Tales of Fails and Fixes

Wedding Planning

Nobody’s perfect, least of all me, and while I have quite the success record behind my beaded belt, the last few weeks have turned up a few fails that I’m glad happened now and not closer to the wedding day!

Guestbook Fail

I figured our guestbook was all tied up with the proverbial bow ages ago, but one of the things on the still-too-long to-do list was to actually get everything in one place and box it up to take the to the venue. The only thing I was missing were the pens for people to sign the corks so I picked up a couple of purple Sharpies on the way home from work–even wrapped them in purple washi tape to make them “fancier”–and was just about to put them into the bag with the corks when I decided to test said pens.

Am I ever glad I did! They both dried up before each could write my name once.

So I set about testing every pen we had in the house (and since both Road Trips are rather fond of writing implements, that was quite a selection) and found a few things to be true:

  • Felt tip pens of all sizes and brands get sucked dry when applied to corks.
  • Small-nib pens are tough to read over the texture of the cork.
  • Ball-point pens are your best bet.

Which pointed to this pen in particular:


PaperMate Profile bold tip | image via Amazon.com

Of course, that’s on UNUSED corks.

I had one of those right-before-sleep thoughts that wondered if my results were what they were because I wanted to use fresh corks so that I could make something out of them afterwards. So I grabbed a used cork to give it a whirl and the Sharpie worked just fine on those. And smaller-nib pens didn’t skip over the surface, probably because of the compression the corks got in the neck of the wine bottle.

So the fix for this fail is either new pens or old corks, or maybe both just to be safe.

Favor Fail

Favors rock. I always thought it was one of the worst things about getting older is that party favors seem to go out of style after you hit double digits. Which is why I make favors a priority for all of my parties–why should kids have all the fun?

A good favor needs to be more than just a tchotchke, it needs to be functional or–better yet–edible, to make sure they don’t get left behind. My first choice was to make small jars Champagne Jelly and things were rocking right along until the first dozen failed to gel.


I’ve made preserves before (specifically marmalade) and had no problem getting it to gel. And the actual processing went flawlessly with every jar sealing tight. But this time the jelly just didn’t go beyond a syrupy consistency. But the canning experts say there are ways to rescue batches like this so I gave it another shot. Even tested it before jarring to make sure that it was going to gel and all signs pointed to success.

So much for tests!

Now, I can be pretty stubborn and if this had happened a few months ago I’d probably plug away at it until I got it to work. But it didn’t, so I made a made the call to find a back-up favor just as tasty and just as appropriate to our theme without breaking the bank.

Enter Brix.


Brix is a measure of the sugar in a wine, fruit juices, and other liquids. Brix chocolates are made to complement wine. I first picked up a larger brick of Brix at World Market years ago, so when I needed something edible and wine-themed and relatively inexpensive, they were my first thought. Thankfully their smaller “bites” can be ordered in bulk, and in less than a week 3 pounds of Brix bites showed up at my office, ready to be packaged up and set at each place setting.

In fact, I think this might actually be a better favor as most people enjoy chocolate, and those willing to try Champagne jelly may have been fewer. I’m thinking my excess Champagne sauce might go well over brie…

Health Fail

This last fail, well, it’s a little tougher to fix than a stop by Staples or a few clicks on a website, but I’m working on it.

I can think of a lot of things a bride might need 3 weeks before her wedding: a personal assistant, spa appointment on standby, and unlimited vacation time top the pie-in-the-sky wishlist of many I would imagine.

Pneumonia wouldn’t have made the top 100 and yet it has decided to pay me a visit 3 weeks out from the wedding, all-but killing a week or productivity as far as wedding tasks go so far and looks to kill another one before we’re done. Thankfully it’s a minor case, I should be right-as-rain in time for the wedding, but it did make me take a harder look at that long list of projects and start crossing things off that I wasn’t as invested in. Things like out-of-town bags and bathroom baskets, cute invitations to the rehearsal dinner, and some other decorations that wouldn’t have a huge impact on the day but would take more time and effort from me than I have to give.

What remains is mostly quiet work: stuff that can be done largely on the computer (our playlists, signage, etc.) or small projects that don’t have me doing any standing or heavy-lifting.

Here’s hoping this got all the fails out of the way and the next couple of weeks will be smooth sailing!

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