Monday, September 29, 2008

COCKTAIL HOUR: NOT A CAGE FIGHT (PART II)

I'd like to continue on with my thoughts about cocktail hour, and bring up a very obvious--but very basic--concept (that I call the "Goldlilocks Effect".

Remember the childhood book, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"? (One bowl of porridge was too hot, one was too cold, the next just right?)

When looking at a wedding reception, I would argue that the cocktail hour room is just as important--if not more important--than the room where a bride/groom choose to have their ceremony and reception.

Why? As I've said before, the cocktail hour really sets the tone for the rest of the evening. If your guests have an amazing time at cocktail hour, they are likely to continue the fun during the reception. If cocktail hour, on the other hand, is stressful and crowded, your guests may take that mood with them into the next part of the evening.

It's really crucial to choose a room (or rooms, if there will be more than one) that helps underline the feeling you want to convey for the night (or day). For example, I went to a beautiful wedding in New Jersey at an historic mansion. Cocktail hour was in several different, adjacent rooms throughout the mansion. While the use of a multitude of rooms could have felt labarynth-esque (see below), it really worked in this setting. Why? The rooms were easy to access and walk to and from, and the wedding really highlighted the feel of an historic country home, by allowing guests to wander and enjoy the classic decor--and somehow, feel as if they were living in that beautiful mansion for at least the evening.

Sometimes, though, using many rooms ends up working against a bride/groom -- IF the rooms are not well-laid out. TallGuy and I attended an extremely lavish (in my opinion, overdone) wedding at a very glitzy hotel in Manhattan. Cocktail hour was held in several different rooms. Each room was tiny and narrow (which led to crowding since it was a large affair), and it was difficult to find friends and family (whereas at the New Jersey wedding, the rooms were much more interconnected and spacious).

My point is that in searching for a venue, one really has to take into account the Goldilocks Effect - a room may be too large. It may be too small. It has to be JUST RIGHT. Whether on a budget or not, you are spending way too much money to settle for anything less.

When thinking about a cocktail room, try and have a good, accurate estimate in your head as to how many people you can expect to attend. If anything, overestimate the number, so you can figure out how you can prevent any sort of crowding. If worst comes to worst, and the room feels a little empty, that's OK. At least you avoid the throwing of the elbows.

If you use multiple rooms, walk through them and see if they "make sense". Do they evoke the feel of what you want for your big day? Or do they feel maze- like and not easy to navigate?

These ideas may seem obvious. They are. But when choosing a venue, it becomes extremely overwhelming (After having visited only 3 places, I was completely exhausted!) Doing a "trial run" to get the feel of what you want (walking through the rooms, figuring out numbers, and thinking about how the room will be set up/arranged) will help you form a blueprint of what is important to you.

As you go and search for the "perfect" venue, keep that mental blueprint with you. You WILL eventually find a spot that is "just right" -- but it takes some searching.

As for cocktail hour, the best thing to remember is that it does "set the tone". I'll continue on with my thoughts about cocktail hour, and how you can maximize enjoyment and comfort for your guests, in my next post.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

COCKTAIL HOUR: NOT A CAGE FIGHT (PART I)

I was thinking about cocktail hour, and how important of an event it is when a bride/groom choose to have a "full scale" wedding reception (i.e. ceremony, cocktail hour, reception).

To me, cocktail hour is that time when guests need to "re-fuel". After a ceremony--even if it's short--the first thing guests want to do is make a beeline for one of two places: the bathroom or the food.

Therefore, making hors d'oeuvres accessible -- no matter how many guests you have -- is of utmost importance (probably more important than how good the food actually IS).

Surely, no one wants to gobble down anything that's inedible.


But the worst thing about a cocktail hour, at least that I've experienced, is the fact that you end up waiting on a long line -- it's not really about the quality of the food, surprisingly.
(If the food is amazing, well, that's a bonus--but if I can't even GET TO THE FOOD--that's a problem).

Serving stations are great, so long as there are quite a few of them, and they are spread out throughout the room where you have cocktail hour. Same with having waiters milling about.

I've been to many large weddings where there are literally lines 10-15 people long, elbows are thrown, and guests cut in front of you like it's a totally acceptable practice.

TallGuy and I were at a wedding a few months ago, and this obnoxious lady decided it was cool to cut in front of several of us waiting--and she loudly announced she was going to do it.

I strongly believe this should never happen at a cocktail hour. No matter how large the number of guests, a bride/groom should make sure food (and drink) is plentiful -- and spread out in many locations.

At our wedding, TallGuy and I were surprised that the cocktail hour room was pretty EMPTY -- most of our guests were on the balcony adjacent to the actual room. We found that having a indoor/outdoor combination was great, as it spread people out.

If your venue allows the use of an adjacent outdoor patio or balcony, or several small rooms, I would highly recommend that as a way to make sure your guests are comfortable--and eating.

In the next series of posts, I'll talk about the cocktail hour---to me, one of the most crucial parts of the wedding event, as it will set the tone for the rest of the evening (for those of you having only a cocktail hour, fear not..... the tips will still apply!)

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NEEDING SOME INSPIRATION...THE WEDDING FAIRY RETURNS (WITH A REQUEST :)

Hello my lovely readers. I hope you all have been well. So sorry for the long pause in my writings, but I've been trying to think about what subject or topic to tackle next.

And I keep trying, and trying, and trying! I am having The Wedding Fairy version of writer's block.

I need some inspiration to get me started, and I think the best place to get it is from the people who know the most about the planning process--and the ups and downs that go along with it.

My request from you guys? I'd love your thoughts and observations from a wedding you recently attended (something you absolutely adored or completely hated), photos of an amazing (or atrocious) wedding cake or bridesmaid's dress, stories, rants...basically ANYTHING that you think will inspire conversation and debate.

I'd love to pull you guys into my writing process, and though I certainly don't like having writers block, it IS a nice way to get inspired AND get you all involved.

Thanks in advance - I can't wait to read the dirty details that you have to share, and see any amazing (or horrid) photos that you can send my way! Your ideas will certainly inspire me to begin a discussion based on your thoughts and feedback.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

TAKING THE TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES (NOT THE LITERAL ONES): REFLECTIONS ON MY WEDDING PLANNING (PART II)

One of the other things about planning a wedding that I want readers to keep in mind is three little words:

MANAGE. YOUR. EXPECTATIONS.

Unfortunately, there are TONS of wedding magazines, websites, and blogs out there which present titillating stories about Ashley Simpson's "fairy-tale" wedding (an Alice in Wonderland theme! Crystal chandeliers all over the place!) or the fascinating details about the latest wedding of the celebrity du jour.

During my planning, I was aware of all of the fascinating tidbits, and sure, I read about them too. (In Style Wedding magazine was actually one of my favorite guilty pleasures).

The wedding industry doesn't even have to focus on CELEBRITY weddings to make many brides-to-be extremely self-aware during the planning process. WE (Women's Entertainment Network) has "Platinum Weddings", which is a TV show featuring couples spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flowers, photography, and everything in between.

While it's fun to read about the beautiful Sylvia Weinstock cake a celebrity bride had shipped across country, or the ridiculously huge platinum wedding band purchased by a doting groom, it's important to remember the element of the ridiculousness about these stories, articles, and TV shows--and the fact that you don't need a large budget to have a beautiful wedding. If you remember that, then it will be much easier to actually enjoy the process. If you enjoy yourself, your attitude will rub off on others.

This may seem like an obvious point ("Yes I KNOW I don't have Ashley Simpson's wedding budget!"), but because so much happens during the planning process, it's easy to lose oneself when immersed in it--and forget how silly the wedding industry can be. This industry has a way of building up expectations -- and trying to get you to go over your intended budget (believe me, EVERYTHING was a battle in terms of my working within the parameters that I had). When I read In Style and became so disappointed that the favors I loved (which some celeb had at her wedding) were way too expensive for me, I realized that I had to be realistic about what I could--and couldn't--have.

My advice is to read these magazines, or watch these shows, for fun, but take them all with a grain of salt.

Some of you may wonder why any of this is important-especially as pertains to my blog, which is really about avoiding being "that bride".

Not taking too much stock in "what's hot" or the latest "must have" - like a Vera Wang couture dress- is a difficult but important thing to be able to do. The most critical thing during the planning process is to be a happy and healthy bride--a key element in behaving and acting with dignity and elegance through the planning process (and on the big day itself).

Being happy and having a good attitude while planning will make everyone around you happy, too. Constantly stressing (even internally) about what you cannot have (which, believe me, 99.9% of the population couldn't have either) does not a happy bride make.

This is in NO WAY to suggest any brides-to-be in cyberland are materialistic or celebrity-obsessed. But, having gone through the experience, and realizing that it's easy to get "sucked in" to all of the glam details in Town and Country Magazine, I figured I'd pass this piece of advice along to others.

I know that it is possible to have a beautiful wedding within certain financial parameters -- and knowing that is half the battle to enjoying the planning process - and taking the time to stop and smell the roses as you do.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 18, 2008

TAKING THE TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES (NOT THE LITERAL ONES)... REFLECTIONS ON MY WEDDING PLANNING (PART I)

One of the things I commented on in a recent post was how FAST the actual wedding went. It was all a beautiful blur, and while TallGuy and I had an amazing time, we really couldn't believe it was over, just as soon as we felt it began.

What DID feel like a long process--and which I really savored and enjoyed--was the wedding planning. Yes, there were some tears and frustrations along the way (as some of you may have read about with my being "favor-less" two days before the wedding!) But because I had a good deal of time to work on the dirty details (TallGuy proposed in February '07, and we were married in May '08), I was really able to think through every decision, and sit back and take it all in.

Even if you don't have that much time to plan, I think it's really important to have someone to go through the planning stages with--and I'm not talking about your husband-to-be or wedding planner. Sure, your fiance will be with you every step of the way, but let's be honest: most grooms-to-be will be happy if YOU are happy with the decisions, but won't necessarily be fretting about the flower arrangements or the color scheme. Some will--for sure--but did I fault TallGuy for not coming to the florist appointments or perusing a stack of magazines for cake styles? No way.

I couldn't afford a wedding planner, and frankly, I think having a confidante who is someone you've known a long time is the way to go (Not to say that I discount having a wedding planner, by any means, but I would think sharing the experience with someone you are close with--while simultaneously working with a planner, would be the ideal route).

I have talked before about not overwhelming friends and family with the details and endless lists of things on your wedding agenda -- but if you have ONE person that you know, trust, and love, and that person (you truly believe) is genuinely happy to throw themselves into the planning process with you, or even just act as a sounding board, then you will not only have someone as your "right hand woman" (or man -- I am completely gender neutral here!), but you will also avoid being the self-absorbed bride that I have encountered. Talking to 1 person A LOT about your wedding(as long as you know that they are cool with it), is definitely better than talking to MANY people about your wedding. Even if you think you aren't doing it a lot, it's good to cut back and be careful about what you tell to whom.

My mother was really my "right hand woman" through my planning - and we had such an amazing time bonding. My mother and I have always had a very close relationship, but planning the wedding, despite the tears and the freak outs (like our contact at the florist getting fired 2/3 of the way through our planning! Yikes!), was our special time, and our connection that no one else shared.

It was really neat to be able to sit down with my mom and show her swatches for the bridesmaid dresses, and go with her to appointments. My mom and I have very similar tastes, which was also great, and she was able to help me organize myself and my thoughts, and work with me to convey to the florists, to the band, and to anyone else involved what, exactly, I was looking for. But even if we didn't? It still would have worked, because I trust her opinion, as she trusts mine.

As a career gal in Manhattan, I KNOW that I could not have done the wedding planning alone. And if I wanted TallGuy to become more involved, I'm sure he would have been happy to do it. But to have a "buddy" or a confidante was not only helpful in terms of the actual results, but helped me maintain my sanity through the process. And the funny thing was - I really came to enjoy every single minute of it. If I were doing it alone, then I'm not sure I could say the same thing (I probably would have been too overwhelmed to really savor every day of planning).

Not everyone will have a mother who they want to involve - and that's totally fair (circumstances are different for everyone). But a close friend, or a sister (or brother), or a favorite cousin.... anyone who you think would be interested in helping you that you could go through the experience with is a great person to ask.
And if you don't? Then DO get your fiance more involved.

Wedding planning should not be a burden -- the joy of planning should far outweigh the stress and the down days. As TallGuy and I surveyed the empty chairs and the last few uneaten cupcakes that night at 2 AM, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed by how fast everything went. But then I thought about the planning process, and how positive a process it was--and even if my wedding went by quickly, it was still an amazing day/night, as the planning process was an amazing year long journey. Did I have an unlimited budget? No way. Did everything go to plan? No. But working with someone--and bonding with someone special to me--really made the process so special.

The bottom line I can give you all - ENJOY YOURSELVES, AND YOUR TIME PLANNING. If you can find a confidante/friend to work with and talk to along the way? Even better.

Stay tuned!

WHAT DO WE THINK? BETTER?

In an effort to make sure you guys keep reading (and sans headaches), I have changed the template of the blog (obviously :)

Let me know if this is more readable.... I really like pink, and thought it may be easier on the eyes.....

Next post will be about the wedding planning process in general .... I learned so much as I planned my wedding--one thing that I really want to touch upon is how you can really foster and solidify relationships during the planning stages.

I appreciate all of your feedback.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS - QUESTION FOR MY AWESOME READERS

I just received a comment, that I'd like to share with you:

"In the spirit of constructive criticism - and this is going to sound like a weird one... I LOVE your blog, but the black background with the white writing gives me such a headache that I can't read more than one post at a time... Might you consider changing to white?"

Not weird at all. Really, really helpful in fact. I appreciate the feedback.

Do others feel this way too? I'd be happy to change the template to make it easier for you guys to read - I always thought that white was actually more difficult to read, but maybe not.

What do other people think? Thoughts or comments?

Thanks, Anon, for bringing this up to me -- whether or not I get other responses, I will seriously consider changing the template - I don't want to give my readers headaches!!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS: A READER VENTS, AND THE WEDDING FAIRY RESPONDS

For every 25 sweet and thoughtful comment, constructive critique, or polite yet firm statement disagreeing with my posts, I get at least 1 or 2 really angry ones - mostly directed at the subject matter of my blog.

Here's the latest:

"This is for the original NUtcracker post. First time on this page... for the record I am paying for my own wedding and have no planner/coordinator. DIY Bride here. If for one damn day I want to be the center of attention.. so be it. A Grand entrance? Of course! A sappy slideshow? Check! (Only 6 1/2 minutes I promise) Sweetheart table? Oh yeah baby!! I will indeed be a gracious host and make sure everyone is enjoying the Filet Mignon I paid for. But hell yeah I'll be front and center that day... as I would expect my best girlfriend or sister to do on THEIR big day. I'm only planning on doing it once and I'm doing it big. My future husband who is my best friend will be making sure everyone's glass from the OPEN BAR is filled and everyone will get a good nights sleep in the hotels WE paid for. Not every bride provides things like this (and they damn well don't have to) Im lucky.. but you know what? They deserve their day too and if they want a 20 minute slideshow... DEAL... enjoy your food and go home and complain to everyone about what miserable couples we all are. Ciao!!"


Yikes.

I'm not really sure why people get so worked up about what I write - I have always maintained that my opinions are opinions ONLY, and I'm providing another way to look at the subject matter of weddings. I think this reader (probably not for long, given the fact that it doesn't sound like she likes what I have to say very much :-) is missing the point of my posts. As it is her "first time on this page", I tend (hope) to think that these thoughts are reactionary - if the reader gave my blog a chance, perhaps she could find something useful among all the pages.

I have NEVER claimed that brides-to-be who have a slide show or grand entrance are one-half of a "miserable" couple. Please. When I started this blog, I was actually a GUEST looking from the outside in -- NOT a bride or bride-to-be. I figured that, as a guest, I could very well provide a detached, observer's viewpoint from which to write about the wedding planning process.

As a guest, YES, I don't love slideshows - I find them boring. Sorry. My opinion, and my opinion only. Am I calling brides who have them rude, obnoxious, self-centered, or self-absorbed? No. I'm just letting people know that all of their guests may not enjoy them very much. As a bride during the planning process, I wanted to know what guests did and didn't enjoy - my feeling is that the wedding is about a celebration with family and friends, and it shouldn't be a spotlight for the bride and groom at the expense of the guest's enjoyment. Again, just my opinion. On the flip side, do I think that I'm some sort of "guestzilla" or horrible human being for HAVING these opinions? No freaking way.

Weddings are very personal things - if you want to have a 6 1/2 minute slide show? Good for you! I would hope that there are brides (or brides to be) out there who have had (or will have) slide shows or grand entrances -- and aren't responding to my opinions in such a reactive manner.

The whole point of this blog is to provide a fresh perspective. If you don't like what you read? I hope you will continue reading. If you find my opinions repulsive and absolutely inappropriate that you have to angrily respond to a post that is only meant to help readers -- and not send such a diatribe? Then stop reading, go plan your wedding, and forget about The Wedding Fairy, and what she has to say.

The reason I wanted to address this comment, is that I would hate for this to be up after the "Nutcracker" page and other readers think, just skimming the comment alone, that, as the Wedding Fairy, I am intimating these couples are "miserable" - this (obviously) is not the case.

To all of my readers who have provided interesting thoughts, words of encouragement, constructive criticism or helpful counter-opinions, I thank you. Please keep your ideas coming. I have no problem with counter-arguments or heated discussions about the subject matter of my posts. That, I believe, is helpful and provokes further commentary.

I will be back soon with more on the wedding, and certain topics/subjects which I found interesting as a result of my own experiences. Thank you guys, for all of the support. It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 3 years since I've been doing this.... it's gratifying to know that all of the positive responses and support greatly outnumbers statements like the above.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 27, 2008

AN ADDENDUM TO MY LAST POST (THE NAME OF MY BAND)

Some of you have already contacted me regarding the name of the band we used for our wedding. I have provided the info below, but want to make sure you all know I have absolutely NO affiliation/connection with this band (no one in the band is a friend or a family member, for example!), so you can be assured this is an honest assessment/review:

The name of the band is: "The Touch" -- they are not a "big band" -- which I love about them - it's about 5 or 6 guys who do what they do EXTREMELY well. To me, they feel very "unwedding-band" like, and just play really cool, fun music.

You can check out their site at www.thetouchpage.com, and you can reach their manager, Barbara, at omnipop entertainment -- www.omnipopbands.com, 516.937.6011. She's extremely sweet and helpful, and will bend over backwards to accommodate even the most last-minute request.

My brother-in-law mentioned to me that he saw The Touch play a wedding at a friend of theirs the week before ours, and played Radiohead's "High and Dry". Radiohead is one of TallGuy's most favorite bands, so I asked Barbara a few days before the wedding if they could play that song, since it was one of his favorites.

Not only did they play the song extremely well, but the band leader did a little "shout out" before playing it - i.e. that it was a favorite of the groom's and I had requested it -- it was so amazing and TallGuy was so blown away.

Good luck to all with the band shopping!

COMMENTS ON A (MY) WEDDING: WHAT I LEARNED AND HOW I LEARNED IT (PART II)

Now that I've had some time to process what seemed like a dizzying, whirlwind few weeks (wedding and honeymoon), I've been able to think about what I want to write about and what thoughts/nuggets of advice I wish to convey.

Just for fun, I thought I'd write a post about things that surprised me on the wedding day and evening, now having gone through the process. I think this may help brides-to-be think about wedding planning in a different light, because these are certainly a few things I wasn't expecting to have happen....

1. CONGA LINES = SO NOT CHEESY.

So, if anyone told me I'd have a conga line at my wedding, I would have told them they were insane. I had this grand vision of this really elegant event in my head (much like a beautiful, intimate dinner party a la Pride and Prejudice - but with dancing to a great band), and ridiculous gimmicks like the chicken dance, the electric slide, and the conga line, were, well things I was REALLY trying to avoid.

At one point, the fantastic, fantastic band we used (anyone in NYC let me know, I can give you their name -- reasonable for a band, and so much fun - everyone was up on their feet all night) began to play one of my FAVORITE WEDDING BAND SONGS EVER -- "Jump in the Line" (Harry Belafonte).

You all know the song (I'm hoping)? It's the one from "Beetlejuice" when the dinner guests are all possessed and dancing at the dining room table ("Jump in the Line! Rock your body in time! OK I believe you!" "Shake Shake Shake Senora! Shake your body line!")? In any case, it's a wonderful, "get up and dance" kind of song which I had asked the band to play.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one of our guests started a conga line -- right there on the dance floor -- and EVERYONE dancing joined!!! I think there were about 30 people in a line on the floor at one point, and I'm telling you, it was one of the highlights of the night for me (I also got to lead the line, which was pretty cool :-))

To sum it up--things as spontaneous as a conga line may occur, which you may have thought were totally cheesy and totally weird beforehand---but at a wedding, when that much joy, and that much happiness is in the room? It totally works. If people start playing coke and 7 up..... you will know your guests are having fun!

2. "OH, SURE, I'LL EAT ALL NIGHT - STOP WORRYING!"

I've heard time and time again that brides don't have a chance to eat during their weddings. I was so not into believing that cliche, and completely fooled myself into thinking that I would chow down along with everyone else.

I don't know what it was- the nerves, the excitement, the complete whirlwind, or just lack of time because we were chatting up people... but I really struggled to sit down and eat all of the wonderful food our club provided. At one point, the captain (who was coordinating the event) gently suggested that TallGuy and I come eat our dinner since we were making the rounds greeting everyone.

We finally did -and I had some steak - but that was about it. It's not like I was trying NOT to eat -- it just was really difficult to see people and be a gracious host while downing a ton of food. My suggestion - try and get through cocktail hour if you can, and make sure to SIT your butt down - at least for 20 minutes or so - during dinner to eat. And have dessert!!!!

