Saturday, April 30, 2016

Potential Meme -girl self esteem

Before we get all hung up on blaming society,  magazines,  models,  and Hollywood... How about if we take a second to check what dear old dad has displayed as a fantasy woman? Frued wasn't entirely wrong,  after all. Is it a scientist of the month calendar hanging next to the tool box? I'm just putting it out there that whatever women a dad shows his daughter as his ideal is what she'll first strive to be when she hits puberty. That switch from wanting to be mom to wanting to be who dad defined as his fantasy. The moment it clicks in the mind that MOM ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. She didn't manage to remain the fantasy. (*There are men who manage to be the exception. Congratulations. There are also gay dads, but I'm not sure how they portray women to their daughters-- I imagine it varies.)

The good news is that a lot of girls grow up and get over this. We stop seeking that approval. Some of us just don't put up with not being the fantasy because we've realized that there's always some other guy out there who WILL treat us like the fantasy.

Just thought I'd share this insight after my dad has sent me yet another sexist joke which I've come to just roll my eyes at because I've long since realized that's the height of his regard. I love him, but he's beyond change. He grew up learning that this behavior was okay. If I had a son, I would hope to teach him better.

Seems society is going the way of just giving males the same body issues. No six pack abs, no love.

Survival of the fittest. We aren't beyond caveman instincts yet. We haven't become a world longing for technological and cultural advancement yet-- That's only some of us, not a majority.

Maybe one day.

#atozchallenge Zero Missed #wedding Photography Shots and My last budget tip for the A to Z of American Wedding Planning for People Who Make Under 30k a Year

Remember back during my letter S post?

You can reuse these wonderful volunteers at the reception! Lead people to the photobooth. Make sure they get in a picture at some point.

“Was Uncle Jim there?”
“I think so.”
“He’s not in any of the pictures.”
“But he just died! Why don’t we have even one picture?”

Don’t be that couple. Unless “Uncle Jim” has a legit reason for avoiding pictures (religious belief, witness protection, etc), be sure to snap at least one. The bride and groom do not have time to make sure this happens. But you can assign people to the task!

That was one of my tips for making sure you have a picture of everyone on your special day. The other tip is to give a list to the photographer.

But not just a list people you want pictures with, but also of pictures you want.

  • A shot of your wedding rings.
  • The groom tying his tie.
  • Father of the bride helping her with the veil.
  • The shoes of the bridesmaids.
  • Generation shot of Grandma, Mom, and Bride.
  • Little final touches like gems in your hair or a penny going in your shoe.
  • Picture of your invitations (though you could take that yourself).
  • Solo shots of wedding party members
  • The decor (you decorated for a reason!)
  • The food (I know, I know... but you'll probably forget in ten years otherwise)
  • Several angles of the cake
  • The special first dances
  • Pic of toasts, and the newlyweds listening to those
  • The bouquets
  • Cake cutting

 Any professional photographer will expect you to have such a list, and probably have dozens more ideas to add to it!

They are sticking around, after all. I mean, you're going to feed them.

Feed who?
Yeah. My last budget tip for the A to Z of American Wedding Planning for People Who Make Under 30k a Year is to remember to budget food for people you've hired. The minister and a plus one will probably expect it, even if they say they don't. The photographer almost certainly expects it. Catering staff might also require it. The DJ probably needs to be fed. You get the idea. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

#atozchallenge Youngsters at the #wedding

I've already mentioned children in previous posts.
Here's a quick list of tips!

  • Child meals should cost less. Check with whoever is charging you for food.
  • Children have allergies. Know about it beforehand.
  • Children are the most likely to blow wedding bubbles (or whatever you're using).
  • Children and alcohol do not mix. Carefully consider this if having an ice luge. 
  • Put some items under $10 on the registry so kids can chip in for a gift.
  • Children might have bedtimes, so parents might need to leave early. Plan accordingly.
  • If you expect more than 5 children, set up a "kid play area" for them.
  • Screaming babies are the #1 reason to ask about a closed-circuit feed of your wedding playing in another room. 
  • Flower girls and Ring Bearers need extra practice. Training. Not just one night before rehearsal.
Zip back tomorrow for a final photography tip.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#atozchallenge X at the #wedding

To invite or not to invite, that is the question.
No is the answer.
No, don't invite your X.

Why are you scrolling down here? Ohh... you want the eXceptions. Okay, here we go:

  • The X has switched gender preferences
  • The X is a family member and your other half insists on the invite for that reason
  • The X took a vow of chastity and is now "married to religion"
  • This is the only way your offspring with the X can or will attend

And that's it.

"But we're bestest friends now! Seriously, there's nothing going on."
Why don't you have that level of friendship with the person you're marrying?
"I haven't known my intended as long."
And you never will. That's how time works. You'll also never be older than your older sibling, unless the older sibling is a leap-year baby and even then it's a technicality.
"Yeah, but it's my wedding. I can invite whoever I want!"
No. You can invite whoever you and the person you are marrying choose to invite.
"But spouse-to-be said it's okay."
Was there guilt? Did the future other-half need to prove just how okay s/he is with you still being friends with the X?
"The X is helping to pay for the wedding. The X has access to a wedding-related thing and is giving it to us or discounting it, and therefore..."
*sigh* Now it's a debate between etiquette and the feelings of the spouse-to-be. Which matters more?
"Seriously though, my whole family and all my friends are cool with my X."
And are they equally cool with the person you're marrying? Or will breaking up with you seem like the best way to get these people to like him/her?
"But I'm happy now! I want to rub that joy in the face of my X."
Uh huh. That's not healthy. Please Google a therapist.

Do what you like. But as far as saving money goes, not inviting the X is one less meal to buy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

#atozchallenge W for wax seals and White House #wedding invitations

Wax seals look great when done properly. However, they may change the weight enough to increase the cost of mailing. Also important to note is that wax seals can't survive the fast sorting normal process of the USPS. You need to ask for hand stamping.

If you happen to like the President, you can send an invitation to the White House. The first family probably won't show up, or even personally see your invite-- but the correspondence office will send you a nice reply. Your tax dollars already paid for this, so you may as well enjoy the citizenship perk.
Send it at least 6 weeks in advance.
There are other non-W places you can send invitations to if these collections interest you.

Scorpion tv show Chevy vehicle

Question on @Quora: Which Chevrolet car in the show Scorpion does Walter drive (the "company car")? -April 2016 epi…

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#atozchallenge #weddings V for Veil, gloves, and shoes

There are many accessories for the wedding day. I'm not going to go into jewelry here. I'm just going to touch on the three disaster-averting accessories that my vast wedding knowledge encompasses.

Veil -- There are several lengths of veils. Not every bride wears a veil. Some brides have a blue trim on their veil.

Something borrowed
Something blue
Something old
Something new
And a six pence
for her shoe

When people hug you (during the receiving line just after the wedding ceremony), the hug pulls the veil. The longer the veil, the more pull you'll feel. If it isn't well secured in your hair, someone will pull it off. The line stops while that's dealt with. "OMG your hair! And just before pictures. I'm sooo sorry. Here, let me fix it." "No, let me." "Here, we can just do this..."

Prepare accordingly.

Gloves -- The trouble with gloves is dealing with them in addition to putting a ring on. The upside of gloves is for people who don't like to touch sweaty hands. You end up shaking a lot of hands. Some people are more germ-a-phobe than other people. Gloves don't just look elegant, they help with this sort of problem.

Shoes -- Wear comfortable shoes. Whatever type you normally wear is what you should wear this day. You'll be on your feet for most of it! Will people see your shoes? Depends on how long your dress is and how high you lift it when walking, getting out of vehicles, and or taking the stairs. At the very least, pack comfortable shoes in the Bride's Emergency Kit (see letter K). You might want them by that 30th dance after Uncle Ted steps on your toes.

Tune in tomorrow for information on Wax Seals and White house Invitations. 

Bout of books read-a-thon #amreading #boutofbooks

Yay for reading books!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Monday, April 25, 2016

#atozchallenge U for Unexpected #wedding fees

I talked about this a bit before, especially in letter D. I'm going to touch on it a bit more so you can avoid the pitfalls.

First- remember those wedding shows I talked about? Be careful about hiring anyone outside of your area. I knew a bride who got a great deal on flowers... until the transportation fee came later! 90-mile drive, both ways, at 50 cents a mile = an extra $90.

Another couple discovered there was a cost for cake cutting not previously disclosed. Tuxedo cleaning bill from the rental place-- yup, I've seen that. (And $7 for a pair of black socks!) A reception hall that charged a fee claiming the caterer broke the marble floor. (Luckily, the caterer saw it when he came in and had the good sense to get proof that it was like this upon entering and was not damage done by himself or his staff.) Corking fee-- that's when they charge to open bottles. Ice sculpture drainage fee (the most bizarre fee I've seen yet because, yes, it was a charge to put water down the drain). Clean up fee because the wedding left behind flower petals or the reception left behind glitter and confetti.

Final note- Postage. There are size and weight restrictions to determine if your invitations are First Class (normal rate) mail or not. Find out before you order or address them. It adds up quick! And if you've seen those adorable invitations in boxes and such, go check the price of mailing them before you invest. I'm not suggesting that you're the type of bride or groom who will spend $10 an invite to mail potatoes -- I'm just saying that if you ARE using to know what the price is upfront.

Tomorrow I'll venture into accessories-- veil, gloves, and shoes! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Skynet, Artificial Intelligence, Matrix - We are ruled

There are many movies that show Man creating a machine, giving it a way to "think," and then being conquered by the machines. Terminator,  Artificial Intelligence,  The Matrix, ... Seriously, it's a long list. We watch them and ask if it could happen. Then Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man makes us feel all better.

But here's the thing... Maybe we need to look more at where we are right now. Because people aren't going to be conquered directly. We rise up,  we fight back, we have spirit. Only someone or something that can break that can rule us.

John and I have health insurance. It is mandatory in the US to have. Not just because of some Obama Care law-- that is just what made it easier to get. You need it because without it, getting health care is like trying to eat the moon. I've been there.

Recently, our health insurance sent out computer generated letters that changed our prescriptions. Not just us-- everyone John works with who has a prescription got these letters. Our drugs that we need in order to live well have been changed.

Did our doctor decide this? No. Did any doctor look at a chart and make this decision?  No. Perhaps a pharmacist at least checked into all this to be sure it was safe? Nope, keep dreaming.

A computer made health care decisions. It decided to have people try other drugs. Not because the ones they are on were not working, not because the ones prescribed weren't in the best interest-- the computer looked at costs and decided that was all that mattered. Side effects and interactions be damned. I know this because I had to ask why John was put back on something he had been taken off of previously. It's cheaper. Never mind that it didn't work.

We are only human,  after all. Cheaper to kill. That is the logic of a machine-- to weigh the cost of continued life against the money saved. Numbers.

And because we aren't rich, we must obey. Comply or die. I had to fight in the system to get John the right drugs. His supply ran out in the meantime. My best friend had surgery last month. The products she is supposed to use to STAY ALIIVE haven't come. Computers held them up three times. She's had to call manufacturers and beg for samples. She had to beg for her life.

Tell me again how it's all just science fiction and how the machines couldn't possibly win.

We don't know how to turn them off, but we already can't outwit them.

#atozchallenge #wedding Reception T for Turning the Room

Today’s post is all about Turning the Room, tables, and seating charts.

Turning the room is when the wedding and reception are in the same place. Not just the same general location, but the SAME place! Guests come in. Chairs are in line facing the alter area. There’s an aisle in the middle or the sides. It’s set up for a wedding.

Then guests go out. The party takes a few pictures. Bride, Groom, and party leave for more pictures. A staff comes in and transforms the room into a reception hall.

And that’s what turning the room means. To turn the room from one function to another. Like making a sitting room into a dining room in a house just by rearranging some furniture and decorations.

The drawback is that the guests need to be entertained for that hour between while things are set up and the wedding party is having pictures done. I’ve never been to a wedding that did this well. I’ve been to a few that wished they had thought of it.

“We’re trying to get our pictures done. Please stop distracting the party. Hit on the bridesmaid later. No, it isn’t beer o’clock. Can you keep your kid over there? Yeah, tell me the story later. Sorry, I can’t selfie right now. The photographer leaves in TWENTY MINUTES. OMG where’s the Best Man?”

Look at your guest list. What will occupy those people for an hour? Is there an activity for the children? Are there appetizers? Will weather be an issue? Are you getting your pictures taken far enough away to avoid the party being distracted before you loose the light?

Maybe I sound like Debbie Downer, but I’ve seen these problems. My experience could save you. This is an opportunity to prevent disasters with just a little planning.

Speaking of preventing disasters with planning… THE SEATING CHART.
Use post-it notes or an easy to drag and drop program. You’ll be redoing that chart. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to redo it 14 hours before the reception. (Thanks, Dad. A last-minute invite was just what I was hoping for… especially since it’s someone I don’t know.)

Check out your family traditions! A few of them ask you to leave a chair for the “unexpected guest” or the ghost of a family member. There are some wonderful stories that will warm the heart if you look into this. Does it have to be a tradition from your family to adopt it? Nope.

How do you make a seating chart? Let me tell you the NUMBER ONE most important part. Nope, it isn’t names (that’s number two). It isn’t who is speaking to each other and who isn’t. It’s TABLE SHAPES AND SIZES!!!

Round table, square table, long rectangles locked together… without knowing the shape, you can’t manage to work out the sketch of the room. And without knowing how many people fit at a table, you can’t assign seats.

Yes, if you have more than 20 people total, you need to do this. Seriously.

Check with those guests from the H post. Does someone have hearing aids, and thus need to be away from the DJ to hear anything? Can a wheelchair guest get easy access to the bathroom and other areas?

Table numbers- The wedding party is at the head table. Parents are at table one.
Read it again. Parents are at table one. 1. Grandparents are at 1 or 2. Siblings are at 1, 2, or 3 (count up if you have lots of them and they aren’t in the party). If they land at any other number, the gossip hounds descend and feelings get hurt. I don’t know why people care, but they do. No matter where you opt to put those people in the room, that’s the table numbers they have.

Any questions?

Friday, April 22, 2016

#atozchallenge S for Sign the #wedding Guestbook

The wedding guest book does NOT have to be a book! Find a frame with a large mat to go around an 8x10 portrait (pic to be added after the wedding). Have everyone sign that. Or make a tree to go with a nature theme, and everyone signs in on the leaves. There are a million other creative ideas out there on this subject. And yes, you can do more than one. Yes, you can have guests sign in with colored pens. It’s your wedding, do what makes you happy and what fits your theme.
Here’s the big insider tip:
Get someone to stand there and tell people what to do. Don’t leave guests to guess. Even if it’s really simple. You know what’s simpler? Skipping it. And some people will.

This is what greeters are for. They aren’t actually part of your wedding party. But they dress nice (suit, pretty dress, or whatever the theme is) and welcome your guests to the wedding. These people (you want two, more if you have over 500 guests) hand out programs and corral guests to your signing area.

You can reuse these wonderful volunteers at the reception! Lead people to the photobooth. Make sure they get in a picture at some point.

“Was Uncle Jim there?”
“I think so.”
“He’s not in any of the pictures.”
“But he just died! Why don’t we have even one picture?”

Don’t be that couple. Unless “Uncle Jim” has a legit reason for avoiding pictures (religious belief, witness protection, etc), be sure to snap at least one. The bride and groom do not have time to make sure this happens. But you can assign people to the task!

Sometimes a DJ is also good for this. Back in the day of 35mm disposable cameras, DJs had “games” going that ensured at least 12 pictures were taken at each table. Pass the camera, scavenger hunt, etc. But it’s 2016! Go back to the Q post and see if you can come up with a creative way to deal with this.

Or… get it on the contract with the photographer. If that person has the help of your cousin who knows every family member and the groom’s friend from the neighborhood, between them they can figure it all out. Perhaps go over some of it beforehand. Give checklists. Again, consider that the greeters already know who’s there and who isn’t.

Last note- Greeters also bring your guestbook (or creative such item) to the reception for you. A handful of guests might not make it to both. Sometimes considered tacky, sometimes considered a blessing (screaming children), and occasionally just how life is (darn airline pilot cousin who didn’t land in time). If you have someone who is ridiculously organized, they can stand there with a list (perhaps on a digital tablet) and ask guests to verify their addresses for you. Helps when you mail those Thank You notes.

Is the reception in a different location? Tune in tomorrow to learn about Turning the Room.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#atozchallenge R is #wedding Reception parking and Restrooms

Back in the H post, I mentioned handicapped guests. I’m bringing them back up in case you have any and haven’t thought about their bathroom and parking needs. While you’re at it, check those bathrooms out! A kitchen is typically as clean and well-kept as a bathroom. Think about that if you’re ordering your food there. Women will especially comment on a nasty bathroom, and compliment a well-kept one. (A bar around me received a special local award due to the overwhelming number of women who voted it best bathroom in the area—it wasn’t even a category! Write-ins. Ha ha.) By the way, how big is your wedding dress? Can you, dear bride, and that dress fit into those stalls? Best to check before you put down hundreds of deposit dollars.

Back outside, count the number of parking spaces. Factor in the number of guests, and about how many cars they have. I’ve been to receptions with a shortage of parking. It isn’t pretty. I’ve seen cars getting towed. Heard DJs pause the music, “will the red Ford Mustang, plate A2ZR-0421 (ha) please move your vehicle out of the neighbor’s driveway.”

Planning avoids disasters. That could be your getaway car out there. The tow-truck taking away the Just-Married mobile and having to spend $500 to get it out… not the best way to start a marriage.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#atozchallenge Q is for QR code for #wedding #pictures


How tech savvy are your guests? If you’ve invited a room full of smartphone users, the chances are that’s a room filled with cameras.

“I took some pics. I’ll put it on Facebook for you.”
“Hashtag wedding pics are up on Twitter!”
“I selfied into some of your wedding pics and Mayfair filtered on Instagram.”

You get done with the wedding, possibly zip off to the Honeymoon, and it can be days before you search for those pictures. Newsfeeds bury them. What’s a newlywed to do?

QR Code.

Have a site. A location to get all your pictures. Whatever photo storage cloud you feel most comfortable using, and that other people can upload to without a password or complicated process. Don’t bother asking guests to type in a link… Silly, this isn’t 2006! Make a QR code and pass that out. Put it on the tables. Add it to the wedding programs. Make it known.

Not everyone will use it. But the more that do, the easier your life will be. Then you can gather all those pics together and wait for a sale at a site, such as ClarkColor or Walgreens, and then get prints at a discount.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Pots and Pans Scam #atozchallenge #wedding

In the letter A post I talked about wedding shows and all the great prizes there are to win. Today I’ll talk about the dark side.

There is a company that will rip you off. They sell very expensive cookware, sometimes that isn’t even dishwasher safe. It comes with a giveaway, allegedly, for a free Honeymoon * ß asterisk

Brides and grooms get called in for a presentation. That’s where you get some of your cookware and that magical honeymoon. And then the selling begins. Oh no, you don’t want to leave early! If you leave, you don’t get the magical unicorn’s free and super ultra awesome gift. (A bag of plain M&M’s when I went. Not even a big bag, a regular checkout size one.)

The one-two punch of cookware that you’ll be paying for indefinitely… seriously, it never gets paid off, the bills are like bunnies. It’s worse than an “of the month” club. And that Honeymoon that’s “free” … it barely even counts as a timeshare. You have a tiny window of time to choose from, usually during hurricane season, and it isn’t all expenses paid.  In fact, you’ll end up spending more just trying to get to an acceptable level of decent and safe.

So avoid this scam, or at least research with extreme vigilance. Get your pots and pans from a reputable location. Win a Honeymoon elsewhere. And never give out your credit card number or write a check to someone you don’t know. Identity theft and a hijacked credit score is no way to start a marriage.

The debate rages on at:

Tomorrow will be about QR codes and how they can help you get more wedding pictures!

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Offerings, Gifts, and Registries #atozchallenge #wedding

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone knew exactly what you wanted and needed for your wedding.

But they don’t. And they are probably poor guessers. “A can opener? Umm, sure, everyone needs to open cans.

That being said, there will always be some people who will get you whatever they feel like getting you and that’s that. My grandmother was well known for giving the same thing at every wedding shower. Brides got two laundry baskets filled with all the basic household items. Paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, coffee filters, pens, napkins, dish towels and wash cloths, etc. And that was great. Aunt Elinore crocheted blankets for all new couples-- that's absolutely priceless.

For the rest of us, there’s the gift registry. Pick a store, drag your other half along, and decide what you’d buy if you could afford it. Get a few less expensive items on there, especially if kids are coming. “But I wannnaa give them a gift toooooo.” And add two or three big ticket items. Your wedding party will probably chip in together to get you a big gift.

Speaking of, what gifts are you getting for them? On your wedding day, it is customary to give a little gift to your party. Engraved toasting glasses, flasks, fancy keychains, necklaces and cufflinks… If you’re looking for more ideas and ways to save money on this, here’s a link to Oriental Trading Co. I’ve mentioned that company before as a money saver.

If you get married in a religious establishment, it is generally customary to give an offering. The bride and groom put together the pre-determined amount of money and seal it in an envelope. The Best Man hands this to the officiant after the ceremony.

Join me for tomorrow’s post warning you about the Pots and Pans Scam.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Nutrition #atozchallenge #wedding

Yesterday I talked about a food horror story. Today I’ll discuss other foods at your wedding.

First off, look at the image I used for my logo for this series. It’s cookies and milk. You do not have to serve cake. There is a small percentage of the population that doesn’t even like cake. (What? Yes, really. Not, me. My friend JR @JRVincente of the ADULT blog doesn’t like cake. That wedding had Strawberry Shortcake, which isn’t really cake, and white chocolate dipped strawberries for feeding each other. The bride is allergic to chocolate.)

All that being said, the cake (or dessert of choice) will be heavily photographed by the guests. If you really like these guests, consider acquiring little take home boxes. “My husband Stan had to work at the hospital and couldn’t make it. Could I possibly take him a slice of cake?” Someone is going to ask you a question along those lines.

Who cuts the cake? Other than that first slice by the newlyweds, someone has to cut the rest of it. Work out beforehand if your caterer or baker will do this. There are also cases where the cake is fake! That’s right. It’s falling out of style now, but for awhile those big, beautiful cakes were Styrofoam with frosting and decorations. There’d be a sheet cake “in the back” which was served to your people. In some cases, this saved money. In other cases, this service costs extra. Check around.

Important note— there are MANY flavors of cake and icing available. Some have berries and nuts. If you are going to serve any of these, LET YOUR GUESTS KNOW before the cake cutting. Especially with nuts. So many people today have allergies. You don’t want pictures of Uncle Jim being carted away in an ambulance because there was almond extract in the cake.

Just the cake? Of course not. You might consider adding a food allergy line to your wedding RSVP cards. Might it cost a little extra to get cousin Timmy a gluten free, nut free, shellfish free plate? Maybe. Is it better than having Timmy in anaphylactic shock at your reception? Absolutely.

Appetizers should be considered if your guests will be sitting around waiting for the bridal party to get back from pictures. These don’t have to be expensive. Nor should they be overly filling. It could be bar snacks.

Speaking of which, you don’t have to have an open bar. Some people hear “open bar” and decide that it’s a good time to drink more than a college frat house does in a month. Then they drive. So here are some alternative ideas to start:

  • A partially open bar where only certain drinks are free, or the first two are free
  • A fountain with one kind of drink and a keg, but no other alcohol
  • A juice and smoothie bar (can get expensive)
  • A cider bar (excellent for autumn weddings)
  • A coffee and tea bar
  • A flavored water bar

For those of you who want to spend extra on drinks, check out ice luge drinking. A bartender (or whoever) pours the drink at the top, and it slides down the ice into a glass (or open mouth). Beware that children will want to try this, and pouring juice down the same slide that had alcohol is probably not a great idea. Plan accordingly.

Speaking of children… you aren’t paying the same rate for a plate of chicken nuggets as you are for the adult’s chicken cordon bleu, are you? Don’t get ripped off. And don’t pay for babies to get a meal. Parents bring their own food for babies. (Unless, perhaps, you are a baby food maker with a known artisan shop or something.) This is yet another question to add to your RVSP, if you plan to invite children to the wedding.

Tune in tomorrow for a discussion about Offerings, Gifts, and Registries

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Meat Undercooked Main Course #atozchallenge #wedding

Today’s post begins with a horror story.

Bride Janice served beef at her wedding reception. The reception was at a fire hall (common in Pennsylvania), but it was a new one, and most of the accompanying station wasn’t built yet. The beef was undercooked. Actually, it wasn’t cooked. It was rare. The plastic knives couldn’t cut it. The blood ran into the vegetables and mashed potatoes. My brother tried to cook his over a tea light candle. There were cows outside mooing, or maybe they were inside… But there was no real heat source at the location, so the meat couldn’t be cooked. 

Only a handful of guests bothered to eat this $75 a plate (she showed me the bill) meal. Since everyone was hungry, the reception didn’t last long. Well, that’s one way to get everyone to leave early. 

Bride Q served a 20 foot hoagie (submarine, hero) as a main course in her backyard reception. There was lemonade, some veggies and dip, and a tray of fruit. Everyone had their fill of food. People complimented her on how nice it was. 
Only in wedding planning do people consider paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for food they’ve never tasted and generally can’t send back. Be wary of any chef who will charge you for something but won’t let you taste test a sample first. Get three references from other brides who have used the chef’s service within the last six months. 

How is this a money saving tip? Food poisoning leads to hospital bills… so avoid one, avoid the other, and viola— you’ve saved yourself money.
You’re welcome.

Tomorrow will be a different discussion on food.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Quick Emotional Rant

If you're here for A to Z, keep scrolling. My blog is my safe place to scream when I can't take it anymore. Screams in typeface are the only kind that work for me.

I have a very large problem. I can't fix or deal with this problem on my own in the required time provided. I could,  maybe,  devote myself to learning two or three trades which would grant me the knowledge,  but not experience,  to take over. But there isn't time, nor do I have any genuine interest in those fields.

Ergo, I delegated the problem resolution to 4 adults. Two of them are passionate about solving this,  as it will forever improve their lives and solve most of their biggest and most immediate problems. The other two are experts with a century of experience between them.

So how in the hell is this coming back on me? How am I the one being tossed under the bus? Do I really have to do everything?  Am I going to have to start doing my own surgery next? Take spaceships up to repair satellites? I mean, really, at one point do I not have to do every freaking thing? I can't handle this.

L is for Limo #atozchallenge #wedding

Limousine, carriage, bus, car, van, tractor, horse... you're going to need transportation. (Unless the party is at your place.)

Some wedding dresses are not conducive to driving yourself. If you plan to do it, I urge you to try it out beforehand. Wedding days should not include a mishap where the bride’s gown gets caught under the gas pedal.

Consider how much transportation you need and when. There’s travel from wherever the bride and her party gets ready, and travel from wherever the groom and his party gets ready—to the ceremony location. Then there’s the ceremony, which might last up to three hours (depending on what you have planned). Next up is usually pictures, some of which will probably be at your ceremony site, and some which will require the party to visit another, more scenic, location. Then it’s usually on to the reception hall. Factor in at least five hours. Now everyone needs to get home. There may be various levels of sobriety to consider.

Limousine companies may charge by the hour, which can make this an impractical option. Research is needed to get the best deal. Generally, unless you ““know a guy”” this is just an outrageous expense.

A horse and carriage is slower than many people realize. (Unless you have grown up using this mode of transportation, and thus are familiar with the pace.) If your wedding ceremony is indoors, the carriage rolls up and no one even sees it. (Except for the photographer, if you’ve alerted him/her.) There’s also the weather to consider, because rain will be far worse in an open carriage. And the wind can do a number on your hair. Cinderella had a hair and make-up team, and plenty of movie studio people to fix strays and snags. If your heart is set on this option, it’s fine, just know what you are committing to.  Preparedness is the key to preventing most disasters.

Elephants will almost certainly require a permit. Be sure to check the laws and ordinances of your area before planning any non-motor-vehicle transportation. Also find out if your wedding procession is allowed to run lights and stop signs to keep in line. (Very rare.)

A popular money saving-option is to ask a few friends or family to serve as drivers. The cars are decorated (don’t ruin the paint, don’t ruin the paint, don’t ruin the paint), and these loyal people are devoted to hauling your party around all day. Select those who are okay with being designated sober drivers (if you’re serving alcohol).

If you can find a unicorn to serve as transportation, you should definitely do that. ;)

If you get the Chicago PD to drive you, you might be in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for the Bride Emergency Kit #AtoZchallenge

The more you search on this topic, the more great ideas you are going to find. Get a bag, purse, backpack, or whatever suits your need. Stuff it full of all the crazy stuff the bride might need. Label it "property of the bride," or something along those lines. Put someone in charge of the Bride Emergency Kit. (BEK)

Whoever is in charge of the bag brings it to the wedding and the reception. They will be seated moments before the "music change" when the bridal party comes in. (Someone you'll put in the front row by the parents is an ideal choice.) The person will tag along for pictures, even if they aren't in them. The person is the last to sit before the party officially enters the reception. You might have this "BEK" person leave the bag in the bathroom at that point.

What are the basics of this kit? Whatever you normally carry in your purse, plus whatever you might need on this day. Your medicine cabinet of usual remedies, make-up for touching up, tissues, extra stockings (if you're wearing them), ballet slippers for the reception, phone charger, chalk to cover any stains on the fly, scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape, a lighter, a bottle of water, your favorite snack bar/ nuts/ non-messy treat, the numbers of every business you've used for the event, a spare house key, safety pins, etc.

Play the "what would you do if" game. Watch the wedding fail videos and see how many of those terror-comedies could be avoided with some planning.

And to you guys out there, a Groom Emergency Kit can be a real lifesaver. What item could you forget that someone will give you a hard time about forgetting? Pin a list to the GEK and get your most reliable bro to make sure you have that stuff.

Tomorrow I'll talk about transportation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Jig "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" #wedding dance dancing #atozchallenge

Wedding receptions are for dancing. Some couples will splurge on special wedding dance classes at the community college. (Worth it if the class isn't too large and the instructor is good.)

My only word of caution here is about dance floors that are too slippery. One couple rented a dance floor that only the most daring guests used, but that was after several drinks. The bride fell twice during the first dance. My grandmother, while walking over to say hello to someone, stepped on the edge of the floor. She slid like a penguin across the room. This is my earliest wedding memory. (That, and it being crazy hot so everyone was at the bar. I drank pineapple juice over ice all night— the only non-alcoholic drink available. I did have my first sip of wine during the toast... thought it tasted like bleach.)


Your proximity to Bethlehem, PA is directly proportional to how you feel about that dance. Why? Because folks from that neck of the woods know about The Chicken Lady. She dressed in her chicken suit and walked around Musikfest teaching the dance to people.
Pennsylvania has some unique wedding reception traditions like that dance, or renting a fire hall or VFW as a location.

Unless you're opposed to music for religious or other such reasons, music at the reception is vital. A good band or DJ will have the skills to get your guests on the dance floor. They are also the ones who encourage guests to use the photobooth (if you have one), announce the bridal party as they enter, and alert everyone when it's time to cut the cake.

You could make your own playlist in advance. (Or go control-freak and burn 3 CDs with all the tunes you want played. Is that a control-freak moment? Radio stations hand lists to DJs saying which songs to play. Requests are played when you ask for a song on that list. It's rare a DJ gets to play whatever outside of college airways.)

A fun idea is to add a line on the RSVP asking guests if they have a special song. You could do that for everyone, or just for VIPs. Most bands or DJs aren't going to be able to play Grandpa and Grammy's wedding song without advance notice!

Also keep in mind that the best photographers will bring a ladder (or some other means) to capture a few overheard shots of people on the dance floor. You want to be sure the music will get folks to floor for that shot!

Which brings me to my final point on this subject. All those strapless dress look great in theory. But, before you commit to one for yourself or your girls, dance in it. Really dance. Get down with your bad self. Why? Because it's better to flash the dress shop than it is to flash an entire wedding reception where there are cameras and video everywhere. I strongly suggest that anyone over a C cup get straps. Unless, of course, you enjoy pictures where someone is tugging their dress up every twenty minutes.

Tomorrow is all about Bride Emergency Kits

Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Insurance #atozchallenge #weddings

You have a sparkling ring on your finger. Congratulations.

In some cases, it is protected by homeowners or renters insurance. Check the details of your policy. Jewelry stores often sell insurance as well.

Usually I'd tell you that, like most extended warranties, it's a waste of money. NOT THIS TIME!

Gwen worked as a chef at a popular restaurant. She had a 1 1/4 carat heart shaped diamond in her engagement ring. One night, while making a vat of vegetable soup, the diamond fell out.

Fortunately, it was insured. She went to Zales and had the gem replaced. The moral of the story is that, if he's buying the ring brand new from a reputable dealer, spending a few extra bucks for insurance on the gemstones is probably a good idea.

Also see if the store has free jewelry cleaning and inspections. Had Gwen gotten her yearly inspection, perhaps the flawed prong would have been spotted and I wouldn't have that horror story to share.

There is also insurance for your wedding itself. I have never used it, nor known a bride who has, so I cannot speak with authority on the subject. There's a link for those who wish to research the topic.

Enough of this scary topic! Tomorrow's post is all about dancing.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Handicapped #atozchallenge #weddings

If you do not know anyone with special needs, congratulations and feel free to skip this letter.

When I was planning my wedding to fiancé 1, we had to look for places with handicapped access. His cousin failed to do that. As a result, their grandfather couldn't attend that wedding. (Grandpa didn't want to be carried around all night. Plus, his chair and equipment were very heavy.)

Think about your guests. Do you have family members in a wheelchairs? Ones that use a walker or cane? Will they be able to get to the bathrooms with ease? Is there parking for them? Guests with hearing trouble might not be able to sit by the speakers at the DJ Booth.

Though I'll mention it again in N, I'm going to bring this up here, as well: Food Allergies. Consider asking about those on the RSVP cards. If Aunt Marge has a severe nut allergy, and you serve pecan-crusted pork chops, there might be an ambulance in your wedding photos.

Planning avoids disasters such as this.

More disasters will come up tomorrow on the Insurance post.

Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Glitter and Decorations #atozchallenge

Glitter, glitter everywhere, and not a way to clean every spec.

Before you decide that there's going to be a sparkling layer of glitter on every wedding item you acquire, I urge you to check with your ceremony and reception location. There may be policies against glitter, confetti, and other "hard to clean" items.

I give you this tip from personal experience. I bought a 2 ounce bag. It had about 200 confetti cutouts of a bride and groom, each roughly the size of a dime. I taped them on the disposable tablecloths of the 14 tables. Which means that each table of 6 had about 14 pieces of confetti. Yet, somehow, that confetti crept into places no one thought to look. I had a clean-up crew of ten people. They swept and mopped. Somehow enough confetti was still found the next day to warrant a $300 clean-up fee.

Does that sound bad?

Here's a story about Bride E. Her wedding party taped streamers to the wall and sprayed silly string around. (It was the '90s.) She received a bill for $12,000 in repairs. The tape, allegedly, pulled the paint off the wall. And the silly string, supposedly, discolored the carpet.

Get your decorations approved, in writing, including the methods of which they'll be hung or used, before you decorate.

That includes aisle runners and thrown flower petals. (I'm not kidding.)

Actually, an aisle runner is something I advise against. There's a danger that someone will trip on it. And what are you going to do with it after the ceremony? Trash it, probably.

While we're discussing dangerous items: balloons. Latex allergies are on the rise. If a balloon pops, it's a choking hazard for youngsters. They absolutely will not last beyond the one day. Unless you or your intended has a serious love of balloons, skip this item.

I'm giving that link again because they have spectacular deals on wedding decorations. HAVE YOUR BUDGET DONE FIRST. (See letter B.) You'll find ideas you never even thought of on that site. Always ask yourself why you really want it, what it will contribute to the day overall, and how long it will last.

If you think most guests will remember what decorations you hung from the back of the chairs... unless those bows catch on fire, don't count on it. They probably won't even appear in pictures. How much are you willing to spend on something that will be overlooked and forgotten? Consider that when decorating.

Tomorrow I'll discuss consideration for certain guests.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Favors #atozchallenge

There are favors at the wedding and favors at the reception.

Wedding favors are typically bubbles. Your guests get them as they exit the ceremony area. Some places allow birdseed, confetti, glitter, or other such items. (Rice has been found harmful to birds, and thus has been outlawed in many areas.)

Wedding bubbles come in a huge variety of containers. There are different toppers, there are heart shaped bottles, and there are even ones that look like champagne bottles. If you’re going this route, you should buy in bulk.

A note on customization- very few people are going to save the bottle of wedding bubbles. It opens and gets soap all over those labels for which you paid extra. The guests already know what wedding they are at. These favors are an ideal place to save money. Dollar stores sometimes have a case of 100 bubble bottles for $1. Or check out the deals at

The pictures at that bubble-blowing moment are going to be of the bride and groom having bubbles blown at them. Little white bottles are not the focus. It’s easy to get caught up in the cuteness.

Consider that some guests won’t even take the bubbles. I’m not kidding about that. Wedding bubbles are blown by the “fun, extrovert” guests. I’ve seen it time and time again. If you are not inviting children, and everyone on the list is a conservative introvert, it’s possible that you’ll be left with a basket of soapy bottles that no one used. Know your guests. Or, if you really want those bubbles in the pictures, ask/guilt a few people beforehand. “You’ll blow bubbles for the pictures, right?”

Then there are favors at the reception. Here’s where I’ve seen several couples go way overboard. “Some people didn’t even take them!” Hear that cry of bride B. She spent $50 on wedding favors PER PERSON. Don’t ask me why. But she did. The favors were custom made boxes with a copy of the engagement photo, filled with custom candies, and sitting on a plate next to small bottles of wine with custom printed labels.

Before you think about how nice that sounds, reread her cry. “Some people didn’t even take them!” How much are you willing to pay for something that your clean up crew (which might be your wedding party, depending on how you plan) has to chuck out with the trash?

With the trash.


Okay, now that you know this, you are ready to shop for those reception favors. Those cardboard boxes don’t look so bad.

Except someone has to assemble them. Keep this in mind, too, when deciding on your wedding favors. Unless your bridesmaids are especially crafty, you might be pushing the boundaries of friendship when asking them to assemble 100 of those little things the weekend before the wedding.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about glitter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Elope #atozchallenge

If you haven't thought about it yet, you probably should.
Weddings are expensive. They are stressful.

Here's the first thing to do:

Write down why you want to have a wedding. Not why you want to get married, not why you're in love, but why you want to spend your time and money on a wedding. It's a gathering that lasts a few hours. The memories last a lifetime, but the wedding and reception are fairly short. A house can last a long time, too. So can a new car. The down payment for either of those can be equal to the amount of money spent on a wedding. So the first thing you need to do is figure out WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS.

Hang on to that. You're going to need to look back on it as you plan. It'll help.

But what if you have no reason? Or what if that reason stops mattering? Maybe you've discovered that your guest list is full of people who you wouldn't spit on if they were fire, much less invite to a huge party with $40 a plate dinners for which you're the one paying.

Then it's time to think about eloping.

I could talk about a Wedding-Moon here, but I've never seen an inexpensive one. So I'm just going to talk about eloping.

Get a marriage license from City Hall and have a judge perform the service one afternoon.

Or elope in Las Vegas. There are several other cities that offer quick weddings on the cheap, saving you thousands of dollars and plenty of headaches.

Check the policies of states near you. Will they marry out-of-state residents, is there a waiting period, and do you need a blood test or other items to marry?

A wedding at sea is actually much harder than Hollywood would lead you to believe, so do quite a bit of research if you plan to go that route. There are also Internet wedding services that are legal in some areas.

It never hurts to have a backup plan.

Check back tomorrow for information about wedding favors, assuming you haven't been talked out of a wedding yet! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Dress Rip-offs #AtoZChallenge

"The Davey& Goliath Dress Shop is having a $98 gown sale!"

Yeah, I'm sure they are. First off, notice the fine print on the sale ad. Dresses START at the low price. This means two things. One- some of those dresses are going to cost more than $98, many of them, in fact. Two- That's the price for the dress as is, so don't think one Benjamin is gonna cover you. Okay, yes, some brides get lucky. Some brides find the perfect dress at those sales and it fits.

Other brides find a dress that they somewhat like and it sort of fits. Then "Davey& Goliath" offers their in-house tailoring and custom alterations. Suddenly the sale price isn't as spectacular. There are add-in and fees that come out of no-where, and that $98 dress now costs $300 and still doesn't fit right.

I've seen it happen. A bride I knew got so frustrated that she stormed out of the store, walked through the parking lot to a department store, and bought a white sundress off the rack and got married in that. There's nothing wrong with that choice, but her bridesmaids were wearing very elegant gowns and she was in a $12 sundress. She still curses "Davey& Goliath" (not the real shop name) to everyone who will listen. If you search, you'll find her complaints and warning on numerous websites.

There was a wedding I was in a few years ago. My bride and our party went to "Davey& Goliath" to look for dresses. We found a purple gown that looked good on all of us and was affordable. Orders were placed. Money was exchanged. The dresses did not come. First it was that they no longer had the color (watch a bride change the entire color scheme of her wedding in tears at such news), then they lost the order, then the wrong dresses showed up, two of them with the wrong sizes. And that was it. My bride switched dress shops and we all ended up wearing red (the color that was, allegedly, in stock — because she wasn't going to change the scheme back again now). (PS— The bride mentioned here still complains 16 years later about those red dresses, and that "Davey& Goliath" couldn't give us those beautiful purple ones.)

Shop with care. Have someone reputable who won't rip you off do the alterations. And get the dresses in hand as far in advance as possible. If "Jane" manages to lose those ten pounds, she can get her dress resized later. But not too much later— leave time for disasters! Plan for the best and expect the worse.

Tune in tomorrow for a discussion on Eloping.

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Crinoline, Custom Dresses, and Crazy Trains #atozchallenge


Wedding planning really is all about THE DRESS. I’ve seen it time and time again. Everything is just a vague pile of ideas and dreams… then the bride finds THE DRESS and everything falls into place.

(I don’t know what the equivalent of this is for weddings with all tuxes. If someone can enlighten me, please do so. I love to learn!)

Summer or Winter? Beach or Church?
THE DRESS provides answers.
Crazy train lengths, for example, are called “cathedral” for a reason. Trying to drag that monstrosity through the sand isn’t just difficult, it’s dangerous. (Ask the bride who had to be cut out of her dress to avoid drowning to death. There’s a fun view for your guests- NOT.)

There is no law about wedding fashion. I know a couple who got married wearing NASCAR gear. (They have a connection to the sport.) My cousin attended a skydiving wedding ceremony- no fluffy white dress at that party! 

Wondering what the deal is with white? In the olden days it was a sign of virginity. That’s what people mean when they say cruel gossipy things like, “I can’t believe she wore white!You don’t need to invite those kinds of people. Let me say it again- There is no law about wedding fashion. (At least not in a majority of America— feel free to check for obscure or bizarre laws at your leisure.) Some cultures and religions do have traditions, but only you can decide if that's something you want to embrace. Red, the symbol of love and prosperity, is the dress color of choice in Chinese culture and an auspicious choice for much of India.

What gives flouncy dresses that huge poufy shape? Crinoline. Some women have never heard of this before. There are many dresses out there that are designed to have this extra piece worn underneath. It usually doesn’t come with the dress, so you might need to budget for one. They come in various shapes and sizes depending on the dress style you’ve selected. Someone will likely need to climb under your wedding dress and fix all the layers of the crinoline when you first get dressed.

Combine crinoline and a crazy train and you’ve got a problem that might not have occurred to you, dear bride. You can’t go to the bathroom alone. Someone has to hold up all those fluffy layers, or help you in and out of this. And before you even think it—no, you should not go the whole day without liquid. HYDRATION MATTERS.

Some brides are okay with this buddy system scenario. Others will opt for a “little less dress” and a product called the Bridal Buddy which helps you lift up your dress. And then there are those who will wear the big gown for the ceremony and pictures, and then change into a casual dress for the reception.

Which brings me to the final C­­—custom dresses. There exist, in some places, dress shops where a seamstress will customize a dress for a fraction of the cost of buying a new one and having it altered. These shops purchase dresses at a discount and resell them. Usually the dress is new. Sometimes it was worn once. Occasionally it was ordered but never worn. Seek these shops out to save big. Tomorrow we’ll discuss Wedding Dress rip-offs.