An article by Sandy Malone was published by HuffPo the other day. In it, she tells the harrowing story of a client of her wedding planning service and what happened to her when she went shopping at an unnamed bridal salon in Waltham, Mass.
According to Malone, the bride informed the salon of her size (though I have to say I’m puzzled as to why an ‘average sized’ woman should have to do that) and was told it would be ‘no problem.’ I should certainly hope there would be no problem fitting an average sized woman in a reasonably well-stocked bridal salon. And while samples rarely fit brides precisely, there certainly ought to be a few gowns in a size close enough that a woman can try some things on to get a general idea of how they might look on her.
Apparently, this was not the case.
It seems that what the salon did instead of putting an ill-fitting dress on the bride and asking her to use her imagination as to how it will look when it is properly fitted, the consultant took the gown and began pinning it to the bride’s undergarments in front… in a tiny room with mirrors on three sides and only a flimsy curtain on the fourth wall. This process, apparently, is called ‘paper dolling.’ To add insult to injury, when the bride’s friends wanted to see what the consultants were oohing and ahing over in that tiny cubicle, one of them simply threw open the curtain, exposing the bride’s panty-clad backside to all and sundry without warning.
The bride, of course, was pretty traumatized by this experience, as would be any right-thinking person. Paper dolling sounds pretty useless. After all, a dress needs to be seen in three dimensions to get the full effect, and wedding gowns in particular need to be seen from the back, because during the ceremony, chances are that’s what your friends and family will be seeing the most of. Most bridal couples do stand facing the officiant who faces the witnesses.
On top of that, the sudden and completely insensitive near-indecent exposure of the bride was appalling. You ask first whether the bride wishes to show off the dress she’s trying on, and if it’s not actually on her, this is an extra vital step.
Malone winds up the article with a warning to all brides to shun this pernicious practice, which is excellent advice. I, too, would counsel brides not to allow a salon to ‘paper doll’ them into a dress.
But here’s the interesting thing. When I googled the term and several variations on it… I got only Malone’s original article from two days ago, and a whole lot of articles about making or collecting actual paper dolls. Is this one shop in Waltham the one place in the world that does this? Is there another reason the term might not get a lot of hits in bridal terms?
Has anyone out there heard about this anywhere else? Known someone subjected to it? Survived the experience themselves?
Curiouser and curiouser.]]>
Apparently, though, Pauline Bailey, 27, and Paul Carty, 51, were not good enough for one employee of Stoke Park Hotel in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. Michele Connelly did not specify why she felt the couple were unworthy to wed at Stoke Park Hotel, but it seems she found them not ‘the type of people’ who should be allowed to marry there.
And how did the happy couple learn this factoid?
Well, it all started when they tried to book the hotel for their june wedding. They met with Connelly and were given a tour of the facility. They spoke of specific plans. They did not balk at the ten thousand pound price tag, and in point of fact added another thousand pounds to said price tag by asking for a fireworks display. They planned to invite only thirty guests, so it can’t have been that there wasn’t room for all those people, either.
The happy couple went home and waited to hear confirmation of their date… and waited… and waited. After ten days, they contacted Connelly to ask what was happening and why they hadn’t heard back. Connelly emailed back saying she’d been on vacation during that period and they would hear from her shortly.
The next day, Connelly sent an email to her sales manager, Carlo Zoccali, begging him to give her a way to deny the couple a spot on the calendar.
Too bad for her she cc’d it to Bailey and Carty, too.
The only reason Connelly gave for wanting to put the couple off was that they are ‘not the type of people’ she wanted to rent to. For the record, both are gainfully employed. In fact, Carty works for the Ministry of Defence as an engineer. Bailey is a counsellor. So unless she has an unreasoning prejudice against engineers or counsellors, what is the problem? There has been no accusation or evidence of untoward behavior on the part of the couple in question.
Bailey believes she knows the answer. Her theory? That it’s about the age gap between her and her intended, and possibly his pierced eyebrow.
And that’s why Bailey and Carty are currently seeking legal counsel with an eye to bringing a lawsuit in the matter.
Let that be a lesson to us all to a) do our best to treat all comers as fairly as possible, and b) always be very, very careful to whom we forward our emails.]]>
Okay, if you wait until that point, chances are there’s nothing you can do but pay all those wedding bills or declare bankruptcy.
If, on the other hand, you decide a bit earlier in the proceedings that things just aren’t going to work out, there is a way to recoup some of the expense you’ve been to and help another couple have the nice wedding of your dreams.
Bridal Brokerage is there to help you pick up the financial pieces and get you on your feet again.
You enter your details in a handy online form, and Bridal Brokerage does the rest. They contact the vendors and find another couple who are in need of a wedding much like yours. You receive a percentage of your wedding expenditures already made, cope with your own broken heart, and contact your own guests, but after that you don’t have to deal with the details of canceling your wedding beyond that.
On the buyer’s side, well, you fill out a similar form telling Bridal Brokerage when you’re hoping to tie the knot, how many guests you plan to have, etc. and they’ll contact you with weddings that might suit your needs. You choose the one that best fits your preferences, and buy it at a deep discount.
Again, Bridal Brokerage steps in to the rescue with the details. They’ll send out save-the-dates and invitations to your entire guest list and prepare programs, too.
I’m wondering, is there anyone out there who has used this service or one like it? What were your experiences like? Is this a service any of you out there would consider using on either end?]]>
Or even this:
Frankly, it’s not easy to find a balance, and the tighter your budget the smaller the window you have to try to fit through.
Still there are things you can do, both in allocating your funds well and in vendor negotiation, that will help you wriggle through with a minimum of misery, embarrassment, and red ink. Read on to find out what to do… and what not to do.
The first thing you need to do is prioritize. Figure out what you need no matter what, and where you can let go of an expense or three. Decide what’s most important to you and figure on spending your money there.
For Mr. Twistie and me, the things that got top priority were the venue, the music, and the food. After that, we figured everything could take a hit to the budget and we wouldn’t worry that much. But I was completely in love with the space, we’re both all about the live music, and we didn’t want anyone at all going home hungry.
After that, we looked for extra-good deals on things that didn’t matter as much to us, like flowers, decorations, invitations, and favors.
Your priorities may (and quite possibly will) be different from ours, but that gives you a good idea of the number of priorities you can safely have while working on a nearly nonexistent budget. We. Were. Broke.
Once you know what your priorities are, it’s time to figure out what you don’t need at all. If you don’t care about chair covers, frankly, that’s not something that’s going to make or break your wedding for most guests. If they don’t fit in the budget, forget that they exist. This one is really hard for a lot of couples. They get pressure to have the chair covers, give out favors, have fifteen different printed items for guests to take at the big event, and do a lot of other little touches that add up to a lot of bucks. Fail to bow to the pressure or find less expensive ways of compromising with your friends and families.
For instance, your parents may think everyone needs their own individual menu at the reception before dinner comes around. You may think this is a waste of your precious bridal bucks. But maybe you can save most of that money and your parents can still be satisfied if you have one menu per table, or have one large menu printed up and displayed nicely somewhere instead. Where possible, find middle ground everyone can live with… especially if you want a good relationship with those on the other side after the wedding is over.
While sourcing wedding items, remember that just because you are dealing with a particular aspect at the moment, that doesn’t make it an overall priority. It’s easy to think that since you’re dealing with invitations right now, they are the priority and so you should get the most expensive ones because they’re the nicest. And yes, nice invitations are great. But are they a priority in the wedding or merely in the moment? The priority of the moment is what you’re working on right now, but if it’s not a priority for the entire wedding, stick to your budget guns and don’t get sucked into how pretty the more expensive one is. Choose something you can afford. Nobody’s wedding was destroyed because they had the carnations they could fit in the budget rather than the roses others expected.
Get creative in your sourcing. Remember, you don’t have to shop somewhere that includes ‘wedding’ or ‘bridal’ in the name just because it’s for your wedding. Think carefully about whether there are other places you can get what you need for less. Now is the time to figure out if a couple well-considered DIY projects will save you cash while adding to the individuality of your wedding.
When it comes to vendors, there’s only so much you can do. The first thing to do is your research. Ask friends or co-workers who’ve recently married who they used and what their experience was like. Check out reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List to see what other recent customers have to say. Take a look at the vendor’s website to make sure you like the general direction of the work beforehand and see if you can get a sense of the pricing. Remember, the better the vendor, the more likely you are to have to pay top dollar to get them.
Once you’ve whittled your list down to two or three candidates to interview, make a list of the questions you want to ask in advance. Really think about what you want and how much you’re willing to pay. And remember, the price of the raw materials will not be the entire cost of the finished product. You are also paying for time, talent, any other staff members, and the convenience of having someone else do the work. Don’t just look up what hydrangeas cost at the wholesale warehouse and expect the bouquet to cost that. Recognize the difference between a grocery store bakery and one that’s run by an individual pastry chef and cake artist.
During the interview, don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything that can be done to sweeten the pot… but don’t let it phase you if the answer is no. If you don’t ask about possible discounts and extra goodies, they won’t happen, but asking for them does not guarantee that they will be forthcoming, either. If you buy the more expensive gown, the salon might throw in an inexpensive veil for free… and they might not. If you go for the higher priced fish dish, the caterer may or may not add an extra appetizer for your cocktail hour.
Oh, and that’s the other thing: these extras and freebies generally come only when you agree to something that spirals your budget higher or when you take something off the vendor’s hands they really need to move. When the stars align properly, it’s a beautiful thing. Thing is, it doesn’t happen automatically just because you showed up.
Most of all, when you ask about pot sweeteners be as nice as possible about it. There’s nothing that makes discounts and freebies go away faster than asking for them like you are entitled to them… unless it’s making an active threat. Don’t do that. Not that any of you would. It’s just I’ve seen it so often on Bridezillas that part of me is getting slowly brainwashed by the dominant cultural paradigm about getting married. I’m fighting it, really I am.
In the longrun, the goal is to have the nicest celebration you can on the budget you have. It doesn’t matter whether that celebration is going to cost a hundred dollars or a hundred thousand. What you have is what you have, and spending it thoughtfully is always a good idea.
Do it right, and the result will be relationships that look like this:
Again, I like it. It’s real couples having real weddings, without a lot of the staged nightmares of Bridezillas and similar shows, let alone their histrionics.
But I did have a bit of a thought about the episode aired last night. See the lady second from the right? That’s Jessica. She won the episode. I’m down with that, because I did feel she had the nicest wedding of the lot.
Still, I have this one niggling concern. You see, Jessica is a professional wedding planner. Not only was she allowed to participate in the show, her fellow contestants were not informed of this fact. She only revealed the truth as the winner’s limo was pulling up with her husband in it.
The thing is, I can’t think of another episode of either version of the show that has featured anyone who used a wedding planner, let alone was one. And I know that simply being in a profession isn’t proof positive that someone is good at it. After all, there was at least one professional wedding planner featured on Bridezillas who not only needed subtitles because she mumbled so horribly nobody could understand her, but seemed to have no clue at all how a wedding is organized.
All the same, it could be perceived as an unfair advantage. I kind of perceived it that way, and I know how little it takes to set up shop as a wedding planner.
What do you think? Should Jessica have been allowed to play the game? Should she have had to reveal her professional status before her wedding was rated? Am I being over sensitive about something that’s all in good fun?
Tell me what you think!]]>
While planning your wedding, chances are you’ll hire several vendors to help your dreams come true. If you look around, you’ll find a lot of opinions about this. Some people think that wedding vendors are evil stooges of an international conspiracy. Others that wedding vendors are angels sent from Heaven above to aid brides in making their dreams come true.
But here’s the thing: wedding vendors are just people in business for themselves.
That means that some of them are wonderful, warm, highly competent people and others are greedy, unscrupulous people. Some mean well but aren’t really all that good at what they do. Others are excellent at their jobs but unpleasant to work with. Most, I believe, choose their profession because they truly enjoy helping make wedding dreams come true… but they aren’t doing it purely out of the kindness of their hearts. They’re doing it to make money.
What does that mean for you? It means that you need to be diligent about finding competent vendors who can do what you want done, and who can give helpful input. It means that you need to keep in mind that most vendors think their piece of the wedding is the most important one, so you need to really consider how important it is to you as an individual couple getting married. It means you need to dot your i’s and cross your t’s in business and legal terms. It means that you get to make the final decisions about what services you do and do not want from this vendor.
But there’s another side of the coin to remembering that your vendors are just people: you need to treat them with the same consideration as you treat any other person. If the vendor is going to be onsite during the wedding (musicians, DJs, photographers, cater waiters, etc.) you’ll need to discuss things like breaks, whether and how they will be fed, where they will park, and what time they will be done with the job.
Whether or not they will be on site, remember the feelings of your vendors. Treat them with respect and courtesy in a professional manner.
After all, behaving in an entitled, bossy way only makes people want to cross you more. Listen carefully and with an open mind to suggestions. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Don’t assume that the florist, caterer, or DJ you’ve hired is out to get you… unless you get firm proof of the fact. Communicate as clearly and as promptly as you can. Remember that this person is just doing his or her job – the one you hired him or her to do for you – and probably wants it to go well so that you’ll spread the word about their business.
Ultimately, vendors are people, and people come in all kinds of ways. Just try to be the best person you can be while dealing with them, and it will go a long way toward making things work out well.]]>
The Gearys engaged the photographic team of Ian McCloskey and Nikki Carter to photograph their wedding at a price of seven hundred fifty pounds sterling.
Lest you think that first photo is a complete fluke, here’s another example of McCloskey and Carter’s Work:
The entire album is brimful of blurry, poorly composed, amateurish shots just like these. In fact, in the picture of the Gearys signing their wedding register, there’s a disembodied hand holding a toy motorcycle where McCloskey and Carter attempted to edit out the bride’s small nephew… and failed.
When the Gearys saw their photos, they thought at first it was a joke and the real pictures would come soon. They soon discovered this was no joke. They demanded their money back.
It was not to be. McCloskey and Carter had already disbanded the business in the face of a string of disgruntled customers demanding their money back.
Gee, I wonder why.
But the really sad thing is that this entire situation could have been avoided. How? The Gearys could have taken a little time and trouble to check out McCloskey and Carter’s credentials.
When picking a vendor to handle any aspect of your wedding, always be certain to ask to see recent examples of their work and get references… then call the references and ask them about both the quality of the work and how it was working with that vendor. Do a quick Google search and see if you find complaints filed about them – and for what.
Finding a good photographer on a really tight budget isn’t easy. If you’ve got less than the average to spend, you may find yourself choosing between mediocre pictures of the entire event or a smaller number of pictures that are done better. Only you can decide which better suits your needs. But I can guarantee you one thing: pictures this bad shouldn’t ever happen for pay.
In fact, I got better pictures of my wedding from guests who barely knew which end of a camera was which!
But we also have a beautiful album of professional shots that make me smile every time I look at them.]]>
But if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve already found that certain, special someone. What you need is a little help finding the right vendors to make your day everything you’ve dreamed of.
OneWed.com has been helping couples find those vendors for some time now, but they’ve just launched an intriguing new free Matchmaker function called MatchMake.
You simply answer a set of questions about your wedding as regards the aspect you’re looking for help in (venue, catering, photography, transportation, etc.), and it pops out a list of vendors that best match your needs.
For instance, last night I sat down and played with the venue selection to see what I came up with. I gave them some real challenges (venues that feature purple, outdoor museum space, room for 150 for $500 or less) and they managed to come through with some options that – while not exact – did feature a fair number of the aspects I asked for. And I did some runs on the catering options, too, with similar results.
I really appreciated the fact that the questions included some fairly non-traditional options in the answer pool. For one thing, the religious affiliation question included the options of ‘atheist’ ‘Pastafarian’ and ‘Scientologist’ as well as more traditional possibilities such as ‘Catholic’ ‘Jewish’ or ‘Hindu’. Also, you could choose up to three. Options for the mood of your venue included things like ‘quirky’ as well as ‘romantic.’
All in all, I found this an encouraging place to look for the right vendors when you don’t know where to start.
The downside? Well, thus far it only shows vendors for the New York and Chicago areas. Bummer for those of you getting married in Maine or Texas. Still, as I said, this is a new program. I fully expect it to expand.
In the meantime, the site as a whole is brimming over with inspiration and options for the rest of us, including lists of local vendors in all walks of wedding planning, complete with user reviews. It just doesn’t weed out the ones that won’t work for you at all. Yet.]]>
All the same, when it comes right down to it, nearly every couple will hire at least one or two professionals. Whether they do flowers, food, photography, music, or just general bridal party wrangling, there are things you can do to make sure the experience is good for all parties concerned.
After all, you don’t want to be the cautionary boogeyman tale your caterer or beautician tells their colleagues!
Do your research before you pick a vendor. Before you walk in the door or pick up the phone, you should have a good idea of the sort of work your potential vendor does, know how it meshes with your tastes, know how much money you have to spend on that aspect of the wedding, and be prepared to make a down payment, if necessary.
Knowing what you want when you walk through the door helps everyone figure out if this is a good fit. Being able to articulate your needs will aid the vendor in meeting them with a minimum of confusion. Bring visual aids if necessary.
Be clear, but flexible. It’s one thing to know what you want and be able to ask for it. It’s quite another to walk in and make unreasonable demands. You can’t get orchids for the same price as carnations, and you cannot simply will a cake with buttercream frosting to look like one covered in fondant. Part of the reason you’re hiring these people is because they know their jobs. Expect to have to adjust your plans slightly based on what is actually possible. Be open to new ideas that might be better than the ones you came in with.
Please, thank you, and a smile are your friends. Remember how your mother told you when you were small that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Well, leaving to one side the issue of why you would possibly want to attract that many flies, the fact is she was right. The nicer and more polite you are to people, the more they want to help you. Sometimes that can even work out to be a small discount or an extra service thrown in simply because the vendor wants to be nice back.
Be punctual to meetings. Everybody has a bad day once in a while. Everybody gets stuck in traffic now and then. It happens… but if it happens every time, your vendors will get frustrated with you. If you’re five minutes late once and apologize, that’s no big deal. If you know you’re going to be half an hour late and you don’t bother to call and let your vendor know, that’s a problem. This may be the only photographer you’re working with, but you’re not her only client. If you typically run very late, it cuts into her time with other couples whose weddings are just as important to them as yours is to you.
Keep in touch… to a reasonable degree. Once you have your plans in place, it’s a good idea to touch bases again a couple times before the wedding. And certainly if any of your plans change, be sure to notify any affected vendors as quickly as possible. But over the course of your engagement, you don’t need to call every day. That’s harassment. A couple times between the time you hire them and the time they arrive to do their thing for your wedding is plenty. Just be sure not to fall off the face of the earth, either. After all, if you hired someone a year out (which is not terribly uncommon) and then they don’t hear from you until the day of your wedding, they may not be certain they still have a booking for that day.
Pay your bills on time. Whatever schedule you set up with your vendors, it’s your job to see to it that the money gets to them at the agreed upon times in the agreed upon amounts. Most wedding vendors are independent contractors whose income depends on clients respecting the contracts they signed. If there’s an issue about payment, contact them in time to work out an alternate plan or cancel services in time for them to find other clients to fill in the hole in their schedule.
Be businesslike. It’s great to be nice, but don’t try to turn your vendors into your best buds. That’s not what they’re there for. A joke or two and a friendly smile are always good, but long gossip sessions make your consultation go over time to the detriment of both the reputation of the vendor and his other clients. Come prepared to be pleasant, but to get stuff done, too. Once you sign your contract, keep a copy where you can get at it anytime you need it. Oh, and get to know what’s in it so there are no surprises. Speaking of which, don’t sign it until you understand it and are willing to work within its bounds.
Know what the local traditions are around tipping. Some vendors will expect to be tipped in addition to their fee. Know who they are and make sure you budget for it. Know who does not get tipped, too. They may be insulted if you try to offer one.
After the wedding, write a recommendation if you were happy with the services rendered. It’s an old saw in business that a happy client will tell one person, while an unhappy one tells ten. Going out of your way to send a good review to the vendor, speaking up on services like Yelp and Angie’s List, or recommending their work to your friends will make them bless the day you walked through their door.]]>
Well, it seems we are not alone. Proposal planner Michele Willamson has written an article for Huffpo defending her profession. It seems to Wiliamson that we just don’t understand her calling. If only we understood, we would change our minds and appreciate her services, even if we didn’t use them ourselves.
She answers some questions about her job… but frankly I find that her answers don’t actually make me think her business any more useful than I found it before. After all, she says she plans intimate, personal proposals as well as huge, flashy ones. But if it’s intimate and personal, why does the gentleman (and she does divide the world into ‘men’ and ‘females’ which is a nasty habit more and more people seem to be falling into) require someone to tell him what would be intimate and personal for him and his lady? Or gentleman? And the fact that Williamson says she is present for most of these proposals frankly kind of skeeves me out.
She says that she does a lot of research by talking to the man about his relationship with his female… oops, I mean his significant other. She prompts him to remember things and consider questions that may not have occurred to him. But has this gentleman no friends? No family members he might consult? Has he no skills to discover for himself what his love finds romantic? Is it never possible for a woman to propose???
After all, the best way to make the proposal romantic is to consider carefully the tastes and personality of the person being proposed to, as well as the history and structure of the overall relationship. If, for instance, a man knows that his lady always sighs happily at movies when an engagement ring is discovered in a glass of champagne, he knows she’ll find that romantic. If she laughs her head off and talks about wasting a perfectly good glass of champagne, chances are that’s not the way to propose. If the moment just seems right while lying in bed on a lazy sunday morning… then why not take the chance? Only if you know she wants the down on one knee approach and for you to ask her parents for permission to marry her.
There is no such thing as a universally romantic proposal. And unless you’re trying to arrange the practicalities of a Jumbotron, a marching band, and a host of celebrities showing up to urge your beloved to say yes… chances are you can work it out on your own. And even then? Yeah, guys have been working out the Jumbotron thing at sporting events for decades all by themselves.
Sorry, Michele, but I still don’t see a need for your service. And while I will refrain from personal abuse, I laugh soundly at what you’ve chosen to do with your life and the people who think they need it.]]>