Hey. Hey there. Long time, uh, long time no write.
So I was digging around in the admin area of this blog recently (don’t ask) and came across this draft post from May of 2010. That… was a long time ago! But… it was practically a finished post! That I never got around to publishing! So that’s fun.
You know what’s even more fun than an unpublished post? A published post.
So here it is. Taking you back to the pre-bridal-shower days in three, two, one…
My mom called me up the other day. She had some urgent bridal shower business to talk about. I put on my frowny face and readied myself for a serious discussion.1
Wanna know what we talked about? Are you sure? Get ready….
“Maria,2” she said. “What about the dishes and utensils for the picnic lunch?”
“What about them?” I asked, dumbly.
“I am worried the plates you get won’t be heavy duty enough for the food,” she said.
“Uh…” I had no idea what to say to this.
“Because you don’t want the plates to start bending or folding from the weight of the food,” she explained.
“I can… I mean, I can make sure to get some heavy-duty ones,” I mumbled lamely, grasping at straws.
“But you don’t know what kind of food you’re having yet,” she reminded me, stridently. We had already established that she is Worried That I Haven’t Thought About The Food. And now the Plates. My God, will someone please think of the Plates?
Can I take a moment to point out that he bridal shower is over two months away.
“Have you thought about the color of the napkins?”
Yes, mom. The color of the napkins will be black, in honor of my cynical shower-planning heart.
No, I have to confess, I haven’t thought about any of these bridal shower details. None of them. Not a whit. Because for some crazy reason I was convinced it was as simple as going down to the local Whole Foods, looking in the glass case, pointing out some nice-looking edibles, and paying for them. Then, I’d go and pick out some sturdy-looking plates, utensils, and napkins with an eye toward price, not color. Then I’d take all my stuff home and put it out on tables at the bridal shower and everyone would dutifully chow down on the grub and proceed to throw away the hand-selected plastic kitchenware and then we’d all, somehow, some way, move on with our lives.
But not my mom. My mom has Thoughts. She has Worries. She has Issues. She has Plans.
Plans about Plates. Plate plans.
And you know what? Sometimes, you just have to play along. Because even though you and your partner are the only ones getting married, you’re not the only ones involved. And the people involved frequently have different priorities than you do.
Sometimes you have to let things go.
Sometimes, you just have to think of the plates.
1 My mother can detect mockery long-distance.
2 She calls me Maria sometimes. No, Maria is not my given name. I’ve learned in these situations that it’s best not to ask.
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.
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.
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.
One of the hardest things we did for the wedding was write our own ceremony. It seemed like such a monumental task — even bigger than choosing the venue, or the ordeal of making the invitations — because it was solely about the relationship between us. What did we want to say? What kind of meaning did we want to inject?
Partial plagiarism? Sure. Our final script borrowed liberally from the folks above. But when you’re writing your own ceremony, you need parameters. You need raw source material. I couldn’t have done it without other bloggers, and I’m forever indebted to them. So I thought I’d pay some of that debt back by posting our entire ceremony here.
The words below are the result of a collaboration between me and the beau; our officiant, Randall; and the wedding community at large. Some of the passages — such as the first few paragraphs under Marriage Address — are my own words. Others — such as the Ring Intro — are definitely not. Still, if this proves helpful to even just one person, the sharing was more than worth it.
Oh, and I sprinkled the post liberally with photographs by Christina Richards, too — they’re so pretty, I couldn’t resist.
[PROCESSIONAL TO MUSIC]
Randall [shaking fist]: The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh — oh, that was last weekend.
Randall: Welcome, friends and family! Today we celebrate the best of what it means to be human. Today we celebrate love.
You were invited here to share this moment with Beau and Lyn because you are the people who mean the most to them. The understanding and mutual respect that they bring to their lives together had its roots in the love, friendship, and guidance you have given them. You are their community. They are honored to have you here.
[RING WARMING INTRO]
Randall: During this ceremony Lyn and Beau will exchange rings. These rings are visible signs of their commitment to one another.
As this ceremony proceeds we ask that you, Beau and Lyn’s community, take part in the warming of the rings. As each of you receives the rings, we ask that you take a moment to wish them health, happiness, and a meaningful life together before passing them on to the next person. When these rings come back to them, they will contain that which is priceless: your love, hope, and spirit.
