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.