in which planning does not occur in a vacuum

Hey. Hey there. Long time, uh, long time no write.

So I was digging around in the admin area of this blog recently (don’t ask) and came across this draft post from May of 2010. That… was a long time ago! But… it was practically a finished post! That I never got around to publishing! So that’s fun.

You know what’s even more fun than an unpublished post? A published post.

So here it is. Taking you back to the pre-bridal-shower days in three, two, one


My mom called me up the other day. She had some urgent bridal shower business to talk about. I put on my frowny face and readied myself for a serious discussion.1

Wanna know what we talked about? Are you sure? Get ready….

Plates.

“Maria,2” she said. “What about the dishes and utensils for the picnic lunch?”

“What about them?” I asked, dumbly.

“I am worried the plates you get won’t be heavy duty enough for the food,” she said.

“Uh…” I had no idea what to say to this.

“Because you don’t want the plates to start bending or folding from the weight of the food,” she explained.

“I can… I mean, I can make sure to get some heavy-duty ones,” I mumbled lamely, grasping at straws.

“But you don’t know what kind of food you’re having yet,” she reminded me, stridently. We had already established that she is Worried That I Haven’t Thought About The Food. And now the Plates. My God, will someone please think of the Plates?

Can I take a moment to point out that he bridal shower is over two months away.

plates
Okay, well maybe I would pay extra if the plates looked like THIS. // Image credit paperchase.co.uk via Pinterest

“Have you thought about the color of the napkins?”

Yes, mom. The color of the napkins will be black, in honor of my cynical shower-planning heart.

No, I have to confess, I haven’t thought about any of these bridal shower details. None of them. Not a whit. Because for some crazy reason I was convinced it was as simple as going down to the local Whole Foods, looking in the glass case, pointing out some nice-looking edibles, and paying for them. Then, I’d go and pick out some sturdy-looking plates, utensils, and napkins with an eye toward price, not color.  Then I’d take all my stuff home and put it out on tables at the bridal shower and everyone would dutifully chow down on the grub and proceed to throw away the hand-selected plastic kitchenware and then we’d all, somehow, some way, move on with our lives.

But not my mom. My mom has Thoughts. She has Worries. She has Issues. She has Plans.

Plans about Plates. Plate plans.

And you know what? Sometimes, you just have to play along. Because even though you and your partner are the only ones getting married, you’re not the only ones involved. And the people involved frequently have different priorities than you do.

Sometimes you have to let things go.

Sometimes, you just have to think of the plates.


1 My mother can detect mockery long-distance.

2 She calls me Maria sometimes. No, Maria is not my given name. I’ve learned in these situations that it’s best not to ask.

so long and thanks for all the shoes

Well, that’s it.

I started this blog on July 11, 2009, and I’m ending it today, January 11, 2011. One and a half years. 213 posts. That’s a long time to spend talking about my wedding, and I think I’ve finally said all I need to say.

I kept blogging here even after our wedding back in September, because I didn’t want to just disappear. After all that planning and effort, I wanted to share with you what I felt went wrong and what went right about that day. It hasn’t been that easy — I had to sort through some challenging emotions and negative thoughts in the weeks after we got hitched. But then a remarkable thing happened, somewhere around two months into marriage: I stopped caring about the wedding anymore.

Can I tell you how liberating this is? The beau spent well over a year of our lives in the wedding trenches. Even longer for me, if you count those months before we got engaged when I secretly began trolling wedding blogs. Point is, for a long time the wedding was perpetually on our minds and constantly filling our to-do lists. It was a force. An entity. It was like an annoying roommate who kept odd hours and made unreasonable demands and never washed the dishes or chipped in for the cable bill. This stultifying living situation was normal, somehow, until one day the roommate finally moved out and you slowly came to realize that you could turn up the T.V. and stomp all over the floors and invite your friends over for a party again. All the stuff you were missing is back!

What I’m saying to all of you who are still in the planning stages is that it gets better. One day, you will not have to think about weddings anymore. You will not care about weddings anymore. You won’t even really care about yours! You’ll be like, “Whatever, that happened forever ago. These days I’m just preoccupied with what’s for lunch.” Which is kind of a lie because you’ve always been preoccupied with what’s for lunch, but that’s okay because your nearest and dearest are already familiar with your tendency to stretch the truth and they’ve already forgiven you for it. And then you’ll hold down the (+) volume button on your television remote until that sucker goes up to 48, and you’ll put on your heaviest boots and clomp around the wooden floors for a while just because you can. Freedom, baby!

My freedom has come. In fact, it’s long overdue. It’s been increasingly painful for me to write about my wedding for the past several weeks — assembling yesterday’s post about our clothes made me want to stab my eyes out with a barbecue fork — because I just don’t want to dwell on it anymore, and I cannot fathom that anyone else could be remotely interested at this point. So it’s done. My plan for a post-wedding review has been fully executed. The plug is now being pulled.

I’m keeping this blog up, but I won’t be posting new entries here anymore. Any interested parties can continue to follow me over at Another Damn Life, where I’m writing about… life. And doughnuts, sometimes. If you can imagine.

This is kind of pathetic for me to admit, but as I compose this I’m actually getting a little teary. I’ve watched this blog go from getting 0 comments on each post to sometimes getting upwards of 30. I’ve gotten to know you through your comments and then through your own blogs. I’ve already met some of you in person, and I know I’ll continue to meet more of you in the future. I never realized just how much I could connect with others over the struggles of planning a wedding. I never realized how much that connection would come to mean to me.

So from me, to you:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

xo,

lyn

Photos by Christina Richards.

pretties

I’ve gotten a couple emails asking about certain clothing and jewelry details, so I thought I’d post a quick overview so everything is in one place.

ME

Dress: Saja Wedding, #HB662. Was I in hot, throbbing, drooly love it it? No. But I really, really liked it. I felt comfortable in the flowing silk chiffon, and that was pretty much the main goal.

I didn’t have a plan about my accessories in advance, and this caused me a lot of angst because the options were VAST. I basically ended up picking one thing (blue shrug) that informed my decisions on the other items.

Blue shrug and grey shawl (I got both because I couldn’t choose between them): Sweet Knitting.

Peacock feather hair fascinators: Sweet Grass Mill.

Button necklace: Button Soup Jewelry.

Shoes: Seychelles Flamingo in Tea.

BEAU

Suit: The beau’s suit came from a store in the fashion district in L.A. called Downtown Suits Outlet. It was part of a “two suits for $250” deal. We’d originally considered getting him a high-quality custom-made suit, but the bargain won out. The thing we liked about this place is that the owner didn’t try to fleece us into thinking we were getting a real Italian suit for such an amazingly low price: “Sure, it’s Italian design, but it’s made in China.” If you looked close, you could tell. But the suit fit him well, and he got a lot of compliments on it.

Tie: Downtown Suits Outlet. The owner threw in a couple ties for free with the purchase of the suits — the beau ended up wearing a white/silver striped one for the wedding.

Shoes: Asics Mexico 66 in White.

Socks: Urban Outfitters.

_______________________________________________

Photos by Christina Richards.

the details, part five: desserts

You guys might already know I didn’t want a cake.

You guys might also already know I had sworn off DIY that involved dishes and glassware.

Well, in the end the no cake principle stood. The DIY dessert plates , well… let’s just say that my resolve crumbled. Kind of like a crumb cake. Because marriage has clearly dulled my edge, and now I cannot think of a more clever metaphor than that.

I turned back towards the dark side of DIY because honestly, it was going to be cheaper than buying new plates and stands on which to present the desserts at the wedding, even if they were very basic. And I figured that what had gone wrong with the first tiered dessert stand I made was the the stems of the glassware were probably too delicate to be supporting a number of heavy plates, hence the the snapping and the breaking. I also figured that I could get around that by:

  1. Limiting the dessert stands to just one layer; i.e., one plate and one glass.
  2. Using sturdier glasses.

So with that rough plan in mind, we set off to hunt the thrift stores. At the first two stores we didn’t have much luck. I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted the damn dessert stands to look like, I just wanted them done. I mean, at this point we were three weeks from the wedding and we were drowning in our task list. So I’d go around the store, picking up any plate that didn’t sear my eyeballs or break my soul and holding it up for the beau to see. Eh? What about this? He’d always shrug: “I dunno.” So I’d sigh, and put it down. GOD. I JUST WANTED PLATES. WHY IS EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH WEDDINGS SO INFERNALLY DIFFICULT?

