Tag Archives: Miss Manners

Affording catering for small budget weddings: It’s a problem

Food is a problem for low budget weddings.

Let’s say you have $2500 to spend on your wedding. Let’s say you have 75 guests – not a modest amount, not a crowd. The first thing is, with this many people, your wedding will take quite a few hours. In order to host 75 people without snubbing any of them, you’re probably looking at at least 8 hours of wedding. And because there is no 8 hour stretch of wakefulness that doesn’t involve at least one meal, you’re going to have to give them, at a minimum, one meal’s worth of food. And because this is a celebration, odds are very high that you want to give them some booze too.

So there is no getting out of doing a lot of food, unless you have a really low number of guests. If you had say 35 guests or less, you could get away with just having them for a few hours, and if that’s not during a meal time, you can all just eat some cake and call it done.

But back to the 75 scenario, because I think it’s a good benchmark of wedding averageness. If you put $2500 into my favourite toy, the wedding budget calculator, and uncheck a bunch of stuff, because this is a budget wedding, and we don’t have room for a day-of coordinator, the result is a suggested breakdown that goes like this:

Celebrant: 52
Flowers: 330
Other decoration: 108
Drinks: 289
Food: 722
Bride’s dress: 309
Attendants gifts: 62
Groom’s outfit: 52
Photography: 505
Invitations: 72

This is assuming you somehow have a free venue to host 75 people (you probably don’t), you forgo cake or use it as the dessert for your meal, you don’t buy special shoes, etc etc. There is $722 for food here, and $289 for drinks. That’s $9.63 and $3.85 per person, for food and drinks and respectively. I don’t even need to write a punchline here.

Or let’s say you have 75 guests and $2500, and the couple wears clothes they already own, and they DIY decorations for free, and they email their invitations, and don’t have a photographer, and they get rid of all expenses except food and drink. $2500/75 = $33.33 per person, for a meal and drinks. Which maybe is just enough, if you self-cater, and are very shrewd about your drink offerings.

But this is a wedding. You want to make it meaningful, by having some of the common trappings of weddings, which is going to cost you at least a little bit of money.

The $2500 figure is based on being half of what the median income wedding-haver can afford by saving 10% of their post-tax income for a year. But it’s just not all that possible to have an average size wedding on that amount. Some variable is going to have to give.

Have a smaller wedding? People shouldn’t have to miss out on celebrating with a reasonable number of guests just because they have a small budget.
Save a greater portion of your income? But if your income is low, that’s hard to do.
Have a longer engagement, so you can save for a longer time? Maybe. But 12 months is already a long time to be saving for a consumable.

Maybe this post is just about grumbling a little about the cost of living in NZ. If we had higher wages or cheaper food, this wouldn’t be an issue!

The only solutions I can think of are: 1) Parents help fund the wedding, or 2) Make the wedding a bring-and-share event where guests each contribute ‘a plate of eats’, as they always used to be called in my childhood (do people still say that? A plate of eats? Sounds so old fashioned now).

I’m sure Miss Manners would be aghast at the idea of asking guests to contribute to the wedding like this. I mean, she’s already made herself very clear on the issue of cash bars. And I see her point: getting a wedding invitation would be more like a demand than getting invited to something. You can’t demand gifts. The only way a community chipping in could work, as far as I can see, is if the guests spontaneously self-organise a kind of surprise wedding reception. (And yet, we do see potluck weddings on blogs fairly often. How did these couples break that to the guests?)

So we’re left with parents contributing. I’m becoming more and more ok with that idea.

How we’re crafting the ceremony: Opening thoughts

As I write this, there’s just a little over three months to the wedding. How did that happen so fast? Combined with the fact that my very first bridal blogger-in-arms, Rogue Bride (you never forget your first), already had her wedding a few weeks ago, it’s starting to feel kind of serious. I’ve suddenly spent less time wedding theorising, and less time wedding fantasising via other blogs than I have since…oh who knows how long, and more time making spreadsheets, putting together a playlist, researching beach games to have at the reception, and thinking about the ceremony. The other day I had my first two official wedding nightmares of things going wrong on the day. A rite of passage, folks! Anyway, let me talk about how we’re approaching the ceremony.

