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:


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.

[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.

[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.

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.

[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.


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!


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:


Whose party is it, anyway?!

I often joke that ‘It’s not Christmas until somebody cries’, so I ought not be surprised that there’s a tad bit of friction among the whanau in the week before the jolly fat man arrives.

What it mostly boils down to is this: My mother’s job is to co-ordinate the distribution of Christmas gifts and food hampers not only to the clients they work with during the year, but also for the many other public service/charitable organisations they work alongside of. This means that she is working all the hours God gives her [and any extras she can magic up] between now and Christmas morning to make sure that the donations of toys and goods are fairly distributed, and that the gifts and food arrive at their many destinations in plenty of time for the families to gain the most benefit.

It also means that Christmas as a fun, relaxing event isn’t really on her radar yet, and won’t be until the last package is safely delivered… probably sometime late Friday. But it so happens that it’s my mother’s birthday on Friday, and the next day will be CHRISTMAS!! and well, and the rest of us want to celebrate…

You can see it coming, can’t you?

Now, you know it’s not a major, serious drama, or I wouldn’t be posting about it here, but there have been a few wee moments where the rest of the family have said “But I thought we’d…”  and “well I wanted to …” because what started as a well-meaning plan to take the youngers of family to a movie so that Dad and Mum could go quietly out for dinner has together somehow morphed into Mum wanting to chill out at the movies, too… and on it goes from there.

But in the end, what kind of celebration ignores the needs or preferences of the person you’re supposed to be celebrating?

[On second thoughts, don’t answer that, because you’ll wreck the point I’m about to make!!]

When you’re planning any kind of celebration, one of the most important things to hold in the front of your mind is who you are doing it for.

With a wedding, it’s easy to assume that the wedding is for the bride and groom, but of course, a moment’s reflection will make it clear that if a bride and groom were to be totally selfish and cater only to their own whims, it would be a pretty dull event for most of the rest of the guests!

Weddings on the whole are a celebration for the friends and family of the couple. It’s not totally altruistic, but there are many, many choices that are made with a view to accommodating the needs and preferences of the guests and family.

Of course, if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up with chaos, but it’s worth making a list [and checking it twice, just to be seasonal] of who you’re trying to impress, and how, and why.

From the choice of venue [too many stairs for grandpa to manage] to menu [substantial amounts of  food to soak up the booze for the workmates] the people you’re inviting to celebrate with you will be influencing many of the decisions you make. It’s worth taking time to make sure you’re actually hitting your target, and at the same time, not making ridiculous or unnecessary or unreasonable compromises.

It’s worth sitting down together with as many of the important players as possible, right at the beginning of the process, and talking through what you think they’d like. Once you have an idea of what’s important to the people who are most important to you, decide which things go at the top of the list as a ‘must do’ and which fall more into the ‘hope to do’ section.

There’s probably going to be a few ‘tell them they’re dreaming’ requests too, but you don’t have to do everything!

Let me give you an example. Let’s imagine a couple who are considering holding their wedding in the same church their parents and grandparents were married in, in spite of their own atheistic leanings.

They discover that they will also expected to have significant christian content to the ceremony, and six sessions of ‘what is a christian marriage ‘  themed premarital counselling. By talking it over with their families [who started the tradition] they can make an informed decision that really does honour their families and themselves. The balance will vary from situation to situation – a nominal atheist might roll with the conditions for the sake of tradition. Some families would be quite upset to think they’d be the cause of philosophical angst just for the sake of tradition. But until you talk about it, how do you know?

It’s not just the major issues, either. I mean, what if three of your elderly aunts won’t be able to walk out to the romantic spot on the end of the pier? Or your BFF is a vegetarian, but you want to have the reception in the town’s best steak-house? There’s truth in that old saying that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. In the event that the decisions you finally make will be less than optimal for your family or guests, it’s always nicer to talk it over with them than to just announce it, if that’s a practical option. You stand to make allies, rather than enemies that way – even if they don’t like your decision, if they understand your reasoning, it’s harder to take offence!

As in everything, there’s always a balance between inviting input and giving away control, and I’d be the first to agree that it can be a very fine line at times. As you walk that line, take the time to make sure that the things you’re compromising on, or going to great effort to arrange, is actually the thing that will best hit the target you’re trying to reach!

For us, having talked it over, it looks like we’re having a low-key, relaxed, do-nothing birthday and christmas. And i think that it’s going to be perfect!

Thanksgiving and other family gatherings

It’s almost Thanksgiving in the USA, and since I have friends over yonder, I’ve heard some pretty incredible descriptions of the insane lengths people seem feel they must go to for [what I’d always thought of as] a simple family dinner.

From this side of the world, it looks like a dose of voluntary insanity – between the super-sized turkey and the super obnoxious relatives, Thanksgiving sounds to me like something you do just so that you can be thankful that it’s over!

It’s as if the symbol of the celebration has become more important than the thing we’re actually celebrating. And as I hear those words coming out of my mouth, I realise that it’s not just something that happens on the other side of the world… we do it here, too, with weddings.

Somewhere, on some level, if you’re having anything more than a registry office ceremony, or eloping, then your wedding day is in large part being built around getting together with your close friends and family to celebrate. [slight hijack: no really! If all you wanted was the pretty dress and the fancy words and the album full of photos, you’d have made plans to head to a remote location for your wedding. If you’re not doing that, then by default or design, you’re chosing this particular version of insanity – so you might as well make it work!]

I’m just going to go ahead and be blunt about it. Having made the choice to include your family and friends in your wedding day celebrations, you owe it to them and to yourself to keep the drama down and the celebration up.

Just like it makes no sense for someone to get up in the wee hours to baste the turkey at hourly intervals, if it means they’re going to be tired and cranky by the time that bird makes it to the dinner table, it also makes no sense to plan a wedding and reception that requires you, or someone you care about, to run themselves ragged to get everything done.

If you’re going to have a high-maintenance celebration, then PLEASE hire a stranger to do that running around, and give yourself and your family the best of your time, energy and attention. Seriously, there’s no amount of money in the world that you could count as worth saving if you spend your wedding day [or if your mother spends her daughter’s wedding day] on the verge of hysterics, running back and forth, trying to keep everything moving forward.

That’s one of the reasons why I also strongly recommend using a purpose-built venue, or one where most of the basic requirements are already on site, and I passionately advise that if you’re somewhere that requires you to hire in and set up your own chairs and tables etc, then you should hire a team to take care of those details. That allows your guests to be the guests, and leaves the hired help to do the slaving.

Before you head off into determined DIY territory, consider this: In practical terms, for every 50 guests, you should allow a minimum of an extra hour’s worth of setup time. Think about it. How long does it take to unpack and neatly set up a single table,  8 chairs with sashes or covers, linen, cutlery, glassware, favors, place cards, napkins, decorations, let alone an extra six sets? Not to mention getting all the assorted bits and pieces picked up and delivered, unpacked and placed. Invariably something gets missed, or dropped and broken, or needs ironing, or whatever.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve commented about how beautiful everything looks and found myself on the receiving end of  the horror story of what it took to achieve.

Not fair, not by a long shot. It’s not just your day. Your guests are an important part of the celebrations. And as strongly as I advocate for the wedding couple to only be the bride and groom on their wedding day, so should your guests get to be the honoured guests, the celebrating family. Not the unpaid labour, or the blood sweat and tears behind the scenes.

Pulling together any kind of family celebration is a mission. If you’re smart, you’ll do as much as is humanly possible to remove any additional stressors and potential points of friction, rather than building them into the structure of your day.

Uh, so, yeah… Happy Thanksgiving!

random factoid: The image for this post is a real life bride posing with a turkey. While wearing a wedding gown made with turkey feather detailing. I couldn’t make this stuff up!

Make the House ‘Christmassy’ with Willow Floral

Is it too early to start talking about Christmas?

One of my favourite florists, Katrin of Willow Floral Design, is once again inspiring  you to get your home looking and smelling festive before Santa comes. Katrin Lilla has been a Florist for more than 15 years and is a qualified Florist Master and has also worked as a Teacher in floristry at a Technology and Vocational Education Centre in Germany. Katrin is passionate and enthusiastic about her profession and loves to share it in her workshops and demonstrations.

Whether you pick one or two classes or enrol for the full course, I know you’ll enjoy sharing cookies, chocolate and other goodies while being creative, learning,  andgetting into the Christmas Spirit!

Wednesday  24 November:  Christmas wreathes/Garlands for your door, to attract Santa, or a garland for your fireplace, Create a traditional Xmas decoration to bring a seasonal touch into your home

Wednesday  1 December: Topiaries in funky shapes from miniature Xmas trees for a reception desk or a little give away or just a nice treat for your table/ corner at home

Wednesday 8 December: Table arrangements using a container of your choice….from traditional to modern arrangements

Wednesday 15 December: Christmas Posies using frames, Xmas baubles, cinnamon, star anise, pine cones, silver and gold details, interesting greenery, with that Xmas scent

Classes are available including material or excluding materials
Including materials – a basic selection of flowers/greenery/ accessories will be provided $30/ class
Excluding materials- please enquire before course begin what to bring $15 / class

If the course is fully booked [max 12 per class] there will be the opportunity for an additional course with same themes on the Thursday night.

Due to the traditionally high demand for these classes, you will need to book in and pay in full prior to course. Enquire instore at Willow or email Katrin with your enquiry.

Happy Holidays!

¿ʇuıod ƃuıddıʇ ɹnoʎ ɹɐǝu ƃuıʇʇǝƃ

Between Christmas shopping and finalising details for your summer wedding plans, you’d be excused if
¡ʎǝʌɹnʇ ʎsdoʇ ʇıq ǝlʇʇıl ɐ slǝǝɟ plɹoʍ ɹnoʎ

That’s when the Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store really comes into its own. When you need a little haven of calm in the chaos, you can always find it here! There’s still a mass of great information and inspiration for planning your wedding, and I’m even taking on Christmas!

If you’ve run out of inspiration for Christmas, run into The Corner Store – we’ve got gifts you won’t have seen anywhere else in town. Excuse the infomercial, but we’ve got such great ideas for romantic stocking stuffers, and orignal gifts from the heart, I just can’t help myself!

In the gifts under $10.00 category:

The latest new arrival in Th’Store  are soap cupcakes from Soap-Alicious – deliciously decadent in rose, strawberry, lavender, and citrus, or a very seasonal Christmas Pud! At $9.50 for a texas muffin sized serving, they’re too good to pass up!

We also have Fisherman’s Soap in store – an organic, ocean friendly aniseed scented soap that lathers in sea water, masking human scent and attracting fish – Packaged in a cute jute net, it’s a great something extra for the fishermen in your life!

We have tiny, tempting, tastes of Christmas – gift boxes of Kerstien’s fudge, or Christmas cookies and cake, and a variety of men’s, women’s and kid’s skin care and pamper packs.

We even have: heart-shaped playing cards, romantic snow-globes, beach wear, fragranced firestarters for your brazier, candles, candies… in fact, glancing around Th’Store, I’d say there’s more in store under $10 than anything else!

So why not pop in and fill your boots stockings  from our range of ‘one-of-a-kind’ gifts.

The Corner Store will be open Monday-Friday 10am-2pm, and other times by arrangement until Christmas Eve.

I’m taking a break from Th’Store between Christmas and NewYears, but if there’s anything you need, you know you can call me and I’ll do what I can to help out!

Wishing you the happiest holidays,


Chef MasterClass with Kristin Harrison and Baku

Kristin Harrison provides beautiful hand crafted food with great attention to detail.

I’m a huge fan of Kristin, due to her genuine love of food and her passion for fresh ingredients.
Kristin returns to host a Master Class with a difference. She will present a plated “Celebration Dinner” matched to local wines. For this evening only, the baku cook school will be set for a full dinner. kristinharrisonThis will be a full table service with all the finery of tablecloths, candles etc.

Tickets, which are limited to twenty eight (for seating purposes), cost $60 each and are available from the baku store, Queen Street, Richmond. This price includes the class, food and wines to match each course. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions of Kristin during the evening.
Please note tickets are non-refundable or transferable to a later class.

Operation Christmas Child

I know, I know – there’s still all that Halloween Stuff in the stores, so we can’t think about Christmas yet….

…except for just this one time, okay?

Operation Christmas Child is a fast, simple, and practical way that you can help out kids living in poverty in developing nations.

I mean, you just bought some new shoes, didn’t you? And they came in a box?
Right then, you’re already halfway there!

Pick a specific gender and age range: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.  Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box. [ download a label here ] and then fill the box with “stocking stuffers” – lots of little bits of pleasure for a child to enjoy – little toys, school supplies, luxuries we consider as everyday items, like soap and toothpaste, candy, hairclips,socks, etc. [more ideas]

Check out the linky for more details about how it works, where to drop off your shoebox full of joy, and more.

And, if you didn’t just buy shoes, you can have a shoebox filled and shipped for you here.

There. Now you can tell anyone who cares that you’ve already made a start on your Christmas shopping.

Thanks for your generosity!

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