[GROOMSMAN TAKES RINGS OUT AND HANDS THEM OFF TO CLOSEST PERSON IN FRONT ROW]
Randall: Lyn and Beau would like to thank each of you for being with them today. They know that making the journey took considerable effort for a good many of you and for this they are deeply grateful. Although many of you don’t live right around the corner, you are never far from their hearts. You’ve shared in their best and their worst days, and you are an irreplaceable part of their yesterdays, their today and all of their tomorrows. A marriage needs the help of a community, of friends and family who will be there to stand by the couple during hard times and during happy times. Each and every person here today will witness the words that they will speak to one another and the vows that they will make. May we always do all within our power to support the union that will be made here today and to nurture the bond between these two people whom we love.
[CALL TO RAISE GLASSES]
Randall: If you’re willing to support the marriage between Lyn and Beau, I’d like to ask you to take your glass, if you have one, and raise it in honor of your pledge. To Beau and Lyn!
[wedding party leads crowd in claps and cheers]
[REMEMBRANCE OF DEPARTED FAMILY]
Randall: On this happy and joyous day, Beau and Lyn would also like to remember those who are not here with us, particularly Anna, Lyn’s grandmother; and Hi and Lois and Irene and Albert, Beau’s grandparents. Their losses are deeply felt and their spirits are missed. Lyn and Beau would have been proud to have shared this day with them.
[MARRIAGE EQUALITY STATEMENT]
Randall: As we celebrate marriage today, we’d also like to recognize those of us who cannot, by law, take this step. Beau and Lyn believe that everyone deserves the right to marry, and the emotional benefits and legal protections that come from it. In a just world, we will all be free to make lawful, lifetime commitments. Hopefully, that day will come soon.
At this time, Beau and Lyn would like to invite Zack and Fabio to come up and give two readings they have selected. Please continue passing the rings.
An excerpt from the 1965 novel “Stoner” by John Williams
Zack: In his extreme youth, William Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.
The lyrics to the song “Love is Like a Bottle of Gin” by the Magnetic Fields
Fabio: It makes you blind, it does you in
It makes you think you’re pretty tough
It makes you prone to crime and sin
It makes you say things off the cuff
It’s very small and made of glass
and grossly over-advertised
It turns a genius to an ass
and makes a fool think he is wise
It could make you regret your birth
or turn cartwheels in your best suit
It costs a lot more than it’s worth
and yet there is no substitute
They keep it on a higher shelf
the older and more pure it grows
It has no color in itself
but it can make you see rainbows
You can find it on the Bowery
or you can find it at Elaine’s
It makes your words more flowery
It makes the sun shine, makes it rain
You just get out what they put in
and they never put in enough
Love is like a bottle of gin
but a bottle of gin is not like love
Randall: Thank you for your readings.
What is marriage? Why do we get married?
We hear a lot of things about marriage in our everyday lives. The average television sitcom would have you believe that marriage, to paraphrase the band R.E.M., is the end of the world as you know it. That marriage is effectively the end of your life.
Today Beau and Lyn respectfully submit that marriage is not an end but a beginning.
It’s not a perfect beginning. It’s not a clean slate. Marriage is a process. Marriage is growth. Marriage is a bold step into an unknown future. It is risking who we are for the sake of who we can be.
Beau and Lyn are coming into their marriage with individual personalities and individual histories. They’ve already chosen each other for their family, and today they are choosing to celebrate what has already begun and will continue to grow for years to come.
As Madeleine L’Engle wrote in The Irrational Season, “To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation.”
Lyn and Beau have asked Kim to read the following quote by Robert Senghas that speaks to both the weaknesses and strengths of ourselves as individual participants, and to the challenges and deep fulfillments of marriage.
[KIM STEPS FORWARD]
Kim: “Each of us was brought into the world without any decision of his own; each of us was stamped with the condition of mortality from the moment of conception. And so, of the three most significant events in our lives, birth, marriage and death, it is only in marriage that we have the full power of personal decision.
“In marriage the greatest courage will be required. We shall be put to the test of continuing to accept our partner with all defects revealed; but beyond this we shall be faced with the anguish of having to accept our own weaknesses. And this is the most difficult of all that is required of us: to accept that we are not as we should like to think we are, and that we are not as we should like the world to think we are.”
“But marriage also offers us the condition for the supreme fulfillment of human life: for our acceptance of our spouse with all of his or her strengths and weaknesses, our love for our companion in marriage, and above all our acceptance of ourselves as we are.”
