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.
But.
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!

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….

Sounds Like… Time I Updated My Opinion…

As much as I joke that,” if it wasn’t for my humility, I’d be perfect”, I don’t mind admitting that, now and then I am completely and utterly wrongheaded about something. Today’s wrongheaded woolly thinking blog post on the topic of mics and sound at weddings is brought to you by the letters O and K and by the number 1, and it goes like this:

As a Celebrant, I am prejudiced beyond debate about how important it is that the words of the ceremony be clearly heard by the guests – after all, the ceremony is the reason for the celebration!  To that end, I work hard to make sure that every word I speak is clearly broadcast, either by using ‘my big voice’ [ TM], and having the couple speak out their own parts of the ceremony ‘repeat after me’ style – so that every one present is able to be an active participant in the ceremony and the vows they have gathered to witness.

I take a great deal of pride in the fact that some well-respected DJs and sound crews who have worked ceremonies with me in the past are confident enough in my speaking volume and clarity to back off the amplification.  I’ve had sound techs unclip the mic and put it away when they’ve realised that I’m the Celebrant who will be speaking.

I’m not afraid to use a microphone, and in certain settings, it’s a necessity. Applied skillfully and discreetly, amplification is an incredibly wonderful thing, subtly supporting those who are speaking.  After working alongside skilled and intuitive operators, with quality gear, I know that it’s not that difficult to place microphones so that the couple can be heard without looking like they are speaking their beautiful wedding vows to a microphone, and not to their own true love, or to quickly adjust for changes in wind direction, or the speaking volume of different participants.It’s my considered opinion that the skill of the tech AND the quality of the gear are equally important – leave one out and it would be like making cheese on toast, without the cheese. Or without the toast…

I hate-hate-hate it, [with the fierce and fiery passion of a thousand dying suns], when PAs and sound gear are used badly, either because the DJ has good gear but no real art, or when the gear is whatever battered old bits can be hired for cheap. To be blunt, poor quality sound is at best, a waste of time, money and effort to set up. At its worst, bad sound is a horrible distraction, overshadowing the words with the way they are broadcast.

So, for that reason, whenever a couple has come to me asking where they can hire a PA system, they’ve usually been the recipients of my somewhat scathing opinions about the quality of the gear an average person can affordably hire, and the lack of skilled operating that tends to come bundled with it.

I’m becoming aware that the times they are a-changing, so I’m drawing my line in the sand, and saying, there are some fantastic options for excellent sound available now, and I’m recommending them without reservation!

First shout must go to Ali Holmes, Avago Entertainment, who is one of the best DJ’s working in Nelson. I’ve had the good fortune to have worked alongside Ali at a number of weddings now, and it’s SUCH a luxury to be in such skilled hands – her gear is top quality, carefully maintained and set up, with attention to detail that is second-to-none. I’ve seen her transition smoothly through subtle pre-wedding background music, through the bride’s entrance, mic-ing the ceremony, and then segueing smoothly into pre-dinner music, mics for speeches etc, and finally cranking up into full party mode for the rest of the evening, reading and responding to the requirements of the guests throughout.

And, since sometimes, the reception venue, or the musos you’ve hired for the party, will have 90% of the sound under control, when you just need a little bit of sound for the ceremony, I’m excited to be able to say that Andrew and Kath at Event Audio have the perfect solution with a totally portable system, totally wireless, and able to be set up in the middle of the remotest paddock, deserted island, or backyard. The main unit is about the size of your commuter’s wheelie suitcase – and with an 8 hour capacity battery, there’s no worries about running extension cables for miles! With a really simple interface, it takes just moments to grasp the basic knob twiddling skills required.  Add in extra mics, CD or mp3/4 players, additional speakers – the sky’s the limit!

And that’s just the start of it – Event Audio were responsible for the sound at the recent Crusader’s game at Trafalgar Park, so I’m pretty confident that they can handle whatever size event you’re planning!

In case you missed it, in among all that, this is me, saying, hand to heart, YES! I do know where you can get really good audio services, and heartily recommending that you go talk with Ali, or Andrew, about your specific requirements. [I’ve never been so glad to be wrong! ]

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the options are. Plus, you’ll enjoy the confidence that comes with crossing something off your planning list, knowing you’re actually able to get what you’re looking for! YAY!