First of all, Miss Manners’ take on it is that personalising your ceremony, especially if that means making it less solemn, is an affront to the dignified tradition of wedding ceremonies. She’s all for just going with whatever traditional wording your belief system/culture has always used. Once again, Miss Manners is halfway right.  Tradition is a strong way of imparting meaning (I also discussed that here). And that’s all well and good for people who readily identify with a given belief system. But for those of us who don’t, we’re forced to reinvent things, one couple at a time.

For instance, I don’t believe in the supernatural (including souls/spirits/ghosts, any kind of higher power, and the idea of fate). But I was raised in a Protestant community in South Africa, and between M and I, the majority of our extended family have this belief system. The customs associated with the culture are still my customs, and they can still have meaning for me even without the supernatural beliefs. I am very fond of Christmas, and damned if I’m not going to participate in giving presents just because I don’t consider Jesus my saviour. I just leave out the praying and the church-going (singing carols is still fun though). So what I want to do is adapt the Anglican, or really just general western, wedding ceremony, by leaving out the religious bits, thus rendering our wedding recognisable, traditional, and hence meaningful to everyone, while also not feeling like a charlatan.

Part of this is about the general tone the ceremony will take. Sometimes, I think the tendency towards ceremony is like a personality quirk. Kiwis tend to be  irreverent about these things, while South Africans tend to the opposite. I often read online about couples that wanted to make sure their wedding ceremony wasn’t serious and stuffy, and they consider it a success that their ceremony was filled with lightheartedness and laughter, and vows like “I promise to buy you chocolate when you’re upset”. I think it’s to do with feeling comfortable, and maybe if you’re not raised in it, ceremony is not something you feel comfortable with. The way I grew up though, in order to acknowledge that getting married is a big freaking deal, it’s serious, there needs to be some solemnity to it.

Then on the other hand, just secularising a religious ceremony isn’t going to cut it, because there are sentiments we want expressed that aren’t included in the traditional texts. Or are even the opposite of the traditional themes at weddings. Like, our love is not unconditional, and I don’t aspire for it be. I also don’t buy the idea that a successful marriage is about sacrifice, or is an exercise in tolerance. And I want to talk about being each others’ highest priorities, and how we are going to be a team in everything in life. So I need to find readings that reflect this stuff, without being publicly mushy, which I think is also a personality quirk that some people have and some people don’t.

And then we also need to acknowledge the fact that by the time this ceremony happens, we will already be legally married. I don’t want to mislead people about what is actually going on. So I need to find some wording that talks about that while still saying that actually though, its this emotions-only ceremony that is the one that matters to us.

Finally, on that note: some dress news. I went three times to try on that Karen Millen dress. The second time, some embroidery was coming undone on an elbow. They sent it back to be fixed, but it wasn’t fixed properly, but it was fixed enough that people wouldn’t notice. The third time, I took the fiance with me, and some embroidery was coming undone on the chest. Plus it became apparent we’d need to remove the shoulder pads, and then M said it looks like a doily. He says that about anything involving lace or embroidery, but he had a point that maybe I didn’t look my best self. And of course, that sucker was expensive. So I’m not getting it. The hunt resumes.

Purpose of weddings: It’s not about the legalities

Alternative titles for this post:

A case for multi-wedding marriages
or
A dress! You guys, check at this dress!*

M and I are New Zealanders. In New Zealand, once two people have been living together as a couple for three years, the de facto partnership they are in has practically the same legalities around it as an actual marriage. For instance, if you break up, assets would be split fifty-fifty. You enter this phase of financial union without doing a thing – the couple doesn’t have to go somewhere, or sign something, or make any declarations. It just becomes a truth that everything is now jointly owned.

We reached our three year mark right about the same time that we moved to Singapore. Before that though, we’d already completely merged our finances anyway. We were in it together, man. And then Singapore happened, which just further cemented the fact that as a couple, we were a done deal. Obviously emotionally, yes: if following your partner to a foreign country because he got a job there isn’t commitment, I don’t know what is. But also legally: the way the visa  situation works, M is here by what is known as an employment pass, while I am here as his dependent. The paperwork included going to the NZ High Commission to write signed statements, witnessed by an official, about how long we’ve had joint bank accounts and the like. We are officially recognised in Singapore as having a common-law marriage, and it’s what allows me to stay here with him.

