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Archive for December, 2008

Wedding experts say that at least a third of all proposals occur over the holidays. That’s a lot of proposals.

 

I wonder how they will happen and how the couples met.

 

Who doesn’t enjoy reading love stories? It can be embarrassing, though, to read them in a fashion magazine filled with makeup and wedding diet tips. We need to keep up our guise of being well-read, educated folks, right?

 

That’s where the New York Times and the Styles section fits in. From the Modern Love column to the Weddings and Celebrations,everything is well-written and gives you that love story fix. And better yet, you can keep up appearances by reading up on these stories in the liberal Times.

 

While we might not want to admit it, I imagine most of us would love to be featured in the Weddings and Celebrations column. A picture of you and your beloved and a snippet about the wedding… what could be better? Here is the list of rules and regulations. I fear that the key might be certain connections to schools, businesses and the media, but… you never know. It has been open to same sex couples for some time and perhaps it will be opened up to less connected folks in the future, too.

 

Recently, there was a great article about traditions and customs from various cultures. You might find that interesting and it may help you to better plan or attend an upcoming wedding.

 

Advice:

Check out the Sunday Style’s Section of The New York Times. Maybe you’ll see someone you know under the Weddings and Celebrations.

 

Where do you get your fix of love stories? You are welcome to post your suggestions under Comments.

 

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My great aunt recently asked me about the personalized wedding poems. She wanted to know, “where do you find all the lovely dovey words?”

 

That’s a good question.

 

Writing personalized wedding poems involves inspiration from clients’ answers to the questionnaires, things I’ve seen and heard and even my own experiences.

 

Teaching poets will often discuss the “emotional truth” of a poem. In order to write something that rings true to more than the folks who experienced something, it is essential to call upon an “emotional truth.” This is the connection that brings humans, with different experiences, together.

 

Therefore, I can remember an emotion that I’ve felt or seen expressed and then imbue a poem with that emotion through details relating to someone else’s experience. This approach also helps to make the poem more accessible to readers who might not know the couple as deeply. The poem is a vehicle to not only get to know the couple better, but also share something about humanity.

 

Advice:

When you order a personalized wedding poem, please try to offer as many details as possible. For example, if you were relaying the story about how you first met, the story might be slightly stale because you’ve told it so many times and you’ve started to summarize it, instead of really sharing all of the details (the weather, what s/he was wearing, etc.) Try to remember when it happened and call upon your five senses in order to best describe it. I won’t be able to include all of the details in the poem, but the details that I do include will be most vivid.

 

I might also be able to find connections between various experiences and weave something more closely related to the couple than I could otherwise. Your physical and emotional details will help me to offer an emotional truth to your readers.

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by Angela LiguriThank you to Angela Liguori for taking some time during the busy holiday season to share her expertise and advice about wedding invitations. Don’t miss her website with more gorgeous images. Find out what she’s been up to recently on her blog.

 

 

The language on an invitation can be a tricky thing. Do you have suggestions about how to choose the right words?

 

For the wording I always refer to an excellent book by Julie Holcomb entitled Wedding Invitations Handbook . So much meaning can be read between the lines! I strongly recommend this book, before even starting to design the invitations. It is beautifully written, with a lot of details.

 

 

What percentage of a wedding budget does a couple usually spend on invitations?

 

The wedding invitation is the first impression of the event your guests will receive by opening the envelope. From every detail it reflects the style of the wedding, if it is modern or traditional, formal or more casual. So much it can be seen from the use of paper, typefaces and wording. Couples who decide to have a personal designer for their wedding invitation are giving much importance to this first impression. Anyway, it is still a marginal cost compare to the wedding gown, the reception or the honeymoon.

 

 

What can couples do to make your design work easier for you? How much input do you expect from them?

 

I usually show the couple my portfolio of samples during the first meeting. It is very helpful when they can give me an idea of what they like or they have a sense of style that will reflect their wedding. Sometimes they have a theme color already, or the location and time of the wedding can give the first input to the wedding invitations. For example, if it is a fall wedding, we try to keep in mind some deep fall colors for the paper, maybe an ornament to be included in the design or the color of printing for the text. Every detail can contribute to design.

 

What makes your service unique?

 

I work closely with the couple, and I like to design something unique for each of them, that reflects their sense of style, the flavor of the event, but that remains personal.

