Looking for Cheap Wedding Venues – look at Village Halls

Goxhill Memorial Hall, Yorkshire, UK

Goxhill Memorial Hall, Yorkshire, UK

On a tight to hardly any budget when looking amongst your possible dream wedding venues? Then look no further than a village, church hall or municipal gathering place. And in the UK that’s not difficult with every village, no matter the size, sporting one such item on their venue list. For more info on other types of wedding venues visit http://yorkshire.weddingvenue.info.

Village halls are anything from cute to ridiculous. It all depends on your own taste as to whether you can cope with the decor the village hall could come with. Whether red fake velvet drapes on the stage, or kids decoration for the kiddies section where pregnant mums come for their prenatal exercises. It’s all there.

But as cost effective goes for wedding venues, this is a winner.

Some pros
Public facilities include on-site selection of items you might normally need to hire through an event rental company. That could be your tables and chairs, possibly even a sound system. Hall tend to have a stage available if you are looking to hire a band saving you the cost you would incur when holding your wedding at a private home.

Also great are the ablution facilities that can cope with larger numbers of people. Especially for outdoor weddings you might need to hire these. A village hall will save you the cost. Another advantage is that your facility will allow you to hire any wedding supplier you might wish to. Whether it’s your favourite florist or your great aunt’s home catering business, event decorating crew or your favourite grunge band. In general you will be able to go with your own selection.

As for parking space this is an advantage of a village hall as the facility will have been built to cater for larger crowds. You will not have any problems with parking or security. In most cases your wedding venue will also be close to public transport and in the case of town halls most often centrally situated making your transport requirements easy to manage.

Some disadvantages
As in most cases you get what you pay for. Many a village hall might have equipment that has become slightly shabby through constant use. Crockery and cutlery might be of the white institutional kind. You might also need a fair amount of decorations in order to create some atmosphere. Many venues can have huge double volume ceilings that are not easy to decorate effectively.

Village, church and town halls tend to have minimal decorations and you will need to bring in a fair amount just to dent the bland look that is a feature of many of these venues.  Remember then that you will need to bring everything on site.  That of course also means that you can create your own look.

As for assistance, you will find that you might have to organise all yourself. A hall will generally not come with an entire banqueting staff able and willing to assist and fill your every wish. Anticipate a much larger work load then. Find your volunteers right away and allocate tasks to each.

You might also need to share the facilities with other events. Whether a christening, a boy scout awards gathering or an anniversary celebration you will have to push a little to get the space for all the time you want to use it for.

The village hall as inexpensive wedding venue
At the end of the day your budget will dictate whether you need to go with this the hire of a village hall as your wedding venue. It’s not a bad choice provided you realise that it will require a lot more work and possibly more assistants to help with the set up and decoration of the venue and some good planning to ensure all vendors arrive on time and deliver what you have ordered. Of course it’s do-able and your budget will definitely thank you for it.

A Destination Wedding for the Family

Romantic setting on the lagoon.

Romantic setting on the lagoon.

Where to have your wedding
We’re about to have what the wedding industry calls a Destination Wedding in the family. Except in a way it isn’t quite. Younger daughter is getting married in the Cayman’s. As destination weddings go, this one is almost on a par with a Bali or Thai beach wedding on Phuket.

Except younger daughter is now living in the Cayman’s so it isn’t quite a destination wedding for her and dearly beloved. But it certainly is for their myriad friends and family based all over the world. In fact most everywhere else besides the Cayman’s.

Of course, the better half is from the Cayman’s. Or at least he spent a considerable part of his life there and has permanent residency. And his mom and step-dad live there. So there is some family on board already. Then there is the advantage that a considerable number of his relatives live in Chile which is a small hop across the Northern parts of South America.

But for the Europeans it will be quite a costly hike.

Some Advantages of Destination Weddings
Not only are destination weddings often chosen for their romantic settings, such as a beautiful Thailand beach, but they may also serve a dual function of being your honeymoon venue too.

Of course in our family’s instance the bridal couple and part of the wedding entourage are already ensconced on the island and there is definitely no need for them to travel long distances to attend the festivities.

But for a considerable number of family and friends there will be long distance travel, expensive hotel accommodation and costly daily food and drinks bills. The Cayman Islands are not cheap.

As weddings go then the island is a romantic get away venue which can be quite costly to guests who would like to share the joy of a union.

Of course a further advantage is that your guests who do make the effort and are willing to carry the cost of taking part in the wedding even when far away will be very close friends and the kind you would want at your celebration.

Some Disadvantages to Destination Weddings
There are certainly more disadvantages to destination weddings, especially if outside the country of your guests, than just the cost involved. There are other considerations such as visa issues, duration of travel, legal processes involved and more.

