Friday, April 28, 2006

WHEN READERS SPEAK... THE WEDDING FAIRY LISTENS (PART I)

I'm not sure if you guys realize this, but I LOVE hearing from ya'll...As much fun as it is to write posts, it's even more fun reading my new comments :)

I received a comment from a reader yesterday, which I thought was particularly insightful--and it goes to show, you guys really ARE paying attention:

"First of all, I want to say that I really enjoy coming to check out what you have to say! I'm planning my September wedding and I like to read your thoughts and take some things into consideration with my own wedding. I loved the posts you wrote about keeping your bridesmaids in mind! Although, I've noticed a negative tone to your posts lately. Are you becoming bitter or annoyed towards weddings and brides-to-be? Just a reflection from one of your faithful readers!"

Thank you, Anne, for the feedback and the observation. I wanted to answer your question, since I'm sure many readers wonder what motivates me to write this blog several days a week:

I hadn't actively realized that the past several posts have been negative--I did brace myself for negative comments when I wrote the series about shutting the $*% up--I had a feeling that I may surprise or perhaps even offend some people. Although part of that WAS humorous, there was some sort of annoyance that pervaded that series--I don't think the tone really came from anything but the culmination of crazy things that I've seen, and the friendships that have become strained.

For example, I think Megan (and perhaps another reader) had asked a while ago whatever happened with the friend who didn't invite TallGuy to her wedding --when she knew TallGuy and I had postponed our trip to the Greek Islands so we could be there (and even worse, didn't bother letting me know he wasn't invited, and then meekly writing me an email 2 weeks after the invitations were received): It's sad, but we don't speak anymore.

Although sometimes I regret that, I then become angry when I think that someone could become that self-absorbed about her wedding--to the point that she could let it affect our friendship. It was not only that fiasco regarding my trip with TallGuy, but her utter lack of communication with me during the time she was planning her "special day." The result = a ruined friendship. All over a freaking wedding!

The point of my writing this is to highlight that I've had several negative experiences in the past as regards friends losing their minds when it comes to planning--and I think sometimes that takes different tones in my writing -- sometimes I am more constructive, since my experiences can help others. And sometimes (perhaps how I've been in the past few weeks) I am more bitter (because I can't believe how this stuff can actually affect friendships and confidences).

So, Anne, to answer your question (in a very convoluted way), I haven't become bitter or angry--I think depending on my mood, or my perspective on the day in question, it comes out differently in my writing. Make sense?

However, I would like to emphasize that I will DEFINITELY be paying more attention to TONE as I continue to write these posts--as many of you are on this site for advice and help, my goal is CERTAINLY NOT to belittle anyone (or any aspect of wedding planning) or BITCH AND MOAN about people or things. I will be more positive in my approach, and I want you to know that I THINK SO POSITIVELY about writing and having a discourse with everyone who takes the time to read.

So thank you all again so much--I look forward to hearing from you soon! Back to "kids" for my next post!

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 24, 2006

KIDS + WEDDINGS = ? (PART III)


After three non-stop days of being "on" at my college reunion (it's VERY tiring trying to look cute + speak eloquently + make your life sound more exciting than it really is), I am very excited to get back to the anonymous world of the Wedding Fairy (since I certainly couldn't exactly introduce myself that way there :)

I was speaking with a friend of mine about the concept of kids at weddings, and she made a very apt analogy: in many ways, the presence of children at weddings is much like having grandparents at high school/college graduations--the ceremony/reception oftentimes becomes about THEM--not because it's their fault--but because they don't know any better, or can't really help it.

Remember at high school graduations when 80 year old grandparents had to be wheeled to the coveted, shady part of the lawn (if the graduation was held outside), or outright faint because of the heat? I do. That type of behavior was pretty frequent, as I remember, at my graduation from high school (and that of my brother). Parents were too busy looking after the grandparents (i.e. their mothers and fathers)--and therefore missed much of the ceremony due to the constant fussing. In most cases, it really isn't the grandparent's fault--I don't think an 85-year old woman loves the fact that she's in 90 degree heat and needs to be coddled. However, due to the frailty and age of many of these people, receptions and ceremonies become about THEM--instead of the guests maintaining focus on those who are on stage to receive their diplomas.

In many cases, young children are much like grandparents, in the sense that they MUST be taken care of--and that circumstance doesn't always lend itself to their being part of the ceremony/reception.

If a four-year old is supposed to walk down the aisle as a flower girl, and then stay on stage (or to the side of the stage) during the actual ceremony, can we actually expect her to stand still? One of my friends attended a wedding where a woman was trying to make her two-year old sit still on stage (she was supposed to be part of the ceremony), while the young child was screaming and fighting with her mother, because she didn't want to sit where she was placed. Is that the child's fault? Certainly not. The mother had unrealistic expectations about her daughter remaining patient--because if you think about it, two-year olds just don't know how to act that way yet.