3. I'LL TOTALLY HAVE TIME TO TAKE EVERYTHING IN. TRUST ME! I WON'T FORGET A DETAIL OF MY WEDDING.

We had a huge beautiful flower arrangement in the cocktail room? The milk and freshly baked cookies were served by waiters to people on the dance floor? Um really? The wedding was SUCH an amazing night, but there are SO MANY things that I am just learning happened - through photographs of the room set up for the ceremony, through recollections of my friends, and a variety of other sources. Just take the time to sit back and enjoy everything that day/evening, but realize that it's almost impossible to take it all in at once -- you'll have photos and maybe video and friends and family to tell you about what happened that you may not have seen.

I find these impressions interesting, because I really thought I wouldn't be surprised after my wedding - but I was, on many levels. Remember to expect the unexpected as you plan - things are not always as they seem, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

COMMENTS ON A (MY) WEDDING - WHAT I LEARNED, AND HOW I LEARNED IT (PART I)

Thank so much for your sweet, thoughtful comments. I really appreciate it!

One comment from Mom2lo is a perfect segway into my first substantive post about my experiences:

"My goodness! That cake looks gorgeous and delicious! And are those cupcakes I see? Yum!!!"

Ahhh, the cupcakes. This was a game-time decision, and leads me to the first rule of thumb, which is comprised of three little words I think every bride needs to remember:

TRUST YOUR GUT.

The second three words? DON'T FREAK OUT.

Wedding favors were never high on my priority list. While it's a cute concept, I searched far and wide for months, and couldn't find anything that wasn't (a) cheesy or (b) ridicuously expensive. To me, spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on favors was not important (or realistic)- I'd rather put that $$ into my budget for the flowers, or the music, or the bridesmaids' dresses. Just a personal decision, but one that I felt strongly about.

We decided we would get our favors through a family friend in the restaurant business, who could put together a sampling of mini cookies, brownies, etc. in little bags. TallGuy and I ordered bags in bulk from a catalog we were given, and we thought we were on our way. TallGuy and I had designed a sticker label to put on the bags, and while at first I was against using a cheesy saying, I thought "Sweet Dreams" was to-the-point, and not too sappy.

A few days before the wedding, I thought everything was all set, but then there were complications with the bags that were ordered, and the alternatives (that we could buy in bulk) were not appealing. (Choosing favor bags may not seem like a big deal, but there are no crafts stores like Michaels in Manhattan, and our time/options was limited). Based on what the bags looked like, I rather would have had no favors at all than what was available. The mini cookies/brownies concept as well wasn't quite working out the way I thought it would.

Thursday night rolled around (the night before the rehearsal dinner), we were basically without favors, and time was running out. I kept thinking about creative, "quick fixes", and all I could think about was one word:

CUPCAKES.

There's a Crumbs bakery (which has some of Manhattan's best cupcakes, in my opinion) right down the street from my apartment. I love cupcakes and I go in there basically every week for a vanilla flavored with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles. Yum.

I almost did a cupcake wedding cake, but the place I had my wedding included the wedding cake, so I figured I'd go the traditional route without an extra cost for changing it up.

In any case, I turned to TallGuy and asked him, "So ...cupcake favors?" I then called some of the yummiest cupcake places in Manhattan (Crumbs, Magnolia Bakery, etc.) to find out prices and whether or not it were (a) affordable and most importantly (in my desperate state, I was willing to pay a bit more for peace of mind at this point) (b) doable 2 days before the wedding.

I was able to get through to Buttercup Bakery, and their price was the best of the bunch. They could do a large order at $1.25 per cupcake, so I ordered cupcakes in all pastel colors to match my decor, and made sure that some of them had rainbow sprinkles (my preference) and some without (TallGuy's preference). Although $1.25 was more than I wanted to spend per favor, I was willing to sacrifice price at that point - I figured that it was a good enough idea that, in the long run, I'd kick myself for the few extra dollars if I ended up with favors that guests didn't like or enjoy. Plus, I knew that not everyone at the wedding would have a cupcake, so I ordered fewer than the number of guests that were attending. It was a good call, because there were definitely a few left over.

While Buttercup couldn't deliver the cupcakes, my parents were awesome and volunteered to pick them up the morning of the wedding and bring them to the location. I was worried a bit about them staying fresh throughout the day/evening, but when they were put out on trays at 12 AM for people, they tasted delicious, and were a hit. In fact, our event location saved the few that were left from the wedding, and put them out for the brunch - they still tasted good then!

TallGuy didn't think we'd need the "doggie bags", but that turned out to be the best part, since most people ended up taking theirs to go --both at the wedding and the brunch -- the sticker label, which had the "Sweet Dreams" phrase and featured a cartoon-y bride and groom -- added to the whimsy, and I thought the whole thing ended up working out better than I could have anticipated.

The moral of this story? (a) Do what you think is best, and run with it. (b) Don't freak out in the process, because it's going to get you NOWHERE. Was I a bit panicked that I was favor-less 2 days (actually less) before the wedding? Were there some tears? Absolutely (but only in front of TallGuy!). But I knew that if I had to stick to my plan-B gameplan and just figure it out. I was proud that I was able to put something to the table (literally) that guests seemed to enjoy, and no one was none the wiser for this last-minute decision.

To sum it up, there will ALWAYS be gaffes, snags, complications, and surprises during the planning process -- even up to the very last minute. But if you remember that every "problem" has a solution, and that the wedding will still be fantastic and amazing regardless, it will all work out. Go with what you think and what you know, and don't look back. Your guests will thank you for it (and maybe have some cupcakes too!)

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

COMMENTS ON A (MY) WEDDING - WHAT I LEARNED, AND HOW I LEARNED IT (AN INTRODUCTION)

Hello everyone! I hope you have all been well, and that each of you has had a wonderful and sunny beginning to your spring/summer season. I really appreciate the comments/posts from you guys, and your kind comments were so sweet and nice to come home to.

TallGuy and I are back from Italy, where we honeymooned for 2 weeks -- first in Venice, then in the Amalfi Coast. What an amazing time. We are jetlagged and tired, but still enjoying all of the memories that we have compiled in the past 2 weeks - both from the wedding and the trip.

Our wedding was May 17, 2008. And it was everything I could have ever dreamed it would be. The entire day (pre-wedding), and the actual ceremony and reception were exactly everything I wanted and hoped for - the day before (the night of the rehearsal dinner) was POURING RAIN - literally all day. I was worried that the day of the wedding would be the same - our wedding wasn't to be outside, but TallGuy and I did plan on doing photos at Grand Central Station, and there was a rooftop deck that could be used during the cocktail hour. Although rain wouldn't have made a huge logistical difference, I was hoping that it would at least be nice enough to take advantage of the outdoors. Was it ever! The day of the wedding - weather-wise - and everything else - was absolutely magical (at least to me). Saturday the 17th was a sunny, GORGEOUS day for photos and balmy enough for a partially outdoor cocktail hour, and all of our vendors turned out to be FANTASTIC.

Most importantly to me and TallGuy, all of our guests seemed to have so much fun. We wanted it to feel like an absolute party - more like a dinner party really - and I feel as if that goal was achieved.

Does that mean that everything went 100% to plan? Definitely not. In this series of posts, I'll certainly mention those elements, and how I learned from them.

