The Entitled Generation: Ch-Ch-Changes in the wedding industry

Working as a server, chef, bartender, and wedding coordinator for the wedding industry since 1998, I have seen some startling changes in expectations from brides, grooms, and guests at wedding venues.
  Having worked in various capacities at two wedding venues in Southern California since 2001, I have seen weddings change from understated, modest, religious affairs to overblown pretentious Vegas style blowouts. Any attempt at treating a wedding as a sacred, special gathering with just the bride and groom’s closest family and friends has gone the way of champagne fountains and balloon arches (just to make a reference to popular wedding trends when I started in this industry 16 years ago). Back when I first started, it was rare for a bride and groom to have lived together before marriage and even more rare to have children before marriage. Of course it happened, but it occurred about 20% of the time. Starting within the last five years, courtships last on average 5 years and include living together. About half the couples I see walk down the aisle have children old enough to be the ring bearer and/or flower girl. Before any of you chastise me, I am not trying to put today’s couples down. I am merely making a point of what marriage means to today’s couples. Many couples in the past would date for no more than two years and plan a special, intimate wedding with just their closest family and friends to celebrate their new lives together. They would be moving into their new place together for the first time. This attitude gave weddings a sense of being sacred and a way to spirtually celebrate the union of two people very much in love.
…..Flash forward to 2013: I just listened to the groom make a speech that went like this, “Jennifer and I have been dating five years. I was hestitant to ask her to marry me at first. But I’m glad we got to this point.”
This is what I like to call a “might as well wedding.” This is not the first speech of this type that I’ve heard and it certainly won’t be the last. The groom figures he “might as well” ask his girlfriend of five years (I’ve seen some couples say it took 8-10 years) to marry him despite his reservations because he isn’t going to do any better, she’s already putting up with him so it’s convenient, and he’s likely getting pressure from his family to make it official, so he “might as well” put a ring on it. Couples in this situation don’t look at weddings the same way. They see their wedding as an excuse to plan an extravagant blowout. They not only want to invite their closest family and friends, but anyone and everyone who has known them as a couple for the last 5+ years they’ve been together. Believe me, after that many years together, that’s a lot of people. They want their wedding to cater to their every whim. It’s like the sweet 16 party they never had. It’s like that trip to Vegas they should have taken when they were single, but they never got around to it because they had been dating the person they are now marrying. They feel as though singles trips of this kind would make them appear unfaithful to their partner. Instead, they have nights in with their live in love instead of having an occasional “girls night” or “lads night” like couples have traditionally done before the decision to live together caused a change in opinion of what it meant to be faithful. They never had time to enjoy the single life because most couples I meet have been dating since high school and spent most of their twenties living together and/or having children. They didn’t get to party like young people should be doing at their age. As a result, they don’t quite understand the purpose of their wedding. They want to act like teenagers at their wedding. Everything must be EXACTLY the way they want or there will be hell to pay. The bartender MUST keep serving the guests shots even if the guests are noticeably intoxicated. Having worked as a bartender for various So Cal wedding venues since 2004, I have seen brides’ and grooms’ attitudes completely change. Brides used to come up to me and ask me not to over serve the guests because they didn’t want guests to get too drunk and behave inappropriately at their wedding. They didn’t want guests to disrespect the solemnity of the occasion. Many brides requested that shots be off limits. I cannot even remember the last time I was requested by the bride or groom not to serve shots or over serve guests in general. I think it was at least 2007. Now if I or my coworker decide to stop serving someone who is obviously intoxicated (it’s against the law to keep serving them, by the way. The bartender can be fined $1,000), I used to be able to calmly explain the liquor laws to the bride, groom, and family and they would actually calmly reply, “I understand. I’ll keep that guest away from the bar.” Within the past three years, brides and grooms have treated me as if I was challenging them and trying to ruin their “special day” by cutting certain guests off from the alcohol after noticeable intoxication. I would explain to them that I am following the law and I am the one that will be in trouble with the A.B.C. if I serve someone who’s drunk. I can even lose my job. Now I honestly fear my partner and I can be fired from our venue as bartenders simply because we have the judgment, training, and common sense discretion to not allow our wedding guests to do whatever they feel like just because they feel like it. Welcome to the entitled generation. Just last Saturday, the groom demanded to know my name as well as my Co bartender’s name because we had to cut off two over served guests from the bar. He was angry and said he was going to leave a review online. He didn’t care about his guests driving home drunk. He just wanted to ensure that my partner and I were going to hand out the booze like it was candy to whoever demanded it for a whole six and a half hour shift. This is not the first time in the last 3-5 years that guests were upset that my partner and I would make this kind of judgment call to ensure guests’ safety and to serve responsibly. We’ve been trained to adhere to all current California liquor laws but seriously SCREW US for having the complete and utter gall to expect the rules of our venue to be followed. We’re trying to ruin their wedding and they will leave a negative review online saying how much our venue screwed them over.
This sense of entitlement not unlike a kid at a candy store does not just apply to bartending but to serving and managing also. A DJ demanded to speak to my boss when I told him that the door behind his set- up station does not open. He didn’t care that we had rules at our venue. His preference was more important. That is the shift in entitlement nowadays. Brides, grooms, guests, and vendors are actually guests at our venue. Instead, they act as squatters who take total control over how they want their experience to be. They tell my staff what THEY want instead of listening to my staff go over the safety rules to ensure their maximum safety and enjoyment. The father of the bride walked over to the air conditioner and turned it up. A few years ago, he would have asked a staff member to do it. A bride was furious with my boss that her dinner was served 15 minutes behind schedule. My boss spent half an hour (literally) explaining to her that it was due to the fact that she and her wedding party requested that they be allowed another 15 minutes to get ready for the grand entrance. The entire blame was on the bride, but she wanted it to be our fault. She then left a negative review online saying “No one was willing to talk to me or help me when I had issues.” So for some reason my boss talking to her for half an hour did not count. It was an untruthful review but yelp put it up on the list of recommended reviews and chose to “filter out” the positive reviews from real customers of ours as “not recommended” because our small company can’t afford to pay yelp’s extortion fee of $20 a month for the whole year to rearrange the positive reviews on top under “reviews that are recommended.” The other venue I’ve worked for wants to boycott yelp due to these shady practices. They have the contracts to prove the satisfied customers whose reviews are “not recommended” are real just like my other venue will. Between the changing sense of entitlement of customers for the reason I described, and the internet’s ability to post slanderous, untruthful reviews as “recommended,” (one called my bartender a “crook” because the bride and groom chose to have a cash bar and she wouldn’t allow a guest to have a free drink just because he wanted one) I fear the wedding industry is not the same place I signed on to work 16 years ago. Now I am not saying every bride and groom, family, and guests in Southern California behave this way. In fact, when I work weddings through my family business independently, the bride, groom, family, and guests are gracious and very nice. They wouldn’t dream of making the same demands that I see them do at the venues I work for other companies. But knowing that some people feel they have the right to do this makes me worry for the future.
By writing this blog, I was hoping to spread some awareness of what it is like to be on the receiving end of this constant abuse from customers and the reasons why I think it exists. If anyone working in this industry would like to chime in, I welcome your feed back (be respectful and professional, please).

