Friend vs.Fiance

 

My husband is the greatest person in the world and still not everyone likes him. Hard to believe, right? Fortunately for me, all of my friends recognize his positive qualities and vice verse. Although that seems rather inconsequential, it is actually quite monumental and something I do not take lightly. I am blessed.

 

Oddly enough, this happens more often than you can imagine. Even more odd is the fact that it is usually the maid of honor or the best man,  so it is not just a friend it is your best friend, your BFF, your childhood chum or the keeper of your secrets  that cannot seem to be in the same room with your betrothed without a fight breaking out.

 

So what do you do when your friend and fiance do not get along? Can you ask her (or him) to be a part of a wedding they do not endorse? How do you avoid getting in the middle of their seemingly endless arguments about nothing? More importantly how do you avoid having  mugshots as your weddings photos?

 

1) Talk it out. Find a time when you can sit down with each of them apart and ask point blank if there is any reason for the disharmony. Be prepared to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Worst case scenario – she thinks he is cheating or he thinks she is stealing from your bank account…. I said worst-case didn’t I? Imagine the worst and hope for the best. If there is no concrete reason, ask each one to give the other a second chance. They may have gotten off to a rocky start but the fence can sometimes be mended.

 

2) Work it out. Find an activity that you like to do and invite each of them. Movie, sporting event, anything where you can avoid the tension…. how about a game of laser tag? Getting them to have fun together might just make them see  how wrong they have been and they might be willing to make a fresh start.

 

3) Be sensitive. Perhaps your friend is simply tired of being the third wheel and has no interest in attending all sorts of couples functions with you (as a couple). Try to keep your friend from feeling the pangs of jealousy by spending alone time and not insisting that they always be in tow. If that friend is in a relationship, work on a group relationship. Be prepared if your fiance and his or her partner don’t become besties …you are just looking for an occasional double date and a way to take the edge off.

 

If you have tried and tried but they continue to put you in the middle, you will have to make a difficult decision. The fact is that if you fully intend to marry the person of whom your friend so strongly disapproves, you will be fighting this battle for the rest of your life. The polite thing to do is to to explain to the friend that he/she cannot be in your wedding because there is too much turmoil  between her and your fiance. “While you are my best friend, I cannot endure any more tug of war between you & ______. So I am asking you to remain my  friend in life and  a guest at my wedding.” The other option is to bury your head in the sand through the entire wedding process and ignore the squabbles.

 

If your friend is offended by the mere suggestion that he or she opt out of standing up for your wedding, gently remind them that attendants are supposed to serve not only as witnesses, but uphold and support this marriage. If you are the friend in this case, why would you even want to be a part of something you don’t condone?

 

This entire discussion could quite possible put an early end to your friendship but it will also ease a lot of suffering for everyone. Realistically,  as time passes and your marriage grows stronger, your friendship will dissolve on it’s own.

 

On the other hand, as time does pass, people change. It is not a bad idea to keep an open mind but, for God’s sake -don’t torture yourself by putting yourself in the middle for too long.  NEVER complain to an unsupportive friend about a  future spouse that they don’t like to begin with – it is a recipe for disaster and confrontation.

 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Reviewing the Reviews – How to Really Pick Your Wedding Professionals

As hard as it may seem to believe,  a lot of companies get their online reviews from within. If you have read this blog before, you know that I am the ultimate skeptic and that an online review to me means about as much to me as the paper on which I will never print it. In this case, my skepticism pays off.  A September report by the Pew Research Institute indicates that 58% of consumers purchase goods and services from the internet based in their online reviews. This was right about the same time the New York Times uncovered the truth about online reviews, exposing several companies who admitted to reviewing themselves repeatedly. Oddly enough one such company actual gave their company scathing reviews in order to improve their Google search results, and it worked.

As hard as it seems,  fake online reviews have gotten so out of control that the government is about to step in and figure out how to handle this growing problem. Until then, here are some guidelines to help you figure out how to spot a fake review when selecting professionals to service your wedding:

Name – Including the first and last name of the reviewer are not a guarantee that it is an actual person but, it greatly increases the odds. Generally online names like Bob234 are either automated programs or insiders trying to hide their identity. More information about the reviewer means more credibility.  Also check to see if this one name has several reviews on the same site or on other sites. Multiple postings is a sign that something is not right.

Date and Number – Check to see if there are swarms of reviews around the same date and for the same product or service. Clever marketers hire people to do product reviews based on a number of things like seasonal purchasing and promotional dates. 

Description – A description that sounds too good to be true probably is. Glowing recommendations are fine but, sometimes they go a bit too far and seem (what’s the word?) … phony. Also be careful of descriptions that are too technical to be from an average consumer point of view, they are probably not.

Links – If there is a link in the review, it is a fake. It is being used to drive you back to the original site.

Negative – Be careful of a negative review even if it seems legitimate since disgruntled ex-employees are notorious for going online; ranting and raving within the confines of a pseudonym. You could be passing up the best bridal salon in Chicago based on a sketchy review you read online.

When in doubt, check it out. The best and only reliable way to ensure that your wedding vendors are A+ or D- is to do your own research. Meet face-to-face  with each and every vendor and when you do, ask them for referrals. Ask for samples or examples of their work. Call previous customers who have used this service and find out firsthand about their experience. If you want to take it a step further, ask if you can attend one of their events and then you can decide for yourself.  When it comes to your wedding, you only have one shot to make it right and leaving your decision-making to reviews posted online is risky, at best.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Reply Card Roulette

 Unlike some future grooms, my husband helped with a lot of the wedding planning. He picked the menu, the cake, the venue and he singelhandedly documented receipt of the reply cards. Every day he hurried to he mailbox to collect the replies and took great delight in making the necessary notations on the master list. I could tell when the cards began to dwindle because he started to walk a little slower to the mailbox. For us, the reply cards were an exhilarating experience, and eventually an exhausting one, since not everyone replied in a timely manner, replied appropriately or replied at all. Believe it or not, the reply card is fraught with  places for guests to make errors and faux pas and for some reason, this is where guests make the majority of blunders. Your part is simple: You address the invitation to the person(s) you are inviting and make sure that you have a place on the reply card for the number of invited guests. So, what do you do when it all goes awry despite your best plans and intentions?

-When you sent a reply card that is obviously intended for the invited guest +1 and the invited guest returns the card, adding +2 or more without having previously discussed this with you, including adding their own children without your approval or acceptance of the idea, it is time to pick up the phone. Simply tell the guest that their invitation is intended for them and one guest only and leave it at that. There are exceptions but, those exceptions are totally up to you. What if they show up with the +2 or more, anyway…? You have to be prepared how to handle this, just in case.

-When you have received no reply card and it’s one week before the wedding? Time to pick up the phone and make a call to this guest and ask if they will be attending. Be specific about the reason you are calling; so you can ensure all of your guests have a place to sit and a proper meal.

As for those who reply, “YES” and then don’t show, there must be a very good reason. Of course you don’t expect  someone with a serious illness or broken leg to jump out of a hospital bed to attend your wedding but, wait until after the wedding to then call and see if they are doing better. Don’t wait for them to call you, they won’t.  They will probably feel you are too busy to talk and will wait for action on your part. This is not a snub or lack of concern, and this is one of those tiny little things that can ruin a lifelong friendship. Pick up the phone, call and see what happened. You are the only person who can decide if their reason for being a no-show was adequate.

-What if the reply is “NO” and they show up anyway? This is tricky. Speak to someone at the venue and see if there is a place they can be seated (there is usually some wiggle room) Of course they won’t have an assigned table or a place card or a favor but, they will be able to sit and that is all that matters. If there really is no room, you will have to be the one to deliver the news as gently as possible. I know firsthand how difficult this can be, I actually had a couple show up after having replied “NO” and there were no additional seats available anywhere in the room. Our solution was to ask them to sit at the bar and we paid  ‘a la carte’ for two additional meals. Tricky but not unmanageable.