But then! Then. The third store we went to, I saw these:

I got that look in my eye.

$5 later, I walked out of the thrift store with these plates, plus five glasses and a doily. And the next store? Dear lord, I hit the motherlode:

I loved these things. The beau? He wasn’t incredibly enthusiastic about them. But he didn’t hate them either. And at that point all it really took was for one of us to like something in order to sway the other. So with his blessing, I went about grabbing up every plate I liked. Besides the ones pictured above, I also picked up a plate of Hoover Tower on the campus of Stanford University, a plate of Santa Barbara City High School, a Jimmy Carter presidential plate, a plain plate with a green stripe, and so on. It didn’t matter whether or not it matched any of the other plates. It didn’t matter what color it was. It didn’t even matter what size. I just got what I liked.

And in retrospect I think that’s the thing that really worked for us about the wedding: we didn’t buy something unless we liked it. Sometimes this caused frustration, like all the times we went searching for something only to walk away empty handed. But when it worked, it really worked.

As for the glasses, I tried to get them in a variety of heights so that the dessert stands wouldn’t be all on the same level. I picked up old jars, old drinking glasses, decorative candy dishes, decorative ice cream dishes — anything that looked like it was durable and solid enough to support a plate.

I just winged it. I didn’t really know what I was getting, or how much of it to get. In addition to the plates and glasses, I ended up getting some basic serving trays at the thrift stores, too. We spent about $0.30 to $3.00 on each item.

Two days before the wedding, we broke out the Plumbers’ Goop and made an impromptu assembly line: I picked out which plate and glass went with each other, and the beau glued them together. It went pretty fast, I think. In all, it wasn’t that bad of a project.

Also, I want to just say that Fabio took such a keen liking to the Jimmy Carter presidential plate that I gave it to him the day after the wedding. Thanks for coming! Here’s your commemorative dessert stand.

Okay okay okay, and what about the desserts you actually put on them, you say? Well, I should tell you that we had five pies: two apple, one cherry, one pumpkin, and one mixed berry. We also had about four dozen peanut butter cookies, about six dozen miniature brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar, one dozen vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, and one dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. Sounds like a lot, huh? Sounds like we got in way over our heads.

Well. We had 95 guests, and not one dessert was left by the end of the night. In fact, I only got to have a taste of apple pie, and one peanut butter cookie. The beau? He didn’t get to try anything. Yeah. All gone. And I’m not really sure what happened, here. I saw my uncle stuffing cookies in his pockets, and I heard a story recently about my aunt wrapping some in a napkin and putting them in her purse. And maybe some of the staff ate some? And I thought I heard something about my brigadier taking part of a pie, or maybe a whole pie? I don’t know all the details. All I know is that EVERYTHING WAS GONE. This was good, because we weren’t interested in toting loads of leftovers back home. But this was also bad because my family is still like, I NEVER GOT TO TRY THAT PIE. Sheesh. You can’t please everyone so you may as well not even try.

And with that I think I’ll leave you with some shots of the desserts in action, courtesy of our photographers:


Tell me about your dessert plan. What did you do, or plan to do?

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Photos 1-7 by me, of what dessert stands we have left (I kept a lot… I couldn’t part with all of them). Photos 8 and 9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Photos 10-14 by Christina Richards.

the details part four: guestbook

So. The guestbook. We didn’t have one in the traditional sense. But we also did have one! We did and we didn’t! At the same time! Oh, my god. I think a seam in the universe was ripped.

We knew from the start that we didn’t want a book that people simply wrote in. I just couldn’t really see our future selves ever bothering to pour a big glass of wine, pull that kind of guestbook down off the shelf, and snuggle up for a night of reminiscing over our guests’ signatures. Because even if they DID write a personal note next to their names, I knew that 9 times out of 10 it would be something generic like “Congratulations!” I knew that because I’ve been that guest. I mean, come on. You just walked into the reception. You may or may not have already been handed a drink. You’ve spotted someone you haven’t seen in a while over in the corner. You’re on the spot. What are you going to do? Scrawl the first thing that comes to mind and flee. Like I said: I’ve been that guest before.

