How To Live Happily Ever After

Happy Valentine’s Day, bah humbug. It’s really foolish to measure the success of your relationship by the way you celebrate Valentine’s day, or even by how beautifully you plan your wedding. No matter how carefully chosen, flowers wilt, and chocolates turn into nothing more than a boxful of empty wrappers [though, okay, diamonds are pretty much  forever!].

I wonder if I’m such a Valentine’s Day grinch because I’ve seen so many putting all their energy into one or two elaborately planned days without making any real plans for the success of  “the rest of their lives”?

No matter how much [or little] you’ve already spent on each other this Valentine’s Day, we’re encouraging you to invest in the future of your relationship. To help with that, The Wedding Whisperer is offering 20 couples a comprehensive “Couple Check-Up” at the rock-bottom price of just $20 each! [details after the jump]

The Couple Check-Up is like a W.O.F. for your relationship – a checklist to keep you on the road to a successful relationship. It’s a way to recognise and celebrate your relationships strengths, as well as identify and resolve any problems before they become major issues.

Here’s why The Wedding Whisperer recommends The Couple Check-Up

It’s private: You access the Couple Check-Up from your own computer, so you don’t have to wait around an appointment, or hash out your relationship history to a total stranger. The Couple Check-Up is entirely self-managed, totally DIY unless you request the input of a facilitator, or decide you need the assistance of a professional counsellor.

It’s personal: Rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution, the Couple Check-Up compares the answers you and your fiancé give, making the Couple Check-Up totally relevant to your relationship, taking into account factors such as how long you’ve been together, whether you have children, and so on.

It’s practical: The Couple Check-Up evaluates 20 core areas of your relationship such as, the way you handle conflict, gender roles and expectations, finances, in-laws, etc. Just answering the questionnaire will stimulate you to think more about your relationship. The results are available to you within minutes, and presented in an easy to understand format, with discussion questions to help you make your relationship even better.

It’s precise: What began as a pencil and paper inventory has now had more than 20 years of scientific research, testing and use. The Wedding Whisperer recommends using the Couple Check-Up on a yearly basis, creating an accurate snapshot of your relationship, making it easy to celebrate the growth of your relationship, and setting a pattern of open communication to last beyond your 50th wedding anniversary.

The fine print:

The Couple Check-Up is available at the price of $20 each [$40 / couple] to the first 20 couples who register with The Wedding Whisperer between 14 February 2011 – 14 March 2011. Couples may be dating, engaged, de-facto or already married. Upon registration and payment, couples will receive a link and a log-in code for the online Couple Check-Up.
Both partners must complete the online inventory process in order to receive their results.
Evaluations will be emailed to the address provided by the couple.
Payment can be made online or in store.

To register, or just find out more,  phone: 03 545 7531 / 021 027 04638, email: checkup@theweddingwhisperer.co.nz, or enquire in person at The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store, Waimea Road, Nelson

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A quiet hour to work on invites

Following on from the word-smithing workshops, I spent a quiet hour brainstorming invitation working on invitation wording with a bride (let’s call her Jess) and her family.

Although this couple’s specific circumstances are unique, the fact is that the traditional wording rules don’t fit many modern families anymore. I’m sure there are things in this bride’s story that will have relevance for many other couples, so I thought I’d include it here.

Invitation etiquette dictates that whoever is paying for the wedding is technically the Host, and as such, gets to have their name/s as the invitees on the wedding invitation. Jess, her fiance Steve, and all their parents are chipping in towards the cost of the wedding, so the options are fairly wide open.

Jess has a close relationship with her parents and wants to include them by name in her invitation wording.  And here’s where it starts getting tricky, because Jess’ parents divorced when she was still in school, and her mother has remarried. Jess has an excellent relationship with both her stepfather and her Dad’s longtime partner, considering them all to fall into the parents category, so she would like to include them also.As far as I am aware, there is no standard formula that fits the simple math of four different first name/last name combinations, just on the brides side!

I very sensibly suggested using a simple catch-all of “Jess and Steve, along with their parents…” And that’s where it started getting tricky.

While it shouldn’t matter one bit that Jess’ Dads partner happens to also be male, Jess and Steve both understand that  Jess ‘s side of the family have had the luxury of several years to get used to the idea, where almost no one on Steve’s (quite conservative) side of the family have any clue about the dynamics of Jess’ family. Jess and Steve reason that by including these details, calmly and without comment, in the invite, they can perhaps help one part of the process of smoothly joining two quite different  families.

To some extent they’re right.  A clearly worded invitation is one way of saying “Jess has a Dad who happens to be gay, and we’re perfectly fine with it”, without directly making a big issue out of the fact.