While I am going to focus my attention in this series on my own wedding, I want everyone to know that I still identify with myself as The Wedding Fairy -- and my goal is ALWAYS to help people learn from my experiences. Please keep that in mind as you read my posts, look at my photos, and read about my thoughts. I want to share my ideas in order to help brides-to-be with their own planning--so if you have any questions, or comments, or want to do any general venting, please feel free. I love hearing from you, and having a dialogue with you guys is what makes this site interesting to me (and hopefully interesting to you all).

I know that I have a few comments/questions unrelated to this series to get to. And I promise I will get there.

For now, sit back and enjoy the show--the point is to entertain but also, of course, to help.

Here are a few photos from the wedding -- I still wish to remain identified as The Wedding Fairy (and hence remain anonymous, at least for now, on this blog), but I hope to post a few photos besides these "scenery shots" since a few of you have asked (I've posted on here of the back of me and TallGuy during the ceremony!)

Stay tuned!




























Sunday, May 11, 2008

LESS THAN A WEEK TO GO ....

Hey guys,

I'm really sorry I have been MIA the past few weeks. Besides dealing with the nitty gritty details for the wedding, I have been trying to wrap up all my deals at work, so I can go on our honeymoon worry-free.

I cannot believe that the wedding is actually here - I am SO excited.

Things have been falling into place, and I am just hoping that everyone has a lot of fun - I want it to feel like a total party, and if everyone enjoys themselves, then my ultimate goal has been fulfilled.

I want to let you, my readers, know, that I have not forsaken this blog. And although it may seem as if I don't take my own advice ("make time for other things besides your wedding"), I have been trying to exercise, keep up with my friends, and stay sane -- writing has always been my outlet, and I am very sad that I haven't been good about keeping up with it as much as I should have.

In a nutshell - I will be back - with a vengeance - after the wedding and honeymoon have come and gone - and I will DEFINITELY be posting photos, memories, etc. which will help tie in to my blog's theme -- hopefully I will not have been "that bride" - and I will share what went right, what didn't (I am really hoping there won't be many of those to share!), and what will help you plan your own affair.

I will try to write again before the big day -- and if not, I will try and check in from Italy (we will have TallGuy's Mac Air -- which was my wedding present to him :)

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 28, 2008

GOING POSTAL - SENDING OUT THE WEDDING INVITATIONS (PART IV)

I received a very interesting question from a reader that relates to FOOD at the wedding AND INVITATIONS!

What an awesome combo topic discussion! Thanks.

Here is the question:

"how do you about finding out if people eat kosher or are allergic to certain things? on the rsvp card??"

I have never been a big fan of putting food options on an RSVP card, unless the wedding is rather casual/informal. For formal and semi-formal events, the best bet is NOT to include this type of question. I think it leads to more questions than answers (some people may give "cryptic" responses ("I'm allergic." Um...allergic to what?!?), you may not be able to read the handwriting of others (which is why I advocate having numbers on the back of reply cards in the first place), and you basically have to end up asking the same question in a different medium!)

The best bet is to find a "word of mouth" method of communication -- If your wedding is small (even up to 150 guests, I would think), then try and find out from your parents if any of their friends have allergies or kosher requirements (and with your grooms family as well). If your family members or friends have a dire allergy or require a kosher meal (or a meal for a different dietary reason), then most likely, they will say something to you directly about it.

If they don't? Make sure your caterer has a kosher-meal option, a vegetarian option, and a way to ensure that someone with a peanut allergy, for example, can have the food sans-peanuts or peanut-related oils or related ingredients. I use peanuts as an example because this is a fairly common (but can be unfortunately severe) allergy. If an allergy is not as common, most likely your guests will be coming to you.

If you are still worried, then putting a general note on your wedding website is a good way to go:("We're so excited you are coming. If there are any questions you need answered, or any help you need with arranging your stay in XXXXX, please contact us at XXXX"). (Of course, you need to spread the word about your wedding website, but you can put that on your save the date, if you want, or tell your respective families to communicate that to the guests).

I don't think you have to make specific reference to allergies/dietary issues on your website, but if you feel like it's a possibility because you are having a large crowd, then you shouldn't feel uncomfortable.

Having said that, if you make it clear that people can contact you---and they choose not to---then you aren't being a "bad bride" if you believe you have exhausted all your avenues by trying to reach out to your guests in advance of the event.

I hope this helps. Thank you again for bringing up an interesting question that ties into both of the last two topics on my blog!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

GOING POSTAL - SENDING OUT THE WEDDING INVITATIONS (PART III)

Thanks for all of the feedback, guys. It's nice to hear your opinions, and I'm glad some of these ideas make sense and are useful to your own planning!

I thought I'd take the time to discuss another tricky element of sending out invitations -- what to do about A and B list guests.

The "B" list is *definitely* a controversial issue - some people simply don't believe in it; others think that by necessity, it HAS to play some role in the process of putting together a realistic guest list. As we all know, the "B" list is the list of guests who you'd like to invite, but due to budget/numbers, etc. -- you can't really invite without others first declining your invitation.

The most important thing to remember with the "B" list is this: Anyone on it SHOULD NEVER KNOW that they are a part of it!!! Every guest should always feel as if they were to be included from the get-go--and never an afterthought.

If you have a "B" list, make sure that you send out invitations (with the response cards) earlier than normal (Even 10 weeks ahead of time). Why? That way, if you get some "NOs", you can then invite people on your "B" list, and they'll be none the wiser.

Another idea is to order a few reply cards that DON'T have "Kindly respond by XXXX date". If you have blank ones that simply say "We request the favour of your response" (or something like that), then it doesn't look obvious if you send B list invitations out, since it's not as if people will realize that your cut-off date was April 1, and you sent their invitation on March 25.

TallGuy and I really don't have a "B" list, so none of this applies to us -- but when we were thinking about our guest list--and how we were going to manage it--we definitely bandied these ideas about.

One writer (I don't remember the source, but if I find it, I will definitely post it!) said that a guest would rather not be invited at all than to KNOW she were on the "B" list.

I couldn't agree more.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

GOING POSTAL - SENDING OUT THE WEDDING INVITATIONS (PART II)

Thanks to all who responded with their own experience/thoughts on the ridiculousness of having to calculate, and re-calculate (and re-calculate...ok you get the point) the amount of postage before sending the wedding invitations -- just to be safe.

There are other issues with sending out invitations that can come up, and I think it's important to address them--why? They definitely affect your relationships with guests, and even the most minute issue can end up being a problem later on, if it isn't handled properly.

This is probably a no-brainer, but it's important to remember to do it - if your reply cards don't have "blanks" to fill in a guest's name (i.e., M. ______ and M. _________ will/will not attend) -- and the reply card is simply a clean slate -- make sure to have a system in place so you know who is actually RSVPing.

Oftentimes, guests will send a reply card, and the handwriting will not be legible - so how do you know who it is?

Have a system with your reply cards -- on the back, bottom left hand corner, use a gold pen (or another light color) to write a "code" (I.e., a letter or number that corresponds with that particular guest). Make sure you have that "code" written down next to your guest list, so you know what it all means.

That way, if you can't read the card, you will know that "S2" means your Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Fred.

You probably wonder why I allude to "S2" -- I happen to think that using consecutive numbering could end up offending guests who notice that teeny tiny little number at the back fo the reply card.

Most guests probably don't. But I would hate for a guest to think that she were the "152nd" person on the list.

Therefore, have a system in place where you don't use consecutive numbers. For your fiance's parents' list, perhaps use the first initial of their last name, with a number following (for example, "L1, L2, L3"), and perhaps for your list, use capital letters ("A, B, C").

