situation will be handled.

These issues are not easy, and I certainly don't believe there is a golden rule when it comes to something as tough as this. However, communication with those involved in the ceremony/reception -- particularly if they have some level of CONTROL in what will unfold, is an important aspect of the planning process. Why? Because this is an issue of major import to those who you love and may be, in your opinion, the most important guests involved.

More to come on table arrangement issues and other scenarios in this new series!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WALKING DOWN THE AISLE CAN BE JUST AS STRESSFUL FOR YOUR BRIDESMAIDS AS IT IS FOR YOU (BELIEVE ME) (PART II)

Ugh.

Had a closing today, for a very stressful deal that I've been handling since May. Horray.

What was the one thing on my mind the entire closing?

My feet.


Running around in high heels is NOT my idea of fun - Today, I was on my feet for about 8 hours straight in 3 inch heels, which was pretty taxing. That's why I tend to wear flip-flops in the confines of my office as often as I can.

As I was walking home, I was thinking about how flip-flops really are the answer to everything--i.e., every outfit.

What to wear for a sunday brunch? Sundress and flip-flops. To and from work? Flip-flops. A night out with the girls? Sparkly flips-flops, a tank top, and jeans.

I was thinking about flip-flops in relation to weddings and comfort levels. Much like the trend of thirteen year old girls wearing socks to hit the dance floor at weddings, I've heard that flip-flops are beginning to make their appearance at weddings (particularly, from what I've heard about ladies utilizing them to hit the dance floor)

I was thinking, then, about the concept of flip-flops down the aisle. Wouldn't it be SO nice for bridesmaids to NOT have to worry about tripping, falling or stumbling? Sure, it can happen while NOT walking in heels -- but the odds are less likely!

The idea of tripping while walking down the aisle is always my nightmare when I'm a bridesmaid. I was in a wedding in Omaha where the ceremony was at a beautiful cathedral -- the aisle was extremely long, and thank GOODNESS I had an escort/groomsman on my arm.

While I'm the first to admit that it's not really appropriate for a walk down the aisle, finding a happy medium -- i.e. not 4 inch heels or uncomfortable shoes -- works for me. Therefore, if you have your bridesmaids purchase specific shoes, make sure they're comfortable -- and walking down the aisle-worthy.

How great would life be if we could live it all the time in flip flops? Perhaps I'll have a beach wedding when the time comes...........

Stay tuned (and I promise less randomness next post -- My feet are killing me, which is where this line of thought is coming from!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

WALKING DOWN THE AISLE CAN BE JUST AS STRESSFUL FOR YOUR BRIDESMAIDS AS IT IS FOR YOU (BELIEVE ME) (PART I)

Although I haven't yet walked down the aisle as a bride, I can imagine the pressure. EVERYONE's eyes are on you, you want to look PERFECT for your husband-to-be waiting for you at the end of the runner, and the moment MUST be JUST RIGHT. All of this while trying not to cry and ruin your makeup - right?

I completely understand--even if I can't really relate--about the anxiety brides go through when it comes to the BIG MOMENT. And the relief when it's all over, and a bride is arm-and-arm with her newly minted husband, about to go and join in the celebration (like these pretty young things, to the left!)

When it comes to the bridesmaids, however, there's an added pressure --- if you screw up (whether it's a scuffle, a trip, a shoe falling off, or a simple a nervous laugh), you will feel the burden of the screw-up potentially dampening the bride's evening, as well as the embarassment of being "that bridesmaid" who couldn't carry her weight (um, literally)....

Fair enough, you say (if you're a bride-to-be). Your response may be: But what can I do about it?

As a former and potentially future bridesmaid (so far, I have not been asked to be a bridesmaid again -- do you think it's the result of my blog writing? My friends may be scared to ever use me after my posts), I will say that one piece of advice is this: MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR YOUR NERVOUS NELLY BRIDESMAIDS TO MAKE IT DOWN THE AISLE--WITHOUT TRIPPING.

When I say "easy", I don't mean that you need to put them in a stroller and have their groomsan/escort them down the aisle. (Though that's kind of a funny image!)

However, make sure the conditions are such that your lovely ladies will be at ease.

My friend Stephanie was recently in a wedding where she had to walk down a long flight of stairs before she even MADE IT TO THE BEGINNING OF THE AISLE -- so that, during the ceremony, all eyes were on her as she climbed down the stairs (which were pretty deep, as she informs me), AND THEN as she walked down the runner -- Steph did all of this in high heels--and without a groomsman/escort.

Is this necessary?
Although I don't have a picture of the ceremony set-up, I would THINK that there HAD to be some alternative to the bridesmaids having to descend a flight of stairs with the entire audience watching -- at least, the bridesmaids could have walked in with an escort (which is a great trick for keeping one's balance, as I've discovered).

While it's inevitable that you're going to focus on your trip down the aisle, keep ours in mind as well. Steph's friend here should have realized that if SHE were doing the same route (without her father escorting her), it would have been extremely nervewracking and difficult.

Remember us.... please! Otherwise, you may have an embarassing situation on your hands -- which is certainly not what you want - and it's definitely not what we want either.

It's scary enough for us to do "the walk" - please make sure you think of these things in advance so you can help us maintain both our mental and physical balance.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Q+A WITH THE WEDDING FAIRY (PART V)


"Wow, you're giving these people a +$200 wedding gift AND a $75 engagement gift? My husband's groomsman gave him $400 (no engagement gift), and we were shocked and appalled (and touched!) that he spent so much, esp. since he and his wife had to travel across the country for the wedding. Everyone else in the wedding party gave us about a $100 gift, and we tried to discourage engagement and shower presents entirely. Not trying to be focused on money or anything; just think it's interesting that societal mores are so different... "

I'm embarassed to say so, but yes -- I agree with you that these prices are obscene; I think that when the cost of living is extremely high--particularly in a place like Manhattan-- it drives up the prices of well, everything -- even wedding gifts.

When TallGuy went to that bachelor party, he didn't have a choice as to how much he spent--that was the standard, and he either had to adhere to it--or not go. Part of the problem is that people don't necessarily think TWICE about the fact that these prices/costs are extremely high--because EVERY cost seems high in a city like Manhattan or San Francisco, people don't scratch their heads when paying out, as much as they should.

Therefore, please keep in mind that when I'm talking about a $300 bridesmaid's dress, I'm really referring to a dress one might purchase in New York, or Philadelphia, or Chicago -- Even though this seems like a very expensive price to me, it probably seems absolutely outrageous compared to those who live in smaller cities/towns. And believe me -- I am not the girl in this picture (for the record--I promise)--I DON'T have this money to throw around, which is why I'm always so aware of it--particularly when these items add up for weddings!!

To wrap this up, I think it's important to emphasize that my discussion of prices is NOT an evaluation, and the costs I throw out for discussion are very much city-specific--and certainly not the norm around the country, as evidenced by readers' comments.

Since cost issues are a pervasive theme through my blog, I thought it useful to relay this information--just so people know where I'm coming from - and that these issues are built around geography and circumstance.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 07, 2006

BACHELOR PARTIES: BLOOPERS, BLUNDERS AND OTHER TALES (PART II)

Thanks for the comments, ladies - it's interesting to hear how other men choose to spend their time. I think trust is an important thing to have when it comes to what your significant other is doing at these parties, as they should have that trust in you.

Getting back to another theme of these parties -- $$$$$$.

At the end of the day, TallGuy shelled out $150 outright (for the limo and said entertainment as described in the last post), and then the only other cost the entire day/evening was $30 bucks for a cheap dinner consisting of bar food.

I was speaking with a colleague of mine (an older male friend named Charlie) who was telling me that TallGuy actually got LUCKY in terms of what he had to spend. What Charlie said was this (before TallGuy actually attended): "Honestly, I don't know WHAT kind of entertainment is going to be at this party, but you have NOTHING to worry about - that kind of money he has to dole out won't buy much at all...." Apparently, the more um, "intensive" should I say? type of parties (which have tons of strippers and lot more shadiness than what apparently took place at TallGuy's party) involve thousands of dollars for EACH attendee.... pretty unbelievable (and kind of shocking) when you think about how many other expenses there are for guests at a wedding.

Obviously, the cost of these type of parties is only one factor. But it's a factor, indeed. This is an issue for bachelorette parties and showers, as WELL as bachelor parties... and it's something important to think about as you (and/or your friends) plan for these type of events.

Although TallGuy and I live in nice apartment in Manhattan, neither of us is able to throw money around easily - the next piece of the puzzle, after his spending almost $200 for going out that Saturday evening will be the $200+ gift (which was in addition to the $75 dollar engagement gift).... see how this is adding up??? TallGuy (for the record) was HAPPY to do it and to spend time with his friends (and celebrate the upcoming nuptials)--this is my mere observation about price, as an outside observer.

To conclude with the bachelor and bachelorette party theme, remember that those in charge of planning yours should be responsive--and respect the budgets and desires of the others involved. While the wedding is "your'" day, it's important to remember that those who are spending a lot of money in the process will be very thankful if their needs are taken into account along the way.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

BACHELOR PARTIES: BLOOPERS, BLUNDERS AND OTHER TALES (PART I)

It's Saturday night, and I'm writing this post from my parent's six year old computer. Yes, I am home with Mom and Dad, outside of NYC, on a Saturday night.

While I love my parents to death, I normally wouldn't be here on a weekend night -- that time would be spent with either TallGuy or my girlfriends. So why am I here then?

TallGuy went to his first bachelor party (and this is "my" first bachelor party too)- and instead of going out with MY friends, I thought my parents would make even better company. Let me get one thing straight: I am not the neurotic, possessive, jealous type (especially with TallGuy) -- in fact, I trust TallGuy 150% whether it's simply a night of drinking at a bar or hanging out with a roomful of Playboy Playmates (unless he's randomly invited to the Playboy Mansion--with me--I don't think I have too much to worry about with that one!) He's the sweetest and most trustworthy guy a girl could ask for, and that's the truth.

I don't know which activities have transpired yet (though I would doubt the Playmates were participating), as I haven't really spoken to him since he left for the event at 4 PM. But he did tell me that one of the groom-to-be (Kevin)'s friends planned the event, and the last item on the laundry list of "to do's" was to go back to the planner's apartment for "entertainment".....

The irony of the "entertainment" concept is that Kevin is a pretty laid back, quiet, shy guy, according to TallGuy, who wouldn't necessarily be into that kind of thing. TallGuy's not - and I believe him. Apparently, however, the planner went with the concept - whether he consulted Kevin, I do not know.

What I think is interesting is that it's the PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF PLANNING bachelor and bachelorette parties who are really the ones who come up with the ideas -- rather than the bride or groom to be. And that's ok. Like I've said in prior posts, however, this isn't the planner's "night" -- and the bride or groom should feel comfortable about the events--and should definitely know about them in advance and make suggestions.

It's important to keep in mind that the planner may be the person who's into getting "entertainment" -- but the rest of the group may be much happier getting a beer at a dive bar on the Upper West Side (and spending hundreds of dollars less in doing so).

Just for the record - I'm not naive. I know what guys do, and what guys like. I just wanted to make the point that not every guy is going to want to see strippers at his bachelor party, and not every gal is going to want to go see a male "MANTASIA" style revue for their bachelorette party. If that's the plan, and everyone's cool with it, however? Totally cool - I'm not passing judgment on the ACTIVITIES here -- just making an observation about who is planning them.

Remember that even though you don't have control over the planning process for this type of event, you do have a responsibility to make sure the balance of your guests at that party enjoy themselves-- and you have a responsibility to YOURSELF to have a good time!

Having said my peace, I will now go to bed..... hope you all have been having nice weekends....

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 28, 2006

A PSA FROM THE WEDDING FAIRY

Hey everyone....

I normally limit my entries to the do's and don'ts of wedding planning (and the "real" etiquette that accompanies such planning), but when news of a very good cause falls into my lap (or, in this case, into my email inbox), I feel compelled to share it with readers.

If any of you live in NYC (or nearby), definitely check out the
BRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER WEDDING GOWN SALE, which will be held August 17-19 in Manhattan.

This event is a sale where brides can shop for the perfect gown--all the while helping and supporting individuals with terminal breast cancer, as well as their families.

The proceeds of the sale will benefit MAKING MEMORIES,
a foundation dedicated to helping terminally ill breast cancer patients.
The BRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER WEDDING GOWN SALE features new and used designer gowns--which are normally priced up to $15,000--starting at a mere $250!

The event kicks off with a VIP preview sale on August 17th, featuring gowns donated from
designers including Anne Barge, Carolina Herrera, Paula Varsalona, and stores including Kleinfelds and Mark Ingram.

At the VIP event, guests will be treated to gift bags, a free cocktail hour, and a raffle--including prizes like a $1,000.00 Confetti Cake, custom menu card design by SonicStefdesigns, and romantic, 5 night Honeymoon at Raffles Resort in Canoun Island.

The organization is still looking for volunteers to help at the event, as well as individual donations from brides who want to donate their dress. If you're interested, please see below for more information....

My helpful source noted about her own experiences: "I bought my wedding dress at a store where all the proceeds went to charity, and I can honestly say that of all the money that got spent on our NYC wedding, it was so nice to know that part of it went to something bigger than
just my day and my wedding... this organization allows something so special as a wedding dress go towards creating a special memory for a woman and her family."

For more information about buying tickets to the VIP event, please visit www.makingmemories.org - there is a link to the NYC event, as well as a calendar of events for other gown sales around the country. Looking to donate? The website will help you with that as well. I have also just learned that the organization has scored a MAJOR donation from a top couture designer (wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and accessories) for the NYC event and may be in attendance as well.... Who is the big donation from? Vera Wang? Kenneth Poole? I don't have the answer (honest, I don't!), but go and see for yourself!

Please check out this organization, and/or the events listed on the website -- this is such a good cause, ladies, and something that you can enjoy while knowing you're helping others.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Q+A WITH THE WEDDING FAIRY (PART IV)

Here's a question from a reader about weddings/significant others, and a "where are they now" type of question:

"I scrolled through the archives to see whats been going on and the stories that caught my attention the most were on inviting guests and your friend not inviting TallGuy to her wedding. I know that wedding has past, so do you still keep in contact with her? You know when you get married you should just put her name on the invitation and leave her husband out, that would be hilarious. I really don't know what your friend was thinking leaving TallGuy out. It really didn't save them alot of money to do that, I know cause I'm getting married in 7 weeks! I am proud to say that every "single" (pun intended here) person invited to the wedding has an "and guest" on their invitation wether they are dating some one or not. They all have an opportunity to bring a person along. In this day in age, who said "and guest" had to be a date of the opposite sex? My childhood friend isn't dating any one, so she wants to bring her sister with her to the wedding, I said absolutely- it is your guest, and you can bring whoever you want. I must admit I have come across some inviting issues, and I hoped I handled them well."

This question came from a reader in early April. I was "saving" it, as I was curious myself as to what would happen--and whether Heather (see my prior posts from the "December" archive if you don't know the story) ever attempted to contact me or reconcile after her (in my opinion) inappropriate and rather classless behavior.

To be sure, I attended the wedding, as I said I would. I was there alone, and actually never even SAW HER. Could I have been the bigger person, walked up to her at her wedding, and congratulated her? Sure. Was I completely put off that she made absolutely no effort to stop at my table and say hello--particularly as I was alone at the wedding and knew hardly no one-and not a single soul at my table? Absolutely. After that, I felt as if the friendship was pretty much over. With Heather not contacting me thereafter, I figured correctly. So, to answer this reader's question, Heather and I no longer speak-- this is the first wedding casualty I've had since I've started seeing my friends become engaged and married.

This topic about inviting significant others engendered much debate among readers--and I think some thought I was overly critical about TallGuy not being invited--despite the fact that we pushed our trip back to the Greek Islands and lost our hotel reservations in order to be there.
I think it's interesting what this reader notes--that the cost isn't really that big of an issue with one additional person. I'm sure others would disagree. However, I would like to point out that with regard to this subject - as I said in December - it's not as much THAT she did it, but HOW she did it. Act graciously, is what I would say. Heather was neither gracious nor classy about her decision, and I think she knew it.

What I hope readers take out of this post about my long-lost friendship is that every detail of a wedding is important, but not as important as the friends and family that you surround yourself with. Heather forgot some of that as she attempted to plan, and was STILL forgetting while in the midst of celebration.

If you act in the same way that you wish others would, you'll be fine. Just keep that in mind as you go along, and you'll be happy you did.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Q+A WITH THE WEDDING FAIRY (PART III)


So the following isn't a question that I received from a reader, but one that I saw in a bridal magazine. I was actually appalled by the answer.

Here's the question (and I'm paraphrasing here, 'cause I cannot, at the moment, locate the specific clipping among the piles of magazines I've accumulated): "I picked out a dress for my bridesmaids that I really love, and they all hate it. Am I wrong to make them wear it, or do I have a legitimate right to stick to my guns?"

When I read the question, I immediately thought to myself "EASY ONE: HELLS NO!" The women that you choose as bridesmaids are those presumably individuals who you respect. Isn't part of your including them your way of honoring them?

If your bridesmaids hate the dress you choose for them--PARTICULARLY if they are FOOTING THE BILL--there is no good reason for sticking to your guns here. In fact, it's rude and uncalled for.

I think it's important to remember that, as the bride, you have decisions to make. I understand that these are HUGE decisions too! However, if you don't keep those in mind as you make them, you're going to offend--and put off--a whole lotta people along the way.

So, what was the answer to the question, you ask? Basically, the opposite of what I'm saying here. The magazine writer/columnist said that it's the bride's decision, and that the bride is in charge here--if she loves the dress? Then her bridesmaids need to get over it.

The caveat here?
If the bridesmaids hate the dress for a SPECIFIC reason--in terms of the actual fit (i.e. it shows too much cleavage, or the straps are too tight)--then comfort should trump everything--and the bride should make an effort to CHANGE the dress to make it more comfortable.... Clearly, these things should be decided BEFORE a bride picks OUT the dress in the first place.

If a bride has already chosen a dress, and her bridesmaids haven't chosen to raise the issue, or put in their two cents? Then that becomes their problem, though it is unfortunate.

If your girlfriends hate a dress, not because it hurts like hell, but because it's terribly ugly and they have to pay $300 for it? Is that such a terrible reason to raise a complaint BEFORE the dress is purchased? Pain shouldn't be the exclusive factor involved.

Think about it. If you come to the conclusion as the magazine writer, so be it. However, I'd urge everyone to think about the alternative. If you were the bridesmaid--and not the bride--would you change your tune? Some food for thought.

By the way--I have NO idea who this bridesmaid is, or what she's annoyed about. But hopefully, you won't have any pictures of bridesmaids like this in your wedding album--particularly if it's something as easy as finding a decent dress that everyone can agree on!

Stay tuned!