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Unplugged Wedding – Why you Won’t Regret Banning Phones on your Wedding Day…

Considering having an unplugged wedding? You’re not the only one…
Technology and social media have found a place in (if not dominated) almost every facet of our modern lives, but if there’s one time their presence is totally unnecessary, it’s at your nuptials. Here’s why you won’t regret banning phones on your Wedding Day…

#Antisocial – when Social Media is Antisocial

Social Media can be such an oxymoron – is there actually anything less ‘social’ than having the people around you staring into their phones?
While I share most of my life on social media, I strive to do so with the least disruption to my day-to-day life, and minimal interference with my relationships IRL. Also, I have to post – it’s my business, and lots of little white book sales come directly through instagram. However, despite posting most details about my wedding and the lead up on my blog, when we got married, we had a photography and social media ban. Why? Not only did we want to be the first to share our day, but we actually didn’t want our guests to be using their phones throughout the day. We didn’t want phones or social media to be any barrier to everyone actually being social, connecting our two families and groups of friends.
All my close family and friends were at the wedding, and I wanted the moment to be about us as a group, rather than posting updates to everyone else who wasn’t there. That was two years ago, even before instagram stories and snap-chat were as prevalent as they are today, and I’m noticing social-media bans are on the rise.

#Privacy – Respecting your Privacy and that of your Guests

In the last few weeks, I have also learned an important lesson relating to social media and sharing. If I ever share instagram stories or photos from weddings (where a phone/social-media ban is not in place) I am very careful not to identify the bride, groom, the bridal party or their families and friends (other than my immediate friends who consent to the use of their image).
In a world where some of us have literally hundred or thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people viewing our social media updates, it is crucial to consider what others would consent to you capturing and sharing. Always err on the side of caution.

#Photography – Let the Photographers do their best job, unimpaired

You may have already seen some of the terrible photos taken at weddings where the photographers’ shot has been compromised by cameras, cell-phones and even (the horror!) selfie-sticks, but if not, peruse and be warned.
Not only will you enjoy your photos more without your guests’ LCD screens present, but chances are your guests will enjoy the day more too. You want your guests to understand that you want them to be there and enjoy the moment IRL. If you’ve hired a professional photographer for your wedding, those will be the best pictures, you don’t need your guests also chronicling your day.

What are your options for an Unplugged Wedding?

You will have to consider whether you want to ban phones completely, ie. guests not being able to use their phones at all, only ban photos being taken by guests, or merely ask that guests do not upload photographs to social media. These are three very different things. Talk to your partner about their views to see if they share yours. Keep in mind that banning phones in general may make things difficult for guests that may need to check in with family members, children, etc.
On our wedding day, we chose to ban all photography, though despite prior warning and both our celebrant and MC reminding guests of our request, one friend still [waited until left for our own photos and] chose to take photos…

Make up your mind and do not feel bad about your decision

It’s your wedding, you are the hosts, and it is not unreasonable to make these rules. Our ability to take photos is restricted in many different places (at the movies and the airport, to name a couple) and your guests will cope. Explain clearly what you do and do not want. A small message on your invitation or itinerary will suffice. You do not need to explain yourself.

A simple reminder close to the event is a good idea – either enlist the support of one of the members of the bridal party to spread the word, or have the celebrant remind guests pre-ceremony.

Consider an “Unplugged Wedding” Sign

It’s also a good idea to have an Unplugged Wedding Sign – wording examples as follows:

  • “There’s a girl here taking pictures. We asked her to come. So please rest your cameras. Our ceremony needs only one.”
  • “Please let our professional photographers be the only paparazzi during our ceremony.”
  • “Oh snap! Thank you for coming. We have but one plea. Please keep our ceremony camera-free. Though our ‘I dos’ are unplugged, our reception is not. Once we finish our first dance, you’re free to take a shot.”
  • “We really want to see your faces. Not your devices. Please put away phones and cameras until after the first dance.”
  • “Welcome to our unplugged ceremony. Please turn off all cell phones, cameras and any other device and enjoy this special moment with us. Thank you!”
  • “Welcome to our unplugged wedding. We invite you to be fully present with us during this special moment. Please, no cameras, cell phones or other electronics until after the ceremony. Thank you!”

