Tuesday, May 30, 2006

MUSIC: HITS AND MISSES (PART II)

The Wedding Fairy returns! I am back from my jaunt to Palm Desert, which is beautiful and HOT! I envy those of you who have mountains in your backyard -- it was a nice break from the skyscrapers!

Anyways, back to the sound of music (and the shrills and shrieks that may follow, when the bride-to-be gets upset regarding this subject)....

I was at a wedding of a good friend of mine, who is a very low maintenance, cool-as-a-cucumber-type.... and throughout the entire planning process, she wasn't really fazed by much that was thrown at her in terms of the pressures she encountered. She was excited (and at peace) with her choices, particularly with the band she employed.

The bride, who I'll call Madison (which, by the way, is one of my favorite girl names -- yes, identities have been changed here as well!), had told the band--in advance--that she had wanted to have soft cocktail music played during dinner and dessert--and have the "real" music (i.e. ABBA's "Dancing Queen") that people could dance to in between meals -- so that the "the eats" would be broken up by dancing.

For whatever reason, communication lines got crossed, and as Madison and her newly-minted husband sat down to dinner, they were surprised to note that the band began to play cocktail music during each meal--but that there was no "call to the dance floor" -- and that the band was waiting until after the meal to be served.....

Madison, who is not one to get angry often, had a small fit (albeit quietly) in the corner of the reception hall. Although I was one of few to notice the scene (most everyone else was actively engaged in conversation at various tables), I could sense how upset she really was over this issue--with this post, I'm not trying to emphasize the "scene" made here (since there really wasn't one, and her anger lasted only a few minutes), as much as I am the fact that it was a shame that she was upset about it in the first place. Why? Because it ACTUALLY worked out the way the band ended up doing it!

Since the band was so amazing, people were literally dancing for two-three hours straight (with apple martini breaks, of course). In this case, it worked for the band to play long "sets", because of the energy level of the room, and the fact that many of the guests were young (though even the older group was on the floor!)

Therefore, when it comes to the eternal question of whether to have music in between meals or the "save it for later" approach, I think it's important to keep in mind the following points:

(1) Communicate with your band, even towards the bitter end of planning -- as they say (and when a President actually says it correctly): "fool me once, shame on you -- fool me twice, shame on me." Or something. If they don't quite get it the first time you tell them, make sure they get it the second. (OK, so maybe that saying didn't *quite* fit in this paragraph, but someone just said it the other day, so it's on my mind).

(2) Keep in mind the composition of your guest list -- if you have a lot of older people, it may be smarter to have breaks in between the music, since that will allow for rest and mingling--which will, in turn, keep folks on the floor when the music is played. If the list is random? (As many of them will be?) Do what you will, and everyone will follow suit.

and, finally, most importantly....

(3) Don't Stress because either way seems to work well -- unlike a "good" or "bad" band, there's really no controversy surrounding the timing of the music -- just as long as it's good, people will dance! Getting upset - particularly AT your wedding - will just put a damper on YOUR day -- and you're there to have fun!

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2006

A WEDDING FAIRY VACATION (PART II)

The Wedding Fairy has left the building..... for now.

I'm going on vacation tomorrow with my family (and TallGuy in tow), and will return from Sunny California Tuesday, May 30 (right after Memorial Day). If I can (a) find a computer in the desert (literally-- I will be in Palm Desert) and (b) can get internet service, I'll be sure to write some posts from out there.

Otherwise, I'll be back next Tuesday with more......

Stay tuned--and have a great week you guys!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

MUSIC: HITS AND MISSES (PART I)

“To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”

(Aaron Copland)

There's something about music, that, in my mind, is truly magical -- There are times I'll just be in my bedroom when TallGuy isn't around, put on my Motown records, and sing at the top of my lungs to the Jackson Five's "ABC." Music at weddings is just as cool (and certainly more interactive!) -- and when you get a good band or pianist, singing at the top of your lungs to a Motown hit with friends and family feels pretty great.

However, there are important things to keep in mind when it comes to having music at weddings. Take, for example, the following from my friend Rachel, who is a musician and has performed at many weddings, including a recent wedding where she was hired to play the piano during the ceremony/cocktail hour. Rachel was kind enough to tell me what the pros and cons were based on how the bride-to-be acted before the big day:

Pros: "She knew exactly what she wanted (some brides don't have any clue, which is okay, but then they are ALSO extra picky on top of it).