So we didn’t want a regular guestbook. We wanted a creative guestbook. Which: sounds easy, right? Like maybe I’ll just go to Amazon, conduct a search for “creative guestbook,” and toss that thing in my virtual cart. DONE, right? Except not so much. For months, I was stumped. Months and months. I was crazy about Bowie Bride’s Mad Lib guestbook, but at just a couple of weeks before the wedding my brain was starting to disintegrate, and the thought of coming up with a storyline and printing out the sheets of paper was too much to deal with. And I probably would have just copied Mouse’s idea for a wish tree (sorry, Mouse) and used that as our guestbook if I’d heard about it before our wedding, but… I didn’t. All of a sudden my indecision was catching up with me and I was getting desperate. I just wanted to figure it out already, dammit.

And then, just like that, the beau had an idea. An idea that incorporated our desire for a photobooth with our need for a “alternative” guestbook: why not get an instant camera and let the guests take photos of themselves and sign them? Hmmm. Why not, indeed?

Once we had ironed out the details and addressed some questions (how will we make sure guests know what to do, how do we make sure guests don’t waste all the film before everyone has their turn, and so on), we researched and bought the Fujifilm Instax 210. We settled on it mainly because 1) the prints featured a large white border upon which guests could write, and 2) it was one of the cheapest instant camera options. We paid almost $200 for the camera and additional packs of film on Wal-mart’s website. I am not normally the hugest fan of Wal-mart but it was the best deal we could find, and besides, weddings are anything but normal. And at that point in the planning process I could barely hear myself think over my coping mantra, which went something like I DON’T CARE WHAT IT IS OR WHERE OR HOW WE GET IT AS LONG AS IT’S DONE.

Here’s a list of the supplies we gathered for the setup:

  • The camera, extra packs of film, and extra batteries.
  • Archival pens and archival notecards, in case someone felt inspired to write something that required more space than the border of a photo.
  • A sign explaining the situation. Read the full text of the sign here.
  • Props: a mullet wig, a cowboy hat, a giant sombrero, a paper umbrella, a plastic flower lei, and three pairs of cheap aviator sunglasses. We got some props from a friend, the sombrero for $5 at a thrift store, the aviator sunglasses for $9 on Amazon, and we already had the mullet wig and lei.
  • A container in which to store the props, which ended up being a small antique suitcase that we borrowed from a friend.
  • A container in which guests could drop their photos and notecards, which ended up being a retro bowling bag that we borrowed from a friend.
  • Labels so that everything was clear.

So. How did it turn out? I’ll let you see for yourself:

The sign that explained to guests what to do.
The prop box also held the camera and extra film.
The bowling bag where guests could drop off their photos.
Another shot of the prop box and table.

And here are some shots of what happened when the guests got their hands on these things.

Sombrero city.
The beau’s mom rocked several props at once!
Gettin’ it all SET UP.

Umbrella mullet time!

Things that worked about this guestbook:

  • We got to see photographic evidence of our guests having fun when we weren’t around.
  • Guests were enthusiastic about the process and had fun.
  • People actually used the props. Like, REALLY used them. A lot.
  • Guests actually used the props when they weren’t even taking pictures. Especially when it was later at night. And they had been drinking. Kind of like this:
Hint: this is not his real hair. You probably feel a little bit better inside, yes?

BUT. There were also things that didn’t work so well about this guestbook:

  • Not everybody participated. Nearly everybody did, but my side of the family in particular were standing in a clump at the opposite end of the courtyard, and I didn’t have the presence of mind at the time to encourage them to go over and make sure they “signed” the guestbook. Yeah. Hardly a travesty, but I could have handled it better. I could have perhaps had the DJ make an announcement or something, you know?
  • Maybe it’s because the sign urged them to conserve film so that everyone got a chance to have their photo taken, but we put like six 20-packs of film out — the equivalent of 120 prints for about 95 guests — and we got half of them back. People really took that note to heart, I guess. Here’s where I wish, again, that I would have handled it better. I wish I would have thought to check in on the amount of film we had left later in the night and encourage our friends to use it up. Think of the photos we could have gotten!
  • The notecards we put out were pointless. We got maybe a grand total of three back. Everyone wanted to write on the photos themselves. Which leads us to the biggest drawback about our guestbook…
  • The pens. The pens. We went and got archival pens so that the writing on the photos wouldn’t fade over time, so that we could tuck our guestbook photos away in an archival album and have them forever. And these particular pens? They did not like the glossy surface of the prints. Instead of preserving the writing for years to come, this ink immediately smudged and made the writing illegible. See?
The beau’s parents represent… something.
My adorable aunt wore that cowboy hat well. Her words, however, did not turn out so well.
It’s not a wedding until someone takes his shirt off and starts wearing his girlfriend’s purse. I sense that the diagrams at bottom could be instructional and enlightening if only I could make them out…

