doubts

“Sometimes I wonder if this whole wedding thing is worth it,” the beau announced, slouched in his chair.

I looked up from the couch, where I was doing my taxes. All ears.

“It’s just so much money,” he went on. “Money that we could save for a down payment on a house, or something big. We could just take part of our wedding budget, buy our parents plane tickets, and go get married in Prague. And then travel. It would be so much fun.”

OK, true. So… do we want to do that? Just call off the wedding? Totally revamp our plans?

“I guess not,” he sighed.

Way to be convincing.

I’m beginning to think that the OMG-WE-SHOULD-JUST-ELOPE moments don’t ever stop happening. That those second thoughts just keep on coming right up until the wedding day.

You there, reading this. Am I right? Is this your experience?

i did it

By Drew, via Toothpaste for Dinner

So. I got a Twitter account. Peer pressure FTW.*

I’m @anotherdamn. Feel free to follow me, or simply ignore this message and go on about your business.

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* A very friendly, very gentle suggestion from Becca. Although she did promise me that if I joined Twitter, unicorns and rainbows would appear in my living room and I would be granted a lifetime supply of maple bars.** I am still waiting for all of those things to appear.

** She actually promised none of these things. Sad, really.

just desserts

I knew from the very start that I didn’t want a big fancy wedding cake.

I had ideas, kids. Lord, did I have them. What if I baked my famous chocolate chip cookies for dessert? We would only need, oh, say, 300 of them. Guests could take the extras home! I even put together a spreadsheet that detailed the cost of each cookie ingredient.* Yes, I priced it out with the Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips. I’m a baking snob like that.

I was so excited about my cookie idea that I mentioned it to my coworker. She was aghast. “You can’t have cookies at your wedding!” she nearly howled with indignation. And why is this? “Because you can have cookies any day. A cake is special. If you don’t get a cake, you’re totally going to regret it.”

Right, then.

My cookies bring, um, all the guests to the, uh… reception?

You know, I’ve seen those reality shows about professional bakers—they make the actual edible part, the cake, days in advance of the event, then drape it in fondant. Which reminds me of nothing so much as the rind on brie cheese, only sweeter. Who wants to gnaw on senescent cake ensconced in sugar wax? I know they can conjure some kick-ass designs on those things, but damn son. I don’t care about what the thing looks like. I care about what it tastes like.

So. I am blithely ignoring the advice of Mrs. FancyPants McCakeFan. Of course, I am well aware that this decision will most surely spark the ire of our guests and hasten the ultimate failure of our marriage. I can see it all now. The dessert table overturned, chairs smashed against the Very Important Historical Fountains That No One Should Look At Lest We Lose Our $89,347** Deposit. Babies crying. Friends and family in a sweaty panic, searching for The Cake. “Where is the fondant?!?” they will shriek. “WE WANT THE FONDANT!!” Our photographers will glower. “You were supposed to cut a big ass cake, and then smear it on each other’s faces,” they’ll hiss. Tables will go up in flames. “You could have DIY’ed cute bride and groom birds as cake toppers,” my inconsolable mother will sob into a napkin. A mere three months later, the beau and I will quietly, humiliatingly, file for divorce. Everyone will roll their eyes. “We knew that was coming,” they will collectively mutter. “You can’t expect it to last long when those cheap, miserable bastards didn’t even bother to serve us a freakin’ wedding cake.”

Well! Anyway! That was fun.

After the incident with McCakeFan — but not because of it — I kind of dropped the cookie idea. My burning desire for cookies still throbs deep in my loins, of course. It’s just that I sort of fell out of love with the idea of baking six or seven batches of them on the day before the wedding. I mean, we already have flowers to arrange. And a rehearsal picnic to set up. And several panic attacks to have. Really, I consulted the planner. They are scheduled for 9:14 am, 2:37 pm, and 4:54 pm, respectively. I also penciled in a 10:08 for good measure.

This leaves us with a multitude of wedding dessert goodies to buy instead of bake. Mmm. Goodies. Now, to pick which ones.

We’ve considered serving a variety of pies. In fact, we know somebody who could make them from scratch, and how cool is that? Also, an awesome person volunteered to make homemade ice cream for our reception. Um, yes please? The only problem I foresee is keeping it cold. So that may not pan out. But if it did, we could serve it with brownies or pie alike. Mmm. Brownies. Glaiiigh.

Doughnuts are, as always, a strong contender. And not just because they’re currently sort of a trend. Besides, we all talked about this already and we decided we don’t care about trends, right? There is no need to avoid them out of spite.

However. Unlike Mouse, we do not have a superlative doughnut*** shop nestled inside our fair city. What we have is a smattering of average ones. Is this enough to turn me off of the doughnut thing? The jury is out. There is a bit more evidence to weigh by way of tasting samples. And then the jury might have to sample them all again. Just to, uh, you know. Check.

True fact: I once seriously entertained the idea of having the wedding in Portland, Oregon, where the beau is from, just so we could get some Voodoo doughnuts for the wedding. Yes, believe the hype.

Portrait of a Voodoo Doughnut classic: the Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Chocolate, peanut butter, crushed Oreos. Divinely supreme.

Spill it. What wedding dessert(s) are you lusting after? Have you already picked them out? Were you terribly offended by my anti-fondant rant? Were you terribly confused about the paragraph where the guests were rioting, and then I got a divorce?

Don’t worry. I was too.

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* Sadly, I did this six months before we even got engaged. That is how reverently I regard wedding dessert.

** I lied. Fine. Our $1,143,799.23 deposit.

*** Or, in the parlance of our times, “Do-nut.”

hi, my name is

Very occasionally I find myself regressing to middle school.* Like this afternoon, when I found myself writing my name in different handwriting styles over and over again in the margins of my note pad.**

Then — of course — I tried my first and middle names with the beau’s last name instead.*** It went pretty well up until I got to the part with his actual last name, then everything went sideways. My hand faltered when faced with a new challenge. My smooth loops were transformed into hesitant, jerky angles. It was like a new personality took over midway through the scrawl.

And that’s sort of how I feel about changing my last name after marriage. Like I’d be changing my identity. My last name isn’t fantastically cool or anything. In fact, it’s kinda weird-looking and easy to mispronounce. But by the time I get married, it will have been with me for nearly 30 years. It’s unique; the product of a botched spelling at Ellis Island. It’s obscure. It’s my family history. I don’t want to give it up.

I wouldn’t be literally giving up my family history, of course. But I’m also not trading my family for his, which is what assuming his last name feels like for me. No. We’re coming together to make our own family, dig?

It all depends on how you interpret the matter, of course. A woman can be enthusiastic about assuming her partner’s last name because, for her, it symbolizes the joining of their lives. Or maybe she’s just always hated her own last name. Or maybe she doesn’t really care either way, and so she yields to custom. We all have our own personal reasons for choosing what we choose. I respect that individual choice.

Maybe this is showing my petty side, but I resent the fact that I’m expected by society to change for my partner, and he’s not expected to change for me. In fact, if he were to take my last name, he would be mocked by others. Viewed as wishy-washy. Less than a man. Not to mention that some states make it hard as hell for a man to change his name. The very nature of relationships have changed since our grandparents’ generation, but tradition is still stacked against us.

Still.

The beau’s not changing his name. He doesn’t want to, and I can’t blame him: I don’t want to either. But he also doesn’t mind if I keep my name. So it’s entirely up to me to make the decision. I’ve weighed the options over and over again. Hyphenation. Maintaining a professional name and a domestic name. Keeping my last name as a middle name.

Truth: It would be much easier for me to just keep my name forever if it weren’t for the possibility that I’ll get knocked up one day in the future.**** Whose name(s) would our theoretical progeny get? Would it be horribly complicated for me to have a different last name than my children do? How could we easily prove that we all belong to each other?

I don’t know. I don’t feel comfortable with any alternative I’ve come up with thus far. So, I’m holding off on making a decision indefinitely. I’m hoping that one day I’ll wake up and rainbows and unicorns will appear over my head and I will suddenly just know.***** And feel okay with it, too.

In the meantime, I am just going to have to settle for these rainbows and unicorns I drew on my note pad.

Are you stuck on whether to change your last name? Was your choice an easy one for you?

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* See lace-trimmed leggings, purchase of.

** I do very, very important things at work. Big things. You don’t even know.

*** The only thing that would have made this more middle-schoolish is if I had been writing this on binder paper inside a Trapper Keeper.

**** The far, far, far-off future. Did I mention how far off it is? So far.

***** Because that’s how things are usually resolved in real life.

déclassé

I didn’t know what a trousseau* was, so I looked it up. Disappointing! I’d been hoping it was some kind of confection. Or at least a baked good.

Eh. Screw the trousseau.

I’m going to spend that money on honeymoon ziplining instead.

Not an actual representation of my feet, because: DEAR GOD. Not an actual representation of my own photo, either. Credit goes to alleykatimages on Flickr.

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* Are you similarly unenlightened? From Old French: A “small bundle” of a bride’s personal possessions, including clothing, lingerie, linens, and wares. In modern times it’s pretty much come to be associated with lingerie and sleepwear for the wedding night and honeymoon. Booooo-ring!

four stores and under seven months to go*

So. I went dress shopping again this weekend. Again for the first time since Christmas, that is. Yay?

I didn’t find anything I really liked, but I learned an important lesson: things you like on the hanger you won’t always like on your bod. I realize I am the first person to ever figure this out, so I’m sharing that here. You can thank me with an Amazon gift card.

I’ve never been good at fabrics. The most my mother taught me about fabrics is that you are supposed to wash like colors.** I grew up on Mervyn’s and JC Penny’s clearance sale clothes; poorly-constructed poly-cotton blends were all my closet ever knew. So this whole dress-shopping thing has been like trying to speak a new language. I’ve been teaching myself to pay attention to cut, fit, and style. I’ve been learning the difference between chiffon, taffeta, and shantung. I’ve been driving sales assistants nutty with my faltering attempts to articulate what I want.***

Through all of this I’m beginning to realize that the dress hunt is largely an intellectual process. You research looks. You try on styles. You scratch options off the list and add others. This goes entirely against the emotional myth we’ve been fed about wedding dress shopping. You know what I’m talking about. You go to a store, you try on a dress. Maybe it’s your first dress or maybe it’s your 24th. None of that matters now, because you know. You just know. And as you gaze into the mirror your face crumples, but you’re grinning through the tears as you whisper to yourself, “This is the dress I’m going to get married in.”

Listen. If your experience was like this, glory and power be to you, because that’s an important thing to cross off the list — not to mention a cute story. But I’ve gradually come to realize that I will probably not have a “Say Yes” moment like the above. And I suspect a lot of other brides won’t, either. This is like the elephant in the wedding room that nobody talks about.

I’m going to guess that if you’re anything like me, you do a lot of thinking before making a big purchase. We read reviews. Analyze specs. Compare prices. We gather all the information and weigh it before making a final decision. Yet we’re just supposed to know which dress to buy? Like the magical dress fairy comes and taps you on the head with her wand and that’s it, that’s your dress? Style and circumstance and budget be damned? That doesn’t make any fucking sense. I’m going to call B.S. on that.

A sales associate at one of the shops I went to last weekend made a telling comment: “You know, I’m surprised at the number of brides who come in, try on a dress, go (mimics staring expressionless into the mirror), and say, OK, I’ll take it.” Maybe these women had already done a lot of looking around. Maybe the process was rational for them, and not emotional. Maybe we all won’t love love love love love our dresses like the brides on TV do.

That’s OK.

I will find a dress I like. I will be excited to wear it on my wedding day. But the choice I make will probably come down to which fabric feels better, which color I like better, and (most importantly) which has the lowest price point — not to which dress I’ve formed an intense emotional bond. Is any romance to a dress decision like that? No. But there’s a lot of practicality.

At this point practicality is good enough for me.

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* Do you like how I lamely ripped off the opening line of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address here? Because I do.

** Sage advice I willfully ignore. Just dump everything in at once and use cold, I say.

*** “I’m looking for, um, something that’s, you know. Not shiny. Or something.”