Whatever system you use, make sure you (a) write it down in 2 or 3 places so you know what "S2" means when you actually get the reply card back and (b) your guests don't know what the numbers/letters mean. (S2 is a lot more cryptic than 110).

Again, this is something that most guests will never focus on -- but it's always important to play it on the safe side (no one wants to think they were almost on a "B" list, or god forbid, are on the "B" list!)

Stay tuned for more to come on invitations!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

GOING POSTAL - SENDING OUT THE WEDDING INVITATIONS

I'm taking a break from food issues for now, as I wanted to make a point about invitations, since this is a huge part of the planning process.

So we've FINALLY sent out the invitations. Yay!

Talk about DRAMA, though! We bought the loveliest invitations, and then the best-laid plans were almost way-laid by....postage.

I'll post a photograph of the invitations this week. They are (in my opinion--and TallGuy's too!) absolutely beautiful -- very traditional, but also a bit unique (instead of gold beveled edges, we used a lovely copper). We ordered them through Michael C. Fina, from a company called Grosvenor, which is located in England (apparently some of their invitations will be featured in Martha Stewart Weddings in April).

(http://www.grosvenorstationerycompany.com)

While TallGuy and I were certainly aware of the cost as relates to the actual invitations, envelopes, and reply cards that we ordered, the one thing which I wasn't really thinking about was: POSTAGE.

Such an easy thing, right?

Well, we used a very thick card stock - which is beautiful and very elegant - but it ended up making the price of the invitations higher than it would have been---AND ended up creating a lot of drama before we sent them out.

My mom and I had the invitations weighed at 4 separate post offices (!!), and the first 3 times, they told us that the cost would be 1.14 (which would allow us to put on 3, lavender heart stamps for 41 cents each)

THEN, the 4th time we went, the post office said that, if the person processing the envelope believed it wasn't "Bendable", then it would be treated not as a large envelope, but as first class mail, or 1.47 per invitation!!!

The kicker? IT WOULD BE UP TO WHOMEVER WAS PROCESSING THE INVITATION TO MAKE THAT CALL. THEY COULD NOT PROMISE WHETHER THE ENVELOPE WOULD BE TREATED AS 1.14 OR A 1.47 OF POSTAGE!

While a supervisor at 2 different locations said that most likely the invitation would be sent out with no problem (with 3 41 cent stamps), we knew we couldn't take any chances.

MOST LIKELY??

I COULD NOT believe that there was no objective standard that the United States Post Office had to determine postage.

So this would not have affected guests in the short-term (they would have been sent back to us, obviously), in the long-term, things would have gotten pretty complicated. We would have had to basically start all over (in terms of envelopes, calligraphy, etc.), since we couldn't obviously send them out with the "return to sender" stamps on them.

In addition, we also had to re-weigh the reply envelope -- while a very small envelope, I began to get nervous that because of the heavy card stock, the postage would be more than 41 cents. THAT would have been embarrassing, if we hadn't put on enough postage for guests to send back their RSVPs. Fortunately, 2 different postal workers told me that they were *definitely* less than 41 cents. I will not believe that until we get back the reply cards from everyone, but here's hoping!!!

In a nutshell, make sure, when you order your invitations, that you know how much postage you are going to need-both for the invite and reply card.

I had bought these amazing Audrey Hepburn vintage 37 cent stamps on ebay, which cost me an arm and a leg. But because they were 37 cent stamps and larger than the heart stamps, I ended up not using them -- I had thought I only would have needed 2 to begin with -- and I would have needed 4 in the end. They just wouldn't have looked right, in the end.

It's extremely important to calculate correctly--go to the post office once, twice, three times if you have to. If I hadn't been so anal about it, I never would have had the 4th person tell me there was a *chance* they would be considered a higher postage envelope.

Ugh.

In the end, it all worked out - just as everything does. Had I been a bit more cognizant of this issue to begin with, though, I may have saved myself a lot of time, effort, and aggravation. Just a word to the wise...

Stay tuned!

PS-DON'T FORGET THAT POSTAGE WILL BE GOING UP SOMETIME SOON - I THINK MAY. THAT MEANS FOR YOUR REPLY CARDS TOO!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE TASTING - YOU GOT SERVED (PART III)

So now it's time to get into the wedding cake.

Wedding cakes can be absolutely beautiful and breathtaking -- but edible? That's a different story.

Take, for example, the beautiful cake that is pictured - I wish I could just break through this photo and take a bite of the cake - I'd be SO curious to try something that looks so amazingly constructed -- out of fondant.

I don't really get the allure of fondant, to be honest. Every time I have tried a cake made in this manner, it has been rubbery and tasteless to me. Sure, the cake *looks* amazing--with flowers that you'd *swear* were real (but are actually not!)--but the taste? Yuck.

We're doing buttercream frosting, which means that we probably won't have as glamorous of a cake. Buttercraem, to us, tastes a whole lot better -- and we think our guests will actually enjoy the wedding cake, too.

Another reason we went with buttercream was that we really didn't care about the preservation issue. A lot of brides and grooms are sentimental, and freeze wedding cake after their wedding. TallGuy and I aren't really into the idea (and my feeling is that you should only maintain traditions you actually believe in), so we think that buttercream is the way to go.


I think that the bottom line about wedding cakes is it's all about what you are looking for. Whichever way you choose, I don't think guests will be disappointed. If you go with fondant and achieve an amazingly well-thought out look for your cake, guests will marvel at what it looks like (and who knows--maybe it will taste good too). If you go with buttercream, your guests will no doubt think it tastes great. There's always the compromise position of going with a little of both -- and that, of course, works too.

So many ideas, so little time. I'll let you know what our wedding cake ends up looking like--and tasting like---after our wedding in May (we had our amazing tasting, but the wedding cake filling favors and the like were NOT available for sampling!)

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 10, 2008

THE TASTING -- YOU GOT SERVED (PART II)

To all my faithful readers- sorry it's been a while. I've been poring over pages of Bridal magazines and watching the Food Network (really) to try and come up with some culinary inspiration.

Although I love food, I'm not really a "foodie". Yes, I love wine - but despite my trip to Napa/Sonoma, neither TallGuy nor I is a "connoisseur".

In doing my research and going to numerous weddings AND my tasting, I came to realize that it *really* doesn't matter if your wedding food is "high end" or not - as long as people like it, I really don't think you can go wrong.

Take, for example, the choices TallGuy and I made for our appetizers. Now, we could have gone very frou-frou and done more exotic choices -- but we ended up deciding on mini hot-dogs and sliders as 2 of 8 of the appetizers.

Hot dogs and hamburgers. Hmmmm. Not *exactly* what you'd think of when you think an elegant New York City evening wedding. Right?

Actually, I think the mini hot dogs are PRECISELY what ANY wedding calls for -- at every wedding I've been to - from cocktail hour semi-formal to crazy ridiculous expensive black tie - the mini hot dogs are always a hit (not just with me and TallGuy, but with, well, everyone!)

We decided that sliders would also be a cool appetizer to bring into the mix. We certainly have other options (for vegetarians and others not so into these ideas), but we know a majority of our friends (and our parents' friends) will be very excited.

There are things that I'm introducing in terms of food/drink that may be off-the-beaten path, but I find that I'm not straying too far from what I know.

We decided that our signature drink would be a Kir Royale - why? I LOVE them. They taste yummy. They're a beautiful color pink, which is one of colors in my palette. And they're fun.

