The Soapbox Archives:
As a Boston driver AND a Boston pedestrian, I understand how drivers feel when pedestrians go out of their way to demonstrate their power and dominance over the drivers. I always try to get across the street as quickly as possible because I know what it's like to be a driver at a green light while pedestrians cross against the light; I don't want to be the one who encounters the one guy with road rage and a vendetta against pedestrians. I'm not delusional about challenging a two-ton car against my right of way. Those particular pedestrians that night didn't know nor did they care if the person in the car might be trying to get to an important destination like a hospital.
Rather than criticizing such pedestrians for being selfish and self-centered, I want to appeal to their best self-interest.
The gas combustion engine on a car doesn't stop running during the time it takes for someone to get across a crosswalk. It's still cranking along and still spitting out pollutants for us to breathe in (not to mention wasting gas). Wouldn't it be a good idea to get across the crosswalk as fast as possible so the cars could move on and not be putting out more air pollution around you than necessary? Just sayin'. In addition to saving gas, it's one of the reasons for the "Right on Red" law: less air pollution from idling cars.
The White Heat Orchestra
Craig Ball's organization was the big band that was playing at the old Roxy nightclub in 1991 when I decided that I wanted to learn how to swing dance. It made sense that we would get him to play at our wedding. I was really surprised at how much less he charged than a certain popular dance band. While I know many of the bands that play in the swing dance community, no one else shows as much appreciation for this website as Craig Ball; I will never forget how he treated me when we got introduced for the first time. I was flattered when he announced that he felt it was an honor to play for us. The swing dancers stayed on the dance floor to the very end.
Stephanie G Jewelers
This small neighborhood jewelry store in Hopkinton spent a couple of hours helping us pick out a wedding band just for me. They were so incredibly nice and so incredibly patient. I asked them to resize my high school and college class rings, and they made a point of telling me that the major ring companies in that genre (e.g., Jostens) will resize class rings for free (at least once in your life). They're the kind of jewelry store that generate life-long customers. They didn't get that resizing work, but they gained a repeat customer.
Those of you who have attended the barbecue night at Beantown Camp will be familiar with the "tent" at Misselwood. It's a tent-like structure with chandeliers and a dance floor, so you can get married outside overlooking the ocean if the weather's nice and have a nearby Plan B if it rains. A few years ago when we went to the Monday barbecque, we looked around and said, "this would be a neat place for a wedding" and we both had lightbulbs go off over our heads. The cool thing is that if you book your wedding for the same year (before the next January 1st), it's *a lot* cheaper. If you book it on a Sunday, the price goes even lower. The only problem is that if you book it in the current year, most likely that means all the Saturdays are gone and there might only be a few Sundays left (I think there were only 5 Sundays left in the year).
The onsite event coordinators kept things going. Meghan, the inside coordinator shouted out to bridal party, "Let's get married!", when it was time to start the wedding. Dan, the outside coordinator kept everything running smoothly from the time I arrived until the time we closed the place. With clear skies with sailboats going by on the ocean and warm temperatures, it was a perfect scene out of a movie for a wedding. My Best Man said that when his kids (who are still kids) get married, he'll recommend Misselwood.
Lotus Floral Designs
Back in January or February, Denyce went to her favorite flower store in Southboro to get them to provide the floral arrangements for our wedding in September. They said to call back when it was closer to the wedding. In July, Denyce called them and they told her that they wouldn't do the wedding because it was too far and they had only one truck. Do you think they would have called back earlier to tell us that? We had to scramble around. One friend put out a call on their company bulletin board to ask for suggestions and their unanimous (sp?) concensus (sp?) was Lotus Floral Designs based in Bedford, New Hampshire. Lotus Floral Designs will drive two hours in any direction to cater a wedding or other event and Misselwood was just close enough. Owner Mary Tremblay met with us one early Sunday morning because we were up that way for another activity and she spent an hour going over all of our ideas and to give us ideas that we hadn't even considered. By the time we left, we felt relieved because that aspect of the wedding was going to be taken care of. Mary made us feel like we were doing her a favor by letting her do our wedding. She easily accommodated all of our last minute requests.
Alterations by Violette
We found Violette on the Internet where she had very good reviews. What was interesting was that she worked part of the week doing alterations at a nearby bridal shop so she knew her business. She did a good job on the project without having to implement all the structural changes we thought the dress needed. The place where Denyce bought her dress had wanted to cut off the arms on the dress to give her the freedom to dance.