 

 

 

 

Caring for your gown between now and The Day

This week, I’ve had bride after bride popping in, asking about ways to store their gown until the wedding – how to keep it clean and out of sight until it debuts. As much as I’d love to sell everyone a whiz-bang gadget at 60% markup, my advice is actually: Just hang it, wrapped loosely in a clean old cotton sheet, right at the back of your everyday wardrobe.

Hang It: If possible, hang your gown up by the ribbon loops inside the gown. These loops connect  to the strongest part of the garment, [usually the side seams] taking the pressure off the delicate seams at the shoulder, which may stretch out of shape if left with the whole weight of the gown on them.

Wrap It: Dry Cleaners do it, gown shops do it, but really, storing your gown in any kind of plastic bag is a Bad Idea. You’ll hear people say that plastic doesn’t breathe, what that means is that any moisture in the fabric will stay there, causing a musty smell, and perhaps even allowing mildew staining. Not only that, but many types of plastic can leach chemical residues which can cause discolouration of the fabrics. An old, [really old] well washed cotton sheet shouldn’t leach any colours or chemicals, will keep surface dust and grime away, and keep your gown hidden from prying eyes.

For longer term storage, you’re better not to hang it at all – fold it gently, wrap loosely in that old cotton sheet, and store it inside an acid free box with plenty of room for the gown to just sit loosely. As long as it’s not squashed in or under pressure, you shouldn’t get too many creases, and allowing it to hang again will see most of those drop out again.

Just a quick aside about acid free storage. Paper and card contain a naturally occurring acid, Lignin, which comes from wood pulp. This, and other acids added in the paper making process, can leach out and discolour your fabric.

Luckily, it’s easy to tell if a box is acid free – basically, if any parts of the box are brown, it is not acid-free. Generally, all parts of the box wrapping tissue should be white, including the corrugates between the inner and outer walls of the cardboard. If the corrugates are brown, they contain acids which can still migrate through the white and into fabric.

In Your Ordinary Wardrobe: It may seem sensible to tuck your gown away in a wardrobe in a spare room, but they are often colder and can be damper than one in a room in regular use. Being in your everyday wardrobe also means that if it slips off the hanger, or a leak in the roof develops, or something – you’re much more likely to notice quickly and set it right.

If the worst happens, and for some reason your gown needs cleaning before you wear it, seek professional advice before doing ANYthing! Something that will clean off one type of dirt or mark may set another type – so it’s really important to have as much information about what caused the problem, and get good advice about what to try first.

For spills and staining on the day – Know the fabric of your wedding gown.If possible, go back to the person who made/sold you your gown for advice. Different fabrics need different treatment, too – silk, for example, should never be wetted. Some cleaning solutions will dissolve some polyesters, and so on. When you spill something on artificial fibre, it tends to stay on the surface of the fabric, so it is much easier to get rid of the stain than if you spill something on a natural fibre such as silk, which are hollow, and tend to absorb the spill. In either case, unless the mess is major and makes you uncomfortable, better leave it alone until you can get professional treatment for your bridal gown.

If you must do something and the stain is coffee, wine, mud, blood, tea or some other water-soluble stain, dab the spot gently with cool water and air dry. But remember, silks and rayons are water-sensitive, and you may create permanent water spots.

Try camouflaging [dry] marks on your gown with something white and relatively harmless such as baking soda, cornstarch, or baby powder [NOT twink or white nail polish]—especially if the stain is not water-soluble. Grease, lipstick, and other cosmetics can only cleaned with solvents which can also dissolve any dye that may have been used to color your wedding gown. Again, you are better to leave the spot alone until you can get professional treatment for it, and remember that your wedding is about much more than just your dress – your friends, family, and new husband will be looking at you – not checking for spots or tears on your bridal gown!

Getting It Ready To Wear: Several days before the wedding, look over your wedding gown and wedding accessories and make sure everything is ready to wear. Hang your veil near the shower to smooth any wrinkles. If you are staying away from home, and will be dressing there, double-check that you have everything you may need before you leave the house. Allow plenty of time to get dressed in your wedding gown, and if possible, have someone to help you get it exactly right.

After Care: It’s worth planning ahead for what will happen with your gown after the wedding.  In the longer term, you might plan to pass the dress on to another generation, or simply keep it because of the memories and emotions attachment to it. If so, it’s essential that you take steps to preserve your gown properly, or it may become discolored and, over time, the fabric can even begin to disintegrate. Even if all you plan to do is to pass it on or sell it, you’ll still want to make sure it’s in good condition, and the sooner you have it cleaned, the easier it is to remove all the cake and lipstick and floor dirt you may have picked up the day of the wedding. Perspiration, unnoticed food spills, grass stains, etc, will only get worse with time. The sooner you start, the less damage there is likely to be.

BUT are you really ready to give up your gown? You might want to enjoy it some more and just look at it hanging over the wardrobe door or laying on the bed in your spare room, or even wear it for a second photo shoot – and just remember how much fun it was to wear it on your wedding day. Unless your gown is silk and/or and splattered with red wine or covered with mud, it’s okay to delay the trip to the cleaners for a couple of weeks.

The first step in either storing or selling your gown is in cleaning it. There’s a difference in the level of cleaning required for sale than for preservation. Wedding gown preservation cleaning is something that you should absolutely do if you plan to keep the dress. If you are going to sell it, then a simple cleaning is sufficient. Be realistic – if you know of serious stains – spilt wine or large grass stains – there’s little that will be able to done to remove them. You may need to reconsider your plans, and adjust the cleaning regime accordingly.

As wonderful as that gown is, the most precious part of it is the hopes and dreams, the tears and memories it’s gathered along the way. So, remember to take as much care over preserving them, as the gown itself.

Enjoy your day!

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.

That’s not lipstick on my collar…

…but that IS pine sap on my new pants!

A regular, reflex part of my wedding planner routine is the quick once-over to check that the bride, groom, and bridal party still look like they’re fresh out of the packet – keeping an eye out for extra lipstick and rouge in the wrong places on the bride, [and anywhere on the groom!], zippers zipped, ties tied, hems free of cling-ons, and so on.

It’s amazing how much muss can happen between the top and bottom of the aisle, and it’s part of my job to quietly make it go away. A “thumb-flannel” is sometimes enough. A babywipe is a godsend. Spit on a hanky, even among family members, a definite no-no!

I love the idea of  ‘Trash the Dress’, but your wedding day is not the time, or that place to do it, and never accidentally! So, I know how to deal with automobile grease on a white gown, baby vomit on a dark suit, and a horde of other minor disasters. This boy-scout attitude has not, unfortunately,  saved me from my own day-to-day battle with spaghetti sauce down the front of  my white T-shirt, dog slobber on my shoes, beetroot juice on my socks [don’t ask!], and today’s addition to the stain family –  pine sap on my brand new black pants.

My daughter had a fight with her best friend, ran out to the wood pile and  sat on a log to cry, I hauled her onto my lap [because she’s still not too big to hug] and got pine sapped. The resulting mess could pass for a “Monica Lewinsky blue dress”, and if I’m ever going to wear them in public, it’s going to take a lot more than a babywipe to get them clean.

Polling my friends gave me a variety of options to try ranging from rubbing alcohol to professional stain removal. But there was one solution I hadn’t ever tried, and it’s so good, I plan to add it to my stock of babywipes and clean hankies. Riv’s suggestion was:

“But that’s how we tell the good parents from the bad parents. The ones without pine tar stains, or any other stain, or rips, or the hems of shirts pulled out of shape by the waist-high crowd– those are the ones who might as well start the kids’ therapy funds now. Wear that pine tar stain with pride.”

Which, IMO, beats babywipes and spit-on-a-tissue, hands down. She’s right – pine sap on my new pants is nothing if it’s the only thing stopping me comforting my baby girl.

Smeared happy-tears-mascara on the collar of the groom,  or baby drool on the bride’s gown might not be something you’d set out to collect, but if the badge fits, you might as well wear it as hide it.

Which is a long way of saying,  if you ever see me at a wedding,  not rushing to clean up a fuchsia lipstick stain, you should look around and find which lips it matches. I guarantee, it will be one of the best beloved old nanas or aunties. It will, no doubt, look as garish in the flesh as it does on the bride’s forehead, but you’d do well to find yourself a seat at her table. Best beloved old biddies are something pretty special.  Riv was right. Some stains you should wear with pride!

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