Archive for February, 2008

Is This a Wedding Or a Funeral? The Dos and Don’ts of Memorials at Festive Events

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

It seems of late that more and more bridal couples plan to memorialize deceased relatives and friends at their weddings. In fact, some are spending so much time memorializing the dead that it’s hard to keep track of the fact that a wedding is not the same thing as a funeral. More and more companies that provide goods and services to brides are selling memorial items specifically designed for weddings.

But what is really appropriate? Where is the line between honoring those we loved who cannot be with us and turning a wedding into a mass memorial service? Well, I have a few tips that may help you find the balance you’re looking for.

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LOVE/HATE: the barely there edition

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

In the pages of yesterday’s NYT, I learned that brides want to look HOT. Not wedding-y hot, with a saucy little dip in an otherwise pretty neckline, but ‘going to the gym seven days a week for five months’ hot. They want to be sure that if Paris Hilton looked them up and down in their wedding garb, her response would be, “That’s hot.” I’m talking about bare bellies, skirt slits that go alllll the way up, dips that end just above the butt crack, and mountains of cleavage.

Does this herald a few more trips to the gym?

Today’s brides, if the NYT has indeed hit upon an actual trend that will shortly trickle down to the masses, want to show some skin. I’m not entirely sure I buy that, however. It seems that every time I hit ya’ll up with dress that looks like it ought to be hanging in some Las Vegas showgirl’s closet, your response is rather negative. You gals have made it pretty dang clear that you want some sleeves and you want them now. The way I see it, brides-to-be encounter these gowns (and I actually think the middle one is lovely) and their perception of wedding garb is subtly changed.

To accommodate [these brides], the once rigidly corseted bridal industry has loosened its stays. At the spring bridal shows in New York last October, tastemakers like Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra, Angel Sanchez and Carolina Herrera unveiled a preponderance of strapless styles, trumpet shapes and even a few above-the-knee looks. More-daring designers offered filmy peignoir dresses, two-piece looks and skirts slit all the way to the hip.

I’m cool with plunging necklines, shorter skirts, and even backlines that test how low you can go. But the midriff baring panels, exposed boning, and those dangerously high thigh slits? They, in my opinion, have got to go.

An oft-repeated legend debunked

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

While researching nuptial facts for a possible second book, I came across one sorry tired old piece of washroom wisdom. The myth in question? That sweet little birdies will gorge themselves on tossed rice, which then expands in their tummies, killing them in a variety of ghastly ways.

Could someone tell that to all of the birds that live near rice paddies and rice processing plants because they don’t seem to have gotten the message. From Truth or Fiction: “The folks at Birder’s magazine, Birdwatcher Digest, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the USA Rice Federation all agree: Rice causes no harm to birds. There are varieties of birds that routinely eat rice in the wild and with no harm. As one observer put it, if rice caused birds to explode, there would be bird parts all over Asia.”

Aren’t they sweet?

That doesn’t mean rice rules. It’s outlawed in many venues because it makes for slippery sidewalks and is a real pain to clean up. Plus, it gets EVERYWHERE (as does birdseed, by the way). For those who think a wedding is no wedding at all unless people are allowed to chuck stuff at the newlyweds, there’s always biodegradable confetti, rose petals, designer wedding “rice”, lavender, and non-staining bubbles

Better yet, don’t toss anything at all. Wave a handkerchief at the departing couple or blow them a kiss. A brief search reveals blogs and forum posts by former brides who had a dickens of a time picking the rice out of their updos and the lavender bits out of their bodices.

And some of those bell-shaped bubble blowers? I don’t want to alarm you, but be careful where you source them. Most wedding bubbles are made of so-called dry soap that won’t leave any wetness behind, but that’s most, not all. Before you invite your guests to pelt you and your sweetie with a barrage of bubbles, test your batch by blowing a few onto a tissue or piece of scrap cloth.

…as an aside, if you’re feeling charitable, I received an e-mail from a certain Amena and Chris, who are endeavoring to win a wedding giveaway by attracting enough votes. Should you feel so inclined, follow the link and give them your vote. Normally I wouldn’t link to something like this — I don’t know them from Adam, after all — but I rather admired the spunk they displayed by e-mailing to ask for help from the blogging world.

When in-law relations get ugly, commiserate!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Here’s a tip from me to you: If you just adore your future in-laws, you have been wonderfully blessed and perhaps M.I.L.D.E.W. isn’t for you. In fact, reading the tales of woe over at that impressively tragic blog might just frighten you so much that you simply cannot bring yourself to utter a peep in front of your SIL, causing her to forevermore think of you as stuck up, stupid, or worse.

Steer clear of the fighters in his/her family

Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have great in-laws all around. Maybe your MIL is really the pits but your SIL has become your best friend. Or maybe you really feel a connection with your FIL that just isn’t there with the rest of the family. People are only human, and the likelihood of your liking every single one of your spouse-to-be’s relations is pretty darned slim.

Infer from this what you will, but I do enjoy stopping by M.I.L.D.E.W. to read through the new entries. If it happens that you fall into the second category of people (i.e., the “er, my in-laws are…okay, I guess” category) you may come to realize that you’re not alone after reading tales of horror like this one:

Right before my wedding, my MIL kept asking me if DH and I had had our blood tests. I kept patiently explaining to her that in California, you don’t need a blood test to get married. Finally she came out with her true worry, at SIL’s house and in front of Grandma.

She asked, ‘Have you had an AIDS test?’

She was certain that DH and I were ‘doing it’ and that I was giving DH all kinds of cooties. We weren’t and I wasn’t. DH had gone over that with her when we announced our engagement and she asked me (the second we were alone together, of course) if I was pregnant.

Now it warms my heart to see all of the pro in-law comments that come rolling in whenever I post about in-laws, but I know there is a whole contingent of people out there who reside on the other side of the MIL/FIL/SIL/BIL fence. I ask you…no, wait, I’m begging you to weigh in. Don’t worry, we’ll protect your privacy!

Give guests options to get good gifts

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

An individual going by the mysterious moniker of Again recently shared some nuptial gift-giving wisdoms over at Teeny Manolo.

If they registered only at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, well, sometimes I feel a bit touchy about that. Unless you (or their friends generally) are of more liberal means, this always strikes me as rather graceless (but what do I know?). If you can’t afford anything on the registry that is not a single fork or the like, buy them something they would have registered for if only they’d thought of it (a pretty vase, a picture frame in the style of those they did register for, a kitchen gadget which you have discovered and swear by).

Either their other acquaintance are all affluent and will buy the registry out, or nobody can afford it and they will be justly repaid for being inconsiderate to their guests. You are not required to sacrifice your groceries for the month for someone else’s occasion and it is NOT good breeding to imply the contrary. If you are invited to a wedding that will OBVIOUSLY be so expensive as to demand a present you could not afford, I personally think it would be better to find a polite reason to decline.

As tempting as it is to scale up without limits when creating your registry, do give a thought to both those people who may not be particularly well off and those people who are attending your wedding as guests of your guests or even guests invited by your parents.

A little of this and a little of that

Your tastes may be grand, and you may see the occasion of your marriage as the perfect opportunity to introduce a little more silver, crystal, and china into your kitchen. Nonetheless, courtesy demands that you append all that high-class swag with a few inexpensive wine stems or a pretty porcelain sugar bowl.

What it comes down to is that you’re vastly more likely to get gifts you want and like when you stock your registry with things from the high end of the spectrum, the low end of the spectrum, and everything in between. Some people–perhaps those who’ve hit a rough patch or those you don’t know terribly well–will spring for the sugar bowl. Others (usually moms and dads and grandparents) will present you with the professional grade deli meat slicer you’ve been salivating over.

Finally, for the love of all things matrimonial, please do not whine and carry on when certain guests give you gifts not on your registry. My stance may be a somewhat unpopular one, but the fact of the matter is that guests are under no obligation whatsoever to look at your wedding registry much less buy something off of it. People managed just fine before the Marshall Fields department store invented registries in 1924, and one would hope that those who know you well presumably have some notion of your taste in housewares.

Odd ceremony choices

Monday, February 18th, 2008

When The Beard and I were engaged, no less than three people felt the need to chime in regarding marriage ceremonies they’d recently attended. They gravely implored us in all seriousness not to incorporate an interpretive dancer into our ceremony. We thought they were kidding, but no.

That’s right – real life brides and grooms with whom they were acquainted had brought in someone proficient in the art of modern dance to interpret their spoken vows in motion. It’s not that I’m dissing the dancer so much as that I’m surprised the couples in question didn’t host any cultural performances either before the wedding to amuse guests during the tedious pre-nuptial waiting period or afterward, as a lark during the reception.

It is your wedding, after all, and if interpretive dance is your thing, then by all means forge ahead. If it’s not your thing, perhaps you and your intended are proficient in the art of fisticuffs?

She really knocks him out

One Russian couple made up of two pro boxers tied the knot in a boxing ring, exchanging professional-grade punches during the ceremony. A punch, I think, is probably one of oddest ceremonial supplementations you’ll encounter.

If you’re a lover, not a fighter, there’s always the matrimonial Jell-O bath, as one justice of the peace was surprised to find out:

Getting off the elevator, I could smell the scent of candy or some reasonable facsimile. When I knocked on the door, both voices said “Come right in, it’s open.” I walked in and to my astonishment they were in a whirlpool bath filled with orange Jell-O. I said, “What’s going on in here?” They said that they were executives for the Jell-O Corporation and it was their fantasy to get married in it. They had talked about it throughout their courtship and decided that this was how they would exchange their vows. I said, “Do I have to get in with you?” NO. “Do you at least have bathing suits on?” Just for the ceremony, they said.

Different strokes for different folks, right? Or not — plenty of commenters have weighed in over the life of this blog to say that they feel that matrimonial oddities do little more than make guests exceedingly uncomfortable and thus represent quite a severe breach of good and proper etiquette.

I am unapologetic about the fact that my opinion tends to err in the opposite direction. I say, don’t let popular opinion stop you from saying weird vows, busting a slick groove, playing weird music, being escorted down the aisle by your schnauzer, or exchanging body jewelry instead of wedding bands.

But, lest we forget that there may be certain conservative folks on your guest list, don’t think you have a total free pass to do what you will, sans consequences. Maverick brides and grooms may find that some guests simply can’t help but gasp or snicker right then and there, and that furthermore they’re the talk of the entire family (or even of the entire town) for many years to come!

Thank You, Mysterious Voice!

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

The creator of this amusing instructional video on proposing brought it to my attention a few days ago, and I liked it so much, I thought I’d share it with you. I’m placing a beverage warning on this one. You! Put down that coffee! It’ll just wind up wasted on your monitor.