I did a quick search on the Internet for the closest tuxedo places near my house and I checked out the first two. One was a owner-managed storefront a block from Moody Street in Waltham while the other was a branch of a fairly well-known mens clothes store. The two could not be more different. At FormalWear, Jim the owner is around most of the time to fit every guy who walks through the front door. As the owner, he makes up the rules and is flexible to fit everyone's situation, including a return slot for off-hours returns. There was a lot of availability in choices and we never felt like we were being rushed into a decision. Change in plans? No problem. I recommend this place.
This Connecticut-based photographer will travel for his work; he'll be in Florida for a gig a few days before the wedding. He did the job for Denyce's nephew's wedding and the guy appears to have "a genius eye" for great pictures.
Final review will depend on how we feel after getting the final pictures.
Ad-Mark Promotional Products
I went all over the Internet looking for a vendor that could make glass coasters that featured not only the usual name of the married couple and their wedding date, but also a custom graphic. Most of the places I checked provided only a limited set of graphics on those coasters. I wanted the Chinese character for "Wong" on the coaster. I even contacted a Chinese vendor who could only offer coasters with the character for "Love" or "Happiness". I finally found Ad-Mark Promotional Products in Oregon who made promotional products for companies. They normally make products with company logos on them so they could make what I wanted. They got the product to me *on time* as promised. Many thanks to Catherine Boger who suggested that I try them.
Almost last, but far from least is Creative Catering in Beverly. They do at least 80% or 90% of the weddings at Misselwood, probably because they started the wedding functions at Misselwood in the first place. They invited us up for a sample tasting of their wares on a Saturday afternoon as they were already preparing for another wedding that day (I knew people at that wedding) and we got to try out what they were making. And we didn't have to pay for it. And they gave us doggie bags to take home whatever we didn't finish. Bob the Chef there is an artist.
Gary, the business manager, did a great job of letting us know how the big day was going to transpire and gave us so much useful information; we should have started earlier because Gary would have helped us get so much done so much earlier. He understands that couples who are about to get married are totally overwhelmed, regardless of their age; he doesn't rush and he gives couples plenty of time to digest what he just said before moving on before moving to the next topic; he doesn't throw everything at you in short time. He wants your future business so he takes care of you from the beginning (interesting tidbit: he catered three different weddings...for the same bride). He showed up at our reception and personally directed the entire food choreography. How much do I recommend these guys? If you're planning a wedding, talk to Gary first and then figure out what venue will let this caterer in.
And wedding cakes? If you want Creative Catering to handle the cake, you get to go to a cake-tasting at Konditor Meister in Braintree (note, you can go to Konditor Meister independently). They have *19* different kinds of cakes you could use (we tried only 11; I had to stop eating because my body went into sugar overload). We got at least three different kinds of cakes in our wedding cake (the pumpkin cake was awesoooooommmeeee!). And they gave us little box of desserts to take with us when we left.
Everyone should get married once so they can go through this entire process. :-P
Just my two cents: if you hear that someone is getting married, I suggest not asking the recently engaged couple, "Am I invited?". We were lucky in that everyone who did ask that question was, indeed, invited. People planning a wedding are under a lot of stress and don't need the hassle of dealing with people who may or may not get an invitation. If you don't get invited, don't read anything into it. Weddings are expensive and couples will spend a lot of time agonizing about how to balance the cost against the number of people they want to be there.
Not quite as obnoxious but still annoying are the questions, "Oh, are you going to move (into your spouse's home)?" or "Are you going to be changing jobs?". Imagine your boss asking those questions; what kind of message is that? We were lucky no one asked if we were going to have kids.
As the comedian Craig Ferguson said in one of his Specials, before you say anything, ask yourself these three questions:
Useful warning: Some vendors for weddings gowns are very protective of their business and can be very vindictive with customers who get their alterations elsewhere. They may refuse to do a cleaning (that you'd pay for separately anyway) if you had the alterations done somewhere else; they may even give you grief about it in front of other customers, just to make an example out of you. I don't recommend lying about it because, somehow, they know.
If you want certain alterations done, don't settle for less. Denyce needed the arms of her dress loosened so she could dance in the dress. One seamstress wanted to cut the arms off the dress while another one just said "sure, no problem" for every request which meant she wasn't even listening. That's why we went to Violette
And finally, you can get a marriage license anywhere in the state if you get married in Massachusetts. It's just easier to remember where you got the marriage certificate if you get it the same town where you're getting married. However, we're going to be in Belmont for a while so it was more convenient to go there.