the details part four: guestbook

So. The guestbook. We didn’t have one in the traditional sense. But we also did have one! We did and we didn’t! At the same time! Oh, my god. I think a seam in the universe was ripped.

We knew from the start that we didn’t want a book that people simply wrote in. I just couldn’t really see our future selves ever bothering to pour a big glass of wine, pull that kind of guestbook down off the shelf, and snuggle up for a night of reminiscing over our guests’ signatures. Because even if they DID write a personal note next to their names, I knew that 9 times out of 10 it would be something generic like “Congratulations!” I knew that because I’ve been that guest. I mean, come on. You just walked into the reception. You may or may not have already been handed a drink. You’ve spotted someone you haven’t seen in a while over in the corner. You’re on the spot. What are you going to do? Scrawl the first thing that comes to mind and flee. Like I said: I’ve been that guest before.

So we didn’t want a regular guestbook. We wanted a creative guestbook. Which: sounds easy, right? Like maybe I’ll just go to Amazon, conduct a search for “creative guestbook,” and toss that thing in my virtual cart. DONE, right? Except not so much. For months, I was stumped. Months and months. I was crazy about Bowie Bride’s Mad Lib guestbook, but at just a couple of weeks before the wedding my brain was starting to disintegrate, and the thought of coming up with a storyline and printing out the sheets of paper was too much to deal with. And I probably would have just copied Mouse’s idea for a wish tree (sorry, Mouse) and used that as our guestbook if I’d heard about it before our wedding, but… I didn’t. All of a sudden my indecision was catching up with me and I was getting desperate. I just wanted to figure it out already, dammit.

And then, just like that, the beau had an idea. An idea that incorporated our desire for a photobooth with our need for a “alternative” guestbook: why not get an instant camera and let the guests take photos of themselves and sign them? Hmmm. Why not, indeed?

Once we had ironed out the details and addressed some questions (how will we make sure guests know what to do, how do we make sure guests don’t waste all the film before everyone has their turn, and so on), we researched and bought the Fujifilm Instax 210. We settled on it mainly because 1) the prints featured a large white border upon which guests could write, and 2) it was one of the cheapest instant camera options. We paid almost $200 for the camera and additional packs of film on Wal-mart’s website. I am not normally the hugest fan of Wal-mart but it was the best deal we could find, and besides, weddings are anything but normal. And at that point in the planning process I could barely hear myself think over my coping mantra, which went something like I DON’T CARE WHAT IT IS OR WHERE OR HOW WE GET IT AS LONG AS IT’S DONE.

Here’s a list of the supplies we gathered for the setup:

  • The camera, extra packs of film, and extra batteries.
  • Archival pens and archival notecards, in case someone felt inspired to write something that required more space than the border of a photo.
  • A sign explaining the situation. Read the full text of the sign here.
  • Props: a mullet wig, a cowboy hat, a giant sombrero, a paper umbrella, a plastic flower lei, and three pairs of cheap aviator sunglasses. We got some props from a friend, the sombrero for $5 at a thrift store, the aviator sunglasses for $9 on Amazon, and we already had the mullet wig and lei.
  • A container in which to store the props, which ended up being a small antique suitcase that we borrowed from a friend.
  • A container in which guests could drop their photos and notecards, which ended up being a retro bowling bag that we borrowed from a friend.
  • Labels so that everything was clear.

So. How did it turn out? I’ll let you see for yourself:

The sign that explained to guests what to do.
The prop box also held the camera and extra film.
The bowling bag where guests could drop off their photos.
Another shot of the prop box and table.

And here are some shots of what happened when the guests got their hands on these things.

Sombrero city.
The beau’s mom rocked several props at once!
Gettin’ it all SET UP.

Umbrella mullet time!

Things that worked about this guestbook:

  • We got to see photographic evidence of our guests having fun when we weren’t around.
  • Guests were enthusiastic about the process and had fun.
  • People actually used the props. Like, REALLY used them. A lot.
  • Guests actually used the props when they weren’t even taking pictures. Especially when it was later at night. And they had been drinking. Kind of like this:
Hint: this is not his real hair. You probably feel a little bit better inside, yes?

BUT. There were also things that didn’t work so well about this guestbook:

  • Not everybody participated. Nearly everybody did, but my side of the family in particular were standing in a clump at the opposite end of the courtyard, and I didn’t have the presence of mind at the time to encourage them to go over and make sure they “signed” the guestbook. Yeah. Hardly a travesty, but I could have handled it better. I could have perhaps had the DJ make an announcement or something, you know?
  • Maybe it’s because the sign urged them to conserve film so that everyone got a chance to have their photo taken, but we put like six 20-packs of film out — the equivalent of 120 prints for about 95 guests — and we got half of them back. People really took that note to heart, I guess. Here’s where I wish, again, that I would have handled it better. I wish I would have thought to check in on the amount of film we had left later in the night and encourage our friends to use it up. Think of the photos we could have gotten!
  • The notecards we put out were pointless. We got maybe a grand total of three back. Everyone wanted to write on the photos themselves. Which leads us to the biggest drawback about our guestbook…
  • The pens. The pens. We went and got archival pens so that the writing on the photos wouldn’t fade over time, so that we could tuck our guestbook photos away in an archival album and have them forever. And these particular pens? They did not like the glossy surface of the prints. Instead of preserving the writing for years to come, this ink immediately smudged and made the writing illegible. See?
The beau’s parents represent… something.
My adorable aunt wore that cowboy hat well. Her words, however, did not turn out so well.
It’s not a wedding until someone takes his shirt off and starts wearing his girlfriend’s purse. I sense that the diagrams at bottom could be instructional and enlightening if only I could make them out…

Oh, my heart aches whenever I pull these photos out and see the ink smeared all over the place. Why didn’t we test the pens? Why didn’t I just know that type of pen would smudge on a glossy surface? I mean, did know. I have a fucking art degree. I have worked with ink on various surfaces before. But I didn’t think about it. I had wedding brain. Feverish, horrid, scrambled-eggs wedding brain.

The pens are my biggest, baddest regret from the wedding. Still, I’m glad we did our guestbook this way. Even if not everyone had their photo taken, and even if we have no clue what they inscribed to us at the time, we now have photographic evidence that our guests are total goofy nutballs.

But I guess I already knew that, or I wouldn’t have invited them.

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Photos 1-3, 5, 6, and 10 by Christina Richards. Photos 4, 7-9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Last three photos by our guests!

zomg giveaway: winner!

Hey guys!

Well, thirteen of you said you were interested in the metallic frames I used for my wedding. Sadly, only one of you can have them, unless I were to divide the seven frames evenly into thirteen pieces, which wouldn’t do anyone a lick of good.

Happily, though, there is one winner of said metallic frames, and that winner is Jess of Technicolor Wedding!

Random.org told me so. See?

Jess, I’ll be emailing you! I hope you trust me with your mailing address! Ahhhhahahahahaha! Oh.

Thank you for playing.

the details, part three: photo line

At some point during the planning process we decided to — get this — take photographs of ourselves from youth to present day and clip them to a string like laundry on a clothesline. It would be like our version of a projected slideshow, you see? Except using real photos! And in a fashion sort of reminiscent of your grandmother’s backyard!1

What’s that, you say? What? Huh? You’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else? Yes, I know. The beau and I are the originators of this photo line idea. We really should have started our own style blog; we’d most certainly be independently wealthy by now.

At one end of the reception courtyard we had this… structure. It was like a small pergola, just chillin’ off by itself. We briefly considered putting a table under it and then setting our desserts on top of the table, but we decided it wouldn’t make much sense to place the desserts in some kind of awkward wasteland on the opposite side of the dance floor, away from the rest of the food. So we decided to use the pergola to display our pictures instead.

On the morning of the wedding the beau got up and went over to the venue and wound some twine around the outer posts, then used miniature clothespins to clip the photos on the twine. I was initially concerned that the photos would blow away in a stiff breeze, but the flimsy little clothespins held fast during the whole day.

I would have helped him set up, but I was too busy getting my hair done and drinking mimosas during that time. Thank you, I appreciate your condolences.

The beau then topped off the look by hanging some fabric bunting above the photo lines. That’s right, I said fabric bunting. I commissioned my brigadier to make it for us, and it’s gorgeous. It’s only a matter of time before the wedding design mavens and home fashion gurus swoop in to copy this shit and paste it all over the place. And I’ll be busy laughing gaily and burying myself up to my neck in my millions, just like a grinning Scrooge McDuck going for a swim in his pool of gold coins. YEAH. JUST LIKE THAT.

Oh. What? Sorry.

The end result seemed to come together pretty well. I’ll let you judge for yourself:

Note: I love this picture of my parents.

 

Annnnnd one last neat one of our friends checking out the photo line whilst I loom like a blurry specter in the foreground:

All right. That’s that.

Did/will you put up photos at your wedding?

All photos by Christina Richards, except for the last one by Aaron Rosenblatt.

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1 My grandmother still puts her laundry out on the line to dry. Underwear and all. My other grandmother, before she departed this rock, used to use an old-fashioned open-top electric washer that would agitate grimy water all over the floor before making you feed the clothes through a hand-operated wringer and hang them on the line. I used to help with this chore when I was a kid, and I loved doing it because it enabled me to pretend I was acting out a scene from Little House on the Prairie, if I simply ignored the part with the electric agitation. A few years before she died, my father broke down and bought her a brand-new washer and dryer set, and she was happy as a clam.

zomg giveaway!

Sort of.

Do you remember the metallic frames from the last post? We used them to display our guest seating lists.

Some fun facts about them:

  • There are five brushed silver ones
  • There are two matte black ones
  • They are size 8.5×11″
  • They can be oriented vertically OR horizontally
  • They have those flaps in the back you can use to stand them up
  • They are free
  • I like popsicles
  • Don’t you like popsicles?
  • I am also fond of squirrels

Listen, guys. In my post-wedding fit of GET EVERYTHING WEDDING-RELATED OUT OF THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW, I nearly just handed these over to Goodwill. But something stopped me. I mean, they are fairly decent frames, and in good condition. What if someone else could use them? What if… what if one of YOU needed to use them for your wedding?

I realize this is not the coolest giveaway in the history of forever, and I also realize that these are not the most vital of items to give away. But I figure that if I can help someone cross something off of her wedding to-do list, why not do that? We’re all kind of in this together, after all.

So here’s the deal. If you are remotely interested in using these things, leave me a comment with your email address [EDIT: If you make sure to put your email address in the comment form, I’ll get it. If you put a direct link to your email in the comment body, bots could discover it and start spamming you, and I don’t want that for any of youse guys]. A week from now, on December 10, I’ll use one of the random number generator things (given that more than one person responds) to select a winner. Then, I’ll mail that person a box with the frames inside.

Terms and conditions may apply: The only condition I have is that you live in the continental United States. Since I am paying for shipping, I don’t want to have to take out a small loan.

The closing sale: Think of the things you can do with them! You can use them for the wedding! For the home! For the garden! You can glue glitter on the outside! You can melt them down for scrap! You can fill them with pictures of your exes and then place them strategically around the house and see how long it takes your partner to notice, and then when he or she angrily confronts you you can be all like, “HA HA APRIL FOOLS’!” And he or she will be like, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, IT IS ONLY DECEMBER,” and you’ll be like, “WHATEVER, YOU ARE SO FACT-DRIVEN.”

If I post some artsy-looking shallow-focus photos, you might like them more:

 

And just so you know, I didn’t forget about the black frames:

 

Impressive, no?

So what do you say? Any takers?

the details, part two: signs… of the times

Three weeks before the wedding, I suddenly turned to the beau and exclaimed: “Oh, shit! We’re gonna need signs and stuff!”

The beau looked at me. “Shit,” he said.

True dat.

We needed signs. A food menu sign. A bar menu sign. Signs for the table seating charts. Signs for the dessert table. Table name signs. Signs for the guestbook table. And so on.

Now, here’s where I developed a condition that could only be retroactively diagnosed as General Anxiety Regarding Prettiness and Details and Logistics Disorder (GARPDLD).1 How big did the signs need to be? Should they all maintain a similar look and feel? What should that look and feel be? Chalkboard or print? How to frame them? Huh? Huh? Oh god we are going to pick the wrong thing and we are all going to die and the wedding will be ruined.

We had a tense moment one afternoon when I pulled all our empty frames2 out of the closets and laid them in the middle of the living room floor and proceeded to talk at considerable length with the beau about what he thought of using them for the wedding. Sample conversation:

Me: “So what do you THINK?”
Beau: “I don’t know! They are all fine. I don’t really care.”
Me: “… but how do you FEEL about them?”

I finally decided, with very little help from the beau thank you very much, that no, these wouldn’t do at all. So then we went on a tense trip to Aaron Brothers to look at their frames, but they were all too expensive and confusing. Needless to say, things were getting… tense.

