Category Archives: philosophy

we’ve no time for brevity

So. The last post seemed to cause a lot of unintended stress for some of you. I feel pretty bad about this. You know those times when you’re at a party, and suddenly you’re stricken with an urge to entertain everybody with what you believe is an awesome story, only when you’re done you glance around and realize that your listeners have curled up on the floor in a fetal position and are crying softly to themselves? Yeah, that’s kind of what happened with the last post.

Hence, in the face of a pressure-cooking 2.5 weeks to go, from here on out on the blog I’ll try to temper the potentially rampant anxiety with some nice soft marshmallow fluff. Do you guys like fluff? That seems to be what’s popular out here on the interwebs. That and using very few words. I’ve tried that before. I’ve tried to do posts that feature just one exceedingly insightful sentence such as “Nothing says ‘home from work’ like no pants,” only to stare at it for ten minutes thinking, “Well, that’s stupid.” So then I try to write some elucidatory supporting sentences and suddenly, 239 hours later, I have a 1,300-word essay about something entirely unrelated to both pants and coming home from work.

To that end, um. I make no promises about anything that happens in the next 2.5 weeks.

Now! Let’s talk about some stuff that is not actually fluffy at all!* Like what I’ve learned** during this precious, special time. Because if there’s one thing you get from planning a wedding, it’s the illusion of wisdom.

Things I’ve learned from the wedding planning process:***

  1. The only thing that bridal magazines are good for is making fun of the pictures.
  2. People are fucking insane.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, discuss your budget. With anyone. Your budget is the wrong number to everyone except you.
  4. Sometimes A lot of times getting stuff done is more important than remaining true to your personal style.
  5. Blog-worthy is not necessarily a bad thing.
  6. You can spend a good part of your life ignoring social expectations, only to end up having them completely rule the wedding day.
  7. If it’s not important to you, let someone else have their way.****
  8. Be prepared to be hurt by some people’s actions.
  9. Be prepared to be staggered by the generosity of others.
  10. You can spend your entire engagement repeating that at the end of the wedding day, what’s most important is that you’re married. You can say that over and over again, until you’re blue in the face. You can spend months analyzing the nature of your relationship and the ways in which you and your partner are growing and learning together. You can meditate on it. You can paint pictures about it. You can choreograph an interpretive dance on the profundity of human connection. You can methodically hunt down every single person at every single place you go and inform each of them that you don’t give a shit about the pretty wedding frippery. That crap is, you know, mere Froot Loops in comparison to your organic multigrain breakfast cereal of authentic love. But the reality of it all still won’t actually hit home for you until a quiet moment in one of the days before the wedding when all these big thoughts come rushing back into your head unannounced, and suddenly you’re all HOLY SHIT MARRIAGE ZOMGWTFBBQBALLSMOKE. And the people around you will be like: slow down, tiger. Try breathing, you’ll like it.
  11. You can pretend you don’t care, but you’ll still desperately want your guests to like your wedding.
  12. Not all of your guests are going to have a humdinger of a time at your wedding.
  13. Keep your head down and your eyes on your work. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is writing down, only that you come up with your own answers.

What have you learned?

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* OH SNAP, I already lied.

** Disclaimer: the things that I’ve learned will not necessarily reflect the things that you’ve learned. Individual mileage may vary.

*** It’s not actually just me here. The beau provided a few of the gems on this list. I just asked him what he learned from planning a wedding, and out popped some meaningful shit. I don’t know how he does it. I’m beginning to think he should be the blogger of this relationship.

**** This is why my mother is making favors for our welcome picnic. If a) it makes her happy and b) I don’t have to be involved, I don’t really care how many yards of custom ribbon inscribed with our names and wedding date she uses.

them ol’ weddin’ plannin’, apostrophe slangin’ blues

Guys, it’s been a hard go of it here in Lyn+Beau Land™ recently. The beau spent the past week working his butt off at a taco booth to raise money for his rugby team,* only to turn around and take off on a work trip for another week. Basically, the beau has become very scarce around these parts — an elusive animal who sometimes skitters in from the dark of night to shower and sleep in my bed. He’s being pulled in so many different directions right now, which means that I’ve stepped in and taken over all of the household chores we normally split plus the bulk of the wedding tasks. While part of me wants to write a moving, meaningful perspective on how these cycles of give and take are the essence of a true partnership, the other part of me wants to stomp around a bit and maybe slam some doors.

Because I am stressed out, too, over meeting the responsibilities of my own day job(s) and the unyielding wedding planning and the relentless stream of chores, dear God, the chores. I had just finished up all the cleaning this past weekend when someone** walked in the house wearing dirty shoes and dripping ice cream all over the floor,*** and I could quite literally see the filth forming before my very eyes. On the floor! The floor I’d just mopped, that had just dried! For the first time in my life, I understood that perpetually unhinged look in my mother’s eyes. Why isn’t there a grace period for this stuff? Can’t we enact a universal law that decrees nothing is allowed to get dirty for at least one week after it’s been cleaned?

And cue the feelings of futility. Why do I bother cleaning in the first place? Why do I bother doing anything? Take blogging, for instance. I don’t need to blog, but I like it. It’s become my hobby, like how some people assemble model airplanes, or how others simply huff model airplane glue. Which is all well and good except for the fact that it takes me approximately 239 hours to write a single post. For instance, I started writing this post last week. How on earth can composing a series of useless paragraphs about how challenging life can sometimes be take me so long to finish? Why can’t I just knock out some sentences and be done with it? I must be doing something wrong. Seriously. If they made a Lolcats meme based on me, it would depict me staring quizzically into the air above my laptop and the caption would read, “BLOGGING: UR DOIN’ IT RONG.”

It’s not just blogging, either. On an average day, I feel like I look up at the clock and realize it’s 11:45 pm, and somehow all I’ve accomplished since getting home from work is some chores, dinner, dishes, 2/16ths of a blog post, and roughly 80 minutes’ worth of clicking around the internet in search of something to wear in my hair for the wedding. And the next day after that and the next day after that are all variations on this same theme. How on earth is anything ever going to actually get finished?

Don’t mind me. I’m at one of those unavoidable wedding lows. It’s like a black cloud raining anxiety on my brain, and the harder I try to knuckle down and get stuff done, the harder it storms. You know it’s bad when you see a couple walking down the street laughing, and you are instantly resentful. They don’t look like they’re planning a wedding, the bastards! And you know it’s gotten really bad when you and your own partner seem to have forgotten how to talk about anything besides the list of stuff that needs to be done. I met the beau for a drink while he was on a 45-minute break on Saturday — the only time together we had that day, mind you — and I spent that time talking about cleaning the bathroom and what we should serve as our wedding dessert. Trust me, I eventually tried to change the subject to something pleasant, but I could not think of anything else to say. Where did my personality go? When did my brain stop functioning? Who are we anymore?

Here is where I used to wistfully say something about how we should have just eloped, but you know, it’s gotten way too late in the game to entertain fantasies of running away in earnest. And besides, we had damn good reasons for choosing to build this type of wedding in the first place. Even if I seem to have completely forgotten what those reasons are.

Now, lest you start to think I’ve gone and permanently changed my name to Debbie Downer — I’m assuming here that “you” are still reading this — let me assure you that I realize this is all just temporary. We will persevere. The beau and I are going to kick this wedding’s ass. We’re going to beat it senseless, and when it’s all over we’ll stand on top of it and shout, “We win, ha ha!” And then we will go to Vancouver, where I will sleep for seven days. And when I wake up, I’ll wonder where my honeymoon went. But I’ll nevertheless feel rejuvenated and happy, because hey! I don’t have to have a wedding anymore, ever! What do you know about that!

Here’s to the future, man. In the meantime, I’ll close this post on a positive note with this brief list of happy, gorgeous, and wonderful things that are also happening in my life right now:

  1. My friend’s mom has just informed us that she wants to bake homemade pies for our wedding dessert! For free!
  2. I am really enjoying Spoon’s latest album, Transference!
  3. I love avocados!
  4. The internet continues to be neat!
  5. My future mother-in-law sent me an email in which she said she was looking forward to having me as a daughter-in-law! In the beau’s family, this is akin to enthusiastically jumping up and down before enveloping someone in a big old bear hug!
  6. My cars starts every single time I turn the key in the ignition!
  7. I am still alive, so I must be doing something right!

Whew. Looks like things are shaping up to be pretty swell.

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* It was the annual Old Spanish Days Festival here in Santa Barbara, which coincides with the Annual Festival of Feral Douchebags in Sombreros and Shrieking Girls Unsuitably Dressed for the Weather Who Drink Watery Margaritas from Novelty Glasses and Throw Confetti-Filled Eggs at Each Other. This is immediately followed by the Annual Festival of Finding Stray Confetti in the Most Unexpected Places For A Minimum of Three Consecutive Months.

** The beau, of course. During the few hours we had between him packing up the taco booth and leaving town on business, of course.

*** He brought ice cream to me! While wearing his filthy taco booth shoes! Never have I been so “OMG I LOVE YOU” and “OMG GO AWAY” at the same time!

myth of magic

I fancy myself a rational person, but I’ve got my heart set on some wedding Magic. Yes, Magic. With a capital M. That’s what I’m after.

The industry blogs and magazines may play up the cute favors and the clever centerpieces and the jaw-dropping invitation suites, but none of that really gets me hard like Magic does. See, I’m reluctant to admit this, but underneath my hard candy shell of sarcasm lies a soft, sticky, gooey, caramel center.* The Magical moments of wedding recaps never fail to get my eyes a little wet. Those moments when the guests spontaneously broke out in a cheer during the ceremony, when the best friend delivered a heartfelt toast, when the mutual love became a tangible force in the room, even just for a little while.

Magic. I’m in hot pursuit.

You know, we talk and talk and talk about how toxic the material aspect of weddings can be on our psyches. All that impossibly crafty DIY and all those gorgeous details make us doubt our abilities and fear that our own weddings won’t look good enough. But hardly anybody talks about the anxiety that our weddings won’t feel good enough. That they will fail to be Magical enough. And maybe this is something that lives only in the nooks and crannies of my own strange head, but… I feel like all these months of seeing image after image of blissed-out couples huddling in a field and reading recap after recap of relaxed, mellow, loving weddings have got me jacked up on the Magic drug. If Magic was cocaine, I’d be sitting on a tiny mountain of it right now with it all over my face. And with the high comes the inevitable paranoia: Are my wedding values rightly aligned? Am I preparing myself enough to be present? HOW CAN I ENSURE THAT MY WEDDING IS A EUPHORIC RIDE ON THE EXPRESS TRAIN TO MAGICTOWN?

I’ve long been hoping that, by putting my faith in the good things about the wedding, the universe would return that faith to me in kind on my wedding day.** That the lovely moments that I couldn’t have “planned or paid for”*** will just flow. I concede this is a little like believing in Santa Claus: If you are a good kid during the engagement and live your values, you’ll get everything you ever wanted when the big day comes. Well, no. The world is fucked. Sometimes the goodies go to the least deserving. Sometimes our purest, most honorable intentions aren’t enough. In other words: Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way we want it to.

So from now on I intend to be honest with myself.

The wedding day will be stressful. I will probably be tense for part of it. Sometimes it will be a struggle not to snap, let alone stay grounded and present. I may, against my own will, experience a couple instances of “wedding terror face.” I just might be a jumble of nerves. I just might spend most of the ceremony ugly-crying. Who knows? I simply don’t know what will happen. Yet.

But I’m still holding out for a little bit of Magic.

____________________________________________

* OH GREAT, NOW I WANT SOME CANDY.

** And I still really, really do.

*** Quoted from the clever A. Marigold, courtesy of A Los Angeles Love.

are you there, me? it’s me, me

Dear me,

Your wedding is not a blog post. OK? Got that? I know you already know that, but I think you needed a reminder, because you were seriously having a little meltdown there for a while. Hell, you still are. That’s why you are (er, I am) writing this right now.

You were freaking out that your wedding wasn’t going to be as pretty and as fun as the ones you see on the internet. And not even those impeccably styled ones, where it looks like no one ever sits down at the table or touches the silverware. You’re agonized by the real ones, with real people.

Well, that’s a silly thing if I ever heard one.

See, you think you’ve got this wedding thing sussed. You’ve said all the right things about how you’re planning for the marriage, not just the wedding day. About how you’re focusing on the sentiment and not the material items. About how you want to eff the pretty and the perfect and just be present, prepared, and joyful. You’re making a mental list, you’re checking it forty-five times (a day), you’re crossing off what you can (and not nearly quickly enough, I might add).

But then you saw a wedding recap and yes, it was pretty and fun in ways you were worried yours won’t be (which is still silly and YOU KNOW THIS), but what struck you most while reading it was the realization that there is this one day? Where you ACTUALLY GET MARRIED. It will be a day — not unlike other days — when you wake up, you go about your business, you go to sleep. Sunrise to sunset, and on to the next.

This should not be an earth-shattering revelation, yet somehow it is.

You know, logically, that you will get married. You know what the venue looks like, you know what vendors you’ve hired, you know more or less who is going to be there. You know there will be flowers in vases, you know there will be a ceremony, you know you will party hard afterward. You’ve walked through the entire thing in your head. You have seen it unfold in your mind’s eye. You have plugged in variables X, Y, and Z, and spit out the calculation: Wedding Day.

Your head has known all along that you’re getting married. But now, suddenly, your heart knows it, too.

So right now you’re grappling with both a shock and a stumbling block. And you know that if I had the capacity to solve all of your problems in one fell swoop, I would. As it were, all I can do is offer some suggestions.

  1. Forget about unattainable levels of coolness. Remember that the blogsphere is but a narrow window into the worlds of others. Refer to this post whenever you need a jolt of truth. Know that for every beautiful wedding blog moment, there is a metaphorical cluttered desk just three feet to the right.* Actually, you should just go ahead and bookmark that page right now.
  2. And as for the matter of your newly-minted heart: Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

Love,
me

______________________________________________

* (thanks, Kimmie)

this is your face on wedding terror. any questions?

I’m willing to bet that you’ve been to a wedding before — once or twice, perhaps. Well, since you’re the expert here, I want to know: Have you ever spotted Wedding Terror Face?

Wedding Terror Face (which from this point forward shall be cleverly truncated as WTF), was a phenomenon I witnessed at one of the very first weddings I attended with the beau. I hunted the internet in vain for a photograph that unquestionably demonstrated this spectacle in all its awful glory, then finally gave up and drew this illustration:

This. This is the face of wedding terror. Note that the mouth is frozen in a wide, toothy smile, but the eyes are vacant, pained, and soulless; focusing not on a particular individual or activity but fixating, as it seems, on some imaginary middle distance. Absolutely overwhelmed, this bride operates wholly on autopilot. Somebody ought to sit the poor woman down and give her a drink. And a strong one at that.

Sadly, WTF was not a one-time occurrence. No. I would go on to observe it at nearly every wedding I attended. It soon became painfully clear to me that a wedding could easily overpower a person. So many guests, so many obligations, such a big day, such a life-changing event. No time to process anything, always moving from one moment to the next until the entire event becomes one brief, confusing blur.* Where exactly did these ladies go wrong?

