The Oblivious Bride: The Engagement Story

Hello blog readers!  My name is Jenny Fong and I am the Marketing and Business Development Manager for The Wedding Lens.  I joined The Wedding Lens team in December and have been working mostly behind the scenes.  Well, on April 3rd, 2010, my boyfriend, Chris, proposed!  So like the old TV commercial says:   I’m not just a Wedding Lens employee, I’m also a client!

Will you be my disco queen? – An Engagement Story

Chris and I met on New Year’s Eve 2006-2007.  We were both invited to a week-long cabin trip to South Lake Tahoe organized by a mutual friend.  Earlier this year, the same mutual friend was planning…yep…another South Lake Tahoe cabin trip.  We signed up, as did 23 of our friends, knowing it would be epic weekend.  By the way, one thing you have to understand about this group of friends – whenever we have a chance to dress up, we do!  So our party planner extraordinaire declared Saturday night to be 70’s night.  Chris and I dug into our costume box to find our outrageous disco gear –my go-go dancer costume, his polyester pants and brown leather jacket.  Another friend was supplying my blond wig and fake eyelashes.  The last thing I expected in this outfit was a proposal!

As the group was getting dolled up to hit the casinos, Chris asked me to come outside to the deck with him.  There, overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe, just across the shore from Kings Beach where Chris grew up, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!  But I was so shocked and not expecting the proposal that my first words were, “Are you kidding me????  Yes!!!  But are you kidding me????”

While we were talking on the deck, Chris’ accomplice inside, our mutual friend, was telling the rest of our group what was happening.  When we came back inside, we walked into raucous cheers, complete with champagne toasts.  The rest of the night was a fabulous disco celebration – crazy wigs and all!

Wigs, polyester, and an engagement ring

Sharing the Memories

The very next day, I realized I needed to start telling my family and friends about our engagement before it leaked on Facebook!  But I knew it would be hard to explain the costume party proposal over the phone.  Plus, I was busy getting proposed to and did not have the photos on my own camera – they were all on my friends’ cameras.  So I started my album on The Wedding Lens and asked the other cabin guests to upload their photos and videos from the weekend.  I added a few close-up photos of the ring and sent the album to all my loved ones.  With The Wedding Lens, all of our friends and family got to see our engagement as if they were there with us!

Unlike other photo sharing sites, I could easily capture group photos in a single location.  This is just one of the many reasons why The Wedding Lens is better for couples getting married!

Out of Our Element…

As you can tell, Chris and I are not very conventional.  We love our crazy, quirky friends and we like to have fun.  But we have a bit of a problem when it comes to wedding planning.  I’m more interested in going to a sports bar to watch my beloved California Golden Bears than dressing up in designer digs.  I am more comfortable in jeans than a skirt, and I don’t know the difference between chameuse and chiffon.  Even though I work for The Wedding Lens, I have never had an idea about my dream wedding, so we’re starting this process with a completely blank slate.  As I wade through these decisions and go through the process of planning a wedding, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and lessons learned through this blog.  I’m calling it “The Oblivious Bride” and I hope my stories will help others who might feel just as lost as I am.

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Wedding Question: How to Help a Friend Budget

One of my friends is getting married in about six months, though she just got engaged. She hasn’t booked anything yet but she keeps talking about how she wants the perfect dress, amazing flowers, and a ton of food and alcohol. And she wants to have 500 people! I just don’t get how she can do that given that she doesn’t have money and neither does her family. How can I help her budget this in a way that makes sense?

a bride shares her big moment with her close friends! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Good question! Wedding budgeting is a bit overwhelming and it’s easy to just skip that part and get on to the fun planning parts! But budgeting is key!

Explain to your friend that you really need to work out a budget for everything. Some people think this means sitting down and deciding how much they have to spend on each thing. And that’s fine! But it’s a good idea to know what may be expected. So start by checking out our guide to create a wedding budget.

Help your friend by taking a look at the average cost of weddings in the locale where she’s getting married. The average cost of a wedding in the US is probably around $30,000, but it depends on where you are. Some regions it will be higher, some lower. If you can help her see that her idealistic dream is going to cost her a pretty penny, maybe she’ll either change what she wants OR she’ll find a way to afford it all.

Get an idea of what the expenses will be and how many things there are to plan and pay for. This will also help shed some light on a realistic budget.

The most important thing that you should do is help support your friend. When she realizes that she wont be able to afford what she’s dreamed of, she’s going to be pretty upset and sad. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s not and how she feels about her wedding is real. Be sure you make her feel good about the positive things — the friends and family who will be there to love her and share in the joyful occasion.

Hope that helps! And if she’s needs some good cost-cutting tips, check out our cheap wedding tips.

Got other wedding planning questions, just ask! Email natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

Why Bridesmaids & Groomsmen?

So last week I wrote blog post about why brides wear white wedding dresses and it’s led to a lot of other questions about the wedding planning process. In light of that, I decided that I should investigate more of these “traditions” to see where they came from. Now – why do we have bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Turns out that unlike the white wedding dress, the bridemaids and groomsmen is truly a “tradition” that stands the test of time.  There are several different version of the history out there, so I’ll just try to compile it the best way I can….

happy groomsmen at a modern day wedding! photo from The Wedding Lens!

Best Man & Groomsmen

So the long & the short of it is that the best man and the groomsmen have always been the guys who would say to the groom “dude, I got your back.”

Somewhere in the early A.D. era, there were when a dude couldn’t find a wife, he and his buddies would go to the next village over and steal a future wife. Yes, steal. The buddies not only helped with the stealing but they’d “get the groom’s back” during the wedding ceremony — you know, just in case the bride’s family wanted her back or something.

Other stories say that the groomsmen helped escort the bride to the wedding (even when she was a willing participant). 

bridesmaids at a modern day wedding, photo from The Wedding Lens

Maid of Honor & Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids were involved in the wedding ceremony for two reasons: to be a witness to the wedding and to confuse the evil spirits. Roman law required witnesses be present at the wedding — so that’s why the bridesmaids were there! Even today, many bridesmaids (or perhaps just the maid of honor) can serve as a witness to a wedding ceremony.

The evil spirit thing has to do with…. attire!

Attire

In the case of both the brides and the grooms, the groups would dress very similar to the bride & groom. Why? To ward off evil spirits of course! The idea was that the evil spirits would get confused by the similarity in dress. Which seems (to me) that maaybe those evil spirits weren’t so bright.

Anyway, “we’ve” kept the tradition of the bridesmaids dressing the same as each other, but not so much as the bride. Perhaps this is because the brides have recently adopted the tradition of wearing white instead of any old color. Obviously the groomsmen still dress very similarly to the groom.

So that’s the story of the bridesmaids & groomsmen. IS there anything you want to know the history of? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

How to Handle the Guest List

Ok, so you have 200 slots and about 500 people you wish you could invite. There are people who you are obligated to invite (oh family) and there are some of those obligatory invites who you’re sure won’t be able to come. Like you’re PRETTY sure that Uncle Billy won’t be able to make it because he hasn’t traveled beyond the grocery store in the past 5 years. But what if he CAN make it? What if he decides to make the trip? How on earth will that work with numbers on the guest list?!

Photo of Guest Seating Decor from The Wedding Lens

First: Breathe. Remember that your wedding day is about a celebrating your relationship with your friends and family.

Second: Start listing. List everyone. All 300 people. Everyone you might possibly want to invite or wish you could invite — even though there’s the possibility that you won’t be able to in the grand scheme of things.

Third: Of those people on the list, make a separate list of the absolutely 100% non-negotiable people who you WANT to be at your wedding to celebrate. This includes: Your best friend, your second best friend, and your college roommates. This does not include: Your parents’ friends who you feel obligated to invite. Got it?

Fouth: Check the numbers. Say now you have 150 of the 200 people you can invite. That leaves you 80 people left to invite. Huh? 80? But Natasha, you say, 200 – 150 = 50! Ah yes. BUT statistically a guest list of 200 people or LESS, there will be 15-20% of folks who do not come. With a guest list of 200 people or MORE, 20-25% won’t come.

Now, I have to forwarn. Not everyone is going to RSVP in a timely manner and some of those 15-20% or 20-25% won’t drop out til the last minute. But I assure you that you can safely invite 15% more than your highest number and you will be a-okay.

So this gives you a little more room to play with. You’ll have 80 people you can fill in with obligatory invites — be it your Uncle or your parents friends who have known you since you were born — and (gasp) anyone else you can/want to invite.

Fifth: If you are just stuck with those extra 80 people and how to handle them. I really recommend using a ranking system. That sounds awful, of course, to rank your friends and family. But it will make you feel better. ‘Cause if Uncle Billy really doesn’t come, then maybe you CAN invite your old buddy who you haven’t seen in five years. Maybe.

If you use a tier/ranking system, use an EARLY RSVP date so you have time to fill in the people who say no and you can (with tact) follow up with those you have not heard from so you can fill in their spots. And if you do the tiers, DO NOT print the RSVP deadline on the invitation. Do not. Otherwise either you have to print a whole new set for the new invitees OR you look like… someone who totally forgot to invite the guest until the last minute. Nice.

Here are some tips on how to cut down the guest list and how to handle the guest list when you’re not paying for the wedding (in other words — when other people are adding to YOUR guest list) and more guidance on wedding invitations (including how to tell people they can’t bring a date and/or their kids)

And here, my friends, is how to address these invitations!

