Jul 102008
 

One of the joys of a wedding day is that people tend to say very nice things to you.

My favorite wedding-day compliment was from some friends of Mr T, who accused us of ruining their drive home “because usually we amuse ourselves with an over/under on how long the marriage will last, and what will cause the break-up. But there’s just no point with you two.” 

Wicked tradition? Yes. But it amused me, and the conclusion is pretty great if you think about it.

But make that my favorite compliment till now. Because my MOH recently emailed this story about her adorable little boy:

Yesterday J was playing with a toy tractor and I asked him where he was going. 
He said, “I’m going to Baltimore to get married.”  
To whom? I asked. 
“To TARA!!!!!!!!  She is a beautiful bride!!!!”

So Mr T is on notice.  Just in case the first couple was wrong about our future, he has extra reason to be good to me — in 16-18 years, there will be a handsome young man waiting in the wings!

What are your favorite compliments, wedding-related or as a couple?

 

Jul 092008
 

I am slightly obsessed with the process of donating items I don’t want to charity. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with boxing everything up and dropping it at The Salvation Army, Goodwill, or another thrift store. But bonus points if you can get your unwanted goods directly into the hands of someone who needs them.

Add the fact that Mr T and I combined households post-wedding and now have duplicates of everything in our very crowded condo, and it shouldn’t be hard to guess what’s on my mind these days!

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(No, this photo is not from the Clutterers Anonymous website: This is our office, after the contents of my 1200-sf apartment were crammed into Mr T’s 670-sf place.)

So, for those of you moving in together for the first time, expecting to replace a few things through your wedding registry, or otherwise just hoping to weed out some clutter, here’s a (sort of) brief guide to getting rid of the excess:

Everything:

Craigslist offers free online classifieds for most metropolitan areas. Listing is free and easy, and the site is heavily used — most free or well-priced items receive multiple takers within a few hours of listing. One downside is that Craigslist users are sometimes flaky — it helps to have a “back-up” in case the original taker doesn’t show.

Freecycle is a national network of message boards through which people offer and request free items of all sorts. Its costs and benefits are similar to Craigslist. There are also lesser-known groups, many of which are listed at Sharing is Giving and Freesharing.org.

Selling on eBay isn’t difficult, and it can bring in a good chunk of change. You can even sell for charity. But be warned — taking good pictures, forming a listing, answering buyer questions, and shipping the item takes more effort than you might expect.

Wedding Items:

Expect to have leftover food the day of your wedding? America’s Second Harvest will distribute it to shelters.

If you live in NYC or LA, Flower Power will take your flowers and give them to the elderly and seriously ill.

Brides Against Breast Cancer accepts modern (post-2000) wedding gowns in good condition. They’ll even dry-clean it for you (they request an optional donation of $12 to cover this cost).

The I Do Foundation, best known for its charity-friendly wedding registries, accepts wedding dress donations (clean, post-2005). The Foundation sells the dress through a consignment store and donates 20% of the sale to the charity of your choice, using the rest to support the Foundation itself.

In the DC area, St. Anthony’s Bridal accepts donations of most wedding-related items (wedding dresses and accessories, tuxes, decor, etc.) and loans them at no cost to other couples who are getting married. They also have a prom-dress program for bridesmaid gowns.

Clothing:

The Princess Project donates fancy party attire and accessories to girls headed to prom. Based in San Francisco, they accept mailed donations of recent (2002-present), dry-cleaned bridesmaid gowns and other party attire from January-April each year. The Glass Slipper Project is a similar charity in Chicago, which also takes shoes, evening bags, jewelry, and unused makeup.

If you’d prefer something local, check out the lists of dress-donation campaigns at DonateMyDress or The Glass Slipper Project.

Business-appropriate women’s clothing (suits, blouses, interview-appropriate shoes) can be donated to Dress for Success.

Household goods:

People who have just arrived in this country or are moving out of a shelter into their own home often desperately need furniture, dishes, small appliances, and other household items. Try an Internet search for homeless shelters and women’s shelters in your area or foundations that provide support to refugees. As an example, a Google search for “donate household items DC” turned up lists organized by charity and type of donation, a program run by DC Child and Family Services, the refugee support program of the International Rescue Committee, and a couple of local rescue missions.

The International Rescue Committe, which supports recently resettled refugees, has offices in 17 U.S. locations. Find your nearest location on their  home page under “Where We Work,” and then check the donation information on your local page.

In the NYC area, check out Project Hospitality, Partnership for the Homeless, or the Furniture Distribution Program of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, or there’s an excellent list of charities here.

In Toronto, check out The Furniture Bank. Or see this list of charities throughout Canada.

Most animal shelters accept towels and blankets for grooming and bedding (as well as pet-related items, of course).

Books, CDs, DVDs:

In most cases, your local public library would be happy to take books and media to add to its collections or to sell at a fundraiser. Not sure whether to donate something? Remember that a library donation isn’t gone forever — you can always check it out later!

AnySoldier.com helps people send care packages to soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan who don’t normally get mail from home. Books, CDs, and DVDs are popular items for passing the time when not on duty.

If you’re in the right drop-off area or willing to mail your books, a number of charities accept book donations and re-distribute them in the US and abroad. These include Books for Africa (St. Paul, accepts mailed books); Got Books? (New England, accepts mailed books); Hands Across the Water (MA, CT, RI, St Louis, WA, GA); EcoEncore (Seattle, accepts mailed books; resells books/CDs/DVDs and donates profits to environmental charity); and the Prisoners’ Reading Encouragement Project (NYC, accepts mailed books as well as books on tape and VHS tapes). Textbooks can be difficult to donate, but check out Bridge to Asia, which sends them to universities in China (SF & Chicago, accepts mailed books).

If you’d prefer to make a few dollars (or at least some store credit) off your books, you can drop them off at a local used book store or ship them to Powell’s Books for store credit. Want to swap them out for something new? You can trade books through Paperback Swap or books, music, movies, and games through Swaptree.

Computers:

Most Goodwill locations accept computers, though Goodwill recommends checking with your local branch  before bringing them in. The Goodwill website offers helpful tips on donation, including links to services that will wipe your hard drive clean.

Share the Technology has a comprehensive list of where to donate or recycle both newer and older computers. Another good resource is World Computer Exchange, which has dozens of drop-off locations in the US and abroad for donations of computers (Pentium 3 or newer) and computer peripherals.

What else have I missed?  Has anyone used these resources, and do you have tips to share?

Jul 022008
 

Last week, Mr T and I attended our first wedding as a newly married couple. It was a beautiful, touching evening perfectly suited to the personality of the couple. But, boy, was it weird for us!

On your own wedding day, every moment is about the two of you. You are intensely connected with every detail, over which you have lovingly slaved for many months. The experience as a guest is quite different, and having the two events so close together highlighted the contrast for us. So thought I’d share a bit of the experience from the guest side, to put things in perspective for anyone still planning your own wedding….

Molly's Wedding

(Our photos were few and rather awful.  But Mrs Lovebug’s hot tip has gotten me into Picnik in a big way, so here they are, artsied up in best “memories of old” style…..)

1. My friend is getting married to a wonderful guy, and two other old friends will be in town for the wedding.  We’ve all known each other for almost 25 years (yikes), so this is huge!  I’ve been excited for days, to the point that I’m checking the weather forecast as obsessively as the bride herself must be.

2. Stress overly much about own dress (was it always this short-waisted?) and choice of shoes.

3. Get stuck in rush-hour traffic and arrive 15 minutes late. Where’s the wedding? Where’s the wedding? Maybe through these buildings? Ooh, here’s the reception spot — look at the pretty lanterns! And flowers! And table linens! Argh, no time, must find wedding.

4. There they are, to our left, in a beautifully sunlit spot. Unfortunately, our late arrival means we missed the processional and half the ceremony. Can’t make the chairs without being rude, so settle on a garden bench near the musicians, and strain to catch every word.

5. Can only see the dress from the back, but it’s cool and So. Her.  I spot one friend in the bridesmaid party, along with two ladies I frequently hear of from the bride. Wonder who those guys are, standing with the groom?

6. Recessional and receiving line. Excited reunions and hugs all around. Oops, the bride must leave for photos.

MHS

7. Aw, they want a photo with high school types. I made the photos!

8. A beverage and some snacks? Why, thank you, waiters! But I have trouble standing. Think it’s OK to sit at a dinner table? Some others seem to have done it, so we’ll give it a try. Hmm, no table designations — how do we know which one to leave open for the bridal party and their family? Guess we’ll just pick one.

9. Oh no, the bride and groom got caught in a sudden downpour mid-photo. Hope that doesn’t put a damper on their moo—-why, yes, I *would* like another snack, thank you!

10. Tapas? Fabulous! Does the fact that those other people are loading their plates mean it’s OK for us to go up too?  We decide to wait 3 minutes to see what happens. (3 because 2 is too short, but 5 is FAR too long when tapas is beckoning.)

11. There’s time to admire the table linens and floral centerpieces while we stuff our face. Wow, I *really* like this color palette.

12. Bathroom break. Oh, look, the bride and groom are getting a few minutes alone outside. Good for them. Hey, cake! Oh, and here’s the guestbook by the cake. Stress over saying something interesting.

Wedding Cake

13. Cake-cutting. Always a far-away event over a sea of heads.

14. But the cake is tasty — well done, my friend! And those toasts are touching. I am SO HAPPY for them. And tearing up a little, sniff.

15. Wonder where they’re going on their honeymoon. I forgot to ask the final plan. The bride is coming to sit with us, I can ask her now! But shouldn’t she be somewhere? I feel bad taking up her time….

Final Kiss

16. Thanks, dear friend, I’d love to take a centerpiece home!  Pause for one last air smooch and photo.

17. The bride and groom are off to a new life together in the wake of this incredible evening. And we? Are off to walk to the dog.

Jul 012008
 

Contract

(Image source)

Background

We Tulips are the most easy-going lawyers you could hope to meet.  And we only had 3 wedding vendors — photographer and two venues.  So, when our reception venue said they didn’t have a standard contract to detail the terms of our rental, we didn’t insist.

When we first looked into the venue, they gave us the option of reserving their lower level for a certain minimum food/drink purchase, or taking over the whole place for a larger minimum.  We wanted extra space and didn’t want to share with restaurant diners, so we went with the larger minimum.  It meant ordering more food than we actually needed, and maybe filling in the difference if the bar tab didn’t take us to the minimum, but we felt the trade-off was worth it.

Cut to the week of our wedding, when we got an email from the event coordinator.  She said that, “in light of the small number of guests,” they felt it would be “much more intimate” if we all stayed on the lower level.  Translation: they wanted to keep the restaurant open upsairs during our reception.  Although the owners had set the terms in the first place, they now decided the minimum was too low.  Of course, we objected on principle to this shockingly bad business practice, but we also had guests arriving in a couple of days.  Cue many emails back and forth, tears by the event coordinator (who was put in an uncomfortable spot between the owners’ position and our own anger), and finally a meeting between Mr T and the owners, in which we agreed to allow them to stay open while we decorated, and also to push the reception back an hour.  It wasn’t ideal, but it did find a compromise between the two positions.  We just announced the time change at our ceremony.

Lesson Learned

Under most circumstances, an agreement does not need to be written down to become a valid contract.  It’s enough that the parties reach an agreement and then take action on that agreement.  The lack of a written contract did not give our reception site any authority to change our rental terms.

But “legal authority” is one thing … real-world practice is another.  If anything goes wrong, you have a stronger position if you can waive around a piece of paper, with the vendor’s signature, on which she agreed to the exact terms of your deal.  This is in part because the vendor must confront her own promises, and in part because, if all else fails, it’s easier to take legal action on a written document because it offers convenient proof of the agreed-upon terms and both parties’ acceptance of those terms (as shown by their signatures).

For the same reasons, you should put everything significant into that written agreement.  Photographer agreed to give you a DVD of images within two months?  Be sure it’s in the contract.  Florist agreed on light-pink peonies?  Be sure it’s in the contract.  Restaurant venue agreed to close from 4-10 p.m. based on a certain minimum purchase?  Be sure it’s in the contract.  Heaven forbid you ever have a dispute, but “an ounce of prevention” is by far the best.

Anyone else have a vendor dispute to share?  Were the key terms in your contract, and did it make a difference?

Jul 012008
 

Inspired by Miss Pomegranate’s nifty kissing menu idea, thought I’d share what we required of guests who wanted to see us kiss.  We refused to give them a show … unless they did …

THE CHICKEN DANCE!

Chicken dance

(Mr T and a groomsman flap their wings at the after-party)

Since our dead music meant no actual (much-anticipated!) Chicken Dance, I’m glad we still got to include this tradition in some way.  And it definitely kept smooching demands to a minimum — only the afore-mentioned groomsman was man enough to play chicken for the assembled crowd.

Anyone else going with a decidedly unusual method of kissing request?

 

Jun 262008
 

In honor of Miss Cupcake’s post from yesterday, here are a few Parent Dance pics.  We didn’t have anything special — just a song and a quartet of parents (we switched halfway).  But I enthusiastically recommend a Parent Dance to everyone — a few minutes out of the reception can mean a lifetime’s worth of bonding moments all around.

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(Photos, as always, by Punam Bean)

Jun 242008
 

As the Tulip Nuptial Recap Extravaganza winds down, I’m still discovering the occasional forgotten detail.  And the current case in point is actually one of my favorite decorations from our wedding reception:

As a cheapskate budget bride, I’ve always loved the decorative-bang-for-few-bucks factor of the famous Martha Stewart tissue poufs.  In fact, I bought some red tissue and planned to do up poufs for our own decor.  But between illness and general laziness, few things get done in my world.  And in the end … well, let’s just say our red-tissue-paper needs will be met for many Christmases to come!

D14TU

Luckily I also picked up a dozen of these beauties, which hung from the ceiling in our cocktail area.  Assembly took approximately two seconds — just unfold the rice-paper accordion around the circle and secure it with a bit of tape or the included paper clip.  I adored them for some crazy reason, whether because of the bright turquoise color or my love for vintage accordion-paper party decorations (Santa’s belly, anyone?).  Available at Luna Bazaar, they come in 5 colors and are $1.50 for the 14” model and $1.95 for an 18-incher (less if you buy a dozen or more).

What other simple paper decorations can be used to jazz up a celebration site?  Anyone going with paper flags or streamers?  Or the genuine Martha floral poms?