You might have disabled family members who would really love to attend. But your venue might not be accessible, the flights or ferry rides a problem for wheelchair users or dietary requirements might not be available.

Weigh up all pros and cons of destination weddings
In the case of our family, there is really no choice. Younger daughter will tie the knot and celebrate her special day with her man on Cayman. But for others who might have the choice it’s definitely something that has to be considered carefully.

What might sound wonderfully romantic might end up being a total nightmare. A wonderful beach wedding could get wiped out by choosing an unknown windy season. Your friends and family might not be able to afford the time away or the costs involved and you could finish with a very lonely event. And even your own costs could escalate to more than you can afford. So think very carefully when considering a Destination Wedding.

More on wedding venues here.

eBay’s bizarre dance against accessibility

Amazing deaf phone.

Amazing deaf phone.

If I get the facts right about this case, and disclaimer I haven’t followed it per se, then eBay is being taken to court by a deaf person because of accessibility issues. By now it has headed to Supreme Court because the lower courts ruled in favour of the big boy, eBay.

In effect the dispute is something that could have been fixed immediately the issue was pointed out. eBay just couldn’t be bothered. Obviously for them disabled customers were not at the top of the list.

A woman tried to set up an account on eBay so that she could sell some goods. Nothing wrong with that one would imagine. In fact the internet should be a commercial space that otherwise disabled (mobility and hearing) folk should be able to operate in. Easily.

Except in the case of eBay, as final step in the setting up an account process, eBay requests the account holder to receive a phone call. Presumably this is to ensure that a real person exists on the other end of the phone line and to establish perhaps a valid phone number.

For a deaf person receiving a phone call is a slight issue.

It seems that eBay were not prepared to validate her account in any other way. Meaning that in all probability other deaf account holders would have cheated and would have persuaded a relative or friend to receive the call on their behalf. In this way nullifying the entire ID process. And in the end raising the question that anybody could cheat on this last step of identification.

This woman then took eBay to court under the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) that requires commercial entities to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Can you imagine eBay successfully defended themselves by stating that they were in fact not a commercial space because they didn’t have a physical space. Therefore they could ignore disabled people. This is simplified of course. I’m sure the arguments were more complex and even more clever.

The claimant, bully to her, has taken the matter to the Appellate Division. It also appears that US Legislature is  examining the issue with a view to changing the law to include the internet. About time one would imagine.

It is also said in this excellent article that eBay is taking steps to address the issue themselves. That is, making their website accessible. It’s a pity that they couldn’t get it right at the beginning. There are phones that can be used with deaf people. They’ve been around for ages. For years there have been solutions available. It would just mean that eBay would have had to step away from the automated process and have a human intervene. Too much hassle for one customer? It seems.

Thank goodness there are courageous individuals such as this woman who fight for their right at great emotional and financial costs too. It’s a pity she has to though. Surely society as a whole should be making sure that everybody is included.

Read the report here.

Planning your wedding

Very romantic wedding setting

Very romantic wedding setting

Not sure if you were like me. But when I planned my wedding I really left it all open to the Universe. Yup. The Universe would provide. I think I hassled over my dress for about ten minutes, discussed bridesmaids dresses with my two pals for another ten minutes and that was about it. Perhaps if I had had a good list of what to do like you can find at wedding venues here, I would have been a bit better prepared.

Plan my wedding? Never. As for deciding on a wedding venue, we chatted to a few friends and somebody recommended a particular hotel. We hiked there, got some rates and menus and that was it. Booked, settled.

No budget
One would imagine that setting up a budget could be quite useful. I didn’t do that. I just handed the invoices over to my father. Poor guy did his best to try and keep the numbers of visitors down to a minimum and curtail the spending.

Except we had a clash of cultures. My father, of good German stock, felt that a wedding should have a sit down dinner. Otherwise it would be an embarrassment to the family. And it needed a good menu. My mother in law was used to weddings in a church hall, with sticky cakes, one glass of champagne and no sit down dinner.

She had been invited to hundreds of these casual low cost affairs and she felt she needed to invite all of these people to her son’s wedding. Only child as well, so all or nothing as weddings go.

Her guest list was legend. My father was prepared to pay for one hundred people only. There was a big clash of the titans. My husband and I almost eloped. But the old folks finally sorted it out and we actually got married.

As for planning the wedding
Not really that much I must say. But then this was in the early 70’s and we didn’t have hen do’s, pre-wedding or rehearsal dinners, (what rehearsal) or any of the other costly events that are now planned around weddings.

We got away lightly!

What to do about Wedding Venues that are too small

Gorgeous Wedding Venues decoration

Gorgeous Wedding Venues decoration

Too small Wedding venues
Your search amongst wedding venues has lead you to a gem of a spot. You love it and know this is the one. But there is a problem. The wedding venue is too small for the number of guests you are wanting to invite. Your invitation list has been pared down to a minimum.

What to do?

Here are a few tips on how to find that extra bit of space to accommodate your special guests. And for more info on wedding venues visit Wedding Venue.

Split your events
It is not necessary to have dinner and dancing in the same room. If your wedding venue of choice has another room available you might be able to move your dancing to this area. Alternatively try an outside area that may be covered in case of bad weather.

It’s not a bad idea overall as it means that the dance music can be ramped up and the those lingering over their meal and catching up with friends are able to talk to each other over the noise.

Standing only event
Provided you have the right ambience there’s no reason why a small space cannot serve as the ideal spot for the wedding ceremony. Make it a short ceremony and have your guests stand with you. Of course do allow some chairs for the older folk who might need to sit. Overall though, a slightly crowded space lends its own atmosphere to the proceedings.

Extra space required
Should your dining area require more space for just one more table, see if you can’t move extra items out of the room. Perhaps you don’t need that stage area for the MC. He or she can speak standing next to your table rather than up front.

Move the bar out of the room. Perhaps there is a courtyard available that can serve as a bar area or even a wider passage can accommodate a table to serve drinks from. Eliminate any superfluous decorations that might take up space and bring the wedding cake in for the cutting at the very end.

Serve the buffet outside
If you have decided to have your buffet meal then see if you cannot set up the food table outside the room. Do ensure though that guests do not have to open a door while carrying their full plates.

Choice of music
If you have space for the dance area but not enough space for a band then see if your area can’t accommodate a DJ rather. It might save on the budget as well and provide you with that extra small amount of space that may be used for another table or a slightly larger dance area.

Be clever with tables
Round tables tend to take up a lot more space than rectangles. You might need to create a kind of refactory style look. Make a focal point out of a necessity and you could create a wonderful atmosphere. Rather than appoint people to a table you have the freedom to allow everybody to sit as they come in. With a few glasses of champagne you could end up having a great mix and match event.

You will be surprised what a little clever thinking can do to allow you to have your event at the wedding venue that you really love and that you know will suit your bridal party and guests the best.

Language and its importance to our development

From Globalvoicesonline.org

From Globalvoicesonline.org

As recent migrants to Spain, the question of language raises its head almost daily. We don’t speak much Spanish but are acutely aware that we need to. If we want to enjoy this country to its fullest we have to. Otherwise we will always be isolated and dependent on a handful of like minded expats who also haven’t put in the work to learn the local language.

Yesterday we were surprised to come across a school in the hills behind us in Marbella that is a German School with a Spanish bilingual stream. Who would have thought that this would be available. We had been grappling with the question of language for family offsprings. As we are English speakers in Spain on German passports, German should be part of the mix we have been thinking. And here was a possible solution. English at home, German and Spanish at school.

So while checking the school’s website, the TED newsletter dropped into my inbox and I decided to view some on a Sunday for fun. Don’t normally get the time. And I discovered a talk from a previous TED session, in fact from 2011, that was totally fascinating. It was about language and what that meant to human evolution.

In fact the point this speaker, Mark Pagel, made amongst other amazing points was that having a universal language allows people to share ideas, innovate and create together and this was what was causing such enormous growth in our technological advances across the board.

In my lifetime alone, the mobile phone, internet, organ transplants, space trips, natural regrowth of human organs and so much more has appeared. Far more I think than previous generations have experienced. And the reason for that is that we can steal ideas so much quicker if we can understand the language that somebody else used when developing and describing his invention.

As a total different story though, but very much along the same principle of language, that popped into my inbox was a report (5 of them and worth reading) by Steve Blank on China and his recent visit. Talking about such things as China’s innovation hubs, investments & VCs. China invests (both private and state funds) in billions of dollars every year in innovation mostly in telecommunications, media and technology.

Yet at the same time, China bans contact to the rest of the world. No YouTube, no Google, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Flickr. All of the people and info sharing tools are restricted to Chinese products that China’s authorities are able to control and censor where required.

So the contrast between what Mark Pagel states and what China does highlights the principle that the more people can talk to each other in a common language across all borders the better and easier new technologies can be developed.

What does that mean for China, and as a matter of fact for Vietnam a country also dictated and censored by its communist government, and the billions that that country invests in innovation hubs? It’s not going to be as effective. In fact it is mostly more focused on copying and making something from overseas work in China rather than inventing something totally new and adding to the development of the world. The 10th Groupon site anybody? Sure. It’s available in China.