It gets worse. For years we’ve had the habit of referring to each other as each other’s partner, but here in Asia, a lot of people don’t get that. And most people I’ve come across really don’t get living together before marriage.  Seriously, the number of times I’ve had to explain that we’re not married, but we live together, but it’s like being married, and actually, this is very common in NZ and it would be unusual not to live together first. So for the almost two years we’ve been living here, we’ve gotten used to just calling each other husband and wife when talking to locals. Makes conversation with a chatty cab driver that much simpler.

So why are we even getting married, when it doesn’t really change much? Well, for one, its going to be a bit more convenient to actually have a marriage certificate instead of having to prove our commitment in other ways. But for us, getting married, or more accurately, having a wedding, is not about the legal stuff at all. We’re doing it for two main reasons:

1. Making explicit all the implicit promises that we have already made to each other, and doing it in a way that our community recognises. I hate to be quoting Sex and The City, but Miranda put it perfectly, in the episode where she marries Steve: “I do actually wanna say those vows, out loud, to Steve. In front of the people I care about”

2. Acknowledging, along with our family and friends, that loving each other so much that we want to share the entire rest if our lives together, is awesome. We’ve been lucky enough to find our person, and that’s amazing, frankly, even if it is a miracle that happens to lots of people. It’s worthy of a big-ass celebration.

So once I figured out that the legal part of this wedding will be much easier to handle in Singapore than in Indonesia (for starters, Singaporeans use English), we made the decision to get the meaningless, five minute, registry office ceremony done a few days before the emotional, poignant readings, personalized vows, ring exchange ceremony at the resort.

My intention was to approach the legal thing as much like paperwork formality as possible – we’d show up in whatever we were wearing that day, sign what we needed to sign, and be done. But, it turns out, we need two witnesses. And there’s a dress code. The info online literally specifies that shorts and flip flops aren’t appropriate. What up, we live in those things.

So that means my man can wear his office wear, and I…well, I don’t look my best in my formal office wear. The thing is, for men, formal professional wear and formal social wear are the same thing. For women, they are kind of vastly different. Miss Manners discusses this issue here. And since our legal ceremony will be socially formal, and not professionally formal, I was instantly launched into fashion fantasies of a Kate Middleton-like nature.

Which brings me to this dress. I won’t bore you with listing the ways it is perfection, I’ll just let you see for yourself:

Karen Millen, I salute you.

I tend to be uber fussy, I mean discerning, about my clothes, but this one is hitting so many nails on so many heads, that when it comes to this dress, I just can’t. I just can’t not obsess over it. 

You complete me.

The only nailhead it doesn’t hit is the price.

Don’t speak. I know just what you’re saying.

You’re saying, “Lindsay, I thought this was a frugal wedding, you sell out.”

Yeah, the dress is over SG$500, and that’s not even addressing the shoe issue. So here’s the deal: it’s not coming out of my wedding budget, it’s coming out of my everyday budget. Plus I can totally wear it again. Right?! Also, you know how I just said my taste is very discerning? When my local friends just read that, they were all surprised and thought about how my ubiquitous plain t-shirt with denim shorts does not exactly reflect a keen sartorial eye. Here’s the sad truth: I’m so damn fussy about clothes, that I almost never find something that fits the bill, and hence I almost never buy new stuff, and hence, I mostly wear pretty old things that were acquired as gifts, or purchased in the days before my fussiness went stratospheric. The upshot is, I spend so little on clothes, that I can actually justify this.

Then there’s the witnesses issue for the legal ceremony. M wants his brother to be his, and I would like my mother to be mine. But since I’m all dressed up and such, and all our immediate family members will be in town, it doesn’t seem right to leave them out. We’re allowed to bring up to 20 guests to the registry office. So we’re going have all our immediate family come. And since we’re doing that, well, maybe we should all go to TWG afterwards and drink champagne and eat a macaroon or two.

Suddenly, it appears I’m having two weddings. But I don’t want to look at it like that. I still consider our non-legal ceremony on the beach to be our real wedding, the one that’s important. Now we just also have a fancy family morning tea to go with it. And the fact that I get to have both beach party princess, and elegant urbanite dresses, well, I’m not too sad about that.

*Yes, check at. That’s how we spoke where I grew up, mmkay?

