Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Perfect Wedding

Imperfect wedding = perfect marriage.

Recently, I discovered that a local television channel plays Sex and the City reruns for approximately six hours every weekday. Not only is this fun because it provides background noise and lunchtime entertainment for a gal who works from home (it’s on right now), but also because it provides a myriad of engagement parties, bridal showers and weddings to watch. Seriously, over the past few days of watching, I’ve realized that people, and not just the main characters, are getting married or attending weddings all the time on that show.

Presuming that all you readers have, at some time or another, viewed at least a portion of an SATC episode (which I don’t feel incorrect in doing), it’s likely that you know that “Charlotte” had the perfect wedding to “Trey”, followed by a perfect divorce from “Trey” and, subsequently, an extremely non-perfect wedding to “Harry”.

One of my favorite all-time SATC quotes one Carrie delivered to Charlotte after her second wedding:

“Charlotte, you already have the perfect wedding, and a not-so-perfect marriage. 
Maybe a not-so-perfect wedding leads to a perfect marriage.”

Carrie, we agree.

All of HJ’s weddings are perfect – we work so hard that they cannot be anything but just that. However, stuff happens. It’s how a couple and their wedding planner deal with that “stuff” that matters.

Examples:
Problem:

Solution:
Flowers left too long in too cold of a refrigerator and are delivered semi-dead.

Wedding planner calls and has all new flowers delivered within the hour, bride loves brand-new arrangements!
Original location set aside for favors is no longer available because that day the district fire marshal identified it as a emergency pathway exit.
Wedding planner moves table to new location where all guests see favors; bride and groom don’t notice change until they leave reception, and love it!
Driver of guest transportation leaves door open and drains vehicle battery, leaving only one bus for guest transportation.
Wedding planner runs the operating bus on a route and makes it a competition between which guests can be the most entertaining to the driver – guests love it!
Photographers are suddenly required to show insurance documents to the hotel, despite being told that doing so was not required.
Wedding planner logs on to computer system remotely and retrieves documents, bride never knows because photographers don’t miss a minute of shooting!

See, bad stuff happens. And weddings, although perfect overall, are certainly not made of everything that is in itself perfect.

From all of this, we here at HJ hope to teach you that perfection is an overall emotion, and not a minute-by-minute, tiny event-by-tiny event, by-the-book thing. We encourage you to laugh at the little problems that arise and to understand that there is very little chance that your guests recognized that anything was amiss.

We also hope to teach you that the solution to each of these problems was US, which just might mean that you should give us a call.

More than anything, however, we hope to teach you that an imperfect wedding absolutely, definitely does not mean an imperfect marriage. We support Carrie’s statement because, in the case of the couples above, each is happy and more in-love than ever.

So go on, let yourself spill red wine on your wedding dress…Charlotte did and lived happily ever after.

But, if you really want to know my truly favorite quote, it’s: “When they do the Hora, just remember to keep your legs together. Ah, the HORROR!” 

Yes, this is the exact moment when Charlotte's
 wedding planner provides the best advice ever.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We're Just One Small Happy Family

Does your family tree have more branches
than you know how to handle?

Yesterday, at my first-ever baby naming ceremony (congrats, Baby June!), I met a couple who explained that this upcoming weekend they would be attending their fourth wedding reception.

Of course, I immediately sought more information.

It seems that both members of this particular couple had gigantic families, about 100 people each. When combined with friends and other must-be-invited individuals, the couple’s wedding guest list neared about 400 people.

Now, the largest wedding I’ve ever heard of had a 1,200 guest list. You read that right: 1,200. It occurred in the mid-90s in Amarillo, Texas. The bride numbered her wedding gifts to keep them straight when writing thank you notes. I know because I saw all of those numbers on the bottom or side of every dish, glass and trinket in her home.

Yet, even though it contains less than four digits, a 400-person wedding falls way outside the “normal” for D.C. weddings. In HJ’s experience, most wedding invite lists approximate 150 people.

It seems that, after creating their guest list, this couple did some thinking and had very difficult conversations between themselves and with their families. The result was that they had a wedding to which they invited only their immediate family members, which totaled about 30 guests.

But…it was made known that friends or family interested in throwing a reception were more than welcome to do so and were guaranteed to have the couple in attendance. In the end, they had one wedding ceremony and four receptions.

First, yes, they received gifts at every reception (of course I asked!); yes, every reception was in a different location (two in Texas, one in Washington D.C. and the one next week in Missouri); yes, every reception had a different theme, food and favor.

Sounds awesome, right?

