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

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Inspiration: OMG can you believe this bridesmaid hat?

    When Green Wedding Shoes titled the post Real Wedding: Maisie + Brian’s Whimsical Woodland Wedding, they weren't kidding. Can you believe this hat on the Maid of Honor?

    And those toadstools are just too cute. Note to self: Don't be afraid to have fun with the details.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    The Story So Far: The Venue

    I realized the other day that I've been writing all about my dreams and introspections and haven't mentioned anything about what we've already done. So let's gush a bit about the venue, shall we?

    We both love the outdoors, and A has fond memories of summer camp out in the woods in Maine. He even proposed while we were wandering around an uninhabited island (except for vacationers) off the coast of Sweden. So a big function hall just didn't feel very us.

    It was a struggle. I was excited about this lovely historic carriage house in my hometown, but A claimed that any wedding there would be too cookie-cutter. I found old barns and interesting museums. They were all expensive and it was hard to get much information from people about dates, drinks, and other details. (In case I forgot to mention already, I live in California and the wedding is in the Boston area, so planning takes even more Internetting and phoning and trusting my mother's judgment on the looking at places and sending back pictures aspects).

    And then my brother's fiance, who had been planning for a few months already and is magical, sent me a link to an old summer camp that now hosts vacationers and functions. And it's amazing! A loved it because it brings back his own summer camp memories. I love it because we can make a weekend of it and have a campfire barbecue welcome ("rehearsal"-esque) dinner with silly songs and s'mores. We get to think of it much more like a family reunion, a fabulous idea I got from 2000 Dollar Wedding. And it's just gorgeous!

    The outside (cocktails, hanging out, and rain-plan ceremony site) looks like this:

    The inside (dinner, dancing, the rest of the reception site) looks like this (twinkly lights included!):

    The outside outside (sunny day ceremony site) looks like this:

    And the campsite/fire pit looks like this!

    So with smiles from the weather-gods, we can have the ceremony outside, under a tree, and then party it up in the lodge, and then go hang out around a campfire and drink some beers. How exciting is that! I even get to have a second wedding outfit!* Because, really, sitting on a log in front of a potentially-coal-spewing fire is just not a good way to ensure I can dye, hem, and re-wear it.

    * NB: "second wedding outfit" will be jeans and a hoodie, with my hair still up. Ain't no way I'm buying a special outfit to sit around a fire drinking beers in. The point here is comfort, people! Comfort! And beer and fire!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Turkey and stuffing and in-laws, oh my!

    For my first feat of homemaking, A's parents and grandmother are coming for Thanksgiving. Eek!

    It's not that scary really. I've met them all before. But it does mean cleaning the house and figuring out where A and I are going to sleep and sorting out the turkey situation.

    We have the pie situation sorted out. We are so on top of pie. Back when apples were in season, we picked as many as looked edible from the two trees in the back yard and made about seven pies. Sure, we ate some at the time, but we froze three, pre-baked, to save for the holiday. So. Pie: Check.

    Too bad the pie takes up the entire freezer, leaving no room for a turkey.

    It's kind of exciting, hosting a holiday dinner. Sure, there's lots to figure out, like all the recipes and the timing. Of course, A's mom will be helping, I'm sure. But it's still just so adult to have Thanksgiving in my home. And it's so adult to cook a meal with the help of my mother-in-law (to-be).

    So we're cleaning and stocking up on root vegetables and sorting out who will sleep where and thinking of things to do for the rest of the weekend (if anyone has any ideas about fun wheelchair-accessible, grandmother-friendly stuff to do in the Bay Area, please do chime in!) And somehow without even noticing, we're growing up.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Manolo Blahnik Bride

    I have a confession.

    I want fabulous shoes for my wedding. Carrie Bradshaw, cost-more-than-a-month-of-rent shoes. The kind they don't even sell on Zappos.

    I figure, I'll wear shoes again. My dress (which will probably cost less than a pair of designer shoes would) will cover them most of the time at the wedding itself.

    I don't want some pretty-but-safe bridal shoes. I want works of art on my feet.

    I figure, when else will I have occasion to just say, to Hell with it, I'm getting myself something totally frivolous and fabulous, and I will love it.

    And just look at how damn spectacular shoes can be!

    Ok, shoe ogling done (for now). I do fully intend to get fabulous shoes for my wedding, but I'll probably find some far-less-expensive ones. Anthropologie has some knock-outs actually. And for the ceremony we're going barefoot, since that's just the kind of hippies we are.

    Photos taken from Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin websites. And BTW, the CL website is a Flash-tastic mess.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    On Engagement Photos

    I sometimes wish A and I were doing engagement photos. We have all of 5 pictures of the two of us together, and the one that isn't god-awful is mediocre at best.

    Oh! there is one that I really like:

    ... but more in that artsy "people walking away from a camera" way. Plus I love that jacket. But I digress.

    With my daily dose of wedding porn come a few engagement shoots. I look at all the happy couples and think about how if we had pictures like that we could send one to my mom to put in the announcement she's sending to the town paper, and use them on our in-progress wedding website, and we could get one with us on our tandem bike with flags hanging from it saying "you're invited" to use for our awesome postcard invitations.

    But engagement photos are not in the budget. And A hates posing for pictures and would just not be into it. And it's really just not us (What is us, you ask? Going out on our own so we have to take pictures of each other. Sigh.)

    It's times like this that I have to remind myself that I see so many engagement photos not because all that many people get professional engagement photos, but because photos in general, and especially professional ones, play well on the Internet. People like looking at pretty, well-done pictures. And so that's what I see. I don't see a million "I didn't get engagement photos! Here they're not!" posts on forums and blogs because, well, yawn.

    It also helps that, the more engagement shoots I see, the less I like them. Maybe this is just my subconscious trying to protect me from feeling bad for not getting them. But also, they're always uber-posed. She leaning her head on his shoulder, looking into the camera soulfully, as he looks away. They staring into each other's eyes holding each other a tad bit awkwardly. They sitting on an oh-so-put-together picnic spread. Thanks but no thanks.

    We do need pictures of us. But we need to get them them from going out and having fun with friends with cameras, so the smiles are real and the situation actually happened (I wonder if those couples even get to eat the picnics they set out as backdrops). They'll come, slowly, with time. And I'll get some of my better friends to bring their cameras when we see them for New Year's.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Let Me Eat Cake!

    Like many brides-to-be, I ogle wedding porn. Blog after blog of pretty pretty pictures of other people's weddings (and sometimes of made-up weddings in "inspiration shoots," which sort of bug me). The details are gorgeous, of course. Perfectly placed escort cards; rustic-chic bunting; dresses and shoes galore.

    And cake.

    Image: Style Me Pretty. Click for post.
    And more cake.

    Image: Grey Likes Weddings. Click for post.
    And cupcakes.
    Source: Martha Stewart Weddings.
    Source: Project Wedding Blog.
    Dessert tables.
    Source: Martha Stewart Weddings.
    OMG. I want all of it. Now. It ain't just the stress of wedding planning that makes brides-to-be gain a few pounds. Staring at all these gorgeous, gorge-worthy desserts is enough push anyone to the precipice of a croquembouche binge. And I'm not even completely sure what a croquembouche is! Besides some fancy French thing that I'm sure I could look up on Wikipedia.

    As for me, if all goes well, a friend will be making my cake in one of the first Do-It-Together (DIT) projects planned for my wedding. Yay!

    Monday, November 8, 2010


    Ok. So. I think I've officially calmed the fuck down. As you may have noticed, I've been a bit of a nutcase about this whole marriage thing lately. I got engaged, I got completely giddy about dresses and flowers and escort cards, and then I got terrified about the permanent parts of all this.

    And then I decided to do the A Practical Wedding book club. And the book was Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame).

    Side note: Ms. Gilbert's website is absolutely awful. A yellow background? Your own photo taking up half the page? Comic Sans!? I refuse to link to a particular book seller's site because I'm not trying to get you to buy it, but I was sorely tempted.

    So: Committed. It turns out that other people in the world are as afraid of marriage as I am. And as absolutely terrified of divorce as I am, too. It's ok that I'm not completely giddy, over the moon, falling over myself to show off The Rock and tell some magical proposal story and gush about whatever mundane-to-everyone-but-me detail I decided on for the wedding in the last ten minutes. I'd let this lack of all-glowing-excitement-all-the-time become some big scary sign that maybe he's not The One and everything had snowballed from there into a giant glowing pustule of stress and volatile emotion. The book was a much-needed reality check. I wouldn't say that I agree with everything Gilbert says, or that it's the greatest book about thinking about marriage ever written (I'm sure it isn't), but it was one right thing for me at the right time.