[KIM RETURNS TO WEDDING PARTY]
Randall: Thank you.
[REFLECTION & PHOTOS]
Randall: Before we move into the vows, I’d like to remind us all that this is a rare opportunity, perhaps the only opportunity in our lives, that each of us – family and friends – will be here together as one. Take a minute and look around. Savor this time. Like all of life’s important moments, this one will soon be a memory. At this time, Lyn would like to briefly pause and commemorate our time in this place with some photographs.
[KIM HANDS CAMERA TO LYN]
[Lyn snaps photos of guests]
Randall: I hope those turn out! [Ed. note: they did!]
Randall: Beau and Lyn, the symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed? Well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you’ll say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you’ll say to the world: this is my husband, this is my wife.
And now just before you say these vows to each other, I remind us all of what a vow is. A vow is a solemn promise, a pledge that binds. A commitment of heart, mind, soul and body. A commitment that recognizes this as the most important of human relationships, above all others. To give and to receive such a commitment is one of life’s greatest gifts.
Lyn and Beau, please join hands as you prepare to make these vows of love to one another.
[Beau reads vows]
[Lyn reads vows]
Randall: Please bring the rings forward.
[GROOMSMAN RETRIEVES RINGS AND BRINGS THEM TO BEAU & LYN]
Randall: Wedding bands are visible, tangible symbols of a couple’s commitment and of their emotional and spiritual connection. Many people talk about rings as being a perfect circle, having no beginning and no end. But we all know that these rings have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metals are liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees. The hot metal is forged, cooled, and polished. Something beautiful is made from raw elements.
Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It is the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all.
Lyn and Beau, let these rings serve as a reminder of the feelings you have in your hearts at this very moment. There are times in life that we tend to focus on the things we have not yet accomplished, there will also be times of great loss. Yet as you look at your wedding band, remember the great gift that you have been given and all that you have in one another. Remember that you have someone to share this life with. Never again will you walk alone.
Randall: Please present the rings to one another.
[EXCHANGE OF RINGS, “I WILL” STATEMENTS]
Beau: Lyn, will you love, support and challenge me, and be my closest friend, confidante and companion?
Lyn: I will.
Beau: I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you to be my partner and my best friend, until the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.
[places ring on finger]
Lyn: Beau, will you love, support and challenge me, and be my closest friend, confidante and companion?
Beau: I will.
Lyn: I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you to be my partner and my best friend, until the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.
[places ring on finger]
Randall: Lyn and Beau, having witnessed your vows to each other with all who are assembled here, and by the authority vested in me, I announce with great joy that you are married.
[wedding party leads crowd in claps and cheers]
Randall: Friends, it is with great pleasure that I present to you, for the first time as husband and wife, Beau and Lyn.
Well, in the end the no cake principle stood. The DIY dessert plates , well… let’s just say that my resolve crumbled. Kind of like a crumb cake. Because marriage has clearly dulled my edge, and now I cannot think of a more clever metaphor than that.
I turned back towards the dark side of DIY because honestly, it was going to be cheaper than buying new plates and stands on which to present the desserts at the wedding, even if they were very basic. And I figured that what had gone wrong with the first tiered dessert stand I made was the the stems of the glassware were probably too delicate to be supporting a number of heavy plates, hence the the snapping and the breaking. I also figured that I could get around that by:
Limiting the dessert stands to just one layer; i.e., one plate and one glass.
Using sturdier glasses.
So with that rough plan in mind, we set off to hunt the thrift stores. At the first two stores we didn’t have much luck. I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted the damn dessert stands to look like, I just wanted them done. I mean, at this point we were three weeks from the wedding and we were drowning in our task list. So I’d go around the store, picking up any plate that didn’t sear my eyeballs or break my soul and holding it up for the beau to see. Eh? What about this? He’d always shrug: “I dunno.” So I’d sigh, and put it down. GOD. I JUST WANTED PLATES. WHY IS EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH WEDDINGS SO INFERNALLY DIFFICULT?
But then! Then. The third store we went to, I saw these:
I got that look in my eye.