Most people think of Kir Royales as served during the holiday season - and that's precisely what I love the idea. It's a little different. A little unexpected. And certainly a fun alternative to a martini bar.

There are so many ways a bride can go to be "different" for her wedding-and food was certainly one area where I had thought I should try and go off the beaten path. But sometimes, popular favorites (mini hot dogs, a sushi bar, filet mignon) are popular for a reason - people love them! Therefore, don't be afraid to do what YOU like -- because I bet you that your guests will like it too.

My next post will concentrate on ideas that sound good on paper, but *may* in reality stray far from what is edible. I'm going to next tackle the wedding cake -- which is something that I think needs discussion. Why? Because most guests never really like/enjoy/devour the wedding cake. And I want to understand why-as a guest-and as a bride-to-be whose wedding is in 2 months!

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 11, 2008

"THE TASTING" -- YOU'VE GOT SERVED.... (PART I)

So here are some of the issues that I'm grappling with, based on the idea that your choices affect your guests--whether directly or indirectly.

**CALLING ALL VEGETARIANS**

As one poster rightly pointed out, vegetarian "options" are oftentimes afterthoughts--instead of yummy meals that the rest of us get. During my tasting, I am going to make sure that (a) vegetarian options are available AND (b) that they will actually TASTE GOOD - and not simply be a mish mash of veggies on a plate.

**KOSHER/OTHER DIETARY RESTRICTIONS? GET IT COVERED**

The last thing you want is a guest who cannot enjoy himself due to their religious or cultural practices. Sure, you don't have to have a kosher meal for everyone at your wedding, but it's definitely important to make sure your caterer or venue has that option available. Same thing with any other dietary restriction due to one's beliefs.

**ALLERGIES, ALLERGIES, ALLERGIES**

OK. So you aren't going to know whether certain of your guests will break out into hives if they are served seafood---or peanuts---or [insert food here]. However, if you DO know if a certain allergy that a good friend or family member may have, address it with the caterer at your tasting--or well before your tasting, if possible--to make sure that you can figure out a menu that makes sense, or an alternative for those particular individuals who need to eat something else. It is definitely your wedding, your day--- but it's always good to think about these issues before the big day....


So these concepts may seem like COMMON SENSE, but sometimes these issues slip through the cracks at or even before a tasting. Why? Because you're thinking of ten zillion other things, and during the tasting, there are other issues that you have to deal with (like the actual food you are trying!).

A good hostess not only keeps guests happy and entertained the day of the wedding, but makes sure that all goes to plan by dealing with issues beforehand.

Talk to your caterer about any and all concerns you have -- you're paying a hell of a lot for their services, so make sure to open your mouth and say what you need to stay. Your guest will thank you for it!

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 01, 2008

"THE TASTING" -- YOU'VE GOT SERVED....

So as I get psyched for my shower and bachelorette party, another exciting thing happening in the next few weeks is the tasting at the reception site.

I have no idea how it happened, but my wedding is something like 3 months and 2 weeks from today.

WHAT?!?! In addition to the festivities above, I also have the tasting to think about. So many great things, but there are so many choices to make in the last few months, it becomes overwhelming.

In my mind, the two most important aspects which can make (or break) a wedding? The music. And the food.

Thinking about it practically, I don't think that people leave a wedding with a bad taste in their mouth (figuratively) if food is just mediocre. If it's heinous? Or rancid? Then yeah. Definitely not a good thing.

But GREAT food? Or INVENTIVE food? THAT'S intriguing. And different. It's what I'm hoping to achieve -- I should say "we" - as TallGuy is included in all of this planning- but he just wants me to be happy -- so we sometimes turns into "I" :)

As far as keeping guests enthusiastic and content, a tasting can go a long way, as it's a great "practice run" for the big day-- and for the amount brides/grooms spend on reception sites -- they SHOULD have the ability to try the food before it is served on the wedding day.

This series of posts is going to delve into aspects of the menu - and how this can actually affect guests' happiness and comfort level.

Hard to believe? I'm already thinking ahead about my vegetarian friends/family, as well as those with peanut allergies (seriously).

The three-part series will look first at the basics of how your choices affect people, then I'll discuss whether "inventive" options will be beneficial -- or simply backfire -- and my conclusion will focus on what I think I'll actually be doing for my wedding (food-wise, that is), and how I made certain choices.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS: BACHELORETTE PARTIES AND OTHER "ADD ONS"



It's hard to believe, but my shower/bachelorette party are in less than a month.

Insane!

I JUST feel like I got engaged -- how is it possible that this is happening so quickly?!?!

Don't get me wrong -- I'm super psyched -- I just can't believe how time has flown.

As I look forward to my shower and bachelorette, I've been trying VERY hard to keep my friends in mind.

A long time ago, I talked about "add ons" -- and how it's not simply the wedding present that creates cost to friends/family invited to and attending the wedding and related activities.

It's the shower gift. The $100+ ladies plunk down on bachelorette "stuff" (drinks, dinner out, etc. etc.) Flights or train tickets for out of towners. Hotel stays.

The cost can become immeausrable, in some respect. And I understand it. I've been through it!

In terms of my shower/bachelorette weekend, I'm THRILLED that 90% of the friends I invited will be attending.

Many of these friends are from out of town, which is another complication, since NYC hotels cost at least $250-300 a night if you don't want to sleep in a rat-infested box.

Here is how I am trying to avoid being "THAT BRIDE"

1. TallGuy and I are going to stay at my parents' place the weekend of the shower/bachelorette -- and I have invited 3 of my friends (flying/traveling from out of town) to stay at my apartment (beds, air mattresses, or however it needs to happen). This will cut any hotel costs, which is a HUGE add-on -- at least in NYC.

2. I've made it very clear to my sister (who is planning the bachelorette party) that we need to cap the amount that dinner/drinks will cost. Although it's a NYC affair, we're trying to find places that are REASONABLE--relatively speaking.

3. I've asked my sister to not have the others pay for my dinner/drinks out -- even if she includes it on her tab, I told her I'd pay her back. I don't need people paying for me, as gracious as it is for people to try and do it. Plus -- I'm such a lightweight, one or two martinis will do me in -- and that's FINE BY ME. No need to have drink after drink after drink....although I plan on having a lot of fun, I know my limit!

These are some of the ideas I have so far in terms of how I can cut others' costs.

We'll see how the weekend goes, and what it actually ends up being in terms of dollars. I am gratified that so many of my friends are making the trip to celebrate--whether it be from Brooklyn or Atlanta---so I really hope that these ideas will help make people feel like they aren't paying for too many "add ons".

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

ADDRESSING ENVELOPES FOR YOUR INVITATIONS: THAT OLD "PLUS ONE" CONUNDRUM (PART III)

As I re-read many of my posts, I realize, once again, that there is absolutely no black or white when it comes to these issues. That's why I love writing this blog -- while I have opinions as The Wedding Fairy, based on my own experiences, I realize that many, many others out there have different ideas on the same subject.

No matter WHAT you end up doing in terms of the "plus one" issue, the bottom line is HOW YOU APPROACH the situation -- more so than WHAT DECISION YOU ACTUALLY MAKE in the first place.

With my friend who snubbed TallGuy, there were a number of things that made me angry. Was the fact that he wasn't invited to the wedding one of them? Sure. We had to rearrange our whole trip in order to be there. But it was ALSO about circumstance--and HOW SHE HANDLED the situation--not only the mere fact that I had to go to a wedding alone.

