Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And then, of course, there is the best that comes out. Like my amazing little sister and best lady. She and I aren't the kind of siblings that talk once a week or even once a month (though we SHOULD!) but when we need each other we are there 100%. She is a frequent stalker *hem hem* reader of this blog and wrote me a kind and supportive email this morning. It's really nice to have one family member on my side. She is now dubbed Best Lady aka Wedding Mediator aka Master Cake Tester. That's right...the lucky duck has said she will go around tasting cakes for me since I can't. I'm sure she's real torn up about it.

And then there are you guys. Thank you thank you thank you for being on my team. I half expected you guys to tell me to stop being such a whiny brat but you were totally sympathetic and your comments made me feel 100 times better.

After venting over tequila last night, I gathered my thoughts and wrote an email to both parents. I am more than willing to compromise on this matter but I had to make them understand that we need better, more open communication. It's hard enough already trying to plan this thing from a different coast. I hope they get it. As long as there are no giant ice sculptures when I show up I'm good.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rant #3738975934875198345

It is true that the wedding planning process brings out the worst and best in people. Here is my little story about some of the worst:

Last week, Captain's father called us and asked us why the reception musicians cost $1000. Reception musicians? There are no receptions musicians. "No, no, no" we explained to him. My mother wanted to have ceremony/cocktail hour musicians so we agreed to that but we don't want reception musicians. We really want to just do an iPod. There must be some mistake with the cost. I know one hour for two musicians should not cost $1000. So I email my mother and ask her what was going on. "The cocktail hour musicians do not cost $1000." That was her only reply. No further explanation on how much they are or anything. So, OK, we let it go and didn't think about it again. Then today I call my mom and ask her about the cocktail hour musicians and when they are expecting to play, etc. "Which musicians?", she asks. "Um, the only musicians that are supposed to be there, right?" "Oh, well didn't your father talk to you about that?" Um, no. Well, turns out that she went behind our backs and booked this reception band which we explicitly stated that we did not want and then lied to me about it when I originally asked in the email then expected Captain's family to pay half the cost without even asking them about it. She also refuses to talk to me about or tell me, oh I don't know, what kind of music they play, when they play it, etc. Just flat out won't speak to me about it. She just tells me that if we are asking people to travel and get hotels then we should be doing something nice for them. The truth is she is having some sort of wedding pissing contest with the neighbors and has turned my intimate, backyard, non-WIC-y wedding into a show.

Now don't get me wrong. We are beyond grateful that both sets of parents are contributing as much as they are and are doing so much for us. If my parents had called us and said "ya know, we really want to have this band and let's compromise and they'll play during dinner and maybe a little after and then you can play Bon Jovi to your hearts desire" then we probably would have been fine with it. But the fact that they never told us anything about it, lied to me when I did find out about it, are still keeping us in the dark and expecting his parents to pay half is ludicrous. It is deceitful and rude. And, of course, my relationship with my parents has never been smooth n' easy. I can't seem to talk to them about anything that isn't hunky dory happy without one of us or all of us screaming and hanging up the phone.

It has boiled my blood so much so that I'm ready to just tell our friends to meet us in NY and spend the money staying at the Ace and dance all night long.

And I had just reached my Zen moment too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cori and Zach: A Recap Part II

And now a little something from Cori!

"My parents really supported the idea of us just eloping, taking the money that would have been spent on the wedding, & saving it for later. They were married by a justice of the peace in my grandparent’s living room & had around fifty guests. When I look through my parent’s wedding album, I’m filled up with the tenderness of such a small ceremony & the absolute connectedness of each person in that room to them. When Z & I were pressured or felt stressed about not inviting more people, we came back to this idea of the intimate wedding over & over again. There were many many people we wished could have been there with us as we said our vows, as we danced & laughed & filled the day with the light of being bowled-over-in-love. But in the end, we really wanted to keep it to the first two ripples away from us—our immediate and immediate extended families. We invited friends that felt like family to us. When there were people who weren’t able to make it, we agreed not to add extra people. It’s really important to remember that while it’s true that it’s not a day just for you and you, it is your wedding and who you want to be right there as you take your vows is one of the most important aspects.

