Sunday, July 18, 2010

Save the Dates

Another task on the wedding list has been completed - most of the Save-the-Dates have been received by our guests and that means I can blog about them.

Not everyone chooses to give out Save-the-Dates but the idea behind them is pretty simple. Once the wedding was booked, we wanted to make sure our important guests knew the date and venue as soon as possible. Hopefully this means that when the date rolls around, no one has to beg off attending because they booked other plans already.

On the other hand, it's still a good ten months or so to go. Sending out the actual invitations at this stage, complete with all the information about the food, facilities, directions, accommodation, and so on, would just be a sure-fire way of making sure everybody lost that information long before the wedding - not to mention that some of the information may well be out-of-date and inaccurate in ten months' time. I don't want to be sending out the formal invites until two months before the wedding, at the earliest.

Save-the-Dates bridge the gap nicely. They get tucked into the diary or stuck to the fridge in a way that is much more noticeable than a spoken reminder during conversation. They're usually postcard or business-card sized, and there's a bit of a fashion at the moment for them to be magnetic. I hopped on Vistaprint and found that magnetic business-card-sized Save-the-Dates, with a standard design and our text, would cost £5.49 for 25 - so including P&P, we'd probably be looking at just under £15. I picked out what I considered to be the three least-offensive designs and asked Steve what he thought.

He was not impressed. Even when persuaded that they were a good idea, he wanted something more "us". One thing led to another and soon I was busy googling to see if it was possible to buy or make personalised “magnetic poetry”.

Turns out it’s very possible. Magnetic paper suitable for use in a home inkjet printer costs £2.65 for a pack of 5 sheets. I ordered two packs - I can't see how having some spare magnetic paper will ever be a bad thing. While I was at it, I also ordered some little ziplock baggies to keep all the bits in, which was £1.60 for 100. Much more cost-effective than ordering ready-made cards!

While waiting for these items to be delivered, I flexed my mild obsession with spreadsheets:
Handily, since my Guest List spreadsheet is one line per household, it was easy to know exactly how many lines to 'Fill Down' with the words. I was very lucky - our number of words and number of guests enabled me to fit the whole thing onto two A4 sheets. I did do a couple of extra lines as spares, but on the whole there was no wastage. It helped not having to order in multiples of 25 as well - we have more than 25 households to invite, but less than 50, and I'm not sure what I could have usefully done with the dozen or so spare cards.

A few days later all the bits arrived, and joy of joys, the magnetic paper printed perfectly, so it was off to Staples for the rest of the necessities. These consisted of a trimmer to cut the paper (£3.95), some plain, recycled wage envelopes (£4 for 50), and some decorative pirate and monkey stickers (99p per pack). We'd have needed envelopes and stickers for the factory-made cards anyway, so I'm not really counting those when comparing the prices.

I first cut the pages into strips with each strip containing one of each word. Then for each envelope, Steve and I selected a Page 1 strip and a Page 2 strip and placed them in the individual baggies as we sliced them into individual words. This was a lot easier than cutting all the words up and then trying to make sure that everyone got one of each.

(As a minor piece of added evil, each packet included one SuperFunBonus word like "wedding", "flowers", or "celebrate". Yes, we did drive several people bananas as they tried to figure out where that word was supposed to fit. Bwahahahaha!)

An example of the finished article:
Save the Date magnets in place on our fridge

And the neatly decorated envelopes:
ready to go out

For guests who have trouble with their hands and may prefer to not mess about with fiddly magnetic pieces, we did another magnet sheet with half a dozen nice, plain, square, one-piece notes. We also stuck a little piece of ordinary paper in the envelopes for families with children, explaining about the pirate-themed kids' entertainment we are planning and encouraging them NOT to invest in child-sized formalwear.

Steve has been writing extra words on the offcuts and the message on our fridge seems to change every couple of days. It's sort of sweet.

If I was doing this again, I would probably try and find slightly thicker magnetic paper - ours was 650 GSM and although it works, it doesn't have quite the same feel as normal magnetic poetry pieces. I would also try and draw (or get drawn for me) a cute little picture or cartoon, as having just text sometimes seemed a little sparse - having a single bigger section to pull it all together would have been nice.

All in all, it was a fun and affordable project and we've had a lot of good feedback (most frequently "even if it hadn't had the names in, I'd have known it was from you two," which we are both taking as a compliment). It's also interesting to see the different layouts that different people have been using when assembling the words. Transferring that responsibility to each guest has meant no etiquette agonising about whose name should go first or in what order the information should be presented.

Monday, July 12, 2010


It's been a glorious month of whizzing about in my new wheelchair. From posting my own letters unaided, to trundling around shops at my own pace, to attending meetings and events, it has been amazing.

Right up until Sunday morning.

I connected the wheels to the charger and, instead of charging, it started beeping at me in a most distressing manner. A flustered few minutes with the manual, looking up the "acoustic signal" in the two-page Error Messages table, revealed that one of the wheels knows the charger is plugged in, but cannot detect a current. Swapping the charger plugs over showed that the issue was with the wheel, not the charger. The wheel must be sent for repair.

Then I burst into tears.

Sounds silly, doesn't it? Until five weeks ago, I didn't have powered wheels, and yet I was perfectly happy. But having grown used to them, the idea of them being taken away was simply shocking. It was almost as bad as the first time I fell over and couldn't get up. A huge sense of bewilderment, frustration, anger... even betrayal, if it's not too weird to use that word about an inanimate object or your own body. And powerlessness. That's a big one.

Technically the wheel hasn't been taken away yet. It's sitting right here in the room with me. A flurry of emails and phone calls has resulted in a "pass the parcel" arrangement, where the manufacturer will send a brand new wheel to the vendor today (or possibly tomorrow seeing as it's already after 3pm), the vendor will check it and courier it on to me, and then in a few weeks' time when a rep from the vendor happens to be in this neck of the woods, he'll take away the defective one. I've been told to keep the brand new wheel, probably because the expense for them of reversing the whole process to move a repaired 24-inch, 11-kilo wheel across the country in order to exchange for what will by then be a used one is not cost effective.

I am really, really, REALLY regretting that I was dumb enough to get swizzed into purchasing the wheels from the big national chair vendor rather than my first choice, the local Shopmobility (not licensed to sell the chair I was assigned, but could have sold me the wheels. It's a long, boring, complicated story). If I'd stuck to my guns and bought from Shopmobility, I could have been down there in a taxi sorting it out face to face by now. But hopefully I've been enough of a pain in the backside to the current vendor that they will come good and I'll have a new wheel in a couple of days.

So. I still recommend the e-motions - frankly, even this one month would have been worth re-mortgaging a kidney - and I cannot wait to get my shiny new wheel, but I'd really suggest being prepared for the fact that it may go wrong, and shopping locally if at all possible.

Edit added one week later, on Sunday 18th July 2010
Instead of a courier with an entire new wheel, they sent a repair guy on Saturday morning. Unfortunately they had only provided him with half the wheel components, and naturally this did not include the half that was malfunctioning. So it looks like I've got another week with no power. Well, either that or going round in circles.