Consider Providing Alternatives for Your Guests

If you know your friends would love to have something to share immediately from the wedding, consider having a Photo Booth or Selfie Station for guests to use.

It’s also a great way to capture the last part of the evening once the photographer has left and guests are a little, ahem.. relaxed.

Scared of Your Guests’ Reaction..?

While guests may at first be a little surprised that they can’t use their cameras during your wedding ceremony—or maybe even that you’ve banned phones for the whole wedding day — they are going to appreciate it in the end. With so many of us caught up with technology, an unplugged wedding may just the break we all need.

What are your thoughts about unplugged weddings? A good idea or too controlling? Let me know (oh, and make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook!)

😂😂

How Burnout Affects Your Relationship, and How to Avoid it

Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tense and stressed, possibly exploding at any moment and propelling debris towards loved ones and anyone else in your immediate vicinity…? Burnout is a significant issue, it affects both our physical and mental health, and has the potential to seriously affect relationships with all of those closest to us.

We are all at Risk of Burnout.

The busier we are, how much we fill our diaries, the more we schedule and commit to, put on our ‘to-do’ list and take responsibility for, the less time we have to nurture ourselves. Whether you are working, studying or both (and maybe planning a wedding on top of those), the lack of time we give ourselves causes many of us to experience burnout. I know I have.

I am constantly on the go, I have a never-ending to-do list, and I find myself saying “Yes” to everything. As a result, my own wellbeing suffers, and when something goes wrong, I don’t have the physical or mental strength to cope. I’m tired, sick, lack motivation and self-confidence, and catch myself wanting to cry at every opportunity I can. I have burned myself out, and perhaps the worst thing about it is the effect it has had on my relationships.

Burnous can cause Major Strain to Relationships.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – your home, work, and social life will all be affected.

Being in a negative mindset can lead to constantly taking your frustrations out your partner and close friends. Even though they love and support you, when you are down, this is likely to rub off on them, creating unnecessary arguments and tension between  you. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you are likely to find yourself getting irritated at the littlest things, like the way someone has stacked the dishwasher. These little things, add up, and if unchecked, have the capacity to build up to bigger fights.

Burnout can also see you isolating yourself. Loved ones want to support us, especially when we are going through a rough time. If you keep cancelling date nights with your partner or don’t feel like hanging out with your friends, they may start to feel helpless, and like they can’t help you. Watching someone you love experience burnout can be frightening. It is easy for your partner to start questioning if the behaviour during a burnout is the new normal for your relationship.

The Importance Of Self-Care in Your Daily Routine to Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a gradual process, subtle at first, escalating  as time goes on. Think of the first symptoms as ‘red flags’ to alert you that something is wrong, and needs to be addressed. If you pay attention early and act to reduce your stress, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

The first symptoms of burnout are:

  • Feeling exhausted, tired and drained most of the time.
  • Sense of failure and doubting yourself.
  • Lowered immunity, feeling sick and run-down a lot.
  • Change in appetite, sleep or exercise habits.
  • Loss of motivation to work or exercise.
  • Feeling helpless, detached, alone and defeated.
  • Increasingly cynical, and feeling like nothing you do makes a difference.
  • Headaches or muscle pain.

When you begin feeling like that, for some of us, the first reaction is to withdraw even further from our friends and partners, stop exercising and eat junk or ‘comfort’ foods. Put simply, we stop caring for ourselves.

Self-care is something that many of us women are guilty of not prioritising or even guilty of not choosing correctly. Self-care is crucial to avoid burnout and the strain on relationships that coincide, and it’s also the key to getting through burnout when it occurs. For many, there is a perception that this means taking hours out of your day, which feels especially hard when you are already overwhelmed. However, this does not need to be the case.

If wedding planning is causing the issue, take some time out away from it, remind yourself of what’s important to you both and why you’re choosing to get married, rather than getting wrapped up in the stress of it. You can also read mental health while wedding planning.

If you feel like you have no spare time, but are aware that your busy life and demanding schedule sometimes lead you to feeling burned out, include as many of the following tips in your day-to-day routine:

Self-Care Tips to Avoid, and Overcome Burnout

1. Go for a walk

It probably sounds like the most obvious solution, but when you’re at risk of being burned out, there is nothing better than a calming walk, even if it means reducing your high-intensity exercise to make time for this. Walking is so beneficial for many reasons.

When we are feeling close to a burnout, going to the gym to do a hard, high intensity workout may actually not be the best decision, and is one that I have to remind myself of constantly. Doing a boxing class may seem like a good idea to blow off some steam and forget about all of our stresses, but once the class is over, all the stresses can come flooding back in, and adrenaline can actually make them worse. I also tend to wear myself out even more than I already am, resulting in a burnout.

Even if it is just a 20 minute walk, though you might not be burning many calories, you are still moving your body without putting any stress on your body, allowing it to rest and restore. Take your headphones, turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and allow yourself to do some thinking. This could include making a realistic plan of everything you want to achieve this week, or just switching off from ‘goals’ and allowing yourself to be grateful for your life and changing your mindset to be positive and motivated.

This week, I took four days off the gym, giving myself time to rest and recover. While meditation isn’t something I enjoy, I will often go to a yoga class to relax too, sometimes taking Blair with me.

2. At home beauty therapy

Many of us do not always have the time (or sometimes the money) to go to the beautician to get a facial or a pedicure. So long as we’re taking the time out, it’s just as beneficial to do it ourselves. I know I always feel better when I feel clean and well presented, which might just mean painting my nails. Run a bath with a relaxing bath bomb, paint your nails and apply a face mask for 20 minutes. The best thing about this is that you are in the comfort of your own home. Beauty and skincare can help you feel new again and to also feel ready to conquer that next challenge.

Personally, if I can make the time, I will sometimes make my night-time skin ritual a 20 minute one, rather than a 2 minute slap-dash-cleanse. Instead of rushing the process, I treat each part of the process as a night-time wind-down, and even choose products which will help me get to sleep each night. Every night, I massage my face for one minute with my cleanser, before applying soothing serums and a night cream with sleep-inducing qualities.

 3. A self-date

There are so many things that we can feel too scared to do by ourselves which we normally do with other people. These can include going to the movies, going to a café or even going to the zoo alone. All of these things can feel so good for our soul and are so much fun. Doing these things by ourselves allows us to feel comfortable in our own skin and teaches us to not be scared to really think about what’s going on in our life.

It also gives you an opportunity to find some fun and creative dates to do with your partner if you loved doing it by yourself, it would be so much fun with the one you love.

4. Write it all down.

Writing things down can be a great way to unwind, and get things that are stressing you out off your chest, especially if you feel like you cannot talk to anyone about what is going on. Journalling is amazing therapy. It is also a good opportunity to be able to get all your thoughts together that are making your head spin. It might make you realise that things aren’t actually as bad as you thought. Two books I have for couples to do just that are ‘our love story‘ and ‘I still do‘.

If you don’t feel like writing about what is stressing you out, you could instead write about some of your favourite memories, or set goals for the future. Blair and I use I still do every couple of months to reflect on what has been, and what is to do in the future, and of course a lot of brides-to-be use the little white book every day to write down their thoughts, feelings and emotions, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Reminiscing on memories can remind you of the good times, and motivate you to carry on with your to-do like that seems to be never ending.

5. Food

Food is so important for our bodies to function ,and when we are busy, it is something that many of us do not prioritise, especially when shit hits the fan. Balance is key. Nourishing your body with nutrients from fruit and vegetables can really help in times of stress, giving you more energy to help you push through and also making you feel less bloated and meh.

However, I know I always know that treating myself to baking or chocolate or and ice-cream helps brighten my spirits when I am down. Foods like this are totally good for our souls in moderation, so don’t beat yourself for buying a caramel slice to go with your coffee when you need a pick me up.

Food can also be a great way to practice self-care together. Baking and cooking is also a good way to destress after a long day at work or study and it’s a nice way to remind your partner you love them, even when you’re not the happiest person to be around.

6. Switch Off (Work, your computer… even Social-Media)

While some of us have the luxury of leaving our “work” at the office, many of us, including myself, do not. Realistically, even those who only work while at the physical premise, completely switching off from work is difficult to do. Further, even if social media is completely unrelated to your job, it is still a stimulant, and not conducive to relaxing.

