Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Quickie Wedding

That is to say, planning your wedding in oh, six months or less. Honestly, I'm a big fan. Less time to worry, less time to stress, less time needed to focus on all the little details that make up the day. I could be a little biased - I planned mine in five months, and the only thing preventing me from doing it sooner were the folks I had coming from the East Coast. The quickest wedding I've been hired to plan was in six weeks (for the couple that's on my home page). I had a lot of fun with that one, just go go go, and it turned into a wonderful party.

Here's a article from the Daily Breeze
on doing it right - simple, inexpensive, and above all, FUN:

Wedding is a simple pleasure
By Melissa Heckscher Staff Writer
Posted: 03/27/2009 08:02:54 AM PDT

So, we did it. We're married.

That's right. One month after he proposed and a year after we met, Jacob and I decided to ditch the yearlong wedding angst that so many couples endure and instead pulled together a tie-the-knot ceremony faster than you can get a reservation at Cecconi on Melrose (where, FYI, Friday nights require at least 30 days' notice).

We tell people we "eloped," but mostly that's because (1) we did it in New Orleans, which is an eloping kind of town, and (2) it was the only way to avoid the inevitable question of, "Why wasn't I invited?"

To those who may have asked: You weren't invited because the only people who attended were the ones who have been with us from the beginning: Our parents, grandparents, siblings and a few aunts and uncles - you know, people who have loved us since we were too little to say the word "wedding," let alone have one.

Which is, if you ask me, the way it should be.

There were other perks. We didn't have to labor over seating charts, memorize who's who in the crowd or write hundreds of thank-you cards afterward.

And then there was the cost. Despite the fact masses of people are right now pinching pennies, getting hitched the American way is still not cheap.

In fact, according to Wedding Report Inc., the average U.S. wedding includes 152 people and costs about $20,000. In Los Angeles, that cost rises to about $28,000. (A single bridesmaid, by the way, spends about
$1,000 attending a wedding, from dress to travel.)

Not that our wedding was dirt cheap (my mom wanted her daughter to have a "Wedding," after all, not a mere party); rather, it was just a little less extravagant. Simpler.

Furthermore, let's be realistic: Who needs a year to plan a party? I know it's the trend to spend that long agonizing over every little flower, ribbon and bow of the big day, but take it from us - it's not necessary.

Nobody needs that much notice. Believe it or not, asking people, "Hey, what are you doing in three weeks?" is actually easier than sending "save the date" notices for, say, June 12, 2013.

Sure, some places book early. But not all of them. We booked our venue two weeks before the wedding and, if you want to know, it wasn't a T.G.I. Friday's (though I do love their fried mozzarella).

As for the coveted wedding dress? Well, maybe Vera Wang needs six months to get you the perfect gown, but I ordered mine by overnight mail from J. Crew and it fit just perfectly.

Lastly, for two people with enough social anxiety to require small doses of Xanax before sizable social functions, having a small party meant Jacob and I didn't have to spend our whole night dutifully, anxiously, table-hopping. We spent it simply enjoying ourselves.

"By doing this so quickly, you have eliminated all the crap that befalls today's bride," said one of my good family friends (whose daughter just got married the traditional, yearlong way). "You have condensed one year of angst, anger, tears, fears and `I hate you, whose idea was this?' bickering sessions and gotten a jump start on your life together. Congratulations on that."

It's true. Because we opted to fast-forward things, we were spared a litany of wedding planning worries.

We didn't have to spend $1,000 on wedding invitations (we sent e-mails instead); we didn't have to outfit a half-dozen groomsmen and bridesmaids (we simply didn't have them); and we didn't attend convention-style battles of bands to find the perfect musical accompaniment (we asked a New Orleans street violinist to play our processional and a local trumpet player to play the party).

And, instead of paying thousands of dollars for a photographer and videographer, we asked Daily Breeze photographer (who is, by the way, every bit a wedding photographer) Sean Hiller to take our pictures and my Uncle John to take the video.

You might wonder, given all this, how our wedding turned out.

The answer is: Perfectly.

After all, we got married.

And really, that's all we wanted in the first place.