Oh, my heart aches whenever I pull these photos out and see the ink smeared all over the place. Why didn’t we test the pens? Why didn’t I just know that type of pen would smudge on a glossy surface? I mean, did know. I have a fucking art degree. I have worked with ink on various surfaces before. But I didn’t think about it. I had wedding brain. Feverish, horrid, scrambled-eggs wedding brain.

The pens are my biggest, baddest regret from the wedding. Still, I’m glad we did our guestbook this way. Even if not everyone had their photo taken, and even if we have no clue what they inscribed to us at the time, we now have photographic evidence that our guests are total goofy nutballs.

But I guess I already knew that, or I wouldn’t have invited them.

_______________________________________________________
Photos 1-3, 5, 6, and 10 by Christina Richards. Photos 4, 7-9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Last three photos by our guests!

zomg giveaway: winner!

Hey guys!

Well, thirteen of you said you were interested in the metallic frames I used for my wedding. Sadly, only one of you can have them, unless I were to divide the seven frames evenly into thirteen pieces, which wouldn’t do anyone a lick of good.

Happily, though, there is one winner of said metallic frames, and that winner is Jess of Technicolor Wedding!

Random.org told me so. See?

Jess, I’ll be emailing you! I hope you trust me with your mailing address! Ahhhhahahahahaha! Oh.

Thank you for playing.

the details, part three: photo line

At some point during the planning process we decided to — get this — take photographs of ourselves from youth to present day and clip them to a string like laundry on a clothesline. It would be like our version of a projected slideshow, you see? Except using real photos! And in a fashion sort of reminiscent of your grandmother’s backyard!1

What’s that, you say? What? Huh? You’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else? Yes, I know. The beau and I are the originators of this photo line idea. We really should have started our own style blog; we’d most certainly be independently wealthy by now.

At one end of the reception courtyard we had this… structure. It was like a small pergola, just chillin’ off by itself. We briefly considered putting a table under it and then setting our desserts on top of the table, but we decided it wouldn’t make much sense to place the desserts in some kind of awkward wasteland on the opposite side of the dance floor, away from the rest of the food. So we decided to use the pergola to display our pictures instead.

On the morning of the wedding the beau got up and went over to the venue and wound some twine around the outer posts, then used miniature clothespins to clip the photos on the twine. I was initially concerned that the photos would blow away in a stiff breeze, but the flimsy little clothespins held fast during the whole day.

I would have helped him set up, but I was too busy getting my hair done and drinking mimosas during that time. Thank you, I appreciate your condolences.

The beau then topped off the look by hanging some fabric bunting above the photo lines. That’s right, I said fabric bunting. I commissioned my brigadier to make it for us, and it’s gorgeous. It’s only a matter of time before the wedding design mavens and home fashion gurus swoop in to copy this shit and paste it all over the place. And I’ll be busy laughing gaily and burying myself up to my neck in my millions, just like a grinning Scrooge McDuck going for a swim in his pool of gold coins. YEAH. JUST LIKE THAT.

Oh. What? Sorry.

The end result seemed to come together pretty well. I’ll let you judge for yourself:

Note: I love this picture of my parents.

 

Annnnnd one last neat one of our friends checking out the photo line whilst I loom like a blurry specter in the foreground:

All right. That’s that.

Did/will you put up photos at your wedding?

All photos by Christina Richards, except for the last one by Aaron Rosenblatt.

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1 My grandmother still puts her laundry out on the line to dry. Underwear and all. My other grandmother, before she departed this rock, used to use an old-fashioned open-top electric washer that would agitate grimy water all over the floor before making you feed the clothes through a hand-operated wringer and hang them on the line. I used to help with this chore when I was a kid, and I loved doing it because it enabled me to pretend I was acting out a scene from Little House on the Prairie, if I simply ignored the part with the electric agitation. A few years before she died, my father broke down and bought her a brand-new washer and dryer set, and she was happy as a clam.

zomg giveaway!

Sort of.

Do you remember the metallic frames from the last post? We used them to display our guest seating lists.

Some fun facts about them:

  • There are five brushed silver ones
  • There are two matte black ones
  • They are size 8.5×11″
  • They can be oriented vertically OR horizontally
  • They have those flaps in the back you can use to stand them up
  • They are free
  • I like popsicles
  • Don’t you like popsicles?
  • I am also fond of squirrels

Listen, guys. In my post-wedding fit of GET EVERYTHING WEDDING-RELATED OUT OF THIS HOUSE RIGHT NOW, I nearly just handed these over to Goodwill. But something stopped me. I mean, they are fairly decent frames, and in good condition. What if someone else could use them? What if… what if one of YOU needed to use them for your wedding?

I realize this is not the coolest giveaway in the history of forever, and I also realize that these are not the most vital of items to give away. But I figure that if I can help someone cross something off of her wedding to-do list, why not do that? We’re all kind of in this together, after all.

So here’s the deal. If you are remotely interested in using these things, leave me a comment with your email address [EDIT: If you make sure to put your email address in the comment form, I’ll get it. If you put a direct link to your email in the comment body, bots could discover it and start spamming you, and I don’t want that for any of youse guys]. A week from now, on December 10, I’ll use one of the random number generator things (given that more than one person responds) to select a winner. Then, I’ll mail that person a box with the frames inside.

Terms and conditions may apply: The only condition I have is that you live in the continental United States. Since I am paying for shipping, I don’t want to have to take out a small loan.

The closing sale: Think of the things you can do with them! You can use them for the wedding! For the home! For the garden! You can glue glitter on the outside! You can melt them down for scrap! You can fill them with pictures of your exes and then place them strategically around the house and see how long it takes your partner to notice, and then when he or she angrily confronts you you can be all like, “HA HA APRIL FOOLS’!” And he or she will be like, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, IT IS ONLY DECEMBER,” and you’ll be like, “WHATEVER, YOU ARE SO FACT-DRIVEN.”

If I post some artsy-looking shallow-focus photos, you might like them more:

 

And just so you know, I didn’t forget about the black frames:

 

Impressive, no?

So what do you say? Any takers?

the details, part two: signs… of the times

Three weeks before the wedding, I suddenly turned to the beau and exclaimed: “Oh, shit! We’re gonna need signs and stuff!”

The beau looked at me. “Shit,” he said.

True dat.

We needed signs. A food menu sign. A bar menu sign. Signs for the table seating charts. Signs for the dessert table. Table name signs. Signs for the guestbook table. And so on.

Now, here’s where I developed a condition that could only be retroactively diagnosed as General Anxiety Regarding Prettiness and Details and Logistics Disorder (GARPDLD).1 How big did the signs need to be? Should they all maintain a similar look and feel? What should that look and feel be? Chalkboard or print? How to frame them? Huh? Huh? Oh god we are going to pick the wrong thing and we are all going to die and the wedding will be ruined.

We had a tense moment one afternoon when I pulled all our empty frames2 out of the closets and laid them in the middle of the living room floor and proceeded to talk at considerable length with the beau about what he thought of using them for the wedding. Sample conversation:

Me: “So what do you THINK?”
Beau: “I don’t know! They are all fine. I don’t really care.”
Me: “… but how do you FEEL about them?”

I finally decided, with very little help from the beau thank you very much, that no, these wouldn’t do at all. So then we went on a tense trip to Aaron Brothers to look at their frames, but they were all too expensive and confusing. Needless to say, things were getting… tense.

Then, something snapped. I must have inadvertently swallowed a chill pill or eaten some kind of magic wedding mushroom that caused me to just not care anymore. I decided — BAM! — we’d use chalkboards for the menus and as one of the guestbook props.3 I decided — BAM! — we’d go out and find plain and inexpensive photo frames in which to put the guest seating lists. I decided — BAM! — something else. I don’t entirely remember that period of time anymore. I probably decided to have a drink. Yes, that must have been it.

