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By Pamela Miller
The phone rings. The bouncy over-caffeinated voice on the other end doesn’t accept that five in the morning is too early for greetings. There is important news to share, the kind that can’t wait for dawn to crack or the sleeping pill to leave the system. So you have the Judy Garland “where’s my morning wake me up?” moment, growl a bit, and ask what was so important that the curvature of the earth should not be respected.
The bubbly voice on the phone says, “I’m getting married! It’s going to be next January in Boston!”
The only acceptable response is, “That’s great. I’ll be staying in Phoenix.”
There are some things in life that probably could be ignored completely. Skip one family holiday, there’ll be another one next year. But miss a graduation, Bat Mitzvah, wedding or quinceanera, and people will actually take your absence as a personal insult. Relatives will whisper about you while waiting in line at the movie theatre. Headlines in the local paper will read: “Everyone Attended But One Cousin—Family Reunion Ruined.” A mother will shake her head in disbelief that she brought into the world the Spawn of Satan, aka the only family member to ditch the Memorial Day Picnic/Weenie Roast. (The classic vegetarian appeaser of “we’ll eat the hot dogs, you can eat a bun,” really doesn’t stamp this event a winner.)
The obvious question is will it still be a Super Sweet 16 if I’m not there? If my presence, or the presence of every cold hating human meant anything, you should have been born in August. Grandma’s 90th birthday can certainly wait until there are buds on the trees and the scent of fresh rain and honey blossoms in the air.
Rather than planning an elaborate bash during the time of the year one should be hibernating in a dark cave with hot chocolate on tap, wouldn’t it be better to either change the date or plan your affair somewhere much nicer than the Arctic Circle. If people find your chosen hamlet only slightly better than the Ninth Circle of Hell, respect that.
The keys to getting people to attend the grand affair are simple:
1) Plan the event somewhere pleasant. Think about places people choose to go on vacation rather than towns they escaped as soon as they were legal. And make certain that it’s close to airports and multiple forms of transportation. Your vision of people riding a mule up the mountain at sunset—never going to happen.
2) Avoid the cold months. You do this by first identifying your hemisphere. Northerners might wish to cross October to April off the list. (If you’re in Reykjavik, only July and August are acceptable. May in Iceland is the equivalent of deepest winter for someone with thin blood from years of living in the desert.)
3) Offer to pay the travel and lodging for all out of town guests. Forget the slightly reduced hotel package offer and the little gift bag. Ten bucks off a night and a muffin really doesn’t help curtail travel costs. Here is the absolute truth: No one wants to spend $400 on a plane ticket, pay for two nights in a hotel, and still have to cough up transportation, food, tip money and a present so they can celebrate your love, your progeny or the love of your progeny. And it’s utter nonsense to say that you’ll be paid back in kind when you have an event. Not everyone follows the same life path. Dropping out of a Ph.D. program, joining a vampire cult, or getting out of prison don’t have the same cache as marriage or children. You might want to celebrate becoming Amish, but others might not even bother checking your buggy shop/mercantile gift registry.
4) No costumes! This can’t be emphasized enough. The definition of a costume is anything unfamiliar to the wearer. For example, a bridesmaid’s dress is a costume. It’s a cruel hoax perpetrated on the people most uncomfortable at said blessed event. If people are coming from far and wide, let them wear whatever they want.
It might be your event, but it’s my vacation time. In order to help all future event planners, here is a list of places I wouldn’t mind going on your dime. It doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding, circumcision or reading of the will. If you’re paying, I’m going. You’d think as a travel writer, I would have a holiday budget. Not so, dear readers. My next travel experience will be Detroit in July, and I had to cough up the airfare. I’ll be sleeping on a sofa in suburbia, not dining at the Ritz. I might have to hold babies and be nice to puppies.
Here are a few places I’ve yet to see:
Copyright © 2010 by Pamela Miller
Copyright © 2010 by Pamela Miller
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Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller