Thursday, October 16, 2008

Making The Cut

So my future-cousin-in-law just got engaged. She and her guy are wonderful people - seemingly a perfect match. They are low key and laid back, and now they're riding the same bridal bullet-train we are. My FH's family isn't huge, but it isn't small either. My family is pretty big too. It's easy to let the guest list spiral out of control, and before you know it, you feel like curling up in a corner in the fetal position.

Many people have varying approaches to creating their invite list. Some think the brutal "slasher" approach is best. Slash anyone for any quasi-decent reason: They probably won't come anyways - gone! They were once rude to your mother - nuh uh! They give really crappy gifts - out! You hate their taste in wine - beat it! They always seem to have food stuck in their teeth - get lost! They're sure to bust out "The Moves" on the dance floor - no way! List-slashers will come up with any type of reason as to why a potential guest doesn't make the cut, and it keeps the list small and contained. It also ensures they'll come out on the other side with little to no friends. Don't expect many gifts, cards or congrats if you take this approach. In fact, don't expect many people other than your parents to show up if you have such an elitist attitude. But maybe they didn't even make the cut. Ok, then you'd better pray at least the officiant shows up.

Another way of creating an invite list is the "Six Degrees of Separation" approach. Now, you've heard that everyone on the planet can be connected to someone else by no more than six degrees of separation. (Some also call this phenomenon "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" - because you know we're all somehow connected to that dancing maniac from Footloose.) Since you're connected to everyone on the planet through six or fewer other people, anyone who abides by this approach basically invites, well... everyone on the planet. This method of inviting guests is for those who can't bear to leave out 2nd cousin Matilda, thrice removed. Or the girl that bags their groceries. The guy who sold them their funeral plot. Their father's boss's nephew. The lady who was so nice when she helped them book their honeymoon cruise. And the list goes on. And on. And on. This approach will land you in need of an airplane hangar to host your reception. Good luck with it. Better invite your future bankruptcy lawyer while you're at it.

The middle-ground approach is the "Take a little, give a little" method. This means you and your honey meet in the middle and compromise on the list. "Fringe-friends" become entirely negotiable. You want to invite your 4th grade teacher? Fine. He gets to invite his hockey buddy from 4th grade. His parents must invite their nosy neighbor to keep the peace? Ok, then your parents get to invite the weird cousin guaranteed to show up in the powder blue polyester suit. In order to take, you must also be willing to give. Some deals fall through, and it allows the list to get whittled down naturally. There's a balance between the odd and the normal guests, and each side wins and each side loses. Just remember, because you got to invite your Paris Hilton-wannabe sorority sister, he got to invite his keg-standing pig of a frat brother... and that might just be a match made in heaven. The universe is a mystical place, isn't it?

I don't know what type of list-maker my future-cousin-in-law will turn out to be. She seems to be the sensible middle-ground type, like myself. I gifted her with a copy of Wedding Planning For Dummies, and wished her the best of luck. If we don't get an invite by the end of 2009, I guess I assumed incorrectly. Till next time....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stick A Fork In Me... I'm Done!

This week, I sent out over 300 boarding pass invitations. It's such a relief to have them out of my hair, and to have all of the supplies put away. I promised I'd post pics of my "little project," so here they are:

This is the boarding pass with its little jacket...
The passes are made of three cards: 1) invitation, 2) location info, 3) booking info
The pass tucked inside its little jacket...
What the cards looked like before we cut all 975 of them apart.
This was a do-it-yourself project that took on a life of its own, but in the end, it feels like it was worth it. My guests seem to enjoy them, and many of them thought they were professionally made. Doing it this way saved us money, while allowing us to share a lot of information about the DW with the guests that we wouldn't have been able to fit onto a standard formal invitation. Till next time...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Going Underground and Coming Back Out

It's been forever since I posted, and that's because I've been up to my eyeballs in wedding lists and invitation creation. Notice I didn't say invitation selection... I said invitation creation. You see, I had a Martha Stewart moment and decided like many destination wedding brides, I would do a less formal cutesy invitation. I found my idea on my favorite wedding forum ever: The Best Destination Wedding Forum. It has every idea, suggestion or crtitique you could ever ask for if you are a DW bride. It also has a ton of useful information if you are looking for ideas for a traditional wedding or honeymoon. All the DW brides on the forum are all about boarding pass invitations for DW weddings. I saw them and thought they were super-cute. I read that they were easy to make, (liars!) and so I started playing around with templates.

Fast forward a full month... and here I am. We have now created 325 triple-card boarding pass invitations. That's 975 boarding pass shapes that had to be cut out. That's about 15 hours of design, re-design and fretting over the final design. That's 2 runs to Staples for color cardstock printing. That's hours of discussion about whether said BP invites needed to have a little BP jacket to rest within. That's 3 runs to Archivers to buy little paper flowers for spicing up the boarding pass jackets. That's spray-painting those little flowers because they weren't the right color. That's backtracking and wondering if spending more money to order something not as cute online would be worth it. That's worrying over the letter that has to be enclosed with the BP invites that reads like a short novel. That's a few knotted necks, carpal tunnel attacks and foul-language fits. That's countless hours of cutting, pasting, folding, and fussing over these invitations, and... it was worth 100% of the blood, sweat and tears. My mom and one of my good friends were key in getting them done, and now all I have to do is print the envelopes, stuff them, stamp them, and send them off.

I promise to post a photo of them once they go out in the mail, but I do have to say I'm pretty proud of the way they turned out. It's a good sign when the professional printers at Staples think that they're better than anything their company offers. Or when other people having things printed gather around you to ooh and ahh. I've had a few people tell me I should start designing these as a small side business. So I feel pretty confident that my guests will like them... and if not, then they can use them to line their kitty's litter box - no hard feelings. Ok. That's a lie. That would cause some hard feelings, and a lot of bitterness. Yet, what I truly feel bad about is that my mother did so much paper cutting that she no longer has the use of her right hand. But a gnarled claw in a bedazzled sling will look awesome with her mother of the bride dress, don't ya think? Till next time...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Late For A Very Important Date?

So I wondered if finding a date would be as tough as finding a location. Turns out it was more difficult. Here's the skinny on planning a DW:

January - Super expensive due to those getting away for the New Year.
February - Still pricey because of the snow birds.
March - Spring breakers.
April - The party continues.
May - The most popular wedding month.
June - Hurricane/rainy season.
July - More rain + heat = misery.
August - Hotter than Hades... and still raining.
September - Monsoons.
October - Risk of rain = 100%.
November - Still rainy, but tapering off.
December - Expensive enough for the holidays that you'll have to sell a kidney. Maybe two.

So note that May was our only option if we wanted to keep our guests with kidneys intact and soggy-free. The problem with May is that the first weekend was all booked up at every resort we looked at. The next weekend, we had a high school prom to avoid, (RH has a senior step-brother whom we wanted to be able to attend.) We also had college graduations to avoid, (several guests graduating the weekend after the prom.) We also had high school graduations to avoid, (the last weekend of the month.) The Indy 500 is always a factor the last weekend in May too, making travel limited and pricey. So now out of five weekends, we had one to choose from. ONE out of the entire year to really consider, if we wanted everyone to have maximum availability.

I held my breath as I clicked on the availability of Vallarta Palace for the weekend of May 16, 2009. Actually, I was sweating bullets, and I felt a little like throwing up. As the date popped up as "Time Available" at sunset on May 16th, I almost oozed out of my chair onto the floor. I immediately filled out the reservation request form, and crossed my fingers. I got an email a day or two later confirming that they'd blocked out the date for the Lloyd/Hubler wedding. You'd have thought Ed McMahon had shown up at my door with a giant Publisher's Clearinghouse check. Score!

Now, what would be the overall reaction from our potential guests? Were we ready for the fallout? Till next time...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Location, Location, Location

So after deciding we wanted to do a destination wedding, "we" decided it would be a smart idea to start looking at possible locations. This really meant "I" would become obsessed with finding the perfect spot for the ceremony. But first things first - we had to break the news to family and friends that we wouldn't be having a huge ceremony in Indiana.

I'd been easing my mom into the idea of a destination wedding for over a year. I knew I had to get her past the idea of a fairytale wedding the size of Princess Di's nuptials to Prince Charles. She was keen on the idea of inviting every person I'd ever stumbled across, from my preschool teacher on forward. So I had no idea it would be my dad who would flip his lid! My dad is a laid back type of guy who usually rolls with the punches, but when I brought up taking the ceremony to a beach, he crossed his arms, narrowed his eyes and totally shut down on me. He thought that taking the ceremony to a remote location was the most bizarre-o deal he'd ever heard in his life. Once my mom and I brought him into the new millennium and explained that DWs are all the rage, he started to come around. When we further talked about how much more cost effective it can be to have a small ceremony in a faraway land versus a massive wedding at home, he hopped right on board. RH's parents seemed okay with a DW, as they'd helped to throw his brother a huge wedding less than two years ago. I think they heard the word "small" and smiled inside. Little did we know that the list would grow. And grow. And grow... but that's for a whole separate post.

Of course, the hardest part of a DW is convincing people to cough up the green to join you on your special day. You feel like greedy little trolls asking them to book airfare, hotel rooms and to revolve their vacation time around watching you exchange vows. Yet, the only thing my future hubby really requested was a beach wedding. He'd actually told me during our first year of dating that for a long time, he'd dreamt of a beach wedding. [Note: If I were a psycho, I could have taken this little nugget of information as "a sign" early on in our relationship that he saw me as his one-and-only destiny. But I'm not a psycho, and I knew this was just chatter-in-passing... something guys do without any motive, intent, or foreshadowing. So it wasn't until RH started talking about it again and again during our second year of dating that I really started to sit up and listen. I started believing that he was thinking about getting married. To me. This was actually a good thing... and not in fact a worry at all. I did worry that he was very serious about getting hitched on a beach. Seeing as how Indianapolis has NO beach, this was an interesting worry. And then I started thinking about what my mother and my "second-mom," also known as my aunt, had likely envisioned about my wedding day. This was a bad worry.] But I digress. The main point I was making is that asking people to travel to another country to share in your 20-minute vows is quite the undertaking.

I started by doing some basic Internet research and having conversations with the world travelers I know. This includes RH, who has been practically everywhere with a beach. We quickly narrowed it down to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Mexico and Florida. Based on our limited budget, we thought Florida might be the best idea. Turns out, no. The hotels on the Florida Coast nickel and dime you to death, and offer very few package deals that are competitive against resorts in other countries. Finding a location that could accommodate more than 20 people was also a challenge. I slowly picked my way through chat rooms, wedding websites, travel sites and resort websites.

So how did I narrow it down? Anything limiting us to 20 people - No. Anything without a beach made of sand (there are a lot of "beach resorts" that have only rocks) - No. Anything with a poor Trip Advisor rating - No. Anything that costs $700+ to fly to - No. Anything with reports of bad food - No. Anything that requires travel by mule or a 2-hour dirt-road ride from the airport to the resort (I'm serious) - No. Anything that looked like a dump in their "best" promotional online photos - No. Anything that may be wiped out by a hurricane - No.

The last stipulation really did the trick. And after Gustav, Hannah and Ike, I'm glad I made the anti-hurricane decision. My criteria led us to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. On the Pacific side, PV rarely gets affected by hurricanes. No mules are required for travel and there are actually beaches where if you stumble, you won't plunge to your death off the edge of a rocky bluff. Bonus! So a friend who is a VIP Member of Palace Resorts, along with rave reviews on Trip Advisor, Yahoo Travel and Expedia led us to Vallarta Palace in neighboring Nuevo Vallarta. We finally had it! A place to beg people to come to! The next task would be to select the oh-so-special date. Simple enough, right? Wrong! Till next time...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Starting From The Beginning

My first post leads me to question where to begin... so much has happened since the day my fiance proposed, although it was only a month ago.

First of all, let me begin by saying I am lucky enough to be marrying the man of my dreams. To quote a great line from "Fools Rush In," my guy is "everything I never knew I always wanted." I had given up the idea that I would ever find the right man for me - and had completely stopped looking when RH walked right into my life. We met at a wedding almost three years ago, and I've never been so relieved that I decided to stay until the very end of the reception. He walked right up to me and asked me out around 2 AM... and we've never looked back.

RH is sooo wonderful, that he proposed to me in front of my entire family. He was as red as a tomato and he broke out in a full body sweat, but he said some sweetly romantic things, and he was brave enough to say them in front of my family. He'd asked my dad for permission to marry me, so Daddy-o was the only other one in on the surprise. Now that I reflect back upon the moment, I realize I sat there looking like some giant-mouthed bass. My mouth was hanging open and my eyes were bulging out of my sockets. RH had caught me so off-guard that I had to be prompted to stand up when he went down on one knee. I was so in shock, and so eager to hug him, I failed to even look at the ring he was thrusting at me. After I cried and slobbered all over him, someone in the room cried out, "Well, what does the ring look like?" I laughed, and admitted I hadn't bothered to look yet. But when I did...whoa! RH has impeccable taste, style and an incredible talent for simply knowing what I'll love. He picked out a ring that I couldn't love more - a mixture of old and new - with a family heirloom setting and a center-stone he personally selected. He was so nervous about getting everything right, but he didn't realize that he knows me so well, he couldn't have possibly gotten it wrong. Everything about that moment was perfect.

Before getting engaged, we'd talked about marriage and wedding possibilities. We were able to agree quickly on one thing... having a destination wedding. But how to pull one off was an altogether separate issue. And beginning that journey deserves its own separate post! Till next time...