"February is why people live in Florida," said the event manager for a historic lakefront house when I asked her last May whether an outdoor wedding would be a good idea. "Ask any snowbird. It will be gorgeous," she practically guaranteed.
And so on that promise of blue skies, the wedding plans unfolded: an outdoor ceremony on the lakefront lawn, a sleeveless gown, photos on the wooden dock at twilight while guests enjoy passed hors d'oeuvres on the brick patio beneath strands of market lights. The party would then move inside the home, where six tables for 10 would be set for dinner and crowned with candle-lit centerpieces of cream and blush roses.
Of course, you know me by now, I dialed in every detail down to DC's tuxedo studs (sterling French love knots). As my picture-perfect plan came together, the vision quickened in my mind like concrete.
That is until two weeks before the wedding, when Katie Scully, owner of Blue Ribbon Wedding & Event Design, who was handling the day-of event coordination, asked: "What is your rain plan?"
"Rain plan?" I said. "Our plan is it's not going to rain."
"Well, just in case," she said.
Though I thought it an utter waste of time, five days before the wedding I dutifully called a meeting with the caterer and the event manager for a walk through of how the event would flow in the unthinkable case of rain.
When we were done, we unanimously agreed: that's not going to happen.
Over the next four days, however, the forecast grew grimmer. A black cloud formed over my wedding day, moving the storm needle from possible to certain.
I still held out hope. However, I have learned in life, and this has taken decades, that if something is meant to be it will be.
The rain started in the morning and did not relent. Temperatures dropped and winds rose. At 10 a.m., I reluctantly called Scully telling her to enact the rain plan.
The problem with picturing your wedding a certain way for months is that you really can't see it any other way.
Scully positioned the umbrella stand by the front door. Guests arrived and were directed to the main room for the ceremony. After the ceremony, they flowed to the back of the house for drinks and appetizers, while the caterers transformed the ceremony room into a room for the dinner party. Everything went seamlessly.
"The wedding was beautiful," one guest said afterward.
"Even though it couldn't be outside," I said shrugging.
"Outside? I thought this was how you planned it all along."
And, you know, now I can't imagine it any other way.
The moral of this story: Regardless of how you envision your outdoor event —
whether it's a birthday, graduation, retirement party, anniversary bash or wedding — and despite how nice the almanac indicates the weather will be, have a back-up plan.
"As a wedding coordinator, my goal is not to have to go to the bride with any questions on wedding day," said Scully, who got her bachelor's degree in event management and is a certified wedding planner. "On a day when emotions are high, you don't want to be figuring this out on the fly."
Here are some of her best Plan B recommendations:
Be realistic: "We all want to say, 'It's not going to rain,' but you just can't," Scully said. Other factors besides rain also can force a plan change, including wind and extreme temperatures. "You need to get in front of it."
Enlist pros and trust them: Because I'd talked through the rain plan with those working behind the scenes, I only had to make one call to activate it. The pros took it from there. "By discussing this up front, we can go into problem-solving mode rather than spend time appeasing the bride or getting caught in a room with her distraught mother," Scully said. "Let us handle it."
Put comfort first: What's more important? How your party looks, or how it feels? These are your favorite people. You want them to be comfortable. And that may mean sacrificing your vision. "Thanks to sites like Pinterest, many brides get so focused on the visual appeal, they forget all the other senses," she said. Those barn weddings look romantic, with the lace gown against the rustic barn siding, but photos don't capture the funky animal smells, the bad insulation, the insects, filth and road noise.
Consider a tent: If you have an indoor back-up plan in case weather turns foul, you don't need a tent. But if you can't get everyone indoors, line one up at least a month in advance. Most cities require you to get a permit, which can take a few weeks and requires a fee. The rental company also will likely charge you at least a partial fee to have the tent available whether or not you use it.
Ward off chill: Have a basket of throw blankets and shawls in light neutral colors for guests to grab. Outdoor heaters also are nice.
Stay dry: If it rains, or threatens to, offer cover and have an attendant provide umbrella-covered escorts for guests.
Keep cool: Put out bins of water bottles on ice if temperatures are high, and please skip the beach wedding on the sand, Scully said. "We've all burned our feet on hot sand."
Nix nuisances: Before your event, see about having the site professionally sprayed for insects. And let guests know they can find bug spray behind the bar.
And, despite the rain, they lived happily ever after.Read more at:plus size formal dresses
They arrived from all over South Africa, starting as early on Friday morning, from Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth and as far away as Pretoria, as well as one group from KwaZulu-Natal, all cancer survivors and all dressed in pink. They’d taken three days riding down and were planning to ride back in two - but in between they were ready to have a rowdy good time.