$5 later, I walked out of the thrift store with these plates, plus five glasses and a doily. And the next store? Dear lord, I hit the motherlode:
I loved these things. The beau? He wasn’t incredibly enthusiastic about them. But he didn’t hate them either. And at that point all it really took was for one of us to like something in order to sway the other. So with his blessing, I went about grabbing up every plate I liked. Besides the ones pictured above, I also picked up a plate of Hoover Tower on the campus of Stanford University, a plate of Santa Barbara City High School, a Jimmy Carter presidential plate, a plain plate with a green stripe, and so on. It didn’t matter whether or not it matched any of the other plates. It didn’t matter what color it was. It didn’t even matter what size. I just got what I liked.
And in retrospect I think that’s the thing that really worked for us about the wedding: we didn’t buy something unless we liked it. Sometimes this caused frustration, like all the times we went searching for something only to walk away empty handed. But when it worked, it really worked.
As for the glasses, I tried to get them in a variety of heights so that the dessert stands wouldn’t be all on the same level. I picked up old jars, old drinking glasses, decorative candy dishes, decorative ice cream dishes — anything that looked like it was durable and solid enough to support a plate.
I just winged it. I didn’t really know what I was getting, or how much of it to get. In addition to the plates and glasses, I ended up getting some basic serving trays at the thrift stores, too. We spent about $0.30 to $3.00 on each item.
Two days before the wedding, we broke out the Plumbers’ Goop and made an impromptu assembly line: I picked out which plate and glass went with each other, and the beau glued them together. It went pretty fast, I think. In all, it wasn’t that bad of a project.
Also, I want to just say that Fabio took such a keen liking to the Jimmy Carter presidential plate that I gave it to him the day after the wedding. Thanks for coming! Here’s your commemorative dessert stand.
Okay okay okay, and what about the desserts you actually put on them, you say? Well, I should tell you that we had five pies: two apple, one cherry, one pumpkin, and one mixed berry. We also had about four dozen peanut butter cookies, about six dozen miniature brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar, one dozen vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, and one dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. Sounds like a lot, huh? Sounds like we got in way over our heads.
Well. We had 95 guests, and not one dessert was left by the end of the night. In fact, I only got to have a taste of apple pie, and one peanut butter cookie. The beau? He didn’t get to try anything. Yeah. All gone. And I’m not really sure what happened, here. I saw my uncle stuffing cookies in his pockets, and I heard a story recently about my aunt wrapping some in a napkin and putting them in her purse. And maybe some of the staff ate some? And I thought I heard something about my brigadier taking part of a pie, or maybe a whole pie? I don’t know all the details. All I know is that EVERYTHING WAS GONE. This was good, because we weren’t interested in toting loads of leftovers back home. But this was also bad because my family is still like, I NEVER GOT TO TRY THAT PIE. Sheesh. You can’t please everyone so you may as well not even try.
And with that I think I’ll leave you with some shots of the desserts in action, courtesy of our photographers:
Tell me about your dessert plan. What did you do, or plan to do?
Photos 1-7 by me, of what dessert stands we have left (I kept a lot… I couldn’t part with all of them). Photos 8 and 9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Photos 10-14 by Christina Richards.
So. The guestbook. We didn’t have one in the traditional sense. But we also did have one! We did and we didn’t! At the same time! Oh, my god. I think a seam in the universe was ripped.
We knew from the start that we didn’t want a book that people simply wrote in. I just couldn’t really see our future selves ever bothering to pour a big glass of wine, pull that kind of guestbook down off the shelf, and snuggle up for a night of reminiscing over our guests’ signatures. Because even if they DID write a personal note next to their names, I knew that 9 times out of 10 it would be something generic like “Congratulations!” I knew that because I’ve been that guest. I mean, come on. You just walked into the reception. You may or may not have already been handed a drink. You’ve spotted someone you haven’t seen in a while over in the corner. You’re on the spot. What are you going to do? Scrawl the first thing that comes to mind and flee. Like I said: I’ve been that guest before.
So we didn’t want a regular guestbook. We wanted a creative guestbook. Which: sounds easy, right? Like maybe I’ll just go to Amazon, conduct a search for “creative guestbook,” and toss that thing in my virtual cart. DONE, right? Except not so much. For months, I was stumped. Months and months. I was crazy about Bowie Bride’sMad Lib guestbook, but at just a couple of weeks before the wedding my brain was starting to disintegrate, and the thought of coming up with a storyline and printing out the sheets of paper was too much to deal with. And I probably would have just copied Mouse’s idea for a wish tree (sorry, Mouse) and used that as our guestbook if I’d heard about it before our wedding, but… I didn’t. All of a sudden my indecision was catching up with me and I was getting desperate. I just wanted to figure it out already, dammit.
