Category Archives: our wedding

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 and I 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.

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Photos by Christina Richards.

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.

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.

flattery gets you everywhere else but here

This one goes out to those two people who voted that they wanted to see only my most unflattering wedding photos. Please accept my apologies for making you wait so long for the horror.

Oh. Did I say horror? I guess that could make sense. Because I am about to open up a bag full of a lot of potentially squicky, uncomfortable stuff. The contents of this bag include several deep-seated insecurities with regard to various body parts, a bunch of truths and lies about cameras, what’s left of your self-confidence, a general sense of mortification, and the struggle to mentally connect the dots between your still image on screen or paper with the live one you see in the mirror every day: Do I really look like that? Is that even the same person?

So I didn’t mean horror, after all. I meant hilarity.

How else can you react to pictures of yourself that aren’t really very good? I suppose you can cry about them, or send them through the paper shredder, or put your wedding dress back on and sit in the middle of the living room floor carefully cutting models out of bridal magazines and pasting them over your own image while alternately guzzling a bottle of raspberry-flavored vodka and cackling maniacally to yourself. Because wedding photos, like everything else wedding-related, seem to carry a special weight. This weight can make it harder to come to grips with bad photos of you taken at your wedding, because their very existence seems to capitalize, boldface, and underline all the fears you had locked away about your looks.

Which happened, of course, the very first time I started clicking through my various wedding pictures. It was so weird to see how simply moving from angle to angle — frame to frame — could induce a fun house effect on my physique. Fifteen pounds were gained, then lost again. Arms transformed from sleek strands of linguini to lumpy sausages. Chins receded and disappeared into necks, only to tentatively protrude again.

I was initially embarrassed, but then a strange thing happened. I started to giggle at my ridiculous-looking self.

We all have our own individual “problem areas,” of course. My most despised ones are my chin and my upper arms. There is just no way around it: my face is rectangular, and kind of masculine. I have a weak chin that’s made even more so by my tendency to clench my teeth together very hard. Add to that the fact that I lost some weight in high school everywhere but my upper arms, and since then no amount of toning exercises can eliminate the flab.  These were the genetics I was dealt. There is no changing them. At some point, I have to be okay with that.

Have to be.

Look, I am not insinuating that in these photos I resemble some kind of wretched, hideous, bloated, snaggle-toothed, cross-eyed, deformed, demonic, and malodorous beast not even a mother could love. I am not suggesting that upon reading this you should rush to the comment form and attempt to convince me that NO, I actually look GREAT, omigod, what ru even talking about ur crazy gorgeous lol.

What I am hoping is that you will laugh, too.

Because, damn. Some of them are bad.

And I am also hoping that after laughing you will feel a little bit better, because we all look bad sometimes, don’t we? That doesn’t mean we’re inherently ugly. It means that… oh, who the fuck knows what it means, except that we’re all in this together.

We might as well have some fun, right?

Ah. Oh. This gets things off on the right foot. Excellent job with the mushy, dimply neck. For my next trick, I will grow another chin.

This. This is a face I’d heretofore been unaware of making. But apparently I do make it, and quite frequently, too, judging from the number of times it appears in photos taken during the wedding. Look, I understand that if it’s inherently me, I can’t really knock it, but come on. It’s like I’m grinning, but I’m also grimacing. I am baring my teeth at you: rrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Me bride. Ha ha! BRING BRIDE DRINK! NOW! Ha ha ha! RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Arr.

Uh. Huh. Hmm. Uhhhhhh… duh? Ha ha. Huh. Heh.

“The crowd gasped, but by then it was already too late. The bride had contracted a serious case of Sausage Arm. For a few long, horrible moments, the situation looked grim. Then Aunt Hilda suddenly remembered the jar of sauerkraut in her purse. If there was only a way they could dig up some mustard, well. Then they could turn this travesty into a party.”

Guess what I look like in profile? I look like I have no jawline. Seriously. I look at photos of celebrities, and it seems like the space between their chins and their necks stretches on for miles, providing actual definition to their faces. Sort of like this:

The photoshopped image above will always be what I wish I looked like from the side. But no. No, my destiny will be to fulfill my womanly duties by bearing a bunch of children with weak chins and and slack jowls. They will surely thank me later for the fine genetic pool from whence they sprang.

Oh, but it gets better as the evening progresses.

What fine, unfocused, greasy-faced specimen is this?

Surely one who should open her mouth even further.

Seriously, folks. Back away from these goods. Or you might get hurt.

Ouch.

And now I present to you: the dance of the giant velociraptors.

Won’t you join me? No seriously, join me or die.

Further evidence to support the fact that all of my photographs should be taken from below, and with flash.

Listen, I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together here today. Go forth, all ye engaged, and know that there will be wedding pictures of you that you will never want anyone to ever, ever look at. Unless, of course, you choose to post them on your blog for all the internet to see.

Hooray!

[this post will self-destruct in 5… 4… 3… 2…]

UPDATE: A number of kind souls have so far pointed out that, whatever, I look fine in these pictures. So then I realized: you know all those times you’ve been shown a photograph of yourself, and you say, “EW,” and the other person is like, “HUH?” Yeah. I think that’s what is happening here. Those photographs where we cringe and think we look our worst actually appear to others as … normal. Or something. This is kind of disturbing, because either a) each of us is more awful-looking than we actually think we are, or b) society has left us all terribly, horribly warped. I’ll let you decide which is right (hint: it is B).

But seriously, you guys. I hardly look attractive in these things. I don’t know where you get these insane ideas.

the visual record

Photography is a tricky thing.1

Photography is both art and science. It is record and story. It is truth and fiction.

From the moment we enter the wedding planning world, we start to develop a love-hate relationship with photographs. First, you’re bombarded with brightly saturated, shallow depth-of-field pictures of cute and trendy must-haves. If you’re anything like me, you likely got wide-eyed with the possibilities… and then you got pissed off. This stuff costs how much? Do they think I’m freaking Martha Stewart over here? I don’t have time to make 200 pinwheels by hand! These expectations are ridiculous!

Then, you’re bombarded with photographs of other weddings. At first, they look amazing. Thirty weddings in, you suddenly realize that the joke is on you, because you’ve clearly been looking at different details of the same exact wedding shoot. All the brides and grooms have now blended into one cute, hip, impossibly thin couple with a propensity for adorably mismatched vintage place settings. You gradually realize that the style blogs are full of shit.

Somewhere along the way — probably in self-defense — you begin to scoff at the phrase blog-worthy. Blog-worthy? Whatever. We are real people with real weddings. We come in every size, shape, color, backstory, and age bracket available. We have ugly cries and mountains of stress and poorly-crafted decorations and half-assed centerpieces. Oh, we are worthy in every sense of the word, dammit — we’re just not going to be featured on Style Me Pretty or Snippet & Ink any time soon. As in, like, ever.

So then you switch to only looking at photographs of “real” weddings. Ah, finally, a place to call home. A place where the people look different and the sentiment can’t be faked. But that’s not the best plan, either. Because, oh my god, how do these people still manage to look so amazingly good? They seem so genuine, happy, and emotional. Everyone is so present in their own individual moments. Everything looks like it came together so well, and without a hint of drama. The guests are all smiling and crying. Somehow, all of their outfits are better than the ones you’re considering for your own wedding. All of their details are more poignant than your own. It all looks so effortless. And even while your heartstrings are being tugged, your brain is lamenting the fact that your wedding could never, ever, ever look like this.

Or maybe, after all, it was just me who went through this. The endless cycling between scoff and swoon; covet and resent.

Understandably, I developed a bit of anxiety around wedding photography. Because I understood what it felt like inside the planning of my own wedding, and it did not seem to line up with what I was seeing on my computer screen. I didn’t feel coordinated. I didn’t feel prepared. I didn’t feel pretty. I didn’t even necessarily feel happy — at least at first. From the outset my wedding seemed like a useless pile of last-minutes, halfhearteds, and coulda-shouldas. I was afraid that I shouldn’t expect very much to come from it.2

Then, just a few weeks after the wedding, I saw the first pictures our photographer Christina Richards posted on her blog. And I thought: Oh, my god. My wedding looks blog-worthy.

And I loved it.

And I was confused as hell about this.

It took me a long time to sort through it. Hell, even now, as I write this, I’m not sure I quite understand. I feel like I spent so long alternately railing against the relentless visual imagery and succumbing to it that I almost feel embarrassed that my wedding photographs look so good. Does this make me fake, too? Am I a style blog waiting to happen?

No. Of course not.

Am I suggesting that the only way to make your wedding look really good is to hire a professional photographer?

No. Of course not. Meaning isn’t generated via photographs. And if professional photography isn’t your bag, don’t do it. Spend your money on something you care about more.

