All posts by Derek

Why We Love June (and you should, too!)

It’s our wedding anniversary month (!),

It’s Father’s Day & I have two amazing sons (!!),  and…


…it’s Pride month!   Happy Pride!


 

Plenty to celebrate, and since Taylor Street is all about celebrating, we love June!

There is a common thread to these celebrations, and to all celebrations — and that is the sense of community each promotes.   There is a sense of belonging and acceptance — and love — that is created when you and I take time to honor tradition, our families, our respect for one-another.  And while modern families are increasingly diverse, at their core they remain much the same…

 

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So we are going to share stories of people and their celebrations — of all types — this next year.  Why?  We will support the sense of community, celebrate its members, and strengthen our collective bond.  Because, as Lin -Manuel Miranda said in his amazing acceptance speech, “Love is love”, nothing here is promised – not one day.

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#loveislove #NoH8 #lovewins #LGBTPride #Pride

 

 

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” -The Wizard of Oz –

Awwwh – always have loved that quote!  To celebrate Father’s Day, we have pulled together a few gift ideas for you.  Some are DIY, some are more affordable than others, and a few are available personalized.  We carry a number of these, and I’ve provided links to those we don’t.  Gift, card, or hug (or all three!) – go spread some love this Father’s Day.

FATHER’S DAY PICNIC

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$ – up to you  Pack a picnic lunch using whatever you have at home, include a frisbee or a football, and head out to one of Dad’s favorite locations — or maybe it’s just into the back yard!

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$21.60   Do you know Dad’s favorite super hero?  We’ve got an awesome selection so dad can be even more super than he already is…

DARTH VADER & SON 

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$9-hardcover, $2 – Kindle   My favorite part of this re-imagining of the Dark Lord as involved parent – Take your child to work day…on the Death Star.  Available on Amazon here.  Books that are fun for both kids and adults are hard to find…Jeffrey Brown did it with this.

PERSONALIZED PHOTO KEEPSAKE BOX

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$27.00   This keepsake box lid holds a 3 X 5 photo and purchase includes engraving. Keeps treasures safe & sound.

WALL MOUNT BOTTLE OPENER 

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$29.95   Useful, well-made, and a great addition to basement pub.

FAMILY PORTRAIT

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$ – varies  I found this project by Alexandra Hedin on Design Sponge.  It is amazing.  We are going to try this at our home, following the directions she has provided here.  I will take some pictures as we go and show you the end product.

Wishing all the dads a Happy Father’s Day!

 

The “I Do Crew” …for those couples doing things a bit differently… .

Many newly engaged couples, gay and straight, are involving friends and family members in their weddings in more creative and personal ways, redefining traditional gender-based bridesmaids & groomsmen roles.


[And really, why can’t brides and grooms have their BFF’s stand with them at the alter regardless of gender?]


Increasingly, today’s modern couples — whether two brides, two grooms or a bride and groom — are choosing to co-create their wedding ceremony from the ground up, mixing cultural and religious traditions with unique elements, and creating new terminology to fit.

Whatever your reason – here are a few examples of interesting and modern takes on wedding rituals, and some fun alternative names for your wedding party too.

Wedding colors:  Couples are managing the all-to-familiar bridesmaid matching outfit and coordinating groomsmen tradition with a much lighter touch.  Couples are selecting a color (or two) and inviting a close circle of friends and family to wear the color(s). Sometimes instructions include a particular article of clothing (bow tie / socks / shirt or blouse color) and sometimes the request is simply to include that color in whatever outfit is chosen. Not only are couples able to involve more people than they might if the wedding color was limited to the more traditional gang up front, it looks awesome when it comes time for pictures.  David and I went this route, but in hindsight didn’t take the idea far enough.  We now wish we would have had his mom and my dad wear some “poppy orange” too [really – see picture!].

Non-traditional processional – rather than the 2X2, invite your closest friends, and wedding party participants to walk down the aisle at the start of your ceremony with their respective significant others and then sit in reserved rows at the front. This eliminates the need to have everyone pair up nicely…and means you can forget about requiring an equal number of attendants for each “side of the aisle”. Isn’t it more natural and enjoyable if a family with children move as a clump, or if you have a friend who is happily single, stride down your aisle individually?

Combined bridesmaid-groomsmen party – Why not!  Especially if you each already have both men and women as attendants, why not have a co-ed party involving both groups.  Not only do these people then have more of a chance to get to know each other, you can have some fun with your best friends while getting to know your future spouse’s best friends – win/win.

And now, a few alternative terms that are gender neutral and more encompassing too. 

The safe, tried-and-true choice:  “attendants” or “entourage”

Lighthearted:   team [fill in the name of groom(s) or bride(s)];

And these too:  party people, wedding squad, bridal brigade paired with groom squad.

idocrewMy personal favorite is the “I Do Crew” .  It’s catchy, gender neutral, and – for me – a little bit sentimental.

…and it makes a great hashtag.   #idocrew

Assembling a Mini-cube Favor Box

You’ve got this!  A few simple steps and your mini-cube favor boxes will be ready for you to fill.  If you ordered lots of these, stop reading and go find a friend or two to do this with you before continuing.  You do not need glue, tape or scissors.  You do need to take your time and follow these instructions carefully for the first few boxes.  Once you’ve got a few done you will be able to adjust these instructions to your abilities – including any perfectionistic tendencies you may have…like me.  Send us a picture when you’re done!  And thank you Event Blossom for these images.  David and I work with many wedding favor wholesalers and Event Blossom’s attitude is reliably helpful and reasonable.  We believe strongly that attitude is important.  It’s a feeling — an approach — and we know our attitude influences everything from your satisfaction with Taylor Street to your box building success.  So are clear instructions…

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Begin with the end in mind – so now that you know you have a two piece box to create…let’s build the top first.  And no – do not skip over the pre-folding step.  It helps make the finished box much more square if you take the time to pre-fold creases.  That said — you also don’t want to go over the creases too heavily as it will damage the glossy finish on the paper. 1025HowTo1

Last steps for the top…

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Now for the box itself…

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Do these next steps in order – the big tab must be last to be folded down…

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Done!1025HT20-764x1024

Don’t forget to send us that image – info@tsfavors.com.

A Little Inspiration Goes A Long Way

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I haven’t written a post in awhile  — since November 8 I haven’t felt inspired, honestly — not an okay space to set up shop and wallow in for long.  So, just in case you too find yourself motivation-challenged, I’ve linked to three recent posts from a few of my favorite sources that are helping me to get up and go — to work.

Parisian Walkways:  Passage du Grand-Cerf, by Jeffrey T Iverson

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I love reading this online magazine.  I mean – it’s Paris!  But more than the city itself, this article’s inspiration comes from the small shop owners, who have taken a chance, focused on their trade, and believe in the value of a well-made item.  These artisans take pride in their work and the master-craft traditions they preserve. Many of them also set up shop originally when this passage was a neglected eye-sore and stuck with it.  These stories helped to reenergize my passion for Taylor Street Favors, our wedding favors and gift business, whose inclusive message may become less accepted, making it ever more important for us to stick with it and promote.  

 

 What I’ve Learned In 38 Years Of Surrounding Myself With Confident People

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This inspiring article, from Fast Company contributor, Michael Thompson, ticks off 7 qualities he’s picked up from the confident people who have been a part of his life.  I was nodding in agreement as I read.

Finding joy in others success, and celebrating it with friends and family, is so important – both to your friend [duh!], and to your well-being as well.  The act of celebrating is empowering – doing so makes you, your friends, and family happier and stronger.  

As Michael quoted in his piece from Kareem Abdul Jabbar, truly confident people just want “to play the game well and go home”.  In the wedding industry, trend spotting and trend-following are omnipresent, so Kareem’s notion of not requiring other people’s approval really resonates with me, which connects me to my third inspirational piece, on…

 The 17 Hottest Wedding Trends for 2017

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Articles pertaining to trends in this industry are  e v e r y w h e r e, and not surprisingly  often repeat the same tedious do’s and dont’s of the season. David and I believe strongly in helping you create a ceremony, a reception, or a party that feels authentic to you. We believe that just because some look, color or theme is trending does not mean it is worthy of following or repeating. However, we don’t live under a rock. We do like, and need to have, an awareness of what is going on in this industry to be able to keep our store fresh and relevant.  I think this article does a good job of providing an overview without gushing or selling you on any particular view.  Most importantly for me – these trends are not a surprise, and I am realizing David and I are getting quite adept at hand-selecting items that are well made, a good value, and will be interesting to our customers.  Woo hoo!

Here’s to confidence in all you — and we — do. 

Let’s aim high and do this.

Wedding Photos and Our Wedding Album – Advice from a Groom

 

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Wedding photos have [finally] arrived!  Now that bills are paid (ugh) and thank-you’s are mostly written (I know, I’m sorry) we must decide on whether and how to create a wedding photo album.

The “whether to” decision is an easy one for us – Yes.

