Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘guest blog’

A Room of Her Own Retreat photo by Miriam BerkleyThank you to Erika Dreifus for inviting me to blog a second time for her wonderful Practicing Writing blog. (You might remember my first blog, Writing Your Family History.)

I mentioned to Erika that I would be attending A Room of Her Own’s summer writing retreat on the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. She asked me to write a two-part series on the retreat. This first blog post was written before leaving for the retreat. I describe my expectations and preparations for the one week writing retreat for female authors located where Georgia O’Keefe was inspired to paint her southwest landscapes. I begin with a few obsessions.

Stay tuned for the second one about my experiences.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Family reading personal cardsTable settings with individual cardsHillary Dorwart and her groom handwrote a card to every single guest at their wedding. Each individual card addressed something about their individual relationship. Wow! I asked Hillary to share her experiences with us. I think you’ll be as touched as I was to read this story.

 


A minute to say hello, a card to last forever. How to address everyone at your wedding.

My husband, Jon, and I knew we’d at least be able to say hi to everyone who attended our wedding and anything beyond “Hi, thank you so much for coming. It’s wonderful to see you,” would be icing on the (wedding) cake. But we knew that at some point during our rotation around tables, some guests would be up for another drink or headed for the dance floor. How were we going to tell our guests exactly how much it meant that they traveled in for our special day? We also wanted to convey the message of love, appreciation and perhaps impart a memory or two. 

The writer in me, who appreciates writing and receiving hand-written letters, thought of the perfect way to relay messages to everyone. Why don’t we write all of our guests hand-written cards? Jon and I wrote cards individually or as a couple – depending upon who we were addressing. Friends or family of mine that Jon had never met or did not know as well, were written by me and vice versa. Family or friends we knew equally as well were written together. 

These cards were placed at the tables before the guests entered for the reception. The envelopes addressed the person or couple and in this way they acted as the table’s place cards. The cards also acted as our wedding favor. Many guests said they would keep our note forever. Everyone was just stunned by this gesture!

No one could believe we took that kind of time to write them a personalized message. All in all we had 130 guests attend. It took a few late nights, and a lot of focus – but it was easier than people think. We had a wonderful time reflecting upon memories with our family and friends. Nostalgia, excitement, appreciation and love were felt with each note we started and finished. What a wonderful way to celebrate the people in our lives who supported us and our marriage.

Read Full Post »

OneWed.ComThanks to OneWed for inviting me to blog about how to find the best readings for your wedding. It is a great site and I think you’ll enjoy the collection of Expert Tips and Advice.

Feel free to comment below on your favorite wedding reading ideas.

Read Full Post »

Hans and I met Galina Gorokhova and her husband Vitaliy at the Kenville Dance Studios, where we take ballroom dance classes. Recently, they kindly had us over for a Russian cooking class (more details to come in another entry) and shared their wedding pictures and some of their wedding video with us. In each picture, you can see how in love they are with each other. I so enjoyed hearing about the Russian traditions and what they decided to incorporate into their wedding in St. Petersburg that I asked Galina to write a guest blog entry on Russian weddings. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Thanks, Galina, for sharing your thoughts with us!

***

Galina and Vitaliy on their wedding day

A Typical Russian Wedding

In Russia weddings have always been a tremendous three –day event where a large amount of people was invited. 

Preparing for a wedding doesn’t take such a long time as in America for example.

Usually people go to a city hall two month prior to their wished wedding date. They write an application that they want to be married on that particular date.

All the nearest relatives take part in this event. Guests are sent invitations. If the celebration is not taking place in a restaurant then the women cook different meals. The cars in which the guests of the wedding will travel are decorated with tapes, flowers and balloons. No doubt the most beautiful one must be the car for bride and groom. It is decorated with huge rings. 

Also before the wedding it’s important to choose two witnesses. One of them must be male and the other one – female. By the way groom usually chooses the male, and the bride chooses female to be witnesses. These are as a rule best friends, brothers or sisters of the young couple.

A lot of attention is paid to the clothes of a groom and a bride. In Russia the groom is usually wearing strict black suit and white shirt. The dress of a bride is to the contrary traditionally of white color. There is a veil on her head. Besides, the groom mustn’t see the bride in her dress before the wedding. In Russia it’s considered to be a bad sign.

An important custom is the buy-out of bride. The groom and his friends must come to the house of the bride. Guests from the girl’s side are waiting for them here. The guy must pass several trials to see and to take his bride away. For example he is asked to make compliments to the bride. Or they can check how well he knows her asking different questions about her. If he doesn’t know the answer to the question or is mistaken then he must pay money. 

The groom is given the bride in the end. When a young couple goes to street parents sprinkle them with rice or coins. This is done for future prosperity and well-being of newly-married couple.

After that future spouses sit into the car and go to the wedding palace. Guests follow them. Decorated cars go on the streets in column. During the travel they’re certainly signaling so that all the associates paid attention to them and knew about the holiday 

The official part of the wedding takes place in a registry office. It’s rarer for couples to arrange wedding ceremony at a church. During the wedding the groom and bride exchange rings symbolizing their love and devotion to each other.

After the official registration a newly-married couple goes to the trip through the city with guests. They stay at mostly important monuments and sightseeing. Besides, there is a tradition that the groom must carry bride on his hands through all the bridges in the city. Of course it is rarely executed but at least one bridge is necessary. As a rule at each staying guests say toasts for the young family. Usually people drink champagne.

At this time the parents of a groom go home. After the city trip all the others also come here. The groom’s parents meet a newly-married couple with bread and salt in front of the house entry. They wish the new family happy life together. After that they treat the groom and bride with bread and salt. It’s considered that the host in the house will be that of them who breaks off or bites off a bigger piece of bread. 

Then guests go to a place where the celebration will take place. Here a magnificent table is waiting for them. The groom and bride sit at it first. By the way bride sits right of the groom, and the groom’s parents are right to bride. After that the other people take their places, and the celebratory dinner starts. It is accompanied with numerous toasts for happiness, health and well-being for the groom and bride.

 Besides if you are at a Russian wedding don’t be surprised when you’ll quite often hear here guest shouts “Bitterly!” (Gorko) Sometimes even too often. Don’t think it far doesn’t speak that the food isn’t tasty. In fact when guests shout “Bitterly!” that means that the groom and bride must kiss each other. By the way sometimes you can also hear “Sweet!” (Sladko) And this moment witnesses must kiss each other.

Guests give presents to newly-married couple. Usually wedding presents are practical. Lots of guests even give money. Also different kinds of home appliances are popular.

 Also there is a tamada (host or toastmaster) at every wedding. The tamada is a person who leads a wedding and tries to make it cheerful and memorable. He carries competitions with the participation of the newly-married couple, witnesses, the parents of the bridegroom and the bride and other guests. Often the future of the couple is defined by the results of such competitions. For example they find out who and what duties will carry out. Also often they bear two trays. Guests are offered to put money on one of them depending on whose birth they allow from the young family – a boy or a girl. After all who wanted have voted this way tamada counts money for a boy and for a girl. It’s considered that that of them will be born for whom the assembled sum is bigger. By the way the first piece of wedding cake is also supplied from the auction. Sometimes tamada sings. Actually music is present at Russian weddings. After the dinner guests always dance.

 Usually weddings take part on week ends. On the second day the bride isn’t wearing her white dress. This day guests gather again together and continue having fun. There aren’t any special traditions on the third day.

Our Wedding

All wedding look the same. You’ll notice that if you’re ever to choose the photographer or a cameraman. It is so dull to observe all traditions all the time. So when it came to our wedding we did a modern wedding.

First, we skipped witnesses because we didn’t what to make our friends ill at ease when choosing between them. They are all best!

Second, there was no white dress and black suit.  White doesn’t go with my pale skin and we both hate black. We even asked our guests not to wear black.  Nobody minded. 

Third, there weren’t such stupid things as buy-out of the bride and “Gorko shouting”.

We thought it is silly to ask my future husband questions about me after 7 years of being together and make him pay money for me. Am I a thing or what? I found it offending as well as getting up and kissing whenever people shout; we are not  circus dogs, aren’t we? Instead of shouting “Gorko” we gave each of our guest a bell to ring to make some noise to give way to emotions. 

And fourth, there were not any games or tricks with money. We wanted our guests to have fun and not to spend their money.

Giving up a tradition is not an easy thing. We had some fights with our families on some of the things which didn’t go with traditions.

But after all it was our wedding and we successfully did it! And even those who didn’t believe it would be fun were satisfied. Because something new is always good!

Read Full Post »

I recently guest blogged for BravoBride. I invite you to read my piece Writing your own wedding vows: To Have, and to hold, and … {fill in the blank.}

Thanks, Susan, for the opportunity. Read more about BravoBride here.

Read Full Post »

 Erika Dreifus

Writing expert Erika Dreifus kindly invited me to write a guest blog entitled, “Writing Your Family History: Five Hints.”  Erika’s blog Practicing Writer and her newsletter  are incredible resources for writers. When I need some advice, I always turn to her list of resources. I hope you will check it out.

 

My mother, a professional photographer, and I compiled a collection of paired poems and photographs documenting our family’s emigration from southern Italy to New Jersey. These pieces are based on visits to the town where our family originated, oral histories collected with Americans and Italians, historical documents and cultural history about the towns and time periods involved. What we created contains an emotional truth and some facts, but the stories mostly contain facts as we experienced them or as they were told to us. We continue to translate the experiences in the form of our art.

 

Here are some of those poems published (sadly without the photographs):

 

Poem “Question of Return” in Lumina.

Poems “Spring Pool Water,” “Noisier Than the Milk,” and “Statue of Liberty, 1890 Spiralbridge.

Poem “Teresa serves dinner at 20:00” in Conte: An Online Journal of Narrative Writing.

 

My personalized wedding poem company, Word Arrangement and this blog grew out of these experiences. I enjoyed collecting oral histories and translating them into poems and found a way to continue with this interest. Through wedding poems, I am lucky enough to be able to hear other people’s stories. I particularly enjoy hearing love stories!

 

If you are interested in learning more on the subject of Writing Family History and you are in the Ann Arbor area, here are two upcoming opportunities:

 

I am presenting a workshop entitled, “Writing Your Family History” at the Ann Arbor Book Festival on Friday, May 15th from 10 – 11 am.

Here is the program description: Researching and writing your family history doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In this session, learn tips on how to gather information and brainstorm ideas before translating the stories and research into a form that you can share with family members.

 

 

I will also be teaching a related one session class through the Ann Arbor Rec & Ed the evening of May 7:

Here is the class description:

Preserve Family History

Don’t let the intimate stories of your unique family history pass on with loved ones. Learn how to collect these special stories from your family. Discover how to get started and complete an interview. Develop a better understanding of how to craft the questions, answer questions and what to do with the final product. 1 class.

5/7

6:30 – 8:30 pm

(Page 12, Spring 2009 catalogue)

 

 

An essay of mine about writing about your family history was published in the Canadian geneology magazine Family Chronicle last summer. Thanks to the Anglo-Celtic Connections Blog for the shout-out!

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »