Category Archives: Guests

When Possible, Make a U-Turn

One of the “things only a wedding planner knows” that I already knew was to actually try out the driving directions to our venue before putting them in our invitation. So on the way back from the airport after my task-tackling trip to St. Louis, I programmed my GPS to make a stop at Station Square.

I will break here to give those of you who don’t live here a primer in Pittsburgh geography. This not-very-accurate map should cover the basics:

Basically, to get from the airport to Station Square, it looks like you should be able to take one highway (the orange one on the map) for 20 miles and magically arrive.  But the trouble is, in that last couple of miles there’s a big honking mountain1 in the way. If you stay on the highway, you’ll go through the Fort Pitt Tunnel (the left green circle). This is the route recommended by Bing maps, Mapquest, and my Garmin GPS. On the plus side, you’ll get through the mountain. And you’ll get to experience the wonder of seeing the Pittsburgh Skyline when you pop out on the other side.

Unfortunately, you’ll also exit the tunnel directly onto the Fort Pitt Bridge, and consequently end up on the wrong side of the Monongahela River (as far as our destination is concerned. It’s not like, “the wrong side of the tracks” or whatever). And then you’ll be Downtown, known to Pittsburgh historians as “The Golden Triangle” but known to people who have trouble with directions as “The Bermuda Triangle.” One-way streets that don’t alternate! Mysterious turn restriction at intersections! Perpetual construction! A multidimensional road map that makes GPS units cry blood! Making a u-turn in Downtown Pittsburgh to cross a second bridge is an ordeal I really don’t want to put my guests through.

So the next time I was south of the city I tried a new approach: I just followed the road signs. [An aside: the highway between the airport and the city was recently renamed. It went from being 279 North to 376 East. Yes, I realize those are not the same direction. Does the city? I don’t think so. As an added bonus, this meant all the exits were re-numbered. I think these changes were made under the “Make GPS Units Worthless Act” of 2010.] According to the signs, I should take Exit 69B to get to Station Square. Awesome.

Except when I took Exit 69B (putting me on the purple road) I discovered that I had two choices for how to get to Station Square: #1: The Wabash Tunnel (the right green circle with the red X), which is HOV-only some of the time, completely closed some of the time (hence the red X), and generally a mystery wrapped in an enigma.2 #2: The road my GPS suggested when I was forced to drive past the closed Wabash Tunnel, which goes OVER the mountain with a serious of hairpin turns that will surely kill one of my guests if there is even a little rain, and ultimately ends with a complicated detour to avoid a road closed for construction.3

Back to the drawing board. This time I looked up the “official” directions recommended by Station Square. This requires driving past the exit that is designated for Station Square, to an exit for Route 51 North. A road which is not part of the directions to Station Square at all. You see, Route 837 West pops up right after the exit despite zero signage to that effect. Fortunately, Route 837W is exactly where people want to go. So if they’ve made it this far, they just have to get on that road. Oh, and not turn at the first sign that says Station Square, because that’s the wrong entrance. Sheesh.

So I’ve found directions that work! Sort of! Hooray! Yay for me! But I’ve also realized how easy it is to get lost in this area, even for someone who lives here. Who is paying really close attention to the directions. Out of town guests trying to figure it out on the fly or just relying on MapQuest or their GPS are going to get lost. And that’s a terrible start to the weekend, right?

Anyone else have to deal with complicated directions to a venue or lodging? How did you work out this problem? Should I make the directions insert really flashy? Should I set up a “get un-lost” hotline? Should I personally drive everyone from the airport? WHAT DO I DO?

1For those of you who live west of the Great Plains, let me clarify it is actually a large hill.  For those of you who live on the Eastern Seaboard? It’s a GIGANTIC MOUNTAIN!
2I looked at the Wikipedia page for the Wabash tunnel to try to find out why it is so restricted, and found some blatant editorializing that I hope is not flagged for editing until it becomes outdated: “The Wabash Tunnel is a former railway tunnel through Mt. Washington in the city of Pittsburgh. Constructed early in the 20th century by railroad magnate George J. Gould, it has never been of much use.”
3What’s that you say? “The construction will be over before the wedding”? HAHAHAHAHA. Clearly you’ve never been to Pittsburgh. When we put up detour signs, we GET OUR MONEY’S WORTH on ’em. My marriage will be OVER before that detour ends.


POLL: Address Etiquette

Because it is not 1846, I refuse to address my invitations to “Mr. and Mrs. George Guestenbaum.”

But I do not know which of these alternatives is “more correct”


“Mr. and Mrs. George and Louise Guestenbaum” sounds more reasonable to me, but is also bugs me with its redundant “and”s.  For what it is worth, it’s the APW-approved style of addressing a married couple with the same last name.

But I disagree with the second bit of advice in that piece, which is to put people with different last names on different lines. It is my understanding that it is proper to put married couples on the same line and unmarried couples on different lines (The only time I break this rule is for gay couples that hold themselves out as a married couple to the community even if their state won’t recognize their marriage).  What do you think?


Regardless of how we set up that line break, when we address couples with different last names, who goes first?


And finally there is the issue of children.  I realize that children over the age of 18 should get their own invitation, but that means that my little brother’s best friend gets his own invitation separate from his parents, which makes me feel OLD.  But them’s the breaks.

For minor children, proper etiquette demands their names only go on the inner envelope, but we don’t have one of those. So what do we do?


Also, I really, really want to address a couple as “The Doctors Guestenbaum.” But the only married couple of two doctors we know has different last names. Feminism ruins my fun once again.

Thanks for voting and helping me sort out this mess. If you have any more rules I should know or tips for how to tweak them to make me not want to barf, please comment!

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

I don’t have addresses for more than half our wedding guest list.  This, despite the fact that Collin and I both had sisters marry in 2009. Stop moving, everyone!

And seriously, what’s so hard about saying who you are dating on Facebook?  I KNOW, I KNOW. I know exactly what is so hard about it.  But it’s not my fault I was practically engaged by time I joined Facebook.  And I can’t address an invitation to “Mary Sue Noncommittal and It’s Complicated.”

Meanwhile, Facebook.  Don’t you think you should give everyone a place to indicate if they happen to be a judge or a doctor or have some other status where I would be mortified if I accidentally sent them an invitation that says “Mr.” or “Ms.”? It would be just another form of bragging, which is essentially the raison d’être of Facebook, no? (To be fair, I didn’t see The Social Network.)

Also, how do I decide who gets a “Mrs.” on her invitation?  I generally hate that title, but far be it from me to impose a “Ms.” on a nice married lady who embraces the R in the middle.  Is it safe to “Mrs.” every married woman who took her husband’s name and is not a doctor or a judge? Or is that making assumptions I shouldn’t make?

In short, there are only a few short weeks until my save-the-date deadline, and my Excel spreadsheet is a sea of blank cells, and my etiquette needs a re-sharpening. HALP.

Two Divided By Zero

I spoke with our wedding planner today, and she asked if we’ve finalized the guest list.  I told her “more or less.”  Which means two things:

1. I keep remembering more people.  You maybe would think that if I forgot this person exists for this long, I should not be inviting them to my wedding.  But that is overestimating my memory.  I forgot blood relations. I forgot close friends.  When will I reach the point where I am confident I haven’t forgotten anyone else?

Did anyone else have memory lapses when it came to the guest list? How did you overcome that problem?

2.  The Plus One Dilemma. I’m torn over this.

Reasons I would like to give everyone a plus one:

  • Not having to decide who gets a plus one and who doesn’t.
  • Not making single people feel somehow devalued.
  • Not having to figure out how to make it clear on the invitations who has not been given a plus one.
  • Selfish reason: I have taken a date to wedding when I was single, and I was very glad to be able to do so.

Reasons I think we probably should not give everyone a plus one:

  • If everyone can bring a guest and everyone does, we’ll be over capacity.
  • If we are at or just slightly under capacity, we’ll still likely be over-budget.
  • Selfish reason: I want people to fall in love at my wedding.  SO BADLY.  My cousin is marrying someone he met at his best friend’s wedding.  That’s my dream.   I have a lot of attractive single friends. They should meet each other at my wedding and fall in love.  Or at least screw.

So there are my current wedding problems.  I’d like to take a second to point out that thinking about wedding problems for the last twenty minutes or so as I wrote this post was a delightful vacation from thinking about real problems like, “will I ever get a real job?”  Yay, wedding!