Monday, March 9, 2009

 

Sneak Peek

I've been wanting to write a blog post called "Designing the Wedding" but I haven't had time. Until then, check out Scott White's awesome illustration:



In case you don't know us too well, that's Robin and me in the picture. Also, in case you're not a nerd like me, the pic's a homage to Bill Sienkiewicz's cover to Elektra Assassin #4:



Don't feel bad if you didn't know that - right now Robin's reading this blog post and asking, "What's an Elektra?"

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Friday, February 20, 2009

 

In Praise of Zappos (and Twitter)

Robin's been stressing out a whole lot over the wedding and I keep offering to help and she keeps telling me I'd only make things worse (well, in a nice way). So I just keep blogging and working on paper and print stuff and let her do all of the important things. Today I get an email...

Subject: If you want to help with the wedding and are up for a challenge...

Text: I am trying to find a place to buy these shoes:



I found them on this website.

I emailed the woman (linked to her own website) and asked where she got them. She tells me Zappos. Well, they’re not on Zappos anymore. So I politely email her back and ask for the brand. No response. Now what? I’ve done some searches but no luck. I asked my sister – her shoe department can’t ID them. Think you can track them down?


Robin wants to wear these shoes when she walks the aisle so, you know, pretty important. I respond:

I will find them!


I used Twitter to see if any friends could help me track down these shoes. The always magnanimous Saul Colt offers to help. I know he has some contacts at Zappos and I get him on the case. Krissy, girlfriend of Chris Piers, one of the artists working on our wedding comic, offers to help. She searches high and low. And I tweet Zappos_Service to see if they know anything about the shoes.

All three leads seem to run dry.

Then out of nowhere I get two emails! One informing me that the cookware we had on our registry has been discontinued (frown!) and one informing me that Zappos_Service, this wonderful human being, has found the shoes on 6PM.com (cheer!).

Like a warrior back from the hunt, dragging woolly mammoth flesh behind me, I called Robin and said, "Zappos found your shoes." They were on sale, too - 63% off.

She's off the wall right now, to say the least.

And I can say I helped her plan the wedding. And this was all done over Twitter, 140-characters at a time. It's a good day, my friends. A good day.

PS: Shop Zappos!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

 

The House of Paine

When Robin and I started scouting around for reception locations we checked out The Barker Tavern in Scituate, the BU Castle in Boston, and Stonehurst, The Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham.



The Barker Tavern was a nice enough space but it felt too much like a hall to us. The one thing it really had going for it was that it was situated on a bay and had a lighthouse close by. Everything else was OK, but we certainly didn’t fall in love with the place.



Now I really liked the BU Castle. Robin and I both went to school at BU and we always talked about getting married at the Castle. The reception area itself was pretty small and the prices were all a bit out of our range but I was willing to cough up the extra dough to have the wedding at a place that actually meant something to both of us.



And then there was the Paine Estate. Stonehurst. We fell in love with that place the moment we laid eyes on it. The exterior was powerful and rustic, the main hall was everything we’ve ever wanted in a house, and all of the little side rooms had their own sense of charm and comfort. Stonehurst had one major thing going against it, however: its price tag was way out of our site fee budget.

But there were several bonuses that came with the site that allowed us to shave money elsewhere. The big money saver was the fact that we could bring in our own food and booze. Most sites we were looking at forced you to use a certain caterer and prices tended to start at $80 per person for the bare minimum. Forget cake and coffee and booze. We managed to look around and found an affordable caterer we like and now our food, booze, and dessert costs are close to half of what we expected to pay.

Another benefit of getting married at Stonehurst is that we don’t have to pay extra for a chapel – we get married at the site. We’ll be outdoors and in front of a beautiful dogwood tree. We save money on flowers, we save money on site fees, and, thanks to a Massachusetts law that lets anyone be a Justice of the Peace for a day for $25, we save money on the officiant as well.

And then there are the decoration and flowers necessary to make Stonehurst look aesthetically pleasing. You flipped through the pictures above – as you can see we’ll be saving money in that area, as well. Robin will talk more about that (that's a harpist article and a flower article she owes us, now).

So, yeah, our site fee was way out of budget. But it forced us to be frugal and imaginative with all of the other costs and now we’re at the point where we’re actually saving money by getting married in a place that’s flexible on everything. And the whole wedding’s going to have our own little creative spin on it, as well. I guess the take-away here is to look at the big picture. Sometimes putting more money down upfront will save you some bucks in the long wrong.

And that’s wedding planning recession style, right there.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

 

Please Don’t Stop The Music

Music! Music! Music! What’s a wedding without music?

First of all, we had a very difficult time picking out a DJ. It was nightmarish, honestly. It seems like wedding DJs, as a community, got really lazy and decided to establish the “Wedding Playlist” and stick to it. I guess enough people asked them to play the Cent, Five Cent, Ten Cent, Dollar song or AC/DC’s Shook Me All-Night Long and they all teamed-up and decided that’s what people want all the time.

That’s not what we want.

If Robin and I have been to your wedding, you’ll notice that in 50% of your pictures and 80% of your video you’ll see us dancing. We love to dance. We love to just get on the floor and shake our booties from start to finish. In our opinion, line dancing isn’t booty shaking. Neither is singing the words to some overplayed rock song while bobbing our heads. Dancing is dancing, and we want a DJ that’ll play songs that we will dance to all night. Having said that, we’re not going to play obscure hip-hop and trance all night, either. But I’ll get to that…

We emailed some DJs. One DJ sent us back this hilarious, five-page PDF about why he’s better than all of the other DJs that ever existed. Apparently, he’s awesome because he doesn’t drink at the party, doesn’t hit on the guests, doesn’t use props, doesn’t play hip-hop, doesn’t talk too much, doesn’t ignore the do-not-play list, and wears “classy” garments. That all sounds well and good…well, except the hip-hop thing since that’s my favorite music…but if you need to make a five page document that essentially says, “Hey, I’m normal,” than you’re actually kind of a tool. And “classy” garments, according to the pictures we saw, apparently consist of colored bow ties and a ruffled shirt. Nothing classy about that. Nothing at all.

We also went to see some DJs. One DJ was a gracious host, bought us a drink and everything, but to say he really didn’t get what we were going for is an understatement. One of his suggestions was that for our first dance Robin plays air guitar and sings Living on a Prayer. He also suggested we throw in some rock songs, like Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Going Take It, making it the first time I ever heard anyone suggest any Twisted Song as something people should actually dance to.

We tried going to message boards to figure out where we can find DJs that are trying to make it in the club or radio scene and are making some money on the side DJing weddings. No luck. Several people suggested we hook an iPod up to a speaker but that’s not much cheaper than hiring a DJ, has a much higher potential for failure, and doesn’t offer the benefit of having a living, breathing human being working the music that can read the crowd and give us what we want.

And then there was the DJ I wanted. djBC. Oh, djBC, how I love your funky mash-ups. But djBC doesn’t do weddings anymore so that one was out.

We finally settled on a guy that came highly recommended from several people who haven’t steered us wrong (yet) and we went with him. He’s worked the Paine Estate many times, he seems to have a pretty deep catalog, and we’re 90% sure that he’ll respect the Do Not Play list.

So, what can you expect for music?

We’ll have a harpist for the actual ceremony. Robin can give some details on that, if she feels like posting a follow-on piece, since she searched high-and-low for ceremony music and probably has some hints to share. I stayed away from that – I didn’t even know we had a harpist until after she was reserved.

For cocktail hour I’d probably expect a mix of jazz, soul, R&B, and maybe some of the more art rock like Radiohead or Postal Service or Tori Amos. I think this will be our chance to play some of the songs we really like but won’t work for the dancing.

For the ceremony we fully understand that songs people know are songs people dance to. We’re probably going to try to substitute some of the overplayed wedding songs with better equivalents. So, instead of The Twist you’ll get Sam Cooke’s Twisting the Night Away, and we won’t slow it down to Unchained Melody, we’ll slow it down to Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness. Everything else will be Motown classics, danceable hip-hop, some modern pop (but not teeny-bopper pop-rock like Jonas Bros or Kelly Clarkson), reggaeton, 80’s new wave, and, at Robin’s request and my desire to make my new bride happy, some New Kids on the Block. But don’t worry; we’ll counterbalance that with plenty of Michael Jackson. Robin will also want to play Justin Timberlake but I have no problem with that – JT is a sexy beast.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

 

The Registry is Live (or Wedding Planning Amidst a Global Recession)

We put a down payment on the hall, the caterer, the DJ, and the photographer and then two months later the country plunges into economic meltdown. You’d think waiting for ten years to get married would be the antithesis of bad timing but – yeesh!

We tightened our budget a bit, pushed the honeymoon back, and started finding ways to make the wedding easier for everyone’s weary pockets (including our own). It makes sense, after all – we’re inviting 100 people to our wedding and around 75% of them are probably coming from out of town. That’s already a pretty big commitment for people; we don’t want to make it any harder than it has to be. But never-the-less we had to register eventually and we now have live registries at Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon. We’re going to register at Macy’s, too.

Before I get into a lengthy blog post on the trials and tribulations of registering let me say that we just want you to come. Everyone should make that their first priority. Like I said, we’re keeping the guest list to a 100 people. We had to make some very painful decisions when it comes to first tier and second tier invitees and we really hope that everyone we invite can come up to Boston for what’s guaranteed to be a good weekend and a fun wedding on us. Ok, with that said…

We originally set up a registry at Target, figuring we could load it up with low-cost stuff, but the experience there left us cold. It was very impersonal and after we went through the store picking out the things we wanted we realized that we didn’t really want any of the stuff we registered for. Target’s good for getting things that you plan on replacing a couple of years down the line and that’s not what weddings are about. Weddings are about starting a new life and building a collection of stuff that the loving couple plan on keeping until they die (or at least the kind of stuff you can pawn for food if things get really bad).

So we went to Bed Bath & Beyond. We figured the 20% off coupons they routinely distribute in the Sunday paper would make it easier for folks who wanted to get us a wedding gift. We knew what we wanted – new pots, cutlery, bedding – all the routine stuff. When we sat down at the registry desk, however, the woman who was guiding us through the process (who was awesome, by the way) convinced us we should put some of the more keepsake-like items on our registry. The crystal and the picture frames and the high-quality glassware. We picked a whole bunch of things off their premium lists at first and then went home and took off some of the more ridiculous items like the $200 cheese plate and the $150 rose bowl. We like cheese and we like roses but…you know.

Then we set something up on Amazon. If it were up to me, the Amazon registry would be much longer and complete with things like the Deadwood complete season boxset and maybe some chrome truck nutz to hang off the back of my Matrix. But it’s not up to me so we stacked it with cook books, wine accessories, some electronics, and Wii Fit because, you know, I have to lose some weight.

We’re going to Macy’s to register but I imagine that registry would look a lot like the BB&B one. To be honest, our main motivation for going there is the fact that they give you free champagne to drink while you walk around the store. I like champagne. So does Robin.

And that’s the registry situation. Like I said, we just want you to come. But if you’d like to get us a wedding gift, please feel free to peruse our lists. And please, please, please take advantage of BB&B’s 20% off coupons. We can’t stress that enough. It’s partly the reason why we registered there so don’t let a great deal go to waste.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

 

Welcome to the Awesome Wedding Blog!

Hello everybody - glad you could stop by. If you're reading this, it means you received your Save The Date card and "Welcome to Boston" brochure and you're actually interested enough in attending our wedding that you not only stopped by the website but even decided to check out the blog. We don't have anything on this blog yet except for this "Welcome to the Awesome Wedding Blog" message but we plan on rectifying that in the weeks and months to come.

So what will you find here? Updates, most importantly. Anything and everything June 6th, 2009 related will be at least posted on this blog. Major things will be posted on the main site, as well. You're also going to find little stories and anecdotes about wedding planning, life in the Castoldi/Rodriguez world, and whatever else we want to talk about.

And I say "we" because Robin's going to update this blog, too. She's finally going to get over her fear of blogging. I sent her an invite. She hasn't accepted yet but she will. I even told her, "Look, Robin, there's nothing wrong with blogging. Trust me, I have ten of them." Feel free to encourage Robin to post every once-and-a-while in the comments section.

Anyway, let me end this somewhat boring introduction post with a couple of exclusive, behind-the-scene photos of Robin and I preparing the Save the Date packages. Seriously - have you ever seen anything more exciting?



ZOMG! Exclusives!

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