Apparently, it is! And mainly, the couple stated, because EVERYONE was happy.

The couple explained that a 400-person wedding was just unfathomable to them. Therefore, they did the only thing they knew how – evaded the situation altogether. By only inviting immediate family – such as siblings, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles – they avoided:
  1. The need to explain why some family members or friends were invited and other were not;
  2. Why they drew the line on invites where they did (“No Aunt Edith wasn’t invited, but Aunt Jenny was because….well, we don’t know.”);
  3. Sending out multiple rounds of invitations;
  4. Scrimping and saving or putting themselves or their families into debt to pay for a large wedding;
  5. Planning a large wedding – a task in which they were not that interested.

All in all, the bride and groom still had their fabulous day, as well as three others!

Making the decision to have an immediate-family only wedding is not one that many couples engage in willingly or with much joy. Many times, couples feel obligated to have a large wedding and invite everyone, despite the strain it will put on their lives and wallets. Sometimes, though, it’s just the right decision.

In a similar situation, when determining if a family only wedding is the right route for you, consider:

How you will rationalize your decision. Even though it seems a no-brainer to you, others might not understand why you wouldn’t throw a big fete. Combined with the fact that talking about money isn’t always appropriate, this could make conversations about your wedding plans uncomfortable. Be prepared with a list of reasons why you decided what you did because, according to the couple I interviewed over bagels and kugel yesterday, you will be asked. (In fact, you might print that list and carry it with you).

How you will handle negative reactions. Although all of reasons for not having a large wedding listed above are more than reasonable, some family members might not respond to your decision as graciously as you’d like. Be sure that you and your future spouse can tolerate criticism, grumbling or downright disdain from upset would-be guests.

Whether you’re willing to travel to multiple receptions. I am obligated to reveal that the couple admitted they were looking forward to the end of their receptions. Because their receptions spanned a six month period, they constantly struggled to take time off work and not feel as though they were constantly away from home. If you’re not interested in all that travelling, don’t offer to do so.

How you might feel about your decision in five years. Will you be upset that you didn’t have a big wedding? Might you be sad that everyone wasn’t together at the same time? If so, perhaps a family only wedding isn’t right for you.

Overall, I encourage you to make the decision that is right for you and your future spouse. Don’t think about what your parents, friends or extended family members might say or do. The important thing is for you two to start your marriage off on the right foot, even if that foot might only be viewed by a small group of people at any given time.

This couple managed to tie the knot AND make everyone happy - no small feat in our book. Plus, the bride was able to wear her wedding dress more than once, of which I’m completely jealous. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving the Useful: Bridesmaid’s Gifts


The tradition of giving a gift to bridesmaids evolved from the bride providing her attendants with dresses to wear to the wedding ceremony. Remember the dress-the-bridesmaids-the-same-as-the-bride-to-fool-evil-spirits trick? It was that trick that prompted brides to gift bridesmaids anything at all: not only were wedding-appropriate gowns rare in the days of hand-spun cloth, but multiple women having the same exact dress was pretty much impossible, unless the bride created the dresses herself. Additionally, it was nice for your girlfriends and female family members to put themselves in the way of evil spirits, right? For doing so, they definitely deserved a new dress.

As the industrial revolution reinvented the way clothing was made and allowed for off-the-rack dress purchases, the tradition of bridesmaid gifting didn’t disappear. Instead, the type of gift given changed from one of necessity (read = wearing clothes in church) to accessory (read = handkerchiefs).

Yes, handkerchiefs. Those little swaths of linen were (and still are) the traditional bridesmaid gift. This was because a bride could create numerous delicate, personalized handkerchiefs for her bridesmaids that could match any attire and be useful.

Did you catch that word? Useful

Today, that word is still foremost in most brides’ minds when giving gifts. To us, this is awesome because “use” rarely factors into any other gift giving event. To bridesmaids, however, this is usually less awe inspiring because “use” does not easily translate to any time after the wedding.

A handkerchief is a beautiful, traditional, and very handy (get it?) gift. However, how many of your bridesmaids now use the more-modern Kleenex in lieu of linen? We’re guessing quite a few.

