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!