i take it back

All that talk about oh, Santa Barbara, I don’t wanna get married there? Oh, Santa Barbara, it’s way too expensive?

Yeah. Well, the expensive part still stands, but. It looks like it’s gonna happen here after all.

What happened? I don’t even know. We looked other places from here to the Bay, and nothing was working out. We liked (well, still like) the Memory Garden in Monterey, but had issues with the city of Monterey itself and the logistics of getting everyone from hotel to venue, etc. Also, this is a silly thing to worry about, but I was worried it would be cold and foggy there. Yes, I realize on the actual wedding day I probably will not give a shit about what is going on outside, but it’s the principle of the thing. And yes, I realize that we are still choosing one beach town over another, but since the coastline here faces south, we tend to get less marine layer.

All of which, of course, is totally glossing over the hands-down biggest incentive to hold the wedding mere blocks from our house: ease of convenience.

Anyway. I think we have it down to choosing between two museums: The Santa Barbara Historical Museum and The Museum of Natural History. One has a way better location, but the other is cheaper, plus they give you tables and chairs as part of the deal.

The funny thing? Out of the whole month of September 2010, only 9/11 remains unbooked at both places. I really didn’t make that happen, I swear.

Stay tuned… In the meantime, here’s a small preview:

quite an historic museum, if i might say so
gettin' historical, beeyotches

not quite just another saturday

I have a confession to make: I want to get married on the anniversary of a national disaster.

If I had it my way, I’d get married next year on October 9, but this isn’t Burger King. And this goes way beyond just me, too. It’s a ponderous decision: should we get married on September 11, 2010?

I’ve received mixed reactions from folks. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t always so big on the idea, either. My first inclination was pretty much “yeah, no, that’s out.” But over time it’s grown on me. The last thing I want to do is convey disrespect, of course. I was there, and the terrorist attacks affected me as deeply as anyone else. But tragedy is just as much a part of life as joy is, and the celebration of joy in the face of tragedy can be cathartic. Time has a way of moving us on.

I’ve likened the issue to Pearl Harbor: Over time, the ominous connotations of December 7 have faded. Of course, the events of that day in 1941 aren’t usually referred to as “December 7”—at least not in a long time, anyway (there is some historical evidence to the contrary). The fact that Americans commonly refer to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as “September 11” makes it that much more difficult to disassociate the pain of those attacks from what was formerly just an innocuous day in the Roman calendar.

Even though that date will gradually regain its normalcy over time, we’d have to accept that September 11 would probably always cast a shadow on our anniversary. At the very least, I assume we’d be committing ourselves to a lifetime of raised eyebrows every time someone asks when we got married.

So why am I considering it? There’s no easy or meaningful way to answer that. This sounds frivolous, yes, but most of what it comes down to is I just like 09.11.10 better than any of the other potential dates in our range, dammit. It’s partly a designer thing (the digits look great next to each other), and partly a fetish for odd numbers. Yeah, and you were expecting an earnest analysis of the tableau of human suffering, weren’t you?

I don’t know what to do, yet. Obviously, it’s a decision that the beau and I must mutually agree on. If we go this route, we are going to encounter some resistance from some people (among them, my mother).

Do numbers really matter? No. Then again, they can mean certain things to certain people. And regardless of what day we get married, our primary goal remains intact: to create our own meaning.

we’re not dead yet, but we ARE stuffed

Wow. So the bridal expo was, surprisingly, not as painful as we’d anticipated. You know what else I hadn’t anticipated? Free food and drinks. One of the first vendors we stumbled across happened to be a bartender. His entire exhibit was a table full of various bottles of booze, and a bucket of ice. What’s that now? You’d like to make us cocktails? I thought you’d never ask.

Fortified with Crown Royal, we wandered further into the jungle of proffered sangria, pasta nibbles, empanadas, cupcakes, crostini, cheese and nut plates, and bacon-stuffed mushrooms. As we passed a booth a lady called out, “Want some champagne?” Ummm… yes? She reeled us in like a couple of gaping fish. OK, we will smile and nod at your winery wedding venue pitch in exchange for a bubbly beverage, thankyouverymuch.

AND YET. And yet. It ended up being more than just a free grab for whatever we could cram down our gullets. I walked out of there with a real appreciation for having been able to talk to real vendors—photographers, caterers—and get a sense of them as people. A lot of vendor relationships, I think, can be forged in the first few moments of speaking with them. Of the photographers I encountered, one seemed sneaky, one looked genuinely terrified, and another appeared incredibly geeky, awkward, and honest. Guess which one I would revisit?

It was the same thing with the caterers. I immediately disliked one guy in particular—predictably, I heard later from a venue coordinator that she had to fire his company a mere three weeks before her wedding. The flip side of that coin is is the caterer that the beau and I both really like. He was funny, easygoing, and knowledgeable about area venues, right down to the name of each venue’s coordinator. We definitely want to meet again with him.

It wouldn’t have been a bridal expo, though, without the trappings of the industry. For starters, we were given a giant hot pink paper bag to carry collateral in; the beau looked particularly sharp with it dangling from his hand. Everywhere—everywhere—was plastered with smarmy soft-focus images of beaming brides in white dresses and veils. Too many exhibitors seemed to talk only to me; a photobooth rental representative waxed enthusiastic about “my big day!” until I reminded her it was my fiance’s, too, and the head of a catering company locked onto my eyes and delivered me a personalized five-minute pitch while the poor beau stood wordlessly by my side. Also, I witness an outburst from a disgruntled expo attendee who was shouting at what was ostensibly her mother and her future groom, “but I’M the BRIDE!!!!” Gah.

I would totally go back again for those cupcakes, though.

dear wedding venue

Thank you for offering up your facility as a place my beau and I might hold our wedding. It has come to my attention, however, that perhaps your website is not realizing its full potential. As someone who has perused, by my own estimation, approximately 5,394 venues online, please accept the following tips for improving your site’s content—thereby boosting visitor satisfaction, increasing ROI, whitening teeth, and making your mother proud.

1) Photos! Consider using them. They can be a surprisingly effective method of communicating information about your site to would-be clients.

2) Moreover, evaluate each photo’s inherent value. That is indeed quite a lovely shot of a cake on a table, but the only way this helps me learn about your business is if you happen to be a baker. Similarly, that delightful picture of the adorable flower girls does nothing to inform me about your property outside of the fact that you once hosted a wedding that included adorable flower girls. You know, experts recommend that you stage your house so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there, and the same idea holds true for wedding venues. I don’t want to flip through albums of strangers getting hitched. I want to see what the space looks like so that I can see how it fits with us.

3) Speaking of other people’s weddings, I couldn’t help but notice that in the photos you do have, the bride and groom appear to be sporting fashions dating back to 1987. I realize that the 80’s aesthetic is currently back with a fervent vengeance; still, the bride’s feathered hair and beaded bodice look less ironic than (alarmingly) authentic. Is 1987 the last time you actually held a wedding on the premises? If so, I’m worried. And you should be, too.

4) Please note that the second I read the words “heart topiary” or “wedding gazebo,” I will click the back button so hard your webmaster will cry.

5) Your webmaster probably deserves it, anyway.

6) Got your venue name and address on the website? Good. That’s a crucial step that many amateur proprietors often overlook. But how about—stay with me here—including even more information? Maybe you’re thinking, oh, nobody wants to waste time reading all that. On the contrary! I am dying to examine the details of your location in depth. Descriptions of on-site buildings and how many guests each will hold? Bring them on. A list of venue policies and procedures? Yes, please! Now, I understand that you may not want to list prices or full packages on your website, and that’s fine. But I’d like to have at least some vague sense of whether you’ll be able to accommodate my ultimate wedding dream—namely, arranging 5,000 lit candles in a meditative zen-like pattern around a historic fountain inside an art museum whilst a scrappy yet enthusiastic team of midgets ride in on donkeys and present each guest with a bottle of absinthe as the speakers blast Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” after 10:00pm—before I bother contacting your coordinator to find out how many thousands of dollars you’ll want to suck from my bank account. Got that? I just want to know. Please.

Thank you for your time.