Category Archives: planning

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.

shock and awe

These final weeks of planning a wedding are like being on drugs. The euphoric, blissful highs are always bound to be followed by crushing, empty comedowns. For every item you cross off the list, for every minor victory, something else goes wrong. Found your wedding shoes? Hooray! Oops, your hair fascinator broke.* These things do not happen in one successive, unbroken line of isolated incidents, of course. No. While this and this are happening, that and that are also happening, in addition to those and those. And so it goes, a thousand little triumphs and defeats in one day, like cake batter being perpetually folded in on itself. And gradually these disparate instances rise, gather energy, and fuse into a singular force; a rushing wave that crests but doesn’t break. You’re just swept along with it until it suddenly dawns on you that, like… everything influences everything else. All the objects and all the people and like everything … it’s all one big thing. Working together! We have the same hopes and dreams and experiences, man. We’re all riding on this wave. One love. One fabric woven together. You know? Like one big blanket draped over the universe. It’s like … all connected, man.

Drugs? What drugs? We are talking about weddings, here. Jeez, guys.

To further illustrate my point, I turn to: bullet points. WHAT’S UP NOW, UNORDERED LIST? Here, I present to you a personal, non-comprehensive list of recent cringe- and yay-inducing moments.

  • Earlier this week, at the final meeting with our caterer/day-of coordinator, I experienced a giant and all-encompassing meltdown. Why? I am still not clear on this. To the best of my recollection, we had to change some minor things on our setup schedule, which meant that I had to change some of our wedding documents, and for some reason I interpreted this new information as the most horrifically impossible set of tasks I’d ever faced. I cried for days, guys.Our poor caterer, having apparently been through this kind of thing before, responded to my festival of sobbing by presenting me with two cupcakes and the largest glass of red wine ever poured. When I mumbled repeatedly that I was sorry, he waved it off. “Oh, honey,” he said. “I have seen things.”
  • My undergarments! I finally got them in the mail!!!!!
  • My undergarments! I haven’t had time to try them on. No, really. I am just going to go for it and hope it works out for the best. This has the potential to turn ugly.
  • We wrote our vows!
  • Oh, wait… nevermind. These vows aren’t going to work.
  • We have halfway rewritten our vows!
  • Oh, shit. What day is this wedding again?
  • At last, after agonizing over the various options, we have finalized the guest seating chart!
  • Huh? You mean those people aren’t coming to the wedding anymore?
  • Yesssss! We made a detailed schedule for our wedding party, families, and photographers! We’re so organized.
  • ALL THE FUCKING SCHEDULE DETAILS CHANGED. AGAIN.
  • We finalized the rentals!
  • What? The DJ is now demanding that we rent a large umbrella to shade him? Buh?

On so on. Something serendipitously solved, only to have it snatched from our grasp. You get the picture.

In other news, the first wave of our family arrived today. I am… stunned. I cannot believe this is happening. It just dawned on my yesterday that all these people were coming into town, and that this was actually happening. Unaware much? I don’t know. Sometimes I can burrow down so far inside of myself that I’m not remotely aware that the world continues to turn outside of my skin. Right now, today, I feel like I’m emerging from a darkened movie theatre into blinding afternoon light. I’m not sure where I am, or how I got here. All I know is that there’s a plotline about planning a wedding still echoing inside my skull. The me of tomorrow feels like a film character instead of my actual life. I’m excited to see how this story pans out.

And nervous. Nervous as all damn hell.

_____________________________________________

* Not that anything like this, um, happened to me, or anything.

errands

This morning the beau and I ducked out of our respective jobs to go to the Friday farmer’s market and scope out their flower selection. Verily, it is from this market that we will pick flowers up before the wedding, so we thought we should make ourselves acquainted with its bounty.

Then we picked up our order of three cases of champagne.*

Then we got this:

Tiny steps closer.

__________________________________________________________

* Holler.

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?

_______________________________________________________________

* 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!

the view from the top

Early on in our engagement, we sat down and tried to dial into what we were looking for in a wedding venue. What came out of that session was this list of priorities.

Lately, I remembered this list, and I got curious. How does the venue we chose stack up? Let’s see.

  1. have a space for us to get ready onsite (if not stay there altogether)
    Yeah, hmm, non-applicable. Although this was back when I thought that we’d be getting married hundreds of miles from home, not a mere four blocks.*
  2. feature a gorgeous spot to hold the ceremony in the sun
    Check and mark. Now if only the sun will cooperate.
  3. possess an indoor/outdoor reception space nearby
    Well, there’s nothing indoor about it, but the reception space is indeed just a few steps away.
  4. permit liquor on the premises
    HELL to the YES.
  5. allow us to supply our own booze
    Thank ye gods. Money saver!
  6. agree to let us to select our own caterer
    Not so much. We had to choose a caterer off of a list of approved vendors. Bah. You win this round, venue.
  7. be within reasonable walking distance to a range of hotels and motels
    Fortunately, yes. We really didn’t want to worry about guests getting home safely, because our guests drink like fishes. If fishes drank alcohol.
  8. be within reasonable walking distance to a cool bar for the after party
    Yepper. Score!
  9. be freaking unique and awesome in general
    Sure. I mean, it doesn’t have teams of waterskiing squirrels in the fountains or a human cannonball attraction, but I guess it does all right for itself.
  10. oh yeah, and of course be affordable.
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA *sob*

Okay then. Seven out of ten. Not bad, not bad.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on just how instrumental our early decisions were in crafting the wedding we’re having now. That list of priorities became the foundation on which the whole house of hitching was built. And after all the months of searching up and down the California coast for the right venue, the list finally helped us know when we’d found it. Not the “perfect” venue, no, because those don’t exist. The venue that matched our priorities the best.

Yet even within those parameters we could have had it a hundred thousand ways. A cabin-in-the-woods wedding. A retro lounge-style wedding. A backyard picnic wedding. A city rooftop wedding. I think I was in love with all of these places a hundred times over, but none of them met enough of our needs, or our guests’ needs for that matter. And so our museum courtyard wedding is what we got. I don’t regret that, but I still wonder what could have been.**

What were your priorities when choosing your venue? What was non-negotiable, and what did you compromise on?

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* Sidebar: Funny thing is, even after we finally booked our venue here in town — months after I made this list — I clung to the idea of staying in a hotel the night before the wedding for a while. I was worried the wedding day would feel less than monumental if I woke up in my own bed, in my (presumably) messy, disorganized house the morning that I got married. And um, I finally decided that answer is: No.

** Will this ever stop? Hopefully after the wedding? Please tell me it stops after the wedding. Please also tell me that after the wedding I will never have to think or talk about weddings ever again. Please?

in which everything is JUST FINE, thank you

As we creep ever closer to the hallowed 100-day mark* I’ve been a tad, how shall I say, down in the mouth about all those things on that wedding to-do list I’ve been ignoring. A week ago I actually had to lie down in the grass during a wine-tasting trek** because I was having stress-induced stomach cramps over this list. See? This is why I tend to ignore it in the first place. I’ve found that ignorance truly is bliss – at least until someone asks about the infernal wedding again.

Lately it seems like everything is a reason for people to furrow their brows at us in disbelief. You don’t have your website done? Brow furrow. You don’t have the invitations done? Brow furrow. You haven’t made a playlist? You haven’t made a map of your table layout? You don’t have a registry? A dessert order? Your honeymoon planned? Epic brow furrow supreme.

Meanwhile, there are other things going on. We are both trying to figure out what we’re wearing on the big day. We’re trying to figure out what we want in a ceremony. I am writing my bridal shower thank-you cards. We’re finalizing hotel blocks. Finalizing where the rehearsal picnic will be held. Finalizing the dinner menu. We have jobs to tend, oh yeah that’s right, WE ARE EMPLOYED FULL-TIME AT ORGANIZATIONS THAT MAKE US DO THINGS ENTIRELY UNRELATED TO WEDDINGS FOR SUBSTANTIAL PORTIONS OF THE DAY.*** I also have a blog to write. And some semblance of a social life to maintain. And I have to get my cousin a card for his high school graduation, and I have to send my friend a birthday gift EVEN THOUGH HER BIRTHDAY WAS LAST WEEK,**** and I have to change the oil in my car, and, and, and AND.

I didn’t mean to turn this post into a whinefest. It’s just that we’re finally in the thick of it. We’re past the point of what ifs and should wes and well maybes and into rolling up those sleeves and grinding it out. I am suddenly hyperaware that this is a very strange and unique phase in our lives that we’ll never, if we’re lucky, ever repeat: The all-wedding-all-the-time crunch.

Tonight we had a meeting with the caterer and he drew out a map of the venue along with where everything would go: Bar, dancefloor, gift table, buffet, dessert table, everything. And as we were walking through the timeline of the day I finally saw in my mind, for the first time, all of those things in their respective places, and our friends milling around with drinks, and our families giving tearful toasts near the dancefloor, and it was REAL. This thing is real and it’s happening. And we’re rolling.

Maybe we’re not rolling particularly fast, but damn if we’re not doing the best we can.

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* Which BY THE WAY is happening next week.

** And I know what you’re thinking, but no, I actually hadn’t even had any of the damn wine yet.

*** I’m sorry, but the capslock key just flowed forth mercilessly in this post.

**** Sorry, man. I’m lame.

phoning it in

Oh, the questions. So many are running rampant through my head today.

  1. Why did I finally cave in and buy the skinny jeans with the tapered ankles? The kind I hadn’t worn since 7th grade? The kind I’ve mocked relentlessly since they became popular again? Yeah, OK, so they make you look sleek and trim. If you’re a size 2. On me? My thighs resemble two sausage links in a stretch denim casing. And not even the good kind of sausage. I’m talking the industrial-grade gray logs found languishing in many a school and corrections facility cafeteria. You want some canned gravy with that?
  2. What the heck does our caterer have against our guests drinking booze during the ceremony? Ah yes, he thinks it will make things get out of control and it will be difficult to corral them and make them sit down. That’s right, because it’s not like the courtyard is an enclosed space or anything, and furthermore it’s safe to assume that upon taking that very first sip of alcohol they will completely lose their minds, strip the tablecloths from the reception tables, and set off down the street in a spontaneous toga party parade, very likely setting small fires along the way. You know, I’ve seen booze successfully consumed at two wedding ceremonies thus far, and I like the casual-community-gathering feel it imbues — I want our guests to be able to laugh and relax and toast us. On the flip side, serving alcohol during the ceremony — even if it is just pre-poured glasses of cheap wine — amounts to buying more alcohol, which amounts to spending more money. Should I fight for this one, or just throw in the towel?
  3. Can one develop a meaningful relationship with cheese? If so, I am having a dizzying fling with Trader Joe’s sharp cheddar pub cheese. Do they actually serve this at real pubs? Is it OK to pretend that I’m at a pub when I eat it? Even though I am not at a pub, I am standing in my kitchen at home, and I am desperately seeking out something salty and cheesy to distract me from the fact that HOLY CRAP, THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING ALL MY MONEY?*
  4. Can we please ban Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2)” from all sports arenas? Because seriously. Just seriously.**
  5. How are you supposed to go about finding somebody to marry you when a) you don’t really identify with a particular religion, and b) you don’t really know a suitable friend or family member? I downloaded the list of local officiants from the county clerk, and maybe 1/5 of them have websites listed. Roughly half of them even have email addresses. So do I just pick a name at random, call them up, and be like: Yo, spin me a sample of ur ceremonial beatz? I dunno. Maybe I can at least narrow down the options via the list’s helpful “notes” column that details such important information as which officiant is a “Christian Spiritualist,” which can do “Incarcerated ceremonies,” which is the “Former Lompoc Mayor,” and which is a “Sea Captain.” Sea captain? Sold!
  6. Miller Lite commercials can go to hell. They can go to hell and die.***
  7. Oh, that’s not really a question. Hmm.
  8. Should I be alarmed at the beau’s eagerness to try a KFC Double Down sandwich? Would you try a Double Down sandwich? I totally would… if it wasn’t from KFC.
  9. I hate money.
  10. Oh shit, that’s not a question either.
  11. Gah. I give up.

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* Estimated tax payments for the self-employed are due 4/15, 6/15, 9/15, and 1/15. Which means I have to make THREE tax payments in the coming five months, while I’m trying to save for the wedding. FML.

** Oh, but I do enjoy when they get creative. Like during a hockey game, when a player from the home team gets sent to the penalty box, and they play Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So?” Relative obscurity FTW!

*** In that order.

reasoning

EIGHT REASONS TO MOVE OUR WEDDING DATE TO NEXT SPRING

  1. We’ll have more time! More time to plan and enjoy the process!
  2. We’ll be able to save more for the wedding.
  3. After a few months without rain, September in Santa Barbara is usually hazy and dry. Also, there’s a higher probability of wildfire. And of fog.
  4. A spring wedding will not interfere with my viewing of season four of Mad Men.
  5. A spring wedding may give me just enough time to thoroughly remove Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” from its number one slot in my mental jukebox, so that when the officiant turns to me and asks whether I will take this man to be my lawfully wedded husband, or whatever, I will not respond with “RAH-RAH-AH-AH-AAH, ROMA-ROMA-MA, GA-GA-OOH-LA-LAA.”
  6. Two words: Beer Festival.* Yeah, we put on a beer festival each autumn, and it never fails to be a crazy busy time.
  7. Spring = fewer European tourists. Sorry, but men shouldn’t wear skinny jeans.
  8. There are a shit-ton of weddings happening inside our circle of friends this autumn, which increases the possibility that some of our favorite people may not be able to make it to ours.

NINE REASONS TO KEEP OUR AUTUMN WEDDING DATE

  1. We’ll have less time. Less time to plan and panic about the process.
  2. We’ll spend less on the wedding.
  3. Spring increases the chance of rain on our wedding day. Also of wildfire. Fire season is year-round, now. That’s what The Governator said, anyway.
  4. A September wedding will not interfere with my viewing of NHL hockey games. How am I supposed to frighten my neighbors by unexpectedly shouting “TAKE A SHOT!” and “FUCK!” at my TV screen if I am too busy getting married?
  5. By spring Lady Gaga will have released a new song that will have permanently, hopelessly, embedded itself in my brain, anyway.**
  6. Two words: rugby season. Likelihood of the beau sporting a shiner on our big day jumps to 60%.
  7. Fall farmers’ market = biggest harvest, better food and flowers.
  8. Absolutely no one else we know is getting married next spring, which increases the possibility that more people will be able to attend ours (a.k.a. longer, more expensive guest list).
  9. Nobody else but me wants to actually move the wedding date.

Guess that solves that one.

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* The beau’s rugby team wouldn’t be real rugby players if they didn’t manage to combine their annual fundraising activity with heavy drinking.

** Title suggestion for first big single of 2011: “Mad Bromance.”

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.