In theory that means that if anyone chooses to be scandalized, then they can quietly decline the invitation (or have histrionics if they must) well away from the wedding itself. This is the beginning of paving the way for an open and honest relationship between the two families, promoting tolerance in both directions – Jess isn’t aiming to shock the conservatives in Steve’s family, but she’s also not wanting to create a situation where her family is required to justify, defend, or explain themselves.

In the end, it’s a fairly long invitation, but it’s a thing of great beauty, and I sincerely applaud this young couple for their sensitivity to the needs of their guests.

What Could YOU do with One Quiet Hour to Work on Your Wedding?

The Wedding Whisperer recently launched a service called ‘One Quiet Hour’, where The Wedding Whisperer meets with a bride, or couple, or whomever, to intensely work on the current challenge they are facing in their wedding planning process. There are so many different strands to keep track of that you can begin to feel completely overwhelmed.

A Quiet Hour gives you 60 minutes of expert advice that you can really trust, based on the experience of hundreds of weddings. Even if you’re doing something totally and completely different [and to be honest, that’s rarer than you’d think] there’s still a wealth of knowledge that can be applied. You’re not expected to be an overnight expert – and, since you’re not planning on doing this again any time soon, it makes sense to tap into The Wedding Whisperer’s wisdom and experience, rather than racing around re-inventing the wheel.

The Quiet Hour is charged out at $35 per hour and makes a fantastic gift, if you’re standing on the sidelines of wedding planning chaos and unsure how you can help.

Depending on the subject, it can take place at The Corner Store, at the wedding or reception venue, or in your home, at whatever time is appropriate. You can bring as many others along as you wish – depending what you’re working on, you might need to get your team all on one page, or just have a bit of  a heart-to-heart about some of the details – it’s really up to you!

I’m dedicating a section to the Quiet Hour, because, so far the situations I’ve brainstormed are fairly common challenges. I plan to blog some of the more generic tips and tricks, which may be enough to get you going again, or perhaps highlight how much you could do with a little bit of extra help.

Watch this space for some of the challenges other couples have overcome [No revealing details, I promise!], or make an appointment for your own Quiet Hour, and get your momentum back!

November: Word-smithing Workshops

Over the past 10 years, I’ve spent countless hours placing words side-by-side, shaping sentences full of elegant, heart-felt words for weddings. It’s hard to remember back to those early days when I would sit in front of a blank sheet of paper and feel nothing but the pressure of expectation.

Maybe you can relate to that feeling?

If you have a blank page task ahead of you, The Wedding Whisperer’s November workshops may be just the thing you need – brainstorming and capturing those elusive phrases for your wedding vows, speeches, invitation wording, even for thankyou notes, or love letters – whatever words you’re struggling to get out of your head and onto the page – this workshop is for you!

$15.00 per person [one-to-one workshop option available – please enquire]

register here: tinyurl.com/wordsmithing

7.30 in the evening, Wednesday 17th or Sunday 21st November, or in the afternoon, 1.00 Wednesday 17th November

Register now so you don’t miss out – places strictly limited!

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!

Scraps of great advice

I’ve just finished updating The Wedding Whisperer’s wedding planning and ceremony planning scrapbooks for The Corner Store.
Phew! What a task. But, WOW! what a lot of information they hold!

Working through the scrapbooks has reminded me just how much stuff I hold in my head – the various ideas and bits of experience I’ve picked up over the past dozen years [and hundreds of weddings] I’ve been involved in.

It’s been such a privilege to have been part of so many different weddings – I’m so grateful to the brides and grooms who have allowed me to learn from their mistakes and their successes, and I don’t take lightly the responsibility I feel to pass that knowledge and experience on to other couples. That’s one of the reasons why The Wedding Whisperer exists – and why the bridal advisory service will always be free and accessible for anyone planning a wedding.

But I’m also realising just how much specialised experience I have. I’ve assisted at beach weddings in howling gales and blue sky days, I’ve officiated at churches and motorbike rallies, I’ve coped with naked gate-crashers, rambunctious dogs, drunken bridesmaids, torn trousers, oil stained gowns – you name it, and I just bet I have an experience to draw on!

So I figure it’s time I start making that available too. The recent workshop series was just one of the ways we’re working to get that information out to brides and grooms to be. In addition to that, The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store also  more in-depth, personalised wedding planning services:

The Quiet Hour: For those times when you need a little extra professional help – a calm voice of experience to get you through the next challenge in your wedding plans. A Quiet Hour may be all that you need to stay on track, whether it’s help with cake tasting or ceremony content, writing your speech, wording your invitations, creating seating plans, brainstorming solutions with fresh, unbiased eyes – whatever it is that you’d like some help with.
By appointment only.   [$35 / hour]

The One Wedding Workshop: A one-on-one planning workshop customised for your wedding, and delivered in the location of your choice. Tailored to suit your requirements, for example: Compare venues with an expert at your side, or create a detailed timeline for your day. A One Wedding Workshop brings you expert advice for all aspects of your wedding planning.
By appointment only.  [$90 / up to three hours]
You’re always welcome to come into the store, curl up on the couch and browse the stacks of bridal magazines, albums and scrapbooks there, to bounce ideas and work on the next stage in your wedding plans. Pop in, call or email The Corner Store for really good free advice, information and inspiration.

I look forward to working with you on your wedding plans!

Wedding Planning Winter Workshops: Event planning and dressing the venue

The second workshop in the 2010 winter series was, if that’s even possible, better than the first!

I adore watching what happens when you get a bunch of passionate professionals in the same room, working together to help couples create the day they’re dreaming of! You really had to be there. But, because I know you can’t be everywhere at once, here are a few soundbites from this week’s expert panel:

Debbie Cooper, Sun City Cakes; on “finding your theme”

A theme doesn’t mean ‘mediaeval’ or ’70’s Disco’. But your wedding will have something that is the key component around which the rest of the event will be built. That may be the time of day you are able to hire the veune you’re set on – if you can only be there at 10am, then your theme will build around a morning wedding. If you choose a historic house or a castle as your venue, then your theme might build around a fairytale [or steam punk] wedding.
The key can be anything – at a recent wedding, the bride wanted her sister as matron of honour. The sister lived in another country, and was 22 weeks pregnant. So, the bride asked her sister to go shopping for a dress to wear to the wedding, and tell her what she’d brought. The dress her sister found was purple. And so, the colour theme for the wedding was… yep, purple.
Sometimes the theme will be dictated by your own choices, sometimes by constraints put on you by the venue, time of year, your budget – whatever. But once you become aware of those key things that you can’t [or won’t] change – those are the things that shape your theme, and if you build your celebration on those things, your event will come together beautifully.

Sue and Leah, Got It Covered; on “delegating the setup”

Often, brides will see a setup in a bridal magazine, and want to replicate it. You have to remember that most of the time, those are artificial set-ups – with no indication of how much time or money went into creating that look. They are perfectly lit, and often totally impractical for actual use! For example, you’ll almost always see a full set of plates set on the tables, which look good, but in reality, plates aren’t even part of the table setting – they’re part of the food service. So copying those table set ups just won’t work, no matter how beautiful they are.
It can be hard to find the balance between having too many different components, which will look messy and cluttered, or too few, which can look bare and stark, but it’s often not until you see it all set out that you can make that call. On the morning of your event is far too late to be changing your mind! It’s a good idea to go somewhere like ‘Got It Covered’ and try out lots of variations of your setup until you’re satisfied that you’ve got it right.

Sarah Lilla, Willow Floral Design; “on flowers for the venue”

Don’t be scared to ask your florist for advice – they will know what is in season around your wedding date, and may be able to suggest a look-alike to substitute for an expensive or out of season bloom.
Give them plenty to work with – a photo of your gown, a sample of the fabric colours, and so on, so that they can create an arrangement that really complements your style.
Different kinds of bouquets and posies are designed to be carried in different ways. Practice with your bouquet, in front of a mirror, so that you know exactly how to carry your bouquet for greatest effect. And get your bridal party to practice too – it looks better in the photos if they’re all holding their flowers at the same height and angle!
Your guests will spend most of their time sitting at their tables, so give careful thought to the decoration.  Any flowers on the tables should either be very low, or very tall in thin vases, so that your guests can see and hear each other across the table.  If you’re on a limited budget, it doesn’t really make sense to have your wedding florist making up table decorations – that’s a bit like paying an artist to paint your hallway!  That’s a task that can be delegated to a willing Auntie or friend.

Felicity, Flossie Balloons; on “uncommon spaces”

Balloons are a really effective way to add impact to a room. Because they are light and relatively inexpensive, you can create dramatic effects that draw the eye away from any less desirable aspects of your venue, filling in bare ceiling space or dim corners, or defining entrances and focal points in the room. Balloon sculptures can be made in almost any colour, to complement the flowers and other decor you’ve chosen. They can be fun and frivolous, or formal, with sweeping arches, and towers.

Note from Ang: “Flossie the Balloon Lady” is also a great choice for children’s entertainment that doesn’t wind the kids up and have them running around screaming boodeley-boodeley-boodeley until they throw up. You’d be amazed at what passes as children’s entertainment in SOME circles. But as I say, Flossie doesn’t do THAT!

Matthew Kenyon, Flaming Hot Catering also served up some absolutely stunning nibbles which included the cutest miniature cheeseburgers I’ve ever seen, and bite sized blueberry cheesecake to die for! So many different options, that I don’t think I managed to try them all [though I promise, I did try!]

I keep hearing such great reports about Flaming Hot Catering, and based on the samples Matthew served up, I can completely understand why!

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