From the monthly archives:

July 2009

Put a stop to wedding junk mail

by Jeff on July 31, 2009

A few months ago, Groomasaurus Gal and I ventured over to one of the many bridal expos that are offered in the Denver area. Supposedly Denver has a large demographic of 20-somethings, which makes us very attractive to wedding vendors and marketers. When we signed up for the expo we provided our names and address, and since this is America, within a few days we were getting all sorts of junk mail and emails from photographers, caterers, tux rental stores and the like.

Now, I’m a marketer by trade, so I can’t well blame these vendors in their attempt to make a buck and survive this dismal economy. But because we’re having a destination wedding and really have no need for any of the vendors who are hitting us up, it seems like a huge waste of trees, fuel and effort. Which got us thinking…

We’ve been meaning to sign up for some of the stop-junk-mail lists for a very long time, and now seems like as good a time as any. So we tracked down a few online resources that allow us to minimize the amount of junk mail sent to our house, and here they are:

  • DMAChoice.org – This site allows you to set preferences for what emails and direct mail you receive and control who sends commercial email and smail mail to you.
  • Catalog Choice – A great resource that enables you to choose what catalogs you get in the mail. More than 900 merchants have signed up to allow you to opt in our out, so kudos to them for volunteering.
  • 41Pounds.org – This organization contacts direct mail companies on your behalf to stop catalogs and junk mail like those ubiquitous pre-approved credit card solicitations. It does cost $41 for 5 years of service, but they’re a nonprofit, and that fee covers their costs (plus they donate $15 to the charity of your choice). Another fine option.

Here are also a couple Web pages with more information on stopping junk mail:

http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/index.cfm
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18530707/
http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/junkmail.htm

Check out these great resources and, when you want to turn off the spigot of wedding junk mail, try them out.

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Thanks to Tom Santilli over at Examiner.com, who blogged about our Workbook. For all those in Michigan who need a wedding videographer, check out Tom’s site at Complete Video Solutions.

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Legal Ceremony Wrapup – Part 1

by Jeff on July 25, 2009

So we followed through on our legal ceremony/marriage licence that I blogged about a few weeks ago, and it was as great evening. First, we had a few family and friends join us at the record store where we met in downtown Denver, and then we had our friend John (who is also a mail-order officiant) who introduced us perform a short legal ceremony. This is where the fun started…

First off, John’s a bit of a grumpy, curmudgeonly teddy bear (if there is such a thing), and despite the fact that I’ve seen him bark at customers for really no reason other than he felt like it, he immediately started crying within minutes of going into his ceremony. This was pretty entertaining, but not nearly as much when he screwed up our names. He had lost the only copy of his ceremony and so had to call the last couple who he married, and they faxed him over their copy. Apparently their names were David and Allison, because he called me David once and Groomasaurus Gal Allison once (and her real name is a far cry from Allison). Some people would get bent out of shape about this, but since our “real” wedding is in November and this was just a more formal extension of getting a marriage licence, we both thought it was pretty funny, kind of cute and definitely memorable.

Once the ceremony was over and I kissed the bride, we all had a toast … actually, make that several toasts, in which about 10 of us polished off a bottle of Petron tequila in 45 minutes flat. Pretty impressive and a little frightening at the same time. After that, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Denver called Zeng0. It’s latin/asian fusion food, and although that sounds rather pretentious and gimmicky (and it is a little bit), the food is fabulous.

It’s getting late, so I’ll finish up this wrapup tomorrow.

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Big shout out to Amanda over at Stellina Events, who wrote up a very flattering post for Groomasaurus. You should definitely check out Amanda’s blog, as she has great advice and tips for making your wedding more personal and even exotic. Thanks, Amanda, and keep on bloggin.

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Multiple bridal showers … who knew

by Jeff on July 23, 2009

Earlier tonight I was over visiting at The Perfect Bridesmaid blog (which, incidentally, has some great ideas) and happened upon a post that responded to the question if it’s okay to invite the same guests to multiple bridal showers.

Maybe I’m the moron in the room (or blogosphere, as it were), but I had no idea that some brides had more than one shower. I grew up in Ohio, and we’re a fairly undemonstrative crowd, so having multiple showers would be a bit too ostentatious and, dare I say it, too greedy, sort of like asking for multiple birthday parties. On the other hand, it’s certainly a great idea if you can get away with it. But what if every one of us could replacate our favorite holiday as many times as we wished. It would be mass chaos … plus I’d be buying chocolate for Groomasaurus Gal every day and she’d be cranking out pumpkin pies by the truckload (I have a soft spot for Thanksgiving).

It seems like, in some cases, certain brides are the recipients of showers by their mother, friends of their mother, the groom’s mother, the maid of honor, work friends, church friends and, last but certainly not least, their best gay male friend. Now, according to the post on The Perfect Bridesmaid, it’s improper etiquette to invite the same people to each event (although it is proper for the mother of the bride and the bridal party to be present at all showers), cause people feel compelled to bring gifts to each event and you shouldn’t make them feel so compelled.

But doesn’t this all sound like too much brain damage just to get a few more handbags, engraved picture frames and lacy thong underwear (although I have no problems with multiple versions of the latter). I know it’s about sharing this moment – or moments – with all your different groups of friends. But wouldn’t it be more enjoyable if all those different groups got together in one big jamboree and got to know each other better? (And I realize that sometimes families are spread out so you may need to have separate showers in separate states or cities).

Better yet, how about doing a combo bridal and groom shower? Okay, this may be pushing it, but at one time the bachelor party was solely the domain of men until the women felt left out and co-opted our need to behave idiotically and started having bachelorette parties. I guess what I’m saying is that we guys have no special event that we have all to ourselves anymore, and when our bride gets multiple female-only showers plus a bachelorette party, we seem to handle it fine on the outside, but we are secretly keeping track and imagining how many guys-nights-out this would total.

And if this smacks of desperation … well … guilty as charged. And, no, I’m not gunning for my own multiple pairs of lacy thong underwear … I went through that stage years ago ;)

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Last week’s blog on wedding music got me thinking, which rarely happens, so here are my thoughts…

I’ve always dreamed of going balls to the wall and hiring not just a local band or a cover band for my wedding, but a quasi-popular touring band. You know, like in the movies when Rodney Dangerfield hired Oingo Boingo to play his college dorm party in Back to School. Or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones playing the school dance in Clueless.

Yeah, I know that’s reaching a bit, but I would surmise that, if you wanted to splurge (say, for $8-10K or so)  you could get some indie band you really like that hasn’t hit it big yet, isn’t above playing a very hip wedding and happens to be on tour during your wedding. Or you could even hire a fairly well-reknown DJ (not the local guy whose old standard are the funky chicken dance and the hokey pokey), as all they need for your wedding is a box of records and two turntables (sans microphone).

But still, when it comes to the music at your wedding, you really don’t want to compromise, because that’s probably the one thing that will make or break your reception. Look at it this way, unless you’re shooting for a classy, sophisticated, uber-civilized reception (in which case, you should probably ignore everything I say … in fact, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog) where people raise their pinkies to drink their apertifs, the music will make the difference between everyone leaving by 9 as opposed to having the cleaning crew pushing people out with brooms around 2 am … in which case, the party restarts at a nearby bar with a great jukebox.

However, we are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the music at our wedding. We’re having a destination wedding in Puerto Vallarta at this beautiful beach location that was the old estate of the filmmaker John Huston (you know the movie the Night of the Iguana … Richard Burton, Ava Gardner … well, that place), and although it’s an awesome location, I have no idea as to the quality of the musical choices they offer. The people at the resort are great, but I’m just not that trusting a person when a stranger tells me that their DJs are great. I mean, what if I go with their advice only to find out that the people at the resort think Celine Dion is a goddess and swoon to the musical stylings of Michael Bolton. I think the pain of a jellyfish sting would be comparable to the DJ that plays cheese like this.