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, just email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com and I’ll help ya out. 🙂

Good luck!

~ Natasha

Why Your Wedding Needs an Online Photo Album

Ok, I think I’ve done this before but I wanted to reiterate why oh why you need an online photo album and why oh why it should be on The Wedding Lens!

10. Your friends are bringing their digital cameras to your wedding anyway and they need a place online to upload their photos. Plus their photos are fun and candid… like this….

Photo from The Wedding Lens

9. Your friends can share their videos of the wedding on The Wedding Lens waaay before your videographer gets back to you….

8. You want you & your guests to be able to upload and download ALL photos and videos at full resolution.

photo from The Wedding Lens!

7. You want to use a photo sharing site that has incredible customer service with real people who respond to your questions and concerns. 

6. You want to use a site that your guests don’t have to register for in order to upload their photos!

5. Your friends like seeing each other’s photos and the one album will be accessible to everyone. They can print or download whichever ones they like and want.

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

4. The Wedding Lens takes care of emailing reminders to your guests – so you don’t have to think twice about it, or feel like you’re bothering your guests.

3. You think that the person who writes The Wedding Lens blog is incredibly witty, knowledgeable, and, well, cute! (No comments from the peanut gallery, please!)

2. You thought you wanted to put disposable cameras on each table, but you realized it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to ask your friends to upload all their own photos into your Wedding Lens album.  

1.  You really don’t want to have to go to 6 different websites to see all your friends’ photos of the wedding. It’s so much easier to have them all in ONE album online… on The Wedding Lens!

If that doesn’t convince you, let me know. I’ll work on it. 🙂

~ Natasha

Why a White Wedding Dress?

So a few of my friends are planning their weddings now and trying to decide what color wedding dress they want to have. Huh? Why not white? Well, they wanted to learn WHY it is what people succumb to this tradition of having a white wedding dress. After all, if you don’t understand it, why are you doing it?

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

I suppose “tradition” is a good enough reason, but when you look at the history of the white wedding dress, the “tradition” can only be traced back to 1840 when Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert of Saxe. She wore a white wedding dress…. but why? Well, it has nothing to do with virtue and everything to do with money. After all, even in 1840 you couldn’t re-wear a white dress! Not only because there were no events to where them to but also because white clothing was harder to clean. So it was very extravagent and prestigious to wear a white wedding dress.

So people were getting married in any ol’ color except for those who wanted to show their wealth and take after the British monarchy. And yet, slowly but surely the white wedding dress took a strong hold and everyone wanted to have that sort of glamour as part of their wedding.

During the Depression, women would marry in white — and then dye their dress so that they could rewear it. Or, they would marry in their fanciest of clothing out of necessity.

Anyway, the point is that the white wedding dress is not at all what I thought it was. It has nothing to do with virtue and a long, deep-seated history. It’s all relatively recent and has more to do with showing off money than anything else. Interesting, right? Especially since even today the wedding attire is “supposed to be” at least 5% of the total wedding budget.

With that in mind, I point out that there are other colors to marry in, if you’re looking for something that bucks with the recent tradition. An old poem explains the meaning of the wedding dress color:

Married in white, you will have chosen all right.

Married in grey , you will go far away.

Married in black, you will wish yourself back.

Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.

Married in blue, you will always be true.

Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl.

Married in green, ashamed to be seen,

Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow.

Married in brown, you’ll live out of town.

Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”

Incidentally, we did a post a while back about colorful wedding dresses — take a gander if you’re thinking about changing your wedding dress color from white to… something else.

What color will you marry in?

~ Natasha

Picking the Song for Your First Dance

I was just checking out some of my older posts and recalled one about first dances — and what songs people like to pick to dance to. It’s a fun post, so I thought I would repost the list of songs. In this new year, there are more songs that should be added to the list — or rather, just one that a friend recently introduced me to. It’s a little non-traditional and is more like a pop-dance song to dance to, but it’s fun!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

By the way, if I could find a link to the song online, I provided it – just click on the song title! I also linked to the artists’ website, if you click on the name of the artist.

So SmallCarrie Underwood

You Are the Best ThingRay La Montagne

Witness to Your LifeLori McKenna

Somebody LovedThe Weepies

UnforgettableNat King Cole

Can’t Help Falling In LoveElvis Presley 

The Way You Look TonightFrank Sinatra

It Had To Be YouHarry Connick, Jr.

What a Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong

Endless LoveDiana Ross & Lionel Richie

I’ve Been Loving You Too LongSeal

Little WondersRob Thomas

Say Hey (I Love You)Michael Franti & Spearhead

What song will you be dancing to? Share it!

~ Natasha