This leads me to talking about the ceremony. For Z & I, we both agreed that the ceremony was the kingpin of the day. People say over and over that whether you have hand-sewn napkins (we planned to and scrapped that, we ended up with compostable paper ones) or the perfect envelopes for our invitations, that none of those details matter on the day of your wedding. And it’s true, so few of those details will even register (you’re thinking bigger things!). But some kinds of details do matter. We had been to a wedding the previous spring where instead of the usual information offered in a program, such as who’s-who & the ordering of events, the bride & groom had explained some of the traditions involved in the ceremony, the history & cultural significance of their decisions & in particular, the role of the family & friends as witnesses to their marriage. I was stunned. We decided to craft something similar for our wedding as a way to include our guests & to focus on the ceremony’s meaning. We did not choose a specific religious attitude, but included a mixture of traditional Jewish & some of our own new traditions. We used out programs to let our guests know what each aspect of the ceremony meant to us. The programs were five cardstock petals connected by a dark brass brad & the backs had the same vintage wallpaper print of our invitations. Each petal explained an aspect of the ceremony. We wrote our own vows, the same for each of us, and that felt like creating a type of unity in our beliefs towards our coming marriage. The crate sealing aspect of the ceremony involved our future respect for the difficulty of marriage, and having our siblings seal the crate with us felt like a moment of physically connecting our families. The programs connected our actions to our guests. And, it’s not about having a crazy cool ceremony. It’s about doing what makes most sense to you and your partner. We didn’t have a scheduled super organized aisle walk (we walked up together) or dogs or fireworks. It was just about us and the traditions we felt would mark our marriage. After the wedding was over, weeks and weeks into our marriage, whenever our parents or friends talked to someone from the wedding, one of the things that came up over and over was the ceremony. People had felt the ceremony was so unusual & intimate & that they had felt it was something they would remember for the rest of their lives. The idea that by choosing our own traditions & sharing their meaning to our guests could make that day memorable for them made the ridiculous detail of those programs worth it. So feel free to lose the vintage stamps, which won’t be remembered by almost anyone but you, but remember to take your time working out your ceremony, and to enjoy it—that was easily the fastest part of the day! Try not to take everything too seriously—there were parts of our ceremony that were truly comical (Z having to keep at hammering his corner of the crate for a few minutes because he bent his nail). These moments broke up the sort of emotional, tear-y aspects in a good way. All in all, the wedding day was intense & wonderful. But the best part was the utter non-describable feeling of the ceremony (& post kiss the surprise of Z pulling an egg from my ear, a magic trick he had done when he proposed). That is the reason you are making all these wild decorations & compostable plate decisions. So, whatever you do, plan your ceremony. Do a small run-through with your officiant (our friend who married us made us do this despite our protests & it really helped!). It will help ensure that you feel like you are there, in the moment, because that is the real thing people— those moments, that is getting married.

My regrets involve the lead-up to the day. Since Z & I chose to get married in Ithaca, meaning neither of our families were nearby to help (Z’s parents drove from Halifax, Nova Scotia!), the week before the wedding was chaos. Family members started to arrive & a lot of the DIY projects were still un-finished. Much of the week Z & I found ourselves away from each other. I’d be working on finishing the programs while Z put up the tent at our friends for the day-after brunch. All in all, we spent very time with each other in the days before. And let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being away from the person that makes you feel least stressed when you are stressed out of your mind. Our plan to take two hours the day before to be alone in the hotel room and regroup and get excited was easily squashed by our wanting to help out with everything (one of the hardest aspects of DIY venue is that we needed to be setting up the night before but couldn’t get in until after 8pm). We should have asked someone to help protect our time and make sure we left. Because we ended up roped into so much that we didn’t get that space at all. As a result, when small things started to add up—all my wedding jewelry and makeup was misplaced & no one could find it, there was a party going on in our venue the night before—neither of us felt centered by the time we returned to the hotel that night (at like midnight) and we were both on edge. That was my scary most not myself moment. While the wedding turned out staggeringly beautiful, one of the most thrilling & fun days of our lives, we were more exhausted than we should have been by a lot. If you can’t afford a day-before/day-of coordinator, ask a friend to help make sure that you get where you need to be to relax and enjoy (like leaving the wedding, which was another space that we should have asked someone to make sure we got out of there!). Our friends & family did crazy things for us, like clean hundreds of mason jars, strip labels of wine bottles for water, clean public bathrooms & windows, & string thousands of lights. Any one of them would have been glad to take on the task of helping us get out of there, or not fielding phone calls on the day of the event (not fun to be getting your makeup done and trying to deal with venue messes like bright orange caution fences suddenly up in your lakeside ceremony spot). We just didn’t think to ask! So, ask someone to be your protectorate. Tell them the your desired schedule and your limits and ask if they can help get you away from family & setup if you need to. Because you do!

