Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bridesmaid Wars

One role that often brings or comes with controversy in a wedding is the role of a bridesmaid. The question of responsibility is always one that sneaks its way into the mind of at least one of the girls that the bride has blessed with such a sacred privilege. We do not always remember that being asked to be a bridesmaid is in fact a question and can be answered with a NO! Nevertheless, we take our chances and hope that the bride does not break the bank with her choice of dress, accessories, an overwhelming number of showers which will require an overwhelming number of gifts, etc. The truth is that the financial responsibility put on these bridesmaids can get out of control very quickly but, to be honest, sometimes it is not the fault of the bride at all.
I am sure that all of you can think about the countless bridesmaid meetings that you have attended where you and the rest of the girls have gotten together to plan the bridal shower. And I am sure that you can all agree that tensions run high when a group of girls have to agree on the planning of a party, not to mention the picking a dress – but that’s another story! You know that you always have that girl who says “Well if it’s about the money, then I’ll pay it. I do not care,” yet when the planning of the shower is over and the total cost is divided, somehow the price for the mint julep favors that the maid of honor thought would make the party perfect ends up in the final total. You are also familiar with the conversation about budget and how much the group will spend in total, but somehow, when the task list is being completed by each individual, there are always a few people who cannot stay within the budget and the shower ends up costing an extra $50 to $100 a piece. At that point, we all know that she who complains is a bad friend – at least that’s what girls want to make you believe. Well, I’m here to tell you that is not the case.
The situation is this: none of us knows each other’s lives and financial standing enough to say who can afford what. So when it comes to sitting down with a group to plan your obligations to the wedding, stick to the price that you all agreed upon and if you know that if you cannot, then you alone will pay the difference. It is called a budget; learn how to work within one or waste your own money. You cannot expect others to pay the price because you got carried away while shopping for the decorations. (Just a side note, fellow bridesmaids – understand that just because someone cannot afford something or thinks that something is a waste of money does not mean that they care less about the bride than you do.)
Often times control plays such a big role in the tension that comes from the maids getting together to agree on things. Everyone wants to think that they know the bride the best, that they are willing to the do the most and that they have the idea that will change everything. The truth is, you are all important enough to the bride in one way or another that you are in the same boat – you are a bridesmaid. Even you, maid of honor, have to understand that there are other people’s voices involved and the bride is the one that hand-picked these voices whether you like it or not.
The best thing that you all can do is get together, brainstorm ideas and come up with something that works for the majority of the people involved. Share all of your ideas, but understand that if your idea is not accepted by all, your life will go on. Put a budget in place and stick with it. If you think of something that might be a nice addition, consult all of the girls before purchasing it and if it is not agreed on by everyone, either pay for it yourself, or drop it.
Also, be kind enough to understand if there is someone who voices her financial restraints. Proceed in the most budget-minded way possible and then, if you are in good financial standing, you pick up the tab for any extras that you do not want to go without. But please note that bragging about how much more money you spent only makes you look shallow and desperate to buy the friendship of the bride.
Last but not least, do learn how to go with the flow. Learn that not everything is as big of a deal as people make it and learn that drama only makes the experience less fun, so try to avoid it. Communicate, be considerate and open to other’s ideas, but in the end, majority rules.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Playlist

Something that has come up recently that is a bit confusing to me is the bride or groom who suddenly thinks they are Timbaland and want to make an actual play list for their band or DJ. I have had brides go so far as to put the songs that they want in order of how they want them to be played. Some actually time out each individual song and each break from beginning to end; all four hours of the night. My question is, why hire a band (or a DJ)? Just plug in an IPOD and call yourself a producer.
First off, I am very much against planning things to that degree. There is no possible way for anyone or anything to live up to expectations of that caliber. The reason behind a schedule or suggested song list is to give the band an idea of the couple’s taste and to give the bride and groom a guideline of how the night will line up. I think if you have time to realize that your songs are out of order, then you are not enjoying your night and you only have yourself to blame for not being able to relinquish control – and you’ve wasted a whole lot of time and money .
Secondly, since when is everyone a music guru? I find this with a lot of couples in relation to their vendors, where the bride and groom think they know more than the professionals. If you find vendors that you trust, then you would not have to give them direction and tell them how to do their jobs. The majority of the bands playing weddings in New Orleans are bands that play weddings every weekend, more or less. Because of this fact, they should be more than experienced enough to know what will get your crowd on the dance floor or how to tell if the party is losing interest. I realize that this is giving a lot of credit to wide variety of people, since every band is different, but for the most part, they should know their job enough to know what works.
When it comes to music for the reception, I tell my girls to go through the song list that the band gives and make two lists; a “do not play” list, which is a list of the songs that the band is not to play under any circumstance even if they are offered money by a guest, and a “must play” list, which includes a few of the bride and groom’s favorite songs. These should be the only song lists that the band (or DJ) is given, other than a list of specialty songs – Bride and Groom’s first dance, Bride and Father of the Bride’s first dance, Groom and mother of the Groom’s first dance and Wedding Party Dance. You should let your band know the overall feel of the wedding or if there’s a genre that you absolutely love. Guiding them is not a problem, but thinking you know how to keep a party going with music is not okay and has the makings of the most horrible receptions I can think of.
Make sure you choose the entertainment for your wedding wisely. Do not have a band play if you know you want a variety of music that only a DJ can provide. And do not pick a brass band if you know you want cover songs with male and female singers. Investigate and search for what you want before committing to something based off of a friend’s recommendation. Most importantly, trust your choices and do not try to control every aspect of everything. Allow your band to do what they do best – entertain the crowd. After all, it is the band getting judged on their performance at your wedding and when you tell them how to do their job, they are getting judged on the boring performance they gave because of your failed music choices. If someone came to your office and directed you to do your job incorrectly, wouldn’t you be upset?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day and Night

It is no secret that weekend nights, in particular Saturday nights, are the first slots to fill up at any church and/or reception venue in the New Orleans area. The reasoning behind the choice for most people is that they will have the entire day to get ready for the main event – but does extending your prep time mean you are extending the length of your wedding? Although a nice, full day to prepare and a long, rested night to celebrate sounds like the best idea ever, I urge you to consider an option that goes overlooked and undersold yet gives you the opportunity to enjoy more of the day with your new spouse and your wedding guests:
A Day Time Wedding!

Nine times out of ten, my girls hope for an “after party,” some place to go where they can continue the celebration and keep the party kickin’. Nine times out of ten, after hosting bridesmaids and family with prep all afternoon, a 7pm ceremony and a three to four hour reception quickly turns into midnight and the hotel suite starts looking better and better.

A great friend of mine, Ashley Ricord Santos (perhaps you are familiar with her successful acting career in New Orleans) got married on a Saturday at 1pm and it was one of the best weddings I’ve ever been in. By eliminating the afternoon “bonding time,” she was able to use her time celebrating and stretch out her day in the best way possible.

Instead of having to be at a hotel early in the morning to sit around all day while all of the bridesmaids got hair and make-up done, we met an hour before the ceremony already dressed and ready to go! We had the option to come early and spend time together primping or helping the bride get ready, but the tiring process of stretching out the day with activities and mandatory bonding wasn’t necessary.

By noon we were taking pictures and by 1pm we were processing into the church. She had a fabulous reception downtown where lunch was served (instead of dinner) and everyone was feeling great because the morning hadn’t taken everything out of us. The reception ended at about 5:30pm and because it was still early, the entire bridal party, close family and a good number of the guests took the party to the rooftop of the hotel where the bride and groom were staying.

After the reception, Ashley and her husband Michael were able to go to dinner and then come join the rest of us at the “after party” and since everyone had such an easy/fun start, we were all able to keep the party going well into the AM hours. We ended up drinking the night away and having the best end to an incredible wedding day!

Let’s not overlook that another great reason for an afternoon wedding is because of price – a lunch menu can be a lot cheaper than a full dinner spread. A lot of times, there’s more flexibility in booking when it comes to the earlier Saturday hours. You just have to check with the church first to see what times they have available for the ceremony and then you can speak to the reception venue about what they can do in terms of timing and price.

The idea of spending the day with your best girlfriends sipping champagne while someone dolls you up is amazing and it is a whole lot of fun. But how would you feel if you could actually celebrate your wedding all day rather than just prepare all day – and save some money in the process? I think the engagement is enough of a preparation and on the morning of your wedding, there’s something to be said about getting out of bed and getting the show on the road so you can spend more time drinking, dancing and enjoying being married - all day long!