Choose your bridesmaids by not overthinking it

Have you guys noticed the amount of bridesmaid drama on the blogs? It’s an ever-popular topic for the Ask Your Blogger to Solve Your Dilemma type of advice columns (you know, those contrived melodrama columns that make me yawn so). East Side Bride receives so many emails about bridesmaid crap that she started a second blog devoted to simply posting the emails. She quaintly calls it My Maid of Honor is a Cunt.

I think what is going on is that, like so many others things, the role of the bridesmaid has become regarded as ceremonial necessity. It’s not a proper wedding without at least one, and the role of the bridesmaid has become weirdly formalised. Take for example the list of tasks the bridesmaid is supposed to perform – The Knot (who else?), gives 24 duties. Now granted, some of these are not actually jobs, there’s plenty of fluff in there like “Keep the bride laughing” (memo to my bridesmaids: if you don’t extract at least one laugh from me per every 5 minutes of wedding reception, I’m cutting you from my friends list), but there is some legit actual work in there too. Let us take a sampling:

  • Make sure everyone gets their bridesmaid  dresses, go to dress fittings, and find the right jewelry
  • Host or cohost a bridal  shower for the bride.
  • Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers (Wha..?)
  •  Plan the bachelorette party with the bridesmaids
  • Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe  place
  • Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be  announced with him at the beginning of the party. Also dance with other  groomsmen, the groom, and others.

What is the dance sequence stuff? That sounds like it belongs, if anywhere, in a world where young ladies also have such a thing as a debut into society, followed by attending balls as a means of finding a husband, and men ask for permission from their love’s father before proposing, and the wedding is paid for by the bride’s family, and that all sounds a bit like Regency England, or maybe a wealthy old money subset of southern US. I always get those two mixed up. I think it’s the carriages. Except even Emma and Mr Knightley did not hold a private ball as a wedding reception, so, burn. This formalised dance sequence oddness does not belong in our world, ok? What is it with this urge to build elaborate etiquette ceremonial behaviour into things that don’t need it?

And the same applies to the other alleged official duties of the bridesmaids. Act as official collecter of gifts? A shower and a bachelorette? (Quick aside: Words that are feminised by adding ‘ette’ or ‘ess’ on the end irritate my feminist sensibilties. Manageress? I don’t think so. My people don’t use the term bachelorette, we have Hen’s nights).

Anyway, I really like how Miss Manners describes the duty of bridesmaids. There’s only one: be a friend. Just, be a friend. Also note, there is nothing about matching clothing.

Things get so much simpler once you start ascribing to this view. No longer is the success/legitimacy of your wedding dependent on your bridesmaids’ ability to look equally ravishing in dresses of the same cut and shade of Tangerine Tango. Who cares if they suck at putting together a celebration of penises I mean Hen’s night. And hence, all angst surrounding bridesmaid antics or lack thereof, are instantly dissolved.

By extension, the angst of deciding who your bridesmaids should be also dissolves. In my opinion, you should only have attendants that are obvious choices. In fact, since their job is to be a friend, they choose themselves…by being your friend. The person who spontaneously decides to arrange a shower for you (if this happens, you should look into your daily hygiene habits. Hah! I kill myself), is performing the standard role of attendant, so then it becomes obvious to go ahead and call them an attendant. After we got engaged, my dear friend Z, who resides in Perth,  didn’t waste time going “We get to throw you a Hen’s night!” while dear friend R, who is living the Parisian dream, went “Oooh, can I please make you a garter? Or a ring pillow?” These chicks also happen to be close confidantes, so, done.

So easy. So simple. So melodrama-free.

You probably need a wedsite

First, an update: Yay we have found a venue and set a date, you guys! Nothing has been officially signed yet, and we still have some details to hash out (primarily menu stuff), but it’s definitely happening on that date and in that place. I’ll write about the process in a future post, but basically, oh man was it a relief to find a place that could do what we wanted at a reasonable budget. I’m so excited knowing that it’s actually possible now. When I received the quotes that made me happy, I told my dad and instead of getting psyched he reiterated the importance of not cheaping out the guests. Dad I promise everyone will have plenty to eat and drink, ok? I think the poor guy is maybe a little in shock at the extent to which I’m willing to pare things down, and bears pretty patiently the fact that I don’t want a Wedding Dress. So maybe he’s allowed concerns about food 🙂

So I’m preparing to send out the STDs mass email to all the guests so they can start booking flights and so on. And there will be a lot of questions. I can see them now:
Where can we stay?
How do we get there?
Do I need a visa?
Just exactly how ridiculously hot and humid is it, over there?
Will it be monsoon season? What happens in monsoon season?
What should we wear?