So instead of rolling the dice and losing big, we’ve decided to go the way of the iPod. It’s not nearly as spontaneous as the band or DJ route, but you know what you’re getting, and you can prepare multiple playlists for whatever mood people are in. Plus you can ask some of your guests to come up with their own playlists and do a little playlist mashup. I think that would be very cool. Lucky for us, our wedding venue is set up for the iPod thing, so we’re going to do some major crate diving this weekend and start putting together some playlists. Wish us luck…

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Wedding stuff guys care about – DJs

by Jeff on July 16, 2009

If you’re looking for duties to assign your groom, picking a DJ is one he is less likely to screw up. I know that’s not inspiring confidence, but I don’t wish to suffer the wrath of any bride reader whose groom happens to pick Groovy Gorgio the Swingin DJ who plays a melange of cheese like Footloose, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life and Celebration.

Here’s my case … From probably about junior high/middle school on (or whatever the hell they call grades 6-8 now), guys are into music, whether it be metal, hip hop, pop, R&B, punk, dance music or Mozart. And why, you ask? Because at that point we’re riddled with zits, our hair is so greasy it shines and our voices sound like a warbling cricket, and we grab at anything that smacks of cool. Musicians of any ilk are the apotheosis of cool and collected, and unlike pro athletes, most of whom a majority of junior high girls couldn’t pick out of a lineup, most popular musicians and rappers are all well known, if not adored, by girls.

We liked Poison, and it's all your fault - photo courtesy of MoondanceJam.com

We liked Poison, and it's all your fault - photo courtesy of MoondanceJam.com

And the great thing about music is that, regardless of what type of music you attach yourself to, there’s a crowd where you can fit in. If you’re a metalhead, there’s the long haired chicks and dudes who only own black t-shirts and are pierced in places I can’t even imagine. Into dance music? There’s the girls and fellas spinning in someone’s garage after school. And hip-hop? You’re only a pair of baggy pants and a fashionisa Yankees cap away from quasi-coolness. Even if it’s hard-to-tolerate stuff, like the Grateful Dead or Phish (sorry for those fans out there, but I’ve seen the real and post-Grateful Dead, and it wasn’t music as much as delivery vehicle for pot and acid), there is a crowd where you can fit in.

Same goes for high school and really even college. And after college, our identity is still wrapped up into what music we have identified ourselves with for the previous 10 years. This is probably because, for the most part, our maturation stifles from age 14 to about 26. Our interests in music do change and vacillate somewhat over the years, often because the women we date are into something else and we’d rather reluctantly expand our musical palette than sleep by ourselves. I remember feigning enjoyment while one former girlfriend played Phantom of the Opera over and over again, hoping to god she didn’t own more Andrew Lloyd Weber and that this was her idea of foreplay. And now I can probably sing along to the damn thing if I heard it playing when I’m throwing down a slice of pizza at a foodcourt somewhere.

So by the time we are engaged to you, we’ve invested quite a lot of time and thought into cultivating musical interests, whether willingly or not. You and your guy probably share musical interests, which makes this task easier to turn over, and if you don’t, that’s actually better because he’s already made a conscious effort to understand (note that I didn’t say enjoy or share) your tastes and doesn’t want to ruin your night. In fact, even if he hated your favorite band, say Depeche Mode, and every other 80s band as well, he’d still go out of his way to hire an 80s deathwalker who plays nothing but The Damned, Talking Heads and every 12″ that the Mode ever put out, just to make sure you’re happy.

So, for god’s sake, throw us a bone and let us at least screen the DJs. We’ve unknowingly been preparing for this moment our entire teenage and adult lives, and we promise not to botch it (although if we do, it’s the fault of our junior high girlfriend who got us hooked on Hall and Oates).

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All this wedding planning we’ve been doing lately coupled with me trying to run two businesses (My Wedding Workbook wedding website and my Denver-based branding agency Kear Stevens) and late-night blogging (currently writing this at midnight) has led to lots of late nights and short-attention span moments.

