Posts Tagged ‘wedding planning’

If I were an auctioneer, I could quickly list everything we’ve been working on: seatingweddingrogramceremonyreadingsmenussongchoicestablesignsohmy!

Lots of little details, but it does feel as though it is all coming together. At this point, we are mostly tweaking and finalizing everything. That said, we do have to finish the tweaking and finalizing.

I’ve had a chance to relax a little. I shipped my shower presents and received them on Tuesday in the mail. I planted my new Italian herb garden, mixed in my new red bowl and watched tv under the tree-blanket that my friend made for me. Tonight I’m going to make one of the brownie recipes from my new collection of friends’ recipes for a potluck dinner tomorrow night.

Yesterday and this morning haven’t been filled with pensive thoughts. Mostly, I have work to do for my day jobs (there are a number of them.) Yesterday I started tutoring two new students (one MBA grad and one UM undergrad) in Italian. They found my listing on the UM Language Resource Center list of tutors. I’ve also been grading writing papers from two online classes.

Tonight we are going to be saying goodbye to a poet-friend who lives in town and is moving west. Then, our last wedding-dance class. Looking forward to breaking in those new shoes. Luckily, the heels aren’t too high (I could never be as tall as my fiance’, so I might as well make sure I won’t trip at the wedding.)

Tomorrow I am presenting at the Rochester Writer’s Conference. The copies are ready and so is my syllabus. I present from 10 – 11:15. It is about an hour away from Ann Arbor, so I think it will be an early morning. Oy. The subject of the conference is “Make More Money with your Writing!” I hope to learn something new.

With this long to do list, I gotta run…

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Gallop Park, MIToday is the bachelorette party. My maid of honor, who I have renamed the “Chief Wonderful Woman,” or “Chief” for short, has planned an amazing day for me at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and then dinner in New York City.

Instead of traipsing through the gardens in the middle of the most poetic borough (home to the Brooklyn Book Festival), I am lying in my childhood twin bed blogging. I am trying to avoid getting sick. My body feels like a stone; I am exhausted from so many things, as you might be able to guess. 

The Chief, Mother of the Bride and I decided to cut the day short and start with dinner, which sounds great. I feel terribly guilty for not being in tip-top shape, but I’d hate to get anyone sick at the shower tomorrow. How could I let myself get sick and infect my favorite (female) loved ones? 

The Chief worked closely with me to plan the bachelorette festivities, which I really appreciated. I had strict rules about what not to include (strippers, penis straws, etc.) Otherwise, it was mostly up to her. She worked closely with some of the local bridesmaids (who I call the “Wonderful Women”) and it sounds like a beautiful evening! I can’t wait.

For tonight’s festivities, we decided to invite very close female friends who are local to NYC. I think the very hardest part of the wedding planning has been the various invite lists. As a shy one, it is important to me to have small, intimate groups. Even so, I love many people from different parts of my life for different reasons. 

It was hard for me, who is not only shy, but also a feminist, to decide to limit the invite list to only women. I have male friends who I care about and my fiancé had a co-ed bachelor party, which I didn’t mind (especially since it also didn’t include strippers or … I don’t even want to guess that else it could have had…)

Maybe this shy feminist is slightly more traditional than she realized. It sounds special to gather together as women and celebrate this new step in my life. Planning the wedding, almost like studying abroad and encountering a new culture, has helped me to consider parts of myself that I hadn’t necessarily thought carefully about before.

So here I am, waiting in bed until the evening. As the Italians say, I’ll be “brava.”

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A good way to relax. Have your picture taken with dinosaurs outside of the ROM in TorontoThere are 21 days until the wedding day and I am reading the Huffington Post’s Complete Guide to Blogging. In my case, these two things are intimately connected. 

The book encourages bloggers to be more personal and spontaneous in their posts. As a poet, I do anything but write quickly. I am personal in my poetry – from an emotional truth perspective – but I don’t tend to divulge too many details. (I promise, you can read many of my poems as fictional accounts of something true. I didn’t sleep with the married man in one poem and I didn’t give birth in the other. It is imagination, workshoppers, I promise.) I think that practicing being more spontaneous will offer even more personal insight into wedding planning. A win-win situation, right? 

So, for my readers and my writing, I’ve decided to test myself and blog – at least a few lines – every day until the wedding day. I won’t over-edit or over-think. If, however, my fiancé asks me to refrain from something, I will. Immediately. My future marriage is more important than a good line.

I’d love to share my experience so other brides can avoid some of the feelings I’ve experienced. I look at wedding magazines and feel isolated – I don’t live a pill-induced-skinny-life with a wedding planner. I’m not surrounded by girlfriends who live nearby and don’t work, so they can help with the details as we sit around and drink Cosmos. 

Instead, I am (not necessarily in this order): an online teacher for two schools, online editor, poet who writes and submits work, blogger, personalized wedding poet, wedding planner, bride, Italian tutor, Italian teacher, conference presenter, fiancé, daughter, grand-niece, home chef and I have errands to run, too. Frankly, this is the case for most working artists. We have a lot of projects.

I have chosen my path – professionally and personally – purposely. I am happy to have the freedom to travel and do my online work from anywhere. I enjoy all of my projects and would be bored if I only had one. I want to plan my wedding with my fiancé instead of spending our life savings on hiring people to do things we can do and maybe even do better.   

Sometimes, though, it is overwhelming. I have found some successful ways to break through the overwhelming feelings and be more productive. I know that the wedding that we are planning is exactly the one we want. And if anything goes wrong, no one else will know (unless you are reading my blog, perhaps? Shhh. Don’t tell.)

I hope that my experience will help to share my experiences, taper some isolation for other brides in my situation and entertain a little. Your comments, oh wise married and marrying ones, will offer feedback to those same brides so they can have the best experience ever.  After all, as my bridesmaid Amy said the other day, “Enjoy everything! As far as I can tell, nothing like this will ever happen again.”

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Most couples give their groomsmen a small gift of thanks, but buying the gifts is one of those jobs that can slip down and down the wedding planning priority list and then get rushed at the last minute.  It’s also a job that often falls to the groom and let’s face it, a lot of men are not naturally endowed with gift-buying talent.  So here’s a few ideas for groomsmen gifts that won’t break the bank:

1.  Maglite.  Starting at $10, and available in a range of sizes and colours, these anodised aluminium flashlights are waterproof and virtually indestructible.  You can even have them laser engraved – perhaps with your groomsmen’s names and the date of your wedding.  

2.  Bottle of whiskey.   It costs surprisingly little to buy a really good bottle of whiskey.  A decent Scottish single malt can be had for $30, and for $40 you could buy a bottle of Glenfiddich Solera Reserve, widely perceived to be one of the finest whiskeys in the world.  If your groomsmen are no more than 30-35 years old then you should be able to pick up a bottle of whiskey that was made in the same year they were – but you might need to scale down to a miniature if your budget is tight!   

 3.  Cufflinks.  These are a popular choice for groomsmen gifts, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.  Steampunk make a range of handcrafted cufflinks that start at $40 and will appeal to the inner boy in every man.  Some couples like to give cufflinks to their groomsmen before the ceremony, so they can wear them on the big day.

Mech cufflinks

Author Benjamin Parker is the editor of GroomPower.com, a wedding advice site for grooms.  It offers tips and advice on planning a honeymoon, writing the groom’s speech, and more.

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If you are looking to take classes this spring, I hope you’ll consider the classes I’m offering through Rec & Ed this April and May:


Intensive Italian for Travelers

Writing for Special Occasions

Preserve Family History



I think you’ll be *particularly* interested in Writing for Special Occasions. I’ll be sharing some secrets I’ve learned as a Personalized Wedding Poet.


For more information, here is the link to the catalogue.

You can register here.


Here are the details:


Writing For Special Occasions

Have you ever been asked to write a speech or poem for a special occasion? Do you enjoy expressing your own thoughts in a blank card presented to someone special? Get your creative juices flowing. Explore different forms of poetry and brainstorm ideas. The instructor will guide you in a workshop session to edit and perfect your work. 2 classes.

4/21 – 4/28

6:30 – 8:30 pm

(Page 12, Spring 2009 catalogue)


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.


6:30 – 8:30 pm

(Page 12, Spring 2009 catalogue)


Intensive Italian for Travelers (Level 1)

4/20 – 5/13 (Monday/Wednesday)

10:00 – 11:30 am

(Page 21, Spring 2009 catalogue)

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BravoBrideI first came across BravoBride in a New York Times article . It is an online marketplace *just* for weddings. Perfect. I’ve been scouring the website weekly since I learned about it. Everything from dresses and diamond rings to favors are for sale, used and new.


Why pay full price in this economy?


Founder and recent bride Susan Alexander Shapiro tells us more.




Susan Alexander Shapiro, founder BravoBrideHow did you come up with the idea for Bravobride?


I got married this past July 4th and when I was planning the wedding I found it frustrating to pay for expensive wedding items that I’d use once and only for a few hours.  I looked on Craigslist and Ebay but there wasn’t anything focused on just the bridal industry.


What is/was the most “out there” item for sale on your site? What is the most common item for sale?


We have a pair of ‘wedding boots’ on the site that are really unique. Our most popular items are definitely wedding dresses.


How is your site different from Craig’s List or other similar lists?

What sets me apart is that you won’t find fish tanks and bicycles on the site, we only focus on wedding products. Craigslist and Ebay are probably my biggest competitors but you have to search through so many things on Craigslist to find what you are looking for and it’s only for certain regions. Our site is nationwide and we have an advanced search so you can quickly find what you are looking for. The site is also broken down into different categories, such as dresses, jewelry, items for the ceremony and reception and more. Unlike Ebay is completely free to list items and there’s never a sale upon commission. There are a few other sites that that sell used wedding dresses but we are the only site that doesn’t charge a listing fee or take a commission upon sale.


What can the “unbride” find on your website?


The “unbride” can find everything from non-traditional wedding items, like these blue shoes to a Guide for the Groom book so you’re soon-to-be husband can help with the wedding planning.


What guarantee does a bride have that the product advertised is indeed what the seller says it is? In particular, I’m thinking about the rings and the more expensive items?


That’s a good question. Like Craigslist, we follow the buyer beware rule. We can not offer a guarantee since we are only connecting the buyers and seller and don’t stock actual merchandise. For more expensive items you may want to deal only locally or use a payment service where your transaction can be protected.


It is wonderful that you support the Go Red campaign. How did that relationship begin?


I wanted to support a cause that was for women since our site is geared towards brides. The Go Red campaign is near and dear to me because both of my Grandmother’s had heart disease and if effects more woman than cancer.


What was the best part of your own wedding?


Honestly the whole day was wonderful but I think the ceremony was the most special part. My husband’s aunt married us and they meant a lot to me.




Read a little more about the history of BravoBride here. You’ll get to see Susan’s husband Mark, too.


Have you bought something on BravoBride? Tell your story here.

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Please choose the end of this sentence: Wedding planning is…


A.    a blissful time to share great ideas with your beloved and family.

B.     a time to sit in a Brookstone mall massage chair trying to get the knots out of your neck without spending part of your wedding budget on a massage.


Of course, it is a bit of both.


My parents came to Michigan this weekend to help with wedding planning. We had sunny (although cold) weather while the northeast was hit by a huge snow storm. Luck was on our side. We managed to have fun while plodding through lists, budgets and dresses that had enough ribbing they could get married without me. Here are some tricks to make your wedding planning experience be halfway between the two options.


Trick one:

Find stores with free champagne


Mom and I drove the hour to the Somerset mall to look at dresses for her and to check out a Crate and Barrel wedding eventThere was a spread that included champagne, mini-quiches and pastries. Before picking up our free gift (a heart shaped candy bowl that now sits by our front door filled with mints) we wandered through the store and admired the various wares.


At this point, I had already decided on a dress and it was time for Mom to find a dress. We went into a few boutiques (one of which offered free champagne) and then went to some department stores with large dress selections. She tried on dresses and finally chose one. She also tried on some ridiculous options with feathers and extra parts, mostly for the camera. Sometimes the photographer needs to be photographed.


Trick two:

Have a free makeover


We stopped by the Aveda counter and I asked about makeup. Robert, the effervescent specialist, sat me right down and started to apply various foundations and eye makeup. It was great fun. We aren’t sure if he was joking about previously working as a wholesale reptile salesman or about his second ex-wife, but we all had a good laugh. Mom even tried a new eye makeup before taking this picture.


Aveda counter


Trick three:

See goofy movies


Two friends and I went to see Bride Wars recently with just the right mindset. This goofy, over the top movie will make you laugh and remind you how lucky you are to live a “regular” life. Unlike the characters, you don’t need to develop a “couple’s style” or get a tan before the big day. In fact, it’s safer if you don’t.



Trick four:

Go dress shopping with someone unexpected


My Dad didn’t think he would go dress shopping with us. When I shared the dress store appointments with my parents, he asked if he’d be able to nap at those times.


The morning of the first appointment, I asked my Dad to join us. I thought it was “the” place and I wanted him to see the dress. He agreed. (After all, he’d flown into Michigan from New Jersey.) In the end, it wasn’t “the” place, but being the hopeful girl that I am, I thought each successive place might be too and I didn’t want him to miss anything.


So, there was my dad sitting in a bit chair built for a king at the foot of the wooden stage in every store. He helped to take pictures, wandered around looking for other dress ideas, and offered very plain advice about what was flattering and what was simply absurd. He made jokes that helped to break the serious tone of the dress stores. Who else would have taken the picture of my mom and me in the same dress in different colors?


Towards the end, I was mostly thinking about the dresses and there was less to do. My Dad leaned back in the plush chair and tried to take a nap. Another girl and her mother were chattering away and kept him awake. As they left, we heard one say, “did you see that poor man?” He picked his head up and looked at the saleslady. She said, “I knew you weren’t sleeping!” and we all laughed. Poor man? We couldn’t have had more fun.





It is easy to lose a job because you’re spending so much time scouring the web for discounts, proper etiquette, etc.. Resist the urge. Step by step, everything will get done. Embrace your inner engaged self and take advantage of what our commercial culture has available to you for laughs and free drinks. And don’t forget to bring someone along.

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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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