Then it hit me: I, too, am at risk of becoming a victim of WTF.

I am more petrified of contracting WTF at my wedding than I am of backne, or cancer, or Sarah Palin.** If it could happen to all the others, it could surely happen to me, right? I mean, I’m sure no bride has ever intended to end up with a wedding album full of photos where it appears as if she’s on the verge of screaming, “Oh my fucking fuck, what the fuck is going on?!?” before melting into a puddle. Or punching someone in the face. But somehow it happens.

I mean, LOOK at this. Here, let’s zoom in real quick:

See? SEE? If this poor woman isn’t in dire need of help, I don’t know who is. She also clearly needs some time in the sun. Either that or somebody felt too lazy to bother adding more color.*** Sorry man, I never promised you a rose garden,  and I never claimed to be a professional cartoonist, either.****

Since WTF seems to be entirely outside of a person’s control, I didn’t want to be caught unprepared. I needed to know how to save myself. So I Googled “how to prevent wedding terror face” and came up with hit after hit on Star Trek episodes, terrorists, and veils. Nothing on how to avoid being trampled by your very own wedding. Why? Why?

Then I fell asleep and had a dream.***** I dreamt I was at my wedding. It was held high on a mountain in a gilded meadow. The reception space was scattered with hundreds of flowers in vintage vases on top of antique sewing tables. All my friends were highly attractive people with asymmetrical haircuts and plastic 80’s neon sunglasses. We were all just sitting around the campfire on Victorian couches and hay bales, laughing, feeding ourselves bundt cake, while the late afternoon light painted us in yellow and orange. The Flashdance was slowly, masterfully spinning some soulful grooves. Time moved at a crawl. The happy hours stretched out into blissful days. Our wedding was just like that one Journey song where it goes on, and on, and on, and oo-oo-oooon.

I woke up and I felt at peace. I knew then that everything was going to be OK. Until I remembered that my wedding is not on a rural mountainside, there will be no campfire or antique furniture or bundt cake, The Flashdance is not my vendor,****** and my friends are actually normal-looking people with regular haircuts who look like assholes when they wear neon sunglasses.

Then I was overcome with fear again. So I drank. Copiously. But that’s beside the point. I am still working on figuring out what’s in front of and behind the point. I’ll let you know if anything conclusive comes of it.

But then, without warning, a realization ran up and karate-chopped me in the gut: Nothing can save me from WTF except myself.

The naysayers tell me I cannot prevent my wedding from passing me by at the speed of light. So I will do my best to go about slowing it down. I will carve from the schedule every tradition and commitment that does not resonate with me. I will refrain from chasing down every guest and trying to squeeze a meaningful half-hour conversation from each one. I will sit down. I will breathe. I will look around. I will dance. I will go back for seconds. I will refill my cup, again. I will make time.

I will not pledge to be perfect, but I will pledge to be present. Just be present. And moreover, just be.

And if any of you who are reading this end up at my wedding and see even just a glimmer of WTF appear, please. Take me aside, splash some cold water in my face, stick your tongue out at me, and make me take some shots.

Together, we can find the cure for this horrid affliction.

______________________________________________________

* Not unlike college.

** Actually, I take it back, Palin wins the fear challenge and advances to the final round.

*** Oopses, that would be me.

**** I also never promised that this blog would be, you know, good, or even necessarily make sense, but this is the danger you tempt when you roam the wilds of the internet.

***** This dream actually never happened.

****** Booooooooo.

our wedding role model

For most of my life I assumed that if I got married, certain things would happen a certain way. I assumed I’d get married in a church. I assumed I wouldn’t see my partner on the wedding day before the ceremony. I also assumed my partner wouldn’t see my dress until the moment I walked down the aisle. I assumed I wouldn’t talk to our guests before the ceremony. I held all these assumptions because I’d never seen a wedding done any differently.

Then, a year before we got engaged, the beau and I went to the wedding of two old friends. It was held in the backyard of an uncle’s house. Our friends hung out in the yard with us before the ceremony. There was a root beer float table. During the ceremony, us guests all held aloft our wine and champagne glasses, whooping and hollering our support. The catered dinner was all vegetarian, and it was one of the most delicious meals I had that year. During dinner there was an open mic, and people — in various states of drunkenness — wandered up to deliver spontaneous, teary speeches of love. After dinner there was tiramisu, lovingly made by an aunt, and a mariachi band played and we danced until our feet fell off. After we shut the backyard down, we hobbled (and wobbled) to a nearby bar and continued celebrating deep into the night.

Yeah. This was my wedding blog inspiration before I even knew there were wedding blogs.

But it wasn’t the little details that got me about this wedding, because I can’t even recall how it was decorated. And it wasn’t their deviance from wedding tradition that made it cool and fun. It was just them. Our friends managed to remain true to themselves, and that was reflected throughout the entire day. They felt comfortable and relaxed, so we felt comfortable and relaxed. If I squeeze my eyes shut and think really hard, I can recall that there were challenges that day — the disruption of the ceremony by a squalling child, the overbearing heat that made sweat trickle down my back, the raining ash from a nearby wildfire.* But when I think of their wedding, I don’t think of any of that. I just remember all the love.

The beau and I still remark to each other that that was the best wedding we’ve ever been too. The experience was like a lightbulb flickering on. It was a rebuttal to my assumptions about how to go about my wedding. It was a challenge to validate my reasoning for keeping or ditching certain traditions. And most importantly, it was a permission slip to do things the way that felt right to me, even if I’d never seen them done at a wedding before. It was permission to just be us, whatever that involved.

Since we got engaged, this has been the wedding we return to every time we’re trying to clarify our goals. This is the wedding we reference every time we’re trying to find the words to describe a specific feeling. And I feel so fortunate that we have our friends’ wedding to look up to as we go through the planning process — we’d feel adrift without it.

Do you have a wedding role model?

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* YES. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? What a nightmare.

eff all… or not

I came here to be mad.

Our wedding budget has completely fallen apart. I am talking: Off the rails. I am talking: Either scrapping all of our wedding plans, cutting the guest list in half, or moving the wedding date back six months.

It doesn’t feel fair in a way, you know? We weren’t being ridiculous. We didn’t have unrealistic expectations. We weren’t throwing our money at ice-carved swans. I wasn’t looking at spending 67,000 chickens on a gown. Everything was more or less basic. It should have been easy. It was supposed to be easy.

I know, I know. Wah, wah, tantrum.

But you know what? As quick as all this anger came, it left.

Maybe I’ve been reading the blogs of sane people way too much. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. But I’ve heard so many stories about wedding disasters that were ultimately overcome. And time and again the message is: Do what you need to do. It will all work out in the end.

I am too tired to be mad. I am too creative to allow this hardship to prevail over us. I am too resilient to allow this turn of events to bend my force of will.

So, this is my missive to the universe. Please let me be creative enough to figure this out. Please let my resiliency preclude failure.

And if not, well… somehow, I’ll still end up married.

in which i try not to care so hard

This weekend a friend who’s getting married in November told me he hasn’t actually seen the venue yet, even though it’s nearby. In fact, outside of the date he knows absolutely nothing about the wedding. His fiancée and her mother are planning the whole thing without him.

My jaw dropped. I was flabbergasted. Flummoxed. Perplexed. How can he go all these months without being involved in his OWN WEDDING, I scoffed to myself? How could he just blatantly NOT CARE?

I managed sputter back, “But… but don’t you feel like you’re missing out on the chance to personalize your wedding? Aren’t you afraid that it isn’t going to reflect you?”

He shrugged. “Nah. All that stuff is just stuff,” he said. He explained that his fiancée’s family is paying, and they’re really committed to the idea of the wedding being a certain way, so he’s OK with letting them make those decisions. In the end, he’s still getting married, and that’s what matters. Right?

Oh. Right. Okay. Cool.

Later, I found myself turning over our exchange in my head. As much as I’d like to believe I wouldn’t judge someone just because they have a different approach to weddings than my partner and I do, my reaction proves otherwise. I reacted to the concept of their traditional wedding. I reacted to my own concepts of money, class, privilege, and gender roles. And I reacted to the slippery concept of personalization — which is really just another way to say details. And details are just another way to divert our attention away from what’s really going on, which is: We are getting married. MARRIED, people.

Did I ever tell you about this dream I had? One night early in our engagement I dreamt that the beau had organized a surprise wedding for us, on a cruise ship. In the dream I woke up and he was like, SURPRISE! WEDDING! We rode in a limo to a pier where the ship was docked and our friends were already lining up to board. As we walked up the beau was telling me excitedly about how the cruise ship was taking care of everything, right down to the decorations. And I started crying, crying, right there in the line with our guests because OMG, the cruise ship flowers were probably going to be ugly and I hadn’t had time to pick out a proper dress and what did the chairs even look like and OMG, the wedding wasn’t going to reflect meeeeeeee. Seriously.

Why do we have customized email themes and avatars? 15 cell phone colors to choose from? Hell, why does Formspring exist? We like to express ourselves to others. We believe the objects we choose to use informs our meaning as individuals. We don’t want what everybody else has; we want to be unique. The wedding industry didn’t teach us to be like this in an effort to get us to buy more stuff. We have always been like this. It’s no wonder we carry it over into our weddings.

And so in quicker than a minute, my friend — the same dude that was once nearly thrown out of Medieval Times for trying to steal the king’s sword during an epic birthday rager — had schooled me in wedding philosophy. He reminded me that the wedding details we choose may reflect us, but they don’t give our weddings meaning. Only we can do that.

Not caring about the details isn’t the same as not caring about the marriage. Not caring about the details doesn’t make the emotion of the day any less real.*

My friend got that. And I got a chance to relearn it.

____________________________________________

* Turns out that Becca posted earlier today along this same topic, and as usual she put it a lot better than I did.

i’m keeping this in mind

When I start to feel overwhelmed by the planning process, I try to think of the beau’s parents.

At the time they decided to get married, the beau’s mom was working in the Bay Area while his dad was stationed upstate as a firefighter with the park service. His dad only got one day off per week — if at all — and that day was Sunday.

One late Saturday night after his shift ended, his dad drove down to the Bay to pick up the beau’s mom. On Sunday, they drove out to Carson City, because there was no waiting period for a marriage license in Nevada like there was in California. His mom wore her nicest dress; his dad donned a tie. They said their vows in a chapel they can’t even remember the name of anymore. Only their parents and a couple of close friends were in attendance. Afterwards, everyone went out for dinner, and then drove back home. Monday came and it was back to work as usual.

I like that little story because the lack of fanfare and spectacle speaks of their deep, quiet commitment. Planning a big wedding wasn’t in the cards for them. They just wanted to be married already. Period. So, they winged it.

Like all of us have before, sometimes I wonder about that a little bit — why go through the stress of planning a full balls-out wedding when the beau and I could just wing it? Why do any of us bother to spend months or years plotting the logistics of moving a horde of people to one place for one day of love and food and drink, when we could just go right out tomorrow, get hitched, and be done with it? The end game is the same, right?

It boils down to choice. And reflecting on the beau’s parents’ marriage choices helps me reaffirm our own.

Their story reminds me that we could have this wedding any other way, and it would still be just as awesome and sweet. But we wanted to throw a giant party for a bunch of our friends and family. We wanted this wedding we’re planning. Remembering that it was a choice makes it less of a burden.

We’re very fortunate to be able to choose to have our wedding this way — some couples experience far less control over their circumstances. And although I’m prone to cynicism, I can also make a choice not to be overpowered by negativity.

Yes, the planning process is going to be stressful at times. But when else in my life am I going to be ordering save-the-date magnets, or figuring out seating arrangements for over 100 people? Never. Praise the giant inflated head of Kanye West, I will never have to do this again. Why not have a little fun with it?

Maybe “fun” and “wedding planning” sound weird together, but you know what? The wedding industry is weird. Getting married is weird. I’m weird.

I’m gonna try to embrace the weirdness with open arms.

D-I-WTF

DIY in the real world is pretty self-explanatory: Some things you do yourself, instead of hiring someone else to do them. What exactly you choose to do yourself depends on a myriad of factors, including budget, tools, time, and ability. This is why I “DIY” my car’s oil change, after all — I have an off-street place to park, I have the basic supplies, I have the know-how, it doesn’t take very long, and it saves me money. Changing my own oil works for me. Hell, I even like it a little.

This is DIY in the real world.

DIY in the wedding world has been, for me, another thing altogether. I’ve long been flummoxed by the term, because it seems that “DIY” gets trotted out the most when describing a wedding that has a lot of handmade elements — think pinwheels, bunting, goccoed invitations. Hence, I’ve come to equate “DIY wedding” with “crafty.”

I don’t do crafty.

Two of my best friends are among the craftiest people in the world. They can knit you a scarf, make you a purse, cross-stitch the crap out of anything. Their skills continue to amaze me, for I wouldn’t trust myself to sew a button on. One of these friends once brought her sewing machine over to help make some curtains for my bathroom, and that thing scared the shit out of me. My poor pal was baffled at my horror. “It’s really easy,” she assured me. “It really takes no skill whatsoever, you just have to learn.”

Hmm. My grandfather put it a bit differently when he described his attempts to teach my dad and his sister to play the accordion. “It takes nothing at all,” he insisted. “They just didn’t have no talent. They were awful.”

Yeah. See, that’s me with crafting. Just plain no-talent awful.

So here I was, starting to bite my nails, because I knew I wanted to DIY some elements of the wedding in order to save money, but I also knew that any project that involved a trip to Michael’s and/or the purchase of a hot glue gun was going to send me screaming and kicking into the dark recesses of hell.

Then I experienced a newsflash: DIYing my wedding doesn’t have to involve crafting if I don’t want it to. All ya’ll probably already know this, because you are smarter and wiser than I. But this was my call to get back to DIY basics. A reaffirmation of the “do what works for me” philosophy.

I started by trying to bring it down to street level. What are my skills? What do I actually like to do? OK, I’m a designer. I like to design. That means I can… you know, design things. Things like the save-the-dates, the invitations, and the wedding website. I already have the entire Adobe Creative Suite sitting right here on my MacBook Pro, after all. And I already have web hosting set up — all I have to do is purchase a domain name for our wedding site. Good! Right?

But I still felt conflicted. What with my perfectionist tendencies, designing these things is going to suck up all my free time. Moreover, save-the-dates and websites have been called out recently by the blogosphere as two of the least important wedding elements. Did I really want to waste a lot of effort and energy on things that I already know won’t matter in the long run?

Then I decided: Yes. Yes, I do.

Yeah, I know I could save buttloads of time by just picking out a readymade invitation suite. And I can’t even argue that building my own website will save us any money, because I can go out to the Knot, pick some colors and upload some pictures, and have a wedding website in under an hour for free. But do you know. How much. That would make me. HURT inside? My pride couldn’t stand a blow like that. My type-A personality would chafe under the knowledge that rrrrrghhhh this is just a template that somebody else made, and oh my god, I don’t even like this stupid scroll pattern but it’s the least offensive design of all of them.

So this is my DIY plan of action. It won’t save me much on time, but it’ll save me a little bit of money. I already have the tools on hand, and I’ll get to exercise my skills on something that’s important to me. This is what works for me.

What works for you?