Melissa Heckscher is the author of six books including "Date Him or Dump Him? The No-Nonsense Relationship Quiz" (Quirk Books, 2005). She can be reached at

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's in a Name? posted this great article on changing your name after you get married, which I just had to share.

My last name when I got married was "McNamee", which no one can pronounce and no one can spell. Ever. My husband's last name is "Coopersmith" and I thought, Yes!, finally, an easy last name. Plus, I liked the idea of being part of this really cool, awesome family, and my parents had been long divorced (My Mom went back to her maiden name shortly after our wedding). Hyphenating was just ridiculous. But the funny thing is, my Father-in law got up and made a speech on my wedding day, warning me that no one was going to be able to spell my new last name, and no one was going to be able to pronounce it. And we all laughed. And he's been right. They turn "Coopersmith" into "Coppersmith" or think it's two words. Always. Bottom line - you can't win, so you might as well do what you want, you know?

Girl Talk: What’s In A Name?

Since I got engaged early last month and began planning a wedding for this summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be hitched. As someone who already lives with her husband-to-be, I wonder just how much marriage will actually change things, whether I’ll wake up the morning after the wedding feeling any different. I’ve also been thinking a lot about what kind of wife I want to be, what it means to be a “good” wife, and how — if at all — being a “good wife” could compromise my identity or personal needs and interests.

I don’t feel a pressing desire to “prove” to myself or anyone else that I won’t change, that I won’t compromise anything, because at some point I’m sure I will. (Isn’t compromise a big part marriage, after all?) But I’m also certain that while bits of my identity are bound to shift, just as I would expect them to with any big life change and new perspective, the core of who I am will remain the same. No new name, white dress, ring on my finger or any other traditional convention is going to change that. For better or worse, I am who I am and I’m pretty solid in my identity. So when I read a column in the Guardian recently by Abigail Gliddon, a woman who claims “when a woman takes her husband’s name, she surrenders her former identity and adopts his,” I wondered how she came to have such low expectations for other women.

Does she really believe that the identity of every woman is so thin, so flimsy, that a name change is going to completely dissolve it? Or is she merely justifying a personal decision she’d make if she were getting married and passing judgment on any bride who’d do it differently? “I will never become a Mrs,” Gliddon writes, “and I will never take my husband’s name. If pushed, I choose Ms, but otherwise I will always be me. First name. Surname.” Unwilling to believe any sane, modern woman would choose otherwise, Gliddon writes: “It startles me that so many women of my generation never question this bizarre ritual.” Because clearly, if you’re a woman getting married and decide to take your husband’s name, it’s only because you’re incapable of critical thought, unable to question tradition and decide what’s best for you.

Over on Broadsheet recently, Tracy Clark-Flory responded to the criticism feminist blogger, Jessica Valenti, received after announcing her engagement on her site Feministing, writing: “Conservatives and liberals, misogynists and feminists—we all seem to love (to radically differing degrees) to pass judgment about brides’ choices. Changing your name? Ohhh, you’re betraying feminism. Walking down the aisle alone? Your poor father. Wearing white? You’re bowing to the patriarchy.” And now Ms. Gliddon at the Guardian joins the chorus: “As soon as a woman signs the marriage register she assumes a new identity.” As if a woman’s identity is easily reduced to nothing but her name. I don’t know about her, but I’m definitely much more than a handful of letters and a few syllables.

For the record, I plan to keep my name when I marry, not because I’m making a political statement or that I’m worried about turning into a different person if I don’t, but simply because I happen to like it a lot. In fact, all the decisions I’m making regarding my wedding and my marriage express, get this, personal choice. Some might even say they express my identity. And why not? There’s a lot of it to express.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

David Letterman's Top Ten Reasons for Getting Married

Most of which should be universal rules, I think:

10. Poconos offers newlyweds free room with champagne-glass jacuzzi
9. If I'm going to catch Larry King, I'd better get going
8. Still drunk from St. Patty's, dude!
7. She needed a green card
6. When you're my age and look like I do, if someone says they'll marry you, you do it
5. Don't have to listen to any more crap from that quack Dr. Phil
4. I finally fit into my dream dress!
3. Free cake
2. Got tired of waiting for Paris Hilton
1. Figured at the least we'd get a mediocre Top Ten out of it

