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!