Tuesday, October 31, 2006

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes, it's just not fair.

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

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

Sunday, October 08, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned!