Sunday, August 29, 2010

House Party

Recently, a vendor mentioned to me that there’s a new fad entering the wedding world called the House Party. From what I can understand this is a second bridal party which serves as a way for the bride and groom to ask whomever they’d like to join in their wedding festivities. Apparently, the House Party can be equal in size to the original bridal party or can be an even larger group than the bridesmaids and groomsmen that may serve as traditional attendants.

I myself have never experienced this House Party trend, but I am here to tell you that this is neither a new, nor a brilliant phenomenon for two main reasons. Number one, because one of my best friends, Anne, executed a similar method of wedding party expansion for her wedding in 2003 – seven years ago. I also used the same strategy, but with a slight twist, for my wedding 4 years ago. Number two, we had reasons for adding additional attendants. This was not something that we decided to do because we wanted everyone and their grandmother involved in our wedding in order to seem important, which is the reason some of the current guests of honor are creating such massive wedding parties and even more massive faux parties, according to local vendors.

My friend Anne has a huge family, so when she got married she realized that most of her bridal party spots would be taken by her 3 sisters, her sister in law, her cousins and two nieces which did not leave any room for our college clique of 5 lovely ladies. With that being said, she had us walk down the aisle together before the bridal party, wearing our own design of a dress in a similar shade of color as the bridesmaids.

When I got married, I had a situation where family and childhood friends filled most of the “traditional” spots so I took Anne’s idea one step further. I actually included my “college crew” as bridesmaids, but because we did not want to ask more guys just to fill in the spots, I had them walk up the aisle along and they all wore black, while the bridesmaids walking with groomsmen wore red. I also wanted to find a way to honor the grandparents that could not be with us on our wedding day, so I had each of the girls carry a blue flower and deliver it to an altar, set at the front of the church, which had each of the grandparents’ pictures on it and a vase in which to set the flowers.

The girls were involved in showers, the bachelorette party, gifts, the day-of preparations, etc., but I just needed a creative way to fit 9 girls in a bridal party what was supposed to only include 4 couples!! Everyone that I chose to participate in my wedding was either a family member or a friend that is still, 4 years later, considered family. I feel that in picking your bridal party, that’s the way it should be. This is not a competition to see who can have the biggest group, and sometimes that’s what I feel goes on when people start adding House Parties to the wedding.

A good rule of thumb is to ask people who have been with you for the major events leading up to the wedding and the people that you know will be with you and that you want with you when times get rough after the wedding. Besides, if you ask every Tom, Dick and Harry that you’ve ever met to be a bridesmaid, how will your real friends feel? Not very special. And if you have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, do not just ask someone in order to keep the numbers even. Have the girls walk up alone and have the guys at the altar with the groom already. If you have more girls than guys, have your maid of honor walk alone or when there are more guys than girls, give one lucky girl two groomsmen as her escorts. The point is, there are ways around having unnecessary attendants and there are definitely other spots to fill in a ceremony rather than creating a House Party. Let’s keep things in perspective and have some kind of standard when choosing the most special group of friends and family to stand before our community and advocate this harmonious occasion!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Evolution of Dance

I started writing this week’s blog early yesterday morning based on a video that I received last weekend. The video was of a bride and groom doing their first dance which was choreographed, and I use that term loosely, to the Evolution of Dance mix. My original point when I was first writing this was to tell people not to do “choreographed” dances as their first dance, but as I researched further, I realized I have to be a bit more specific. I have learned that the song, the reason and the people make all the difference in the world in determining whether or not you should join in with this trend.

First things first, the Evolution of Dance should be off limits from here on out. As a rule, if that is what you are planning to use as your “surprise choreographed” dance, please save yourself and your guests and just dance to “I Will Always Love You.”

Secondly, the surprise of having a choreographed dance is no longer a surprise. It’s now a trend that everyone knows about – the uniqueness has worn off. The only way to actually make this dance unique is the same way you would make a traditional first dance unique: pick a song that no one else has used.

When using the Evolution of Dance as the song for your first dance, you are using a mix that was created by someone else, therefore it’s not unique and it’s also not your idea, just in case you thought you were being creative. Also, taking the signature moves from each of the 30 songs in the mix (i.e. the Twist, the Hokey Pokey, the YMCA and the Chicken Dance) is hardly considered choreography of the unique kind. Furthermore, if songs like Cotton-eyed Joe, Thriller, YMCA and I Like Big Butts have nothing to do with your relationship, and I hope they do not, then do not use those songs as your first dance.

While researching this phenomenon, I found over 1,000 wedding dance videos to Evolution of Dance and that is only for one particular mix. Although every video is entitled “This is the best one I’ve ever seen!” all of the “choreography,” songs and executions are exactly the same. Does that sound unique to you? Here’s an example of what I am talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9XfzvuVhhs

With all of this being said, I do believe that, when done correctly and by the right “cast,” a performance at a reception can be a great addition, but the first thing you need is a rhyme and a reason. For example, my brother Randy is always challenging people to a dance off or breaking into a dance-fit of some sort at parties/receptions. My sister and I have danced all of our lives and our whole family is known for being on the dance floor (even those without professional training). When Randy gets married, it would not be a surprise to see him celebrate with a little Michael Jackson routine, but with his own twist, of course. Perhaps a family dance to a Jackson 5 favorite would be a treat, but regardless, it would be acceptable and, if I know my family, something that has never been seen before.

When it’s relevant because you are a teacher of dance, a talented performer or someone known for having that outgoing, “get up and dance” personality, you are assuring your guests a great treat! As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet that none of the couples out there using Evolution of Dance have a relevant reason for such a show – relevancy typically equals creativity – but for those of you with the “dance” bug and no unique ideas, God has graced us with TLC’s “Rock the Reception.”

This show creates an end product that follows all of the guidelines that I would give to my couples Рthey get to know the couple and use an original song and choreography that matches their personalities, typically the bridal party (or at least the best man and maid of honor) are brought in to dance with the couple, the dance is only 3 minutes instead of 6 and the couples actually dance instead of doing hand motions or silly clich̩ movements.
Take some time and check out the proper way to execute this trendy specialty dance. This will truly be a surprise to your guests - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8xWmlgjUpc&feature=related

p.s. Girls, learn how to dance while wearing your heels!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wrap It Up

I received a phone call this afternoon from the mother of a former bride asking me for help with her daughter’s baby shower. One of the questions that this mother had was about having a “show shower” which is a shower where the guests bring the gifts unwrapped thereby eliminating the 90 minute task of watching the guest of honor open them. This has been a new “fad” for some of my younger brides and has become a hot topic for them and their mothers. This new party idea is not one that I believe will make it very far in the wedding world if the baby boomers have anything to say about it.

It has been my experience that our mothers’ generation believes that receiving an invitation asking for an unwrapped gift is completely rude. My mom thinks that when she brings a gift to a shower, it should be opened in front of everyone, admired by the bride (or guest of honor) and she wants the gift to have some intimate time with the person who received it. She wants to be acknowledged for the time and effort it took her to purchase the gift and I am sure she believes that the only way to achieve this is to have the guest of honor take her time and effort to unwrap the gift (in particular in front of friends and family at the actual shower).

I have given a “show shower” in my own home. Yes, it’s true. I sent out invitations that made guests believe that the bride-to-be and I are rude and classless by asking for an unwrapped gift! Seriously, the concept was hard for people to grasp at the time, but once the guests realized how much more time there was to spend with the bride, everyone seemed to really appreciate it. We had a table set out to display the gifts so people could take a look at them throughout the shower. Toward the end, we turned the table and had the guests sit and watch while the bride went through all of the gifts showing what each guest had given. She still thanked everyone and we still saw each person’s gift, but it only took 30 minutes, rather than 90 minutes.

Although I feel that when I am invited to a shower, or party, my gift being recognized is not that important, I realize that for other generations, it’s a sign of respect. For most people, they expect to go to a shower and have things done the way it’s been done for centuries before. It’s an understanding that they will be served dry finger sandwiches, punch with no alcohol, paste-like dips with tortilla chips and they will sit for 90 minutes making excited faces over the tea set that grandmamma passed down to the bride (bridal shower ideas are a different blog – coming soon). For me, etiquette is handled on a more case by case basis.

I believe that for this particular “fad” everything depends on your guest list and the theme of your shower. People create expectations based on what you guide them to expect. Doing a “show shower” as a bridal shower is not good etiquette. Typically, this is the more cookie cutter, sophisticated event with family and older generations of guests. However, if it’s a couple’s shower or something a bit more casual where the guest list consists mostly of younger friends rather than older family members, it will probably be a fun alternative to opening gifts.

The “show shower” that I threw at my house was a SAINTS themed couples shower thrown during a Saints game on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone knew what to expect.
In the same token, if you are having a tea given by my your future mother in law, you better get the excited face ready as it is your duty and only fair to give your guests what they expect and arriving with unwrapped gifts is not a fair expectation.

Some traditions, depending on the circumstances, are not meant to be changed and as long as we have mothers and grandmothers, this is one of them. Leave the fun, new traditions for the parties given by your friends and keep the traditional events alive for your mom and her baby boomers. A little compromise never hurt!