You can find the video on I mean, that's where I found it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Thow a Wedding for 100 guests on $10,000 or Die Trying

This is from a comment that I posted on the blog Cheap and Easy Wedding, written by a woman who, well, wants to throw a wedding for 100+ guests on 10k. It was late, which accounts for the ranty-like quality of my comment post, not to mention it's length:

Don't know if you've had a chance to look, but Target also has a nice selection of invites. Not this theme-specific, but cheaper, and you could make them more your style (ink color, font) and I did mention cheaper, right?
As far as sticking to your budget, here's the rule: half of your budget should be reserved for your reception, including rental and catering, and the other half is for everything else. So, you've got 5k to throw at your reception, take 1k off for rentals, decorations and the bar, so for say 100 people, that's $40 per person, which sounds like a lot, but it's not really. With the 9.25% tax that's hitting on 4/1, and the 15-20% service that's standard with caterers, it's actually closer to $28 per person. I know. It sucks. When you are talking to your caterer, GIVE THEM YOUR BUDGET AND STICK TO IT - ask what the best is that you can get for that price (or for even a few bucks lower than that), don't let them talk you into an upgrade. Cake will run you $5-7 per slice, see if you can get the cake cutting fee (another $3-5 per slice) waived by your caterer, or better yet, ask a brave friend to do it. Try Phoenix Bakery downtown, they're pretty good. Also Hansen's can be reasonable, surprisingly.
Bar - buy the alcohol/soda yourself, remember that you're going to be able to get 3-4 drinks out of a bottle, and think that each guest is going to have 2-3 drinks each. Make sure you can return unopened bottles, and that your bartender DOES NOT open a bottle unless they are going to pour from it.
Flowers: Never underestimate the power of flower petals and/or candles as centerpieces. Check with your venue for their candle rules. Keep the bouquets simple, ask what you can get for $15-20 per, or less.
Music: ipods were MADE for theme weddings. I just went to a house-warming where all they played was music from the 40s and 50s on their ipod. Make sure someone is around to monitor it, and has a list of the songs in order, just in case you want to switch to a particular one.
Uh, what else? Dresses? If you don't think you'll be overly attached to it, think about renting one. I know. One Night Affair in L.A. rents AND they also sell dresses that they've rented, which you could easily have one altered to fit your style. OR if you save enough money with everything else, there's a chance that you can have one made, but that's going to be 1-2k. You made me fall in love with Dita's dresses. That scoop neckline rules. Try Windsor fashions for bridesmaid dresses, they have some cute, inexpensive things that could work.
Stick to your budget, don't get discouraged, and remember that if someone tells you that it isn't possible, you just haven't found the person who will tell you that it is. If you have any questions, just email me -

Monday, March 16, 2009

Does anyone know how to get a hold of her? I would TOTALLY perform this wedding!

Because I've decided that my career as a minister should always involve a really, REALLY good story:

Kendra Can't Find Minister for Playboy Mansion Nuptials

One big problem for Kendra Wilkinson's Playboy Mansion wedding: finding a man of the cloth to come to the land of no clothes.

The former Girls Next Door star tells Celebuzz exclusively that she's working overtime to find the right minister willing to oversee her June 27 wedding to football star Hank Baskett.

"I'm getting stressed since I'm trying to find a minister to perform the ceremony at the Playboy Mansion," she says. "It might be the most stressful detail."

Indeed, it makes picking the invitation paper seem pretty small.

Kendra was coming off the heel of a minister-rejection when she spoke to us. We suggested having Hugh Hefner become a recognized marriage officiant for the wedding, but Kendra seems intent on the traditional route. And apparently ministers do not enter the single greatest temple of decadence easily.

"We're trying our hardest," Kendra says. "But it is the Playboy Mansion."

Naturally, having a wedding at the Mansion has its obvious perks: the stunning setting, the live animals, the grotto and the presence of Hef. But sometimes such perks have to be tempered.

Kendra tells us she has Hank's groomsmen in town taking a Get-Used-To-The-Mansion tour which will include meeting Hef.

"We want to get the ooh and ahhs over with before the wedding," says Kendra. "So they are not starstruck during the ceremony."

"We don't want them to be like, here's comes the bride, but look at the Playboy mansion."

Google Docs is a GREAT Wedding Tool

Right now, I'm helping my sister-in law with her wedding, and google docs is REALLY helping. I transferred her excel budget to an online google doc, so we're both able to look at it and edit, without having to email the form back in forth. So, no worry that you're not looking at the latest version of the budget, because whatever is online IS the latest version. You can invite other people to either edit or view the document, too.

I've used it before with other clients. Besides budgets, it's really good for putting together building a time line for the day, so you can show it to and get feedback from all of your vendors. And it's REALLY good for keeping track of your RSVPS. Basically, anything you can do wedding-wise through microsoft office, you can just put online through Google docs. Check it out -

Also, I'm re-initiating Wedding Wednesdays on the blog, starting THIS Wednesday, so stay tuned to find out more.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How to Get Married When You're in County Jail

A while back, I became an ordained minister online, just in case I was coordinating a wedding and the minister didn't show up. It's totally legal, I've only had to use it once before, like years back, and I've worked with a few couples whose friends have done the same thing so they could officiate at their weddings (Here endeth the defensive part of this post). I'm also a notary - diversification is a good thing, these days.

So, last Saturday, I get a phone call from a young woman, "Carine" who was looking for a notary, and had found my ad on craigslist. She and her boyfriend - who was in the L.A. County Jail downtown - wanted to get married before he was sent to prison at the end of the week. I told her what my notary rates were, and also mentioned that I could marry, them, too. Or, rather, instead, because I wasn't allowed to notarize their marriage license application and marry them, too. Conflict of interest, chance of fraud? Dunno.

Over the next few days, Carine and I worked out the details. And there were a LOT of details. I became very familiar with her fiance's case worker. A few days ago, Carine told me that she had a friend who's fiance was ALSO in prison, and they wanted to get married, too. I have never said that I lived a boring life...

What do you have to do to get married when your loved one is in County Jail?

1. First of all, I had to get a background check, which I'm happy to say I passed with flying colors. Couples under normal circumstances have to appear together at the county recorder's office in order to pick up their marriage license, which you can't do while you're in jail. So, you have to fill out an "affidavit of inability to appear" to apply for a confidential marriage license (no witnesses needed), which you, your fiancee AND your wedding officiant have to sign, and get the form notarized. We did that Thursday morning, which took about an hour total.

2. The form also made me the proxy for Carine's fiance, so I could pick up the license with Carine,and then again with her friend "Roxy". The licenses were $70 each. That took about another hour. 10:30am on a Thursday is a busy time for people trying to pick up marriage licenses!

3. Then the form has to be faxed back to the case worker at the County jail, who then calls the Recorder's office to verify that the licenses were authentic (!), at which point they would clear the men to have their wedding ceremonies.

4. THEN we had to go back to the jail and stand in line for visiting hours, along with hundreds of other women and children. It was a lot cleaner than I thought it was going to be. The officers were really nice. It was a little scary at first, but everyone seemed to be doing their best to stay out of trouble. As my husband pointed out, what with all the armed officers, and the cameras, jail was probably one of the safest places for me to be in the middle of Los Angeles. They even had a special play area for the kids.

It was interesting talking to Carine and Roxy, because these were just two men that they had fallen in love with, that made a couple of bad mistakes, but still loved and cared about them. Like any other bride, they loved their men through thick and thin, but as Roxy said, "I don't have any delusions. I know what I'm getting into." More than a lot of people, probably. Carine had caught on pretty quick that this wasn't something that I did every day, and asked me, "I bet you never thought you'd end up here, did you?" I looked around and shrugged, "Did you?" She laughed. "No," she said. But, like every couple out there, even the ones that aren't going through such extreme circumstances, they were going to take the chance. You just never know what life is going to throw at you, you know?

5. So, once "your" inmate's name is called, you go into a green room to see them. They're behind glass, just like in the movies, talking through telephones on either side of the glass. So, I performed two wedding ceremonies, passing the phone back and forth, which took about 5 minutes. Shortest part of the day, but then the ceremony always is! No kissing or touching, just a lot of big grins. Including mine.

Would I do it again? Sure. It was a long day, but at the end of the day, weddings are about uniting two people who want to be together, to help them get a little bit of happiness, without judging.