Monday, July 20, 2009

The Unabridged Bride: A Workshop

The Inaugural Unabridged Bride Workshop

Sarah, Liza, Marie, A Forgotten One, Moi, CJ, Ashley, Krista

OK, so first off, thanks for the kind words regarding my last post and my cake blow-up with The Candyman. Of course we kissed and made up and talked about our frustrations. If you read the last post, you could probably tell I was pretty frustrated. Indeed.

Here's the kick in pants. I could have avoided a good chunk of stress, frustration, WPM's (Wedding Planning Meltdowns) and pre-marital throw-downs if I'd had The Unabridged Bride: A Workshop under my belt. Seriously.

OK, so this was the inaugural workshop for the Unabridged Bride and I thought it was big bowl of fabulosity. The workshop was held on Thursday at CJ's Off the Square in the quaint historic town of Franklin, Tennessee, about 25 miles south of Nashville. It really is an awesome historic area.

The players in the workshop were Liza Hippler, bridal coach extraordinaire from Maiden to Married, CJ Dickson of Williamson County Weddings and Events and proprietor of CJ's Off the Square, Ashley King of Ashley's Bride Guide and Marie McKinney-Oates, of the Nashville Marriage Studio. The attendees ranged from weeks away from their wedding (yours truly), new-to-Nashville bride-to-be Sarah of local blog fame Sarah Elizabeth, and two others whose names are escaping me. HORRID! I know, but I swear I can't keep a thought in my head these days! Ladies, please forgive me!

We started off a little late, simply because we're a chatty bunch. Liza got the show on the road and talked about how most weddings are focused on The Day versus The Marriage. We did a really cool guided meditation bit that was all about wedding visions, expectations and the connection one has with their partner. I'm all about yoga and meditation and thought it was super-groovy. We discussed the values we want to be represented on our wedding day and to keep those values handy at stressful planning times. These are the values I wrote down:
  • Honor
  • Commitment
  • Relaxation
  • Celebration with The Candyman
  • Stylish Simplicity
  • Closest Friends and Family
I'm not sure if those are all values or not, but it's what I wrote down. After the workshop, I included Pledge of Community Support as well.

Next up was Ashley and she hit on the Budget topic. She had great personal input and fabulous ideas! For her own wedding, they budgeted a particular amount of people to be invited. They allotted a certain number in their head-count (to include all family and their friends) and then distributed equal amounts to each side of the family. If someone wanted to go over their number, they had to write the couple a check for the per person cost. I thought it was a fabulous idea! Of course, all of that was pre-arranged and discussed prior to the start of the planning process. She was adamant about that.

Now CJ is just fabulous in my book. This lady has got it going on. I told her I wanted to get a bottle of wine and sit down and just let her talk. I'm guessing as a planner and venue proprietor that she's got some incredible wedding stories. Right? Anyway, there were two key elements that stuck out for me with her. First, she talked about how so many brides are "tortured by tradition."

"But I have to have equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen!"
"But the groom's parents are supposed to pay for that!"
"Inner envelopes are a must! "

Who the hell says so? The Knot? Martha Stewart? Your mother? Forget it all. There are no rules and it is way OK to be different.

Second, was wedding elements that are "socially constructed." So many things that we socially construct around our weddings can be changed easily. For instance, The Candyman and I are not have a rehearsal dinner. We are having a rehearsal "gathering" at Aloft Hotel. We are having an early rehearsal, setting everyone free for dinner and The Candyman and I are going to have a private, intimate dinner alone. We'll meet all of our friends, families and out of town guests at Aloft for socializing afterward. I think it will be awesome to have the down time with The Candyman and it will make it easier to talk to everyone at Aloft versus a sit down dinner. People are coming from far and wide and I want to make sure I get quality talk-time with everyone!

CJ avoiding the camera and Ashley, listening intently.

After CJ, Marie McKinney-Oates shared some great tips about how to be The Best Wife Ever: Five Behaviors of An Amazing Wife!
  • Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
  • Do "you." Being true to who you are.
  • Know your buttons.
  • Treat your marriage like a sanctuary.
  • Let him know you enjoy sex with him.
One of the best and most true things Marie said that night was, "Marriage is a mirror being held up to you." I can't agree more with this.

Last, but certainly not least, was Liza's hubby, Tom! He did a quickie review of life insurance and the importance of it. OK, Tom was such a charismatic force. Never in my life did I find life insurance so freaking exciting. He was funny, charming and most importantly, informative. Totally need to hear more. Seriously, it was that good.

Liza's insurance selling hubby! He's awesome!

We even got to take home some mini-floral arrangements by Petals by RJS! I totally snagged the bud vase that matches the ones I bought at Target!

Driving home that night I really thought a lot about the information and stories shared from everyone. I truly wish that I had heard all this seven months ago when The Candyman and I got engaged. I really think it would have saved me a lot of WPM's and been less tortuous for The Candyman.

Hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully it's not too late for others! Learn from The Thirty-Something Bride's mistakes! I make so many, it's hard to choose from, I know.

Thanks again to everyone who put this shindig together. It was a lot of fun and truly a gift!


  1. Totally awesome review of an even more awesome event. I agree with what you're saying: EVERY BRIDE NEEDS TO ATTEND THIS! It will seriously change your outlook during the whole planning process. Mr. SE and I had our 1 hour wedding talk on Sunday over drinks at Starbucks. Okay- so I squeezed in more than an hour over the past few days...

  2. Sounds like a great workshop! Something like that would be great for the seventh-inning stretch in a marriage, too!

  3. Louise! This is Krista! The blonde forgotten lady in the photo above! :) Just stopping by to check out your blog and get some ideas for my future bridal blog...I have all kinds of things to start blogging about because...I'm officially engaged! He popped the question on Saturday!

    Anyway, I agree with your comments. This was a wonderful workshop. Ashley, CJ, Liza and Marie were amazing panelists with great insight and advice. It was great to meet you and hope our paths cross again soon. Best of luck with everything!