For example, this evening I was working on the website when my fiancee came downstairs, sat next to me on the couch and tried to start a conversation about us going to Texas over Thanksgiving to visit her aunt and uncle (very kind, salt-of-the-earth people). As she spoke to me, she tried to look over my shoulder to see what I was doing, which I oddly find very distracting. Instead of stopping what I was doing and talking with her about something that I could tell was important to her, I just said I was trying to get something done. So she sat there for a minute and then tried to peek over my shoulder again, I think in an attempt to be playful, at which point I sort of snapped at her.

Now, just because she knows I can’t stand someone looking over my shoulder (weird paranoid reflex of mine) doesn’t give me the right to snap at her. And me being tired and overworked isn’t a good excuse to snap at her, either. It took 15 minutes for the guilt to build up until I went upstairs to the bedroom where she had retreated and apologized. She was sweet and said she understood, and all was well again.

And why do I tell this rather pedestrian story. For this reason … in our married lives, we are all going to be idiots sometime. For even the nicest person on the planet, being an occasional idiot is unavoidable. It is guaranteed that at some point in the future (probably at many points) we will be grumpy, hurried, sullen, distracted, etc. and not be as respectful of our partner as we should, whether it’s ignoring them, snapping/yelling at them or engage in other assorted barking and stupidity.

However, what’s important is realizing when we’ve just been stupid and asking our spouse for forgiveness. Sure, it’s better if you try to avoid being an ass in the first place, but, speaking for us guys, we’re pretty much guaranteed to be an ass at least once a week. So it’s a good idea to get started now reflecting on our behavior and making amends when that behavior is ill advised.

So, I’m sorry sweetie for being an idiot. Unfortunately there’s a bit more where that came from, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

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On another note, our bridal blogger friends over at Bridelines have been named a finalist for Wedding Channel’s Best Wedding Planning Blog award. But they need votes to win, so check out their site and then click here to vote for them. Their blog takes a funny, insightful look at weddings, and it’s totally worth keeping up with.

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Product shout out

by Jeff on July 14, 2009

Just wanted to let you all know about a few helpful resources I’ve run into recently…

Christine Dyer has recently launched a free wedding directory and community called Bridal Tweet, where brides (and grooms, too) can receive free wedding gifts and favors, create their own page, post blog listings, chat with each other in helpful forums and much more. Excellent site, Christine.

I also recently sent out my wedding invitation in electronic style (part of our effort to save paper and reduce our wedding’s carbon footprint). We used a site called Pingg, which lets you send out invitations (both electronic and printed, if you desire) for all sorts of events, including weddings. I found the interface to be a tad limiting, as I wasn’t able to enter in as much copy in the actual email invitation as I would have liked. But I’m splitting hairs a bit, and overall it did the job, plus it has a nifty online RSVP tracking system that alerts me every day as to how many RSVPs came in over the previous 24 hours. Solid job.

Finally, there’s a very cool site for the budget-conscious bride called BrideShare. It implements community features to let brides reach out to each other who might want to share wedding decorations or other wedding items, split the cost of them or resell wedding items. Great way to conserve dollars and the environment.

I encourage you to check all these resources out.

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As we finished up our e-invitations tonight (more on that tomorrow), I thought about why people throw rice instead of marshmellows (the latter have a much higher yum factor), why brides wear white gowns and not blue jumpsuits and why a wedding cake instead of a wedding pie or wedding pudding (you can tell I’m from the Midwest, can’t you)? I mean, these all seem perfectly normal now, but at one time somebody had to come up with it, and before that nobody would have deigned to throw rice at the bride and groom. In fact, it still seems pretty silly.

I just learned somewhere on the Web (if I don’t bookmark stuff I never remember where I saw it) that the tradition of the bride wearing a white gown started with Queen Victoria. That tradition at least makes sense. The Queen Mother decided she’d wear white, and at the time all self-respecting Brit females thought the world of the Queen, so they all followed in suit. 100 years later, brides who are more familiar with Queen the rock group than Queen Victoria are wearing white with no idea why or where it all started. But they followed suit nonetheless.

Now, for arguement’s sake, say Oprah got married (assumming she isn’t already … seems to be a matter of conjecture at times) and she wore some sort of Vegas showgirl outfit with feather headdress, sequins and the whole works (I know this would never happen, but bear with me). Many people would certainly be shocked; however, one of the first notable people to wear white at their wedding was Mary Queen of Scots (she wed Francois II of France), and white was considered to be a rather outre choice since it was the color (our should I say colour) of mourning in France. But as Oprah’s wedding pictures got around and Oprah’s supporters began a crusade to defend her rather outrageous choice of wedding attire (which they invariably would … hell, the read every book she recommends, no matter how ponderous some might be), suddenly you would begin to see feathers, sequins and maybe even a pastie or two creep into wedding attire. You laugh, you smirk, but people invariably follow the crowd (I’m in marketing, so I know these things), and it would certainly happen.

Oprah's future wedding attire ... could be - Photo courtesy of Excalibur Entertainments Web site

Oprah's future wedding attire? Could be... - Photo courtesy of Excalibur Entertainments Web site

But would that really be an improvement, or would it simply start another ridiculous trend of what one “should” wear on their wedding day? I’m a bit of an iconoclast, and I certainly think tradition has its place, but when it comes to what you should wear or how you should state your vows or what you should have for dessert, I say screw what you’re “supposed” to do and go with what makes you happy and what you like. Queen Victoria actually wore a white dress to incorporate some white lace she already owned (it’s true … just look it up on Wikipedia). So if you have a fashionable blue hat you’ve always adored or prefer rhubarb pie over white cake, I say wear blue and bring out the pie plates.

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Turning a legal formality into fun

by Jeff on July 10, 2009

Because we’re getting married in Puerto Vallarta, we decided to get our marriage license here in Colorado where we live, and that way we don’t have through the hassle (minor, but still a hassle) of getting it in Mexico. So Groomasaurus Gal came up with this great idea…

Since it really doesn ‘t matter when we get our marriage license, we thought we could pick it up next Friday, July 17, which is the 9th anniversary of our first date. (Funny aside: Our first date was in a downtown Denver restaurant that neither of us really like that much. Groomasaurus Gal picked it because it was between both of our offices and, more importantly, because if you sit at the bar – which we did – you can have a quick escape through the front door if the date starts to go south. She told me that years later. No lie.)

Then, after we pick up the license at the courthouse, we will pay a visit to our friend John who introduced us and who also conveniently is a mail-order officiant. Where we will visit him is in the record store that he owns, which is also the place where we first ran into each other. There, he will conduct a short legal ceremony in front of 10 family and close friends, sign the license and we will toast to the occasion, afterward going out for drinks and a nice meal.

Isn’t that a great idea or what. And to make it even more special, there are a few friends who won’t be able to make it to our wedding in Mexico, so we asked them to join us. I thought that was especially neat. So I guess a week from now I will legally be married, although our actual wedding will still be for me the day when I “get married.” More on that later…

Oh, and I haven’t done this much, but a quick shameless self promotion … the wedding website I own that provides wedding planning software tools to brides is getting a facelift next week. It’s taken me away from blogging this week, but now that it’s almost done, I can breathe a bit easier. More to come on that too…

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Groomasaurus Gal says:

A few things I liked about the wedding.

1) There were vases of water placed on the headtable so the bridesmaids could put their bouquets in water to save them. Great idea.

2) I liked the open seating, because you could sit next to who you wanted to. Although I didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t explained to us when we entered, so we did scurry around a little bit asking where we were supposed to sit. Other than the confusion, it was a good idea.

3) I really liked the idea of a wedding Web site, because we didn’t know much about the groom and we could read up about him and his background. Plus we had a better sense of how they met, and we could download all the directions to the church and reception.

4) They repeated the directions to the reception hall on the back of the wedding program. This was great for people who forgot to bring the directions with them, and a nice touch.

5) The main color for the wedding was black, and all the bridesmaids’ dresses were black, which makes it more likely they will be used again. This seems less wasteful and makes it easier for bridesmaids to swallow buying a dress if there’s a chance they can wear it again. And the groomsmen weren’t wearing ridiculously colored vests and bowties. Often you go to weddings and the bridesmaids dresses are powder blue and so are the groomsmens’ vests and ties, and it looks like a bad 80s high school prom.

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