Guest Book Alternatives

This month’s ‘rush item’ has been guest books. We stock a lovely variety of styles at The Corner Store, but even so, I’m not really surprised to hear that couples struggle to find the right one for their wedding.

I suspect the issue is less about the range of guest books available, [does a quick count – we have more than 20 different styles in store!] and more about the limitations of the traditional guest book – when it comes to creating a wedding keepsake, you’re hoping for so much more than just a list of names. So, here’s a few alternatives I’ve seen recently, and fallen in deep love with:

DOODLE JOURNAL:

One of the simplest, yet most effective guest-book ideas ever. Rather than a formal guest book with measured spaces, use a blank page notebook, and encourage your guests to share their favourite quotes or advice for the newlyweds.

SIGNING PLATTER:
[inspired by Nelson based pottery artisans Pottering About]
Personalise the centre of a blank bisque platter with your names, date, colours or theme, and set it on a table for your guests to decorate with comments, pictures, etc, using a simple ink pen or pencil.  After the wedding, the writing is permanently inked, and the platter is then fired and sealed, creating a permanent, washable, celebration plate for use in years to come.
One of the things I love about this idea is that if anyone writes something stupid or mean [because sometimes people just don’t think], you can choose not to make it permanent. You can also select your favourite comments [or specific people’s comments, eg your parents] to be inked in another colour to highlight them – lots of ways to make it a really special memento.

PHOTO ALBUM GUEST BOOK:
[inspired by Sandra Johnson Boutique Photography] You’ve probably picked up, by now, that I’m a huge fan of the ‘engagement photo shoot’, as the perfect opportunity to test drive your photographer, and get the best value out of your practice hair and makeup. And now, there’s even more reason to make the time to get those photos: Using the photos from your engagement photo shoot, plus an assortment of your own photos [from your childhoods, when you first met, hen/stag nights etc] you can create a beautiful, conversation-inspiring photo-journal to use as a guest book.

DIRECTED JOURNAL:
DIY or order through The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store]

For the greatest ‘anti-guestbook’ – a directed journal to inspire your guests to write more than just ‘good luck’ or ‘congratulations’. Each journal is hand written with questions and comment prompts to inspire your guests to share from their wit and wisdom. Books can be customised on request, with a photo and page for each guest or couple, or with specific prompts relating to the couple’s specific situation.

SIGNATURE FRAME:
[order through The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store]

A signature frame is ideal if you’re looking for something more than your standard guest book list of names, but don’t want the guest book to be a significant focus of the reception – guests can quickly and easily add their names, and a comment if they wish. After the wedding, you pop in your favourite photo/s, creating a visual reminder of your celebrations. Made in NZ, there are lots of options for framing, mattboard style, etc.

CHRISTMAS TREE SKIRT:

In New Zealand, we tend to let our Christmas trees go bare-legged, but I’m told that Christmas tree ‘skirts’ are a stylish way to catch dropped tinsel/pine needles and disguise the plastic bucket or three prong spike the tree stands in. If you’re planning a summer wedding, using a Christmas tree skirt as your guest book will create an heirloom which will bring fresh memories each year as you pull out the box of Christmas decorations and re-discover the signed skirt, just in time for your wedding anniversary. I’ve seen some simple white and red tree skirts with words such as ‘peace, hope, believe, joy’ etc., which are Christmas themed, but can still fit with a  wedding theme!

TIP JAR:

Put your table name cards to double use by encouraging guests to write their comments [tips?] on the back, and drop them into a jar. Of course, any cute cards will do. I like re-using the name cards because it’s elegant but un-fussy, encourages every guest to contribute, and their small size gives guests just enough room to write something meaningful without pressuring those less eloquent guests.

The Corner Store has lots of new [and very cute] designs of woodcut name cards in all kinds of shapes, which are perfect for doubling as guest book inserts:

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You Learn Something New, Every Day

After a dozen years, averaging  30 ceremonies a year, what’s that, then? 350 or more weddings? You’d think by now I’d have been there, done that, worn out the T-shirt.

