February 2007

I thought it was convenient when Disney started offering wedding services at the parks, but I think this is a bit much.

Brides can soon say ‘I do’ like a princess

(Walt Disney Co.) is using its stable of imaginary princesses as inspiration for a new line of wedding gowns. Disney and bridal designer Kirstie Kelly have developed a line of ethereal gowns that pay homage to Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel and Sleeping Beauty.


Binary ring

From greenKarat, “Our computers, like our love, are built upon very simple foundations. In the case of computers, that foundation is binary code.

These sophisticated, yet simple rings bear your personalized message in that computer code.

Binary code is a way of representing numbers using a pair of symbols (such as 1 and 0) in a string. The placement of the symbol in the string determines its value, just like the decimal place of the digits in our normal counting numbers determines their values.
In binary notation:
1 is one
10 is two
11 is three
100 is four, etc.

With 5 digits you can count from 0 to 31, enough to represent all 26 letters of the alphabet with 1=A, 2=B and so on.

On the Binary rings, there are 5 parallel tracks running around the ring, each track representing a digit in the binary lexicon. The track is engraved for 1 and left blank for 0. In this way, the five lines of engraving which progress around the ring spell out, in combination, your personalized message. Whew! Got it?

The message on the ring above reads “A Marriage of Values”. Your message may contain up to 20 characters. Cast in either recycled gold or recycled platinum.

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve run into while researching and planning my wedding is the “one size fits all” pricing structure of wedding vendors.

We’re having a small wedding: 50 invited guests. My fiance and I do not have tons of friends; we’re not social butterfly people. We are inviting co-workers, close friends, and close family members. We are not going to be pressured or feel obligated to invite distant relatives or pushy acquaintances.

I’ve explained this to caterers, location managers, wedding coordinators, and they just don’t seem to understand it. I honestly believe that wedding vendors cannot wrap their heads around guest counts smaller than 100. Several caterers that I’ve spoke with tack on an additional surcharge (i.e. penalty) for parties under 100 people. Luckily, I have found a caterer who is willing to work within my budget and can provide a creative array of cuisine options. (I still need to settle on a location and taste their food before I get under contract with them, but they look promising.)

The ceremony/reception location rental fees in the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. metro area are shockingly high and are not scalable for a small wedding. Finding a suitable location to host a ceremony and reception for under $1500 is nearly impossible. Plus, most of these locations are booked a year in advance. (I am aware of county parks and recreation locations. I have been looking into them. They are more affordable than business locations, but many of the locations have their own unique limitations.)

I have been the most disappointed by wedding coordinators. At this point, I believe their role in the wedding is to scare the brides into believing that the wedding will go totally awry without them. By preying on the fears and insecurities of inexperienced brides, they routinely shake down brides for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. I’ll accept that not all wedding coordinators are manipulating, control-freaks. I bet there are really sweet coordinators out there who you can call at 3 AM the night before the wedding, and she’ll come over and help you hot glue ribbons on your favors.
I was expecting day-of wedding coordination rates to be about 10% – 15% of the total cost of the wedding. In my case, $650 – $975. However, in this area, for day-of wedding coordination *only*, I have received quotes, from various wedding coordinators, in the range of $1400 – $3500.
I understand that brides (and their families) are not a joy to deal with. Seriously, I get that. But, jeez, I want you to make sure the music is queued appropriately and make sure the chairs are moved from the ceremony configuration to the reception configuration, not find a cure for cancer.
Why do I even care about a wedding coordinator, you ask? Because, at the end of the night of my first wedding, I was sweeping the reception hall in my wedding dress, so I would get my deposit back from the venue. I manage projects and investigations everyday at work. I do not want to spend my wedding barking orders at people.
I’ll keep looking for a day-of coordinator. I’m tempted to contract a project manager for the day. Worst case, I’ll entrust (and compensate) a friend of mine with these duties.

Several weeks ago, I attended the Washington Bridal Showcase in Bethesda, MD. I wasn’t expecting to find vendors I would use, but I wanted to see who was out there and who to stay away from. I knew the bridal show organizers would give out my email address to vendors, so I created an email address specifically for wedding email. Over the past few weeks, I’ve received about 50 advertising messages from vendors. Nothing personalized… no surprise there. However, what surprised me was the number of vendors complying with the CAN-SPAM Act. It was easy to unsubscribe… most of them used companies like Constant Contact to manage their mailing lists.
To those vendors properly managing their mailing list: I applaud you. I may not require your services, or perhaps you aren’t my style, but I definitely respect you and would refer someone to you.

Unfortunately, there were other vendors who were not so considerate.

There is one photobooth vendor who sends an email containing a subject line and a jpg attachment of an ad flyer. No ad copy in the body. No contact information in the body. No unsubscribe information in the body. I have received 2 emails from the company since the bridal show on 01/21/07. I sent a polite unsubscribe request to the company, so hopefully, I won’t be receiving any more email from them.

The most egregious vendor has been Elan Artists. At the Washington Bridal Showcase, they were handing out multimedia CDs and they have a polished website. They don’t have the excuse of being a small company that doesn’t have an understanding of technology. Their marketing team should know better.
Here are the reasons why they ruffle my feathers.
1. They mail out HTML advertisements with no unsubscribe information.

2. The return path is different than from line that is displayed. These messages were sent by “Michael @ Elan Artists” (pr@elanartists.com). However, when you respond to send a polite unsubscribe email back to “Michael @ Elan Artists”, the email is sent off to elaninfo@elanartists.com. Both elaninfo@elanartists.com and pr@elanartists.com may be reviewed by the same person, but you never know, marketing folk don’t always handle sales and information requests.

3. I had to call their office to get off of the Elan Artists mailing list. I sent a polite unsubscribe email to both elaninfo and pr@elanartists.com, and I still received additional email. I will concede that Elan Artists may not have had an opportunity to process my unsubscribe request before they sent out the next mailing. But, to be honest, I was tired of seeing their emails pop in my inbox. I received six marketing email messages from Elan Artists from January 23rd – February 1st, three of which advertised their photodocumentary photographers back to back on 1/26, 1/29 and 1/30. I am open to an initial email thanking me for stopping by their booth and generally advertising their services, but I don’t need their services crammed down my throat.
I am definitely not considering any Elan Artist service for my wedding. If they aren’t going to pay attention to my requests as a potential client, how can I trust that they will respect my requests as a client?

In December 2005, D. (my fiance) and I attended a musical comedy show called “What I Like About Jew.” During the show, the comedian, Rob Tannenbaum, asked if any of the couples in the audience were on dates. We raised our hands, without any idea what to expect. He came down off the stage and asked how long we’ve been dating and why there wasn’t an engagement ring on my finger. D. explained that we had only been dating 6 months. At that point, Rob started singing to me “I’m Better Looking (Than the Guy You’re Going Out With).” The song was very funny and both D. and I turned red. D. is a little shy, so being the center of everyone’s attention made him a little uncomfortable.

Flash forward to December 2006, we heard that Rob Tannenbaum was back in town with his new show “Good for the Jews.” By the time we got around to buying the tickets, the show was sold out. On the day of the show, D. picked up some last minute tickets via Craigslist. We went to the venue and sat in the second row. Rob came on stage, and after a few songs, he asked the audience the same question as the year before: Were there any couples in the audience here on dates? We raised our hands again, and Rob singled us out again for embarrassment. He asked us our names and how long we’ve been dating. Then he asked D. why there wasn’t a ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. D. said, “Because I’ve been waiting for you to ask me that question.” At that point, D. pulls out the ring from his coat pocket and pops the question in front of about 150 people. Rob was not “in” on the proposal. He stood there stunned as I said yes. The audience applauded, women were crying, and I was overwhelmed. Yes, Rob went through with the act and sang “I’m Better Looking (Than the Guy You’re Going Out With)” once again. During the rest of the show, women were coming up to me with keychain flashlights to look at the ring and to congratulate me.

After the show, D. went up to Rob to apologize for derailing the show for a moment. Rob said that it was no problem; he had never had someone propose during one of his shows. Rob then asked D. what if I didn’t pick you two, what would you have done? D. replied that if we weren’t picked then it wasn’t the right moment, and he would have waited for another time. But, we were picked, it was the right moment, and our life together started the way we want our life to continue: full of laughter.

Spastic. That’s what I am. I’m creative and silly and serious and brash, but in dealing with this wedding, I’m also spastic and frantic and manic. I have over a year to pull off this wedding; I know this. But, I’m working with a limited budget ($6500) of my and my fiance’s money, and I want this wedding to reflect our personalities and actually mean something. It’s not about being a princess or having a party.

So, expect some rants and a lot of untraditional ideas.