Yet they were among the first to muster on the road outside the resort early on Saturday morning for the mass ride through the town to the first of two charity stops, the AGS community centre, escorted by traffic officers, police and what seemed like most of the population of Robertson.
There the organising committee handed over a package of donations, including a big-screen TV and satellite decoder, as well as boxes of sweet treats for the kids, before the real business of the morning began, with children from three to 83 – most of whom had never seen a motorcycle up close before - lining up for a ride around the block on the back of a big, gleaming, and in many cases intimidatingly noisy bike.
The cops, looking on with huge grins, had closed the roads for the occasion, making it legal to ride without helmets, and the expression on the kids’ faces - usually a mixture of apprehension and wide-eyed wonderment - was worth the price of admission by itself.
All too soon it was time to move on to the Huis Le Roux seniors home, where the riders handed over a huge donation of food items donated by Spar, as well as a satellite decoder, laughing and joking as they formed a human chain to move literally hundreds of items to the pantry at the home.
VARIETY OF MOTORCYCLES
The final stop on the mass ride was at Graham Beck wines for a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and the obligatory group photo, against a stunning background of vineyards and blue mountains.
Here a German photographer remarked that the most striking aspect of the rally to her was the variety of bikes ridden by the women – cruisers, adventure bikes, superbikes and even a stunning retro Triumph Bonneville SE and a couple of bobbers.
There were dozens of Harley-Davidsons, almost as many BMW GelandeScooters, a Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the hands of a dainty 19-year-old, and classic 1980s Honda CBR250 four redlined at 19 000rpm.
Once back at the campsite it was time for the rally games, where Lauren ‘the Ninja Fairy’ Cloete won the bull-riding contest for the third consecutive year- and was also a member of the Boob-Tubes tug of war team, which romped home to an easy victory over the Meerkats, the West Coast ladies and the Stall Holders.
Then the rally settled into siesta mode, as the ladies strolled round the dozens of stalls selling everything from upmarket biker jewellery to custom badges, made to order for your bike. Until the sun set, the bright lights came up and headline artist PJ Powers took to the stage, belting out hits old and new as the ladies partied into the night.
It’s no surprise that Sunday morning was quiet and relaxed, as the riders dealt with their hangovers, packed up and prepared for the ride home. But in, true biker fashion, there were no goodbyes, only firm promises for “next year”.Read more at:marieaustralia.com | evening dresses online
Ask and it shall be given.
That appears to be the mantra of Pretty Ballerinas, the popular ballerina pump and flat-shoe brand from Spain - at least where its customers in Singapore are concerned.
It opened its first store here last year and its chief executive officer, Mr David Bell, says the company is coming up with designs specifically for the Singapore market.
Customers here have asked for more climate-appropriate styles, such as shoes with open-toe designs and espadrilles as well as ones with more padding.
And so, fashion and lifestyle group F J Benjamin, which brought in the brand, is sending its in-house designers to Menorca, Spain, where the company is headquartered, to work with the brand's designers on specific designs just for the Singapore market, such as flats with a quilted footbed.
Mr Bell is more than happy to comply.
Says the 48-year-old: "Customers who volunteer what they would like to buy makes our job easy. We want to give them exactly what they want."
Pretty Ballerinas, launched in 2005, is best known for its colourful and comfortable ballerinas and flat shoes.
Prices range from $160 (for children's sizes) to $560 and styles are named after 1960s screen legends such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
New designs are sent to the store here every two weeks. One of the brand's claims to fame is that model Kate Moss' bridesmaids wore its shoes for her 2011 wedding to musician Jamie Hince.
The brand is owned by the Mascaro family, who have been making ballet slippers since 1918 in Menorca.
Mr Bell joined the Mascaro company when he married third-generation Ms Ursula Mascaro.
They divorced in 2011 and he continues to run Pretty Ballerinas. Mascaro also owns other shoe brands.
Pretty Ballerinas started as an online store and opened its first boutique in Mayfair, London, in 2007. There are now 76 stores in places such as the United States and the Middle East.
It entered the Asian market in 2011 with a store in Taiwan and has opened stores in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan.
In Singapore, it started with a 230 sq feet store at Paragon, but because of customer demand, it relocated to another store twice the size within the shopping centre in the same year.
On what he attributes to Pretty Ballerinas' success, Mr Bell says: We use the best materials and craftsmen. We have been making ballerinas for a long time."
He says some of the shoemakers for Pretty Ballerinas have been working for Mascaro for an average of 34 years.
Although F J Benjamin declines to reveal how well the brand is doing here, Mr Bell lists Singapore as its best-performing market in Asia and notes that the ballerina-style shoes do better in Asia than in Europe or the US.