If you want to gift a useful and thoughtful present to your bridesmaids to thank them for their service, consider their lifestyles. Will they really wear a hot pink shawl ever again? Do they write a lot of thank you notes, thereby warranting that stationary? Does a monogram jewelry box match their home d├ęcor? If not, consider these options:

The bridesmaid dress. More and more brides are actually paying for their bridesmaids gowns. We love this idea, especially since very few dresses actually fit into the category of “being wearable after the wedding”. (We know that this statement is not a popular one, given that it is claimed by many brides. However, it is a very honest one, because we, in our experience, have found that very few bridesmaids re-wear their dresses). Regardless of whether the dress actually fits into the re-wearable category, however, we’ve learned from the bridesmaids in our weddings that a bride’s covering this expense is always appreciated.

Hair, makeup or nail services. We must admit that this gift is less altruistic than it seems. Brides who really want their bridesmaids’ hair, makeup or nails to look a specific way might consider gifting a spa day for their attendants. Time in the spa gives a bride the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family and achieve the perfect look for their group.

Brunch, lunch or some other meal. Treating your bridesmaids to a meal is always an appreciated “thank you” gesture. Not only do your bridesmaids get to eat, drink and be merry together, but they also get to be merry with their bride-to-be friend. A bride might consider giving a short toast to make the time extra special.

Individualized gifts. Nothing says that all bridesmaids must receive the same gift. Being able to pick and choose what you give each individual bridesmaid makes it easier to select something that is actually “useful” to her. If you’re uncomfortable with each gift being different, wrap each item similarly in one of HJ’s gift bags from its Charmed line.

If you’re the traditional sort, go ahead and gift those handkerchiefs. After all, giving a gift is always generous, and any bridesmaid who scowls at the gift horse might just need to be moved to the back of the processional. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Readers? Readers?

"Bueller? Bueller?"

Readers,

Do you have questions you're dying for us to answer? If so, send them to audrey@hjplanners.com.

Every so often we'll compile a few and answer away!

Happy Wednesday!

The Blushing Bride



During the (wildly fun and busy) past month of weddings, were here at HJ noticed an increase in the number of our brides wearing blushers. A blusher, for those of you dear readers who are unfamiliar with them, is a piece of fabric that covers the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle. The fabric is usually the same as that of the veil, essentially making it a part of the veil – but a part that can be either lifted back or detached, depending on its construction.

Interestingly, the brides wearing blushers were our “older” brides. By older, we mean brides in their mid- to late-30s, which we absolutely know is not old at all, but is an identifier that allows for the following discussion. (Note: we fall within our category of “older”. We hope to not have ruffled too much tulle by using the term).

Why is this “older” identifier interesting? Because blushers are, by far, extremely traditional, and, yet, none of our “older” brides were traditional themselves. (Here, we gracefully sidestep the younger/older bride personality comparison because there really is no way to make one).

Way way back in history, a blusher prevented marrying individuals from seeing one another.
Traditionally, because marriages were alliances made for political, security or financial reasons, it mattered little to the arranging parties (i.e., the parents), whether the bride and groom knew each other prior to their becoming betrothed or married.

However, blushers also prevented someone or something (meaning a group of someones), from stopping the alliance. Brides wore veils so that nobody knew who she was, thereby avoiding the possibility of her identity becoming known and a ruckus (read: group of warriors barging into the church) ensuing. Protecting a bride’s identity meant, in essence, protecting an alliance to which some may have objected.

Consider this: two sets of parents make an alliance between their children that will cause, upon the parents’ deaths, the consolidation of the largest wealth from one set and military force from the other in the area. Many local residents might object to this consolidation since it can (and often did, making the fear well-founded) lead to the two families overtaking and ruling the town.

The thin piece of fabric that was a blusher, therefore, was a type of weapon.

Over time, worries of clan warfare became less prevalent and those of spirits and propriety more important. With this, the purpose of blushers changed to that of, in the former situation, protecting the bride from evil spirits and, in the latter, maintaining her reputation. In regards to reputation, the more people who saw a woman, the less chaste and modest she was presumed to be – the cause of why many women were “locked away” in castles or rooms.
When all of these worries were wiped away sometime in the late 1800s, blushers became a fashion statement. Today, they retain this status, as can be seen by their varied opaqueness and length.

So, why the increase in blushers lately? We attribute it to the newly established style icon for women in their mid- to late-30s:


Lengthy blusher.

Slice of netting = blusher.

And to her sister:

Once again, netting = blusher.

As a side note: some claim that a blusher led to the bride’s being walked down the aisle by her father. This is entirely false, since a woman was historically never permitted to walk anywhere alone not only (once again) for propriety sake, but also because there were no such people as “engineers” to create flat surfaces – can you imagine falling down the aisle?

Finally, I just can’t help myself from showing the gorgeousness that can be a blusher via one of the most iconic brides of all time, Grace Kelly: