Archive for November, 2008

Poetry gets a bad rep. Folks moan about their terrible high school reading assignments in thin-papered books.


Sure, there is a lot of poetry that you wouldn’t want at your wedding. From cliché greeting card sentiments to hard to understand, badly translated poetry. But there is some great work out there that you can both enjoy and perhaps use to inspire aspects of your wedding and relationship.


First, I want to prove to you that poetry can be fun. I spent two years at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY studying for my MFA. It was the best two years of my life because it was a gift to have the time to write poetry and be surrounded by so many liked minded writers.


Reading at Busboys and Poets in DC

Reading at Busboys and Poets in DC


There, I met poet Jee Leong Koh. He is a more formal poet than I am, but he addresses some spicy themes and uses thoughtful humor in his poetry. Check out his blog: http://jeeleong.blogspot.com/


Poetry is meant to be read and heard, and sometimes performed, by real, live poets. You can hear poetry readings online at a lot of sites. Here are two great archives:




Poetry is a space for careful thought, consideration and exploration of an otherwise chaotic world. Sometimes questions are answered, sometimes they are simply posed. Poetry lives by being read and shared. I hope you’ll consider reading some.



If you are interested in having more familiar poems at your wedding, check out these great sites:


Poets.org, from the Academy of American poets, has a list of famous poems about weddings:



The Offbeat bride (who isn’t?), has a list of “Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples”:



The Indiebride (which doesn’t seem to have new posts anymore), has some readings listed, too:



Other suggestions? Use the “Comments” section freely.

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Our friends

We work closely with the following NJ venues:


The Mezzanine

Perona Farms



Italian designer in Boston Angela Liguri


Flowers on Long Island: Clawflowers


Ann Keeler Evans, Celebrant (PA based)

Celia Milton, Celebrant (NJ based)

Anita Vaughan, Celebrant (Chicago based)



Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ


Travel to Italy: Amore Travel Guides 

Green Wedding ideas:

Blue Planet Wedding

Michigan weddings:

WedMichigan Blog


Tony Richards Photography

Custom songs:

Custom Crafted Songs

Car service:

Executive Transporation of Louisana


Poet Jee Long Koh’s blog

You can hear poetry readings online at a lot of sites. Here are two great archives:

Poets.Org archive

Poetry Foundation archive


Poets.org, from the Academy of American poets, has a list of famous poems about weddings:

Poets.Org Wedding Poems


The Offbeat bride (who isn’t?), has a list of “Awesome wedding readings for bad-ass couples”:

Offbeat Bride Readings


The Indiebride (which doesn’t seem to have new posts anymore), has some readings listed, too:

Indiebride Readings



Personal story of adoption from Ethiopia: Shasta Grant’s blog

Smith College alum blogs

Botanical Images by photographer Melabee M. Miller




*MUCH* more to come. Want to be listed? Email me and send me your information: ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Holidays tend to be stressful, romantic, nostalgic, dreadful, tiring and relaxing all at once. When you put so many people in one room together, combine it with food and everyone’s picky eating habits, topped with alcohol, you never know what will happen. Or maybe you do because the same thing happens every year.



Enjoy this Thanksgiving. I try to avoid clichés, but this one is a good one: Be thankful.


We’re alive, eating and enjoying each other’s company. One day this might not be possible. Instead of worrying about that, take the day in and enjoy it.




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It is uncouth to discuss money in the United States. This is inconvenient. 


If we were more open about money, we’d know how much people paid for things (i.e.: did we pay too much?), how much people make (i.e. why don’t I make a more appropriate salary?) and ideas about how to save better (i.e. why don’t I have any money left?) I found that Italians I met in Florence, Italy were quite blunt about money. They asked how much things cost, how I paid for them, etc. At first I was a bit flustered by such questions, but now I see how useful they can be.


I wish couples would be more upfront about what they paid and how they figured out how to pay for it.


When you are searching for a wedding venue, as we are right now, you have to know what questions to ask since some costs aren’t immediately disclosed.


Here are a few things I’ve discovered you should ask about:


Ceremony fee: If you are getting married onsite, there may be a per person or one-time fee to hold the ceremony there. This pays for the set-up, staff, etc.


Alcohol: You may receive a per-person price for the food, but check to make sure it includes the alcohol (for the reception, dinner and after dinner drinks.) Sometimes you can bring in your own alcohol, which lowers the final price tag considerably (depending on whether or not there’s a corking fee.)


Tents: Especially if you are renting a space and hiring an outside caterer to come in, you may need to pay for tents. This is not a small fee.


