Friday, March 31, 2006

THE BIG DANCE: WHY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS LIKE YOUR WEDDING (SERIOUSLY) PART V

To properly conclude my "March Madness" theme (specifically speaking with making "the right calls"), I'll reiterate the concept from my last post: TO EACH HIS OWN -- and along those lines, it's important to remember that WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HATES (TO EACH HER OWN) MAY BE EXACTLY WHAT YOU LOVE (TO EACH YOUR OWN!)...

Although it may seem obvious, everyone has different opinions about what's "classy," "beautiful," or, even, the age-old expression of "perfect."

For example, my friend Valerie is getting married and noted her observation upon seeing the reception hall at which she was having her wedding: "Yeah, with wedding stuff, everyone has a way they would do it - which is kind of cool because it allows you to make it your own taste. We went Saturday to look [at the place] and they were setting up for a wedding - soooo not my taste - all red roses, red dresses, etc. It's amazing how different the room could look depending on what you do to it."

Therefore, it's great to keep in mind that (a) everyone has different thoughts about what is good/what isn't, and (b) certain wedding-related reactions that are BAD can be just as helpful to you....

As relates to her wedding venue, Valerie had previously spoken with a work colleague (WorkFriend) who had also been looking at places since she was getting married two months earlier. WorkFriend listed off places (restaurants and hotels included) that she ABSOLUTELY HATED for X, Y, and Z reasons. Since Valerie and WorkFriend have VERY different styles, Valerie was smart enough to realize that what WorkFriend's loss could be HER GAIN. Therefore, Valerie went to check out the venues that WorkFriend didn't like--and voila! One of them became her wedding reception site.

Therefore, always keep your eyes and ears open about places and things that people DON'T LIKE --just because they were turned off to it doesn't mean it's a BAD OPTION FOR YOU.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

THE BIG DANCE: WHY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS LIKE YOUR WEDDING (SERIOUSLY) PART IV

During the tournament, I've seen some pretty controversial calls made by referees--although none (in my opinion) has been game-changing, the decisions have certainly make an impact. However, what I call "bad" may be the "right" call in someone else's eyes....And really, at the end of the day, no one can say whether it's right or wrong--except in the most egregious cases

As I wanted to get a better sense of the role of the referee during basketball games, I looked to Wikipedia for an answer: "There is some discretion with the referee when calling a foul — referees consider if there was unfair advantage gained, e.g. if a player were to gain possession unfairly, sometimes making fouls controversial calls. The calling of a foul can vary between games, leagues and even between referees."

While referees may be calling the shots (literally) during games, you have to do it in your wedding planning--as it relates to things including floral arrangements, bridesmaids dresses, and colors schemes. And what you would cry "foul" to may be anything but--in the eyes of your closest cousin or best friend.

Therefore, it's important to remember that with regard to wedding planning, the mantra of "TO EACH HIS OWN" really sticks. While referees have to make tough decisions during games, and their decisions are held up on the court, the point I'm making is that NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH THE CALLS. Nevertheless, they need to be made. And you should make them with authority and NOT QUESTION THE DECISION YOU GO WITH. AND IN THE END, NO ONE SHOULD QUESTION THEM EITHER (obviously I am not talking about the items I've previously covered on the blog--that directly affect/offend your guests). When it comes to votives versus big bouquets of flowers on tables? That's your decision to make--and own.

Just remember that not everyone agrees with YOUR calls -- and THAT'S OK. What you think of as beautiful may not be the style of someone else that is a close friend or confidante.

As a reader pointed out: "...different people have different Ideas of what they like... My friend, for example, had a relatively unconventional wedding, which had a lot of elements I didn't necessarily like all that much, and I'm going to have a fairly conventional/religious wedding, which she is probably going to roll her eyes at some elements of. But we're (well, hopefully I was, and she definitely is) just being supportive of each other, not judgemental..."

This is not a sporting event--or a time to be judgmental about calls. This is your life. Unlike referees, you are making decisions that are yours to keep--and do not affect the outcome of anything but your own happiness.... As I pointed out, keep in mind that I'm speaking of more "superficial" choices --like save the date cards -- not those that affect your friends and family around you.

I'll be back with more this week on specific examples of how to glean useful information out of what others DON'T like -- and what calls THEY WOULDN'T BE CAUGHT DEAD MAKING -- because maybe you would be!