And then, just like that, the beau had an idea. An idea that incorporated our desire for a photobooth with our need for a “alternative” guestbook: why not get an instant camera and let the guests take photos of themselves and sign them? Hmmm. Why not, indeed?
Once we had ironed out the details and addressed some questions (how will we make sure guests know what to do, how do we make sure guests don’t waste all the film before everyone has their turn, and so on), we researched and bought the Fujifilm Instax 210. We settled on it mainly because 1) the prints featured a large white border upon which guests could write, and 2) it was one of the cheapest instant camera options. We paid almost $200 for the camera and additional packs of film on Wal-mart’s website. I am not normally the hugest fan of Wal-mart but it was the best deal we could find, and besides, weddings are anything but normal. And at that point in the planning process I could barely hear myself think over my coping mantra, which went something like I DON’T CARE WHAT IT IS OR WHERE OR HOW WE GET IT AS LONG AS IT’S DONE.
Here’s a list of the supplies we gathered for the setup:
The camera, extra packs of film, and extra batteries.
Archival pens and archival notecards, in case someone felt inspired to write something that required more space than the border of a photo.
A sign explaining the situation. Read the full text of the sign here.
Props: a mullet wig, a cowboy hat, a giant sombrero, a paper umbrella, a plastic flower lei, and three pairs of cheap aviator sunglasses. We got some props from a friend, the sombrero for $5 at a thrift store, the aviator sunglasses for $9 on Amazon, and we already had the mullet wig and lei.
A container in which to store the props, which ended up being a small antique suitcase that we borrowed from a friend.
A container in which guests could drop their photos and notecards, which ended up being a retro bowling bag that we borrowed from a friend.
Labels so that everything was clear.
So. How did it turn out? I’ll let you see for yourself:
And here are some shots of what happened when the guests got their hands on these things.
Things that worked about this guestbook:
We got to see photographic evidence of our guests having fun when we weren’t around.
Guests were enthusiastic about the process and had fun.
People actually used the props. Like, REALLY used them. A lot.
Guests actually used the props when they weren’t even taking pictures. Especially when it was later at night. And they had been drinking. Kind of like this:
BUT. There were also things that didn’t work so well about this guestbook:
Not everybody participated. Nearly everybody did, but my side of the family in particular were standing in a clump at the opposite end of the courtyard, and I didn’t have the presence of mind at the time to encourage them to go over and make sure they “signed” the guestbook. Yeah. Hardly a travesty, but I could have handled it better. I could have perhaps had the DJ make an announcement or something, you know?
Maybe it’s because the sign urged them to conserve film so that everyone got a chance to have their photo taken, but we put like six 20-packs of film out — the equivalent of 120 prints for about 95 guests — and we got half of them back. People really took that note to heart, I guess. Here’s where I wish, again, that I would have handled it better. I wish I would have thought to check in on the amount of film we had left later in the night and encourage our friends to use it up. Think of the photos we could have gotten!
The notecards we put out were pointless. We got maybe a grand total of three back. Everyone wanted to write on the photos themselves. Which leads us to the biggest drawback about our guestbook…
The pens. The pens. We went and got archival pens so that the writing on the photos wouldn’t fade over time, so that we could tuck our guestbook photos away in an archival album and have them forever. And these particular pens? They did not like the glossy surface of the prints. Instead of preserving the writing for years to come, this ink immediately smudged and made the writing illegible. See?
Oh, my heart aches whenever I pull these photos out and see the ink smeared all over the place. Why didn’t we test the pens? Why didn’t I just know that type of pen would smudge on a glossy surface? I mean, did know. I have a fucking art degree. I have worked with ink on various surfaces before. But I didn’t think about it. I had wedding brain. Feverish, horrid, scrambled-eggs wedding brain.
The pens are my biggest, baddest regret from the wedding. Still, I’m glad we did our guestbook this way. Even if not everyone had their photo taken, and even if we have no clue what they inscribed to us at the time, we now have photographic evidence that our guests are total goofy nutballs.
But I guess I already knew that, or I wouldn’t have invited them.
Photos 1-3, 5, 6, and 10 by Christina Richards. Photos 4, 7-9 by Aaron Rosenblatt. Last three photos by our guests!
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:
Annnnnd one last neat one of our friends checking out the photo line whilst I loom like a blurry specter in the foreground:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.