How to Fund a Wedding You Cannot Afford

01.16.13

Celebrate Plus crowdfunding for weddings

I noticed that I had a new twitter follower the other day, CelebratePlus. I then clicked on the profile and saw that Celebrate Plus is a fundraising site for celebrations, most specifically weddings.

No really. You invite people to your wedding and ask them to help pay for it.

Yes, I realize that I’m judgy and mean and that there’s no way that anyone will ever read this post without understanding full well that I do not want to be invited to a wedding where I’m asked to chip in for my chicken buffet dinner. I know that people will think that I’m selfish and rude and that I’m here to be sanctimonious and remind you that it’s not good to start a life together in debt. The wedding was the best day of my life up until that day in 1997 but now in 2013. I can’t say there haven’t been better days and I also can’t say it was the most important day of married life. The moments of devotion when everything was crazy wonderful or incredibly challenging brought us closer than a party ever could.

With that being said I know that these services exist because people want or feel like they need them and I asked Nelson Olavarrieta (the founder of CelebratePlus.com) for a quick interview and he happily complied.

Here’s Nelson’s story:

Almost two years ago I was out with my wife having dinner. We were through a difficult economic situation, at least comparable to a few years before when we both were working and with no kids. We remembered how our wedding was a great celebration, how we received not only the company and love of our friends and family, but also how we didn’t spend a dime in the party, how our family stood behind us, and all the gifts we received. Wow, we were so lucky.

That made me think what we would have done with all the money that was spent on the celebration and the gifts. I remembered an episode of the TV series “Friends”, when Chandler is having cold feet the night before the wedding and his pals Joey and Ross ask him to have dinner with them. “Well I invited 200 people to have dinner with me tomorrow, so I don’t want to spend on dinner tonight” or something like that Chandler said.

My wife and I agreed that it was a waste of resources to spend that much money on a “party”. It isn’t more reasonable that all the people, friends and family, who care about you, “invite” the marrying couple to have ‘dinner’? 200 paying the dinner of 2 is better math than 2 paying the dinner of 200.

Or worst, what if your personal or family’s current economic situation doesn’t allow you to spent that money and not be able to have a marvelous time sharing one of the most magnificent times of your life? What if instead of spending on a party people can give money down on their house, pay their honeymoon, buy a needed car or save to pay for the expenses of a new family. What if people can save that money and put it in a college fund for their future kids?

If you don’t have money for health care, are you supposed to wait for your death? If you don’t have money for a wedding are you supposed to not have a good time in that special moment in your life? Everybody can have a shot at that if we built a friendly platform to invite and raise funds.

“Something needs to change, somebody needs to do something about it”, I said, and instantly hit me back. I NEED to do something about it. I’m a lawyer and have experience in a couple of previous Internet startups, so I said: Let’s start again! In the next days and months I came to the concept of CelebratePlus.com, something like Evite plus Kickstarter, a platform where any person who is having any kind of personal event can easily invite their friends and family and with the new etiquette that internet gives you, be able to ask for funds and raise them automatically.

CelebratePlus.com is now a reality and it has been live since December 2012. We are available in the US but soon we will be available for the rest of the world. We partnered with PayPal because they are the most used and trusted online platform for payments and people can trust their name to handle their money.

We have received an amazing response and people are organizing events as varied as weddings, quinceañeras, retirement parties, dances, slumber parties, pizza night with friends, game watching parties, you name it. People are creating their accounts, creating events and raising funds. The lack of funds will not stop anybody to share a great moment of their lives.

We have built a platform for friends and family to share their support to the ones they love and we love what we do.

I’m dying to hear how y’all feel about this. I also must say that it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it because soon enough we’ll all be invited to a crowdfunded event. It makes sense in a lot of ways even if it makes me bristle. Let’s face it, I’m bristly.

Also, if I attend a crowdfunded wedding do I get to deduct that from the gift check that I write at the end of the party? What would Miss Manners say?

Q&A with Sitizens.com Founder and CTO Tim Linden

09.26.12

A few weeks ago I started noticing that Sitizens.com was referring a little traffic to my site. It seemed to come in bursts and it piqued my curiosity so I went over to the site and found that Sitizens is an online game where you try to become the King (or Queen) of a domain by visiting it and clicking a little bookmarklet.

When I signed up for Sitizens I noticed they asked for a paypal email address in case they had to send me money. I haven’t seen that since iwon.com used to pay you to surf the web.

I’m pretty sure that Sitizens has huge value for bloggers and I’m trying to wrap my head around how ultimately I’ll use it. I had a bunch of questions for the guys over there and Tim Linden (founder and CTO) was kind enough to answer them all. I hope you enjoy this interview.

 

I just discovered sitizens.com and I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is. It is a game? A community? A marketing platform?

Sitizens is an online social game. For the end user it’s about having fun, taking control of domains you love, and finding new domains. We come from a marketing background so we see huge opportunities for those savvy enough to utilize Sitizens for their website.

Are bloggers using sitizens? I know that your users are reading blogs (waving to my readers and really grateful that you found me) but I’m not sure how a blogger uses sitizens. Can you provide an example?

So far I’m not aware of a blogger specifically using Sitizens to help them in blogging. It’s mostly been bloggers who find Sitizens is sending traffic to their site and they come by curiosity. The way I see Sitizens helping bloggers is repeat visitors. Everyone who blogs wants people to read their content, I sometimes get frustrated having thousands of people subscribe via email only to get a few comments. Sitizens is literally about coming back to your favorite sites every day. I personally would use Sitizens by having a new blog post every day and putting an ad into the Sitizens ad center. The new content would keep people who come back reading, and the ad center would get more people finding your site while exploring. Then it’s up to you to have valuable enough content that the people exploring decide they want to arrive at your site every day. We’ve got way more to come in the pipeline to allow any site owner to leverage Sitizens however they see fit ;-)

Whose idea was Sitizens? Can you tell me where it came from?

I came up with the idea. I’ve always liked playing a variety of social games online so creating a social game was always something I’ve wanted to do. As a Dad I’ve also had the joy of having two daughters want to be the Queen and fight over who is Queen or who isn’t. I wanted to come up with a game that anyone could play, but they would play because they really really want to hold their turf. What better way than being able to be King or Queen of anything? And when you play with friends there is nothing more enjoyable than calling them up on Skype right after you took their precious domain!

Y’all hang out on G+ a lot talking about your work, do you worry about sharing trade secrets or is it all coding and fart jokes?

We’ve always been a very open company. We learn from others and are OK with others learning from us. People have stolen ideas from us years before we started doing hangouts so hiding behind closed doors doesn’t help anyone. On top of that we’ve had some really fantastic ideas come from people who are watching and chatting with us. So really our trade secret is getting free ingenious ideas from your loyal fans.

What’s the current demographic?

The demographic has actually been the most surprising part. We’ve got women who love shopping, we’ve got men who love gaming, we even have some old people playing. That’s been the most fun, finding all the different types of people out there. For instance, I found one guy who was really into wood working and was King of a ton of wood working sites. I think that’s why it’s so addicting.. You are fighting for the sites you actually like!

Are we all destined to be gamers even if we think we aren’t?

We’re all gamers! Whether we like to admit it or not we all love achieving things and winning things and proving we are better than each other. The only thing that separates us is the ways in which we game. Some people like the nerdy guilds and want to buy items in the store and get their friends together and plan raids on domains. Others like casually playing with their friends and finding neat crests. We try to incorporate social gaming in some aspect or another in all our sites. It’s what makes it fun to come back!

 

As a complete aside I recommend calling their toll free number at 877-244-3581 and listening to the outgoing message. It’s what made me realize that these guys are nutty enough to actually make something that works. 

Win a Pair of Christian Louboutin Shoes

08.21.12

Of course there’s another amazing start up coming out of Los Angeles (Silicon Beach if you will). This time Brian Lee, the founder of Honest Company, Shoedazzle and Legal Zoom has come up with a new, fun way to shop exclusive deals from your favorite brands and celebrities.

TopFloor will be using entertaining videos to make discovering new and interesting products effortless and enjoyable (ummmm hellllllooooooo… shopping on the internet is always fun there’s no three way mirror and fluorescent lighting).

TopFloor hasn’t launched yet, but they’re getting ready to – and to celebrate they’re giving away 4 pairs of Christian Louboutins!

Let’s be frank, I recently sold my last remaining Louboutins after trying to give them to my daughter for a school dance. I’m sort of “over” the red sole but then I was killing time in the shoe section at Barneys and saw these.

And then angels sang I realized that I did, in fact, still love some of what Christian Louboutin makes.

They’re giving away shoes in four separate waves of giveaways so you can enter during each of the four giveaway periods (and I will remind y’all)

Giveaway Details

TopFloor is giving away one pair of Christian Louboutins every two weeks until October 8th. The entry periods are:

Entries for first Grand Prize Drawing begin at 12:00:00 PM PT on AUGUST 13, 2012 and ends at 11:59:59 AM PT on AUGUST 27, 2012.
Entries for the second Grand Prize Drawing begin at 12:00:00 PM PT on AUGUST 27, 2012 and ends at 11:59:59 AM PT on SEPTEMBER 10, 2012.
Entries for the third Grand Prize Drawing begin at 12:00:00 PM PT on SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 and ends at 11:59:59 AM PT on SEPTEMBER 24, 2012.
Entries for the fourth and last Grand Prize Drawing begin at 12:00:00 PM PT on SEPTEMBER 24, 2012 and ends at 11:59:59 AM PT on OCTOBER 8, 2012.

Good luck and if you win please send me a photo of yourself in your new shoes.

Everyone Cries at a Business Lunch

03.14.12

There’s a startup in town that I think is going to be a winner. I love the concept so much that I told my friends about it before I even met with the founder. Which is awesome… for them.

Today I snuck out for lunch at the London presumably to talk to start up guy about his start up and instead we swapped engagement stories. I told him about Mr G proposing in London and he told me about proposing to his partner in Amsterdam. And I cried because as he was telling me about it I was imagining being his fiancée and having someone love me that much.

And then I remembered I did have someone that loved me that much so I cried a little more. Then I remembered two important things in this exact order:

I am wearing mascara.

This is supposed to be business.

I thought about dabbing at my eyes and trying to pass it off as an allergy. I think it’s a well established fact that I’m no actress so I wiped my tears away and smiled and complimented him on being so romantic.

I’m puttering around the house, enjoying the kids and the sunshine. I’m feeling grateful that this will be my 15th year with a man who moved mountains to marry me and grateful that I have the sort of job where you can sentimentally weep at lunch.

Startup Series: Wittlebee A Clothing Club for Well Dressed Kids

02.13.12

wittlebee logo sean percival

Wittlebee is the second startup to come out of Science and it’s another good one. Every parent knows that the first half dozen years will have you shopping for clothes endlessly. Some mothers enjoy this. Some fathers enjoy this… I like to call them the other 1%.

You see I loved buying my daughter clothing, before she was born, with gift cards… but once the baby is on the scene buying a carton of milk is as much of a shopping adventure as anyone needs. By the time my son came around I was like, “Mooooommmmmm…. please buy the kids clothes because shopping makes me cry.” And she did. Bless her and bless the Cabazon outlets.

Don’t get me wrong, buying a party dress or a little suit is fun, but buying a stack of onesies, leggings or long sleeved shirts… not so fun.

Enter Wittlebee. They will send you a box of essentials every month. Every. Single. Month.

wittlebee

Ooh, and guess what? It’s really high quality stuff. If you look on their facebook page you’ll see posts from their customers like this one.

i’m loving Wittlebee! Anyone with kids from new to 5yrs HAS to check i out!! 8 articles of clothing for $39/month.(your first box is $19.99) One onsie costs $16 so its totally worth it!! USA made Brands like Cotton Seed & American Apparel. Also Baby Gap & Gymboree…Only the best brands!!! Plus if you have multiple kids you can mix and match sizes in your boxes….Im super excited about this idea!!

I’ve heard about Wittlebee for a while now because Sean Percival is the founder and he’s a friend of ours. What sort of cinches the deal is that Sean’s wife Laurie is known around Los Angeles for her impeccable taste. I knew all along that with Laurie as the woman behind the scenes those boxes would be top notch.

Wittlebee is truly personalized, when you sign up for a subscription they ask a ton of questions.

Boy or girl?
Age?
What size do they currently wear?
What colors do you like?
What style items do you need the most?
What’s a shopping trip like?
What’s your child’s style?
What’s your child’s personality?

The first box may take a while, up to two weeks and then they arrive monthly thereafter.

A Wittlebee subscription is a fabulous gift, particularly since new parents are often showered with gifts the first months and then scramble to find time, energy and money to buy new clothes after the newborn stage is over.

There’s a robust community over at the Wittlebee Facebook Page, and if you’re looking to try it out here’s a coupon that will give you 50% off your first order.

[UPDATE: The coupon code is now worth $10 off the first month]