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 24, 2006

THE BIG DANCE: WHY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS LIKE YOUR WEDDING (SERIOUSLY) PART III

No. No. No. No. NO.

How did this happen?!?!

Duke and Gonzaga???? My bracket is now officially crap, and I know I won't win the office pool (not that I had much of a chance before that).

So two of the tournament's "dream-teams" -- complete with the "dream players" (J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison) -- went down in flames.

What's interesting about this observation (in the context of weddings, of course), is that NO MATTER HOW PERFECT PEOPLE MAY APPEAR, THEY'RE REAL--JUST LIKE YOU AND ME--AND NO ONE. CAN EVER. BE PERFECT.

Unlike my previous posts, I'm no longer talking about this in the context of YOUR wedding--but the celebrations of your best friend, or closest cousin.

Whether it's expressly stated (not often) or just beneath the surface (much of the time), I find that, there is an inherent level of competition among my friends (and from what I've heard from friends of friends) when it comes to weddings and that feeling of "topping" those who have come before you--or even, that "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality...

It's important to remember that no matter how PERFECT someone's wedding (or wedding planning) may seem, it never is. Sure, you may go to your cousin's wedding and think to yourself "This is unreal -- it must have cost so much money to pull this off -- how am I ever going to have anything comparable?" or you may see your best friend's cake in a photograph and think "Gee -- having a wedding cake in the design of a tiffany's box is such awesome design -- why didn't *I* think of that?!" -- but just remember that there is no such thing as "perfect" -- and everyone else is comparison shopping, too.

Therefore, to bring this full circle -- J. J. Redick and Adam Morrison may be AMAZING players, but they're just as vulnerable as anyone else. No matter how on top of things or "perfect" you think your friends are with regard to their planning--and the choices they make--things go wrong, choices made aren't always the best ones, and life goes on.

So next time you hear from your gabby friend how amazingly well her planning is going (and you're sitting and stressing about your own and how much left you have to get done), stop. Take a breath. And realize that WE ARE ALL HUMAN. J. J Redick and Adam Morrison included. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone compares themselves to everyone else.

When you think about your wedding planning in that context, it makes it a little more bearable to deal with those friends and even family members who may front like everything is perfect. Because you have to remember, that even the greatest players have a bad day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

THE BIG DANCE: WHY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS LIKE YOUR WEDDING (SERIOUSLY): PART II

So I thought I'd continue with the theme of March Madness this week, since I'm sure there are some of you out there who are there "in the pool" with me... For those of you who aren't? Just be lucky it only happens one month of the year!

Today, I found out the initial results of my firm's office pool--based on the teams chosen to win, we are assigned a certain number of points, the point number varying from round to round (i.e. 1 point assigned to a team chosen in round 1, whereas 3 points assigned to a team chosen in the Elite Eight).

I ended up at the middle to the bottom of the pack--and was pretty disappointed, as I thought I was doing pretty well (with over fifty percent of my teams winning their games). Nevertheless, it was a daunting process filling out the bracket.

As much as I know about--and love--basketball, I felt like I was choosing randomly among the pack--and in most cases--going with the "best" teams, instead of those little-known basketball programs that certainly had potential, and could definitely pull an upset.
While I follow college basketball, I am not familiar with all the teams and the nuances that would lead to my choosing the "right" teams.

I realized, as I looked at where I was with my choices, that there was always somebody who knew more than I did.

Women who are getting married are in the same proverbial boat. While they may research, research, and research some more, brides to be often don't know where to start--and the choices that seem the most promising end up to be anything but. Given the countless number of subjects women have to tackle (the flowers, the registry, the music, the location, travel issues for guests, wedding insurance, caterers, table arrangements, etc. etc. etc. etc.), it's no wonder that making choices is, to say the least, extremely difficult.

This post, therefore, is directed to those who have already gone through the process-- YOU are a valuable resource because you are a virtual wedding expert. For those of you who have already entered "the pool", you have an amazing ability to provide guidance to others in a way you may not have imagined or foreseen.

Wouldn't it have been helpful to you to have seen your friend's bill for flowers, before you began ordering your own?

If you can offer names and addresses of resources to your friends--not to mention any other information, no matter how personal it may be (like bills, emails, and photographs (i.e. of wedding cakes at various bakeries you liked and hated)--it would be an untapped resource that women planning their weddings could count on....

Some may be thinking "Well, what's in it for me?"... Not much - except the feeling that comes with helping your friends and acting as an extremely valuable resource.

Plus--helping your friend learn from your experiences is just good karma. I've learned in the past few weeks with this NCAA coverage that, despite how much I know, SOMEONE ALWAYS KNOWS MORE. Since you are that "someone" when it comes to weddings, share the wealth--your friends will thank you for it, and you certainly will be thanked in the future, when you least expect it.

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 20, 2006

THE BIG DANCE: WHY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS A LOT LIKE YOUR WEDDING... (SERIOUSLY)

I'll be the first to admit: I have March Madness.

Sitting with my college friends this past Saturday at Brother Jimmy's on the Upper East Side, I reveled in watching "my" team kick major butt and take some names. Feeling the glow of victory--and tasting the slab of southern-style BBQ ribs in front of me at the bar--was my version of heaven.

As I think about the "Cinderella" teams (Bradley, anybody?), and those that have surprisingly bowed out under pressure (Iowa, for example), it goes to show, that you just never really know what's going to happen. That, I think, is the reason I love NCAA basketball; the surprise victories, and the unexpected defeats.

So, you, ask -- WHAT THE *(#& DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MY WEDDING?!

I was talking today with a colleague of mine, who is planning her October '07 wedding. Always a calm and down to earth presence, Ellie explained to me, albeit in subdued tones, how freaked out she was about the enormity of what she had to accomplish before the big day. Some of her statements were along these lines: Everything costs so much! I normally would do so much more research when spending thousands of dollars, but how can I? There's no time!

As she listed all of the "to do's," she passed along a piece of advice that I think every bride-to-be should think about.

Ellie said that, in the end, she could plan all she could, but the most important thing to her was that she loved her fiance. Despite all of her hopes that the flowers, the food, the music would be "perfect", she knew that if something went wrong, or wasn't the way it should be--it wouldn't really matter all that much. Sure--she'd be upset. But life would go on...

I think, when talking about weddings and the planning process, Ellie had it right. Brides-to-be can plan and plan some more, until their faces turn blue, but even the most careful and skillful planning won't necessarily end up with 100% perfect results. And, if that happens, the conclusion isn't SO bad after all.

I've said it before on previous posts, and I'll say it again -- a wedding is a beautiful thing, and you certainly have a hand in making it beautiful (both aesthetically and spiritually), but remember what's behind it--and why you're doing it.

The young players on UNC, I'm sure, were devastated to learn their run was over for the year when they lost to George Mason in the last round. But thinking about the larger picture, I would assume (and hope) that Tyler Hansbrough realized how lucky he was to have stepped on the court to play in the tournament in the first place--and that he had single-handedly quieted the Cameron Crazies and ended J.J. Redick's final game at Duke with a loss (in regular season).

No matter how much "practice" you put into the big dance, it's not always going to end up the way you could have expected (for better or for worse). Sometimes things go your way (ie: Adam Morrison and Gonzaga), and sometimes they don't (ie: Patrick Sparks and Kentucky). And that's ok. At the end of the day, if you can say you gave it the old college try, that should be the most important thing to take with you. I admit that it might TAKE A WHILE for you to reach that conclusion, but I think it's something good to keep in the back of your mind (and who knows? Perhaps this advice might just prevent someone from screaming at the caterer when dinner is served too early)!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DESTINATION WEDDING DON'Ts (PART III)

"The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches."

~e.e. cummings


So I received an interesting--and I think a *tad* sarcastic--post from a reader, which I'd like to relay (having to do with winter-themes, which is why I decided on the e.e. cummings quote above):

"I must be going to bridal hell for accepting my friends' offers to set up the reception site. I'm sure that 90 minutes on a cool February day took total advantage. There was even some "snowflake" scattering on the tables. The horror!"

I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: my postings are not meant as attacks. The stories I've heard, however, are tidbits of information that MAY help people planning their wedding for October '07, and even those who are happily playing the field temporarily, avoid certain scenarios that others have found offensive, or just plain annoying.

Of course, not all of my advice/stories are as extreme. But, as these stories and situations have resonated with people that I know, I think that it's important to share them with others, in the hopes that people will realize that certain things--perhaps stapling rose petals to a runner in mid-90 degree heat, for example--may potentially annoy or offend some.

I think it's GREAT that there are gals out there willing to help set up reception sites--and there's nothing wrong with brides asking for this help!

HOWEVER, there are times and places--and certain extremes that people *may* want to avoid.

So live, prosper, and scatter snowflakes.... there's nothing wrong with it, and I'm not attacking it. I've come to realize in attending tons of weddings that there are certain things I, like many others, have found strange. As the Wedding Fairy, I try to point them out--not as a means of judging or finger pointing-- but as a way of helping others figure out how to handle various situations.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

DESTINATION WEDDING DON'TS (PART III)

So I happened to have an American-Idol date with Aubrey last night....

(Is it me, or is Katherine whats-her-face -- the one with the good voice -- REALLY annoying? With MAJOR attitude? Keep an eye on her. She was pouting in the red room when everyone else was clapping for Mandisa when she rocked the house. She isn't what she seems. As a side note -- LOVE Elliot. LOVE Paris. LOVE LOVE LOVE Mandisa. We'll see what happens!)


...and, during commercial breaks, she told me more about the petal-stapling fiasco.

It turns out that I was WRONG. Aubrey was ASKED to staple petals to the runner -- in 90 degree heat -- but she was saved by her boyfriend's mother, who told her she shouldn't do it (Bobbi Villa was a friend of Aubrey's boyfriend's family).

Instead Aubrey helped sprinkle petals on the tables for the reception -- Fine (I guess?).

When she told me what her boyfriend looked like by the end of the petal-stapling fiasco, I almost fell off the couch laughing:

"I can't even believe what he looked like -- he was so sweaty and gross!"

Apparently, the men who were put to work had it the worst -- as they were toiling away in their suits and ties -- in the Aruba heat!!!!

I wanted to follow up in order to clarify the story- the clarification, I think, somehow even makes it worse.

Why? What I ALSO didn't know before--which I kind of think is the kicker--is that Aubrey and Boyfriend were STAYING AT A DIFFERENT HOTEL -- so it's not as if they had time to shower after the preparation and before the actual wedding.

Point: Remember that it's freaking hot if you're doing a destination wedding somewhere exotic -- and your guests should be sweating in the sun ONLY if they decide to go suntanning at the beach (and NOT due to dealing with your wedding reception!)

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 06, 2006

DESTINATION WEDDING DON'TS (PART III)


One thing to remember about destination weddings, as I've said before, is that your guest list of 250 people may end up translating to 30-50 who make the trek (depending on where you're holding it).

When you have fewer people present, it may end up being close family friends/relatives who are there for your special day--which may surprisingly lead to the temptation of getting everyone more involved than they would initially expect. Since there are so many items to take care of on your endless checklist, it may become a major temptation to have those around you pitch in.

My friend Aubrey attended her cousin's wedding in Aruba (I'll call her BobbiVilla -- for Bob Villa from "This Old House" -- you'll see why in a minute). Unlike many who find it a hassle to travel far and wide to make it to the destination wedding, Aubrey was psyched to get away from work, go somewhere exotic with her boyfriend (who was invited), and to celebrate with her cousin.

What Aubrey didn't anticipate, however, was being put to work--and helping set up for the ceremony and reception! Apparently, all of BobbiVilla's friends and family were given "tasks" -- as the ceremony was taking place on the beach, and it was somewhat windy that particular day, Aubrey and her boyfriend spent much of the afternoon of the wedding stapling/gluing rose petals onto the carpeting and material provided that would be a part of the ceremony. Aubrey described how her boyfriend was particularly sweaty and tired from the job, and it took them a couple of hours--they were exhausted even before the ceremony/reception began!

In addition to the rose-petal stapling, other friends and family had tasks of arranging the placecards at reception hall, filling the baskets in the bathrooms with amenities, and other similar activities.

Although Aubrey really didn't have a problem with helping her cousin out, she did find it a little strange that everyone at the wedding became involved in the planning and setting up process.

The point of this story is that when planning a destination wedding, it's important to remember to cover your bases in terms of hired help and that you shouldn't be using your friends/family as a last resort in getting the wedding details finalized. Sure, it's ok to have your mom and closest friend involved, but if most everyone at the wedding is taking part in the pre-wedding festivities, I think they'd be too tired to celebrate DURING the wedding as a result!

Although this example of rose-stapling may be an extreme--and not every bride turns into Bobbi Villa (arming guests with a staple gun and glue)--it's a good reason to remember that destination weddings create their OWN issues, which must be addressed in turn.

Stay tuned!