Here I feel the need to wrap this up with some sort of call to action. A proposal to redefine the meaning of blog-worthy, perhaps. A rallying cry to take back our self-worth from the badlands of other-wedding-envy. But no. What we need is some good old-fashioned sense kicked into us. We need to stop listening to others.3 We need to stop caving in so easily to doubt. We need to stop feeding those voices that say I could never look like that or my wedding could never be that nice / pretty / cool / sincere / relaxed.

Because I saw my wedding from the ugly, messy inside. And what came out of it, both on film and in real life, was still beautiful. No, you can’t see the shitty stuff that went on behind the scenes in my photos. You can’t see all the stress and tears and hard work and late nights. You can only  see the beauty of that day, and the love. And what I said up there, that meaning cannot be generated via photography? I mean that. But what’s also true is that a good photographer can take the best parts of your day and make art out of them.

Go. Please go and look at our wedding photos on Christina’s blog. If you like the photos there, please leave her a kind comment. She sure as hell deserves it.

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1 Okay, this totally goes completely against the tone of this post, but whenever I read over this line I hear it spoken in my head in the same way Rick James said “Cocaine is a hell of a drug” in that one Chappelle Show skit. No? No? Come on.

2 I mean, except the happiness that comes from being married, of course.

3 Easy as pie, non?

wait for it

We’d gone to bed the night before the wedding feeling broken and demoralized, and when I woke up around seven on the day of our wedding I felt… pretty much the same. The morning was wrapped in a thick layer of dismal grey clouds, and so was my mind. The incessant whine of the distant foghorn wasn’t helping my mood any. I got up, showered, and commenced packing all my necessary items in preparation for moving over to the beau’s parents’ rental house, where I’d be getting ready.

There had been no magical overnight transformation into a serene, blissed-out bride, as I’d halfheartedly hoped for. But you know what? Something happened that morning anyway, something I can’t put my finger on. No, that much-sought-after wave of joy never did pass over me, but at a certain point I just gave in to the flow of the day. There was no use worrying or trying to figure anything out anymore. I’d have time to sort out my emotions later. Right now, I was just going to focus on what was in front of me.

I’d set aside the chunk of time between 8:30 and noon to get myself ready, and I am happy to report that for the most part the morning meandered in a leisurely manner. There were doughnuts, bagels, fruit, and yogurt. There were mimosas. Our photographer came over for an hour, during which I quickly changed out of my street clothes for a brief photo session with my dress. My hair was done, but my face was bare and I didn’t bother with the undergarments — still, my aunt cried when she saw me with that dress on. I presented my brigadiers, mom, and (almost) mother-in-law with necklaces, and then it was my mom’s turn to cry. Overall, being forced to sit still and make conversation with my closest people helped distract my brain, which was otherwise singularly focused on reminding me that OMG I AM GETTING MARRIED TODAY AND PEOPLE WILL BE LOOKING AT ME.

It was a pleasant time while it lasted, but noon came around with a vengeance. I had to cut my makeup time short and rush to get dressed so I could make it in time to have lunch at home, where the beau had been getting ready with some of his groomsmen. It was a little surreal walking into a house full of guys with my wedding dress on, flopping down on the couch, and proceeding to check my email. The guys, however, were on their way out, leaving the beau and I alone for the first time with our full wedding regalia on. “Hello,” I said. “Hello,” he replied. We quickly arrived at the conclusion that each of us looked very nice, then stared at each other for a beat. “Here’s your sandwich,” he said, handing me a paper bag with my favorite combo: prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and basil. I ate greedily, standing over the table so nothing landed on my dress, unceremoniously licking honey mustard off my fingers. In between bites we caught each other up on how our mornings had gone.

It was just like normal, but it wasn’t. We were us, but we were different.

You know, so much emphasis is typically placed on moments such as these. Standing as we were inside a life moment that arrives preprogrammed with heavily scripted meaning, it was refreshing to experience it on our own terms. There were no dramatic embraces, no tears, no special sense of this is it, we’ve finally arrived. For some, that won’t feel right. But for us, it was comforting. The beau and I are not especially romantic or sentimental people, so to spend those special few moments together on our wedding day inside our hideously cluttered home, casually stuffing our faces with sandwiches — that was the ultimate unplanned tribute to ourselves.

We couldn’t linger, though, because we had to meet one of our photographers at the courthouse at 1:00 p.m. for some pictures alone. At 2:00 we headed down to the Historical Museum to take the shots with our families. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much in my life, and I don’t mean that in a good way. By the time we finished the posed photos, guests were beginning to arrive. I flitted back and forth between the courtyard and our staging area — a room inside a historic building from which my brigadiers and I would make our entrances — greeting guests and touching up my makeup. Being able to say hello to folks as they came in and invite them to help themselves to a glass of champagne helped take my mind off the fact that the ceremony was quickly approaching — but not nearly for long enough.

At some point my anxiety finally crested so high that I sequestered myself in the staging room to calm down and go over my vows. I leaned against the wall and read them over and over again, trying to burn the words into my brain. I glanced up and locked eyes with my best lady. “Oh my god,” I said. “I’m going to die.”

And I almost hoped I would.

 

taken by my best lady

 

Soon enough, the coordinator poked his head in and said it was almost time to start. And just like that the tremors in my stomach became quakes. My mother tentatively approached the room and stood just outside the door. “It’s okay, you can come in, mom,” I called. “I didn’t want to bother you,” she said, “but I wanted to wish you luck and say I love you.” Her mouth worked as she came in for a hug and I had to blink fast to fight back the tears. I already felt like throwing up — the last thing I wanted to do was start bawling.

Much later, on the phone, my mom told me how scared I had seemed in those final moments before the wedding. “You looked just like a little girl,” she recalled, her voice tender.

The music started. The groomsmen had already filed out, and my brigadiers were now walking out one at a time; tethers slowly being released into the sky.

Now I was alone, and now it was my turn.

I took a deep breath, exhaled, and stepped outside.

*****

I imagine you can fill in the details from here. There was a ceremony, there were cocktails, there was dinner and dancing, and then later, an afterparty at a bar. A wedding script not unlike so many thousands of weddings that have come before.

And just like all the weddings that have come before, there were plenty of things that went wrong that day, of course, and plenty of disappointments. But this being my 200th post on this blog, it seems fitting that right now I should only focus on what went right. And so I present to you, in no particular order, a list of some of my favorite memories — with photo accompaniment! — from the wedding day and beyond.

  • Standing around in a circle with the wedding party right after the ceremony, slugging cherry bourbon from a flask.
  • Reading the Facebook comments and updates from our friends the day after, in which they talked about what an amazing wedding weekend they’d had.
  • Our dear friend Fabio’s über-dramatic reading of the Magnetic Fields’ “Love is Like a Bottle of Gin” during the ceremony.

  • Hearing my great aunt and uncle, whom I barely know, tell me during the reception that hey, times have changed and it’s okay if I don’t take my new husband’s last name.
  • All the times one of our friends said: “That was the best wedding I’ve ever been to.”
  • The groomsmen admitting that they almost lost it and started crying during the ceremony.
  • Spotting our caterer standing in his yard drinking wine straight from the bottle at 1:30 a.m. during our walk back home from the bar.
  • Hugging and talking to friends and family during the cocktail hour — and asking the coordinator to extend it because we were just having too good of a time for it to end.

  • Running up a row of tables high-fiving our guests during our grand entrance to Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.”
  • Coming up to the champagne table before the ceremony and having one of the catering staff ask me: “So, which one is the bride?”
  • Fabio getting temporarily left behind by his ride the morning after the wedding, because he was too distracted by talking to my parents.
  • How the fog rolled in during our first dance, then proceeded to roll right back out again for the rest of the night.

  • Looking down during the ceremony and noticing for the first time that our officiant wasn’t wearing any shoes.
  • The absolutely amazing butternut squash ravioli we had at dinner — and the raving compliments we received about it afterwards.
  • Sitting at the head table during dinner and looking around at our guests chatting and laughing, our wedding party next to us, the color of the flowers in the sun — just taking pictures and soaking it all in.

  • The beau’s brother pulling me aside during the cocktail hour and telling me how amazingly personal and meaningful our ceremony had been.
  • Ugly-dancing like a spastic fool during “The Humpty Dance.”
  • All the toasts and cheers. Of course.

  • The praise we got for our signature drink — the Ginger Rogers — for which the beau had infused the liquor himself.
  • Hearing from all the people who were touched by the ring-warming during the ceremony.
  • Seeing how many people enthusiastically donned the props we put out for our guestbook photos.