There may be no single solution that works for everyone but, planning ahead will avoid hurt feelings and possible blowups. Consider posting information regarding seating on your wedding website if you have one, emailing people who you think may be having trouble with the reply card concept and possibly having specific instructions printed on the reply card. Some couples have resorted to adding “We have reserved ___ seats for you”  (or similar text) to the reply card. In my opinion, keep it simple and limit the possiblities of error. Although going above and beyond is a nice gesture,  I doubt if some people will even notice.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

Pre-Nuptial Agreements (& Arguments)

You’ve seen it in the movies, you hear it on the news and celebrity marriages wouldn’t exist without it – the all too familiar scene: One party or the other shows up weeks, days or minutes before the wedding ceremony  with a pre-nuptial agreement that needs a signature before the wedding will take place. WOW. That’s really harsh, right?   Yes, and no. In my humble opinion, marital contracts can be very important but not when handled this way.

 The Pre-Nuptial agreement has been around for a very long time.  It is a contract  entered into prior to marriage , civil union or any other agreement prior to the main agreement by the people intending to marry or contract with each other to divide or protect personal assets in case of divorce or separation.

There are many times when  a pre-nup is needed. When there are vast differences in economics, large family fortunes at stake and when there are two people coming into a marriage with extreme differences in earning or earning potential. As much as protecting the party who enters into the marriage with the vast sums of money, the pre-nup is also designed to provide for the other spouse. I could give you a million examples but, the bottom line is that if executed properly, the pre-nup is signed, put away and never thought of again. In some rare (odd) cases, the pre-nup actually places physical requirements on one party as a means of keeping the agreement valid. Here is one example of what I consider to be supremely weird: The pre-nup of a very wealthy man to a less fortunate woman requires that she stay a certain weight, remain drug-free and not have any plastic surgery. For every year they are married and she fulfills her obligations, she receives $100,000. This is a pre-nup that never ends. There is constant weigh-ins, drug- tests and inspections ( I guess).  This is not  what a pre-nup is designed to do but, not the worst example I have ever heard, it is also very true.

The pre-nuptial agreement should be something that is openly discussed and negotiated prior to requesting a signature. It shouldn’t just show up one day without any warning.  Understanding the intentions of your fiance and his or her financial situation will help to ease the sting of being asked to sign something that you feel is a slap in the face.

Put your emotions aside for a moment and remember that most  pre-nuptial agreements are merely estate planning tools that answer difficult questions before the situation arises. Also remember that death is an unfortunate and eventual part of life and pre-nuptial agreements can protect your spouse in case of your death as well as divorce. 

Speak openly about your wants, needs and feelings. Consider hiring a mediator to help you work out the details together instead of each of you having separate legal representation.

While you are at it, provide for funeral expenses, health care, and all of those other ugly things we don’t like to think about. If there are children involved, plan for their future as well. Tuition, living expenses while in college and rent can all be worked out in one simple document.

If your future spouse walks in the door one day and hands you a document to sign, this is a sign that there is a bigger problem. On the other hand, if there is a conversation that begins with “We need to plan for the future” then you are in a position of being able to set the terms and help plan for your future together. This is also the perfect time to talk about  life insurance and determine the beneficiaries and executors of your estates.

It is important to remember that even though pre-nuptial agreements are recognized in all 5o states, there are cases when the entire document is thrown out of court. DO NOT buy a do-it-yourself Pre-Nup kit online and think for a moment this is the way to handle delicate and complicated financial affairs. Contact an  attorney who specialize in estate planning and sit down (together) to determine what is in the best interest for both of you.

If you say  that money doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. Money really matters if you don’t have enough or way too much. The wealthy need to prtoect their assets and the less fortunate need to constantly assure their wealthier counterparts they are not in it for the money. Consider the Duchess of Alba. In order to marry the man of her dreams (at the age of 85) she wis so insistent that her much younger husband was not marrying for her money that she recently gave away the entire fortune worth nearly $5 bilion.  Intersting, indeed.

Last but not least – don’t forget the debt. Make sure you address what to do in case of mutual property or debt. If your spouse dies and leaves more debt than assets, are you still covered? Is it your debt? If your marriage ends in divorce is he or she still required to pay the same amount if the income to debt ratio  changes?

I know, you are supposed to be marrying for love and money shouldn’t matter  so having this conversation seems a bit distasteful. It’s not. It’s practical and if your ‘intended’ runs at the very mention of a pre-nup, perhaps this is a sign of a much bigger problem.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago