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Break it down now!

6 Jan

RSVP breakdowns are always fun!

I love it when Bees give the Hive an idea on the demographics of their guests – where they’re from, how many people are attending, how many declined, who will be coming from out-of-town, etcetera, etcetera. It’s such a good way to get a snapshot of the wedding and definitely does give some awesome insights into the guests and the wedding itself.

Unfortunately, that means using programs like Excel. And guys, I am really bad at Excel. Mr Big is a pro at it, thankfully, so when I got this post under way, I turned to him for help. After some fiddling around, I managed to break down the RSVP list.

So without further ado, here’s the RSVP breakdown!

The Bighorns invited approximately 187 people to the wedding. Of the 187 people we invited, 43 of them declined, which means that our guest list sits at exactly 142 people (77% acceptance rate!). This means that approximately 23% of the people invited to our wedding declined to come.

RSVP breakdown_acceptance

Woohoo! People like us Mr Big!

Of the 142 people who accepted the invitation to the wedding, 98 will be attending the ceremony (69.0%), 58 will be attending the Chinese tea ceremony (40.8%), 26 will be going on the wine tour (18.3%), and 140 will be attending the reception (98.6%).

A total of 116 guests will be staying at the appointed guest accommodation, Crowne Plaza (81.7%), with 11 staying at other accommodation (7.7%) and 14 guests driving back home from the reception (9.9%).

accommodation rates

The Crowne – the place to stay (statistically, anyway).

Guests will be a mixture of out-of-town International guests, out-of-town domestic guests, and local residents. One-hundred and thirteen (113) guests are Australian (79.6%), 22 guests are from New Zealand (15.5%), 6 guests will be flying in from Bandung, West Java, Indonesia (4.2%), and  finally, 1 guest will be flying in from London, United Kingdom (0.7%).

geographical area

Our multicultural wedding! Sorta.

Now let’s get specific. I broke down the areas from which our Australian and New Zealand guests would be coming from and got the following.

Of the 113 Australian guests coming to the wedding:

  • 97 will be driving up from the Greater Sydney Region (85.8%)
  • 4 will be driving from a local Central Coast suburb (3.5%), and
  • 2 will be driving down from the North Coast (1.8%)
  • 8 guests will be flying down to New South Wales from Queensland (7.1%)
  • 1 will be flying up from Melbourne, Victoria (0.9%), and
  • 1 will be flying in from Perth, Western Australia (0.9%)

australia stats

As for our Kiwi folks, of the 22 New Zealand guests:

  • 13 will be flying in from Christchurch (59.1%)
  • 4 will be flying in from Auckland (18.2%)
  • 3 will be flying in from Nelson (13.6%)
  • 1 will be flying in from Greymouth (4.5%), and
  • 1 will be flying in from Dunedin (4.5%)

nz stats

When looking at how the guest list is split according to whether they are on the “groom’s side”, “bride’s side”, or miscellaneous, it was found that:

  • 41 guests are mutual friends of Mr and Miss Big (28.9%)
  • 5 guests are “just” friends with Miss Big (3.5%)
  • 17 guests are “just” friends with Mr Big (12.0%)
  • 39 guests are from Miss Big’s family (27.5%)
  • 7 guests are from Mr Big’s family (I know…) (4.9%)
  • 4 guests are family friends of Mr Big’s family (2.8%), and
  • 29 guests are family friends of Miss Big’s family (20.4%)

guest list portions

I know guys, those statistics seem loaded, but it’s true. I have a rather large family and Mr Big’s family is small. So a majority of the guests at our wedding will be on “my” side, although a lot of our mutual friends are making up the bulk of the guest list too. 🙂

In terms of guest transportation, approximately 60 guests will be taking transport from the Crowne to the ceremony (42.3%) and approximately 68 guests will be taking transport from the Crowne to the reception (47.9%). From this, we can infer that approximately 50% of our guests are probably going to party and drink at our wedding (yay!).

And that’s it guys! The Bighorn RSVP Breakdown!

Who else feels that, statistically, your “portion” of the guest outweighs your partner’s? (I feel pretty awful about it, honestly.) Who else is going to have a 50% party rate!? (And is it sad that I’m actually quite happy about that?)

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Honeymoon in my “Home Town” – The Bighorn Way!

14 Oct

Alternative Title: “Cool things to do in the Hunter”, according to Mr Big.

Technically speaking, the Hunter Valley isn’t really my ‘home town’. Sydney is, and if you want to be really specific, the Greater Sydney Area is my home town. But as I’ve already discussed the resort where our guests will be staying, I thought it might be pretty cool to also give you guys an idea on the awesome things our guests could partake in while they stay in the Hunter Valley.

As the Bighorn wedding is a “mini destination” wedding, a lot (like, 99.9999%) of our guests will be coming from out of town, either driving up from Sydney, flying interstate, or flying from overseas. Only two of our guests are “local”, and they’ve both since moved to Sydney.

I’ll break down the actual guest demographics in my RSVP breakdown (which I still need Mr Big to assist me with – he’s really good at data and Excel), but for now, here’s the Bighorns’ “Honeymoon in my Home Town”!

[Titles copyright the wonderful Mr Big <3]

Cool things to do in the Hunter #1: Meet the locals

http://www.huntervalleyzoo.com.au/

The Hunter Valley Zoo is a great place to get up-close-and-personal to native Australian animals. For those who don’t know, Australia has endemic (read: only within Australia) wildlife, such as the koala, the platypus, and the echidna. At the Hunter Valley Zoo, you can get all cuddly with a koala, pat a baby kangaroo (a joey, if you want to be pedantic) and even touch a crocodile (a baby one – they wouldn’t let you get near one of those big ones!).

GP_me_koala

Gettin’ all cuddly with a koala! / Personal image.

You can also feed kangaroos and emus, and even some non-Australian animals like domesticated animals, ostriches and deer. Side note: the ostriches scare the crap out of me!

Cool things to do in the Hunter #2: Get fat

http://www.hvchocolate.com.au/

The Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory sells just that – chocolate. Ok, well, I lie – they sell mainly chocolate. Their chocolate ranges from Belgium chocolate of the dark, white, or milk variety, to chilli chocolate, to the more Australian “macadamia” chocolate varieties, and more. They sell in bulk, they sell individual pieces, they sell bars, they sell hamper packs – you name it, they sell it. They even have ‘chocolate pasta’, which I haven’t tried yet, but it looks great!

HVChocolate_ChocRocks

Chocolate Rocks – Candy covered chocolate! A “staple” buy from the HV Choco Factory. Yummo! / Image taken from the Hunter Valley Chocolate Factory website.

For those wanting to get gag items, they even have adult-themed-shaped chocolates and sweets! And for those who can’t stand chocolate, they have fudge and condiments which are just as delicious! Their main factory is located in Lovedale, and you can actually see them making the chocolate!

Cool things to do in the Hunter #3: Be Cheesy!

http://www.smellycheese.net.au/

The Smelly Cheese shop is one of those places that you NEED to go to when you go to the Hunter Valley. They have a HUGE selection of cheeses at their disposal and if you want the full experience, they even have a walk-in fridge which stinks like, well, cheese. Mr Big and I often go here to get an assortment of cheeses to eat during picnics we have at the Hunter. For those who can’t stand a bit of fromage, they also have a huge range of gelato (Horny Caramel, yes please!) and even sell condiments, chocolates, and milkshakes, and coffees.

horny caramel

Homemade gelato from the Smelly Cheese Shop, including Mr Big’s favourite Horny Caramel./ Image from Les Deux Blog.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #4: Vodka!

http://www.hunterdistillery.com.au/

I’m not a big vodka fan, neither have I been to the Hunter Distillery, but from the likes of friends who are HUGE fans of the Hunter Valley area in general, this is a place you need to visit. The Hunter Distillery is relatively new and houses a range of spirits, including schnapps, liqueur, gin, and last of all, vodka! The range of flavoured vodka from the Hunter Distillery is impressive, including blueberry, chocolate, coffee, caramel, apple, and even chilli! If you’re a spirits fan, it’s definitely worth considering.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #5: Horse riding

http://www.huntervalleyhorseriding.com.au/

Another thing I haven’t done in the Hunter, but honestly think it would be awesome. The Hunter Valley is surrounded by gorgeous scenery, from sprawling vistas of farmland and greenery, to huge mountains (or ‘hills’ to the Kiwis) which overlook beautifully ripe vines. Driving on the road is pretty enough, but to get up-close-and-personal to the natural beauty via horseback would just be phenomenal. For those wanting a unique experience, horseback riding would be the way to go.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #6: Beer Tastings

http://www.bluetongue.com.au/Brewery-Cafe.aspx

Ah, the Blue Tongue Café!

The Blue Tongue Café is named after the brewery of which it’s attached to, the Blue Tongue Brewery. They sell their own beers at the café, and if you’re a beer lover, it’s a good place to go. I’m not huge into beer, but it’s a fun experience getting the beer tasting paddle and just downing all of the beers followed by a hearty pie. It’s a good option for lunch too, if you’re looking for a relaxing place to sit and chat!

beer paddle_bluetongue

The beer paddle at the Blue Tongue Brewery / Image taken from Hunter Valley Accommodation.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #7: Olive branch

http://www.tintilla.com.au/products/Olives

Tintilla Estate is one-of-many places in the Hunter where you can find awesome olive products, but it is Mr Big’s favourite place to go for olive-related products. They sell wines there, but Mr Big goes there for the olives (he’s an olive fan). From Tintilla you can also grab oils and condiments from the lovely people at Pukara Estate, who have to-die-for garlic oils which go splendidly with pasta. For all of your olive and oily needs, go to Tintilla – you’ll be glad you did!

pukara_garlic olive oil

The “Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil” from Pukara Estate – Mr Big and I’s favourite! / Image taken from the Pukara Estate website.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #8: Pretend to be Irish

http://www.harrigansirishpub.com.au/

Harrigan’s Irish Pub is yet another place that does a fantastic lunch. To be biased, this is my favourite place. Their lamb stew is AMAZING and their service is always impeccable, if not busy. For those of you wanting to try this place out, that’s something you gotta be aware of: it. gets. BUSY. The smaller the group, the easier it is to get a table. Otherwise, reserve, reserve, reserve. For those who like a pint of Guinness, this is the place to go. For those of you who like meaty, awesome food, this is also the place to go!

big ass burger_harrigans

The Triple-Beast Burger from Harrigan’s. Do you see that black thing sticking out of the burger? That’s a steak knife. / Personal image.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #9: Balloon it

http://www.winecountry.com.au/things-to-see-do/hot-air-ballooning

For those who aren’t deathly afraid of height (I’m looking at you Mr Big!), hot-air ballooning is a good way to see the Hunter Valley from a different perspective. I’ve never been, but apparently, it’s very beautiful. This is one of the pricier options, so for those on a bit of a budget, may not be conducive. However, for those who aren’t afraid of spending a little bit and who want to experience something that will take your breath away, hot air ballooning is a great option.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #10: A Horse and Cart

http://www.huntervalleycarriages.com.au/

For those who like the idea of a more natural experience, like horse-riding, but don’t want to ride an animal, like horse-riding, than a carriage ride is the way to go. Tours can be booked that take you around the Hunter Valley to taste wines, olives, cheeses, and much more. It’s a relaxing way to see the Hunter without the bothersome traffic that you get with a car.

Cool things to do in the Hunter #11: Preen, Primp, and Pamper

http://www.crowneplazahuntervalley.com.au/spa/

The Hunter Valley has some fabulous day spas which offer services such as massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures. The Tea Tree Spa is located onsite at the Crowne Plaza for our guests, so for any girls (or boys!) who want to get pampered, it’s the local ‘pamper’ spot!

Cool things to do in the Hunter #12: Cycle it!

www.huntervalleycycling.com.au

For those of you who like a bit of adventure, there’s always the bicycle trails. Bicycles (with helmets and map trails included) can be hired for the day to take you around the Hunter Valley, exploring the wineries in a way that is unique and exciting. For those willing to brave the summer and wanting to get a unique perspective of the region, cycling is definitely an option!

Cool things to do in the Hunter #13: GET TO THE CHOPPER!

www.slatteryhelicopters.com.au

For those of you wanting to see the Hunter Valley from above and who don’t like the idea of an open-air arrangement, helicopters may just be for you. The scenic flights start from $70pp, so aren’t ridiculously expensive. You’ll also feel like a movie star going in and out of these things as people watch you in awe. What’s not to love?

Cool things to do in the Hunter #14: Throw yourself out of a plane!

www.skydivethehuntervalley.com

For the adventurous type, skydiving might just be an option! Yet another unique way to see the Hunter Valley from above, as you’re descending down to the ground!

Cool things to do in the Hunter #15: Go off-road

There are heaps of nice off-road opportunities, so if you have the right sort of car for it, it can be fun. Mr Big has the right car for it, but unfortunately, sometimes, Life likes throwing a nasty at us:

go offroad_not

Poor Zoe! (Mr Big’s car, for those not in the know) / Personal image.

So, those with rental vehicles might want to re-think this activity…

However, if you have a 4WD, I totally recommend trying some off-road activities. There are lots and lots of dirt roads up in the Hunter Valley. 🙂

 

So those are our guests’ options, on top of the typical wine tours and tastings you can have! I’m sure there’re more activities which are out there, but I’ve run out.  What do you guys think? Do you think our guests will remain occupied during their long-ish weekend in the Hunter Valley? 🙂

Tick-tock: Timing is Everything

29 Jun

On a Saturday morning, June 29, I woke up and came downstairs, seeing Mr Big bent over a writing pad and planning out the day-of timeline. A little early for that, doncha think? So I asked what that was about, and found out something that made my heart sink.

Apparently, Chinese tradition states that Mr Big needed to lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM. Now this meant, at 11AM, Mr Big needed to get to my parents’ house and lead me out. There were initial problems to this.

The first problem is fixable. Let’s say Mr Big is at the door to my parent’s villa. If he leads me out, he’ll see me in all my white-dressed-glory, which ruins the whole “first-seeing-each-other-when-I-walk-down-the-aisle” thing. GP says that he can blindfold himself before he knocks on the door and we can do both traditions (not seeing each other before the aisle-walk, AND the Chinese tradition of Mr Big letting me out of the house). So… this problem is fixed, but the BIGGEST issue was the second one.

The second, and MAIN, problem was timing

Our civil ceremony was initially supposed to start at 11AM and we’ve told our guests this. This meant guests would be arriving at the Waterfall Outlook before 11AM. Now, if Mr Big lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM, we’d ultimately get to the Hunter Valley Gardens by about 11:15AM. Which meant our guests would be sitting down  waiting around for about 15-20 minutes.

I didn’t want that to happen.

Not to mention that pushed back the civil ceremony, the official family photos, and the amount of time we get for the Chinese tea ceremony. However, like all problems, we found a fix, which meant being approximately 15 minutes late to the ceremony. We made our celebrant aware, and hopefully, guests will be ok with it. According to a number of our married guests and friends, it’s okay for the bride and groom to be a little bit “fashionably late”.

‘But what, pray tell, is this post about?’, I hear you guys asking. Well, guys, we’re counting down the days to the wedding, and I’m glad to tell you that we’ve got the day-of timeline tightened and neat. With the help of Microsoft Project, information from our vendors, and working throughout all of November and December to get this baby all set, I think we’ve definitely got a workable day-of run sheet.

So for those who want a few tips on how to construct what seems like a massive venture in the beginning, let me give you a few tips:

  • Get in touch with your vendors as soon as possible: I know this is an obvious one, guys, but seriously, this vastly helped in constructing our day-of run sheet. Our reception coordinators actually gave us the run sheet that they normally work off of, and that gave me a good idea on how to get started. I basically extrapolated this and then overlaid it with our own plans.
  • Communicate with your FI/partner: Another obvious one, but the amount of times I’ve put a plan into action and had Mr Big either improve on it or add details I didn’t know about are amazing. Mr Big and I are pretty good at communicating, and when it came to the timeline, it’s amazing what sitting down and going through it can do.
  • Durations are your friend: I know it’s not really easy to get things down to the finest minute, but I found that giving events a duration of time (1 min, 30 mins, 1hr, 3hrs, etc.) allows for a much easier “block” to work around. For example, I know the ceremony will start at 11AM to 1115AM and go for approximately 30 minutes. I made note of that in the run sheet.
  • Try and go through your run sheet as early as possible with important members of the “wedding team”: I’m not just talking about bridesmaids and groomsmen – remember that your ushers, parents of flower girls or page boys, DJ, MC, florist, and all other special attendants need to know what’s happening too. I sent my preliminary run sheet to all of my vendors and asked them to have a look over it. They were able to tell me where to tweak it and also give me their timings! This then assisted me in improving where particular things flowed in the run sheet. I also went through the run sheet a week early with other attendants (ushers, bridesmaids, etc.) in order for them to understand what I needed of them.
  •  If at all possible, print out and give copies to bridal party members: This is particularly important if you have a big group (like we do!).

I hope these tips help you all in planning your own run sheet! If you need any tips (or would like to see a copy of my own run sheet), please do PM me! 🙂 I’d post a template up on here, but I need to get cracking to last-minute wedding stuff!

Who else had some issues formulating their day-of run sheet?

Accommodating the guests!

18 May

Hey Hive!

On 18 May, Mr Big and I took a nice morning jaunt up to the Hunter Valley. It was an awesome and very fulfilling trip. We managed to get a lot done in the time we were up there. Among these things we have found our baker for the wedding (more on that soon!), bought A LOT of bottles of moscato (and also found out that a few vineyards up there recognise us by face!), picked up more empty wine bottles for our DIY project, and most importantly, looked at accommodation for our guests.

When we first started planning a vineyard wedding in the Hunter Valley, the first and foremost issue that was constantly brought up to us was ”where will the guests stay?”. Good question, Mr Big and I would say, we’ll try to find something. I searched high and low for a hotel that would fit our guests comfortably and also provide nice furnishings. It had to be affordable, it had to be in the Hunter Valley Wine Area, and it had to be nice.

The reasons we needed these properties were simple:

  • we have overseas guests coming and so we needed an affordable price point for these guests
  • we didn’t want our guests having to drive more than an hour to get to our ceremony and reception – ten minutes tops was our cap
  • we wanted our guests to enjoy their time staying at the Hunter

I’ll be honest, guys. I had no idea where to look. I had never stayed in the Hunter at that point and I knew of the hotels but had never stayed there before. So I was stumped people. I threw around a lot of suggestions to Mr Big: Mercure Resort, Cam-Way Estate, Sebel Kirkton.

All of my suggestions was taken with a “hmm… maybe…” by the fiancé and so it got to a point where – it being too early to really do much about the guest-accommodation problem – I let it go and put it on the backburner.

However, in August of 2012, Mr Big’s parents came to stay. De Papa and Mumma Big had previously come over to Australia in July of 2010, ironically a week after I had met Mr Big. They travelled up to the Hunter Valley, and during that time, they stayed in a two-bedroom villa at the Crowne Plaza Resort. All three of them loved it there, but when it came time to plan guest accommodation during our wedding in 2014, he had totally forgotten the Crowne could do group bookings. Luckily MIL/Mumma Big was savvy enough to tell us about it:

“We’re going to stay at the Crowne Plaza. It was lovely there when we stayed before,” said MIL/Mumma Big.

And I was sold.

Mr Big’s mumma is a lovely woman and has good taste in these sorts of things, so I trusted her judgment. A month or so later, Mr Big called the hotel and got a group booking! So, is this the end of the guest accommodation saga? Well, not quite.

When 12 months to the wedding tricked down to 9 months to the wedding, I asked Mr Big if we could potentially take a look at the hotel rooms at the Crowne. You see, the Crowne has both hotel rooms (deluxe rooms, king rooms, spa suites, etc.) and villas (two- and three-bedroom). So I wanted to ensure that, 1) the hotel would take your breath away, 2) the rooms would do the same thing. Unfortunately, April passed without us heading up to the Hunter (shame on us) but come May, I was eager for another trip up.

When we got to the Crowne Plaza, I immediately told myself that (1) had been fulfilled. It is a stunning hotel with absolutely HUGE grounds and a lake out the front. When we went for a tour around (in a buggy, booyah!) there were black swans floating serenely on the lake.

There are also heaps of things to do at the hotel itself like taking a trip down to the spa, hanging out in the leisure room (Xbox, the PlayStation, arcade games), playing on the various outdoors-y sports type equipment, playing giant chess and jenga (yes – you read that right) and swimming in their HUGE freaking pool.

crowne_chess and jenga

On the left, Mr Big and giant Jenga; on the right, giant chess in the balcony courtyard. / Personal images.

They also assist in guest transport, wine tours, and drinks (you can request the bar to be open earlier for your guests – yes you can).

We didn’t get to go inside the rooms, purely because there was a special event on (the Lovedale Long Lunch, which Mr Big and I want to do one of these days), but they gave us information and contact details of someone to contact who will give us a tour around these rooms.

We went away a happy future-bridegroom-and-bride and can’t wait to see our guests’ reactions to the sheer awesome of the hotel. We also can’t wait on the wedding day when Mr Big can get some amazing photos around the Crowne with his groomsmen!

Did anyone else inspect their accommodation prior to the Big Day? Who’s just as excited about giant Jenga? 🙂