The bottom line in bringing up this analogy is that you MUST be realistic about how children are going to act at the wedding--both the ceremony and reception. And they shouldn't be treated as "little adults" -- there's no way they can act like that, whether or not you ask them to.

REMEMBER: IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE TYPE OF MOOD YOU ARE TRYING TO SET, AND THE TYPE OF "DAY" YOU ARE TRYING TO HAVE. Just remember that in any scenario, children are not going to behave as you would like them to -- it's just the way it is.

I'll be back this week with more about children, but I wanted to focus on this analogy first, as you think about why you want to have children in the first place, and what kind of wedding you are looking to have.... These questions matter, and figuring out the answer isn't as easy as you might think. If you think about children in the above-context, however, it may help you think about the larger issues that will arise.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A WEDDING FAIRY VACATION (BE BACK ON SUNDAY NIGHT!)....

Alas, I have sadly not been able to continue my "kids" discussion this week, as work has prevented me from spending more time online.... I am going to my fifth year college reunion this weekend (the Wedding Fairy desparately needed a vacation from work!), so I'll be back Sunday. More to come then....

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 17, 2006

KIDS + WEDDINGS = ? (PART II)

I thought a previous comment was intriguing when it came to this subject of children, as it raised a lot of questions when it comes to how we think about having children at our ceremonies and receptions.

"Here in France, the wedding party is made up almost entirely of kids... I think it would be pretty unheard of to say No Children Allowed... In general, the whole approach to weddings is much more relaxed. You don't have to have a church ceremony if you don't want to...you don't have a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner the night before, everything does not have to be absolutely perfect or else your marriage is ruined, etc...."

Megan, can you come to the States and instill some of that laid-backness (or, perhaps should I say HEALTHY attitude) into weddings here in the U.S.?

It's interesting that the subject of children seems to be a very cultural question--I certainly like hearing the point of view of those who are not in the States (since I take on many of these subjects with my own cultural viewpoint--not only am I an American, but a New Yorker--much of my perspective comes from what I see in the States--and in the City!); it provides for a much richer discussion.

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that many of these issues--particularly as regards children--are going to result in VERY different opinions--both as a result of cultural norms (i.e. what is acceptable or the standard in the States versus other countries) AND due to the fact that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this subject. Some people love kids--some people hate 'em -- this isn't as clear-cut as some of the other issues I've raised....

Tomorrow I'll be back with specific thoughts based on children's age and type of wedding.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

KIDS + WEDDINGS = ?: AN INTRODUCTION (PART I)

"Kids are wonderful, but I like mine barbecued."
--Bob Hope

I thought the above-quotaton from the venerable actor and comedian, the late Bob Hope, was a fitting introduction to a topic that engenders much controversy--and hopefully will provoke some interesting discussion. Children are interesting creatures--particularly when one views them in the context of wedding etiquette and the planning-process. The issue of whether children are--and should be--welcome at weddings is a topic that I've learned has become surprisingly contentious for many brides-to-be planning their weddings.

The first image in many people's minds of children at weddings is the cute, ringlet framed face of the flower girl walking down the aisle, strewing rose petals on the runner. That, as well as the portrait of the dimple-faced ring bearer, is the stereotypical vision that many have when it comes to children's participation in these events. What could be so bad about that?

However--it's just not that easy (whether one looks at it from the point of view of having children IN THE WEDDING--or EVEN SIMPLY WHETHER TO INVITE THEM OR NOT.

My friend Kathy's story is particularly relevant, as she comes from a very small family (with no young cousins, nieces, or nephews), whereas her fiance hails from a large clan in California--with many relatives who have babies and infants to boot. Kathy and her fiance decided to have an evening wedding--a black tie affair in which the ceremony would be called for 7 PM (which meant it would start even later). They had everything worked out, including the guest list, and nothing seemed particularly stressful or problematic. Until Kathy's fiance told her that his second cousin wanted to bring her 5-month year old to the wedding.

Kathy never spoke directly with the cousin, but her fiance's mother (so Kathy's mother-in-law to be) told the cousin that YES, she could bring her baby daughter, and that it wouldn't be a problem.

Furious, Kathy immediately spoke with her fiance and told him that that absolutely would NOT be allowable--and that the no-children allowed rule was there for a reason.

Having a five-month old at the ceremony, Kathy thought, would be intrusive and rather inappropriate--particularly given that this was an intimate, yet formal affair. The thought of a baby screaming through the ceremony (and, perhaps, reception) was too much for her to bear--particularly as Kathy was footing the bill.

Kathy thought that, as a compromise, the cousin could bring the baby to the rehearsal dinner if necessary, and she and her fiance would find them a babysitting service, or someone who could look after the child during the actual wedding. But that was it. In the end, baby did not come to the wedding, and, in Kathy's mind, disaster was averted. Given the size of her wedding (very small) and type (black tie, formal, evening), Kathy thought it would have been not only inappropriate but potentially disastrous to the type of wedding she and her fiance had agreed upon--and planned out.

The moral of this story, as my introduction to this topic, is that this is one of the few places where I don't take a laissez-faire approach--or live and let live. As this is YOUR wedding, you have to decide what type you want--and whether that will involve children. You don't have to "give in" to relatives, if there is pressure to invite very young children (or pressure not to!)--simply because finding a babysitter is problematic (or your in-laws want a very "adult, formal" affair). If you decide you want to include children, that's terrific--and in the next few posts, I'll talk about what I think is/isn't appropriate when it comes to this subject. However, you have to think about these issues in advance--otherwise, you may have a situation where, as you create your guest list, you and your fiance begin to debate the merits of inviting his cousin's three year old daughter. It's all about the CONTEXT of your wedding, and what you are looking for in terms of style and size--because whether or not you want to believe it, the presence (or lack thereof) of kids may affect your vision.

I wanted to put some food for thought out there in the form of an anecdote, as this is one subject where it seems like everyone has a story.... I'll elaborate upon the children-issue in the next few posts, as it seems to be a hot-button subject for many.

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 14, 2006

SOMETIMES YOU SHOULD JUST SHUT THE %*$ UP: PART III

I've been receiving some comments about wedding registries and how to 'get the word" out -- I thought that topic was interesting in the context of how much information is "too much"...

One reader commented that: "Many brides are now using the website Wedding Channel" - which in the olden days would have been thought of as tacky - but now seems to be widely accepted by most people."

Although I agree that it may be helpful and/or practical for people to use websites, such as The Wedding Channel and The Knot, as a centralized means to have people find their registry information, , it depends on HOW YOU USE THEM. Believe it or not, there is a clear and present danger that doing the old TMI (Too Much Information) will leave your guests and random web surfers saying "why can't she just shut the *%& up????"

As many of you know, brides-to-be can list registry information on these sites, but also create fairly detailed "wedding websites" through this vehicle--and, in many cases, brides-to-be decide that it's appropriate to tell their life story.

While it's sweet to know how the bride and groom may have met, I'm going to be honest: not many people care all that much--and those who DO CARE already know the story!!! If I'm a wedding guest who is close to the bride, I'll most likely realize how the bride knows her maid of honor, and her other bridesmaids/ushers and attendants. And if I'm not close to the bride? Do I really care that she knows her maid of honor, Lindsey, through meeting in fifth grade at summer camp?

Having a site to post your wedding registry is a personal decision, and, since so many people do it, it's difficult to say that it's tacky, since it's so common. However, when you use these wedding websites to post your registry AND advertise your life story and that of your fiances (with photographs of you and your fiance to boot)--I think that's taking the purpose for using the site over the line, and begging for the question: "Can she please just shut the *%& up?" Most people go to these websites to find the registry, order, and leave. I'm not even getting to the subject of wedding websites here, as I'm really speaking to the commercial sites where people post their registries. On a side note in terms of privacy--do you really want random girls (and who knows, guys) surfing these sites and coming across all of your personal information? Believe me--people do it--you can put in any random name, and up pops several registries and "wedding websites" -- I certainly don't need people knowing my life story--especially when they've never met me.....

I'll conclude this theme in my three-part post with the idea that in all of these scenarios, it's important to PROCEED WITH CAUTION. Sometimes "TMI" is very overbearing and unnecessary--particularly when your guests are going on a website with the idea in mind of buying something from your registry--and the tacky-feeling that wasn't really associated as much anymore with these websites will come back with a vengeance.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

SOMETIMES YOU SHOULD JUST SHUT THE *%& UP: PART II

I received a very intelligent and insightful comment the other day, which relates to the title of my last two posts.... I realize that much of my commentary has been from the point of view of those who are NOT engaged/married and are merely observers of the wedding planning craziness. However, I think it makes a lot of sense to look at these topics from the perspective of those women who are :

The reader noted that many women, upon realizing that they have found someone in the same "wedding planning" boat, begin their wedding banter because they have discovered someone with whom they can relate (and vent)-- even if that "someone" is not a close friend or family member!

The reader commented upon this phenomenon as expressed below:

"i like the girls that spout off about their own weddings as soon as they figure out i'm engaged. and then say 'i'm so glad you understand all this!' yeah, i understand, but i still don't want to listen to it...."

Point taken. I have many friends who, believe it or not, find wedding planning annoying and burdensome, and would rather not have to deal with their mothers and fiances when it came to their wedding plans--let alone other women (they hardly know) who are also in the throes of looking for wedding dresses, floral arrangements, and reception locations!