For the bar menu sign, I salvaged a large (roughly 16×20″) pale greenish frame from an old painting the beau’s parents had given us. For the guestbook prop, I dug out an 8×10″ ugly gold ornate monstrosity I’d found abandoned on the sidewalk down our block, and spray painted it a nice turquoise for no reason other than that was the color of available spray paint that I liked best. Then, for the dinner buffet menu, we found a 12×18″  black wooden frame in a thrift store for $3. We ripped out the fine artwork — a thoughtfully illustrated poem dedicated to an outhouse — it contained, and threw it away. I know. I don’t know what we were thinking, either.

Having carefully measured the interior dimensions of the frames, we went to our local hardware store and had them cut pieces of 1/8″ masonite down to size. Then we covered the masonite in a few coats of chalkboard paint, and stapled them inside the frames. Here they are, put to good use:

My brigadier was the one who kindly wrote out the bar and dinner menus out on the chalkboards. Here’s a bonus shot by one of our guests of (part of) the menu sign in action:

As for the guest seating, we went so far as to assign them tables, but not specific seats. We found some 8.5×11 metallic diploma frames on sale at Target, which ended up working really well, because all we had to do was print out the seating list for each table on letter-sized paper and slap it inside a frame. The ones we sorta liked were a brushed silver color, but Target tragically did not have enough of them in stock. So we got two extra black ones, because we just. Did. Not. Want. To. Think. Anymore. These frames really didn’t go with anything else in the wedding, but if you’ll recall my special magic wedding mushrooms, I was past the point of caring. Metallic! Wood! Antique! Modern! Black! Silver! Turquoise! Whatever! Hell, let’s do it all!

Here’s a shot of a table with many of the aforementioned signs at work during the wedding. Over to the left you can kind of make out the metallic frames in question. We ended up only needing to use one black frame, so we put our head table seating list inside of it, so that everyone would know we were Very Special Indeed.

The last thing I did, quite literally two days before the wedding, was make the table name signs and the other assorted labels that we needed. At first I waffled a bit on the table name signs, thinking that we needed to buy mini chalkboards to “go” with our bigger chalkboards. But then another part of my brain said: gurrrrl, pshhht. It was a fair point. So we got some basic metal card holders to display the printed table names instead.

For the sake of ease, I made it so that the table names were half the size of a standard letter-sized sheet of paper (5.5×8.5″), and that the dessert signs were half the size of the table names (4.25×5.5″). I fretted briefly over how to display the dessert signs, but then the beau said, “Why don’t we just print them on cardstock, fold them in half, and stand them up like little tents?” Brilliant, beau. I knew there was a reason I was marrying you.

So it was fairly simple. I used a variety of the same fonts we used on our invitations, we had a copy shop print them on cardstock and trim them, and then we folded the labels over like tents. Done. See, look:

We had a multitude — dare I say a plethora — of various desserts, so we needed signs for them so that people would know what they were getting into. Unfortunately, we don’t have many pictures of them in use, so I guess you can use your imagination for the rest of them (Hint: they look just like the above! Except with different names and in different fonts!). In think they’re kind of cute for being half-assed. Then again I think a lot of it is because Christina Richards is an awesome photographer.

And here are our table name signs, replete with holders:

For those of you wondering just what the hell “Arcade Fire” is about, we decided to name our tables after bands we like who we’d seen play live. This is a great idea in theory, but a poor idea in execution. Really, it would have made more sense if we’d put in the show date and venue in smaller type below the band name. In fact, that’s what I’d originally intended to do, but when I went to make these signs I just completely forgot. My brain was scrambled eggs by this point. Like, old rubbery scrambled eggs that have been left in the pan too long and now they kind of have that weird skin. Yeah.

That’s it, kids. I’ll be back later with MOAR.

All photos by Christina Richards, except for the third one by Aaron Rosenblatt, and the fourth one by a guest.

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1 It was, how shall I say, a recurring condition throughout the wedding planning process.