When it comes down to it, many things went wrong—transportation to the wedding, printing our vows, someone slamming our 1920s typewriter, the music, forgetting to set up the croquet & lawn games, giant orange fences, goose-poop in our ceremony site (we found out later that my dad hand-picked up piles with ziplocks that morning), not dancing with my dad—but so many things went beyond amazingly. And so many things were not what we expected in incredible ways. And the next day—we were married!! Waking up next to Z & seeing his wedding ring—that made everything else that went wild disappear. For us it was all about the ceremony & then about the wild laughing, drinking, ridiculous thriller-dancing that happened for the rest of the day. The details seem beautiful in photos, and lent the day a certain Z&C air, but on the day, it is more about just about everything else you can think before any of that stuff.

As a final note: we can’t stress the photobooth enough—we set up one with Polaroid spectra and a remote, and guests were thrilled and often asked us to come take a few shots with them—meaning, we were spending time with everyone, even if briefly, that afternoon. Our photographs from Brion are wonder-lovely, filled with unexpected moments & we can’t wait to see the full set, to tuck them with other mementos into an album."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cori and Zach: A Recap Part I

Awhile back I promised you guys a recap from this couple. I'm happy to say that the recaps are finally here and, boy, are they! I love that they both wanted to participate in the process of remembering and sharing instead of just the bride which is usually what happens. So the first part of this post will be dedicated to Zach and his thoughts on the day.

"The wedding blogosphere, like much of wedding culture in general, is pretty focused on the bride’s experience. There is a whole fairytale/fantasy aspect of a wedding, that I think grooms (or at least I) can have trouble understanding (though C definitely had no idea of it when we first started either, she had never imagined a wedding & originally wanted to just get married in her parents’ backyard). In any case, a rad DIY, blog-chic wedding expresses a very different kind of fantasy from The Knot & wedding industry complex, but it’s still very much about bringing a certain kind of fantasy party to life. I’m not trying to suggest that there’s anything bad about having a super designed, DIYilicious wedding—our wedding was exactly this kind of DIY & one of the greatest days of my life—and the planning, effort, and details all contributed to the day. But not having the same design urge made a big difference in how I approached the wedding and how I planned for it. Before starting the planning, I hadn’t really thought of thew design aspects at all. My parents had a cooker-cutter wedding that was planned by my grandmother, whereas Cori’s parents had a tiny in-house wedding and her sister (& brother-in-law) had a very personal crafty wedding. For me, my idea of a wedding was more about the start of a committed marriage & somehow I hadn’t really thought about the event as a day. Planning out the myriad details wasn’t part of my initial picture. For me, at least, it’s one of the most important things to understand as a groom. The party is part of the process.

