Thursday, June 29, 2006

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS: PART IV


Wow. What a week. With an endless amount of work to do, it seems like I'll never work my way out of the piles and piles that are collecting dust on my desk.

What am I getting at? I'm not really sure. Just letting off steam, really. But, I thought that I'd tie my venting about long hours at the office (and associated stress level) into a comparison of the stress that accompanies planning a wedding.

I haven't yet experienced planning a wedding, but I've seen friends and family members in the throes of the wedding planning process. And one thing I've seen is that many brides-to-be have virtual meltdowns when it comes to the little details, as well as the larger picture.

I guess I'm pondering the overarching question of WHY planning causes so much stress -- as much as it's a lot of work, isn't it supposed to be FUN?

I can definitely say the same about work. Why am I so high strung about things? Shouldn't I be enjoying what I do?

Both questions have different responses because different factors are involved. At work, I have to deal with clients (who are dealing with lots and lots of money). With a wedding, a bride to be is dealing with wedding planners and vendors--but at the end of the day, she has to remember that SHE's the client.

So let's go to the next question: What's the end result?

If something goes wrong at work, I *could* get fired -- but it's highly unlikely. As one of my more senior colleagues has always told me, almost everything can be fixed.
I really believe that the same goes for wedding planning - and guess what? You aren't getting fired -- in fact, you're in the position to be firing others.

In the end, it's (whatever "it" is) not the end of the world. Really -- it isn't. If your centerpieces don't turn out the way you want them (i.e. the flowers are wilting earlier than anticipated)?

You can fix it - and if there isn't enough time or if you simply can't? It's ok.


With work, what happens if you make a mistake? Or something goes wrong? Someone you don't know very well yells at you. With weddings, what happens if your vendor makes a mistake? Either you yell at someone OR you take it. And deal.

I believe in the latter theory -- live and let live. I'm NOT saying lower your standards -- not at all. But it's important to remember what's important in the end -- and hold fast to that.

I've come to the conclusion that the follies and foibles that occur really should not be the cause of supreme stress -- while I may say that now, I have to remember that when I return to the office tomorrow.

For the sake of your friends and family (who will be your guests at the wedding), I would keep that in mind during the wedding planning process. No, I haven't planned my own. But I've seen far too many people I know succumb to this absurd level of pressure, and I've lost a friend as a result of complete narrow mindedness in terms of wedding planning.

Believe me. You'll have your moments. But smiling instead of tearing your hair out about a mistake is a lot better way to live your life - both in the office and out.

Stay tuned!






Sunday, June 25, 2006

99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL: ALCOHOL AT YOUR WEDDING (PART V: CONCLUSION)

I received a serious but important question in response to these alcohol issues, which I thought would be a fitting way to end this series.

"Ideas for making sure you don't create any drunk drivers? My wedding is pretty big and I know not everyone is staying over at the hotel. How can I make sure everyone stays safe? I'm planning on having quite a bit myself! :) I DESERVE IT - planning this wedding has been such a big deal."

It's a good idea to remember not only what you're serving, but the effects thereof. My suggestion? Try to limit as many drivers as possible by giving your guests OPTIONS.

Unfortunately, there will be about 1,001 things you'll be dealing with at your actual wedding (i.e. the photographer, the caterer, making sure the flowers are where you want them, meeting and greeting guests at the reception tables, figuring out how to use the ladies' room in your dress), that you really won't have time on the special day to think much about the effects of alcohol.

Some of the pre-planning (with regard to alcohol at your wedding and the effects thereof) really depends on circumstance, and what type of transportation is available in your town/city. If you live in a big city, it's definitely a possibility for guests to hail a cab. However, a good alternative is to hire a car service company to be available (in advance), and have guests call the service at the end of the evening--so an individual car will pick them up when they are ready to leave (much like ordering a car in advance for an airport pick up or drop off). That's what TallGuy and I did at a wedding reception in Brooklyn, and it was very convenient--we were grateful that our hosts provided that service for us. While it may seem like an expensive option, you can still have your guests pay for the actual service--however, there most likely will be a fee for your to reserve the service for the evening....

Whether you live in a big city or small town, these car services should be readily available - a little planning goes a long way.

Other than that, you, do, to some extent, have to depend on your guests to be responsible and to know when to say when. If you think many people will be driving to the reception, and you can pass the word, talk up having designated drivers. At least in my experience, no one really wants to end up having to drive to a wedding reception anyway--and when that happens, people SHOULD be responsible.

Think about your environs, where you live, and what types of transportation are available. Planning in advance will help avoid any issues the day before and particularly the "big day" -- and these are things to think about--in addition to what type of alcohol you are going to serve!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL: ALCOHOL AT YOUR WEDDING (PART IV)

Here's a tip: not all alcohol is created equally. Sure, not everyone is going to serve Cristal at their weddings as would, say, Madonna or Sir Paul McCartney (FYI - I have no clue what they served at their receptions, but when you think $$$$, you think Cristal--at least I do!) However, it's important to remember that some types of alcohol (and beer and wine) are more caustic (and headache-worthy) than others -- and alcohol tasting/researching before your wedding should be part of the wedding planning process.