2 Yes, I have this problem where I buy frames I love on sale and then never put anything in them.

3 More to come on that later.

the details, part one: centerpieces

So, I never really talked much about our wedding aesthetic. Or to put it another way, The Details. This is because I thought my Details would bore the shit out of you. On the other hand, I well remember from my own hazy days of wedding planning just how valuable idea sharing is in this community. To that end, I present to you: The Details Series. If you look very closely, you can detect the sarcasm in my use of title case.

I am not showing these to you in hopes that you will leave me some kind of highly complimentary comment that makes use of many more exclamation points than necessary. I’m showing them to you so that if you’re considering taking a similar tack, you can see how it turned out for me.

For those of you dear, gentle readers who are disinterested in The Details, I am truly sorry. Allow me to offer you a reading alternative.

Okay then! Let’s begin. The first installment in the series is: centerpieces. I know. Try to contain yourselves.

As a brief refresher, I collected clear, green, blue, and milk glass vases from thrift stores, and then we went to the farmer’s market and basically bought every kind of flower they had available in every color they had available. I’m not even sure what some of the names of the flowers we bought are, because I am that lame. All I know is that they were flowers, and that was good enough for me.

We also got available “filler.” In our case, this was eucalyptus branches and other assorted, like, you know… green leafy stuff. We tried to buy proportionally, but we ended up running out of filler at the end, which was stupid because that was the cheapest of all and we should have just gotten extra in the first place. But one of our groomsmen made an emergency trip to Trader Joe’s to pick up some more there, so it worked out.

By the numbers:
95 guests
six 16’ tables (two 8’ tables pushed end to end)
one 24’ head table
60 vases ranging from small to medium width, and short to tall (we tried to keep it under 10 inches, though, so that people could see around them)
2-4 vases in each centerpiece
three centerpieces per guest table
seven? centerpieces at head table (sorry, I was too busy having fun at the wedding to count exactly)

If this is the kind of thing you want to do for your own wedding, I’d highly recommend is to do a trial run a few weekends before the wedding. Go to your local market or flower vendor of choice, and pick up a selection of blooms and filler. Toss them into a few of your vases so you start to get an idea of 1) how everything looks together, and 2) how much it takes to fill the vases you chose. Once you have a handle on that, you can extrapolate forward from your test results to arrive at an estimate of how much of each kind of thing you need to buy before the wedding.

Also, I cannot recommend not caring about flower type enough, because not only does it make arranging a snap, but it makes it easy to substitute another flower should you run out.

Cost:
Vases: $75
Flowers: $140
Labor: $0
__________
Total: $215

We didn’t use any kind of foam or tape to help support the flowers inside the vases, because we wanted the assembly to be as fast and easy as possible. It was just vases, flowers, filler, and water. Oh, and some scissors/pruning shears. I forgot about those. We bought four of them. I have no idea how much they cost, and I’m too lazy to look it up. Let’s assume they cost a total of $6,934.77. No wonder we were missing a large chunk of our budget. In retrospect we shouldn’t have gotten the diamond-studded ones forged from 24-carat gold.

Really, I cannot be clear enough: do not stress over the centerpieces. I know you’ve heard this before, but Nobody. Fucking. Looks. At. Them. I went to a wedding three weeks after my own, and two days later I came home from work to find a flower arrangement on my front porch. No note. So mysterious! Was it for me? Who could it be from? Who would just drop off flowers at my house? Um, yeah. Turns out it was from the bride. She’d been trying to get rid of her leftover wedding centerpieces and in desperation had abandoned one on my doorstep. I had just been to her wedding, and sat at a table with one of these centerpieces for a substantial period of time, and I did not even recognize the damn thing. I didn’t actually even figure it out until she texted me later. Oh yes! Hi! That. Right.

Nobody said anything about our centerpieces to us at the wedding, complimentary or otherwise. Some people did, however, feel compelled to take them. Since I never indicated that the centerpieces doubled as guest favors, I cannot fathom how anybody arrived at the conclusion that they had lucked into a vase free-for-all. And I am still slightly bitter about losing my favorite milk glass bud vase.

So the moral of the story is that your guests will either ignore the centerpieces or steal them. Hence, they DO NOT MATTER.

The good news is, I think that for being inconsequential, our centerpieces turned out just fine.

 

All photos by Christina Richards.