Digitals are great, but digital images are never going to be discovered by your children or grandchildren in the attic.  You will never just happen upon your digital images while sorting through a stack of books left untouched for too long. There is nothing special and almost no intimacy involved in gathering around a device to stare at images that are too small to appreciate.  Wedding photos are best experienced as part of a narrative — a story that unfolds in a deliberate sequence with one image building upon and informing those before, after and around it.

So as David and I review our images, reflect on the day, and decide how we may want to remember the moments, the wedding album creation & production decision looms — influenced by budget, creative energy, available time, and technological know-how.

I’ve summarized our wedding album website alternatives into 3 price brackets.  All of these websites have beautiful wedding album examples to get your creative juices going.  Disappointingly, however, none have a same-sex couple prominently displayed in their gallery. Time for some new images everyone.

$$$$ – Custom design/print/bind service.  We select the basic layout and the cover, upload the images, provide suggestions for any copy we may want to include with particular images or on certain pages and then let someone else create and print.  Cost:  Wide range based on number of pages and cover type, but $600 to $1700 covers most of the options available.  Yikes.

Two companies we are considering: blendedmotion.net & storybookpages.com

Blended Motion is a turnkey provider, whereas Storybook Pages focuses on the design component and then allows you to select the print/bind vendor from a list of companies they work with.  Both of these companies work primarily with wedding photographers, but they have expanded their service to “retail” as well.

$$1/2 – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  We select from a wide range of pre-formatted designs, most with some customization available, upload the images in the size and position and order we want, then let them produce based on the paper and cover we select. Cost:  $200’ish to $750 covers most options available.

This is a more competitive market space, and there are a number of companies.  Each of these 3 are worth considering – each with “a look” and particular software & production strengths.

  • Milk wedding focused, minimalist look, basic options, not a budget buster, quality product
  • Blurb oriented to commercial / professional productions, wedding albums as a side business, flexible design system with default templates for the novice
  • AdoramapixTemplate based with plenty of design flexibility, widest price range based on paper type, page count and cover material

Note:  We are not considering BrideBox. Why? There was no “bride” in our wedding.  Might be a clever sounding name, but it’s not very welcoming to my husband and me.

$ – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  The primary difference between this price point and the category preceding is that these two providers are not providing a wedding specific product.  Their design flexibility is more limited and their production options far more limited. Their product, however, is considered high quality with very fast turnaround. Cost:  $100 and under

  • Apple Photo book we are an Apple family.  I was a reluctant convert, but have come to fully embrace (accept) the Apple way of life.  We have used this service before to make albums of family events and the results have been beautiful.
  • Snapfish & Shutterfly excellent for the novice/non-tech user, low cost, high quality, very limited design flexibility, quick turnaround.  You don’t have to own an Apple.

We are going to go-down-the-middle and use Adoramapix.  We will share the end result when we’ve got it to show.  For us, it’s a good balance of cost, time spent and design flexibility.

Whatever you decide:

Don’t overspend/overthink. Better to get your favorite photos printed in a scaled down book than have no book at all.

Do not let too much time pass.  Your wedding album project will get lost in the “to-do’s” forever…and the story you wanted your wedding photos to tell won’t be telling any stories at all.

If It’s Good Enough For Mildred

 

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Source:  Live 5 News| live5news.com | Harve Jacobs, Reporter

This is not another wedding planning checklist or must-have color palette recommendation.  I am not going to try to subconsciously guilt or shame you into some expensive wedding favor or table top decision.  Nope.  Just hoping to put a smile on your face in case you missed this, and spend a minute or two connecting the dots between Mildred, Taylor Street and me.

Mildred Bowers likes beer.  A lot.  To celebrate her 103rd birthday coming August 31, NBC interviewed her about her daily pint.  When it’s 4PM in South Carolina where you live, raise your glass to Millie, who drinks a pint at the same time every day.

So what’s the connection to Taylor Street — David’s and my journey into the wedding industry — and Mildred?  

First the obvious product tie-in.  We sell a whole bunch of beer and barware items.  Personalized, theme-y, formal or country-chic, we have a stein, growler, flight, flask or glass for you to buy and drink with her in style.  

The second reason has nothing to do with our products or Mildred’s beer habit.  It’s about our message.  When asked if everyone should adopt her daily beer ritual, she said,

“Yes, if they like it.  Look, there are people who don’t like
coffee and people who don’t like tea, but I want everyone
to drink what they like”.

She is reminding us that it is not “the thing” but the enjoyment “the thing” creates that is important.  We all do not need the same things to experience the same joy.

The pressure to embrace, to strive — and ultimately — to spend is apparent in much of the wedding industry today.  Even counter-culture bridal and “real wedding” sites often nurture a sense of needing to one-up their most recent couple’s performance piece or chase the hottest new trend.

I believe Mildred would encourage us all to stress less and enjoy our weddings, our family and our friends more.  

Taylor Street is about encouraging you to celebrate as you are.  Our perspective is definitely more Sheryl Crow — “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”  

Sure, we like pretty stuff, cool stuff, well made stuff too.  We just want to offer it in a way that doesn’t make you feel inadequate about your {you can fill in the blank here – budget, sexual orientation, wedding theme, party favor, etc}.

Let’s have some fun!  To Mildred!

“Touch Me” it Said

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gifyyy machine ready for action


I have just received my impersonal-yet-irritating “happy one-month anniversary” reminder email from WeddingWire, requesting feedback on everything wedding.  And though I am not acting on their request, it did serve as a reminder that our thank-you notes are still not done. It also got me thinking about what stands out — after 30 days — as the best “unscripted moments” from our wedding day.

The GIF Photo Booth is a HUGE one – first on the list of happy surprises.  BTW – we get nothing from gifyyy.com for sharing any of this — nada.

When our photographer, Jeff Newsom, offered to set up his new GIF machine at our reception, we said yes not knowing anything about it. It sounded like it might be fun.  We already had decided not to have a photo booth, an idea that did not excite us and an expense we could do without.  The gifyyy, however, sounded like a fresh, social media-ready upgrade of the photo booth idea.  Why not.

It was a hit, with kids and adults alike.  Not only are the images hilarious, people had fun just watching other people interact with the device, take their GIF and then play it back.  Think of it as an ice-breaker exercise you don’t have to organize or push people to do.

 

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Good stuff to know:  Gifyyy’s website provides a good overview, though it is more oriented to wedding professionals who might buy the equipment rather than end users, but you’ll get the idea.

Five points worth emphasizing:

1.  The equipment takes up very little space – it really is just that tripod. The design is attractive & neutral enough for any setting, and the circle of lights on the perimeter naturally encourages guests to come check it out.  The iPad screen invites you in with a “Touch Me”.  Once touched, there is a slight delay and then 1-2 seconds later the GIF is created and immediately displayed.  Key in a phone number and the GIF is sent.  Ready for the next GIF, just like that.

2.   What it does require is plenty of space in front of it so that small and large groups can create their gif, and so that others can watch.  How much space?  We had a 10’ semi-circle available in front and that worked well.

3.  No need for a backdrop or props.  Guess you could, but you don’t need to.  Put the faux mustaches away.

4.  It does require a wifi or cell connection.  If your reception location has poor signal strength, you’ll need to figure out an alternative, because a big part of the fun is being able to share your gif on social media – immediate gratification.

5.  It is battery powered and self contained — no wires or cables to trip over or cover up.

And best of all, when your party is over you have a collection of all the GIF’s created for you to keep.

We haven’t decided what we’ll do with all of ours, but we are thinking that when our one-year anniversary arrives – we might just be sending out “anniversary reminders” of our own!

Wedding Planning Tips

Three Wedding Planning Lessons from the Other Side of I Do


We did it.  After lots of searching, appointments, joint decision making, and check writing, we are most certainly, legally, undeniably married.  What did we learn?

  1. Hiring a wedding planner really is worth the cost – really.

I am a recovering control freak and proud spendthrift [sounds much better than ‘cheap’], and thought we could do without a planner.  As the date approached I began to feel overwhelmed, so with about 90 days to go we found someone who would actively manage the last few week’s “crunch” time, especially the few days leading up to our wedding and the clean-up after.  Her suggestions with our timeline were invaluable, she managed the wedding & reception set-ups perfectly, and having her there as the go-to person for the other professionals was, I am sure, more helpful than we know.  It was not cheap, but worth it.

What we learned:  Having the first dance early in the evening, our planner’s suggestion, was a nice change-up and got the evening off to a great start.  Thank you Jazmyn Strickland at Love Always Weddings!

Our Do-over: Hire a planner from the start (it doesn’t cost much more than bringing someone in toward the end) and off-load more responsibilities, like managing contracts & deadlines, progress payments to vendors, running a list of “to-do’s”, and keeping the two of us on a schedule.

2.  Don’t leave as much time as the experts tell you for guests to RSVP

I did what we all do when faced with an unfamiliar topic – I googled it.  My question about lead time for mailing invitations and the RSVP generated an overwhelming number of responses.  Most read something like the advice from from the Knot, “make your RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks before your wedding date”.

What we learned Do NOT follow this advice.

Why send out invitations 90 days or more in advance — as is often recommended — and then give people two months or more before responding?  For us, anxiety set in and we sent follow-up emails to our non-responders about one month before our date.  Almost all of the replies at that point were “no”.

Most people know if they are going to attend your wedding from the moment they get the invite. More time to decide does not generate more “yes” responses, just more creative “no’s”. Might a shortened RSVP deadline mean a couple more last minute cancellations?  Maybe, but those are beyond your control regardless.

Our experience — despite sending save-the-date announcements 6 months in advance, invites 90 days in advance, and allowing people to RSVP up to 2 1/2 weeks before our wedding, we still had a table’s worth of guests cancel during the last week.  Shit happens.

Our Do-over:  Still send save-the-dates at least 6 months out and invites no more than 90 days out, but give people only a short window to RSVP.  Then, if you have that “B-list”, you can actually use it.

3.  Spend your time (and money) finding your photographer

Then spend the extra money to have an engagement session even though you really don’t want to (and as a groom, I can’t emphasize enough how much I really didn’t want to).  Why?  The time you spend with your photographer during the engagement session is invaluable in building a relationship that will make your wedding photography more fun, natural and successful.  We knew we found our photographer from the first meeting (and he did not disappoint!).  Despite that immediate connection we felt, we were much less comfortable during our engagement session than during the wedding and its seemed to us that he felt that way too.

We had a blast with our photographer at our wedding, loved our engagement photos and can not wait for our wedding day shots.

What we learned:  There are many wedding photographers, but there will be one that will BOTH meet your requirements AND feel right to both of you. Spend the time to find that one. We are so glad to have found Jeff.   Thank you Jeff Newsom.

Our Do-over:  None.


We are proud of what we accomplished and are really happy with the day.  We made our wedding our own – a goal we share with many couples.  It takes time and energy.   We hope our experience helps you manage your time so you have the energy for creating your wedding day…and some extra left for the dance floor.


A Toast To Wedding Toast Anxiety

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‘Why everyone hates wedding toasts”, “A tradition we can do without”, “Wedding Toast Survival Tips” — titles from my recent google search on wedding toasts.

Yes, people do not like public speaking in general.  It is difficult to risk putting ourselves “out there” for others to see.  Many of us are shy and experience stage fright, particularly if a microphone is handed to us. And like you, I’ve read the posts indicating that toasts are not just difficult for the “toaster”, but for vendors too, who struggle to manage the event and keep within a particular time frame.

Boo hoo.

To be sure, there is no shortage of anxiety and nervousness at a wedding.  It is tempting to eliminate this tradition that, it may seem, has outlived it’s usefulness and has few supporters.  Don’t.

Being asked to provide a toast is an honor.  It is a recognition of a shared bond.  Toasting is a connection to an earlier time.  By accepting, you are acknowledging and supporting the new couple. It may feel somewhat burdensome to be asked, but it truly is not intended as such — and it doesn’t mean you need to contort yourself into a pretzel of originality and praise worthy prose.

Wedding Toast Anxiety Reducing Strategies:

  1. Keep your remarks “in your wheelhouse”.  If poetry is your thing, create a poem.  If you are most comfortable keeping your comments lighthearted, do it.
  2. Keep it short.  Hopefully you were provided guidance, but if not — ask for it.  A couple minutes can feel like an eternity if you are not comfortable.  You are not the evening’s entertainment.
  3. Write it down and rehearse. Memorization is not required or expected.  If a note card helps, use it — though reading a paragraph word-for-word is not engaging.

A note to you “toasters”… any anxiety you may be feeling will likely be a fraction of the nerves being felt by the couple.  Why not expand your supportive role and check-in with the bride or groom and see how they and their anxieties are doing.  In addition to just being a good listener, you might have an opportunity to suggest some “day-of” stress reducers.

Two Easy To Implement Wedding “Day-of” Stress Reducers:

  1. Couple agrees on a “safe word” or a gesture that, when spoken/motioned by either, means he or she is in immediate need of a break from whatever or whomever – right now, no questions asked.  You then excuse the both of you for a minute.
  2. Advise the planner, the officiant, the DJ – of potential anxiety inducing moments for the couple and let these professionals do their job — looking out for the couple and making sure they are prepared should there be a moment of stage fright.

A toast is an ancient tradition – a way of symbolizing camaraderie by raising a glass together to celebrate.  Your toast is an opportunity to connect an important part of a bride or groom’s past with their future by sharing a bit of yourself and your shared history with the couple’s friends and family.  If your remarks are sincere and you speak in a way that is authentically you, you will have succeeded.  For inspiration, watch this video of a heartfelt toast from a dad to his son and son-in-law .

Cheers.