How it felt for me: imagine that from the time we were children people were told that when they finally met the person they wanted to share their life with, and they wanted to commit themselves to each other, instead of having a “wedding” we had to star in a personalized action movie with our fiancée. We needed to hire special effects people, create a soundtrack, learn a little bit of martial arts or some smooth getaway moves. There, of course, would be hundreds of magazines dedicated to the details of the fun parts of the movie, the costumes, the locations, etc. For those who find the action movie too cliché, or just not the kind of way they want to start their relationship, they could turn down the action industrial complex, and turn up the craftier/artsy side—do something more independent, more silent movie-esque or maybe something more trashy b-movie. Now imagine that your partner-to-be and you are planning your movie together. She’s excited about it, because of what it represents for your relationship, and she wants to take an active role and have it be a truly mutual movie. But maybe it would be a little bit of a mysterious endeavor for her had she not really ever imagined starring in a certain kind of movie. Or not having really been privy to being included in the mass media aspects or ever even picked up an action movie mag. Which is to say, there’s not a lot of groom magazines or blogging going on.

So my above example is, of course, extreme, but it’s the best way I have to communicate a kind of uneasiness I felt during the wedding planning process. I wanted to be involved! I wanted everything to be truly mutual, but at the same time I had a lot of trouble getting myself fully into the wedding planning mindset (which scares me when I think about how I am already not your average groom, I’m an avid knitter and do most of the cooking, while C is more hammer and nails). The result was that, when it came to the details, I felt like most of the planning and creative ideas came from C. (Of course all of the big decisions: venue, food, officiant, etc. were completely mutual). We came together at the beginning of our planning process and talked about what we wanted our wedding to be. And we did a lot of brainstorming together. But I just wasn’t motivated to plug into the blogosphere, to pay attention to other weddings, and to plan aspects of the wedding style. Still, C didn’t plan anything without me. We always talked about everything before we made decisions, it’s just that I feel like C brought a lot more of what we eventually decided on, to the table. This is one of my biggest regrets with the wedding, was that I wasn’t more active when it came to this aspect of planning. C was really open for me to take a bigger role, but I felt like my unease with the weddingess (the wedding event, I felt no unease whatsoever about the marriage!) held me back from being a really equal partner. It also put a bigger burden on her to have to pick up the slack. Keep in mind though, this is about the DIY aspects, not things like the ceremony which was top-to-bottom a mutual emotional collaboration. But, in the end, be involved as you can and be up front about why the process might be weird partners!

On the other hand, I feel like the actual wedding-work was doled out mutually when it came to the actual doing. And I think this is important for grooms to keep in mind. If you agree to have those handmade paper decorations that are compostable, do not make your fiancée craft alone. If you don’t want to craft with her, maybe you two should try an alternate plan. We worked on virtually all of the craft projects 50/50, though we did try to play to each other’s strengths. (I figured out how to make the coffee filters into puffballs, and did the easier work of initially taping them together, C. did the more precise work of stringing them into garlands, and shaping them property). Some of the best parts about the wedding lead-up were the hours we spent taste-testing whoopee pie recipes, drinking old-school-cocktails, gocco-ing invites, favor tags, or stringing garlands. It’s serious quality time you are getting to spend with your partner, and in our case our friends, while working on the wedding. The making is one of the best parts of the planning.

The wedding as an event was one of the best days of my life. Lot’s of people seem to give the advice that you shouldn’t sweat the details. And its true that you shouldn’t sweat particular details too much. Stuff will go wrong, and that will be ok. Still, the mass of overall detail and planning does actually contribute to having a day with a really special feel. The wedding was ours, top to bottom, whether we included redundant blog details or not. Details can help make the day special, so it’s good to plan them out in advance. Just be prepared that a lot of them will fall apart in the end, and that’s ok too. And also, make sure to take time to look at the details on the whole that will matter for the day. Like what you say to your soon-to-be during the ceremony. Thanking your friends and family during the toasts. And picking out a suit you like—because seriously, you want to look slamming on your wedding day too, not just your bride."

{all polaroids from their wedding photobooth!}

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hanging out with this lady and drinking wine is a DANGEROUS combination. She somehow convinced me to spend a weekend (or five) making these coffee filter garlands for the tent. Hold on. Let me put it through the DIY reality check...

Do I have skills in this area?
Who has skills making crafts out of coffee filters?? Really? I'm sure I could figure it out so YES.

Do I have a detailed list of supplies and instructions?
Not yet but give me a couple minutes with my google docs and I'll whip one up!