 

Do couples usually order save the dates, thank you cards, invitations all from the same source? What is the advantage of doing that?

 

Sometimes couples do order all the pieces of the wedding invitations from the same designer, sometimes they like to make or chose something on their own. I think it is important to work on the same style from the beginning to the end, but I understand when the couple is also trying to save some of the costs and buy thank you notes or save the dates from other sources.

 

This blog is primarily for the “unbride.” What invitation advice would you offer her?

 

Try to enjoy the event fully, without too many worries. It is your day and you will remember it forever!

 

How have Italian paper and traditions influenced your work?

 

I think I developed my sense of aesthetic, colors, and design mainly from growing up in Italy. It is something that became part of me early on in my work. I also always like to include Italian paper or other materials in my designs. Personally, I believe it adds quality to the final piece.

 

by Angela Liguri

by Angela Liguriby Angela Liguri 

For more information:

 

Carta, Inc., originally from Rome, Italy, now located in Boston, is a graphic design studio specializing in custom made stationery, invitations, business cards and hand-bound books. The most recent addition to their products is a line of cotton ribbons directly imported from Rome.

 

Owner Angela Liguori also collaborates with graphic designer Silvana Amato on some limited edition books, under the imprint of Edizioni Almenodue, which translates as “Press of at Least two.” Since 1998, they’ve collaborated with several illustrators, calligraphers, papermakers, type designers and translators for their editions.

 

Books and calendars by Edizioni Almenodue can be found in several Special Collection Libraries throughout the United States and Europe.

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www.angelaliguori.com

http://angelaliguori.blogspot.com/

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Here is the final installment in my fiancé’s blog on tradition. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

 

***

 

Yesterday, I wrote about the value of tradition, even to a tradition-shunning couple like us. We don’t want to do anything just because everyone else is doing it. But we will be following some traditions. Why?

 

Yesterday’s reason was that traditions help to connect us to other people, across time and space. They build connections, and as humans, we crave connection.

 

The second reason I think tradition might be worth respecting is that if it stood the test of time, that might mean it works pretty well. Of course, it might “work” for some people and not others, and it might not work as well as something we haven’t tried yet. Improvement is important. But people in the past weren’t all stupid, and they often have had to try to solve the same problems that we have.

 

To put it in game theoretic terms, traditions are ways of identifying or even selecting an equilibrium. By equilibrium, I mean a solution to an environment of human interaction. For example, think about traffic. As we drive down two-way roads, we need to make sure that cars going in opposite directions don’t crash into each other. The solution is, as you approach an oncoming car, you move to the right. If everyone does this, we’re in great shape.

 

The stakes in the game of traffic are pretty high, so we don’t just rely on the tradition of passing to the right. We legislate it. But check out the sidewalk. In the United States, people tend to move to the right as they approach each other. Not always, but it’s a useful norm. And we do it because, well, it’s a tradition.

 

A lot of traditions help solve coordination and cooperation problems. (Thinking of tradition and culture in this way is not a new idea. It’s common in social and political sciences.) The weekend gets a large number of us to take the same days off, so we can schedule social events at a time when many people can participate. Holidays are the same thing.  Traditions identify an equilibrium solution and popularize it, so we all don’t need to figure it out on our own.

 

And of course, there is no reason why we have to pass on the right. The left works just fine, if that’s what we decide to do. And if we all took Tuesday and Wednesday off, that would also be a weekend. Any of those would do. There, we say there are multiple equilibria. And culture, or tradition, helps us choose.

 

Chloe’ and I are thinking we don’t like the long aisle for our wedding. We also don’t want the usually parade of people from the back of the room. But the truth is, if you are going to have an event that people will watch, it makes sense to put it at one end of the room and then point all the chairs at it. And then you need to have some way of getting all the key players to the front of the room. “Here comes the bride” is a pretty good solution. And when everyone hears that tune, they will know what is happening, and know what they are supposed to do. If we change things around, it will be unfamiliar to people. A little unfamiliarity can be fun, but we can’t count on everyone to react in a particular way.

 

The wedding registry is another such tradition. Typically, a wedding marks a couple’s entry into the world on their own. They need furniture, dishes, linens. That’s expensive, so we decide to help out. And if everyone in society can expect a little help when they are setting up their household, that’s great. When we get older and are in a better position to help out a new couple, well, we’ll help them out.

 

The problem for us – and for many couples in our generation – is that we lived on our own for several years before we got together. We don’t need a new blender. We already have two. So how do we participate in this tradition? We could be magnanimous and say we don’t want any presents. But our friends are generous. They want to do something. So we, along with many couples, need to adjust the tradition to accommodate our new situation. We need something that is consistent with the past, since many of our guests are expecting a registry with duvet covers and silver forks.

 

 

Our solution: We’re going to register for our honeymoon. A lot of couples have started doing this. We think it’s a nice approach. If you’d like a suggestion from us as to what we’d like to start our life together (which is basically what the registry is), we suggest that, instead of a gravy boat, you consider ferry tickets to Santorini.

 

The best thing about this solution is that it doesn’t mess with the tradition too much. Our guests will surely be able to roll with it. We are sticking with the basic equilibria – everyone helps out couples as they are starting off – but we are merging it with another tradition – couples get away alone together shortly after they marry.

 

Now, if we can just figure out how to get us to the stage.

 

Tips:

 

I said yesterday that “tradition” can be a dirty word. And I meant it. But tradition serves a purpose. Just think about what that purpose is.

 

Remember: There are a million ways for a wedding to be. You won’t even be the first person not to wear white, not to throw the bouquet, not to not see each other before the ceremony. Think about wedding traditions like a cafeteria menu. Choose what you want. Think about why you want them, and what they will mean to you. Then do what you like.

 

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My fiancé and I have been discussing tradition at length. He kindly agreed to share some of his thoughts on the blog. Hope you’ll add yours in the Comments section.

 

***

 

Tradition

 

If you haven’t noticed, tradition isn’t going to figure heavily in our wedding. Chloe’ doesn’t want the traditional dress, the traditional ceremony, or the traditional anything.

 

And, as a good modern liberal, I agree. Colored-only water fountains were a “tradition.” Marriage limited to a man and a woman is a “tradition.” Employer-provided but largely unregulated health insurance is a “tradition.” If the best argument you can give for doing something is that we’ve always (or even just lately) done it, it’s probably time to stop doing it.  “Tradition” might even be a dirty work.

 

Except…

 

I can think of two good reasons why a tradition should be respected simply because it is a tradition. Questioned, maybe, even abandoned, but at least considered.

 

The first is that traditions help to build connections across time and place. If every year, on your birthday, you go to a favorite restaurant, that helps to remind you of where you’ve come from and how you got where you are now. Every American family I know celebrates Thanksgiving a little differently, but there are enough common threads that we know we are connected to each other. It’s something we can share, even when we aren’t together.

 

From a social science perspective (which is what I usually take), this is the stuff that defines your group, defines your identity.  It is the stuff of culture. Of course, some elements of our culture are bad, and we should change them. We do that by picking and choosing, casting aside those that have little meaning to us, and gathering up those that are important.

 

But that’s a choice, and it should be made consciously. For example: The Rose Bowl used to be a game between the top Pac-10 and top Big Ten football teams. When Northwestern went in 1995, we knew our team was doing something that other, usually better teams had done. It was an accomplishment precisely because it was just like every other year. The BCS has undermined that (and not even gotten us a national championship, but that’s another issue), and something is lost.

 

Culturally, traditions like this help a couple create their identity. Having a “Jewish wedding” or a “Korean wedding” or a “Southern wedding” is a choice, and it connects to a cherished culture. Couples with a mixed heritage can choose elements from one tradition and another.

 

You protect the traditions that connect you to people and experiences you want to connect to. Chloe’ is not going to be “given away” at our wedding, because that’s a practice that we don’t think makes sense for us. She is not property, and I’m not prepared to take ownership.

 

We can also choose how to interpret our traditions. (For other couples, being “given away” may mean something else.) It seems sad to me when we follow a tradition without knowing why we are doing it. Then we are connecting to nothing. But we also can change the meaning to suit the modern world. The Jewish tradition of crushing a glass underfoot at the conclusion of the ceremony has multiple interpretations. Some say it represents the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Others say the breaking of the hymen. I heard one Rabbi say that the marriage should last as long as it would take to reassemble the glass, split into many shards. I’m inclined to believe the research that suggests the practice originated a way to trick evil spirits. If they saw that a glass was broken, they would decide that enough trouble had been caused at this wedding and move on to another.

 

We probably won’t be breaking any glasses, but we will be choosing our traditions, and thinking about what they mean. We may even adopt some traditions that no one in our families has ever practiced. What matters is that they mean something to us.

 

To that end, please share with us any and all traditions that you have seen or practiced. We’d love to hear about them.

 

Hans and Chloe' at Smith College 2007

 

Tomorrow: Traditions as equilibria, or ways of selecting from among multiple equilibria.

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Poet Elisabeth von Uhl, author of Ocean Sea, shares her search for a beautiful wedding invitation. Thanks, Elisabeth!

 ***

            Like the relationship, the wedding is also a practice in compromise.  Luckily for me, my husband-to-be was pretty supportive of the decisions I made regarding the wedding.  He had bought into the idea that girls plan their weddings from infancy.  Of course, I was highly offended by this idea (as if I did not have better things to think of as a youth?!?!), but then realized it gave me license to make many of the decisions. 

 

            One of the decisions was the announcement of the wedding: the invite and the save-the-date card.  Of course, I, like Chloe, obsess over the written word so any announcement regarding the rest of my life in words had to be perfect.  Sadly, though, people like Emily Post and social expectations have already decided the words for you;  You only have a say in the aesthetics of the announcement.

 

            Sadly, I do not really remember any of the invites from the previous weddings I had attended.  Most of them were kits bought at Target or Staples and printed out on home computers.  Others were invites bought from printers that looked exactly like those printed at home.  So I spent time at Target and at Staples looking at their off-white invites with their smashed white bows.  Likewise, the save-the-date cards were generic and simply blah.  Other save-the-date options were magnets or calendars, both of which were not priority in which to spend money.  So I decided to download an old vintage template for a Chicago (the location of our wedding) postcard.  Then I went online and had them printed from vistaprint.com.

 

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/photos-illinois/GreetingsChicago.jpg

 

Viola!  Money still left in the pocket. 

 

From this experience, I was even more motivated that a deal was to be had in the invitation department.  I consulted the do-it-yourself Diva, the Martha Stewart.  I love her Weddings magazine and found many, many DIY ideas to trim my budget.  But I also found lovely, lovely invitations in which to salivate over.  Almost all those beautiful invites featured in the Weddings magazines (yet I had yet to see such beautiful invites in person) were letterpressed, a process involving raised, metal type.  Because of this, letterpress demands high-quality paper for this process.  The process also demands an artist to set the press and design the blocks used for printing, hence letterpress is a bit pricey and, not necessarily accessible or sold in any old store.  But I was hooked; even more convincing, my mother who was married in the Seventies had a simple, white 3 by 5 inch, cotton-paper invite with simple, block raised words announcing her marriage to my father.  You could run your hand over it and feel the words.  It was quite delightful and “regal”.   So even though, most thought me crazy to invest in invites, because “people throw them away”, I still wanted a beautiful record of the wedding.  I also wanted a work of art, not some generic piece of paper in which my public commitment to my husband was announced.  So after scouring the internet, I settled on beautiful thermograph (a modern-day alterative in which the type is raised by heat and then the ink is dusted on) invites.

 Elisabeth and Jay's Wedding Invitation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some links to letterpress websites:

 

http://www.9spotmonk.com/index.html

 

http://studioonfire.com/index.cfm?section_id=4da58521-123f-c2cf-f348-7fa2fac92540

 

http://www.dauphinepress.com/

 

http://www.etsy.com 

 

http://www.weddingpaperdivas.com/

 

 ***

I hope you’ll pre-order a copy of Elisabeth’s forthcoming book, Ocean Sea. I already ordered mine and can’t wait to read it.

Ocean Sea by Elisabeth von Uhl 

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We’ve all been to weddings where we’ve watched the wedding party awkwardly pose before a fake column or lawn. We’ve seen the obligatory kiss and the hand holding. Nothing looks natural. Everyone looks like a bad actor in a pretend wedding.

 

You don’t need those pictures, but you do want a visual memory of the day that documents real events.

 

I recently spoke with Tony Richards, a wedding photographer with a photojournalistic style, who offered some hints about how to find the best photographer for your event.

 

First and foremost, Tony suggested that you ask photographers about their style. A photographer who is a photojournalist will lean towards more natural, candid shots. For example, they will be able to capture true emotion in the guests and bridal party and include details from the space (flowers, architecture, natural beauty, etc.) A more formal wedding photographer will rely more on portraits and formal poses. 

 

Here are some samples he shared with me:

 

By Tony Richards

 

By Tony RichardsBy Tony Richardsby Tony Richardsby Tony Richards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will probably want a mix of both styles in the end: a photographer who is a photojournalist, but can also be relied upon in order to set up a few posed family shots. (Aunt Lolly would be terribly offended if she wasn’t asked to pose, at least for a few minutes.)

 

When you are comparing packages and prices, be sure to ask what is included: negatives, prints (and their sizes), DVD of pictures, album type, a web gallery that guests can access later and use to order their own copies, if there will be an assistant, if engagement photos are included, etc.

 

One venue that my fiancé and I looked at in NJ had a built-in bookshelf in the dining room with a large space for our “engagement photo.” Engagement photo? I hadn’t known about this (should my fiancé have hired a photographer to be on site before he proposed?) I asked Tony about this practice.

 

Tony includes engagement photos in some of his packages because of their versatility. This more casual photo shoot, which usually occurs sometime before the wedding, allows the couple a chance to become more accustomed to being photographed, more comfortable with the photographer and the photographer can be even more creative with these shots, which makes the final shots more striking. They can be used in save the date, an announcement (like the always coveted New York Times wedding announcements), given as a favor at the wedding, etc. Hearing Tony explain it, it sounded like a lot of fun.

 

A way to cut down on the cost is to create the album yourself. There are a variety of different kinds of albums, from the old-fashioned kind you simply slip the pictures into to a digital album that is designed page by page by the photographer (or by you, if you have the technical skill.) Tony said that he particularly enjoys designing albums, especially since he can send JPEGs of the pages to the clients to ask for their suggestions before the final printing. This ensures that everyone is satisfied. (Can you remember life before the internet?)

 

Photographers are often in the way and in every guest’s picture. Tony admitted that it is hard for him to avoid being in the center of the action in order to take pictures he was hired to take. His advice for limiting this potential problem is to give the photographer a very clear schedule of events for the day. If he knows what is coming next, then he can step aside after he’s gotten the shot he wanted, without risking missing anything.

 

Overall, Tony recommended that couples be as specific as they can with him. Write out a list of people and group shots that are necessary and when they will be taken, when the toasts will be given, etc. The more information that he has, the better job he can do. If you can meet with the photographer and be armed not only with the day’s schedule, but also pictures you’ve cut out of magazines and really like, he can better understand your sense of style and your goals for the day. Finally, during the day, let him know when something changes.

 

Some religious spaces have rules about when and where photographs can be taken. You can help the photographer out by finding out about these rules ahead of time.

 

Tony’s background as a photojournalist helped him to be comfortable with large crowds and getting a good shot quickly. In the newspaper industry, you can’t ask someone to pose or try again. He uses these skills while he shoots weddings. You want a photographer who not only has the technical skills to take the pictures, but also the social skills to handle the crowds and make everyone feel comfortable with him (as a poet, I know that not all award-winning artists naturally have these social skills.)

 

Tony and his wife Grace live in Ann Arbor, but planned a wedding in D.C. recently. He said that they found a photographer through the internet and then face-to-face meetings. They were able to do most of their research online and then met with some people in D.C. before making a final decision. He said that one hint is to look for a photographer with well-lit, indoor ceremony shots. Since indoor ceremonies are often darker spaces, a well-lit photograph shows the photographer’s expertise in lighting.

 

For more information, check out his website, Tony Richards Photography. He will be relocating to D.C. and would love to hear from you.

 

Advice:

Photographers, like other vendors, seem to book about a year in advance. Start looking at websites, asking friends for recommendations, and collecting pictures that you like from websites and magazines. Meet with a few photographers so that you can best compare prices and their work. Each one should have either a web gallery or albums for you to look at in order to get a sense of their style.

 

All of your pictures don’t have to be taken by a professional. Get your friends’ perspective by setting up a Flickr or other webpage where guests can upload their pictures. You can also put disposable digital cameras on the tables and then upload the pictures for everyone to see.

 

Professional photography is an expensive venture because it requires a lot of work, from setting up for the pictures to touching up the final shots and creating the album. We all think that we have the skills to do this now that we can so easily take digital pictures, but when you see the professional photographer’s studio and work, you’ll see the difference in quality immediately.

 

Have a wedding photographer to recommend? Please use the comment section to give him or her a shout-out. Don’t forget to include the website.

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