This is not a budget issue - it's a time/energy issue.
Even if you are having a small and tasteful (but not huge budget) affair, it's a good idea to look into what types of wines and vodkas, for example, are inexpensive (or less expensive than Gray Goose, for example) but not terrible quality.

Remember the type of alcohol you used to buy in college (or high school, for some of you movers and shakers out there) that was great for pre-partying? Yeah. That stuff. The stuff you woke up with the next day as you nursed your hangover and swore to yourself that you would NEVER. EVER. drink again.

Although this is a common sense type of thing--don't buy that stuff for your wedding. And if you are hiring someone to handle that stuff for you, don't let them serve it.

Go over the type of alcohol you want to have before the wedding, and like I noted in my last post, remember that planning is involved. Look for quality type labels to serve, as it's common that your guests at wedding will have more than they plan on having -- it's a wedding, so they should!

While no guest is going to wake up the next morning and get annoyed with the bride/groom for the type of alcohol they served (that would be slightly ridiculous), remember that it's the LITTLE THINGS that make a wedding great -- and making sure your guests are taken care of -- and you are serving quality stuff -- is a silent but effective way of doing a great job on the small details.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL: ALCOHOL AT YOUR WEDDING (PART III)

As a side note (but still relevant to the alcohol discussion), I do want to emphasize and reiterate that while I take into account the thoughts and opinions of my friends, colleagues, and random acquaintances, much of my commentary stems from my own experiences--and these experiences have shaped my very individual perspective.

Having said that, I appreciate--and encourage--dialogue about how things are done in different places -- for example, I find it very interesting to hear about the social patterns and societal norms in Australia, in addition to the other countries readers are tuning in from. Things may even be different in various parts of the U.S. (I am sure they are!), and there is certainly a diverse range of issues that arise (which may be different from what I've seen). I hope these posts, are in some form, conversations--rather than my lecturing about what is "right" - while I do have my opinions, I certainly welcome others--and hearing about how you've formed them!

Anyway, back to alcohol. One thing that I think is important is to know what you're serving--and why. If you are having the reception site serve alcohol (in addition to beer and wine), planning ahead is a good way to ensure that your guests will not only be happy with what they've ordered from the bartender (i.e. rum and diet coke) but pleasantly surprised with the cocktails you've chosen in advance to be the "highlights".

Having one or two "signature" drinks is a neat way of defining your wedding--and your own tastes. Appletini? Perhaps a Kir Royale (especially if it's during the winter holiday season)? Depending on your budget and your personal style, you may find that having "pre-ordered" (i.e. planned in advance with the caterer or whomever is in charge of the bar) cocktails are a great way to distinguish your wedding from others.

For example, if your wedding is in the summer, deciding on "beachy" types of drinks (for example, different flavors of margaritas or seabreezes) may help set the mood or theme of your wedding -- even down to the actual color of the drink and the type of alcohol used.

While this advice may not be surprising to some, "signature" cocktails are an important thing to think about in terms of style, price, and what you think your guests (and YOU!) will enjoy.... while it's perfectly standard to have beer and wine -- if you decide to throw alcohol into the mix, keeping these cocktails in the mix will make your wedding "signature" as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL: ALCOHOL AT YOUR WEDDING (PART II)

One reason I love getting comments from you guys is that it brings new issues to the table--comments to my last post raised the alcohol vs. no alcohol debate.

While I'm not going to address that issue at the moment, and I do acknowledge that this is a very sensitive topic, I want to take the opportunity to raise a few points about what NOT to do IF you are serving alcohol at your wedding....the commentators made me realize that ALCOHOL MUST BE SERVED "CORRECTLY" -- OR IT SHOULDN'T BE SERVED AT ALL.

The subject of my post is pretty simple. Cash Bar. As in: Don't have one. I am the first to acknowledge that the cost of a wedding is, in many cases, egregious -- and that the cost of alcohol certainly has something to do with that.

An important aspect of your wedding is the VIBE -- is it a fun, happy reception? Are people up and about, smiling and laughing? I know that when I have my wedding, I want my guests to feel like they are at a party of sorts -- and to be honest, I think that making guests pay for their drinks would definitely be a buzz-kill-- both literally and figuratively.

If people have to pay for their drinks, they will be less likely to partake. And while I'm certainly not advocating having s*%&-faced friends and family swinging from the chandeliers, I don't think that, if you decide to serve alcohol, your choices should prevent people from partaking.

Also--haven't people paid for enough? Paying for the wedding gift is, for many guests, a major expense--not to mention the shower gift, bachelorette party gift, travel expenses, etc. etc. that may be added into the equation. Having people pay for their drinks at a wedding is another "add on" that is unexpected and unnecessary. If you have to do it -- then I would suggest cutting out the alcohol entirely---or making sure the affair is casual enough that people can bring their own. Honestly -- BYOB is probably a better idea than a Cash Bar ever is....

So, to conclude, I think having alcohol or not is a personal, individual decision -- however, if you do decide to have it -- do it right, or not at all.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL: ALCOHOL AT YOUR WEDDING (PART I)

 "Forget the café lattés, screw the raspberry iced tea/
A Malibu and Coke for you, a G & T for me...."

I don't know about you guys, but I happen to love this
Barenaked Ladies song... since I've already dated myself in my profile,
I'll simply say that this ditty (titled "Alcohol" - shocker there, no?)
makes me look back fondly on my college days (not JUST because I liked to
mix Malibus and Cokes during pre-parties). The song happened to be tres
popular during my sophomore year, thus the subject of my fond recollection....

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I thought that bringing up the subject of
ALCOHOL would bring forth a diverse set of quandries/issues/dilemmas....
Unlike a college preparty (or at least those that I went to!), weddings are
most oftentimes viewed as elegant affairs (or at least that's the
goal).

Interestingly enough, alcohol seems to be the consistent factor that
pops up in a myriad of scenarios, threatening to challenge that
sense of elegance.

Bottom line: There are a number of ways the subject of alcohol comes into
play-- and its treatment not only affects you, but how your guests view
the event to which they've been invited. Beyond the dramatic, there are
certain points about what to serve-- and when to serve it--that are details
worth noting (which I will do in a later post for this series).

To get the ball rolling, I'd like to tell you the story of the time I went
to my friend's wedding--and her new-husband practically french-kissed me
on the forehead
--in front of TallGuy.

Say what?

Yes. I repeat: My friend's husband nearly "french kissed" me on the
forehead at his wedding.

TallGuy and I were enjoying a very lovely wedding, and the husband (who
I'll call NotTongueTiedTed--Ted for short) and my friend, Cheri, were making
the rounds and heading over to each table to say hello to all the guests--
thanking them for being there on their special day and making sure we
were all having a good time.

As Ted and Cheri made it to our table, TallGuy and I were still seated, and
turned (half standing) to say hello to them. It was evident that Ted had
a few drinks that evening (you could smell it on his breath)-- and why
shouldn't he have? Nothing wrong with drinking at your wedding (the moral
of this story is below, so read on)!

Cheri leaned over to thank me, kissing me on the cheek, and
Ted loudly said goodbye and thank you -- giving me a sloppy-ish kiss
(yes there was some wetness involved) ON MY FOREHEAD.

You know what? It wasn't even offensive--it was just plain FUNNY.
Obviously, Ted wasn't trying to pull anything -- it was just a kiss on the
cheek gone awry--very awry. TallGuy and I snickered about it on the way
out, and we still do to this day. When I asked TallGuy recently whether or
not he were offended by it -- he just responded:
"I thought it was funny that you had his saliva
all over your forehead."

There's really no specific lesson to be learned from this post, and I acknowledge
that. Clearly, no bride-to-be can prepare herself for this kind of situation (who
would think that their new husband would give a sloppy kiss on someone's forehead?)

However, this story does underscore the larger importance of maintaining
one's alcohol
intake.

I've talked about this before when it comes to drunken wedding speeches, and
I'll point this out here, too: You should be held to the same standards--
if not higher--as your guests. Just remember that you and your fiance/husband
probably haven't eaten much due to stress (or trying to fit into your dress), and
you're running around greeting people all evening (and may not even have time
to eat the beautiful catered spread that you paid for!) -- therefore, keep in mind
what you are drinking and when you drink it.

I am SURE that Ted wasn't making an ass out of himself all evening -- as the
Wedding Fairy was on active duty that night, she didn't see anything else shady.
However, I am also SURE that the sloppy-forehead kiss definitely had
something to
do with his drinking a lot that night.

So, moral of the story, be aware of what you and your husband are drinking --
while mishaps like this may seem part and parcel of having a little too much to
drink, they're still funny enough that I like to share them with you guys -- and
believe me, if this happened to me and TallGuy at our wedding (whenever that
is), I'd kick his ass. :)

This series will discuss, as I mentioned other aspects of alcohol intake -- and
more neutrally, what to serve, and when to serve it.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MUSIC: HITS AND MISSES (PART IV)

I'd like to take this fourth post as a clarification about and conclusion to the issues I've described that relate to music....

One must remember that CIRCUMSTANCE is part and parcel of all of the "fun" stuff that happens (or doesn't happen) at your wedding as relates the band or DJ.

For example, the story I described about Madison is very similar to another one I just heard the other day from my friend Eric, since I had broached the subject with him in quest of more good stories (and, his having gone to like nine weddings this past year, I knew he would have 'em!). At his friend's wedding, apparently there was supposed to be soft piano music while the courses were served -- and the band was supposed to play dance music in between. Eric heard from the best man, later in the evening, that the cocktail hour lasted too long, and to make up time, they served food faster so they decided to have soft music playing in between meals instead. Then, the band came back after dessert, and the dancing started thereafter.

Like Madison's fortuitous experience, Eric's friend ended up getting lucky that the crazy band music and high energy came towards the end of dinner -- and wasn't broken up in between the meals -- why was it lucky? Because as Eric mentioned to me, the mass of guests, for the most part, was fairly young -- the "oldest" couples at the affair were middle-age, and seldom (if any) elderly grandmas, grandpas, and great aunts/uncles were in attendance. Therefore, having so much "fast" dancing in a longer period of time worked out well--while if there were older people, there would probably have been more "slow" dancing and the "mood" may have been different.

The way Eric described it, the wedding was like a dinner party for an hour and a half (the meal), and then a dance party for two to three hours (post-meal).

What does this story have to do with circumstance, you ask? This wouldn't have happened if the cocktail hour were ON TIME -- if the cocktail hour had ended when it was supposed to, then the evening would have turned out differently.

Would fewer people have danced? Don't know. Does this mean people wouldn't have as good of a time? Probably not.

HOWEVER, it's important to remember that EACH situation (i.e. your wedding compared to someone else's) is UNIQUE, and EACH situation will not necessarily work out as planned. While it's important to plan and get everything in order, it's equally important (if not more) to remember that the chips will fall as they may..... and you can't know if that's a bad thing!

Keeping CIRUMSTANCE in mind, as well as the concepts from my last posts (communication with the band, being aware of the composition of your guests, any not stressing if things DON'T go as planned), will help you tackle many of the music issues that arise.....

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 02, 2006

MUSIC: HITS AND MISSES (PART III)

TallGuy and I are like one person when it comes to many things (values, goals, etc.), but when it comes to television, he and I are worlds apart.

Agreed, I can understand why it may be difficult for him to stomach "America's Next Top Model", "American Idol" (Elliot should have won, by the way), or any number of my Lifetime Movies (my favorite being "She's Too Young"), but a girl's gotta have her entertainment!

The one show that we DO have in common is The Office -- one of the best comedies--ever (yes, ever), my favorite episodes are those where Pam, the secretary, is planning her wedding (and her colleague/should-be boyfriend Jim helps her out) ....

In one of them, they are watching music videos of various bands that Pam and her fiance may end up using for her wedding. One of the VHS cassettes showcases a very bad 80s-style music video -- featuring her colleague, Kevin, on the drums. Pam and Jim giggle as they watch the band butcher a Sting classic.

Stay with my, dear reader, as I am getting to the point of this post--USING FRIENDS/FAMILY MEMBERS AS MUSICAL ACTS.

On the last episode of this season's "Office," Pam's fiance (who also works at the same company) asks Kevin if his band wants to play at the wedding--which obviously was NOT a decision that was made with Pam's consent.

My point: Be very careful--particularly when it comes to music--about using a friend or family member who is a musician, and make sure that you know what you're getting into before you say "yes".

Sure, there are musicians (and fortuitously happen to be friends of yours) who are AWESOME--like BigSis's friend who played the flute during her ceremony (who has a LOT of skill)--and worked very well with my BigSis, and they worked out exactly what music to play, when to play it, etc. But then again, good buddies who mean well -- and may be able to save you a buck -- may not have the skills that are necessary to play in front of a large group of people.

While it's inevitable that you will listen to the sound of any band before hiring THEM,
it's important to keep in mind that it's not the sheer quality issue that may be a problem when you hire a friend/relative -- it's the level of control problem that may arise as well.

In many of my posts, I've said that it's important to "live and let live" -- when it comes to music, as I may have said before, maintaining control over the band or musician should be par for the course (when it comes to song choice, for example -- not necessarily with regard to my last post about timing of the music).

Therefore, in hiring a friend/family member, remember that there may be more sensitive issues when it comes to giving instructions and maintaining control. Even if your friend isn't being paid, it may create more complications that you should anticipate.

I realize that many of you aren't going to be in this situation, but some of you might. A friend of mine today was just mentioning how a family friend of her fiance's plays the piano, and wanted to do the cocktail party portion of the evening -- we discussed how issues may arise related to this, including striking a balance between not wanting to offend someone she and her fiance know well and having everything go "perfectly" on the big day -- i.e. just the way they want it.

While a friend may not be along the lines of a "Kevin," having anyone participate in the wedding will bring up different issues, and raises implications that one must be aware of as they plan their special day.

Stay tuned!