When will weddings adapt to our changing society?

Richard Rawstorn (2R) with Richard Andrew (R) from Christchurch and Jess Ives (2L) with Rachel Briscoe (L) from the Bay of Islands celebrate being married during the first same sex marriage at the Rotorua Museum in Rotorua on Monday, August 19, 2013. More than 30 same-sex couples will say "I do" on Monday when New Zealand becomes the first Asia-Pacific country and only the 14th in the world to legalise gay marriage.   The move has sparked a raft of competitions to set wedding firsts, but unease amongst the religious community AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE

Richard Rawstorn (2R) with Richard Andrew (R) from Christchurch and Jess Ives (2L) with Rachel Briscoe (L) from the Bay of Islands celebrate being married during the first same sex marriage at the Rotorua Museum in Rotorua on Monday, August 19, 2013. More than 30 same-sex couples will say “I do” on Monday when New Zealand becomes the first Asia-Pacific country and only the 14th in the world to legalise gay marriage.
The move has sparked a raft of competitions to set wedding firsts, but unease amongst the religious community


Spending some time in the weddings scene has been quite interesting. In fact, it seems likely that I will be hanging around for a while. In particular traditions and their consequences on the festivities are fascinating to watch.

Traditionally a wedding was celebrated in one’s parish church so that the entire community could celebrate with you. And after that there was a reception or receiving line where folk visited you at the bride’s parent’s home where generally receptions were held so that you could be officially introduced as Mrs and Mr.

From there you and the wedding party took the walk across town or next door to your new home and you got carried over the threshold. After all you were now the property of the man…. In Asia this walk is still made accompanied by family and friends as well as all sorts of luck bringing people and lucky charms. Asia never misses an opportunity to ask for help from the luck bringing gods.

Of course these traditions depended on you actually attending a church regularly, growing up in the same city/town, keeping the same friends as you went to the city’s colleges, finding employment in the self same area and living at home until you got married.

How many people do you know who have done this?

As you can see there are some major problems in this scenario already. Now add another more recent development. The changing law, in force in 14 countries already, is allowing same sex marriages, One can see that there are some interesting confusions on the horizon.

Yet when it comes to marriage, traditions are still being adhered to in many cases. Brides are still wearing white gowns even if they are marrying another bride. Ministers are still performing marriages even if they have never met the couple. Receptions are still held with traditional cake cutting and first dance ceremonies.

And are you still being carried across the threshold even if you have been living in the same home, together, for a few years already?

Of course traditions can lag behind society and the way our life styles have and still are changing. It is rare that modern couples go through the full life path together. In fact the proliferation of online dating sites and meet up mobile phone apps are an indication that everything is changing even how we meet each other.

It will certainly be interesting to see how our wedding ceremonies adapt to the changing landscape. In particular in the gay and lesbian community one would expect some changes soon. Although of course two brides with pretty dresses are still pretty as per the image above! Still the concept of bridesmaids and groomsmen could be on the out or develop into a new format.

Interest in reading about weddings in general visit Yorkshire Wedding Venues or Wedding Venues.

On Weddings and Wedding Venues

Newspaper reader.

Newspaper reader.

Wedding times are here
I’ve been writing a lot of articles and doing a fair amount of research on weddings, wedding venues and the like. It’s been part of a project we are running at the moment at Yeah Can and at the same time younger daughter is tying the knot. So some personal interest in the topic.

And sometimes you can come across an idea that is really different. Not different in a kitsch sort of way, but just cleverly different.

The Favour
The folk marrying in the US talk about favours. Something to hand out for people to remember the occasion by. In the olden days, that is when I got married, we handed out a slice of the wedding cake. Pre-packaged in clear paper. In fact we tended to not actually have too much real cake in the wedding cake. Just sufficient to be able to cut into it and for all the old aunties to have a piece. British you know. Those were the days of fruit cake.

The Americans smear the cake all over each other. Well, ok not everybody of course. But some do. And mostly the cake gets consumed. So a new idea had to be found for favours. Of course there are many, but this particular idea appealed to my old fashioned ideas.

Vintage Maidenhead Newspaper

Vintage Maidenhead Newspaper

A newspaper as a wedding favour
What a great idea. A newspaper, printed on newsprint paper, with articles by family, friends and the bridal couple. Pics of the engagement, recipes, advice by maiden aunts (do they still exist?) and so much fun stuff.

And with the cost of printing coming down, especially for short runs, cost is most definitely not even a major consideration anymore.

Some possible topics
A front page feature article on the bridal couple of course. What about the proposal story? There’s bound to be some history there. Letters to the editors by anybody really who wants to.

How we met is a great topic. People love to hear how couples meet. Profiles on the bridal party including the best man, maid of honour and anybody else who wants to appear in print. A review of the honeymoon destination. The words to the favourite song. Even pics of the stag and hen parties could be useful. Baby pictures of the couple. A pic of the house they grew up in.

Photo memories with fun captions. Print the whole paper in sepia and you have yourself a wonderfully whimsical and vintage wedding newspaper. And as newspapers do their disappearing trick this is not a bad time to have a nostalgic moment for a bygone era.

Make extra copies
Hand out your newspaper at the tables for people to read and use as ice breakers. And have plenty left over for folk to take home with them. It will be a talking point that’s for sure. Never to forget some copies to be preserved for the kids and grandkids. By then newspapers will definitely be considered vintage.

Ever wondered how wedding receptions started?

Vietnamese wedding receptions is all about the food.

Vietnamese wedding receptions are all about the food.

It all hinges around the word reception
It originated with the concept of receiving society. That meant you and your other significant half were obliged to receive your guests or the society you lived in on the day of your wedding. Introducing Mr and Mrs so to speak. Of course it also means Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs nowadays.

The receiving line
The wedding reception would involve the receiving line. That is everybody queues up to be received by the new couple. In the olden days that involved a person, the lowest one in the pecking order, would introduce the folk as they arrived at the front of the line. If he didn’t know the person then they would have to introduce themselves. Needless to say it would have been unlikely for a woman to have this job.

The introducer so to speak would then introduce the person to the next in line and then to the new couple. On the whole, traditionally, the party paying for the event would be in the receiving party. In the olden days this would have been the bride’s parents or guardian. Nowadays of course couples very often pay for their own wedding and would not necessarily have their parents in the receiving party.

It is also possible to have both sets of parents in the receiving party. Nowadays there is no longer a hard and fast rule. Mostly because people have no idea why this tradition continues. As with many traditions they have been passed on to the next generation without a major explanation going along for the ride.

The grand entrance
In some parts of the United States. mostly on the West Coast, the bridal party makes a grand entrance while everybody is already seated. A Master of Ceremony or DJ would have the task of announcing the new Mr and Mrs to the waiting party.

Receptions in different cultures
In Asian countries the reception might be dictated by different traditions. The Indian custom will often involve several receptions even before the couple is married. These are reserved for family and the main reception for the general public.

In Vietnam for instance most of the actual traditions are performed amongst immediate family. Work colleagues, not so close friends and general members of the public are only invited to a public reception which tends to be a very strange mix of Western traditions including the bride wearing a white dress, champagne glass towers with dry ice effects and the exchanging of rings on a stage.

One common theme
Amongst all of the traditions and cultures there is one common theme and that is the sharing of food. Whether this is in the form of cakes and a glass of champagne or a full sit down meal, the food and drink sharing is a well entrenched tradition.

In the developing world the feast part tends to be open to many visitors often making the numbers an unknown. In the developed world guest numbers are curtailed mostly. It’s just too expensive to invite the entire village. Except of course in the Meditaeranean Spain for instance where one never knows how many extra aunties and third degree cousins might pitch up.

For more stuff on wedding venues check out my new project at wedding venues in Yorkshire, UK.

Spain is the most accepting Society Towards Gay People

Acceptance of Gay Rights, worldwide

Acceptance of Gay Rights, worldwide

Every now and then I find something that is surprising. And this surely is one of those items. A predominantly catholic country ends up being the most accepting towards homosexuals. Wow.

How does that work? A church that is totally against gay people, against gay marriage and calls it some nasty names rules the roost in Spain. There are more public holidays celebrating saints than perhaps even in Latin America. Although probably not. But a close second I would imagine.

Holy Easter Week procession in Almunecar, Spain

Holy Easter Week procession in Almunecar, Spain

There’s always some Virgin, or Saint, or JC himself  being carried around on heaving shoulders, paddled along the coastline or prayed to in church. Here in Spain that is. Yet one of the strongest doctrines of the very same church is totally ignored.

Of course I am totally for it. I walked in gay pride parades while still in Durban and that is early 1990s. And am totally for gay marriages and whatever makes people happy.

Still it is hugely interesting, to me anyway, that here in Spain there could be such a conflict in what the society does and what their church dictates.  And that surely should give us hope that religious people all across the world, whether Jews, Muslims, Protestants or whatever can take out of their religion that works for them and ignore those rules and regulations that make absolutely no sense in our modern society.



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.