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Valentines Day: A Lesson From My High Schoolers

Sometimes as a teacher, I’m fortunate enough to learn valuable life-changing lessons from my students. One of those lessons is what I should not put up with from men on Valentines Day.
   I had a lot of blessings this Valentines Day. I actually got a chance to substitute teach again at the local continuation high school. Being able to connect with kids in a positive way is a very rewarding experience. These kids do not care for teachers in general (especially substitutes) and if you happen to be a white teacher, let’s just say you have your work cut out for you. It is an exercise in character building to say the least. I always tell myself that the only reward in taking an easy sub job over a more challenging one is that it’s easy. While working with these students, I’ve learned (by overhearing side conversations) about sex ed (handjobs), what to do if you have a pregnancy scare, where the best meth parties are in the desert, the difference between a “ghetto weave” and a “nice weave” and about how smoking weed “isn’t really a drug” and “it improves your concentration in school.” The best lesson I learned by far is what guys should give you on Valentines Day.
  I’ve had several suitors over the years attempt to seduce me with their well thought out and even better executed Valentines Day “gifts.” Let’s start with my magical Valentine of 2008 when the guy I was dating asked me if I wanted to go to the local bar to get a drink:

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Why of course I’d love you to win me over with alcohol on the most romantic day of the year. I could tell this date was planned for over a month (I will add my “sarcastic smiley” 😉 for those of you that are unfamiliar with sarcasm).

Who can forget Valentines Day 2009 when I was given a single rose (Just the rose by itself):

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….From Big Bob’s Last Second Roadside Valentines Day Emporium:

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Perhaps the most “memorable” Valentines Day was 2013 when my last boyfriend gave me…wait for it….

NOTHING!!!!!

And the funny thing was all three of these guys thought they were going to get laid. They didn’t even deserve a peck on the cheek. Ain’t nobody got time.

As I was teaching at the continuation high school, my female students for all 6 periods got the whole lot-flowers (plural), candy, and a teddy bear:

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It made me realize I was putting up with way less than I deserved. These girls were just 15-17 years old and their Valentines gifts from their 15-17 year old boyfriends were way better than the Valentines Day gifts I received as an adult. It was a wake up call. I’m going to expect better for my future suitors. Time to raise the bar.

At least I didn’t have any desperate, creepy guys on tinder that I’ve only known for three days try to rush to meet me so they wouldn’t be single on Valentines Day. That was my other Valentines Day blessing.

You know you’re 30 when….

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1. You go to Vegas with some friends who are turning 21 and they don’t understand why you don’t want to get black out drunk with them. Trying to explain that you’ve “been there” and “know better” gives you the playful title Mother Goose.

2. When your 20 year old friend just doesn’t get something (which happens ALL the time), you knock on her head and call out, “Hello McFly?!” like Biff in Back To The Future as she backs away worriedly and asks, “What are you doing?”

3. Your proclamation, “George Michael is one of the greatest singers of all time!” is met with, “Who’s George Michael?”

4. To your 20 year old friends New Kids On The Block means you’re going to have some new neighbors

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All my 20 year old friends asking me to describe these pop culture phenomenons and my 23 year old ex pretending he knows about them just so he can prove he can hang. Oh yeah? Just show me ONE childhood picture of you holding your Teddy Ruxpin doll or holding the VHS movie. You can’t, can you? Fail!

Any other 30 year olds out there have any stories to share about relating to their twenty something friends? Please comment below and we’ll share a laugh 🙂

Keeping an ex as a “friend” on facebook? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Oh yes, the big debate. Whether or not to keep your ex as a “friend” on facebook. One of my boyfriends said deleting your ex from facebook makes you seem “bitter.” I wouldn’t call it “bitter” as much as I would call it “practical.” Let’s get practical for a minute: Do you really care that your ex thinks you’re bitter for deleting him off facebook? In all likelihood, he’s not thinking about you at all. I know. That stings, but it’s true. He’s thinking about how he’s going to find his next lady friend. And you don’t want to have him as a friend on facebook so you can witness his journey. In a word:

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(Meme created by sydrocks)

Let’s face it: Guys have an unfair advantage over women. They are able to move on a lot faster. They can meet women a lot faster than women can meet men because men have all the control. They can approach women, ask them out, and be in control of the calling while women have to get all gussied up and wait to be approached. We women often keep waiting because as Liz Tucillo so eloquently put it in her book He’s Just Not That Into You:“There are many more good women out there than there are good guys to date.” It may seem sexist to some of you that a girl should have to wait til a guy approaches her first, but I can tell you from my experience that I have never had a guy be seriously interested in me that I’ve had to approach first. Seriously interested in sleeping with me? Yes. Seriously interested in dating me? Ain’t no homeboy got time for that. (Unless he approaches you first). The purpose of this blog entry and my blog in general is to share some of the dating mistakes I’ve made in my twenties and why I’ll never do them again now that I’m in my thirties. I would like to settle into my mama bear role and help all my twentysomething female blog follower “cubs” out. You’re welcome, my pretties. Now let’s get back to my original point (adult ADD is very real. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s made up like Kim Kardashian’s talent). If you are friends with your ex on facebook, you are eventually going to witness him posting a profile pic of the new girl he’s dating. And no, she will not be as pretty or prettier than you, but that’s not the point. The point is he’s moved on and he doesn’t give a shit about you anymore. Nothing hurts more than that very real and very devastating realization. And meanwhile because you have a little thing called “standards,” you can’t post a retaliatory pic of your new guy because he’s from the future. However, if you feel so inclined, it’s not a bad idea to get a bit drunk and ask a cute guy to take a picture with you at a bar that you can post until the right one comes along. This does take courage, though. Another reason why you should not keep an ex as a friend on facebook is if he made a conscious decision NOT to have your amazing self be a part of his life by deciding not to date you anymore, then why the hell should he get a sneak peek into your life via facebook? He didn’t earn the privilege of getting to know about your new job, new niece, new haircut, new froyo, I could go on but I think you catch my drift. Only real friends should know those awesome details. Not someone who broke your heart but is pretending everything’s still “cool” by keeping you at arm’s length as a friend on facebook so everyone can see what a standup guy he is by being able to “still be cool with his exes.” Meanwhile if you try to talk to him, he will ignore you. If y’all could indulge me as I take a quick trip to Sad Island, I would like to share my experience with my ex. He dumped me but kept me as a friend on facebook. One time I was logged on, I noticed that he was available to chat. I asked him how he was doing. As soon as I typed that question, boom! He magically logged off (Yay internet! A new way to get rejected by guys! It’s not just the phone anymore!) Coincidence? I think not. The only valid excuse would be if he was practicing his role as Stonewall Jackson for an upcoming college play. And we know that’s not true because that fool didn’t go to college. That hurt the ‘ol ego just a little bit. In a separate incident, I typed him a quick “hello” on his wall. He then again stonewalled me. Funny because he made a big deal about staying friends after we broke up. He said, “If you ever need anything or want to talk anytime, you can count on me.” I guess he meant only on Thaturdays which is a made up day, much like his empty promise. Shortly thereafter, he posted a pic of his new girl which made my heart feel like someone dropped an anvil covered in bird shit on it. I had no choice but to delete him right then and there. Why didn’t I just do it right away? Even though I feel great now, I just wanted to share my story so you ladies will think twice about keeping an ex as a friend on facebook. I know some of you may be thinking, “But what if I dumped him instead of the other way around?” It doesn’t matter. Is it really nice to put him through the same emotional mindfuck of thinking he still has your friendship but you’re really keeping this poor fella at arm’s length? Since my experience with this particular ex three years ago, I decided to immediately delete all my subsequent exes off facebook because practically speaking, why would you want to be an emotional masochist (credit: Alexandra Lewis, my brillant sister who coined the term) and prolong the pain when you both should just really move on? Remember that’s what you both wanted, wasn’t it?

Being an elementary school teacher: My secret weapon for dealing with adults

My secret identity comes out: I am an elementary school teacher. I teach both kindergarten through fifth grade general education and special education. There is a priceless reward in helping struggling students reach their full potential as scholars. I feel privileged to be a part of that. Perhaps an unexpected reward that comes from being an elementary school teacher is that the patient, nurturing, and maternal attitude that I use around my students had helped me successfully deal with adults in a way I never thought possible. I have a side job as a server on the weekends. I have learned that when communicating with my adult customers and coworkers, it is best to think of them as second graders. Talking to them as adults rarely gets the job done. It is better to talk slowly, calmly, patiently, and in a maternal style. I have several examples which I will list below:

1. One time the line was very long at the bar, so I helped the bartender out. One gentlemen asked the bartender, “Do you have limes?” She replied, “We ran out of limes,” in a regular tone of voice aimed at an adult male in his thirties. He then got belligerent and challenged us by stating, “You really don’t have any limes?” I could have said “no” in a regular adult tone. I could have even attempted sarcasm such as, “What part of “no” don’t you understand?” like I have seen male bartenders do in other bars (I would not recommend this strategy). Instead I had an idea. I wanted to calm the gentleman down so I replied very patiently, calmly, and slowly like I was talking to one of my kindergartners: “No, we do not have limes.” The key to my success was not to make it obvious that I thought he was mentally challenged for not understanding the first time or for thinking that he could try to intimidate two sweet women. I treated him like he was my seven year old student. I was nice but firm and also surreptitiously condescending (not in a way that was obvious). I held onto the word “No” in an attempt to drag it out like I do with preschoolers, “Noooo.” It helped to make my mouth into an “O” shape as if I was teaching this gentleman to sound out the letter. Guess what? It worked like a charm. Homeboy smiled and said, “No worries” as he quietly left the bar.

2. The next incident I was bussing my table when a woman in her forties asked, “Do you have any straws?” I replied, “I’m sorry ma’am we don’t,” in a kind, professional manner. You’d think that would get the job done, right? Instead I couldn’t have been more wrong when she burst out, “So you don’t have any straws?” She emphasized “any” as if this were The Sahara and I said we couldn’t find any water. It was a matter of life and death to have a tiny straw in which to suck up her soda. I can think of something else I’d like her to suck but I have to avoid getting off topic. I decided to treat her as if she were one of my first graders asking to go to the bathroom five minutes after I had just said no. I smiled and replied very calmly but firmly, “Still no.” This lady then got embarrassed for how she acted and smiled and said, “It’s okay.” I don’t know where these people come from. If I don’t have straws in my kitchen I can’t automatically pretend I’m Criss Angel and pull one out of my ass. (I’d rather not think about what Criss Angel has up his ass).

3. My final example has to do with my male coworkers ages 20-40. I was on break with all five of them. A June bug came crashing onto our table. Immediately the boys wriggled and cried out, “Ewwww! A June bug!” I told them, “June bugs are attracted to the light.” My 40 year old coworker mirrored my information to the rest of the group as if he had learned a new fact: “June bugs are attracted to the light.” He then picked up the struggling June bug and put it in a can of Coke. Having seen my kindergarteners kill bugs without knowing any better, I immediately forgot about code switching and talked to this 40 year old like he was a kindegartner. In my patient, firm, and maternal voice I said, “We do not kill June bugs. They are our friends. Just because they are inconvenient to us doesn’t mean their lives are worth any less than ours.” One of the 20 year olds snickered and said, “Friends. Hahaha.” Thinking I wasn’t looking the 40 year old took the can of Coke and dumped it out on the grass so the June bug could fly away. The next June bug that landed on the table got left alone. The boys allowed me to pick it up and release it. When one of the other 20 year olds said, “Don’t they live for only a day anyway?” I explained, “June bugs have a different concept of time than we do. To them, a day feels like 10 years to us. We wouldn’t want to cut their precious lives short just like we wouldn’t want anyone to cut our lives short.” The boys sat there transfixed as they were thinking about my lesson. I think the lesson I learned was the most powerful of all.

When “hip” gives way to “hipster”: My personal experiences with gentrification in L.A.

    If y’all wouldn’t mind indulging me, I would like take a brief detour from discussing dating and friendship to comment on a topic I feel very strongly about: Gentrification.
   Technically gentrification is the process of buying houses in an ethnic, low income area and fixing them up in order to increase property values so more white people will want to move in. As a result the area becomes less rough around the edges. According to Christian Lander, author of the blog and book Stuff White People Like, white people like me are supposed to love the idea of a neighborhood becoming more “white” and safer to hang out in. I must be in the minority because I believe gentrification has ruined one of my favorite bars in Los Angeles. I live in LA  and for the past five years or so, I have seen some changes in the Silverlake, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park neighborhoods. Silverlake was a predominately multi ethnic minority neighborhood about 10-20 years ago. It was a bit run down and up and coming. Flash forward to 2007-2008: Silverlake is now the white hipster mecca of LA much like The Mish, or Mission District is in San Francisco. White people have moved in and changed the neighborhood. As a consequence, those changes started to infiltrate into nearby Eagle Rock. I remember the precise moment Eagle Rock morphed from a place that had a lot of gangs into a place white hipsters felt safe parking their cars on neighborhood streets after midnight. It was around 2008. My Filipino friend Dan told me he went to Tommy’s in Eagle Rock and was hassled by a Mexican gang member who asked him, “Where are you from, Ese?” Dan replied, “Nowhere,” and the gang member punched him in the face as he was sitting in his car. Six months later, my white boyfriend at the time told me he was living in Eagle Rock. I thought to myself, “Is that place safe?” Well what a difference just under a year makes. He took me to Tommy’s and I saw nothing but white hipsters eating at the outdoor tables. There were hipster kids walking up and down Colorado Blvd. I knew change was in the air. The bars were full of white guys with beards, black framed glasses, and flannel shirts. We were definitely not in Kansas anymore. I even went to the yearly Eagle Rock Music Festival by myself and walked back to my car after midnight without having to bust out my pepper spray.
  So what is the problem, you ask? I used to go to a bar called The Little Cave in Highland Park with my Mexican friends about 2-3 years ago. For those of you who don’t know, Highland Park or “Highland Parque” is a predominately Mexican neighborhood right next to Eagle Rock. No sooner than we started going to The Little Cave did I think, “Eventually the white hipsters are going to start taking this neighborhood over just like they did in Eagle Rock.” Flash forward 3 years later to 2013: I paid a visit to The Little Cave and was saddened to see that it is no longer a goth and punk bar that plays Joy Division and is decorated with bat wallpaper, dimmed red lighting, and L.A. Mexican Dia De Los Muertos motifs. Now The Little Cave is full of white hipsters. It has been renovated into a faceless, run of the mill neighborhood lounge like one would find in nearby Silverlake. The bat wallpaper is now just a plain brick wall. Joy Division has given way to bro’d out ’90s rap and current top 40 because I guess that’s the kind of music white people like. The dimmed red lighting of this creepy cool dive bar has given way to a bright, “safe” bar completely stripped of all its personality and charm. A fellow reviewer on yelp put it best: “The photos of the Mexican Revolution on the walls of this bar feels condescending as working class Hispanic families are being priced out of their homes just a few blocks away.” This observation broke my heart because this reviewer was able to so eloquently put into words everything that I have been seeing with my own eyes over the past few years. I missed being able to go to the nearby taco stand La Estrella and having my friends ask me if I wanted them to order for me in Spanish (not necessary, I’m an elementary school teacher in Southern California) but I appreciate how I was on the outside looking in at this really hip neighborhood that had its own identity that I felt privileged to be a part of. Now “hip” has given way to “hipster” as I watched a plethora of beards, flannel, fedoras, cocktail dresses, and flats stumble through their broken Spanish to order tortas at La Estrella. What has happened to my beloved Highland Parque and what is LA going to become in the next 10 years as gentrification continues its stranglehold on all the local diversity?

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Us at La Estrella in Highland Park in 2010.

The 12 Commandments of Online Dating

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I am adding an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not make ducklips in your profile picture no matter if thou is male or female.

My 12th Commandment: Thou shalt not take shirtless douchebag profile pics in front of thine bathroom mirror.

Do you guys have any online dating commandments to share? Comment below! I’d like to hear them. Let’s share our experiences and have a laugh 🙂