Imagine if China opened it’s doors to international thought – or at least allowed its citizens to. What this amazing giant could achieve. With it’s hard learning and hard working citizens who are alway striving to get better at what they are doing, this huge world power player could contribute so much to the well being of the global community. If only it opened its doors to the language of the global community.

How to change the world and other small goals

Occupy Wall Street protestor being removed

Occupy Wall Street protestor being removed

Occupy Wall Street didn’t make it. They didn’t really make a difference and the movement didn’t survive. In fact all that the Occupy movement got known for was untidy evictions from their various vantage points. Oh wait. They did manage to engineer the resignation of the Dean at St Paul’s in London. Success? Hardly.

Yet their message was incredibly important. Stop fat cat practices in the corporate world. Those practices that lead to indecent profits, huge CEO salaries and pittance pay to the people who make the organisation function. Those toilet cleaners, PA’s, support staff and more.

And sure. Warren Buffett‘s secretary earns over $100k per year. Seems a lot, but then look at the profits that his Berkshire Hathaway makes and you have to wonder about the unfairness of it. I am going to presume for the sake of the argument that the rest of the non investment broker staff also earn small salaries. Can’t see the cleaner getting more than $100k per year. Can you?

So what happened? Surely the stats of the top 20% of the population in the USA hold 89% of the wealth should be something that would ‘occupy’ the minds of the eighty percent of the USA that fight for the scraps of the wealth.

Perhaps a random idea is that the Americans are so used to thinking that everybody can make it in the USA and therefore if they are poor they can only blame themselves, surely. They just didn’t make it and they better be happy with their fate.

What the disenfranchised people in the developed world are forgetting is that they do have the power. They don’t actually need to think it’s their fault that they are not getting an equitable slice of the wealth cake. And perhaps one should not forget the developing world where the same inequalities are coming to the fore.

It was therefore great to see in Switzerland a move by the ordinary people taking back some of that power. The people voted overwhelmingly against high executive pay. Lead by one individual, Thomas Minder owner of a family-owned business, a tiny outrage ended up becoming a popular vote.

And that’s how it has to be done if you want to change the world. Messy occupy movements where people settle in tents on the fringe of financial district? No. A well thought through campaign that appeals to the ordinary people via legal and regular channels? Yes to that.

It surely applies to all of the changes that people want to make. Violence, riots, uprisings, demonstrations are not the way to do it. Even in the Arab world the uprisings have not really made a difference instead allowing lunatic fringe religious groups to run the show. Talk about a step back into the dark ages.

You want to make a change? Do it within the system. Just like the Swiss did. They changed the law. We can do that too. And with social media allowing us to talk so freely to each other and making it easy for tribes to get together it really isn’t necessary anymore to camp on the doorstep of the stock exchanges.

Jobs for everyone – don’t count on it

laborforceparticipationThere have been some interesting developments in the human resources space. The Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in particular has started a strong debate. Her call to bring back telecommuters into Yahoo’s offices has caused a lot of random hot air to circulate.

Whereas some companies have allowed their workers freedom to work from home Yahoo has now decided they want their staff back in the office. It seems positively old fashioned. Going backwards? Do we need to be physically together to produce the best work possible? And what about the cost to the environment and the back pocket for all the commuting to work.

But then another interesting article caught my attention. Reading about an innovative design studio based in Copenhagen and admiring their design work it was interesting to note that this award winning studio consists of two partners and one assistant. Sure they are a division of a larger agency, but their business unit is small.

How does this work? It can only work when the small unit can tap into an available freelance talent pool. And this is where work is ultimately going to. Just as this agency, Mega Design, is doing. They bring in talent when required. This means that you are never at risk with high overheads. You can expand or shrink according to the work load. It’s like having telecommuters on tap. Without the risk.

Of course there will still be the Yahoo, Facebook and Google’s out there who amass people in the hundreds and thousands. But where the big changes will happen will be in the small to mid size businesses. The ones that are most often knocked over by recessions. And the ones that used to employ those millions newly unemployed.

An interesting question was posed in a blog post recently. In response to the unemployment figures in the developed world that are not budging even though the recession is receding into history and the stock exchanges are posting highs not seen since before the crash a question was asked. (Taking the highs as an indication that the economies are doing well.)

And the question was: why are companies not hiring. Even though the economy is moving again and into positive figures. Why is there no hiring?

And probably the answer to this is that companies are going to do the very same thing that this design studio in Copenhagen is doing. Once they require staff they will outsource to freelancer on a per project basis because it’s safer. It’s a matter of keeping your overheads in sync with your project sizes.

