The Naughty Corner: Bad Behaviour at Weddings

Phew! It’s been a ‘fun’ couple of weeks!
I often joke that there’s not much I haven’t seen when it comes to weddings; this month, I’ve added a few new things to my list.

Here is summer 2011’s list of things you shouldn’t have to tell a wedding guest:

Dear Wedding Guests,
The bride’s attire should be the most eye-catching outfit in the room. It’s currently trendy to wear a surprising hat. Okay. I’m not so sure that a surprising dress is a good choice, though.
I’m all for sassy fashion and expressing your personality through what you wear, but I have seen oh, so many outfits that make me wonder what the wearer was thinking when they chose their clothing. For starters, it should go without saying that it’s never a good idea to wear a long white dress to a wedding, if you’re not actually the bride.
Please take the venue into consideration. Clothing that’s suitable for a beach wedding is probably not appropriate for a church wedding. And vice versa.
Your attire doesn’t have to be new, but it should definitely be clean. The same goes for your shoes, and your hair and nails – it looks disrespectful when you don’t take the time to scrub up for an event that will have been months in the planning.

As a general guideline, if you can’t sit down and relax in what you’ve chosen to wear, it’s perhaps a little short or tight to wear to a wedding. It’s silly to set yourself up to be made miserable and  distracted by an uncomfortable or unsuitable clothing choice.

Dear Wedding Guests,
While it’s true that no-one can be excluded from attending a wedding ceremony, priority should always be given to invited guests. If for some reason you decide to attend a ceremony to which you were not invited, in a venue where seating is limited,you should wait until all the invited guests are seated before you seat yourself.
The reception / wedding breakfast is for invited guests only. It will have been catered and set for the number of guests who have RSVPed. If you were not invited, or if you were invited, but did not RSVP, then, too bad. There’s bound to be a McDonald’s still open somewhere nearby.

While I’m on the topic: Just because there will be plenty of ‘free’ food and booze isn’t a reason to consume as much as you possibly can. By all means, eat, drink, make merry, but don’t be ‘that guest’.
No-one wants to step over, uh, pre-warmed leftovers on the way back to their cars at the end of the evening.

Dear Wedding Guests,
Just because someone sends you an invitation, you don’t have to attend. If you don’t approve of the wedding, or have some feud with the couple’s family, or you just generally don’t have a nice thing to say about anyone or anything, please feel free to stay at home. That’s what the RSVP card is for – you can choose not to attend. I’ve seen far too many ‘side eye’ looks flitting among guests. I’ve heard far too many snide comments about the quality of the wine, the tackiness of the decor, or the dismal outlook predicted for the couple.
Come on, people, it’s a celebration.
Please stay away if you can’t at least convincingly fake being happy for the newlyweds.

Dear Wedding Guests,
Don’t forget to put some manners in your pocket with your hanky. It costs nothing to be polite, and only a little effort to be friendly to people you have not met before. Some of those people are now related to you by marriage. A little good behaviour and courtesy will stand you in good stead for the many family gatherings to come.

The same goes for your interactions with wait staff, and others who are working the wedding. There’s seldom any reason to yell at or physically handle any person who is being paid to [among other things] make your day go well. You will expect them to be polite to you, why not return the courtesy? A shift of tone will change a demand into a request, the addition of a please, or thankyou will cost you nothing, but might get you even better service.

And finally [ I hope!] Dear Wedding Guests,
It was the cutest wedding, wasn’t it? And didn’t you get some great candid photos? Yay you! But before you go posting any of those photos onto Facebook or G+, you should check that the bride and groom won’t mind – everyone THEY wanted to share their day with was invited to the wedding, so they may quite rightly wish to keep the images from the day private to that group of people.
In addition, the couple will almost certainly have paid a chunk of cash to have their wedding professionally photographed. Would they really want lo-res snapshots to be the first images shown to the rest of the world?
We’ve all seen bad-taste/wedding disaster photos that have gone viral.
It’s not what a friend would do. Well, not what a GOOD friend would do….

Long story short: You’ve been invited to the wedding because the bride and groom, and their families, value the relationship they share with you. You’re someone special to them, and they want to share their celebrations with you.
So go on, celebrate with them. Have fun, and please, be a good guest!


fee.. fi… fo… FAQ … [A giant post about Wedding Planning, Fees and Stuff]

Q: Do we need to hire a Wedding Planner? Like, isn’t that just for brides in the movies!?
Oooh! Here’s my first piece of advice:
It’s YOUR wedding, you can do, or not do, whatever is right for you. It doesn’t matter whether Wills and Kate did it first, or whether no-one else is doing it that way – when you find the thing that works for you, do it, regardless!
New Zealand brides have a tradition of DIY, and if that suits you, and fits into your lifestyle, fantastic.
If you’re finding the process of planning your wedding overwhelming, or you’re just too busy keeping your everyday life going, a Wedding Director can be the secret to your success.
A consultation with The Wedding Whisperer is a really good way to figure out whether you need to,  or even want to, hire a Wedding Director, or if you just need an occasional check in to make sure you’re on the right track.
On the wedding day, someone has to be the first one there, making sure everything arrives and is in place.
And someone has to be the last to leave, with everything packed down, tidied away, and safely locked.
In between there are thousands of little details that need to be choreographed. That’s a huge responsibility! It makes sense to have someone experienced keeping an eye on your plans as they unfold.

So what does a Wedding Planner actually DO?
I can’t speak for other wedding planning services, but here’s how it works at The Wedding Whisperer: What we DON’T do, is sweep in and take over the process, according to some set formula.
The first thing we do is listen. We want to hear your dreams, no matter how crazy. We want to know what you already have planned, what your preferences are, how much wriggle room is in your budget.
We take careful note of the details that are vitally important to you, as well as the things you’re feeling worried about. Then we work WITH you, letting you do all the fun stuff, and making sure the boring, frustrating, and time-consuming [but oh, so essential] stuff gets done as well. You get the benefit of the knowledge and know-how that  we’ve gathered through years of coordination, and the perks that come from our relationships with vendors we’ve worked alongside in that time.
The Wedding Whisperer is simply working  to help your entire day go as smoothly  as possible – having a Wedding Planner gives you both peace of mind and sound, professional advice. Your Wedding Planner is a professional who knows the wedding industry, and has  resources to plan your wedding with you.
[In my opinion, there’s no such thing as  “just a few hours of wedding co-ordination”. Not if  you’re doing it well. If you really, truly think you only need someone to ride herd for an hour or two,  then you don’t need a wedding planner, you need a temp PA.]

What kinds of people use a Wedding Planner?
People just like you.

Every wedding is different. Some clients want a professional wedding planner to plan their wedding from start to finish for them. Some are traveling into the area, and struggling to pull the details together from a distance. Others are  working professionals, of full time parents, [or both at once] who simply don’t have the time to get all of the planning done themselves. Most commonly, the couples I work with have started the planning process themselves, and somewhere along the way have found it’s all a bit too much, and call us in to help. The key is that your  wedding is perfectly planned and carried out, so that you can relax and enjoy every part of the planning, as well as the wedding day itself.

 How can we choose the right Wedding Planner for our style of wedding?
Just like everything else about your wedding, there are choices to be made, and you need to take your time and consider your options before committing to one or the other. Choosing the person who will choreograph and direct your wedding is HUGE, but the most important thing is really simple:
Do you feel confident in this person to carry out the task? There’s absolutely no point in entrusting your wedding plans to someone else unless you feel comfortable leaving it all to their direction.
Price is way, way down the list. Many wedding planners offer a “free” service, and the old adage is true – there really is no such thing as a free wedding breakfast! No matter how much we love weddings, they’re hard work!
You should know that even if you’re not being directly billed by the person who is doing all that hard work, you can be sure you’re paying for it, one way or another, whether that’s in kickbacks from the vendors, or a percentage added to the quotes and accounts.
When you hire The Wedding Whisperer, we agree on the price before we begin, rather than a percentage of the total spend, [otherwise where would be the incentive for us to find you the sharpest price?!].  That means that there are no nasty surprises and no hidden costs. We  hire the wedding professionals best suited to your requirements, not the ones who have the biggest kickbacks.

Whenever there is a decision or question, we ask, ”What is in the best interest of our bride and groom?” and go on from there. In a nutshell, we work for you.

How much does it cost to hire a wedding planner?
There are a few variables, but generally: The Wedding Whisperer’s wedding planning will be  in the ballpark of $1500,   additional “on the day” services around $35/person/hour,  with variations for significant travel, or extraordinary circumstances. There’s not a simple formula for [x  number of guests + y number in the bridal party, divide by the square  root of the cost of the wedding gown…].  In the interests of clarity and simplicity, we’ve opted for a flat fee rate.
What you see is only a tiny fraction of what you get. There are many hours  behind the scenes, hours of phone calls, coordinating, meeting,  selecting, arranging, overseeing. Even at minimum wage [and let’s just  agree right here that my time is worth more than that], that time-sheet  is going to fill up pretty fast. There’s always going to be something extra that needs  doing, some cog in the machine that doesn’t mesh.  As your wedding  planner, it’s my job to make sure that’s counterbalanced, no matter how  long it takes to get done.
So, I’ve sat up past midnight hand-tying  favors, helped stitch a bride into her un-finished gown, loaned my own socks for a groom’s blistered feet, waded bellybutton deep into the  ocean to stop a boat drifting…
I don’t want to be second-guessing “is  this going to be paid for?” Sure, I’d make more money if I charged by the hour, but wouldn’t you be dreading that bill at the end of the process?!
If I sign on to co-ordinate your wedding, then I’m signing on to make sure all those disparate parts get pulled  together. I’m not the person that will say “Oh, sorry, out of time – see ya”.
A flat fee gives me the freedom to spend time comparison shopping on  your behalf, checking out details in person, and not just going with whatever is the quickest solution – it’s often the difference between ‘let me check with my couple and get back to you’ and ‘sure, that’ll do’.
And honestly, how do you charge for that? The answer is, I don’t. It’s part of the flat  rate fee, that guarantees you’ll get as close as humanly possible to the event we’re brainstormed and planned together.

Why can’t we just pay you a percentage of our total wedding budget? Well, for starters, would that be your proposed wedding budget, or the amount you will actually spend? Because those are two totally different figures, right there.
The percentage of costs is a totally backwards way of thinking. In the first place, there’s no incentive for your wedding planner to drill down the prices for the services she’ll be booking on  your behalf. The more money they save you, the less they’ll be paid. No thanks.
And it’s a crazy scale – for example, the difference  between a $4,000 photographer, and Aunty Jo with her  instamatic: The price in no way reflects the amount of work required to get good results from each – in fact the effort is inverse to the income!

So, what next?
Come and chat with us at The Corner Store during regular business hours, at no cost. You’ll be able to gather some good general advice, as well as getting an idea of how you feel about The Wedding Whisperer as a potential partner in your wedding plans.
Because every wedding  is so different, we would want to make time where we can talk, uninterrupted, about the type of wedding you would  like, the style, guest numbers, venue, budget, etc. The best way to do this is by making an appointment to meet at a time and place that suits you.
There is a $50 charge for the initial consultation, which normally takes one to two hours. A quote can then be drawn up specifically for your wedding  planning needs, based on our discussions.
Even if you decide The Wedding Whisperer is not the right choice for you, I’m sure you’ll still come away more knowledgeable about wedding planning,  and with a clearer idea of what you’re looking for.
If you would like to have a no-obligation consultation with Angel, please email her, pop a text to 021 027 04638 or phone 03 545 7531 call to set up a convenient time to chat.

What are the benefits of having a wedding planner?
This list could be endless, but I think some of the key benefits are:
Peace of mind and reduction of stress;
Saving Money: while there is a cost to employing a wedding planner, a good  wedding planner will help keep you within your budget and they can often get good deals with suppliers for you;
Saving Time:  for many couples, they simply do not have the time to plan  their wedding and hold down a career and carry on their normal  day-to-day lives like family, friends and other commitments.

I love weddings, and wedding planning is what I do every day, but even so, I have to say, planning a wedding is HARD, HARD work! Having a Wedding Planner is one way to get all that hard work done without spending great chunks of your own time and energy making it happen.
Many people find planning a wedding to be  incredibly stressful task.
Stress can put a huge strain on relationships, and turn those romantic dreams into a living nightmare. Shifting some of that stress outside of your immediate circle of family and friends gives you the room to work as a team, rather than fighting all the way to the altar.