Back in the days when people lived in the same town as everyone they knew, these questions would have mostly been non-existent. And if there were any questions (What present should we give you?), Miss Manners tells me this kind of stuff was handled by the guest asking the mother of the bride. Especially when it comes to gifts, there was this system of discreetly approaching someone close to the couple. Kind of like how your Mom discusses with you what to get your fiancé for Christmas. It’s a very civilised practice, relieving the giver from admitting to the recipient they’re not sure what to get them, and relieving the recipient from the rudeness of demanding something from the giver. Win win.

But alas, here we are with our darn modern lives again, having friends and family in places other than the same town we live in, dammit. So, many questions will happen. And each person asking them will all be given the same answers. It just makes a crapload of sense to put this information together for people to check on at their convenience. Hence, wedding websites.

Wedding websites are in the same category as save-the-dates*: a recent wedding innovation that actually makes sense, but is very vulnerable at this cultural juncture to getting out of hand and being more stupid than useful.

For instance, a wedding is not a PR event. Not a PR event. Not a PR event. Here are some things that are not required at things that aren’t PR events:

  • branding
  • a background story about how the company was founded how you met
  • profiles of the keynote speakers people getting married
  • how to make donations to the charity people adult enough to get married

The people you invited already know who you are. Frankly, to imply otherwise is kind of weird and alienating, no? The wedsite should be for logistical purposes only. It is not a branding exercise. But probably, if you have lots of traveling guests, it’s a good idea to have one.

The good news, wedding websites are free! Yay! Offbeat Bride for example offers several templates. 

If you were going to have a registry, this would probably be the place to tuck that information, in as non-obnoxious a way as you can think of. To be honest my jury is still out on that one, but I lean heavily towards no registry – we’re asking people to travel, for goodness sake, plus they’ll be obliged to spend the night at a resort of my choosing. I think that seriously maxes out my demand quota.

Ok, I’m going to go ahead now and spend some time putting our wed site together, so the link is ready dissemination when we email everyone the date. Yay! We have a date!

*Does that term need hyphens or not? Kindly place your vote.

Save-the-dates are stupid

The whole reason we have a crop of anti-[wedding]-establishment blogs is because the stuff that is getting institionalised is growing. More things keep getting added into weddings. I guess this is how cultures evolve and forms get established. We’re certainly dealing with a different set of circumstances than say, a generation ago (how much easier would this entire thing be if most of my people lived in the same city? Jeez). And I’m all about adapting the institution of weddings to reflect the fact that our lives work differently. But sometimes the changes in wedding culture make things worse, instead of better. Like freakin’ save-the-dates.

First off, their acronym in wedding blogdom is STDs. Have you sent out your STDs yet? Snort! Ahem, continuing on…

Did you know that when you invite people to somethng, it’s polite to give them an out? The out is that they have other plans. That is THE acceptable excuse to use if you don’t want to attend something. Oh, except also you can say that you “won’t be able to make it”. Those are your two options. It’s very rude to let on that you just can’t be arsed, yknow? So when you’re inviting someone, you need to spare them the awkwardness of insulting you, and essentially give them an opportunity to say they already have other plans. But also you need to give them notice.

This is why, for a party at your house, you invite people say 10 days before – a nice period of time when most people won’t yet have that night blocked out, but it’s reasonable that they might. Works a treat. But weddings are more important. Plenty of people might want to make sure they can come, so they need more notice than 10 days. And this is why ettiquette guidelines say the guests should receive their invitations 6 weeks prior to the wedding. It’s a concession to the fact that weddings are a big deal.

But these days it’s worse. Damn our freaking international lives (I miss my family). If people want to come, 6 weeks is not nearly enough time! Even 6 months is barely enough when it comes to organising leave, booking flights etc. You don’t want to know how many people are emailing me going, We need to know the date already! (Aaaagh, I know you do! I feel bad I can’t tell you yet! I’m on it! I’ll let you know asap, I promise!)

So when it’s going to involve extensive travel and plan making, you need to give people A LOT of advance notice. Like ideally a year probably. Here’s the delicate part though: it’s too early to actually invite them, because that early on, they don’t have an out. They can’t say they’ve got prior plans. They can’t say that they’d love to be there but can’t make it – because look, you’ve given them a year to save up for it! That’s why we need STDs (heehee!), something that functions less as an invitation, and more as a kind of announcement, that doesn’t require any personal response.

And how do we make announcements these days? Why, with facebook of course. And group emails, so deliciously impersonal. I’m going to go with the email, to make sure the right people, and only the right people, see it. Here’s how announcements about big events in one’s life are not communicated this century: with specially designed little postcards, fridge magnets or other such gimmicky crap, featuring a picture of yourself and a cutesy saying like “Eat, drink and be married”. When someone has a baby, do they specially design and post out little cards? When someone is moving to Singapore, do they send out magnets with their name and new address or do they email relevant people and then write it in their status on facebook?

The conundrum that gives rise to the need for STDs (snigger, it never gets old) is relatively recent, and the issue of how to address it has not yet been fully resolved. It’s interesting to watch how weddings are in a state of flux about this one. STDs are not yet fully institutionalised, lots of people don’t hardly know about them, are confused by them and RSVP to them. The option I’ve seen much more often is to simply send the invitation itself really early on, but as discussed above, that has its issues. The wedding world has enough random crap, and it’s laughably unaffordable already. I feel like we need to fight back against the STDs (zinger!!) whilst we still have the chance to prevent them from becoming non-optional.

No STDs for me! (GOLD.)

Rethinking Miss Manners: Invitations and formality

I finally got myself a copy of Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, and I devoured that sucker more or less instantaneously. I love her approach to ettiquette: it mostly boils down to making people feel comfortable, and taking care not to offend them. It’s not about rules for the sake of form, and she’s unwavering in rejecting old traditions that make no sense. What I like best is how she applies her general prinicples to modern issues by creating contemporary versions of old forms. Just sometimes, though, she doesn’t get it quite right, like the whole destination wedding thing. Today I’m going to talk about invitations.

The levels of formality in correspondence, according to Miss Manners, go like this:
Third person engraved or calligraphy invitation
First person handwritten letter
Email
Phone call
Word of mouth.

Only Tier 1 is considered formal, Tier 2 is informal, and poor old email is “That most informal of communications”. So if you are sending out wedding invitations, your options are a formal engraved/letterpress/calligraphied invitation in third person, or to handwrite a letter on your supposed personal stationery where you say something like, “Dear Granny, I’d love you to come to our wedding…”

Well, first of all, she needs to get with the program on forms of printing that aren’t engraving or calligraphy (which incidentally, are damn expensive). That’s just not the world we live in. And then secondly, it’s not true that email can’t be formal. I’ve sent and received a billion formal business emails. Roughly, email today fills exactly the same niche that handwritten letters did before internet. It’s how we talk to our friends, it’s how we get business done.

So Miss Manners’ recommendations need to be adjusted down a notch. A handwritten letter is so rare these days, that that stuff is formal. And email is fine for almost anything she would want handwritten.

And as usual, I’m obsessed with the idea that wedding receptions need to reflect more our actual lives and culture, and reflect less our inner fantasy to live inside the world of Pride and Prejudice. Because unless you’re pretty wealthy, it’s not going to be like the Bingleys. And the bridal party will look like they’re at a different event from the guests. That’s a pet peeve.

USA-ian bloggers kind of give a different impression*, but the in the world that I live in, letterpress and calligraphy invitations do not happen even for the big special parties. My Dad is having a biggish 60th birthday bash this weekend – I’m pretty sure he just emailed people. 21st parties generally involve a home-designed, home-printed DIY invitation.

We want to have a beach party reception that maybe includes swimming: NOT FORMAL. So I’m not seeing the need for major *jazz hands* invitations. But, it is our wedding. It’s still very very special. I’m thinking handwritten cards, written in first person in my best cursvive (I’ve been loving this idea since this post on ESB).

And dudes, save-the-dates. Let’s not make that a thing, when it doesn’t need to be. That shit is going to be a group email. Done.

*Americans, seriously, do you guys really give out fancy invitations for birthday parties, or is that just blogdom misleading me? I’d actually love to know.