Then, something snapped. I must have inadvertently swallowed a chill pill or eaten some kind of magic wedding mushroom that caused me to just not care anymore. I decided — BAM! — we’d use chalkboards for the menus and as one of the guestbook props.3 I decided — BAM! — we’d go out and find plain and inexpensive photo frames in which to put the guest seating lists. I decided — BAM! — something else. I don’t entirely remember that period of time anymore. I probably decided to have a drink. Yes, that must have been it.

For the bar menu sign, I salvaged a large (roughly 16×20″) pale greenish frame from an old painting the beau’s parents had given us. For the guestbook prop, I dug out an 8×10″ ugly gold ornate monstrosity I’d found abandoned on the sidewalk down our block, and spray painted it a nice turquoise for no reason other than that was the color of available spray paint that I liked best. Then, for the dinner buffet menu, we found a 12×18″  black wooden frame in a thrift store for $3. We ripped out the fine artwork — a thoughtfully illustrated poem dedicated to an outhouse — it contained, and threw it away. I know. I don’t know what we were thinking, either.

Having carefully measured the interior dimensions of the frames, we went to our local hardware store and had them cut pieces of 1/8″ masonite down to size. Then we covered the masonite in a few coats of chalkboard paint, and stapled them inside the frames. Here they are, put to good use:

My brigadier was the one who kindly wrote out the bar and dinner menus out on the chalkboards. Here’s a bonus shot by one of our guests of (part of) the menu sign in action:

As for the guest seating, we went so far as to assign them tables, but not specific seats. We found some 8.5×11 metallic diploma frames on sale at Target, which ended up working really well, because all we had to do was print out the seating list for each table on letter-sized paper and slap it inside a frame. The ones we sorta liked were a brushed silver color, but Target tragically did not have enough of them in stock. So we got two extra black ones, because we just. Did. Not. Want. To. Think. Anymore. These frames really didn’t go with anything else in the wedding, but if you’ll recall my special magic wedding mushrooms, I was past the point of caring. Metallic! Wood! Antique! Modern! Black! Silver! Turquoise! Whatever! Hell, let’s do it all!

Here’s a shot of a table with many of the aforementioned signs at work during the wedding. Over to the left you can kind of make out the metallic frames in question. We ended up only needing to use one black frame, so we put our head table seating list inside of it, so that everyone would know we were Very Special Indeed.

The last thing I did, quite literally two days before the wedding, was make the table name signs and the other assorted labels that we needed. At first I waffled a bit on the table name signs, thinking that we needed to buy mini chalkboards to “go” with our bigger chalkboards. But then another part of my brain said: gurrrrl, pshhht. It was a fair point. So we got some basic metal card holders to display the printed table names instead.

For the sake of ease, I made it so that the table names were half the size of a standard letter-sized sheet of paper (5.5×8.5″), and that the dessert signs were half the size of the table names (4.25×5.5″). I fretted briefly over how to display the dessert signs, but then the beau said, “Why don’t we just print them on cardstock, fold them in half, and stand them up like little tents?” Brilliant, beau. I knew there was a reason I was marrying you.

So it was fairly simple. I used a variety of the same fonts we used on our invitations, we had a copy shop print them on cardstock and trim them, and then we folded the labels over like tents. Done. See, look:

We had a multitude — dare I say a plethora — of various desserts, so we needed signs for them so that people would know what they were getting into. Unfortunately, we don’t have many pictures of them in use, so I guess you can use your imagination for the rest of them (Hint: they look just like the above! Except with different names and in different fonts!). In think they’re kind of cute for being half-assed. Then again I think a lot of it is because Christina Richards is an awesome photographer.

And here are our table name signs, replete with holders:

For those of you wondering just what the hell “Arcade Fire” is about, we decided to name our tables after bands we like who we’d seen play live. This is a great idea in theory, but a poor idea in execution. Really, it would have made more sense if we’d put in the show date and venue in smaller type below the band name. In fact, that’s what I’d originally intended to do, but when I went to make these signs I just completely forgot. My brain was scrambled eggs by this point. Like, old rubbery scrambled eggs that have been left in the pan too long and now they kind of have that weird skin. Yeah.

That’s it, kids. I’ll be back later with MOAR.

All photos by Christina Richards, except for the third one by Aaron Rosenblatt, and the fourth one by a guest.

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1 It was, how shall I say, a recurring condition throughout the wedding planning process.

2 Yes, I have this problem where I buy frames I love on sale and then never put anything in them.

3 More to come on that later.