Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heavy Lifting

It's often said that women do more of the emotional work in the relationship. They also, obviously (at least based on a comparison between A's and my Facebook ads, and lots of anecdotal Internet-based evidence. Totally scientific!) do most of the wedding-planning work, on average.

When it comes down to it, A just isn't all that into the details of the wedding. I think of it as something of an art project, in a way—making things pretty and matchy yet oh so breezy and casual and "I couldn't care less whether the flower arrangements match the bridesmaids' shoes." (Note: I really couldn't care less whether the flowers match the bridesmaids' shoes. I'm not even sure the flowers will match MY shoes. I am sure I will find some kick-ass shoes though. But they'll be covered up by the dress whenever I'm not hiking up its skirt to dance my pants off. Or something.)

He (A, my fiancé, that is) does care about some things. Like the band. And the venue. And the food. And pretty much everything that isn't a minor aesthetic detail. In a wedding that has few minor aesthetic details. Yet somehow, I'm the one who ends up doing most of the work researching these things (except the band! He's done 100% of the work when it comes to the band. Or rather, he's done the part where he asks a friend of his to assemble a band, so maybe his friend is doing a big chunk there too. But I haven't lifted a finger. So, yeah, not all bad.) But basically, there's this attitude of "you care way more about this than me so do whatever you want," followed by an "except for that" when I make a decision. And it's tiresome, and I bet I'm not the only fiancée who's experienced this.

And now I find myself nesting (well, a little). We want to decorate our new apartment. And by decorate, I mean "paint the walls something other than white." And I'm now tasked with picking colors because he's crap at colors. I'm fine with this, as long as I don't bring paint chips home only to hear an "ew, anything but that!"

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say in this post, beyond that this whole experience is part of that larger pattern of women doing the more household-type work when it comes to making things pretty. Yes, A will help actually paint the walls and move around the furniture and all the rest of the moving work. But I'll be running around doing the 'pretty' stuff, thinking and planning and matching. It'll be fun, but it'll be work. And I already have a full time job, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dress!

So yesterday's APW post reminded me that A) I haven't posted in ages and B) I have a dress!

First off, a note about The Dress vs. a dress. As much fun as it is to dream up amazing all-white couture looks, and as likely as it is that this will be the only time in the rest of my life I wear something as formal as a full-length gown, this dress (ahem, in its current form, but more on that later) is one I'll wear for one day in my life. Yes, there will be many pictures of me in it, and some will probably be some of the best pictures of me ever (oh god I hope!), but it's one dress for one day. Part of me wishes I could spend the money on an amazing designer cocktail dress instead, as that's something I'd be able to wear over and over (and accessorize in multiple ways!)

But it's not, and it is my wedding after all, and the dress appointment was my best opportunity to see my two best friends, who I moved across the country from a year ago, in months, and hell, shopping is fun! And so, I made an appointment at the J. Crew bridal boutique in the Upper East Side of New York City. And I invited my two best friends and my mom, who really is my third best friend anyway.

My mom has decent sense of fashion and a better sense of what looks good on a person, but is also the type to reach for the tissues when a TV commercial gets too sappy, so I couldn't be sure she'd be able to see well enough to critique my choices. T loves absolutely everything and everyone, and doesn't have a critical bone in her body. K is pretty much the most enthusiastic person you'll ever meet. It wasn't until A (my fiance, whom I want to surprise on The Day with The Dress and The Overall Bridal Look) brought it up that I realized that, while shopping with this group would be a fantastic reunion, I hadn't exactly picked a group that would let me know how a dress made my ass look.

Luckily, K's boyfriend realized the same thing and they found another friend of hers to be her constructive criticism coach. All fall she practiced her "while the bodice of that is nice, it it's unflattering in the hips" and her "I think the other dress accentuated your waist better than this one." I'd probably have been fine with "Dude, your ass looks like it's the size of Alaska in that thing" and "Are you trying to look pregnant?" There will be enough pictures of me in this thing that tough love is entirely called-for.

And so, early on a Thursday in December, I made my way to Penn Station to meet my mom's train in from Boston, and we headed up to the first coffee shop we found on Madison Avenue. Now, J. Crew is known for it's beautiful but affordable wedding gowns. Little did we know, the rest of Madison Ave does not know the meaning of "affordable." Ok, I should have known, but at the same time, this is New York and I expect to see at least a Starbucks on every other corner. Instead, we found a coffee shop that came complete with menus and table service. Oh well, with luck I'd only be doing this once, I could splurge on a couple of $9 lattes.

Once the appointed time rolled around, we headed over to the shop. We got our own room, some sparkly water, and a personal shopper to wait on us hand and food. Ok, I've been watching Say Yes To The Dress, and I know you're asking "what about the champagne and the pedestal and the personal dress-putter-onner?" And yes, it would have been nice to have some champagne (or mimosas? mmm mimosas...) at 10am with my best friends, but I still felt pretty damn taken care of.

And you know what? It was so easy. I told the woman my size, budget, and the dress I'd picked online, and she got everything they had in my budget, almost all of it in my size. There was no "this is twice what you want to spend but I thought I'd just see how you like the style" hard-selling. No comments about losing weight or wearing a push-up bra or otherwise trying to look unlike myself just to be prettier on my Big Day. Just helpful dress-gathering and sparkly-water-ordering.

When all was said and done, I walked away with this dress:

... And now it's on sale for half as much as I paid. I wonder if there's anything I can do about that from the other side of the country... Anyhoo, it was delivered to my door within a week, and now hangs in my closet waiting to be taken to a tailor of my choice (the shop has recommendations, too) for a nip and a tuck there, because apparently my boobs are not even big enough for the already-flat J. Crew fit. But I digress.

And after the wedding, I fully plan to have it hemmed and dyed so I can wear it again and again. Yay!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crowdsourced wedding album/guest book?

Today TechCrunch posted about Keepsy, a web tool that lets you combine multiple people's photos into one album. They're currently promoting it as a group birthday gift, but it seems like something that could work for an album or guest book too.

So first, it makes it easy to use lots of different people's photos--and even copy more from Facebook if somebody doesn't upload to the tool directly. Plus there look to be a lot of ways to customize the pages.

I'm at work and haven't had the chance to try it out yet, but it seems to have potential.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Story So Far: the Food

The initial conversation about food at the wedding went something like this:

A: I want Ethiopian.
My mom: Nobody's going to even know what that is, let alone like it. There's a time and a place, and this is not it.

And so I began the lengthy process of looking for caterers, reading through menus, picking out items, getting quotes, and going back to the drawing board when the in-season mostly-vegetarian menus I'd picked cost $Z,OMG. We repeated this process a few times until something lucky, if not downright auspicious, happened: my mother went to a wedding and ate food truck food.* And she came back saying, "If you love it, the guests will love it. Or they'll at least not hold anything against you for it. Unless they're jerks or idiots."**

And so, we will be serving (as long as we like the restaurant when we go over the holidays) Ethiopian food, which conveniently lends itself to family style.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

We'll provide forks and knives for those who want them. But we'll also make explanatory cards for those who haven't tried it before, re-teaching everyone how to eat with their hands (I'd been feeling a bit light on paper goods, and the creative possibilities there-in, as we're not doing all that much in the way of invitations). And honestly, what's more fun than eating with your hands in fancy clothes? And it's true: if we love it, our guests will at the very least notice and respect that.

For dessert, we're thinking a small cake and a lot of pie.

* I'm going to pause right here. This is starting to sound more critical of my mom than I intended. My mother is not some super-old-fashioned, you-must-do-things-this-way-because-that's-how-they're-done kind of person. She is not an I'm-going-to-control-your-wedding kind of person. She is instead a thoughtful, modern, feminist who knows how to throw a hell of a party. But of course, a wedding is (or can be, and I hope mine is) more than just a hell of a party. It's a hell of a party for three times more people than any of us has ever planned for before. And she knows about as much as I do about the whole thing--namely, very little. Had I known better than to limit my own thinking on the matter, I'd have calmly explained why we wanted what we did, and why it would work.

** Last bit paraphrased. Or downright made up. But that was the sentiment.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Bridal parties according to Wikipedia:

"The Western bridesmaid tradition is thought to have originated from Roman Law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits (believed to attend marriage ceremonies) by dressing in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits would not know who was getting married. Even as late as 19th century England, there was a belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the wedding. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, the bride and groom are frequently dressed in the same fashion as other members of the bridal party.
Other people cite the Biblical story of Jacob, and his two wives Leah and Rachel, who both literally came with their own maids as detailed in the Book of Genesis (29:24, 46:18) as the origin of bridesmaids. These women were handmaidens (servants or slaves) instead of social peers."
"The required duties of bridesmaids are very limited. They are required to attend the wedding ceremony and to assist the bride on the day of the wedding. Bridesmaids in Europe and North America are often asked to assist the bride with planning the wedding and a wedding reception. In modern times, a bridesmaid is also typically asked to play a role in planning wedding-related events, such as a bridal shower or bachelorette party, if there are any. These, however, are optional activities; according to etiquette expert Judith Martin, 'Contrary to rumor, bridesmaids are not obliged to entertain in honor of the bride, nor to wear dresses they cannot afford.'"

Bridal parties according to The Knot (well, I gave up looking after finding those for the Maid of Honor, since that site likes to focus more on all the wonderful things you can buy--as a bride, bridesmaid, mother of the bride, you name it! well, unless you're a groom, because men clearly don't care):

"Here's what the MOH is primarily responsible for:
  • Planning one or more showers for the bride, with the help of the other bridesmaids and/or the bride's mother, sisters, etc.

  • Helping the bride choose her dress and shopping for bridesmaid dresses.

  • Making sure the bridesmaids all go for their dress fittings and get everything they need for the big day.

  • Lending an ear when the bride wants to/needs to vent, whether it be about her mother-in-law to-be or the fact that the napkins don't exactly match the tablecloths.

  • Generally keeping the bride sane during wedding planning.

  • Making sure the bridesmaids know where they need to be and at what time on the big day.

  • At the ceremony, standing next to the bride while she exchanges vows and holding her bouquet during the ring part of things.

  • The MOH may also hold onto the groom's wedding band for the bride (although the best man has traditionally taken care of both bands).

  • She may stand in the receiving line.

  • Bustling the bride's train for the party.

  • At the reception, she's often announced along with the best man.

  • She may dance with the best man during or after the couple's first dance.

  • Generally keeping the bride sane during the wedding itself."

  • I like the Wikipedia version better. Especially the bit about not expecting anyone to throw a party for me or wear a dress they can't afford. Also the tricking the evil spirits bit, though my plans will not result in any of my bridal party looking anything like me. Here are my expectations for my Bridal Squad*:
    • Be my friends (done!) Includes all that "support the bride" stuff, but it's stuff I know they'll do anyway because that's what makes them my friends in the first place. And I'll do the same for them when they get married, whether I'm in their wedding party or not.
    • Get a dress that you love within the palette (green-yellow-orange earthy tones, with a possible hint of deep burgundy thrown in).
    • Come to the shower if you can.
    I think that's it. Really I just want to celebrate and honor these connections as part of my wedding, and to have my best friends by my side if I get anxious or overwhelmed or otherwise emotional. Isn't that what this is supposed to all be about? Well, that and fooling some evil spirits.

    * Still in the market for a phrase I really like. I don't like "bridesmaids."

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Please note:

    BridePop: Those J. Crew dresses you posted about have been there for months. And the hyperlinked "spring wedding dresses" looks like it should take me to J. Crew (perhaps even a site featuring these "new" dresses that, by the way, are not new), not to your post about Monique Lullieherreher. Yes, I love Monique Lullihereher's dresses as much as the next gal, but if I'm hoping to check out something I might actually afford, I'd rather not get randomly redirected to yet another feature about gorgeous lace numbers costing in the multiples of thousands of dollars. Seriously, BridePop, you are this close to getting unsubscribed from.

    Photographers: It's been said before, by many many people, but seriously, quit making websites that:

    • Resize my browser and/or open a new browser window.
    • Play music (don't you know looking at photographers' websites is a favorite way for many engaged persons to kill some time at work?
    • Have flashy animation.
    Instead, please make your website:
    • Clean, simple, and ideally HTML (though I do understand the need to prevent people from stealing high-res photos from you).
    • List your price range in an easy-to-find place.
    That is all.

    Friday, December 3, 2010


    There are many opinions out there about what you absolutely must have at a wedding, what you absolutely can't have at a wedding, and even--oh my!--things the WIC* has deemed it ok to not do (really? are you sure it's ok if my dress is ivory or ecru instead of white, or--gasp!--tea length?). Well, to all of that, I say, punt! As in, I punt your expectations and rules off to some faraway forgotten place, ideally the sort that people start to wonder if it ever existed in the first place. And so, I present a recurring series of posts in which I discuss some OMG-YOU-ABSOLUTELY-MUST-DO-THIS expectation, coming from the wedding industry or from some outdated tradition, and why we'll be saying 'no thanks' to it at our wedding. And so, I present...

    Punt! Registering at a housewares store or its related website

    Everyone gets the idea of the registry: couples used to get married early enough in life that they actually did need all the stuff for their home and registering for a specific flatware set ensured that not only did company not judge you for having mismatched plates but the plates stack together well when put away.

    A and I, like so many couples, have been living together for a while now, and before that lived on our own. We have a lot of stuff. We need little, and we don't want stuff that we don't need. We don't care if things match (I've actually always had a small fantasy of having completely mismatched dishes that all sort of go with each other anyway), nor would we have much in common with the kind of people who would care about the matchiness of our cups and saucers.

    But it goes further. A feels particularly strongly about not creating new stuff when there's plenty of perfectly good used stuff around. He gets as much as it makes sense to get from thrift shops--in the case of appliances, the older stuff is often more reliable than the brand new versions. We'd really prefer to not register for anything, to be grateful for the mere presence of our loved ones, and to pick up things as we need them along the way.

    Of course, we are inviting many guests, and we cannot control what our guests think about the whole thing. We already know that some will insist on giving gifts. Rather than end up with whatever random things somebody else thought we might want, we've decided we should list, somewhere, the few things we do need, and encourage guests to find used items where appropriate.

    And it turns out, there's already a place to make this list, that keeps track of how many of each thing have already been taken care of. I do know how to do a thing or two with a computer, but I'm all for saving my time by using something that already exists. So we'll be "registering with," as it were, the Alternative Gift Registry, where not only can we write our own descriptions, and thus include something simple and elegant about our affinity toward used-but-not-used-up items, but we can also ask for less tangible things like for our faraway friends and family to come visit us, or donations to a charity of their choice.

    So this one's a bit of a compromise with tradition. And that, I'm fine with. And if we get somebody's classic, solid, KitchenAid mixer (oh how I covet thee), that's been sitting in their closet for the past eight years, then all the better.

    * WIC: Wedding Industrial Complex