  • Watching two families come together on Thursday afternoon before the wedding when my parents, the beau’s parents and brother, and the beau and I hung out for the first time on our front porch, having drinks and gluing dessert plates.
  • Getting out of the shower the morning after the wedding to find the living room crammed with dozens of pals who’d dropped in on their way out of town to give us hugs and wish us well.
  • Inadvertently making the guests crack up during the ceremony.

  • Catching my uncle stuffing his suit pockets with cookies from our dessert buffet.
  • Packing for the honeymoon on Sunday afternoon.
  • How our DJ actually played all 18 minutes of the epic punk NOFX song “The Decline” towards the end of the night — and how our friends stood in a circle in the dance floor for those entire 18 minutes, shouting every word of the lyrics in unison.

And that? That, my friends, is good enough.

________________________________________________________

All photos in this post, except for the first one, taken by Aaron Rosenblatt.

 

Aaron and my one of my best ladies.

 

good bad ugly

The last few months before the wedding were about treading water. What needs to be done right now? Okay, we’ll focus on that.

The week before the wedding took this approach and amplified it to 150 decibels. The beau and I were runaway trains hurtling off the trestle, hanging suspended inside the deep blue sky for one long moment before plummeting down to the rock. You know, if you’re into using divergent metaphors at will like that. But that’s kind of what it felt like for me: free fall. A very loud, disconcerting free fall.

I’m going to tell you all about my free fall. And, you know, I’m not particularly well-known for my brevity, but this is a long one even by my standards. Which is to say: you may not be ready for an essay of this proportion.

Or? Maybe you are.

*****

The real descent into insanity began when our parents and one of my brigadiers arrived on Thursday before the wedding. At the time I likened it to the sensation of walking out of a darkened movie theater into the blinding light of day. I mean, I’d known all along our family and friends were coming, but I thought that was all happening at some later, unspecified date. Why were they here now? Huh? Did wedding planning really destroy so many of my IQ points that I was suddenly unable to grasp the basic concept of cause and effect?

I’d just begun coming to terms with the fact that our guests were actually on their way when the real world kicked in the door on Friday morning. Whether I was ready or not, the wedding was practically here, and I couldn’t just stand around sorting out my emotions. It was go time.

We kicked off our last day of singlehood with an early-morning trip to the farmer’s market to pick up the flowers, and then we headed to a park. The beau had packed a battery-powered MP3 player, and the plan was to finally practice our first dance — we hadn’t yet, because there was no room in the house. We found an empty tennis court in one corner of the park and commenced stumbling around awkwardly. It wasn’t as peaceful as it sounds — we often found ourselves fighting off the urge to throttle each other — but in retrospect I’m glad we had that time. Outside of the occasional intrusion by gawking blue-haired old ladies walking their poodles, that was the only quiet time we had to ourselves that day. Then, my dad interrupted our reverie with a phone call and oh shit, it was already 9:45? Holy crap, we had to move.

By the time I got out of the shower, some of our friends had shown up at our house. Then more, and then more. There were people in the kitchen making guacamole. There were people on our porch arranging flowers in vases. Don’t get me wrong: I loved that our friends came over, largely unasked, to hang out and pitch in. But I also felt torn between all my different impulses to be a hostess, a friend, and a bride. I wanted to get people drinks and food, I wanted to sit down and catch up, I wanted to take care of all the looming tasks we still had yet to do. Moreover, I was starting to feel a low-grade anxiety about my appearance, which I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to care for. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to tag along with one of my brigadiers to an appointment she had at a nail salon so that I could get a manicure and a pedicure.

This is when I fell into a wormhole. That’s the only plausible theory that can account for the fact that somewhere around here time went missing. All I remember is sitting in a vibrating chair, gazing up at a closed-captioned show on Animal Planet while some dude wearing a mask rubbed my feet, and all of a sudden it was two hours later and I was rushing back home with my brand-new manicure already scuffed. There was only half an hour left until the rehearsal and the house was absolute chaos. Some friends had left, and new ones had shown up. We’d run out of flowers and one of the groomsmen had run to Trader Joe’s and pick up some more. Other pals were in the living room folding dessert label cards and putting signs into frames. Holy crap. Holy crap.

In the midst of my breathless dash, I spotted my paycheck from work lying on the table and immediately shrieked, snatched it up, and held it over my head as I made a spontaneous celebratory parade around the living room. Finally! This was the check I’d been waiting for all week! This was the check that was going to help pay off our vendors, and pay for our honeymoon! I ripped it open (as gingerly as possible, given the state of my fingernails) and the grin on my face immediately disappeared. This check was for $320. I’d been expecting $2,000.

I burst into tears.

I double-checked the invoice I’d submitted and, yeah. It was totally my fault. In my wedding-induced brain haze I’d accidentally submitted an invoice for a freelancing gig to my full-time gig. Of course they only cut me a check for $320. I only billed them $320. Of course.

So then I had to explain why I was crying to a houseful of people. This included a groomsman’s new girlfriend, whom I’d never before met, and who was probably thinking I was absolutely batshit insane, just like all the wedding advertisements had warned. A friend handed me a vodka drink, which I downed quickly. It was now five minutes until the rehearsal. Everyone was leaving. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing to do. My company couldn’t cut me a check on a Friday afternoon and deliver it to me by Sunday. We’d have to figure something out later. For now, I just had to move on.

The rehearsal whipped by like a fevered dream. All I remember was one of the groomsmen semi-arguing with our coordinator about how the entrance should go, and the coordinator and DJ ever-so-subtly sniping at each other during the practice — they had recently broken up with each other and it clearly hadn’t been amiable. I silently cringed upon hearing our entrance songs — songs the beau and I had previously chosen and listened to in private — played aloud in front of a small crowd of people. We stayed afterwards to go through a ceremony reading with our officiant, then rushed back home to pick up the rest of the items for the welcome BBQ. The house was empty save for the aforementioned groomsman’s new girlfriend, who was sitting on our couch reading a book. We’d had no idea she’d even been stuck there alone, and I was appropriately mortified. But she’d finished up the rest of the flowers and packed them in boxes while we were gone. By herself. Just hanging out. She’d known us for all of an afternoon, and had happily finished off our flower arrangements for us.

And this is how it came to be that I didn’t arrange one single vase of flowers. Not one. The kindness of our friends (and one then-stranger) had made it happen. Now that, folks, is wedding magic. I was grateful, but I barely had time to marvel at the beauty of this gesture. We were already late for the goddamned BBQ. Just before we got into the car, I caught sight of the beau’s shellshocked face. I put my hands on his shoulders. “We’re almost there,” I said. “Everything is mostly done. We can finally just chill and hang out with everybody.”

Um. No.

There was already a crowd of people standing around when we arrived at our picnic site beside the ocean. The beau and I rushed around unloading items and setting up, but we could only do so much without the charcoal and alcohol, which some friends had promised to bring with them. Food and drink are the great people uniters, and their absence was keenly felt. I kept getting pulled aside and introduced to new folks from the beau’s side of family, or reunited with people I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I tried to smile as big as I possibly could, and make the least awkward conversation possible, but the whole time my eyes were darting around the picnic area. The booze still wasn’t there? Nobody was mingling? My grandpa was off by himself? Oh, god. Oh, god. Where were the guys? We needed to start the grill. We needed to put out the appetizers. Oh, shit.

Finally, our friends arrived with the goods. The party slowly started to creak to life, just as the fog abruptly rolled in and settled its damp chill over us. Okay, I can deal with this, I thought. It would have been nice for our out-of-town guests to have a classic sunset view of the mountains and the ocean, but the weather cannot be controlled. But then the sangria ran out within the first half hour. And our two backup bottles of wine were drunk in an instant. And the keg was already running low, and we hadn’t even eaten yet. Did I need to send someone out to for more? Who was even sober enough? Hey, the guacamole was already gone, too! Was I unintentionally ignoring anyone? Oh god, my great aunt and uncle had come all the way from Michigan and I’d barely spoken to them yet. And, wait — was it already getting dark? Shit. We didn’t have any candles or lanterns. How was anyone going to see to eat? People were standing with their arms clamped to their sides, freezing. And where were the desserts? How was anybody going to know there were desserts? Oh god. Oh, god. The BBQ was turning into an utter disaster.

And then, for the second time that day, I burst into tears. Only this time I couldn’t stop. I stumbled over to the fence at the top of the bluff and laced my fingers through the chain link mesh. I stared out into the oppressive wall of fog and then down at the black sea crashing over the rocks, and I sobbed. I just fucking sobbed. There was no helping it. The beau soon wandered over from his station at the grill to see about me, and I told him to go away. I didn’t want any of this. Everything was wrong and I was helpless to fix it, but more than that, I was angry at myself for not just enjoying it. This wasn’t supposed to be happening like this. I wasn’t supposed to be feeling like this, but I couldn’t stop.

Later, two of my brigadiers sat next to me on a picnic bench, silently comforting me. My mom brushed my hair back from my face and deflected her sisters away from me — “She needs a moment right now.” At some point, my dad asked me to go on a little walk with him. “Look at that,” he said, gesturing back to the party. “Everyone is having a really great time. You wouldn’t believe what people were saying to me all night — you two are really well-loved. You are just surrounded by love.” There was a note of wonder and pride in his voice, but when I looked out at the shapes of my family and friends moving around in the darkness, all I could see were my own failures. I stood there snuffling for a few moments, worrying tiny holes in the damp, crumpled paper towel I’d been using as a tissue. “Okay,” I said.

Okay.

Somehow, while I was floundering inside the dismal recesses of my mind, the picnic site got cleaned up. Two lanterns magically appeared — I learned much, much later that a friend had run back to her house to get them — and everyone lent a hand. Our families headed to their hotels, our friends headed to the bar, and the beau and I headed home. It was already 8:30, and now, we could finally rest.

Well… yeah, not so much. We had to unload the car with the BBQ stuff so that we could load our wedding supplies inside of it to take to the venue the next morning. All of the platters, bowls, and serving utensils from the BBQ had to be washed, which really did my manicure in. We had to organize and label all of our boxes of stuff so that the coordinator knew what was what. There was also the matter of cleaning up the front porch, which was absolutely littered with flower stems, clippings, and tools. Oh, and I still had to box and wrap the gifts for my brigadiers, my mom, and the beau’s mom.

We didn’t go to bed until 1:00am.

And that was how our wedding day began: the beau passed out on the couch, and me bent over some wrapping paper on the floor, cursing my aching back. We were stressed, confused, and absolutely spent.

*****

I said it before, up there somewhere: I hadn’t wanted it to happen like that. I’d wanted it to be more meaningful and significant. Somehow there was this idea in my mind that in those final days, I’d have a specific feeling. A special feeling. Not zen, of course, and not perfection — I’d already come to grips that those two things were well beyond reach. I’d imagined, though, that I’d feel some sense of closure. Something that said to me — aha! — so this is what it feels like to be getting married.

That feeling wasn’t in my cards. The most disconcerting thing about that last day was the sense that I was trying to grasp at sand even as it slipped through my fingers. Despite being emotionally ready for months, and despite all the reflection I had done prior to the wedding, when time began counting right down to zero hour I wasn’t prepared for anything. I wanted it all to stop; I needed to regroup. I just wanted to sit down and think.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

And I won’t lie: I felt like I kinda got robbed on that.

For a long time, I believed it was totally unfair. But I’d planned! I’d thought all the right thoughts! I’d focused on the upcoming marriage, and not the pretty frippery of the event! I knew things would go sideways, and I knew I would feel stressed. But maybe deep down, I’d still hoped for better. Maybe I thought that if I recited over and over that my wedding would be messy, imperfect, and zenless, I’d somehow be granted immunity to the badness and ugliness. I’d rise completely above them, so to speak.

So yeah: the badness and ugliness completely knocked me on my ass.

But. Five weeks later, I’ve finally given myself permission to have had this experience. You know what? That day sucked, but it is mine to own. And besides. If you look hard enough at the cracks, you can see the beauty that had sprouted in there.

And I promise: by the time the wedding was over, that beauty had grown sky-high.

happy

I was supposed to be working on the catalog. I was supposed to be writing thank-you cards. I was supposed to be doing things that are important.

But today was our monthiversary. And tonight there was a thunderstorm, which is a highly unusual meteorological event in California. We opened a bottle of champagne that our friend Dewey gave us during our rehearsal BBQ, and we opened all the doors and windows and listened to the neighborhood collectively holler each time the lightning tore across the sky.*

And after the power came back on, I made this:**

And I think that’s enough for one night.

_______________________________________________

* Being a transplant from everywhere, I find this behavior amusing. But I’ll also tell you I was the first one outside, shouting in sheer delight along with the rest of the natives. Thunderstorms here are particularly electrifying. Har! Har! Cough.

** This being a toast from one of the beau’s groomsmen. He was my beau’s first dorm roommate in college. Talk about fate, eh? All photos by my awesome friend Aaron Rosenblatt.