While some simply find it stressful, many other women DO enjoy the wedding planning process, and I'm sure (though I don't have experience with it) that many aspects of it are kinda fun (how can it not be when you're doing tastings for wedding cakes? Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I would think it's kind of a neat process seeing everything come together). However, it's important to realize that just because you have something in common (planning a wedding) with an acquaintance or even a random party-goer you happen to meet one evening, it doesn't mean that that person is as receptive to hearing about it as you might be.

Therefore, keep in mind that sometimes, it's not just the non-engaged/married folk who aren't all that interested--it may very well be those women who are going through it themselves--and the last thing they want to talk about is more wedding planning when it doesn't relate to their own!

I will conclude my points about shutting the *$(% up with that lesson--keep in mind who you are talking with, and how much you are talking.... it is an important lesson every bride-to-be must learn--and those who are giving you the "Hmmmmms" and "that sounds really pretty" will thank you for it.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

SOMETIMES YOU SHOULD JUST "SHUT THE *#& UP": PART I

A few weeks ago, my friend Jill went to a party at her friend's
place--a beautiful Manhattan apartment with large bay windows
overlooking the East River. With cosmopolitans and gin and tonics
freely flowing, the party was in overdrive-- which gave her a
chance to do some prime people-watching with her boyfriend.
As
they really didn't know many people there, Jill and her boyfriend had
an enjoyable time talking to each other--and mingling with new
people. After about an hour, Jill found herself talking to someone
she had just met at the party, and being engaged in one of the most
ridiculous wedding conversations she had EVER experienced (and, as
I've learned, she's endured many)....

.... as you'll read below, one rule of thumb (which I know I've
already covered in past posts) is that sometimes--you just have to
SHUT THE *#& UP about your wedding. Why? Because NO ONE CARES.

I hate to take such a strong tact, but Jill told me she was in awe
after being part of this particular conversation. A random party-goer
(who I'll call OvertheTopTina) ended up in a discussion with Jill
about her wedding registry and generally, the general fabulousness of
her wedding--here were some of the highlights:

SHE ONLY WANTED THE "BEST" "BEST" CHINA ON HER REGISTRY, AS
THEY HAD A REGULAR SET AT HOME AND ONLY NEEDED THE HIGHEST QUALITY.


SHE HAD TO GO TO BARNEYS AND GET STARTED BECAUSE THERE WAS SOOO
MUCH TO DO AND SOOO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM.


SHE COULDN"T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE DIDN'T PUT THE "WORD OUT"
ABOUT THEIR REGISTRIES--WHY WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO GET A GIFT YOU
DIDN'T REQUEST? OR (GASP) GET TWO OF THE SAME GIFTS????


Jill told me that she had to hide the look of digust and disbelief
that was creeping onto her face, as she couldn't believe some of
egregious things that came out of OverTheTopTina's mouth regarding
registries and weddings in general. And, she couldn't believe that
she, after only having met the girl an hour beforehand--was telling
her the story. Ironic, considering she'd never be invited to the
wedding!

The one-sided discussion of the wedding registry lasted about twenty
minutes, and then started the talk of the dress, and the ring.....
Jill interjected with "hmm mmmms" and "wows" and "that sounds sooo
pretty".... but what else could she really say? Jill then decided
that it was time to go back to the bar for another one--I'm not sure
she could have endured that conversation without a few shots in her.

Jill's story reinforced something I've always believed: I have no
problems with people talking about their weddings and getting excited
about planning, I think this showiness is taking wedding planning to
the level of TACKY ... to (a) discuss things that really are
very personal and cost-related (like whether you already own fine
china or not) and (b) spend much of the evening fawning over, well,
yourself is neither appropriate nor endearing.

Save the wedding talk for small, intimate gatherings--with your close
friends and family members-not those you meet at a party or someone
you've been speaking with at a dinner party for an hour--tops. And
cost-related issues--unless you are trying to get EARNEST advice--are
really off limits.

Ask your friends what's going on with THEM--and avoid talking about
the china you already own--because its inappropriate and unnecessary.
I've already done a post on these issues, but given this recent
scenario relayed to me, I thought it was important to revisit the
importance of being SUBTLE. Subtlety is particularly important when you bring these issues up to people who don't know you--and who most likely aren't
particularly interested.

Weddings are beautiful things, but when you think you're the absolute
center of attention because of yours, take a step back. And shut the
*#(# up.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

SORRY FOR THE WEDDING FAIRY HIATUS....

...but this change in NYC weather (from 70s this past weekend) to freezing cold rain/snow has not fared well for this fairy -- I've been under the weather but will be back with new posts this weekend/early this coming week! Stay tuned and thanks for your patience!