    And then there was the meeting. A whole bunch of strong, wise, smart women with more to say than just "ZOMG look at this picture of a cake I MUST HAVE IT!" It was amazing. Experience, advice, affirmation, all gave me just the perspective I needed that no, everything doesn't have to be perfect; I don't need to be glowing all the time just because I'm engaged. It was just the shot I needed to calm down and once again start to feel excited about this marriage and this wedding. All it took was feeling validated about my own insecurities to pull me right back into blushing-bride-to-be land. I guess it turns out that sometimes the best thing for a relationship is a bunch of strangers.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Facing Down Fear

    Forever is a scary word. Like, really scary. Lately my mind has been a whirlwind of "I have to pick up the bathmat after him forever?" "I have to worry that he thinks I'm not thin enough forever?" "I have to try, unsuccessfully, to help him sort out his stats homework forever!?"

    But being with A forever does not mean feeling like I do now forever. I'm a bit depressed--we just moved to the West Coast in January and I'm struggling to find my place here. So far my life here has revolved around A more than one should, since he's my only close friend who doesn't live a transcontinental flight away. I'm working on this, but it's slow, difficult, humbling process. In the meantime, I'm lonely, lack the perspective that friends can provide about such silly things as him forgetting to do the dishes, and it all makes me edgy and emotionally fragile.

    This is not forever. Living in a new place is not forever. Being completely new to my job—to my career—is not forever. Having a horrendous, California-sized commute is not forever. A's PhD program is not forever. His semester (with the impossible stats class) is even shorter.

    So yes, I will probably have to pick up the bathmat after him forever--or at least 'til death, but that's really my own personal forever. And many other household annoyances, I'm sure. But I'll learn to pick my battles and to remember that I'll be doing things that bug him just as much.

    And he'll probably have his too-high standards for how thin is thin enough forever, but I'll relearn to be confident in my own body, to decide for myself what is healthy and what is worth sustaining, and to ignore the nagging worries about the judgments that he now knows to keep to himself.

    There will be hard conversations, and we'll get better at having them. We'll learn to live together more comfortably. We'll grow with each other and become better distinguishers of which are the Big Deal Problems and which are the small annoyances best to ignore.

    And the grad school will end; the new career and city will become the familiar career and city; there will even be more new careers and cities ahead. Things will get better, and they'll get worse. And we'll face these changes together, forever.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010


    That's how it all starts, isn't it?


    Names are exchanged. And drinks. Phone numbers.

    And all of a sudden, three years later, here I am thinking about vows.

    Okay, I'm not really thinking about vows in a "what will I say" sense yet. But I'm thinking about commitment. A. and I were engaged in August of this year and are marrying in August of next. And there are so many emotions bouncing around in my head that I'm not sure how to sort them out. So here I am, in the probably false hope that if I spew a few into a keyboard and send them into the ether for anyone (but most likely no one) to see, I'll have myself more centered, calm, and settled by the time I have to figure out how to say, for all of my closest friends and family to witness, exactly what it is I want to commit to do for and with my partner for the rest of ever.

    As so many brides-to-be do, I dove into the magazines and blogs full of pretty pictures of pretty dresses and pretty flowers and pretty shoes and every single pretty detail you can imagine. I have a creative streak—a currently gravely stunted creative streak—and imagining how I might craft my wedding to have just the colors and details to make everything perfect enthralls me.

    But I've started to worry that in all of the daydreaming about the wedding, I haven't truly contemplated the marriage. Doubts creep through the shadows of my mind. What were once things-I-wasn't-thrilled-about are now things-I-have-to-live-with-forever. And so I come here to sort through my fears, my doubts, my excitement, stress, elation, despair—in a public but anonymous space, in the hopes that somebody will read and find value in my meandering thoughts, and that even the idea that somebody is reading will hold me accountable to keep writing.

    So, hello, blogotubes. I hope to see you again soon.