She ordered and sent all the sheet music so I didn't have to do that legwork. Most of them were familiar to me, so it didn't take too long to learn them."

Cons:

"She forgot to send recordings of the songs too, so I had to download them myself...I had downloaded the wrong song too, and was learning the wrong one. Imagine on the wedding day, she walks down to a song she actually hates because we didn't have the right song!

She also made a list of songs to play while people were sitting, and even at cocktail hour."

While I normally approach these issues from the point of view from the guest, I thought it was important to underline that the people who are hired are there to entertain your friends and family--so it's important to keep in mind the viewpoint of the musician. That way, things will go smoothly and the entertainment will be as it should. (For example -- if Rachel had learned the wrong song due to the bride not being clear about what she wanted, THAT wouldn't have gone over so well!)

To sum it up in Rachel's words: "Lessons: don't make your musicians do more work than they can handle, unless you plan to pay them more. (I should have incorporated a maximum into my fee). Tell them the genre for cocktail hour (jazz, classical, show tunes) and preludes. Then let them play what they know. Make a "do not play" list similar to what you would give to the band or DJ. no one ever listens to the musicians during cocktail hour or when they're being seated. and if there's a song you want, make sure to get the sheet music to them if the musician doesn't already have it. It's not fair to make them try to learn it by ear. (in the end, I didn't even bother with the stuff she wanted me to do for cocktail hour and the seating - and nobody noticed).

Whew. A lot to think about! But these are important issues which one needs to tackle -- depending on what kind of music you are planning to have.

As I address MUSIC as related to weddings, I thought it might be beneficial to have commentary from the point of view of Rachel as the MUSICIAN. What's neat is that Rachael the Musician is also Rachel the individual who has attended many weddings herself and has her own observations about the goings-on of these events.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

SHUTTING THE (%*# UP: SHOULD I? RUMINATIONS FROM THE WEDDING FAIRY

I received an interesting comment today, which I thought I would make the focus of a post. My latest entry is less of a response to the actual issue of shutting the *%& up, but more a general rumination on my role as The Wedding Fairy.

Just for some background, the following comment was in response to my posting about the dangers of too much information on wedding websites. One reader commented:

"If you don't want to read the cutsie story about how they met or the proposal or whatever, here's an idea... skip it! Scroll down to find whatever you do want to read.

It's really an astonishing amount of bile here. Yes, the bride described bitching about her registry was totally out of line, but how come you people care so much if someone put together a little website detailing their happy news?"

First, I'm not sure where the phrase "you people" is coming from-- I'm merely one woman putting in my two cents for people who choose to read what I have to say. At least one of the comments that had followed that particular post actually DISAGREED with my assessment.

Second, I don't profess to have all the answers, and what I say (as I've said in the past) is not the gospel. It's merely my opinion, and as a frequent guest (and observer of these events/goings on), I like to give my point of view to get brides-to-be to think about the issues. The title of my blog is "Don't be That Bride" -- there are a million and one books and websites devoted to the subject of "dos" -- and what you *should* do. Instead, I'm trying to point out to people that they should look at all different factors involved when doing things like posting personal information, or doing table arrangements, for example.

Is it unreasonable that guests don't necessarily want to hear about rose petals strewn in romantic hotel rooms the night of an engagement, or the negligee the bride-to-be chose to wear that night? Or that the bride-to-be is a magna cum laude from University of Wisconsin? I point these things out not to judge--but to make people think.

My posts are not "bile." My answers are simply opinions, and alerts as to the way that some people may perceive the actions of brides-to-be--and these viewpoints may not necessarily always be positive. This is how some people feel (not just me! I was actually talking to someone else about wedding websites today, and she was commenting on the same issue of there sometimes being too much information given on the sites), and there's no crime in giving people a "heads up" about what that perception may be.

I welcome the comments--and all opinions (both those in agreement and strong disagreement with what I have to say). That's what makes this blog interesting.
However, I view my blog as constructive--and I welcome comments that are in that same vein.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

WEATHER WORRIES (PART III): TRAVEL'S TRIALS + TRIBULATIONS

I've spoken in the past about TRAVEL issues, but there is one aspect that involves planes, trains and automobiles which is oftentimes overlooked. Why? Because it is SO obvious.

WEATHER becomes a major factor in any bride's wedding planning--no matter whether the affair is indoors or outdoors. In most cases, guests are coming from far and wide in order to attend the event, and snow, sleet, rain and hail affect not only your guests' ability to arrive on time in the actual state/city in which the event is located--but ALSO to get to the ceremony/reception on time AND in one piece.

On many levels, yes, your guests are grown-ups and can take care of themselves. However, if you can accommodate your friends and family and think of thoughtful gestures in order to address these issues, all the better. These little "touches" are all consistent with being a thoughtful bride and a good listener (especially to the weather forecast the weekend before your wedding!)

"TOUCH 1": Suppose Sam Champion of WABC news in New York predicted that it was going to be pouring rain the weekend of my wedding (which, of course, is all hypothetical--particularly because I am not engaged!) If that were the case, I certainly would think that my guests would check the forecast themselves before flying or driving to the affair. However, some may not. If I were blocking out rooms for guests in different hotels (which many brides-t0-be do), and leaving my guests gift baskets for their hotel rooms as a welcome to them (as, again, many brides-to-be do), why not get mini-umbrellas in pretty colors to put in the basket? A small gesture, but I'm sure, much appreciated--particularly for those who completely forgot to bring their umbrellas--and would have to scurry to find a Duane Reed or CVS and pick one up.

"TOUCH 2": One important point is to make sure that your guests are covered--in terms of transportation to and from the ceremony/reception. Even if guests check the weather before the weekend of the wedding, it's always difficult to predict whether or not your attire will be warm/cool enough based on that quick-check. (How many times have I gone to a party/wedding/etc. and been FREEZING cold because I didn't anticipate how cool it would be during the evening? Not to mention when it started raining?) If your guests are traveling from out of town, keep in mind that some people may be relying on cabs to get them around (instead of renting cars). If this is the case, *make sure* that taxis (in your city/town) are reliable means of transportation, and that your guests will not be left out in the cold trying to hail one down. I live in Manhattan, and I can tell you that it's not that hard to get a cab. HOWEVER, on Saturday evening in certain areas of the city (particularly downtown in the West Village), it definitely takes longer. THIS-- in Manhttan, one of the largest cities in the world! Therefore--make sure that, particularly on a wedding weekend where rain is predicted--and particularly in a location where taxis aren't the easiest to hail (to and from an event), your guests are covered (literally and figuratively). It may seem minute and silly (and yes, people CAN take care of themselves), but your guests will appreciate the heads-up in advance about the taxi situation--AND the weather forecast--in advance (and the fact that you provided them with other options!)

"TOUCH 3": This one may sound familiar--at least to those of you who aren't blessed to have pin-straight hair. You travel to an exotic destination. You get to the hotel, armed with your super-deluxe hair-dryer, ready to face the frizzies that are inevitable at the exotic locale. You get to your room and realize that your hairdryer doesn't work (as the Caribbean doesn't have the same electric plugs as the United States/France or wherever you are coming from). And you scream out loud as you try the dinky hotel hairdryer which does nothing to alleviate the frizzies. This situation can easily translate not only to Spring Break trips but to destination weddings. While not everyone chooses to have their wedding in the Bahamas, there may be some of you out there that have planned such a wedding, or are toying with the notion. Definitely beautiful, but the weather raises some issues for female guests in attendance (I would say at least 90% of them--as humidity does nothing to help our hair-dos). Therefore, come prepared. Arm yourself with ADAPTERS/CONVERTERS for people to use, and hair-dryers and straighteners that you know will work in that particular location (or have your wedding planner or hotel look into quality devices in advance of your getting down there for the big day). Make sure that your female friends and family are taken care of, and that you provide them with hairdryers that work--or at least devices that will allow them to use what they brought with them. This sounds incredibly stupid, but believe me, I would be SO GRATEFUL in that situation, knowing what my hair would look like in that humidity and heat. This would also be the case in a foreign country--I was in Paris in September, and my travel hairdryer did NOTHING to prevent frizzies--this was in September--can you imagine what my hair would look like in the summer!?! Since I've already spoken to the fact that destination weddings are oftentimes smaller affairs, it's not as difficult to look after those that are going to be at the event. Remember that these things are not hard to do--you just have to do them. And your guests will thank you for it.

These little Touches are ways of reaching your guests and ensuring that you think about them in advance of the big day--keeping in mind the way that weather can affect each and every person. These may be obvious things, but WEATHER is always obvious--therefore, it's easy to overlook yet must be kept in mind.

Stay tuned!











Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WEATHER WORRIES (PART II): THE "SQUISHY TOES" EFFECT


So, it seems that my posts about the weather have struck some sort of chord, and I feel strongly that this is one of those universal issues that affects every wedding--no matter how lavish or simple the affair.

I was talking with my mom, who happened to mention that one of her friends recently attended an event that involved a TENT. DUH DUH DUH DUHHHHHH!!!

For some reason, this word seems to evoke fright and nervousness, because of the immediate association when one hears the word TENT? What's that, you ask? TENT = RAIN.

It is true that many people decide to have TENTS for outdoor weddings in order to avoid rainy day situations. Although it is nice to think that tents are the be-all, end-all solution to an outdoor wedding that may be plagued with rain, it's simply not the case.

My mother was telling me about how her friend's experience with a tent did NOT keep her high and dry. Apparently, the tent only shielded guests from directly feeling the rain--but did nothing to avoid the muddy grass, which led to what I have coined the SQUISHY TOES EFFECT.

From what my mom told me, her friend was walking around in her high heels at a black tie affair, trying to avoid stepping in the sinking grass, but the effort was fruitless. The grass, due to the moisture in the air and the drips and drabs of the rain that somehow managed to creep in, was completely squishy, mushy, and--well, gross.

My mom's friend said that everyone was walking around in the sinking ground, and that the tent did nothing to alleviate the problem of the rain (except from directly hitting them).

What's my point? Beware of the SQUISHY TOES effect. No one wants to deal with that kind of situation (even when they're at a picnic--let alone a wedding!), and you have to account for these kinds of things--even if the back-up plan is a tent in order to avoid having guests get rained on AND there is somehow a floor that is put down in anticipation of this problem. I'm sure much of the tent issue depends on the quality and price you are willing to spend -- but these things happen even if you and your fiance are spending all the money in the world.

I'm sure some of you are planning outdoor weddings, so I thought I'd throw out something that had to do with what many believe to be a solid back-up, Plan B, alternative. Always good to challenge convention to get people thinking!

Stay tuned!






Sunday, May 07, 2006

WEATHER WORRIES: FORECASTING AND AVOIDING DISASTER (PART I)

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love Longfellow's poetry, though I have a feeling that a bride-to-be might disagree with his "live and let live" assessment to the rain--if it happened on her wedding day! More on that later, though....

Even though I'm on my own little island here on the internet (where it's always sunny and never rains!), I'm aware of the issues that arise for brides when it comes to weather. It's interesting to me that most people think they're immune from weather-issues if they have their reception indoors.

Believe it or not, there will ALWAYS be interesting issues that arise--whether it's winter, spring, summer or fall--regardless of the location of the event. Why? There are factors involved--including guests' comfort level and travel issues, for example, that may play a larger role than people initially believe....


I thought I'd start off with what I'd like to call WEATHER ETIQUETTE for my first post on this subject, since brides-to-be may be tackling this particular issue.

I received a question from a reader about how to make guests feel comfortable in warm weather--and how best to get the word out about dress code:

"We're planning on an outdoor wedding in August, so it'll probably be pretty toasty (the reception is indoors). I don't really want people to be sweating in really nice clothes, though. Is there a way to tell people that jackets and ties are not required? I don't want to hope word of mouth is enough. We were thinking of mentioning it on our website, but do you think that will be enough? I...don't want them getting over heated."

This question highlights the importance of thinking about all aspects of the weather--whether the wedding is indoors or outdoors.

The answer definitely depends on the SIZE OF THE WEDDING and the NUMBER OF GUESTS INVITED. If it's a larger wedding, I think that using a wedding website is a perfectly acceptable way of getting the word out -- this is probably the most understated yet effective way of getting the message across (next to word-of-mouth). Calling people directly seems a bit forced, so the best way to communicate your guests' comfort levels is to do it in a way that is unintrusive and in a public domain. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of wedding websites that detail the play-by-play commentary of the bride/groom's engagement night, but the websites which provide useful information are certainly helpful.

The bottom line regarding this issue is that it's good to get the message across, whether by word of mouth, or on a website, no matter HOW you handle it -- even if only 50% of your guests get the message, it's signficant that you TRIED to accommodate them.

People forget that indoor weddings--when it's 100 degrees out--do not shield guests from discomfort (since guests are traveling to get to the actual reception hall, for example, and part of the wedding may be outdoors--whether the ceremony, cocktail hour, or both). Therefore, make sure that you talk to those managing/planning the reception--in advance--about temperature control and air-conditioning. It's important to make sure of these details before having 200 people in a room and realizing that the air-conditioning doesn't work well. It happens. Making sure guests are comfortable is of PRIME importance when it comes to the weather.

Take, for example, a wedding that I went to in November. While it was a particularly balmy day that month, the wedding cocktail reception was HELD OUTDOORS. It was FREEZING! I spent the entire hour shivering in TallGuy's jacket, and there really wasn't anywhere else to go (since the room inside was being converted from ceremony to reception site). The grounds were frozen, and guests were not exactly thrilled with the locale. While the bride and groom (and wedding planner) probably thought "Wow, it's so gorgeous out! We can definitely have the cocktail hour outside!", people were not thinking ahead and realizing that a November night is no time to have a cocktail hour outside--no matter how warm it got during the day.

WEATHER ETIQUETTE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND, as you plan your wedding. If there is a potential indoor/outdoor combo, think about the issues I raised, as well as that of the reader who wanted to keep her guests cool and comfortable.

These issues are never easy, but it's important to think about them and tackle them in advance--so that you aren't leaving your guests out in the cold (or sweltering!)

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 01, 2006

KIDS + WEDDINGS = ? (PART IV)

To kick off my next post entry (related to question of: HOW MANY IS TOO MANY?), I wanted to draw upon the words of wisdom (and these words definitely are wise) of a reader who commented upon the last "kids" post:

"The best wedding receptions take in consideration the little ones who will be in attendance. Create a special place for them to gather (kids tables or a separate room) full of activities to keep them having fun all night long. Appoint someone to oversee this area as well. Consider serving them cupcakes and sprinkling their tables with activities ranging from toys to coloring books and crayons to occupy them for a couple of hours..."

See, this is why I LOVE hearing from readers -- I don't have all the answers (although I DO like to think that as the Wedding Fairy, I can provide at least some helpful insight from a practical perspective!), and it's always interesting to me to hear what other people have to say on the same subject.

The reader's comment goes to an interesting issue, and raises larger questions to dwell on -- HOW MANY KIDS IS TOO MANY? AND WHOSE KIDS DO YOU INVITE?

I agree that having activities and a baby-sitter to look after the children in one separate area is an interesting idea that provides a potentially effective solution to the problem of bored/restless kids potentially throwing a temper-tantrum at the reception or ceremony.

An issue that arises when it comes to having children at weddings, in my opinion, is knowing where to draw the line when it comes to inviting family and friends with their children and how to effectively accommodate children of varying ages and temperments. While it may work well to have them assembled in one place, what if they are of varying ages--or nine of them are "tweens" and one of them is three?

I am raising these issues because I want to emphasize that there really is no answer, and the issue of children at weddings varies--depending on WHOSE CHILDREN YOU END UP INVITING AND THE AGES OF THOSE KIDS WHO ATTEND.

One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't really worry about "rules" when it comes to inviting children--because, no matter WHOSE KIDS you invite, it never will end up working out in terms of children of the same age, temperment, etc. It just won't! And that's ok.

Should you feel guilty if you invite your cousin's two and four year old, but you and your fiance decide NOT to include his uncle's teenage son? It really depends on how close you are with the individual you are inviting--in my previous example, it MAKES SENSE not to invite the fiance's uncle's child, if the fiance isn't particularly close with the uncle (or the kid). If your closest family friend(s) have children and you want to have a wedding that includes kids, of course it makes sense.... it all is very COMMON-SENSE DEPENDENT. You need not include EVERY child that is related to someone on the guest list. While this may seem obvious, it's something to keep in mind as you tackle the daunting task of shaping (and paring) your guest list.

You should also keep this in mind after the guest list is solidified and you receive your RSVPs--and you shouldn't FREAK OUT when you realize that the number of children is too daunting, or too disparate (in terms of age) or too [fill in blank here].

So long as you have a game plan--much like the one described by the reader above in that very well-said comment--it should turn out fine--though, one never knows that these ideas translate well in practice (whether or not a child has something entertaining to do, they still are up past their bedtimes, and they may get fussy regardless of what they're doing). It's important to keep in mind that no matter how good ideas seem, there is always room for error.

Having said all of this, I understand that the issue of children is NEVER easy--but isn't it the Boy Scouts who always say "Be Prepared"? -- you'll be so happy you were--no matter whose children you decide to invite and who RSVPS.

Stay tuned!