If I weren't led to believe TallGuy would be invited, I certainly wouldn't have cared as much. Regardless, if she had simply called me to apologize after the fact, it would have left a better taste in my mouth.

But an email meekly attempting to apologize - and rationalizing it by telling me WHY she couldn't invite him (because he didn't fit into one of the "categories" -- i.e. engaged/married or someone the couple knew well) -- that was the icing on the wedding cake for me.

I recognize that it may not be 100% YOUR choice as to whether to invite the "plus ones" -- and it may be dependent on your parents, too, if they are footing the bill.

However, it's the way you go about the situation -- and every situation is different. Treating your friends on a case-by-case basis, in my mind, is a more honest and thoughtful approach then lumping engaged/marrieds in one category and non-marrieds in another.

No matter what the end result, it's really the path you take to get there that is important. Your friends will thank you for it (even if they don't outwardly do it, I promise you they will think you are a very thoughtful and generous bride) :)

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 18, 2008

ADDRESSING ENVELOPES FOR YOUR INVITATIONS: THAT OLD "PLUS ONE" CONUNDRUM (PART II)



I had put up a poll regarding what you guys think has been the most stressful part of the planning process.

One of the categories up there is trying to figure out guest list issues - to me, this has been one of the most difficult tasks to deal with.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, depending on your experience) this has particularly been the case as relates to my colleagues at work.

What to do?

I have one good friend at my firm, but everyone in my department (about 15 people in a company of about 100) is very friendly, and it's difficult to know where to draw the line.

I decided to invite my good friend-colleague/her husband and my main boss/his wife as the work-related guests.

But what about my other colleagues who I see/talk to every day? And who ask me about the wedding all the time?

Unfortunately, there's not much I can do here. As I'm sure some of you have found, it's either doing the major cut-back with work people -- or inviting too many of them.

Since I'm all about the "PLUS ONE", I would also have to expect that inviting 10 people could inevitably lead to 20 additional folks at the wedding (presuming all were attending).


I think the key is scaling back how much I talk about the wedding at work, and who I choose to talk to ABOUT the wedding. I never share details unless someone asks me, and if colleagues bring up the wedding, I try to downplay and not get into too much discussion. I think that's really the fair way of going about things.

What about you guys? Do you find that inviting people/not inviting people from work becomes a difficult issue? Or do people have blanket rules about not inviting work colleagues?

Every experience is different - again, I have to stay true to what I believe about inviting friends WITH GUEST -- and how that will affect the overall number of people I can end up inviting....

Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ADDRESSING ENVELOPES FOR YOUR INVITATIONS: THAT OLD "PLUS ONE" CONUNDRUM

So you all may remember why, back in the early days of my posting, I started this blog in the first place.

For those of you who don't feel like doing back-reading, the gist is this: TallGuy and I had planned an exotic trip abroad. My then-good friend from work told me the weekend of her wedding would fall on one of the days we would be away. TallGuy and I re-arranged our trip plans to be able to attend her wedding, which meant losing the hotel we had really wanted. My then-good friend was really appreciative, and told me she was looking forward to our being at her wedding. Months pass, and I hear less and less of my then-good friend (who decided her planning was more important than anything else, including keeping up her friendships). I eventually get an invitation in the mail addressed to ME - with no mention of TallGuy OR "and Guest". A feeble e-mail followed 2 weeks later from my "ex" -- "apologizing" for not inviting TallGuy, and telling me that because we were not engaged or married, she and her then-fiance could not invite us, as they had to only invite others in this category.


OK - that wasn't really a gist. BUT, I had to give some background so we can have a good disussion of the "PLUS ONE" CONUNDRUM.

When TallGuy and I initially sat down to draft a guest list, one of the important things for us was to make sure that all of our friends--whether single, dating, engaged, or married--were invited with a guest.

This meant that our parents had to cut down their lists accordingly. We had a target number we wanted to reach, and our parents were understanding about the fact that our friends would come first, WITH guest.


I know that inviting people with guests is not always possible. Budget plays a major role.


However, how you TREAT your friends is really the key to ensuring that they won't be offended if they are not invited with a guest.


My "ex" friend didn't bother to tell me that TallGuy would not be invited--even though she intimated he would be after we re-arranged our trip for the wedding. And her lame attempt at excusing her actions, in an email no less, did nothing to ameliorate the situation.

The last straw? I never saw her at her wedding, which I decided to attend. She and her fiance never came by each table to say hello.

Pretty apalling.

I'll re-visit the PLUS ONE CONUNDRUM in another post - particularly as how it has related to my own wedding invitations.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

REVIEW: SAY "YES" TO THE DRESS (TLC)

Hi Everyone-

TallGuy and I had an opportunity to watch a marathon of episodes called "Say Yes to the Dress", a program on The Learning Channel (TLC).

Anyone seen this show? The series gives a "behind-the-scenes" view of Klenfeld's, the "superstore" of stores in Manhattan which carry upscale wedding gowns and related accessories. I think it came out a few months ago, but since I had an opportunity to watch so many of them, I thought it was time to make a comment.

Not only does TLC interview brides about what type of gown they are looking for, but it chronicles their experiences in the store -- AND provides the point-of-view and perspective of the salespeople at Klenfeld's who are working with that particular client.

What's interesting is that the show does more to make the STORE look bad than it does the BRIDES shopping in it.

Sure -- there were plenty of "entourages" and annoying wedding planners featured. I still don't understand how having 8 family/friends with a bride helps her make a decision. The wedding planner on the show basically took over the bride's appointment -- by the end of a marathon trying-on session, I don't think even the bride knew what she was looking for.

But "Say Yes to the Dress" is really a commentary on how big the bridal market really is -- and how important it is, particularly for this store, to "make the sale".

I certainly can understand that point of view. Stores like Klenfeld's, Saks, Bergdorf's, Mark Ingram, and others in Manhattan need to make sales in order to thrive.

What I picked up from the show, however, was the undertone of aggressiveness in terms of making sure a bride walked out buying something.

I went to Klenfeld's several months ago - and what was funny is that they were taping this show while I was in the store. I wasn't asked to be featured (thank goodness), but I still had a concern I'd be seen in the periphery looking at dresses on racks! (I wasn't - at least not that I saw!)

When I was at the store, I was shown several dresses, and the salesperson tried to convince me that one that I liked a lot (but not LOVED) was "the one" -- my mother and I were not at all sure, but we were encouraged to "go to lunch" and then come back and try it on again. We left and never went back.

I can't really explain it, but I really did feel that undertone of "buy buy buy" at the store which was sort of underlined on the show. People may think it's like that at every bridal salon, but I felt completely comfortable (and NOT pressured) at Bergdorf's -- which I had originally thought would give a lot of attitude if we didn't buy right off the bat. Instead, I went back twice to try on and think about the dress I loved -- and we ended up buying it -- without feeling an ounce of pressure -- or guilt about having to come back and think about it a few times.

I guess the bottom line of my "review" is that while it's important to focus on the behavior of brides, it's also important to see that there are intense pressures facing them--because this is such a huge market, with big $$$ attached.

Brides spend an upwards of thousands of dollars for this dream dress - to feel pressured outwardly or implicitly (if I were a bride watching the show, and THEN going to Kleinfeld's, I think I'd feel this way) - is unacceptable.

In the end, I'm sure "Say Yes to the Dress" will drum up big business for Kleinfeld's - but it raises a lot of interesting questions and issues for brides in search of "the dress" - at this store - and others.


Stay tuned!