Thursday, August 28, 2008

Celebrate the silver moments

We can’t all be Michael Phelps and win gold every time we dive into the pool, but winning the silver remains an accomplishment to celebrate. So when Fitness Together in Lexington, MA was awarded a certificate commemorating their status as a Silver Level Franchise, they didn’t just want to frame the certificate – they wanted to display it in a way that was commensurate with this achievement. Who you gonna call? Purple Raincoat, of course.

Kerri Powers of Fitness Together with her Purple Raincoat collage

This custom-sized (11”x17”) collage uses blue, black, white, and (of course) silver to capture the spirit of this achievement. The certificate is mounted on full sheets of black textured metallic paper and gray-on-gray printed paper. Split sheets of blue suede paper are anchored with large silver eyelets. Below that is a subtle silver-on-black striped paper a layer of ocean blue paper, accented by strips of silver-patterned white paper. Silver metal mesh and sheer silver ribbon provide horizontal and vertical interest. A simple black frame picks up the strong black circle on the certificate.

How do they like it? “It’s really cool,” says Kerri Powers, co-owner of Fitness Together (and personal trainer extraordinaire). This collage is on display to inspire their clients and to remind them that success at every level should be celebrated.

Life is short; you’ve got to take advantage of every occasion to celebrate, whether it is large or small. So what are you proud of? Somewhere – in a box, in a drawer – you probably have a certificate marking some significant accomplishment in your life. When life gives you an award, say thank you, and then be sure to showcase your achievement with a Purple Raincoat collage.

P.S. Would you like to create an award as a keepsake for someone special in your life? Let’s talkPurple Raincoat can help you with that, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The other side of the coin - $27,800 just doesn’t buy what it used to

In contrast to our last post (the popularity of the $100+ invitation), it’s clear that rapidly rising prices are causing more couples to take a closer look at how they spend money for their weddings. From the August 20, 2008 Boston Globe:

“Couples planning their big days are finding that their budgets - whether hundreds of dollars or tens of thousands - won't stretch as far. The cost of the average American wedding is still $27,800 with 153 guests, but that $27,800 doesn't buy what it once did. Local brides and grooms have pared down guest lists, taken on creative tasks themselves, changed venues, and in some cases considered moving their wedding over state lines to save money.

Even some couples without budget constraints appear to be toning down their celebrations. According to Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of the Internet’s popular wedding website, “…there's less shame in going small as opposed to emulating a celebrity wedding. Some couples with no budget restrictions are using their money to make an affair look homier and small by doing weddings at home and on beaches, she said.”

So small can be beautiful. Take my wedding, for example. My husband and I got married on two weeks notice in front of 28 close family members and friends in my mother-in-law’s living room. Our reception was held in her home’s lower level. All of my out-of-town family was able to attend, as was our rabbi who came down from Maine (after Shabbat began). We had beautiful flowers and fabulous food (grilled outside) on December 30, when every caterer in town was available. I bought an off-the-rack dress and veil that needed minimal alterations. My husband wore his best suit; we did buy a new tie for the occasion. Our chuppa (wedding canopy) was made using my husband’s late father’s tallit (prayer shawl) and dowels from the hardware store (decorated with greenery by our florist). Ironically, we didn’t even have invitations – everyone was invited by telephone.

Our biggest indulgence was to hire the best available photographer, which was a fabulous decision because after all, photographs are one of the few things you have left when the wedding is over. We didn’t skimp on that, and we’re still happy about that decision. We have gorgeous photographs of our warm, intimate, spectacular wedding, which I wouldn’t have traded for anything. All without the stress of long-term wedding planning. And we had money left over to enjoy a honeymoon in Mexico.

So don’t be afraid to think small. Oprah Winfrey did a show on how couples might be better off having small weddings and saving their money for major anniversary celebrations if the marriage lasted 10 or 20 years. That’s not a bad philosophy. The important thing is to get married, not to go into debt to have a “fairy tale wedding.” And it’s a lot easier to live “happily ever after” when you start married life without a mountain of debt.

Six months after our small wedding, we had a party where we invited all of those friends and co-workers who otherwise we might have invited to our wedding. We kept it simple in a private room at a local restaurant with gourmet pizza, wine, and another wedding cake. For this party, we did have an invitation – now preserved in a Purple Raincoat keepsake collage with a photo from our actual wedding.

