Requiem for the Mother of the Bride

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Emotions of the mother of the bride

When you hear the word “requiem”, you always think death.  But in death, there is new life.  As the last chords of the requiem for the Mother of the Bride plays, a new life is indeed born.  Welcome, Mother-in-Law.

Brighid and Brent Wedding Day

Our new family portrait

Admittedly, I was never comfortable with my own Mother-in-Law.  She was kind on one hand, but with each kindness, there were strings or clauses.  She spent much of the first 24 years of my marriage making me feel guilty whenever I would spend time with my own parents, even in my mother’s final days.  I hung in so long trying to be a “good” daughter-in-law, because I thought that anything I did to alienate her would cause my children to lose their grandmother’s affection.  It turns out that that affection had its own variety of strings.

As a Mother of the Bride, everything is planning and parties and fun.  You get to pick out flowers and help choose gowns.  You taste food, eat cake, and drink champagne.

As a Mother-in-Law, it’s all stress and worry about not interfering but not coming off as uncaring.  It’s about not trying to impose our family’s traditions (and baggage) on someone else’s child.  It’s about making someone else’s child feel all the feels your own kids feel – without making them feel like they betray their own parents to do so.

Emotions of the mother of the bride

Not losing a daughter, gaining a son

When the mother of the bride gig is over, the real work kicks in.  Gone is the woman whose biggest stress was losing 40 pounds or finding Spanx built to make it look like she did.  She has been replaced by the woman who wants her new son to know we don’t as much need him to “fit in” as much as we need to be accepted.

I will miss the Mother of the Bride.  She served her purpose for 18 months, saw her aspirations fulfilled, and left a legacy of merriment that will be long remembered.

I am intimidated by this Mother-in-Law, and I pray I don’t screw up the role too terribly.

Wedding 101: The Beginning – Guest Lists

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Your freshly manicured fingers are happily showing off the conflict free diamond, chosen with every ounce of love a human being can hold in their heart after making the jeweler painstakingly show him every one of the 2000 rings in the case. What’s next? The Guest Lists! This is where it all begins (and that conflict free thing is likely to end).

It’s hard to know what to tackle first when it comes to wedding planning, but a big part of many of the decisions you’ll be making has to do with the number of people you want to invite. While many churches will have plenty of seating and room to accommodate most size guest lists, if you plan to have your ceremony in other locations, you may have to consider space limitations. Some locations have unlimited space for an outdoor ceremony, but if inclement weather forces your services indoors, you might have to contend with tight quarters.

You will also need to know how many guests you plan to invite when you consider the type of wedding you’ll have. If you have always dreamed of the fanciest of affairs, a multi-course seated meal, live music, specialty lighting – the whole enchilada – but you are working with a tight budget, you may have to put a strict limit on the number of guests you can invite. When you’ve made your preliminary list and realize you couldn’t possibly cut anyone, you may have to amend the vision of your wedding so that you can afford a larger crowd.

Invitation Flow Chart

Invitation Flow Chart

Whatever plans you make from the time the ring is shimmering in the sunshine as you wave it to passing strangers, you will have to give serious thought to the number of wedding guests you plan to invite.

The first list is your rough draft. Be liberal. Go ahead and put down the name of that kid that sat behind you in third grade and poked you in the back with his R2D2 pencil. It’s better to begin with everyone you can think of so you don’t risk forgetting anyone. You’ll also want to have both sides of the family compile a list. You may think you’ve added everyone you need, then your mother will remind you of her great Aunt Sally who you may not have seen since you spit strained peas on her in infancy. Both the bride’s family and the groom family should be asked to make a list.

Once the preliminary list is made, go back over it with a more careful eye. His ex? Scratched. Paulie Pencil Poker? Outta there. Aunt Sally? She never liked you after that pea incident. She’s gone. You may have family on the list that you HAVE to invite, but you know they likely will be unable to attend. Make a note next to those invitees.

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The number of guests will influence almost everything else you plan for your wedding. Start your planning here to help things progress much more smoothly from this point out.

Let’s Gossip – Should Kim Kardashian Keep Her Wedding Gifts?

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Awww, true love!  Remember that bazillion dollar wedding that took place not too long ago and lasted ten minutes?  It was between the bootylicious Kim Kardashian and that tall white guy.

Obviously, because the Kardashians only know people who are, like themselves, incredibly, filthy rich, there were some very generous wedding gifts offered to the beautiful bride and whatshisname.  I’m sure there were all the usual things – a crockpot, a toaster, a Mr. Coffee – you know, things that you would buy for the brides you know.  But is the former Mrs. I Needed the Money a Wedding Would Earn Me For My Reality Show entitled to keep the gifts?

According to the jilted jackass that married Kim Karda$hian, no.  He believes that since the marriage was a sham (which, of course, he had no knowledge of), she should return everything.

According to Emily Post, they get to keep the gifts.  Who would want Kim Kardashian’s used bath towels?  Her electric can opener?  The sterling silver toilet paper roll holder?

To soften the blow for all those poor suckers  generous loved ones who are out the big bucks they spent on the buy 1, get 1 for a penny JC Penney down pillows, Kim has donated TWICE the value of each gift to her favorite charity (stop it, those of you thinking it’s the other Kardashians!).  Not the gift giver’s favorite charity, mind you, but one near and dear to Kim herself.

I’m on the fence.  I kind of think if the wedding took place, she gets to keep the gifts.  At least the ones from her family and friends.  And Whatshisface should get the kitchen towel ensemble his family gave.  But, at the same time, I hate that she was able to pull off such a bogus wedding and benefit from it – although it’s not like she needed anyone to buy her anything.

What do you think?  Send them back?  Keep them?  Should the donation have gone to a different charity?

Talk amongst yourselves.

Jay West Imports Should Try To Import Some Customer Service

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To be fair, they no longer refer to themselves as Jay West Imports.  Even the sign outside now only says Jay West.  I guess we can abandon any hope of them importing anything, least of all decent customer service.

For years, I’ve been driving past the gorgeous gowns in the window at Jay West in Haddonfield, NJ.  I have only ever purchased one dress there, and it was Brighid’s Sweet 16 party gown.  Service then was fair, but Brighid saw her dress relatively quickly and we were in and out in less than 20 minutes.

When my sister announced her engagement a few months ago, I started admiring the windows again.  Whenever I’d see something I loved, I’d call Brighid and tell her to drive by and see it, knowing that Megan would hate it anyway.  But the gowns in the windows change quickly, and the styles are quite varied, so I thought it would be a great place for us to take Meg on the hunt for the perfect gown.

The store surprises you – it’s about the size of a bread box.  I had to make sure I had my Spanx on just to fit in the doorway.  Megan’s appointment was for 1 PM, and we were about 25 minutes early.  We expected to wait for a consultant to help us since we were so early, but the woman at the counter handed us off to one of the other consultants, and we were escorted past the velvet rope to the downstairs bridal area.

You don’t really get to look for dresses here.  The consultant asked Meg what she was looking for, and I thought we were pretty clear that we wanted plain, simple, nothing with lace, and it had to be light and casual feeling for the upcoming beach wedding.

To begin with, the consultant made us feel like we interrupted her private audience with the Pope.  She CLEARLY did not want to help us, and when we told her how simple of a gown we wanted, she must have seen visions of a hefty commission diminish before her very eyes.  She walked us around the tightly packed room, grabbing gowns here and there, asking two more times if Megan would look at something in lace.  We ended up with about six gowns that Megan approved, and we headed towards the fitting room.  It was at this point that the consultant asked what size bra Meg wore, so she could bring her a long line, strapless number more suitable to trying on gowns.  When she found out just how fortunately blessed my sister was in the area of bust size, she very quickly ruled out at least two of the dresses she had pulled, claiming that there wasn’t a way to wear any bra with them, and there wouldn’t be enough support for someone so well endowed.  Well, then why didn’t you ask that as one of your first questions?

Another thing she never did was ask if Megan had a budget.  Can you imagine finding the dress you love and can’t see yourself walking down the aisle without, only to find out it is way out of your budget?  That would be an absolute tragedy.

After we bothered her through trying on four gowns, she suggested we pull a few bridesmaid dresses, because Megan’s tastes were so simple, there wasn’t a wedding gown that would suit her anywhere in the real world.  She may not have used those words, but she completely stopped trying to find a suitable wedding gown.  She pulled about six very similar in style bridesmaid dresses, then seemed irked when Megan actually liked some for her bridesmaids.

She wandered off for a minute, then came back with a gown so heavily beaded, we’d have to get a front loader to get Megan down the aisle.  She tells Megan to “indulge her” and put the gown on.  It is a corseted style gown, which she mentions NOW, after we’ve already tried on a bunch of dresses, is really a good style for my sister because of her shape.  The gown looks stunning on (but so would a burlap bag on my sister), but is in the completely opposite direction of what Meg wanted.  Does this woman suggest they have something simpler in a similar style?  She does not.

So after being made to feel that we were completely irritating her that we walked into the store, she disregarded most of what we told her Megan wanted, then we were subjected to her telling us we were never going to find a wedding gown like Megan wanted unless we went with a bridesmaid gown.

We left, feeling disheartened from the experience.  I’d never go back there again.

Did we get a wedding gown?  Yes.  Was it the shape, style, and simplicity that my sister wanted?  Absolutely.  Did the consultant in the other store treat us like a nuisance?  Not only did she not, but we went in without an appointment and she still made us feel welcome.

Jay West is a long standing business, and they must be doing something right somewhere.  We just didn’t see it anywhere during our visit.

Wedding Bliss – Keeping the Planning Stress Free

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The boyfriend has popped the question, and you’ve have said yes.  But a few weeks in, you’re wondering if you said yes to a lifetime with the man of your dreams or a lifetime of stomach ulcers, headaches, and wedding nightmares.

My sister is currently planning her wedding, which is just under a year away; my friends Amy and Anthony are planning a multi-part wedding; and my friend Sandi got engaged this past week, and has decided to get married in two months!!  But it doesn’t matter how much time you have or how many places you need to be – there’s always so little time and so much to do!  So let’s make this easier….

1 – Ask, and ye shall receive.

Everyone loves planning weddings!  Learn to delegate some responsibility to other people.  You don’t have to be in charge of everything.  So what if your Mother-in-Law makes a typo in your wedding program, and instead of spelling your name correctly, she accidentally spells it using all the same letters of your husband-to-be’s ex-girlfriend?  You’ll laugh about it later!  Let your grandmother assemble the gift bags for the out of towners – they might all end up with a hand crocheted tea-cozy!  But honestly, the more you can give to other people to do, the fewer headaches you’ll have.

2 – Tackle one task at a time.

Caterers, Flowers, and Limos – OH MY!  I like to cross one thing off the list at a time.  Catering – check.  Photography – check.  Flowers – check.  Try to cram in too many appointments for too many different things, and you may end up telling the caterer you’re allergic to “Flower” instead of peanuts, and you’ll tell the photographer you need pictures taken at Sunset Valley Catering Hall instead of Valley Sunset Catering Hall.  Make a list, try to keep appointments for the same type of vendor on the same day, and bring your cell phone!  Most phones allow you to make notes so you remember what you like or don’t like about each vendor, and you can snap pictures to help jog your memory later!

3 – Date night?  What’s a date night?

Remember him?  He’s the guy in the car next to you on the way to all those appointments.  He’s the one sitting quietly while you complain about the dress shop fittings, petit four frosting, dyeable shoes, and a particular shade of pink that doesn’t quite match the flowers you’ve chosen.  He hasn’t once moaned about his favorite ball player being traded, the price increase in his favorite beer, or the lack of sex he’s had since you’ve been in wedding planning mode.  Do the dude that you love a solid – take him out on a date.  It’s so hard to be romantic with all this love and marriage stuff swirling around – seriously, it is.  You’re stressed, he’s silent, and neither of you are doing the stuff that got you here in the first place.  Stop the wedding stuff for an evening, enjoy a nice dinner out, catch a movie, and just snuggle!  You might remember why you’re marrying him in the first place!

4 – Respect My Authori-tay!

You’re not on this earth alone – although planning a wedding can cause some brides to retreat into a bubble clouded with tulle and rose petals.  You probably have a boss to answer to, a priest or minister demanding time and attention, and possibly children or parents who want a piece of you, too.  The LAST thing you need on top of the stress of a wedding is stress from the other people you have to answer to.  Don’t let your boss catch you writing invitations while you’re on the clock, and if your minister says you need to come in for pre-marital counseling, don’t blow him off until the week before the wedding and find out he cancelled your whole day because you didn’t call him back.  Make time for the other things that are just as important as the wedding planning to avoid a whole other set of headaches you don’t need.

5 – Bridal Bath Time

Never underestimate the healing powers of a long, hot bath.  Fill the tub with some scented bubble bath, grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine, pull your hair up, and relax.  Get that hubby in practice and ask him if he’ll come rub lotion on your feet when you’re done, and turn in early.  Brides can be prone to getting sick, because you’re running around like a mad woman!  Hot bath, Sleep Time tea, and an early bedtime now and again will keep you healthy and feeling well.

You’ll get through this – we all do!  Know that your day will be happy because you’re marrying the guy of your dreams, not because you’ve chosen the perfect centerpieces for the tables.  Enjoy the moment, because it goes by so quickly – unless, of course, your wedding ends up on Funniest Home Videos – and even that’s not such a bad thing!

Does The Happy Buffet Chinese Restaurant Count?

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The traditional gift for a 20th wedding anniversary is China.  As I sit here on the eve of my 20th wedding anniversary, I imagine the reason China is the traditional gift is because by 20 years, all you have left in your China cabinet is two chipped plates, one intact cereal bowl, three tea cups, and two saucers from the China you got as a wedding gift 20 years before.  At least, that’s what I have left.  Note to self – don’t rely on China from Big Lots to last as long as your marriage.

But who knew that my marriage would last 20 years?  I mean, of course, you don’t go into marriage thinking of it as a 90 day probationary period, after which you decide if it’s going to work out.  You don’t go up to the altar after the wedding and sign papers indicating if he snores, farts, or belches more than 10 times in the first month, you get a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to run the hell out and start over.

I think 20 years is a big deal.  My parents were married nine years, and when I got married, as much as I wanted it to last forever, I thought if I got past nine years, I’d be happy, no matter what happened.  I would have given it the Old College Try.

20 years.

There is a lot of life that happens in 20 years.

We’ve survived unemployment.

We’ve survived bankruptcy.

We’ve survived the loss of both of our fathers.

We’ve survived the loss of my sister.

We’ve survived the loss of five babies to miscarriage.

We’ve survived having a baby prematurely.

We’ve survived having a child move out on her own.

We’ve survived job transfers.

We’ve survived moves.

We’ve survived medical crises – for both of us.

We’ve survived each other.  Because you know, no matter how in love you are, there are things about each other you aren’t going to like.  And somehow, if you want things to work, you learn to live with the things you don’t like, get over the things you hate, and remember the things that made you fall in love in the first place.

And here I am, 20 years after the most wonderful day of my life – a day that truly feels like it could have occurred yesterday – and I know in my heart that 20 years is only the beginning.  There is not even the slightest kink in the bond that holds us together, and even on the days when I wish he’d find a very short pier upon which he should take a very long walk, I love That Guy.

Life has changed many times for us in 20 years, but it’s the things that stayed the same that keep us together.  I still get butterflies when I see him; quivery when I kiss him; and smiley when I hold his hand.

For better, for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health.  We’ve faced it all; we’ve survived it all; and we’ve made it here at our 20th anniversary to celebrate it all.

Happy Anniversary, Jim.  You are now and always will be the one and only true love of my life.

Report writing 101 – Quantitative research

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When doing any writing, for a report, presentation, research paper or post, we have different ways to analyze our subject. We can use qualitative analysis, the how and why of the subject. And we can also use quantitative analysis, the use of measurements.

So to continue on my example of wedding days, lets do some quantitative research.

  • What number of people get married in 2007?
  • What number of people get married on Saturday as opposed to any other day of the week?
  • What are the percentages of people getting married each day of the week
  • How many people attend the average wedding?
  • What is the largest wedding every held?
  • What is the largest number of people ever married at one time?
  • Which month of the year has the most weddings?
  • Has the price for weddings kept steady when adjusted for inflation?
  • Has the price of wedding dresses remained stable for the past 10 years?
  • Do people spend the same or more for engagement rings and wedding rings then they did 10 years ago?

All of this questions can be answered with a measure. A number, a percentage, a chart, a graph or some other form of data. Feelings and emotions drive why those numbers are what they are, and we research that with qualitative research and qualitative analysis. But the numbers and facts and figures we measure and analyze with quantitative analysis and quantitative reporting.

So whip out that ruler and start measuring for that wedding day.

Report writing 101 – Qualitative research

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When you are doing research for a paper, project or post on a particular subject, you have to decide how you will look at them subject and the information you gather and from there the conclusions you draw. What you draw in your mind compared to what your reader interprets in a matter of your writing style and their comprehension of the subject matter. Explain a complex theory in simple terms and anyone can understand it. Will an expert on the material gain any benefit or insight? No, and that is why you also need to keep your target reader, your audience, in mind.

When we look at a subject, for example – wedding day parties – and we want to do qualitative research, we would focus on the how and why of wedding days.

Why do people have a wedding day? Do they do it for moral, religious, spiritual or family reasons? Is their wedding day one of obligation, service or duty, or something they want to do to carry on traditions, share the moment with friends and family?

Is it a custom to have the brides family for breakfast and then more for lunch and a larger party for dinner? The custom is the why and the actual activities are the how, the second part of our qualitative analysis.

How do people have a wedding day? Do they spend it at home with family and friends, go to a church and then a small cake and punch at the church reception room? A church, then limo to the 1st National Bank for awesome portrait pictures they will cherish the rest of their lives, then take the limo to a hall where they have a wine and cheese hour followed by a wonderful reception with music and a string band, that their friends and family will remember for years? Do they get on an airplane and go to Las Vegas and get married at the Little White Wedding Chapel? How to they make their wedding day?