But already this season, I’ve had some totally new wedding-related experiences: F’rinstance, I got a groom’s name wrong, for the first time, ever. [Only for a second, and not in any of the legally binding bits!]  And, I officiated over a double wedding ceremony [that’s where I got a one of the groom’s names mixed up with the other. Blush]. I saw a bride and her father drive their car, right up the aisle to the altar [and used the bonnet of the car as our signing table]. Let’s see, what else? Oh, I was unforgivably late to a rehearsal, the latest I’ve ever been, [there’s an interesting, though not very believable excuse filled with ninjas and fire-breathing dragons, but no better reason than that I failed to allow enough time to get there]. And I was embarrassingly early to the ceremony, the next day!

And, the thing that I totally wasn’t expecting: even after all those hundreds of beautifully crafted, carefully honed vows and I do’s and promises, just the other day, I was blindsided by a couple’s [secret squirrel surprise] vows totally taking my breath away.

I asked politely after the ceremony, and they said I could share them here.

So, here are the wedding vows I wish I had written:

The groom said:
You are my best beloved, and my best friend.
Somehow, in spite of some spectacular lapses in judgment,
and thanks to some astonishingly good luck,
I find myself standing here, beside you, on our wedding day.
Pinch me, I can’t believe it’s real.

I promise to care for you, to celebrate with you,
and to work beside you to build a life together
better than we could have imagined having by ourselves.
And so, I give you this ring, to remind you every day of my promise
that in all conditions, under every circumstance,
I am always on your team, as long as I live.
Finding you is the best thing that I have ever done,
until this very moment,
when becoming your husband will take that honour.

And when she could speak, the bride said back:

You are MY best beloved and MY best friend, too.  Jinx!
With this ring, I give you my promise
to be by your side and ON your side from here on out.
I promise to honour you, and to BE honourable,
to listen as you trust me with your thoughts, your fears, and your dreams;
To see you as the extraordinary person that you are,
even when you don’t believe it.
And to love you deeply and honestly.
You heart moves mine,
your mind challenges and inspires me,
your humour delights me,
and your hands are the ones I wish to hold mine,
until the end of my days.

I gladly make these promises to you,
and I am proud to become your wife.

Sweet, no? Maybe it’s just that so often, by the time I hear the couple actually saying the words to each other, we’ve been over and over them, tweaking and fine tuning – this was the first time in a while that I got to hear a set fresh out of  the box.

I’m kind of surprised that there’s been so much to blog about this season’s weddings, when it’s still only the middle of November. Even after all this time, there’s still so much more to learn, discover, and experience – I love it!


 

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!

Twenty Years From Now…

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now. you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the Trade Winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”

Twenty years ago today, I walked down the aisle and into married life. Far from ‘throwing off the bowlines and sailing away from the safe harbour’, our marriage has been an incredible safe haven – the home port from which I have been able to confidently face the next adventure, and to which I have gladly returned at the end of the day.

As the days have turned into years, it’s started to feel as if those years have turned back into days – I don’t know how we squeezed all those experiences into less than a month, but sometimes, that’s about how long it seems to have been.

A lot has happened in twenty years. As a f’rinstance, take another look at the photo for this post. That’s 1GB of 1990s technology storage – massive compared to the terabytes we carry around today. I’ve been married since before the world-wide web existed, longer than 50% of YouTube users have been alive, since the days when Prince Charles was still married to Diana, before Whoopie Goldberg hammed it up in Sister Act, before Boris Yeltsin was a household name, back when Mount Pinatubo erupted. WAAAAY back in the day.

Suddenly I’m feeling like I ought to be feeling old.

No-one is more surprised than I, to discover we’re so far down the track and still happily married. It’s not been an easy route – [you know me, I always want to know what might be up that other path, and in the past twenty years, we’ve travelled most of them] – it’s been better. It’s been worse. We’ve been comfortably off, and we’ve been totally, hopelessly broke. So far we’ve survived Norovirus, Crohn’s disease, infertility, parenthood, pets, prangs, and pranks.

There’s no magic formula, though. It’s not like we can map out a schedule, and say ‘do this, then that, and you’ll be fine’. I can recommend for you a large assortment of things you shouldn’t do, or say. There have been times when we’ve each said things we’ve lived to regret, days when the only reason to go home at the end of the day is because all our stuff was there. We’ve battled through seemingly irreconcilable differences, and come through that to be on the same side against some pretty insurmountable odds.

And, so far so good, we have both managed to love and to cherish each other, to remember that we chose and committed to this relationship, and ultimately, the only ‘trick’ is that each of us has come back around to choosing it again, and again, time after time after time.

And there’s the uncomfortable truth. In the same way that it doesn’t matter how shiny and perfect one face of a coin is if the other side is missing, it doesn’t much matter how hard one side of a couple works at the relationship, if the other side is missing, or fake. As awesome as I am [and so, so modest!] I have to acknowledge that a significant part of the success of my marriage belongs to the guy I happened to marry.

I’m looking forward to sharing the for richer, for better with him, and content that if there must be a for poorer, or worse, a death that inevitably parts us, [hopefully many, many for than another 20 years away], I won’t mind so much, if I can do it with that guy by my side.

Twenty years from now….

Breaking Out The Bubbly

I have had so much fun this week, thanks to The Wedding Kit loaning me their bubble machine!
We set the machine up in the entryway of The Corner Store, and ‘commenced to blowing’:
instant clouds of iridescence wafting along the street, [which was fun straight out of the box] but what’s been the most delightful has been the reactions of people passing by.

So far, no-one’s said “bah humbug”.  Apart from one run-away buggy [with baby still inside, and caught just in time!] the bubbles haven’t caused any accidents.
So far.
If anything, it seems like the streams of bubbles occasionally wandering out across the road have caused people to drive a little slower around our horrible corner. Though, I do wonder if I should write a letter of apology to the teachers unlucky enough to attempt crocodile filing  three classes of 8 year olds past my door yesterday.

Men in suits, the Postie, pretty much anyone who had passed by has at the very least smiled, if not dawdled for a while. Small children have predictably erupted into paroxysms of  bubble-glee, thanks to passing parents who parked their car, unstrapped the baby, and walked them over to play!

I haven’t gotten much work done. Without a word of a lie, since I started writing this blog post this morning, I’ve been distracted by a pit bull terrier leaping [all four feet off the ground] to catch bubbles, a classic ’emo-goth-wannabe’ utterly ruining his sad mood, and three tough dudes in black leathers almost choking to death  laughing and trying to catch bubbles in thier mouths.

But the absolute best reactions? All this week, it’s the school boys who have surprised and delighted me. I’ve kind of assumed that teen-aged boys were far too cool to expect any reaction at all to the bubbles – if I’d had to predict, I’d have said a big boy would kick the machine over and run away – turns out, I am totally wrong on that:

So, for your Friday afternoon enjoyement, I give you: What young men [because,  these have all been seniors!] do when surprised by bubbles:

Let’s begin with the group of lads playing a scratch game of “footy with bubbles”, shouting “Gooooaaaalllll!” and running off, shirts over their heads like Pele.

Add one very sharp-looking chap, totally lost in thought as bubbles swirled around him, and his less dapper counterpart, later in the day – similarly entranced. Overlay a soundtrack to the effect of “Duuuude. Wait. What?” and try not to giggle too loudly. I’m not certain, but I think he was trying to catch some to put in his pockets for later…

I’ve seen otherwise unperturbably cool dudes,  breaking into dance, or sitting on the kerb laughing, running off to find a mate to drag him back for show and tell – I haven’t laughed this much in months!

My favourite schoolboy quip so far:  “See, if you don’t wag, you miss this stuff”

I’m going to just say it: Nelson College Schoolboys are awesome. I love that they still have that sense of childlike wonder, and are not afraid to show it, even among their peers. It’s been such fun to hear the surprise and delight of passers-by, and to discover that whether one is have been 3 or 63, apparenlty you’re never too old to play in the bubbles.

If you have a moment and you’re in the neighbourhood, come over and play! [Or if your inner child is old and curmudgeonly, you could curl up on the couch and people watch]

A quick shoutout to the guy who started the party – You can hire one of these magic-making machines for just $50 /day from The Wedding Kit – You don’t even need a special occasion – just start the bubbles, and the party will come to you!

The Wedding Kit: Affordable Equpment Hire for weddings, events, and ordinary days!

Would you like Anika Moa to sing at your wedding?

I love my job – I get all kinds of interesting queries. So far this year, I’ve had to find out whether it’s possible to have a naked wedding without breaking the law [Answer: yes, at specific locations and times of the year], whether it’s possible to close off an entire street for a neighbourhood ‘block party’ style wedding, [Answer: possible, but not terribly practical, let’s try plan B] I’m still trying to locate a candyfloss machine [new or used – if you know, please tell me!]  and I got about 90% of the way through the maze of booking Dave Dobbyn for a wedding before the couple decided they’d rather have the local pub band…

..but it’s never been this easy to arrange to have Anika Moa sing at your wedding.

In association with TradeMe, and in support of Women’s Refuge, Anika Moa is offering to come and sing at your wedding. And they’re throwing in a free wedding dress:

Imagine having Anika Moa singing at your wedding. ‘Awesome’ doesn’t come close. Well this is the prize that awaits one lucky bidder. Not only will Anika come* and sing two of her hit songs at your big day, but the prize also includes a fabulous wedding dress courtesy of Sera Lilly, one of the hottest ready-to-wear labels in New Zealand (www.seralilly.com). Together, it’s guaranteed to put the BIG in your day.

There are a heap of fantastic opportunities on offer as part of the Women’s Refuge Charity Auction – coaching with Ruben Wiki, or Paul Henare [or Suzanne Paul], tours, lunches, art, music and more.

* FINE PRINT The winning bidder will need to arrange and pay for her travel to the wedding, including airfares and accommodation if outside Auckland. Please note she won’t perform covers! The dress will be made in an off-the-rack size and length (8-16) – any further alterations or changes will be charged separately. You have 3 months in which to collect the dress. Anika is a Brand Ambassador for Women’s Refuge and has supported our campaigns for many years, volunteering her time and commitment on a number of occasions.

 

Good luck!

 

Wedding Planning Extravaganza: Nelson Wedding Show 2011

If you’re even remotely dreaming of getting married in the next few years, then the wedding expo this weekend should be at the top of your ‘things to do’ list.
This Sunday, 26th June, 9.30-3.30 at the Trafalgar Centre, $10/person.

It’s a great opportunity to get ideas and information, but most of all, it’s a really efficient way to meet with a wide range of vendors and get a feel for how they might fit with your wedding plans. It’s a really important factor in your decision-making, and usually, the only other way to do it well is by spending literal hours traipsing around meeting with vendors individually.

This Sunday, you have the opportunity to wander the aisles, checking out over 75 different options in one go, watching the way different vendors interact with people, and actually getting to see their setup.

Given the choice between two similar, great options, you’re always going to go with the one that you ‘click’ with – whether that’s a good rapport with the people, or a preference for the colour of their particular version of things – and those are the kind of things you can quickly and easily get a feel for at a bridal show.

If you haven’t already, you still have time to enter the competition to win a wedding dress from Beautiful Brides of Hope, just by telling us about your proposal [enter here or submit to the entry box before 11 on show day] or tell us how you’d rock your frock and you could win the opportunity to do it in an awesome Trash the Dress photo shoot with Sandra Johnson Boutique Photography [enter here]

As well as all of that, there will be three really practical, FREE wedding planning workshops, at 9.30, 12 noon and 3.00. I recommend you arrive early, and plan to stay a while – It’s going to be busy:
The first workshop starts at 9.30, as a warm up to the wedding show opening at 10.00, followed by a fashion show at 11, a second wedding planning workshop at 12, the winner of the Beautiful Brides of Hope gown will be drawn at 1.45, before the fashion show repeats at 2, and the show closes at 3 with a final workshop to finish up the day.

– Just for coming along you could win one of the following great prizes: a luxury night’s accommodation at The MudCastle,  $250 voucher for wedding decoration or hire items from Creative Occasions, Custom designed wedding bands from Glen James jewellers, or an engagement photo shoot from Tasman Photography.

I’ll be there, of course – the last site as you head out the door, and at the workshops – and I’d love to chat with you about what you discover, and how what you’ve learned fits into your wedding plans.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you see you Sunday,

Ang

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