Sometimes, it’s better to just completely switch off from social media, whether that’s by setting rules to limit your devices (i.e. not taking your phone to bed) or putting it in your bag when you get home from work. I’ve completely stopped using my phone over the last few days, and when I checked today, I’d only spent 80 minutes per day on my phone since Friday (including all texts, phone calls and even responding to urgent emails).

This will both help with feelings of being burned out, and encourage you to focus on those around you, reducing the effect of your burnout on your relationships.

7. Talk to someone else

When you are really feeling burned out, you may be complaining about it more than you realise, and it’s likely that one (or maybe two) people are on the receiving end of all of it. To avoid your burnout having a negative effect on your closest relationships, especially that with your partner, find someone else to talk to. Find another colleague or friend to lend an ear, or even look to an online group for support.

No matter how much your partner loves you, listening to you complain all the time just isn’t good for your relationship.

Remember…

Remember, it is totally ok to be selfish and take time out for yourself, and crucial to both avoiding, and getting through burnout and maintain your relationships in the process. You can only look after and love other people, if you first take the time to love and look after yourself.

Survive Wedding Season without going Broke

It’s no secret that weddings are expensive. I fell victim to blowing our wedding budget by failing to prioritise, and I encourage brides to be sensible about their wedding budget, and avoid the temptation to go into debt to pay for their wedding day.
get-through-wedding-season-without-going-broke
See also: Starting your wedding budget and Why the “average” cost of a wedding is so misleading.
However, while we freely acknowledge how expensive weddings can be for the bride and groom (and often their families), it seems almost tabooo to even consider the price of actually attending their wedding.
The reality though, is that wedding season is expensive for guests as well (and don’t even get us started on being a bridesmaid…). It’s common for all our friends’ weddings to be condensed into a couple of years, and frequently, weddings are almost back-to-back over the summer months, putting some guests at a financial strain.
As Blair’s friends are older than mine (and many of mine are miles away from the aisle), personally, we haven’t had this issue at all, but in talking to friends who are heading to five, six, seven or more weddings in a few months, it’s plain to see that weddings are sending guests broke too.

How much does it actually cost to attend a wedding?

Trying to pin a number on this would be about as helpful as boldly stating the “average” cost of a wedding (i.e. not very helpful), however, it’s certainly costing guests hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in most cases, and the costs can be crippling:

  1. Engagement Party
  2. Bridal Shower
  3. Hens Party
  4. Wedding Weekend
    1. Travel
    2. Accommodation
    3. Outfit
    4. Wedding Gift

Even if the bride and groom cover everything on the day, many guests still find the costs excessive. While noone wants to be cheap when it comes to their friends’ celebrations, many wedding guests will have to tighten their belts to be able to afford to go to all of their friends’ weddings.

How to Survive Wedding Season Without Going Broke

Don’t miss out on a friend’s special day, you can have your cake and eat it too with just a little forward planning. There are some really easy and practical ways that you can survive wedding season as a guest without going broke.
The first tip will hardly come as a shock… but just like the bride, you need to budget and plan early. Approach the attendance of each wedding as you would organising your own event. As you receive each save-the-date and wedding invitation, start budgeting around them, considering all potential expenses.

Destination Weddings

Often, you’ll be given the most notice for destination weddings, to give you as much time to plan as possible. Guest lists are typically smaller for overseas weddings, so most guests invited will want to attend their close friend or relative’s nuptials.
Many wedding guests turn overseas destination weddings into a holiday at the same time, thus making the (vast) expense much more justifiable. Given the much higher cost of attending a wedding overseas, often couples do not request wedding gifts, and frequently provide lots of planning assistance to their friends, sometimes even getting a bulk discount on flights or accommodation.
If the couple are a close friend of yours, but not your partner/spouse, consider whether you could go with one of your other girlfriends who’s going, thus cutting costs in half. If you realise early on that you will not be able to attend the wedding, be upfront with the person who invited you. If you can’t attend the wedding at all, perhaps offer to buy them dinner on their return, so you can have your own mini celebration.
Personally, our wedding was in Coromandel. We organised very cheap accommodation for them at the Holiday Park, but with lots of our friends overseas, we did have guests who couldn’t make it.  Was I offended? No. Disappointed ? Yes. But I understood. I appreciated her telling me early on and I was able to invite another friend who I was originally unable to due to numbers.
Unfortunately, two other guests who lived in Wellington waited until 10 days before the wedding to let us know that actually, despite their RSVP months ago, they wouldn’t be able to attend… It was too late to invite anyone else (even the seating plan was complete!) and this time we were offended. We haven’t seen them since… unless you count watching her on #MAFS for a few weeks (after they broke up!).

Accommodation

Even where couples aren’t heading offshore for their nuptials, often wedding guests need to book accommodation in the vicinity. The last couple of weekends, I’ve booked wedding accommodation for Waiheke Island and Mt Maunganui and shared a bach/holiday home with other couples, cutting down on expenses there. If that’s not an option, book your hotel early to get a good deal ($40 off Booking.com).
Often, you’ll spend more time away from the house/hotel than at it, between rehearsal dinners, the wedding day itself and the day-after brunch, so you don’t need to splurge on somewhere fancy.

Wedding Gifts

From my dealings with other people in the wedding industry this seems to be the thing that stresses guests out the most.
While it is customary to contribute a gift towards a couple’s future on their wedding day, if it’s already an expensive weekend away for you, and funds are tight, your friends will understand if your gift is modest.
If you want to give a gift but you are unable to afford what you would like to give, If you think about what skills you have. Are you crafty – can you offer to do the cards? Or even offer to put together the wedding photos in an albulm once they are printed. Are you a makeup artist that can offer to do the bridal party makeup? Are you involved in the hospitality industry? A gift does not have to be a tangible item. think outside the square. Recently, a friend of mine went to a wedding where she gave a weekend aways accommodation to her parents amazing flash holiday house as a wedding gifts. Do not let lack of money ruin this part of the celebration.
Even if you don’t have a particular skill or a holiday house, a thoughtful note with a small gift you have hand-picked for the couple will be just as appreciated, and for many couples, it’s your presence they want most.

How else can you cut costs?

  • It may be that both the bachelorette party and the wedding is out of town. Consider if you cant afford to do both, can you afford to just attend the wedding?
  • In terms of travel, if not accommodation, can you buddy up with another couple or group and drive?
  • If you don’t know anyone else going to the wedding just ask the bride or groom – chances are there will be another person in exactly the same boat as you, so ask the bride and groom if they can recommend anyone to travel with, or even stay with.
  • While often the couple getting married recommends lodges or accommodation nearby the venue or where they are staying, with the world of air bnb and the like do your research as to what is the cheapest and most sensible way for you to save money.
  • If you’re a bride or groom reading this, and you know two people who won’t know anyone else at your wedding, maybe approach them both separately about travelling together or bunking down for accommodation.

Saving Money During Wedding Season

After you have budgeted how much you will need to cover wedding season, start saving well in advance. If your friends have just recently got engaged, you already know there’ll be a couple of weddings next wedding season.
A trick I learned (which you would see in relation to me justifying my wedding dress by cutting my cup of coffee) is treating wedding season like ‘entertainment’. In the weeks before wedding season, cut down on going out to the movies, concerts and going out for expensive dinners. Between bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners and the wedding itself, you will be doing plenty of eating and socialising in the weeks to come. A bit of sacrifice now means more pay off later down the track.
Finally, rent, reuse and recycle (and I’m not talking about the gift here). When considering your outfit/hair and make up – you are not the star of the show. Save your money on hair and makeup and look up some easy makeup and hair tutorials on pinterest or youtube. Borrow a dress from a friend, rent a dress from one of the many places available, or buy a staple item like a plain coloured dress and mix it up between weddings with accessories. Just don’t wear white!
Finally, if your friends are all at a stage when they are probably going to be getting engaged shortly, start putting aside a small amount of money each week (even $5) so that when the time comes you already have a nest egg to start with.
Unfortunately, once you have considered all the costs involved, you may come to the realisation that you can afford to go to all the weddings you are invited to. You must therefore decide whose wedding that you can go to and whose you cannot if your budget does not allow. Weigh up all your relationships and prioritise your invitations. While you will inevitably feel guilty, my personal view is attending weddings shouldn’t make you broke.
What are your tips and tricks to save money when attending weddings? Have I missed out any? I’d love to know what you think x