Wedding Anniversary Framed Keepsake
Originally uploaded by PurpleRaincoatonline

This collage uses a photo from our wedding plus the invitation from the "reception" held six months later. Read more about it and see other examples on the wedding/anniversary page at

It’s never too late to create a cherished invitation keepsake. Dig out that wedding invitation and let Purple Raincoat help you bring back the memories of that special day. What a wonderful anniversary gift for you to give to your spouse – or, kids, to give to your parents to celebrate their 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, 45th, 50th, or any other wedding anniversary.

So think ahead if there is one of these milestones coming up in your family, and get in touch with Purple Raincoat - beat the rush.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have you heard the one about the $100 invitation?

For many people, holding an event to celebrate a life milestone involves making choices based on cost. Some have an afternoon event because lunch costs less than dinner. Some use potted plants as centerpieces because they are less expensive than flower arrangements. Some print their own invitations or send announcements by email to save on printing and postage costs.

But it is obvious that for some people, cost is no object. I received an invitation years ago in a box that cost $4 to mail. The invitation itself involved multiple folds, inserts, wrapping, ribbons, and photographs. I can’t even imagine what that invitation cost.

When the sky is the limit, the invitations can take your breath away. And that’s not always a good thing, according to this story by SheSez on Divine Caroline.

(“T)oday I came home after schlepping the kids all over tarnation for after school activities, and spied a twelve-inch square box. What could it be? I lifted the lid to reveal the mother of all invitations! Sitting in a nest of curly, angel hair pasta-like wood shavings was a hand-painted tambourine. It was a beautiful work of art, depicting the first song that appears in the Torah.

And there’s more. The explanation of the relationship between the musical instrument and the Bat Mitzvah girl is offered on gold, pink, and cream colored stationery.
It spells out the significance of the Bar Mitzvah girl and the scene depicted on the tambourine.

I couldn’t help but start calculating how much this individual invitation must have cost. With a couple of clicks of my mouse, I established that each of these works of art retails at $65. Then, there’s the stationery, the wooden “pasta,” the square of Papyrus paper that adheres to the inside lid of the box, as well as the pink envelope that holds all the very expensive stationery. As I examine the box more closely, I note that the pre stamped, pre-addressed RSVP envelope bears a very special 58-cent stamp. But this is no ordinary stamp. Instead, the face of the stamp bears a photographic image of the Bat Mitzvah kid, posing like a showgirl cabaret style.

I’m on a roll here. I get out my calculator. I determine the cost of the individual invitation before applying a very simple multiplication calculation that would reveal the sum total of the invite alone. Now, remember, that’s before even considering the cost of the party.
Packaging—(gold colored, 12-inch square cardboard box, wooden “pasta” nest), probably $10
Postage—Silly me! It didn’t arrive in the regular mail delivery, it was delivered by courier. $20?

Math is not my strong point but that has to bring the cost of an individual invitation in at approx $100+. Now, we know at least one hundred kids have been invited so, what? Multiply this by 150? 200? You get the picture.

Suddenly, I have to stop my math project. The TV is blaring in the background with images of the fire wreaking havoc in Southern California. An estimated million residents have been evacuated and 1,500 homes have been burned. I’m thinking about how much time and money it will take to make things okay for these traumatized people.

Back to the matters at hand. I check the box noting my child won’t attend. He tells me (after all this!) he’s not especially friendly with Tambourine Girl. As I walk to my mailbox, the ash-laden air, contaminated from the Malibu fires, makes me cough slightly. I pop the envelope in the mailbox, marveling at the craziness of the world.”

In some communities, given unlimited resources, there will always be a “can you top this” competition – “oh year? Well, my invitation is (bigger, thicker, more layered, more expensive, more creative…you get the idea) than yours.” Does this make sense? You can draw your own conclusion. Send in your comments - we want to know what you think.

In my opinion, the most important thing about any invitation is that it reflects who you are and captures the spirit of the event. And that can be done at almost any price point.

Here's my invitation to you if you’re having a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, Sweet 16, quinceanera or other celebration

Whether you’re spending $1 or $100 on each invitation, make sure that Purple Raincoat has the opportunity to turn that invitation into a unique framed keepsake. We look forward to hearing from you and getting started on your one-of-a-kind work of art.