Insurance: Some smaller venues that do not regularly hold weddings may ask you to buy insurance.


Staff: Sometimes you are asked to pay for extra bartenders, waiters, etc.


Valet parking: Is this an extra charge at your venue? It is a particularly important question at a more urban site.


Gratuity and Tax: Some venues include these numbers in their per-person totals, some don’t.


Holidays/off-season dates/afternoons: Weddings cost different amounts depending on the day and time of day. It can be shocking how much they vary. Ask about holiday rates, afternoon and off-season weddings. Off-season dates might also make it a less expensive trip for your guests (airfare, hotels, etc.)



It can be an English major’s nightmare to plan a wedding according to a budget. Each website, attachment, etc. tallies numbers differently. Be patient. Ask a lot of questions and work to come up with a final number for each venue so that you can better compare and contrast prices. Remember, you are buying a product/service and have the right to understand what you are purchasing.

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I distinctly remember being a teenager and watching one of the 90210 characters go to prom in a “Mermaid dress.” (Was it Donna?) She could barely move and missed out on most of the fun, excluding the fun she created by trying to walk.


I want to find the perfect wedding dress: it shouldn’t cost a fortune, it should be comfortable and I should be able to walk.


I forgot an important detail regarding the bathroom.


My friend Grace recently wrote:


My dress was ivory, and much to my mother’s dismay, very plain (i.e. no beading or sparkly stuff).  But for the reception I wore a traditional Korean dress, which had a big red skirt.  When I was dress shopping, to be honest, my main concern was whether or not I would be able to go to the bathroom w/out assistance!


At a friend’s wedding, I accidentally walked into the bathroom as she was trying to use the toilet, and I was freaked out to see the maid of honor and a bridesmaid having to hold up her dress so that she could do her thing.   So that dictated the whole “can I go to the bathroom alone in it?” rule for me and my dress. 😉


Good point!


I will add going to the bathroom to the list of necessities on that important day.


This weekend my fiancé and I saw the Broadway show Avenue Q in Detroit. In one scene, a bride emerges with the largest, gauziest wedding dress you’ve ever seen. Suddenly, she is illuminated: there are lights under her dress! Would it be appropriate to add a detail like to that to the dress? That might determine the theme of the wedding.



While you are trying on dresses, see if you can bend down (what if you drop something?), sit down (you want to eat at your wedding, right?) and breath (that’s key.) You don’t need to be able to do yoga in your dress, but you should be comfortable.  


Readers: let me know if I’m forgetting anything!


Grace in her traditional Korean dress

Grace in her traditional Korean dress

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Read all about it!

Wordarrangement was recently featured in an article in the Philadelphia Marriage Examiner.

Words of Love: So Soft and Tender

Forget what the song says, words of Love are exactly what we need to hear. (Did you ever notice that we all shift uncomfortably in our seats when someone loudly proclaims “I love you?” “Go get a room,” someone is sure to cry. Yet we are all totally fascinated by someone storming out the door in the café screaming “I hate you?” What is up with that?)


Chloe Miller, poet, at her site Word Arrangement can help you find exactly the right words to say “I love you.” If you have trouble expressing your emotions in poetry, she’s your go-to girl. There are lots of wonderful poems out there and I always encourage my couples, if they like poetry, to look for metaphors that align with their values. But how incredible to have your love immortalized in your very own poem!

She won’t just find words for the bridal couple, she’ll help out the person making a toast or simply giving a gift to the couple. Use the poem in your program or on your website. Have them printed on Melabee M. Miller’s roses or sent to you to be transcribed onto your own backdrop. After you read it, frame it and hang it on your wall so that every day you remember how much you love one another and why you embarked on this wonderful journey called marriage. How wonderful to know that your love is great enough, that with a simple discernment process, this very talented poet can tell the world your story.

THE BRIDGE: for Christa and Jas, 2006

His proposal bridged east and west

as they kissed between the words.

In her poems, she immortalizes

her story, then his, now theirs.

Two narrators, one plot. They are engaged

after five years of sweetness.

The unwritten years’ ink

fills in craters, lifts the sun and moon.

She bakes with measured flour,

adds pinches of spice, sugar until it tastes like home.

The earth provides colors, flavor,

and the couple builds, creates above.

One more (great) way to move from “I do” to happily and healthily ever after.




Ann Keeler Evans, M.Div., The Wedding Priestess, helped 1,000 couples move from “I do” to happily, healthily ever after. For examiner.com she writes about weddings with meaning. Find her at http://annkeelerevans.org or write office@annkeelerevans.org

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I received some email responses to my post “To wear white or not?” My favorite was from Courtney, a fellow Smithie alum.


She found a gorgeous *pink* dress at Filene’s Basement. Filene’s holds an annual wedding dress sale at select stores (twice in Boston.) Here’s the link: http://www.filenesbasement.com/bridal.jsp


A number of people have suggested it to me, but I was hesitant to try it because of this line on their website, “News reports so often compare it to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain that the event is now officially called the ‘Running of the Brides.’” (Yikes.)


Courtney said that she went around noon after things were calmer and the dresses were back on the racks. Sounds like good advice!


Here is the lovely bride and her dress:





As you know, I haven’t gotten my dress yet. I hope you’ll share your dress shopping knowledge with the readers. Where did you get your dress?


I’ll post your dress or wedding day pictures – email them to me here: chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Two extra left feet

My fiancé and I have two extra left feet between us. Still, we are committed to learning how to dance. We’d been talking about taking dance lessons since before we were engaged and thought the wedding was the perfect excuse to get serious about it.


Over a year ago, we tried a group salsa dance lesson at a bar in Arlington, VA. It seemed like the perfect Saturday night date. We paid a few dollars at the door, ordered mojitos and started to bop to the music in preparation. The bar slowly started to fill up and then the instructors arranged us in two lines, leaders and followers.  


The instructors, armed with cordless microphones, began to swoosh, click their heels and shout complicated dance moves. We found ourselves dancing more slowly than the other couples and moving towards the edge of the dance floor. Eventually, we were sitting and watching the action. We weren’t built to move like that.  


When we moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, we tried another group lesson. This time it was ballroom dancing. The price was right and it was on a Sunday evening. It seemed like a good way to work off a heavy Sunday night spaghetti dinner.


Again, we couldn’t hack it. The female instructor didn’t have a microphone and her skirt was so long that I couldn’t see her feet. I had no idea what was going on. When I looked across the room to make eye contact with my fiancé in the line of “leaders,” I saw a similar look of confusion. Eventually, we left early and settled into a night of Entourage and True Blood on HBO.


We knew we needed private lessons. I looked in the local Ann Arbor paper and started to Google and email folks. I spoke with some instructors and we tried out a few classes.


Our goals were to have fun, get some exercise, and learn how to dance for our wedding and future dance events. The instructors at classes we tried were oddly perky (think early morning children’s television) and their dance floors were crowded with other “private lessons.”


Eventually, we found a class at Kenville Studio in Ann Arbor (http://www.kenvillestudios.com/) with Louise Tamres. We took a weekend Social Dance Survival class and loved it. She taught us a few moves in an hour and a half which we were able to do.


Towards the end, we were dancing to a big band song and we were completely in rhythm. I looked up and we both had tears in our eyes. We walked home talking about our wedding and all the places we could go dancing in the future. Dancing was like a first date with sparks.


We signed up for a six week Foxtrot class with two other couples. Sure, we still have those extra left feet, but we are making great progress. Louise explains things clearly and makes sure that we enjoy dancing. We look forward to future classes.



Dance class with instructor Louise Tamres at Kenville Studio, Ann Arbor, MI

Dance class with instructor Louise Tamres at Kenville Studio, Ann Arbor, MI







Shop around and speak frankly with the instructors about your goals. The prices and options vary greatly. The prices are more reasonable if you don’t take a class labeled “wedding dance class.” I assume the content is similar, but the price tag isn’t.


Start dancing early, especially if you have little dance experience. This is a skill you can carry with you for life, not just for your wedding day.


Have fun! Couples who have been married for years sometimes complain to me that they don’t go out on dates anymore. This is a great date.


And as with anything, practice, practice, practice.


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To wear white or not?

I’m not sure that I want to wear white on my wedding day.


My mother got married in an orange velure dress with a matching hat. My father wore a yellow tie. My great aunt, who recently turned 100, showed me a swath of fabric from her mother’s wedding dress which was dark brown with green floral stitching.


Their friend Susan Topper took this picture:


My parents' wedding.
The Orange Dress




Wearing white is a rather recent wedding development. It became a western tradition after 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white dress at her wedding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_dress.)


Perhaps my family’s tradition isn’t to wear white.


I don’t want to make a mistake, however, so I spent a day in New York City trying on fancy white bridal gowns with my mother. We took down dresses bigger and heavier than we were and I was zipped into them in the tiny dressing rooms. Then, I stood on a stand in front of a mirror and was tugged on by salespeople. The dresses, which never were the right size, had to be pulled tightly in order for me to see how they could possible fit after being properly tailored. I asked to see a tiara and veil, in order to complete the picture.


I half expected to cry when I saw myself dressed like that in the mirror. (I think I’ve seen too many Lifetime movies.) I mostly felt short of breath and uncomfortable.


We thought we’d be able to take pictures, but it turns out that is against the rules. We did sneak some pictures in the dressing room, but the awkward angles made sure they didn’t come out just right. One saleswoman saw the flash under the door and reprimanded us. (Buying a dress is serious business. She didn’t like how we giggled in response. We left promptly.)


My mother and I had a wonderful day that day. If I were moved to buy a more traditional dress, I would have bought it at the Bridal Garden (http://www.bridalgarden.org/.) It is a non-profit boutique that donates money to NYC schoolchildren. The dresses are designer and on sale.


In the end, I am now in the process of looking at local dress shops and seeing what beautiful dress I can find.


And to be traditional, I’ll probably wear orange.



Everyone told me to try on dresses that I might not have expected to like. I think this is generally a good rule. Try different styles and see how you feel in the dress. You’ll pick the right dress because it will feel right. Ask a lot of questions – it seems that every dress can be reshaped however you like.


This, however, is an expensive endeavor. I went to a wedding this weekend and the bride looked beautiful in a JCrew dress. Many mainstream stores now have wedding lines. If you buy a wedding dress (or another dress to wear at your wedding) off the rack, you can save a lot of money.


Remember, even if something isn’t labeled “wedding,” you can still wear it at your wedding. Unless you tell the guests with pride, who is going to know?



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A personalized wedding poem is a poem written specifically on the occasion of a particular couple’s wedding. The poem can be used in many ways: integrated into the couple’s vows, read during the wedding, framed as a gift, posted on a wedding website or printed in the program, mailed as a part of a thank-you letter, integrated into a vow renewal ceremony, etc.


I meet with you, the gift giver (the couple, a member of the couple, a friend or family member) and discuss your goals, aesthetics, and knowledge of the couple. I have a number of questionnaires prepared for different gift givers (parents, bride, groom, friend, etc.)  We can meet and discuss the questions in person (or on the phone) or you can fill it out online.


The questionnaire asks questions about the couple’s history, your relationship to them, etc. Each questionnaire ends with the question, “What am I forgetting to ask?” Every couple is unique and I rely on you to help share as much information as possible. You are welcome to share pictures or other mediums (songs, recipes, etc.) with me as well. One bride told me that she really enjoyed filling out the questionnaire with her groom as they spent time reminiscing about the early days of their relationship.


I use the information you share to create a draft of the poem, which I then send to you. You read it and send me feedback. Usually, someone will remember another detail to be added and ask it to replace a less important detail. This is a key part of the process because it ensures that the final product fulfills your expectations and reflects the couple’s love and history.


The poems that I craft for you will be an original poem. It will reflect the couple, their love, and will forever be a memory of their union.


A few commonly asked questions:


Can you tell me a little more about the questionnaire?

There are a broad range of questions on the questionnaire (how did the couple meet, are they affectionate in public, do they resemble a famous couple, etc.) You are free to skip any questions that don’t relate to the couple and add in anything that you feel is appropriate.


Has this been done before?

There is a long history of wedding poetry. The poetic term for a wedding poem is an “epithalamion.” You can link to examples and read about the history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epithalamium.


How long does the process take?

Usually, it is helpful to have at least two weeks for the first draft and a week for the second draft. The earlier we can start, however, the better. If you need a poem more urgently, we can work together on those details.


What is your experience with poetry writing?

I have an MFA in poetry writing from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. I have been writing since I was a child. For samples of personalized wedding poems, please click here: http://wordarrangement.com/4.html. For links to published poems, please click here: http://www.chloeyelenamiller.com/8428.html.


How did you come up with this idea?

I completed a manuscript entitled “Cent’Anni” which tells the story of my family’s emigration from southern Italy in the 1800’s. The poems are paired with photographs that my mother, a professional photographer, took during our visits to the small town of Sala Consilina, SA. Many of these poems arose from stories told to me by American or Italian relatives. Writing personalized wedding poems arose out of this interest in listening to people’s stories and translating them into poems.


For more information, please feel free to contact me: ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com or see the WordArrangement website: www.WordArrangement.com.



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