Can I figure it out on my own without numerous trial and error purchases?
How hard could stringing together a few coffee filters be? Right? Right!??

Is it actually cheaper than purchasing the items?
Considering some Etsy sellers are selling 30" garlands for $12 (!!!) and a pack of coffee filters from Costco will probably run me $5 I'm going to say YES.

Am I going to need help?
Hell yes.

Have I enlisted helpers?
Since this was her genius idea...Miss Erin will certainly be up for the job!

Estimate how much time this project will take. Double it? Am I OK with spending this much time on this project?
I must be losing it....yes?

Now how many feet of garland do you think I need for a 40'x60' tent???? Who wants to come over and play with paper and string?

And here are the photos from the wedding for which Tend Living created those gorgeous pieces.
Anyone who has walked into Pigment in North Park has seen the work of Tend Living. Gorgeous succulent creations hanging from the ceilings and the walls. I was super excited to find out that Tend Living not only has a blog but is also venturing into sustainable arrangements for

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vendor Love

I don't want to brag or anything but I kind of have a lot of talented, amazing friends. I've started a little Vendor Love section over there on the right to support them and their phenomenal work. This is NOT a paid or sponsored section. This is just because I luff them. So go check them out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I should have put the Napkin Project through the DIY Reality Check first!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ceremony Search Part I

Our dear friend and officiant is so much more on top of it than we are. He calls us asking for updates on the ceremony and we have yet to sit down and really discuss what we want to do. I've had the first draft of my vows written, or at least thought, out since day one and they are pretty close to being complete I think. We have NO idea how we want the rest of the ceremony to run though (short hopefully). So I've been doing some searches and maybe when we both have time we can go through and see what we like best. Indie Kvetch has a pretty extensive list of real vows - traditional, non-traditional, religious, pretty much whatever you need. I have seen a few ceremony samples that follow a multiple "I do" format. I kind of like the idea of saying "I do" to a set of personalized questions rather than the traditional "in sickness and in health" spiel. Here is an example:

Malina: Megan and Bob are excited today not only because they can share their love for each other, but also because they have the opportunity to express their aspirations for the future. Megan and Bob, do you promise to help each other to grow, cultivating compassion, generosity, and patience, continuously challenging each other to become better people?

Megan and Bob: We do.

Malina: Do you promise to seek to understand yourselves, and each other, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all life with curiosity and joy?

Megan and Bob: We do.

Malina: Do you promise day to day, to be patient with yourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually, and to seek inspiration not to become discouraged?

Megan and Bob: We do.

Malina: Do you promise to remain optimistic that you can achieve your dreams both together and independently? Do you promise to help each other achieve your goals and hold each others’ hands through successes and failures?

Megan and Bob: We do.

Malina: Do you promise to always laugh, make each other smile and never take life too seriously? Do you promise to see your life together as the adventure that it is, full of challenges and new experiences, delicious food and great friends?

Megan and Bob: We do.

Malina: I now invite Bob and Meg to exchange rings.

Him: Take this ring as a reminder of all my promises and a choice, made every day, to be in love.

Me: Take this ring as a reminder of all my promises and a choice, made every day, to be in love.

Malina: No one but you can declare yourselves married, despite the rights my online ordination by the Church of Universal Life may confer. You started your lives together 3 years ago and start the rest of them today.
Begin this crazy thing called marriage then, with a kiss.

BUT, as non-traditional as I can be sometimes, I really like the idea of repeating words that many other married couples have repeated before us. I think it sounds sort of sweet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I had a conversation the other day with an engaged friend about an argument she had with her fiance. I won't share all the details because that's her life and her business but I'll give you the general idea. It had to do with an element of the rehearsal dinner. She understands that since her mother-in-law is contributing to the dinner she doesn't get much of a say but there was just one little thing that she asked be incorporated. Unfortunately, her mother-in-law had the opposite idea and kind of nixed the suggestion. The fight came about when, though her fiance didn't care either way about the matter at hand, he wouldn't voice his support for his partner and speak up to his mom. I would understand if he agreed with his mother but the fact that he really didn't care about the outcome and still wouldn't speak up kind of got me thinking. I understand that some people don't like to rock the boat with their folks and cause any resentment but they're about to become a family, ya know. A unit. And if he can't stand up to his mother at this point in the process over a small detail what's going to happen later on when they have to make bigger life decisions and his mother doesn't agree with their choices? We're grown ups now. There has to be some separation from our mommies and daddies.*

I've found that, at times, wedding planning can be a little bit of us against the "world". Sure, the wedding is about our friends and family and not just about us (and I wouldn't want it ANY other way) but the thing that the wedding represents - the marriage - is about us and about us becoming this brand new, little family. And if my fiance wants to make a decision that his mother or father or my mother or father don't necessarily approve of then my loyalty will be with him (within reason, of course) and I expect the same from him. I don't know what I would do if he didn't have my back through this process. There have been a couple of tense conversations with my mom and he has always taken my side and been by my side and supported me.

I love my mother and father and sister and they will always be my family, obviously, and I will always take in to consideration their advice and ideas but, ultimately, when it comes to my relationship with my husband and our children (if, when we have them) the decision that he and I make as a family trumps all.

UPDATE: There must be something in the air. APW posted something similar (love the term mamadrama!).

*This is by no means an insult to my friend, her fiance or her mother-in-law to be. The dress rehearsal isn't the point. That was just the jumping off point for this bigger conversation I started having - with her, myself and my partner - about what it means to be a unit during the wedding planning and throughout the marriage. Of course, she isn't going to end things because of this argument. It was just a small disagreement that we ALL have at some point. But again...not the point.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So this is totally what I said I wanted to do months ago*. But I'm afraid I've been a little overwhelmed by the logistics. How does one let the guests know that they need to parade down to the ceremony and how does one start said parade? Is there a parade leader? Please I need a parade planner! Also, 120 puppets. K, thanks!

*sans puppets. Just a nice, relaxing stroll accompanied by music.
Oh Dad??? I know you're busy getting the house ready for the wedding and, ya know, living your own life and stuff, but could you make me a mason jar/board chandelier thingie? K, thanks!

{via smp}

How much is your time worth??? Is it really worth it to slave and sweat and pour out blood and tears over these DIY projects just to save a buck or two or to feel like a you are having a "crafty wedding"? Once, a long, long, long time ago, I thought so. I thought I was superwoman and could work a full-time+ job, work a part-time self-employed job, plan a wedding from 3000 miles away AND make every single project myself. I'm good but I'm just not that good.

I almost dropped my Scandinavian-inspired, mass-produced curtain rod when I saw napkins almost IDENTICAl to the napkins I was planning on making myself (yes, sewing 120 napkins! Was I nuts??). On top of that, they were the same price as the fabric I had bought. So do I start a project that I KNOW will take me countless hours to complete and probably cause me to breakdown multiple times but will save me some cash and bragging rights or do I say screw the $$ and my pride and give in by bringing in a *gasp* non-DIY element.

Sure, the napkins won't PERFECTLY match the fabric we are using in the invitations (did I REALLY think anyone would notice???) but my sanity will be THAT much more intact.

So basically what I'm saying is this...if the project sounds super fun like...oh is it terrible that I can't think of a super fun DIY project right now?...then by all means do it instead of buying some mass-produced crap from Michaels BUT if you are dreading the hours and hours of time that you will need to put into doing something you hate (aka sewing) then screw it. Cut yourself some slack and go to IKEA.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Also, strings of globe lights are mother-effin' expensive. Anyone know where one can find a bunch without spending millions of dollars? Otherwise we will have no light!
UPDATE: Thanks for all your advice and comments, y'all. I had looked online and at target and stuff. I guess I was just naive and thinking I wouldn't need to pay hundreds of dollars for lights. Maybe there is a Christmas light black market out there? Sharing the cost is a super swell idea and I think I'll start schmoozing now. For anyone else looking here are the sites I've found and others have sent my way:
Party Lights - best deal?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Anyone in San Diego here? I need to borrow/rent some milk glass vases in June! I'll take real good care of them, I swear.