The big headache of course is that young people coming out of formal education have been educated for the purpose of slotting into factory style work environments. Note that many hugely successful businesses out there have been started by people who never finished their post high school qualification. Steve Jobs springs to mind.

We are educating our youth for the wrong job market. There are only so many jobs at Yahoo or Google. The rest are going to have to become freelancers. Do they know how to run their own business, how to sell their services, how to keep their skills relevant so that they are marketable, network to find new business and the list goes on.

What else are we not providing our young people with? Relevant work place skills. A degree in English is not going to be enough for a regular copy writing job. And companies don’t have the budgets anymore to train up young people. This means our unemployed out there are the youth. Because on their first day at work all they can possibly do is make coffee for the boss. And there are no longer budgets for these skills.

 

 

Effective strategy against terrorism – stop the manufacture of arms

Image courtesy of Sofrep.

People are making money out of selling arms to terrorists. Sure it’s companies. But, here’s a reality check. If you have shares in Dassault Aviation, Sukhoi, Mikoyan, EADS, Finmeccanica, Thales Group, Lockheed Martin, Boeing or BAE Systems then you are making money out of terrorism.

Or what about an investment in companies that appear harmless? General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi, Saab, Hewlett-Packard and the list goes on. Shocker isn’t it. And if you have investments in such ‘harmless’ investments such as Unit Trusts you will find that the bundle of companies they invest in will surely have some of the above in their portfolios.

While government leaders shake their heads at Algeria and the terrorism attack at a BP natural gas plant the main point that is seemingly always missed is who supplied the terrorists with arms. It isn’t really about a gas plant that needs better protection or an Algerian army overzealously riding in guns blazing.

No the real question surely should be how did the Masked Brigade, who claim responsibility, get the funding and arms to launch such an attack and kill 80 or so people. Or so the media have us believe. Could of course be more or even less one hopes.

It’s the same weird logic that keeps the Americans in guns. There would not be the same killings in schools or movie theatres by gun madmen, however unhinged they might be, if they could not get hold of guns. Throwing knives isn’t really an alternative option.

Don’t allow the selling of guns to anybody in America and you would have a considerable fall off of random shootings in public spaces.

Same principle applies to terrorist groups. Do not sell guns to anybody. And you would have a fall off of terrorism.

For instance Germany, upstanding citizens and all of that, have one of the largest armament industries in the world and in fact are the third largest arms exporters in the world. In 2011 exports topped €10Billion, of which 42% went to third-party states outside NATO. In particular Saudi Arabia is a faithful customer. And one asks how many of these arms could end up in Islamist terrorist groups?

So before anybody else blames Algeria for this disaster, ask yourself the question:- who is giving terrorists the arms and ammunition to wage these wars.  Who is making the money.

Unemployment is not always about no jobs being available

The United Nations brought out a report on domestic workers at the beginning of 2013. An interesting statistic was that Spain is one of the top employers of domestic workers and most of them are foreigners. Hey what? The country with one of the highest unemployment numbers in Europe imports labour. About 2 million of them. That could make quite a dent in the millions that are currently unemployed.

So why do Spaniards not want to work as domestic workers? Well who does, one might even want to ask. After all there are umpteen jobs out there that nobody wants to do. Like for instance clean the floors in a supermarket, or stack shelves, or serve behind a counter. How mindless is that? How many times a day do you want to grab sausages, weigh them, put them in a packet and slap a price tag on it? And toilet cleaning?

It’s obviously not anything any self respecting person wants to do, surely.

And so it comes as somewhat of a surprise to see that ranked in number 5 place of the all time best companies to work for in the USA in 2012 is in fact a grocery chain. Yip. Their staff turnover is a low 3.6%. People love to work there. Regardless of whatever they have to do, and cleaning of toilets must be one of the tasks surely, nobody leaves their job. Because they love working there.

So it’s not actually about the type of work that one has to do that makes one want to work at something. It is all about a whole bunch of other stuff. In fact some serious research into wages and salaries has brought up that high rewards are really only necessary if the rest of the situation is unbearable.

It is probably safe to say that the counter staff at Wegmans, number 5 in the best companies to work for, are not earning Investment Banker bonuses. And at a loss of 3.6% the excuse these execs sprout of having to keep good staff and hence the high salaries doesn’t actually cut it either.

Of course high skills and knowledge are something one has to pay for. Cheating others out of money obviously requires skills. Oh wait, Investment Bankers don’t steal money, they just shuffle it around. To deserving individuals. My bad. (I’m sure there are a ton of highly skilled ethical bankers out there too. Regrettably their good deeds generally go unnoticed.)