Have you noticed that everyone has an opinion about your wedding? And that they’re not shy about telling you about it?!
A Wedding Planner can be your deflector – giving you the perfect excuse not to discuss any of the details with anyone!
One of the biggest benefits is having someone, who, in the weeks leading up to the wedding, will do all the double checking of details, coordinating the different parts coming together, and making sure that everything gets done.
On the day, a Wedding Coordinator will bustle about, quietly and calmly making sure that all that planning comes to perfect fruition,  allowing you to relax and totally enjoy  every moment of your wedding day with your friends and family.

TL/DR: I always sit down with my prospective clients to discuss their  wedding in general and then work out a quote specifically for them and their wedding needs. So, why not make that call, and we can start working together on the day you’re dreaming about!

Writing from the head AND the heart

20110628-103809.jpgTo my shame, I’m woefully behind on getting ceremony drafts finalized (or even started, to be honest). That’s partly the result of things being insanely busy and/or on bed rest, but mostly it’s because, at the front of the queue there have been a couple of ceremonies requiring more than usually careful attention to their content:
There’s a certain delicacy required in the way you approach the ‘giving away of the bride’ when you know her father is living with a terminal diagnosis, or the way you draft vows to last ‘forever’ for a couple who have lost their home and livelihood in the Christchurch earthquakes, or the greeting for the half of a gay couple who probably won’t have a single member of his family present during the ceremony.
Usually, I love this part of my job- smithing the traditional phrasings of ceremonies, reworking their form into something new and better suited for their purpose. I really enjoy the process of finding the right combination of words that make it possible for a couple to perfectly express their emotions to one another and their guests.
I often joke that if I can make the mother in law cry, I ‘win’, but that’s only when she’s crying happy tears. These ceremonies are something else all together.

On one level, I’m relishing the challenge. And on another level, my heart is breaking. In the middle of so much happiness and hope for the future lies a core of bitter sorrow that cannot, must not be ignored or swept aside. While giving it due acknowledgement in the ceremony, must not be allowed to dominate and overshadow the celebrations. There’s a line to walk, between celebration and sorrow, that must be navigated without dipping into triteness or becoming maudlin, and I really won’t know if I’ve truly succeeded until the day the words are spoken at the ceremony.
Which is a long way if saying, if you’re waiting on your draft, it’s coming, and I suspect that it will turn out to be a little gentler, a tad more thoughtful than it might otherwise have been. If you’ve just received your first draft, I hope I have captured the heart of your words, and walked softly enough not to bruise the tender parts.

More than usually, be kind to the people you care about! Grab the opportunities, say the words, love extravagantly, out loud and in full colour. So far as it depends on you, live happily, ever after, for every minute that you can.

First you say “I do”, next you say, “I will…”

Do you know that your will is automatically revoked when you become married? No, me either. But now we both do, thanks to Jon Tidswell of Hamish.Fletcher Lawyers, who very generously allowed me to pick his brains about wills, prenuptial agreements and other lawerly stuff recently:

Making a new will isn’t something that tends to get talked about in amongst the ribbons and cake of wedding planning, but in fact, they deserve at least a little attention! Unless you’ve specifically directed that  your current will is made “in contemplation of marriage”, the will is automatically revoked once you sign the marriage licence, and should you die without making a new will, you are considered to be intestate – without any will.

This is especially important if either partner has children from a previous relationship. Without specific instruction, your assets are distributed by rote among your next of kin, according to a strictly prescribed formula – which is not necessarily how you would have chosen.

As much as we dislike dealing with the idea that we’re mortal, and that someone you love might die, it’s far more unpleasant to deal with the reality that someone you love has left a horrible, expensive legal tangle for you to sort out.

It’s not even that difficult – most lawyers will have a standard questionnaire which covers most aspects of your instructions – it may take 30 minutes to provide the relevant information, and perhaps another 30 for your lawyer to talk through your instructions prior to preparing your will. Many lawyers offer free will-making as a service to their clients, so if you already have a lawyer who deals with your property or other matters, all you need to invest is your time!

Prenuptial agreements are not so simple – by their very nature, they tend to be complicated agreements, without a standard ‘one size fits most’ formula. Add to that, both parties of the agreement must be advised separately by their own individual lawyer about the terms of the agreement. This requires several hours of work by multiple lawyers, so the cost can run into the thousands of dollars.  In spite of that, if you think you require a prenuptial agreement – again, particularly where there are children from a previous relationship, or significant individual assets, then don’t skimp on your legal advice over this! You may have heard that all you need is to write down your informal agreement, and sign it – that is absolutely not true. If you need a prenuptial agreement, you require a properly prepared document that can stand up to robust scrutiny in court – after all, by the time a pre-nup comes into effect, you’re not likely to be amicably negotiating with each other! If your agreement is insufficiently prepared, or if inadequate legal counsel was provided to either party prior to the signing, then a judge will simply set it aside, and proceed as if there is no existing agreement. In a nutshell, you should have it done properly, or not at all.

In the best of all possible universes, you wouldn’t need to worry about either wills or prenuptial agreements. But if you’re living in the real world, and want to make sure that those you love are well protected, should the worst happen, then have a chat to your lawyer, and make sure you’re on track to live happily ever after!

Winter Wedding Planning Workshops

If you could use a little expert advice, don’t miss the Wedding Planning Winter Workshops at The Corner Store, where local experts will tackle specific aspects of your wedding planning.

One of the things I love about our workshops is that they are NOT a thinly veiled marketing exercise – There’s no hard sell, because for starters, the experts who make up each panel are already mostly booked for the coming season. They’ve been chosen because of their experience, skills and local knowledge, but also because they’re passionate about helping couples achieve the best wedding day possible!

And, they’re workshops, not seminars – so you have plenty of opportunity to have your questions answered. Local expertise means practical, up to date recommendations, relevant to New Zealand, and specific to Nelson. Each workshop provides information that relates to your own situation, not a generic ‘one size fits none’ presentation to the masses.

The next series takes place Wednesday evenings all through August:

  • 4th August: Couture Advice on all things Bridal:
    How to create a look that suits your figure AND your personality, from hair to shoes, and everything in between! Whether you’re having your gown made bespoke, or buying it from TradeMe, learn the secrets that will guarantte you can find, wear, and feel beautiful in your wedding day attire.
    Panel includes: Jill Alexander, PussPuss / MadCat, Catherine Anderson, Beautiful Brides of Hope
  • 11th August: Dressing the Venue & Event Planning:
    How to pull together a day that your guests will love as much as you do. Plan your event timeline & budget to prevent nasty surprises on the day. Learn the professional’s tips and tricks for turning an ugly room into a stunning space for your wedding and/or reception.
    Panel Includes: Magnolia Design, Flossie Balloons, Willow Floral Design, Got It Covered, SunCity Events
  • 18th August: I Do’s and I Don’ts of Ceremony Planning:
    Inspiration and information you need to know about what you can do, or get away without in your ceremony – the words, the paperwork, and the rituals, whether you’re going totally trad or creating something new.
    Panel Includes: Memory Makers, John Dearing JP, NZWedding Directory Rachael Schepers
  • 25th August: Framing your Day- Wedding Planning “with Knobs on”:
    The technical details that will make the difference between ordinary and incredible photos, video, sound, and lighting. Done well, you’ll never notice them. Done badly, they’re ALL you’ll notice. Simple suggestions to take care of things that can easily get overlooked, but often have the biggest impact on your event overall.
    Panel Includes: Tasman Photography, Sandra Johnson Boutique Photography, Avago Entertainment,

Each workshop is packed with practical advice that will save you time, money, and energy – and you’ll be in for exclusive deals, discounts, and prizes. We also have some great prizes, discounts and deals exclusively available to attendees. Each workshop is $5 per person, or pick up a ‘season ticket’ – $30 gets you and your ‘+1′ [fiance, bridesmaids, mother, whomever!] into every workshop.

Register now and get the JUNE BUG EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Season Ticket only $15
[offer valid until the end of June 2010]

Don’t miss your chance to fine tune your plans with a little help from the very best Nelson has to offer: No sales pitches, just great advice.

See you there!

If you can’t make it to the workshops, you can always find free, independent wedding planning advice, information and inspiration at
The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store, cnr Waimea Rd & Rutherford St
phone 03 545 7531 text 021 027 04638

You can also find me at the Nelson Bridal Show, Sunday July 18th
or right here in your computer:

A Conversation With… Catherine Anderson, Bride & Dress Fitter

A conversation with Catherine Anderson, Beautiful Brides of Hope

When you’re trying on wedding gowns:
If you can possibly stand it, don’t wear makeup to your fittings. If it’s a great dress, it will look good with or without the help of makeup, and you won’t risk marking the dresses unnecessarily. Choose your colour carefully, not every girl suits white. Consider your options for ivory, cream or gold toned dresses, as they are softer on the skin tones.

Definitely do wear your best fitting bra – even if it’s black! Although it’s not the lingerie you’ll actually wear under your gown, good support is an important part of getting a good fit. If you’re getting your dress made or altered, ask your fitter for advice on the kind of wedding lingerie you should purchase, and then wear it to each fitting. Don’t buy your wedding lingerie or jewellery before you’ve chosen your dress, so that you can allow for different necklines, etc

When you put on a dress, check that it sits well on you. Does it make your good bits look great, and hide your bad bits? Different styles can make you look  taller or shorter, curvier or thinner. Make sure the dress you choose creates the silhouette you’re looking for. Any puckering, pulling, or bunching of the fabric probably means the fit is wrong.

It’s often possible to alter a bargain dress in the wrong size to fit you –  though not always. It’s not always possible to take in a gown without changing the shape or compromising the structure. A too-small dress may be resized by inserting a lace up back. Make sure you get a dressmaker’s opinion before committing to a gown that doesn’t quite fit.

Does your dress fit your style? If it makes you feel silly, or overshadowed, put it back on the rack. Think about your wedding venue, too. There’s not much logic in having a luscious train on a damp sandy beach, or an ultra-modern little number for a historic building. Do you feel like a bride in it? Does it make you feel beautiful? The right dress will do all that!

Keep an open mind – be willing to try on many different styles to find the one that is perfect for you. Often it’s a dress that looks nothing much on the hanger that will look stunning on you.

Once you have a possible dress, make sure you can move freely in it. Will it work for you sitting, dancing, kneeling, and getting in and out of cars?

Take your time choosing, and don’t let anyone pressure you. It’s far better to think about your options for a few days than to buy the wrong gown and regret the purchase.

A Conversation With… Maxine Cook, Wedding Co-ordinator

A conversation with Maxine Cook, from Great Event

People are often really surprised at how creative and beautiful a wedding can be, even on the tightest budget.  Small adjustments, lateral thinking and creative substitutions are amazingly effective in freeing up the finances to allow for certain aspects of a wedding that cannot be negotiated (like the cost of your venue) or should never be compromised (like your photography, for example).

It comes down to resourcefulness and being blessed with the creative vision to think outside the frame to make things work.  One of the most important parts of the planning process is sitting down, examining the dream, and getting as close to it as possible with the available resources.  Where there’s a shortfall, a brainstorming session around alternative ways to make it work is effective, empowering and inspiring.

When people start to plan a wedding, they generally start with two things – a dream, and a budget.  Finding the place where those things meet isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s not even possible.  If it turns out that your budget is not realistic for what you ideally want, you then need to look at what CAN be achieved.  I believe that something truly special, unique, memorable and gorgeous can always be created. So, what I say to any bride in that situation is …

“Don’t worry, it WILL be perfect!”

There are a lot of things to consider when planning a wedding, whether it’s a big lavish affair or a smaller, more intimate gathering.  Ceremonies, venues, catering and seating plans, entertainment, flowers, transport, attire, photography, hair and make up, jewellery, colour and theme, family politics, and a thousand other little details must all be carefully considered, managed and coordinated, for a truly great event.

Specialist knowledge is the best tool, knowing and using the best service providers to make a wedding run like clockwork.  You also need resourcefulness and stamina to co-ordinate everything and keep the stress out of it.

That’s where a wedding planner can really help, to act as a solution-focussed sounding board, objective adviser and service co-ordinator, to make sure your wedding is seamless, stress-free and perfect from start to finish.

It’s your big day!  If you’re using a wedding co-ordinator, ask any and every question, and make your wishes clear.  Be sure that everything that’s important to you is heard, respected, appreciated and incorporated into the plans for the biggest day of your life.  That way, it should also be the BEST day of your life!

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